Fresh Eggs & Dog Beds

I love audiobooks, especially when dog walking and especially non-fiction, so this was a double tick as soon as I saw it. I particularly love memoir narrated by the author themselves, but understand that’s a big task and not for everyone (certainly not me anyway). In fact the narrator was excellent – I’d definitely look out for anything else by him.

At times I forgot this was non fiction and was looking for a plot. Then again, as a memoir, I was expecting some life lessons, but it’s a pretty straightforward linear account. It is a little slow – five chapters before they even think of moving to Ireland and way more before they actually make the purchase – it’s a bit like watching one of those “Home or Abroad” or “Move to the Country” property search TV shows! If you enjoy those shows, this lets you see “behind the scenes” and you’re going to absolutely love it. It could have gone straight from his health wake up call/ redundancy into the action, but I guess by taking the slow road it’s left plenty of scope for book two. I wasn’t rolling around with laughter, just a gentle smile but, as a light, easy listen, I definitely enjoyed it and am looking forward to book two.

Blurb

Nick and Lesley Albert yearn to leave the noise, stress and pollution of modern Britain and move to the countryside, where the living is good, the air sweet, with space for their dogs to run free. Suddenly out of work and soon to be homeless, they set off in search of a new life in Ireland, a country they had never visited. As their adventure began to unfold, not everything went according to plan. If finding their dream house was difficult, buying it seemed almost impossible. How would they cope with banks that didn’t want customers, builders who didn’t need work, or the complex issue of where to buy some chickens?

Author Bio

Nick Albert was born in England and raised in a Royal Air Force family. After leaving College he worked in retail management for several years before moving into financial services where he quickly progressed through the ranks to become a training consultant. As a very passionate and reasonably talented sportsman, Nick had always wanted to use his training skills towards creating a parallel career, so in the mid 1980’s he qualified and began coaching sport professionally. After a health scare in 2003 and in search of a simpler life, he and his wife Lesley, cashed in their investments, sold their home and bought a rundown farmhouse in the rural west of Ireland – a country they had never before even visited. With little money or experience and armed only with a do-it-yourself manual, they set about renovating their new home, where they now live happily alongside a flock of chickens, two ducks and several unruly, but delightful dogs.
In 2017 Nick was signed to Ant Press to write a series of humorous memoirs about his life in rural Ireland. Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds (book one) was published in September 2017 and soon became an Amazon bestseller. Book two in the series was published on 1st June 2018 and book 3 in August 2019. Book four is due out in early 2020. Nick is also the author of the twisty thriller, Wrecking Crew, the first in a series of books featuring reluctant hero Eric Stone.

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https://www.facebook.com/NickAlbertAuthor/

Twitter @Nickalbertautho

Why Sparky made me cry!

Those of you who have followed my blog for a while will know I’m a big fan of Sue Wickstead’s bus themed picture books. Not only are they based on the real play buses which were around when I was younger, but she writes so nicely. This is an old-school, gentle, tale of inclusivity and it made me cry. I love it. In fact I’m welling up again just writing this.

My only niggle with Sue’s earlier books was they were quite text heavy for the age group, but this one is absolutely spot on.

There are not enough straightforward inclusivity tales for younger readers, and the fact this is based on a real story makes it even better. If you are wondering, the real buses were designed to be accessible for disabled children and the slide was originally intended to be a fire escape giving a fast exit for them. This book should be in every reception classroom.

And Princess Anne, who was a patron of the original project has a copy of it. Fabulous!

Author Bio

Sue and I at a very cold Crawley WordFest

Sue is an author and a teacher and has written six children’s picture books, all with a bus included somewhere. Having been able to share her first book, ‘Jay-Jay the Supersonic Bus’, she decided it was time to think about writing a book for younger readers.

Blurb

Sparky isn’t your typical double-decker bus. Behind the dragon and magical paintings, she’s full of fun and adventures for all children. Jump aboard to find out what makes Sparky so special.

Purchase Links

You can order on Amazon UK or US , or you can get a FREE 3D bus template with book orders from Sue Wickstead’s website or if you message her https://www.suewickstead.co.uk/

Get in touch

Facebook: -Author Page https://www.facebook.com/storiesSue/

Facebook  -Playbus page https://www.facebook.com/BewbushPlaybus/

Twitter https://twitter.com/JayJayBus

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jayjaybusbooks/

Web site : www.suewickstead.co.uk

Babushka – cover reveal

My sister and I adored the set of brightly painted Russian dolls we had as kids and my sister carried the “baby” around with her everywhere. I did have to google what Babushka meant – apparently it’s Russian for old woman or grandmother. Anyway, when this cover reveal landed in my inbox I got all nostalgic. Our set is long gone, but I found this image which is exactly how I remember them.

Blurb

Babushka hadn’t been in her homeland since she was a child. She went to the church with a suitcase, and the whole way, Babushka thought about how she would feel in Ukraine after so many years. She sang, and then she prayed. Amen. But Babushka was thinking of her trip instead of the Lord’s grace. After a long time pondering what to expect—if she would feel a sense of belonging—Babushka arrived in her homeland. Babushka had a lot of fun, but she felt like something was missing. She was homesick. “Babushka is Homesick” is a story about memories, family, and the true meaning of the word “home.”

“Babushka is Homesick” is the second children’s book in the Babushka Series. Everyone has their own stories, history, and the desire to belong. The first book, “Tell me a story, Babushka,” is a best-selling new release in Children’s Multicultural Literature on Amazon USA (Aug 2019), in which kids and adults will enjoy fun adventures and identify their own stories.

This folktale is ideal for ages 4-11 and perfect for teachers.

Purchase Links:

US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0848BP2SH

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0848BP2SH

About Carola Schmidt

Pediatric Oncology Pharmacist & award-winning author of children’s multicultural literature, such as Babushka Series, and children’s books about cancer, such as Chubby’s Tale: The true story of a teddy bear who beat cancer, and Bald is Beautiful: A letter for a fabulous girl. Springer Nature author with several scientific books published on pediatric oncology.

Twitter: @_CarolaSchmidt and @LovelyBabushka

Facebook: @MyLovelyBabushka

Argentina, polo and a dash of romance

This series is like catnip to me: travel, adventure, horses and a dash of romance. It’s literally my dream combo. I recently reviewed the Sweetbriars pony series for kids, so this time it’s a grown up horsey treat, but I must stress, you do not need to know anything about horses or polo to enjoy this series.

The series is based on the author’s own experiences and as it’s written in the first person and reads like a travel journal, I had to keep reminding myself that it was fiction.

The Polo Diaries starts with a list. I love a list, and this one is particularly funny, especially the order of priorities.

I connected with the narrator from the opening lines. She’s very Bridget Jones (it’s always a relief when a big claim in the blurb turns out to be 100% accurate) and I’m pleased she is older (at a mere 41) than the stereotypical mid-thirties romcom character. She’s a typical horsewoman – despite repeated broken bones, she can barely wait to get back in the saddle. Given I’ve skied with my arm in plaster cast, and yesterday was debating with a 9yo who has fractured her shoulder from a fall and is banned by the doctor from riding for a month, how long she really had to take off, I can totally relate to this. NOTE – this should not be considered medical advice – you must always listen to your doctor!!

The second book follows on so I would suggest reading them in order. The feeling of “home” when she lands back in Argentina is so strongly described, I’m practically packed and on the next plane to Buenos Aires.

Now I’m looking forward to reading more books by this author. You know when people ask you which author you’d like to invite to a dinner party, I’m definitely putting Roxana Valea on my wish list. Or perhaps we could just meet for a Campari and orange …

The Polo Diaries

Single in Buenos Aires, The Polo Diaries Book 1

Roxy plays polo… but dreams of love.
 Forty-one-year-old polo player Roxy arrives in Argentina with a to-do list that includes healing from a polo injury and falling in love with a handsome Argentine. From polo boots to tango shoes, the adrenaline of riding horses to glamorous after-game parties, Roxy learns to navigate this unfamiliar landscape with the help of new friends who teach her to take life as it comes. But will she find true love? Over three months in Buenos Aires, nothing goes according to plan, and yet, all the items on her list mysteriously get ticked off in the end. Just not the way she had imagined.

Fans of the Bridget Jones series will love the blend of humor, travel, and romantic comedy at the heart of Single in Buenos Aires, all topped off with the unforgettable flavor of life in one of the most sensual and passionate cities in the world.

A Horse Called Bicycle, The Polo Diaries Book 2

Roxy found love . . . but is it enough? 
In the second instalment of the Polo Diaries series, polo player Roxy goes back to Argentina a year after the events in Single in Buenos Aires, filled with dreams of settling down with the man she loves. This time, once again, Argentina is full of surprises and things are not what they appear to be. Or maybe they’re exactly what they’re meant to be, as a fortune-teller informs her.

Roxy takes a leap of faith and follows her dreams once again. She spends time at glamorous party venues of Buenos Aires and travels to the rough and wild pampas. Along the way, Roxy’s friends support and champion her quest for love, but when things get out of hand, Roxy realizes she needs to listen to her own inner voice and must make a hard choice. Two paths open in front of her, each one with far-reaching consequences. Which will she choose?

Author bio

Roxana Valea was born in Romania and lived in Italy, Switzerland, England and Argentina before settling in Spain. She has a BA in journalism and an MBA degree. She spent more than twenty years in the business world as an entrepreneur, manager and management consultant working for top companies like Apple, eBay, and Sony. She is also a Reiki Master and shamanic energy medicine practitioner.

As an author, Roxana writes books inspired by real events. Her memoir Through Dust and Dreams is a faithful account of a trip she took at the age of twenty-eight across Africa by car in the company of two strangers she met over the internet. Her following book, Personal Power: Mindfulness Techniques for the Corporate World is a nonfiction book filled with personal anecdotes from her consulting years. The Polo Diaries series is inspired by her experiences as a female polo player–traveling to Argentina, falling in love, and surviving the highs and lows of this dangerous sport.

Roxana lives with her husband in Mallorca, Spain, where she writes, coaches, and does energy therapies, but her first passion remains writing.

The Polo Diaries Author Photo

 

https://www.roxanavaleaauthor.com

https://www.facebook.com/RoxanaValeaAuthor/

https://www.instagram.com/roxanavalea_author/

https://twitter.com/roxana_valea

 

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07T8C3TN6/

US – https://www.amazon.com/Single-Buenos-Aires-Polo-Diaries-ebook/dp/B07T8C3TN6/

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B082P34YPF/

US – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B082P34YPF/

Hopping corn science experiment

I just had to share this cool science experiment from the fabulous Suzie at StemSpark. Is it just me, or is this like making your own lava lamp? Love, love, love it!

Anyway, here are Suzie’s easy peasy instructions …

You’ll Need a clear glass container popping corn water baking soda white vinegar food coloring (optional)

Instructions 1) Fill your glass container with water and add a couple drops of food coloring.

2) Add your baking soda and stir well until it is all dissolved.

3) Add a small handful of popping corn kernels.

4) Add the vinegar and watch the corn start to hop up and down!

Hopping Candy science experiment

The corn will hop up and down repeatedly in your container for over an hour.  It’s so much fun to watch (mesmerizing would be the best word to describe it). The experiment creates a great opportunity to talk about gases, liquids, and solids with your child.

Basically, the science behind the activity is that when the baking soda and vinegar combine, they react to form carbon dioxide (CO2) gas.  The gas forms bubbles in the water, which enclose the corn kernels.  The bubbles lift the kernels up to the surface, and when the kernels get to the surface, the bubbles pop, and the kernels sink again.

Story telling on Spirit FM

Most of you will know I ran an illustration competition for kids earlier this year – it’s a great way to engage readers and the community – and I’m passionate about getting kids writing, so I was really excited when I heard local author Lynne Healy had teamed up with radio station SpiritFM with a unique creative writing competition.

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Here’s Lynne to tell us what happened …

Earlier this year I was lucky enough to win an advertising package with Spirit FM, our local radio station. As I have created Birdham Bear to inspire children to find and express ‘their unique’ I thought a fun way to use it would be to run a creative writing competition for children in West Sussex. The brief was simple: children aged 11 and under were invited to write a short story, up to 500 words, on anything that inspired them.

Spirit were very impressed with the number of entries. Judging was a challenge as the stories were all so unique. In the end it was easy to choose Willow as the winner. She was one of the youngest entrants and her story was simple and fun with a delightful message of kindness that both. Birdham Bear and I loved. We also both agreed that we’d love to blow bubbles every time we speak!

The radio presenters recorded her story.
https://www.spiritfm.net/win/creative-writing-competition/

Camogie, Gaelic football and a giveaway

Here’s a little known fact about me – I played rugby for years. I wasn’t particularly big, but I was fast so I mainly hung around on the left wing, occasionally outside centre. I’m a big fan of girl’s sport so couldn’t let this book go past.

Before we get to the book, I really want to share the sporty background of author, Emma Larkin, as you’d think it provides the inspiration for the book.

Emily coaches ladies’ football at underage level with her local ladies’ football club and did attempt to play ladies football for a few years with her local “Gaelic4Mothers&Others Team”! She claims she may not have been the greatest football player, but, like me, she could run! And it was an hour each week where she could exercise in a fun environment with a fantastic group of women, who she remains friends with to this day.

But apparently that wasn’t the inspiration!

It was her grandmother, Maureen Hennebry, née Cashman who was on the Cork camogie (this is women’s hurling, a bit like hockey) team which won the All-Ireland Camogie Championship three times in row between 1939 and 1941. She came from a family rich in GAA history, the Cashman’s of Blackrock in Cork, and is even mentioned in the following poem by the famous Irish poet, Patrick Kavanagh:

Camogie Match

Patrick Kavanagh 1905 – 1967

Bright shone the sunlight on Peggy and Doreen

Wild swung the ash sticks.  Be careful astoreen;

Josie is getting into her stride now,

Kathleen is hurling with all her Cork pride now.

A shout from the side-line: Mark your man, Kathleen Cody.

Kathleen pucks it.  I tell you that puck was a dotie.

The game is exciting, it is indeed really,

Maureen Cashman is tackling the bold Ide O’Kiely …

Emma says

“In hindsight, I am in awe of the fact that my grandmother and her teammates played camogie at such a high level at a time in Ireland, where a woman’s role was predominantly to be a wife and homemaker. Which comes to my reason for writing this book, my grandmother was my inspiration to write it, but my reason for writing it was to encourage all young girls to play sports. It is crucial for our wellbeing and development and we need to make it as normal for girls to play sport as it is for boys. The growing popularity of women’s sports in Ireland and further afield is so encouraging and we need to continue to develop this. As the current 20*20 campaign says, “if she can’t see it, she can’t be it”. I hope that my book can in some way help to normalise girls playing football and that both boys and girls will enjoy reading about Izzy’s adventures!”

How cool is that?!

Right, on to the book.

Izzy’s Magical Football Adventure

izzys_magical_football_adventure_neutral_cover

Blurb

Izzy is a seven-year-old girl who lives in Ireland and loves all sport, especially Gaelic Football.

Izzy plays football with her brothers on a regular basis in their back garden and dreams of playing for her county in the All Ireland Ladies Football Final in Croke Park when she is older.

One day, Izzy puts on her great grandmother’s bracelet, which is made of old All Ireland medals that her great grandmother won a long time ago, and something unexpected and magical happens, which may make Izzy’s Croke Park dream a reality sooner than she expected…………….

My review

I did get a bit confused about the sport. Given the inspiration, I was expecting the book to be about camogie but it’s actually about Gaelic football, which is where the author is involved herself. Plus, it’s called football, but football in Ireland means Gaelic football, with “football” being called soccer.

For the avoidance of further confusion, Gaelic Football is an Irish sport. You can pick up the ball up in it and run with it in your hand, subject to certain rules. You can score goals or points (over the bar). It has similarities to Aussie Rules football which I love watching (never played it though). All 32 counties (ROI and NI combined) have both mens and ladies football teams, and many clubs within them as well.

Back to the book, I absolutely love that you can order it in team strip colours, as well as the “neutral” green.

I do have a slight issue in that it’s a bit tricky to categorise as it’s very short, only 27 pages and heavily (and fabulously, I must say) illustrated, which would make it a picture book, but the written pages are quite text heavy, so it’s more like a short chapter book, but there are no chapters. You see the dilemma? To me, it actually looks and feels like a school reading scheme book, and I’d say it’s a great supported/ joint read for anyone working through the “Biff and Chip” series.

Setting the classification aside, it’s a great story with a strong message and if you know a sporty young girl who’s just moving towards independent reading, I’m sure she’d love it. It beats the terribly dull Biff and Chip hands down, slam dunk! Sorry, that’s basketball.

I personally wish it had featured camogie (the inspiration for the book), but whether it’s camogie or Gaelic football, it will spark a fascinating discussion on different sports as well as gender, meeting the author’s goal to encourage girls into sport.

I think all classrooms would benefit from having it in their book box.

Giveaway

I have one paperback copy (in the neutral green strip) to give away – you can enter here

Win a copy of Izzy’s Magical Football Adventure

Good luck!

Purchase Links

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Izzys-Magical-Football-Adventure-Larkin-ebook/dp/B07XGS6D3G/

https://www.amazon.com/Izzys-Magical-Football-Adventure-Larkin-ebook/dp/B07XGS6D3G/

Author bio-

new author pic

My name is Emma Larkin, and I am the founder of “Emma Larkin Books” and “Rebel in Kerry Press”.  I have recently written and published my first book “Izzy’s Magical Football Adventure”, and I hope to write many more books about Izzy and her adventures in sport. As may be evident from the name of my publishing imprint, I am a “Rebel in Kerry”!  This means that I am originally from County Cork in Ireland, which is known as the Rebel County, but I moved to Kerry (another county in Ireland which neighbours Cork) in 2006 and have been happily living in Kerry since then, with my husband and four children. My husband is a Kerry native and we live in North Kerry, near Listowel, where my husband is from, and is an area which is rich is literary history!

I have always enjoyed reading and writing. Writing essays was my favourite part of primary school!

In my spare time, I love to run. I am very involved in my local parkrun in Listowel.  

For more info on any of the sports you might find these useful.

20*20 campaign – www.20×20.ie

Sport Ireland – www.sportireland.ie

Ladies Gaelic Football Association – www.ladiesgaelic.ie

Camogie Association – www.camogie.ie

Women in sport – www.womeninsport.org

Social Media Links

https://www.facebook.com/emmalarkinbooks/

https://twitter.com/emmalarkinbooks

https://www.instagram.com/emmalarkinbooks/