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.

97B6CCB4-8F90-400C-A6CE-04261544DDD6

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/

Round up of the Creative Writing Skills book tour

I literally have no idea how to start, but I wanted to thank all the amazing book bloggers who took my Creative Writing Skills Workbook on tour! I’m thrilled with the response it’s received, not to mention the many requests for more books for different ages, pocket-sized books, and also a grown-up workbook.

Creative Writing Front Cover

Anyway, the formatting is lousy but here are all the links – happy browsing 🙂

Thanks again,

Lexi

Blog Name Blog Tour Content
Laura’s Interests https://dogsmomvisits.blogspot.com/2019/10/creative-writing-skills-by-lexi-rees.html
Mai’s Musings https://maitaylor567291325.wordpress.com/2019/10/07/creative-writing-skills-lexi-rees/
Broad Thoughts From A Home https://broad-thoughts-from-a-home.blogspot.com/2019/10/book-review-creative-writing-skills-by.html?fbclid=IwAR0GPVM-1wVdK64ybYHBrZ9aNioxOTbqsY-c1X1TZZU7JkCgArEkehvCJmk
Babydolls and razorblades https://babydollsandrazorblades.wordpress.com/2019/10/07/book-reviewcreative-writing-skills-over-70-fun-activities-for-children-by-lexi-rees/
Historical Fiction with Spirit https://jennifercwilsonwriter.wordpress.com/2019/10/07/book-review-lexi-rees-creative-writing-skills/
Radzy Writes http://www.vainradical.co.uk/blogs/creative-writing-skills-review/
B for bookreview https://bforbookreview.wordpress.com/2019/10/07/creative-writing-skills-lexi-rees-promopost-blogblitz-rararesources-lexi_rees/
Love the Smell of a Book https://lovethesmellofabook.com/2019/10/07/review-today-we-are-really-excited-to-be-joining-the-blog-blitz-for-creative-writing-skills-by-lexi-rees-creativewritingskills-backablogger-blogblitz-rararesources-lexi_rees/?fbclid=IwAR0tlEilKcClMsdL5cpyKtzMXRvB3mqeGNdVM69NW9AB0jmTuPjm1puhIPc
Southern Girl Bookaholic https://www.southerngirlbookaholic.com/2019/10/creative-writing-skills-by-lexi-rees.html
World Geekly News https://worldgeeklynews.com/books/creative-writing-skills-by-lexi-rees-review/?fbclid=IwAR3_6qsFenN892F7vRuxOr-XGd_CiddwavzNe3ub_iS1BKqyTApm2-ZIh6c
Through Novel Time & Distance https://scarlettreadzandrunz.com/blog-tours/2019/10/6/creative-writing-skills-over-70-fun-activities
Bookworm for Kids https://bookwormforkids.blogspot.com/2019/10/creative-writing-skills-over-70-fun.html
Jazzy Book Reviews https://bookreviewsbyjasmine.blogspot.com/2019/10/creative-writing-skills-by-lexi-rees.html
donnasbookblog https://donnasbookblog.wordpress.com/2019/10/07/blogblitz-bookreview-for-creative-writing-skills-by-lexi-rees-rararesources-creativewritingskills/
Reviews by Prisha https://prishayadav.blogspot.com/2019/10/creative-writing-skills-by-lexi-rees.html?fbclid=IwAR2NLdLKfwA7vyoedFXyLTfckfrihIlWvRkj17cxM9_WApm_wWuh_hIrQkU
Nesie’s Place https://nesiesplace.wordpress.com/2019/10/07/1dayblogblitz-creative-writing-skills/
Rachel Bustin https://rachelbustin.com/books/creative-writing-skills-over-70-fun-activities-for-children/
The Book Moo https://thebookmoo.wordpress.com/2019/10/08/blog-tour-creative-writing-skills-by-lexi-rees/
My baby and my books https://mybabymybooksandi.wordpress.com/2019/10/08/book-review-of-creative-writing-skills-by-lexi-rees/
Splashes Into Books https://splashesintobooks.wordpress.com/2019/10/07/creative-writing-skills/
Twirling Book Princess https://twirlingbookprincess.com/2019/10/blog-tour-book-blitz-creative-writing-skills-by-lexi-rees/
Cat and Mouse Reading http://catandmousereading.blogspot.com/2019/10/creative-writing-skills-by-lexi-rees.html?m=1#more
Linda’s Book Bag https://lindasbookbag.com/2019/10/07/creative-writing-skills-over-70-fun-activities-for-children-by-lexi-rees/
Herding Cats https://likeherdingcatsblog.wordpress.com/2019/10/07/creative-writing-skills-by-lexi-rees-blog-blitz/
Ellesea Loves Reading https://norwayellesea.blogspot.com/2019/10/new-release-spotlight-creative-writing.html
Dash Fan Book Reviews https://dashfan81.blogspot.com/2019/10/blog-tour-creative-writing-skills.html
Jane Hunt Writer https://jolliffe01.com/2019/10/07/creative-writing-skills-lexi-rees-4review-lexi_rees-rararesources-lexirees-outsetpublishing-creativewritingskills-childrensbooks-kidlit-nonfiction-workbook-writing-7-blogblitz/
The Photographer’s Way https://www.thephotographersway.org/creative-writing-skills-review/
Novel Kicks http://www.novelkicks.co.uk/book-review-creative-writing-skills-over-70-fun-activities-for-children-by-lexi-rees/

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/

Calling all budding entrepreneurs

You’re never too young to set up your first business, whether it’s the lemonade stand on the street or some fancy gaming app. My son has several business ventures up and running including break-time haircutting services for his friends at a bargain £3 (compared to £10 at the local barber shop). Sadly, the business plan collapsed as school were rather less than impressed by the resultant mullets and mohicans, but I was secretly quite chuffed with the initiative.

I’ve got a Creative Writing Workbook coming out in October, so I’ve been spending a lot of time in the non-fiction world recently and was excited to be offered a chance to review the Creative Genius Journal.

Creative Genius Journal cover

 

The blurb says

With 9 challenges that build the skills to help inform and develop a child’s resilience, imagination, improve their creativity, encourage drafting, sketching, reviewing and self-correcting of information and ideas. These are important, as alongside problem solving and working with others, they are the skills they will need for their futures.

But to my mind, it offers even more; it encourages those first steps towards launching a business. The activities include things like design a piece of apparatus for an adventure playground (the next Dyson?), or create a character to advertise a new drink (very Sir Alan Sugar/ The Apprentice). Each challenge draws in lots of aspects but they’re broken down into fun, manageable chunks.

GIVEAWAY TIME!

I want to have a go myself, but I’ve resisted and have a pristine copy to give away to one lucky reader (UK only, sorry).

You can enter here …

https://kingsumo.com/g/kd8d0c/creative-genius-journal

About the author

Susan O'Coonnor

Susan has taught for over thirty years in schools and colleges and has produced maths games and written several books for children and teenagers – ‘Mighty Memory Tricks’, ‘High Five Jive’, ‘Be Positive’ and ‘Creative Genius Journal’. These practical books are fun but have genuine educational benefit. Currently, she is writing for Bloomsbury Publishing.

 

Rocking the art

We’re well into the summer holidays now, so I thought it was time for some arts and crafts. Given the amazing weather, it had to be outdoorsy too, which means ROCK ART! My extended clan ranges from 5 to 15, so finding activities for all can be a challenge but this was a huge hit with everyone (including granny and grandpa).

We gathered the rocks on a hike (we’re currently up in Scotland and hiking daily, to some teenage mutterings). The 5 year old had ambitious plans that left his dad looking like Sisyphus pushing a boulder uphill in Greek mythology. The others had more modest sized selections. Back home, we decorated them using these

  • acrylic pens – I got a multipack plus silver and gold extra. The black ran out first, so next time I might get a spare as it was used to outline everything (I hadn’t realised that).
  • “>modge podge – we used the gloss finish but you can get matt if you prefer.

Several hours of painting and varnishing later, we had a large collection.

We then wrote the details of the local rock art FaceBook group on the back of each rock, to encourage people to share pics of when they found them, and hid them across the area (hike number two with absolutely no complaints from the teenagers). Just search for “rock art” to find the local group.

Here are some examples where we have hidden/ found rocks but there are loads of groups

Aboyne Pebbles & Rocks

Hidden Rocks Chichester

288a290f-3810-4643-9be3-d71a446b6f93

The next morning, I woke to demands of a repeat of the activity – result! More hiking, more art. Happy families 🙂

There was huge excitement as several rocks were spotted over the next few weeks and the finders very kindly shared pictures of their finds on FB, but sadly most of the rocks vanished without a trace. We consoled the kids with the fact that their art work was so good people wanted to take it home as treasure. If you do find any rock art, I would urge you to share a snap with the FB group as it really makes the kids’ day.

Enjoy!