Win a Gift Box of 12 Delicious French Macarons From Cake Cetera

I love baking with my kids (sometimes with mixed results), but I am delighted that one of my foolproof recipes for banana loaf features today over on Cake Cetera’s blog.

Set up in 2011 Cake Cetera are a wonderful cake company based in Hamilton, Scotland. The company was founded after discovering a lot of hospitals no longer allow flowers in the wards, instead Cake Cetera invented cupcake bouquets as a mouth watering alternative.

They have gone from strength to strength and now also specialise in cake push pops and french macarons which they deliver throughout the UK.

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And here’s the best bit, they have given me a box of their delicious 12 French Macarons to give away to one lucky reader.

Just enter via the rafflecopter link below (open to UK residents only)

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Shouty Kid – How Harry Riddles Massively Broke The School – Review and Giveaway

Shoutykid1 (2)I knew as soon as I glanced at the opening pages of the first Shouty Kid book – Shoutykid (1) – How Harry Riddles Made a Mega-Amazing Zombie Movie that these books would be right up my son’s street.

With mentions of zombies, facebook and gaming I actually wondered if my son had secretly written this and failed to mention it, unlikely though as like Harry Riddles the star of the Shouty Kid books my son talks, a lot!

We were asked to review the second book in the series How Harry Riddles Mega-Massively Broke the School (Shoutykid, Book 2).In this book we continue to learn about Harry’s hilarious life with his annoying sister Charlotte and his mum and dad who are constantly nagging him to play a real sport rather than zombie killing! But now there’s to be a new addition to the family and it’s not the X-box Harry was hoping for… it’s twins. So in an attempt to fix his problems of being rubbish at sport and the prospect of having to share a bedroom Harry does what he’s best, writes letters.

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The book is written in a style that will grab even the most reluctant readers imagination, in the form of the texts he sends, his emails to his cousin Charley his online gaming forum activity and of course the letters Harry writes to everyone (and I mean everyone), including sports stars, shop owners, the President of the USA and even baby Prince George, see below.

Dear Prince George,

It kind of sucks when your mum has a new baby and everyone’s like, ‘Congratulations, isn’t it great?’ and you’re thinking, ‘Not really, I might have to share my bedroom.’ But maybe you don’t have that problem? Don’t worry that your Mum and Dad will like the new baby more than you – they probably won’t and anyway you still get to be King one day so Ha! I won’t get my own country but I am better than the twins at X-box!

Good luck and have fun

Harry Riddle

P.S. Say hi to the Queen from me.

to think he is Harry 002 James loved this book, I don’t think either him or I have ever found a book that relates so much to the life of an average 9 year old, zombie killing, computer addicted boy .

So much so that he now seems to think he is Harry Riddles, well he already has the annoying sister and the cousin Charley, but there are no twins planned any time soon! At least he won’t have to wait too long for the next episode which is due out this August and in the meantime he has been having fun reading the updates on the Shouty Kid website http://www.shoutykid.co.uk.

If you’d like the chance to get your hands on a copy of How Harry Riddles Mega-Massively Broke the School (Shoutykid, Book 2), just click on the rafflecopter link below and one lucky reader will win a copy. (Open to UK residents only)

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Harry and Hope – Book Review and Giveaway

Harry and Hope is the latest book by Sarah Lean (author of Hero and A Dog Called Homeless), and we were lucky enough to get a copy to review.

Neither myself nor my daughter who read this book, though I have to confess to reading it afterwards, (I only meant to skim through it but got caught up) had read any of Sarah’s work before so we weren’t sure what to expect.

The story is set in the French mountains and centres around 12 year old Hope Malone, her mum (but referred to by everyone including Hope as Marianne), her mum’s boyfriend Frank and his donkey Harry, oh and not forgetting Hope’s best friend Peter.

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This story was especially poignant to us as in the story Hope and Frank have built up a great relationship, much like the one my own daughter has with my partner Mr B, and it really hit home how important these relationships become to children and how devastating a split can be not just to the adults but to the children involved too, especially if one of the adults is not a parent.

The subject is addressed in the story as Frank, aware that he has to move on helps Hope build a new relationship with his trusted donkey Harry, and although she still has difficulty with the parting she is given a new focus and someone who now relies on her to be strong and in turn helps her learn the skills to build a better relationship with her mum.

This is beautifully written, you can imagine the countryside, the huge dominating mountains and lush green meadows, as the story moves through the seasons, Hope moves on and changes with them.

Sad, moving but also heartwarming and uplifting this story is an example to all adults about not forgetting the effect their relationships have on the children and I loved it for that. My daughter loved it too, particularly the touching friendship between Hope and Peter (of course she loved that she’s a 10 year old girl) and of course because it has Harry the kind of pet every girl would love to have.

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If you’d like to hear an extract of the story you can listen here.

This is one of the nicest childrens books I’ve read in a while (a nice change from snogging, cheerleaders and text talk), Harry and Hope is now available on Amazon or in bookstores across the UK and I am pleased to say I also have a copy to give away to one lucky person. Just click on the rafflecopter link below to enter.

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All That Glitters: Geek Girl Review and Giveaway

Holly Smale’s Geek Girl series of books is a huge hit with my daughter and all her friends, and they are obviously not the only one’s judging by the facebook fan page which has over 14,500 fans! geek girlThe first Geek Girl book was released in 2013 and has gone on to become a massive hit, selling over 100,000 copies and collecting numerous awards along the way, but why do girls like it so much? Well mainly because it’s main character Harriet Manners is someone they can relate to, because despite having been thrust into stardom after being spotted by a top model agency she still has all the problems that go with teenage years. She’s super smart and has bagged a dream job but she’s still the same awkward, clumsy, seemingly unpopular girl she always was, she doesn’t wear the right clothes or say the right things and manages to upset her only true friend by stealing her dream job. It’s not just the storyline that appeals though, the books are littered with interesting facts and packed with humour, so when my daughter was given a change to review the newest book in the series she couldn’t wait to get her hands on it. All That Glitters (Geek Girl Book 4) The fourth book in the series follows Harriet into sixth form and back in Britain after adventures in America but still struggling from a recent breakup and her best friends being too busy to support her.

Rachel lapped this book up and I loved the fact that she was so absorbed that she was actually laughing out loud at times, but there is also some quite sad moments in this book which really seemed to get to her too. In her words “this was the best book so far, it’s funny but it’s more serious than the others too”. Don’t worry though it might be a bit deeper than the other books but there’s still plenty laughs, Harriets trip to Marrakesh is packed with funny incidents involving monkeys, snakes and camels and the facts are still there too, who knew a chocolate bar contains on average eight insect parts (that very nearly put me off my dairy milk). This book is easy, fun reading and touches on some very real topics, teenage friendships, heartbreaks and the fact that you can be very intelligent and still lack any common sense. You can get your copy now from Amazon

002n or most other book retailers or if you’re feeling lucky I  have a copy as well as pair of these fantastic Geek Girl glasses I can be seen modelling  here (don’t worry it’s not the same pair, I’m keeping them because I think they rock! ) to giveaway to one lucky reader, just click on the rafflecopter link below to enter. a Rafflecopter giveaway (open to Uk residents only, ends midnight 31/03/2015)

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Infinity Drake: The Sons of Scarlatti – Book Review and Giveaway

When we were offered the chance to review John McNally’s  – Infinity Drake The Sons of Scarlatti (book 1) my son jumped at the chance. After all anything with a ringing endorsement from his favourite author Derek Landy (author of the Skullduggery Pleasant series) on the cover was good enough for him.

This is the first in a series of books featuring Infinity Drake (or Finn to his friends), son of a mathematician (hence the name, it was either Infinity or E=MC2) and nephew to mad scientist Al. It is great fun, action packed and full of witty references to make parents and kids laugh out loud, my son particularly liked Al’s reprimand to Finn that “this isn’t an x-box game this is a life and death situation”, now where has he heard that  before (ok maybe not the life and death bit).

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The story follows Finn and his Uncle Al as they get caught up in a fight against a power mad villain determined to take over the world with a mutant bio-weapon – The Scarlatti Wasp.

What to do? Shrink a crack military team to take on the evil insect of course, only all does not go to plan and Finn ends up 9mm tall, well leading to fun, thrills and adventure on a tiny but also epic scale!

Want to hear a bit more? Here’s the trailer

James loves science and maths (he is a huge Stephen Hawking fan) so the sci-fi element of this book was totally up his street but you don’t have to be a science geek to enjoy this book, it has action, fights and a power crazed evil villian, what more could a boy ask for? James (age 8) did find it quite complicated to start with and perhaps a slightly older child might get into this a bit quicker but he soon got to grips with it and is looking forward to Finn’s next adventure.

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Infinity Drake: The Sons of Scarlatti is for sale now from Amazon and other book retailers but we have a copy to give away to one lucky reader, just click on the rafflecopter link below to enter.

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Open to Uk residents only

Make Mothers Day Special With Made With Love (review and discount code)

Everyone knows mum’s are special but sometimes we forget to tell them, so Mothers Day is the excellent opportunity to show them what they mean to you.

My mum always insists we don’t get her gifts at birthdays and Mothers Day because she has all she wants and also because she would rather I spent my money on her grandkids.

She does however appreciate a heartfelt card so this year I checked out some Mothers Day cards from Made With Love.

Made With Love are is an online boutique and design studio based in the UK who make cards for all occasions as well as wedding stationery and gifts that are just that bit more personal and special than the one’s you might find on the high street.

011The First thing I noticed about the cards was the quality, you can immediately tell that these are well made, the card is thick and each card has as satin finish insert page where you can choose to have a printed message or leave blank for your own words.

This arty design with it’s touching message “I Love You To The Moon And back Mum” comes in at £3.50 but for an extra £2.00 can be personalised like the one pictured below.

There is so much room to make these cards your own choice, you can choose to have it delivered to yourself or directly to the recipient and also choose and envelope or card presentation box.

mooncard1My favourite though was the Alice In Wonderland card, this gorgeous card comes with a bold design and clever wording, and the lovely red ribbon and envelope detail make it stand out from your average card, magical!

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This should keep me in mum’s good books for another year!

Mothers Day Cards are available to order right up till noon on Friday 13th March in time for delivery before Mothers Day and as an extra special treat I’ve got a 30% discount code for all of my blog readers which can be used right up until that time.

Just enter the code NOTINTHEMANUAL30 at checkout for a little Mothers Day treat from me to you!

What's Your Weekend?

Win 2 Great Books in Time for World Book Day

With World Book Day coming up on the 5th of March I thought it would be a good idea to host a giveaway to celebrate. Although my children are older now I believe their love of reading stems from being read to from an early age so I’d like to give someone else a chance to do the same with these 2 great kids books.

Wolfman by Michael wolfmanRosen, rrp £6.99

Wolfman has escaped! He is raging and rampaging around town, chewing up paving slabs and biting trees and generally being very terrifying indeed! Whatever can Wolfman want and who will be brave enough to ask…? Part of Barrington Stoke’s picture book range for all the family, with easy-read font.

All I Said Was by allisaidMichael Morpurgo, rrp £6.99

Imagination takes wing in this cleverly-crafted story about a boy who becomes a bird! A heart-warming and thrilling read with a powerful message about the power of books and stories. First of Barrington Stoke’s picture book range for all the family with easy-read font.

What was your favourite childhood book?

Just click on the link below to enter below and a winner will be drawn after the closing time of midnight on 02/03/15, good luck. Please note this giveaway is open to UK residents only.

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