My very own website!!! Yikes!

#Project365 2023 week 49

Day 338: time to decorate!

Day 339: quick shopping trip but wouldn’t be complete without a giant bauble pic!

Day 340: Sugar is certainly the loudest and most affectionate of the guinea pigs

Day 341: front desk at the PTA disco

Day 342: pretty proud of my achievements in Duolingo and the rest of the family all did well too

Day 343: book club Christmas dinner. My meal was a non festive curry as there were no Christmas vegan and gluten free options.

Day 345: sleigh night for the Beavers

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Pure Evil, by Lynda La Plante (audiobook read by Nathaniel Priestley)

Roddy Middleton has confessed to some violent crimes but is now suspected of murder. Can Jack uncover is no evidence to prove Roddy is guilty?
Pure Evil is the 4th book in the DS Jack Warr detective thriler and police procedural series. I have previously read and reviewed the first three books in the series: Buried, Judas Horse, and Vanished.
A sick but charming killer has been targeting vulnerable young people. Evidence is scant but Jack is convinced that Middleton is guilty. His immediate boss is suddenly removed from the case and Jack needs to prove himself to his new superior as well as honour his mentor and friend.
I kind of love Jack Warr. There, I’ve said it. He pushes boundaries and the law to the absolute limit. But he has a heart of gold so I desperately want him to succeed in both his personal and professional lives which blur a little. His mentor Ridley is a friend but also a colleague. His wife Maggie is staunchly supportive but they are both worried about his mum. The relationships are so authentic and genuine.
The ending was great as the threads come together and Jack receives two bits of personal news: one left me with a tear in my eye, and the other a smile but both made me eagerly await the next book…
Pure Evil is an interesting and compelling crime thriller.

Pure Evil book cover

Book blurb:
The brilliantly gripping new thriller from the Queen of Crime Drama, Lynda La Plante – now available to pre-order in hardback, eBook and audiobook.
It was supposed to be a simple case: a young man arrested for armed assault.
But it was just the beginning.
As Rodney Middleton awaits trial, Detective Jack Warr is warned by his mentor DCI Ridley that they have only scratched the surface of the man’s crimes.
Then DCI Ridley is suddenly removed from his post. No one is to contact him – and no one will say why.
As Warr digs into Middleton’s past, Ridley calls pleading for help, now accused of a murder he insists he didn’t commit.
To catch a monster and exonerate his friend, Warr must weed out the lies. But what awaits Warr if he uncovers the truth?

The Familiars, by Stacey Hall (audiobook read by Katy Sobey)

TRIGGER WARNING: miscarriage and stillbirth
Fleetwood Sutherland is a 17 year old wife in the north of England during the reign of James I. She is pregnant for the fourth time but has lost her previous babies. She has found a doctor’s letter advising her husband not to get her pregnant again; advice he has ignored and she is devastated that he has put his desire for an heir above his love for her. Fleetwood finds a midwife, Alice Gray, but local women are being accused of witchcraft and Alice is in danger…
The Familiars is an historical book set in the seventeenth century but with bucketloads of emotion. My degree is in history and my dissertation was on witchcraft so I LOVED THIS BOOK!!!
I was totally absorbed in this book from the start. Fleetwood (terrible name, took me ages to get used to it) is so young but has already endured three pregnancies which ended too soon. Now she is terrified as her new baby grows and seeks a midwife for support. She cannot turn to her husband as he appears careless of her life at the expense of an heir.
The Pendle witch trials form the background to this book and Alice Gray is a genuine figure from this historical event. The tense atmosphere is sustained well as the danger grows. Fleetwood and Alice’s lives beome intertwined and they need to save each other to save themselves.
There is an important theme of women’s bodies and the desire of patriarchy to control them. The miracle of life and birth alongside the fear of death and the supernatural also underpin the plot. I felt that the historical, and some might say hysterical, elements to the book were accurately portrayed, from the depictions of hierarchical class and gender relationships to the witch-finding fervour of the 1600s.
The Familiars has drama and emotion with a brilliant cast of characters.

The Familiars book cover

Book blurb:
To save her child, she will trust a stranger. To protect a secret, she must risk her life….
Fleetwood Shuttleworth is 17 years old, married and pregnant for the fourth time. But as the mistress at Gawthorpe Hall, she still has no living child, and her husband, Richard, is anxious for an heir. When Fleetwood finds a letter she isn’t supposed to read from the doctor who delivered her third stillbirth, she is dealt the crushing blow that she will not survive another pregnancy.
Then she crosses paths by chance with Alice Gray, a young midwife. Alice promises to help her give birth to a healthy baby and to prove the physician wrong.
As Alice is drawn into the witchcraft accusations that are sweeping the North-West, Fleetwood risks everything by trying to help her. But is there more to Alice than meets the eye?
Soon the two women’s lives will become inextricably bound together as the legendary trial at Lancaster approaches, and Fleetwood’s stomach continues to grow. Time is running out, and both their lives are at stake.
Only they know the truth. Only they can save each other.
Stacey Halls is the Winner of the Women’s Prize Futures Award for her novel Mrs England.
About the author
Stacey Halls grew up in Rossendale, Lancashire, as the daughter of market traders. She has always been fascinated by the Pendle witches. She studied journalism at the University of Central Lancashire and moved to London aged 21. Stacey was media editor at The Bookseller and books editor at Stylist.co.uk, and has also written for Psychologies, the Independent and Fabulous magazine, where she now works as Deputy Chief Sub Editor. The Familiars is her first novel.


The Eden Park Killer, by Frances Lloyd

The Eden Park Killer book cover

A young woman is found murdered in a farm silo while a policeman’s wife finds her ex husband’s body in her catering van. Could there be a connection between two deaths so closely discovered and can Jack Dawes exonerate his wife?
The Eden Park Killer is the 11th book in the DI Jack Dawes series but it is the first that I have read. There are mentions of events that I asume featured in earlier books but no spoilers.
Two murders, a crime baron and a big drugs deal. There is a lot for DI Dawes to unravel. His own wife Corrie is implicated in one of the murders so he is forced to focus on the other death despite being convinced that the two murders are linked. The rather hapless officer put in charge of the ex husband’s murder is adamant that Mrs Dawes is guilty. Meanwhile Mrs Dawes herself is investigating alongside her friends.
The case itself held my attention even though we discover connections and culprits quite early. My enjoyment was then focussed on seeing how Jack, his opponent Crump, and Corrie work independently to solve the crimes.
I really loved this book and I want to catch up on Jack’s previous cases. There is a wonderful tone to the book with a gentle humour that softens the crime element. Jack and Corrie have a brilliant relationship with each other but also with the other police officers and friends.
The Eden Park Killer is an entertaining and dynamic police procedural and I want the next book NOW!
The Eden Park Killer blog tour banner
Sometimes you can just murder your ex. But would you?
Corrie Dawes is exhausted after a long day catering for the wealthy residents of exclusive, gated Eden Park.
She pulls open the back of her delivery van and screams. Inside, a man’s body lays face down in a bowl of leftover trifle — with one of her vegetable knives lodged in his back.
She immediately calls her husband, Detective Jack Dawes. When he arrives they discover the victim is none other than Tom Broadbent, Corrie’s ex.
Corrie hasn’t seen or spoken to Tom in over twenty years. What is he doing in Kings Richington? And more importantly, how has he wound up dead in her van?
Jack’s been warned off the case, and the investigation is handed over to surly Detective Crumb. He’s convinced Corrie lured Tom to her van and killed him — and he’s determined to prove it.
It’s up to Corrie to clear her own name. Can she find the real killer? Or will she pay the price for someone else’s dirty work?
This entertaining and absorbing mystery is perfect for fans of Agatha Christie, L.J. Ross, J.R. Ellis, Ian Moore, Catherine Moloney, Richard Osman or Faith Martin.
Detective Inspector Jack Dawes, tall and handsome, looks like the fuzz even when he’s off-duty. He rose up through the ranks at Scotland Yard and now is a well-respected detective in the murder squad. A career copper, he was married to the job until he met Coriander during a money laundering investigation, the case which earned him his promotion to DI. He has logical analytical skills. She has intuitive people skills. So he bounces ideas off her. They make a formidable and funny couple whose skills combine to solve crimes.
Frances Lloyd was born in Essex but now lives in the Scottish Highlands. She was educated in Cheltenham where she studied English and Classics.
Frances has always been a writer. The day job was in government communications. She has also worked as a freelance journalist and photographer, and began by writing short stories, but her ambition was always to write murder mysteries. She now writes full time and has published ten crime novels.
Married three times but now a widow, Frances’ hobbies are reading, travelling and wine tasting.
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Puffin Rush game review

*We were sent this game for the purpose of this review

Puffin Rush game box
Puffin Rush is a card game suitable for ages 5+ and for up to 4 players at time. The instructions are easy to understand and the game is quick to set up.
Puffin Rush contents
Each player chooses a puffin and associated ice rink. You can place the rink anywhere along your side of the board and then the aim is to catch a fish and find your burrow. Beware of the blizzard card which makes you turn all the cards back over and rely on your memory!
Zach loved this game as he was super lucky getting extra turns or flipping cards to keep him safe. He found his burrow but hadn’t yet caught a fish so the game continued. I repeatedly missed a turn, got stuck in a snow drift or sent back to the start! No surprise, Zach won!

Puffin Rush gameplay

Puffin Rush is a fun family game. I liked the arctic animal theme and the illustrations are sweet. The cards are good quality so I think it will survive many years of play.
Puffin Rush has an RRP of £9.95 and is available via the Foul Play Games website.