lifestyle

Cover Reveal: Living Candles – Teodora Matei


The discovery of a woman close to death in a city basement sends Bucharest police officers Anton Iordan and Sorin Matache on a complex chase through the city as they seek to identify the victim. As they try to track down the would-be murderer, they find a macabre trail of missing women and they realise that this isn’t the first time the killer has struck. Iordan and Matache hit one dead end after another, until they decide they’ll have to take a chance that could prove deadly.

Amazon

Corylus Books

Corylus Book is a new venture aiming to publish fiction translated into English. The people behind the company have very different backgrounds, but what brings us together is a deep appreciation of crime fiction and a strong interest in books from countries that so have been under-represented in English.

It took a while before it turned out that everyone’s thoughts had been on similar lines – that we wanted to take a chance on presenting some of the great European crime fiction that wouldn’t normally make its way into English. With a mixture of language, translation and other skills between the four of us, it seemed the logical next step to take.

The first Corylus books are a pair of Romanian crime novellas, Living Candles by Teodora Matei and Zodiac by Anamaria Ionescu.

There’s more to come in 2020 – starting with Romanian novelist’s Bogdan Teodorescu’s Sword, a powerful political thriller that has already been a bestseller in Romania and in its French translation. Sword will be available in May and will be followed later in the year by the first of two books by Icelandic crime writer Sólveig Pálsdóttir. The Fox will be available in the second half of this year, followed by Shackles in 2021.

And there’s more to come, with a novel by Bogdan Hrib set partly in Romania and partly in the north-east of England, a second novel from Teodora Matei, and we’re talking to more exciting writers from across Europe about what we can do together…

blog tour, books, lifestyle

12 Days of Clink Street: One? – Jennifer L. Cahill

It’s London in the mid-noughties before Facebook, iPhones and ubiquitous wifi, and One? follows the highs and lows of a group of twenty-somethings living in leafy SW4.

Zara has just moved to London for her first real job and struggles to find her feet in a big city with no instruction manual.

Penelope works night and day in an investment bank with little or no time for love. At 28 she is positively ancient as far as her mother is concerned and the pressure is on for her to settle down as the big 3-0 is looming.

Charlie spends night and day with his band who are constantly teetering on the verge of greatness.

Richard has relocated to London from his castle in Scotland in search of the one, and Alyx is barely in one place long enough to hold down a relationship let alone think about the future.

 

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With a sigh, Miss Miller adjusted her horn-rimmed spectacles to survey her classroom of five-year-olds. The heat was really getting to her, mixed up with the sporadic hot flashes, it was becoming unbearable. A small bead of perspiration made its way slowly down the middle of her back. Her polyester, pointed collar shirt was growing clammy from the heat. Miss Miller stood up and gazed down at the children who were fidgeting and terribly restless. Her hands were clammy, and suddenly, without warning, she dropped her wooden blackboard duster onto the desk. The loud thud broke the silence, and a little cloud of chalk dust puffed up from where it had landed. The sunshine was streaming in through the windows, and the children watched… mesmerised, as the chalk dust particles danced on the sunbeam. They were convinced that the fairies were busy at work in their classroom that sunny June afternoon. This was quite enough to unsettle the class of five-year-olds especially so near to going home time. The children started giggling and wriggling around in their seats. Miss Miller gave them a stern look and settled herself behind her desk on the oak rostrum. She decided that it was Alyx’s turn to share his homework with the class. ‘Alyx,’ she said, as she peered over her glasses.
Alyx didn’t flinch; he was far, far away… gazing at the fairies on the sunbeam…‘Alyx! Alyx! Wake up! Come along now, we are waiting…’ Miss Miller snapped. Alyx nearly jumped out of his little skin! He began to stammer.‘What? Em, ok,’ Alyx stuttered as he struggled to his feet from behind his tiny little desk. ‘… when I grow up, I wish I were, no, I wish I would be a Beatle!’ Alyx breathed a small sigh of relief, he was happy that he had remembered the words in English.Miss Miller went puce, as the whole class started laughing. Alyx stood there defiantly. Alyx hated talking in front of the whole class; he was used to speaking French in school….not English! He would only be in this school for a few weeks while his mother was on location for a film in London, he didn’t understand these English people at all! He was constantly in trouble!Miss Miller was livid! All she needed was the most minor disruption to set the class of five-year-olds off, today of all days. It was easily 30C outside and there was no escaping the heat. Miss Miller struggled to regain composure.‘Don’t be silly Alyx, you can’t be a beetle, you are a little boy… why would you want to be an insect?!’ Miss Miller snapped.‘No, Miss, not an insect… I want to be like one of the Beatles!’ Alyx went bright red, and started staring down at his feet, while he shuffled from one tiny little foot to the other.‘The rock group?! Alyx really! Everyone else in the class has prepared their homework, sit down and come and speak to me at the end of class!’ Miss Miller was still puce as she said this, she took a deep breath to regain composure. She had no time for these ungrounded “celebrity” fantasies…Meanwhile the whole class had erupted into fits of giggles. Alyx slumped back into his tiny little chair, feeling very sorry for himself indeed. Life is tough when you are five and grownups keep trying to break your dreams.Miss Miller looked down at her list again, completely exasperated. Who should she ask next, who would be a “safe bet”?‘Next? Who is next?’ Miss Miller spoke sternly to silence the laughing five-year-olds. ‘Yes, Penelope?’‘Miss? Miss? May I go next?’ Penelope’s little hand shot straight up the minute Miss Miller had said ‘Next?’ She was dying to tell the teacher her ambition.‘Well, yes dear, if you really want to, I don’t see why not….’ Miss Miller sighed as she sat back in her chair.Penelope stood up in front of her desk, her little hands clasped tightly behind her back.‘When I grow up, I want to be a beautiful princess, and I want to live in a castle…’ Penelope beamed at Miss Miller, waiting for the praise that she was so used to. The teacher usually said things like ‘Excellent, Penelope’ and ‘Good girl’ to her. Sadly Penelope did not expect the reaction that was heading her way.With a sigh, Miss Miller adjusted her horn-rimmed spectacles to survey her classroom of five-year-olds. The heat was really getting to her, mixed up with the sporadic hot flashes, it was becoming unbearable. A small bead of perspiration made its way slowly down the middle of her back. Her polyester, pointed collar shirt was growing clammy from the heat. Miss Miller stood up and gazed down at the children who were fidgeting and terribly restless. Her hands were clammy, and suddenly, without warning, she dropped her wooden blackboard duster onto the desk. The loud thud broke the silence, and a little cloud of chalk dust puffed up from where it had landed. The sunshine was streaming in through the windows, and the children watched… mesmerised, as the chalk dust particles danced on the sunbeam. They were convinced that the fairies were busy at work in their classroom that sunny June afternoon. This was quite enough to unsettle the class of five-year-olds especially so near to going home time. The children started giggling and wriggling around in their seats. Miss Miller gave them a stern look and settled herself behind her desk on the oak rostrum. She decided that it was Alyx’s turn to share his homework with the class. ‘Alyx,’ she said, as she peered over her glasses.

Alyx didn’t flinch; he was far, far away… gazing at the fairies on the sunbeam…

‘Alyx! Alyx! Wake up! Come along now, we are waiting…’ Miss Miller snapped. Alyx nearly jumped out of his little skin! He began to stammer.

‘What? Em, ok,’ Alyx stuttered as he struggled to his feet from behind his tiny little desk. ‘… when I grow up, I wish I were, no, I wish I would be a Beatle!’ Alyx breathed a small sigh of relief, he was happy that he had remembered the words in English.

Miss Miller went puce, as the whole class started laughing. Alyx stood there defiantly. Alyx hated talking in front of the whole class; he was used to speaking French in school….not English! He would only be in this school for a few weeks while his mother was on location for a film in London, he didn’t understand these English people at all! He was constantly in trouble!

Miss Miller was livid! All she needed was the most minor disruption to set the class of five-year-olds off, today of all days. It was easily 30C outside and there was no escaping the heat. Miss Miller struggled to regain composure.

‘Don’t be silly Alyx, you can’t be a beetle, you are a little boy… why would you want to be an insect?!’ Miss Miller snapped.

‘No, Miss, not an insect… I want to be like one of the Beatles!’ Alyx went bright red, and started staring down at his feet, while he shuffled from one tiny little foot to the other.

‘The rock group?! Alyx really! Everyone else in the class has prepared their homework, sit down and come and speak to me at the end of class!’ Miss Miller was still puce as she said this, she took a deep breath to regain composure. She had no time for these ungrounded “celebrity” fantasies…

Meanwhile the whole class had erupted into fits of giggles. Alyx slumped back into his tiny little chair, feeling very sorry for himself indeed. Life is tough when you are five and grownups keep trying to break your dreams.

Miss Miller looked down at her list again, completely exasperated. Who should she ask next, who would be a “safe bet”?

‘Next? Who is next?’ Miss Miller spoke sternly to silence the laughing five-year-olds. ‘Yes, Penelope?’

‘Miss? Miss? May I go next?’ Penelope’s little hand shot straight up the minute Miss Miller had said ‘Next?’ She was dying to tell the teacher her ambition.

‘Well, yes dear, if you really want to, I don’t see why not….’ Miss Miller sighed as she sat back in her chair.

Penelope stood up in front of her desk, her little hands clasped tightly behind her back.

‘When I grow up, I want to be a beautiful princess, and I want to live in a castle…’ Penelope beamed at Miss Miller, waiting for the praise that she was so used to. The teacher usually said things like ‘Excellent, Penelope’ and ‘Good girl’ to her. Sadly Penelope did not expect the reaction that was heading her way.

films, fun stuff, lifestyle, movie night, tv

Favourite Films for Cold Nights*

“Winter is coming” (in my best Sean Bean voice)

In winter I am even more of a homebody than the rest of the year and that’s saying something for this little couch dweller.

One of my favourite things to do when the wind is howling and it is inevitably raining, is to cosy up under a snuggly blanket with a supply of Diet Coke and snacks to watch some of my ultimate favourite films, most of which my husband has shockingly not seen. I will admit that these predominantly date back to my late 90s early 00s teen years, but that’s how a favourite is formed.

Obviously the best way to watch films like these is on a nice big TV screen (or at the cinema) with a bowl of popcorn and other snacks. If you’re thinking of upgrading your TV and making things more cinematic in time for winter, maybe have a look at the Oled Televisions from Panasonic. 

1

This is the best Shakespeare adaptation there is, I will brook no argument. It is also most people’s introduction to Heath Ledger, who gives an amazing energetic performance. It’s funny, a bit naughty, silly, passionate and just so entertaining. It’s also highly quotable. I have fond memories of the first time I watched this, and it’s tied very tightly to my teenage years.

2

Damn the man, save the Empire! A day in the life of an independent record store in a typical middle American town, staffed by teenagers and manager Joe, played by Anthony LaPaglia, who just wants to get through it. Superstar Rex Manning is due in, and Corey (Liv Tyler) is planning to seduce him, Debra’s life is in freefall, Eddie just wants to play records and smoke weed. All of the teen angst is fully on display here. But there are some hilarious scenes, such as when they wrangle a shoplifter, touching moments and a top notch cast. I quote bits of this all the time, and sing the various very 90s soundtrack hits while cleaning my flat

3

I have long classified this as a Christmas film – it starts on Christmas Eve and covers a year in the lives of a group of friends living in New York City’s Alphabet City, dealing with careers, relationships and AIDS. It’s also a musical. My husband hates it and makes me watch it alone. I have no idea why. I am a Rent Head and try to see it on stage regularly, which is tricky as it’s a bit of a cult hit in the UK and not many places seem willing to stage it. I bloody love it. I will sing along to every song, always cry at the saddest bit and can quote whole chunks of it. Oh, wait, maybe that’s his problem with it. I also wrote my MA dissertation to the soundtrack, thankfully none of the lyrics made their way onto the page, that would have been deeply confusing. No Day But Today!

4

This is a super cheesy ballet movie – I think I must have watched it hundreds of times but I couldn’t tell you the names of most of the characters. There’s a lot of dancing, Zoe Saldana plays that stereotype ‘the sassy black friend’, Peter Gallagher (Seth’s dad in The O.C) plays the grumpy ballet company manager, Amanda Schull plays the heroine who’s “too fat” according to some of the dancers, and a lot of the other characters are played by actual ballet dancers. There’s lovely Charlie, who she should fall for and ‘Big Nose’ as we called him aged 15, the bad boy of ballet who breaks her heart but also makes her an amazing dancer. The soundtrack is cracking, and the finale is choreographed to Michael Jackson. It’s a total B movie but it has a special place in my heart.

5

This is my official favourite film ever (Center Stage is my actual favourite) and it is the absolute sum of screwball comedies – Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant, a leopard, witty crackling dialogue – who could ask for more? I don’t really think it has a plot, just lots of snappy talking and craziness involving big cats. I adore it. Plus Katherine Hepburn looks amazing in all her outfits.

6

I was born in the 1980s, so films like this weren’t exactly on my radar when they first appeared. But when I was at uni I watched this classic teen movie and fell in love. The smart writing, the characters, everything about John Hughes movies makes me feel safe and happy. Despite the occasional struggle the characters always resolve everything by the end of the film and the soundtrack is always amazing.

What are some of your favourite movies to curl up on the sofa and watch? Let me know in the comments.

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*This post contains sponsored or paid for content but all words and opinions are my own.

blogging, lifestyle, upcoming, updates

Where Have I Been?

Hello faithful readers,

You may have noticed it’s been a little quiet round here, due to some technical glitches and some life upheaval I haven’t been able to post all the lovely things I’ve been waiting to share with you, but they are coming soon, so don’t go anywhere.

Come say hi on Twitter or Instagram, even drop me an email at ramblingmadsblog@gmail.com

Check back on the blog soon as we’re making some behind the scenes changes you’ll hopefully love and there will be exciting new content very soon.

lifestyle

Book Review: The Belles – Dhionelle Clayton*

Today’s review is part of the blog tour for new YA novel The Belles.

In the queendom of Orleans people are born with grey skin and red eyes, as a punishment from the jealous God of the sky, the Belles possess special gifts that enable them to make people beautiful – and beauty is everything.

I really enjoyed this book, it was inventive and clever, well written and the world building is genius – I loved the mythology and the teacup animals – who wouldn’t want a miniature elephant or tiger.

The characters are well rounded and distinct – protagonist Camille is sympathetic and driven, if a little naive.

YA fiction is where some fascinating writing and story telling is happening and Dhionelle Clayton has contributed a fresh new voice to the ever growing pool of talent.

The Belles story will continue – and I for one can’t wait.

Check out the rest of the blog tour

*I was gifted this book in exchange for a review but all opinions and words are my own.

happy mail, lifestyle, reviews

You don’t send me flowers… *

I don’t live with a romantic – in fact C is the opposite – so I don’t expect much on Valentine’s Day but for those of you with a more romantic streak a great way to say “I love you” is with flowers. These roses from Prestige Flowers are gorgeous, deep velvety red. The bouquet is wrapped in red and boxed so the flowers don’t experience any damage during delivery. My table doesn’t normally get a centrepiece this lovely. It comes with a teddy and a box of chocolates, although you can send just a bouquet or add a bottle of wine. I often think bouquets like this are tiny works of temporary art. The red roses contrast beautifully with the green and gold painted leaves. It looks rather lovely on my table. Sometimes I don’t think I agree with cut flowers, but my little pot plants don’t look quite as majestic somehow, and my patio compost will eventually benefit too. I would be delighted to receive a bouquet like this, although I probably won’t, if C bought flowers they’d be the sad looking ones from the petrol station or corner shop on his way home *sigh*.

All Valentine’s bouquets will be entered into a prize draw – so surprise your Valentine this February with a beautiful bouquet and who knows, you could win free flowers all year. Now that would be romantic!

*I received this product in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and words remain my own.

beauty, Christmas, cruelty free, lifestyle, make up, skincare

A Very Soap & Glory Christmas…

This Christmas I didn’t do too well on the beauty gifts but I did receive a lot of Soap & Glory gift sets, which after missing out on their Advent Calendar, was pretty nice. 2018 I’m going to be squeaky clean. 

The Hello Soaper Spa set was probably the most wasteful in terms of packaging with a cardboard cover over a plastic, non-recyclable, tray inside. It contained Sexy Mother Pucker lip gloss, Face Soap & Clarity Vitamin C face wash, The Righteous Butter body wash, The Scrub of Your Life body buffer, The Righteous Butter body butter & Sugar Crush body wash. 

Glow Ball is housed in a round tin, that if you had an enormous tree could be a bauble. It was a bit tricky to open and I had to get C to help me. Inside was a shower puff, Smoothie Star Breakfast Star body polish, Smoothie Star body buttercream, Hand Food hand cream & Rich and Foamous body wash. 

The Lime of Your Life is also in a reusable tin, full of travel sized goodies. Sugar Crush body wash, Clean On Me and Rich & Foamous body wash pods, Sugar Crush body scrub, Sugar Crush body buttercream and Hand Food hand cream. 

 
Spa of Wonder is a reinforced cardboard hamper with a clever holographic lid. Inside it is absolutely packed full of Soap & Glory. Bright & Beautiful mask, The Scrub of Your Life body scrub, The Righteous Butter 3-in-1 body wash, Clean On Me shower gel, Smoothie Star body milk, Thick & Fast mascara, Sexy Mother Pucker lip gloss, Supercat liquid eyeliner, The Righteous Butter body butter, Face Soap & Clarity Vitamin C face wash. You might be thinking, good grief that’s a lot of shower gels but they will all get used. I love a nice hot shower with a moisturizing skin friendly body wash. 

The only product that won’t get used is the two lip glosses – something in them triggers an allergic reaction. 

Soap & Glory is a cruelty free brand so that’s an added bonus and I have it on good authority (aka I asked them) that the microbeads in the face wash are biodegradable and don’t cause any harm to the environment. 

If you know me irl then I recommend going to Boots and sniffing a few products so you will know 2018’s signature scent – my Soap & Glory Christmas obsession.  

Christmas, fashion, jewellery, lifestyle, reviews

Christmas Stars with Jewellery Box* 

Christmas is coming and if like me you’re part magpie you’ll have your eye on some sparkly gifts, whether for yourself or as gifts for your loved ones. 

For some beautiful and fun jewellery look no further than Jewellery Box

This UK based small business is a favourite of bloggers, having sponsored the Bloggers Blog Awards, which I attended back in September. 

The team very kindly sent me some really lovely pieces to share with you all. 

I love this necklace, there’s something very soothing about tessalating shapes. The silver chain is delicate with a lobster clasp. Perfect for work to add a little quirk to a smart office look. 
For something more seasonal, how about this dainty snowflake? Adding this to my Christmas Day outfit I think. 

To go with the necklace, these star earrings! So pretty and cute. 
Then to finish it off another star, this time in gold, around my wrist – although it might go better with Boxing Day’s ensemble. 
Everything is beautifully packaged, making these items perfect gifts for your friends and family (or yourself!) 

Christmas, lifestyle, reviews

Christmas Bouquet with Prestige Flowers*

A bouquet is a lovely gift for a family member you might not be seeing over Christmas and these seasonal ones from Prestige Flowers are beautifully packaged and can be delivered to the door of your recipient. 

My bouquet came with its own vase, saving me from having to climb up and get one from the top of the kitchen cabinet, and a delicious box of chocolates. Bouquets can also be ordered alone or with a bottle of wine or champagne. 

I tried to decide where to display my beautiful bouquet, with the tree, on it’s own, these flowers ended up with their own photo shoot! In the end they wound up on a bookshelf. But they looked pretty good anywhere, don’t you think! 

*this post contains gifted or sponsored items but all words and opinions are my own. 

Christmas, lifestyle, reviews, upcoming

Christmas treats with Prestige Hampers*

Growing up I always loved Christmas hampers, boxes of exotic treats that only came together at one time of the year. 

My dad used to buy them for his suppliers – not for us, but occasionally someone would send us one instead of buying individual presents or if we weren’t seeing them over the holidays. 

When Prestige Hampers, a Yorkshire based family business, offered to send me a hamper, I was thrilled. I received the Fabulous Christmas hamper. 

Although it’s still November just unpacking it made me feel all Christmassy (which is impressive as I struggle with the festive period). 

The team at Prestige are packing experts, once I’d unpacked it all I could not for the life of me get it all back in as neatly. 

The handmade wicker hamper is lovely and reusable – I’m already excited about deciding what to store in it! 

The contents itself is great. There’s so many treats in here. C has already got his eye on several of the goodies in it. 

This hamper includes a selection of sweet and savoury festive essentials along with three mini wine bottles, an individual Christmas pudding, jam and marmalade. 

Prestige provide a wide variety of options of gifts, everything from a bottle of wine, Christmas ham and of course the hampers. 

Right now there’s a sale on – and everything can be delivered in time for Christmas. 

Now excuse me, off to eat all these yummy treats….

*this post includes gifted items but all opinions and words are my own.