lifestyle boxes, mental health, mindfulness, reviews

Review: Cancer Care Parcel

Cancer has affected everyone I know in some way or another.

When I was 18 my paternal grandmother died after a long fight against lung cancer that eventually spread through her whole body to her brain.

It was difficult to see her become weaker and more fragile. Cancer treatments were debilitating and had some pretty terrible side effects.

The people behind Cancer Care Parcel want to help alleviate some of the stress and worry patients and their families are dealing with.

Each package has been tailored with practical and fun items that meet specific needs.

I was kindly sent this Deluxe Box for women to share with you and it’s a fantastic assortment of items.

As well as their incredible boxes, which are available for all genders and children too, the website offers social networks, advice and information for cancer patients, family and friends.


I think that if you’re looking to buy a gift for someone dealing with cancer, one of these boxes could be a really good idea. And the parcels are now on sale too.

art, Christmas, reviews

Under the Tree: personalised art from Karishma, London Life Drawing Girl

Today’s gift idea is a bit different and something that could be ideal for an art loving friend or family member.

I’ll let Karishma, aka London Life Drawing Girl introduce herself;

“Hi, I’m Karishma, a 26 year old, London based artist. I love to draw and paint buildings and skylines around the world. These can be anything from a favourite city, a special building, or home. I work in the city by day and sketch in my spare time.”

If you want to buy someone an amazing hand drawn image of their favourite London landmark or somewhere that means something special then head to her website and order via the form or by email.

And Karishma has kindly offered all my followers a Christmas order discount – just add code MADS for a cool 10% off one of her drawings.

You can also follow Karishma and see some more of her amazing art on social media, Twitter, Instagram

Christmas, gift guide, reviews

Under the Tree: Prestige Hampers

A festive classic, the hamper is a great gift when you’re not sure what to get someone or need to send a gift well packaged.

Prestige Hampers are based in Yorkshire and offer a wide range so you can pick the perfect hamper for your chosen recipient.

This particular number has a great selection of sweet and savoury treats, guaranteed to give the lucky receiver a delicious Christmas.

I remember as a kid my dad used to buy hampers for clients at Christmas, a little way to say thank you for their support and custom. I always wanted someone to send me one as they seemed exciting and fun.

You can follow Prestige on social media too. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook.

blog tour, books, reviews

Book Review: Defense of an Other – Grace Mead

Written by a practicing lawyer this novel is very heavy on the legal details and arguments, which at times made it a struggle to read.

However it was at least an interesting case to build a story around.

Matt is a young lawyer in New Orleans who after visiting a gay bar is attacked by three thugs. Defending a new acquaintance, he kills one of the thugs and is arrested for murder. The plot follows his trial and time in Angola state prison, notorious for its human rights abuses and extreme violence.

There is a lot of legalese used throughout, having so many of the characters be lawyers means it seems natural for them to speak like that, but harder for the lay person to understand. Especially the verbatim Supreme Court transcript.

Set in 2007 before several changes in law and culture, including marriage equality, Matt’s chances of leaving prison rest on arguments around whether or not a gay person can be sentenced by a bias jury; or should be a protected characteristic like gender and race (you can’t have an all white jury if there’s a black defendant for example).

Most of my legal knowledge is, like many people’s, based around watching a lot of crime shows and hours of Law & Order. The author however went to law school and works for a large Miami firm, having done similar jobs as her character.

Overall I found this book a little hard going at times (must watch more L&O) but certainly interesting. I would suggest reading it but not when you’re a bit sleepy, you need to be wide awake to follow the legal arguments being made.

This review is part of a blog tour, check out the rest of the tour.

books, reviews

Book Review: The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna – Juliet Grames

I was very lucky to get a copy of this proof, it’s not due to be published till next May.

Stella Fortuna is born in a small village in Calabria, Italy, the second child of Assunta and Antonio, but the first to survive childhood.

Named after her deceased sister, and possibly haunted by her, Stella leads a life marked by the seven (or eight) almost tragedies.

A mix of family saga, immigrant story and a sprinkle of magic realism; this book was a brilliant read. I was completely hooked.

Stella’s familial relationships are key to her story, especially that with her younger sister Cettina – who serves as the secondary protagonist. These are beautifully written and the characters come to life on the page.

I highly recommend pre-ordering this one because it is excellent.

blog tour, books, reviews

Book Review: Skyward – Brandon Sanderson

Spensa dreams of flight, soaring past the debris that litters the skies above her home on Detritus, into the open stars. Like her father she wants to be part of the Detritus Defence Force and protect her people from their enemy the Krell. Only her father was branded a coward and the admiral doesn’t want her anywhere near the DDF.

Spensa gets into the training program and starts to uncover the truth about her father and in doing so finds a few things out about herself too.

Sanderson is a well known and rather prolific writer of fantasy and science fiction, I first read his Final Empire trilogy, enjoying his strong world building and well written characters, something Skyward shares.

I really enjoyed this book, Spensa is a strong protagonist and it is easy to empathise with her story. The plot is pacy and even all the flight school simulation bits are enjoyable and fluid. Some of it is also very funny.

The ending is quite open and this book feels like the beginning of a series, fingers crossed I’m right.

This post is part of the blog tour for Skyward – check out the rest of the tour.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Book Review – The Caged Queen by Kristen Ciccarelli*

Ideally read The Last Namsara first as some of the events and characters appear in this book. There may be some slight spoilers in this review, the unavoidable ones.

Set in the kingdom of Firgaard after the overthrow of a tyrannical king, The Caged Queen chronicles two stories, the lives of sisters Roa and Essie, and the story of the king and queen of a changed kingdom.

Roa, now queen as part of her pact that won Dax his throne must find a way to reconcile her feelings for her husband and her scrublander loyalties, while finding a way to save the twin she once thought lost forever.

Having only recently read The Last Namsara, so it was fresh in my mind, meant I found it quite easy to slip back into Ciccarelli’s world. I could see the three groups quite clearly from her descriptions but also from how I pictured them in the previous book.

I felt that the characters of Roa and Dax were fully fleshed out as not being the focus of the previous book they’d felt rather thin before. I quite enjoy a series where you meet the different characters in their own stories, while also encountering them elsewhere, as Tamora Pierce has done for years; building up a sort of map of all the conjoined stories, deepening the world created within.

I liked this book, I enjoyed learning more about the kingdom, going to the scrublander homes and seeing their lives as well as the extreme wealth and privilege of some Firgaarders.

The writing is strong and absorbing, the characters well written and empathetic, the world building excellent. My only complaint was that there weren’t as many dragons in this one. I like dragons.

Check out the rest of the tour below.

*this post features sponsored or gifted items but all words and opinions remain my own.