blog tour, books, giveaway, reviews

Blog tour; Valentina by Cristina Hodgson

Today is the last stop on the blog tour for Valentina by Cristina Hodgson. You may remember I opened the tour with this post and I’m closing it too. Please enjoy an excerpt from chapter 22.

I manoeuvred the car to one side of the road and stopped the engine. I stepped out onto the dusty tarmac. The sun was high in the sky, reflecting harsh light around, the rays beating down at their midday peak, shortening the shadows around. The mooing of the cows filled the air, and they kicked up dust as they went. I started to wonder if the road sign I’d seen a while back was not the right turning I needed and now instead of heading south to San Rafael, I was heading into deep gaucho territory. As if on cue, I heard a shrill whooping sound coming from behind. If I hadn’t known any better I would have sworn it was an Indian war cry and heading right in my direction. I now found myself and the rental car, swimming in a sea of four-legged, rather whiffy, mooing beasts. There wasn’t much for it, because I really didn’t have a choice, but to stand my ground and take a few selfies of the situation to Instagram later.
With a clatter of hooves I suddenly found myself face-to-face with a deeply-tanned, strongly-chiselled, masculine face. Smouldering eyes looked me over. Tammy, at this point, having been startled awake, was squeezing herself out of the car window. She had done this manoeuvre before, down by a river bed we had inadvertently driven into the day we met her now boyfriend Ray and his best friend Robbie – my Robbie (well, not really “my” Robbie, at least not any more, or perhaps ever). That first attempt at body coordination and hyper-mobility had ended with both Tammy and me covered in mud from head to foot. She had managed to get stuck in the car window and popped out like a champagne cork as I yanked her in an attempt to save her from the submerging car. We had both been bowled over and covered in gooey muck.
Despite the mud bath it had all ended quite positively, at least for Tammy and Ray. But I didn’t think you should tempt fate twice.
“Keep still!” I cried out to Tammy over the roaring noise the cows were making. “You’ll get trampled on.”
“English?” came a startled, heavily-accented, voice from the gaucho, who now quickly moved his horse over to cover Tammy and protect her getting squashed and stampeded on. I have no idea why he had sounded startled to hear us speak in English. After all, I doubted any local would have got themselves in the mix we had, so it should have come as no surprise that we were Gringos. By this point Tammy was truly stuck, half-in-half-out of the car, and I observed, once again, how she could, under any circumstance, revert to her combined fluttering eyelashes, flushed cheek number. Damsel In Distress had been called into action, and she did not fail. Thinking about it, despite not being quite the superpower that I would personally strive for, I had to admit it got Tammy out of almost every possible awkward or hazardous situation.
“Oh, gracias, Señor,” came Tammy’s pitiful voice as she allowed him to take hold of her hand and steady her as she slipped from the car window and somehow ended sitting behind him on his horse. I certainly wasn’t going to take a picture of this manoeuvre and Instagram it. I couldn’t afford to get myself in trouble with Ray. I needed him on my side in this venture. I’d told him I would look after Tammy, who was after all still recovering from her own concussion. I didn’t think riding behind some good-looking Argentinian cowboy was quite the image that Ray would wish to see as proof of her recovery.

If you enjoyed that don’t forget you can buy the book here.

And enter the giveaway for Cristina’s book Simply Anna.

Check out the rest of the tour and enjoy your Sunday afternoon.

blog tour, books, giveaway

Blog Tour: Something Changed – Matthew Williams

Today I’m hosting a stop on the blog tour for Matthew Williams’ Something Changed, his debut novel.

Life can change forever in a moment…

In the aftermath of marriage breakdown how do we pick ourselves up and start again?

In August 2014 Matthew Williams was forced to do just that. In Something Changed he navigates us through his journey with wit and wisdom, taking in divorce, dating and self-discovery while facing the dark spectre of depression.

Hopes and fears, laughter and tears – all are encountered along the way to learning some important lessons about love, loss and life.

‘Have you ever noticed how life’s biggest lessons are also the most painful? Maybe that’s just life’s way of making sure we don’t forget them…’

Needle in a Haystack – Dating for the Divorced

Who’d have thought dating could seem so much like, well, hard work?
Now, the obvious point to highlight from the off is that I can only speak for myself; if Brad Pitt or, errrrrrr, Harry Styles somehow found themselves on Tinder or Plenty of Fish, chances are it might not be much of a chore. But, for this forty-something from Middlesbrough, it ain’t easy, I can tell you. Even for a Brian Cox lookalike.
In the first flush of single life entering the brave new world of online dating (well, new to someone that has been in a relationship for nineteen years anyway), the overriding sense was one of excitement and possibility. And, in spite of an odd detour (dating, bloody hell…) my first experience of online dating – where I met a wonderful woman very quickly – turned out to be far from representative of the reality of seeking your perfect partner online.
Cards on the table time – I’m a bit weird. Although I’m not detecting many sharp intakes of breath here, let me explain what I mean by that: I’m not really designed for casual relationships and one night stands. I know, I know, I’m a bloke but what can I say, faulty wiring, I guess. I’ve always been the same, I prefer to get to know somebody and want to meet somebody that I can really connect with, someone that I can laugh with as we navigate life’s ups and downs together. Someone whose presence in my life makes me a better person and brings out the best that I have to offer. So you see, basically I’m soft as shite.
Anyway, so far she’s not on Tinder. Or Plenty Of Fish. Or OK Cupid… Hell, I’m getting depressed just typing those out. And really, I haven’t done too badly, I suppose. I’ve met eight or nine women for dates. One week I had dates with three woman planned (separately I might add). To many that might sound great, but you know what? It isn’t. Well, not for me anyway, because it’s not about numbers, it’s about meeting somebody that’s right. And that’s harder than I guess I thought it would be. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve met plenty of nice people. I don’t really have any dating disasters to speak of (sorry to disappoint you) and I’m glad for the experiences that I’ve had – in the end you learn from them and when one day in the future I am with that special person I expect I will appreciate her all the more. But when you are looking for that special someone, especially at a relatively advanced age and after nearly nine years of marriage, it can all get… dispiriting. The dating treadmill has tired me out, many times. And not in THAT way.
There are only so many times that you can get to know somebody new, only so many times you can go on a first date, only so many times you can have the same conversation with different people, and there are only so many photos of forty-something women pouting (or suffering the effects of drinking vinegar?) that I care to see.

Goodreads

Amazon

Matthew Williams is an author, blogger, speaker and coach. He lives in the North East of England with his two young children. Matthew is passionate about positive change and turning life’s challenges into lessons for creating a better future. He hopes that by writing about his own experiences he will be able to inspire others to make positive changes in their lives.

Something Changed is Matthew’s first book. More of his writing can be found at his blog, Love, Laughter & Truth.

Twitter
Facebook
Blog

To win a copy of Something Changed and a £10 Amazon voucher (two prizes available) click here and follow the instructions.

baking, food, giveaway, reviews

Colourful Cooking with Vremi* and Giveaway!  

In the ramblingmads household we do love a kitchen gadget – it’s the only way to get C in the kitchen sometimes. 

When the team at Vremi got in touch about these bright and cheerful useful tools I was really pleased. Another job for C! 

Isn’t the packaging fun, although I don’t find the cake cases as funny but that might just be me not finding drug taking giggle-worthy. 

Firstly we have these clever little cutters – designed to slice and dice fruit and veg, reducing your cutting time and helping you deal with tricky things like mangoes. 

I hadn’t seen one like this with interchangeable blades, usually you have to buy each one seperately. 

This has 3 different blades – Apple, mango and potato. All you have to do is press down into your chosen fruit/veg and ta-dah! You’re done. No more hacking with a knife. 

And it goes in the dishwasher  (which has replaced C in our house). 

Next up is these bright and fun cupcake cases, made of silicone and dishwasher proof. 

These are again super easy to use – they can take the hot temperature of an oven without going weird and melting, as well as helping your muffins stay firm. 

And here’s the fun part  Win the Vremi Silicone Baking Cups and Apple Slicer just click the link and follow the instructions. Giveaway ends December 15th and winner will be notified by the company. 

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

beauty, giveaway, haircare, reviews

Product Review: Xtiva Twist Curling Wand & Giveaway

My hair has a life of its own, doing whatever it pleases. Styling it is an uphill struggle as its preferred style is dragged through a hedge backwards. 

So when I was offered the opportunity to review the Xtiva Twist Curling Wand, I said yes, hey anything’s worth a try. 

I wasn’t expecting the rather glamorous box that arrived, complete with the blogger fave, rose gold. 

Inside the box is, well, another box. But this one opens to ta-da! A handy carry case containing the magic curling wand itself. 

It’s matt black and looks very professional. So far so good. But how does it do on rebellious hair? 

Well, according to the user guide I need about 160° to curl my hair – you literally set the temp you want with these handy buttons. 

Now, vitally and not included in the user guide is this glove. Use the glove and avoid burnt fingers! I did not. Use me as a lesson. 

Now I have limited patience, especially with technology, but this heats up nice and quick. Word to the wise – do your make up after as your face gets quite hot with this wand. 

It’s super easy to use but unfortunately my hair decided not to play ball and the curls dropped out fast. But that’s my hair for you. I also tested this on my sister’s thick hair and they held beautifully. She refused to let me take any photos and wouldn’t accept bribes. 

I really think this is a clever tool with its easy to use buttons, the glove that stops your hand from burning  (I’ve never seen this included in the box before and my past is littered with curlers of all kinds). 

It doesn’t take hours to heat and on better behaved hair creates gorgeous curls. If my sister lets me curl her hair again I will get some Insta pics for you. 

And now  – Win the xtava Twist Curling Wand  

Good luck! 

adventures in post, food, giveaway, reviews

Letterbox Cake with bakerdays & a giveaway 

What’s in the tin?

It’s a Cake!

My partner turns 30 this week and as we were having his parents over, when bakerdays offered to send me a letterbox cake in exchange for an honest review, I said yes.

The postman delivered a slim brown box which contained a tin and some birthday favours (balloons, candles, blower) as well as a sweet card from the bakerdays team.

Now the cake is quite small but it needs to be to fit through a letterbox! But it is beautifully decorated – you can personalise your cake with a photo, name, preferred message, you name it. And it comes in a range of tasty sponge flavours, which taste great.

And now the reason I’m telling you all this
A giveaway!

You can win the letterbox cake of your choice from bakerdays delivered to your door. Here’s how.

– follow ramblingmads the blog (and on Twitter and Instagram if you aren’t already)

– post a comment telling me what special occasion you’d like to celebrate with a bakerdays letterbox cake. Please include your Twitter handle or email address to make it easy to contact you if you win.

The winner will be chosen at random a week from today Tuesday 27th July 2027.

The cake will be sent to you direct from bakerdays so I will need to ask for some details if you win. This will include which letterbox cake you’d like and your UK postal address (no P.O Boxes). Please see the bakerdays website for cake options.

UK only due to the fact the cake will be sent via Royal Mail.

blog tour, books, fun stuff, giveaway

Book Tour: Trust Me – Gemma Metcalfe 

Today I’m hosting a stop on the blog tour for thriller Trust Me by Gemma Metcalfe. Read on for more. 

One phone call. Two lives. Their darkest secrets.
Lana needs to sell a holiday, fast. Stuck in Tenerife, in a dead end job, she never expected a response quite like Liam’s.

Thousands of miles away a phone rings. Liam never intended to pick up, he’s too busy choosing the quickest way to die. But at least someone should know the truth before he goes, even if that someone is a stranger.

As time runs out both are drawn to the other, expressing thoughts they never thought they would share.

When you’re about to die will your secrets even matter?
Find the book on Amazon and Goodreads

Gemma Metcalfe is a Manchester born author who now lives in sunny Tenerife with her husband Danny and two crazy rescue dogs Dora and Diego. By day, Gemma can be found working as a Primary school teacher, but as the sun sets, she ditches the glitter and glue and becomes a writer of psychological thrillers. An established drama queen, she admits to having a rather warped imagination, and loves writing original plots with shocking twists. The plot for her debut novel ´Trust Me,´ is loosely based on her experiences as a call centre operative, where  she was never quite sure who would answer the phone…

Find Gemma on Twitter

Read on for an extract from the book and an exciting giveaway. 

Lana, 3.47 pm

‘Are you still there, Liam?’ I ask, realising he has been worryingly quiet while I have been telling my story. I begin to feel ridiculous, sat here complaining about such trivial things when his life has been shattered into a million pieces. But of course my story is still in its early stages. The things that came after were anything but trivial.

‘I’m here, Lana.’ His voice travels down the line flatly, like he has already given up.

I sigh, my eyes lifting up into my head as I contemplate how to proceed. I want to get to the bottom of what has happened to him, why he feels there is nothing left for him, but I am doubting my capabilities more and more. I’m not a counsellor. I don’t know how to unlock people’s demons.

‘Is it because the baby died?’ I ask through pursed lips, my face so tightly squished up I can barely see. I hold my breath, wondering if I have got to the bottom of why he wants to die.

He laughs. A laugh so cutting it sends chills down my spine.

‘That was years ago, Lana. It was heartbreaking, and a turning point for me and Jess. Our relationship never really recovered. I always blamed her deep down, but what was I to do? I was married to her and I was desperate to keep her son in my life. He is the single most important thing to me.’

I hear Liam’s voice fracture down the line. I have an urge to go to him, to pull him close to me and make it all all right. But I can’t. I can’t do that because I can’t even enter the UK.

‘So what then? If not the baby, what went so drastically wrong?’

To celebrate the release of Trust Me, here’s a little giveaway for you. 

UK only. One winner will receive a Boots voucher, a copy of Trust Me and some surprise Boots treats. 

Enter Here and don’t forget to visit the other stops on the tour. 


 

#paperhaul, art, fun stuff, giveaway, lifestyle boxes, reviews, stationery

#paperhaul from Crafty Creatives & Giveaway 

As a stationery nerd this is one of my fave letterbox subscription boxes.

Each month’s is decorated by a different illustrator, allowing you to support artists and charity as 20p from each box goes to Post Pals,  which sends letters to children in hospital. 

This month’s box contains quirky illustrations from Louise at Gaze of Dolls Designs based on Alice in Wonderland, and this month I have a box to giveaway too (see the bottom of the post).

There’s some fab stickers 

This card is brilliant 

Postcards I can’t wait to send

These little cards and notepad are my favourite and there’s washi tape for wrapping presents too. 

If you like the designs and want a box for yourself you can subscribe here

And you can win your own box of Louise’s fabulous designs right here.