Tuesday 30 June 2020

Book review : You Don't Know Me - Sara Foster

You Don't Know Me is the new release from Sara Foster, published on 18th May. She is the bestselling author of five psychological suspense novels in Australia and the USA, but this is the first time this British author has been published in her home country. The publication will be followed by another of her books, The Hidden Hours, in November 2020, described as ‘enthralling’ by Jane Harper. I'll definitely be looking out for that one.

You Don't Know Me follows the tale of two young, free and single Australian travellers, enjoying a holiday in Thailand. Alice and Noah are taking in the sights on a river cruise when they bump into each other, quite literally. Sparks fly and they embark on an intense relationship, with Noah extending his break for a couple of days before flying back home to pick up his job running his family's restaurant. But below the surface, things are much darker and they both have a past that they are trying desperately to flee. As young love bursts forth, they are both wary of giving up their secret stories and imagining a happy future together.

Alice is working as an English teacher in a language school. Encouraged by her father, she is trying to find a new safe space to call her own, but she can't completely break the ties with him. As she slowly starts to reveal her backstory, we learn that he is in prison, but the truth of her situation will not be revealed until close to the end.

Noah's story is equally complex and emotional. Some twelve years ago, the girlfriend of his elder brother Tom mysteriously disappeared after an argument. The case is finally coming up in court, with a huge amount of public interest and pressure for all involved. Tom and Noah have always had a very rocky relationship, with a large amount of repressed rage, violent spats and bullying. More to the point, having seen and overheard a few things on the fateful night, Noah has secret doubts about his brother's innocence. Should he come clean and reveal all in court or keep quiet for the sake of the family?

It's a tough and stressful time for both of the characters, but they try to support and help each other through the worst of it. As their lives explode, leaving them with no idea of what their pasts and futures entail, can they possibly manage to forge some new love affair or is this budding relationship another victim of their volatile lives?

It's a fast-paced read that sucked me in, desperate to learn more about the characters and their complex histories. I had a few ideas about what went on in the past, but it turned out, I was way off the mark and in for a big surprise. 

star rating : 4.5/5

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Legend Press (30 Jun. 2020)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1789559774
  • ISBN-13: 978-1789559774
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.8 cm

Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book.

Monday 29 June 2020

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 27

Sophie's made it back home and is enjoying catching up on the food she loves. The bonus is, she cooks/prepares most of it, so we've had hummus, potato salad, cakes and I can't even remember what else as added extras this week ! This is my final week at work - phew ! Most of the food on last week's plan got made, except for swapping pizzas for big mixed salads (no arguments here !) and a potato dish that Sophie made that used up the potatoes that would have been used for a creamy potato bake. No problem though, they can be added back in at some point !


dinner - chicken skewers with rice & Mexican veg


dinner- garlic & pepper chicken with pasta


lunch- smoked sausages with mash & salad

dinner- breaded chicken, Ebly & endives in a cheese & ham sauce, for those that want them


dinner- beef & peppers with rice


dinner - cottage pie


lunch- kids' choice - I'm betting on a pizza restaurant

dinner- baked potatoes, as we didn't have them last week - with tuna/mayo or cheese


lunch- roast chicken, roast potatoes & veg

dinner- cheese on toast

***Click on my Menu Plans tag to see all my other weekly menu plan blogposts.***


Sunday 28 June 2020

Project 366 : Photo Diary week 26

The big news this week was Sophie finally made it home - yay ! Work was busy as, on top of lessons, we had extra meetings for sorting out the next school year. But in a week, that's it, we're on holiday - woohoo !

Sunday 21st June - Time for another early(ish) morning trip to the beach, to beat the crowds, so we had a completely empty beach again. I'm not sure if this was natural or if the council have brought in lots of extra sand to create a terrace on the beach for some of the bars, but these steps now go nowhere. It looks quite freaky, like they are leading down into the underworld !

Monday - While I was at work, Sophie was undertaking the trip of a lifetime just to get back home ! After a first train to London at 6.50am, then another train to the Eurostar station, she got the Eurostar all the way down to Paris, as she couldn't get off at Calais or even Lille. After a few hours hanging around in Paris, she got another train all the way back up to Dunkerque, finally arriving at 7pm. Tiring but worth it ! We headed back home had a lovely long chat, ate some food then it was off to bed, amongst lots of giggling from all three kids !

Tuesday - As this is traditionally the day I have lunch with a friend, the kids decided to come along and join us. Pierre was at school but the girls waited until he got home, jumped on a bus, then got him back in time for the afternoon lessons ! We went to a local restaurant that brews its own beers and has a big menu with (amongst other things) all sorts of flammekuechens. They are like a kind of pizza with a flatbread style base from the Alsace region on the French-German border and traditionally have a cream, onion and bacon topping. We all opted for different versions - this one was chicken Caesar salad and was very tasty.

Wednesday - I had to go to work for a meeting in the morning, then in the afternoon, we went out for a walk, showing Sophie some of the new things that have been built or closed since she was last here.

Thursday - A loooong day at work and it was so hot, it was horrible. Our classrooms all have a central unit that regulates temperature, so that it's warm in winter and cool in summer. However, with the new Coronavirus measures, we have to leave windows open for constant air circulation. If you have a window open, it stops the air temperature control from working so we were all baking hot. There was a big storm at the end of the afternoon but it still didn't clear the air.

Friday - No school today - woohoo ! I took Sophie with me when I went shopping and she stocked up on all her favourites. On the way home, she dragged me to the local baker's. Apparently, she has been dreaming about their strawberry tarts for months !

Saturday - I gave the kids complete free choice for the evening meal and they surprised me by opting for "Dad's salad". I'm not sure if it was more nostalgia and good memories or a real desire to eat salad - well, it was hot, so it could have been ! I got everything out and let them pick what they wanted. From top to bottom, cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, marinated peppers, marinated cherry tomatoes, baby cucumbers, bacon, hard-boiled egg, guacamole and, underneath, lettuce. I've never seen them eat so many vegetables ! If I give them the choice, they usually turn them down !

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
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Saturday 27 June 2020

Fab freebies of the week 27/6

Welcome to the weekend ! Hope you have something nice planned ... but stay away from the beaches. It's crazy out there and we don't want to head into the second wave of Coronavirus too quickly ! (Or even at all, if that's possible.) Here's another roundup of fab freebies for you to get your teeth into :)


We're looking for 150 Mumsnet users with at least one child aged between 6 months and 4 years to test newly launched baby and toddler food from Mia & Ben.

Netmums are looking for 100 testers to try out the new Quorn Classic Chilli Pouch. Fancy putting it to the taste test?

Receive a complimentary Flowerbomb Dew or Flowerbomb Classic 1.2ml Perfume Sample


Take part in the Walkers Perfect Match giveaway to win thousands of prizes (snack bowls, glasses + TVs, soundbars, etc) - use codes 0083 or 0084.

New campaign on The Insiders -  Higgidy is very excited to announce that they just launched a brand new range of veg-packed ready to bake meals. You’ll have a chance to discover 2 of them, if you subscribe before 3rd July 2020.

And another campaign if you have a cat -  Give you cat something you know he’ll love by subscribing for this Felix Tasty Shreds campaign before 29th June 2020.

Try to win a prize on the WD-40 website - loads of prizes up for grabs.

Request some samples on the BASIX Skin Repair Sample Request Form

This week on CheckoutSmart, grab free Lindahls Pro+ Kvarg lemon cheesecake, Lindahls Pro+ Kvarg strawberry & lime pie, Gunna pink punk raspberry lemonade, Strongbow Dark Fruit 0.5%, ...

On Shopmium, you can grab free Pots & Co puddings, Nestlé Pure Life flavoured fizzy water, ...

You can see previous weeks' freebie roundups by clicking here but be warned, many of the offers are only valid for a short time. Let me know if any have expired and I'll remove them from the roundup.

You may also like to enter my current giveaways :

Coming soon

Thursday 25 June 2020

Madhouse recipe : Wok-fried Chinese Chicken & Veg

During the confinement, nothing was thrown away. Whether it was leftover meat or vegetables, rice or pasta, it always got thrown into another dish and many of them were really popular. This dish is one of those. There is no recipe as such - just use up whatever veg is in the fridge and whatever leftover cooked meat you have. It'll work whatever it is !

Wok-fried Chinese Chicken & Veg

ingredients :

drizzle of olive oil
1 onion
2 carrots
1 leek
2 boiled potatoes
whatever other cooked or raw veg you have (sweetcorn, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, ... whatever you have, it'll be fine !)
1tbsp sesame oil
2tbsp pomegranate vinegar
2tbsp sweet soy sauce
leftover cooked chicken
leftover cooked rice

If you don't have any leftover cooked rice, start some off just before you begin, then it can be added to the dish just as it's finished cooking in ten minutes or so. Chop up whatever cooked vegetables you have that need using up (I had a couple of boiled potatoes) and whatever fresh veg you have in the fridge. I had onion, carrot and leek, but you could add various other types of vegetables. I'd definitely have added red pepper if I'd had it. Cabbage, broccoli, sweetcorn and cauliflower could be good too.

Put a drizzle of olive oil in the wok, heat it up then stir fry the veggies. Make sure you keep stirring so they don't stick to the bottom of the pan and burn. Cook for about ten minutes if using fresh veg, five minutes if using cooked veg that just needs warming up.

When it's softened but still keeps a nice firm, crunchy texture, it's done. Throw in the cooked chicken - this is great for using up the leftovers from a roast chicken.

Mix together the sesame oil, pomegranate vinegar and sweet soy sauce in a bowl, then pour into the pan. This used ingredients that I had in the cupboard - you could replace them by honey, white wine vinegar and regular soy sauce. 

Stir the sauce through the veg, then add the cooked rice. Depending on whether it's hot (just cooked) or cold (leftover rice), it will need 2 minutes or 5 minutes to finish cooking/warming up. Mix it all together

If you want, you could add some chopped peanuts and/or fresh mint or coriander to the dish after serving.

This was so quick and simple to throw together and it was perfect for using up leftover cooked rice and chicken. It's also good for clearing out the veg box of the fridge. The kids loved it too.

This is a great use-up dish and can be adapted to suit whatever you have in the fridge, so I'm adding it to the #KitchenClearout linky.

Tuesday 23 June 2020

Book review : Those We Left Behind - Stuart Neville

Those We Left Behind is a book that I grabbed for a bargaintastic £1 at The Works - can't say fairer than that ! The front cover gives off a really brooding, dark feeling that appealed to me, but I didn't know any more about the book or the author. From looking on Goodreads, I have discovered that this is the first book featuring DCI Serena Flanagan and she comes back in a second novel, So Say The Fallen.

The novel focuses on a pair of brothers, Ciaran and Thomas Devine, who have just been reunited after the younger brother, Ciaran, was released from prison. They both spent their formative years in jail after murdering their foster father, having accused him of sexual assault. Ciaran admitted to the crime, but there was still some doubt as to whether he was really the guilty party.

As well as DCI Flanagan, Paula Cunningham, Ciaran's probation officer, is also involved with trying to keep Ciaran on the straight and narrow. Things start off OK, with Ciaran getting a job and making a new start in life, but the brothers have a toxic effect on each other and on those that they come into contact with. Despite everyone's best intentions, they seem to be stuck on a slippery slope going down with no hope of finding a better life.

It is an interesting storyline and the tension mounts in the final chapters, but somehow, I found it was lacking a certain oomph. I found it hard to keep track of who was who and kept mixing up Flanagan and Cunningham's roles in the novel. I think it would have been better to have had a deeper look at the two women and their motivations. Certain things - such as Flanagan's former battle with cancer and the suspicious death of her friend - seemed underplayed, but maybe they will come back in the follow-on novel. There is certainly more that could be said about them. Flanagan's relationship with her husband and kids wasn't really developed either. I'd have definitely preferred a deeper look at the main players in the novel, as even the boys' past is glossed over in a few short paragraphs.

It's an enjoyable read with definite elements of tension, especially in the final chapters, but I thought it could have been further developed. I actually wondered if this was a book in a series, which had already explained the backgrounds of the different characters, but as it's the first in the series, this should be the one setting out all the background information.

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £7.99

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (5 May 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099578387
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099578383

Monday 22 June 2020

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 26

This week is a weird week for meal planning because (in theory) Sophie will be back home and will undoubtedly have a list of things she wants to eat that she hasn't eaten all year. But I've done the shopping already so she'll have to make do with catching up at lunchtimes ! Pierre's back to full time school and I've got meetings on my two days off so it'll be a busy week. Last week, we stuck pretty much to plan, except for the kids convincing me to take them to McDonald's and also grabbing a kebab ! I'll let them off though, as we haven't had any takeaways/fast food since before lockdown. The things we didn't eat just use store cupboard basics (omelette, pasta & sauce) so that's not a problem. They'll come in another time.


dinner - Sophie should be arriving around 7pm so by the time she's home and settled in, we'll need something quick. I'll keep pasta carbonara as option A, unless she drags us to a pizza restaurant near the station for option B !


dinner- ribs (and chipolatas, as there may not be enough - the kids can eat the rest for lunches) with rice & coleslaw


lunch- garlic & pepper chicken with creamy potato bake & veg

dinner- steak with rice (or leftover creamy potato bake) & salad


dinner- chicken burger, coleslaw & twisty chips 


dinner - spicy chicken with Ebly & salad


lunch- hmmm what's the odds on the kids begging to go to McDonald's again ?!

dinner- something from Lidl - pepperoni pizza maybe?


lunch- in theory, I'll have taken Sophie with me to Lidl yesterday, so she can choose

dinner- baked potatoes with tuna/mayo/sweetcorn

***Click on my Menu Plans tag to see all my other weekly menu plan blogposts.***


Sunday 21 June 2020

Project 366 : Photo Diary week 25

What a week, in terms of the weather. It was really hot, so I kept going to school without my coat, then, usually just before home time, it would absolutely pour hard as I headed to the bus stop.  Aaaaggghh ! There were a few storms too but nothing too bad. Work was a bit hectic (again !) as we had all the form teacher summaries to write for the reports and meet up with the head to report back. Every time we finished, they added another new bit to add on (summarise the whole year in the final term report, classify the skills achieved this year, report back on behaviour and work levels for each pupil to mix it all up when we create next year's classes, ...). Every time you thought "aaahh, it's all finished", they'd be back with another "can you just add this". The next two weeks are full of meetings on my days off too, which is a total pain, but then, that's it - the holidays will be here. Yes ! Even better news, but I'm not believing it until it actually happens, Sophie should be back home tomorrow night, as she managed to book up on the Eurostar. Fingers crossed !

Sunday 14th June - We finally took a trip to the beach together and, as it was still morning, we had the beach entirely to ourselves. Here's a look to the right.

And a look to the left. Nobody in sight ! Admittedly, this was about half past nine/ten o' clock and none of the restaurants and ice cream shops were open yet. I'm pretty sure it would have been packed in the afternoon !

Monday - Pierre's teacher asked us to send in a photo of him for them to sort out a class photo. The photographer didn't make it into school before the lockdown, so this is the best they can do this year. Unfortunately, lots of the parents haven't replied so they're not sure it will happen.

Tuesday - We haven't had a single takeaway since the beginning of lockdown back in March, but over the last few weeks, the shops have been reopening to the public, rather than just carrying on with Uber Eats deliveries. Pierre suddenly asked if we could get a kebab from our local shop. Well, why not?! If we're back to work and school, surely a quick wander round the corner for food is OK now ! The shop itself is closed to the public - you order and pay at one window then pick it up at another, so it's a bit like a walk-through McDrive ! The kids were over the moon to get their hands on fast food and we had enough leftovers for the next day's meal too !

Wednesday - It was absolutely pouring hard, on and off, for most of the day. Where did all the summer sun from the weekend go? Can we have it back, please ?!

Thursday - A busy day at work so, when I saw two Collared Doves through the kitchen window, happily sitting on the fence as I cooked dinner, I decided to grab a quick photo for the day. Just as I took the picture, they started to do this ! When I pushed the button to take the photo, they looked totally innocent, honest ! lol

Friday - My new day off ! I was supposed to have a meeting in the morning, but I managed to grab an hour in the afternoon yesterday when I was already at work - yay ! I grabbed Pierre and took him to the hairdresser's for the first time since ... I don't even know when but it was back before the start of lockdown. There was so much hair on the floor ! In the afternoon, we had to head back to the orthodontist's to pick up Juliette's new retainer. Apparently, it makes her teeth click and crack so she's worried about it breaking her teeth !

Saturday - "Mum? You know how we got a kebab at the start of the week? Well, can we go back to McDonald's too now?" . Well, it is now open to customers, not just Uber Eats, so I said we'd head into town, see what the situation was and take it from there. I said that if it was really busy, we'd get take-away and go outside into the marina to eat it. We left it until late, around 2pm, and in the end,  there was hardly anyone there so we ate in. This is definitely a sign that life is getting back to normal, even if we did have masks on until we sat down to eat. Juliette and Pierre have been winding up Sophie about what she's missing out on now, so I can see us doing all this again next week, if she makes it home !

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Saturday 20 June 2020

Fab freebies of the week 20/6

What a crazy week we've had, weather-wise ! One minute hot and sunny, then pouring hard, with thunder rumbling, before the sun came back out. It's been going on for days so I'm totally fed up with it now ! I have no plans for this weekend - time to chill out and catch up with some Netflix ! Whatever you have planned, have a lovely weekend. Here's this week's roundup of the best offers I've seen. :)


Standard Chartered and Liverpool FC are giving away 500 hardback copies of the King Kenny Book.

Get the glow and claim your sample of Caudalie’s new Vinoperfect Dark Spot Correcting Moisturizer (15ml). Hurry, there are just 500 up for grabs!

Sampleo have a new campaign to sign up for :  Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2019 “A taste of New Zealand awaits.”

FREE gift box for the first 100 responses each day!
You might have seen our Oat M*lk in your local cafe, or our cans stacked up in your local shop. Or maybe you’re here because you’ve seen a huge billboard somewhere in London?
Either way, we’re offering free sample boxes so you can meet the whole Minor Figures crew.

Netmums need 100 families to put the new Quorn Classic Chilli Pouch to the test!

On M&M's UK facebook page : We’re offering the chance to win 1 of 50 'Thank You' packs of M&Ms to those ‘Everyday Heroes’ who deserve it.

Register to win 1 of 100 7-day courses of our NEW Protinol Skin Reset Plumping Shots.

Answer 5 easy questions correctly to get your FREE 50ml sachet of Nikwax BaseFresh

You can see previous weeks' freebie roundups by clicking here but be warned, many of the offers are only valid for a short time. Let me know if any have expired and I'll remove them from the roundup.

You may also like to enter my current giveaways :

Coming soon

Thursday 18 June 2020

June 2020 Degustabox review : Picnic

The postman dropped off the latest Degustabox this week and it has a theme of Picnic. Well, we're into June so it's definitely the right time of year but, even if we're out of confinement now, it still doesn't seem right to be going out for a picnic. That won't stop us gobbling up all the goodies at home though !

Here's the contents of this month's box. There were lots of oohs and aahs from the kids as they spotted things that they wanted to try ! It's a nice mixture of snacks, drinks and a few bits that can be used for lunch or breakfast.

Attack A Snak Chilli Heat Nachos Snack Kit (RRP £1.50) is a product that I remember reviewing in a previous kit - I've just checked and we received the original Nachos kit back in the August 2019 Degustabox. This kit contains a portion of chilli heatwave tortilla chips, a smoky chipotle dip and a cooling sour cream and chive sauce. As they say, just top 'em, dip 'em and snack 'em ! Juliette loved this last time and she was happy to try them again. She loved this one too, but thought it was a bit too spicy for her tastes ! Each 90g serving contains 313 calories, 17g of fat of which 1.5g saturates, 12g of sugars and 1.5g of salt. A bit heavy for a snack but you could add extra veggies and salad and make it into lunch. Available at Morrison's. (Please not that it has a short use-by date, due to the sauce.)

If you're more of a fan of sweet treats, you might prefer Barù Milk Chocolate Marshmallow Bar (RRP £1.69). This gourmet vanilla bean marshmallow bar has a chai latte topping and is smothered in milk chocolate. I have to admit, I was dubious about the chai latte flavour, but it's actually very nice. Made with real spices, bourbon vanilla bean and honey, it has a grown-up, refined flavour that adults will love. 

Another one for the adults ! Blossom Hill Gin Fizz (RRP £9) is a perfect sparkling drink option for chilling out in the summer. Available in both Original and Rhubarb flavours, it is a bubbly blend of wine and botanically infused water with a dash of gin. I'm not sure why or how gin has become so ultra-popular in recent years, but this is sure to appeal to its fans ! It can be served over ice with a slice of fruit or just on its own, straight from the fridge. It's refreshing, fun and perfect for a (long overdue) catch-up with the girls !

Rhubarb seems to be a popular flavour at the moment as it's one of the options in the range of Le Joli Infused Water (RRP 2 x £1). Degustaboxers received two out of the three flavours: Mexican Lime Mint, Scottish Raspberry Rhubarb and Sicilian Lemon Mandarin. Le Joli is a sparkling water infused with natural flavours and nothing else, so no artificial ingredients, sugars or sweeteners. All the benefits of water with a great taste! I really liked these. The Mexican Lime Mint vaguely reminded me of the flavour of mojito and brought back summer holiday memories. The raspberry/rhubarb combination is tangy and refreshing too.

Lizi's High Protein / Low Sugar Granola (RRP 2 x 75p for 40g/£3.80 for 350g High Protein pack or 500g Low Sugar pack) offer a tasty breakfast option, in-keeping with your dietary choices. They are high in fibre, GL tested and vegan-friendly. The Low Sugar option only includes 1.9g of sugar per serving, while a single serving of High Protein gives you 22% of your daily protein needs ! They're both nice with yogurt or milk, especially if you sprinkle some fruit and nuts on top.

Gregory's Tree (RRP 2 x 69p) is a snack option that we'd never heard of before, but we'll be looking out for it in the future. It's a tasty fruit twist snack bar that is free from dairy, gluten and wheat and is made with organic ingredients. We got two Blueberry and Raspberry Twists but they are also available in Strawberry flavour too. They are made from pure organic fruit, which is gently heated and pulped to give it that extra tasty twist. They're naturally great tasting, only contain 60 calories and are vegan-friendly. Great for lunch boxes or just for keeping in the cupboard as snacks.

Hippeas Organic Chickpea Puffs (RRP £1) are a brand that we have tried before in previous Degustaboxes and the kids love them. We got the Take It Cheesy variety, which were gobbled up enthusiastically, but other subscribers got Salt & Vinegar or Sweet & Smokey. I was intially dubious about chickpea puffs, but they taste just the same as other popular snacks. They're light, crunchy and very moreish ! These ones have a really strong, delicious cheesy flavour. They are totally organic, gluten-free, vegan friendly and contain less than 90 calories per single-serve pack.

Maynards Bassetts Super Fruit Jellies (RRP £1) are delicious too. They contain 30% fruit juice and are a source of vitamins. In fact, six sweets contain 15% of the recommended daily intake of vitamins C and E. The flavours are refreshingly different - papaya, pomegranate, blueberry and cranberry. Very tasty !

Despite the rain that is pouring down as I type this, we're well into summer so it's the perfect time for Newman's Own Italian Dressing & Dip (RRP £1.65). This is lovely for zinging up a quick salad for lunch or for dipping carrot sticks into when the kids are hungry ! All profits after taxes are given to Newman's Own Foundation, which somehow makes it taste even better !

Olly's Garlic & Basil Olives (RRP £1.50) are quite simply lovely. The finest green Greek Halkidiki olives are combined with a delicious marinade for the ultimate olive snack experience. The flavour is really tasty - similar to garlic and herb but somehow fresher - and combine really well with the olives. Their pouches contain no messy oils, no stones and no artificials. At less than 75 calories per pouch, they are the perfect on-the-go snack or meal topper. Even better, I'm the only one who likes olives so I can gobble up the whole lot !

NINE Bars (RRP 2 x £1.29) are tasty seed bars that are a great balance of natural health and indulgence. They are made of a nutritious blend of sunflower, pumpkin, sesame and hemp seeds, so they are high in fibre, as well as being a source of magnesium. The salted caramel and cocoa orange flavours add extra indulgence though. They're pretty tasty and are proudly vegan, gluten and wheat free and 100% plant protein.

Jamaican Jerky Noisy Corn (RRP £1.49) is a brand new product, available online at www.noisysnacks.com or coming soon to supermarkets. The Noisy Snacks brand promises to be a sensory adventure waiting to happen. They explain : "Noise is our secret ingredient because every time you shake a pack, you activate the extra flavours at the bottom of the bag. (Most snack companies use 4% flavouring: we use 8%). Double the taste. Double the flavour. Double the fun." I was slightly nervous about the Jamaican Jerky flavoured Roasted Crunchy Corn because I thought the spice levels would blow my head off, but it was actually very tasty. Other options that you might want to check out include Beef Brisket, Hot Spicy Salsa or Pulled Pork Broad Bean Chips, Avocado & Lime, Black Pepper & Berry and Piri Piri Mango Chickpeas, Smoky Bacon Jalapeno, Pickled Onion and Sweet Thai Peanuts and Red Curry & Coconut or Hot Chicken Wings Crunchy Corn. Definitely worth trying !

 Lots of lovely new snacks to try out in this month's box. A subscription to Degustabox costs £12.99 per month including delivery, with each box having a value of much more than that, but the great news is, I have a discount coupon code for you which means you'll get the first box for just £9.99 - enter code PKUFE at the checkout. 

for more information :

Also now on Instagram @DegustaboxUK

Disclosure : We received the box in order to write an honest review. As a Degustabox blogger, I receive all of the products that go into the monthly boxes, but subscribers may not get exactly the same selection.

Tuesday 16 June 2020

Book review : The Strange Adventures of H - Sarah Burton

If there is a book out there that is perfect for reading in our current situation, it has to be The Strange Adventures of H by Sarah Burton. It focuses on a character who survived another similarly bleak situation, the Great Plague of London in 1665. There's something strangely reassuring in reading about a character who faced an even bleaker situation than the one we are currently experiencing and came out of the other side, moving on to better times. 

The central character, H, definitely had a harder time than most of us, as she lived in a society that was incredibly restrictive, particularly for the fairer sex. Having lost her parents as a young girl, she started off her life journey at her kindly aunt's house in London, but this happy period was sadly short-lived. A lecherous cousin left her pregnant and cast out on the streets, just as the city was closing in on itself to face the new threat of the plague.

H is not one to sit back and lick her wounds though. Whatever life throws at her, she has an unconquerable desire to not just survive but to thrive. She reminded me very much of a heroine from a Dickensian novel, with her witty comebacks and absolutely appealing ability to work around her foes. Despite the olde worlde setting, she is in many ways a modern heroine. She will do whatever it takes to find the destiny that she thinks she deserves.

The book is written by Dr Sarah Burton, an Oxbridge professor whose interest in history and the position of women in society both come together in this novel. She wrote her PhD on ‘The public woman’: An investigation of the actress/whore analogy 1660-1700 and this is very much the sense that comes through in reading the book. I loved the fact that the book gave me a real sense of what it was like to live in such times, while providing the odd unexpected belly laugh too !

star rating : 4.5/5

ISBN (Paperback): 9781789551266 
ISBN (Ebook): 9781789551273
Price: £8.99 (Paperback) £4.99 (Ebook) 
Extent: 272 pages
Format: 198x129mm
 Markets: World English
Translation rights: No

Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book.

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