Beany Book review

A Beany Book Review

Hello Beany here! Mummy Beans tells me she’s been reading lots of books, well so have I and I wanted to stop by and tell you about my favourite three, so while mummy’s making dinner I snuck onto the computer.

Here they are:

foxs socks

Fox’s Socks by Julia Donaldson

Boy does this woman write a good book. It keeps you guessing right until the end. Is Fox ever going to find all of his socks? I’ve just got to find out. Each page I help Fox find a new piece of clothing that’s hidden in a box or a cupboard. He seems to be a very disorganised Fox. I always know where my socks are, in fact mummy insists that I put them all back in the draw once I’ve finished sorting them.

Conclusion: Compelling, action packed story about socks, what more could you want?

Oh The Places You’ll Go by Dr Seuss

Oh the places you will go

I love the pictures in this book. There’s so much to look at. There’s a funny little thing that looks a bit like a cat and walks along finding different places. He even gets to ride in a hot air balloon. Mummy says it’s talking about the ups and downs in life and how we all have them. Don’t I know it! I said to her, you try eating ratatouille when what you really want is hotdogs. I’m not sure she understood.

Conclusion: Hard hitting reality but I love the pictures.

We’re Going On A Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury


This is a about a family of intrepid explorers who go looking for a bear. I’m not quite sure why because when they find the bear they all run away and the bear’s clearly only trying to make friends with them. The best bit is the actions mummy does for this especially when we get to the snow storm scene. I could read this one again and again.

Conclusion: Adventure story with a funny family who don’t understand a bear’s need for a hug.

Beany Book review

What books are you reading at the moment? I’d love to know so don’t forget to let mummy know so she can add them to my library!

Medicinal Herbs Butser Ancient Farm

Medicinal Herbs with Laura Uphill

Another rainy day and another course at Butser Ancient Farm but  tucked away  in the Saxon roundhouse, with a fire to keep us warm, we were content to let the British weather do what it may.

Medicinal Herbs - Fire in the saxon house

I was here to learn about medicinal herbs through time with Laura Uphill a Medicinal Herbalist and Teacher of Classical Chinese Medicine, and I couldn’t wait to get started. I have attended a couple of foraging courses and I hoped that this course would consolidate existing knowledge and build on it further giving me more confidence.

Medicinal Herbs-- All set up

The day started with a medicinal herb walk around the site where we learnt about everyday UK plants growing in the hedgerows: hawthorn, st johns wort, blackberry, dandelion leaf, comfrey, white dead nettle, elder flower, rosehips, red clover, yarrow, teasel, walnut leaf, sweet chestnut and plantain. Buster also has a Roman herb garden and here we learnt a bit about thyme, lovage and mallow. For such a small site there is a huge variety of edible plants that have health benefits or are just simply yummy in a salad.

As the rain started again we returned to the Saxon round house and after lunch Laura showed us how to make herb tea and the difference between a standard cup and a medicinal dose. We all tried a cup of plantain tea, a plant easy enough to find and identify and is good for sinus infections as it strengths the mucus lining. Decoctions were next up and theses are usually made from seeds or bark. They are small amounts of strong herbs and water boiled down and used for medicinal purposes such as a sore throat.

Medicinal Herbs - Table of herbs to teach

Laura showed us how to make a basic soap next and this is so simple I’m definitely doing this myself from now on! Tinctures were discussed and how to make an extremely basic one. Hawthorn berries make a good tincture for the circulation and I think I’ll be trying that one this autumn if I can get out and collect the berries when they are ripe.

Medicinal Herbs - Making a Salve

Finally a salve made using bees-wax, almond oil, calendula, honeysuckle, elderflower and camomile to soothe the skin. We each had a piece of soap and a salve to take home with us and they both smell wonderful.

Medicinal Herbs - soap and salve

The message I took away from the course is that seasonal eating, healthy digestion and diet are the key to good health and that medicinal herbs can be used to complement this. Get your diet right and everything else will follow. Herbs can be used to help with ailments and to maintain a balance but not as an alternative to seasonal eating and a balanced diet. It’s also important to say that this is not homeopathy. It’s herbal medicine using raw ingredients .

If you are just starting out and want a general overview with some ways to identify basic plants, that you can start using yourself, pretty much straight away, then this is a great course. My confidence has grown as previous knowledge was compounded and I learnt new things about the plants and nature around me.

Medicinal Herbs - Pigs at Butser Ancient Farm

Laura’s style of teaching is conversational, lively and accessible. She is often doing three things at a time in order to get everything covered in the day, however she is more than happy to stop and explain or answer any questions you have along the way.

You can find Laura’s website here for more information. Now I’m off to check the hawthorn berries.

Apologies for the slightly fuzzy photos, the light in the Saxon house was not the best. Have you been on a herbal medicine course? Have been on one of Laura’s course? What did you think? Don’t forget to let me know below.

Tuesbury Allotment Society Newsletter


I promised to water the vegetables on Blake’s allotment whilst he’s away visiting his daughter in Devon and while I was in the shed  I found this on the work bench. Intriguing!

Microsoft Word - Allotment Society Newsletter.docx

Poor Delilah, I hope she can salvage the strawberries in time for the village show! To find out if she does make your pledge to help the next Blake Hetherington mystery become a reality …




Have you experience vandalism on your allotment? Was your veg trampled or stolen?

Please note this is a fictitious newsletter created for ‘A deadly Orientation’ crowdfunder by D S Nelson and as such all references to persons or places, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.
What Would You Pledge

What Would You Pledge?

Crowdfunding is a phenomenon that has been around, in one form or another, for several centuries. We may not be aware of it but many authors, dating back to the eighteenth century, used this form of funding to publish their books. Instead of an online project, like those of the twenty-first century, their campaigns involved subscriptions to their work, pre-sales of their books and sponsorship from benevolent benefactors. Now, three centuries later, I’m crowdfunding my next mystery.

There are a many different elements to bringing a book to print and community support is invaluable in this process. In some ways the digital age has allowed us to become more disparate and insular. We rarely have the close-knit physical communities we used to and so we turn to the digital form of fund-raising: crowdfunding.

But it’s easy to focus on our own projects and forget that we still have community, it’s just moved. If we look for it it’s there. My research into crowdfunding and launching my own project has meant I have discovered some wonderfully creative people and I thought I’d share some of the projects I have backed with you.

Screen Shot 2016-08-18 at 11.45.16

A fund for a lifeboat that not that far away from us and in a place we visit. Maybe one day that boat will save someone’s life. That’s a worthy cause if ever there was one. Gin to fuel more writing or perhaps a gift for Christmas, not only a bottle of artisan Gin but a stake in a new and exciting project. An art installation raising awareness of where our food comes from, something many of us have forgotten and perhaps need a physical reminder of. And lastly a vision of a better world, an understanding of the changes we’ve made to our planet and how perhaps we could work towards changing that.

By launching a crowdfunder both the creator and the audience are a part of the project and contribute to helping it become a reality and I hope you’ll join me in making the next Blake Hetherington just such a reality.



Be a part of the next mystery

I’d love to hear your thoughts on crowdfunding and if you have pledged to any yourself

Blank bookcover with clipping path

Be A Part Of The Next Mystery

It’s here!, The crowdfunder you’ve all been waiting for.

I’m always looking for new ways to publish books and so for the seventh mystery in the Blake Hetherington series, ‘A Deadly Orientation’, I’ve launched a crowdfunder. Here’s a little more about it:

Why back this book?

Exclusive rewards!

Rewards such as, Hetheringtonism window stickers, a themed geocache from ‘A Deadly Orientation’, or the chance to name a character in the book, are exclusive to this project and will not be offered anywhere else.

You will be one of the first to read this mystery. The e-book will not be released until 2017. The first print run of the paperback will also be numbered. Further print runs will not be.

Blake is a gentleman milliner often finding himself involved in murder and he needs your help to tell his tale. All you have to do is have faith in Blake and pledge as little a £5 to help publish this tale of murder, missing artefacts, geocaching and foraging.

It would be amazing if you pledged for this project and all help and support is very much appreciated. It would also be awesome if you felt you could share this post or the crowdfunder link with your friends.

I’ll be keeping you all updated so for now, keep on pledging🙂




For more information about the books in the Blake Hetherington series, click here.

Memories Lost In The Digital Age

My aunt visited recently and brought with her a piece of family history:

Grandpas Note

This is a scan of a note from my grandfather telling my aunt that I had arrived in the world. My grandfather sadly died soon after and I never met him but this precious little piece of history will stay with us all forever and I wanted to share it.


Well, when Beany was born we sent texts and emails. There isn’t a note announcing her arrival. It makes me wonder what other memories will be lost in the digital age. This note has reminded me not to take the technology we have for granted, to return to pen and paper, make notes of life events and write each other letters. I recently started writing to my father each week instead of a ‘phone call and it’s encouraged me to write down the everyday little things and tell him about Beany and how she’s developing.

It’s a sober thought, that in a digital age, we may not have physical memories to pass onto our children but it’s important and I’m going to try harder.

I’d love to know what memories you treasure and perhaps any notes you have from loved ones long gone. Are you preserving your memories or will they be lost in the digital age?

Finished sleepers - shovelling the concrete

Bloomin’ Update: Laying The Foundations

In the last bloomin’ update the sleepers were in but without foundation. Over the last few weekends that has all changed so I’m stopping by with a quick update.

With the help of a friend, handwork and lots of concrete the sleeper section of the garden is complete.

Finished sleepers - above

Now we just have to work out how we’re going to get the soil into a walled garden with no side access, in order to build the garden up. As they say, where there’s a will there;s a way.Everything’s possible it just may take some time.

In the meantime, Beany is loving the sunshine we’ve been having this summer and has been watering the plants and discovering the joys of honey scented Buddleja.

Finished sleepers - Beany watering flowers

Have you completed a garden makeover? We’d love to know if you have so don’t forget to let us know. If you’d like to keep up with our work on the garden then I’ll be posting photos on Instagram. Why not join us there.

Today is the day

Speculative fiction writer, blogger and all round nice guy Craig Boyack has just announced the publication of his next anthology of short stories! It’s only 99c/99p and is a great little taster of his very fine writing. You’d be crazy to miss it!

Entertaining Stories

Well, it’s one of the days. My newest book The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack II is now available for purchase on Amazon. It’s a pre-sale, and the books will deliver on August 31st. That is the other day.

I wanted to do a short pre-sale, but Lisa my robotic assistant must have messed up. Let’s talk about the actual book.

This is similar to the first Experimental Notebook, in that it’s a collection of short stories and micro-fiction. It’s also similar in that it’s priced at 99¢.

I decided to make the alchemy wheels into a kind of theme. The first Notebook has one, this book has two, and should there be a third volume it will have three wheels. That way the covers are similar, but also unique.

This book has some science fiction, some paranormal, and one that barely qualifies as fantasy. I love fantasy, but…

View original post 474 more words

Mary Kubica

Book Review: Don’t You Cry, Mary Kubica

Year Published (UK) – 2016

First Line – ‘In hindsight, I should have known right away that something wasn’t quite right.’

A Review:

I wouldn’t always choose a psychological thriller, preferring murder mystery,  but it is an end of the crime genre I do occasionally enjoy and I was delighted when I won a hardback copy of this book via a blog giveaway. It was a chance to try something new from a new and highly respected author.

I often shy away from reviewing books that I didn’t enjoy that much. If a book just wasn’t for me then I move on to the next one but I want this blog to contain balanced reviews and so that means reviewing the ones that were just a bit ‘meh’ *shrugs shoulders*.

You’re probably shouting at the screen right now because Mary Kubica is a New York Times bestseller and each one of her books are much awaited.

The story starts with Quinn, who’s flat mate has gone missing and she blames herself. In a different state Alex observes a new customer in the cafe where he works and becomes obsessed with her and what she is doing in his town. Their stories build and collide as the conclusion is reached.

So why didn’t I like it? There were two main reasons, the pacing and the writing style.

I felt the pacing was very slow, snail’s pace in fact with not much actually happening  until the end when everything seems to happen in the last four chapters. There’s an art to building suspense and I admire it but this book just annoyed me. Rather than making me want to find out more I found the characters were self indulgent and not really telling us much about the plot, focussing on their own back stories rather than that of the victim that had gone missing. The mystery in the book – where Esther Vaughan has disappeared to – played second fiddle to the internal self-loathing of Quinn or the teenage struggles of Alex.

The second point which took something away from the story for me was the  writing style. Despite being told through the eyes of two different people of very different ages and backgrounds the voices were the same throughout the book. They weren’t clearly distinguishable which made it difficult to get a grip on the real characters.

Was there anything I liked?

Of course! Mary Kubica’s descriptions of place take you right there and the style of moving from one character to another as they tell the story is an irresistible one for me, but in the end this book  just missed the mark .

If you like psychological thrillers this is definitely that but I will say it’s heavily character focused and almost feels like a coming of age journey for Alex and Quinn, leaving the reader, or at least me, a little confused as to what all that was about.

Have you read any of Mary Kubica’s work? What did you think, I’d love to hear. Don’t forget to leave you comments below.

A big thank you to Rebecca Bradley for giving me the opportunity to try Mary Kubica. Check out her blog,Murder To A Tea’ by clicking on the link.

You can read more of my reviews via Goodreads here.

And Now For Something Completely Different

It’s Friday! It’s time for a cover reveal!

Last month saw me finish the first draft of the seventh mystery entitled, ‘A Deadly Orientation.’ 

Whenever a new book is born there comes the excitement of choosing a new cover and this one is no different. I’ve decided to come out from behind the keyboard and create a little video for this cover reveal, so here it is …

I hope you’ll join me for the crowdfunder for this book I’ll be launching later in the month. I’ll be keeping people up to date with what’s going on via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, this blog and of course my newsletter.

I am now able to offer a novelette, the first of the Blake Hetherington mysteries, ‘Hats Off To Murder’, free via e-mail when you sign up for my newsletter list. To get your copy don’t delay, sign up today.