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Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Does the Minions movie live up to the hype?


The Minions first found fame in Universal’s Despicable Me (2010). Following the subsequent release of Despicable Me 2 (2013), the Minions found a firm place in the hearts of children and adults alike.

2015 brings the release of the Minions first solo film. But does it manage to live up to the hype?

The film starts off by showing the Minions’ timeline. We see them evolve from single-celled yellow organisms, serving the most despicable masters they can find through time, from a T- Rex to Napoleon. However, the Minions are continuously unsuccessful at keeping these masters, and over time they gradually run out of masters and become deeply depressed. But one Minion, Kevin, has a plan. He sets off in search of a new master alongside fellow Minions Stuart and Bob.

The trio soon find themselves heading to Villain Con, where they meet their next potential master – Scarlet Overkill, the world’s first female supervillain. But, of course, things don’t go entirely to plan and soon the three have to save the whole of Minionkind.

Continue reading: http://www.kettlemag.co.uk/article/does-minions-movie-live-hype

Monday, 29 June 2015

Book Review & Giveaway (CLOSED): All My Secrets by Sophie McKenzie

All My Secrets by Sophie McKenzie book cover

AD* | The shocking reality behind a GBP10 million inheritance turns Evie Brown's world on its head. Unable to find out the truth from her parents, Evie ends up on the mysterious island of Lightsea, where her desire for answers leads her towards a series of revelations that threaten everything she holds dear... including her life.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Book Review: Anvil of God by J. Boyce Gleason

Anvil of God by J Boyce Gleason book cover

AD* | It is 741. After subduing the pagan religions in the east, halting the march of Islam in the west, and conquering the continent for the Merovingian kings, mayor of the palace Charles the Hammer now wants the throne. Only one thing stands in his way - he's dying.

Charles cobbles together a plan to divide the kingdom among his three sons, betroth his daughter to a Lombard prince to secure his southern border, and keep the Church unified behind them through his friend Bishop Boniface. Despite his best efforts, the only thing to reign after Charles's death is chaos. His daughter has no intention of marrying anyone, let alone a Lombard prince. His two eldest sons question the rights of their younger pagan stepbrother, and the Church demands a steep price for their support. Son battles son, Christianity battles paganism, and Charles's daughter flees his court for an enemy's love.

Based on a true story, Anvil of God is a whirlwind of love, honour, sacrifice, and betrayal that follows a bereaved family's relentless quest for power and destiny.

Friday, 26 June 2015

Five things to do in Canterbury, Kent


Situated in the middle of Kent, the garden of England, Canterbury is one of the country’s oldest cities. Canterbury is known mostly for its impressive cathedral, but there is a lot more to the city than most people know.

To me, Canterbury is like a second home. It’s where I went to university, where I found my independence, and where I fell in love. Sometime in the future I’d like to move back there, but for now all I can do is tell you about it.

Because of its history the city is a major tourist attraction (there are always parties of coach tours and school trips wandering around) so there is plenty to see and do in Canterbury all year round. Much as I’d love to list it all here that would take a very long time, so instead I’ve chosen five of the best things to do in Canterbury, England. If you’re ever in the area, you won’t want to miss these!

Canterbury Cathedral

Of course, it would be impossible to write a guide to Canterbury without including the cathedral. The original cathedral was built by St Augustine, the first Archbishop of Canterbury, in around 597 AD. However, the current cathedral dates from 1070, just after the Norman Conquest.

Even if you’re not a religious person, the cathedral is great to visit because of its stunning architecture and wealth of history. If you go inside, you can see the spot where Archbishop Thomas Becket was famously murdered in 1170, now marked by a dramatic modern sculpture. The crypt, cloisters and cathedral grounds also help to make Canterbury Cathedral the perfect place to visit.

Continue reading: http://www.kettlemag.co.uk/article/five-things-do-canterbury-kent

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Wish list: Powder scarves

So I was recently browsing the web when I came across Powder. If you haven't heard of them before, Powder are a company specialising in women's accessories like scarves and gloves. They were founded in the UK in 2009 and have since gone from strength to strength, even launching in the US in 2012.

I've had a look at some of Powder's lighter spring scarves, and to show you some of my favourites I've decided to do a wish list post. (Note: I'm not getting paid for this post!)

1. Colour Riot Print - £18


I've started with my favourite of Powder's spring scarves collection. The pastels version of the Colour Riot Print is my favourite mainly because of the colours. They're less in-your-face than the brights version, and they blend well together. I also like the pattern - it's noticeable but not attention-seeking.

2. Tabitha - £22


This one is the lightest of the light, made from layered sheer organza and perfect for summer. I like the way the material looks when it's draped, with the light shining and reflecting off different layers and making it look much more multi-faceted. My favourite colour for the Tabitha scarf is raspberry, because it's such a lovely rich colour that really brings out the quality of the material.

3. Zoe - £18


This came very close to being my overall favourite, but the Colour Riot Print just cinched it. I love the pattern of the Zoe - the zigzag print and varying thickness of the bands give it a fun and almost childlike feel. The colour options are also gorgeous, though I prefer it in the purple mix. It's fun, feminine and playful - perfect for a day in the sun!

Are you a fan of Powder's scarves? Tell me your favourites in the comments below!

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Five summer breaks in Northern England and Scotland


Holidaying doesn’t have to break the bank. If you’re looking for a getaway this summer, there’s no need to look abroad when there are some great holiday destinations right here in the UK.

So in partnership with Kettle Mag's article on the best short summer breaks in mid-southern England and Wales, here’s my pick of the best summer breaks in northern England and Scotland.

The Lake District

The Lake District National Park, in northwest England, is primarily known for its series of glacial lakes, fell walking, and Kendal mint cake. But did you know it’s also home to Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain? Unsurprisingly, there are plenty of opportunities in the Lake District for fell-walking and taking in the stunning views, but there are also thriving towns to visit, like Keswick and Bowness-on-Windermere. For the lakes themselves, Derwentwater and Windermere are the most popular, and boat tours are available for both. If you’re looking for something a little more adventurous, why not go horse riding or try a Segway tour?

Find out the rest and continue reading: http://www.kettlemag.co.uk/article/five-short-summer-breaks-northern-england-and-scotland

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Blog Tour: Sweet on Wilde by Fabiola Francisco

Last week I reviewed Sweet on Wilde by Fabiola Francisco. You can see my review here.

This week, I'm taking part in the book's blog tour - so check out the post below! 

amazon-goodreads

Eight months ago, I made a deal with my best friend. This wasn't your typical pact. No, we had to take a different route. The deal was that if we were still single by fall, we would join online dating. Yes…now I am that girl. Just me, though, because she met a guy and saved herself from the awkwardness of dating people you meet via the Internet.

Cheesy pick up lines.
Inappropriate messages.
Disaster dates.

I don’t want to be "Savannah, profile 8713," but a pinky promise is a promise you keep. What I wasn’t counting on was meeting a guy at the local bar.

So what happens when you decide to open yourself up to new opportunities? You might just cross paths with someone who makes you believe in love. Parker Wilde brought out the best in me and understood the worst, but when an amazing opportunity presents itself and our lives take different directions, is being sweet on Wilde enough for us?

Sweet on Wilde
SW fan teaser


The music blasting from the speakers draws me, and I move my body to the beat as I sit by the bar facing the dance floor. Although Southern is a more laid back bar, it has a small area designated for the patrons that want to dance without feeling like they’re disrupting the flow of the service.
“Let’s go dance.” Parker is eyeing me mischievously, obviously enjoying as I move to the music. The stress he came in with has now totally eased out of his body. He is back to his relaxed, confident self.
“It’s okay. I’m fine here, not much of a dancer,” I lie because the thought of dancing with him throws me off.
“Really? You haven’t stopped moving. Come on,” he reaches his hand out to me. Taking a moment to watch him as he stands before me with his hand out, I can appreciate how good-looking he is. I take his hand and let him lead me towards the small crowd dancing in the center of the venue.
“Sweet Home Alabama” begins to come through the speakers, and as soon as everyone hears the familiar introduction, they get in position, ready to dance the steps taught to us from a young age. In perfect unison, we all begin the line dance, looking like something out of Footloose. As I’m turning with the beat, I notice Parker beside me, following along without missing a step. I look down at his feet, and smile, shaking my head.
Two more songs come on, each with its own line dance to accompany the music, and we all dance. The next song that comes on is a slower one, so I head back to the bar in need of a cold beer to cool down. Line dancing always gets me excited but it can be tiring. Before I make it out of the crowd, an arm jerks me back and turns me. I’m facing Parker, his smile causing my heart rate to speed out of control. “One more,” he says, beginning the two-step to Billy Currington’s lyrics. Leading me around the dance floor, Parker is confident, his grip on me firm as we move through the other people dancing.
“You know, for someone who mocks my boots, yours look quite worn and broken in.”
He chuckles, his grip tightening around my waist. “I may not be from Tuscaloosa, but I am a southern boy, Savannah.” His drawl heavier, making his point.

Fabiola Francisco is a contemporary romance author from Miami, FL. She has always enjoyed writing. When she was young she began writing creatively. It was always a therapeutic way for her to express herself. She began with poetry, and throughout the years went expanding to short narratives until she finally decided to write a novel.
Her love for books has inspired her to write her own stories. Her books range from emotional to lighthearted humor. She is a firm believer in happily ever afters and the sometimes jagged path to achieving it. She hopes to continue writing more stories to reach readers individually.
When she's not writing, Fabiola loves expressing herself through art and being out in nature. She loves to cuddle with a good book and a glass of wine.


Perfeclty Imperfect Cover
amazon-cover
amazon-goodreads

Are you a fan of Fabiola Francisco? Let me know in the comments below!

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Theatre Review: Communicating Doors at the Menier Chocolate Factory


Over the years, prolific playwright Alan Ayckbourn has produced many works exploring the angst and trivialities of the British middle class. He often does this in a highly inventive way, working with intriguing concepts and combining genres to create entirely unique work. Communicating Doors is a perfect example.

Written in 1994, the play can best be described as a comic thriller with a sci-fi twist. As confusing as that sounds, it’s actually a subtle and surprisingly warm-hearted revival, directed brilliantly by Lindsay Posner.

In the year 2020, Reece, a dying businessman (Robert Portal), hires dominatrix Poopay (Rachel Tucker) and invites her to his hotel suite. Once there, he asks her to witness his written confession that he murdered both his first and second wives, or rather, he got his sinister business partner Julian (David Bamber) to do the dirty work for him.

After a struggle, Reece collapses and Julian comes after Poopay. She runs through a connecting door and suddenly finds herself in the year 2000. In this time, the same suite is being occupied by Ruella (Imogen Stubbs), Reece’s doomed second wife. Ruella in turn uses the connecting door, but instead of going forward to the present, she travels back 20 years to 1980 where she finds Reece’s first wife Jessica (Lucy Briggs-Owen). Eventually the three women join forces to try and defeat Julian and avoid their untimely deaths.

Continue reading: http://www.kettlemag.co.uk/article/review-communicating-doors-menier-chocolate-factory

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Book Review: Sweet on Wilde by Fabiola Francisco

Sweet on Wilde by Fabiola Francisco book cover

AD* | Cheesy pick up lines. Inappropriate messages. Disaster dates.

I was tired of being 'Savannah, profile 8713', but I made a deal with my best friend to give online dating a chance. What I wasn’t counting on was meeting a guy at the local bar.

Parker Wilde won me over with his two-step and blue eyes. He brought out the best in me and understood the worst, but when an amazing opportunity presents itself and our lives take different directions, is being sweet on Wilde enough for us?

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Interview: C.A. Jonelle

If you regularly visit my blog, you’ll know that yesterday I reviewed Zaryk - book one in the Twisted Epiphany series - by C.A. Jonelle. (If you missed it, you can read the review here). Today, again as part of Zaryk’s blog tour, I’m interviewing the lovely C.A. Jonelle herself!

Firstly, tell us a little about yourself.

I’m currently working on my bachelor’s degree in accounting and I’m employed full-time as a bank teller. I live in a small town in Ohio with my husband, daughter, 2 dogs, 1 cat, and 6 fish. I started off writing poetry in high school and didn’t start writing stories until my late twenties when a good friend of mine, Mel, brought up the idea of doing writing prompts. It was then that I found my love of writing again (I had given up on it shortly after high school).

How did you first become interesting in writing?

In high school it was a therapy session when I wrote. My poems helped me release what I felt deep down inside. When I started writing the prompts with Mel, it released my desire to write even more. I wanted to tell stories. I wanted to dive into a new world.

How do you get inspiration for your books?

I love rock music and I love rock band romance novels. I love the drama, harshness, sex, and the way these rock stars sweep the love of their life off their feet. I tapped into my crazy imagination and set forth into that world.


What draws you to writing romance?

The drama. I really like the drama. I like making up new lives and watching them develop on the pages. The sex is a nice perk as well ;) 

How did the Twisted Epiphany series come about?

To be honest, it just popped into my head one day. I started writing and let the words flow. It was originally going to be a standalone novel, but then I decided I wanted each guy to have a story of their own.

What’s your writing process?

My writing process is an extremely messy one! I tap out notes into my phone all the time and random snippets are all over the place. It’s not organised very well at all! But it works for me somehow. I can never sit still and my environment is noisy.

What’s the hardest thing about writing?

The writer’s block. There are times when I’ll write every day for a week. Then all of a sudden I won’t have anything for days or even a month!

What do you love most about writing?

I love coming up with the stories. I love getting lost in the writing and forgetting about reality for a bit. Creating the characters and places and plotting is an amazing feeling and almost freeing.

Which authors inspire you?

My awesome friend, Mel. If it wasn’t for her I would have never even gotten this far. She’s the reason I made my dream come true.
Kylie Scott and Michelle A. Valentine. Their rock band series made me realize my love for rock band romance novels.
Edgar Allan Poe. His writing helps keep my mind and imagination sharp.


Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

Take your time. Don’t rush. Keep organised (I never will be lol) and make a budget for your work. Don’t let any discouragement get you down. Just keep on writing.

What’s your all-time favourite book?

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee is my all-time favourite book because it teaches you to put yourself in someone else’s skin and walk around in their shoes. It’s emotional and powerful.

What are your ambitions for your writing career?

I just want to put out great stories that touch my readers somehow. It always puts a smile on my face when I hear someone tell me they loved the book. I also love the reaction I get when they read the shocking parts of the story and ask me “Why?!” or “No! You can’t do that to him or her!” I just want to enjoy writing and publishing and keep having fun with it.

What are you currently working on?

At the moment I’m working on book two, and that’s Zayne’s story. After that, I will tackle Kreed’s, Zayden’s, and then Deklan’s books. I also have notes stashed away for two standalone novels. One is about a woman who battles depression and comes to some realisations about life. The other one is about three individuals of different ages who are bullied and find a way to get through it together. After those, I would like to publish a poetry book and another series involving a female rock band.

Do you prefer e-books or traditional books?

I love both, but prefer e-books because I can have them all on my Kindle and take them with me. Nothing will ever beat the feel of the pages of a real book on my fingers though. I like e-books more because of the convenience of them.

You can find C.A. Jonelle on all the usual social media channels: TwitterTumblr, Pinterest & Wattpad.

Are you a fan of C.A. Jonelle? Let me know in the comments below!

Monday, 15 June 2015

Book Review: Zaryk by C.A. Jonelle

Zaryk by CA Jonelle book cover

AD* | One fatal moment tears Zaryk’s life apart and he struggles to cope with his loss and grief. Years later, with his band ‘Twisted Epiphany’ on the cusp of success, Zaryk is finding the answers in partying and alcohol. Enter Lyndsay, a shy college girl who gives Zaryk hope that there can be happy endings in life. But one night of passion ruins his dreams of something more meaningful and spoils their friendship. Misunderstandings drive them apart and Zaryk is soon lost in a different world as ‘Twisted Epiphany’ become ever more famous. Will he get the chance to tell Lyndsay how he feels? Or will Zaryk’s stardom and Lyndsay’s insecurities keep them apart?

A story of passion, love, loss and the pressures of fame, ‘Zaryk’ is the first in the ‘Twisted Epiphany’ series that follows Zaryk, Zayne, Zayden, Deklan and Kreed as they take their band from small-town success to worldwide phenomenon.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Interview: Alex Olivetti from Threatpoint

threatpoint, metal, music, band

Threatpoint are a groove metal band from Scranton, Pennsylvania, in the US. The band includes Chris James (vocals), CJ Krukowski (drums), Alex Olivetti (guitar), Mike White (guitar) and Eric Ross (bass). I sat down for a chat with Alex about the band, their influences, and what's next for Threatpoint.

What made you first become interested in music?
My father had guitars around the house when I was younger and both he and my mother always had music playing, so it kind of spiralled from there.
How did Threatpoint start?
A mutual friend actually got the ball rolling. CJ and I played in a band with our singer Chris' old band, so we already knew each other. We had a couple line-up changes and currently have Mike and Eric, who came from a band Threatpoint played with numerous times.
Who are your musical influences?
A lot of newer American metal bands - Lamb of God, Killswitch Engage, Trivium, Shadows Fall, Tremonti, etc. I also love some old-school metal like Metallica, Pantera and Testament. In terms of lead playing, Paul Gilbert is my favourite guitar player. I used to play for hours and hours a day with his instructional videos.
What’s your favourite song?
That's a tough one. Probably 'Suffocate' by the band Sevendust. It's got a heavy groove to it with great lyrics.
What music are you listening to currently?
A little bit of everything, from Michael Buble, to Cannibal Corpse, to Elvis.
What’s your favourite lyric?
From another Sevendust tune called 'Confessions' - "You know the world doesn't always love you, but you never let that define you". That's a powerful line that always picks me up when I'm down.
Why did you choose your name?
CJ and Chris were tossing around ideas. The words "Threat" and "Point" were somewhere in the mix so we just combined them. I think the name is a good description for our music as well - aggressive and in your face.
Which of your songs is your favourite?
Man, that's a tough one. I love playing a lot of our songs but my favourite would have to be a toss-up between ‘The Beast Within’ and ‘Collapse’. ‘The Beast Within’ is heavy with a melodic edge and ‘Collapse’ is non-stop energy.
What are your most and least favourite things about being in a band?
I love being able to write and create music with like-minded people, it's the best feeling in the world. Playing shows is always fun, recording and hanging out in the studio and overall just getting along with the guys, we see each other even when we're not doing anything band related. It's a brotherhood that helps keep us moving. As for the least favourite, the travelling can get boring and tiring. We're all very energetic on stage so my body hurts after every show. Having a bad show experience is never fun either.
What are your interests outside of music?
I like movies, sports (football and soccer), video games and just hanging out with friends.
What’s the best moment of your career so far?
We've had some amazing shows over the past two years and got to meet Tim "Ripper" Owens. But the best moments would have to be fans/friends coming up to us and telling us that our music helped them through a tough time in life or even inspired them. Knowing that our music can have such an impact on people is humbling beyond words.
What’s happening in the near future?
We’re currently in the writing process for our third album. So far we have 10 songs written and a couple more ideas floating around.
How can people find out more about you?
Our website is a one stop shop for everything. You can also find us on social media, so subscribe, follow us or give us a like! Thank you for all of the support!
Are you a fan of Threatpoint? Let us know in the comments below!

Friday, 5 June 2015

Book Review: Blurring the Line by Kierney Scott

Blurring the Line by Kierney Scott book cover

AD* | When DEA agent Beth Thomson recruits ex-soldier Armando Torres as an undercover agent, she knows she has hit the jackpot.

He will infiltrate ‘Los Zetas’, one of Mexico’s deadliest cartels, and expose their drug-running into the USA. In turn, she promises to turn a blind eye to him finding and killing the rival cartel member who shot his best friend. Beth is good at overlooking the gruesome details of her job; her focus is the bigger picture – nailing ‘El Escorpion’, the mysterious and most-wanted leader of the ‘Los Treintas’ gang.

Torres soon climbs the cartel ladder and has the tattoo markings to prove his loyalty. So when a secret meet with Beth goes wrong, his cover is strong enough for him to save her from his fellow gang members. His silence hints at the horrors he has performed to get him where he is, and his brutality and strength both scare and arouse Beth simultaneously. The heat between them is unprofessional and yet undeniable. But has he gone rogue? Can Beth trust him to put her mission before his own revenge? And can she trust herself with him?

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Unboxing and review: Goodies from PetShop.co.uk

My dog Max and I were recently lucky enough to have the chance to review some goodies from the lovely people at PetShop.co.uk!

PetShop.co.uk are an online pet food company. They supply pet owners with food, treats, beds, toys… basically everything a pet could need. And although I’m reviewing dog food, they also provide items for cats, small pets, birds, and fish.

They also provide a unique feature called the Bottomless Bowl service. Essentially, you set it up at checkout and they redeliver your order at a frequency that suits both you and your pet, from as often as every two weeks right up to every twelve weeks. This is a really great idea because it makes sure you always have the food your pet needs all the time without the hassle – it eliminates the annoyance of running out of pet food and having to lug a heavy bag all the way home from the supermarket. (Can you tell I like this idea, by any chance?)

Anyway, on with the unboxing!


The parcel arrived promptly and, as you can see, was very well packaged for safe transit. I particularly liked that it was addressed to both me and Max – a funny little personal touch.


So, here are the products that we received. (Excuse the blurry photos, Max was impatient to get his paws on the treats!)


Firstly – Huntland Grain Free dog food.

Max is used to dry food (he normally has Bakers Complete) but it was nice for him to get to try a different brand to normal. At first I wasn’t sure if he’d like the flavour (British grazing lamb with peas and mint leaves), but he soon proved me wrong. He was a little hesitant at first, but after the initial few bites he really seemed to enjoy it. In fact, he definitely seemed to be a lot happier to eat this than he’s been to eat any food for a long while!

Next was Naturediet dog food.

This one I was a little wary of. Max used to have wet food a lot when he was younger, and it sometimes repeated on him. Plus it was so strong that it used to make the whole house smell of dog food, which is partly why we eventually switched him onto dry food. But anyway, the Naturediet food apparently agreed with his system and caused no problems. The flavour we were given was rabbit and turkey with vegetables and rice, and Max certainly liked this one. I think he hoped he was going to start getting wet food again though, because he seemed a little crestfallen when it was back to dry food the following day.


Lastly, a pack of Dentastix treats.

Dentastix were the only one of the three that Max had tried before. Dentastix are great – they’re tasty chews that last longer than a regular treat but aren’t too chewy like rawhide. They also help to reduce tartar build up on your dog’s teeth, so they’re practical as well. And as you can see from the photo, Max is a big fan of Dentastix!

If you have a furry friend (or a feathery friend, or an aquatic friend) I can’t recommend PetShop.co.uk enough. A wide range of products, prompt delivery, great customer service, that genuinely personal touch… the list goes on, but I’m sure you get my point.

PetShop.co.uk definitely gets Max’s seal of approval!



Have you used PetShop.co.uk before? Let me know in the comments below!

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Book Review: Secrets of the Singer Girls by Kate Thompson

Secrets of the Singer Girls by Kate Thompson book cover

AD* | 1942. Sixteen-year-old Poppy Percival turns up at the gates of Trout's clothing factory in Bethnal Green with no idea what her new life might have in store. There to start work as a seamstress and struggling to get to grips with the noise, dirt and devastation of East London, Poppy can't help but miss the quiet countryside of home. But Poppy harbours a dark secret - one that wrenched her away from all she knew and from which she is still suffering...

And Poppy's not the only one with a secret. Each of her new friends at the factory is hiding something painful. Vera Shadwell, the forelady, has had a hard life with scars both visible and concealed; her sister Daisy has romantic notions that could get her in trouble; and Sal Fowler, a hardworking mother who worries about her two evacuated boys for good reason. Bound by ties of friendship, loyalty and family, the devastating events of the war will throw each of their lives into turmoil but also bring these women closer to each other than they could ever have imagined.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Book Review: Captain’s Orders by Kara Keen

Captain's Orders by Kara Keen book blog tour graphic

AD* | "Those eyes bluer than the sky – I don’t know about being on drugs, but surely this kissing is a drug, a narcotic keeping the rest of the world away, out of our minds.”

So I recently got the chance to review Captain’s Orders by Kara Keen as part of the book’s blog tour! Exciting, right? But before I go on, just a warning that this review contains *MILD SPOILERS*