24 Hours in Nowhere – Book review

book cover for 24 hours in Nowhere, a desert background with a silhouette of children in foreground
24 Hours in Nowhere by Dusti Bowling

The Blurb

When you come from Nowhere, can you ever really make it anywhere?

Welcome to Nowhere, Arizona, the least liveable town in the United States. For Gus, a bright 13-year-old with dreams of getting out and going to college, life there is made even worse by Bo Taylor, Nowhere’s biggest bully. When Bo tries to force Gus to eat a dangerously spiny cactus, Rossi Scott, one of the best racers in Nowhere, comes to his rescue – but in return she had to give Bo her prized dirt bike.

Determined to buy it back, Gus agree to go searching for gold in Dead Frenchman Mine, joined by an old friend, on of Bo’s cronies, and Rossi herself. As they race to find the treasure before the most important biking competition Nowhere has ever had, they bond over shared stories of how hard life in Nowhere is – and they realise this adventure just may be their way out. Author Dusti Bowling (Insignificant Events in the Life of  Cactus) returns to the desert to create a gripping story about friendship, hope, and finding the power we all have within ourselves.

My Review

This lovely story is aimed at young teens who can all relate to friendship troubles and bullies. I loved reviewing Dusti Bowlings last book, The Insignificant Event in the Life of a Cactus, so I was happy to be able to review this book. I think they are both suitable for my girls aged 11 and 13 years. Boo has already read The Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus and enjoyed it.

As with her previous book, Dusti has left her chapters short and easy to read. More complicated words are introduced in a dictionary form. For example;

Abyss: a deep or seemingly endless chasm

These are not really a learning aid, they are presented as part of the story and the main character’s personality.

The four children undertake a difficult and dangerous expedition into a cave which collapses. The journey of their hopes and dreams is just as difficult and it’s interesting as they work out the answers.

If your child would love to join Gus and the Gang on their adventure in Nowhere the book is now available on Amazon in hardback edition for £12.99

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book to review for free but all thoughts and opinions are my own. The Amazon link is an affiliate link which will not cost you anything to click but may earn me a few pennies, so thank you.

cadburys gifts

Hearing Them Read #libraries Week

a library, rows and rows of books arcing to the left

Photo by Susan Yin on Unsplash

The #Blogtober18 prompt today is all about reading and libraries. Something we as a family truly enjoy. So I’m going to take this opportunity to tell you about the books we enjoy. I do still listen to my younger two read, but mostly they are independent readers and like to read themselves. 

This post contains some affiliate links which may earn me a few pennies if you click through and purchase something. Of course you are under no obligation to click or buy and if you do it will be no extra cost to you.

Our Library

If you take a look up in my header there is a link to my page of book reviews that we have done as a family on this blog. But first let me tell you a little about our love of books. At the age of about six, I decided I wanted to be a librarian. I would loan out my books to my friends and write out little tickets just like they did in the library back then. Computers were not used, there were drawers with all the tickets in alphabetical order, it was a complex but well organised system.

I didn’t realise my dream until I was in my 30s and looking for  a job near home when I was a single parent of two. The local library had a pool where you could work when they were short staffed so I put my name down. I got trained in what to do and waited for the call to work. Then they had a part time temporary job coming up and asked me if I’d like to do it. I jumped at it and loved working there. The six month contract extended 3 times so I was there nearly two years before the permanent job was offered to someone else. Yes, I did apply for the job I’d been doing for nearly two years but they decided that some young girl with no experience had given a better interview. I left bitterly.

But, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise because just a few months later I landed a fabulous job in a Music library at the local university. I loved every minute I worked there. 

Books, books  and books

Let’s start with graphic books, some would say they were like comics but they are often much more artistic and people read them for the art. My older children were ‘into’ Manga from their early teens and still buy them regularly. Now Star is enjoying them too. I was introduced to the wonderful Terry Pratchett by a graphic novel, but if I’m honest, I prefer just reading because the graphics slow down the story and I’m too impatient.

When I worked in the public library, if you wanted an audio book you had to loan a box full of cassettes. (Yes, I’m THAT old!) But now I can listen to books on my phone, or kindle and I love them! 

The Little Man still loves his Picture books even though he’s getting a little old for them now. I have to admit though,  I love reading them with him, especially rhyming books like Julia Donaldson. We even have some favourite picture books from when my older kids were young, on of Which is Mama, Papa and Baby Joe. I never tire of the weird and wonderful things you can find in the illustrations of this book. Some of the used copies on Amazon go for a huge price, my copy is over 20 years old but I couldn’t bear to part with it. 

What we are Reading Now

Star loves her Warrior Cats and she has already completed two series. I remember reading the first book with her and it’s an amazing series all based around feral cats and how they survive. 

Boo is also reading Warrior Cats but she is also a fan of Michael Morpurgo, and loves The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips

The Little Man has recently read Kid Normal with me as part of his reading at home and we both enjoyed it. If I was to pick one of his favourite picture books though it would have to be Mr Big.

I’ve been getting through tons of books myself lately, most of which you can read in the ‘Our Library’ link above. One of my favourites lately though has been Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.

I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone else is reading over on the #Blogtober18 linky.

Mix It Up Linky

All The Beautiful Lies – Book Review

All the Beautiful Lies

On the eve of his college graduation, Harry is called home by his step-mother Alice, to their house on the Maine coast, following the unexpected death of his father.

But who really is Alice, his father’s much younger second wife? In a brilliant split narrative, Peter Swanson teases out the stories and damage that lie in her past. And as her story entwines with Harry’s in the present, things grow increasingly dark and threatening – will Harry be able to see any of it clearly through his own confused feelings?

Harry is devastated by the sudden death of his father, but was it really an accident. And who is the strange young girl who turns up at the funeral that no-one seems to know. As we follow Harry’s story of investigation into what happened to his father we also delve into the history of his Step-Mother Alice.

Alice lost her mother as a teenager and soon after began a relationship with her step father. They kept it secret, but some local residents had their suspicions.

As the plot thickens, Harry discovers the stranger at the funeral was having an affair with his father, but soon after his discovery she ends up dead. Harry suspects his Stepmother has something to do with his Father’s and his mistresses deaths but can she really be guilty. As we discover, her past is not so innocent.

In the second part of the book we discover the murderer and hear of a much darker history of the Stepmother Alice. Then to top it off there is even more twists to end the story.

My Verdict.

A dark psychological thriller which had me gripped from the start. An interesting take on a very difficult to talk about subject, interspersed with mystery and murder. It stirs up a lot of emotions and will not be an easy read for anyone who has been a victim of child abuse of a sexual nature.


I listened to All the Beautiful Lies on Audio Book and I get my books from Amazon Audible. I love audio books, I can listen while I crochet or even while doing the housework, it means I don’t have to put down my book. 

You can get any type of books in Audio, fiction or non-fiction. I love audible because you get the chance to listen to an sample before you buy. I like to do this because I have to be sure I like the voice I’m going to be listening to. 

Each month I get a free credit to buy any book I wish which can be great value. One month I chose the entire works of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes read by Stephen Fry. I’ve got a lovely library of audio books that I can return to at anytime if I wish.

Boo has just decided that she likes listening to books to, so I can put the app. on her phone and she can listen to children’s books. 

When you sign up to Audible you get the first three months at half price and then it’s £7.99 a month which is usually less than the price of the book you can get with your monthly credit. It’s up to you if you buy more, I tend to stick to the one a month, although sometimes they have some amazing offers starting from just 99pence. 

Audible also offers some exclusive podcasts to listen to for free from the likes of Stephen Fry, David Mitchell and Sue Perkins to name a few. Whether you want to listen to comedy, drama or history there are so many genres to choose from.

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate and this post contains affiliate links which will make no difference to your costs but may earn me a little money if used. Thank you

Let’s Make Comics – book review

Let’s Make comics by Jess Smart Smiley

Paperback: 96 pages
Age Range: 7 – 10 years
Publisher: Watson-Guptill Publications; Act edition (7 Aug. 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0399580727
ISBN-13: 978-0399580727
Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 0.8 x 27.9 cm

The Blurb

Create your very own Comics. 

Call them comics, comic books, cartoons, or even sequential art. No matter the name, comics are everywhere – from the books you read to the hilarious TV shows and action-packed movies you watch.

Cartoonist and comics-making instructor Jess Smart Smiley presents sixty-five hands-on activities, hosted by best friends Peanut (the turtle) and Bramble (the bear).

With each activity, you can complete a new comic, using a variety of key skills, such as writing, drawing, character design , and story telling. 

Jess Smart Smiley makes rad pictures with his bare hands and loves to crate stories for all ages, He lives in Utah, where he can be found drawing in his sketchbook, hosting a comic jam, or enjoying time with his family. Visit his website at www.jess-smiley.com

What’s the Book About?

This book claims to be aimed at 7-10 year olds but I think it would be fun for kids of all ages. There is so much to learn and do on every page. Forget loads of boring text, your lessons on how to make your own comic are mostly presented in comic format. There are other lessons which involve puzzles and learning to draw, but each is simple and fun. But just because you are having fun doesn’t mean that you are not learning skills and this book has a ton of them to learn. For example:

  • character design; facial expressions, body language, actions
  • drawing skills
  • formatting; the size and shape of your comic and how it impacts on your story
  • Idea-generating; come up with, build and follow through on your ideas
  • Inking; learning how to create easy-to-understand illustrations
  • Lettering; using style, placement and design to create visual word
  • Pacing; knowing when to ‘speed up’ or ‘slow down’ to help readers focus on the important aspects of your story
  • Storytelling; words, pictures, characters, tone and action work together to tell your story
  • Tone-Setting; Mood and environment creation
  • Visual Literacy; Good illustrations tell parts of the story that aren’t clear in the text.
  • Writing; how to create a good manuscript and dialogue.

Our Verdict

All three of my kids have found this book fun and useful. They are aged, 8, 11 and 13 years and all love drawing. The two eldest love making comics and already have many creations. This book has helped them to tone up on their skills, both in writing and drawing. The Little Man found the activities fun and hopefully will be writing his own comics soon. Now that he is home educated I may even have a ‘lesson’ based on comic making.

The lessons are well presented and funny and each page has something interactive so the learning never stops. Neither does the fun. 

Here is the introduction page, as you can see, it’s simple but instructive and you turn the page and get going straight away.

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of the book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post also contains an affiliate link. 


Laura's Lovely Blog

My Summer Reading List

Summer is here, the sun is shining (well it is for now) and it’s the perfect time to sit back, relax and lose yourself in a good book.

a woman sitting in a deckchair on a beach, reading a book

I’ve put together a list of books that I’m hoping to read this summer and I thought I’d share it with you.


I love a good psychological thriller and I’m already half way through this one.

cover art for book, a red butterfly on a window frame

Three Secrets

A terrible secret killed your husband…. But which one?

Robert kisses his wife on the head before heading out to the shop for more wine; he walks up the hill, takes a left across the footbridge, and jumps to his death on the busy motorway below.

Two years later, Francesca and her young daughter are leaving London for a fresh start. Money is tight, and Robert’s mother has found them a little cottage in her village. Francesca is grateful for the help, but why does Robert’s mother want to keep them so close? Does she know about what Francesca did in the hour before Robert’s death?

Soon Francesca begins to suspect there was more to her husband’s death than she realised, that there might be even darker secrets hiding in his past than her own….

The closer she gets to uncovering the truth, the more she asks: Is her own life in danger now, too?

Buy Three Secrets on Amazon for £20.03

The Light Read

Best for the beach or relaxing in the garden. A nice feel good read is great for the summer.

cover art for book, an illustration of four women on a beach and four different looking beach huts

How to Keep a Secret

A feel-good listen full of drama and romance, this is a story about family, being brave and opening up to love from international best seller Sarah Morgan.

Three generations of Stewart women, all with secrets to keep…

Matriarch Nancy knows she hasn’t been the best mother, but how can she ever tell her daughters the reason why? Lauren and Jenna are as close as two sisters can be, and they made a pact years ago to keep a devastating secret from their mother – but is it time to come clean? Lauren’s teenage daughter, Mackenzie, masks her own pain by keeping her mother at a distance. Her mother, aunt and grandmother keep trying to reach her, but will it take a stranger to show her the true meaning of family?

When life changes in an instant, the Stewart women are thrown together for a summer, and suddenly they must relearn how to be a family. And whilst unravelling their secrets might be their biggest challenge, it could also be their finest moment….

Buy How to Keep a Secret on Amazon for £5.75

The Good Laugh.

I love a book that can make me laugh out loud. Nothing better to settle down with a funny book on a balmy summer’s evening.

cover art for book, a bright yellow background with shelves of kitchen utensils. A big pink fridge, a dog, two bottles of wine and a bag of groceries.

The Mum Who’d Had Enough

The voice of modern women is back! Perfect for fans of Milly Johnson and Carole Matthews.

Nate Turner has a nice life. He has a steady job as a driving examiner and lives with his wife, Sinead, and son, Flynn, in a lovely house in a good part of town. Yes, it’s a very nice life.

Until one morning Nate comes downstairs to find Sinead gone and a note lying on the kitchen table, listing all the many things that Nate does wrong – or doesn’t do at all.

Now, somehow, Nate needs to show Sinead he can change – fast. But as Nate works on being a better husband and dad, his life changes in amazing and unexpected ways. And he starts to wonder whether he wants to go back to normal after all. Could there be more to life than nice?

buy The Mum Who’d had Enough on Amazon for £7.11


A Little Romance

I’ve always been a fan of Marian Keyes and we all need a little romance in our lives.

cover art for book, a blue background with an illustration of a suitcase with pink bra and pair of red shoes.

Rachel’s Holiday

Rachel Walsh is 27 and the miserable owner of size 8 feet. She has regular congress with Luke Costello, a man who wears his leather trousers tight. And she’s fond – some might say too fond – of recreational drugs.

Until, that is, everything goes pear-shaped and she finds herself being frog-marched to the Cloisters – Dublin’s answer to the Betty Ford Clinic. She’s outraged. Surely she’s not thin enough to be an addict?

Rachel isn’t expecting plump, middle-aged men in brown jumpers, and more group therapy than you can shake a stick at. Heartsick and Lovesick, she seeks redemption in the shape of Chris – a man who might be more trouble than he’s worth.

You can buy Rachel’s Holiday on Amazon for £6.45


My taste for horror has depleted over the years, but once upon a time I was a big James Herbert fan. This is one of his that I’ve not read, so if I did go back for a little scare, then this would be the one I’d go for.

cover art a silhouette of person struggling through moonlit cobwebs

Nobody True

Deadline. Jim True has returned from an out-of-body experience to find he has been brutally murdered and his body mutilated. No one can see him, no one can hear him, no one, except his killer, knows he still exists.

Freed from his body, True embarks on a quest to find his killer and discover why and how he has managed to survive. As he closes in on his murderer, True discovers that even the very people he loved and trusted have betrayed him. He meets his killer, a strange and sinister figure who can also leave his body at will.

An epic and deadly battle ensues between True and a seemingly unstoppable and hideous serial killer – a man now intent on even more murders, including True’s wife and child.


Buy Nobody True on Amazon for £9.99

What sort of books will you be indulging in this summer?

I prefer to listen to my books on Audible, in fact I’m quite addicted. You can trial Audible free for 30 days, you get a credit every month for a new download.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links

Monday Stumble Linky

A little Note About Positive Reviews on Raisie Bay

A little Note About Positive Reviews on Raisie Bay

Some people only write reviews when things go wrong with products, which is good because it lets people know that there could be potential problems. I’ve also seen negative feedback with say things like, I had to return this item because the colour did not suit me…is this useful?

I write reviews on most items I buy because I like to give genuine feedback. If I have a genuine problem with a product I will write my review in the appropriate place.

I write reviews on my blog too, but they are mostly positive. Why? Because I only write reviews for the things I’ve loved. If I don’t love them I let the person who sent me them know with details why and then let them decided if they would rather me write a negative review or not write one at all. It’s always the latter.

This is my blog, my place and I’ll let you know about the things I love. If you want to find out what other people have hated about the product then you will need to look elsewhere.

My reviews may all be positive, but they are still genuine.