Saturday, 25 June 2016

June's Degustabox heralding in the summer is the BBQ Box (review)

June's Degustabox has just arrived and it's a taste of things to come, focusing on picnic and BBQ food for when the summer weather has decided to stick around. As soon as we took our first peek inside the box, we could see brands and products that we knew we'd love.

Here's the contents of this month's box :

Butterkist Yogurt Coated Popcorn - I wasn't sure about the combination of popcorn and yogurt when I saw the pack - they're both things I like but together? Well, it's better than I expected, because it doesn't make the popcorn go soggy, as I feared, but I do prefer a classic toffee coated popcorn if I'm honest. The Madhouse kids loved it though, even if they thought it was a white chocolate coating to begin with !

Haywards Medium & Tangy Silverskin Onions - I love pickled onions, especially the big ones, and these ones have a fabulously tart tanginess to them. Perfect in salads, cheese sandwiches or alongside fish and chips. They'd also be great in these British Ploughman's Pies.

Branston Spicy Tomato Relish - Another picnic and BBQ essential, lovely on burgers and hotdogs fresh off the grill or squirted on the side of the plate to accompany grilled meats and rice. It's got a bit of a kick so it's great for jazzing up the leftovers and can be used as a more grown-up alternative to ketchup. I'll be adding a squirt to my Spanish omelettes and cheese scones to take them to another level. The squeezy bottle is more convenient than a jar for alfresco dining and picnics.

Zeo Cloudy Lemonade - I've tried Zeo drinks in previous Degustaboxes and loved them. Made with 98% spring water, lemon flesh and essential oils from the skin, then sweetened with a touch of stevia and beet and cane sugar, they are a refreshing, natural-tasting drink that is perfect for enjoying over ice in the summer. Each bottle only contains 28 calories and 1.5 teaspoons of sugar.

Schwartz Grillmates Burger Mix - When you buy frozen burgers from the supermarket, you can never really be sure what's gone into them, but if making your own from fresh always seemed like too much faff, Schwartz have the perfect solution. Just add a sachet of their Grillmates Burger mix to some minced beef (I also added a chopped onion), shape into burgers (or onto skewers or into meatballs) and grill or fry. The result is lovely fresh, juicy burgers ready in moments.

Amoy Rich & Creamy Coconut Milk - Back up until a few years ago, I'd never have dreamed of buying and using coconut milk, but now it's turned into a kitchen cupboard staple here at The Madhouse. It's great for adding creaminess and richness to sweet and savoury dishes and gives a more delicate flavour than normal cream. Things I've made using coconut milk that you might like to try include Jasmine-infused Coconut & Cherry Custards, Thai Prawn & Coconut Soup and Prawn & Salmon Massaman Curry.

Sacla Pesto Pots - I love Sacla Pesto but it's usually just me and Madhouse Daddy eating it because the kids aren't keen. A big jar is therefore usually too much so these individual-serving pots are a great way of reducing food waste. They can be added to pasta for an instant supper, smeared over chicken breasts or used as a pizza sauce to make a change from tomato-based sauces. I strongly recommend making a Cherry Tomato Pesto Tart for a twist on pizza too - cover a puff-pastry sheet in pesto, top with halved cherry tomatoes and sprinkle with cheese then bake in the oven. Delicious warm or cold.

Bakedin Mug Brownie Mix - A rich and velvety Belgian chocolate brownie, baked in a mug, ready in 2 minutes in the microwave - what's not to like? OK, so you never get the perfect texture when it's microwaved but when you need a chocolate/cake fix in a hurry, you could do a lot worse !

Think Products Smooze: Coconut & Mango - A brand and a product that I'd never heard of but it's a total winner for the summer - it's a freeze-at-home fruit ice made from 40% coconut milk and 50% fruit juice and puree. Tastes lovely, 100% vegan and free from most allergens, healthier than many "fruit" ices and made from all natural ingredients. Win-win !

Marstons King Star Lager - One for Madhouse Daddy. This is the new crafted lager from the Wychwood brewery and it was apparently very nice - refreshing and very drinkable with a mellow flavour. 

Miracle Noodle Angel Hair - Low calorie (they're basically calorie and carb free), vegan, non GMO, gluten free and soy free. They can be used as a substitute for regular pasta if you're trying to lose weight. I don't like the smell and the texture, but as long as you smother them in sauce, they're edible !

Destrooper-Olivier Belgian Butter Waffle Crisp Biscuits - These are absolutely scrummy and totally moreish. Their rich buttery taste and crisp texture that melts in the mouth had us coming back for more until the whole pack had gone.

This month's recipe card suggests two dishes, Penne with Sacla Pesto, Pancetta & Parmesan and Amoy Thai Green Curry, which both sound tasty.

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 gives you a whopping £6 off the price of your first box - just enter code BLDEG15 at the checkout - making it great value and a fab way to discover new products.

for more information :

Also now on Instagram @DegustaboxUK 

Disclosure : We received the box in order to write an honest review.

Ravensburger New York 3D Puzzle Buildings (review)

We're big fans of the Ravensburger 3d puzzles here at The Madhouse - we've already had great fun reviewing The Empire State Building, Big Ben, Tower Bridge, Medieval House and Eiffel Tower By Night - so we were delighted to receive a trio of US monuments to recreate in puzzle form, something that made me particularly happy because they are all places that we saw in real life on our American honeymoon all the way back in 2000. The three new puzzles to add to our collection are Statue of Liberty 3D Puzzle, Empire State Building with Lights 3D Puzzle and Chrysler Building with Lights 3D Puzzle

If you've never made a 3d puzzle before and you're wondering how it works, the puzzle pieces are made of plastic and many of them are hinged. They are also numbered with an arrow showing you where to attach the next piece,which makes construction a lot easier. Your first job is to sift through the pieces and lay them out in numerical order (or at least piles of twenties, thirties, etc).

You also get plastic trimmings and moudings that make each construction easily identifiable, such as the top of the Chrysler building here.

We had an afternoon session making all three of the puzzles and the kids got involved too, both sorting out the pieces into numerical order and helping to put them together. 

We started with the Empire State Building, as it was a puzzle that we had made before but without the lights feature. It is quite a tricky architectural shape to recreate because it's not a regular square or rectangle, it's more like an H shape with extra sections added on the sides. Luckily there are plastic support structures to be inserted at various levels to help keep it all together.

We had a couple of issues with pieces snapping - this one split as I folded it along the hinge, but luckily it made no difference once it was put in place.

And the interlocking part snapped off this one which was a bit more problematic, but I got round it by gluing it into place. Both of the pieces that had issues were in the Empire State Building box - I'm starting to think it's a jinxed building/puzzle !

We managed to construct the puzzle almost all the way to the top with no other issues - it stayed firmly in place and didn't keep popping apart, which was a problem we had with the original Empire State Building 3d puzzle that we tried before. However, I totally failed to put together the top section, and when I called in reinforcements from Sophie, she failed too. For the final section, the first three pieces (let's call them 1, 2 and 3) slot together in the middle then you need to switch to the other side, like a mirror reflection, and slot in 4,5,6. This is where the fun started - we couldn't get numbers 7, 8, etc to fit in anywhere, however hard we tried, and when we tried too hard, all we managed to do was break pieces further down the structure. Maybe we were just being rubbish - I'll be interested to see how other bloggers got on - but they could definitely do with adding an extra note in the instruction sheet. It's particularly frustrating as it was only the very last layer that caused a problem - so near and yet so far ! The suggested age range for this puzzle is 12-99, whereas on the other two it's 10-99, so they must know it's slightly trickier.

Putting it to one side, we tackled the other two puzzles, both of which were a dream to put together - no broken pieces, easy to assemble and it all stayed in place perfectly.

The Statue of Liberty puzzle is even easier and would be a perfect 3d puzzle for children to try their hands at because the plinth is the only part that needs constructing and it's a simple square shape. While the Empire State Building and Chrysler Building both contain 216 pieces, the Statue of Liberty only has 108 so it's a simpler and quicker option, while still looking fantastic when it's put together and the statue is put in place.

What makes the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building puzzles extra special is that once they're finished, they have a colour-changing light box that you can place underneath to make the whole structure light up in different colours. This looks really cool but it's hard to really show off in photos, so I thought I'd share Ravensburger's videos to give you a proper idea of how it works.

If you like puzzles and fancy a new challenge, the 3d range is perfect. They're fun to put together (most of the time !) and look so good when they're finished that they can be left out on display as a permanent feature. 

RRP : Statue of Liberty - £19.99: Empire State Building - £24.99; Chrysler Building - £24.99

Disclosure : I received the puzzles in order to write an honest review.

Fab freebies of the week 25/6

Whether you voted out or in, I hope you all have a lovely weekend. Here's this week's fab freebies to hopefully put a smile on your face..


Could you be one of 400 male Insiders with light, medium or dark brown hair who want the natural grey-free look to test Just For Men?

Print off a voucher for a free 40g can of Pringles

Spin the wheel and get a free pint of Amstel

@TigerNutsUK Try a Free Sample of the Original & Best #TigerNuts to Review? Email

Select a sample of Diesel Only The Brave perfume


PG Tips are giving away 40,000 FREE Green Tea bags.

Enter to be in with a chance of winning one of 1,000 Balance Me cleansers

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 :

Friday, 24 June 2016

Book review : Owl Song At Dawn - Emma Claire Sweeney

Spastic, Mongol, Retarded ... all words that used to be bandied about quite innocently back in the seventies when I was a child, even in official circles, but that nobody would dream of saying these days because they seem really offensive. Go back a couple more decades and things were even worse, with parents strongly encouraged to institutionalise their children with Down's Syndrome, forced sterilisation and even the Nazis shipping any "mentally deficient" people off to concentration camps. Such was the world that Edie Maloney was born into, but her family disregarded the doctors with their "helpful advice" and gave her the best life they could in 1950's Morecambe. The official letters, criticising the family for refusing to have her institutionalised and using terminology that sounds extremely patronising and insulting, are hard to read but undoubtedly realistic for the time. 

Fast forward to modern times and Len and Steph, who both have Down's, have a comparatively charmed life, working in the Sea View Lodge guest house, which focuses on welcoming groups of people with learning disabilities throughout the year, dreaming of getting married and living a relatively normal life with care workers who have their best interests at heart.

The central character of the story, and the thread that ties all the different people and time periods together, is Maeve, owner of the Sea View Lodge, godmother of Steph and twin sister of Edie. As the "lucky" twin with no disabilities, her life should have been happier and stress-free, but she had her fair share of troubles, from guilt at not being able to protect her sister to her unhappy love life. As the story shifts constantly between past and present, we piece together the tragic youth of both Maeve and Edie, their missed chances and unfulfilled dreams. But what if it's not too late and, even in her eighties, Maeve can finally find her happy ending?

Despite the poignant look at how disabled people were treated in the past and the tragic destiny of both Edie and Maeve, it remains an ultimately uplifting and positive book with life lessons for us all. The fact that the author draws on her own autistic sister for inspiration imbues the whole novel with compassion, tenderness and a level of understanding that make it into a beautiful work that can't fail to move you.

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £8.99

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Legend Press (1 July 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1785079670
  • ISBN-13: 978-1785079672

Disclosure : I received the book in order to write an honest review.

Time to get beach-ready ! Summer health & beauty roundup

We're all going on a summer holiday ... no more working for a week or two ! Well, we've nearly made it. We're almost into July so we've now got our eyes firmy fixed on the prized summer holiday. This year we're heading off to Lanzarote, which will be our first ever foray into the Canary Islands. It's definitely time to get beach-ready, not by going on one of those faddy crash diets that all the summery magazines are filed with but by stocking up on a few canny buys to prepare your skin and hair for all that sun, sea and sand.

First up is obviously sun protection and I'll be packing a couple of bottles of Eucerin 50+ Kids' Sun Spray. I've long known Eucerin as a dermatologist-recommended skin care brand which offers products specifically designed for those with particular skin concerns such as eczema, but I wasn't aware that they made sun cream too. Their Sun Kids Spray is free from perfume, colourants and parabens, clinically proven to be suitable even on atopic skin, extra water-resistant and it comes in the fun spray format that the Madhouse kids always prefer. RRP - £19.50 for 200ml.

I always like to buy an extra-rich shampoo for my hair when we go on holiday because of all the sun, salt and chlorine that it has to deal with, so I was delighted to receive some Ylang Ylang, Argan & Rosemary Conditioning Shampoo from AA Skincare. This is one of a range of  shampoos and conditioners bursting with natural ingredients, which also includes Amla & Clary Sage Rejuvenating Shampoo, Cedarwood & Peppermint Deep Cleansing Shampoo, Peony, Bay & Brahmi Nourishing Shampoo, Rose & Pomegranate Shampoo and Conditioner and Rosemary, Sage & Burdock Lift & Repair Shampoo. This vegan-friendly shampoo promises to encourage softness, shine and volume and help repair split ends. It also contains nutrients for the scalp to promote healthy hair and can help treat dandruff. It leaves my hair feeling literally squeaky clean, light and soft, although I do feel that I need a conditioner afterwards to nourish my hair. RRP £5.94 for 250ml. For more information :

Madhouse Daddy invariably ends up with cold sores after getting too much sun, so we always throw a cold sore lip balm in our suitcase to deal with the after effects. Traditional antiviral treatments only work once the infection is present, but SoreFix blocks cold sore triggers with a discreet physical filter - prevention is better than cure ! SoreFix also helps to heal cold sores faster and reduce the severity of symptoms, as well as moisturise dry & chapped lips. The lip balm's effectiveness is based on a combination of two zinc components - the cold sore virus has no resistance to zinc treatments and there are no known side effects. SoreFix has a long shelf life and comes in a 6ml tube or 10ml jar (both have an RRP of £7.47). For more information :

Gillette Venus have some great products to keep your legs looking silky smooth and ready for shorts this summer. Venus Snap with Embrace (RRP £9.99) is the first ever portable razor to join the range, featuring Venus’ most advanced 5-blade Embrace technology on a mini handle so it's perfect for taking up minimal space in your suitcase or overnight bag. Venus & Olay (RRP £10.99) is the perfect two in one choice to remove hairs and soothe skin at the same time, thanks to the shave gel bars on the blades which make contact with the skin before and after the razor to lubricate and ease the blades over the skin. If you need to get pool-ready in double quick time, this is a great way to shave and moisturise your legs at the same time and makes shaving rash a thing of the past. Satin Care Shave Gel (RRP £3.29) is designed for maximum shaving comfort even for dry skin and helps prevent nicks and cuts. 

That'so Pure Sun All In One SPF 20-30-50+ Protective Dry Oil Spray (RRP £18.95) is a totally innovative product that promises to be the future of suncare. We've had it drilled into us for years that it doesn't matter how many times we apply our sunscreen, we only ever get the SPF stated on the bottle. Well, That'so is the one sunscreen breaking the rules and saying actually, why not be able to do exactly that ?! To obtain SPF 20, you need to spray the product uniformly for 10 seconds. 3 minutes after the first application, spray the product again to achieve SPF 30. Wait 3 more minutes after the second application and spray the product again to obtain a super high level of sun protection SPF 50+. The product also offers super melanin stimulation to promote a faster and more intense tan, avocado and jojoba oil to hydrate the skin and Vitamin E to help prevent free-radical damage to the skin. There is also That’so All In One After Sun Micro-Emulsion After Sun Spray (RRP £18.95), which can actually be used before or after sun exposure. It is rich in moisturising, refreshing and anti-erythema active ingredients, enhances suntans and repairs the skin from sun damage. Available from

And finally, the EndWarts pen (£19.49), which is a treatment for verrucas and warts on hands and feet. Juliette suddenly announced that she had a verruca a couple of weeks ago, that she presumably picked up at the swimming pool on her weekly school swimming lessons. Just as I was getting ready to treat it, she gaily informed me that it had disappeared all by itself - if I hadn't seen it myself, I'd have thought she was pulling my leg, but apparently they can disappear by themselves if you're lucky. If you're not as lucky as Juliette though, it's good to know that EndWarts, which is a formic acid solution, effectively treats nine warts out of ten. Verrucas are easy to pick up in public swimming pools so it's reassuring to have an EndWarts pen in the medicine cupboard or the suitcase, just in case (and warts and verrucas have a nasty habit of coming back so Juliette may not be out of the woods just yet !). For more information :

You may also be interested in my "Kid-friendly products to save our summer" roundup

Disclosure : I received the products in order to write an honest review.

What's Cooking at The Madhouse? menu plan 24/6

Ten days to go and then school's out for the summer - woohoo ! We just need the weather to warm up a bit now and we're all set. I've been bookmarking lots of exotic and interesting-sounding recipes to try out this week.


lunch - probably McDonalds (I'm rather partial to their new scampi salad wraps)

dinner - Turkish pide pizzas


lunch - roast dinner or BBQ depending on the weather

dinner - tuna & potato briouates & salad


dinner - Portuguese fried rice with homemade burgers (or leftover BBQ meat)


dinner - Amok - a Cambodian dish with fish and veggies


lunch - fakeaway KFC chicken with wedges & coleslaw

dinner - coconut shrimp curry


dinner - chilli con carne & rice


dinner - Quesaritos - a cross between burritos and quesadillos (tortillas filled with rice, cheese & chilli) - great for using up the leftovers from yesterday

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

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Madhouse recipe : Puff pastry pizza tart

Is it a tart? Is it a pizza? Well, it's a cross between the two really, but whatever you call it, it's quick and simple to make, uses up lots of squishy tomatoes and tastes fab !

Puff pastry pizza tart

ingredients :

a pack of puff pastry
1 red onion
300g bacon lardons
3 mushrooms
4 tomatoes
jar of sauce - whatever you have that needs using up (I used garlic & tomato pizza topping but tomato puree, pesto, etc would be great too)
goat's cheese
herbs (I used dried basil and zatar)

Put the puff pastry in a flan tin, stab all over with a fork and put in the oven while it preheats to 180°.

Fry the bacon lardons, onions and mushrooms. Drain off any excess liquid and reserve.

 Chop the tomatoes and goat's cheese into fairly thick slices.

Take the puff pastry out of the oven and spread with sauce.

Scatter with bacon, onions and mushrooms.

Cover with slices of tomato.

Then top with slices of goat's cheese.

Sprinkle with herbs and put back in the oven for 20 minutes or so until the tomatoes are cooked, the cheese is melted and the pastry is golden brown.

This was a great way of clearing out the fridge and cupboards and using whatever I found (pizza sauce, squishy tomatoes, zatar) so I'm adding it to #KitchenClearout.

Relaxation the Greek way with Oykos ! (review)

I'm now winding down at work and looking forward to the long, lazy summer holidays with the kids (definitely the biggest perk of being a teacher !) but the last couple of months have been absolutely manic, both at work and at home. There were school trips to Canterbury and London (three days in the pouring rain dragging round 54 grumbling teenagers, utter bliss - not !), end-of-term meetings and reports to fill in, school open days to go to (both Juliette and Sophie are moving up to the next school in September, with Sophie going on to sixth form and secondary school just starting for Juliette, leaving Pierre all by himself in junior school next year !), and humungous internet issues that ended up with us having to change providers. There just weren't enough hours in the day or days in the week, so it was absolutely perfect timing for Oykos to send me through a fabulous spa pack so that I could pamper myself and have some much needed relaxation.

As well as some sigh-inducingly comfy slippers, some gorgeously scented Sanctuary Spa body soufflĂ©, a funky blueberry EOS lip balm (that had both Sophie and Juliette fighting over it !) and a wonderfully luxurious Bolsius Aromatic blueberry-fragranced reed diffuser, I received some of Oykos' new Whip & Mix desserts - an airy, light, fluffy mousse made from Greek style yogurt, paired with a rich, fruity compote, bursting with blueberries. 

With all this blueberry love going on, simultaneously tingling my tastebuds and tickling my nostrils, I felt a bit like Violet Beauregarde in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ! I was feeling blissed out rather than blue though ! 

Oykos Whip 'n' Mix (RRP £2.49 for a four pack) is also available in Cherry and Strawberry varieties and now that I've tasted how indulgent and fruity the blueberry ones are, I'll definitely be buying both. 

Disclosure : I received a lovely pamper package, including some Oykos Whip 'n' Mix, in order to write an honest review.

Children's book review : Cool Kids Cook - Jenny Chandler

The Madhouse kids have always loved helping out in the kitchen. The girls are often far too busy these days doing tween and teen stuff to get hands-on but Pierre is still very enthusiastic when it comes to baking up sweet treats or, more recently, getting involved in helping cook dinner. I always think that cooking is one of the most important life-skills that parents can pass on to their kids, so I'm very happy to see how much he enjoys it.

We recently received a new child-oriented recipe book to review called Cool Kids Cook by Jenny Chandler. It promises "50 recipes for real family food that will teach children the vital cooking skills to set them up for life" and targets children aged 7 upwards.

It takes what I would call a holistic approach to cooking, giving not only the recipes but also lots of useful advice about healthy eating, sensible shopping, kitchen safety and chopping skills, to make your kids think about the wider implications of what they put on their plates and into their bellies.

The recipes are divided into categories : Kick Start Your Day (tasty breakfasts and brunches), Cool Stuff (picnics and packed lunches), Bowl Food (dishes to spoon and slurp), Hot Favourites (fancy dinners to simple suppers), Bountiful Baking (savoury bread and teatime treats) and Just Desserts (sweet endings).

There is a definite focus on healthy food, so you'll find things like smoothies and granola, salads involving healthy leaves and grains, soups and stir-fries, sweet treats such as chocolate & beetroot muffins or cheesy courgette & sweetcorn muffins... Some of the recipes leapt out at me as things I'd like to try - Grilled Salmon with Honey, Soy & Orange Marinade, Indian Lentil & Tomato Dal, Vietnamese Pork Meatballs, Elderflower Jelly, ... - but would they appeal to children?

Well, there was only one way to find out ! I had a flick through to see what we could make with what was in the cupboards and opted for a simple recipe for Super-Speedy Bean & Tuna Salad, which involved mixing red onion, canned beans, sweetcorn and tuna with balsamic vinegar, parsley and oil. I wasn't sure Pierre would be keen - he's not a great fan of tuna at the best of times and balsamic vinegar is an acquired taste - so I was surprised to see him helping himself to several tastes from the bowl as he was mixing it all together ! I'd prepared some baked potatoes in case the bean salad wasn't a hit, but in the end, everyone tucked into both. It's certainly a healthier version to the usual tuna, sweetcorn and mayonnaise and it was just as popular, so I'll definitely be trying out some of the other recipes tfrom the book hat I initially passed by to see how they are received.

The instructions are simple to follow with lots of photos so they are very child-friendly, although some do involve blending, chopping and using the hob which require adult supervision.

There are some family favourites in there that are sure to be crowd pleasers that we can start off with - fruit crumble, chocolate cake, chilli con carne, twice baked potatoes, ... - but I also want to get the kids to be more adventurous and use ingredients (such as quinoa or sardines) that they may be less familiar with. 

Many children's cookbooks limit themselves to baking or "kid food", such as healthy twists on pizza and chicken nuggets, so it's great to find a child-oriented recipe book for food that the whole family can sit down and eat together.

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £14.99

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Pavilion Books (12 May 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1910496871
  • ISBN-13: 978-1910496879
  • Product Dimensions: 19.5 x 1.7 x 23.8 cm

Disclosure : We received the book in order to write an honest review.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Giveaway #570 : Win House of Shadows by Nicola Cornick - closing date 6/7

House of Shadows by Nicola Cornick

Published by Mira in Paperback Original and ebook (£7.99) - OUT NOW

“Fans of Kate Morton will enjoy this thrilling tale” Candis Magazine
“A must-read for fans of romantic time-slip novels” Historical Novel Society
“House of Shadows delivers all that it promises” Heartbreakers and Heroes

Bestselling author and history consultant, Nicola Cornick investigates the untold story of Elizabeth Stuart, the Winter Queen, in this enthralling time-slip novel. Part mystery thriller and part historical romance, House of Shadows explores how one lie can impact the course of history. Perfect for readers of Kate Morton and Barbara Erskine.

February 1662
On the eve of her death Elizabeth Stuart hands her faithful cavalier William Craven an ancient pearl with magical properties to be kept safe for her rightful heir. Craven, distraught with grief, builds Ashdown Estate in Elizabeth’s memory and places the pearl at the centre.

February 1801
Notorious Regency courtesan Lavinia Flyte is brought to Ashdown House with her protector, Lord Evershot, who is intent on uncovering the Winter Queen’s treasures. Evershot’s greedy pillage of the ancient house will unleash a dark power which has lain dormant for a hundred and fifty years.

February 2014
Holly Ansell’s brother has gone missing. As Holly retraces his footsteps, she discovers that her brother was researching the mystery of Elizabeth Stuart and her alleged affair with William Craven. A battered mirror and the diary of a Regency courtesan are the only clues she has, but Holly is determined to discover the truth: Where is the fabled pearl that Elizabeth gave to William Craven? What happened to Lavinia Flyte? And who is the Winter Queen’s rightful heir?

 Nicola Cornick studied History at the University of London and has a Masters degree in Public History from Ruskin College Oxford. She acts as a history consultant for TV and radio and gives talks on local history and creative writing. Nicola also volunteers as a guide and historian for the National Trust at Ashdown House, where House of Shadows is based. Her award-winning novels are international bestsellers and have been translated into 26 languages. She lives in Oxfordshire. @NicolaCornick

*** Click here to read my review of House of Shadows ***

I have a copy of the book to give away to a lucky Madhouse Family Reviews reader. Fill in your details in the Rafflecopter widget below.

UK only. Closing date : 6/7/16

T & C's : Entries close at midnight on the closing date. Winners will be selected with a random number generator and announced on facebook, twitter and in the giveaway post subject line. Please note, you will be contacted by email and/or twitter and if I haven't heard from you after 28 days, I'll have to pick another winner. Prizes will be sent out by the companies or their PR directly to winners. Madhouse Family Reviews cannot be held responsible for any prizes that go astray !

You may also like to enter my other giveaways :