The Blurb

Not many seventeen year old girls have a best friend who’s a ghost, but then Mary Hades isn’t your average teenager.

Scarred physically and mentally from a fire, her parents decide a holiday to an idyllic village in North Yorkshire will help her recover. Nestled in the middle of five moors, Mary expects to have a boring week stuck in a caravan with her parents. Little does she know, evil lurks in the campsite…

Seth Lockwood—a local fairground worker with a dark secret—might be the key to uncovering the murky history that has blighted Nettleby. But Mary is drawn to him in a way that has her questioning her judgement.

Helped by her dead best friend and a quirky gay Goth couple, Mary must stop the unusual deaths occurring in Nettleby. But can she prevent her heart from being broken?

The first in a series of dark YA novels, Mary Hades follows on from the bestselling Kindle Single ‘My Daylight Monsters‘. A spine-tingling tale with romance, readers will be shocked and entertained in equal measure.

With some scenes of horror and some strong language, this book is best suited for readers aged fifteen and up.

The Review

With YA fiction being so on trend at the moment I think that it is a really difficult market to enter. It is dog eat dog. However, when you have a really great story to tell – much like Sarah Dalton had – then you really have nothing to fear. Mary Hades is a chilling, unique story.

As a protagonist, Mary is really likeable. Maybe her best quality is that she doesn’t mope on her past as a reason for the way that she is. Also she isn’t fiercely independent and she does rely on the other characters. Oftentimes, characters are written in such a way that they aren’t allowed to show moments of weakness but I felt that Dalton created a realistic leading lady in Mary Hades.

As for the story, it made for a gripping read. I am so glad it has been made into a series because quite clearly Mary has more tales to tell.

Well done Sarah Dalton for writing a cracking book.

Mary Hades by Sarah Dalton is available now.

Follow Sarah Dalton (@sarahdalton) on Twitter.

Mary Hades

One year ago today I was released from hospital after a 19 day stay. I had a very bad reaction to the medication I was taking for my Ulcerative Colitis. One year on I am reliving what happened. Partly because it is cathartic but also to hopefully raise awareness for the GYBO (Get Your Belly Out) Campaign. Another reason why I am sharing it is because people need to be aware that Crohns and Colitis are not just the “pooping” disease. There are many things that can happen because of it. It is with this in mind that I have shared a few photographs of how it affected me. Thanks for reading.

Here goes:

Ten weeks ago I nearly died. Have I got your attention? Good. Let’s go back to the beginning then.

I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in November 2012. I will be honest with you I had never heard of UC, a cousin of mine has Crohns disease but I genuinely had no idea what UC was. I was initially medicated with Pentasa and things seemed to be getting better.

In February 2013 I developed a chest infection and subsequently had my first flare up. I was medicated with my first bout of Prednisolone steroids. They worked to an extent but it would get to one of the final weeks of medication and the flare up would come back. It was recommended by my IBD specialist nurse for me to start taking Azathioprine.

For those not in the know, Azathioprine is an immunosuppressant and it came with plenty of side effects and conditions. I wouldn’t be allowed to spend prolonged periods in the sun but since I am not a sun worshipper that really wasn’t a problem for me. The plus side of the medication is that I would not have any more flare ups, the bad side being that essentially I was introducing a toxin to my body and I would be more susceptible to catching any bugs going around.

I started taking the medication (along with my Pentasa) in the summer. Yet something wasn’t right. I was constantly tired – nothing unusual there for someone diagnosed with UC – I was coming home from work and falling asleep instantly, I was always feeling unwell and by the time October had come along I was having another flare up alongside another chest infection. I stopped doing things that I liked to do. I stopped going to choir, going out with friends became a tiresome chore. It wasn’t fun.

I informed my IBD nurse and was booked in to hospital to have a flexible sigmoidoscopy – it was arranged for two month later, the 23rd December. In those two months I continued to get worse. After the uncomfortable procedure (that lasted less than ten minutes) both the nurses and I could see how bad the flare up was. I asked if I could come off the Azathioprine. I was told that I couldn’t and instead it was increased by 50mg. I was also medicated again with Prednisolone but neither stopped the flare up. Two weeks later I was medicated with Pentasa suppositories. Eventually the bleeding stopped but I still felt sick most of the time.

 

On February 15th 2014 I woke up with two big red patches on my face. I had previously suffered with acne rosacea and just assumed that I was having a little flare up with that and treated it with the cream I normally used. However, by Monday my eyes had swollen and my skin was blistering and flaking. It did not look good. Concurrent to the flaky skin I also developed several mouth ulcers – these were not your regular ulcers, they were giant strips of ulcerated skin in my mouth that Bonjela wasn’t even touching. I had also developed a boil on my chin which every so often would weep. It did not look or smell very nice.

 

I went to my GP who prescribed me an antihistamine however it didn’t help and after a few days I was a back at the doctors. I was then prescribed a cream. I used it but again it didn’t work.

On the 24th of February I had an appointment at the hospital, a general check up, and I saw a doctor who I had never seen before. One who didn’t know my case history, one who was literally meeting me for the first time. I asked this doctor if I could please stop taking the Azathioprine because I knew that my health had deteriorated since being on the medication. The doctor instantly slammed me down. She told me no, and that the medication was helping me. She didn’t want to listen to my reasons for the request or listen to all the illnesses that I had had since being medicated with it. She was, however, concerned about my skin. I left this appointment feeling very disappointed. I figured that I would wait until my next appointment, hopefully with a doctor or IBD nurse I had worked with before, to discuss my concerns.

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I had another trip to my GP regarding my face infection. When I was called to his room he found me struggling for breath with a racing pulse. He asked me when my last blood test was. It had taken place the week before at the hospital. He looked up the results and found that I was severely anaemic. The hospital had failed to inform me. Just to check, my GP sent me to get another blood test and a chest x-ray.

Two days later I was back at my doctors. The results of the blood test had shown that my haemoglobin levels had dropped from 93 to 79 and that I needed a blood transfusion. I was medicated for my anaemia with iron and folic acid but I needed to contact my IBD nurse to be admitted into hospital.

My nurse informed me that they didn’t have any beds available until the next day on the gastro ward however, if I got any worse or my temperature increased I was to go to A&E.

Later that night I knew something was wrong. I took the advice of my nurse and went to hospital. They were informed that I was medicated with immunosuppressants and I was to be put in a separate room. After an initial triage assessment they saw that my temperature was at a dangerous level and that my heart rate was 150bpm. They were concerned I was going to have a heart attack and put me in resuscitation.

I was sent for another chest x-ray, had blood and blood cultures taken and a stool and urine sample before I was placed on the Medical Assessment Unit. Even though I was running a temperature I felt so cold. I was given a thin sheet to cover myself with and had a fan directed on me to try and bring my temperature down. I was also fitted with the first of my many saline drips. The hospital wanted to get the blood transfusion done as soon as possible but couldn’t because of my increased temperature.

It took nearly two days for the temperature to come down. It was brought down by me being wrapped up in ice cold, wet blankets and towels.  It was the most horrific thing I have ever been through.

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However, even once the blood transfusion was done I still wasn’t getting any better. The boil on my chin had begun to grow and had become angry, red and crusty. A dermatologist was sent to see me about it. She prescribed a cream which was applied but by the following day my face had swollen. It was assumed that a bad tooth that I was due to have extracted had caused this so I was sent to have that removed. This didn’t fix the problem.

I was medicated with various intravenous antibiotics. The doctors kept telling my family that they would see a difference in ten hours but I was continuing to get sicker. I was having regular ECG’s, blood cultures taken for all sorts – pneumonia, tuberculosis, malaria and HIV – all of which I was sure I didn’t have.

I had to have a heart ultrasound and a CT scan. When they had the results of them they saw signs of an infection on my lungs. It was decided that I need to have a bronchoscopy. Before that though, dermatology had been back to see the development of my chin. Due to its increased size (which had previously been thought to be impetigo) the doctors wanted to take some scrapings and to cut away some skin on my chin to try and diagnose what the cause was. Within two days I had a piece of my chin cut away and biopsy pieces taken from my lungs.IMG_8336

I was now officially fed up.

On day 13 in the hospital I was finally diagnosed with having something called Sweets Syndrome. Sweets is a really rare condition that since its discovering in 1964 by Dr Robert Sweets has only had 40 registered cases. I am case number 41. I was then medicated appropriately and besides my chin regrowth I haven’t had any real side effects. The reason I contracted it? Azathioprine. The medication that I knew was making me feel ill was in fact making me really ill.


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Since leaving the hospital I have been treated by three specialists and I have been referred to a micro-surgeon. I may need surgery in the future but until my chin has fully grown back there is not much else we can do.

I still get quite shaky when I exert myself physically which some days can be as much as going to the supermarket and I did have a few weepy days when I first was discharged from the hospital but altogether I am just happy to be on the mend. The hospital staff were amazing and I have never seen people work so tirelessly to try and help someone get better. I have been back to thank them since.

I have also been told since by my main specialist and by the nurses on the ward that they did not think I would be leaving the hospital alive. They had never seen Sweets before and therefore everything they were trying was failing. Thankfully though, through their efforts I am here to tell you my IBD story.

My advice to anyone suffering with IBD in any form – you know your own body, the doctors, as brilliant as they can be only see you for a short amount of time. If you have any concerns, do not let the doctor fob you off. You know yourself better than they do. Be vigilant.

 

The Blurb

Seventeen-year-old Darcy Covington doesn’t know the difference between a pawn shop and a thrift shop. Even her dog eats gourmet food, so she’s totally unprepared when her car is repossessed from the parking lot of her elite private school. Turns out her father, a semi-famous motivational speaker, has skipped town, abandoning his family while his business collapses. Even David Letterman comes up with ten reasons why her father won’t ever return home.

Desperate to sell her expensive jewellery for much-needed cash, Darcy discovers that her dad’s brother runs a funky thrift shop on a street full of eccentric characters, including a coffee shop owner named Liz and one supremely hot fix-it guy named Lucas.

Darcy finds some solace hanging out with her uncle and Lucas in the thrift shop and working in Liz’s coffee shop, while the rest of her life falls apart. The time she spends with the uber hot Lucas helps takes her mind off her family’s troubles, even though she’s sure he’s only nice to her because he works for her uncle, especially when she meets the cover girl beauty she thinks he’s dating.

Can Darcy find the courage she needs to adapt to the necessary changes brought about by her family’s drastically reduced lifestyle? And will she open her eyes to the amazing realization that Lucas wants much more than friendship from her?

The Review

How (Not) to Fall in Love is a surprising novel; it is surprising in many ways but mostly because the title is somewhat misleading. Don’t get me wrong, the result of this subterfuge is really impressive however upon picking it up (yes, purely based on the cover) I was expecting a fluffy romance story. How wrong could a girl be?

One of the storylines does involve a love story but it isn’t a silly little teen romance; it is a love born from mutual respect, attraction and also learning to love all parts of another person. Darcy and Lucas’s story is lovely. You see it unfolding and you beg and plead with the characters just to reveal their feelings for each other. And thank you to Lisa Brown Roberts for not making it a whole they-got-together-no-they-broke-up drama because sometimes you need a sustainable romance.

However, I think the main thing that I enjoyed about How (Not) to Fall in Love was the strong protagonist that we had in Darcy. Even though her entire world was falling apart she could have become a spoilt brat; the poor little rich girl who had to face a harsh reality. But that just isn’t interesting and Brown Roberts knows this and made sure that Darcy wasn’t just likeable but she was strong. Flawed, yes, like many a teenage girl but intent on keeping her life – and the life of those around her on track – and it is for this reason I can honestly say that I bloody loved How (Not) to Fall in Love.

How (Not) to Fall in Love by Lisa Brown Roberts is available now.

Follow Lisa Brown Roberts (@LBrownRoberts) on Twitter.

How Not to Fall in Love

Title: Cocktails in Chelsea

Author: Nikki Moore

Pages: 40 pages

The Blurb

Fun & flirty short story from the exciting new chick lit author Nikki Moore!

Made in Chelsea?

Nathan Black is on a mission to prove himself. His family may be upper class and his cousin Matt might be a famous music producer, but he’s going to make it on his own. So as soon as he has enough money set aside, he’s quitting his bar-tending job on the King’s Road and opening up his own cocktail bar. He hasn’t got time for love, and definitely not with the spoilt Chelsea Princesses who flirt with him shamelessly every night. But is there something a bit different about the pretty blonde who’s just walked in?

Bournemouth girl Sofia Gold is reluctantly visiting old childhood friends in London for Easter weekend. Keenly aware she’s not part of their glamorous world, she’s more comfortable riding a surfboard than wearing designer dresses and towering heels… although she’s always had a soft spot for cocktails.

It’s never really bothered Sofia that she’s ‘one of the boys,’ and that her romantic experiences have been amazingly unspectacular, so when she meets gorgeous Nathan, why does she find herself faking an accent and pretending to be a London socialite? It can’t be anything to do with impressing him, can it? After all, she’s only in the capital for a few days…

But one impulsive kiss later, they both find themselves wishing for things they didn’t know they wanted.

Spring in Chelsea – will love blossom?

The Review

After reading (and loving) book number three in the #LoveLondon series – Valentine’s on Primrose Hill – author, Nikki Moore promised me a fun, frisky, light hearted short story and man oh man did she deliver!

Leading lady Sofia is staying with family friends for the Easter bank holiday weekend and when they take her to their favourite bar in Chelsea she bumps into scorching hot barman Nathan. However, a case of mistaken identity gets in the way of them getting together. It will take the truth to be revealed before these two crazy kids decide to make the right move.

I loved Cocktails in Chelsea. Sofia seemed fun even though she was a fish out of water in her surroundings; Nathan became even more likeable every time he put himself out there only to try and protect himself from who he believed Sofia to be. It sounds a bit random to say this but it was all very Shakespearean.

Nikki Moore has created another enjoyable story for the #LoveLondon series. This is definitely a collection of books which will make you fall in love with England’s capital.

Cocktails in Chelsea by Nikki Moore is available now.

Follow Nikki Moore (@NikkiMoore_Auth) on Twitter.

Cocktails in Chelsea

The Blurb

Ada Goth is the only child of Lord Goth. The two live together in the enormous Ghastly-Gorm Hall. Lord Goth believes that children should be heard and not seen, so Ada has to wear large clumpy boots so that he can always hear her coming. This makes it hard for her to make friends and, if she’s honest, she’s rather lonely.

Then one day William and Emily Cabbage come to stay at the house, and together with a ghostly mouse called Ishmael they and Ada begin to unravel a dastardly plot that Maltravers, the mysterious indoor gamekeeper, is hatching. Ada and her friends must work together to foil Maltravers before it’s too late!

The Review

Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse is the first in the Goth Girl series by Chris Riddell. It is a disarmingly charming book about a girl called Ada who lives in a big gothic mansion with her father, the famous poet Lord Goth. Ada is a lonely young lady who is desperate for friendship and when she accidentally comes across Ishmael, a recently deceased mouse, her adventures in friendship start.

Whilst Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse is targeted at a younger audience (and I am far from a younger audience) I have to say that this book was a delightful read. It was full of mystery and adventure and the graphics in the book were spectacular. The literary and historical references might be lost on a younger audience however, if the child is reading to a parent they may be able to help them along.

Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse is a lovely story and has recently been shortlisted for the Carnegie Award. Go on, give it a read.

Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse by Chris Riddell is available now.