Loveahappyending Lifestyle magazine #LLm | grab life and run with it!
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Food, glorious food!

Chocolate cake

Death By Chocolate or does a bar a day keep the doctor away?

Caroline James investigates chocolate - her favourite food. In 1981 a pastry chef in a Santa Monica restaurant called Les Anges, invented a...

Bookshelf Reviews

New Bookshelf 2015 - featured image

The Bookshelf – May news and book reviews

The very latest Loveahappyending book news, author buzz and blogger reviews!  Our MAY Bookshelf S...

People with a passion!


Wall murals – you don’t have to be an artist!

Being a Gemini, I was born with a trait that means I'm willing to have a go at anything. 'You don't know until you try', has been my motto i...

In Search of a Happy Ending


Too Close for Comfort

  Q. I recently met my boyfriend’s grown (and married) daughter for the first time. He is 54 and she is 32, and he told me that th...

Lifestyle articles

Truly Madly Greekly sizzle

Truly Madly Greekly: Ouzo, olives and oopa!

  It's here! It's finally publication day for my tenth novel, Truly Madly Greekly!  So in honour of my book coming out I'm celebr...

Truly Madly Greekly: Ouzo, olives and oopa!


Mandy new headerIt’s here! It’s finally publication day for my tenth novel, Truly Madly Greekly!

Truly Madly Greekly sizzle So in honour of my book coming out I’m celebrating all things Greek with my Top Five Greek things!

5. Olives

Love them or hate them, olives have a taste all of their own and I bet you use olive oil in your cooking. My favourites in the UK are pitted green ones, or those stuffed with jalapenos, but when in Corfu I’m partial to the large black/purple ones. Succulent!

olives4. Metaxa brandy

I’m not a lover of brandy as a whole, but this Greek brand is a whole different drink altogether. Smooth and dangerously drinkable, it’s always part of my evenings on holiday and my first port of call at the Duty Free shop. Metaxa-5-Sterne-Brandy-07l

3. Bouzouki music and Greek dancing

I guess you could say the bouzouki is a bit like a guitar crossed with a mandolin. This instrument is what makes Greek music Greek and I defy anyone not to feel happy when you listen to it. For me it epitomizes the Greek culture and the whole ambiance of the country and gives me that warm holiday feeling!  Here is a link to some fine dancing at the Mareblue Beach Hotel, Corfu. Sirtaki!

IMG_2555The amazing Vangelis!

2. Scenery

Corfu is one of the greenest Greek islands which means it’s covered with flora and fauna, lush vegetation, rugged mountains, as well as the beautiful beaches and seascapes to die for. I love nothing better than looking out at the gorgeous water, with the sun in the sky and the mountains and villages of Albania providing a stunning backdrop. Amazing!


And a drum roll for the No. 1 spot:


1. The people

Corfu is just the best place for meeting new friends. Every time I go there I’m welcomed back with open arms and I go home again having met new friends from every corner of the globe – Africa, Bulgaria, Romania, Germany, Poland, Italy, England, Greece (obviously)! My hotel of choice is the Mareblue Beach Hotel in Agios Spyridon, Corfu. The times I’ve spent there helped to inspire Truly Madly Greekly and I can’t wait to take the book with me when I go there next week!

So, those are my top five favourite things about Greece. If you liked it, pop over to my Pinterest board and check out lots more Greek treats!

I hope I’ve tempted you into checking out Truly Madly Greekly! Buy it now for just 99p!



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A First-Time Mum’s Survival Guide

TR header

Seven Tips to Stay Sane

I was absolutely clueless when it came to babies. I didn’t even like to hold them, for fear of somehow snapping that floppy little neck. Even when I was pregnant, I was surprisingly cavalier about the whole thing. How hard can it be? Millions of women have been doing it for centuries. I’ll figure it out. 

Ha. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

The thing is, I did figure it out, but I wish I’d brushed up on some of the essentials beforehand — essentials besides nappy-changing and the like. Essentials that may save your sanity and actually grant you more than twenty minutes of unbroken sleep, like:


1. A rocking stand for your Moses basket (bassinet). We had this one, and I can’t tell you how wonderful it was. For a baby resistant to sleep, it works a treat — plus you get to sit down in a darkened room and close your eyes. I’d pull up a chair to the basket, stick my feet under the rocker’s rungs, and swing it back and forth for however long it took. Sometimes I’d fall asleep before my baby.


2. Swaddle blanket. Oh, the swaddle! The power of the swaddle! If you have a jerky baby (that just sounds wrong, but you know what I mean), the swaddle will stop him accidentally awakening. And if, like me, you can’t get your head around the logistics of the swaddle, this brand is perfect. My baby hated being put in the swaddle, but it helped him sleep faster and longer.


3. White noise. You’d think babies would like quiet, but you’d be mistaken. Babies loves noise, lots and lots of noise! Unless you want to run your Hoover 24/7 or turn on the shower all day, I’d recommend downloading one of many white noise applications. Baby still screaming? Turn it up louder!


4. Traffic. If, like my baby, your little one hates strolling in parks (I swear, just the sight of trees would have my child wailing), it helps to have a very busy road nearby. For some unknown reason (probably the fact he loves noise!), the roar of buses and whoosh of cars would calm his cries. For about five minutes, anyway.


5. Digital ear thermometer. Any hint of a fever in my newborn often threw me into a frenzy. Having this nifty device on-hand to check my babe’s health was wonderful to allay my fears, even if his temperature was sometimes half a degree higher in one ear than the other. Who knows why?


6. Mobile. When my parents bought my six-week-old this mobile, I wanted to weep at their feet in gratitude (I may have done just that — I was a little sleep-deprived). He would lie on his own and stare at it for ages, giving me the chance to shut my eyes without fear of dropping him. I can still hear the tune in my head two years later, but it was worth it. So, so worth it.


7. Marks & Spencer lemon-filled muffins. Something for you, not the baby. Honestly, these got me through the first few months, when  — according to the books — my baby should be contently kicking on a mat, allowing me to eat a wholesome breakfast. Haaaaa! Not at my house! However, I was more than happy shoving my muffin into the microwave for 20 seconds, then gorging on its lemony goodness. Talk about a wholesome start to the day.


Talli Roland writes bittersweet and witty contemporary women’s fiction. Born and raised in Canada, Talli now lives in London, where she savours the great cultural life (coffee and wine).

Despite training as a journalist, Talli soon found she preferred making up her own stories–complete with happy endings. Talli’s novels have been short-listed as Best Romantic Reads at the UK’s Festival of Romance and chosen as top books of the year by industry review websites.

To learn more about Talli, go to or follow Talli on Twitter: @talliroland.


The Hating Game
Watching Willow Watts
Build A Man
Construct a Couple
Marriage to Measure
The Pollyanna Plan
The No-Kids Club

Death By Chocolate or does a bar a day keep the doctor away?

Caroline James investigates chocolate – her favourite food.

In 1981 a pastry chef in a Santa Monica restaurant called Les Anges, invented a chocolate cake which he called “La Mort au Chocolat.” It consisted of layers of mousse, ganache, meringue and chocolate genoise – covered in a crème anglaise and the expression, Death by Chocolate, was born.

Why do we love chocolate so much?

Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get…”
From the movie Forest Gump


The average Briton eats more than 10kg of chocolate each year. The reason why we so addicted to this substance could lie in the fact that chocolate contains chemicals called opioids which are also found in opium. Opioids give a feeling of well-being and studies show that chocolate eaters produce natural opiates in their brains that soothe the nerves and make you feel good.

What’s in it and is it good for you?

“Anything is good, if it’s made of chocolate…” Jo Brand


Chocolate is a natural product, made with cocoa beans, cocoa butter, sugar, lecithin, vanilla and milk. Research* suggests that chocolate is good for your brain. The cocoa in chocolate contains flavanol, an antioxidant found in plants and people given cocoa with high levels of flavanols were seen to have better blood flow in the brain area associated with memory. They performed memory tests comparable with people two to three decades younger. Chocolate has also been found to reduce blood pressure and the risk of strokes.

Would you replace your hunk with a chunk?

“Man cannot live by chocolate alone, but a woman sure can.” Author unknown

Handsome man showing easter egg

Chocolate contains a brain-active chemical called phenylethylamine, thought to stimulate a sensation comparable to falling in love and magnesium in chocolate can increase sexual energy.

Is chocolate deadly?

christiana-edmunds-pressChocolate is a perfect vehicle for concealing the taste of poison and history shows that many an unsuspecting soul has met their fate this way. In 1870 Christiana Edmunds bought chocolate creams from a sweetshop in Brighton then laced them with poison. Unsuspected, she returned the contaminated chocolates to the shop and sadly, a child died before her evil deeds were discovered.

Does chocolate make you fat?

Chocolate butt

There are 270 calories in a 50g bar and for many would barely register on their chocolate scale. Inevitably, frequent chocolate binges are certainly going to pile on the pounds but in moderation shouldn’t increase your weight.

Why is dark chocolate better for you?

Dark chocolate contains the least sugar and is therefore better than milk or white chocolate. Choose dark chocolate with 70% cocoa solids, which is the healthiest. It also contains soluable fibre and lots of minerals.

Does a bar a day keep the doctor away?

Chocolate dates back to the time of the Aztecs who thought it was an aphrodisiac and ate chocolate regularly to increase wisdom and boost energy levels (they also used it as a form of currency). The British Medical Journal suggests that 100g of dark chocolate incorporated into a healthy daily diet could cut the risk of heart disease by up to 75% which could increase life expectancy.

It can make you feel good…

“Chocolate is cheaper than therapy and you don’t need an appointment.” Catherine Aitken

Hot chocolate splash and ripples on white background.

Chocolate increases levels of certain mood-altering chemicals in the brain which can lift your mood and give a feeling of euphoria. For many, chocolate is an indulgence – to be eaten without guilt. It is a substance that melts at body temperature and once in the mouth produces a delicious, silky and sensuous texture to be savoured and enjoyed.

Bring me sunshine – with my chocolate!

Chocolate Icecreams
Here’s a perfect excuse to top up your chocolate intake in the weeks before a holiday: Dark chocolate may protect your skin against the sun. The flavonols can protect against sun-induced damage as they increase hydration, skin density and improve blood flow.

Favourite recipe

What’s yours? For me, there is nothing nicer than a slice of really good chocolate cake and my favourite recipe is below. Chocolate is a treat, as is cake and on special occasions I can be found in the kitchen preparing a chocolate delicacy. Could I live without it? Yes, but life is for living and loving and if one of your loves is chocolate, I’d say combine it with your living and enjoy!

“All I really need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt!”
Lucy Van Pelt in Peanuts by Charles M Schulz

Caroline’s Death by Chocolate Cake

Chocolate cake
This chocolate cake is moist and very fudgy and best of all, really easy to make!

200g dark chocolate
200g dark brown sugar
200g caster sugar
25g cocoa powder
200g butter
85g self-raising flour
85g plain flour
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
3 large eggs
75ml milk

200g dark chocolate
284ml double cream

Grease and line a 20cm round cake tin and preheat the oven to 140C/ 160C/ Gas 3.
Place butter and chocolate in a heat proof bowl above a pan of simmering water and melt, stirring gently.
Mix flours, bicarbonate of soda, sugars and cocoa powder in a large bowl. Beat eggs and milk. Pour melted chocolate and butter and add egg mixture to the flour until thoroughly mixed. Spoon cake mix into cake tin and bake for 90 minutes (or until the top feels firm). Leave the cake to cool then turn out. When cold, slice the cake across into three layers.

Make the Ganache:
Lightly whip the cream until it just begins to stiffen. Melt the chocolate as before then combine with the cream mix, working quickly. Spread over cake layers and re-assemble, spreading remainder of ganache over the top and sides of the cake.
Decorate with chocolate curls or decoration of your choice.
Store the cake in a cool environment, in an airtight container, for up to three days.

*Study published in NatureNeuroscience

Caroline James

Facebook: Caroline James Author on Facebook
Twitter Account: @CarolineJames12
Author Blogs: carolinejamesblogspot

Wall murals – you don’t have to be an artist!

LBH headerBeing a Gemini, I was born with a trait that means I’m willing to have a go at anything. ‘You don’t know until you try’, has been my motto in life. With an interior design background, hands-on practical experience of renovating more than my fair share of cottages and houses, I’ve come to understand that sometimes you can’t find EXACTLY what you’re looking for in the stores.

Doing it yourself‘ isn’t just about saving money – although it can, if you are prepared to learn new skills, practice and perfect them. Sometimes it’s about personalising your home and the satisfaction of knowing your DIY skills have given you something more, or less, unique. I’m also a firm believer that no idea is ‘new’ and if it’s in your head then usually it’s something you’ve seen that sparked the thought.

Doing a WALL MURAL might sound overly ambitious, unless you are a natural artist. But if you keep it simple YOU CAN turn a bland wall into something that will be a talking point by using masking tape and choosing the right design.

Here’s a 5-step  guide and while I’ve used trees for this mural in the old forester’s cottage we’re currently renovating, you could easily use over-sized leaves, geometrical shapes (in a variety of colours), or any simple design you can scale up.

1. Make sure you have a good base coat of paint before you begin planning your mural. Stand back and think about the proportions. The consideration for this wall was that it needed to have two trees, one either side of the floating oak mantlepiece. The problem was that old cottages aren’t symmetrical and the walls aren’t straight. The wall lights are not an equal distance either side of the shelf, so where I placed the trees was important. As the wall lights are the focal point of the wall, that was the determining factor and not the slightly off-central fireplace.

2. Mask up your design using low-tack tape. Trees are easy and you won’t need to draw the shape in pencil first, or use a template (see ‘other versions’ below). Here all you do is let the tree trunk widen slightly as you take the tape down the wall. I cut small strips to add to the ‘trunks’ here and there to give a little variation. It’s detail but without being finnicky. Stand back and assess the proportion of the masked-up area. Is the effect large enough? It’s easy to adjust at this stage.

3. I used a three-inch roller to give two coats of paint. I used two-inch wide tape so that I could safely roll the paint right up to the inner edge of the tape with ease. Let the pain dry and peel off the masking tape.

1 2 3

4. The side branches were masked up in the same way. A one-inch paint brush was used for this to avoid going outside of the masking tape. Once dry, peel off the tape and touch up the backing colour if you find you have little smears of paint anywhere. The tree ‘canopy’ was simply a hand-drawn wiggly line done with a brush and then I took the colour up to the ceiling line.

5. Now for the leaves. For this you will need some card. I had three templates – the one shown here (which are the leaves that hang down from the top of the mural) and two smaller leaf details. Simply move the stencils around the mural as required and roller over the top of them. This is a little more fiddly, but patience pays off. If you make a mistake, always have a bowl of water and a clean cloth to hand. You can immediately wipe off a piece of stencilling and start again. Here I’ve added a bird cut from a wallpaper sample, just for fun!

4 5 6And here is the finished design:


The cost? Time – approx an hour and a half in total. Materials – recycled card (I always have a stock), leftover paint – £0. If I get bored with it I will lightly sand the wall and paint something new.

Other versions:

This tree mural would work well in a child’s bedroom. You could ‘hang’ items from the branches, using sticky-backed hooks – hearts, small soft toys, letters, numbers etc. It would also work well in a bedroom, on the headboard wall behind the bed. Be colourful, be inventive!

If you decide to go with coloured shapes (oval, circles, squares rectangles etc) I would suggest making some large cardboard templates so that you can apply the paint using a roller. Let each stencil dry (wiping any excess paint off with kitchen towel) before using it again. If you decide on large leaves (eg the castor oil plant leaves are a great inspiration), again make up some cardboard templates in varying sizes to make it interesting.

You can buy a light spray adhesive if you prefer to hold your stencils onto the wall in that way; it does allow you to use both hands and if you are working with large stencils, I’d suggest using that option. One spray usually allows you to peel the stencil off at least a couple of times before you need to re-spray.

Every time I walk past my mural it makes me smile; the grandkids love it and it was so easy to do. If I can do it – so can YOU!




Twitter: @LinnBHalton FB: Linn B Halton Author

Linn bookshelf final 2015

Too Close for Comfort


Q. I recently met my boyfriend’s grown (and married) daughter for the first time. He is 54 and she is 32, and he told me that they are very close. This wasn’t surprising to me since her mother died many years ago. However, I never expected what I witnessed the first time we went to stay with her and her husband on my vacation. First of all, the couple is living in my boyfriend’s house (he travels a lot on business so they moved in and are living rent and bill free). She works part time and he has a job that doesn’t pay very well, I gathered. However, I couldn’t believe how uncomfortable I was made to feel when I visited. Not only did she act as if she owned the house, but she actually bossed my boyfriend around like a henpecking wife, telling him what he could and couldn’t buy for the house and acting very territorial towards me. He told me that her husband does not have much money, and that she depends on her father, though he admitted the situation has probably gone too far. Instead of just supporting her, he now supports both of them and she expects the best of everything. I was really astonished at how she treated him (very disrespectful) and told him so in private. He understood and seemed to agree, but told me that at this late stage, he’d feel very guilty forcing them to take care of themselves, since he was at fault for getting her used to such a life. I really care for this man. He is good guy. But I’m afraid of what the future will hold for our relationship with this ungrateful albatross around his neck. Your thoughts?

A. Your boyfriend’s daughter has some serious entitlement issues, but for him to continue to enable her out of guilt is not the answer. Situations like this rarely get better and usually get worse. Is your boyfriend planning to support her kids if she has them, too? How does he think that will affect a possible future with you? And where will the two of you live if you want to marry or move in together? Obviously not at his home. The fact that she and her husband don’t pay rent or bills for the privilege of living there is just wrong. There is a time for children to become independent, and hers has clearly come and gone, but it’s never too late. Your boyfriend needs to be aware that he’s not doing her any favors by keeping her dependent on him. What would happen if God forbid something happened to him? Does she have a back-up financial plan? Many fathers, whether divorced or widowed, tend to spoil their children (particularly daughters) out of guilt, and don’t even realize how problematic it is until a possible mate comes along and points it out. You’ve had this talk, and he seems to agree with you, which is a good start. How and if he moves forward, though, is an open question. I’m curious to know how often he stays at his house and how often he interacts with her. This will indicate how much time in your life will be affected. I suggest sharing with him the points I made here and seeing if he is receptive to the logic behind them. He also needs to know how uncomfortable his daughter made you feel and how inappropriate all this is from the standpoint of a third party—especially one he cares for. Then you’ll just have to wait and see if he has the courage to become a strong father for her—and a truly available mate for you.


Read more advice from Bonnie HERE

If you would like Bonnie to offer some advice on your personal relationship issue, contact her at

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The Bookshelf – May news and book reviews

Janice New Banner LLm 2015The very latest Loveahappyending book news, author buzz and blogger reviews!

 Our MAY Bookshelf SPECIAL GUEST is…

The fabulous Miss Book Eater – avid reader and devourer of Books 


miss book eaterMy name is Charlie and I run my blog Miss Book Eater and enjoy it immensely. I am Dutch and moved to the UK in 2008, born and raised in Amsterdam. I can hear you almost gasp in why I moved from Amsterdam to the UK? Well that is a long story – but know that I am now happily married and I like to visit Amsterdam a couple of times a year. My heart is in both countries and I feel home in both countries, but mostly in Amsterdam and London. So therefore I am known amongst friends and colleagues as the Crazy Dutch lady or Crazy Cloggie as when needed I can be very patriotic and will dress in Orange whenever I would do this in Netherlands!

Why did I start with blogging?

I have always wanted to run a blog, but never really knew what I wanted to do until a friend of mine pointed out the obvious, why not start a book blog? Well, considering I am always reading and that apparently people around me were getting tired of listening to me when I found another awesome book that is a ’Must-Read’ it seemed a very good idea. So the idea for a book blog came from there and my oh my what a journey it has been already. I have met so many good friends and authors since blogging. I feel lucky, very lucky!

I started my blog in February 2014 and it is still going strong and it is a way for me to express my feelings about a book, tell the world what I thought of this book and if it is worth picking up and read. My goal is to keep my reviews spoiler free and run my enthusiasm through this review. My reviews are honest and open and if I haven’t really enjoyed the book I will say so, but it will then only feature on my blog if I think that some of my followers would appreciate this book.

Find out more about  Charlie and her blog Miss Book Eater

book eater logo

 Blog: Facebook: Twitter






Miriam Wakerly lives in Surrey, England. She says that the fictional village, Appley Green, where her novels are set, is very like villages nearby to her home. “I launched my first novel, ‘Gypsies Stop tHere’ the day after I retired, followed by No Gypsies Served two years later. Shades of Appley Green looks at a different aspect of village life. I have had many articles and stories published over the years – now I look forward to writing more English village novels. My degree was in English, French, Sociology and Politics; the interest I have always had in social issues influences my writing, as you will see. However, I do believe books should be enjoyable and reviews show that mine are!”

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Find out more about Miriam on her Website and on her LLm Cafe Author Page


HOT off the PRESS

What’s happening in May 2015?


Sheryl Browne goes on tour with her book Someone to Love. The online blog tour tour has been arranged with Candlelit Author Services and begins on 11th May 2015.  Sheryl, who has recently been accepted as Member of the Crime Writers’ Association, also has a new thriller due for publication, the title of which was suggested by a chief constable, who also offered the author advice around forensics and police procedural. Death Sentence is due for publication by Safkhet Publishing on June 1st 2015.

Janice Horton goes on tour with her summer beach read Castaway in the Caribbean. This online blog tour is hosted by Brook Cottage Books. Sail-away day for the 10 day tour is 15th May 2005 and posts include interviews, reviews and a tropical prize giveaway.

Mandy Baggot offers an escape to Corfu this summer with her hotly anticipated NEW book with her new publishers Bookouture.  Truly, Madly, Greekly is out on 22nd May 2015.

Linn B Halton has just been offered a contract for her novel Sweet Occasions by Lyn Vernham, the director of Choc Lit! You can read how thrilled Linn was to get this news on her website here.  In March 2015 Linn  also signed with Endeavour Press, who will be re-branding and re-publishing The Quintessential Gemini as Under The Stars in May 2015. That’s in preparation for the new SEQUEL Quintessentially Yours, which will also be published by them later in 2015.  Look out for news of the new covers – coming soon!

Patricia Sands has just heard that her book The Promise of Provence has won yet another award. This time it’s a Silver Award for Popular Fiction and a Gold Award in the Travel-Essay category of the 2015 eLit Awards. The Promise of Provence was an Amazon Hot New Release in April 2013. As well as a compelling story about a woman named Katherine Price ‘coming of age’ in her fifties, it’s also a love letter to France.  Winner of a Finalist Award for the 2013 USA Best Books in Women’s Fiction and a Finalist Award for Literary Fiction, 2014 National Indie Excellence Awards. Be prepared to fall in love with Provence!


Promise of Provence by Patricia Sands – Gold Award Winner


The @LLmAuthorsCafe Snapshot



 Click here to follow The LLm Authors’ Cafe on Twitter


 Loveahappyending BOOK BLOGGER Reviews

Bringing you independent reviews from some of the Best Reviewers in the Book Blogging world!


Truly Madly Greekly sizzleTruly, Madly, Greekly: Sizzling Summer Reading

Author: Mandy Baggot. Genre Contemporary Women’s Fiction


Reviewed by: Manda for Goodreads


Truly Madly Greekly comes out on 22nd May but Manda Jane Ward has read an advance review copy and has reviewed on Goodreads. She says: “Truly Madly Greekly is the ideal read. Especially during that time just after lunch and before picking the kids up from school, the mouth-watering descriptions freed my imagination, transporting me to Corfu. This romance is fabulous. The twists and turns that are wound seamlessly through the storyline kept me turning page after page. The hero Yan is such a nice guy, with morals and dignity, despite the secret he is hiding. I didn’t even guess what it was. As for Ellen, her maturity and spunkiness spoke volumes to me, and I particularly loved how vulnerable they were. The supporting characters helped the storyline move at a steady pace, they were likeable obviously apart from the moronic ex-boyfriend, and I felt I could identify with them. An excellent story, wonderful characters and a happy ever after to sigh about.”

Purchase: Amazon UK | Amazon US

 Find out more about Mandy Baggot from her Website and at LLm’s Authors’ Cafe


EOS CoverThe Edge of Sanity: a harrowing story of hope amid loss and betrayal.


Author: Sheryl Browne: Publisher: Safkhet Publishing: Genre: Romantic Fiction

The Edge of Sanity, tells the story of a psychological battle between everyman Daniel Conner, who is forced into becoming a hero, after being tortured and forcibly drugged, and drug addict Charlie Roberts, who has taken Daniel’s wife and daughter hostage. How far would you go to protect your family?

Reviewed by: Crime Thriller Hound (Book of the Week)

Excerpt from the review: “Better known for her romance novels, Sheryl Browne really delivers with her first thriller, a powerful and emotional read. The ‘ordinary character in extraordinary situation’ is a well-worn path but here we have the ordinary family, damaged by tragedy and struggling to cope with a new threat. The major strength of this novel is with its characters, each well defined, credible, interesting and in the case of at least one – scary!”

READ the entire review at Crime Thriller Hound

  Purchase: Amazon UK | Amazon US

Find out more about Sheryl Browne from her Website and LLm Authors’ Cafe



Castaway in the Caribbean sm jpegCastaway in the Caribbean

Author: Janice Horton. Publisher: Thornhill Print Genre: Adventure Romance Fiction.

Vacationing on the beautiful Caribbean island of Antigua, Janey Sinclair is persuaded by her magazine editor boss to do a quick island hop in order to supervise an impromptu photo-shoot for the front cover. With no flights immediately available, Janey is directed to the harbour. Captain Travis Mathews hates tourists, although he’s not above making a bit of money off a prissy and sharp-tongued young British girl when she’s desperate to get to the neighbouring island of Tortola. After striking a deal, they set off together in Travis’s weather-beaten old boat. When the vessel comes to a sudden full stop in the sea, the mismatched pair end up as castaways on an uninhabited island. In this fast moving romantic adventure about a vacation that turns into a tropical nightmare there’s more fun than you’ll find in any travel brochure.

Reviewed by  Charlotte at

“A little bit of adventure, danger, romance and a backdrop to die for are all thrown in the mix to create a read that’s just perfect for whiling away a lazy summer afternoon.”

READ the entire review at

Winner of the Best Romance Blogger 2015

Purchase: Amazon UK | Amazon US

Find out more about Janice Horton from her Website and LLm’s Authors’ Cafe


In MAY Look Out For…

 A fabulously dramatic new cover for Anneli Purchase’s Canadian novel of love, betrayal and triumph The Wind Weeps.

eBOOK [1]

Barbara Beacham, an Amazon reader, recently wrote: “I got myself so caught up in the story of Andrea, Robert and Jim, and in reaching the end I found that I wanted more! I am anxiously awaiting the sequel to The Wind Weeps!”

Grab a Coffee and check out  Anneli and her books at LLm Author’s Cafe news page!

Bookshelf 2015 footer

Artist Elizabeth Cassidy is going from strength to strength!

Linn news interviews - Copy

elizabeth cassidy: One of the Artistic Mothers of Reinvention

“Since 2011, I have been moving back into the life of an artist. I came into the world as a pint-sized artist but reality did not provide me with an art patron so I labored in the advertising field for over 25 years until I decided to make a change. I became a certified creativity coach and then the economy in the States tanked (I do feel partially responsible for that). I was an award-winning blogger and had my own column on Here Women Talk and even though there was no pay, the people I met and the ideas that seemed to come alive from inside of me will always be worth the nights of Mac and Cheese and cheap wine. It propelled me to look a little deeper into myself and all of this upheaval was teaching me to be brave even in the worst of times. It was all about being fearless and finding out why I am here on this planet. What was this lifetime going to be all about? I am studying Buddhism so I know that I will back – in some form. I am hoping for the life as a runway model. Being an artist does not always mean that I am deep all the time.

People ask me why I keep reinventing myself and all I can say is that I keep doing it till I get it right and I think as far as being an artist – it is the closest thing to perfection in my life.

In 2014, I attended a Touch Drawing workshop at the Open Center here in NYC and a five-day intensive workshop in Washington where I became a Touch Drawing Facilitator. It was a life-changer for me. You can learn more at Deborah Koff-Chapin’s site –

I also started this little business called, “What is in Your Name?” I design one-of-a-kind whimsical illustrations of people’s names. It is so liberating to just let my imagination go wherever it wants and my clients get something that is not computer generated. I have nothing against technology (maybe just a little when a certain computer decides to freeze up on me), but I think I will always use paper and art utensils to create art.

My main plans for 2015 are to illustrate two children’s books, teach touch drawing at local art schools, bring about world peace and be seen in public with Colin Firth.

I am an artist. It took me forever to have the nerve to say that, but I finally grew into who I really am.

Elizabeth 1a


Elizabeth 2


Elizabeth 3


Elizabeth 4

You can visit elizabeth at: and you can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

“I will be blogging again about art and life so please sign up for my blogs. To see where my art and I will be hanging out, please go to my Upcoming Art Exhibits’ page. I always like to hear from people so if you have any questions about my art or if you would like a cassidy creation in your home, please email me at:”

elizabeth name for LAHE med

 I hope you’ve enjoyed this interview and taking a peek at some of elizabeth’s incredible work – she’s a lady who is full of energy and positivity, what could be better than that? Oh, having a HUGE amount of talent, of course – and she does!



Twitter: @LinnBHalton FB: Linn B Halton Author


Linn bookshelf final 2015

Made in Nashville: Reliving Country 2 Country 2015

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This year the fans flocking to Londoncountry 2 country‘s O2 arena for a weekend of country music made up the biggest crowd ever! Since theIMG_0446 two-day event started in 2013 numbers have increased year on year and that looks set to continue after another amazing weekend of US and UK talent.

Thanks to Deep South USA my weekend got off to an early start with the Country Music Association Songwriters Series at the Indigo O2 on the Friday night. Here we were treated to an intimate session full of stories and acoustic performances from Kix Brooks (Brooks and Dunn), Brandy Clark, Sam Palladio (Gunnar from the TV show Nashville), and songwriting husband and wife Jessi Alexander and Jon Randall.

L-R Kix Brooks, Brandy Clark and Sam Palladio

And then some surprise guests turned up and stole the show. In my report of last year’s festival I mentioned the wonderful duo, Striking Matches. Well, they were back and they are better than ever.


Striking Matches

Saturday kicked off with music from the four pop-up stages plus The Saloon featuring Bob Harris’ Under the Apple Tree sessions. Everything from bluegrass to country pop/rock accompanied shopping for leather goods (boots/hats/bracelets/saddles), eating ,and drinking (hot dogs to ice cream – beer to cocktails,) and signings with the artists at the CMA stand.

IMG_0472IMG_0476InBlauk and Holloway Road


David Bradley and Millers Daughter

IMG_0515And then it was time for the main event. Four great artists took to the stage to give UK country music fans IMG_0514the ride of their lives. CMA Song of the Year winner Brandy Clark kicked things off with songs from her 12 Stories album followed by country legend, Lee Ann Womack. Then it was time for things to rock up a little. CMA Vocal Duo of the Year, Florida Georgia Line brought the house down with a non-stop set.

Florida Georgia Line

Then it was the turn of CMA Entertainer of the Year to take the stage. Luke Bryan brought everyone onto their feet with hits That’s My Kind of Night, Rollercoaster, Crash My Party and the song that finished the night on a real high, Country Girl (Shake it for Me).


Luke Bryan

Sunday started early with a huge queue for the Brooklyn Bowl to see Striking Matches followed by the fabulous Scottish duo, Raintown who really had the venue buzzing.



A wonderful performance by history-making UK band, The Shires followed. Ben and Crissie became the first British country act to chart in the top ten album chart over that weekend, proving that country music is on the rise in the UK. I couldn’t help grabbing a selfie with Ben.

IMG_0445IMG_0548 The Shires

A quick pit stop and a listen to the brilliant, Honey Ryder Band, and it was off to the arena for a second night!

Kip Moore was first on the list and after his performance he can expect a whole lot of album downloads.


Brantley Gilbert followed with his unique blend of southern rock/country that personally I love. Kick It In the Sticks set the standard and was followed by hit after hit including the anthemic One Hell of an Amen.


And I got to meet him backstage and hand him a signed paperback copy of my book, Made in Nashville, thanking him for the inspiration he gave me at Country 2 Country 2013.

Mandy Brantley and Big black and whiteIMG_0505

Jason Aldean and Lady Antebellum closed the show with dynamic performances that had the crowds begging for more.


Jason Aldean and Lady Antebellum

It was one amazing weekend and I can’t wait for Country 2 Country 2016!

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Amazon UK

Amazon US

The Imitation Game ~ Film Review

Sheryl Browne

Courtesy of Image,net  © 2014 BBP IMITATION, LLC. Distributed by STUDIOCANAL

Courtesy of Image,net

The Imitation Game tells the story of Alan Turing, a brilliant British mathematician and cryptologist, who, during the Second World War worked at Bletchley Park along with a team of code breakers. Their mission: to break the complex Enigma code, thus deciphering German coded messages and ultimately being one step ahead of the enemy. Various reviews have argued the historical correctness of events, pointing to Polish endeavours at breaking the code and information subsequently passed to the British and French which helped facilitate Turing’s achievements. Accepting those points of view, I can honestly say this is a film that will stay with me and one which I would highly recommend. Not only did it open my eyes to an important piece of WWII history I knew little about, but The Imitation Game tackles themes of homophobia and prejudice against those people who might be different in some way to what the majority see as ‘normal’.

Benedict Cumberbatch, rightly nominated for best actor Academy Award for his portrayal of Turing, a character as complex as the codes he attempts to break, plays Turing quite brilliantly, bringing us a believable genius, and also someone on the autism spectrum, which often goes hand-in-hand with high achievement. Cumberbatch, in my mind, played the character sympathetically, sensitively bringing to life Turing’s own sensitivities, his awkwardness, his innocent lack of ability to empathise with people, interpreting their words literally. We cheer as he achieves his goals, our hearts break as we see him trying to cope after the court case, brought because of his homosexual activities. Convicted of indecency, rather than serve a prison sentence, Turing opted for the alternative ‘punishment’, chemical castration.

Turing died in 1954. An inquest determined it was suicide.

Granted a posthumous pardon, Turing is now considered the father of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence. It takes someone different to do something amazing is an appropriate epitaph.


Morten Tyldum


Graham Moore

Andrew Hodges (Novel: Alan Turing: The Engima)


Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode


Biography, Drama, Thriller



Sheryl Browne Author Links:



Tough Plants for a Dry Shade Garden


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How many of you have at least one tough spot in your garden? I am sure there must be a few who have an area that challenges your aspirations of being the Master Gardener of your domain. I know I do. More than one area, in fact.

Ever since we put in the front bed along our narrow rural road back in 2001 and the big changes that began on the front garden in 2004, I have been struggling to find “what works” in my garden. My problem? Six trees in a relatively small area.

Three of the trees pose the biggest problems for me. Simply put – they are big. Really big. Their roots go everywhere. So let me put one gardening myth to rest. The feeder roots DO NOT end at the outer reaches of the tree’s canopy. And Graham Rice concurs in his book Planting the Dry Shade Garden (Timber Press, Inc. 2011). According to Graham, and it makes sense, tree roots will reach out as far as need be in their search for moisture and nutrients.

When it comes to planting underneath big trees with all their roots…man, it can be a hard slog finding plants that are tough enough to cut the mustard and stand up to those trees.

Acer campestre and underplantings

Acer campestre and underplantings

Well, surprise, surprise. Two of my six trees made Graham’s list of tough trees to plant under – Acer campestre (hedge maple) and Aesculus hippocastanum (horse chestnut). John has one on the list, too…his Acer platanoides ‘Crimson King’ (Norway maple).

I also think my Acer saccharinum (silver leaf maple) should have been on Graham’s list. As should any tree that is over seven metres (23 feet) tall…I don’t care what the species. When it comes to the root system on a large tree, you are talking tough planting. But through trial and error, plus sheer perseverance, my front garden is now “getting there” to where I am happy with the results.

Most of my problem in designing the front garden was incorporating specimen plants that I liked or wanted in my garden. Almost all were totally unsuitable for the growing conditions.

Bad mistake and shame on me. There are certainly a dizzying number of plant species available, some of which are much more suitable for what I had to work with, and every bit as beautiful in their own right as the ones I had previously selected. I just had to wrap my head around this factor and start nursery hunting for those plants. Sure as day follows night there would be some species in this category that I would absolutely fall in love with.

Three years into this re-model of my front garden I am pleased to report good success with some shrub species. These are a good design element that will pull the eye’s focus from the tree canopy down towards ground level.

Here is a list for dry shade Zone 7a garden in the Pacific Northwest region.

Arbour gate

Arbour gate and azaleas


Rhododendrons. Being shallow rooted they do not have too much problem competing with the tree roots. Water and nutrients are another story but I provide some manure and mulch with chopped up chestnut leaves. It is doing the trick, although the last two summers with their weeks of heat and no rain were a tad tough on the rhodos. A small sprinkler placed underneath each rhodo in its turn, delivered water directly the roots ahead of the trees getting any. Fifteen minutes of the sprinkler once a week helped the rhodos through the sixty-four days when we only had 96 mm (3.8 inches) of rain during that period.

Kerria japonica ‘Pleniflora’. This is the deciduous, yellow double-flowered, or pom-pom, kerria. It absolutely thrives in shade and does not mind competing for water. The flowers are sterile so there are no seeds produced. But it is does send up new branches from the root crown every year. An annual thinning of the oldest branches to one-third the total number of branches overall keeps this shrub looking invigorated. The tall, green, bamboo-like stems provide great winter interest.

Leucothoe fontanesiana ‘Rainbow’. (Dog hobble, drooping laurel, or switch ivy.) References refer to leucothoe as an erect shrub but it better suits its “drooping” common name. I actually have a love/hate relationship with this evergreen shrub because it is crammed in between the kerria and a viburnum which means cleaning the maple leaves out of this shrub in the fall is a nightmare. This shrub is also not meant to be pruned at all, which makes it doubly awkward in its present location in my garden. Have decided to move it and give it the room it deserves. On another note, the varied colours on the leaves are a definite bonus in breaking up an all-green monotony. Its drooping habit also effectively shades out any weeds.

Viburnum x burkwoodii. Third shrub in this close grouping beside my Acer saccharinum (silver leaf maple). Another evergreen, it helps hold interest through the winter, albeit its shape has been described as “lax”. While it may prefer full sun, it is highly tolerant of almost complete shade, although at the expense of more blooms. I can attest this particular species of viburnum is resistant to the dreaded viburnum leaf beetle.

Weigela. I have five because they do well in my tough conditions. The old-fashioned Weigela florida with its red tubular flowers performs the best which is not surprising. Specially bred cultivars do tend to be a little less robust than their parents. But still, Weigela florida ‘Variegata’ is doing quite well, especially since I moved it into a sunnier locale. (All Weigela spp. like five to six hours of sun, if you can provide it.) I love its delicate pink tubular flowers on ‘Variegata’, as do the hummingbirds.

Also moved my dark-leaved Weigela florida ‘Alexandra’ (Wine and Roses™) for the same sunnier reason. The chestnut tree (Aesculus hippocastanum) branches refuse to stop growing outwards and into what was once sun-filled garden space.

Weigela florida 'Briant Rubidor'

Weigela florida ‘Briant Rubidor’

My last two weigelas…I absolutely love the dwarf version of Wine and Roses™, Weigela florida ‘Elvera’ (Midnight Wine™), which also has the luscious dark leaves. Great to tuck into a small space as it only grows to a maximum height and spread of two feet, although I am beginning to think this dwarf shrub may actually look really nice in a container. And finally, my pride and joy…Weigela florida ‘Briant Rubidor’, a yellow-leaved specimen with deep red flowers. This one best suits a shadier spot where it absolutely shines when it gets only a brief, four hour caress from the morning sun.

Rosa glauca flower

Rosa glauca flowers

Want roses? I can attest Rosa glauca, a dark-leaved species rose, can handle tough growing conditions. It will not attain its full lusciousness but does well enough to be an asset in a hard-to-grow garden bed as long as it can manage the requisite six to eight hours of sun.

Rugosa roses also do well, particularly those in the Pavement series which were specially bred for along the median of the Autobahn in Europe. I have made a hedge of the Pavement roses along the boulevard where the soil is the absolute worst. Lots of tree roots, hot afternoon sun, a tough place to water adequately, and yet…these roses throw out masses of fragrant blossoms throughout the summer. If I keep up with the dead-heading. Another bonus: the large resident deer leave these roses alone.

Not to be left off the tough shrub list are the spireas. I have three: ‘Goldmound’, ‘Goldflame’ and a cutleaf spirea. All are worth their salt as they thrive well in tough, dry areas. But they too will benefit with some sun. Placing them at the very perimeter of the tree canopy will give you good colour in the gold-leaved cultivars.

Pieris japonica 'Variegata'

Pieris japonica ‘Variegata’

That pretty well wraps up my list of tough shrubs for my dry shade garden with a few exceptions. I did not mention the Osmanthus x burkwoodii, the dogwood tree, the vine maple or the Pieris japonica. All great plants too.



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