As the title of this blog post says – hello there! It has been a while since I posted on my own blog. I am still posting a lot over on the Papermilldirect blog, and managing my Mullen Makes Instagram alongside my regular Instagram. Life just got a bit hectic and I needed to simplify, take a moment, step back and take a break. But now, we all seem to have a lot of spare time on our hands, don’t we?

But I saw that I got mentioned in a blog post today, so it inspired me to pick up the digital pen, and write a quick post, by way of thank you. Lee Hall, the brilliant indie writer whose books I have reviewed on here a few times is celebrating a blogging milestone of 500 followers and is doing it by giving others a shout out – how decent a human being is he, eh? He not only writes great books, but he also does very good blog posts too, so head over and check his blog out, and maybe give him a follow while you are there!

In the meantime, I shall endeavor to post with more frequency than Halley’s Comet! I will leave you with an image of a project I completed with some tester pots of paint and a cheap Ikea dresser. This is how I pass time when bored – even before lockdown!

View this post on Instagram

Office makeover continued – This @ikeaie Tarva dresser was perfect for the storage we needed, and we liked that it was solid wood. Combine it with some @craigandrosepaints tester pots of paints (painting the hall is next!), add some gold washi tape accents and it goes from a tad bland to fab! I (Nicole) really went to town on it, and made leather pull handles for it too. The Craig and Rose paints are amazing, no primer needed and the coverage is amazing, consider me a total convert (not sponsored, I wish!!). I had too much fun on this piece and am eying up what I can start masking off and painting next 😆 . . . . #creative #painting #upcycling #paintingfurniture #furniturepainting #ikeaatmine #ikeahacks #tarva #craigandrose #bestpaint #washitape #storage #officerenovation #followyourtrend #converted #mullenmakes #creativity #furniturepainting

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Well Hello There!

Book: The Ghost Beside Me (Available on Amazon*)
Author: Lee Hall

The Ghost Beside Me by [Hall, Lee]
Neville has carefully crafted his life to keep social interactions to a minimum. He works as an accounts clerk, leads an introverted life, boards in lodgings where he can very much keep to himself as he desires. His only friend Humphry Hardwick, is very much the opposite. Loud, brash, jolly, outgoing, and always asking if Neville has met that special lady yet. Hardwick is convinced a lady in his life is all Neville needs to turn from solitary loner who hides among numbers, into a social butterfly.

Neville keeps a diary of his wearisome and dreary life. Particularly as his new lodgings seem to become that little bit less wearisome, and certainly a little less dreary. He begins to question if his self enforced life of solitude has sent him on a downward spiral of insanity. Or is something more at play? Surely as a rational, sensible, by the books (literally) man he has to be imagining the odd occurrences, disruptions, and flitting sensations while he tries to sleep. As the disturbances begin to increase and his sanity is pushed to the brink, he has a glorious revelation. 

The Ghost Beside Me is a story that will resonate with most. At its forefront it is a ghost story and a love story. However, deeper than that, it is an examination of self, and how we see ourselves, and portray ourselves to others. How we choose to live in this world. How we choose to live our life, or merely be a passenger to it. The power of love, of connections with others and how self worth determines the life you live. A short read, but deep and powerful.

*I received a beta version of this book for review but all opinions are my own.

This review is also listed on Amazon.co.uk and Goodreads.

*No affiliate links, I am just linking to make your life easier!

Book Review – The Ghost Beside Me by Lee Hall

Book: Open Evening (Available on Amazon*)
Author: Lee Hall

Open Evening (The Order of the Following Series) by [Hall, Lee]

You find yourself enthralled by the story before you even realise it, sucked right into crazy escapades, drama and suspense – a sure sign of a gripping read!

High school is killer. There are the jocks, the popular pretty girls, the class clown, the bully, the geeks, the total outcasts, where do you fit in? Luke Hartford spends each day skirting the fringes of the high school hierarchy. He just wants to get in, get class done and get by. Odd teachers, jerk classmates, the unattainable girl, and a really weird friend who seems determined to become his best friend, these are all things he can deal with. Then comes the school Open Evening. It sets off a strong sense of deja vu – or is it more than that? The Open Evening swiftly moves from being a regular mundane school event to be endured and suffered through, to a fight for life. We are introduced to a cast of characters, Luke, Buster, Twister. Then come the…..well, what are they exactly? Nothing you want to hang around and say hello to for sure. 

Once the action kicks off it continues until the very end. There are tantalising backstories teased at for some of the characters. There is more going on than we truly understand. But what we do see is our motley crew stepping up to the plate, and shaping up to become just the people needed to try to save the town. The big question is, can they? And can they survive becoming heros??

You find yourself enthralled by the story before you even realise it, sucked right into crazy escapades, into the drama and suspense, and almost casting around for a weapon for self-defense of your own, just in case you need it – a sure sign of a gripping read. Definitely one to add to the ‘to read’ list!

Disclaimer: I purchased this book myself and all opinions are my own.

This review is also listed on Amazon.co.uk and Goodreads.

*No affiliate links, I am just linking to make your life easier!

Book Review – Open Evening by Lee Hall

Book: Nocturnal Blood (Available on Amazon*)
Author: Villimey Mist

Nocturnal Blood takes a common vampire narrative and turns it on its head.

What do you expect when you read a vampire story? Blood, violence, sex, gore, some more blood for good measure? Mainstream film and tv would also lead us to expect dazzlingly attractive vampires, with equally attractive sidekicks. 

Well, Nocturnal Blood takes this common vampire narrative and turns it on its head. It introduces you to Leia. Pleasant, naive, polite, eager to please, and crippled with OCD – a mental health condition that leads to a teenage life of cruel and heartless bullying. We then meet Sophie. One of the more popular kids in school, she takes it upon herself to befriend Leia. Once Leia gets over her trust issues (is this a prank? Another stunt everyone is pulling on her? Another bully waiting for the right moment to pounce?) they become good friends. But then Sophie vanishes – well moves to Canada, so as good as vanishes! They keep writing letters to one another, but eventually, the letters stop. Leia tries to move on with her life, but some part of her always misses Sophie.

Then one evening walking home from the library Leia is attacked. It could have ended badly, very badly. Yet out of the shadows steps the long-missing Sophie – and instead, it ends brutally badly for Leia’s would-be attacker. Horrified at first, Leia soon reaches out to Sophie, and this sets off a chain of events. This results in a human/vampire road trip to find a place of refuge. Along the way, they find themselves, discover their true friendship, and discover more than they ever bargained for.

As a vampire tale goes this was quite a break from the norm. No love triangles, no angst at unrequited love, no dilemma at should the vampire turn the human. Instead, it brought the realness of being a teenager, struggling with mental health, abuse, bullying, and many more issues. A coming of age friendship story, where one of the friends happens to be a vampire. Where two young teenagers are discovering who they really are, and what lengths they will go to in order to protect one another, and what they have. There was plenty of blood and drama but rooted in a pretty solid back story. The writing was at times a little clunky, but one would put this down to the author not being a native English speaker. It didn’t distract from the story too much. Overall a thoroughly enjoyable read and one that left me looking for more!

*I received this book for free as part of the authors’ promotional giveaway, but would happily purchase more from her.

This review is also listed on Amazon.co.uk and Goodreads.

*No affiliate links, I am just linking to make your life easier!

Book Review – Nocturnal Blood by Villimey Mist

Hi all,

I am dropping by here to share a cute little card made with some Papermilldirect card and the most perfect little SVG cutting file! The selection of colours available made this card super easy to make, and the card all cuts perfectly, even down to the tiniest piece. I used:

I cut all the parts needed for the own file on my Silhouette cutting machine. I assembled the owl using a glue pen and a skewer to help me align the smaller parts. I decided the branch would be sitting in a plain blue sky, so I matted the plain blue card on to the buff card base to make the blue sky.Owl Bday Card On Branch 2
I built up the branches and leaves with foam tape to add dimension and repeated this with the owl. This gives more of a 3D effect.Owl Bday Card On Branch 3
I added a simple birthday sentiment and left it simple, with the owl the main focus. I love how it looks like he is reaching out to give you a hug!Owl Bday Card On Branch 1

Hanging Out

I love when you can personalise a wedding card to really mean something to the bride and groom. When you can take things a step further than simply incorporating their wedding colours, and bring in something that means a lot to them, it makes a card that much more special. I have full details of this card over on the Papermilldirect blog, including what card colours I used, and how I created the background. I love the colour combination on it though!Beauty And The Beast Card 2

Beauty And The Beast Card 3

Beauty And The Beast Card 1

Disney Themed Wedding Card

Hi all,

Nicole here to share a cute little card, using minimal supplies, but giving great impact. What I used:

I started off by paper piecing the turtle from the PaperSmooches stamp set. You can see him in the stamp set in the first image below and then completed. I added some spots on the turtles shell using the confetti stamp from the set.Nicole Turtle Bday Card 1Nicole Turtle Bday Card 2

I stamped the banner stamp from the set onto my patterned paper using Peacock Feathers Distress Ink. I didn’t want to completely hide the patterned paper, and it is a solid stamp. So I stamped the banner stamp once to give a solid impression, and then a second time to give a faint, second impression. This gave me enough of an outline to follow to cut the banner out, and to go over the stitch marks with a white pen. But it still showed the pattern through it. You can see the first impression stamping on the top row in the image below.

Nicole Turtle Bday Card 3

I then used the same distress ink to stamp the confetti image from the stamp on the Teal mat layer from the card. This gave a bit of interest and stopped it looking so plain, but was a bit more tone on tone, and not so bold as black ink would have been.Nicole Turtle Bday Card 4

I then added glossy accents onto the spots on the turtles shell to give a bit of texture.Nicole Turtle Bday Card 5

I put all my elements together and that was my card done!Nicole Turtle Bday Card 6Nicole Turtle Bday Card 7

Turtle Birthday Card

Hi All,

Just stopping by with a fun card for a retro computer lovers birthday. I recently came across this file and set of instructions for a really fun birthday card that looks like an old school computer message window. As soon as I saw it I knew it was prefect for a certain birthday that I had coming up so just had to try it! I printed the template on the Papermilldirect White Card – Plain. This card is brilliant for printing on, and takes the colour really well, and also lets you score and fold it too.

I followed the instructions in the template, with one little change. I cut my front panel out with little tabs, and I used these to make my window ‘pocket’. This will make sense if you look at the instructions, I promise!

Computer Loading Bday Card Nicole 1I then stamped a background on a Slate Grey card blank to add a bit of interest.Computer Loading Bday Card Nicole 2I then used foam tape to add my pocket message to this card blank for my super fun card.Computer Loading Bday Card Nicole 3Computer Loading Bday Card Nicole 4Computer Loading Bday Card Nicole 5Computer Loading Bday Card Nicole 6

Have you ever tried a template like this? I would love to know of more fun ones, so let me know if you have!

Retro Computer Loading Card

Hi All,

Just dropping by with a little fun, personalised birthday card for a friend. For this project I used a lot of Papermilldirect card colours, you can see the full list over on their blog. I also have a step by step on how I made this card.

Layered Cake Bday Card Nicole 10

It has a fun bonus feature. The cake on the front of the card opens for a bonus ‘hidden’ extra birthday message!Layered Cake Bday Card Nicole 11

I hope you enjoy and let me know if you ever create double opening cards like this!

 

Hidden Message Card

Book:Riders on the Storm (Available on Amazon*)

Author: Rob Blackwell

Could we take a moment for this stunning cover?!

 A book to define a genre!

There is little that Rob Blackwell writes that is not pure excellence and very unique. However when I heard sci-fi western I will admit to a brief raised eyebrow. I am not typically a reader of westerns. If you feel the same let me tell you – this book will convert you. It is a true page turner, I could not put it down until I was finished, and then immediately wanted more.

Set in the year 1883 in the Dakota Territory it is decidedly unsci-fi in many ways. Horses and six shooters are the standard fare. No space blasters, shiny silver space suits and hover cars here. Throw in bandits, stick-em-up bank heists and stagecoach robberies, and it is looking almost decidedly normal. Then comes the twist. The rolling storm clouds, that are squirming, alive with monsters. These are the Vipers and they are impossibly fast, can’t be killed with regular bullets and if they so much as scratch you, well say your goodbyes fast.

Early on in the story we meet Jules Castle – she is a thief, con artist, the daughter of an outlaw and raised among outlaws. She is the best of the best. Whip smart, ruthless and unbeatable with her gun, and with her sister by her side, nothing can stop her, except perhaps the Vipers. She is searching for clues to track down her father, who vanished mysteriously a few years before. However pursued by the U.S army, some of her father’s former posse and not to mention the Vipers how successful can she be?

This book evoked memories of Firefly, but dare I say it, even better?! More Jules Castle please!!

I received this book from the author for review, but all opinions are entirely my own.

This review is also listed on Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and Goodreads.

*No affiliate links, I am just linking to make your life easier!

Riders on the Storm – Rob Blackwell