Category Archives: Life


Greetings readers,

As you may or may not know, my partner Jay Tomkinson has recently released his debut novel Akresha into the wild.

It’s a really great sci-fi story. You can head over to his author pages on Facebook & Amazon to learn more.

Akresha is available in paperback, & most e-book formats through Beaten Track Publishing


Thank you for your time & support.



An enjoyable introduction to Kristen Martin’s YA Dystopian trilogy.

The Alpha DriveThe Alpha Drive by Kristen Martin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 stars

Alpha drive is a solid debut novel from Kristen Martin. I enjoyed the fast paced action scenes, and the Matrix inspired plot.
Alpha drive would appeal to adult or older teen readers wanting a quick sci-fi / dystopian read, as well as YA readers who’d enjoy a contemporary novel with a twist.
According to the author, Alpha Drive started life as a NA contemporary novel, which was then rewritten as a YA Dystopian. This novel does seem to straddle a line between the two.
The main characters fit more in the NA age group. The setting seems to be a college/ uni, rather than a boarding school. Emery drives a car, has a long term relationship with her boyfriend, and drinks alcohol in a club.
The writing style and plot is clunky in places, but the story kept my interest with its Matrix inspired theme.
I enjoyed this book for what it is-a quick, fun read. I will be reading the rest of this trilogy to see how the story develops.

View all my reviews

I’m looking forward to reading more of Kristen Martin‘s books. I will finish The Alpha Drive trilogy as it should be a fun sci-fi fix. I am thinking that her dark fantasy Shadow Crown series will be more suited to my taste.

Kristen has a YouTube channel, which I watch for her useful writing advice and vlogs.
I also enjoy listening to her podcast That Smart Hustle while doing my morning workout. Kristen’s upbeat, motivational, common sense thoughts on life and writing are a great way to start the day.


The (Slightly Not Sober ) Beer Blog


Here are my notes from a beer festival I attended back last summer. Apologies to all involved. Tasting reviews are my opinion only.

Some of this might have made perfect sense at the time.


I get off the train along with my youngest sibling, and walk through the city centre towards the picturesque riverbank which is the location of the beer festival. A straggle of ale-filled people are already exiting the white tented venue with a  glaze of contentment on their ruddy cheeked faces.

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At some point we meet up with my sibling’s friend. Spotting them through the crowds by the bright yellow jacket they are wearing -despite the warm weather.

We walk into another area, where a band are playing a swing version of 4-non-blondes’ ‘What’s up?It’s not a bad tune.

Apparently we should go to Scotland to brew our own ale. Sounds like a great idea. (?)

We leave my sibling’s friend to chat up some ladies. Not sure what their boyfriends stood next to them were saying!

So to the most notable ales:

Cream Tea Deconstructed-it was strange. Fruit cake and tea.

I am not a fruit beer-no ‘I’m a vegetable, but tastes like fruit beer’. Very strange, made from beetroot. My sibling commented ‘it’s actually poisonous!’

Bitter Invention of Satan-okay. 8.6% abv. Strong taste of alcohol!

Gravediggers Ale-meh!

Brexit-a bit fizzy

Old Crow Porter– 🙂

Note:Sobriety  going south from here.

Red Spider-pale and fizzy

Four Go Wild in the Fens-Oh My Gods. Bloody awful! Had to stop myself spitting this one out.


The rest were okay. We did not find anything outstanding, or particularly nice. Often brews we expected to be rich and complex  were weak, and mediocre.


On the train awaiting debarkation (is this a word-in a dictionary?) to our home town.

Okay, I think this started at the Falcon (pub). Is this one of those clever, stupid, clichéd novels that start at the end, then has a clearer  twist at the end? No!

On train back, suitably pickled. Might get some coherent thoughts day after  imbibing fermented grain and hops  products.

Post festival house party, we have mini ale testing which proves more palatable.

Antwerpen-yummy, rich, chocolaty and very strong-8%

Wychwood-Arrowaine-a nice mild, light chocolaty brew


I am feeling rather queasy now.

So, was 2017 just a bad year for dark ale, or had we left it too late and all of the good chewable ales had sold out? I have attended on the last day in previous years and still found some decent brews, and a couple of the best ales I have ever tasted. A memorably delicious Hunter S Thompson inspired ale tasted like alcoholic sweet dark soy sauce with hints of coffee.


There was more, but photos, & my drunken text messages to myself & my other half  were on my now deceased old phone, so now lost. Perhaps for the best!