Book Review – “The Tower”, by Simon Toyne

I never make New Year Resolutions, as I never keep them.  However, in a previous blog post, I stated that I have made two for 2018, and I was determined to keep them.  The first was to read more.  Books, that is.  I would aim to read at least one book per month.  Some times that’s easier said than done – so should I aim for “12 books in 2018” instead?  No.  That would just put more pressure on me if I don’t finish a book by the end of the month.

Anyway, I can confirm that today (31 January), I have just finished my first book of the year.

The Tower, by Simon Toyne.  First published 2013.  498 pages.  ISBN 978 0 00 739208 7.


When I bought this book, I didn’t know that this was actually the third of a trilogy (I will point out here that this makes no difference to the reading.  I have not read the previous two books, nor do I intend to…  This book was perfectly readable on its’ own).  Whenever I buy a book, it’s the cover design that grabs my attention first.  If I am drawn to the cover, I will read the description on the back.


After centuries of secrecy, the forbidden Citadel in the historic Turkish city of Ruin opens its gates.  A deadly disease has ravaged everything within.  Charity worker Gabriel Mann is dying – but may also hold the only cure.

Without him, ex-journalist Liv Adamsen stands alone against those who want her silenced.  However, Liv soon has far bigger concerns than just her own life…

In America, FBI agent Joe Shepherd searches for NASA’s missing head scientist.  His investigation unearths a global conspiracy that is preparing for an event beyond all reckoning.

But nobody is ready for what is coming.  And when it does – it will change everything.

I’m a fussy reader, and the genres I choose are rather eclectic.  Ha ha, a bit like this blog really.  I enjoy reading chick lit; where the main character(s) are women, and is a bit of a romantic comedy.  On the other hand, I have really enjoyed reading conspiracy / thrillers; so the blurb on this book called to me.

I have to admit that it was a little slow in starting off.  It seemed all over the place, as the story focused on different “main” characters, who were in different parts of the world.  I couldn’t get my head around it, but perseverance paid off, as by about chapter 10, I was able to distinguish whose story line I was “playing out”.  10 chapters in may sound like a lot, but the chapters in this book are well written, and are about 3-5 pages long.

I found a lot of the characters likeable.  I was able to somewhat “see” what they were describing, and I did feel a lot of empathy for them.

There were a couple of chapters towards the end of the book that I think happened too fast…  I don’t want to give any spoilers here, but I think three characters story lines were ended rather abruptly.  There was no real build-up to it – it just sort of happened; and to me, there could have been more to it.

The whole book sort of ended quickly too.  All the characters, and the plot was closed, so it didn’t leave me with any unanswered questions, but it really felt like the author had just given up.  “I’m bored, let’s wrap this up”, type of thing.  Which was a shame – especially considering this was the final book in the trilogy.

Overall, I would recommend this to anyone who does like to read conspiracy novels.

My score:



Everything comes in threes…

Donut hasn’t had the best of times over the past couple of months.

It all started in December, when hubby treated me to an early birthday present.  He booked for us to go away for the night, leaving both boys with my parents.  It was a lovely break…  We had dinner, played Fallout Monopoly, and the following morning, breakfast, and he took me to watch Star Wars:  The Last Jedi, before heading to my parents to pick the boys up.

That was when it all started.

We arrive at their house, and my mum is cuddling Donut.  “He’s not well…” she said.

His breathing was erratic – like he couldn’t catch his breath.  He was also making a weird “clicking” noise, which sounded on every short inhale.  He also didn’t want to move.  He seemed really lethargic.

Mum explained that he’d been that way since about 11am – it was then nearly 4pm when I was there.

An emergency appointment to see a doctor was in order, so we called NHS 111 for advice.  They agreed that they would like Donut to seek medical advice, so just after 6pm, I took him to the clinic.

Immediately the physician said that she wasn’t happy, and she called an ambulance for him.  She placed a mask on him, connected to an oxygen tank, and filled a tube with what looked like a liquid, which started steaming and bubbling as he breathed.

She took his pulse, blood pressure, and checked his lung capacity.  His pulse was racing, his temperature was through the roof, and his lung capacity was down to just 75%.

We waited for almost 3 hours before the ambulance arrived.  I felt like I had failed as a mother.  Why didn’t I just take him straight to A&E?  Obviously this was an urgent matter, but as usual, I tried to shrug it off, saying, “ahh, he’ll be ok shortly…”

My husband was the one who went in the ambulance with him.  I couldn’t face it – I almost had a breakdown.  I just couldn’t cope.  Instead, I took Gning home, and explained that his baby brother wasn’t very well, and would hopefully be home from hospital very soon.

10pm-ish.  Hubby phoned me, asking to come and pick them up from hospital.  He said that his battery (on his phone) was almost dead, so he would explain everything when we got there.

I parked in the “drop-off” zone, and managed to get a message to hubby to let him know where we were.  As soon as we seen hubby and Donut come out through the automatic sliding doors, Gning was out of the car, running towards them.  He ran like the wind.  As soon as he reached them, he was on his knees, giving Donut a massive hug.  Donut was smiling and laughing.

Back in the car, hubby explained to me that a virus had triggered a breathing attack.  As Donut is under 5 years old, the NHS are not allowed to diagnose asthma (big concern, as hubby has suffered with it all his life), but he had an asthma attack.  Instead of being diagnosed with infantile asthma, he was diagnosed with Infantile Wheezing Syndrome.

He was sent away from the hospital with a blue inhaler – Salbutamol, and we were instructed to give him 5 “puffs” every 4 hours for the first week, then drop it to 2 “puffs” every 4 hours for the second week, whilst waiting to see our own doctor.

I waited until the New Year, as the week between Christmas and New Year was fully booked at the surgery.  The doctor had looked through all of Donut’s notes, and I explained what we had been doing (with the inhaler).  The doctor seemed happy with his progress, so advised that we don’t have to continue using the inhaler unless we deem it necessary.  We were to book another review in 6 weeks time, and in the meantime, keep a diary (of sorts) of when we use the inhaler, and how many “puffs”.

Fast forward to Sunday (14 January).  Donut falls asleep on me in the front room.  Hubby carries him to bed, and tucks him in.

About 10.30pm, Donut is up and back in the front room.  He’s whingy.  I pick him up, and his temperature is sky high again.

I strip his pyjama’s off him immediately, and advise hubby to find some paracetamol urgently – which he did.  We gave him some medicine, and I lightly cuddled him.  We had to bring his temperature down; so I told hubby to take him in to the “big bed”, and to lay him on top of the covers, ensuring the ceiling fan is on.  Within 20 minutes, Donut is asleep again.

It was a bad night.  He was tossing and turning, and snoring snotty snores…  I spent most of the night awake, constantly checking on his temperature.  He was still hot.

Morning came, and hubby came home from work (he works 2am-7am-ish), and Donut was still hot to the touch.  We also found it very difficult to wake him up.

I called our doctors surgery at 8am, when they first opened, and explained that I needed an urgent appointment.  We were given one for 9am.

Donut was diagnosed with the “flu”.  He was prescribed Ibuprofen, and we were advised to alternate the paracetamol with the Ibuprofen.  Plenty of water, and plenty of rest is also essential to his recovery.  Just to ensure that this didn’t trigger another “breathing attack”, we also started giving him his 2 “puffs” of the inhaler, every time he took some medicine.

Thankfully he didn’t suffer for long, as he seems back to normal today (Thursday).  We’ve stopped the medicines and inhaler, however today brought “incident number 3”.

They always say that everything comes in 3’s.  Let’s just hope that Donut doesn’t have to suffer any more after today.

I instructed Gning to go and brush his teeth.  Now, Gning doesn’t like brushing his teeth, so to make sure he was doing it properly, I stood in the doorway of my bedroom, where I was watching him in the bathroom.  Donut was in the front room, and seen me.  Thinking I was playing a game, he runs from the front room, in to the hallway, trips up over his empty Lego bag, and falls head first, straight in to the door frame.

He hit it hard.  The bang was like nothing I have heard.  The whole house seemed to shake.

I scooped him up off the floor, ran in to the front room and sat down with Donut on my knee.  I had my hand firmly pressed against his forehead, and told hubby to get me some Witch Hazel on a tissue as a matter of urgency.

Ten seconds later, hubby had the Witch Hazel soaked tissue, and I removed my hand.  No blood – it’s not cut, but there’s already a bump.  Just as soon as I moved my hand, the tissue was placed on the bump.

I had to take Gning to school, so instead of having to make hubby constantly hold the soaked tissue on Donut’s forehead, I managed to find two Star Wars themed plasters (band-aids), which secured the tissue in place.  Hubby kept Donut amused while I did the school run.  When I got back, Donut was playing on Star Wars Battlefront II (see a theme here?  We’re Star Wars mad, lol).

Donut heard me come back, so he tottled in to the front room, and asked me to take the tissue off his head.  I gladly obliged him, as he’d had it on without complaining for almost 30 minutes.

I asked him how his head was…  “Fine”, he said in his own little way.

He’s bumped, and it’ll probably bruise too, but without the Witch Hazel, it could have been a lot worse.

Let’s hope that’s the end of it.



For more information on Witch Hazel, and it’s healing properties, click here

Bagpipes – “Auld Lang Syne”

Not bad considering I haven’t picked up the pipes in 12 months…

2018: My New Years Resolutions

  • Read more.  Aim to read at least one book per month.  If you start a book, finish it.  Even if you don’t like it…
  • Write more.  You have such a creative mind, and you’re letting it go to waste.  Write at least one piece of poetry, and one short-story per month.  Get in to the habit of writing, then when you feel more confident, start writing that book…
  • Every night, write a bullet point list containing three things that you are grateful for on that day.
  • Teach Gning how to play chess and backgammon.  At least once a month, play a game of each.
  • Start keeping the house.  Properly.  No more “I’ll do it in a minute…” – if it needs doing, do it now.  Stop leaving everything until later – it’ll only pile up, and mean more work for you.

Goodbye 2017; Hello 2018!

Today is the last day of 2017.


It’s been a rather eventful year, and one that I can actually say, hasn’t been a bad one.  Granted, there have been several ups and downs, but this year has been one of the better ones, over the past few.

A few reflections of 2017…

  • Gning started year one in school.
  • Donut started nursery.
  • I finished working at the DWP – one of the hardest, yet satisfying decisions of my life.
  • The hubby started full-time work.
  • Donuts’ speech is coming along beautifully.
  • Gning passed his “Stage 1” in swimming.
  • My depression seems to have stabilised somewhat, and I’m relying less and less on my medication.
  • I have restarted the old way of communicating, in “penpalling” (good old fashioned pens, paper, envelopes and stamps).
  • I made a new, very dear friend.

When I was younger, I used to always make resolutions for the upcoming new year, however, as more than likely everyone else, they never usually lasted longer than a week or two.

For 2018, however, I have decided on a couple…

  • Read more.  I would like to read at least one book per calendar month.
  • Write more.  Not letters, but write more poetry, and short stories – just like I used to “pre-children”.

So, without further ado, I bid thee farewell 2017, and 2018, I welcome you with open arms.


This ain’t a Mickey Mouse tale…

This year, no matter how much I try, I just can’t get in to the Christmas Spirit.


It’s like it’s not even December.

It’s cold outside, and our heating is on.  I have a beautiful new pair of winter boots that hubby has bought for me (early birthday present).  I’ve been wearing my lovely, grey, winter coat and scarf.  Homemade, paper decorations are sprawled across our house – paper snowflakes, stars and chains.  There are several Christmas cards on our window-ledge, and we’ve got a beautiful, wooden winter scene on display, that my dad made…


However, we didn’t have the tree up.

It’s become a tradition, in our house, that our tree and decorations go up on 1 December; but it wasn’t possible, as there was just too much to do in the house.  There was still cleaning to be done, mainly due to a couple of mishaps in the boys room a few weeks ago (long story).

A couple of days came and went, and Gning was questioning why we haven’t got our tree up.  So on 4 December, hubby got the step-ladder out, and up in to the attic he went.

He passed the attic door to me, and then I heard him say, “looks like we’ve got mice…  There’s droppings everywhere”.

He passed the large, red bag, containing the tree down to me…  “Be careful,” he said to me, “looks like they’ve eaten this…”  Hubby then handed me a couple of our Christmas stockings, which also had decorations in them, but it looks like the mice had got to them too.

Everything was either chewed, or had droppings on.  The tree bag was slightly damp, and had fresh droppings on it.  It made me worried to open it in the house, so we carefully carried everything out to the driveway, where we keep our wheelie-bins.


Not actually our tree, but this is what we had to do 😦

Very little was salvageable.  Thankfully, I managed to save a few of my special decorations that I had been collecting over the years.  They needed a bloody good wash, but were still able to be used.  So this left us with a handful of baubles, and a single set of fairy lights.

So it was decided.  We had no choice but to buy a new tree and decorations, and we found them in our local Asda (otherwise known as Wal-mart).

As soon as we got home, we unpacked everything and started to decorate.  Gning and Donut helped the hubby with the new baubles, and they had a great time in doing so.

Granted, our new 5ft tree wasn’t the 7ft tree we were used to, but it is still lovely all the same.  I love it!  It’s super cute, and fits in to the corner nicely.


We’ve still got a few things that we need to buy, but at least we have our tree up!

As for the mice, well, I’m afraid there’s not going to be any good news for them.

Normally I’m tolerant of mice.  I like them.  They’re so small, and they need to live freely, but I have a different rule when they’re in the house.  And they are.  They’re living comfortably, up in my attic, and I don’t want to take the chance of them coming down, actually in to the house.  I’m currently pricing up traps…  Not the old ones, that snap and kill (I couldn’t cope with that), but one of the box things…

Sorry Mickey, Minnie, Mighty and Jerry – you’re about to be evicted.

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A four-year old photographer…

I’ve just been sorting out my external hard-drive, and I’ve come across this selection of photo’s.  All of which were taken by Gning when he was just 4 years old…  Looking at these, I can honestly say that some of these shots could have been taken by a professional photographer, with decades of experience!  None have been edited in any way.

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So in my opinion…  Give your 4 year old a camera.  Some of the shots can be amazing ❤