Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Gerbil photos - December 17th 2014

Bilbo and Baggins:



Bilbo playing with one of the gerbils' wooden toys:

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Degu photos - December 16th 2014

A couple of sleepy degus:

I'm not sure which of the degus is in the above photos; they're really difficult to tell apart when you can't see their noses, and I don't remember who it was. But I know this one is Jasper:

Monday, December 15, 2014

Skye and Star (LBE)

Here are some photos of my ratty girls... At last!

This one is Skye:

And this one is Star:

Me holding Star:

When we got the rats we got them a soft rat hammock we'd found in the pet shop...

They didn't like it; wouldn't go near it except when Star bit through the ropes atatching it to the cage.

We also got them this rat house, since Skye was trying to make herself a place to hide. Plastic houses aren't usually a good plan, but it was the one that most closely resembled the shape of the hiding place Skye was working on.

Besides, they hadn't made any attempts at chewing the plastic wheel that came with their cage... They seem to think it's a seat or extra hiding place...

And we had gotten them some rat toys they could chew on...

But they chewed a hole in the side of the plastic house - which we weren't all that shocked about - and since it was plastic we figured we shouldn't just let them carry on with it; plastic is bad for the digestion, after all. So we got them this wooden one instead:

And when Star chewed through the ropes of the shop brought hammock, I made one like the degus have. Both the girls were much more interested in the hammock I made with the wash cloth and keyring rings, and were quick to check it out...

And didn't take all that long to decide it was safe to sleep in...

They've even slept in it together, but we didn't manage to get a photo of that yet.

The rats have found a great way to keep warm in the very cold weather we've been having... Use hay to build a barrier in front of the door to their bed...

Wish it was that easy for the rest of us to keep warm in this bitterly cold December we're having!

Anyway... That's all the ratty photos I have for now.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Random ramblings - December 12th 2014

Mostly my birthday greetings this year were just done via Facebook or phonecalls. I did get a couple of actual cards though... Here they are:

(I'm posting them pretty much a month late, but never mind).

They're from Rita, my Nan, my Dad and his girlfriend, and my Grandma. I'm pretty sure Karma the cat and Jayde the Yorkshire Terrier were included on Rita's and Grandma's cards too.


I did a quiz that was going around on Facebook recently for what fantasy world you belong in, and it said I belong in Narnia.

I REALLY want to go there, so that's awesome!


Despite the extra books I read during October when I was reading the short books I have as PDFs on my computer while waiting to get a new Kindle, I'm a few books behind on my Goodreads reading goal for the year.

This is partly due to not reading much during the first half of November (partially because of trying to get to grips with how the new kindle works, but not entirely) and also because I picked some longer books to read since I was ahead of my goal, and the extra time needed to read them has made me fall behind a bit.

I should be able to still make my goal, but it's going to be very close.


The weather's been pretty cold lately. It was 1 degree C (34F) this morning, for example.

We've had some awesome storms too.

No snow though!

It seems like almost everyone else is getting snow, but not me.

I want snow!


My tooth is killing me!

I just woke up this morning - well, at about 1:30am - with a toothache that got worse as proper morning approached. But the dentist can't see me until Wednesday morning.

A combination of chamomile tea and painkillers is taking the edge off the pain. But it still hurts a lot!

On that note... I think it's time for more pain relief treatment...

Monday, December 08, 2014

Rita Lee Chapman

Rita Lee Chapman was born in the UK and migrated to Australia in her early twenties. It was only when she retired that she wrote her first novel Missing in Egypt a romantic travel mystery. Her second book Winston - a Horse's Tale is for horse lovers from teenagers upwards. Told by Winston himself it relates his life experiences in Australia, as well as those of other horses he meets along the way. Her latest book, Dangerous Associations is her first foray in to crime mystery. When she is not writing or reading Rita enjoys playing tennis, swimming, walking, travel and the theatre.



Missing in Egypt
"Missing in Egypt will intrigue you with its twists and turns, romance and adventure as well as its insights into Australian and Egyptian cultures. Australian Anna Davies travels to Egypt with her lover to help him search for his brother, who disappeared whilst on holiday. The Valley of the Kings, Abu Simbel and the Temple of Karnak are amongst the settings for their search. Will they be able to track him down and find him alive - or is Ramy already dead? What tragedies await Anna and Kareem as they come closer to retracing his footsteps? This fast-paced action plot will keep you guessing until the end."


My opinion:
"All the details about Anna's job at the start of the book meant it took a while to get in to the story, but once the story picked up a bit the book was a pretty good read."


Winston – A Horse’s Tale
"One for horse lovers! Winston is a good-looking palomino horse whose life involves several different owners and many adventures. As you read his story, told by Winston himself, you will appreciate horse ownership from the horse’s point of view. Born on a country property in Australia, Winston tells of his breaking-in and education and the different people he encounters – good, bad and ignorant. As well as his own story, Winston includes the experiences of other horses he meets along life’s way."


My opinion:
"A beautiful and moving story."


Dangerous Associations
"An ex-husband, a new love, a stalker. Cathy Thompson’s link to her ex-husband fills her life with threats and intimidation. She must either trap her stalker or find Geoffrey to put an end to her life of fear."


I haven't read this one yet, but have a copy and plan to read it before the year is out.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Slip and Grip blog blast

slip banner
This is my stop during the book blitz for Slip (Slip #1) and Grip (Slip #2) by David Estes. This book blitz is organized by Lola's Blog Tours. The book blitz runs from 1 till 5 December, you can view the complete blitz schedule on the website of Lola’s Blog Tours.

Slip coverSlip (Slip #1)

By David Estes

Genre: Dystopia

Age category: Young Adult

Release Date: 1 December, 2014


Someone must die before another can be born...

As sea levels rise and livable landmasses shrink, the Reorganized United States of America has instituted population control measures to ensure there are sufficient resources and food to sustain the growing population. Birth authorization must be paid for and obtained prior to having a child. Someone must die before another can be born, keeping the country in a population neutral position at what experts consider to be the optimal population. The new laws are enforced by a ruthless government organization known as Pop Con, responsible for terminating any children resulting from unauthorized births, and any illegals who manage to survive past their second birthday, at which point they are designated a national security threat and given the name Slip.

But what if one child slipped through the cracks? What if someone knew all the loopholes and how to exploit them? Would it change anything? Would the delicate resource balance be thrown into a tailspin, threatening the lives of everyone?

And how far would the government go to find and terminate the Slip?

In a gripping story of a family torn apart by a single choice, Slip is a reminder of the sanctity of a single life and the value of the lives we so often take for granted.

You can find Slip on Goodreads

You can buy Slip here:

- Amazon

Grip coverGrip (Slip #2)

By David Estes

Genre: Dystopia

Age category: Young Adult

Release Date: 1 December, 2014


In a tumultuous world of population control, one illegal child has slipped through the cracks. Now, as a teenager, Benson Kelly has escaped certain deaths at the hands of the Department of Population Control, only to find himself the symbol of a rebellion, something he never intended.

While trying to survive one day at a time, Benson seeks to unravel the tangled knot of secrets left behind when his father died, the key to which has something to do with his mother, Janice Kelly, recently escaped from the insane asylum.

As the rebel group known as the Lifers continue to use brute force to send a message to the government, Benson's twin, Harrison Kelly, seeks to exploit a loophole that could be the key to freedom for his brother. All that's required is a simple act of murder.

Meanwhile, Population Control's attack dog, a sadistic cyborg known as The Destroyer, closes in on Benson and his family. His directive: Kill them all.

Faith, family and love will be pushed to the limits in the GRIPping sequel to Slip.

You can find Grip on Goodreads

You can buy Grip here:

- Amazon

Author Photo - David EstesAbout the Author:

Author of popular YA dystopian series, the Dwellers Saga and the Country Saga. Voted books to read if you enjoyed the Hunger Games on Buzzfeed and Listopia.

Join 2,400+ David Estes Fans and YA Book Lovers Unite in David Estes' official fan group at:

David Estes was born in El Paso, Texas but moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania when he was very young. David grew up in Pittsburgh and then went to Penn State for college. Eventually he moved to Sydney, Australia where he met his wife. They now live together in their dream location, Hawaii. A reader all his life, he began writing novels for the children's and YA markets in 2010, and started writing full time in June 2012. Now he travels the world writing with his wife, Adele. David's a writer with OCD, a love of dancing and singing (but only when no one is looking or listening), a mad-skilled ping-pong player, and prefers writing at the swimming pool to writing at a table.

You can find and contact David here:

- Website

- Facebook

- Twitter

- Goodreads

There is a tour wide giveaway for the book blitz of Slip. These are the prizes you can win:

- Winners choice of book to the value of $15.00 U.S. from The Book Depository

- A signed copy of SLIP plus bonus swag- U.S. entrants only

- A signed copy of BREW plus bonus swag- U.S. entrants only

- 3 ebook packs with three David Estes ebooks of your choice

- 4 signed packs of bookmarks

You can enter the blitz wide giveaway here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Random rodent ramblings (FD)

Some amusing rodent antics, and other random rodent related thoughts.


We often hear squeaking coming from the rodent cages, since the degus are quite talkative, but when we heard some squeaking coming from over there recently, and Kelly went to look at who it was, he saw Baggins opening and closing his mouth, apparently squeaking. This was strange - and a little worrying - because gerbil squeaks are usually too high pitched for the human ear to detect; except some distress calls. However, closer inspection showed us we had nothing to be worried about. Turned out it was one of the degus squeaking, and Baggins was just opening and closing his mouth in time with the degu's squeaks.


During feeding time the other day, Bilbo came to see what was for breakfast before we had his bowl back in the ring that holds it in place on the side of their cage. On seeing the lack of bowl, he grabbed on to the ring with both paws and started shaking it. He kept it up - getting rougher and rougher with his shakes - until we were lowering the bowl in to place, then promptly climbed in to the bowl as if to stop us removing it again.


Rats and degus both make cute noises when grooming each other. The degus make a sound almost like a purr, and the rats make soft squeaking sounds. It's really cute to listen to.


The weather's been quite cold most of the time lately. Well, cold to the UK, which is just bearly chilly to many countries. But, anyway... We put blankets over the cages on cold nights to help keep the rodent gang warm. Luckily we use old blankets, because there are several holes in them; even the one for the rats, which has only been used a couple of times, already has a couple of small holes in it. Sometimes they seem to just make enough of a tear that they can see out, but a couple of times the degus have torn out pieces of blanket, and we've found them in their nesting box.


While watching the rats play the other day, Kelly saw Star reach up to the next level of their cage - where Skye was stretched out - to be pulled up by her sister instead of jumping or climbing up herself.


Skye's generally a very nervous little girl, who spends a lot of time hiding. But if she smells something cooking with cheese - like pizza, for example - her twitching nose will appear almost before you can say "melted cheese"... Star's nose appears even faster, but she's often out of hiding to be sociable and get attention, so you don't notice it as much, if you know what I mean.


When we put fresh sand in the degus' sand bath, they dive in to it like a child jumping in to a pile of leaves.


The gerbil cage is between the degus and the rats. The degus often like to go over and check out the gerbils. Now Star and the gerbils are trying to figure each other out too. Skye doesn't seem to have noticed her neighbours yet, but Star is very interested in what those little guys next door might be, and Bilbo and Baggins are curious about her too. I'm not sure how well the degus and rats can see each other, but we have also spotted degus looking over towards the rat cage, while Star stares back in their direction, even when the gerbils are asleep in their burrows, so they might also be checking each other out.


Star no longer attempts to eat our fingers, but instead grabs them and alternates between giving a gentle nibble and licking. I think she's trying to groom our fingers; she's very gentle when she does it.


Gave the rodent gang some short sticks of wood to chew on. Mostly they just settle down to chew on them, but Star held hers in her front paws while bouncing about from one ledge to another in her cage before she settled down to chew it.


One of the rat toys is a wooden toy with a bell in it. Skye mostly ignores it, but Star seems to like it; we often hear the soft jingle noise of the bell as she rolls it around in the cage.


When we got the degus their new cage in September, one of the things we got them for it was a rope and wood climbing toy. The toy has chains at the top, which we used to attach it to the roof of their cage. The degus have mostly pulled it apart, but they can't quite figure out how to remove the last piece of wood - which was once the top bar where the climbing net was attached - from the chains. One of them (Jenks, I think) is determined to do it though, and keeps trying. I could help him, but trying keeps him busy, and gives him something to puzzle out, so I'm leaving him to it.


One of the degus keeps pushing a toy under the wheel to stop it spinning when one of his brothers is running on it. I'm sure it's on purpose.


That's all for today. I should have some photos of the girls to show you soon. And a few new ones of the boys too.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Lonely Little Princess - Officially released

"All the mice of the castle were very happy, until Princess Hazel became sad. Nobody can figure out why she’s so sad; she has everything a mouse princess could ask for. But nothing seems to make her happy. That is, until an orphaned little field mouse named Ffern arrives. Now it looks like there may be a way to make everyone happy once again."

This is my new book, which is officially released today.

This book is a re-write of a story I wrote almost nine years ago, as a bed time story for a little girl who was seven years old at the time. I actually posted the original on this blog a couple of years ago. The published version has been re-worked a lot, and edited better, though you can still find and read the original among my old blog posts if you really want to.

Anyway, you can already buy "Lonely Little Princess" from Smashwords in all formats they offer, as well as from a few other ebook retailers.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Rat chat (FD)

Christmas is five weeks away, and everyone is at least starting to think about it, if they haven't already done more than that. Also, people's thoughts are turning to what they'd like for Christmas.

A few years back I mentioned on here about wanting a lion. I know it's not a realistic wish, but I like lions. I know I couldn't provide one with what it really needs, and a lion is a wild animal that belongs out in the wild and not in captivity. But knowing that doesn't stop me wanting a pet lion.

There is another pet I've wanted since I was a child that I only haven't had because first my Mam and then Kelly insisted there was no way I could have it though... Something other than a lion, I mean.

A rat.

Now, I know there will be people who wonder why I would want a pet rat, because rats have bad reputations. But rats are generally very clean and intelligent creatures, and their social nature makes them very friendly. These things combined make them fantastic pets.

I've wanted a pet rat since I was about nine or ten, and my brother, Carl, has wanted one for as long as I can remember. But neither of us could convince Mam to get us one.

I was having just as little luck with convincing Kelly... Until now!

A litter of female rats managed in like ten seconds to achieve what I've been trying to for more than ten years: convince Kelly that rats are cute.

The result was that two of them became early Christmas gifts for me.

They're of the variety of rats known as Brown Rats, though they're actually a colour called Berkshire Pearl, which is a silvery grey with white tummies. One of them also has a white marking on her forehead, which is called a blaze on a rat, but would be called a flame or star on a horse. It's that marking that helped us to name them...

The one with the marking on her forehead is called Star, and her sister is called Skye, which means cloud.

Neither have really attempted to bite, though both have checked the edibility of our fingers; Skye a bit more roughly than Star, though neither hard enough to draw blood. Star is more outgoing than Skye, and will already allow me to pick her up almost every time I try to (bearing in mind we've had them less than a week). Skye is much more nervous, but will allow me to pet her a little from time to time. Both of them will take food from us, though Skye is more hesitant about doing so than Star is.

They appear to have a fondness for cheese, pumpkin seeds, and dry pasta. Although, they haven't actually refused any food we've provided as yet, and aren't as picky as the degus and gerbils about which parts of their proper food they eat; the gerbils will pick through their gerbil mix, the degus will toss anything they don't want out of their cage, but the rats appear happy to eat everything that makes up their rat mix.

Don't worry, we aren't forgetting the degus and gerbils; if the girls get something, the boys do too... Though - in the degus' case especially - it's sometimes something different. Even down to the fact they got some new toys when I went back to the pet store with Kelly to get some toys and things for the rats.

The boys are curious about them, and often try to get to a spot in their own cages where they can see the girls. They - the degus especially - are also making a point of showing us that they're cute and like to be petted and hand fed too, which is both cute and amusing.

We've taken some photos, but haven't grabbed them off the camera yet. Hopefully soon!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Gerbil photos - November 15th 2014 (FD)

Time for some gerbil photos!

Here's Baggins by the gnawing block:

Bilbo's a bit camera shy sometimes, but Baggins is always ready for a photo, so waits impatiently in the background for an oppertunity to pop up in front of the camera...

Hi Baggins!

If you want to get a photo of Bilbo, your best bet is to bribe him with some nibbles. Cheese or pumpkin seeds work best, since they're his favourites.

Both of the gerbils like to meet up with the degus at the point where their cages are side by side. They have little rodent chats; it's really cute! They seem to be good friends... Perhaps they like to do it so much because both species are very sociable? Anyway, here's Baggins chatting to one of the degus:

Those are all the gerbil photos I have for you today.