Beyond the Starline – Book Review


Beyond the Starline: Book One in the Dark Sea Trilogy: Volume 1

The author, Austin Hackney, contacted me to see if I fancied reviewing his book. This was great because right at the start of my blog and pinned to my twitter page I actually advertise the fact that I like to review books and others things that interest me. For me, this means that I can enjoy new experiences which wouldn’t normally come my way. In this case, it was to be able to read a book with my eldest son, M (who’s 10) and complete the review together. Pretty cool!

Well, that was the plan…..


book review

When her mother is murdered by pirates, Harriet Howland is thrust into a dangerous quest to find her missing father. A fast-paced steampunk adventure for everyone from 9 years old and up.

Who could resist? But wait….first question I had was, what is steampunk??? OK well for those of you who don’t know, which is exactly the position I was in: Steampunk is, and bear with me as this is my interpretation.. ‘a fusion of victorian style influences with high-tech cutting edge super technology’. The vision that jumped to mind (and my mummy and daddy followers will recognise this reference) is the hybrid, freaky toys that were patched together in Toy Story, the doll’s head on the metal spider legs…get my drift? You could have a look at the wiki answer but quite frankly I was even more baffled by that!  The review for the book steered off in a different direction. I found myself following a route into steampunk and looking at books in that genre to get more of a handle of the style and type of writing that was being featured. I was really interested in this and lost quite a few hours this way, looking at Austin and other authors works.

I also watched a few of Austin Hackneys youtube videos. I wanted to have an understanding of the man behind the book. I found that he’s a great visual storyteller. One of those people who look like an actor telling a story and really lives the words. It reminded me of Jackanory which I watched as a child. Try and have a look at at least one of his videos and you will see what I mean.

While I was doing this M was getting on and reading the book. We agreed on him reading 30 pages a day when he got home from school. Now, different children read in different ways and have varied attention spans. I’m finding that M’s generation are hardly reading a book. More and more time is spent on the various devices they have access to. Whether that be X-Box, PS3, Kindle, Ipads or a selection of all of them and more. We have got into a rutt in our house of allowing just the bare minimum of ‘proper’ reading time. By this I mean – M can read, he has one book on the go for school and he gets on with it. He’s 10 and gets good feedback from school, I’ve been thinking this was sufficient. Of course, it’s not!

So, this was an opportunity for us as a family to have a bit of a shake up….we needed it! Thank you Austin!

M took on the role of reading the book and I carried out the research and then dipped into the book at various stages. It worked well…. proud mummy moment, we were working together!

So, the story…without giving any spoilers. Our heroine is Harriet who’s life is upturned in an instant. Starting out in the steamy smog filled city of Lundoon . She is thrown into a world that has all the fantastical characters you would hope for. They leap before you with image inspiring names such as; Professor Poliakoff, Sibelius the sky monkey and Captain Hardcastle.

I think that this book is an escape into fantasy, which for adults who have to try and act semi sensible most of the time, is thoroughly enjoyable. It picks you up and carries you away, side by side with the adventurers.

For M one of the most exciting moments was when the squid storm was introduced into the story. He said, “It made me feel like I was there in the dangerous mission to keep the special object safe”. He said that he would recommend it for people his age and above. He smiled and became enthusiastic when he was recounting the reading he carried out on a particular day. To see him take to a book in this way was a huge plus for me.

Key myrealfairy facts – Beyond the Starline

  • The author is Austin Hackney
  • Twitter name @AGHackney chat to him, he’s a friendly sort.
  • This book is the first book in the Dark Sea Trilogy
  • You can purchase it in kindle edition or paperback and you can buy it here.

I’d love to hear what you think about this genre of book. I am also super delighted to have the author, Austin Hackney popping onto this post and giving his feedback to some of the comments aswell – so keep an eye out!



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Easy Upholstery….the myrealfairy way….

I’ve been off this week, needed to step off the conveyor belt for a few days to relax and hear myself think. I wrote a list of ‘relaxing jobs to do’

Instead of the normal bits and bobs I normally fill my time up with which usually all focus on running around and not taking it easy. I decided to get round to a job I’ve had waiting for ages… recovering our footstool. I brought it second-hand over a year ago thinking it would be a good little project one day.

I have been looking for material to cover it and went to a fabric store near where I live and nothing really caught my eye apart from a piece that was £25 a meter, well that was way too much so I had a mooch around the charity shops looking for curtains which I could cut up and use but didn’t come up with anything. So, I finally went onto Freecycle where I responded to an ad and met this lovely woman who was giving away loads of upholstery material. I went round to hers and was invited to take my pick. There were so many and all looked really good quality. I also took some up to the boys school for the textile department as she wanted as much to go to those who needed it as possible. So it was a good way to recycle and upcycle the off cuts.

I will say now that I had no idea of how to re-upholster the footstool. I’ve always imagined myself doing these creative things but normally don’t manage them because I haven’t actually got the skill, tools or time to do it! We have had a go at the Bee House and are now waiting to see what happens there.

This time was different though, I had the time, probably still lacking the skill to be fair but I had the ultimate show stopper…..the Staple Gun. Oh my days this is a fabulously lethal piece of kit and something I would only attempt using while the boys were at school.

Here’s my picture guide to how I completed it…



Before, underneath.

Getting started with the staple gun!

Its starting to come together!
Stretch the fabric over and pop staples in along the base, keep repeating.

Nearly there…

The corners were tricky but finally managed them.
Pleat and fold the corners over and imagine you’re wrapping a gift. As long as all the sides match I don’t think it matters too much what sort of pattern it makes

Whey hey…Finished!
This was such a fun project to work on, it didn’t take too long and it was relaxing, what’s not to love about that?  This wasn’t exactly fairy inspired but it sure has inspired me to take more time out to take on some more fun crafts. I hope you enjoyed it.

Is it project season where you are? I’d love to hear what ideas you have.
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Tales of a Newbie Blogger #2 – the logo trials…

The reaction to my first piece in the Tales of a Newbie Blogger series was met with such a warm response that it really spurred me on, so thank you for those who read and commented on it.

Looking back on that post as I sit here thinking about this journey, I realise that I didn’t give a little insight into me…common enough to those close to me, I’ll shout and preen about what the kids have done or what we have done as a family but give away what I’m actually thinking is a hurdle that I crash into rather than glide over.

At the start of 2016 a few things happened where I knew that I would like to make some subtle changes. Nothing major as I’m more than happy with my lot, I’ve got the most amazing partner in crime, 2 boisterous boys, full-time job and great gaggle of friends and family. Sure, its not rosy all the time and frequently I’m muttering to myself about wanting ‘alone time’, but when it boils down to it I’m bloomin chuffed with my lot.

The subtle change would come in the form of what would commonly be known in my house as, predictably… The Blog.

When I first had the idea that I wanted to blog, I thought the it would have a very clear theme which was for it to have  fairy and folklore traits…hence the name – myrealfairy. For quite a few years I’ve had an interest in starting a business with a fairy inspired background, whether that be gifts, games or fairy readings (tarot readings with a twist). As time has moved on and technology has romped forward it’s all become more possible.

I had lots of evenings and fun trying out different logos and colour formats, while dipping into the techi bit of starting up the blog. A week and the rest went by like this, as playing around with fonts and pictures was far more inviting than trying to come to grips with some of the new language which was swirling around this brave new world I was looking into.

Immediately that I started looking at free logo creators and the like, I started having emails from all and sundry dropping into my inbox offering all sorts of help with logo creation. It was not too disrupting but jeez, how does this work, they all found out so quickly! Like with life in general, free isn’t all that it seems and even though I’m a newbie blogger, I’m certainly not green.

Alot of playing around on one of the free logo sites and came up with this:


It’s hard to believe that something so simple took so many hours to create. I think I overdid the time I spent on it and eventually just hit save and publish.

I love it and how it looks on the site, eek ‘my’ site. That done, so many more areas to look into and tweak.

I’m going to take it slow and steady as I had a bit of a sprint out of the starting block. There’s a lot in my life and a lot of people to love. There’s ample space for ‘the blog’ but it has to learn to nestle in with the rest.

I also made the firm decision not to worry about it being a business model, just a fun one! That has been one of the biggest reliefs.

I’d love to hear your comments and experiences with your journey.

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Bee House….is it a good idea with kids?!!!

I’m starting to have second thoughts about this already. I hope to talk myself back into it by writing this post. Let me explain a little further…

If you read one of my last weeks posts Spring Garden Makeover – our way! then you would know that we are in the throes of planning our garden spruce up.  Having two small football playing mud slingers as our opposition just adds to the fun.

I’m also wanting to make some real lifestyle changes for both of us grown ups. So much time is taken up by our jobs and the external demands on us that we both need to kick back, enjoy our time off more and make the most of what we have. The kids will benefit from this so much. We are making a good start….

So, the other evening…. the other half trots off to get the essentials in town and against his normal traits he comes back laden down, whoop whoop. What is the jewel in the crown is a ‘bee and insect house’! I’d never even seen one before.

We all love our outside space and having a fairy garden with little nooks and crannies around for creatures to make their own is a wish of mine and the other half.

Since he brought the bee house, I’ve been frantically looking up if bees will be a danger to the kids and will suddenly besiege us while we sit soaking up the rays of sun that our british summer time chooses to give us.

The general consensus is no. The best advice is to place the bee house out of the main part of the garden where it’s quiet. Place it where it’s not likely to get disturbed. Really important for us – start to educate our boys on what could happen if you poke the bee house with a large stick! Bees only sting if they feel under threat, not for fun.

Bees are in danger of disappearing from our country and are in need of a little TLC, this is our way of seeing if we can help them out and involve the boys in something a bit different.

Also, who knows what will choose to take up residence there, we could be in for a total surprise. We might have a ladybird nest….wow! I digress…..

So, under limited input from myself (I hid), the other half took his life in his own hands and found a remote spot up the bank and placed it high enough up a large tree not to be touched. It’s safe and secure, out of reach and open for business. Let see what the summer brings. Lets hope its not antihistamine!

I’m pretty happy now with the decision but I’ll wait and see. Have you tried to introduce animals into your garden or your environment that you hadn’t previously thought about?





Blue Moon….

Once in a blue moon…an expression that we have generally all come across at some point. Does, “I only go out for dinner or the cinema once in a blue moon now that I have children“, sound familiar?? Well, have you ever wondered where the expression comes from…..



The definition that we commonly go with in my generation is that an actual blue moon is the second full moon in a month. This was coined after a bit of a mix up back in 1946, when an article entitled “Once in a Blue Moon” appeared in Sky & Telescope written James Hugh Pruett (1886-1955), who was an amateur astronomer living in Eugene, Oregon USA. He had attributed it to the second full moon in a month. Originally it had been associated to the more complicated formular of the fourth full moon of a farming season. Some saw his version of the second full moon as a mistake but it has stuck as the more common version.

The name blue moon has been subject now of songs, poems and also used in every day language. When it’s used it stands for ‘never’ or ‘rarely’. I take all new parents back to the quote in the first paragraph!

Is the moon actually blue?…No. When there has been recorded sightings of the moon having a blue tinge it’s been when there has been volcanic ash which has risen and caused this slight effect.

It seems to transcend the years and still maintains a modernity that is as rare as a, dare I say it…….a blue moon!

There are many other names for full moons, which ones do you know?

Or, do you have your own tales of when you’ve used the term ‘once in a blue moon’?



Spring garden makeover – our way!

Spring is here and our garden needs a bit of fairy dust sprinkled over it to resurrect it from the murky depths it’s currently in.

It needs to heal after months of being ran into the ground by the boys and their football over the splodgy winter period. My plan of having a lawn to rival that of a pitch perfect bowling green is about as realistic as having tea towels without any stains on them….not going to happen around here.

I like to dream though, I love to see all the amazing ideas in the glossy magazines of perfect peonies, dainty dahlias and ruby roses blooming around the edge of the afore mentioned lawn.  Pinterest is perfect for sitting in the evening and clicking through all the whacky ideas for the garden. As quick as I can tap it in, it’s jumping up before my eyes.

As I sat there today with my other half, with the sun shining down, I looked beneath me to the packed, hard, dark earth. It is devoid of a single blade in the centre and has a dark brown stain running up the middle of what should be the lawn. Whatever analogies you could form would be pretty much on the money…it’s not a nice sight! A few battle weary blades linger at the edges bowed in prayer, waiting for monday morning to come and the school bell ring so they have some peace.

With the sight of the skid marked lawn firmly in mind I am determined about setting a few goals in a bid to get somewhere nearer the dream. So, here goes…..

My spring action plan is as follows:

  • Dig over the lawn
  • Re-seed big brown stain
  • Wait 2 weeks – even with the super quick growing lawn, I’ll need all of that
  • Find indoor summer games for 2 lively boys-(gulp!)
  • Ask the boys to be careful not to tread on the lawn……

Wait a minute…Ask the boys to do what!!?

Oh goodness, well let’s just re-think a mo……I can’t set myself up to fail, they do look so happy playing……..ok, how about….

My new spring action plan is as follows:

  • Help tie the shoe laces of the football boots too many times a day to remember
  • Be the look-out while they covertly nip into next doors garden to retrieve the ball
  • Be ref, goalie and supporter – as needed or dictated by ‘the team’
  • Enjoy every week that I can watch them laugh and play
  • Ask the boys to stay on what was meant to be the ‘lawn’ and enjoy the fresh air

That is the feel good, no stress sort of plan that’s going to help the second half of this year run that bit smoother.