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Friday 12 April 2024

Leave No Trace by Jo Callaghan


Dear friends. Today's spotlight falls on a police procedural with an intriguing angle. One of the officers is a creation of Artificial Intelligence, manifested as a hologram. But AIDE Lock is treated as simply one of the investigating team. Here is an outstanding thriller, with an exciting conclusion. 

It's my stop on the blog tour for Leave No Trace by Jo Callaghan. 


Wednesday 10 April 2024

Inspired by Beautiful Birds

 Join Is This Mutton for outfits inspired by the plumage of beautiful birds.

Dear friends.  I love taking part in outfit challenges as they get the creative juices flowing, and remind us of unloved clothes sitting in the wardrobe.

Today's challenge lasts for a month at the Kettlewell Colour Club on Facebook, and it's Birds of a Feather. Here are three outfits inspired by plumage. 


Monday 8 April 2024

The Divorcées by Rowan Beaird

Cover of the novel The  Divorcées by Rowan Beaird, under the review spotlight at Is This Mutton.

Dear friends. I'm thrilled to bring you an outstanding debut novel today. The Divorcées transports us to 1950s Reno at a time when divorce was uncommon. 

Today is my stop on the blog tour for the acclaimed The Divorcées by Rowan Beaird. 

Saturday 6 April 2024

The Results are In: Books Survey 2024


Dear friends. Many thanks for all the responses to the Is This Mutton 2024 survey about our reading habits. It was the best response the annual survey has ever had. It shows how universal books are, across every age group and demographic.

So what did we find out?


Friday 5 April 2024

Nowhere to Hide by Keri Beevis

 Cover shot of novel Nowhere to Hide by Keri Beevis. This portrayal of coercive control is reviewed by Is This Mutton.

Dear friends. Today's book spotlight is on Nowhere to Hide by Keri Beevis.  It packs a real punch. Today is my stop on the blog tour. 


Wednesday 3 April 2024

Life Lately: April {2024}

 And #WowOnWednesday

Dear friends.  Hope you all enjoyed Easter and Eid, if you celebrate either of those. In today's post I'm sharing an outfit I wore recently and giving a beauty update on a few skincare products I've been trying. Plus a couple of other buys. I've indicated with an * anything that was gifted. 

We went to a pop concert, 10CC, last week, and this is the outfit I wore. The purple coat was a pre-loved gift from Penny at Frugal Fashion Shopper;  the purple wool trousers were bought from Vinted and the 1980s bow blouse was bought pre-loved from Etsy. 

Is This Mutton blogger Gail Hanlon in purple with green accessories at the Royal Albert Hall, London

To liven up the purple I added my new kelly green bag from Pom Pom London.  My sparkly dance shoes from Supadance always get a few compliments, this time from a gentleman on the platform at Walthamstow station!  I'm also wearing a fresh green short tie wrap from Kettlewell, seen in the photo towards the end of the post. 

The pictures were taken in and around the Royal Albert Hall in London.  We had dinner first in one of their restaurants, Coda by Eric Chavot.  I've written a 10cc review

On my recent visit to Devon I bought a pair of new trainers.  I was looking, ever impractical, for cream and gold.  I found these at Schuh. They're Schuh's own brand, Victoria.  There is some suede going on, so I dread washing them. However I get great results when I machine wash my leather Stan Smith's. 

I have quite a few Austrian crystal necklaces in lovely colours, and now I've started on bracelets! These two beauties came from my regular port of call, Lynn's Gem Creations on Etsy. They are not as pricey as the necklaces so a good place to start. 


A few weeks ago in January I wrote about how I'd bought some products from renowned skin doctor Dr Sister, and said I'd give a longer review after using them for 90 days.

90 days is the minimum time to see results (or not) from new skincare. 

You may recall, it was a chance encounter with Dr Sister's long video that got me interested.  I've been taking the Inner Beauty tablets, one before bedtime, and using the Lash Saviour eyelash revitaliser, Younger You face cream (the name. I know!) and Crepe Rewind cream. 

I was hoping that this arsenal of goodness would destroy the large brown spots I have on my cheeks. To be fair, the more recent pigmentation patches are a lot less noticeable now.  But the largest, which I've had for several years now, is unchanged.  I'd also been using Clinique's Even Better dark spot corrector.

I find my skin is genuinely a bit brighter and more even toned since I started the skin regime. But there isn't enough slip, for me, in the day cream. I've been using it only at night. 

As for the Lash Saviour, I've been using it for about 6 weeks and haven't seen a difference yet, but that was the same for Revitalash and then it kicked in and my lashes became quite long. 


This product really works if you have crepey skin says Is This Mutton, talking about Dr Sister Crepe Rewind which she bought herself

The stand out product from Dr Sister, and it is ABSOLUTELY GENIUS, is the Crepe Rewind cream. If you have crepey puckered skin on your arms, it totally banishes it, although you need to keep using it. I will definitely stay faithful to it.  I find it's good for tightening the neck too. Normal body lotions or creams have no impact on crepey skin, and I've tried dozens.  So thank you Dr Sister.

Find Dr Sister here.  None of these products were gifted.  

ADDENDUM: Since I wrote this a few of you have told me that Crepe Rewind is no longer on the site. I've been told it is currently out of stock. Stay tooned. 


Meanwhile I've been using an old favourite, RoC, for a few weeks as my day cream. I was gifted with the Retinol Correxion serum and Line Smoothing Max Hydration cream.  I didn't like the smell of the serum - a medical sort of smell - so I didn't use it for long. But I love the cream, which has, I read,  Jennifer Aniston as an admirer.  

Retinol is the gold standard for mature skin but you have find the right formulation. There are different kinds of retinol too.  The RoC cream has the desired slip, which means it goes on smoothly and generously, giving a noticeable burst of emollience. It sits nicely under make-up with no pilling.  

RoC Retinol Correxion serum and face cream as tried by Is This Mutton blogger Gail Hanlon who reviews it here


Wearing the new Lisa Eldridge Seamless Skin Enhancing Tint: over 60s blogger Gail Hanlon

Above:  I was first in the queue to buy the new Lisa Eldridge Seamless Skin Enhancing Tint. This is a very light but somehow still gives good coverage of imperfections, and doesn't settle in wrinkles like many foundations and tints are wont to do. 

I already have her foundation so I knew my shade was 7.  It's quite a small bottle but I'm pleased about that because I can take it on my 3 week cycling holiday where we have to keep packing to a minimum.  I'm also wearing a Lisa Eldridge lipstick in shade Dancecard, a lovely neutral toned nude pink. 

Lisa Eldridge Seamless Skin Enhancing Tint which gives good coverage despite being very light

You can buy Lisa Eldridge at her website or in the UK from Selfridges and Space NK. She has some very good videos on YouTube where she occasionally features older models and the odd celebrity.

That's it for today's update.  I'm back on Friday with a book spotlight. 

Do you look for skincare with retinol? Do you prefer a lighter bronzer or fake tan in the summer, rather than foundation? Do let us know in the comments.  Scroll down past the link-up for the comments box. 

Sharing my post with these fantastic sites


WowOnWednesday is one of the bigger link-ups. Readers can find new blogs to enjoy and bloggers can find new readers. It's a win-win all round, provided you visit posts that appeal to you,  and share the love by leaving a comment or two. 


The fashion favourite was Suzy Turner with her outfit inspired by Girl on Fire by Alicia Keyes

The lifestyle favourite was Chez Mireille with her post How to Pack for a 3 Day Trip in a Back Pack

Food Favourite:  Chocolate Easter bunny Espresso Martini from Nicolle at Our Tiny Nest

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Saturday 30 March 2024

March: Rain Doesn’t Stop Play


Is This Mutton blogger Gail Hanlon on a walk in Epping Forest

Dear friends. March is supposed to arrive like a lion and depart like a lamb. Unfortunately it has remained lionine. But I didn't let rain ruin the month. Highlights include a trip to Plymouth,  John Singer Sargent art exhibition,  a ballet and a retro 70s pop concert.


Friday 29 March 2024

Kookaburras, Cuppas & Kangaroos by S. Bavey

 A charming travelogue by S Bavey about her late mother's 3 year adventure in Australia in the early 1960s as a £10 Pom

Dear friends.  Today I'm pleased to share the adventures of a Yorkshire Lass down under.  Elizabeth Isle left 1960s England for Australia for the adventure of a lifetime.  She was part of a cohort known as the "£10 Poms" who were encouraged to emigrate by the Australian government. 

This charming memoir is written by Elizabeth Isle's daughter Sue Bavey.  Today is my stop on the blog tour for Kookaburras, Cuppas and Kangaroos.

Publisher's Description

Fueled by her spirit for adventure and with her £10.00 ticket in hand, Elizabeth Isle leaves 1960s England, determined to see it all, not just Australia and New Zealand, but as much as she can on the way, too. She surrenders her passport to the Australian government and must find work to support herself on the other side of the world from her family and friends. There can be no going back for two years. Join this intrepid young woman on the adventure of her lifetime. Share her amazing experiences, discover what exotic animals await, get travel tips and meet her new friends through her letters home and over plenty of cups of tea. Beware - the travel bug might prove infectious!

My Thoughts

Sue Bavey had a lot of material to work with: her late mother wrote a travel journal and also sent airmail letters. 

Elizabeth boarded the P&O ship SS Orcades on 6 February 1960, bound for Fremantle, Western Australia. 

Three weeks later, Elizabeth was met by her mum's friend, "Auntie" Elsie Fawcett and her husband and son. They had also emigrated from England and had been farmers in the wheat and sheep belt. Now retired, it was agreed that Elizabeth would stay with Elsie (and budgerigar Joey) for six months while her husband went to India. She would have use of his car. 

Elizabeth was thrilled to find a toy koala on the bed and roses and scent on the dressing table.

For the next three years Elizabeth's life is a whirl of holidays, travel and work. Her jobs included being a secretary, waitress and house maid.  She makes many friends and after six month becomes "an independent Pom," living in boarding houses with other girls. 

A two week camping holiday saw Elizabeth and her friend trying to put up a tent so badly that they were invited to stay in the house instead. 

Holiday adventures included prawning and a very long trip around Tasmania. Her modes of transport included boats, buses, trains and hitch hiking. Coral "hats" were tried on during a trip to the Great Barrier Reef.  A holiday in New Zealand saw Elizabeth travelling again on the SS Orcades.

After a swim in a dam, Elizabeth was horrified to find her clothes and towel had been eaten by ants while she was swimming. 

She was bemused by the Aussie men carrying bags like the old-fashioned doctor's black bag, rather than briefcases. She also noted that the lorry and bus drivers all had a steel hand stuck out on a pole in order to indicate direction.  "They drive like madmen here."

A Christmas was spent in Brisbane. "It seemed very strange to me to have Christmas in the middle of the summer heat - 101 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade - and also to have to get up at 4am on Christmas Day to see Cora and my uncle and exchange presents before they went off to milk their cows."

She was intrigued by all the wildlife and highlights included seeing an endangered marsupial called quokkas on Rat's Nest Island, and blue soldier crabs on a trip to Bribie island. "Look at them marching along like a little army, pincers at the ready!" she remarked. 

Her ticket home cost £150 and she made the most of the trip, including stops at Tahiti and Florida, USA, and going through the Panama Canal. 

Arriving home in July 1963 Elizabeth was thrilled to see her family. "What a sight for sore eyes they were. I felt deliriously happy and a little overwhelmed after being away for so long."

A very charming travelogue taking us back 60 years. The book will be enjoyed by all expats and Aussies, plus those whose families were also "£10 Poms."

Purchase Link - https://mybook.to/KookaburrasCuppasRoos

About the Author 

Sue Bavey (writing as S. Bavey) is a British mother of two teenagers, now living in Franklin, Massachusetts, having moved to the US in 2003. 

Writing as S. Bavey, she won a gold award from Readers’ Favorite for her grandfather’s biography: Lucky Jack (1894 – 2000), which she wrote during COVID lockdown. She also has a number of non-fiction stories published in various anthologies.

A free prequel to Kookaburras, Cuppas & Kangaroos”, called “A Yorkshire Lass: The Early Years” is available for free download from www.suebavey.com. 

Thanks to Rachel's Random Things and the author for the advance eARC in return for an honest review. 

Social Media Links 






March Book Reviews 

Favourite Books of All Time 


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Wednesday 27 March 2024

Date Night Look with Cotton Traders

 Is This Mutton's recipe for a spring date night outfit: smart white trousers, light wool-look coat and killer accessories

Dear friends. As Easter approaches, and spring gets into its stride, I've created a good outfit for date night or for any of the seasonal festivities.

In my latest collaboration with Cotton Traders, I've found the perfect lightweight coat for spring and autumn, and a top quality pair of ivory trousers (pants) for all year round. 

I'm wearing the wool-look Unlined Coat in Pale Rose (also available in soft sage). It comes in sizes 8 - 24, although sizes 24 and 20 in the pink are currently sold out.  It's true to size, and it definitely looks like wool. It feels really soft. 

My trousers are Cotton Traders' Textured Jersey Trousers in ivory. They're also available in navy. They're in two lengths, 27 and 29 ins.  I'm wearing size 10, 29 ins  (I'm 5'4). They need a heel at this length, but I prefer trousers to puddle over shoes, rather than have ankle or shoe showing too much. I would recommend sizing down. The 10 was a little large on me around the waist. Unfortunately they don't come in a size below 10.

Is This Mutton wears white trousers, a rose pink coat and killer pink boots for a date night

Both pieces are very good quality. I like to have several coats in different colours and I keep them for years. 

The trousers are very versatile, being white.  They're an on-trend wider cut, and I can see myself coming back to them time and time again.

My husband prefers this kind of outfit for a date night to a dress or leather trousers. Like a lot of men he likes a natural look and this outfit is chic and clean, perfect for a restaurant or theatre.  The pink boots, top (Kettlewell) and necklace give it visual appeal. My bag, in stone, is from Pom Pom London. 

Spring as we're finding can be very cold for the first few weeks. An unlined coat is exactly the right weight for this type of weather. 

What's your formula for a "date night" outfit? Do share in the comments. Scroll down below the link-up to find the comments box.

Disclosure:  I was gifted with two items of my choice by Cotton Traders in return for an honest review. My editorial opinions are my own, and unedited by brands. 


WowOnWednesday is one of the bigger link-ups, and you should see a boost in your traffic from IsThisMutton, a blog with a high domain authority.

Readers can find new blogs to enjoy and bloggers can find new readers. It's a win-win all round, provided you all visit posts that appeal to you,  and share the love by leaving a comment or two. 


What did women wear in the 1930s? From Nicole at High Latitude Style. One of my favourite decades! 

Anna from @LookingFabFifty shared on Instagram her white dress bought in Amalfi in 2016  

Beauty Favourite:  Charlotte Tilbury Flawless Filter Review from Alison at Midlife and Beyond. 

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Tuesday 26 March 2024

10cc at the Royal Albert Hall

 Is This Mutton reviews a performance by 10cc at the Royal Albert Hall, London, in March 2024

Dear friends. It's a sobering thought that when 10cc had their first hit, in 1972,  I was 11. Many hits, and different band formations later, and I find myself in London's Royal Albert Hall, looking forward to hearing that amazing back catalogue.

We arrived early as we had a booking at one of the venue's restaurants,  Coda by Eric Chavot. A lovely way to start the evening.  As we made our way to the 3rd floor, we could hear "Cry" being performed by the group in a warm-up. It made me excited for the concert. 


Monday 25 March 2024

Ode to Iris

 #StyleNotAge Challenge 

In the latest Style Not Age Challenge Is This Mutton and four other style bloggers are creating their Ode to Iris, the late style icon Iris Apfel.

Dear friends.  The last Monday of the month means it's the Style Not Age challenge, and this time Anna from Anna's Island Style has challenged the collective to deliver an Ode to Iris.

Who else but Iris Apfel, the colourful businesswoman and celebrity who died recently aged 102. 


Saturday 23 March 2024

The March Garden

 A Year in the Garden, #sixonsaturday

Is This Mutton's back garden in March. There are buds everywhere and the bulbs are opening

Dear friends. Welcome to March in my "year of a garden."  By March the garden is officially waking up and buds are bursting forth.

The picture at the top was taken this week, shortly before we set off for a bike ride.  The daffodils and tulips are starting to come out.  I like to stagger both of them by planting varieties that flower at different times.  

I get very excited when I see the growth starting on favourite perennials like this phlox,  I will trim last year's dead wood down. 

I always order my spring bulbs from Peter Nyssen in August. It gives me something to look forward to. I used to have purple and yellow bulbs to go with the early flowering forsythia hedge.  It's the only time I have yellow in the garden. Bu the hedge is very old, it was there when we moved in (2005) and it's quite woody and doesn't flower much now. 

Outside the front door, where it's south facing, I have two pots of Negrita, a perfect purple tulip that's a true perennial.  I will replant them in the border for next year. 

The front rose bed is also host to a lot of hyacinths planted over the years.  They were particularly good this year. 

In the back garden, Apricot Delight is the first tulip to flower. 

I have some different varieties of daffodils in pots.  Monty Don introduced me to Narcissus Thalia, a very classy white.  

This is Narcissus Accent. 

And narcissus Early Flame. 

Finally the auriculas have good leaf growth. I bought a plant theatre a few years ago with the idea of growing several types of auricula.  However, I read they were very temperamental, and I was afraid it would become an obsession. 

Every year I sow nigella seeds (love in a mist) once they've flowered, and it's thrilling to see them now as healthy little plants.  I have lots of violets which have seeded themselves, somewhat too generously. I am forever pulling them up. 

I found these three at the local garden centre (bottom shelf) and they seem to flower reliably in their pots every year.  The plants above them are from last summer's pots. I can't remember what they are, and didn't know if they would survive the winter. 

As soon as it warms up a bit with a few continuous sunny days, I have a few jobs to do:  cleaning the shed and washing its window;  sweeping up;  the usual weeding;  dead heading. Not to mention cleaning and varnishing the garden furniture, which is hidden under the black cover. 

I'll be sharing this post with these fantastic sites, and also on X (formerly Twitter) today, #saturdaysix. Come over and join us. 


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Friday 22 March 2024

Turning the Pages in March


Dear friends. We're now officially in Spring. I'm going great guns with my reading challenge this year. My target is 100, and I've already read 42.  I'm 21 books ahead of schedule.

The books reviewed today, with one exception marked *,  were all provided by NetGalley and the book publishers as advance copies, in return for an honest review.


Thursday 21 March 2024

Tell Us About Family History


Dear friends. Another month, another Tell Us About challenge.  This time it's Family History, posed by Jill of Grownup Glamour. 

I will spare you my family tree. I go back quite a long way in history with both the maternal Lovis's and the paternal Tyler's, but they were a very ordinary bunch. No royalty, baronets or celebrities.  

I uploaded my DNA a few years ago, as soon as it became possible. DNA fascinates me. I'm always thrilled when long term cold cases are solved, thanks to evidence being carefully preserved. 


Wednesday 20 March 2024

Find the Best Dress for Your Shape

 Is This Mutton's guide to finding the best dress for your shape and style personality

Dear friends. The summer dress season is almost upon us. You'll already find a guide to finding the best trousers, and skirts, for your shape on Is This Mutton. Now it's how to find the right dress. 

We'll look at each shape first and then discuss patterns and lengths, followed by what we're seeing so far as the spring/summer trends.


Saturday 16 March 2024

A Good Enough Mother by Sheila Norton


Cover of A Good Enough Mother by Sheila Norton, reviewed by Is This Mutton

Dear friends. Today's book spotlight is about a single mother who's trying to do her best but feels under pressure from others. It's a very good contemporary read. It's my stop on the blog tour for A Good Enough Mother by Sheila Norton. 

Publisher's Description

Mia is telling me a story. It’s about a princess, who lives in a castle, on a street that bears a remarkable resemblance to ours. About a kind old lady who’s the queen. I’m distracted for a moment by her little hand softly slipping into mine. My daughter. My angel.

But then she says something that pulls me from my reverie. She says that the queen doesn’t treat the princess well. She punishes her and doesn’t let her eat anything. 

Helen, my neighbour, has been so good to me. And more importantly, she’s so good with the children. Surely this is just another story of Mia’s, just make believe.

Because if it’s not, maybe my dad was right all along: I was never good enough to be a mother, and I’ve let my precious children down in the worst way possible.

A heartbreaking and uplifting story about the choices a mother makes for the sake of her children, perfect for fans of Jodi Picoult, Emma Robinson and Kate Hewitt.

My Thoughts 

Jess is a young mother of two, struggling to make ends meet and find affordable childcare. She split from her brutal husband and is estranged from her father, so she really is on her own.

Jess lost her mum as a teenager and none of her friends is in the same situation, so she has no network of fellow mums. This leaves her vulnerable because she can't ask anyone for parenting advice. When Helen and Robert move in, middle aged parents of grown up children, she's thrilled when they take an interest in the children. They start collecting the children from school and nursery and then progress to  looking after them. 

But things turn a bit sinister. Jess feels her decisions are being questioned and undermined. They're buying vast amounts of toys. Meanwhile her daughter's sightings of "Daddy" in the vicinity -  even though Mia hardly knows him - cause more alarm, .

The situation seems very real. Jess comes across as a caring and determined mum trying to do her best while juggling 101 things. The children are adorable, particularly 4 year old Mia and her sayings.

Norton keeps the story going with just enough twists and turns to force us to carry on reading.

An excellent contemporary read.

About the Author

Sheila Norton lives in Chelmsford, Essex and part-time in Torquay, Devon. She is the author of 25 books so far, covering several different sub-genres of contemporary fiction. 

She is now being published by Boldwood Books, writing emotionally-charged family-based novels, the first of which, 'A Good Enough Mother', was published on 13 March 2024.

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Advance Readers' Acclaim

Loved this book!!!!!… Addictive. There was no way I was putting it down, I literally started reading the book around 10am and couldn't put it down until around 4am. Hahaha I'm so glad it was the weekend!!!!… I definitely recommend it!!!’ NetGalley reviewer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

‘A breathtaking novel about motherhood… I felt angst, tension, compassion, empathy, surprise and suspicion…. Do not miss this novel, especially if you enjoy reading about families and their realistic struggles and moments of joy…. Grabbed my heart… Phenomenally emotive.’ Goodreads reviewer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

‘A masterpiece story of a family finding their way… Hit all the feels for me and I was invested in the story from the beginning to the brilliant end. My emotions ran wild throughout this story and I would love to see this become a Netflix hit.’ NetGalley reviewer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

‘A remarkable tale depicting a family's journey through the complexities of emotional challenges. Norton's storytelling kept engrossed me from start to finish, leaving a lasting impact… Truly captivating.’ NetGalley reviewer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

‘A really great read. I really enjoyed this story… Beautifully written and a mother’s love for her children shines throughout the book as Jess struggles to make a home for them all and keep them safe.’ NetGalley reviewer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

‘I LOVED this book. I was so drawn in by the weird dynamics between Jess and the neighbours.’ Goodreads reviewer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thanks to Rachel Gilbey from Rachel's Random Things, the author, and publisher Boldwood Books for the advance digital copy in return for an honest review.


My Sister's Baby


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