Oct 10, 2015

Cake, Cookies & Cupcakes Weekend: Cupcake & Tea Earrings

Enter this giveaway for a chance to win two pairs of very cute earrings. Good luck!

I will contact the winner via e-mail. If I don't get a reply within 60 hours the prize will go to someone else. All of my giveaways are international, you can find the official rules here.

Giveaway: Flower Necklace/Bracelet

Enter this giveaway to win a beautiful piece of jewelry that can be worn as a necklace and a wrap bracelet, made by Zingara Creativa. Good luck!

I will contact the winner via e-mail. If I don't get a reply within 60 hours the prize will go to someone else. All of my giveaways are international, you can find the official rules here.

Book Review: Berlin Coffee Shop - Episode 3: Ariel's Crew by Gerlis Zillgens

Review by Suze

Sandra finds things for people. It's her job and she's good at it. Because of an outstanding job she's done for Tassilo he invites Sandra and her friends on his boat. Meanwhile she also has a new job to fulfill, she needs to find the perfect partner for someone who's so stunning that nobody ever sees what she's really like. Sandra has the perfect solution for this situation. 

Even though the boat trip is supposed to be something to enjoy Sandra's having a miserable time. Everyone is having fun, but she's really seasick. Because they all have someone to enjoy the trip with Sandra feels pretty lonely and she thinks she might have made a terrible mistake...

I love the slapstick sense of humor of the Berlin Coffee Shop stories. Every time I'm reading one I wonder what trouble Sandra will get into next. I really enjoy these funny novellas and often find myself laughing out loud while reading them. I love Sandra and her friends, they all have such fabulous characteristics. The stories are perfect if you want to relax and have a laugh.

Book Review: Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica

Amazon USA Amazon UK

Review by Suze

Heidi is a caring person and she's always helping people both personally and professionally. When Heidi sees a homeless girl with a baby at the train station she can't get her out of her mind. She tries to come closer and to gain her trust. Heidi's married to Chris and they have a daughter, Zoe, who is quite distant, moody and private. Heidi has always longed to have a large family, but due to a traumatic illness she wasn't able to have more children. She invites the girl, who says her name is Willow, into her home. Together they try to take care of baby Ruby who's got a fever and is ill because of the tough life on the streets. Chris isn't very happy with the arrival of Willow in his house. He doesn't trust her and tries to find out more about her. Who is she and what does she have to hide?

At first Heidi just wants to help Willow and Ruby. She has so much love in her heart and she wants to share it with more people than a husband who's always away and a daughter who clearly doesn't appreciate it and who has some serious issues of her own. Willow is grateful that someone is helping her, especially after everything she's been through. Her parents died in an accident when she was a young girl and soon she was separated from her baby sister who was adopted. Slowly Heidi's taking over the care of Ruby, but is that really such a good plan?

Pretty Baby is a book about a girl who's got an awful story to tell and a mother who desperately wants to have a bigger family, but who's unable to achieve that. Heidi's husband Chris is always away from home, he's traveling for work together with a stunning colleague and Heidi suspects he's having an affair. They aren't a happy family and I felt bad for all of them to be in a situation like that. I liked the different points of view, they made the story interesting and more dimensional. I kept wishing everything would be all right, but also knew more was about to come. I couldn't put this book down. It's such a gripping read. It kept me on the edge of my seat, but I also didn't want to continue reading because of some of the gruesome things that happened to Willow and because of Heidi's sad story and her grief. Sometimes it became quite overwhelming. 

After reading the ending I really wanted to read more, to know more about the main characters and the rest of their lives. It made me see how committed I felt to the story. Because a small and harmless baby plays such an important part in everything that happens this book is quite a moving read. Sadness and suspense are equally present and together they're making Pretty Baby a balanced story. It isn't like any other thriller and it's a story that will stay with me for a very long time...

Oct 9, 2015

Book Review: A Year of Marvellous Ways by Sarah Winman

Amazon USA Amazon UK

Review by Suze

Marvellous Ways is a special lady. She's eighty-nine years old and she's living by herself in a creek. She's lived and loved, but didn't get the chance to grow old with the person she wanted to be with the most. When Drake joins her after a traumatic ending of his stay in London she knows he needs a place to stay. He was a soldier in the Second World War and he's fulfilling a dying soldier's wish to deliver a letter. They weren't friends, but he still travels a long way to keep this promise. 

Marvellous Ways has plenty of stories to tell. She has an unusual background and is a remarkable woman. Drake needs a place to heal and he's happy with the old woman's company. He makes her remember and he helps her with little jobs here and there. Soon they aren't alone any longer, because finally people are coming back to the once deserted area. Marvellous Ways leads a simple and secluded life near her beloved sea. She lives with her joys and also with her grief. Drake has a mission to fulfill, but he also needs to find the truth about himself. They are perfect company for one another...

A Year of Marvellous Ways is such a beautiful and unusual story. It brought tears to my eyes many times. It's a book I want to frame, because it's a real work of art. It's a story to savor, to enjoy slowly and to love deeply. I loved the dreamlike quality of the words, the brilliant prose and the remarkable woman called Marvellous Ways. I couldn't get enough of this book, I wanted it to keep going, because the words are all meaningful and so skillfully written. I highly recommend this fantastic novel. It's such a special book, one I will always cherish. It's a story I want to reread over and over again, to get reacquainted with old friends and to discover something new as I'm very sure that will happen every time I will read this book. It's a story that moves, that makes you wonder and that will make you think, even long after you've finished reading that last sentence.  

Book Review: With No Regrets by Julie N. Ford

Amazon USA Amazon UK

Review by Suze

Finley is a recently divorced mother. She's in her early forties and her children are going their own way. She's a little bit lost which is why she's going to group therapy for divorced people. Her husband cheated on her many times and Finley has a lot of anger to get through. Fortunately she has good friends. Her best friend Cathyanne does everything she can to make Finley happy again, even if that means making her best friend a little bit angry every now and then. Finley has a wonderful neighbor, a country singer called Quinton, who always loves her company. Because of the group, her neighbor and her trainer Josh, who's a few years younger and very attractive, Finley isn't usually lonely. 

Since her husband has moved out Finley finally has the chance to discover who she is and what she likes. There was always quite a bit of money, but she didn't have a happy marriage. She still wonders sometimes if she shouldn't have fought harder to stay married. She's dating Josh, but she's not ready to fully commit. And then there's also Quinton, the man she's always really liked, but who's no relationship material. Finley is confused and she needs to figure things out before she has any chance at a happy future. Fortunately she has Cathyanne to talk to, but she hasn't seen her for quite some time. Will Finley be all right eventually even when something happens that will change things for her forever?

With No Regrets is a wonderful Southern story. I love the warm way Julie N. Ford writes her dialogues. It immediately made me feel comfortable with the book. I liked Finley very much and enjoyed to read about her personal growth. She has a lot of men issues, sometimes with funny results. The story is warm and romantic. There's a lot going on in Finley's life and everything's described vividly. I loved how well the story comes to life. I could picture Finley's house and garden very well for example and enjoyed reading about them. There are a few interesting twists and turns and also some awkward situations that made me want to rescue Finley. I liked the meaningful ending a lot too, it brought tears to my eyes. If you're looking for a great romantic read this is definitely a book I can recommend. 

Giveaway: Bag, Books, Chocolate, Tea & Bracelet

Enter this giveaway for a chance to win a bag filled with books, tea, chocolate and a leather bracelet. Good luck!

I will contact the winner via e-mail. If I don't get a reply within 60 hours the prize will go to someone else. All of my giveaways are international, you can find the official rules here.

Giveaway: Butterfly Bracelet

Enter this giveaway for a chance to win a gorgeous bracelet made by Viva The Love. Good luck!

I will contact the winner via e-mail. If I don't get a reply within 60 hours the prize will go to someone else. All of my giveaways are international, you can find the official rules here.

Book Review: It Had to Be Love by Tamra Baumann

Review by Anniek

Anderson Butte, a small town in Colorado, is exactly the place where Tara needs to be. Being under the protection of the police she needs a quiet little town to start a new life under the radar for as long as she can. She was assaulted by her ex-husband which almost led to her death she still fears the day he will find her again. Tara is the new local dentist and feels very much at home in this warm little town. She keeps mostly to herself. In the evenings she loves to snuggle down on the couch with her puppy and in the mornings she often goes for a run. Tara needs to be healthy and fit for whatever may be coming for her in the future.

Ryan is the town sheriff. He doesn't like going to the dentist and when he finally shows up for his appointment he is struck by Tara's beauty. He isn't planning on staying in Anderson Butte much longer. Because he's lost his high school girlfriend to, a not so friendly, other man he wants to find a job in a bigger city like Boston. He will not date any other girls from his small town. It is not that girls aren't trying because he is a very handsome guy, but he is just not interested. One morning he is trying to catch up on Tara when she is out on her run. He startles her and before he knows it he is on the ground with a broken nose. Tara feels so guilty and brings him to the doctor's office right away. The doctor, who's Ryan's brother, is not helping very much. He is enjoying this way too much. Tara takes care of Ryan when he gets home and so their feelings start to develop...

What I loved about this story is that even though Tara has been assaulted and is still wearing the scars from this attack, she is not a whiny, sad and broken woman. In my book she is a heroine. She has overcome her fears, she's strong and she's funny. I was cheering for her when she finally faced her terror head-on!

Ryan is an Alpha male, because of being the sheriff and all, but he's also very sweet. You feel that whenever he's with his family or friends. Every character in this book got a place in my heart. The treasure hunt that was included in the story made me love it even more. It doesn't get more exciting than a real life treasure hidden somewhere. This book is a absolute must-read for everyone. It is the second story of a series but can also be read as a standalone. 

Book Review: Between Sisters by Cathy Kelly

Amazon USA Amazon UK

Review by Suze

Cassie and Coco had to grow up without a mother. She left them when they were little girls. Even though they're grown women now they're still not over this. Their grandmother has always taken care of them, so they had a loving childhood, but they missed having a mother. Now Cassie has her own family with two teenage daughters and Coco is single. They're both successful in their careers. Cassie always tries to be perfect, both in her personal and professional life. Coco is still in love with the man who wanted to marry her four years ago and she's never been able to admit to anyone what ended their relationship.

Something in Cassie's marriage has gone horribly wrong. She wants her daughters to be happy and because she's trying to be brave so hard without relying on anyone else she's often finding consolation in a drink. Coco has her own vintage clothing shop and she's struggling with a lazy employee. When something awful happens to her best friend her life changes drastically all of a sudden. Will the sisters be able to cope and how does the past still influence their present decisions and relationships?

Between Sisters isn't a light and cheerful read. It's a story about real life and people who make mistakes. I love stories about sisters and Coco and Cassie are both great women and very likable characters. They're both sweet and deserve to be happy. Other people don't always understand them very well and it takes time for them to start understanding themselves. Because of everything that's happening in their lives the sisters can't be there for each other as much as they would have liked, but they keep loving one another and they're always just a phone call away. I loved that strong connection. 

Every character has their own little story inside the bigger one. I really liked reading about grandmother Pearl and designer Phoebe for example. They're both talented women who want to protect everyone around them. Cathy Kelly has paid attention to every character in the book, which is something I really enjoyed. They all have their worries and their ups and downs, but love and warmth is what's pulling them through. I liked the description of emotions, both the good and the bad. The not-having-a-mother aspect has been written about in a sensitive, truthful and accurate way. I admired that very much. The animals are also playing their own important part. Cathy Kelly has paid attention to every single detail. Together this makes Between Sisters is a beautiful and realistic story.

Oct 8, 2015

Giveaway Winners

Yellow L'Occitane & The Body Shop beauty - Lynda C

Lush Rosie - Stephanie LP

Emma's Candles -  Alexandra E

Kawaii Stationery and stickers - Maryann D

Please Release Me - Isabelle F

Villa Sorgenfrei Wood and sterling silver flower earrings - Trillina P

Pink gemstone wire wrapped earrings - Sheri D

Green sea glass sea star necklace - Julie McD

Flor Moonlight and Star necklace - Jennifer H

Box filled with Etsy Jewelry - Clare B

Next Door to a Star - Holly G.

Etsy spotlight dreamcatcher necklace, bracelet & earrings - Mai T

Felt Animals Etsy spotlight - Emma F

Birthday giveaway 6 Decodelire - Tanya

Birthday Giveaway 7: Books, L'Occitane & Patisserie de Bain Gift Sets, Bag, Soap & Necklace -
Kat J

Real flower necklace - Sarah B.

Last First Kiss, Right Wrong Guy & Book of choice - Amber T

Oker Dreamcatcher bracelet - Pervin E 

Girl From the Well & $10 book of choice  - Sandra

Etsy Weekend Flor accessories - Catia S

Blue Large Sea Glass necklace - Heather W

Birthday giveaway 5 L'Occitane - Nikki H

Real flower real leaf necklace - Carina P

Red Wire Wrapped Gemstone earrings - Karina H

Etsy Voucher  - Jill O'S

Etsy Spotlight Natalia surprise gift - Lisa B

Blue pink real flower necklace  - Shannon W

Birthday giveaway 1: going to seaside - Jayne T.

Sterling silver heart necklace - Nancy M

Star Plush  - Sid K.

Rapunzel necklace  - Marcia

Raw Crystal necklace - Jenny S

Decodelire butterfly bag - Isabelle F

Lush Celebrate  - Kate S

Birthday giveaway 3 books & Decodelire - Margaret M

Sterling silver shell pendant - Sarah B

Oker dreamcatcher necklace - Bethul E

Decodelire Sidonie - Karina H 

Rilakkuma package via Kawaii Shop Japan - Elizabet H

Lemon slice necklace - Tracey P

Small blue simple sea glass necklace - Rafunzel M

The Letter for the King and Secrets of the Wild Wood - Patricia W

Real flower leather wrap watch & earrings - Mary L

Green books & beauty - Elin H

French Days: Big Beauty and Decodelire Giveaway

Enter this giveaway for a chance to win a lot of French beauty products, a book, a Decodelire necklace, wallet and big bag. Good luck!

I will contact the winner via e-mail. If I don't get a reply within 60 hours the prize will go to someone else. All of my giveaways are international, you can find the official rules here.

Giveaway: Amethyst & Mixed Gemstones Necklace

Enter this giveaway for a chance to win a gorgeous amethyst and mixed gemstone necklace made by The Charmed Maiden. Good luck!

I will contact the winner via e-mail. If I don't get a reply within 60 hours the prize will go to someone else. All of my giveaways are international, you can find the official rules here.

Amazing People: My Story by Kyle Foster

My story by Kyle Foster

I found out I had a kidney problem at the age of 16-17 when I tried to get in the army, but failed the medical (2005 or 2006). They sent me straight to a specialist in the Gwent Newport. I was having tests done every 3 months to keep a check on my kidney function. The specialist told me that they though it was IgA nephropathy (a slowly progressing kidney disease where IgA antibodies build up in the kidney tissue which will inflame and damage them), but wouldn't know for sure unless I had a biopic but at the time I didn't want to. But after a tree years and my kidney function declined and I had no option but to agree to have the biopic done in late 2009. It was very uncomfortable but at the time I felt so weak anyway.

When we had the results back and the doctor told me it was IgA nephropathy but that it didn’t normally affect people till they are in their 60-70s. At this time I felt hopeful that I would lead a normal life, like all the other teenagers my age. However, I kept getting weaker and weaker. I tried to keep positive that my health would get better. In early 2011 I was in hospital for gall stones, which I had for the past two years.They were putting so much stress on my kidneys that in March 2011 my kidney failed, from the pressure of my gall stones flare up. It was one of the scariest times of my life, I was close to dying. I got transferred from the Royal Gwent to the University Hospital Wales. As soon as I made it on to the ward a nurse asked me did I know what's going to happen. At this stage I didn't have a clue; they told me I was going to have a dialysis line put into my neck. I had never been told about dialysis before so it started getting really scary; the doctor said to me if they didn’t do it quickly I would die. For the dialysis tube to be put in I had to be awake. They took me into a little theatre room on the wing I was on and then they gave me some anaesthetic. But when they started cutting little holes in neck and chest to put the line in my skin was still live, they wanted to stop till it was numb, but I wanted them to carry on. The sooner it was done the sooner I would feel better. So they carried on thankfully it only seemed like it took 10 minutes. After it was done they left me in the room and called my mother in I remember the look on her face and I could see how helpless she felt. It was upsetting for me to see her like that let alone my family see me getting ill over the last few years. It was a big shock to everyone I knew that my kidneys had failed me. 

My family all came to the hospital to visit me, at this time I knew how ill I really was, to be honest I didn't think I was going to make it and one stage I felt like giving up. All this the age of 16. I have had constant pain in my back and kidneys and it was getting unreal but I didn't want to let my family down. After a few days in hospital I got sent home and started having dialysis at Pentwyn. It was like my life was over stuck to a machine for 4-5 hours 3 days a weeks and only being allowed to drink one litre of fluid a day. It was a really challenge to stick to one litre a day when everyone else my age was going out enjoying themselves I was staying in, scared, in case something happened to my line, I would go to my local pub with everyone I knew. But still I couldn't enjoy myself as much as everyone else was, I was still feeling weak after being on the dialysis machine it makes you really tired and the days after it you are still too weak to do anything, my life felt like it was over.

The nurses and the team at Pentwyn were a good bunch and you could have a laugh with them. I was the youngest patient in there at the time. To this day I am still in contact with some of them. After a few weeks of dialysis some of my family got tested to see if they were a match to give me a kidney, there were 3 matches my Dad David, my uncle Steve and auntie Margaret. I didn't want my brothers or sisters to get tested to be a match because they were still young themselves. My dad was my best match, but there was one problem, he had to lose weight a lot of weight. He's done it and went from around 18stone to 15stone in under 6 months I was so proud of him and so was my family.

We had a meeting at the hospital in October 2011 and heard they had scheduled the operation for the 12/12/11. I felt relieved, being on dialysis was killing me inside, and I had no life. On the day of the transplant it was the scariest day of my life. My dad went down to theatre around 8am on the 12th December 2011 I wasn't allowed to see him before he went down. We were in the same bays together, so for the next 8 hours I listened to classical music to try help calm myself down. I was very emotional. Then I had my call to go down to theatre. I started to worry, I hate needles and I knew I was going to have a few put into me. When I got downstairs to the theatre they put me in a waiting room and I thought something was wrong with my father. After 10 minutes I went into the theatre there were at least 8 people in this little room with me. I had someone tell me to count back from 10 and before I knew it I was out. By this time my family was at the hospital with my father and waiting on me, for me what seemed like half hour was actually 10-12 hours. My family was worried something went wrong as I should have been up a long time ago. When I finally arrived back up on the ward they told me they had a problem they had to re-open me to sort something out that went wrong but now everything is okay. My dad was only in hospital for 3-4 days and I was in hospital for 5 days after the transplant. It was like an early Christmas present and a second chance at life. I felt alive like a new person; one thing my dad said to me was enjoy your life. So since then I have travelled a little bit around Asia. 

 Since I was put on dialysis I started fundraising for kidney Wales foundation. My friends did a 250 ft bungee jump, both of them are scared of heights, which was in November 2011. My family and I have done 310k runs in aid of kidney Wales foundation. In early 2015 I set myself a challenge to climb Kilimanjaro in October 2015. I want to prove that people with an illness can achieve goals, they set big goals. Kidney Wales got in touch with me about them starting up a mentoring program for teenagers who have kidney disease I jumped at the chance to help other people as I wished I have someone to talk to about it, it would of made things easier. I never knew anything about dialysis till I was rushed on to it which isn't nice at all. So me being able to help other people feels like an honour. Kidney Wales foundation have started a group called “the can do project” with around 20 of us with different kidney problems all coming together to help mentor young teenagers.

Half way though this year my older brother Gareth has had kidney problems and his kidney function has started to decline. They think he has got the same problem as me; it is very upsetting and emotional as I know the pain he is going through and I can't do anything for him accept give advice.

So this is why I want to climb Kilimanjaro to prove that even after a serious illness you can till push for big things and make your dreams come true. Anyone who knows me will tell you I don't take no for an answer and I will push myself to achieve.

About Kyle Foster

Kyle Foster is Tanya's cousin. It's amazing that he's such a fighter and does so much to help others. He's ill, but he's brave and he's never giving up. Because of that we would love it if you could support him. Your donation, anything you can miss, would be very helpful. It would be wonderful if he could reach his goal and raise £4000

Giveaway Hop: Books To Movies

Some of my favorite books that have been made into movies are:

Enter this giveaway for a chance to win a book of choice that has been made into a movie worth $12. Good luck!

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