May 30, 2015

Review: A Tale Dark & Grimm by Adam Gidwitz

Reader: beware. Warlocks with dark spells, hunters with deadly aim, and bakers with ovens retrofitted for cooking children lurk within these pages.

But if you dare, turn the page and learn the true story of Hansel and Gretel - the story behind (and beyond) the bread crumbs, edible houses and outwitted witches.

Come on in. It may be frightening, it's certainly bloody, and it's definitely not for the faint of heart.

Amazon USA Amazon UK

 A Tale Dark & Grimm tells the story of two royal children, Hansel and Gretel. It begins with how a king manages to steal a princess. They get married and are having children. Hansel and Gretel are twins and one day their parents, the king and queen, do something terrible and unforgivable. Hansel and Gretel then leave the palace to find kinder people who will take better care of them. That is where their journey begins. They end up in strange places where houses are delicious and boys can turn into birds. The journey is tough, but so are Hansel and Gretel...

A Tale Dark and Grimm is a long fairytale about the journey of two young children who are leaving their parents. It's a story filled with blood, terrible weapons, people who eat children, sadists, etc. Which is as gruesome as a good fairytale ought to be. I loved this fantastic fairytale, it has all the right ingredients. There are people who behave like monsters and some fabulous tricks and scheming. I also liked the clever comments about fairytales in general, the main characters, decision making, etc., they are hilarious. I love a good fairytale and liked this book a lot, it's definitely entertaining and enjoyable.

May 29, 2015

Tanya Loves: Crabtree & Evelyn Somerset Meadow Ultra-moisturising Hand Therapy

Suze asked me to try this Crabtree & Evelyn Somerset Meadow ultra-moisturising hand therapy. It’s a very light flowery smell that again lasts for a while. Before I started to use this lotion my hands were very dry and my nails were in an awful condition. The cream soaks straight in and doesn’t have the greasy feel that some creams leave behind. My hands are now soft and my nails are improving at a great rate. Another good point is that a little bit of this cream goes a long way so is economical. I am a convert to this brand and I say to give it a go you will be pleased.

Giveaway: Sterling Silver Magic Topaz Pendant

Enter this giveaway to win a sterling silver magic topaz pendant made by Silver Rush Style. Good luck!

  I will contact the winner on twitter or via email. If I don't get a reply within 60 hours the prize will go to someone else. All of my giveaways are international.

Giveaway: Purple Flower Necklace

Enter this giveaway to win a beautiful purple flower necklace made by Kawaii Craft Cottage. Good luck!

  I will contact the winner on twitter or via email. If I don't get a reply within 60 hours the prize will go to someone else. All of my giveaways are international.

Suze Loves: MaterNatura Sapone Liquido

I love MaterNatura. The philosophy of the brand is to use products that are both safe for the people who are using it and for the environment. You can find more information about their values here. Because of those values I wanted to try this brand and I'm really happy I did.

I've made it my mission to blog about fabulous products that are easy to use. Soap is one of the products we need on a daily basis. If you have parched skin or eczema using a good soap is essential. As our hands are what we wash the most I think they deserve to be treated kindly. This soap is absolutely fantastic. The scent is amazing and it's gentle for the skin. My hands are easy to rinse and it lasts a long time. I love this soap and my husband is also a fan.

I like the fresh look of MaterNatura. It suits their ideals really well. The brand is both luxurious and safe which is a great combination. I'm definitely going to try more products and will keep buying the soap as I don't want to be without any more.

Suze Loves: Mindful Matters! & Giveaway

I love Mindful Matters. It's a shop filled with beautiful jewelry. 

The owner, Diane, describes her style as follows: ' unique handcrafted Earthy, Tribal, Rustic, Boho, Hippie, Ethnic & Whimsical Polymer Clay Jewelry and Mixed Metal Art Jewelry.' 

I love the great mix of materials, the handmade beads and the gorgeous colors.

Some of Diane's pieces are bold and bright while others are more sober. I love the color combinations she makes.

What I like about Diane's pieces is that she clearly has her own style, one that really works.

Everything is reasonably priced, so even if you don't have a big budget you can already buy this jewelry.

Diane finds her inspiration in geometric patterns that can be found in nature.

She started her Etsy shop in 2010 and since then she's already sold over a thousand items.

The feedback she's received is all really positive.

Diane has an interesting About page, which is both fun to read and informative.

I like that the jewelry is so versatile, but that through the distinctive style every piece still is part of one whole.

It's feminine and pretty.

It's also unique and original.

Check out this fantastic store...

...and enjoy shopping!

One very lucky reader of my blog will receive a fantastic prize:

These gorgeous Rustic Dangle Earrings will be for the winner of this giveaway. Good luck!

  I will contact the winner on twitter or via email. If I don't get a reply within 60 hours the prize will go to someone else. All of my giveaways are international.

Review: Carry Me Home by Lia Riley

Years ago, Tanner Green loved Sunny Letman. She was meant to be his first kiss, first love, first everything. Then their world spun upside-down and out of control.

Free-spirited Sunny doesn't do commitment. Sure, guys are great for a night or a week, but she always leaves first. That is, until professional skateboarder and town golden boy, Tanner Green, unexpectedly walks back into her life.

Despite their broken history, a fragile and undeniably electric connection still holds them together. Now Tanner has to convince Sunny that even though love isn't always perfect, it's worth sticking around for...

This stand alone novella is part of the Off the Map series.

Amazon USA

Tanner and Sunny have a history. Their mothers had a brief relationship before Sunny's mother married a horrible man. Because of that when they were thirteen years old Sunny and Tanner spent a lot of time together. They were meant to be each other's first kiss, but something traumatic changed things between them. A few weeks later Tanner was dating the most popular girl in school and his star was rising because of his skating. 

Tanner is a professional skateboarder, but he isn't happy, because he doesn't think he deserves his career and reputation. Sunny has an art degree. She works in a health food store and in her spare time she's working on a graphic novel. Sunny likes having fun, she isn't a relationship girl at all. She likes to be in control and to be able to walk away without getting hurt. Tanner is a golden boy and he hasn't got much relationship experience. His first girlfriend died and after that he's only been with one girl and that was a stupid mistake. Sunny wants to let him know how bad he's messed up, how stupid he's been, but she doesn't count on having such strong feelings for him. She wants to walk away, but is that possible? Tanner wants her to stay, will he be able to convince her?

Carry Me Home is a great novella. I loved the Off The Map series. Sunny and Tanner are part of that, but it's just a small part, so this novella can be read as a stand alone. There's a lot of history and chemistry between Sunny and Tanner. Lia Riley always makes her sexy scenes meaningful and they're often decisive. I think it's great that Sunny and Tanner have their own story. I loved reading more about them and the story is a wonderful addition to the series.

May 28, 2015

Interview: Anna North - The Life and Death of Sophie Stark

1) Could you tell my readers a bit more about yourself?

I’m a fiction and nonfiction writer. In my life as a journalist, I write editorials for The New York Times, and also write for and edit the editorial page’s blog. I like to work on my fiction in the early mornings, before I go to work. That’s when I have the most energy, but it’s also when my mind feels clear and quiet, and I haven’t yet started thinking about the news or what’s going on in my day. When I’m not writing, I love reading, watching “Game of Thrones,” bird-watching, and yoga.


2) The Life and Death of Sophie Stark reads like a movie, the documentary about her life. It's almost like reading through a camera, was it difficult to create this effect?

Thanks, that’s really flattering! From the beginning I was thinking about Sophie’s legacy, about what people would say about her when she was gone. And so even when I was writing about Sophie’s early life, or her first big love, I was sort of thinking about her posthumously, in a way, about how she’d be remembered. I think Sophie, after a certain point in her life, thinks of herself this way too.

3) Sophie isn't very likeable, but everyone loves her and it's very natural. It's a contradiction which works very well, her character seems to be made of contradictions. Is that a coincidence or have you planned it this way? It's like coexisting contradictions are the base of the novel: movie-book, dislike-admiration/love, breakable-strong, building a relationship-destruction, etc.

I definitely thought of Sophie as being composed of contradictions. I wanted some people to be drawn to her, even though she doesn’t understand people very well (though she may understand more than she lets on). I think all the other contradictions may have flowed from Sophie’s contradictory nature — I wanted her to be this mystery at the center of the book, and everything else kind of came from that.

4) It's almost as if Sophie is someone who really exists (is this because the book reads like a movie or is it a coincidence?). Was it like that for you when you were writing about her? How did/do you see your main character?

I had a sense of her physically very early on in the writing process. I had some models in mind (famous people, not people I know), but Sophie took on her own distinctive appearance for me very early — the hawk-like face, the big eyes. I had such a sense of her personality early on, too, despite her contradictions, that she felt like a real person to me.

5) Your novel has an unusual construction. How did you get that idea and why did you write it like that?

I made a bunch of attempts to write the novel from a single point of view. I tried it from Robbie’s point of view, and from the point of view of a character who would later sort of morph into the critic, Ben Martin. But I wasn’t really satisfied with any of them. Then I decided to try putting the novel together from all of their points of view — when I tried that, I was happy with it for the first time.

6) Unusual talent is a big theme of the novel. What's your advice for people who have a talent like that? What should they do with it?

Maybe just to understand that talent isn’t everything. Sophie always chooses her art over other people, and while that’s sometimes good for her art, I’d argue that it’s sometimes bad for it. Sophie was a fascinating character for me but she’s definitely not a model for how people should live. I definitely think artists, like anyone, need to be compassionate to the people around them. They shouldn’t assume their talent is the only important thing about them, or their lives.

7) Sophie's life hasn't been easy and she makes it even harder for herself, why does she do that, because there's no other way or because she's like that and doesn't know how to be anything else, etc.?

I think on one level, she doesn’t know how to be any other way. I don’t think Sophie knows how to be really kind to people, or to put their interests ahead of what she’s doing in her films. Sometimes, though (and yes, even my understanding of Sophie changes somewhat by the day), I think she could have learned. She has models in her life of people who are kind, and some people ask her explicitly not to do things but she does them anyway. I think Sophie has a vision for the kind of art she wants to create, the kind of artistic persona she wants to have, and the kind of artistic legacy she wants to leave. In some ways she’s driven toward these things by the kind of person she is, but she does have some choices along the way, and she always chooses the art and the legacy over what might be best for the people around her (or, sometimes, for herself).

8) The story has many dimensions and stories within stories as every time someone else is telling about Sophie it's their story that is taking over. How was it to distinguish them and to make them all equally strong?

I really let myself get lost in each person’s story when it was his or her turn to talk. I let my imagination go off on tangents, and trusted that exploring each character and his or her back story would reveal more about Sophie and advance the plot, too. Sometimes it was hard to give all the characters equal attention — I had to spend extra time with some of them, imagining things like their physical appearances, their families, and their fears.

9) If you'd have met Sophie what would you have said to her?

I think I’d say I loved her work (I imagine that I would, though of course it’s hard to imagine what her movies would be like if they were real). I wouldn’t bother to ask her any questions; I’d know she wouldn’t give me satisfying answers.
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