Jul 29, 2015

1,000,000 Views Giveaway 16: Decodelire Sidonie

Enter this giveaway for a chance to win Decodelire Sidonie jewelry and accessories. The winner will receive a stunning wallet, a beauty bag, a coin purse, a necklace with matching earrings, a mirror and a keychain. The quality of these items is amazing, they're all really beautiful. 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.

Interview & Giveaway: Each & Every One by Rachael English

Each & Every One

Each & Every One is one of the best books I've read and reviewed last year. I can't recommend this book enough, I loved it. Rachael English is the presenter of a popular Irish Radio show and she's now also a well known author. Each & Every One is her second novel. Her first one, Going Back, is on my favorites list as well. I think her books are very special and she has such a great way with words. I've interviewed Rachael English and asked her some questions about Each & Every One. 

The Questions

1) How did you get the idea to write a story about children who are used to luxuries and now have to give it all up?

To a large extent, the book was inspired by my day job as a journalist and radio presenter. For several years, my working life was all about the recession. But when you're working in daily journalism, you tend to focus on the big picture: losses, loans, politicians, bankers. So I wanted to write a story about how individual lives are affected by all of this turmoil. Obviously, it was people like Carmel, one of the book's main characters, who lost the most. At the start of the book, she’s trapped in a decrepit apartment block, surrounded by people who have no work. I was also fascinated, though, by families who’d grown up surrounded by plenty - and who suddenly had to fend for themselves. I found myself wondering what it’s like to be at the heart of an affluent family when the funds dry up. Do you really get along - or has money been papering over the cracks? 

I'm conscious that this all sounds quite dark, but I hope the book also contains quite a bit of humour.

2) What would you do when all of a sudden all money would be taken away from you?

What an interesting question. I guess we all like to think that money doesn’t matter, but if I woke up one morning with no income, no house and no way of finding another job, I don’t know how I’d cope. 

The Shine children cope very badly. Until their parents’ funds run dry, they have no idea how fortunate they have been. They've taken everything for granted. And then, overnight, their lives are upended. As Vee says, ‘Life without money is so damn complicated.’

3) What are the three most important things in life for you?

I reckon my list is similar to most people: family, health, peace of mind. If your family are OK, and your physical and mental health are OK, you have some chance of tackling whatever life throws at you. 

4) Life isn't always fair is a great theme to read about, why did you choose this theme?

It was something that struck me forcibly during the depths of the recession. Many people who had never lived extravagant lives were really suffering. At the same time, some people who had enjoyed very fancy lifestyles were able to walk away from their responsibilities. To begin with, the Shine children try to carry on as though nothing has changed, and it takes some of them quite a while to face up their dishonesty.

5) Tara is different, she's the sibling most readers will probably love the most (myself included), what do you think of her?

I’m very fond of her, but she's far too innocent for a twenty-nine year old! At the start of the book, everybody is taking advantage of her good nature, so she too has lessons to learn. I also enjoyed writing about her life as a reporter. In a lot of fiction, journalists are either exceedingly glamorous or the personification of seediness. Just for a change, I wanted to write about the day to day life of an average hack like Tara. Also, her job gives her an opportunity to meet people like Carmel and Ben, and it's through her friendship with them that she comes to see the truth about her own life.

6) What was the most fun part to write and/or to research?

I loved writing about the ‘other family’ - Carmel, Ben and Jenelle. Carmel is such a resilient person who faces up to the worst that life brings her with grace and good humour. Ben is great fun because he's so bright. Also, being only eight years old, he has a licence to say whatever comes into his head.

Then, at the other end of the spectrum . . . there’s Vee, the most spoilt woman in Ireland. Writing her character was a wonderful challenge because even though almost every reader hates her at the start, she does go on quite a journey.

As far as research is concerned, the part that had the biggest impact on me was the time I spent in the Dublin District Court, just watching the comings and goings. I found it so fascinating that I’m now determined to write a book set in the courts.

7) Each & Every One is in my top 3 of best novels I've read last year. What are your three recent favourites?

Thanks you so much, Suzanne. If we're talking about books published this year, I loved Weightless by Sarah Bannan. It’s about teenage bullying, so I suppose some would call it YA, but I think it goes beyond that. I also enjoyed The Long Hot Summer by Kathleen MacMahon. My favourite book of the past few years is Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

8) Being truthful and having secrets are important aspects of the story, what's your favourite kind of secret to write about?

Complicated ones! I’ve given this quite a bit of thought recently because I’m writing a book about an adopted woman who goes in search of her birth parents. She also has to face up to a number of her own secrets, and she begins to wonder whether sometimes people are better off not knowing the truth.


One very lucky reader of my blog will receive a paperback copy of Each & Every One. 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.

Easy Entry Giveaway: Owl & Cabochon Bracelet

Enter this giveaway for a chance to win two lovely bracelets. Good luck!

I will contact the winner 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, you can find the official rules here.

Beauty Review: Savon Liquide Amande Douce by Savonnerie de Bormes

I love Savonnerie de Bormes. It's a French brand that makes natural plant based soaps and other beauty products like shower gels and body lotions. Everything is made in France. I've tried several different products already and loved them all. This time I've tested the Amande Douce Savon Liquide. 

I love soaps that are gentle for my hands and that don't dry out the skin. This soap is one of my favorites and whenever I run out I always buy it again straight away. I love the scent, the way it feels on my hands and the gentleness of the product. I like the freshness of my hands after using this soap. It's ideal for both the bathroom and the kitchen and it's very suitable for people who often have to wash their hands. 

I love the look and feel of Savonnerie de Bormes. The products are reasonably priced, while they are certainly luxurious. The packing is beautiful and I like the style of the brand. What I also like is that you only need a little bit of product each time you're using this brand, so it lasts a long time. It's great quality for a good price. I highly recommend Savonnerie de Bormes.

Book Review: Wylding Hall by Elizabeth Hand

Amazon USA Amazon UK

Review by Suze

Something weird has happened at Wylding Hall. The young folk band Windhollow Faire goes there to recover from the terrible death of Arianna, the former female singer of the band. The American Lesley replaces her and joins the band at Wylding Hall where the manager hopes they will get over the traumatic death and will manage to come up with songs for a brilliant new album. Wylding Hall is an unused mansion in a remote area. The idea works and the band is in such a good shape, but then Julian, the band's most talented member, disappears. 

Wylding Hall is Windhollow Faire's second and last album. Wylding Hall is a creepy house and not everyone feels at ease there. Both the band members and friends who are coming to stay for a short while are feeling ill at ease. When Julian disappears he's with a girl. Who is she? She's on the album cover, but nobody knows anything about her. Years later the other band members and people who used to know them are talking about the strange summer at Wylding Hall and about what might have happened to Julian.

I loved the brilliant form of this book. It reads like a documentary. I liked that every time another character talked about Wylding Hall and what happened there. I was immediately fascinated by the story. What happened to Julian, who was involved and what are the theories behind it all? I wanted to know more and I enjoyed the speculations and the mystery of Julian's disappearance.

Elizabeth Hand's writing is beautiful. She always manages to surprise me. When I would have watched a similar documentary on television I would have been a bit skeptic, but also intrigued. That was exactly how I felt while I was reading this book. I loved both the story and the way it ends. It was easy to recognize the distinctive voices and of course there's no way you know who's the most credible, that's an aspect I liked a lot. It leaves room for a lot of personal interpretation. I think Wylding Hall is fantastic, it's creepy, oppressive, disturbing and really, really good.

Jul 28, 2015

Cover Reveal, Matching Jewelry & Giveaway: Quintessentially Yours by Linn B. Halton

Quintessentially Yours by Linn B. Halton will come out on August 5th. I think the cover is gorgeous, the colors are beautiful and I love the design. The stunning color combination inspired me to browse Etsy and find some matching pieces of jewelry. 

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

The winner of this giveaway will receive kindle copies of Under The Stars and Quintessentially Yours and a beautiful amethyst necklace. Good luck!

I will contact the winner 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, you can find the official rules here.


Giveaway winners:

Green leaf necklace - Nathan L

L'Occitane hand cream and lip balm and macaron necklace - Eun C

Me & Mr J - Bárbara T

Red Flower bracelet - clair d

Candy Necklace and earrings - Jayne T

L'Occitane tin with hand cream and bath cubes and macaron earrings and necklace - Denisa I

L'Occitane lip balm + hand cream and yellow macaron necklace   Diana D

L'Occitane Iris Bleu Pouch, 3 books, Pacifica roll-on, Benecos eye shadow and lip gloss - Angela G 

Two books, a polymer clay jewelry set, a Lush Tutti Fruity gift set, a L'Occitane gift set, a ceramic necklace, Body Shop lip gl - Jess M  

Layla Amber Bird Necklace - Stephanie LP

Sterling silver magic topaz pendant - Annaloa H 

Lush Hello Gorgeous - Filomena R

Lush Rosie - Isma M

Green ceramic heart necklace - Angel G

Blue flower necklace - Susan P

Green glass beaded bracelet - Heather H

Sun and moon necklace - Lori B     
Pink Rose Necklace - Marjorie T 
Human + Kind and chick lit - Sheryl P   

Purple flower necklace - Jennifer  
Smoky topaz sterling silver pendant - Miki  
Brown ceramic owl necklace - Mel O    
Blue Ceramic necklace - Alessandra V 

Ceramic Necklace - morag P

The winners will all receive an e-mail in the next two days.        

1,000,000 Views Giveaway 15: Books, L'Occitane & Necklace

Enter this giveaway for a chance to win three books, a necklace and L'Occitane eau de toilette, hand cream and body milk. Good luck!

I will contact the winner 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, you can find the official rules here.

Japan Weekend Book Review: Ink by Amanda Sun

Amazon USA Amazon UK

Review by Suze

Katie is getting used to her new life in Japan. She's moved there to stay with her aunt after her mother passed away. Life in Shizuoka is very different from life in America and it requires a lot of adjusting. Katie's aunt decides to send her to a Japanese school. Katie has problems with the language, so she has to take a lot of extra lessons to keep up. The food in Japan is different, she has to wear slippers in school and her blonde hair stands out wherever she goes.

Fortunately she makes friends pretty quickly. At school she also meets Tomohiro. He's aloof and cold at first and Katie can't seem to get through to him. He's great at kendo (a form of fencing), so he's the school's sports hero and a lot of people are fascinated by him. Katie's drawn to him and can't stay away. They share something strange. Tomohiro has a way with ink and even though Katie isn't gifted at drawing with it the ink is what connects them. Because of Tomohiro Katie finds out more about the Kami, powerful descendants from an ancient god. What does this have to do with Katie and Tomohiro and are they both in danger because of it?

Katie is very strong and she goes for what she wants. She's still sad about losing her mother, but she's resilient and soon she embraces the Japanese way of living. She likes the food, she makes some great friends and staying with her aunt isn't so bad. I loved learning more about Japan through her eyes. Katie soon falls in love with Tomohiro. He's like a magnet and at first she doesn't understand why exactly, but she keeps following him until he accepts her presence. She does this in a determined way, because she knows that beneath the tough and cold exterior there's a kind and caring guy who likes her back. 

Tomohiro's best friend is in a gang and he keeps dragging Tomohiro with him. He's trouble and he doesn't like Katie. She wants Tomohiro to stay safe, but he's always there for his friends. This means he often gets into fights and I couldn't help feeling bad for him as he clearly doesn't like that life very much. Things keep getting worse, but Tomohiro stands by his friend. Tomohiro's drawings are fantastic, he can't draw in the presence of anyone besides Katie, because of what happens when he's using ink. I loved reading about his talents. I liked that the drawings were coming to life and that ink played such an important role in this story. I'm now so curious to read more about Katie's connection to the ink. I can't wait to find out what will happen in the next book of this series. I'm definitely intrigued and love Amanda's Sun's writing.

Japan Weekend Shop Review: Suze Loves Locca Enamel Jewellery! & Giveaway

I love Locca Enamel Jewellery. The jewelry Yukiko makes is absolutely stunning.

Yukiko is a trained Japanese enamel artist who's currently living in Wales.

She lets her international experiences influence her work which makes it even more unique and beautiful.

You can read more about the enamel tradition and the process of making it on Yukiko's about page.

I'm the proud owner of two beautiful necklaces and I can say from experience that Yukiko's work is gorgeous. She's a skilled artist and I'm in love with my jewelry.

I've received so many compliments about it.

I love the beautiful vibrant colors and detailed shapes of the enamel in combination with the silver. It's fantastic.

When you hold it in your hands it's even more beautiful than on the photos.

Yukiko also uses a special way of packaging the jewelry and it comes with a bit of information. I loved finding out more about the Japanese traditions.

Yukiko's customer service is excellent. She's kind, she ships quickly and she's always there to help.

She has a wonderful blog with beautiful photos. It's about food, traveling and Wales.

Check out this fantastic Etsy store!

Enjoy admiring Yukiko's beautiful work and have fun shopping!

One very lucky reader of my blog will receive an amazing prize:

This fabulous copper pendant with frosted glass will be for the winner of the giveaway. Good luck!

I will contact the winner 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, you can find the official rules here.

Japan Weekend: Kawaii Shop Japan Giveaway

Enter this giveaway for a chance to win a lovely kawaii package from Kawaii Shop Japan. Good luck!

I will contact the winner 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, you can find the official rules here.

Japan Week Book Review: Shadow by Amanda Sun

Amazon USA Amazon UK

Review by Suze

Katie Greene has lost her mother. She had a fatal heart attack and now Katie's all alone. Katie has to get through the funeral and then there's the matter of where she's going to stay. Her family doesn't live anywhere near and her mother's friend can't let her stay forever. Her mother's will is clear, her aunt will have custody. Only that would mean moving to Japan and Katie isn't ready for that yet. Japan is her destiny though, but how will she be able to make a life for herself there when she doesn't even know the language?

Yuu Tomohiro has horrible nightmares. They're too vivid to be just dreams and he knows that at some level they are real. He loves to draw, but horrible things are happening when he does. He's got a darkness inside him and he's afraid to lose control. There's a dangerous shadow, something that haunts him. He can't control what happens when he's around. That is why he keeps people at a distance, it also means he has to push his girlfriend Myu away. He likes her, but if she comes too close she'll be in danger. What's happening to him?

Shadow is the first part of Amanda Sun's The Paper Gods series. It's a prequel that introduces the reader to both Katie and Tomohiro. It's a great way to get to know them a bit better. Katie is really sad, she misses her mother terribly. She's lost everything she holds dear and there's no going back. Tomohiro tries to keep people safe, but his friends keep managing to get into trouble and they ask him to pull them out. He's someone with a good heart who pretends to be insensitive and cold, just because he wants to protect everyone. He thinks there's something awful inside him. After reading this prequel I couldn't wait to start reading Ink. I immediately liked Katie and Tomohiro and I was curious to learn more about the shadows. I think Shadows makes Ink (the first full length novel) a better book and can't wait to read more of the series. Amanda Sun is a good writer and I love the world she's created.  

Jul 27, 2015

Japan Weekend Book Review: A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding by Jackie Copleton

Amazon USA Amazon UK

Review by Suze

Amaterasu has lost both her daughter Yuko and grandson Hideo. They died when the Americans attacked Nagasaki with an atom bomb. Amaterasu feels guilty because she sent Yuko to the place where she died. Yuko had already arrived while Amaterasu was late. Hideo was at school when it happened and most of the pupils passed away. Because they lost so much Amaterasu and her husband Kenzo moved to America straight after the war. 

Amaterasu is living in a retirement home and she's truly alone. Kenzo is no longer alive and there's nobody else who's close to her. When one day someone who's badly burned shows up on her doorstep and tells her he's Hideo she doesn't believe him. The past is complicated and Amaterasu doesn't want to be reminded of it. Before Yuko got married to Hideo's father she was together with an older man, someone who played a role in Amaterasu's past as well. Someone she wanted to protect her daughter from. Was she doing the right thing? And is the stranger really Hideo, how can she know? 

Each chapter of A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding begins with a Japanese word and an explanation. I loved reading these pieces of information. Amaterasu hasn't had an easy life and she's been consumed by guilt for so many years. If she'd have acted differently Yuko might still have been alive. It isn't her fault the Americans attacked, but she feels like it is her fault because she sent Yuko to that place. Jackie Copleton has told her story so well that I could feel her pain. Even though she isn't guilty and isn't to blame, I understood why she felt like that. She reads Yuko's diaries even though they are private and they're bringing her pain. These brief insights in Yuko's life gave the story so much extra depth. The relationship between mother and daughter is both moving and complicated, especially since Amaterasu goes really far trying protect Yuko, I had tears in my eyes because of her motherly love sometimes. 

Amaterasu has such a difficult past and she has known very little happiness in her life. Fortunately she ended up with a man like Kenzo, a good man who always tried to be her rock. They have a complicated history which remains secret until the end of the story. It was quite intriguing and I kept wanting to know more. Jackie Copleton was making me feel curious. She tells the story with such a great sensitivity which makes it beautiful. She's considerate, but honest and I liked that a lot. The Second World War was a difficult time to be young. A lot of men were sent abroad to fight, also if they didn't want to, and many of them didn't survive. I had tears in my eyes when I read about the things that were happening. War makes so many victims and each of them has a story. That's what I kept thinking about when I read this book. Amaterasu's world has crumbled because of it. I think A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding is an amazing story about a fascinating woman with an interesting, but heartbreaking past.

Japan Weekend: Japanese Girl Necklace Giveaway

These Japanese beauties have all been made by Zingara Creativa.

I love Alessia's beautiful creations.

They're so detailed and pretty.

And her Japan themed collection is fantastic. 

One very lucky reader of my blog will receive a wonderful prize.

A Japan themed surprise necklace will be for the winner of this giveaway.

Good luck!

I will contact the winner 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, you can find the official rules here.

Japan Weekend: Etsy - Suze Loves Atelier Nature House

Atelier Nature House is a self built log cabin. 

Yu and her husband Juro are living at the foot of the Hakuba mountains in Japan.

It's the beautiful environment that inspired them to translate their beautiful surroundings into jewelry.

I think the pieces are absolutely stunning!

They are elegant and stylish and so well made.

This jewelry is special and it's one of a kind.

The flowers and plants have all been found around the cabin.

I love this gorgeous delicate jewelry.

Visit this amazing store and admire the stunning pieces.

Enjoy browsing...

And have fun shopping!

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