Apr 25, 2015

Book Talk: Traveling


Every time I pick up a book I feel like I'm traveling somewhere. Most of them are about places I've never seen. Some books have actual traveling as a theme, but it isn't necessary for me to feel like I'm making some kind of trip. I love traveling in my mind. It's great to discover new places and different times. In stories anything is possible, the options are limitless. There's so much that can be discovered just by opening a book.

Of course it's completely different to travel somewhere in your mind or in reality. When you're reading the author of the book is taking you, you have to see what they want to show you. It's amazing to see the world through someone else's eyes and it never stops to be fascinating. I love holidays, but as I can't go away all the time books are a great substitute. 

It's fantastic to read about places I might or will never visit. Some of them aren't real and others are too far remote or not suitable for me at all. That doesn't mean I don't like fantasizing how it would be to go there. In my mind I've traveled the world, I've been almost everywhere, while in person there are so many places I still have to visit. I would also love to see more places that I only know from stories to see if the image I have matches the reality. 

As the summer holidays are coming close I'm dreaming about traveling. Last year I traveled via books on my blog. I'm thinking about doing this again, but then in a more structured and organized way. I love book traveling and it's great that many people will have the chance to join me. It's such a wonderful feeling to share a journey. Book traveling is amazing and I can't wait to make my summer itinerary.   

Apr 24, 2015

Beautiful Cover: Searching for Steven by Jessica Redland

When Sarah Peterson accepts her Auntie Kay’s unexpected offer to take over her florist’s shop, she’s prepared for a change of job, home and lifestyle. What she isn’t prepared for is the discovery of a scarily accurate clairvoyant reading that’s been missing for twelve years. All her predictions have come true, except one: she’s about to meet the man of her dreams. Oh, and his name is Steven.
Suddenly Stevens are everywhere. Could it be the window cleaner, the rep, the manager of the coffee shop, or any of the men she’s met online?
On top of that, she finds herself quite attracted to a handsome web designer, but his name isn't even Steven...
During this unusual search, will Sarah find her destiny?

 
On June 3rd this wonderful book will come out, I've already read it and loved it. It's a fantastic book about true love and how to find it. I like the theme, it's perfect for a summer read!

Etsy: I Love Molly Creations! + Giveaway



I love Molly Creations. In this shop you can find the most amazing polymer clay jewelry. It's all very pretty!


I've purchased a lot of different things from this seller already and everything is gorgeous.


The quality of the items is great and the prices are really reasonable. 


This shop is perfect for buying wonderful presents.


Everything has been handmade with love and care.


The owner's name is Monica and she's very friendly.


She always packages things carefully and that makes her items look even lovelier.


I'm a big fan and repeat customer and will keep purchasing from this seller.


Monica doesn't only sell jewelry she also sells supplies. Her handmade clay charms are fabulous. 


Visit this great Etsy shop and enjoy shopping!


For one very lucky reader of my blog there will be a great prize:


The winner of this giveaway will receive a ring, a necklace and a bracelet.


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.    

Giveaway: Vintage Happy Mail


Enter this giveaway to win some lovely vintage happy mail.


  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.      

Fabulous Freebie - Book Review, Cover Reveal and Giveaway: The Mortal Enchantment Series by Stacey O'Neale

Sixteen-year-old Rowan has spent most of his life living among the mortals--learning to control the element of fire, impatiently awaiting the day his vengeful mother, Queen Prisma, will abdicate her throne. When he finally returns to Avalon for his coronation, his mother insists he must first prove his loyalty to the court by completing a secret mission:

Kill Kalin, the half-human, half-elemental daughter of the air court king.

Willing to do anything to remove his mother from power, he agrees to sacrifice the halfling. He returns to the mortal world with his best friend, Marcus, determined to kill the princess. But as he devises a plan, he starts to question whether or not he's capable of completing such a heinous task. And what price he will pay if he refuses?

Amazon US Amazon UK

Review

Rowan is a fire elemental, but he's spent most of his life living among mortals. His mother, the queen, is about to make him her successor. Before Rowan can take the crown he needs to do something for her. His mother is a cruel woman and the task she has given him is something that goes against his nature. He has to kill Kalin, but he doesn't want to do it. Kalin is a halfling (she's half human and half air elemental) and the daughter of the air court king. Together with his best friend Marcus Rowan is trying to do what he's been asked. Will he be able to and what will be the consequences of his actions?

I liked this prequel. It's a great novella and reading it has made me curious about the rest of the series. I like the world building and want to know how the story will continue. This is a short and fun read. I downloaded this as a freebie and can't wait to read the next book.

Fabulous freebies

If you're new to the series, this is the best time to check it out.

The Shadow Prince and Mortal Enchantment are currently available for free on Amazon from April 24th through April 28th. This is the one and only time the author will do this, so pick up your copies now. Click here for the links to the free books.

Cover reveal

And now, here is the cover of the last book in the series, Eternal Sacrifice!

EternalSacrifice.v2-Final.v2

 Click here to add this book to your Goodreads TBR.

Giveaway

As promised, here is the Gift Card contest:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Read What You Love and You Will Love to Read


I come from a family of avid readers and am happy that books are in my 'genes'. I would have missed so much without my precious stories and interesting sources of information. Ever since I was a little girl I've been in love with good stories. I used to read as many fairytales as I could and later I had a gruesome thriller phase. Then came the classics and after that I read one series after another and now I often find myself reading something romantic. Even though my tastes seem to have changed my love for a good book has always been the same. 
I'm writing this post as today I've discovered that I've probably read 100 books already in the first four months of this year. That isn't a bad start at all and I'm hoping I'll be able to continue at this pace the rest of the year as well. I'm reading so much that I'm having trouble keeping up with my reviews, but I can't seem to slow down. I don't want to slow down, I want to read as many pages as I can every single day. I'm thoroughly enjoying myself, so I don't think it's a big burden that I push myself to read almost a book a day. 
Reading makes me happy and it's also why I blog about books. I can't picture a life without stories. I'm grateful that there are so many authors who are working so hard to bring other people joy. I see reading as a cultural activity. I love it when I can dream away because of a good story. It's great to enter another world and the mind of someone else. It will never cease to amaze me how many different stories there are to choose from. When I look at my kindle or my bookshelves I'm grateful that I have almost unlimited options.
I think it's important never to forget the joy reading can bring, it's the most valuable lesson that I've been taught. I don't read something because other people read it, I choose a story because I think I'm going to enjoy it and it will make me happy. I don't feel ashamed because of anything I read and I don't feel any pressure to read exactly what someone else is reading. There's enough choice, so I can make up my own mind. It's what warms my heart and what keeps me happy. I'm always hoping that people will pass on the joy of reading. Readers who are having fun will keep reading. In my opinion everyone should be taught how important that is and I've been lucky to have met a teacher who kept making that point. 
Even the most dedicated readers can be discouraged if they are forced to read things they don't like at all on a regular basis. I've lost my reading mojo during my high school years. I didn't like the books we had to read, they were boring and the topics uninteresting. Fortunately I got it back a few years later and I've never read as much as I do now. My hunger to read hundreds of books started ever since my teacher's brilliant lecture. I want to keep spreading these wise words: read what you love and you will love to read.

Apr 23, 2015

Giveaway: L'Occitane Hand Cream and Soap


Enter this giveaway to win L'Occitane products, a tin filled with two tubes of hand cream and a soap and hand cream set. 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.      

Book Review: In Love and War by Lesley Lokko

Nothing fazes Lexi Sturgis. She's faced bullets, battles and bitter rivals to chase news stories other reporters would kill for. Living for risk and adventure, she abides by one rule: don't let anyone get too close.

Jane Marshall is feeling desperate. Her family is in disarray and her once high-flying TV career is sinking. She needs a big scoop, fast - and it seems Lexi might be the one to help.

For dedicated medical student Deena, the horrors of a war-torn Egypt are too shocking to ignore. She travels across the world to offer help, leaving her younger sister shattered with worry.

In a journey fraught with danger, secrets and uncertainty, these women are thrown together in an extraordinary struggle. Can they overcome the pains of their pasts and find the courage to trust each other?

Amazon US Amazon UK

Lexi is fearless, she's a war reporter and she goes wherever the story is. That means she constantly puts herself in danger. She's taking risks and often has to run for her life. She's brave, but also closed off. She isn't letting anyone in, it's safer that way. Until she meets someone who might have a chance. Lexi has one good friend, Jane. Jane is her boss who's desperate to be loved. She needs company and every time she tries to find someone things are going completely wrong. She needs a big idea, she needs it fast and Lexi is the one who's going to make it happen for her. Only what will be the price?

Deena is a medical student who has many secrets. She's found a job as MSF doctor and travels to Egypt to help the wounded. She wants to be where the action is, to save lives. Her sister Ines doesn't want her to go, but she can't convince her sister to stay safe. Deena in danger there and that is when Ines has to face the facts. Her family has kept many secrets from her, things she knew absolutely nothing about, and her sister is very much a part of it.

There is a moment when the paths of Lexi and Deena are going to cross. The inevitable has to happen and I wanted to find out more, I felt like I had to understand the situation. In Love and War is a thrilling read, a book filled with puzzles and questions. If you want everything answered this is not a novel you should pick up. I love it when there's room for me to fill in gaps and when my mind has to work hard to connect all the threads.

There are so many story lines and this isn't an easy read. The story is complex and at first there are people whose stories have nothing in common, but that has to change at some point. There's nothing predictable about this story, so I often wondered what was going to happen next and couldn't wait to find out. The ending is unique and it's fitting as this book is so unusual. It's a novel you have to work for and the result is very rewarding. 

Book Review: Jam and Roses by Mary Gibson

Three sisters are growing up in 1920s Bermondsey - the larder of London - with its bustling docks, its spice mill, tannery and factories.
Southwells jam factory is where many of the girls work. And Milly Colman knows she's lucky. At Southwells she can have a laugh with her mates. She's quick and strong and never misses a day's work. She needs to be. Because at homes things are very different.
The Colman household is ruled by the tyrannical rages of the old man - her father. Often Milly feels she is the only thing protecting her mother and younger sisters from his murderous violence. At least autumn hop-picking in Kent gives all the Colman women a heavenly respite.
But it is here, on one golden September night, that Milly makes the mistake of her life and finds her courage and strength tested as never before.

Amazon US Amazon UK
  
Milly's most unhappy place is home, because her father is a dangerous drunk. Even though she loves her sisters dearly they don't get along too well. They're always stressed, because they have to be watchful all the time. Milly wants to protect her mother and sisters, but she can't be at home all the time. She's working at the Southwells jam factory. Her wages are needed to put food on the table, but secretly Milly dreams of being a dressmaker. Because her father spends most of his wages at the pub it isn't easy to keep themselves fed and clothed. 

Milly's father is always trying to mess up her plans and her dreams. And one night she makes a big mistake with a man who isn't the man she wants to end up with at all. She has to find a way to make life work without having to rely on a husband as she doesn't want to marry a man like her father. Fortunately Milly is strong and resourceful. Even though her troubles are far from over she always manages to find a way to deal with them. Does that also mean she will eventually find a way to handle her father?

Jam and Roses is a beautiful story about a girl who wants to live no matter what her circumstances are. She's poor, but that doesn't mean she can't be happy. She tries to make something of her life and even though it's often tough she lives for the happy moments. I loved that about Milly. She's such a wonderful woman. She has her faults and she tries to deal with them. She isn't perfect, but she's strong and she's fabulous. Family is everything to her and she does whatever she can to protect the people she loves. 

This is such an impressive story. It must have been really hard to be a 1920s factory girl. If working in the fields feels like a holiday then life must have been really tough. I loved the way Mary Gibson describes Milly's life. She shows the reader how things worked back then in a realistic and unromanticised way. Milly isn't afraid to work and she thinks men are her equals, but not every man in her life is willing to accept that. She finds a way to deal with the people who are giving her trouble time after time. For me that was the best part of the book, Milly's endless resilience is so inspiring and it's the heart of this amazing story. 

Apr 22, 2015

Neve Chiarissimi Eye Shadow Palette Giveaway



Enter this giveaway to win a beautiful Neve Chiarissimi eye shadow palette. I love Neve eye shadow and this palette is perfect for the summer. 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.    

I Love Pacifica Island Vanilla Body Wash


I'm a big fan of Pacifica. Their products are vegan and cruelty free and they are absolutely amazing. I love the packaging and Pacifica is a brand with charisma and character. 

I've tried this Island Vanilla body wash and it's the best body wash I've ever used. The scent is divine, it's gentle and the vanilla isn't too sweet, it's perfect. The product is creamy and easy to use. It leaves the skin soft and smooth. It's also perfectly suitable for sensitive skin, which is a big plus for me. 

The price of the product is really decent, especially considering what you receive for it. I think it's an absolute bargain as the quality is amazing. I highly recommend this brand, I love it.

Apr 21, 2015

Books, Tea, Chocolate and Bookmarks Giveaway


Enter this giveaway to win some romantic books and tea and chocolate for while you're reading. Of course I can't give away books without adding any bookmarks. 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.     

Welsh Week: Last Post & Thanks



This is the last post of my Welsh Week. I've enjoyed every minute of it. It was fantastic to read about the rich culture of Wales and I've learned a lot. I've discovered Welsh literature and will love it forever. I also can't wait to visit the countryside to discover more beautiful places. Again I've noticed how kind Welsh people are and that has warmed my heart. 

The past 10 days were wonderful. I worked very hard to manage the event and am glad that I had the help of so many amazing people. I want to thank everyone who helped me to make the Welsh Week a great success. The views have been fantastic (over 47,000 already) and I hope people will continue visiting my website to find Welsh talent. 

Of course my love for Wales won't stop at the end of my Welsh Week. I will actively keep promoting Wales from now on.

I want to thank my co-bloggers Tanya, Anniek and Eline for helping me with my posts. I also want to thank David, Elizabeth Davies, Louise Marley, Anne Bennett, Chloe Hammond, June Francis, Emma Bennet, Juliet Greenwood, and Valerie-Anne Baglietto for writing guest posts. I enjoyed interviewing Kay, J. Anderson Coats, Emma Kavanagh, Menna Lloyd and Kat Ellis. I had so much fun reviewing and interviewing Etsy sellers Sarah, Chloe, Maggie, Jill, Nicola, Cathy, Yukiko, Quil, Kim, Kate (also many thanks for all your lovely comments), Robyn, Hazel and Sue. I'd like to thank Honno Press for their lovely books. I'd like to thank Valerie-Anne Baglietto, Jaimie Admans, Emma Bennet, Emma Kavanagh, Kat Ellis, June Francis, Elizabeth Davies, Juliet Greenwood, Louise Marley, Eloise Williams and Anne Bennett for sending me their books. I'd like to thank Dizzy Dots, Penlanlas, Bryony Jade,Earthbound Organics, Your Gift House, Adra, Scribbelicious, Angelic Hen and Personalized Jewellery. I also want to thank everyone who contributed with a giveaway, I feel loved, honored and thrilled that you've given me the confidence. Last, but not least I want to thank all the people who have shared my posts on social media. I hope I haven't forgotten anyone and if I have it wasn't intentional. I love you all.

The best thing of this week for me was the lovely chats with the people who helped me with this week. I've definitely made some new friends which is the best reward I could have ever received.

A big cwtch for everyone who has helped me to make this Welsh Week a success!



The amazing books we reviewed:



Great guest posts & interviews:



Fabulous shops:



Suzanne's own giveaways:


Apr 20, 2015

Welsh Week: Love Me Tender by Anne Bennett - Review and Giveaway

A heartrending tale of love and tragedy during The Birmingham Blitz. Perfect for fans of Katie Flynn and Annie Groves.
For Kathy O’Malley, life has not been easy with her husband, Barry, out of work and with two children to feed. Then when war breaks out in 1939, many of the local men enlist, including Barry, leaving the women to cope as best they can.
The years that follow are full of hardship: rationing, nightly air raids and endless shifts working at the local munitions factory all take their toll on Kathy who longs to feel the strong arms of her husband around her once more.
When she meets Doug, a handsome American GI, she is drawn immediately drawn to him but determined to honour her marriage vows. But after she receives a telegram informing that her husband is missing, presumed dead, she makes a decision that will have consequences, not just for herself, but for the lives of all those she loves too…

Amazon US Amazon UK

Review

Kathy O'Malley's husband Barry has been out of work for years. The family is poor and they can only clothe and feed their two children with the help of Kathy's parents. When Hitler becomes a greater threat England has to start preparing for war and that is when Barry finally finds a job. Soon he enlists and is being sent away. Kathy has to manage home while she's pregnant again and when the war breaks out Birmingham isn't a safe city to live in. After several bombings Kathy decides to send her two eldest children away, it's with pain in her heart, but it's better for them to be safe. She has to take a job and there are people who need a place to stay, so she's never alone, but that doesn't mean she's not lonely. She misses her husband and children dearly. When she meets a handsome American GI she's instantly drawn to him, which is why she can better avoid the man. Only that isn't very easy.

Meanwhile Lizzy is living in the countryside. She's moved from a back-to-back house to a large country home. The woman who's taken her and her brother in is rich. She can easily afford to have two extra mouths to feed and the children are living a life of luxury. For Lizzy it's a happy time. She lives with kind people, has found a great best friend and the son of the woman she's living with is very handsome. Only when the son shows interest in the young girl trouble is starting.

Love Me Tender is a book about a family that has been torn apart by the war. They're all living somewhere else and times are difficult. Because of the war everyone is more reckless and people are inclined to do things they wouldn't have done otherwise. It greatly impressed me to read about that time and the hard lives a lot of the people were living. I felt so bad for Kathy for everything she has to endure while getting so little sympathy. She's very strong and the same goes for her daughter, they never give up.

What I liked about this book is that the story felt very realistic. It was about a family with family trouble that could have really happened during the war. That made me feel their pain more and also their joy. Love Me Tender is a beautiful story about love in many different ways. It's never black and white. With over 500 pages this isn't a short read, it's a book that needs to be enjoyed slowly. It's a book that deserves time and dedication from the reader. I'm grateful that I've been able to read Love Me Tender as it's a really good book.

Author information

Anne Bennett grew up in Birmingham, but is now living in North Wales. She writes for Harper Collins and Love Me Tender will be republished next month.

Giveaway

The winner of this giveaway will receive a pre-order copy of Love Me Tender via The Bookdepository. 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.      

Welsh Week: I Love Sjegan! & Giveaway


I love Sjegan, Fragment Designs Handcrafted Jewellery by Sarah Jane Egan. It's such a fantastic shop filled with gorgeous jewelry.


Everything in this shop is so pretty, original and accessible.


Sarah makes both silver and gold jewelry. And She has a wedding band collection that's absolutely stunning.


There's something for everyone in this shop as Sarah's jewelry can be worn by men, women and children.


I've asked Sarah a few questions to find out more about her and her shop.

1) How does Wales come back in your work?

Wales is a really really beautiful place to live, with green and nature everywhere. Even the cities are full of parks! Without a doubt this prevalence of nature has a bearing on my work, I use a lot of Oak, Ash, and Fern leaf textures which are the trees I see around me. More specifically my dinosaur range came directly out of a part time job I had in the National Museum Geology dept.



2) What about the country inspires you?

The green, the trees, the fact that if I'm having a rubbish day I can go for a 5 minute walk and see the amazing Caerphilly castle and feel like a child in a fairytale ...the people aren't half bad either. 


3) Where have you learned your craft?

I am mostly self taught. I started in Dublin with a few intro to jewellery making classes in a bead shop and then my Dad signed me up for a weekend silversmithing course. As soon as I heard the satisfying quench noise of hot metal in water I was hooked! I did a few other courses, a week here, a day there and I got some tools and a lot of books and played and had fun. 


4) What is your favourite place in Wales?

The castles! They make me feel like I'm in a fairytale. If I have to pick a castle probably Caerphilly castle for grandeur and scale, but Castle Coch for the jaw dropping effect of walking into the court yard and feeling like you're in a medieval movie....That's two places but I'm not picking just one! 


5) What should people who don’t know the country definitely know about Wales?

There are castles everywhere, lovely people, amazing scenery and some of the beaches are absolutely stunning. And luckily the weather is better than you expect, or at least it is coming from Dublin!


6) I would love to read more about you and your Etsy shop if you’d like to add this information as well.

I'm originally Irish, living in Wales almost 6 years now. Myself and my fiancé moved here to study teaching, which I did that for a year and a half in Cardiff before my health problems put a stop to it. Even before I left Dublin I wanted to make something of my jewellery, but it was very much just a hobby. I set up a bench and while I was teaching, on the rare occasion I had some free time I would go play on my bench. For years I have had some back problems and while teaching I was stressed and it wasn't really something I was enjoying, so the pain became worse, I was having trouble walking up stairs due to a disc issue in my lower back and coming home crying with pounding headaches from my neck pain. I was on a lot of painkillers and eventually I got signed off sick somewhat indefinitely. I had at this stage had a few sales on etsy; 4 or 5, and it didn't feel it was fair to mess my students around, so I handed in my notice and said its now or never. It was pretty terrifying especially since my fiancé was also unemployed at the time, but it didn't feel like I had an option. Luckily he got a job, and I got a few hours part time in the National Museum which I could just about manage pain wise. With the stress of teaching gone, my pain started to get better, I threw myself into yoga and reading about pain management and found that with regular breaks I could actually get stuff done and have a life. The jewellery became my main focus, it allowed me to do something I loved, and also to take the breaks I needed. I changed my diet, veggie and dairy free and I managed to get off all the pain pills. I had been routinely taking 12 a day, now I occasionally take one or two on a bad day, I can go weeks without popping a pill. My shop kept growing and growing, and I got a great Physio (Karen Fuller) and I was able to start doing some offline stuff too, I got involved in pop ups, Made in Britain in Bristol for example. I stopped needing to work in the museum, I did keep it up for a while as a social thing but it became that I was too busy with my jewellery to do that. Last May we moved house to Caerphilly from Cardiff and I have more room and a garden and the business and me are going from strength to strength. I'm really really excited to get a shed built, power up my kiln and start my glass work again! And my wedding is (finally) planned for the start of next month. I will of course be making my own rings :)


 I think these rings are gorgeous, I love everything in Sarah's shop.


The jewelry has been made with much love and attention and it shows.


I like this shop very much and am really happy I've discovered it.


Enjoy shopping! It's such a joy to look at Sarah's beautiful jewelry.


One of my readers will receive a fantastic prize.


This very lucky person will receive a set of five sterling silver bunny earrings. I love it and there are so many combinations that can be made with them. 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.    
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