Nov 30, 2014

Sunday's Fabulous Freebie: The Trouble With Goodbye by Sarra Cannon

Two years ago, Leigh Anne Davis shocked everyone in tiny Fairhope, Georgia when she broke up with her wealthy boyfriend to attend an Ivy League university a thousand miles away. At school, she finds a happiness and independence she's never known.

Until one terrifying night takes it all away from her.

With no place else to go, Leigh Anne heads home to reclaim her old life. A life she worked so hard to escape. On the outside, she seems like the same girl everyone has always known. But deep inside, she's hiding a terrible secret.

That's when she meets Knox Warner, a troubled newcomer to Fairhope. His eyes have the same haunted look she sees every day in the mirror, and when she's near him, the rest of the world fades away. But being with Knox would mean disappointing everyone all over again. If she wants to save what's left of her old life, she has no choice but to say goodbye to him forever.

Only, the trouble with goodbye is that sometimes it's about courage and sometimes it's about fear. And sometimes you're too broken to know the difference until it's too late.
   
Amazon

Review by Anniek

The story begins with Leigh Anne coming back into her hometown. She gets into an accident and then meets Knox. Even though she tries to fit in again with her old friends and her old lifestyle she knows that she can't go back to it. She has changed because of a horrific act that happend to her.  With no support of her parents Leigh Anne is trying to become her own person and to be whole again. Knox is the greatest man she has ever met. Can he help her to face the truth or will his own past stand in the way of that? One thing is for sure they have found true love in each other.

I finished this story before I even knew it. This book fills your heart with so much love and I even teared up when Leigh Anne finally confides in Knox about what happend to her. The people who read this blog regularly will know that I usually choose other type of genres to read, but this book came with such good recommendations that I just had to try it. Without a doubt I am so happy that I did. Sarra Cannon lets you feel what the characters in the book are feeling and has you cheering from your couch for team Leigh Anne and Knox!
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Recommendation from Amazon.com:

This is Book 1 of the Fairhope series. While each book can be read as a stand-alone, some characters, interactions, and events will be more meaningful if you follow this series from the beginning.

Book 1: The Trouble With Goodbye (*FREE)
Book 2: The Moment We Began
Book 3: A Season For Hope
Book 4: The Fear of Letting Go

The Twelve Days of New Adult Giveaway Hop



I love to read New Adult books which is why I signed up for this hop. Because Aurelia B. Rowl's Christmas Is Cancelled will come out on December 1st I've chosen her Popping the Cherry series as the books I will be promoting with this giveaway. I love these stories and hope you will put them on your Christmas wish list.


I'm giving away the 2 Popping the Cherry ebooks and Christmas is Cancelled or $15 to spend on books from either the Bookdepository or Amazon, winner's choice. I will also add some lovely surprise mail. 


I will contact the winner of this giveaway on twitter or by email. If I don't get a reply within 60 hours the prize will go to someone else. The giveaways on my blog are always worldwide. Good luck!

Getting to know Emma Davies

Getting to know Emma Davies
So what do I like to do apart from reading and writing? … erm ….. that’s actually really difficult as I’ve been doing both from such an early age it’s a bit like having Tom without Jerry, Batman without Robin or rhubarb without custard! I feel a little bare without these two things to be honest but I thought I’d throw in some random facts which actually capture me quite well;
I’ve never met a Pringle I didn’t like.
My favourite colour is autumn.
I have a thing for men with Scottish accents.
If I were brave enough I would wear this;
I wish my hair was curly, as in corkscrews.
I had all our three children at home with no pain relief of any kind! (Bragging fact).
My idea of heaven is an open fire in the bedroom.
I once had my own business making wedding stationery. It was called Flora’s Secret and all the designs featured natural materials along with organza ribbons, and pearls.
If I were alive in 1500 I would have probably been burnt at the stake; red hair, green eyes, and a mole in an unfortunate place… (Too much information fact).
I’m not a lover of fish (as in dead ones to eat).
When I was younger I owned a narrow boat which I renovated with my parents. I absolutely loved it and hope one day to have another (Ideal place to write of course) Love canals, and rivers and the sea (preferably wild in winter).


I love Microsoft Publisher and have designed loads of business brochures for friends etc.
I sing loudly in the car.
Favourite quote: ‘And memories he knew, were not treasures to be locked within a box, but bright ribbons to be blown in the wind.’
Thing I’d save in a fire (provided my husband, children, and guinea pigs got out first) my books, of course!!

Christmas Countdown Giveaway: German Christmas Traditions by Isabell




German Christmas Traditions
From the Christmas tree to the Christmas market, it's all German. Learn about beloved German Christmas traditions and find out how Germans celebrates the holiday season.


1. Germany's Christmas Markets

Almost every German city celebrates the holiday season with a traditional Christmas market. The fairs, which date back to the 15th century, originally provided food and practical supplies for the cold winter season, but soon the markets became a beloved holiday tradition and a great way to get into the Christmas spirit. Today over 2500 Christmas markets all over Germany invite visitors to get into the festive mood. The market is usually located on the city’s central square and commonly features a nativity scene; bigger cities might offer a central stage for traditional musicians and dancers. Vendors offer a wide range of gifts that are often still handcrafted, as well as a mouthwatering array of grilled sausages and meats, fried fish filets on a fresh bread rolls and an unending variety of specialty sweets, confections and baked goods. Christmas markets are a treat for all the senses – beautiful to behold, delicious scents wafting through the air and a definitive feast for the taste buds.


2. German Mulled Wine


On a cold day, nothing will warm you up faster than a mug of steaming Glühwein. This quintessential Christmas market beverage consists of hot mulled red wine, with an optional shot of brandy. Most major cities in Germany serve Glühwein in ceramic mugs specifically designed for the local Christmas markets.


3. German Christmas Stollen
German Stollen, a loaf-shaped fruitcake made of yeast, water and flour, is traditionally eaten around Christmas time in Germany. The treat, which was first baked in Dresden in the 14th century, is filled with nuts, raisins, candied citrus, and spices, and its form is said to represent Baby Jesus in swaddling clothes.


4. Advent Wreath

Many Germans celebrate the 4 weeks leading up to Christmas with a lighted Advent wreath; every Sunday in December, a new candle on the wreath is lit, and many families sing Christmas carols and eat cookies or a piece of Christmas Stollen.


Saturday's Etsy Favorites


Eleven 11 Designs
Chris Os Creations
Abide Works
Jewelry by Florist
Wyoming Hammered
My Sweet Crochet
Tunic Botik
Velma Jewelry
Panpanhome


I've made a selection of my Etsy favorites for you again. Enjoy shopping!

Nov 29, 2014

Agi and Lavender's Christmas Countdown!! & Huge Giveaway!




Hi lovely bloggers, authors, friends! We'd love to welcome you to our Christmas feature "Christmas Countdown" that is going to run through the whole advent and end with a cracker bang effect with a great giveaway.

Thanks to the very best friends that we have, we were able to go along with the feature. We wouldn't be able to do this alone, so once again, biggest, fattest, smoochy THANK YOU to all of you who decided to dedicate us some of their precious time and write one of the best Guest Posts ever and sponsor one of the loveliest giveaway prizes ever.

So, what is Christmas Countdown about? Well, every single day we are going to post a Guest Post together with a giveaway. Every day 2 gifts are going to be added to the Rafflecopter. On 24th December we are going to draw a lot of winners: one main one, who's going to receive 24 (!!!) prizes and 23 other winners, who are going to receive one gift each. I hope I made it clear enough? 24 winners altogether! And the giveaway is open internationally!

But that's not all. We, Agi and Lavender, will be running an extra giveaway for all of you who helped us to create this feature, all of you who wrote a guest post and sponsor the prizes. One of you wonderful people is going to win a special present from us. (And you can of course enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!).

So, let the Christmas spirit envelop you! We are starting tomorrow and here is the schedule for the next couple of weeks:


Giveaway conditions:
  • The winner/s will be announced here/on Twitter and/or on Facebook shortly after the giveaway ends and notified by email.
  • The winner has 48 hours to respond to the winning email before a new winner will be chosen. (Please be sure to check your SPAM folder!)
  • We are not responsible for the gifts! We are relying on our friends to get their present to you.
  • The main winner must herself/himself stay alert if he/she got all the presents.
  • The prizes may change! It's up to the authors of the post what they're sending.

One Hundred Christmas Proposals by Holly Martin

Amazon

 Review by Tanya
Holly has written another great story that has you oohing and aahing in all the right places. The story is about the proposal business, the Perfect Proposal that Suzie and Harry run aiming to have and blog about 100 proposals over the Christmas period.  This will hopefully cumulate in a fantastically romantic proposal for a man called Alexander at St Dunstan-in-the-East, which is the biggest and best of them all with musicians, special lights, a snow machine and a party afterwards with lots of guests. Suzie Is working hard on this proposal hoping it will live up to its expectations and be a great finish to their 100 Christmas proposals.
Harry has a surprise gift for Suzie and seems to be sneaking around sorting things out. This initially upsets Suzie as she thinks there is something going on. When Harry says that it's her Christmas present and that she will get it on New Year’s Eve she is happier. The fact that her parents are visiting is a bit of a worry though, especially since her sister in law is now seeing her belated brother’s best friend and she knows this is going to be a problem. Her mum is outspoken and often rude in what she says to others and she manages to upset the good nature of many of the characters.
Will Harry succeed with his surprise presents?  Will Alexander have the fantastic proposal that he's planning or will the snow put a stop to it?  Will Harry like the surprise Suzie has for him? Will Harry and Suzie ever set a date for their wedding?
Of course as a reader you have a big idea what the surprise is going to be and this makes it great as you want Suzie to have a fantastic time. I didn’t doubt that things would be right in the end as you know that Harry and Suzie are made for each other. I really enjoyed this book and have recommended it to many people already. It has a great feel good Christmas factor to it and in fact I may read it again before Christmas to get into the spirit of it. 

Nov 28, 2014

Elephant's Factory is The Etsy Seller of the Week! & Giveaway


My Etsy Seller of the Week is Elephant's Factory. I love this shop because of the beautiful, original items. The owner, Glory, uses her drawings to make jewelry, keychains, magnets and pins.


I think Glory is very talented and I really like her drawings. She can also draw your pets and make items of your choice with your beloved animal.


I've asked Glory a few questions, so you can find out more about this interesting lady.

1) Where did you learn to draw like this?

I like drawing and hand making since I was in kindergarten. I created my own characters, and draw story of them. With my mama’s help, I also made my characters as cloth dolls sometimes. When I grew up, I started to play with other handmade materials such as modeling clay and papers, but I always kept focusing on creating characters. I only need a hint when I create them, like a toy, a glass or even a color, then I fill in the rest with my imagination.

2) What inspires you?

 Like most shy kids, I prefer reading instead of talking, books were the most important inspiration for me during my childhood. Right now, my inspiration is from my surrounding world, especially my cat “Pangli” (which means fat ball in English). I observe people and animals, catch their expression and emotion and try to imagine the background of them. People and animals are always my favorite subjects, when I draw food and plants I will add human face to them.
I’m still shy now that I'm an adult, with a rich inner world, I've been thinking about sharing my world with others for a long time, but didn’t know the best way to do that. I want my drawings to have a function instead of just being a drawing. 


3) How did you get the idea to make shrinky dink versions of your drawings? 

After 2 years of studying - I gained my master degree in Animation major of the Savannah College of Art and Design - it was time for me to find a job. My industry now is tight and tough for a beginner compared to a few years ago. I've been lucky with my first job as a lighting artist in Blue Sky Studio (the creator of Ice age and Rio), but after the contract ended I couldn’t find any staff positions. I worked as a freelance artist for most of 2013, which gave me lots of spare time. Meanwhile, one of my friends introduced shrinky dinks to me. When I made my first shrinky dink keychain, I knew I found something. 


4) When and how did you start on Etsy?
Elephant’s Factory was born in October 2013, I first opened my Etsy shop first and then joined the holiday session of Long Island city Flea Market (LIC flea market) in December.


As a super beginner in Business, I gained tons of experience in both ways. People don't only show their interest, but also give me many ideas of what to make. Right now, my products are including key chains, pins, earrings, necklace and pet tags... and the products about my cat Pangli are always selling the best.


 4) What are your plans for the future?

Since April 2014, I got a full time job in Framestore (a visual effects and commercial studio), but business for Elephant’s Factory is still continuing. For the future, I want to try some different styles in Shrinky Dink products, and create some new products with other materials. There are lots of new things I would like to try, such as felt and clay. I hope I will have more time to spend on my creating next year


Glory's drawings are detailed and I love the choice of colors. They're vibrant and they have a vintage look and feel.


What I also like is that there are several options you'll be able to choose from. The necklaces are beaded and they come in several different designs. It's also possible to have a matching necklace and pin.


Many adults and children will be so happy with Glory's drawings of their pets. I think they're fantastic!


 Glory has kindly offered a lovely surprise for one very lucky reader of my blog. Enter the rafflecopter to have a chance to win it. Good luck!




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

 

Guest Post: Going Back to Those Middle School Memories and the “Cool Table”


Going Back to Those Middle School Memories and the “Cool Table”
By Krysten Lindsay Hager 
Writing about Landry and her friends in eighth grade certainly does bring back memories for me. I can still smell the pencil sharpener in my sixth grade class room…even though I don’t remember anyone using it other than as an excuse to get up and walk around and talk to people. Writing this story puts me right back in the classroom…for better or worse. I remember what it was like to stand in the lunchroom line and how it felt to be offered, “cutsies,” to the front of the line…or to be the person left behind when everyone else got, “cutsies,” and suddenly you were at the back of the line. I think we’ve all tasted both sides of it—being the one who feels great with the group of friends laughing and joking at the lunch table as well as the kid who gets their lunch tray and then scans the room trying to find a place to sit and hoping someone will offer them a seat.
My dad recently had to go for physical therapy in a rehab center after surgery and my mom was telling me how he was hoping to find a new lunch table and how he wanted to sit with one group, but there wasn’t a spot open. I thought, seriously? Even at my dad’s age there’s a cool table?? But alas, there is. (F.Y.I. my dad did get to sit at the table with his friends, but my attempts at humor comparing my story to his situation were lost on him…rather, he was NOT amused.) 
One thing I wanted for Landry in the story, True Colors, was not so much to aspire to sitting at the “cool table,” but to be at the table with friends who really had her back—true friends and not just people to sit with in the cafeteria. I think we all just want to find our place in the world. A place where we can be accepted for who we are and not who we feel we have to pretend to be in order to fit in. I hope I accomplished this for Landry in True Colors. It took me a while to learn this lesson, but I’m finally at the “table” I feel most comfortable at and you know what? It feels like the cool table to me.

Nov 27, 2014

Dreams Can Come True by Caroline Roberts


“Dreams Can Come True”

Hi, I’m Caroline and my wonderful news is that I’m finally about to achieve my dream of becoming a published author. “The Torn Up Marriage”, my contemporary women’s fiction novel about the bomb of an affair, is going to be released on the 5th March 2015, published by Harper Impulse, part of Harper Collins! I still don’t quite believe it – don’t suppose I will until I hold the book or kindle version in my hands. That will be a very special moment indeed.

My journey as a writer to this point hasn’t been an easy one.  Well, the writing itself was fine, I have always enjoyed sitting down with pen, paper, laptop and letting my imagination take me off into a whole new world, but the submission process was an endurance course. I know many of you may already be at various points on that journey, and at times, especially when the rejections from agents and publishers keep rolling in, which always hurts, you are probably wondering what on earth you are doing this for. So I hope these tips, learnt from my experiences along the way, might help a little:

  • Write about what you are passionate or curious about. To write a whole novel you need to love what you are writing. That will also come across when you get to pitching your work. Think of it as a marathon, it’s going to take a long time and a lot of work. But don’t let that overwhelm you either, write every day if you can, (though I don’t always manage that myself, sometimes life and the day job take over!) and just chunk the work up into smaller pieces, so for example just focus on the next scene.
  • Read. Enjoying other writers’ work, seeing how they create a great plot, the hooks, the characters and emotions, rubs off on you as a writer. You are always learning your craft, even when you are reading  just for pleasure.
  • Don’t rush your submissions. You’ve probably spent a year writing this book, so why rush off a submission in a half hour? Do your research on the company or person you are applying to (preferably submit to a named individual). Think about why them and how your work might fit with their portfolio or that publishing brand, and personalise the letter if you can. Comment if you’ve met them at a conference or talk, read that they are interested in debut authors, have similar authors on their list etc. READ THE GUIDELINES AND SUBMIT EXACTLY AS THEY WISH. (See my blog page, http://carolinerobertswriter.blogspot.co.uk/ in particular “Riding the Rejections” and “The Submission Rollercoaster” for more information and advice on this.)
  • Network. My big break –  I was actually offered two book deals by two major publishers on the same day after 10 years writing and over 5 years submitting! - came after 1:1’s at a writers’ conference. Just chatting to other writers, finding a support network of other like-minded people, doing workshops, and exploring social media connections help so much. It took me quite some time to realise just how important that can be. I live in a very rural area so there wasn’t that much locally, but I set myself away to the Romantic Novelists’ Association Conference  (I write in a romantic genre), booked myself for some one-to-one pitches there (gulp!)and that was probably the best thing I ever did – other than write the novels of course. You may not be able to get along to a conference, but there are many talks, book fairs, library events and writing groups around, so ask about and look in magazines like Writers’ Forum and Writing Magazine.
  • NO-ONE CAN TELL YOU YOU’RE NOT A REAL WRITER JUST BECAUSE YOU AREN’T PUBLISHED YET. You are a real writer just an unpublished one! Hold your head high, be proud of what you have achieved, be it a short story , a poem, a novel or three.
  • GOOD LUCK! KEEP WRITING! HOLD ON TO YOUR DREAM And give yourself some TLC. When the rejections roll in - sorry, but they inevitably will, unless you are one of the very lucky few - try not to take it too personally, easier said than done I know, but just keep going, keep writing what you love, (go off and have that glass of wine, chocolate cake, hug, preferably all 3 in my case, to cheer yourself up) and one day somebody else will love it too, and you might just be bagging yourself a book deal!

Very best wishes to you all,

Caroline x

Follow me on Twitter: @_caroroberts
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Caroline-Roberts/724818694232080
And my blogspot for more detailed submission and writing tips: http://carolinerobertswriter.blogspot.co.uk/

Nov 26, 2014

Labor Day by Joyce Maynard

With the end of summer closing in and a steamy Labor Day weekend looming in the town of Holton Mills, New Hampshire, thirteen-year-old Henry—lonely, friendless, not too good at sports—spends most of his time watching television, reading, and daydreaming about the soft skin and budding bodies of his female classmates. For company Henry has his long-divorced mother, Adele—a onetime dancer whose summer project was to teach him how to foxtrot; his hamster, Joe; and awkward Saturday-night outings to Friendly's with his estranged father and new stepfamily. As much as he tries, Henry knows that even with his jokes and his "Husband for a Day" coupon, he still can't make his emotionally fragile mother happy. Adele has a secret that makes it hard for her to leave their house, and seems to possess an irreparably broken heart.
But all that changes on the Thursday before Labor Day, when a mysterious bleeding man named Frank approaches Henry and asks for a hand. Over the next five days, Henry will learn some of life's most valuable lessons: how to throw a baseball, the secret to perfect piecrust, the breathless pain of jealousy, the power of betrayal, and the importance of putting others—especially those we love—above ourselves. And the knowledge that real love is worth waiting for. 

Amazon

Henry is a thirteen year old boy who's living with his unusual mother. Adele used to be a dancer and she loved life until something tragic happened to her. Henry's father has a new family now and Henry hasn't got the feeling that he's a part of it. He belongs with his mother. She doesn't leave the house very much, sometimes it takes weeks before she even goes out to buy groceries. She tells Henry stories about the past and about life and he patiently listens to everything she has to say. He knows his life isn't standard and that he isn't a great sportsman and thus not very popular, but he doesn't mind. The only thing he wants is for something to happen and his wish does come through when he meets Frank. Frank needs help and Henry and his mother are the people who are giving it to him. Frank teaches Henry a lot of useful things in the few days they are spending together. He changes Adele completely and she finally comes out of her shell again. In the few days before Labor Day Frank makes both the lives of Henry and his mother a lot better. Henry has a lot of very important lessons to learn that summer and some of his actions have grave consequences.
The atmosphere in the house where Henry lives with his mother is tense. Henry has to be the responsible one as his mother clearly isn't able to be there for him in the way she should be. He knows that and because he loves her he accepts her the way she is. His relationship with his father is a difficult one and they aren't very close even though they see each other regularly. Frank understands Henry and Adele which is wonderful. Even though he's got a troubled background Henry and Adele don't judge him and let him tell his own story. I liked that a lot. Labor Day is such a beautiful story with special people in it. They're all broken in some kind of way, which makes them even more interesting. Love plays an important role for every main character, which is such an important message. I also liked seeing into the mind of Henry, it gives the story something extra. I loved this book and am so happy I had the chance to read it. 

Getting to Know the very talented Alba! & Giveaway



My name is Alba, I’m 26 and I live in Barcelona. My big passions in life are reading, crafting and baking. I have always loved reading, my parents used to read me stories every night when I was a toddler and then since I learned to read, I have always had a book to read very close.
Then there’s crafting. I love creating. I draw, I paint, I sew… and I love learning new techniques and methods. I am a big fan of felt, because it is very easy to use and you can make all these cute little animals and figures that are perfect for a keychain or decorations. My sister is also very creative and she has been doing patchwork for more than a year now and has taught me a lot of things. I am also learning to knit now. It’s so cool that there are videos about everything on youtube!
 

Now I would like to talk to you about my newest project, my Esty shop: Books and Butterflies https://www.etsy.com/shop/BooksButterflies  It all started because both my sisters in law had babies a couple of months ago and I wanted to make them something special so I decided to personalise a couple of tote bags for them with the names of their babies.


Then a couple of friends saw them and asked if I could make them a tote bag too. And then my mum and my sister saw them… and it kind of spiralled. Plus when I posted some of them on Twitter all the lovely people there loved them too and encouraged me to open an Etsy shop and here I am.
In my bags I try to combine my two passions: reading and crafting. So I love using quotes from books or messages about reading in them.
C:\Users\Alba\Pictures\Books and Butterflies\Bags Collage.jpg

I have decided that in all the orders I get until Christmas I am also going to send a surprise handmade Christmas decoration, so I am now working on them now, have a look: 


 
Twitter: @LostIn_Chicklit
Thanks Lavender for having me! I love having a look at your blog every day because you always something beautiful to share! 

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I'm really grateful that Alba has written this fabulous guest post with a very generous giveaway for me. I'm glad I've met her as she's such a wonderful person and she's very talented. I love our twitter chats and Alba has a great blog and Etsy shop. Check them out, you're going to love them! 
Alba makes beautiful bookish tote bags. They are the perfect Christmas present for anyone who loves to read. Enjoy shopping! 
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