Showing posts with label Australia Days. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Australia Days. Show all posts

Dec 16, 2015

Australia Days: Beaded Choker Necklace Giveaway

Enter this giveaway for a chance to win a beautiful beaded choker made by Makeutock. 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.

Dec 15, 2015

Australia Days Book Review: 12 Days at Silver Bells House by Jennie Jones

Amazon USA Amazon UK Amazon Au
Review by Suze

Because her friend Sammy is so happy in Swallow's Fall Kate decides to go there to give herself some breathing space. She has twelve days to make a tough decision. She's also looking forward to some time to relax with a lot of Chardonnay. Only the house she's supposed to stay in isn't free at all. Someone named Jamie has bought it. As Kate has nowhere to go he allows her to stay. That's already the second time he's rescued her in the short time she's there. Fashion designer Kate isn't used to life in the country, yet...

At first Kate is supposed to stay a few days, but Jamie likes her company. While she's sharing his house with him Kate has the time to think things through. She tries to be independent, but the town won't let her struggle on her own. The people of Swallow's Fall make sure they involve her (and Jamie) in the town's Christmas preparations. The inhabitants of Swallow's Fall are charming and Kate is having a good time. Will she be able to leave everything behind when it's time to go back to the city again?

12 Days at Silver Bells House is such a great festive story. I enjoyed the Christmas spirit very much. Kate is a wonderful main character. She needs to find herself again and her stay in Swallow's Fall will certainly help her to do that. Jamie is gorgeous and kind. He does everything for the people he cares about, I always love that in a main character. They have a great connection and fabulous chemistry. 

If you're looking for an amazing Christmas story set in Australia you should definitely read 12 Days at Silver Bells House. It's fun and it's got the right Christmas spirit. The extra addition is lovely, such a sweet continuation of the story. I'm a big fan of the Swallow's Fall series and can't wait to read more of it. 

Australia Days: Turquoise & Jasper Bracelets Giveaway

Enter this giveaway for a chance to win two turqoise and a jasper gemstone bracelet made by TJBsimplebeauty. 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.

Dec 14, 2015

Australia Days: Interview with Helen J Rolfe & Giveaway!

About Helen J Rolfe

My English teacher at school told me to never give up on my dream of becoming a writer. Somehow I ended up with a business degree and a job as a computer programmer, but I never forgot her wise words and encouragement. 

In August 2000 I answered my call to adventure and headed to Australia where I ended up living for fourteen years. I made my home in Melbourne for just over nine of those years and in 2003 I left the I.T. industry and began my writing career as a freelancer.

After a relocation to Sydney and with more time on my hands once the kids started school, I continued freelancing for women's health and fitness magazines, I studied four units of a Masters in Writing and finally I realised that all I wanted to do was become an author.

Australia will always hold a special place in my heart but in 2014 the pull of family brought us back to the UK to live, and we have relocated to Hertfordshire.

Aside from writing and reading, my passions include yoga and Pilates, chocolate and a good measure of Baileys on ice :-)


1) Could you tell a bit about yourself?

I'm a mum of two, living with my husband and children in Hertfordshire. I've been writing fiction seriously since 2011 and now have three books published. It's my dream career for sure!

2) Suze: You've lived in Australia for a long time, but are now living in the UK again. Why have you chosen to set your stories in Australia?

My first three stories were already well and truly underway (two were almost finished) before we returned to the UK and my third novel, What Rosie Found Next, is set in the fictitious town of Magnolia Creek. It's the first in the Magnolia Creek Series so I'll still be setting my books in Australia for a little while yet.
I think when you've lived somewhere for such a long time (14 years) the way of life becomes ingrained in you and it's easier to write when you've had such close experience with the setting.
I'm thinking of writing a Christmas novel for 2016 however, and I think that'll be set in the UK. Really looking forward to writing it as it'll be something totally different for me.

3) Suze/Tanya What's your favourite place in Australia? Australia is a big place where would you tell a first time visitor that they should visit and why?

My favourite place / city is Melbourne. I love everything from the climate and the outdoor lifestyle, to the cosmopolitan feel and the friendly people. I really miss it, especially when I'm answering these sorts of questions. I lived in Sydney for 5 years but never fell in love with it the same way unfortunately.

There are so many places you should visit! Melbourne and Sydney are top of my list...both fabulous, yet different cities. Melbourne is gorgeous with its little laneways, the culture, the easiness of the city for finding your way around. Sydney has the stunning harbour, amazing beaches. I'd recommend going up to Palm Beach for's the setting for Home and Away and it's lovely. Some days I'd treat myself and drive up there as it was only half an hour from our house, and I'd take a book and sit on the grass by Snapperman Beach. Okay, now I'm missing Australia heaps!!

The Great Barrier Reef is another must. I snorkelled, went up in a helicopter to see the heart-shaped reef, went to Hamilton Island and South Molle. Amazing stuff. 

4) Tanya: You seem very knowledgeable about bush fires is it something you have to deal with regularly? Or something that you have unfortunately have experience off?

Bushfires are a way of life in Australia. We always lived in the suburbs but not in the country so it wasn't a massive concern for us. I have friends and a brother who live out in the country however, so for them they have to be extra careful. I interviewed Elissa Jans for my research for What Rosie Found Next and she works as a volunteer with the CFA (Country Fire Authority). They do an amazing job every year and the fact that it's voluntary is outstanding, showing how Aussies pull together so well.

5) Suze: Your main characters have been through a lot, where do you find inspiration to tell their life stories?

I like to create characters who are real and have challenges that any one of us may face, whether it's a health scare (Handle Me with Care), family problems (What Rosie Found Next), or running away from a past (The Friendship Tree). I get my inspiration from all around me, what I read in the newspaper, see on the television, my own life experiences.

6) Tanya/Suze Your female main character in What Rosie Found Next, is very strong and determined do you think that is a quality that you have? What do you like most about her?

I'm not sure I'm quite as strong as Rosie, but I'm proud of the way she turned out when I created her. She's had her challenges and tries to do the right thing and Rosie isn't afraid to stand up for herself either. And she always sees the best in people too which I really like. I think sometimes people can come across in a different way when they have something going on in their life, but Rosie sees the good in people. 

7) Tanya: Is there a particular place in Australia that you would like to visit again and who with?

Of course...I'd love to go to Melbourne again with my family as we have lots of friends there. One day we will but not for a while yet. It's a long way!

8) Tanya/Suze What are your plans this Christmas? As Christmas is part of your novel, could you tell your experience of Christmas in Australia versus Christmas in the UK?

This Christmas it'll be the first in our new house so we're very excited! Our neighbour has invited us for drinks in the morning so while the turkey is cooking I'll have a glass of Prosecco i'm sure :-) We will have lunch at home and then we all love the Christmas movies so we'll be watching a few of them. 
Christmas in Australia was never too different for us, apart from the weather. We still had the big dinner even if it meant putting the air conditioning on!

9) Tanya/Suze You always describe food really well in your novels, where does your inspiration for it come from? As we are on the run up to Christmas could you describe what you will be eating?

Wow, I never realised I described food so well! It must be all those lovely Aussie restaurants I went to during my time there. I lived a five minute walk from Southbank and they have the most amazing seafood there. 

We will be having turkey of course, with pigs in blankets, gravy, a selection of vegetables. Usually we're all too full for dessert straight away but I'll get some mini Christmas puddings for later in the afternoon. I'm really hoping it doesn't rain so we can all get outside for a walk and work off some of the Christmas dinner!

10) Suze: What are your 3 favourite Australian writers or books?

I love Lianne Moriarty, Dianne Blacklock and Monica McInerney. I started reading Monica McInerney's books a few years ago and I loved the settings...really vivid. Lianne Moriarty has written two incredible books: The Husband's Secret and Big Little Lies so I'm a lifelong fan!

11) What can we expect from you in the future?

I'm working on book 4 - first run through since completing the first draft so I'm hoping that'll be out in 2016 some time. It'll be a standalone book but book 2 in the Magnolia Creek Series so will have some of the same characters who appeared in What Rosie Found Next. It has been a lot of fun to write and I fell in love with Magnolia Creek.


One very lucky reader of my blog will receive kindle copies of The Friendship Tree, Handle Me with Care and What Rosie Found Next. 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.

Dec 13, 2015

Australia Days Book Review: Mistress of Greyladies by Anna Jacobs

Amazon USA Amazon UK Amazon Au

Review by Suze

Joseph and Harriet Latimer have been happy at Greyladies. Then World War I breaks out and the house has to become a hospital. Joseph and Harriet are allowed to stay, but they don't feel welcome in their own home any longer. They want to do anything they can for the country and for the wounded, so they're trying to help out as much as they're allowed to.

Phoebe has a family connection to the Latimers. She doesn't know anything about this though. Her step-cousin Frank, who doesn't have a pleasant character, wants to force her to marry him. Because of the war Phoebe loses her job and she needs to find somewhere else to stay as soon as possible. Somewhere far away from Frank. Fortunately she meets Corin, a Captain in the army who wants to help her. They become good friends, but because of the war they can only spend limited time together. Will Phoebe meet her family eventually? And will she be able to marry a man she loves or will Frank eventually get his way?

Mistress of Greyladies is another wonderful book by Anna Jacobs. It was great to read about Harriet and Joseph again. After reading Heir to Greyladies I wasn't ready to say goodbye to them yet. Phoebe is a wonderful girl who's had a difficult past. She's strong and resourceful though and I liked her immediately. The war makes things difficult for everyone and I always feel sad when I think about all the soldiers who have given their lives. It's good they won't be forgotten and I'm glad there are stories like Mistress of Greyladies to remember them.

Anna Jacobs has a lovely writing style that has an easy flow. I can't put her books down. When I start reading I have to keep going. I love the way she tells her stories, it's gentle and sweet. Greyladies is an unusual house with a fantastic history. I like the idea a lot and can't wait to read more about the next mistress. I highly recommend this series, it's warm and welcoming, just like Greyladies itself.

Australia Days Etsy Spotlight & Giveaway: Suze Loves Mosaic Treasure!

I love Mosaic Treasure.

The owner, Tania, makes the most beautiful glass jewelry.

It's colorful and unique and I love the style.

I like how the pieces sparkle and how vibrant they are.

I've asked Tania a few questions to find out more about her and her shop:

1) Where did you learn your craft?

After years of wanting to do mosaics, I signed up for a night class at the local high school in Auckland, NZ, about 6 years ago. As an absolute newbie it took me a while afterwards to work out I had been told to buy the wrong tool, used the wrong glue and given bad grouting advice, but I wasn’t deterred. Glass mosaics became my hobby to combat stress in my day job, and I started to research techniques myself. I came across Laurel Skye’s book, “Mosaic Renaissance” at the library and was introduced to millefiori. It was love at first sight, and when I imported some to play with, I couldn’t resist making them into mosaic jewellery. Family circumstances meant at this time I was able to walk away from my day job, and I started developing my mosaic jewellery using grout and resin. So mostly I am self-taught, trial and error method.

2) How did your Etsy adventure start?

Soon after I started making jewellery a successful crafty friend told me about Etsy, and I opened a shop immediately. The response was minimal, probably because my first pieces weren’t very good, the photos were lousy and I was so busy making I didn’t put any effort into marketing. Earlier this year I revisited Etsy, and began to sell. I was lucky enough to join an Etsy Creative Courage Challenge several months ago which has helped me enormously in terms of SEO, photos, marketing and of course, sales. I have always done well at physical markets, so it is gratifying to see online sales increase as well.

3) How would you describe your style?

Probably eclectic more than having one particular style, working with millefiori means I can create loud, multicolour pieces one day, then monochrome delicate ones the next. I love colour, and richness of detail, and the lustre of shining glass. I have a tried and true range of jewellery, but also love experimenting with interesting colour and shape combinations and seeing how customers react.

4) What inspires you?

A lot of my inspiration starts with the colours of the glass I have in front of me, and the different colours and sizes of the millefiori. Now living on the Mornington Peninsula south of Melbourne, I am often inspired by the sea and the sky and these colours are among my favourites to work with.

5) What is your signature piece?

The multi-coloured flower pieces, which I make in almost all forms and sizes.

6) What are your plans for the future?

Next year I hope to expand online and retail sales and move away from standing in the cold at too many markets. There are plans for some mosaic tile workshops, and I want to learn more about fusing glass. I also have a large collection of vintage paperweight millefiori with which I will be creating a range of one-off pieces. I also hope to go back to Venice to visit Murano again in the next few years.

I love the technique Tania uses, her designs are fantastic.

Tania is very kind and helpful. She accepts custom orders, so don't hesitate to contact her if you have a special request.

On Facebook you can find a gallery where you can see all the amazing designs she's made.

Check out this brilliant Etsy store.

Enjoy browsing...

And have fun shopping!

One very lucky reader of my blog will receive an amazing prize. Tania will send some beautiful surprise jewelry to the winner of this giveaway.

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.

Dec 12, 2015

Australia Days Etsy Spotlight & Giveaway: Suze Loves Naturally Enigma!

It's a wonderful shop filled with beautiful gemstone jewelry, supplies and natural beauty products.

Josefine, the owner, uses all kinds of different jewelry making techniques.

Her materials are gorgeous.

I love the simple beauty of her pieces. 

Josefine is very kind and helpful.

She loves making custom orders, so you can always ask her to make something for you if she doesn't have it in her shop.

Josefine focuses on natural materials and the results are stunning.

On Josefine's website you can find a beautiful gallery, which is definitely worth checking out.

Everything Josefine uses is chemical free and environmental friendly.

She uses her natural element which is earth. I love the colors she uses and her pieces are very energetic.

If you like gemstone jewelry you will definitely love this shop. The prices are very reasonable, so it's perfect to find some great gifts.

A lot of the jewelry doesn't contain any metal which is ideal if you're looking for something nickel free.

Check out this fantastic jewelry store.

Enjoy browsing...

And have fun shopping!

If you're in Australia you can find information about Josefine's market stall here.

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

Two surprise bracelets will be for the winner of the giveaway. 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.
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