Showing posts with label ww. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ww. Show all posts

Apr 21, 2015

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


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.


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.    

Welsh Week: The Wicked and the Just by J. Anderson Coats - Review and Giveaway

The Wicked and the Just
By J. Anderson Coats

According to Cecily d’Edgely, life can’t get much worse. Her uncle has returned from the crusades and is now lord of the manor that is rightfully hers, meaning she is stuck in Coventry. She feels like her life is over. That is, until her father tells her they’ll be moving to a town called Caernarvon. In Wales.

Upon arriving in the Welsh town, Cecily soon finds out that town life is very different from what she is used to. Add the fact that Welsh walk around, infidels who are probably ready to murder her at any moment, and you’ve got the new definition of Hell. Gwenhwyfar, Gwinny for the English, is such a Welsh. She works at Cecily’s new house, simply trying to get by.

The story follows both women, one English and one Welsh, as they go about their lives in the 13th century town. There simply couldn’t be a bigger difference between the two kinds of people. The English are privileged, the Welsh are shunned from society. So, this raises a question. Can there ever be true justice in the town of Caernarvon?

Amazon US Amazon UK

Review by Eline*

When I first read the description of this book I thought two girls, money and drama sounded a bit cliché. Have I ever been so wrong.

Cecily is probably the most arrogant and spoiled character I have read a book about, and yet somehow I didn’t mind at all. Growing up as close to nobility as you can get, she is used to being catered for and getting everything she wants in the blink of an eye. Nobody has ever told her no, simply because nobody ever had to, and this clearly shows in her character. Gwinny is a bit of a mystery. She is sarcastic and witty and refuses to let the brat, as she refers to Cecily, get in her way. It isn’t until later that we start to uncover more about this mysterious girl, both about her personality and her past, and it all starts to make sense. She works hard and earns as much money as she possibly can, simply to be able to pay her taxes and take care of her mother and brother. No matter how much time she spends around the English, though, she remains Welsh and she is proud of it.

The thing I found absolutely fascinating about this book is the way the feud between the English and the Welsh is portrayed. There is a clear hatred between them, and through following characters on both sides, you get some valuable insights into what life must have been like in Wales in the 13th century. The story is historically correct and well researched, making it feel really authentic.

Another thing that truly speaks in favor of this book is the title. When you first look at it, it doesn’t say much. When you start reading, you will think at first that Cecily is the Just and Gwinny is the Wicked. Then we hear Gwinny’s side of the story, and the roles start to reverse. This goes back and forth until both characters start showing signs of being both. Cecily is not completely Just, nor is she completely Wicked, and the same goes for Gwinny. Thinking of the title whilst reading this book truly added another dimension for me, and I’m glad I didn’t just start reading without checking the title first.

The last thing that truly made this book for me were the other characters. A town isn’t a town without people in it, and these people sure know how to make themselves be heard. From the neighbor who just keeps on having kids to the annoyingly sweet daughter of one of the founding families, all the side characters truly had their own personality and purpose. The interaction between them and Cecily brought out the best and the worst in her, and I don’t think we would have seen any of these hidden layers of her personality had there not been such an amazing set of characters for her to interact with. 

All in all, The Wicked and the Just was a fascinating and mesmerizing read. Even I was being able to follow exactly what was going on, and I know literally nothing about Wales or 13th century England. All of it was new to me, and the book felt like a history lesson from that one amazing teacher everybody has had at some point. The story made me fall in love with Wales, which I did not expect to ever happen, and I would definitely classify this as an under-hyped book. I recommend this to anybody who likes history even in the slightest, or anybody who enjoys a book revolving around the term justice and likes to question what it actually means.

*This review has been written by our new reviewer Eline, who's 15 years old and lives in Haarlem (The Netherlands)

Author information

J. Anderson Coats owns 194 books about the middle ages.  This doesn’t seem like very many unless you consider the fact that she’s never had a real job.
Jillian grew up in a houseful of books alongside two cats and an older brother.  Her mother, a librarian, exposed her to the beauty and diversity of the written word.  Her father, a scientist, taught her to question it.  Both of them encouraged her to write, even when her stories were written in crayon and featured nothing but ponies.
At age thirteen, Jillian finished her first novel.  It was pretty bad, but fortunately no one told her that.  By the time she graduated from high school, she’d written six other novels, including one massive 500,000-word doorstop book with a sweeping, complicated plot and way too many characters.  None of these books was very good, but she loved every single one and learned something new with each.
Jillian studied history at Bryn Mawr College, where she graduated magna cum laude with departmental honors.  She also holds a master’s degree in library and information science from Drexel University and a master’s degree in history from the University of Washington.  She loves the smell of old books, and she’d set up camp in the archives if they didn’t keep locking the door at night.
Currently, Jillian lives in the Pacific northwest in a hundred-year-old house with her husband, teenage son, and a cat with thumbs.

Enter this giveaway to win a paperback copy of The Wicked and the Just, good luck! 

Welsh Week: A Time for Silence by Thorne Moore

 When Sarah, struggling to get over tragedy, stumbles across her grandparents’ ruined farm, it feels as if the house has been waiting for her. She is drawn to their apparently idyllic way of life and starts to look into her family history only to learn that her grandfather, Jack, was murdered. Why has nobody told her? Sarah becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to Gwen and Jack. But are there some family stories that should never be told...

Amazon Uk Amazon US

Review by Anniek

 Sarah thinks she has a perfect relationship with her fiancé, a job that will do and a mother in law who is controlling. When her fiancé is going out of town for a few months, Sarah takes the time to go visit her mother. During her visit she sees a little farmhouse for sale named Cwmderwen. When she goes to see the house and finds out it belonged to her family once she cannot resist and buys the house. Her journey to reveal the hidden past will then begin.

You meet Gwen when she is getting married to her husband John. Cwmderwen is John's house and that's where they will live. Gwen has an ill father and a sister named Dilys. She will tell her story about her journey during her marriage and the happenings which will be 'buried' and probably should have stayed that way in the first place.

I loved it that I could read about both Sarah and Gwen. When I was reading about Sarah I wanted to know what happened next with Gwen and when I was reading about Gwen I couldn't wait for Sarah to continue her investigation.

Thorne Moore's writing is perfect. You switch between the stories of Sarah and her grandmother Gwen. This book will keep you on the edge of your seat and is a real page-turner. I feel very blessed that Welsh Week has given me the opportunity to be introduced to the writing of
Thorne Moore, thank you!

Welsh Week: Butterfly Necklace Giveaway

Enter this giveaway to win a Kate Hamilton - Hunter Studio sterling silver necklace with butterflies pressed from beautiful tins. 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: An Interview with Emma Kavanagh

An Interview with Emma Kavanagh

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

I am a police and military psychologist and for many years I trained officers in the psychology of critical incidents, helping them to understand what happens in the brain when we are in a life or death situation. I live in Swansea with my husband and my two young sons, aged three and seven months. Hidden is my second novel.

2) Where do you find your inspiration?

I am fascinated by psychology and this fascination is a tremendous asset when it comes to my writing. I often find inspiration from true crimes and the behaviour of people in real life situations. There is no behaviour so extreme that someone, somewhere hasn’t done it. What more inspiration could a writer want?

3) You've done a lot of research for this book, could you tell more about that?
I began by doing a huge amount of research into the psychology of mass killers and spree shooters. The shooter was always going to be the lynchpin for the entire novel and so it was tremendously important to me that I reflected this person as realistically as possible. I read up as much as I could on real life instances of this so I could begin to gain some kind of understanding as to what motivates these people.

4) The weather plays an important role in Hidden, especially the Welsh rain. That makes the story quite unique and it stands out when you compare it to other thrillers, because of conditions that just aren't there anywhere else. Did you build the story around that and was it a conscious decision to use it?

I think weather is important in a story. Throughout much of Hidden, there is a heatwave. The heat builds and builds and builds - a shock to a coastal town in Wales that isn’t used to such temperatures - and then, finally, ruptures into rain. I wanted that sense of a pot boiling that you get as the temperature climbs, because it is very much what is happening for the shooter as the world seems to push him closer and closer towards a truly horrific act.

5) What's your favourite place in Wales to visit? And would you ever use it for a story?
That’s a tough one. There are so many places I could pick. One of my favourite places is the Brecon Beacons. It is so exceptionally beautiful and rugged and wild. I certainly have considered using it for a story, although it would have to be something that could equal it in its ruggedness. 

6) Where did you learn to write and is there any advice you have for aspiring writers?
I have always written, so the art of it is something that I seem to have naturally understood. However, the craft of it - the actual physical putting together of a book - is something quite different. I learned to do that through writers’ guide books. I have dozens of them. My philosophy is, you never know all there is to know about writing. And that would be my advice - never think you know it all. You probably don’t, so always be prepared to keep learning. It will only make your writing better.

7) It must have been quite difficult to make situations that aren't part of your own everyday life, like being part of a police team, being part of a medical department, etc. feel like you know everything about them, how do you do it?
Much of the procedure involved in Hidden (especially in terms of firearms policing) comes from my own experiences within this field. But there are other areas of policing where my knowledge is far more patchy. For this I have a wealth of people to whom I can turn - my best friend is a police officer. That helps! For Hidden, I also needed an understanding of crime reporting and medical procedure. I have always found that people can be incredibly generous with their knowledge if you just ask. So I spent a couple of hours chatting over coffee with my GP and the crime reporter for The Evening Post in Swansea, which enabled me to get a clearer idea of where I needed to go. They were also kind enough to answer my follow up questions whenever they occurred to me.

Welsh Week Review

8) Are you working on something new and will that be a thriller again?
I am currently working on book 3, which has a working title of The Missing Hours. It is another psychological thriller, but this time set within the world of kidnap and ransom. Although, it does have police in it. Obviously.

9) Your tweets are really funny, is there a chance you'd use that sense of humour for a book?
This is the weird thing about crime writers - when you meet them in person they’re often really funny! I suppose you have to be when you spend as much time thinking dark, dark thoughts as we do. I have often thought that I’d like to write something a little more humorous, but at the moment the stories that keep coming to me are of the dark and twisty nature. Ah, well. Such is life.

Welsh Week: Back Home by Bethan Darwin

 t looks like Ellie has lost the love of her life, and along with him goes the bijou flat in Primrose Hill and the illicit 5* lifestyle. There's not much left but to decamp back to the rather more humdrum confines of her mum and grandad's house in Clapham.

Finding herself back home and loveless isn't all bad though. Ellie can always hit the backpacker trail again, or maybe even find a job that sticks – the solicitor's office she's temping in this time is at least trying to help out those having real problems – like keeping their kids, or a roof over their heads. And it's nice spending time with her grandad Trevor, drinking proper 'Welsh' tea from real china cups and looking out at the veg Trevor has coaxed from the London clay. And there is even a distraction from her broken heart in the shape of hunky landscape gardener Gabriel....

But just when it looks like everything is shaping up tickety-boo there's a knock on the door that turns Trevor's world upside down and takes them unexpectedly back to the Welsh Valleys in wartime…

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Review by Tanya

After a break up of her relationship in the main city Ellie Finds herself packing up and going back to live with her mum and Grandad, Trevor, in her granddads house where she was brought up. Grandad, Frank, has lived in the house since moving to Clapham from Wales after his wife died of TB leaving him with a young baby, Sarah. He worked hard to make a good life for himself and his baby daughter and subsequently granddaughter and he has achieved this. However he has never been to visit Wales since leaving. 
You hear about the history of his marriage with the parts that look back at his past life and find that the case of his wife dying of TB are not true and that there is a situation there that his daughter and granddaughter should really be made aware of. I was shocked by this and felt so much for Trevor. I do wonder how his wife could do this and know that I never could. 
Ellie always had a free spirit and liked to stay in UK only long enough to get enough money to go traveling again. This was until she met Robert and fell for him big time, she's even going as far as taking a permanent job. When things change and affect their relationship she is devastated and she cannot get away fast enough. Luckily her friends are great and forget about the months when she has not wanted to see them. Her best friend Gina encourages her to look locally for a job and to start to go out again. It is nice to see her confidence coming back and to see how strong her relationship is with her family and friends.

Back Home is full of interesting twists and turns and fantastic descriptions. In fact I actually showed my daughters the descriptions and the reminiscing in the first few pages to describe to them how it sets the scene. I really could imagine myself in the tall terraced house in Clapham.
This story is told in two parts, a story taking place in the present day in Clapham and one that took place towards and after the end of the Second World War in the valleys of Wales. These stories overlap in some way, namely the shocking event for Ellie and her mum, Sarah. It’s fantastic to see what happens after the shock has gone. I’m so pleased the story ended as it did.

Welsh Week: I Love Days In Design! + Giveaway

I love Days In Design. The textile art in this shop is absolutely brilliant.

I can't stop looking at the beautiful art work and jewelry.

Everything has been handmade by Chloe. She uses different kinds of fabric to create her images. 

Chloe sells art prints, jewelry and originals. 

 I love Chloe's style. Her designs are so cheerful and vibrant.

Everything in this shop is affordable, especially the prints and the jewelry. Even a lot of the originals, which are a lot of work to make, aren't very expensive.

Chloe has an amazing website. There you can read more about her and visit her gallery. There's also more information about commissions. Chloe can make a work of art using a picture of your house for example.

I love how Chloe can make something come to life just by using different kinds of patterned fabrics. She makes the most beautiful compositions.

I'm completely in love with this shop.

Chloe also organizes workshops. I think that's a really great and fun idea.

You can find her work in several different shops/galleries in Wales.

Enjoy shopping in this wonderful Etsy store!

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

Chloe will send a £12 voucher to 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.    

Welsh Week: The Magic Side to Wales

The Magic Side to Wales

By Valerie-Anne Baglietto

Wales is an ancient land of mystery and mythology, with more than its fair share of castles. Before I moved here over a decade ago, I hadn’t written a fairy tale since I was a child, although I’ve always been a huge fan of them. Then, all of a sudden, a few years ago, I found myself writing modern, grown-up, magical realism. Contemporary romances, with just a hint of comedy and a strong twist of make-believe. I’ve since decided there must be something in the Welsh water influencing me.
Not that I’m complaining. I may have started writing them anyway even if I hadn’t moved here from Essex, but I honestly don’t think they would be the stories they are now without all the Welsh folklore and ‘magic’ around me. They’re richer for having a setting that deserves more attention and respect than it currently attracts. The villages and characters in my stories may be fictitious, but the backdrop of Wales is very real and ever present.
My family moved to North Wales for practical reasons, although my husband is part Welsh. Apart from visiting a few times as a child, I didn’t know much about the country beyond daffodils and dragons, but after marrying, I found myself with a Welsh surname - although I use my maiden name for my writing - and it didn’t take me long to realise I had ‘come home’. It’s often the way my heroes and heroines feel, whether they’re originally from Wales or not. Currently, we’re based near the border with Cheshire, a stone’s throw from the picturesque, historic town of Chester. So I often use that in my stories, too, especially my new release, FOUR SIDES TO EVERY STORY. Most of the action takes place in a border village, on the English side, but for the more magical aspect of the book, the characters find themselves in Wales. It just seemed appropriate!
Snow-topped mountains, calm blue lakes, heather-clad hills and those mandatory sheep dotting the lush green fields. There’s something about the Welsh soil (and the water) that works its way through me and leaks out in my words and stories. I don’t retell old fairy tales, though, I have to write completely new ones, as if everything around me demands it. A sense of place is vital in any story, and the setting can become a character in its own right. I don’t have to go far to stir my creative juices. From crumbling castles to tumbling waterfalls – inspiration is right there on my doorstep, and I’m perpetually grateful for the fact.

I was born in Gibraltar but came to England when I was three. I wrote and illustrated my first book when I was four, pure fiction about a little boy whose mother's nose was incredibly long and spiral shaped. With that, the writing bug had bitten.
To begin with, I had a Day Job, working in London as a graphic designer in my young, free and single days, but I always wrote in my spare time, sometimes into the small hours of the morning - when I still had the stamina to get up at 6.45 to catch my train!

My first novel THE WRONG SORT OF GIRL won the Romantic Novelists' Association's New Writer's Award in 2000.

In total I had four books published by Hodder & Stoughton before motherhood took over my life. I've lived in North Wales with my family for over a decade, and while my youngest was very small I experimented with different writing styles and genres, whenever I had a chance. I even wrote a children's book, to fill the void after I turned the final page of the last Harry Potter novel (possibly a sad reason to do it, but it was fun to write and I learned a lot from the experience).
Although I love children's literature - the imagination and the energy of it all - I wanted to return to adult romances again, and with ONCE UPON A WINTER I married both loves to create a contemporary adult fairy tale. It's common knowledge that the early fairy tales weren't exactly suitable for children - by today's standards - and now grown-ups seem to be poaching them back again. But I don't 'retell' the classics, I write completely new ones. Well why not? They were all original once!

Welsh Week: Earthbound Organics - Review & Giveaway


I received this Earthbound Organics Eye Gel to try. I really like this Welsh brand that is completely natural. The scent is soft and herbal. I love the chamomile in this product and its soothing effect, it's wonderful. I'm very happy with this eye gel, it definitely relaxes the skin around my eyes. 

The gel comes in an easy to use bottle. It will last a long time as only a small quantity is needed to do the job. The floral labels look great and so does the overall style of both the brand and the website. I'm definitely going to use more Earthbound Organics products in the future.

About the brand

Earthbound Organics is based in Wales and makes Organic skin care products such as; Facial Creams, Soaps, Body Oils and toners. Most of the ingredients used are certified organic and wild crafted; all of them are natural. We hand pick some of our ingredients from the hedgerows and the Welsh countryside including: Plantain, Ivy, Comfrey and Hypericum. Those not indigenous to Wales are bought from approved organic herb suppliers.
Jo believes that organic skin care is extremely important and that what we put on our skin is pure and natural since it will be absorbed into our bodies. Thus it is the high quality and purity of our ingredients that are the most important part of our production.
Significantly we don't add in any chemical preservatives such as any of the parabens. All our ingredients are listed and will be recognised as ingredients found in any kitchen and herb garden. It is this and the simplicity of her recipes that feed and nurture the skin leaving it glowing with health and vitality.
The main oils used are cold pressed, organic sunflower and cold pressed, organic olive oil as well as Organic Jojojba oil organic cold pressed organic rosehip oil and borage oil. They are rich in vitamins and minerals which are beneficial and enrich the skin. Most of the herbal oils e.g. Carrot, Hypericum, Calendula, Chamomile, Arnica and Lemon balm are made using cold absorption which ensures maximum infusion of the properties of the plants.
Beeswax is used in all the creams and is from a special bee keeper living close to Jo in the welsh hills. The Rosewater Lavender water and Orange water act as mild antiseptics and are believed to help in the battle against the onset of wrinkles.              


One lucky reader of my blog will receive this little organza gift bag filled with small jars of Earthbound Organics products. It's the perfect way to try 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.   

Welsh Week: Elen's Island - Review & Giveaway

When her parents send her to stay with a grandmother she hardly knows for the summer, Elen is furious. Gran lives on a tiny island and doesn’t want her to stay either – it’s not an easy start.
Gran’s idea of childcare is to give Elen a map and tell her to explore. Who is the odd boy on the beach with a puffin? After saving Gran in a storm, Elen finds a picture that she’s sure is a clue to hidden treasure. She investigates – and finds a very different treasure from the one she expected.

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Elen's parents are spending the summer without her. Elen can't go with them on their travels and has to stay with her grandmother instead. Gran has a house on a small island and isn't very accommodating. Elen feels very alone. The only thing she can do is some exploring with the map her grandmother has drawn for her. While she's doing that she meets a strange boy who has a puffin. They initially don't get along very well and they keep running into each other. When there's a big storm and Elen's Gran hasn't come in, she has to go outside to find her. She managed to locate her Gran and what she also finds is a clue to a hidden treasure. All of a sudden the island becomes a lot more interesting, what exactly is this treasure and will Elen be able to find it?

Elen's grandmother is used to living a solitary life and when Elen comes to stay with her she doesn't really make it easy for her. Elen is angry with her parents for leaving her behind. Even though she isn't happy with her situation the island is interesting enough for her to fill her days. While at first she doesn't like it she's slowly falling in love with it. I loved seeing that transformation. When it's complete Elen opens her heart for her surroundings and everyone around her.

I loved the description of the island and could totally picture the beauty. The main characters are all likeable and fun and I adored Gran. I enjoyed reading this book very much. I would have loved the story when I was a child and I highly recommend it. There's a map, Elen has a lot of exploring to do and there are new people to get to know. This book has so many good ingredients. Together they make a fabulous book with a wonderful ending.  

Author information
Eloise writes words. Lots of them. Sometimes in particular orders. She also does a bit of Drama and the odd spot of acting.
   Sixer of Pixies. Child of the 70’s. Survived encephalitis, pizza thrown in face, a decade as an actress, school, endless years of Heavy Metal abuse from younger sister’s room.
    Likes confetti, bluebells, memories of Gran and Grampa, family, cwtches, the way ladybirds shelter in beech nuts, collecting seaglass on misty days, comfy jeans, stories about interesting    things.
  Spent too much money on ill-fitting clothes, too much of the 80’s planning marriage to John Taylor and/or George Michael, lovely times in Europe, one cold week in New York.
Lives in West Wales. Lives for the sea, love, repeats of ‘Murder She Wrote’, for as long as she can.
 Has dog called Watson Jones. Has husband called Guy. Both of whom are handsome devils


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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