Feb 21, 2015

Gamila Secret The daily herbal skin care for your Hands


Gamila Secret is a 100% natural brand. The products are a combination of vegetable oils and herbs. I immediately liked that idea and I couldn't wait to try this hand cream. It comes in a beautiful box which gave me a feeling of both luxury and authenticity.

The cream might seem a bit pricey, but there's a very handy distributing system that makes it easy to use just a little bit, so it lasts a very long time. The scent is amazing, I fall in love with it all over again every time I'm using the cream. It leaves my skin soft and smooth. My hands absorb the cream quickly, so it's perfect for daytime use. It's also good for dry and cracked skin, it really helps.

I'm very happy with this purchase and love the brand, so I'll definitely try more of their products as soon as I have the chance. The website is worth a visit as there's a great promotional video and a documentary you can watch and there's a webshop to order the products. I like it that there is so much information available about the brand itself and the herbs and oils that are being used. 

I'm very happy with this hand cream, it's definitely one of the best ones I've ever tried. I'm certainly going to buy myself another tube very soon. It's a product I never want to be without.
 

Feb 20, 2015

What Have I Done? by Amanda Prowse

Blurb

Kathryn Brooker is the headmaster's wife. While her husband spends his days disciplining unruly teenagers in the grand halls of Mountbriers Academy, Kathryn spends hers baking scones for her son's cricket match in a beautiful cottage in the manicured school grounds.
In the evenings, when her husband strides home to compliment her cooking and kiss her hello - ignoring jokes from their children about grown-up lovebirds - Kathryn Brooker is the very picture of a fulfilled wife and mother. Anyone who peered through the downstairs sash window at the four figures sat easily around their scrubbed-pine kitchen table would see a happy family without a care in the world. They would envy Kathryn her perfect life.
But they would be wrong. Kathryn is trapped in a nightmare. And she is about to do something to change it. Something only a truly desperate woman would do...

 Source

I received a Dutch copy of this book from Amanda Prowse's husband. You can find my Dutch review here.

Amazon US Amazon UK

Review

 It seems like Kathryn has got the perfect life. She's living in a beautiful home, her family is always nearby and she has two wonderful, talented children. Kathryn is friendly and hospitable and she looks happy, but unfortunately that's just an appearance. She's terrified and stressed, but she has to pretend she's a content and happy wife. Until one day she doesn't want to do that any longer. She's had enough and in a few hours time she changes her own destiny. This has consequences though, for her and her family.

Kathryn loves her children, they always come first. That's why she endures, every single day. I wanted to know what happened to her and couldn't stop reading. It takes a while before the truth is being revealed. The story switches between the past and the present. I wanted to know if Kathryn was going to be all right and I also was curious to find out what was so horrible about her past.

What Have I Done? is an impressive story about a brave woman who always puts others first. She's kind and friendly, but she's done something terrible. When I started to read the story I had no idea what to think. I was intrigued and I had so many questions. I loved the way Amanda Prowse is giving the reader information, bit by bit and just enough to keep going. This captivated me and I couldn't stop reading until I finished the entire story. I think she's done a great job creating such a special book and I highly recommend it.

L'Occitane Jaune Soleil Beauty Bag Giveaway



I love L'Occitane and their filled beauty bags are always such a treat. One winner will receive this lovely cheerful bag. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway  

 I will contact the winner on twitter or 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. 

On My Wish List: The House of Frozen Dreams by Seré Prince Halverson



 I've requested this book on Netgalley (I hope the publisher will approve me) and really want to read it. The cover is so pretty and the blurb is intriguing.

Blurb

Set in the stunning, eerie Alaskan mountains, this is a love story you will never forget.
Step into the home that lay empty for decades…
After a family tragedy, the old Alaskan homestead lay abandoned for two decades, until the one person who need it most came looking. What Kache found was more than a house full of old memories and buried secrets: he found Nadia, who had been hiding from the world, unseen, for ten years.
Held captive by a past too painful or too dangerous to face, they must now break free from what binds them in place – and face the ghosts that have never stopped haunting them.
Step into the house of frozen dreams…

Author Bio

 Seré Prince Halverson is the author of THE UNDERSIDE OF JOY, which was published by Dutton (Penguin) in January 2012 and will be translated into fifteen languages. She worked as a copywriter and creative director for 20 years while she wrote fiction and raised kids. Seré and her husband have four (almost) grown children, and live in Northern California. You can visit her at www.sereprincehalverson.com

Feb 19, 2015

The Love Goddess' Cooking School by Melissa Senate

Blurb

 Camilla’s Cucinotta: Italian Cooking Classes. Fresh take-home pastas & sauces dailyBenvenuti! (Welcome!)
Holly Maguire’s grandmother Camilla was the Love Goddess of Blue Crab Island, Maine—a Milanese fortune-teller who could predict the right man for you, and whose Italian cooking was rumored to save marriages. Holly has been waiting years for her unlikely fortune: her true love will like sa cordula, an unappetizing old-world delicacy. But Holly can’t make a decent marinara sauce, let alone sa cordula. Maybe that’s why the man she hopes to marry breaks her heart. So when Holly inherits Camilla’s Cucinotta, she’s determined to forget about fortunes and love and become an Italian cooking teacher worthy of her grandmother’s legacy.

But Holly’s four students are seeking much more than how to make Camilla’s chicken alla Milanese. Simon, a single father, hopes to cook his way back into his daughter’s heart. Juliet, Holly’s childhood friend, hides a painful secret. Tamara, a serial dater, can’t find the love she longs for. And twelve-year-old Mia thinks learning to cook will stop her dad, Liam, from marrying his phony lasagna-queen girlfriend. As the class gathers each week, adding Camilla’s essential ingredients of wishes and memories in every pot and pan, unexpected friendships and romances are formed—and tested. Especially when Holly falls hard for Liam . . . and learns a thing or two about finding her own recipe for happiness. 

Source

Scribd

Amazon US Amazon UK

Review

Holly is heartbroken when she returns to the island she loves so much. On Blue Crab Island she's trying to find herself again while staying with her grandmother, Camilla. Unfortunately tragedy strikes soon, because her grandmother dies just a few days after her arrival. Holly inherits her business, which means her Italian food shop and her cooking school. There's only one problem, Holly doesn't know how to cook. She has to start teaching soon as four students have signed up for her class even though her grandmother isn't there anymore to tell them everything she knows about Italian cooking. Fortunately Holly has her grandmother's recipes to help her out. The magic of the cooking is in the magic of the wishes that are being put into the food. Camilla had a gift, unfortunately Holly hasn't inherited it, but even though she can't help people the way her grandmother used to, she has her own way of bringing people together. Slowly Holly learns how to cook and how to be the person she's always wanted to be. Will love be part of that new future as well? 

Holly can't help but falling in love with Liam, whose twelve-year-old daughter is helping her with her cooking classes. He's a sweet and charming man, but he also has some baggage that might be getting in their way. An old friend from the island is joining the class as well, she's carrying a terrible burden and is looking for comfort and peace. The other two students are a man who wants to learn how to cook, so he can serve his daughter something decent and a woman who's very actively looking for the love of her life. Together they form a wonderful and unique friendship.

I loved this book. It has food, spells, friendship, love and learning which are the perfect ingredients for a wonderful story. The Love Goddess' Cooking School is such an amazing book. I couldn't put it down and I enjoyed every minute of it. I fell in love with Camilla's beautiful way of cooking. Holly has to work very hard to keep her grandmother's business afloat, but she practices as much as she can. I liked that determination. This story shows that things could really happen when you put in effort and hard work, which is such a lovely message. I wish I could join Holly's classes and taste her food. The atmosphere on the island together with Camilla's history gave the story some extra depth. Everyone has a story and their journeys aren't all sunshine and happiness, but eventually things are going to be all right. This book is really special and I highly recommend it!
 

Filled Beauty Bag Giveaway


I love beauty bags, especially when they're filled. Good luck!


  I will contact the winner on twitter or 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. 

Feb 18, 2015

When We Were Sisters by Beth Miller

Blurb

‘I never think of Laura as my step-sister, but that’s what she is.’

Once they were the best of friends, inseparable as only teenage girls can be.

That is until Miffy’s Jewish father runs off with Laura’s Catholic mother and both of their families imploded – as well as Laura’s intense relationship with Miffy’s brother...

Twenty years on, they’re all about to meet again...

Source

I received this book from the author and am very happy I had the chance to read and review it. 

Amazon US Amazon UK

Review

Laura and Miffy are best friends, almost like sisters. They spend a lot of time together and they share so many happy memories. Everything changes when they become real sisters. When Miffy's father and Laura's mother become a couple, suddenly their children are no longer in each other's lives. More than twenty years later Miffy and Laura finally meet again when something happens to Miffy's father. Even though their parents have been married for years their children haven't seen each other again ever since the day their parents became an item. Laura's missed her best friend from childhood and her gorgeous brother. Miffy has grown into a beautiful, confident woman. Laura's life isn't that wonderful. It used to look like everything was the other way around, but was that really the case?
The story is being told through two voices, the grown-up Laura and the child Miffy. Miffy had to go through so much as a child and Laura hasn't always been the most safe friend, but they did have fun together. Laura has so many problems in her life and now Miffy isn't the best friend she's ever had, but they do have good times together. Laura's falling apart bit by bit and she isn't handling things very well, not at all actually, so she needs someone by her side.
When We Were Sisters is the story of two sisters who lose each other in a tragic way and who find each other again in a tragic way as well. They both have their flaws and I can't say I liked everything about them. The story is really, really good. Laura can be selfish and crude, but she's also vulnerable and has never had someone she could rely on. Miffy is such an innocent child who has to lose that innocence way too quickly and that leaves scars. Both of the women have been damaged by decisions of other people. They have lost each other once, but at some point they will need each other again. This is a story about how much damage it can do when two people separate and when one of them meets someone else. Divorce is never easy and in this particular story the parents never gave it any thought what their decisions would do to their children. That was so sad to see. When We Were Sisters is no fun fairytale, it's real and sometimes raw which is what makes it such an interesting and fascinating read.

Suzanne Loves ATERG crochet! & Giveaway



 I love ATERG crochet. It's such a wonderful and cheerful shop. Every item has been crocheted with care.


I found this shop when I was looking for cute owl items. The owner, Greta, sells both finished crocheted items and patterns, so crocheters all over the world can make her designs.


I like the happy colors and the cheerful atmosphere of this shop. It's very attractive.


I've asked Greta a couple of questions to find out more about her, her designs and her Etsy shop.

Your designs are so cheerful, how did you get the idea?

I am not a black and white girl but LOVE color next to unaffected naturals. Just pure simplicity with a flourishing touch! My Etsy shop was not a well thought-out plan, I had listed some colorful crochet plaids and some of my own crochet designs. The layout was very simple, my home was/is the background for the pictures. The realization process of my colorful shop happened along the way.


Where did you learn to crochet?

 When we were little my mother used to make us beautiful dresses, trousers and tunics. She also knitted us colorful sweaters, crocheted hats, poncho’s, bags or curtains. We copied her trying to dress our Barbie and meanwhile we learned the detailed crafts from my mother. It made me ‘craft-curious’ so I started to study other crafts like spinning wool, weaving, painting silk and turning glass beads in the flame. 


What inspires you?

To snoop around, reading art craft magazines, I love to leaf through all kind of DIY magazines, the crochet lovers who ‘drop by’ in my shop, young people learning to crochet and pick up other crafts, turning old fashioned into hip, turning a picture or drawing into a crochet item, wonderful yarns/fabrics and ……………… my biggest inspiration ‘colors’ to make unexpected color combinations. 


How did your Etsy adventure start?

 When we lived in Paris I met two Dutch artists. One started an interior shop and asked me to sell my home made glass beads/jewelry, crochet plaids and crochet designs in her shop. The other one designed children clothes and needed a good dress-maker. Via them I discovered Etsy and started my glass bead jewelry shop. Sadly enough I had no luck but once I started my crochet shop with ready-made crochet items a lot of crochet lovers asked me if I would like to share my patterns. I had no experience in working out patterns but I took a deep dive, extremely excited and lots to learn. It worked out tremendously and it became my daily job which I enjoy every day.


What are your plans for the future?

 I have no special plan for my shop but plan to stay creative in all kinds of ways. Creating more lovely crochet ideas that float in my head, keep my shop small ‘just me’, take time for exquisite custom requests and listing new patterns in my shop to inspire lots of other crochet lovers.


  Do you have any good advice for my readers?

 Never think ‘I can’t do that’ always think ‘I’ll try and see’ and after that there is sooooooo much more to discover. Enjoy, live!!


 I think that's great advice, ATERG crochet is so positive and joyful, I think that's the most fabulous thing there is.


 For one lucky reader of my blog there will be an amazing prize. This reader will receive a beautiful crocheted ornament that will brighten up every wall.



Fill out the rafflecopter below to have a chance. Good luck!



I will contact the winner on twitter or 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.   

L'Occitane Giveaway 1


Win a lovely Cherry Blossom gift set. Good luck!



  I will contact the winner on twitter or 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. 

Feb 17, 2015

The Judas Scar by Amanda Jennings

Blurb

Scars. We all carry them. Some are mere scratches. Others run deeper.

At a school rife with bullying, Will and his best friend Luke are involved in a horrific incident that results in Luke leaving.

Twenty-five years later their paths cross again and memories of Will's painful childhood come flooding back to haunt him. His wife, Harmony, who is struggling after a miscarriage that has hit her hard, wishes Will would open up about his experiences. But while Will withdraws further, she finds herself drawn to the charismatic stranger from her husband s past, and soon all three are caught in a tangled web of guilt, desire, betrayal and revenge. 

Source

I won this book from Sophie and bought a copy for myself as well, because I treasure my signed edition.

Amazon US Amazon UK

Review

Harmony is very unhappy. She's had a miscarriage and ever since that moment she wants nothing more than to become a mother. Unfortunately her husband Will isn't very happy with this wish. He doesn't see himself as a father. That's a result of his troubled childhood, a time he doesn't talk about at all. Harmony knows nothing of his past and what happened between him and his former best friend Luke. They both went to the same boarding school.

 Harmony and Will are having problems and Harmony is attracted to Luke. She doesn't know her husband's history with this man and she has no idea what kind of wounds are being reopened because of their meetings. She now plays a part in something she doesn't know anything about.

Will and Luke have been bullied and abused. Their time at school was horrible and it has formed them. Every day their adult life is being influenced by their past. It broke my heart to read about what happened to those two boys. Amanda Jennings has written about it in such a beautiful and brave way. The feelings of all the main characters are perfectly understandable even though it doesn't mean they're right and without consequences. People who have been the victims of such terrible actions have to carry this burden with them for the rest of their lives. Amanda Jennings has phrased their emotions and inner struggles really well. The Judas Scar is such a good book. The story is strong and it managed to make me feel so many things at the same time. I highly recommend this novel, it's gripping and very impressive.

Happy Mail Giveaway 2


Another small, but cute giveaway. Good luck!



  I will contact the winner on twitter or 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. 

Lavender Loves HummingBirdEggs! & Giveaway


I love HummingBirdEggs. Nancy, the owner, sells very pretty jewelry.


What I like about this shop is the variety in designs and the combination of colors. Everything is exactly right and Nancy combines that with great photos.


Nancy manages to find gorgeous beads and she makes them stand out by combining them with something that makes them even more beautiful.


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

Where did you learn your craft? You know a lot of beading techniques, where did you learn them?

 I had a bead store on the Oregon Coast and learned about bead and findings there. I took classes and taught classes in bead stringing, weaving, knotting etc. as well as Art Clay Silver ( I am a level one Instructor). I made and sold jewelry in my shop and started my ETSY site in 2008 to see how my jewelry would do online. I also sold semi precious stones and some beads. It did OK! After the economy took a dive I had to close my store (it was in a resort community and sadly no one was coming). I took my inventory home and went back to nursing. No ETSY during that time. I am now retired and happily beading and trying some new things as well. I have always wanted to learn metal smithing and am exploring that area. I will always have a soft spot for seed beads in my life, and beaded lariats and ropes sell surprisingly well so I will keep making them. I have a feeling metal is my new love.


What inspires you?

 I get my inspiration from many areas but I have to say that color is what gets me jazzed the most and the way mother nature uses it. I also have always had a love of folk art and ethnic art as well and plan to incorporate more cultural elements and designs in my work. 


How did your Etsy adventure start?

As I said before, I started ETSY to get more exposure for my merchandise while running my bead store. After I retired I decided to put my remaining inventory of beads and findings on ETSY so I reopened NancyLynnDesigns.etsy.com to sell beading supplies. At the same time I created Hummingbirdeggs.etsy.com to sell my handmade jewelry. I am still trying to fine tune my "brand" and am finding it to be a long process and won't happen overnight. I like trying new things and want to continue to do so. You may still see a variety of different styles of jewelry at Hummingbirdeggs for a while but I am starting narrow my scope and feel pulled more and more in one direction. I want to marry the techniques I know to come up with a unique style that will be recognizable as mine.


What does a regular day look like for you?

I am obsessive about making jewelry and running my shops. I spend hours almost every day on the computer, listing, answering e-mails, putting together orders etc. When I am not doing that I am reading about soldering, metal fabrication, working on a beading pattern or making jewelry. When I am not doing that I am taking care of my 2 grandchildren, one in first grade and one 18 months old. As you can see I keep very busy. I wouldn't have it any other way.


I love it that Nancy keeps learning new things and that she loves to reinvent herself. I think her grandchildren have a really cool grandmother.


HummingBirdEggs is a shop filled with amazing earrings and there are also some lovely necklaces, bracelets and pendants.


If you want Nancy to make something especially for you, that's possible as accepts custom orders.


One lucky reader of my blog will receive a fabulous prize. 


This beautiful pair of long dangling earrings could be yours. Enter the rafflecopter below to have a chance. Good luck!


  I will contact the winner on twitter or 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. 

Feb 16, 2015

First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen

A magical new novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Lost Lake, featuring characters from her beloved novel Garden Spells.

Autumn has finally arrived in the small town of Bascom, North Carolina, heralded by a strange old man appearing with a beat-up suitcase.  He has stories to tell, stories that could change the lives of the Waverley women forever...



Bay knows exactly where she belongs, in Bascom in the house that has been in the Waverley family for generations. When her mother, Sydney, got married they moved to the farm, but Bay knows that her house isn't her home. She visits her aunt Claire whenever she can. Because she loves being with her and also because Claire gives her jobs, like babysitting her daughter and helping her make candy. Bay knows where she's supposed to be and who should be with her, but that doesn't mean she's happy. She's a Waverley and that means it isn't easy to make friends, or to fall in love...

 Claire's candy business is growing, but while she's making more money she's losing a little part of herself each time a new batch is ready. Nobody but her can make these sweets as they contain her famous Waverley magic. She isn't her usual strong self, so when someone who has no place in Bascom visits the town to spread rumors about her past she has to do something she's never done before. And then there's the apple tree. Claire and Bay are anxiously waiting for first frost to arrive. Will the tree and first frost really be able to fix their problems?

First Frost can easily be read as a standalone novel, but you can double the fun by reading Garden Spells first. You can find my review of that lovely book here. It's no secret that I'm a big fan of Sarah Addison Allen. Her books are fabulous and they have that beautiful touch of magic that make them so unique and comforting. I love dreaming away with one of her stories. They always make me feel like it's Christmas. First Frost is such a wonderful book. I loved the way the past and the present are intertwined in this story, that's so skillfully done and it's what makes this book so so good. I highly recommend this novel, as when you get it you will have a few hours of perfect happiness. 

Happy Mail! Giveaway


This giveaway is small and cute. I hope you like it. Good luck!


 
  I will contact the winner on twitter or 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. 

Cheerful Mail!


I'm always using blog space on Mondays to tell you something about myself. This time I will talk about my love for mail. I found my first penpal when I was nine years old. I met her when I was on holiday in Switzerland. We got on really well and I loved sending and receiving envelopes filled with small gifts and lovely letters. Unfortunately we grew apart, but since I met her I've always loved mail and I've sent letters, postcards and mail art on a regular basis. 
Around the same time I found my first pen pal I also received some lovely stationery from the older sister of my boyfriend at that time. I treasured those beautiful sheets of paper and didn't want to write on them, because they were so pretty. I think that's when my love for stationery began. I have quite a big collection of cute and beautiful letter sets. I treasure them and like them so much. If I want to use my pretty paper I always have to buy doubles, otherwise it's not going to happen.
I used to send happy mail to quite a few friends long before I started my project. I love the idea of making someone's day because I sent a cute envelope. I used to spend hours crafting envelopes and I decorated a lot of paper. I'm still doing just a little bit of that, but not as much as before. I'm going to pick it up again and would like to show simple, quick projects on my blog. 
I think mail shouldn't disappear. It's so much fun to receive a cheerful envelope in your mailbox from time to time (or every day!). I hope that the people who read this who don't send postcards and letters any longer will think about sending them again. For the people who do, it's fabulous that you take the time to create something that will brighten up someone's day. I would love it if you could all join me in my quest to send more mail that will make people happy.

--- Suzanne ---
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