May 28, 2015

Giveaway: Human + Kind Beauty Products and 4 Books

Enter this giveaway to win Human + Kind beauty products and four lovely Chick lit books. 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.

Review: War Babies by Annie Murray

Rachel Booker has a difficult start in life. When her father dies, deep in gambling debt, her mother must harden herself to make ends meet, but becomes so hard she has little room left for affection or warmth. Mother and daughter work at the open market in Birmingham, selling second-hand clothes or whatever they can find just to put a little food on the table.

But the market has a silver lining: it's there that Rachel makes her first childhood friend, Danny. As they grow older, the friendship grows into something more and their innocent romance gives Rachel the care and comfort she's always craved. But at just sixteen, as World War II breaks out, Rachel falls pregnant. They marry in haste but it isn't long before Danny is called up.

Left on the homefront with a new baby and little else, Rachel must scrape by with the other residents of Sparkbrook. But if Danny ever makes it home, will he be the same boy she loved so fiercely? And if Rachel can sustain the family until then, will she end up as hard-hearted as her own mother?

War Babies is a moving and insightful novel about hardships on the homefront and how the war changed everybody it touched...

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Rachel's mother doesn't really care much about her. She's never kind and Rachel doesn't feel loved at all. Her father has passed away and left them penniless. Rachel's mother has to work hard and while they're selling things at the rag market Rachel meets Danny. She likes him straight away and slowly they're becoming friends. Until he disappears all of a sudden. Not long afterwards Rachel's mother manages to find a new man to marry. They're no longer poor, but Rachel doesn't like her new home, not at all. She escapes it as much as she can. One of her favorite places to go to is the rag market. Danny's aunt Gladys is still working there and she's always kind to Rachel.

When Danny's finally back at the market Rachel is very happy. Soon they're more than just friends and even though they're really young they know it's true love. Not long afterwards Rachel's pregnant. She's happy living with Danny and Gladys, but it can't last long as there's a war going on. When Danny's eighteen he has to do his duty, which means he has to leave home. Rachel is now alone with one baby and another one on the way. The Second World War has separated Danny and Rachel and she misses him fiercely, but Rachel must keep going as two little children depend on her. With the help of Gladys she can manage. Will she and Danny both survive the war and if so will their relationship still be the same?

War Babies is a beautiful story about a girl who doesn't come from a loving home. She wants to do better than her mother and she tries to give her children as much love as she can. She often cries, but life is going on and Rachel has to be strong. Her mother is no support, so she and Gladys have to get by. It was wonderful to see her grow. Rachel vows to love her children and to show them that she cares. Gladys seems to know how to help very well, but she doesn't have a family of her own. I wanted to know what she was hiding.

It was interesting to read about life in general and what happened to families, at the time of the Second World War. If you like stories set in this time I can definitely recommend this book. I liked the story about true love and was fascinated by it from the start. War Babies is captivating and I absolutely loved it.

May 27, 2015

Giveaway: Lush Rosie Beauty Package

Enter this giveaway to win a Lush Rosie beauty surprise package. 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.

Events: Around the World

Yesterday was the last day of my Welsh Weekend. I've had so much fun preparing and writing the posts. I'm currently planning the next weekend. Every other weekend I'll virtually travel to a different part of the world. If you have any requests or would like to be part of this, don't hesitate to contact me. One of the main reasons I'm organizing this event is to have the chance to feature wonderful people.

I love interacting with authors and artists. For me that's the best part of my events. It's filling me with joy when someone's happy with my article and when I've helped them to get more followers. I enjoy learning more about different cultures, so this event is as much for your benefit as it is for mine. It's hard work to write so many posts on one day, but it's so much fun. Wales has a special place in my heart and I'm happy I've been able to write about it twice.

I'm grateful to everyone who's helping me. It's fantastic to do something like this together. Online Traveling is fantastic. I have a great schedule and I look forward to sharing it with you. My next stop is going to be Australia in the first weekend of June. I can't wait! 

Welsh Weekend Giveaway: Five Honno Press Books!

The winner of this giveaway will receive five fantastic books from Honno Press. 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.

Welsh Weekend: Pattern of Shadows by Judith Barrow

Mary is a nursing sister at Lancashire prison camp for the housing and treatment of German POWs. Life at work is difficult but fulfilling, life at home a constant round of arguments, until Frank Shuttleworth, a guard at the camp turns up. Frank is difficult to love but persistent and won't leave until Mary agrees to walk out with him.

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Mary is a nurse, she works in a POW camp where German doctors are treating the patients. Mary loves her work and it's everything to her. She's also the one who keeps her family going. Her father is aggressive and the situation at home is tense. When she meets Frank she isn't interested in going out with him. He's persistent though, but after a few dates Mary doesn't want to see him any longer. Unfortunately he doesn't take no for an answer...

When a new German doctor arrives the always sensible Mary likes him a bit too much, but she could be punished for fraternizing if they'd be open about it. Mary tries to hide her feelings for Peter, but Frank knows and he's making things difficult for her. Mary also worries about her brother who's a pacifist. He's in prison and there he's met his soul mate. Slowly the situation with her family is getting worse and Mary wants nothing more than to escape it all.

Pattern of Shadows is a beautiful story set in the time of the Second World War. Mary is a strong woman, but there's only so much one person can take. She's a fabulous main character. There are so many family issues she has to solve and she tries the best she can. Even though they don't treat her very well she's there whenever they need her. I kept hoping Mary would find her happiness at some point. I liked following her and reading about her life. Judith Barrow has written a really great story about a wonderful woman.

May 26, 2015

Welsh Weekend: Suze Loves The Happy Stamp Gift Co.! & Giveaway

I love The Happy Stamp Gift Co. The spoons Chloe makes are fantastic.

Chloe stamps spoons and other cutlery with personal and/or fun messages.

I think her spoons are gorgeous and love the idea.

It's such a nice way to show someone that you care.

To find out more about Chloe and her shop I've asked her a few questions.

How did you learn your craft?

My craft is pretty much self taught. Lots of trial and error. But the idea came from my Grandfather. Christmas just gone I had been making wreaths and really enjoyed being creative and making things for people to enjoy. When the season ended I felt a bit lost and was desperate to carry on being creative. My Grandad suggested stamping cutlery after he had seen a stamped spoon in a magazine, so off I went.. 

What inspires you?

I'm inspired by lots of things. I love history and anything antique or vintage, things that tell a story. Most of all though I'm inspired by people. Especially my friends and family.. I'm always asking my Mum, sisters, daughter, friends what they think of an idea and then we just throw things back and forth.

How did your Etsy adventure start?

I opened up my Etsy shop in January, shortly after I started the business. It was a slow start, I didn't get my first sale until April after I read all the seller handbooks, re-took photographs of my items, adjusted my keywords and joined some teams. After I had re-jigged everything, sales were steady. I'm averaging one every other day now which I'm really pleased about, but there's still along way to go and a lot more to learn. 

 Is there a connection with the Welsh Lovespoons?

The only connection between The Happy Stamp Gift Co and the Welsh love spoon tradition is that I'm Welsh and I stamp love on spoons.. ;) The Welsh love spoons are beautiful, wooden and hand carved decorative pieces whereas the spoons I stamp are vintage silver and silver plated that at one time would have been used to be used to eat with..

What are your plans for the future?

I'm working really hard to get this business off the ground. So far, things have moved really quickly and business is picking up speed more and more everyday. I have a few small shops supplying my creations already and I would love to someday have a well known department store on board too. Perhaps open my own little gift store locally.. I'm such a dreamer, but I'm determined to make these dreams a reality and be a success. 

Chloe has her own website where you can also find her products and more information about her and her shop.

I think Chloe's spoons make such perfect gifts. It's a joy to both give and receive one. Plus they are perfect for romantic occasions. 

Chloe uses vintage cutlery and gives it a wonderful new life.

If you want to have something personal, especially made for you, Chloe will be happy to make it.

There's also a bespoke service which makes it possible to order the spoons in bulk quantity, for example for a wedding.

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

Chloe's items are very pretty and reasonably priced.

Check out this fantastic cutlery...

...and enjoy shopping!

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

 The winner of this giveaway will receive a gorgeous personalized spooning in frame.

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.

Welsh Weekend: Eden's Garden by Juliet Greenwood

Two women struggle with love, family duty, long-buried secrets and their own creative ambitions. But more than a hundred years ago Ann left a trail through London, Cornwall and Wales that leads Carys on a tantalising and increasingly shocking search for the truth. What is the connection of the dilapidated north Wales estate, Plas Eden with her childhood sweetheart and her own family history, and what are the secrets of the statues in the garden?

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Carys returns to the village of her childhood. Pont-ar-Eden is small and there's a dilapidated estate called Plas Eden. There's a garden with beautiful statues. Plas Eden could have been Carys's home, but she and David split up when she went to university. Years later Carys has to start all over again as she's all of a sudden single and she's back to take care of her mother. Maybe now that she's in Pont-ar-Eden again maybe she and David can become friends again.

Ann has escaped something horrible and is now working in a hospital in London. There she works as hard as she can and she tries to stay unnoticed. That doesn't work very well though as she's a skilled artist. Mr. Meredith soon notices Ann and he gives her more to do than cleaning. Slowly Ann is starting to see a future for herself again.

What is the history of the statues in the garden of Plas Eden and what happened with Ann? David and Carys are trying to uncover the truth. They're searching for the story behind all the secrets of the past. While they're searching David and Carys find more than they were hoping for. Will the past change the plans they have for the future?

Eden's Garden is a book filled with family history. I loved the secrets, the path that lead to the truth and every character in this novel. I couldn't put this novel down, I was addicted from the first phrase. The secret is complicated and not something that can easily be guessed, I liked the intrigue. Juliet Greenwood's writing is brilliant and she knows how to tell a story. She can build the tension so well and it's always just enough and never too much. I enjoyed reading this book very much, it's a fantastic story, a book to read again and again.

Welsh Week Interview: Sarah Govett

1) Could you tell a bit more about yourself?

My name’s Sarah Govett (but I guess you know that already!) My debut YA novel, The Territory, has just come out with Firefly Press. I was originally a lawyer, then a tutor, a mum and now a writer. Please buy my book as I really like writing and want to keep doing it!

2) Your novel is set in 2059, why this time?

The exact year isn’t important, I just wanted it to be enough into the future for global meltdown to have happened, but close enough that people and their attitudes are pretty recognisable.

3) Water has made the world a messed up place, how did you get this idea?

I see global warming and resultant flooding/environmental catastrophe as a very real and present danger, and one that we, as selfish humans, are completely useless at confronting. I think we’re at a point where we need to take decisive action, but we’re rubbish at prioritising long-term gain over short-term hardship. I mean, my husband and I recently decided not to eat fruit imported by air and this seemed like a massive sacrifice, but come on – it’s only a packet of blueberries!

4) Noa, the main character, lives in a difficult time. She's smart, but she's not always strong. Is she like any girl her age? And do children in that time have to grow up too quickly?

I see her as being more driven and sparky than most girls her age in The Territory and she manages to keep her sense of humour in a frightening world. They all have to grow up quickly when death is a daily occurrence, but I think they’d still have the concerns of teens today – Does he fancy me? Do I look OK? Are my parents embarrassing? And so on …

5) After reading your book I think a lot of people would think about how good we have it now, is that something you deliberately want to show your readers?

I actually wanted the book to serve as a metaphor for today’s results-obsessed and unfair education system so I guess no, not completely. I think teens today, well in Britain anyway, are under such enormous pressure from exams. They have to work so hard to sit exams in 9 or more subjects, often then to have their results denigrated by newspaper headlines declaring this year’s exams to be ‘the easiest ever’. The Territory is supposed to be a greatly heightened version of real life. 

6) Will there be a sequel?

There will. I’m writing it now!

7) Every action has consequences and in 2059 making a mistake will cost people dearly. How would you cope with that pressure?

Hmmm. Probably not too well! I can handle exam pressure, but when the issue is how far you’d go to survive – that’s harder. I think that’s why I like dystopia as a genre – when the issue is survival, conventional morality collapses and humans become much more primal.

8) The worst thing for me was that there was hardly any reading for fun any longer. That would be my worst fear/most horrible scenario for the future. What's yours?

Not being able to protect my family. With two young girls I’ve become the ultimate soppy mum and anything that involves risk to children is like a sucker-punch. I watched The Lion King for the first time the other day and when Mufasa died I was in floods of tears. Bambi – don’t even go there!

9) What inspired you to build the world you're writing about?

I think the biggest influence has been working as a tutor these past 12 years. I’ve taught some incredibly bright and talented pupils at low performing schools, who, without additional input, have no chance of competing against their often less able peers at more spoon-feeding, exam-factory style schools. I wanted to take this unfairness and heighten it to a life or death situation.

10) A love triangle is never easy, what kind of advice would you give someone who's in Noa's situation.

Looks are important, I’m not going to deny it, but try not to make them your focus. We’re all going to end up old and wrinkly. Go for the person who nourishes your soul.

You can find my review and giveaway of The Territory here.

Welsh Weekend: Suze Loves Welsh Hills Jewellery! & Discount + Giveaway

I love Welsh Hills Jewellery. Every design is inspired by something in the Welsh landscape. I like how Ann manages to translate the beauty of nature into a stunning piece of jewelry to wear.

The Welsh landscape is colorful and glorious and Ann manages to translate it into jewelry designs so well. Her pieces are all really special.

I love that Ann adds the photos in her jewelry listings, that way her customers know exactly which part of Wales has inspired her to make their piece. I think it's such a brilliant idea, it's something unique and different and the result is absolutely gorgeous.

Ann's jewelry is as versatile as the landscapes, I like that a lot.

I've asked Ann a few questions to find out more about her and her jewelry.

When/how did you get the idea to use the Welsh landscape as an inspiration to make jewellery?

I live in the Clwyd Valley in North Wales which is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and it certainly deserved that accolade with its beautiful landscape. As well as my jewellery I love walking, photography and painting and the Offa’s Dyke Path and other local trails provide the perfect way to enjoy the views and take some lovely snaps. I cannot remember the day but I was sketching from one of the photographs when it evolved into a design for a necklace.

Where did you learn your craft?

I studied silversmithing for four years at Teeside University and until that point my jewellery designs had been separate from my photography but it now seems so natural to combine them.

Could you tell something about your jewellery making process?

 I spend a lot of time visiting different landscapes across North Wales some obvious like Snowdon, but also some lesser know places such as Lake Trywern, and then I hunt for the perfect gemstones, shape, size and colour that reflect the specific image.

What's your favourite place in Wales?

My favourite place is Moel Famau Hillfort in the summer when the heather is out is its full glory. There is a perfect walk from Loggerheads Country Park up to Jubilee Tower that meets the Offa’s Dyke Trail and it has been a wonderful inspiration for many different designs.

I love that Ann's jewelry has so much character. It's stylish and elegant. Her photos are amazing as well, they're a joy to look at.

Ann has both a Folksy and an Etsy shop.

On Folksy she offers free worldwide shipping which is fabulous.

Ann's prices are very reasonable, so even if you don't have a big budget you can already buy one of her pieces.

Ann has offered an amazing discount for the readers of my blog. If you purchase something from her on Folksy and you use the code WHJ2015 you get a 20% discount!

Check out this amazing store...

...and enjoy shopping!

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

These blue moonstone silver earrings inspired by Lake Trywern will be for the winner of this 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.

Welsh Weekend: Fairy Tote Bag and Necklace Giveaway

Enter this giveaway to win a tote bag and fairy wish bottle necklace made by Free Range Faeries. 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.

Welsh Weekend: Left and Leaving by Jo Verity

 Fifth novel from Richard and Judy Award winner Jo Verity, author of Sweets from Morocco a “pitch perfect evocation of childhood and sibling relationships" Marcel Theroux A bomb explodes in central London and the shockwaves disrupt the lives of everyone in the vicinity. Australian ex-pat Gil is on a grey gap-year working in the hospital to which Vivien brings Irene for treatment; together they try to bring calm where terror reigns. Irene is thrilled with her new friends, they less so with her ongoing interest in their lives. Gil has a girlfriend, who lives in the same building with her two children, and a family back home. Thirty-something Vivien has a high-flying boyfriend and a time-consuming job which may be about to transfer to Germany. But they keep finding reasons to spend time together in the run up to Christmas. Marooned in Tooting by a sudden snowstorm, Vivien and Gil are forced to spend the holiday confronting secrets and surprises and facing up to responsibilities they’ve been complacent about for too long. And still in the background is Irene, intent on filling the holes in her life…

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Review by Tanya
  Left and Leaving is a book about how unforeseen events can change the way you behave and react. You believe your life is going to take a certain path but things can change very suddenly. It also covers how people can become important to you and dependable but only for a short time. The main part of the story takes place in London with some chapters based in Australia.
Vivian Carey is a strong independent woman who misses her mum dearly after her untimely death and she is left to care for her elderly dad, whom she does not get along with. She has a long term boyfriend, Nick, who she sees when either of them can make time. Her main focus in life is her job in the architect company Friel Dravid Associates. She is due to move to Cologne in the New year to set up a new branch which she is looking forward to.
Gil was born in London but his parents moved to Australia when he was a child. After his divorce from his wife he decided to move back and try and make a fresh start for himself without commitments, living an easy life. He works as a medical photographer in the Royal Free Hospital in Islington. He has an open relationship with the Turkish lady, Feray, in the basement floor flat. He is happy with his easy going life, even if he has to watch his spending.  His children in Australia are not so forgiving and feel like he abandoned them.
Circumstances happen to bring these two characters together and they find that there is an unusual pull towards each other. Gil becomes a great support to Vivian through difficult times. Both of them are unsure of what is happening and find it difficult to put it into words. I found this part very interesting and I liked how Vivian seemed to open up to Gil. 
The book is interesting and I liked the way that you get to know the main characters really well as it is told through their eyes. There are quite a few twists in the story that I did not expect. I would like to know what happens after the end of the story, which is always a sign of a good book

May 25, 2015

Welsh Weekend: Aroma Therapy Diffuser Necklace Giveaway

Enter this giveaway to win an aromatherapy diffuser locket necklace made by Earth To Jill. 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.

Welsh Weekend: A Tale of Two Heroes by Louise Marley

A Tale of Two Heroes by Louise Marley 

As a writer, I try to create heroes who will fit a reader’s idea of being heroes, yet are still flawed enough to be considered realistic. So what does make a real hero? Someone who is willing to risk his own life for others – or someone who works quietly in the background, getting on with whatever needs to be done? I came across two such heroes while researching the story of the Royal Charter, which sank off the coast of Anglesey one hundred and fifty years ago.

The Royal Charter was a steam clipper, which set sail to Liverpool from Australia in 1859. On board were over four hundred passengers and crew, as well as a fortune in gold bullion being shipped from the Australian gold fields (worth around £14 million in today’s money). Many of the passengers were British miners returning with their own gold packed into their luggage, worn in money belts about their person and sewn into their clothes. They had gone to Australia to seek their fortune and were now returning home with the equivalent of their life’s savings.

As the Royal Charter reached Anglesey it headed straight into the worst storm of the century, with 60ft waves and wind speeds reaching 100 mph. The Captain gave the order to drop anchor and cut the masts to prevent the ship from being smashed against the rocks, but the anchor cables snapped and the ship was blown onto a sandbank, close to the little fishing village of Moelfre.

Land lay tantalisingly close. A lifeboat was launched from the ship but sank almost immediately. A Maltese seaman by the name of Guże Ruggier volunteered to swim from the ship with a rope tied around his waist, to enable a bosun’s chair to be set up between ship and shore. He succeeded through a combination of his strength, knowledge of the sea and pure luck, but by the time he was hauled onto land by the villagers he was badly injured. Yet before a rescue operation could get underway, the incoming tide lifted the stricken ship off the sandbank and a huge wave broke it in two.

Thirty-nine people were saved through the efforts of Guże Ruggier, and the twenty-eight local men who had formed a human chain to drag survivors out of the sea. The majority of those who died were laid to rest at St Gallgo’s Church, Llandallgo, where the Reverend Stephen Roose Hughes opened his house to the bereaved, taking responsibility for arranging the identification of the dead and writing over 1,000 letters to their grieving relatives.

In the months following the disaster, salvage operations were able to retrieve the majority of the gold from the wreck but a small quantity is still unaccounted for. The water where the ship sank is not deep and, over the years, the wreck has gradually settled beneath about 15ft of water and sand. Among the articles which have been salvaged by modern-day divers are jewellery, gold nuggets, pistols, silver candlesticks and bottles of wine.

Although Guże Ruggier shunned publicity, he was hailed as a hero and awarded a gold medal and £5 by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI). He was also immortalised in a painting, A Volunteer, by Henry Nelson O’Neil.

The author Charles Dickens wrote about the quiet heroism of the Reverend Stephen Hughes in his newspaper, later to be republished in his book The Uncommerical Traveller.

A few years after the Royal Charter disaster, Moelfre launched the first of its lifeboats; saving over 600 lives including the crew of the Hindlea – wrecked in almost exactly the same spot, a hundred years and a day after the sinking of the Royal Charter.

Louise Marley writes romantic comedy and romantic suspense, and sometimes she mixes the two. She lives in Wales, surrounded by fields of sheep, and has a beautiful view of Snowdon from her window. Her first published novel was Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, which was a finalist in Poolbeg’s ‘Write a Bestseller’ competition. She has also written articles for the Irish press and short stories for UK women’s magazines such as Take a Break and My Weekly.

Twitter: @LouiseMarley

Breathless by Louise Marley is available as an ebook exclusively from Amazon:
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