Dec 15, 2015

Book Review: Pompidou Posse by Sarah Lotz

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Review by Suze

Vicki and Sage have set a garden shed on fire and to avoid the consequences they flee the country and go to Paris. There's only one problem, they don't have any money. They're both seventeen years old and are art school dropouts. Vicki and Sage are optimistic, they're in Paris, they're having a good time and everything will be all right. The longer they stay the harder it will become to make enough money to survive. Going home isn't an option and they're in the city of endless possibilities having fun. They're in Paris where nothing can go wrong, right?

When I started reading Pompidou Posse I didn't expect to read such a raw story. I though this would be a story about two very cool teenagers who were going to have a great time in Paris. They would have lots of luck and everything would go their way eventually. I couldn't have been more wrong. Vicki and Sage have to survive in a city where making money is tough. Pompidou Posse is rough, it's honest and it broke my heart. It's a book I won't easily forget, this story will stay with me for the rest of my life.

It's obvious that both Vicki and Sage are very young and don't always make the right decisions. They're having fights, are gullible sometimes and they aren't always a good judge of character. Their stay in Paris is a succession of problems, of difficult situations to deal with. The girls are resourceful, but they also don't really care about consequences. They're fun and different. I immediately liked them. Vicki has rich parents and Sage knows almost everything about her, but Sage has a lot of secrets. That makes their friendship unbalanced from the start. It was really interesting to see the development. I felt for them and with them from beginning to end. The finale is fitting, but unexpected and I cried a bucket load of tears. Pompidou Posse is a must-read, it's impressive, moving and beautifully written.

2,000,000 Views Giveaway 1: Owls!


Enter this giveaway for a chance to win a lot of different owl stationery items and rubber stamps, plus owl earrings and two lovely gemstone bracelets. Good luck!

I will contact the winner via e-mail. If I don't get a reply within 60 hours the prize will go to someone else. All of my giveaways are international, you can find the official rules here.

Agi & Suze's Christmas Countdown: Interview with Krysten Lindsay Hager & Giveaway!


About Krysten Lindsay Hager

Krysten Lindsay Hager is a young adult author who writes about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, frenemies, crushes, celebs, and values. She writes the Landry’s True Colors Series and the new Star Series. Best Friends…Forever? was ranked at #1 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases in Teen & Young Adult Values & Virtues Fiction. Her work has been featured in USA Today, The Flint Journal, the Grand Haven Tribune, the Bellbrook Times, and on Living Dayton. Krysten’s latest novel, Next Door to a Star, is out now. Coming soon in early 2016: Landry in Like (Landry’s True Colors Book 3) will be available on January 12th, and Competing with the Star (The Star Series: Book 2) will be available on March 22.

Interview

What's your best Christmas memory?

Santa always came to my grandparents’ house, but one year my parents told me to go downstairs because something had been delivered to our house instead. It was a Barbie Dream House and my dad spent the whole day putting it together. I remember I was still in my pajamas and my mom said we were going to get pizza for dinner and Dad and I were looking at her like, “Why is she bringing up dinner?” when we realized we had spent the whole day getting the Barbie house ready and it was dinner time! It was a lot of fun to spend all the time together as a family and well, you can’t beat a Dream House.

What are your 3 favourite Christmas reads?

I always liked the Truth About Stacey (Babysitters Club, Book 3) because it dealt with New York City at Christmastime. I remember getting it in my stocking when I was in the fourth grade and I spent the day trying to sneak away to read a little bit more.

When I was a kid, I also read I'll Take Manhattan (Mirrors #1) by Danielle Barlette, which also deals with New York City at Christmas time. It’s about a teen who visits her fashion boutique owning aunt and saves the day with her brilliant idea.

Are you sensing a theme with the New York at Christmas books? Imagine my surprise when I got to see Rockefeller Center in person and the ice skating rink is actually way smaller than it looks on TV and in pictures. The tree is large though, but I expected the whole area to be enormous. I did see some guy propose to his girlfriend on the ice though. That was very sweet.

My third pic for a Christmas time read is Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. I love the story and I also love all the different versions shown in movies. My favorite adaption has to be the Muppet Christmas Carol though. But nothing beats sitting down and reading it.

If you could choose one person, dead or alive, to celebrate a one time special Christmas with, who would you choose and why?

I would love to have one more Christmas with my dad and I’d really love to celebrate with all my grandparents again, too. This will be my first Christmas without him and I’m a little anxious about it.


What are your thoughts about Santa?

Why? What have you heard? He’s totally real. I don’t know what you’re implying…have you heard something? When I was a little girl, I was in line to see Santa and I told my mom I wanted to ask if Santa could arrange for me to meet my actor crush. My mom said, “Not really sure Santa has those kind of connections.” I thought he did, but I chickened out when it was my turn and just asked for toys. I still regret that I didn’t “go big” on my request.

What are your best and worst Christmas gifts and why?

You know how people used to joke about getting slipper socks for Christmas? I actually got them and the worst thing was I was a preteen at the time, so they were the LAST things I would have ever wanted. However, the second time I wore them, I happened to have the flu and I threw up on them. Lovely story, eh?

My best Christmas gift (other than the Dream House) was a few years ago when my Dad surprised us with tickets to see a figure skating competition in Detroit. My sister and I are really into watching ice skating and my dad watched as well, so he got tickets to an event for us and also bought us ice skates. We got to see people like Michelle Kwan, Evgeni Plushenko, etc. skate. We had so much fun. As for the ice skates? Well, my sister and I had dreams of going onto the ice and at least being able to do a spiral (who am I kidding? I thought I’d be able to at least do a triple axel).However, I put my skates on, stood up, and found I was almost six feet tall in them and that I had a long way down if I fell. I skated that day while clinging to my dad’s arm, while some little girl came up next to me and did little spins. I actually put that whole embarrassing scenario into my book, True Colors. To make things worse, as I was trying to learn to ice skate, the high school hockey team came out to play on the other side of the ice. I was in college, but not much older than them and I looked like Bambi on the ice when he falls. Not hot. But still a funny memory to look back on.

Your favourite Christmas song?

I have a couple. Everyone knows I love George Michael, so “Last Christmas” is one of my faves, but my all time favorite Christmas song is, “Every Year, Every Christmas” by Luther Vandross. I love how sad and soulful it is. I actually did a post of my top ten favorite Christmas songs that you can read here: http://www.krystenlindsay.com/blog/top-10-favorite-christmas-songs

Your favourite Christmas movie?

“A Muppet Christmas Carol” is my must see movie every Christmas and I love the “All I Want for Christmas” movie with Lauren Bacall and the kid who wants to reunite his divorced parents for Christmas. If you haven’t seen them, you really must check them out.

Top 3 books that you're giving as Christmas presents?

I’m giving my mom a copy of Life by the Cup, which is an inspiring book about tea and a woman’s journey of following her passion to create her tea company based on her grandmother’s tea blends. My mom is a big tea drinker and also loves to read inspiring books like that.

I’m giving my aunt a copy of an anthology I was in called, Dear Nana. I wrote an essay about my grandmother for it and I think she’d like reading it.

I’m giving my friend a copy of Miracles Now by Gabrielle Bernstein because I just got a copy and the book reminds me of something she’d be into…but I can’t say which friend in case she reads this!


Most favourite and least favourite part of Christmas?

My favorite part is driving around and looking at the decorations. I love sparkly lights. I also love getting unexpected cards in the mail. Least favorite part is missing people who have passed away. This year will be hard since it’s the first Christmas without my dad. 

I must ask, sorry - the best Christmas food is...?

Growing up, we always had ham and Polish sausage on Christmas Day. I can’t imagine Christmas without ham. When I was a kid, my grandpa used to buy this huge bag of sprinkle sugar cookies—they were super inexpensive (hence the giant bag) and had a buttery taste and one year he couldn’t find them anywhere. My mom and I were going nuts trying to find them in the stores last minute. She actually went up to a store manager and we had no idea of the brand or anything, so she referred to them as, “These really cheap Christmas cookies in a bag.” And he knew what she meant and was able to get her some—haha! So from that moment on we called them the “Cheap Christmas cookies.” 

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Giveaway

One very lucky reader of our blogs will receive a wonderful surprise from Krysten (From personal experience I can tell you her surprises are always really great). Good luck!


Agi & Suze's Christmas Countdown: Interview with Katey Lovell + Giveaway



About Katey Lovell

Katey Lovell is the author of the Meet Cute series published by HarperImpulse. The next part – The Boy Under the Mistletoe will come out on 17th December! Katey is also a reader and all round lover of books and has a wonderful blog.

Interview

1) What’s your best Christmas memory?

My husband and I got married on December 23rd 2005 so that was a really, really memorable Christmas. Weflew to New York on honeymoon on Christmas Eve and woke up on Christmas Day in the city that never sleeps! We had a wonderful meal at a revolving restaurant and then a romantic (but rainy) walk through Central Park taking in the Alice in Wonderland statue and Strawberry Fields. It was such a lovely, lovely day.

2) What are your 3 favourite Christmas reads?

I’ve read so many Christmas books that it’s hard to choose! Although I do love Dear Santa by Rod Campbell as it was my son’s favourite picture book for a long time !)

3) If you could choose one person, dead or alive, to celebrate a one time special Christmas with, who would you choose and why?

This is another tough one but as I can’t imagine a Christmas without my son Zachary I’ll have to say him :) 

4) What are your thoughts about Santa?

He’s a very hardworking chap, for 24 hours at least! I’d love to know what he gets up to the rest of the year though…

5) What are your best and worst Christmas gifts and why?

My son was born on December 19th and I always say he was my Christmas present, but in terms of physical objects one of my best has to be my Kindle as it’s had so much hammer! As for the worst – my husband once gave me an out of date packet of Worcester Sauce flavour French Fries as a sticking filler. I love them, but I’m really fussy at not eating anything out of date so there was no way I was letting those pass my lips!

6) Your favourite Christmas song?

Whilst I love the Christmas pop songs, my favourites would have to be one of the traditional carols – maybe O Come, All Ye Faithful because it’s so rousing. Plus, it has a verse just for Christmas day itself, so singing that at midnight mass signals the start of the celebrations.

7) Your favourite Christmas movie?

This is easy – Love Actually. It’s just so incredibly sweet and touching and brings home the importance of spending Christmas with loved ones.

8) Top 3 books that you’re giving as Christmas presents?

Hmmm… well, without spoiling anything for anyone, I’m giving my son’s godmother The Lake House by Kate Morton – and she’s giving me a copy too as we both love Kate’s books! I’ve also got a Kitty French book for my mum and Joe Root’s autobiography for my husband.

9) Most favourite and least favourite part of Christmas?

Most favourite is spending time with loved ones and not having to go to work! The least favourite is how busy everywhere gets with people Christmas shopping – I’m not keen on queuing.

10) I must ask, sorry – the best Christmas food is…?

We always had Turkish Delight at Christmas when I was growing up and the rose flavour is delicious. My favourite part of a traditional Christmas dinner is a Yorkshire pud – yum!

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Giveaway

One very lucky reader of our blogs will receive a fantastic prize, a red and white striped beach bag filled with bookish prizes, good luck!


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

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Review by Suze

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

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

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

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

Australia Days: Turquoise & Jasper Bracelets Giveaway


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

I will contact the winner via e-mail. If I don't get a reply within 60 hours the prize will go to someone else. All of my giveaways are international, you can find the official rules here.

Book Review: The Fix Up by Tawna Fenske

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Review by Suze

Ben is the new CEO of the family company, but he's a geek and doesn't have a clue how to change his image. That's why he hires Holly, to give him a makeover. She helps him with his presentation skills, his clothing and many other things. Holly is the owner of a public relations and branding firm and she desperately needs money. Helping Ben will also help her to keep her business going. Only they don't count on finding much more than just a business partnership when they start working together...

The Fix Up is fun and flirty. There's a lot of chemistry between Ben and Holly, which is actually what most of the story is about. I liked the jokes between them and often laughed out loud. Ben is a geek, I like geeky main characters, so that was a big plus for me. Ben and Holly are great together, they have such a sweet and lovely vibe while the story is also sexy.

The Fix Up isn't a deep and meaningful story, it's easy going and cute. It's a book that will cheer you up and that will put a smile on your face. It's perfect for a grey and rainy day. Ben and Holly are good looking, smart and kind, a combination that works. I like stories written by an author with a sense of humor and think The Fix Up is definitely amusing reading material. 

Dec 14, 2015

Agi and Suze's Christmas Countdown: Interview with Zoë Miller & Giveaway!


About Zoë Miller

Zoë Miller writes contemporary fiction laced with intrigue and drama. She is published by Hachette Books Ireland and her latest book, A Question of Betrayal, is out now in paperback. When Zoë’s not escaping into her writing world, she juggles her time between her family and the day job. Find out more at her website , Facebook, or follow Zoë on Twitter.

Interview

1) What’s your best Christmas memory?

My best Christmas memory comes from my childhood Christmases. The excitement of Christmas Eve was almost too much to bear. As soon as darkness fell, my father always ‘saw’ Santa Claus and his sleigh lighting up the sky above our house as it whizzed around, but by the time we children got to the window (there were five of us) the sleigh had invariably disappeared behind neighbouring roofs. Nowadays, the excitement might have diminished a little, but the magic of Christmas Eve is always in my heart. 

2) What are your 3 favourite Christmas reads?

When I think of Christmas reads I always remember the Jack and Jill annual that was under the tree the Christmas I was four. Although I couldn’t read properly at the time, I pored over that annual from cover to cover, loving every story and making sense of the pictures. In recent years I’ve enjoyed Emma Hannigan’s warm, cosy, and very Christmassy novels – ‘Driving Home for Christmas’ and ‘The Heart of Winter’.

3) If you could choose one person, dead or alive, to celebrate a one time special Christmas with, who would you choose and why?

My father – he passed away in December, 24 years ago now. He loved Christmas so much because it meant all the family gathering together, and it would be wonderful to have him sitting at the Christmas table one more time.

4) What are your thoughts about Santa?

I love the idea of Santa as a warm, magical, generous, gift-bearing character, who’s for everyone, not just the children. He’s the wonder and excitement shining out from children’s faces, which resonates with the child in every adult, and he’s the generosity of spirit and the kindness of strangers that seems to prevail in a special way at Christmas time.

5) What are your best and worst Christmas gifts and why?

My best Christmas gifts are books – any kind of book, fiction, travel, biography. There’s nothing more relaxing than snuggling up with a book in the lazy, fireside days after Christmas.

I don’t really have a worst gift – all are welcome!!

6) Your favourite Christmas song?

Can I have two? ‘Let it Snow’ and ‘O Holy Night’.

7) Your favourite Christmas movie?

It’s hard to choose, as I enjoy the warmth, silliness and escapism of all Christmas movies, the snow scenes and cosy, decorated houses, but I think ‘Love Actually’ is my favourite.

8) Top 3 books that you’re giving as Christmas presents?

For a friend: An inspirational 2016 diary that’s full of monthly motivations and daily messages

For my daughter: Jojo Moyes latest bestseller, ‘After you’

For my sister: Kate Morton’s latest, ‘The Lake House’

9) Most favourite and least favourite part of Christmas?

I love the weeks before Christmas when the lights begin to shine, on city streets, in shops and windows of houses. Think how dreary winter would be without them. My least favourite part is the financial and time pressure people can sometimes put themselves under looking for perfection or trying to make the celebrations bigger and better. I think it’s best to keep it as simple and easy as possible for all family members, so that everyone can just relax and enjoy the get togethers.

10) I must ask, sorry – the best Christmas food is…?

Those tasty little pieces of ham I pull off the freshly cooked joint on Christmas Eve. Well, as chief cook, I do have to check it’s okay, don’t I?

Giveaway

One very lucky reader of our blogs will receive a wonderful prize:

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A copy of A Question of Betrayal will be for the winner of the giveaway. Good luck!

Book Review: The Things We Do for Love by Alice Peterson

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Review by Suze

January raises her daughter Isla on her own. It isn't always easy to be a single parent with a daughter who isn't healthy, but January can manage. She loves her daughter very much and having Isla is the best thing that ever happened to her. January works for an estate agent. Her boss is a kind older man who's also a really good friend. Only it's time for him to leave the firm to retire. Ward, his replacement, is a challenge. He isn't as easy to deal with and there's tension between them. He isn't an open person. Will January be able to keep her finally nice and safe life or will there be too many changes all at once?

Alice Peterson is an emphatic author. She knows how to write about feelings in detail and her descriptions are always spot-on. Because of that I always feel involved when I'm reading her books. January and Isla are very close and I loved reading about both mother and daughter. They have a great outlook on life and even though a lot has happened to them they're still cheerful and open people. I liked that very much.

The Things We Do for Love is a beautiful story about love in plenty of different classifications and aspects. It's heartwarming to read about January and the people she cares about. I love how Alice Peterson writes romantic stories that have a lot of depth. There are so many layers in her book when it comes to relationships, history and feelings. The reader will read about every key moment in January's past and present and therefore gets the chance to know her through and through. That's what I liked most about this book, being able to come so close to the main character. The Things We Do for Love is a unique love story, it's special in countless ways.

December New Release Giveaway Hop


I usually give away a new release I loved together with a book of choice. I have to admit that this month I've hardly requested anything. I have a lot of older books to get through and don't want them to just sit on my shelf. I still try to read every review copy I receive. So this time I'll let the winner of this giveaway choose books released in December this year up to $20 instead. Good luck!

I will contact the winner via e-mail. If I don't get a reply within 60 hours the prize will go to someone else. All of my giveaways are international, you can find the official rules here.

Thank You!


Yesterday I reached my 2,000,000th view. It's a fantastic milestone and I'm thankful I managed to reach it. My blog is almost two years old now and I'm so happy I started it. The past few months have been difficult for me. I'm still battling an infection and because of that I've been a bit slower with my replies and packages. In September I had to make the decision to keep going or to take a break. I'm glad I'm still blogging as I love every minute of it.

I have a lot of great plans for next year. There will be plenty of new events (I have a lot of ideas), I will keep featuring different countries and areas and I'm working on a new bookish website. During the last days of the year I'll get some extra help, so I can catch up with my prizes. I want to start 2016 with a lot of fun and happy posts and plenty of new giveaways to celebrate my second anniversary.

What makes my day is the comments I receive from my readers. It's wonderful to read them and it's what makes me want to keep going. It's what makes blogging so much fun for me. I'm proud when I hear that someone purchased something from a shop I featured or that someone enjoys a book I recommended. I'll try to keep up my reading and have the plan to feature plenty of Etsy shops again, as many as I can. I'm lucky to have three fantastic sidekicks, two on screen and one behind it. Without them I wouldn't have been able to keep things going. I love them all and am glad I have them in my life.

I want to thank everyone who reads my blog. It means the world to me. A big hug for all of you! 

Agi & Suze's Christmas Countdown: Interview with Birgit & Giveaway!


About Birgit

Birgit has two blogs, The Picture Garden and The Book Garden. She says about herself: I’m a writer and photographer, living in a world of stories. Sometimes the stories knock at my door, other days they attack me without a warning. Sometimes I have to chase them with an iron cast skillet, then I need to gingerly lure them out with a carrot. Ultimately they all succumb to my pen or camera, my weapons of choice in the pursuit of story-telling.

Interview

1) What’s your best Christmas memory?

When I was still a child I loved nothing more than sneaking up to the gifts already neatly arranged around theChristmas tree, spotting all book-shaped ones, and trying to catch a glimpse of the titles through the wrapping paper. Nothing beat the thrill of guessing which books I’d receive, and it goes without saying, those were the first presents I unwrapped too. And when I finally turned in for the night, I already got started on one of the many books I had received. Ah, those were good times!

2) What are your 3 favourite Christmas reads?

This is really hard to answer as I’m not exactly drawn towards Christmas-themed books. That said, I do have one favorite, namely „A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens.

3) If you could choose one person, dead or alive, to celebrate a one time special Christmas with, who would you choose and why?

Seeing how I still have plenty of chances to celebrate Christmas with the living, I’d pick my maternal grandma who passed away more than ten years ago. I fondly remember our family spending Christmas at our weekend home when I was little and I really wish I could experience one of those Christmases again.

4) What are your thoughts about Santa?

I don’t really give Santa much thought. I’m too preoccupied with trying not to appear on the Krampus’ radar. 

5) What are your best and worst Christmas gifts and why?

The best are the ones where I am utterly surprised how well someone knows me when I unwrap a gift that I never would have expected, but which is just perfect for me. The worst are the ones that scream „re-gifted” especially if it turns out I gave the item to the person three years ago just to receive it back, which is both thoughtless and rude.

6) Your favourite Christmas song?

„Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow” 

7) Your favourite Christmas movie?

„While You Were Sleeping” which is such a sweet romance taking place around Christmas time. 

8) Top 3 books that you’re giving as Christmas presents?

I have no clue … apparently I’m running a bit late this year!

9) Most favourite and least favourite part of Christmas?

I love surprising people with my ingenious gift ideas, so my favorite part is seeing (or hearing) how they like their presents. My least favorite part of Christmas is when the time comes to take down the tree and put away all the festive decorations in early January.

10) I must ask, sorry – the best Christmas food is…?

Gingerbread, of course.

Giveaway

One very lucky reader of our blogs will receive a book of choice up to $15 from The Bookdepository. Good luck!


Australia Days: Interview with Helen J Rolfe & Giveaway!


About Helen J Rolfe

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

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

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

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

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

Interview

1) Could you tell a bit about yourself?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Giveaway

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


I will contact the winner via e-mail. If I don't get a reply within 60 hours the prize will go to someone else. All of my giveaways are international, you can find the official rules here.

Dec 13, 2015

Australia Days Book Review: Mistress of Greyladies by Anna Jacobs

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Review by Suze

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

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

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

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

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



I love Mosaic Treasure.


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


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


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


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

1) Where did you learn your craft?

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


2) How did your Etsy adventure start?

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


3) How would you describe your style?

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


4) What inspires you?

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


5) What is your signature piece?

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


6) What are your plans for the future?

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


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


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


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


Check out this brilliant Etsy store.


Enjoy browsing...


And have fun shopping!


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


Good luck!

I will contact the winner via e-mail. If I don't get a reply within 60 hours the prize will go to someone else. All of my giveaways are international, you can find the official rules here.
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