Saturday, 30 April 2011

In the Mail {6} - It Comes in Threes!

 This week was a particularly busy week for my postman. I have already received two treats, but yesterday I received yet another: a singed copy of GLADIUS and the Bartlett Trial by J.A. Paul.

Twitter has become an amazing way to meet and talk to accomplished writers as wells as aspiring ones. One of the many friendships I have been blessed to gain is the one of Jason Paul, an American YA writer. After reading some of my reviews here, he has asked me to review his first book and I am pleased to say I have now received one of the very first copies all the way from America! Jason was even kind enough to sign it! So keep tuned to hear more about this book.

Thanks J.P.! I am looking forward to it and, as promised, I will give you my honest review.

To find out more about J.A.Paul and his book, Gladius and the Bartlett Trial, please visit his website: http://www.authorjapaul.com/

Friday, 29 April 2011

Royal Wedding Fever: My Top Three Book Weddings

Cupcakes by Pat Greenwood
There is no denying it. Today's Prince William and Kate's wedding is nothing short of a fairy tale. You know it even on the way you talk about them. Despite the royal broadcasters best efforts to get us all calling the Princess-to-be Katherine, we still call her Kate. She is not "Catherine blue blood", she's "Kate: the normal girl who married her prince". Literally.


As I share in all the excitement for the Royal Wedding and cannot wait to watch the whole thing on the telly (and let me tell you, this is what makes me believe that over a decade in this country has made me British by heart), it got me thinking what are the three book weddings I love the most. After much consideration I realized I will have to put them into categories and they would not only be book related.


1. Traditional Fairy tales: Yes. Like any other privileged little girl (and I mean privileged as in to grow up with loving parents and a big TV as well as a VCR player) I have grown up watching Walt Disney, where the girl always marries her prince. My all-time favourite is The Beauty and The Beast because Belle falls in love with who the Beast really is, just like it should be. Her love rescues him. The ideal "love saves and solves all" finale.  
*Aw! I'm feeling emotional already!*

 
2. Modern Movies: The couple that did not quite get on at the beginning, but them realized there was a lot more to the person they disliked than just what they saw. Favourite: The Proposal. Moral: Love conquers all and, sometimes, it takes time. 

*Yeap. I'm running over to the tissue box.*


 

3. And finally... Books: The girl who risks anything, even her life, to be with the tormented boy who cannot live without her. Favourite: The Twilight Saga. Moral: Love is not logical and you cannot choose who you fall in love with.

*Definitely crying now.*


So you see... That is most girls’ dream. Even if, like me, you are a cynical skeptic. And it is not about marrying someone with blue blood per se. It is the idea of marring someone you have completely fallen in love with to the point that it becomes life changing for you both. To a girl in love, her man IS her prince regardless of him being truly royal, a vampire, a hairy beast or a Smurf with some serious attitude problems.


God bless the newlyweds!

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Movie Review - Red Riding Hood

Red Riding Hood was one of the many books being adapted into film this year, so how did it fare?


With Amanda Seyfried (Mamma Mia!) as the lead female, Billy Burke (Twilight Saga) and other recognizable faces such as Max Iron, Virginia Madsen and Shiloh Fernandez as well as being directed by Chatherine Hardwicke (Twilight), this film promised romance and action and, in a way, it delivers.


The plot is interesting and obviously based on the original fairytale as well as its book adaptation by California based author Sarah Blakley-Cartwright. I love the way details from, not only the original "Little Red Riding Hood", but also "The Three Little Pigs" were added to the film: the piggies being blown over by a wolf during the village celebration, her dream of "what big eyes you have grandma", the pig's head mask she wears towards the end. I also loved the criticism to the Church's Crusade were the priest was merciless in killing for his cause but when the rules applied to him, his out-take changed into that of having mercy. I also love the twist at the end. You just do not see it coming.

This is classically Catherine Hardwicke, though, and you can tell.  The off-blue take on colours, amazing soundtrack and also her one little flaw: her difficulty in condensing the plot in a way you do not feel something is lacking. Admittedly it is hard to condense a book into under two hours of film without making sacrifices and Hardwicke has drawn the short stick on this issue before, receiving bad feedback from the most purists of Twilight fans. I personally really like her work and think she is very good at capturing the unworldliness of fairytales. Her choices for the soundtracks are the highlight for me. I love the fact she pulls in eccentric and "a little on the indie side" bands like Fever Ray (listen to "The Wolf" here) just as she did for Twilight. It definitely creates a lot of atmosphere.


Performance wise... Where Seyfried definitely delivers, I thought Fernandez definitely lacks. I could have mistaken him for a London boy. Only the swagger was missing and some of his lines were ultra cheesy like: "I thought you'd say that" in key moments of the movie. On the other hand, even though his character was a little dull, Max Iron was sexy as hell and all I could thing while watching it was: he would make a fantastic Jace Wayland for the film version of one of my favourite books: City of Bones - The Mortal Instruments - by Cassandra Clare (read more about it here or in Portuguese here). He managed to add not only good looks but a very interesting and mysterious intensity to a character that was otherwise a little uninteresting. 


In short, I would watch it again and I want the soundtrack album. ^_^


Film Rating: ****
To check the rating system click here.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

TMI - Jace & Clary's Letter {2}

TMI Fanart by Kara-Lija - click here for more
** SERIOUS SPOILER ALERT **
If you have not read City of Bones, City of Ashes or City of Glass by Cassandra Clare, step away s.l.o.w.l.y. and p.u.t.i.t.d.o.w.n.n.o.w.

Ok... I am a tad late in posting this as the book was released earlier this month but, as the letter is not available in the UK, I think I should. Jace leaves this letter in Clary's room the morning he is going after Valentine. At this point they have fallen for each other but believe they might be related. Meantime, Valentine is about to start a war the Shadowhunters have no chance of winning.



Here it is. Enjoy!


"Clary,

Despite everything, I can't bear the thought of this ring being lost forever, anymore than I can bear the thought of leaving you forever. And though I have no choice about the one, at least I can choose about the other. I'm leaving you our family ring because you have as much right to it as I do.

I'm writing this watching the sun come up. You're asleep, dreams moving behind your restless eyelids. I wish I knew what you were thinking. I wish I could slip into your head and see the world the way you do. I wish I could see myself the way you do. But maybe I don't want to see that. Maybe it would make me feel even more than I already do that I'm perpetuating some kind of Great Lie on you, and I couldn't stand that.

I belong to you. You could do anything you wanted with me and I would let you. You could ask anything of me and I'd break myself trying to make you happy. My heart tells me this is the best and greatest feeling I have ever had. But my mind knows the difference between wanting what you can't have and wanting what you shouldn't want. And I shouldn't want you.

All night I've watched you sleeping, watched te moonlight come and go, casting its shadows accross your face in black and white. I've never seen anything more beautiful. I think of the life we could have had if things were different, a life where this night is not a singular event, separate from everything that's real, but every night. But things aren't different, and I can't look at you without feeling like I've tricked you into loving me.

The truth no one is wlling to say out loud is that no ones has a shot against Valentine but me. I can get close to him like no one else can. I can pretend I want to join him and he'll believe me, up until that last moment where I end it all, one way or another. I have something of Sebastian's; I can track him to where my father's hiding. And that's what I'm going to do. So I lied to you last night. I said I just wanted one night with you. But I want every night with you. And that's why I have to slip out of your window now, like a coward. Because if I had to tell you this to your face, I couldn't make myself go.

I don't blame you if you hate me. I wish you would. As long as I can still dream, I will dream of you.

Jace"

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

In the Mail {5} - My Signed Copies!!

I had been stalking the postman for weeks as I waited to receive signed copies of two of my favourite books. They are finally here!! Yeah, yeah, yeah. I am a nerd and a bookworm. Who cares?

I think the postman is now convinced I have some serious issues as when he produced not one, but two packets, I told him I was going to kiss him! I bet he was thinking: "Psycho! Move away s.l.o.w.l.y."

One of the books is a copy of "Finding Sky" by Joss Stirling (read my review here). As she is an English writer, I contacted Joss and asked her to sign my book. She has very kindly agreed to it and while I was at it, being  a little cheeky perhaps, I asked her a few questions for an interview. She has been great and is even sending me an exclusive teaser from her new book "Stealing Phoenix" which will be released in September this year!!  So watch this space.

The other book is a signed copy of "City of Fallen Angels" by Cassandra Clare (more info here). This is the fourth book of The Mortal Instruments series and it was released earlier this month. I ordered my copy from America, not only to have it signed by Clare, but also to receive a copy of the famous letter Jace left Clary (the two main characters) at the end of the third book, City of Glass.

Christmas has come early!!!

Friday, 22 April 2011

A Dose of Fear - Do you love seeing it as much as reading about it?

I love fantasy books and inevitably there are always demons, fairies, vampires, werewolves, in short, something fishy and spooky going on in the story. However, recently I found that while I love reading about them, I do not like the idea that they might exist.

A Spanish TV program decided to talk about fear, so they pranked a hotel corridor by making a normal girl stand alone in her nighties and messy hair right in the middle of it. People's reactions was definitely "interesting" and basically, according to the program, when "crapping yourself" you react in one of three ways: 1. you run, 2. you get aggressive and defensive or 3. you are paralysed. I have watched this video and rolled on the floor laughing, but what would I do if it was me? Probably leg it! What would you do? I know the video is in Spanish, but fast forward to 0:40 seconds and you'll get the gist. One word: hilarious!


Now, if you really want to jump out of your chair... check this one! I couldn't finish watching it!!! The funny thing is: this is possibly what happens in most of my favourite books. Go figure!

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Out & About - Clitheroe Castle

The sun has decided to make a royal appearance in rainy Lancashire so it is time to splash on some sun lotion (yes, because by now we all look like Casper the Friendly Ghost) and head to the Castle Grounds.

Equipped with a big playground, balling green, sport court, skate park, (gosh I am getting tired just thinking about it!) cafe, museum, art exhibitions, the Castle itself, gardens and enough green space to let your little one run him/herself exhausted, the Castle Grounds should be a little hard to miss. However, if like me, you come to Clitheroe on a mission to tick some tasks off your list, you might not even know it is there. There is a very simple reason for that: most of the things I have just listed are not really visible from the main road. So park up, get through the gates and explore!

Clitheroe Castle Ghost Hunt
If the kids are getting a little restless or you just want somewhere to walk around while worshipping the sun on your lunch hour, this is ideal. I sometimes bring my daughter to cycle here as the trail around the green is away from traffic and relatively safe. In a way, it is like a small park.

If you are in the mood to be cultural, you can visit the newly refurbished Museum, the arts exhibitions around it or attend an event at the Atrium Cafe. In particular times of the year you might even come across a public event or festival on the Castle Green and Music Stand.
Clitheroe Castle - Wintry Sunset

If you are into sports, check the skate park and the sport court. And if you are feeling really fit... Run up to the top of the Castle! It sounds rather grand, but "Clitheroe Castle" is really the smallest Norman keep in the country. If you manage to get up there, on the side that overlooks the museum, at the foot of the castle there is an interesting discovery corner for the kids and while they play, the adults can enjoy the views.

In short, there is a little something to suit everyone! When the sun shines, it can also be a little sun trap so come visit, breath some fresh air and soak in some much needed Vitamin D.

OUT OF CURIOSITY: Somewhere in the Rose Garden there is a gift from London. Do you know what it is?

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Win a Copy of James Patterson's Bloody Valentine, Rhoda Janzen's Mennonite in a LIttle Black Dress and Terry Jones' Trouble on the Heath



It was about time we had another giveaway! So do you fancy reading any of these?

* James Patterson - Bloody Valentine (review here)
* Rhoda Janzen - Mennonite in a Little Black Dress (review here)
* Terry Jones - Trouble on the Heath (review here)


Fill the form below for a chance to win all of them! The lucky winner will be announced on Tuesday 26th April 2011. Deadline 6pm (GMT) on Monday 25th April 2011.  


Good luck!



Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Book Review - Bloody Valentine by James Patterson

Bloody Valentine is James Patterson's contribution to Quick Reads, a series developed to encourage people to read more by keeping the books short & sweet and language easy to understand. So was it as good as his full sized novels?

SYNOPSIS:
"This year Valentine's Day isn't for romance. It's for murder. Mega rich restaurant owner Jack Barnes and his second wife Zee are very much in love. However, their plans for Valentine's Day are about to be torn apart by the most violent murder. Who is the strange figure plotting this sick crime? Who hates Jack that much? There are plenty of suspects living in Jack's fancy block of flats. Is it them, or could it be the work of an outsider with a twisted mind? One thing's for sure, the police have got their work cut out solving this bloody mess." (Goodreads)


REVIEW:
What I love about a good short story is that you get thrown straight into the action. There is no time wasted in long-winded character introductions or detailed description of places as they are not really relevant. In Bloody Valentine, by page thirty the murder will have been so crimson your stomach will turn and there will be so many suspects you will not know where to look first. Patterson also gives just enough detail so that you are angry at the murderer's cruelty and wants him/her caught.

The only fault I can pin point in any Patterson novel I have read, independent of its size, is that he works to a formula. I know, I know! It is a little hard not to have a formula on a "whodunit" novel, but Patterson tends to stick to the same details: a wealthy group of people, a working class detective, a relationship based on lust for money, a relationship based on love, deception, sex, etc, etc... After awhile, all his books start sounding the same.

Having said that, I cannot ignore the fact the man is a genius at rubbing the killer right under your nose throughout the story and at the end you are still surprised it is who it is. He always manages to make their innocence so believable that you do not even consider them as a suspect until the one detail you have not thought about becomes the missing piece right at the very end. Then you have the whole unveiling of the culprit in front of everyone. The End.

In this case, this is literally what happened and I was left a little a lost to how fast the confession came from the murderer's lips, if you bear in mind this is someone who plotted such a cruel and detailed crime. You would think they would at least try to talk their way out of if! That seems to be the shortcoming of short stories, tough: a climax that lasts shorter than your Pot Noodle warm up in the microwave. Apart from that, I really enjoyed this thriller and if you are a murder mystery lover, you will love this one.

OUT OF CURIOSITY: To read another Quick Reads review (Trouble on the Heath by Terry Jones) click here.


Book Rating: ***
To check the rating system click here.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Music Mondays - Return to Innocence by Enigma


We all have songs that mark particular milestones or moments on our lives. This is one of mine and it marks one of the most important moments of my teens. So down the rabbit hole we go...


We all get told how difficult teens are and how tough all the changes you body and mind are going through can be. Some of us remember our teen years well, some rather forget them. I am quite fond of my teens! They were amazing and horrible. Amazing because as the daughter of a minister I had quite a sheltered life up to when I was fourteen. After that it was a downhill of experimenting and figuring out who I was. Running away with bad-boy-boyfriend included! Needless to say, I did become the prodigal daughter and the infamous "black sheep". I don't think my family has quite recovered from the shock that I am now a decent citizen and a mother!


They were horrible because we lost my dad to a drunk driver when I was fifteen and because I gave my mother heartache she did not deserve or need. If I am being honest though, I would not change a thing. Regret is not something I carry under my skin. My dad and I were very close and as a bad-boy-biker and a minister's prodigal son himself (who, mere detail, decided to change his ways after spending a few nights in jail), he used to say: "Coffins don't have drawers, "Morena" (my little brunette). What you live is what you take with you and what makes you who you are. How can you understand others' tribulations if you haven't been through any hardship yourself? Just mind other people's feelings, though." Dad was big on the "God is merciful" thing and he thought mistakes were part of life and learning to live. However, "I should remember God had a higher plan for me and I had been made for a purpose". I guess he trusted the education he and my mother were giving my siblings and me. And what do you know? It worked. We are all decent grownups! Please note I have not said "perfect grownups". I am no Mother Teresa.


Having said my parents were laid back, I do remember my dad getting me out of our car and smacking me in front of the American Embassy in Brasilia for hitting my brother on the face with a flute. Yes, a playing flute as in the instrument. I was not gentle about hitting him either. I was 12 and it was soooo embarrassing!!! There is most definitely a limit to being laid back. :-)


LYRICS...

Friday, 15 April 2011

Movie Review - Rio

Brazil is hot property right now, so has the latest Hollywood Brazilian exploit done it justice? 


Here is the thing: usually films portraying Brazil are rubbish. They tend to depict a substandard quality of living so insane you would think it is some God forsaken place where people are dying of hunger or because of civil war. The reality is: Brazil does have slums and rough patches just like any other country. You go right ahead and try to walk in the wrong parts of London, Birmingham or Manchester at the wrong time of day and see if it is any different. Here is where you make a mental note: as a Brazilian, I can tell you my country is crap, but in general Brazilians do not take it lying down when someone else (specially non-nationals) say the same. I know that does not sound like much, but there are over 190 million of us. That is over three times the UK population. Sao Paulo alone is three times the size of London with over 19 million.

Rodrigo Santoro


Ranting done, lets get back to the movie... 




Credentials: By the creators of "Ice Age" and pulling big names like: Anne Hathaway (Devil Wears Prada), Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network), Black Eyed Peas' Will i Am, Jamie Foxx (rapper and actor) and, to make Brazilians happy, our very own Rodrigo Santoro (300 and Love Actually), this flick had everything to be a hit. 



Soundtrack: If it is not quite right, it puts me off a movie like you have never seen. I am happy to report that "Rio" has definitely hit the mark. Whoever did the research was good at it and you will be able to hear a combination of English/ American songs as well as very traditional Brazilian styles like Samba and Bossa Nova. You will also hear all the well known songs assimilated to Brazil like "The Girl from Ipanema" and Black Eyed Peas' "Mas Que Nada". 


Plot: The story is as solid as a kids' movie can be. Obviously, unlike the movie, there is no way a Samba School would put some unknown girl as the highlight of they allegoric car or that someone would be able to enter a random last minute display to this really though competition. Oh yes, make no mistake, Carnival is a competition in between Brazilian Samba Schools like a mini World Cup (to read more about it click here). On the other hand, I think they have pretty much nailed the very Brazilian "malandragem" (mischievousness), easy laid back "nothing is a problem" attitude and madness for partying. The Toucan family was most certainly very close to what a real Brazilian family is like!!! And the panoramic views are definitely true to the real thing. The humour is clever and adults will laugh at it too, unlike some kids' movies where, as an adult, you feel you are being tortured.

My favourite scene was the birds song at the beginning and the end. To me it shows exactly what it is: a Latin blood thing. It is also very true that you learn while still in the crib! I remember my dad teaching me how to dance by having me stand on his toes as soon as I learned to walk. My daughter had the same from my brother, sister and me.


In short, I would most definitely recommend it. If you feel a little odd going to watch a kids' movie without having children of your own... borrow a nephew, nice, cousin or neighbours' children to have an excuse to watch it. It is definitely worth the effort. 


OUT OF CURIOSITY: If you liked this movie, you will also enjoy "The Incredibles" and "Rango".





Film Rating: *****
To check the rating system click here.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Out & About - Genesis Hair & Beauty

With the weekend and the summer fast approaching, it is time to call the beauty squad and indulge on a couple (or in my case, a few) little maintenance procedures. You boys might call it a treat, I call it a necessity.


I could not talk about the "Ooh La La, you clean up well" magic without talking about these ladies! Genesis has a fantastic team of well trained beauty gurus. Trust me, when I found not one but a team of girls that could deal with my unruly, curly and stupidly fine bird's nest of a hair I could have kissed someone's feet! A few of those blessed hands have touched my "nest" without making it kink at some awkward angle that makes me look like I have been dragged through a bush, never mind gone to a hairdresser. Result: trying to accept a few compliments with some modesty. 

 

If you are not short for time, you could also try some waxing, eyebrow dying, tanning, different beauty treatments, facials, holistic therapies (good gracious, I'm running out of breath!), make up and have your nails done or even walk away with a new piercing! If you are getting married, I would check the Bridal Packages. I have used and abused of these ladies for a Fashion Show and they have managed to turn ten models around in no time at all.

And boys? There is no need to be jealous. The girls at Genesis also offer Dermalogica Treatments designed exclusively for men as well as the latest male hair do. And no. You will not be able to have a cut-throat shave here. Try "The Men's Room". Unfortunately I cannot review that one because I do not have a beard. ^_^  I do believe the shave there is very good, though. Or so my husband tells me, and every male I know that has been, for that matter.  


So you see... If I want to morph from caterpillar to butterfly, this is usually my first stop. I do not think the prices are expensive. If you want to enjoy the full benefit of it, however, I would recommend you check the packages rather than individual treatments. For example, instead of asking for a full leg, bikini and underarms wax, ask for the "Holiday Wax" and save yourself some money. If you need to “brush up” for the weekend, book in advance as they are usually fully booked towards the back end of the week. I know. I’ve tried! It did not work. I had to wear winter shoes for a spring wedding. Not a good look.


I reckon it is time I go from ugly duckling to swan, I can feel a makeover coming. All VERY necessary, of course! DO NOT tell my husband otherwise. *scowls in a threatening way*


Ambient: *****
Price: £££
Children: Yes
To check the rating system click here.

Genesis Hair & Beauty
25-27 Wellgate 
Clitheroe, Lancs. BB7 2DP
Tel: 01200 442 259

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Instructions for Idiots

My sister sent me this, so I have not idea who the author is, I but laughed so hard I thought I ought to share my giggles...


"In case you needed further proof that the human race is doomed through stupidity, here are some actual label instructions on consumer goods.


On Tesco's Tiramisu dessert (printed on bottom) -- "Do not turn upside down." (well...duh, a bit late, huh!) 

On Sainsbury's peanuts -- "Warning: contains nuts."(news flash) 

On Boot's Children Cough Medicine -- "Do not drive a car or operate machinery after taking this medication." 
(We could do a lot to reduce the rate of construction accidents if we could just get those 5 year-olds with head-colds off those bulldozers.)

On Marks &Spencer Bread Pudding -- "Product will be hot after heating."  (...and you thought????...)

On a Sears hairdryer -- Do not use while sleeping. (That's the only time I have to work on my hair.)

On a bag of Doritos -- You could be a winner! No purchase necessary. Details inside. (the shoplifter special?)

On a bar of Dial soap -- "Directions: Use like regular soap." (and that would be???....) 

On some Swanson frozen dinners -- "Serving suggestion: Defrost." (but, it's just a suggestion.) 

On packaging for a Rowenta iron -- "Do not iron clothes on body." (but wouldn't this save me time?) 

On Nytol Sleep Aid -- "Warning: May cause drowsiness." (..I'm taking this because???.....) 

On most brands of Christmas lights -- "For indoor or outdoor use only." (as opposed to what?) 

On a Japanese food processor -- "Not to be used for the other use." (now, somebody out there, help me on this. I'm a bit curious.) 

On an American Airlines packet of nuts -- "Instructions: Open packet, eat nuts..." (Step 3: say what?) 

On a child's Superman costume -- "Wearing of this garment does not enable you to fly." (I don't blame the company. I blame the parents for this one.) 

On a Swedish chainsaw -- "Do not attempt to stop chain with your hands or genitals." (Oh my God..was there a lot of this happening somewhere?)"
Honestly!!! You would be forgiven for thinking this just cannot be real, but it is!!! How funny, not to say ridiculous!!

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Lancashire Life & A Dark Anatomy by Robin Blake


Great news! I have been chosen by Lancashire Life to review A Dark Anatomy, the first book of local author Robin Blake.

This crime novel takes place in the streets of 1740s Preston (a city in Lancashire) and Blake has been quoted for his remarkable history research while writing the novel. This is also book #1 of a trilogy and although this is the first novel written under his own name, Blake is well known for working with the creator of TV drama "Prime Suspect" - Lynda La Plante.

Murders, a pair of detectives, suspense and a writer who loves nothing more than to throw all these into a hot pot... I cannot wait for my copy to arrive!

Click here to read Lancashire Life's full article on the writer and this novel.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Music Mondays - Te Amo by Rihanna


It was quite surprising I had not come up with an R&B tune yet, so here it is: Te Amo by Rihanna. I love the beat of this song! It is slow, sexy and it makes me want to dance straight away without batting an eyelid that she is talking about being loved by another girl. You must be wondering "how can you dance to such a slow song?". The answer is simple: Brazilian blood and belly dancing classes! Anything with an interesting beat qualifies. Have you ever heard samba? Exactly! It is all in the blood. Brazilians cannot resist a good beat. My daughter is good proof of that: even though she is born and being raised in the UK, she has the same reaction to this beat. ^_^


Saturday, 9 April 2011

My Harley Davidson Encounter

What happens when you have a city turned country girl and a Harley Davidson in the same sentence?

Since I was little I have had a fascination with motorbikes but, apart from mopeds, I have never actually ridden one. Until today.

My friend Katy is responsible for introducing me to Fair Trade fashion and she is now responsible for introducing me to Harley Davidson! That girl is like a Pandora Box - full of surprises! I was talking to her husband, John, about bikes at my birthday party and he promised me a ride on one of his babies as a birthday treat. Today was "D Day" and it was AWESOME!!! I was like a hyper kid on Christmas and I loved every minute of it!

I know this will sound like a terrible cliché, but it is incredible the sense of freedom you have on a bike. There are many reasons for that:

John's Harley Softail
1. If you have always driven cars, you definitely feel and know you are exposed to the elements and therefore in more danger of getting hurt;

2. It might have something to do with the fact that I was short of being like a dog with its head out of the window: only the tongue wagging to the wind was missing! You can also definitely feel the speed. Even at 70 you feel like you are at 120.

3. Add the fact that it was pretty much like sitting on a thunder: John's gorgeous Harley Davidson Softail roared to life like nothing I have ever seen! Every time he changed gear or sped up the thing roared like a lion. Even as a back-seat rider, it was exhilarating! Harleys are also so classy, it is extremely sexy. They demand a respect no other bike can pull. If you are a self-confessed petrol head like I am, you know exactly what I am talking about.

4. Last but definitely not least, your senses are all at full volume. As the adrenaline kicked in and I was not enclosed on the sterile interior of my car, I could smell everything and see things from a much closer perspective. The drive to Preston, somewhere I go quite often, quite literally felt like going somewhere completely unknown.

Trying on some gear
To add to my experience, John and Katy took me to the Preston Harley Davidson shop where I was glad to have a full lesson on the different types of mean and beautiful machines as well as having a nibble at the Harley Diner and playing dress up at the Clothing and Accessories store upstairs. I  was like a kid in a toy store: "Mum, mum! Look at this one! No!!! Look at that one! Mum! Can I have this? Mum, mum! I want one!!!" I did not know what to do with myself with so much excitement!

Harley Davidson Dyna Wide Glide
Moral of the story: I am in love with the Harley Davidson Dyna Wide Glide and I have added it to my Christmas List (Santa, I promise I will be a good girl this year *begs with wide puppy eyes* and, if I'm not, I promise I will be good at it). Bike riding classes are now most definitely on the cards.

I must have been a biker in another life!

Thursday, 7 April 2011

City of Fallen Angels: Trailers, DSAS, Jace's Letter and More

City of Fallen Angels, the fourth book of The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, is now out!!

I have ordered myself a signed special edition that will come with the, until now unpublished, letter Jace wrote to Clary during City of Glass, the third book. I wanted to wait and write a post when I received the book, but I am so excited I have to babble about it now.

My copy is coming all the way over from Barnes & Noble in America and I am about to bang my head against the wall in anticipation for it. I think the postman will put a restraining order against me soon as I keep on stalking him on the hopes he brings me good news.

To kill some time, and hopefully some anxiety, I decided to put together the latest news on the series as I have not said much about it since the release of the Graphic Novel cover. So here you have it: the latest trailers, links and information.

Latest trailers:


As a treat to her fans, Cassandra has not only written Jace's letter to Clary in full, but also released the City of Ashes' Seelie Court scene on Jace's point of view. It's adorable! Click here to read it.

Maureen Brown is a new character in City of Fallen Angels, but she has her on blog (click here to visit) and this is her latest blog update.


If like me you are eagerly awaiting your copy of the book, you can read all the teaser Cassandra released over the last few months by clicking here.

You can also read the full first chapter of City of Fallen Angels by clicking here.

And if you need a recap... You can watch this trailer.


Now... I just could not finish without the all famous unedited DSAS (read more about it here) as well as DSAS - behind the scenes. We all could do with a little heat, could we not?


For more information on the City of Bones Graphic Novel click here and for the City of Fallen Angels posters click here.

Man!! I cannot wait for this book to arrive!!

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Havaianas, Melissas & The Brazilian Rubber Shoe Craze

Brazil is in vogue. From holiday destination to fashion and movies, if it is Brazilian, it is hot, hot, hot. So what is the hottest Brazilian import of all?

Havaianas
I have to hand that trophy to the rubber shoes!!! You know... When I was little Havaianas were the shoes people who could not afford much would buy because they were durable and cheap. Adults and kids all over the "Favelas" (slums) wore the pale blue and white Havaianas. At some stage it was even listed on the "Cesta Basica" (the Basic Basket - what the Brazilian government calls the collection of products an average low-income family would need to live for a month). But in 1994 they changed their "communications" strategy, which really means marketing, and started working towards making Havaianas a fashion item. Since then it became a craze and you can spot all sorts of celebrities wearing them.


Melissa Kid's shoe
Melissa is following the same pattern. I remember having pairs of Melissas when I was a little girl. They were kids’ shoes. No adult woman would wear them. That was before they changed their hyped up the volume and became a fashion statement by working with international designers such as Vivienne Westwood. Now you can buy both Havaianas and Melissas at high end UK retailers such as Selfridges.


So you see? I have to show the designers and marketing teams of these brands some respect. They went from slum-must-haves to high-flyer-fashion-fabulous and that takes some doing! That is hardly surprising when you look at the array of colours and designs. You cannot help but want one. Back home you can even decorate your Havaiana pairs with especially designed flip-flop piercings! 


So who wants one? I want them all!! 


OUT OF CURIOSITY: Mind not to buy false Havaianas produced in China. Some of them are dyed with toxic ink and will cause serious reactions as seen on this blog. Even if you cannot speak Portuguese, the pictures should be clear enough.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Book Review - Trouble on the Heath by Terry Jones

Terry Jones little short story was so entertaining it made my cold, which made the rest of my day misery, not so bad after all.

SYNOPSIS:
"A comedy of Russian gangsters,town planners and a dog called Nigel. This hilarious story from Monty Python star, Terry Jones, will make you laugh out loud." (Goodreads)

REVIEW:
Everything in this book revolves around a planning application and the people affected by it. Jones punches a lot into this short story without being overbearing and he, very cleverly, describes the common doses of alienation, lack of insight and "little concern for anything other than my little world" attitude you so clearly see on day-to-day basis, especially amongst bigger city dwellers.  


Jones also uses all the stereotypes: unloved and ignored wife, paranoid rich business man, frustrated civil servant, mostly extremely calm with anger management issues professor, the cunning switched on wife, alienated fashion designer, the criminal with good intentions and a conscience... You name it, he has it. Needless to say, this is an awful lot to pack into a short story, but somehow he manages to do it while keeping it simple and straight forward.


The only flaw, for me, would have to be the way things end with Trevor, the Head of the Planning Department. It is almost as if his story got cut short or there are pages missing from the book. Where was he? Why did he have the notes? 


The plot is "annoyingly" funny and filled with clever humour. The most interesting, however, is the fact that, no matter how unlikely or exaggerated your head tells you this story is, you can still actually see it happening! All the while Nigel, the dog which I think actually represents everyone else including you and me, hence the human name, gets on with his life completely unaware of what is going on right under his nose.


Five words: YOU HAVE TO READ IT! I reckon male readers in particular might like this little book.


OUT OF CURIOSITY: Trouble on the Heath is part of the Quick Reads series. The aim of Quick Reads is to encourage people to read, even people who do not usually read or have not read for a while. The books are just over one hundred pages long and cost only £1.99, so it hardly breaks the bank or your schedule. For more information about the series and its titles click here.




Book Rating: ****
To check the rating system click here.
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