Saturday, 28 May 2011

Cover Revealed - Mercy #3 by Rebecca Lim

It wasn't long ago that I mentioned the Mercy series and my excitement for the second book, Exile, coming out in June. Well... The cover and release date for the third book has been revealed!

Muse (Mercy #3) by Rebecca Lim will release in October this year! I know. That is fairly soon after the release of Exile. But, honestly, I don't mind. As a matter of fact, I love it! There is nothing worse than having to wait for ages for the sequel of a series you like. My nail beds don't usually survive that wait. :-S

Quick note, congratulations to Lim for the launch of her books in the US.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Movie Review - It's a Boy Girl Thing

What happens when you are up till late and the TV is on as background noise? You end up watching a film you wouldn't normally choose to watch. And, sometimes, you find something interesting.

That is exactly what happened with "It's a Boy Girl Thing". I am usually not a big fan of silly, sex filled comedies like "American Pie" and "The 40-Year-Old Virgin". So you can imagine what the appeal of "He is trying to get out of her pants" was. None. But, surprisingly, I really enjoyed this movie.

Plot wise: sworn enemies at school and neighbours Nell and Woody are complete opposites. He is the boy tart, vain, rude football team star and she is the smart, school's self proclaimed virgin with her eyes set on going to Yale. Unfortunately for them, after a school trip to a museum showcasing the statue of an Aztec god known to have mystical powers, they end up swapping bodies. He wakes up as her and she as him. 

Granted. That might not be very interesting. What is interesting, however, is the fact that while in each other's bodies they discover they are not that different. Yet, to get to this point they have to go through using each other's "shell" to annoy the hell out of one another, which makes for hilarious situations and scenes. Nell, in Woody's body, breaks up with his girlfriend, dresses him like a "nerd" and cries in public, potentially ruining his "cool". And Woody, in Nell's body, attends girl's pajama and pampering parties for his own benefit, dresses like a "slut" and threatens to "pop" Nell's virginity. However, things change when he realizes how upset she is over the rumors that she, or rather, her body has slept with someone random. It also becomes clear that to achieve their goals of going to college they must help each other perform well on their college interviews. Obviously, along the ways they also manage to fall for one another.

Credentials: This is a not you star packed movie and, like me, you might not have seen this pair of actors in anything you would remember, but I think they've done a good job. Both played being from the other sex very well and even Sharon Osbourne, which I have never seen in a movie before, did well in her role as Woody's mother. 

My only criticism is that the end doesn't quite feel as it should. And I get the point that they have both changed with the experience, but they are not quite themselves either. Woody per example seems to lose all his "alpha maleness". I got the feeling that they have filmed this feature in chronological order to the story, while the end and the beginning should perhaps have been filmed together so that, while the character's attitude and mindset changed, their natural behavior remained true to their original selves. But that is just me and my opinion.

QUICK NOTE: With some Cert: 12 movies you can take the risk of allowing children to watch. While this looks innocent enough, it is NOT one of them. Even though there are no actual sex scenes, the mention and suggestion of it are so obvious and blunt they might as well have added one in. Maybe this should have been rated as a Cert: 15 or maybe I'm too much of a prude. 

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

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Lancashire Mobile Library

Lancashire is a wonderful county with gorgeous little villages and amazing picturesque views. Sometimes it is also isolated, that is where the Mobile Libraries comes in. Like me, you might not know this service is available, so I thought I should spread the word! 

We have wonderful Libraries in the county. Through them you can not only rent books, but also CDs, DVDs, large print and audio books for yourself and your family. Libraries these days are also a lot more versatile and you can surf the internet and attend music, art and "meet the author" events as well as finding out more information on what is going on in your area. To check what is going on in a Library near you (Lancashire only) click here.

If you have kids, there is usually a dedicated children's area. My local, Clitheroe Library, has a cute little Children's Library downstairs including computers and a little shop with books to help your child with their school work including counting, times tables, telling the time and spelling. They also provide a variety of events and activities. For more information click here.

The Mobile Libraries are different. They are obviously smaller and move around to provide adults and children with easy access to books. I came across this one in the tiny little village of Dunsop Bridge, in between Waddington Fell and the Trough of Bowland! If you own a Lancashire Library Card you will be able to use it like you would in any library. You can also return books you have rented from your local library and vice-versa. 

Personally, I was quite impressed by the fit out! To find out if there is a Mobile Library visiting your area (Lancashire only) and where it will be click here

Give it a try and support our libraries. You know what they say: use it or lose it.  

"Clockwork Prince" Cover Revealed at BEA

The cover for Clockwork Price, Cassandra Clare's second book in the "Infernal Devices" series, was revealed today at the BEA (Book Expo America). At the same time the Infernal Devices website was updated with the new art and, for those not attending the event, MundieMoms had the inside scoop on the release. 

Personally, I love it. Jem is my favourite character in this series and I will love to find out more about him as Cassandra has promised we will see a lot more of him in Clockwork Prince. Rather dashy, don't you think?

The first novel, Clockwork Angel, left us eager to find out what happens next and why were the bad guys after Tessa Gray, our heroine. There was also the very hard task of choosing in between Will - the handsome jerk with a dark secret she couldn't help but be attracted to - and Jem - the adorable sensible friend with that gentleman charm she is quite happy to have around. No to mention that both boys not only know each other, but are best friends and comrade in arms. Tricky. 

Cannot wait to read it!

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

PaulaSHx becomes one of Lancashire Life's Blogs!!!

PaulaSHx has officially become one of Lancashire Life's blogs! Check this out! *big grin*

Don't stop at this link, tough. There is also a lot of local information, competitions and interesting news at this website so have a good reckie and add it to your favourites. There is also a link to it from this blog on the side bar under the "Partner's in Crime" section. 

"Award-winning Lancashire Life is THE county magazine for the red rose county, the authoritative voice of its people and an outstanding guide to its places. At its heart is history and heritage, reflected in beautifully crafted pages charting all the positive things happening in our towns, cities, villages and glorious countryside."

Go explore!

Monday, 23 May 2011

Music Mondays - Dance on Our Graves by Paper Route

I came across Paper Route when they landed in the UK supporting Paramore in concert last year. Since then I have been a fan and I love their cool indie rock sound.

This song in particular reminds me of The Mortal Instruments book series by Cassandra Clare. As you must have noticed, I am a big fan on the series and I had just bought Paper Route's Absence album when I started reading the first book - City of Bones. Needless to say, this has become Jace & Clary's song for me and I would love to hear it as part of the soundtrack in the upcoming movie adaptation. What about you? Do you think it makes the cut?

Book Review - My Top Three Brazilian Books

I'm sorry this is late coming. 

As promised, I would like to end our Brazilian Week talking about books. (Of course! Did you really thing it would be something else?:-) There are many fantastic writers in Brazil and it is hard to short list them, however, sometimes you read books that will just not sit on your shelf quietly. 

One of them was actually already reviewed here (to read the review click here). "Sabado a Noite" (Saturday Night) by Babi Dewet is a fab book and I stayed up untill 5am reading it because I just could not put it down. If you can read Portuguese, it is most definitely worth checking her blog as well. A Beatles and McFly fan, Babi is a seriously cool chick with her fingers on the pulse of all the good things happening in Rio's cultural scene.

Another favourite is "Sete Faces do Amor" (The Seven Facets of Love) by Pedro Bandeira, Luiz Maria Veiga, Jesse Navarro e Márcia Melo, Júlio Emílo Braz Viviana de Assis Viana, Fernando Portela e Edson Gabriel Garcia - a collection of seven short stories put together in an anthology. Each story looks at a different type of love: all-consuming, platonic, romantic, and possessive, the love of a friend, the love that betrays and the one that is on your life for a short period of time for a reason. The best thing I can tell you about this book is that I read it quite a few years ago as part of the list I had to read for my Literature classes. I very rarely found on that list books that I liked, but this was lovely and over a decade later I still remember it.

The third book is actually a collection of books (sorry, I know I am cheating, but I just could not pick just the one!) - a series called "Plenos Pecados" (Simply Sins - click here for more information) by seven different authors, some of which are not actually Brazilian. Each book focuses in one of the Seven Deadly Sins and the intention is to not only read about them but also make you feel them. My favourites are the books on the sins of: Anger ("Xadrez, Trucos e Outras Guerras" - Chess, Cards and Other Wars - by Jose Roberto Torero), Lust ("A Casa dos Budas Ditosos" - The House of Happy Buddhas - by Joao Ubaldo Ribeiro) and Envy ("Mal Secreto" - Secret Evil - by Zuenir Ventura). I didn't really enjoy the book on the sin of Sloth, but hey! That was the only one I did not enjoy out of the entire series, which is not bad. Definitely worth reading. A quick tip: Take deep breaths at the end of the Anger book and try not to burn it or scream at your walls. Get the cold shower running while you read the book on Lust, you will need it. Seriously. And get ready to bite your nails to the quick while reading the one on Envy. 

So there you are! That is our Brazilian Week over :-( and I hope you had as good time reading about it as I had writing it! Here is a recap if you missed any of the posts:

And Today we talked about books - Book Review - My Top Three Brazilian Books

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Winning Typhoon by MCM

Fancy that!

I usually joke that if there are three prizes to be won and three people competing including me, someone will walk away with two prizes. Well... This must be my lucky week!

I have won a copy of Typhoon over at Brazilian Book Worm! Thanks so much! I'm looking forward to reading it.

Check the synopsis of this book by clicking here.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Book Review for Lancashire Life Magazine {1}

I am taking a break from our Brazilian Week to talk about a very special book review!

Last month I was chosen by Lancashire Life to review "A Dark Anatomy", the first novel of Preston born writer Robin Blake. The review has now gone live at Lancashire Life's Website. Check it out and don't forget to give it your rating!

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Book Review - "Turma da Mônica" (Monica's Gang) by Mauricio de Sousa

Mauricio was originally a crime reporter for Brazilian newspaper "Folha da Manhã”, but in 1959 he asked his editor to print one of his comic strips and the rest was history. Today his children comics are just about everywhere in Brazil and they are a brand on their own. 

Today, Mauricio's comics include a range of characters separated into a series of different groups or gangs and Mônica's is just one of them. It just so happened that her gang was the one I loved the most when I was learning to read. 

The main character was based on Mauricio's daughter, Mônica, a strong minded, feisty yet cute and sweet little girl who would not take things lying down. The cartoon version of Mônica lives with her parents (obviously), has a dog called Monicão and her most prized possession is a cuddly blue rabbit that is a source of comfort as well as a weapon to put anyone bothering her in their place. Magali (a little girl that not only loves to eat, but eats like a trooper and who's favourite food is slices of watermelon), Cebolinha (a boy with weirdly spiky hair and a speech impediment that makes him swap all "Rs" for "Ls") and Cascão (a boy that runs from water like the devil runs from the cross and has never had a shower) are all her friends and part of the gang.

The stories are about kids' stuff: the endless war in between boys and girls, Cebolinha constantly trying to steal Mônica 's rabbit only to fail and get smacked by her with the same rabbit, the whole crew ganging up to try give Cascão a shower... But in the end it is about friendship. How this four very different kids love each other's company and how, no matter what the situation is or what happens, they are still friends. It is about how everyone has a little quirk, but these quirks do not make any of us any less lovable. So while being good fun, Mauricio's comics are also educational. There is even a new series, Turma da Mônica Jovem (Monica's Teen Gang), portraying the gang a little older and tackling teen issues.

Needless to say, I had a lot in common with Mônica - the weird looking girl, with funny teeth and an attitude to guard her sensitive soul - and now my daughter also reads the comics. I don't know about you, but I find this quite beautiful and it is a credit to Mauricio and his team. It is has to be amazing, as an author, to see your work pass from one generations to the next.

You can now also buy these comics in English, Spanish, Italian and Indonesian. If you don't have children of you own, borrow a nice, nephew or neighbours kids (just don't kidnap anyone) to have an excuse to read them. It will be worth it.

For more information please visit: 

Recap of our Brazilian week: 
On Monday we listened to some music. On Tuesday we talked about beauty and Brazilian Waxing (ouch!), yesterday we sampled some yummy food and today we had a look at Children Books. Tomorrow I will talk about the best books I read while living in Brazil.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Out & About - Bem Brasil in Manchester

This week I am having a Brazilian party on the blog. On Monday we listened to some music (more Brazilian music here), yesterday we talked about Brazilian beauty and today we are talking about food! Yummy Yum!

One of the things people ask me when I tell them I am Brazilian is: "what is Brazilian food like?" Well... At Bem Brasil you are sure to find out!

Here is how it works: you pay a set amount and you can eat as much as you want. There is a selection of salads and side orders available from the cold and hot bars and, if you flip the little cup holder on your table to show the green side, the "carvers" will start serving the barbecue. While you are at it, you should try some national delicacies: chicken hearts and pineapple with cinnamon might just fit the bill. And if you want a traditional Brazilian meal try some rice, beans and salad with your steak. Don't forget to put a little "Vinagrete" on top - a tomato, onion, vinegar, olive oil and pepper dressing.

I have eaten in many of the descent Brazilian restaurant going and Bem Brasil has been the best so far. The reason is simple. Barbecue houses will usually fill you up with the average cuts of meat hoping that by the time the good expensive stuff comes out you are far too full to eat too much of it. This barbecue house, however, brings the good stuff out as soon as it is ready. You will also be able to try everything here: chicken, beef, pork and lamb. Not to mention the cool cocktail bar downstairs. Caipirinha (the Brazilian Mojito, minus the mint plus the lime, with Cachaca - our own version of rum or tequila) is the cherry on top of this Brazilian experience, but be careful! Show it a lack of respect and you will wake up with very vague memories.

Obviously, this is a place to eat to your heart’s content so coming to Bem Brasil while on a diet or not really hungry is a waste of your money. Equally, coming to a barbecue house, paying for the carnivores' menu, and filling up on salad and side orders is a little pointless so try a little of everything but save space for the protein. Unless you are vegetarian, of course, in which case they will have a especial deal for you. And do not forget to try the desserts! My favourite is the Passion Fruit Mousse. Honestly, it's just orgasmic!

Good Brazilian music, food, decor and drinks for the complete Latin experience.


Ambient: ****

Price: £££
Food: *****
Children: Yes

To check the rating system click here

Bem Brasil - Manchester
King Street West
Manchester M3 2GQ
Tel: 0161 839 2525

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Out & About - Brazilian Waxing Company

Brazilian culture likes their woman looking curvy and feminine. Add hot weather, small clothes and a widespread female dislike of having their legs feeling like a cheese grater and the result? "Brazilian Wax".

This type of waxing is actually a very delicate and accurate technique. It involves pulling body hair by its root from very sensitive areas of the body and it can be ridiculously painful if not done properly. Not to mention that it can irritate the skin and even rip a very thin layer off. Bearing all this in mind, and the fact that in England the weather is not usually Brazilian hot, it is no surprise that most beauty salons do not offer this treatment as an option. And sometimes the ones that do, do not really do it as they should.

If you want the real deal, the Brazilian Waxing Company in Manchester is as good as it gets. They are not only specialized in hair removal, but they also train all their beauticians at their own Academy to provide the exact same standard of service, no matter who is looking after you. Every time I have paid them a visit the results have always been the same and I hardly ever have the same therapist looking after me. The rooms are always immaculately clean, warm and comfortable and their beauticians are nothing short of perfectionists. They would wax your soul if they could get to it! Boys? There is no need for jealousy. They also offer a range of treatments for you.

I won't lie. Waxing is painful at the best of times; leave alone when you are having a "Brazilian" done. I am sure some hardcore feminist will curse me for saying this, but as women we should know better. No pain, no gain. And the benefits are many from a smooth finish that lasts up to 3 weeks to your boyfriend's appreciation at the lack stubbles, not to mention that, overtime, it will also decrease the amount of hair itself. On the negative side, it is painful and you have to wait until the hair is a certain length before you can wax again so there is a small amount of time in which you will not be looking so sexy.

A word of advice... I know it is virtually impossible to think this way when you are about to suffer some pain, but try to relax. Contracting your muscles will only make it more painful.

* IF IT'S YOUR FIRST TIME WAXING: do not have a "Brazilian" unless you have a high pain threshold. Try a "Basic Bikini" instead and build up to the "Brazilian" or the "Hollywood". In case you are wondering, the difference is the amount of hair left behind - from degrees of some to nothing in this order: Basic, Brazilian and Hollywood. I would also advice that you take a couple of painkillers 20 mins before your treatment and to avoid waxing just before you are due your period, as your body will be more sensitive to pain.

* IF YOU HAVE WAXED BEFORE BUT HAVE NOT HAD A BRAZILIAN: take a deep breath and leave your inhibitions behind. This is a very "up-close and personal" encounter. Pop a couple of painkillers 20 mins prior and be prepared to be put in some interesting positions. 

This is not the cheapest you will pay for a wax either and having your underarms, full legs and a Brazilian done will set you back a good £48 but, in my opinion, it is money well spent. At the end, once you get passed the initial discomfort, you will love the results and I doubt you will be running back to the razors.

Ambient: *****
Price: ££££
Children: No
To check the rating system click here

Brazilian Waxing Company
Tel: 0208 1234 332
Now in two new address!!!
Oxford Rd Branch
3 Oxford Road, Manchester M1 6EY
City Center Branch (Just off King St.)
7 Cheapside, Manchester M2 4WG

Monday, 16 May 2011

Music Mondays - Translation of August Day Song by Bebel Gilberto

Bebel Gilberto is one of the few Brazilian artists currently playing at International level. Music was something she learned while still in the crib and her pedigree includes being the nice of Chico Buarque - one of the most well known and influencial MPB musicians and composers.

MPB stands for Brazilian Pop Music (in Portugues, of course). In case you are wondering, Brazilian Pop Music, also know as Bossa-Nova Urban, is the authentic genre that mixes original national styles like Samba to other styles such as folk, rock and jazz to create the mellow, easy-going Bossa-Nova sound. 

I hope you love it as well as I do!


Sunday, 15 May 2011

Sequels I Cannot Wait to Read

You know when you start reading a series and get so absorbed in it that you would sell one of your kidneys to know what happens next? (Yeah alright, it is a gross exaggeration, but you get my point) These are the culprits I blame for my addiction:

City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare - My copy is actually staring at me as I write this and my hands are itching. CoFA (as we call it) is the fourth book of The Mortal Instruments series. There is a little too much to explain but, in short, Clary, her love interest - Jace - and their friends are demon hunters; also known as Shadow Hunters. The events in this book take place a few weeks after the events on the third book, City of Glass, where they just about managed not to be killed. Unfortunately for them, and fortunately for us, the drama is not over.

Exile by Rebecca Lim is the sequel to "Mercy", the first book of a series by the same name. Mercy has a strange gift: she wakes up on the body of a stranger and cannot remember where she was last or even what she looks like.  A few things were left unexplained on the first book so I am looking forward to some clarity as well as finding out if she will remember the human boy who won her heart on her last life. Exile is out in June.

Forever by Maggie Stiefvater is the final installment of The Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy. In the first book Grace met wolf-boy Sam; on the second book they were torn apart and there is something more sinister lurking under the surface. We also met Cole. (Ah! Cole... *day dreams* I think I have developed a serious book crush) The third book is out in July and as the story reaches a resolution my question is: would that be a good or bad one? Stiefvater has said the tears on the book cover could be the tears of her fans. My nails are bitten down to the quick.

Stealing Phoenix by British author Joss Stirling is the sequel to "Finding Sky" (read my review here). When her parents accept an offer to work in the U.S. Sky discovers some really interesting things about herself and Zed, the boy she met at her new college. Apparently, they both possess some very unique talents and an unbreakable bond. That is... Apart from the fact that they don't actually get on! Unfortunately for Sky, discovering more about her talents means unlocking the past she run away from. While on the first book you are introduce to the Bennedict Brothers and Zed in particular, on the second you get to find out more about another talented Bennedict - Yves - and his Soulfinder. Out in September.

That is when I say: "Man! Having to wait an year to read what happens next is a little like torture!" So lets start the group therapy! What books can you not wait to read this year?

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Cassandra Clare Spoils Fans with "Because It's Bitter" and "Kissed" Excerpts

Cassandra Clare has been spoiling her fans and we love it!!!

First it was the launch of "City of Fallen Angels", her most recent book and fourth on The Mortal Instruments saga - we had everything from book trailer to posters and play lists (click here for more). Then there was Jace's famous letter to Clary  in "City of Glass" (click here to read it) and now... She has released a couple of excerpts from "City of Ashes" and "City of Bones":

1. "Because It's Bitter" is my favourite scene of all The Mortal Instrument books from Jace's point of view. It's his version of the Seelie Court kiss and I love it! Click here to read it.

2. "Kissed" is part of "City of Bones" and it is very insightful as to how Magnus and Alec's releationship started. It is also quite interesting as most of this romance happens off page and it is not until "City of Glass" that you actually see them as a couple. I must warn you, just in case, that Alec and Magnus' is a gay relationship so if you do not like this kind of thing, it is better left unread. Personatly, even though I would not get out of my way to read anything LGB, I think Cassie's writing is as beautiful as ever and the only thing that is different is the fact that the scene happens in between two boys. She is also very candid to the issue of coming out as being gay, as that is Alec's difficulty. Definitely worth it. Click here to read the entire scene.

Revealed: Books & Covers

Maggie Stiefvater has released the cover of her new book "The Scorpio Races". According to her this is a standalone novel and it involves blood, beaches and kissing. The Scorpio Races releases over in the U.S. on October 18th and, on my humble opinion, if Stiefvater is using the same formula she used for "The Wolves or Mercy Fall" trilogy, she will have no problems making this one a success.

On another update... Cassandra Clare has announced the cover for Clockwork Prince, the second book of her "Infernal Devices" series, will be revealed at the Book Expo America, NYC by Simon & Schuster on Wednesday 25th at 9am. If, like me, you will not be in New York for the revealing, don't worry. All us, other Mundanes, will be able to see it over at Mundiemoms at 10am on the same day.

Next week Wicked Lovely author Melissa Marr is also launching her new adult novel: Graveminder. Check out the video below and if you want a sneaky preview click here to read the first few pages. This particular book is also set to become a TV series in America

It's all very exciting!!!

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Toothpick Builders

Check this out! The size and detail of these toothpick replicas is just mind-boggling. What do you think?

I admire anyone who can do things I can not. For starters I don't think I wouldn't have the patience! I can imagine it being quite fulfilling to see a finished project, though. :-)

Monday, 9 May 2011

Music Mondays - Closer to the Edge by 30 Seconds to Mars

"30 Seconds to Mars" has become one of my favourite bands. I love their sound, lyrics as well as their very theatrical music videos. No surprise there, baring in mind their lead singer, Jared Leto, is an actor. They also seem to have a finger in a few current movie and TV series soundtracks, so it is hard to ignore them.

This song in particular has a powerful message about living and not regretting. Not even failed attempts that take you closer to the edge (no pun intended). I know... It is an ever so slightly selfish attitude, but in the end of the day life is short and regret is a heavy thing to carry around with you. Unfortunately, you only learn as you go along so... You can either hide from everything for the rest of it and never take chances or you can try.

I don't know about you, but I rather try. All I can take with me is what I've lived. Mind other people, though. Not what they think of it, but their feelings, if you know what I mean.


Closer to the Edge by 30 Seconds to Mars

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Out & About - Melt @ Backridge

Cheryl making the candles
What do you do when you need to buy one of those difficult-to-buy-for-people a gift? Me? I head to "Melt".

If I tried to explain to you that Backridge is a complex of shops in the middle of nowhere in what, by all rights, should be a farm yard, I bet you would think I am exaggerating. When I said that some Valley treasures are hard to come across unless you know where they are I wasn't kidding. Melt is one of these treasures.

I remember when it opened. My yummy-mummy mother-in-law, the queen of "alternative" discoveries, could not stop talking about some amazing hand-made candles that I must go check for myself. So I did and in the middle of fields in between the villages of Waddington and Barshall Eaves I found this workshop and this little shop selling these gorgeous fragrant candles. It is not just the smell that wins you over, is the entire look of them. Because they are hand-made and beautifully finished with a single beaded line tied around them, they have this organic rustic look. In an era where more and more products are mass produced that level of uniqueness becomes a luxury.

This was a few years ago. Now Melt is a quirky gift shop full of hand-made or otherwise organic treats sourced from all over the world: French parfum, Italian handbags, organic beauty products, hand painted mugs and cups, interesting books, hand-made cards and jewelry and much more. Though time has passed and success has come, the candles remain the same. The only difference being that the range is now bigger and better and no longer only sold in this little shop but also in a series of boutique retailers around the country including department store Liberty. You know what I like the most about it, though? Even though as a business Melt has achieved great success, you can still find Cheryl, the owner, serving behind the counter most days and that woman knows her stock like you would not believe.

So it is really no surprise that this little treasure trove has become part of my holy grail for any gift hunting as well as spoil-myself moments. I must warn you, however, that Melt is a very dangerous place. You pockets will feel definitely lighter once you walk out of the doors. Not because things are expensive - to be honest I think you get what you paid for and all the items in this shop are well worth the money - but because I doubt you will be able to walk out without having found something to buy or to come back to buy. Enter at your own risk. I should know!

Bethany Rose
Now, I have never asked any of my readers for anything, but if you are visiting Melt please, please, pretty please ask Cheryl about her "Candle 4 Katy" range. I had the pleasure of knowing and working with a lovely woman called Katy Rose who unfortunately died of Breast Cancer last year. Since then, Katy's nine year old daughter, Bethany, has started "Candle 4 Katy" - a fundraising campaign to help Breast Cancer Care. Her aim is to raise £5000 for the charity. Originally they were just the candles specially designed for the campaign by Melt, now I know there are all sort of products and events being organized all over our little market town of Clitheroe to help Bethany in her mission. Katy's candle cost £20 and £12 goes straight to the campaign. Like any of the Melt candles, they are gorgeous and smell amazing so if you only do one thing for a charity this year, let it be helping this little girl on her mission to honor her mum. For more information about Melt and "Candle 4 Katy" click here.

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

Lilac Barn, Backridge Farm
Twitter Lane, Waddington
Clitheroe, Lancashire BB7 3LQ
Tel: 01200 443 412

Friday, 6 May 2011

Movie Review - Thor

What does a superhero Marvel film has to offer someone that is not remotely interested in comic books? Apparently, a lot.

This movie called my attention months before it hit the big screen even though I am no great fan of Marvel. You will not catch me watching Captain America and I am pleased to say Thor in the movie, looks way more appealing then the Thor in the comic books. Having said all that, with a cast full of stars including Natalie Portman (The Black Swan), Anthony Hopkins (Hannibal), Stellan Skarsgård (Mamma Mia & Pirates of the Caribbean) and Rene Russo (Lethal Weapon) as well as newcomer Australian hottie Chris Hemsworth (Home & Away) how could I resist having a peep?

If you are a comic book fan, you will notice the changes to the plot and the more purists of followers might not actually like them, but I thought it was a good way to shorten an otherwise quite lengthy story. Thor has been appearing in Marvel Comics since August 1962 so there had to be a cutting line somewhere. In short, I thought the plot was short and sweet with plenty of action to satisfy the boys and a subtle, but still pretty much there, romance to make the girls happy. As a romance fan, I would love to have seen more happen in between Thor and his human love interest Jane, however what does happen in between them has an innocent and pure feel to it, making it quite sweet and giving the god of thunder a soft spot. If you are a fan of special affects, you will like all the other worlds created in this movie and some of the fighting moves are nothing if not acrobatic. 

Soundtrack wise, this is a traditional film with scores being composed for it. And while there were no bands you could recognize, composer Patrick Doyle (known for his work in Harry Porter and Bridget Jones Diary as well as others) did a great job in creating atmosphere and building momentum. 

Marvel Studios has and is releasing a series of superhero movies: Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Hulk, Spider Man, X-Man etc. So it is of no surprise that some of these are to be put together to make the team of superheroes known in the comics as "The Avengers" for a film of the same title due to release in 2012. Honestly, I would rather see a second movie of Thor as they have done with some of the other superheroes such as Spider, Iron and X-Man as well as the Hulk. I am all for seeing the romance in between Thor and Jane develop, not to mention the prospect of seeing Chris Hemsworth without his shirt on. Girls, I promise you is worth watching the movie just to see it in action. :-)

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

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Interview - An Exclusive with the Author of "Finding Sky" Joss Stirling

Be it online, during an event or at a personal level, I think anyone who admires or follows a particular artist will agree that it is great when you can interact with them.

Readers are no different. As a reader there are a series of authors I love reading and talking about and it is great when I can actually talk TO them. I take my hat off to Joss Stirling and Cassandra Clare who are always take the time to talk to their fans.

As she is an English writer, I contacted Joss Stirling to ask her to sign my copy of "Finding Sky" (book review here) and she was ever so kind to agree to it. While I was at it, being a little cheeky perhaps, I decided to send her a few questions as an interview for the blog and it was lovely to receive her handwritten reply! Here is what we talked about:

So, Joss, when did you start writing? Have you always had a passion for books?
I wrote constantly as a child, but turned it into a profession about eight years ago. I've always loved books. I even have a Doctorate in English Literature!

Did you decide to become a writer and pursued it or was it something that happened organically?
Both. I was contemplating my return to work after having my third child, wrote a book for my eldest and received a good response from a publisher so I took the chance.

I know you travelled to research for "Finding Sky", but how did the idea of a savant novel came about?
Again, my own daughter provided the clue. I wanted to please her reading tastes without doing vampires, angels, werewolves, zombies, etc... That left E.S.P.

Was any of your characters based on someone in real life?
Not that I know of. Characters emerge in their place in the story.

"Stealing Phoenix", the second book of the series, is releasing this year. What can we expect?
Fireworks! Yves (the one who can explode things, remember?) gets involved with a thief with huge problems behind her, like murderous relations, crime and bad attitude.

Can I be cheeky and ask for a little exclusive teaser?
You can. Watch this space!

Now for the fun stuff! What book are you reading right now?
I'm judging The Guardian Book Prize so a big pile of shortlisted authors.

You have written YA and period dramas. Are these your favourite genres?
No. I don't do favourites.

What book is your all times favourite?
I don't have one, although Pride & Prejudice would be right up there.

What item in your handbag can you not live without?
My notebook.

What is your favourite movie?
Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Ring. It's a brilliant adaptation.

Are there any songs that remind you of "Finding Sky" and "Stealing Phoenix"?
Absolutely! "Cry me a River", "Mercy" and Taylor Swift's Fearless album for "Finding Sky". For "Stealing Phoenix" I like Adele's 21 album.

I think Joss was talking about the song Mercy by Duffy, but I like Mercy by One Republic and I think the lyrics suit the storyline beautifully. Hear it here.

Joss, once again thanks for signing my book and for answering all my thousand questions, not to mention giving me a teaser!!! 

"Stealing Phoenix" releases in September this year, so keep tuned as I will most definitely be reviewing it here.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

GReads!: Top 10 Tuesday: Slap-worthy Girls in YA!

I loved this and thought you would too! Enjoy!

GReads!: Top 10 Tuesday: Slap-worthy Girls in YA!: "Hosted by: The Broke and the Bookish This week's top 10: Those girls in YA that you just want to slap!"

Book Review - The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupéry

I just went through three days of a mad spring clean in my house (hence my disappearance, sorry!) and while I found (and threw away) a lot of clutter I also rescued some forgotten and lost treasures.

One of the treasures I found was my favourite book: The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupéry. Now, I know you should not really have favourites if you are an aspiring writer or reviewer, but I love this book for many reasons. One of which, and perhaps the main reason, is that although on the surface it is a children's book if you read in between the lines it is a serious critique on society, love, life and death.

The Little Prince meets the main character, an aviator that has crashed in the desert just like Exupéry himself, during his travels from his home planet B-612. During his journey he comes across an array of people and planets: a man who thinks himself a king when he is clearly not, a vain man who sees everyone as his admirers, a drunkard who drinks to forget he is a drunkard, a man who thinks he owns the stars and that makes him very rich, a workaholic who works himself to death for no apparent reason, a geographer who does not like to explore, and finally a pilot who wanted to be an artist but was told to get a real job. All of which are markers, if not issues, of today's society. Not to mention the Little Prince's love for a rose back in his home planet and how they took each other for granted as well as his view on how dying is just going home to somewhere where you will see all your loved ones again.

It is a wonderful book. Exupéry is a writing genius and, while a child will read this as an adventure, an adult will learn some precious lessons if paying attention. Here are my favourite quotes:

"Gown-ups like numbers. When you tell them about a new friend, they never ask questions about what really matters. They never ask: "What does his voice sound like?" "What games does he like best?" "Does he collect butterflies?" They ask: "How old is he?" "How many brothers does he have?" "How much does he weigh?" "How much money does his father make?" Only then do they think they know him. If you tell grown-ups, "I saw a beautiful red brick house, with geraniums at the windows and doves on the roof...", they won't be able to imagine such a house. You have to tell them, "I saw a house worth a hundred thousand francs." Then they exclaim, "What a pretty house!" Pg. 10

"I need to put up with two or three caterpillars if I want to get to know the butterflies." Pg. 27

"For me you're only a little boy just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you have no need of me, either. For you I'm only a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, we'll need each other. You'll be the only boy in the world for me. I will be the only fox in the world for you (...) You become responsible forever for what you've tamed." Conversation from Pg. 59 to 64

"One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes." Pg. 71

Perhaps now you can see why I love this book so much? I would not only recommend that you read it but, if you have any, I recommend you read it with you children. It is a lovely family book.

OUT OF CURIOSITY: Exupéry has the longest name I have ever seen! Antoine Jean-Baptiste Marie Roger de Saint Exupéry. It is believed The Little Prince was inspired by Exupéry's experience while stranded in the Sahara Desert after a plane crash in 1935.  He was not only a commercial pilot, but also a French pilot during World War II. His plane mysteriously disappeared off the French coast on his last mission in 1944 and his body was never found, although the body of an unknown French soldier was recovered several days later but never proven to be his. They did, however, find his plane and his identification bracelet a few years later. 

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