Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Bagabook - Amazing Discount for Readers!!!

I'm over the moon to tell you, my lovely readers, that Bagabook has put together an amazing promotion for us!

Choose your poison (bag) then add the promotional code "my250ff" to receive 25% discount on ANY of the bags!!! The offer is for a limited time only! So get shopping before it ends! I've just ordered myself the Executive Pink Croc-Look, the one I mentioned on my earlier article (read it here). I know... It's stupidly girly, but it will match my Filofax and all the little leather accessories I have going on my handbag. Why not?

That's goodbye to scruffy book covers for me. I'm happy. ^_^

Monday, 25 July 2011

Music Mondays - Translation of Lounge by Maria Gadú

Maria Gadú is my new Brazilian discovery. This song is actually part of her 2009 album, but I love it. I have not heard a voice 'this crisp and yet this smooth' for awhile. I could listen to her sing all day long!

The funny thing is... The lyrics of this particular song, talking about biting, poison, eyes changing colour, not being warm, make me think of the Twilight books. What do you think?


Friday, 22 July 2011

Bagabook - BLC - Book Love & Care

When I am reading a book I tend to take it everywhere with me. There is just one problem: after awhile of rolling around in my black-hole of a handbag the cover has seen better days. 

My friend Katy might have just found a solution to my problem. Katy is my hippie-Fair-Trade-fighter-who-also-happens-to-be-a-biker-chick friend. She came across Bagabook at the Harrogate Gift Fair.

These little book bags are a great idea to protect your book covers and keep your handbag light. Depending of the model, they also have extra pockets for cards, phones and pens. They are ultra cute and starting at £16.95 they are not expensive and not a bad gift either. *slow wink = big hint* I think these are a fabulous idea and as soon as I can decide what range I like most, I will be having one for sure. I'm quite keen on the Executive design in the pink Crock-Look at the moment.

I've been told there are other designs that are not on the web yet. So it might be worth keeping an eye on any updates or asking them for further info if you want one. A couple of the designs are currently being discounted. Check it out and bag yourself a bargain (no pun intended).

Read more about books & bags here

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Winner of the SIGNED Copy of Gladius and the Bartlett Trial

And the lucky winner of the signed copy of 'Gladius and the Bartlett Trial' by J.A. Paul is...

* Loud Drums *


Well done you! I'll be in touch via email.

'Gladius and the Bartlett Trial' - read the review here, read my interview with J.A. Paul here, read about this giveaway here.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

TheGoodGirlGoneBlog: 5 Ways to Wear Your Boyfriend's Shirt

I know this is not a fashion blog, but I saw this and thought it was so interesting I had to blog about it!

Alana over at The Good Girl Gone Blog is just so clever and creative with the way she wears her clothes that it deserves talking about. So have a look on this article: 5 Way to Wear Your Boyfriend's Shirt and then have a peek at her outfit section. I love it and I hope you will too.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Movie Review - Nativity

OK. I know it's not Christmas. However, while looking for a film to watch with my 9 year-old I came across this and I was pleasantly surprised!

Nativity is the story of a frustrated actor turned primary school teacher. After his girlfriend lives him around Christmas time he becomes miserable and starts to detest Christmas. When he is entrusted with producing the annual school Nativity, he can only thing he's in hell. Things take a turn for the worse when his air-headed assistant overhears a conversation where he tells someone, as a joke, that Hollywood is coming to watch the play and he can't bring himself to tell the truth to the over excited children. Not to mention that the school is not considered to be the best in the area and the kids a generically thought of as not bright. 

Let’s get something straight... Nativity is a comedy film. And like any comedy it is ridiculously far-fetched. For anyone working with children certain scenes could even be cringeworthy. For one, there is no way the security personnel in a British Airport would let a single adult male fly with two children that are clearly not his. At least, I most certainly hope not!!! 

Once you get over the "as if(s)" and "fat change(s)" there is actually a couple of really good messages embedded in this movie. The first is that sometimes we do not put enough faith in our children and by doing so we restrict them to think of themselves as unable. In reality, young children can just about do anything. They have no fear, no inhibitions, no ability to over think or analyze things. That is when we should be telling them they can do anything and allowing them to try as many different things as possible. 

One thing I learned while working with children is that everyone always learns something, they just learn in different ways. It's up to us, adults, parents, children workers, to teach it in a way they can digest it. Learning should also be fun, not only for children, but also for adults.

The second thing I thought was quite interesting is the fact that adults talk themselves into nothingness because of stress, pressure or bad experiences. We become sarcastic and ill tempered and by doing so we fail to see the beauty on the simplest things.

My daughter used to come back from school every day with her hands full of drawings and paraphernalia for me. I always saw it as something destined for the bin. Then I realized: she doesn't have any money. She can't go and buy something to give me. The little drawings and artwork is proof that she thinks of me when she's away at school. That is the hard earned produce of her work and she's giving it to me. (Can you hear the violin playing in the background? I think I'm going to cry.)

Every once in a while adults need a reminder that sometimes is not about the big things, but the little ones. We just need to learn to be a little more childlike and allow ourselves to see them.

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

Monday, 18 July 2011

Music Mondays - Ready or Not by The Fugees

Last week I went to an '80s theme' birthday party and it inspired a whole discussion about decades and what was on, what we did and wore in particular stages of our lives.

I found I seem to know a lot more about the 70s, when I wasn't even born, than the 80s, when I was! It also got me thinking of my teens in the 90s. So here is a blast from the past for you. 'Ready or Not' by The Fugees reached number 1 in the UK in 1996 and my question is: where were you when this single was in the charts?

Book Bonanza Winner {6}

I'm so sorry for the delay updating this competition folks! As the Hardman household enters the last lap before my little one finishes school for the summer, life is just getting a little insane.

The pre-summer Book Bonanza has reached its end. *_* But don't be too sad. It will come back soon. ^_^

And the winner of the last Book Bonanza for this season is...


Well done you! I'll be in touch by email.

There is still a SIGNED copy of "Gladius and the Bartlett Trials" (click here to put your name down) up for grabs. Don't miss out!!!

Saturday, 16 July 2011

'Stealing Phoenix' Book Trailer

Joss Stirling released this week the book trailer for her next book, 'Stealing Phoenix' (read more about it here), out on September 1st this year. Enjoy!

Friday, 15 July 2011

Gifts Ideas for Book Lovers

A friend of mine asked me what could she give a book lover without spending a fortune and if she doesn't want to give them books or vouchers for them. Well... What about these?

Book Journals... I actually have one of these myself and I find them really helpful when I am reading a book and want to take notes as I go. There is usually a section to write down the books you are waiting for or want to buy, which is quite handy. You can buy an unisex journal like the one on the right for as little as £6.50. This particular one comes with a book marker. If you want something a little more feminine... This little Cherry Blossom journal might just do it and it will only cost you £9.99.

If they are always going on about how gorgeous the cover of a certain book is or how the dust jacket is what spikes their curiosity about a story... Why not let them explore that passion by giving them a Book Frame? You can buy it for £9.60 and, let's agree, some cover arts are seriously interesting.

Are they into gadgets? Check this iPhone 4 Cover in the pattern of a bookshelf! I love it. I want it! Might need to get the phone first, though. :-? Fortunately the cover is a lot cheaper than the phone: £10.07.

If they are Brits... You cannot read a good book without a good cuppa. By that I mean a good cup of tea or brew as we call it up North. And I just love this little "Book Geek" mug. It's yours for £11.

Someone who is quite cool and stylish? No problem. Try these Falling bookends. They are sure to make your friend's shelves look quite cool themselves. And at £15.95, the are simple, straight forward and easy on the eye while remaining interesting and effective.

Want to bring it up a notch? If your book loving friend happens to also be a Pandora loving girl... Why not give her a Moments charm with books on it? There are also some different alternatives and online stores like Etsy are full of cool and different designs like this one by Charmish for U$ 35. Just mind the importing taxes in the UK when buying anything from abroad. If items are above £40 in value you will need to pay import duty.

While we are talking about jewellery... Don't forget to check Vivi Hebel's collection, especially if you are a Cassandra Clare fan. Vivi has designed a whole range of jewellery inspired by Clare's books (read an article about it here) and this particular necklace is just divine! It's based on a part of 'Clockwork Angel' where Tessa, the main character, quotes: "You must be careful of books for words have the power to change us." Gorgeous! Not to mention quirky and unique.

My absolute favourite, though, is unfortunately not for sale anywhere. Brazilian artist Natalia Plentz designed this gorgeous set of book markers made of felt. Each is individually tailor for a particular genre of books. If everything else fails... Give the book lover a series of book markers you bought somewhere special or with a design that will mean something to them, for example, if they love Paris, give them book marks you bought in France or make them one! One of my favourite page holders is the one my daughter made for me at school.

So there you have it! A gift doesn't have to be expensive. It just has to mean something or be useful to the person you are giving it to.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

In the Mail {7} - ARC Copy of Stealing Phoenix by Joss Stirling

I was thrilled when I was asked to review an ARC copy of Stealing Phoenix. And a couple of days ago it finally arrived!

ARC stands for Advanced Reading Copy or Proof Copy. Basically, I'll be reading this book before it is even in the shelves for sale. I'm so excited I could bust at the seams!

In Finding Sky, the first book of the series (read my review here), we were introduced to the seven Benedict brothers and the story pivoted around Sky, the girl with no memory of her past, and Zed, the younger brother. In Stealing Phoenix is Yves' turn to take the spotlight.
ARC Copy

The Benedicts are all gifted savants who use their gifts to help the police solve cases where the trail has gone cold. Here is the catch: according to Stirling's story, savants have a destined soulmate born around the same time as them somewhere else in the world. A little like the other weight on the other side of the scale, the other savant of a pair works as a balancing force.  Together, they keep each other grounded and they powers are stronger. When they do not find their other half of the apple, and the probability is that they won't, a savant runs a big risk of running rough.

Here is a little taster of Stealing Phoenix for you:

"The notion that there is a soulmate out there for every person with a paranormal gift is mere myth is Phoenix's world. Phoenix was raised within the Community - a gang of thieves with paranormal powers - under the control of a harsh master known as the Seer. Leaving the Community is unheard of. But when the Seer gives Phoenix details of her next target, Yves Benedict, she soon realises that he is much more than just her next victim. Yves is her destiny. To be with him, she must break away from the Community, but resistance against the Seer puts them both in mortal danger. Phoenix has never trusted anyone before, now it is time to trust Yves with her life."

A few moons ago I interviewed Joss Stirling (read interview here) and, being very cheeky, asked her for an exclusive teaser of the upcoming book. And here it is! Thanks Joss, Jennie and Liz (over at Oxford Publishing) for spoiling us! I will be releasing another teaser in August, so if you are a fan of the books, stay tuned! Stealing Phoenix is due for release on September 1st.

"As the boy looked up, I made my move.
Reach for their mental patterns...
They were whirring away like so many beautiful kaleidoscopes, ever shifting. Then...
I stopped time.
Well, not exactly, but that's what it feels like to be on the receiving end of my power. What I really do is freeze perceptions so that no one notices time passing - that's why I need small groups in enclosed spaces."

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Book Review - Solid by Shelley Workinger

Solid was one of the books on my read-to-review list. So how did it fare?

The story revolves around a group of teenagers who have just been told they were the victims of a mad scientist using his Army rank as a cover up for experimenting on pregnant soldiers’ wives. Once the news leaks into the press, the Army decides to group the teens in an isolated Summer Camp in order to figure out exactly how the genetic experiment has affected them. This is how and where we meet Clio. Along the way she meets new people and makes new friends including Jack, the boy who wins not only her attention but also her heart. And as it turns out, they all do have some special “abilities”. But there is more. There is something the Army is not telling them.

I really enjoyed this book. Told on Clio’s point of view, Solid is incredibly easy to read and Workinger’s, or should I say Clio’s, wit is really entertaining. The characters are also very engaging and you end up having quite a few soft spots for them.

The prose has a nice flow and the romance and drama unfold slowly.  However, towards the end you just get hit with an avalanche of events and revelations. This is when I felt the end was ever so slightly rushed. Knowing that there is more than one book to this series I was not expecting the who-did-what would come about so easily or that the ever so skilled and trained Army personnel would just spill it all when questioned by a group of teens. 

The other thing that didn’t quite work for me was the parents. Personally, if I found out my daughter was the victim of something like that there would be no chance in hell I would let them take her away from me. I also would not be impressed with not being able to talk to her if I did consent to her going.

Having said all that, the things I wasn’t quite convinced by are not enough to keep me from reading the next episode. Settling, the second book in the Solid series, released on July 4th and it sounds even more intriguing. If anything I want to know what happens to Clio & Jack’s romance and their friends. So watch this space for a review of it.

For more information about the books check the series website by clicking here. Go into the “Giveaway & More” section to buy “Settling” and get “Solid” as a treat! (Offer only valid until the end of July 2011)  You can also read a sneak peek of the second book as well as the prologue of the first. And don't forget to check the playlist for the series which is full of amazing songs (I love Let me Go by 3 Doors Down)! Way worth the visit. If you're feeling chatty, you can check Shelley Workinger’s blog by clicking here or get in touch with her via Twitter: @SWorkinger or over at Facebook.

OUT OF CURIOSITY: Workinger is the daughter of a soldier herself.

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

Monday, 11 July 2011

Music Mondays - Heart Skipped a Beat by The XX

I cannot quite believe Music Monday has gone this long without this song making its way into the list! So here it is.

I have to credit George, another friend of mine, for introducing me to "The XX" on a impromptus night out. So thanks "Little Big Love"! I love not only this song, but every track on the self-entitled album The XX. 



Book Giveaway {2} - SIGNED copy of Gladius and The Bartlett Trial by J. A. Paul

Reading and letting your imagination fly away is a habit I would like to encourage. So this week the blog is full of special giveaways!!!

Gladius and The Bartlett Trial is J. A. Paul's first novel. After reviewing his book (read my review here) and interrogating him (interview here) I am now finishing my attack by giving away a signed copy of his book! 

GBT is a fab book to read with your pre or young teen, especially if they are boys or an action lover little girl. Don't miss this opportunity to win this autographed family experience as encouraging your children to read and stimulating their imagination is one of the best gifts you can give them.

For a chance to get your hands on this treat, all you have to do is complete the form below. Don't forget to press the SUBMIT button at the end by scrawling down the side bar to the right of the form itself. The deadline is Monday 18th July at midnight GMT. Unfortunately, this giveaway is for UK residents only.

Good luck!

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Book Bonanza Winner {5}

And the copy of Wicked Lovely Desert Tales by Melissa Marr goes to...

*Loud drums*

Laura Koehler! 

I am particularly pleased with this one. Laura's name has popped up in every Book Bonanza list for the last couple of weeks. I swear my husband has a sixth sense for picking good numbers. Maybe I should try getting him to play the Lottery... It's going on the to-do list this week. ^_^

Well done Laura! I'll be in touch via email.

Thank you to everyone who took part and to Book Lovers Inc. for the International listing. The response was phenomenal!

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Book Bonanza {6} - Trouble on the Heath by Terry Jones

Incredibly funny, very entertaining and you could take it home!

Trouble on the Heath is one of the books in this year's Quick Reads collection. At 104 pages it is ideal if you are trying to get back into reading or just want something easy to read while commuting or going on holiday. Although, I must warn you, you might not want to read it in public as people will start to wonder "what is wrong with you" or "are you crazy" while you laugh out loud for no apparent reason. Read my full review here

"Malcolm Thomas is not happy. The view he loves is about to be blocked by an ugly building. He decides to take action and organises a protest. Then things go badly wrong and Malcolm finds himself running for his life. Along the way he gets mixed up with depressed town planners, violent gangsters and a kidnapped concert pianist. Malcolm starts to wonder if objecting to the building was such a good idea when he finds himself upside down with a gun in his mouth."

For a chance to win this entertaining and engaging little read, all you have to do is to complete the form below. Don't forget to press the SUBMIT button at the end to enter. The deadline is Saturday 16th July by midnight GMT. 

Good luck!

Friday, 8 July 2011

Interview with J.A. Paul - Author of "Gladius and the Bartlett Trial" - at Lancashire Life {4}

I have reviewed his book (click here to read it) and now I have interrogated him! I even managed to swing an EXCLUSIVE TEASER from his next book!!!

You can read the teaser and the interview here: on my blog with Lancashire Life.


Thursday, 7 July 2011

Out & About - La Tete et Tout

La Tet et Tout is my absolute favourite shop in Clitheroe and here is why.

It is not the biggest, the most expensive or the one with all the "posh big super brands", but it has a great selection of shoes, bags, jewellery and clothing from all over the world. This little treasure chest is one of my stops for birthday and Christmas gifts, not to mention that everything I have bought from here always earns me complements and comments. Good ones. Really good ones.

The thing I like the most about this place is that it is unique and quirky. Not so quirky that you think "Blimey! Who wears this stuff?", but quirky enough that you don't feel like a carbon copy of someone else. The labels are very well selected and of high quality and finish. There is also a good selection in price wise, but this is no Primark and you are paying for exclusivity. Of course, if you want to go to town, they do have the expensive stuff on offer. 

The team of girls behind the counter is excellent. While they don't follow you around like a shadow, they are there when you need them. And if they don't have something your size in stock, they will check the other two stores in Preston and Lytham for you. You can also shop online, but the shop is so pretty you really ought to pay it a visit to make it justice.

Just in case you are wondering... The name, La Tete et Tout, is French for "head and all" or, if you want to put it into context, "from head to toe". 

If you are a girl, have a pulse and like pretty high quality things your visit to Clitheroe is not complete until you have made a pit-stop here. Definitely a must.

Ambient: *****

Price: £££ with hints of ££££
Children: Older ones as prams will probably not fit in the shop
To check the rating system click here

La Tete et Tout
22 Moor Lane
Clitheroe BB7 1BE
Tel: 01200 429 144 
Web: www.la-tete-et-tout.co.uk 

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Graphic Novels I Want to Read

Since the giveaway this week is a graphic novel, I thought it was about time I paid this kind of reading some respect.

I am far from an expert, but I admire anyone who has the talent to bring books to life in pictures. Possibly because drawing is something I cannot do to save my life and because I am vaguely aware of how long-winded this process can be.

So in appreciation for everyone involved in this niche industry... Here are the graphic novels I cannot wait to get my hands on. The first two were the ones that sparked my interest in the genre.

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare is the graphic adaptation of one of my favourite series and I can not wait to see it! The art is done by Nicole Virella and, according to what I have seen, it follows the traditional Marvel style. You know the one, the famous iconic superheroe comics. Not that I would know much about it, mind you! So don't quote me on it. Unfortunately, there is no release date for this baby as of yet. However, you can have a good peep at some of Virella's artwork for it here. To read my article about this graphic novel in Portuguese click here.

Twilight Volume 2 by Stephenie Meyer is due to release on October 11th. The illustrations are by Young Kim  in Manga style. Manga is the Japanese comics style, which is a little different. I loved the artwork in the first volume, especially the way only certain details are in colour to emphasize a particular scene in the story. For example: Edward's eyes when Bella notices they change colour, the blood stains on Edward's memories and the whole scene when Bella walks into the sunshine in the clearing. Beautiful work. The other detail I thought was quite sweet is the way the covers complete each other if you place them side by side. Cute romantic stuff.

Blankets by Craig Thompson called my attention during my last visit to my favourite book shop in Manchester. I loved the cover and the few pages I read. However, I can see this being one of those novels you will either love or hate as the story is about first love and coming-of-age under the added pressures imposed by religion. Personally, coming from a religious family, I can understand the struggle so I like it.

Blood Song by New York cover artist Eric Drooker is an interesting one. There are no words in it, just images. Hence why you will see "A Silent Ballad" as its tagline. And you know what? It's amazing what you can understand without words. This is where the old cliche "an image is worth a thousand words" is very, very true. In this graphic novel a girl travels through the stages of technological evolution going from living in a forest, to living in a city and then the future via a whole array of personal discoveries, realizations and struggles. Amazing, intriguing and moving artwork.

If, like me, graphic novels were not on your to-read list, maybe it is time to broaden the horizon and give it a try. If nothing else, you can admire the artwork and the talent behind it.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Book Bonanza Winner {4}

After making readers in Malaysia, Brazil and the U.S. happy, Book Bonanza has finally stroke home.

I am pleased to announce that this week's winner is not only a local from Preston, Lancashire but also a name I have seen pop up week after week on the entry list. Who said persistence doesn't pay?

So without further ado... This week's Book Bonanza winner is...

Ruth Dacey!!!!

Well done girlie! I'll be in touch via email.

P.S. I think my husband, daughter and I must have some telepathic connection. It was only last week when I said it would be nice to have someone local win Book Bonanza (not that I don't like having International winner. This is an international giveaway after all! And I love knowing people all over the world read this blog! :-) . So this morning I asked them to choose in between the first and last number of entries but they both had to agree in one. They were like a choir, both saying the same number at the same time. And what do you know? The girl is a local!!! Freakish. In a good way, of course!

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Book Bonanza {5} - Wicked Lovely Graphic Novel by Melissa Marr

This week's Book Bonanza is something a little different.

I was never into comics or graphic art, but when my favourite books became graphic novels a whole world was open to me. I am not an expert in any shape or form and I probably will not be able to tell you much about the art itself, but I enjoy seeing pictures of the films I have played in my head while reading an amazing story.

"Wicked Lovely" by Melissa Marr is one of my favourite book series (read my review of it here). It tells the story of Ash, a normal girl who gets chosen by Keenan - the Faery Summer King - to be his queen. Unfortunately for Keenan, Ash is already in love with someone else: Seth Morgan - my big, no, huge book crush *day dreams*.  As things develop Ash is dragged further and further into the world of Faeries and its politics where words can become deadly ties.

"Wicked Lovely Desert Tales", the graphic novel, is a spin of this series (someone with a little knowledge in graphic art might want to know the drawings in this novel are by Xian Nu Studio). It tells the story of Rika, one of the last mortals Keenan had chosen as a queen, who now lives in a desert to stay as far away from him as possible. And there is someone new in the picture... Here is a little taster for you:

"The desert is far away from the schemes of the Faerie Courts - and that's how Rika likes it. Once a mortal and now a faery, Rika seeks isolation and revels in her ability to appear invisible to humans. Then she meets HIM. Artistic and kind, Jayce is the last person Rika wants to hide from. But change is coming, challenging Rika's freedom and her new romance, as her past pursues her, even into the heart of the desert... Discover Melissa Marr's mesmerizing world of Faerie."

All you have to do to win a copy of this amazing graphic novel is to fill the form below and don't forget to press the SUBMIT button at the end to enter. Put your name down and get winning!

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