Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Happy World Book Day!!!

Tomorrow is World Book Day and here is your party invitation.

"World Book Day is the biggest celebration of its kind, anywhere. Millions of book vouchers given out, great free books for kids, excitement everywhere (on blogs, in newspapers, on TV and in schools, libraries and, of course, bookshops), people coming together (including lots of young readers) in a big, loud, happy celebration of reading. And we really do want you to help make this March 1st the best World Book Day ever." 

Aimed at children, this event's purpose is to encourage our younger generation to read by showing them how much fun it can be. You can find out what is happening in your area by clicking here, but please also check your local library and bookshops as they are bound to be hosting children friendly events during the next few days.

Kids can also play some fab games and watch cool videos over at the World Book Day website, so don't miss out on the fun!

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Book Review - Red Deception by J.C. Murtagh

Red Deception is J.C. Murtagh's debut novella - romantic, dramatic and full of scenes that could get you hot under the collar. But was her writing equally seductive?


“Judith Timbolt lives a life of poverty and servitude until the day she finds a new beginning in the hands of the deceased Lady Lora Noire. Donning her red cloak and identity, Judith embarks on a fairytale she could only dream of. When she steals the heart of the powerful Baron Blacwin, her dreams become a reality. Will Judith's fairytale unravel or will she be able to uphold her falsehood under the cloak of deception she has weaved?”(Goodreads)

Monday, 27 February 2012

The Books Behind the 2012 Oscars

The Oscars.... Glamour, glitz, amazing dresses and books. Yes, you read that right - books. Six of the nine films nominated for 'Best Picture' this year were actually film adaptations of books.  

If that wasn't enough, our books-turned-movies took home eight of the twenty four little statuettes! Everyday eBook has the complete line up of all the books behind this year's Oscars nominations  and anobii has a very interesting list of the top film adaptations nominated over the years. Definitely worth checking. 

OUT CURIOSITY: The Oscar Statuette is one of the most famous symbols in the world. Read about its history here.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Out & About - Rio de Janeiro Botanical Gardens

Ready to close our Brazilian Carnival special with a golden key?

I don't have green fingers and, apart from Orchids, I don't usually bother with leafy greens unless they are going on my plate. But the Rio de Janeiro Botanical Gardens are just amazing! The kind of place you have to visit in order to believe how beautiful it is.

It was created in 1808 by the Prince Regent of Portugal, John VI, who fled to Brazil after Napoleon invaded Portugal. Since it opened to the public in 1822, the Botanical Gardens have been visited by thousands of people including our current Queen and Albert Einstein. Apparently, Einstein was so besotted by the giant trees that he hugged and kissed one of them! And when I say they're giants, I’m not exaggerating. If they were hallow, you would be able to live in them! I'm thinking 'Avatar'.

The base of  one of the giant trees
Moving on... The first time I went, I made the mistake of going in the afternoon and thinking it would take me only a couple of hours. I should've read the memo. The place is huge! So make sure you allow most of the day to have a good walk around. If you're in a hurry or have a limited amount of time, consider taking a car tour. I would also advice anyone coming from a cooler part of the world to go in the morning and take a bottle of water per person as well as wearing comfortable shoes and clothes – it gets pretty hot later in the day and you will  be walking for a bit. A hat and some sun cream may be a good idea if you are really fair.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Bookshop of the Month ~ Livraria Cultura

Ok, granted. This amazing book shop is in São Paulo, Brazil, but since it's Brazilian Carnival time, I thought I was allowed to cheat a little bit. 

Livraria Cultura is still an amazing book shop, however you look at it. Built on what used to be Cine Astor (a cinema) in a shopping mall in Avenida Paulista - one of the main avenues in São Paulo - Livraria Cultura is the biggest book shop in Brazil and currently offers over four million titles in Portuguese and many other languages including English.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Brazilian Carnival 2012

Yeay!!! Brazilian Carnival is here! Friday and Saturday was São Paulo's turn to showcase its lavish parades and yesterday and today is Rio's.

It looks fun and straight forward to anyone looking in, but Carnival is a lot more. It's actually a big competition in between the samba schools, which all go to great lengths to make sure they have the biggest allegoric cars, songs, costumes and routines. 

Each school usually represents an area of town so they have a loyal following and people are connected to them or members for most of their lives if not the whole of it. It's like supporting your local football team, and as you know, the Brazilian love for the beautiful game verges on obsession. Each school chooses a theme and must tell a story through their song and parade. Each performance is divided in the traditional 'alas' (sections), each telling a piece of the narrative.

First you have 'Comissão de Frente' (Front Commission), this is a group of up to 15 dancers and their job is to introduce the theme through a choreography. Following this group you sometimes have the 'Carro de Frente’ (Front Allegoric Car) marking the beginning of the tale. This is the only section that is mandatory in this particular order, the other 'alas' can move around and occupy different stages of the narrative.

'Ala das Baianas' (Bahiana Ladies) is one of the most important elements of the parade. They make reference to the Brazilian Aunts - ladies in traditional gear. You can still see some of them in the North East of Brazil, one of the first places colonized by the Portuguese. 'Baianas' exude our strong African heritage gained due to the masses of African slaves brought in by our colonizers to work in the sugar cane plantations. This 'ala' is also about remembering where we come from. The costumes are pimped versions of the traditional all white gear and they can weigh up to 30 kilos each! The Baianas rotate their massive gowns around in a beautiful display of sparkles and colours.

'A Bateria' is, of course, the drums band. Samba doesn't exist without drums. They are the guys that provide the music to the party and if you have ever heard a 'bateria' you know just how powerful they can be. In front of them you have 'A Rainha da Bateria' (the Drums' Queen). This is a position coveted by many Brazilian women, therefore a position of honour to the one chosen, and it's always occupied by the most beautiful woman in the school or a celebrity. By default their custom is usually a sparkly bikini and many feathers. While this might seem an easy job, it means dancing for hours in high heels and the chosen queens train for months to keep their stamina through the parade. Somewhere around the 'Bateria' you also have the singers and maestro who conduct the drums and, obviously, sing the 'enredo' - the theme of the story.


'Mestre-Sala and Porta-Bandeira' is the couple displaying the school's flag in what I like to call 'the Brazilian Carnival black-tie attire' which makes reference to the colonial times and how they use to dress back then, albeit in an exaggerated way.

And then you have 'Velha Guarda' (the Old Guard), these are the old boys who have been part of the school for many years. It is, again, a type of honour as it gives credit to those who have participated or contributed in some way to the history of Carnival. They tend to be dressed in smart suits in symbolic colours and panama hats.


Here is a taster of this year's Carnival for you. Ignore the commentary in Portuguese and let your eyes feast. This is 'Gaviões da Fiel' ( São Paulo Samba School) and their theme this year tells the story of ex-Brazilian President Lula from his poor upbringing to his raise to power. Can you spot the different 'alas'?

You have to admit... It's pretty impressive. I know, I'm utterly and completely biased. ^_^

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Valentine's Day Special - My Top Three Book Hunks

Ok, Valentine's Day was yesterday, but I thought I might hurt Mr SHx's feeling if I released a list of my top crushes and he wasn't on it. I know, these are fictional characters so it's obviously not the same. Well... You try to explain that to him!

You see, I'm a romance nerd and there is no better way to attract my attention than an eye catching mysterious male character in a good book. Yes, they might fall into certain stereotypes but that doesn't keep us girlies from falling head over hills for them, does it? Classic example? While reading Twilight, my sister asked her husband why he wasn't a broody vampire. Needless to say, my brother-in-law is not a fan of the saga.

So here are the jaw-dropping book hunks I wish were real (sorry hubby!):

The Wise Alternative Type ~ Seth Morgan (Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr - read my review here) is the pierced, sexy, wise soul that plays with all your preconceptions by being the ever so slightly punk looking guy that talks sense into everyone.
"... the door swung open and Seth stood in the doorway, grinning. The streetlights made him look a bit intimidating, illuminating the bars in his eyebrows and the ring in his lower lip. His blue-black hair fell over his face when he moved, like tiny arrows pointing to pronounced cheekbones.(...) She stepped around the piles of books on the floor: Chaucer and Nietzsche sat beside 'The Prose Edda'; 'Kama Sutra' tilted against 'A World History of Architecture' and a Clare Dunkle novel. Seth read everything."

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Book Review - Calling for Angels by Alex Smith

So how do you kill some time when you're fourteen years old? According to Alex Smith, you write your first book.

Em never believed in angels. That was until she met Zak and Kai…
At home, she’s looking after her grandmother, who is slowly deteriorating, whilst despairing at her normally sensible brother, who is going off the rails just to fit in with the ‘right crowd’. Even Zak’s unexpected attention causes jealous girls to shower Em with spite – not least her best friend Caitlyn. If only she had a guardian angel… 
Then a second boy steps into Em’s life. Dark,  brooding and captive to the secrets of a past he’d rather forget,  Kai not only appeared as if from nowhere and fallen head over heels for Em, but he’s also  the exact opposite to Zak.  And although he may not seem like it, Kai might just be the real thing…” (Goodreads)

Monday, 13 February 2012

Music Mondays - 7 Seconds by Youssou N'Dour & Neneh Cherry

Gosh is it good to be back! Sorry I haven't posted any updates for awhile. Things were a little crazy last week with exams and assignments due at uni and a lot of reading to catch up on. I had to focus, but I'm back!

And I come bearing a peace offering. *big smile* Yes, this is bribery.

'7 Seconds' was a major international #1 in 1994 and it stayed in the chart for half that year. It later became the soundtrack for a few movies, but for me, it always reminds me of my French holidays. Back in 1994 it stayed in the French Charts as a #1 for sixteen weeks, a record at the time, so every time I'm in France it inevitably comes up on the radio. Every year, every holiday, without fail.

So you see... My gift to you isn't just sharing this amazing track, but sharing my sunny holiday song. Enjoy and have a productive and wonderful Monday!


Sunday, 5 February 2012

Blogoversary Bonanza {4} - Winner

I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who took part in the four weeks of Blogoversary Bonanza. Thank you so much for visiting the blog and bearing with me! ^_^

With no further ado... The Clockwork Prince copy goes to...


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

Saturday, 4 February 2012

February - Events for Writers, Music and Book Lovers

There is a lot going on this month for writers, music and book lovers in Lancashire so wrap up warm and enjoy. Here are my highlights:


Check your local Library for events! There will be all sorts going on this month because of half-term so there is no need to be bored at home. Click here for more information on events taking place in Lancashire Libraries.

7th - 14th Feb ~ Shelley Workinger (read her guest post here) is giving away a copy of both of her books: Solid (read review here) and Settling (review here) over at her blog as part of her 'Follower Love' promo. Everyone who enters will win a little prize even if they don't win the books. So get your name down! You have literally nothing to lose.

8th Feb ~ Blackburn Library: An Afternoon with Charles Dickens ~ 2pm
To celebrate Dickens 200th Birthday, Lancashire Writing Hub has organized an afternoon of readings, discussions and quizzes. Tickets: £1 from Blackburn Library. Further info on Lancashire Writing Hub events here.

11th Feb ~ Meet Darth Vader! ~ 11am
Dave Prowse, the man behind the mask, will be meeting fans and signing his autobiography 'Straight from The Force's Mouth' at Waterstone's Hanley. Admission is free, but this is due to be an extremely popular event so arrive early. More information here. (I know this is not strictly Lancashire, but I thought Star Wars' fans might want to know about it).

14th Feb ~ Meet the Author: Joanna Trollope ~ 4pm
Joanna is one of the judges for the Melissa Nathan Award (read more about it here) and she will be signing her latest novel 'The Soldier's Wife' at Waterstone's Manchester Deansgate on Valentine's Day! So go for the signing and then a lovely meal for two in one of Manchester's many great restaurants (view a couple here). Free Admission. An Author Chat will also take place at Waterstone's Leeds on Feb 17th 7pm when Joanna will talk about her career as an author as well as her latest novel. Tickets: £3 from the store.

18th Feb ~ Southbank Center (London): Red House Children Book Award 2012 ~ 2.30pm
The Red House Children Book Award is the only national award voted entirely by children and you guessed it: they are invited to the award ceremony. It's actually ideal for children in between 7 and 12 years of age, so if your little one is a bookworm in the making this is a great event. Tickets: £8 Adults, £4 Children plus booking fee. More information here.

Friday, 3 February 2012

In the Mail {11} - California Girl Chronicles by Michelle Gamble-Risley

California Girl Chronicles: Brea and the City of Plastic (published by 3L Publishing) is one read I'm looking forward to. Michelle Gamble-Risley is a screenwriter and author with various books and productions under her belt. This book in particular might even become a TV series and the second book of the series is due this summer. So what do you think? Is it mouth watering?

Brea Harper is the next Carrie Bradshaw transplanted in Los Angeles. Funny, witty, beautiful, and very sexy, Brea takes readers on a wild ride into her outrageous, romantic, and professional life. Demoralized and forced to work in what she calls 'bikini hell' just to make ends meet, Brea pursues her career to become a screenwriter only to be continuously distracted by hot men. Delightfully misguided, Brea makes poor choices many women of all ages will find to be highly relatable. She is one of those unforgettable characters readers love to love.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Babi Dewet singed to Evora Publishing

Saturday Night (Sabado a Noite - read my review here) is Brazilian writer and blogger Babi Dewet's first book and it was originally published independently. Well... She has just being signed to Evora Publishing and... Sabado a Noite is to become a trilogy!!!!

I had the pleasure of writing guest post for Babi's blog this last year and I couldn't be more thrilled. She worked really hard to get to this stage and her book had done seriously well even before she was signed. Being part of a publishing company only means she'll be able to write more and who knows? Maybe we will see it over here soon. Fingers crossed!!!

Oh! She even gave us a shout when she announced the news over at her blog!

Congrats Babi!!! You deserve it.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Out & About - Giddy Kippers

So what do you do when it's cold, raining, miserable and you not as much fun as your kids' friends? You take them to Giddy Kippers!

I know... Activity centers can be every parent's nightmare. Some of these places give very little thought to the fact the parents have and want to stay with their children; and although they do theoretically offer the service, as a parent you swallow the crappy coffee and wait only because you love your child. 

Not in this one, though. Giddy Kippers is basically a big warehouse transformed into a kid's heaven. The massive climbing frame,  self-contained little football pitch, dedicated baby & toddler corner and party rooms are sure to keep your little Tasmanian devil engaged and pleased.

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