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Author: Antonia Hayes
Genre: fiction, family

 I got my copy from my library and the cover is different:


 I think I prefer the cover from Amazon, just a matter of preference. 

The story starts with Claire and her son Ethan in Sydney, Claire a struggling single mother and Ethan is struggling with adolescence and bullying. The beginning is slow yet opens up a series of question what the book is really about, and then the scene changes. It goes to a son, Mark Hall, flying in to see his dying father from Kalgoorlie, WA. Mark also has some issues to settle, and then the story unravels around the broken people. 

Finally a theme: broken family and what had happened. I would classify this as a mystery, but there is not much of that in the book. Instead Mark tries to convince everyone that he is innocent, that he had not committed any crime. Thus began a tango as Ethan finds out what really happened, and Claire have to come into terms with that had transpired and the future. This is one that breaks hearts and makes you realize that you can still move on, and you are strong enough to pick up the pieces.

This is a beautifully written book, the characters each have their hopes and dreams, as well as fears. Claire has to accept and realize that it was not her fault, while Mark has to come to terms with his past. Ethan? There was a patch of excitement in the book, after he fell sick, but overall he is just a 12 year old wanting a normal life, despite his interest in astronomy and physics.

Between physics and astronomy lessons, Relativity is a touching and captivating read from start to finish. Do tell me your thoughts about this book.

Relativity By Antonia Hayes

New From: $67.02 USD In Stock

Me Before You

Me Before You: A Novel 1st (first) Edition 
Author: Jojo Moyes
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Genre: romance, life

I have been surprised when protests are made for a movie Me Before You, I had thought that it was just a romance movie based on Jojo Moye’s book of the same title. I did not read the news article, as I know that it would spoil my view point of the story, movie or book.

After reading the book and then I revisited the news article, I realize that the protesters are doing it from their point of view, which was never Moye’s intention when she wrote the story. In fact, these protesters are playing their part as the objectors of euthanasia or the fact that Will Traynor had chosen his path, although I am not sure why they get riled up over a fictitious character who happens to have a personality of a crocodile. I mean, it is just a point of view, of a made up person, just one of many, the world is not black and white as we know it.

Yes, I love Emilia Clarke as the funky dressed girl while Sam Claflin plays the quadriplegic William Traynor, who is bitter about being handed the short end of the stick in life. I know it is not that short ended, he had a career and lived a full life before it was being forcefully taken away by an accident. It was a cruel twist of fate, so everyone feels sorry for him, even Will feels sorry for himself.

Then comes Lou, who has no dreams and ambition, and is happy to work in a cafe for six years before being let go by the boss who had to close down. The story progresses slowly, Lou and William manages to get along after a few hiccups, both characters develop a relationship beyond friendship. The story gives hope to Will’s family, who are hoping Lou could cheer up their son, who has been down since the accident.

Me Before You is not just a romance story between two people, it exposes what most people do not realize: the vulnerability when you lose freedom, never to be independent again; the pain when an accident robs you of a healthy body and leaves you with a broken one that will never recover. Worse is that you are not allowed to feel sad or down, because those around think that you should be grateful to be alive, so as though it was not enough that you were robbed the freedom of movement, the freedom of your thoughts and emotions are heavily scrutinized as well. The issue of euthanasia is never black and white, but I feel that people should accept that death is the only constant in life, and why are people upset when people choose to do so with dignity, with the knowledge that their battered body will only become a burden to family and society?

I might be a little biased, but after seeing many sick people in hospital, wanting a release from life, and watching tax- payers money going down a drain because life is indeed priceless, who am I to say that euthanasia is a devil’s idea, when I have seen the suffering of many?

Me Before You is a great story, romantic and tear- jerking, most importantly it was thought provoking. Forget Emilia Clarke in red dress, I think reading Louisa in red dress is better.

Mr Jones and Me

Mr. Jones & Me
Genre: Thriller/ Urban Author: Lindsay Marie Miller

My Review

Finley and Cabel Jones are back for a sequel, the tie up to the story Me and Mr Jones. Finley and Cabel are married, and oddly enough Finley decides to study postgrad and work, even though Cabel had insisted that he could take care of her. I am not someone who supports leeching off people, but seriously there is a limit to human strength. 

It was beginning to look like a rocky marriage, sure enough, Finley’s one- sided kind of rant and insecurity seemed like it would be the main rock that shatters the glass house. Romantic gestures aside, this romance drama is intensified by the arrival of a past flame of Cabels, who seems to be beautiful, smart and everything Finley dreams to be.

That is where the normal part ends, the appearance of a third person had done serious damage to Finley’s confidence and trust. Cabel tries hard to convince her that she is for him, but typical of Finley’s character that she does not go down without doubting everything that is good before her. Sometimes I wish I could just slap her, or she would have a friend who could and would give her a good shake, but introvert as she is, probably that’s why all the issues are in this book.

There is a twist in the book that I did not see coming, I knew about Cabel’s past, but I didn’t realize the extent of past coming back to bite you can be. I have to say that it was entertaining until Finley blew up again, someone give her some Prozac please. Mr Jones and Me is nothing if not an entertaining thriller book until the end, emotional roller coaster ride. Yes, I am all team Cabel (^_^)V

To read this one you do have to read Me and Mr Jones but it is not a bad read for both books. 

Secret Chord- Story of King David

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The Secret Chord: A NovelAuthor: Geraldine Brooks
Publisher: Viking
Genre: Fiction,historical

My Review

In the eyes of Natan, his master and ruler King David is a great man who rules Israel and Judah, he was the one who initiated war and united the land under one king. King David was the shepherd boy who rose to become the second King of Israel in tumultuous time and he was a benign ruler to his people.

King David wanted immortality, so people would remember him after he dies, so he enlisted his scribe and prophet Natan to write a biography about him. I am not sure  how much of this is real, except the things that the bible has said. As the scribe was sent to various sources to get an accurate story, life goes on, and Natan continues to prophesize for the King and advise him on matters of family and land.

The fictional story made the great King human, with that his flaws and his quest to become a good ruler. King David relied on his prophet’s advice to make some decisions, but did not always follow through. The Secret Chord has King David’s history, but also progresses forward to show that even Kings age and die in the end.

Being a character of the Bible, God or the Nameless One is the prime theme of the story, subtly making its presence known. The Secret Chord is wonderfully written and I had enjoyed every step Natan took to write King David’s biography as he ushered in a new era. 

If you like Biblical characters or just want a well written story, Geraldine Brooks is a wonderful and experienced writer who excels at described things in details that can transport you to where she wants you to be. The Secret Chord is a good everyone should read because it is touching and has lessons everyone can benefit from. 

The Secret Chord: A Novel

New From: $7.97 USD In Stock

Cake Magic!: Mix & Match Your Way to 100 Amazing Combinations

Cake Magic!: Mix & Match Your Way to 100 Amazing Combinations
Author: Caroline Wright
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Workman Publishing Company
Date of Publish: July 12

My Review:

This will be on my to buy list when it comes out for a simple reason: what a great cheat book to own for myself. There is no 100 cakes in the book, consisting of different recipes and ingredients.

No, it is just a very smart, versatile mix & match book for busy (some say lazy) people like you and I. Combinations of different syrups and frosting can create a new cake, plus the tips in the book are useful and have proven to work by the author herself. Yup, that’s right, this book actually is written for people who love to bake but can’t be bothered putting too much effort in it.

So thank you author, Caroline, for this awesome edition, and since I have the ARC I couldn’t enjoy the book the way it will be printed out. But I like it already, especially when those pictures are pretty and inspiring. However the biggest draw of Cake Magic for me is the fact that Caroline has thought of everyone.

If you have a vegan friend, swap the ingredients for a vegan friendly cake, syrup or frosting, or you have a friend who really hates certain things, you can swap it for something else while keeping the basics. I admit  it, I am loving the idea of creating multiple without actually doing too much.

And if you read the book in detail, you would realize that you won’t even need a mixer, just do it by hand, although I will be using my hand mixer because it is quicker. Definitely a good book for young bakers who are looking for inspiration, or a tired old cook who just wants to take short cuts and still look like she did a lot of work.

Definitely put it on your to look list.

L’Occitane ‘Angelica’ Protective Lotion


 Probably got taken off the shelf already since I can no longer find it on the official website, but this is L’Occitane’s Angelica range, and it is a lotion, a small bottle with a big price tag, well, before the StrawberryNet discount. I am a big fan of Strawberrynet, and I love their range, it’s pretty okay to try new brands from there.

This is a mere SPF 15, but as a base lotion it is light and absorbs really quick, this was my ‘serum’ during summer when oils are a little too heavy, yet I needed something moisturizing without the heaviness. The key ingredients are Angelica water, essential oil and UV base. So it is surprisingly light yet not overpowering.

Not my absolute favorite, but it did well for what I paid for ( I did forget how much), and it didn’t give me any breakouts or nasty reactions, that was a plus for me. The tiny bottle lasted me about two months of day and night use, so a little goes a long way, I could feel the smoothness extending as I pat my face with it. 

Was it worth the brand/ price? I don’t know, I had to use extra sunscreen since it was summer, but the lotion is light enough for everyday use, and somehow lasts a good while before the dryness sets in. It is not the best, but it was not the worst. Probably not a good product to recommend whole-heartedly, but I didn’t regret it.

Since it is no longer on the shelf I don’t have to worry about telling people to buy it either, I think. 

Halendor: First Light

First Light: Halendor
Author: Lloydd Marshall
Genre: Fantasy, young adult, urban
Publisher: BLGM Reserve Estate

About the Author:
I grew up all over southern California and Washington state, with a smattering of locations about Oregon, Nevada, and Hawaii, and with each move I learned about new cultures and ideas.Many people have interests in literature and fiction, but few people have ever thought themselves so ambitious that they would chose to write and publish a book every single week. This is the promise of Lloydd Marshall and BLGM Reserve Estates, with a new trilogy dropping weekly, while a new Halendor Arc will drop on the last Monday of each month.Writing has been a passion, and through my life moving has always been a constant which has exposed me to various people and ideas about the United States and has only increased my love of writing. With each book, I hope to reach new people who will enjoy what I create.


Danielle Romero
Book Blogger | Coffee and Characters | | @DanielleCRomero

Coffee and Characters Author Services |

My Review

The story begins Aurora Van de Velde being in a dream where she was in a strange land called Azulnia and an attack towards a man. Aurora Van de Velde, daughter to two of the most important figures in Fredan, she has abilities that she could tell no one about, not even her best friend. 

Soon she meets Lisa, a person from another world sent to find the Five missing Elements, people who can control special powers and were rumored to be quite powerful and could turn the tide. Aurora seemed keen to accept that new found information, seeing that she finally felt that she belonged somewhere.

But the story is not only about finding five people, it is also a mystery shrouding why these people are crucial, and the enemy that is after them. The group had managed to do well until an attack set them back, forcing them to reevaluate that is at stake. The story also has a cliffhanger, which I am not a fan of, but it does reveal that nothing is what it seems so Aurora and her gang have more than what they bargained for when they were chosen to be the special one. 

First Light (Halendor Book 1)

Kindle Edition: Check Amazon for Pricing Digital Only

Approval Junkie

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Approval Junkie: Adventures in Caring Too MuchAuthor: Faith Salie
Genre: Biography

My Review

I hate biographies, but I think this biography tops it all, I don’t even know who the author is, except that she is supposed to be a comedian/ journalist who tries very hard to gain approval of people. 

First off, the writing style is messy, for a journalist who happens to be a comedian. She writes the way her mind processes her thought, why did her editor let her publish book with the book Wasband in it? No matter how she tries to paint her life, this book is a depressing read.

I learned nothing from her story, so this is not only a waste of time but a waste of effort trying to understand what the message the author is trying to convey.

Sorry I am just not interested in approving your sob stories or your life’s decision. The book is not funny, neither it is enlightening. Needless to say, I did not care to finish it. 

Approval Junkie: Adventures in Caring Too Much

New From: $2.15 USD In Stock

L’Oreal Paris Super Liner Gel Intenza 36h Eye Liner

Image from Amazon L’Oreal Paris Super Liner Gel Intenza 36h, Profound Black, 2.8g
Purchased from: StrawberryNet 

I got this because I needed a new eye liner, my old eyeliner is very out of date (read been using for years) and I needed one to replace them before I get conjunctivitis. It was a good brand, I think it was Bourjois liquid liner but I could be wrong.

L’Oreal boasts a gel liner that

  • Lasts for up to 36 hours

  • Is smudge proof

  • Resists tears and sweat

  • Is crease-proof and keeps a fresh

  • Does not smear, fade, rub off or stain the lids

One thing to boast, another to prove that it works…

Here is that I have to disagree:


I thought a minute or two should be enough time for it to dry, since I did not apply layers of gel, but it smudged! So I had to remove this lot and start again, and it did fade after about five hours after I applied it. I didn’t take a photo because I was at work, a little annoyed that it didn’t even last that long for me as well -so that 36 hour? Nah, not really. 

Image from Amazon

 Another thing is the flimsy brush, it cannot do fine line like my Napoleon Perdis brush (then again I paid good money for) but it does do a good line if you are not fussy about the thickness of it. 

For me, this eye gel fails in smudging and lasting long, I am not sure how long I would use this for, maybe until I get time to try out a new eyeliner that suits. I do like Napoleon Perdis, but it is more expensive and it dried up on me after a while. Maybe I should go back to liquid liner or something, I can’t do kohl even though people say it stays on well, but for me it always travel or disappear.

Anyone have a trick or brand to recommend me?

Let It Out: A Journey Through Journaling

Let It Out: A Journey Through JournalingAuthor: Katie Dalebout
Publisher: Publisher: Hay House, Inc.
Genre: Non-fiction, self-help

My Review:

Requested this from Netgalley on a whim, because I wondered how keeping a journal could help a person find a better peace of mind. I have heard of it, but I can’t ask a person to show me what they write in a journal, that would be a very uncomfortable/ awkward conversation.

Lucky for me, this Journey Through Journaling book appears in Netgalley, and yay I got the book to read and review! How nice is that, I really hate those region rules, they severely restrict books I can request, not like books aren’t international these days, it is all about license and money. As a blogger, it’s not like people who read this are strictly from Australia, talk about weird rules.

So back to Katie’s book, this is a great self- help book for people who cannot talk about their problems, mainly me. It does not matter how you write/ type your journal, it is the releasing of your inner demons that helps you realize what needs to be done and what can be done.

Best of all, this book suggests what to write, together with a frame work, I know it is so cool that I get to finally understand why people say that keeping a journal can be such an experience. It can be, and somehow I think that I can do it! Not only as a writer’s perspective but as a person in general, we all have demons and we all need to see ourselves with flaws and accept them before trying to become better.

If you have a friend who seems lost at verbal words, try giving her this book, it has not only the writer’s experience but how she did conquer her pain, step by step. In the end, what she said was right: it is just an inspiration, not a strict rule of what to do, that is the beauty of Let it Out. 

Let It Out: A Journey Through Journaling

New From: $8.09 USD In Stock