Thanks for visiting Sophia Tallon's blog! We review books, audio books, screenplays, films, web series, plus much more! We also do interviews, spotlights, and guest posts! Please see our Contact/FAQ's page! Make sure you follow us on Bloglovin' or by email! Posts go live daily at 12 a.m. Central Daylight Time.
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Sunday, 20 March 2016

(REVIEW) Valentia Royal Rose Hydrating Serum

Hey, guys! Today I'm reviewing Valentia Royal Rose Hydrating Serum! I'm actually really excited about this product because even after only using it once, I was impressed. This is now one of my favourite facial products. I've been using it every morning and night for about two weeks and it works wonderfully. It has a faint, lovely, fresh rose scent that's all natural from the Damascena roses they use. I think Valentia is going on my list of beauty brands to watch! I would definitely recommend this (and I already have!) to anyone, no matter what skin type you have. My skin tends to be sensitive, and oily with the occasional small breakout and this didn't bother my skin at all and has helped improve the way it looks. It also works well with my other facial products and their True Glow Eye Creme which they let me try! I love that it's Cruelty free, vegan, is 98% natural and is made using sustainable energy! You should totally give this one a go!

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01AHVGZNM
http://valentia.com

About the Product 
A lightweight serum that boosts moisture and resilience while soothing and calming the skin.

This Hydrating & Nourishing Serum Will:
- Deeply moisturize skin
- Provide antioxidant protection
- Soothe & nourish dry skin
- Smooth skin tone & texture
- Boost skin radiance

Specially selected ingredients work together to achieve optimum results.

- Rose Damascena: One of the most nourishing and skin friendly natural oils, providing balance, moisture, and a variety of vitamins and minerals to the skin.

- Niacinamide (Vitamin B): This potent vitamin has been clinically proven to fade away hyperpigmentation, sun spots, and acne..

- Rosehip Seed Oil: Naturally rich in Vitamins C & A, these essential fatty acids work quickly to lock in skin's moisture.

- Evening Primrose Oil: Provides light, non-oily moisture to the skin, never clogging or irritating the skin.

- Bearberry: Reduces melanin production, thereby lightening the skin, revealing a brighter complexion.

- Lavender: Heals the skin, treating pimples, wounds, and sores.

Learn About the Brand 
The Roman Goddess of healing, Valentia, relied on nature’s gifts to heal the citizens of Umbria. Whether matriarchs seeking to maintain their youthful look or farmers seeking help for sun damaged skin, Valentia used berries, herbs, barks and other natural ingredients. We also rely on all natural ingredients due to their protective, preventative and corrective powers.

Just like our namesake, Valentia Skin Care products have been formulated with natural and organic cosmetic ingredients that will repair and protect the skin.

After performing extensive research into what skin care customers find most important, we found an overwhelming demand for skin care that is natural, free of toxins and paraben-free. Natural ingredients with an organic base have proven most effective at repairing skin damaged by sun or wind, preventing signs of aging such as wrinkles, dark spots, and reversing the effects of oxidative stress on the skin.

Special thanks to Valentia and BrandBacker.com for letting me try this!

Saturday, 19 March 2016

(GUEST BLOG) Maya's Soliloquy - Tushar Sen

Today, the lovely Maya will be taking over and doing a guest blog post! Enjoy, and remember if you ever want to do a guest blog post Contact Me!



Maya’s Soliloquy…

Rarely does a character get to jump off the pages of a novel and speak to the readers in first person. Sophia made this possible through her guest post inviting me to be the guest here.

I am Maya Banerjee and you know me as the protagonist in your favorite tale of love and loss: Paying Guest. It is the most popular story in the collection – Pandora’s Box and also the author’s favorite.

It is embarrassing to narrate one’s love story to strangers, but then non of you are strangers to me any more, you are as part of my life as much as I am. You were a witness to the metamorphosis I went through, the agony and ecstasy of it.

My life before I met Dev Sanyal was quintessentially settled, infact my peers were jealous of the perfection of it. After all who gets to complete her studies in 1940’s and then marry an Oxford scholar who agrees to take care of her father too. But a woman’s life is never complete without the shades of imbalance, disharmony and uncertainty; it gives her a comforting feeling of winning, of contributing and of a purpose to make things right. Perfect trajectory leaves very little for her to contribute, therefore she likes imperfections in small quantities to life her spirits. I was no different, my perfect life lacked purpose and contribution. I had so much in me to give, so much to share and so much to contribute.

Dev was the only man I could give all I had and expect nothing in return but his companionship. His presence in my life was enough for me to be blissful. I could listen to his banter endlessly, he made sense like no one ever could. Although I never told him how much I enjoyed listening to him, but I guess he knew it already.

My engagement to Anirudh was a conscious decision, he scored full marks on the checklist of the woman in me. And the girl in me decided to comply with the woman that dominated her. Not much was said about Anirudh in the tale written by the author, though he deserves to be mentioned in the one told by me. He wasn’t a bad person, he reacted the way any man who never tasted defeat would. Although “defeat” demeans me in the whole scheme of things making me look like a trophy but that’s the way he looked at it. I never questioned him or myself if he really loved me, also because I was pretty sure I didn’t. He was the groom my father chose for me and in those days it was expected of a daughter to comply with her father’s decisions. I tried too.

It wasn’t easy for me to let go of my ceremonial fiancée and announce my love for a stranger. It took me time, I allowed Dev’s love to grow on me and throw me off balance. Isn’t this what most women do? They let the tides wash them off the shore and carry their helpless being to unknown territories, this is the only time a woman wants to lose control and be at the mercy of fate.

It wasn’t Anirudh’s fault, he still was the quintessential husband when I called off the engagement. It wasn’t my fault either, I was in love and when you are in love you hardly think about right or wrong. Right or wrong features only when you are placing things in their proper places, putting the pegs in the right holes. And we do this all the time to keep things on an even keel. I tried too.

Dev was the kind of man every woman dreams of, someone who doesn’t chase her yet makes her feels special. Someone who wouldn’t yield to her whims and yet make her feel empowered. Someone she looks upto and doesn’t mind submitting to. He isn’t her proud possession and yet she feels proud to be with her. Someone who makes her forget the world and makes her believe everything is going to be alright even when the whole planet is falling apart. Someone who makes her drop her defenses and let her be her. In his presence I felt safe though he hardly possessed any biceps to flex.

Most people after the unfortunate incident thought I made a blunder calling off my perfect engagement with Anirudh. What happened to Maya then? Did she go back to Anirudh? Or she broke down completely and lost herself?

Maya wasn’t the weak one to start with, what everyone should remember from the tale is that she was the one who went against every norm to call off her engagement. What happened to her afterwards needs to justify her personality and it very well did mine. God returned my mother to me in a different form. I had learnt so much from Dev that it was enough to last for a lifetime to practice.

Love that dies off or falls out isn’t quite the love we seek or dream of and yet we fall out of it so often. Dev wasn’t just a person I loved, he was an idea I was so full of. Did I get what I want finally? What does a woman want? She wants to share her life and belong to an idea unbounded. So did I get what I want? You tell me …

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

(BOOK) Vintage Hairstyles by Emma Sundh and Sarah Wing


Summary:

From the finger waves of the romantic 1910s to the beehive of the rebellious 1960s, retro hair has made a comeback. Vintage Hairstyles presents all the tools, techniques, and step-by-step instructions needed to achieve eye-catching looks for every occasion. Trendsetters, hairstylists, and fashionistas will love creating elegant updos for special events or playful curls for everyday excursions. Featuring a history of beauty trends by the decades, a list of must-have hair products, and projects for making chic hair accessories, Vintage Hairstyles showcases classic beauty with a fresh twist.

Stars: Five

Age Range: Depending on abilities I think it would be great for anyone who loves styling hair!

Should You Read This: Yes!

Review:
I am so glad I got this brilliant book! I love vintage-y old fashioned clothes and hairstyles so this was perfect for me! If you too love vintage things and want to give the hairstyles a go then this is for you! Also, this would make a great gift for anybody you know who love hair styling! I'd already been doing quite a few of these styles by myself without the book since I'm very talented as a hairstylist. But this book is helpful (even for me) with interesting facts and photos that are beautifully done by Martina Ankarfyr. This book not only covers hair, it also helps with make-up, nails, hats, clothes and glasses. The focus is hair but the other tips are helpful to vintage newbies. My favourite hairstyle is Victory Rolls but I also love the Gibson Tuck. My least favourite is probably Bettie Bangs which just look silly unless you actually have bangs. Before you buy this, make sure you have a one inch curling iron and loads of bobby pins. I recommend doing pin curls over night as these do keep looking perfect for days without brushing or maintenance. If you're not good at doing your own hair, practice on someone else first i.e. your mum or a friend. That way you get to practise but you can also get them to do one of the styles on you! Good luck and have fun with your hair!

Note: Want to see some of my fabulous hairstyles? Follow me on Twitter @Sophia_Tallon and Instagram @SophiaTallon

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

(GUEST BLOG) Why I Love Self-Publishing and Why You Should, Too! By Amie Irene Winters

Today, the lovely author, Amie Irene Winters will be taking over and doing a guest blog post! Enjoy, and remember if you ever want to do a guest blog post Contact Me
Why I Love Self-Publishing and Why You Should, Too!
Workshops, community groups, author advice, and every how-to book imaginable—all the things I utilized to craft the perfect query letter. When one wasn’t particularly effective, I modified it and kept track of the results. I checked my inbox obsessively, and when I saw that an agent responded, my heart would stop. “This is it!” I thought. “My book is finally going to be published!” But, the majority of the time, it was a generic rejection in the form of “This isn’t right for my list.” The whole process was not only overwhelming, but very discouraging. In fact, I almost quit writing as a result. Then, I received the crème de la crème of emails from an interested agent. She wanted a full manuscript exclusive!

Within a week, the agent had read my book and gushed about it. She said it was highly marketable, but I just needed to “tweak some things.” These things turned out to be not so little. She was removing entire characters and changing the era. I unwittingly made the changes. She read it a second time and said the same thing. I was so close and wanted to be published so badly, so again, I made the changes. She read it a third time and suggested even more, and again I complied. The process took a year. The result? I absolutely hated my book! Everything had changed and my voice was completely buried. I didn’t know who I was writing for anymore…and it showed. I received a cold hard rejection after everything. The worst part? The book was so mangled that I abandoned it.

This experience was the push I needed to self-publish my first novel, Strange Luck, a psychological YA fantasy about a world built on stolen memories. Self-publishing not only allowed me to see my dream to fruition, it allowed me to present the story I wanted to share with the world. Here’s why self-publishing worked for me and why it might work for you:

Every Decision is Yours:
 Self-publishing allows you complete control of your story, its characters, and even the description readers see on the back cover. If you choose to work with a professional editor (highly recommended), it’s still up to you to implement the changes. You also get full reign on what your book cover looks like.

Publishing Is Quick:
Since self-publishing is relatively instantaneous, you can see your book to market anytime you want. This is a great option if you have a particular release date in mind.

Creative Freedom:
Unless you’re Stephen King, the majority of agented authors do all the marketing and promotions themselves. This includes booking and putting on author events. Since you’d most likely be doing it anyway, you can take the opportunity to be creative with your marketing efforts. Set up giveaways with a unique catch, create a You Tube channel and vlog about your book and what you’re reading, or even create your own Twitter hashtag.

Full Ownership:
 You own all of the rights to your book so you can do whatever you want with it, including selling movie rights if you so choose.

More Money in Your Pocket:
 Not only do you get to choose the price for your print and/or ebook and where your book is sold, all the profits go to you. You’re also paid once a month vs. once a year.

Springboard to Success:
 Some of the best-selling, highest grossing books of all time were self-published. The Joy of Cooking, 50 Shades of Gray, and The Tales of Peter Rabbit are among some notable success stories. The majority of best-selling self-published authors go on to sign with major publishing houses usually because their books and the market they created get too big for them to handle on their own. Self-publishing is actually a great opportunity to get published traditionally. If these authors hadn’t self-published their books to begin with, they might not have gained the attention needed to sign a major publishing deal.

Whatever your journey, whatever the outcome, the important thing to remember is to NEVER EVER give up writing. Yes, rejection is painful, but it happens to everyone. Stephen King’s Carrie, Frank Herbert’s Dune, Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time, and Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind were all repeatedly rejected by publishers, but it didn’t stop them. Rejection could actually be the driving force you need to take matters into your own hands.

About Amie Irene Winters:
 As an environmental conservationist, Amie Irene Winters has had a lot of unique jobs - from park ranger, natural history curator, to archaeologist - before she settled down as a full-time novelist. She is the author of the Strange Luck series. When not writing, she can be found hiking in the great outdoors or baking sinfully sweet desserts. Find out more about Amie and her books on amieirenewinters.com

Where to Find the Author:
Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/aiwintersTwitter
Twitter: https://mobile.twitter.com/AmieIWinters
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/amieiwinters
Google+: http://google.com/+AmieIreneWinters


Friday, 11 March 2016

(AUTHOR INTERVIEW) Tushar Sen

Today I will be interviewing Tushar Sen! Enjoy, and remember if you ever want to be interviewed Contact Me

First of all, tell us a little about yourself!

In fact there is very little about me worth telling; I am a banker by the day and an author, painter by the night (like Batman) and a photographer by the weekends. Perks of being and having all the time to yourself. I studied a little mathematics and a very little business management.


What inspired you to become an author?

After winning a few short story contests I decided to compile them into a book. I was falling short of just about a dozen stories and my friend pushed me to complete the anthology and release the book. So may be I am an accidental author.


What was the main inspiration for your most recent book?

My stories are inspired by true events and real life characters. I have woven my stories around geo-political issues, historic angels & demons like Amon Goethe and Moldof. I have written about things that we see everyday and unfortunately don’t appreciate their presence. I wanted to offer something to my readers that they have never experienced before.. in a literary sense of course.



Who influenced you the most in life?

The greatest influencer in life has been my grandfather Mr Bireshwar Bose who taught me to believe in myself.

What is the kindest thing someone has ever said and or done for you? 

The Gurudwara in Kalyan, those guys fed me for the longest time when my relatives refused to. I am forever indebted to them. 

Do you have a favourite author? (Or name a few) 

I admire Sir Salman Rushdie, Jhumpa Lahiri and Roald Dahl besides me.
What is the best writing advice you have ever received?

I received an advice recently from Sir Salman Rushdie when I asked him for his secret of writing. He advised me to write with confidence and have patience, because it takes time to produce a masterpiece. Infact he takes about 5 years to complete a book.

Did you always want to be a writer and if not what did was the first thing you wanted to be or do?

In my school days when I used to get and A+ in my history class I used to dream about things I could become which I eventually didn’t. As I said earlier, I am an accidental author. 

Do you like to listen to music while you write? If so, who are your favourite artists? 

That’s one thing I really like to do while writing; listening to music. I listen to Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Brahms and Hans Zimmer.

What helps you write when you're stuck and or have writer's block? 

A long walk really helps me overcome writer’s block, sometimes I don’t write for days till I get back into the groove. And during this hibernation phase I only listen to music I stop reading anything else in fear of distraction.


After a long day of writing etc, do you have a favourite tv show you like to watch? 

I like watching movies, I have a huge collection of movies I watch whenever I get time from my overworked mind. The only tv series I ever watched is Sherlock Holmes on BBC.

What are you working on currently? 

Currently I am working on promoting my book digitally. A lot has to be done by an author I am told by my publisher to publicize a book. 

When you're not writing, or working, what do you like to do?

When I am not writing I am either painting or clicking pictures. I am also fond of cooking which usually happens over the weekends. 
 
What are some of your most favourite books of all time? 

Shantaram by Robert Gregory Davis
Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
Illusions by Richard Bach

Which of your characters do you love the most and why?

I love the character of Maya in the story – The Paying Guest. She portrays the character of a strong woman who knows what she wants and stands against the norms of the society in an era where a woman had no rights. 

Which of your books are you most proud of? 

Pandora’s Box is my first book and I am yet to be proud of it.

What is the title of the last book you read/was it good or bad?

The last book I read was Man’s search for meaning by Viktor Frankl. It really provides an answer to the ever-haunting question: what provides meaning to a man’s life? It is a must read for every curious soul.

Is there anything specific you'd like to try writing about in the future? 

I am planning to write about aliens, that is something I find difficult to write. My next book could be about a consulting investigator who solves mysteries, not just crimes.

What is an interesting or hidden talent you have? 

None of my talents are hidden actually, but interestingly I keep my ability to read a person’s handwriting undercover, it helps me read a person secretly while he/she is totally unaware of it. I am not an expert in this field but I am learning and discovering.
If you could have one super power, what would it be and why would you choose it?

Well, in that case I would want to be a mentalist. To be able to read people’s mind is such an interesting thing, imagine the kind the perspective it will provide to an author to delve deep into the psyche of humans. 

Is there anything else you'd like my readers to know? 

An author is like a CEO and his book is the only product he is accountable for. The success and failure of a book is not just a function of its content. My publisher scared me off saying publishes 400 titles in year! Where did all of those authors disappear he asked me. A book you hear about from someone other than the author is already reflecting some silver lining. I only became aware of the popularity of my book when my publisher informed me they are in process of launching an audio book. The sample audio clip of the audio book was the sweetest sound I heard in ages, the first faint ring of success.

Where can we find you on social media?(please provide links)

Twitter: https://twitter.com/tusharsarojsen
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tushar.sen.737
Linkedin: https://in.linkedin.com/in/tushar-sen-8aa1b8b
Goodreads: https://goo.gl/MSZjDP
Amazon: http://goo.gl/u4rZ7M
Website: www.panbox.in

Make sure you check out Tushar's book Pandora's Box!