Wednesday, September 30, 2015

September Wrap-Up (18 Books!)

October is almost here and it's time for another monthly wrap-up! I'm really excited for October. Between lots of exciting upcoming book releases and the festivities of Halloween, it's going to be a great month. And speaking of Halloween, I'll be soon posting about my reading plans and Halloween ideas for the month of October, so keep an eye out for that :)

And now, without further delay, let's get started!

The Comics/Graphic Novels

Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall by Bill Willingham - 5 stars 
This volume was my favorite since March of the Wooden Soldiers. It was published between volumes 7 and 8 of the series and is set centuries before the current storyline. In the beginning of this volume, we follow Snow's story as she's dispatched as an ambassador to negotiate with the sultan who rules over the Arabian fables. The sultan, outraged that Fabletown would send a woman for this mission, refuses to let Snow leave and decides to have her beheaded. To keep this dreaded fate at bay, Snow tricks the sultan by telling him a new story every night. This is a volume that could be enjoyed even by someone who's never read Fables before and I highly recommend it.

Ms Marvel Vol.1 by Brian Reed - 3 stars
Carol Danvers became the superheroine known as Ms Marvel when she was caught in a flash of alien light. So long she was working with other superhero teams, she seemed to be doing fine but since she's decided to go solo, she's come to realize that this superhero gig was a lot harder than she'd realized. This is her story as she struggles to be not a good, not a better, but the best of the best of superheroes. Sometimes she's clueless. Sometimes she screws up. But for the most part, she gets the job done. This first volume does little more than set the stage for her later adventures but I'll be definitely reading more of Ms Marvel's stories. Also note that this is the original Ms Marvel series, published before the reboot staring Kamala Khan.

The X-Men Vol. 1 (Issues 1-10) by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby - 4 stars
I've decided to undertake an ambitious and somewhat crazy project: To read ALL of the X-Men comics, starting with the oldest. I'll probably not be able to cover every single comic ever written but for now, I'm really having fun reading the earliest adventures of the X-Men. The first issues are so cheesy they're hilarious. And the art! Well, let's just say there's A LOT of bright colors. Not to mention all the angst of the budding love between Jean and Scott. These stories are still a blast to read though and I'll definitely be reading more of these comics. 

Morning Glories Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 by Nick Spencer - 4 stars each
This is one of the weirdest graphic novels I've ever read and I absolutely love it. Six brilliant young people, each with their fair share of dark secrets, arrive at a prestigious prep school, Morning Glories Academy, seemingly to get an exclusive education. As soon as the new students arrive though, they realize they're trapped in the academy, unable to either contact their family or leave. And then, the madness begins. I really can't say much, simply because I'm still way too mystified myself to really explain what's actually going on. Just read it, you'll love it! 

The Children Books

The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket - 4 stars
This is the first book in the Series of Unfortunate Events. The day their house burnt to the ground, Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire not only lost their parents but also found themselves homeless. Sent away to live with a distant relative, the horrible Count Olaf, the children find themselves in the midst of a dark plan to rob them of their inheritance. This book was a joy to read and I'm very eager to read the next books in the series. 

Dream On Amber by Emma Shevah - 3 stars
Amber is half-Japanese and half-Italian. Along with having to deal with the first days of middle school and a father who's been absent from her life since forever, Amber is trying to fit in. She wants to meet people she can feel at home with. People who will understand her. The story follows her as she makes her way through middle school and start coming in terms with the problems in her life. I thought this book was just okay. A nice but somewhat underwhelming story. 

Famous Five 1-3 by Enid Blyton - 4 stars each
This series follow the adventures of siblings Anne, Dick and Julian and their cousin George, as they uncover secrets and find hidden passages and treasures, accompanied by their loyal dog Timmy. A fun series full of mystery and delightful descriptions of food that could give George R.R. Martin a run for his money.  

The Witches by Roald Dahl - 4 stars
The book follows the adventures of a young boy and his grandma as they encounter evil, child-hating witches. As with all the Dahl books I've read so far, this was a fun and nicely crafted story that you'd enjoy just as well at 10 as you would at 20. 

The Historical Fiction Books

Confessions of an ugly step-sister by Gregory Maguire - 5 stars
As you can guess from the title, this is a retelling of Cinderella. There is no actual magic though and it is instead written as a historical novel set in 17th century Holland. The story is told from the point of view of one of Cinderella's 'ugly step-sisters'. I enjoyed this book so damn much. I had no idea what to expect before reading it but it blew me away. I'll definitely be reading more of this author's books, my next one most probably being Wicked. 

Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee - 3 stars
This is the recently published first draft of To Kill A Mockingbird. I didn't hate it but I didn't enjoy it either. I just wish it had never been published. Read my full review here.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - 4 stars
Narrated by Death, this book follows the story of Liesel Meminger, a young girl living in Germany during WWII. The writing was very different from what I usually read. Very poetic and descriptive. I'd totally recommend it. I'd also suggest you watch the movie since I really enjoyed that as well.

The Classic(s)

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson - 4 stars
I finally got around to reading this children's classic and loved it. True, sometimes the marine jargon was a little tricky, especially since I don't really read lots of books about pirates and sea adventures, but overall it was a really fun read. 

Fiction Books

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki - 4 stars
This is the dual story of a woman who one day finds the diary of a young Japanese girl washed up ashore on the beach, and the girl who's narrating the diary. It was a unique and beautiful story and I'd definitely recommend it. Check out my review of this book for a more detailed description of the story. Read my full review here.

Love by Angela Carter - 3 stars
Annabel, a mentally imbalanced girl, lives with her husband and her brother-in-law in a little flat. Together, these three people lead a very hermetic life, needful of each other in different ways that make their relationships to each other both complex and stifling. I love Angela Carter's writing and while I do acknowledge that in its own way this is a beautiful story, I just couldn't bring myself to give it a higher rating. I guess it just wasn't for me. I'll definitely be reading more of Angela Carter's books though.

This Month's Favorite

The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter - 5 stars
Those of you who've been following my blog for a while now probably remember that a few months ago, I had another Angela Carter book, The Magic Toyshop, as my favorite book of the month. I guess it's safe to say that I have a new name to add to my favorite authors list. The Bloody Chamber is a collection of fairy tale retellings, all with a dark spin. This collection definitely has a Gothic atmosphere to it, and it's not only because of the subject, but also due to Carter's melodious narrative voice. Some stories I liked more than others but overall, I loved the whole collection. After finishing it, I had to wait a little while before gathering my thoughts about it. I might have given it 4 stars had I rated it there and then. After a while though, as I thought about the book, I realized that I had utterly fallen in love with it without even noticing and couldn't give it anything less than 5 stars. I can't wait to reread this collection.

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Cover Art by Of Stacks and Cups via Pagemodo

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Soudha's Travel Log 2: Reading in the Garden

Today we're going to take a little stroll in the Southern Hemisphere's oldest garden, the Pamplemousses Botanical Garden. Pamplemousses, which is French for grapefruits, is also the name of the district where the garden is located. The garden was created in 1770, while the island was still occupied by French settlers. Years later, remnants of the long gone French days still linger in the silent paths that weave through the garden, leading to the old chateau hidden away within. 

Let's Take A Stroll In The Garden...

It's by a warm Sunday day that I make the trip to Pamplemousses, eager to revisit the old garden that has come to be one of my favorite places on the island. As I arrive there, I am greeted by an alleyway of trees, and it is under their gently wavering shadows that I walk inside the garden.

Although it is Sunday, the timid winter sun hasn't drawn a lot of visitors in and the garden is almost empty as I walk under the soft but delightful sunshine of Pamplemousses. We are in the North, where the days are always a bit warmer than where I live, farther away in the colder regions of the island. 

Every now and then, you can hear the occasional singing of birds and the rustling of the leaves overhead as the wind slips through the knotted canopy of the branches from nearby trees.  

After a few minutes, I arrive at the statue of Bernardin de St. Pierre, a French writer and botanist who notably wrote Paul & Virginie, a tragic love story set in Mauritius. Although the book has today been widely forgotten, in the 18th century it was actually quite famous. Today, Paul and Virginie are recognized as Mauritius's own Romeo and Juliet and can be found in works of art all over the island. 

Leaving behind the whispers of tragic love and forgotten centuries, I reach the garden's most famous attraction, its long pond of giant water lilies. Scattered among the large circular leaves, the occasional water lily amazes the approaching visitor with its dress of pure white petals. 

I am carefully walking around the water-licked edges of the pond, trying to figure out the best angle to capture this beautiful painting of glittering waters and floating leaves when I notice someone sitting in front of the pond, an actual paintbrush in her hand. I walk a bit closer to the young woman, an Asian tourist, and can't help but stare when I see the beautiful painting she's making, having captured the exact same image I'd been trying to capture through my camera. Awed and definitely a bit shy, I ask her if I can take her picture and she nods with a smile. 

I simply love coming across artists and getting to meet them. My encounter with this young woman was definitely the highlight of my visit to the garden that day. It's always nice to meet people who share a love for art, isn't it?

Leaving behind the pond of water lilies, I'm now approaching the deepest part of the garden, where centuries of unspoken history awaits within the walls of an old French chateau. The Château de Mon Plaisir has been the home to various French officials back in the old days, including Pierre Poivre, the man who developed the garden. While today the colonial house is home to dust and phantoms of past lives, a visit to the garden wouldn't be complete without stopping at least once before its ancient walls. If walls could talk, huh? 

What I'm Currently Reading 

I'm currently reading The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and I'm absolutely loving it. I'm already familiar with the story, having seen the movie countless times with my sister before. I actually bought the book months ago as part of my birthday book haul in February but hadn't really dared pick it up. Having already watched the movie, I guess I was scared of not loving the book because I already knew the story. Turns out I had been worrying for nothing after all. As a matter of fact, I'm glad I'm already familiar with the characters and story because that way, it feels a bit like reuniting with old friends. I'll keep my full thoughts for my wrap-up but I can already tell that I'm going to give this book a very good rating. 

The Souvenir(s) 

I bought this postcard at a little stall near the exit of the garden. It shows a few touristic spots of the island, including the famous water lilies of the garden in the top left corner. 

More travel stories & Giveaways

So that was another post in my new Travel Log series. If you want to read more about Mauritius and see pictures of my other trips, click the link below:

Soudha's Travel Log Series

And if you haven't already done so, click below to check out the two giveaways that I'm hosting this month. They'll both end on the 30th of September, so you still have time to enter if you wish to ^^ 

Giveaway 1 (International)

I hope you enjoyed this post. As always, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments :)

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Cover Art by Of Stacks and Cups via Pagemodo

Monday, September 21, 2015

Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee - My Review Of A Book That Should Have Probably Not Been Published

OK, I'll be honest here. What actually made me buy this book was the gorgeous orange cover. Do I regret buying it though? No. But that's only because had I not bought it, I would have never bought and read To Kill A Mockingbird and that book was one of my favorite books this year. And of all time. Go Set A Watchman is what basically made me read To Kill A Mockingbird, and that's about its main redeeming quality. 

Do I think Watchman was largely a cleverly executed marketing trap? Definitely! But I don't actually mind that since it did make a lot of people (myself included) finally pick up and read To Kill A Mockingbird. 

This review started as an angry rant in my head and while I did eventually tone it down a little bit, it's style is definitely going to be different from my other reviews. My original feelings while and just after reading the book were basically pissed and getting even more pissed. Looking back on the book though, I must admit that it wasn't all trash. So instead of posting an angry rant, I thought I would instead tell you the positive and negative things about the book.

The Negative Aspects

The manuscript that didn't make it

The first thing you need to know is that this is not a sequel of To Kill A Mockingbird. Myself included, a lot of people bought this thinking it was a sequel. The fact that all the characters are older and that the setting is the same certainly has something to do with the misunderstanding. But no, this is in fact an early manuscript of To Kill A Mockingbird. Yep. Watchman is basically the first draft that was originally rejected and reworked to produce Harper Lee's beloved masterpiece. 

So, reading this book, I couldn't help but feel a bit uncomfortable thinking that maybe this was something that was never meant to be published. It honestly made me feel like I was reading someone's secret diary or something. I just couldn't shake the feeling that I was reading something Harper Lee had never meant for the public to read. The debate as to Harper Lee consented to the publication is still open, but as far as I'm concerned, the simple fact that the debate exists at all makes me really uncomfortable. 

Plot elements from To Kill A Mockingbird have been shamelessly changed with no regards to what actually happened in the first book

Yes, we know it's a draft rather than a sequel of book one, but that's just another reason why we didn't actually need this book. Since it's only an early draft, it was perfectly fine for the publishers to validate changes made to the plot of the first book. To fans of To Kill A Mockingbird though, these plot changes just ruin the story and characters they love. It's like reading Harry Potter 8 and finding out that Harry had dumped Ginny for Hermione. I don't care if Watchman is supposed to count as canon or meta or whatever. As far as I'm concerned, it just created a really sucky situation for fans of To Kill A Mockingbird. 

Here's one of those plot changes. You might want to skip it if you haven't read To Kill A Mockingbird yet and don't want to be spoiled. 

Some characters now have completely different physical descriptions 

In To Kill A Mockingbird, Mayella Ewell, the girl who accused Tom Robinson of raping her, is described as being around 19. In Watchman though, when the events of the trial are being recounted, she's described as being 14 at the time. Why? Just, why?

Some characters have suffered full personality changes 

There was one such personality change that was rather heartbreaking and had me seriously considering putting the book down. To change a character's age or hair color without explanation is one thing but to completely alter a character's personality is downright wrong. Especially when it's a character you really loved. Highlight the space between *Start of spoiler* and *End of spoiler* to read the spoiler below:
*Start of spoiler*Atticus Finch, whom we've all admired for bravely fighting for a black man's justice in an era of ruthless racism is suddenly... a racist?! *End of spoiler*

They laid off a crucial main character without so much as a decent paragraph to break it to us.

All we got was a single sentence to explain this character's off-screen death and that's it. Yup, he/she is dead. Sorry but not sorry to break it to you like that. Moving on now...  Don't check this spoiler unless you've read both To Kill A Mockingbird and Go Set A Watchman! 
*Start of spoiler* Jem is dead. Jem is fucking dead. And we're supposed to be okay with the fact that we're told this in one, single, heartless sentence.*End of spoiler*

As much as I want to keep hating this book though, I have to admit that it wasn't all that bad. I will never love this book and still think it should have never been published, but there were some aspects of it that weren't so bad. 

The Positive Aspects

Scout's character  

The main positive thing about Watchman was that Scout, or Jean Louise as she's called now, was still the same character we all loved from the first book, albeit all grown up now. Her character stayed true to her portrayal as a child in To Kill A Mockingbird and was what made this book relatively okay. She might be an adult and go by Jean Louise now but she's still the adorably rebellious Scout we all love. She's an open-minded woman who lives in a time and place where racism is still rampant. Her ideologies and beliefs are very avant-garde for her time but she fully embraces them and remains true to herself no matter how hard it is in a small, traditional place as her Southern hometown. 

It's a quick read

The book might not seem like it when you first pick it up, but it's actually quite short, with large font and spacing and a fast-paced writing style. You can easily finish this in one day. It did take me two days though, but that's only because I got so upset I had to temporarily put it down. If you actually enjoy the story, you might finish it in one sitting.

The content of the flashbacks

There were flashbacks. Lots of them. Sometimes it even felt like the book was trying too hard to make us nostalgic. However, if you overlook that little detail, you'd probably really enjoy reading about Scout and her brother Jem's childhood days. These parts reminded me a lot of To Kill A Mockingbird, which was probably the goal. 

Final Word

I eventually gave this book 3 out of 5 stars, which was probably a bit generous considering the fact that I didn't even enjoy it that much. I don't regret reading this book though. Go Set A Watchman is possibly the year's most controversial book. 2015's Satanic Verses, so to speak. And the only way to educate yourself about the whole controversy and literary phenomenon is to read the book. Because of that, I will not tell people not to read Go Set A Watchman. By all means, do read it. You can only know where you stand on the debate if you've read the book. Maybe you'll hate it with a passion. Or, maybe you'll actually really enjoy it. You can only know if you read it. And if you've read or want to read it, feel free to share your thoughts with me in the comments. 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Magic and Wonder Giveaway 2 (Open Internationally)

Hey guys! I'm back today with this month's second Magic and Wonder giveaway. Today I have another Etsy guest to introduce to you. Her name is Melody and she's from the Etsy store The Craft by Melody. Melody makes adorable crochet amigurumi dolls, often inspired by literary and pop culture characters such as these adorable Hobbits from J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord Of The Ring. 

Find these adorable Hobbits here.

Throughout this post you'll find pictures of her other dolls, all the which have links to where you can find them down in the captions. Below you'll find the giveaway, followed by my interview with the very talented Melody. 

The Giveaway

Today, Melody is giving away one of her dolls as part of my September's Magic and Wonder Giveaways and the one she chose for the lucky winner is this cute mermaid doll she called Betta.

Find this mermaid doll here.

This giveaway is open internationally and will end on the 30th of September. The winner will be announced in the first week of October. 

Also, I'd like to remind you that I'm currently hosting two Magic & Wonder giveaways. If you haven't already entered the other one, you can click here to participate.

Interview with Melody

Here's an interview I had with Melody, in which she tells us more about the magic behind her beautiful crochet dolls.

How did you start? Were you taught or inspired by someone?
I learned to do the basic crochet chain for friendship bracelets by my mother. I got back into crocheting 3-4 years ago to continue the tradition from my father’s side. My paternal grandmother, aunts, and the past generations of women in my family are/were crocheters. I am completely self taught via visual aids from YouTube and books.
How cute is this Jane Austen doll?! Find it here.

What was the first thing you ever crafted? How was the experience like?
The first doll I ever crafted was via a free pattern I found online. The experience was overwhelming; I was hooked on amigurumi from that day on. I look back, having created my own pattern now, and I see her (mom’s kept her) – and seeing this small voodoo like doll; it’s very humbling and inspiring.

What is your next art/craft project?
My next step is creating a whole new different doll pattern; she’ll look more humanoid and will be bigger, 12”. The first doll to be made with this pattern will be a mermaid of a different look, not the beloved Hans Christian Andersen image we all know.

Enid Blyton's Noddy. Find this doll here.

Do you have other interests/passions/hobbies apart from crafting?
I love reading, from classics like Pride & Prejudice and Mysterious Island to more modern books such as Dune, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and Jurassic Park.
I like history, from the dawn of time to about the 1940s. Everything else is modern.
I LOVE SPACE! Total nerd right here haha. The universe is so inspiring and awe striking to me. I also love and am SUPER geeky about sci-fi shows – off the top of my head, Doctor Who and Star Trek are my 2 biggest fandoms. Needless to say if it’s sci-fi I probably saw it and liked it haha.
I’m also a bit of an adrenaline junkie; skydiving, hang gliding, white water raft, rock climbing, scuba diving, and roller coasters are just the few feathers in the cap.

Who are your favorite artists?
A few artists I like are James R. Eads, FinFolks, Jenevieve Broomall, Ciruelo, Ruth Thompson, Tommy Eliassen, John W. Waterhouse, Rembrandt, Filippo Brunelleschi, Norman Rockwell and Edmund Blair Leighton.

Find this Egyptian Goddess doll here.

What would you say to an aspiring artist or crafter who wishes to commercialize his or her creations?
Go for it, jump right in. The best part of crocheting, knitting, or any fiber art is that it's forgiving. 

Start small with basic materials you would get from a local craft store (support small businesses). Create a small inventory, 15-25 items, and sell to friends and family. I would say go online and see what others are selling - how it is similar, how it is different. With that, you can judge pricing, materials, networking via keywords, hashtags and social media branches. 

You can find free websites to create your online space where you can display and hone in on your craft. Blogs and social media like Facebook and Instagram are great things to get into. Create an Etsy account as a cyber-shop. 

Don't lose faith in yourself and in your art. Be realistic when you need to modify and revamp. If you're happy with the way your art looks, don't compromise pricing. 
Never tell others, especially buyers, your doubts, the flaws in your work, or if you feel down and out - always be happy and pepping because people want to see a confident handworking artist - even if you don't feel like it at times. 

Discover more about Melody and her crafted dolls at on her website by clicking here.

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Cover Art by Of Stacks and Cups via Pagemodo

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

A Tale For The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki - Book Review

Today I have an in-depth but spoiler-free review of A Tale For The Time Being for you. If you've read this book, please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments about the things I've discussed here.

The Plot

One day, as she's walking along the beach, Ruth stumbles upon a strange package that has washed ashore. Inside, she finds the diary of a 16-years old Japanese girl. And thus, as she starts to read the diary, we discover through Ruth's eyes the story of this young girl called Nao.

** Despite the author and the character of Ruth sharing the same name and profession, this is not actually an autobiography.**

Illustration of Nao's Hello Kitty lunchbox swept away by the sea by Adam Fisher and found here

My Review

The Story

This book is very character-driven, relying more on character development than actual plot to move the story along. But despite the sparse elements of action, the narrative thread unfolded in a really nice pacing. 

Though the book has a few dark passages, the general narrative voice is often very witty and light. While you may not laugh aloud at every page, you will find yourself chuckling every now and then. Though it has a lot of dramatic elements, it's not a depressing book at all.

The Characters

Nao, the young girl writing in the diary, is by far my favorite character in the book. She narrates her story in a straightforward voice, occasionally laced with teen sarcasm and fantasy. Her playful way of going about her otherwise rather dramatic story often makes you wonder whether or not she's being entirely honest with you. Yet, while Nao isn't the most reliable of narrators, she certainly has one of the most interesting narrative voices in the book.

While I devoured the chapters narrated by Nao, I found those from Ruth's POV a bit slow. Her chapters were interesting enough but I just couldn't really connect with her character.

I loved reading about Nao's family and while her parents were hardly a happy duo, it was very interesting to read about them. However, when it comes to Ruth's side of the story, the cast of secondary characters were just okay. I could see why their presence in Ruth's story was relevant but I just didn't find them particularly interesting. Pesto the grumpy cat was probably the most interesting side character from Ruth's storyline. 
Ruth and Nao. Original illustration found here.

Another of my favorite characters though is Nao's great-grandmother, an old Japanese nun named Jiko. She is a fascinating character and the coolest nun I've ever read about, not that I read lots of books about nuns or anything. Despite being supposedly "104 years old", she really gets Nao in a way the girl's own parents can't. The parts where she dispersed cryptic but soothing words of advice to Nao were among my favorites. 

My second favorite narrator in this book was Haruki #1, Nao's great-uncle and Jiko's son, who died during WWII. Though we don't get to read about his thoughts and confessions until later in the book, these passages were really well-written and were among my favorites.

The Prose

The book has a light but well-written prose. Ozeki's writing flows pleasantly while being to the point, sparing the reader from overly lavish descriptions and unnecessarily complex sentences. She manages to make you both gasp and chuckle without going over the top with her prose. And yet, her writing is such that after a little while, you'll find it harder and harder to put down the book.

The Ending 

While Nao's diary doesn't quite give us a definitive conclusion to her story, we do get a few hints from other sources as to what happened to her following what we've discovered in the pages she wrote. So, while the ending does retain some level of mild ambiguity, it remains overall quite satisfying. 

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

The only things I didn't quite like in the book were Ruth's weird dream sequences. They just felt too weird and out of place. It was like quietly reading about mysterious diaries and Japanese nuns and have Haruki Murakami suddenly sneak up on you with lots of weirdness. Dream sequences are actually among my reading pet peeves because often, they don't quite add to the story. Except for that though, this book was really good and I'd fully recommend it.

Giveaway reminder

I hope you guys enjoyed this review. Let me know your thoughts down in the comments! Also, I'd like to quickly remind you of the giveaway I'm currently hosting. If you haven't entered the giveaway yet, you can do so by clicking here. Good luck!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Magic and Wonder Giveaway 1 (Open Internationally)

Hey guys! This month I'm starting a new feature and this time, I'm having some guests over! I've always been a fan of art and creative ventures and so, I decided to feature Etsy sellers on my blog each month in order to promote their work. Each month I'll also have giveaways where one of you will be able to win a free product from the store of the Etsy seller I'm working with. 

I also thought that it would be fun to assign a theme to each month and for September, the theme is Magic and Wonder. I'll be hosting two giveaways in line with this theme, so make sure you visit my blog again for the second giveaway which is coming up soon. 

Today my Etsy guest is Audra from Mrs Sprocket's Trinkets. Audra is from Florida and makes steampunk handmade jewelry and other trinkets. Her one of a kind artwork is what first caught my eye. The first time I visited her store, it reminded me a bit of the atmosphere from the Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Strange and beautiful at the same time. 

Interview With Audra 

Here's an interview I had with Audra, in which she talks about her early inspirations, her creations and her passion for Anime and Cosplay! You'll find the giveaway at the end of the interview. 

1. How did you start your craft?

I have always been into arts, crafts and drawing since I was little, doing things here and there for fun. Friends have told me they liked what I did and the ideas I had and suggested I start making things to sell. So I decided to open up a store. I also take my creations to different conventions.

2. From whom did you take your inspiration? 

My mom was very artsy and crafty and my dad was very artistic. So I learned the craft aspects from her and I also love to draw which I got from my dad.

Steampunk charm bracelet

3. Did you take any special classes?

The only thing close to classes were art and sculpture classes I took throughout middle school and high school. Other than that, I’m self-taught with a hint of YouTube watching if I wasn't completely sure how to make something technically come together.

4. What was the first thing you ever crafted? 

When I was young the first thing was a clay cup that I made in pottery class and a cat picture I did in art class. They didn't look great, but it was awesome to go through the process of learning how to do both.

5. What was the experience like?

The first time I decided to try making jewelry it was an awesome feeling of “Holy cow I made that and it looks good!”

But the more I make the better they get and the more fun I have. Since I make every piece differently, I get to experiment with what I think looks good but also about what I think the person purchasing it would like and how good would it look with the costume or outfit they would wear it with.

6. What is the favorite thing you ever crafted? Can it still be found in your store?

So far the piece I've made that I liked the most was an Octopus that was made out of melted plastic. And it is still for sale in my store.

7. Are you working on anything new at the moment?

Right now I am working on a steampunk battery operated lamp that will be made from a really awesome bottle that a friend gave to me. I hope to have it ready for the next convention I'm going to in the middle of September. Depending on how much people like it I have quite a few other ideas in mind for similar lamp projects with bottles.

8. What are your other passions and hobbies?

I really love to draw Anime and animals. I enjoy reading, and writing poems. Also love to put together puzzles. I also love going to different conventions like Anime and Cosplaying.

9. Who are your favorite artists?

I love a lot of the old time artists like Monet or Picasso. Their paintings are just beautiful and weird. And I can't think of the specific artists’ names but I love Greek architecture and sculptures.

10. What would you say to an aspiring artist who wishes to commercialize his or her creations?

Do what you enjoy, and if you decide to commercialize your product and you make several different types of things, try to get an idea of what other people like and what others sell.

If you only do one type like drawing or just making jewelry etc. just do what you like and you're good at.

Most importantly make sure to get as much info out on social media as possible since that is the most popular means of communication and buying today. 

And if you're able to do so, going to conventions, like Anime, SciFi or comic book conventions, and having a booth or table is a great way to get your name/brand out. I've found from experience that even if what you do isn't directly related to the convention, it doesn’t really matter cause people love the dealer rooms and sometimes, you may sell even better since you have something that is unique to that convention.

The Giveaway 

Enter the giveaway to win the Into The Mine necklace, made with Bottle, Gear, Clock and Key Charms and Guitar String that was used by the Steampunk band, The Cog Is Dead, in concert!

Here are a few things to know about this giveaway:
  1. It's open internationally.
  2. All the Magic and Wonder giveaways end on the 30th of September.
  3. The winners of all the Magic and Wonder giveaways will be announced on the 1st of October.

Good luck everyone!

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Cover Art by Of Stacks and Cups via Pagemodo