Based on the true story of the author’s family, this amazing, heartbreaking story of one family’s survival amidst the horrors of the Second World War and Holocaust.
The Kurc family live peacefully in Poland, as they have done for generations amongst until war breaks out. Their Jewish faith condemns them to the terrors of a continent torn apart.
There are some real heart wrenching moments, and the fact that the author’s relatives actually lived this story is just incredible, they are so brave and strong and endure so much. It’s not really a surprise Hunter’s grandfather never spoke about his past.
I loved this book, it really drew me into the family, each member drawn so beautifully, so alive on the page.
The book is published in the UK on the 21st of September, which gives you just enough time to pre-order it from your preferred purveyor of books.
September’s Birchbox is in collaboration with lifestyle brand Oliver Bonas.
There was an option to select your box design and to add a candle as an upgrade.
Inside the box are 4 sample size items and one full size, as well as some stickers and a discount voucher for Oliver Bonas. R+Co High Dive Moisture & Shine Cream sample size (full size RRP £23) – this is designed to smooth flyaway hair and add shine. It can also be used as a leave-in conditioner. I like a double duty product and this smells pretty inoffensive.
Manna Kadar Fantasy 3 in 1 Blush, Highlighter, Eyeshadow full size (RRP £15) – this is way too dark for me to use as a blush or highlighter but I think it would make a nice eyeshadow.
Polaar IcyMagic Instant Eye Contour Energiser sample size (full size RRP £22) – roll on eye gel to refresh and revive tired eyes, bags and dark shadows.
Dr PawPaw Original Clear Balm sample size (full size RRP £6.95) – this is a handbag hero – lipbalm, hand cream, split end soother, dry skin moisturiser. Shame they didn’t put a full size tube in the box, it’s not exactly pricey.
Rouge Bunny Rouge Bronzing Glow Liquid sample size (full size RRP £51) – this should be an added extra not a product, it’s piddly. This is way too dark for me too, although the suggested use is mixed with a little moisturiser or lotion, which presumably dilutes it.
The candle is bergamot and mint and matches the box, I like the drawer design. It smells quite nice but the bergamot isn’t particularly distinct, which is a shame as I really like bergamot and buy perfumes that contain it.
Overall this box was a bit uneven, good mix of products but too many tiny samples, which makes it feel less like a treat and more like I wandered around the beauty department and got given some handouts. The candle was a nice add on but it costs an extra £8, which seems excessive as Oliver Bonas isn’t exactly hard up as a company and could have been more generous.
Next week is my birthday and while I generally don’t go mad for present requests, when Uncommon Goods got in touch and asked if I’d like to make a wishlist from their incredible range of gifts, I said yes.
Uncommon Goods was founded in New York by Dave Bolotsky, inspired by the collections of the Smithsonian Museum, he wanted to curate a place for independent artists to sell their handmade, unique pieces. The company focuses on sustainability, and work in an ethical way, giving back to non-profits with every purchase through their Better to Give program.
I love working with companies like this, I strongly support independent businesses and artisans and this is a great way to discover some amazing artists and their creations that you might otherwise miss in all the noise of the internet.
Dare I mention it, but the C-word (the nice one) is just around the corner but don’t worry, the gang at Uncommon Goods have got you. With everything from curated lists of gifts for your best friend to the hard to buy for teens there’s something for everyone. I will certainly be buying some of these beautiful things for my friends and family.
So here is my list! Presents are always welcome at ramblingmads ☺
How cute is this guy? And he’s called Elwood, which makes me think of The Blues Brothers. One of my favourite films. So I need my hot chocolate in my Elwood the unicorn mug, feet up watching Elwood & Jake Blues please!
I’m a massive book fan and a literary scarf would be fantastic, maybe not Jane Austen though as I’m not a fan, but I do love an infinity scarf. I like the idea of wearing a book around your neck. Perfect for when I get bored on the Tube and I’ve finished my book.
I am always losing my glasses so thischap would be really handy and turn my wandering specs into a piece of art at the same time. I love the big nose, mine’s not quite as chunky, I hope!
Food is a big part of my life but sometimes I find it hard to get into cooking dinner every day, these foodie dice might just put the fun back into meal times. Certainly might get me experimenting with new combinations.
I love pretty jewellery and I can always use some positivity, attracting good vibes is definitely a bonus. I also like the pairing of gold and silver charms, it’ll go with any outfit.
Finally, this beautiful and fun indoor herb garden would go really nicely in my kitchen and because of the clever hydroponic system I might even manage to keep these plants alive.
*while this is a sponsored post, all opinions are my own.
I don’t really like true crime books, they’re often poorly written and lurid but this is nothing like those. Subtitled A Murder and a Memoir, this is not only the story of one terrible crime, but also a moving meditation on family, innocence and healing.
Marzano-Lesenevich was an intern for famed lawyer Clive Stafford Smith when she started to investigate the case of one of his clients, Ricky Langley, a convicted paedophile who murdered a young boy, Jeremy Guillory in Louisiana in 1992 and was given the death penalty, which on appeal was commuted to life in prison.
Combined with this case history is Marzano-Lesenevich’s own story. Hers is not a happy one either, life was often cruel and confusing and she is open about the hardships she too has suffered.
A masterful writer, who manages to weave these disparate narrative strands together in a very compelling read.
A mixture of court transcripts, reports and reconstructed scenes provide the story of Ricky, and Jeremy, while the author’s own memories and occasional family conversation build into her own.
This was much more readable than I’m probably making it sound, and I was really fascinated. Obviously it’s not the cheeriest of reads, it is certainly an interesting one.
I enjoy baking but I’m not quite Bake Off standard and one of the things I’ve tried to do more of is free from baking.
I have lots of friends who have food intolerances (as do I) so I like to make sure they feel catered for if I’m having them round.
When the team at Indigo Herbs got in touch about using their natural, free from ingredients I said yes please!
Indigo Herbs is an independent business located in the heart of Somerset, in Glastonbury and has a huge range of interesting products available online and in store. Plus they’re friendly, which is always a bonus.
On with the recipe!
Everyone loves chocolate brownies and chocolate pairs really well with cherries so combining the two was a doddle.
This bake is vegetarian but not vegan as I’ve yet to find an egg substitute that works as effectively without leaving any trace.
150g Purple Corn Flour*
150g Organic Coconut Sugar*
1.5 tbsp coconut oil
200g dark chocolate of your choice
1tsp gluten free baking powder
1.5 tsp Acerola Cherry Powder*
A few glacè cherries, chopped
Sprinkling of Organic Puffed Quinoa*
A very lazy cake to bake
Oven on 200°c and locate cake tin (I used a loose bottom one), line with baking parchment.
Weigh and measure your ingredients – do not drop any of them on the floor.
Mix your dry ingredients in a mixing bowl (I used a spatula but you could use your electric mixing bowl/whisk – I could only locate 1 prong attachment thing).
Melt the coconut oil and chocolate in a bowl in the microwave – this takes about 3 to 4 minutes. You could use a Bain Marie but that takes longer and requires more room in the kitchen and the brain.
Add the eggs to the dry mix, do not get any shell in there. If you do, fish it out, wrong kind of tasty surprise.
When the oil and chocolate have melted, pour it in. Be careful the bowl will be hot.
Mix everything together. Add the glacè cherries. Stir them in. You would be best to do this bit by hand.
You could be really clever and coat them in a little flour first so they don’t sink. I forgot to do this.
Pour into the lined brownie tray (or a cake tin like I did as my brownie tray is huge) and smooth the top. Or leave it slightly uneven if like me, you’re lazy and perfection is tiring.
Sprinkle the popped quinoa over the top. This provides a nice little crunch – a textural opposition to the soft brownies.
Pop into the oven for 20-30 minutes. Check whether a knife comes out clean. If it does, then it’s done, if the knife is sticky, pop it back in for a few minutes more. Ovens (and cakes) can be unpredictable.
Do the washing up or load the dishwasher and thank whoever invented this life saver.
Once the baking is done, take it out of the oven (switch the oven off – no one ever tells you to remember to do this in recipe books).
Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes as it will be soft. Then carefully transfer to a cooling rack (I got a set of three of these on Amazon – you’re welcome).
Once cool, you can decorate with more cherries or just slice and serve. Cream or custard (dairy free if preferred) go well with this.
Obviously you can skip the cherries or swap them for something else, try popcorn instead of quinoa, add extra chocolate, make a bigger batch. Basically, make it your own. Then send me the results – cake by post.
My independent taste testers gave this tasty treat two thumbs up, so give it a go.
*items provided by Indigo Herbs for the purposes of this recipe post. All opinions and recipes my own.
I have terrible dark shadows under my eyes and when I haven’t slept very well they look more like bruises.
So when the team behind this British skincare company got in touch and asked if I wanted to try their brightening eye serum I said yes.
With skin friendlies like Hyaluronic acid, co-enzyme Q10, Pentapeptides and green tea, I found this to be quite gentle on my sensitive skin, which is really important to me.
You only need a tiny bit twice a day patted gently under the eye and along the brow bone.
It smells quite pleasant too – with lavender, grapefruit and mandarin.
While I don’t think anything will completely erase my dark circles, except maybe several nights of proper sleep (I wish), this was nice and cooling – and my skin felt soft and smooth after using this for several weeks.
This book came in my recent Illumicrate and I have to admit I was a bit apprehensive about it. I haven’t seen the Wonder Woman film for a variety of reasons. But this isn’t a novelization of the film or really part of that narrative.
Bardugo wrote some of my favourite recent fantasy books (The Grisha trilogy, Six of Crows, Crooked Kingdom), which meant I knew she could write but working with existing characters is not always a good idea (see some of the many recent continuation novels from Sophie Hannah, Anthony Horowitz etc, a rather uneven territory).
However I was pleasantly surprised by her treatment of the DC super hero. Starting on the secret island Wonder Woman hails from, the novel really gets going once she leaves Themyscria for our modern world.
Having saved Alia from a sinking ship and broken one of the laws of the Amazons, Diana must leave or face banishment. An ancient bloodline is also in play – and the end of the world could be nigh.
In the end I read this very quickly, it certainly made my commute fly by, and it was really enjoyable. I hope this isn’t the one off it seems, Bardugo is a great writer and I really like the voice she gives to Wonder Woman.
Have you read this book? Seen the film? Have anything you want to share? The comments section is waiting for you.