de la motte_gameFollow the rules and everybody gets hurt . . .

One Sunday morning after a long night of partying, Henrik “HP” Pettersson, a slacker with a lot of ego and very little impulse control, finds a cell phone of an unfamiliar make on a commuter train. Through insisting and slightly uncanny messages that refer to him by name, the phone invites him to play a game. HP accepts without hesitation.

The rules are that HP must complete tasks that range from childish pranks to criminal acts, as allocated by the mysterious Game Master. HP is the perfect contender; alienated from society, devoid of morals, and desperate for fame. His completion of the assignments are filmed and uploaded onto a protected server where viewers rate the Players performances.

The Game starts out innocently enough and then becomes increasingly risky, threatening the safety of someone close to HP. He is determined to become a superstar, but when the dark and tragic secrets of his family’s past are at stake, HP must make a choice. Will he suffer the humiliation of defeat, or will the need to win push him to the limit no matter the cost?

First in a fast-paced and riveting trilogy, Game will leave you guessing. Follow the rules, and everybody gets hurt . . .

Paperback, 400 pages

Published December 3rd 2013 by Atria/Emily Bestler Books

Henrik finds an abandoned phone on a train that begins to receive personally addressed messages for him.  He is intrigued and decides to take the phone up on it’s offer, to play a game. The game begins with easy tasks, like to steal an umbrella, and real money can be won. But the games soon grow more dangerous and more money is offered. Henrik really has nothing better to do and finds the challenges a good way to pass the time and make money, along with the bonus high of getting away with illegal acts.

Henrik lets the game get to him; he loves the online attention he gets when his scores are posted. His ego takes hold and he thinks he can do no wrong. But then something does go wrong, and leaving the game is not as easy as starting it. Now he is going to need the help of others to leave and go up against more than just other gamers to win.

Rebecca is a more balanced and rounded character. The book is written from both her and Henrik’s perspectives and she fills in the gaps of the storyline we don’t see through Henrik’s fast-paced game sections, though we get as much excitement out of Rebecca’s story. Rebecca helps to coordinate security guards for personal  protection and it’s not long before Rebecca and Henrik get involved in the same mess.

The Game is a tech-crime thriller. It has yin and yang characters in Henrik and Rebecca; one you will like getting to know and one that will make you want to slap them. The writing jumps from different perspectives, sometimes within the same chapters, and this keeps the story moving and adds excitement.

What I loved about The Game is the energy that came with reading it. It was action-packed and featured moments that made me gasp, giggle, and shake my head. It was an enjoyable read that I could lose myself in and I wanted to continue reading. It is the first book in the series.


These accessories from Pixie Market caught our eye. Nothing like a little bit of leopard print on your feet! And turquoise in jewellery always reminds me of gifts mum bought back from Mexico when I was a kid. Love the colour.  What do you think?

pixie market_black-sunglasses_2 Pixie market_dynasty collar


pixie market 8_leopard-plimsole pixie market_tribal bracelet

Mandy Wrangles_2_tnIt’s no secret I’m a huge fan of the humble cake pop. My recipe is a no-bake-no-brainer, and I’ve blogged it a couple of times before. At my niece Alice’s, recent first birthday party, I made a trio of flavoured marshmallows – raspberry, blueberry and pineapple flavoured. To go with them, I made matching cake pops, patterned with pink, blue and yellow. They were the simplest I’ve made yet.


?????????????????????????????????????????What You Need:

*3 packets of Arnott’s Tim Tam biscuits (for those of you not in Australia and unable to get your hands on the mostamazingbiscuitintheworld, you can replace them with Oreos. Apparently.

*240 grams of Cream Cheese – this works out to 80g per pack of Tim Tams if you need to expand or decrease these amounts.

*Cake pop / lollypop sticks, available from cake decorating shops or online.

*2 packets of dark chocolate buds for melting.

*Candy Writers (actually chocolate in a tube) in various colours.


Alice's cake pops 2How it’s Done:

Add the Tim Tams and Cream Cheese to a blender and blitz until well combined. Using a heaped teaspoon for measurement, roll balls of mixture and place on a tray lined with baking paper. Refrigerate for half an hour.


Melt a small amount of chocolate in a cup (I use the microwave). Dip the end of a cake pop stick into the chocolate, and push into a Tim Tam ball. Allow to set in the fridge for another 20 minutes.


Melt more chocolate in a small but deep container. Dip each cake pop into the chocolate, submerging it completely. Place upside down on the tray lined with baking paper again, forming a flat side on the pops. Once the chocolate is set, decorate with the Candy Writers. Now, these aren’t candy as we know it in Australia. They’re coloured white chocolate with a few extras added in, but perfect for this type of thing. In a cup or mug, add really hot (but not boiling) water. Add the tube of ‘candy’, and wait 5 minutes for it to begin to melt. Massage and roll the tube in your hands before adding it back to the hot water for a few minutes. This enables to chocolate to melt evenly. Snip the top of the tube, and add any sort of pattern you like to the flat top of your cake pops. I found spirals and zig-zags were a quick and effective way to go.


As I’ve done before, I served the finished cake pops bunched in a simple glass tumbler. Totally irresistible!

hodge_cruel beautyGrowing up, there was hardly a single day that went by where I wasn’t watching Lion King or Beauty and the Beast over and over again. These two Disney movies were my absolute favourites. Looking back, I don’t know how my parents put up with them constantly playing! So, when I heard that Cruel Beauty was a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, I knew I had no choice but to get my hands on a copy and read it.

The Beast is actually a Demon Lord who grants peoples’ wishes, but not like the tooth fairy. Instead, he twists people’s words, and the wish always comes back to haunt them. (He is a Demon Lord after all. What did you expect?)

Before Nyx was born, her father asked the Demon Lord for a wish. It came true, and he had to repay the lord by giving him one of his two twin daughters once they turn seventeen.

Nyx has been trained to kill her soon-to-be-husband and is willing to take any risk to do so. But even after years and years spent preparing for the day when she will be married off to the Demon lord, Nyx can’t help but feel anger and hatred toward her sister who wasn’t chosen, and seems to be the apple of her father’s eye, and towards her maternal aunt who is now slipping in between her father’s sheets.

But as many of you Beauty and the Beast fans may know, the Demon Lord isn’t much like he is claimed to be. Yes, he grants people’s wishes and causes them harm, but nobody knows that he is forced to do it by a greater power. He is a prisoner and Nyx is the first person in hundreds of years to truly see him for himself, and not as an evil king.

Nyx knows what she had to do, but she is no longer sure if it’s the right thing to do. She’s caught and doesn’t know which way to go: Do as her father taught her, or help the Demon Lord escape his own imprisonment?

Cruel Beauty was an interesting read. If I got the chance I would definitely visit the mansion, just to see all of these crazy rooms, especially the one that mimics nature.

While I absolutely loved Nyx and her odd relationship with Shade and the Demon lord, I was disgusted by her father. I understand that he made this crappy deal, and that it was a huge mistake, but treating the twin sister differently and loving one much more than the other wasn’t right. Besides the way Nyx’s father treated her, I also disliked her aunt. She was sleeping around with her dead sister’s husband. How did she not feeling horrible?

Overall, the story was good! It was an amazing retelling that kept most of the original details, but didn’t follow the entire story directly. If you get the chance to pick this one up, I recommend doing so!

Belinda_kisses_tnBelinda Hamilton interviewed our favourite teen mentor about her latest girl power project.


The rite of passage of having a Pen Pal seems to have died out with email and instant messaging. Was the Pen Pal Project 2014 an initiative with traditional paper and pens, or was it mostly electronic?

The Pen Pal Project 2014 exchange was electronic due to our limited working time frame–Monica Murphy, the girl’s teacher was in their village for only a few months.  Originally, we wanted to use traditional paper and pens; however, their mailing service would not allow our letters to arrive until weeks after we sent them. We wanted to communicate back and forth as much as possible, so we resorted to email. The only source of technology Monica had with her was an iPad. The girls read our emails and responded on the iPad one at a time, so we still received their authentic answers, and the iPad served as a learning tool for the girls as they experienced advanced technology. 




Most of the girls featured in the Vimeo clip look to be around 15. What are their biggest worries?

The girls’ biggest worries are very similar to young girls in the United States, as they were worried about their relationships with friends and family, social status, and getting good grades. Bullying is a big deal in Ghana; however, since the majority of them do not use social media, everything is done in person, which quickly results to violence. Another big issue that was discussed was the pressure to fit in. Just like here in the United States, the girls got excluded from groups of friends and felt that they were not good enough to socialize with the richer and more “elite” girls. 

What was the most difficult question you were asked?

It is so hard to choose the most difficult question I was asked because I was honestly so impressed at how intelligent and curious the girls were about serious issues. They wanted to know what leadership meant to me, how to become a leader, how they could have the opportunity to attend a University in the United States, etc… I even had to do some research for some of the questions, such as “How do I become the President of your country?” Their determination and drive was astonishing, and it makes me sad that these girls, who are already so intelligent and starving for an education, are deprived of it. Meanwhile, my peers here in America complain that their parents are “making them” go to college. It doesn’t seem fair.

 PenPal profect


What do you hope the PenPal project achieved?

I hope the PenPal project inspired these young girls to believe they can be anything they want to be, and they shouldn’t allow their background or current economic status to deter them from their dreams. I also hope it made them realize how bright and successful they already are, and that they should have confidence in themselves. Part of the purpose behind the PenPal project was also to inspire others in the United States and help them realize the beautiful and intelligent girls that are being deprived of a higher education in not only Africa, but other parts of the world as well. A lack of peer to peer mentorship is apparent. I can only imagine what these girls could achieve if they had positive mentorship on a regular basis. 

 Penpal project 2


What other projects are you involved in or do you plan to develop?

I am currently in Stoneham, Maine working at Camp Susan Curtis and giving Girl Talks to inspire the girls there to be kind to each other, confident in themselves, and to THINK before they speak, type, or text. This is my second year in Maine. I love seeing the message take hold as these girls find their Girl Power. My future plans are to organize a trip to meet my Pen Pal girls and continue our conversations. Although any type of positive communication and mentorship is a great opportunity for young girls, I always prefer to meet with them in person; I feel that it makes a larger impact. I am realizing this more and more as I work with the young girls here in Maine and develop meaningful relationships with them. I can’t wait to come back again next summer! Another project I am excited for is the release of my second book this fall titled “Kissing Frogs: In Search of Prince Charming.” This book is written for high school girls as they begin the dating process. My stories, lessons, and exclusive chapter “The Good Guys” written with J.K. Schaffer, linebacker for the Cincinnati Bengals, gives girls an insight to finding a good guy, aka prince charming! 

Lauren Galley


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