Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Three Good Things : Week 3

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It's Week 3 of Three Good Things (for more details about this series, read this post) and I can't believe it's come around so quickly! Why does time seem to fly, especially when things are going well?


We had a big tidy up in our conservatory last week and as a result, we now have an actual organised space that we can use for our craft projects. Hurray! I've been lusting after some proper storage, rather than the heaps of stuff that cluttered the table, and the purchase of a few plastic containers combined with the two empty shelves in one of the bookcases now means that all our paper, card, glue, paint, crayons, and other bits and pieces has a home. I can't tell you how happy that's made me! I now enjoy spending time in our conservatory!


Like last week's post, my next good thing relates to how I'm making use of my time with the boys. They both love "sticking" projects and are really enthusiastic whenever I tell them we're getting the glitter and glue out. That focus, even though it may only last for half an hour, seems to have a big impact on their behaviour the rest of the day. They play much more nicely together and listen really well.

Inspired by the weather, we made stormy pictures. What do you think?


And another one that follows on from last week: Health-wise, I've noticed a real difference since I started trying to get my eating habits under control. I'm not as bloated by the end of the day and I feel a lot brighter.

I've realised that I make much better choices when I'm at home than when I'm at work (where I seem to eat chocolate and crisps at frequent intervals throughout the day) and my husband thinks it's down to boredom. I think it's more likely to be caused by disinterest rather than boredom, as I have plenty to do, just not the inclination to do it!

Anyway, my next steps have to be tackling that and I also need to start exercising, especially if I want to fit more easily into my jeans! The good thing is that I feel both things are really achievable so watch this space!

Okay, so those are my Three Good Things. What are yours? Why don't you join in and share them?

Review: Black City by Christina Henry

By Christina Henry


PUBLISHED: 6 June 2013

GENRE: Fiction / Urban Fantasy / Paranormal Romance

Former Agent of Death Madeline Black may have been stripped of her wings - but she hasn't lost her purpose ...

When Maddy finally killed her father, Azazel, she thought his depraved experiment died with him. But now Chicago has been infested with vampires immune to the effects of the sun, and the bloodbath is worse than she could have ever imagined. While the Agency refuses to interfere with other supernatural courts, Maddy is determined to do everything within her power to save her city - wings or no wings.

But when the leader of the vampires requests that she turn herself in or risk more deaths, Maddy becomes a target for the very people she's trying to save. Left with no other choice, she turns to Lucifer, the one creature who has the power to help her. But her grandfather's aid has always come at a price ...

MY THOUGHTS:                       ***CONTAINS SPOILERS***

Following on immediately from the events in Black Lament (review here), this is another action-packed, adrenaline-fueled installment in Henry's Black Wings series with a whole host of creatures for Maddy and her friends to contend with.

But even though there's a LOT of action (which did seem a bit obviously contrived), that's not really what this book is about. It's about Maddy coming into more of her powers, Nathaniel learning about his true heritage and his own powers, Maddy trying to do her best in difficult situations only, by the end of the book, to be abandoned by her friends and surrounded by the Agency's Retrievers.

Poor Maddy! The harder she tries to keep everyone safe, the greater the hold that darkness seems to have over her heart.  I really felt that even if she'd made different choices, Lucifer's net would still be closing in around her. The book created a real sense of inevitability about that.

But I can't help but compare the ending to "Becoming" the two-part finale of Season 2 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer:

Angelus: No weapons, no friends, no hope. Take all that away, and what's left?
Buffy: Me.

And because of that, I still have hope that Maddy can see this through and find a way to thwart Lucifer. I just hope the price of doing that isn't too great.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Dexter: Final Season: Episode 4: Scar Tissue



Oh my god! So many questions! 

Why is Vogel so determined to get involved in Dexter and Deb's relationship?

If Vogel had never become involved with Dexter, would he still have become a serial killer? It's like he's been conditioned and although she says serial killers don't have feelings, Dexter does (well he certainly has a lot more now than when the show first started!) so I have to question whether his whole life have been different?

And the big one:

Did Harry really commit suicide? Or was he killed so that he couldn't put a stop to Vogel's work with Dexter?

In the words of Debra Morgan, Fuck me in both ears! This season keeps getting better and better!

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along. Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share 2 (two) teaser sentences from somewhere on that page
  • Share the title and author so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can decide whether to add your book to their TBR list. 
My teaser is from Nameless : A Tale of Beauty and Madness by Lili St Crow:

The Kiss took its own time, and it was burning away his mortality. When it finished he'd be one of the immortal Unbreathing, an Elder instead of a daywalker, and his only son would take his place as the living Vultusino of the Seven.

Enjoy! I can't wait to bring you my full review of this book! I was so excited to receive it for review. Watch this space ...

Friday, 26 July 2013

Feature Friday: Happy Birthday Mum

Welcome to my second Feature Friday in which I have the pleasure of reblogging this post which originally appeared on A Quirky Kook last year. Jodie, who writes that blog, asked me if I felt it would fit in with the theme of my new series and after reading it, I jumped at the chance to include it.

When you become a mum, I think it's so easy to get a bit lost in the daily grind of life, in trying not to be "just a mum", and in trying to do the best possible job you can. What this post reminds me is that actually it's the simple things that I do with my children, in the moment and with sincerity, that they will build their memories on. And that knowledge helps me to relax and to just enjoy being with them.

Now over to Jodie ...

Being a mother is a thankless task and I know that because I have a mother and I've never really said thank you to her at all.

I've said thank you for the little things of course, for daily interactions and presents and the unexpected good things that mothers do for you when you least expect it. Of course I have because, well, she brought me up to. Obviously.

But what I haven't thanked her for is making me the person I am. And even though she might roll her eyes and wonder where she went wrong, I think she did a damn fine job to be honest. My mum gave and taught me many things, and not all of them were intentional.

26.12.1963 - Mum and Dad's wedding day
She gave me my love of music. When I was young the little black discs of Elvis Presley and Cliff Richard that she had collected as a teenager were little gems of happiness and to be allowed to play them on the Dansette record player was an honour and a treat. Dancing? She gave me an appreciation and joy for that too. And it wasn't taking me to Janice Reagan's ballet class for the under fours oh no, but the family parties where my mum and dad would do the jive. They used to clear the dance floor, but only because everyone wanted to watch.

It was my mum who gave me my appreciation of writing and my love of books. She taught me to read before I went to school and later had the foresight to work in a library thereby opened up a whole world where every single book I might ever want to read was obtainable and reachable and, shh, you never had to pay a fine.

And she gave me her suede mini-skirt. A genuine sixties patchwork suede mini-skirt that I wore when I was a student in the early eighties and for that, for reasons manifold and best not explained, I owe her and for my love of vintage fashion and *waits for Mother to roll her eyes again* mini-skirts.

She gave me my appreciation of the family that made me and the history we share. She taught me about loyalty and strength. She taught me, probably without noticing, everything there is to know about love. 

She even taught me that it doesn't matter how many times you've been seen swaying down the street singing after a dinner dance OR fallen over in improbable platforms in a Devon car-park after some Scrumpy OR worn a mini-skirt that is LITTLE MORE THAN A BELT, you can still claim the moral high-ground when your own children do similar. 

*Raises eyebrows at Mother*

Anyway, for ALL of that, I thank her. Deeply and very much.

Happy 70th birthday Mum x

Jodie Hawkins has been blogging at A Quirky Kook for the past two years. She's a work at home mum (freelance journalist and copywriter) and has four children, twin girls aged 17, an 11-year-old girl and a seven-year old boy. Jodie is married to a musician and they all live in chaos, as well as in Wakefield, West Yorkshire. Her specialist subject is drinking wine, and lots of it. She blogs about life, family and family life. Jodie can be found on Twitter @jodiekins22

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Review: Redemption by Erica Hayes

REDEMPTION (A Novel of the Seven Signs #2)
by Erica Hayes


PUBLISHED: 6 June 2013

GENRE: Fiction / Paranormal Romance

Japheth the Tainted is on the hunt for a mysterious demon vampire. But meeting her face-to-face might disarm his warrior spirit - and spark an unquenchable passion with apocalyptic consequences.

As a fallen angel, Japheth is determined to make his way back to heaven by staying pure and slaying hellspawn. With a new scourge of vampires, unleashed by a blood-drinking demon, the Prince of Thirst, there's plenty to be done. But Japeth is after one vampire in particular - the one they call the Angel Slayer.

Rose Harley never wanted to be a vampire, but the Prince of Thirst can turn even the kindest soul into a soldier of hell. Feeling abandoned by God, she stalks the West Village taking revenge on his angels - until she meets her match.

When Japheth and Rose encounter each other, the battle is fierce and charged with desire. But when they discover a common enemy - the Prince of Thirst himself - they form a dangerous alliance that could either cost them their eternal lives, or spark a love more powerful than heaven or hell.

My Thoughts:                    ***WARNING - CONTAINS SPOILERS***

You might remember me mentioning this book in my Teaser Tuesday post.  Well, it's the second in Erica Hayes' Seven Signs series and it follows on from the events in the first book, Revelation, which I reviewed here.  I was nervous starting it because I wasn't sold on the character of Japheth at all. The fact we learned in Revelation that he'd had a relationship with Michael - who's as full of sin as they come - made me think he had seriously flawed judgment and questionable morals. Well, how wrong was I??!!

I totally fell in love with Japheth and his quest for redemption. He is one seriously hot character and yes, I know he's fictional but I would be happy to redeem him over and over! Rose is another fabulous character, tormented by her own demons and conflicted between wanting to believe that she can be saved but knowing that in her hour of need, God didn't care. I loved the relationship between them, how it developed and the sizzle, my goodness!

I thought I'd guessed how the plot would play out but the author caught me out several times, which was nice. I thought we'd find out that Rose hadn't killed her 6 year old niece, Bridie, but that the Prince of Thirst had and he'd let her believe that she was responsible. I didn't anticipate that he would actually have turned her into a tiny child vampire.  I also couldn't believe it when Jadzia was killed! I was gutted, as I'd been so looking forwards to reading more about her. Fortunately, we find out she's been resurrected by her demon lover but then we're hit with the HUGE revelation of who he actually is! How did I not see that coming? How?

I'm still not a fan of the swearing and could really do without all the "hellshit" and "heavenshit" references but that's my only gripe. This series is shaping up nicely and I cannot wait to read the next book!

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Review: Nightbred by Lynn Viehl

NIGHTBRED (Lords of the Darkyn)

By Lynn Viehl

Publisher: Signet

Published: 7 March 2013

Genre: Fiction / Paranormal Romance

Jamys Durand has survived being made an immortal Darkyn, horrific torture, and years of grueling warrior training. But he has no future to offer Chris, the mortal woman he loves. When he learns of a lost Templar treasure, Jamys vows to possess it and win his lady's heart.

No one knows Chris Lang wants to be a tresora so she can live with Jamys, her secret love. Her superiors offer to make her dream come true, but only if she finds the lost treasure before Jamys can. Working together, Chris and Jamys track the jewels through a shadowy maze of priceless artifacts, decadent secrets, and a ruthless opponent who can possess and immortal's mind ... and will stop at nothing to have Chris.

My Thoughts:

This was a quick, straightforward and solid read. 

On the whole, I liked the characters - although I found it impossible to imagine being attracted to Jamys (he was turned at 17 and even though he's now hundreds of years old, he still looks like a 17 year old so the thought of doing rude things to him was just icky). Also, the author should have just called Lucan's tresora Alfred rather than Burke, as he seemed to have been styled on Bruce Wayne's butler and confidante.

Even though there were a few over the top elements - like the Pirate Captain, Dutch, and the lap dance at Stryker's private orgy party - they didn't detract from my overall enjoyment of the story. I just hope that the next Lords of the Darkyn book features a slightly older in body Darkyn!

Three Good Things : Week 2

Lovely Liz at Margot and Barbara is back with Week 2 of the Three Good Things feature that she introduced last week and because it's such a simple but feel-good idea, I'm joining in again.


I make no secret of the fact that I struggled having 2 children under 2 and it wasn't until around March this year that I started to feel like I was making it out of the fog of postnatal depression and was ready to stop taking the anti-depressants.

And if ever a day was proof of that then today it was because I have just had the best day at home with them both! It's been relaxing, creative, tantrum-free and we've all enjoyed each others company. I was even organised enough to plan a craft activity for this morning!

I printed out some free colouring pages of Alvin from Alvin and the Chipmunks, stuck them to some card and then the boys stuck lots of different shapes and sizes of pasta to them. Once the glue had dried, they painted them and for the first time, rather than painting every last inch of the paper, M deliberately tried to paint only Alvin's jumper. I was very impressed.


After writing about my health on Saturday, I made the decision to take control of my eating habits the very next day and I now have 4 days of exercising healthier eating choices under my belt! I've still got a lot to learn and more improvements to make but I'm feeling very empowered by my decision, which can only be a good thing. I've also discovered a newish blog called Being Pretty Strong which I'm finding a fantastic resource, as it's easy to understand and very personable. If you're interested in improving your health, you should pop over and take a look at it.


Right, I know you're probably going to shout at me for this but my third good thing was the weather cooling down a bit! I can function much better when there's a breeze to take the edge of the heat and I'm definitely sleeping much better than I was!

Okay, so those are my Three Good Things. What are yours? Why don't you join in and share them?

PS: if you want to read through all of last week's Three Good Things posts then you can find links to them all in Liz's post here.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Dexter : The Final Season


Hands up who's watching the final season of Dexter? I'm three episodes in (just caught up with What's Eating Dexter Morgan? last night) and am absolutely loving it! Debra Morgan is one of my all-time favourite characters and Jennifer Carpenter is consistently nailing the part. She's really making the show for me.

The big question though is how is this season going to play out? I have a few ideas of things I think are going to happen but really, it's anyone's guess and the uncertainty is very exciting. So, here's what I think:

  • In previous seasons, we've seen famous actors take on the role of key villain so I see us finding out that Sean Patrick Flanery as Deb's new boss is not the good ol' guy that he makes himself out to be. And while we're at it, lets stick a big question mark over Charlotte Rampling's Dr Evelyn Vogel.
  • Again, in previous seasons, Deb has consistently been drawn to men who, on the surface, appear to be good guys but actually turn out to be serial killers. Another reason to keep our eyes on Sean Patrick Flanery.
  •  Is it a coincidence that Deb's boss mixes up a rehydration drink for her before she goes to check out that storage container only to pass out and find out, when she's come to, that she's supposedly shot and killed El Sapo? And he mixes up another such drink for her right on the day she ends up stumbling into the Police Department, supposedly drunk, and confesses to killing LaGuerta. But what's his motivation?
  •  And Dr Vogel: does anyone else get the feeling that she still sees Dexter as some kind of "experiment"? She certainly seems very keen to "help" Deb but I'm not convinced it's out of the goodness of her heart.
  • I'm guessing that Quinn will eventually put it all together and figure out the truth about Dexter. But, is he going to end up doing something drastic to try and keep Deb safe? or is he going to be another casualty of the show?
  •  Are we going to see the show coming full circle with Dexter dead and Harrison witnessing it? It leaves wiggle room for a spin-off.
I can't wait until the next episode! What do you think is going to happen this season? and will Dexter survive it? Let me know your thoughts.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Improving my health : Making a start and a Summer Porridge recipe

Thank you everybody that commented on my post about rebalancing my hormones.

Since writing it, I've downloaded Master your Metabolism by American powerhouse and all-round fitness badass Jillian Michaels as well as Beat Candida by Erica White. I haven't finished both of them yet but already it's clear that, just as I suspected, my sugar intake is WAY too high.

Yesterday and today, I paid much closer attention to what I was eating and today, in particular, I noticed that although for me I was eating "better", it still wasn't great.

The good news, I discovered a quick, easy to make breakfast that I can take to work with me and only takes a few minutes to prepare the night before. I mixed porridge oats into greek yoghurt, added some frozen blueberries, and then left the whole concoction in the fridge overnight to give the oats lots of time to soften  - TA DAH! It's a great alternative to traditional porridge, which I can't imagine taking to work in this weather, and much more filling than yoghurt alone.

Not so much the "bad" news but the things I realised I need some inspiration about are:

1. What can I substitute white rice, pasta and bread with? Today, I took last night's leftovers for lunch (Chicken Fried Rice with onions, green peppers, peas and sweetcorns) but it didn't fill me up for long enough. I wonder whether I would have been better having cous cous instead of rice or maybe something in a pitta bread or wrap? or even whether I should add in an extra lunchtime course, perhaps soup?

2. Certainly at work the snack options are fairly limited and although I was much more prepared than usual and had chopped up an apple to dip into peanut butter (yum!), this wasn't enough for a whole day. Also, I think it would be best to try and cut out fruit sugars (at least initially) and take chopped veggies with hummus. But as an alternative, what about savoury muffins or homemade oat flapjacks?

What sorts of things do you have for lunch and to snack on? I'd love it if you would let me know in the comments.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Rebalancing my hormones - help needed

My body has spent the last 4.5 years either pregnant, giving birth, breastfeeding or trying to juggle my life and I'm convinced that it's left my hormones out of balance.

I know that one of the key ways to rebalance myself is through my diet but I'm a bit in denial because it feels like such a BIG THING to have to overhaul and I know it's going to be hard.

At the moment (and really for many years now) I am eating CRAP. High sugar, high fat and minimal fruit and vegetables.

Logic says that my body can't possibly nourish itself properly if I'm not eating nutrient rich food but, and I'm going to be completely honest here, I don't really understand food/the different food groups/and what I should be (not) eating for optimum health. Without that knowledge, my usual eating habits will just creep back in.

There are plenty of faddy diet books out there, but that's not what I'm looking for. I'm not saying I wouldn't be happy to lose a little weight, as I'm most definitely a lot squishier than I was, and my jeans are difficult to fasten, but I know that side of things can be tackled by a good dose of exercise once I've upped my energy levels and given my health a boost. No, what I need is something that will help me to understand the relationship between my body and food, what good nutrition is and what I should be aiming to eat.

Does anyone have any ideas or tips for me so that I can start making changes? So far I have:

  • Start taking a daily multivitamin
  • Replace coffee and fizzy drinks with water and green tea
  • Cut out sugar (how? and what to replace sugary foods/snacks with?)
  • Replace everything I eat with something better (!!)
As you can see, I definitely need a bit of help!

Friday, 19 July 2013

Feature Friday: Shine Brightly and Brilliantly to others

A little late in the day but I am so pleased to kick off my new series, Feature Friday, with this guestpost from a lovely lady, Sarah, that I have had the pleasure of getting to know via the power of twitter. I hope you enjoy this and it helps you to remember you should never underestimate the impact that you have on the lives of those around you.

Over to Sarah ...

Throughout my life I have had a few role models including my mum, friends, artists, authors, sportswomen and bosses. One in particular was an amazing woman, Beryl Markham, who was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic (east to west). She was raised in Africa and forged an incredible life for herself. Beryl wrote an autobiography about her life called West with the Night. It is a wonderful book and opened my eyes to the world.

Although Beryl is one of my role models, I am not writing about her. It is the person who introduced me to her, my friend, Liana. She lent me this book nearly 20 years ago and it remains on my bookshelf today. We went to high school and college together in Tasmania and then went off to different universities. Thankfully our friendship wasn't one of incessant need and although some years we hardly saw each other, we always picked up right from where we left off.

Liana was a very intelligent woman, who was becoming a very talented research scientist. After university we both lived in Melbourne and shared a house for a time. Her dedication to work was incredible and her achievements were great. However, she had such humility along with a wicked sense of humour. She was a true friend and was always there if she was needed, her loyalty to her friends never wavered. Liana also had a fantastic mother and they were very close. She caught the travel bug after they both toured Vietnam together.

As is the case with some brilliant minds, her thoughts were always busy and daily routines like dusting were never considered - well why should it? Life could offer so many possibilities and she sought them out.

Then Liana was tragically killed in a motorway accident at only 25 years of age.

I will never be able to explain what I went through for the first few months following this. Then one day I broke and after hours of feeling my heart being ripped apart, I realised she would be screaming at me cut it out and get up. To go out to explore life and the world, as she had started doing before she died. I had to carry on where she left off and not waste the opportunities that might be out there for me. Within a couple of months I had packed up and boarded a plane.

I have been backpacking through Asia, seen a bit of Europe and worked in England and Ireland. The biggest moment of my life was meeting my English husband, now affectionately known as The Possum. We may never have met if I had not listened to Liana ticking me off.

Liana is still my guide through life and my moral compass. I have been through some pretty tough times since then but I just remind myself of her. It took a long time to absorb and accept the fact she was no longer with me but when I did, I could finally make her part of me and use her as my inner strength.

Seeing the guidelines of this invitation for a guest blog made me really think about who I could write about. After a few false starts writing about others I realised that a role model doesn't need to be someone who has lived long and experienced everything in life - it is someone who has shone brightly and brilliantly to others, making us want to follow in their footsteps. I just hope that I have made her proud by doing just that.


Sarah is a Tasmanian who, having skipped across the globe and found love in Lancashire, is currently dragging her English husband back to the land of Oz. She's an Event Manager who loves traditional archery, photography and being in the great outdoors whenever possible. Her next ambition is to teach herself knitting and crochet design and to hopefully pass these skills onto the younger generation.

You can find out more about Sarah, and nag her into starting her own blog, by tweeting her ... frequently!

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Three Good Things

I've been struggling with what to write this week, as the hot weather has really wiped me out and all I want to do is moan, moan, moan, but let's face it - no-one wants to hear that!

Fortunately, I read this post by one of my most very favourite bloggers, Liz at Margot and Barbara. The first in a weekly series, Liz explains why she decided to introduce this feature and what she hopes to achieve from it:

Three Good Things is inspired by ongoing conversations I have with friends and from re-reading sections of The Happiness Project. It’s about focussing on what I do have in my life, instead of what I don’t have.

Each week, I shall choose three things to share. Things that have made me happy, made me smile, brought me a bit of joy or peace and made me grateful for the life that I have.

I can totally see how Three Good Things will help you to focus on the best bits of your week and that's something I need right now. Also, how cool is Liz's strawberries photo?!

Here are mine:


Somebody asked me what my favourite food is today. My answer? Pudding!

And this particular icecream was perfect to cool me down! So good in fact that I savoured it over 2 nights rather than scarffling it down in one go!

Now that is an achievement for me!


My new feature starts this week - tomorrow in fact! Remember when I called for guest posts? Well, I'm really excited about sharing the inspirational women you've been telling me about. I'm hoping it will be an uplifting celebration of womankind and a reminder that inspiration can come from anyone, anywhere.


After featuring Redemption by Erica Hayes in my Teaser Tuesday post, I was gobsmacked when Erica herself tweeted me to say thank you!

 This is why I love twitter! Totally put a smile on my face!

For more Three Good Things posts, why not pop along and read:

Espresso Coco

Hello Kirsty

Leeds & Me

Lady Lugosi

Spider's Filthy Assistant

And if you join in, don't forget to let Liz know in the comments section of her Three Good Things post.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along. Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share 2 (two) teaser sentences from somewhere on that page
  • Share the title and author so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can decide whether to add your book to their TBR list. 
My teaser is from Redemption (The Seven Signs #2) by Erica Hayes:

He reeled. The floor shuddered. The cracked window lit with forked blue static, and he struggled to deny it, hold it in like he had for centuries.

You will know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

He couldn't unsee what he'd seen. Couldn't unknow what he knew.
Page 186 - 187

Enjoy! And look out for my full review of Redemption, which is coming very soon!

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Guest Post : How I Met Cassie by Christine Amsden

Reading is one of my passions and I've been fortunate to have the opportunity, through my blog, to review books in my most favourite genre; paranormal. As a natural extension of that, I've decided to take the plunge and get a bit more involved in book-related "events" and thanks to Fiction Addiction Book Tours, here's my first one!

Welcome to the World of Cassie Scot; the ungifted daughter of powerful sorcerers, born between worlds but belonging to neither. At 21, all she wants is to find a place for herself, but earning a living as a private investigator in the shadow or her family's reputation isn't easy. When she is pulled into a paranormal investigation, and tempted by a powerful and handsome sorcerer, she will have to decide where she truly belongs. 

As well as being a sucker for the paranormal, I'm a massive fan of the immensely awesome tv series, Veronica Mars  (which basically means I have a bit of a soft spot for female PI's) so I'm very excited about the storyline of this book. It sounds like there are going to be lots of lessons learned about finding your place in the world, accompanied by a fair bit of tension!

Print Length: 260 Pages
Print ISBN: 978-1-60619-275-7
eBook ISBN: 978-1-60619-274-0
Publication Date: 15 May 2013

  How I Met Cassie

Cassie came to me, I didn’t go to her. 

I finished The Immortality Virus late in the fall of 2008, and though I took pride in my second novel, I felt worn out (creatively). When the new year came, bringing with it the opportunity for all kinds of writerly resolutions, I decided I needed to take the year off. I would read, blog, journal, but otherwise give my muse time to heal.

I didn’t make it a year. It turns out, I really am a writer. Writers write. We can’t not write. Taking the pressure off my muse did turn out to have been a great idea, but putting a time frame on it was a bit naive. 

Cassie came to me in mid-February, as I played on the floor with me (then) 9-month-old daughter. I won’t go so far as to say she popped into my head fully formed, but it was close. I sat bolt upright, my eyes probably doing that cartoon bulge, as a light bulb appeared over my head. 

What if… What if the hero of a fantasy story was the only one in it without magic? 

I wrote the first line of the story as soon as my daughter went down for a nap. It read: “My parents think the longer the name, the more powerful the sorcerer, so they named me Nicolas Merlin Apollonius Roger Scot. You can call me Nick.”

Okay, so it needed work. It didn’t take me long to realize I wanted a female heroine. Nicolas (who does not go by Nick and might set you on fire if you tried) became the oldest of Cassie’s siblings.

After that, Cassie told me new things about herself every day. I had a rough draft by the end of June.

About the Author:

Christine Amsden has been writing science fiction and fantasy for as long as she can remember. She loves to write and it is her dream that others will be inspired by this love and by her stories. Speculative fiction is fun, magical, and imaginative but great speculative fiction is about real people defining themselves through extraordinary situations. Christine writes primarly about people and it is in this way that she strives to make science fiction and fantasy meaningful for everyone.

At the age of 16, Christine was diagnosed with Stargardt's Disease, a condition that effects the retina and causes a loss of central vision. She is now legally bling, but has not let this slow her down or get in the way of her dreams. (You can learn more here).

In addition to writing, Christine teaches workshops on writing at Savvy Authors. She also does some freelance editing work. Christine currently lives in the Kansas City area with her husband, Austin, who has been her biggest fan and the key to her success. They have two beautiful children, Drake and Celeste.

Author Links:

Email: christine [dot] amsden [at] yahoo [dot] com

Cassie Scot by Christine Amsden is available right now at both The Book Depository and Amazon.

Monday, 8 July 2013

My little boy is poorly on his birthday :-(

My youngest is 2 today but he's really not himself.

I can't decide whether he's caught a stomach bug, or the sun and heat is too much for him (he prefers the shade like me so the last few days have been hard going for him), or his molars are trying to come through, but whatever it is, he's clingy and grumpy off and on through the day and unsettled and upset through the night.

Last night, he kept pointing to the calpol and ibuprofen bottles and I felt awful because I had to tell him he'd had all the medicine he could have at that point. Nothing seemed to help and even stroking his hair didn't soothe him.

Sigh. I wish he could tell me what was wrong! It's so hard having to guess.

What a rotten way to spend your birthday :-(

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Should you ever give up on your dreams?

My friend is very sad at the moment: stuck at a crossroads and really feeling the weight of her responsibilities. And I can totally relate to that.

It seems a strange coincidence that there was me, writing only a few days ago about trying to break free of my procrastinating habits, only to then learn my friend was going through something similar. And it got me thinking: is it really possible to find a balance between achieving your dreams whilst managing your responsibilities? Or are the two things mutually exclusive?

I realise I probably don't sound it but I am quite the optimist at heart and I would definitely describe myself as a dreamer (although I'm not quite as good at being a doer). So I don't want to believe that having a mortgage and a family precludes me from achieving things that are important to me. But more and more, I seem to be coming across this attitude that says "put aside your dreams when you have responsibilities, do what's necessary to meet those responsibilities and that's all you should expect and hope for; anything else is selfish and irresponsible". I know we're in a recession and times are hard but is this really a reason to give up on properly living this, the one life we all get?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating that we all quit our jobs and sit about until our dreams fall into our laps. But what I do think is that no matter what compromises we have to make so that we can meet our responsibilities, we should never give up on taking steps towards achieving our dreams; we just have to be a bit more creative about finding/making the time to do that. And if we don't then surely that means that particular dream was never really that important to us?

So, what do you think? Do you have dreams and goals you're working towards? How do you make them fit in with the rest of your life? Let me know in the comments, as I'd love to hear.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Review: Shifting Plains by Jean Johnson

By Jean Johnson


PUBLISHED: 14 February 2013

GENRE: Fiction / Paranormal Romance

Centuries before the time of the Sons of Destiny, a female shapeshifter became the leader of the people of the Shifting Plains ...

Tava Ell Var never really knew her mother, but she did know her tragic fate at the hands of a band of cruel shapeshifters - a history set down by Tava's father as a warning about life on the Shifting Plains. But after her father is murdered, Tava encounters a Shifterai warband fighting to rid the Plains of the terrorizing bandits.

Shifterai leader Kodan Sin Siin is sympathetic to Tava's suffering, but he's determined to bring the wary young woman to the Plains. Because he knows her secret; She, like he and his men, is a shapeshifter. Once she joins them, he knows that she will see for herself the true fate that awaits her on the Plains, and most of all, lose her fear of his people. And, in time, he knows she will find her place in their fight - and by his side.

My Thoughts:

Quite honestly, the first half of the book was such a long, hard slog that I was convinced it wasn't for me and I nearly gave up. Fortunately, with the arrival of Tava and Kodan and the rest of the warband at Family Tiger's camp, the story picked up a little and I started to warm to the characters a lot more.

I do think Jean Johnson has written a book which is very different to others in the Paranormal Romance genre. Usually, it goes like this: girl meets boy, they can't stand each other but are inexplicably attracted to each other, they have sex, there's a misunderstanding/are somehow torn apart, everything gets sorted out and they commit to a proper relationship with each other.

In the case of Shifting Plains, you need to think of it as a history book rather than fiction because what Jean is doing is building a picture of the Families, how they work and live, how they interact with each other, the rules that apply etc. This is much more about learning about the history of the Shifterai than it is about the relationship that develops between Tava and Kodan.

I did find some of the writing a bit awkward. The author includes passages in italics to represent a character's inner thoughts but the extra tidbits of information these provided quite often felt very forced, or repeated things we already know, and therefore didn't sound like how a character would normally think. For example:

In fact, I'd be surprised if this Kodan doesn't plan to use this Truth Stone to reveal that fact to the Alders. After all, the terms of the contract are " exchange for the deaths of the bandits responsible for slaying Varamon Vel Tith of Five Springs village ..." and the odds are, this Truth Stone could be my father's Stone, liberated from the bandit's loot. So they could just go away for a short while, pretending to hunt and kill the bandits, then come back.

Although it's not my usual choice of book, I'm glad I persevered and read it through until the end. Tava and Kodan really grew on me and I found their relationship quite charming. But I'm not sure that I'd jump to read anymore set in the same World.

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