Friday, 8 November 2013

Frivolous Friday: As the days darken and the night sets in . . .

Happy Friday everyone! 
I hope it's frivolous and filled with fun.

I have always said I would like to live in New York City for a year. Why a year? So I can see the changing seasons. While Thurlby in Lincolnshire where I now live is hardly NYC, I'm still having a enthralling time watching the changing seasons in this new world. 

Bryonia berries
I arrived in the UK on the 15 August, right in the middle of one of the best summers the English have had in years. September continued warm and balmy, sliding gently into Autumn in October. As Autumns go, I think I have been a little disappointed. I'm surrounded by deciduous trees and expected a burst of jewel-like colours as the leaves turned. Not so. Apart from the fantastic red berries found in abundance on almost every tree or bush (slight exaggeration, but you get my drift) the Autumn has been unimpressive. 

But what I am watching with fascination is the shortening of the days. Obviously I had been warned of the strange phenomenon of night closing in at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, but to actually experience it is quite something else. Each day, I watch in awe as the clock's hands hit three and the light begins to fade - a pale, washed out sort of twilight. By four-fifteen it's almost dark. By five o'clock the stars are out. That was a surprise the first time I saw it. It was also the first time I really saw the stars since arriving here. I was having an afternoon kip on Saturday and awoke to the darkening sky. I lay captivated, watching the stars appear one by one through my bedroom window. A glance at the clock told me it was five o'clock. 

Like in so many other parts of the world, as November deepens Christmas also appears in the stores and high streets. It is no different here. The photo below was taken in the Church of John Baptists, a cathedral-like building (mini cathedral, I admit) in Stamford, close to where I live. They were selling charity Christmas cards. I thought the setting was amazing. Hope you enjoy the photo.

Church of John Baptist Christmas card sales

Until next time!

P.S I'm almost as bad as the English, talking about the weather. It's an obsession here!

Book Blast! Siding with Plato by Michelle Manning

This is for all of us who love clean contemporary romances . . .

Siding with Plato: A Romantic Comedy Chick Lit About College Life, Love, and Chaos
Siding With Plato is a romantic laugh-out-loud chick lit novel about Being Young, Beautiful, and a Seriously Hot Mess! Brooke Aarons can’t get to college fast enough. Leaving behind her small town life, she intends to transform herself into a brilliant psychologist at the University of Texas, with no distractions to slow her down. But when a twist in her plans lands her on double date with the school’s star jock – and worse, enjoying it – Brooke has to wonder if she’s the one who needs her head examined. James Cartwright’s easy life, endless bucks, and long line of willing girls should make him a non-starter for Brooke, but as she learns, the psychology behind a bad crush is a whole lot messier of a subject.
amazon blog Barnes and Noble
Praise for the Book 

“This book hit home! Very funny and fast and fun read! I hope she makes this a series! LOVED IT!!!”

“I would recommend this book to anyone looking for an escape back into the best years of your life! A MUST READ.”
“Buy 2 copies of this relatable book – one for yourself and one for your best friend.”
“Siding With Plato is a must read for every girl who has gone away to college! It reminded me of my college years and the relationships between different boys, but most importantly the amazing friendships that were created. I could relate to all of the characters at one time or another. Siding With Plato is well written, funny, witty, and full of emotion. I definitely recommend reading this book!!”

michelle manning
Author Michelle Manning
Michelle Manning is a Southern California native who ventured over to Arizona State University in 2005, where she majored in journalism and met the friends who would later inspire her book series. After receiving her degree, she worked in the entertainment industry as an editor and red carpet reporter for a news outlet in Los Angeles until she moved to New York – shortly after releasing her debut novel, Siding With Plato!

Social Media Website Social Media Facebook Social Media Twitter Social Media Pinterest Social Media Goodreads Social Media Google +
Like all of Kathy's bookblasts, there is a Rafflecopter giveaway 

Good luck!

$100 BookBlast Giveaway 

$100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 11/26/13 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. 



Wednesday, 6 November 2013

The problem with moving countries . . .

For those of you wondering why my blog has gone so quiet for so long, the reason is simple. Since moving to the UK in August I am still without internet in my home. That means I'm using the public library, or the local coffee shop to get online while I wait for a service provider to actually provide the internet service promised. Very frustrating. I wish I could tell you when the problem will be solved, but sadly, the friendly staff at the company's call centre (the only people we can speak to) are unhelpful about such vital data. Crazy, but we had better internet service in South Africa - and that's Africa, folks.

So watch this space. Hopefully I will be able to spring back into the cyberworld sometime soon . . . 


Friday, 18 October 2013

Frivolous Friday: October is Birthday Month

Welcome to the weekend! I still have no internet (the less said about England's internet and cell phone service delivery the better), but I couldn't resist a quick Frivolous Friday post. 

This month we celebrate two birthdays. My daughter Kate turns sixteen. And my brother Tom hits an age too high to mention without having to wash my mouth out with soap and water. This means the birthday dinner is at our house. I always do a roast with spuds and all the trimming for birthdays. It's become an institution. Hopefully it tastes better, though.

All Kate wanted for her sixteenth was a cat. So, today we went to a real English farm, complete with a dozen farm cats and kittens. The owners filled a bowl with milk and we were swamped with felines. In the end I'm not sure who picked who . . .  Spot Lexie (the kitten's current name) hiding in Kate's hoodie! She climbed in there herself and didn't move until she got home. 

Kate and little Lexie

Being the kind sister she is, Erin made Kate a hippie truck birthday cake. Looks really cool. Tomorrow we are heading down to the Norfolk Broads to have some family fun. Pictures to follow.

Until next time, have a great weekend everyone. Chat soon - hopefully, if I ever get on line!!


Monday, 14 October 2013

Lord Trowbridge's Angel by G.G. Vandergriff

Like so many of us, I'm a sucker for a good regency romance. So when I saw this book offered on a blog tour, I couldn't resist. But let me get all the technical details about Lord Trowbridge's Angel (Goodreadsout the way before tackling the review. 

Lord Trowbridge’s Angel
The very handsome and very bored Lord Trowbridge knows something is missing in his existence. When he is asked by a friend to escort the seemingly quiet Miss Sophie Edwards to her first ball, he has no idea she possesses the key that will unlock him. It is her secret weapon. Once he sees his own inner workings, his life unfolds in a different manner. He will do anything to capture the love of his “angel.” Unfortunately, his old life and the shibboleths of the ton stand in his way. As he wades through these afflictions, Sophie is courted by another man. Who will she choose? How can he possibly show his love for her in a way as original and unique as she is? What are Sophie’s feelings for him?

Okay . . . so what did I think? 

The book is definitely fun. A wonderful romp through the ton, following some interesting characters. I especially liked the heroine, Sophie. She has plenty of spunk, coupled with a fair dollop of naivety. Due to a disability that renders her unable to dance - and makes her the contempt of the ton - she is quite retiring. Her life has been spent in the country, mastering the violin. She's a pro. Now in London for her first season, she little expects to go home with a husband - and certainly not a hunk like Lord Trowbridge. Or one with as many skeletons in the cupboard as Lord Trowbridge has, either. Wading through the effects of his previously debauched life, she has a tough time securing her happy ever-after. 

For all that Lord Trowbridge is a London sophisticate, he's a bit of a dunce when it came to negotiating his way through the shark-infested waters of the ton. It made for some laughs - and a bit of eye rolling. But in the end the man got his girl.

This book is definitely worth a read if you like clean romances with a regency feel. 

Number of stars? 
Three happy ones.

There is a giveaway for this blogtour, so feel free to enter the Rafelcopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Meet the Author

Author G.G. Vandagriff

I realize that I am one of those rare people in the world who gets to live a life full of passion, romance, suspense, angst, fulfillment, humor, and mystery. I am a writer. Every day when I sit down at my computer, I enter into a world of my own making. I am in the head of a panoply of characters ranging from a nineteen-year-old Austrian debutante (The Last Waltz) to a raging psychopath (The Arthurian Omen) and four women at once in The Only Way to Paradise. Then there are the feisty heroines of my Regency romances . . .
I am a traditionally published,award-winning, best-selling writer who has recently gone Indie. I enjoy genre-hopping, having published a genealogical mystery series, two women’s fiction novels, an historical epic, two suspense novels, five Regency romances, and a couple of non-fiction offerings.
With a BA from Stanford and an MA from George Washington University in International Relations, I somehow stumbled into finance. But, once my husband was through law school, I never wanted to do anything but write and raise kids. Now the kids are gone, but (even better) there are four grandchildren who provide my rewards for finishing a manuscript.

Aside from the grandchildren, my favorite things include: Florence, Italy; snow storms; Oreos; real hot chocolate; sweaters; Sundance Resort; lilacs; and dachshunds.


PS. I can only apologize for my lack of activity on my blog of late, but my internet problems persists. Blogging without the internet is an extraordinary challenge no mere mortal should have to contend with . . .

Monday, 30 September 2013

The Iron Traitor by Julie Kagawa

The Iron Traitor (Goodreads)

Okay, let's the get the important stuff out the way . . .  this cover: it's GORGEOUS. Yes, in capitals. I would read this book just for the cover. And the title. Who would not want to find out who the traitor is: Ethan or Kerrian? Well, I'm not telling you. You have to read it to find out.

So after than fan rave, what did I think of this book? 
Better or worse than the The Lost Prince? 

Answer? Yes, it is, but then I only gave The Lost Prince three stars (you can see my review here) so that's not really difficult.

What makes The Iron Traitor better? 

It's hard to say. There were some things that really bugged me about it. Not to give away spoilers, but in places it felt as if Kagawa was running a bit short on imagination - a dramatic admission because she is The Imagination Queen - but I saw bits of other books and even a big steal from the movie Monsters Inc in it. 

Also, I was afraid after reading book one that the plot wasn't complex enough to fill a whole series, and I feel I was proved right. In this book Kagawa has fallen back on some well-known tropes to carry her story, for example: a prophecy now looms large. 

Those points definitely detracted from my enjoyment, but there was a lot that made up for it and most of that goes back to Ethan and Keirran.

Ethan and Keirran! 

Now there are two interesting male protagonists. I really enjoy being in Ethan's head and Keirran is a fascinatingly complex character. All the traits Ethan displayed in book one - loyalty, courage, determination - go into overdrive in this book. In a word, he's great. My only complaint is that he does a lot of fighting (yah, I love that) and gets multiple injuries in each fight, but still he keeps moving with nary a flinch.  I found that a bit implausible, enough so for me to start shaking my head after awhile. Still, Ethan is definitely one of my favourite male protags and I will happily read more books with him in it. 

Now for Keirran . . . wow. Julie Kagawa has a wild card here. At times I wanted to hug him and other times I could have kicked his butt all the way to Ash and demanded that Ash freeze his feet to the ground. (As an aside: I rather suspect that Ash feels the same way too. That said, Ethan also got up Meghan's and Ash's noses in this book. In fact he managed to annoy a lot of people. That's what makes him so much fun to be with)

The other characters? 

Kenzie and Annwyl strutted their stuff, but they are definitely not show stealers. I like Kenzie - a lot - but Annwyl really bugs me. I think she's weak and she allows Keirran to do some really crazy things for her without too much care for the consequences. But then, if she wasn't weak we wouldn't have a story. Razor the gremlin is back in force here, and I loved every page he was on.

The Ending - Urgh, No!!!

No review of this book would be complete without a comment on the ending. It sucks. There, I said it. It's a cliffhanger of note and, what can I say, it sucks! All I could do was roll my eyes and demand that Harlequin tell me how long they intend making me to wait to find out what happened. Obviously, no such answer was forthcoming. Oh well, this is me waiting at the edge of my seat . . .

Finally, the all-important question . . .
How many stars?

Humph . . . tough one. Definitely more than three but not quite four. So I guess that makes it's a three and a half. Still, I did enjoy it a lot and would recommend it to readers who love fey and intersting characters. Just a quick thank you to Harlequin for providing the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Until next time
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Friday, 27 September 2013

Frivolous Friday - Everything from chewing gum to giant leeks!

Happy Friday all! 

It's been a hectic week so I'm pretty glad the weekend is upon us. Part of what I've been doing has been checking out the local shops, trying to get my head around the concept of high street shopping.

Back in South Africa, shopping tends to be divided along wealth lines. Those with cash tend to shop in plush indoor malls where the stores are very specialized. There, you are highly unlikely to find garden tools and hardware in the kitchen shop, like I've seen at a gorgeous store in Bourne, my closest town here in England.

And as for the high streets in most South African towns . . . well, they have largely been given over to open air street vendors, (know locally as spaza shops) catering to the poorer folk where you can buy anything from chewing gum to airtime to deodorant. So it has been quite an adjustment getting used to shopping here in England.

But one of the things that really struck me this week as I trawled the stores were the snippets of conversations I overhead. It seems harvest festivals are uppermost in people's mind. I guess that makes sense with it being Autumn and all. So, getting into the spirit of things, I decided to share some pics I took a few years ago when I came to England on holiday and visited a small town harvest festival with my brother Tom (long before living here had even hit the radar screen).

Some of the veggies had to be seen to be believed, like this giant leek, held by Tom, or the onions, almost as big as his hand . . .

How they get them that size is anybody's guess, although I'm told the recipes are highly guarded, almost subject to the special secrets act. I think it highly unlikely I'll ever need the info, but who knows? Stranger things have happened. You might just find me of an afternoon, digging over my allotment, tending giant cabbages . . .

It's never going to happen!

Have a great weekend everyone.


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Tuesday, 24 September 2013

The Lost Price by Julie Kagawa

The Lost Prince (Goodreads)

I have now read two series about the Chase siblings: The Iron Fey (reviews here and here ) and The Lost Prince, first book in The Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten series, and I have to confess that I liked Ethan way more than his whiney sister Meghan. Ethan is tough, loyal, self-deprecating and tortured. And he can fight like a demon with swords, sticks or fists. So what's not to like? I also enjoyed Kenzie, his friend, soon to be girlfriend. She's persistent, brave and equally as loyal. She's a great addition to the book.
So much for the two MCs, now what about the plot?

This is where my criticisms come in. For me, The Lost Prince felt a little 'been there, done that'. 

In The Iron Fey, Ethan is kidnapped by fey and taken to the Nevernever, prompting his sister Meghan and her friend Robbie (Puck) to rush off and rescue him. In The Lost Prince, Ethan's sort-of-friend Todd, a half half faerie, half human, is kidnapped, and guess what? Ethan and Kenzie rush to the Nevernever to rescue him. Okay, I admit they were driven there by the bad guys, but still, it all felt very familiar. And then once in the Nevernever, like Mehgan before him, Ethan discovers he's a prince of the fey. Or in Meghan's case, she discovers she's a queen, but you get my drift.

Also, I found that the secondary characters in The Lost Prince lacked the sparkle of The Iron Fey crew. It's hard to beat Puck and Ash for charm, wit and banter and Kierran, Annwyl and Todd - the Lost Prince bunch - just didn't have the same 'magic'. Grimalkin the talking cat also makes an appearance in this book, but I didn't enjoy him nearly as much as I did in The Iron Fey series (He was one of my favourite characters) This time round, he just seemed annoying. Sorry Grimalkin. Thankfully Razor the gremlin came to the rescue. He's a great little guy whom I have a very special spot for. I hope he stays around throughout the series. A character I did enjoy meeting again was Leanansidhe, the Exiled Queen. Every page she appeared on instantly came alive. Julie Kagawa has done an excellent job with her creation.

Now for the bad guys  . . . The Forgotten

I remember some mention of the fey who fade away in the first series, so I wasn't surprised when they turned up here, trying to regain their glamour by sucking the other fey dry. Although I figured out very early in the story who the bad guys were, it makes for an interesting plot line. I just don't know if it measures up to the pure originality of the first series. I'm not convinced this story has the legs to really go the distance they way The Iron Fey plot did. 

All this sounds as if I didn't enjoy The Lost Prince

No, not true. I did enjoy it and I'm now thoroughly invested in Ethan and Kenzie. I definitely want to see what happens with them, so I will be reading book two: The Iron Traitor. 

So how many stars?

I give this one three and a half stars, all attributed to Ethan, Kenzie, Razor and Leanansidhe. Would I recommend it? Yes, especially to those who already love The Iron Fey series. 

Until next time, cheers

PS: For those who like these details, I bought a copy of the book at my local bookstore.

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Sunday, 22 September 2013

The Transfer - A Divergent Story by Veronica Roth

The Transfer (Goodreads)

Oh boy, prepare yourself for a fan rave. . .

I saw this Ebook short story on a blog this week and HAD to have it because it's about one of my favourite book boyfriends of all time - Four AKA Tobias Eaton from the Divergent series.(Goodreads) A quick download from Amazon and it was mine.

The story opens prior to the Choosing Ceremony and it takes us up to Tobias's first night in his new faction, Dauntless. I'm thrilled to say it was amazing. I gulped it down, barely coming up for breath. It gives such good insight into his terrible home life with his Abnegation father - the motivation for his switch - and into his psyche. We also learn how he got his nickname - Four. After reading this, I love him even more now, if that's possible.

But the best news is that this is the first in a series of five short stories written from Four's perspective due to come out over the next year. I can't wait to read them. 

So how many stars for this little quicky? A full five five gleaming ones. If you love Divergent then you have to read this. 


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Friday, 20 September 2013

Frivolous Friday: Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks

Happy weekend all!

I am feeling particularly frivolous today because my dogs have finally arrived in England after a month-long separation. What a welcome we got yesterday at the Heathrow Animal Reception Centre! Bella, my Toy Pom, was a trembling ball of fluff, but it wasn't joy that had her shivering. The poor things was terrified. She dived into my arms and it took a few minutes before I got a few kisses on the nose out of her. On the drive home, she lay in my arms, refusing to move. Thankfully, a good night sleep seems to have cured her. That said, she won't let me out of her sight for a second. Holley, my lab, couldn't have been more different. She was bouncing with joy and couldn't love us enough. Once in teh car, she promptly feel asleep until we got home. 

What a delight having them back. It has gone a long way to helping me settle. 

Now they're home and the challenges of a new life starts. Having lived in bungalow-style houses all their lives, neither of them know how to climb stairs. Oh dear, the stress when I vanish onto the top floor. Bella at least can be carried, but Holley . . .  all forty kilos of her? Not likely. So, any pointers on teaching old dogs new tricks?

Have a wondrous weekend.

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Thursday, 19 September 2013

Blog Tour: My Own Mr Darcy by Karey White

My Own Mr Darcy (Goodreads)

Being a committed Jane Austen fan, I couldn't resist this when I saw it offered as part of a blog tour. The gorgeous cover alone was enough to draw me in and the premise was fun. . .

At sixteen, Elizabeth was dragged to see the Pride & Prejudice movie by her mother. The moment Matthew Macfadyen, who played Mr Darcy, appeared on the screen, she was smitten. By the time the movie ended she'd made a vow that no man would ever be good enough for her unless he was identical to Mr Darcy. Her dream guy even had to look like Matthew Macfadyen!

Years, and many unsuccessful dates later, her best friend forces her to agree to give the last guy she went out with ten dates. Enter Chad. He's the charming, sweet guy of the story. Sadly for Chad, shortly after starting her dating challenge with him, she meets her Matthew Macfadyen lookalike. Pity he's an absolute creep with whom she has nothing in common . . . It takes much of the book for Elizabeth to realize this, but in the end we get our happy ever after.

So much for the plot, did I enjoy it?

Yes, I did. It was fun, light-hearted and squeaky clean (a refreshing change from so many other contemporary romances I've read lately)

The characters - while not exactly deep - were nicely penned. 

I especially liked Chad - but then, I was clearly meant to. Karey White made very sure that her reader knew exactly who the 'good' and 'bad' guys were in her story. This is perhaps my deepest criticism. It all felt a little too black and white for me. Her treatment of Matt left us in doubt that he was the 'bad' guy. The trouble was that his flaws reflected badly on Elizabeth's character. Her obsession with her Mr Darcy-ideal-lived-through-Matt made her appear really stupid at times. I found myself shaking my head, wondering how she could bear to be with a guy who treated her so badly when she could have been with an infinitely nicer - and far more suitable - guy like Chad. But I guess that is what obsession is all about - it robs the victim of reason.

Because of Elizabeth's obsession, the plot allowed for some good character development. Happily Elizabeth finally comes to her senses and sees Matt and Chad for what they really are. Although I was delighted that she ended up with the right guy, I think Chad forgave her a little too easily. Also, I felt the ending was wrapped up too quickly. The book would have benefited from an epilogue.

For all my criticisms, would I recommend it? 

Definitely, especially if you love a contemporary romance and Jane Austen. One of the strengths of the book was that it wasn't just a retelling. It was a fresh story built on the bones of Pride and Prejudice. I really liked that.

Number of stars?
I give it three enjoyable stars.

PS. I received a free copy of this book as part of the blog tour.

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Wednesday, 18 September 2013

WWW 18 September

Welcome to Wednesday where we play along with MizB Should Be Reading with her WWW meme. But before I talk about my weekly reading, let me invite you to check out my review of The Narrowing Path here. I'm doing an author's interview with David Normoyle today and he is giving away a couple of ebooks to two lucky winners. All you have to do is comment on the review or the interview to win. I will then do a random selection and a couple of you will receive a really great fantasy in your email.

Now, down to the business of the day. My reading week was devoted to the Ethan and Keirran from The Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten series.

The Lost Prince (Goodreads)

The Iron Traitor (Goodreads)

I enjoyed them both and my reviews will be up next week.

What else am I reading?

Writing Fight Scenes (Goodreads)
I'm still busy with this and am really enjoying it.

What will I read next?

To be honest, I just don't know. I have about 50 books sitting on my Kindle and bookshelf waiting their turn. But instead, let me ask: what do you think I should read?

Look forward to your comments. As usual, leave a link, and I will return the visit.

PS. Don't forget my Giveaway.

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Giveaway and Interview with David J Normoyle, author of The Narrowing Path

I'm thrilled to have David J Normoyle on my blog talking about his enthralling dystopian fantasy The Narrowing Path (my review here).  I really enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone who loves an imaginative adventure set in a truly cruel dystopian world.

Happily, David is giving away a couple of Ebook copies of The Narrowing Path. All you have to do to win is to write a comment on either this interview or the review post and I will randomly pick a winner on Sunday 29 September. Good luck.

Now to David . . .

Hello David and welcome to my corner of the blogosphere. Firstly, can you tell me where the inspiration for The Narrowing Path come from?

I'd recently read a few dystopians such as Hunger Games where there's a fight to the death between teenagers. Mostly, the reasoning behind making the teens fight is flimsy. In the movie Battle Royale for instance, it's barely explained at all. So I wanted to create a society where this fight to the death had a more firm reasoning behind it. In The Narrowing Path, the fight is seen in society as an evolutionary struggle which ensures that the best survive.

Also instead of just physical fighting, I wanted the struggle to rely more on wits and intelligence and leadership. Like in Game of Thrones where those who are the cleverest generally end up on top. In this novel, the teenagers are launched into the real world with nothing but their wits and strength. They have to make their own way, and those who impress the leaders of society along the way (while also managing to avoid getting killed by rivals) are the ones who win and get to live. So I started working on those two ideas and The Narrowing Path is the result.

Well, I think you achieved that very well. When will the rest of the series be available?

The Treacherous Path should be out around February next year with the final book in the trilogy, The Collapsing Path, due out toward the end of next year.

Now for the horrible question . . . Tell me in 140 characters why someone should read your book.

Delve into a world of scheming and fighting--the only ones more bloodthirsty than the youths who walk the path is the adults who guide them

Great answer! Please share something about yourself – a potted biography.

As a child, I loved the world of books, and that combined with a severe daydreaming condition were worrying signs to my parents. But their fears were allayed when I grew up to become a respectable sort, an engineer. All went well until my early thirties when I was struck down by that most nefarious of insects, the writing bug. I spewed up vomitous words for a while but seemed to make a full recovery and returned to normal life. But under the surface all was not right, and I secretly studied the art and craft of writing. And now, to the despair of my parents and society in general, I follows the solitary and quite mad pursuit of being a writer.

The world can always do with more writers. So, where do you write and how do you keep inspiration flowing?

I write at the desk in my bedroom. I get my inspiration by turning off the internet. Perspiration is the important quality, the key is to keep working even--or especially--when the words aren't flowing.

Strange, but before my move to the UK, I also had a small office in my bedroom. It was great, so I understand the appeal. Tell us about your favourite music.

I'm not into music as much as most people but I like old school rock the best: U2, Rolling Stones, Bruce Springstein, that kind of thing.

I also still enjoy the old rock - showing my age - but happily I also moved on to embrace and love indie and modern rock. So what's your favourite food?

I like most types so it's more about the quality than the type for me. If I had to chose one, it'd be Indian.

Hot and spicy . . .  I get that. What was the best book you’ve read in 2013?

I've read a lot of great books in 2013, including Redshirts, Ready Player One, Gone Girl and The Passage. However I'm going to revert to my favourite genre and pick an epic fantasy I read recently. Blood Song by Anthony Ryan. If the sequels are as good, this will be the start of a fantasy series up there with the very best.

Hmm . . . there are some titles in that list that I don't know. I will have to check them out. Finally, where can fans find you?

Thank you so much for visiting with me today David (an all my readers!) I look forward to the next book in The Narrowing Path series.

And: Don't forget the giveaway, guys. Just leave a comment and you could win a eEbook of The Narrowing Path.

Until next time

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Monday, 16 September 2013

The Narrowing Path by David J Normoyle

The Narrowing Path (Goodreads)

I found this gem of a book on Netgalley and was struck by the cover: definitely intriguing. The blurb clinched the deal, luring me in . . .

Only the strongest, smartest and most ruthless will survive.
Every six years, the world draws nearer to the sun. In Arcandis, those who want to live must claim the limited places in the Refuge, a series of underground caverns cooled by the sea.

The teenage boys of noble birth are sent out into the city to demonstrate their wits and strength. Some prove themselves in combat, others display their empire building skills, still others attempt to kill off their rivals. Out of over a hundred, only six will be selected by the leaders of the great families and allowed a place in the Refuge. The rest will perish, one way or another.

Not only is thirteen-year-old Bowe younger and weaker than most of the other boys, he has no family to support him. He is expected to die on the very first day of the narrowing path. Instead he begins a journey no one could have anticipated.

Unable to resist The Hunger Games feel of it, I immediately requested it and am delighted to say that it delivered on all its promises. I started reading in the evening and found myself still awake at three in the morning when I turned the last page on my Kindle. I was so impressed that I filed it into it's own category under the author's name. I only ever do that if I intend reading more of an author's work. The rest of the books get shoved into a genre category.

Okay . . . so what made it so good?

The book is definitely dystopian (thoroughly brutal in fact) but it has a high fantasy setting! Anyone familiar with my blog will know that fantasy and sci-fi are my first loves. That said, one of my reading delights this year has been the discovery of some great cross-over books that mash different genres together - like this one - making for a fascinating read. As far as I can see, it's mainly indie-authors who are daring to write like this, and David J Normoyle has done it very well in The Narrowing Path.

The plot kicks off without too much backstory or preamble and we are in the world of Arcandis, following the fortunes - and misfortunes - of Bowe Bellanger, our young hero. I was instantly sucked in even though the first few pages bombarded me with names and titles and quite complicated aspects of Arcandis life. I admit, it could be an overwhelming beginning, but I was so intrigued by the action that I barreled through it and was hooked. 

Bowe Bellanger is a delightfully flawed hero with a giant-sized heart. He captured my sympathy instantly and although sometimes he made some really stupid decisions as he battled to stay alive on the 'path', I was rooting for him all the way through. Be warned though, this book is not for the faint-hearted: deaths - gruesome ones - occur every few pages. In that aspect it makes The Hunger Games look like a church picnic. 

Bowe also has some strange ideas about girls. But given his background and age, I found it quite acceptable. He is the perfect gentleman to the high class damsel in distress, but cannot cope with the tough, kick-butte peasant girl (whom he secretly fancies) who helped save his life a few times. I suspect this is going to be an area explored by Normoyle in subsequent books and I imagine young Bowe is going to learn some short, sharp lessons about dealing with women. I can't wait to read about them.

From that, you can guess that I will be reading the next two books in the series: The Treacherous Path and The Collapsing Path. You can bet on it.

So how many stars for The Narrowing Path? A solid four star read!

I will be doing an interview with David Normoyle on Wednesday when I will be giving away a couple of his books. It will be well worth stopping by for a chance to win.


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Sunday, 15 September 2013

My Own Mr. Darcy Giveaway!

I'm taking part in the My Own Mr. Darcy blog tour which is happening now. My review will go up on the 19th, but in the meantime here's a chance to meet the author and to enter a giveaway for $25 in Amazon vouchers or PayPal cash. Not to dusty. So here goes . . .

mr darcy
My Own Mr. Darcy
After being dragged to the 2005 movie Pride and Prejudice by her mother, sixteen-year-old Elizabeth’s life changes when Matthew Macfadyen’s Mr. Darcy appears on the screen. Lizzie falls hard and makes a promise to herself that she will settle for nothing less than her own Mr. Darcy. This ill-advised pledge threatens to ruin any chance of finding true love. During the six intervening years, she has refused to give any interested suitors a chance. They weren’t Mr. Darcy enough.
Coerced by her roommate, Elizabeth agrees to give the next interested guy ten dates before she dumps him. That guy is Chad, a kind and thoughtful science teacher and swim coach. While she’s dating Chad, her dream comes true in the form of a wealthy bookstore owner named Matt Dawson, who looks and acts like her Mr. Darcy. Of course she has to follow her dream. But as Elizabeth simultaneously dates a regular guy and the dazzling Mr. Dawson, she’s forced to re-evaluate what it was she loved about Mr. Darcy in the first place.
Author Karey White
Karey White grew up in Utah, Idaho, Oregon, and Missouri. She attended Ricks College and Brigham Young University. Her first novel, Gifted, was a Whitney Award Finalist.
She loves to travel, read, bake treats, and spend time with family and friends. She and her husband are the parents of four great children. She teaches summer creative writing courses to young people and is currently working on her next book.

Good luck!

Friday, 13 September 2013

Frivolous Friday - Home At Last

Happy Friday everyone! 

At last, after a long – unscheduled absence - Frivolous Friday is back. That means life in the White house is getting back to normal. Sort of.

With the boxes unpacked, the curtains hung, and my books safe in their allotted places, my office is now officially ready for work on Monday. 

My little room is not quite the same as my special space back in South Africa. For one, I don’t overlook my old rose garden. Instead, here I have a brilliant view of the sky, sometimes pewter-grey, but also sometimes bright with patches of sun. It reminds me of Cape Town from about May through to the end of November! Home from home . . .

So, it is with great excitement that I pick up the threads of my current book. I hope the characters still remember me because it's been almost a month since I last typed a word. Now the pressure is on to finish the first draft by the end of the year.

And my blog? Hopefully next week will bring a telephone line and some broadband so my blog won’t be so neglected . . .

In the meantime, chill and enjoy the weekend. Andrew and I are installing shelves into our wardrobe. Fun.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Trouble At Mill . . . Or the challenges of moving countries

So, it doesn't take too many powers of observation to notice that my blog activity ground to a sudden halt last week. I say this, but let me hasten to add that I only noticed how slack I'd been when I went in to do my usual WWW post. After all, it is Wednesday. And then I saw it . . . Sigh, I haven't posted for a whole week. It's enough to make me cry. But in my defense, let me say that moving countries is largely to blame.

Things - finding somewhere to live, opening bank accounts, getting the internet connected, to mention just a few biggies - just takes so long to happen. And, worse, because we're new here in England, we have no track record, no credit rating, no footprint on society, so basically we don't exist. Humbling, let me tell you. Infuriating too, because without that vital footprint telling the world that we pay our bills on time and that we haven't held up and robbed any banks lately, no one wants to know our troubles.

It took almost a month for someone to agree to rent us a house . . . and then we had to pay them five months rental up front on a six months lease. Now we battle to get the services running . . .

The first bank who agreed to talk to us would only open a basic account that allows us to draw money from a cash machine. I was told that we aren't welcome in the branch! That ivory tower is reserved for the privileged elite who hold proper credit ratings. The bank in question wouldn't even provide a debit card. And, as we found to our huge frustration, nothing in England happens without either a debit or credit card. You cannot get a mobile phone contract, you cannot get the lights switched on, you cannot get a telephone line or an internet connection . . .  the list goes on.

Thankfully, we have found another bank who sees things slightly differently. The debit cards are now in the post. Another weirdity. We're used to walking into a bank, opening an account and getting the card immediately over the counter . . . just one more thing to get used to.

We are also used to blanket cellphone coverage across southern Africa, but, clearly, mobile phone coverage is not a big deal in England because most of the time there isn't any. Yet another frustration when you don't have a debit card and therefore cannot get a landline . . .

That brings me to the point of this post. It was a long-winded whinge to say that I still don't have internet and without it you can't blog. So a big apology to my readers. Hopefully, the problem will be solved in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, I will keep reading . . .

Which brings me to . . .

Thanks to MizB fot hosting. As usual she asks three questions:
1. what have you recently finished reading?
2. What are you currently reading?
3. What are you reading next?

What have I just finished?

I am ashamed to say that I only managed one tiny book this week . . . 

The Tales of Beedle The Bard (Goodreads)
I got this from my local library. (No, you don't need a debit card to get library membership :-) and let me say, it's fantastic having a library with modern books. That alone goes a long way in counteracting some of my other England gripes.
Did I enjoy Beedle's tales? Very much. The book is replete with JK Rowling's wonderful, dry humour.

What am I reading now?
Two books actually . . .

The Lost Prince (Goodreads)
I'm really enjoying this. The MC, Ethan Chase, has snuck into my heart with his vulnerability, caustic comments and bitter hatred of all things fey. 

Writing Fight Scenes (Goodreads)
The author in me is reading this and she reports that the book is brilliant. Any other writers out there who want to brush up on writing fiction fights? Then this is for you.

What am I reading next?

The Iron Traitor (Goodreads)
I downloaded this from Netgalley and am excited to get into it.

That takes care of this week. Hopefully next week will be better. In the meantime, leave a comment or a link I will get back to you.

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