Charlotte’s Take: The Calabiyau Chronicles by Diana S. Zimmerman

Hello, Readers!

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Today, I am sharing a book series review, as relayed to me by Charlotte, my 10 year old daughter.  The Calabiyau Chronicles is a series of books which opened the excitement of reading to my daughter.  When she was in the 4th grade, during her birthday month, she was invited to select a free book from a huge collection of brand new books that had been delivered to a classroom.  The way she described it, the selection of books was so enormous!

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My daughter searched through the piles of books, and emerged with her choice, KANDIDE AND THE SECRET OF THE MISTS.  The cover and the title are what attracted Charlotte to the book.  From my perspective, the book was glorious.  A fantastic cover, intricate artwork within, and written at a level which I was thrilled that my 10 year old daughter had chosen.  The book is fantasy, and features beautiful fairy-like creatures, winged and colorful.

According to Charlotte, SECRET OF THE MISTS was action-packed and exciting.  The most exciting part was when Kandide, the main character and heroine, arrived at the mists, and was attacked by the Garglan, a vicious, hairy creature with wings, sharp teeth, claws, and a long tail.  The Garglan also has creepy red eyes.  Kandide needed the help of wolves to escape it.

The Lady's Revenge

Her excitement about SECRET OF THE MISTS prompted me to purchase book 2 of the series, THE LADY’S REVENGE.  According to my daughter, THE LADY’S REVENGE is mysterious.  A princess, Tara, is captured, and frozen in a block of ice.  If the ice melts, she will die.  Kandide is in charge of making Winter, and so she changes the season to Winter again, keeping the ice frozen.  Kandide enlists the help of her brother to magically save Tara from the block of ice.

Masks of Deception

At the end of Book 2, Charlotte was so anxious for book 3…but it wasn’t released yet!  I had to pre-order it, and she was so thrilled when it finally arrived!  The title of Book 3 in this series, is THE MASKS OF DECEPTION.  This book, like the two other before it, features beautiful pictures throughout.  They are stunning.

Charlotte just finished reading it, and here is what she told me:  There is a war going on between Calabiyau, and the Banshee Kingdom.  She didn’t want to give me too many spoilers, but she did mention at one point, that the Fee’ have to enter the human world, and they get stuck.  This is dangerous for the Fee’ because in the human world, time moves faster and they age really quickly.  MASKS OF DECEPTION ends with “To be continued…”, which delighted my daughter.  We are hoping for a book 4!

It should be noted that there is a beautiful, intricate coloring book that coincides with this book series.  We also own the coloring book.  It’s truly lovely.

As a parent, author, and teacher, I was so happy to find a series of books which my daughter became so enthralled with.  I would also like to point out that when I reached out to author Diana S. Zimmerman about Charlotte’s zest for her books, she was more than happy to connect.  That means a lot to the readers who fall in love with characters and places of an authors creation.  Thank you for writing such a series for my daughter and other readers to enjoy.

Diana S. Zimmerman has a website for all things Kandide:  www.kandide.com

The Calabiyau Chronicles Series can be purchased on Diana S. Zimmerman’s website, or on Amazon

She can be found on social media as well:

Twitter:  @DianaZimmerman

Facebook:  Diana Zimmerman

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When All Else Fails…

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Good evening, readers!

This is not my usual Sunday night planned post, for a few reasons.  First, it’s not Sunday.  Second, this past week found me unable to produce much in the way of writerly thoughts.  And third, well, it’s pretty much tied to the second reason.  Stress, with some confusion and befuddlement over various goings-on sprinkled in for good measure.  No matter where I turned, it seemed, I felt/feel like things are off kilter and out of my control. And social media isn’t helping, at the moment.

So, to combat this, I did two things.  First, I read a book that had been on my TBR for a while.  I have been sharing my enchantment with THE LITTLE PARIS BOOKSHOP, by Nina George, on my various social media feeds, and a review of it will be coming soon, here on this blog.  *Swoon*…

And second, when I finished THE LITTLE PARIS BOOKSHOP,  I turned to my own work in progress; the one thing I currently have complete control over.

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My works in progress; conceived by me, researched by me, nurtured by me, encouraged by me,  and eventually released into the world by me.

To have these works in progress, gifts that they are, at my disposal is a blessing during times like these is a treat.  I can revisit my characters whom I adore.  I can rework my plots to my liking.  I can create something completely new if I want.  It’s a very liberating feeling.  Writers, or any artists, really, are blessed with this ability to create.  In times like these, I am grateful to have this ability at my disposal.

It’s true…When all else fails, I can grab a pencil, and be off in a world of my choice.

Mind you, I didn’t write a whole lot of new content this week, because, again, confusion, stress, and befuddlement.  But it was time well spent.  Stepping out of my world of confusion and into my writing world for a while did me some good.

Actually, it did me a lot of good.

Tonight, before putting this post together, I took a look at what I did manage to write this past weekend.  I have a secondary plot line developing, and am heading in for the home stretch of the book.  All awesome things, that came out of necessity for me when all else failed.

Thanks for stopping by today!

 

 

Novel Noshing: Foods Inspired By Our Novels and Characters, Part 4

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Welcome Back!  Today’s headlining picture makes me think of my favorite thing about autumn baking…apples and cinnamon.  Here in the North Country, Autumn is in full swing.  Cool, crips nights, and sun-shiny days illuminate the colorful trees here in the Adirondacks.  It’s the season for steamy drinks, comforting casseroles, warm breakfasts to get us started in the morning.

Which brings me to our featured author of the week.

For this fourth installment of my series, I present to you author Melody Winter, and her soon-to-be-released novel, INIQUITY.  Here is Melody, with a bit about her upcoming release.

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Village life for my characters in Iniquity is hard. Food is limited, and meat scarce. But the one meal that’s made every morning is a hearty bowl of porridge. The men need a filling breakfast to see them through a day working at the fields, and the women usually eat their fair share as well. The weather is cold, miserable and it often rains, hence a stomach full of warm porridge is a good start to everyone’s day.

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Athena mentions having to soak the oats overnight. This was a traditional way of making porridge. For each serving, the equivalent of 50 grams of oats was added to a mix of 300ml water and goats milk if it was available. The following morning it was cooked in a large metal pot over hot coals, stirring constantly until it boiled, and then stirred again for a further ten minutes.

Unfortunately, in Iniquity there isn’t much else you can add to the porridge as fruit and other plant growth is severely hindered by the lack of sunlight. The villagers only grow the necessities.

INIQUITY is due for release on the 25th October, available through amazon, or a signed paperback direct from Melody. The ebook is currently available for pre-order at a special discounted price on amazon:

Amazon.com: Link to Iniquity on amazon US  

Amazon.co.uk: Link to Iniquity on amazon UK

Email Melody: melodywinterbooks@gmail.com

About the author:

Growing up, Melody showed a natural ability in art, a head for maths, and a tendency to write too long English essays. Difficult to place in the world when she graduated, she pursued a career in teaching, but ended up working in finance. Melody is convinced the methodical times she spends working with numbers fuel her desire to drift into dream worlds and write about the illusory characters in her head.

Melody Winter lives in York, North Yorkshire, England with her husband and two sons. When not dealing with football, rugby, and a whole plethora of ‘boy’ activities, she will be found scribbling notes for her stories, or preparing for another trip to the nearby beaches at Scarborough and Whitby. With an obsession for anything mythical, Melody revels in reading and writing about such creatures, and creating her own.

 

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Novel Noshing: Foods Inspired By Our Books and Characters, Part 2

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Welcome back, Readers!

For today’s post in this series, I introduce author Carys Jones, with a recipe inspired by her novel, Dare To Dream, published by REUTS Publications.  Here is a blurb about the book, from the publisher’s website:

“Fourteen-year-old Maggie Trafford leads a normal life. Well, as normal as being crammed in a three-bedroom house with four siblings and a single parent can be, anyway. But despite being somewhat ignored at home, Maggie excels, earning top grades, a best friend who would do anything for her, and stolen looks from a boy in Maths.

It’s not until the dreams start that Maggie realizes “normal” is the least of her problems. Every night, she lives the same nightmare—red lightning, shattered glass, destruction. But nightmares are just that, right? No one believes her when she says it’s an omen. At least, not until the already mysterious pillars of Stonehenge start falling.

No longer alone in her fear, Maggie and the world watch with bated breath as one after another, the historic stones tumble, like a clock counting down. But only Maggie knows what it means: when the last stone falls, destruction will reign. And when the world ends, there’s only one option left—survive.”

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Here is Carys Jones, in her own words.

I chose a recipe for Red Velvet Cupcakes to represent the character of Maggie from Dare to Dream. In the book, Maggie is plagued by nightmares of red lightning which ultimately destroy the world, hence why I leaned towards a red dessert.

Maggie is a sweet natured girl with hidden depth (like a great cupcake). Whilst not rich she is intense.

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Dare to Dream is published through Reuts publications and is currently available from all online retailers – https://www.amazon.com/Dare-Dream-Carys-Jones/dp/1942111088/ref=la_B004AEJO7W_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1472901951&sr=1-2

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Red Velvet Cupcakes–As inspired by Maggie in Dare to Dream

What you’ll need;

  • 250 grams plain flour
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 100 grams butter
  • 200 grams caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon red food colouring
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 175 millilitres buttermilk

 

What to do; 

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/gas mark 3/325°F, and fill two muffin tins with paper cases
  2. Stir together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda in a mixing bowl.
  3. In a different bowl cream the butter and sugar together. Then beat in the food colouring and the vanilla extract
  4. Add the eggs and flour into the mix, beating continuously so that everything becomes a nice thick paste.
  5. Finally beat in the buttermilk and then spoon the mixture into the paper cases.
  6. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes. To check if they’re done, pierce a cake with a skewer or knife and if it comes out clean then your cakes are done.
  7. Leave them to cool on a wire rack before adding the frosting.

 

For the Topping you’ll need;

  • 500 grams icing sugar
  • 125 grams cream cheese
  • 125 grams butter

 

  1. Mix the icing sugar, cream cheese and butter together.
  2. Whisk thoroughly until smooth.
  3. Carefully ice each cupcake (once thoroughly cooled)
  4. Decorate with chocolate sprinkles and red sugar if desire.
  5. Enjoy!

 

Carys Jones loves nothing more than to write and create stories which ignite the reader’s imagination. Based in Shropshire, England, Carys lives with her husband, two guinea pigs and her adored canine companion Rollo.

When she’s not writing, Carys likes to indulge her inner geek by watching science- fiction films or playing video games.

She lists John Green, Jodi Picoult and Virginia Andrews as her favorite authors and draws inspiration for her own work from anything and everything.

To Carys, there is no greater feeling then when you lose yourself in a great story and it is that feeling of ultimate escapism which she tries to bring to her books.

For more information about Carys please visit http://www.carys-jones.com or follow her on Twitter; @tiny_dancer85

Novel Noshing: Foods Inspired by our books and Characters, Part 1

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Welcome, Readers!

The photo above, shows a Great Gatsby-inspired meal.  From the website, it states: Waldorf Salad in a lettuce cup, and deviled egg, photographed in Walnut Creek, Calif., on Wednesday, April 24, 2013. http://www.denverpost.com.  I think it’s a great photo, and really sets the tone for what this blog series is about.

Today begins a month-long series, where some of my writerly friends and I will be sharing a little bit about our books, and recipes and foods which are inspired by them.  I intend to share a new post each week of October, highlighting an author or two, each time.

Planning this series was meaningful to me.  Foods and customs help to shape who we all are.  When writing, it’s important to include those types of things, because it helps create character depth, and brings a more intimate knowledge of the story to light.  When I read a novel, I want to feel like I live with those characters for a while.  This blog series is an attempt to bring you, the Reader, closer to living within the pages of our novels.  Join us!

For the first post in the series, I introduce you to J.M. Frey, the author of The Accidental Turn Series.  Here she is, posting in her own words.

 

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Bevel Dom’s Questing Cuisine

by J.M. Frey

One of the most fun parts of world building is figuring out the cuisines of the world. What grows in this climate? What is their staple grain? How often do they go to market? What kind of growing season do they get? Do they trade with neighbors, or neighboring counties, or neighboring countries? Do the highborn eat the same foods as the peasantry? Who gets to hunt on what land, and what sort of creatures do they consider food-animals over pet-animals?

For my novels and novellas in The Accidental Turn series, I firmly established a world where bread, cheese, European-style fruits and root vegetables, and farmed meat were the standards of faire. But my rogue and roving heroes – Kintyre Turn and Bevel Dom – were more likely to live off the land. Venison, eel, dried fruit and nuts, and foraged potatoes were more their speed. And in a world were exotic spices were non-existent and everyone – everyone human that is – had a kitchen garden filled with the same herbs, Bevel kept a string of cylindrical tins attached to his sword belt, and the spice blends he’d wheedled out of centaur chefs and night elf kitchen maids were his greatest treasure.

In his seventeen years as a roaming sword-for-hire, Bevel developed several clever and ingenious ways to serve up road-rations and just-caught creatures to make them palatable to two hungry Heroes. Here is one of them:

Bevel, trying to break through the heavy atmosphere, hands one of the leaf-wrapped packages to me, and the other to Kintyre. Wordlessly, Kintyre holds it out to Pip, and Pip, equally wordlessly, takes it. I take my own from Bevel, accepting the temporary truce, and it is still hot; it singes my fingertips a little. It steams as I unwrap it, and I am pleased to see that it is a sort of roll made up of meat wrapped around dried fruit. It is juicy and delicious, and I realize how hungry I am on the first bite.

“We’ve been doing this part of adventuring wrong,” Pip moans around her own mouthful.

Bevel pinks again. “I’ve had a long time to practice. Luckily, Kin was willing to put up with my experimentation.”

 “And I’m lucky Bevel actually enjoys cooking and was willing to experiment,” Kin says around a mouthful. “We got sick of standard travel fare pretty quick.”

 

BEVEL’S SWEET MEAT ROLLS

  • Venison, pounded flat (rehydrated from salted jerky is fine, if you have the time to soak it for a few hours), at least the size of your hand.
  • Dried berries – plums, cranberries and raisins preferred – rehydrated by soaking them in whatever liquor you happen to have to hand. Soak them for at least an hour.
  • Some dried nuts, roasted in a pan over your cookfire, if you like.
  • Large, thick, non-poisonous leaves – an acceptable equivalent in the Overrealm would be Banana leaves. Tinfoil would also be acceptable.
  • A Centaur Sweet and Savory Spice Blend – the Overrealm equivalent would be cinnamon, nutmeg, sage, sea salt, white pepper, and thyme blended to taste.

 

Build up your camp fire in advance so that by the time you’ve prepared your rolls the embers are hot and cherry red.  Pour three handfuls of dried fruit into your travel cup and soak it with liquor – whiskey, sherry, or brandy work best. Wait until all the liquid has been absorbed into the fruit; while you’re doing that pound your cuts of meat flat and lay them on the leaves. Muddle and chop the fruit and nuts together, and spread a thin layer over the meat. Sprinkle with your spice blend. Roll the meat and fruit mixture like a scroll, fold the leaf around it (making sure to tuck in the edges to the fire doesn’t crisp them), and secure all with a bit of string soaked with water. Place the whole package on the edge of the fire, and leave for upwards of an hour, until the meat is at your preferred cooking level, or your companion is complaining of hunger. Serve with a trencher of bread if you have any. Potatoes, baked in the fire, work just as well.

Or, I suppose y0u could do it on the Barbeque, if you want to cheat.

*

J.M. is a voice actor, SF/F author, fanthropologist and professional smartypants on AMI Radio’s Live From Studio 5. She’s appeared in podcasts, documentaries, and on television to discuss all things geeky through the lens of academia. She also has an addiction to scarves, Doctor Who, and tea, which may or may not all be related. Her life’s ambitions are to have stepped foot on every continent (only 3 left!) @scifrey | http://www.jmfrey.net/

You can find out more about Bevel Dom and The Accidental Turn series here.

 

Book Review: OFF BOOK, by Jessica Dall

Hello Readers!

I read this book a while back, and just realized that I never posted my review!  So here we go:  OFF BOOK, by author Jessica Dall 🙂

Quirky, off-beat, but quite charming, I really liked the unique premise of OFF BOOK, from REUTS Publications.

Many of us (I expect) have wondered what it would be like to exist in a story, or what character’s lives might be like after the novel is over. But author Jessica Dall goes one step further here, and presents the reader with a world of characters before they are written into novels.

This pre-novel existence poses many questions to those characters who are unwritten. For example, when they finally get chosen, would their existence span a long time, as a main character within a series?  Or would their literary existence be brief, as in killed off, or somehow written out another way. What would happen to them, then? Another character reality…what if their author starts writing them into a novel, but never finishes it (writer’s block…)? What happens to those characters then?  Jessica Dall presents us with the perspective of a character, believing they may never be chosen to become part of an author’s book.

As both a reader and author, I have sat at both sides of the table: The author who brings the characters to life on the page, and the reader, welcoming the characters into my life.

From an authorly standpoint, reading OFF BOOK has given me the motivation to finish writing all of my novels, so that my characters, who I adore so much, will have some sort of completeness in their lives!  Weird?  Maybe.  But that’s my reality, and that is the hook of Dall’s book.  If you are a reader who enjoys unique character perspectives, check this one out. Highly recommended!

Book Review: Hearts Anonymous: Wittiness and grit, within a dark sweet fairytale

Jonathan Dunne has proven himself to me through the years to be a writer I can depend on, and his latest book, HEARTS ANONYMOUS, again delivers.

 

First of all, I love how Jonathan Dunne talks about the inspiration for this novel in the front of the book.  I urge all readers of HEARTS ANONYMOUS not to skip over that part.  What he describes in those opening words sets the tone for the entire book in a way that connects the reader to the impending story.

 

Now for the story.  If we consider the phrase “All the world’s a stage, and the men and women merely actors”, we get a sense of the premise of HEARTS ANONYMOUS.  The difference I found however is that instead of existing as actors on a proverbial stage, Jack, Jeanie and Ruthy are living as characters in a fairytale, whose lives seem forever entwined, and whose story remains unfinished.  Jack and Jeanie appear to the reader as star-crossed lovers, who are destined to be together long after Jack’s heart stops beating, but in this book’s fairytale twist, we discover that Jack’s life has a more intricate trajectory, that he, nor this reader, could see coming.  Surviving a rollercoaster derailment is just the beginning, as he and Ruthy travel together to the origin of a fairytale that they have become embroiled in, or rather have existed in, for quite some time.  The ending I truly DID NOT see coming.

 

Jonathan Dunne does a wonderful job developing the idea of a clock that can transport people through time. As the author of a time travel novel myself, I was intrigued.  The description of the clock and all of its intricately moving parts, I loved.  And the love story aspect was dark, yet sweet.

 

It’s no secret that I love the fictitious world of Jonathan Dunne’s novels.  He continues to develop Limerick and Old Castle even further with HEARTS ANONYMOUS, a treat for this fan-reader.  Not to be overlooked are Arthur Lawless, Bonnie, Mick Munroe, and Sinbad, who graciously have “cameo” mentions within this book’s pages.  HEARTS ANONYMOUS is written with the same sarcastic wit that I have grown to love and expect from Mr. Dunne.

 

In case you weren’t aware, there is an audio format of this book, which I have decided I NEED to have.  It would be really something to hear the author himself read the pages of this novel to me, in the way his author-mind intended.

 

I recommend this book to current fans of Mr. Dunne’s books, but also to any reader who likes a bit of a twist with their fairytales.