Thursday, 29 November 2018

November Musings

PhotoCredit: cmpsiegen at Pixabay

Welcome readers! Can you believe we’re rushing into the end of November already? Christmas will be upon us in the blink of an eye and the cold is descending upon us.
For me the late fall has been about repairing the backyard fence and gate, prepping the furnace and getting ready for a forecast of a cold winter ahead. As temperatures drop one of the first things I notice is how dry everything gets, especially my already dry skin, so my night table has a jumble of pots and jars of skin hydrating and moisture sealing creams. We get -20 degrees through January. That’s really cold! So I'm looking for serious, heavy duty skin protection. 
Summer 2017 I chanced upon an interesting 2015 Raquel Welch interview with Piers Morgan in which she divulged a simple beauty secret. Then 75 years of age she looked amazing! I can’t find the original full interview but there’s an article Here that shares this information she let out during that interview. 
You won’t believe what’s in the simple product she uses called Bag Balm. It’s a mix of lanolin, petroleum jelly and paraffin wax! We're familiar with lanolin which is a waxy sebum secreted by sheep and other animals into their wool for protection against the elements. I need something really effective for the cold and lanolin is the most unctuous and seriously heavy duty moisturizer I’ve found (I might try a liquid version in future too). Make sure to get 100% pure and be aware that you'll need to mix/melt it into shea butter, or Vaseline, or coconut oil or similar. PipingRock makes an inexpensive pure lanolin and they have great customer service.

Ideally we would want to source lanolin from unsprayed and non-GMO fed sheep (that’s a topic for another discussion) but at this time this looks to be very difficult if not impossible.

The other ingredient I think in Bag Balm that’s probably very effective is paraffin. I’m not that keen on it though it would probably be an excellent sealant, maybe too effective and I’d want my skin to breathe easily. It sounds great if you work out of doors during the cold months though!
As the year is winding down I'm busy working on new directions for 2019 to help me achieve greater goals for independence, some for my writing and some in skin care. To get an early peek visit SkinCare101. 
November Mood Collage
Merry Christmas from Cat!
So early season’s greetings all! If you’re looking for ideas, check out 900HedgehogBrand for cute and classic greeting cards, gift bags and tags, iphone cases and more.
May the best of friends, family, health, food, and contentment fill your life and home through Christmas and into 2019!

Monday, 15 October 2018

Hauntingly Romantic Winter

Welcome readers!  Autumn is here, and my most favourite month of the year, October.  It’s great for snuggling in fleece-lined socks, close to your sweetie, up to a cup of hot cocoa, and especially reading.
I’m excited to be participating in A Hauntingly Romantic Winter: A Fairytale Collection, a beautifully illustrated anthology of previously unpublished fairy tales (fractured and otherwise) compiled and published by Tamara Rokicki and D. Fischer.  These entrepreneurial authors head up The Other World, an online community of writers and readers who love fantasy, paranormal, and dystopian reads.

I’m thrilled to team up with other talented writers and photographic/illustrative artists in this gorgeous publication out November 1, 2018 some of whom are Lucille Moncrief, H.M. Gooden, Tabetha Waite, Martin Wilsey, Erin Casey, Lecia McDermott, and more for this gorgeous winter publication.  This is being offered as a paperback for the beautiful visuals as well as ebook format. 

Cursed Ice Prince is a tale I’ve been working on that is inspired by traditional fairy tale, The Snow Queen, by Hans Christian Andersen.  I love this story for its magical winter qualities and wanted to do a fairy tale re-telling so this was the one for me.  My idea was, what if Kai and the Snow Queen like each other?  What might draw them together, and what elemental problems would come between them?  Could they ever come together, really, a human and an elemental?  Some big questions but I’ve got a pretty active imagination! 
The blurb:
Anyu is the Sovereign of Snow since the beginning and for eons, always alone, yearning for connection, maybe even the love that humans prize so much. But she reaches out to human men only to kill them with her frozen kiss of death.
The hobgoblin Rhaznomr’s evil magic mirror has splintered into a zillion pieces, lodging in the hearts and eyes of humans all over the world. Perhaps a man with mirror splinters could withstand her cool brand of love with such black magic to keep them safe and alive.
Anyu’s trail of frozen lovers comes to a fantastic resolution with Kai as Anyu is determined, even if she must enlist the aid of the evil Rhaznomr himself, to make him her Ice Prince.

Meant originally to be a novella size read (and will be completed into winter 2019/2020), I’ve trimmed Cursed Ice Prince to a short story for this anthology but with key points about the plot.
If you’re looking for the magic and myth about the Snow Queen, be sure to check out Cursed Ice Prince and the entire fabulous anthology to cuddle up to on a cold autumn or winter night to whisk you away to another world!
Pre-Publication Reserve Orders and Orders Here  
Check out The Other World Here to learn more.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

How to Join a Group Board on Pinterest

How to Join a Group Board on Pinterest
Hello Readers!
Today I’m going to blog a quick guide to joining and pinning on a group board on Pinterest, mostly because I believe there’s a great marketing opportunity on this growing platform, especially for writers/authors/self-publishers, that inherently is a great tool for selling and in my own efforts to get on group boards and now creating one of my own, it took a bit of work to get a clear notion of how it’s done. So hopefully this short list will help others interested in getting on group boards but struggling to make sense of the process.
Group Board:  A Pinterest board owned and managed by one person who invites others on Pinterest to join and pin onto that board. This occurs by invitation only. You can tell a group board by the multiple person image icon at the bottom left of the board.
Why a Group Board:  The power of increased activity/exposure to the marketplace also leveraged by the help of others. Aside from pinning to just your own Pinterest page, to pin and re-pin on active group boards will really up the number of times your pin is seen and possibly re-pinned by many others, further increasing exposure. The other members of the group board may also re-pin your pin their own boards considering that you have a common interest.
Quick Steps
·        Identify a suitable group board that you want to join.
·        “Follow” the main page of the owner of that group board (a must).
·        Message the owner (once you’ve followed someone a “Message” option becomes available top right of your screen to communicate with them and which starts a dialogue box that later shows up bottom left of your screen) that you would like to join their board unless they note differently in the description of the board.
·        In order to actually become a member of the board you will need to receive an Invite from the owner. The owner must also ‘Follow’ your main board first.
·        You will know you’ve been invited when you receive a message in your Inbox (top right icon on your page). The invitation will show either a ‘Decline’ or ‘Accept’ option. Choose ‘Accept.”
·        Refresh your Pinterest main page.
·        Look back onto your main page and you will find a new board, the group board you’ve just joined! You can now click on the board and pin away (allowing for board rules). This extra board on your main page may be the only downside depending how you feel about the number of boards on your page. When you subsequently go to pin on this board, depending on whether you have 100 boards of your own, this will add to the list of boards to choose from when you place your new pin.  I’m now involved with about 10 group boards and find this manageable.
·        You can later ‘un-join’ if you change your mind by clicking on +people icon which will then show a drop down menu of all the collaborators. When you find your name you can remove yourself and the board will vanish from your home Pinterest page.
·        Be aware that if the owner of the board finds that you’re pinning inappropriately they can delete your pins and remove you from the board.
Both parties get a win~win as you both get more followers and more activity/views on Pinterest.
On the other hand I find that Pinterest overall moves slowly (I’ve heard the term ‘slow burn’ applied) in terms of response (sales) and re-pins. This may be due to many factors including I likely have limited reach at this time, I haven’t been active enough or don’t know important facts to making pins go viral, etc. Still, I think the opportunity is too valuable to pass up. Consider that with every pin you can add a URL to your sell site. When you think about Instagram, for example, you cannot put links into your posts or comments (Facebook I won’t address as I refuse to go there, especially now after the Cambridge Analytica etc. scandals.) but on Pinterest you can with every single pin.
I find it interesting that Pinterest has removed the ‘likes’ function for pins. At first this annoyed me but as I think about it, if someone really likes your pin they will re-pin it if they have a suitable board. I think Pinterest is more of a marketplace versus social media because it’s really a search engine for finding something that you want. It’s sort of like a giant store that you search visually for either items you want or ideas.
As the world is going more mobile, a recent stat I saw that Pinterest has 80% mobile traffic is important. It’s also growing with increase in male participation (article HERE).  
And consider that you can not only pin book covers (authors/writers/indies) but create a variety of advertising type pins that include snippets from your book (example to left is of a recent pin for Fated for Sanchez), promo pins for discount days, etc. The possibilities are endless.
To get an idea of what types of pins are getting lots of re-pins, check out this page from Pinterest stats (study the construction of these pins!) HERE.
As with everyone, the time demand to participate in and research/learn ‘social media marketing’ is crushing. I’m currently only on Twitter and Pinterest as an indie author and Zazzle designer. From a business perspective I’m thinking Pinterest may evolve into a very good online marketplace that is not too mired in privacy and other scandals that is definitely worth considering, especially for indie authors/writers as I don’t see a huge presence there yet (I’ve done a trial of Tailwind Tribes) meaning huge growth potential.
So come and join my Fiction Reads group board for writers already HERELet’s grow a hopping writer’s community on Pinterest.
I would love to hear your comments about experiences, successes and failures about Pinterest in comments below.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

The Whisperer, by A. Ireland King - Review

The Whisperer
By:  A. Ireland King
Publish Date:  February 19, 2018
Published By:  Amazon Digital Services
Genre: Contemporary,  
Pages:  412 Kindle Edition
Source:  Author

She chose death.
She got life.
When Meredith Potts jumps in front of a train, the first surprise is that she still exists.  She meets the mysterious Michael, a guardian angel of sorts. As Meredith learns to help the living in quiet ways, she must also face her own demons.
Events are now in motion that will uncover a terrible secret and expose a killer. Where will Meredith’s unplanned journey lead? Can the truth really set you free?   
Set in Scotland’s capital city, this gripping tale of treachery and redemption is ultimately optimistic. Prepare to be swept away by authentic characters—The Whisperer will keep you guessing and leave you warm and fuzzy.
Welcome readers, back to a book review today with a look at The Whisperer, debut novel by A. Ireland King, an indie author from Scotland getting started in this crazy challenging world of self-publishing.

A. Ireland's novel sounded intriguing in that we the reader are going to get a take from the other side of the veil after a suicide and maybe learn what pain had led someone to take such drastic steps. It also sounded from the blurb like there was a mystery being solved from the other side. I love reading stories set in far off places too, earthbound and fantasy, so the Edinburgh, Scotland setting cinched it for me.

The story begins on the tracks, the train tracks to be precise, where Meredith gives up the ghost.

She is surprised to find she’s suddenly and unexpectedly still ‘around’ in some new form and then meets Michael, another being on this plane who tries to help her understand her new found mobility and possible purpose. Meredith discovers she can hang around with anyone, former family, even people she didn’t know, though of course they can’t see her. If I could hang around with those who couldn’t see me or know I was in ear shot, I’d definitely learn some interesting things and so does Meredith, both good and not so good. These things begin to shape her other-side mentality in a new direction so she’s actually growing as a character after death.

The author has a direct, easy flowing writing style that speeds you along several different story lines, some connected to Meredith in some way, and a simple easy way of drawing you into their lives, thoughts and emotions. We learn more about Meredith through her/and omniscient observation of the living she left behind (great show not tell). You feel for Meredith in the way that life is just tough but also that she could have been more communicative, braver in her discourse with others while still alive and that might have helped her. Maybe this is a message for the rest of us.

On one level however I find these concurrent stories somewhat depressing. Admittedly I read mostly paranormal fantasy in order to escape from the ‘life is tough’ thing (have enough of that every day in reality). While the stories in A. King’s novel are interesting, heart felt, and ultimately warming with an essentially positive and encouraging undertone, reading the struggles the various characters work through (or not) was a bit of a downer for me.

The story gathers steam as the murder investigation gets underway and from this point I read through to the end in one sitting wanting to find out the truth. The end reveal is a really great twist and I loved the unexpected and uplifting ending.

If you enjoy reading stories involving the human condition and trying to understand how to better the lives of those around us and thus our own, don't hesitate to pick up The Whisperer. 4.5 stars for a very good debut novel!

Why do we sometimes get ideas from nowhere to do things, to take unexpected actions we didn’t think we would? Maybe it’s a whisperer …

My thanks to the author, A. Ireland King, for a reading copy in exchange for an unbiased review. You will find her on the internet at the links below:
Grab your copy at Amazon  

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Kurt Seyit ve Sura - TV Series Review

Welcome readers ~ today I’m excited to present my review for something a little different - an epic period romance TV series, Kurt Seyit ve Sura, now available on Netflix, North America. The TV series is based on the true story of Seyit (officer in the Russian Tsar’s Imperial Guard) and Sura (daughter of a Russian nobleman) who fall in love but then must flee the Bolshevik revolution of 1917. The TV series is based on the series of books by Nermin Bezmen, the actual granddaughter of two of the characters in the story. I have not read the books but rather my review is for this gorgeous, romantic, tragic TV series.

Normally I review young adult and fantasy books but this incredible series has just yanked me by the heartstrings and I want to tell you all about it. That said, the real Sura is noted to be 15-16 at the time of the story so that definitely rates as YA territory.

I will be comparing bits of the true story that I’ve gathered from blogs and websites to the TV series storyline to fill out my review because once you start watching this series you will probably want to know just how much of it is taken from the true story just as I did! Warning – spoilers ahead!

The Book(s):
Kurt Seyit ve Sura (1st in series)
Book by: Nermin Bezmen 
Publish Date: December 18, 2017
Published:  Create Space Independent Publishing Platform
Genre: Historical, Romance, Epic, International
Pages:  446

An instant best seller since its debut in 1992, Nermin Bezmen’s Kurt Seyt & Shura is a classic of contemporary Turkish literature, a sweeping romantic drama set around the time the splendor of Imperial Russia is obliterated in the wake of the Great War. Bezmen tells the story of two star-crossed lovers fleeing the wave of devastation wreaked by the Bolshevik Revolution-- and does so with great sensitivity: one half of this couple who sought refuge in the capital of the dying Ottoman Empire was her grandfather. 
Translated into 12 languages, Kurt Seyt & Shura inspired a sumptuous T.V. series that continues to enchant millions of viewers across the world. With the publication of this novel in the United States, English-speaking fans will now be able to read the true story of this great love affair, which triumphed over so much adversity yet failed to overcome human fallibility. 
Kurt Seyt, the son of a wealthy Crimean nobleman, is a dashing first lieutenant in the Imperial Life Guard. Injured on the Carpathian front and later sought by the Bolsheviks, he makes a daring escape across the Black Sea. Too proud to accept payment for the boatful of arms he hands over to the Nationalists, he faces years of struggle to make a new life in the Turkish Republic rising from the embers of the dying Ottoman Empire. All he has is his dignity and love. 
Shura: An innocent sixteen-year-old beauty enchanted by Tchaikovsky’s music and Moscow’s glittering lights, falls in love with Seyt. A potential victim of the Bolsheviks due to her family’s wealth and social standing, she is determined to follow her heart and accompanies Seyt on his perilous flight over the Black Sea. Their love is the only solace to their crushing homesickness for a land and family they will never see again, two lovers among hundreds of thousands of White Russian émigrés trying to eke out a living in occupied Istanbul. 

Source for My Review:  Kurt Seyit & Sura, TV Series on Netflix, 46 episodes
Principals (really hard to trim this list!):

Kurt Seyit            Kivanç Tatlitug
Sura                     Farah Zeynep Abdullah
Murvet                 Fahriye Evcen

Petro Borinsky    Birkan Sokullu
Baronesa Lola     Asli Orcan

Celil Kamilof       Ushan Cakir
Tatya                     Eva Dedova
Guzide                  Elcin Sangu

Ahmet Yahya      Tolga Savaci  (owner of Seref Hotel in series, and author's husband!)
Lieutenant Billy  Cem Bender 

Where else does an epic historical romance begin except at the scene of combat, here at Russian pre-revolutionary Carpathian front line skirmishes. Director, Hilal Saral, starts with the events that lead to Petro Borinsky’s intense, poisonous hatred of his friend Seyit Eminof which comes to dominate many of the dramatic and tragic events that occur in the TV series. To Lieutenant Eminof honour is everything, but it seems that maybe even honour pays a price …

We now attend Alexandra (Sura) Verjenskaya’s first society ball in Petrograd (St. Petersburg, Russia). Seyit is stunned by his first sight of the luminous, innocent Sura and immediately realizes that she will not be one of his usual society girl conquests. Kivanc Tatlitug as Seyit Eminof is strikingly handsome with the formal manners of a courtier and such intense blue eyes you just know Sura won’t last one minute once they lock with hers. When Seyit falls in with her social circle, at first she’s too tongue-tied to even speak to him and you just feel for her naïvete and hope that she will withstand Seyit, the wolf.

Farah Zeynep Abdullah as Sura gives a rare natural sweetness to our beautiful heroine. Despite Sura’s crushing attraction to the dashing lieutenant she summons the nerve to get to know him. But this is a powerful two-way attraction and both Seyit and Sura are soon in each other’s thrall.

We break to visit the Eminof family in Alushta, Crimea, with Seyit and his male buddies (Crimea is that little peninsula that hangs down from the Ukraine into the Black Sea) and learn Seyit’s father is very traditional and more so, very traditional Turkish. Interestingly, Seyit’s family’s values are the next source of looming problems between him and Sura. Seyit then goes to fight at the front but when Russia withdraws from WW1 and Russian society begins to disintegrate to the rebels, he must flee Petrograd. He and Sura are now hopelessly in love and she breaks with her family (who are also fleeing the capital) to run with him back to his family home in Alushta.

The TV series is in spoken Turkish with English subtitles so busy watching, but I would rather hear the natural voices of the actors and just deal with subtitles. Turkish is a curious language, unlike any other that I've ever heard. Even so, you pick up a few words here and there from the subs.

I’ve read that in the real story Petro is finished when they reach Alushta, but in the TV series, he continues with them to Istanbul. Close friend in arms, Celil too doesn’t make it past Alushta in real life but is a significant player in the TV series to the end. Both characters (along with Misha) contribute significantly to the series story line though so this was definitely a great move on the part of the script writers.

Emotions run high through all 46 episodes. Turkish cinema does not shy away from intense, soulful, even poetic expressions of love by both the men and women and while there are no Hollywood style bedroom scenes, you scarcely miss them. The pain of lost loved ones is met with heavy sorrow, and loyalty to family and friends is profound and unbreakable so betrayals are evil and unbearably destructive.

Kivanc Tatlitug is outstanding in his role, lavishly giving us everything;
·     Laser perception of everything that’s happening around him in war and in his personal life.
·     The most tender, sweet expressions of his love for Sura.
·     Intense grieving for his murdered family.
·     A man’s terrible righteous anger.
·     Caring of young children and siblings.
His emotional range through this series is spellbinding and it’s easy to see why Kivanc is currently named one of Turkey’s highest paid actors. He's especially brilliant in expressing those emotions through his eyes.

Seyit and Sura eventually make it to the Seref Hotel in Istanbul, a safe haven for Russian emigres run by Ali and Yahya two kindly brothers and their families. We are taken often to the hub of the place, the kitchen, and you feel just like one of the family in no time in getting to know everyone and everything that’s going on.

Supporting characters and their story lines fill out the main wonderfully and we follow sister Valentina and the Baron, a scheming Baronesa, Celil and Tatya, then Guzide, and Yahya, Binnaz, Ayse, Alya, a young lad, the terrible Lieutenant Billy, and even Murvat through these turbulent times.

The Flaws (flaws make for great drama)
Let’s look at handsome Petro first. Because of a single mistake at the beginning, Petro evolves into a magnificently pathological character. As Baronesa Lola says, he is Evil. Petro is conniving, manipulative, a liar even to himself, and a sneaky traitor. All of these ‘qualities’ I find Birkan Sokullu plays with insidious subtlety. He keeps Petro believable under the guise of being a noble gentleman but who keeps getting away with it. On one level you can't help admiring Petro's malevolent cleverness.

Seyit’s flaw takes more time to uncover. One revealing incident in the TV series is on Seyit and Sura’s wedding day (by episode 29 things are actually getting a bit soap-opera-ish as there are several similar incidents). Because of continuous undermining behind the scenes by ‘friends,’ Seyit vanishes before this very special event. Using clever tactics he escapes being shipped back to Russia and certain death and in about a month and a half finds his way back to Istanbul and his fiancé. For unknown reasons he is unable to discuss what happened to him openly with Sura (!!!). Whether it is because men at the time didn’t consider it right to tell women the difficulties of life to protect their soft sensibilities, or other ‘masculine’ reasons, this incredibly important discussion does not take place.

Because of the real life timeline of some characters that did not make it to Istanbul, many of these betrayal ‘incidents’ portrayed in the TV series did not actually occur so something else was at play in the true story as Seyit and Sura never actually marry.

Neither do they marry in the TV series, but the series storyline offers these continuous heinous and painful betrayals by others as causes that lead to that eventuality.

In reality it seems that Seyit either was unable to get over the strictures of his father not to marry outside of their culture (his subsequent marriage to Turkish girl, Murvat, seems to bear this out), or he could just never properly own up to the young Russian girl he must have undoubtedly loved truly, and who gave up her whole world to be with him, because of cultural/social norms of men at the time, or expecting the little woman to have blind faith in her man with zero explanations of what’s going on, or really whatever. The world was very different in early 1900s let’s not forget.

As the denouement starts to unfold, Farah Zeynep Abdullah does a great job bringing a young, vulnerable Sura to the point where she eventually matures enough to comprehend Seyit’s limitations whatever their unknown source. This is difficult on a backdrop of having lost most of her own family and having the guts to start over in yet another foreign city. She’s a tough survivor who despite everything does believe in their love. In the end, I was left just shaking my head.

Still, intense experiences bind people together and I’ve read that Seyit never forgot Sura to his very death, and that she apparently wrote to him years after she moved away from Istanbul. Their story is drama-filled, emotional, and tragic and just pulled me in. It seems somehow impossible that a young couple in love who had endured so much to secure a new life together do not stay together in the end. Fairy tale endings in this world are no guarantee, that’s for sure.

This television series is really well produced and I think will be a big hit with North American audiences.

If you love epic period romance, check this out.
If you love sweeping historical/international films, check this out.
If you love costumers, check this out.
Just lay in with supplies as it’s hard not to binge-watch this magnetic series!
To learn more about Turkish history, check out
Ginger Monette on Turkish History where she gives a great run down without throwing the whole textbook at you.

About the Author
Nermin Bezmen is an accomplished artist, art teacher, yoga instructor, and broadcaster whose meticulous research into family history led to the publication of Kurt Seyt & Shura in 1992. This fictionalized account of her grandfather’s life became an instant best seller and is now considered a masterpiece of contemporary Turkish literature; in fact, it has reached textbook status in several secondary schools and universities. Exquisite detail distinguishes her writing as she proves that truth is indeed stranger than fiction and that our ancestors call out to us from the pages of history. Her powerful character analysis and storytelling skills invite readers to explore their own dreams, sorrows, anxieties, and even fleeting fancies. Bezmen has published seventeen novels, two of which are biographical and one of which is a fantasy. In addition, she has a children’s novel, a collection of short stories, and a book of poems to her credit. She has two children and three grandchildren and lives with her husband, actor Tolga Savacı, in New Jersey and Istanbul.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Fire and Ice by Michele Barrow-Belisle - Review

Fire and Ice
Faerie Song Saga Book 1
By:  Michele Barrow-Belisle
Publish Date:  November 24, 2013
Published By:  Clean Reads
Genre: Contemporary, Supernatural, YA/Adult, Occult, Fantasy
Pages:  467 Kindle Edition
Source:  Author

Adventure wasn’t something Lorelei Alundra was interested in. Gifted with two other-worldly talents for singing and healing, she’s always shied away from her gifts and the spotlight, preferring quiet anonymity over attention and fame. But when she meets the enigmatic Adrius, with his dark and dangerous mystique and eyes that could see into her soul, her uneventful life becomes irrevocably altered.

Adrius turns up in every one of her classes and knows more about her than any newcomer should, including the condition of her mother who is suffering from a mysterious illness. Accepting his offer to help leads her into a terrifying and thrilling world where Elves are even hotter than Legolas, and Faeries.... are nothing like Tinkerbell. The two magical beings are fire and ice opposites; one Lorelei can’t help falling for, and the other she's compelled to be with

Now she’s trapped, expected to prevent a war between witches and faeries, or forfeit her mother’s life. Nothing is what it seems. Not her family. Not the Fey. Not even Adrius, whose feelings for her balance precariously between desire and danger. Despite her better judgment, she can’t say away from him.

As secrets unravel and unsettling truths are revealed, Lorelei must fight to save much more than her mother’s life. One mistake could put the fate of his world, and her soul in jeopardy.

But hey, no pressure… right.
I’m thrilled to be reviewing Michele Barrow-Belisle’s first in series of her Faerie Song trilogy, Fire and Ice, as I’m a big fan of fantasy books in different genres and have been wanting to read her series so welcome to my blog and read on!

Our protagonist, Lorelei, is a student and behind the scenes empathic healer and wannabe singer in little Drearyton Cove. She’s got quirky/nervous habits of coping with big stress (singing before a live audience) but is something of a philosopher about life in that she notices small details about peoples’ behaviour so we get a bit of inner monologue with sass that gets us into her mind right away.

Author Michele Barrow-Belisle effortlessly brings intriguing, magical elven prince Adrius into Lorelei’s every-day world, and then smoothly transitions all of us to Adrius’ world, Mythlandria in a great, seamless change-over scene.

The amazing appeal of this novel is how the world of Mythlandria, the elven world, is painted. The writer treats us with exotic and fantastic descriptions of her faery world that will fire your imagination and bring you to a very delicious other place. Some descriptions of the elven and their world make me think of Asian anime fantasy/romances mixed in with Disney-esque touches (the author does borrow from established fantasy movies/books). At the same time Mythlandria is incredibly dangerous and Lorelei treads fearlessly into dangers untold.

But, Lorelei is waaay impulsive in the actions she takes when confronted with new situations. She makes snap decisions about important things that lead her into real trouble. I want to be on her side but at the same time am saying, girl, you should have thought about that a bit more, being in a strange, magical land and all! No amount of sass is going to save you from that kind of disaster. This should be a fast learn for a sassy heroine but isn’t with Lorelei. That said, Lorelei’s impulsive choices lead her into fantastic and terrifying new places and situations.

I loved the elven cast of characters. Adrius is beguiling and secretive both at once and we see he is quite torn and conflicted by unknown truths that involve Lorelei he cannot divulge. Michele Barrow-Belisle plays this out well through to the end. Zanthiel, a shadow/demonic fae Lorelei knows she has connections with but before only through dreams, is a great bad-boy foil to Adrius that I found myself so interested in and even rooting for … weird, neat. It’s a good writer that makes you want both the apparent good guy and shadow fae for the heroine. And there are several other interesting supporting characters to fill things out.

The author uses a lot of mythology as the basis for her characters including murderous redcap goblins (goblins that soak their caps in the blood of victims). Lorelei, in German folklore, in one of several variations is a young woman who sits upon a high rock over the Rhine River luring shipmen with her enchanting voice and songs to their death (this theme isn’t played out here but Lorelei being a singer makes one think maybe in next in series …). Originally published in 2013, Fire and Ice is based on the ‘chosen one’ trope so this scenario has been around the block a bit now but the heroine’s modern, sassy stance, fast paced action and visual lushness of the novel kept me from minding much.

The ending is a great segue into the second book in the series without a painful cliff hanger and left me wanting to know more about very interesting Zanthiel, and the truth about Lorelei’s father and fae lineage.

Finally, personally I don’t like the technical thing of 13 lines per page (despite adjusting font and page size to get more lines per page on my Kindle) as it means ‘turning’ pages more frequently, but maybe that’s just me.

Overall, the visual landscape and fascinating characters in Michele Barrow-Belisle’s fantasy world Mythlandria are enthralling and I can see why Faerie Song has been optioned for a film adaptation (Khando Entertainment). I recommend the series to everyone who loves YA/NA fantasy. I can’t wait to see Mythlandria on screen. 4.3 stars!  Grab your copy at Amazon !

My thanks to the author for a reading copy in exchange for an unbiased review. You will find Michele on the internet at the links below:

Monday, 29 January 2018

True Storm by L.E. Sterling - Cover Reveal!

True Storm, by L.E. Sterling
Sci-Fi Fantasy
Publisher:  Entangled Teen
Publishing Date:  May 1, 2018

Book Blurb:

Lucy’s twin sister, Margot, may be safely back with her―but all is not well in Plague-ravaged Dominion City. The Watchers have come out of hiding, spreading chaos and death throughout the city, and suddenly Lucy finds herself under pressure to choose her future: does it lie with her handsome new friend, Alastair; her guardian, the enigmatic True Born leader Nolan Storm; or the man who makes her heart trip, her savage True Born bodyguard Jared Price?

But while Lucy ponders her path, fate has other plans. Betrayal is a cruel lesson, and the Fox sisters can hardly believe who is behind the plot against them. To survive this deadly game of politics, Lucy is forced to agree to a marriage of convenience. But is the DNA of her will stronger than the forces opposing her? Can she turn the tide against the oncoming storm??

As they say in Dominion, can rogue genes ever have a happy ending?


I'm thrilled to participate in L.E. Sterling's cover reveal for the third and final book in the True Born trilogy, a series about the values and dangers of a society focused on uses of human DNA. Sterling is a reader and writer of sci-fi fantasy novels with an interesting side interest in astrology. Let's check out the awesome cover to the final book in her series!

L.E. Sterling had an early obsession with sci-fi, fantasy and romance to which she remained faithful even through an M.A. in Creative Writing and a PhD in English Literature - where she completed a thesis on magical representation. She is the author of cult hit Y/A novel The Originals (under pen name L.E. Vollick) and the urban fantasy Pluto’s Gate. Originally hailing from Parry Sound, Ontario, L.E. spent most of her summers roaming across Canada in a van - inspiring her writing career. She currently lives in Toronto, Ontario. Check her out on the internet at these links:

Author Website | Twitter | Goodreads