Cambridge Literary Festival: Looking Glass Girl with Cathy Cassidy.


On Saturday 18th April 2015 I heard Cathy Cassidy talk about her new novel Looking-Glass Girl, in the Cambridge Union Blue Room, Cambridge Literary Festival.  I was accompanied by my youngest daughter who has read several of the Cathy Cassidy books, so she was happy to come along and hear this much admired author of her childhood. The audience consisted of lots and lots of young girls.

Cathy started off her talk by addressing the youngsters in her audience with the answer to the question that is most often asked by her fans:

What subjects did she like when she was their age?

She did like English but it wasn’t a 100% full on love. She enjoyed writing stories, but  wasn’t too keen on spelling or grammar. Such excellent news and hope for all those amongst us who are bad spellers, and weak at grammar.

Cathy’s Route to Writing

After Cathy left school she started off at Art college in Liverpool, and later became an Art Teacher in a Coventry Secondary school. Her old art teacher at her childhood school wasn’t exactly inspiring, in fact he seemed a bit prehistoric. Those old school art classes seemed to be fashioned out of the “time of the dinosaur.” With the topic of teachers fresh in her mind she asked if there were any teachers in the audience who had managed to, “get through the net.” Of course, there was bound to be a teacher who had wriggled through the net, and there was, so she had to be careful. She jokingly said that, “alters what I can say to you.”

Now, this is the point in which Cathy Cassidy really switched on my listening ears, and I reckon, my daughters too, and no doubt the rest of the audience too. She said her favourite thing to do at school was daydreaming! She had been an “enthusiastic” daydreamer who got caught. Now she had devised a way not to get caught whilst daydreaming and had three daydreaming tips which she would like to share with us. Unfortunately she said that she couldn’t pass these tips on just now. There was a teacher present! So, she encouraged the youngsters in the audience to email her to get these daydreaming tips.  What a lovely thought, daydreaming tips, maybe we should all have a copy of these! Cathy is a no. 1 advocate of day dreaming. She would love nothing better than for “daydreaming lessons” to be part of the classroom curriculum! In her opinion daydreaming is “never wasted.” After all, she gets paid to do it. What a lucky woman,  just imagine all the fabulous places she has been to, touring, promoting her books, Beijing, Singapore, Poland, France, these were just a few of the places that she mentioned that she has been to.

She started off her writing career in Scotland. At the time she had teenagers at home who would make a lot of noise, playing musical instruments, so she resorted to writing in a shed in her garden. It was her own personal writer’s retreat. We should all have one of these, though in my case it isn’t my teenage daughters who make such a noise, it tends to be my husband! He is a teenager at heart, he always has his music up full blast or is playing one of his many guitars.  I think he secretly likes it when I’m not around then he can make as much racket as he wants! Digressing a bit, oops, back to Cathy. Now Cathy has moved to Merseyside, she has an indoor writing area but she still remembers that shed with great fondness.

150th Anniversary of Alice in Wonderland

It is the 150th Anniversary of Alice in Wonderland. So not altogether surprising that Cathy the previously crowned queen of teen was approached to write a Alice themed book. She was desperate to do this “lovely challenge,”  being that she had always been inspired by the Alice in Wonderland story which she had read at the age of nine. The Alice story is “like a fairy story,” which Cathy identifies with, though “perhaps Alice is braver than I.” It has this quality about it that makes it feel, “like it has always been there.” At thirteen she returned to the story again and her response was a little different, she seemed to notice a “dark, sinister,” aspect that she had overlooked when she was younger. She liked the idea of “time being really important.” I do too!  Time plays a bit part in my writing too! John Tenniel’s original illustrations of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland  grabbed her attention, particularly Alice’s  sticky out skirt, and her wavy hair. Alice developed into quite a style icon for Cathy.  It is a look that Cathy really likes and one that she still models today.

Cathy’s Childhood Reading

Cathy spent her childhood going to three different libraries a week. If you consider that she could get six library books per library that’s a lot of books!  It became such a compulsion that her mother resorted to hiding Cathy’s books.

Cathy’s Favourite Book as a Child

Cathy’s favourite book as a child was Watership Down by Richard Adams. She remembers one occasion in which the coolest boy in her school came up to her and asked, “What you reading?” She had been really worried what his response would be when he saw the book, but to her surprise he said,”Watership Down is the best book.”

Cathy’s Favourite Character in her books.

Her favourite series was The Chocolate Box Girls and  her favourite character in this series is Honey. Cathy likes how full on and interesting she is.

How She Started Off Her Writing Career

Cathy started off her writing career by sending stories to Jackie magazine. She sent off hundreds of stories and at the age of sixteen she received a nice rejection letter. Ironically she ended up at an interview for an Office Junior job at Jackie magazine, and became Fiction Editor.

Looking-Glass Girl


Cathy’s publisher wanted her to write a dark and a little bit scary story, not a re-telling of the classic Alice in Wonderland story, so she came up with Alice’s Looking-Glass Girl.  In the novel there is a themed party in which everything that could go wrong does go wrong. Her Alice in Looking-Glass Girl is a year 8 pupil. The novel explores jealousy, friendship problems, and bullying. The bully Savvy, intrigues Alice so much that Alice feels compelled to go to Savvy’s Alice themed party even though this is most probably asking for a shed load of trouble! I like the sound of a bully intriguing you, that’s an interesting way to go.

Goodreads Synopsis of Looking-Glass Girl

To celebrate the 150th anniversary of Alice in Wonderland, a compelling modern-day re-imagining of Alice’s story by every girl’s favourite author, Cathy Cassidy. Alice is thrilled when Savannah invites her to a Wonderland-themed sleepover; she’s wanted to join this circle of friends for so long. Finally, she’s fitting in. But an accident suddenly changes everything and Alice is rushed to hospital. As her friends and family rally round, a mystery begins to unravel. Was Alice pushed, and why – who would want to hurt her? Can her loved ones – and the gorgeous boy who doesn’t want to leave her side – help Alice survive? Looking-Glass Girl is the stunning new book from Cathy Cassidy, an unforgettable tale of friendship and love from one of the UK’s best-loved authors. Cathy Cassidy is Puffin’s top-selling author for girls. She was an art teacher, a magazine editor and an agony aunt before becoming a full-time writer. She has worked at Shout magazine and previously at Jackie, the magazine named after Jacqueline Wilson. Cathy tours extensively around the UK – meeting over 10,000 young readers in 2012. She has twice won the prestigious ‘Queen of Teen’ award. Cathy lives with her husband, two teenage children, two dogs, two cats and a rabbit.

Cathy’s Writing Process

Cathy doesn’t tend to plan much, she uses  methods that work best for a “visual person like me,” such as drawing, creating a collage of the “world of characters,” as well as the daydreaming method to come up with her characters. The story plays out like a “movie that runs through my mind.”  She writes directly onto her laptop. I don’t plot much either Cathy so with you on that one!

The Inspiring Force

Her father was the inspiring force behind her writing. He repaired cars but he was a big believer in dreaming. He supported and believed in Cathy. We all need someone like this to inspire and guide us.

Daizy Star

Her Daizy Star books are based on herself, and the covers and illustrations are done by Cathy.

A Bit of a Secret

There were lots of girls with the name Catherine in her class in school. So nowadays she likes to steal cool interesting names at her book signings. What a great idea! So next time Cathy asks you to sign her book, you’ll know that she’s up to mischief!

Such An Inspiring Talk

It was an amazingly inspiring talk. I really enjoyed it. I thought Cathy was a wonderful speaker. I’ve always been enthralled by the fantasy element in the Alice in Wonderland story. Cathy delivered a “you believe in you,”  talk and a remember to daydream message that are so incredibly important. As we left the talk my daughter and I talked about daydreaming, she said that she liked to doodle in the margins of her workbooks but not all her teachers appreciated this creative artistry! That’s a shame as she is a visual person too, who likes creative pastimes such as photography, art, textiles, and writing.These childlike daydreaming qualities are often forgotten when we become adults but these attributes are the ones that allow us to explore our creative side fully. I shall have to doodle again! So next time you find yourself daydreaming, allow yourself to drift off, you never know where it might take you.


Cathy’s Blogzine:

In this Blogzine there are lots of opportunities for young readers  to contribute, and to write reviews of her books.

A very interesting About Me page:

Her Facebook page:

150th Anniversary of Alice in Wonderland:

THIS BLOG claims no credit for any images posted on this site unless otherwise noted. Images on this blog are copyright to its respectful owners. If there is an image appearing on this blog that belongs to you and you do not wish for it to appear on this site, please contact or e-mail me with a link to said image and it will be promptly removed

Sharing Options:

It’s my Bloganniversary, One Year!!!!!!!


Happy Anniversary with!

You registered on one year ago!

Thanks for flying with us. Keep up the good blogging!

Oops that crept up on me I knew it was soon but today, wow, how time flies.

Thanks to all my followers new and old for supporting me.

Encouraging me.

Chatting to me.

Really appreciate it.

It has been such fun, making new friends, learning new things.

Reading all your wonderful blogs.

I’ve started book reviewing

Talked about writing Festivals

Had a go at some humorous posts

Done a touch of photography

I’ve even learnt how to Haiku!

Look you can too!

I’ve got so many plans for this blog

I might have to start another one!

If you told me a year ago I’d be a blogger

(I think I can call myself that!)

Without sounding too presumptuous

I wouldn’t have believed you

I’d have laughed

A lot!

In fact I can hardly believe it.

Just shows you what

You can do if you set your mind to it.

Happy Blogging!!!!

My One Year Haiku

Happy Blogging Year

What a joy it’s been for me

Thanks for everything

Sharing Options:

Cambridge Literary Festival: Publishing in the Digital Age


On Sunday 19th April 2015 I arrived in time for the Cambridge Literary Festival Publishing in the Digital Age talk in The Cambridge Union Blue Room. Luckily I just managed to catch my bus by a hair’s whisker or else I would have been late. There were two speakers, Rachel Colbert, of Headline Press, and Mary-Ann Harrington, from Tinder Press. Tinder Press was launched two years ago in 2013 as Headline’s literary imprint, “a place where classy, intelligent writing could thrive.” Mary-Ann enthusiastically has managed to acquire lots of lovely authors for this fairly new imprint, including Mary O’Farrell, their launch title author of Instructions for a Heatwave, Helen Walsh, author of The Lemon Grove, and Eowyn Ivey debut author of  Snow Child, to name but a few. “Snow Child became an international bestseller. It was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize 2013, and Eowyn won the International Author of the Year category at the 2012 National Book Awards.”

Headline is a long-established publishing house, having been around since 1986, so Rachel asked Mary-Ann why had they chosen these troubled times to start a new imprint?

For Mary-Ann it felt like “the logical next step,” they felt “hungry to do more,” and books such as Snow Child were out there waiting to be discovered and to be successful in terms of sales. She wanted to create a small imprint of ten to twelve titles in which world of mouth would drive both debut authors and established authors success. These authors would then be given the prestige that Literary authors deserve. This small focus meant that these titles could become “reading group fiction,” or “word of mouth fiction,” and could be delivered into the right hands. There would be continuing support for these authors. A strategy was developed to find the perfect readers and advocates of these books, ensuring that this prestigious literature was placed into the right hands. The focus was on keeping it “special,” “small,” “diverse,” and “building up relationships.” With this strategy in place books could be issued to the booksellers, bloggers, and writers to endorse them. “Trust” was the key.

Rachel asked about opportunities for new writers given that the number of independent book retailers had now fallen drastically to less than one thousand shops.

Mary-Ann began by saying that yes it is a difficult marketplace. There are challenges, and threats but there are also opportunities. The high street chains are troubled so launching debuts is a difficult task. Booksellers have to think of new and exciting initiatives to generate interest. Tinder Press is passionate about championing new writers such as Sarah Leipciger debut author of The Mountain Can Wait.

Rachel continued to discuss this topic, she suggested that debut authors do have an advantage in some ways.

Mary-Ann was quick to agree, new authors are seen as  “promising,” and intriguing, therefore they get a fair amount of publicity and attention. Readers love nothing better than finding new authors.

Next Rachel explored the rise of Digital Books.

Mary-Ann argued that for an established literary author e-books are a good method to generate sales. With debut literary fiction the book needs to be seen, reviewed, and recommended so the traditional publishing route is better. She mentioned “the importance of a book as a physical object.” Yet that doesn’t mean that Mary-Ann isn’t aware of the current trends in self-publishing. On the contrary she mentioned that she, ” is very interested in self-publishing.” She suggested that authors taking the self-publishing route should put energy into their marketing, to make as much of an impact as possible.If they are successful it can pay off and they can be signed by major publishers. Again, it’s about creating relationships, and making sure that your material, the book itself, the cover, your social media presence is of the highest quality. Next, they talked about kindle. The focus centred firmly on hard work, creating an amazing profile, blog, and making sure that your on-line marketing strategy is first class.

Rachel had a tip for those who intend to publish to e-books. In traditional publishing there might be some empty blank pages in the opening pages of a physical book before the story begins. With e-books this is unnecessary, so make sure that you don’t have a lot of empty pages at the beginning of your e-book,  start straight into the story, put any other pages at the back of the book.

For a successful self published book to be picked up by a traditional publishing house it would have had to have sold in the region of 50,000 plus copies. That’s a lot of books! Of course they do keep an eye on the progress of self-published books. It is worth trying as many agencies as possible when looking to publish your book. Explore many avenues to get your work read, write short stories, and flash fiction, these are all an excellent idea. If you’re going directly to a publisher make sure that they know that you are confident in your intention, and that you wish to bypass the lengthy process to get your books straight into the publisher’s hands. Mary added that without an agent publishing is extremely hard, you must put time and energy into it. “Persistence” is the key.

Rachel felt that YA and Children’s literature is a growing area so possibly the market is not quite so saturated. Again check guidelines when submitting to publishers, agents, and follow them very carefully. Do not give them any excuse to ignore your submission, which will most probably be the case if you make mistakes.

Mary-Ann mentioned that Tinder Press is an imprint which publishes “international” books, an example which she cited is an Australian novel: Stephanie Bishop’s UK debut, The Other Side Of The World. This is a beautifully written literary novel. Novels such as these provoke the word “love”  to readily come into the conversation when she pitches these kind of books in-house. These special books thrive with writer’s endorsements, and there is a “reproduction effect” as each reader experiences a powerful, personal response when reading the book, which is then reproduced over and over again.

Next the topic moved on to new writers and the Submissions process

Mary-Ann is one of three editors at Tinder Press. They look for a publishing model that is full of enthusiasm. There must be a strong narrative hook to provoke an emotive response. Though, sometimes a quieter novel might come along that still captures the editor’s attention because it is so wonderfully written or is a bit different. They look for books with engaging stories that leave you with a “strong feeling,” that you “want to share,” they might have “a strong international flavour.” Tinder Press wants their readers to be challenged.

When submitting Mary-Ann suggests that the most important consideration to bear in mind is the “kernel of the book.”  This is so important. The author should be able to tell their story in a couple of sentences that are so memorable that the editor will sit up and take notice and ultimately the reader will want to go on this fictional journey. It is also helpful if editors are able to see that the submitting author has a social media presence. Long established authors don’t necessarily have to, but new writers are encouraged to do so. To be a member of a writer’s group, or to have successfully taken part in writing competitions, anything along these lines will give the editor a sense of the writers capabilities. But, don’t rely on this alone, first and foremost it is the book itself that will drive the editor’s decision whether to accept it.

New authors are given excellent advice from the in-house Tinder publicist about building good relationships. This community of support is very important. Mary-Ann recommended looking at the way that successful authors conduct their social media, use some of these as a model to get ideas.

In March Tinder had an open submission for two weeks from unagented authors. This is now closed. Their publicist did such a good job in publicising the event that they received a whopping 2,000 submissions. They anticipate that they will find an author from this process. When submissions are open, they hope that the successful author will have all the necessary skills to be accepted straight away. Though Mary-Ann did say that if they find an author with promise they would be prepared to mentor that author.

A member of the audience asked if they take submissions from non-fiction writers.

They may take one submission from a non-fiction writer, they would be interested in memoir.

So, what did I think about Publishing in The Digital Age?

I’m so glad I went to the talk. I discovered lots of new exciting Literary Fiction, and also I gained some insight into the workings of the submissions process. It was well worth it. If you’re interested in books and/or writing I’d highly recommend attending a Literary Festival, it is inspiring and so much fun.


Sharing Options:

Cambridge Literary Festival: The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson


How many of us would classify ourselves as normal? Is there even such a thing? If there is do we even want to be normal?

Lisa Williamson’s talk at the Cambridge Literary Festival on Saturday 18th April 2015 was held in the Cambridge Union Blue Room. The proceedings were kicked off in very ebullient style by James Dawson, YA author, of several novels including: Say Her Name, Hollow Pike, Cruel Summer, and This Book is Gay. James eloquently set about reminding us that this talk wasn’t about himself but was in fact about Lisa Williamson, the debut author of The Art of Being Normal.

Lisa began her talk by reading the first chapter of her very well received YA novel: The Art of Being Normal. This chapter only consisted of one paragraph and three short lines, but that’s all she needed to capture the audience’s attention:

“One afternoon, when I was eight years old, my class was told to write about what we wanted to be when we grew up. Miss Box went round the class, asking each one of us to stand up and share what we had written. Zachary Olsen wanted to play in the Premier League. Lexi Taylor wanted to be an actress. Henry Beaumont planned on being Prime Minister. Simon Allen wanted to be Harry Potter, so badly that the previous term he had scratched a lightning bolt on to his forehead with a pair of craft scissors.

But  I didn’t want to be any of these things.

This is what I wrote:

I want to be a girl.”

She went on to tell the audience about David, the fourteen year old boy in her novel who is going through puberty. Puberty is difficult enough if you are happy in your body, but if you are a boy who wants to be a girl can you even begin to imagine how difficult that must be? David  befriends a new boy called Leo. They form an unlikely friendship. Leo is a bit rough around the edges, and his background is different from David’s, Leo lives in a council estate. This novel is principally about Transgender but it is also a novel about friendship. It sounds to me as if The Art of Being Normal would appeal to a wide range of young YA enthusiasts, and older people like myself who love to read YA, and appreciate a good story about friendship.

Lisa Williamson is not Transgender so how did she come to write about Transgender issues? She is an actress, acting under the name Lisa Cassidy, you may have seen her in the John Lewis commercial, playing Monty the penguin. Of course acting in this particular commercial didn’t inspire her to write about Transgender, this happened quite by chance. She worked a variety of temporary office jobs until she found herself temping in the NHS Tavistock, in the Gender Identity Department.  This job was a lucky strike. She typed up notes about Transgender kids, and enjoyed it so much that she decided to work full time in this  role.  Through this process Lisa began to realise that Transgender kids are “normal,” that they are “just regular kids,” who are unrepresented in YA literature. This lack of representation is remarkable considering the fact that they are “more common than red hair,” as James Dawson puts it. Lisa was nervous about her workplace reaction, and didn’t tell them at the time that she was writing a book about Transgender.

Lisa didn’t use a real Transgender person’s story rather she assimilated various stories and came up with the character of David. Her writing process started with fleshing out the characters rather than focussing on the workings of the plot. James Dawson remarked that the gruff Leo was his “favourite” character!

Lisa is fascinated with “abandoned places,” and the “bleak seaside,”  and this shows in the choice of some of the locations in The Art of Being Normal.

Without a doubt it has been an amazing experience for this debut author. From listening to her talk one gets the sense of her feeling responsible for the welfare of the Transgender community. She received a message from one reader who said, that I: ” Don’t feel like I need to hide away anymore.” How wonderful to have had that kind of a positive impact on a young person. She hopes that the book will “change your perception,” and that the “book will speak for itself.”

Of course considering the fact that she is not Transgender herself there were bound to be cries of:  “What right does she have to write about this?” But James Dawson argued quite rightly that yes you, “Have to write about characters that are not you.” Who wants to read about themselves? Nobody!

Lisa Williamson’s book was published on the 1st January, so soon after all the excitement of the Christmas festivities. In fact it was such a stressful time that Lisa felt like her eyebrows were falling out, to which James Dawson quipped, that she “can put her eyebrows back on now!”

What about a second book? Somehow this is difficult, the second book is “hell,” there are many pressures, currently she is working on idea six or seven. James Dawson was quick to support her with the encouraging words, ‘Take your time, its fine.” By the time you get to the third book you can relax. No doubt by then, I reckon, Lisa’s eyebrows will have completely recovered their former glory.

An audience member asked about the impact of social media on Transgender kids. Overall both Lisa Williamson and James Dawson seemed to feel that social media is a positive force, and a brilliant resource. This kind of on-line help wasn’t available to young gay men when James Dawson was growing up. Now there is a wealth of on-line resources for authors to connect with and support each other, and for kids to get the help and advice that they need on all sorts of LBGT issues.

Lisa has chosen YA as a means of expression because she loves YA, she believes that YA allows the author to be right there, “pushing boundaries, exploring.” I agree. YA literature showcases a time when everything is fresh and new, but also a time when life is filled with many difficult decisions and issues for the young people she is writing about.

Would the novel have been such a success if it had not been about Transgender issues? Of course the Transgender was a hook, a definite way to get attention, people are fascinated by the unusual, the “unlikely gang,”  as James Dawson puts it. There haven’t been many books on this topic, it is so unrepresented, this is also true of LBGT in general.

Lisa’s Williamson’s talk was thoroughly illuminating. I attended with my two teenage daughters, both of whom enjoyed it very much. At the end we went off to buy a copy of the book, and wondered what to ask Lisa Williamson to write at the book signing. Should we ask her to write all our individual names, or ask her to address it to the Mallon family? That sounded a bit ridiculous Addams family like, so we ended up giggling in YA fashion in the signing queue, and opted for all our names to be added individually. Lisa signed the book with a flourish, and in her black pen she highlighted the word normal in a black rectangular box. Some of us might prefer not to be thought of as “normal,” we might like to be a bit special and unique, but some amongst us are just longing to be “normal” as we can and to fit in. We are all a little different, and deserve to be respected for who we are, regardless of our sexual orientation, gender, transgender, race and religion, and long may it remain so.

About the author (via Goodreads)

Lisa was born in Nottingham in 1980. She spent most of her childhood drawing, daydreaming and making up stories in her head (but never getting round to writing them down). As a teenager she was bitten by the acting bug and at 19 moved to London to study drama at university.

Following graduation, Lisa adopted the stage name of Lisa Cassidy and spent several happy and chaotic years occasionally getting paid to pretend to be other people. Between acting roles she worked as an office temp and started making up stories all over again, only this time she had a go at writing them down.

Lisa lives near Hampstead Heath with her boyfriend Matt, where she is lucky enough to split her time between writing and acting. In her spare time she reads a lot of books, continues to daydream and eats way too much ice cream.

Sharing Options:

My Kyrosmagica Review of Hong Kong Treasure by D. Dominik Wickles


Goodreads synopsis:

Deshi Han, Hong Kong’s biggest martial arts actor and director has a heart of gold. When he rescues a woman with amnesia, he thinks he’s doing her a favor by providing stability while she recovers her memory. Despite his hectic lifestyle, he finds himself letting her into his world until he cannot fathom a life without his Annie.

His dark eyes drank in every inch of her body. She wished it was just the two of them, dancing in his bedroom where they could…

Unable to recall even her own name, Annie, as she’s named by famous Asian actor Deshi Han, accepts his kindness and stays with him while she recovers her health and memory. Fascinated with his life and her new family, she finds international romance in China when the handsome actor offers to comfort her after nightmares give rise to fears that a stranger is watching.

What would happen when her memory returned? Would he send her away? Would he make love to her if he would be sending her away soon? Did it really mean so little to him? Did she?

When Annie’s health becomes questionable and she tells Deshi she’s afraid that someone from her past is watching her, things unravel between the actor and his American princess until he discovers her gone from his bed, confirming his worst fears. Will he be able to protect Annie from the danger lurking in his immediate camp and claim her as his Hong Kong treasure?

About romance author D. Dominik Wickles
D. Dominik Wickles has always had a love for the written word and never goes anywhere without a book to read. After earning her BA from Mercyhurst University she began more than a decade of teaching computer classes and editing newsletters. Writing fiction gives voice to her more creative side. Her passion for writing gave birth to Hong Kong Treasure, a romance love story with a little mystery and action thrown in for good measure. Ms. Wickles lives on the Lake Erie shore with her husband, two sons, and a very spoiled feline. In her spare time, she likes camping with her family, and building and decorating dollhouses.


My review:

I’m delighted to say that I won a signed Blog Anniversary paperback copy of Hong Kong Treasure, D. Dominik Wickle’s, debut novel, which she kindly posted to me all the way from the States. Hong Kong Treasure appealed to me as I spent my early childhood in Hong Kong and I love to read books set in the Far East. Also I enjoy books that explore martial arts, oh and food, and the references to Chinese food and dim sum are a delight! Hong Kong Treasure is one of those books that you read as a “guilty pleasure.” It has a fair amount of romance, mystery, and a touch of much appreciated sauciness, which keeps you entertained, but not so much that you would be embarrassed reading it in public.

I did enjoy the concept of Hong Kong Treasure but I wanted more! More description of all the wonderful places that Deshi took his American princess too, and I have to say a little less shopping, but that’s just me! I’m more of a culture vulture than a shopping gal. There is a substantial amount of dialogue in the novel, and shorter descriptive passages. The descriptions could possibly have been given more priority at times, particularly as the locations in the novel are amazing.

Annie is a  young American woman who Deshi takes home after a typhoon has robbed her of all traces of memory. Deshi is a workaholic film maker, with a kind heart. He is dedicated to his charity work and has never let any woman take centre stage before now. Unexpectedly Annie appears turning his ordered world upside down. His two closest female companions respond to this intrusion in differing ways, his trusted aide, Jun, hates her and does everything she can to get rid of her,  and his mother welcomes her wholeheartedly into her house. Annie ends up sleeping in Deshi’s bed and amazingly Deshi manages to control himself for quite some time before he gives into her allure. Quite the gentleman.  But soon that is all in the past and he can’t keep his hands off her, and she can’t keep her hands off him. As well as the blossoming romance I enjoyed the chit chat and the developing friendship between Annie and her new found Chinese friend, Mei.

So on the whole a nice romantic read but there are a few points I would like to make:

I would have liked to have seen another side to Annie, she comes across a little bit stereotypical,  a “damsel in distress,” with Deshi being very much the “Alpha male.” She learns Kung Fu but doesn’t use it, which is fine in the beginning of the novel, and even quite amusing when she finds herself at the mercy of the Mong Kok area notorious for Triad gangs and feels guilty about leaving her rescuer alone: “But could she leave him to handle the gang alone? Not that she’d be much good in a fight, she’d only had four Kung Fu lessons. Somehow she didn’t think they’d be frightened off by the solidness of her stance.” Though later she encourages her bodyguard Tommy to leave her unguarded with the words, “How many Kung Fu lessons have I had? I can take on anyone.” Yet, she doesn’t put this into practice when her threatening father in law turns up, instead she whimpers rather than trying out her Kung Fu on him! This is also true of the Cantonese that she studies, as far as I could see she doesn’t try to speak to Deshi in his mother tongue. One of the characters, Paul, an employee of Deshi has a habit of smoothing his moustache which becomes a bit repetitive after a while. The pace of the novel picks up towards the end but I would have preferred that this excitement could have built up a little earlier. Annie finally showed what she was more than just a timid American princess right towards the end, saying no more, I don’t want to spoil it for you. The novel ends on a light-hearted positive note, and the general tone of the novel is cheerful.

In conclusion, D.Dominik’s Hong Kong Treasure’s setting is wonderful, taking the reader on a journey to the Far East, briefly visiting delights such as the Jade Buddha Temple,  the Great Wall of China,  and the bustling city of Hong Kong, with its scary triad Mong Konk area. Overall I have rated it a 3 star romance read. If you like a light-hearted quick read with a touch of romance, this is the one for you.

After I finished reading Hong Kong Treasure I began to imagine what it would be like if this little book was turned into a film. Somehow, I can see that there are elements that would work very well in that medium. I can just visualise the colour of Hong Kong, the wonderful locations, the romance, the Kung Fu, the Tai Chi, the cultural references,  the mystery and the potential threat would keep an audience entertained, as would the East/West romance between Deshi and Annie, so who knows. Watch this space! I have a tendency to be a bit psychic sometimes!

Good luck, I hope you have much success with your debut novel, Diane, it has been a pleasure to review it for you.

D. Dominik Wickles WordPress Blog :

Have you read Hong Kong Treasure?  Do leave a comment I’d love to hear from you.


Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx

Sharing Options:

My Friday Post: Spring in the Woods


This Friday I thought I’d take you with me on a walk in my neighbouring Country Park woods, they are so beautiful and I regret that I don’t often take a moment to stop and really marvel at the beauty that is right on my doorstep. When the children were little we were always at the swing park, indulging in the delights of sunny picnics. But now my youngest daughter wouldn’t be seen there with her mother! That would be so embarrassing for her. She is fifteen so it’s to be expected! If she still wanted to hang out with me, I’d be wondering what was wrong. So, undaunted I decided to go on my own on Tuesday. Yes, I did just that, and was so glad that I did. It was a beautiful sunny day. Everyone was out enjoying the sunshine, eating ice creams, children were playing in the park, office workers were sneaking out for a crafty short break, and who could blame them? It was a glorious Spring day. I hadn’t realised just how warm it was and I was overdressed, in fact there were a few young men stripped to the waist, sunbathing, enjoying the sunshine. Definitely brightened up my day! I was tempted to snap them too, with a camera of course, but wasn’t sure how they would react so I’m afraid I only photographed the trees, a monument, and some cheeky shadows!


Have a wonderful Friday, hope the sun is shining wherever you are. Enjoy your weekend.

Please feel free to connect, I love to talk about books, writing, haiku, photography, food, art, theatre, you name it, anything cultural and fun,  I’m there.

Twitter @Marjorie_Mallon

and here:


and here:


and here!



Bye for now.

Marje @ Kyrosmagica. xx

Sharing Options:

Haiku Prompt Challenge #40 New and Time



RonovanWrites Weekly #Haiku #Poetry Prompt Challenge #40 New&Time


This weeks Haiku Prompt challenge from Ronovan Writes really appeals to me as I have a bit of a fascination with time. Time always seems a thoughtful, contemplative topic to me so both of my haikus are more serious in nature.  The first haiku ends on an a more positive yet sad note with – new life replaces old, as opposed to new life surrenders. It’s amazing where a few lines of haiku can make your mind drift off to! Quite unintentional, but interesting how both of my haikus end.

Below is my photo of the Corpus Christi Clock in Cambridge, a popular tourist attraction. My first haiku is inspired by this weird and wonderful timepiece.

New Life Replaces Old

Clock ticks on gossamer wings

Time runs its cruel rollercoaster ride

New life replaces old


Clock ticks on gossamer wings, time runs its cruel rollercoaster ride.

Time runs its cruel rollercoaster ride, new life replaces old.

Now on to my second haiku:

New Life Surrenders



The parched land crumbles

Time can’t wait for falling rain

New life surrenders


The parched land crumbles, time can’t wait for falling rain.

Time can’t wait for falling rain, new life surrenders.


© Marjorie Mallon 2015 – aka, Kyrosmagica.
Words good or bad, are my very own!

Sharing Options:

My Kyrosmagica Review of The Name of The Star by Maureen Johnson


Goodreads Synopsis:

The day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London marks a memorable occasion. For Rory, it’s the start of a new life at a London boarding school. But for many, this will be remembered as the day a series of brutal murders broke out across the city, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper events of more than a century ago.

Soon “Rippermania” takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him. Even her roommate, who was walking with her at the time, didn’t notice the mysterious man. So why can only Rory see him? And more urgently, why has Rory become his next target? In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, full of suspense, humor, and romance, Rory will learn the truth about the secret ghost police of London and discover her own shocking abilities.

My review:

I’ve been meaning to read this novel for ages. I was delighted to listen to Maureen Johnson, and Leigh Bardugo at the Edinburgh International Book Festival last August talking about Alternative Worlds. In fact there is a write up of this wonderful event on my blog on the 25th of August under the heading Author interviews and Talks. So check that out.

In my opinion The Name of The Star, (The Shades of London #),  really captures the reader’s imagination about half way through the story. Up until the half way mark it’s a little slow, bogged down by the detail of introducing the setting and the characters. But, on the whole it is quite an engaging story, and Maureen does a great job keeping us entertained with her little witticisms. Luckily the pace livens up in the second half of the novel,  and elements of the story are revealed that make it a much more exciting tale, so watch out for that! I would say the writing style is not complex, it is more middle grade, yet the topic is YA, which makes it an easy, fast read.

Rory is from Louisiana but has been sent to Wexford Academy, a boarding school in London. Despite the culture shock, Rory settles into Wexford without too much difficulty. Although she does feel somewhat challenged by the emphasis on sport, particularly hockey. Still, everything else seems to be going well, and she likes her new roommate Jazza.  Her boarding school happens to be in the same area that was terrorized by Jack the Ripper in 1888. Weirdly it seems as if Jack is back in town, and wants to greet Rory. “It was as if the news itself wanted to reassure me. Even Jack the Ripper himself had reappeared as part of the greeting committee.” There are CCTV cameras all over London, yet this isn’t deterring someone from carrying out copy cat Jack The Ripper murders.  With the murders comes a new flat mate, Boo, who seems very different from Rory’s flatmate Jazza, and everything begins to change. I liked Maureen’s choice of name, Boo, for Rory’s new flat mate, very witty!

It’s a new twist on the Jack The Ripper story and on the whole it works well. The characters are well crafted, particularly Rory, the main female character, and for the most part the story line is believable, (bearing in mind that this is about ghosts!) Though, I did wonder a bit about the method used to zap the ghosts into oblivion possibly this stretched the powers of believability a bit. Though, Maureen Johnson likes to be humorous so maybe she was thinking of changing channels on her TV when she came up with the idea! No, more about that, I don’t want to spoil it for you. The book appears to be well researched, you get the sense that Maureen Johnson tiptoed around London snooping around to find out all she could about the various parts of London where Jack the Ripper struck.

There is a touch of romance in the story, Jerome the love interest, seems to be obsessed with Jack the Ripper, in fact he encourages Rory to sneak out of Wexford through a broken window, to  a roof top vantage point at Aldshot,  hoping to see something. Jerome sounds a bit daft, and fool-hardy, typical teenage boy material. Later on the way back Rory does indeed see something, or possibly someone, but her flat mate does not, adding to the mystery. I had the sense that Maureen Johnson didn’t intend that this romance was to play a big part in the novel, in a way it seemed to be a bit of light-hearted relief for Rory, a snog with obsessive Jerome, seemed to take her mind of the Ripper’s devilish plans. You can’t blame the poor girl.  If you are looking for a well developed romance this isn’t it, this feels more like a bit of a light-hearted temporary diversion, with a very satisfactory snog as a compensation.“Kissing is something that makes up for a lot of other crap you have to put up with…It can be confusing and weird and awkward, but sometimes it just makes you melt and forget everything that is going on.”

Favourite quotes:

“Fear can’t hurt you,” she said. “When it washes over you, give it no power. It’s a snake with no venom. Remember that. That knowledge can save you.”

“And if we get caught, I will claim I made you go. At gunpoint. I am American. People will assume I’m armed.”

“I decided to deflect her attitude by giving a long, Southern answer. I come from people who know how to draw things out. Annoy a Southerner, and we will drain away the moments of your life with our slow, detailed replies until you are nothing but a husk of your former self and that much closer to death.”

“The English play hockey in any weather. Thunder, lightening, plague of locusts…nothing can stop the hockey. Do not fight the hockey, for the hockey will win.”

“Walk really, really carefully. It’s not complicated, but if you mess up, you’ll die, so pay attention.”

“It was almost funny. Life seemed downright accidental in its brevity, and death a punch line to a lousy joke.”

“Something about her suggested that her leisure activities included wrestling large woodland animals and banging bricks together.”

Recommended for readers of Young Adult, Mystery, Paranormal, Historical Fiction, Horror.

My rating:

4 stars – The beginning is a bit slow probably a 3.5 star beginning but it picked up pace so I award it 4 stars overall.


Have you read The Name of The Star? Do leave a comment I’d love to hear from you.


Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx

Sharing Options:

Powered by

Up ↑