Fantastic Reviews! The Curse of Time Series: Golden Healer and Bloodstone #Reviews #YA #Contemporary #Fantasy #Series

I’m thrilled to announce that there have been some fantastic new reviews recently for Golden Healer and Bloodstone. I’ve been so thrilled with the latest review for Golden Healer that I created a graphic on Canva to share the news!

The latest 5 star review of Golden Healer from Sheila, author S C Skillman rocks! Many thanks to Sheila and all the reviewers for taking the time to read and review.

Sheila

5.0 out of 5 stars Captivated by the surreal events and powers of this magic story Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 3 May 2022

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Having read the first book in this trilogy, I had a number of questions about the world of magic MJ Mallon had conjured up in this tale of Amelina and the spiritual and mystical powers she faces, both positive and negative. Golden Healer answered several of my questions and clarified Amelina’s world for me. It opened up realms both terrifying and beautiful, as Amelina journeys on, aided by her allies, and threatened by repugnant spirits.

I am captivated by MJ Mallon’s descriptive writing which dazzles the reader; and she truly develops the potential of her imaginative ideas: chocolates that cast spells; a bossy front doormat; a magic paintbrush that can create illness through a white icy mist over a portrait; the Grasshopper who steals time; a magical environment that can open up your worst nightmares or your most enchanted dreams. Packed with surreal events and powers, this story is often a mind-bending read.

I found myself drawn in by Amelina and her predicament, navigating her parents, her quirky aunt Karissa who bestows dangerous magical gifts, her friends Jade, Ilaria and Joselyn; the tragic and fascinating Esme, trapped in the mirror; and the evil Ryder, Shadow Sorcerer, who appears so charismatic and charming on the surface to others.

I was intrigued by the changing viewpoints within the story: mostly first person in the mind of Amelina, but at one point in the viewpoint of her father Mark, and then switching to third person near the end.
The idea of the Crystal Cottage continues to fascinate me, and the law that states “only spiritual and magical individuals may approach the crystals safely.” A true Krystallos of the mightiest power, we learn, must be female, intuitive, a fierce protector, and kind of heart. This role is Amelina’s. Her aunt Karissa is an Ice Krystallos and her father Mark a Fire Krystallos.

Alongside the magical dimension in the story we are carried forward in the real world of school life and volatile emotions and shifting relationships between the teenagers: Emily and Jade, both infatuated with the handsome Ryder; the new rapport Amelina discovers with Kyle; and the conflict this creates with Esme, over her own feelings for Kyle.

There is intense jeopardy in this story for Amelina; gifted with the master crystal Golden Healer, she receives the power to transform everything, right all wrongs and overcome evil; but only at great peril to herself. The risk is high in this treacherous spiritual realm; will she make the right choice?

I also loved the beautiful and cryptic ‘tanka’ poetry that opens each chapter, which is described as a ‘puzzle piece’.

With a dramatic and truly disturbing end, MJ Mallon’s readers can only wait in dread and hope for the final book of the trilogy!

Buying Link for Golden Healer:

Buy Link: https://books2read.com/u/mgjY67

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/60216858-golden-healer

And Fabulous reviews for Bloodstone…

Mike Kernan

5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating and compelling Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 24 March 2022

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I’ll start with a confession – this is the kind of book I would normally run a mile from. But I ended up loving it and that is a tribute to the skill and imagination of the author.

The whole otherworldly realm of fantasy and magic and special powers and talking animals and general disregard for the rules of reality is just not my bag. Bloodstone has all of that in abundance – a magic paint set, power-giving crystals, a house with a personality, a character trapped in mirrors, a cat that may not be a chatterbox but definitely feels more human than feline. Never mind the author’s trigger warnings for her young readers, I had plenty of my own.

And yet, within the first few pages I found myself sucked into the life of Amelina along with her strange, disturbed family and their equally bizarre surroundings. I remained captivated throughout because when you put genre aside, what you have here is a terrific tale written with pace and insight, and compelling characters you cannot help but care about for better or worse.

Amelina is such a believable teenager – vulnerable yet brave, lost at times, bold at other times. Ryder is a puzzle – is he the hero he appears to be on the surface or is there something darker lurking there? Esme is the one you will want to save and protect. Watching over it all, the enigmatic Shadow.

I was quickly won over by the way the oddness of the characters and the set-up was acknowledged. On the rare occasions when I have dipped my toe into the fantasy genre, a big gripe has been the way the reader is expected to accept outlandish concepts as just the way things are (or perhaps that’s just me). But right there, on the opening page, Amelina is almost wearily hinting that she is the normal one – perhaps the only normal one – in her strange existence.

I can see how Bloodstone would not only entertain young adults but make them think about important issues, like how you can be surrounded by people yet still feel lonely, how you should look out for others who might be struggling, how people aren’t always what they seem. But a major strength of the book is that these powerful messages are not waved in the reader’s face but drip fed gently without getting in the way of the story.

I only read Bloodstone because it was recommended in a book group and I have learned a little about the author, but it has shown me the value of getting out of your reading comfort zone once in a while.

Sim S

5.0 out of 5 stars A GEM of a storyReviewed in the United Kingdom on 10 April 2022

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Bloodstone is book one in the Curse of Time series. I was drawn in by the amazing cover art and the intriguing title.

This book is full of whimsy, magic, and mythology—giving me strong Philip Pullman, Frank L. Baum, and Lewis Carroll vibes. It kind of reminded me of films like The Labyrinth or Never Ending Story with that sense of alternate reality.

The story can be quite “trippy” at times with the main character, Amelina’s many dreams and hallucinations. You definitely have to suspend all belief and logic when reading, and just let the story take you. Because of this I did find parts hard to digest.

However, there was consistency throughout and that was Mallon’s writing. The writing itself was clear despite the story jumping in parts, and the addition of poetry and lyrics made it a different and more artistic read. Almost as if it were a piece of Amelina’s art itself.

It’s clear a lot of research went into this story too with the many references to folk lore, art, and crystals. And for that it’s impossible not to give Mallon 5 stars.

If you like magic and fantasy, this is one for you.
It also leave plenty of questions for the follow up.

Julia Sutton

Mar 20, 2022 Julia Sutton rated it it was amazing

AN ENCHANTING FIVE STAR READ

Bloodstone is a fantasy novel aimed at the Young Adult market. I’ve read and enjoyed quite a few Young Adults books but I’ve never read within the fantasy genre before. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

It tells the tale of 15 year old Amelina who lives with her parents and her cat in a melancholy household. Her father vanished for years and since his sudden reappearance seems devoid of joy or happiness and her irate secretive mother seems unable to face up to what is happening around her.
Amelina’s only solace seems to be in her music and crystals. This is one girls quest to overcome the problems within her family and restore harmony within her world.

On her journey we meet a variety of magical characters. There is Esme, a girl trapped within the mirror, an enigmatic boy called Ryder who Amelina finds herself drawn too and an elderly woman who lives in an enchanted Crystal Cottage. Added to this unusual mix are her 3 school friends. They all have a part to play in Amelina’s destiny but appearances can be deceptive and Amelina soon realises that some characters may not be as altruistic as she first thought.

This is a very well written novel. The author certainly has a flair with description and the imagery is beautiful. Bloodstone is also very interesting, I found myself mesmerised by the storyline. I particularly liked how the author has woven her own concepts of fantasy and magic, combining them with references to popular myths and legends. There are moments within this novel which were completely surreal, it reminded me of Alice In Wonderland and there is a poetic, almost dreamlike quality to the writing.

As well as brilliantly highlighting teenage emotions, it also explores the complexities of friendship, and the introspective narrative touches on topical mental health issues.

Bloodstone is a very impressive debut novel. I would highly recommend it for anyone who wants an original, magical read. Five stars from me.

Lynda Checkley

4.0 out of 5 stars Good YA fantasy/Magic bookReviewed in the United Kingdom on 15 May 2022

This is the first in The Curse of Time series a YA fantasy/magic book and it’s safe to say I’ve never read this genre before. It took me a while to get into it as my common sense head kept kicking in but, about one third of the way in, I realised I was page turning wanting to know what happened next. It’s very well written with an interesting cast of characters led by 15 year old Amelina Scott who lives with her parents, a black cat and Esme, a girl who lives in the mirrors in their home in Cambridge. Yes you read that right!

Briefly, Amelina’s father has returned home after being missing for some time but he is changed and they are no longer the happy family they were before. Amelina wants to find out the truth about her fathers disappearance and the change in her parents personalities. On her journey she meets attractive Ryder, but is he what he seems to be? As she realises that she has unusual powers her understanding of her family situation grows.

As well as the fantasy elements such as potent crystals and a magical paintbox given to her by her Aunt, some real issues such as toxic relationships, mental health and self harm are addressed but are dealt with in a sensitive manner. I’m still not 100% convinced that fantasy is for me but I really did enjoy this book and I will make further forays into this genre. My last word, I know this is classified as YA but I’m more OAP so it’s definitely an adult read as well. Oh and my last last word I just love the cover of this book ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Chanatkins

4.0 out of 5 stars Fast-paced magical fun Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 29 April 2022

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I found this to be an action-packed, fast-paced, thoroughly enjoyable read. I think all ages will get something from this book, and it’s a great start to a series. Amelina is an interesting teenage protagonist who lives in a house surrounded by mysteries. What happened to her dad when he mysteriously disappeared, and why was he so altered and strange when he reappeared? Why is there a girl trapped inside the mirrors of the house? And who is the enigmatic Ryder? As well as trying to survive and solve these mysteries, Amelina must also contend with the usual teenage angst and drama, such as not getting on with her mother and worrying about fitting in with her friends. A great read with plenty set up for the next book!

Thank you so much!

Also my publisher Next Chapter is featuring Bloodstone in the Contemporary Fantasy eBook category on their blog: https://www.nextchapter.pub/blog/new-fantasy-ebooks

And… some news. Since, I have now joined Tiktok I have now decided to add all my social media and buying links to one place. This is a work in progress but have added most of my links now: https://linktr.ee/mjmallonauthor

Multiple Platform Buy Link Bloodstone – in kindle, paperback, hardback.

https://books2read.com/u/bOyrgW

Audiobook

UK: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Bloodstone-Audiobook/B09SK9GFB1/

US: https://www.audible.com/author/M-J-Mallon/B074CGNK4L

If any of my blog readers would like a free copy of either book or an audiobook of Bloodstone, ( I have a limited amount of free codes,) please let me know. Always looking for new reviews!

Professional Review copies of Bloodstone available here:

ProlificWorks Giveawayhttps://claims.prolificworks.com/free/zamECb9a

BookSweeps Reader Magnethttps://www.booksweeps.com/free-ebooks/bloodstone-the-curse-of-time-book-1/

BookSweeps Sweephttps://www.booksweeps.com/join/bloodstone-the-curse-of-time-book-1/

StoryOrigin Reader Magnethttps://storyoriginapp.com/giveaways/59f339e0-bae0-11ec-9429-03bc8087bcb0

StoryOrigin Review Copy Linkhttps://storyoriginapp.com/reviewcopies/f019203e-badf-11ec-bf98-f3e3906b0f3a

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MJ’s Book Reviews: Fortune’s Well, Book One Hangman’s Cottage by Chantelle Atkins and Sim Alec Sansford @Chanatkins #book #review

Book Synopsis

In the town of Fortune’s Well a dangerous storm is brewing, and two unsuspecting teenagers are standing right at the heart of it.

For JJ Carson, life has not been easy. His father is dead, his mother arrested for the murder, and he has been forced to live on the farm with his alcoholic uncle, Henry. Just when things could not get any worse, JJ discovers his living situation is not the only thing that makes him different from the other kids. A dark, swirling mist has made itself at home inside him and it is slowly changing him from the inside out.

Enter Darcie Duffield. Beautiful, popular, and incredibly misunderstood. Darcie is sick of the status quo and wants to make a difference. After a chance meeting with a strange boy at the river she becomes tangled in a web of lies and deceit as she tries to help save him from the darkness lurking within.

Why is this happening?
Where has it come from?
And why is Darcie the only one who can see it? 

Book Review

Fortune’s Well, Book One: Hangman’s Revenge by Sim Alec Sansford

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars


This is 100% my kind of read! There were parts where this story was amazing and shone bright! The premise was simple but effective. I couldn’t stop reading and wanting to know what happened next. I loved the character of unpopular loner JJ, and popular, rich girl Darcie and how they are drawn together due to both being misfits who have suffered the loss of a dear family member. They are something else!

The eerie jar metaphor as ‘the empty,’ was an intriguing start to the story… but believe me there was a lot more going on… and midway the story really comes into its own. Actually, this is when my interest went wowser!

There are also mentions of ‘the sight,’ empathetic characters, and oouji boards. The book tackles pertinent and meaningful topics: bullying, eating disorders, mental health, sexual assault, etc, in an understanding way, feeding these themes into the storyline seamlessly.

The shifting dual point of view between JJ and Darcie took a while for me to get used to. But was fine when I did. And there were times in certain brief moments, when I disconnected a little. But there were also brilliant scenes particularly with regard to the eerie cottage when the darkness consumes, and the hangman appears when the story took flight and I could visualise it like an exciting reel in my head! Wow! I could see it visually which is unusual and a great indicator that this story has something special.

And… the developing love story between JJ and Darcie is so super cute, but even better because it has potential setbacks. At that young age emotions run high and setbacks are compulsory! Interested to see what happens to this pair next!

The ending came in two parts with dramatic and shocking set up and calmer lead in for book two. Curious to find out what happens next!

My recommendation. Read this, these two authors, Chantelle Atkins and Sim Alec Sansford are both fantastic! I’ve read their work before and can recommend.

Their writing pairing has something special!

Overall 4.5 stars.



View all my reviews – Goodreads

View all my reviews – Bookstagram

Authors Websites:

ChantelleAtkins.com

SimAlecSansford.com

Books2Read.com/HangmansRevenge (ebooks)

mybook.to/HangmansRevenge (paperback)

AUTHOR SOCIAL MEDIA DETAILS

Authors Website: https://mjmallon.com
Authors Amazon Pagehttps://www.amazon.co.uk/M-J-Mallon/e/B074CGNK4L
Next Chapter Publishing Author Page: https://www.nextchapter.pub/authors/mj-mallon
Twitter: @Marjorie_Mallon https://twitter.com/Marjorie_Mallon 

#ABRSC – Authors Bloggers Rainbow Support Club on Facebook
Goodreads:https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17064826.M_J_Mallon

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/m-j-mallon 

Tiktok: https://www.tiktok.com/@mjmallonauthor

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mjmallonauthor/

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Blog Tour – 26th May: The Last Princess by Shelley Wilson @BHCPressBooks @ShelleyWilson72 #netgalley #review #excerpt #author #interview

Welcome to my blog, Shelley. This is such an enticing read. I love the title and the cover is gorgeous!  

Thank you so much, Marje. I’m thrilled to be here and able to share Edith’s story with you. The cover is a firm favourite of mine too!

I’d love to find out more about The Last Princess, so let’s chat…

  1. Tell us a little about your background, your life today and how you came to writing.

Like many of my fellow author pals, I’ve been writing stories since I could hold a pencil. As a youngster, I used to write and illustrate a story and then bind it into a book using old wallpaper scraps and string. I think my future was mapped out back then!

I first saw my name in print at 13 when my letter was published in Jackie magazine. Seeing my name in print was an incredible feeling and I think that was the moment I knew I wanted to be an author. However, it would take until I was in my forties for me to get my act together.

In 2014 I self-published my debut book which was a non-fiction title (I worked in the mind, body, spirit industry at the time) called How I Changed My Life in a Year. Thanks to the fabulous support and reviews of the book blogging community it shot up the Amazon charts to number one in self-help and women’s biographies. That book really has changed my life!

I’m an avid networker in my local area and an associate for a women’s business network. As I used each event to introduce myself and my books I began getting asked how I got started writing my books and how I published them. Through the network, I was asked repeatedly to run workshops and speak at events. Over time this grew into my writing mentor business where I help women in business write their own non-fiction books and blogs to boost their brand.

My dream of writing for a living became a reality as I fill my days writing my own novels and helping my clients with their word counts.

  • What do you think are the most important qualities of a female heroine?

Great question! The answer may differ for each of us as we all have unique core values that drive us. For me, it’s authenticity, vulnerability, and loyalty. These qualities are important to me in my real life and so I like to see the same in a heroine.

  • As it is a historical tale what sort of research did you do for this particular novel?

As soon as I knew I was going to write this book I began reading anything I could get my hands on about Vikings. I’ve always been fascinated by this period so it wasn’t a hardship to immerse myself in the sagas and legends.

The Last Princess is based in Bamburgh, Northumberland, and also Hedeby (once a vital Danish trading settlement at the southeastern base of the Jutland Peninsula, and now in Germany). I couldn’t visit Germany thanks to a certain pandemic, but I did drive up to Bamburgh a couple of times to visit the area. It certainly brings a story to life if you can stand in the exact spot your character stands in.

I also took a trip to the Jorvik centre in York which is a great day out if you’re ever in the area.

  • I’m curious, what attracts you to writing YA Fiction?

In 2004 I left a violent marriage and started to rebuild my life. My reading had taken a back seat for so long that I didn’t know what I enjoyed anymore. I couldn’t read romance or crime as these genres were too raw for me at that time, so what could I turn to?

Wandering through Waterstones I came across the teen fiction section. I’ve always loved fantasy, supernatural, myths, and legends (The Folk of the Faraway Tree and The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe are firm favourites), so when I picked up Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater and read the blurb about werewolves I was hooked. I’m not sure if I enjoy the fast pace, the honesty (no subject is taboo), or the coming of age aspect which allows me to turn back time, but I know I found a genre I adored.

The more I read, the more story ideas began to bubble up. Having three children who were then rapidly approaching their teens also helped me secure my place in writing YA.

  • What were the hardest, most challenging parts to write? And why?

As you know, I’m a fantasy fan so I love making stuff up. When I decided to use real places, refer to real people, and other historical references I knew I had to get it right. I also needed to find the balance between history and fiction.

Writing The Last Princess was a passion project as I researched timelines and decided how to fit Edith’s story into real-life events. I didn’t want to recite facts and figures, but I did want the reader to feel like they were part of the action. The challenge was how much reality to include. In the end, I only referred to historical figures such as Ivar the Boneless and Alfred rather than integrating them into the thick of the story.

I hope it worked, eek!

  • I believe you also write non-fiction too. Would you recommend it? And why?

Non-fiction was my big break into writing so it will always hold a special place in my heart. I’m a fully qualified holistic therapist, Reiki Master Teacher, crystal healer, and meditation tutor, and writing about these topics was my way of reaching and helping more people.

I used non-fiction self-help and personal development books to help me piece my life back together and I see the power in books of this genre all the time.

My writing mentor clients tend to write books based on their business coaching programmes, leadership, business development, and wellbeing. There are so many topics you can write about that will help your audience, and position you as an authority.

If you’ve got a non-fiction book idea then it’s definitely worth exploring.

  • Why Vikings? And which actor/s would you cast to write the main/various male part/s? Or female parts! 

Why Vikings? Aside from my fascination with the Viking age I also discovered a tenuous link between Vikings and my ancestors. A few years ago I did the Ancestry DNA test where you spit in a tube and send it off for analysis. The data that comes back is incredible. According to my DNA, I’m 38% Scandinavian! So, obviously, I’m descended from shield maidens! 😉

It was this DNA result that inspired the entire book as I let my mind wander to the possibilities of who my ancestors could have been. Genealogy is a wonderful tool for writing inspiration.

At a talk I gave recently one of the questions from the audience was ‘do you cast actors when thinking up your characters?’ This is something I do with all my books as I find it helps bring the story to life for me, although I tend to choose images of actors when they were younger so they probably couldn’t play a seventeen-year-old if Netflix came knocking!!

In The Last Princess, I cast Lyndsy Fonseca as Edith and Greyston Holt as Leif, with Laura Donnelly as Solveig, Rune Temte as Jarl Aaric, and Rossif Sutherland as Aelle.

  • I believe you have a camper van. Where do you like to go? What adventures have you had whilst out travelling?

Buying Snoopy (yes, it’s the law to name your camper) was the best decision I’ve ever made. It took me twenty years to manifest him but I got there in the end. Since picking him up in August 2020 I’ve been to Staffordshire, the Lake District, Norfolk, Edinburgh, Wales, Somerset, Warwickshire, and Northumberland. Snoopy accompanied me on my research trips for The Last Princess.

There’s something special about packing up your laptop and writing on the road!

Thank you so much for letting me share my writing journey and The Last Princess with your lovely blog readers, Marje.

My pleasure Shelley.

If anyone wants to connect with me then here are my links:

Author website: https://shelleywilsonauthor.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FantasyAuthorSLWilson/

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/ShelleyWilson72

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authorslwilson/

Publisher: https://www.bhcpress.com/Author_SL_Wilson.html 

The Last Princess, is out on 24th May 2022, published by BHC Press Books.

The Last Princess Blurb

Northumbria, 866 AD

Edith still has much to learn about the art of ruling a kingdom, but when her family is murdered, she’s faced with the challenge of staying alive. 

As a young woman in Anglo-Saxon England, Edith finds it hard to be heard above the Eldermen who are ripping the kingdom to pieces, but nothing can prepare her for the arrival of the pirates and the Vikings. Torn from her homeland and sold into slavery, she’s determined to survive at any cost. 

Finding allies in the unexpected and enemies closer to home, Edith clings to her dream of returning home one day to reclaim her throne and to exact revenge on those who harmed her family.

BUY your copy of The Last Princess

BHC Press – https://www.bhcpress.com/Books_Wilson_The_Last_Princess.html 

Amazon UK 

Amazon US 

Barnes & Noble 

Waterstones 

Google Play 

Kobo 

Apple Books 

MJ’s Review

Well, after reading the blurb and seeing the beautiful cover I had a feeling I would love this story. And I was right.

This is such a compelling tale of bravery, love, friendship, family, disloyalty, greed, slaves and vikings! Everyone loves a good viking story… who could not? There is passion, war, fight scenes, sword wielding and shield maidens! Yes, women are fierce too. And, I liked the finer touches of this story too… the details of viking marriage ceremonies. It is obvious that Shelley Wilson has researched with care and this is evident in her descriptive passages, and the finer details.

In my opinion, the story really comes into its own as it progresses. I’d say the beginning had me wondering a little… My initial uncertainty was perhaps not quite enough emotion at the beginning given the terrors of what happened to the heroine Edith. But, in the midst of such terror perhaps there is not much time to pause and reflect. This is a time period when such experiences, death is all to common I suppose. So, this slight hiccup, which pulled me momentarily out of the story is soon swept away by the brilliance of the storytelling. Everything thereafter is captivating A real page turner, I loved this.

My rating… 4. 5 stars from me.

About the Author

Shelley is an English multi-genre author. She has written nine young adult/middle-grade supernatural, fantasy, and historical novels, a children’s meditation book, and six motivational self-help titles for adults.

She is a proud mum of three and lives in the West Midlands, UK. Shelley loves travelling in her VW camper called Snoopy in search of stories. She also enjoys paddle boarding, Tudor and Viking history, supporting Leeds United, and obsessing over to-do lists!

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MJ’s Book Reviews: What’s In A Name by Sally Cronin @sgc58 #Book #Review #Shortstories #Recommended

Book Synopsis:

There are names that have been passed down through thousands of years which have powerful and deep-rooted meaning to their bearers. Other names have been adopted from other languages, cultures and from the big screen. They all have one thing in common. They are with us from birth until the grave and they are how we are known to everyone that we meet.

There are classical names such as Adam, David and Sarah that will grace millions of babies in the future. There are also names that parents have invented or borrowed from places or events in their lives which may last just one lifetime or may become the classic names of tomorrow.

Whatever the name there is always a story behind it. In What’s in a Name? – Volume One, twenty men and women face danger, love, loss, romance, fear, revenge and rebirth as they move through their lives.

Anne changes her name because of associations with her childhood, Brian carries the mark of ancient man, Jane discovers that her life is about to take a very different direction, and what is Isobel’s secret? 

What’s in a Name? by Sally Cronin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I really enjoyed this short story collection. it’s different from others taking a person’s name as the starting point for creating a story. There is a wide range of variety in this collection but all share one thing in common: these are about life, love and humanity. The range of topics in the stories will appeal to all from amusing, sad, emotional to happy stories. There is even a story about a nun, Celia, leaving her calling which remained with me a long time after reading. The twists at the end of the stories were entertaining too, especially loved the one in ‘George!’ and ‘Isobel.’

Another favourite of mine was ‘Clive,’ about a boy taking a walk in the tropics and walking into a whole lot of trouble – the little ‘un meets a cobra! But, the moment when the boy and cobra look into each others’ eyes is just priceless. Loved it. Cobras are not that uncommon a sight in the tropics, my mum’s step mum came face-to-face with one too! And, in ‘Eric,’ you’ll smile at the tale of a widower who learns to live again through his cat, Doris. in ‘Grace,’ the moving yarn of a young girl in an orphanage ticked all the boxes for me. And the tale of the drunk driver and ‘Hannah,’ was fantastic.

Highly recommended to short story enthusiasts and to all who enjoy well written tales.





View all my reviews

Author Bio:

Sally Cronin is the author of fifteen books including her memoir Size Matters: Especially when you weigh 330lb first published in 2001. This has been followed by another fourteen books both fiction and non-fiction including multi-genre collections of short stories and poetry.

Her latest release, Life is Like a Mosaic: Random fragments in harmony is a collection of 50 + images and poems on life, nature, love and a touch of humour.

As an author she understands how important it is to have support in marketing books and offers a number of FREE promotional opportunities in the Café and Bookstore on her blog and across her social media.

Her podcast shares book reviews and short stories Soundcloud Sally Cronin

After leading a nomadic existence exploring the world, she now lives with her husband on the coast of Southern Ireland enjoying the seasonal fluctuations in the temperature of the rain.

Authors Website: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/

AUTHOR SOCIAL MEDIA DETAILS

Authors Website: https://mjmallon.com
Authors Amazon Pagehttps://www.amazon.co.uk/M-J-Mallon/e/B074CGNK4L
Next Chapter Publishing Author Page: https://www.nextchapter.pub/authors/mj-mallon
Twitter: @Marjorie_Mallon https://twitter.com/Marjorie_Mallon 

#ABRSC – Authors Bloggers Rainbow Support Club on Facebook
Goodreads:https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17064826.M_J_Mallon

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/m-j-mallon 

Tiktok: https://www.tiktok.com/@mjmallonauthor

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mjmallonauthor/

Bookstagram: https://www.instagram.com/mjm_reviews/

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Blog Tour: S C Skillman – Illustrated Tales of Warwickshire @scskillman @amberleybooks #blogtour #review #interview #newbook #travelphotography #curioustales #supernaturalwarwickshire

I’m thrilled to welcome Author S.C. Skillman to my blog to celebrate her latest release!

Illustrated Tales of Warwickshire
S. C. Skillman

Warwickshire, often known as Shakespeare’s County, has a host of strange and mysterious tales ranging from ancient legends and stories of the supernatural to more modern documented cases. Curious beliefs and customs were once widespread in Warwickshire’s towns and villages, some of which still flourish today.These strange and spooky stories include the quirky death of the Roundhead commander who owned Warwick Castle, the association of the great author J. R. R. Tolkien with the town, and the story of the hand of glory obtained at Warwick hangings. The historic buildings of Stratford-upon-Avon have witnessed many strange events over the centuries and more recently the Crackley Wood sprite has been sighted at Kenilworth. Other stories include the Wroth Silver at Knightlow Cross, an 800-year-old violent ball game played annually at Atherstone on Shrove Tuesday, and the unresolved mystery of the 1945 murder at Lower Quinton associated with witchcraft, along with other strange tales from the surrounding towns and villages. These stories are accompanied by the author’s photographs in this hugely entertaining book.

Q & A

  • How did you find your publisher for Illustrated Tales of Warwickshire and Paranormal Warwickshire?

A:  It all started when I shared my WIP (Paranormal Warwickshire) with my writing group. I read out the chapter on Guys Cliffe Warwick, and another member of the group, a historian, suggested a few history publishers to me.  I tried them with a proposal and Amberley were the ones who responded positively, saying they would like it for their Paranormal section.  So that’s how I focused the first book and subsequently Amberley asked me to write another 3 books about Warwickshire for them, which I have been very happy to do.

  • Out of all the tales in this latest collection which one/s is/are your most beloved. And/or which one surprised or intrigued you the most.

A: Probably the story of the footsteps in the derelict 17th century coach house near the beginning of the book. I like this one because it came to me unsolicited via a first person account from the individual who experienced it, and he volunteered the story.  Also, it had a truly authentic feel about it, with several satisfying elements; it came over as a genuine spooky tale. The narrator had experienced this in his teenage years, and never forgotten it. At the time of the experience, he sought rational explanations, and then tried to confirm those explanations, and had to accept it as paranormal. Finally, verification decades later from an independent source made it even more convincing. It also reminded me a bit of an MR James ghost story; ‘years later, curiosity drew him back to the scene of his youth’… those words give me a delicious frisson!

  • It must be fascinating and fun collating all the information for these tales. Tell us a little about the people you have interviewed in person and the places you have been.

A: I have spoken to people of all ages and backgrounds. One gentleman, Philip, I met through a chance encounter in the Warwick Tourist Information Centre, and he volunteered his story of hauntings in the basement of the Old Coffee House Tavern.

Another person was Caroline, a lady inspired by the spiritual rituals of the First Nation peoples, who calls herself a ‘Hedgerow Healer’ and holds healing ceremonies in a local community woodland using ancient smudging rituals and sage sticks. I had to be careful in the information I shared about her because she was wary of being misrepresented and wanted to ensure I wasn’t comparing her to spiritualists (I had no such idea in my mind). I feel privileged to gain the confidence of remarkable people like her, and being able to include their story, in such a way that they are happy with.

I also met a lovely elderly gentleman called Cyril in Costa Kenilworth, who has for many years been a traditional wooden toymaker, and he was fascinating. He appeared as a real life Geppetto in the ‘extra footage’ on a remastered version of Disney’s classic film Pinocchio. Though retired now, he is still a highly gifted painter and street photographer, fizzing with energy and humour.

  • I believe you have lived in Warwickshire for many years and the area is rich in intriguing history. Have you ever come across, or seen any of the tales you speak of… such as the big cats?

A: I’ve lived in Warwickshire for 28 years now.  I have tried to experience or gain personal knowledge of many of the stories I tell.  Unfortunately, I haven’t seen any big cats though!  One of my stories is about the ancient tax gathering ceremony the Wroth Silver which takes place on 11 November each year at daybreak in a field off the A4 near Ryton on Dunsmore. I was determined to attend the ceremony! It was moving to see how several of those who keep the ceremony alive have been attending for many decades and I have since been in correspondence with the elderly gentlemen involved. Also, I was very touched by the poem read out at the Wroth Silver breakfast by Barry Patterson, a local Bard. It was called ‘Dear Ancestors’ and for me it crystallised my thoughts about how people like to connect with their ancestors, which is why they cherish these ancient ceremonies. I think this is true of folklore and folk rituals such as the Wassailing Ceremony and groups like the Border Morris sides too. I’m delighted that Plum Jerkum, the local Warwick Border Morris side will be performing at my book launch in May!

  • Tell us a little about you and your past, and future writing projects.

A: I was born and brought up in Orpington, Kent, and studied English Literature at Lancaster University. My first permanent job was as a Production Secretary at the BBC in Portland Place, London.  Later I lived and worked for four and a half years in Australia, then returned to England to live. Now I live in Warwick with my husband and son, and my daughter is now spending time living and working in Australia. I have long been fascinated by ghost stories and tales of the unexpected, and visiting ancient sites: castles, stately homes, and gardens. I’m a member of English Heritage and the National Trust and I live near two of England’s great castles at Warwick and Kenilworth. Currently I’m working on a third book for Amberley, A-Z of Warwick. I also have a completed mystery novel, Director’s Cut, out on submission to publishers and agents, and am nearly halfway through the sequel to that novel, Standing Ovation.

  •  Do you believe in ghosts and what is your personal experience of the paranormal/strange happenings.

A: I have a theory about ghosts; I believe energy can be trapped in stone, and in the fabric of certain buildings, and those who are sensitive can tune into it.  I haven’t experienced ghosts but have had curious experiences which seemed to me like out-of-the-body experiences. My sister has experienced phantom footsteps, and her story is very convincing. I suggest that those who see ghosts or hear phantom footsteps are experiencing a psychic recording. However, this doesn’t cover every kind of verified experience. Sometimes we may hear stories of a ghost apparently interacting with the living percipient. I am intrigued by the whole phenomenon and keep an open mind. I respect people who tell stories of genuine experiences. I don’t judge but listen. Some stories are very convincing, especially those experienced in the same place by different individuals at different times quite independently of each other. Some might possibly be the person’s imagination. I still respect their convictions about what they have experienced.

MJ: Thanks Sheila for the wonderful interview and your fascinating theory about ghosts.

MJ’s Review

Illustrated Tales of Warkwickshire is a wonderfully informative, interesting and beautifully illustrated book of tales of Warwickshire. Some of the images within are the author’s own photography. And I learnt a thing or two! Readers who enjoy strange, supernatural, historical and quirky tales will enjoy this book immensely. It is evident that the author S. C. Skillman loves her home in which she has lived for over 20 years. Judging by the lengthy bibliography and the book itself she has researched, interviewed and knows her subject matter exceedingly well. Warwickshire is deservedly known as Shakespeare country! Authors, writers, tale hunters, and those keen to discover more about Warwickshire would love this. It would make a lovely gift for both visitors to the UK and local folk alike.

Delve into tales of big cats, mysteries, magical forests, witchcraft, extraordinary true life stories, intriguing people, and much more… plus famous authors such as Lewis Carroll who studied at Rugby School, (though he wasn’t happy there!)

Highly recommended. Many thanks to the publisher Amberley Publishing and S. C. Skillman for a beautiful copy. Review given freely and readily with no bias.

BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION
Publication: 15th April 2022
Price: £15.99
ISBN: 9781398110939
Size: 234 x 165mm
Binding: Paperback
Extent: 96 pages
Illustrations: 100 illustrations
Rights: World, all languages

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Illustrated-Tales-Warwickshire-S-Skillman/dp/1398110930/

I have also read and enjoyed Paranormal Warwickshire by S. C. Skillman – my review and author feature here:

And Mystical Circles which I also enjoyed. here is the link to my amazon review:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/customer-reviews/R730W80HJX1X5/

THE AUTHOR
S. C. Skillman is a writer of psychological, paranormal and mystery fiction, who has
lived in Warwickshire for over twenty years.

Social Media Links:
Website and blog: https://scskillman.com/
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Portugal travels, Vila Nova de Castelo, Almancil, Altura and Vale De Lobo #poetry #haiku #travel #portugal

I took these photos last autumn while I was travelling in Portugal. So, with colour poetry, taste the rainbow as the theme for Colleen Chesebro’s Tanka Tuesday, it seemed the perfect opportunity to share these now, along with some haiku.

muted life’s colours

tranquil portuguese autumn

bringing me much joy

blue sky and blue sea

green leaves but autumnal earth

orange underfoot

golfer’s paradise

val do lobo is so green

autumn algarve day

my favourite spot

empty of souls only shells

autumn on the beach

I’m excited to reveal that I am working on my next poetry collection: Do What You Love… I will share more about this soon!

Also, I’m delighted to be a contributing author in Poetry Treasures 2: Relationships compiled and edited by Kaye Lynne Booth and Robbie Cheadle.

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MJ’s Book Reviews: The Legend of The Taken Ones by Janice Spina @janice_spina #book #review

Synopsis

This is Book 1 of a fantasy series that will have six books in all. In this book learn about the three children of King Gateskin and his wife, Queen Solinara. The children have had powers since they were quite young..

Serena was three years old when she learned of her power to move objects with her mind. Her brother, Simon, can fly and their sister, Catalina, can become invisible or blend into her surroundings. They live with their parents in Sovorotskina, the Land of Light.

With these powers comes responsibility. The children must try to use their powers for the common good and responsibly to help others. The three children befriend a Sprite named Spindle who accompanies them on their adventure. Along the way they meet up with their aunt and uncle, their mother’s brother and his wife, Wizard Hotenfaran and Fairy Procelina. The group must travel into the evil land of Parotovina, Land of Darkness, to save King Gateskin, who was kidnapped, and also rescue some of the descendants of their friends and fellow Sovorotskinans who were captured and taken by the Evil Ones. These descendants have been waiting a long time to be free to return to the villages of their ancestors.

The children have many trials and adventures along the way. Will they be able to rescue their father and fellow Sovorotskinans without endangering their own lives? Will the evil King Kaposkaran and his Queen Beregina stop Serena and her siblings from being successful or will they turn Serena and her siblings to their dark ways?

The Legend of the Taken Ones by Janice Spina

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This is book 1 in a cute fantasy adventure about good versus evil kings, saving the persecuted and reuniting communities through magic. The emphasis is on family, love, friendships, and trust. It is a gentle fantasy tale suitable for middle grade readers.

The text relies heavily on dialogue. I would have preferred some more descriptive passages to get a better sense of place and where the action is happening.

I enjoyed the short poetic passages in the tale.

I particularly enjoyed the characters of Spindle, a Sprite, and King Gateskin’s children whose magic is far beyond what is expected for their ages.

Recommended for middle grade readers and all who enjoy a good fantasy tale.



View all my reviews

Janice Spina is an award-winning author with 18 children’s books,12 MG/PT books and one book in a YA series with five more coming over the next few years, five novels and a short story collection for 18+ written under J.E. Spina. She is also a copy editor, blogger, book reviewer and supporter of fellow authors. Her husband, John, is her illustrator and cover creator.

Janice can be followed on her blog: http://jemsbooks.blog

Website: http://jemsbooks.com

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April #BookReviews @linneatanner @teagangeneviene @RobertaEaton17 @harmony_kent @ColleenChesebro @Marjorie_Mallon @mhurdle112 – Writing and Music

Thank you so much to Jan for sharing her April Book Reviews of Teagan Genevieve, Linnea Tanner books and Poetry Treasures 2: Relationships the Wordcrafter Poetry Anthology which I am a contributor to.

Do check out the reviews at source: April #BookReviews @linneatanner @teagangeneviene @RobertaEaton17 @harmony_kent @ColleenChesebro @Marjorie_Mallon @mhurdle112 – Writing and Music

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