The Apprentice Storyteller by Astrid V.J. #review #fantasy #fiction #Alchemist #spaceopera #fiction

Blurb

The Alchemist meets fantasy with a splash of space opera. Viola Alerion, a renowned storyteller in the Haldrian Empire, wants to be left in peace. For years, she’s been hounded by her past, never to find a moment’s rest. Then she meets a boy who wants to become her apprentice. He refuses to take no for an answer, and she reluctantly yields, even though she knows taking him with her could endanger his life. As their journey progresses, Viola begins to understand she’s not the only teacher in the equation. The nameless boy also has something to teach, but Viola makes for a reluctant student.

Can she give way to possibility and embrace a future in alignment with what she’s always wanted? Can she find the courage to embrace the principles that will transform her life? Can she overcome her circumstances and face her past? Or will she keep on running with nowhere to hide?

And what of the boy who guards untold secrets and exhibits mysterious powers that defy belief?

The e-book of The Apprentice Storyteller also includes exclusive access to “Viola’s Guide to Achieving the Impossible”. This workbook to help guide you through the first steps towards achieving your own dream is based on key transformational principles from the DreamBuilder™ Course and is not intended for publication. The workbook is only accessible through The Apprentice Storyteller e-book. The link to Viola’s Guide to Achieving the Impossible is embedded in a concealed place. This is a treasure hunt. 

About Astrid V.J.

Award-winning and USA Today Bestselling Author, Astrid V.J. was born in South Africa. She is a trained social anthropologist and certified transformational life coach. She currently resides in Sweden with her husband and their two children. In early childhood, she showed an interest in reading and languages—interests which her family encouraged. Astrid started writing her first novel at age 12 and now writes fantasy in a variety of genres, exploring her passion for cultures and languages. When she isn’t writing, Astrid likes to read, take walks in nature, play silly games with her children, do embroidery, and play music.

Astrid writes transformation fiction: incorporating transformation principles in novels, rather than writing another self-help book. She loves exploring the human capacity for transformation and potential to achieve success in the face of adversity. Astrid is interested in minority group questions, considerations on social standards of beauty and the negative consequences these have, and would like to make the fantasy genre accessible to people of non-white, non-Christian backgrounds. Astrid feels the fantasy genre has become too restrictive with limited representations of race, ethnicity and culture. She seeks to explore other paths on this writing journey, incorporating her background in anthropology and psychology to create engaging experiences, which also provide food for thought on the diverse topics she finds most important. These include: racism, minority rights, cultural diversity, culture change, intolerance, humanity’s environmental impact, the representation of people on the autism spectrum in among the general populace, the human capacity for transformation, and much more.

https://www.elisabethandedvard.com/

My review

The Apprentice Storyteller by Astrid V.J.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This is book 1 in the Wishmaster series.

Such a beautifully written almost poetic tale. The strengths lie in the perfect placement and beauty of words, the thoughts (philosophical, considered,) and the growing relationship between the Storyteller Viola and her young apprentice who has supernatural powers.

Viola has been a loner on the run for twenty eight years and her mysterious background is hidden until much later in the book. Now, in mid life she longs to settle down and live a simple life: “she dreams of a life living in harmony with her purpose as a storyteller, but where she can also stay in one place. She sees herself sitting in a window, her fingers flying over the keys as she records new tales onto a device.”

Her apprentice is just thirteen and spiritually wise for his years, but there is a vulnerability about him too. In some ways, roles are reversed as he becomes a teacher to the older storyteller. In time, the two, (who surprisingly have much in common,) learn to trust, teach, appreciate and value each other.

The first half of the tale is perhaps a little slow, giving details of both the characters but speeds up towards the end with more ‘action,’ and a magical portal!

Overall, I would say this is not so much for readers who like action packed stories. This is more for those who love the wonder, magic and beauty of storytelling, secrets, and thoughtful reflections of life. And for those who appreciate a beguiling story which is focused on two main characters with less emphasis on secondary characters.

The Apprentice Storyteller also has a planetary futuristic aspect, with spacecrafts, and different lands. Jo, the apprentice, comes from his home planet Mshrali. There are deep discussions about the damage humans do to the world, to the peoples, “We have marginalised, killed and driven to extinction all the other beings such as elves, kobolds, and trolls,” and the rainforests: “the serpent in the forest,” which is referred to as “a levianthan.”

I am sure there are many more revelations to follow. A beguiling and interesting start to the series. I thoroughly enjoyed. Highly recommended.



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My rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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The Station Master’s Cottage @PhillipaNClark #review #romance #mystery #saga #historicalfiction

Blurb

Christie is happy in her life… or so she tells herself. Despite a tragic childhood, she has built a satisfying career and loves her city apartment. But deep down she yearns for a simpler life. Family. A garden. And a place to heal her heart.

The decision to attend a funeral in a town she’s never heard of throws her safe world into disarray, exposing the cracks in her life. As she deals with the fallout, Christie moves into a rundown cottage she’s inherited and there, makes a discovery.

Fifty years ago, a heartbroken young artist waited each dawn on a jetty for his true love to return. And each night, he wrote her a love letter.

What Christie uncovers will change her life forever.

This is a beautiful tale of love – sometimes lost, sometimes found and sometimes both. This is also a book with a mystery to solve which keeps your interest in the story. The author did an amazing job writing this book. The characters were well developed, the story was unique, and the descriptions helped you to feel the emotions, smell the scents, and visualize the persons, places and objects. I highly recommend this book if you enjoy romance with a bit of mystery and a HEA. Karen Thurmer.

 NEW COVERS ON ALL IN THIS SERIES AUGUST 2021. Recommended reading order:
The Stationmaster’s Cottage
Jasmine Sea
The Secrets of Palmerston House
The Christmas Key  

Review

The Stationmaster’s Cottage by Phillipa Nefri Clark

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is book one of four in the River End Series.

Even though I don’t usually read romance, saga, historical fiction novels, I really enjoyed this so much.

It was the mysterious aspect, the fantastic characterisation, sense of place, the dawning realisations, sexual tension, secrets, cute cottage and the mysteries regarding the deceased grandmother, Dorothy, and the painting – all of these managed to draw me in. And keep my attention. From the opening chapters, oh, how I hated the lead character Christy’s fiance Derek! He was a total toad and even in the moments when you thought perhaps he wasn’t as bad you were soon whisked off by the narrative skill of the author to a deeper understanding of his intentions. And conversely, I loved Martin!


Great read, moving, a little soppy in parts but highly recommend for romance saga and mystery lovers and all those who enjoy fantastic storytelling. The ending is terrific.

Listened to on audible, and the narrator did a fantastic job too. Also, have the kindle version.



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Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

About the Author

Phillipa writes from the heart about love and life with all its joy and sadness. She believes in happy endings and the power of hope and resilience, no matter what the situation. She grew up around wild beaches and misty cliffs, always with a horse or dog as her companion. Now she lives in regional Victoria, Australia on a small acreage close to a mountain range. Her great loves, apart from writing, are her family of two young adult sons and her husband, their Labrador, music, reading, research, fine wine, and an oversized vegetable garden. Phillipa is a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors, Sisters in Crime (Aust), Writers Victoria and more. 

Next Audiobook review Jacqueline Evans Nostra Dame, A True Story.

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The Poison Ember Serpentstone Book 2 @AMObstWriter #new #book #preorder #ARC #review

Blurb

Faced with a task that could turn them into monsters, Sarnd and Jessa must decide whether to run away or save the world.

Six years ago, twins Sarnd and Jessa thought they’d rid their world of the malevolent Serpentstone. Since then they’ve worked hard to set their shocking past behind them.

But the Serpentstone has returned, and they’re asked to carry it to an abandoned mine where it will be sealed deep underground. The Stone appears to be much weaker than it was, but they learned the hard way never to trust it.

The Stone starts to regain its terrifying power, and while Sarnd is desperate to complete their mission so he can go back to his new life, Jessa has other ideas.

As their mission becomes a race against time, can the twins learn to trust each other again and avoid becoming the creatures they fear the most?


Buy the thrilling sequel to The Hungry Fire and enter a world of chaotic magic, treacherous allies and underdog heroes!

Release date: 23rd July, available to preorder now.

Review

Thank you to the author for an advanced reader’s copy which I read and review freely and without bias.

This is book 2 in the Serpentstone series. I managed to read book 2 without any problems. But ideally, it would be best to read the 1st book in the series: The Hungry Fire (Serpentstone Book 1) which is available at special offer price via this link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08TCFWY8B

SARND: “I’m a monster, created by my so-called parents as a weapon using the corrupted power of the Serpentstone.”

The Poison Ember is a story of magic, power, fighting, sparring, revenge, adventure and secrets. “Known to the Academy as the Orufasu, the Stone was the greatest concentration of magical power ever discovered.”

“The Stone was so mighty, and had the power to strip away all that she thought she was, turning her and Sarnd into projections of its own violent and callous will. How could they be deluded enough to think they could come near it and survive?

And now, here he was, carrying a bag that held the greatest concentration of magic ever found. Against his will, he was caught up in a new adventure—one likely to end in tragedy rather than triumph.”

It’s a tale in which you suspend belief and take a magical journey into a land created wholly by the author’s imagination. Amusing in parts, I appreciated the revelations about the stone, the sibling banter, and uncertainties of trust played out between Sarnd and his twin sister Jessa. 

The latter chapters of the story became more exciting as the adventure continued.

Overall, this is a well written, high fantasy adventure tale. Please note: a fair amount of dialogue and the story is delivered with quite a few characters to get to grips with, which is (not uncommon with high fantasy books, but usually there is one central character who is the main focus.) In this story, there are three main protagonists – the twins, Sarnd and Jessa, and of course the stone, who also becomes a character in many ways.

My rating: an enjoyable 4 stars. Recommended for high fantasy, epic fantasy, adventure, sword and sorcery fans. 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Author Bio:

An Australian living in the United Kingdom, A.M. Obst has always loved to daydream and make up things about places that don’t exist. An avid reader of fantasy novels, he has also been spotted holding books from other genres, including science fiction, crime, thrillers, horror, romance and historical adventures.

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MJ’s Review of 100 Ways to Write A Book @AlexBPearl #writing #reference #book #review

Synopsis

These author interviews initiated by Alex Pearl during the Covid epidemic started as a small lockdown project. But before long, Alex’s requests for author interviews on social media elicited an overwhelming response, and the project soon took on on a life of its own.

Within these pages, authors from a wide spectrum of backgrounds wax lyrical about their backgrounds, motivations, and working methods. Among this throng, self-published newbies rub shoulders with award-winning bestsellers from all corners of the globe, including the UK, the US, Canada, Australia, Germany, New Zealand, Israel and Sri Lanka.

They provide a fascinating insight into this mysterious process of creating imagined worlds on the page.

Huge thanks go to the 100 authors who very kindly gave their time to participate in this project, as well as their consent for their words to be reproduced here in print. They are in no particular order:

Paul Waters, Jessica Norrie, David F. Ross, Drema Drudge, Chris Chalmers, Mark Farrer, Sue Clark, Hannah Tovey, Belinda Hunt, Glynn Holloway, Mark Eklid, Julian Dutton, Christopher Bowden, Alan Gibbons, Lily Mackenzie, Ian Critchley, Jadi Campbell, Tom Atkins, Jane Risdon, Charles Harris, L.C. Tyler, Fran Hill, Malcolm Knott, Nikki Dudley, Jacqui Castle, Ron Impey, C.J. Booth, Ashok Ferrey, Jennifer Irwin, Beth Duke, Vicki Olsen, Pete Langman, Pauline Morgan, Jonathan Peace, Sandy Manning, Shelley Wilson, P.J. Roscoe,
Anthony Neil Smith, A.A. Chaudhuri, Jon Richter, Carolyn Hughes, Trish Moran, Madeline Dewhurst, Jeff Pollak, Louise Fein, A.B. Kyazze, Jack Byrne, M.A. Hunter, Tessa Harris, M.J. Mallon, P. R. Black, Nina Soden, Bill Arnott, E. Chris Ambrose, Paul Kane, Sam Blake, Douglas Skelton, Louise Mumford, Philip Henry, Hazel Prior, Lauren Emily Whalen, Laura E. Goodin, Simon Van der Velde, Dr. Manuel Matas, Jane Bettany, Regina Puckett, S.G M. Ashcroft, Michele Kwasniewski, Judy Stanigar, Robert Craven, John Darling, Pramudith D. Rupasinghe, Richard Dee, Sophy Layzell, Lorna Dounaeva, Diana Stevan, Bradley Harper, Paul Gitsham, Sion Scott-Wilson, John Dean, Liz Martinson, C.J. Carver, Tony J. Forder, Sharron L. Miller, Patrick Osborne, Peter Turnham, Jude Lennon, Anna Holmes, Chris Calder, Jane Buckley, Rachel Brimble, Gail Aldwin, Anne Coates, Ian Riddle, Christina Hamlett, James Morgan-Jones, Alison Huntingford, Gila Green, Helen Pryke, Emilya Naymark, Marcia Clayton, James L’Etoile

ALL AUTHOR PROCEEDS WILL BE DONATED TO PEN INTERNATIONAL 

100 Ways to Write a Book by Alex Pearl

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I was thrilled to be a contributing author to this project by Alex Pearl. So, much so, that I have my own paperback copy of this on my bookshelf at home. It’s a great read and a way to discover new authors in a variety of genres and how they all tick. What struck me the most about this is how interesting and varied all the contributors are. We may all have different ways of approaching writing but we all love to write and this shines through!

Highly recommended read and for a good cause – Pen International.



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Do get a copy!

About Alex Pearl

Alex’s first novel ‘Sleeping with the Blackbirds’, a darkly humorous urban fantasy, written for children and young adults, was initially published by PenPress in 2011. It has since become a Kindle bestseller in the US. In 2014, his fictionalised account of the first British serviceman to be executed for cowardice during the First World War was published by Mardibooks in its anthology, ‘The Clock Struck War’. A selection of his blog posts is also available in paperback under the title ‘Random Ramblings of a Short-sighted Blogger.’ In 2019, his psychological thriller, ‘The Chair Man’ that is set in London in 2005 following the terrorist attack on its public transport system, was published as an ebook by Fizgig Press. The paperback followed in 2020.

Alex lives in NW London with his wife and two children who are far smarter than their old man.

He is quite possibly the only human being on this planet to have been inadvertently locked in a record shop on Christmas Eve.

You can visit his website at https://booksbyalexpearl.weebly.com/

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Marriage Unarranged by Ritu Bhathal #new #release #review The Rishtay Series@RituBhathal @SpellBoundBKs

Thrilled to be supporting my lovely friend Ritu Bhathal with her re-release of Marriage Unarranged on 6th June, now published by Spellbound Books!

The cover above has been updated with a little quote from Amanda Prowse on the front! How cool is that!

And a press release…

Marriage Unarranged by Ritu Bhathal

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Well, I loved Marriage Unarranged so much I read it twice. Lol. It’s quite a long book!
https://mjmallon.com/2020/02/09/book-…

I read it for the first time as a beta reader with an ARC and then again for this review. Everything about this engaging romance appealed to me: the characters, the cultural aspects, the little touches of humour, the Asian family dynamics, the beautiful and informative descriptions of India, (I’ve never been, but it has always been forever on my bucket list,) This story transported me there, and I especially loved the detail in the Gurdwara scenes in which Sikh’s come together to worship and share simple community tasks. Oh, how I would love to visit!

I found it particularly relatable as my mother is from an Asian background and the first thing she says to me in the morning is ‘What are we having for dinner!’ The lovely cooking scene between two of the characters in the book, sums this up so much. Food is of prime importance in Asian culture and can be a great ice breaker.

I also loved how Aashi ‘s character changed as the story progressed, retaining all her admirable qualities (and she has these in abundance,) but becoming more confident. To begin with she is cossetted by her family and her brothers, Sunny and Bali. But, away from home, her trip to India with her brothers and her best friend Kiran does wonders for her flagging self-esteem after Ravi’s selfish treatment.

All the characters in the story are well crafted. I especially have a soft spot for: Aashi, her best friend Kiran, (who fights her corner like every best friend should,) her feisty brother Bali, and Arjun, the potential love interest otherwise known as ‘Pillow.’ Even the subsidiary characters such as the fashion designer Milan are well crafted and entertaining! And, Ravi well he’s a rat!

The fledgling romance unfolding between Aashi and her ‘Pillow’ was just so lovely, especially after all the heartbreak she experienced with a broken engagement.

The reveal towards the end of the story regarding Arjun was an interesting addition and I loved the humorous ending!

I better not say anymore for fear of spoiling the story for you.

My recommendation: Go get a copy! My rating 5 stars.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Marriage-Unarranged-Rishtay-Book-ebook/dp/B09SBSSD67

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If you liked my review of Marriage Unarranged by @RituBhathal @SpellBoundBKs please mark it as helpful on Amazon, it helps the author and it helps me gain credence as a reviewer. Many thanks. #writingcommunity #review #romance https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/customer-reviews/R1J5EAM6I8UD4H/

And… Coming Summer 2023, is book 2 in The Rishtay Series! It will now officially be part of a series, The Rishtay Series with book two coming out in June 2023! Rishtay means relationships, which covers both romantic and familial relationships that are at the heart of this whole series.

How exciting is that! Looking forward to reading book 2.

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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.



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Authors Websites:

ChantelleAtkins.com

SimAlecSansford.com

Books2Read.com/HangmansRevenge (ebooks)

mybook.to/HangmansRevenge (paperback)

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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 

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Google Play 

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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: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1829166787333493/
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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/
Amazon Author Profile: http://bitly.ws/9SK9
https://www.facebook.com/scskillmanauthor
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https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4692653.S_C_Skillman

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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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