Thursday, 19 October 2017

Book Review - Kymiera: Season 1 by Steve Turnbull 4 out of 5 stars


KYMIERA: Season 1KYMIERA: Season 1 by Steve Turnbull
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'd write fanfic for this one!

Now, some folks might wonder what kind of endorsement it is wanting to write fanfic for a story, well, from me, it’s a good one. I’m a writer, and I judge books by how much the characters engage me, and whether a plot leaves me thinking about it - whether it inspires me. And Kymiera is one of those stories.

This story is written episodically, and I will warn would-be readers, be patient. It took me a couple of episodes to warm to the characters, but gradually, I found myself being sucked in. Now, I am not a big fan of dystopian futures like the Britain in which this is set, I started to read it because I was given a Kindle copy to review, but the characters overcame my initial hostility. Steve Turnbull manages to avoid stereotypes in the main, I have an issue with one character, but out of the many he creates to great success, I will forgive him for a single two dimensional villain. :) The story moves between quite a few people, and, moment by moment, Steve reveals their lives and their place in the plot. First I was interested, then intrigued and finally I found myself fully invested in what was happening to them all.

So, I loved the characters and the way the story twists and turns, wrapping around itself in loops that aren’t quite predictable. It picked up pace as the tension built, adding depths that I hadn’t originally expected, making me want to get to the end and find out what happened. So, why have I given the book 4 stars rather than 5? Well, the reason is the ending.

Kymiera is a story all about evolution: of characters, of their beliefs, of knowledge, and, even though this story is billed as Season 1, so I was expecting there to be plot points left for Season 2, there were two strands of this story for which, as a reader, I wanted satisfaction. Without giving anything away, one strand delivered, the second did not, which made me a bit grumpy when I had finished the story.

I could have overlooked the second strand not concluding how I wanted it to, after all, I don’t control the plot, but there was one more thing, the ending’s pace. The rest of the book is expertly handled, dropping in information, building climaxes and spinning plot lines around the characters and it kept me hooked from beginning to almost the end. However, after such brilliant build up, the galloping pace at the ultimate confrontation left me wanting to know more, and not in a good way. Certain things went unexplained, important characters’ points of view were skipped, or wrapped up with unsatisfactory single lines, sacrificed to the speed at which the last few pages played out. I wanted more.

On balance, though, I enjoyed this story, I loved the depth in the characters and their developments, and, as I said above, the whole world Steve has created has the breadth and dynamism that makes me want to write fanfic for it.

View all my reviews

Friday, 6 October 2017

Free Fiction Friday - Looking for Luticia by Natasha Duncan-Drake


Free Fiction Friday


October is now upon us, which can only mean one thing, it's time for this month's Free Fiction Friday over at Wittegen Press. We've posted a new short story for our loyal readers to enjoy. This month it's really spooky.

These stories are exclusively for subscribers of our newsletter, but anyone can join and it's really easy.

It is completely free to become a member and all you need is a valid email address. Fill in the form at the bottom of this page and you’re done. Don't worry if you join after the 1st Friday, the password for the month will be included in the welcome email after you subscribe.

What we WILL DO for our subscribers:

  • Send you an email on the 1st Friday of the month to remind you about the short story and give you the password for the month as soon as the story goes live.
  • Send you information about new books, competitions and events, so you don’t miss anything.
  • Give you two Free eBooks just for joining.

What we WON’T DO to our subscribers:

  • Spam you with loads of random advertising.
  • Reveal your email adress to anyone else.

This Month's Short Story

Looking for Luticia
by Natasha Duncan-Drake
Genre: horror, paranormal
Length: ~7.5K wds

Description:
Lucy and her team have the most successful ghost hunting show on UK TV. They investigate, they debunk, and every now and then they catch the supernatural on camera. Their latest project is Darling Manor. This place has a locked room, which may or may not contain the embalmed remains of a dead relative, a very strange inheritance cycle, and more spooky stories than any house really needs.

Lucy and her team have moved in to find out the truth, but the creepy manor has Lucy on edge. Is it her imagination, or is there something to be afraid of? This could be the one investigation that is really dangerous. Will modern technology trump historic legend, or will the supernatural gain the upper hand?

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Monday, 4 September 2017

Vegan Ginger Cake

I'm not vegan, but my family and I supported our local flower festival by running the refreshments stall for a day, and we wanted to be able to offer a cake that was vegan friendly (and of course then can also be eaten by anyone with a dairy or egg intolerance/allergy). So, I consulted a vegan friend of mine about converting a ginger cake recipe that has been in my family for years (in fact my sister, Tasha, posted about it a few weeks ago, so it will be mostly familiar to folks who read both our blogs), and I thought I'd share what turned out to be a very successful conversion. The vegan version of the cake tasted the same as the non-vegan version and had the same consistency, which is already a sticky recipe. :)

So here is the Duncan recipe for ginger cake converted to be suitable for vegans (I've made it clear what has been changed in the recipe list):
Yes, this is a picture of the non-vegan ginger cake, but they look identical and I forgot to take a piccie before the vegan one got eaten. ;P

Vegan Ginger Cake

Equipment

1 large saucepan
1 small (milk) saucepan
1 bowl
scales
spatula
2 2lb loaf tins (approx 21x11x7cm | 8x4x3inches)
loaf tin liners or grease proof paper or baking parchment
small hand whisk or fork

Ingredients

8oz | 230g | 2/3 cup Black Treacle (Molasses)
8oz | 230g | 1 cup Soft Non-Dairy Baking Spread (this could be butter in the original recipe, but we've always used baking spread, which is lighter)
8oz | 230g | 1 1/4 cup Dark Brown Sugar
1 tbsp Golden Syrup
1/2 pt (UK) | 285ml | 1 1/3 cup soya milk (or other non-dairy equivalent) (original recipe was plain old cow's milk)
1/2 tspn Bicarbonate of Soda (Baking Soda)
12oz | 340g | 2 3/4 cup self-raising (rising) flour
4 tbsp ginger (yes that really is table spoons not teaspoons)
2 tspn cinnamon
½ banana (this was one large egg in the original recipe)

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 150C | 300F | Gas Mark 2.
2. Put the loaf tin liners in the loaf tins or line the tins with you lining of choice. (You really don't want to try and get this cake out of an unlined tin - it is very soft and moist ;)).
3. Put the treacle, soft spread, brown sugar and syrup into the large saucepan.
4. Heat gently until these all melt together, stirring at times to make sure it all mixes.
5. Measure out the flour, ginger and cinnamon into a bowl and put aside for later.
6. Mash the banana and put it with the soya milk into the small saucepan and beat the banana into the milk using a small hand whisk or a fork.
7. Add the flour, ginger and cinnamon to the treacle mixture in the saucepan and stir together.
8. Stir gently in circles to mix in flour then beat vigorously until all the lumps are gone.
9. Heat the soya milk/banana mixture gently to blood temperature (easiest way to measure is to stick your little finger in every now and then and when it feels like it isn't cold it's at the right temperature :)).
10. Add the bicarb to the soya milk mixture and stir.
11. Add the soya milk mixture to the treacle mixture and stir together.
12. Stir as quickly as you can, but take it easy. (There will be bubbles showing as the bicarb activates)
13. Pour the cake batter into the two loaf tins.
14. Put the cakes in the oven and bake for 45 mins - 1hr (stick a skewer into the middle of the cake to check it is done, if not let it cook a little longer).
15. Take out of the oven and allow to cool in the tins until cool enough to handle, then turn out onto a wire cake rack to finish cooling.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Free Fiction Friday - Dark Celebrations by Sophie Duncan


Free Fiction Friday


It's the 1st Friday of September and that means it is Free Fiction Friday over at Wittegen Press. A new short story is now up for all the subscribers to our newsletter.

It is completely free to become a member and all you need is a valid email address. Fill in the form at the bottom of this page and you’re done. Don't worry if you join after the 1st Friday, the password for the month will be included in the welcome email after you subscribe.

What we WILL DO for our subscribers:

  • Send you an email on the 1st Friday of the month to remind you about the short story and give you the password for the month as soon as the story goes live.
  • Send you information about new books, competitions and events, so you don’t miss anything.
  • Give you two Free eBooks just for joining.

What we WON’T DO to our subscribers:

  • Spam you with loads of random advertising.
  • Reveal your email adress to anyone else.

This Month's Short Story

Dark Celebrations
by Sophie Duncan
Genre: ghost, science fiction
Length: ~9K wds

Description:
Mina is enjoying hers and her brother, Ali's, new posts as Ensign Navigators on board Interstellar Cruiser Queen Elizabeth VI. The entire liner has been booked out by Axis, the company that brought the known universe Carbon Prime, the key to interstellar travel, and they are celebrating their primeversary, so it's party time all round.

Yet, an encounter with an impossible, derelict ship and the death of a guest in strange circumstances lead Mina to think there is something very wrong on board.

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* indicates required

Friday, 4 August 2017

Free Fiction Friday - The Beast in Me by Natasha Duncan-Drake


Free Fiction Friday


It's the 1st Friday of August and that means it is Free Fiction Friday over at Wittegen Press. A new short story is now up for all the subscribers to our newsletter.

It is completely free to become a member and all you need is a valid email address. Fill in the form at the bottom of this page and you’re done. Don't worry if you join after the 1st Friday, the password for the month will be included in the welcome email after you subscribe.

What we WILL DO for our subscribers:

  • Send you an email on the 1st Friday of the month to remind you about the short story and give you the password for the month as soon as the story goes live.
  • Send you information about new books, competitions and events, so you don’t miss anything.
  • Give you two Free eBooks just for joining.

What we WON’T DO to our subscribers:

  • Spam you with loads of random advertising.
  • Reveal your email adress to anyone else.

This Month's Short Story

The Beast In Me
by Natasha Duncan-Drake
Genre: paranormal, contemporary fantasy
Length: ~8K wds

Description:
There are worrying reports about the Misomene Corporation's business dealings. Teiji Inoue was sent in to investigate, but he cover was blown. Now Teiji must survive Misomene's attentions as he discovers that the rumours of illegal practices pale in comparison to the reality.

Misomene are engaged in occult research and Teiji has become one of their experiments. Even if he comes out alive he may not come out sane.

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We'll send you details of book releases, competitions and other news from our authors, BUT we WON'T spam you, or pass your details on to anyone else.
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* indicates required

Friday, 7 July 2017

Announcement - Free Fiction Friday - Dance of the Dead by Natasha Duncan-Drake


Free Fiction Friday


From now on the 1st Friday of every month will be Free Fiction Friday over at Wittegen Press. This means we will be posting a new short story every month for our readers to enjoy.

These stories are exclusively for subscribers of our newsletter, but it is really easy to join.

It is completely free to become a member and all you need is a valid email address. Fill in the form at the bottom of this page and you’re done. Don't worry if you join after the 1st Friday, the password for the month will be included in the welcome email after you subscribe.

What we WILL DO for our subscribers:

  • Send you an email on the 1st Friday of the month to remind you about the short story and give you the password for the month as soon as the story goes live.
  • Send you information about new books, competitions and events, so you don’t miss anything.
  • Give you two Free eBooks just for joining.

What we WON’T DO to our subscribers:

  • Spam you with loads of random advertising.
  • Reveal your email adress to anyone else.

This Month's Short Story

Dance of the Dead
by Natasha Duncan-Drake
Genre: sci-fi, paranormal
Length: ~2K wds

Description:
A planet torn by war and a lost courier bring Jagati and her squad to a recent battlefield. The dead call to her, but she and her people have a job to do first.

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Monday, 8 May 2017

Dragon Diaries - Reflections - A to Z Challenge 2017 #AtoZChallenge #AtoZChallengeReflections

Dragon Diaries

elcome to my reflections on the Blogging from A to Z Challenge 2017:


Each day, I'm told you about a dragon - a dragon inspired by a name that I generated randomly using a name generator (I didn't look up the derivation of any of these names, I just ran with how they made me feel, their sound on the tongue).

I told you all about my Dragon of the Day, and shared some flash fic about their lives. Any genre, any character, any look - I hope folks were surprised and entertained by my dragonly inspirations :). And now I want so share a few thoughts about this year's A to Z Challenge, and honorary mentions of blogs I enjoyed.

~
Previous Posts

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So, it was a big change this year, in that we did not have one list to sign up to, we, instead, were signing up each day to a post on the A to Z blog. This was designed to make the A to Z more sociable and ensure everyone on the list was taking part. Well, I suppose it achieved its second aim, because, logically speaking, if you had given up on the challenge, then you wouldn't be joining each day, but, I would say I don't think this new sign up method increased the social aspect of the challenge - not for me, anyway. I actually found a lot of the blogs I wanted to read during the challenge during the theme reveal posts and I had already made my own list of places I wanted to remember to visit. This really helped me during the challenge, because, since the daily sign ups were not in the same order every day, I wasn't always sure if I'd visited the blogs on the list. I did add a few people to my list throughout the challenge in one of two ways:

  1. When someone visited my blog who I hadn't visited and I then hopped on over to them.
  2. The people just above me on the sign up days.
I'm not sure what the key to making the A to Z more sociable is, maybe being a lot clearer on subject categories, so people can find the kind of things they are interested in - although I have to say, I did find myself reading the odd random blog (type 2 above) on subjects I would not have picked from a category list. What could be interesting might be a 'take me to a random blog' option, but, unhelpfully, I know of nothing that would offer that kind of functionality for a signup list :(.

Having said all that, thanks to all of you who work hard and run A to Z and make it possible, and you were brave to try something different. Thank you also to everyone who visited and commented on my blog, because it was great to get the feedback on my dragons and great to talk to you.

And, of course, I did enjoy visiting the blogs I found this year and there were quite a few I went back to regularly (though none everyday, I have to admit, because some days I struggled to get my post up, let alone visit anyone else, which was just down to mad things happening in real life). So. below are a few honourable mentions in no particular order :).  


PersonThemeURL
ShaliniA to Z Indian Dishes to Die Forhttp://somethingiscooking.com/
AJ VosseMusic & Memorieshttps://ouchmybackhurts.wordpress.com
Patricia LynneStrange Feelingshttp://www.patricialynne.com/
Hilary Melton-ButcherRare Breedshttp://positiveletters.blogspot.co.uk/
J Lenni DornerTelepathy and Misused Wordshttp://jlennidornerblog.what-are-they.com/
Sarah Zama40's Film Noirhttp://theoldshelter.com/
Josie Two ShoesFull Circle (FF)http://www.josie2shoes.com/
Jean D DavisEditinghttps://jeanddavis.blogspot.co.uk
Pamela WrightThe Scottish Highlandshttps://thewrightsdaysoffun.blogspot.co.uk
Sara SniderMagical & Medicinal Herbshttp://saracsnider.com/
Rae SquigglesAbbeys and Cathedrals of UKhttps://thequietwriter.com
Tamara NarayanConspiracies and Controversieshttp://www.tamaranarayan.com/
Zalka Csenge VirágWTF - Weird Things in Folktaleshttp://multicoloreddiary.blogspot.co.uk/
Mary BurrisBillboard Hits of 70'shttp://www.jinglejanglejungle.net/
CD Gallant-KingWeird Canandian Facts & Historyhttp://www.cdgallantking.ca/
Melissa AnnBook Reviewshttps://mycreativelyrandomlife.blogspot.co.uk
Roland ClarkAlternative History of Kanatahttps://rolandclarke.com
Nick WilfordSnippets from Black and Whitehttp://nickwilford.blogspot.co.uk/
Laura ClipsonStorytellinghttp://mybafflingbrain.blogspot.co.uk
C R G GalvinLife on a farm in 50's and 60'shttps://earlieryears.blogspot.co.uk
Books before the bloghttps://1001armchairadventures.wordpress.com
David JessonMaterials Science in Fantasy and Sci FIhttps://abackoftheenvelopecalculation.wordpress.com
JodieFairytale Charactershttp://believeinfairystories.blogspot.co.uk
DjinniaAnime Charactershttp://djinniaandtheenglishlanguage.blogspot.co.uk/
Yolanda ReneeAlaskahttp://yolandarenee.blogspot.co.uk/
Anna TanThe Princess and ...http://blog.annatsp.com


~

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