My Trip To Calgary

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This is the first in a series of entries about my recent trip West. This post will be about the flight, my in-Calgary transportation experiences, and my hotel. I will also be doing one on the When Words Collide conference in general, one on the panels I spoke on, and one on the sessions I sat in on.

I left home mid-morning on Thursday August 10th and arrived in Calgary around 2pm local time. It was a fairly empty flight and West Jet was clean, prompt, and professional. Their staff was friendly, and while I had no special needs (wheelchair, children, etc) I watched them handle all their customers with care and respect.

I had done some research before leaving and planned to take the bus to my hotel. The signs in the airport made it easy to find my way out and I ended up right where I needed to be to buy my bus pass. I caught the next 300 BRT and was on my way. I got off the bus a few stops early so I could walk a few blocks, stretch my legs, and take in a little of downtown Calgary, then onto the C-Train (201) which was so easy to use. I’m from a little big-city so we don’t have anything like the C-Train, no subway either. From the C-Train station I wandered down to the bus stop and asked one of the drivers which bus I needed to get to the intersection I was looking for. They pointed me to the right bus (Transit drivers are amazing people) and I was dropped on the hotel’s doorstep. Took me close to 2 hours instead of 40 minutes but it was cheaper than the cab and super easy.

I stayed at the Delta Hotel, the Calgary South location. Checking in was a breeze and they upgraded me to a king-room. The room was clean and had all the necessary comforts. I settled in, got myself some snacks from the Wal-mart across the street, and spent some time at the pool. They have a great water slide with a pool and hot tub in the Tower building and a second pool and hot tub in the Atrium building.

The Delta is actually two buildings with a road between them but there’s a skywalk on the third floor. There are signs pointing to all the conference rooms and back to the elevators. I got turned around a few times but only because I was texting and not looking up!

The lunch bar they had available for conference attendees was delicious. And I had dinner at the pub next door the one night (Boomtown Pub), their pizza is fantastic.

My only complaint with the room, okay, there were two things. One, there was a shower but no tub. I’m assuming this is because I was in a king room and if I got a double with my husband and kids there would be a tub to bathe the wee ones in. 2 – my room was freezing and adjusting the in-room thermostat seemed to do nothing. Considering how little time I spent in my room it was a small complaint.

Checking out was just as easy and there was a cab on hand so off to the airport I went again. Security at the Calgary airport was slower than at home but it is a bigger airport. Still, wait times were not unreasonable and the staff was efficient and friendly.

I was on a full flight headed East but again the staff was friendly and the flight was clean and on time.

I was nervous going on this trip. I was travelling alone to a city I’d never visited before and I wasn’t there to stay with family or friends. Everyone I dealt with at the airports, on the flights, and at the hotel, including house keeping, was polite, friendly, and helpful. It made the trip much easier, and far more enjoyable.

Review: Alamir: Blood of Kaos Series

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Alamir is the first book in the Blood of Kaos Series by Nesa Miller. This is an urban fantasy series that deals with demons and multiple realms.

What I like is that the pacing is steady with a good mix of sexy romance, dominance plays, and violence. Seriously, it plays out like a great TV series. You jump right in with just enough back story to keep you from being completely lost and then you get pieces along the way – some pieces make the story clearer, others make it more confusing. But confusing in a good way and answers come along often enough that you know the author intends to answer everything in her own time.

What I don’t like are the names and the misspellings. Kaos instead of Chaos. Names like Inferno, Spirit, Faux, Darknight … I know, it’s urban paranormal, this is the norm, these are the signals to the reader that it’s a demon story, but I don’t like it. That being said, it wasn’t enough of an issue to make me put the story down.

And while I don’t like the “destined to love each other, complete each other” reason for those two characters being together, she’s a strong woman who has made it very clear that if/when they sleep together it’s going to be on her terms. She forces him to be honest and vulnerable, forces him to respect her, and I like that.

This book stands alone as a single adventure with a goal which is achieved. But at the same time it sets up nicely for the sequel which will be out in the next year or so.

Overall I give this book 3.75 stars out of 5. The writing is very good and it’s gotten some amazing reviews so if you like this sort of story, with powerful brooding heroes and demons evil twins, read this book, you’ll love it. That’s the beauty of books – there’s something for everyone and if this is you’re thing you’re in for a treat.

Review: Transverse

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Transverse is a poetry book written by Theo Ashford and is a companion to his “memoir” Transform. One can be read without the other, I haven’t read Transform yet.

Transverse is not a long book but it was very moving. Each poem was unique and captured a distinctive emotion or moment. Theo relies strongly on images of breaking, shifting, change, emptiness, and confusion to illustrate his own personal journey.

He has provided an honest look at one person’s journey of discovery, one that is on going – at least that’s the sense I got from these poems. There was a sense of being stuck in the middle of a fight – he shares the things he struggles with, and against, and in doing so highlights where the world is failing.

As someone who identifies as “hetro-normative” in pretty much every way I really appreciated being able to read this book. It opened my eyes to the inner turmoil, yes, but it also shone a light on how people like me are failing at being supportive.

Definitely a glowing 5 our of 5 stars from me.

Review: The Bloodstone Reckoning

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The Bloodstone Reckoning is Mike Wigington’s debut novel – an epic fantasy for teens and adults.

The main character of the novel is Tabitha Millhouse, the daughter of a miller in a small town. The story begins on Tabitha’s 15th birthday. She lives with her father, her mother is dead, and her father will not speak of the past. Today, being her birthday, Tabitha pushes the issue, causing a fight that sends her running from the cabin and into the thick of the plot.

As well as her father there are two youth in town roughly her age, Faylyn, the daughter of the goldsmith, and Macon, the son of the black smith. These are Tabitha’s friends. Tabitha also meets an old wise woman, an Earth Mother, in the woods. This woman, Baba, becomes her friend and teacher.

There are powerful forces at work in this world and an evil lord from a far off country seeks an ancient and evil relic that he hopes will grant him immortality. Thus the stage is set.

Mike has created a detailed and rich world for his story to play out in, one that feels real and vivid. His descriptions are never tedious and add life to the story. The characters, while simple, are still fun. Tabitha is the stubborn tomboy. Macon is the sneaky troublesome boy who is attracted to her in spite of her weirdness. Baba is the wise woman. Tabitha’s father drinks away his heart ache and seeks above all else to protect his daughter. Lord Drake is charming and powerful, a man who simply craves power.

I love a rich fantasy and this certainly falls into that category. There are multiple forms of magic, many secrets, and a sense of urgency to the story.

I would like to congratulate Mike Wigington on a stellar debut and I look forward to reading more of his work in the future.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Book Lover’s Blog Hop

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Today I am hosting the Book Lover’s Blog Hop. Each day of August a different author will be hosting the QUESTION OF THE DAY on their blog. I invite you to check out posts 1-8, and to head over to the rest of the blogs throughout the month. Here’s the schedule:

1st August http://www.JoLinsdell.com
2nd August http://www.skyehegyes.com
3rd August http://www.katherineapisana.com
4th August http://www.upstreamwriter.blogspot.com
5th August https://bookenthusiast2016.wordpress.com
6th August http://karaswanson.com
7th August http://www.brandypotterbooks.com
8th August http://www.BelindaBekkers.com
9th August http://www.casiaschreyer.wordpress.com
10th August http://www.katherineapisana.com
11th August http://www.virginialorijennings.com
12th August http://www.virginialorijennings.com
13th August http://www.cjbrightley.com
14th August http://www.JustBJordan.com
15th August http://www.saderena.com/blog
16th August http://www.angelaguidolinauthor.co.uk/blog
17th August http://www.tabithacaplinger.com
18th August http://www.skyehegyes.com
19th August http://www.landsuncharted.com
20th August kmcarrollblog.wordpress.com
21st August http://www.upstreamwriter.blogspot.com
22nd August http://www.JoLinsdell.com
23rd August http://www.belindabekkers.com
24th August http://www.fabianspace.com
25th August http://theliteraryapothecary.blogspot.com
26th August http://www.JustBJordan.com
27th August http://www.jebraunclifford.com
28th August http://www.brandypotterbooks.com
29th August http://www.skyehegyes.com
30th August http://www.brandypotterbooks.com
31st August http://www.landsuncharted.com

My QUESTION OF THE DAY is
HOW DO YOU ARRANGE YOUR BOOKSHELF?

Jordan 300dpi
Just B. Jordan http://www.JustBJordan.com

I don’t do anything super cool. I just organize by genre and author, putting my favorites in the most accessible spots. 🙂

Brandy Potter
Brandy Potter http://www.brandypotterbooks.com

By collection really and then by height, tallest to largest. I have a library corner in my bedroom. I have very old books (one from 1834). Those and classics occupy the top shelves. Then I have my series authors, Eddings, Tolkein, Riordan, Rowlings, Graham, Doyle, Lewis, Snicket, Christy. Again by height. Next contemporary artists. Grouped by author then height. Last non-fiction grouped by category.

Jo Linsdell
Jo Linsdell http://www.JoLinsdell.com

I don’t really have a system as such. I tend to organise by size, and genre. Books from a series always go together, and I try to put books by the same author together too.

SkyeHegyes
Skye Hegyes http://www.skyehegyes.com

I have three different categories. All my non-fiction is on one shelf sorted by topic and then book size. Then I have mass market paperbacks sorted by author’s last name. The last is all tradeback books and hardcovers, again sorted by author’s last name. It works for me, but I need more shelves.

BelindaBekkers
Belinda Bekkers http://www.belindabekkers.com

I change them from time-to-time. Currently they’re organised by the book’s cover colour. Sometimes it’s by genre, height, or whether they’re read/to-be-read.

Laurie Lucking Author Headshot
Laurie Lucking http://www.landsuncharted.com

My top priority in organizing my bookshelves is to make them look pretty 🙂 I do try to group by genre a bit, but mostly I put books by the same publisher together and books that are the same size together so they line up nicely.

vljauthorpic.jpg
V.L. Jennings http://www.virginialorijennings.com

I sort my books by type, how much I like them, and then by size. It is absolute sacrilege to put books in a series separate from each other. The home improvement books never go next to the Fiction books. The books that are the prettiest or those that I love reading the most go near eye level. It’s sorta complicated.

Jebraun Clifford
Jebraun Clifford – http://www.jebraunclifford.com

We’ve got bookshelves in every room of the house except the kitchen and bathroom. Even boxes of books we’re storing in the attic for my daughter! (breaks my heart to keep them there, but we literally have no room for another bookshelf!) I try to keep everything tidy and in it’s approximate genre. That’s as much as I can manage.

Karina Fabian headshot Aug 2013
Karina Fabian http://fabianspace.com

The family bookshelves are organized by genre and author. I don’t have my personal ones up yet, since we just moved into our new house, but there will be a shelf for friends’ books, a shelf for mine, a shelf for writing, then a shelf for my favorites by author.

C. J. Brightley

The main bookshelves downstairs have all the fiction books organized alphabetically by author’s last name. The bottom shelves hold books to be read (in no particular order). The books in the arts and crafts area in the basement hold all the non-fiction books grouped by topic, and one shelf has young adult books we own that my daughter isn’t quite ready for yet.. The bookshelves in our bedroom hold library books, books I’ve borrowed from friends, and books next up on my TBR list. My children both have their own bookshelves, which are always disorganized, although we try to keep their library books on the bottom shelves.

And me?
My big bookshelf is organized by size first – books go on the shelves where they fit. Then each shelf is sorted by author and series. I have a second shelf that has my photo albums, oversized books and text books. There’s also a shelf in the basement with kids’ books which is sorted by reading level.

Thanks everyone for sharing! I hope you’ll take the time to visit some of the other blogs on the tour.

Review: The Portal Prophesies A Halloween Curse

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A Halloween Curse is the second book in the Portal Prophecy series by C.A. King. This is a fantasy series for YA/NA readers.

This is an action packed story with decent pacing and interesting characters. The story is quite twisty and the characters are complex, even the bad guys.

There is a large cast of characters of varying magical abilities from a variety of worlds or dimensions. Sometimes it is hard to keep track of who they are and what they can do because you often go several chapters without hearing from someone.

The descriptions are good, and the imagery and detail is fantastic. The author has put a lot of thought into the double meanings and vague possibilities of all her prophesies, curses, and warnings.

I worry that some of her characters are becoming over-powered and that it may cause plot-failings later in the series but for now the team continues to grow in strength and numbers while the problems facing them grow in complexity. Also, there is tension between the members of the group and quite often the girls are frustrated by people not taking them seriously.

Over all I’m impressed with the series and the scope of this fictional world.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Separation Pre-Orders

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When writing both a fantasy series and a science fiction series do not try to edit one while writing the other. Switching gears between genres and styles like that was hard.

Rose From the Ash was released this past spring and once that was out of the way I could focus on finishing the drafts for Separation – book two in the Underground Series.

Focus is definitely what this book needed. I had started and stopped so many times the different pieces did not fit together at all. So much of it had to be rearranged and rewritten.

But it got done. And now the e-book is available for pre-order. We will officially be celebrating the launch of the ebook at the Twilight Madhouse Launch party on August 1 (the book goes live on August 8th so there will be a week yet of pre-orders). We’ll be launching the paperback at C4 in October. And with a little luck I’ll have book 3 completed by then as well.

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