Review: Portal Prophesies Book 1

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The Portal Prophesies Book 1 is called A Keeper’s Destiny and it is by C.A. King. This is a high fantasy epic novel.

The book starts with Willow, the orphaned teenage misfit who has a tattoo of two black cats that she doesn’t remember getting, it’s always been there. She also hears voices. Willow lives in a little village where she sells produce. The village is segregated by caste or class. The people of her village have hair that changes colour when they are young until it settles on a colour at sixteen cycles. Their hair reflects their mood until it stops changing, then it would announce the strength and type of her abilities. Which means this world also has in-born magics or abilities.

From here we move on to meet the people of her town and get a feel for the social structure. The history of the world, which involves Guardians and Keepers, who are bonded to each other, dividing up and protecting realms of fantastical races to keep them safe or keep them from causing harm, is gradually revealed, as is Willow’s role in all this.

The social turmoil within the village provides the opportunity for an attack that ends their peaceful existence and forces the survivors to use a Portal to one of these other realms. We get a few training sequences and some character growth, and then end with a major character in distress.

On the one hand this world is extremely unique with an interesting history and some potential for “that’s not what you told me” and a bad guy who believes he’s the good guy and the Guardians are evil tyrants. On the other hand, it’s prophesy based, and that runs the risk of being either cliched or forced or both. She can’t lose because she’s the chosen one, right? She’s just going to keep unlocking abilities until she’s big enough and strong enough to win no matter what. BUT I hold out hope for this series based on the wide cast of characters, the interesting set-up with potential for betrayals and side reversals, and the decent writing style.

This book is perfect for older middle years and high school students. It has that teen drama feel to it, with amazing powers and adventure and self-discovery.

Considering what this book is trying to be, and what it achieves, I give it a four out of five stars and I look forward to reviewing the second book later this summer.

Review: Dreaming of Dillon

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I don’t normally read straight up romance but I’m glad I read this one. Aside from a few genre-cliches the story was very good and longer than I expected.

I started off the book slightly confused as I didn’t realize Dillon was his last name and was going “who’s Marcus?” Once I had that sorted out I settled in to enjoy the story.

The narrator – Sophie – is an underappreciated assistant PA with good friends, a nice flat, and a crush on her boss. The story takes us through her journey to a more confident and less stressful work environment, as well as seeing her come to terms with her personal tragedy. Of course, in the meanwhile, she’s falling in love with her boss and his family.

I teared up a few times reading this book as Sophie’s personal story is similar to mine. No, I didn’t fall in love with a multi-millionaire, but I did lose my mother to cancer. This book really captures that longing and aching that comes with losing someone.

Dreaming of Dillon is a clean but sassy romance and I give it four out of five stars.

Review: The Arena

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The Arena is a science fiction novel by Santana Young and the Prequel to the Chronicles of Everen.

I read a lot of books. A LOT OF BOOKS. So believe me when I say this book was refreshingly original. I was captivated with the settings, with the characters, and the whole tone of the book. The combination of antiquity and science-fiction tech was brilliantly disorienting. You’d honestly forget you weren’t in Rome for whole chapters and then BAM you were back in space-times. It was so much fun.

The book was dark at times, and brutally honest, but the friendships between the characters and the idle banter, along with Duncan’s strength of personality, kept the book from being depressing.

As a prequel it did its job beautifully. I’ve never read anything in this series and now I want to. If anyone had read this series first they’d find a rich and entertaining story waiting for them.

A hearty five out of five stars.

Review: The Ultimate Tragedy

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It’s is Monday morning following Mother’s Day that I am typing this review. I mention this because this book deals with the loss of a child and on this weekend, as we celebrate mothers, this book is especially moving.

The Ultimate Tragedy is a memoir by Doreen Pchajek. Doreen lost her daughter in a car accident and originally wrote this book 5 years after her daughter’s death. She added an update at the end when she released the second edition roughly 10 years later. It was this second edition that I read.

Reviewing a memoir is hard. To criticize any part of it feels like you are criticizing the author’s life. There were parts of this book that were difficult to read, emotionally, but also technically. There were a lot of medical terms that I found difficult to follow.

The story itself was very sad. Losing a family member is hard, losing one in a sudden accident, well I wrote an article on sudden passings and slow deaths. I don’t know which is worse but I do know that to lose your daughter so young in an accident while you were driving the car must be devastating.

Doreen does a good job of conveying the despair and helplessness she felt.

Doreen has started a memorial fund in honour of her daughter. The Stacey Pchajek Memorial Fund provides scholarships to senior 4 grads in Southeast Manitoba, as well as awards to grade 8 grads.

Doreen’s journey has been a difficult one. She’s right – you never “get over it” but I think she’s reached a point where she can fit her grief into the rest of her life without it constantly overwhelming her.

Review: The Seeker’s Storm

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The Seeker’s Storm is a fantasy novel by Lea Carter. I would describe this as a steam-era fairy tale.

The world in this book is exceptionally detailed yet descriptions are doled out only when needed and in short, easily digested bursts. There is rich history and tradition here. While the character building was good I found the cast a little large too soon. I had trouble keeping first and last names connected to the right people. I also had trouble pinning down a time and technology period early in the book. Once I was into the book however everything flowed smoothly, it just took me a few chapters to get my bearings.

The plot is quick paced and intriguing though I found it very streamlined. Secrets were discovered easily, bad guys posed little true threat.

Honestly though I enjoyed the book. I liked the airships and the lightning machines. I liked the threat of winter because I know the isolation that comes with living in a rural area with an unreliable car and knee high drifts. I liked the characters and their light banter.

I got to the end and read through the author’s notes on names and places and realized this was not the first book set in this world. It is, however, the first book I read in this world, which may have added to my initial confusion. That being said – this is a stand along novel. You can read this and enjoy it without having any knowledge of the world.

Overall I give this book 4 out of 5 stars and I look forward to exploring more books by Lea Carter.

Feel the Thunder

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We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming for this word from our sponsors. Well, not really, but I would like to ask you all for a bit of help.

Schreyer Ink Publishing is running a Thunderclap campaign for Open Minds, an anthology that I have a story in. We have 9 days to get 48 more supporters and I know we can do it.

18053318_10158611225740613_2134971717_o Open Minds features 6 authors, including me. The theme for this anthology was tolerance and acceptance. The stories are amazing, all of them.

We need your help to spread the word about this book. I think you should support this book because we need stories like this. We need stories that shine a light on acceptance in terms of race, religion, and gender/sexuality. We need to give these stories a platform to share their message because it’s a message that’s crucial right now as fear and mistrust runs rampant in our world.

I’ve included a sneak peek at the story I have included in this anthology:mixed up teaser

There will be more sneak peeks at the book launch on June 1st. You can join the launch here.

In the mean time please head over here and add your support to our Thunderclap campaign. You can add your Twitter, Facebook, and/or Tumblr account. Reblog this post, share the campaign on Facebook and Twitter. Every person counts and we appreciate your support.

Real Women have Curves and Other Sexist Bullshit

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Can we just stop it with the “real women have curves” bullshit already? Because by that logic I was some fairy tale daydream until I was 26 and had two kids (and my curves are not in flattering places). And don’t come at me claiming I’m fat shaming now. I don’t do fat shaming and I’ll tell you exactly why.

I was about 8 years old. My mom and I were getting ready to go somewhere, or maybe I was watching her get ready. It was somewhere fancy ’cause she was pulling on stockings. Dark grey. I sat there watching those stockings, the way they stretched and changed colour. I said to her “It looks like elephant skin.”

She told me I couldn’t say things like that, that it was hurtful, that people would be mad, embarrassed.

I remember being confused and defensive. I didn’t say she was an elephant, I didn’t even say she looked like an elephant. It was the nylons, the colour, the texture, not her. I was hurt that she was mad at me for something I didn’t do.

Looking back I understand she was hurt and embarrassed. At 8 years old I didn’t understand fat shaming because my mom was beautiful to me, inside and out.

She lived with grace and tolerance and acceptance. I know know how many friends told me they were surprised by her acceptance of them. This Catholic woman with a good marriage and two straight, cis-gender girls with A-averages who didn’t party and went to church with her every weekend – she accepted people. Didn’t matter to her if they came from single parent homes, if their parents were divorced or divorcing or how nasty that divorce got, if they liked to party, if those parties involved drugs or alcohol, how they dressed, who they dated, who they prayed to, if they prayed at all – she welcomed them all and treated them all with respect until they gave her a damn good reason not to.

She was diagnosed with cancer. She fought with strength and bravery. She died with grace and dignity. She was beautiful. And I have never in my life deliberately shamed a person for their size or shape because at 8 years old I hurt the feelings of the most beautiful woman I knew, I learned that words hurt, that insulting someone’s weight directly, or through implication, hurt.

My problem with this whole “Real women have curves” thing isn’t the curves. Go be curvy. Go be skinny. Go be plain or fancy or flouncy or frilly or rough or brash. Go be you. My problem is those first two words.

“Real women”

Thank you sexist patriarchy, you can shut the fuck up now.

This “be skinny”/”real women have curves” shit is just us fighting each other over something that doesn’t matter – it’s another set of unrealistic expectations that will always conflict. Be healthy, whatever healthy looks like for you. I am never going to be a size 0 again, NEVER. And when I was a size 0 it was a gift of genetics and metabolism, not will power (though I was a lot more active then too). My goal isn’t to be a size 0 again. My goal is to have more energy, to keep up with my kids, to feel good about my body, to feel sexy in the clothes I wear. What that looks like on me is going to be different than it looks on you.

As for this whole “But men really want …” WHO GIVES A FUCK. First of all, each man wants something different. Second of all, my husband fell in love with me when I was a size 0 and he stuck with me through two pregnancies and the resulting baby weight. Doesn’t matter that I’ll never rock those low-cut pants from high school ever again. He loves me for me, not for the size of my clothes. Isn’t that how it should be? I get it, we’re biologically programmed to find certain types of people more physically attractive than others – but everyone is programmed differently.

So let’s knock this off, right now. Let’s stop comparing ourselves to each other. Let’s stop it with the “real woman” labels and the in-fighting. We have more important¬†shit to handle in this world right now so if we want the fat shaming to end, let’s start by ending the weight wars between us.


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