IAT: Indie Authoring is Hard

Indie Authoring is incredibly rewarding. It’s also incredibly hard. I’ve written about twenty of these articles now, hoping to help other authors realise their dreams (and avoid some of the mistakes I’ve made), but the one cold, hard, truth I can give you is: quality Indie Books are hard to produce.

A lot people (especially readers) seem to have the idea that “Indie” = “easier”. Traditional publishing can be hard to crack into. I am by no means an expert on Trad publishing, but in my experience it’s hard to find an agent, a publisher, etc. If you looked at the sheer volume of books being submitted per year versus the number of books actually printed, chances are you’re going to be waiting a long time for a break (if you ever get one).

Another reason people seem to be under the impression that “Indie” = “easy”, is because anyone can upload a manuscript and a cover image to a platform such as KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) or Smashwords and voila! Published Indie Book. Without the “gatekeepers” of Traditional publishing (agents, editors, and publishing houses) there is a potential for books perceived to be of lesser quality. It’s another issue I’ve written about at length, and there are some Indie books out there that desperately needed a little more love and work before they were released into the world. That is not to say that all Indie Books are lesser quality than Traditionally published books, and there are a lot of authors like myself fighting to remove the stigma that was prevalent towards Indie books.

I’ve written in several of these articles about the pros and cons of the process of Indie Publishing such as having to do everything yourself or pay qualified individuals to outsource some of your tasks. I’ve written about these from a professional point of view (how hard it is when you have little to no income to produce your books, finding quality outside sources within a budget etc) and I’ve even mentioned the emotional toll and stress related to finding time to get all the work done (or how stressful it is when things go wrong, or get on top of you, trying to fit things in around paid gigs). What I haven’t mentioned is another side of how hard Indie Authoring is: the toll it takes on relationships.

There are only so many hours in a day and most authors (Indie or otherwise) have to consistently schedule in time to write if they want to make their dreams come true. That may mean turning down social invitations, taking “holidays” from your regular job to stay home and write, or otherwise “missing out” on things. This takes a toll not only on the writer but on the writer’s friends and family. Some writer’s are surrounded with people who emotionally support them, cheer them on, and are their biggest advocates. Not everyone is so lucky, and not everyone in your life will understand how important writing is to you.

It’s incredibly hard emotionally when you don’t get the support you need. Even well meaning friends or family can make unintentionally cutting remarks when they think they’re being helpful. I know so many people who’ve had comments made to them from relatives asking when they’re going to give up their unrealistic dreams. It can be hard to believe in yourself when it seems no one else does either.

There’s no easy/right way to deal with this kind of issue either. Every person is different so every situation is different. The best advice I can give you is to establish whether or not YOU think your dream is worth it. Are you willing to put in the hours? Are you willing to invest financially in yourself and your author business until you are successful? Success doesn’t happen over night. Success takes a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. It’s hard work and it can take a long time to pay off.

So if you’re looking to make your publishing journey they “easy” way through Indie Publishing, think again. If you do the “easy”, bare minimum, it’s unlikely you’ll see the success you want.

Book Review: Solstice Festival (The Dreamsong Saga #1)

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Book Review: Solstice Festival (The Dreamsong Saga #1)
Author: Jean DiFalco
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
$$$: $0.91 AUD for Kindle,
       (at 3/8/2020)
Publisher: Amazon.com Services LLC (18 May 2017) ASIN: B072BZKHDB

I give it: 5 stars

Partial Blurb from Amazon:

Sixteen-year-old Solé Covari has no real reason to believe her father, disappeared into Alterra’s Fog nearly a decade ago, is somewhere out there alive. There’s been no sign of him. And everyone knows, those lost in the mists rarely return.

Worse still, Maman suffers a strange malady that makes her eyes glow with yellow light. And as much as Solé hates keeping secrets, she knows no one must find out about Maman’s condition—just like the forbidden gift her daughters were born with, some things must be kept under wraps.

For her family, there’s not much Solé wouldn’t do–even if it means facing the Fog alone, and finally embracing the magick she’s hidden her entire life. Could a power that’s never brought her anything but grief truly be her saving grace?”


I don’t read a lot of YA (Young Adult) fiction anymore but I really enjoyed this book, and it’s sequel. I think I picked this book up as a freebie somewhere, but I bought the sequel: that’s how much I enjoyed this series. In the interest of transparency, I am not getting paid for this, and the book wasn’t a freebie in return for a review. I just really enjoyed it and thought you might too.

So, about the book. Solé and her family are Romani-style travellers, with psychic abilities in an alternate steampunk style universe called Alterra. There’s a lot of mystery in Solé’s world. There are things in the fog (The Old Ones: think like the Fae) and people who disappear into it are never seen again. The society is reminiscent of the Victorian Era or perhaps slightly earlier, with little in the way of technology. When the story starts Solé has taken her mother’s place in the family business, reading fortunes as they travel across Alterra. But when her little sister is taken into the fog by the Old Ones Solé must brave her own fears, and the chance that she will never see her family again, to save Dora.

I really enjoyed the blending of fantasy, Romani, and other elements. The hand painted tarot cards and braided hair ribbon were nice touches. DiFalco has a real talent for world building and creating colourful characters. I’ve always been obsessed with stories about this kind of society and Solstice Festival was an extremely satisfying read. Definitely recommend this book for lovers of fantasy, steampunk, and more.

Interested in this book? Here’s a link to it’s Amazon page 🙂

Poem: Save The Last Dance For Me

So, I feel like I’m super late to the party but in May, I discovered the band The Tea Party. Considering my taste in music and the fact that I love middle eastern things I can’t believe I didn’t find them earlier. Naturally I immediately fell in love with their lyrical and musical style and have been listening to them a lot ever since. I’ve been finding the band inspiring in my own writing and I think Jeff Martin is going to knock Tuomas Holopainen and Jim Steinman off their perch as my favourite songwriter’s ever. 

The poem I’m sharing today was inspired by the song The Last Dance off Jeff Martin’s solo album Stars in the Sand, which came out last year (2019). Songs and stories about long lost love are always going to pull on my heartstrings and I really enjoy The Last Dance. I was going to save this post until next week but I enjoyed making the graphic for it so much I just couldn’t. 

Unboxing: Hekate Devotional Box

Today my Hekate Devotional Box arrived from Muses of Mystery in Melbourne! *happy dance*

When they posted this box on social media a couple of weeks ago I couldn’t help myself and splurged. There was one item in particular I’d been eyeing off on Amazon which is currently almost $70 on one seller. The box of stuff was $80 so that was just the tipping point for me. I thought “What a great valued box!” and clicked “add to cart”.

As soon as I opened the postage bag my senses were ensnared. The package came with it’s own scent which wafted out at me as I pulled the packaging open. Not entirely sure what the scent was mixed with but there was something wintergreen-y in it. Just from the scent alone it felt like magic was pouring out of the tough bag.

In the top of the package were two rolled scrolls, one with information as to what the box contained, and one on the goddess herself. These will go into one of my Book of Shadows for reference. I have several BoSs due to the nature of my studies and the fact that sometimes it’s just easier to print stuff off than hand write into your books. Also, it becomes handy for one of your Book of Shadows to be a ring binder when you buy one off or subscription boxes like this. I mean, I love the aesthetic of leather bound, calligraphied text and hand inked illustrations, but they aren’t always practical, achievable, or worth the hassle. I liked that the scrolls came tied with red ribbons, not only for their colour connection to Hekate but because I can save them and use them for spell work later. I’m a big believer in saving things like that for Craft projects, craft projects, and just cause they’re handy. 

Once I skim read the scrolls I looked inside the box goodies. First off I pulled out the Key necklace which is to “wear to unlock power & receive Her wisdom”, at least, according to the White Scroll. Honestly, I have a large key I already wear and this key is charm bracelet sized so I’m not likely to wear it. However, I’ve been wanting to make a statue of the goddess and it’s likely I’ll save it for that. The charm came on a cord of neoprene which I’ll probably toss if I don’t use it on the statue. Neoprene tends to “bleed” on me and leave a dirty mark on my neck (or I’m having a reaction to it like I do to copper) and I learnt in my teen years it’s just not worth it to wear neoprene. Nothing I do gets the colour out until the dead skin cells disappear. I always keep keys now whenever I find them, so I’m sure I’ll find a magical use for it eventually. 

There was an anointed black taper candle, which according to the info sheet is to be anointed with the Hekate Oil (also in the box) to be burned during ritual. I think I might save this for Hekate’s Night on August 13th. There’s a few rituals I want to do then to the goddess, and I think it would be the perfect time to use this candle. In fact I might save a number of these goodies for the 13th. My candle stash is getting low so it’s nice to have a new one, especially one already dedicated to Hekate. 

The Candle has herbs stuck to it with wax so I’m wondering if they will give off scent while burning. My Beltane Candle this year was rolled in herbs but didn’t burn a scent like I’d hoped it would. My witchcraft is a journey, learning as I go, so I’ll figure out how to have the best of both worlds eventually. 


Next there was a Black Poppet. I’ve never worked with poppets before but there’s some scant instructions in the White Scroll that came in the box. I’ll probably use this as inspiration to write my own ritual for the poppet when I’m ready to use it. I know quite a bit of theory behind the use of poppets, but I’ve never found a reason to make one before. Predominantly I see them used in “darker” magics, ie. magics against a person or force, and that’s something I don’t really focus on. I like to focus on self improvement. 

There was also a small unlabelled bag containing Star Anise, what appears to be saffron, and other herbs. I’m guessing this is the Soteria Blend the White Scroll says has been included for use in the poppet. I believe the intention is to stuff the poppet with stuffing and the herb mix, and then to sew the pieces together and cast your spells. 

In the box was also a Hekate Oil blend, presumably the one for anointing the candle. Like the incense it doesn’t say what the ingredients are but I can detect notes of mint and patchouli when I sniffed it. There’s also instructions on the bottle to use it on your pulse points and forehead to promote your connection to the goddess. 

I’m pretty excited about this oil because I’ve just tried making my own. It’s a completely different scent to mine and I’d love to know which essential oils they used. I’ll probably keep this as an annointing oil rather than use it in my wax/oil burner like I often do with my oils (or I use them in the bathtub). Either way it’s going to go into my special box of magical things, ready for whenever it is my subconscious bought it for. 

There was a small (maybe 20gm?) sachet of Hekate of The Crossroads Incense. There’s information on the back of the tag explaining what to use the incense for but nothing on what the incense contains. My usual Hekate Blend is the Keeping Her Keys basic incense blend of Bay, Sage, and Mugwort. I’m expecting it to be similar but I won’t know until I try it. There was also a single bagged charcoal disc to burn the incense on.

                                     

There was a mojo bag which I didn’t realise already contained the ingredients for it. Sorry the picture is a little blurry. It looked okay on my phone. I thought it was going to come as a DIY kit, so when I opened it to see what the Hematite, Moonstone, and Yew looked like I spilled Graveyard dirt everywhere. Oops. I managed to get most of it back in the bag though and I’m taking it as the goddess anointing me in the dirt (please don’t burst my bubble). 

I’m a little disappointed it’s a pre-made bag actually. I was looking forward to making the mojo bag with the supplied ingredients. I quite enjoy making mojo bags. I know it’s a predominately Voodoo type of magic but they are really handy and super versatile. 

Getting towards the bottom of the box was one of the items I was most eager to look at: Hekate: A Devotional by Vivienne Moss. I’m looking forward to reading that later. The book is slightly damaged but nothing that will hinder my reading it. I’ll probably write a review of it and if I don’t post it here you’ll be able to find it on Goodreads or Amazon (where I post most of my reviews). I’ve heard a lot of good things about this book so it’s going towards the top of my To Be Read pile. Hekate as a Goddess is really having a moment right now which is great, because historically there’s been little written about her. I’ve been relying a lot on academic journals and scholarly debate for information (one of the perks of being Alumni of the university I went to means I still have access to some of their database subscriptions).

Another item I was intrigued with when I saw the list on the Muses of Mystery online store, was Hekate’s Labyrinth. It’s a round disc, (feels like it might be made of plasterboard or similar), with a maze etched into the face. It’s a meditational tool, you use your finger to follow the winding path, to achieve the same result as physically walking a labyrinth. I’d love to have a stonework labyrinth in my backyard but for now this will have to do. The picture makes it look huge but it’s probably about 20cm across. Small enough that it can sit on my desk for when I’m stressed out from work or sizeable enough that I can put it on my altar for ritual purposes at other times. 

Also included in the box was Hekate Mist, an alcohol based spray. It smells lovely. Kind of perfume-y. Not sure what I’ll use it for yet but I’ll probably use it to bless the altar cloth that was also in the box. My website host won’t let me post a picture of the cloth because they think it’s too big (don’t know why because it’s the same size as all these other photos). The Altar cloth is a black cloth (maybe linen?) with a silver strophalos embroidered at the centre. I don’t usually use altar cloths because of fire risk but I might save this to use on Hekate’s night or use it as a base for a Hekate Cleromancy kit. I’m very inspired by Cyndi Brannen’s cleromancy chart and have been wanting to learn this divination technique.

One of my best friends just gifted me a handmade cleromancy kit so I’ll probably play around with that for a while, while I learn how to use it properly. I apologise for my use of the word “play” divination techniques aren’t something you should “play” with, but they do take a while to find a rhythm within. 

The second last item in the Devotional box was a Skull Spoon. I already have one of these that I use to scoop my loose incense blends onto charcoal with. I guess this will be a back up or used in potion brewing. I will definitely use it though.

All in all, I’m really happy with the quality and contents of this devotional box. It came from the other side of the country in just over a week (pretty quick for Australia Post) and I’m confident I’ll use everything that was included in the box. I’d definitely recommend purchasing a box in the future if your chosen deity comes up or if you’re a new witch growing your collection of ritual goodies. It takes time and money to start a “witch kit” and boxes like these can help. I find I use less tools and things in my practise as I get further along my path but every witch is different. Thanks Muses of Mystery!

Story: Vampire Fangs

I decided as an extra bonus this week to share this flash fiction I wrote about an altercation between a Vampire and a Tooth Fairy. It was just a silly little piece that came to me a couple of years back and I thought it was time to share it. 

     The smell of bacon woke him up. His head thumped heavy with a hangover. He kept his eyes closed hoping to sleep it off. His arm was hot, fiery even. That’s when he realised where the smell was coming from. Instinctively he pulled away from the sunlight but found he couldn’t move. He opened his eyes.
    This was not his coffin.
    There was no time to wonder where he was. All his attention was focused on freeing his arm from the sunlight.
    He heard a giggling sort of chirrup and the sound of a curtain being drawn. Relief swept through him as the fiery pain was replaced with a dull throbbing sensation.
    ‘Dear me I’m sorry about that. I didn’t think to close that last night.’
    The voice was annoying. It was old and grandmotherly yet high pitched and irritating.
    ‘Dear, dear. How do I go about this?
    The voice was still behind him, unseen. He looked around the room, frantically trying to figure out what was going on. The room was large and airy with pebble-like bricks making up the walls. His eyes focused on the pearly white stones and realised that they weren’t pebbles. They were teeth. Children’s teeth.
    A small figure flew into his line of sight about a foot in front of his face. She was portly and approximately the size of his fist.
    ‘You’re the tooth fairy!’ His eyebrows raised almost to his hairline as he started putting the information together.
    ‘I am,’ She chirruped again.
    ‘What the Hell is going on?’ He demanded, jerking against his restraints. He tore his eyes away from the elderly fairy to look at his wrists. ‘Why am I tied to a dental chair?’
    ‘It’s time for your appointment.’ The fairy responded, quirking her eyebrows.
    ‘What appointment? Why the Hell am I tied to a chair?’
    ‘Dear me you have some cavities,’ She babbled on, sticking her fingers into his mouth and poking around.
    ‘I don’t have cavities I’m dead!’ 
    ‘Yes. These are definitely going to have to come out.’ She tapped a fang with her wand as she thoroughly ignored his protestations.
    ‘You can’t take my fangs I’ll die!’ The Vampire spluttered.
    ‘But don’t you see? You’re already dead. And once I have your fangs I’ll incinerate your body and they’ll never know.’ A maniacal glee radiated from the Tooth Fairy’s eyes.
    ‘Who won’t know?’ He asked, fighting through his disbelief to process what was going on.
    ‘The Faerie council.’ The matron replied with a huff. ‘It is illegal to pull Vampire fangs you know. Problem is, every time one of you suckers die you turn to dust. Fangs and all!’
    ‘You’re mad!’ The Vampire wanted to back away from the deranged fae, but as it was, all he could do was stare at her in abject horror.
    ‘Maybe, but I’m getting those teeth.’ The fairy smirked. She advanced on him with maniacal giggling.
    ‘Help!’ The Vampire screamed. 
    The tooth fairy smiled as she magically extracted each fang slowly, the vampire screaming in pain.
    ‘My, my, what a racket you’re making over a couple of teeth.’ She held up the fangs in her hand, admiring them.
    ‘Right. Now to deal with you.’ She said to the pile of dust on the floor.

© B. Forrester 23/07/2018

Poem: Death Has Come To Hold My Hand

So for the last few days I can’t seem to stop writing sonnets. As I’d already scheduled today as being this month’s designated poem day I thought I would share one of my recent creations with you. Normally I hold on to them for a long time before I post them here. 

Death Has Come to Hold My Hand 

The Lord of Death has come to hold my hand,
and I think, consequences be damned.
For though I know the coolness of his touch,
will inevitably cost me much,
Dancing, I laugh, I smile, I flirt and flounce,
For I cannot stop how my steps now bounce,
And though in the past I’ve called him to me,
to free me from my pain and misery,
to cut these mortal ties to life that bind,
It’s not that something in me wants to die,
But that I long for something else, a place,
of love, a place, where I am embraced,
skeletal fingers, the power of Death,
A moment of beauty in my last breath.

My Top 10 UF Angel Lit Recommendations

This week there’s a lot of unrest in the world. I don’t think I’ve lived through quite as tumultuous year (on a global scale) as this before. 2020 is definitely a year of change, although what our future looks like I don’t know. In Australia we’ve had horrific weather, both fires in the summer and now as the weather changes cyclone grade storms battering us. In America we’ve seen riots and xenophobia on a scale that I’ve never witnessed before in my life (I wrote my opinion on it here). Globally we’ve had to deal with a new virus that threatens to plague us for decades to come. All those things alone spell a financially difficult future for some time to come. 

While we shouldn’t bury our heads in the sand, sometimes you just need to get off social media and practise some escapism. I know if I didn’t my Anxiety disorder would be even worse than it currently is. Our bodies need to rest sometimes, whether that’s from physical exertion, mental stress, or adrenaline overload from our fight or flight responses. I find reading to be a way to distract myself when I just need a break. So to celebrate The Horn of Gabriel (The Lady of Zion #2) going live on the weekend I thought I would give you all some Angel Lit recommendations. I originally started writing The Lady of Zion series to be an Angel Lit series, however over the course of the writing it morphed into an Angel Lit hybrid, transitioning into the relatively new sub genre of Gods and Goddess fiction.

Note: most of these recommendations are YA, and most of them are the first book of a series. 

Recommendations:


 The Mercy Series by Rebecca Lim (AMAZON)

Mercy ′wakes′ on a school bus bound for Paradise, a small town where everyone knows everyone else′s business — or thinks they do. But they will never guess the secret Mercy is hiding ….

As an angel exiled from heaven and doomed to return repeatedly to Earth, Mercy is never sure whose life and body she will share each time. And her mind is filled with the desperate pleas of her beloved, Luc, who can only approach her in her dreams. In Paradise, Mercy meets Ryan, whose sister was kidnapped two years ago and is now presumed dead. When another girl disappears, Mercy and Ryan know they must act before time runs out. But a host of angels are out for Mercy′s blood and they won′t rest until they find her and punish her — for a crime she doesn′t remember committing …

The Mercy series is my absolute favourite Angel Lit series. Mercy is a kick ass heroine, and she fights for what she believes is right. I like Mercy as a role model for teenage girls. Another thing I really admire about this book is the way her relationship with Ryan. I believe YA has a significant problem with promoting problematic relationships that are, quite frankly, abusive (Bella and Edward from Twilight for example).  


Meridian by Amber Kizer (AMAZON)

Half-human, half-angel, Meridian Sozu has a dark responsibility.

Meridian has always been an outcast. It seems that wherever she goes, death and grief follow. On her sixteenth birthday, a car crashes in front of her family’s home – and although she’s untouched, Meridian’s body explodes in pain. Before she can fully recover, Meridian is told that she’s a danger to her family and is hustled off to her great-aunt’s house in Revelation, Colorado. There she learns the secret her parents have been hiding for her entire life: Meridian is a Fenestra. the half-angel, half-human link between the living and the dead.

It’s crucial that Meridian learn how to transition human souls to the afterlife – how to help people die. Only then can she help preserve the balance between good and evil on earth. But before she can do that, Meridian must come to terms with her ability, outsmart the charismatic preacher who’s taken over Revelation, and maybe – if she can accept her sworn protector, Tens, for who he is – fall in love. Meridian and Tens face great danger from the Aternocti, a band of dark forces who capture vulnerable souls on the brink of death and cause chaos. But together, they have the power to outsmart evil.

This book was a good read. Meridian is a psycopomp which is an unusual take on the role of Angels in Angel Lit. I quite enjoyed it. Most Angel Lit books have a reincarnation theme and Meridian acting as a psycopomp is an interesting twist of this convention. 


The Fallen Series by Lauren Kate (AMAZON)


There’s something achingly familiar about Daniel Grigori. Mysterious and aloof, he captures Luce Price’s attention from the moment she sees him on her first day at the Sword & Cross boarding school in sultry Savannah, Georgia. He’s the one bright spot in a place where cell phones are forbidden, the other students are all screw-ups, and security cameras watch every move. Even though Daniel wants nothing to do with Luce—and goes out of his way to make that very clear—she can’t let it go. Drawn to him like a moth to a flame, she has to find out what Daniel is so desperate to keep secret… even if it kills her.

 I really enjoyed the Fallen series the first time I read it. On my second reading I found the relationship between Luce and Daniel problematic. You can read about that more here. One of the things I liked most about the story was that Luce and Daniel have loved each other for many lifetimes. I find the idea for two lovers trying to find their way back to each other incredibly romantic. Perhaps its because I’ve often felt that I don’t belong here, that I’m different, like I was born into the wrong Universe or lifetime. Whatever it is Fallen helped feed a need that part of me was hungry for.  


The Coming Dark by Erin McCarthy (NO LONGER AVAILABLE ON AMAZON?)


Liana Matthews’ mother was murdered when she was two, with her in the room. Raised by her grandmother, she has always been the school freak, but when she starts spewing Latin and exorcising demons she didn’t know existed, she has no choice but to change schools or be tossed in a mental hospital. Her guardians say she is being chased by a demon, and the safest place for her and her best friend, Abby, is in a boarding school for demon hunters in training, where she’ll have a bodyguard in the form of a brawny seventeen year old named Chase.

Yet training as an exorcist and living in constant fear of the demon Axel who attacked her the night she came to school, has Liana unsure who she should trust. With her grandmother in a nursing home and Abby locked away in another building, the one person Liana finds herself wanting to spend time with isn’t a person at all… but a demon. Darius is supposed to be her final exam, the demon she has to exorcise to graduate, yet there is something about him that intrigues her and she knows she can’t kill him. Especially since he says he has information about her father, who she’s never met.

With rumors about her mother’s murder still swirling, Axel trying to kill her, and her feelings torn between the guy who is sworn to protect her and the demon who may endanger her, Liana has to face THE COMING DARK…

These Angel Lit books generally revolve around Nephilim kids (people who are half human half-half Angel) and this book was no exception. The unique take the author took however was that Liana’s non-human parent wasn’t an Angel but a Demon. Usually in these types of books the parent is a Fallen Angel, and the protagonist has to fight the forces of Hell/The Underworld. This was an interesting take. 

Side note: I cannot find any references to this book on any of the author’s social medias or website. It may have changed names or been removed from sale.


 The Watchers by Lynnie Purcell (AMAZON)

The Watchers is the first book in The Watchers Series. It focuses on 16-year-old Clare Michaels and her journey to her mom’s hometown of King’s Cross. Long aware of her heritage – that she is the daughter of a fallen angel – The Watchers focuses on her first interaction with the world she has always hidden from. Her first interaction comes in the form of a handsome, young high-schooler, Daniel Adams. He is her clue to the world she has always been afraid to face openly…but is he a danger as well?

 To be completely honest I don’t remember what the plot line of this book was. But I gave it 4 stars on Goodreads so it must have been good. (My general good reads star rating system is 5= excellent would read again. 4=excellent maybe wouldn’t read it again. 3= it was passable. Anything less than three doesn’t get rated. If I hate a book, or simply didn’t enjoy it. it doesn’t get rated.) 


Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick (AMAZON)

Romance was not part of Nora Grey’s plan. She’s never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how hard her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch comes along. With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Patch draws Nora to him against her better judgment. But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora’s not sure whom to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is and seems to know more about her than her closest friends. She can’t decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.

For she is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen – and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost Nora her life.

 I really enjoyed the relationship between Nora and Patch in this series. I usually read books for the relationships between the characters, and I assume most readers do. Nora and Patch had their rough patches (no pun intended) but they bounced off each other well. The book has seriously mixed reviews on Goodreads but I’m not sure where all the hate is coming from. It was very much in the vein of Mercy and Fallen in the type of book it was.  


 Unearthly by Cynthia Hand (AMAZON)

Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place and out of place at the same time. Because there’s another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara’s less angelic side. As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she’d have to make between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny? (note: I’ve trimmed this blurb because it was pretty long)

I quite enjoyed this series. Apart from being a gripping tale it also posed some great theological questions, like when is a sin really a sin? Clara is caught in a love triangle but at the critical time she must choose to either follow her destiny and save one boy, or go with her heart and save another. I won’t tell you whether or not both boys survive any way, only that Clara has to make an impossible choice for which there is no “good” option. In her mind one of these boys is going to die if she chooses the other. Both of these boys are “good guys” (aka not villains) which not only makes her decision harder (I mean come on if you had a choice to save Hermione Granger or Bellatrix Lestrange who are you going to pick? It’s a pretty obvious choice. Clara’s choice is like choosing to save Ron or Harry). How can saving a life be a sin?


 City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (AMAZON)

When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder― much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing―not even a smear of blood―to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know…

I only read the City of Bones series because I started watching the Netflix series (which I’m still working through) and I really enjoyed it. I didn’t enjoy the books anywhere near as much as the show but they were still an enjoyable read. The television show changed a lot of content from the books (including upping the ages of all the characters) so if you’re thinking you loved the show so you’ll give the books a try just keep that in mind. 


 Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman (AMAZON)

‘Armageddon only happens once, you know. They don’t let you go around again until you get it right.’  People have been predicting the end of the world almost from its very beginning, so it’s only natural to be sceptical when a new date is set for Judgement Day. But what if, for once, the predictions are right, and the apocalypse really is due to arrive next Saturday, just after tea? You could spend the time left drowning your sorrows, giving away all your possessions in preparation for the rapture, or laughing it off as (hopefully) just another hoax. Or you could just try to do something about it.

It’s a predicament that Aziraphale, a somewhat fussy angel, and Crowley, a fast-living demon now finds themselves in. They’ve been living amongst Earth’s mortals since The Beginning and, truth be told, have grown rather fond of the lifestyle and, in all honesty, are not actually looking forward to the coming Apocalypse. And then there’s the small matter that someone appears to have misplaced the Antichrist…

Another of my all time favourite Angel books is Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. Stylistically it is not what I consider to be “Angel Lit” (check out my post on what constitutes Angel Lit here). If you haven’t read it I highly recommend the book, the Amazon Prime miniseries, and the BBC Radio 4 radio play versions. No matter how you ingest your stories there is a version there I’m sure you’ll love. The authors bring a lot of humour to what is traditionally a sombre topic and none of the main characters are what you’d expect them to be.


Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (AMAZON)

Around the world, black hand prints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky. In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war. Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out. 
When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

I quite enjoyed Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone, but like Good Omens, it doesn’t quite fit into the Angel Lit genre, with Taylor’s Angels more like an extraterrestrial race than the Christianised mythos of normal Angel Lit. I quite enjoyed Karou as a character, although in the second book I really grew to dislike Akiva. The third book is sitting at the top of my to-be-read pile, so maybe he’ll redeem himself? Karou also reignited my artistic dreams (in a visual sense) and was so well written as an artist that I longed to be able to flip through her sketchbooks or go to an Art School myself. 


Author’s Note: All images and book blurbs have been copy and pasted from Goodreads and the purchase links are to the US Amazon site. 

A Political Statement

Originally posted on my old website 31/05/2019

I try to keep politics off this page. You’re here to be entertained, not to debate politics. But sometimes things happen in the world that require you to take a stand, to make a statement, to be heard. As a writer if I do not use my voice (and vocation) to be heard then I am a failure. 

Right now I’m in shock and awe (the bad kind). I can’t believe the state of America right now. My family is American and has always been raised to treat everyone with respect and integrity. It’s always been clear there is still a vein of racism in America, but I always believed it was a minority group. It is clearly not. 

What I thought was a vein is more an entire nervous system. Yesterday after reading tweets I realised there are still folks who lived through segregation in America. There are families who still understand what that was like. What we’re seeing now is segregation still exists in America, only it has evolved with the times. Denying basic human rights to POC and treating them as disposable is barbaric. It has only been since Trump took office and began spewing his own brand of bile into media and legislation that my eyes have been opened.  

I am no longer a US citizen but I had been proud to have been of US descent. The hate and the vitriol being hurled at peaceful protesters, children, and POC sickens me. White America you can do better! White America you SHOULD be doing better. I realise there are white Americans who feel the same way I do. I see you on social media fighting to speak for our fellow citizens, using your voices because you know they’ll be more likely to be heard. This statement is not directed at you. This is directed to the Americans who are “staying out of it”, saying “not my fight”. Eldridge Cleaver is often misquoted as saying “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.” Right now there are a lot of people who are part of the problem. Either because they want to perpetuate this kind of culture, or because they aren’t fighting with those being oppressed. The system is broken when people are pitted against each other. The system is broken when good people do nothing.The system is broken when people are starving, freezing, and dying in the street. The system is broken when people innocently going about their business are killed, threatened, or harassed for the colour of their skin, their sexuality, or anything that is perceived as “other”. America the world used to look at you as a leader. They will do so no longer.  

America you need to fix yourself. As a country you need to heal. You need to take care of your people. You need to make your people not only feel safe, but BE safe. You need to feed, clothe, & house your people. You need to make sure all Americans have access to education & healthcare. 

America you need to stop gas-lighting your own people. White America, in this broken system it seems your voices are the only ones that will be taken seriously. You need to speak up. You need to protest alongside POC at this critical junction. Take to social media, or, if you’re choosing to be one of the people taking to the streets, wear your masks, socially distance as much as you can. Although being keyboard warrior may be a better option for the time being. But above all else use you vote to count this November. Voting is a minor hassle on the day but your choice to vote or not sets the tone for the next four years and beyond. Vote for your future, your family’s future, and for the rights of every US citizen. It’s important now more so than ever before. If I still had the power to vote I would be using my voice to vote Trump out. He is the face of many of your problems, but he is just the face. The brains & the body behind him are even more insidious than POTUS’ inability to form a coherent thought. Voting matters & it is one small way you can make a difference. Make it count.