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Skulls and Stone Circles: A Magic Connection

 Ritual Crime Unit

By EE Richardson

A  Net Galley review

Here we have a parallel but very similar earth to ours.

Here the magic and dark powers do exist and there are criminals who exploit these powers and thus we need a police section specially dedicated to dealing with these elements and criminals.

This was in many ways a fairly typical police procedural but with the extra element of magic. We have a lot of skulls being scattered around in various places that need to be connected by the powers that be – and then they do connect them and realise who collected the skulls, why they were collected and what is the significance of the stone circles to the skulls.

stone circle

Typical detective work but they need to ask some very unusual people to assist them.

I enjoyed this as an unusual form of police procedural and thought that overall the concept of the parallel world was well thought out. The writing style was clear and brought you into the understanding of the world that was inhabited by the characters and their life.

I would recommend this book to those who like fantasy set in a familiar situation.

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How long to live? Only 15 minutes?!

PHOEF SUTTON author of Fifteen Minutes to Live published by Brash books on May 5th 2015.

http://www.brash-books.com/author/phoefsutton/

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  1. Can you tell your readers something about why you chose this particular topic to write about? What appealed to you about it? I’ve always been interested in brain trauma and diseases, ever since I read Oliver Sacks’ The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat.   Once I read about Korsakoff’s Syndrome I knew there was a book in it.
  2. Why do you think it is different and your approach is unique? Most stories of amnesia deal with who can’t remember who they are.  This is different; Jesse remembers who she is, she just can’t remember the last eighteen years of her life.  And she never will.  She’s lost the ability to form new memories.  The makes much more involving, much more tragic story.
  3. How long do you think about a topic before deciding to write about it? Do you have a set of notes or a note book where you write down topics that appeal before making a decision as to which topic this time? I think about topics for a long time before I start to even plot the story.  An idea needs to gestate for a while.  If I remember it and keep thinking about it for years, it might be interesting enough to make a book.
  4. How long does it take to research a topic before you write? And for this book? I do tons of research before I start a book. And I do tons of research WHILE I’m writing a book.  You never know what you have to research ‘til you get to it.
  5. What resources do you use? In general and for the last book that you wrote? I did a lot research in medical text books. I also talked to people who had various brain disorders.
  6. How helpful do you find authority figures such as the police when you say you want to write about them? Is there a good way to approach them in your experience? I find that most people are happy and willing to talk to writers about their work.  I just ask.
  7. How many times have you been rejected before your first novel was accepted or before this book was accepted?  It’s a double-edged sword.  My first novel was accepted by a major publisher.  Unfortunately, they insisted on a lot of changes, which made it much worse.  By the time it came out, it was neither here nor there.
  8. Did you need to self-publish on e-books before a publisher took you up? Years later, when self-publishing had taken off, I got the rights back and reprinted the book, in its original form, under a new title. It felt so good to get it out there, as I had intended it to be seen.
  9. Would you recommend self-publishing and building an audience before approaching a publisher? If so, what benefits do you see that it might have for the aspiring novelist? I can’t really speak for anyone else.  For me, it gave me an opportunity to get my work out there, which led to other publishers and authors taking interest in my work.  I didn’t make much money in self-publishing at all.  But it did lead to bigger and better things.
  10. Does writing provide sufficient income to live on? And how long did it take before this happened? I have written for television and movies for years.  I have made a living as a writer for almost three decades.  I have made a living as a writer of published fiction only for about a year or so.  We’ll see if it keeps up!
  11. What is the best piece of advice you were given that you could pass on to aspiring writers? Write, write and write!

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And are your eyes brown? Then you are not interesting to me.

 

 

Graced

by

Amanda Pillar

Netgalley review

In this fantasy novel 3 main forms of humanoids inhabit a world that has been constructed by genetic manipulation. Not medieval thankfully – more like late 18th century customs and scientific knowledge.

But there is a secret 4th type of humanoid – humans with abilities that are more than the norm – the Graced.

The graced are trying to keep themselves secret – because it profits them to do so. But the colours of their eyes are different from the ‘normal ’humans and an observant vampire notices and wonders why and what is different about these humans. Unfortunately, he then decides to experiment on those humans with coloured eyes – those that are not the normal brown – and so the story begins.

This is a very different and in many ways a more empathetic look at vampires and werewolves. We learn that vampires can learn emotional responses, that human females can be kick-ass City Guards, and that little girls can be very good at concealing truths.

A nice writing style and promising fantasy writer publishing her first book. It feels more accomplished than first novels often are and I suspect that a good series will follow.

4 stars.

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Somerset Delights

We came back from 5 days in Somerset and even in March and cold winds, the blue sky and the shining sun made it a very pleasant experience.

One lovely little town we visited was Ilminster.

P1030129

Ilminster is the first Fair Trade town in South Somerset and has lost of quirky retail outlets and local produce. The shops are still very much in the same layout as they were originally and the streets are bendy – there is a Minster of course – which is a church and the town’s name means: ‘The church on the River Isle’ . it was founded in the 8th century as a church town by the nearby Abbey.

It currently has a population just over 5000 so it is a small market town.

It has set up 15 shops in its Fairtrade map and the one we really fell in love with was The Green House. This shop sells mainly recycled / upcycled goods. For instance earrings made from tins, old tables refurbished and made into garden ‘ladders’ for plants, and lots of dresses from other dresses… one of the best ideas that I saw though were the note books. They had equipment for ring binding hardback books and used it on all the old hardbacks that no-one buys these days in second-hand shops. They then took the backs off and inserted clean paper to write on, but the special aspect was that they left in small amounts of the original text also, so you would have a chapter at the front and then clean pages and then maybe another page and then more clean and so on.  This is such an original gift and also such a brilliant way of dealing with these books and giving them a new lease of life.

We also loved the deli. And bought several pieces of local cheeses of which they had a great selection including sheep and goat and different flavourings of cheddar of course.

Somerset has been lived in for a very long time of course and many of the towns are very ancient. Andover is such a town. We ate a quick lunch there but had hoped to eat at the Angel Inn which is situated at the heart of the medieval area. it is said to be the 7th oldest public house in England and dates back to 1174. although largely destroyed by fire in 1435 along with most of the town, it was rebuilt for the princely sum of £400. it is still a timber framed inn and has been the host to many royal visitors including King John, Kings Edward I and II,, and Catherine of Aragon. as with many of these old buildings it does have ghosts – 2 farmers and a dog!

One thing we noticed as we drove through Somerset was how deep the road was compared against the road banks. In some places the road banks were the height of a 3 storey house with full grown trees on top! Of course, one way to find out the age of a hedge in England is to count the species. If the hedge has stopped being a hedge and has become a mini forest you know it is old! If the road has sunk that far too – you know the road is old! In fact we were travelling on the Fosse Way, which was a Roman road and possibly a major footway before the Romans came to the England too. One reason the road may have sunk so dramatically is that the area is largely sandstone – see Odcome Hollow – where the road is very sunk indeed and it is as though you are driving in a tunnel almost.

According to wikipedia the Fosse way may have begun as a ditch – a defensive ditch that gave the barrier of the Roman empire to the rest.. or not of course.. it  links Exeter (Isca Dumnoniorum) in South West England to Lincoln(Lindum Colonia) in Lincolnshire, via Ilchester (Lindinis), Bath (Aquae Sfulis), Cirencester (Corinium) and Leicester (Ratae Corieltauvorum). It joins Akeman Street and Ermin Way at Cirencester, crosses Watling Street at Venonis (High Cross) south of Leicester, and joins Ermine Street at Lincoln.

P1030124 P1030125 P1030126 P1030165

I also made sure I kept a short note of some of the places we stopped for tea/coffee and cake and here is the list:

Crewkerne: Market Square Deli: Coffee/pot of tea + cake £3.50. This is a great deli with lots of interesting foods and cheeses and a lovely bright clean cafe attached with interesting quotes on the walls including ones about love and chocolate and coffee and so on.

Ilminster: Coffee Shop Tea £1.60, cake £1.80 for a generous slice of Red Velvet which really looked as though it had some beetroot in it.

Lambrook Manor: [Margery Fish’s garden] Folter coffee £1.90 inc refill, Cake £2.20 in the Malthouse.

Margery Fish was a very important writer on horticultural matters especially how to create a cottage garden and her garden was full of hellebores with the snowdrops – where there were some very rare varieties – lining the ditch, but just going over. The hellebores were so tempting – they were in a great variety of colours from darkest purple to cream. Some double. Some spotted. Some cascading. And we went into their plant shop and bought 3 new ones for our front garden… we did see a lot of bees in her garden from bombus to honey.

Due the fact that the garden is built on levels and all the paths are stepping stones/ uneven flags, the garden is not suitable for wheeled vehicles from pushchairs to wheelchairs.

 

Margery Fish's garden Lambrook ManorP1030162

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Hellebores and more

This is a note on one of the gardens we went to visit while in Somerset.

East Lambrook Manor Gardens were the home of Margery Fish, the garden writer.

Margery began her career as a ‘normal’ journalist assisting Lord Northcliffe of the Daily Mail in the 1920s. When she moved out of London, just before WW2, she and her husband took over a derelict manor house with a comparatively small garden – as manor houses go.

As she developed this garden she also wrote many articles and books. She wrote for Amateur Gardening, The Field and her first book was the story of how she made the garden at Lambrook Manor.

She was the gardening writer who made the ctaooge garden style so very popular and her garden at Lambrook is recognised as the prime exemplar of this and is listed as Grade 1 by English Heritage.

She died in 1969 but her garden has remained in private hands each owner maintaining faithfully the garden she set out.

As is our garden, hers is divided into different areas and is lovely in the early Spring as now as there are great collections of snowdrops including ones developed in the garden, hardy geraniums beginning to come out, and of course, hellebores. I’m afraid we couldn’t resist and bought 3 doubles: Yellow Speckled, Apricot and Purple Cascade. The first two are photographed here already inserted into our front garden.

hellebore double yellow speckled

Our front garden is intended to be at its best at this time of year and as well as hellebores we also have drifts of blue pulmonaria but the crocii have already faded.

Below you will see a couple of photographs of our garden with the cornus stems standing proud.

Anemone Blanda open blue and white when the sun shines and the magnolias are opening too. We still have a winter cyclamen in flower – like a small crimson flame but fading fast. All the daffs and narcissi are also bursting out and then fading.

cornus frontpulmonaria and hellebore frontunder the blue firHellebore_double_apricot[2]

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