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#NetGalley #BookReview of The Age of Witches by Louisa Morgan #HistoricalFiction #MagicRealism

 

The Age of Witches

by Louisa Morgan

Age of Witches Cover

Release date: April 7th, 2020

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Age of Witches by Louisa Morgan from NetGalley and Redhook Books in order to read and give an honest review.

Although slow to get into it is a well-written, engaging tale that once you are into it is well worth the read

The third in an unconnected series from Louisa Morgan Age of Witches is brilliant as a standalone.  Following the interconnected lives of three descendants of Bridget Bishop, a witch executed during the Salem Witch trials we see the good, the bad and the ugly of the craft.  Set in the late 1800’s we are introduced to Harriet the kindhearted elder of the group who as a healer has set up shop in New York. She prefers to use the craft to help others. We also meet Frances, who grew up in poverty and was deprived of her power only learning of it when her mother passes away.  Angry with her station in life she uses her power to elevate herself in society, by bewitching a young widower and finally getting the finances and respect never afforded to her before. We also meet Annis, the young stepdaughter of Frances who fights against her stepmothers controlling ways, preferring her horses to shopping and socials. Annis, not a “proper young lady” wishes to become the “unthinkable” for a young woman, a horse breeder, hoping to build an empire of her own.  Frances has plans of her own, wishing to obtain the one thing that would elevate her in society, a royal title and will use her powers to ensure that it happens.    Harriet who has watched over Annis through the years after her mother, another Bishop descendant passes away, steps in to ensure Frances doesn’t get away with the unthinkable.  

When the opportunity to arrange a marriage with a young Lord in England in financial straits arises Frances begins to bewitch those around her to meet her goal.  Harriet follows them overseas knowing Annis is at risk and is still unaware of her powers.  When the young Lord James finally meets Annis, he finds it difficult to accept Annis’s unorthodox behaviour Frances becomes desperate and her power, perverse. 

 Although slow to get into it is a well-written, engaging tale that once you are into it is well worth the read.  Louisa Morgan does an excellent job and creating brilliant multifaceted characters each with their own strengths and weaknesses, showing kindness and compassion in the name of family which is the one thing I found prevalent in this book. All in all a brilliant book I would definitely recommend. 

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#NetGalley #BookReview The Body in the Garden (Lily Adler Mystery #1) by Katharine Schellman #Historical #Mystery

Review

Body In The Garden Cover

The Body in the Garden

(Lily Adler Mystery #1)

Release date: April 7th, 2020

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Body in the Garden
(Lily Adler Mystery #1) by Katharine Schellman from NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books in order to read and give an honest review.

…Clever, complex, incredibly well-written and researched…

Set in Regency London, widow Lily Adler is returning to her old high society life as a reasonably wealthy and independent recent widow.  Without her husband or children, Lily is trying to carve a new meaningful life for herself in a society that once embraced her. Lily is not alone thanks to a strong friendship with her husband Freddy’s dear friend, Navy Captain, Jack Hartley.

While attending a friend’s high society ball she realizes that her social circle is fraught with scandal and secrets.   Lily overwhelmed with grief and the drama of the event takes a step outside for fresh air and hears an argument that ends in murder.  Shocked and overwhelmed by the events she is drawn to action when the case is swept under the rug and it appears that the victim won’t receive the justice he deserves.  Captain Hartley attempts to honour his friend’s memory by watching out for Lily which proves to be a constant and difficult challenge. Faced with the period’s misogyny Ms Alder boldly tackles the case with the help of Captain Harvey, and the young victim’s former fiancée Miss Ofelia Oswald. I have to say I’m also impressed by the way the author handles the misogyny, race and class issues of the time with sensitivity and respect.

Clever, complex, incredibly well-written and researched, this book keeps the reader enthralled and I have to say I absolutely loved it! Ms Schellman creates interesting, dynamic and real characters who have their flaws yet are likeable despite them.  The mystery plot itself though slow to build definitely does not disappoint.  With both friends and foes as suspects as well as corruption and treason at the highest levels, this book keeps you guessing to the very satisfying end. I’m looking forward to reading future books in this series!

#WATWB, Art, Creativity, Personal Development, Quotes, Writing

Resources to explore and learn during Covid-19 & #WATWB celebrates three years!

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Welcome to the “We are the World Blogfest” (#WATWB ). The #WATWB was inspired by a simple conversation about how all the negativity on social media was weighing on us. Wanting to make a difference we decided to try to do our part to infuse social media with all the good stories that are out there. We hope to share the stories that show kindness, compassion, hope, overcoming challenges and in general, the impressive resilience of the human spirit. For every dark, negative story out there, there is a positive, heartwarming story that will add some light and lift the human spirit.

This month also marks our third anniversary, we send a huge thank you to everyone who has joined us throughout the years.  We feel now more than ever that positive stories are needed to help balance all of the heartbreaking news we’ve been hearing in the wake of COVID-19. Having the internet is helping to keep us all connected, to ease the isolation and to let people know they are not alone.  For now, I hope to continue sharing on the last Friday of every month. This month’s five co-hosts are Sylvia McGrath,
Damyanti Biswas, Shilpa Garg, Dan Antion, and myself Belinda Witzenhausen.

If you are interested in joining us please feel free to check us out on Facebook and Twitter


In the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, we are now all facing a life-changing crisis.  Most of us will survive this, it will be difficult, challenging and many of us will have to rebuild but many of our grandparents and great grandparents endured their trials too, World wars, famine, diseases and the great depression just to mention a few…and yet here WE are. Most countries are implementing drastic measures to halt the spread of the virus, including social distancing, closing schools, public venues, bars, restaurants or even, putting the entire communities on lockdown.  As a result there seems to be a shift that despite our isolation thanks to the internet we are seeing that we are not alone.

Good deeds are being spread online too…we are seeing celebrities and organizations making extraordinary donations to charities that are in desperate need. We are hearing positive stories of people stepping up to help their communities and many celebrities are going online providing encouragement to help people in isolation.  Due to pleas online from frontline workers some big manufacturers are stopping production of their usual products to help provide essential medical equipment and supplies. Big or small gestures we can do our parts by social distancing (if you are able) keeping ourselves, our families and our communities healthy. Reaching out to those who might be lonely, by just checking in.

While in lockdown or self-isolation we need to try and keep engaged yet positive but unlike previous generations, we have this wonderful thing called the internet. For as much negativity we see at times it is also a wonderful way to reach out to friends, we can video chat with those we are missing, share resources, learn, pick up hobbies and console each other when we are overwhelmed. Museums and Artists have opened their doors virtually to brighten up those who are isolated.  Experts are offering free online help to students who are now being educated at home. Musicians are holding free online concerts and Authors such as Deborah Harkness, V.E. Schwab to name a few are reading their favourite books online via Instagram Stories to their fans. So many things to occupy our time here of my favourite links, most free are:


Museums

Ten Museums to Visit virtually (Smithsonian) ~  Click here

Guggenheim Museum, New York ~  Click here

British Museum, London ~  Click here

Musée d’Orsay, Paris ~  Click here

Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam ~ Click here

Louvre, Paris~ Click here


Education

190 universities just launched 600 free online courses ~ Click here

NASA has made their entire collection publicly searchable and copyright-free ~ Click here

Scolastic has created a free “Learning at Home” hub for teachers and families which presents 21 days of engaging, knowledge-building learning journeys for different grade levels that can be accessed at home by kids on any device, even phones. ~ Click here

Fun activities and downloadables for kids~ Click here

Teaching kids about coronavirus ~ Click here


Books

Download free books, e.g. Shakespear, Edgar Allen Poe, Frankenstein from Project Gutenburg ~ Click here

Listening books.org  Audiobooks for people with Parkinson’s Disease, visual impairment, fibromyalgia, ME/CFS, mental health difficulty or learning difficulty such as Dyslexia, which impacts the ability to read or hold a book ~ Click here

How to access local libraries virtually~ Click here

Neil Gaiman offers tons of cool stuff for free for you to kill your time with ~ Click here


Music 

Austin City Limits Online Archives and live streaming ~ Click here

Canadian band the Arkells fight COVID-19 social distancing isolation with online music classes via Instagram  ~ Click here

Canadian live streams ~ Click here


Cooking

“Kitchen Quarantine” With Michelin Star Chef Massimo Bottura offering free daily cooking lessons at 3pm EST via Instagram ~ Click here

America’s Test Kitchen posts full episodes of its cooking show, and more than 50 of the most recent episodes are free to stream. ~ Click here


Health and Well-Being

The people behind the Headspace Meditation app are offering a free collection for everyone called “Weathering the storm. It includes meditations, sleep, and movement exercises ~ Click here

Yoga with Adriene my go-to YouTube Yoga instructor has classes for everyone and at every level. ~ Click here

Planet Fitness has a free daily class at 7 p.m. ET on its Facebook Live page. ~ Click Here

The YMCA has a variety of resources for FREE online including Tai Chi, Barre, Youth Sports Performance and Weightlifting. ~ Click here

Even those who aren’t spending every waking moment online but are making the best of it…families are spending more time together, books sales are increasing and even from city blocks, while on lockdown, singers and musicians performing from balconies, fitness instructors are running exercise classes from rooftops, local restaurants closed to the public delivering meals to those on the front lines. Everyone is doing their best!

My advice for what it’s worth, take this seriously, adhere to advice but maintain a cautious optimism. If in isolation take this opportunity to take up a hobby or pursue an existing one, spend time with your family, read, write and create. You can’t control what’s going on but you can control how you respond. A cute little infograph I found on Facebook via TheCounselingTeacher.com puts it in perspective…

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For those brave ones on the front lines, the nurses, doctors, essential store clerks, farmers, truck drivers and all of those who are stepping up in this crisis putting themselves at risk I thank you!

“And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.
And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.

And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.”

~Kitty O’Meara

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#YoungWriters Series: Writer’s Block

Welcome to my #YoungWriters Series!

With the isolation and quarantines in place for COVID 19, many students are off school and at home. Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing writing prompts and writing articles to hopefully inspire and motivate you.

A Young Writers Guide To Writer’s Block

Rogers Wallpaper“You can’t think yourself out of a writing block;
you have to write yourself out of a thinking block.”
~John Rogers

Some people will tell you there is “no such thing as Writer’s Block” and to some degree they are right. But there will be days when writing just isn’t working for you. You know what I mean, those days when you sit in front of your computer and it feels like getting a cavity filled would be easier. Unfortunately, the only way to overcome this dreaded feeling is to write or refill your creative well… Here are five tips to help ignite your creativity…
Keep a journal. Set the timer on your phone, computer, whatever works for about 20minutes. Your goal is to just write continuously without stopping until your timer goes off.  Write down whatever comes into your head, however random, strange or unimportant it may seem. No censoring and no over-thinking.

Brainstorm. If you are stuck on a particular plotline grab a large piece of paper or a mind-mapping app and write down as many ideas no matter how unusual they may seem, they might trigger something that will work. It’s all about getting ideas down. A page full of ideas can jumpstart your creativity.

Talk with other writers. There are some moments when it’s easier to speak to others about ideas than to write them down. Try talking your story out with another trusted writer. If you are not yet ready to share ideas with another record your ideas on your phone or computer, talking things out can often help.  Take a look at online groups via social media.  On both Twitter and Instagram there are groups that share under various hashtags. Check out #writingcommunity #amwriting #writersofinstagram #writersofig. Facebook has so many groups and pages for the writing community and often they are genre-specific ie. urban fantasy, mystery, ya, romance etc. so you can connect with a community geared to the genre you wish to write in.

Writing Prompts. Sometimes all you need to get the creative juices flowing is to have some fun with silly or thought-provoking writing prompts. If you search google there are many sites that offer prompts, I will be sharing some here in the coming days too!

Create an Atmosphere or Ritual to get you in the writing mood.  I absolutely love my writing area. My original workspace is no longer available so I recently set up a new one in a corner of my bedroom and I love it! I have bookcases filled with inspiring books, vintage typewriters, inspirational pictures or quotes and a few kitsch items that are prominent in my story. I listen to music that helps evoke images in connection with my current WIP, light candles, grab a tea or coffee and snuggly blanket, something to stimulate each of my senses.

These are just a few ideas that work for me but often just sitting down and free writing helps. Journaling, prompts, or just documenting the moment by just writing about the room you’re in, can be enough to ignite that creative spark!

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Urgent: #Foster Families needed for #Cats #Toronto #Ontario #ScarboroughBluffsCatRelief

Worldwide, COVID-19 has stormed across the continents causing millions of people to isolate themselves at home, only going out for essentials such as food and medication. For most, this is an especially stressful time since many of our workplaces, schools, churches, gyms and restaurants have been closed indefinitely and many people are now more than ever feeling lonely and vulnerable.  A sad side effect from our busy culture is that many people who work have avoided having pets because they feared they wouldn’t be home enough, and their pets wouldn’t get the attention they deserve.

What we are facing now is an unusual situation and we have no idea when our lives will return to “normal”.  Many regret the decision of not having a pet to help keep them company not to mention the added stress relieving benefits pet ownership offers.

There is something you can do though, a temporary situation (or perhaps if wanted, a permanent) until things return to normal that would be a win-win situation for all involved.

Cat rescues are struggling right now too with an increase in the number of cats coming in.  Many shelters and rescues are normally fortunate enough to have local pet care businesses showcase their rescues that are up for adoption but with stores being forced to close or limit their staff, many rescues are struggling to find foster families to care for those animals being displaced. Scarborough Bluffs Cat relief is one of those rescues after another rescue had to close its doors when the owner passed away, they decided to help rehome their cats too.

Now here’s where you can help if you’re in the Toronto/GTA area and one of those people who would love to have a feline companion to ride out this COVID-19 storm Scarborough Bluffs Cat relief desperately needs you as a foster parent.  If you are interested, please contact Katherine at 647-476-4797. 

 Here are some of the cats desperately looking for foster homes… 

Sassy

Sassy is a 3 1/2-year-old female, spayed and up to date vaccines. She’s a pretty, small cat, very affectionate and has lived with small dogs and another cat. She’s not that comfortable with dogs but ok with cats after the proper introduction.

Moggie

Moggie is a tiny little girl with a big personality. We’re not exactly sure of her age but guessing around 5. She was found roaming the streets for some time. Moggie was in a catfight and sustained injuries and developed an abscess but she is fine now. We did test her for FeLV and FIV and tests came back negative. She is declawed, so at one point she did have a family that we were unable to trace. Like many declawed cats, it takes some time to reassure her that she is in no danger and to make her feel comfortable.

Juliet

Juliet is semi-feral and her age is unknown. Juliet was from a rescue which had to shut down its doors. Rescued on June 6th by the other rescue she has been spayed. She is a beautiful calico tabby. Juliet is an adorable smaller girl who is receptive to head pets but will hiss at you first. She has never attempted to bite or swat at a hand and has even taken treats from fingers. Once again, in the right home, she would more than likely become a very loving cat.

Sneakers

Sneakers also brought in from the closed shelter is roughly nine years old. She is generally a friendly cat who loves attention and rolls over and over while she enjoys being petted. She will give head butts and rub on you until you take the time to give her some loving. She can be a bit skittish at times but with time and patience, she will be your best friend.

Dublin

Dublin, a big boy looking for a kingdom to rule, with servants. He is about 3 1/2, vet checked, neutered, vaccinated and he’s also had dental work done. He is one of many that an elderly, frail couple had surrendered as they can no longer look after them. Dublin developed an abscess from a catfight which resulted in a pretty large wound on his head, which is still healing. Very affectionate, he prefers the company of people over cats, so a single home would be ideal. Of course, with a proper, slow introduction he would adjust to a home with another cat, preferably female.

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#YoungWriters Series: Keeping a Writer’s Notebook

Welcome to my #YoungWriters Series!

With the isolation and quarantines in place for COVID 19, many students are off school and at home. Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing writing prompts and writing articles to hopefully inspire and motivate you.  For those who read my previous post about Camp NaNoWriMo yesterday perhaps you are starting to brainstorm ideas,  working out plotlines, doing research or creating characters. Here are some tips to help keep you organized.

Most writers can’t control when inspiration hits. Our ideas often come at us at unusual times and often unexpected or inconvenient places. Most of my friends and family have laughed at me for the number of journals, notepads and scraps of paper (post-it’s in particular) I have around me at any given time. While in bed or busy I used to get a great idea for a new story or something to add to one in process, and I would jot it down whether it was on the back of an envelope, in a notebook or even on a coffee-stained napkin which was disorganized and let’s just say it….downright messy.

A while back I started using a traveller’s notebook to capture everything and I am hooked.  They are journal covers with elastics that slip into the centre of smaller notebooks allowing you to carry multiple notebooks at a time so that you can swap them in and out as they are filled. You also can add pockets, folders and dashboards(clear plastic pages for post-it’s) to keep all your notes in one place.  I keep four notebooks in mine, one general all-purpose one for ideas that don’t necessarily have a home just yet, and one for each individual project I am working on at the moment. I place post-its with ideas, to-dos or quotes on the dashboard. I attach interesting pictures, articles or jot down useful links that I want to research further. I personally love analogue over my phone, tablet or computer although I do rely on those on occasion. I find it easier to let my ideas flow with ink on paper and I find this way is easier to keep those ideas organized.  I go all out adding sketches, washi tape, pictures, stamps and postcards relevant to my projects. Traveller’s notebook can be found online or if you’re handy you can make your own. If you run a search on YouTube, Instagram or Pinterest you can find hundreds of tutorials and inspirational ideas on creating a system that works for you.

Misc notebooks, paints and pictures

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ATTENTION ALL YOUNG #WRITERS

With the isolation and quarantines in place for COVID 19, many students are off school and at home. Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing writing prompts and writing articles to hopefully inspire and motivate you.   If you are one of those students and love writing, why not work on some prep work for this coming Camp NaNoWriMo.

campnanowrimo

Have you heard of NaNoWriMo.org? Every November thousands participate in an online writing event to complete 50,000 words in just 30 days. Now they’ve made it even better, CampNaNoWriMo.org is a virtual writer’s camp, designed to inspire you and keep you motivated while you work on your masterpiece. Camp NaNoWriMo.org runs twice a year in April and July and unlike NaNoWriMo welcomes word-count goals of 30,000 and up. Writers can tackle any project they’d like, including new novel drafts, revisions, poetry, scripts, and short stories. So sign up today!  See you at camp!

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#Netgalley #Book #Review #Genealogy for Beginners by Katherine Pennavaria

Review

Geneaology for Begginers

Genealogy for Beginners

by Katherine Pennavaria

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of Genealogy for Beginners by Katherine Pennavaria from Netgalley  Rowman & Littlefield in order to read and give an honest review.

… a fantastic book for those who are just starting out to those, like myself who began the process but abandoned the search…

Genealogy for Beginners is just that an amazing guide for newbies like myself. It is an easy to understand, comprehensive and well-written guide to getting anyone started on their search or just back on track if they have gotten stuck.  

Author, Katherine Pennavaria walks us step by step on the search for our long lost family. We learn effective strategies on how to be a researcher from where to begin, how to manage and record our findings to interviewing existing family members. Pennavaria gives us sage advice on how to manage and organise family photos and documents and directs us to endless resources and how to find information in real life and online. 

A fantastic book for those who are just starting out to those, like myself who began the process but abandoned the search out of frustration. This will be a book that I will return to time and again on my genealogy journey. 

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This poor, cuddly boy “Dublin” is looking for his “furever” home! #Toronto #Ontario #Cat #AdoptDontShop #ScarboroughBluffsCatRelief

Dublin ~ Orange Tabby


Meet Dublin

Scarborough Bluffs Cat Relief is seeking the perfect home for Dublin, a sweet three and a half-year-old male, now vet checked, neutered and vaccinated.
The group has been helping a senior couple find homes for the many cats they have taken in over the years. Dublin is just one of many.
Sadly, while in foster care, he got into a fight with another male, which resulted in a very bad abscess. Under vet care, it is healing but will probably leave a scar. Hopefully, once his hair grows back, it will not be very noticeable.
Dublin is a very gentle, affectionate boy who loves people and has been raised in a multi-cat home. The fight was a result of these cats not having been neutered. Dublin has the adorable chops that male cats develop if not fixed for years. Like most ginger cats, he is very special and deserves a loving, forever home of his own.
If you or someone you know is interested in meeting him with adoption in mind, please contact Katherine at getset2001@gmail.com .

***Please note: GTA/Toronto adoptions preferred***

Books

#Netgalley #BookReview The Lost Future of Pepperharrow (The Watchmaker of Filigree Street #2) by Natasha Pulley #MagicRealism #Steampunk #HistoricalFiction

Review

The Lost Future of Pepperharrow

(The Watchmaker of Filigree Street #2)

by Natasha Pulley

Release date: March 3rd, 2020

The Lost Future of Pepperharrow

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of  The Lost Future of Pepperharrow (The Watchmaker of Filigree Street #2) by Natasha Pulley from NetGalley  Bloomsbury Publishing in order to read and give an honest review.

I am a huge fan of Natasha Pulley, she has such a unique and wonderful voice, her novels are always magical and mesmerizing. The Lost Future of Pepperharrow is the second instalment in her The Watchmaker of Filigree Street which as expected is incredibly well written, complex, completely unique and captivating. Although it definitely stands on its own I really do recommend reading the first book, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street.

We start a while after the events in The Watchmaker of Filigree. Thaniel Steepleton, Keita Mori and Thaniel’s daughter, Six and their Katsu their mechanical quirky octopus begin their adventure in Victorian-era London living their lives when they are asked to travel to investigate a ghost-infested British Legation in Tokyo.  Pulley introduces us to steampunk Tokyo, Hokkaido and even the infamous Aokigahara forest. Thaniel suffering from tuberculosis in the thick London fog agrees to accept the posting as an interpreter, while Mori returns to his royal home to use his powers to investigate unfortunately having to also face a past that he has worked hard to put behind him.

Slowly the Legation begins to see an increase in ghostly activity which seems to be plaguing them. Stranger things begin to happen when Pepperharrow, a woman from Mori’s past is called upon to honour a debt, Mori starts to change and seems incredibly distant.   When Mori goes missing, Thaniel and Pepper independently go to extreme lengths to find him.

This book has everything, the author introduces us to some larger than life heroes and villains in this instalment as well as introducing us to an interesting scientific plotline. I would highly recommend this book, Natasha Pulley has given us an exquisite novel, filled with characters that come to life, rich, well-researched world-building and beautiful, flawless prose that should be savoured and enjoyed.