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#NetGalley #BookReview of A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians A Novel by H. G. Parry #Fantasy #Historical

A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians

A Novel

by H. G. Parry

A Declaration of Rights for Magicians

Release date: June 23rd, 2020

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians
A Novel by H. G. Parry from NetGalley and Redhook Books in order to read and give an honest review.

Clever plot lines, interesting characters, well written and researched,I loved everything about this book.

This book is unlike anything else I have read, this dark epic historical fantasy was complex and took a while to get into but was definitely worth it.   

Set in the 18th century, A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians is an alternate history of the times including the infamous French Revolution. The story features three interconnecting plot lines set in the Caribbean, Paris and London. There are multiple political events driven by a dark powerful entity whose endgame is shocking.  It’s thought provoking in so many ways as the characters are challenged with moral dilemmas surrounding issues such as slavery, classism, to what end are they willing to go to succeed and at what cost. 

To get to the basics of the story, we are witness to the alternate version of history where magic is strictly regulated. Commoners are forbidden to use it and are given magic dampening bracelets that burn if their powers are used and face imprisonment or execution for breaking the law.  Even to save a life, magic is forbidden to commoners, only aristocrats and nobility are allowed to wield their power without consequence.  The three plot lines were equally compelling reminding me of a game of chess with the characters being pieces moved along the board with a singular purpose invisible to the reader until the end.  

H.G. Parry introduces us to Fina a slave working on a sugar plantation under British rule in Jamaica. The slaves are mistreated, their powers bound by a potion so that they are under the plantation managers  complete control. In a brief period when her magic seeps through Fina hears a voice telling her to flee Jamaica in order to save her fellow slaves and join a slave rebellion on Santa Domingo.  Meanwhile in France, Robespierre is fighting for the rights of the commoners and their ability to use magic for the betterment of their lives and in London, a trio of politicians are working for the abolition of slavery despite it being heavily debated. Each character is well developed and deals with unique obstacles and the consequences of their actions.  There is so much going on in this book it’s difficult to capture it all in this review without spoilers. Bottom line I loved the book although, ending on a cliffhanger of sorts was surprising and I certainly hope we get a second in the series from H.G. Parry. 

Clever plot lines, interesting characters, well written and researched, I loved everything about this book. This book is for you if you enjoy compelling, thought provoking historical fantasy with a twist!

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#NetGalley #BookReview of The Indigo Ghosts by Alys Clare #HistoricalFiction #Mystery

 

The Indigo Ghosts

by Alys Clare

Indigo Ghosts Cover

Release date: June 2nd, 2020

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Indigo Ghosts by Alys Clare from NetGalley and Severn House Publishers in order to read and give an honest review.

intricately woven and well written plot contains twists and turns with intriguing historical details and authentic, multifaceted characters which make this a thoroughly enjoyable read

This is my first time reading Alys Clare’s work and I have to say I loved it! The Indigo Ghosts is different as it mixes mystery and history with a touch of the supernatural and teeters on the edge of being in the vein of Gothic literature. Although the third book in the series, having not read the first two I found nothing lacking in it as a stand-alone and found it quite enjoyable. 

Set in Plymouth in the 1600’s When his former Captain, Captain Colt calls Dr. Gabriel Taverner in to investigate strange occurrences aboard the ship he used to serve on. Sailors have been experiencing strange things such as blue ghosts and whispers from a malicious spirit. The crew are terrified when it appears stowaways had once resided in a small hold on the ship and left something behind, and as Taverner and Captain Colt explore the holds they find a small hiding space in which a small desiccated adult body is found nailed through the chest to the ship’s ribs.  When another body is found hidden in a waste barrel on the ship with his hands died blue the mystery takes off. There are intelligent arguments for and against the paranormal events melding science and mysticism and we go on a twisting journey with touches on vodou, trade routes, slavery and the Caribbean. 

The intricately woven and well written plot contains twists and turns with intriguing historical details and authentic, multifaceted characters which make this a thoroughly enjoyable read.  I will definitely be reading more of Alys Clare’s work! Entertaining read that I would highly recommend. 

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Meet Sassy! An incredibly cuddly girl looking for her “furever” home! #Toronto #Ontario #Cat #AdoptDontShop #ScarboroughBluffsCatRelief

Meet Sassy

Sassy


Scarborough Bluffs Cat Relief is looking for a loving, forever home for adorable Sassy, a three year old tabby. She needs a home with no other pets as she is terrified of dogs and not happy to share her human with another cat.  Sassy has been vet checked, vaccinated and spayed. Super affectionate, she will be your best friend! She loves to just be around people and spend time with you. Like any cat when she wants your attention she will go out of her way to get it! She loves to show off how absolutely adorable she is by rolling around, especially if you’ve just gotten home from a long day she’s a cat who will definitely show you how much she’s missed your love during time away!

Sassy

Playful, she loves to play! Laser pointer, teaser toy or just noisy little ball toys that she can pat around! She loves them all! I think as long as you’re taking some time to just play and show her you’re there she’ll enjoy just about any toy you throw her way!

Please note that an adoption fee applies. For further information or to meet her, please contact scarboroughbluffscatrelief@gmail.com

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

 

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#NetGalley #BookReview Sea Change by Nancy Kress #ScienceFiction #Ecology #GMO

 

Sea Change

by Nancy Kress

Release date: May 22nd, 2020

Sea Change Cover

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(3.5) Rounded Up


I received a complimentary ARC copy Sea Change by Nancy Kress from NetGalleyTachyon Publications in order to read and give an honest review.

To give her credit, the book is well-written, clever and the author does write realistic, multifaceted and mature characters …

This was the first work of fiction I have read from Nancy Kress. In the past I had read her non-fiction books on writing as part of a workshop I had taken and really enjoyed them.  I was really looking forward to reading this novella and although well-written in many ways, it just wasn’t what I expected.

Coined a bio-thriller, although interesting wasn’t as dynamic or “thrilling” as advertised.  The author bases an espionage story around the benefits of GMO’s over traditional agriculture but much of it felt like a huge info dump interspersed with an interesting mystery and very character driven story.  To give her credit, the book is well-written, clever and the author does write realistic, multifaceted and mature characters.

The Protagonist, Renata Black is driven by her beliefs, all her life she has been championing for good, always looking for a cause even to the point of ruining her marriage to her Hollywood bound husband.   When her son dies because of a water issue attributed to agricultural run-off she makes promoting GMO’s her new mission.

Set in the future, an incident ten years prior involving an bio-pharmaceutical incident resulting the deaths of children causes major GMO companies to disappear and agriculture with pesticides and fertilizers to become the norm.  Looking for a cause to help her deal with her grief  of losing her son she joins “The Org” as operative Caroline Denton. The Org, a pro-GMO, ultra-secretive , underground organization is working to bring back GMO’s to reduce starvation and ecological disasters around the world. When not working as an operative as Renata she works as a paralegal for a lawyer prosecuting rape cases for the Quinault reservation, where her son passed away.

The story opens with Caroline getting to investigate a runaway  self-driving house blocking traffic and its operator/owner believed to be an Org operative is missing, and it appears to be the result of a mole in “The Org”. When a splinter cell gets raided and her name becomes known, Caroline/Renata is hunted by the government and labelled a terrorist.

The hunt for the missing operator, a case involving the rape of a Quinault teenager and her grief over losing her son are the plot-lines running through this novella, but they all felt overshadowed by too many info dumps revolving around GMO’s which in my opinion took away from the story of this short novella.  Reading is subjective and although I found Sea Change hard to immerse myself in, doesn’t mean it won’t be appreciated by someone else.

 

Information, Scarborough Bluffs Cat Relief

Urgent: Experienced #Foster Families needed for #Kittens & #Pregnant #Cats #Toronto #Ontario #ScarboroughBluffsCatRelief

Porsha and kittens

Sadly, it’s that time of year and with the current climate many cats are in dire need of foster homes.
Scarborough Bluffs Cat Relief needs experienced fosters for pregnant moms or moms with kittens, preferably in the Scarborough area or close by.
We have one mom, Porsha, with 7 four week old babies and another mom expecting very soon.
Kittens need special care and a very vigilant foster, as kittens may be unable to nurse properly or mom may not have enough milk. In that case, bottle feeding may be needed.
For further information or to foster, please contact Katherine at getset2001@gmail.com.

***Please note: East end GTA/Toronto fosters/adoptions preferred***

 

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Say Hello to Moggie, a tiny little girl with a big personality looking for her “furever” home! #Toronto #Ontario #Cat #AdoptDontShop #ScarboroughBluffsCatRelief

Meet Moggie

Moggie


Scarborough Bluffs Cat Relief is looking for a single home for Moggie, a tiny little girl with a big personality.
She is friendly, seeks out attention and loves her head and neck petted. We’re not exactly sure of her age but guessing around 5. She was found roaming the streets for some time, even in the coldest winter. A concerned neighbour asked us to help her when he saw that she was hurt. Moggie was in a cat fight and sustained injuries and developed an abscess but she is fine now.
She was vet checked, chipped, vaccinated and tested 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.
For further information on Moggie or to meet her, please contact Katherine at getset2001@gmail.com.

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

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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!

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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.