eBook: The Ancient Wish

I read this book at the beginning of the year. I attempting to catch up with my reviews, as I’ve fallen too far behind.

The Ancient Wish by S.A. Beattie

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The blurb: 𝐎𝐧𝐞 π₯𝐨𝐬𝐭 𝐠𝐒𝐫π₯. 𝐎𝐧𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐒𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐰𝐒𝐬𝐑. 𝐎𝐧𝐞 𝐜𝐑𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐠𝐞𝐭 𝐑𝐨𝐦𝐞.

Being sixteen is hard enough, but now Maxena Saltash’s best friend has a new boyfriend, is bullying the shy girl at school, and thinks Max’s choice of career is as lowly as the rocks she wants to study. Grateful to be away camping with her family, Max follows a strange creature deep into a cave system. But when she emerges, everything is different.

Frightened and lost in an unfamiliar world, Max is on the run from bandits who mean to kill her and kidnap the creature she names Roo. Along the way, she meets cranky Hazel, who blames Max for destroying his home, and mistrustful Peng, a disfigured half-man, half-bird who just wants to be accepted. But when Max discovers she holds the key to a powerful prophecy it’s up to her to solve the clues, endure five trials, and claim the ancient wish.

If Max fails, her murderous adversaries will use the wish for their own malicious intent. She will never see her home or family again, and the magical world will fall to ruin. Will Max find the strength to stand and fight, or will she remain forever lost?

Join the magical quest in a fantasy world with a steampunk twist, laugh-out-loud moments, and edge-of-your-seat action inΒ π˜›π˜©π˜¦ 𝘈𝘯𝘀π˜ͺ𝘦𝘯𝘡 𝘞π˜ͺ𝘴𝘩.

My review: The Ancient Wish is a young adult fantasy novel. It’s the type of fantasy I have always enjoyed. The type that takes someone from our world into another world. The reason I love this particular type of fantasy is because (to me) it makes the storyline feel real, possible.

Maxena finds herself in an unknown place, trying to work out how she got there and how she’s going to get home. But every time she turns around something happens–and with or without her permission she is drawn into an adventure.

She is joined by Roo, who seems to be a magnet for trouble. And then there’s Hazel, a little annoyed by Maxena’s intrusion, and Peng, who doesn’t really fit in with society. They join forces and all have their reasons for continuing the journey to get Maxena home.

Maxena and her new friends make a good mix of lively characters. I especially liked Hazel, whose personality was quirky and he got me smiling on numerous occasions. I felt sorry for Peng, as I could relate to not always feeling accepted by others, but he was aloof in his manner giving the air of mistrust.

Something was always happening. They would get out of one troublesome situation, only to find themselves in another one which was worse. The plot is fast-paced and easy to read. The world had a steampunk feel to it, which I also enjoyed. I should read more steampunk. Anyway, I felt the author did a great job with her descriptions, as I could easily visualise the towns and the people around the main characters.

I enjoy this first book in the series and look forward to reading the next book later in the year.

eBook: Sha’Kert: End of Night

Sha’Kert: End of Night by Ishmael A. Soledad

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The blurb: No blurb found

My review: It’s strange how things work out. A couple of months ago, I made a comment to my husband regarding wanting to read a book about the Amish people/culture, and the very next day I received a review request offering a book with an Amish theme. Of course, I had to say yes please to the offer.

Sha’Kert: End of Night drew me in and kept my interest from the very beginning. What made it more rivetting was the science fiction theme weaved in with the Amish theme. It was well done and felt natural.

Set in the future, where my imagination was free to paint my own scenes using the author’s guidelines, the main characters find themselves on another planet. The stories of how they got there are full and deep. There are difficult hurdles to overcome, life-threatening decisions to make, and a very real futuristic world that could become a reality, which was a little scary. And then what they go through once they get to the unknown planet left me wondering how I would cope in the same, or similar, situation.

The characters are well defined and can easily be identified. The world-building is excellent. I had no trouble believing and accepting what I was reading. The writing was exceptional.

The landscape was vivid in my mind and I kept returning to the book because I wanted to know what would happen next. There is more I would like to say, but I don’t want to give anything away. I guess I can say that I asked myself several times, would I survive if I were there. What would I do? Unfortunately, I cannot give the answer without giving a spoiler.

There was something deep in regards to the writing of this book. To be honest, although I’ve thought on it for a few days I am unable to verbalise it or put it into words. I don’t know what it is, but I feel as if I missed something, or didn’t understand something that should have been plain, that the deeper meaning of the storyline went over my head. Thing is, I don’t think this issue has anything to do with the way the author wrote the book. I believe my mind couldn’t grasp whatever it was because I’ve been unwell over recent months. And that saddens me.

I enjoyed the book. It held me captive for many weeks (I’m a slow reader these days). I am so happy I was given the opportunity to read this brilliant story and recommend it.

I received a review copy of this book, and this is an honest review.

Audiobook: The Woman in the Green Dress

The Woman in the Green Dress by Tea Cooper

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The blurb: 1853 Mogo Creek, NSW

Della Atterton, bereft at the loss of her parents, is holed up in the place she loves best: the beautiful Hawkesbury in New South Wales. Happiest following the trade her father taught her, taxidermy, Della has no wish to return to Sydney. But the unexpected arrival of Captain Stefan von Richter on a quest to retrieve what could be Australia’s first opal, precipitates Della’s return to Sydney and her Curio Shop of Wonders, where she discovers her enigmatic aunt, Cordelia, is selling more than curiosities to collectors. Strange things are afoot and Della, a fly in a spider’s web, is caught up in events with unimaginable consequences…

1919 Sydney, NSW

When London teashop waitress Fleur Richards inherits land and wealth in Australia from her husband, Hugh, killed in the war, she wants nothing to do with it. After all, accepting it will mean Hugh really is dead. But Hugh’s lawyer is insistent, and so she finds herself ensconced in the Berkeley Hotel on Hunter St, Sydney, the reluctant owner of a Hawkesbury property and an old curio shop, now desolate and boarded up.

As the real story of her inheritance unravels, Fleur finds herself in the company of a damaged returned soldier Kip, holding a thread that takes her deep into the past, a thread that could unravel a mystery surrounding an opal and a woman in a green dress; a green that is the colour of envy, the colour buried deep within an opal, the colour of poison…

My review: I was looking for something different to listen to while on my treadmill each morning and came across this audiobook. It’s set in Australia, and as I know of the two locations (Mogo Creek and Sydney) and have visited them, I decided to borrow this book.

The author wrote the story over two timelines and then merged them together. It was well done. I especially enjoyed reading about the hardships of the two eras – 1853 and 1919. Both eras would have been difficult to live in, and I could appreciate those difficulties and felt like I experienced them because of the way the book was written.

The taxidermy element was interesting to read as well. It’s a craft I know little about, but I believe the information given would be correct, especially the bit about arsenic. I also appreciated how the author wove the issues early Australia had between the new settlers and the original inhabitants of the land into the storyline as well. I believe many atrocities occurred back then. Many never recorded in history.

I class the story as a drama/mystery. There was a tiny bit of romance, but nothing overbearing. The characters were written well and fit together nicely. I was interested in the main characters, from both eras, and wanted to know what the harsh times and the storyline had in store for them.

I would recommend the book and would read more by this author.

Audiobook: The Wizards of Once, Books 2 & 3

I read, or listened, to both of these books in March 2021.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Twice Magic by Cressida Cowell

The blurb: This was once the story of a young boy Wizard and a young girl Warrior who had been taught since birth to hate each other like poison.

But now, the boy Wizard and girl Warrior have been brought together in the Badwoods and they have witnessed the shocking consequences of the Stone That Takes Away Magic. They will need to cast aside their differences once more–for an Evil Spell has broken free.

It’s up to Xar and Wish to find the ingredients. But it means entering dangerous territory unannounced…

My review: I have been borrowing most of the audiobooks I read from my local library. I read the first book last year in July. The books are so popular that I had to wait for a … very … long … time to get my hands on book 2. It was worth the wait.

The adventure continues for our two heroes – Wish and Xar. The plot is fast-paced. There’s no time to get bored, too much is happening. And the characters are intense, funny, different, and work so well together even if they do argue and screw things up for each other.

I enjoyed the pace and the humour. And, again, I especially enjoyed David Tennant’s reading of the book. He truly brings the book alive.

Again, totally recommended.

Knock Three Times by Cressida Cowell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The blurb: Xar and Wish are heroes with a huge task ahead–confronting the Nuckalavee is not for the faint-hearted. But with Magic and Iron together, they might just have a chance of saving their beloved homes from those who seek to destroy everything they hold dear. The third electrifying book in The Wizards of Once series fizzes with magic and introduces us to a host of glorious new characters: bears and piskies and magical pins and needles to name but a few.

My review: And we arrive at book three of the series. I believe there is one more book after this one, but I don’t have access to it yet.

Book 3 changed a bit, went in a slightly different direction. For me, that had something to do with a storyline that loosely fell into a Hogwarts feel as several chapters were in a school. Apart from that, the story continued to twist and turn. The characters are learning and growing, and betraying, because things are getting serious. Everyone is after them, including their parents. And, yes, sparks will fly. (You’ll get my meaning when you read the book.)

The books continue to be a fast-paced, exciting read. And the narrator, David Tennent, continues to bring the story and characters alive. I am thoroughly enjoying this series.

Not accepting book reviews at present

Sorry, I have enough books in the queue to keep me busy for the next five or six months, so I have had to close the doors for the time being before it gets too overwhelming.

If your book has been accepted, or if you have received an email saying I will accept a copy of your book, then your book is included in my current queue and I look forward to reading and reviewing your work soon.

I will reopen the review doors when I catch up with what I have.

A Free eBook for Easter

Journey to Freedom cover
A mini fantasy collection

Journey to Freedom – free download for 5 days only.

A mini fantasy collection consisting of four short stories with common themes of oppression and struggle. The main characters crave freedom, but can they find what they are looking for?

This is an exclusive offer to the readers of my blog only. I’m offering you an Easter present, being any ebook format of “Journey to Freedom” for free.

The offer expires on 6 April 2021, so download your copy now. Available as an epub, mobi or PDF.

Use the coupon code Easter at the checkout.

TiddlyWiki 5

In 2005 I was introduced to TiddlyWiki by a friend. I used another online wiki for a while, as that suited me better at the time because TiddlyWiki did not support Linux (and I was going through a Linux phase). But, as soon as I returned to windows I went back to TiddlyWiki.

I have created several wikis. They are brilliant for keeping research notes, which I do, but I mainly use wikis to create character profiles and build worlds. I have one for each writing project. I also have them for other purposes, such as a games list and book list.

Anyway, imagine my surprise when I recently discovered that TiddlyWiki can do a whole lot more than what I’ve been using it for. I hadn’t even scrapped the surface.

Some things are simple, like creating an index page that populates itself if set up properly. To think, I’ve been creating pages and adding them to the main menu or a sub-menu. This year I spent some time in modifying the way I use my main wikis (and will eventually change all of them). Now, my wiki works efficiently allowing me more time to write (or plan) a novel.

Most recently, I turned a blank wiki into a Game database. At this stage, I have to thanks the TiddlyWiki User Group for answering my silly questions. They certainly helped me out when I needed it, as my knowledge of the backend stuff is limited.

The other thing I discovered in the last month or so is that TiddlyWiki can be set up as a website. You can see one in action and also find heaps of tips at https://tobibeer.github.io/tb5/#Welcome and if you’re a visual person (like me) then you may find this YouTube video helpful, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vsdDs7oOLlg.

Inserting linked images is something I found difficult, so here’s the coding. I am putting it here for you, but also for me as I’m sure I’ll need it again in the future.

<a href="https://www.website.com" target="_blank">{{image.jpg}}</a>

For this code to work you must upload “image.jpg” into the wiki.

TiddlyWiki is brilliant and I highly recommend it. My only negative comment is that the documentation is written for people who know coding. For people like me, that have limited knowledge in this area, I found the documentation confusing as I didn’t understand what I was reading.

Now that I’ve mastered the database, I’m going to attempt creating a website with TiddlyWiki. My wish list is extensive, and I’m not sure that all of it can be achieved, so I’m not holding my breath. But I will try and…who knows…maybe I’ll be lucky.

2021 and moving forward

No one I know has said that 2020 was a good year. Yes, good thing may have happened, but they were definitely overshadowed by COVID-19.

As of today, in the past twelve months, there have been over two million deaths worldwide. That is a huge figure and I cannot imagine how devastating it has been for the families of those people. I can only give my condolences.

In Australia, we have only had 909 deaths. Only. Even that many, is too many. We have restrictions in place, which change regularly. But whatever we’re doing seems to be working, so I’m pleased about that.

Other things happened in 2020. My blood disorder resurfaced, which meant I had to go back on injections that made me very sick. I started to improve after Christmas, but had a sudden downturn. I’m currently seeing my doctor and specialist about that, but hope we have a plan that works out positive.

Also in 2020, I managed to read 33 books. Most of them were audiobooks, which I listened to while on the treadmill or out walking the dog. Never in my life have I listened to so many audiobooks. I must say that I loved it. And I loved the fact that I was multitasking too.

During 2020 I was working on my next writing project. It took me some months of planning and the rewriting phase was slow, but I was fine with that as I want the book to be great. Unfortunately, when the injections started, the rewriting stopped because I was unable to focus and didn’t want to ruin any chapters.

However, I have restarted the rewriting of that book over the last few days. I had to fix the last part of the last chapter I had been working on as it was lacking…everything! But, that is done, and I’ve happily moved on to the next chapter. I cannot give a timeline for when it might be finished. I don’t intend to rush it.

Now it’s 2021. The year started out dodgy, but is now improving. I’m not looking for wealth or fame. My first aim is to be healthy and happy. If I have those two things, the rest will follow.