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 and if you’re a visual person (like me) then you may find this YouTube video helpful,

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="" 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.

eBook review: The Box-Car Children

The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The blurb: The Boxcar Children tells the story of four orphaned children, Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny. They create a home for themselves in an abandoned boxcar in the forest.

My review: This book was written in 1924, and I read the original text.

The book was written by a school teacher, so she was around children a fair bit so must have had a good understanding of how they behaved. The thing to remember when reading the story is that it was written almost 100 years ago, so the reader should expect some odd descriptions and old-fashioned speech. And, I guess, out-dated values too.

I easily put those things aside and took the story as-is. Four orphaned children run away and make a life for themselves. The older children take care of the younger ones. They find ways to manage. They find shelter and earn money to buy food. I can’t imagine children today doing these things, but I accept that this is only a story. It’s for entertainment purposes only.

It’s also aimed at children’s imaginations. I would have loved the story as a child and I loved it now because it allowed my imagination to fill in the blanks. I believe children who can read by themselves will enjoy the adventures of the boxcar children.

Going Cabled Knitting Project

I’m not afraid to try new things, but sometimes I do go overboard. I fancied trying a pattern with cables, so I went on the hunt and found something I liked. It had cables, but not just one set. It had four!

Plus, just to spice things up a bit, I decided to chose a pattern that incorporated part of the back with the front, and the neckband all in one piece.

The cables themselves are not difficult — fiddly, but not difficult. I experienced issues with the cable needle (it had a mind of its own) and decided to throw caution to the wind and not use one, choosing to just remove the stitches from the needle. Worked well for me, but it can be dangerous so be careful.

The first half, as pictures to the right above, starts in the middle of your back and is worked around your side and up the front. It wasn’t hard once I got used to the pattern itself and the shaping. But when I had to pick up the stitches and work in the opposite direction, that proved more difficult because I had to reverse the shaping, which was confusing. The second half took a while to conquer, but I got there in the end.

Once all the pieces were knitted, it took me quite some time to work out how the pieces fitted together. Eventually, I laid the pieces on the table as if they had been sawn together and that’s when I realised what I had to do.

The pattern is called Get Cabled Shrug designed by Alice Tang and is available for free download.

This was an intermediate pattern and took me some time to knit, about six weeks. I used 8 ply acrylic wool.

I’m happy with the end result and know I’ll wear the shrug. I love the colour and I decided to add an invisible hook and eye to keep the shrug in place, rather than knit the recommended cord.

The Patter of Little Feet

I started knitting, and even tried my hand at crochet, over the winter months. I’ve knitted for years, and although I don’t consider myself advanced, I do like to try different things. Stops the boredom.

My first project was small and quick to help get in the mood. There’s nothing like starting and finishing something on the same day to inspire me. Besides I knew a couple of young ladies who were/are expecting their first baby and thought I’d make something for them.

I knitted a pink and blue pair of these simple booties. Honestly, they are quick to knit up and easy to sew together. In fact, the video that I used was made especially for beginners. Here’s the link:

I knew one of the women was having a baby girl (I say was because she has given birth to her gorgeous daughter about a month or so ago). The other woman has decided not to know the gender of her baby, so it will be a surprise when the time comes.

With this in mind, I decided to make a newborn baby cardigan for each of them. Naturally, I made a pink one for the little girl, but not knowing the sex of the other, I went for a multi-coloured yarn for the other baby.

I chose this pattern because it is knitted in one piece, from the neck down, which I had never attempted before. In case you’re interested, the 5 Hour Knit Baby Sweater pattern can be found here.

It took me longer than five hours, but I easily completed one cardigan in two or three sittings (depending on the length of each sitting). The biggest issue, for me, was how to fix the underarm area. The yarn stretches a fair bit, leaving an unsightly mess to be honest. Or, maybe it was just me. Anyway, I had to return to YouTube to find a tutorial on how to fix that, but (sorry) I’m unable to find the video that I used now.

The end result was great. Add a few buttons and the cardigan is done. For the little girl, I also knitted a beanie to match the cardigan as she was born in the middle of winter. I won’t bother knitting one for the other baby as it will be a late spring baby and won’t need one.

Anyway, the cardigans, the booties and the beanie were my first knitting projects for the year. I enjoyed knitting them, but wanted to spread my wings and try something a bit harder next. I’ll write another post about that soon.