February Book Reviews

Been a little bit slower on my reading this month as there’s been quite a lot going on and I’ve really been pushing to finish my latest draft of The Cauldron Born so only two finished reads this month.

First up, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s Good Omen’s:

I really enjoyed this book, it’s a lot of fun and a really interesting, original concept. I loved the quirky characters and it’s beautifully written. There are some very funny moments and one liners that had me chuckling to myself. The only thing I would say is that it’s a little bit slow in places and I found myself losing interest a bit towards the end but overall, definitely recommend it! Very much looking forward to Prime Video version, the cast looks amazing.

My other read this month was V.E Schwab’s A Gathering of Shadows, the sequel to A Darker Shade of Magic:

This was another very enjoyable read, as evidenced by the fact that I devoured all 500 pages of it in about 3 days. I think I actually liked it even more than the first instalment. V.E Schwab weaves a beautiful, lush and believable world that is very easy to sink into and get immersed in. I loved Lila’s adventures on the pirate…ahem..sorry…privateer ship and found a new favourite character in Alucard Emery. Not ashamed to admit that I kinda shipped him and Lila for a minute there. Lilalucard? He was a fun, interesting character and I found I wanted more of his scenes. I was a little disappointed that he wasn’t actually a vampire. I mean, c’mon, his name is Alucard.
Anyhoo, there were a few niggly annoying things about this book. The main one for me being the use of the “not like other girls” trope with Lila which seemed to be emphasised a lot more heavily in this one than the first. It just seemed like the author should kinda know better, particularly in a book with so many cool and powerful female competitors in the tournament who are barely brushed on. Kisimyr, anyone? But no, all girls like dresses and Lila is one of a kind because she prefers knives. K.
I also found some of the whining from Kel and Rhy a little bit tiresome in places. I totally get why they’re struggling. They’ve been through some major trauma. I just feel like we labour over it too much after it has already been made clear.
Overall though, it is superbly written and I found it very hard to put down.

So that’s my quick round-up of February reads. Up next I’m reading A Secret History of Witches by Louisa Morgan.

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MCM! Meet Niklas

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Niklas is my main character Cardinal Carrow’s primary love interest in my current WIP, The Cauldron Born . I also have to confess he is one of my favourite characters to write, the words just seem to spill out much more easily when he is “on-screen”, particularly when it comes to the witty repartee between him and Cardinal. I just love their chemistry and the way they spark off each other.

So, a little more about Niklas. First up, he’s a 1000+ year old former Viking vampire whom Cardinal meets when she moves into the apartment beneath his. They quickly strike up a mutual attraction but things are a little tricky since neither of them is in much of a good place to get involved with anyone.

Niklas is very tall, around 6’4, with wavy ash blonde air and silvery grey eyes and his skin is classically vampire pale. His ears have a very slight but noticeable point to them, suggesting he has fey blood somewhere in his ancestry. He has a dry, sarcastic sense of humour, which he often uses to deflect from revealing too much about himself. He has a good reason for secrecy but I’m not telling 😉

He has several tattoos, including three ravens entwined around a triple goddess symbol, representing his fealty to the goddess Morrigan, an Aegishjalmur (the Norse rune for protection) on his wrist, a flock of ravens in flight across his upper chest and shoulder and a tree of life, his family crest, on his hip.

Niklas is occasionally prone to bouts of hedonism, particularly when the weight and monotony of immortally become too much. Whilst he has a reputation as something of a wild child, he is reliable and stable when he has to be.  He is loyal and loving and will always step up when his loved ones are in need. Like Cardinal, he is fiercely brave, sometimes to the point of recklessness. After such a long life, he doesn’t cling to it too tightly and, like many Vikings, believes the date of his death was set long a go.

He has been many things throughout his life, a warrior, a prince, a slave, a concubine, a rock star, even a short and confusing pirate stage sometime in the mid 17th century, but his current incarnation is that of an art teacher at a night school. Painting and drawing were one of his first loves and the few things that have remained consistent throughout his life.

I could go on but let’s save some details for when The Cauldron Born comes out.

Hope you’re having a wonderful Monday and Blessed be! x

Mythology Monday! Meet the Morrigan

Welcome to Mythology Monday, a new regular feature I’ll be posting on the mythology that inspires my writing and the world of The Cauldron Born.

Today’s feature is all about The Morrigan, the Celtic goddess of war, fate and death. Morrigan is a figure I’ve been fascinated with for quite a while, ever since I first encountered her in the graphic novel The Wicked and The Divine by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie (if you don’t know of it it I strongly suggest checking it out, it is SO GOOD).

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The Morrigan, as featured in The Wicked and The Divine

Since then I’ve done a fair bit of research on the mythology of the Morrigan and felt very drawn to her as a symbol of the Goddess in her dark aspect. So it was no surprise really when Morrigan popped up in my head and insisted she had to appear in The Cauldron Born. In book 1, Morrigan only appears “off screen” through Niklas telling Cardinal all about his past encounters with her when he was just a young Viking warrior.

For those who aren’t familiar, here’s a little break down of who the Morrigan is.

The name Morrigan (or Morrigu, as it is sometimes written) is believed to mean “phantom queen” or “nightmare queen” from the Indo-European root word Mor (terror or monstrous), the Old English word maere (as in, nightmare) and the Scandinavian mara (also nightmare), and righan which translates as queen. There is also some argument that it was intended to translate as “Great Queen”, from the Old Irish mor, meaning great.

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The Morrigan, Image Credit Sharon Aur

In Celtic mythology, the Morrigan foretells the deaths of warriors in battle, often hovering above the battlefield in the form of a crow, ready to carry off the soul of the unfortunate fallen. This suggests that she was perhaps one of the inspirations behind the Irish legend of the banshee, a wailing hag that foretells death. As well as being a symbol of death, Morrigan was rumoured to be able to sway the outcome of battle, appearing in her crow form to either instil courage or fear in the gathered warriors. There are also some examples of the Morrigan actually fighting in the battles herself, such as the Battle of Mag Tuired, where she helps the Tuatha De defeat the Formorians.

As well as being a goddess of war and death, Morrigan has strong links to the land and, particularly, it’s animals. In addition to the crow, Morrigan was believed to be able to shapeshift into the form of a cow, a wolf and an eel, and has a strong affinity with horses. Morrigan is a protector of the land, it’s livestock and inhabitants.

 

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The Morrigan is often described as a “triple goddess”, representing Maiden, Mother and Crone, the divine feminine and the cycle of life. Sometimes she is pictured as one of three sisters, variably, Morrigan, Babd and Macha.

So that’s a brief outline of the Morrigan as I know her. If you would like to learn more about her I recommend “The Morrigan, Meeting the Great Queens” by Morgan Daimler for a more comprehensive introduction.

Also, the song “Morrigan” by Omnia gives a great feel of what the Morrigan is all about.

Blessed be! x

New Moon in Gemini

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It’s been quite a gap since my last post again, mostly because I’ve been deep in my writing cave editing “The Cauldron Born” and making a start on writing book two (!). So my head has been buried in my book world to the point that my poor partner has been saying a “I miss you” even when I’ve been in the room the whole time. It’s a tough life being the romantic partner of a creative person sometimes but  we’re worth it ;). I’m sure it’s something all writers have to contend with sometimes, when the muse grips you tight and all you want to do is write but there are still jobs to go to, meals to cook, houses to clean, plants to water, friends to see etc. I suppose ultimately it’s all about balance and sometimes having to accept that other aspects of your life may have to suffer in order to get where you want to be, creatively. Nothing worth having ever came without sacrifice.

That said, the last week and a half of intensive writing/editing all day then going to work in the evening has taken it out of me and I’ve decided to step back for at least today and take a break. Instead I’ve been turning my attention to planning for the next month and trying to get my scattered, chaotic thoughts in order ready for the New Moon in Gemini. I have a very busy brain sometimes and it really helps just to sit for a while and write things down and organise my thoughts on paper. So that’s what I’ve been doing today.

 

There is quite a lot going on but I do feel a little better for being able to see everything in black and white. I wanted to clear up some of my mental clutter in order to have a better idea of what I’m manifesting in this upcoming lunar cycle since of course today is the New Moon in Gemini!

June’s New Moon is a great opportunity to organise your thoughts, plan for the summer and reassess your goals in advance of next weeks Summer Solstice. Gemini is an air sign so it’s all about harnessing your mental powers in order to make your dreams a reality. New Moon in Gemini augurs the beginning of some great creative energies so it’s a good time to start a project. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be wanting to pull out those planners and journals and set out what comes next.  But remember, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Gemini is a bubbly, sociable and fun sign so make sure you leave time for making plans with friends and enjoying yourself in amongst all those goals. Summer is finally upon us and it’s time get out of the house and enjoy the good weather.

For some of us, this New Moon may leave us feeling like there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to do all the things we want to and there is just too much floating around in our heads. The onslaught of mental activity can leave us feeling a little anxious and overwhelmed. We may struggle to sort through all the threads our busy brains are weaving. In these moments, take a few deep breaths and centre yourself. Remember we don’t have to do everything all at once. There is time, even if it doesn’t feel like it. Go back to those journals, get your thoughts in order and prioritise what’s most important to you right now. If you focus on your true hearts calling, everything else will find a way to fall into place. Be kind to yourself, steer your thoughts to positive and remember the universe has your back!

Meanwhile, I’ll be over here trying to take my own and advice and remember to breathe! As you can probably tell, I’m feeling those New Moon mental energies hard! It’s all good and positive stuff but sometimes there just isn’t room for it all. Right, back to those to-do lists, where’s my highlighter?! 😉

Happy New Moon ! xo

Writing Update – Finished First Draft?!

Today I typed those two immortal words: The End. Wow. How scary is that? Of course it’s only the first draft and I still have a long editing process ahead of me, not to mention trying to figure out what the F to do with it then.But since this is literally the first piece of writing I have ever properly finished then it’s still a quite a major milestone.

The-end

A little bit of back story here on me and my writing journey so far. Like a lot of people I have been a major bookworm for as long as I can remember. Largely encouraged by my dad, I always had, and still always have, a book on the go. We were by no means spoiled kids and weren’t really allowed toys and many new things except for birthdays and Christmas’s (where we usually had A LOT of presents) but one thing we were always allowed was books. I can also always remember having a big imagination. I can’t recall a time when I didn’t have whole worlds and characters living in my head. I spent a lot of time at my grandma’s as a kid with my older brother and two closest cousins and I’d always be the one making up stories for them before bed. And all the adults around me would often comment that I was bound to become an author when I grew up.

When I reached my early teens I started to write “properly”, helped along a lot when I got my very first laptop, though I do remember spending long hours and days hand writing on lined paper then typing it up on the family computer. I had a few different “books” and scripts and story ideas that I worked on over the years but the main one was an ambitious century-spanning vampire tale (this was around the time of Twilight so of course vampires where THE THING at the time, although I’d always been a fan. One of my first stories that I would tell my sibling and cousins was The Peanut Butter Vampire, but that, my friends, is quite literally another story.) I had some crazy, pages long outline for an eight book saga with about a million characters and time jumps and lord knows what. For some bizarre reason I was attempting to write all eight books at the same time, jumping between them as and when the mood struck.  So after years of this monumental endeavour I had mountains upon mountains of bits of writing from various disparate bits of the story but nothing anywhere close to completion. I don’t remember exactly at what point I gave up on it. Possibly when I finished school and started college and began to see the whole thing as childish and unachievable. I pretty much dismissed all those years of work as crap and abandoned it. Having re-read some of it years later I think this assessment was overly self-critical and a bit unfair. While it is undoubtedly juvenile and down right cringey in places I do feel like there was definite potential in there, some of it was almost good, in fact. But I didn’t see it that way at the time. I just got bogged down in the over-ambitiousness of it all. My juggernaut of a story had grown too big and smothered me under it’s weight.

Over my college years I noodled about with other bits of writing, starting various different books, stories and scripts and finishing nothing except a mediocre horror short that I wrote for my film studies course work. At this point writing got pretty much side-lined by the second love of my life: film. I had decided that instead of an author I would now be a film maker. So I stopped writing all together and got my first job as an intern at a film production company and a short film festival. I won’t go into all the in’s and out’s of that as that would be a total tangent but the point is years went by (I think roughly 3 or 4 years if you’re a stickler for detail) where I didn’t write at all. This lasted right up until I moved out of my mum’s house and into my first home with my boyfriend. I can’t remember exactly where or when the idea for “The Cauldron Born” began but at some point without my really being aware of it, the stories had returned to my head. All I can recall is that somewhere down the line this bad ass red-haired young witch started hanging out in my imagination. And she was funny and wild and flawed and I started to wonder, what does this girl get up to? What happens to her, how does she change, how does she grow? And so it began.

Now, fast forward almost a year and a half later and we’re back to those two immortal words: THE END. But it’s not the end, really. It’s only the beginning. It’s the begining of a whole new adventure and it’s exciting and terrifying in nearly equal measure. But whatever happens next, one thing is now true that wasn’t true yesterday: I wrote a book. A whole entire book of over three-hundred pages. And of that I am immensely proud.

The End.