Book Review: Dissident (Forbidden Things Book 1) by Nikki McCormack

Dissident (Forbidden Things Book 1) by Nikki McCormack

A Fantasy Novel published by Amazon Digital Services, Inc. (9/02/14)

Summary:

Indigo has always suppressed her Ascard power because society does not allow the use of powerful Ascard. She can use a limited amount as a healer but has worked all her life to hold in her inner aspect and connection to Ascard. Her power does not go completely unnoticed, as an exotic stranger contacts her through Ascard, seeking her help. Intrigued by him and ruffled by her rocky relationship with her fiancé, she follows the stranger into his prison. After she helps him escape, she thinks she will never see him again. Fate brings them together again, but he still needs her help.

Keywords:

Power, Control, Magic, Inner Strength, Inner Aspect, Travel, War, Fighting, Struggle, Talent, Healing, Abuse, Sex, Love, Creation, Lies, Slaves

My Review:

This novel had a great balance  between romance, fantasy and plot. I was pulled in by Indigo’s struggles to live up to others’ expectations in her restrictive society and her struggles with her fiancé. The intrigue and quick attraction between Indigo and Yiloch pulled me into the romantic aspect of the book and the plot kept the entire novel together as action wove through until the end.

Indigo is a role model for female characters. She’s strong, not in relation to man, but in relation to her enemies and her friends. She doesn’t have to stay in her relationship. She has control over her fiancé in a way he can’t even fathom. She isn’t smug about her skills and she doesn’t look down on others, even though she is stronger than everyone around her, even her teacher.

I enjoyed the writing style of this fantasy novel, just as much as the clean writing of McCormack’s steampunk series – Clockwork Enterprises.

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services, Inc. on 06/09/2015 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.50

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Twitter

Nikki McCormack’s Website

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Indie Author Day 2 Wrap-Up – Thanks KCLS, PNWA and Indie Authors!

I love the library. They are such an invaluable resource in our community and KCLS (King County Library System) is the 13th largest in the nation! I’ve used them for books, audiobooks, CD’s, DVD’s, printing, research, community space, meetings, and more! Indie Author Day is another wonderful program put on by the library and I was happy to have a booth and the opportunity to speak about my experiences as an Indie Author in my own presentation!

Thanks to PNWA for sponsoring the snacks table and for all the wonderful information they provided for authors and participants.

At 11, Jenni Conner and D.V. Berkom discussed Conception without Deception: The Birth of Your Story Without the Pitfalls. At noon, Pam Stucky confronted a common challenge in Fear, Failure, and the Fallacy of Writer’s Block: Getting Out of Your Own Way. At 1, Rachel Barnard talked about how to celebrate a new book in New Book Release Checklist: Planning a Fun and Inviting Launch. Did you miss the panels? Here is the link to my downloadable pdf of the book release checklist.

In addition to the presentations, twenty authors were in attendance to share their books, their self-publishing or indie publishing experiences, and their tips and tricks for marketing and promotion. Authors and editors who attended included Kristin AlanaRachel BarnardD.V. BerkomPam BinderTom BlaschkoD.K. CassidyJennifer Connor, Nicanor Garcia, Josephine HaoSara Lynn HoytSheleen NaparM.E. PalmerDeborah SchneiderPam StuckyMichel Visger, Marcus Ward, and David Workman.

Book Review: First Daughter (The Royals of Dharia, Book Three) by Susan Kaye Quinn

First Daughter (The Royals of Dharia, Book Three) by Susan Kaye Quinn

A Fantasy Novel published through Amazon Digital Services Inc. (09/29/14)

Summary:

Aniri is ready to do anything to save her home kingdom and her future kingdom, but first daughter Nahali will be the new leader of Dharia soon and they don’t always agree. Nahali thinks war is the answer while Aniri still hopes that war can be evaded by stopping the second son of Samir and his deadly skyship from within.

Keywords:

Fantasy, Airship, Mountains, Barbarians, War, Threats, Royalty, Duty, Romance, Duels, Intrigue, Secrets, Love, Alternate Reality, East Indian, Arranged Marriage

My Review:

Twists and turns and adventure cover the pages of this last novel. Of the three Royals of Dharia books in this trilogy, First Daughter is the most exciting and filled with the most action! The book was very fast paced.

Aniri grew and changed so much in the course of these three books, coming into her own as a soon-to-be queen of her own kingdom. Each of the sisters of Dharia; Seledri, Nahali, and Aniri grew into their own by the end of this trilogy. I loved how their bond of sisterhood was the strongest in the end and seeing their love for each other as they fought for each other and their kingdoms was wonderful to behold. I loved how different each of the sisters were in their personalities, their actions and their political predicaments.

A great ending to a fantastic, steampunkian and historically-angled trilogy!

This novel was published through Amazon Digital Services Inc. on 09/29/2014 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.25

Links for more information:

Susan Kaye Quinn’s Website

Goodreads

Local Event Alert! Indie Author Day in Issaquah, WA

Indie Author Day
Saturday, October 14, 2017 (10:00AM – 3:00PM)
Service Center – 960 Newport Way NW
Issaquah WA 98027

Join us for the second annual Indie Author Day, a celebration of self-published and independently published books and authors! Meet local indie authors, attend presentations, and workshops, and learn more about what KCLS offers for self-published authors and the readers who love them.

Authors and editors include Kristin Alana, Rachel Barnard, D.V. Berkom, Pam Binder, Tom Blaschko, D.K. Cassidy, Jennifer Connor, Nicanor Garcia, Josephine Hao, Sara Lynn Hoyt, Sheleen Napar, M.E. Palmer, Deborah Schneider, Pam Stucky, Michel Visger, Marcus Ward, David Workman.

Presentations will cover overcoming writer’s block, marketing your book, and planning a successful book launch (aaaah the one I’m presenting!)

Sponsored by the Pacific Northwest Writers Association.

All About the Donuts: Local Donut Shop Review – Donut & Muffin Factory (Auburn, WA)

Donut & Muffin Factory

Auburn, WA

201 4th St NE
Auburn, WA 98002

(253) 939-8030

Review criteria:

Most popular donut at the shop: Maple Bar

Signature shop donut: NA

Most popular US donut: glazed

2nd most popular US donut: Boston Crème

Donut Hole: Yes

What I tried:

Maple Bar, Raspberry Filled, Boston Creme, and a dozen donut holes for $3.65

 

What to expect:

This is your standard donut shop. They’ve been in operation over 30 years and know how to make their donuts and please their customers. Eat a donut inside or take it to go, parking is easy and the staff is friendly. The donuts are fresh (even the ones you buy at the end of the day) and the dough is delicious.

 

My favorite:

If you like maple bars, you will LOVE this shop’s maple bar. I’m a fan of glazed and yeast donuts and absolutely loved their dough. The donut holes and boston creme were delicious! I absolutely loved that the boston creme was a glazed donut and not a powdered or chocolate topped.

GFF Damian Pole Camp – Gran Canaria 2017

Europe is expensive.

Of course it is. I knew this. The dollar isn’t worth as much as the euro. But I went. And it was one of the top experiences of my life. I’ll never be able to replicate those 9 full days in Gran Canaria. It wasn’t just a vacation. It wasn’t just pole camp. It wasn’t just a Spanish Island. It was so much more.

 

Here is the breakdown:

  1. 4 days of pole camp (16 hours of training including pole tricks & combos, heels class, doubles, pole heels, beach stretch, acrobalance, salsa, and dancehall)
  2. Gran Canaria is a Spanish island so I got to practice my Spanish!
  3.  Parasailing, scuba diving, jet skiing, tanning, drinking, eating, and exploring the ocean and the island
  4. Meeting over 20 people who also love poling as much as I do
  5. Traveling with one of my favorite pole sisters
  6. 19 hours of travel to get there and 21 hours of travel to get back
  7. Asthma getting better and then worse with a nasty cold developed on our last flight back

 

Culture Shock:

After growing up in a country where people don’t bat an eye when you drink out of the garden hose – not having access to ‘free’ water was a shock. I saw many people drinking juice, alcohol, or small glasses of water. How are people in Gran Canaria not dehydrated? I made it my mission to drink at least one of the 1.5 liter bottles that were sold everywhere (from 0,50 to 1 euros apiece). A little ice water anyone? Most of the water was mildly cold at best and ice was not always available. The glasses provided at the IFA hotel were perhaps 8oz glasses and only available if you paid for ‘all inclusive’ – which was 13 euros a day for the remainder of your stay (you couldn’t just pay for a single day or choose which days you wanted to be all inclusive).

Sunscreen was everywhere you turned but most people weren’t using it or were using a 15 spf or just tanning oil. With my 55 spf facial lotion and 45 spf sport sunscreen, I was the odd woman out. I was also one of the only light skinned people in our group who didn’t turn into a red lobster. I did burn my hairline when I forgot to pull my hair back into a ponytail on one of our outdoor excursions.

You would think that out of a group of Polish, English, Australian, and the two N. Americans, that someone would be fluent in Spanish. I spoke the most Spanish out of anyone in our group. Most of the time, Spanish was not necessary to get where we needed to go, but it was useful to be able to do more than point and speak a few words. I’m glad I got to go to a Spanish-speaking country (island).

What can you get that’s made in Gran Canaria? Not much. Jewelry made out of lava rock. Some special aloe soaps. Beer. I was a bit disapointed that there weren’t any special Gran Canarian candie. Fish? Yes. Sauce? Yes. Chocolate? No.

Everything costs money. Want to weigh your bags before you head to the airport? 1 euro. Want to drink some water? Who knows how many euros. Want to use the safe in your room? 2 euros a night. Want some wifi? 2 euros a day or only obtainable in the lobby. Want a fan? (mind you there is no air-conditioning). 2 euros a day.

I always forget that when outdoors, people smoke without regard for others. I despise cigarette smoke. After a bout of nasty bronchitis following Seattle’s poor air quality and the smoke from the surrounding states’ fires, I was especially vulnerable to toxins in the air. People smoke everywhere in Europe! In the bars. On the beach. While eating. While tanning. While in the hot tub (which is not hot, by the way). While with friends. While walking. I couldn’t get away from the smoke. Towards the end of our trip, the smoke would trigger an asthma attack where I would cough violently with my entire upper body and then suck in air without getting adequate oxygen for about 10 seconds. The night before we left, I coughed so violently I vomited. I broke my record for not vomiting on planes as my coughs were still so hard that I vomited three times on our second flight and was very afraid of any coughing thereafter.

Where was all the wifi? Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t. Sometimes you had to pay and sometimes it was free. It was never very fast…

Anybody else notice all the cats? We saw at least 7 cats lounging in the sun, some in better shape than others.

The food was so delicious! I just wish there were more vegetables! Every day at the IFA was a buffet and I tried so many new dishes! I even went to the McDonald’s closest to us (nobody there spoke English). I had a super sweet cider (Kopparberg), a European KitKat, rock hard donuts, and every smoothie under the sun.

And I didn’t forget about the donuts! I found a lot of packaged donuts and then hit the jackpot with this delicious Oreo donut (0,70).

 

What about the pole camp classes?

I got into some pretty rad poses and did some awesome combos! These pictures are courtesy of Instagramer #kandipicss and #gffdamianpolecamp

Shout out to Kasia for her amazing beach stretch classes and rolling with it when the sand was so dirty we devolved into handstands and running into the water. Her flexy pole class was still within my reach, which was amazing since I’m still at the beginning of my flex journey.

Shout out to Sam and Dan. Their doubles class was so amazing and their doubles poses were spectacular. Dan’s pole heels class had such great choreography and I loved his static poses we worked on in both intermediate and advanced. Sam’s advanced spin pole combo was fantastic and I’m glad I got at least one gravity-defying butt pose (not sure of the name haha but it’s pictured below as my last pole picture).

Shout out to Artur for all the photos, videos, and the cardio! I loved the salsa choreo we learned. Dancehall was fun until all those squats! Then it was a challenge to stay low! I still can’t get the hang of moving my hands in half time to my hips.

Super shout out to Damian for an amazing trip and a very organized trip at that. His class was a whirlwind with moves I was very unwilling to try (hands around your neck to hold the pole), willing to try but failing to grasp, attainable at a later date, and an aha I’ve got it move! I can’t wait to go back and practice these moves. Thanks for letting us take video back with us and for all the epic, funny, and profile-worthy photos!

Another super shout out to my pole sister Rockin’ Kandi for encouraging (and there was a lot of that in the beginning) me to go and rooming with me, putting up with my coughing, going everywhere with me, sharing poles, and doing doubles with me.

Thank you to all the other polers on the trip. Tak? I had so much fun poling, laughing, sharing taxis, going out, eating, sitting by the pool, goofing off, stretching, getting sandy together, and everything else that went on in class and outside of classes.

A final thank you to Dragonfly for the gift certificate for winning the street pole challenge with Rockin’ Kandi!

Our instructors were so amazing! My favorite class was probably the doubles class. After the first day, where I opted to try both intermediate and advanced classes and poled for 4 hours instead of 2 (along with the beach stretch and dance hall), on the second day one of my calluses broke and I had to switch hands for our doubles move! I also stabbed my own foot in heels, sigh, because I’m still so awkward in heels. I thought I could fix my incorrect footing mid-air and instead just stepped on myself. I was very reticent to do anything in those heels and took them off for the remainder of the combo. I just made those heels tighter so I’ll be less wobbly in them, since they didn’t quite fit before.

Now the cost:

Round trip plane tickets from Seattle (stop in Chicago, stop in Madrid, and final stop in Gran Canaria and reversing to get home) ~ $1200 but you can pay less if you don’t mind an extra 6 hours of traveling 😉

Pole camp = ~$750 after the exchange from dollars to pounds (the hosting studio is from Manchester). This was the biggest steal since the cost included the 16 hours of pole camp with some stellar instructors and room and half board at the IFA (at times a questionably 3 star hotel). Since we paid around 200 euros for 2 nights at another hotel of similar value and food was not cheap, getting 6 nights at the hotel and 4 days of camp for only $750 was a great value! Most instructor workshops are $45-$100 stateside and we took 7 workshop-type classes along with all of our other classes.

Money spent during our stay ~ $800 (Because I wanted to do watersports, get a massage while there, stay longer, eat out, and buy all the little things this number is higher than it could have been).

And don’t forget that exchange rate! Before we left I clocked it at .84 (for every dollar you’re only getting 0,84 euros). At the hotel our first night we got the fabulous exchange rate of .86, but they conveniently didn’t add the fee that night. Trying to exchange more money later we were only promised .74 rate and the bank only gave us a .76 rate. The exchange place down the street in an auto body shop was only a .60! Our final exchange place (to pay for something we were promised could be paid with a credit card and then later couldn’t) was miraculously .80. Add in the fact that your credit card purchase adds a fee on top of the poor exchange rate and then the business might also add a foreign transaction fee and you’re looking at money running through your fingers like water.

Totally worth it.

Book Review: Second Daughter (The Royals of Dharia, Book Two) by Susan Kaye Quinn

Second Daughter (The Royals of Dharia, Book Two) by Susan Kaye Quinn

A Fantasy Novel published through Amazon Digital Services Inc. (06/30/14)

Summary:

Does Samir have its own skyship? Aniri fears the worst but she has more pressing issues at the moment: her impending marriage. She questions her love for him. Was it only built on the adrenaline of adventure? She won’t have time to think about it because her sister, future Queen of Samir, is rumored to have been poisoned and Aniri is quick to rush to Seledri’s aid.

Keywords:

Fantasy, Airship, Mountains, Barbarians, War, Threats, Royalty, Duty, Romance, Duels, Intrigue, Secrets, Love, Alternate Reality, East Indian, Arranged Marriage

My Review:

The action in this book is tempered by the back and forth thoughts and feelings Aniri has for her marriage. If you have ever felt the butterflies and reservations of an engagement, you are sure to sympathize with Aniri. Or is she just being childish? It’s interesting to watch her try to push her personal troubles aside to help her sister, when those troubles follow her around everywhere she goes. She cannot escape her own fate, her own feelings, or the feelings of her soon-to-be-husband.

I really liked how the plot unfolded in Samir with Seledri’s husband, Aniri’s father, and the ever intrusive ex-courtesan. His re-introduction into this story made me roll my eyes, but he added so much more tension than Aniri could ever create just by herself.

This novel was published through Amazon Digital Services Inc. on June 30th, 2014 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.25

Links for more information:

Susan Kaye Quinn’s Website

Goodreads

Book Review: Mildred In Disguise: With Diamonds by Toni Kief

Mildred In Disguise: With Diamonds by Toni Kief

A Contemporary Fiction Novel published through Toni Kief/Writers Cooperative of the Pacific Northwest (03/28/17)

Summary:

Mildred knew that stepping into the casino would bring up memories of her late husband’s gambling debts, but at 71-years old, she needs a job. The casino is close and hiring. Instead of working as a cashier, she is chosen to work undercover. Her career as a meter maid has only prepared her for some of what she’s in store for with this new job.

Keywords:

Casino, 71-Year Old, Grandma, Theft, Retirement, Undercover, Danger, Disguise, Police

My Review:

What a whirlwind! I never expected to read a book where the main character was over 70 and still running around getting into trouble! It was neat reading a book with a character you don’t normally see as the main character. Mildred is a great blend of sarcastic, witty, humorous, and get-it-done undercover detective. Her disguises are hilarious.

The story was fully fledged and the mystery was layered. Mildred got her share of bruises during her investigations, but also stepped down when the big guys were needed to catch the bad guys.

I loved the insights into a large Casino and the life of an older and semi-retired lady.

This novel was published through Toni Kief/Writers Cooperative of the Pacific Northwest on 03/28/2017 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 3.50

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Toni Kief’s Website

Local Business Alert – Kitty Catfe in Edmonds, WA

Seattle area’s newest cat cafe! Come relax and love on some kitties, or better yet, adopt one and give them their furever home! There is a $5 entry fee.

I’ve been volunteering at this wonderful cat haven for 6 weeks now (come see me Tuesday afternoons to close).

Hours
Monday…………………..closed
Tuesday……….. 12:00 to 7:00
Wednesday……12:00 to 7:00
Thursday……….12:00 to 7:00
Friday………….12:00 to 7:00
Saturday………..12:00 to 7:00
Sunday………….12:00 to 7:00

* All ages welcome!
* Limited ground-level access in the back of the building

links for more info:

Kitty Catfe Website

Kitty Catfe Facebook Page

Book Review: Tempered Hearts (Hearts of Valentia Book 1) by Starla Huchton and S.A. Huchton

Tempered Hearts (Hearts of Valentia Book 1) by Starla Huchton and S.A. Huchton

A Fantasy Novel published by Amazon Digital Services, Inc. (08/08/16)

Summary:

Darius, the crown prince, is in an arranged marriage to Arden. Arden is kind and compassionate, but Darius has already given away his heart. In this political match, Arden tries her best to win over Darius. She has an effect on all those around her, but cannot seem to find the way to Darius’s heart.

Keywords:

Monarchy, Rulers, Power, War, Destruction, Rebuilding, Heart, Love, Family, Passion, Peace, Chemistry, Race Relations, Kingdom

My Review:

Again, Huchton nails the dialogue and the speeches. This book feels like a good quality fantasy book with realistic yet easy to understand dialogue. This is a hard fantasy book that everyone, even readers who aren’t typically fantasy readers (like me) will enjoy.

Both the story and the plot were solid. They weren’t predictable, but they made sense. Huchton writes a character driven story and since her characters are perfectly defined, realistic, and interesting the story is also well defined, realistic and interesting.

What really keeps me picking up book after book by Huchton are the characters and their relationships with each other. But mostly the characters. Huchton writes the female main character I’ve always wanted. Strong but flawed, like any good protagonist! I love how much I get into the characters’ heads.

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services, Inc. on 08/08/2016 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.75

 

Links for more information:

Starla Huchton’s Website

Goodreads