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I swoon over fictional, non-human men

Folklore tales and spooky stories

As some of you are aware, I was on vacation this week. I visited two places; the Isle of Man (where one of my best friends lives) and Manchester (where I used to live and where many of my friends still live). I did the usual stuff. Hanging out, sight seeing…and shopping.

Shopping for books specifically. I bought these two books in the gift shop attached to the Manx Museum in the IOM’s capital, Douglas.

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Now, my favorite genre is paranormal romance (if that fact had somehow slipped by you ūüėČ ) and one of my favorite past times is reading about the folklore and myths that birthed the fantastical creatures and beings that appear in some of my best-loved books.

The Isle of Man, though small, is steeped in myths and legends. Its rolling hills and Viking ruins set the scene for many folklore tales and spooky stories. I realized, though, that I couldn’t possibly become well versed in them over the course of four days so I decided to buy these books and get myself up to speed in readiness for my next visit!

So my question to you is…

What folklore tales and spooky stories does your country/hometown play host to?

I’ll get the ball rolling and start by sharing the tale of the Lincoln Imp, my hometown’s official mascot. Lemme introduce you…

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“‘Sup.”

This little fella can be found in Lincoln Cathedral, nestled between two archways and surrounded by a bunch of far prettier stone carvings.

Legend tells us that ol’ Satan sent two of his little imps to wreak havoc at the Cathedral, which was then newly built. However, the imps hadn’t anticipated a bunch of angels deciding to have an impromptu karaoke sesh in the aptly named Angels’ Choir.

One of the imps wisely opted out of the mischief and destruction, choosing instead to remain outside. However, our horned, grinning mascot decided a showdown with a few ethereal beings was preferable over returning to the bowels of Hell with orders disobeyed.

One angel, who I like to imagine was just reaching the crescendo of Bohemian Rhapsody, saw the imp flitting about in the rafters of the cathedral and, in a fit of rage (Bohemian Rhapsody is difficult as it is without distractions), struck him down with a blast of petrifying power, encasing him in stone and immortalizing his cheeky, infectious grin forevermore.

So there we have it. That’s my hometown’s most famous legend.

Tell me yours in the comments below! 

‘Freya’s Inferno’ Sonja Bair

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Freya Holm is smart, quick-witted, and an Alva‚ÄĒa paranormal species with the ability to fly. In a bid for a normal life outside of family expectations, she moved across the country. But within a few days of arriving in a small California town, she finds herself fighting over the last bag of lentils with an attractive but ill-tempered werewolf named David.

David Waterstone is desperate for normal, too. Recently banished from his pack, he finds himself struggling to stay sane. The presence of another supernatural power in his new town, especially one as inquisitive and lively as Freya, makes his struggle even harder.

When their new city gets besieged by an insane supernatural with a passion for Dante’s Inferno, Freya’s family sends in one of her old schoolmates. Alrik Isaksson has long been in love with Freya, but she can’t see beyond their hurtful history. Despite the tension, David, Alrik, and Freya must work together and use their intellect, supernatural powers, and sense of humor to survive the layers of Hell being created in their town by a maniac with a passion for literature.

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Freya’ s Inferno,¬†the first book in Sonja Bair’s¬†Winging It¬†series (can I just say how¬†awesome¬†a name that is for a series? I do love a good play on words), is a book that pleased me for so many reasons.

First and foremost, ¬†Freya is the narrator and that is truly a blessing. The narration is in first person and this really allows a reader to become acquainted with Freya on a more intimate level. We hear each and every one of her thoughts and her sarcastic, mischievous and witty personality are conveyed in a way that I’ve never seen so successfully executed before in a novel. It’s almost as though Freya is talking directly to us, the readers, and it evokes a feeling of kinship. I didn’t see Freya as simply a fictional character; I saw her more as a friend, telling me about her day (and¬†man,¬†what¬†a day). Sonja has successfully crafted a believable, three-dimensional character who a reader can both relate to and care about.

Furthermore, Freya is a character who values her sense of self-worth. There’s an incredibly uninhibited section of narration where Freya is simultaneously talking about herself¬†and¬†addressing the reader. She speaks about the incredible odds that were defied in the creation of her, Freya Holm – “Now, out of my mother’s millions of eggs and father’s quadrillions of sperm, the two sex cells that happened to be me combined. Damn, those are ridiculous odds. I, like every other human being on the planet, won the lottery of all lotteries just to be born. I’m going to celebrate – I’m going to be proud to be alive and to be me. And most of all, I’m going to not try to be someone I’m not. That would be a slap in the face of the ridiculously high odds that created me.” Being someone she’s not would entail accepting the roles being forced upon her at this point in the book: a co-Alpha (werewolf politics are confusing as hell), a denizen of hell, an employee at the USN, a mate and a girlfriend. Freya is strong enough and respects herself enough to understand that it’s okay to not live up to the expectations of those around her. Freya states that she “would not be forced into a position that didn’t fit” and states that it’s “too bad” if she inadvertently creates chaos and ambiguity for those who want her to embrace these roles with open arms. In a world that is constantly telling us who and what we should be, Freya assures us it’s okay to go our own way *starts singing Fleetwood Mac*

I really enjoyed the dual elements of the plot too. Freya faces multiple threats and challenges throughout the novel; there’s the whole situation with Jia and her highly dangerous fixation with both¬†Dante’s Inferno¬†and Freya and then there’s the threat of David’s former pack Alphas, Maria and Robert, breathing down their necks. In no way is the plot simple. Instead, it’s excitingly chaotic and is layered with all the key components that generate the¬†perfect story, from heart-stopping moments of poignant insight into the human psyche to moments of comedic relief that had me laughing out loud.

Eagerly awaiting the next installment in the¬†Winging It¬†series! I’m curious to see how Freya and Alrik’s relationship will change following Alrik’s revelation and I’m excited to catch up with David and his new-found pack.

Rating: 5/5

Song: Britney Spears’¬†Stronger¬†(what is she doing with that chair?)

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This book is available in both paperback and e-reader format on Amazon.

 

 

Just dropping in real quick 

I’ve been a super bad blogger these past few days…but I won’t apologize because I’m actually on my first vacation in a year ūüėÄ I’m currently on a teeny tiny island called the Isle of Man visiting my best friend. It’s such a gorgeous place. There are so many winding roads snaking through the hills, each one cutting through a quaint village or town. I’m staying in the capital, Douglas, in a beautiful apartment that is reminiscent of Downton Abbey. I don’t want to leave! 

My Final Sunset

So, way back in December, I mentioned a trip to the hospital with my great grandmother. Unfortunately, despite the doctors deeming her fit to go home, she was readmitted in late January when both her mental and physical health began to deteriorate rapidly.

I won’t beat about the bush. She’s dying. She’s lying in a hospital bed, barely conscious, unable to wash or feed herself. Dementia is a cruel disease. It robs a person of their very essence…what makes them them.¬†For those around them – their friends and family – it’s a slow bereavement. They witness the person they have known and loved for many years being chipped away, bit by precious bit.

My grandma will die and it breaks my heart to think of her suffering these past few years. So, like I always do when I’m sad, I decided to write a poem. They say if a writer loves you, you will become immortal, etched into their words and the minds of their readers forevermore. I wanted to immortalize my grandma and give her some of the dignity she so desperately deserves in her final days.

 

The sun is setting on my final day

As I watch in silence from where I lay

And this sinking sun, in all its glory

Will paint the final chapter in my story

A sky speckled in purples, pinks and blues

And my heart is light for this is my dying view.

Reading positions 

What’s your favored reading position?

I’m not a bed reader. Mere moments after climbing into bed, I’m usually dropping off to sleep and believe me, having a Kindle smacking down on to your face hurts. 

I tend to read on the sofa in my lounge. My seat (on the far left, right next to the coffee table that’s usually laden down with tea and writing materials) dips in the middle after years of use…but the foot rest that pops out when I pull the lever more than makes up for this ūüėČ 

The never ending TBR list

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One of the things that I’ve noticed since becoming an active member of the online book community is just¬†how much¬†my TBR list has grown. If I’m not receiving recommendations from fellow bloggers, I’m seeing books on Goodreads that other people are either reading or have already read…and if I’m not seeing books on Goodreads, I’m seeing them on Amazon!

So I thought, let’s recommend our favorite books and series to one another! Let’s add to our already never ending TBR lists. ¬†

So, c’mon, recommend me some books! ūüėÄ Regardless of genre, I want to hear about the books that you can read time and time again, the books that have stuck in your mind long after you’ve turned that final page, the books that make you laugh, the books that make you cry…the books that inspire you!

Valentine’s Day with book boyfriends

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

So, like me, you might be single…but that’s okay! Relationships aren’t the be all and end all and, to be quite honest, book boyfriends are ever so slightly better than the real thing. Trust me, it’s what you come to believe when you’ve been in as many bad relationships as yours truly ūüėČ If you need further convincing, check out this post from a few months back. Anyway, I hope the below provides a laugh or two…lord knows what my neighbors must have thought if they saw me crouched outside my front door holding a book and a rose against the glass paneling.

Rydstrom (from the Immortals After Dark series) surprises Jazz 

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“Was that…the doorbell? Strange, I’m not expecting anyone…”
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“Is that…a book at the door? A book with a Valentine’s¬†rose?”
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“A machine that creates a portal between the fictional realm and your world has yet to be created…so I have come to you in book form, my dear Jazz.”

‘Just Breathe’ Sarah Doughty

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Battling supernatural hunters and power-hungry witches, Aisling Green must learn to access her power, and fight for what she loves.

New witch Aisling Green is trying to find out what she is and the world she’s entered with no luck. When a dark witch tries to kill her, she’s rescued by Connor, a light witch, and he agrees to help her.

They discover she’s not just a witch. She’s the most powerful creature in existence. An Earthen witch. While they try to develop her unique power, Aisling realizes that she’s fallen for Connor. But her heart isn’t the only thing in danger. Word begins to spread about what she is, and people want her dead. Her power is the key to her salvation. But can she learn to access it before it’s too late?

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Reading¬†Just Breathe¬†was akin to taking a breath of fresh air. It’s just so…refreshingly different. Sarah has taken many common tropes found within urban fantasy and paranormal romance and has turned them on their heads, thereby creating the perfect start to what promises to be an action-packed, exhilarating series.

The first aspect of this novel that I want to draw attention to is Connor, a light witch who tasks himself with the job of guiding Aisling as she enters an, until recently, unknown world where “everything is real”. He is, without a shadow of a doubt, the sweetest, kindest and¬†warmest¬†male lead I have ever encountered within this genre. There’s none of this macho bravado, or hard-headed arrogance that’s become so prevalent in male characters. I actually bookmarked a particular scene that perfectly showcases the sheer selflessness of his character. It’s a scene where he and Aisling are playing catch with Shadow, Connor’s werewolf companion. Aisling asks him if werewolves like to play catch and Connor simply answers “Shadow does. That’s all that matters.” There’s no embarrassment in his admission. He simply wants to see his friend happy and will do anything, no matter how seemingly trivial, to do that, regardless of what others in their world might think. It’s rare to come across such a good-natured, pure character. I’m definitely team Connor!

Now, let’s talk about Aisling and her power. She’s…well,¬†powerful.¬†And. This. Is.¬†FANTASTIC!¬†All too often it’s about the mighty, all-powerful males protecting ‘their’ women but it’s the complete opposite with¬†Just Breathe.¬†Sure, Connor is powerful in his own right (the fact that he enables Aisling to tap into her immense power demonstrates this), but Aisling’s power far surpasses his own and Connor is absolutely 100% okay with that. He suffers no dented pride in being protected by Aisling. In fact, he feels pride in seeing her harness her power in such an effective way and I think this pride and trust lay the foundations of a strong and healthy relationship.

Just Breathe¬†is a book filled with many paranormal creatures, but its main focus is witches. Thanks to series such as Kresley Cole’s¬†Immortals After Dark,¬†I harbor a soft spot for witches and was intrigued to see what Sarah’s take on them would be…and I wasn’t disappointed! From the aura colors surrounding each paranormal creature to the legend of the original twelve Earthen witches and their demise, it’s apparent that Sarah has thought long and hard about the world she has created and the characters populating it. There’s no detail too minor for Sarah. Auras are explored in depth, often in the most amusing of ways (just gonna say “red aura” and leave it at that) and each and every character has been fleshed out with their own individual personalities and idiosyncrasies. Ultimately, all of these elements combined make for an intriguing and exciting world for a reader to become immersed within.

Just Breathe is the first book in the Earthen Witch series, a series in which each book has consistently received 4 or 5 star reviews on Goodreads.

For more information on Sarah’s fiction and poetry, check out her website here!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Song: Two Steps from Hell’s¬†Strength of a Thousand Men¬†(pretty apt when Aisling can talk with the voices of a thousand dead witches)

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This book is available in e-reader format on Smashwords, iBooks, Barnes & Noble and Kobo.

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