Monday, October 31, 2016

#TV Talk and #Movie Mutterings - #Halloween 2016 (LBE And FD)

If you're here looking for my Halloween party post... Click here to go to it.

OK... So... It's Halloween... Do you have any plans? If so, I'd love to hear what they are.

Living several floors up in an area that doesn't get many trick-or-treaters anyway, I'm not expecting any neighbours' children to be knocking on my door - or, more accurately, ringing my buzzer - tonight. Around here, most of the people who celebrate Halloween go to parties or other events that they or their children's schools arrange, and it's rare to get more than a dozen or so trick-or-treaters come calling, even when you live at street level. I think the most we ever got was a little over two dozen one time a couple of years ago, but - as I said - that's pretty rare. It's sad really, but so many people won't even answer the door that most people don't feel it's worth it to take the kids out trick-or-treating, and even fewer bother with blocks of flats. Not that everyone even bothers with Halloween at all these days, which I happen to think is a real shame. But I also happen to think people are entitled to celebrate, or not celebrate, whatever they like, so I'm not going to judge them for it. It would be nice to have trick-or-treaters come calling though...

Well, regardless of what the neighbours are doing, I for one plan to celebrate it, so, my Halloween plans involve eating something with pumpkin in it for dinner, followed by some treats we have on hand (just because you need treats when celebrating Halloween) and watching movies. I might do some reading too, knowing me. Not big plans, perhaps, but it's something to do to celebrate the holiday, and it sounds fun to me.

Oh, and... If you're wondering... Yes. If any trick-or-treaters do actually come calling, I will share my treats with them. As much as I'd love to have the kids come calling, I'm willing to eat them all if no trick-or-treaters come calling though. *wink*

So, anyway... Kelly and I both picked a movie we've seen, and a movie we haven't, though I'm not sure if we'll get to all four today... Probably not. Anyway, my movies of choice are Hocus Pocus for the movie we've seen, and Goosebumps for the one we haven't seen. Kelly's picks are The Witches for the movie we've seen, and The Last Witch Hunter for the one we haven't seen. We obviously like the ones we picked that we've already seen, so I won't be mentioning them in next month's movie reviews post. But I'll tell you next month what we thought of the two new to us movies.

For now though, let's take a look at the new to me movies I've already watched, including those movies I would have posted about in September, but didn't due to not ending up doing one of these posts last month (if you're wondering, I didn't do the post last month because I'd planned to have it go up the morning we lost Jenks, and put it back as a draft post to make the post for that day about him instead, later rescheduling and adding to the planned September movies post to create this one). Not that there are very many new to me movies to review, even with it being two months worth... This post is only a kind of long one because I talk a lot. Haha! Seriously though, as I've mentioned a few times in the past, I spend more time reading than watching movies or TV shows.

Anyway, I'm sure you want me to get on with it, so...

As with the previous posts like this one, just click on the movie titles to go to a page where you can find out more details about the movie in question; the movie title links will usually take you to a page on IMDB.


Hotel Transylvania 2 (2015 movie):
I loved the first Hotel Transylvania movie, so was excited about watching the second. Luckily, I was not disappointed. The movie was fantastic! There were a few sweet scenes, but mostly the characters and their antics had me laughing out loud. I think this is one the entire family could enjoy - young and old alike. I have no hesitation at all in giving this movie the full five out of five stars.

A Warrior's Tail (2015 movie):
For the most part, this was a pretty good movie, with some really entertaining scenes. But I didn't enjoy it quite as much as I thought I was going to. Confused? Let me explain. Part of why I didn't enjoy the movie as much as I'd expected to was because it was often difficult to tell who was doing what, since there was no audio description, and it wasn't clear from the dialogue or sound effects. It wasn't just that though. The tone of the movie had me thinking for most of it that the people in the movie were a tribe from one of the old religeons where animals, nature, and magic users take the place of dieties for the most part, and any mention to any kind of actual diety refers to Mother Earth in some shape or form. At least, that's what I'd have said if you asked me about their beliefs. However, at one point... About two thirds of the way through, give or take... Two of the characters suddenly had this short conversation about whether God was eternal. I have no memory of God ever being mentioned before that, and know for a fact he wasn't mentioned after it. Now, don't get me wrong, people can believe whatever they want, be it in real life, in a book, or in a movie. But there needs to be consistancy in the beliefs, especially in the books and movies. With all the myths and legends, talking animals communicating easily with humans, magic users, curses, etc, mentioned in the rest of the movie, the conversation about God felt really out of place. Maybe I missed something earlier in the movie? I don't think so though, and Kelly had gotten the same feeling as me from the tone of the movie too, and was equally as confused by the sudden reference to God (though, I admit, he didn't watch the whole movie with me). But, anyway, since I mostly enjoyed what I could follow of the movie, and it wasn't entirely their fault I had no audio description, I'm giving this one four out of five stars.

The Martian (2015 movie):
I've read the book for this one, and really enjoyed it, so I was eager to see how well they did with the movie. Most of it was a pretty good representation of the book. I mean, they left a few bits out, and things weren't 100% as described in the book, but time limitations was probably the reason for the first of those things, and the inability to properly recreate the situations was probably the reason for the second. In all fairness, they couldn't really have someone go to Mars and completely recreate the experience; to my knowledge, no country currently has the ability to do something like that (and it probably wouldn't be a good idea to do it, even if they could). Anyway, back to the movie... The ending was the only issue I had with it. The ending of the book was dramatic enough, but they changed the ending in the movie to add a bit more action and excitement. Don't get me wrong, it was a really good alternative ending, and the same result was achieved in the longrun. But it was still an alternative ending, however you want to look at it. Still, I give this movie four out of five stars.

Victor Frankenstein (2015 movie):
I'm not familiar enough with the story of Frankenstein and his monster to know how well this works as a companion to the rest of what you may know about the man and his creation. I've read the book, but this is the first movie I've seen on it. From what I remember of the book, nothing was contradicted, so this seems a reasonable possible origin story from what I can tell, and is a pretty good movie. Not amazing, but worth a watch if you like that sort of thing, I think. I give this one four out of five stars.

Minions (2015 movie):
I haven't seen the movies where these little guys first made an appearance, but that doesn't matter, since this is a prequel anyway. So, what did I think of the movie? It was pretty cute, and quite funny. Kelly watched this one with me, and we were both laughing out loud for most of the movie. This is another movie the whole family can enjoy together, and I give it a well deserved five out of five stars.

Alice Through The Looking Glass (2016 movie):
I've seen both the animated and live action versions of "Alice In Wonderland" (in fact, I watched them again right before I watched this movie) and I've read the two books they're based on. When I learned there would be an "Alice Through The Looking Glass" movie, I wondered how they'd do it with how they ended the first live action movie, especially since the live action "Alice In Wonderland" felt a little like a blending of the two books. I was pleasantly surprised, however. They connected the movies to one another well, and then did an excellent job of combining some of the elements they hadn't yet used from the second book with some new material. I have no hesitation in giving this movie the full five out of five stars.


I'm trying to decide if I should be pleased or concerned that the rodent gang - the degus and chinchillas in particular - seem to absolutely love crime dramas like NCIS, CSI, Cold Case, etc. If they're being all grumpy and whiny, putting one of those shows on will make them calm down. We've even witnessed them staring intently at the TV during their crime shows.

What do you think? Should I be pleased, since those are pretty good shows, or should I be concerned?


I found out by doing this quiz thing on Pottermore that my Patronus is a Bassett Hound. Yeah... I can live with that. If you do the quiz thing, I'd love to know what yours would be. Oh, and, if you're wondering... I did the sorting too, and I'm in Ravenclaw, which is just fine with me. I have no objections to being a Ravenclaw with a puppy patronus.

Speaking of Harry Potter...

One of the Sky movie channels often plays the Harry Potter movies one after another, and then starts again when they're done. I've seen the movies dozens of times, but I still sometimes watch them again. Anyway, one day last week, I decided to lay on the sofa and watch some Harry Potter, since I'd turned the TV on just right to start from the first movie. Only a few minutes in to the movie, however, I fell asleep. I woke just as the second movie was starting. Kelly was already asleep before I fell asleep, and woke not long after I did. When he learned I'd been asleep, he asked me how long I slept for. My reply? "All of the first Harry Potter movie." You can tell how obsessed we are with Harry Potter by the fact he considered that a valid response, and knew roughly how long that meant. Haha!

Anyway... Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

#TDWHalloweenParty 2016: The Dance Of Lady Autumn - A #Poem (FD)

If you're new here... Welcome! If you're a regular visitor... Welcome back!

Say hello to this year's Mr. Pumpkin-Head and his friends...

Don't mind the skeleton and his warning... He can be quite dramatic at times. He's harmless, really.

Anyway, we're glad you could come. It's cold outside, and the roaring of the obviously rough ocean waves makes me think a storm is close, so please come in and make yourself comfortable while you get warmed up. You'll still be able to hear the waves roaring as they crash against the shore, but you'll be warmer inside, and dryer if the rain arrives.

The kettle is already on, so what will it be? Perhaps a nice apple and pear tea?

If that's not for you, don't worry, we have other teas as well; I stock a variety of herbal and fruity teas, plus regular tea. Or, perhaps you'd prefer a coffee? Or a nice mug of hot chocolate? Or, if you'd prefer, you could have a cold drink... I have a couple of available options for that too. Take your pick!

And, since no party is complete without cake... Help yourself to a slice of this jam and cream sponge...

Yeah, I know it's not a very Halloween themed cake, but I always think you can't go wrong with a nice strawberry jam and whipped cream sponge. Although, I suppose if you're a vegan or diabetic, or have an alergy to strawberries or something, you might feel differently. If that does apply to you though, I'm sure I can find you an alternative. I generally have things like crackers, oat cakes, fruit (dried, canned, and fresh) and that kind of thing available, so we can figure something out for you. It would be no trouble at all to do so, so please don't hesitate to speak up.

Or, for those more adventurous guests, how about we take the time to learn about Hallowmas (Halloween in Medieval times) and how to make soul cakes? Bet you can't get those at your local bakery...

OK? Everyone got their snack and drink of choice? Great!

So, while you enjoy your drink and snack, let me treat you to one of my recent poems, which was written around the time of this year's Autumn Equinox, which - for those who don't know - was on September 22nd. In fact, for the benifit of those who want to be accurate, I can tell you that the exact time and date of this year's equinox - as in the astronomical event itself - was on Thursday September 22nd 2016 at 2:21pm UTC (that's UK time, in case you don't know).

Anyway, this poem has never been shared before. It will appear in my next poetry collection - whenever I have enough poems to make it worthwhile putting another together - but, in the meantime, here it is:

The Dance Of Lady Autumn

Here comes Lady Autumn,
In gown of crimson and gold.
With amber eyes and russet hair,
She’s a beauty to behold.
See her dance among the trees;
Twirling around and around.
Each leaf she touches changes,
Before it tumbles to the ground.

Watch as the wind snatches them up;
It almost looks like chance.
But if you’re watching carefully,
You’ll see they’ve joined the Lady’s dance.
See how the leaves match her gown,
As well as her russet curls.
Watch how they move with her,
As she spins and twirls.

If you linger long enough,
Perhaps she’ll dance with you?
But when the dance comes to an end,
(As everything must do)
You best hurry home to your fire,
For Autumn will be through.

© 2016 ~ Victoria "Tori" Zigler

This Halloween party post was published a couple of days before Halloween intentionally so I could have plenty of time to link up with the Halloween party over on The Domestic Witch's site. Speaking of which, once you're done here, you might like to click on the banner below to join in the fun, and check out the posts everyone else has done.

Happy Halloween, and thanks for visiting!

Friday, October 28, 2016

#Furkid Friday: The #Gerbil And The Frosted Shreddy (FD)

Hellooo everyone! This is Baggins the gerbil.

I was feeling really low the other day, so the human caretakers gave me a bit of sugary cereal to make me feel better... It was a frosted Shreddy.

They usually give us the kinds of things with little to no sugar, because it's better for us, and also because then we can all have the same cereal (my degu brothers and chinchilla sisters have to be very careful with sugar - especially my degu brothers). But, anyway, the human caretakers let me have a sugary bit of cereal to make me feel better.

Except it didn't work out quite as they planned, because I liked that one so much more that when they tried giving me the plain version afterwards, I threw it back at them. I mean, why would I want a plain Shreddy when there are frosted ones in the world? Would you want plain ones when you can have ones coated in sugar? Uh-huh... That's what I thought!

The human caretakers don't let me get away with it every time... They insist I have to stick to mostly the non-sugary cereals for nibble time. I don't mind this on Cheerio days, but I make a point of showing my displeasure when they give me non-sugary Shreddies. I'm hoping they'll eventually get the hint and stick to giving me the frosted variety.

A gerbil can hope, right?

Squeak soon,

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

#Writing Wednesday - October 26th 2016 (FD)

The Christmas story I'm writing - which I'll tell you more about soon - is coming along nicely. It's now in the stage where I'm starting to put it through the various editing processes. While I work on arranging that, Jacob Blackmon is working on the cover for me. I had hoped to have all the editing done by now, but the past couple of months have been busy, so I'm a bit behind my original schedule. There's still plenty of time for me to have it ready for an official release right before Christmas though, so it's all good. Yes, there's time, even though there's only eight and a half weeks to go until Christmas.

Uh-huh, I went there. Sorry folks, but it's true... Christmas is only eight and a half weeks away. If you haven't already done so, you may want to start thinking about it... Especially if you're an author planning a Christmasy release or promotion . Although, you might want to do so regardless... Just saying.

That's right, it's almost November already. So, whether you're ready for Christmas or not, are you ready for NaNoWriMo? I'm not participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) this year, officially or otherwise, but I know several people who are. As the post I just linked to said, remember to worry about only the writing part for now... You can worry about rewrites and edits later, like when NaNoEdMo (National Novel Editing Month) rolls around in March. For now, just make sure you're ready to put pen to paper, or fingers to keys, when November rolls around in just under a week. Here are five lessons one author learned from NaNoWriMo, and some tips from another author for keeping your word count up, in case you're interested.


This may not be what you want to hear, but here are some truths about what you should think about if you've decided to start writing a book. If you really love to write, don't let anything stop you. If you're doing it for fame and/or fortune, you should probably do something else. Just saying.

If you've decided writing is for you, no matter what, and are starting the rewrites and edits for your own work, check out this post on mastering the art of the scene, and this one on how to make your writing better by changing one word. Then, when you're ready to do the formatting, remember to give your eBook as much love as your paperback. Of course, this doesn't have to mean fancy formatting, since you can just keep things simple like I do. The point is, do all you can to try and make sure your eBook will look good too, and bear in mind that some things don't work well on some eReaders, especially the older models.

Planning to self-publish? Check out the basics every indie author needs before publishing a book. Trust me, having those things in place - or, when it comes to the social media part, as many as you think you can realistically handle - before you publish, will help when it comes to marketing your book once it's released. Also, here are some "Do this, not that," promotional tips, based on things one author has learned from personal experience, in the hopes they will help you avoid the same mistakes. Oh, and remember to think outside the bookstore when it comes to release or promotional events.

Next, here's a great - and fun - way to flesh out your character(s) for your story: get to know your character over coffee. Character interviews of any kind are interesting ways to flesh out character profiles, and it's surprising what you can learn about someone in the time it takes to share a cup of coffee (or tea, if you're like me and can't stand coffee) and maybe a cake... Just to keep your energy levels up... *Wink* If you're lucky, taking the time to have coffee with your character will mean you can avoid the need to tame a wild character. No promises though. This list of ways you can explore your characters' traits could also prove useful to you in getting to know your characters, and may even help with your efforts in taming the wild ones. Oh, and here's a pretty good post for if you're struggling with naming your darlings. is a good source for names too, by the way. Once you've got your characters figured out, make sure you bear these ten things every writer needs to know about conflict in mind. WARNING: the last post I linked to contains some strong language.

Or, perhaps you write poetry? If so, check out this post on writing haiku, which contains a short list of tricks any poet needs in their writing toolbox.

Last, but by no means least, and regardless of the kinds of things you write... Always remember that illustrating a children's book is a real job, and so is being an artist of any kind. So bear that in mind when working with your cover artist, illustrator, or whatever, and don't take advantage of their talents.

Monday, October 24, 2016

October 2016 Jibber-Jabber (FD)

Rosie from Everything's Coming Up Rosie does these "if we were having coffee/tea" posts from time to time, where she updates her readers on random things happening in her life. This post is going to be a bit like that. So...


After moving things around in the living room to make room for it properly, we set up the run mentioned in Mollie's post from Friday last month, and filled it with toys of all sorts, most notably: a play tunnel, a log arch, a selection of wooden toys, and a cardboard box. What's the most popular toy of the lot? I bet those who've had a lot of experience with pets and/or small children can guess. That's right... The cardboard box. Haha!


We had planned to go to some of the events happening to celebrate the anniversary of the Battle of Hastings during Hastings week. My brother, Carl, and his girlfriend, Tory, were even going to come for a visit to go to some of it with us. But they didn't end up coming for their visit after all, and then we ended up not going. A part of me was disappointed, but I actually wasn't as disappointed as I thought I might have been. Sure, it would have been nice to be there, especially on a big anniversary like the 950th, but... *Shrugs* Maybe another time? We'd have made sure to go if Carl and Tory had been here, but since they didn't come down, and I wasn't feeling well, we didn't bother . We did hear the fireworks though. Well, Kelly heard them all, and I heard some of them as I drifted in and out of sleep, since the combination of tiredness and cough medicine made staying awake properly impossible for me. But I enjoyed what I heard between dozes. Oh, and, no, we don't have photos... Sorry.


We were discussing potential plans for the upcoming holidays recently on Deanna's blog, and I made myself feel old. I mean, I swear I sounded just like my Nan. There's all these people making big holiday plans, and I'm basically saying, "Just a nice cup of tea and a little treat for tea. That will make the day nice and special." There's also a good chance I could fall asleep in my chair while watching holiday movies afterwards. Unfortunately, these days that kind of thing is my reality... See above paragraph... And chances are I won't be feeling up to doing much more than that. You know what though? Despite my initial shocked reaction on realizing this, I actually don't mind, and having a nice treat then falling asleep in my chair watching holiday movies actually sounds pretty good to me.


We went for afternoon tea with Lorna and Andy again, and they remembered how pleased I'd been about egg and cress sandwiches being available before, so made sure they had some of those for me. Don't you just love when hosts/friends take notice like that? Anyway, they made egg and cress sandwiches, as I said, as well as some with cheese and a vegetarian ham substitute in them. We also had toasted teacakes. The tea was lovely. Look at me, sounding like an old lady again... Do people even say things like, "It was really quite lovely," any more? Regardless, it really was! The loaf of homemade seed bread they sent home with us - which was baking when we arrived, so that we walked in to that wonderful freshly baked bread smell - was too.


I saw this Autumn tag on Rosie's blog. I'm not doing it properly, but I will share with you that the thing that tells me Autumn is here is that crisp scent to the air that promises frosty mornings to come. You knowthe scent I mean, right? That's my favourite Autumn scent too. Oh, and my favourite Autumn activity is pumpkin carving... I look forward to that every year; it's great fun! Hmmm... Maybe I'm not quite old yet after all... Haha!


I know some people either had birthdays recently, or are about to have them, so... If I missed your birthday, or you have one coming up... Happy birthday! I especially want to say a belated happy birthday to my friend, AliceKay, for October 6th, as well as to my brother, Carl, for October 16th. Also, belated happy birthday to my friend, Pia, for October 19th, as well as to her little boy, Max, for October 17th. Plus, happy birthday to another friend, Louise, who celebrates her birthday today (October 24th) as well as to our niece, Tamara, who will be celebrating her birthday on Friday (October 28th). Finally, happy birthday to my good friend, Iggy, who will be celebrating his birthday on November 4th. Yeah, I know that last one is a couple of weeks away, but I figured I'd go ahead and mention it now, while I'm doing birthdays.


Last, but not least... Just a friendly reminder to never stop learning.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

#Reading Ramblings: Canute: Using #Braille To Make ‘Kindles’ For #Blind People

Extract of an interesting article that was brought to my attention a couple of weeks ago:

Canute is tackling the decline in Braille literacy - and everyone should care.

Being able to read is one of the most precious of skills: Books free the imagination and inspire creativity – they allow people to learn independently, and relax after a hard day.

But not everyone has that luxury.

This week is National Braille Week: a week dedicated to the raised dots that allow blind people to read letters, numbers, punctuation and words.

But Braille is on the decline.

In the ’60s up to 50% of blind school children in the US were able to read Braille, but this figure is now closer to 10%.

Today one company hopes to turn this around, with a device that’s fit for the digital age.

Get ready to meet Canute.

Read the full article here.

"National Braille Week" is obviously long since over, but I didn't want to interrupt all the "Battlefield 1066" stuff with this post. Plus, it was either over or almost so by the time I knew of this article anyway, so... *Shrugs*

Anyway, I expect some of you at least will be interested in my thoughts?

I think I heard something about this a little while ago, so it's nice to see evidence that there's progress on it, and that it's now being tested in schools and things. It really would be a shame if the number of braille users declined even more, and it's great to see efforts are being made to stop that happening. Modern technology is often a wonderful thing, but I think it's sad that most people aren't being taught how to do things without technology these days, and those still in school right now would be lost without their computers and things.

So, my thoughts on the device itself...

On the one hand, I think this is great, and look forward to when they make one a bit smaller, so it actually is portable, and I can maybe get one. Yes, I can read braille, as those who have been following my blog for some time know already. It would be great to be able to read a book without it announcing to the world what I'm reading, or the need for headphones. Also, see my comments above about not wanting the number of braille readers to decline further.

On the other hand, I hate that they consider the £600 price tag to be cheap and affordable, because that is not cheap, and is not easily affordable by most people. I mean, sure, it's cheap when compared to a lot of the devices, which come in at £1000 and above, but that's still a lot of money. I hope, when they bring out the more portable one, they also manage to do something to lower the cost a bit, otherwise it's going to be out of the price range of many. I get it being more expensive than your average Kindle, but since most Kindles are a third of that price, often cheaper again, you'd think they could knock the price tag down a bit. Especially if their aim is to encourage people to buy this option rather than relying on text to speach software (which, by the way, isn't always cheap... Just saying). Yeah, I know, I get it, it costs a lot of money to make things like this. Blah, blah, blah. I've heard that argument before, and I'll give you the same response I give whenever I hear it: they'd make their money back far easier selling several at lower prices that most people can actually afford, rather than struggling to sell more than a hanfful because most people can't afford to buy them. I mean, there's several pieces of technology I'd just love to own, but just can't afford, which is a problem plenty of others have too, and I wish they'd consider that before insisting £600 price tags are cheap.

Beyond that, the main thing I'm wondering is... Will this work for any books? Or will it be like text to speach is on my actual Kindle, where it doesn't work with some books? I think it's meant to be the former, which would be great, but if it's the latter, will something be done to make sure "text to braille" becomes more readily available on books in the future?

Friday, October 21, 2016

#Furkid Friday: Of #Chinchilla Birthdays, iPhones, And "Pen Time" (FD)

Um... Hi everyone. This is Mollie the chinchilla.

See... This is me:

I was moving closer to check out one of the flashy things our human caretakers have when the above photo was taken. The Mummy human was using a version of the flashy thing she calls "iPhone" and it kept talking, so I came to check it out. I tried nibbling it at first, but it tasted awful, so I decided to see if I could figure out how the Mummy human was making it talk. I saw she was pawing at it, so decided to try too. It worked! Every time I put my paw on it, it talked. I thought it was great, so spent some time pawing at it to make it talk to me. The Mummy human said she was trying to do something, and I wasn't helping, but I don't understand what she said she was doing, and frankly don't care, since I was having a fantastic time. The Mummy human says she's going to blame me for any unusual calls on her iPhone. I don't even know what that means, but she was laughing when she said it, so I'm not worried.

Anyway, as you may already know, I had one of those birthday things a little over a week ago. This meant an extra special treat for me... YAY! My other rodent siblings got a little something too, because the human caretakers don't like to give nibbles to one of us and not give anything to the others. For that reason, my chinchilla sister, Maizie, got to share in my extra special treat. I don't mind though, because not only am I really fond of her - she's my bestest friend in the whole world - but the human caretakers said it will be the same when Maizie gets her first ever birthday in a couple of months time. They say it's only right, since we're sharing a cage, that we both get the same. We're not going to argue, since these human caretakers give out great nibbles. Our favourites are cereal and chinchilla cookies.

If it wasn't exciting enough that I had a birthday thing and we got an extra treat because of it, we also had something fun happen a couple of weeks before my birthday, which has been happening regularly ever since. The human caretakers call it "pen time" (for reasons that will become clear when you read on).

The human caretakers got this pen thing they said was called a "rabbit run" for some reason. We didn't understand why at first, since there are no rabbits in our family. But we watched with interest as they set it up and put some fun looking toys in it. Here it is, all set up:

Then, to our delight, we were told it was just for us chinchillas. Apparently it's been set up as a playpen for us, which means it's a safe area where we can get some decent out of cage exercise while being kept away from things like wires, which would be dangerous to us. It's not nearly as tall as our cage, but it has space for us to actually run around in it, where as our cage doesn't have much running space (but makes up for it with climbing and jumping room). Plus, the playpen has toys in it that we only get to play with when we're in it, some of which are different from what we have in our cage.

Maizie was extremely eager to try it out, and happy to allow the human caretakers to pick her up and put her in there right away. Here she is inside the playpen:

I wasn't so eager, and was reluctant to leave the safety of our cage. I take longer to adjust to new things, and felt safer watching from inside our cage while Maizie checked out the new playpen; Maizie's the more inquisitive of the two of us, and she's braver too. I got up the courage to join her after she'd been in there a couple of times though:

I learned quickly that Maizie was right about pen time being fun, so here I am enjoying myself in the playpen:

So, now we have a safe - and fun - place where we can run around and play outside of our cage, which we think is great. I mean, pets and cuddles from the human caretakers are nice, and Maizie and I also enjoy sitting on the Mummy human's shoulder. But having the freedom to run around and burn off some energy like that is even better, and we love our pen time!

Squeak soon,

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

#Writing Wednesday: The #SWAuthors Battlefield #1066 Round-Up

To make sure you didn't miss anything, here's a round-up of the posts that went up on my blog over this past week to celebrate the release of stories written by myself and other Smashwords authors based around the Battle Of Hastings, and published on the battle's 950th anniversary.

October 13th: Battle Of Hastings Timeline
October 14th: My Battle Of Hastings Children's HistoricalFiction Book Release: Eadweard - A Story Of 1066
October 15th: "Norman Blood" - A HistoricalFantasy Book by Author Barbara G. Tarn
October 16th: "They Marvel at the Star" A HistoricalFiction Book by Author L J Hick
October 17th: "The Battles Of Hastings" - A SciFi Book by Author STEPH BENNION
October 18th: My Battle Of Hastings Author And Character Interviews

You may also want to check out the following:
A spotlight post by Les
A spotlight post by author Ross Harrison
A Wyrd Worlds: Battlefield 1066 post by Steph
The author questions thread on the Goodreads Smashwords Authors group
Barb's "Hastings 1066" posts
A spotlight post by author Kevin Morris
Chris The Story Reading Ape's repost of Kevin's spotlight post
Alex Butcher's "Battlefield 1066" posts

If you helped with promotion, either by putting something up on your own blog, by sharing our posts, or whatever, thank you! If you took the time to ask us questions, or do so in the time remaining before the month is out, thank you for that too! Also, if you brought copies of any of our books, or do so in the near future, thank you for that as well!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

My Battle Of #Hastings #Author And #Character #Interviews

As part of our multi-author promotion for the Battle of Hastings stories written by some of us Wyrd Worlds authors, I did an author interview with Barb, which went live on Friday (October 14th 2016). You can read it at

I also did both a character interview and an author interview with Alex. Well, the character interview is technically Eadweard's interview. But, anyway, the interviews went live on Sunday (October 16th 2016) and you can read the post they're in by going to

Plus, don't forget, you can ask me, along with the other authors involved in "Wyrd Worlds: Battlefield 1066" questions all month. The thread for it is at

Monday, October 17, 2016

"The Battles Of Hastings" - A #SciFi #Book by #Author STEPH BENNION

The Battles Of Hastings

Who really won the Battle of Hastings? Eighteen-year-old Jane Kennedy, a twenty-first-century Chicago girl on her first field assignment, had expected a simple mission to gently ease her into the time-bending realities of her new job. Yet here she was, lying semi-conscious amidst the wounded and dying
of a particularly gruesome battle, wondering what the hell she had let herself in for. In this novella based on Jane’s memoirs, follow her strange journey through multiple realities as her fellow time travellers each realise they come from a future with a different past. Is there a rogue on the loose out to change history? The Battles Of Hastings is a romp through alternate time lines in England 1066 to mark the 950th anniversary of the invasion that shaped Britain and Europe today.

Buy it from Smashwords in multiple eBook formats, which will work on your computer, or on pretty much any eReader or tablet.

Find out more about Steph and her books by visiting her website.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

"They Marvel at the Star" A #HistoricalFiction #Book by #Author L J Hick

They Marvel at the Star
By L J Hick

Thomas is a member of the Fyrd and is recruited into Harold Godwinson's army to confront Duke William II of Normandy. He is befriended by a blond-haired man called Kauko as they march to war. Thomas has no time for lords, kings or gods of any kind but Kauko seems to have a large amount of time for Thomas. Why is Kauko so interested in the welfare of a farmer's son, and just what does he intend to do with him? As the relationship develops and the pair of them confront the stupidity and darkness of war, Thomas comes to realise that they did not meet by chance. In fact, Kauko has been preparing for this for a long time.

Buy it from Smashwords in multiple eBook formats, suitable for reading on your PC, or on just about any eReader or tablet.

Learn more about Les and his books via his Smashwords profile or his website.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

"Norman Blood" - A #HistoricalFantasy #Book by #Author Barbara G. Tarn

Norman Blood
By Barbara G. Tarn

Nineteen-year-old Robert Malet followed William the Bastard to England to claim the English throne. The battle near the small town of Hastings is the beginning of the Norman conquest of England, but also of Robert's second life.

A vampire in 12th century Europe traveling, fighting and meeting his siblings in darkness, changing names through the years when his mortal life is gone. Follow Robert Malet, Brother Geoffrey, Robert Capuchon and Mercadier through the years. History and fantasy based on medieval chronicles for a Vampires Through the Centuries novella.

Buy it from Smashwords in multiple formats that work on a variety of eReaders and other devices, as well as from Barnes & Noble, from Amazon US or UK, or from Kobo.

You can learn more about Barb and her books by going to or

Friday, October 14, 2016

Battle Of #Hastings #Children's #HistoricalFiction #Book Release: Eadweard - A Story Of 1066

It’s October 14th 1066, and King Harold’s Saxon army is about to go in to battle against Duke William’s invading Norman army. Among the ranks of the Saxons are two boys who shouldn’t be there: Eadweard, and his best friend, Cerdic.

Daydreams of becoming great war heroes had the boys convinced to disobey their Fathers and go to war, despite the possibility of punishment if they were caught. Now it’s time for the battle to begin, and Eadweard is starting to wish he’d stayed home after all. But it’s too late to turn back now, and Eadweard finds himself witnessing the events of the battle that would later be called The Battle Of Hastings, and learning how different from his imaginings the reality of war actually is.

*Note: This is a work of fiction, which is based on actual events. It tells the story of the battle between King Harold’s Saxon army and Duke William’s Norman army, which took place a short distance away from the town of Hastings on October 14th 1066, in a place now known simply as Battle. Though this is a children’s story, the recommended reading age for this book is eight years and over, since it is a story that takes place on a battlefield, and therefore contains scenes of violence that are not suitable for younger, or more sensitive, readers.

That's the description for "Eadweard - A Story Of 1066" - my first historical fiction book, which is officially released today, in honour of today being the 950th anniversary of The Battle Of Hastings.

You can already buy the eBook from Smashwords in all formats they offer, as well as from a few other eBook retailers (such as Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks, Kobo, and a few others). So, regardless of your prefered method of reading eBooks, there will be a format that works for you via one of those sites.

For those who prefer a physical book... Fear not! A paperback version will become available as soon as possible in the near future; watch my Wednesday blog posts for an announcement of its availability.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Battle Of #Hastings Timeline (LBE)

Tomorrow (October 14th 2016) marks the 950th anniversary of The Battle Of Hastings.

So, while Hastings, Battle, and the surrounding areas, prepare to enjoy their anual celebrations this weekend, I thought I'd kick off the "Wyrd Worlds: Battlefield 1066" celebrations on my blog by sharing a timeline of the events around that time for those with an interest in history that are too far away to participate, or those people - near to Hastings or otherwise - who just want to learn more about the battle.

Every day from now until October 19th, my posts will follow the same theme, as I, along with some of the other Smashwords authors involved in the "Wyrd Worlds" anthologies, celebrate the anniversary of the battle in our own ways. So, if you're a fan of historical fiction, historical fantasy, and/or alternative history with a science fiction element, make sure to stop by my blog every day during this next week.


January 4th 1066
The Death of Edward the Confessor

January 6th 1066
Harold Earl of Wessex crowned King of England

April 1066
Halley's Comet

Spring 1066
Norman mission to Rome to seek Papal support for the Norman Invasion
Preparation for the Battle of Hastings

July 1066
Harold gathers the English army at the South Coast of England in Preparation for the Norman Invasion

July 1066
William prepares his fleet for the English invasion at the River Dives in Normandy

September 1066
The Vikings! Harald Hadrada, King of Norway, launches a Viking invasion

20th September 1066
The Battle of Gate Fulford - The Vikings defeat the English led by Morcar

21st September 1066
Harold marches his army from the South Coast of England to York to defend against the Viking Invasion!

September 25th 1066
The Stamford Bridge Battle - Harold defeats King Harald Hadrada and the Vikings at York

September 27th 1066
Duke William sets sail for England - The Norman Invasion begins

September 28th 1066
Duke William lands at Pevensey, on the South coast of England. The Norman Invasion

September 29th 1066
Duke William occupies Hastings, on the South coast of England

October 1st 1066
Harold , celebrating his victory over the Vikings at York, receives news of the Norman invasion
Harold marches his army back from the North of England to the South of England to defend against the Norman Invasion!

October 6th 1066
King Harold arrives in London

October 1066
The English Army prepare their defences at Senlac

Friday 13th of October 1066
Negotiations between the Normans and Saxons - William demands that King Harold either resigns his royalty in favor of William, refers it to the arbitration of the Pope or let it be determined by the issue of a single combat. King Harold declines

Saturday 14th of October 1066
The Normans and the Saxons prepare for battle - the Battle of Hastings
William Raised the Papal Standard and issued battle orders to the Norman army
Norman Foot soldiers led the way, the archers followed and finally the Norman knights on horseback.
Battle Plans - A fence and a fosse were built as a part of the Saxon defences. The men of Kent were entitled to strike first, the London men guarded King Harold. The Saxon army had no cavalry but stood in close ranks
The Norman servants, priests and clerks looked on whilst the Norman army advanced in three columns
Normans moved on to the assault, and the English defended themselves well
The Two Armies met. Each side taunted the other. The armies exchanged blows and many Normans died in the fosse (ditch).
The Battle raged for hours. A new scheme was adopted by the Norman archers. Arrows were shot in upward in the air striking the faces of the English soldiers. Many had their eyes put out and the arrows flew thicker than rain
An arrow struck Harold above his right eye, and put it out. Many other English soldiers have suffered a similar fate due to the strategy of the Norman archers.
The Saxons still continued to defend well. The Normans then adopted another strategy which deceived the Saxons
The English believed that the Normans were in retreat. The English pursued the Normans and foolishly broke their ranks.
The English were unable to compete against the knights on horseback. The Saxon barricades were broken. The living marched over heaps of the dead and many were crushed in the throng.
The wounded King Harold was killed and his body mutilated by the Normans.
Their King was dead and their Standard lost - many English soldiers fled. William had won the Battle of Hastings - he was the Conqueror
The great Battle of Hastings had raged between 9am and 3pm

Sunday 15th of October 1066
Both the Normans and the Saxons buried their dead. William the Conqueror had defeated the Saxons at the Battle of Hastings and now made ready to conquer the English
Defeat at the Battle of Hastings

October 21st 1066
The Submission of the Saxons at Dover

October 29th 1066
The Submission of the Saxons at Canterbury

December 25th 1066
Duke William is crowned King of England in Westminster Abbey in London

Above taken from

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Mollie the #Chinchilla Turns 1!

Today (October 12th 2016) our eldest chinchilla, Mollie, is having her very first birthday.

Yeah, I know it's gone fast. In Mollie's case, the time between when we brought her home and her birthday has gone quicker than normal anyway, because Mollie was already half way through her first year by the time we brought her home.

Still, it's hard to believe we've already had her home with us for about five and a half months!

She's not quite as reserved with us as she was when we firtst brought her home, and has shown herself to be a sweet little girl who loves attention and nibbles. Mollie does still have some issues with depression, and maybe she always will, but we never hold her bad days against her. After all, everyone's entitled to bad days, right?

Anyway... Happy birthday Mollie!

#Writing Wednesday - October 12th 2016

Firstly, a recent announcement from those who brought us PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Ideas Month)... It's going through some changes.

Secondly, here's a post by Ross Harrison about the upcoming Battle of Hastings stories, which you'll be hearing a lot about in the next week, since this coming Friday is the 950th anniversary of the battle. Ross isn't involved in the story writing this time, but he's a fellow Smashwords author, and contributed stories to Wyrd Worlds and Wyrd Worlds II, which are the science-fiction and fantasy anthologies the Smashwords group on Goodreads did in the past (some of you may remember that I was involved with Wyrd Worlds II). Oh, and... Just in case you missed my post about it yesterday... those of us involved in writing stories about the battle are answering questions all month on this thread, and I'm offering to repost the questions asked on my blog on to the thread on your behalf.

Thirdly, if you're not sure how to approach interaction on social media, just remember to CARE about your readers.


If you're an author, and if you're anything like me, your least favourite part of being an author is the marketing. Unfortunately, without the marketing getting done, nobody's going to buy the books we write, are they? So, take a look at these 11 ways to overcome marketing dread, and see if you can make your marketing plan more inviting. While you're at it, you may also like to check out these easy ways to streamline your author brand and winning strategies for your author event. Plus, with the new enhanced, and more flexible, coupon options from Smashwords, you have a bit more flexibility if part of your marketing campaigne is going to include coupons for eBooks you publish via Smashwords.

Regardless of your plans for marketing, here's a great article on how a little knowledge can go a long way when it comes to writing a story readers will love. Plus, these next couple of articles will be useful if you're writing something where you need to make sure you get your facts right about Medieval England, or know the differences between China and Japan.

As this next post explains, you need mini goals to complete your novel. This doesn't just apply to those 80 thousand words or longer ones mind you. It doesn't matter how long, or short, your writing project is, setting mini goals and rewarding yourself when you reach them can be a great way to encourage yourself to complete that story you always wanted to write. Plus, getting the rewards makes the writing process even more fun than it already is!

Finally, with the big holidays upon us, you may like to read this article on crafting seasonal stories that sell.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Wyrd Worlds: Battlefield 1066 - Ask The #Authors

Some of the authors who brought you "Wyrd Worlds" and "Wyrd Worlds II" have teamed up to bring you stories of the Battle of Hastings.

Now they're also taking questions about themselves and their stories. So, if you have anything you want to ask Barb, Les, Steph, or me, pop on over to the thread on the Smashwords Authors group on Goodreads, which can be found at

Or, if you can't post on the thread for whatever reason, feel free to post your questions in the comments section below this post, and I'll post them to the thread on your behalf.

Monday, October 10, 2016

#Reading Ramblings: #Book Scents And Reading #Challenges

Do you know what I miss most about being able to read a physical book?

The scent!

Even my brother, Carl, who has never been able to read print, loves the scent of a good paperback or hardback book.

If you do too, you may appreciate this post on the scent of a book.

I might have to see if I can get me some of those book scented candles...


None of the Goodreads groups I'm on have been doing challenges lately, hence the lack of posts about them. However, I've been doing my yearly Goodreads reading challenge, of course... That just requires me to make sure I mark a book as read on Goodreads after I've finished reading it.

My 2016 reading goal was set to 216 books. If you know me, and how much I read, you probably won't be all that surprised to hear that I actually already met - and passed - my reading goal for the year. Kelly says I'm making it too easy on myself. Maybe he's right... Maybe next year I should actually challenge myself?

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Random Question: Of #Motorbikes And #Bees - Is it Just Me? It probably is!

Motorbike engines make different sounds, depending on various factors, which I think have to do with engine size and the type of bike, but don't quote me on that because I don't know much about that kind of thing.

Anyway, my question is: did you ever notice that some motorbikes, when heard from a distance, produce a droning sound very similar to that which would most likely be produced by a giant bee?

Or, is it just me? Am I alone in thinking this?

Judging by the reactions of my hubby, brother, and Dad, it's probably just me... Maybe I've finally lost it completely?

Friday, October 07, 2016

#Furkid Friday: Joshua The #Degu On Plans For Next Weekend

Hi there humans, rodent types, and anyone else reading this. This is Joshua the degu.

Guess what I just found out? The Mummy human says there won't be a "Furkid Friday" post next week! She says we'll be back to our usual schedule the week after, but she has something planned for that weekend, so has decided not to have us do a post next Friday, since she'll be posting something else.

On Mollie's birthday week too!

You know the worst part? It's all about some battle that happened 950 years ago! How is that more important than letting our chinchilla sister, Mollie, post about having her very first birthday? I mean, the battle happened years ago. Yeah, it's kind of interesting. But not as interesting as we are.

Sure, the Mummy human says she'll post a birthday message for Mollie on her actual birthday - which is Wednesday, by the way - and Mollie will get to do her birthday post the following Friday. But that's totally not the point, and I do not approve!

Mollie says it's perfectly fine, as long as she gets the special birthday nibble the human caretakers have promised her on her birthday, and doesn't have to wait for that. The Mummy human has promised she won't have to wait for her special nibble, so she's not complaining. I am, however, because I happen to think we should be more important than anything else... Especially things that happened so long ago even the human caretakers weren't born yet, and especially considering the human caretakers should be making even more effort than usual to make us feel special after we lost our brother, Jenks, a couple of weeks ago.

So, please don't blame us rodent types for the missing post next Friday... It's the humans' fault!

Squeak soon,

Thursday, October 06, 2016

A #Poem For #NationalPoetryDay

Today is National Poetry Day, which I'd forgotten it was supposed to be until I saw it mentioned on Twitter earlier, hence my not having a post ready for it. But, in honour of the day, I'd like to share a poem. So, just for fun, here's one I wrote based on the lost sock incident I mentioned in Sunday's blog post:

My Poor Lost Sock

Where, oh, where could my little sock be?
Oh where did my little sock go?
He went in the machine with his twin,
But where he is now, I don’t know!

I checked in the washer and the dryer too,
But no sock was there to be seen.
I checked in the basket again just in case,
But the basket is empty and clean.

Where, oh, where could my little sock be?
The poor thing is lost and alone!
If you see my poor sock, wherever he might be,
Please send my poor sock back home!

© 2016 ~ Victoria "Tori" Zigler

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

#Writing Wednesday: #Blind #Writers And #Authors

"How do blind people deal with the writing and publishing process?"

I've been asked that question - or some form of it - so many times I've lost count.

First of all, let me make one thing clear: there are as many different ways for blind writers to approach the writing process as there are for sighted writers. Now, most of the time people do take this in to account, and spacifically ask how "I" approach it, but I have had the question worded in the way I posted it above too, as if all blind writers are the same. We aren't. No writer is exactly the same, whether they can see or not.

A sighted writer may write in a notebook first, and then type it up. A blind person has the option to do something similar using a hand-held writing frame. Some sighted writers like to use an old typewriter, and worry about getting the stuff typed up later. Blind writers have the option to do the same using a perkins brailler (a very chunky braille writing machine, which looks a bit like an old typewriter, but has a lot less keys). Other sighted writers immediately go down the technology route, using phones or tablets, or simply skipping straight to using a word processor on a laptop or desktop computer. Again, the same is true of blind writers, though admittedly there are some devices that aren't accessable to the visually impaired, and special software is sometimes required to make others accessable. Like I said, it varies.

Personally, I hate the hand-held writing frames, because they're a little awkward to use, in my opinion, and most of them require you to write each character backwards. Using one of those is a last resort for me, and when I do I keep it really short. Partialy because I have to, since my writing frame is a small one (it's around the size of a credit card, though a little thicker) and partially because I find it takes so much work to write even a short note. Besides, with the need to remember the characters backwards, combined with how fiddly I find using the frame, I find anything longer than a few words is forgotten by the time I've done a few words anyway. However, there are blind writers who do use this option, some of whom will quite happily set up a larger frame and write out a full sheet of paper in this manner. Like I said though, this option isn't for me, and if I'm forced to use it, I simply take down a couple of key words that will jog my memory later. Mostly I try to avoid being forced to use this option though. To me, this is like the sticky notes some sighted writers use to remind them of key points, or make short notes to remind them later of an idea they didn't have time to work on.

Then there's the brailler. I don't really mind using the brailler, and can quite happily tap out pages and pages on it. However, I rarely do. Why? Well, for one thing, the brailler isn't very portable since it's so heavy, and mostly I figure I might as well use the PC if I'm at home and save the effort of typing up what I already "typed" on the brailler. But also because that thing is quite noisy. You know how noisy the old typewriters used to be? Well, maybe you don't, but if you don't then just ask anyone who dealt with them, and they'll tell you. Anyway, imagine several of those tapping away in unison, and you'll have some idea of the noise of the brailler. This means I can only use it at certain times, unless I want some rather upset neighbours, and since my hours are all over the place, it means I'd be limited as to when I could work on my writing projects if I made the writing on the brailler phase a regular part of my writing process. Instead, the brailler is a sort of backup option for me, which I very rarely use. There are, however, some people who prefer to do their first drafts on a brailler, much like there are still sighted writers who like to use an old typewriter, or who prefer to write their first draft by hand.

When I need to write something and am not at my computer, the option I generally go with these days is to use Apple Notes on my iPhone, which always has voice over (Apple's text to speach software) turned on. This is a relatively new addition to how I do things, since I've only had the iPhone for about a year, and it took me several months to get to grips with the touch screen keyboard, and I still don't like to use it for long writing sessions, since touch screen keyboards are annoying. Yes, I know there's the option to dictate to Apple Notes, but if you've ever tried this, you'll know it's equally frustrating, since the voice to text software doesn't always get your words right. Still, I do write short pieces - a scene here and there, or a short poem - and send them to myself via my iPhone. I don't consider it an important part of my writing process though, since mostly I know I'd get up and go to the PC if I didn't have the option to use Apple Notes... Just like I did before I had it. I know of a few sighted writers who do the same, whether they use it for just short pieces like I do, or write longer pieces.

The important tools for me are Microsoft Word and JAWS. I could use Open Office instead of Microsoft Word if I wanted to, but I'm more used to Microsoft Word, and since I have a copy, I use it. JAWS stands for "Java Access With Speach" (or something like that) and is my screen reader. It's how I know what's on my computer screen, whether I'm using Microsoft Word to work on some writing, browsing the internet, or pretending to be doing something important while really playing GMA Cards or BG Scrabble (card and scrabble games for the PC, which are designed to be accessable to the visually impaired). As long as JAWS is working, I can just type away happily, and then have JAWS tell me what I just wrote. I was taught to touch-type while I was still in school, and am a fast typist as a rule... Unless I'm working slowly because I'm thinking. Typing straight in to Microsoft Word is my prefered method of writing, both because I can write fastest that way, and because I then have the option to edit at will (something more difficult with the iPhone, and even more so when it comes to using braille). Plus, since I use the internet to publish, it means my work is already right there on the computer for me to use. I think, if I'm not mistaken, this is the prefered method of most sighted writers these days too, though they obviously don't have JAWS. I happen to know that a couple do use screen readers - cheaper ones than JAWS though - as an option for helping with proof reading their books, so what they do isn't all that different from my own method.

This brings us nicely to the publishing process...

To be honest, I haven't a clue how other blind authors deal with the publishing process. I can only tell you how I do it. In fact, I'm not even entirely sure how most of the sighted authors I know do things.

Anyway... Remember how I said JAWS lets me use the computer? Well, there are a few things it can't handle. Visual things like images, for example. When it comes to the things JAWS can't handle, I simply grab sighted help. Nine times out of ten, this sighted help is my hubby, Kelly. He acts as my eyes for things JAWS can't handle, or things off the computer (like checking out the proofs for my paperbacks) and puts up with my frustration when I get cranky about JAWS not being willing to do something I think it should do. However, things JAWS can handle, I do myself.

That's basically it. I hope this answers the questions everyone has on the subject. If not, however, feel free to ask about whatever I didn't explain about in the comments section of this post. Also, feel free to post any comments you have.

Please note that this invitation to ask questions extends to other things as well, and not just my writing and publishing methods. Don't fall in to the trap of those involved in the "How Eye See It" campaigne. You can't put on a blindfold and understand how things work for a blind person. The blindfold test is not an accurate one, since anyone trying a new method of doing something is obviously going to find it difficult, whether they're blind or not. If you want to know how I manage to do something, just ask, and I'll do my very best to answer.

Monday, October 03, 2016

#Reading Ramblings: September 2016 #Book #Reviews (LBE)

It occurred to me recently that those of you who enjoy books, but aren't on Goodreads, might like a book version of the "TV Talk and Movie Mutterings" posts I do. It also occurred to me that doing these posts would encourage me to actually put up a bit of a review for each book. I always review the ones I've been given copies of in exchange for reviews, and am pretty good about putting reviews on Smashwords for the books I have from there, but I mostly don't bother putting the Smashwords reviews anywhere else, and if I just grabbed a book randomly from Amazon, nine times out of ten I don't do more than rate it and move on. I want to change this and write at least a few words... Even if I only put the reviews on Goodreads and on here. I'm not going through all the books I didn't do more than just ratings for in the past, because there are just too many. But I'm determined to be better at putting some kind of review up from now on... At least on Goodreads... And I figure those book loving followers of my blog who aren't on Goodreads might be interested in knowing what I've been reading, as well as what I thought of the books. Mind you, people on Goodreads might also be glad of having everything in one post too, so... *Shrugs* Anyway, I'll post what I read one month at the start of the following month.

I warn you though, I read more than I watch, so these book posts will be longer than the TV and movie ones usually are; even on a month like last month, when I considered myself to be really busy and not reading as much, I generally read more than most people. I also warn you that I read across multiple genres, so these posts will contain everything from children's books to books aimed at a more adult audience; please check the book's reading level, as well as any content warnings, before reading, especially when children are involved.

I admit I cheated a little with the reviews for most of the first September books. I hadn't actually reviewed most of the books I read during the first week of September on Goodreads, but I'd put reviews on Smashwords for most of them, so I grabbed those reviews to put in this post, and added a short review just for this post for the one I didn't have either a Smashwords or Goodreads review to copy. I did start doing it properly after that though.

You can click on the book title, or author name, to learn more about one or the other. Yes, the links take you to Goodreads, but you don't have to be a member to view the book and author details.

As a point: the format that you're taken to if you click to see the book details may not actually be the format I read the book in. I often don't bother to check what format I'm marking as "want to read" or doing my review on.

OK... Here's what I read last month...

EndgameEndgame by Kate Wrath
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I've loved all the other books in this series, and this one was no exception; this was an excellent ending to the series!

The Path of Water (Quests Book 1)The Path of Water by Barbara G. Tarn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I have enjoyed the other books I've read in this series, but I enjoyed this one even more. All her previous books have given Barb the practice needed to
grow as a writer, and this is more obvious in this book than it has been in any other. Excellent worldbuilding, a colourful cast of characters, and great descriptions, all come together to make for a fantastic read.

The Path of Fire (Quests Book 2)The Path of Fire by Barbara G. Tarn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book is another excellent example of how Barb has grown as a writer. Plus, it was interesting getting to see a few of the events from "The Path Of Water" from another point of view, followed by the chance to see what happened to a couple of the characters afterwards. An all round excellent read!

Beat The HackersBeat The Hackers by Stephanie Dagg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is a great book, which makes for an exciting and enjoyable read.

My Vibrating Vertebrae: and other poemsMy Vibrating Vertebrae: and other poems by Agnes Mae Graham
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A beautiful collection of poems.

More Tales of the Southern Kingdoms - volume 2More Tales of the Southern Kingdoms - volume 2 by Barbara G. Tarn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is an excellent and well-written collection of tales, which makes for an enjoyable read, and is a wonderful addition to the series.

Oh Auntie!Oh Auntie! by Stephanie Dagg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I loved this book! It's well-written and very entertaining. The story will amuse children and adults alike, whether they're familiar with the way things work on a farm or not.

The Jack Russell Adventures (Book 1): The Pet ShopThe Jack Russell Adventures (Book 1): The Pet Shop by Jackie Small
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a really cute and entertaining story. The only reason I don't give it the full five stars is because I felt the ending was too sudden. Having also read book two, I know it continues from where this one left off, but I think it would have been better had the two books been combined.

The Jack Russell Adventures (Book 2): A New LifeThe Jack Russell Adventures (Book 2): A New Life by Jackie Small
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
An excellent - and really cute - continuation of Rocky and Rosie's story.

The Jack Russell Adventures (Book 3): Santa's Extra PresentsThe Jack Russell Adventures (Book 3): Santa's Extra Presents by Jackie Small
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is a really cute Christmas story, which will bring a smile to any animal lover's face.

Oh Grandad!Oh Grandad! by Stephanie Dagg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book is an amusing and fun read.

Into the VinesInto the Vines by Caroline Clemens
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
I hate writing bad reviews. I know how much work an author puts in to writing a book, and I hesitate to take away their pride in what they’ve created. Unfortunately, there are times when I feel I have to; times when only my policy of always finishing a book I start keeps me reading until the end, and I’d be lying if I gave a glowing review. This is one of those times. It’s a shame, because I think the book has some potential. Unfortunately, for it to reach that potential the author needs to do a lot more research, not to mention some serious re-writes and edits to catch inconsistancies and contradictions in the plot, unnecessary repetition in the dialogue of things mentioned in the description, issues with character behaviour that’s either not realistic for the type of character in the situation they’re in or contradicts previous behaviour, etc.

Dylan's Yuletide JourneyDylan's Yuletide Journey by Jemima Pett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was a creative and entertaining story. It wasn't as festive as I expected though, and I didn't feel we had the full details of why the strawberry juice supply had run out (though we did get most of the story; I just felt some details that could have been added were left out). Still, this was a great short read.

Oh Santa!Oh Santa! by Stephanie Dagg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is an amusing little story, which could make for a fun holiday read for the whole family.

BookElves Anthology, Volume 1BookElves Anthology, Volume 1 by Jemima Pett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Like with most anthologies, I found that I enjoyed some stories more than others. Also, in the case of this particular anthology, some of the stories didn't feel very festive, some felt like they could do with a few more details added to them, and some had both issues. Still, this was an entertaining collection of stories, which made for a great read.

Pig's Big SecretPig's Big Secret by Jackie Small
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is a very creative story, which is an amusing and entertaining read.

SaltSalt by Helen Laycock
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The first half was a bit slow, but it picked up after that and became quite an exciting read.

Rhyming Rabbit's MischiefRhyming Rabbit's Mischief by Jackie Small
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is another creative and entertaining story from this author, and I loved it!

Viridian System Sampler: 8 Short StoriesViridian System Sampler: 8 Short Stories by Jemima Pett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was a great little collection of flash fiction stories, which are perfect to give you a taste of the world, while making you want to know more. The little explanations of how the stories came about were a nice touch too.

The Parting Glass (Mrs. Meade Mystery, #2)The Parting Glass by Elisabeth Grace Foley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was a well-written and enjoyable story. It says in the description that it's perfect for fans of Miss Marple style mysteries, and I completely agree.

The Oldest Flame (Mrs. Meade Mystery, #3)The Oldest Flame by Elisabeth Grace Foley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is another enjoyable and well-written cosy mystery from this author; the perfect accompaniment to a nice cup of tea.

The Silent Hour (Mrs. Meade Mysteries #4)The Silent Hour by Elisabeth Grace Foley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Another well-written and enjoyable addition to the series, which is perfect for those who enjoy a cosy mystery with their cup of tea.

The Jack Russell Adventures (Book 4): The ChallengeThe Jack Russell Adventures (Book 4): The Challenge by Jackie Small
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is my favourite of the stories in this series so far. It's cute, it's funny, and it's well-written. Plus, it teaches a great lesson about how not everyone is good at the same things, and that's just fine.

The Jack Russell Adventures (Book 5): The PlayThe Jack Russell Adventures (Book 5): The Play by Jackie Small
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Another cute and entertaining addition to the adventures of Rocky and Rosie.

The Princelings of the East (Princelings of the East, #1)The Princelings of the East by Jemima Pett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was a great read, with a plot that moves at a nice pace, and a great cast of characters. I personally think it would have been great if the author had gotten more in to the animal character thing and done things like using "paw" instead of "foot" for example, but that's just a personal opinion thing, so I'm not going to count the fact she didn't against her. Anyway, this was a fun read, with lovable and sometimes entertaining characters, and an interesting plot.

The Princelings and the Pirates (Princelings of the East, #2)The Princelings and the Pirates by Jemima Pett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was an excellent second book for the series. I love the characters, and the plot is exciting and interesting. Like with the first book in this series, I think it could have been even more amazing if the author had used more guinea pig terms rather than people words, such as "cavie" instead of "person" for example. However, since I know this is just something I personally think would have been a nice touch, and not doing so doesn't spoil the story in any way, I'm not going to count her not doing so against her.

The Princelings and the Lost City (Princelings of the East, #3)The Princelings and the Lost City by Jemima Pett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is an excellent addition to the series, which contains both a fun and interesting plot, and an entertaining and lovable cast of characters.

CranfordCranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
As others have pointed out before me in their own reviews, there is no traditional character arc to this story, and it is more like a linear series of anecdotes protagonised by the same bunch of mainly female characters. Anyway, I found it to be an enjoyable read, which was often amusing, and thought the cast of characters were interesting.

A New Beginning (Shade Break Farm Series, #1)A New Beginning by Nicole Moore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
For the most part I thought this was a really good read. However, I think the author was in too much of a hurry to have things move ahead when it came to training the horse and having horse and girl bond, since everything happened too quickly with that; a new animal needs time to adjust, especially if it's been mistreated in the past, and a horse that's basically skin and bone (as I was led to believe this one was when it arrived) shouldn't be ridden until it's built up its strength, especially not by a teenage girl almost immediately after it arrives. Other than that though, as I said, I thought the book was really good.

Kick On! (Shade Break Farm Series Book 2)Kick On! by Nicole Moore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book was better than the first. It's a shame several editing issues let it down, or it might have been a five star read.


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