Book Review – Soulbound by Bethany Adams

Synopsis:

A deathbed promise

Arlyn’s quest is simple: Find her father and let him know her mother is dead. After all, Arlyn had promised her mother she’d go. The problem? Her father’s people are myths and legends, and he doesn’t even live on Earth. But despite a long journey through the mysterious mists of the Veil, finding him turns out to be the easy part.

A dream long-buried

After five hundred years, Kai has given up on finding his soulbonded. So when he stumbles across Arlyn after returning from his latest mission and recognizes her as his mate, Kai starts their bond in haste. But he never could have imagined that his bonded is his best friend’s newfound daughter. Whoops.

A hidden conspiracy sparked to life

Though the sight of Kai makes Arlyn’s heart pound, she isn’t sure she can forgive him for starting their bond without her permission. But her love life is the least of her problems. Her father is an elf lord, and his sudden acknowledgment of a half-human heir reignites the same conspiracy that took him away from her mother in the first place. Now Arlyn and her family must face iron wielding assassins, bigotry, and her newly awakened magical abilities if they hope to come through in one piece.

Arlyn thought she would return to Earth after meeting her father. Now she must fight to save the family she never knew she wanted.

D.S. Williams Review:

This was a well written, well thought out book, the characters were extremely likeable and the author has brought a world to life in an imaginative way.

The good – the nice characters were well written, and there was enough color in the telling to allow the reader to see their foibles, and what made them who they were.

The bad – in my opinion, the ‘bad guy’ was a little too contrived, and the back story as to why he was bad and what had caused his behaviour seemed a little forced and perhaps made him somewhat hollow. The reasoning for why his son had not done anything to stop him, despite knowing what he was planning, rang a little hollow for me and I found myself thinking that it wasn’t making sense.

Overall, a good read, and one that ultimately I would recommend. Will I read the rest of the series? I think I’m hooked enough to want to give the second book a try, but I’ll probably judge each book on merit for the above reasons. For me, there has to be sense in the antagonist’s actions, and I’m not quite certain that sense is there at the end of book one for me.

Book Review – The Arrangements Boxed Set 1-3

Synopsis:

Book 1: The Final Arrangement

The Vulture is dead. The body of Quincy McKay’s nemesis and biggest competitor in the floral business has just been discovered in a casket at the mortuary, complete with flowers on the lid. Armed with only her Zombie delivery van, good intentions, and the business card of a handsome cop named Alex, she must find the killer, save the flower shop, and keep from ending up in the next casket. If she can dodge burning bushes, the plague of a polygamist ex, and her mother’s Mormon Mafia Spy Network, her life with Alex and her shop could become the perfect arrangement.

Book 2: Deadly Arrangements

All florist Quincy McKay wants is success in business, a happy family and the perfect romance with Alex Cooper, the hottest cop in the state. Not necessarily in that order, of course. Is that so much to ask? The trouble is, between Alex’s job and planning weddings, it’s getting harder and harder for Quincy and Alex to find any time to themselves. Every time the flames of passion ignite between them, someone or something shows up to fizzle the fire, including her meddling mother, her formerly absent father and even Elma, the handsiest waitress in the West. Wedded bliss is contagious in small town Hillside. Should be great news for Quincy, except that one groom is missing and another is the prime suspect. Hard for a florist to make a living that way, and even harder for her to stay out of the investigation, especially when the suspect is her sidekick, K.C.’s fiancé. Just when she thinks nothing else could go wrong, a ghost from Alex’s past comes back to haunt them both, which could keep them apart forever, if someone doesn’t kill Quincy first. She’s stumbled into the clues to solve the case of the missing groom and finds a corpse as well, proving that planning a wedding can literally be murder.

A Christmas Arrangement

It’s Christmastime in Hillside, but there’s a lack of holiday spirit for flower shop owner Quincy McKay. She’s in charge of the town festival and her shop’s open house, but her Santa’s a no-show and her flower cooler is on the fritz. To make matters worse, she’s learned her ex-husband isn’t as ex as she’d thought. Just when she thought things couldn’t get any worse, her boyfriend, hot cop Alex Cooper announces his parents are coming to town. Alex Cooper is the perfect man in Quincy’s book, but unfortunately his mother thinks so too. And no woman is perfect enough for her perfect son, but especially not the weird flower shop girl who works too much, can’t cook and who she catches kissing another man in the department store. And what’s this she hears about Quincy being married? Eleanor Cooper must help her son dodge a bullet (and not the kind from his job) during the romantic holiday season to prevent him from being ensnared in a regrettable relationship. Quincy’s dignity (of which lately she’s in short supply), her reputation, and every business in town are riding upon the success of the city’s Christmas celebration. If she can figure out a way to make it work despite failing equipment, helpers dropping out of the picture as fast as snowflakes in a blizzard, a troubling and inappropriate Secret Santa, and the possibility of arrest, she might win the respect of everyone in the town, but more importantly, Alex’s parents

D.S. Williams Review:

This boxed set by Annie Adams was entertaining, although in some places it did feel as if the ‘quirkiness’ of the characters was being hammered home a little to hard. I liked the main character, Quincy, but there were some times when I wanted to smack her around a little bit because she became overly frustrating. This boxed set includes three books, with the third one, centered around Christmas, being the weakest in regard to storyline.
The characters were numerous, and in that regard it was sometimes a little hard to keep up with who was who, especially in the first book when we’re meeting the characters all at the same time. I found by the third book it was less difficult to keep up with.
Overall, an enjoyable read, although certainly not something which will stretch the little gray cells overtly. There are some typos in the third book, but I didn’t see much wrong in the first two. I would consider reading more from this author.

It All Started with a House…

Early in 2019, about five minutes after the Department of Defence sent my Air Force hubby and myself over to the other side of the country on a posting, they decided (in their wisdom) that the DH had reached his use-by date and he needed to be medically discharged after thirty years of service.

Now this wasn’t necessarily bad news – the Department of Defence look after their members and in the DH’s case, that meant he would be retiring… just a decade earlier than we had envisaged.

And in other great news, it meant we were moving back across the country to where seventy-five percent of the Gang of Four were still living. (And I had missed them, so very much while we were away!)

Moving back to Western Australia at the beginning of the COVID juggernaut meant we had to hang around for six months figuring out our next move. We had plans to move down south of Perth, to an area we had come to love during our visits with BIL and SIL in Nyamup. Along the way, we kept driving through a little town called Bridgetown, and the drive through the main street always had me thinking about moving there. With six months to fill in, we had plenty of time to consider our options and after mulling over things, we started to study properties.

It was round about then, that I saw this little place – built in 1904, it was quirky enough to amuse me and with half an acre of land and a jumble of sheds and gardens in need of work/restoration, not to mention an interior which was renovated in a half-hearted manner by its current owners – it meant there was plenty of little jobs to keep the DH gainfully employed for quite a while. (And if you knew my darling husband, you’d realize how important it is to have some jobs for him to do – despite his medical discharge, he’s not the kind of guy who sits around.)

What has followed has been nearly nine months of busy-ness – and is one of the reasons I haven’t been writing much. For starters, the vast majority of the interior was painted in colors I hated (particularly the sky-blue which was everywhere). Secondly, there wasn’t a single matching door knob in the house – not good for an obsessive compulsive loon like me.

It’s also meant that while already struggling with writer’s block brought on by all the upheaval of the past couple of years, that block has been further compounded by the upheaval of moving in and commencing the restoration of our ‘grand old dame’.

Somehow though, despite the writer’s block I’m dealing with – the characters who roam around the superhighways in my mind haven’t got the message that we’re on a hiatus. So at any given minute of the day, I have characters popping up and giving me a heads up on their plans for their stories to be heard, and they keep on bombarding me with little ‘bites’ of information. Not enough to nudge the writer’s block out of the way, but enough that I’m considering it a positive start.

Now if I can just get rid of the sky blue paint around the place, I might be on the road to writing something useful…

Hallelujah! we’ve kissed goodbye to 2020.

Oh my goodness, I’m glad to see the back of 2020. This was a year that wasn’t particularly kind to any of us, although we here in Australia have gotten off lightly in regard to COVID-19 – certainly when compared to our fellow humans in the United States and many other countries around the world.

Sadly, at this early stage of the year, it seems as if 2021 is not going to be much better, and I’ve been keeping up with the news regarding the terrible situation currently playing itself out in Washington and finding in myself a sense of disbelief over what I’m seeing and hearing.

But I digress. I’m not a lover of resolutions – don’t get me wrong, over the years I’ve made dozens of them, and in some cases, I’ve actually managed keep them, at least until near the end of January.

In recent years though, I’ve started being a bit kinder to myself, and I no longer commit to ridiculous promises to myself to behave in a certain way, or suddenly turn over a new leaf in regards to things I will or won’t do in the upcoming year. In fact, this is my current pegboard, which went up a couple of days ago.

So in the spirit of ‘casual promises to myself that I’m under no obligation to fulfil’ – here’s this years non-resolutions.

  1. Be kind to myself. Don’t focus on the negatives. Look for positives that will lead me to liking myself, if only just a little bit more.
  2. Write – for myself. Don’t worry about whether it’s good or not, or whether anyone would be interested in reading it. Write the story, enjoy the process and to hell with whether it meets anyone’s expectations. The only expectations which matter are mine.
  3. Try new things. I realized late last year (in that hideous 365 days known as 2020) that I tend to avoid things edible and otherwise, because I’m under the assumption I won’t like them. This year I’m going to choose the item on the menu I haven’t tried before, taste the flavors I’ve only assumed I won’t like. I’m going to use the items I’ve been ‘saving’ and write in the notebooks I’ve been hoarding. I’m going to visit places I’ve been too anxiety-prone to go and I’m going to try and focus on the positive and push away the negatives.

And hopefully, there’s some room for improvement in the remainder of this new year…

Sitting on the flipside

Well, that all went pear-shaped quite quickly. All the way back in March (March!!) I was casually thinking that I might be doing okay, that I could tootle along in my usual fashion and keep on writing.

That proved to be extremely optimistic. Along with the rest of the world, I watched the year descend into madness, with borders closed, hospitals overwhelmed, and rumor and innuendo only adding to the drama that was 2020. And it still continues, as we face heading into 2021 with the same COVID-19 issues we’ve had in 2020.

Foolishly, I was under the misapprehension that by the end of the year we’d have reached the ‘end’ of this saga, that we’d be facing the new year with optimism and the world gradually healing from this insidious virus which seems to keep popping up no matter what the world does to combat it.

Not so.

Back in March, I was feeling marginally optimistic, but that optimism got swallowed in a tsunami wave of anxiety and a wave of manic episodes which have pretty much sidelined me for most of the year. I’ve kept functioning (just), but those words which were still flowing in March pretty much died out about four minutes after I hit ‘publish’

But just recently… just in the past few weeks… the creative juices have started to flow a little, despite a bout of depression brought on by messing up my medication regime while we’ve rushed to finish renovations in our little old house (which we bought in July, shortly after the strict travelling bans were eased).

So I’m looking towards 2021 with a modicum of hope, and although it’s always a battle, a teensy bit of optimism. And I’d like to wish you all a bit of that same hope and optimism, and add a sincere wish that you can make the best of a Christmas and New Year which will no doubt look vastly different for all of us who inhabit this planet than it has in previous years.

Madness Descends…

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In my fifty odd years of life, I’ve seen some stuff.  From the Global Financial Crisis, to recessions, to SARS, AIDS, 9/11 and numerous other crises, we have rolled with the punches and I thought I’d seen the scariest things, the worst of humanity.

I was wrong.  With the current COVID 19 pandemic, I’ve seen the worst of humanity come to the fore.  Stores are struggling to keep up with demand as our basic needs are swept up in a rush of panic buying and people physically fighting one another to buy a roll of toilet paper.  Selfishness has overtaken many – and I’ve seen an ugly side of humanity.  I suspect it will get worse before it gets better, but I’ve found a bright side I hadn’t expected.

Writing is giving me a respite from the craziness, the fearmongering, the anxiety I’m struggling to cope with.  My battle with Bipolar Disorder, severe anxiety, OCD and panic attacks is well known, and the situation in the world currently is setting off a whole lot of triggers, which are proving detrimental to my mental health.  My GP has already recommended I stop watching the news and I’ve taken her advice – although that doesn’t mean I’ve buried my head in the sand regarding COVID 19.  What it does mean is that I’m drip-feeding myself with news reports, as and when I can cope with them.  And in the meantime, as I’ve mentioned, I’m writing, editing, planning – and I think that is the thing that will get me through these trying times.

In fact, I suspect that in many ways, being a writer is heaven-sent because it gives me an outlet.  And that makes me a very lucky girl because I have somewhere to be, somewhere to hide out.  The worlds I create in my head are a balm to a scary bloody world that quite frankly, I don’t really like much right at the minute.

Stay safe out there, and remember – be kind to your fellow humans.

Thoughts from the dark side…

Boy. Every time I think I’ve delayed putting up a blog post by months, I manage to break my own record. (And no, that’s not something I’m particularly pleased about.)

I join you in something of a world gone mad – as Coronavirus spreads across the world, I’m beginning to wonder if I’ve actually found myself stuck in some crazy movie. World War Z seems to have happened and I’m seeing people stockpiling toilet paper and stealing face masks and alcohol swabs from hospitals.

And I can’t get my head around it. The worldwide panic seems to be happening in a different world to the one I’m living in. I keep reading the reports, and while Disneyland is closing down and football games are being played without audiences, I’m reading that the death rate from the virus is less than 2%. It seems so strange, and I waver between panic and placidity over what’s to come.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complacent. I’ve washing my hands carefully and thoroughly to two renditions of ‘Happy Birthday to you’ and I’m naturally retiring so I’ve pretty much contained myself at home most of the time anyway, but it still bothers me that this is something out of my control. Out of everyone’s control. I’m less worried about myself than I am about the single most important people in my world – the Darling Husband and the Gang of Four. I think the thing that most freaks me out is that having traced the family history, I’m fully aware of the losses suffered during the Spanish Influenza epidemic of 1918 and I don’t want that to happen to my family, or anyone else’s family for that matter. I just hope this doesn’t reach those same levels of morbidity, because that would be a terrible thing.

So my advice (such as it is). Follow the advice you’re being given. Don’t be an asshole and buy up all the toilet paper and hand sanitizer – leave some for others. And stay safe.

Five Minute Fiction

(I’ve placed this under five minute fiction, but there’s a lot of truth which cuts close the bone in this short burst.)

“Are you okay?”

It was a question I’d been asked half a dozen times so far today, and each time I’d repeated the same simple response.  “I’m okay.”

Except I probably wasn’t.  My mother and I had a complicated relationship, fraught with emotion and difficult at the best of times.  Don’t get me wrong; it wasn’t abusive, or based in hatred.  It was a relationship based on love – but too much love.  The fact of the matter was that she’d loved me too much, obsessively – and she had her own mental health problems. The diagnosis I’d come up with that she was most probably a narcissistic sociopath – but she didn’t believe there was anything wrong with her.  With my own diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder, a severe depressive disorder and numerous anxiety issues, we were almost destined to clash.

And we did, regularly, with fireworks and anger, and on my behalf,  a healthy dose of hatred.  She came close to driving me out of my mind, even though she didn’t intend to.  She just couldn’t bear to let me go.

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The cost of that obsession was high – instead of living out her twilight years with a strong, loving relationship with her  daughter, we ended up in a tempestuous, argumentative battle, which ebbed and flowed, but never improved.

And I’ll admit, I often wished her dead.  It’s not something I’m proud of, but it was a reliable indicator of how distressed she made me, because that love came with arguments; battles in which I would always be painted as the one ‘in the wrong’, with her a masterful twister of words, working on my weaknesses to bolster her arguments.  No matter what happened, that was her main ammunition – preying on my weaknesses to further her own agenda.

So yes, my answer to the question of whether or not I’m okay is to say ‘I’m fine’.

But the answer is so much more complicated than that.

Yep, I’m still alive…

I hadn’t realized just how long it had been since I wrote a blog post, until I checked on this page today.  2019 is one of those years which has gotten totally out of control, not least because the DH (upon our arrival in Queensland in January for a new posting) had no sooner arrived at his new base before he was given the news that he was to be discharged on medical reasons.  Consequently, we’ve spent no time settling into our new home before we began prepping for the trip back across the country to our home state of Western Australia.

I have to say, I’m cheering over this change in our circumstances.  While we couldn’t have anticipated the need for a medical discharge, it means one important thing to me – the opportunity to go back to be reunited with seventy five percent of our family – our three boys, who remained in Perth when we travelled across here.  Not only has it been a wrench for us, but also for our daughter, who chose to come with us to Queensland.  We’re an extremely close family, and being apart from the boys has been extra especially tough – even more so because we went from living with the six of our together in one (boisterously loud) home, to just the DH and I for a couple of months, and now us and our daughter.  I can honestly say it’s been one of the toughest separations I’ve every dealt with, and there will be lots of catch-up hugs, and teasing, and laughter, when we get back home just a day or two before Christmas.

With everything going on, there hasn’t been much done in the way of writing, other than a number of small, practice pieces I’ve written to keep my hand in.  The cast of ‘Tokens’ are particularly vocal, and I suspect there will be one or two new novels coming from the setting of Garrison, Montana in the future.

Right now, I’m up to my armpits in prep work for the move home, but I thought I should pop my head in and say ‘Hi’.  For those who have come across my novels and in turn started following my adventures through ‘The Worlds of D.S. Williams’ – Hello!  Welcome! – It’s great to meet you!

There has been some fun during our whirlwind, eleven month sojourn on the other side of the country, in particular we had a visit from BIL and SIL, during which we visited some of Queensland’s theme parks, one of my favourites being Dream World.  Tiger Island is always fun to visit, and with my brand-spanky-new 80X Optical Zoom camera, I was able to indulge my love of close up photography.  I also realized I apparently have a bit of a ‘thing’ for paws – they pop up regularly in my photo files!

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I promise I’ll try to do better with updates… just let me get back to my home state, where no doubt lots of new adventures will be had as the DH and I settle into his retirement.

Five Minute Fiction

The dog was taking me for a walk, not an unusual occurrence at 10am in the morning. Given that Geoffrey the Bull Mastiff was one hundred and twenty pounds of pure, dopey muscle, it was the best time of the day to go walking. Mainly because there was no-one else alive in the immediate vicinity; no people, no mailmen, no delivery vans, no cats, no dogs and no birds.
With any luck, anyway.
Except for this morning, of course.maxresdefault
Coming out of the house, I set off in the usual loping, leaping, half-run and half-walk required to keep up with Geoffrey. A most unusual gait, which, I suspected, conveyed precisely who was in charge of our walk.
It wasn’t me.
And this became exceedingly obvious when Geoffrey caught sight of a man on the other side of the street and in his wisdom, decided we should cross the street to give the man a closer inspection.
Imagine the scene, if you will. The man – perhaps in his mid-thirties, tall, with one of those builds which suggest he carries lean muscle – wearing pristine grey trousers and a black, button-down shirt, glances up to see a lumbering, drooling mass of russet fur, towing a medium height, slightly overweight woman wearing black three-quarter length leggings and an oversized man’s t-shirt.
It was a recipe for disaster…