Lives up to the promise

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November Snow has seen her own burial a thousand times. It is the only thing she knows about her future.

In a war amongst vampires and fairies, a small advantage can mean the difference between victory and defeat. And a psychic who can peer across the globe, unspool the past, and probe the future is more than a small advantage. Everyone wants to use her for their own ends: the ancient king, the black sheep, the dutiful son, the lost boy.

But November Snow wants things, too, before death comes for her. She wants purpose. She wants friendship. She wants love. She wants happiness. She wants respect. And she will not settle for less.

Pulled into the midst of a royal family feud centuries in the making, she must forge her own path through violence, betrayal, first loves, and mortal peril as she struggles to come to terms with her gift and her destiny, even as she knows this for certain:

She dies at the end.

Available on Amazon

BOOK REVIEW: She is going to die and she knows it. Genre aside, that right there is a powerful and intriguing story idea. No one has threatened her or anything. She has simply seen her own funeral. Brilliant. The big question to be answered here is laid out plainly in the title, and within a page or two of reading, we’re in. We’re going to need to know how and why she dies at the end…. So now we have a clear and simple yet powerfully intriguing question, but do we have a story journey to back it up? Definitely! The setting is a tangible paranormal world with interesting relationships between the different species and plenty of historic complexity. Certainly 3 dimensional. And the tale of who our heroine is and how and why she dies is rich and captivating storytelling…. For mine, this book is every bit as good as the title.

Meanwhile, in another corner of the universe…

1. A

Captain Aricka Badu left Taarken Prime twelve years ago for very good reasons, and she seldom goes back. It was supposed to be a short run, but, between the pirates, a brewing civil war and her ex, she may never get to leave.

Caden Carnes hadn’t seen Ari in twelve years, but he’d never stopped thinking about her. Given their past, it wasn’t exactly surprising she stayed away. What was surprising was seeing her back on Taarken…ever, the mining planet she’d abandoned along with her lover and her family.

Her brother’s mining hauler is missing and Caden asks for Ari’s assistance along with her ship to go find it. One discovery leads to another, until all their secrets are out. Caden and Ari don’t have long to discover the most important thing in the universe; You can actually go home again.

Available on Amazon

BOOK REVIEW: This sci-fi setting is like real. It’s actually quite brilliantly understated. When imagining the universe being depicted here, it’s as if there’s nothing to prove – as if it’s just a matter of fact that this place exists and we all know it. This is a powerful human drama and romance set elsewhere, not on Earth…. The depth in the story itself is also impressive. We can easily imagine the prequel, which would be potentially even more intense and dramatic. I quite enjoyed joining in at the tail end of a story, with lives already blown apart, and seeing everything come together…. An intelligent and nicely constructed read.

Brilliantly crafted Historical

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Available on Amazon

Set against the open skies and wild beauty of southwest England in 1430, The Heart of Darkness is a medieval mystery about one young woman’s quest to shed light on the dark secrets of her shire’s sheriff and help him hunt down the villains responsible for a spate of local kidnappings—before they strike again.

Her courage began to desert her under Sir Richard’s cold, questioning stare. ‘Good day, sir. I—I—am Rowena Walden, my uncle, Lord Cunningham, sent me,’ she managed to stammer. ‘He said that you—needed a clerk.’

When Lady Sabina spitefully volunteered her well-educated cousin Rowena as temporary personal clerk to Chaucy Shire’s sheriff, she could not refuse. An unmarried young woman with dead parents and nothing to her name has little choice. But Rowena dreads it. She has heard a lot about the darkly handsome knight: heartless, hot-tempered, impossible to please, just plain bad… As she meets Sir Richard’s cold, unnerving stare for the first time, the future does not look good.

However, Rowena is not the only one with a problem. Strangely, Rowena’s presence at Eaglestone Castle deeply disturbs Sir Richard, who appears determined to intimidate his terrifyingly cunning new clerk into quitting. Unfortunately for him, Rowena finds her new master as fascinating as he is frightening. His finances are over-stretched and highly irregular, and his murky past seems to conceal a dark and painful secret. His fury at the meddling of a lowly clerk whom he cannot sack because of her connections is intense, and his unexpected flashes of tenderness towards her only add to the confusion.

But with the local people growing increasingly angry at their sheriff’s failure to find three kidnapped girls, Sir Richard is forced to enlist Rowena’s help. Can this precarious pair catch the villains who have been carrying off Chaucy’s maidens before they strike again? And can Rowena get to the bottom of Sir Richard’s mysterious financial woes before he loses everything?

Then the stakes become higher than ever when the man whom Rowena thought she would never, could never, love challenges his greatest enemy to a fight to the death. Will he triumph, or will his life bleed away into the dust, and her heart with it?

Book review: This is superbly written. There are no shortage of authors who can take you to another time in history. This author transports you. The detail. The imagery. The attitudes. I was completely blown away reading this story. The depiction of a mood of honour and chivalry is so well done. Sir Richard the dark knight is completely human and real. Beyond the fabled fantasy character of a knight in shining black armour, he’s a true, flawed, earthy guy. I have no doubt he is a brilliant depiction of a man of medieval times. So too our heroine, Rowena – the damsel to be saved. The depiction of Rowena as a resourceful, intelligent woman gives some well-deserved oomph and dimension to the fabled damsel in distress. I like the way these two main characters are drawn so believably while being written into a plot that is everything the wonderful fables of knights and damsels offer… This story has adventure, mystery, truly gritty and meaningful romance, and it has a kick-arse climax. You have to catch the battle scene at the end! But make sure you treat yourself to an autumn in medieval Chaucy first. You’re going to feel like you live there.

Toddlers LOVE your company

Ignore the kitchen mess, go sit on the floor with your toddler and watch their face for signs of interest in a particular item. Encourage them to bring it to the mat on the floor to play with.

Only touch/play with an item just enough to show you’re engaged with them. Apart from that, butt out! Sit on your hands if need be – they want to do stuff! What’s important is you’re supporting them just by being next to them as they explore.

Use prompt phrases, such as: “would that go on top?” or “you’ve built a tall tower”. Reiterate what they’ve done. Offer a commentary without saying: “ooh good girl, you’re so clever”. When they succeed at the tiniest thing they will intrinsically feel elated.

And you’re not telling them what to do or taking over. This is their crucial cognitive development exercise. You don’t need the practice, they do. The more you help, the less they learn. If it’s a block tower they’re building don’t straighten it up. They will figure out when it falls they should be more careful next time. Statements such as: “oh no, look what you’ve done now”, are incredibly unhelpful. Try: “oh, the tower fell down. You could try and build another one”.

By doing this simple thing, sitting on the floor engaged with your toddler, they will feel safe, secure and loved. This gives them confidence to keep exploring and learning, thus laying the foundation for positive life-long learning habits.

As they get a little older and you’re in the habit of doing this with them, encourage them to go build a tower (or another game you’ve enjoyed together), and tell them you will be there right after you’ve tidied the kitchen. You are thereby gently extricating yourself and reducing their reliance on you. But you’re never far away and are still offering positive comments.

Where do parents go for legitimate advice? As a qualified teacher I have access to incredible resources, based on the latest scientific research and backed up by academia.  Google is not the whole answer. I offer you a credible, valuable and scientific alternative that is further supported through observation and experience.

Disclaimer:  Due to the limit of words statements will not be referenced. Sweeping statements and general comments are not fleeting, throw-away opinions on a subject. They are backed by scientific research and a vast academic resource. 

Cool SciFi

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I like the Braxians. From the opening scenes of this story it’s easy to imagine them. An alien race enslaved by humans. It’s easy to get on board with their plight and cheer for them. The conflict here is the kind that immediately pulls you into the fictional universe depicted. What transpires from there is a pretty good thriller and an excellent romance. We are given plenty to satisfy the appetite in this fast paced, action packed episode, and where we end up feels like it’s just the beginning. Classic sci-fi romance with a good serve of intrigue.

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Babies LOVE to talk

Did you know…

From aged 4-7 months babies are trying hard to communicate without crying.  They experiment with sounds they’re able to make with their mouths and spend time babbling and imitating you.  Encourage them!

Babies start to understand the fundamentals of communication and know your soothing tones are comforting, and your cross tone means something is wrong. They recognise their name first, pause when they hear ‘no’, and will start associating words with familiar objects.

They love vocal interactions so if you copy their sounds it gives them confidence and encourages them to keep experimenting. I used to carry my kids around the house and point to something and say its name. Just one word repeated slowly, then move to the next thing. Babies understand words long before they can physically say them so cut back on the baby talk and use words correctly. Have a conversation and wait for your baby to ‘answer’. The volleying back and forth needs to be encouraged. For instance, “Do you want a teddy? (pause) This is your teddy,” as you show it to your baby. Wait for a response and pause long enough to allow them the chance to reply. Then ask another question. And please – don’t let your baby have a dummy (pacifier) during waking hours. They miss the chance to experiment with sounds when their mouth is occupied. You may find your baby is taking longer to talk than another baby who does not use one, or develop a speech impediment if they continue using one well after their two’s. 

Look at the concentration on this bub’s face! He is loving the closeness to his mum’s face and fascinated by her moving mouth that is producing sounds. She is smiling as well as speaking, and the bub is reassured by her positive, happy interaction.

Where do parents go for legitimate advice? As a qualified teacher I have access to incredible resources, based on scientific research and backed up by academia.  Google is not the whole answer. I offer you a credible, valuable and scientific alternative that is further supported through observation and experience.

Disclaimer:  Due to the limit of words statements will not be referenced. Sweeping statements and general comments are not fleeting, throw-away opinions on a subject. They are backed by scientific research and a vast academic resource. 

Newborns LOVE input

Did you know…

Aristotle said we had five senses, but in fact isolating senses does not cause perception. Experts state that real perception is about integrating information across all senses and moving around in order to perceive better.

Walk around with your newborn positioned so they can see what you’re looking at but also have the opportunity of looking at your face.

Point to an object, name it, show them what it does, how it sounds, how it smells (if that’s possible), ask what else you could do with it? This is your opportunity to be an actor. Use slower, exaggerated movements. Ask questions aloud (no, you won’t get an answer…yet). Pull faces. But be constantly connected to their eyes, keeping your face close to theirs.

When bub’s on their back on the floor hold a small object above them (at about their shoulder level), say “ball”, touch their left hand with it, then slowly move it above them in an arc and touch their right hand. Encourage them to grab it, hold their palms up and rub it on their palm. Place it on the floor just out of reach and encourage them to try grab it (roll them on their side to facilitate the action). This encourages so much cognitive development you would be amazed.

With such simple, but regular input from you their world is becoming enormous and real. And most importantly, when you are connected with them they feel safe.

Where do parents go for legitimate advice? As a qualified teacher I have access to incredible resources, based on the latest scientific research and backed up by academia.  Google is not the whole answer. I offer you a credible, valuable and scientific alternative that is further supported through observation and experience.

Disclaimer:  Due to the limit of words statements will not be referenced. Sweeping statements and general comments are not fleeting, throw-away opinions on a subject. They are backed by scientific research and a vast academic resource. 

White Knuckle Thrillers

HMP

BOOK REVIEW: It’s the contrast between the unrelenting, high octane suspense and the excruciatingly slow burn of romance. That’s what it is about this author’s writing. Of course you get that a lot in these kinds of books, but Sandra S. Kerns does it so well. The crime here is complicated and deeply woven through the cast of characters. This is a damned fine police story. The action starts with the witness to a murder unconscious in an ER, our hero by his side, our heroine nursing them both. Unravelling what happened is a great read… The romance is between a strong, positive, yet damaged, woman and a tough, gritty man who is all heart and impatience. Expertly drawn, these two have you feeling that slow burn and living it with them. I was particularly pleased with how things came together at the end – the way the hero took charge… Excellent romantic mystery/thriller.

TDC

BOOK REVIEW: Frigging hell, this doesn’t let up. Heart pounding, nail biting… if you’re looking for a relaxing read – this ain’t it! This is masterly suspense and a great thriller. You want to climb into the book and help out the goodies – save them from the relentless bad guys, whoever they are. It’s not clear exactly who to fear until the end. The who-done-it is brilliant. Get comfy because you won’t be putting this book down, although you’re likely going to be pacing the room while you read rather than relaxing in a chair… Excellent. Top marks.

Newborns LOVE your face

Did you know…

From birth, babies have a LOT to learn, and their brains are on an exponential growth trajectory, making millions of neural pathway connections through stimulation. Yes, through stimulation so no, they don’t want to sleep 22 hours a day. They need input!

Experts suggest 14-17 hours of sleep are required, the rest of the time is for feeding and learning. But even during feeding, be connected to your bub. Look at their eyes, talk or sing to them. Constant sounds from you 20-30cm from their eyes allows them to focus on you and realise you are their special person.

FYI, bub doesn’t know if you can sing in tune, that’s not important. What is important is that you are present and connected to your bub. Sitting and watching TV, or playing with your phone, is not being connected. It is losing a precious opportunity to help your child develop their cognitive skills. And how simple is that? You are your bub’s incredibly important first teacher, helping them develop their ability to think, understand and communicate. They are also learning how to remember and imagine or work out what might happen next in their world.

So warm up those vocal cords, google nursery rhymes, and be prepared to talk and sing out loud a LOT!

Where do parents go for legitimate advice? As a qualified teacher I have access to incredible resources, based on the latest scientific research and backed up by academia.  Google is not the whole answer. I offer you a credible, valuable and scientific alternative that is further supported through observation and experience.

Disclaimer:  Due to the limit of words statements will not be referenced. Sweeping statements and general comments are not fleeting, throw-away opinions on a subject. They are backed by scientific research and a vast academic resource. 

Romance real and powerful

RR

BOOK REVIEW: Slow burn with plenty of heat…This is one of the better romances of this kind I have read. It’s a letdown when the hero is a shallow playboy type and the heroine allows her attraction to him to overpower her better judgement. The mix here has the heroine not being overpowered at all. Maggie is a terrific character – her strength not wavering until the final scene, and even then we have to wonder who it was that lost control and succumbed to the attraction – or indeed whether they both did. There is a depth of honesty and realism in these characters that handles the tryst between the powerful bad boy and intrepid good girl way better than some bestselling books of late…. This is a fast read but not a quick fix story. It’s sexy and highly entertaining.

GG

BOOK REVIEW: Compelling characters…This is simple little love story with a hell of a lot going for it. It’s simple in plot but the setting and characters are gripping, raw and powerful. The dialogue is tremendous. The moment Artie opens his mouth we can see him. The way he contrasts with the guy he falls for – the way their differences so realistically complement each other is what creates the power in this story. That and the depiction of life and death on the Bering Sea in winter – another brilliant contrast with the warmth and tenderness of new love. Couple this with hot sex scenes and a smart twist at the end… A top read.

Novels & Novellas by G.S. Bailey, edited by Sher Chambers (BEd)