A Trip to Spain, Writing . . . and Books I’ve Reviewed

shutterstock_160717460This is what I call a ‘multi-purpose’ post, and it’s likely to be the last post I do for a couple of weeks. The reason might be obvious from the first part of my title. Yes, I’m off to Sunny Spain.

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I’ve read a few books over the last couple of months, but I’d like to mention four I really liked here. I’ll just add a link to my full reviews on Goodreads and write a shortened version here, otherwise this would become a bit of a marathon. So here they are:

  1. The Mystery of the Death: Book One of the Runevision Series.

Author:  Jack R. Cotner.

Genre: historical fiction

As a lover of both historical fiction and murder mysteries, I really enjoyed this book.  It’s set in the 5th Century AD in the Celtic lands of north-western, mainland Europe, an area which presents strong resistance to Roman control.

The murder mystery is extremely well crafted, with many twists and turns as the plot unfolds. We follow the footsteps of the young Celtic magistrate, Weylyn, who is tasked by his superiors in the Elder Faith with finding those responsible for the theft of a Roman treasure, including the magnificent Great Cross, and capture the perpetrator of the murder which occurred at the same time.

Throughout the chase, Weylyn must also adhere to the demands of the Roman Enforcement officers, whose agendas seldom tally with his own, as well as sorting out his own future with a woman whose beliefs are contrary to his own, and evading the deadly assassin who is always hot on his heels.

This book is a great read for anyone who enjoys an intriguing murder mystery with well-rounded characters and an historical setting. The writing style suits the period well and there are some lovely descriptive phrases and poems.  Jack is currently writing Book Two of the series, which I look forward to reading.

You can read the full review on  Goodreads.

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2.  Matchmaker of Magics: Book One of The Bleaken Series.

Author: Mara Fields

Genre: YA fantasy

It’s some time since I read a YA novel, so I wasn’t sure what to expect when I decided to read this book. I soon found that the style and content would suit both YA and adult readers. It’s an exciting story in which Mara blends magical powers with human emotion and endeavour extremely well. It is set partly in the tiny village of Bleaken and the capital city of the realm, Verdigreen.

Sacha Bleaken is a young woman whose ancestors founded the village.  Though expected to become one of the village leaders, Sacha knows she was born for far more than that. Her magical skills are already considerable. The sudden appearance of the monstrous Coldwights – not seen in Bleaken for many years – and the kidnapping of her beloved tutor, change her life completely.  Blamed for the Coldwights’ appearance, Sacha is banished from the village for a year. Whilst in Verdigreen she hones her powers under the guidance of some of the realm’s most talented mages, thus preparing herself for the tasks of finding her tutor and saving her people from the evil Coldwights.

I really enjoyed reading this book. Mara has a flowing writing style and there is a cast of intriguing characters. The magical element is fascinating. I am already half way through Book Two of this series and really enjoying it.

My full review can be seen on Goodreads.

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3. and 4. Mission Rome and Mission Paris: ( Scavenger Hunt Adventure Series)

Author: Catherine Aragon

Genre: Travel, Discovery and Adventure books for children

There are already several other books in this excellent series but Mission Paris and Mission Rome are the two I’ve read so far. They are aimed at children in the 8-12 age range, but would equally suit older chilren and even adults could make use of them as travel guides.

The books aim to give children on holiday with their family something interesting and exciting to focus on – in order to counteract boredom.  The missions are presented in such a fun way that few children could resist, especially with the added incentive of becoming a Secret International Agency special agent on completion of the tasks. Most of the major sites of each city are visited, with extra information given as introduction – much of this as amusing little snippets. They are extremely well written and beautifully and colourfully presented, with great covers and the maps and ‘missions’/investigations are clearly and interestingly listed inside. I just wish these books had been around when my own children were young. I haven’t visited Paris yet, but when I do, I’ll certainly make use of ‘Mission Paris’!

The books published so far include missions to Paris, Rome, Barcelona and Washington D.C. My reviews of the two books I have read can be found on Goodreads:

Mission Paris and Mission Rome

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On Thursday I head off to Andalusia (Andalucia) in Spanish. It’s not only somewhere I’ve wanted to visit for a while, but an area in which a section of Book 3 of my Sons of Kings trilogy takes place. So the trip is really for research into the old Moorish settlements, particularly Cordoba (Cordova in Spanish) which was the Moorish capital in the 9th century. There are also many ruins of Romans structures, which, of course, would have been there at that time. My ‘header’ image for this post shows the old Roman bridge in Cordoba. I intend to take lots of photos and visit as many sites and museums as we can manage.

Andalusia_Map

Map of Andalucia from Wikimedia Commons. Author: SantiagoFrancoRamos

So, until I get back I’m unlikely to post again, unless I find time for the odd photo. I’ll have to pick up on my blog where I left off . . .

Word of the Week (WOW) – Mellifluous

wow

Word of the Week (WOW) is a weekly meme created by Heena Rathore P. It’s a fun way to improve vocabulary by learning new words every week.

To participate, simply do a post with your word and leave the link as a comment on Heena’s WOW post for this week (above link). It’s a nice post to do and will give you some practice with a dictionary, of which there are several online. Illustrations are by no means necessary, but it’s up to you.

Next week, I’ll be looking for a word beginning with the letter n.

Here is my WOW for this week:

mellifluous

 Word:  mellifluous

Pronunciation:  mel·lif·lu·ous  [muhlif-loo-uh s]  (mə-lĭf′lo͞o-əs)

Part of Speech: Adjective

Adverb: mellifluously; Noun: melliflousness

 Meaning

1. (of sounds or utterances) having a smooth, flowing sound (e.g. a mellifluous voice)

Singing to the Reverend by Edmund Leighton. 1853-1922. Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain
Singing to the Reverend by Edmund Leighton. 1853-1922. Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

2.  sweetened with or as if with honey

Synonyms:

sweet, sweet-sounding, sweet-toned, dulcet, honeyed, mellow, soft, smooth, silvery, liquid, soothing, rich, euphonious, harmonious, tuneful, musical,  lyrical, lyric, melodic, melodious, mellifluent

Antonyms:

unlyrical, cacophanous

Word Origin:

C15: from Late Latin mellifluus flowing with honey, from Latin mel honey + fluere to flow

Use in a Sentence:

1. I eventually nodded off to sleep, lulled by the mellifluous tones of the nightingale.

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Nightingale (Luscina megarhynchos) in Berlin, Germany. Wikimedia Commons, Author: Nadingall, J Dietrich

2. Gerald was enraptured by the mellifluous sounds of the string instruments.

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Orchestra. Image courtesy of Pixabay

3. The little stream that flowed beneath the bridge made beautifully mellifluous gurgling sounds.

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Small Stream, Tregwynt, Wales. Wikimedia Commons. From geograph.org.uk

4. James struggled to tear his eyes from the mellifluous movement of the model’s hips.

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4. (Adverb) I am delighted to meet you, Miss Peacock,’ the bank manager intoned mellifluously.

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If you’d like to view more interesting word, the visit Heena’s page:

Word Treasure

Pesky Neighbours – Friday Fictioneers

Friday Fictioneers is a flash fiction challenge which asks us to write a story in no more than 100 words from the photo prompt kindly provided by the host, Rochelle Wisoff Fields. To join in with the challenge, or find out more about it, just follow the link to Rochelle’s blog.

Here is this week’s prompt . . .

keck
Photo prompt © Douglas MacIlroy

and this is my story . . .

‘Reckon you’ll like it here, Ve?’ Jim flashed his wife a lop-sided grin as he sat down opposite to her. ‘At least there’re no pesky neighbours to meddle in other folk’s business…’

Vera shrugged. ‘House i’nt bad … but I can’t go anywhere, with them big dogs prowlin’ about. An’ there’s nowhere t’ dry me smalls.’

‘But board and lodgin’s free.’

‘Of course they’re free, yer blithering idiot! Who’d pay t’ be stuck out ’ere on their own?’

‘Ah, Vera, love… If yer hadn’t knifed that old gossip, Mrs. Burke, you wouldn’t be sampling this newfangled isolation centre.’ 

Word Count: 98

If you’d like to read other entries, click on the little blue frog below:

friday-fictioneers

Lunch Dates – Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers

Flash Fiction for for Aspiring Writers is a writing challenge, kindly hosted by Priceless Joy. The challenge asks us to write a piece of fiction from the photo prompt provided in around 100- 150 words – give or take 25 words. It encourages participants to comment, constructively, on other entries, so supporting each other’s writing. If you’d like to join in with this challenge, follow the link tabove to see what to do. The challenge runs from Wednesday to Wednesday every week.

Here is this week’s prompt, kindly supplied by Vanessa Rodriguez:

wpid-photo-20150422065241749   . . . and this is my story:

Every Wednesday, on her day off, Margaret took the 6.15 am train to visit her mother at the Nursing Home on Morecambe Promenade. It was a grand old building, with excellent staff, and views right across Morecambe Bay to the Lake District mountains beyond.

The train was already five minutes late. Still, it gave her time to contemplate the day ahead. After visiting Mum, she would hurry to the restaurant for lunch with Peter, the lovely man she’d met at the Nursing Home a few weeks ago.

In fifteen years of marriage, Margaret had never been unfaithful to Jack, despite his numerous affairs and drunken rages. So far, meetings with Peter had been innocent. But last week, Peter had hinted at taking their relationship further. And why not? Jack wouldn’t care, even if he knew.

As the train hissed to a stop, Margaret smiled. A little hanky-panky would improve her life tremendously. Besides, Jack’s advancing cirrhosis meant he’d be gone before long. And, if she played her cards right, Peter would be waiting…

Word Count: 173

If you’d like to view other entries, click the blue frog below:

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A little note about Morecambe (pronounced Morcum).

Morecambe was once a thriving seaside town in North-West England. Like so many British seaside resorts, Morecambe’s heyday has long since passed as many Brits fly off in search of sunnier climes for their hols. It’s sad to see so many lovely old Victorian resorts sink into decline.

Morecambe’s most famous celebrity was Eric Morecambe. (He took his stage name from the town in which he was born.) He was one half of the 1960s comedy duo, Eric and Ernie. There’s a statue of him on Morecambe Promenade, which was, sadly vandalised not long ago by idiots with nothing better to do! I believe it has now been repaired.

These photos were taken three years ago, one evening when we passed through the town. My grandson was twelve at the time, and we had a bit of fun next to Eric’s statue. He definitely got the pose better than I did!

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Word of the Week (WOW) – Leviathan

wow

Word of the Week (WOW) is a weekly challenge created by Heena Rathore P. It’s a fun way to improve vocabulary by learning new words every week.

To participate, simply do a post with your word and leave the link as a comment on Heena’s WOW post for this week (above link). It’s a nice post to do and will give you some practise with a dictionary, of which there are several online. Illustrations are by no means necessary, but it’s up to you.

I’m up to the letter L this week. I started off by just choosing a word at random (perspicacious). Since then, I’ve been working through the alphabet, so I’ll be looking for a good word beginning with M next week.

So, here is my WOW for this week:

leviathan

 Word: Leviathan

Pronunciation:  le·vi·a·than  [li-vahyuh-thuhn;  luh- veye -uh-thuhn]

Part of Speech:  noun

Adjective: leviathan – meaning very large; gargantuan

 Meaning:

1. (often initial capital letter: LeviathanBible. a sea monster.

The Destruction of Leviathan.
The Destruction of Leviathan. An engraving from 1865 by Gustave Doré
Lev-Beh-Ziz
Levianthan sea monster with Behemoth the land monster and Ziz the air monster. Public domain via Wikimedia.

2. any huge marine animal, as the whale.

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Blue whales grow up to 30 meters in length and weigh up to 190 tonnes/160tons. They are the largest existing animal and the heaviest that has ever lived. Blue whale. Image from Wikimedia Commons. Author: NOAA Photo Library.
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These giant manta rays can have a wingspan of uo to 7 meters. They swim in the strong currents, slowly flapping their wings with amazing elegance. Author> Arturu de Frias Marques at Raja Ampat, West Papu, Indonesia.

3. anything of immense size and power, as a huge, oceangoing ship.

4. initial capital letter, italics: Leviathan) a philosophical work (1651) by ThomasHobbes dealing with the political organisation of society.

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Frontpiece of “Levianthan by Thomas Hobbes” – author unknown. 1661

Synonyms:

behemoth, blockbuster, colossus, colossal, dinosaur, dreadnaught, jumbo, elephant, elephantine, Goliath, jumbo, giant, mammoth, mastodon, monster, monstrous, titan, whale, whopper, whopping, gargantuan, astronomical, immense, supersize

Antonyms: 

diminutive, dwarf, half-pint, midget, mite, peewee, pygmy/pigmy, runt, shrimp, infinitesimal, Lilliputian, micro, miniscule, tiny, teeny, microscopic

Word Origin:

1350-1400; Middle English levyathan < Late Latin leviathan < Hebrew: liwyāthān

Use in a Sentence:

1. It can be a great challenge to drive a wheeled leviathan in rush-hour traffic.

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2. The tree was a leviathan among redwoods.

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Giant redwood tree ‘Sherman’ in the Sequoia National Park, California, USA Source: de.wikipedia uploaded by de: Benutzer: Pc fish

3. The man in front of us was a leviathan! He took up several seats at the theatre.

4. (Adjective use) The Titanic was a leviathan ship by the standards of the time.

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If you’d like to see more interesting words, visit Heena’s page:

Word Treasure

Six Attributes – Picture it and Write

Picture It and Write is a weekly writing challenge, posted every Sunday by Eliabeth, the author of Emiliablog. The challenge is to write a piece of fiction or a poem in response to the photo prompt supplied by the host. Here is this week’s photo . . . steampunk-pens and this is my story . . .

‘Choose wisely, my son. The implement you select will show little remorse should it sense resistance to its flow.’

I nod as my father smiles, gesturing to each pen as he expounds. ‘The first will show you as an honest man, straight paths laid out before you: a man who cuts no corners to the truth. Think on it … is that really you?’

I frown at the implied dishonesty, but my father’s finger moves to the right. ‘This pen has a pleasing design: straight threads leading to a central core. The spider-web design will show you to be a man of ambition: blinkered to all else that life has to offer until he reaches his goal. Could that be you?’

I touch the badge on my jacket, identifying me as Sergeant Matthews of HRH Queen Victoria’s Police Force. Did my ambition to be Chief Inspector blind me to other aspects of life?

Father’s finger hovers over the third pen from the left. ‘Here we see shapes of varying size and shape. This pen will reveal the writer to be a thoughtful man, willing to consider a variety of issues placed before him. Whereas the fourth pen…

… will show the grid-iron nature of a man unwilling to adapt to outside influences, too fixed in his comfortable existence to share his life with others.’

I wonder … is that what I want, a comfortable yet solitary life? I picture the lonely years ahead – and baulk at the scene.

‘As to the fifth pen,’ my father continues, ‘its design resembles the brickwork of a house. The tilted effect suggests some creativity in the architect, a man who will experiment a little and explore his own strengths.’

I nod again, considering such attributes within myself.

‘Now to the last implement in my collection … Note how the irregular shapes fit perfectly together, as would a jigsaw puzzle. The user of this pen will be shown to be a complex man, capable of multiple emotions, ambitions and desires; a man able to deal with any obstacle placed in his way.’

I reach for the sixth pen to my father’s nod of approval. ‘I confess to having a little of all of the qualities you describe, Father, but none to the exclusion of all others. I believe this pen would suit me admirably. I shall write to Gwendolyn immediately, assuring her that once we are wed our life together will be one of honesty, exploration and love. We will face all obstacles together.’

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If you would like to read other entries click on the link here.

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That’ll Teach ’Em – Friday Fictioneers

Friday Fictioneers is a flash fiction challenge which asks us to write a story in no more than 100 words from the photo prompt kindly provided by the host, Rochelle Wisoff Fields. To join in with the challenge, or find out more about it, just follow the link to Rochelle’s blog.

Here is this week’s prompt . . .

fire-roger-bultot
Photo prompt © Roger Bultot

and this is my story . . .

Sammy grabbed his brother’s arm. ‘I can’t see the bedroom through all that smoke.’

Rick grinned. At nine, and a year older than Sammy, he was the one in charge. ‘The firemen just went into the house…  They’ll probably find the candles.’

‘But they’ll know it was us if they do!’

Rick shrugged. ‘It’ll teach Mum not to send us to our room in future –‘

‘Rick! They’ve got two people on stretchers. Wonder who they are.’

‘Can’t tell. We’re moving further away all the time.’

Sammy reached out his arms and giggled. ‘These clouds feel really nice.’

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Word Count: 98

If you’d like to read other entries, click on the little blue frog below:

 

Diary of John Henry – Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers

Flash Fiction for for Aspiring Writers is a writing challenge, kindly hosted by Priceless Joy. The challenge asks us to write a piece of fiction from the photo prompt provided in around 100- 150 words – give or take 25 words. It encourages participants to comment, constructively, on other entries, so supporting each other’s writing. If you’d like to join in with this challenge, follow the link in the title of PJ’s, blog: Beautiful Words to see what to do. The challenge runs from Wednesday to Wednesday every week.

Here is this week’s prompt, courtesy of Pixabay.com . . .

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. . . and this is my story (genre: historical fiction):

In the autumn of 1842, I secured passage on a sailing ship bound for the East Indies out of Southampton. My aim was to indulge my passion for sketching rare seabirds … and to forget the girl who had broken my heart. By the time we rounded the Cape, the abundance of seabirds raised me from my moping self-pity and I exulted in the daily filling of my sketchpad.

Three days from the Cape an angry storm swept in, whipping the sea into a frenzy. In earnest I prayed for our lives and, although we were blown considerably off course, our ship survived unscathed. A heavy mist the following morning dissipated to reveal a small, green-swathed isle portside. I was delighted when the captain ordered his crew to make for the shore.

Albatross Isle has been my home these past thirty years. I found great peace amongst the islanders … and a loving wife who has borne me four sturdy children. I have many sketches of seabirds that soar in the vast blue expanse above.

Word Count: 175

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I’ve been concentrating on writing my book a lot this week, and I can’t seem to get my head out of historical fiction. I’ve also allowed myself to go to the word limit of 175, when I’m normally quite strict with myself and keep to 150. I just found I needed a few more words to tell this story.

If you’d like to view other entries, click here.

Word of the Week (WOW) – Kapok

wow

Word of the Week (WOW) is a weekly meme created by Heena Rathore P. It’s a fun way to improve vocabulary by learning new words every week.

To participate, simply do a post with your word and leave the link as a comment on Heena’s WOW post for this week (above link). It’s a nice post to do and will give you some practice with a dictionary, of which there are several online. Illustrations are by no means necessary, but it’s up to you.

Here is my WOW for this week:

kapok

 Word: Kapok

Pronunciation: ka·pok  [key-pok; keɪpɒk]

Part of Speech: Noun

 Meaning:

1.  The silky down inside the seed pods of a silk-cotton tree (kapok tree) Ceiba pentandra, of Indonesia, Africa and tropical America. It is used for stuffing pillows, life jackets etc. and for acoustical insulation. It is also called Java Cotton.

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Kapok tree pods, Madeira. Author: Veleta. Wikimedia Commons.
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Kapok seeds and silky fibre on Ceiba pentandra, Kolkata, West Bengal, India. Author: J.M. Garg

2. A massive tropical tree with deep ridges on its huge trunk and bearing large pods of seeds covered with silky floss – the source of the silky kapok fibre.

Kapok_tree_Honolulu
Kapok tree in Foster Botanical Gardens, Honolulu, Hawaii. Wikimedia Commons. Author: J.M.Garg
Ceiba_pentandra_0004
White-flowered Ceib pentandra showing spines on the buttressed trunk. Attribute: Atamari. Wikimedia Commons

Synonyms:

1. For the kapok fibre: plant fibre, cushioning, padding, Java Cotton

2. For the kapok tree:  Bombay ceiba, Ceiba pentandra, ceiba tree, God tree, silk-cotton tree, white silk-cotton tree

Antonyms:

None

Word Origin:

1740-50; < Javanese (or Malay of Java and Sumatra) kapuk or kapoq the name of the large tropical tree which produces the fibres.

Use in a Sentence:

1. They say that when the kapok tree blooms it is time to gather the crocodile eggs.

Kapok_flowers_I_IMG_2377
Kapok flowers on Ceiba pentandra. Kolkata, West Bengal, India. Wikimedia Commons. Author: J.M. Garg

2. Viewing platforms have been constructed in the tall kapok trees to allow tourists to look out over the rainforest canopy.

3. Emergent trees like the kapok rise above the rainforest canopy and provide a home for plants dependent on sunlight.

4. Naturally silky and resilient, kapok is the traditional stuffing for sitting cushions, in addition to cushions used by people who meditate in the kneeling position.

shutterstock_65990674
Colourful monk’s prayer or meditation cushions scattered in the courtyard of Wat Pho temple in Bangkok. Image from Shutterstock.

If you’d like to check out more interesting words then visit Heena’s page:

Word Treasure

Take My Hand – Friday Fictioneers

Friday Fictioneers is a flash fiction challenge which asks that we write a story in no more than 100 words from the photo prompt kindly provided by the host, Rochelle Wisoff Fields. To join in with the challenge, or find out more about it, just follow the link on the challenge title above.

Here is this week’s prompt, copyright Jennifer Pendergast . . .

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

and this is my story . . .

‘Take my hand,’ you say. ‘Come with me on a journey to the stars. We could reach the ends of the Universe, you and I; wonder at things hitherto unseen. No boundaries to hold us back.’

I smile up at your handsome face; the fire that burns in your eyes. You want me, it’s clear, though you hardly know me at all.

You reach out your hand, unfurl your fingers in a gesture of love. I recoil from the small white package so tenderly cradled mere moments ago. I shake my head and turn away from your proffered hand.

Word Count: 99

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If you’d like to read other entries, click on the little blue fellow below: