Posted in book review, FYI, TBR, Uncategorized

TBR Love October-November 2020 Part One

It’s the time of the year to show your TBR some love and find a new fave author or two! I’ve found four new authors I now really enjoy and you’ll find their books scattered throughout the TBR posts.

To help you find your new fave reads and authors, I’ve joined with a few fantasy and science-fiction writers in three Prolific giveaways. Bet you’ll find something that tickles your fancy in these collections. All of us authors would appreciate reviews on our eBooks if you could spare the time and enjoyed the read.

And if you’re wondering what my own little freebie for fantasy-lovers is, it’s my newest short story collection!

Read on to find the first two giveaways in time for your Halloween weekend. There’s another giveaway in November, so keep your eyes peeled 🙂

Enjoy!

Giveaways!

You Should See Me In A Crown

The Prolific Works team is proud to present the You Should See Me In A Crown Group Giveaway! This giveaway has all types of fantasy and paranormal books. Claim as many as you’d like and enjoy your new reads!


Trick-Or-Read

Happy Halloween! This Trick-Or-Read Group Giveaway is hosted by the Prolific Works team and has books from all genres, so there’s something here for everyone. You can claim as many as you’d like and enjoy your new reads!


Little Known,
Highly Recommended

Novel

The Identity Thief (YA Fantasy)
Alex Bryant

Despite its at time horrific and other triggers, this story gripped and amused me throughout in much the same manner as Lemony Snickets and Ben Aaronovitch’s work. Set in London in a world where magic is real yet mostly illusion, and drawing from ancient Greek philosophies and theatre, an intricate plot twists and turns around a traumatised boy, a girl whose mother is a magic crimes investigator and an unempathetic mimic who uses grimoires to cause havoc. The pace was perfect, the humour well placed, and the plot twists and turns in an unpredictable. Peppered with social issues and acute observations of tweens and school drama, it makes for a satisfying read for more than YA readers, in my opinion.

Novella

Lou’s Tattoos-A Comedy Of Errors(Crime/humour)
Iris Chacon

If you’re a regular TBR Love reader, who’ll know I loved Iris Chacon’s Finding Miranda. Once again, Chacon delivers quirky, fun characters, understated action and a strongly evoked settings. The story takes us back to the 90’s when tattoos weren’t as common, photography was expensive and involved rolls of 35mm and various ASAs, and annoying fellow passengers on flights were the same. Aspiring photographer and renowned tattoo artist, Lou, gets the chance of the lifetime when her photography break places her next to Galen, renowned nobody-knows-my-face photographer, on a flight he didn’t want to be on. And so the comedy of errors intensifies. It’s a quick, fun, read!

Posted in FYI, mind body soul, Outdoors, Tips and Hacks, Uncategorized

Storm Warning For November 2020

I’ve been getting repeated messages about storms in November 2020 from personal readings and when doing the tarotscopes for November/December 2020, so I thought I had to share.

If you’re a regular tarotscopes reader and viewer on my YouTube channel, you’ll know I’m not an alarmist, but sometimes we need to err on the side of caution, and this is one of those times. If this post helps one or two of you during this period, then it would have done its work!

So, here’s what I’ve been getting: the storms of November 2020 will be especially severe, and in particular winds will be high and rains heavy.
It’s likely that tornadoes will be late this year and stronger or more numerous than usual. Summer rains are likely to bring more flash flooding and even very early cyclones or cyclone-like storms. Blizzards are also very possible in some areas and may last longer than usual.

With this in mind, please take appropriate precautions for your area or the areas you’re travelling to. Be responsible. Stay informed about local conditions and ensure your vehicles are up to the weather so we don’t overtax first responders and other emergency services.

You may want to:

Northern hemisphere

Ensure storm-shelters are maintained and everyone knows the quickest routes to them.

You have sufficient food and water to get you through a prolonged storm or being snowed in.

You are aware of alternative routes and places of safety if driving through tornado and severe-storm prone areas.

Your vehicle lights, especially hazards, are in good working order. Use them in low visibility.

If you’re traveling to snow-prone areas, you have your snow-tires or snow-chains handy.

Inform friends or family of your travel plans/route, or if you’re going out of town for the day.

Check the weather report more than once a day and have severe storm alerts set up if you’re new to the area.

Southern hemisphere

You have sufficient food and water to get you through a prolonged storm and cuts in essential services like electricity/water/ telecommunications.

Your vehicle’s tires have enough tread to effectively prevent hydro-planing.

Your vehicle lights, especially hazards, are in good working order. Use them in low visibility.

You are aware of alternative routes and places of safety if driving through severe-storm prone areas.

Practice safe driving distances in wet weather, and refrain from driving in hail and storm bursts.

Don’t stand next to trees or climb hills when storms are approaching as lightning can still hit you.

Be aware of dips in the road that are likely to flood, and to reconsider routes with very low-lying bridges.

Inform friends or family of your travel plans or if you’re going out of town for the day.

Check the weather report more than once a day and have severe storm alerts set up if you’re new to the area.

Stay safe and healthy! Don’t take unnecessary risks with your life and others.

Posted in Uncategorized

Tell-tales of Ms Rightly Wrong

Tell-tales of Ms Rightly Wrong

Smitten by artful make-up and amber liquid, Ms Rightly Wrong may appear right for all the wrong reasons…Until the make-up rubs off and you’re left feeling raked over with, at the very least, your self-esteem in tatters. Red flags aren’t just for bulls. The wise pay attention to them and side-step before being hurt.

Here’s ten tell-tale signs fluttering away, advising you to run for safety.

You wonder why your normally sociable dog is whimpering just before she arrives, and then hides under the bed as she steps inside.
That doggie seems traumatised…

Your normally sociable cat takes every opportunity to show her the tail.
That kitty doesn’t care for her energy, or can sense a vamp before you…

She understands ‘budget’ to mean ‘budge it’ or ‘fudge it’ when it comes to finances.
Now you know why every tarot reader has been going on about bankruptcy in her cards…or yours.

She goes on about how you have a loving symbiotic relationship but all you see is ‘amoebic’—her needs and lifestyle engulfing your own identity, resources and happiness.
Science is all good and well but love is crucial to be someone’s beloved. Besides, the strongest relationships need compromise, especially symbiotic ones.

She never gets your jokes.
Do you really want to be minutely explaining every single joke you tell; only to be rewarded with an insincere smile, fake giggle or blank stare?

She says she and her friends/family don’t mean to sound condescending to you.
Still, it’s mean and impolite and if they’re half as smart or ‘woke’ as they all say they are, they must know it. More importantly, will they ever truly respect you? Does she really respect you?

She’s always telling you how you remind her of her first crush/her bad-boy ex or that celebrity. Now, she’s trying to get you to dress like them or act like them…
Is she in love with you, her fantasy, or her past? Probably her fantasy and her past.

She constantly lies to you. About everything. And you cringe at the whoppers she tells others.
Trust is a crucial pillar of any relationship. If she keeps swinging wrecking balls around, how can you ever build your foundation of trust, much less a strong relationship.

She threatens you with physical violence for any manner of things. And though she might sound playful, you know she means it.
Psycho is as pyscho does (and says). You never want to check into the Bates Motel, do you?

She constantly chatters and remarks on everything—like everything!
Constant verbal diarrhoea soon besmirches even the most cherished memories, tires you out and turns you into a resentful mute.

There you have my totally subjective top ten.
Have I forgotten a major tell-tale? Take off your amber-tinted classes and let us know in the comments.

Wondering whether your romantic partner’s alter ego is Sydney from Alias, Lara Croft or Jason Bourne-like? Wonder no more! This video will reveal their secrets!

TBR Love October-November 2020 Part One

It’s the time of the year to show your TBR some love and find a new fave author or two! I’ve found four new authors I now really enjoy and you’ll find their books scattered throughout the TBR posts. To help you find your new fave reads and authors, I’ve joined with a few fantasy […]

Storm Warning For November 2020

With this in mind, please take appropriate precautions for your area or the areas you’re travelling to. Be responsible. Stay informed about local conditions and ensure your vehicles are up to the weather so we don’t overtax first responders and other emergency services.

Posted in Agonist Aunt, FYI, mind body soul, Tips and Hacks, Uncategorized, writers prompt

Tell-tales of Mr Rightly Wrong

This article first appeared on Queentoo Magazine in 2015—my first magazine article sale!

Tell-tales of Mr Rightly Wrong

Blinded by rose-tinted glasses, or mellowed out by good Merlot, it’s often difficult to spot Mr Rightly Wrong until you’re in a little too deep, and he’spawned dependence into your life. Sometimes we ignore little (and some pretty big) tell-tale signs that would otherwise be deal-breakers, just so we don’t have to dine alone.

But dining alone won’t result in the long time regret that only Mr Rightly Wrong would bring.

Here’s ten tell-tale signs that should warn you to make a break for it before it’s too late.

It’s been two years since you’ve introduced him to your dog, two years in which your dog still barks at him every single time.
That doggie sense must be picking up some strange vibes…

Your cat hisses at the space just behind him, no matter where he stands.
That kitty sense must be picking up some seriously bad vibes…

His car is worth more than his house, whichever way you look at it.
Not a man you want to be depending on in the future.

He quotes religious text at you with a disapproving eye whenever you voice your own opinion but he never once (to your knowledge) practices what he preaches unless he gets acclaim and bragging rights for years.
Selfish hypocrites are never fun, quite the opposite.

He never gets your jokes.
Do you really want to be minutely explaining every single joke you tell; only to be rewarded with an insincere smile, fake giggle or blank stare?

He thinks he’s smarter than you in every way.
Oh yeah? Who thought shipping sand to Timbuktu was a good idea, uh? We’ll say no more except for: Respect.

You remind him of his mother.
Ohhkay…let’s not go there.

When it comes to friends and family, he never supports you in debates and arguments, nor does he defend you from unjust behaviour.
You can’t count on him. Not now, not in the future, not when the aliens invade. He’ll be the first to sell you out to save his own skin.

He drives like a maniac, delighting in your screams of terror and exhortations to slow down.
This guy is an accident waiting to happen—a serious, painful one with scars that will take too long to fade, if ever. Besides, death from old-age is more your thing.

He’s a tattle-tail and a gossip.
Every private thought, conversation and action of yours will be fodder for his social media accounts. It would probably be more fun being stalked by the FBI or CIA. At least they won’t gossip about your life.

There you have my totally subjective top ten.
Have I forgotten a major tell-tale? Put down that glass of Merlot and let us know.

If you like this, you may also like How Not To Meet The Man Of Your Dreams 😀

Posted in audio, free tarot readings, FYI, mind body soul, pick a card, SuperQuick readings, Uncategorized

Audio: Love and Romance For The Next 3 to 4 Weeks

A Pick-A-Card tarot reading for couples, singles and those looking for inspiration for their romantic writing or creations.

Timestamps

Option 1 00:38
Option 2 04:20
Option 3 09:53

Free download on my patron channel.

For more downloaded audios like this on a variety of topics, be sure to check out my patreon channel. Free content available for those not subscribed. Subscribers have access to over 200 posts, including eBooks!

Posted in free tarot readings, FYI, mind body soul, pick a card, SuperQuick readings, tarot month ahead, tarotscope, Uncategorized

Tarotscopes September to October 2020

So, here we are in September (September!) 2020 and a friend of mine says ‘2020 should just get over itself’. It made me smile, though she’s had a tough year and hopefully the worst is over. Still, it’s hardly 2020’s fault it got grounded and sent its room. Mother Nature had just had enough of us, I think, and we all needed some time out, didn’t we? But now that we’re cautiously un-pausing and re-pausing as we shake 2020 (or the year that wasn’t for most of us) awake, I invite you to once again watch and consider that viral video that made us think again at the beginning of the The Great Pause (or that time the world got sent to its room).

The Great Realisation by Probably Tomfoolery

As for what the cards say about the next two months, it’s a bit of this and a bit of that. For most, there’s change—good change. And for some a reminder that you still have some work to do (on yourself). Please don’t carry old baggage and mindsets into 2021 that got us sent to our rooms in the first place, and now’s the best time to toss persistent old baggage aside and look at what we really, really need to be happy for the rest of our lives. What is it that your Heart really, truly—most excitedly—desires?

While you’re listening to your tarotscopes, feel free to check out and listen to the other freebies on my Patreon and YouTube channel.

Have an awesome, beautiful and prosperous September and October 2020!

Your Tarotscopes

Fire Signs

Leo
Sagittarius
Aries

Earth Signs

Virgo
Capricorn, Taurus

Air Signs

Libra
Aquarius
Gemini

Water Signs

Scorpio
Pisces
Cancer

Also Up On My Patreon

Short Heart’s Desire Meditation (Free to download)
Leo Birthday To Birthday Challenges 2020 to 2021
Spiritual Check-In Video
How Invested Are They? Pick A Card audio

Up on My YouTube Channel

Newest Relocation video. Look for more on relocation in my playlists.
Look at my Future Spouse Playlist for similar videos
Major Changes Over The Next 3 Months (Pick A Deck)

Posted in book review, fiction, FYI, Reviews of Smashwords eBooks, TBR, Uncategorized

The Secret Lives Of Senior Readers

For virtual librarians:
Ebook recommendations from my mum
for your older relatives and readers

My mum’s always surprising me. Just the other day, she mentioned she loves reading on her new tablet (her 70th Birthday gift from my Wee Bruv and Kleinsus) and that she now much prefers eBooks to print.

In fact, since the lockdown and mum’s inability to access print from the libraries every week or two, she’s been reading three to four books plus a novella or two every week—yep! Much more than I currently read. So, I thought I’d share some of my mum’s most recommended reads with you in case you’ve also become someone’s virtual librarian. Scroll further for the highly recommended if you’re in a rush as I thought I’d tell you a bit more about my mum and her reading habits first. Or, if you prefer: The Secret Lives Of Senior Readers.

NB: This post contains some affiliate links that keep us eBooks.

First: the technical stuff

Mum’s on android, so I downloaded Lithium from the GooglePlay store for her. She’s had no complaints. I’ve set the background to the one that looks like parchment or a standard paperback page, kept the font as standard black and made the font slightly larger than usual. She uses the grid view with the recently opened showing first. Sometimes, she forgets to scroll down when looking for a new book to read, but that’s okay.
She began reading eBooks on her phone a few years ago, but between the battery drain and having to hold the powerbank while she read sometimes, it wasn’t ideal. Enter Wee Bruv and Kleinsus with the tablet for her birthday. Mum’s in love with her tablet and the fact that she doesn’t need to recharge it so often even though she reads for at least four hours on most days. Also, she can read during loadshedding and not disturb Dad as much, too. Her tablet has Lithium with the same settings and what excited her a lot was the larger page area. We also set the screen brightness to about 40-45% so she doesn’t burn out her retinas and avoids eye-strain. Plus, this saves the battery, too.

Next: where mum gets her books

Short answer, me! This is where I turn into the virtual librarian. To be fair, I’ve had practice since years ago when I used to finish work early on Friday and rush over to our local library to grab an armful of books in 30mins or less. It’s kind of like the same process, only this time it’s all digital and I have one or two steps more.

I usually download books from Smashwords and some other sites that offer free and introductory reads (like Prolific), and sometimes I buy an eBook from an author we enjoyed, as long as it’s available for download as an epub. This isn’t ideal, but mum talks to more readers of her age who are more likely to seek out the print and library versions of the authors she recommends, and once mum loves a book, she loves a book. Besides, we can’t afford to buy all the books we’d like to read.
Mum doesn’t read online so that’s another reason to download the books. Truth be told, mum gets overwhelmed and bored by scrolling through the endless covers and blurbs, sorting through the menus and submenus to find her genres and braving the other hazards of finding books that appeal to her in an online store or library. I don’t mind digging for gems for mum as it’s research and often good reading for me, too! Once I’ve downloaded and run a virus-scan (you can never be too careful), I transfer the eBooks to mum’s device.

Mum’s genres

Mystery, crime, adventure, thriller, romantic suspense and family drama. Sometimes she’ll read a horror (not very often), has long since passed the erotic romance phase, and likes a good humorous story especially if it involves pets and quirky characters. We’re talking about someone who grew up reading Agatha Christie and the classics, got stuck in historical dramas in the ’70s, spent the ’80s and ’90s reading Jackie Collins and Virginia Andrews, fought us for Terry Pratchetts and Alan Dean Fosters while reading Jack Reacher novels and Dick Francis from the word go. Mum’s always moved with the times as long as the stories are good. Now she’s bingeing on eBooks. She doesn’t usually read badly formatted or poorly written books, deleting them quickly. I’ve gotta say I’m really proud of mum’s reading habits 😀

Mum’s recommendations
for 2020

Highly Recommended

Author: Wes Snowden
Mum’s most recent bingeing has been the very enjoyable Wes Snowden. We just ‘discovered’ him this year, and she’s already talking to Big Sis (a big Dick Francis fan) about this author. I’ve read one of his books so far and got so engrossed in it that I stayed up half the night to complete the story.
I believe Wes Snowden’s books are also available in print, so you may want to ask your librarian for them.
One Last Move: This is the story I’ve read, the one that had me up half the night. The characters are warm and quirky, yet relatable. The main character is honest and his predicament not one you often find in a print. This is a gentle suspense with a hint of thriller and romance. All in all, an excellent read by mum’s and my standards.
Other books by Snowden mum’s read:
Snowfall In Venice: a novella
White Swan Wishes: Mum enjoyed this one immensely. She loved the humour. When I have a day or two to spare, I’ll read this next.

Author: Camilla Monk
The Spotless Series: I got the box-set for my birthday after thoroughly enjoying Spotless (the first book) as freebie and vowed to read the rest as soon as I could afford it. Mum and I read the series almost simultaneously, so not much work got done over those few days. We had convos around: Which book are you on now? When does March come in again? Did you reach that bit where Island finds out about the bad guy?
Spotless the series has all the elements mum loves: mystery, adventure, action, romance, quirky characters, humour…
Mum’s itching to read Book 5 as much as I am. Maybe for Christmas…

Author: Cecilia Peartree
Death At The Happiness Club: This one mum recommends to senior citizens looking for an enjoyable mystery. It’s part of a series so I’ll keep an eye out for more.

Author: Lizzy Lewis
Cake And Calamity: An easy mystery read that’s worth the time, says mum.

Author: Peggy Webb
The Rules Of Engagement: Another book recommended by mum to other seniors. I believe it’s a romance mystery.

Author: Iris Chacon
Finding Miranda: I read this first and told mum she should read it next. She did. It wasn’t her usual reading, but the quirky, characters and unusual plot and general humor also won her over. I highly recommend this, and mum would recommend it to those who enjoy Carl Hiaasen with less sweary words.

Graham Wilson
This Aussie author was the first that mum read on her screen—one who got her bingeing his thriller/crime series. I haven’t read his stories yet, but they pretty much have mum glued to her screen. She tried recommending him to one of her senior friends who’s still stuck on print and was sad she couldn’t share another good author with a fellow reader of taste.

Recommended

Eric Douglas
Cayman Cowboys: Mum particularly enjoyed the setting and the scuba-diving adventure aspects. I did try reading this and found it a little too slow at the beginning for me, so some patience required in getting to the heart of the story for this one, perhaps.

Sally Berneathy
Death By Chocolate:Mum and I both enjoyed the twists and turns in this mystery. Perfect for a long-weekend or Sunday read.

Connie Shelton
Sweet Masterpiece: Another solid mystery/crime/foodie story that had both of us hooked. An added bonus for me was the focus on art.

And that’s all we have for you, folks! Happy reading to you and the senior members in your family!

Posted in audio, design, FYI, Tips and Hacks, Uncategorized

Resources Worth Checking Out: Hightail File Transfer

Hightail is a stable professional tool for serious remote workers

* This review is based on my personal use and experience with Hightail. I am not affiliated with them and this post contains no affiliate links.

Hightail’s website landing page

I’ve been using Hightail for confidential transferring and public sharing of media for over three years. I found it via an audio file share from a well-known personality in the Mind Body and Soul community in 2017 and decided to give it a try for those tarot readings I can’t email because the files are over 15MB.

It’s one of the most stable and professional sites that consistently renews my faith that developers and site owners (or some at least) know what they’re doing. Except for one week in July 2018 when it took forever to upload a 30-40MB file (I think they might have been upgrading the site then) Hightail works efficiently every time for my audio files, even with my slow internet connection.

There’s so much I enjoy about using Hightail. It allows you to create a separate space with a dedicated shareable link for different projects or clients. Team members or clients can go directly to the platform’s viewers, audio and video players to view the files or download the material. Comments are also enabled, allowing for direct communication (though I don’t use this feature much).

Spaces menu and a typical space in grid view

Viewing your spaces is easy in the grid or list view, allowing for quick access to projects and files.

The clean design is very professional without any kindergarten-feel fonts, colours or imagery. The functions are easy to find and intuitively laid out.

I have to confess Hightail has my favourite progress bar! Once a file begins uploading, it calculates the most time it would take, then constantly recalculates with two visuals—a bar that fills up as the files loads and a circle that does the same over the file icon. They’re both quite consist with each other and, most importantly, with their accuracy. For me, the most impressive thing about Hightail is that it doesn’t waste my time and data. The uploads are quick and it doesn’t drop my file data during the upload unlike some other sites. I mostly upload mp3s and so far have had no problems with Hightail’s players refusing to play back my media. I’ve also shared large PDFs and Photoshop files. Some day, when I can afford one of the Premium plans, I’ll share videos as well.

Hightail in-app audio player and controls.

Best of all, all but one of my clients had no problems using Hightail or accessing their files. For that reason, if I were running a team, especially one that shares larger files, I’d choose Hightail over Slack (which I dislike because it’s so hard to find files easily among all those threads).

Are there any cons to using Hightail? There’s only one that I’ve experienced, but it hasn’t happened in a long while. Sometimes, when my internet was interrupted, I would need to upload the entire file again. And sometimes the Hightail player isn’t available immediately after upload. It could take a minute or two for you to be able to preview the audio before sending to your client/colleague.

So, if you’re working from home, need more confidentiality than most file sharing systems, and hate having your time and data wasted, I recommend giving Hightail a go. You can try out their Lite plan for free.

Posted in FYI, Happiness is, mind body soul, Tips and Hacks, Uncategorized

Bakin’ Bread

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been looking at more of those easy-peasy recipes make-at-home-as-good-as-the-stores recipes. And as the Covid-19 numbers increase drastically over here, I thought it was time to make like a Masterchef and try my hand at homemade bread. My only memory of making bread (shop-type bread, not hand-made bread or rotis) is of my gran’s brief foray into yeasty stuff back when I was about four-years old. Still, Matt Preston’s 2013 recipe made baking bread look sooo easy, surely anybody could do it! And so I did! But not all at once.

No, first I tried the super-easy 2 (or 4) ingredient (if you don’t have self-raising flour) multi-purpose bread dough sans yeast.

Bagels (No Yeast, please!)

Video Video alternative

The nice and short YouTube video tells you how to prepare the dough and the most crucial bake-time for pizzas, bagels and something else that I forget now. I double-checked the recipe on another YouTube video (so learning it could be a 4-ingredient (and what to substitute) recipe for a healthier base…

If you don’t know the recipe all you need to remember is:
one cup self-raising flour and one cup plain yoghurt, mix till dough-like, shape and stick in the oven for about 45mins (?).

That.Is.It!

The dough was nice and soft which I shaped into bagels.

They’re far from bagels-bought (bagels or bread) but very nice nonetheless, especially if you’re running low on bread or all out and need a sandwich or two in just over an hour.

Encouraged by the lack of failure, I determined it was time to move into more adult ways of making bread and try a recipe my gran would have loved.

Masterchef’s Matt’s Easiest Bread (Yeast)

Video The blogpost I used

I used a 4g packet of instant dry yeast, and remembered (after having to reschedule the first baking day) to make the dough the night before.

Your must-remember for this recipe is: make the dough the night before!

Since it took me less than 20 minutes to gather the ingredients, combine, then stick the dough in the fridge and clean up, the hardest part is remembering to actually do it.
It really was as easy to make as demonstrated on TV and it yields a lovely crusty, ciabatta-style bread.

The ingredients: 1kg flour, tablespoon instant dry yeast, tablespoon salt, 950ml warm water.

Combine ingredients into a bowl that allows the dough to double in size (I used a pot), dry ingredients first, then add the water. Leave overnight in the fridge. Take out and let stand at room temperature for an hour and stick into two pans. I tried making 6 rolls as Matt did on Masterchef, and one large loaf. Bake for an hour.

We had to let the large loaf cool and dry out for a while as it came out a little damp when I cut into it, but it was cooked through and perfect for curry or sopping up gravy.

Will I try these recipes again? Definitely! There’s still a packet of yeast left, and I’ve just gotten more plain yoghurt too!

Let me know how your own bakin’ bread adventures have gone in the comments below.
Stay safe and be well!