YA/NA Books: Best of 2014


Looking back on 2014, so many wonderful changes have been made to the blog. I’ve gained several hundred followers and views, thank you! I’ve opened more communication networks and expanded social media to include more Indie authors and have made friends with many new authors. I’ve upped my participation in tours, giveaways, and conducted great interviews. It’s been a year of growth and discovery and I hope that you’ll continue on with the blog into what promises to be another amazing year-2015. A year which may or may not include my book release…we’ll see. Fingers crossed.

That being said, in 2014 I read and reviewed 218 books. That’s 32 under what my goal was but grad school, eh and writing, YAY. I asked over on the FB page and on my personal page for categories, the following are a combination of those suggestions and my own. The books on this list consist ONLY of books I’ve read this year. Some of them are not 2014 releases, most are. 



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This is, of course, not an all-encompassing list and I’m sure there are categories and areas that I’ve neglected. Some of these titles are repeated but I couldn’t help myself. 

Keep reading and have a lovely New Year,

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Cover Reveal: Snake Eyes-Melissa Pearl

Snake Eyes by Melissa PearlSnake Eyes - E-cover small
Snake Eyes (The Mask, #3) by Melissa Pearl
December 30, 2014
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Caitlyn Davis expects her sophomore year at UCLA to be perfect…until she walks into her dorm room to find Special Agent Zoey Kaplan of the FBI waiting for her. In that instant, she knows her idyllic year with new best friends, Nicole and Dale, along with her super hot boyfriend, Eric, is about to fall apart.
Having been forced to work with the FBI months earlier, Caity accidentally gave away her special ability to read people’s emotions and know whether they were telling the truth. Now, Kaplan wants Caity to go undercover again for a secret operation that will bring her close to the sadistic Diego Mendez, a man believed to be involved in human trafficking.
Eric Shore is not a man who trusts easily. Having been burned multiple times, it’s hard for him to open up completely, but his love for Caity makes him want to try. Yet, her sudden withdrawal worries him, particularly when she chooses to spend time with her new roommate, Quella Mendez, over him. When Caity’s behavior begins to match that of her wild roommate, Eric wonders if their relationship is as strong as he believed.
As Caity struggles to maintain her relationship and do her job, she finds herself pulled further into a dangerous world that could take away everything she holds dear. Will Eric learn the truth in time to save her? Or will the man with the eyes of a snake destroy their perfect romance?
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Melissa Pearl was born in Auckland, New Zealand, but has spent much of her life abroad, living in countries such as Jordan, Cyprus and Pakistan… not to mention a nine month road trip around North America with her husband. “Best. Year. Ever!!” She now lives in China with her husband and two sons. She is a trained elementary teacher, but writing is her passion. Since becoming a full time mother she has had the opportunity to pursue this dream and her debut novel hit the internet in November 2011. Since then she has continued to produce a steady stream of books, ranging in genres from Fantasy to Contemporary Romance. She loves the variety and is excited about the books she has coming up in 2015.

Happy reading,
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ARC Review: Earth & Sky-Megan Crewe


cooltext1790897456 copySeventeen-year-old Skylar has been haunted for as long as she can remember by fleeting yet powerful sensations that something is horribly wrong. But despite the panic attacks tormenting her, nothing ever happens, and Sky’s beginning to think she’s crazy. Then she meets a mysterious, otherworldly boy named Win and discovers the shocking truth her premonitions have tapped into: our world no longer belongs to us.

For thousands of years, Earth has been at the mercy of alien scientists who care nothing for its inhabitants and are using us as the unwitting subjects of their time-manipulating experiments. Win belongs to a rebel faction seeking to put a stop to it, and he needs Skylar’s help–but with each shift in the past, the very fabric of reality is unraveling, and soon there may be no Earth left to save.

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***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Amazon Children’s Publishing.


  • Earth & Sky is a bold, brilliant and unique story. The blur between science fiction and historical fiction is bewitching, the sort of story that mixes alien with fact. From the very beginning, Skylar’s sense of wrongness when it came to pieces of her world was puzzling and intriguing. It sucks the reader in and tantalizes with the promise of something mysterious, something magical. The bones of the story is amazing. The aliens, the fiddling with history, the threat of Earth unraveling, it’s terrifying. Unfortunately, that fear doesn’t translate well.
  • Skylar was interesting. Her trauma was a story that cut deep. Her anger towards her brother, the pain in not knowing his fate, her OCD as coping mechanism all drove and inspired her actions. Getting inside Skylar’s emotions was riveting and upsetting but real and emotionally raw. 


  • The story is very slow and lacks the necessary suspense. Every action scene lags or is cut before any anxiety or uncertainty can fully develop. 
  • There’s a huge disconnect between Win and the reader. You never get the chance to know what he’s feeling, he’s almost absent, his presence is off and his actions push Skylar away.
  • The budding romance seems one-sided because of Win’s attitude towards Skylar. The build up is minimal and so when it does happen, it’s dull, unsatisfying, and kind of bizarre.
  • The history is brief and not nearly as detailed as I would have liked. Between the imagery in France to the battles with the Native Americans to the explanation of the colonization. The details were threadbare. 

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:


Pleasant reading,

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ARC Review: Both of Me-Jonathan Friesen


“He bowed his head. ‘I’m scared. Are you ever frightened?.’ ‘No. Well, yes.’ ‘Frightened that you’ll be overcome by yourself? That a gentle monster inside of you might take over and never let go?'”


“‘Have you ever run from reality? Have you ever run because reality was too much, too suffocating, too…just too? And then you find fiction. And the fiction feels more real than the real ever did. Have you ever felt like that?'”

cooltext1790897456 copyElias Phinn has always been considered stupid, but that may be because no one knows his vacant exterior holds a gifted mind. A mind that has learned to focus on his created world of Warilia, through which Elias distills everything he sees in order to cope with the excruciating, actual world around him. But with each passing year, the detailed sketches and notebooks describing Warilia have not only taken over Elias’s time, they have become a world he must slip into in order to get through each day. Clara Tobias has been running from her own reality, leaving behind her fragile mother and two siblings in order to have the whirlwind life of travel and adventure she always wanted. She justifies she put in her time caring for others, and that the rest of her life is hers to use as she pleases. Even if guilt won’t leave her alone.

On a flight out of New York—Elias heading home for the summer, Clara on another trip to Somewhere—the two end up side by side. And when their carry-ons are mistakenly switched, Clara opens her bag to discover the histories of Warilia while Elias finds photographs and journals he uses to flesh out the mysterious girl who sat beside him, whom he sees as the beautiful daughter of a Warilian diplomat, making her and her mother an integral part of his entire world.

When Clara arrives at the Phinn’s boarding house for her luggage, she begs Elias to show her Warilia—and he does, taking her to locations that to him are not ordinary landscapes and buildings but epic mountains and massive skyscrapers. But as Clara finds herself further drawn to this intriguing boy, word comes her mother has died. When Elias becomes unable to deal with the death of his diplomat, he and Clara leave on a mission Elias claims will preserve Warilia forever. Though in the end it could be the one thing that allows Clara to piece her own world together.

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***I received this eARC in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Blink

Sometimes you read a book and every other page all you can think is WOW. Just wow. Then you take a deep breath, take a step back and pause. Everything suddenly has a marvelous sort of calm and clarity. It’s brilliant, peaceful, the kind of elation that comes from being deeply satisfied and loved. Loved-because that’s what Both of Me is, an outpouring of love, understanding and self-discovery and definitely one of my top reads of 2014, if not ever.

Both of Me is an unconventional story that is part self-discovery, romance, mystery, and revelation. It’s at its heart, an adventure that unites two unlikely allies on a quest made of imagination and dark secrets.

From the first page, I was fascinated by Clara. Her role as a traveller following a map around the world through an elaborate system of blogging and funding from an internet scam simultaneously disgusted and intrigued me. Beneath her bravado was a scared little girl running from a past that she thought could be forgotten through redemption, through following her father’s path around the world. Clara is confused, bold, brilliant, she tackles things head on and has a nice British accent. At the same time, the need to know her sinister truth pulls the story forward as Clara’s unraveling comes to a head. Everything she’s been hiding threatens to bubble over and burst out into the open. Clara’s terrified and shamed. Her emotions are complex and raw as she questions her faith and what it means to love. Her guilt is sometimes overwhelming but complimented by a dramatic thirst for life.

Both of Me is breathtaking and beautifully written in its simplicity. Some of the most profound, moving sentences are casually strung together so that they linger. They don’t immediately hit you that simmer, a slow burn of longing and epiphany.

This book is special in that it deals with a subject that is difficult to capture let alone talk about-Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) and autism. Jonathan Friesen doesn’t talk about DID as something crippling or wrong but as a puzzle with a bit of whimsy. Elias is the most unique, heartbreaking character I’ve ever read. He’s two parts of a whole. One side is a talented artist that breathes life into a fantasy world of his own creation, where a Lightkeeper must be found to combat the darkness in the world. The other half is a genius machinist with a bemused expression and big heart. These two pieces of Elias are easy to fall in love with. His switch happens in an instant and at first it’s intriguing. The determined Other One has a quest that rivals great epics and a giddy hope builds as Clara follows him on his journey for answers. When he slips into the main Elias, he has no memory and that happiness quickly turns to bleak sadness. He’s losing part of himself and can never get that back. It’s brutal, gut-wrenching, and almost paralyzes so that you don’t want to move forward out of fear.

My heart fractured and broke, only to be rebuilt as Clara and Elias’ relationship blossomed. 

Every character is quirky and has a fully developed personality. There’s not a small character that is not memorable. 

Elias and Clara, when they are together is sweet, charming, and uncertain but they fit. She wants to help him and he’s healing her wounds. 

The subplots are hilarious. Izzy’s insertion into the story and the underground railroad. It takes you to unexpected places that you’ll never see coming.

The ending. There are no words. 

If this is not made into a movie and/or best-seller I will be astounded. If you like John Green, I’ll Give You the Sun, or Belzhar get this, it’s your next favorite. 

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

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Review: The Adventures of Jillian Spectre-Nic Tatano


cooltext1790897456 copyWelcome to the Mystic Quarter…

Jillian Spectre knows what happens after you die because the seventeen-year-old mystic seer can see the future of her clients even after they’ve passed on. And that’s not even her coolest power… she can be in two places at once. Problem is, her heart can only be in one.

Supernatural abilities aside, she’s a typical high school senior torn between two guys. But that gets put on the back burner when she discovers the father she had long assumed was dead is actually alive, with unique powers of his own. He’s a technopath, with the ability to interface his mind with technology. And he’s got a plan to take down society.

Unless Jillian can stop him.

The Adventures of Jillian Spectre is the story of a very special girl who learns that the power of love is more important than supernatural powers.

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***I received this book in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley and HarperImpulse.

There’s something special about The Adventures of Jillian Spectre in that it sucks you in and basks you in warmth. It’s carefree and magical and has the sort of lighthearted, magnetic characters that you want to see more of. 


  • Jillian is a saucy little minx. She’s a fiery redhead with loads of sarcasm and serious confidence. She says what’s on her mind and throws caution to the wind. She makes reckless, life and death decisions that will leave you smacking your head against your e-reader while applauding her courage. Jillian is relatable. Besides having the coolest power, being able to predict and view the fate of romance for 5 years into the future, she still struggles with her own love life and is as confused about the opposite sex as the next girl. Jillian is calculated and conflicted about her father but sacrifices everything for the fate of the world. She’s truly a take charge, admirable protagonist.
  • The supernatural, the different shades of psychic and mental prowess was dazzling. From astral projection, to telekinesis, to being a muse, everything was bold, charming, and fascinating to read. 
  • The underlying message about technology and losing faith was intriguing. The idea that we’re so latched on to our devices we’re losing what makes us human, what makes us belive is a compelling and disquieting argument. As the technology interfaced with subconscious, people became more like zombies and forgot who they were in favor of what technology dictated. It’s an alarming portrait of humanity at risk.
  • Roxanne is a force. She’s a sizzling, ball of energy and wit. Sultry, sensual, and made of innuendo, Roxanne is an enigma. A good Catholic girl with a naughty sense of humor and big Italian personality. Rox insights laughter and head shaking. She’s addictive and more like a siren than a muse. ❤ Roxanne doesn’t take any nonsense from anyone, she’s above all the drama and puts people in their place. 
  • Roxanne and Jillian’s friendship is golden. It’s what best friends are made of. Understanding and perfect symmetry.
  • Ryan and Jake each have a heart-throb persona. They’re gorgeous, alluring and while Jake is a bad boy with a tendency to play with emotions, Ryan is clueless, adorably so when it comes to feminine charms. 


  • The danger and urgency was subtle. All of the pieces were there but they we’re in the forefront and for that reason, the anxiety was muted. 
  • The general set up of the borough of psychics (the Mystic Quarter) wasn’t fleshed out. A little more insight into the various powers and the weight of each psychic’s role would have been helpful in positioning Jillian in this larger scope. Also, the Summit. There’s not much detail in what they do or what it looks like from the inside. While this does add to the mystery and sort of untouchable, clandestine mystique of the higher-ups, it left a lot of questions. 

If you like any of the following you’ll enjoy this:

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Release Day Blitz: Skin of My Teeth-Judith Graves

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cooltext1617835092 copyHOW TO PLAY

· draw a card from the deck
· kill or be killed
· and if you’re lucky, repeat…

Hidden agendas, deep, dark secrets, and monsters lurking around every locker. It’s business as usual at Redgrave High for Eryn and her crew of paranorm hunters – they plan to capture and cure Brit’s brother from his tormented existence, Eryn is reunited with her father’s beta, and Redgrave’s origins are revealed.

Although the two guys vying for Eryn’s heart just might have to up their game. Enter hot, wolven guy stage left. Is he the one Alec’s blood magic foretold? He is, if Eryn’s knocking pulse has anything to say about it. The tale-tell sound is driving Wade mad. But it’s Eryn’s move, and everyone is holding their breath.

A little healthy competition soon becomes all-out survival of the fittest as the crew are pitted against a pack of demons trading souls – for keeps. The student population is enamored with a new card game, Boroughs Quest. Kids are desperate to get their hands on gilded cards from a mysterious expansion deck, but when they do…

It’s all fun and games ’til somebody dies. 


Follow this link to a Special Release Day trailer to unlock exclusive bonus content! 


cooltext1617835901 copyJudith Graves has multiple young adult novels and short stories published with Leap Books, Orca Book Publishers, Compass Press, and, under the pen name, Judith Tewes, is also published with Bloomsbury Spark. In addition, Judith is an award-winning screenwriter and playwright, writes freelance articles for literary magazines, and facilitates writing workshops for both adults and young adults. She lives in northern Alberta with her husband and three crazy labs.


Happy reading,

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ARC Review, Excerpt & Giveaway: Beautiful Collision-T.G. Ayer

Title: Beautiful Collision
Author: T.G. Ayer
Release Date: Dec 10, 2014
Published by: Infinite Ink Books
Genre: Contemporary
cooltext1843013784 copy Eighteen year old Gray McAllister is on the run. Leaving her dangerous past behind her is easier said than done, even when she finds herself at last able to forge a new life for herself.
But then the planets align and Gray finds herself bumping into super-hot Thane Blackwell. Drooling over him from afar is safe but that’s only until she is forced to look after Thane while he recovers from surgery.
Being holed up in her apartment is a bad bad idea. Can Gray control the fire that Thane seems light inside her, or will she give in to her deepest desires. Can Thane achieve his goal without hurting Gray in the process?
The stakes are impossibly high, but love and lies don’t play nice with each other. Will Gray’s past catch up with her first? Or will Thane’s own secrets explode and tear them apart?
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4/5 Stars
***I received this eARC in exchange for an honest review via the author and in participation with this tour.
+++Does contain what could be triggers for some: abuse, assault, violence, human trafficking.
  • Human trafficking is a subject that I don’t think is tackled enough, especially given how prevalent it is. Awareness is a powerful thing that can help people recognize signs and dangers to not only themselves but people around them. T.G. Ayer does a great job depicting the clandestine side of things, the clues that are just beneath the surface and occasionally blatant that we sometimes miss. The scenes are not graphic in terms of blood, gore, or sex but they are full of hysteria and poignant emotion. The fear, the screams, the emaciation are all components that when combined piqué the imagination without forcing the reader to face the image head on. 
  • Gray’s flashbacks are traumatic and made of vibrant bursts of memory that will haunt and chill you to the bone. The sheer disgust and sadness Gray feels makes her need to disappear more real. The scene with her brother horrified and disturbed me. Finally getting the whole picture at the end of the flashbacks shows how far Gray has come and how strong she is. Her bravery is astounding. She stands up to the Russian mob. That takes serious guts.
  • Gray is resourceful, resilient and still manages to find beauty in the world despite all the terrible things she’s been through. Her love of art, the way she blossoms in the sunlight, her thirst for knowledge all suggest a deep inner beauty and big heart. On top of that Gray is fierce. She is always on guard, looking over her shoulder, an expert at disguise and has mean aim. She always hits her target. All Gray wants is to be free, to not have to worry, and live a normal life but she recognizes that that’s not the hand she’s been dealt. I appreciated that Gray was a realist.
  • Thane is adorable. He’s playful, warm, and knows how to invade space in that super sexy crowding way. He’s sarcastic, lovable, and the way he looks at Gray will make you melt into a puddle of lust. 
  • Together, Thane and Gray are a force of nature. Their interactions are made of longing, angst, and naughty thoughts. They’re hot and heavy. The make out scenes are HOT HOT HOT. 
  • Beautiful Collision is told from three perspectives that ultimately amount to two. This was a little confusing. 
  • Some parts were fairly predictable and took away from the suspense. 
  • It took forever for Gray to ask Thane about his mysterious B&E. For someone who is so suspicious and on the run, in mortal peril, she drops her guard for some random guy she met a few days prior because she feels guilty and he makes her hot and bothered? It doesn’t add up. I spent several sections silently fuming and paranoid, wondering when she was going to wise up. When she does get the explanation, that she doesn’t question for some odd reason, she decides to make out with him instead? Bizarre and a break from her character. 
cooltext1844526808 copyChapter 2


Despite the dark glasses, I blink against the sunlight as it stings my skin. But I keep my eyes firmly on my mark. The girl is easy to track. Inexperienced. Naive. Thinks she isn’t being followed. It’s there in the false confidence of the way she walks, the way she holds her shoulders. Maybe it’s because I’m good at my job. Good enough that my target will never know how long I’ve tracked them, or how much time I spent watching them. I’m hoping it’s because I’m better than most at my job. Otherwise the girl is a danger to herself.

I’m standing beneath a tree, amidst the bustle of midday sidewalk traffic, the shadows of the branches and sparse leaves providing meager cover in the baking sun. I’m watching as Sara Roshkov hurries across the busy road toward the entrance to the San Francisco Public Library. I have little idea what she’s come to the library for, which makes me more than curious. I can’t imagine she’d be loaning out a book; not now, when her life is in such turmoil. That leaves the option I don’t like – meeting someone. The thought spurs me to move and I wait only until she’d reaches the top step before I jog across Larkin and enter the building after her. The cool air is a shock against my sweat-covered skin and I’m momentarily blinded going from bright sun to shaded interior. I keep my sunglasses on, habit and protection.

She’s hurrying up the marble stairs and I pause to watch her, pretending to admire the high, glass ceiling of the atrium. I follow her up the stairs and watch her enter General Fiction. My shoes don’t make any sound on the stairs and I know she has no idea she’s being followed. Her hair is short and black today, a wig she’s been using since she arrived in San Francisco. She keeps her neck straight and stiff. Seems she knows not to appear as if she’s looking over her shoulder. I’m not sure what she’s learned from her father but she sure has to learn a lot more about running and hiding so the likes of me won’t find her. I’ve been tracking her for a while now and I feel a pull of something as I watch her. There is a fragile air to her and she’s lost weight, the hollows of her cheeks proof that life on the run doesn’t exactly involve luxuries like three square meals a day. And Sara Roshkov is used to a life of luxury considering the family she belongs to.

I follow, grabbing a book from the bestseller shelf beside me, keeping sufficient distance between us that she’d see nothing suspicious should she turn around. What she would see is a young guy, black jeans, black tee, black sneakers, much like her own dark clothing. The hoodie I’m wearing is equally nondescript, the ball cap plain too. Nothing I wore would stand out in a person’s memory should they spot me. My black hair is short, the style efficient and easy to maintain. Again nothing to remember me by.

She sneaks a look over her shoulder as she enters an aisle up ahead but her eyes graze my face and her gaze seeks further beyond me. I flip through the book and then enter the aisle next to her. She’s facing me and I can watch her through the stacks without her seeing me. She’s already halfway down her row, finger running along the covers as she searches for her book. It feels a little voyeuristic but hell, the full scope of my job is inherently voyeuristic.

I keep my attention on her as her finger stops on one particular book. Her expression is satisfied; she’s found the book she wants but before she takes it off the shelf her eyes cloud, the gray darkening to dark metal; a moment of doubt that shows on her face as if she battles the monsters within. As much as I can read people, their eyes, their body language, it’s what goes on inside their heads that eludes even the best of us. Nobody can train you for that. She straightens her back and then tilts the book toward her. taking it down from the shelf with extra care. She flips to the back of the book and slowly the pieces fall into place.

Someone has left something for her in that particular book. There are a number of possibilities but it’s clear that someone is helping her. Is it someone within her family? Roshkov had always kept his personal life totally private. Not that our surveillance hadn’t picked up on his many mistresses or his other extracurricular activities. The man was involved in everything from human trafficking to drug-running. No wonder his wife, having left for St. Petersburg a year ago, is still to return. Something is rotten in the Roshkov paradise perhaps?

Now, as I study his daughter I wonder if her mother is the wife in Russia or is she the offspring of one of Roshkov many affairs? There is too much we still need to know about Sara and perhaps we will get our break soon. One thing I do know is that she has a heart, that there is a goodness in her. There is no way for me to tell what the book hides and any attempt to find out will likely jeopardize the mission. I could pass her by and steal the book from her without her even realizing it happened. But that won’t help the case. She has what she wants, so now she heads out, and her shoulders relax a little. She thinks the coast is clear. I allow her that misconception.

I hang back as she leaves the library, keeping my distance as she exits the building and heads back into the sunshine. I’m her shadow as she hurries to a fast food joint where she buys a couple burgers and then keeps moving. I follow, my awareness turned on to full blast. She heads further west, into the Tenderloin area of San Francisco. It didn’t surprise me that she’d chosen one of the most dangerous parts of the city to hide out in. What does surprise me is that she’s had the guts to stay there this long, hiding among the homeless and the drug dealers. People get killed every night in this area and so far she’s survived. If anything she is resourceful.

I’ve watched the building in which she’d found a place to sleep, cased the place once when she’d left for a soup kitchen a few blocks away. Other than that, I just watch and report back on her activities. Despite my impatience that we were too slow in getting info, despite my need for us to reacher the next level of this investigation in which we take Roshkov down, despite all my personal feeling I must remain clearheaded, keep my head in the game. Now I watch her enter the deserted building as I lean against a light pole and pretend to light a cigarette. I hear the buzz in my earwig that indicates someone is being patched through.

“Eagle, come in, over.” I press the button on the comms.

“Eagle here, over.”

My eyes don’t move from the mark. “This is HQ, do you have a situation report, over.”

“All quiet here, over.”

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I have been a writer from the time I was old enough to recognize that reading was a doorway into my imagination. Poetry was my first foray into the art of the written word. Books were my best friends, my escape, my haven. I am essentially a recluse but this part of my personality is impossible to practice given I have two teenage daughters, who are actually my friends, my tea-makers, my confidantes… I am blessed with a husband who has left me for golf. It’s a fair trade as I have left him for writing. We are both passionate supporters of each others loves – it works wonderfully… My heart is currently broken in two. One half resides in South Africa where my old roots still remain, and my heart still longs for the endless beaches and the smell of moist soil after a summer downpour. My love for Ma Afrika will never fade. The other half of me has been transplanted to the Land of the Long White Cloud. The land of the Taniwha, beautiful Maraes, and volcanoes. The land of green, pure beauty that truly inspires. And because I am so torn between these two lands – I shall forever remain cross-eyed.

I love talking to my readers so email me if you have any questions or even if you just want to chat…
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