pexel present christmas hot chocolate pine cones

Favourite Christmas Traditions

I adore the magic of Christmas. The twinkling lights, the scent of pine needles and mulled wine. The opportunity to embrace all that I’m grateful for. Let me shine a light on some of the things that bring this wonderful season to life.

Snow Snowmen Christmas

I love the idea of snow. To wrap up in thermal socks, gloves and a woollen scarf. Then head out with my children for a snow fight or to build a snowman. IF it snows, it rarely settles in my coastal town due to the salty air. Plus the reality is very different from the rosy nostalgia of my childhood. The wind bites my cheeks and my toes turn painfully cold. With soggy mittens I head back indoors, proving that my first favourite tradition is and always will be my home.

My second favourite tradition is family and friends. This year’s a stepping stone into a new era. It’s the twentieth Christmas without my mum. Since she passed away I’ve tried to provide an inviting, homely Christmas for my brother and sister. Along with the addition of my husband, two children and a lazy beagle. Recently I’ve severed relations with my toxic father, though he’s never had a roll in my festive cellebrations, the choice still lay heavy on my heart. Until I realised that I have always been the support system in my family. Nothing has changed. Except for the growth of self-respect and a new found empowerment that I had not expected to feel. I’m grateful for my family, the ones who love and respect each other. Whether blood related or not, they are the ones I bind my faith, and love in.

pexels-candy cane-hot chocolate

Finally my Christmas tree decorations. Not the process of dressing the bloody thing. That is a stressful event, fraught with nit picking and despair – that’s me – my kids insist on dressing the tree. Which is fine, I just rearrange the babbles when no one’s watching. My favourite tradition is the decorations themselves. It started after the birth of my daughter; I purchased a white rocking horse with babies first Christmas written across the flank. The collection has grown to include a Disney Stich wearing a Santa suit, a second rocking horse after the birth of my son, inherited glass Christmas trees from my nan, a selection of stars, reindeer and candy canes chosen by my children as they grew. I admit that I hide the garish green and red star at the back of the tree. Yet each one has a happy family memory, proving that negative family patterns can be changed. My safe, healthy family is proof of a better life.

Author Lorraine Ambers YA fantasy romance

I wish you all a very merry Christmas, full of magical memories, filled with laughter and love. Thanks for reading and don’t forget to share your favourite traditions with me.

© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2016.
Harry Potter books

Hogwarts, Harry and Hagrid

 

Guess where I’m going??? Universal studios and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter!!!

treasures and teacups harry potter
Harry Potter theme tea party by Treasures and Teacups

Orlando is my ultimate dream holiday. This trip coincides with my two year wedding anniversary. (Making a grand total of sixteen years together.) I love the romance of Disney and the architecture is amazing. (I studied interior design.) Hubby and my son are excited about the rides. And my daughter has plans on stalking the princesses for signatures. (I knew the magic of Disney would crack that surly teenage attitude.)

We’re jetting off to America for the trip of a life time. I’m most excited about the Harry Potter World. Eek! The palpitations will be worth it. (That’s what I keep telling myself, panic attacks are no joke.)

My love for all things Harry Potter stemmed from the films. My husband gifted me the complete set of J.K Rowling’s novels. They’ve sat in a pretty pink box under my bed for years. I didn’t want J.K’s writing style to influence my own, so I purposefully left them until my first novel was complete.

I admire J.K’s colourful characters and effortless imagination. Dumbledore, Hagrid and Ron’s dialogue are completely different. In truth, I wish I’d read them sooner. I would have paid closer attention to my own characters. It took me a long time to develop my antagonist’s voice. I found protagonists and the minor characters easier because they had more bite and veracity.

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook be prepared for a ridiculous amount of themed photos.

Author Lorraine Ambers YA fantasy romance

© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2016.
The Magicians by Lev Grossman Review Fantasy Author

Review – The Magicians by Lev Grossman

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

Blurb.

The Magicians by Lev Grossman NA Fantasy Review Author Lorraine AmbersIn a secret world of forbidden knowledge, power comes at a terrible price …

Quentin Coldwater’s life is changed forever by an apparently chance encounter: when he turns up for his entrance interview to Princeton he finds his interviewer dead – but a strange envelope bearing Quentin’s name leads him down a very different path to any he’d ever imagined.

The envelope, and the mysterious manuscript it contains, leads to a secret world of obsession and privilege, a world of freedom and power and, for a while, it’s a world that seems to answer all Quentin’s desires. But the idyll cannot last – and when it’s finally shattered, Quentin is drawn into something darker and far more dangerous than anything he could ever have expected …

YA fantasy romance Author Lorraine Ambers review

I award this novel 5 stars.

Review

Quinten is a mathematical genius. Though he’s the top of his class, Quinten feels as if he doesnt quite belong, that perhaps he was meant for something else. (A feeling I’m familiar with.) Brakebells reveals a life that he was born to be part of but inserts him in with other students of equal or better talents.

Not only is the story set in an urban fantasy setting but the novel also makes way for the introduction to Fillory. A world thought to be only an adaptation of an author which later turns out to actually exist.

The magicians have a magic system with clear consequences for miss use and a unique way of performing the spells by using finger signals. I loved the distinctive performance of casting magic.

The plot drives a suspenseful and engaging momentum. Lev Grossman writes a dark and addictive fantasy, with entertaining and inspirational descriptions. A smart and gripping view of complex relationships. Whilst delving into the experiences of new adulthood. With amusing pop culture references, that bring well-developed characters to life.

The young adults experiment with the excitements of magic and life, giving into impulses and the fallout from their consequences.

The Magicians is the first in a trilogy and has been made into a successful TV series. I highly recommend binging on both.

Author Lorraine Ambers Web-Banner YA fantasy book review romance

© Author Lorraine Ambers & http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2016

 

elfine_2_by_lamuserie-Fantasy-Writer-Lorraine-Ambers

Excerpt Knights of Shadows and Lies

My debut novel has been in submission since spring time. It’s still early days. So while I fly through the first draft of Empress of Mischief and Mayhem, here’s a little teaser of the first book in my Shadow Knight Series. Enjoy!   

With a desperate urge to be far away from Aeverlon, Sander pulled Alysia into his arms, wishing her closeness would dampen the rising turmoil. Instead desire swirled with dread, a lethal conncoction that fired through his veins.

‘Hold on,’ he said in a gruff tone that he didn’t recognise.

He cursed his wicked wants as they sunk their claws into his blood. Alysia’s eyes mirrored his own carnal inclinations. She nibbled on her plump lower lip. He wasn’t thinking clearly. Maybe he needed to cool off before facing Theo. Get some distance between him and Alysia before he misunderstood the signs, again. His fingers clenched her hips with more force than he intended, as frustration welled up, adding pressure to the intoxicating moment.

valkyrie_3_by_lamuserie-Fantasy-Writer-Lorraine-Ambers
Artwork attributed to LaMuserie http://www.lamuserie.net

He flashed them, catching remnants of her gasp as they exited the realm and entered the outskirts of the Vale.

Sander released her and crouched down behind a boulder. He pretended to keep a watch over the rugged, barren landscape. ‘Get down, we can’t be seen here.’ He ordered.

Thick tension crackled between them. It wasn’t her fault and yet a lifetime of rejection bubbled under his skin. The ground crunched and settled, signalling Alysia had obeyed his order. The silence stretched on, becoming an obstacle to overcome. Sander blew his hair from his eyes and glanced at Alysia. Her back rested against the rock with her chin resting upon her knees.

Fae-by_lamuserie-Fantasy-Writer-Lorraine-Ambers
Artwork attributed to LaMuserie

He knew he was acting like an idiot. There were too many variables and reasons behind his behaviour. The lies and confusion pooled into an insurmountable mass. Sander twisted and dropped beside her, stretching his legs out over the patchy terrain.

‘What was Theo like before?’ Alysia asked.

Sander offered her a puzzled expression.

She waved her hand theatrically. ‘Before all this mess and destruction?’

‘Different but the same—it’s hard to explain.’ He picked a stone up and began rubbing it between his thumb and fore finger.

‘We have the time.’

It crossed his mind that time was the last thing they had. He’d forgotten what it was like to be understood by someone better than you knew yourself. He’d forgotten that it was more than a physical, chemical reaction with her. His soul felt whole. The festering chasm in the centre of his rib cage eased off and closed. She was giving him the chance to breathe. To calm down and gain control. So, he took it.

A massive thank you to Antoine R for allowing me to use their visual masterpieces. If you’re a fan of fantasy artwork check their pages out. 🙂

All the artwork is copyrighted to digital artist LaMuserie

www.facebook.com/Lamuserienet/

Antoine R – Artist| Digital Art www.lamuserie.net

Author Lorraine Ambers Web-Banner YA fantasy book review romance

© Author Lorraine Ambers & http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2016

 

The Iron Queen Iron Fey series Julie Kagawa Lorraine Ambers review YA fantasy romance

#Review The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa

 

The Iron Queen (The Iron Fey Book 3) by Julie Kagawa

Book Blurb

The Iron Queen Julie Kagawa book reviewIn less than twenty-four hours I’ll be seventeen. Although, technically, I won’t actually be turning seventeen. I’ve been in the Nevernever too long.

When you’re in Faery, you don’t age. So while a year has passed in the real world, agewise I’m probably only a few days older than when I went in. In real life, I’ve changed so much I don’t even recognize myself. MY NAME IS MEGHAN CHASE. I thought it was over. That my time with the fey, the impossible choices I had to make, the sacrifices of those I loved, was behind me. But a storm is approaching, an army of Iron fey that will drag me back, kicking and screaming. Drag me away from the banished prince who’s sworn to stand by my side. Drag me into the core of conflict so powerful, I’m not sure anyone can survive it.

THIS TIME, THERE WILL BE NO TURNING BACK.

Author Lorraine Ambers YA fantasy romance novel book review

I award The Iron Queen 5 stars

This is book 3 of the Iron Fey and my favourite out of the series. Julie’s stories are similar to my own in regards to the retelling of faery tales. The good pace and immediate action, hold the reader captivated from start to end. Her books echo the epic, fantasy element of my own work, which is what interested me in the first place.

Megan Chase is a great character with a strong internal voice that carries us through the book. In this story she learns to fight, wanting to hold her own in battle and not rely on the strength of Ash or her best friend Puck. She also needs to master her powers that are a contradiction to each other, the power of the iron and summer.

What I loved: The banter between Ash and Puck, it kept the obvious rivalry for Megan interesting and not at all tedious. In this novel, Ash and Megan’s relationship is beautifully interwoven into the story. It was the perfect blend of romance in an epic tale. Ash is silent and lethal yet his affection for Megan is genuine. I swooned over this male. Oh my!!

The worlds have an Alice in Wonderland feel. In particular the Trods and Grimalkin, who reminded me of the Cheshire Cat. Grim has realistic animal mannerisms. He exudes the aloof, smugness of a cat. Coming and going as he pleases. (Just like my Jaspurr.)

I loved the unusual and unique realms; they were beautiful and richly described. The premise of the Iron fey is original and a great concept in relation to the whimsical more traditional faery. in myth the fey are afraid of iron, Julie created a world where the iron Fey were born from the growing use of machines. Gremlins and bugs clash with the winter and summer courts, all lurking behind our world, disguised by glamour.

What I disliked: This book is too similar to book 1, The Iron King. The plot and battle are virtually identical down to the settings. Although, I think The Iron Queen is intricate and alluring. The final battle scene was melodramatic and boring. I must admit, I skipped forward a paragraph or two until the event was over.

With that being said, I actually started with book 3 and bought the whole series. That’s how invested I was in the characters and their journey. I was dying to know how Megan and Ash met and what will happen to them. I haven’t read The Iron Knight yet… So many books, so little time.

A fantastic read for fans of faery fantasy that is firmly rooted in the realm of believability. With great characters and spectacular realms full of magic and wonder. It’s not at all like the Disney Tinkerbell movies. Yes, I’ve watched them all (with my kids).

 

Author Lorraine Ambers Web-Banner YA fantasy book review romance

© Author Lorraine Ambers & http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2016.
dragon fairy flower magic fantasy

Why I Love Fantasy, Magic and Romance

I write about everything and anything that’s influenced me with the same tenacity as a child’s ability to see and believe in the impossible. My novels are in the guise of fantasy because it’s a world far removed from the mundane, ordinary and boring. Rich in the tapestry of life’s experiences, steeped in mystery and wonder.

I moved often as a child. My father was a soldier, so we were reposted every couple of years. I’d always find the local tadpole pond, the best den building spots or creepy forests, where witches lived and the number 3 was a bad omen. In that regards I had an idealistic childhood, out from (I’m not a vampire, honest) dawn till dusk. The outdoors was a safe haven, a magical realm where my imagination was the only limit.

Art, pink, birds

My love of fairy-tales came from my mum. She would point at acorn shells and say that they were faerie cups. Show me an autumn forest floor and declare that the pixies must have had a party before we came. Seed-shells would become hats or shoes and flowers would be their clothes. She decorated my room in faerie ornaments and artwork. She allowed me to choose my own path in life.

As I grew older, moving so often ground me down.  My father took a redundancy from the army but the uncertainty increased. We moved four times in that year. It stripped my self-esteem and left me unable or unwilling to leave the house. I faked illnesses or struggled with migraines. My world had become a nightmare, so I clung to my daydreams.

 

 

fairy book girl fantasy
photo credit: Rachel.Adams Once Upon a Time via photopin (license)

My parents separated (again) and we moved to Wales. A place I could call home. Mums roots run deep in these parts and I knew I’d have a window of opportunity to make friends through my family ties.

I discovered the joys of reading. My cousin lent me her point horror and thriller books, which I devoured. The romances were tantalising and yet unsatisfactory. Their tales of first love seemed to skirt the deeper connections I searched for. They never explored the seduction of heart that I’d envisaged in my reveries.

A world of fantasy was one I’d retreat to in my mind. I guess it was my salvation. If magic and romance existed, perhaps my own existence could be tolerated.

Isn’t that why we read? Too escape and explore the unknown.

My perspective has changed since my depressed, teenage years. I do see magic; it exists in the beauty of life that’s taken for granted. We forget about what’s right in front of us. Until that magical moment when our fleeting joy bubbles up, reminding us of our fortunes.

For some, making dreams a reality is nothing more than fantasy. But I believe in that too. We have the power to change our future and become who we truly desire to be.

And of course, romance and love. Not the destructive, selfish type my parents taught me. The gentle, considerate kind of love that burns slow and steady for eternity.

Thanks for reading. What’s your favourite genre and why? You know I love hearing from you.

photo credit: Rachel.Adams <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/40988970@N05/21506365601″>Once Upon a Time</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;