Category Archives: Authors

Reviews – Why they mean so much to Authors and Artists

Review: to think again. It’s about considering, assessing, and to offer an opinion, and how many of us love offering an opinion? Social media is all about reviews… we’re posting about our lives, reviewing what we’ve done, where we’ve been, and sharing our thoughts about it. These days, reviewing is just another part of our life.

Reviews - Why they mean so much to Authors and Artists - The Last Krystallos

So, since we’re doing it all the time, how about taking a few minutes – the time to write a status update – to offer a review to those who need them?

It’s my birthday week this week and when I’m asked “What would you like?” – right now, I’d just love a review.

Not a review of me, I think I’m open enough for everyone to know who I am, and I don’t need a rate! I’d love a book review or an Amaranth Alchemy Etsy review.

If you love and buy books, art, and jewellery you will appreciate the time, energy,
love, and passion that goes into writing a book or creating something magical.
This is how you can pay it back and forward…

small advertising photos of the Surviving Hope novels by Lisa Shambrook

The Suviving Hope Novels © Lisa Shambrook

Add to that list angst, frustration, low financial reward, and you’ve got what it means to be an author or an artist. There’s plenty of love and passion, days of writing and sculpting, or painting and crafting, with your muse whispering in your ear and the true wonder of watching a story, an adventure, unfold, or creating an item of beauty beneath your fingertips, but there are days and weeks when your muse goes AWOL, when your fingers bleed (figuratively), and you hate everything you write or create. Novel writing and art is not easy, but it is extremely rewarding.

You will have heard how writers and artists don’t have a choice in their craft, it’s intrinsic, it’s a part of us and we have to do it. Escaping into a world of writing or of intricate design is just what we do to survive. The wonder of it is that we end up with something beautiful and we can’t wait to share it with the world. Whether it’s a novel, or a painting, or sculpted silver, glass, or a piece of jewellery to treasure, we want to share our skills and talents with you.

Time is money, it’s a necessary evil, and we can’t give our talents away for free. Most eBooks are the price of a coffee and they last… your coffee is satisfying and gone within half an hour, but a book can satisfy for years for the same price. Books are significantly cheaper than video games, and comparable with your monthly payment to Netflix or Prime – create a literary library as well as a streaming library.

Review books - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Most authors and artists are introverts, we love hiding away writing and creating, but we also know that to sell our wares we need to market them. Marketing doesn’t come naturally to those of us who prefer to squirrel ourselves away and just create. Our publishers help, but many authors are independent – doing it all on their own – artists too, and we need help to promote our work. Even with a publisher, unless you are one of the very few who have huge Big Five Publisher budgets and promotion, you’ll be doing most of it yourself.

We can shout from the rooftops about our books and art, but visibility is key. If our work isn’t visible, no one knows it’s out there. Reviews on Amazon, Good Reads, Etsy, Ebay, and Blogs, or Facebook and Twitter statuses, photos on Instagram – they all help and offer visibility. The more reviews we garner on Amazon, for instance, will change algorithms and our books will be promoted more. You don’t have to like Amazon, but we have to deal with them, so any help is appreciated – more than you could ever know. On Etsy and other craft sites it’s important to share and help others decide if our products are worth purchasing.

advertising photos of A Symphony of Dragons and Human 76 books by Lisa Shambrook

A Symphony of Dragons and Human 76 © Lisa Shambrook

This is where YOU come in. If you buy our book, and read it, and you love it – or you buy our art, and display it and love it every day – or you buy and wear our jewellery, then the best way you can thank us for those days, months, or years of hard work is to write a review. Let the world know that the book or art is out there, that you loved it, and why you loved it.

You don’t have to write much, literally, just a sentence or two is worth everything to an author. Just award your stars and say what you loved. That works. Or you can write a paragraph or an essay, it’s up to you!

Amaranth Alchemy products

Amaranth Alchemy on Etsy © Lisa Shambrook

Over the last few years I’ve bought lots of glass beads and jewellery from Etsy and Ebay, the reviews I leave help those artisans to continue and to sell more. I tend to leave photos of pieces so other prospective customers can see them in a different setting too. I also have an Etsy shop Amaranth Alchemy and I know just how important reviews are to new customers.

Books I've read and reviewed: The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss, Of Lies and Zombies by Angela Lynn, Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall, Ghostbird by Carol Lovekin, The Raven's Wing by Michael Wombat, Dead Sea Games by J Whitworth Hazzard, The Reaper's Bride by A J Richmond

Books I’ve read and reviewed: The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss, Of Lies and Zombies by Angela Lynn, Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall, Ghostbird by Carol Lovekin, The Raven’s Wing by Michael Wombat, Dead Sea Games by J Whitworth Hazzard, The Reaper’s Bride by A J Richmond © Lisa Shambrook

I have read a lovely selection of books and part of my reading process is to leave a review for the authors on the platforms used to sell. I have written blog posts celebrating wonderful books and stories and I am so glad that I can help promote wonderful people sharing their amazing talents.

So, like I said, it’s my birthday week, and all I want is a review…

I know my book sales figures, but the number of reviews I have pales in comparison to the sales. Of course, not everyone who’s bought my books will have read them – I have hundreds of books at home and it’ll take years to read them all, but if you’ve bought and read one of mine, then a sentence shared on Amazon or Good Reads is a gift for me that I will appreciate forever!

Reviews and why they are impostant to Authors and Artists - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Support those who create the art that allows you to escape into adventures
and other worlds, and those who give you beauty to enrich your lives.

Take a moment, just ten minutes, to leave a review for a struggling author or artist
– it will mean the world to them.

The Raven’s Wing by Michael Wombat – Enchanted and seduced…

Sometimes a book comes along that both entrances and seduces you,
and I was mesmerised by
Michael Wombat’s The Raven’s Wing.

The Raven’s Wing - Michael Wombat - Enchanted and Seduced Mediaeval Mystery and Magic - The Last Krystallos

I’ve said it before, I don’t often blog about books, I love reviewing them, but every now and then I’ll be so blown away they have to feature on my blog, like Ghostbird by Carol Lovekin, The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss, and Nobody Told Me: Love in the Time of Dementia by S. R. Karfelt. I’m a sucker for a book that draws me in with fantasy and quirky magic.

I’ve read several books by this author before, and always loved them. He has a knack for portraying truth and using description to weave you right into the story. We also collaborated, a couple of years ago, on Human 76, where Michael Wombat was a vital part of collating and helping to create a very original collection of stories.

The Raven's Wing by Michael Wombat extra photos by © Lisa Shambrook

The Raven’s Wing by Michael Wombat extra photos by © Lisa Shambrook

The Raven’s Wing is a labour of love and the resulting book is an incredibly authentic mediaeval novel with a hint of truth and chronicle behind it. Read the blurb:

They say you should follow your dreams. They never tell you what to do when the dreams start following you.
The year is 1322. Minstrel John has enough on his plate with his wife’s funeral. He could do without the naked woman who keeps forcing her way into his dreams, the angel dropping skulls in the village church, the stranger that attacks him for no reason, and the sexy, one-eyed, fire-dancer who is after only one thing – his music. Then there are the voices in his head, compelling him to investigate a mystery that just keeps on growing.
Based on a true story, this is not history, this is the 14th century as experienced by those who lived there, and who saw it as the leading edge of time. As John discovers, demons and magic can be very real.

white and dark feathers by the last krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

The story begins with an intensely erotic dream, if you know Wombat’s writing you’ll know nothing daunts him, down-to-earth honest, bawdy realism and coarse language intertwine with sheer beauty and descriptions that will whisk you away to another time. After this you are introduced to John, a simple minstrel, and his friends as they deal with the loss of John’s wife. It could be an unassuming tale, but John’s life takes a turn that will change him forever as a mysterious skull is found at the funeral.

You will be drawn into his life and the mystery that shrouds him. You’ll love his friends and you’ll cheer John on as he humbly searches for answers. Wombat will take you on a tour of mediaeval Britain complete with myth and magic, and you’ll be left wanting more.

Print of Winter's Raven painting by Amanda Makepeace

Print of Winter’s Raven painting by Amanda Makepeace

Now, think about the 14th century and imagine you want to write something that truly reflected the period… I asked Michael Wombat about how much research went into The Raven’s Wing:

‘Since I first heard Steeleye Span’s ‘John of Ditchford’ 20 years ago I’ve thought it’d make a good root for a story. When I finally got round to building a proper tale around it, it took 6 years to research and weave a satisfyingly deep story around what was in real life a thuggish murder. I made sure to keep copious research notes (thank you Scrivener!), and included the most interesting things I discovered in the Notes at the back of the book.’

The back of the book Notes are a real treat. Knitting realistic 14th century dialogue, words, places, and much more into a modern-day written story isn’t easy, though Wombat has done it so well; the tale is both fluid and beautiful to read. Chapter-by-chapter Wombat analyses and explains his terms and wordage to both educate and fascinate you.

Six years of research must have brought up intriguing facts and stories, so what was his favourite?

‘The most fascinating part of the research for me was the songs I discovered. Songs of love, lust and weird stuff aplenty. And of course the medieval recipes.’

A friend of mine, Miranda, recently made Pentecost’s waffres, and said they were delicious!

I said earlier, once this tale is done, you’ll be left wanting more. Michael Wombat commented:

‘As for the future, I’m putting together a pocketbook of ‘Raven’s Wing Extras’ – sketches I made while writing the book, behind the scenes stories, character backstories and so on. Beyond that, I kind of left Jenifry and Moss with a massive cliffhanger – one day, maybe, I’ll write their continuing story.’

I definitely want more from this period of time and Wombat’s characters.

Michael Wombat and The Raven's Wing

© Michael Wombat

I am a big fan of Wombat’s writing with many of his books on my Kindle and on my bookshelves, and I look forward to reading more. Wombat is an eclectic writer with a penchant for the extraordinary, and reading his bio will let you know what you’re getting yourself into:

A Yorkshireman living in the rural green hills of Lancashire, Michael Wombat is a man of huge beard. He has a penchant for good single-malts, inept football teams, big daft dogs and the diary of Mr. Samuel Pepys. Abducted by pirates at the age of twelve he quickly rose to captain the feared privateer ‘The Mrs. Nesbitt’ and terrorised the Skull Coast throughout his early twenties. Narrowly escaping the Revenue men by dressing as a burlesque dancer, he went on to work successively and successfully as a burlesque dancer, a forester, a busker, and a magic carpet salesman. The fact that he was once one of that forgotten company, the bus conductors, will immediately tell you that he is as old as the hills in which he lives. Nowadays he spends his time writing and pretending to take good photographs. You can have a good laugh at his pathetic blog or his photographs, but most of all please go and mock him mercilessly on Twitter or Facebook. Michael Wombat has published over one book. Other authors are available.

Please follow him most actively on Twitter, find him on Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, at Cubic Scats and sign up for his Patreon for new and exciting stories.

My last words for The Raven’s Wing – sometimes I get lost in stories because they seduce me, sentences inspire, and the story takes me somewhere completely new. Maybe you’d like to visit the 14th century? Go on give it a try… you won’t be sorry!

The Raven's Wing - Michael Wombat book coverYou can buy The Raven’s Wing

from Amazon in both Kindle and paperback.

It’s seriously worth every penny.

Narberth and Parlour Press Book Fairs

Find your new book and meet the authors – What could be better?

Book Fairs Narberth and Parlour Press

Over the next two Saturdays I’ll be at two different Book Fairs, and not only could you come and see me, but you’ll find a plethora of authors covering every genre you can think of, probably… We’re a lovely bunch and you’ll find some stellar books.

Narberth Book Fair - 22nd September - Queens Hall

Saturday 22nd September will find me at Narberth Book Fair at Queen’s Hall, Narberth. This fair started off in Tenby, founded by Judith Barrow and Thorne Moore, and has found a permanent home in Narberth, a beautiful and friendly Pembrokeshire village. Narberth is rich in history and has a lovely array of shops to find those perfect gifts, so make a day of it.

I’ve brought my books to Narberth Book Fair before and enjoy spending time with my fellow authors. So come along and see us. It’s an ideal time to find a new book, begin your Christmas shopping, or just chat and find out about what we write.

Parlour Press Book Fayre - 29th Sept - Porth Hotel, Llandysul

Saturday 29th September, the following week, and I’ll be at Parlour Press Book Fayre, a brand new fayre at the Porth Hotel in Llandysul. Cheryl Beer set up Parlour Press seventeen years ago and used her seeds of creativity to write her own healing books. The Porth Hotel is overlooking the  River Teifi so you’ll enjoy the view as you peruse our books.

I’ll be sharing a table with Thérésa Hedges-Webb, a friend of mine who’s a screenwriter, playwright, and author. We hope you’ll pop by and take a look at our books. Between us we’ll cover Young Adult, Fantasy, Post-apocalypse, Sci-fi, Vampires and much more!

Narberth and Llandeilo Book Fairs 2017-18

I will have an amazing special offer going on my original paperback versions of The Surviving Hope series then called The Hope Within Novels. You will be able to buy all three novels for just £10 that’s a discount of £9.97 on the RRP. These original covers are no longer available since the books are being rereleased with my new publisher, so it’s an ideal time to buy the whole set as originals, or simply buy the ones you’re missing to make a whole series.

L_Shambrook_The_Hope_Within_Novels

You’ll find no shortage of great books no matter what genre you like.
There’ll be something for everyone.

So, come and see us at these book fairs, and come and talk to me about dragons!
See you there!

Symphony Sale July 2018

Changing Colours and Website Updates

Colour rules our emotions and draw us in,
and the colours we choose to surround ourselves with say a lot about us…

Lisa Shambrook website Dragon Logo with author photo

© Lisa Shambrook

The past few weeks have been all about updating. You’ve seen my new book covers, got the release dates in your diary, and now you can check out my new colour palette online!

Things change – that’s a fact of life. I’ve not always been great at embracing change, but this time is different. My books have got a publisher and a new look, and my website needed a change.

Green Website - Slate Website - thelastkrystallos - lisa shambrook

Old Green Website and New Slate Website © Lisa Shambrook

My favourite colour has always been green right from being a little girl, then it went through a teenage purple phase and back to green. I still love green, don’t get me wrong, but alongside green right now is a new favourite. A colour that’s crept into my wardrobe, flows throughout nature, and adorns the stormy sky.

I love the stormy shade of slate that the ocean rises with, the skies embrace, and it suits me too.

You’ll find the tone in bluebells, stone, water, sky, and gems. It has richness and sophistication that cools and calms, and also precipitates storm and passion.

Green Palette - Slate Palette - thelastkrystallos - lisa shambrook

Old Green Palette and New Slate Palette © Lisa Shambrook

My website looked lovely in warm olive greens, but it feels like it’s grown up a little with the enchanting tone of slate blue-grey.

It carries a hint of lilac, blue, and even the warmth of olive, but stands alone in a new clean and fresh take.

It’s dusk before the indigo night and a star-spilled sky, and it’s an emerging dawn full of hope and light.

It’s a hue that conveys emotion and imagination, and fits me well – and that’s all I could ask for.

The Surviving Hope Novels by Lisa Shambrook - Coming Soon 2018

What colours have you used online, and why?

What colours talk to you?

Lose Yourself with Ghostbird, Blodeuwedd, Myth and Magic…

Sometimes a book resonates with an emotional response you didn’t expect,
but it draws you in and you fall in love – Carol Lovekin’s Ghostbird does just that.

Lose Yourself with Ghostbird, Blodeuwedd, Myth and Magic... - The Last Krystallos

I don’t often blog about books, the last times I did were The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss, and Nobody Told Me: Love in the Time of Dementia by S. R. Karfelt and I have to be enchanted or moved before it hits these pages. My reading genres are eclectic, I like a bit of everything, but I fall heavily for beautifully written fantasy, a little romance, and quirky magic.

I was browsing my books and read the caption on the reverse of Ghostbird from Rebecca Mascull who said ‘Carol Lovekin’s prose is full of beautifully strange poetry.’ and I began reading.

This is the tale of Cadi, who doesn’t know who she is. She’s never been told anything about her father, she can taste the cloying secrets, and she is determined to uncover and break the spells about her. Her mother, Violet, is distant and lost, and her aunt, Lili, is bound by a promise she desperately wants to break.

The Hopkins women are well known in their little Welsh village, and they are surrounded by a cloak of mystery, flowers, magic, and a little bit of local scandal.

Ghostbird Carol Lovekin - trying out words - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Carol Lovekin’s writing enthralled me, from beginning to end, and I truly did fall in love. She writes with poetic leaning, creating beauty and an enticing story. This is my kind of writing, with description that made me feel like I inhabited Cadi and Lili’s lives. The story has an ethereal quality and this is even more prevalent with the inclusion of the ghostbird of the title. This book unravels the secrets regarding the Hopkins women with a little myth and magic along the way.

The story of Blodeuwedd, from the Mabinogion, is referenced throughout, something I loved having studied the Four Branches of the Mabinogion with my daughter last year. This meant I was already up to speed with Blodeuwedd’s tragic story.

Cait's Blodeuwedd Owl mask - The Last Krystallos

Cait’s Blodeuwedd Owl mask © Lisa Shambrook

I asked Ghostbird’s author, Carol, about including the story of Blodeuwedd and how it had inspired her:

‘The idea for Ghostbird was a slow burner. I read the myth of Blodeuwedd (from the Mabinogion) in the early 80s and was immediately struck by the notion that her fate: to be turned into a bird, was a curse. As an owl, Blodeuwedd could surely find her freedom by flying away? It was yet another woman’s story begging to be retold from her perspective. So many legends and myths are of their time (and written by men) and by definition, patriarchal.

The idea stayed with me until, years later it re-emerged as the backstory to Ghostbird. At first I planned for the ghost’s voice to be incidental, albeit relevant. It was my astute editor who insisted, the ghost had to play a more prominent role. It was a joy to take the bones of the myth and turn it into the soundtrack to my modern ghost story. And in the process, to discover, that’s what I write: ghost stories!’

When I first read Blodeuwedd’s story I’d come to a very similar conclusion – despite the fact that being turned into an owl was essentially a punishment, it seemed to me to be a poor punishment, as it meant she finally had freedom. She’d been created without thought to who she was, and made for someone else’s pleasure, and rebelling against that had caused retribution, but to me she was given freedom and final liberty.

The use of myth and legend within fiction is something that inspires me. My current work is based on a myth, but a legend of my own writing. I resonated with Carol’s words about most old fairytales and myths having been written by men with suffering women within the stories, so writing my own legend, which you can find in A Symphony of Dragons, meant creating a woman resilient enough to carry the myth on her own. The resulting legend, threads through The Seren Stone Chronicles which I am currently enjoying writing.

Ghostbird - Carol Lovekin - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

I loved Ghostbird, because Cadi’s story echoed similar themes I’d explored in my own books. Beneath the Rainbow and Beneath the Distant Star both dealt with grief and loss, and mother daughter relationships, and Beneath the Old Oak spoke of family secrets. Ghostbird moved in different circles, with beauty, grace, and fierce women determined to protect and discover who they are. This is a book that will stay with me, for its magic, emotion, and tender charm.

Carol Lovekin is published by Honno a Welsh Women’s Press committed to giving opportunities for talented women in Wales to see their work in print. Carol’s stories reflect her love of the landscape and mythology of Wales. She is a committed feminist and has always found fiction the perfect vehicle for telling women’s collective stories. She began writing with a view to publication in her late fifties, having ‘suffered from arrested development for far too long.’ She now writes to keep up.

Ghostbird is her debut novel and Snow Sisters is her second book.  

Ghostbird Carol Lovekin - old magic will hear - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

My parting words for Ghostbird are that so often I read sentences that just spoke to me, that described my own feelings, my own experiences, and it’s not often that an author can climb inside your head and touch you. This book touched my heart, the vulnerable bits and the happy bits.

Ghostbird - Carol Lovekin - Honno Press
You can buy:
Ghostbird by Carol Lovekin from Honno
from your local bookstores,
on Amazon UK Kindle, and Paperback.

Please visit her blog for further information and links.

My 2017 Reading Year – Books to Escape With…

2017 was a tough year. I’ve had a couple of years where it has been difficult to pick up a book and just enjoy reading, for several reasons, not least caring for elderly parents and running my family. I read 10 books in 2016, and set myself a goal of 12 for 2017.

My 2017 Reading Year – Books to Escape With - The Last Krystallos

But a serious bout of depression and work on my own book got in the way of time to read, so I only managed 7 in 2017. Still, 7 is better than zero, and I loved the books, so I’m sharing my reading year with you.

1. Quest of the Dreamwalker - Stacy BennettStacy Bennett’s Quest of the Dreamwalker absolutely enthralled me, an evocative fantasy and the first book in the Corthan Legacy series. I usually know straight away if a book is going to fit with me, and from the first paragraph I knew this one would fit like a glove. Stacy Bennett’s writing enchanted me right from the start with beautiful and lyrical description that let me slip into Cara’s world. The writing is captivating, gorgeous prose, and words that weave – dreamlike – through your imagination. (Read more of my review…)

This book was a beautiful way to start a difficult year. I needed to be able to escape this world, and Cara’s world did just that. I’ve been a fan of Stacy Bennett’s writing for a long time, and I couldn’t wait for more in her series.

2. Darkly Wood - Max PowerThe second book I read was Darkly Wood by Max Power. I don’t usually go for horror, but this was the most gorgeous prose and a tantalising story.  This book is beautifully and lyrically written, if you love prose and poetic writing this book is definitely for you. At first I worried I would be turned off by the length and intricacy of Power’s text, but it enthralled me, gave amazing visuals, and kept me enchanted by the individual stories as well as Daisy May’s narrative. Several times I thought I knew where the book was going, but each time a new twist took me in a new direction, just like Darkly Wood does itself…
This is a long book, with a lot of exposition, but the beauty of its expression and constant twists and turns kept me captivated, and as soon as I’d finished Darkly Wood I bought its follow up and began reading on. I didn’t want this tale to stop and was quite happy lost in its dark malevolence.
(Read more of my review…)

3. Darkly Wood II - Max PowerThe horror in this book crept into me, just as its protagonists crept, or meandered, or hurried into the titular wood. Like I said I began the second book as soon as I’d finished the first, so my next book was: Darkly Wood II: The woman who never wore shoes and Max Power intrigued me all over again!

This book, Darkly Wood II, continues Daisy May’s story, and like the titular wood’s dark magic you will be lured into the web and you’ll find yourself quite captive.
Daisy May finds herself drawn back to Darkly Wood, and with years of research and memories behind her it’s not something she relishes. She’s haunted and damaged by her past, but when called upon she knows she must face its evil once again. (Read more of my review…)

My escape was paramount this year and these books were filling the void.

4. 101 Questions for Humanity - J Edward NeillIn August we went on a family holiday a real trek over 600 miles away to the north coast of Scotland. It was another effort to escape and I did and I loved it! While in the car we opened J Edward Neill’s book 101 Questions for Humanity: Coffee Table Philosophy and delved into its philosophical questions. We mixed the thought provoking questions with more from his second book 101 Questions for the End of the World: Volume 10 (Coffee Table Philosophy) We loved them and the questions kept us entertained for hours! My children are all adults (almost) and I suppose I thought I knew them – ha! These questions provided some great discussions and responses that I hadn’t expected, amongst many I did.
So you know what to expect these are a couple of the questions put to you: ‘Set aside your belief system. Describe the afterlife as the way you want it to be.’, ‘Aside from food, water, and your home, could you live happily from now until the end without buying a single thing more?’, and ‘What is the worst crime conceivable?’ That’s only three, there are 98 more…
(Read more of my review…)

5. 101 Questions for the End of the World Volume 10 Coffee Table PhilosophyAnd Its companion book ‘101 Questions for Humanity’ was very much a flick through and discuss, this book needed more intense thinking and evaluation, and the questions posed are much longer and more intricate. We thought hard about some of our answers, and this book requires thought about science, the universe, and theories. It was indeed a real philosophical discussion starter. (Read more of my review…)

6. Nobody Told Me - SR KarfeltLater in the year I was able to read a book I had wanted to for a while. My mother died from cancer, pneumonia and Alzheimer’s at the end of 2016, a tough time indeed, and this book was off the reading list for this reason. But as the year progressed I needed to read it. Author S R Karfelt knew what I’d been through and I knew what she’d been through. It was time to read Nobody Told Me: Love in the Time of Dementia.  Alzheimer’s is the thief of time, stealing memories and lives with no compunction at all – my words not the author’s, but we are on the same page. If you have ever experienced Dementia/Alzheimer’s in any way you need to read this book. Author, S. R. Karfelt, has been and is going through it all and eloquently puts her experiences on paper. I adore this book with its raw honesty, the beauty in its characters, and I love the way it skips and wanders through the past and present – just like dementia does. (Read more of my review…) I needed and devoured this book and it made me stronger. If you know anyone dealing with the grief of dementia, point them to this book. That’s all I can say. It is healing.

7. Tales of the Archer - Stacy BennettThe last book I read on 2017 was Tales of the Archer: A Corthan Companion by Stacy Bennett and it took me full circle. A companion book to The Quest of the Dreamwalker which I loved as it intertwined legend and stories amongst its narrative and kept me captivated. Reid has a history that even he isn’t completely sure of, but his gentle heart yearns for love and acceptance. As the Archer of the title, Reid is a well respected member of the Bear Clan and his stories and song weave through not only the narrative, but through the hearts of his clan too. I adore the way the author adds depth through her use of Corthan legend and fable intertwined throughout the story.
The characters are beautifully drawn with empathy and we easily become part of their tale. This is not an action story but a work of the characters and their lives.
(Read more of my review…)

My reading year was beautiful, captured by five novels that weaved through my mind and took me to far away places. I was healed by the books I read last year.

If you’re looking for some great fantasy, take a look at the books mentioned above. Thought-provoking philosophy from J Edward Neill, and healing words to comfort grief then read Nobody Told Me.

I’m very much looking forward to my 2018 reading year… and have challenged myself to the 12 books I wanted to complete this year. We’ll see how I do…

For something different, check out my Hope Within Books and A Symphony of Dragons: I’m a sensory writer and I delve into sensitive subjects that will lift your spirit and steal your heart, and I conjure worlds of fantasy and post-apocalypse which will ignite your imagination.

A Symphony of Dragons, A Winter’s Romance, and Human 76 – Christmas Book Choice

Books are the perfect gift for Christmas
Short stories are ideal because they fit into your life
and you get to discover new authors to thrill you!

Symphony Dragons - Winter's Romance - Human 76 - Lisa Shambrook

Short stories are the perfect way to find new authors, to discover new favourite stories, and to see who you want to read next… No matter which genre you love one of these three books will hit the spot, either for you or for the bookworm in your life.
Three collections of short stories guaranteed to delight you.

Symphony_of_Dragons_Lisa_ShambrookIf you adore dragons and an eclectic choice of stories my latest release: A Symphony of Dragons contains seven stories that are linked through the theme of dragons.

Soar on dragon wings within a collection of fantasy, contemporary, romance, steampunk, and post-apocalyptic tales composed with the gossamer threads of dragon fire.

You’ll find yourself lost amid a lyrical quartet of seasons as you discover the dragons that bring you Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. Read a short steampunk tale of magic and love potions… My sweet, icy romance (also found in A Winter’s Romance and too good to leave out of my own book!). A beautiful conclusion to my Hope Within novels, find out what happened to Freya, Meg, and Jasmine. Witness the passion of dragons as they twist and soar through a glittered sky. My longest story (also found in Cutthroat and Curses) will entrance you with steampunk pirates raiding to save their lives, and the last post-apocalyptic tale will introduce you to The Seren Stone Chronicles and a whole new future…and you will find dragons in every tale.

AD A Symphony of Seasons - A Symphony of Dragons - Lisa Shambrook

You can buy A Symphony of Dragons, featuring my own cover art, in eBook or paperback at most online stores. You can also buy a signed paperback (at a discount price) in my Etsy shop Amaranth Alchemy.

A Winter's Romance BHC PressIf you are looking for romance, this is a beautiful book to cosy up with this winter: A Winter’s Romance by BHC Press. A Winter’s Romance – When winter and romance mix, the elements are anything but predictable…

This book gives you 19 beautiful stories from amazing authors. Tales that will enchant you, and stir you and some that will terrify you. You’ll get dragons, music, and thrillers, history, and laughs. You’ll shiver and tingle and giggle and smile. You’ll get a whole variety of short stories and the one thing I can promise you is that you won’t regret reading them!

A Winter’s Romance features authors: J.S.Bailey, LaDonna Cole, Drea Damara, Sara Daniell, Natalie Gibson, Bibi Hamblin, C.R.Hiatt, Kaite Jennings, S.R.Karfelt, D.M.Kilgore, Alice Lakewood, Elise Manion, Emmie Mears, Melissa Hladik Meyer, Tom Mohan, Patricia Paris, Lisa Shambrook, Hannah Steenbock and A.D.Trosper.

My own tale Between Ice and Fire is a captivating chance meeting on an icy winter’s morning – and you’ll want to know what sends shivers down Laine’s spine…You can find

AD Between Ice and Fire -Lisa Shambrook - A Winter's Romance AD

A Winter’s Romance in a gorgeous Paperback and Kindle on Amazon. And find it at all online stores at BHC Press.

Human 76 - Lisa Shambrook - Michael WombatAnd if you prefer adventure, the brilliant post-apocalyptic thriller: Human 76 put together by myself and Michael Wombat is perfect.

Human 76 – An unprecedented set of stories set in the fragments of a fractured world…

You can read about how this collaboration came to be in two of my blog posts: Human 76 – Ghabrie is on her way… and Human 76 Release as this is a project very close to my heart having been inspired by a photograph of my own daughter on our family post-apocalyptic photoshoot!

15 stories from 14 authors written without knowing how they would intertwine. Ghabrie loses her little sister in a raid and sets out to find her. On her journey she discovers eclectic communities, enemies and allies. Ghabrie and her search is the theme that threads through the book, but what you get is a gorgeous vignette of many lives, some struggling and some prospering, in the Post-Blast world.
What leads them to Ghabrie? How do they meet her? Does she affect them? How do their stories impact hers? You’ll have to read them to find out.

Human 76 features authors: Lisa Shambrook, Michael Wombat, Alex Brightsmith, Denise Callaway, KJ Collard, Alison DeLuca, Michelle Fox, Rebecca Fyfe, Jeff Hollar, Nick Johns, MS Manz, Julia Rios, KR Smith and Steven Paul Watson.

My own tales Leaving the Nest and We Make the Future open and close the book and you’ll need to read it to discover how all the tales entwine in the most amazing way…

AD Ghabrie Intro Human 76 - Lisa Shambrook

Human 76 is available in Paperback and Kindle on Amazon UK and Amazon US and your own Amazon store, and in Paperback and Download on Lulu. All proceeds from this book go to Water is Life (a global charity that provides clean drinking water, sanitation and hygiene education programs to schools and villages in desperate need worldwide.)

Seriously, you cannot go wrong with any of these book, so, order a paperback and slip it into a loved one’s Christmas gifts, let them discover a great read in their Santa Stocking, preload a Kindle, or buy it and give yourself a well-deserved treat!

Surviving Hope 2018 with border

You can also pick up my Surviving Hope novels… available on Amazon and online bookstores. Beneath the Rainbow, Beneath the Old Oak, and Beneath the Distant Star are books that will lift your spirit and steal your heart. All three are available as signed paperbacks at a discount in my Etsy shop Amaranth Alchemy.

So, find your Christmas books, your gifts, and your next read, and enjoy!

 

 

 

Narberth Book Fair 2017 – Come and Find Your New Book

Saturday 23rd September 2017 come to the Narberth Book Fair
and find inspiration, authors, and books – lots and lots of books!

Book Fair Special Offer Lisa Shambrook

© Lisa Shambrook

Narberth Book Fair 2017I will be part of this lovely Book Fair, which began some years ago as part of the Tenby Arts Festival. The fair has outgrown its home and we can now be found at the Queen’s Hall, 44 High Street, Narberth, SA67 7AS, and you can also visit the Narberth Food Festival on the same weekend, what could be better? Great books and delicious food all in one place!

You will find many authors and their books from 10am to 4pm, and attend a variety of talks and book readings all FREEand with only 13 weeks ‘til Christmas this is your ideal time to start shopping for that bookworm in your life, or just treat yourself!

I will be signing and selling copies of the Hope Within Novels, and my new release this year A Symphony of Dragons, a collection of dragon themed short tales.

The_Hope_Within_novels_Lisa-Shambrook-Low-Res-205kb Book covers x3

The Hope Within novels © Lisa Shambrook

And to make it even better I have a fantastic SPECIAL OFFER for buyers at the Book FairWhen you buy A Symphony of Dragons you will also get a FREE copy of Beneath the Rainbow.

Book Fair Special Offer Today Symphony and Rainbow adI will also be selling items from Amaranth Alchemy perfect book related Stocking Fillers…

All my books cost £5 each at Book Fairs which is a significant discount on Paperback prices online or in stores…and I’d love to see you there!

Check out my Narberth Book Fair Author Page and read an interview with me…

A Symphony of Dragons April 2017

Asher – BHC Press – A Symphony of Dragons

“A Symphony of Dragons is a book of short stories…each one about a dragon, or dragons. The lyrical, descriptive writing conveys both beauty and fear… The author will surprise you with her imagination and intricate detail.”
A Symphony of Dragons review on Amazon ~ Penny

“I was completely caught off guard by this breathtaking story. It is sweet, touching, uplifting, and frankly just beautiful.”
Beneath the Rainbow review
on Amazon ~ Sophie Moss, award-winning author of ‘The Selkie Spell’

“Highly recommend this beautifully woven story! I found myself immersed in this book, wanting to turn the page to find out what happened next!”
Beneath the Old Oak review
on Amazon ~ Bunnygirl

​“…I have compared it to Mitch Albom because this feels like the story he didn’t get around to writing yet. A really wonderful tale. Don’t miss out on this one.”
Beneath the Distant Star review
on Amazon ~ Mr Dead

Book Fairs coming up at which I will be attending…

Carmarthenshire Carmarthen Library Book Fair – Sat 21st October

Carmarthen Book Fair, St Peter’s Civic Hall – Sat 11th November

Llandeilo Christmas Book Fair – Sat 9th December

See you in Narberth!

Coping with Alzheimer’s: Sadness, Love, and Humour

I saw a lonesome forget-me-not gaze up at me the other day,
late in the year for these delicate blue flowers,
but they will always remind me of my mother.
They will forever be linked with the disease that stole her.

Coping with Alzheimer_s amid Tears of Sadness, Love, and Humour The Last Krystallos

The forget-me-not is the poster flower for Alzheimer’s, so when I noticed this little blossom peering up at me, it brought the condition back to my mind, and reminded me that I hadn’t yet read a book loaded up on my Kindle. Maybe it had been too soon when I bought it, Mum passed away at Christmas last year, but sitting in the Dr’s waiting room with Dad the other day I clicked on the book and opened it.

Coping-with-Alzheimer's-Forget-me-not- The-Last-Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Instead of bringing tears, which it does too, it brought a smile to my face, many smiles. Finding a kindred spirit can do that. I relate strongly with the author S. R. Karfelt. Her candid humour, outright frankness, and sincerity shone through in her words. Our situations regarding Dementia are different, we’ve been through very different circumstances, but the familiarity of her anecdotes and narrative rang so true.

Alzheimer’s is the thief of time, stealing memories and lives with no compunction at all…and it is on the rise. More and more people are being diagnosed and figures show that 850,000 people lived with dementia in the UK in 2015 and it’s set to rise at a rate that will mean over 1 million in 2025 and 2 million in 2051. I’ve blogged about Prevention and Awareness before, and there are things we can do, changes to our lives, diets, and routines that can help, but this post isn’t about prevention or cure, it’s about living with the disease.

Coping-with-Alzheimer's-time-The-Last-Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Please remember that living with Alzheimer’s affects a whole plethora of people for every one person diagnosed. Whole families and communities have to come together to care. When someone in your family has dementia, you can’t walk away, you can’t hide, you can’t bury it. The condition sneaks up and robs you of your loved one, but unlike other diseases that leave you to grieve after you lose your cherished family member, dementia leaves the shell of the person with you. I can’t describe the pain that that instils.

In her book, Nobody Told Me: Love in the Time of DementiaS. R. Karfelt has been through all of this and eloquently puts her experiences on paper. For anyone facing dementia within their family, this is a book that will show you that you’re not alone. You’ll know you are part of a growing number of people dealing with this disease and staring it right in the face with defiance – and humour you have to laugh, and you’ll cry too. Lots.

So many stories in this book tickled me, made me smile, and made me belly laugh, because I’ve been there. You have to attack Alzheimer’s with humour, wit, and love, they give you the strength to carry on.

Coping-with-Alzheimer's-Home-The-Last-Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

When Mum complained of the noisy street party going on in her back yard, outside her house, we had to humour her, because my parents lived in the middle of a field, not a sound anywhere. When she thought I was her mother, I held her close and rocked her. When she was convinced Dad was a doctor, I told her she’d better take her medication with no complaints. When she thought Dad was a stranger who had kidnapped her and was holding her hostage, I talked her through it, tried to allay her fear, and help her calm down.

Can you imagine believing you’re only fourteen, and then finding out you’re married and he’s an old man? Imagine looking in the mirror expecting to see your twenty-five-year-old-self gazing back and instead seeing a seventy-year-old with a very different face? Imagine nurses/carers visiting every day when you don’t think anything is wrong with you at all.

Coping-with-Alzheimer's-raindrops-The-Last-Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Imagine forgetting how to walk, or how to lift your food from the plate to your mouth with a fork. How would you feel if you couldn’t remember the beginning of the movie you started watching an hour ago? How would you feel when your grandchildren walk in and smile at you, but are complete strangers because you believe you’re twenty, and there are still eight years before you give birth to their mother yet?

Think about being in hospital or a home and not having a clue how you got there, or why, or for how long, or who took you there, or where you are, or why you’re there, or how long you’ll be there, and there’s nothing wrong with you, where are you, how did you get there, there’s nothing wrong, who took you there, when can you go home, as there’s nothing wrong… Where am I?

This is life with Alzheimer’s. It hurts – not only the patient, but the family, and carers, and friends… Alzheimer’s hurts everyone it comes into contact with.

So, if you’re dealing with, living with, coping with Alzheimer’s please know that you’re not alone. Please laugh as much as you cry. I’ve told my children that if I ever get this disease they are to treat me like normal, but play to it, allow me to stay in the time that I believe I am in, humour me, give me adventures, if I don’t know where I am – make it up!

Coping-with-Alzheimer's-leaf- The-Last-Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

People will tell you how to cope with this condition when you’re caring for a loved one who doesn’t know who you are, but as long as you are compassionate and loving, you’re doing the right thing. Take time out. Laugh, I cannot say this enough, not at the person sometimes not even with the person, they won’t understand and you don’t want to hurt or alienate them even further, but you need to deal with the mess it makes of your life too, and once you’re out of the immediate situation talk through the absurdity Alzheimer’s proffers you and laugh at it. Irreverence can see you through it all.

Tears will fall, that’s a guarantee, but don’t ever think you’re alone.

The Alzheimer’s Society is an amazing resource who will help you through this minefield, as will those who’ve been there already. Stay strong.

Nobody-Told-Me-S-R-Karfelt-Dementia

You can buy
Nobody Told Me: Love in the Time of Dementia
by S. R. Karfelt on Amazon UK Kindle Hardbackand Paperback.
Amazon US Kindle, Hardback,
and Paperback, and from your local Amazon and other online bookstores.
Please visit her website for further information and links.

For the Love of Books – What’s Your Favourite Genre?

Reading is a true pleasure, and not only do we all have books we love,
stories we adore, but we often have genres that we lean towards
when we’re searching for new books.

So, where’s your heart when it comes to the books you read?

For the Love of Books - What's Your Favourite Genre - The Last Krystallos

These days books are very much pigeon-holed into genres, which when I first began writing didn’t occur to me at all! I just wrote the story inside my head before discovering it really didn’t fit a particular genre. In the end, my first series of books, The Hope Within Novels, actually fit very well into the Young Adult field, and we all know YA can be read and loved by any age at all!

Since my first book, I did learn that to succeed it’s pretty important to know your genre, and through flash fiction and short stories, I discovered my passion is fantasy – moving into steampunk and post-apocalyptic.

I grew up with Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five adventuresexploring ruins, islands, castles, and moved into Narnia, The Hobbit, and my favourite The Dark is Rising Sequence. I was hooked. From there Philip Pullman, Tolkien, Eoin Colfer, and again, my favourite author, Garth Nix and his Old Kingdom series captivated me. I read many genres, but love writing contemporary and fantasy.

So, what do you love?

My love of fantasy arrived with dragons and after Smaug, I fell for some friendlier types in the rather wordy Eragon series by Christopher Paolini. Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea is a classic, as is anything by Tolkien, and I’ve loved current books Orison by Daniel Swensen and the beautiful Quest of the Dreamwalker from Stacy Bennett. I am also entranced by Patrick Rothfuss, and fell in love with The Slow Regard of Silent Things.

Fantasy-genres-you-love-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Are you a romance reader? I went through some steamy romances in my twenties, my bored housewife/young mum years, but my palate grew up and I now love fantasy and contemporary romances. I have been completely enchanted by Sophie Moss and her Seal Island Trilogy, and can’t wait for her latest book in the Wind Chime series… And you’ll love ditsy Katie Button from Lizzie Koch.

Romance-genres-you-love-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Or does horror chill you? I was never a horror fan, preferring movie versions of most horror stories if any, but I did love James Herbert’s Portent, and I’ve read a few Stephen King. J. Whitworth Hazzard blew the zombie genre right out of the water with Dead Sea Games, and I adored the chilling literary tales from Max Power and Darkly Wood.

Horror-genres-you-love-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Do you love the classics? Are you a Bronte fan, or do you go weak at the knees for Mr Darcy? I’ve always loved fairy-tales, stories that chill, enthral, and fascinate bringing us dragons, fae, and much more. I love Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, then there’s The Count of Monte Cristo from Dumas, and so much more. The classics are right there, standing the test of time.

Classics-genres-you-love-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Are your tastes more eclectic? I remember raiding Dad’s bookshelves to read John Wyndham, introduced to Chocky by the BBC TV series on Children’s Television back in 1984 – and I then devoured The Midwich Cuckoos, The Chrysalids, The Kraken Wakes and more. Sci-fi is still up there with my favourites, but I tend to watch sci-fi much more than read it.

Autobiographies, Mum and Gran loved reading about people, real people, and my husband enjoys it too, not so much my cup of tea.

Contemporary, is a hit and miss thing for me these days. There are some brilliant books out there like Rachel Joyce’s The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, The Trouble with Goats and Sheep from Joanna Cannon, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, but you can easily hit some real misses.

I also enjoy Thrillers, Harlan Coben being my favourite.

Autobiography-sci-fi-contemporary-children--genres-you-love-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Children’s books, I still read kids’ books, why not? They are what introduced me to reading and inspired me to write myself. The Silver Brumby absolutely entrances me, and I will always love it. I’ve even been known to reread Blyton’s The Castle of Adventure as an adult…

From children’s books to Young Adult…a genre that is a law unto itself. Harry Potter broke the mould with children’s books, bringing them to children and adults simultaneously. Now, you’ll see YA in the hands of all ages. John Green and Meg Rosoff inspire when they pen great stories, and so do some much lesser known authors, like Angela Lynn who had me completely in love with All the What Ifs, and Louise Gornall with an emotional journey through Under Rose Tainted Skies. Another book that made me weep was Loser from Jerry Spinelli, a book I would read again and again, and Anne Holm’s I am David. My books, Beneath the Rainbow, Old Oak, and Distant Star, also inspire through difficult journeys and true to the YA genre have been loved by all ages!

YA-genres-you-love-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Lastly, I love short story books. I love a book I can pick up while I’m waiting, and I’m often waiting for children, dentists, Drs, and other appointments. Short tales are inspiring, eclectic, a good use of spare time, and they also introduce us to new authors, or an author’s writing style, when you fall in love with their writing, you can search out full-length novels and bury yourself among your favourite words! And, like with Human 76, you can sometimes find a completely original and exciting concept, this time a book of tales by different writers, brought together in the same world, but each telling a unique story.

Short-Story-genres-you-love-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

So, tell me, what books do you love, where is your passion,
and what genre is your ‘go to’ when searching for a new read?