Three things

*HeartB* Three things you can’t go without.
*HeartP* Three celebrity crushes.
*HeartO* Three favorite book characters.
*HeartGR* If you had to evacuate your home because of a natural disaster, what three things would you take with you?
*HeartG* Three pet peeves.
*HeartT* Three things you’d do if you weren’t so afraid.
*HeartY* Three favorite TV shows.

*HeartB* Three things I can’t go without.

Books. That’s definitely the first thing that comes to mind. I read every day, and I think if I couldn’t, I’d go a little bit crazy. *Crazy* Okay, well more crazy than normal! *Laugh* I read an average of about 10 books a month or 120 books a year, and while I can re-read a book, I don’t think I can go too long without reading. In particular, I like to read just before I go to sleep. It calms my mind and stops me from thinking about work and kids and all those things that like to play through your mind as you lie down to sleep.

At the risk of being cliche, my husband. We keep each other sane. Or as Steve says, ‘you complete my weirdness’. *Laugh* When the kids frustrate us (wait for the pet peeves list!) or work is driving us crazy, we talk, we laugh, we support each other… I definitely wouldn’t cope without him. I truly don’t wanna find out what I’d be like without him.

I’d say chocolate, but one of these days I’m gonna give up the stuff. Just…not today. Or tomorrow. *Pthb*

Ooh, I know. Jeans. Jeans for the win! *Cool* I’d live in jeans if I were allowed to wear them to work. Stupid dress code. *Rolleyes* When I’m not at work, I’m either in jeans or jean shorts. Actually, now that I’m thinking about clothes, I’m not sure I’d want to live without bras either. *Smirk*

*HeartP* Three celebrity crushes.

Fuck, just three? *Confused* Um…

Top of my list right now is Chris Pratt. I loved him in Guardians of the Galaxy and Jurassic World. And there’s nothing sexier than a cute guy who makes you laugh. That’s my kind of man. *InLove*

Gerard Butler is always gonna be on my list. I loved him in Olympus Has Fallen, and of course the sequel London Has Fallen. OhmygodIjustsawthere’sanotheronecomingout! Angel Has Fallen! Yes! Definitely seeing that one at the movies. *StarStruck* Seeing Gerard as the Phantom of the Opera is definitely on my list of things to do too.

Hmm, who to choose for my #3? Hugh Jackman? Jeremy Renner? I like Jason Statham too. Not Tom Hardy, although I do like him, but he’s not quite in the league of the others. And I’m always up for a Bruce Willis movie, although he’s showing his age a bit now. Okay, I’m going for Hugh Jackman. Steve was so happy that I was amenable to going to see all the X-Men movies with him! *Laugh* Yep, he’s easy to watch, that’s for sure…

*HeartO* Three favorite book characters. 

Okay, the first one that comes to mind is Cole Renzo from A Restored Man by Jaime Reese. He’s so quirky, and so endearing… He’s clearly on the autism spectrum somewhere, although Reese never actually says so. It’s obvious because he keeps saying things he shouldn’t, but he can’t quite understand why what he said was so inappropriate until someone points it out to him. And he has a million thoughts going through his head all the time, and only working on cars calms him down. He was fascinating. And I thought the audio version of that book was just brilliant.

Oh, definitely Illium from Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter series. Can’t believe he wasn’t the first one I thought of. And fuck he’s hot in the audio version. Which is weird, I know, because it’s narrated by a woman. But still… His accent and his personality and just…Illium. So um, he’s an angel. He has a fascination with mortals. And I really REALLY want him to have his own book. Nalini says that eventually he will get his own book, but probably not in the near future. Le sigh. When that book comes out, you can bet I’ll be buying it at the earliest opportunity. And preferably in audio format. *Wink*

Hmm… Hard to choose a third. Maybe Kai Bannon from the Cyberlove series by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell? I’ve been looking through my book reviews to help me choose a third, and now I want to re-read that book. And then I want to re-read the third book in the series with Cherry, who is another favourite character from that series.

Here are some of my other favourite characters:
Dina Demille from the Innkeeper Chronicles by Ilona Andrews
Tristan Lavelle from The World As He Sees It by A M Arthur
Ian Mackenzie from The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley
Eveline Armstrong from Never Seduce a Scot by Maya Banks
Mercedes Thompson from the Mercedes Thompson series by Patricia Briggs
Darius Lindsey from Darius: Lord of Pleasures by Grace Burrowes
Wilhelm Montegue from Song for Sophia by Moriah Densley
Chris Chapey from the Edge of Honor series by Lori Foster
Carrie Wiggins from Sweet Everlasting by Patricia Gaffney
Patrick Flaherty from the Senses series by Andrew Grey
Morganna from Lady of the Knight (re-released as Morganna) by Jackie Ivie
Abigail from Moon Craving by Lucy Monroe
Alana Avery from Guardian Academy by Jessica Sorensen
Kato from the Kingmaker series by Amanda Bouchet
Kit from Enemies Like You by Annika Martin and Joanna Chambers

*HeartGR* If I had to evacuate my home because of a natural disaster, what three things would I take with me?

Okay, excluding people and pets, for obvious reasons (like the fact that they’re not ‘things’), the first one is super easy – my boxes of memorabilia. I have a stack of file boxes (sort of the size of a shoebox or a bit bigger) in my bedroom filled with memorabilia from 2001 to 2018. Photos, letters, certificates, tickets, cards, etc. In some cases a single year takes up a whole box and in other boxes I can fit three years’ worth of memorabilia. Eventually I want to print my blog into books, one for each year from 2001 onwards, and stick the memorabilia into the books to make scrapbooks that are filled with my blog posts. I’d be gutted if anything happened to those boxes of memories.

Um, I guess #2 would be my poetry books. I started writing poems in 1994 when I was 14 years old. I’m the kind of creative person that actually finds it hard to colour outside the lines, so I have four exercise books filled with my poems from 1994 to about 2015 neatly written in, with carefully underlined headings. No scribbles, no rough drafts, just finished poems, all in exactly the same neat format. If I lost those books, I’d definitely lose the only copy of some of those poems. And they might not be good, but they’re…mine. They’re part of my journey from starting to write shitty poetry to where I am now with poetry (wherever that may be). And yes, I’m only up to 2015. I need to catch up to 2018. It’s on my to-do list, but I’ve got some other stuff to do first.

And I suppose third would be my scrapbooks. I have some scrapbooks that are pretty basic that I did when my son was born, before I learned the ‘art’ of scrapbooking. And I have some scrapbooks that are the more typical style of 12″x12″ scrapbook, including my wedding scrapbook. So similar to the memorabilia, because those scrapbooks contain memorabilia that has already been scrapped.

I think most everything else could be replaced.

*HeartG* Three pet peeves.

Okay, firstly, inconsiderate drivers. Seriously, some people are just wankers on the road. They cut queues, drive in bus or transit lanes, block the road by crossing when there’s clearly no room for them on the other side, run red lights, etc. They think the rules don’t apply to them for some reason. And yet, if everyone drove like they did, the road would be chaos. Carnage. Why should they get to be assholes and the rest of us have to sit in traffic and quietly fume? *Rant* Ugh, nothing gets me angrier faster than an inconsiderate driver.

Do you know what I’m most looking forward to about my kids leaving home? It’s not that they won’t be leaving a mess behind them everywhere they go. It’s not that they’re so freaking expensive. It’s not the frustration of trying to provide rules, boundaries and discipline. It’s the food. I buy a packet of biscuits, eat one biscuit from it, and the next day it’s gone. One time, I didn’t even get to eat a single biscuit from the bloody packet! *Shock* Anything we buy that can be remotely seen as a ‘treat’ gets eaten. But it’s not just treats. Anything convenient to eat. Tomatoes and tinned tomatoes disappear. And neither kid will own up to it. When they both deny it, we roll our eyes (or swear and shout, depending on how angry and/or frustrated we are!) and say ‘Oh, it must be the elves again’. We have some serious food elves. Steve and I dream about the day when we can buy food and put it in the pantry, fridge or freezer, and it’ll still be there when we go back for it. Honestly, it’s practically a life goal now. I guess we’re just lucky they’re not interested in the alcohol yet. *Think*

Published material that isn’t proofread. Everyone makes mistakes, I get that, and typos in things like blog posts or drafts or whatever don’t bother me, but if you’re publishing a book, a newspaper article, that kind of thing, fucking PROOFREAD IT!! *Rant* If you can’t spot errors in written material (I know my husband and mother-in-law can’t), then use the services of someone like me who can.

*HeartT* Three things I’d do if I weren’t so afraid.

Erm… Skydive? Bungy jump? Sing karaoke in public (everyone should be afraid I’ll do that! *Laugh*). Oh, definitely get a tattoo. It’s not a fear of needles, it’s a fear of regret, that I’ll be stuck with something forever that I’ll wish I wasn’t stuck with. *Rolleyes*

Quit my job. But I have a very real fear that I won’t find another one before we run out of money. *Laugh*

Oh, I’ve got it. Be honest with people when they hurt or anger me. Inconsiderate people. Intolerant people. I wish I could talk to them the way I rant about them in my private blog posts. But I never will.

*HeartY* Three favorite TV shows.

Hmm, I’m not really a TV watcher. I did enjoy Game of Thrones, however cliche that answer is. I know it’ll be on a lot of people’s lists, but that’s because it’s a good show! I only started watching it last year, so we watched the entire backlist of series one after the other, and now we’re stuck waiting for the next season, whatever number it is. I liked Downton Abbey too, which was addictive while you were watching it, but hard to get back into once you walked away.

The Big Bang Theory. I really must finish watching it. Not sure where I got up to, to be honest. Great show though, and lots of laughs.

And let’s go with a classic from when I was a kid. Fawlty Towers. I adored John Cleese as Basil Fawlty. So many great lines. Brilliant show.

I’m a level 38 bard

I’ve been super busy lately.  I recently hosted the 11th annual Quill Awards ceremony on, and now I need to deliver the 208 awards to the winners and honorable mentions.  Both the preparation and the organisation (even afterwards) is a mammoth job, but I love it.

We run a live Google Hangout for the ceremony, with a bunch of members chatting and announcing the various winners.  It’s great to talk to and see people that are usually just words on a page, but also amazing to be part of something so feel-good.

Winning a Quill Award on is truly something special.  I won my first Quill in 2013 for Best Holiday genre, with an activity I’d hosted.  Since then I’ve also won a Quill in 2015 for Best Short Structured Poem and Best Flash Fiction, and in 2014 I won a Quill for Special Contribution to which was a real honour.

I took over the hosting in 2015, when the previous host was unable to continue.  It was last minute, hence why I was still eligible for awards that year.  Since then I have excluded myself from nominations.  There’s nothing more awkward than announcing that you’ve won the prize!  *Laugh*  But yeah, I remember that feeling of winning that first Quill for my writing and realising that others valued my work and believed it worthy.  It’s so inspiring and encouraging.  So I will keep up the work as long as I can.

What else have I been up to?  Mostly prepping for our big trip overseas.  12 working days to go!   *Cool*   Ha ha!  I haven’t worked out the exact number of sleeps, I’m more interested in how many days of work there are left. *Smirk*

I’ve been working on my big spring clean before we go.  So far we’ve got all the bedrooms done, both bathrooms and the kitchen.  We’ve still got to do the upstairs hallway, the laundry and the lounge.  Definitely on the home stretch, but it’s been hard yakka (that’s work, for those who aren’t familiar with the lingo).  It’ll be nice to come home to a clean house, but more importantly, we’ve got a house sitter, so the place needs to be up to a decent standard.

Had a hilarious conversation on this evening that just tickled my sense of humour and I had to rush over here to share it with you.  Of course, then I had to explain why I’d been a bit absent lately.  *Rolleyes*  The good news is that when I’m on holiday, I’m hoping to catch up with a whole bunch of blog reading!  *Delight*  I should have some neat stories and photos to share with you all too.  I’ve been reading Globejotting: How to Write Extraordinary Travel Journals (and still have time to enjoy your trip!) by Dave Fox, and that’s given me some good ideas, so fingers crossed it’ll be worth reading!

Okay, yeah, so that conversation we had:

Lilli: I prefer to refer to age in terms of ‘levels’. If you say you are at Level 53, that would sound pretty cool.

Jayne: I’m level 41 monk because I have to rely on items for healing, but I can take massive amounts of damage.
Mr. J is a level 47 warrior.
What my party needs is a mage, dang it.

Elle: I love the idea of doing age in levels! Is that super geeky or… Nah, I’m going with cool.  *Cool*
I’m a level 38 bard. Oh yeah. This is definitely gonna be my new thing. *Laugh*

So, what level and class are you?  *Laugh*

If you could know when you’d die…would you want to know?

Don’t let the days go by
Could have been easier on you
I couldn’t change though I wanted to
Should I have been easier by three
Our old friend fear and you and me

We had some strange discussions at work last week.

If you were a fruit, what would you be?  I chose to be an apple, as I’m pretty ordinary, but most people like me.  I can be a little tart sometimes, but even then I’m pretty practical.

If you were a farm animal, what would you be?  I said I’d be mother duck.  I’m pretty good at keeping the kids in line, but not really the hard working sort.

And we had a philosophical discussion over whether we’d want to know in advance the date of our own or others’ deaths.  Most of the people in the office said they wouldn’t want to know.  One of the girls and I said that we would want to know.

If I had the option of kissing my husband goodbye in the morning and him never coming home again, or being told that he was gravely ill and would be dead within the week, I’d take the latter.  It gives you the chance to say goodbye, the chance to get closure, the chance to maximise your last moments together.

The others said you should be maximising your moments anyway, and living each day like it could be your last, which is true enough in theory but doesn’t work in practical terms.  If my kids are being lazy and not doing their chores, I get cross and yell at them.  If they’re naughty, I punish them.  It’s part of being a good parent.  Children who don’t have consequences grow up to be spoiled, self-indulgent, selfish, inconsiderate adults.  Good parents provide boundaries and consequences for stepping over those boundaries.  Those boundaries and those consequences vary from parent to parent, they even vary from myself to my husband somewhat, but that’s normal.

But if you had a family member who had a week to live, especially a core person in your family, like the parent or the child, then fuck the chores.  No one gives a shit about the state of the kitchen when someone’s dying in the hospital, right?  You’re all about maximising the moments you have left, and that doesn’t mean shouting at the kids to get off their asses and do some housework, it means saying the I love you’s.  And yes, my husband knows I love him, and I say it often.  At least once every day.  And he says it often to me.  And we make sure the kids know we love them.  But still…  I’d want to know.

One of the guys at work suggested that knowing you only have a year left to live stops you from living, because instead you’re focussed on the death that is approaching.  I disagree.  I think if you knew you had a year to live, you’d milk the most out of every moment you had left.  I go to work every day because I need the income to pay my bills, right?  And I save money toward my retirement because I hope to live long enough to retire.  But if I only had a year left to live, I wouldn’t be working, and I sure as hell wouldn’t be saving for retirement.  There would have to be some practical decisions made, as we don’t have the funds for me to just stop working, particularly if my husband and children are going to survive me.  I do have some life insurance though.

In life, we have to try and balance ‘living for the moment’ with ‘planning for the future’.  If you know that you’re 100% guaranteed to live to be 100, you’d be far more diligent about saving for your retirement.  If you know that you’re 100% guaranteed to die next year, you wouldn’t bother and it would tip the balance towards living for the moment.

I’d want to know, anyway.

A few days after that discussion, I found out that a family friend has terminal cancer.  The message I received said ‘No timeframe, she didn’t want to know.’  It all suddenly went from hypothetical to a real life scenario.  This family friend had the option of being given a timeframe (admittedly, a doctor’s educated estimate, no guarantees) and she chose not to know.  I’d have to know.  I tried to explain to the guy at work (the one who made the comment about focussing on the death instead of living) that the difference between ‘You’ve got a couple of weeks’ and ‘You might last a year or two’ gives you a chance to weigh up that balance between ‘living for the moment’ and ‘planning for the future’.  It allows you the knowledge to make decisions.  Of course, if you’re told you might have a year to live, you shouldn’t plan things for the last week of that year, and expect to die on the estimated day (not that a doctor would ever give you a specific date!).  It’s not about that.  It’s just about having a rough guide that can help you weigh up that balance.

My heart is with our family friend as she faces the reality of terminal cancer.  And, of course, with her family.  I fully respect her decision not to know, and I hope all her children (some of them are overseas) have a chance to say goodbye and gain closure.  I know that they’ll all have some wonderful memories of her, as I do.

So…  Would you want to know?

Social cooking

On Friday evening, my company got together for a social cooking ‘Asian MasterChef Challenge’ with Sachie’s Kitchen.   It was a lot of fun, and the food was delicious!

We were separated into two teams of four.  We’d chosen a Vietnamese menu, so we were making fried rice in lotus leaves, kaffir lime chicken with bok choy, and summer rolls. We watched a demonstration of all three dishes being prepared, then we had a set time limit to cook our own versions.  We were being judged on taste, presentation, one short speech from each team, and the cleanliness of our stations after we’d finished.

Because the kaffir lime chicken needed marinating, we had one team member working on butterflying the chicken thighs first, while another team member starting cooking the fried rice.  A third team member was preparing the chicken marinade, and I was slicing and dicing the ingredients for the fried rice.

While the fried rice was cooking, I soaked the lotus leaves in hot water.  Then we placed the semi-cooked prawns and raw peas in the lotus leaves, topped by the fried rice, then set them to steam while we moved on to the chicken.  The fried rice was flavoured with garlic, shallots, Chinese sausage, ground white pepper and fish sauce.

Then on to the chicken, which was seasoned with kaffir lime leaves, white pepper, tumeric, brown sugar and chillies.  When it was pretty much cooked, we added the bok choy for two minutes then seasoned with lime juice.

While the chicken was cooking, one team member was preparing the summer rolls while another prepared the dip for the summer rolls.  I can’t recall all the ingredients in the dip, but it included fish sauce, brown sugar, lime juice and chillies.  The summer rolls were stuffed with shrimps, noodles, red cabbage, lettuce, carrot, coriander, and another herb that may have been a Chinese mint or something…

Vietnamese summer rolls
Summer rolls

Everything was pretty straight forward, but the time limit made us all rush around and panic, and laugh at ourselves, and basically added to the fun and excitement.

Our dinner looked amazing when we presented it.  We pressed the fried rice into a bowl, then upturned it onto a plate so it looked neat and tidy, then arranged two prawns on the top as the host had demonstrated.  The chicken and bok choy were placed on the side, and the summer rolls were cut in half and presented with a tiny dish of dipping sauce.


It tasted even better. The kaffir lime chicken was quite spicy, but yum. The fried rice didn’t have a lot of flavour, but worked beautifully with the chicken. The dipping sauce didn’t have the heat of the demonstration one, but tasted good with the summer rolls. I’d definitely be keen to make it again to eat at home.

We ate our fill, and no one went even a little bit hungry. We had some summer rolls left over that no one had room in their tummies for.

We won the judging on the chicken, but the other team won on their fried rice and dipping sauce. We won on the speech (which I gave) and they won on cleanliness (we had cooked cleaner, but they’d done a better clean up at the end), so overall they won. Then the hosts announced that there was another challenge, a chopstick race. We won that and took home the medals for the day. Which seemed brutally unfair considering that the other team made a better meal. I felt really bad for them.

It was a great activity for team building, I thought, and I’d love to do it again just for fun.  It’s a bit tricky with my in-laws since my father-in-law is a trained chef, my husband is a trained baker and my mother-in-law used to run a cafe, but I can see getting everyone together and having a challenge would be loads of fun.  I’ll definitely look into it.  You basically get a fun night of interactive entertainment and a delicious meal to eat as well.  Can’t go wrong with that!

I believe the colleague who organised the event is getting a copy of the recipes we used, which is awesome.  Am definitely going to make those dishes again for the family to eat one night.  I love fried rice and that chicken was amazing, so yep, definitely doing that again.

Have you ever done social cooking?  How did you find it?

Man, I feel so old today!

I’m in my 30’s (okay, okay, late thirties!) and a colleague of a similar age made an Alanis Morrissette reference, which of course I got, but the young people in the office didn’t.
‘Well, isn’t that ironic, don’t you think?’ he asked.
‘Yeah, I really do think,’ I replied, laughing.

The young people were confused. ‘What’s the joke?’
‘It’s an Alanis reference.’
‘Alanis Morrissette?’
Oh my god, I feel so old! So I played Ironic for them, and they admitted that they’d heard the song before.

Then they had a conversation I didn’t follow at all. It was like they were talking a different language.
‘Do you like grime?’
What the fuck is grime? Sounds dirty. Is it a band?
‘Yeah, I like Jamie.’
Who the fuck is Jamie? I did a Google search, and found out that she actually meant Jme, who is a grime artist. And grime is apparently ‘a genre of music that emerged in London in the early 2000s. It developed out of earlier UK electronic music styles, including UK garage and jungle, and draws influence from dancehall, ragga, and hip hop.’ The early 2000s, and I’ve never heard of it. *Facepalm*

I really had no idea what they were talking about, but finally I said ‘I know a song you’d like,’ although I was kinda cheating because I already knew they liked it from previous discussions. So I played Low by Flo Rida.

Then my young colleague ruined it by saying ‘Yeah, this was my jam when I was in intermediate.’
Intermediate? I only heard this song for the first time last year! So what if it came out in 2008 and I’m ten years late. *Rolleyes* Anyway, that still made me 28 when it came out, and she was obviously only 11 or 12 then. *Sob*

So, anyone got any music recommendations from the last ten years I should know about? *Pthb*

Book review of Beautifully Burned by C J Burright

Beautifully Burned (The Dreamcaster Series Book 2)

This was an interesting new kind of supernatural.  Ella, the heroine, is a dreamcaster.  Daxen, the hero, is a V’alkara.  These two different species (?) need each other, as they develop a symbiotic relationship.  A dreamcaster has uncontrollable nightmares.  Uncontrollable, that is, except by a V’alkara.  A V’alkara can manipulate nightmares and therefore turn a nightmare into something less disturbing.  In turn, the nightmare sustains the V’alkara.  Without nightmares, the V’alkara will slowly go mad.  And so too would a dreamcaster, caught in a never ending cycle of nightmares.  So they need each other.

Ella has been warned that V’alkara are the bad guys, so she doesn’t want anything to do with them.  She’s struggling to survive a relatively normal life while enduring horrific nightmares every night.  Her only remaining family, after a house fire, is her sister who is in a mental institute.

Daxon is currently using Kalila and her nightmares to sustain him, but Kalila is already bonded to Lydon, and Lydon does NOT like sharing.

When Ella is targeted, Daxon is one of those who goes to help her.  Ella eventually learns more about the V’alkara, and Daxon shows her how he can help her nightmares and how they can work together to control her dreams.  But they won’t defeat their enemies easily, and when their enemies target Ella’s sister, things get even worse.

I found this story quite fascinating.  It’s such a unique concept.  It’s not just about the dreams sustaining Daxon, but he can use facets of the dreams in real life, to fight their enemies, etc.  It’s both disturbing (in a nightmare-come-true kind of way) and intriguing.

I didn’t read the first book in the series, but it didn’t seem to affect my enjoyment of the book.  I found Daxon to be easily likeable, and all the characters were multi-dimensional.  Within the first chapter we’re already introduced to the fact that Lydon is both capable of murdering in cold blood and loving to the point of desperation, and he’s just a secondary character (although he’s the hero of the first book in the series).  Ella is the one we relate to, being more like a regular human, living a regular life but dealing with all the terrible things life throws at us.

The book is well written and easy to read.  Definitely worth checking out.

Book review of Rended Hearts by Riza Curtis

Rended Hearts

This book is centered around Gabriel, who is a witch, and Simon, who is the alpha of the local werewolf pack.  Gabriel is a loner and doesn’t associate with any other witches.  But Gabriel has something that the other witches want, so they start to wreak havoc, trying to scare Gabriel into giving them what they want.  They target the wolves, and Gabriel has to decide if he is prepared to risk the wolves’ safety or if he gives the witches what they want.

We first meet Simon when he is attacked by a witch.  He is the alpha of his pack, but he doesn’t come across as strong or confident.  Several times the author speaks of his strength and his alpha-like characteristics, but I never saw them.  Simon came across as sweet, but definitely beta.  It was a classic case of ‘Don’t tell us, show us!’ but the author never did.  This was easily my biggest gripe with the book.

Gabriel is a healer, utilising both magical and traditional methods.  We meet him when he is brought to the pack house to heal Simon after the initial attack.  Gabriel is quiet, a loner, and is content with his lot but doesn’t dare hope for happily ever after.  As the book proceeds, we see Gabriel grow in magical strength and self-confidence.  By the end of the book, I really wanted Gabriel to get the happily ever after he deserved.

There is an aspect of insta-love, on Simon’s part, as of course, there is the True Mate thing of the werewolves.  Simon falls early and hard, whereas Gabriel slowly comes to the same place (which is much more satisfying).

There were interesting twists I wasn’t expecting which kept me turning the page.  I thought the magic was well explained (while still retaining an air of mystery) and the motive for the attacks seems plausible.

Overall, I thought Gabriel was well written and a character I enjoyed reading about.  Simon let the story down, and I really felt like he needed to be stronger.  Or more interesting.  Or more…something.  He was definitely lacking something!