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I’ve been a fan of chillhop and in particular the productions at Chillhop Music for the last few years. It’s the music I’ve been living and writing to. When I heard of Guillaume and Psalm Trees’ collaboration I was excited to hear their work but was really blown away by the fact that they had never met!

Here’s the story:

As you might already know, the two have never met, and it was through their online connection that they were album to create this album (as well as a previous EP and a new single on Essentials Spring 2021).

The original concept for this documentary was to have Psalm Trees (based in Rotterdam) visit Guillaume in Paris and film the entire thing. Due to the pandemic lockdown and Covid-19 restrictions (and not wanting to risk anything by traveling) we decided to instead further focus on the authenticity of this collaboration from home: how they connected, how they work together, what the process looks like from their own locations.

Two different cities, two different cameras, two different perspectives.

It’s an amazing album! I urge you to check it out:

🎧 Download / Stream / Order Vinyl – “We Must Believe in Spring” by Psalm Trees & Guillaume Muschalle ・ https://chillhop.ffm.to/wmbis.mor​ 🎶

Listen to Chillhop on Spotify https://chillhop.ffm.to/chillhopradio…

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Can we, just for a moment, admire how gorgeous this cover is?!

The story is just as amazing! Inspired by the Persian epic Shahnameh from the early eleventh century, the setting is lush and vivid. It’s an empowering story about learning to love the things about oneself that are different. While reading the story I kept thinking about the quote “Princesses, most often save themselves.” I can’t remember who coined that phrase but it very much applies to this story.

Melissa Bashardoust’s Girl, Serpent, Thorn is “an alluring feminist fairy tale” (Kirkus) about a girl cursed to be poisonous to the touch and who discovers what power might lie in such a curse.

There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it’s not just a story.

As the day of her twin brother’s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if she’s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isn’t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison.

Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming…human or demon. Princess or monster.

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May I also humbly recommend …

DP Blurb + jacket promo

Hoisin meatballs

Yes another recipe with meatballs! It’s been the mood around here lately. This was inspired by a recipe I saw in NYT but they were rather bland so I kick them up with the addition of some of my favorite Asian flavors!

Hoisin Meatballs

1 lb Ground Turkey

2 tablespoons Hoisin Sauce (whatever is your favorite)

2 cloves of grated Garlic

1 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice

2 teaspoons dried Basil (If you have fresh then add 4 leaves finely chopped)

1 tablespoon Ponzu (if you can’t find it then substitute plain Soy Sauce)

1 teaspoon Sesame Oil

1 cup Panko Crumbs

1 finely chopped Green Onion

Salt & Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Mix all of the above together and let sit covered for 15 minutes. If the Mixture still seems too wet then add more Panko 1 tablespoon at a time until you’re happy with the consistency. I find that a somewhat wetter meatball comes out more tender after cooking.

Roll the meat mixture into rough 2 inch balls and place on a foil or silpat lined baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes. (If you roll with damp hands the mixture won’t stick to your fingers!)

Remove from oven and place the meatballs into a shallow fry pan with the sauce to finish cooking through, about 7-10 more minutes or until meatballs are cooked through.

Serve with jasmine rice or noodles with the pan sauce divided and poured over each portion.

For the Sauce:

Hoisin Simmer Sauce

2 tablespoons Hoisin Sauce

1 teaspoon Sesame Oil

1 teaspoon Sesame Seeds

1 tablespoon Ponzu or Soy Sauce

1/2 cup water

In a fry pan with a lid combine all the above ingredients and bring to a simmer. Add the meatballs and cover simmering for 7-10 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through. When finished plate up the meatballs and then turn the heat up and reduce the sauce for about 3 minutes or until It forms a glaze. Pour over meatballs to serve.

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I cobbled this soup together out of freezer and pantry staples. It turned out rather well!

Meatball Minestrone Soup

1 lb Sweet Italian sausage

a drizzle of Olive Oil

1 15oz. can White Beans

1 15oz can Diced Tomatoes

2 cups Mixed Frozen Veggies

1 cup Dried Shaped Pasta (I used Gemelini)

1.5 tablespoons Better Than Bouillon Beef stock concentrate

1 tablespoon dried Italian Herb Mix

1 teaspoon dried Thyme

2 teaspoons grated Fresh Garlic

4 cups Water

Salt & Pepper

If you are working with sausage links take the casing off then roll the sausage meat into roughly 1 inch balls. In a nonstick sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat and add the meatballs. Cook for about 5 minutes or until brown and no longer pink in the middle. Set aside.

In a large pot with lid combine the tomatoes (and juice), white beans (plus the canning liquid), frozen veggies, garlic, stock concentrate, herbs and water. Stir to mix then turn the heat to medium and bring to a low boil. Cook until the frozen veggies are tender but still retain their bright color, about 7-10 minutes.

Add in the meatballs and any juice accumulated in the pan.

Add the dried pasta. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes or until the pasta is done.

Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with a sprinkle of cheese and garlic bread.

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About the third chapter in I remember stating aloud “This is a very weird story!” That’s saying a lot from someone who writes the type of stuff that I do, but it’s true. At first, you don’t know what going on, but it’s fascinating! And when you do figure out what’s going on you’re hooked!

From the New York Times bestselling author of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, an intoxicating, hypnotic new novel set in a dreamlike alternative reality.

Piranesi’s house is no ordinary building: its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls are lined with thousands upon thousands of statues, each one different from all the others. Within the labyrinth of halls an ocean is imprisoned; waves thunder up staircases, rooms are flooded in an instant. But Piranesi is not afraid; he understands the tides as he understands the pattern of the labyrinth itself. He lives to explore the house.

There is one other person in the house-a man called The Other, who visits Piranesi twice a week and asks for help with research into A Great and Secret Knowledge. But as Piranesi explores, evidence emerges of another person, and a terrible truth begins to unravel, revealing a world beyond the one Piranesi has always known.

For readers of Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane and fans of Madeline Miller’s CircePiranesi introduces an astonishing new world, an infinite labyrinth, full of startling images and surreal beauty, haunted by the tides and the clouds.

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May I also humbly recommend….

TDS Blurb + Jacket

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Happy New Year!

I have been wanting to share the cover of CHILDREN OF THE SERPENT and today the wait is over! It will available on June 21st for Kindle and Kindle Unlimited. Preorders are open now!

Here’s what the story is about:

The sensational conclusion of The Revel Night Saga!

Juno Tenebris has a secret…

The visions come to her in her dreams. A gifted artist, she wakes to find she has drawn an image of something that will come to pass. It is a secret she must keep at all costs. Juno’s great grandmother has suffered hundreds of years of captivity. Her gifts of prophecy too valuable to risk her; she can never leave the Citadel. Ever. It’s the fate that awaits Juno if anyone finds out she too is an Oracle.

But someone has found out…

Finnlan Wickerman, captain of the Shadows of Faerie, is arrogant, obnoxious, and enraging. And now she must trust him as her secret keeper, an unbreakable vow that if betrayed will cost him his life.

The Day of Devouring has come…

The Phaji Swarm, the enemy of the Four Realms, has regrouped and has a new leader, Hivemother Six. She is in league with a former ally, The Sons of the Serpent, a cult of powerful human Mages, and they have their sights set on Juno and her extraordinary power of prophecy.

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Hello from the last week of 2020! Well guys, looks like we did it! We made it through this year. I think we should all give ourselves a pat of the back for that!

Next year marks the release of the last book of THE REVEL NIGHT SAGA. I look forward to showing you the cover for CHILDREN OF THE SERPENT in January plus excerpts in the months leading up to the June publishing date! 

 

Hopeful wishes to you for a brighter New Year

Cheers!

Kathleen

Come December I’m in the mood for a Christmas story, something fun and lighthearted. This year in my search for Christmas themed books I struck gold!

 

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Christina Lauren as you may or may not know is the pen name of the duo Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings, I’ve enjoyed their books for many years and when I learned they wrote and Christmas book I punched that pre-order button with giddy joy. I was not disappointed at all! IN A HOLIDAZE was fun and sweet and frothy; just the thing I need at this time of year! 

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…but not for Maelyn Jones. She’s living with her parents, hates her going-nowhere job, and has just made a romantic error of epic proportions.
But perhaps worst of all, this is the last Christmas Mae will be at her favorite place in the world—the snowy Utah cabin where she and her family have spent every holiday since she was born, along with two other beloved families. Mentally melting down as she drives away from the cabin for the final time, Mae throws out what she thinks is a simple plea to the universe: Please. Show me what will make me happy.
The next thing she knows, tires screech and metal collides, everything goes black. But when Mae gasps awake…she’s on an airplane bound for Utah, where she begins the same holiday all over again. With one hilarious disaster after another sending her back to the plane, Mae must figure out how to break free of the strange time loop—and finally get her true love under the mistletoe.

 

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“Yeah, yeah a modern twist on A CHRISTMAS CAROL…. It’s been done to death!” I hear you saying. But you guys! This really is an unusual twist. I loved every minute of it! I was blinking back tears at the end of Holly’s story,  I’m going to buy a hardback copy to re-read every Christmas–It was that good! 

On Christmas Eve five years ago, seventeen-year-old Holly Chase was visited by three Ghosts who showed her how selfish and spoiled she’d become. They tried to convince her to mend her ways. She didn’t. And then she died.

Now she’s stuck working for the top-secret company Project Scrooge—as their latest Ghost of Christmas Past. So far, Holly’s afterlife has been miserable. But this year’s Scrooge is different. This year’s Scrooge might change everything…

 

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This came recommended to me and I have only just started it.  I”ll come back and update you when I finish it!

Edit: I finished it! Wow! First off it’s a great story! I loved the characters, they seemed real in a way that only great writers can manage. Although most of the important scenes set during Christmas and New Years I wouldn’t call it a Christmas book, more a Winter book. All the same I would recommend it.  

Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn’t exist anywhere but the movies. But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there’s a moment of pure magic…and then her bus drives away.

Certain they’re fated to find each other again, Laurie spends a year scanning every bus stop and cafe in London for him. But she doesn’t find him, not when it matters anyway. Instead they “reunite” at a Christmas party, when her best friend Sarah giddily introduces her new boyfriend to Laurie. It’s Jack, the man from the bus. It would be.

What follows for Laurie, Sarah and Jack is ten years of friendship, heartbreak, missed opportunities, roads not taken, and destinies reconsidered. One Day in December is a joyous, heartwarming and immensely moving love story to escape into and a reminder that fate takes inexplicable turns along the route to happiness.

 

Until then my friends, Sending you hopeful wishes for a brighter new year! 

 

May I also humbly recommend: 

DP Blurb + jacket promo

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It’s hard when you have to cut out scenes that you like. It’s necessary sometimes in the service of the story as a whole. The following was one such cut that did not make it into the published work. Happily I can share it here! 

 

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She wasn’t in Heaven, Vashti’s mountain fortress was gone, she was in a garden where three trees stood. The first was full of pink blossoms the second bore ripe juicy looking fruit and the third tree was bare but stood tall and imposing. A man and a woman knelt in front of the fruit laden tree. Livia gasped recognizing herself and Tynan.

She edged closer; her eyes wide. They were older than they were at present, but not by much. They both were dressed in white garments of the style one wore in Faerie. She in a gauzy dress and he in trousers, tunic and belt.

“…and to the Mother we give this token in hope she will bless us.” Tynan said.

Livia’s future-self took a black feather threaded onto a golden chain from around her neck and placed it on the ground in front of the tree. Then Tynan reached up and plucked one of the fruits from a branch. He held it to Livia’s lips, and she took a big bite, laughing as pink juice ran down her chin. Tynan licked and kissed the juice from her face before taking a bite as well.

Present day Livia felt the familiar disorienting pull of Vashti’s magic; she was being drawn away.

“No!” she cried. “No, Vashti! I want to see more!” The garden faded and she was back at Vashti’s hearth. She looked to the Glass but this time she only saw her own reflection. “Damn!”

“You saw what you were meant to see, they will let you have no more.” Livia glowered at the old woman who puffed serenely on her pipe, but Vashti just cackled her witchy laugh. 

“I’d like to have a rather violent word with “they” sometime,” Livia huffed.

“Oh, aye. Vashti would as well!”

Livia sat hard in the chair her mind spinning with what had been revealed to her. She felt sorry she had been so hard on her mother at the Seelie queen’s palace, she hadn’t known how her mother had suffered with her decision to become a Seraphim. It hadn’t occurred to her that Catherine would have said no, ascension was the greatest honor in the Angelic realm, but she would have stayed if not for Livia.

 She wondered what her mother had done to protect her already, maybe her powers as a Pathfinder weren’t natural after all. She wondered how much of what she had taken as accidents of fate had been by her mother’s guidance.

As for the other thing she’ been shown, she fed the tiny spark of joy the vision had created. Were they mated? What was the significance of the fruit from the tree? Whose feather was it that she had given the tree? She had more questions than that small glimpse could possibly answer. She also felt very foolish now about how she had handled her feelings. It was obvious to her now that she and Tynan were stronger together, the Glass had shown her proof of that. Was Tynan having second thoughts about her? Had that been why he’d been reluctant to sleep in the bed last night?

Vashti’s cackle drew her out of her reverie. “You should go show him how you feel in truth,” she told her.

Livia decided against asking Vashti if she was a mind reader. Instead she went back upstairs and followed the woman’s advice.

THE FALLEN SHADOW is available for Kindle and in Hardback 

TFS cover blurb promo

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This year I learned a new way to make pumpkin pie! Combined with my original recipe this new trick proved to be the best pie yet!

Pumpkin Pie 2.0

Pre heat oven to 425F

One 15oz can Unsweetened Pumpkin Puree

1/2 cup Granulated Sugar

1/4 Brown Sugar

2 tablespoons Maple Syrup

2 teaspoons Pumpkin Pie Spice

2 large eggs

1 12oz can Evaporated Milk

Pinch of Salt

1 Unbaked 9 inch Pie Shell or 1/2 portion Homemade Pie Crust recipe

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Prepare your crust: Thaw if using frozen or if using fresh lay your crust into your pie plate and keep in the fridge to stay cold while you mix the pie filling.

Here’s the new trick! Heat pumpkin puree over medium high heat stirring frequently for about 5 minutes or until you see that the moisture content of the puree is reduced. Set aside and cool for about 20 minutes or until room temperature. Cooking the pumpkin gets rid of the extra water in the puree and concentrates the flavor it also makes the pie cook faster!

Once cool add, sugars, maple syrup, salt, pie spices to the puree and mix well.

Beat eggs until combined then add to the pumpkin mixture.

Slowly whisk in the evaporated milk.

Pour the pie filling into the pie crust and bake for 15 minutes at 425F. Reduce the temp to 350F and continue baking for 30-40 minutes or until the filling is softly set. It will have a small amount of wibble wobble in the very center, that’s okay as it will continue to cook for a few minutes after you take it out of the oven and will set up as it cools.

If the crust begins to get too brown wrap the edges of the crust in tin foil to stop the browning.

Cool compleately then store in refridgerator until cool.

Serve with whipped cream