Title: The Confectioner’s Guild. (Book One The Confectioner Chronicles)
Author: Claire Luana
Published: Live Edge Publishing
Release: 23rd October 2018
“A magic cupcake. A Culinary killer. The perfect recipe for murder.”
I gobbled this delicious story up in a day, I was hooked right from the beginning and could not put it down. Many thanks to NetGalley for getting me an advanced copy of this beauty. Fast paced, lots of twists and a dash of scrumptious romance made for the perfect tale of confectionery delights! It’s not often you find a book that combines two of your passions, The Confectioner’s Guild satisfied my love for baking sweets treats with my love for magical mystery novels!
Our main character Wren, has had a hard life full of bad luck. The only thing she knows for sure is that she is an incredible confectioner whose sweet treats work wonders. What she doesn’t know is that she can work magic through her baking! Wren is approached at the shop she works at by a strange man who whisks her away. She is introduced to the head of The Confectioner’s Guild and told of her magical powers. Barely used to the idea, given only seconds to process, the head of the Guild falls dead before her, poisoned by her own cupcake and now she stands accused of murder! A turn of events I definitely wasn’t expecting. In a whole new world with no friends she must learn how to use her magic properly and figure out who has framed her for murder. She only has a few weeks before the King and his headsman arrive, she starts to make friends but she doesn’t know who she can trust. The inspector on the case takes a special interest with her, they become close and together with her new friends search for whoever framed Wren. They uncover many secrets and a conspiracy that runs deep within the Guilds, they must stick together if they’re all to survive!
I loved so many of the characters in this book and was so thrilled to find out this is only the first book in a series. I can’t wait to see where the story goes now and how the relationships develop. Claire has created an intricately powerful world that I yearn to be part of. She is the perfect amount of descriptive which makes envisioning the scenes so spectacularly enjoyable. You feel for Wren straight away and want nothing more than for her to succeed and for the person who framed her to go down!
This past couple of weeks I’ve had the absolute pleasure to work with publisher Sam Cabbage of A Belletristic Wander and her authors Kyle Duffy & Nerris Nassiri to bring you this exclusive feature. I was able to interview them all and all the answers to my questions were so passionate and eloquent i couldn’t help but tear up as i’m sure you will too! I am so beyond grateful for this wonderful opportunity and i hope i do their stories justice. I’ve attached some illustrations from the books and shared how you can view the artists other work. I myself have made a donation to their Kickstarter page, and i hope once you see the beauty in their work and the genuine kindness and need they have to put good into this world, that you will donate too!
First up is my conversation with Sam Cabbage, owner and creator of A Belletristic Wander: Publishing Enduring Children’s Books.
1) What made you want to start a publishing company?
“I think I always have, I just didn’t know I could. Books are the most amazing things in the world to me. I have often felt stuck, as I only can really understand my own experiences. I can never truly be another person and see and experience the world from their soul. Books are the closest thing to this. My mother spent hours at a time reading to me long before I can even remember. So even in my earliest memories, authors have always been almost immortal. In fact, in a way they are. My favorite authors who have touched me deeply, like Victor Hugo, died long before I was born. To be able to influence people, to change lives, to create understanding and give people the insights into each others differences, I do not know if there is a greater opportunity to give some of yourself to the world! To find stories that possess these qualities and have this potential, and help them to exist and to give them that opportunity to be there for kids that need them, that is what I have really always wanted to do! I mean, what if nobody had ever published Robert Munsch’s books, like Mud Puddle, or Love You Forever. Books have made me who I am, they have helped me so much in life. I would love to be able to do that for others. Lots of others.”
2) What draws you to children’s books?
“Picture books are a fairly new thing when it comes to books. The technology to be able to print affordable books full of color illustrations, hasn’t been around that long. Having read around 40,000 different picture books, I am excited about this relatively new art form! I think there is a lot of room for growth and exploration, as we get to witness the very first wave of some types of picture books. What fascinates me the most is when people really take them seriously as literature. They aren’t “just for kids” and so don’t matter. The small nuances that make a picture book good literature are just as important as those literary aspects in a novel. I am so excited to see this art form gaining more and more respect. Books like Shaun Tan’s The Arrival, are not limited to just a young audience. Anybody who reads that wordless picture book, can feel the emotions he portrays in it just as much as if they read a novel or watched a movie that was so well done it succeeded in moving them.”
3) How did you meet your authors and illustrators?
“I read a post of Nerris Nassiri’s on the internet, about his book. He described it as an orphan who builds a hot air balloon. I love the feel of not having much, and finding a way to create what you want anyway, and so I was hooked from the very beginning.
I have always loved a good rhyme. And sadly, there aren’t very many children’s books written in good rhyme. Along with my love of children’s books, I have also become rather picky about them. When I came across Kyle Duffy’s rollicking poetry, with hilarious twists and turns in it, I felt like I had found gold! Actually better than gold. What is gold compared to a good book? I have lots of kids (understatement) and so have been reading Dr. Seuss, Eric Carle, Sandra Boynton, etc. to my youngest ones almost every night for close to two decades straight. There is little that excites me more than when we get another book that entertains that very very young crowd. Like some people wait for the Super Bowl, I wait for Mo Willem’s next release. To have found another author like them. Let’s just say it is worth trying to raise $18,000 to start this publishing company, just to be able to have another truly great rhyming book for the very young, to choose from when I want to snuggle up with my 3 year old and read.
Mary Manning befriended my when I first started exploring the mysterious world of publishing, and started editing manuscripts like crazy. This gave me much needed experience and I am grateful to those hundreds of authors who let me edit their stories! I think I first fell in love with her artwork when I saw her piece “The Cheesemaker”.
Her art has such a real feel to it. Our lives (in the culture I am in here in the US) get so caught up in portraying a certain image to others, that I really appreciate her grasp of “just how things are”, the authenticity. She doesn’t try to make them a certain way to appeal to the public, but instead draws what is in such a way that we realize that it is the less than glamorous aspects of her characters, that we relate to and truly love. My other favorite piece of hers is “Sisters”.
She so perfectly captures that emotion of truly knowing each other, all the flaws and the good and the bad, way deep down inside, and just loving all of each other.
The other thing I love about her artwork is that she is not scared of pushing reality.. if you browse her amazing pictures, you will see her stretching the limits of imagination. This is just what Kyle Duffy does with his rhymes, and so when he too fell in love with her artwork, it was a perfect match. His rhymes appeal to even the very young, and the brightness of Mary Manning’s pictures is going to be so good in a picture book coupled with Kyle Duffy’s rollicking rhymes!
The first illustration she has finished, turned out even above my expectations. She has made Rumtum so real, so easy to relate to, and at the same time making us feel better for our uniqueness. But she has also added her touch of whimsy, that is so tantalizing to the imagination.
I have over 50 cousins, all talented in their own unique ways. Nerris Nassiri and I were searching for just the right illustrator to give Charlie and the Hot Air Balloon the exact feel we wanted. Different styles of illustrations can decide the mood of a story so strongly, we wanted just the perfect one. Then the below image came across my FaceBook page, (as I follow most of my cousins).
Without telling Nerris that I even knew the artist at all, I sent it to him, along with a bunch of other samples of artists for him to consider. He too fell immediately in love with it. Here was the exact feeling we were looking for. The exact feeling his words were trying so hard to convey. There was no question about it. Jessica White was the illustrator for his book.
I cannot express my gratitude enough for these amazing illustrators also falling in love with the books, and agreeing to join us in this incredibly enjoyable creative process.”
4) Can you share with us a bit about the Kickstarter you’ve started and how people can invest and share with others?
“I know too well how it feels to not be able to afford books. Almost all of the books I have read have come from libraries. Libraries make it so that books that appeal to those who may not be able to afford books, can afford to exist. They not only give the freedom of knowledge to all, but the preserve the diversity in our literature and media, to benefit all. The big reviewers that help books become widespread in libraries, like to only recommend books that are hard cover and will have enough copies printed that libraries will be able to easily find them. We need to print at least 1,000 copies of each of these titles in order to qualify. So that is exactly what the kickstarter is for. All of the money (and then some) will go directly towards the costs of making these books, (and the short film of Charlie and the Hot Air Balloon).
We would love your help in helping us to reach our goal, so that we can get these books into libraries. We are also in the process of coordinating with Charities that provide children in need with books. Some of the rewards are specifically for donating books, but you can also choose for us to donate any book you pre-order, to a child in need, and we will send you a signed postcard of the book, to show our thanks.
We would also love it if you would share this message as much as possible. The most effective way to help with a kickstarter is contacting friends and family individually. If everybody that reads this, and believes in this cause, will contact those closest to them, and individual ask them to also contribute, even if it is only $1, that is what would help the most.
I then had the great honor of interviewing Kyle Duffy, Author of Rumtum the Sailor.
1) Is this your first children’s book? What is your favourite part of the creative process so far?
“Yes, this is my first children’s book. My favorite part is getting to share a story I created with my daughter and with others. I also really love seeing a talented artist like Mary Manning interpret my story in her art.”
2) Where and when did you get the idea for the story and can you tell us a little bit about it?
“It was just over a year ago soon after our daughter was born. We were living in Brussels, and had been reading nursery rhymes to our daughter every day. I had started complaining to my wife about some of the ones in our rotation that I really didn’t like and she challenged me to write my own. Rumtum the Sailor is about a larger-than-life sailor who sets off on an adventure from which it proves difficult to return.”
3) What inspires you the most when it comes to writing?
“I like this question a lot. If I had to pick one thing that inspires me most it would be the prospect of reading my stories to my daughter and any future children we have and inspiring them to start dreaming up stories of their own.”
4) What is it like for you to see your story come to life in the illustrations?
“It’s incredible. Mary’s illustration of Rumtum with his family is up on our homepage now and every time I see it I’m blown away all over again. Seeing someone with a ton of talent take your idea and put their own spin on it is a really cool experience. I never actually pictured what Rumtum’s kids would look like so seeing her bring them to life was really an awe inspiring moment for me.
We plan to donate as many books as we can to children in need throughout the country. I am especially excited to partner with Bernie’s Book Bank in Chicago area where i live now as they provide books to kids who wouldn’t otherwise have their own to read at home on a quarterly basis for 12 years. I love their mission to further a love for reading among this population.”
My final interview is with the extremely talented, Nerris Nassiri, Author and Film-maker of Charlie and the Hot Air Balloon.
1) Is this the first children’s book you’ve created?
“Yes! I’ve written many stories before, but this is the first time I’ve gone into actually publishing a book.”
2) What is your favourite part of the creative process?
“Being able to breathe life into a character and portray their joys and struggles for an audience to empathize with. The world needs a lot of empathy right now, and I hope to create characters that can bring more of it around.”
3) What inspired you to write this story and can you tell us a little bit about it?
“Charlie and the Hot Air Balloon is a story about a young boy who builds a hot-air balloon to find his mother, who “went to the stars.” In a way, it’s a letter to my younger self. I had some sad childhood experiences and wanted to portray them in an innocent, sort of dreamy and positive way. We’ve all lost someone, and would do anything to get them back. This story tributes that.
Reviews have been mixed so far, but mostly positive. The story may not be for everyone, and that’s okay. It’s a story i wrote for both children who’ve lost, and adults who lost someone in their childhood. It’s my way of saying, “I understand how you feel. You’re not alone.””
4) You’re also developing a screenplay for Charlie and the Hot Air Balloon, how has that experience been for you?
“Exciting! Film-making is what my hands were built for. Bringing words to a visual medium, being able to work with actors and a creative team, all of it is my favourite kind of experience. I’m hesitant to start really working on everything until funding for our Kickstarter is complete. Kickstarter contributors will get a credit in the film, which seems to be getting a lot of people excited as well!”
Below are some of the beautiful rough draft sketches for Charlie and the Hot Air Balloon.
Nerris had already made other films for some of his other stories which i found to be so touching, he is incredibly talented! You can see more of his work at his webpage: Nerris Nassiri and you can find his short films here:
I would like to again say a huge thank you to Sam, Nerris and Kyle for sharing with me and for allowing me to share their beautiful stories with the world. I implore all of you reading to please visit the Kickstarter page A Belletristic Wander and make a contribution. We need more good in the world, especially for the children and what Sam, Nerris and Kyle are aiming to accomplish just goes above and beyond. I look forward to getting the final copy when both books are published so i can post reviews too! I hope you’ve all enjoyed the first edition of The Author’s Lounge, i can’t wait to bring you all more interviews and stories.
ARC provided by Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.
The Huntresses of Artemis must obey two rules: never disobey the goddess, and never fall in love. After being rescued by the Goddess Artemis, Kahina becomes part of the hunt, and now lives amongst the female warriors. On a routine mission things don’t quite go right and Kahina finds herself breaking the first rule to save Atalanta. In order to earn back Artemis’s favour, Kahina is sent to complete a task in the kingdom of Arkadia, which turns out to be where Atalanta came from and where she discovers her father who is in fact, their King. Atalanta’s father is insisting on marrying off his daughter to the highest bidder, Kahina helps Atalanta devise a dangerous game to avoid marriage and when word spreads throughout Greece, fate is tempted as suitors from all over arrive to race Atalanta for her hand in marriage. The game turns deadly when two men from both of their pasts arrive to compete and Kahina finds herself in danger of breaking Artemis’ second rule.
Right from the start you’re introduced to a very large array of characters, it was hard to keep up with at first so I ended up taking notes just to keep track. We have two main characters in this story and the view points change each chapter to show us the story from both their points of view, which I really enjoyed. Atalanta and Kahina, two strong, brave young ladies who have both had tough lives. Atalanta never knew her parents, has spent her life trying to be accepted and finally found her place when she met her best friend Meleager, Prince Meleager that is. Atalanta is handpicked by him with a group of others to hunt down the Goddess Artemis’s Calydonian boar. It’s on this hunt that Atalanta and Kahina come across each other for the first time. Kahina is a huntress of the Goddess Artemis, she and the other huntresses have been tailing Atalanta and their group for some time, they’re to protect the Goddess’s boar at all costs. But something stirs within Kahina and she can’t bare to see Atalanta hurt, she takes a huge risk and thus starts a chain of events she could never have imagined in her wildest dreams. There wasn’t a huge amount of character depth which I feel the story could really use. This was actually my first f/f love story, their relationship had a really slow build and started off similarly to most, with them hating each other for no real reason and getting on each other’s nerves until the things they did to annoy each other became endearing to them.
I love the way this story is told, based on actual mythology and set in Ancient Greece, Elizabeth made this story her own in the most perfect way. I actually thought it was going to be a series, being introduced to so many characters at the start but not having them all properly explained made me feel like this was just the first book, a set up novel to the next two, alas unfortunately I was wrong! A lot happens to Atalanta and Kahina, both of their pasts are quite horrible and had you feeling for them both, these pasts however are what bring the two together. You can tell Elizabeth has done her research but also put quite a bit of herself into the story. It only took me two days to read because the story simply grasped me straight away and I didn’t want to put it down until I knew what happened next. I love all the strong female characters and loathe pretty much most of the men, not sure if that was the intention but all the men, with the exception of two, came off as savage beasts. I would have loved a bit more back story on the magic side of things that happened to Kahina, while reading it felt like there was a lot more that could be told. I would really love to have some prequel stories about the other amazing characters we met, especially on the huntresses. All in all I very much enjoyed reading this book and have no issue recommending it to others, I have no doubt at all that this book will do really well when released later this year.
Hi Guys! So for awhile I’ve been making my own coconut bowls, i use every part of the coconut, the insides even get turned into coconut oil! Here I’ve provided step by step instructions for you. It really is so simple and so sustainable and much cheaper than buying them online if you’re willing to put in a couple of hours work! It’s a really fun activity and if you already have most of the materials it is quite cheap as a coconut will normally set you back between $2.50-$5 AUD.
Hammer and nail
Old Towel (if doing this inside)
Jug or bowl
Saw and a knife
Course Sanding Paper
Mineral Spirits (Mineral Turps)
Raw Linseed Oil
Step 1: Hammer a nail into one of the three nodules in the coconut. You may have to do this a few times to make the hole a bit wider so the juice comes out quicker.
Step two: Drain the juice from the coconut, this process takes about 5 minutes if you shake the coconut. You’ll know when it’s empty as there will no longer be a sloshing sound inside.
Step three: Once drained, using a permanent marker (or any texta) draw a line around where you’ll want to cut it the top off.
Step four: Now using your saw (i used a hand saw and found it easy), cut where you’ve marked until you’re all the way through.
Step five: Microwave your coconut for 2 and a half minutes total, 30 seconds at a time. This makes the insides nice and soft so they’re easier to carve out with your knife.
Step six: Once completely hollowed out you need to sand down the coconut using your sandpaper until it’s smooth.
Step seven: Now depending on what you intend to use your bowl for this step isn’t absolutely necessary. If only decorative you won’t need to waterproof your bowl but if you intend to use it for food like smoothies etc than you must waterproof it.
I created my own mixture which is 2 parts Mineral Spirits and 1 part Raw Linseed Oil, a total of 1/3 of a cup will be enough to do about 7 coats which is more than enough. Use your paintbrush to coat it both inside and out. It dries fairly quickly but i recommend leaving a good 10 minutes between each coat for 5 coats, then leave it for roughly 24 hours and give it another coat.
Your finished product will look something like this though probably a bit lighter as i took the below images while the last coat was drying.
If you do give this a go i would absolutely love to see and hear how you went and get any feedback you may have so feel free to leave a comment on here or tag me in your post on Instagram @bitsandbooks92
Romance novels with mystery and a thriller aspect are my guilty pleasure, and oh boy does this novel pleasure. Dani writes with humour and passion as if she herself is telling her own story in the raunchiest way possible. A lot of authors struggle to write sex scenes and tend to use metaphors and euphemisms to make themselves and their readers more comfortable, Dani says fuck that and dives right in which I absolutely love. Dani keeps us guessing and on edge throughout, wondering where the story will go. The dialogue sometimes feels a little stiff and forced but it’s not really about how they say things and more what is said, the dynamics between some of the characters calls for dialog to be stiff because that’s the characters relationship to each other.
Our protagonist, Brianna, has so much happen to her in such a short time and as I’m reading I seriously just want to be able to get her a huge hug and then other times I want to slap her silly for letting things go over her head. She meets a handsome man named Isaac, they fall in love, they are happy and then one day he just disappears. She then meets another man and his family while trying to move on from Isaac. This man is nothing like her former love, she starts questioning herself and everything about him and his family. Nothing is as it seems.
Dani’s debut novel is a sound success, she writes with passion and confidence and that shines through her characters. Fans of Nora Roberts, Danielle Steele and E.L. James will enjoy this dark, romantic rollercoaster ride.