A riveting review for Carmen Capuano’s “Split Decision” – by Nikki Mason

How could I have missed this?  Nikki Mason of BestChickLit reviewed “Split Decision” in October.  Thank you so much for this very to-the-point review!

View the original review on BestChickLit here.

Split Decision – Carmen Capuano

5156gFgBbJL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_What they say:

How was Natalie to know that the decision she was about to make
between two potential dates, would forever be a pivotal point in her
life? That it would mark the time where childhood innocence ended? How
could she even imagine that the wrong decision would send her life
spiralling into the stuff of nightmares from where she might not come
out alive? Life takes a cruel twist of fate when Natalie, a completely
average [almost] 16 year old, is forced to make a split-second decision…
a decision that will change her future and forever alter her perception
of trust, love and the realities of life.

What we say – review by Nikki Mason:

I have to say that this is one of the darkest young adult books I’ve
ever reviewed. That’s not necessarily a criticism, but there were times
when I felt like a little relief was needed. Having said that, the
intensity and increasing sense of danger and horror were both
incredible.

Natalie is a very privileged, innocent fifteen-year-old. While
shopping with her best friend she is asked out on two dates and must
make the choice of which one to accept. Only, she doesn’t know quite how
significant that choice will be, a choice that could strip away her
cosy life forever.

Natalie is a great character and it’s so interesting to follow her
progress throughout one important evening in two separate scenarios. The
story splits into two “what ifs” once she has picked her date so
readers can see the consequences of either decision, and boy, are there
some consequences! It’s a clever format and very intricately plotted but
in both evenings the fear and violence never feel far away. It’s a
challenging and often uncomfortable read and not for the faint-hearted
but well worth a look if you’re after some true grit.
5156gFgBbJL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_ 

Click Here To Buy This Book – UK

Click Here To Buy This Book – US

Friday Slapstick Portion

:-) Bloggies, don’t get your hopes up, it’s a coincidence that I get another Friday to write another chapter to “A Friday Fairy Tale“.

I was testing out how slapstick would work on my normally unsuspecting readers. It seems to have had a pretty mixed effect. I’m no Terry Pratchett (and his humour is usually much more subtle than slapstick); also this is not my usual style, although sometimes I get bitten by the funny bug and then I write something like “The Racing Finn” just because I want to giggle about it myself. Still, one reader expressed a desire that I should complete the story, and as I value her opinion, I’ll try. (Those who know me, also know that I start a lot more stories than I ever complete. I can’t bring every story into harbour. Many sink along the way. As a ship captain I’d be so fired…)

So here’s an attempt at Chapter 2:

2. The Curse

A curse for Hero Hugo, so he wishes he were dead,” Nadisda repeated to herself as she walked through the scratchy undergrowth. It was hot here, in Faff’s territory. Hot and arid. He liked things warm.

Faff was Nadisda’s mentor. He was also the oldest dragon around. Partly because he was the only dragon around, but that was not all.

Faff had been around in the middle-ages when some people had mistaken his emissions for those of a volcano (because they didn’t ever see them from close-up). He had been around before that. Faff dated back to before the time of the dinosaurs. He had eaten his fair share of dinosaurs. Faff, in fact, was the creature who had always been around. He had survived the terrible slaughter heroes had wreaked on dragons during the Dark Ages. And various other things including being declared a myth.

The way a shark never stops growing as long as it lives, Faff’s formidable knowledge and magic had increased without end through the ages. With it, in time, had come genuine wisdom and insight which had led him to stop eating intelligent life forms and try helping them with their lives instead; and then even more wisdom that dictated to him that it didn’t help to help people, people needed to help themselves; and eventually, enough wisdom to say, bung that, I’ll help them if I feel like it.

Faff had some unique abilities. He lived in all dimensions available. He crossed between worlds freely without the need for portals (which he created and closed again as he went along). He could read minds (of course he could), but could also choose not to, and in many cases he was too lazy to bother. Very often he found to his amusement that when people came to him with a question, if he simply listened to them long enough they would figure it out by themselves. In some cases he’d present them with a small token bauble from his considerable hoard, telling them (falsely) that it was imbued with magic and (correctly) that it would help them focus and solve their own problems. This saved him time.

Faff lay snoozing in the hot afternoon sun when Nadisda approached. He woke up when she tickled his huge nostril with a blade of grass, and he sneezed. Reflexively Nadisda blocked the fire-wave with a shielding spell, waited for him to clear his sight by blinking, and brought him her request.

You’re not coming to me to ask for an answer,” observed Faff. “You already have that.”

Nadisda smiled at the dragon. “You’re right. I’m here to ask for help with the spell itself.”

But you have cast such spells before,” replied Faff, puzzled. “They are your daily fare!”

Not this one,” she said. “This one needs to make him wish he were dead. It has to be just right, and Faff…” she sighed.

Your head gets in your way of doing it just right,” he completed sagely. “Poor girl! Let me give you something…”

Nadisda smiled again and held up her hand. “I know about your jewellery,” she said. “It’s not magical. People simply need something to focus on. That’s not going to help me.”

What I’m going to give you, is magical,” he promised. “And it will focus you.” He dug in his hoard with his massive jaws and picked out a small stone which he delicately passed to her. It was glowing softly.

A moonstone,” Nadisda breathed, impressed. “Loaded with moonlight!”

From the Earth moon, Luna, twelve thousand years back. Use it wisely,” warned Faff. “And bring it back when you are finished!”

Oh, I will,” said Nadisda happily and bounced away. She was nearly home before it occurred to her that she hadn’t had a single magical mishap the whole time that she spoke to the dragon. Perhaps the moonstone was already at work, with its powerful, arcane magic?

Back at her cave, Nadisda got to work. She fetched her favourite cauldron – the one with the fine elderberry patina – and her mortar and pestle, and combed her store-room (which was located in the back of her roomy cave) for the right items. Dried petals from the black Damask rose variety that grew in the palace gardens. A tiniest, tiniest smidgeon of Belladonna, for the opening of the eyes. A handful of pure white sand for romantic beaches and sand in the works. Ground-up clear quartz for reason and logic; a mere hint of obsidian for that touch of the-end-is-nigh. And so on. Doomed, caged, frustrated out of his mind poor Hugo would feel.

The moonstone’s gentle, calm light kept her focus beautifully on track. But just as she put the most critical ingredient into the cauldron – a touch of lipstick from an adulterer’s collar – she heard that familiar crunch on her moss. She huffed in exasperation, and small flames sprang up from the cauldron, which she put out again hastily. Didn’t that forsaken Villain know that she needed to be alone during spellwork?

Wood fairy!” called the Villain. “How far is your curse?”

Neary done,” she called back, hoping he wouldn’t enter.

Valentine, being a true villain, didn’t care what she hoped. He entered. Nadisda’s stress levels started climbing. If she made a mistake now…

Eye of newt and strength of brute,” she whispered the incantation over the cauldron as she stirred, carefully, sunwise, “cat’s claw, snake’s head, iron root…”

A potion?” asked Valentine, surprised. “I thought you’re working on a curse?”

This is a curse,” said Nadisda through gritted teeth. “Or verse. Worse. I mean. Now I lost my place!”

Iron root,” prompted Valentine.

Iron root and rabbit’s snoot,” she continued. “Beautiful evil far afoot. Valentine, get out!”

You speak to me like that?” challenged the Villain.

Shoosh, I can’t concentrate…” She bent lower over the potion, trying to remember what came next. Big bubbles were rising to the surface and popping gloopily. The moonstone dangled a bit too low – and touched the liquid.

There was a blinding flash, and Nadisda was blasted backwards. She fell and knocked her head hard, and passed out. The last impression she had before spiralling into nothingness was a hand grabbing hers, trying to stop her fall.

 

 

 

Evil Facebook

This morning I dared venture onto Facebook just to check if I ought to post something on our music page.  Turns out, no – I should not have.  On the home page (ok come on now – I had to go via the home page to find my group links) someone had posted something about a little boy (he looked maybe ten or eleven on that pic) being mock-arrested by police, on request of his mother, for making trouble in school.

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And the most disturbing thing is that a whole lot of people chipped in, saying that this was a great idea to scare a kid like that and if he was going to be a “little shit” he must just learn.

My heart breaks, do you see the terror on that little face?  Kids “make trouble” at school when they need more attention from Mom!  More parenting.

Of course you realize that this little boy up there will never fully be able to trust his mother again?  Here comes a worse one – in one of the comments, someone mentioned how a mother had her own son arrested for stealing her car and taking it for a joyride with friends.  The boy was a teenager (sounded like he wasn’t yet licensed, 17 or something).  He spent the weekend in prison and came out, to quote her, “so full of HIV he was practically glowing”.  Three months later he was dead.  She didn’t specify if he died of AIDS or suicided.

Mothers, what the hell are you doing?  Since when are children “little shits” just for doing what children have always done – getting up to mischief and testing the limits?  Since when do you condemn your son into the tender care of serious criminals for a weekend as punishment for a joyride in your car (scary, sure, but – really)?  And since when, fathers, do you cut off your daughter’s gorgeous hair, videotape this and plaster it all over Youtube to shame her, for staying out after curfew?  Have you parents lost your minds?

I don’t understand how this world works, anymore.  Sure, our children (the Millennials) are called the “me-generation”, but often I have to wonder.  Really wonder.

A child does not become selfish, greedy and arrogant by itself.  It becomes so as a result of poor upbringing.  There are so many places that tell our kids that they “deserve” this and “deserve” that, and more than half of it is commercialism (advertising to the parents through the child, a.k.a. the “nag factor” as it’s actually known in marketing).  It is up to the parents to debrief their child and explain that having this or that gadget isn’t everything, and that not having it doesn’t make their child a loser nor them bad parents.

So if your child is a spoilt brat – wait, why does this sound so familiar?

“Oompa loompa doompety doo
I’ve got another puzzle for you
Oompa loompa doompety dee
If you are wise you’ll listen to me

Who do you blame when your kid is a brat
Pampered and spoiled like a Siamese cat
Blaming the kids is a lie and a shame
You know exactly who’s to blame

The mother and the father…”

How many parents would even consider relocating to another town (which means switching to a usually less lucrative job) to help their kid overcome a bad circle of friends, a bad school with bullying, or whatever?  How many would consider homeschooling to improve the direct parental influence that shapes a child?  Not too many, I guess.  At least, the ones who do are never the ones who end up in the headlines for rubbish like this!

So, dear Generation-Xers, before you point fingers at the Millennials and call them a “Me-Generation”, take a long hard look in the mirror.

Yes, I’m a Generation-Xer too.  And yes I’m judgemental and holier-than-thou about this!  Sans apology.  Stick that in your pipe and smoke it!

 

Rage_of_the_Red_Dragon

 

A Friday Fairytale (game)

I think I missed the point when I traded Fantasy for Science Fiction as my favourite genre to write in.  (Though I love the challenge of Scifi!)  In Fantasy, it’s not about a wave of a wand that makes fixing things so darned easy.  It’s about wildly over-the-top characters.  Cruella de Ville.  Bellatrix Lestrange.  Morticia Addams.

So here goes – feel free to grab this story introduction and go wild with it!  :-)  If you do, pls tag me in the comments so I can come and read.  I promise I’ll make time for that some time these next 7 days.

Once there was

… a villain so vile, everything he touched turned bad.  Even the grass withered where his unholy feet trod.  In the same land there lived a princess so pure and precious, everyone’s heart melted whenever they merely saw her on telly.  Most of the land was in love with her.  It wasn’t her fault.  And in the same land, there lived a hero so Herculean, the sunlight would glint off his well-oiled muscles and golden hair as he rode by, head held high, on his white steed.  There also lived a heroine so heroic, she would… well, do all the policing and justice work the princess was too pure to perform.  And deep, deep in the woods, in a magic cave lined with Persian mats and hidden behind a spell, there dwelled a magic being … a being so magic, whenever she flexed her prettily manicured hand, something magic would happen.  Her name was Nadisda. (That is pronounced “Na-DEESH-da”.  Ok?)  The author couldn’t decide whether she was a tree spirit, a wood nymph or simply a witch, but truly it matters not, because all that matters was that she was so imbued with magic, it was actually quite a problem.  Because this being had an additional problem.  She had a bit of ADD.  That was on good days.  On worse days, it was ADHD, and seeing that despite television in this land they did not have Ritalin, it was quite a thing.

One day Nadisda was peacefully trying to remember whether she was trying to remove the weeds she had inadvertently planted around her cave to replace them with ferns, or do laundry day (for even in magic lands, nothing washes cleaner than OMO), when she heard a soft step on the moss.  She listened up instantly, because you’re not supposed to hear anything that steps on moss, except this particular step went “crunch”.  By this she knew that her moss had died and she’d have to replant, and in an amazingly lucid moment she jumped to the conclusion that it was the Villain who had come to see her.

Nadisda was a peaceful soul, she didn’t mind if good or evil paid her a visit (good was in fact harder to endure, in this particular land).  She smiled sweetly.

“Hello, Valentine!  How nice to see you…  would you like some tea? – oh wait, you’re the one who doesn’t like tea, or is that Hugo…”

“Close that gap in your face and listen,” replied Valentine the vile Villain.  “You have magic.  Too much for your own good, to my mind.  But today you could do me a favour.”

Nadisda had had conversations with the Villain before, and she knew that it was best to simply nod.  Sometimes it was even better that all you did was blink.  But today, she sensed Valentine was in a good mood, as good as it got, and she felt that nodding was safe.  So she did.  Overhead, a branch sprouted a wealth of white blossoms.

“Excellent,” replied Valentine.  “I’m so pleased you’re the type who does favours.  I need you to work out a curse for the Hero.”

Nadisda’s eyes went wide with surprise, but she nodded again.  The Villain’s red coat accidentally changed to green.

“You… you want me to kill him?” she asked, knowing that there would be implications – if she could only remember what they were.

The Villain laughed.  “Oh no, not kill…  that would be by far too kind for that pompous nit.  I want a curse that will make him wish he were dead.”

“A curse is black magic,” Nadisda pointed out needlessly.

“Can’t you do it?” asked Valentine, taken aback.

“Of course I can, but black magic always has repercussions.”

“Ah, that,” laughed Valentine.  “It will probably only mean that Haley the perfect heroine will come after you and lock you in the clink.  Surely that’s no problem for you?  You can magick yourself out of there faster than the blink of an eye, can’t you?”

Nadisda pulled a doubtful face.  (A little spring welled up out of the ground under the Villain’s feet and he had to jump aside quite suddenly to keep his designer shoes from getting too soaked.)  Yes, she could; but even prison breaks had consequences, she was sure of that.  Besides she could never quite remember the whole sequence for her vanishing spell.

“Oh, don’t worry,” said the Villain impatiently, “I’ll protect you.  Good enough?  You’ll cast that curse?”

Nadisda nodded.  A tangle of vines began to grow from overhead, encroaching on Valentine.  Nadisda’s mind was on gardening this morning.

“Excellent,” said the Villain and made a hasty getaway.

“A curse,” Nadisda repeated to herself.  “A curse on Hugo.  So he wishes he were dead.”  She sat down on a moss-covered log that had conveniently sprang out of the ground to accommodate her shapely hindquarters, and absently waved a hand in the direction of the withered moss which returned to life and burst into bloom.  Or more specifically, into sporophytes.

She watched those strange little flowers that were not flowers, flower on the resurrected zombie moss, and carefully let her mind wander (keeping it on a rope however in case it got lost again).  Sporophytes.  Moss.  Hero Hugo.  Valentine.  And suddenly she had it.

“Uranium!” she shouted, jumping up and causing several masked weaver nests to grow clusters of noses on a tree opposite, which duly started sneezing, scaring the baby birds.  “No, wait, what was that word – Eu…  Euphorbium…  whatever, I have it!”

 

…  and on that cliffhanger of cliche, I leave you to it ;-).   Have fun, hopefully.

~ gipsika ~

Short note

To whom it may concern:

  1.  LOL sorry about the terribly Sherwood Forest style post last week.  That use of language irritates me dreadfully!

 

Update:

Wild One 1 is sorted, settled into the start of what she wants to do during her gap year.  Weight off my mind.  Wild One 2 is happily back in high school rhythm.  Wildest One is still getting a bit of a break – with homeschooling, preparation (of the parental) is everything.  Seeing that kids absorb a lot more work a lot faster in homeschool than in school, this bit of a gap isn’t worrying me in the least (though it is making my relatives uneasy even though they saw my past success in homeschooling).

The Studio is working nicely.

Not spending such large amounts of time online is also paying off, for my sanity.  Thank you for being understanding, friends.

P’kaboo:  Only some thoughts…  I was thinking of refreshing and modernizing the site (i.e. simplifying it, if this is even possible); we do have a number of manuscripts in the burner.  Deadines for launches:  Not yet set.  Print runs:  The future is currently not mine to predict.  I can’t say.

schroedingerscat

Disclaimer: Image pirated here: http://www.quickmeme.com/meme/3utmn3

 

Signing off

gipsika