Friday 27 December 2013

The Cephalopod Coffeehouse Book Review - Memories of Murder, Yolanda Renee

Hello there, book lovers. Greetings from Spain! 

Spending many hours on planes helps with the reading. I have been reading blogger e-books in my travel downtime. Today I'm reviewing Yolanda Renee's Memories of Murder, the second in her Detective Steven Quaid murder mystery series. I don't know how many people will be reading blogs after the joys of Christmas feasts, but here we go...

Thanks to Armchair Squid who organises the monthly book reviews. The idea of the Coffeehouse is simple: on the last Friday of each month, post about the best book you've finished over the past month while visiting other bloggers doing the same.  In this way, we'll all have the opportunity to share our thoughts with other enthusiastic readers.  Please join us:

An Amazon review is more helpful than a blog review, so being short of time as I travel, I first wrote the Amazon/Goodread's review and am pasting an updated version below. 

The second in the series of the Detective Quaid Mysteries kept me riveted throughout. I'd enjoyed meeting the characters, artist Sarah Palmer and Detective Steven Quaid in the first book, Murder, Madness and Love, and found Yolanda Renee's writing style to be fast and furious as she takes the reader on a whirlwind ride as Sarah and Steven attempt to overcome obstacles to their relationship. This time the settings include Paris!

It is often a cliche to say you couldn't put a book down, but that is how these books affected me. I was often annoyed with Sarah's decisions in the first book, feeling her desire to be independent put herself and those around her at risk, and Sarah's independence continues to be a plot mover in the second book which I have just finished. Will the damage and pain she has suffered in the past allow her to accept help from those around her?

In Memories of Murder there is the ghastly spectre of Lucifer, the all-to-real demon who haunts Sarah's dreams, turning them into nightmares that she paints in an effort to make sense of what she is experiencing. Lucifer's desire is to have Sarah, and it is Detective Steven Quaid's mission to find Lucifer before he kills any more innocent victims on his quest to have Sarah. At times the macabre scenes are repugnant, so be prepared for blood and gore in the demonic rituals. (Side note: Yolanda adds explanations for these rituals at the end of her book).

Despite the gruesome machinations of Lucifer, the love story between Steven and Sarah is the central theme of the book. Their on-again of-again relationship is frustrating for the reader who just wants them to get over their distrust, their misunderstandings, their insecurities and their careers which put obstacles in the way of their relationship. There are those who seek to steal their love - Scott Chase is still determined to have Sarah, and Alice the Terrible, who was brought into the case as a professional to supposedly help Sarah, does everything she can to keep Steven away from Sarah and to have Steven for herself. What is annoying is that both Steven and Sarah allow themselves to be manipulated by those around them and believe the worst of each other, even though they love each other deeply. 

All through the novel with its central plot and sub plots, the reader wonders - will Sarah survive? Will Lucifer be brought down? Will Sarah and Steven come to trust each other enough to allow their love to win over all? How will such a driven couple ever let their love take precedence over their careers?

Read Memories of Murder to find out how/if they work their way through the obstacles.

About this author
I really wanted to be a drummer, or a race car driver. Obviously I'm neither, but they are on my bucket list, that and owning my very own fire breathing dragon!

I've always loved books and it was through books that I escaped and experienced all the things I'd only been able to dream about - through the stories, the characters, and the places created by talented authors. From Caroline Keene, Judy Bolton, Agatha Christie, Harold Robbins, Danielle Steele, and my all time favorite Stephen King. Now I read K J Larsen , Jennifer Hillier, Joanie McDonell, Maryann Miller, J D Robb, well, pretty much everyone and anyone who gets their words in front of me! I LOVE BOOKS!

I've always been a writer, always loved making things up - a crazy imagination is a good thing - or is it just being crazy?

You decide!(less)

  • I have lots of Amazon Gift Cards to put to good use, so if you can recommend a great e-book for me to buy, please do so!
  • Have you read Yolanda's Detective Quaid series? What did you think?
  • Thinking about New Year's resolutions? Sign up now for Write...Edit...Publish's January challenge - NEW BEGINNINGS.

There is a full list of the next 6 month's WEP challenges in my side bar and on the WEP site.

Monday 23 December 2013

Test Your Christmas IQ - something fun for Christmas!

Happy Holiday Season Everyone!

Greetings from Malaga, Spain.

I hope your holidays are going well (if you are actually on holidays!) or you're able to chill a little at this time of year. Hope you're travelling safe if, like me, you're on the road or in the air. I've had a great time so far - Amsterdam, Paris, Prague and Spain, with Portugal and Morocco still to come, before flying back to Paris then home to Oz, which hopefully will have most of its hot summer weather out of the way. Just kidding. It will be hot until at least the end of February.

Meanwhile I came across this quiz in an EasyJet magazine on the flight to Prague. I enjoyed it and thought I'd share it with you. With thanks to Jack Palfrey and Sam Pothecary.


Can you spot the festive falsehoods?
I hope yule love it...


  1. Scientists say Rudolph's red nose is because of infection. T/F
  2. Santa Claus wears red to symbolise Jesus turning water into wine. T/F
  3. The 'true love' mentioned in 'The Twelve Days of Christmas' refers to God. T/F
  4. Kissing under the mistletoe references an affair between Vidarr, the Norse God of the forest, and Elli, the goddess of old age. T/F
  5. Crackers originally symbolised an assassination attempt on Pope Julius 111 in 1752. T/F
  6. In Poland, spiders and spiders' webs are common decorations. T/F
  7. Stockings come from the Hungarian tradition of washing socks on 24 December. T/F
  8. The Swedish made the first artificial trees out of dyed pheasant feathers. T/F
  9. 120 million Christmas trees are grown each year in Europe. T/F
  10. Christmas pudding was originally a thick soup with raisins and wine in it. T/F
  11. Presents used to be wrapped to prevent rats from eating them. T/F
  12. Workers in Spain get a Christmas bonus of one month's salary by law. T/F
  13. In Serbia, Santa is a woman who gives the children a kiss while they're sleeping. T/F
  14. In the Middle Ages, the traditional Christmas meal in England was pig's head and mustard. T/F
  15. In Estonia, the festive meal is a stew made from seal meat and chestnuts. T/F
  16. Since 1947, Oslo has sent a Christmas tree to London to thank the British for their help in World War 11. T/F
  17. The first bit of music played in space was 'Jingle Bells'. T/F
  18. Christmas is the most common time of year for couples to break up. T/F
  19. Christmas trees are fed dried banana peels during germination to help them develop their deep green colour. T/F
  20. In Russia, it's considered unlucky to give teddies as presents, because bear attacks are common in wintertime. T/F


 15-20 YOU ARE SANTA, THE RIGHTFUL OVERLORD OF CHRISTMAS. You scoff in the face of any mere mortal who asks you which winter berries to add to a mince pie. Travelling a mere 510,000,000km on Christmas Eve is no problem so long as there's a glass of eggnog waiting for you when you get home.

8-14 YOU ARE RUDOLPH. Unfortunately, your ruminant mammal brain prohibits you from absorbing all things Christmassy, but 365 days a year under Santa's guidance has given you some basic wisdom.

0-7 YOU ARE SCROOGE. Christmas isn't your thing. Your prefer high interest loans and Victorian workhouses. Try not to bah humbug your way through the festive season, retaining a certain amount of information is crucial if you want to become less of a grump.


  1. TRUE
  2. FALSE
  3. TRUE
  4. FALSE
  5. FALSE
  6. TRUE
  7. FALSE
  8. FALSE
  9. FALSE
  10. TRUE
  11. FALSE
  12. TRUE
  13. FALSE
  14. TRUE
  15. FALSE
  16. TRUE
  17. TRUE
  18. TRUE
  19. FALSE
  20. FALSE 
  Thank you for coming by. Thank you to my followers and casual visitors who've read my blog for the past year/s. I hope you'll continue to visit me in the New Year. Meanwhile, have a wonderful holiday season and a happy, safe New Year.

Here's the happy couple chilling in the winter sun in Paris

Whether or not you make New Year's Resolutions, Write...Edit...Publish invites you to post on the topic NEW BEGINNINGS - maybe you have a flash fiction piece, a true story, some pictures...share with us! Sign up here....

Tuesday 17 December 2013

Christmas Greetings from Paris. My Write...Edit...Publish entry - Feast of the 7 Fishes (Italy)

Hello everyone!

I am in Paris, enjoying my second Paris pre-Christmas season. Now the Christmas tradition in our family back home is to all gather together and celebrate this wonderful time of the year at the beach. In Australia it's always hot and humid in December, so most, but not all, have given up on the hot roast, preferring BBQ, prawns and cheesecake over the traditional fare enjoyed by those in the Northern Hemisphere.

So seeing as my holiday is mainly in Europe, I'm going to share an extract from a book I finished just before I flew out - The Garden of Evil by David Hewson, a favourite author. Hewson has been described as an author '...for those who like a sprinkling of culture with their crime thriller.' That would be me. I'd never come across this tradition before, so my Christmas Tradition tale is from glorious Italy, a very Catholic country!

The extract is from the protagonist Detective Nic Costa's, point of view. I have rearranged words so it makes more sense for the post. And in case you think I'm crazy posting while in Paris, this has been pre-scheduled before I flew out...

La Vigilia

The feast of the 7 fishes on Christmas Eve.

La Vigilia was already stealing over Rome; Christmas Eve, a pause from the rush and chaos of everyday life. 

The food: seven fishes. No real Roman ate meat at La Vigilia. It was always fish, by tradition seven types, one for every Catholic sacrament. 

On opening the door, a succession of aromas and fragrances wafted out from the kitchen, sending a strong sense of urgent hunger rumbling through Nic's stomach.

"What is this?" a guest asked.

"It's La Vigilia, Christmas Eve."

His invited guests sat around the long table in the dining room. Nic sat at the head, guiding them through the spread of food which his housekeeper had prepared. It seemed to grow with every passing minute; cold seafood salad, salt cod, mussels, clams, shrimps, a small lobster, then finally capitone, a large female eel, split into pieces and roasted in the oven wreathed in bay leaves. 

"This is obsene," someone cried.

He went to the kitchen and came back with a plate of sweet cakes and a bowl full of small presents wrapped in gold paper.

"Choose from the bowl," he said. "Then we take a little wine and go to Midnight Mass."

The cannon fired from the Castel Sant'Angelo.

He refilled their glasses with prosecco. "The cannon means that Midnight Mass is not far away. Another year navigated. Another year to come."

An extract from The Garden of Evil, David Hewson, Part 14, THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS.

WORD COUNT: extract - 225

I hope you liked my entry for the WEP December TRADITIONS blogfest. To read more entries, click on the names in my right-hand sidebar.

Seeing as I'm in Paris, I will leave you with a classy photo of that gorgeous city.

Next stop...Spain.

Tuesday 10 December 2013

Going to Pot in Amsterdam, and experiencing Anne Frank house...

Hello there!

Well I'm having a marvellous time in the Northern winter, how about you? America looks scary at the moment. 

When I was in Amsterdam there was the mighty wind storm. Thankfully it just lasted the day...the day we took a trip into the country. Got absolutely blown away every time we stepped outside, but on the bright side the windmills were turning. I think Amsterdam is definitely best visited in summer! Although the Christmassy feel was at times dazzling.

The view from our hotel

This was my first trip to Amsterdam, but of course I knew about the coffee shop culture. Still, nothing like seeing it for yourself.

Just a couple of coffee shops near our hotel. 

Loved the art in a little alley...

The best thing about Amsterdam is to just stroll around the streets and alleyways. So much to discover. So many niche shops. 

However, the highlight of my visit was always going to be to experience the Anne Frank huis (house). I left it until the last day as I knew it would depress me. It wasn't that depressing, just so poignant to think I was moving through the rooms of this little girl's home, seeing the blacked-out windows, feeling the claustrophobia of being shut in for two years. Photos weren't allowed for whatever reason, but I will show you the facade of the building which was obvious to the Nazis, being just another canal house. 

The little white plaque shows the entry door to the building which was a manufacturing warehouse during the war. The Annex where Anne Frank and her family and others were hiding is in the back of this building. You can see the canal homes from across the canal reflected in the windows. This is the bare chestnut tree Anne saw from the attic.

What the Nazis didn't know until some unknown betrayer told them, was that hidden behind a bookcase in the building, Jews were hiding out on two back floors and an attic. 

There are quotes from Anne's diary throughout The Annex, which add to the impact of the experience. 

In the words of Anne on 23 February, 1944...

"I go to the attic almost every morning to get the stale air out of my lungs. This morning when I went up there, Peter was busy cleaning up. The two of us looked out at the blue sky, the bare chestnut tree glistening with dew, the seagulls and other birds glinting with silver as they swept through the air." 

The rooms were laid bare by the Nazis when they arrived that fateful morning to take them away, and Otto Frank, (Anne's father), the only survivor from those hiding out, didn't want it refurnished when the house was opened as a museum in 1960. He wanted this house to be a metaphor for all the Jews had lost during the time of Holocaust. Instead, he had a huge scale model made so visitors can see it as it was.

THE original Diary is on display, the one she was given on her thirteenth birthday, before they moved into The Annex. Anne's writing is everywhere behind glass. She also wrote short stories. She was planning on being a novelist when the war was over and was re-writing her diary when she was taken away. Writing kept her sane during the horrendous time. 

"When I write I can shake off all my cares. My sorrow disappears, my spirits are revived."                 April 5, 1944.

Sadly, her life was cut short. She died of typhus in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp only one month before the end of the Nazi occupation. She believed all her family was dead, so gave up hope, according to her life-long friend who used to throw packages over the fence for Anne.

My most treasured possession from my trip will be the replica Anne Frank diary I bought. Lots of facts about Anne at the front, and lovely blank white pages thereafter. Not sure what I'll write in it yet... 

Standing looking towards Anne's house. She was denied this view throughout her incarceration. Geo is holding my precious diary in the style of Anne's.

After leaving the house, I just wanted to find a little hole somewhere and cry my eyes out...not just for Anne, but for all those who suffer and die in the name of prejudice, hate, greed and whatever motivates humans to turn on humans. Plenty of that still going on. As Marcus Zusak says through his narrator Death in the fabulous novel, The Book Thief, "I am haunted by humans."

But instead of moping, we walked along the canals through snowy scuds to the Van Gogh museum. How splendid was that! Many of his 800 paintings and drawings are on display over 3 floors. 

So now I have arrived in Paris and am taking photos of pretty things to recuperate, although France has plenty of war wounds.

Yesterday we visited the medieval city of Provins, north east of Paris. Was amazing. Today we're heading for Champs Elysee. Stay tuned for a Paris post before too long. Want more? I post nearly every day on facebook.

Meanwhile, it's hard promoting Write...Edit...Publish while on the move. I'd love you to sign up and share something about your Christmas/Holiday traditions...simple but uplifting maybe??

  • Have you been to Amsterdam? What was your experience?
  • Have you visited Anne Frank house? How did it affect you?
  • Have you read The Diary of Anne Frank? (It's published in 70 languages, so Anne got her wish to be a published author.)
  • If you enjoyed this post, please share...

Wednesday 4 December 2013

Insecure Writers Support Group Post - December - Will I ever submit a manuscript?

Hello from Amsterdam! Brr..brr...Midsummer in Oz, to this...

Yeah, it's pretty cold up here!

Aren't I clever posting from The Netherlands! Well, I missed last month's IWSG post due to being flat out with NaNo, so I couldn't miss two in a row or Alex might strike me off the list.

Click here for more posts 

So what am I insecure about? Well, other than everything, I'm insecure about ever getting a manuscript ready to submit to a publisher, but the time is getting closer. I've nearly got one romance polished to distraction, and the story I wrote over this year's NaNo is pretty interesting -- an historical fiction set in Gallipoli, Ireland and Australia. Such fun to research. I'm nothing if not versatile. Due to the amount of research needed, I gave up on the word count and after writing 30k words, I continued to research.

I hope to post regularly on my travels. Will be in Amsterdam for two more days, then off to Paris for two weeks. During that time we will be visiting Prague, so that will be an exquisite first!

  • So, if you're published, self or traditional, how did you know when to let your baby loose on the world?
  • Join Write...Edit...Publish for the Christmas 'TRADITIONS' blogfest. What traditions do you follow over the holiday season? Post on December 18th, one week before Christmas Day.