Details…

29829833_219775592101189_483882070_oI’ve had this feather in the main picture a while now. I don’t know what bird it came from, I found it in the garden and it’s only a little feather, perhaps about half an inch long, but I am fascinated by it.

The fact that it’s striped in tabby cat colours – delicate cream and brown – first caught my attention, but then I stopped to look again and marvel at the detail involved in this tiny thing.

Each fibre of feather is closely joined to its neighbour by a little hook and eye system, I think they’re actually called barbules and hooklets, something like that. Then the downy fluff at the base, soft and grey, designed to be both light and warm, all attached to the quill, a perfectly Engineered construction both light and hollow to help reduce weight in flight.

Feathers are supposed to symbolise spiritual ascension… but I just liked it, so I’ll probably keep it a while longer.

Alex and I went into Nottingham last week, and to be honest, I thought I’d had a funny turn – across the Market Square I saw a large orange fox. I was amazed by it – there was an elephant too, a beautiful construction of gears and cogs, covered with organza material.

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The fox could turn its head and blink, while the elephant could flap its ears and raise its trunk. They were part of the Nottingham Festival of Puppetry that was taking place that week. I don’t really care for puppets but I was very taken with the ingenuity of these animals.

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From something so tiny to something quite large – it’s said the Devil is in the detail but I prefer to think it’s Someone Else…

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REVIEW: “The Curse Of Time : Book One – Bloodstone” By M.J.Mallon

Something a little different today… regular readers might remember a few months ago (Mookaite And Model Cats) Lily did some picture work for the book above, as written by my good friend Marje. I am very pleased to welcome her here to CrystalCats and I was extremely excited to be able to read her book, give it a review and share it with everybody here. ( I must state that I received an advanced reader’s copy of this book in exchange for a fair review, and all opinions within are my own.)

Cue best china and the special biscuits, as after my review there is a wonderful interview with the author herself, including social media links and an excerpt from the book, featuring Shadow the cat. I hope you enjoy it!

So… where shall I begin? The author has a talent for description, delicate bubbles of imagery that burst in the mind and help create the multi-layered mystery. She deals deftly with some very current issues such as family dysfunction and self-harming that her main character, Amelina, must deal with in addition to struggling with her own feelings and impulses as she approaches her 16th birthday.

The story is compelling and we meet some very interesting characters along the way. Amelina is helped by crystals (of course) and sometimes by her cat Shadow (there we go!) A new entry to YA fiction, this book is a charming blend of teenage angst, family, magic and crystal lore.

And here’s Marje herself!


I am a debut author who has been blogging for three years at my lovely blog home Kyrosmagica: My interests include writing, photography, poetry, and alternative therapies. I write Fantasy YA, middle grade fiction and micro poetry – haiku and Tanka. I love to read and have written over 100 reviews: https://mjmallon.com/2015/09/28/a-z-of-my-book-reviews/

My alter ego is MJ – Mary Jane from Spiderman. I love superheroes! I was born on the 17th of November in Lion City: Singapore, (a passionate Scorpio, with the Chinese Zodiac sign a lucky rabbit,) second child and only daughter to my proud parents Paula and Ronald. I grew up in a mountainous court in the Peak District in Hong Kong with my elder brother Donald. My parents dragged me away from my exotic childhood and my much loved dog Topsy to the frozen wastelands of Scotland. In bonnie Edinburgh I mastered Scottish country dancing, and a whole new Och Aye lingo.

As a teenager I travelled to many far-flung destinations to visit my abacus wielding wayfarer dad. It’s rumoured that I now live in the Venice of Cambridge, with my six foot hunk of a EsmeRock God husband, and my two enchanted daughters. After such an upbringing my author’s mind has taken total leave of its senses! When I’m not writing, I eat exotic delicacies while belly dancing, or surf to the far reaches of the moon. To chill out, I practise Tai Chi. If the mood takes me I snorkel with mermaids, or sign up for idyllic holidays with the Chinese Unicorn, whose magnificent voice sings like a thousand wind chimes.

Books by M J Mallon:
The Curse of Time – Book 1 – Bloodstone

Blurb:
Fifteen-year-old Amelina Scott lives in Cambridge with her dysfunctional family, a mysterious black cat, and an unusual girl who’s imprisoned within the mirrors located in her house. When an unexpected message arrives inviting her to visit the Crystal Cottage, she sets off on a forbidden pathway where she encounters Ryder, a charismatic, but perplexing stranger.

With the help of a magical paint set, and some crystal wizard stones she discovers the truth about a shocking curse that has destroyed her family’s happiness.

Title: The Curse of Time Book 1 – Bloodstone

Kindle Publication date: 27th August 2017

Genre: YA/Paranormal Fantasy

Pages: 237

ASIN: B074CDJPY9

Buy Book: myBook.toTheCurseofTime

Intended Paperback Release date – April 2018

Genre: YA/Paranormal Fantasy

Pages: 240

ISBN: 9781999822439

Book Design: https://wendyannedarling.wordpress.com/

Photography Credit: Dr John C Taylor, OBE: http://www.johnctaylor.com/
Paperback includes additional material – two black and white illustrations by Artist – Carolina Russo. https://yesterdayafter.com/

Edited by: https://colleenchesebro.com

Buy Paperback Book link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Curse-Time-Book-Bloodstone/dp/1999822439/
Unique Selling Point: Unique, Imaginative, ‘Charming, enchanting and richly layered this is purely delightful.’

Excerpt:

Feeling lost and alone, a prisoner in my own tortured thoughts, I noticed the company of Shadow. He slipped next to me, and the only sound I heard, was the continuous soft padding of his feet walking towards me. He rubbed against my legs almost as if he knew I needed a hug. With his blue-black silky fur and white patch on his neck, the cat’s vibrant green eyes held my attention. This cat exuded handsomeness, and he knew it. I smiled, glad for his presence.
As I walked back towards home, my thoughts returned to Ryder, and how he’d promised he’d take me out on Saturday. It felt like such a long time had passed since I’d last seen him, but it had only been a few days. I had this impression that time had stretched to its utmost point, and it now waited to return to some semblance of normality. I gulped, unsure, and unsettled.
Nothing stirred at all in the garden, apart from Shadow’s panther-like movements which I watched with a mixture of amusement, and trepidation. The cat sat poised at the bottom of the garden fence, and I sensed he lingered waiting for something to happen. My eyes never left him. Yet, in the blink of an eye, he had vanished from my sight. Confused, I rubbed my eyes and looked again, but no sight of him remained. Shadow had vanished. I paused and glanced over my shoulder. Perhaps my eyes were playing tricks on me? It had all happened so quickly that I couldn’t quite believe what I’d just witnessed.
In a flash, Shadow reappeared out of thin air. I drew back and blinked my eyes in amazement. I remembered that he’d done this before. The cat’s personality never ceased to amaze me. There was something quite startling about that feline, which added another piece to the mystery of my everyday life. At that moment, I wished Shadow could talk and tell me why he did such strange things.
I bent down and rewarded his reappearance with a pat of his silky fur. ‘Hey, there you are, you peculiar, disappearing, crazy cat.’ Shadow meowed and sauntered off, his tail raised in the air in the shape of a question mark. I laughed at his composure. I could swear that the cheeky fellow winked at me as he left.
My heart swelled with the love I felt for Shadow. ‘Thank goodness, I have you. You don’t let me down. Sometimes you disappear, but you always come back. My faithful Shadow.’ The cat stopped, turned, and retraced his steps towards me. He arched his back in a graceful curve as he twisted around my legs once more. This time he answered me with a purr in a richer, deeper, note that escaped from his whiskered face like a melody. It wasn’t hard to figure out that Shadow had understood what I had said.

The pre-release blog tour begins in April with my #ABRSC club pals, followed by a release tour with Neverland Blog Tours. (Jenny Marston is also a #ABRSC member!) http://neverlandblogtours.weebly.com/

Social Media:

Authors Website: https://mjmallon.com

Collaborative blog: https://sistersofthefey.wordpress.com

Twitter: @Marjorie_Mallon and @curseof_time

My Facebook: Authors/Bloggers Support Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1829166787333493/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17064826.M_J_Mallon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mjmallonauthor/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mjmallonauthor/

Tumblr: http://mjmallonauthor.tumblr.com/

Collaborations:
Carolina Russo has created two wonderful portraits of my characters which feature in my paperback which is due for release in April. Below you can see the full colour version of the images, please note the paperback images are in black and white.

Esme and The Creature

The above images are Copyright ©Carolina Russo: https://yesterdayafter.com

Fun facts about Marje:

  1. I wish I could be wonder woman or MJ from Spiderman.
  2. I adore crystals, alternative therapies, the unusual and the strange. I’m a qualified Aromatherapist, Reflexologist, (I no longer work as a therapist instead I devote my spare time to reading, writing, blogging and reviewing.)
  3. Some say that I am a white witch…my blogging friends confer and have included me in the Sisters of The Fey, a writerly collaboration.
  4. My husband can’t remember asking me to marry him and neither can I. He suspects I cast a spell on him!
  5. I have travelled to many foreign destinations, including: Papua New Guinea, Fiji, the Caribbean, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Rome, Venice, France, Germany, Spain, Belgium and Portugal. I would love the funds to travel some more!
  6. I currently work as a receptionist in a massive building, home to twenty companies. In quiet moments I observe peoples’ mannerisms, listen to snippets of gossip and dream up new story ideas.
  7. I love food! Asian food and anything spicy, yum…My mother is Malaysian and my father is Scottish so I grew up with a very varied diet.
  8. My motto is to do what you love! Stay true to your heart’s desires, remain young at heart, and inspire others to do so, even if the odds are stacked against you like black-hearted shadows.
  9. I studied Communication Studies at University, (marketing, media studies, public relations, etc.) My degree is coming in mighty handy now.
  10. I love cats but don’t own one (my husband and daughter are allergic,) so I adopted a virtual black cat called Lily who looks like my black cat character Shadow in my book: https://mjmallon.com/2017/05/17/shadow-welcomes-lily-the-cat-to-kyrosmagica/
  11. I have so many writing projects and so little time! I am a writing butterfly so this pains me greatly!
  12. I am an original! I have been to every single Bloggers Bash until now. http://sachablack.co.uk/annual-bloggers-bash/
  13. I have met the inventor of The Corpus Christi Chronopage clock – Dr John C Taylor, OBE who kindly gave me permission to use his images in my book. http://www.johnctaylor.com/the-chronophage/
  14. I interview my fictional characters on my blog. Currently you can meet: Shadow: https://mjmallon.com/2017/05/11/my-interview-with-shadow-a-black-cat-character-with-a-past/: https://mjmallon.com/2017/08/20/mj-interviews-amelina-the-curse-of-time-bloodstone-sundayblogshare/Ryder: https://mjmallon.com/2017/07/02/mj-interviews-ryder-the-curse-of-time-bloodstone/ The Creature: https://mjmallon.com/2018/02/20/mj-interviews-the-creature/ Esme The Mirror Girl: https://mjmallon.com/2018/02/23/mj-interviews-esme-the-mirror-girl/

Finalist in Authorsdb Book Cover Contest

Winner of Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge no. 7 with my murderous flash – Mr Blamey: https://carrotranch.com/2017/12/19/winner-of-flash-fiction-contest-7/

Goodbye xx

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Fly fast, little bird

It won’t take long –

Not now as your wings are strong

Full of joy

And eyes so bright –

Hurry home by angel’s light

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Walter and Lulu are waiting for you

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                               xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx LUCKY xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

                                       24th August 2008 ~ 26th March 2018

Hemimorphite And Hisses

29251460_217471818998233_951516155_oAlex was given the piece pictured by a lovely lady, from the crystal community, and to be honest, I never really paid it much attention. I dusted it… moved it around…displayed it nicely… then one day it was sitting in a beam of sunlight and it sparkled. Which caught my attention, so of course I thought I would investigate further.

Now, Hemimorphite is actually an extremely protective stone, but also a very compassionate one too. It brings self knowledge and can show you how to develop your inner strength. It can give you the courage to voice your deepest fears and by acknowledging them, release them.

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Hemimorphite can help you achieve your highest realistic potential whilst maintaining a healthy balance and awareness of your own humanity. It’s a lovely gentle stone to help promote both physical and spiritual health, making you aware of ingrained emotional patterns you need to dissolve. It was also traditionally used to protect against malicious thoughts and deeds…

Cats can be pretty malicious… most obviously in deed… perhaps less so in thought. For example, I actually find it quite terrifying (and funny) when my cats hiss… When Alex came home for the Easter holiday last week, it was late so I had already gone to bed. Charlie was curled up comfortably beside me, and fast asleep.

We heard Alex come in with his father downstairs and he came rushing up to see me and say hello.

Oh Charlie, what a lovely girl, have you missed me?!”

With outstretched arms and smiling face Alex leaned towards the cat to give her a kiss, no doubt expecting the same level of love and affectionate greeting as he would have received from the other cats.

Charlie whipped her head around, as fast as a striking snake, opened her mouth REALLY wide and HISSED! She hissed loud and fiercely, drawing on the power of all her mighty feline relatives… the powerful tiger … the graceful snow leopard … the elegant ocelot… and a bit of snake.

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Her fangs gleamed, white and deadly in my bedroom light and her eyes glowed with anger. Her temper was not any further improved by the fact that we were so taken aback by this extreme demonic reaction that we … laughed.

She did, however, earn herself another title, to go with “Princess Charlotte Oddpaw”… “Grand Mistress Of The Hiss” !

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H.R.H. Princess Charlotte Oddpaw and Grand Mistress Of The Hiss

Animal Incidents

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As regular readers know, my many encounters with various representatives of the Animal Kingdom have a variety of outcomes, often ending with aforesaid creature affixing teeth into various parts of my anatomy, or leaving me in tears… of laughter.

Here are a few examples of the latter… When I was younger, I was fortunate enough to visit a few countries on holiday with my mother – a memorable one was Crete. We were walking back to the hotel one afternoon after a pleasant day of sight-seeing when my mother spied a very large, very green grasshopper, sitting, with no apparent regard for its own safety in the middle of the pavement.

Oh look, poor thing, I have to rescue it!”

She swooped down on it and picked it up, where it lay happily enough, along the length of her finger. We went about twenty paces, me exclaiming at the bravery of my mother in saving the poisonously green insect, when it wiggled its mandibles vigorously, stretched them open really wide and BIT the tip of my mother’s finger.

She screamed and shook her hand furiously, flicking the creature into a conveniently placed flowerbed.

Bloody thing!! No gratitude at all!

I laughed…

Another incident involved Alex – we used to have a pair of pet rats, who enjoyed having time out to play in the front room. Alex was only about three at the time and he was eating a sweet. He bent down to look at one of the rats and the sweet fell out of his mouth… just as he reached out to get it, the other rat darted past and grabbed the sweet and ran under the sofa with it. Alex gave a scream of rage – he was enjoying that sweet! – and flung himself on the floor with his arm outstretched under the sofa in an attempt to retrieve it.

I laughed…

Now, this next incident I didn’t personally witness, but I heard so many retellings of it from various sources it became almost legendary. Alex went on a school trip to “Monkey Forest”, a wildlife park that is mainly devoted to … yes, monkeys. He was walking a little distance away from his classmates, slightly nearer to the open, paddock-style enclosure, when a large baboon appeared and began to keep pace with him. Alex thought: “Oh how sweet!” But then another joined the first one. And another. A couple more. Alex began to walk a little faster. Another couple joined the group… he walked a little faster still as several more fell in behind the lead monkey on the other side of the fence. By this time, Alex was practically running , parallel to the monkey marathon on the other side until at last his nerve broke and he screamed at the lead monkey who screamed right back at him. The pack broke away and scattered. Of course, the onlookers found this highly amusing, but Alex was quite indignant when he told me.

I laughed…

Poor Alex… one evening, I was lying in bed, Charlie curled up beside me and Alex came in to say goodnight. He thought he would croon a tender version of “Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera to Charlie. She opened one eye and sighed in visible irritation. Just as Alex reached a particularly emotional part: “ … you are beautiful, no matter what they say -” she leaped up and grabbed his head between her paws to box his ears. He shrieked in alarm and spiralled away while Charlie followed, claws firmly fixed in his scalp and they waltzed away down the length of my bed… I was crying…

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Now, when ever I hear this song, all I can picture is the deadly duo of child and cat, spinning down my bed. Hysterical. As I said though, just a small selection. I’m pretty sure they’ll be more…

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Disappointing Dogs…

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By this I don’t mean that I find dogs disappointing – far from it. Although I really am a “cat person” we have always had dogs, when I was growing up, and my mother still has dogs now. They are family to me – I learned to walk holding on to our rescue greyhound, Gypsy, and a succession of German Shepherds have been sister dogs and companions to me.My older son doesn’t get this… it annoys him if the dogs look at him while we’re eating; whereas to me, sharing my food with animals is second nature…I am often to be found eating my lunch with one cat on my knee and Ting reaching out a long brown arm in an attempt to swipe something. If I am having dinner at my mother’s and Erin sighs at me and says “Nom-noms!” how am I supposed to resist?

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Alex, my younger son, has a similar affinity with animals. Some of my fondest memories involve visiting petting zoos etc. with both my sons – Alex would engage directly with all the animals, talking to them, touching them, my older son was nearly eaten by a goat and refused to participate.

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My mother’s dog Rowan was a great playmate for Alex, he would take his toys outside to play and explain the long and complicated game to her. She gave every appearance of both listening and being interested. Alex loves our canine family members too and they sense this and respond – when he came home at Christmas, Rocky was so pleased to see him he jumped straight over the four foot high garden gate and into his arms.29391434_216583372420411_1549045352_o

Likewise, my sister, who has three dogs of her own, two crossbreeds and a bulldog – they adore Alex. When we visit, the room is full of waving tails, grinning jaws and panting breath.

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Then. And then. Then comes the disappointment. Alex returns to university. It’s just me. I go to visit my sister – the dogs are crowding at the door, panting and eager:

“Where is he? Where’s the fun one? Where’s the boy? Where … oh. It’s you. Just you.”

They look at me, having first looked behind me to ascertain that Alex isn’t hiding behind me… under my coat or in my bag… just in case he isn’t somehow immediately visible. Or perhaps delayed. I am subjected to a cursory sniff and a polite wag of the tail, then they return to their beds, disappointment evident in every line of their body.

“Yeah… just her then.”

“She’s boring – she screams when I snot on her…”

“I know – she doesn’t like muddy paw prints either…”

You get the idea.

So, leaving one set of disappointed dogs, I carry on down to my mother’s, mentally preparing myself to fail the next lot of canine expectations. My mother’s dogs hear the garden gate and they’re up at the windowsill, smiling and smearing their noses on the glass – I can hear my mother –

“Get off the bloody curtains!”

And then they see me. Just me. The tail wagging decreases a gear, the grins are slightly less frantic…

“Oh. Just her then.”

“Oh no! Oh no. The boy’s gone! But I love him!”

This from Rocky. I open the door and am quickly nose-frisked –

“Nope, she’s seen her sister, but no boy…”

I am subjected to the same inspection:

“No, he’s not behind her… check her bag… not in the hallway..”

Rocky and Erin resume their previous activities. I am left feeling distinctly lacking in dog -worthiness.

I cheer up at the thought of going home, having spent an afternoon disappointing dogs. Surely the cats will be pleased to see me… won’t they?

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“Ohh… back so soon?”

Cores, Cakes And… Cats Of Course!

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I think I can safely claim that being British, we are a nation of cake lovers… I am fascinated by a wonderful programme called “Extreme Cake Makers”. No – the bakers do not whip up a batch of fairy cakes whilst standing on the edge of an abyss; nor do they pipe delicate swirls of icing while riding the crest of a twenty foot wave on a surfboard…

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Oh no. They create amazing edible artworks, including a pair of Bengal cats (personally I couldn’t have eaten those… ) and a beautiful three tier confection that had a hollow inside filled with sugar crystals – a geode cake! Fabulous!

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My mother used to enjoy making my son’s birthday cakes, one year she recreated Whitby out of cake and although I am now 40ahem years old, she still crafts me a cake every year for my birthday, generally pink, sparkly and flowery. I’m such a girl.

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I enjoy watching most cookery programmes and love the combination of cake and charity … the most recent one being tea and cake for the Cats Protection League – how could I resist? Throw a few crystals into the mix (if you pardon the pun) and there you have a wonderful combination of nearly all my favourite things!

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Alex bought me this beautiful Rainbow Aura Quartz core for Mother’s Day – I love it. It reminds me irresistibly of a glamorous, sparkling cupcake… but Rainbow or Flame or Titanium Aura Quartz – all fabulous names for a wonderful all-purpose crystal that will work willingly with all the chakras, containing, as it does, the whole spectrum of colours.

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It’s made from quartz bonded with titanium, to produce a crystal that will help you adapt to change, making career decisions and taking other peoples’ opinions into account. The soothing play of colours helps you to gather and centre your emotions. Again, the colours and energy of Rainbow Aura Quartz make it a wonderful focus for meditation. It promotes the flow of energy and gives you the confidence to seek your true direction in Life.

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It can be used to heal and stimulate the aura and to help you reach a higher level where you are open to receiving both healing and spiritual attunement. In addition these core shapes show the levels through which we rise and the fact that beneath all our outer shells are treasures within.

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This is just one sample and I have a feeling these core shapes are going to be like both cats and cakes – you can’t have just one!

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