Tag Archives: paranormal

Best Laid Plans: A Personal Update, and a Micro-Fic Story

The title of this micro-fic piece is apt, because my best-laid plans have not turned out as I’d thought they would! December was a challenging month for me in terms of pacing (something which is essential for people with #spoonie health conditions) but I’d expected that after some rest, I’d be ‘back to work’ in early January, as usual. I was looking forward to getting back into things!

The Universe has had other plans. 🙂 My health has forced me to make rest and recovery my primary ‘task’ for the time being. Although this means that working on new scenes for our third novel is pretty much ‘on hold’ for the moment, I have been able to write small unrelated pieces now and then. (Phew!)

While I’m really missing working on the magic of Lazuli Portals 3 (and finding out what happens to Keira and Jason and co. in chapter 27 and beyond!) I have made my peace with it. For those of you who are impatiently waiting for LP3 to be finished, I will return to it as soon as I am able, I promise!

Meanwhile, I’m also having a go at being more laid back about blogging and social media, trying to find a manageable balance. 🙂 ‘Balance’ is a theme which recurs over and over in my life, so I clearly need more practice at it lol.

The tiny story which follows is a piece I wrote many months ago in response to the image, specifically to be shared on the blog. I’m still not sure how I feel about it, but we hope you enjoy it! 🙂




The warning is there, plain to see; I made sure the cleaner left the bollard in open view. According to the steady red light, the security camera is on, so everything will be documented.

All I need to do is to make it look natural: let my feet slide from under my weight, land awkwardly, making sure I break a bone or two.

That should keep me out of the surgical unit for a few months. I need the break (pardon the pun). Maybe the time off will stop the shaking, the trembling in my fingers when I lift the scalpel. The responsibility over life … the damage I might do … I just can’t …

Deep breath. It’s all down to me, now.

But something curdles in my belly. I know this is wrong. It’s fraud, isn’t it? My mother would turn in her grave if she knew what I was up to. I’m sure she’s keeping an eye on me.

And what about me? I’m a good person; that’s why I became a surgeon. My vocation is to help others to heal; to cure, wherever possible. And here I am about to injure myself, deliberately, and to cause hassle and difficulty for others, to apportion blame to the blameless.

I can feel Mum at my shoulder, her flinty eyes ashamed of me, her disappointment like a shadow veiling my eyes.

I swallow, and turn away from the pool and its slick tile surround.

It’s time to own what’s happening to me. To deal with it in the right way. To talk to my boss and seek her help; Shelley will know what to do.

The dark weight which has been plaguing me lightens, the threads of it unwinding and weakening.

My mind is consumed with how to broach this with Shelley, how to tell her that I don’t have the courage anymore.

It’ll be hard to share this with her. Of all the people at the hospital, Shelley is the one with whom I feel the strongest connection. Maybe it’s because she’s so full of life and fun? Because she’s so different from my mother? And now I have to tell her of this weakness, this flaw.

My nape turns ice-cold, prickly, as though there is a mass of energy there. It seems to push at me, nudging me forward. Against my will, I step onto the damp tile, moving closer to the pool.

“No,” I state to the empty room. There is a rough shove at my back and I stumble awkwardly, slipping on the tile. I fall onto the bollard, and my leg twists horribly beneath me. I cry out, my darkening vision pinpricked by silver stars.

Silent words flow into my ear. “Be careful what you wish for, son.”

[463 words – copyright Joanna Gawn;

image by artur84, via FreeDigitalPhotos.Net]


Recommended Reads: The Tassamara Trilogy by Sarah Wynde

The Tassamara series is one I’m very happy to recommend to readers of urban paranormal fantasy – particularly if you enjoyed the TV show ‘A Town Called Eureka‘!

I originally blogged my review of A Gift of Ghosts here but I am including that review in this post, too, for the sake of completeness. 🙂

When reading each of my reviews in this post, please bear in mind that they were written independently of one another, immediately after reading each book!

A Gift of Ghosts (Tassamara, #1)A Gift of Ghosts by Sarah Wynde
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book Description

Akira Malone believes in the scientific method, evolution, and Einstein’s theory of relativity. And ghosts.

All the logic and reason in the world can’t protect her from the truth—she can see and communicate with spirits. But Akira is sure that her ability is just a genetic quirk and the ghosts she encounters simply leftover electromagnetic energy. Dangerous electromagnetic energy.

Zane Latimer believes in telepathy, precognition, auras, and that playing Halo with your employees is an excellent management technique. He also thinks that maybe, just maybe, Akira Malone can help his family get in touch with their lost loved ones.

But will Akira ever be able to face her fears and accept her gift? Or will Zane’s relatives be trapped between life and death forever?

My Review

A Gift of Ghosts is a book I enjoyed on many levels.

The lead characters are strong, with doubt and uncertainty as much a part of their relationship as the attraction.

I thought the conflict between Akira’s scientific, analytical approach to her gift, and the reality of her experiences, was realistically portrayed. As she learns more about her gift, and its apparent limits, we in turn discover more of her past, such as who broke the bones in her hand – and why.

There’s plenty of humour, too, not least from the cast of ghosts in attendance. Akira’s interaction with the ghosts brings an unusual and quirky feel to the story.

No dull moments, no wasted scenes, just a really enjoyable, intelligent read. So glad it’s the first in a series… the sequel, A Gift of Thought, awaits!

A Gift of Thought (Tassamara, #2)A Gift of Thought by Sarah Wynde
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Description

At seventeen, Sylvie Blair ran away from the small town of Tassamara, Florida. She joined the Marines, traveled the world and made a life for herself, but she never forgot what she left behind. Now a close protection security consultant (aka bodyguard) for a spoiled teenager in Washington DC, her empathic gift helps her keep her charge safe, if not out of trouble. When her past catches up with her, though, in the form of her telepathic high school sweetheart, Lucas, she’s forced to face her regrets even as she tries to decide whether his ridiculous stories about ghosts and Mexican drug cartels are signs of insanity or somehow true.

For Dillon Latimer, meeting his mom comes too late—it’s been five years since the drug overdose that killed him. But a little thing like death isn’t going to get in Dillon’s way when he decides that his parents would be much better off together. Unfortunately, it’s not easy for ghosts to influence the world of matter, especially when every choice Sylvie makes takes her deeper and deeper into danger. Can Dillon keep his mom alive long enough for her to live happily ever after with his dad?

My Review

Another great read from Sarah Wynde! I really do enjoy her writing, and the world and characters she’s created within (and beyond) Tassamara.

I liked finding out more about Zane’s brother, Lucas, and his past; and also more about Dillon as he continues his existence as a ghost. This isn’t Akira’s story (her tale was told in A Gift of Ghosts, the first in the series) but I was pleased to see her character pop up again here!

The only trouble is, the more I read of this series, the closer I get to finishing it…

A very strong 4 stars.

A Gift of Time (Tassamara #3)A Gift of Time by Sarah Wynde
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book Description

She thought she could see everything. Time is proving her wrong.

Ten years ago, Natalya’s ability to remember the future cost her the life she wanted when her vision of her fiancé’s death tore them apart. Ever since, she’s considered her precognition more of a curse than a gift. How can she live in the present when the future looms so large?

But when the night she’s long dreaded finally arrives, Natalya’s vision and reality diverge. She and her ex, Colin, are drawn into a web of the unexplained, led by a mysterious little girl. Who is Kenzi? And where did she come from? The little girl might be the reason Fate has spared Colin’s life, but could she also bring Natalya and Colin together again?

With Colin, Kenzi, her family, the townspeople of Tassamara, and a set of circumstances that nobody could foresee, Natalya must solve the puzzle of a lifetime. Her discovery that her gift is not the only one at work will change the lives of everyone around her as time becomes precious in a most unexpected way… and the clock is ticking.

My Review

I really enjoyed this book (the third in the series) – it was like meeting up with an old group of quirky friends! I was pleased that Akira and Rose had important supporting roles, and key character Nat is easy-to-like.

But for me, the show-stealers were one little girl, and a sheriff named Colin, which really did add that Sheriff Jack Carter/A-Town-Called-Eureka vibe (definitely a bonus as far as I’m concerned!)

I think this might be my favourite book in the series. If you’ve read and liked the earlier books then I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy this one.

[I can’t find a Twitter account for Sarah Wynde, but she has a Facebook page here.]


Have you read any of this series? Did you enjoy it? If you haven’t read it yet, does it appeal to you?

~ Joanna

P.S. If you enjoyed this post, please do leave a comment, and/or share the post on your favourite social media site(s). We’re so grateful for any support like that! 🙂


Recommended Reads: Vampires and Romance, Oh My!

If you’re a fan of the paranormal romance genre,  then I think you’ll love the five books I’ve selected for this Recommended Read post!

So without further ado, let’s get started! 🙂

Hidden (Marchwood Vampire, #1)Hidden by Shalini Boland
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book description

Hidden is a paranormal romance that spans the centuries from modern England to 19th century Paris and ancient Cappadocia.

Sixteen-year-old Madison Greene is in foster care until one day she inherits a fortune, she inherits a house, she inherits a cellar full of danger.

Eighteen-year-old Alexandre Chevalier lives in 19th century Paris. On an archaeological expedition, he discovers a lost underground city where his life changes forever.

For each of them, life is finally beginning. Little do they know it is closer to ending. Something lies buried that should have been forgotten. A Pandora’s Box that was meant to stay shut. But Madison and Alexandre have never been any good at following the rules. They are about to find everything they’ve ever desired and everything that could destroy them.

Falling in love has never been so dangerous.

My thoughts

What a great read! I don’t want to give too much away, but I loved how the dual storylines of 1881 and the present intersected.

Shalini writes with great skill, with each character having a distinct voice. I look forward to reading more. If the option existed, I would have raised this rating to 4.5 stars.

Since reading and rating the first two books of this Marchwood Vampire series, Shalini’s republished the books with some truly stunning covers:

http://www.amazon.com/HIDDEN-paranormal-romance-Marchwood-Vampire-ebook/dp/B004SCS738Marchwood Vampire Series, Book 2http://www.amazon.com/Hunted-Marchwood-Vampire-Book-3-ebook/dp/B01AQNA8IE

Thicker Than Blood (Marchwood Vampire Series #2)Thicker Than Blood by Shalini Boland
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book description

Chilling and fast-paced, Thicker Than Blood is the supernatural sequel to Hidden. It combines passion and drama with a historical twist.

Aelia lives in 6th century Byzantium. She is sixteen years old and her life is about to change forever. She doesn’t yet know it, but she holds the fate of thousands in her hands and her actions will echo across the centuries.

Fourteen hundred years later the lives of Madison and Alexandre are once again plunged into danger. To save Madison, Alexandre is forced back to a world he thought was dead and buried. But time is running out.

The chase is on…

My thoughts

THICKER THAN BLOOD was a fabulous read. Shalini Boland is a highly accomplished writer, bringing her characters and locations vividly to life with a wonderful skill. I loved the imagery as much as the storytelling.

Alexandre is a beautiful hero, and young Maddy is a courageous and likeable heroine. We are introduced to new characters, Aelia and Zoe, both of whom are crucial to the unfolding story. The ending was an unexpected twist, and paves the way for Book 3, “Hunted” . . . I can’t wait!

Another page-turner, and a worthy successor to HIDDEN. This series is a keeper.

No Such Thing as ImmortalityNo Such Thing as Immortality by Sarah Tranter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book description

I will protect you until the day I die … forever!

A vampire does not have to feel any emotion not of his choosing. And Nathaniel Gray has spent two hundred years choosing not to feel. But when he accidentally runs Rowan Locke off the road, he is inexplicably flooded with everything she’s feeling, and that’s rage, and lots of it.

He is consumed with the need to protect Rowan at all costs, including from himself. To Nate what is happening is unthinkable, and is pretty much as unbelievable as the existence of faeries.

But you see, there is no such thing as … immortality.

This is Nate’s story …

My thoughts

Right from the start, Nate and Rowan are a scintillating combination – one so cool and intense, the other so fiery. It’s a wonder one doesn’t melt the other!

The additional contrast between the immortal earl (yummy!) and the sassy, modern woman is hilarious at times, making the book a fun read as well as a compelling one.

Nate’s family is a story in itself. They form a great cast of support characters, each with their own hopes and dreams and fears; I’d love to meet them again.

Loads of drama, tons of humour, and a highly engaging storyline means I rate this as a solid 4 stars – and hoping there *will* be a sequel as some reviewers have indicated.

This is the first book I’ve read by Ms Tranter, and I’m pretty sure it won’t be the last!

Vampire State of MindVampire State of Mind by Jane Lovering
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book description

Jessica Grant knows vampires only too well. She runs the York Council tracker programme making sure that Otherworlders are all where they should be, keeps the filing in order and drinks far too much coffee. To Jess, vampires are annoying and arrogant and far too sexy for their own good, particularly her ex-colleague Sil, who’s now in charge of Otherworld York.

But when a demon turns up and threatens not just Jess but the whole world order, she and Sil are forced to work together, and when Jess turns out to be the key to saving the world it puts a very different slant on their relationship. The stakes are high. They are also very, very pointy and Jess isn’t afraid to use them, even on the vampire that she’s rather afraid she’s falling in love with …

My thoughts

​This hugely enjoyable book is a lively blend of vampiric charisma, snappy dialogue, Otherworld strangeness and magic, and love in its many forms … all delivered with a deft sprinkle of humour.

Wonderful characters and an entertaining story … one I didn’t want to end.​ More, please?!

A solid 4 stars.

Falling ApartFalling Apart by Jane Lovering
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book description

Jessica Grant liaises with Otherworlders for York Council so she knows that falling in love with a vampire takes a leap of faith. But her lover Sil, the City Vampire in charge of Otherworld York, he wouldn t run out on her, would he? He wouldn t let his demon get the better of him. Or would he?

Sil knows there s a reason for his bad haircut, worse clothes and the trail of bleeding humans in his wake. If only he could remember exactly what he did before someone finds him and shoots him on sight.

With her loyalties already questioned for defending zombies, the Otherworlders no one cares about, Jess must choose which side she s on, either help her lover or turn him in. Human or Other? Whatever she decides, there s a high price to pay and someone to lose.

My thoughts

Another cracking book from Jane Lovering! The vampires are brilliantly characterised, while quirky Jess, lover of Hobnobs and a certain Otherworlder, is easy to like and a lot of fun to read.

Well-written, with great dialogue and a fun and engaging narrative, this novel was hugely enjoyable from start to finish.

With plenty of unresolved questions and newly-revealed secrets, I really hope book three will be written soon!

See all my reviews on Goodreads.

We really hope you enjoyed this Recommended Reads selection ~ if you did, please let us know by Liking, leaving a Comment, and/or Sharing the post. Thanks so much! 🙂

~ Joanna



Introducing…Dark Perfume: Tales of Light and Shadow (our new book!)

We have been working hard to bring you a new ebook of short stories … and it’s very nearly ready!

Dark Perfume 3D paperback Mock Up (cropped)

Dark Perfume: Tales of Light and Shadow is a collection of 33 tales of … you guessed it: light and shadow! 😉

Among the stories in this volume

*~ you will delve into our legends of other worlds;

*~ you will discover love lost and found, hope reborn, and emotional courage;

*~ you will read of telepathy, prophetic visions, magic, otherworldly power, and subtle energies;

*~ you will witness individual conflicts of light and shadow.

While some of these tales cover our familiar themes of healing and natural magic, or of personal or spiritual growth, not all of the stories have a happy ending … that’s simply how the characters played it. We dance to their tune!

Perhaps they like to keep you, our readers, on your toes …

… or perhaps the light simply balances the dark … a delicate dance of yin and yang.

Dark Perfume: Tales of Light and Shadow is a little over 51,000 words of story (that’s around half the length of The Cordello Quest, and about 190 paperback pages.)

DP promo banner with date

Dark Perfume will be released on 30 September 2015. You will be able to pre-order your copy so that it’s automatically delivered to your Kindle device or app on launch day!

(Remember, you can read Kindle books even if you don’t have a Kindle device. Amazon offers free Kindle-for-PC software, as well as apps for your tablet or smartphone!)

Dark Perfume is priced at £0.99/$0.99 for pre-order customers, which we think is fantastic value. We do not guarantee this price beyond launch day.

Dark Perfume Tablet Mock Up (cropped)

We plan to share with you some extracts from the new book over the coming weeks, so do keep an eye out for further blog posts, and check our social media ‘haunts’ on Facebook and Twitter

You can pre-order your Kindle copy of Dark Perfume right now:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Amazon CA

Amazon AUS

Joanna & Ron | The Lazuli Portals

Recommended Read: The Haunting of Highdown Hall (Psychic Surveys: Book One)

The Haunting of Highdown HallThe Haunting of Highdown Hall by Shani Struthers

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The latest in a long line of psychically-gifted females, Ruby Davis can see through the veil that separates this world and the next, helping grounded souls to move towards the light – or ‘home’ as Ruby calls it. Not just a job for Ruby, it’s a crusade and one she wants to bring to the High Street. Psychic Surveys is born.

Based in Lewes, East Sussex, Ruby and her team of freelance psychics have been kept busy of late. Specialising in domestic cases, their solid reputation is spreading – it’s not just the dead that can rest in peace but the living too. All is threatened when Ruby receives a call from the irate new owner of Highdown Hall. Film star Cynthia Hart is still in residence, despite having died in 1958.

Winter deepens and so does the mystery surrounding Cynthia. She insists the devil is blocking her path to the light long after Psychic Surveys have ‘disproved’ it. Investigating her apparently unblemished background, Ruby is pulled further and further into Cynthia’s world and the darkness that now inhabits it.

For the first time in her career, Ruby’s deepest beliefs are challenged. Does evil truly exist? And if so, is it the most relentless force of all?

What I thought of it

What a great book! The events at the Hall, Cynthia’s relationships and ongoing troubles, the romantic elements, the cast of characters – alive and of spirit – and the mystery winding its way through it all, make this a cracking read. The pacing was spot on, and the last few chapters wouldn’t let me go.

Jed is an utter darling, and a great addition to the team. Cash is … well, a keeper, I’d say, and I hope we see more of him! Ruby is brave yet vulnerable, and committed: a woman following her true calling despite the challenges it brings, and a lightworker in the truest sense. Being a sensitive is not usually an easy path, and Shani Struthers has handled this aspect well.

There are some poignant moments as stranded spirits are led Home. Surprisingly, there is a humorous moment, too!
There are some warm, lovely scenes when Ruby finds support from expected and unexpected sources. How I’d love to meet a couple of those people in real life!
There are some characters (living ones, usually) who I hoped would be ‘encouraged’ to behave better.
And there are some who simply cannot accept that there is more to “life” than most people can see.
In amongst all that are feelings, ideas, concepts, and truths which I really identified with spiritually.
Taken together, these make the book feel whole, layered, and rich with interest and local colour.

I enjoyed the imagery of the energies sensed by the sensitives, empaths, and psychics, and also the use of crystals and light for cleansing and protection. The emphasis on the healing power of unconditional love also resonated – right up my street, in more ways than one.

A strong 4 stars – nearly  5 – with a few sparkles of white light, rose quartz, and lapis lazuli thrown in. 🙂

Have you read this book? Did you enjoy it? If you haven’t read it, are you tempted?!

 You’re also welcome to read my other Goodreads reviews.

 ~ Joanna

Tweet us @LazuliPortals.

Shani Struthers’ official Twitter account is @shani_struthers

Recommended Read: Dreams (Sarah Midnight)

Dreams (Sarah Midnight, #1)Dreams by Daniela Sacerdoti

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Description from Amazon

Seventeen-year-old Sarah Midnight has never had a normal life. To the outside world she is a typical teenager, but on the inside, Sarah holds an unimaginable secret. Her parents are demon hunters, part of a web of Secret Families who have sworn to protect the world. But when they are mysteriously killed, Sarah’s world is shattered but she knows she must now take up their fight.

Unprepared for the task ahead, she finds herself thrust into a world of incredible danger, full of things she never even knew existed. Including her enigmatic long-lost cousin who, out of the blue, turns up on her doorstep just when she needs him most.

He claims to be there to help and protect her, but how will she know who to trust in this perilous new life? And can she stay alive long enough to complete her parents’ quest when they have left her so defenceless? Sarah has to learn, and learn fast – the demons are all around her and death waits for no one…

What I thought of it

Highly imaginative, and beautifully written, ‘Dreams’ is a stellar beginning to The Sarah Midnight Trilogy. It was never boring, and there was plenty of magic to keep me enchanted right until the end – and beyond. I will definitely be purchasing the remainder of the series.

Since writing this review on Goodreads, I have purchased Tide for my Kindle, and hope to get around to reading and reviewing it soon! Daniela has also written Watch Over Me (read my review of this lovely book here) and Take Me Home, which I have purchased but have yet to read.

Daniela is on Twitter >> DaniSacerdoti <<

Hope you’ve enjoyed this Recommended Read! If you did, please would you like this post or leave a comment to let us know? Feel free to share it. 🙂

~ Joanna

View all my reviews

You Decide! Write a story with us. (Emma, Part I)

This is the first of a new, experimental series of short stories. We’ll get the story underway, then write the next paragraph (or two) based on your input!

After you’ve read the first part of the story, please decide what you’d like to happen next and leave a comment. We’ll choose the idea we think is most interesting, and add it to the story for next time!

* * *

Emma ~ Part I

Emma wandered toward the metal railing separating the promenade from the beach. Under an endless light blue sky, the sea twinkled and shimmered. Once, she had enjoyed being on the beach, searching among the rocks for limpets and shells, for tiny treasures that only her five-year old self would have cherished.

But now . . . now she just felt tired and lonely. All those families lounging on the sand, children toddling and chuckling as they built sandcastles and knocked them down again. Something kept her feeling separate from them, from people in general.

Today was her twenty-second birthday. And she had no one to celebrate with. No one. So she had come to the beach, to feel part of life again. Except no one else looked as lonely as she was, and now she just felt isolated, as though she stood behind a sheet of glass.

Something wet touched her hand, and she flinched, dragging it away. A child, maybe seven years old, was gazing up at her with stormy grey eyes. “Want a shell?” the girl asked.

Hesitantly, Emma took the object from the child. The girl grinned at her then ran back to the beach. Turning the shell over in her hand, grains of sand dusted Emma’s skin.

As she watched, the sand began to glow, an unearthly, emerald green lighting her palm. Heat rose through her, and a blast of adrenaline and fear. Was it radioactive? Toxic? Was she allergic to it in some way? The heat bloomed throughout her body, leaving her breathless and afraid. She pulled her arm back, preparing to throw the shell back onto the sand.

So . . . what do you think should happen next?



Story © Joanna Gawn 2014