Visions of Zarua #bookreview and Honey Cake recipe

So today we have a guest post from the lovely Suzanne Rogerson as part of her World Blog Tour to promote her epic fantasy book, Visions of Zarua.

Visions of Zarua 2016 Blog Tour Schedule
Suzanne is a real life friend of mine (I do have some…) We met at a Creative Writing course about five years ago. But whilst I’ve been scratching my arse and talking about finishing my novel (with a brief move to Italy in-between), she actually got off her backside and published a fabulous book.

I’m not usually a fantasy reader but I enjoyed reading about wizards and magical kingdoms. I thought it would be rather hard going but it was actually very easy to read with some light-hearted moments. The writing was very strong, the characters likeable and the intertwined stories kept me gripped until the end. I recommend, even if you’re not a fantasy fan.

Now then, onto Suzanne’s post.  Yay – finally a new post…and I didn’t even have to write it!

Visions of Zarua by Suzanne Rogerson:

visions-of-zarua-book-coverTwo wizards, 350 years apart. Together they must save the realm of Paltria from Zarua’s dark past.

An ancient darkness haunts the realm of Paltria.
Apprentice wizard Paddren is plagued by visions of a city on the brink of annihilation. When his master Kalesh dies in mysterious circumstances, the Royal Order of Wizards refuses to investigate.
Helped by his childhood friend, the skilled tracker Varnia, and her lover Leyoch, Paddren vows to find the killer.

The investigation leads Paddren down a sinister path of assassins, secret sects and creatures conjured by blood magic. But he is guided by a connection with a wizard from centuries ago – a wizard whose history holds the key to the horror at the heart of the abandoned city of Zarua. Can Paddren decipher his visions in time to save the Paltrian people from the dark menace of Zarua’s past?

The female lead character of Varnia is often misunderstood. She is a hunt mistress, stuck in a man’s world with no family but her surrogate uncle, Reaun, to rely on.
A strong willed woman, who doesn’t let anything get in her way…but can also be prone to sulking. However, one thing guaranteed to get her out of a sulk is the Honey Cake at Redstone Manor.

I thought it would be fun to recreate the cake using a traditional recipe I found in ‘A Taste of the Border Country’ cookbook. I’ve given it my own tweaks as I always try to use gluten free flour and prefer self-raising to plain flour & baking powder. I’ve also added fresh ginger, which I believe complements the honey and lemon flavour.

8fl oz clear honey
3 oz butter
12oz self-raising flour (gluten free)
Pinch of salt
1 tsp cinnamon
3 eggs
3 tbsp milk
Grated rind of a lemon
Grated fresh ginger
(I omitted from the original recipe the mixed peel and didn’t add the flaked almonds on the top, but I can see they would work well with the rest of these ingredients).

1. Melt the butter and honey over a low heat.
2. Beat the eggs and milk. Add it to the cool melted butter and honey, along with the ginger.
3. Mix the flour, salt, lemon peel and cinnamon in a separate bowl.
4. Add the melted ingredients to the dry, a bit at a time and mix well. It has quite a liquid consistency.
5. Pour into an 8-inch square greased baking tin. Cook for about an hour on 150 fan.

The old recipe suggests poking holes in the cooked cake and adding another 3 tablespoons of honey over the top. I experimented with and without the extra honey, and found the cake quite dry without it. However, the flavour was good and tasty, and surprisingly it wasn’t too sweet.

I wonder if Varnia would like my version of Honey Cake?  Maybe she would wash it down with a goblet or two of mead.

Find out more about Suzanne:2015 author photo 2015

Buy Visons of Zarua now!!
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Wednesday Week

Not much writing going on in the Barbed Words house.  My week can pretty much be summed up as:

Packing.  Work.  Packing.  Coffee.  Packing.  Packing.  Coffee.  Taking child to doctors.  Tea.  Iced Bun.  Chemists.  Going to charity shop.  Gardening.  Gin and tonic.  Pasta.  Packing.  Coffee.  Packing.  Charity shop.  eBay.  Tea.  Gardening.  Pizza.   Top Gear.  Top Gun.  Driving 200 miles to drop off some crap valued possessions.  Wine.  Packing.

Repeat a few more times and that’s about it.  What a marvellous week.

Yet again, the only bit of writing I managed was the Six Word Story Challenge.  The prompt word was Dark.  Lots of stories about scary places, coffins and death.  My entry:

Bugger. The bloody bulb’s gone again.

Keeping it real, man.


Last conversation at school before I headed off for the joy that is the half-term break:

‘Miss, I’ve squashed my banana.’

‘That’s a shame, Harry.’

‘Not my banana, Miss, an actual edible one.’

‘Well, thank you for clarifying that…’

What I Go to School For

Although in Rome, I enjoyed the life of a lady who lunches (or drinks cappuccino, at least), once back in England I needed to find work.  As I have children, I wanted a job which offers flexible hours and time off in the holidays [Sure your poor work ethic didn’t have anything to do with it??  Ed.  Shut your face – Me].

Therefore, like 70% of the mums I know, I’ve ended up working in a school.  Apparently, 1.5 million part-time workers are over-qualified for their jobs, with women worst affected. This totally applies to me.  Even if I did full-time hours, my job would still pay less than half what I was earning fourteen years ago before having kids. Moral of the story?? DON’T TAKE A CAREER BREAK!!  Or, at least don’t something that changes so drastically over the years that you can’t go back.

Anyway, part of my job is supervising the library.  And the students that use it.  So my day involves conversations like this:

‘Miss, Josh has drawn a penis on my book.’

‘Josh, don’t draw in Harry’s book.’

‘Miss, Harry’s lying!  I didn’t draw a penis.’

‘Miss, look, here’s the penis.’

‘Yes, I can see it, thank you, Harry.  Can’t you just rub it out?’

‘I haven’t got a rubber, Miss, so I can’t rub the penis out.’

‘Right, here’s a rubber.  Just rub it out please.’

‘Miss!  I’ve rubbed the penis out but you can still see it.   He’s ruined my book with a penis.’

‘Harry, it’s fine.  You can hardly see it.’

‘Miss, I didn’t even draw that penis.’

‘He did, Miss, he drew the penis.’




‘You said penis.’


Another Six Words

Another busy week and another week of not writing much.  But I did manage to enter the Six Word Story Challenge again.  So a total of six words written in seven days.  Go me!

The theme this week was ‘Horror’.  My entry summed up a terrifying experience that I’m sure we’ve all been through:

The stubborn turd refused to flush.

Ok, I might not have taken it quite as seriously as other entrants but I did get three votes…


Getting Lazier with Six Word Stories…

Hmmm, I seem to have lapsed into blog silence since the A-Z Challenge.  Things are a tad stressful at the moment – we’re about to move for the third time in a year.  There’s too much to do.  Too much to think about.  And blogging is one of those things that’s very easy to drop when times are busy.

But, according to Ally Bean, “In personal blogging, quality of post is less important that the fact that you managed to show up again, against the odds, and write something.”

Is that true??   Is quantity preferable to quality?   I’m not so sure.  I tend to stop following bloggers or tweeters (?) who post all the time.   Especially if they’re really just posting sales pitches for their products.

But, in the interest of posting slightly more often, I think I need more challenges.  So here’s the first one.  I’m starting off easy with Sometimes Stellar Storyteller Six Word Story Challenge.  SIX WORDS??!!  Even someone as lazy as me can manage that.   The theme of this week’s challenge is ‘Paranoia’.  My entry is:

Mice watch me.  They’re CIA spies…


I’ll let you know if I win… (which I won’t).  I was going to use pigeon spies but I just really wanted to post this picture.  So mice it was.

Ok, that was a nice break but now it’s back to stressing.




Z is for Zoooooooom

Hurrah!!  The #atozchallenge is over and I can go back to posting twice a year.  It’s been quite a stressful process; trying to fit writing daily posts in between work, cooking, cleaning (alright, maybe not that) and watching Friends.  Trying to find tenuous links to stories or snippets I’d already written.  Worrying about losing most of my followers, who obviously seem to prefer quality over quantity😉

On the plus side, it’s got my creative juices flowing again (might have to see a doctor for that) and made me write again – which hopefully will result in books actually getting finished.  And I’ve found a handful of wonderful new blogs to follow.

So let’s celebrate with the classic Zoom, which always makes me think of Only Fools and Horses (I do do other things apart from watch TV, honestly…)

Now I’m off to catch some zzzzzzzzz.

#atozchallenge #zoom



Y is for Yoghurt. Or Yogurt.

…for our American readers.

Yoghurt is defined as, ‘A semi-solid sourish food prepared from milk fermented by added bacteria.’  Mmmm, tasty.  As well as being a fine fodder, it also has many other uses:

Bad joke alert!!!

Two cups of yogurt walk into a bar.  The bartender says, “We don’t serve your kind in here.”

One cup of yogurt says, “Why not? We’re cultured individuals.”


#atozchallenge #yoghurt #yogurt #Brooklyn 99