Patsy Collins isn’t a Crazed Stalker, and other Fun Facts

Today I have Patsy Collins here. If you aren’t familiar with Patsy, you should be. She’s a fun, witty romance writer and blogger. You can find out more about her on her website

Patsy has a new book out called Firestarter and it sounds wonderful. But before we get to that, a little Q&A with Patsy:

1. Alice in Firestarter has a fireman fantasy, (which I’m thinking many women can relate to.) There’s just something about servicemen. Do you prefer firemen, cops, or military men yourself? (I’m actually married to a former Marine who is also a fireman.)

All the nice girls love a sailor, don’t we?

My husband was in the Royal Navy when we met. Formal naval uniforms are very smart and that look really suits him. So did the No. 8s trousers (working uniform, rather than ceremonial), especially when I followed him up stairs. *sigh*

I should perhaps explain that I wasn’t a crazed stalker who stowed away on frigates; we worked together. I had a really sensible civilian job in a finance department and he needed to sweet talk someone in my department into signing off on the photographic equipment he needed, so that worked out very well for me.

Not that I have anything against firemen. Especially if, like Hamish, they’re nice to animals, can cook and are pretty good at massage. Obviously he’s good at the whole rescuing people from burning buildings part and has muscular thighs. *sighs again* (though not quite as much over my character as my lovely husband)

2. It sounds like Alice’s family is also a big part of the story. I love reading about family dynamics. Who was your favorite family member to write about, and how do they add complications to Alice’s story? 

Yes, her family are important, both to Alice and the story. Her parents are both lovely, though her dad is perhaps just a touch obsessive about his hobbies which include making the worst wine never to kill anyone.

My favourite though has to be Alice’s big sister Kate. She was so much fun to write about that I’m considering giving her a book to herself. Kate is very fond of her sister and wants what’s best for her. That is, what’s best according to Kate.

Alice’s steady boyfriend, Tony, is altogether too dull, according to Kate. Eggs on plates is a daft idea, according to Kate (to be fair I agree). Daring red dresses are a sensible choice, according to Kate. Hot sex with members of the emergency services is also an excellent idea. Trouble is Kate doesn’t keep these opinions to herself and doesn’t often let people avoid following her advice. Generally it’s Alice who’s her target, but Kate isn’t opposed to helping others, even complete strangers in changing rooms.

Then there’s the calender thing, all that rubbish over ring sizes and the way she reacts when Tony claims to be innocent of making the hoax calls. Basically Kate herself is a complication for Alice.

3. And just for fun, when writing or reading romances what’s your steamy drink of choice? Tea, coffee, cider, or hot chocolate? 

When writing, it’s tea. I do about a paragraph to the cup if you include editing. Actually it’s tea for reading to, usually. I drink a lot of tea.

And now for a little more about the book! (Which looks awesome, by the way.)


Alice has a fantasy. It starts with being rescued by a hunky fireman, involves the kiss of life and ends in him not needing his uniform. At the New Forest Show, Alice is offered an innocent version of her dream. Reluctantly she turns down fireman Hamish’s invitation. 

Despite Alice’s blameless behaviour, boyfriend Tony’s obsessive jealousy kicks in. Hamish wants to take Tony’s place, but a hoaxer ensures Alice already sees far too much of Hampshire Fire Service. The threat of an explosive sprout surprise, her mum’s baking, sister Kate’s mind boggling pep talks and the peculiar behaviour of Alice’s boss Miles provide distractions. 

Is Alice really in danger? What is Kate up to? Can Hamish possibly be as perfect as he seems? It takes Alice masses of wonderful food, disgusting wine, smelly mud, red footed crows and steamy Welsh passion, but she finds the answers. And rethinks her fantasy.

You can buy Firestarter on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
and add it to your TBR list on Goodreads.

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Sep 13, Grand Remembrances

Today is Grandparents Day in the United States. Being a Grand is a special honor. I feel very blessed that my wife and I have two grandchildren. We were able to visit them today. Yes, we are still being cautious with the coronavirus, but we also find it very difficult to not see them when they live so close. So today we did drop by to visit Jacob (age 10) and Sophia (age 7) along with their parents. We brought donuts and caught up with them. Our grandchildren are still pretty young and this is a precious time in their lives – and ours!

I wish I had known my grandparents better. We never lived in the same place. Dad was a career Air Force pilot, so we moved around a lot. But we did get to see them once in a while when they would visit us, or we them.

A Plague of Giants

There are five known magical ‘kennings’ or types: air, water, fire, earth, and plants. Each nation specializes in of these kennings, and the magic influences the society. There’s a big pitfall with this diversity of ability and locale–not everyone gets along.

Enter the Hathrim giants, or ‘lavaborn’ whose kenning is fire. Where they live the trees that fuel their fire are long gone, but the giants are definitely not welcome anywhere else. They’re big, they’re violent, and they’re ruthless. When a volcano erupts and they are forced to evacuate, they take the opportunity to relocate. They don’t care that it’s in a place where they aren’t wanted.

I first read Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid books and loved them (also the quirky The Tales of Pell), so was curious about this new venture, starting with A PLAGUE OF GIANTS. Think Avatar: The Last Airbender meets Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series. Elemental magic, a variety of races, different lands. And it’s all thrown at you from page one.

But this story is told a little differently. It starts at the end of the war, after a difficult victory, and a bard with earth kenning uses his magic to re-tell the story of the war to a city of refugees. And it’s this movement back and forth in time and between key players in this war that we get a singularly grand view of the war as a whole. Hearne uses this method to great effect.

There are so many interesting characters in this book that I can’t cover them all here. Often in books like this such a large cast of ‘main’ character can make the storytelling suffer, especially since they don’t have a lot of interaction with each other for the first 3/4 of the book–but it doesn’t suffer, thankfully. And the characterization is good enough, despite these short bursts, that by the end we understand these people and care about what happens to them.

If there were a main character it would be Dervan, a historian who is assigned to record (also spy on?) the bard’s stories. He finds himself caught up in machinations he feels unfit to survive. Fintan is the bard from another country, who at first is rather mysterious and his true personality is hidden by the stories he tells; it takes a while to understand him. Gorin Mogen is the leader of the Hathrim giants who decide to find a new land to settle. He’s hard to like, but as far as villains go, you understand his motivations and he can be even a little convincing. There’s Abhi, the son of hunters, who decides hunting isn’t the life for him–and unexpectedly finds himself on a quest for the sixth kenning. And Gondel Vedd, a scholar of linguistics who finds himself tasked with finding a way to communicate with a race of giants never seen before (definitely not Hathrim) and stumbles onto a mystery no one could have guessed: there may be a seventh kenning.

There are other characters, but what makes them all interesting is that they’re regular people (well, maybe not Gorin Mogen or the viceroy–he’s a piece of work) who become heroes in their own little ways, whether it’s the teenage girl who isn’t afraid to share vital information, to the scholars who suddenly find how crucial their minds are to the survival of a nation, to the humble public servants who find bravery when they need it most. This is a story of loss, love, redemption, courage, unity, and overcoming despair to not give up. All very human experiences by simple people who do extraordinary things.

Hearne’s worldbuilding is engaging. He doesn’t bottle feed you, at first it feels like drinking from a hydrant, but then you settle in and pick up things along the way. Then he shows you stuff with a punch to the gut. This is no fluffy world with simple magic without price. All the magic has a price, and more often than not it leads you straight to death’s door. For most people just the seeking of the magic will kill you. I particularly enjoyed the scenes with Ahbi and his discovery of the sixth kenning and everything associated with it. But giants? I mean, really? It isn’t bad enough fighting people who can control fire that you have to add that they’re twice the size of normal people? For Hearne if it’s war, the stakes are pretty high, and it gets ugly.

The benefit of the storytelling style is that the book, despite its length, moves along steadily (Hearne is no novice, here). The bits of story lead you along without annoying cliffhangers (mostly), and I never got bored with the switch between characters. It was easy to move between them, and they were recognizable enough that I got lost or confused. The end of the novel felt a little abrupt, but I guess that has more to do with I was ready for the story to continue, despite the exiting climax.

If you’re looking for epic fantasy with fun storytelling and clever worldbuilding, check out A PLAGUE OF GIANTS.

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The Artwork Of Gary Choo

Gary Choo is a concept artist/illustrator based in Singapore. I’ve know Gary for a good many years ( 17, actually ), working together in animation studios in Singapore like Silicon Illusions and Lucasfilm. Gary currently runs an art team at Mighty Bear Games, but when time allows he also draws covers for Marvel comics, and they’re amazing –

The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo

To see more of Gary’s work or to engage him for freelance work, head down to his ArtStation.

The post The Art Of Gary Choo appeared first on Halcyon Realms – Art Book Reviews – Anime, Manga, Film, Photography.

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