Stage 3, a bad cold and hopping on a plane

A week or so ago I promised I would share my thoughts on Stage 3 by Ken Stark – the first read in my new years promise to step outside of my reading habits. Then two things happened…

First I got a really, really bad cold. I kid you not – I think I had a man-flu. From a sore throat via congested sinuses to red, swollen running eyes. And after that, I had to hop on a plane and fly from my beloved Rockies back to Scandinavia.

Oh, the irony. I won’t put any spoilers here, but if you read the book, you’ll understand.

Anyways, I don’t think I’ve turned into a zombie, yet. It does admittedly feel like it in the mornings, but since that is a regular thing for me, I don’t worry overly much.

So, what did I think of the book then?

I’ll start by saying that I liked it, quite a bit more than I expected.

The plot was interesting, with a lone man finding himself in the middle of an infected world, trying to survive in an environment where people in various zombie stages try to destroy him. The battle for survival, and how that impacts us as humans, is something I always find intriguing and I think it was nicely done in this book.

I also liked our hero’s somewhat surprising companion, and how this changed the dynamic in the story. The way interaction with a helpless, but not useless, victim made the hero change, and grow, was one of the big plus points for me. And – it must be said – I found it immensely gratifying that it (sorry, tiny spoiler) wasn’t a beautiful, big breasted, helpless woman who needed the help and protection.

There were quite a lot of gory descriptions of zombies (duh?), and they made me jump every time there was one of the annoying, random, clunking sounds from our baseboard heaters. Since I read it at night, with the lights off, I had to turn my iPad around each time and use the light from it to “just check”… Yes, I scare easily, but really – just take a look at the cover. Who wouldn’t be scared, I ask you?

There were also a lot of fighting going on, and even though the kicks, punches and slamming of various objects into various zombie parts were well described – here’s my only complaint – there were a bit too many for my taste. If you’re into this genre, you’ll probably disagree with me on this, perhaps even violently – ha ha.

All in all; A good read that I’m happy I picked up, four stars out of five for me. I might even read another post-apocalyptic thriller, with or without zombies, and I’ll definitely keep my ear to the ground for another one from Ken Stark.

Now I’m on the lookout for another book that isn’t what I usually would pick up, and I have decided to go for something less scary this time – so if anyone has a recommendation for a historical autobiography, then let me know!


Link to Stage 3 on Amazon

New Years resolution – step outside

Wishing a Happy and Prosperous 2017 to everyone!

So, my New Years resolution this year is to step outside my normal reading habits. I know what normally works for me (fantasy, romance, murder-mystery, classics, more fantasy, humor) but maybe it’s time to find something new?

Every month, I’ll read something that I normally wouldn’t have picked up. It could be from a genre I don’t browse for books in, have a cover that doesn’t draw me in, or else it’s something that is just in general totally outside my usual reading habits. I’ll keep my mind wide open, and we’ll see what happens…

Seriously – it’s books so it can’t go wrong, right?

I enthusiastically decided to start with a post-apocalyptic zombie thriller because being a scaredy-cat; that is seriously not my thing!

Or so I thought :)

To my surprise, I rather enjoyed ‘Stage 3’ by Ken Stark. I’ll share my thoughts better when my hands have stopped shaking and I’m not looking over my shoulder for a deranged zombie whose “fresh blood caked her mouth and chin, and stained the front of her garment, dripping in little rivulets down her bare legs”… Yish!

Inbetween tapping away on Sweet Water, I’ll start looking for February’s 2017StepOutside-book. Hm… what shall I choose? Manga? Non-fiction? Political Suspence? A kids book might be good?

If anyone has any good ideas, just let me know!


Wilder – Release day!

Finally – Wilder is now available on Amazon:

Haven’t read the series this story spins off from? Take the opportunity to grab Courage, Reason and Joy – they are only .99c each during December!


Wilder – Birds of a Feather #1

As usual – I draw what I write…
Wilder is available for preorder on Amazon!


Me and the boys

I often make fun of my life with our two big dogs, and life is pretty hilarious around our boys – but the truth is that most of the time it’s like this…dogcartoon-sitting_fb

Friday’s ramble: How many Tolkien quotes can you find?

Yesterday I let go of my own stories for a while and like so often before, I turned to someone who was much more skilled in the art of wordsmithing than I’ll ever be – Mr. Tolkien. Then I geeked out a little…

How many Tolkien quotes can you find in the below?
(actual quotes from LOTR and the Hobbit, not *gasp* the movies)

I’m sure someone will know, or else I’ll put an answer up here eventually so don’t spend the whole weekend trying to figure it out… relax and hang out with your family and friends instead – I know I will!

Preparations for a dinner party (aka ‘Someone’s being more of a Tolkien-nerd than usual’)
Last week we were having a long-expected party and, as usual, we were late with our preparations. Since we obviously needed to provide dinner, priority one was going to the supermarket.

“I’ll take the narrow back roads, they’ll be quicker!” I called out, running toward my tiny car.

“I’ll be right behind you, so don’t go where I can’t follow,” my husband shouted quickly from his huge pick-up truck, which was unexpected from my usually slow-speaking hubby who’d never say anything unless it’s worth taking a long time to say.

Since I planned to make Italian risotto, we started out by searching the isles for Arborio rice and balsamic vinegar. This proved to be harder than I thought and I was on the verge of deciding to go for mashed potatoes instead when I stumbled upon a tiny, old lady who directed me to my goal, proving yet again that even the smallest person can change the course of the future.

I thanked the woman profusely, thinking that there’s nothing like looking, if you want to find something. And you certainly usually find something if you look, but it’s not always quite the something you were after, unfortunately. To my horror, the best vinegar was sold out, which of course put me firmly on the road to disaster, but spine and also courage is found in unlikely places. I promptly picked up a bottle of the cheap stuff, met the hubby at the check-out where we spent the time waiting in line arguing about who’d go to the home store to buy scented candles for the table.

“A man like me does not simply walk into the home improvement store,” my husband rumbled and dangled the keys to his truck right in front of me.

This was true, but the noise from the key ring irritated me, so I snatched them out of his hand.

“I will take the ring,” he said, “though I don’t know the way to make risotto so you’d better not stay in that place for freaking ever.”

Then he left with a relieved grin, and I proceeded forward in the infuriatingly slow line.

As I put the bags into the trunk of my car I noticed a man passing me. He was walking slowly and, to my horror, there were tears in his eyes, so I took a quick step toward him, reaching for my phone to call for help.

“I’m fine,” he muttered. “Got shit in my left eye, though.”

“Sorry, I thought you were crying,” I said, feeling like a fool, assuming that he’d been staggering around in confusion on the parking lot outside our local Whole Foods, but not all those who wander are lost, of course.

“Nah, I do not weep, for not all tears are an evil and in my case, they’re a blessing. Should flush the dust out just right.”

I nodded to him, bid my goodbyes and made my way home with my groceries, at last. Oh my, precious little time to prepare before the guests would arrive, I thought.

As I drove, I thought about who we’d invited. There was my buddy Morris, of course, and his joked always entertained. Although, he usually paused for a long time before the actual punch line, and letting someone else always have to carry on the story was annoying. Our other friends never seemed to mind, though, and I felt convinced we’d have a fantastic time like we always did.

When I got home, the table was set, the grill was prepared, and as I closed the door, my husband called out to me, “Everything is set, honey, and all we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us. Do you want to shower first or should I?”

“What have I got in my pocket?” I murmured to myself and pulled out a quarter.

“I’ll flip you for it!” I replied.

Friday’s ramble: Dinner in a small town in Italy

‘Wilder’ is sent off for edit, so I threw myself straight into ‘Sweet Water’, the next book in that series, and – finally. In that story, there’s this girl with an enormous need for peace of mind, and I know just where to take her. I wrote a guest post about it for Mama Reads Blog a while back, but if you missed it, here it is again.
I think I’ll go and make myself an espresso now, and attempt to do the impossible; find a quiet corner in my busy house. Then I’ll kick off the weekend, sniffing my coffee and trying to catch that zen state I often end up in when I have dinner in a small town in Italy. Maybe I’ll find it, though most likely I won’t, but regardless, I’m sure the weekend will be great.

Hope you’ll all have a good one too!

Dinner in a small town in Italy
In a small town in northern Italy, there’s this place that I love. It’s just a small restaurant, not fancy at all – but just like anywhere you go in that region, the food is amazing.
I’m usually the first one to sit down at a table. They open at 7 pm, which to a Swede is well past dinner time, and when I walk in five minutes past the hour, the staff always smile widely. The waitress sweeps her arm out in a wide arc to indicate that I can indeed sit anywhere I like. I usually pick a small table in a corner, with my back against the wall.

The pizza baker always shouts a friendly ‘Buonasera’ from behind his counter and wiggles the wooden spatula he uses to shuffle the pies in and out from the huge oven. Then the waitress comes with the menu, and pours me a small complimentary glass of Prosecco, sparkling white wine. The first time I was there I protested, saying in my limited Italian that I’d prefer Lambrusco, the sparkling red from the area. She looked at me and replied gently that yes, of course I did. For dinner. This was Prosecco, to start with.

So I sit there, inhaling deeply. My nostrils slowly fill with the smell of garlic and tomato, mushroom and whatever vegetables they’re cooking in the kitchen. It’s quiet and peaceful, and I sip my Prosecco wondering what to have for dinner, knowing that I’ll end up having a pizza. Nothing tastes like the pizza at that place. It’s thin, with just a splash of tomato and a thin layer of Mozzarella. On top of the cheese is the ham, from Parma, of course, and perhaps a few cherry tomatoes. Finishing it off is a handful of Arugula, and if you feel just a little bit crazy, you can sprinkle it with the chili flavored oil that always has its place on the table.

Then people start to fill the restaurant. Slowly the sounds are increasing, people are talking and laughing, glasses are clinked, and there are soft sounds from cutlery scraping across the plates. The smells from the kitchen intensify, the staff walks faster but they still never seem to rush. Once the kids are fed, they walk around freely, and they never disturb anyone. They don’t run and don’t shout; they just blend into the crowd somehow.
Sometimes people come up to me to talk, and I try to reply but my Italian is mostly a mix of French with a few words of Spanish so unless they speak English (and they normally don’t) we end up smiling and nodding before they move on.

I can stay there the whole night, and I never get any dirty looks from the staff for lingering. They offer me espresso and Nocino, a sweet walnut liqueur, and let me sit there for as long as I like. Sometimes I write, and sometimes I draw, but most of the time I end up with my pen in my hand, head leaned back against the wall behind me, just watching.
I haven’t included this place in a story yet. Somehow it’s too precious, and I haven’t found the words to describe it just right, but one day I will. When one of my heroines finds herself desperately needing peace of mind, I’ll take her to my special place. Until then, I’ll just keep it to myself.