Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic

Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic (The Dowser #1)Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic by Meghan Ciana Doidge

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I came across this book on accident and boy, am I glad I did. I got sucked in shortly after I started listening to it (I bought both the book and the audible book) and it was a roller coaster ride of epic proportions. Loved it and will be buying the second in the series as soon as possible. My only issue was that there wasn’t much romance in it. I had been under the assumption it was a romantic urban fantasy. But it’s not like I missed it too much. Loved Jade’s voice, her sister, the complicated relationships with the other magical beings, and ultimately the mystery all rolled up into a thick layer of chocolate frosting. Lovely. Excited I have found a new favorite author.

View all my reviews

The Desert Jewel- Cover Reveal

Author: Natalina Reis

Title: Desert Jewel

Genre: Romantic Fantasy

Release Date: October 8, 2016

Publisher: Hot Tree Publishing

Cover Designer: Claire Smith

Add to TBR: /book/show/31123668-desert-jew el





Rebellion brews inside Milenda’s heart as the date for the Trials approach. As the

heiress to the throne of Natale, she is forced to choose a consort from the survivors of the grueling quest across the desert.

Milenda’s heart belongs to Jaali and wants no part in the ancient and cruel ritual, but the Elders—the true rulers of Natale—will not back down.

Jaali was brought from the far North as a child slave. His only chance to be with the woman he loves is to volunteer for the Trials, no matter how dangerous or how much Milenda objects.

Together they begin their journey of discovery and rebellion against the Elders. But will their love be enough or will they lose everything they’ve fought for?





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Natalina wrote her first romance in collaboration with her best friend at the age of 13. Since then she has ventured into other genres, but romance is first and foremost in almost everything she writes. Her novel, We Will Always Have the Closet, is her first published romance.

After earning a degree in tourism and foreign languages, she worked as a tourist guide in her native Portugal for a short time before moving to the United States. She lived in three continents and a few islands, and her knack for languages and linguistics led her to a master’s degree in education. She lives in Virginia where she has taught English as a Second Language to elementary school children for more years than she cares to admit.

Natalina doesn’t believe you can have too many books or too much coffee. Art and dance make her happy and she is pretty sure she could survive on lobster and bananas alone. When she is not writing or stressing over lesson plans, she shares her life with her husband and two adult sons.

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Desert Jewel – Coming Soon


Hot Tree Publishing Presents

Desert Jewel

by Natalina Reis

Rebellion brews inside Milenda’s heart as the date for the Trials approaches. As the heiress to the throne of Natale, she is forced to choose a consort from the survivors of the grueling quest across the desert.

Milenda’s heart belongs to Jaali and wants no part in the ancient and cruel ritual, but the Elders—the true rulers of Natale—will not back down.

Jaali was brought from the far North as a child slave. His only chance to be with the woman he loves is to volunteer for the Trials, no matter how dangerous or how much Milenda objects.

Together they begin their journey of discovery and rebellion against the Elders. But will their love be enough or will they lose everything they’ve fought for?



Cursed – New Release

Cursed is live!!!

The line between sanity and sobriety can quickly fade when you can talk to the dead…

Gina Flinn is no stranger to the dark side. She’s been walking the tightrope with death for years. Plagued with abnormal abilities ranging from picking up old memories to reading auras, Gina found herself in a downward spiral into drugs and alcohol.

She’s been clean and sober for a year now, but when she starts seeing the pesky ghost of the old lady down the street, things start to unravel. It’s a minor annoyance until a ghost of a woman in red shows up and starts tormenting Gina with visions of a violent past

Seeing a side of death that no one should leads Gina straight into Ben Peterson’s path…

In an attempt reunite the old lady with her beloved cat, Gina runs into Ben, who is eager to help her. But no one can help her—the woman in red is relentless, which forces Gina to turn back to the comfort of intoxication. She blacks out and wakes up in bed with Ben, only to find herself on the wrong side of the law.

Gina got into a fight with one of her classmates during her blackout, and now the girl is missing…

Gina is the number one suspect, and with her history of substance abuse and erratic behavior, everyone is sure she’s guilty. She knows she’s innocent and it all leads back to the woman in red.

But with the police breathing down her neck, and Ben the only person willing to believe her story, Gina must find a way to prove her innocence or finally accept that maybe she really is…







About the author

Nykki lives in Montana with her husband and three kids–who may or may not be the boss of her. She is obsessed with ghost stories and virtually anything paranormal. Add in her obsession with YA fiction and this book was born. She also has a huge appreciation of humor, and sarcasm is her second language.

True Magic

As writers we often have to do a lot of world building. Some of us go to even bigger lengths and build maps and pictures to go with the world your mind and creative juices created. When I was in Portugal in July I got to experience the work of someone who not only created a fantastic world in his mind but actually built. Early in the 20th century a man with a lot of money and an obviously creative mind was able to hire someone equally creative (Luigi Manini who was among other things a set-designer for La Scala of Milan and many other theaters and opera houses around Europe) to make the musings of his fantasy world come to life. This was a 14 year long endeavor that, thanks to an ambitious restoration done by a local foundation (Cultursintra Foundation) is now open to the public.

Sintra, a little town built on a lonely mountain just a few miles north of Lisbon, has always been one of my favorite places in the world. With its own micro-climate and wealth of historical lore, Sintra is a magical place that shares its geography with lush forests and equally luxuriant architecture. It was once the place of choice as a summer residence of the Portuguese royal families who took refuge here from the hot summers in Lisbon. Poets like Lord Byron also favored this location and I can well understand why. You cannot visit Sintra without feeling inspired to write. For me, Sintra is a portal to live poetry and magic.


Vila de Sintra

On the very top of the mountain, The Moorish Castle- often shrouded in clouds and mist – gives the visitor the illusion of stepping back in time. As you drive or walk through town you can’t miss the overwhelming feel of history. The architecture, the steep, narrow roads and streets, the palaces and the villas, even the humble homes remind you of another place, another time.

This time I had a mission. I had, since moving to the US too many years ago, found out about this mysterious place called Quinta da Regaleira. Pictures of its wrongly-named Inverted Well are everywhere in the internet. I pride myself of knowing my own country very well. I studied tourism and history and I have visited places no-one even knows about. However, this place had been a private property until after I left for the US and as such it had never been publicized. It was finally opened to the public in 1996 and it has become the fodder for many stories and fantasies. It is said (I couldn’t confirm it) that the Masons and the Rosicrucian still hold their secret meetings and rituals onsite.

This magical place is housed halfway up the Serra (mountain) and other than the turrets of the main house you cannot see it from the road. Like most properties in the area, Quinta da Regaleira is protected by tall stone walls. The main palace is amazing. I was drooling over the intricate wood-sculptured ceilings of the house (there aren’t two with the same design), the neo-manueline style of its architecture, the many towers, even a small lab reminiscent of classic literature. However, you quickly forget the house once you start your walk through the massive forested property.

Qt da Regaleira

I can almost guarantee that this is where all the fauns, fairies and other magical creatures came to live in as progress made them homeless around the country. The whole garden –a totally inadequate word for it – rises upwards. If you don’t like to walk and/or climb do not visit this place. You can’t avoid it. There are very few flat surfaces in the property. It would take me pages to describe the whole place because it is loaded with buildings and features that bespeak of wondrous things. There are lakes galore, caves, wells, towers and turrets, fountains and some statuary. I made friends with a few gods from mythology along the way.

Of course, the queen of the ball is the famous Inverted Well. This is actually a misnomer. There is indeed an inverted well but because of its much humbler characteristics it hasn’t made its way to Internet fame as yet. The so called Inverted Well of cyber-fame is actually called the Initiates’ Well (Poço Iniciático), a subterranean tower that sinks almost 100 feet into the earth.  A spiral staircase winds down and around it and its walls are punctured here and there with empty niches (ritual altars?) to the bottom, a beautiful mosaic floor that opens up into a dark (and I mean dark) maze of tunnels, one of which ends on a small lake. Here you have the rare opportunity of walking on water (not really. It just looks that way). When you stand on the bottom of the well and look up, you know you just left reality and entered some other realm.

Poço dos Iniciados                             On the bottom

I spent the whole day at the Quinta and I still didn’t see all I wanted to explore. I wanted to sit on a rock under the shade of the beautiful forest and write. I thought maybe I could buy a tent and just live on the grounds but I was told I wouldn’t be allowed. Too bad. Everyone should be able to experience the enchantment at least once in a lifetime. For now, I carry the magic with me, like a little pocket muse until such time that I can return.

View from the bottom

The Magic Book (flash fiction)

The Magic Book

With a flurry of pages, the book fell from his shriveled hands and dropped to the dirty floor. Gin followed the book with his eyes, worried for a moment it would fall in the puddle of vomit collected by the wrinkled old man dying on the chair. He knew he should feel sorry for the frail old gentleman meeting his maker right before his eyes but he wasn’t; he couldn’t. That was no frail old man dying an agonizing slow death on that chair. That was the diabolic man who had kept Gin imprisoned for 10 years.

Gin had woken up that morning with no plans, no direction. His life as a slave did not afford him any illusions or time to make plans of any kind. He got up before the sun was up and by the time the majestic star made its daily appearance in the skies, Gin would have already milked the cow, baked bread, and swept all the floors of the mansion where he lived with his master. The old man was prone to fickle moods and Gin did not want to risk being the one to lead him to one of his darkest ones. At times when his master blamed him for his dark moods, Gin almost always got beaten to a pulp and left in a corner of the kitchen to lick his own wounds. The boy had gotten smarter with the passage of the years and treaded very carefully around the old master.

That morning the master had woken up in a foul mood and Gin had done his best to appease him by serving him warm fresh bread with molten butter, delicious hot tea sweetened with the sweetest of honeys, and a bowl full of the freshest ripe fruit the master so liked. Yet, nothing had swayed the old man from his mean streak, his cruel demeanor. By lunchtime Gin had a broken tooth and a bleeding gash on his forehead. “Lunch better be to my liking, boy,” the decrepit old man yelled at him, “or you are in for a very bad afternoon.”

Now, hearing the gurgling sound of white foam collecting in his master’s throat, Gin smiled. He was still not sure where he had gathered the courage to do it but it was done indeed; the poison he had saved from a rat’s hunt a few months before had proven invaluable as the special spice in the cruel man’s supper. Watching the evil man die slowly and painfully, something on the floor caught the boy’s eye. There was a glow coming from the book his master had dropped.

Strange, Gin thought stepping over the vomit to retrieve the volume. It had fallen open and the boy noticed with a start that the words on the page were moving around the pictures inside. He stared fascinated, forgetting the dying man for a moment. “What kind of magic is this?” he asked out loud to no-one in particular. Looking at it closer, he saw the comic figures moving around within the confines of their cels. His head tilted to the side and if he was really quiet he could hear sounds coming from the pages of the book.

The boy looked up at his master, inches away from death and frowned. “What have you been hiding old fart?” he said. The old man made a sound that may have been an attempt at a reply but could just as easily been a random sound. “You could have treated me with kindness. You wouldn’t be burning inside right now.” The man’s eyes closed and his heart stopped beating. For him it was the end of an agonizing death but for Gin, the young man who had been spirited from his crib into slavery and abject poverty it was just the beginning of everything. This magic book could be the source of income he needed to start his life anew.

Examining the book even more closely he couldn’t see anything that would explain the moving figures or the sounds he could hear. At first glance it was just an ordinary book. He tried to poke it and that’s when it happened; his finger went through the pages. He felt a chill crawling from his finger into his hand and frightened, he pulled the hand back. “What is this?” he exclaimed, shaking like a leaf on an autumn tree.

The book was glowing brighter now as beckoning him and he couldn’t resist; he tried again. This time his hand went in farther, up to his elbow, the tingling chill invading him one cell at a time. Still scared, he pulled out once again.

What would happen if he stepped on the book? Did he dare try it? Was he brave enough or adventurous enough to attempt it? What exactly was holding him up? Hadn’t he dreamt of adventure and excitement his whole life? This was his chance.

He placed the book on the floor, opened and inviting. Gingerly he stepped forward until his bare toes were touching the pages. Gin took a deep breath and hopped on top of the book and fell…he fell down an empty space, cold and uninviting and he kept falling as if there was no end to the abyss. Eventually, he did reach the soft bottom with a great thump and a giant cloud of dust.

Gathering his wits, the boy jumped to his feet and realized he was in a room not much different than the one he had just come from. A squeak told him he was not alone. He turned around slowly, afraid of what he may find.

“So, you thought you had got rid of me?” said the cruel old man, sitting on a chair much like the one Gin had just seen him die on. How was this possible? “Don’t bother trying to understand it. The book you jumped in is a gateway to a world where I live forever and from which there is no escape. You, my nasty little boy, just condemned yourself to eternity with me. Now, go fetch me my lunch!”