Curveballs

 

It’s been a while since I’ve last posted something and (I hope) some of you may have wondered where I went.

Sometimes life throws us a curve, and we manage to swerve, sometimes we don’t and we learn to adapt. This time around, I swung and I missed, and adapting is somewhat draining.

But I’m still around and still swinging. I just need some time off. I’ll be trying to get around and see what I missed – I have some comments I still need to reply to, and I’ll be getting around to those first.

Hopefully by next week, I’ll be back – the third part in the Bartholomew episode has been sitting for more than a month catching dust in my document folder.

I’d have waited till next week and just surprised everyone with the new Barth post, but given I’ve been telling myself “next week” for the past two, I decided to come and let everyone know I’m taking this hiatus.

Comments here are closed as I don’t think I’ll be getting back around here today, but if I do, I’ll try to visit those blogs I missed.

Hope everyone is doing well, and have a nice week ahead!

 

 

 

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The Quest for Home

Earlier this year I posted about Jacqui Murray’s prehistoric book, Survival of the fittest, book 1 in the Crossroads series. Today I’m happy to announce that part two, Quest for Home, was released earlier this month. Here’s a little about the book and the author. And don’t miss the excerpt at the end!

 

Driven from her home. Stalked by enemies. Now her closest ally may be a traitor.

***

Blurb: Chased by a ruthless and powerful enemy, Xhosa flees with her People, leaving behind her African homeland, leading her People on a grueling journey through unknown and perilous lands. As they struggle to overcome treachery, lies, danger, tragedy, hidden secrets, and Nature herself, Xhosa must face the reality that her most dangerous enemy isn’t the one she expected. It may be one she trusts with her life. 

The story is set 850,000 years ago, a time in prehistory when man populated Eurasia. He was a violent species, fully capable of addressing the many hardships that threatened his survival except for one: future man, the one destined to obliterate any who came before.

Based on a true story, this is the unforgettable saga of hardship and determination, conflict and passion as early man makes his way across Eurasia, fleeing those who would kill him. He must be bigger-than-life, prepared time and again to do the impossible because nothing less than the future of mankind is at stake.

Author: Jacqui Murray

Genre: Prehistoric fiction

Print length: 356 pages

Available at:

Kindle US; Kindle UK; Kindle CA; Kindle Au.

 

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for  NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, In the Footsteps of Giants, Winter 2020, the final chapter in the Crossroads Trilogy.

Social Media contacts:

Amazon Author Page:        https://www.amazon.com/Jacqui-Murray/e/B002E78CQQ/

Blog:                                       https://worddreams.wordpress.com

Instagram:                             https://www.instagram.com/jacquimurraywriter/

LinkedIn:                                http://linkedin.com/in/jacquimurray

Pinterest:                                http://pinterest.com/askatechteacher

Twitter:                                   http://twitter.com/worddreams

Website:                                 https://jacquimurray.net

 

Book Excerpt:

Chapter 1

Northern shore of what we now call the Mediterranean Sea

Pain came first, pulsing through her body like cactus spines. When she moved her head, it exploded. Flat on her back and lying as still as possible, Xhosa blindly clawed for her neck sack with the healing plants. Her shoulder screamed and she froze, gasping.

How can anything hurt that much?

She cracked one eye, slowly. The bright sun filled the sky, almost straight over her head.

And how did I sleep so long?

Fractured memories hit her—the raging storm, death, and helplessness, unconnected pieces that made no sense. Overshadowing it was a visceral sense of tragedy that made her shake so violently she hugged her chest despite the searing pain. After it passed, she pushed up on her arms and shook her head to shed the twigs and grit that clung to her long hair. Fire burned through her shoulders, up her neck and down her arms, but less than before. She ignored it.

A shadow blocked Sun’s glare replaced by dark worried eyes that relaxed when hers caught his.

“Nightshade.” Relief washed over her and she tried to smile. Somehow, with him here, everything would work out.

Her Lead Warrior leaned forward. Dripping water pooled at her side, smelling of salt, rotten vegetation, mud, and blood.

“You are alright, Leader Xhosa,” he motioned, hands erratic. Her People communicated with a rich collection of grunts, sounds, gestures, facial expressions, and arm movements, all augmented with whistles, hoots, howls, and chirps.

“Yes,” but her answer came out low and scratchy, the beat inside her chest noisy as it tried to burst through her skin. Tears filled her eyes, not from pain but happiness that Nightshade was here, exactly where she needed him. His face, the one that brought fear to those who might attack the People and devastation to those who did, projected fear.

She cocked her head and motioned, “You?”

Deep bruises marred swaths of Nightshade’s handsome physique, as though he had been pummeled by rocks.  An angry gash pulsed at the top of his leg. His strong upper arm wept from a fresh wound, its raw redness extending up his stout neck, over his stubbled cheek, and into his thick hair. Cuts and tears shredded his hands.

“I am fine,” and he fell silent. Why would he say more? He protected the People, not whined about injuries.

When she fumbled again for her neck sack, he reached in and handed her the plant she needed, a root tipped with white bulbs. She chewed as Nightshade scanned the surroundings, never pausing anywhere long, always coming back to her.

The sun shone brightly in a cloudless sky. Sweltering heat hammered down, sucking up the last of the rain that had collected in puddles on the shore. Xhosa’s protective animal skin was torn into shreds but what bothered her was she couldn’t remember how she got here.

“Nightshade, what happened?”

Her memories were a blur—terrified screams and flashes of people flying through the air, some drowning, others clinging desperately to bits of wood.

Nightshade motioned, slowly, “The storm—it hit us with a fury, the rain as heavy and fierce as a waterfall.”

A memory surfaced. Hawk, the powerful leader of the Hawk People, one arm clutching someone as the other clawed at the wet sand, dragging himself up the beach.

He was alive!

It was Hawk who offered her People a home when they had none, after more than a Moon of fleeing for their lives through lands so desolate, she didn’t know how anyone survived. Finding Hawk and his People, she thought she’d found a new homeland.

Her last hunt with Hawk flashed through her mind—the stone tip they created like the Big Head’s weapon, how she had hung by her ankles from a tree trunk to cross a deep ravine. How he grinned when she reached the other side, chest heaving but radiant with satisfaction. He told her many of his warriors shook with fear as they crossed. His pride in her that day glowed like flames at night.

For the first time in her life, she felt Sun’s warmth inside of her.

She looked around, saw quiet groups huddled together, males talking and females grooming children. Pan-do bent over a child, whispering something in her ear but no Hawk.

Where is he? But she didn’t ask Nightshade. The last time she’d seen the two together, they had fought.

She couldn’t imagine a world without Hawk. They had planned to pairmate, combine their groups into one so strong no one could ever again drive her away. She hadn’t known there were enemies worse than Big Heads until Hawk told her about the Ice Mountain invaders. They attacked Hawk’s People long before Xhosa arrived. Hawk had killed most and chased the rest back to their home, icy white cliffs that extended from Sun’s waking place to its sleeping nest, bereft of plants and animals. When he saw where they lived, he understood why they wanted his land.

The children of those dead invaders grew up and wanted revenge.

Someone moaned. She jerked to find who needed help and realized it was her. She hoped Nightshade didn’t hear.

He glanced at her and then away. “All the rafts were destroyed.”

She shook, trying to dislodge the spider webs in her brain. Hawk’s homebase was squashed between a vast stretch of open land and an uncrossable pond. They should have been safe but the Ice Mountain invaders attacked in a massive horde. Her People—and Hawk’s—were driven into the water. The rafts became their only escape. Floating on a log platform to the middle of a pond too deep to walk across was something no one had ever done but they must or die. The plan was the rafts would carry the People to safety, away from the Invaders.

That hadn’t worked.

“There were too many enemy warriors, Xhosa,” and Nightshade opened and closed his hands over and over to show her. “More than I have ever seen in one place.”

Images of warclubs slashed through her thoughts, flying spears, the howls of warriors in battle. Many died, beaten until they stopped moving, children dragged screaming from mothers. The giant female—Zvi—sprinting faster than Xhosa thought someone her size could, the children El-ga and Gadi in her arms, a spear bouncing off her back. Her size stunned the enemy, immobilized them for a breath which gave Zvi the time she needed to reach safety.

Almost to himself, Nightshade motioned, “I’ve never seen him this brave.”

Xhosa didn’t understand. “Him?” Did he mean Zvi?

“Pan-do. His warriors attacked. They saved us.” Nightshade locked onto the figure of Pan-do as he wandered among the bedraggled groups, settling by an elder with a gash across his chest and began to minister to the wound. 

“I remember,” Xhosa murmured. When the People were trapped between the trees and the water, prey waiting to be picked off, Pan-do’s warriors pounced. That gave Xhosa precious time to push the rafts out onto the water. It seemed none of the enemy knew how to swim. Pan-do sliced through the Ice Mountain invaders without fear, never giving ground.

Nightshade motioned, “He isn’t the same Leader who arrived at our homebase, desperate for protection, his People defeated.”

Xhosa’s hands suddenly felt clammy. “Is Lyta alive?”

Since the death of his pairmate, before Xhosa met him, Pan-do’s world revolved around his daughter, Lyta. He became Leader of his People to protect her. When he arrived at the People’s homebase, Lyta stood out, unusual in an otherwise homogenous group. First, it was her haunting beauty, as though she shined from within, her hair as radiant as Sun. Awe turned to shock when she walked, her gait awkward on malformed feet. She should have been destroyed as a child but Pan-do said he had never considered it. He explained that in Moons of migration, before joining Xhosa’s People, Lyta had never slowed them down. He didn’t expect that to change if the two groups traveled together.

And then she spoke. Her voice was like bird’s song and a gift to People exhausted from the day’s work. It cheered up worried adults and put smiles on the faces of children, its melodic beauty convincing them that everything would work out.

It was more than a Moon after his arrival before Pan-do told Xhosa what he valued most about his daughter. Lyta could see truth simply by watching. No one could hide a lie from her, and she never hid it from her father. Pan-do kept it secret because the people it threatened might try to silence her. He only told Xhosa because Lyta had witnessed a conversation about a plan to kill Xhosa.

One of the people Lyta didn’t recognize but the other, he was someone Xhosa trusted.

When Nightshade nodded, Yes, Lyta lives, Xhosa relaxed but only for a moment.

“Sa-mo-ke?”

Nightshade nodded toward a group of warriors. In the middle, eyes alert and hands energetic, stood Sa-mo-ke.

She sighed with relief. Pan-do’s Lead Warrior was also Nightshade’s greatest supporter outside of the People. When he first arrived, Sa-mo-ke spent Moons mimicking her Lead Warrior’s fighting techniques until his skill became almost as formidable as Nightshade’s with one critical difference. While Nightshade liked killing, Sa-mo-ke did so only when necessary.

Nightshade motioned, “Escape came at a tremendous cost, Xhosa. Many died, the rafts were destroyed, and we are now stranded in an unfamiliar land filled with nameless threats.”

It doesn’t matter, she whispered to herself. We are good at migrating.

She jerked her head around, and then motioned, “Where’s Spirit?”

The loyal wolf had lived with people his entire life. He proved himself often while hunting, defending his packmates, and being a good friend. An image flitted across her mind, Spirit streaking toward the rafts, thrusting his formidable body like a spear through the shocked hordes. The enemy had never seen an animal treat People as pack. Then, the wolf swimming, paws churning the water into whitecaps, gaze locked onto Seeker. Endless Pond was too deep for him to touch the bottom so his head bobbed up and down, feet paddling like a duck’s as he fought to stay above the surface.

Nightshade gestured, “The attackers almost killed Spirit.”

She bit her lip, concentrating. “I remember Mammoth’s trumpets.”

The rare hint of a smile creased his mouth. “Another of Pan-do’s tricks. It saved Spirit and probably all of us. He brayed like a herd of Mammoth thundering toward the shoreline. The invaders fled for their lives.”

Pan-do is clever.

Nightshade grimaced. “But the storm worsened and the rafts foundered. Many of the People managed to cling to logs long enough to crash onto this shore. Then, they saved others. But many died.”

He opened and closed his hands to show how many.

A stillness descended as Nightshade’s gaze filled with a raw emotion he never showed. It shook Xhosa. Nothing frightened her Lead Warrior.

She gulped which hurt her insides. Shallow breaths worked better. Rolling to her hands and knees, she stood which made her head swim and she threw up.

Finally, the dizziness subsided and Xhosa asked, “Hawk?”

Nightshade peered around, hands fidgeting. He examined something on the ground, toed it with his foot. “When the tempest destroyed the rafts, he dragged many to shore, to safety. The last time, he did not return. I tried to find him.”

Soundless tears dampened her face. Nightshade touched her but Xhosa focused on a trail of ants and a worm burrowing into the soft earth. Her vision dimmed and she stumbled, fell, and then crawled, happy for the pain that took her mind off Hawk. When she forced herself up, everything blurred but she inhaled, slowly, and again, until she could finally see clearly.

How dare Hawk die! We had plans. Xhosa shoved those thoughts away. Later was soon enough to deal with them.

“His People—do they know?”

We don’t forget our first

No matter good or bad, we never forget our first.

Today I’m here to share two first reads for me – plus a Friday 13th bonus.

 

Let’s start with non-fiction:

Fishnets in the Far East – Michele E. Northwood

Now this one is a resounding first. It’s a memoir! That’s right, I’m reading non-fiction!

Though I’ll admit the antics this author’s suffered in the hands of Korean chauvinistic men would make an excellent movie. It’s almost like fiction, the drama, misadventures, the humor – they all boil down to a fantastic, somewhat frightful, six months in Korea. I could never tell if the next scene would grip me with tension or laughter.

 

“Here,” said Louise throwing me an empty coffee jar, “Trap it under there, then we can slide some paper underneath it and throw it out of the window.” After a couple of failed attempts – because I lost my nerve whenever it moved – it was finally trapped inside the upturned coffee jar. I then began the process of sliding a folded piece of paper underneath. I was hoping that the cockroach would facilitate the procedure and oblige by stepping onto the stationary, but this one had other ideas. “Oh My God! It’s eating the paper!” I screamed. Sure enough a sizeable chunk had gone from the folded piece of stationary and we could actually hear it munching! This made the thought of actually picking it up decidedly more daunting! “I vote that we just leave it where it is for now!” I said. “We can think about moving it later!” It was unanimously agreed that the cockroach was going nowhere, so we kept it in our room, under the coffee jar and named him Clive. Even the cleaners seemed to respect his position on the carpet and hovered carefully around him. Maybe they thought that Europeans were decidedly weird to want to keep a cockroach as a pet, but they played along.”

Neither of the three dancers – Michele and her two mates, spoke Korean, or were savvy enough to deal with the rudeness, forwardness, and all the declarations of love they received, but they learned, as the saying goes, by the seats of their pants.

I’m impressed Michele didn’t break down and run back home. No, despite all the mistreatment she and her group endured, they went on, auditioning for the next dance, and the next and the next, enduring all the poor quality of the clubs they had to perform in – even in strip clubs!

And then they had their agent, Mr. Lee, so frugal, they had to haggle every time they wanted to get paid – and hunt him down too. I believe he was taking advantage of their ‘free audition’ too.

I had wondered at the end if Michele had had enough and if she’d ask to go home before the six month’s contract was over, but she held on and I could totally relate when she felt nostalgic leaving Korea at the end. It was a chapter of her life where she learned so much, despite not all being nice.

I can’t wait to read this author’s next book, currently at the making, somewhere in Japan.

Totally recommend this one!

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43587835-fishnets-in-the-far-east

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07MLQ1WVQ/

Where the wind blows – Simone Beaudelaire

 

“The irresistible harmony between musicians creates a passionate symphony, but past discords and present clashes sour the melody. Can their love finally ring true?”

99.9% of the books I read has a romantic aspect. Romantic suspense, PNR, thriller/mystery, fantasy/sci-fi; chick lit. No matter what, almost all my reads have some sort of romance. But I can honestly say this is the first time I read a romance where the guy is African American. An African American woman and a white man, yes, biracial couples, yes. A guy with mixed heritage, yes. But a romance where the woman is white and the guy African American, this was a first for me. And so refreshing! It reminds me of a favorite movie from my teen years – Save the last dance.

This is a romantic story between two musicians attracted to each other, but with a lot of baggage in their background. Brooke has her demons to contend with, but a supportive and psychic sister. Kenneth has his family’s and his insecurities about their relationship, but he’s ready to adjust his life and settle down. His mother doesn’t want a white woman for her son, but the rest of his family didn’t stand in his way. I’m glad to say Brooke put Kenneth’s mother in her place, and she came around to their romance later.

The writing is done exceptionally well, the mood dark at times, light at others, the style easy to read.

There are some graphic sex scenes – adds up to the romance, but, again, they’re graphic, so I wouldn’t recommend it for ages less than sixteen. Otherwise it’s a great and fast read!, great for the end of the weekend, or a getaway read.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/46543852-where-the-wind-blows

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1073590232/

And now a Friday 13th feature!

Monstrosity: Tales of Transformation – Laura Diaz de Arce

Blurb:

Dear reader,

When we were children, we dreamed of being heroes. We wanted to slay dragons and defeat the monsters that scared us.

As we grew older, we were forced to try and find our monsters. We had been told they would be easy to spot. Monsters had too much teeth, too much fur, too much size.

These were lies. We stopped wanting to be heroes. We started to want to be more, to be too much. We wanted, needed, more than the world could give us. We wanted more than what we were told we should be. We wanted to become monsters. “If you love well-crafted short stories with unexpected twists, this is the collection for you! Laura Diaz de Arce has a writing style that pulls you right in. Her characters are lively, and I can guarantee that when the twist hits you, you won’t see it coming!” – R. S. Penney, author of Symbiosis and Desa Kincaid

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45158396-monstrosity

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07PNP1Y9H/

Suicide – the ripper in the heart

Today, September 10th is World Suicide Prevention day. This poem – yes, dark and morbid – was written a while back and put aside. I’m not sure if I wrote it while feeling down or inspired, but this is the end result:

The Mind, The Heart and The Dark

 

Standing at the lip of a chasm,

The darkness anticipates, ripples and spasms,

This vast place, like a sentient phantasm,

Beckons you forward with enthusiasm.

 

The wall has formed, tall and hard,

Around a mind that feels charred,

It’s an empty, though heavy heart,

With many facets and jagged shards.

 

The wind that pushes and buffets is cold,

The blood pumps like frost and snow,

A nagging flicker urges you to go,

But the darkness has blocked the road home.

 

You have the actions and locked words to speak,

The key to free your emotions of this deep sleep,

But from this side, none is clear enough to read,

They look dishonest and insincere.

 

You wonder if there’s a way to resurrect,

The mind while the body is not yet dead,

If the heart still beats but no longer feels,

The love that could both hurt and heal.

 

It’s much easier to leave and hide,

As it takes strength to free the mind,

To drive away the dark within the heart,

And make the empty vessel shine bright.

 

The chasm beckons, are you ready to embark?

Snow and frost pump in the heart,

The mind observes, somewhat apart,

Which will it be, the light or the dark?

 

 

The recliner incident

The past two weeks past in a blur of back to school and edits and random need-to-dos, and honestly, I have no idea where the time went.

But I’m back and today I’m posting the follow up to Barth the Moo and his panty-liners, and how “I” almost became a murderer.

***.

Once settled in one of the guest’s suite, I headed to join the family and friends gathered in the patio, passing by aunt Crozella’s relaxation room. I ducked my head inside, found it empty.

Five minutes, I told myself.

I’d been sitting in the comfortable recliner for almost half an hour, watching some classic show I didn’t know the name of when I picked the wrong remote and clicked. Instead of the channels switching, the chair behind me began to vibrate and undulate. Delighted, I forgot about the bad show, leaned my head back so my neck could benefit from the massage and moaned with pleasure. After my long flight and sweaty, horrifying drive with Barth the Moo and his scented panty liners, I really needed this.

As if my thoughts had conjured the guy, I heard him call my name, his voice so close. Alarmed, I closed my eyes just as his steps stopped at the door.

“Hey,” he said, but I didn’t reply.

In hindsight, I should’ve paused the massage, maybe even turned off the TV. Still, , nothing would’ve prepared me for what Barth did next.

Moving closer, he tried again, “you asleep?”

I swallowed my “duh” and suppressed the need to roll my eyes, as well as prevent a groan of gratitude from escaping when the back of the recliner changed into a rhythmic percussion.

“It’s a seizure!” he shouted, and startled, my reactions were two seconds too slow. I suddenly found myself dragged to the floor with Barth over me, one hand – thankfully without any panty liner – holding my head sideways.

Before I could say anything, Barth had the audacity of shoving two meaty fingers into my mouth and pinning my tongue.

“Uhmmmmmmmmm” I tried buckling, but all I accomplished was getting Barth to pin my legs down with his knee. In the back of my mind, I was pretty sure he was doing it all wrong.

“Call for an ambulance!” Barth shouted, and soon a stampede of running feet approached.

“Uhmmmmm!”

“It’s a seizure!” Barth shouted to whoever reached the relaxation room first.

I tried moving my head to see who had come and plead for mercy with my eyes. Barth shouted, “see how her eyes are pin wheeling! Call the ambulance!”

And Victor, the good Samaritan he was, dialed 911 while everyone piled around me. I let myself go limp, hoping someone would have the good sense to pull Barth off of me – and keep him far, far away until my murderous urges have passed. I’d never live this one down, I was sure of it.

**Did you miss the previous piece and the panty liner incident? Check it out here: https://authorsinspirations.wordpress.com/2019/07/22/pun-fun-and-carefree/

Hope you had fun!

Just a beggar

Hey peeps, today I’m here to beg, again, for your vote for my book.

Most votes last time didn’t go through due to their precaution (against cheating) system, and the votes are about to close on august 20th. I’ve been on the lead since April, and I wasn’t going to post about it again, but today I discovered I’m in a tie with another book.

Please help!

Here’s a step by step instruction on how to vote:

1- Click on the link below

2- Go to page 8, fantasy category (there’s a 1/16 with arrows to go back and forth through the pages. Click on the arrows until you get to 8/16)

3- Click on my book, Heir of ashes by Jina S. Bazzar

4- Choose which platform you want to use to vote – Twitter or Facebook

5- Confirm your vote by clicking on your account name

 

Once you’ve done those steps, your vote should’ve gone through. There’s no need to create any accounts or sign up for a newsletter.

 

If your vote went through the last time, two things may happen when you click on my book:

 

1- You’ll be sent to page 9 to vote in that category.

2- You’ll be shown the number of votes I have.

Link: https://www.tckpublishing.com/2019-readers-choice-voting-page/

 

I really appreciate any support I get at this stage.

Thank you very much!

Philosopher Vs. housewife

I was doing the dishes yesterday, one huge pile of dirty glasses, plates, utensils and pots to one side; the empty dish rack on the other when the philosopher in me reared her head up and spoke.

The dishes theory states that: Dirty dishes are inversely proportional to clean dishes, the same way clean dishes are inversely proportional to dirty dishes.

This means that, like the high and low of see-saws, for every pile of dirty dishes stacked, there’s an equally low stack of clean dishes on the other side. The opposite is also true. For every stack of clean dishes piled to one side, there’s an equally low stack of dirty dishes on the other.

In simpler terms, washing dishes only make them available to be dirtied once more, while dirtying dishes mean you’ll only have to clean them again.

***

Sorry folks, just a little venting for today’s post.

I’m equally frustrated and amazed that the faster I clean, the faster everything is back in the sink!

 

Two more!

The reviled book cover

The Reviled – Dark Fey #1

By Cynthia A. Morgan

 

4/5 Brilliant twist on the battle of good and evil!

I enjoyed this story very much – the ultimate war between dark and light, good and evil, and how things aren’t always what they seem to be.

Ayla is a powerful fey of the light, her abilities rare even among her peers. She was kept isolated growing up, being trained to use her abilities and become a guardian. The author gives us an introductory insight of the background fairly early on in the story, so when I started reading, I had a good idea of how each side, the dark fey and the light fey, worked.

That said, I’m not quite sure how to write this review. I both liked and disliked the main characters – admired Ayla (light fey) her tenacity and disliked the way she froze in the face of danger; Admired Gairynszvl (dark fey) and his need to leave the legion, disliked the way he seemed unbalanced at times, wanting to cause Ayla harm but being compassionate at the same time. I suppose he was meant to be portrayed this way, as he was both fighting the dark and the light within himself.

There’s a brush over a love triangle in this story, and like any other love triangle, you end up feeling sorry for the one left out.

I liked the way the story ended up in an optimist note, the way you get an idea of what’s coming on book two.

The writing was dramatic, vivid, and with a lot of original flourish, the pacing fast at times (the kind that makes you flip page after page), slow at others, but it’s only a 170 pages book, so it’s a quick read all around.

I recommend it!

Add it to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/29843327

Or get your copy on amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Reviled-Dark-Fey-Book-ebook/dp/B00RZMVNQQ

The cracked altar book cover

The cracked altar

By Timothy J.R. Rains

 

4/5 stars! Entertaining read with lots of intrigue and mystical aspects.

The beginning of this book grabbed me right off. It reminded me a little of a cross between Brave heart and Kingdom of dreams – world-wise, I mean.

I liked that I could visualize the scenes with no trouble. I liked Hinkle and her character. But if I’m honest, I wasn’t sure if the main characters were supposed to be portrayed as villainous – because that’s how I saw Sir Gilkrist – arrogant, self-serving and infuriating. And then we have Kerstin, a witch everyone feared and disliked and who actually acted the part of the bad guy – save for when she was asked to save parts of the village. But the author cast enough shadow around Kerstin’s character to make one wonder about her ulterior motives, and that twist at the end just made me more curious.

The battle scenes were vivid and packed with action – which I enjoyed very much. And although I didn’t like the way Sir Gilkrist treated Hinkle, I know that’s how men from a past era treated their servants.

The plot was a little confusing at first, I couldn’t figure it out – Sir Gilkrist stated his goal was to find the missing princess, but he didn’t seem to be giving much thought about her. And Kerstin, also one of the main characters, only showed up later in the story.

The spellbook was only mentioned later in the story – I wouldn’t have known it was a major point if the blurb hadn’t mentioned it. Those were my only– niggles, as a fellow friend likes to call them, otherwise, the book had my attention all the way.

The writing was simple and easy to understand, and save for a few creepy scenes, there wasn’t any trigger points in the story. It’s suited for readers age 12+, but I think it’d appeal to an older target, maybe 16+.

Add it to your Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/43729619

Or get a copy from amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Cracked-Altar-Timothy-J-Rains-ebook/dp/B07KQNNZ4H

 

Weird

 

Back a while I read a Goodread’s review for a Thai cookbook. At the time, though I found it weird, I told myself a cookbook was still a book, so the rules for rating still counted.

The other day, again on Goodreads, I saw a 3 star rating for another cookbook, and the weirdness of it came back.

How do you rate a cookbook? What do you take in consideration?

I recalled all the cookbooks my mom had and remember reading them when young. What’s there to rate?

Is it based on how great the recipes are? Is it based on how the recipes are explained? Or the yummy pictures? Do you have to cook all the recipes in that book before you rate it? If you think not, then why not? You’re reviewing and rating that book based on its quality, right? How can you tell the quality without trying all the recipes? Maybe the ones you didn’t try – for lack of ingredients, or because you didn’t feel like trying that one, or because it took time – were exactly the kind of food you like to eat. Wouldn’t that then, be unfair to the author who wrote it? Wouldn’t it be like rating a book without reading it?

What if you find only one or two handful of recipes you enjoy, but they’re great recipes that you now cook for every special occasion?

Would you rate the cookbook you have, or do you think it’s weird too? I’m seriously curious, guys, how do you rate a cookbook?

Pun, fun and carefree

It was the strangest summer of my life. It started with a wedding invitation that required me to leave my comfortable, quiet hills for a week in the noisy, stinky and crowded city.

The first incident happened when my designated chauffeur, a guy from overseas called Bartholomew, affectionately dubbed Barth the Moo for his quirky character, arrived at the airport in aunt Crozella’s ancient van – the one she used to pick us from the school’s playground when my parents were out of town.

Climbing into the passenger’s seat, I noted the pack of carefree panty liner, sitting open above the dashboard at once. If Barth found it strange, he didn’t say anything as he climbed into the driver’s seat and thumped the door shut with so much force, the van rocked for a few seconds.

“Ac ain’t workin’ so we gotta leave the windows down,” he said as he started the ignition. The old van farted, burped and finally roared to life, the sound like of those old western trains chugging along the railroad. And god, just as loud. I could just see myself dying in half an hour from a headache, or a heat stroke (temps were over three digits!), maybe even an accident when the old metal can exploded with us inside.

I saw it then, how could I miss it? Barth had a panty liner stuck to his right palm. He grabbed the steering wheel with both hands – the thing looked like it needed a sailor to navigate – unaware that he had something glued to his hand.

I recalled Cousin Deloris talking about Barth’s prostheses, but I was pretty sure it was the left leg, not the right arm. And then I saw the second panty liner, stuck to the headrest of the driver’s seat. And when I pulled away, there it was, another one on the headrest of the passenger’s seat.

“Uh, Barth?” I said, unsure how to say this. How did you tell a guy he had a female sanitary napkin stuck to his hand?

Barth noted my flushed face, gave me a reassuring smile that showcased white, crooked teeth, swiped his right palm over his face, patted the sweat from his neck.

“You’re hot?” he asked, reaching for the carefree box and offering it to me. “It’s great absorbent,” he dropped the box on my lap. “It’s perfumed as well, so you don’ smell sour either.”

I stared at the box in horror, and all I could think was that I had an entire week ahead.

***

A few days ago, I stumbled upon a ‘sanitizing napkin’ ad. The first thing that came to mind was something that killed germs and bacteria. The previous line started with ‘highly absorbent’, so my mind produced the image of hands rubbing a tissue between sweaty palms. It was only when I read the entire paragraph and the word ‘female’ and ‘pantyliner’ came up that I realized what I was reading.

This is just a piece my muse spat out amidst the edits – I know, we need a break!

Hope you had fun!