#Poetry: Don’t Look Away…

I found this heartbreaking poem while sorting out some old papers.

It was written more than ten years ago by my granddaughter, Hayley.

 

 

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Image by Pixabay.com

 

Don’t Look Away

Rich or poor, thin or stout

You’ll know when bullies are about.

There’ll be eyes that are crying

And those that are looking away.

‘No Sir, I didn’t see what happened…

I really couldn’t say.’

Or the bullies will get me tomorrow,

When you are looking away.

When the bullies shout and push you about

And when you call for help,

I won’t tell you to go away,

Don’t make a fuss dear,

As grown-ups are prone to say.

I will stand beside you and say

My name is Hayley Steele

I will not look away…

©written by Hayley Steele

(Anita’s granddaughter)

 

 

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Image by Pixabay.com

 

 

Cover Reveal for End of Day by Mae Clair @MaeClair1 #MysterySuspenseSupernatural

Today we welcome Mae Clair to our blog. She is a good friend and a phenomenal writer, we recently enjoyed reading Cusp of Night and look forward to reading End of Day, book two of the Hode’s Hill Series…

Book cover for End of Day, mystery/suspense novel by Mae Clair shows old dilapidated church with bell tower and a cemetery in the background overgrown with weeds

Release Date: January 15, 2019
Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Supernatural Thriller
Publisher: Kensington Publishing • Lyrical Underground Imprint

BLURB:
The past is never truly buried…

Generations of Jillian Cley’s family have been tasked with a strange duty—tending the burial plot of Gabriel Vane, whose body was the first to be interred in the Hode’s Hill cemetery. Jillian faithfully continues the long-standing tradition—until one October night, Vane’s body is stolen from its resting place. Is it a Halloween prank? Or something more sinister?

As the descendants of those buried in the church yard begin to experience bizarre “accidents,” Jillian tries to uncover the cause. Deeply empathic, she does not make friends easily, or lightly. But to fend off the terror taking over her town, she must join forces with artist Dante DeLuca, whose sensitivity to the spirit world has been both a blessing and a curse. The two soon realize Jillian’s murky family history is entwined in a tragic legacy tracing back to the founding of Hode’s Hill. In order to set matters right, an ancient wrong must be avenged…or Jillian, Dante, and everyone in town will forever be at the mercy of a vengeful spirit.

End of Day can be read as a stand alone novel or as a follow-up to book one of the Hode’s Hill series, Cusp of Night.

End of Day is available for pre-order through this link
and available to add to your Goodreads to-be-read list here.

Connect with Mae Clair at BOOKBUB and the following haunts:

Amazon | BookBub | Newsletter Sign-Up
Website & Blog | Twitter | Goodreads | All Social Media

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Merlin ~part four

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“You have much to learn, Merlin before I can teach you the meaning of true magic. All the names of plants, herbs, and the trees in the forest. Thoughts, words, they all have power. Use each one with great care…”

Merlin’s head was by now so full of the Hermit’s words, no more could enter. He fell asleep at the table, but his dream was not as the Hermit had planned. Merlin had fallen too deep and found himself in a dark place. The forest no longer a peaceful place, wild creatures howled all around him.  The trees whipped him with their branches as he passed, tearing the skin from his face and arms.

Something was destroying the forest. The sun no longer shed its light there and the trees were dying. Merlin could no longer hear the birdsong and the sweet smell of the trees had gone. What could be destroying the Hermit’s peaceful home?

Deep in his dream, Merlin knew he couldn’t let this happen and could hear his own voice telling him to wake up. “There is no time to waste, wake up you fool.”

When Merlin awoke, he was alone in the cave.

“Great, just when I have something important to say, he has disappeared.”

He walked out of the cave and made his way to the lake. Everything felt the same as before. The smells and sounds, the feeling of peace, it was all still there. There was no point looking for the Hermit, he could be anywhere, or nowhere.

He was skimming stones across the surface of the lake when a hand reached out of the water and caught the stone. Merlin stood there with his mouth hanging open as he watched the most beautiful face break the surface of the water. It was the mermaid of his dreams.  The lady of the lake threw the stone back to Merlin. He caught it easily with his left hand.

“Good,” she said and sank beneath the water again. Merlin ran into the water, yelling for her to wait. “Come back!” She would know where the Hermit had gone, but he wasn’t quick enough. He had to learn to stop gawping and accept the things he was seeing with a little more speed.

Merlin stayed by the lake a while longer, hoping she would come back, but as darkness fell he was forced to make his way back to the cave. There was no sign of the Hermit.

By now, Merlin was starving. So far, food had always been ready when he needed it, but the black cauldron stood empty. He sat down on his bed, rubbing the hot spot on the palm of his hand. He wondered why a stone from the cold water should leave a red mark. As he watched, it began to fade.

He waited a while longer, and while he waited, he wondered if he was brave enough to sit on what he thought was the hermits magic boulder. Did he dare to sit on it? A small voice in the back of his mind told him to get on with it.

He sat there for a long time. Nothing came to his mind but the hunger grumbling inside his body. Eventually, he went outside to look for food. He knew which berries and mushrooms he could eat. The weight of the stone in his pocket made him think of the Hermit as he made his way back to the cave.

He wondered why he was learning from dreams and not the Hermit as he said he would. He placed his meagre gatherings on the table, noticing the fire burning under the cauldron. Looking inside, someone had prepared food, yet the Hermit was still missing. As he made short work of the food, he realised the Hermit must have left word for his friends to look out for him.

Merlin put the stone on the table. It was a good flat stone, black with white veining. As he looked at it, his eyes began to water and a gentle humming sounded in his ears. Slowly, the voice of the lady of the lake could be heard. Through the water in his eyes, he could see a dark tunnel. The Hermit was sitting by the lake and the lady stood on the water, her long flowing dress floating around her. He heard her ask the Hermit a question.

“Does he remember his mother’s name, or heard the tales of his father?”

The Hermit answered her. “He knows nothing…”

The vision faded and Merlin noticed that the stone had moved from the where he had placed it, leaving a small burn mark on the table. Something made him put it on a pewter plate, then he left to search for the Hermit again.

He gave up and returned to the cave, feeling the first stirring of anger.

By day three, there was little food left and Merlin’s anger was slowly growing at being left. Should he go back to the forest to find the hermits friends and stay with them? As he fell asleep that night, he wondered if he was only dreaming or really being shown his future…

He sat astride a black horse and had passed the lake, heading deeper into the forest. He could hear the sound of horses behind him and the noise of a battle in front of him. He pulled on the reins to stop the horse, afraid of what lay ahead.

Turning the horse around, he found no one behind him. He tried to wake up, believing the Hermit messed around in his head whenever he slept and when he opened his eyes, he found the Hermit sitting on his great stone. Looking out of the cave mouth he saw that the world outside was still in darkness.

Part of this darkness entered his mind, fuelling his anger. He let it out, his voice loud, echoing along the cave walls.

He marched up to the Hermit and kicked the stone. “You have no right keeping me here! Keep out of my head!” He kicked the great stone again, watching the smile vanish from the Hermits face. A low rumbling sound began, gradually becoming louder.

Merlin reached out his hands, his lungs burning from the force of his voice.

“Stop!”

The Hermit stepped down from the stone. “I see you have learned a few things in my absence. If you wish to go, I shall not stop you, but I think you should eat before you go.”

The smell of food cooking soon had Merlin sitting at the table. He noticed that the mark on the table had vanished. He rubbed his hand across the surface, wondering if he had dreamed that too.

The Hermit brought two pewter plates to the table and handed Merlin the stone. “You really should keep this, as you may need it later.”

Merlin put the stone in his pocket and said nothing. There was no anger left in him, no more heated words. Feeling a little sorry for himself, he asked the Hermit why he had left him alone for so long.

“That is a story for another time. There are many things I will tell you about one day should you decide to stay. I would very much like it if you did. By the way, if you are in no hurry to leave, maybe you would like to help my friends, they have a roof needs mending.”

Merlin agreed to help, so they set out with him walking behind the Hermit, watching him closely…

To be continued…

Anita Dawes

 

 

Merlin: part three

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Merlin had never known his father, nor heard any of the tales about him.

The Hermit didn’t ask that question again. Merlin wanted to ask a few questions of his own, like where the clothes he was wearing came from. All the food, and how the Hermit knew he was twelve years old?

The only thing he had ever seen the Hermit doing, apart from cooking, was sitting cross-legged on a large boulder with his eyes closed and his hands on his knees. Sometimes Merlin thought the Hermit’s backside wasn’t on the boulder, that he floated about a foot above it but his long robes made it hard to be sure.

Merlin almost stood on his head trying to see, to no avail. On one of these times, the Hermit told Merlin he would end up with too much blood in his head if he kept doing that.

Merlin found the courage to ask the Hermit where they were.

“First of all, young Merlin, this place is my home. The forest protects us from unwanted eyes…”

With a little too much courage, Merlin asked, “So where does all the food come from? And my clothing? I haven’t seen you leave this cave since you brought me here…”

“I have a friend out there…”  The tone of his voice told Merlin not to ask any more questions. “Tomorrow we will take a walk and maybe you will meet some of my friends…”

That evening, the Hermit sat Merlin down and asked him if he could remember why he had been in the forest without any clothes. The only thing Merlin could remember was being run out of the village, the screaming, and the banging of pots and being told never to come back.

He couldn’t remember doing anything bad, or how long he had been wandering around or where his clothes went.

“Do you remember meeting anyone in the forest?” The Hermit could see Merlin was getting tired. “You sleep now, we will talk more tomorrow.”

Sleep came fast with more dreams. Memories of cold nights in the forest and finding that someone always left food close to where he slept.

Merlin dreamed of the Hermit too, walking along the side of the lake. What looked like long blonde hair floated on the water and seemed to follow the Hermit’s footsteps. His mouth moved as though he was talking to someone. After a while, the water began to stir as if agitated by something. The hair disappeared beneath the water and ripples spread across the lake, but the Hermit kept on talking…

In the dream, Merlin could see the words coming from his mouth. Red, angry words made of fire, spilling into the lake. Whoever the Hermit had been speaking to would be sure to hear them.

The Hermit vanished and Merlin was alone in the forest. Not long after, the memory of cold nights began to haunt his dreams. In the dreams, he was welcomed by small people who led him to their home. There they fed him and told him stories. The taste of the food reminded Merlin of the food that had been left for him before when he had been alone.

Suddenly there was a loud roar and Merlin jumped from the fallen log where he had been sitting. The eldest of the clan stood at Merlin’s side. “No need to worry, it is only Trog.”

That was when Merlin could see just what had made the sound that was louder than any thunder he had ever heard. From between the trees, came a small blue dragon that promptly began to inspect Merlin, poking his long nose over Merlin’s hair and licking his face. The dragon’s breath smelled of mint.

Merlin slept the night with his new friends and awoke to the smell of cooking. He was back in the cave and the Hermit was stirring the cauldron. “Did you enjoy your visit with my friends?”

Not sure how to answer, Merlin, replied that he hadn’t taken him to meet his friends yet.

The Hermit let out a chuckle, a rare occurrence. “Take a look at your feet. They tell a different story.”

Merlin lifted one foot after the other to find them coated in mud with dried leaves stuck between his toes. The cave floor was grey stone, so where had he been?

Merlin ate slowly, trying to take it all in. How could he have been there, it had been a dream. Yet the mud on his feet told a different story. He put down the wooden spoon he had been eating with and took a deep breath. He asked who the Hermit had been speaking to as he walked by the lake.

The Hermit knew it was time for the truth and told Merlin about the Lady of the Lake. Merlin thought his head would explode but he had to know why they had been so angry.

The Hermit took his time with the answer, as it was still too soon to reveal everything. “She was angry because I will not take you back to the village.”

Merlin jumped up from the table. “But I don’t want to go back…”

“Calm down young Merlin. The Lady has given me time to teach you all you need to know.”

“Teach me what?” Merlin couldn’t wait to hear the answer.

“To become the greatest wizard the world will ever know.”

Merlin had heard the stories around the village, of magic and wizards and great standing stones. Stories of Stonehenge had stuck in Merlin’s mind the most, a place he wanted to see. Maybe the Hermit could dream him there.

The Hermit said there was no time for dreaming. Merlin no longer wondered how the Hermit always knew what he was thinking.

“Time is the enemy, Merlin. You must respect it but don’t let it slap you in the face.”

Anita

To be continued…

5* Review for Lily White in Detroit by Cynthia Harrison #ThrillerMystery @CynthiaHarriso1

 

 

Private investigator Lily White has a client with a faulty moral compass. When the client is arrested for murdering his wife and her alleged lover, Lily follows her intuition and her own leads. If she’s wrong, she’ll at least know she did her job.

Detroit police detective Derrick Paxton remembers Lily from another case. He understands she suffers from PTSD and thinks her judgment is impaired. He goes after her client and the evidence he needs to close the case. When Lily is kidnapped, the case takes an unexpected turn.

 

 

In a sometimes racially divided city, a black cop and a white PI work together to peel back every layer to find the truth. What they find leads them to each other, but do they have enough to bring the true criminals to justice?

 

Excerpt

They laughed and exchanged a look. It felt to Paxton like their eyes did something more than see each other. They connected. Tight as two loose strings making a strong knot. “Yes. And then today he brought flowers. He said we’d had an awful time of it with my room being broken into, and he needed to be there to surprise me and make me feel safe. ‘Give a heartsick guy a break’ were his words.”

She picked up her drink and took a swallow. “This is good,” she said. “I feel the vodka.”

 “So how’d he know you’d be there?”

“I didn’t think about that until I was on the way home, um, here.” Paxton drained his martini glass. “Home is here,” he said, “if you want it.”

She slid one of her legs out from under her and wiggled it under his thigh. “We have a ways to go, don’t we?” But the way she said it made it clear she was in this with him. He was not feeling the love alone. He took her bare foot and began to massage it, rubbing the arch and the heel and smoothing his fingers over her toes. “So, how’d he know?”

“If you think about it, you’ll be able to solve that one before I finish my drink.” She sipped. “That feels so good,” she said, pulling her other foot out from under her and sliding it his way.

“I’d say our security spotted him too close to the building, parked in his car overlong, kept an eye, and when you came out of the apartment, saw him follow you,” Paxton said.

“Yep,” Lily said. “So we have the tape if we need it. I guess that depends on what you tell me.” By this time, he’d started working out the stress points of her other foot. She made soft sounds of pleasure. “My God, where’d you learn to do that?”

“Reflexology book.”

“Hmmm. It’s better than vodka.”

 “You want a refill?”

“I want Chinese food. I forgot to eat today.”

“What about the pizza earlier?”

“Look at your watch.”

He did. It was after midnight. Okay, so pizza was yesterday. She was already on her phone, ordering a string of dishes, all their favourites. When it occurred to him they already had their favourites, their habits and routines, it made him happy and a little afraid.

 

Our Review

“Many thanks to the author for the advanced digital copy of this crime suspense book. Opinions expressed here are unbiased and entirely my own.”

Lily White is a private investigator but there was a time when she was someone else.

These days she is recovering from post-traumatic stress caused by a gruelling incident in her past and is definitely in the wrong job. Far too much spying on guilty wives and handling distraught husbands for her liking. She much prefers honest investigating.

Now there is a dead body.

And she had just been hired to find the killer.

This was well out of her comfort zone, especially for her PTSD, but too exciting to miss.

I loved the American setting, walking around Detroit with the characters seemed as natural as breathing, so the author must know it well.

All of the characters are well written and real, but I especially liked the two main characters, Lily and Paxton and the way they interact with each other. Such lovely chemistry between them.

The story had just enough subtle tension to keep me turning the pages and I have a feeling this won’t be the last we see of Lily and Paxton. At least I hope not…


 

Cusp of Night by Mae Clair is Released today! Our 5* Review.#ParanormalMystery @MaeClair1

The truth hides in dark places . . .

 

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Recently settled in Hode’s Hill, Pennsylvania, Maya Sinclair is enthralled by the town’s folklore, especially the legend about a centuries-old monster. A devil-like creature with uncanny abilities responsible for several horrific murders, the Fiend has evolved into the stuff of urban myth. But the past lives again when Maya witnesses an assault during the annual “Fiend Fest.” The victim is developer Leland Hode, patriarch of the town’s most powerful family, and he was attacked by someone dressed like the Fiend.

Compelled to discover who is behind the attack and why, Maya uncovers a shortlist of enemies of the Hode clan. The mystery deepens when she finds the journal of a late nineteenth-century spiritualist who once lived in Maya’s house—a woman whose ghost may still linger. Known as the Blue Lady of Hode’s Hill due to a genetic condition, Lucinda Glass vanished without a trace and was believed to be one of the Fiend’s tragic victims. The disappearance of a young couple, combined with more sightings of the monster, triggers Maya to join forces with Leland’s son Collin. But the closer she gets to the truth, the closer she comes to a hidden world of twisted secrets, insanity, and evil that refuses to die . . .

Visit us at www.kensingtonbooks.com

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Forli, Emilia Romagna, Italy: narrow dark alley in the old town – ancient Italian street at night with lampposts and cobbled pavement

Book Link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cusp-Night-Hodes-Hill-Novel-ebook/dp/B078LJX83X/

Our Review of Cusp of Night

“Equal parts monster and fallen angel…”

I knew when I read the blurb for CUSP OF NIGHT that I had to read the first book in Mae Clair’s new series, and I wasn’t disappointed.

It is an unusual story, beautifully written, dripping with a chilling mystery that draws you into the dark world of spiritualism and myth. Mae Clair skilfully blends and intertwines the chapters, connecting the reader to the 1900’s and the present day and the mysteries of both.

I especially loved the way the mysteries from the past begin to resonate with the present circumstances, leading the hero, Maya Sinclair into the paranormal discovery of an evil that somehow can live forever.

Why would an evil entity visit the present, dragging tragedy and horror with it?

This is the mystery that Maya needs to solve, as disaster begins to strike the people around her. Would she be able to solve the mystery and discover the truth behind the legend?

The tension had me chewing my nails, and then the unexpected sadness had me reaching for a box of tissues, but I thoroughly enjoyed every word.

Already described as  “unique, addictive and creepy…” this new series promises to be a best seller and I can highly recommend Cusp of Night to anyone who loves a haunting and formidable story…


 

EXCERPT FROM CUSP OF NIGHT

She’d left her purse on the dresser, keys by her jewellery chest. A half dozen shoeboxes that had yet to find a place in the closet were stacked beside a white rocking chair. Made from distressed wood, the chair had come from Mrs.Bonnifer’s antique shop. Maya had bought it on the spot after hearing it dated from the 1880s. She’d placed it in the parlour initially, then moved it to the bedroom, where it fits perfectly in the corner by the fireplace. Almost as if it had been made for the spot.

The fireplace had long ago been converted to gas, but the charm of the elaborate Victorian mantel had been one of the deciding factors prompting her to sign the lease.

A soft creak broke the stillness, and the rocker pitched slowly back and forth. The runners bobbled up and down as if someone sat in the chair, controlling the movement. A finger of cold traced Maya’s spine. Secondcrept into second as the deliberate rocking continued, the floorboards creaking in unison with the lurch of the runners.

 Barely breathing, Maya stood. Ever since those few seconds in the Aether, she’d grown sensitive to ripples on the fringe of normal. She didn’t believe in ghosts or hauntings but couldn’t deny the existence of vibrations that breached barriers between life and death. She was living proof of a “between” world. Ivy was the only person she’d ever told what she’d experienced while EMTs fought to revive her.

Shock. Trauma, they’d said. You were lucky.

Be careful here. Mrs Bonnifer’s warning echoed in her head. This place has a history.

Maya stepped to the foot of the bed, her gaze glued to the rocker. Its movement stopped abruptly as if an unseen hand had clamped down on the back…

 

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Preview and Early Review of Cusp of Night by Mae Clair #Mystery/Suspense #Supernatural Thriller @MaeClair1

 

 

Cusp of Night, Mae Clair’s stunning new book is released tomorrow, and we will be posting our review in the morning!

In the meantime, here is An Early Review of  Cusp of Night by Mae Clair

Thank you for having me as your guest today to share my newest release, Cusp of Night. A mystery/suspense novel with elements of urban legend and the supernatural, Cusp of Night uses dual timelines to tell two mysteries—one set in the past and one in the present. Naturally, both have to converge at the end, creating a tidy package. As an author, it involves writing two stories at once—something I found challenging to do, but also intriguing.

I’d like to share a snippet from a pre-release review today. After downloading a copy of Cusp of Night from NetGalley, Dianne, of the Tome Tender Book Blog had this to say:

Mae Clair takes us on a twisted journey through time and back in her latest mesmerizing read, CUSP OF NIGHT. The feel of the 1890’s comes to life, with its dark secrets, heinous betrayals and the jarring inner pain of a woman used for the very differences that forced her to grow up labeled a freak and a monster. What drives Maya to unearth the past with such obsessive fervor? Has Maya’s own past created a connection beyond the veil of death? One man is determined to help her, and together they will learn the nightmare called the Fiend is very much alive…was it ever dead?

Absolutely one of Mae Clair’s best paranormal mysteries to date! I could feel the change in eras, the emotions, I found my own monsters in so many of these characters and had to ask myself, who were the real victims? Deviously dark, this tale unfolds like a coiled snake ready to strike at any time and through it all, the webs that are woven grow into a barbed tapestry of suspense.

Too many riveting, entangled events to dismiss, you may find yourself dreaming of waking at 2:22 am a little cold and no longer alone…Fabulous reading intrigue from an author who knows her craft!

 

It’s so rewarding to find a review that makes all those late nights and long weekends juggling plot lines worthwhile. Many thanks to Dianne for posting her thoughts.

If Cusp of Night sounds like something that might interest you, perhaps you’d like to take a closer look at the blurb:

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BLURB

Recently settled in Hode’s Hill, Pennsylvania, Maya Sinclair is enthralled by the town’s folklore, especially the legend about a centuries-old monster. A devil-like creature with uncanny abilities responsible for several horrific murders, the Fiend has evolved into the stuff of urban myth. But the past lives again when Maya witnesses an assault during the annual “Fiend Fest.” The victim is developer Leland Hode, patriarch of the town’s most powerful family, and he was attacked by someone dressed like the Fiend.

Compelled to discover who is behind the attack and why, Maya uncovers a shortlist of enemies of the Hode clan. The mystery deepens when she finds the journal of a late nineteenth-century spiritualist who once lived in Maya’s house–a woman whose ghost may still linger.

Known as the Blue Lady of Hode’s Hill due to a genetic condition, Lucinda Glass vanished without a trace and was believed to be one of the Fiend’s tragic victims. The disappearance of a young couple, combined with more sightings of the monster, trigger Maya to join forces with Leland’s son Collin. But the closer she gets to unearthing the truth, the closer she comes to a hidden world of twisted secrets, insanity, and evil that refuses to die . . .

PURCHASE HERE

You can find Mae Clair at the following haunts:

Website | Blog | Twitter | Newsletter | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon | Other Social Links

 

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New Cover Release of Simple by Anita Dawes #FamilyHorror

Simple, the second book in Anita’s stable, has been re- edited and supplied with a brand new cover!  We would love to raise the profile of this book, finding new readers and hopefully new reviews.

To this end, free PDF copies are available! 

 

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SIMPLE’S LIFE is a painful nightmare.

A huge bear of a man, but with the heart and mind of an innocent child, he suffers terrible abuse from his vicious and uncaring backwoods family.

Together with his half-sister Leanne, they are hunted like wild animals and suffer the terror of nearly being burned alive as they try to escape.

 

SHADES OF THE WALTON’S MEET DELIVERANCE!

Universal Amazon Link:  http://myBook.to/mySimple

Simple is the follow-up book to Bad Moon, Anita’s first book and is another story about the backwoods people of West Virginia. At the time of writing, some 25 years ago, it seemed as though Anita was channelling actual people, the stories so disturbingly real. Neither Simple or Bad Moon are pleasant stories by any means, being full of raw, powerful emotions and unbelievable cruelty.

This was long before the world of Indie publishing, so we approached traditional publishers with the help of a well-known literary agent. They all said the same thing, that they were impressed with the strong powerful writing, and that it was well written. But it wouldn’t fit with all the other books on their list. I can appreciate this now, as finding the right category has been hard. If only those publishers had the courage of their convictions and made room for Simple!

Simple is a nickname his cruel family have given him, due to him being mentally challenged and cursed with a terrible stutter. His real name is Ethan, and although a giant of a man, he has the heart and mind of a child. He spends his time in the woods, tending to wounded wild birds and animals.

His grandmother and brothers beat him for everything he forgets to do, and many things he shouldn’t have done. When his half-sister Leanne cannot bear to watch any more cruelty, they make a plan to escape. But when they try to run, they bring the wrath of their vicious family down on their heads, and the results are terrifying…

Extract from Simple

I couldn’t be sure I was heading in the right direction, I had no choice but to follow where my feet led me, hoping my instincts were right.

I walked for hours, and just when I thought I would never find them, I smelled wood burning and there was a hint of voices carried on the wind.  Why had no one grabbed me?  Jack would never have let an outsider close enough to smell our fires burning.  Closer, I could hear a fiddle and someone singing a song, not something I heard too often at Gran’s.

They let me walk right into their camp.  It had been built among the trees and the land hadn’t been cleared much at all.  The cabins were much the same as ours, made with logs cut from the forest. The only thing different was the moss growing on the outsides where not much light could reach. The cabins looked green, almost as though they were still growing.  It felt a lot colder up here, even though I knew the sun was still up. It should be setting soon, and Simple would be lying where I had left him, in the dark.

The sound of the fiddle stopped and a woman about Gran’s age stood up.  My feet suddenly felt about three sizes too big.  I stumbled, and then came to a standstill, unable to move.  What was I thinking of, coming here?  Going to town would have been better, would have changed my life, Simple’s too, possibly for the better.

The woman spoke, her voice deep yet softer than Gran’s.

‘What ye be wanting’ so far from home, young’un?’

I must have looked half beaten.  My dress was torn and bloody, filthy arms and legs, scratched and bleeding.  I hoped they didn’t think I was one of the crazy stories come to life. My thoughts finally slipped into my mouth and my words sounded like the damp dirt I stood upon.  The woman picked up a cup of water from the table, stepped forward and offered it to me.  She said, ‘They call me Belle Spiers hereabouts.’

The cool water tasted good.  Then all my words came out in a rush. 

‘I need help. Simple’s hurt, please you have to help me.’

‘Slow down girl, your words are running’ together like my boy’s heads when I need to put them in their place.’

I took another mouthful of water. ‘It’s Simple, his leg’s broke.  Uncle Jimmy left him back there in the caves.’

She interrupted me and called out for someone called Jimmy.  I felt my heart freeze, turn to ice, expecting Uncle Jimmy to appear.  The frozen waste where my heart sat, slowly melted when the older Man who had been playing the fiddle limped to her side, along with another Man who looked nothing like Uncle Jimmy.

‘Go see what this young’un has got herself into.’

Suddenly I had the strangest feeling she knew right off who I was and where I came from.  Even the name Simple didn’t move her any.  A few other faces came to see what all the fuss was about.  One of them was a boy called Zach with yellow hair like the sun, older than me but not by much. The one called Jimmy told him to come with them.

‘Gonna need more than old pa here to bring a log like Simple back up from the caves.’

It took a while, but his words sunk deep like the roots of a tree sucking at my brain.  He knew Simple!

Then the woman was speaking to me again. ‘Come in girl, we’ll get you cleaned up while waiting’ for the menfolk.  Hungry too, I’ll be thinking’.’

Orders slipped from her lips much the same as Gran; save no one seemed to mind.  Least of all the young woman called Jolene with a baby on her hip, who had been told to fetch food while I waited for a tub to be filled with water, warmed over an open fire.

Belle carried the last of the hot water in a much-used pot to her cabin, where she poured it into an old tin bath and told me to get in. ‘I ain’t carrying’ this water for you to let it grow cold.’

There wasn’t anyone in the cabin but Belle and me, so turning my back I took off my dress.  The hot water felt like a blanket, one I knew Simple could be doing with right about now.  I asked Belle, ‘How come you know Simple?’

‘He’s a soft soul, wanders up here sometimes.  I reckon he needs time away from your Gran.’

I was going to say she wasn’t my Gran but decided to let it lay.  I needed them to help make Simple well and I wanted to see the boy with yellow hair bringing him back. Something about him had made my heart skip a little, even though it was frozen at the time.

Jolene brought a clean dress along with the food, and Belle held out a large cloth I knew to be bought from town.  Must have been the way I looked at it made her say, ‘I don’t mind using’ what feels good, makes life pleasing’.

Jolene said, ‘Belle don’t usually let anyone use them.  Old pa traded his best fiddle for two the same last Christmas.  Good to see them out of the paper they came in.’

Seems Jolene belonged to Jimmy, and the baby was his too. It seemed funny to be able to hear that name without shrinking inside.  What would they do now, if they could see me here in the Spiers camp, with Simple being carried here for fixing? 

 

#The Yak Guy Project : Our review #OriginalFiction #Distopian @Virgilante

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Imagine waking up in the desert with no idea what happened to you. You have clear memories of situations and places, but a complete loss in personal matters… like your own name. This situation is bad, and you have no idea how to get home.

When you’re rescued by a talking yak, the situation gets exponentially worse. You have obviously lost your mind. The immediate needs of a ride off the salt pan and searing heat, along with a drink of water, outweigh the concerns about your mental state.

This is exactly what happened to the Yak Guy. In fact, he’s been placed in an alternate world and given a chance to start over in life.

Can this selfish, almost parasitic, young man learn to start over in a world where charity is hard to find? Life is brutal and short here, but he’s going to have to adapt or perish.

The Yak Guy project is loosely based around The Fool’s Journey from the Tarot. Those with experience in Tarot will spot people and situations from the Major Arcana.

Our Review:

Near to death, with no idea of where he is or why he is there, a hapless survivor meets a yak in the desert.

The opening chapter is a corker!

I loved the yak from the get-go, with his sensible advice, observations and his sense of humour. With the help (and patience) of this yak, the survivor will learn the difference between need and want, beginning a massive learning curve for him.

In many ways, this story reminded me of The Pilgrims Progress by John Bunyan, in which a traveller encounters many challenges on his journey through life. Another story about destiny and fulfilment leading to wisdom.

Elements of the Major Arcana from the Tarot appear in the people and situations our survivor finds, creating a thoroughly fascinating insight as we travel the road with him.

The Yak Guy Project is a highly unusual and entertaining story, just what we have come to expect from the author, Craig Boyack.

I loved every person the survivor meets and every lesson he learns, and I can highly recommend The Yak Guy Project to everyone.

If I haven’t managed to convince you to read this book, here is an excerpt…

I stepped up to the edge, and below us, in a natural cavity, was a pool of water. There was about ten feet of cliff to get to it.

 “This is a known water hole. Take the bag, tie it to the rope, and fill it. Then pour it into the trough so I can drink.” The yak nosed a rock that looked like it had been carved into a trough by cavemen.

I grabbed the waterskin. “Get your own damned water. I’m thirsty.”

“I’ve helped you. Now you need to help me.”

“Fine. I’ll do it, but I’m drinking first.”

The yak approached the ledge again. He swung a horn into the small of my back and flicked me off the ledge. I dropped the bag and yelled. Water smacked me like the concrete at a skate park. It wasn’t cold, but it was a shock.

When I clawed my way back to the surface, I gasped for air. Blood ran from my nostrils. “You fucker. When I get up there I’m going to kick your ass.” I reached for the edge, but couldn’t find a hand-hold. I circled the pool, but the cliff walls were nearly vertical all the way around. “I’m trapped, asshole.”

“So it appears. Do you have a plan? Perhaps you can get your drink while you’re down there.”

 “You’ve got to get me out of here. You climb like a goat. Come get me.”

“I will not. Some terrain is too steep even for me.”

“You can’t just leave me here.”

 “Actually, I can.”

“Please!” The yak backed away from the ledge. The sound of gravel crunching lasted long enough to tell me he hadn’t left. A rope unfurled toward the pool, and the yak peered over the edge. “Wrap it around your waist.”

 I floundered over to the rope, and wrapped it around my middle. “Okay, pull me up.”

 “You forgot my water.”

The yak won the argument.

Amazon Link:  https://amazon.com/Yak-Guy-Project-C-Boyack-ebook/dp/B07D1QY9Y7/

 

 

 

 

 

Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT The Puppet Master by Abigail Osborne @Abigail_Author #PsychologicalSuspense

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Abigail Osborne’s unmissable The Puppet Master, a stunning thriller full of twists and turns.

Billie is hiding from the world in fear of a man who nearly destroyed her. But a chance meeting with a budding journalist, Adam, sparks a relationship that could free her from her life of isolation and fear.

Unbeknownst to Billie, Adam knows exactly who Billie is and is determined to expose her and get justice for the lives he believes she has ruined. But first, he needs to convince her to open up to him. As an unwanted attraction blossoms between them, Adam comes to realise that all is not as it seems. 

Who is really pulling the strings? And are Adam and Billie both being played? 

One thing is for sure, The Master wants his puppets back – and he’ll do anything to keep them

Our Review

I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Puppet Master, despite the sometimes-harrowing content that made it an emotional roller coaster!

Right from the beginning, I empathised with Billie, the sad and traumatised leading lady. I wanted to know why she was so terrified of being found, and who by.

When Adam, the newspaper reporter enters the story, determined to expose Billie for something she was supposed to have done, the tension as he tries to break down her defences is heart-breaking. Gradually, he peels back her protective layers, exposing the raw emotions that hid underneath her fear.

I kept hoping Adam would change his mind when his feelings for her began to grow, and take pity on someone who has already suffered enough, but his need for justice seemed too strong.

There is an unpleasant element to this story, but it is handled with great care by the author. By the time I had finished reading the second part of the book, I was desperate for some happiness for Billie. All the signs were there, but I knew it couldn’t happen, not yet.

Watching Adam when he finally learns the truth about Billie was almost as painful as the lie he originally believed.

The last part of this book piled on the tension yet again, and I geared myself up for a gripping ending. But the ending totally caught me by surprise.  It made my blood run cold!

A very absorbing well-written plot, the evil winds its way throughout everything, strangling and contaminating everything in its path…

 

Extract

He took her silence as an agreement and moved over to her; kneeling in front of her. She didn’t stop him as he slowly lifted her top until he got to the large, nasty looking red mark that the bike wheel had left on her side. Already it was beginning to swell and bruise. Trickles of blood leaked out of a few cuts where the wheel had twisted her skin. As she looked at him, she saw a fury burning in his eyes that brought a tear to her eye. He barely knew her but he had shown more care for her than any of her family ever had.

She knew more than anyone that men could make you feel like the centre of their universe then throw you away once they had got what they wanted. The logical part of her brain was insisting that this was Adam’s agenda, that he was no different, but at that moment she simply couldn’t believe it. “I don’t think you’ve broken anything.” He got up to go to the bathroom and came back with a wet flannel. He gently washed her side with a tenderness that she didn’t know men were capable of. Once finished, he lowered her top and sat back on his knees. “Can I get you some painkillers or something?” “I can’t have any.” He shot her a surprised look and she added, “I’ll be okay.” “Why can’t you? Allergies?” He had answered his own question so she just agreed and then lay back on the bed. It was tiring trying to mask the extent of the pain she felt. She knew that she would need to clean up her legs too, but there was no way that she was doing that in front of him.

Adam took his phone out of his pocket and passed it to her. “You need to call the police.” She couldn’t face sitting up so she reached out to take the phone—even though she had no intention of using it. While she weighed up what she could say to convince him, she couldn’t help but notice how the locks of unruly blonde hair that had fallen on to his forehead augmented his handsome features. Why did someone like him even care what happened to someone like her? She was a nobody…

 

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Abigail is originally from the Lake District but moved to the West Midlands for University where she completed an English Literature & History degree and also met her husband. She is a passionate reader and has an unsustainable collection of books. This obsession with books has led to her creating her own Dewey decimal system and she has been known to issue fines to family and friends if her book is not returned on time. Writing The Puppet Master has unleashed a love of writing and Abigail hopes to put her scarily crazy imagination to good use. She is currently working on book 2 and 3 and looks​ forward to publishing these soon.
You can follow me on @Abigail_Author
Website: http://www.abigailosborne.co.uk

Amazon Link:   https://amazon.co.uk/Puppet-Master-gripping-psychological-thriller-ebook/dp/B076Z2T246/