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This review first appeared on Extaordinaryreads.com(no that is not a typo)
The life we are given is a gem; and I have seldom read it described as such. Genia Stemper, has a rare touch, so in tune is she with the universe, that she can impart a vision of our journey here on earth with both wistfulness and hope. I have never felt ashamed to write a review of a book I have enjoyed, but this book has left me stumped-I do not have the words to justify it. It is a story of friendship, health and healing. A tale that makes death so much a part of life that it can be embraced rather than avoided. A wisp of the feather that tickles us into enchantment, while still dusting us with the knowledge of the unfairness of fate. Nevertheless, giving a ghost of a reason for our suffering. In the finale, we are given a message of longevity, the thread of reason, the dolphin at the end of the rainbow, whom we know soared from the waves, just for us; simply to make us feel better.
If you read one book this year, make it this one.
The Road Less Travelled is a piece of writing containing five fictional stream of consciousness. Narratives covering the concepts of love, hope, trust, courage and gratefulness. The central theme is the importance of contemplation.
"The world we have created on the earth seemingly spins against it as if to slow it down in a bid to discipline time. It is only in the quietude of the night when the earth holds us still, do we note the true pace of nature. We expect love, life and lessons learned to come as immediately as the instant everything that is at hand but reality unfolds as a rose which cannot be forced open lest we rent asunder. We must grant our hearts and minds time enough to ponder and wonder over our actions, thoughts and emotions because sometimes all that is needed for betterment is a turn of a heart or one thought no less!"
I won a copy of 'A Road Less Travelled' by Morning Hope in a giveaway competition here on Booklikes. Obviously the author is using a pen name 'Morning Hope'. The author, in a forward to the anthology, admits that the name is a conjuring based on the initials of his first name and surname, very mysterious indeed! Additionally, I suspect, from the quality of the writing in the collection of short stories, that a play on the word morning is afoot -- morning :- beginning and mourning :- end appended by 'Hope' --I think it is intentional and wholly disconcerting ... as is each tale in the book.
This is a "deep" work, but I suspect that even if literature is not your thing, you will find the prose lyrical and arresting, as well as the heart of each offering unique and insightful. My favorite story of the bunch, and it's difficult to choose, is Blue. The point at which the male protagonist removes his glasses in order to see color for the first time in a while, only to give the item which, to him is unutterably beautiful, AWAY! confounded me and simply blew my mind! and although that says quite a bit about the tale, I don't think its a spoiler.
The writing is sometimes dark, sometimes heavy, but the author manages the themes with aplomb and maturity, turning each piece out with a lightness that often belies it's central theme. This is a short collection of short stories and I challenge you to find better writing anywhere... You won't!
Irresponsible was one word used to describe Prince Liam. Liam preferred fun-loving. After years of pulling pranks on his fellow nobles and ruining balls, Liam’s prospects for a bride are looking dim. At his wits’ end, Liam’s father arranges a marriage between Liam and his best friend Cordelia. She is the last person in the world Liam wants to marry. When Liam confesses this to her, she transforms Liam with a curse.
Now Liam must escape her clutches while breaking her spell, but he is trapped in her castle with no way to escape. His only hope is to persuade Cordelia’s servant Gabrielle to help him. However, Gabrielle has a secret of her own, and helping Liam is something she cannot do.
A.C. Harrah has a B.A. with an Emphasis in Creative Writing and Japanese. Due to her love of writing, A.C. tends to chain herself to her computer, but when she does sneak out it's usually to frolic on the beach or see the latest super hero movie. Oh, and travel. She would happily live out of a backpack if it meant exploring the world.
One of her favorite authors is Lewis Carroll.
The rain misted. Gabrielle held out her hand, letting the water kiss her palm. She looked up at the night sky and closed her eyes. The soft touch of the rain against her skin was refreshing. For a few moments there was nothing but Gabrielle and the cool night. She smiled then dropped to her knees. She buried in her hands in the moist earth as she hunted worms.
Something pink wiggled between her fingers, and she pinched it. The worm squirmed. She dropped it into her blue jar. She corked it as she continued to search for more. Liam hadn’t jumped higher than the ball, but after his collision and Cordelia’s temper, he deserved a little treat. She just wished the fireflies were out tonight. He never said it, but she had a feeling that he liked those best.
She found two more worms and pocketed the jar. She stood and looked around. Her eyes rested on the stable.
Liam’s words echoed in her head.
She knew she shouldn’t…but she couldn’t resist.
She hurriedly tiptoed toward the stables. She unlatched the front doors and pushed them aside. A horse neighed. Her shoulders pressed together. When no one jumped out to stop her, she went inside. She searched a wall for a sack and found one for feeding. She snatched it then entered one horse’s stall.
The horse shook its head, causing its mane swipe the air. It snorted and edged away as Gabrielle ventured into the back of the stall. The stall was clean, so she went to another. It wasn’t until her fourth try that she found a horse with a fresh deposit.
She pinched her nose and turned the sack inside out. She stuffed her hand into the bag and dove into the feces. A lump of disgust formed in her throat. Even through the sack she could feel that the waste was still warm. It broke apart easily in her hands. She shoved down her nausea and turned the sack inside out again, trapping the dung inside while keeping her hands clean. She tied a knot at the top of the bag and erased any sign that she had been in the stables before she left.
She entered the castle and took the left stairs to the servants’ quarters. Laughter escaped the common room where the servants went after work to relax and have fun. They shared stories and tips for cooking and cleaning with the occasional gossip. Excitement raced through her; she couldn’t wait to join them.
She went a little farther down the corridor to Lucinda’s room. There was nothing remarkable the door, so Gabrielle had to count off the plain, wooden doors to make sure she had the right one. She opened the door to Lucinda’s room; she knew the woman would either be cleaning up after supper or would be eating her own meal.
Lucinda’s room wasn’t very different from Gabrielle’s. Every servant had a small room with a cot. Some servants bought dressers, but others kept their things in baskets; she had learned the basket owners were the ones who didn’t stay long. Lucinda had a dresser with a straw doll and a bible on top.
Gabrielle picked up the doll. She would have never guessed Lucinda had such a toy. She returned it to the dresser.
She grabbed Lucinda’s pillowcase. With two vigorous shake pillow flopped out. She opened the bag of feces and gagged on the putrid smell. Lucinda would probably smell it before her head touched the fluffy head cushion. Even so, Gabrielle was certain Lucinda wouldn’t check the pillow; no one ever suspects the pillow. She shook the excrement into the pillowcase then stuffed the cushion inside.
She dashed out the bedroom and into the common room. The fireplace burned, casting shadows against the walls. Ronan, Albert, and Daniel laughed boisterously in front of the fire. Melinda and Warren chatted in the corner—lovebirds. Fiona, Isabella, and Mackenzie huddled together, drank ale, and sang a song about a man shipped off for a murder he did not commit. Thomas sat in a rickety, old chair, teaching Samuel how to read. Marina danced with Eric, and Oliver played a jaunty tune on his flute.
“Gabrielle!” Marina gasped and twirled out of Eric’s hold.
“Come join us.” She took Gabrielle’s hand and spun her into Eric.
Gabrielle laughed, laid her hands on Eric’s chest, and pushed away. She hiked up her skirts and jigged to the upbeat tune. Marina mimicked her.
“Now that isn’t very nice,” Eric chuckled, his cheeks flushed from dancing. “I thought you and I were having a wonderful time.”
“You’re being too sensitive, Eric,” Marina said as she pranced toward him, taking his hand in hers. He spun her around then latched their elbows together. They bounced and twirled.
Gabrielle hopped on the balls of her feet. She jumped into the air with a kick and clapped her hands. She spun, and Thomas was suddenly there. He linked his elbow wither hers. More of the servants joined, and she passed between them. The older ones lined the room and clapped out the beat. They laughed whenever someone fumbled, but then were quick to cheer the person on.
Gabrielle was breathless and hot. Sweat dripped down her forehead and armpits, but she loved the thrill of the dance too much to care. She brushed her bangs out her face as she was passed to Ronan.
A scream pierced the air.
Lucinda burst into the room. Her plump cheeks were ruby with fury, and her brown strands whipped around her face like snakes. The thin, blue veins on her neck throbbed. She thrust her pillow up for all to see and pinched her nose.
“Who did this?” she shrieked.
“Did what?” asked Albert. He walked up to her and stopped two steps short of her. He covered his nose and waved his hand. “What is that stench?”
“Shit!” Lucinda screeched.
A few of the younger servants snickered, including Gabrielle.
“It’s not funny.” Lucinda stormed up to Eric and pinched his ear. “How would you like it if you just finished working, wanted to go to bed, and then found shit in your pillow?”
Eric yanked free of her and rubbed his ear. “Use your spare clothes as a pillow. You can wash it tomorrow.”
“I want it washed now!” Lucinda stomped her foot. “Now who did it?”
No one answered.
Lucinda scanned the room. She looked at them as if they were all murderers. Her gaze landed on Gabrielle and narrowed. She shoved her way to Gabrielle. She shook the putrid pillowcase in Gabrielle’s face. “You.” She seized Gabrielle’s arm. Sharp nails dug into Gabrielle’s skin.
Lucinda tugged her forward. “You clean this up now.”
“Stop it, Lucinda,” Marina pushed her way out of the crowd. “You’ve been picking on Gabrielle, and you are just using this as an excuse to do it again.”
“She’s the one who did this.”
Warren pulled himself away from Melinda. “What’s your evidence?”
“Who else would do it?”
“That’s not evidence,” Marina rebuked.
Lucinda looked between Gabrielle and the crowd of angry faces. She released Gabrielle. “Fine.” She spun, slamming the door behind her as she left.
Gabrielle rubbed her abused arm.
Murmurs about Lucinda’s pillowcase floated in the air. The older servants looked at her suspiciously. Some of the younger ones also eyed her with curiosity, but most chattered amicably with one another.
Marina approached Gabrielle. “Are you all right?” She reached to touch Gabrielle’s arm. Gabrielle jerked away.
Gabrielle forced a smile. “It’s a little sore, but should be fine by tomorrow.”
Marina frowned. “Are you sure?”
Marina lowered her hand and tossed a glance at the servants eyeing Gabrielle. She stepped closer to Gabrielle and whispered, “If it was you, you should avoid doing anything else to Lucinda. She is not the most well liked, but some people are a little too high on their moral horse. You might get in trouble.”
Gabrielle nodded. “I think I’ll go to bed now.”
Marina stepped away. “Goodnight then.”
Gabrielle smiled and waved. “Goodnight to you too.” She ignored the stares of others and gently closed the door behind her as she left. Once outside, her knees felt weak. She gripped the doorknob for support. She collapsed against the door and raised her head to the ceiling. Giddiness danced through her veins. She grinned like a fool. Lucinda would make her life miserable for the next few days, but the look of absolute horror and disgust on her face had given Gabrielle a high she hadn’t felt in months. The rush and thrill was worth it.
She pranced down the hall and twirled.
She had to do it again.
"Those don't look like riding clothes." Lord Kenneth examined his horse's saddle and patted his steed's side. Cordelia hadn't changed out of her simple blue gown from breakfast. Her father would have preferred her to switch into a more regal dress, but even he acknowledged what a terrible idea that would be. She forced a smile on her face and giggled like a fairy, just as she had been instructed to do once she became eligible for marriage." I hope you don't mind, I wanted to look my best for you."
Lord Kenneth leered at her. His lips curved up. He stepped toward her. "I'm honored that you would try so hard to impress me."
"Who said it was difficult?" She grinned but then mentally kicked herself. It was comments like that one that had gotten her in trouble before.
Lord Kenneth blinked then shook his head. He was probably brushing aside her comment as the result of nerves.
She breathed a sigh of relief.
He held out his hand, and she took it. He led her to her horse. "I noticed your family's orchard as I rode in today. I thought we could explore it."
She nodded and kept her teeth pressed against her bottom lip. If she didn't speak then she couldn't insult him. He helped her onto her horse. She internally groaned at the prospect of riding sidesaddle. She was certain her father had specifically told the stable hands to put the sidesaddle on. She waited for him to climb onto his steed. He did so with ease.
He clicked his teeth and moved the reigns. The horse trotted away. Cordelia rubbed the neck of her horse and gave the reigns a tug; it pranced after its brethren. She rode up beside Lord Kenneth. He glanced at her and smiled. "I've heard that you are the adventurous sort. How about a race to the orchard?"
A race? Warm glee tickled Cordelia's insides like a feather. Other suitors had scoffed at the notion of racing against her. They became furious when she took off and left them behind. It was one of the first things her father had told her not do. Even the few who were willing to race got offended when she won. Lord Kenneth, however, Perhaps it was his face that still had its baby fat, or maybe it was his soft blue eyes, or even his brilliant grin, but something about him radiated the same aura that Liam gave off right before they raced. He didn't seem to care who won or lost; he just wanted to have fun.
She nodded and whipped her reigns.
Lord Kenneth mimicked her action.
They blasted around the corner toward the front gates. Guards rushed and stumbled to open the gate. They barely parted the doors in time for Cordelia and Lord Kenneth. The two were neck and neck.
< Cordelia pressed herself closer to her horse and kicked its side. She gritted her teeth as the horse rocked beneath her. She felt like she was sliding off her horse; this was why she hated sidesaddle.
They charged down the dirt path toward the orchards. An old man with a cane flung himself off the road as they rounded a corner near him.
< Cordelia peeked at Lord Kenneth. He kept his gaze focused on the orchard. It made Cordelia grin; it would have been upsetting if Lord Kenneth turned out to be one of those overly sensitive types that would stop their race just because they startled someone.
The wind slapped her hair in her face as they rounded the last bend. She shook her head and gave her horse one firm kick.
The horse jumped and flew over the orchard gate. It landed with a thump and ran a few more paces until she pulled on the reigns. Cordelia made soothing sounds and rubbed her horse's neck. "That's a good horse."
Lord Kenneth's horse snorted behind her.
Cordelia beamed and turned to face Lord Kenneth. Her smile toppled.
She could see it in his squinted eyes, his white-knuckle grip, and his clenched jaw: he was furious. Her heartstrings knotted, and her stomach churned. Was there any way to recover from this?
A strained smile formed on Lord Kenneth's lips. He chuckled drily. "Well, it seems you won. I should have expected your stable hands to give you the best of your horses."
"Actually, your horse is the better of ours." Internal cringe. She'd said too much again.
His smile looked so forced that it made her cheeks ache in sympathy. She sighed and shook her head. There was no making the situation better.
"Ah, well then, good for you. If my steed hadn't needed rest, I'm sure I would have won this match."
Cordelia's skin itched with irritation, and the hair on her arms bristled. "I'm sorry, but do you realize how silly you sound?" There was no point in playing the docile female anymore. She was ecstatic to rip off the uncomfortable facade. "If your horse didn't need rest? Ignoring the fact that every animal has its limitations, and that you're basing your assumption on a possibility that does not exist --and that you have no evidence to back up your assumption --the fact is, you lost. Nothing you say or do changes that."
"The fact is," he stressed his words, "I could have won."
"The fact is, you're an ass."
"How dare you? Do you know who I am?"
"Of course." She raised her head high. "You're a lord, and I am a princess."
His cheeks reddened then turned purple. His tongue tripped over half-formed words. He looked every which way, as if he could find a witty retort on the ground.
She snapped her reigns. The horse dashed toward the orchard's fence and jumped over it. She eased the horse into a trot and went home.
She hoped her father could forgive her.
Can a middle school gossip queen change her ways, or will she lose her BFF for good? Find out in this M!X original novel.
Maddie Evans prides herself on being the gossip queen of Troy Middle School. She is the first person her classmates go to when they need the latest news on the ins-and-outs of TMS—and Maddie never disappoints.
Her best friend since birth, Vi, isn’t crazy about Maddie’s penchant for passing on rumors, but it’s never been an issue in their friendship. Until the day Maddie lets slip who Vi is crushing on—in front of her crush.
Vi is furious, and she confronts Maddie with an ultimatum: no gossip for 30 days, or twelve years of sisterhood goes down the drain.
Stephanie Faris knew she wanted to be an author from a very young age. In fact, her mother often told her to stop reading so much and go outside and play with the other kids. After graduating from Middle Tennessee State University she somehow found herself working in information technology. But she never stopped writing. When she isn’t crafting fiction, Stephanie is indulging her gadget geek side by writing for online technology sites. She lives in Nashville with her husband.
The key to being a good gossip is timing. You have to get the story before anyone else and tell everyone you can before it becomes news.
I’m always the girl who knows first. As editor of The Troy Tattler, Troy Middle School’s unofficial gossip newsletter, I consider it my job. I get the scoop, write it up, and hand it out in front of the cafeteria before school. My BFF Vi—short for Vivienne—thinks I’m just asking for trouble. She prefers to stay to herself. But I can’t help but notice she always sticks around whenever I have news to report.
“Kelsey is mad,” I said at lunch. Sydney and Jessica were hanging on my every word. Vi was spooning applesauce into her mouth while pretending not to listen. “Kelsey told Emma in secret that she likes Aiden, but now everyone knows.”
“Wait,” Jessica said, setting down her roll. It landed on her tray with a thunk. “Who likes Aiden?”
“Emma,” Sydney interjected. She rolled her eyes and turned back to me. “Go on.”
“Actually, Kelsey likes Aiden,” I continued. “Emma told everyone. That’s why Kelsey’s mad.”
I didn’t add the words ‘keep up’ because that would be rude, but sheesh. Did I have to draw a road map for these people?
Ooh, what a great idea! I grabbed my pen, opened my notebook and hastily jotted an idea for a cute drawing in the next issue of The Troy Tattler. Maybe it could even become a regular thing. A gossip cycle. I could draw arrows and cartoon stick people to illustrate the whole ‘Kelsey likes Aiden who likes Sarah who likes Trevor’ thing. I wasn’t a very good artist so I might need to get someone to help—
That was Sydney, calling me back to earth. I slapped my notebook shut, set my pen on top, and turned my attention back to my tuna sandwich. We were only allowed thirty-five minutes for lunch so I had to make it count. That meant I had to squeeze at least one piece of gossip in between each bite of sandwich.
Today I’d have to take smaller bites.
“So what’s the deal with the field trip?” Sydney prompted.
Oh, that. I chewed as quickly as I could and swallowed. I needed a drink of water but I had to get this one little piece of info out first.
“It’s still on, but Kelsey’s sitting at the back of the bus.”
Vi shook her head. I saw it out of the corner of my eye. She had to do that, though. It was her job. I gossiped and she played the disapproving best friend. It had been like that since elementary school.
That, in a nutshell, was why Vi and I were so good together. Our moms were in the same room at the hospital when we were being born and we ended up in bassinets next to each other in the nursery. I guess the whole thing bonded our moms to each other because they became BFFs in the way moms become BFFs, which basically means they get together every weekend and talk about mom stuff while telling us to go outside and play so we can’t hear what they’re saying.
Anyway, Vi and I ended up being like sisters. So even though she’s quiet and shy and not at all into being part of the whole gossip thing, she’s still the best friend I’ve ever had. Besides, being friends with me means she gets to hear everything that’s going on before anyone else.
“How on earth do you find out all this stuff?” Jessica asked. I could hear the awe in her voice.
I shrugged. “I’m good” was all I said. That’s all they needed to know.
The truth was, all I did was listen. You’d be amazed what you can find out just by watching and listening. Most of the time, people were surprisingly unguarded about what they said, especially when they were upset. I could stand at my locker and overhear six juicy conversations without even trying.
“So,” Vi broke in, drawing everyone’s attention to her end of the table. “Is everyone ready for the math midterm?”
Midterms. The very subject I didn’t want to talk about right now. It was the biggest exam so far that year and I’d done my best to study. But I’d also been working on the Tattler, which meant splitting my attention between studying and writing gossip. So, the answer was no. I wasn’t ready.
“Yeah, yeah, whatever,” Sydney said. “I want to know what Kelsey thinks sitting at the back of the bus on the way to Four Cedars Park will do. Aiden will be in the front with Sarah—”
“And Emma,” I broke in to say.
“But Aiden likes Sarah,” Sydney corrected.
Vi was the one who said that. We all turned to look at her.
She sighed and set her sandwich down. “Sarah’s going out with Trevor Finn.” She looked at me. “Remember?”
Of course, I remembered. It was the first piece of gossip I’d delivered to the school at large. It was the very thing that had given me the ‘queen of gossip’ title for which I was now unofficially known.
I’d found out about Sarah and Trevor the same way I found out about everything: I paid attention. It was at the spring social, where everyone was more interested in what kind of ice cream was being handed out than what was going on in the bleachers just a few feet away. But I was watching.
Toward the back of the bleachers, I saw Sarah and Trevor talking and holding hands when they thought no one was looking. By the next morning, thanks to me, Sarah Dooley and Trevor Finn were officially a couple.
I consider it a favor, really.
“Can we get back to the exam?” Vi asked, even though she had to know none of us would want to talk about math when the subject of Trevor Finn, the number one cutest guy in seventh grade, was so much more interesting.
“I say we get on the bus before Trevor does and get a seat near him,” Jessica suggested.
“How can we do that?” Sydney asked. “He’s not on there yet, so we won’t know where he’ll sit. Right?”
She looked at me for that last word. I should have an answer for that. They’d expect me to know some dirt on Trevor at this point. I didn’t have anything on him. I made a mental note to try to catch up with him after fifth period to see if I could overhear anything.
“Easy,” Vi said.
Again, we all turned to look at her. She was chattier than usual today. I figured this time she’d start talking about math again.
“Maddie and I have been riding the bus with him since first grade,” Vi began, frowning at her sandwich before setting it down, folding her hands in front of her, and looking at us. “Based on his past behavior, he’ll sit in the front two rows. We’ll be safe by staying in the third row. The second row would be too far forward.”
After a long, awkward silence, Jessica took a deep breath and continued. “So what’s the deal with Travis Fisher?”
That loud gulp we all heard came from Vi’s direction. Jess and Syd turned to look at her, but I kept my gaze firmly planted on the two of them. They weren’t supposed to know Vi liked Travis. It was the one secret I’d been pinky-sworn to since third grade, when he’d rescued her lunch sack from the hands of a couple of bullies and become her real-life superhero. I had a feeling Jessica and Sydney had figured it out, though. The way Vi was always staring at him all moony-eyed when he passed, they’d have to be blind not to have noticed.
“I don’t know anything about Travis Fisher.”
They both turned and looked at me. Hey, at least I’d taken their attention from Vi. Now I had to scramble to come up with something else to say.
“I heard he might be kicked off the football team.” Jessica shrugged. “He has to pick his grades up in history or he’s…”
“History,” Sydney added. They both giggled.
I glanced over at Vi. She was good at disguising what she was thinking, which was completely the opposite of me.
People could read my thoughts right on my face. Kimberly Browning had told me that about Travis in first period, but I’d been keeping it to myself. My goal had been to tell Vi at the right time, but I guess it was too late now. Jessica and Sydney had delivered the bad news in their own cutesy way.
At the end of lunch, Jessica and Sydney took off ahead of us out of the cafeteria, giving me a few much-needed minutes alone with Vi. I had to get a feel for how she was feeling before I rushed off to my next class, otherwise it would be bugging me for the next hour.
“You okay?” I asked as we tossed our trash into the nearby garbage and wove our way through the exiting crowd.
She broke out into a smile and nodded.
I stopped walking and turned to stare at her. “Wait, you’re happy?”
She nodded again, this time even more enthusiastically. Maybe there was some other piece of news I’d missed. I waited for her to clarify. In typical Vi style, though, she just kept walking with that big cheesecake-eating grin on her face. I’d have to dig it out of her.
I chased after her, following her through the cafeteria doors and out into the hallway. If there was one thing I could do well, it was dig information out of people. But Vi wasn’t like ordinary people. Vi was secretive.
All the way to her locker, I tried to get it out of her. She was still smiling, but not talking. I tried guessing, begging, and reminding her that I was her best friend in the whole wide world. Finally it became clear. I’d have to go for bribery.
“Fine,” I snapped, crossing my arms over my chest and leaning against the locker next to hers. “I’ll help you with your room.”
I knew that would do it. Vi lit up. She turned and looked at me, her eyes all sparkly.
“Really? You’d do that?”
She seemed to realize what she’d have to do to get me to do that and deflated a little. Not completely, though.
Decorating was important to Vi. You could say it was her hobby, like The Troy Tattler is my hobby. She somehow turned decorating into smart stuff, though, carefully calculating every square inch of her bedroom and drawing exactly what she’d be doing with that inch. It meant so much to Vi, helping her with her room would be like her writing a column for the Tattler.
I felt a little stab of guilt that I was only offering to help Vi to get some info out of her. But, seriously. We’re talking weeks of listing to words like “geometric design” and “optimized space.” Compared to other people, I was average, but compared to Vi and her ten-ton brain, I was completely clueless.
“Okay,” she agreed. “I’ll tell you. But you can’t tell anyone.”
There was a reason Vi said things like that. One of the downfalls of being the gossip queen of Troy Middle School was that sometimes I got the feeling people didn’t want to tell me things. Actually, it wasn’t even a feeling. People stopped talking when they saw me walking by and even my friends—the people who were supposed to trust me more than anything—would start to say something, look at me, and clamp their mouths shut.
Which is why I had to be extra-good at eavesdropping.
“I don’t tell anyone anything you tell me,” I told Vi. That wasn’t entirely true and she knew it. I just hoped she wouldn’t point out the time I let it slip that she still slept with her childhood teddy bear in front of everyone in gym class.
Luckily, she was too caught up in her excitement to worry about that. She closed her locker and leaned in close to tell me her secret.
“I figure it’s like this.” Vi‘s voice was barely above a whisper. “Travis is off the football team, right?”
I nodded, even though we weren’t sure about that. Sometimes you just had to go with a rumor.
“If he’s off the team, I might have a chance,” Vi said. From the look on my face, she probably got that I wasn’t following. “He might like me back.”
I looked around. The halls were crowded, reminding me just how hard it was to stand out around here. It didn't help that Vi was so shy. She barely talked to anyone but me. Any friends I had became friends of hers, too.
There was no way Travis would just start noticing her, even if he was off the football team.
Which was silly, because Vi was pretty. Even a popular guy like Travis Fisher would like her. If only he knew she existed. It was like a light bulb went off inside my head. That was my job. As her friend, it was my duty to get through to Travis for her.
I knew she'd freak out if I told her I planned to say something. But I could already imagine the look on her face when I told her he liked her too. At that point, she'd forgive me for giving her secret away.
By Graeme C. Simsion
This book, with its wacky characters and fluid writing style, is simply one that should not be missed. Consider having a companion for a few days that not only makes you laugh-out-loud but also gives you that fuzzy, indescribably warm feeling that can only be experienced in a relationship of pure emotional friendship. This is the ultimate feel good book--it's an easy, yet deep, take of self-discovery and personal growth parceled in such entertaining prose that the reader will find themselves enthralled rather than instructed, but, nevertheless, there is a lesson brewed and shared from amid its scintillating pages.Gone Girl
By Gillian Flynn
I have to include this tale because it is one of the cleverest mind-game novels of the decade. It has been so often promoted by bloggers and critics as a must read that it has almost lost value through appearing too commercial for serious readers to take too much notice of. That, however, is a blundering error! this fiction will leave you breathless not only as a consequence of its stunningly original and intricately devised plot, but also from the sheer clarity of the prose which is, simultaneously , devilishly evocative and unusual in subject and execution--take this excerpt, which must be one of the most striking opening paragraphs in fiction."When I think of my wife, I always think of her head. The shape of it, to begin with. The very first time I saw her, it was the back of the head I saw, and there was something lovely about it, the angles of it, like a shiny, hard corn kernel or a riverbed fossil. She had what the Victorians would call a finely shaped head. You could imagine the skull quite easily."
Here and there I have seen negative reviews offered for this work, but my mind goes with the impression that you either love this book or hate it, understand it or fail to grasp it. Truly, I don't believe a thinking reader can set it down without being profoundly affected.Firebolt.
by Adrienne Woods
If magic, mysticism and fantasy adventure are your thing then this is the book for you. The might, power and awe inspiring nature of dragons is brought vividly to life on the pages this exciting and original book. It is a YA fiction, aimed at the teenage crowd, but who can resist the golden threads of fable and myth, especially when worked, as they are by this talented author, into a glittering, fabric of a novel, that will leave you with a glowing sense if wonder and smile on your face.My Review
For the love of blueberries this is a delicious read. Firebolt is packed with spectacularly imaginative scenes populated with characters that are highlighted by the spark of dragon blood coursing through their veins. Dragon lore is woven throughout the story lacing this marvelously creative plot with a truly intelligent and awe inspiring concept. This book is part Tolkien, part Stephen Donoldson, but it is also wholly original in both its breath of planning and its fantastical principle.
Elena, the main protagonist is thrown into a new and exciting world after her dad dies. To her bafflement, she discovers her father was a dragon, and she has a curios mark on her body that is the darkest of its kind, making her something special into the half-human, half-dragon world. The world of dragons is wonderfully and realistically presented and throughout the tale the light of the dragon in the protagonists hair and eyes are the tell take signs that give away their true dragon nature, they are more than shape shifters, they are real dragons. The idea that there are classes and different types of dragons not only adds to the interest level of this marvelous story but it projects it into the realm of intrigue, since not all dragons are good--their true nature has to be tamed by their chosen rider. Ahh... and there it is the true kernel of magic in the story: the taming of the dragon by the only person able by fate to complete the task--the dragons life partner. They are destined to be together eternally, beautiful.... This is a YA read, but truly it is so well written and conceptualized that it would be a fitting read for any age group; it is filled with mystery, shrouded in magic and glittered with soaring imagination. Do not miss this book.Wallbanger
A flight into romance as it should be, and has never before been told. Drown yourself in the delicious tension Alice Clayton builds as she unreels a yarn of awe inspiring wonder. Tag along while Simon and "Nightie Girl", as they sleuth out the lost O (in-house... Or rather in-book joke) (giggle). This should be prescribed reading for.... Well everyone really. I challenge you not to enjoy this; I'll lose.Bloom
Bloom, or Scribblers disease is introduced as a horror fungus, a sprouting phenomena that is bound to keep you awake at night; however, it evolves into something far more complex and calculating--a measure of a wonderfully productive imagination. Bloom is the future, it is all knowledge, science and life. The story opens with two young characters; the male character's function is to protect and love the female, the female must protect and love the world. This is an adult fairy tale, a gem, a marvel. It is Alice in Wonderland, The Hulk, The Lord of the Rings and The Matrix all rolled into one. Rarely if ever have I enjoyed or become so completely enmeshed in a book.
The reader is transported into a dystopia world on the brink of extinction. Allison Rosling and the charmingly named, Tennyson Middlebrook, are childhood friends whose devotion to each other is the stuff of legends. They populate the pages of the novel's past, present and future. Allison cannot bear anything to feel pain, she is special and Tennyson must struggle to keep abreast. The story unfolds intelligently on more than one level at all times. We are pulled along by the parallel tale of Lil'it the fairy. But, this fairy is of a type you've never even begun to imagine; she is beautiful, tiny and brilliant, however, she is also poison itself. Her adventures are a delight to read, they are also spectacularly woven into the Allison-Tennyson backstory that traverses a myriad of millennia--you will find yourself flinging pages aside in your need to discover the outcome of their strange symbiosis. The book is exciting, unique and beautifully written. To imagine how this wonderfully original fantasy escaped major publishing interest is only a sad sign of the times.
The Siblings Tour
College boy Kevin Banovic's casual affair with Savi DaCosta suited him perfectly. Things change when he finds out that Savi is his mom's high school bestie. When Kevin tries to end their affair, Savi blackmails him. After Kevin rescues Savi's stepdaughter, L'Wren, from her abusive boyfriend, he can't stop thinking about her. He must find a way to handle Savi, protect L'Wren, and keep his sanity.
Gillian Felix has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pencil. She enjoys creating characters that could be your next-door neighbor, but would you want them as your neighbor is another story.
Chapter 19: Cocktails and Dreams
L'Wren entered Bacchanal Jake's with two of her girlfriends. While their intention was to have fun and enjoy the attention of guys, her mission was to see Kevin Banovic again. She knew he worked there and, without alerting her friends to her plan, casually chose Jake's as the hangout spot for the evening.
The Candidates Daughter
The plan is simple: kidnap the daughter of Senate candidate Richard McClaine, take the money and run. Nobody gets hurt, the kid goes home alive. Twenty-two-year-old car thief Kelsey Money thinks it's the worst idea Matt and his drug-fueled brother have ever come up with. But Matt's the planner. He's the one Kelsey has always depended on. Then she discovers she only knew half the plan. By the time she finds out the rest, she's been framed for murder, and six-year-old Holly McClaine won't be going home alive. Across town, Elizabeth McClaine has no idea what her daughter was wearing when she disappeared. When Holly was born with Down syndrome and a cleft palate, Elizabeth placed her only child in the care of a nanny while she fought post-natal depression. But when Holly is kidnapped and Elizabeth discovers the detective leading the hunt has already failed one kidnapped child, Elizabeth knows she cannot fail hers. Now both women have twenty-four hours to find Holly. Because in twenty-five, she'll be dead. The Candidate's Daughter is a fast paced thriller of love and loss, failure and redemption, of mothers and daughters, and the bonds that hold them.
Catherine lives with her daughter, and a fox terrier that thinks he owns the house. She has sold international satellite capacity, worked in IT recruitment, and run her own communications store.
When Catherine isn't writing, she's dog-wrangling, wrestling with technology, or going crazy trying to maintain control of the yard.
THE CANDIDATE'S DAUGHTER is her first published work.
CHAPTER ONE - DAY ONE
Six years old. Even from here the kid looked small for her age.
Embark on a journey of utterly believable intrigue toward a nail-biting show-down that'll have you screaming "get'm, oh get'm, please", until the very last world-erupting word. An emotional freight train running at an unprecedented pace into unfathomable darkness. A place of ice cold emptiness. A hollowed-out-heart. A wicked barren pit. You feel all this in the mother's pain, tangibly. You will hear a crinkle of paper, loud enough to set your teeth on edge, as she crunches up her heartfelt void right in front of you! Yet, it has rhythm, a speed to it that layers warmth to melt straight through the ice at the base of the tale. I felt myself rooting for the heroine(s) vocally(very loudly, in fact). At various intersections, I found my hands in fists of sheer anticipation. The suspense nearly killed me. I was so very involved in the story I dreaded its finale, now isn't that something? Incredibly eloquent, you'll be marveling at phrase after phrase of first class, sparkling writing; could I say more? Catherine Lea stitched me right into the fabric of her story without me even noticing that she had; the mark of a truly gifted author.
Why Did You Write the Book?
I'm the mother of a disabled child and I originally wanted to write a book about the mother of a disabled child to highlight the conflicts of emotions that result in the birth of a child less perfect. So I needed plot. I decided that if this child were lost or stolen, then I could examine the complex issues involved. I opened the book with Kelsey, and well, she took the story from there.
What Is Your Next Project?
My next project. Ah, well, that's a leading question. I'm working on a number of different projects. I have a thriller about a sociopath who finds himself the victim when he enters a competition for a $10 million prize. It's very different from The Candidate's Daughter and I'm tossing up whether to launch it under a pseudonym. That's almost ready to go. In the meantime I'm working on a humorous YA mystery series titled, THE MYSTERIES OF MOSEY BLAINE. It's set in New Zealand and it's about two intellectually over-achieving high school girls who solve mysteries in their school. Of course, nothing works out the way they plan and I've drawn on my own dismal high school memories to come up with a cast of interesting characters. I wrote two books a while back and decided to do a complete rewrite on them before putting them up. I'm also around a third the way through a suspense, also set in New Zealand, and a military thriller set in Zimbabwe.
Who Inspires You?
All good writers inspire me. I began reading all the British authors like Ruth Rendell and Colin Dexter, then I discovered Lawrence Block and Ed McBain. Sue Grafton is also one of my loves. I've read every one of her books. I have to admit, I have a real problem reading bad writing these days, which makes me more fussy with my own work.
Who Do You Write - Using an Outline or Adlib
I use a mixture of both. I have to know where I'm going. With The Candidate's Daughter, I had the end scene firmly in my mind by Chaper two. I didn't write it because although some writers can happily write out of sequence, I can't. I'm very liniar, but I don't make notes, either. That may have to change as my home life becomes more hectic looking after my terminally ill daughter.
How Long Did it Take to Write the First Draft?
The first draft took around five months. It was a whirlwind affair and at no time did I doubt the story. I was enormously fortunate to catch the eye of Sara J. Henry who is the multi-award-winning author of A COLD AND LONELY PLACE and LEARNING TO SWIM. There's a good reason she won so many awards for these books and I was incredibly lucky that she took me under her wing and helped me address some areas that weren’t working. She worked on the edits over and over to help me get it into shape for submission. Sara was also kind enough to give me a blurb for the cover.
A 3-point pitch, why I truly believe this book can reach a few new readers who otherwise never considered themselves fans of poetry: First: It's about drinking! The good, the bad, and the ugly of it. The raucous, drunken, mad, idiotic, regrettable, and joyous escapades. And I truly believe that, if your thirst is as deep and gorgeous as mine, if you and your friends have a few drunken tales of your own, then this book will be a helluva lot of fun. Second: It's not about drinking at all. I mean, yeah, sure, every poem has booze in it, but it merely serves as the lens through which a much bigger, more complex tapestry is woven. This book, like all art really, is about just two things: love and death, that profoundly joyous and terrible human predicament. The booze is just easier to see! Look deeper and you'll find a book that is vulnerable and tortured, lost and confused, and in the next turn crazy, cackling, swaggering, and unhinged. The final result is a fractured, poetic mosaic-- a spiritual journey that has walked through the existential Badlands and forged, from them, a proud, hard-won redemption. Lastly: It's funny! Its like a fortune cookie my brother once chose: "If you can't laugh at your own life, then it isn't much." Damn straight. All these stories testify to the utter jackassery we are all (hopefully) capable of. "Some people never go crazy," says Bukowski, "what truly horrible lives they must lead." So, if you've ever been drunk, if you've ever been insane, or lost, or too loud; if you've ever been lusty, or desperate; if you've ever been a little salty with authority; if you've ever struggled with love or no love; if you've done something you regret, or wished you'd done a helluva lot more to regret-- you'll find something hilarious and familiar in this book. And, sure, poetry isn't everyone's thing, but this is as approachable as poetry gets. There's nothing terribly pompous or exclusionary, nothing opaque, or snooty. It's a humble, human book, a book to laugh at, laugh with, and in the end drink to! And you should. I hope you will,
Hosho McCreesh is currently writing & painting in the gypsum & caliche badlands of the American Southwest. His work has appeared widely in print, audio, & online.
From A Deep & Gorgeous Thirst
And when you