Saturday, 19 January 2019

The Ring of Gilly Wood by Ruth Banister




‘There he is,’ whispered Vixen.

‘It’s true then,’ said Buck Rabbit.

‘He’s just a small mole,’ said Doe Rabbit.

‘He’s not just a mole,’ said Vixen.

A great queen loses a ring. Hundreds of years later a ring slips onto the paw of a young mole. The mole grows to be a wise and trusted leader of Gilly Wood and all the animals that live there. But a great threat is coming. Can one small mole save a whole valley? Mole sets out to do just that with friends he makes along the way and the strange thing on his paw…







Author Bio:

Ruth was born on a hot August day on a farm in Sussex. Her English teacher once made her write a story about wasps after one landed on her during a lesson. She still hates wasps but she loves writing. Ruth now lives in Kent with her family and their strange dog.













Friday, 18 January 2019

The Good Man By Gabriel Valjan


Title: The Good Man
Series: The Company Files: 1.
Author: Gabriel Valjan
Genre: International Mystery, Crime Fiction
Published by: Winter Goose Publishing
Publication Date: December 15, 2017
Number of Pages: 251
ISBN: 1941058736 (ISBN13: 9781941058732)


Jack Marshall had served with Walker during the war, and now they work for The Company in postwar Vienna. With the help of Leslie, an analyst who worked undercover gathering intelligence from Hitler’s inner circle, they are tasked to do the inconceivable: recruit former Nazis with knowledge that can help the U.S. in the atomic race. But someone else is looking for these men. And when he finds them, he does not leave them alive.

In this tale of historical noir, of corruption and deceit, no one is who they say they are. Who is The Good Man in a world where an enemy may be a friend, an ally the enemy, and governments deny everything?


Excerpt:

At 0300 his little black beauty warbled from the nightstand, and stirred Walker from his semi-erotic embrace of the pillow. Grable, his .45, was sleeping next to the receiver. She could sleep through anything. He was jealous.

“Awake?” Jack’s distinctive voice came over the wire.

“I am now.” Eyes focused on becoming alert.

“Meet me at the Narrenturm, ninth district.”

“Why?”

“The IP are here already.”

Walker washed a hand over his face, still in the fog.

“What is it, Jack?”

“Dead body in the Fruitcake House.”

The informative sentence ended with a click. The IP, the International Police, presence was a guarantee that the crime scene would not be kept contained.

Walker got out of bed.

His room was square, clean, and impersonal. The room measured 50 square meters and served as living room where the nice, upholstered chair was and bedroom where stood the bed. A modest walnut armoire rested against the wall space next to the bathroom door. There was a set of doors out to the balcony so small that it was an insult to a poor man’s suicide.

There was no pretension to domesticity or habit, like paintings, books, or luxurious furniture. His mirror in the bathroom was his daily reminder of what he presented to the world, and on the nightstand rested his Leich desk phone with its felt-covered base, curled cord, and petite Bakelite body that he answered when the outside world called him.

Each night before bed Walker draped a towel over the upholstered chair, and he placed a pail of water on the balcony. Then he inventoried the room. He knew that if something changed in the room he would wake up. Out of habit he slept without socks, his feet in the open air, so he could respond to anything that moved uninvited in the room.

The AKH is the General Hospital in Vienna, the Allgemeines Krankenhaus, the largest in the country, and the Narrenturm was the second mental hospital in Europe after Bedlam in London. The German word for the place was Gugelhupf because of its architecture. The asylum housed the mentally ill, the criminally insane, and political prisoners.

The AKH boasted the first lightning rods in Vienna on its roof and breakthroughs in hygienic practices. Walker wondered whether the lightning rods had anything to do with the electroconvulsive therapy he had read about back home, as he walked over to the chair, grabbed the towel, and tossed it onto the floor by the balcony door. Blood groups had first been typed in thorough Teutonic style at the AKH, while patients were chained to lattice doors at the Narrenturm, screaming like the forgotten poor and unrepentant heretics in medieval dungeons well into the nineteenth century.

He took off his shorts, went out onto the balcony naked in the cold air, picked up the pail of now freezing water and poured it over his head.

He had learned this trick from a Russian POW. Cold water forces the body to discharge negativity and disease. The POW, he was told through a translator, did this ritual every single day without fail regardless of season. The water made his skin scream. Walker never got used to the shock. The heaviness went out of him through his heels and his mind focused.

He toweled off, dressed, and coaxed Grable out of her sleep and under his arm.

Any time of night the Narrenturm is a nightmare. The building had a corkscrew circular corridor that spun off twenty-eight patient rooms on each of its five floors. Dessert cake. Each room had slit windows that only a starving bird could contemplate for roosting. Escaping the place was as formidable as finding it.

After Walker had given a brief flash of his papers and had inquired after directions, the MP told him in factual German that Courtyard 6 was accessible from one of several entrances. ‘Take Alserstrasse, Garnisongasse, or Spitalgasse, and then consult any one of the gateway maps.’ It was just the right number of precise German details to confuse him.

In darkness and frustration Walker found the wrought-iron gate with a nice curvy snake that he thought was the caduceus. He looked at the serpent. Was it the caduceus of Hermes or the rod of Asclepius? He touched the single snake, ran his fingers across the diamond-shaped iron fixtures. Old man Hermes must have stolen back his staff and had just enough time to get away from the crazies with only one of his snakes. The caduceus, he remembered, had two.

Above him, darkness; ahead of him, in the curving hall as he climbed, voices. He saw Jack, who, intuitively turning his head to his shoulder, saw him before turning his head back to face forward, as International Police and some suits swarmed around, the air charged in a Babel of languages. Even in a crowd Jack Marshall stood out as a man not to crowd.

Walker went to stand next to Jack. Standing at ease – hands behind his back – out of habit. Jack uttered his words just audibly enough for Walker to hear. “The German word for magician is Der Zauberer. Our friend is a magician. He sets the stage, does his trick, and then poof he’s gone. No clues. Nothing.”

Approaching them were the four-to-a-jeep policemen, one representative for each of the national flags that controlled the city. They were reporting to the Inspector in their respective languages. Walker knew the Inspector would summarize the scene for him and Jack in English.

The Frenchman who wore a long haggard face from smoking too many cigarettes, spoke with a phlegmatic bass. The Brit recounted events in his reedy voice with an affected posh accent; no doubt picked up from the BBC back in Birmingham. The Russian, after he had spoken, stood at attention with winter in his face, whereas the American, a young kid, gave a smiling report, about as graceful as a southpaw in a room of righties. Walker’s ears listened for any German, keen for the second verb at the end of the sentence so he could understand what was being said. The Inspector scribbled notes with a very short pencil that took brevity to an art form.

Finally. In his lilting Austrian-inflected English: “Gentlemen, it appears we have an unfortunate scenario here. The victim was discovered this evening, two hours ago to be precise. The police arrived at the scene after hearing a tip from an informant that this facility was being used for black-market trading. Thinking that they might discover black-market penicillin or other commodities popular these days, they made this discovery. Our medical examiner is making an assessment as I speak.”

Jack and Walker remained silent.

The man continued as the four policemen lingered solemnly and choir-like behind him. “The victim in question was, according to our preliminary findings, a man of the medical profession with questionable ethics.”

“You mean a Nazi doctor,” Jack said in his tone of an officer weary of formality and needing facts.

The Frenchman murmured “Bosch” and covered his racist word with a cough. The Inspector’s eyes looked behind him without turning his head.

“Yes, a doctor. The deceased is said to have performed unseemly medical experiments on prisoners in the camps. He did horrible things to children, women, and particularly, Russian prisoners of war. Unconscionable.”

The Russian, a silent Boris, stared ahead without a flinch or thaw.

The Inspector with a modest bow of the head and genteel click of his heels handed Jack a piece of paper. It was a preliminary. Jack said nothing. His eyes took in the paper with a downward glance and he began the short walk to the scene.

Walker and Marshall entered the patient’s cell. The room smelled of something tarry. Some other men who had just been there left in whispers, leaving them alone with the doctor and the body. When the doctor, who was dressed in the all-black priestly garb of his profession, saw his helpers leave and these new men arrive, he switched from his native language to English the way an owl with fourteen neck bones moves his head in ways not humanly possible.

“How’s the patient?” Marshall asked the little man near the body.

“Dead a day or two by his liver temperature. Rigor has set, as you well can see from the positioning.” The doctor was making his own notes while he talked.

“Any thoughts to cause of death, Herr Doktor?” Walker asked, knowing that coroners had looked at enough mortality to be either humble or inhumanly arrogant.

The doctor used his fingers to show an invisible syringe and did the motion of pressing the plunger. Abgespritzt. Lethal injection. I would say, carbolic acid.”

“Sounds to me that would be a fast way to go, Doctor,” Jack said with his hands in his topcoat’s pockets.

“Not necessarily. Ten to fifteen millimeters of the liquid, if injected directly into the heart, should induce ventricular tachycardia in, say, fifteen seconds. Our man here was not so lucky. First, I found no such puncture in the chest. I did find, however, a puncture in one of the extremities. I would say this man took an hour to die. Look at him.”

With this pronouncement, the small birdlike man clicked his little black bag shut and left Jack and Walker inside the cell.

Walker’s eyes took in the history of the room. He estimated that the room was tall enough, walls thick enough, that a man could scream all he wanted and nobody would know he existed. He imagined centuries of such screams within this room and maybe some claw marks on the walls, too. “How did he get in here?”

“And what does the staging job mean?” Jack said.

The dead man was propped on a stool, naked. A metal T, evidentially meant for chaining prisoners, was behind him with one part of the cross bar holding his left arm secure while his right hand, bent in rigor, rested over his heart. The corpse’s left arm had received the injection, the head was cocked back, the throat muscles taut but the mouth closed shut in typical Germanic reticence. The eyes were clouded over, the light gone from them when the heart had stopped. The legs were neutral, the back straight in a way that any mother would be proud of such perfect posture.

Walker and Jack walked around the body without saying a word. In front of the corpse was an SS uniform, folded neatly in a stack. The shirt’s right collar patch bore the runic double lightning bolts, the left patch and matching right shoulder board said, with its three diamonds and two double bars, Hauptsturmf├╝hrer, Captain. His .32 was holstered and accounted for at his feet, next to his shined-to-a-sheen boots.

Jack said nothing. His mind had already processed the scene.

They descended the stairway towards the exit. Both stopped to look at the display of the hydrocephalic baby inside a formaldehyde jar. Walker and Marshall stopped, looked at it, and said nothing, because there was nothing to say.

“What do you think, Walker?” was the question once they were outside.

“The Inspector said that this dead man was a medico but there was no serpent badge on the uniform. That tells me he wasn’t in the Medical Corps. He had to be a straight-up SS man, maybe with some medical knowledge or simply passing through the camp. But he’s no doctor, so I don’t know how the Inspector could say he was doing medical experiments, unless that report of his says something I’m missing.”

Jack answered, “It doesn’t. Anything else?”

“Those slacks,” Walker replied. “They had cat hair on them.”

“So the dead guy either had a cat…”

“Or the killer has one, because there are no cats here that I can see. Another thing: those clothes were pressed and regulation-folded. He wasn’t wearing them when he was killed. Besides, nobody would walk through Vienna these days with that uniform. They either were placed in front of him as he was dying, or after he was dead. It’s all staged to make some kind of statement. Question is, where did his street clothes go.”

Jack touched his breast pocket, where the Inspector’s report rested privately. “We have another problem, Walker.”

“And what might that be?” Walker thought he knew what Jack was thinking but he waited.

Jack was quiet.

“What? You want me to go chase down an orange tabby?”

“Relax, Walker. That Inspector’s report is in German. That’s why I didn’t show it to you.”

“So my German isn’t perfect, but I can manage. What does it say?”

“It gives us the man’s name.”

They stood outside together as the sun was arriving.

“That man…” Jack pointed with his eyes upward to the stone turret from hell “was on our list. Either way we’ll never be able to talk to the Captain.”

“So what’s your recommendation?” asked Walker, afraid of the answer.

They walked to the curb together. Jack had hailed a cab, opened up the suicide door, got in, but delayed the driver with a few words in German, and from the car window said to Walker, “Talk to Leslie later to see what she thinks after I get tonight’s details to her. I’ll get a report on your desk that might interest you.”

He banged on the side door as a signal to the driver to take off.

***
Excerpt from The Company Files: 1. The Good Man by Gabriel Valjan. Copyright © 2018 by Gabriel Valjan. Reproduced with permission from Gabriel Valjan. All rights reserved.



Author Bio:

Gabriel Valjan is the author of the Roma Series and The Company Files from Winter GoosePublishing as well as numerous short stories. In 2018, he was shortlisted for the Bridport and Fish Prize Short Story Prizes.

Gabriel lives in Boston, Massachusetts, where he enjoys the local restaurants, and his two cats, Squeak and Squawk, keep him honest to the story on the screen.






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Thursday, 17 January 2019

The Road to Alexander by Jennifer Macaire


What do you do when the past becomes your future?

The year is 2089, and time-travelling journalist Ashley Riveraine gets a once in a lifetime opportunity to interview her childhood hero, Alexander the Great. She expects to come out with an award-winning article, but doesn’t count on Fate intervening.

Alexander mistakes Ashley for Persephone, goddess of the dead, and kidnaps her, stranding her in his own time. Being stuck 3000 years in the past with the man of her dreams wouldn’t be so bad if the scientists of the Time Institute hadn’t threatened to erase Ashley from existence if she changes history.

Ashley must now walk a tightrope, caught up in the cataclysmic events of the time, knowing what the future holds for the people she comes to love but powerless to do anything to influence it.

Join Ashley on her hilarious, bumpy journey into the past as she discovers where her place in history truly is…


Excerpt:

         We slept for an hour, watered our horses, and then set off at a gallop. We galloped until the dark forced us to slow down. I rode in the back with Plexis and Seleucus. I had learned my lesson. During the night, three men were trampled to death.
         By morning we had slowed to a walk. My horse walked as if she were drunk. Her feet dragged, and her head hung to her knees. We stopped at a spring and rested for an hour. Alexander came to find me and held me in his arms. I felt him quiver. His magnificent eyes were shadowed.
         ‘Ashley, I need you to see for me,’ he said quietly. I flinched. ‘Please. Tell me. Should I continue? I am responsible for these men. If we continue like this, there will only be half of us left after today, and then half again tomorrow. I need to know, Ashley, is it in vain?’ My mouth was set in a stubborn line and my eyes were pleading. He lifted my chin and kissed me ever so softly on the lips. ‘Listen. When we were in the village, the old woman said she saw Darius in a cart, naked, bound, and tied. He’s been humiliated. It’s true I killed his son and his brother. Sis should hate me, but she doesn’t. She’s always loved me– she was the mother I should have had. How can I look her in the eyes if I don’t try and rescue Darius?’
         ‘He’s a fool,’ I said, my voice a harsh whisper.
         ‘He’s a fool, but I love him.’
         I took a deep breath and let it shudder out. His arms tightened around me. ‘You’ve just answered your own question,’ I said.
         I looked at him, he gazed back at me, his eyes wide and guileless. What had the old woman said? ‘The king, with the twin kingdoms of heaven and earth in his eyes’? One eye was the cool of the morning sky; the other held the warmth of the earth. At times I was almost afraid to touch him.
         We rode through the furnace of the third day. Before us, Bessus fled. The bodies of his men and horses lay in our path, and we lost ground when our own horses had to leap or swerve to avoid the dead.
         Behind us, our men fell. That afternoon, five hundred horses perished. By evening, there were only four hundred left of the thousand men who’d followed Alexander in his mad chase after Darius.


Author Bio:

Jennifer Macaire is an American living in Paris. She likes to read, eat chocolate, and plays a mean game of golf. She grew up in upstate New York, Samoa, and the Virgin Islands. She graduated from St Peter and Paul High School in St Thomas and moved to NYC where she modelled for five years for Elite. She went to France and met her husband at the polo club. All that is true. But she mostly likes to make up stories.






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Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Rijel 12 by King Everett Medlin



Title: Rijel 12
Author: King Everett Medlin
Genre: Science Fiction
Date Published: 11/23/18
Publisher: Chandra Press


The remote Intergalactic Penal Colony on the planet Rijel 12 is a very profitable enterprise. Its desolate surface is an uninhabitable wasteland relentlessly scorched by its sun, but inside the planet is a vast treasure trove of the most precious resources in the galaxy.

Prisoners sentenced to Rijel 12 know it’s a one-way ticket. It used to be a convict would serve their time and come home. That stopped a while ago. Inmates are forced to work the mines in wretched conditions and the death rate is staggering. Luckily for the warden, new inmates arrive monthly to replenish the labor pool. Business has never been better.

From the darkness of their miserable existence, one prisoner decides to take a stand and begins to organize a resistance. Inmates rally to the cause and prepare for rebellion. Can the rag-tag rebels of ‘New Australia’ succeed in their quest for freedom or will the warden and the overpowering might of the Interplanetary Authority extinguish their only hope?

From new author, King Everett Medlin, comes an action-packed epic of hope, rebellion, and the quest for redemption.


Excerpt:

The hard life of mining killed off thousands of prisoners every year, and there was no predictable pattern to it. Stronger prisoners died in the mines just as easily as weaker prisoners. Determination to survive, or resentment at having been sent to this subterranean hell, could certainly sustain a being for a while, but accidents were quite common. Death could come easily, and at most any time. Prison administrators didn’t care. They didn’t have to. In another few weeks, there’d be a ship arriving with more prisoners anyway. Life deteriorated into a matter of brutal survival for the desperate beings on Rijel 12.

After half an Earth century of dumping unfortunate prisoners on the planet, the place had become a death sentence, and everyone knew it. Inmates would tell newly arrived prisoners, and even prison officials communicated the same message. As one infamously cruel guard used to put it to arriving convicts as they were processed in the receiving bay, “You have been sent here to die, and that is likely what you’ll do. Accept it, and your miserable existence here may end peacefully. Who knows? You may die tomorrow. We don’t know, and we don’t care. Work and you eat. Eat and you live. That’s all you need to know for now.”

And yet fifty Earth years after its creation, even when faced with such an impossible existence, amazingly, some beings learned how to survive. They adapted, and they overcame by creating a society of their own. Leaders arose, structure developed, and the situation stabilized, partly driven by necessity and partly due to the sheer determination of intelligent creatures seeking to exist, no matter what the circumstances. They figured out ways to live on.


About the Author:

King Everett Medlin has been writing since 2013, when he first developed the idea for Rijel 12. It was originally designed to be a SciFi series, with the objective of creating several short installments. Instead he got a lucky break when Chandra Press from San Diego responded favorably to the original draft, deciding to publish it as a full-length novel. King lives in Denver, Colorado with his lovely wife Caroline and has two grown children. He's a graduate of the University of Oklahoma where he played college Rugby; and remains a diehard Sooners fan to this day. His specialties are Science Fiction and Mystery/Suspense novels, focusing on unusual stories with intriguing plot-lines and amazing characters.




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Tuesday, 15 January 2019

The Tiger's Tale by Kelle Z Riley



Title: The Tiger’s Tale
Series: The Undercover Cats Series
Author: Kelle Z. Riley
Genre: Cozy Mystery with Romantic Elements
Publisher: Curtis Brown Unlimited
Length: 350 Pages
Release Date: January 15, 2019


Bree’s orderly scientific life turned upside-down the day she discovered her first body…learned her co-worker was a spy…and accepted the mission of tracking down an international terrorist.


Is she hitting her stride? Or going nowhere fast?

Fresh from a successful undercover operation, scientist/spy-in-training Bree Watson should feel on top of the world. Instead, the ground is shifting under her feet. When her handler abandons her to follow a lead with his sexy ex-partner, Bree must choose between a normal life, or proving her worth as a spy. Not an easy choice, when she factors in:

  • A police detective’s amorous intentions
  • Her handler’s mixed signals
  • A teaching post at a university filled with intrigue
  • A dead administrator with a sordid past
  • A timid tiger and her tenacious trainer—both being framed for murder

Combined with fanatic football fans, beatnik poets, an orphaned monkey, a demanding boss, quirky colleagues, and her angry cat, the result may be a recipe for disaster.

Can she take the heat? Or will she get burned?



Excerpt:

      Six months ago, Bree had been a confirmed dog person—until she'd inherited a cat from her murdered boss. Now, she held a tiger by the tail. Or rather, by a leash. But when it came to tigers, the difference was just splitting hairs.
      Bree scrambled, following the energetic cub over the dusty, rock-strewn flatlands of the Thailand Tiger Sanctuary. It tugged on the leash, intent on exploring. Sweat trickled down her back. Her foot caught on a rock and she stumbled when the wayward cub pulled her forward.
      A strong male hand grabbed the leash and jerked the tiger back onto the path. Bree suppressed a shiver of awareness and turned to Matthew Tugood, both grateful for—and irritated by—his presence.
      “I can’t believe we’re doing this,” he grumbled. “Why are we here again?”
      Bree resisted the temptation to roll her eyes. “You know my sorority is donating a rescued cub to the Terrance U animal clinic.”
      He scowled at her. Or maybe the sun was in his eyes. “I cut through the red tape for the donation. Not your sorority. Not Terrance University. Not the exotic animal clinic. Me.”
      She ignored him and focused on her tiger cub. Tugood slowed, widening the gap between them and the tour group. “Let me rephrase. Why are we spending the day in a tourist trap?”
      “I wanted to meet the cub’s trainer and get firsthand experience.”
      Matthew answered with a grunt. His mouth firmed into a tight line as he scanned the horizon, squinting against the bright sunlight. “You’re wasting time you could spend preparing for your assignment.” His voice dropped low and he kept his eyes trained on the distance. After a slow pivot, he leaned close, his breath warm on her ear despite his harsh tone. “Or have you forgotten about your mission?”
      Bree disentangled the leash from his hands. “I liked you better before I knew you were a spy.”
      “No, you liked my cover story.” His voice softened, and he glanced her way. “That’s not the same thing. And you do like me now. I happen to like you too.” Despite the ninety-degree heat, a shiver raced down Bree’s spine as if he’d touched her.
      “What I don’t like is that you never stop thinking about your mission. Not for a minute.”
      “Lower your voice. We don’t want to be overheard.”
      Bree eyed the terrain, wondering if the clumps of scrub grass and rocks were cleverly disguised surveillance devices. She dismissed the idea. “Can’t you think about something besides the mission?”
      “May I remind you that my single-minded focus on the mission saved your life on more than one occasion?”
      Bree dropped the argument. For one thing, his interference had saved her life when a murderer—make that two murderers—had wanted her out of the picture. On the other hand, she hadn’t found a single dead body before she met Matthew. So, in her mind, it was a toss-up.
      “I need you to focus on our mission.”
      “Fine. You’ve made yourself clear.” Bree shrugged. “Next topic.” Beside her, Matthew bristled and Bree took secret delight in being able to needle him the same way he constantly needled her.
      “Our target is convinced you’re a brilliant researcher with access to cutting-edge technology.”
      Bree stopped in her tracks so fast, the tiger cub did a backflip at the end of his leash. She whirled on Matthew. “In case you’ve forgotten, I am a real researcher, complete with a PhD in science. Just because my cover story involves a fictional company doesn’t negate my real experience.” Behind her, the tiger cub let out a noise—between a growl and a whine—as if to support Bree’s statement.
      “Your science degree isn’t the only reason you’re an asset to the Sci-Spy organization.”
      Another yowl accompanied by a tug on the leash made Bree turn back to her tiger cub and hurry to catch up with the group. Tugood kept pace, his voice low and insistent. “Like it or not, your days as a simple researcher ended when you signed on with Sci-Spy.”
      Bree stopped at the edge of the tour group and turned to Matthew. “Please. I need a day to do something fun. Something…normal.”
      Across the clearing, a tiger roared, shaking the ground under her feet. Soon she’d be photographed with the massive animal.
      Bree held Matthew’s gaze. When he nodded in reluctant agreement, she turned to the group, but all thoughts of fun—and normal—had fled at Matthew’s mention of their target. Tomorrow, she’d confront a terrorist and try to uncover his network of associates.
      Compared to that, even the quarter-ton tiger seemed docile.


Author Bio:

Kelle Z. Riley, writer, speaker, global traveler, Ph.D. chemist and martial artist weaves bits of her real life into the Undercover Cat Series books. The series features a scientist-turned-sleuth who juggles mystery, romance and the search for a perfect cupcake recipe.

By day Kelle is a full time chemist working in water treatment with multiple U.S. patents. At night she turns into an author whose accolades include finals in the RWA Golden Heart and numerous chapter contests.

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Monday, 14 January 2019

Scintillate by Karen Tjebben


Title: Scintillate
Series: Scintillate Series Book 1
Author: Karen Tjebben
Genre: Young Adult, supernatural romantic thriller
Date Published: November 2013


Kate Archer is instantly drawn to Nick. He's handsome, smart, and interested in her - perhaps a little too interested according to Kate's brother. It's a good thing Nick is interested, or Kate would have died the night of the football game. Nick may have rescued Kate, but he can't stop the inevitable. Kate is changing; she just doesn't know it. She can't explain the visions and sensations affecting her body, but she can enjoy the pleasure of Nick's kiss - that is, until she learns the real reason he is with her. Betrayed by her genetics, Kate begins a metamorphosis that forces her to confront an unseen reality and claim her true destiny.







About the Author:

Story time always captivated Karen. As a child, she fell in love with books that transported her to different worlds and introduced her to new creatures. As a teacher, she encouraged her students to explore different times and new worlds through literature. Now, when Karen isn’t living in reality with her husband and daughters, she can be found creating an alternate reality filled with creatures and worlds that she hopes will delight and raise goose bumps on her readers.








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Sunday, 13 January 2019

The Convalescent Corpse by Nicola Slade



A story of Family, Rationing and Inconvenient Corpses.

Life in 1918 has brought loss and grief and hardship to the three Fyttleton sisters. Helped only by their grandmother (a failed society belle and expert poacher) and hindered by a difficult suffragette mother, as well as an unruly chicken-stealing dog and a house full of paying-guests, they now have to deal with the worrying news that their late – and unlamented – father may not be dead after all. And on top of that, there’s a body in the ha-ha.

‘I love it. A delightfully unusual mystery with wonderful characterisation and historical detail.’ - Lesley Cookman, bestselling author of The Libby Sarjeant Mystery Series




Excerpt:

The paying guests
Their late father had never mentioned that he had bought both their own house and the one joined on to it, years before, after a win on the Derby. Faced with the prospect of the upkeep of two houses on their limited income, they decide to open the house to paying guests, wives and daughters of the officers at the convalescent hospital next door.

      I was rinsing out the tea things when the doorbell rang and there was Miss Judith Evershed, a short, angry-looking woman in her early thirties, with dark eyes and brown hair. She told me she was glad to find somewhere so close to Groom Hall.
      ‘My brother-in-law, Major Larking, is there,’ she said. ‘His wife, my elder sister died last October. Lord Larking, his father, is old and infirm, and his brother is at the War Office and far too important to interrupt his work, while his brother’s wife is busy with her large family. This has led my parents to decree that it is my duty to visit him, as they too are busy.’
      She hoped to move in after luncheon the next day and I was about to take her upstairs to inspect the larger of our remaining rooms when I noticed that she looked extremely weary. I felt sorry for her and, with a glance at the clock, I sat her down in the drawing-room with a pot of tea and a slice of toast, though I could only offer margarine.
      Offering tea (as an extra, of course) was all part of my cunning plan to take the edge off the ladies’ appetites in case dinner was looking thin on the ground at any time. As for the unappetising margarine, I’ve been wondering lately just how difficult it would be to keep a cow for the milk and butter. It could live in the stable that has been empty since we sold off Papa’s bay mare after he was lost in the Lusitania. Perhaps a sheep would be easier to manage? We’d kept an old spinning wheel that turned up amongst our late neighbour’s hoard so perhaps one of us could learn to spin. That might be useful.
      (I dismissed the idea at once. I knew which of us would end up taking on that chore.)
      ‘This is so very kind of you,’ she said, with a slight wobble in her voice then she rallied and managed a smile. ‘I shouldn’t burden you with my troubles,’ she sighed, and proceeded to do so. Not that I minded as long as she didn’t make me late as I have often been accused of having an overly inquisitive nature.
      ‘Major Larking has two boys, both at boarding school and he could manage perfectly well with a competent housekeeper. However…’ Her face tightened. ‘The Family…’ (I could hear the capital letter), ‘tells me I must give up my position to go and keep house for him near here.’
      ‘What is your position, Miss Evershed?’ I was making polite conversation, but she was clearly dying to spill it all out so I listened to the whole story, keeping an eye on the drawing-room mantel clock while she did so.
      ‘I am a senior mistress at a girls’ high school in Buckinghamshire,’ she confided. ‘I teach languages and mathematics and I love my profession. I worked hard to obtain my present position and I have every hope of becoming a deputy headmistress in a few years. I have no domestic skills and will be driven mad with frustration and boredom if I have to be penned up inside a villa on the outskirts of Winchester.’
      I could see that she was trembling with resentment and despair, so I put out a tentative hand to pat her arm.
      ‘Forgive me,’ I said. ‘Is this necessary from an economic point of view? Cannot the major afford to employ that competent housekeeper you suggest?’
      ‘Of course he can,’ she snorted. ‘The trouble is that I’m not sure I can resist the combined weight of his expectations, the extreme disapproval of my own family should I refuse, and the accusing stares from friends, acquaintances and indeed, the population at large. He is a war hero, you see,’ she finished between gritted teeth.
      ‘I see,’ I said sympathetically. And I did see. He was one of “our gallant wounded”, as the newspapers have it and for “one of our fair flower of womanhood” (newspapers again) to refuse outright to assist a hero in his hour of need was unthinkable.


Author Bio:

Nicola Slade lives in Hampshire where she writes historical and contemporary mysteries and women’s fiction. While her three children were growing up she wrote stories for children and for women’s magazines before her first novel, Scuba Dancing, was published in 2005. Among other jobs, Nicola has been an antiques dealer and a Brown Owl! She loves travelling and at one time, lived in Egypt for a year. The Convalescent Corpse is Nicola's 9th novel. Nicola is also a member of a crime writers’ panel, The Deadly Dames.

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