Books I loved! March #BookReviews @stacitroilo @virgilante @hmkindt @wendyjaynescott @LBroday

March was a super busy month for me, but I still managed to read some GREAT books!

Created in Canva
PURCHASE LINK

MY REVIEW:

This is the third installment in the Keystone Couple novellas and it was great to see some of the characters from the first two books make cameos, especially Rick and Romy.
Elena is a wedding planner. She lives on her family’s vineyard in a huge house that fits all of them. And while her job is to help happy couples unite in marriage, she is closed off as far as any future love for herself. The author cleverly threw in just enough backstory to understand Elena’s cynicism that stems back to her high school days ten years ago. Aaron is a policeman and is Rick, Elena’s cousin’s, best friend. He’s always wanted to date Elena, but after the high school fiasco, never had the nerve. Instead, he settled for a narcissistic self-centered woman I enjoyed loathing. The minute Heather shows up in the story, I wanted to slug her. Unfortunately, Elena did, which ended up with her in Aaron’s handcuffs.
My favorite part of the story was how the author showed Elena’s big heart with a more than generous gift to Aaron’s sister who is suffering her own tragedy. With so many obstacles standing in their way, it looked impossible that Aaron and Elena would ever get together. This is a great romance and a short read and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes humor, tragedy and some despicable characters all rolled into one story.

PURCHASE LINK

MY REVIEW:

Anytime I pick up a book from C.S. Boyack, I know I am in for a treat. This book did not disappoint. Book #5 in The Hat series is different. Lizzie and The Hat are on a unique sort of quest, one that involves hunting a human killer instead of zombies, ghouls, or even werewolves. A coven of witches is in danger. One has already been killed and no one is safe. They hire Lizzie and The Hat to find the killer.
The story takes several unexpected turns. It was good to see the regular band members from Lizzie and The Pythons. And I enjoyed the relevant path the band took to get more exposure. It’s true to life. Every band needs a promo video and let’s not forget T-shirts to sell. I’d like to have one of those T-shirts. (hint, hint, Boyack)
I loved the new characters Boyack introduced. Cyrus, Dash, and Destiny all added so much to the story and I absolutely loved the witchcraft part of the story. I’d be remiss not to mention the “creatures” that come into this story. Noodles is straight-out fantasy, and even though his physical appearance is frightening, he has a heart of gold like any devoted pet. I had never heard of Bog Trogs or ambergris. Those were new to me.
Another thing I love is Boyack’s easy way of slipping in things from previous books, like this: “The little black fox trotted past revelers dressed as a cluster of root monsters…” And this, when Cyrus is giving Dash a journal: “This one is an Experimental Notebook…”
Anyone familiar with Boyack’s previous works will recognize these clever insertions.
The magic is over the top in this book. I won’t leave any spoilers, but let’s just say I was on the edge of my seat a couple of times. Fantasy, Magic, Adventure, Excitement…all words I would use to describe this latest book from Boyack. I highly recommend it!

PURCHASE LINK

MY REVIEW:

This book is a spinoff from the Eternal Artifacts series and I absolutely loved it. It is YA fantasy at its best!
The story begins with Catron and her father, who is a glassblower. Catron is his helper but has dreams of something better, something more exciting and adventurous than glassblowing. So, when Dawkins, a member of King Mo’s elite guard, shows up with claims that Catron has been chosen to learn at the Vradian Academy, she has mixed emotions of excitement and fear, as well as sadness about leaving her father.
From the start, I fell in love with this character. As other characters arrive in the story, also students of the academy, we start to see relationships form and bonds built. It seems that none of them chose to attend the academy. Through various circumstances, it was forced. This almost immediately gives all of them a common bond. And when lives are threatened, they are able to work together using their individual talents.
This author does a fantastic job of writing from a teenager’s point of view. The thoughts, words, and actions are believable and well portrayed throughout the story.
If you love a story with tons of adventure, magic, and teenage drama, this is a book you will love. And it is not limited to the YA category. Without any doubt, adults would enjoy this escape into fantasy as well. I highly recommend it!

PURCHASE LINK

MY REVIEW:

This book wraps up the unforgettable Lone Star Ranch stories. Crockett Legend fell in love with Paisley Malone when they were just kids. But a family feud tore them apart and to add salt to the wound, Crockett, who is now a judge, had sentenced Paisley’s brother to prison for crimes he’d committed. Then the brother died. There is no way they will ever be able to get past the bitterness. Or is there?
Only Linda Broday could craft a story so compelling out of such broken pieces. Evil abounds in this story. Hatred and spite take center stage.
Love is a powerful healer, though and a healer, Paisley is. When the Lone Star Ranch needs a nurse to tend to injured and sick, it’s the perfect way for Crockett to keep Paisley safe, and to work on trying to mend their fences.
Add in a hilarious talking parrot and you’ve got quite a complex and intriguing story. I love the way Broday works the characters through all obstacles. When any happy outcome seems impossible, she finds a way to bring back together what is shattered. A great historical western romance that I highly recommend. It is the perfect wrap-up to the Lone Star series and while I shed a few tears at some of the events, I closed the book with a happy heart.

PURCHASE LINK

MY REVIEW:

This book contains 31 different writing prompts based on mythical creatures such as unicorns and mermaids. Each prompt is designed to spark the imagination of a child (or adult) who is wanting to write a fantasy story. The colorful illustrations are a delight and lend to the prompt suggestions. For example, one prompt asks the budding author to describe where dragons live while another gives a what-if scenario. What if you are gifted a magical pair of ballerina slippers that transforms you into a dancing fairy, but you mix them up with your regular shoes. If you have a budding author in your family, this book of prompts is the perfect gift. My granddaughter who loves to read and to write will be getting this book for her birthday this year.

That’s it from me. I hope you saw something here that piqued your interest!

WELCOME TO DAY 4 OF THE #RWISA “REVOLUTION” BLOG TOUR! #RRBC @WENDYJAYNESCOTT @RRBC_ORG @RRBC_RWISA @TWEETS4RWISA #RWISAREVOLUTIONTOUR

It is such a pleasure today to feature my partner in crime, and President of RWISA, Wendy Scott!

HAPPY DANCE

In March 2020, with only a few days warning, alongside the rest of New Zealand, I was plunged into total lockdown. Saying this was a surreal experience is an understatement. As none of us knew how long this altered state would last, what this meant for our jobs, or the financial or health repercussions. We’d become entangled into the twilight zone of Covid-19. UNPRECEDENTED, screamed from the headlines alongside worldwide body counts and estimated infection rates. No compass existed to guide us out of the pandemic fog shrouding our futures. We were confined to our specified people bubbles.

Teddy Bears sprouted up window ledges and letter boxes, a sign of hope and solidarity, signalling to passers-by that even though 2 meter distances and masks now ruled our physical world, we were together in our hearts. I remember gathering, with my son, at the end of our driveway, in the predawn, to pay homage to our fallen ANZAC soldiers. Dawn parades were cancelled for the first time in 104 years. The haunting bugle tone of ‘The Last Post’ filtered from an unseen neighbour’s gateway and shivers resonated along my spine.

During lockdown, I had a choice of how I would respond to my altered reality. Black voids of despair, conspiracy theories, and fake news plied for my sanity. Yet, sunlight glistened on the tall summer grasses in my yard, my son’s laughter trickled on the breeze, and my dogs’ tails wagged like helicopter rotors, ecstatic to have their human pals home 24/7. So, I chose to focus on becoming a healthier and happier version of me, and a positive role-model for my son.

Fast forward to February 2021, New Zealand is no longer in lockdown, but our borders are heavily restricted, and the new media buzz words are QUARANTINE and VACCINE. Uncertainty looms like a bloated storm cloud. Fears of further job losses and financial ruin taint our summer days. Staying positive is harder to maintain under this sustained assault of negative news.

Changes are happening. Although, I fight against the dismantling of my comfortable world, my will alone doesn’t curb the tidal jetsam from Covid-19, so I must adapt to this foreign landscape.

Since lockdown, I’ve embraced personal development, focusing inward, aware that I may not be in a position to influence external circumstances, but I can take responsibility for myself. Being positive is easy when life is rosy, yet it is how I react when life is battering away at my defences that define me as a person.

Here are my top tips for positivity:

  • Express your gratitude every day for what you do have
  • Show and tell your loved ones how much you care for them and hug them (if you can)
  • Use your creativity!!!! Keep feeding your creative addictions
  • Resonate with nature by strolling on the beach, sniff garden flowers, or listen to birdsong
  • Smile more, at everyone, this is the right kind of contagious! If a mask hides your mouth, then smile through your eyes!
  • Be kind, laugh, and dance – play music that lifts your spirit

So, smile, and join me in singing and dancing into the light.

RWISA AUTHOR PROFILE PAGE

What Wendy has to say about RWISA…

Check out Wendy’s Book!

FEEDERS PURCHASE LINK

Have you written that book or short story you want the whole world to know about? Are you looking for a great way to promote your creative endeavors? Perhaps you’re seeking to add some prestige to your body of work! If this sounds like you, we invite you to come on over to RAVE WRITERS – INT’L SOCIETY OF AUTHORS, otherwise known as RWISA.

At RWISA, we invite to membership only the very best writers the Indie community has to offer.

If your work is exemplary and speaks for itself, stop by the RWISA website today at RaveWriters.wordpress.com and find out how you can submit your sample of writing for consideration.

We’re an exclusive bunch but we’d love to have you join us!

NOTE:  If you’re looking to improve your writing while taking another route to membership into RWISA, while you’re at the site, visit RWISA UNIVERSITY!

Thanks for dropping by and don’t forget to leave the author a comment below!  To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the tour’s home page!

January #BookReviews – Only 4 and 5 Star #Bridgerton @OverbeckRandy @ParrisAfton @WendyJayneScott @sasspip

I read eight books in the month of January, but I am only listing the ones that I gave either a four or five star review. These are all GREAT books and I highly recommend them!

I’m going to start with the Five-Star Reviews first.

The Brigands (The Texicans Book 1) by Parris Afton Bonds

MY THOUGHTS:

This story is an amazingly accurate historical portrayal of the events that lead to Texas (Tejas) winning independence from Mexico, and includes two sizzling yet seemingly impossible love affairs. Two women arriving at the port of Matamoros, each unaware of the other and each with different motives wind up with their lives thrust into an intricately woven web of power, struggle, and deceit. Ms. Bonds did an outstanding job of layering this story with intense conflict and emotion as each woman fought against the power of all-consuming love. Fiona and Rafaela are two characters I won’t soon forget, not to mention the handsome, yet deadly Baron who possesses a black heart and deadly will. Add in the Irish Gypsy Traveler and you have four people tied together by unpredictable circumstances and eventually undeniable love.

Blood on the Chesapeake” by Randy Overbeck

MY THOUGHTS:

This story grabbed me from the first page and didn’t let go until the last. Overbeck touches on so many different facets in this book from the civil rights unrest in the 60s to a murder cover-up as a suicide set in a high school. Throw in a ghost that will not leave the new coach, Darrell Henshaw, alone and you’ve got a great combination for a story. Coach Henshaw can communicate with the ghost, but it is not something he welcomes or wants. The author took me on a riveting journey through the process of solving the murder/suicide and exacting revenge. And, there is a blossoming love story thrown in the midst of it all. I love how the author accurately depicts attitudes and beliefs and how he brings the beautiful setting of the bay to life in vivid color. I highly recommend it for any reader who likes a well-paced, well-written murder/mystery with twists!

Sleighed – A Christmas Tale” by WJ Scott

MY THOUGHTS:

In this Christmas children’s story, a new elf in Santa’s workshop learns a valuable lesson. Always remember to clean the fairy dust off before leaving the workshop. Tinsel, the elf, has quite the adventure when he forgets that bit of advice. It is a short read that young and old alike will enjoy! I highly recommend it!

“Sizzling Sunset – Book 5 of the Royal Command Series” by Sarah Stuart

MY REVIEW:

If you have read the other four books in the Royal Command Family Saga, you are going to appreciate the way Ms. Stuart wraps up this saga. This segment of the series focuses on Greta Marsh, the teenaged daughter of the Diamond Superstar, Michael Marsh. When Michael and Greta’s stepmother go on an extensive concert tour in the U.S., little do they know the young boy and his sister whom they rescue will be Greta’s true love. What I like most about this story is the way it comes in a full circle. What I mean by that is in book one, Michael is poor and has a dream of making it big on stage. Elspeth, born of money and heritage, falls hopelessly in love with Michael and helps make his dreams come true. In this book, Greta falls in love with an impoverished boy, just as her mother had done. Another thing I loved about this story segment is that the royal jewels from the diary of Margaret Tudor which was passed down through generations were woven into Greta’s wedding bouquet. A perfect ending to a high drama saga. Ms. Stuart has a talent for pulling out all the stops in her storytelling.

“The Duke and I (Book 2 of the Bridgerton series” by Julia Quinn

MY THOUGHTS:

I seldom read a mainstream book anymore. My go-to are Indie Authors. But my daughters became obsessed with the Netflix series and insisted I watch it, then we wanted to read the books. Almost always the book is better than the show, but in this case, I found the show to be better than the book. While the story premise was the same, the characters were not and the situations were not. It would probably be better to read the book before watching the series. It is a well-written multi-dimensional story about the ultimate game of pretense.

“Sleighed” – New Release from WJ Scott! @WendyJayneScott @RRBC_Org @RRBC_RWISA #RRBC #RWISA

There is nothing like a fresh new Christmas story from Santa’s workshop to keep the spirit of Christmas going into the new year! And that’s what W.J. Scott has done. I’ll let her tell you about it!

Youtube link: https://youtu.be/QGx59ifI3Aw

Blurb:

Tinsel is the newest apprentice in Santa’s Workshop, but this young elf lands himself in strife on his first day!

He’s sent to care for the reindeer and instead ends up on a magical adventure.

Will the Toy-Inspector allow him back into the Workshop?

A fun Christmas story for younger readers and those young at heart.

Amazon Universal Link http://mybook.to/Sleighed

In March 2019, my sister (who lives in Canada), visited me in New Zealand, and we embarked on a memory tour. We revisited places from our childhood, including Queenstown, where our grandmother used to live.

Our great-grandfather had been an engineer on the iconic century-old coal fired steamship, the TSS Earnslaw, back in the day when it transported stock and supplies across Lake Wakatipu. We enjoyed a delightful sunny cruise to Walter Peak High Country Farm.

During our travels, we set a challenge, to each write a 1500 word story. I chose to write a Children’s Christmas story, based on a writing prompt from my Aspiring Author Series, and that’s how, ‘Sleighed’, came to be created. 

Aspiring Author Series Link Aspiring Author Series (6 book series) Kindle Edition (amazon.com)

Author Bio:

Wendy Scott has a New Zealand Certificate in Science (Chemistry), which allows her to dabble with fuming potions and strange substances, satisfying her inner witch.

Wendy writes short stories, fantasy, and children’s novels. Her books have won multiple awards.

One of the creeds she lives by is to always – Live a life less ordinary!

Full book list http://www.wendyjscott.com/

Amazon Universal Link http://mybook.to/Sleighed

Connect with Wendy:

Children’s Websites

http://www.authorchildrens.com

http://www.hieroglyph.ws

http://www.tails-wjscott.com

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/ChildrenAuthorWJScott

Twitter:

@WendyJayneScott

Pinterest:

WELCOME TO DAY 9 OF THE WATCH “RWISA” WRITE SHOWCASE TOUR! #RRBC #RWISA #RWISAWRW @RRBC_ORG @WENDYJAYNESCOTT

This month we have 11 awesome writers on tour, showcasing their writing ability via short snippets of their never-before-seen written works of art.  Each day, one author will be profiled on multiple blogs until the next day, when it will be another author’s turn to shine in our spotlight.

We invite you to check out each piece, no matter which blog you find them on, and then let the author know what you thought of their work via the comments sections.  After enjoying the piece, we ask that you visit the author’s RWISA Profile Page here on the RWISA site, where you will find more of their work to enjoy.

Today we are featuring Wendy Scott!

This piece is in remembrance of my Creative Writing student, Gill Pontin, who suddenly passed away in October 2020. Gill was an artistic dynamo whose enthusiasm, creativity and laughter will be dearly missed. She was a key participant when our group developed a new world, Creedland, and this story is set in Vape Town.

“Whoa, boy.” Blade Driscoll tugged on the reins and pulled his destrier to a halt. He surveyed the outskirts of Vape Town, unsurprised by the ramshackle buildings and pock-marked roads. The air reeked of burnt sugar and the back of Blade’s throat tingled. Between his thighs, Stormbolt shifted, wrinkling his equine nose and shaking his head from side to side. The horse’s plated armour clinked together destroying any attempt at stealth. Blade nudged his mount towards the main street, the sooner he finished his business in this cesspit the better for his sanity.

Pink-eyed townsfolk slunk away from the war horse’s hoof spikes. Pastel smoke billowed from a series of chimney stacks and led him to the front steps of the Crystal Tavern. Scantily clad fairies with tattered wings slouched against the verandah railings. Out of habit, Blade scanned their faces but didn’t recognise any familiar features. He didn’t waste his breath asking after his friend as their vacant stares and pink-tinted irises indicated their minds were lost in a kaleidoscopic haze.

Crystal Pink was manufactured from bog flowers and utterly irresistible to fairies. Its euphoric buzz leached away their magic, attacked the delicate blood vessels in their wings, rendering them flightless, before their bodies swelled to human size. The only way to gain their fix was to enslave themselves to Gurezil Flintsunder, owner of the Crystal Tavern, the unofficial mayor of Vape Town, and the largest whore-master this side of the Despicables. Lowlifes flocked from every dark corner of Creedland to sample the unique fairy delights.

Blade dismounted and left Stormbolt’s reins dangling, ready for a speedy exit. Anyone foolhardy enough to try to steal the stallion would learn how hard the war horse could bite.

Blade checked his weapon inventory. If blood flowed today, he didn’t intend any of it to be his.

Before the saloon doors swung shut behind him Blade tugged a bandanna over his mouth and nose. Steam laced with cotton candy sweetness curled through the dimness. Chunks of crystals simmered in heated ceramic bowls, producing bubbles and sickly fumes. Each table featured glass paraphernalia plugged with multiple hoses. Tendrils of pink smoke escaped from the pipe tips.

Pain pulsed in Blade’s forehead and his eyes watered. He sipped shallow breaths as he scanned the front parlour, counting four patrons slumped in the booths. Their hands grasped the tubes as if they were lifelines. Fools; it was death they courted.

A month ago, he’d rescued Maie Quickthistle from Gurezil’s clutches, sneaking her away while the tavern slumbered. When she’d surfaced from the drug’s grip she’d attacked him like a demented harpy, begging for her next fix. He responded by locking her inside a rented room, but she’d broken out the window and hightailed it back to the Crystal Tavern. After that failure, he decided to change his tactics.

A bartender slumped across the bar and ignored Blade as he slid into an empty booth and shuffled into the shadows. From here he had an unobstructed view of Gurezil’s office door and a ringside seat to the drama he knew was about to unfold. The next bog flower shipment was due within the hour, and he wanted to witness Gurezil Flintsunder’s reaction when he learned his entire crop had been destroyed. The poison had cost Blade his life’s savings but the wizard assured him that this would taint the bog for generations. With one application he’d wiped out the only source of Crystal Pink.

Half an hour later, boots thundered along the passageway and a man hammered his fists on the office door. “Boss, there’s a problem with the latest shipment.”

Gurezil flung the door open and stomped into the hallway. “If those imbeciles have stolen as much as one flower I’ll strip the flesh from their hides and feed it to the fairies.”

“There are no flowers.” The man held out a limp vine. “Something’s wrong with the whole patch.”

Gurezil snatched the vegetation out of the man’s hand, lifted it above his nose, and sniffed it. The blood vessels on his cheeks blazed beetroot. “Stinks of spoiled magic. There’s no time to waste, saddle up the horses and the wagons, we need to salvage what’s left.”

Blade stayed in the shadows until they disappeared outside. Whistling, he ascended the stairs two at a time before gently opening every door along the top corridor. A rush of stale air tainted with the drug’s signature sweetness filtered into the passage. Fairies dozed on bunks, oblivious to his presence as their minds languished in a hypnotic blur. He didn’t desire to be anywhere near Vape Town when their mass withdrawal kicked in. Dealing with one psychotic fairy was enough to test a man’s mettle.

He counted his blessing when he found Maie Quickthistle out cold, making it easier to transfer her onto Stormbolt’s saddle. As a precaution, he bound her hands together and checked her pockets for hidden daggers. Earlier, he’d prepared a campsite in the surrounding woods as he understood the next two days were going to be tough on the both of them.

If he’d known how sharp fairy teeth were he might have reconsidered this rescue plan. Bloody bite marks and grazes marred his forearm and face, and he was sure he was missing a piece of his ear. His ears throbbed from Maie’s constant shrieking, and he hoped she’d have no memory of all the things she’d offered him in exchange for a fix.

After a sleepless 48 hours, his eyes were redder than an addict’s and his thoughts foggy. Maie’s limbs contorted into a fetal knot and whimpers escaped her throat. She was quieter than earlier, but he kept his distance as she’d lured him into striking range before. He yawned and struggled to keep awake. Perhaps he’d snatch a moment’s rest.

Something fluttered against his cheek and Blade wrenched his eyes open. Tiny fairy wings whirred close to his face. He held still as Maie planted a kiss on the tip of his nose. “You saved me.”

Lightness flooded Blade’s soul. “Of course, that’s what friends do.”

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, please visit their Author Profile on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.

We ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA  catalog.  Thanks again for your support and we hope that you will follow along each day of this amazing tour of talent by visiting the tour home page!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about today’s profiled author:

Wendy Scott’s RWISA Author Profile

#RWISA “RISE-UP” TOUR DAY 7, Wendy Scott @WendyJayneScott #RRBC #RRBC_COMMUNITY #RWISARISEUP

It’s Wendy Scott’s turn to share her amazing writing with us, and I relinquish my blog site to her with great pleasure!

FOLLOW THE LEADER by Wendy Scott

Darkness swallowed dormitory B49. The lights had been extinguished an hour before at 8 pm. Stevie listened for the rhythmic breathing from the cots, aligned with military precision, one metre apart. Twenty beds, divided into two rows, sat on opposite sides of a red painted aisle. Identical grey bedding topped each hard mattress. The sheets were starched so stiff they were difficult to tuck under the corners, and the pillow was as unyielding as set concrete, but its worst feature was the coarseness of the blanket’s weave that threatened splinters.

Controlling his breathing into an even flow, he opened his thoughts to the ones forbidden by the masters. Silently, he recited his litany of self, as he had every night for the past five years.

“I am more than the number B49-17.

My name is Stevie Robinson, my birthday is the 11th March, and I’m 12 years old.

My father’s name is Mark.

My mother’s name is Katie.

My sister’s name is Jenny.

My family existed.

I vow to always remember our life together before the invasion.”

Tears gathered, but he was careful not to snuffle aloud. The cameras and microphones embedded in the walls monitored any transgressions every minute of every day.

Further, up the row, bed springs creaked as B49-3 tossed in his sleep, deep in the throes of another recurring nightmare. The silence shattered. His roommate screeched into the blackness, “Mama!”

Heart palpitating, Stevie squeezed his eyes closed, stilled his body, and faked sleep. Moments later, boots thundered into the dormitory, followed by scuffling sounds as the offending boy was dragged out his bed and marched away. The doors crashed shut, muffling the boy’s protests. Stevie had witnessed numerous night raids, so he knew to remain frozen.

A torch button snapped on, then measured boot steps resonated on the wooden floor boards. Three paces. A pause. Stevie imagined the torchlight scanning over the statue-like faces. A few paces at a time the master inspected the dormitory until he halted by Stevie’s cot. The smell of leather polish ripened the air. Stevie focused on breathing. In and out. In and out. No twitches. Feigning sleep. Early into his captivity he’d learned the harsh consequences of non-conformity.

Finally, the boots trod away. Before he exited the master intoned, “The Leader watches over you all.”

***

Clad in identical uniforms, the boys from B49 trooped into the instruction room, their orderly line pausing as each boy bowed before saluting the oversized portrait of the Leader. A shadow of crew cut hair, a creased forehead, lips thinned into a disapproving line, and demon eyes bored out of the frame as if tracking each boy’s movements. The identical image dominated the boys’ access zones: the dormitory, the canteen, the corridors, and the ablution’s block. The Leader’s face had become more familiar than Stevie’s own. It had been five years since he’d seen his reflection in a mirror.

Without a murmur the boys filed to their designated desk and stood beside their seat. Stevie glanced at the empty space allotted to B49-3. A sickly sensation puckered in his stomach but it wasn’t due to the beige mash the servers had dished up for breakfast. Years ago, his taste buds had withered away as he learned to chew the gluey texture for its sustenance value. Refusal to eat resulted in ejection, and reassignment to the intensive reprogramming wing. For boys who cried out in the night, the punishment was the same. None ever returned, and within days a different boy would be slotted into their place, and assigned their numerical identification. The Leader’s message clearly delivered. They were expendable cogs in the Leader’s war machine, merely insignificant numbers. Individuals didn’t exist.

Head straight, eyes forward, Stevie snapped to attention as the master strode into the room. “Be seated.”

Chairs scraped across the floor boards in synchronised motion. The master’s laser gaze scanned above the boys’ heads. “It seems a reminder is necessary. Our lesson will focus on our basic principles until the Leader is satisfied that B49 understands their function.”

Lies. Propaganda. Brain-washing. A turmoil of thoughts swirled through Stevie’s brain, but he kept his expression bland and his body language submissive.

Do. Not. Attract. Attention.

The master picked up a cane and whacked it against a board, directing the group’s focus to the three sentences printed in regulation white chalk.

“Recite together.” He traced the written words with the tip of his cane.

Obedience—Leader knows best.

Conformity—Leader made everyone equal.

Conception—Leader created each of us for his divine purpose.

The taps acted as a metronome commanding repetition until their voices sounded like they’d gargled gravel.

“Halt.” The master consulted the clock on the back wall. “Proceed outside for drill instruction. Convene back here in one hour. The Leader watches over you all.”

***

Under the direction of another master, the boys marched around the quadrangle in orderly lines under an overcast sky. Beneath his cap, Stevie swept his gaze around his surroundings. Windowless concrete high-risers towered around the compound, each one housing identical dormitories. Electrified barbed wire fences and fortified watchtowers incarcerated the thousands of boys within the indoctrination camp. Overhead, a drone buzzed, surveying the sea of uniforms for any sign of non-conformity.

A mine field separated a squat building from the rest of the compound. It accommodated the reprogramming centre. The only entrance was via a rusty metal door. Stevie’s nostrils twitched, the air tainted by the black smoke belching out of the stack of soot-stained chimneys on its roof. The air stunk like burnt barbecued ribs. The boys’ route included parading past the centre’s outside gallows platform. Relief flooded Stevie when he spied the empty nooses. A brief respite as today, they wouldn’t be forced to stop and stand to attention, witnessing the distorted faces of those who broke the Leader’s rules.

For years, he’d shared a room with B49-3. They’d eaten, washed, and marched to the same regimented routine day-in and day-out. He shuddered to think of what the other boy was suffering inside the bowels of the centre. Trained sadists, the masters displayed no capacity for compassion.

Behind him, a voice whispered, “His name is Tom.”

Heart thumping, Stevie’s foot fumbled the next step. He didn’t dare turn his head and acknowledge B49-18’s forbidden comment.

From the front of the line the master roared. “Keep in time.” The cane whacked on the concrete. “Left, right, left.”

The path turned sharply by the outer fence. A flash of purple and yellow caught Stevie’s attention. A lone pansy grew between the cracks in the pavement. He risked peeking at the master before stooping down and plucking up the flower. Careful not to crush its petals he tucked his stolen prize up his jacket sleeve. A tidal wave of adrenaline coursed through his veins; he hardly believed he had dared to jeopardize his life for a pansy.

No outcry ensued and he concentrated on keeping the rhythm. Sometimes the authorities planted informants among the dormitories. Boys who traded secrets for extra rations. He could not afford to slacken his guard.

***

The clock hand ticked over to 8 pm, and the dormitory plunged into darkness. Stevie waited ages before rolling onto his stomach. He extracted the flower from his pillow case and brushed the petals across his nose. The floral bouquet reminded him of the tubs of pansies his mom had grown on their porch. After gardening, the pansy fragrance lingered on her skin.

Memories cascaded like a broken dam. Blowing candles out on a chocolate frosted banana cake. Giggling with his younger sister as their dad spun them around in circles on the back lawn. Wet kisses from his puppy, Sparky. Rainbow lights flashing on the Christmas tree. His mom reading him a bedtime story before pressing a goodnight kiss on his forehead. “Sweat dreams, son.”

He smothered a sigh with the pillow. Silently, he recited the words that kept him sane.

“I am more than the number B49-17.

My name is Stevie Robinson, my birthday is the 11th March, and I’m 12 years old.

My father’s name is Mark.

My mother’s name is Katie.

My sister’s name is Jenny.

My family existed.

I vow to always remember our life together before the invasion.”

Stevie swallowed the flower, destroying the incriminating evidence. He added to his mantra. “The Leader watches us, but I’m watching back. In my heart, I will never follow the Leader.”

Please take a moment to visit Wendy’s RWISA Author Page!

Thank you for supporting today’s RWISA author along the RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour!  To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the main RWISA”RISE-UP” Blog Tour page on the RWISA site.  For a chance to win a bundle of 15 e-books along with a $5 Amazon gift card, please leave a comment on the main RWISA”RISE-UP” Blog Tour page!  Once you’re there, it would be nice to also leave the author a personal note on their dedicated tour page, as well.  Thank you, and good luck!  

Jan Sikes Top-Ten Book List for 2019

AND THE WINNER IS!! I am ashamed to say that I almost forgot to draw a winner for this blog post, BUT, I saved myself at the last minute. 🙂 The winner of the $10 Amazon Gift card is Stephanie Ortiz Jenkins!! Stephanie watch your inbox! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

It is always a challenge to pick just ten books from the many books I read each year. Because it was so difficult this year, I have listed a Bonus book and also some fabulous short stories. I hope you enjoy my Top Ten, and if you see a book that catches your interest, click on the purchase link and add it to your TBR list!

PURCHASE LINK: WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING

PURCHASE LINK: THE MAGIC STRINGS OF FRANKIE PRESTO

PURCHASE LINK: WHATEVER IT TAKES

PURCHASE LINK: THE OUTLAW’S MAIL ORDER BRIDE

PURCHASE LINK: VOYAGE OF THE LANTERNFISH

PURCHASE LINK: END OF DAY

PURCHASE LINK: VANISHED

PURCHASE LINK: MEMOIR OF A MAD WOMAN

PURCHASE LINK: THE LOVE THAT DARE NOT SPEAK ITS NAME

PURCHASE LINK: WHEN CAN I STOP RUNNING?

PURCHASE L INK: REFLECTIONS

PURCHASE LINKS: RAVE WRITER’S INT’S SOCIETY OF AUTHORS (RWISA) ANTHOLOGY VOL I

CASTE METAL

VISITORS: A SHORT STORY MYSTERY

RED EYES IN THE DARKNESS – A SHORT STORY

MEGAMAX

SLIMMER

And, last but not least, I will be giving away a $10 Amazon Gift card to some lucky person! Just leave a comment and share this post to be entered! MERRY CHRISTMAS!! HO! HO! HO!

Welcome to the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! Day 8#RRBC #RWISA

Welcome to Day 8 of this amazing WATCH RWISA WRITE Showcase blog tour!

Today, it is my great pleasure to shine the spotlight on Author, Wendy J. Scott!

SONY DSC

The Awakening by Wendy Scott

(An excerpt from ‘Prophecy and Pirates’ my unpublished first fantasy novel).

Evarna gazed at the tinker’s sleeping form and resisted the urge to trail her fingertips through Rick’s locks. For both their sakes she had to leave now before he awoke. They lived in contrasting worlds; he roamed the forest with a free spirit, but as an aristocrat’s bastard, she battled the protocols and restrictions of the Baron’s Court. As satisfying as this romantic interlude had been, she must be on her way.

The chill of the morning air vanquished the warmth she’d experienced in his arms as she eased out of the feather quilt. She untangled her discarded clothes from his and slipped into them. Last night they’d been shed as the lovers had fumbled toward the bed in a lip-locked embrace.

The wagon’s interior was a treasure trove, and she wished she had more time to explore. The shelves jammed with instruments, jostled scrolls, and jars filled with curious items drew her gaze. On the window ledge two doll-sized chairs nestled a miniature table. Evarna’s hand hovered close to a silver harp, itching to touch the strings, but she lowered her hand before her fingers betrayed her. What nonsense. A tone-deaf goose possessed more musical ability than she did. Rick wouldn’t appreciate being woken by the sound of mutilated chords.

His abode hinted at depths of character she wanted to delve deeper into. For a moment she lingered at the door and glanced back at his tousled hair. The urge to dive back under the covers and cuddle up against his muscular length was almost more than she could control. Instead, she averted her gaze and whispered, “Farewell, Tinkerman.”

Sighing, she stepped outside. Tail thumping erupted from between the wheels, pinpointing where Stitch had spent the night. Usually, her dog made a fuss about always bedding down next to her. She felt a blush bloom on her cheeks. Last evening she hadn’t given her furry friend a moment’s thought after the tinker’s first kiss.

A moist tongue licked her hand, and the dog leaned against her legs as she stroked his fur. She kept her voice low. “Hey, boy. Time to go home.”

Stitch stalked over to the fire pit and stared into the suspended pot. Evarna chuckled and fed him the remains of yesterday’s stew.

“Not feeding you. Now, that’s something you would not easily forgive.”

***

The sound of horse hooves drifted off into the distance. Rick’s eyelids snapped upwards, and he bounded out of bed. He hummed as he gathered up his clothing and tossed them on the mussed up bed, ignoring the tapping sounds emanating from the small window above the door.

Naked, he jerked the door open, streaked across the camp, and plunged into the lake. The surface churned into a maelstrom of white water as he re-emerged onto the shore. Huffing, he sprinted back into the wagon, his breaths trailing him like mist.

Two small, winged creatures swooped and followed him through the ajar door. Their tiny wings shimmered like rainbows as they swirled around his head before landing on his pillow. Twin pixie expressions peered up at him, their violet eyes gleaming with mischief. Golden hair framed identical faces and the easiest way to tell them apart was by the colour of their gowns. Yasmin favoured pastel pink, while her sister, Jasmin, wore lavender to compliment her eyes.

“Hrumph! You shut us out.” Yasmin pinched her nose. “We had to snuggle up to a smelly dog to keep warm. Now you’ve got yourself a lady friend, you think you can ignore us as if we’re not good enough company anymore.”

“I don’t understand what you see in her.” Jasmin crossed her arms and glared up at him. “She doesn’t even have wings!”

Elbowing her sibling out of the way, Yasmin flicked her hair so wildly it swept over and covered her face. From beneath the cloud of hair came a muffled voice, “I thought you’d prefer blondes.”

Rick grinned down at the pair of outraged pixies, drawn up to their full height of six inches. “And pray be, how was a poor fellow supposed to choose between two such lovely ladies as yourselves?”

The sisters clasped hands. “He’s got a point there; we could never let a mere gyp come between us.”

“The tinker is lucky that we give him the time of day. Fancy him thinking he’d be acceptable to either of us.”

Rick shook his head, showering the pixies with droplets of the water. They both squealed and scurried backward.

“Stop mucking around and put some clothes on for goddess-sake.” Jasmin wrung the water from her gown.

After a token pass with a towel Rick grabbed his pants and began dressing. “Evarna is the one I’ve been searching for. The prophecy foretold her arrival.”

“How can you be sure she’s the one?” Jasmin waggled her finger.

He placed a hand on his chest. “Her magic awakened my heart. So we must gather all the fairy folk we can and march for Carnavalla.”

Yasmin plucked a dog hair from her dress and brandished it like a sword. “And how do you expect we’ll find the lost city of the Gypnees? Legend says it disappeared hundreds of years ago.”

“Carnavalla was hidden from mortals on purpose, it’s only sleeping and I’ve several gyp tricks I haven’t shared with you.”

Rick frowned. “Unfortunately, Evarna’s in for a few magical surprises. I’m going to have some explaining to do when we next meet. I hope my future wife is the forgiving type.”

Yasmin arched her brow. “But does she love you?”

“Of course she does, she just doesn’t know it yet.”

THE END

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.

We ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs.  Thanks, again, for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:

WENDY J. SCOTT’S Author Page

#RRBC 2018 WRITERS’ CONFERENCE & BOOK EXPO SPONSORS BLOG HOP – Wendy Scott

Allow me to introduce you to this fabulous #RRBC and #RWISA author, Wendy Scott, who also writes under the pen names of W.J. Scott and Wendy Jayne.

She is an incredibly supportive member of the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB and RAVE WRITER’S INT’L SOCIETY OF AUTHORS. She resides in New Zealand with her partner, her son and a menagerie of animals including a goat.

Lodestone – (Witch Hunt) was the first book I read by this author and I enjoyed it SO much that I became an instant fan.

So, let me tell you about Lodestone!

BOOK BLURB:

There’s a cauldron of trouble brewing in Valloaria…

Two tales entwine:
Sabrina and Lauren’s tales entwine – linked by blood and magic. Sabrina, a newly fledged healer, is thrust out of her sheltered life at Mistress Florisah’s healing school after the destruction of the witch-ancestor portraits. An anti-witchcraft militia is poised on Karthalon’s borders threatening full scale genocide, unless Sabrina, the last of Lauren’s bloodline, can destroy the Lodestone, and restore magic to Valloaria, but the Lodestone is buried deep within the heart of the Order’s headquarters. Sabrina struggles to accept this suicide mission, and is distracted by her inappropriate affection for Micah, a prospect monk. Lauren’s ghost haunts Sabrina’s dreams as her diary reveals the tragic events behind Lauren’s actions. With invasion imminent, Sabrina embarks on her quest armed only with a sliver of the Lodestone, and Lauren’s diary but how can a lone girl prevail against an army?

Download Lodestone today and strap on your broomstick –you’re in for a hell of a ride:

And now you know that, here’s my 5 STAR review!

I won this book in a book trailer blog party through the Rave Reviews Book Club and although I love paranormal books, I didn’t know what to expect. However, by the third chapter, I was hooked and couldn’t put it down. What a story!!
Sabrina has been at the ‘Healing School’ since she was a very small child. Florsiah, the matron of the school, is the only mother figure she knows. Sabrina finds herself thrown into chaos at her graduation from the ‘Healing School’ when she learns she is the direct descendent of Lauren, a woman who is considered evil. Florsiah gives her a diary, written in Lauren’s own hand, and a sliver of stone, and is told she must leave the school.
Lauren’s Order has been established to stamp out any and all witchcraft. They are known as witch hunters and scour the countryside killing innocent people, destroying villages and taking slaves.
As the story unfolds, Sabrina travels in the company of a monk and three young monk apprentices to Sha’ La’ Shang, an idyllic city high in the mountains inhabited by monks. However, in the course of the journey, she falls in love with Micah, a young monk apprentice who has a unique talent of communicating with animals.
So much happens during the journey to Sha’ La’ Shang and I don’t want to give it all away, but there are grave troubles, fired up passions and danger lurking around every corner from the soldiers of Lauren’s Order to mythical birds who struggle to survive.
Once they reach Sha’ La’ Shang, she is given the task of finding and either destroying or changing the Lodestone to save Vallaoria. Being the direct descendant of Lauren, she is the only one who can undo the evil that has evoked terror across the land for many years. With the help of Lauren’s diary, the sliver of stone that burns brighter as she gets closer to the Lodestone, and many people from The Hidden, who strive to overthrow the evil that prevails, she takes on the task. At the cost of many lost lives, she finally makes it to her destination. What happens next is breathtaking and left me wanting to pick up the next book of this series to see!
If you like paranormal, fantasy and witchcraft, you’ll truly enjoy this book!

I hope you enjoyed this post about Wendy Scott and this fabulous book! If you’d like to join in on the rest of this Blog Hop, follow this link: #RRBC 2018 WRITERS’ CONFERENCE & BOOK EXPO SPONSOR BLOG HOP

Thank you!!

Jan’s Top Ten Books for 2018

I love to look back over the many books I’ve read throughout the year and put together a list of what, in my humble opinion, is the best of the best.

This year I read 37 books and let me tell you, it was no easy task coming up with only ten to put on this list.

I narrowed it down to the books that lingered with me long after the last word. I hope you enjoy my list and will find at least one new read to pick up!

As you can see, most of these authors are members of the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB. It’s a great place to look for great books to read!

I have linked each box to the book on Amazon for your shopping convenience!