Book Review: The Warded Man

I decided to pick up this book because one of the prompts for the NEWTS Magical Readathon was to “read a friend’s favorite book”. In this case, I chose Markus and his favorite book is The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett.

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Synopsis: As darkness falls after sunset, the corelings rise—demons who possess supernatural powers and burn with a consuming hatred of humanity. For hundreds of years the demons have terrorized the night, slowly culling the human herd that shelters behind magical wards—symbols of power whose origins are lost in myth and whose protection is terrifyingly fragile. It was not always this way. Once, men and women battled the corelings on equal terms, but those days are gone. Night by night the demons grow stronger, while human numbers dwindle under their relentless assault. Now, with hope for the future fading, three young survivors of vicious demon attacks will dare the impossible, stepping beyond the crumbling safety of the wards to risk everything in a desperate quest to regain the secrets of the past. Together, they will stand against the night.

This was one of the first epic fantasy books that I have read and I really enjoyed it! The world building was great and the way it instilled fear in the reader for the characters and there lives that were at stake was phenomenal.

It was such a cool concept to have demons rise every night when the sun goes down. The people are only able to protect themselves with magic wards. The book definitely gets very dark in some areas and I thought that this added to its great storytelling ability because not everything is always rainbows and butterflies. People will live or die based upon the intense decisions they make each day and that is the feeling you get for the 3 main characters of the book.

I also quite enjoyed this it was split into 3 story arcs and unveiled little bits of each character as it kept switching perspectives each chapter. It gives you more insight into the different areas of this massive world the author has created while staying relevant to the plot.

The demons described in the book sound very cool (and very terrifying). I would not want to be up close and personal with any of them because they would probably be the last thing I see.

I would strongly recommend this book to anyone that wants to start a great epic fantasy series (there are 5 in total). I know I will be picking up the next one soon!

Book Rating: 4.5/5

You can buy this book on Amazon and find it on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: I borrowed this book in physical format to read and give an honest review.


I finally finished unpacking and getting settled and decided to do a massive unhaul of the books I have already read and probably won’t pick up again. Plus there is a GIVEAWAY at the end of the video so check it out!

Also for all you fantasy lovers out there, my friend Moud Adel (author of the War Remnants which I reviewed in July) has created this new game called Majority Rules where you get to decide what happens in his fantasy story. You will read the story and then vote in a poll for what you want the next scene to be. YOU take control and YOU make the decisions. Every Thursday, there will be new scene options so it is a continuous game! Check it out by clicking on the image below!

Join the game:

https://mastoperia.com/majority-rules/

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Book Highlight: Station Fosaan

I’m thrilled to share with you all today, Station Fosaan (Book #1 of the Torch World series) by Dee Garretson. This exciting book is best described as Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan meets Jules Verne’s The Lost World. I have an excerpt for you to read and a chance to win all sorts of book swag AND a paperback copy of the book!

station fosaanStation Fosaan

Publication Date: February 14th, 2017

Genre: YA Sci-Fi/ Space Opera/ Post-Apocalypse

Scientists and their families stationed on the remote planet of Fosaan were promised a tropical vacation-like experience. But Fosaan, devastated from an apocalyptic event nearly 300 years ago, is full of lethal predators and dangerous terrain. Earthers are forbidden to go beyond the safety zone of their settlement and must not engage the remaining reclusive Fosaanians, native to the planet. 16-year-old Quinn Neen is about to do both of those things.

During an unsanctioned exploration of the planet, Quinn discovers a Fosaanian girl named Mira stealing food from his family’s living unit. But before he can convince her to show him around, scientists are taken captive, leaving Quinn and the other young Earthers at the mercy of space raiders.

Quinn must go from renegade to leader and convince Mira to become an ally in a fight against an enemy whose very existence threatens their lives and the future of Earthers stuck on Fosaan and at home.

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Excerpt

I turned to go back when a flash of white caught my eye. Startled, I dropped the stick and then tripped over it. A girl, a Fosaanian girl, stood clutching a wafer loaf to her chest, a cloud of long shimmery white hair quivering. In fact, all of her was shivering. She was soaked, water dripping off her. I could see her wet footprints all over the kitchen. Her silvery eyes held mine and I couldn’t think of a thing to say. I wasn’t usually so speechless around girls with incredible eyes, but I’d never encountered one I didn’t know in my own quarters.

“What are you doing?” I finally managed to croak, even though it was obvious she was taking the loaf, or more accurately, stealing the loaf. Fosaanians never came out onto the Earthers’ floating compound.

“I’m sorry,” the girl said, putting the loaf back on counter and edging to the door.

“No, wait!” I didn’t mean to shout, but my words came out too loud. The girl froze like I had issued an order, though I could tell she was ready to bolt. “It’s okay,” I said. “I mean, if you’re hungry, take it.” Picking the loaf up, I held it out to her, hoping it would convince her to stay for a little while. She would be the first Fosaanian I had talked to, if I could get her to talk. The small population of Fosaanians, the descendants of the few who had survived the planetary apocalypse, kept away from all of us Earthers, except for the ones who worked at the supply depot or who delivered the iridium sulfide. None of those could be called the least bit friendly.

She didn’t take the loaf, but she didn’t run either. Instead, she stood there looking around the room, clearly curious.

“I have an even better idea,” I said, trying to come up with one. “How about I fix us both something to eat? I’m hungry too.”

Amazon| Barnes & Nobel| IndieBound

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Station Fosaan giveaway

For your chance to win a paperback copy of Station Fosaan and all the cool swag shown above, click the link below!

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About the Author

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I write, and read, and then write some more. I live in Ohio with my husband, two children and two cats in a cluttered house surrounded by semi-wild gardens.

I grew up in Mt. Pleasant, a small town in Iowa, spending my time outside playing in the woods, or helping my father build his offbeat inventions, and writing stories. When it came time to decide on a college, I thought I would try out city life for a change, and so I moved to Massachusetts to attend Tufts University, where I obtained a degree in International Relations.

Degree in hand, I quickly realized I was not meant to work inside in an office, and because I had become obsessed with plants, I decided to get a degree in Landscape Horticulture, as a way to get back outside. I worked as a landscape designer and taught landscape horticulture classes for several years before returning to writing.

Dee Garretson

Twitter: @deegarretson

Facebook: @DeeGarretsonBooks

Instagram: @deegarretsonauthor


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Blog Tour Schedule

August 12th

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com

The Magic of Wor(l)ds (Spotlight) http://themagicofworlds.wordpress.com

The Caffeinated Reader (Review) https://www.thecaffeinatedreader.com

August 13th

Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com/

The Bookworm Drinketh (Review) http://thebookwormdrinketh.wordpress.com/

Breakeven Books (Spotlight) https://breakevenbooks.com

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B is for Book Review (Spotlight) https://bforbookreview.wordpress.com/

Reading Nook (Spotlight) http://readingnook84.wordpress.com

Tsarina Press (Review) https://www.tsarinapress.com

August 15th

The Faerie Review (Review) http://www.thefaeriereview.com

J Bronder Book Reviews (Review) https://jbronderbookreviews.com/

August 16th

On the Shelf Reviews (Review) https://ontheshelfreviews.wordpress.com

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August has arrived and with it the Magical Readathon!! It is time to take my N.E.W.T.S! Watch this video to see which books I will be reading for my exams!

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Book Review: Blood Red Dust

We are just pumping out book reviews this week! It must be all the time we have to read with the nice hot weather out there! Our external reviewer Sara completed another book. This one was called Blood Red Dust by Stuart Aken.

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Synopsis: As people struggle to survive in an increasingly hostile climate on Earth, plans are afoot for the preservation of the human race. Mars, already occupied by commercial mining interests, is the only viable option. The Chosen are sent to colonize the new world and germinate the seeds of their new Utopia. But dark forces not only want to halt the plan, but they also want to see the end of all human life, everywhere. If mankind survives the divinely inspired crusade of death from dogma-driven martyrs, will The Chosen’s new Utopia be the real route to salvation?

This novel is about the first settled colony on Mars, which is designed to repopulate the human race on Mars. They soon find out that their colony may be under attack by extremists from Earth, determined to exterminate all life. Earth has become uninhabitable, and the only hope for humanity lies with a few colonies among the stars. The story is told in a report-style format, from a variety of points of view.

One of the unfortunate things about this formatting is that we don’t get very much descriptive text. We don’t get to know very much about our characters or our setting, which is really too bad, as they are specially trained, enhanced humans living in a successful Mars colony. I wish that the book had taken more time to discuss some of these more interesting science fiction aspects than it did.

Unfortunately, I didn’t much enjoy this book. Although the idea is really interesting, I would have loved it if it was more of a science fiction adventure novel than whatever genre this actually turned into. There was also a lot of awkward attempts to include “what had gone wrong with the earth” from the characters’ point of view included in their reports, which felt forced and way too obvious. Apparently, this author really doesn’t like capitalism, as that’s all he could talk about for half the book.

I wish that this idea had been fleshed out with more research and details, to make it feel more like actual reports from a future Mars colony. I feel like I just wanted MORE of everything from this book, and I didn’t get it. Too bad!

Book Rating: 3/5

You can find this book on Amazon and Goodreads.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us in ebook format by the author to read and give an honest review.


Watch my reactions to people’s assumptions about me!

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Book Spotlight: Bloodlust

Welcome to the Bloodlust tour, book #2 in Pixie Britton’s YA Science Fiction series, Kill or Cure. I have loads of fun stuff for you today! An exclusive excerpt, book trailer, a FREE book, and a chance to win a signed copy of Bloodlust! Wait, rewind…did I say FREE BOOK? I sure did! Read on!

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Bloodlust (Kill or Cure #2)

Publication Date: February 21st, 2019

Genre: YA Sci-Fi/ Dystopian/ Zombies

Publisher: Matador

He could save the world, or destroy it…

The virus that has swept the Earth hasn’t consumed Tommy, yet, but as his hunger for human flesh takes hold, his humanity vanishes behind the bloodlust of an infected. It’s up to seventeen year old Alyx and her friends to find answers. But saving her little brother isn’t their only problem. Lurking in the shadows of Alhena is the formidable General Sinter, hell-bent on capturing the boy with unrivalled superhuman strength for his own personal gains. With limited options, Alyx has no choice but to risk everything to protect him. A choice that she could live to regret

Kill or Cure: Bloodlust is the second book in the Kill or Cure series. Brimming with suspense, romance and heart pumping action!

Goodread

Excerpt

Winter

“A look of intrigue flickers across Tyron’s face as he tries to take measure of this wild girl standing in the centre of his cage. To the untrained eye, Winter looks like an odd wild girl from the forest, and you wouldn’t necessarily know how deadly she is from first impressions. She’s slight in stature yet athletic and nimble, and it’s not until you’ve spent significant time with her that you can fully appreciate how skilful she is. Every single movement is deliberate and focussed, like she could switch into warrior-mode at the flick of a switch.

I can’t help but grin internally when I realise that this monster-man has just met his match and he has absolutely no idea.”

Excerpt From: Pixie Britton. “Kill or Cure: Bloodlust.” iBooks.

Amazon UK

Amazon US

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Kill or Cure is a YA romance-infused sci-fi novel.
It focuses on human relationships in an undead, apocalyptic world.
A girl who will stop at nothing to protect her brother.

In a dystopian world ravaged by infection, society as we know it has fallen to the mouths of the dead. The remaining fragments of civilisation survive in walled compounds, scattered in the depths of the countryside. When her little brother becomes sick with a suspected flu virus, Alyx Silverthorne will do anything to keep Tommy alive.

With limited medical supplies and only herbal alternatives, his prospects of surviving this mystery illness are bleak. But saving Tommy is just the beginning. The infected are not the only monsters that exist in this new world, and human nature can be more destructive than the dead.

In a race against time, Alyx and her best friend Will stop at nothing to protect him, even from the same people that swore to protect them all.

Kill or Cure is a dynamic, multifaceted story of teenage love and gut wrenching loss in a dystopian world.

Goodreads

Free Book Alert!!!

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Download your FREE copy of the Last Sacrifice: A Kill or Cure story today…

A world infected. A man’s quest to save his family. One impossible choice.

The mission was supposed to be simple; to find survivors and kill the infected. But when Lieutenant, Joe Hudson, discovers that the home of his family has been destroyed by the infected, he’s left with an impossible decision. A choice that could change his life forever.

With limited ammunition and morale hitting an all-time low, the survival of the squad rests on a knife edge. Joe has no choice but to turn to his girlfriend, Suzie, a fellow soldier and secret lover for support. Together they have to cross a line to save his family, but even in this new world where the dead roam the earth, there are some lines that should never be crossed. Joe’s loyalty to his squad will be tested and the ultimate sacrifice will be made.

Set in the same world as the thrilling YA series Kill or Cure, follow Victory Squad in this fast paced prequel. Filled with love, heartbreaking loss and zombie guts.

Download Here!

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As if a free book from the series isn’t enough, the author is also giving away a SIGNED copy of the book! All you have to do is enter below!

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About the Author

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Pixie Britton is a British indie author and Wattpad extraordinaire. Her debut YA novel Kill or Cure, gained international success online with over 100k reads within five months of initial publication.

Shes lives in Essex, England with her husband and adorable furbaby. One day she dreams of leaving her job as a Treasury Analyst in the city, to become a full time author and creative entrepreneur.

Check out her website https://pixiebritton.com/ and sign up to her mailing list to receive the latest book release information.

Pixie Britton | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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Blog Tour Schedule

July 8th

Reads & Reels (Review) http://readsandreels@gmail.com

The Magic of Wor(l)ds (Interview) http://themagicofworlds.wordpress.com

Banshee Irish Horror Blog (Excerpt) www.bansheeirishhorrorblog.com

I Smell Sheep (Excerpt) http://www.ismellsheep.com/

Entertainingly Nerdy (Spotlight) https://www.entertaininglynerdy.com

July 9th

The Hufflepuff Nerdette (Interview) https://thehufflepuffnerdette.wordpress.com

Bri’s Book Nook (Excerpt) http://brisbooknook.wordpress.com

Dash Fan Book Reviews (Excerpt) https://dashfan81.blogspot.com/

Book Addict Rambles (Spotlight) http://bookaddictrambles.wordpress.com

July 10th

Breakeven Books (Excerpt) https://breakevenbooks.com

Cats Luv Coffee (Interview) https://catsluvcoffeez.blogspot.com

The Faerie Review (Review) http://www.thefaeriereview.com

Reviews and Promos by Nyx (Excerpt) https://nyxblogs.wordpress.com/

Scarlett Readz & Runz (Spotlight) https://scarlettreadzandrunz.com/

July 11th

B is for Book Review (Interview) https://bforbookreview.wordpress.com

J Bronder Book Reviews (Review) https://jbronderbookreviews.com/

Jessica Belmont (Review) http://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com

The Bibliophagist (Spotlight) http://thebibliophagist.blog

July 12th

I’m All About Books (Excerpt) https://imallaboutbooks.com

Eclectic Reviews (Review) https://eclecticreview.com/

Didi Oviatt (Spotlight) https://didioviatt.wordpress.com

The Photographer’s Way (Spotlight) http://www.thephotographersway.org

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If you get a chance, check out my July TBR video where I talk about the books I will be reading in July and the giveaway that I am hosting on my Youtube channel!

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Book Review: Windsworn – Gryphon Riders

Hey bookworms! Sara has been busy reading lots of books and she has another review ready for us! She recently read Windsworn: Gryphon Riders – Book One by Derek Alan Siddoway.

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Synopsis: Eva has never swung a sword. She’s never flown through the open sky on a gryphon or dreamed of being a hero. She’s content with a quiet life — two feet firmly on the ground, working in her foster-father’s forge. But that’s all about to change.

When Eva discovers a young thief hiding in her woodshed with a stolen gryphon egg, the shy, timid girl is forced to leave everything she’s ever known to become Windsworn — elite warriors who ride fierce gryphons into battle. As she struggles to learn the ways of the Windsworn, Eva finds herself caught in a plot to destroy the gryphon riders and plunge the kingdom into war, a plot that somehow involves her deceased parents.

In the face of growing danger, can Eva conquer her fears and unravel the secrets of her past in time to save the Windsworn?

This book is about a young blacksmith’s daughter named Eva. Through a strange series of events, she finds herself in possession of a Gryphon egg, which hatches only for her. She is then swept off into an adventure to learn about her new life, as a trained Gryphon Rider, protectors of the kingdom.

This book was a really fun read. I was engaged and staying up too late to read JUST ONE MORE CHAPTER for the whole book. I really enjoyed Eva as our main character and her struggles with what should have been a dream, but really felt like a chore. All the main characters in this book were unique and well developed.

I enjoyed that the plot never felt predictable. I never knew exactly where it was going next, or what was coming around the corner. The world that the author created feels cozy and believable. I’m eager to learn more about it in the sequel, as well as the implications of Eva’s special Gryphon.

My only complaints about the book would be the fact that the author seems to have leaned too heavily into their other favorite series for their inspiration. The beginning feels a lot like Eragon, and the final chapters felt a lot like the final chapters of Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone. I think the author has created their own world here with unique characters and needs to be more careful with pulling elements from others in the genre, as it felt very familiar.

Overall, I really enjoyed it, and I’m looking forward to the sequel. Where this world goes and how Eva develops after the ending of this book can only get more intense and engaging. Great book! Wonderful for junior readers too.

Book Rating: 4/5

You can buy this book on Amazon or find it on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us by the author in ebook format in exchange for an honest review.


I made my latest TBR video where I talk about all the books I will be reading in June and the buddy reads I will be taking part in. The new TBR jar also commences its journey with me.

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Book Highlight: Kingdom Of Jior

Hey Fantasy lovers! I have your next series right here! Check out the Kingdom of Jior series by Wendy L. Anderson. Below are a few snippets from each book to get you started and a chance to win the whole series in print!

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Publication Date: November 14th, 2016

Publisher: Infinity Publishing

Prince Lorn of Jior is what’s left of an evil empire. King Kullorn was the epitome of evil. Together they led demon hordes reaping death and destruction. Kullorn is killed, leaving Lorn alone to wallow in the desolation of defeat. Years later, Lorn is accused of following in his father’s footsteps and kidnapping Princess Lililaira. Risking capture, imprisonment and death Lorn attempts to learn who is using his name to start another war. During a rescue of the Princess, Lorn is badly wounded and they must fight to remain together as he is healed by her, body, heart and soul.

Memories of how life used to be, circled through Lorn’s mind as he contemplated the events of five years ago. His father, King Kullorn of Jior, had raised him with one purpose in mind and that was to lead the Jiorian armies out of the Violent Mountains and conquer the entire island continent of Vedt. Kullorn had been an evil tyrant who had reigned over the once vast empire of Jior that was now only jagged mountains, left to the encroaching forest and wild animals.

Goodreads

Amazon

39898786Redemption of the Fallen

Publication Date: April 17th, 2018

Publisher: Infinity Publishing

Five years have passed since Lorn liberated himself from Lan-Loe, his evil father’s Sorcerer. Legends were born from tales of the great battle between Lorn and a black-winged demon, of Lan-Loe’s death, and the defeat of demon-kind. Ever since that time, people have been flocking to Jior to make their homes there, and the Kingdom of Jior is revived. Lorn is crowned King of Jior, Lililaira is Queen and they rule peacefully side by side.
Now a new war threatens everything they have built and everyone they love. One hundred miles away from the City of Jior, the combined armies of Vedt march toward Jior intent on slaying everyone in the kingdom and taking revenge for Lorn’s past evil deeds. With the forces of the whole country coming against them, Lorn and Lililaira have little hope of defeating their enemies.
In the midst of impending war, strange dreams plague Lorn’s sleep at night. He feels that something is waiting, something he needs very badly, something is calling him!
When he answers the call, he learns that he is a descendant of a race of winged people that profess to be from the Heavens. He also learns more about his past and is given hope for the future, but that hope comes with a high price. Lorn is given a choice: he can save his family or watch them die.
Lililaira and their daughter are taken prisoner by her father, the King of Skoria, Lorn must call on all his resources to rescue them. Forced out of the protective walls of Jior, he must face his many enemies who use his wife and daughter as bait. King Lorn must deal with old enemies and new friends, but will he be able to tell the difference?

Strange dreams plagued his sleep at night. At first, he thought the dreams were caused by apprehension over the news of the army advancing on Jior. Each night the dreams seemed to grow more urgent, and he could not assign blame to that cause anymore. As soon as he closed his eyes, images of a strange place haunted him. Night after night he dreamed of the same mountaintop. On the high peak stood an ancient structure with tall marble columns, circling a huge stone floor. The columns did not support anythin solid but seemed to hold up the deep blue sky that quickly swelled with impending snowfall. The wind swirled ice crystals through the columns and seemed to call his name in the whispery tinkle of ice against stone. Lorn felt compelled to fly west. He strained to resist the compunction, telling himself it was the greatest folly to think that a place from his dreams truly existed and that he could find it.

Goodreads

Amazon

44033265Heirs of Jior

Publication Date: February 27th, 2019

Publisher: Infinity Publishing

This set of adventures starts out with Princess Lyra Song, young and beautiful, stepping into maturity. She and her family attend the funeral of a dear friend. During this sad time, she pursues her hopes and dreams endeavoring to explore a betrothal with the Heir of Krickgold. However, when she is mistaken for a witch by a Lord from a neighboring country, her dreams are dangerously interrupted. Waylaid, taken prisoner and thrown into an iron cage, the delicate Princess of Jior is charged with a crime she didn’t commit and she must do whatever it takes to escape or be wrongfully executed.

Prince Vannier of Jior, known to the Ny-Failen as Little Wing, has been devastated by what happened to his sister Lyra Song, but life must go on and he goes forward with his plan to marry his childhood love. The day of the wedding ceremony he finds his betrothed with another man and now he must face devastating reality and some difficult choices. When his younger brother Dark Star goes missing, Vannier must set aside his own problems to go into the Violent Mountains and find who has taken his little brother. Amidst the turmoil of the hunt, Vannier must face danger, loss, and possible heartbreak.

Dark Star, the youngest Prince of Jior, has been changed forever by the events of his capture and he remains troubled and unable to find peace. A mysterious compelling draws him away from the safety of his home and family. He sets off on his own to investigate and finds a black castle and a beautiful sorceress in dire need of his help. Dark Star must face a demon from the Hells to free them both.

Panic struck like a lightning bolt, and he stood up and whirled around, taking stock of the boundaries of his prison. It was nearly his undoing as pain, nausea and dizziness overtook him. Since his capture by the Troggs a few years back, Dark Star could not stand confined spaces. His wings beat against his back as if telling him to fly and escape. Searching for a door or exit, he could not find one, so he threw himself against the bars on all four sides, testing their strength. He flew up to the barred cage top and heaved. It was no use, he was imprisoned in a strong, heavy, iron prison, and that was all there was to it. He was locked in with no way out, like a bird in a cage. His brain kept screaming over and over, ‘Not again! Not again!’ and he flapped uselessly around the confines of his cage until the pain in his head forced him to stop. Tamping down hard on his terror, concentrating on settling his breathing, he stood in the middle of his cage, wrapped his wings around himself and huddled within their protective embrace. Closing his eyes, he retreated into his mind and waited.

It seemed like hours later when the sound of a door opening and closing reached through his self-imposed trance. The faint glow of a lamp barely drew Dark Star’s attention. He was standing completely still, cocooned within his white wings watching through barely slit eyes. He had withdrawn into his own mind, holding madness at bay.

Goodreads

Amazon

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For your chance to win a paperback set of the whole series, click the link below!

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About the Author

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Wendy L. Anderson is a Colorado native and mother of two boys. She has an English Degree from Regis University and writes books, short stories and poetry. Wendy is a devout reader of the classics, fantasy, sci-fi and historical fiction. She has decided it is time to write down the fantasies from her own mind. Writing about everything from fantastical worlds to the stuff of her dreams she takes her stories along interesting paths while portraying characters and worlds she sees in her mind’s eye. Her goal is to deviate from common themes, write in original directions and transport her reader to the worlds of her creation.

Wendy L. Anderson | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads

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Author Interview: C.S. Johnson

Hey bookworms, long time no chat. It has been busy over here on our end as I am planning for my vacation to Ireland and Scotland in about 3 weeks. We did have time to have C.S. Johnson stop by the blog today for an author interview though. Her recent release Slumbering is out now for purchase and I will post the links below.

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Publication Date: December 2014

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Hamilton Dinger leads a charmed life. He’s got the grades for the top of the class, the abilities of a star athlete and Tetris player, and the charisma to get away with anything. Everything seems to be going along perfectly, including his plans to ask out Gwen Kessler, as he enters into tenth grade at Apollo Central High School. Everything, that is, until a meteor crashes into the city, releasing the Seven Deadly Sinisters and their leader, Orpheus, from their celestial prison, and awakening Hamilton’s longtime dormant supernatural abilities. Suddenly Hamilton finds reluctantly allied with his self-declared mentor, Elysian, a changeling dragon, and Starry Knight, a beautiful but dangerous warrior, as they seek to protect the souls of Apollo City from the Sinisters and their evil intentions. Can Hamilton overcome his ignorance and narrow-mindedness to see what is truly real? Can he give up his self-proclaimed entitlement to happiness in order to follow the call of a duty he doesn’t want? More importantly, will he willingly sacrifice all he has to find out the truth?

Goodreads

Amazon

About the Author

Author-CS-Johnson

C. S. Johnson is the award-winning, genre-hopping author of several novels, including young adult sci-fi and fantasy adventures such as the Starlight Chronicles, the Once Upon a Princess saga, and the Divine Space Pirates trilogy. With a gift for sarcasm and an apologetic heart, she currently lives in Atlanta with her family. Find out more at http://www.csjohnson.me



Author Interview

1.     What was your top read of 2018?

I am going to break all illusions of being fun and admit I am a total nerd. I tend to read a lot of nonfiction books. For 2018, my top read was “Saving Cinderella,” by Faith Moore. It’s a nonfiction book, but I’m a bit of a sucker for Disney Princess books, and I liked her cultural appraisal of feminists and fairy tales. The book really helped me work through some of my own symbolism as I was writing The Princess and the Peacock, which is my first new book in 2019.

2.     What is your favorite book friendship?

In terms of fiction, I really think Harry Potter takes the prize. Harry, Ron, and Hermione were a great pairing, and while I know a lot of people said that it would have been better if Harry wound up with Herminie, I was actually able to guess Ron and Hermione would end up together early on. In many ways, they were a reflection of Harry’s own parents from what he knew of them, and it made sense to me when they got together. For people who say Harry and Hermione would have been good together, I actually agree with Harry’s own take on it in the book, where he says she’s always been like a sister to him. Harry, as an only child, would have had that sort of longing, and Hermione is actually a really great foil to Dudley.

In terms of nonfiction, I really like C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien as friends. I can see them smoking and drinking in Oxford, arguing in one breath and laughing in the next.

3.     Most anticipated book release of 2019?

I’ve already pre-ordered it, but I’m eager for “Another Kingdom” to come to print. I liked the podcast version and I’m interested to see how much of it changes, if it changes at all.

4.     How many books are in your TBR Pile?

Honestly, I’ve lost count at this point, haha!

5.     Who is your favorite author?

I have a lot of favorite authors, and most of them for different reasons. But that’s part of the reason I am a writer, too. I like too many things and it’s a lot of fun to get to pick and choose which ideas I get to use in each of my books. Some of my favorites are C. S. Lewis, Andrew Klavan, Amy Tan, J. K. Rowling, George Orwell, Ray Bradbury, and Nora Roberts.

6.     How did you start writing?

For this one, it’s not a very “good” or “kind” reason. I started writing because I really hated reality. It turns out I hated reality for any number of reasons – some of them people – and I was able to work out a lot of my angst in writing. It allows me a moment or two of control, and I have been able to see a lot of things much differently as a writer.

7. Where is your favorite reading spot?

I like reading at the coffeeshop. I like this because there are always people around that don’t try to bother you, but you can bother them if you like. I also like this because I don’t have to clean up (as I would in my house) and I don’t have to worry about scrounging around for food.

8. How long have you been an author?

I have been an author for a long time, if you include my early poetry credits. I have been trying to make a living as a writer now for about two years, part-full-time (it’s never easy with kids, haha, but I wouldn’t trade any of it. I love my life as a stay at home mom and author.)

9. What do you like about reading?

I like that it allows us to pull back from the pressing moments of our own lives. We get a glimpse of another existence and we get to become more of who we are because of the questions we instinctively feel from a story.

10. If you had to describe yourself in a book title, what would it be?

“The Opposite of Irony,” or “Exceptionally Mediocre.”

I thought about what I would title my memoir, if I ever truly set out to write one – I doubt I will – and these are the two I love the most and are the most fitting. My life has played out completely different from what I expected, but it’s so different from the opposite of what I expected, too; that’s why the first title resonates with dry humor and truth. The second is more a commentary on how I’ve never felt extraordinarily extraordinary at anything in particular. I might be a bit smarter than some, or a bit more creative, but I am still a woman who loves her husband, family, and faith, and I strive to do the best I can with what I have. That’s nothing extraordinary, and yet it is, too. It’s what many would call a mediocre life, but there’s so many extraordinarily exceptional moments that mark it. I’m not a hard topic to hit, but I am a complicated one, haha!


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Blog Tour Schedule

April 15th

Reads & Reels (Review) http://www.readsandreels.com

Daily Waffle (Excerpt) http://www.dailywaffle.co.uk

Sophril Reads (Excerpt) http://sophrilreads.wordpress.com

April 16th

I Smell Sheep (Cover Love Feature) http://www.ismellsheep.com/

Quirky Cat’s Fat Stacks (Review) https://quirkycatsfatstacks.com/

I Love Books and Stuff (Excerpt) https://ilovebooksandstuffblog.wordpress.com

Reading Nook (Excerpt) http://readingnook84.wordpress.com

The Bookworm Drinketh (Excerpt) http://thebookwormdrinketh.wordpress.com/

April 17th

Jessica Rachow (Review) http://jessicarachow.wordpress.com

#Bookish (Excerpt) http://erindeckerblog.wordpress.com

Yearwood La Novella (Excerpt) http://yearwooddailybookreview.wordpress.com

April 18th

J Bronder Reviews (Review) https://jbronderbookreviews.com/

The Bibliophagist (Review) http://thebibliophagist.blog/

B is for Book Review (Excerpt) https://bforbookreview.wordpress.com

April 19th

Breakeven Books (Interview) https://breakevenbooks.com

The Invisible Moth (Review) https://daleydowning.wordpress.com

Stacy is Reading (Review) https://stacyisreading.blogspot.com/?m=0

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Is anyone taking part in the Harry Potter Magical Readathon? Here is my video showing the books I chose to read for my OWLS! Let me know in the comments if you are participating.

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Book Review: The Warrior Heir

It’s about time I bust back into the world of……FANTASY! I started a new series that was recommended to me by my boyfriend (yes, I am bisexual if you didn’t know…surprise). The first book of the series was called The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima and I loved it. I feel like I have been reborn into the world of books. Either that or I read a lot of duds so this one brought me back up to good standards of books. I probably just missed fantasy because it has been so long since I have read this genre.

The Warrior Heir book on a bookshelf

Synopsis: Before he knew about the Roses, 16-year-old Jack lived an unremarkable life in the small Ohio town of Trinity. Only the medicine he has to take daily and the thick scar above his heart set him apart from the other high schoolers. Then one day Jack skips his medicine. Suddenly, he is stronger, fiercer, and more confident than ever before. And it feels great – until he loses control of his own strength and nearly kills another player during soccer team tryouts.

Soon, Jack learns the startling truth about himself: he is Weirlind, part of an underground society of magical people who live among us. At their helm sits the feuding houses of the Red Rose and the White Rose, whose power is determined by playing The Game – a magical tournament in which each house sponsors a warrior to fight to the death. The winning house rules the Weir.

As if his bizarre heritage isn’t enough, Jack finds out that he’s not just another member of Weirlind – he’s one of the last of the warriors – at a time when both houses are scouting for a player.

This book was a really great start to a series. The main character Jack reminds me of Percy Jackson and the series seems to have that kind of vibe going for it. I love anything to do with magic so it was nice to jump into a series with a lot of promise.

Honestly, the book started right away with a pretty intense action scene and I had decided to just read a little before bed. 100 pages later and now 2 am, I finally decided to go to sleep.

The book even caught me off guard at points which I loved. I hate when a book is too predictable.  The magic system that is built in this series is really cool. There are different types of magic users and they all have their own special sets of skills. Wizards are the all-powerful ones but then there are sorcerers, enchanters, and warriors that each have their own unique abilities. The warriors are very rare and the different wizard families will pit them against each other in battle. The winning wizard family gains control over the society if their chosen warrior wins in battle.

It reminded me of the Hunger Games as well (which is a good thing) in the sense that young teenagers are put into a fight to the death situation that they don’t really have any control over.

I can’t wait to dive into the second book in this series because I am not ready to be done with this magical world the author has created and the wonderful cast of characters that she has built up and fleshed out. Did I mention that all the characters are very well fleshed out?! Because they are! The only character I found slightly annoying was Jack’s aunt Linda. She just bothered me for some reason.

I have to read a couple of other books but I know I will be thinking about this series in the back of my mind until I jump into the next one. All in all, if you like fantasy or any of the series I have mentioned above, then give this one a chance.

Book Rating: 4.5/5

You can buy this book on Amazon and find it on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: I borrowed this book from my boyfriend’s bookshelf and read it because I wanted to (and he wanted me to as well).


I recently uploaded my Booktube Newbie tag video so check it out below if you are interested. I would love it if you subscribed but that is completely up to you!

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Book Review: Drift by Clare Littlemore

We have another review from Sara! She was so excited to find out that this author reached out to us again to review the next book in her series. Sara read the first two book in this series and absolutely loved them so let’s read on and find out how she felt about the third adaptation. It is called Drift by Clare Littlemore.

P.S. Sara makes really cool little yarn creatures as a hobby. You can check out her Etsy shop called Adorkable Little Crafties!

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Synopsis: Quin believed that a life away from The Beck would make her happy. But when a cruel twist of fate forces her to leave sooner than planned, she struggles to come to terms with her new reality. Haunted by memories of the people she left behind, she finds herself wishing she was back in Patrol, with Cam by her side.

Cut off from The Beck, the escapees carve out a new existence on a small island. Tentative bonds are formed, but as disputes surface and rebellion is threatened, Quin quickly realizes that their new home isn’t the sanctuary she had imagined. And when one of her fellow citizens is willing to go to desperate measures to save those he loves, he puts the entire community in danger.

As they hatch a daring plan to save themselves, Quin is faced with a terrible choice: protect her friends or follow her heart.

Drift is the third in the Flow series, which follows Quin as she battles to forge a new life in unfamiliar territory without the man she has come to depend on.

This novel is an excellent sequel in the Flow series. I love how it picks up right where Break left off, with Quin and her friends traveling away from the controlling Beck society to their safe haven of fellow resistance citizens. This novel is about the struggle of the newly situated citizens and their attempts to develop their society and make a life for themselves in their new home, called the Crag. They are met with other groups of people, struggles between the citizens for power, and then a drastic illness.

This is an exciting and captivating read. I love the world that Littlemore has built, and I love seeing how it develops beyond its initial boundaries, both physically and emotionally. The characters are well developed and relatable, the interpersonal struggles are well formed without being cliche, and the struggles they face make it feel like a survival novel alike to Hatchet and more of this genre.

Again, Littlemore leaves us with quite the cliffhanger. I can’t wait for the next book! I eagerly awaited this one and I’ll eagerly await the next, as I can’t wait to see what happens with this small, strong society trying to recover and rescue the Beck from the Governance. The world feels so huge and well developed, and we’re so invested in the lives of the citizens who remain in the Beck. The exploration of this world Littlemore has created is so fun.

This series really belongs with the young adult dystopian heavy hitters like the Hunger Games and Divergent. I’ll definitely be recommending it to any young adult fans, both teen and older. Another success! I can’t wait for the sequel.

Book Rating: 5/5

You can buy this book on Amazon and find it on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us by the author to read and give an honest review.


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Book Highlight: Stone by L.C. Conn

I’m thrilled to present the next installment in L.C. Conn’s epic One True Child series, Stones! Please read on for an exclusive excerpt, and a chance to win a copy of the book!

Also, for all you fantasy loving book reviewers out there, the entire series is available in exchange for honest reviews. Contact R&R Book Tours for more info!

L C Conn - Stones Book 5 CoverStones (One True Child #5)

Publication Date: March 5th, 2019

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Publisher: Between the Lines Publishing

Deep within the New Zealand bush, lies a plateau with a clearing, covered in the many years of fallen leaves, it is damp and dark. Hidden just under the surface are the stones, green and still polished, placed by the Guardians of this land. There is power in them still and they are about to bear witness to a great battle between light and darkness. Claire Drummond is in danger, her very life depends on the actions and help of her husband and family. Also, the man she thought had left her life for good, Tony Benning. Caught up once more in the heavy turmoil of good vs evil, Claire has much more to fight for than just a set of stones in the highlands of Scotland. This time it’s personal. This time he has her daughter

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Chapter One

The house was deathly quiet, and it suited the moment as Claire Drummond hung up the phone with a frown. She had always known that this time would come, but it still made her heart feel heavy. He was the last of his generation, and now her Uncle Geoff was seriously ill and in decline. The last four years had felt like one long funeral, as her grandparents had passed away one by one. But Lynnette, Grace, and Malcolm had all been there for the two most important moments in her life since meeting them when she was seventeen: her wedding to her wonderful husband, Matt, and the birth of their daughter Breena a year later.

No matter how much she had come to love her grandparents, Geoff held a special place in her heart. It was her uncle who had taken her in and cared for her since she was ten years old after her parents had been murdered. He had been her strength and support when at seventeen she had learnt about her past, her Talents, and the truth of where she had come from. Then again with her ordeal both in Scotland and back home, until Matt had found her again—even though she had not appreciated it at the time.

Quickly she glanced at her watch; it was almost time to collect Breena from school. Claire grabbed her jacket and scarf and headed out into the bitter cold southerly wind. Clouds, dark and threatening, raced overhead; she shivered as the cold winter air blasted around her, creeping under the layers she was wearing. The walk was only a short one, but today her feet felt heavy, dragging as she made her way down the street. She stopped for a moment as the news finally sunk in; a tear escaped her eye and she let it fall.

Steadying her breathing and calming not only her mind but also her heart, she carried on. Claire brought forth the image of her daughter—her long, dark curly hair that refused to stay in a ponytail for longer than a few minutes, the bright blue eyes so much like her father’s, and the image of her namesake—Matt’s long-passed sister. Sometimes when they were alone together, Breena would look up at her and smile. It had a depth to it that suggested something to Claire, but she always put it out of her mind as soon as she thought it, refusing to face what might be true.

The gates of the school were already open, and children of all sizes streamed out of them into the waiting arms of parents or walked together for the trip home. The noise of their chatter and squeals of delight turned to shouts and calls of farewell. Claire smiled and waved at friends, promising to get together for a coffee or a playdate with the kids while she waited for Breena to skip out of the narrow entrance. Normally her daughter was very punctual and the wait at the gate was a short one, but today there was no sign of her.

Glancing around frantically, Claire could feel panic starting to rise inside her chest. Today of all days, Breena had decided to tarry. She searched for her daughter in the still-moving crowd of little people, but she was not there. Claire headed in through the gates and made her way to Breena’s classroom; her teacher was at the door, talking to another mother. She smiled as Claire approached, then pointed inside. Looking through the door, Claire found her daughter still sitting at the table, drawing.

“Bree, what are you doing, sweetheart? School has finished,” Claire said as she entered.

“Hello, Mum. I just wanted to finish this.” Bree indicated the paper she was drawing on. The little girl turned back to her task and the long, wavy black hair fell over her face, free from the hair ties Claire had put in that morning.

“We have to go; you can’t stay here after school. How about you bring it home and finish it there?” Claire knelt down and pushed the hair off her daughter’s face. “What are you drawing?”

“It’s a picture for my friend,” she told her mother.

Claire looked at the picture; it constantly surprised her how well Bree could draw, knowing full well she had inherited it from her father and her grandmother. The picture Bree was so determined to finish before going home was clearly of her and a very tall person.

“Who’s that with you?” Claire asked her.

“That’s my friend—I told you about him. He’s funny. He asked me to draw a picture of us.” Bree smiled and stood up. “Can I really take it home to do?”

“Yes, of course you can. Come on.” She held out her hand for her daughter to take and they collected Bree’s bag from the hook outside. As they walked up the street, Claire pondered the person in the picture with a little concern. “So does this friend have a name?” she asked Bree curiously.

“No, he won’t tell me what it is, so I call him Mr Man. He laughs when I call him that.” Bree smiled.

Claire took her daughter’s hand, and she started to skip beside her mother. Her backpack bounced on her back, and Claire could hear something rolling around inside.

“Did you eat your lunch today, Bree?” She looked down at her.

“No; I told you I don’t like cottage cheese and cucumber. It’s yucky.”

“But you liked it last week.”

“Now I don’t. What I do like is peanut butter and…” Bree stopped skipping while she thought, making Claire come to a halt as well.

“What do you like with peanut butter?”

“Shh; I’m thinking.” Her little finger was pressed against her mouth as she contemplated.

Claire waited, starting to feel frustrated. It seemed her daughter’s taste in food changed from one minute to the next, and trying to keep up was becoming difficult. Fat raindrops started to fall, landing heavily on the path around them, leaving dark splatter spots on the pale concrete.

“Come on, Bree, otherwise we are going to get drenched!” She tugged her daughter into movement and they raced down the street together, laughing and squealing whenever they got hit by a raindrop.

After they reached their front door, Bree raced inside and dumped her bag in the living room, then headed straight for the kitchen. Claire picked up the bag and pulled out the lunchbox. Everything she had put in it that morning was gone, except for the offending sandwich. The picture Bree had been so busy drawing caught her attention.

Taking it with her, she walked into the kitchen. Already strewn across the countertop were bread, butter, peanut butter, and three different types of jams. Bree was attempting to spread the peanut butter on the bread, but she seemed to be smearing it on everything else as well.

“You make the mess, missy, you clean it up.”

“Yes, Mum.”

Claire pinned the picture up on the notice board and looked at it clearly for the first time. It was beautifully done, and Breena had captured her own face very well, but the drawing of her daughter’s mysterious imaginary friend gave her an uneasy feeling once more. He was not quite finished, but already she could see some of his features and they seemed almost familiar.

“Mum?” Bree called her.

“Mmm?” Claire broke her gaze at the page and turned to face her.

“Can we go see Granddad soon?” she asked, taking a bite from her jam-dripping sandwich. As soon as Bree could talk, she’d refused to call Geoff by any other name than Granddad; it had made him so pleased that Claire never corrected her.

Her question stunned Claire, especially after the phone call she had received. “Why’s that, Bree?”

“I just get this feeling we should go see him.” Jam was now smeared on her face, not just the countertop.

“As a matter of fact, my little oracle, we are leaving in an hour and will be there tonight.” Claire grabbed a cloth and handed it to Bree. “So when you have finished eating that sandwich and cleaned up your mess, then go and find some things to take with you. And I don’t mean half of your toys.”

Claire finished packing their bags and dropped them at the front door on the way to the kitchen as she listened to Bree chatting about her day. The evidence of her daughter’s cleaning was still on the bench, with smeared lines of peanut butter and jam heading towards the sink. Claire shook her head and picked up the cloth, rinsed it off and finished the job, then went looking for her daughter.

In her bedroom Bree was sitting in the middle of the floor and staring at a couple of her dolls. She picked one up very carefully and then whispered to it. “I’ll take you; I think you will be good on this trip.” She placed the doll carefully into the bag at her side and then put the other away on her bed. “You can come on our next trip, to Scotland.”

“Come on, Bree; we have to go pick up Dad.”

“I’m ready.” Bree picked up her bag and put it on her shoulder, then took one last look around her room.

Claire hated the rush-hour traffic that was already starting to build and knew that getting out of the city would be a nightmare—even more so now that the rain had set in. She threaded the small car in and out of the lanes and waited impatiently for the many traffic lights that were determined to delay her. Finally, she made it to the university, pulled into the car park, and took out her phone.

“Here he comes, Mum!” Bree squealed from the back seat.

Matt Drummond was running down the steps from the administration building and splashing across the rain-soaked car park with his bag over his head. He jumped into the car and slammed the door quickly behind him.

“How’s my girls?” he asked and then leaned over to give Claire a kiss.

“We’re going to see Granddad,” Bree answered him from the back.

“Aye; I know, my wee angel.” Matt looked hard at Claire. “Have you had any word?”

Claire nodded instead of answering in case she started to cry. “Charlie rang,” she said softly, pulling back onto the road and into the madness of congestion.

“Do you want me to drive?” Matt placed a reassuring hand on her shoulder.

“No, you can take over after we stop for dinner.” She smiled weakly back at him.

After the stop-start congestion of the city and suburbs that surrounded it, the journey to the village was an uneventful one. The small family only stopped once when Bree started to complain about being hungry and then got back on the road as soon as possible. Once Matt was in the driver’s seat, Claire could relax and take a breath. She remembered the first time Geoff had taken her on this journey; it seemed then that her life had been turned completely upside down.

But that had been nothing compared to her first trip to Scotland, where she thought she was going to be on an ordinary excavation. The discovery of the heritage of The Community was still ongoing, thanks to what she had learned in Scotland, but also of her own heritage and learning the purpose for which she had been born. The Talents that the Guardians of the land had given her still had not found their limits, and sometimes that scared her—just as much as the death of Jack at her hands had. And always in the background—supporting and caring for her—was Uncle Geoff.

She had always hoped that one day he would find love again. He had told her once that he hadn’t enough time left to train a new wife. Claire knew this was only an excuse; he had found his love and lost her, and he didn’t want a replacement.

Claire looked over to her husband and thought the same thing. How on earth could she replace him? He was so perfect for her, always knowing when she needed extra love, when she needed calm. He made her laugh—a lot—and kept her on an even keel. The day she met him was still so vivid in her mind. The first thing she had noticed about him was his eyes, those beautiful, bright blue eyes.

It was a little bit after nine in the evening when they pulled up outside Geoff Brown’s house in the village. The porch light blazed a warm welcome with its golden glow, and a curtain twitched briefly, showing a patch of light from the living room. The door was opened before they even reached the steps, and her Uncle Ben and Aunt Charlie came out to greet them.

Ben pulled Claire into a big hug and welcomed her home, then turned to Matt and shook his hand. Charlie was next, with a warm smile and an even warmer hug, and then she guided her into the hallway, telling one of her tall sons to go get the bags from the car.

“Do you want to go straight up, or do you want a cuppa first?” Charlie asked her softly.

“I’ll go up. Matt, can you make sure Bree gets ready for bed?”

“Go on up; don’t worry about a thing, my love.” He gave her a kiss and watched as she climbed the stairs to Geoff’s room.

Claire hesitated at the door; taking a deep breath, she opened it quietly. The inside was lit softly by a single lamp at his bedside, and what she saw made her heart break. Geoff, who had been so full of life and vigour, now lay quiet and thin. His breathing was even and shallow, his skin a pallid colour. The full head of hair, which had stubbornly remained mostly dark with a couple of distinguishing bits of grey at the sides, was now almost fully white. His illness had ravaged his body, and he was now so wasted away she nearly didn’t recognise him.

A chair had been pulled up to the side of the bed, and Claire sat in it. She held his hand and kissed it, his skin dry and thin like paper under her touch. She brought it up to her forehead and did something she had never done with him before—she sought out his subconscious.

As she had expected, Claire found an orderly and tidy mind. Everything was compartmentalised and in its place. She found him with ease; it was almost as if he had signposted it for her.

“I wondered if you would,” Geoff said to her as she entered. He stood before her just as he had been when she was a teenager. Tall, with dark hair and eyes, and a grin from one large ear to another, stretched out under his equally large nose.

“Uncle Geoff!” She ran to him and before he could say no, she hugged him close.

“Claire!” Geoff tried to push her off at first, horrified, but she resisted until he hugged her back, wrapping those ever-reassuring arms around her once more. They stayed that way for some time, and by the time she did release him, her face was awash with tears.

“That was a foolish thing to do, Kid,” Geoff told her as he held her at arm’s length. “But I thank you.”

“How are you? Are you in pain?”

“No, I’m fine. I find that I am quite comfortable and happy. It’s my time, Kid, and nothing you do is going to stop it.”

“I know.” She nodded.

“Now, have you brought that little firecracker with you? I would like to see her one last time.”

“Bree is with us. She even asked this afternoon if we could come and see you.”

“Good. She reminds me so much of you. So full of energy and enthusiasm. And Matt—has he been well, not missing Scotland too much?”

“No, he is going back in a couple of months. His mother isn’t too good.”

“Oh, that’s not good. I liked Leana; I’ll keep an eye out on the other side for her.”

“But you don’t believe in God and the afterlife.”

“Ahh, a human failing it is to change one’s mind when the end is nigh.” He laughed, then his mood changed. “There is one thing I would very much like you to do for me before I go.”

“Anything, Uncle Geoff. Just name it,” Claire promised.

“I would dearly love to see John and Jess one last time. Can you call them here?”

She nodded with another trickle of tears chasing each other down her cheeks. Claire closed her eyes and sent the call into the dark reaches of her own mind, and she heard the answer at once.

On either side of her, a man and a woman materialised. John, her father, was in black, and Jess, her mother, in white. They greeted her with a kiss each and then went to meet Geoff. Claire had to swallow a lump in her throat as she watched them greet each other and stood back to give them some time together.

Sitting on a large green leather chair, Claire waited while they talked until she felt a tug at her mind. She grasped onto it and brought it in, and she found she was holding on to Matt’s hand.

“I didn’t want to disturb you,” he said quietly, taking in the scene before him.

“That’s all right, Matt. I was feeling a bit alone.” He wrapped his arms around her, both mentally and physically, and she cried into his shoulder.

“Hey, I don’t want tears in here, thank you; you’ll make everything wet,” said Geoff’s deep voice, and he grasped Matt’s hand and pulled him into a hug. They became close while they stayed at his family’s home in Scotland and had remained just as close when Matt came to New Zealand.

“Thank you for looking after her; make sure you keep it up. And that gorgeous girl of yours,” Geoff told him.

“I will always. I promise,” Matt vowed.

“Now, I thank you all for visiting me, but I would very much like to wake up for a second and tell Bree goodnight. John and Jess, I have missed you, and it was a very great privilege and honour to look after your daughter. She is the daughter of my heart.”

“It is us who should be thanking you, Uncle Geoff. You have raised her to be such a fine woman.” John shook his hand and hugged him one last time.

“Thank you, Geoff,” Jess said and kissed him on the cheek.

“Right—the lot of you, out,” he said gruffly, trying to hold back his own tears.

Slowly John and Jess faded out, and Matt gave Geoff another handshake. They spoke no words to each other, just nodded.

Finally it was just Claire once more, and Geoff gathered her up again in his arms. “I meant what I said. You are the daughter I never had, and if you were truly mine I couldn’t have been prouder, Claire.”

“I love you, Uncle Geoff, and I am proud to be called your daughter. I am so lucky to have had two fathers who have cared so much for me.” She kissed his cheek and then pulled away.

“Go get Bree; I want to see her one last time.” Claire felt him push her away and she left, very carefully, and finally detached her mind from his.

Geoff’s eyes fluttered open, and Bree was by his side in her pyjamas and ready for bed.

“There she is! How are you, my firecracker?” he asked softly and smiled at her.

“I’m good, Granddad. Are you just about ready to go?” Her voice was very low, almost a whisper.

“I do believe that I am, but I waited till I could see you again.” Bree climbed up on the bed and gave him a hug.

“Matt, can you go get Ben and the others? It’s nearly time,” Claire whispered to her husband. He nodded in reply, gave her shoulder a squeeze, and left to go downstairs.

When Claire turned her attention back to the man who had raised her and the child she loved, she noticed that Bree was whispering something to him. Geoff’s eyes widened, and he looked at his granddaughter with surprise and love.

Ben, Charlie, and their two boys, Oliver and Owen, filed into the room, followed by Matt. Ben sat on the other side of the bed and held his uncle’s other hand. Geoff smiled and took one last look around the room at all who were left of his family. Bree, still at his side, rested her head on his shoulder, and he closed his eyes.

His breathing, which had been so shallow when Claire first stepped into the room, now began to falter and become ragged. They watched over him into the small hours of the morning, until his last breath escaped his lips and he became still.

“Owen, can you and Oliver take Bree out of the room, please?” Charlie asked her son.

Bree reached up and stroked Geoff’s face. “Goodbye, Granddad. I love you.” She stood up and went around to Owen and held his hand. Before Bree left the room, she took one last look at Geoff and sighed.

Claire was still holding Geoff’s hand in hers, and she didn’t want to release it. One of the most important men in her life had just left her for the last time, and she felt that a piece of her heart went with him. Tears coursed down her face and dripped onto her lap. A tissue was produced in front of her, and she took it. Finally she let go of Geoff’s hand and laid it gently back on the bed by his side.

Matt was there immediately to gather her up into one of his comforting embraces, holding her gently and letting her cry. He stroked her hair and kissed her head. When she was ready, he led her out of the room and down the stairs, followed by Ben and Charlie.

The bottle of whiskey was produced from its high cupboard in the kitchen, along with some glasses. With a measure each, they raised them in salute to the man who had meant so much to all of them. Bree climbed onto her mother’s lap and cuddled in, as she had when she was a baby, and fell asleep.

The next few days were a whirlwind of emotions, endless tasks, and cups of tea. And skipping through it all and giving bright smiles and cuddles was Bree; she made sure that everyone benefitted from her sunny nature. Claire had often observed when she was with her friends that this child could make anyone smile.

The day of the funeral, Bree stuck close to her mother all day. Whenever Claire turned around, there she was, slipping her small hand into her mother’s larger one. Claire would instantly feel calmer as she looked into her daughter’s beautiful eyes.

It was a simple service; Geoff had insisted on that. He hadn’t wanted anything too over-the-top or sad. The elders each got up to speak; Claire thought this would have horrified Geoff, as he had often complained about how long their meetings were each month. Claire couldn’t face standing up in front of the large crowd that had gathered in the hall, and she had asked Ben to do the eulogy on behalf of the family.

Ben stood up behind the podium on the stage with a few notes in front of him and cleared his throat. Claire noticed how much he had grown to look like his brother, her father, and reminded herself to tell him. He looked out at the crowd and began. Tales of Geoff from a nephew’s perspective garnered laughter from the gathered mourners. Ben spoke eloquently and long, something he seemed to have inherited from his uncle. He touched a little on Geoff’s relationship with Claire and their history without going into too many details, which had Claire both grateful and a little teary.

The wake was held in the village hall, and it was full of people; he had touched many lives, and they had come from far and wide to farewell him. But the core was the family, and Claire watched them carefully. The boys were now young men; Owen, Oliver, and Hunter, now nineteen, were all at university. The twins were studying architecture, and Ben had great hopes of them joining his construction company. Hunter was following in his father’s footsteps and was studying agriculture. He had declared at the age of twelve that he wanted to take over the farm from his father, much to the horror of his mother. The oldest of Claire’s cousins was Jasper, and he had just graduated with honours in teaching.

As she talked to them, she realised how much they were like their parents. Owen had his mother’s gentle nature and also her Healing Talent, but he confessed to having a phobia of blood. Oliver was more like his father, ready for a good laugh and a joke; he had the Seek Talent. Hunter had Flight and regaled Claire with his exploits in freerunning, something he had long loved, having been taught by her. Jasper, now twenty-three and with Light Talent, told her he had had enough of study for a while and was about to embark on his own adventures overseas before taking up his first teaching job.

Adam and Addy and their two children had come from the city the day before, and Claire was glad they had. Their twin boys, Cameron and Dominic, were great friends with Bree, and they took her mind off the serious and sad nature of the gathering. She decided she still had a great and supportive family.

At one point, Claire found herself sitting in the corner alone, watching everyone as they mingled. Beth was there, but now the laughter and smiles were no longer forced. She talked to everyone with ease, so unlike the Beth Claire had first met that night all those years before. And she had a flashback to the welcome party and Jack approaching her.

“Claire? You okay?”

She looked up and found David standing before her. He was her mother’s twin brother and a great support to Claire; she had taken to him at once with his easy nature.

“Just going down memory lane,” she said and smiled.

He sat down beside her. “A lot has happened.”

“It has indeed. How’s the farm going?”

“Oh, you know, still the same. I can’t wait for Hunter to be finished with his studies so I can take a bit more of a back seat. I thought I might take Beth on a trip to Scotland.” He winked and smiled at her.

“Do you think she will be able to handle all the midges?”

“She’ll be all right. Do you think Gerry, Leana, and Gran would welcome a couple of visitors?”

“I’m sure they would love to see you. They always ask after you and your family. You made quite an impression on them.”

“We get a card from them every Christmas. Even though it was such a strange trip, I really enjoyed myself.”

Claire spotted Addy and Beth talking. “So are they getting on any better?” she asked him with a small grin.

“No, they still have arguments on how to raise the grandkids. I still can’t believe that I am a grandfather!” He laughed at the thought.

“Just remind Beth that her mother-in-law also had small issues with her. That might change things a bit.”

“Are you kidding me? That would be like a red rag to a bull. Just keep that nose of yours out of it, Kid.” He watched his wife a bit more then stood. “I’d better get over there and split them up before it gets too heated. Come for lunch tomorrow; I know Beth would love to fuss over you for a bit.”

“We will. Thank you, Uncle David.” David smiled at Claire; she hadn’t called him that in years, and he left her with a warm heart.

The afternoon dragged on, and Claire kept herself occupied by cleaning up cups and plates in between talking to the elders about the work she was carrying out for them. With everyone gone, she shooed out those who had volunteered to help clean up, declaring that she needed a bit of time to herself and would finish cleaning the hall on her own. She asked Matt to take Bree back to the house; he kissed her after making sure she was all right and left her to it.

The kitchenette was scrubbed and the rubbish bags tied and waiting by the door to go out. Out in the main hall, she held a broom in her hands and started to sweep; it was a great time to be lost in her thoughts in the quiet. Memories of Geoff made her smile and cry in turn. The peace and silence of the large room was just what she needed, having had people constantly around her for the last three days. Her defences were down as she reminisced, and she didn’t hear the silent footsteps enter the foyer.

She turned in front of the stage to make the final run down the length of the hall when she saw movement. Standing in the doorway was a tall figure with wavy dark hair, now with the touches of time showing, and dark brown eyes that stared at her with such intensity.

“Hello, Claire.”

“What are you doing here?” Claire asked.

“I came to give you my condolences.” He started to walk towards her slowly.

“I don’t think you should come any further, Tony.” She leaned on the broom as she watched him get closer.

“I really am sorry for your loss, Claire, for all your losses.” Tony stopped and never took his eyes off her.

“Have you been following me all this time?”

“No, I took your advice. I got a job overseas and got back about a month ago. I’ve only checked up on you once since I returned.”

Claire gave him a small smile. “I’m pleased to hear that. And have you gotten over your obsession?”

“I did hope so, but then I read that Geoff died and I found myself halfway out the door to come see you. You seem to be a hard habit to break.”

“Maybe you need to go see someone, get some therapy for it.”

“Oh, I did that too; I ended up in a relationship with her, and she accused me of transference and then broke up with me. So even that didn’t work.” He chuckled.

“You’re a hopeless case, then.”

“Probably. Or maybe I’m just crap with women.”

“So you couldn’t just stay away, stop yourself from coming all this way. A card would have done.”

He stepped closer to her involuntarily. “I needed to see for myself that you were okay. No matter how hard I try, I still care very deeply for you.”

“Ah! You said care, not love,” she told him. “There is a difference.”

“Yes, there is, but I try not so say it, because if I do…” He trailed away. He was closer now, and Claire did nothing to stop him.

“Your daughter is beautiful.”

“Stay away from her, Tony.”

“Don’t worry, I’m not interested in her.” He smiled down at her; he was close enough to touch her now. “I still remember that night—it haunts my dreams. That kiss.”

“This is not helping.” She took a step back from him, unsure whether he would hurt her. Slowly she gathered her energy around her and held it in place, ready for anything.

“No, it’s not.” He ran a hand through his thick, wavy hair. “Look, my offer is still there. If you ever need me for anything, call me.”

“I threw the card away. I found it when we were moving,” Claire told him.

He pulled his phone from his pocket, dialled a number, and waited. Over by the wall, Claire could hear her phone ringing. She turned automatically to answer it before realising that he had her number already. She turned back to him.

“Hi, Claire; just a gentle reminder that I am still around.” He hit the End button on his phone and put it back in his pocket. “There you are; you have my number now. I told you I will always keep tabs on you.”

“Are you ever going to stop this?”

“Probably not. If I haven’t by now, what’s the point?”

“I’d like you to leave, Tony.” She carried on sweeping down the hall and when she reached the end, she turned to find he had followed her.

“You are still the most beautiful woman in the world, Claire. Matt is a very lucky man; I hope he realises how lucky he is.”

She stood up straight; to her, it sounded like he was threatening her husband. “He does. Every day he tells me how much he loves me and how lucky he is, and I tell him the same right back.”

“Good. Because I have tried everything in my power to break you two up, and not once has he taken the bait.” He had a grin on his face that made Claire very uneasy.

“Please leave—before I do something I might regret.”

“Remember, Claire, I was on that hill top as well that night. The Talents given to me by the Guardians are still with me. I think we would be very evenly matched.”

“Why stand there and throw veiled threats at me, then? Why scare me?”

“I’m sorry if I have; it was never my intention.”

“Well, you did. You have said what you wanted to say; there is nothing more to talk about.” She leaned the broom up against the wall. When she turned back, it was to find him standing only inches from her.

Stepping back hurriedly, Claire tripped over the broom and started to fall. He grabbed her, wrapping his arms around her body, standing her up on her feet once more. She looked up into his eyes and had a hard job pulling away—from both his gaze and his touch—but finally she did both and moved away.

“Please, just go,” she begged him quietly.

“I think I should,” Tony replied. He turned, and Claire watched him leave the hall. He stopped at the door and looked back at her. “I know you were looking at my arse.” He smiled and left, his chuckle of laughter floating back to her.

Claire stood staring at the doorway and shook her head, a wry smile tugging at her lips. Her own parting words the last time she had talked to him came floating back to her. Walk away, Tony…stop watching me. My arse isn’t that great!

She finished cleaning, turned the lights off, and headed out of the hall, shutting the door behind her. Out in the cool wintry air, she shivered and pulled her jacket around her more tightly. She hoped the walk would help get rid of any thoughts of Tony that still remained. Just the thought of him made her look around; she could feel him still near and reached out with her mind.

Having already been inside his mind once before made it easy for her to gain access again. She walked through the various compartments, looking for one particular part. When she found it, Claire noticed that it had changed slightly. The white filigree box with golden coils was now very glossy and slightly larger. Slowly she felt the surface; it was warm and slick, and she trailed her hand around it.

“Now who is intruding on whose life?” his rich voice spoke from beside her. “And how did you get in here?”

“I just wanted to see it again, and it is amazing what I can do now. I can access any part of you that I wish, not just your brain. If I wanted, I could stop your heart. If you wanted, I could make you stop loving me.”

“But I don’t want that, Claire. I would rather you stopped my heart. But I know you. I know that you could not hurt me in any way. You proved it on the hill that night. In your own way, you love me.”

“Please leave the village; don’t stay.” Claire withdrew her thoughts from his and walked down the street. The wind was starting to pick up and the moon was rising over the hill. From behind her, she heard a car starting and then driving down the road in the opposite direction. She listened to it leave with a tear in her eye.

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About the Author

L C Conn - Author Photo

L.C. Conn grew up on the outskirts of Upper Hutt, New Zealand. Her backyard encompassed the surrounding farmland, river, hills and mountains which she wandered with her brothers and fed her imagination. After discovering a love for writing in English class at the age of eight, she continued to write in secret. It was not until much later in life that L.C. turned what she thought was a hobby and something fun to do, into her first completed novel. Now married, L.C. moved from New Zealand to Perth, Western Australia, and became a stay at home mum. While caring for her family and after battling breast cancer, a story was born from the kernel of a dream. The first book of The One True Child Series was begun, and just kept blooming into seven completed stories.

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