Monthly Archives: January 2015

Dear Bainbridge – Chapter Five – by Georgina Ramsey

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Bainbridge cover

(* Chapter Four was posted on December 31st 2014)

It’s the first time in over sixty years I’ve walked among people and animals beyond the cemetery walls, and now I see the true colours of the modern world.  As much as I hated being in there, away from Betsy, I could have walked free at any point. Maybe I should have. I’d chosen to confine myself so I didn’t have to face up to the reality of seeing her move on. I think most of the other animals feel the same way. It’s rare one of us dares to leave. We would say to one another we were content, having no reason to walk out through the gates, but we were just scared.

All our owners, friends or relatives knew, or would have guessed, we’d passed over, so they probably brushed our deaths to one side and found something else to love. I wonder how Betsy dealt with my passing, and if she ever replaced me.

You can tell, though, that many of the animals are waiting patiently for their loved ones to join them in the spirit world, so they can be with them for eternity. This magical moment always happens at night. The air fills with a sparkling light and glistening particles fall from above like shimmering rain. A warm glow encircles us and there are smiles all around. Then the fortunate animal catches a glimpse of their loved one. You can feel the bond of love between them and they are pulled together, before walking to a doorway filled with light. When the time is right and they have said their goodbyes, they move through this doorway alongside their loved one. It brings a tear to the eye of all who sees it. But the light soon fades and darkness resumes. The coldness returns and we continue to wait. I wonder what’s on the other side of this beautiful doorway.

Oh well. Maybe I’ll never know. Betsy hasn’t come for me. I hope this means she’s still alive, because the other possibility is that I was never her priority. My mother or siblings never came looking for me when they crossed over, and they will have died many years ago. Far too many winters have passed for any of them to still be alive. I sigh. Maybe I’ve just been forgotten by everyone. After all, it’s not like I really made my mark on the world.

Sitting at the edge of a kerb, I notice the streets are certainly busier than I remember them to be, and the buildings seem much taller too. The beautiful, glistening virgin snow of the cemetery has turned into dirty slush now as the modern cars trail through it, making a whoosh noise as they go. There’s lots of noise from this traffic; I don’t think I like it. I remember a world during a quieter time.

I’m not sure where I am heading really, but I remember Mother saying to me that we cats never forget directions, and sooner or later we will find our way, so I will keep on walking. I set off again.

I am now walking in full daylight and it has started to snow again. I don’t recognise any of the sights or smells and a feeling of apprehension tugs at my belly. There is so much clattering about. It’s really noisy. People are moving these great big clunky things on wheels, stacked high with boxes of all shapes and sizes, and metal shutters covering shop fronts are pushed upwards to reveal an array of produce. A box topples off a cart, landing in front of me. Its contents spill out onto the street. I jump backwards, hissing. A pile of sorry looking ragdolls are face down in the snow.

“Dennis! How can we sell them if they’re dirty? You idiot!” A woman in trousers scolds a rather browbeaten man.

My muscles relax. Stepping off the pavement, I walk through the thick sludge on the road. Cars roar over my head and I catch a lungful of fumes. These modern vehicles cough out terrible things, I think to myself as my whiskers twitch when the tyres tickle the end of them. I pass through the vehicles with ease, but I can still sense their bulk.

Safely on the other side, I continue to weave in and out of pairs of feet cluttering the streets. I don’t need to; I could obviously walk through them too, but it’s a force of habit and one I don’t want to break. It reminds me of being alive.

“Hey, cat? What you up to?” a raspy voice calls.

I stop and turn, but don’t see a soul. I carry on.

“Hey, you. You with the white fur, I asked what you’re up to? Why are you walking these streets?” A dirty brown rat slinks out of the shadows.

“Oh!” Taken aback, I say, “I didn’t see you there.” He begins to circle me with a glint in his eye. Moving backwards slowly, I whisper, “I’m sorry, sir.”

“Sir?” He stops crawling around me, stands tall – as tall as a rat can– and taking his tail in his hand, points the tip at me. “Did you, a cat, just call me sir?”

Puzzled, I nod. “Yes.”

The rat drops his tail to the ground, grabs onto his stomach tightly, and lets out a shattering laugh. “I’ve—I’ve—” Barely able to catch his breath, he finally spits out his words. “I’ve never been called ‘sir’ before.” Walking towards me, still sniggering at my obvious error, he pats my side. “I’m Stan, pleased to have your acquaintance.” He offers me his paw. “And you are?”

“I’m Bainbridge,” I reply, not knowing how to shake the paw of a rat. I decide to gently tap it with my own and offer an awkward smile.

“Hmm… interesting name, Bainbridge. What are you doing in these parts?”

“I’m on my way to find someone.”

“Thought I didn’t recognise you. You don’t look like the normal rat catchers we have around here. You seem a bit… a bit…” Stan scratches his head.

“I know,” I sigh, rolling my eyes, “la-di-da!”

“No! I was going to say common actually.”

“Really?” I jump back, feeling slightly pleased.

“Er… no! I’m having your life.” He begins to laugh again, making my fur rise. “You need to find your sense of humour. No, you’re way too la-di-da. With a name like that, you shouldn’t be skulking around town. I think you belong on the outskirts in one of those posh houses with the big lawns and bubbly water fountains out the front. I used to bathe in those fancy water fountains, until the owners discovered me and put down poison.”

“Yes, yes,” I say eagerly. “That’s where I’m heading, Stan. Where will I find the posh houses? I’m looking for the great house, you see.”

“Wow! The great house, you say.” Stan scratches his head again.

Wincing, I ask, “Do you have fleas, Stan?”

“No, I don’t!” He throws me a scowl. “I’m just scratching my brain cells. I have too many. Too brainy for my boots, I am.”

“Boots?” I look down at his bare paws.

“Anyway, I could take you.”

“You could?” A smile flashes across my face and I leap up with excitement.

“Yes. For a small fee, of course.”

My smile and shoulders quickly drop. “But I don’t have anything to give you, Stan.”

“Look, Bainbridge, the truth is I really need a favour.”

“What kind of favour?”

“Come here.” He beckons me to lower my head. Standing on the tips of his toes, he whispers into my ear, “There’s a cat—“

“A cat you say.”

“Shush!” He nods. “A cat.”

“Dead?” I ask.

“Of course! And he’s pure evil, always picking on me. I thought I’d got rid of him when I died… when he killed me… but then he died… killed by a fierce fox… and here he is… back in town… forever chasing me.”

“But what can I do?”

“Be my bodyguard. Scare him off.” Stan punches the air like a boxer. “And in return I’ll show you how to get to the mansions… that great house you’re looking for is bound to be one of the ones on the other side of town.”

Chapter Six will be available to read from 28th February 2015

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A review of Patti Roberts’ ‘Witchwood Estate – Going Home’ (book 1) by the Book Gremlin

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witchwood estate pic

This is the first of Patti Roberts’ books I’ve read and I know it won’t be the last as it turned out to be a truly beautiful read, evoking a sense of mystery and suspense, with just enough detail to leave the reader wanting more. And that’s exactly what they can have, because this is Book 1 in a series.

Like a series of TV episodes, each book seems to be designed to take about an hour to read – at a relatively quick pace. The ‘Going Home’ episode kicks off the show beautifully, allowing you to get a feel for the main character, Alexandria, but also tempting you with appearances by others – who may or may not have pivotal roles in later episodes.

At the start, the story holds a fairy-tale, warm, magical quality, and the description is divine – almost tactile. It feels like Alexandria is living in a home in touch with nature and wrapped in love, but we learn quickly that she has to leave this comfortable, loving environment behind to travel back to her roots. That’s because the people whose home she shares, Mr and Mrs Barnaby, are only her guardians. Alexandria is a young witch, who actually comes from a long line of witches, but she has been living with the Barnabys, a childless couple, ever since her parents were killed. However, as she hits a milestone, she has to leave this life behind and travel to the place that was her birth family’s home, so she can take ownership of her inheritance before it is taken from her or the home is bulldozed. But on the coach journey there, sinister happenings start to occur and the story turns effortlessly from a sweet tale to one where the plot is clearly thickening. She meets a young man called Andrew, who she befriends, but his past is full of sorrow. Andrew is kind of a ghost, an in-between, looking for his lost love, Eden, and a truly intriguing character.

Like any good episode, Book 1 of the Witchwood Estate series leaves you with a great cliff-hanger. It was such a delightful, easy read and I happily made my way through it in one sitting. If you like witches, demons and ghosts, you are sure to enjoy this book, and what’s more… it’s totally FREE to download through Amazon at the moment!

A review of Jilli Lime-Holt’s ‘Take Three Birds’ by the Book Gremlin

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The 3 birds

In the modern world, most of us feel some comfort hiding in our own ‘social media’ padded cell. It gives us a sense of security as we merrily tap away at the keyboard, in our own private homes, with a cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit, knowing that the ‘others’ can’t see us slobbing about in our tatty stretchy pants and odd socks. It gives us a feeling of comfortable interaction, without actually having to leave the house, and we are prepared to talk to people from across the world, who we have never met, and may never meet, but who we may even go on to class as ‘friends.’ But have you ever wondered what it would be like to take the plunge and say, “It’s about time I got to know you face-to-face, me dear. Let’s meet up and take a jolly road trip”? Nope? Me neither!

But that’s exactly what ‘Take Three Birds’ is about, and it’s an unusual book, which, in my opinion, is based on a very brave and bold premise: three ‘friends’ (whose collective pen name is Jilli Lime-Holt, by the way) get to know one another on Facebook and decide to meet in real life. They are doing the unthinkable – they are testing their ‘Facebook friendship’ to see whether it’s able to crossover into reality.

This book is not a work of fiction – that is clearly stressed – and I would warn you not to expect it to read like a novel because it doesn’t as there isn’t one almighty climax that you are being pushed towards. No, it’s more like a gentle romp that you take with the ‘birds’ on their real life adventure through Europe – it’s essentially a collection of diary entries (but without the dates).

If you enjoy European travel then you will probably like this book. It’s genuinely an interesting concept and the unpretentious style of their writing keeps you reeled in. It enables you to get a feel for the personalities of the three ‘birds,’ and their tenacity, fantastic sense of humour and plights really shine through.

‘Take Three Birds’ starts off with an email exchange between them, and this style of opener grabbed my attention immediately – plus I was pleased to see such conversations littered throughout. These were probably my favourite part of the whole book because their humour grabs you by the short and curlies so that you want to read on – the insults hurled at one another are priceless too! The book takes you from the planning of the trip, to Janet (who lives in Derbyshire) boarding the plane in England, meeting up with Jill in Italy (where she lives), and then the pair travelling in Jill’s old Fiat banger to the Auvergne, in France, to meet up with Tottie (which is where she lives). Each ‘bird’ gives their own perspective on the events of the trip, which again is an unusual approach, but it does work – the repetition gives you a feeling of familiarity.

The beauty of mainland Europe is obvious, as is Jill and Tottie’s passion for their adopted countries, but Janet raises a fair point and fights for good old Blighty when she says almost every country has beautiful parts, but also some real crappy areas and sights too. After reading the book, it made me realise that’s it up to us to make the most of where we live, and I was left with a strange sense of self-reflection that made me appreciate the beauty on my own doorstep in the UK. These are the things that we often don’t appreciate because we are so hooked up on our working lives, ignoring what’s actually out there. However, the pace of life that Jill and Tottie have in mainland Europe is quite wonderful and I’m sure will make many readers envious, but I just love Janet’s down to earth, happy with her ‘lot’ attitude.

Reading this book, you cannot fail to appreciate that the ‘birds’ are three very independent, strong, hard working women who are not afraid to set themselves challenges. I found ‘Take Three Birds’ to be an enjoyable, light-hearted read and think the premise has even more mileage for future books.

Would you like a sneaky read of the first chapter of Malika Gandhi’s YA book, titled ‘Witch Crystal’?

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Then read on…

Witch C

CHAPTER ONE

ZROTAZ

“They are coming!” Senon shouted above the noise as he barricaded the door. “Marcaria, take Larissa to the garden, to the shuttle!”

“No, I can’t leave you. I won’t!” Marcaria shook her head.

“Don’t worry about me, I – ”

A deafening blast blew the door open, knocking Senon to the ground. He quickly picked himself up as an ear splitting scream followed, forcing both him and Marcaria to crouch over their daughter. With their hands over their ears, they waited for the scream to die down. They rose to their feet as soon as it did. The scream was the witches’ scream, deadly, if anyone came close to it.

A series of blue, green, and yellow flares flew at them but Larissa had used her shield.

“Good girl,” said Senon.

“Father, so…hard…” Larissa lost her strength and the spell collapsed.

“We can’t stay here, Senon.” Marcaria picked Larissa up and ran to the garden.

Senon looked at the space where the door once stood and followed his family to the back of the house.

The attacks were aimed from afar, but Senon knew the Empire Witches were moving closer into their village. The most powerful and merciless on Zrotaz, were the Witches of the West, the Empire Witches will do anything to get what they want, and this time it was the girl. No one had yet defeated this clan, meaning Senon and Marcaria alone did not stand a chance.

Trying to find cover in the back yard, Marcaria tried to rouse Larissa, who was still unconscious. Suddenly she heard the undisguiseable cries, coupled with a surge of heat, and realized the witches brought dragons. They were evil black dragons, huge, muscular, and scaly. Their red talons scraped the earth, and their large ugly nostrils could smell fear. It wasn’t a myth; their fire breath was the most lethal and cursed than any other creature on Zrotaz. Other dragons feared these monsters that had been recruited by the Empire Witches.

The townsfolk were fighting side by side with Senon and Marcaria. They promised they wouldn’t let the Empire Witches take Larissa. She was their only hope to free this world of them. Marcaria knew the Empire Witches needed and wanted their daughter…no, she would not let them. She needed to take Larissa away to safety!

A terrifying roar filled the night sky and a rush of raw, dry, hot air blew towards them. Marcaria felt her daughter’s hand squeeze hers tightly. She looked down at her, and gave a nod. Senon looked at his wife with worry and fear etched on his face.

“It will be too much for her,” he said.

“Larissa is confident, she wants to try. It may be our only chance to get away,” replied Marcaria.

Larissa took her father’s index finger into her small palm and he felt the beginning of her spell, already powerful for a five-year-old Zrotaz witch.

“Okay,” he sighed. “Be careful, my angel.”

They led her to the edge of the garden where the trees hid them, but where they could still see the dragons and the Empire Witches. Larissa took a deep breath and muttered a spell.  White film trailed out from her palms, she pushed them up and towards their enemies. Marcaria was acutely aware of Larissa’s power emanating from her very core. Soon, the roar of dry heat and screams died. An eerie silence followed as snow particles replaced the dragon’s fire.

Marcaria spotted the Empire Witches’ surprise and hatred etched on their faces as they hovered above the ground, sitting on the backs of the dragons. They leapt to the ground, defying gravity, from the now dazed dragons who tried to blow fire.

“Two can play at this game,” sang Richiney, the High Witch’s personal guard.

Clapping her hands, she spread her arms wide and opened her mouth. A whistling noise enveloped them all, which made it almost impossible for their thoughts to flow. Larissa’s spell broke, the dragons’ disorientation lifted, and once again, oppressing heat came forth, only this time stronger and fiercer than before. Richiney called her comrades.

“The child is near; I am able to sense her. Burn down every house until she is found. Now go!”

Marcaria turned to her husband, fearing for Larissa and this village. “We must do something, Senon. Everyone will die! The Empire Witches will not care, nor will they show mercy. The village will no longer be!”

“Take Larissa to the shuttle. I will try and hold them off,” said Senon.

Marcaria, who was torn between getting their daughter to safety and leaving her husband, didn’t move. Senon took her hands in his and kissed her.

“I know what you are thinking. I will be safe, I promise. I will be with you and Larissa in no time. Please take her. Get her to safety.” He pushed his wife and daughter towards the shuttle and waited until he saw Marcaria put Larissa safely inside.

As he turned back, the trees burned down in front of him, sending waves of more dense heat his way. Shielding his eyes, he crawled away and took a moment before his mind cleared so he could gather his power from his core. He sensed an Empire Witch behind him, summoning the spell to kill. He concentrated on his own spell. A hot glow began within.

“Kurrancha!” he yelled, waving his arms high above his head.

The trees that escaped the dragons’ wrath, tore from the roots and hovered over the witch’s head, then crashed down on her. An ear-piercing wail escaped the damned witch before she dissipated into dust.  Senon looked towards the shuttle, but he could not see Marcaria or Larissa. He supposed they were inside, but he wanted to be sure. His heart thumping in his chest, Senon called to them using telepathy. There was no reply from either of them.

The lights in the garden flickered and then complete darkness surrounded him. A witch was there, hiding in the dark…he felt himself succumbing to the spell of the Sleep of Death…

“Wake up; I will not let you die on me!”

The spell lifted a little, allowing Senon to open his eyes. It took a moment before he realised Marcaria was kneeling in front of him.

Senon smiled. “Where is Larissa?”

“She is here, with me. Come my love, we must leave.”

“So weak…Sleep of Death…”

Marcaria gasped. “No! No Senon, you are stronger than this! You can fight the spell. Just…focus! I will not let you die!”

“Take care of our angel, my darling…”

Marcaria screamed as Senon closed his eyes, finally giving out.

“Mother, what is wrong with Father? Why is he sleeping?” Tears slid down from Larissa’s emerald eyes.

Marcaria wiped her own tears and hugged her daughter tight. “Go Darling, go back into the shuttle, and lay low. Keep the Crystal close. Do not worry about me and do not look for me. I will be with you in a moment.”

“Yes, Mother,” Larissa ran to the shuttle.

Marcaria’s close friend, Zarina, appeared by her side.

“Zarina, oh thank heavens you are here.  I need to wake Senon…”

“Marcaria, Senon is dead. You cannot wake him. Look at me and listen. Richiney will be here any moment. You must go now. The shuttle is ready and the gateway is open.”

“But Senon…” tears blurred Marcaria’s eyes.

“There is nothing you can do for him. I’m sorry.”

“You can revive him, I know you can.”

“I cannot. It is beyond my powers. Marcaria, his soul has left his body. Please, you must take Larissa away, before it is too late, before the Empire Witches take her.” There was a note of urgency in Zarina’s voice.

The lights in the garden were glowing again; Marcaria saw the mark that the spell had left on Senon’s forehead.

“Oh, Senon,” Marcaria fell to her husband’s side, kissing his closed eyes and still, warm lips. “I shall miss you very much.”

“Do you have the Crystal?” Zarina asked.

“It is in the shuttle.”

“Then you must go – now!”

“Not without giving me the child,” bellowed a voice from behind. Both witches jumped.

Richiney smiled. “Where is she, Marcaria?”

“You will not have her, Richiney,” Marcaria braved.

“You will do as I say or…” the Empire Witch looked at Senon. “Poor Senon, if he hadn’t tried to fight, he would still be alive.”

“How dare you. I will kill you!” Marcaria screamed while lunging herself at the evil witch.

Richiney pointed a finger towards Marcaria and she rose into the air. A small twirl had her slamming to the ground. Zarina attempted to go to Marcaria’s aid, but a blast from Richiney’s wand had her frozen. She laughed and used another spell to bring Marcaria to her feet.

“Hand over the girl or you will regret it,” the tone was not forgiving.

“Never!”

The shuttle began to glow. A blue mist surrounded the transport. It was time to go. Marcaria knew she had to enter the shuttle now and dissolve into particles before the Gateway closed.

“I will not succumb to you or any of your kind!” spat Marcaria.

Before Richiney could respond, she flew into the small shuttle where her daughter lay hidden. Larissa sat crouched in a corner, with the Crystal clutched in her hand.

Marcaria kissed her daughter’s forehead and took the Crystal from her hand. She drew a breath and the transport, along with herself and Larissa, dissipated into particles, she heard a high- pitched scream…

Marcaria should have felt relief at escaping Zrotaz and the evil Empire Witches, but her heart was heavy. She and her daughter were leaving their home and loved ones, living and dead, behind. For how long, she couldn’t bear to consider, she just knew that they’d be gone as long as was required.

Marcaria hugged her daughter closer, closed her own eyes, and sent a silent prayer to her husband to watch over and protect them in this new chapter of their journey.

If you have enjoyed reading this, why not download the book:

Amazon link UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00GX49RPQ?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

Amazon USA: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GX49RPQ

New Release

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Are you wondering what book to kick the New Year off with? How about…

The Snow King

Snow King

A struggling artist accidentally wakes up an ancient entity who aims to bring eternal winter.

On an unexpectedly snowy day in Wales, Gwen wakes up an ancient being who wants to bring eternal winter to the world. She didn’t need this complication in her life: jobless, she struggles to pay rent at the end of the month, and her family is unsupportive of her art. Now she has to try to dissuade this lost man, someone who finally appreciates her paintings, from conquering the world and plunging it into eternal winter.

The Snow King, awakened from his century-long sleep, has unfinished business with his nemesis, the Fir King. They battle eternally over the right to rule the World. While he plots how to win this year, he has to get used to a world that has changed a lot since he has last experienced it, with Gwen’s reluctant help.

Will the Snow King finally win this winter or will Gwen be able to persuade him that bringing eternal winter to the world is not a great idea? And most important of all: how will she pay the rent?!

A sweet urban fantasy winter tale, with humour and romance, and the decisive battle over the world! An enjoyable read, perfect for the holiday season!

AVAILABLE 21st DECEMBER, 2014 on Amazon Kindle