Queen of Hearts

The village where I spent my boyhood years had an unwritten mantra amongst the children, it existed before my family moved there generations before and will continue long after I am dead. Be careful what you wish for. It was a law, a saying and a threat. It goes in accordance with another lore, which states that if a person pure of heart believes anything strong enough, it will come true. Almost like a wish.  I never thought much of it before, but it became the forefront of my thoughts after a winter that changed my life. The night exceeds all scientific possibility and the village of Efrose still contains inexplicable mysteries which turn into stories. 

In my youth, I was particularly fond of magic. It inspired an odd sense of hope and no one can deny that it holds a childlike wonder. The one trick that enamoured me was the disappearing act. I never saw a trapdoor or other cheap tricks; it was simple, a person was there and the next second by some divine miracle, they no longer were: magic.

My best friend at the time — probably the best friend I ever had, a better friend than any I’ve made well into my adult years — was a girl named Reina. That wasn’t her real name, there was another story. This story like all others entwine into each other, so I must bore you with some details.

Her real name was Olivia but she hated being called that, in addition to Liv, Ollie or any other rendition you can muster . One day by pure instinct, I called her Reina. She looked at me confused, like I was stupid. I got flustered quickly and felt a strong urge to explain myself. “My mum reads me a story about a strong princess who ran away with a knight. Her name is Reina — it means queen. So even if she wasn’t the queen of that kingdom, she was still a queen by name. That’s what my mum said at least. It just reminds me of you. Sorry.” I look down at my shoes when I noted that she looked sad due to the tears forming in her eyes, however, upon reflection it was quite the opposite.

She put her hands on my face, looking at me with those glassy eyes, and said, “you truly are an Angel.” Now would be a good time to mention that my eccentric parents named me Angel. She kissed my forehead and we proceeded to play like we always did.  Shortly after that event the name stuck and everyone called her Reina.

We were inseparable. While the other kids in our class would tease me for expressing high praise for the magical arts, she would encourage it and remind me why I loved it. She made sure no one laughed at me.

At that age, I never understood why she would not want to return home, or why she had bruises on her body. I never understood why sometimes she would flinch when anyone came close to her. At that age, all I thought was that her life was awesome because she never had a curfew and would spend all day trying to play. She would spend days on end at my house or hide in the park. I understand it now. But it’s too late.

She was my partner in crime and on occasion my lovely assistant. The most notable case, brings us to the winter of 2000. We were 11, preparing for the school’s talent show. I remember the nerves, and how I would joke that Reina had a spidey sense for it. She had a knack of soothing me and on that night Reina simply said, “I believe in you.” 

With that my nerves dissipated. “Believe in me but the magic is a trick, which we have practised to perfection.” 

“Remember, if you believe strong enough anything can come true. Like Peter Pan and fairies. Believe in the magic.”

Backstage was a flurry of parents fussing over their children. Reina’s parents were not there so she gave her seats to my family. While the other kid’s parents primped them, she was alone. The teachers and parents often gave her sympathetic looks coupled with inaudible muttering. She smiled at me as though she couldn’t see them. “I really wish I could disappear sometimes,” she muttered to herself.

When the show commenced, it was a mashup of offkey singers and out of time dancers. We were the last kids to go on, not for our talent but because we were the only act that was different. It went as practised, we did our card tricks without a hitch, pulled a coin out from behind unsuspecting audience members ears, turned water into ice immediately and made a ring defy gravity by going up a string. Finally, time for the big finish: make my lovely assistant disappear.

We had it planned: there was a small space underneath the stage where Reina could hide, mimicking a trapdoor. We placed the box on top with a false bottom. She walked in the box with a large smile, her face shone brighter every time the audience would clap. She whispered to me just as I closed the door, “this is the happiest day of my life. Thank you for being my best friend.”

Upon hearing those words, I said to the audience, “I love Reina. She is my best friend.” The door was closed but I was sure she could hear me. The big reveal to the audience which showed she had disappeared resulted in a massive round of applause. I just imagined how happy she would be to hear it. The finale should have shown Reina reappear. Should have. “Now ladies and gentlemen. I need some help to get Reina back. Reina. Reina.” I made motions to encourage them to chant. Now everyone was chanting Reina’s name, including the kids that would ridicule us and even the teachers who knew of the trick. I opened the door to reveal Reina. But she wasn’t there. I closed it and tried again. 

Panic struck me, maybe she was stuck, I thought. I dropped to the floor and removed the false bottom. The space was empty. There was no sign of Reina in the school or town of Efrose. Everyone searched for her but to no avail. Her parents never pushed to find her and moved out of the village not long after she went missing. The people soon forgot about her after that. Reina was a whisper in the wind and the village would never see her again. She had truly disappeared.

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My Greatest Fear

My biggest fear is giving up. More than I already have.

I still have some fight left in me.

I don’t fear spiders or heights but watching someone I know give up, slowly turning into a shell of what once was. That scared the shit out of me.

Not feeling like smiling or talking. Or even dying.

To have stories told of how great they were, the potential they held, and only seeing them as a fraction of this person. Dreams gone, backed into a corner.

My greatest fear is once again feeling nothing, that makes giving up so easy. 

Indie Books Masterlist

#IndieApril was a huge hashtag which encouraged people to buy books from authors who weren’t traditionally published. I put up a post asking authors to drop their links and it was a big list. More than I can read in a month but there are plenty of good ones I would like to. This compiles every book and a short description.

Fantasy

Soul by Dave GF Blackwell – A snowstorm. A body with the cause of death unknown. A bloody crime scene. A missing elderly woman. An unidentified young girl. A young girl found naked and covered in blood at a crime scene harbours a powerful gift and a traumatic past that changes the lives of Marie and her foster daughter in ways they couldn’t imagine. Death is only the beginning. This is the story of Kimimela.

Gold Shadow by L.C. Perry – In the North American continent, eighteen year old Ebony has been living as a slave for as long as she can remember. The underground cities, the tattoo, the scars and the shackles are a part of the only world she has ever known. She knows that in order to survive, she will have to stay strong. And she will stay strong, cursing those in power, until her very last breath. She waits for a meaningful way to die as she quietly pushes her body to its limit…but that all changes when rebels from the surface drop down right in front of her.

Hippocrates and the Hobgoblin: The Child of Murindur by C.S. Colvin – The chaotic confines of the hospital kept Creed occupied, even as he felt something change within. The embattled physician’s dreams were more frequent, and oddities were becoming the norm in an otherwise pedestrian existence. Following a tumultuous turn of events, Creed awakens in another world, one in which he slowly remembers to be his home as the past and present collide. Mürindür has been waiting, and within moments of arriving, he is rescued by his hobgoblin friend, Ojin, as they embark on a perilous journey to protect Creed’s bride and their unborn son, a child of prophecy and purpose.

The Well of Youth by E.J. DawsonGrateful to be leaving the deathbed of his estranged father behind, Andy Morzov wants nothing more than to return to Amphion University to submit his thesis to his mentor Professor Nick Holloran. Instead, he discovers the professor missing – possibly dead – while on a secret mission for the Illisian government.

The Van Helsing Paradox by Evelyn Chartres – a dark fantasy which tells the story of Clara Grey, who is a member of the Tower, a religious order of hunters who work outside the confines of the Church. Witness her rigorous training, how she faces adversity, and fights in the Great War to become the derringer wielding flapper she is.

The Light Conjurer by Rachel Rener – Ever since Aspen (as she calls herself) awoke three years ago in an empty cabin in the middle of the forest, not knowing her name, where she came from, or where she was, she’s been forced to live entirely off the grid. It’s a lonely life she’s grown accustomed to – until now. Suddenly, strange things are beginning to happen all around her: a raging tornado manifests out of nowhere, narrowly saving her from an out-of-control semi-truck; her frigid bath water inexplicably becomes luxuriously hot; without warning, the wood fireplace erupts a plume of white-hot fire straight into her living room.

The Dark Mermaid by Christina Barr – Luna, heir to father’s throne, is banished for saving the life of a human boy. He gives her a choice: kill the boy before she turns of age or be destroyed.

Healer’s Touch by Deb E Howell – Llew has a gift. Her body heals itself from any injury – but at a cost to anyone nearby. Whereas, Jonas is haunted by memories of his loved ones. At his side, the cursed knife that took their lives acts as a cruel reminder of his pain.

Premonition by Rachel KrotecIn a future deeply divided between two magical sects, seventeen-year-old Lilah Crowne prepares for what ought to be a surefire win in the annual competition for warriors—until an unexpected encounter sends her world reeling.

Long Grows the Dark by Catherine Labadie – In the past, a sorceress introduced a queendom’s golden age right before the return of an ancient foe. In the present, Gwendoline fights for free will even if the cost of her choices may be too dear for her to pay.

The Etherea Cycle by Kristina Kelly, Jonathan Fuller – There is a darkness that threatens this world, as it once did long ago. Three distinct realms, one forever shadowed, one drenched in light, and one caught in the grey between, battled for supremacy. To preserve peace, two emissaries from each realm are chosen to partake in an epic quest: the Trials of the Innermost. In the left hand, knowledge. In the right hand, combat. The six Truthseekers must learn to look beyond the birthplace of their companions, or risk failure as they face challenges designed to test their deepest fears.

Chieftess by Delilah Bluette – Leilana never wanted power. She never wanted to rule even if it was always her destiny. Mytis knows that the Gods have decreed his Empire encompass the face of the world and he will do anything to make sure it happens. He never anticipated the assassin he sent to the Eastern Islands would kill the wrong heirs, making an enemy out of three nations now united against the Imperial Mages or that a grieving husband’s revenge could threaten his Kingdom.

First Magyc by Nicole DragonBeck – The ethereal song spilling from behind the door persuades Ria to help the Guardian Cedar Jal escape his prison between worlds. She discovers a land of magyc and music which feels strangely familiar, and gets entangled in the Guardians’ search for the missing pieces of the Amber Torch. This tale starts with Ria, but it’s up to all those who keep the Path – the Guardians, Witches, assassins, and even Death Himself – to save magyc.

Prelude (Borderlands Book 0) – Long trained and battled hardened, this band of heroes must forsake magic and hunt the vile Spawn with deadly determination, simple brutal weapons and obscure advice buried in an ancient book. What starts as another routine sweep soon becomes a battle for survival as they are challenged by horrors powerful beyond record. Now, not even skill, experience and the Captain’s unique family legacy can guarantee the patrol’s survival.

Spirit Horse and the Battles of the Guardians by T. Louise Perry, Tina Perry– All Ella wanted was to graduate high school and leave. Tormented by her alcoholic father and his best friend Jimmy who will stop at nothing to have her.A letter from her aunt Jean asking her to come for the summer was what she thought was a life saver, but instead it turned her life upside down. She meets Chase and falls in love, everything was perfect till she finds out that she’s pregnant. She has no idea that the child she carries is the reincarnation of the powerful Spirit Horse.

The Dawn Warrior by Ginny O. – Warrior and magician, exiled Princess Roxana has spent the beginning of her adult life helping others escape their curses by dealing with the evil magicians that cast them. Now it’s past time that she dealt with her own fateful curse. Nearing twenty-one, the curse will fall whether she wants it to or not. Neither she, nor her only companion, Gorlouis, a fire dragon, can stop it. She needs to find the witch or find her fairy godmother before her birthday.

Bloodlines by William B. Taylor – Alex Tinsdill never thought a simple DNA test would lead to a $250 million inheritance and Cove Point Manor, a massive estate built during the Gilded Age on the Gold Coast of Long Island, New York. Alex’s inheritance doesn’t come without a cost, however, as two greedy relatives soon show up, determined to separate Alex from his new found riches. When the relatives arrive, the spirit of the former owner of Cove Point Manor, who died under mysterious circumstances almost 100 years earlier, awakens.

Twisted Fate by Jessi Elliot – Aurora Marshall is sharp, witty, and always has a plan. Ready to finish her business degree and graduate, her life is going smoothly—until the night she meets Tristan Westbrook. Tristan, the overbearing, gorgeous fae leader, and an admired businessman in the human world, is all kinds of dangerous. While he finds Aurora intriguing, her refusal to bend to his will keeps them locked in a constant power struggle.

Second Skin by M Damon Baker – “In one final attempt to salvage the wreckage of my life, I stepped into a virtual reality chamber, searching for something, anything, that might make me want to live again. But when I emerged inside the virtual world of Second Skin, I immediately discovered that things had gone wrong—terribly wrong. I was suddenly trapped in a strange place where nothing was what it seemed; unable to determine what was real… unsure of anything, including myself.”

Always Gray In Winter by Mark Engels – A distant daughter. A peculiar device. A family lineage full of secrets. When werecat Pawlina Katczynski finally resurfaces, her location previously unknown to anyone close to her, the reunion is short of welcomed. Instead, she finds herself thrust tooth and nail—tooth and claw—into a feud between opposing werecat clans as her family and their enemies reignite a battle that has raged for years. Always Gray in Winter invites the reader to join the feud and see if blood is truly thicker than water

Sham Belly Shack by Ginny Stone – a modern day South African fairytale. The Beetle Boys descend upon the Glen, causing more chaos. Granny Catty is transported to a dark time in her life when she was married to Husband Number Eight and her husky vocals were considered captivating. Trapped in a dingy seamy nightclub, the feisty Cee-Cee-Lia has no option but to do her wicked husband’s bidding.

Concealed Power by Michelle Crow – For centuries, Earth has served as the battleground for a secret war between a reptilian alien species and the clandestine human organisation dedicated to eradicating this extraterrestrial threat. But when a single woman becomes the focal point of this brutal conflict, the fate of the planet alters forever.

Dun an Doras by G. Tarr – People are dying in Ben’s sleepy village. Mysterious deaths are just the start, it looks like the very fabric of the universe is tearing apart. With Ben, Branna, (an apologetic banshee), Ged, (an accidental werewolf) and the right hand of Gaia, do humans even have a chance?

Elysia by C.C. Francis – In the far future, technology is known as magic. That magic preserves a tenuous peace between two countries in the hands of its seemingly immortal inventor, the Sovereign. But Will Darkwood knows nothing about that, he lives a simple life by a lake, spending most of his days dreaming of what things are like beyond the far-off mountains. One morning, Will opens a strange letter with no return address. Inside is the source of the Sovereign’s ancient power. The next thing Will knows, he’s on the run from an infamous assassin. He manifests dangerous abilities he can’t control. He’s a threat to everyone around him.

The Paths That Be by Serena Whynd – Already well-versed in the Law of Attraction, universal energies, and other eastern philosophies, Tali’s life is forever changed when one night she is woken by her deceased grandfather. She finds herself thrown into new levels of reality that are far beyond what she is used to.She meets Jane, who introduces her to her true calling – more than just a quest for self-awareness and personal growth. Tali finds herself undergoing ancient rituals, shape-shifting, and working within her dream state to help souls transition from trauma into their next life.

Nocturnal Blood by Villimey Mist – Anchorage, Alaska. A place where people don’t care if someone goes missing. A place where Leia Walker tries her hardest to hide from the world, wanting a normal life without anxiety and OCD. But Leia’s bubble pops when an old friend is back in town and twists Leia’s reality . A bloody event proves what Leia is scared to learn—Sophie Gardner, her old high school friend and saviour from the bullies, is a vampire.

Green Mist Rising by N.R. Gurney – It all started with the letter. Now years later, when Sarah Salter finds herself in an alternative dimension, she is forced to adapt. She has to make new friends, and learn in order to thrive. Come experience her journey, and her pains, as she takes up a new role as an oracle.

Only Words by Summer Kiska – Shane Ashby is witch with cursed, who needs to defend against a sister she never thought she’d see again. And with the worst timing ever, a desperate, if irritatingly attractive warlock shows up at her door in need of a tutor.

Resurrection: Legend of Sanction by Kanye Sampson – It’s been 14 years since the Great War. The Demon clans have been scattered. The Human Empire seeks to annihilate them. The Brotherhood of Shadows, a band of Demon warriors, seek to return their people to the light, by any means necessary. Two swordsmen form an unlikely alliance.

Empire’s Daughter by Marian Thorpe – In a re-imagined dark-ages Europe, a young woman must choose between her lover and her land, beginning a journey into lands beyond her imagining, into danger and opportunity, and to a deeper understanding of loyalty, sacrifice, & the dimensions of love.

Heavenward by Olga Gibbs – Meet Ariel: a quiet, unnoticeable girl with an incredible gift. She never had an easy or pleasant life, but the arrival of three gorgeous strangers meant her measured life is turned upside down, as she discovers that angels exist. Now against her will, she’s drawn into an ancient celestial conflict, where her powers will decide the fate of humanity.

Over a God’s Dead Body by Joel Spriggs – Loki hates being bound to Seth, the most micromanaging of all the Egyptian Gods. But when their quest to regain Seth’s crown leads to a boring midwest town where nothing happens, Loki discovers a family he never wanted to admit may exist.

Dog! by Mike Robbins – Bazza is an easy-going middle-aged college lecturer with a taste for weed, porn, beer and redheads. When he adopts a rescue dog, he sees nothing odd about the animal. Then a Himalayan monk comes to visit, and senses something strange.

Francis is Alive by Moshood Adebayo – Francis Is Alive portrays the return of the most dangerous man in the world who is thought dead. He is found at the center of world leaders’ debate determining the fate of a World War. A love story, a paranormal haunt, endless games of assassinations and crimes; such is what Francis brings from his death.

Krakbrayn by Torsten Krol – tells the story of Tagg, a young World Trade Center bombing orphan, who wakes up in New York City to find his brain has been hijacked.

Dystopian

The Future King: Logres by M.L. Makworth Praed – Britain, 2052. In a world of war, disease and hunger the UK stands alone as a beacon of prosperity under an all-powerful ruling party. Life at new school Logres seems promising for fifteen-year-old Gwenhwyfar, and quickly she falls for the school’s handsome catch, Arthur. Realising that behind the UK’s prosperity lies unspeakable cruelty, Gwenhwyfar sets off on a path to dismantle everything the government stands for.

Romance

The Sinners’ Club by D.W. Plato – In the town of Pleasant, one young man will challenge faith itself for the woman he loves. Gaius Stewart is handsome, smart and charismatic. Elizabeth Anderson is beautiful, selfless and caring. There’s only one problem: he’s a self-proclaimed Pagan, and she’s a devoted member of The Church of Latter Day Saints.

The End of Hatred by Rachel Hefner – Slayer Princess Miranda, heir to the throne, has hated the Vampyres for a thousand years. When a female Vampyre washes up on the shore of her compound’s riverbank, she seizes the moment to take the offensive. Sathan, King of the Vampyres, distraught at his sister’s disappearance and captivity, agrees to travel with Miranda to resect the Blade of Pestilence, also hoping to change his people’s state of endless war.

My Northanger Abbey by Jenni James – Kathryn Morland is determined to escape the hardship of watching her mother’s decline with Alzheimer’s. Her plan is to write a modern version of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey. It’s not until Heath Finnegan walks into the bookshop where she works that she realizes how horrible her book is. Well, maybe not the whole book—just the hero.

The Color of God’s Eyes by Christina BarrCharlotte, purchased by Lady Cohen, a widow newly married to a plantation owner in Mississippi, is tasked with taking care of her son, John, not realising that he’s been tasked with observing her for any unique abilities. The two grow secretly in romance, but their future together is threatened when John’s loyalty to his father and the South is called into question.

Glue by D.W. Plato – Dacia thinks she’s escaping a miserable life with her emotionally abusive husband only to get caught up in a world filled with meth and sex. Her out-of- control lifestyle leads her into more than one sexual encounter with a variety of men. A friend with benefits turns into something more. A handsome sex addict’s fantasies take her to the brink of out-of- control passion. And Christopher, a man who is boy-next-door charming, cute and good to her who will do anything to get Dacia to give him a chance.

Coming of Age

What Friends Do by C.E. Shields – If you entrust your identity to your only friend, how do you grow up to be yourself? When self-doubting Debbie meets confident Antoinette in 1980s suburban New Zealand, her adolescent worries seem to be over. But while their connection deepens into adulthood, joy and aspiration increasingly compete with insidious jealousy.

The Light in the Sound by V.G. Anderson – character-driven and often comical story of a spirited young woman, Rachel Richardson, who works in a porn shop in Seattle. Her estranged family lives a thousand miles away, and she has a bunch of wretched friends. Rachel is tired of walking through life half asleep—literally and figuratively because she also suffers from night terrors. Her sense of disconnection from family, work, and friends grows, resulting in her attempting to cut all ties, turn inward, and numb herself emotionally. Ultimately, in the wake of losing everything—yet again—Rachel is forced to discover how many times one person can start over before self-destructing.

Where Do You Go To by Jean Cerfontaine – When the young Marie-Claire wakes up in Rome, she has no idea who she is or how she got there. Her tale of adversity starts in the biting cold, her past unknown and her future uncertain. Our heroine gets adopted from the Marcigliana orphanage by a French diplomat, initiating a journey of self-discovery across post-World War II Europe.

Pitching for Sanity by Mike Reuther – Bill Barrister is riddled with almost crippling anxiety, the kind of nervous condition that prevents him from having any kind of normal life. Once a teenage pitching phenom, he finds temporary calm and comfort from throwing a baseball every day in the backyard of his boyhood home where he lives after spending twenty years in the military. When a free-spirited boyhood friend lures him on a cross-country road trip, Bill is sprung from the malaise of his small town existence and off on a reluctant journey of self-discovery and of his past.

Baseball Dreams, Fishing Magic by Mike Reuther – A baseball player, a fisherman – a young man looking for answers. Perhaps no pursuits stir the passions of dreamers and poets like baseball and fly fishing. For Nick Grimes, a small town kid with big dreams, these two pastimes and sports are more than pursuits of the soul, they are means to an end. Or so he thinks.

True Crime

Notra Dame by Jacqueline Evans – Discover the true story of a woman trying to make sense of a mysterious world. She suppressed what came naturally to her but a pivotal moment in her mid-twenties opened a door. The depth of knowledge that ensued began to snowball, leading her to predict global events and high-profile murder investigations.

Thriller

Lost Girls: A Novel by Caitlyn Grey – At 24-years-old, Felicity Walker’s seemingly average life was anything but that. She had endured enough heartache and life-altering events for one lifetime. With the help of Heather, her best friend, Felicity was able to get a grip on the mental health issues that kept her captive for years. She then found a a missing person poster that wore her name and that day’s date.

Living Nightmare by D.M. Dore – Night after night in the fourth-floor ward of the Mendwell Institute, Tobin Blake awakens screaming from nightmares of gruesome deaths and tortured souls. Therapy isn’t helping, the drugs aren’t helping, and lately the nightmares are getting worse. When a new doctor and his hypnotist colleague arrive promising breakthroughs, most patients are relieved, but Tobin senses something deeper is amiss.Now a stranger is hiding cryptic clues and suspicious newspaper clippings beneath her pillow, and when the nightly visions begin leaving bruises and scars on her waking body, Tobin must fight to retain what’s left of her sanity.

Room 119: The Whitby Trader by T.F. Lince – High-flying trader Dean Harrison has it all – the London penthouse apartment; the fast car; the beautiful wife. But when the threads of Dean’s life start to unravel, they do so with alarming speed.Following the advice of a frail stranger, Dean sets off for Welnetham Hall Hotel and is plunged into the mysterious world of Room 119 – a world where nothing makes sense.

A Haunted Past by April Kennedy – Angie Conaty, has long suffered from a reoccurring nightmare. The same one she’s had since childhood. As an adult the dreams come far less frequently, due to her demanding public relations position, in the Toronto based reality television station, Gottchaon TV. Her boss – an entitled rich manchild – elects Angie to be the assistant director for his new show, Sustainable. Flying her out to British Columbia, where her dreams become hallucinations, and they come vividly, while she is fully lucid, and working with the handsome and rugged Max Murphy, Sustainable’s leading man!

Little Mickey: The Novel by David Matthew Bennett – During a power cut, the Detectives of Oswestry Police Station, finally catch the serial killer, they’ve been hunting for 15 months. He’s clearly unstable, and they’re against the clock to get the answers they so badly need before his solicitor has him committed.

Werewolf Nights by Mari Hamill – Threatened by financial ruin, widowed bakery owner Catherine Mercy leads a solitary life with more interest in reading about werewolf lore than in finding a man. Her now deceased husband kept her trapped in the house claiming that a werewolf might hunt her down. Already in her thirties, Catherine feels ridiculous trying to become an actress, but lands the leading role.

Historical Fiction

The Quest for the Sun God’s Tomb by C.J. Evans – Retired Lieutenant Willie Abrams is enjoying the Cuban sun in 1921. Just him and his friend, retired Sergeant Banesfeld run their bar in peace, while selling a little rum to mainland prohibition USA. There’s also a young girl which Abrams has taken under his wing from the war who helps them out. Then one day when an old girlfriend comes around asking for his help, she unexpectedly gets kidnapped. Abrams is thus sent on an adventure towards a tomb in ways he did not expect, while dealing with prohibition gang politics.

Lucan by Christine Duts – Reclusive Lucan now tells it all. There are no more secrets; and his past is no longer shrouded in mystery. We are introduced to his wife, Althea, and his beloved sister, Claudia. The tragedies that plagued him in mortal life are now out in the open, unleashed from his cross of burden.

Antonius: Son of Rome by Brook Allen – After young Marcus Antonius’s father dies in disgrace, he yearns to restore his family’s honor during the final days of Rome’s dying Republic. Marcus is rugged, handsome, and owns abundant military talent, but upon entering manhood, he falls prey to the excesses of a violent society. His whoring, gambling, and drinking eventually reap dire consequences. Through a series of personal tragedies, Marcus must come into his own through blood, blades, and death.

The Lord Poet by Megan FranksMeet Lord Edmund Troy, a carefree aristocrat and renowned poet in Victorian-era London. Idolized by the masses for his charisma and dashing good looks, he finds himself in the sights of wealthy socialite Agatha and her cousin Catrina.

Sci-Fi

Symbiosis in Seattle: A Novella by Sutherland Staatz, Eric BergWhile walking home from what initially seemed like a routine suicide cleanup, Tammy Metz stumbles upon the aftermath of a bloody assault involving performance art and a syringe. The P.I. Amy Lamb, exhausted from her obsession to solve her missing brother’s cold case and bored with snapping photos of cheating husbands, receives a call about a husband who might be stepping out on himself. And C.J. Crow, a homeless teen that sees blue as often as he sees red. He has answers that everyone desperately needs.

Quarton: The Bridge by Ian Hornett – Fen, a young scavenger surviving in the ruins of London, finds an unusual stone – the quarton, one of the building blocks from the Garial Bridge destroyed 5000 years previously. Its strange pulse pulls her in, forcing her to question not only the past, but her whole purpose in a world with no meaning. She is not the only one. There are others who have been sucked in, all of them with equally confusing pasts, all of them with conflicting motives… and all of them desperate to get their hands on the block.

Star Chaser: The Traveler: Beyond The Outer Rim by Reiter – Z’Gunok Tel Dungias, an enigmatic member of a noble house of Malgovi. Despite representing the newest generation of a truly fascinating race, Dungias lacks the mystic power possessed by his ancestors; the ability to summon IRO energy, and forge the world around them as they see fit. His failings as a Malgovi have left him an outcast, an outsider, and convinced that his destiny lies elsewhere in the universe.

The Starhawk Chronicles by Joseph J. Madden – The year is 2283. Though more than a quarter-century has passed since the end of the last war, the Galactic Confederation is still busy picking up the pieces. Whole sectors of the galaxy remain lawless, rife with corruption and greed. The criminal element has a well-established foothold on these sectors. It is a good time to be a bounty hunter. Jesse Forster and the crew of the STARHAWK are some of the best bounty hunters in the business.

Crystal and Flint by Holly Ash – It’s been 300 years since humans arrived on Neophia and the planet’s intelligent species have yet to agree on how much influence humans and their advanced technology should have on the planet. With the threat of war hanging in the air, Lieutenant Commander Crystal Wolf races to finish construction of the mega submarine, Journey, in order to calm political tensions on Neophia and cement her already stellar military career.

Pandora’s Box by Nathan Marchand – Cadet Brewer is a military brat living in a “perfect” world. Or so it seems, until the oppressed Camp Countries’ leader, the Overlord, unleashes a deadly virus and changes the balance of power. Consumed by vengeance, Brewer vows to fight the Overlord’s New Order and volunteers to defend the last remaining stockpile of WMDs. But the base is attacked and Brewer, as the only survivor, unwittingly becomes the sole protector of Project: Pandora’s Box.

Child of Humanity by Dr. Alyse N. Steves – “My name was Allyson Owens. It isn’t anymore, but it was back then. I was a daughter. I was a sister. Most importantly, I was supposed to be a friend. By the time I realized that I wasn’t, it was too late. This is the story of how we not only failed those we swore to protect, but how, in our darkest moments, when we fell into shadows that we couldn’t see, we had to be shown the light.”

Ghosts of San Francisco by Mord McGhee – In the year 2185, reality is a terrifyingly ugly place. The only time teenage Rigs feels alive is when she’s breaking heads as a member of Poseidon’s Angels, feared San Francisco biker gang. Rigs has devoted her life to violence and getting ahead in the world within the world’s societal confines—add in technological ghosts haunting the world as digital astral projections capable of all-things including murder.

Action & Adventure

The Melankholia Effect by Ace Layton – The city of Melankholia. A shadowy sub-world, full of monsters and misery. Not everything is terrible, though. People are generally nice, and they’ve recently come in to having their own sun. The new abundance of light, and the plants that followed it, are a nice change from the dark and dreary world that most shades grew up in. Lola recalls the way it used to be. She remembers the endless gray skies, lighter in the day and darker at night but always present. Now they have sunrises and sunsets and stars. Considering what little else has changed, it’s actually kind of nice.

The Unnamed Bears Favor by J. Lyon Laden – Mythical China, 9000 B.C.E. A nameless outcast is summoned by the village priestess to undergo his initiation into the Rik-Sika, a band of hunter-assassins. To earn his place, he must travel with them to the ruins of his people’s stronghold, which sits on a plateau near the roof of the world. On the perilous journey, he encounters restless ghosts, giant man-bears, and the dreaded ogres who rule the mountains. Faced with unimaginable odds, the unnamed discovers his true origins and with it, a powerful secret buried by generations long ago. Armed with dark knowledge, the boy must choose between his life and the fate of his people.

El Dorado and the Amazon by Ruth Elliot-Smith – The allure and power of gold draws Alex Cavanagh, failed international mining magnate, to Colombia to revive his fortunes. He finds a dangerous land of anarchy, uncharted jungle and warring drug barons. With him is Frederica Allsop, newly divorced, emotionally and mentally scarred from a mysterious past but determined to fulfil her life’s ambition to see the Amazon River. Their passionate affair threatens to destroy them both and if it doesn’t, the cocaine cartel will!

Poetry

Devolution by Ami Sanghvi – Based off Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy [and written in old-world verse], it’s about Heaven, Hell, Earth, God, Satan, and human morality.

Lost in Quatrain by Adiela Akoo – A diverse collection of original poems about this curiously crazy experience called life.

The End of the Rainbow by Geetha Krishnan – A book of poems on life, nature and personal experiences.

KidLit

Meet ClaraBelle Blue by Adiba Nelson – one of the most diverse children’s books on the market. Sharing the message of inclusion, and helping children see that regardless of having a disability, all kids want and need the same thing – play and love.

Life in Your World by Anj Cairns – Sketch, a light-infused energy, loves the boy Matt. she watches him from the Core and wishes she could be part of his world.Sent out from the Core for training in the human world of North London, Sketch seizes the opportunity to prove herself, and show Matt how she feels.If she fails to learn what it’s like to be a human, she will be trapped in the outer world forever.

Agent 603: The Teddy Files by Tabitha Bell – Agent 603 embarks on his first adventure as a Teddy Seal secret agent. His mission is to locate the whereabouts of his assigned human’s (Amy’s) leopard. Is her closet that messy? Or is something more sinister lurking in the dark?

Taste of You, Taste of Me by Sarah D’Anne – The saying, “Opposites attract” almost works for this story. Crystal knows what she needs, but does she really want it? She gets the chance to find out when a young man knocks on her door. What will she do when the opportunity to change her life is sitting in her living room?

Rescue the Night by John Stuhl – A delightful story of the young girl Thompson Lee and the mysterious Sandman. Thompson, her sister Lily Conner and their best friend Carly Elise follow the Sandman on adventures into the night sky, where they find fun, mysteries and danger. With their special gifts, and help from unexpected sources, the girls seek answers to the most threatening problem of the night – vanishing dreams.

Non Fiction

Mother of Millennials by Kathryn Mortimer – Mortimer thought she had it all worked out when she became a mother. It turns out she didn’t. Looking back, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion she could have done better. Her big mistake? It’s not easy for her to admit, but the truth is she was blinded by expectation. This book is her attempt to make amends. To say sorry to her daughters for her inadequacies, and to allow them to share their own stories. Harriet talks about her quarter life crisis, and how it helped her escape from unfulfilling work and relationships. While Sally’s honest account of her mental health problems.

Literally Unbelievable by Bronwyn Harris – Harris was a new teacher thrust into a classroom in Oakland, California’s “Killing Zone.” Her teacher preparation classes had not covered making child abuse reports, teaching traumatized children, or keeping a class calm during a lockdown. This book chronicles the ups and downs of the students she taught, as well as the toll this work took on her personally.

O-B*TCH-UARY by Ticia Rani – “Hi, my name is Olivia Carpenter and this is my hair raising, lumpy, bumpy journey. Wanna come? Sure, you do. There’re laughs, fist fights, bra burning parties, nasty drama filled girl snits, baby showers, and death. Let’s not forget that part. Come on, grab a coffee, tea, wine- Oh! Wine, *sigh* Anyway, have a seat and get comfy cuz I have a story to tell.”

Female Badassery On Game of Thrones: Margaery Tyrell

I feel like she is so slept on as a character and I would loved to have seen more of her. She is smart, determined and stunning, so if you don’t already love her then I will be doing my best to convince you otherwise.

On first opinions, when Margaery came in a sly smirk on her face, I immediately did not trust her.

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However, that quickly changed when her true colours were shown — that she want “to be the queen”. I loved her for it, by all accounts it can be perceived as cheesy and it is not a noble cause. But the girl knows what she wants and she is going for it. That I can respect.

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We see that she is not dimwitted and very aware of the people around her. First seen when she offers to bring her brothers lover (her brother, Loras) in the bedroom. She knew Renly was gay and did not care. She knew she was happy to do all it took to achieve her goal.

Then when it went to shit, she got the fuck outta there.

Her plan changed to where she could achieve her goals, because that is where loyalties lie. Not to a house or to a saying but to yourself.

When she came to have some influence, she helped the poor and in turn, gained the love of the people. People will argue with this — as she may have done it for her own personal gain, nevertheless however, she did it. She did good.

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Cersei had every right to be scared of Margaery, who fits the bill of “someone younger an more beautiful”. She not only gained the approval of the people but managed to manipulate Joffrey. Played him like a fiddle, or used him like a crossbow, if you will.

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She had a great relationship with her family. Her and Olenna (Queen!) spoke about things you wouldn’t expect such as how Olenna used her feminine wiles to gain her husband, we see where Margaery gets it from.

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She also made nice with Sansa (which you know I appreciate from my last blog post). She gave her, not only a friend, but also an escape route. Sansa was alone and scared but now she can dream of Highgarden, away from Joffrey. That sisterhood, even if she gained something, was kind.

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Even when Sansa could not be her sister-in-law, she still provided her solace. Reminded her of who Tyrion was, except just a Lannister. Proving once again that she was not an innocent girl.

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The look of disgust she gave Joffrey perfectly matched the viewers at home.

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She then managed to marry a King for the third time. Expertly reading and manipulating Tommen, in a manner completely different to how she did with Joffrey.

Once again she was super accepting of her brother but scolded him when he was not being smart.

She sasses Cersei. On multiple occasions. AND did it with a smile on her face.

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Now, we move into the High Sparrow debacle. Margaery was taken prisoner, like Loras (and for him) but when he was beaten and broken, she was not, still managing to sass Cersei in her weakened state. Protecting her family was her number 1 priority, she would not sell out her brother.

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She continued her expert manipulation, with the high sparrow. She didn’t need a man’s help to leave, even if that man was the king. And left with her robes very much intact, unlike another Queen we know.

Even when we thought she had bent her will, we get this subtle reminder of how strong and determined she is — family comes first.

Finally with a heavy heart I must mention this. In her final scene, she was the first to realise that Cersei was up to something. When she was dismissed, she died holding her brother.

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Total vanity bonus: the banging outfits.

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Female Badassery on Game of Thrones: Sansa Stark

There are plenty of examples of women not being treated right on Game of Thrones but this is not that kind of post. I will be talking about two specific women I love but I feel like get a bad rep. [I have genuinely been defending her with all my strength,]

Yes, Arya is not on this. This due to her being everyone’s favourite and the thick plot armour she possesses, therefore making her kind of boring to me now.

Sansa Sassqueen Stark

There is a stigma around femininity; feminine qualities and liking feminine things is weak often perceived as weak. Further perpetuating the women hating women cliche. Sansa is a Lady, who likes all the pretty things along with all that this title holds, she grows to see the flaws in her idealised thinking but still holds true to being a woman.

Besides her name, she is not extraordinary in any way. She is not trained to be a faceless man, she is not the princess who was promised and does not have dragons. She is by every definition of the word ordinary, yet she has survived in a world that wants her dead, eventually rising to a leader.

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There are only so few characters who can have such a subtle development over the seasons. She starts of as a child, a spoilt naive child, who honestly I hated because she said shit like this:

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Despite the red flags and warnings, she still wanted this. Her dreams were quickly taken away and when she was no more than a child begged for her father’s life and was close to organising a plea deal for him. When tragedy hit even harder she still came back with some zingy one-liners but not bad enough to get her killed.

Credits to this amazing thread: https://www.reddit.com/r/freefolk/comments/b3yl5j/i_dont_think_sansa_gets_enough_credit_for_sassing/

She used the “Joffrey is my one true love” line and it is what kept her alive.

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She dealt with a lot of abuse from Joffrey, Merrel and Cersei but was resilient. When she met Margaery, she took to her like a sister and once again, dreamed of marrying her prince (Loras). There was plenty wrong with that set up and yes, it may even be stupid for her to have hope, but I think it speaks volumes. She is still kind to people and led to saving Dontos’ life. She has compassion, a quality which often time is shunned.

The two major issues I had after this point was (1) her treatment of Tyrion and (2) why she didn’t go with the hound when she could escape. These can be justified upon further thought.

  1. As far as we the audience know, Tyrion is not a bad guy. However to her he is another Lannister, a scheming bunch who so far have been terrible to her. Despite this, they did grow to have an understanding and a mutual respect.
  2. As much as she feared Joffrey and King’s Landing, there were lines that people could not cross due to her influence. Cersei is fundamentally a bad person but Sansa knew what she would and would not do. She knew nothing of Sandor and feared him, which is understandable. She knows what he is capable of and even if he would never hurt her, he can not guarantee her safety

What I like as well is that for a long time Sansa was still a brat, her development was a slow burn, which is shown more later. She is still a brat, especially to Shae, but once again they started to have a pretty good relationship.

Finally, when Sansa had a real opportunity to escape she took it. Again, judgement-wise she was not smart for trusting Dontos but she sure as hell didn’t trust Petyr Baelish.

Up to this point, she has been observing everyone. She even knows Cersei better than Tyrion and has learnt by observing Tyrion how to survive by using your brain. The same goes for Baelish.

When Lysa died, she had no problem concocting a story to ensure her survival. She knew what she was doing. She came back ready to slay.

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However, this lead to her only facing a hell worse than the one she just escaped. I’m not going to get into what she endured but focus on her escape. She ESCAPED hell. Again. And it was no easy feat but she never gave up.

Then she forgave Theon.

Once again, she is ready to kick ass. She is the one who wanted to take the North because as she said no one is safe as long as Ramsay is around. Further proven when he kidnaps Rickon, who Sansa wants to save.

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Also when Jon agreed to fight for their home, he ignored her battle plan which is much better than his. Further showing that she is much smarter than everyone gives her credit for.

She was finally grown up enough to make amends.

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When hope was lost, she saved the Jon and was the victor. She won the battle of the bastards.

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This line doesn’t hold up well because of the circumstances in which she says it but she is not wrong.

She played Baelish like a pro then delivered her most iconic line.

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In the latest season, she’s the only one calling out Jon. stating that the people of the North made them their king and he gave it to Danaerys purely because he loves her.

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She also was ready to give the loyal families a reward but Jon didn’t listen to her and surprise surprise — they betrayed them once more.

She has shown she knows how to be a Warden of the North, ensuring that armour is being made properly, rations are given out and ensuring that people get rest before going into another battle. She cares about the North and the people.

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Finally, as pandering as I thought this was, she knows how to rock a crown.

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