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I wonder (Friday Fictioneers)

PHOTO PROMPT © Amanda Forestwood

At the bottom of the stairs was a door.

An ordinary door as doors go.

What was different was that this door had no frame around it. Or walls. It was just a door. At the bottom of the stairs.

The was also a lock, located just under the round brass handle.

Why would you need a lock when you could just walk around the door?

Unless… The door led to something.

Each day I stood at the top of the stairs and pondered the door.

One day, I walked down the stairs and turned the handle. It wasn’t locked.

This is a Friday Fictioneers prompt

You can read more FF prompt responses here

Word count: 100

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© solothefirst. All Rights to the works and publications on this blog are owned and copyrighted by Solothefirst. The Owner of this site reserves all permissions for access and use of all documents on this site.


“A Land Alive” Exhibition

This year I took part in “A Land Alive!”

A virtual exhibition of collaborations with visual artists, writers and other creatives.

This exhibition features two of my pieces of prose in response to stunningly beautiful artwork prompts. You can watch the video of the premiere below. Thank you to the amazing @PhDancersTeapot for running this glorious exhibition. (And I narrate my pieces too – so that’s my Aussie accent you can hear).

The exhibition video will remain available at for anyone who wasn’t able to make it for the premiere.

Review: Not Dead Yet by Hayley Walsh

About the Book:

Recently widowed Mary feels something needs to change, but she is not sure what ? She decides to sell her home in Sydney, and move to a retirement village in sunny Queensland. Mary has always enjoyed her own company and struggles with the many personalities she encounters in the village. There are two things Mary won’t tolerate. Idiots, and nasty women. Unfortunately for her, the village is full of them. Has Mary made a mistake, or will she find something wonderful?

My thoughts:

This is a lovely story about growing old.

Poor Mary is left alone in her big old house when her husband of many many years passes away. She is feeling her age and the loneliness that hits upon being newly widowed. She knows she is reliant on her daughter to take her shopping and is feeling rather like a burden on her adult children. She also has the neighbor from hell. A nosy bossy woman named Gertrude who simply will not leave poor Mary alone. To escape the cold, the loneliness, her annoying neighbor, and the encroaching feeling of becoming a burden, Mary moves to a retirement village in Queensland to be closer to her best friend from her childhood. But the village is full of personalities of the not so pleasant variety. Bullies don’t just enter our lives at school or in the workplace. It seems even in old age we cannot escape them. There are also shocking secrets that are uncovered.

This story of growing older and coming to terms with our fragility. It is interspersed with memories of Mary’s childhood, adolescence, friendships and first loves. There are a few surprises along the way, new friends, old friends, some shocks and a bit of sadness. This is a beautiful story. An easy read that travels at a cracking pace. I loved it.

Review: The Innovator: (WaterFyre Rising Book 3) by Nadia Han

About the Book:

She is the irritation that turns his heart inside out.

Sharp, gorgeous, and skeptical, Grayson Wu is a top-notch architect who has built impenetrable walls around his unstable heart due to a betrayal he can’t soon forget. When an irritatingly beautiful woman threatens his foundation, he struggles to let her break down his barrier.

To resurrect his soul.
To reconstruct his heart.
To reset his life.

Determined, elegant, and versatile, Natalie Chapelle has courageously taken a city job well below her pay grade to save her family’s legacy. Though adaptable, she finds it hard to work with the arrogant and innovative designer who makes her want and hate him at the same time. When the tension between them snaps, she is tossed into his complex world, revealing more than she expected.

A man with more depth than the sea.
A mind more brilliant than the sun.
A lover more skillful than a surgeon.

As their romance builds, danger and dark secrets unfold that drive Grayson to sacrifice his heart in order to save the woman he loves.

The Innovator is an enemies-to-lovers, hidden identity, forced proximity, billionaire hero, and a suspenseful contemporary romance. It is Book Three in the WaterFyre Rising series but can be read as a standalone.

Caution: This book contains sexual content, profanity, and violence. Recommended for 18+

My thoughts:

Another fabulous instalment in the WaterFyre Rising series and another terrific Romance by Nadia Han. This one is an enemies to lovers story, and who doesn’t love that!

The tension between the two main characters, Grayson and Natalie, is hot and gripping. Natalie’s family business is in trouble. To discover why and to hopefully fix things, she has to look into the secret surrounding her father’s mysterious gift to her. She is forced to work in close proximity with a clever, sexy, confident man who taunts her like no other. His presence burrows into her head and into her heart. Grayson is the third of a male friendship group to discover the hidden truth about the dark mystery he and his friends experienced as children. He is also determined to discover the ownership of the building he needs to acquire for his newest business venture. It brings him into close proximity with a beautiful, strong-willed woman who refuses to fall at his feet and who draws his focus like no other. Their separate investigations bring them together time and again until the sparks between them flame into an inferno that will change their lives. A fun, sexy romance. Can be read as a stand alone or as part of a series. A terrific holiday read.

A shared meal (Friday Fictioneers)


It was dinner time at the local human settlement. Abby was helping the Johns to make dinner.

“It’s just John, love. Not Johns.”

Abby scowled, blinking her three eyes in sequence.

He just stared.

Abby sighed.

He didn’t get her signal. She was annoyed but not angrily so.

Stupid humans. They needed more limbs to speak properly. Everything they ever said lacked social cues and emotional meaning. So simplistic.

Moms said they didn’t understand because they didn’t have enough intelligence to express themselves properly.

“It smells,” she complained.

Johns … no John laughed. “Oranges are for after.”

Sweet last? Weird.

This is a Friday Fictioneers Prompt

You can read more FF prompt responses here

Word count: 100

Success! You're on the list.

© solothefirst. All Rights to the works and publications on this blog are owned and copyrighted by Solothefirst. The Owner of this site reserves all permissions for access and use of all documents on this site.

Breathe (Friday Fictioneers)

PHOTO PROMPT © Jennifer Pendergast

To settle her nerves after the frantic escape, Mama Cherry handed her a large book and some coloured pens. “Darling child, go sit in front of the fire. Make pretty pictures. I will talk to your uncles. You are safe here.”

Teena nodded and took the books from the elven woman, collapsing by the low flames. Distracted, she stared into the glass and watched the fire dance. Eventually, she flipped the pages and chose blue. Behind her, she heard the rumble of her saviours and the woman who called herself mama. Teena breathed slowly and created, safe for the moment.

This is a Friday Fictioneers Prompt

You can read more FF prompt responses here

Word count: 100

Who and why? (Friday Fictioneers)

PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

The works sprung up as if overnight. Buildings, stations, stadiums, bridges, roads… every plain surface was targeted. But who was behind the works of art? Who could possibly do so much and not be seen in this day and age of technology, social media and widespread CCTV coverage.

It became wild speculation on every device. People went out with phone cameras held aloft, hoping to spot the culprits. But after the first spate of colorful appearances there was nothing but silence.

But little Jonny knew.

He’d spotted pointy ears, translucent wings and tiny paint brushes. He smiled but said nothing.

This is a Friday Fictioneers Prompt

You can read more FF prompt responses here

Word count: 100

Success! You're on the list.

© solothefirst. All Rights to the works and publications on this blog are owned and copyrighted by Solothefirst. The Owner of this site reserves all permissions for access and use of all documents on this site.

Review: Echo of the Evercry by E. J. Dawson

About the Book:

The cost of magic has never been clearer.

Larissa’s inability to kill is a disgrace to her absent mother, Sword Matriarch of the Fair Lady’s order, a sisterhood whose purpose is to hunt down sorcerers corrupted by the Evercry and slay them. But Larissa hides an even more sinful secret: she is drawn toward magic, and it grows stronger in her every day.

Larissa keeps a stranglehold on her gift until the day of her graduation test, when her misuse of magic leads her to failure. Prepared to be cast out of the sisterhood, she is instead brought into the scorned caste of the darkkins, those who study and wield magic in the fight against the Evercry. In their halls she discovers that her proclivity for magic makes her powerful, and a little dangerous.

Gone for years, her mother suddenly sends word that she needs help to defeat a formidable sorcerer, help only Larissa can give. Larissa will do anything to save her mother, even travel with the girl who bullied her all through school. But as they battle monsters and mercenaries, Larissa must grapple with dark truths about the sisterhood and her heritage, and decide who she can really trust with her mother’s fate…and her own.

My thoughts:

Wow, this is an epic fantasy. An action filled adventure of high stakes with a full cast of female characters.

I loved every minute of this story.

The worldbuilding is glorious. This novel is such a unique and wholly new concept. The knights of the Fair Lady birth daughters to continue the fight to serve the Fair Lady in the endless battle against the Evercry. These girls train relentlessly and violently to become knights worthy of the Fair Lady. And what they are destined to fight is the darkness created by the use of magic. For magic leads to the Evercry. Generations of knights have fought their Evercry until one lives and one dies. Larissa is destined to become a knight. But she is also drawn to knowledge and magic. But magic, even a little of it, can corrupt. On the day of her graduation Larissa’s destiny comes crashing down. A new destiny is decided. One that Larissa finds she is far more suited to. Then her missing mother sends word that she needs Larissa’s help.

Determined to help her mother, Larissa must travel with the bully who nearly killed her to battle monsters, mercenaries and hidden betrayers to discover the truth about her family. And that truth might very well destroy her.

The history, the intricate worldbuilding, the magic, and the monsters are so well designed and described in this story by E.J. Dawson. This story feels epic and enormous and yet it flows effortlessly. It is thoroughly engaging. Larissa and her friends, her enemies and her teachers are so well drawn and layered with detail they feel wholly real. The depth of these characters lies in the subtle dripping of betrayals, lies, truths, secrets, love, honour, loyalty, strength, trust, hate, anger and desire as the characters learn and grow and change. What do you fight for? What will you kill for? This is a brilliant novel. Fans of high fantasy crossed with epic military fantasy will love this tale. I sure hope there is more to come.

Review: The Red Scholar’s Wake by Aliette de Bodard

About the Book:

Xích Si: bot maker, data analyst, mother, scavenger. But those days are over now-her ship has just been captured by the Red Banner pirate fleet, famous for their double-dealing and cruelty. Xích Si expects to be tortured to death-only for the pirates’ enigmatic leader, Rice Fish, to arrive with a different and shocking proposition: an arranged marriage between Xích Si and herself.

Rice Fish: sentient ship, leader of the infamous Red Banner pirate fleet, wife of the Red Scholar. Or at least, she was the latter before her wife died under suspicious circumstances. Now isolated and alone, Rice Fish wants Xích Si’s help to find out who struck against them and why. Marrying Xích Si means Rice Fish can offer Xích Si protection, in exchange for Xích Si’s technical fluency: a business arrangement with nothing more to it.

But as the investigation goes on, Rice Fish and Xích Si find themselves falling for each other. As the interstellar war against piracy intensifies and the five fleets start fighting each other, they will have to make a stand-and to decide what kind of future they have together…

My thoughts:

I love a great scifi and I love Aliette de Bodard’s work. Sentient Spaceship love! Spaceships who have lives and artificial forms to interact with the humans who work and live on board them. And a pirate sentient spaceship? Fabulous. A pirate spaceship that needs a new wife? There are so many layers to this story. Xich Si is a scavenger who is captured by pirates. Rather than the death she expects she is offered a different choice. To marry for protection. Rice Fish is the leader of the Red Banner pirate fleet. She can protect Xich Si in exchange for her technical skills. But the life of a pirate is one of constant danger. There is betrayal and love and more betrayal in this story. The pirate banners are working at cross purposes and the government is after them. Betrayal will come from an unexcepted source. A romance will rise and fall. Battles abound and potential death lies around every corner. Xich Si has a child she must save. Rice Fish’s child is full of anger. When the attack begins decisions must be made or all is lost. Another fabulous scifi story from a wonderful author. Loved it.

Review: Harriet Hound by Kate Foster. Illustrated by Sophie Beer

About the Book:

The world’s happiest and most dog-friendly superhero is here! A brand new adventure for junior readers from Kate Foster.

Meet Harriet Hound. She’s eight years old and loves dogs!

But Harriet has something else that makes her super … the power to summon the dogs from her family’s rescue shelter every time there’s trouble afoot.

Whether it’s a carnival catastrophe, a sudden storm, or vanishing vegetables, Harriet and her best dog friends use their super special talents and problem-solving skills to save the day!

My Thoughts:

Oh this is just so so wonderful to read. A joyous children’s chapter book full of magic and amazingly helpful rescue hounds and Harriet – an 8 year old magical superhero who is able to continually save the day.

The pictures throughout this chapter book are stunning and fun, and really suit the wonderful writing style with text that will just grab the attention of younger readers.

Harriet is autistic and a magical superhero. She is able to save the day with her magical powers and her super helpful four legged friends. Harriet stims, she wears headphones and has sensitivity to loud sounds and lights and has a need to be super prepared for new events and paths, but she is also incredibly brave, always thinking of how she can help others and is able to save the day time and time again. Harriet is a wonderful main character and I want to read more about her and her adventures. And I love that Harriet also helps her four legged friends find new families. Even though it makes her sad to lose them from the rescue shelter she knows they will be happy with their new found families and that their new found families will be happier too.

This is a terrific read for younger children who have autism, who have autistic friends they want to read about and understand a little more about or for families and the wider community to help them see into the extraordinary minds of such children. It is such a positive book. It’s also a terrific read for younger children who want a pet – there is some great advice about caring for pets and really thinking about the right animal traits that will suit families and their lifestyles. I loved every second of these magical tales. It is a great early reader for 6-10 year olds to read on their own as they develop and strengthen their reading skills or for younger ones to read together with their parents. I wish I had Harriet’s magic pajamas! I think this is a fabulous book and should be read by as many children as possible!

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