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The great move (Friday Fictioneers)

PHOTO PROMPT © Ted Strutz

When the planet was invaded we thought we’d be killed. Wiped out. Slaughtered. Turns out, was nothing of the sort. I mean, sure, they conscripted a few million into their armies, replaced the politicians (no great loss there – no one cried) but then, well, they mostly left the rest of us in peace.

The exodos from the main cities began in earnest. No one wanted to live near the new landlords so to speak. Gramps loaded up the old place and joined the convoy. “Headin to the hills.”

“And then?” I asked.

“We’ll figure something out, long as we’re together.”

This is a Friday Fictioneers Prompt

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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 matter of time (Friday Fictioneers)

PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

“Tis a bit wet, George.”

“Indeed, Mildred, my love.”

“What’s the plan for lunch then?”

“Do you think it will pass?”

“Does it look like it will? We need another plan.”

“I take it the walk is off after then?”

“Really dear, you want to go out in that? We’ll catch our death.”

“Lunch and a walk. Every year on our anniversary. Seventy years. Sod the rain. As long as I’m with you all is good.”

“Oh love. Hold my hand.”

Standing at the door, she leans her head into his shoulder and they wait for the rain to stop.

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.

Australian Book Lovers Podcast – Interview with Laurie Bell

I did a podcast!

Have you visited the Australian Book Lovers website yet? If you haven’t – jump on it. It’s a celebration of Australian Writers and their books created by the fabulous Veronica Strachan and Darren Kasenkow. There is so much to see and do at the website! It is updated regularly and I have a page or two about my books. My YA fantasy series The Stones of Power: The Butterfly Stone and The Tiger’s Eye (pubbed by Wyvern’s Peak Publishing) also my sci fi White Fire: A Toni Delle Adventure and collection of short stories The Good, the Bad and the Undecided.

Listen to the podcast now – Episode 9 https://www.australianbooklovers.com/podcast

Have a listen to me rambling about my books, writing, pop culture and everything in between. If you haven’t heard me speak before yes I am that enthusiastic about stuff in real life! hahaha

Visit https://www.australianbooklovers.com/ and support Aussie writers!

Review: Priest of Gallows (War for the Rose Throne) by Peter McLean

About the book:

Gangster, soldier, priest. Queen’s Man. Governor.

Tomas Piety has everything he ever wanted. In public he’s a wealthy, highly respected businessman, happily married to a beautiful woman and governor of his home city of Ellinburg. In private, he’s no longer a gang lord, head of the Pious Men, but one of the Queen’s Men, invisible and officially non-existent, working in secret to protect his country.

The queen’s sudden death sees him summoned him back to the capital – where he discovers his boss, Dieter Vogel, Provost Marshal of the Queen’s Men, is busy tightening his stranglehold on the country.

Just as he once fought for his Pious Men, Tomas must now bend all his wit and hard-won wisdom to protect his queen – even when he can’t always tell if he’s on the right side.

Tomas has started to ask himself, what is the price of power? And more importantly, is it one he is willing to pay?

My thoughts:

Once again Peter McLean has knocked it so far out of the park it’s gonna take years to find the ball. If you like Grimdark in general (or just GOT) then you MUST get onto this series. Priest of Gallows is the third book in this four book series (The War for the Rose Throne) and boy it’s a doozy. Told in first person by main character Tomas Piety, you get an close up perspective of Piety’s experiences, thoughts, fears and decision making process. Book two left us with Piety now the governor of Ellinburg having given Bloody Anne control of the Pious Boys. This ex-soldier and ex-mob boss’s life seems to be moving up. As with anything in this world designed by the incredible mind of Peter McLean what seems to be and what is are totally different prospects.

It seems that every decision, every step taken by Tomas Piety is just one step further into trouble. 

He is summoned by the head of the Queen’s Men to the Capital. It necessitates another change in fortune. He must hand over his governorship and take only his most trusted with him. The summons worries him and with good reason. The Queen’s Men are spies and assassins for the Queen. So what happens to them if the Queen dies? Piety is soon embroiled is espionage of the highest order. Even the secrets have secrets in the Capital. And the Queen’s Men are at the top of the food chain. Still, everyone answers to someone. And Piety must be careful who he trusts. He is a soldier – he knows how to follow orders – and here he is but the Blade, but the Capital is rumbling.  Politics, Deceit, Truth, Betrayal and Ruin lie at every turn. And the war Piety would never see return is right around the corner. How well he plays the game will show where his loyalties lie and whether he and his closest allies will survive the coming storm.

The world building in this dark series is exquisite. If you don’t like brutal, bloody scenes it’s NOT the series for you. But if you love the dark, gritty brutality of Game of Thrones then this is the series for you.

The reality of mob mentality is brutal and cruel within the capital. And Priest of Gallows really explores how little it truly takes to turn a populous into a deadly mob. Ellinburg, and Piety’s Pious Men are a holiday by comparison. 

If you have read the previous two books, I thoroughly recommend getting this one as soon as it is out at the end of May. A gripping, gritty read. I adore Peter McLean’s writing style. It sucks me in quickly, immersing me in Ellinburg, the Capital, the streets, the palace, upper and lower town and everywhere in between. His characterization is top notch. From Bloody Anne’s endless loyalty, to Ailsa’s lies, to Beast’s trust, to Vogel’s machinations, to Billy’s inherent danger and love and the Princess’s madness. The political games played are as horrible as you would expect, the power grabs fast and brutal and layered. You don’t really know who to trust and the storm is coming.

I am excitedly waiting for the gripping conclusion to this brutal and bloody tale.

You can read my review of Book One – Priest of Bones here

and my review of Book Two – Priest of Lies Here.

Review: An Alien Storm by Calla Zae

About the Book:

“There’s something different about you… Something untamed. Something mysterious. It’s driving me crazy.”

Battered and bruised from a previous relationship, Vanessa now prefers a quiet life as a chef on a new planet. But then a captivating star-being storms into her life and whips up a whirlwind of emotions that makes her heart yearn for things she has long forgotten.

Arkon, a skilled soldier who prefers numbers, charts, and anything with absoluteness is attracted to Vanessa. But she favors no rules and lures him out of his comfort zone. Having been scorned once, he fears she will burn him.

Is their union a recipe for love or destruction?

My thoughts:

Another fabulous Soldiers of Saedo story. This one following Vanessa and Arkon. Vanessa has a past that continues to haunt her, and Arkon has demons of his own, but together they form a recipe that is sure to tantalise! Vanessa is a human from earth making a life as a chef on her new home planet. Arkon is one of the warriors who rescued her. He is all practical numbers and she is driven by her creativity. It’s enough to start sparks between them. But there is something else bubbling away beneath the surface of their world. Together, they will have to fight to protect their fledgling romance so see if the sparks can ignite a true flame of love. It’s another hot romance from Calla Zae. A terrific series!  This book will be out May 24.

May luck mark you (Friday Fictioneers)

PHOTO PROMPT © David Stewart

I stare in awe at the dragon eggs floating on the Sacred Sea. I’d heard how beautiful they were but they surpassed my expectations. There was a silence in the air. A pause on the breath of the wind. Waiting, hoping. They’ve been here for years. Shown no signs of hatching. The government’s scientists said they were fertilized, were “live” so to speak. Many chose to make the pilgrimage in the hope that luck would mark them.

Hairs raise on my arms. An icy chill puffs against my skin.

Crack. Crack.

I hope they’re not hungry.

Screeches fill the air.

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.

Review: The Ballad of Melodie Rose by Kate Gordon

About the book:

A heartfelt story of one girl’s determination to save her beloved home and the lyrical companion tale to The Heartsong of Wonder Quinn. When Melodie Rose is abandoned on the doorstep of Direleafe Hall, she realises she must be a ghost. Strangely, she is not sad. With the three other ghostly girls who haunt the school and a gloomy crow on her shoulder, Melodie has never felt more at peace. Finally, she has a place to call home. So when the Lady in White arrives with plans to flatten the beloved school, Melodie Rose must act fast to save all she holds dear. But what can one powerless ghost do? The Ballad of Melodie Rose is a life-affirming tale of belonging, being brave and being seen.

My Thoughts:

Oh another glorious Direleafe Hall story! This one focuses on young Melodie Rose who is left at Direleafe Hall one day with no memory of what has happened or why she is there. But Direleafe Hall has many secrets. There are ghosts and magical talking crows and Melodie. Melodie is sure she must be a ghost too. Because how else can she see ghosts and hear talking crows. Melodie used to be able to sing – she thinks – but now she hums and that is okay. She is okay. She is happy. Direleafe Hall is her home. Until the Lady in White buys Direleafe Hall with plans to destroy it. Melodie and her special friends can’t let that happen and they will do anything to save it. Anything at all.

Another beautiful story by Kate Gordon. Musical prose sweeps you into the story and into Melodie’s world. Mysteries abound and you are never quiet sure what is real and what is not. A glorious tale. A feelgood story. A story of hope and friendship and loss and love. Once again Kate Gordon’s imagery, imagination and lyrical language creates a character and a world full of life and wonder and questions and magic. Direleafe Hall is its own mysterious character. Hollowbeak is still moody and cranky but perhaps, he’s starting to learn a little more about himself too. Ms Gallow is older and a little sadder and Melodie’s new ghostly friends are just happy to be heard and seen. They are desperate to save their home. There is another girl too, an angry girl, a human girl. And perhaps she can help them save Direleafe Hall too. A terrific read. This book will be available in June 2021. You can pre-order it now.

You can read my review of The Heartsong of Wonder Quinn here

Review: Paws by Kate Foster

About the book:

At home, Alex’s best friend is Kevin the cockapoo, although what he wants most of all is a friend at school. But that is harder than he ever expected. A touching story about learning that friendship isn’t one size fits all and is often found where you least expect it.

Everything is changing for 11-year-old Alex and, as an autistic person, change can be terrifying. With the first day of high school only a couple of months away, Alex is sure that having a friend by his side will help. So, he’s devised a plan – impress the kids at school by winning a trophy at the PAWS Dog Show with his trusty sidekick, Kevin. This should be a walk in the park . . . right?

My thoughts:

This book brings all the Feels. A gorgeous story that left me with happy tears. Alex is an eleven year old boy who desperately wants a friend. Because having a friend will make the transition to high school more bearable. Alex has many talents. He can draw, he can play video games, he can run, and his best friend is Kevin – his cockapoo dog. But high school is scary. It will be okay if he has a friend by his side. So Alex makes a plan. A best friend plan. He will win a trophy at the PAWS Dog Show and then the kids at school will want to be his friend.

Alex has a lot going on, yet his focus on his plan is absolute. But friends might be where you don’t think to look. And Kevin will be by his side no matter what.

This is a brilliant book by Australian author Kate Foster. And if you like dogs, then it is a must read. Even if you only like cats – give it a go. Great descriptions, with a great emotional payoff. Kate puts us deeply into Alex’s head. Seeing the world through Alex’s eyes is sometimes overwhelming, full of rules and lessons and adapting to unexpected change made all the more difficult when you have trouble understanding emotions, facial cues and the words that are not given voice from those around you. A terrific read that I recommend to all parents to read with their kids or to have their kids read to them. It’s good for schools and teachers and families and friends. But even if you don’t have kids or a dog, this is a feelgood story and will keep you reading until you reach the end, wishing for more.

The light you cannot see (Friday Fictioneers)

PHOTO PROMPT © Anne Higa

The move underground was completed in stages. As the weather grew hotter more levels were added. Always downward. Always deeper. Generations were born underground. You couldn’t go up to the surface anymore. Too hot, too bright, too dry. Down here it was cool and damp and, well filthy really. I mean you couldn’t go anywhere without the dirt streaking your face and clothing. No matter how well the cleaning robots were designed. I hated scrubbing beneath my nails. What was the point? The dog-eared, rotting, mildewy book I’m reading describes the sunshine. I wish I knew what that looked like.

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 helping hand (Friday Fictioneers)

PHOTO PROMPT © Brenda Cox

My booted feet thumped the pavement, echoing through the practically empty streets. I was gaining… I think. A flash of black in the distance reignited my hopes. I twisted down the alley and skidded to a halt. Reds, greens and yellows filled my vision. Where was the flash of black? My stomach rumbled at the scents wafting from the nearby restaurants. I moved with care down the shadowed walkway, gaze darting side to side.

A soft meow froze my feet. “Here kitty kitty.”

The stray poked its head out from behind the bin. I held out the stolen tin. “Dinner?”

This is a Friday Fictioneers Prompt

You can read more of the 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.

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