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Review of Down to the Needle by Mary Deal

Overview.

This book gripped me right from the beginning. Ms Deal ramps up the tension and doesn’t let go.

Blurb

From the day her five-year-old was abducted, Abigail Fisher vowed never to stop looking until her daughter was safely back home. But despite multiple searches, twenty-three years have passed without a trace of Becky Ann. When Abigail learns that death row inmate Megan Winnaker is the same age as her daughter, she begins to wonder if the kidnapper had Becky Ann’s face surgically altered to prevent identification. Megan Winnaker maintains her innocence, but faces capital punishment if she loses her final appeal. As Abigail launches her own investigation to find out if Megan is truly her daughter, someone wants to stop her in her tracks. Even when facing mortal danger, Abigail refuses to give up her investigation. But can Megan Winnaker really be her long-lost daughter?

Story

The story is complex. There is a sub plot involving Abigail’s partner which is equally intriguing, and impinges on Abigail’s desire to discover the truth about Megan. Is she really innocent as she insists?
If she is innocent, then how to prove it and get a reprieve in time.
Right up until the very end we are left on tenterhooks.

Characters

The characters were believable, with flaws as well as strengths. Abigail is a strong character, but has weaknesses, and several times falls apart.
Megan is confusing at times, as she is supposed to be. She is a girl who faces the death penalty for, as she says, a crime she did not commit. She has been in prison for some years, and has fought her own case through appeal courts. No wonder she’s confused and bitter.
Joe, Abigail’s partner, is well-drawn, with his own strengths and weaknesses, especially when it comes to his own sub-plot.
I loved the people in this book, and was rooting for Abigail all the way through, longing for Megan to be Becky, her lost daughter, but dreading it in case whe were put to death!

Writing

Apart from one or two typos, and incorrect use of ‘lay’, the writing was very good.

Conclusion

Because of the excellent plot, which kept me wanting to go back to the book quickly when I had to put it down, I have overlooked the typos and grammar, which was minor anyway, and given it 5*

meet the muse

This post is in response to D.Wallace Peach who had a discussion with her muses. To read her discussion click here.

Image by sipa from Pixabay

I was sitting at my computer yesterday when the door opened. I didn’t look up because I assumed it was my husband coming in to work on his computer.

I felt the person stop behind me and look at my work. I knew this wasn’t my husband because he never reads what I’m typing. I turned and saw, standing behind me, a beautiful red-headed young woman.

“What the… ?”

“That’s not right. She wouldn’t do that. You need to rewrite that paragraph.”

“That’s the best paragraph I’ve written in ages. I’m not deleting it.”

“I’m not telling you to delete it, just to rewrite it. You can save it for another time. Another story. It doesn’t fit in here.” She tossed her long red hair back.

“Who the hell are you to come barging into my study telling me my writing is wrong? How do you know she wouldn’t do that?” I frowned, trying to look fierce.

She shrugged. “Trust me. I know. I know all about your characters and writing.”

This was weird. A total stranger in my house, and my husband hadn’t said anything. He let her in, right? He must have done.

“How did you get in? My husband wouldn’t let a stranger wander around the house. And I didn’t hear the doorbell.”

“You should know me. We’ve worked together now for a long time.”

“Worked together? I work alone. I’ve never collaborated with anyone.”

She laughed. “That’s what you think. I’ll put you out of your misery. I’m your Muse.”

“M-my Muse?”

She nodded. “Yes, and I’ve come to tell you that you need to write a book about dragons.”

“But I have dragons in all my fantasy books, except one.”

“Yes, you have dragons in the books, but the books aren’t about dragons. See, there’s a difference. This one, for example, has dragons.” She waved her hand at my computer screen. “They’re important to the story, but it’s not about them. It’s about people’s reaction to them. See the difference?”

“Mmm. I think so.”

“Can you make the next one be about the dragons themselves instead?”

I nodded. “I think I can do that. Leave it with me.”

“Don’t forget to change that paragraph. Really, she wouldn’t do that.”

I sighed and turned to look at her. Was it my imagination that she turned into a red dragon before fading away, leaving just a whisper.

The next one must be about dragons.

Tolkien’s Lord of The Rings & The Similarities With Being a Writer #MondayBlogs

I came across this fun post yesterday on Lucy Mitchell’s blog and thought I’d share it with you all.

I’m in the NaNoWriMo trenches and it’s been a tough weekend. At one point things got so challenging I started procrastinating about how the life of a writer feels very similar to Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

Here are the similarities with Lord of the Rings and being a writer:

  • Your story is the ring and you secretly believe that in the right hands it could bring you great literary power.

Continue reading here

After Sangatte: Based On Sea Fever By John Masefield #poem #poetry

A clever and poignant take on John Masefield’s poem.

I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,

Where I’ll await their call, fighting fear, holding my head up high.

I set my face, as bland as milk against those hollowed eyes

And think of how we seek a truth, neat-wrapped in hideous lies.

Continue reading here

Continue reading here

armistice Day

Today, 11th November, is the day that the armistice was declared after World War 1. I am commemorating it by republishing a post I posted before.

In 2018 there was a lot about World War 1, not surprisingly as it was the 100th anniversary. I was inspired to write this poem in memory of my wonderful grandfather who fought in Gallipoli.

I suspect not many people know the British troops fought there, too. We hear a lot about the brave Australian and New Zealand men, but not much about our own troops.

We Will Remember Them.

I’ll never truly understand
How World War I began.
The death of Archduke Ferdinand
Started the deaths of many more,
The young, the old, the rich, the poor.
All died with guns in hand.

My Grandad went with Uncle Jim
And Our Poor Willie, too.
They sent them off, singing a hymn.
Grandad went to Gallipoli,
Uncle Jim left his love, Polly.
Gas in trenches did kill him.

I cannot see, in my mind’s eye
Grandad with gun in hand.
A peaceful man, sent out to die.
He fought for us, for you and me
So we can live and so that we
Safely in our beds may lie.

Grandad came home, and Willie too,
But millions more did not.
Their duty they all had to do.
They died in fear, in noise, in blood.
Everything was caked in mud.
Yet in those fields the poppies grew.

The War to end all wars, they said,
So terrible were the deaths.
The youth of Europe all lay dead.
Yet 21 short years to come
Another war. Once more a gun
In young men’s hands brought death.

One hundred years have passed since then.
What have we learned? Not much!
Too many men are killing men.
Wars still abound around the world.
Bombs and missiles still are hurled
At those who disagree with them.

Some thoughts on Covid-19

I generally don’t comment on contraversial topics on this blog, but I’m getting a bit annoyed. This post is about Covod-19.

We started a 2nd lockdown last Thursday here in the UK. Cases have been rising again, largely, as I see it, due to the irresponsible behaviour of some people.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

The virus is spread by droplets. These droplets are in the spittal in your mouth, hence, talking, shouting, singing, whistling, coughing and sneezing will all spread these droplets.

The problem as I see it, is that people in general do not have what is known as ‘common sense.’

I was in Lancaster in August when I saw a man wearing a face-mask in the street. He removed it to cough!

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

People seem to have forgotten all about social distancing except where they have to, like in queues. Yesterday, I stepped into a gate to allow an elderly lady to pass on a footpath of just under 1 metre. She paused to have a few words, and in the meantime, three people passed her. None of them stepped off the footpath, thus coming well within 1 meter of her.

Image by Joyjit Chowdhury from Pixabay

The wearing of facemasks is mandatory in shops and other indoor public places. How many people wear them correctly. Most do, but there are far too many that seen to think that their nose is not a source of droplets, and nothing can get in via that route. So they have their mask below their nose.

Image by Pierre-Laurent Durantin from Pixabay

People have been crowding onto beaches and in country parks. My nephew who lives in North Wales said that at one point you couldn’t find anywhere to park in Snowdonia. The same in the Lake District.

And at the end of August we walked a bit of the Pennine Way in Derbyshire. This bit, at the beginning of the footpath, was paved with stones of about 3/4 metre wide at the most. The path was busy with people going in both directions. No one moved off this narrow path when passing someone else.

I sympathise with the viewpoint, that locking down is not the best way, and that people should have the consequences explained to them, and would heartily agree if I had confidence that people would have enough sense to just be sensible!

Sadly, though, the evidence is the opposite, and so people have to be told what to do.

And why is it always ‘Granny’ that is mentioned? I’ve never heard the people on the radio talk about how you could be killing Grandpa. Always Granny.

The mistake was made at the very beginning of the pandemic when the virus was likened to ’flu. Yes, ’flu is a coronavirus, but that doesn’t mean that Covid-`19 is like ’flu when you get it. In fact, the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 is called SARS-COV-2. People may remember something about SARS. It was never touted as being ’flu-like. Cats and lions are both in the same family, which includes tigers, leopards, lynx, cougars, and many others. Each of these animals is different. You might like to stroke ;your cat, but I doubt you’d feel the same about stroking a lion or jaguar.

In fact, Covid-19 is more like pneumonia. Maybe if it had been likened to these two diseases rather than ’flu, people would have been more careful. And Donald Trump saying it’s nothing to be afraid of, just like bad ’flu didn’t help, either.

Saying it was only the elderly and people with underlying health issues who would die was again a mistake. Hence all the young people gathering in restaurants and pubs, and having parties might not have been so prevelent. They think they are immune, or that if they get it they won’t be too ill, and certainly won’t die.

OK, my rant about the pandemic has ended.
If you have anything to add, please do so in the comments.

MarySmith’sPlace #Giant pylons will ruin iconic landscape

This is from Mary Smith’s blog. She is worried about pylons planned to march across this beautiful part of the world.

From time to time on this blog I have shared some of the glorious countryside we have here in Dumfries & Galloway in South West Scotland.

Unfortunately, a huge area of this is now at risk of being ruined by Scottish Power Energy Networks (SPEN) which has put a planning application in to the Scottish Government to erect 118 giant pylons (up to 39 metres tall) from Glenlee, near New Galloway to Tongland in the south near Kirkcudbright.

Stroan Loch, courtesy PhilMcMenemy

The route goes over or close to iconic Galloway countryside including, the Queens Way (the road from New Galloway to Newton Stewart), Raiders Road, Stroan Loch and the Otter Pool. Laurieston Forest and the Kenick Burn will also be impacted, along with an avenue of beech trees by the burn’s picnic area. The route also goes over the C13 road from Laurieston to Gatehouse of Fleet, a road beloved by everyone – locals and visitors alike.

The amount of traffic on the roads over the five years of construction work will be horrendous. Our narrow roads will become dangerous, noisy and all pleasure in driving will be destroyed – not to mention the huge inconvenience and health issues for the people living in the villages affected.

Continue reading here.

Review of The Ghosts of Koa by Corby R Rice

Overview.


I read this as part of a collection of books, entitled Magic. It turns out it is the first two books in a trilogy.

Blurb.

Book 1, The Given

For over one hundred years the Civic Order and the Alchemic Order have held a shaky truce, peppered by violence and mistrust. But when Koa, a Civilian-born insurgency, bombs an Alchemist summit, the truce is shattered. Now, Koa is rising. War is coming. And all sixteen-year-old Zeika Anon can do is keep moving as she watches the lords of alchemy slowly overtake her home.

But when clashes between Koa and the Alchemic Order put a final, deadly squeeze on the remaining Civilian territories, Zeika finds herself in the crosshairs of fate. She must walk the line between survival and rebellion against the Alchemists. On one side of the line awaits death. On the other, the betrayal of her civilization, her loyalties, and herself.

Book 2 The Taken

If Zeika Anon didn’t know she was screwed before, she definitely knows now. Between Azures, Koa, Sal Morgan, and the delightful demonic “newcomers” to her Demesne, Zeika finds herself pinned, enemies on all sides. And yet a hidden route, one only she can take, may be the only way to escape the insanity and death that awaits her at every turn.

But as her government succumbs to the pressure of the Alchemical Order, a catch-22 kicks off a different journey that Zeika loathes to take. A journey that will force her to expose who she really is, unite with a hated enemy, face deadly adversaries, and abandon the people she loves the most.

The freedom she wants must be TAKEN… and she must do it before the Azures— and a man who fancies himself a god— take her first.

Story

It tells of a dystopian world after something called the Cataclysm has occurred. We are never told what this was and why it produced such a terrible world.
The world is divided into the Haves—the Azures—and the Have-nots—the Civilians. There is also a group called the Alchemists, who have magic, and who come exclusively from the Azure class.
The Ghosts of Koa, in the title, are a group of insurgents who are trying to wreck the current situation.


Characters

The main characters are sixteen-year-old Ezekiel, known as Zeika and her five-year-old sister, Manja. Zeika feels a great responsibility to her sister as their mother is addicted to drugs and their father is away. The child is also unwell.
It is Manja I have the biggest problem with. We learn (later) that her illness is haemophilia. Now that is a sex-linked illness and is VERY rare in females. In fact, it can only be passed to a female if the mother is a carrier and the father a haemophiliac. Since Manja’s father is portrayed as a large, healthy man, working in the mines, I do not think he has this disease.
The other problem I have with Manja is that she does not sound, nor act like a five-year-old. Yes, she’s a genius, but still—even geniuses of five don’t sound quite as grown up as Manja.
I also have a problem with Zeika’s name. As far as I am concerned, Ezekiel is a male name. (Remember the prophet in the Old Testament?)
The other main character is an Azure who takes an interest in Zeika and Manja. He has a mysterious background that we gradually disconer more about in the course of the story.

Writing

The writing is not of the best. There are quite a lot of errors, both gramatically and in word usage. One example that annoyed me entensely was that he does not know the difference between ‘to lay’ and ‘to lie’. He uses ‘to lay’ all the way through, even when it should have been ‘to lie’. Stylistically, it is not good in a number of places, although not all through.

Conclusion

Although I enjoyed the story in the main, there were a number of things that Colby R. Rice did not explain. For example, he talks about the Demesnes. Now that’s clear, but he also talks about the Protected. Are these the same as the civic demesnes or just some of them, or something different altogether?
He mentions people he called ‘wolf-moons’, but gives no explanation as to what these people are until nearly the end of the second book, when it just happens that he mentions it almost in passing.
There are one of two other things I found confusing, especially what The Collapse was and how it ended up in such a dystopian world.

I am giving the book 3 stars ***. Although I enjoyed the story, and would like to know how it ends, the confusions and factual errors lose it one star, and the grammar and word usage loses it another.

All three books are available on Amazon.

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a poem about a storm

I was staying in Germany, near Leipzig a few years ago in order to go to a concert in the Thomaskirke. On our way back to the hotel, there was a tremendous thunderstorm. I was inspired to write the following poem.

The Storm

A lovely day, the sun was warm
It had shone on us since dawn.
The heat oppressed us all the day,
Even as in bed we lay.

We went to Leipzig in the heat.
In Thomaskirke we took our seat
To hear St John by J.S.Bach.
It did not end till after dark.

When we emerged it was in rain.
We rushed to find our car again.
The thunder rolled across the sky,
The lightning flashed, but now we’re dry.

We drove toward Chemnitz and saw
O’er Dresden, flashes like the War.
Was it ’45 again
With bombs falling like the rain?

The lightning flashed, the thunder boomed.
We thought that we were surely doomed’
It must at least be Armageddon,
Such brightness in a sky so leaden.

The storm went on for several hours
Showing nature’s awesome powers
And even though it scared us some
We were impressed. It struck us dumb.