After Tom and Michelle Cleveland move into their recently built, modern townhouse, their housewarming party is disrupted when a drunken game with an Ouija board goes wrong and summons a sinister poltergeist, Estelle, who died in 1904. Estelle makes her presence known in a series of terrifying events, culminating in her attacking Tom in his sleep with a knife. But, Estelle isn’t alone. Who are the shadows lurking in the background – one in an old-fashioned slouch hat and the other, a soldier, carrying a rifle? After discovering their house has been built on the site of one of the original farms in Irene, Michelle becomes convinced that the answer to her horrifying visions lie in the past. She must unravel the stories of the three phantoms’ lives, and the circumstances surrounding their untimely deaths during the Second Anglo Boer War, in order to understand how they are tied together and why they are trapped in the world of ghosts between life and death. As the reasons behind Estelle’s malevolent behaviour towards Tom unfold, Michelle’s marriage comes under severe pressure and both their lives are threatened.
Roberta Eaton Cheadle is a South African writer and poet specialising in historical, paranormal, and horror novels and short stories. She is an avid reader in these genres and her writing has been influenced by famous authors including Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe, Amor Towles, Stephen Crane, Enrich Maria Remarque, George Orwell, Stephen King, and Colleen McCullough.
Roberta has short stories and poems in several anthologies and has 2 published novels, Through the Nethergate, a historical supernatural fantasy, and A Ghost and His Gold, a historical paranormal novel set in South Africa.
Roberta has 9 children’s books published under the name Robbie Cheadle.
Roberta was educated at the University of South Africa where she achieved a Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1996 and a Honours Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1997. She was admitted as a member of The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants in 2000.
Roberta has worked in corporate finance from 2001 until the present date and has written 7 publications relating to investing in Africa. She has won several awards over her 20-year career in the category of Transactional Support Services.
A Ghost and his Gold is based in South Africa.
I was expecting a jolly good ghost story, but I wasn’t disappointed, for this story is so much more than that.
An interesting combination of the paranormal entwined with history. History that had to be closely and accurately researched to ensure that all the details are portrayed sensitively.
In the beginning of the story, we learn about two ghosts, soldiers who fought and died on opposite sides of the second Boer war. We learn a lot about this war from these two ghosts. Robert, a British soldier, and a Boer called Pieter. Their heart-breaking duel story is brilliantly written, as is the sad story of Estelle, the third and very vengeful ghost and daughter of Pieter.
Far from ordinary, this story is a complicated tale of revenge.
I wish I could forget the horrors of the Boer War, but I will never forget these character’s.
Ancient ruins, haunted memories, and a ruthless criminal combine with a touch of mystic presence in this taut mystery about a crime we all must address.
Maggie, a National Park Ranger of Native American descent, is back at The Castle—a six-hundred-year-old pueblo carved into a limestone cliff in Arizona’s Verde Valley. Maggie, who suffers from depression, has been through several traumas: the gang rape she suffered while in the Coast Guard, the sudden death of her ten-year-old son, and a suicide attempt.
One evening, she chases a young Native American boy through the park and gasps as he climbs the face of The Castle cliff and disappears into the pueblo. When searchers find no child, Maggie’s friends believe she’s suffering from depression-induced hallucinations.
Maggie has several men in her life. The baker, newcomer Jim Casey, who always greets her with a warm smile and pink boxes filled with sweet delicacies. Brett Collins, a scuba diver who is doing scientific studies in Montezuma Well, a dangerous cylindrical depression that houses strange creatures found nowhere else on Earth. Dave, an amiable waiter with whom she’s had a one-night stand, and her new boss Glen.
One of these men is a serial rapist and Maggie is his next target.
In a thrilling and terrifying denouement, Maggie faces her rapist and conquers her worst fears once and for all.
Anne Butler Montgomery has worked as a television sportscaster, newspaper and magazine writer, teacher, amateur baseball umpire, and high school football referee. Her first TV job came at WRBL‐TV in Columbus, Georgia, and led to positions at WROC‐TV in Rochester, New York, KTSP‐TV in Phoenix, Arizona, and ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, where she anchored the Emmy and ACE award‐winning SportsCenter. She finished her on‐camera broadcasting career with a two‐year stint as the studio host for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Montgomery was a freelance and/or staff reporter for six publications, writing sports, features, movie reviews, and archaeological pieces. Her previous novels are A Light in the Desert, The Scent of Rain, and Wild Horses on the Salt. Montgomery taught journalism and communications at South Mountain High School in Phoenix for 20 years. She is a foster mom to three sons, and spent 40 years officiating amateur sports, including football, baseball, ice hockey, soccer, and basketball. When she can, she indulges in her passions: rock collecting, scuba diving, musical theater, and playing her guitar.
“Holy crap!” Maggie dropped the phone. Someone peered from outside the darkened window. A child. Big eyes in a bronze face. “Hey! You can’t….” But the boy—nine maybe ten—disappeared. She heard a laugh, a light tinkling sound like tiny brass bells on the breeze.
Maggie scrambled for the phone, punched in the number, and made her report. Then she grabbed a flashlight from under the counter and bolted out the back door of the Visitor Center.
A half-moon lit the concrete trail. There was no sign of the boy. The wind pushed through massive Arizona Sycamores, their star-shaped leaves fluttered, the sound mimicking a stream rushing over small river rocks. Maggie rushed down the path. Her Nikes would have served her better than the brown ankle boots that were part of her uniform.
The laughter came again, this time from the wild land amidst the rocks—huge slabs of fractured white limestone that over the centuries had tumbled down the escarpment. Striving to avoid the vicious prickly pear that dotted the slope and the jagged pieces of stone that could slice skin like a honed blade, Maggie left the safety of the trail and pushed past the mesquite and pungent creosote bushes toward the base of the cliff, boots crunching on the rocky rubble that littered the ground.
Her gaze drifted up the sheer stone wall to The Castle, a prehistoric edifice almost iridescent in the moonlight. She could make out the small windows and even ancient logs that jutted from the structure, all of which had been felled and carted up the cliff face many hundreds of years earlier.
Maggie gasped. To her horror, she saw the boy ascending the wall. She flashed on the day she’d scaled the precipice with archaeology students from New Mexico State University. A seasoned climber, she was comfortable in the harness and helmet, but the ladders were touchy. The feel of rock beneath her hands and feet provided a much more solid sense of security. But there were no ladders propped against the ragged limestone now, nor was the child dressed in any protective gear. In fact, he didn’t appear to be wearing clothes at all.
Frozen, she watched the boy mount the wall like an animal, arms and legs working with almost preternatural ease. Then Maggie saw the child hoist himself over the ledge before he disappeared into the cave that held The Castle in its belly.
At six-foot-three, Jess Sorenson towered over her friend. She folded the slim spiral notebook and tucked the pad into the back pocket of her uniform pants. Like Maggie, Jess sported a gray button-down short-sleeve shirt and forest green slacks. But Jess was a National Park Service Law Enforcement officer, so she also wore a sidearm.
“You don’t believe me.” Maggie slumped into a desk chair in the office at the Montezuma Castle Visitor Center.
“I’m just saying that we’ve had a search team out here for,” Jess checked her watch, “five hours now. And they’ve found nothing. And you have to admit….”
“They think I’m still crazy, right?” Maggie jumped from the chair and paced the room, a palm pressed against her forehead.
“I didn’t say that, but….” Jess creased her brow. “You know I have to ask.”
“No, I’m no longer medicated, if that’s what you’re curious about.” Maggie turned toward the east-facing windows of the Visitor Center, where the morning sun had yet to offer even a hint of illumination.
Jess nodded and reached again for the notebook. She jotted the information in blue ink, stuck the pen in her breast pocket, and ran her fingers through short, shockingly white hair. “Maybe you need some more time off,” she said softly.
Maggie closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose. “I know what I saw.”
Jess stared for a long time. “I believe you. But the other guys….” She spread her hands wide.
“I have to work, Jess. Sitting around is doing me no good. I just think too much when I’m alone. When I’m here, I feel better. I can’t go back to the house.”
“I know.” Jess perched on the corner of a nearby desk. “So, what do you want to do? Should we file a report with the local authorities? Ask if any young boys are missing?”
“They’ll send me home.”
“But what if a child is out there injured?” Maggie pointed toward The Castle, unable stop tears from spilling down her cheeks.
“Do you think the child was hurt?”
Maggie blew out a breath and closed her eyes. She pictured the boy scaling the wall like one of the ubiquitous brown lizards that scampered among the rocks, his tinkling laughter playing on the breeze. Suddenly the memory seemed wrong. How could the vision be real? She stared at Jess, frowned, and collapsed into a chair.
Jess got up, walked over to Maggie, and wrapped an arm around her shoulders. “I’m gonna call the guys off. Let’s get you to bed.”
Maggie lifted her head and peered from bleary eyes. “What about the report?”
“I think we need to err on the side of caution and tell the local folks, just in case. But maybe we can make it sound not so….”
“Crazy?” Maggie finished the sentence.
“Come on, now.”
Maggie allowed Jess to help her from the chair. Then she picked up the straw-colored hat with the flat brim and dark leather band that symbolized her profession. Her job was all that mattered now. By making the report Maggie was putting her employment at risk. But what if a child was lost or injured, and they stopped the search because she chose to say nothing? Maggie couldn’t live with that.
Maggie dragged herself from bed. After slipping on a pair of khaki shorts and an overly large navy-blue T-shirt bearing the words Plant Lady: I dig dirt, she made a cup of instant coffee, heavily laced with sugar and milk.
Maggie pushed through the screen door to the tiny porch that fronted her one-bedroom apartment, let the door snap shut behind her, and placed the steaming mug on a round wrought iron table. She’d slept until noon—not a surprise considering her run in with the boy/spirit/hallucination—so the sun was directly overhead. Birds chattered noisily in the surrounding bushes and trees. A speckled brown and white roadrunner, who sprinted about the grounds frequently and exhibited little fear of humans, tilted his head as she sat at the table, then went back to pecking among the rocks in a search for insects and lizards.
The apartment, one of several in a tidy row, sat on National Park land, just a short walk from The Castle. One of the benefits of being a National Park Ranger was the opportunity to live at work. Maggie had recently requested one of the simple flats—a bedroom, kitchenette, tiny living room, and bath—because the thought of returning to her house on Beaver Creek was overwhelming. Memories lingered there, once vibrant and joyful, now nothing but dust and shadow, thoughts that clawed at her gut like a small rodent anxious to eat its way out. She fingered the ragged scars that bisected her wrists—cuts that were partially concealed by a pair of colorful tattoos—then stared at the cerulean blue of the high desert sky.
Maggie, who’d grown up in the bulging metropolis of Phoenix, Arizona, had enjoyed the small-town feel of the Beaver Creek area, which encompassed the communities of Lake Montezuma, Rimrock, and McGuireville. On the way home from The Castle, she’d pass Vickie’s Grill—where a sign proclaimed you could get good home cooking—the Feed Store, and Candy’s Creek Side Cottage with its colorful kitschy décor that always made her smile. Further down the road stood the Montezuma-Rim Rock Fire Department, the town post office, and the most popular spot in town, Flora’s Bakery, where indescribably delicious confections came in pink boxes tied with twine. Then Maggie would turn onto the unpaved, dusty lane with the long row of metal mailboxes, mostly black and white and green, some with their red flags at attention, signaling mail within. Maggie’s was the fourth box from the right, turquoise with white flowers and a yellow butterfly that Charlie had insisted on.
Her tiny house was embraced by an ancient Arizona Sycamore, some of the tree’s branches having kissed the earth untold years earlier, after which they’d rebounded into the high desert sky, massive in their height and breadth. She’d felt connected to the tree with the mottled skin—pale green, brown, and white—cool to the touch, verdant star-shaped leaves. She couldn’t wrap her arms completely around the trunk, though she’d tried.
Charlie had loved the tree. Maggie stopped worrying as he’d grown older, no longer concerned that the boy might fall from the enormous limbs.
Bits of Charlie’s life assaulted her as she sipped her coffee. A hand-painted wooden frame clutching a picture of the two of them, smiling on a hike when he was six. A small pair of boots, laces untied, caked with dried red mud. The collection of minerals on the bedside table, including the strange geometrically-shaped white rocks called pseudomorphs, they’d found sifting through the sandy bottom of the open-pit salt mine in Camp Verde.
Maggie forced the thoughts away, not wanting to think about the house she still owned but dared not enter. For six months she’d stayed away. Jess periodically checked on the property and picked up the mail. Maggie continued to pay the mortgage, but the water and electricity had long since been turned off.
A half an hour and two cups of coffee later, Maggie stared at a Queen butterfly that rested on the wooden porch railing. The creature lazily opened and closed white-spotted orange and black wings, and flitted to a nearby patch of milkweed.
Maggie jumped, startled by the sound of a vehicle. A late model green Jeep Wrangler pulled to a stop in front of the last apartment in the complex. A tall man wearing a Colorado Rockies baseball cap unfolded himself from the driver’s seat and spoke into a cellphone as he slammed the door. He ended the call and slipped the phone into his back pocket. Then, he opened the rear of the vehicle and hoisted a large silver cylinder to his shoulder. His phone rang.
“What!” He walked up the wooden steps to the apartment. “I’ll call you back.” He put the cylinder on the porch floor and fumbled with a key.
Maggie recognized the object, strangely incongruous in the desert. It was a scuba tank.
The author has dedicated The Castle to all survivors of sexual violence, which has to be the worst abuse every woman fears.
Maggie is back at work as a Park Ranger, trying to lead a normal life after a rape ordeal. That’s if life and her memories will let her.
She meets many men in her job, and they all make her feel uncomfortable. How can she know who to trust?
Like Brett Collins, a serious scuba diver that she is assigned to assist. He seems decent enough and doesn’t even flirt with her. Her boss Glen, Jim Casey the baker and Dave the good looking, dark haired waiter, they all seem harmless, but try as she might, the thought that she could be in danger again will not leave her be.
I loved the way I learned more about the rapist as the story developed, all while I was trying to guess who he was. It was as if once I knew, then he would be caught and punished before anything bad happened!
The author tried hard with the sympathy card, but I couldn’t feel sorry for the serial rapist, sorry.
I also loved the history of the ancient ruins and the thread of mystery throughout the story, which did help to balance the pervading evil.
I cannot say I enjoyed reading this story, due to the subject matter, but it is brilliantly written and plotted, and I didn’t manage to guess who the rapist was until the very end!
From the award-winning author of The Absence of Mercy, comes a gripping and darkly psychological novel about family, suspicion, and the price we are willing to pay to protect those we love the most.
It’s the summer of 1954, and the residents of Cottonwood, California, are dying. At the center of it all is six-year-old Danny McCray, a strange and silent child the townspeople regard with fear and superstition, and who appears to bring illness and ruin to those around him. Even his own mother is plagued by a disease that is slowly consuming her.
Sheriff Jim Kent, increasingly aware of the whispers and rumors surrounding the boy, has watched the people of his town suffer—and he worries someone might take drastic action to protect their loved ones. Then a stranger arrives, and Danny and his ten-year-old brother, Sean, go missing. In the search that follows, everyone is a suspect, and the consequences of finding the two brothers may be worse than not finding them at all.
Our Review of The Quiet Child
Described as both hauntingly tense and a gripping, dark psychological drama, I was hooked by the time I read the blurb on the back of the book.
At first, the main characters seem to be the two boys, Danny and Sean McCray, but when they go missing, their father Michael swings into the central role.
Danny is a strange child; he has never spoken a word and regarded by the superstitious townspeople as a broken child, somehow causing illness and death in the community. When the family car is stolen along with both boys inside, many said it might be better if they were never found.
I liked the slow, careful way the memories and backstory are woven into the story, as the father tries to cope with losing his family. It was painful to watch him hovering between defeat, suspicion and a weird kind of acceptance.
My favourite character was the sheriff, Jim Kent. Bravely doing his job despite being torn between doing his duty and his humanity.
On the surface, this story is about superstition and loss, but I was unprepared for the disturbing conclusion, the final shocking twist was absolutely unexpected…
John Burley grew in a small town in Maryland near the Chesapeake Bay. He worked as a paramedic and firefighter just north of Washington, D.C. before attending medical school in Chicago and completing an emergency medicine residency at University of Maryland Medical Center and the R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore. His debut novel, NO MERCY, received the National Black Ribbon Award in recognition of an author who brings a fresh, new voice to suspense writing. His second novel, THE HIDING PLACE, is available now.
John now lives in Northern California where he works full-time as an emergency department physician. He writes dark psychological suspense thrillers about murder and mayhem on his days off, tries to keep the nightmares at bay, and occasionally finds time to sleep.
Throughout the previous volumes the fantasy aspect of this epic has gradually built. In Journey 8, that fantastical element comes to the fore. . Emlyn and her companions search for the fabled Lost Library. The entire world is at risk, so they hope answers will be there. However, a new complication arises and the fate of one Deae Matres hangs in the balance. . Meanwhile Arawn, who tore the Veil between the worlds of the living and dead, tries to make an evil alliance with a long dead king who was known for his ruthlessness. . Remove the limits from your imagination and join Emlyn and company on this extraordinary adventure.
Dead of Winter Journey 8
This story moves on to another part of this intriguing world and opens with Emlyn and her companions Zasha and Hallgeir exploring the newly found Library, trying to find out why Osabide and two of members of the Deae Matre have disappeared. And as this magical Library seems enormous, not an easy task.
When Hallgeir reappears, he brings with him the ancient watcher, Haldis.
The one who has been watching their progress all this time. Was she the reason they were here? Or the reason the library had vanished all those years ago?
As Haldis recounts her story, Emlyn was reminded of the magic that linked them. But whose side was the magic on, and did it still have plans for them all?
Emlyn grows uneasy as she listens to their conversations and the decision that involves herself, realising that they are deciding her future and that of her own special gift.
Ripples of unease and mistrust begin to circulate, were they all being manipulated into making the biggest mistake of their lives?
This is book two in my DI Snow Series, and having just received an amazing review for CrossFire from Colleen Chesebro, HERE I thought you might like to know a little more about Out of Time…
Kate Devereau wakes up in a hospital, unable to speak or move. Her brain has shut down, refusing to acknowledge her dark and disturbing past, concealing a web of painful secrets.
Michael Barratt brought her to the hospital, insisting that her ex-husband had tried to kill her. And from the state of him, had tried to kill him too. He had been searching for Kate for years, ever since their doomed love affair, only to discover someone else had been hunting her too.
With the help of the DI David Snow, Kate will gradually piece her life back together, only to discover the nightmare is far from over.
Her first instinct is to run, but David Snow convinces her to stay and help him put an end to the nightmare. A nightmare that will get progressively worse before it gets better.
Haunted by his own demons, will the Snowman manage to catch the twisted killer?
Evil lurks in this story and people die, but amidst the tears and heartache, a lost love struggles to survive…
Excerpt from Out of Time
Kate sat at the table in the Vestry with her head in her hands. She couldn’t believe Jack had found her again, despite all the Snowman’s security. She kept seeing the ivory roses, blood dripping from the petals, laid on the altar like an offering. Only Jack could have thought of something that macabre.
The blood reminded her of what had happened to her beloved Dylan, her silver tabby. Jack had ripped him apart in her kitchen, strewing blood and fur all over the floor for her to find. At least this time, she wouldn’t have to clean up the mess.
Why had Michael gone outside?
She knew he was having trouble coming to terms with the fact that their relationship was over. After all this time it must have been a bitter pill to swallow. But going against David Snow’s specific orders was foolish and irresponsible. Maybe his depression had grown bad enough to warrant taking such a risk. Or had he wanted to die?
The voice disapproved. ‘I did ask you to try and be kind to him, Kate. Even though you couldn’t love him, you, of all people, should have treated him better than that…’
It was true; she remembered feeling that bad. Jack had that effect on most people. Just knowing he was out there somewhere had made her suicidal in the past, and the feeling wasn’t too far away now.
The Snowman should have let her see Michael; her imagination couldn’t be worse than the real thing. Right then, it didn’t seem real, and she kept expecting to see him come through the door at any minute. She wished with all her heart that she had run away the first time she suspected Jack was back on the scene. Michael’s sudden reappearance had reawakened all her old desires and dreams, rendering her incapable of thinking straight.
Fate was too cruel. Why had it conspired to bring Jack back into her life at that time? If he hadn’t arrived when he did, her brother would not have died, and the chain of destruction would have broken.
She wanted to run away but suspected there was no point. Jack would find her wherever she went. The knowledge sunk in that none of them were safe anymore if they ever were. What would it take to be rid of Jack for good?
Kate heard the door open but realised the noise had come from the wrong side of the room. As she raised her head to investigate, a damp, sweet-smelling cloth covered her face. She struggled against it, but he was too strong. The room went dark and then faded away…
ABOUT US: For those new to our website and blog, we would like to thank you for visiting. Between us, we write in several different genres, so there should be something for everyone to enjoy. Anita cannot abide computers, so I (Jaye) do all the technical (oily rag) stuff! Our books tend to be varied, from horror to supernatural romance and coming of age, and mystery thrillers. We try to keep our website interesting with guest posts, bloggers, poetry, and reviews for all the books we read. Our books are shown in the right-hand sidebar and clicking on the images should take you straight to Amazon.If you enjoyed your visit, we would love you to leave a comment…Hoping to see you again!
Just lately, I have been getting more and more depressed about my performance (or lack of one) as a writer. I do try, but with everything that is going on in my life right now, writing seems to slip through the cracks without my really noticing. That isn’t true, I do notice, and I secretly resent everything that contributed to this situation.
I often nag myself about all the things I don’t get around to, including writing, but also visiting the sites where our books can be found. For some reason, some part of my brain woke up this morning and is pushing me around with what feels like a cattle prod!
My first port of call was Goodreads. I had a good look around and then checked our books and the text reviews they had received. That was when Mister Shame turned up and reduced me to a red-faced wreck.
Simple, Anita’s second book and one of my favourites, has received a five-star review from Jacquie Biggar, one of our favourite authors! The shame skyrocketed when I saw the date, 2020!
I immediately apologised and will do so again today.
Thank you so much, for such a wonderful review, Jacquie
Now that Amazon have introduced these stupid restrictions, preventing many people from reviewing the books they buy, we must all remember to check the other places. I am ashamed to admit that I don’t check Goodreads or Smashwords as often as I should, but that changes now…
And finally, before I post Jacquie’s wonderful review, I have a very important job to do today. Add new links for Smashwords and Goodreads to our book pages, two very good alternatives to the sadly disappointing Amazon!
SHADES OF DELIVERANCE MEETS THE WALTONS…
5* Review for Simple by Jacquie Biggar
Life in the backwoods of Eastern USA is not easy. The hardscrabble country folk live by their own set of tough rules and there is a price to pay for breaking them. Leanne’s family are as much a part of the woods as the trees and carnivores of the forest. They are rough, cruel, and frightening except for Simple, a big brute of a man with a soft heart and the mind of a child. Leanne would have run away long ago, but she was too scared of what her Uncle Jimmy would do to Simple to leave him behind.
When trouble comes to the mountain, Leanne is forced to make decisions for her and Simple or die. This is a gripping suspense with intense scenes and complex characters who practically leap off the page. Uncle Jimmy, Jack, Granny are all people I would NOT want to meet in a dark alley!
When Simple got worked up his words stuck, stretched out like an echo rebounding around the woods before finding the end of it.Simple- Anita Dawes
Putting on a face, Gran always said, don’t mean you can hide what you are.Simple- Anita Dawes
I fell asleep, listening to the rain and Simple’s mind spilling out on to the dry leafy floor.Simple- Anita Dawes
This book is the haunting story of one young girl’s journey to a new life. It is the story of survival.
Saw this picture this morning and it really fascinated me. I know it’s probably not real, there is some jiggery pokey going on, but as I get older I like the unreal, or at least, what seems to be, so I will keep on looking for new and amazing things…
Anyway, back to what I wanted to talk about today.
I have been thinking about one of Anita’s books, Simple …
It has long been one of my favourites and the picture at the top reminds me of the central character, a huge bear of a man called Simple. He loves to be in the forest and seems to be at home among all the towering trees, away from all the people who torment him because of his size, his slowness, and his stutter.
I thought I would print an excerpt to introduce him to you properly…
Gran stormed across the clearing, bending to pick up a stick from the ground without breaking her stride. Simple, sitting against the wood pile, was in for another of her beatings. I yelled for him to run, but he didn’t hear me. Lost in one of his daydreams I guessed.
I watched in silence as Gran repeatedly swung the stick hard against the side of her son’s head. There were no words to describe Simple’s pain, or the pain of watching. He probably didn’t even know what it was for and I hated her for making me feel all the things he couldn’t say. He didn’t move or look her in the face, not until she let the stick drop from her bony fingers did he feel safe enough to close his eyes. He slowly put his hands to his battered head, blood pushing its way through the gaps in his dirty fingers…
I know I edited this book so you could say I am a bit biased, but I don’t think so. I really love the story, even though it has savagely cruel elements, involving hatred and violence. But all of these elements are finely balanced with so much emotional determination and caring by Simple’s sister, Leanne that you get torn every which way as you read it.
This book is a roller coaster of a read but one that has been very hard to categorise. Mainstream publishers really couldn’t figure out what to do with it. They loved it but…
There always seems to be a but, doesn’t there?
I would love to hear if you could love it as much as I do…
Here is the latest review for Simple…
5.0 out of 5 starsLife’s Choices
Simple is a story told by a young girl living in the woods with her family, which is made up of mostly harsh characters, who are contrasted by Simple, and then later Amber. It’s a story of love and loss and family and living with the decisions we have made. I had a very hard time putting this book down. I got the majority of it read in one day because I just had to know what all the mystery was. It snags you right away, and holds you tight for the ride. There were some harsh moments in the book, as well as some gems that made me think about life. Overall, what a great book! Well written characters, good depth of detail, and a driven plot.
For more than a week now, I have had this new character in my head. He has been following me around, watching my every move. I have tried to talk to him, in my head, you understand, but he has this enigmatic smile, and that’s all I get from him.
I think he wants me to figure out what to do with him, guess what he wants to do but so far, my brain is siding with him and refusing to cooperate.
This morning, I decided I would try to interview him, something I have done before with several of my characters, but you guessed it, he wouldn’t even sit down!
All I know so far is that I do want to write about him, and if I must go through hoops to do it, so be it!
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him nod just then, so it would seem the game is on…
At first glance, he seems an unlikely hero, at least for one of my books. Not very tall, and slender with dark eyes and long hair tied back in a ponytail. Simply dressed in a dark shirt and jeans. But there is an aura about him, he could be a magician, magically producing doves from balls of tissue or flowers from thin air.
He has moved a little closer. I seem to have his full attention…
He is probably something in law enforcement, a police officer or detective, or why would he have turned up on my doorstep? I get killers too, but somehow I know he isn’t one of them. I hadn’t intended to write another crime thriller, I fancied a change, something haunting or spooky perhaps.
There is another character in my head, and although this one looks harmless, all blonde and attractive, the boy next door type. But I know instinctively that he means trouble. Are these two men destined to cross swords? I am beginning to think they are…
I have a lot of thinking imagining to do and to save confusion; I will call the dark haired one David and the blonde William. I already know they are two very different people, and discovering what they are about will be very interesting…
The Scarlet Ribbon has to be my all time favourite of all Anita’s books. Inspired by the song, I think she was truly inspired when she wrote it. (Don’t tell anyone, but there may be a sequel!)
Excerpt from The Scarlet Ribbon
It was all over at last. He would never hurt anyone ever again. Annie’s mother had paid dearly, given away her own freedom. Murder was murder, no matter how necessary. But if it was up to me, I’d have given her a medal. I wondered when it had happened, and why we hadn’t heard anything. We must have fallen into a deep sleep, upstairs with Annie.
Alan carried Annie down the stairs, past her mother who was still leaning against the open front door. Her face was wiped clean of emotion, no tears as Annie was taken from her. She might as well have used the same knife on herself. She was dead inside, a lifeless husk with faded blue eyes. I couldn’t feel sorry for her though. It was too late for that.
I walked past her, following Annie, forgetting all about David until he called my name.
‘You can’t go with her, Mags. We’ve done our part, it’s over now.’
I kept on walking beside her, trying to touch her hand, her hair, whispering my goodbyes.
Alan sat Annie in the back seat of the car and we watched as it drove away. Half way down Stanley Road, Annie turned and looked through the rear window. Was she taking one last look at what had been her home, or was she saying goodbye to me?
I lowered my eyes, not wanting to see her disappear, that’s when I noticed the red ribbon lying in the road at my feet. For a moment I hardly dared touch it. What if it disintegrated or something? Slowly I plucked up the courage to pick it up, and holding it in my hand, I realised that it was the closest I had ever come to touching her, really touching her. Suddenly, tears were coursing down my face.
David put his arms around me, he didn’t speak and I was grateful for the silence. My tears became huge, gasping sobs as my heart emptied itself of all the pain, only to be replaced by another kind. As he led me away we heard sirens behind us. Not the kind we have today, but loud bells.
Somebody had called the police.
I put Annie’s ribbon in my jeans pocket, wiped my face and said, ‘Where to now?’
‘You choose, Maggie.’
‘Home, let’s both go home. We’ve done what we came here for.’ I waited for a tremor, a sign. But nothing happened. We were still there.
‘This can’t be happening. You said I could go back if I helped. I have, now let me go!’
‘Who on earth are you talking to, Mags?’
‘The voice, the one that keeps me here. Haven’t you heard it?’
He shook his head.
‘Well, if it won’t let me out, I’ll find my own way back. I’m not staying here.’
I started walking double time. David had to run to catch up to me.
‘You don’t have to follow me. Find your own way out.’
‘There’s gratitude for you. Thanks a bunch, Mags.’ He emphasised the Mags. ‘All right, Miss Smarty-pants, how do you know which way is out? Or if there is more than one way out of here. We may be stuck with each other a while yet.’
I stopped walking and he bumped into me. Without turning around, I mumbled, ‘Sorry.’
‘Pardon?’ he said. ‘I didn’t catch that.’
I knew he had, but said it again anyway. Before I knew what was happening, he had turned me around and kissed me.
And I let it happen. It felt so good to have his arms around me, his lips soft and warm, so warm it was bringing parts of me alive that I had almost forgotten about.
As much as I wanted it, needed to be held and loved, I couldn’t let it happen. I loved Jack, but David felt so familiar as if those arms had held me before.
All too often, it can be anything but. Not exactly nightmarish, but many weird confusing images that can make you feel uncomfortable.
You find yourself worrying about them, what do they mean? Is there a message there somewhere? Why do we dream?
Doctors and psychologists have come up with some interesting theories over the years, but do they really know?
Common sense would seem to suggest that it is just the brain sorting through the days images when we are asleep, and most of the time it does sound likely. But what about all those dreams that seem to mean something? Or those that seem to warn us of danger?
Then there are those that appear to predict the future, which then come true. What are we supposed to think about those?
Personally, I don’t dream much, not that I can remember anyway. The odd romantic fantasy about whomever I fancy at the time, but these are getting rarer. (unfortunately!)
Sarah Curtis, the lead character in Not My Life, is being driven slowly insane by upsetting and confusing dreams, where she seems to be someone else entirely. Someone very real and in a lot of trouble.
This excerpt picks up the story when Sarah has wandered into the woods and gets lost…
I didn’t know where to go, so I let fate lead me off towards the woods. I walked for a while, trying not to think of anything. I told myself I should be feeling the beauty of the place. The trees in their splendid autumn colours, leaves falling here and there making little drifts under the trees. I had heard somewhere that to catch a falling leaf was supposed to bring good luck. I tried and it was impossible. They seemed to fall gently towards you, and then at the last minute, darted away on a capricious breeze.
Trying to catch one frustrated the hell out of me. I gave up and sat for a while on a dry log, eating some chocolate I found in my pocket. Then I realised I had no idea of where I was and it was getting dark. I should have brought a loaf of bread with me to leave a trail, like Hansel and Gretel. I didn’t feel too afraid; they would find me sooner or later. And later might be better. I walked on between ever-thicker undergrowth, hoping it was the way out. That a path, any path, would appear soon.
I found myself in a clearing with a pool, large rocks and slow running water. My throat was dry enough for me to scoop up a handful and it was surprisingly good. Deciding I was definitely lost and too tired to walk any further, I gathered up as many fallen leaves as I could to lie down in, and buried myself for the night.
The temperature dropped considerably and my bed of leaves gave little warmth. I slept fitfully, dreaming of who I really was. A girl called Kelly. And Tommy, my four year old brother, who once again had been sent to the coal cellar as punishment for wetting his bed. It wasn’t his fault. Father had made him drink far too much water; he must have known he would wet the bed. And mother, she did nothing to stop his cruel games. There had been times in the past when she did, only to be cruelly beaten herself, without saving Tommy or myself from whatever punishment he saw fit. I knew the house I was in, these people, my parents as well as my own skin. Yet there was another place with gentle people I could sense, but somehow couldn’t reach.
Soft cold rain washed the dream away and I awoke, alone on a bed of wet leaves. Lost, waiting to be found. Too tired to move. Too dark to try to find my way out. Morning couldn’t be too far away; I would try again then…
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