Trust, by Avery WOODS

cover_Trust Why does society treat you as an outcast when you’re single? Is it not bad enough that I have my two best friends pressuring me to date every chance they get. It’s probably because I still haven’t told them the reason I’ve avoided dating: The fact that I am HIV positive. It’s this dirty little secret I’ve been keeping to myself for the last two years. I’ve tried telling my friends and family numerous times, but something always gets in my way. At least that’s what I tell myself. Don’t worry, I’m ninety percent sure you can find my picture under the word cynical in the dictionary.
Since my ex-boyfriend basically called me a walking disease, I’ve lost a bit of my self confidence you could say. I mean, how am I suppose to tell my friends and family? I guess writing a letter to my parents won’t cut it.
More importantly, how is Travis, the new guy I like going to take the news? He is perfect, and I am far from it. I have to trust him, but trusting someone is easier said than done.
If dealing with HIV wasn’t enough, the bombshell my mom decided to invoke on my sister and I sure takes the cake. At least that’s what I thought, until I attended Lauren’s birthday party. Who knew that would be a night I would never forget.
Who would have thought ripping off a band aid would be the most painful route to take?


Available at…
Roane Publishing;     Amazon;     Amazon UK;
Barnes & Noble;      Kobo;      Smashwords;
iTunes;      Bookstrand


Excerpt:

This isn’t good. She knows, damn it. I can’t even lie to her and tell her I take the medications for a different reason. She knows what the medications are for. I completely forgot I had my medications in my purse when I gave her permission to go into it to grab the tampon. I mean, I wasn’t thinking. I was half asleep. I don’t know what to say. She’s caught me off guard. I stay silent.

“The medications are anti-retroviral medications. They are used to treat HIV.”

Cori gasps, completely shocked. She looks at me, but I turn my head. I can’t look at her. “Do you have HIV?” she asks.

I stand up to clear my plate. I’ve lost my appetite. What am I supposed to say?
“Those aren’t mine.”

Brennley stands up. “Hayden, I saw your name on them.”

I get defensive. This is my worst case scenario. I wanted to be the one to tell them on my own accord, so Brennley finding out this way? It’s awful.
“Maybe I took them out under my name for someone else, did you ever think of that? Maybe someone who’s ashamed of having to go to the pharmacy to buy them, worried they will be judged? Did you ever think of that?” Okay, that was a horrible lie, but I’m feeling cornered.

Brennley blows out a breath, and scratches her head. “No, I didn’t. I wasn’t accusing you of anything. I was just stating what I saw.”

I’m angry, but only because they found out like this. “Well, don’t jump to conclusions.”
I look over at Cori and I can see tears forming in her blue eyes.

“Hayden, just be honest with us. Whose medications are those?”

I squeeze my eyes shut. I will not cry. “No one’s!” I shout.

I look over and see tears now forming in Brennley’s eyes. I can’t do this. There are too many emotions floating throughout this room. I’m sad, hurt, angry, devastated, frustrated, and feeling very, very guilty.

“They aren’t mine,” I sob. My shoulders begin to shake.

Cori comes over and lifts my hands away from my face and wraps me in a hug.
“Hayden, it’s okay if they are yours, just be honest with us. We don’t care if they are yours.”

You know the feeling you get when you are about to cry and someone asks you if you are alright and, it’s them saying that, that makes you ultimately cry? That’s what I’m feeling right now. I release Cori’s grip on me and gently push her away. I turn and walk to the other side of the kitchen. I turn to face them. I wipe the tears that have spilled down my cheeks. I shake out my hands. My heart is hammering in my chest. My chest feels tight, like an elephant is sitting on it. I feel a bit dizzy, like the room is moving and I’m having trouble seeing straight. I take a deep breath until both of them come back into focus.

I decide it’s time for the truth to come out. Although when I tell them I can’t look at them. I’m scared to see their reaction.

“Alright, I give up. Those pills are mine.” I cry. “Because in fact, I am  HIV positive.”

Three Wonderful Children ‘s Picture Books, by Australian Authors

Presented by the publisher, Exisle Publishing, with these three new releases for review was an instant delight. Beautifully bound, delightfully illustrated, and all with a story both entertaining and enlightening… they are ideal for a shared reading experience for non-readers.
Such fine books are they, that they were immediately snagged by an Early Childhood Education teacher trainee for use at her pre-school centre. I had to fight to retain them until this review was written! For each book, I have summarised the story outline, and included the official blurb provided by Exisle. I have also calculated the “Initial Independent Reading Age” (using NZ’s Noun Count method) so parents may allow an older child to read it to the younger child. Refer to * notes within each book’s details.

Click on each title to Buy
or visit the www.ExislePublishing.com site.


cover_Grandma Forgets Grandma Forgets, a journey of love by Paull RUSSELL & Nicky Johnston

Exisle says: A warm, uplifting picture book about a family bound by love as they cope with their grandmother’s dementia.
When your grandmother can’t remember your name it should be sad, but maybe it is just an opportunity to tell her more often how much you love her. Over the years, the little girl in Grandma Forgets has built up a treasure trove of memories of time spent with Grandma: sausages for Sunday lunch, driving in her sky-blue car to the beach, climbing her apple trees while she baked a delicious apple pie, and her comforting hugs during wild storms. But now, Grandma can’t remember those memories. She makes up new rules for old games and often hides Dad’s keys. Sometimes Dad is sad because he has to hold onto the memories for both him and his mother now, but fortunately his daughter is only too happy to help him make new memories to share. This is a warm, hopeful story about a family who sometimes needs to remind their grandmother a little more often than they used to about how much they care. She might not remember any of their names but she will always know how much she is loved.
Red says: So many children have grandparents going through this stage, bewildering to the children. This book is perfect for helping them understand.
Hardbound ISBN 978-1-9235336-47-7
Paperback ISBN 978-1-9253358-1-1
* Initial Independent reading age 7 ½ to 8 ½


cover_Visiting YouVisiting You, a journey of love by Rebecka Sharpe SHELBURG & Andrea SIMMONDS

Exisle says: A heart-warming celebration of the power of love, and how it’s our similarities, not our differences, that matter most.
Setting out to visit their loved one, a child curiously asks a fellow commuter, ‘Who are you going to visit?’, and in answer to this simple question, the child learns about the love and loss in the life of a stranger. A father who lives apart from his small daughter, a husband who has lost his wife, a granddaughter who is forgotten by her grandfather, and a mother who fears for her son’s recovery. After each conversation, the child understands that the other commuter has someone in their life that they love ‘as much as I love you’, and it is this understanding that allows the child to explore the most universal of human experiences: the power of love in the many different forms that it can take. Visiting You also explores a sense of community. Under his mother’s supervision, a young child reaches out and connects with the people around them; they’re not scared of strangers, or people who might ‘look’ scary, or people who are different to them. Sometimes it can take conscious decision and determination to look past outward appearances. Visiting You encourages us to find the similarities between people instead of focusing on differences, to recognise some part of ourselves in the life of a stranger.
Red says: One of a child’s social challenges is accepting differences with their social environment. This book introduces them kindly to people who are not so different from anyone else.
Hardbound ISBN 978-1-925665-66-8
* Initial Independent reading age 9 to 10 years


cover_Art GardenThe Art Garden, sowing the seed of creativity by Penny HARRISON & Penelope PRATLEY

Exisle says: A whimsical story about friendship and nurturing our creative flair.
Sadie wants to be a painter, just like her best friend, Tom. She loves playing with colour and finding shapes in unlikely places. But whenever Sadie picks up a paintbrush she makes a big mess. So instead, she spends her time working in the garden or playing with Tom. But, one day, Sadie gets a look at things from a different perspective — and makes a big discovery about herself and her own creativity. The Art Garden is a whimsical story about friendship and finding our creative flair. It encourages children to explore different ways of expressing themselves and celebrates the importance of individuality and self-acceptance.
Red says: Some children soon realise they cannot “do” what others can; this book helps them understand that it is not necessary to give up on what a child can do, for struggling to imitate what another child can do – all children have different learning styles, and different ways of expressing their creativity.
Hardbound ISBN 978-1-925335-59-0
* Initial Independent reading age 11 ½ TO 15 ½

 

 

Three Reasons I Avoid Writing Book Reviews — Sharon Hughson, Author, Reposted

I read tons of books. And I enjoy reading them. Even if I don’t end up liking the book all that much, reading has the potential to make me a better writer of stories. And even though I track all my books on Goodreads, I’ve stopped writing reviews for many of the books I read.…

via Three Reasons I Avoid Writing Book Reviews — Sharon Hughson, Author

Kathy Sutcliffe Bonanza

At Saturday’s meeting on Rotorua Writers Group, we were graced by our guest author, New Zealnd’s Kathy Sutcliffe. 

She delighted us with her back-story of the origins of her three novels… Write My Face and When Romeo Kissed Mercutio, both published 2012, and Moon Boy published 2017. She read an extract from the latter, which held us engrossed. 

I bought a copy of all three, so you can expect a set of reviews later…

Reviews Coming Soon

I love christmas, if only because people give me books. Or money or vouchers to buy books. So you may expect reviews soon of some or all of these…

“Mythos – The Greek Myths Retold” by Stephen Fry

“The QI Book of the Dead – Lives of the Justly Famous & the Undeservedly Obscure”, by John Lloyd (CBE) & John Mitchinson

“Now We Are Dead”, by Stuart MacBride

“The 45% Hangover, by Stuart MacBride

“Lutapolii” by Virginnia De Parte

“Scavengers” by Sheryl [Surname to come]

A lovely mix!

“Crimson Curse”, released Feb 7

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The Crimson Curse
A Romance / Fantasy by Melissa J. Crispin

 

Cursed and disfigured, Calliope must find true love before the final leaf falls from the Enchanted Tree. Being bound to her mansion on the outskirts of town leaves her with little hope.

 

Abandoned by his wife for a wealthy man, Bastian only needs one female in his life, his five-year-old daughter, Yareena.
When she goes missing during a raging fire, fate brings him to a strange place where he encounters a woman wearing a golden mask. An attack by rogues puts Bastian in Calliope’s care. As he struggles against pride and prejudice, Bastian can’t ignore his growing attraction to the kind soul behind the mask.

 

Yareena and the mansion staff do their best at matchmaking, but Calliope can’t reveal her darkest secret. Will Bastian discover her true beauty before it’s too late?

 

~~~oOo~~~

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Melissa J. Crispin lives in Connecticut with her husband, two kids, and an adorable Siberian Husky. She spends her days in the corporate world, and pursues her passion for writing in the late nights and early mornings.
From micro-fiction to novels, Melissa loves to write stories in varying lengths. But, no matter the story, it’s almost always about the romance.

 

LINKS:
Ms Crispin’s site
~~~oOo~~~

 

EXCERPT:

Calliope returned her attention to Bastian, grasping his shoulder with a gentle hand and giving him a small shake. When he didn’t stir, she considered how she could clean the wound without undressing him as he slept. She had never taken off a man’s clothing before, and she hardly wanted her first time to be when he wasn’t even aware of her actions. But, no other options seemed available. She started at the bottom button of his shirt, working her way up with trembling fingers, and spreading the fabric apart when the last of the buttons slipped free.

 

Her eyes roamed his upper body. While she was supposed to be assessing the extent of his injuries, she couldn’t deny the flash of heat that blasted through her at the sight of his bare skin.

 

She dipped a washcloth in the basin that Mrs. Widdleworth left on the night table, wringing out the excess water. As she dabbed at the gash near his naval, his vulnerability in that moment struck her in a way she had not expected. After their first encounter, she would have predicted his ego to get in the way, choosing to bleed to death in the cold rather than accept anything from her.

 

Although he suffered a serious injury, his daughter seemed to remain his utmost concern. Could his earlier ill-temper have been an unusual display? A behavior born out of fear for his daughter’s safety?

 

Maybe she had been wrong about him.

 

She pressed her lips together, allowing the notion to sink in as she dropped the bloody fabric off to the side, and proceeded to stitch the wound with shaky fingers. When the task was complete, she picked up a fresh cloth to use as a dressing. Relief washed over her as she inspected the area before covering it up. The slice in his flesh went deep, but not nearly as deep as she initially feared. She positioned the bandage and fixed it in place, her gaze catching a thin trail of hair that started under the center of his chest, following the way it continued lower down his body, and even further yet where it dipped beneath his trousers.

 

“It’s been a long time since a woman has laid her hands on me,” Bastian said, his voice rough.

 

Calliope jumped, heat infusing her cheeks. “My apologies if this offends. Marcus doesn’t fare well with blood. I had to care for your injury myself.” Her eyes met his, and to her surprise, no anger seemed to stir there.

 

“I was only teasing.” He swallowed hard, appearing to bite back the immense discomfort he had to be feeling. “Thank you.”

 

She inclined her head. “You’re welcome.”

 

I shouldn’t have been so terse with you earlier. Yareena is my life, and when I couldn’t find her, well…” He reached for his face, pressing the heel of his hand against his jaw. “I lost my sense for a short while. I apologize.”

 

Reviewing Love Under the Harvest Moon

harvest-moon-cover-revealThis anthology of five stories has something for any romance reader. The six authors have each “met the brief”, so to speak, in their own unique way, and have brought to the collection tales reflecting the season and the age.

As a former teacher (but not in the US) two stories felt nicely familiar: Claire Davon’s Opposite Directions, and Laura Lamoreaux’s & T.L. French’s A Harvest Homecoming. Nice, moving to teach at a new school and finding oh, so much more!

Nemma Wollenfang’s Amidst the Strawberry Fields (a Young Adult Romance) I thoroughly enjoyed – its nod to gypsy heritage and old harvest customs are comfortable and easily slot into my own personal interest.

T.E. Hodden’s Autumn Leaves is an incredibly credible tale of acceptance and that facet of love we call kindness, towards a transgender young woman.

Patricia Crisafulli’s Moon Dance tells of a woman, struggling as a solo parent and daughter of her ill mother, who finds herself drawn to dance in the street with the man who comes to fix the roof, then fixes more.

The collection has something for everyone, and this would make a wonderful gift

Available from Roane Publishing, and other outlets listed

Roane Black on White

No wonder it’s a marked down price!

Spotted Led Zeppelin – You Shook Me at a knock-off LedZepp cock-up
price, and being a lover of Stairway To Heaven,
grabbed it!

When reading the book, I found my “editor-mind” taking over. There are So Many c**k-ups in the text it is a very poor production. *

Then of course, I looked properly at the cover…
“4 DVD BOOK SET COLLECTORS LIMITED EDITION”
and at the foot, “UNOFFICIAL AND UNAUHORISED”
S. O. Dear, me…

Okay, I bought it for the DVDs. But the errors, that a good proof-reader should have found and fixed, Really bugged me. In one section, whole paragraphs (even a part-paragraph) had been repeated. Couldn’t help m’self. I grabbed a pencil and marked up the initial paragraphs…LedZepp 1st sections
…then the repeated paragraphs…
LedZepp 2nd sections
… and all the other, minor proofing slips, which I won’t show here.

What a disappointment for Led Zeppelin fans! But then, many won’t mind as the content contains a host of information which I’d not known. So, you get what you pay for, I guess.

* Publication data:
Author? not mentioned – content possibly lifted from other sources?
© Hurricane International Ltd
First Published by FHE Ltd – but – Date?
Photography? Courtesy of Pictorial Press, Wikimedia Commons, and Getty Images – unless indicated otherwise
ISBN: 978-0-9939170-1

Recommendation? Good if you only want a “potted” summary and the DVDs, and can live with the errors.

 

 

Top Two Sources of “Hearts Of Valor” Authors’ Inspiration –

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Hearts of Valor — Authors’ Top Two Sources of Inspiration:
Having had the pleasure of editing three of the stories included in this anthology. I asked every author “What are your top two sources of inspiration?” Here are their responses… 

London SAINT JAMES:
I did pull some of my hero’s stoic traits from a real life hero.
Music!

Jean YOUNG:
Danny Walker (played by Josh Hartnett) in Pearl Harbor and …
the New Hampshire man who helped us in that frigid evening (see above story).

S.L. HUGHSON:
Things people say
Personal hopes and expectations for a better/different world

T. E. HODDEN:
 Museums! You can not beat a curiosity found in the corner of a museum to fire your inspiration.
Magazines, especially those about subjects you would not normally read about. They cheap, and often surprising.

Philip LISAGOR:
I have always been inspired by the hardships of the family members left behind while mom or dad are deployed into a combat zone. They continue to live their lives with their loved one thousands of miles of away. They deserve a medal for this service.
I am also inspired by the teaching of the prophet Amos who teaches us that the sins of murder, adultery and idolatry can be forgive, but the sine of ignoring the needs of the poor can never be brushed away. Truly wonderful advice for us to have today.

Terri ROCHENSKI:
Everyday conversations I experience or hear.
People ‘watching’ and wondering what their story is.

So, there you are – an insight to each writer in this great anthology of tales of valor in the romance world.
Look for the Hearts Of Valour Blog Tour Page here (Having trouble setting it to reveal itself, ratzit!)