Friday, June 26, 2015

One Step At A Time

By Ruth Reynolds
Historical Romance, 251 pages
Cover art by Richard Stroud
Emma leaves England to marry Frank the Australian she met in WW1 London arriving in Sydney to find things are not as expected.
Adjusting to country life, jealousy and tragedy, Emma finds help from an unexpected source, which brings unplanned complications into her life.
Having learned to take things one day at a time, a letter out of the blue changes everything around.
An Opportunity
Emma had adjusted quite well to yet another change in her life by accepting the good with the bad, with the thought that surely there would be an improvement soon. In many ways she was very much on her own, as Frank dealt with the difficult situation by virtually ignoring it. Whenever she tried to engage him in conversation, he either became evasive, or was defensive about his inability to find work. Whether he was really trying, Emma had no way of knowing, for he refused to discuss it. Certainly he left the house most days ostensibly in search of work, but the fact that he always smelt of alcohol when he finally came home made her wonder how quickly he had given up on his search.
She tried to question Hannah about it, for it was his sister who would know some of the facts, working as she did at the only hotel in the area. Poor Hannah, torn between loyalty to her brother and her friendship with Emma, was not a lot of help. Her excuse for Frank was that as everyone from the area came eventually to the pub there was as good a chance as anywhere else for him to hear about any jobs that may come up. This may well have been true and as she knew virtually nothing about the district and its way of life, Emma had no recourse other than to accept it at face value.
She found it impossible sitting in the house alone, for with Hannah at work and Frank gone on his travels, there was always a painful awareness of the other presence in the house. Emma often wondered what the older woman did to pass the time, for she spent all day in her closed room. She ate virtually nothing during the day and only emerged to visit the privy, returning to her bedroom without a word spoken.
With so much time on her hands, Emma decided to explore the area outside the house. Realising that her city clothes were totally unsuitable for venturing into the bush, she found an old pair of Frank’s trousers, which she cut off to suit her shorter legs. She wore them with a long sleeved blouse tucked in at the waist, a length of rope to hold them up and the trouser legs tucked into thick socks. This, with stout boots and a broad-brimmed hat was her uniform for her almost daily trips of exploration.
There were many well-trodden paths leading into the bush, so armed with a stick (for out here her fear of snakes was justified) she set off wearing an old haversack she had found in one of the cupboards. In it was her book, either the one on botany or whatever she happened to be reading at the moment, a bottle of water and a rough sandwich of bread and cheese, wrapped in greaseproof paper.
If she intended to spend her time in a shady spot writing letters rather than reading, she packed a writing pad and her Waterman fountain pen. Neither Frank nor Hannah ever saw her in her “bush clothes,” as she thought of them, for by the time they came home she had changed into more acceptable gear. Whether the other inhabitant of the house knew about it she knew not and cared even less.

Monday, June 15, 2015

In The Lake

By Joel Jurrens
Mystery/Crime, 297 Page
Cover Art by Richard Stroud
Playboy billionaire Dyslin Coakler and his porn star girlfriend are famous for their Friday night sex parties at their mansion on the north end of Burgess Lake. When a wealthy regular partygoer is found floating in the lake with a single stab wound, the suspects start popping up like cards from a gambler’s sleeve. Is the woman a victim of sex games that went too far? Or did a jealous girlfriend of one of the woman’s local boy toys seek revenge?
The storm came out of nowhere. One minute the sky sparkled with stars and a moment later a dark curtain of clouds crept across it and blotted them out. On the far side of the lake a streak of lightning flashed, snaking down at the water in a crooked white streak. A few seconds later, thunder shook the air. As if the cage restraining it had been smashed, an enraged wind stormed across the lake. In an instant the lake’s walleye chop became a fury of whitecaps with foaming waves engulfing each other.
Caught by the sudden wind, the boat swung sharply to starboard, and waves splashed over its side. The boat’s automatic bilge pump kicked in with a low hum for a few seconds before shutting off again.
Straightening the boat with an expert hand on the motor’s tiller, he thought he heard the tornado sirens go off in the town of Burgess. He listened for a moment, but didn’t hear them again. It wouldn’t have made any difference. He couldn’t stop now.
The cold wind mixed with the smell of impending rain made him shiver. The waves were scary-high. The boat came off the top of one and banged down in the trough between the waves, the propeller growling between crashes as it lost contact with the water and flailed in the air. With each bounce of the boat, water sprayed him. In a moment his soaked shirt dripped water onto his pants, soaking them, too. Rain gear lay snug and dry in the center storage compartment, but he didn’t have time to dig it out. He turned his shoulder to the waves and adjusted the motor’s trim to try to smooth out the ride. It didn’t help. The lake tossed the boat around like a gorilla swatting at a tennis ball.
This is trouble, he thought. The weather report had said a chance of thunderstorms when he checked it in the afternoon. Normally he would have looked at the weather radar before coming out, but he didn’t have the luxury of time. If he could have seen the lake clearly, he knew he would have been scared to death. But he couldn’t see more than a few feet in any direction, except occasionally the lights on shore peeking at him from the darkness as he crested a wave, and disappearing as he came down off of it. Running without lights, he could actually see better not having to fight their glare than if they had been on, but still he couldn’t see. He navigated by watching the lighted screen on his GPS/fish finder.
The contour lines on his fish finder showed Lone Goose Bar fast approaching. He changed his course and headed out over deeper water. With these waves he’d rip out the motor’s lower unit if he tried to cross the shallow bar.
When the boat had passed the bar, he angled back toward Five-mile Bar. The thick clouds overhead abruptly shut down his GPS as it lost contact with the satellites. Running just by the map of the lake he had in his head and the small compass beside his seat, he watched the depth line on his fish finder as it fell away.

Friday, June 05, 2015

Holy Fudgesicles

By Jason Bougger
Young Adult, 237 pages
Cover art by Trisha FitzGerald
Purchase from Barnes and Noble, Smashwords or Amazon
Getting run over by a bus can ruin your day, but it doesn't have to ruin your summer. The accident leaves ninth grader Kyle Hickman seemingly dead at the scene as he makes a quick visit to an unexpected afterlife. He awakens unscathed with a new sense of being, an unclear mission, and mystical healing powers.

Holy Fudgesicles follows Kyle as he comes to terms with the new life resulting from his powers, while taking on the increasingly difficult tasks of covering his tracks and fulfilling his purpose.
“We’ll never get laid playing Dungeons and Dragons.”
Those were the words my pal Chris used to convince me to put down the dice and pick up the pigskin.
The words that so eloquently hit me over the head, telling me I was a dork.
They were also, of course, the words that ran through my head as I died.
I suppose it shouldn’t have come as a big shock to anyone. I always did lack the basic coordination required to succeed in any kind of athletic activity. But on that infamous Sunday afternoon, when Zack and Mike reluctantly hit the backyard to throw around a football with me, I knew something great was about to come down the horizon for all of us.
Our gaming group consisted of Zack, Mike, and Chris, but it was Chris who was the first to drop out. He was right, of course. It was time to give up the silly kid’s stuff and start trying to fit in if we wanted our lives to amount to anything.
It was time to put the days of role playing and video games behind us. In their place: sports, beer, and girls. We were, after all, entering our final summer vacation before starting high school.
So with a canceled gaming session, I felt we had no alternative but to try following the killer advice given to me by Chris just an hour earlier. I dusted off the unused football my dad bought me for Christmas last year and brought it over to Zack’s house.
“What the hell are we supposed to do with that?” Mike asked, using the same tone he might have used to ask why someone would bring an antique porcelain statue to a pre-school birthday party.
“I don’t know.” The thing still felt awkward in my hands. “Throw it around, I guess.”
“Why would we want to do that?” He grimaced, backing up a few steps as he said it.
I thought about it for a couple of seconds, looking at the way he wore one of his too-tight-shirts tucked into his too-short-shorts really making his gut stick out, and then the correct answer came to me: “Because it’s what the cool kids do.”
Zack poked his head out from around the corner. “What? We’re not cool?”
“No. We’re not,” I said, staring squarely at his mullet.
“But I’ve got a Monty Python’s Flying Circus DVD on in the living room as we speak.”
“You know what? We’ll never get laid watching Monty Python’s Flying Circus.” I didn’t let the fact that I was standing in his front door stop me from throwing the ball directly at him. Or at least attempting to throw the ball directly at him. Since that was the first time I had ever actually thrown a football, it just kind of spun out of control in his general direction.