THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: Helga: Out of Hedgelands (Wood Cow Chronicles), Rick Johnson

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Rick Johnson’s Frugal Find Under Nine:

Description of Helga: Out of Hedgelands (Wood Cow Chronicles):

Twelve-year-old Helga has more danger in her life than most beasts her age—Wrackshee slavers after her, a vicious attack by bandits that nearly kills her, a race against dragons pursuing her, and leading a daring rebellion to save her life and rescue friends and family from the insidious WooZan. And that is just the beginning. But what do you expect when you are a young beast who just can’t see the stupid rules of the world making any sense? Helga can’t accept things as they are and ends up taking on not just one, but two all-powerful, supreme tyrants in two different realms.

Helga never intended to lead a revolution. It just sort of happened because she wouldn’t go along with the “rules of normal” that keep tyrants in power and entire societies enslaved. Beginning on a dangerous quest to solve some mysteries in her own past, Helga leads her quirky comrades on a journey that will not only forever change them, but upset ancient civilizations.

As an author, I’m drawn to eccentric, unexpected characters: those who surprise because they hear a distant galaxy, see a different music, create their own fragrance rather than get hooked on a soundtrack; the child who has her own ideas about how the emperor is dressed; the lunatics and rebels who tell stories on the boundaries. Helga’s unusual story will take readers to worlds they never imagined—definitely a whole new ride.

Time and again, the unconventional heroine and her eccentric comrades overcome ominous tyrants and black-hearted slavers, not by battling to the last beast standing, but by being the first beast to think differently.

Helga: Out of Hedgelands is divided into three books which introduce the epic saga of the Wood Cow clan and their role in overturning centuries of slavery and tyranny. This story will continue in additional volumes of the Wood Cow Chronicles now in development. Over the series of current and future volumes, the entire history of the Wood Cow clan, the fall of Maev Astuté, and the coming of Lord Farseeker to the Outer Rings, will be told.

 

Accolades:

Amazon 5-Star Reviews:

STEP ASIDE FRODO Since completing the Lord of the Rings trilogy in college, I’ve looked forward to a fantasy series that exhibited the potential to keep me up reading well past my bed time. Helga, Out of Hedgelands, did just that. Mr Johnson has created a fascinating world full of vivid landscapes and characters wise and courageous enough to inhabit them. Helga is a tale for young and old alike. Pour yourself a hot cup of Peskee tea and gather round your children or grandchildren. You’re in for a treat. I am eagerly awaiting the next installment.

HELGA IS A NEW CLASSIC! Absolutely phenomenal book . . . J K Rowling step aside!! I can’t wait to read Book Two!! Creativity abounds, excitement rips through each page. It doesn’t get better than this! Helga needs to become a classic!

Helga, the wood cow, is the essence of a courageous woman, a true role model for any young person. She solves difficult situations in her life through steadfast belief that she will be assisted and she can do it, no matter what it is. This book has the most creative characters, environments, even food descriptions, of any story for children that I have read. It meets the standard set by the classics, and it is even about cows, lizards, otters, and every animal imaginable. Don’t miss this great book.

WONDERFUL FAMILY READ Helga: Out of Hedgelands is a perfect family book for evening read aloud — or individual reading for ages 10 to 100.
It is an amazing story. Not only does it provide adventure, mystery, charming – and not so charming – characters, delightful descriptions and a truly warm story – but it also provides the reader with many areas that are perfect for discussions about discrimination, class systems, peer pressure, and other life issues using the animals as examples. The author has provided a master piece with his story telling and has also given the readers many things to think about on topics that can be easily understood and discussed by all ages. I highly recommend reading Helga: Out of the Hedgelands and hope the author soon comes out with his next book.

 

Amazon Reader Reviews:

Helga: Out of Hedgelands (Wood Cow Chronicles) currently has a Amazon reader review rating of 4.3 stars, with 10 reviews! Read the reviews here!

Helga: Out of Hedgelands (Wood Cow Chronicles) is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $0.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!

 

Excerpt from Helga: Out of Hedgelands (Wood Cow Chronicles):

Tangled snags of fallen trees and piles of debris littered the riverbank. Floating along, exhausted, half-submerged, Helbara grabbed a protruding branch to rest a moment. Remaining low in the water with her small daughter, Helga, clinging to her back, she pulled herself in among the dense reeds and willows surrounding the fallen tree. Except for the soft gurgling of the Deep Springs River—its water colored bronze in the light of the orange moon overhead—the warm night was ominously quiet. Struggling to control the harsh rasping of her ragged breathing, Helbara knew she could not rest long. “Help us, Ancient Ones,” she breathed, as the glint of moonlight caught on more and more points of polished metal rounding the riverbend not more than a hundred yards away. Her mind worked in frantic desperation as she watched what almost seemed to be clouds of ghostly fireflies approaching from up the river.

She hardly had time to think, however, before Helga’s grip on her neck tightened. Their pursuers were drawing near. “Snake-bloods, Mama! Now what?” her five-year-old daughter whispered urgently.

“Shee’wheet, Helga, Shee’wheet,” Helbara whispered. “Yes, I see them. The Wrackshees will soon be here. Be still. Ever so quiet.”

Six heavily-armed Wrackshees, kneeling in individual kayaks made of tightly-woven reeds, paddled silently toward them. The once-faint outlines of the Wrackshee slave hunters steadily grew more distinct as they approached. Their beeline course on the wide river seemed to be zeroing in on Helbara’s hiding place. She realized she could not risk further movement above water—the Wrackshees were now too close.

Shaking the reeds as little as possible, she pulled herself and Helga further back among the reeds until only small cracks were left to peer through. Sensing Helga’s rising terror, Helbara softly whispered an old lullaby to her daughter, trying to calm her: “Shee’wheet, Sweet-Leaf, Shee’wheet…Shee’wheet, Sweet-Leaf, Shee’wheet…”

Her own heart banging in her chest, Helbara watched the Wrackshee kayaks approaching relentlessly. Moonlight clearly revealed the albino Wolf in the lead kayak—small in stature, abnormally flattened face, thick-necked, with a large moustache. She shuddered. Six kayaks. One Wolf and five Weasels. Somewhere behind them, many more. If she and Helga were discovered, what resistance could they offer?

Suddenly the kayaks slowed, pausing about twenty yards away—close enough that the Wrackshees’ awful stench covered the area with a suffocating blanket. Using only hand signals to communicate, the slavers silently peered here and there for any sign of their prey. The razor-sharp tips of dozens of small throwing lances, carried on bandoliers slung over the Wrackshees’ shoulders, shone red in the moonlight. Helbara knew that terrible things happened to beasts hit by those poisoned tips—going mad with thirst, eyes bugging, bleeding the color of grass. Each time the gaze of a Wrackshee seemed to fix on the spot where they were concealed, Helbara trembled on the edge of panicked flight. To do so, however, would mean certain capture or death. They were trapped. With every ounce of inner strength, Helbara held her panic in check.

“Shee’wheet, Helga, Shee’wheet…We must be very still. Do not say anything unless I ask you to.” As she uttered these words, she attempted to shift Helga’s weight on her back and slipped on the loose sand. Her boot seemed to suddenly drop into a hole. Catching herself before she made a complete fall, she feared the Weasels might have observed her misstep. For the moment, however, their pursuers seemed to be absorbed in their sign language consultation.

Moving her boot gently, Helbara explored the apparent hole where she had stumbled. The opening was large—the submerged end of a long-decaying fallen tree. In the moonlight, Helbara’s eyes struggled to see evidence of the rest of the tree. The dense reeds and willows made it difficult to be certain, but the position of the hollow end she had discovered seemed connected to a massive upended root clump visible further down the bank. How much of the tree was hollow?

“Sweet-Leaf,” Helbara whispered very softly, “I need you to explore something for me. Slide quietly off my back, take a deep breath, and duck underwater—see if you can tell if this tree beside us is hollow.” The request immediately dampened Helga’s fear. Action was an antidote to terror. As quietly as the reeds waved in the soft evening breeze, she disappeared below the surface.

In a few moments she was back. “Not hollow very far,” she whispered, “but there’s a big opening at first. Then the hollow part ends, but there’s a hole in the bark at the end that’s above water. It’s small but a beast could breathe there.” Pausing and looking deeply into her mother’s eyes, she concluded with a tone of sorrow, “But only room for a small beast.”

As she listened to her daughter’s report, a plan rapidly formed in Helbara’s mind. It was none too soon. The albino Wrackshee made a quick sign with his paw. The gesture was at the same time purposeful and sinister. The Weasels were no longer waiting. Two of the kayaks turned and glided directly toward the Wood Cows’ hiding place. Pressing her daughter close to her chest in a comforting embrace, Helbara calmly gave Helga instructions.

“The hollow space in the tree is large enough,” she said, “to conceal you well for some time. The Wrackshees will not likely think to look there for you. They may not even know you escaped with me. I want you to quietly—just as quietly as you did before—duck under again and hide in the hollow space in the tree. Be absolutely quiet no matter what happens.”

Helga immediately understood she was being asked to play a serious game of Hide-n-Seek with their pursuers. Long moments seemed to drag by. Helga knew there had been no mention of what her mother planned to do.

Then Helbara urged Helga underwater and whispered, “Sweet-Leaf, Mamma’s going to talk to those Snake-bloods to make certain they don’t harm you. I won’t be long. You wait in that hollow place and stay as quiet as you can.” She gave Helga a squeeze and handed her a pronghorn flute she had always played for her back in their home. “Take this, Sweet-Leaf, it is my promise that I will be back soon.”

Helga’s eyes met her mother’s in a deeply moving, but silent, farewell as she slipped the flute in her pocket. “Don’t worry, Mama. I will do as you say,” the look said to her mother as surely as if it were spoken.

Then Helbara stood up. “Sweet-Leaf,” she whispered after Helga silently ducked under the surface, “no matter what, wait in that hollow place. I will be back to you soon.” Whether Helbara actually believed this or not—six heavily-armed Weasels awaited her—whatever “talk” Helga’s Mamma had in mind would not be pleasant conversation…

Suddenly, the replay of her experiences from ten years earlier shifted. The silhouette of a large canoe now filled her misted vision, looming before the same young Helga, who was now sloshing miserably through the river shallows during the deepest dark of the night.

A beast crouched low in the canoe grabbed her with long, brawny arms. Captured in the strong grasp of this unknown powerful stranger, Helga’s sense of panic surged. In a desperate effort to escape, she was almost ready to bite the beast that held her, when the whisper of a gruff voice stopped her struggles.

“Hey-hey, ya lee’tle Bungeet! Stop da chop sputter, or those Wracker’mugs will b’a back at ya ’gin frighter t’en ever. Shee’wheet…Shee’wheet…Shee’wheet…”

The softly whispered “Shee’wheet” calmed Helga. The gentle, soothing tones, so reminiscent of her mother, marked this rough stranger with a kindly manner that made her feel safe. Settling the small Wood Cow in the bottom of the canoe, her rescuer—Pickles DiArdo as she later learned—continued his soft soothing lullaby and patted her gently on the back in assurance of safety, as his partner began paddling again.

“This’n Bungeet has had some stinkin’ Wracker’mugs b’itin at her,” Pickles said to the other Trapper Dog paddling in the prow. “Go for Mianney’s, Lupes—the Healer will s’nd her pain t’way.”

The canoe traveled about another two hundred yards and turned into a small, nearly invisible side channel flowing into the main river course from among the willows. Paddling with gentle determination against the current, the canoe glided toward a rough shack perched high above the water on stout poles. Giving one final hard push with their paddles, the Trapper Dogs bent low as the canoe glided under a dense thicket of wild thorn trees growing around the shack. The thorns, tough as steel and with points so sharp and fine they made marvelous sewing needles, ringed the cabin like sentries. No one would attempt to approach the shack through such ferocious thorns except those invited to come and shown the way to pass.

The thorns did not deter Pickles and Lupes, who often visited Mianney Mayoyo. Tying their canoe to one of the thorn trees, Lupes unrolled a bark mat and threw it up over the lowest branch of the tree. Using the mat for safe passage over the outermost thorns, the three travelers reached the interior of the tree where they were able to drop to the ground. Branches on the rear of this particular tree had been trimmed away to allow exit to the shack.

They had hardly reached Mianney’s shack and called out to her when she was instantly with them. The old River Cat, who was rumored to be ancient—some said she had always lived—had long, jet black hair that was smooth and shining from the walnut oil she rubbed into it each day. Dangling far down in front of her was an ornate necklace of beads, and on each wrist she had broad woven bracelets, decorated with copper sunbursts.

Mianney carried a small basket. Without any word of greeting to her visitors, she pulled a bundle of dried herbs and two green-colored balls of thorn tree pitch from the basket. Arranging the herbs and pitch balls in a ceremonious pile before them, with seeming magic she produced a glowing coal from her jacket pocket and lit the pile. A sudden burst of flame, and the herbs and pitch balls sent up a sharp pillar of fire.

As the small fire flamed, Mianney’s deep brown eyes darted here and there gleefully. Her bubbling wild intensity frightened some superstitious people, who said she was a demon in disguise. Mianney did seem to do things that were supernatural. The flames that burned so furiously for a few moments, suddenly died down, leaving a dense pungent cloud of smoke. Still without speaking, with lightning quickness Mianney lifted Helga to her arms and ascended the ladder to her shack. In the blink of an eye she and Helga were gone. A whisp of pungent smoke, swirling where Mianney had stood, was all that assured Pickles and Lupes that she had actually been with them a moment before…

As Mianney held Helga close through that long-ago night, flute music, rising and falling from a more distant cabin, was a safe and soothing sound in the dark.

That flute music—so comforting, such a balm on her terror—was, for Helga, a symbol of her deliverance. The peaceful imprint of the flute melody wafting to her during the darkest part of the night struck Helga in the heart as powerfully as the shafts of yellow sunlight that illumined Mianney Mayoyo’s shack the next morning. It was as if her mother’s promise to return soon had been fulfilled.

Helga: Out of Hedgelands (Wood Cow Chronicles) is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $0.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!


Connect with Rick Johnson:

Website: www.woodcowbooks.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/WoodCowBooks

Twitter: www.twitter.com/WoodCowBooks

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: Helga: Out of Hedgelands (Wood Cow Chronicles), Rick Johnson {$0.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!}

Sponsored Post

Rick Johnson’s Frugal Find Under Nine:

Description of Helga: Out of Hedgelands (Wood Cow Chronicles):

Twelve-year-old Helga has more danger in her life than most beasts her age—Wrackshee slavers after her, a vicious attack by bandits that nearly kills her, a race against dragons pursuing her, and leading a daring rebellion to save her life and rescue friends and family from the insidious WooZan. And that is just the beginning. But what do you expect when you are a young beast who just can’t see the stupid rules of the world making any sense? Helga can’t accept things as they are and ends up taking on not just one, but two all-powerful, supreme tyrants in two different realms.

Helga never intended to lead a revolution. It just sort of happened because she wouldn’t go along with the “rules of normal” that keep tyrants in power and entire societies enslaved. Beginning on a dangerous quest to solve some mysteries in her own past, Helga leads her quirky comrades on a journey that will not only forever change them, but upset ancient civilizations.

As an author, I’m drawn to eccentric, unexpected characters: those who surprise because they hear a distant galaxy, see a different music, create their own fragrance rather than get hooked on a soundtrack; the child who has her own ideas about how the emperor is dressed; the lunatics and rebels who tell stories on the boundaries. Helga’s unusual story will take readers to worlds they never imagined—definitely a whole new ride.

Time and again, the unconventional heroine and her eccentric comrades overcome ominous tyrants and black-hearted slavers, not by battling to the last beast standing, but by being the first beast to think differently.

Helga: Out of Hedgelands is divided into three books which introduce the epic saga of the Wood Cow clan and their role in overturning centuries of slavery and tyranny. This story will continue in additional volumes of the Wood Cow Chronicles now in development. Over the series of current and future volumes, the entire history of the Wood Cow clan, the fall of Maev Astuté, and the coming of Lord Farseeker to the Outer Rings, will be told.

 

Accolades:

Since completing the Lord of the Rings trilogy in college, I’ve looked forward to a fantasy series that exhibited the potential to keep me up reading well past my bed time. Helga, Out of Hedgelands, did just that. – Amazon Reviewer

Absolutely phenomenal book . . . J K Rowling step aside!! I can’t wait to read Book Two!! Creativity abounds, excitement rips through each page. It doesn’t get better than this! Helga needs to become a classic! – Amazon Reviewer

Rick Johnson has created a new world, filled with characters whom I would love to meet, to watch, to emulate, and to avoid! His descriptions of the “animals,” so human in their behavior and emotions, made it possible to visualize every scene, every exchange of dialogue, and to yearn for a screenwriter to take the next step so this book might someday be made into a big-screen movie. – Amazon Reviewer

 

Amazon Reader Reviews:

Helga: Out of Hedgelands (Wood Cow Chronicles) currently has a Amazon reader review rating of 4.6 stars, with 8 reviews! Read the reviews here!

Helga: Out of Hedgelands (Wood Cow Chronicles) is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $0.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!

 

Excerpt from Helga: Out of Hedgelands (Wood Cow Chronicles):

The Drownlands wharf, shrouded in one of its legendary fogs, swirled with activity in the first pale light of dawn. Fish oil lanterns cast a faint, but serviceable, glow through the fog. Swarms of boats and canoes rocked and swayed on mooring ropes along the docks. Odors of musty canvas and damp wood mingled with pungent smells of fish, crayfish, and frogs being unloaded from fishing boats. Traders haggled with peddlers or bet their luck against cardsharps. Coins rattled in the tin cups of vendors hawking frog-fritters and hot Stinger Cider.

On the landside of the wharf, galley beasts in the station house scurried about making breakfast for dockworkers and wayfarers. The aroma of frying catfish, simmering beans and baking cornbread attracted sweaty dock laborers, whooping and hollering as they collapsed into chairs around tables to take a break. A crude Otter ferry pilot, little used to niceties and finery, lifted his bowl and dribbled the last of his corn mush into his mouth, licking the bowl out with a loud slurping. Wiping his mouth on his coat sleeve, the Otter looked wildly about for a galley beast to bring him more food. Banging his bowl on the table, he roared, “Yawp! Yo, Hollos! Where’s ma fish on’a plank? Where’s ma muff and crusts? Raise me some Tabasco and galley cheer! Ha! The bell will be tollin’ for me afore I’m full, at this rate. Yo, Hollos! Jump it over here!”

The rowdy Otter, howling and hollering to be served, flicked out a sharp skinning knife and sent it flying across the room. THWANNG! The blade buried itself in the timber just above the galley door. “Yawp! Yo, Hollos! That’ll be a kindly request for ma galley cheer! Ho! Ho! Ho!” Galley beasts dashed under the quivering blade, rattling plates and bowls as they scrambled to bring him his breakfast.

But the Drownlands wharf—the frontier gateway between the rough Drownlands wilderness and the tidy settlements of the Rounds—was a place of mixing and transitions of many kinds. Not all were rubes and roughnecks. At a quiet table in the corner of the room, a party of travelers calmly finished breakfast and left to catch the running-wagon that was about to leave the station.

Just outside, Livery Rats scrambled to prepare the Drownlands Weekly for departure. Travelers loaded quickly as burly Dock Squirrels tossed bags and trunks into the rooftop luggage rack. As soon as the baggage was loaded, the Weekly rolled away from the station with creaking timbers and rattling brass, its freshly serviced wheels smelling strongly of snake grease.
Bouncing along the bare track leading away from the Drownlands station, the Weekly rumbled through the sparsely settled frontier of the Rounds. Except for the Weekly and a few cargo wagons, the bone-jarring road was little used. A river of mud when it rained and a dust-choked washboard of ruts in the dry season, the many stones in the Cutoff road gave its only predictable surface.

Three of the passengers in the Weekly on this particular spring day were creatures we will hear much about in this account of former days. There was a strongly muscled young Wood Cow with soft, thick hair and a lively face. Dressed after the manner of her clan—long barkweave jacket and leggings, lizardskin boots, forest green linen shirt—Helga dozed fitfully, her head lolling against the jostling headboard. Although exhausted by her long journey, a smile played across her face. The sound of the rumbling wagon assured her that she was, indeed, at long last coming home.

Helga’s father, called Breister, bounced and swayed beside her. He had strong proportions, but was somewhat short for a Wood Cow, being barely taller than his daughter. His broad-brimmed hat, tilted forward, hid his face somewhat. The bushy beard and long tangled hair flowing over his shoulders somehow seemed to amplify the keen, proud look in his eyes. Peering out from under his hat brim, he watched the countryside passing outside the window.

Leaning against Breister sat a powerfully built female Wood Cow. Fine lines and strong features gave her face a handsome look and ample hair spilled out from under her hat. Her eyes were astonishingly black, like polished obsidian, but with red flecks seeming to sparkle within them. A spirit of pugnacious determination seemed to be written everywhere in her manner, even as a kindly smile betrayed the softness of her heart. This was Helbara, Helga’s mother.

As the running-wagon proceeded, little by little Breister noticed more and more creatures gathering, lining the road on both sides. Farmers, laborers, shopkeepers, peddlers and traders, old and young—Roundies of every size and age crowded the roadways, surging around the running-wagon, shouting their welcome to Helga.

“He-ho, Helga! Mampta-He-O! Jurrah!”

On every side, there were cheers and shouts of greeting. Breister had expected a warm welcome back to the Rounds for Helga, but nothing like this.

“What’s going on?” Helga asked, blinking sleep from her eyes.

“Look!” Helbara pointed. “In the name of the Ancients, see what is happening.”

The running-wagon gradually came to a stop amidst the immense crowd surging around it, blocking the road.

Dismounting, Helga climbed to the top of the luggage rack where she could see her friends more fully. Taking off her wide-brimmed hat, she waved it high over her head in greeting. As her eyes scanned across the welcoming crowd, she caught sight of old friends and memories flashed through her mind…

There was Mianney Mayoyo; her two pet lizards perched on her shoulder. A tough and wild-eyed River Cat, Mianney lived alone in a shack perched high on poles in the Deep Springs River. Thought to be half-savage, with strange-smelling smokes always drifting from her cabin, some avoided Mianney. But despite her fierce appearance and hermit-like ways, many called her a healer. To Helga she was a savior. Ten years before, Mianney had wakened in the middle of the night to the loud shouts of two Trapper Dogs. They had found five-year-old Helga, sobbing and lost, thrashing through the shallows near Mianney’s shack.

Standing behind Mianney was Picaroo “Pickles” DiArdo—one of the Trapper Dogs that had pulled Helga from the river that night ten years before. It was almost surprising for Helga to see him standing in the crowd. Pickles nearly lived in the long birch bark canoe with the high vaulted prow that he and his partner, Lupes Lupinio, used for travel in the backwoods, checking their snake traps. Helga well remembered the smell of the cool, damp canoe bottom where she sat among the musty-sweet bales of snakeskins. She remembered Pickles’ long brown arms, scarred from poisonous snakebites he had survived, paddling the canoe with a gentle rocking of his shoulders. He still wore the loosely tied kerchief around his neck, and was even more a bushy mass of whiskers than Helga had remembered.

“Ra-Zoo, Helga! Huncha to mi round!” The shout was from Neppy Perquat, her old friend from school days. Helga smiled as she recalled staying with Neppy and his family when she first arrived in the Rounds. Such kindness they had shown: the flatcakes for breakfast…the Old Bunge accent in the family’s speech, so unusual in the Rounds…the bright red carpet bag Neppy’s mother gave Helga to carry her things in when she left the Perquat’s to move in with the Abblegurt’s who adopted her.

Even Miss Edna Note, Helga’s old flute teacher, who had never been satisfied with Helga’s playing on the pronghorn flute, was among those welcoming Helga home. Pausing at the edge of the crowd, the graying Badger waited as if uncertain whether Helga would notice her. Helga, however, immediately recognized the figure in the familiar brightly flowered calico dress and matching bonnet. Wrinkled and thin, but still vigorous, Miss Note waved softly at Helga as their eyes met.

Helga smiled as she returned her old teacher’s uncertain gaze. Under that gaze, however, Helga’s eyes filled with tears, altering her sight. Through her blurred vision she seemed to see Miss Note playing her flute far away…long ago…

~ ~ ~

Tangled snags of fallen trees and piles of debris littered the riverbank. Floating along, exhausted, half-submerged, Helbara grabbed a protruding branch to rest a moment. Remaining low in the water with her small daughter, Helga, clinging to her back, she pulled herself in among the dense reeds and willows surrounding the fallen tree. Except for the soft gurgling of the Deep Springs River—its water colored bronze in the light of the orange moon overhead—the warm night was ominously quiet. Struggling to control the harsh rasping of her ragged breathing, Helbara knew she could not rest long. “Help us, Ancient Ones,” she breathed, as the glint of moonlight caught on more and more points of polished metal rounding the riverbend not more than a hundred yards away. Her mind worked in frantic desperation as she watched what almost seemed to be clouds of ghostly fireflies approaching from up the river.

She hardly had time to think, however, before Helga’s grip on her neck tightened. Their pursuers were drawing near. “Snake-bloods, Mama! Now what?” her five-year-old daughter whispered urgently.

“Shee’wheet, Helga, Shee’wheet,” Helbara whispered. “Yes, I see them. The Wrackshees will soon be here. Be still. Ever so quiet.”

Six heavily-armed Wrackshees, kneeling in individual kayaks made of tightly-woven reeds, paddled silently toward them. The once-faint outlines of the Wrackshee slave hunters steadily grew more distinct as they approached. Their beeline course on the wide river seemed to be zeroing in on Helbara’s hiding place. She realized she could not risk further movement above water—the Wrackshees were now too close.

Shaking the reeds as little as possible, she pulled herself and Helga further back among the reeds until only small cracks were left to peer through. Sensing Helga’s rising terror, Helbara softly whispered an old lullaby to her daughter, trying to calm her: “Shee’wheet, Sweet-Leaf, Shee’wheet…Shee’wheet, Sweet-Leaf, Shee’wheet…”

Her own heart banging in her chest, Helbara watched the Wrackshee kayaks approaching relentlessly. Moonlight clearly revealed the albino Wolf in the lead kayak—small in stature, abnormally flattened face, thick-necked, with a large moustache. She shuddered. Six kayaks. One Wolf and five Weasels. Somewhere behind them, many more. If she and Helga were discovered, what resistance could they offer?

Suddenly the kayaks slowed, pausing about twenty yards away—close enough that the Wrackshees’ awful stench covered the area with a suffocating blanket. Using only hand signals to communicate, the slavers silently peered here and there for any sign of their prey. The razor-sharp tips of dozens of small throwing lances, carried on bandoliers slung over the Wrackshees’ shoulders, shone red in the moonlight. Helbara knew that terrible things happened to beasts hit by those poisoned tips—going mad with thirst, eyes bugging, bleeding the color of grass. Each time the gaze of a Wrackshee seemed to fix on the spot where they were concealed, Helbara trembled on the edge of panicked flight. To do so, however, would mean certain capture or death. They were trapped. With every ounce of inner strength, Helbara held her panic in check.

 

Helga: Out of Hedgelands (Wood Cow Chronicles) is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $0.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!


Connect with Rick Johnson:

Website: www.woodcowbooks.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/WoodCowBooks

Twitter: www.twitter.com/WoodCowBooks

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: Helga: Out of Hedgelands (Wood Cow Chronicles), Rick Johnson {FREE!}

Sponsored Post

Rick Johnson’s Frugal Find Under Nine:

Description of Helga: Out of Hedgelands (Wood Cow Chronicles):

Twelve-year-old Helga has more danger in her life than most beasts her age—Wrackshee slavers after her, a vicious attack by bandits that nearly kills her, a race against dragons pursuing her, and leading a daring rebellion to save her life and rescue friends and family from the insidious WooZan. And that is just the beginning. But what do you expect when you are a young beast who just can’t see the stupid rules of the world making any sense? Helga can’t accept things as they are and ends up taking on not just one, but two all-powerful, supreme tyrants in two different realms.

Helga never intended to lead a revolution. It just sort of happened because she wouldn’t go along with the “rules of normal” that keep tyrants in power and entire societies enslaved. Beginning on a dangerous quest to solve some mysteries in her own past, Helga leads her quirky comrades on a journey that will not only forever change them, but upset ancient civilizations.

As an author, I’m drawn to eccentric, unexpected characters: those who surprise because they hear a distant galaxy, see a different music, create their own fragrance rather than get hooked on a soundtrack; the child who has her own ideas about how the emperor is dressed; the lunatics and rebels who tell stories on the boundaries. Helga’s unusual story will take readers to worlds they never imagined—definitely a whole new ride.

Time and again, the unconventional heroine and her eccentric comrades overcome ominous tyrants and black-hearted slavers, not by battling to the last beast standing, but by being the first beast to think differently.

Helga: Out of Hedgelands is divided into three books which introduce the epic saga of the Wood Cow clan and their role in overturning centuries of slavery and tyranny. This story will continue in additional volumes of the Wood Cow Chronicles now in development. Over the series of current and future volumes, the entire history of the Wood Cow clan, the fall of Maev Astuté, and the coming of Lord Farseeker to the Outer Rings, will be told.

 

Accolades:

Since completing the Lord of the Rings trilogy in college, I’ve looked forward to a fantasy series that exhibited the potential to keep me up reading well past my bed time. Helga, Out of Hedgelands, did just that. – Amazon Reviewer

Absolutely phenomenal book . . . J K Rowling step aside!! I can’t wait to read Book Two!! Creativity abounds, excitement rips through each page. It doesn’t get better than this! Helga needs to become a classic! – Amazon Reviewer

Rick Johnson has created a new world, filled with characters whom I would love to meet, to watch, to emulate, and to avoid! His descriptions of the “animals,” so human in their behavior and emotions, made it possible to visualize every scene, every exchange of dialogue, and to yearn for a screenwriter to take the next step so this book might someday be made into a big-screen movie. – Amazon Reviewer

 

Amazon Reader Reviews:

Helga: Out of Hedgelands (Wood Cow Chronicles) currently has a Amazon reader review rating of 4.6 stars, with 8 reviews! Read the reviews here!

Helga: Out of Hedgelands (Wood Cow Chronicles) is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for FREE!

 

Excerpt from Helga: Out of Hedgelands (Wood Cow Chronicles):

The Drownlands wharf, shrouded in one of its legendary fogs, swirled with activity in the first pale light of dawn. Fish oil lanterns cast a faint, but serviceable, glow through the fog. Swarms of boats and canoes rocked and swayed on mooring ropes along the docks. Odors of musty canvas and damp wood mingled with pungent smells of fish, crayfish, and frogs being unloaded from fishing boats. Traders haggled with peddlers or bet their luck against cardsharps. Coins rattled in the tin cups of vendors hawking frog-fritters and hot Stinger Cider.

On the landside of the wharf, galley beasts in the station house scurried about making breakfast for dockworkers and wayfarers. The aroma of frying catfish, simmering beans and baking cornbread attracted sweaty dock laborers, whooping and hollering as they collapsed into chairs around tables to take a break. A crude Otter ferry pilot, little used to niceties and finery, lifted his bowl and dribbled the last of his corn mush into his mouth, licking the bowl out with a loud slurping. Wiping his mouth on his coat sleeve, the Otter looked wildly about for a galley beast to bring him more food. Banging his bowl on the table, he roared, “Yawp! Yo, Hollos! Where’s ma fish on’a plank? Where’s ma muff and crusts? Raise me some Tabasco and galley cheer! Ha! The bell will be tollin’ for me afore I’m full, at this rate. Yo, Hollos! Jump it over here!”

The rowdy Otter, howling and hollering to be served, flicked out a sharp skinning knife and sent it flying across the room. THWANNG! The blade buried itself in the timber just above the galley door. “Yawp! Yo, Hollos! That’ll be a kindly request for ma galley cheer! Ho! Ho! Ho!” Galley beasts dashed under the quivering blade, rattling plates and bowls as they scrambled to bring him his breakfast.

But the Drownlands wharf—the frontier gateway between the rough Drownlands wilderness and the tidy settlements of the Rounds—was a place of mixing and transitions of many kinds. Not all were rubes and roughnecks. At a quiet table in the corner of the room, a party of travelers calmly finished breakfast and left to catch the running-wagon that was about to leave the station.

Just outside, Livery Rats scrambled to prepare the Drownlands Weekly for departure. Travelers loaded quickly as burly Dock Squirrels tossed bags and trunks into the rooftop luggage rack. As soon as the baggage was loaded, the Weekly rolled away from the station with creaking timbers and rattling brass, its freshly serviced wheels smelling strongly of snake grease.
Bouncing along the bare track leading away from the Drownlands station, the Weekly rumbled through the sparsely settled frontier of the Rounds. Except for the Weekly and a few cargo wagons, the bone-jarring road was little used. A river of mud when it rained and a dust-choked washboard of ruts in the dry season, the many stones in the Cutoff road gave its only predictable surface.

Three of the passengers in the Weekly on this particular spring day were creatures we will hear much about in this account of former days. There was a strongly muscled young Wood Cow with soft, thick hair and a lively face. Dressed after the manner of her clan—long barkweave jacket and leggings, lizardskin boots, forest green linen shirt—Helga dozed fitfully, her head lolling against the jostling headboard. Although exhausted by her long journey, a smile played across her face. The sound of the rumbling wagon assured her that she was, indeed, at long last coming home.

Helga’s father, called Breister, bounced and swayed beside her. He had strong proportions, but was somewhat short for a Wood Cow, being barely taller than his daughter. His broad-brimmed hat, tilted forward, hid his face somewhat. The bushy beard and long tangled hair flowing over his shoulders somehow seemed to amplify the keen, proud look in his eyes. Peering out from under his hat brim, he watched the countryside passing outside the window.

Leaning against Breister sat a powerfully built female Wood Cow. Fine lines and strong features gave her face a handsome look and ample hair spilled out from under her hat. Her eyes were astonishingly black, like polished obsidian, but with red flecks seeming to sparkle within them. A spirit of pugnacious determination seemed to be written everywhere in her manner, even as a kindly smile betrayed the softness of her heart. This was Helbara, Helga’s mother.

As the running-wagon proceeded, little by little Breister noticed more and more creatures gathering, lining the road on both sides. Farmers, laborers, shopkeepers, peddlers and traders, old and young—Roundies of every size and age crowded the roadways, surging around the running-wagon, shouting their welcome to Helga.

“He-ho, Helga! Mampta-He-O! Jurrah!”

On every side, there were cheers and shouts of greeting. Breister had expected a warm welcome back to the Rounds for Helga, but nothing like this.

“What’s going on?” Helga asked, blinking sleep from her eyes.

“Look!” Helbara pointed. “In the name of the Ancients, see what is happening.”

The running-wagon gradually came to a stop amidst the immense crowd surging around it, blocking the road.

Dismounting, Helga climbed to the top of the luggage rack where she could see her friends more fully. Taking off her wide-brimmed hat, she waved it high over her head in greeting. As her eyes scanned across the welcoming crowd, she caught sight of old friends and memories flashed through her mind…

There was Mianney Mayoyo; her two pet lizards perched on her shoulder. A tough and wild-eyed River Cat, Mianney lived alone in a shack perched high on poles in the Deep Springs River. Thought to be half-savage, with strange-smelling smokes always drifting from her cabin, some avoided Mianney. But despite her fierce appearance and hermit-like ways, many called her a healer. To Helga she was a savior. Ten years before, Mianney had wakened in the middle of the night to the loud shouts of two Trapper Dogs. They had found five-year-old Helga, sobbing and lost, thrashing through the shallows near Mianney’s shack.

Standing behind Mianney was Picaroo “Pickles” DiArdo—one of the Trapper Dogs that had pulled Helga from the river that night ten years before. It was almost surprising for Helga to see him standing in the crowd. Pickles nearly lived in the long birch bark canoe with the high vaulted prow that he and his partner, Lupes Lupinio, used for travel in the backwoods, checking their snake traps. Helga well remembered the smell of the cool, damp canoe bottom where she sat among the musty-sweet bales of snakeskins. She remembered Pickles’ long brown arms, scarred from poisonous snakebites he had survived, paddling the canoe with a gentle rocking of his shoulders. He still wore the loosely tied kerchief around his neck, and was even more a bushy mass of whiskers than Helga had remembered.

“Ra-Zoo, Helga! Huncha to mi round!” The shout was from Neppy Perquat, her old friend from school days. Helga smiled as she recalled staying with Neppy and his family when she first arrived in the Rounds. Such kindness they had shown: the flatcakes for breakfast…the Old Bunge accent in the family’s speech, so unusual in the Rounds…the bright red carpet bag Neppy’s mother gave Helga to carry her things in when she left the Perquat’s to move in with the Abblegurt’s who adopted her.

Even Miss Edna Note, Helga’s old flute teacher, who had never been satisfied with Helga’s playing on the pronghorn flute, was among those welcoming Helga home. Pausing at the edge of the crowd, the graying Badger waited as if uncertain whether Helga would notice her. Helga, however, immediately recognized the figure in the familiar brightly flowered calico dress and matching bonnet. Wrinkled and thin, but still vigorous, Miss Note waved softly at Helga as their eyes met.

Helga smiled as she returned her old teacher’s uncertain gaze. Under that gaze, however, Helga’s eyes filled with tears, altering her sight. Through her blurred vision she seemed to see Miss Note playing her flute far away…long ago…

~ ~ ~

Tangled snags of fallen trees and piles of debris littered the riverbank. Floating along, exhausted, half-submerged, Helbara grabbed a protruding branch to rest a moment. Remaining low in the water with her small daughter, Helga, clinging to her back, she pulled herself in among the dense reeds and willows surrounding the fallen tree. Except for the soft gurgling of the Deep Springs River—its water colored bronze in the light of the orange moon overhead—the warm night was ominously quiet. Struggling to control the harsh rasping of her ragged breathing, Helbara knew she could not rest long. “Help us, Ancient Ones,” she breathed, as the glint of moonlight caught on more and more points of polished metal rounding the riverbend not more than a hundred yards away. Her mind worked in frantic desperation as she watched what almost seemed to be clouds of ghostly fireflies approaching from up the river.

She hardly had time to think, however, before Helga’s grip on her neck tightened. Their pursuers were drawing near. “Snake-bloods, Mama! Now what?” her five-year-old daughter whispered urgently.

“Shee’wheet, Helga, Shee’wheet,” Helbara whispered. “Yes, I see them. The Wrackshees will soon be here. Be still. Ever so quiet.”

Six heavily-armed Wrackshees, kneeling in individual kayaks made of tightly-woven reeds, paddled silently toward them. The once-faint outlines of the Wrackshee slave hunters steadily grew more distinct as they approached. Their beeline course on the wide river seemed to be zeroing in on Helbara’s hiding place. She realized she could not risk further movement above water—the Wrackshees were now too close.

Shaking the reeds as little as possible, she pulled herself and Helga further back among the reeds until only small cracks were left to peer through. Sensing Helga’s rising terror, Helbara softly whispered an old lullaby to her daughter, trying to calm her: “Shee’wheet, Sweet-Leaf, Shee’wheet…Shee’wheet, Sweet-Leaf, Shee’wheet…”

Her own heart banging in her chest, Helbara watched the Wrackshee kayaks approaching relentlessly. Moonlight clearly revealed the albino Wolf in the lead kayak—small in stature, abnormally flattened face, thick-necked, with a large moustache. She shuddered. Six kayaks. One Wolf and five Weasels. Somewhere behind them, many more. If she and Helga were discovered, what resistance could they offer?

Suddenly the kayaks slowed, pausing about twenty yards away—close enough that the Wrackshees’ awful stench covered the area with a suffocating blanket. Using only hand signals to communicate, the slavers silently peered here and there for any sign of their prey. The razor-sharp tips of dozens of small throwing lances, carried on bandoliers slung over the Wrackshees’ shoulders, shone red in the moonlight. Helbara knew that terrible things happened to beasts hit by those poisoned tips—going mad with thirst, eyes bugging, bleeding the color of grass. Each time the gaze of a Wrackshee seemed to fix on the spot where they were concealed, Helbara trembled on the edge of panicked flight. To do so, however, would mean certain capture or death. They were trapped. With every ounce of inner strength, Helbara held her panic in check.

 

Helga: Out of Hedgelands (Wood Cow Chronicles) is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for FREE!


Connect with Rick Johnson:

Website: www.woodcowbooks.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/WoodCowBooks

Twitter: www.twitter.com/WoodCowBooks

The Tiger Princess (Saderia Series), Sarah Renee {$0.99}

Ten years ago, a devastating fire took the lives of Queen Karenisha and King Makero, leaving a young Princess Saderia orphaned. Nobody knows how the fire was started, but it ignited quickly. Too quickly.

In ten years, the truth has never been discovered…

Saderia is a curious 10 year old tiger Princess. Her Aunt Cia and Uncle Jash have taken over the duties of Queen and King and raising Saderia since her parents disappeared in a mysterious fire. Her aunt and uncle don’t understand Saderia, which she resents.

But Saderia starts having dreams about the past; dark, disturbing dreams. She has to know the truth. Could her parents have been murdered? Soon she finds herself surrounded by more secrets when she discovers a dangerous, ancient royal secret regarding her oldest ancestors.

At the same time, strange things start happening in the usually peaceful forest. Hard times and disappearances create fear and desperation. Out of the shadows comes a dark, mysterious lion named Dastarius to offer his services and play the hero. But his past is just as shadowed and uncertain as the King and Queen’s sudden fiery death.

Saderia doesn’t know who or what to trust, but she is desperate to find the truth about the past. She’s willing to do anything to get it.

 

What readers are saying:

“The Tiger Princess”, the debut title from Sarah Renee, is the first in a series of stories geared towards middle grade readers starring a courageous young princess named Saderia. Children can easily relate to the engrossing saga of Saderia, while learning worthwhile life lessons, and enriching their imaginations. – Amazon Reviewer

Author Sarah Renee captures the voice and thoughts of a strong-willed, independent and curious ten-year-old girl so perfectly that it is easy to forget that she herself was only 12 when she wrote the book! – Amazon Reviewer

This book is full of twists and turns, hate and love, filled to the brim with emotions that reflect in my own life! I cannot put this down! Anyone who loves ANY animal should be in love with this series – Amazon Reviewer

The average Amazon reader review rating is currently 4.8 stars, with 16 reviews.

Click here to read more about and purchase The Tiger Princess (Saderia Series)  for $0.99 at Amazon 

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: A Dragon’s Work Is Never Done, Stephanie Barrett {$2.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!}

Sponsored Post

Stephanie Barrett‘s Frugal Find Under Nine:

Description of A Dragon’s Work Is Never Done:

Have you been looking for an imaginative, exciting book to share with the child or grandchild in your life? A Dragon’s Work Is Never Done tells the wonderful story of Alfie and his dragon friend Marty, with the help of 60 beautiful full-color illustrations.

Alfie is just an ordinary little boy–that is, until he bites into a ham and cheese sandwich with mustard so spicy that it turns him into a fire-breathing dragon!

Soon, he befriends another dragon named Marty, who shows him that dragons lead incredibly busy lives. For starters, they terrorize princesses, battle knights, and guard treasure, but did you know that they are also excellent pizza chefs? Or that they rescue rocket ships stranded in outer space? Or that they are responsible for every warm bath that’s ever been taken before bedtime? And all they ask in return is a few fluffy marshmallows–for there’s nothing in the whole wide world that a dragon loves better than marshmallows.

So, if you’ve ever wondered what a day in the life of a dragon is like, spend some time with Marty and Alfie and find out why a dragon’s work is never done!

 

Accolades:

“I was impressed with the language, as well as the interesting story line, in this adventure/fantasy. Usually when adults read a book to a child, they can pretty much tell where the plot is going. That is not the case here … It was a pleasure, too, for us to enjoy the excellent illustrations, which really helped to bring the story to life.”

“The story is so creatively written and so much fun from beginning to end.”

“This is a great children’s book, but be ye warned: little ones will not go to sleep until you finish it and answer a few questions about dragons (it takes about 20-25 minutes). The book includes an address to write Marty the dragon, and my grandkids are anxious for him to respond.”


Amazon Reader Reviews:

A Dragon’s Work Is Never Done currently has a Amazon reader review rating of 5 stars, with 13 reviews! Read the reviews here!

 

A Dragon’s Work Is Never Done is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $2.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!

 

Excerpt from A Dragon’s Work Is Never Done:

I flapped my arms quickly to catch up with him, wondering where we were going next. Now, if you know a thing or two about dragons already, you might be able to guess what Marty and I were off to do. Can’t think of it? Here, I’ll give you a hint: “X” marked the spot where we had to go, and what we found there was very shiny and sparkly. Did you guess treasure? You’re right! We were off to guard some very valuable treasure!

We flew for miles and miles until we came to the Mangy Mountains, and at the base of those mountains there was a cave, and inside of that cave were piles and piles of glittering treasure. There were shiny gold coins, and deep red rubies, and emeralds as big as your fist! The stacks of treasure towered high above my head—they even made Marty look small!

Our job was simple. We sat at the mouth of the cave, and if we heard footsteps coming near, we simply let out big puffs of our blistering breath, and soon we would hear footsteps running in the opposite direction. Nobody wanted to mess with a couple of fearsome, fire-breathing dragons!

But after a little while we heard a strange sort of footsteps, because it didn’t sound like a pair of feet were making them—instead it sounded like one foot and one wooden stick were heading towards us across the flat, stony ground. Thump went the foot, tap went the stick, thump, tap, thump, tap, thump, tap, until Marty shouted, “Peg Leg Pete!” and to me he said, “Hold your fire, it’s Peg Leg Pete!”

Then a pirate appeared at the mouth of the cave. He had a patch over one eye, a parrot on his shoulder, and one peg leg sticking out of his pants. “Arrrrgh!” he said, “Thanks for guardin’ me treasure, I wouldn’t trust it to nobody else!” And then he dipped his hand into his pocket and pulled out a handful of soft, springy marshmallows. “And these’ll be fer you and yer friend,” he said, holding the marshmallows out to Marty.

“Thanks Pete,” said Marty, taking the marshmallows and sliding them into his satchel. “Now we really should be going—a dragon’s work is never done!”

And as we took off into the sky again Peg Leg Pete yelled after us, “See ya tomorrow, Marty!”

“See ya, Pete!” Marty called back, and with that we were off on the next leg of our adventure.

“Marty?” I said as we tore through the clouds. “What are all those marshmallows for?”

“You’ll see,” he answered. And that’s when I learned that dragons are very mysterious.

 

A Dragon’s Work Is Never Done is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $2.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!

 

Connect with Stephanie Barrett:

Author Website: http://www.alfieandfriends.com/

Author Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/AlfieAndFriends

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: Kendra Kandlestar and the Crack in Kazah, Lee Edward Födi {FREE}

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Lee Edward Födi‘s Frugal Find Under Nine:

Description of Kendra Kandlestar and the Crack in Kazah:

A SPLINTER IN SORCERY . . . According to Een legend, a Kazah stone grants a wizard the power to catch an echo of the past—and a glimpse of the future. But when Kendra Kandlestar is given her own cracked and broken Kazah stone, she soon discovers that it’s capable of so much more. Now, with her faithful companion Honest Oki by her side, Kendra is sent on an unimaginable journey across the cosmos, finding herself amidst worlds that are strange and bewildering—and at the same time all too familiar. Trapped in this adventure, Kendra finds herself faced with choices that just may unravel the mysterious history of the Eens—and destroy their future. What will Kendra choose? There’s only one way to find out: Slip through the crack in Kazah and enter a world of magic, monsters, and mystery!

 

Accolades:

Winner of the Mom’s Choice Award (Gold Recipient) 2012

A 2012 Best Books for Kids Selection – CCBC

“Kendra Kandlestar and the Crack in Kazah would be an excellent class novel for individual reading or as a read aloud choice. It would be an excellent addition for personal, class, school and public libraries. Highly Recommended.”

~ Deborah Mervold, CM Magazine

“All the books in the series are really good. The first one stands out because it’s the first one we read . . . this one [The Crack in Kazah] I think is now my next favourite in the series . . . there are so many twists and ideas . . . you just don’t know where the book is going to go next.”

~ JustOneMoreBook.com

“Mythic archetypes, hair-raising action and humor makes this installment of the Kendra Kandlestar chronicles a bookfans of fantasy will be tempted to stay up all night to read. This family-friendly series and exciting book is filled with thought-provoking issues. Kendra Kandlestar and the Shard from Greeve will entertain readers of all ages.”

~ Midwest Book Review


Amazon Reader Reviews:

Kendra Kandlestar and the Crack in Kazah currently has a Amazon reader review rating of 5 stars, with 20 reviews! Read the reviews here!

 

Kendra Kandlestar and the Crack in Kazah is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for FREE


Excerpt from Kendra Kandlestar and the Crack in Kazah:

Chapter 1: How Kendra heard the Danger

As this tale unfolds, and your mind begins to revel in the crackle of each turning page, you will find yourself wanderingalong a familiar path, where creatures of mischief and malice lurk around each bend, where danger lingers in every shadow. Indeed, you know this path well—for this is the road to adventure and you, my young dreamer, have traveled it before.

Perhaps you have found yourself hiding behind the long beard of an ancient wizard as he weaves his magic against the fire of a ferocious dragon. Or perhaps you have crept behind the tattered cape of abrave explorer, through the bone-biting shadows of a dark dungeon, seeking escape from monstrous fiends. Perhaps you have even found yourself amidst the roar and rumble of a mighty battle, dodging claws and talons, fists and feet.

If your imagination has taken you to such places, then you know that no adventure happens without a long journey. We do not find ourselves thrust immediately against the dragon, or suddenly lost in the dungeon maze, or so quickly catapulted into the roar of battle. Indeed, we must begin with that first step upon adventure’s path. We must trek through places strange and unknown. The journey, as you know, is sometimes as important as the final destination.

Ah! Such has always been the case with our young heroine, Kendra Kandlestar. If you are familiar at all with her adventures, then you know she comes from the quiet land of Een, tucked between the cracks of here and there. The Eens, of course, are an ancient race—some say older than even Elves or Dwarves. The Eens are a very small people and are known for many things: their long braids, their ability to speak to animals, and—perhaps most of all—for being shy and timid. Indeed, they prefer to stay hidden behind the magic curtain that protects them from the outside world. But Kendra has never been an ordinary Een. We have seen her cross river and wasteland, descend into mines and dungeons, and climb cliffs and castle towers. And now she will undertake her most difficult journey yet. Perhaps you will be surprised to know that she will end just as she has begun, for in this taleKendra will not visit new lands. She will find herself only in those placeswhere she has been before.

Then how can this be a journey, you ask? Ah—and there lies the key to this tale. Imagine, if you will, not a journey to where—but a journey to when.

So now, your mind is swirling with questions, just like flakes of snow on the cold and bleak morning when our story begins. Here, amidst a symphony of wind and cloud, a magical airship chugs across the sky. It looks like a giant bird, with sails for wings and windows for eyes. The ship is called the Big Bang and amongst its crew is a wizard’s apprentice, twelve-year-old Kendra Kandlestar.

On this winter’s morn, Kendra was sitting in a dark chamber below deck, mind ablaze with questions as she pondered the mysteries of Een magic. She did not like sitting in quiet meditation. Even with her eyes closed and her hands outstretched, it was a grueling task to focus on the moment, to think only of the present.

Instead, Kendra thought of the past. She thought of the future. She thought of her brother Kiro, and all that he haddone, all that he was meant to do. And yet Kiro, in a way, was no more. Long ago, he had been transformed into Trooogul the Unger, a beastly creature with tusks and claws and crooked limbs and it was difficult to know whose side he was on. Trooogul had stolen the dark stone known as the shard from Greeve, a fragment of an ancient warlock’s cauldron. As far as Kendra knew, Trooogul was intent on rebuilding that vile cauldron—which meant resurrecting a curse that could transform the entire Een race into monsters, just like Trooogul himself.

He’s somewhere out there, in the lands below, headed towards the City on the Storm, Kendra told herself. We must find himbefore it’s too late.

“Humph.”

Kendra opened her eyes and gazed upon the old man who had just grunted. Her master. He sat across from her, like a mirror in his pose, still as a statue in the Elder Stone. He was ancient and frail, with a beard so long and white that some Eens claimed he used it to sweep his floors. But Kendra knew better, for not only was the wizard her master, but her uncle as well. With her family having long ago disappeared, ornery old Uncle Griffinskitch had raised her from the time she was a baby. He never swept his floors, with his beard or otherwise. Sweeping was Kendra’s job.

Uncle Griffinskitch looked older than ever. His face was a criss-cross of cracks, as if someone had taken a putty knife to clay, and his beard was as white as a winter’s moon. He even wore spectacles now—an old hand-me-down pair from Professor Bumblebean. Of course, at this moment, Uncle Griffinskitch didn’t need his spectacles. Even though his eyes were closed, Kendra felt as if the old man was glaring right into her soul.

“You must focus, child,” Uncle Griffinskitch murmured. “If you wish to master Een magic, then you must quiet your mind, tune yourself to your wand.”

Kendra’s eyes turned to the small stick of wood that lay in front of her. She had received her wand months ago, but she still had trouble understanding its power. Kendra looked back at her uncle. His own wand was more like a staff, twisted and gnarled, its length a symbol of his mastery of Een magic. The wand stood beside him, without support, as if it had a mind and will of its own.

“Remember, the wands do not give us magic,” Uncle Griffinskitch said.

“Then why have them at all?” Kendra asked.

“The wand is like a musical instrument,” the old man replied.

“Like the narfoo?” Kendra asked, thinking of the golden horn-shaped instrument that hung on their wall, back at home. The narfoo seemed to have a hundred valves and keys—far too complicated for Kendra to imagine playing. Come to think of it, she had never seen Uncle Griffinskitch play it either.

“Yes, the narfoo, if you wish,” Uncle Griffinskitch grunted impatiently. “If you want to make music, then you need the narfoo. But the instrument itself doesn’t make beautiful sounds; it only amplifies that which the player can find within.”

Kendra sighed, and tugged nervously at one of her braids. Tugging helped her think, so it was a good thing she had seven of them, radiating out from her head like the rays of a star. “Was it this difficult to train my mother?”

Uncle Griffinskitch’s eyes fluttered open. “Humph,” he murmured. “Why do you suddenly ask about her?”

Kendra fiddled with her hair, not sure what to say.

“She asked as many questions as you, that is for certain,” the old wizard said. “She had a strong will—and more attitude than a giant with a sliver in his toe.”

Kendra had seen a giant or two in her time; she couldn’t help thinking that, for a giant, the nearest thing to a sliver would be a small tree.

“Your mind wanders again,” Uncle Griffinskitch accused.

“Sorry,” Kenrdra said. “You didn’t really like her, did you? My mother, I mean.”

Uncle Griffinskitch grunted. Kendra knew it was difficult for him to talk about such matters. After all, Kendra’s mother was his own sister. She was just as long-lost to him as she was to Kendra. “Your mother and I did not often see eye to eye,” the old man admitted. “But my love for her was as long as my beard.”

“Is,” Kendra said. “You mean is. She’s still alive.”

“Humph,” Uncle Griffinskitch muttered, and Kendra knew it was the type of humph that meant the discussion was over. “We shall return to our meditation, this time with our wands.”

Kendra nodded, lifted her wand and closed her eyes again. She took a deep breath.

Focus, came her uncle’s voice—but he wasn’t speaking out loud. The words just popped into Kendra’s mind, and she knew he was speaking to her through their wands. Feel the world about us, he said.

Yes, master.

What can you see?

My eyes are closed!

See without your eyes,Uncle Griffinskitch told her. Deeper breaths. Let your mind expand. The world surrounds us, alive and vibrant. Tell me what you see.

Kendra wrinkled her nose, wishing she could tug at one of her braids. But instead she followed her uncle’s command by taking another deep breath, trying to focus. For several minutes she just sat there, quietly breathing, the sound of her uncle’s voice whispering inside of her. Then, slowly, Kendra felt her mind begin to drift, as if she was entering a dream.

Now tell me, came her uncle’s voice, what can you see?

A picture began to appear in Kendra’s mind, hazy and white. Clouds, Kendra told her uncle. An endless stretch of clouds. Then she saw something sharp and black amidst the white.  There are rocky crags ahead, Kendra added. We should warn Ratchet, so he doesn’t crash the ship.

The ship will be fine. Stay with the moment. What can you taste?

Water, Kendra replied. It’s cold . . . wait, not water; snow. I can feel it melting on my tongue! It’s snowing outside.

Good. Now, what do you smell?

Smoke on the wind. Someone has lit a fire, far below, on the ground. Kendra now felt light as air, as if she was no longer in her body, no longer on the ship. The sensation was incredible.

Keep it going, Uncle Griffinskitch urged. Tell me, what do you hear?

Kendra tuned her mind. I hear someone telling a story. It’s the legend of how two angels with braided hair appeared before the first Elders of Een. I think we must be close to home! But still, how could I hear that from way up here?

Distance, size—even time, these are but barriers in our minds. We must train ourselves to climb these walls! Our frail minds may fret over such walls, but the magic of Een does not. Yes, the magic, tune to it, Kendra. It can take you anywhere, if you so allow. Now, keep seeking, Kendra. What else do you hear?

Kendra breathed, and let her senses wander. Snow is falling, on the trees, on the mountains. There’s a murmur in the wind. There’s a—

Suddenly, a dreadful shriek pierced her mind, like an arrow splitting a melon. She dropped her wand with a clatter and clutched her ears—and the sound was instantly gone. Her eyes flew open, only to see Uncle Griffinskitch staring back her, his wrinkled face gaping in surprise. He had heard it too.

“Uncle—,”

But the old wizard was already rising to his feet in a flourish of white beard. “Quickly, Kendra,” he beckoned. “To the ship’s deck. We’re under attack!”

 

Kendra Kandlestar and the Crack in Kazah is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for FREE

 

Connect with Lee Edward Födi:

Author Website: http://www.kendrakandlestar.com

Author Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Chronicles-of-Kendra-Kandlestar/137022551183

Chase Tinker & The House of Magic, Malia Ann Haberman {$3.99}


In Chase Tinker’s world, magic, lies and secrets can be a lethal combination…

Chase Tinker has the power to move things with his mind. His brother Andy can stop time. The thing is, they have no idea where these crazy abilities could’ve possible come from, and, are totally clueless on how to control them. Chase wants desperately to talk to his dad about it, but Benjamin Tinker has disappeared without a word.

It’s a huge shock to Chase and Andy when one day a grandfather they thought to be long dead arrives at their door. He invites them to come spend the summer with him and their cousin Janie on a remote island in an out-of-this-world house where fantastic magic can be found in practically every room, stairway and corridor. Chase can’t believe his dad has been lying and keeping so many important things from his sons.

Not long after the boys’ arrival at Grandfather’s house, their aunt, who has been on a mission to find their missing dad, turns up, hurt, sick—and alone. Now three of the biggest questions in their minds are: where in the world is their dad? And how will they find him? Or, is he…dead? It doesn’t help matters when Chase’s despicable cousin James arrives and turns everything upside down, even putting Chase’s life in mortal danger.

As he spends more time in the house, Chase begins to realize that, not only has their dad been keeping things from them, but Grandfather seems to be keeping several secrets of his own and Chase is bound and determined to find out just what those secrets are.

Chase soon finds out that all their magic is controlled by a strange, incredibly powerful relic hidden in the attic, and if anything happens to this relic every bit of Tinker magic will be lost forever. And, if this isn’t enough to worry about, the Tinkers are also facing a terrifying and powerful enemy that is determined to destroy the Tinkers and possess all their magic, their house and their Relic. Now Chase, along with Andy, Janie and their good friend Persephone, must find a way to stop these evil beings in order to save, not only themselves, but everyone else on the planet.

What readers are saying:

“I love middle grade. I also love magic. This was a perfect mix of both. The magical aspect was awesome. It reminded me of Harry Potter and Howl’s Moving Castle. All the characters were great.I loved how innocent they were. This had a super exciting storyline. I can’t wait to see what happens next.” – Amazon Reader Review

The average Amazon reader review rating is currently 5 stars, with 4 reviews.

Click here to read more about and purchase Chase Tinker & The House of Magic for $3.99 at Amazon

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: Chase Tinker & The House of Magic, Malia Ann Haberman {$3.99}

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Description of Chase Tinker & The House of Magic:

In Chase Tinker’s world, magic, lies and secrets can be a lethal combination…

Chase Tinker has the power to move things with his mind. His brother Andy can stop time. The thing is, they have no idea where these crazy abilities could’ve possible come from, and, are totally clueless on how to control them. Chase wants desperately to talk to his dad about it, but Benjamin Tinker has disappeared without a word.

It’s a huge shock to Chase and Andy when one day a grandfather they thought to be long dead arrives at their door. He invites them to come spend the summer with him and their cousin Janie on a remote island in an out-of-this-world house where fantastic magic can be found in practically every room, stairway and corridor. Chase can’t believe his dad has been lying and keeping so many important things from his sons.

Not long after the boys’ arrival at Grandfather’s house, their aunt, who has been on a mission to find their missing dad, turns up, hurt, sick—and alone. Now three of the biggest questions in their minds are: where in the world is their dad? And how will they find him? Or, is he…dead? It doesn’t help matters when Chase’s despicable cousin James arrives and turns everything upside down, even putting Chase’s life in mortal danger.

As he spends more time in the house, Chase begins to realize that, not only has their dad been keeping things from them, but Grandfather seems to be keeping several secrets of his own and Chase is bound and determined to find out just what those secrets are.

Chase soon finds out that all their magic is controlled by a strange, incredibly powerful relic hidden in the attic, and if anything happens to this relic every bit of Tinker magic will be lost forever. And, if this isn’t enough to worry about, the Tinkers are also facing a terrifying and powerful enemy that is determined to destroy the Tinkers and possess all their magic, their house and their Relic. Now Chase, along with Andy, Janie and their good friend Persephone, must find a way to stop these evil beings in order to save, not only themselves, but everyone else on the planet.

 

Accolades:

“I love middle grade. I also love magic. This was a perfect mix of both. The magical aspect was awesome. It reminded me of Harry Potter and Howl’s Moving Castle. All the characters were great.I loved how innocent they were. This had a super exciting storyline. I can’t wait to see what happens next.” – Amazon Reader Review

 

Amazon Reader Reviews:

Chase Tinker & The House of Magic currently has a Amazon reader review rating of 5 stars, with 4 reviews! Read the reviews here!

 

Chase Tinker & The House of Magic is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $3.99

 

Excerpt from Chase Tinker & The House of Magic:

CHAPTER ELEVEN

Keeping Secrets

They bolted down the road, their flashlight beams bobbing. Chase grasped Andy’s arm and dragged him to help his shorter legs keep up. The sounds of pursuit echoed behind them, and they were still a ways from home.
Chase’s heart was about to pound right out of his chest when he remembered a small building he’d glimpsed through the trees on the way to town. “Come on, you guys,” he gasped. “This way.”
Slipping into the dark woods, he shivered as the chill from the damp ground and mossy trees surrounded him. With the stickery blackberry vines grabbing at everyone’s skin and clothes, Chase led the way to a small clearing. A rickety old shed was there in front of them, leaning as if ready to topple at any moment. Chase opened the sagging door. The kids’ shoulders drooped when they saw it was crammed with cracked, splintery wood, a rusty tricycle, several old tires and a paint-chipped door with the hinges falling off.
“Crap!” said Chase.
“Oh, no!” said Andy. “We’ll never fit in there.”
“Let me see what I can do,” said Janie. Taking a deep breath, she scrunched her face and flicked her hands. Ribbons of silvery mist flowed from her fingertips, swirled through the building and then vanished. “Oh my gosh! It worked!”
Brushing aside dusty webs, she climbed behind the crusty woodpile into the space she’d created, which was much larger than the outside of the shed. The others followed, wrinkling their noses at the smell of rotting wood and mold. Shutting off their flashlights, they huddled together and tried to calm their ragged breathing.
“Won’t whoever’s out there fit in here too?” Andy whispered in Janie’s ear.
“I made it so it looks bigger to only us,” she whispered back.
“I’m worried the whole place might cave in on us,” muttered Persephone.
“Shh!”
Everything was quiet for a few minutes, then they heard the crunching of breaking twigs and the rustling of leaves and brush. Chase held his breath as the door creaked open. Persephone’s hand squeezed his arm. In the moment the door hung open, he could have sworn he saw a glint of blond hair as he peeked through a crack in the woodpile. The door slammed shut and the footsteps faded away.
Chase’s legs began to cramp from crouching for so long. More lightning and thunder flashed and boomed as the storm moved closer. He now understood what his last premonition had been about. If only he’d found out more while he was sleeping, then maybe they wouldn’t be squatting in an old, spidery shed, hiding from some insane stalker.
“Isn’t he gone yet?” Andy whispered. “How long have we been in here anyway?”
“Feels like forever,” grumbled Janie, rubbing her legs, “but maybe about twenty minutes or so.”
“I’ll go see if it’s safe,” said Chase. Although, if he had his choice, he’d rather be lounging in a comfy chair in front of the fire in Grandfather’s study.
“Good idea,” said Janie.
“And be careful,” said Persephone firmly.
He gave her a small, lopsided smile. “Hey, what else would I be?”
Creeping to the door, he opened it just enough for him to slip out. Pressed against the side of the building, he strained to see anything the least bit suspicious in the darkness. He swallowed, pushing down the panic that rushed through him at the thought of running into whatever crazy person was after them, but everything looked okay.
He snuck to the edge of the forest, while trying to blend in with the shadows. He checked up and down the road. No one was in sight. The wind riffled eerily through the trees. It swirled around him as he stood for a moment listening to the sounds of the night before he turned and hurried back to the shed.
“Whoever it was seems to be gone now,” he said as he swung open the door. “So let’s get the heck out of here in case he comes back.”
Stepping outside, Persephone brushed at her hair and clothing. “Yuck! I feel like I’m crawling with bugs.”
“Same here,” said Janie.
“Come on. We need to go,” said Chase, losing patience as he watched Janie picking cobwebs off her jacket and Andy hopping around. “We’ll worry about spiders and whatever later.”
“Easy for him to say,” Andy whispered to Persephone. “He didn’t have one crawling in his pants.”
Keeping a lookout for any sign of their pursuer, they flitted through the trees and down the road. Chase stuck out an arm and stopped everyone when he heard rustling and snapping twigs. With his heart thumping at least a hundred miles a minute, he flashed his light toward the noise. Several pairs of green, glowing eyeballs blinked in the brightness as a family of raccoons sprang from the bushes. They loped across the road and disappeared into the darkness.
“Whew!” said Persephone. “For a second there…”
“Yeah,” said Chase, mentally swiping his hand across his forehead. “I know what you mean.”
He heaved a deep sigh of relief when they finally reached the end of the road and saw their friendly, glowing house across the yard.
“Man! Was that scary or what?” said Andy. “Who would want to chase us, anyway?”
“Good question, shrimp,” said Chase, staring back down the dark, sinister-looking road. He didn’t mention anything about the glimpse of blond hair he’d seen. It still seemed too crazy that it might have been Doctor Dan.
“Maybe someone wanted to kidnap us and hold us for ransom,” said Janie, looking worried. “Grandfather is kind of rich, you know.”
“Wouldn’t it be easier to take just one of us and not the whole bunch at once?” said Chase.
“Yeah, I guess.” Her hands shook as she scraped sticky webs from between her fingers. “It was too scary for words, though. I sure won’t be walking down that road at night ever again. And where was Grandfather? He said he’d be there. If he was with us we could have teleported!”
“At least your power came in handy, Janie,” said Persephone.
“I should’ve frozen him,” said Andy, cramming his hands into his pockets as he stomped along, “but I was so scared, I forgot I had a magical power.”
“That’s okay, Andy,” said Chase. “I would’ve levitated the creep to the top of a tree, if I’d've thought of it, that is.”
Janie stepped between them and patted the boys’ shoulders. “I’m sure you guys will remember to use a little magic in the next crisis we have.”
“I sure hope so,” Chase muttered to himself.
The pouring rain started seconds after they entered the kitchen. Thunder boomed overhead, making the doors and windows rattle. It felt as if the storm had followed them home, like a big, growling dog nipping at their heels.
“Cool! We got here just in time,” said Chase, quickly closing the back door. He glanced at the clock and saw it was a few minutes until midnight. “We should probably let Grandfather know we’re home.”
“Let’s go see if he’s with my mom,” said Janie, plopping her bag on the counter before heading for the swinging kitchen door. “Oh my gosh! Maybe she had a relapse and that’s why he missed the show.”
The door to Clair’s room was open and rosy light spilled into the hallway. The kids heard voices coming from within. Chase jerked up his arms to stop the others. “Let’s listen to this,” he whispered.
They nodded and tip-toed closer.
“Are you sure?” asked Grandfather. His voice was filled with worry.
“It was them,” Clair said, sounding hoarse and weak. “From what I can tell, they’re still collecting magic…” Thunder boomed, drowning out half her words. “…lost Shard.”
Grandfather said something they weren’t able to hear because of the sound of the loud, pounding rain coming through the bedroom window. Then, “…a long time…dangerous.”
“We have to…safe…was followed…Mar…angry…escaped,” murmured Clair, her voice fading in and out. “I don’t want them to…” BOOM! The lightning and thunder flashed and roared. “…didn’t mean…I planned…toward the…my journey…but I…Ben or…so confused. The kids can’t know…” BOOM! Thunder shook the windows.
“Don’t worry. I’ve taken care of that with a powerful enchantment,” said Grandfather. His voice was louder now, moving back and forth as if he was pacing the floor. He heaved a deep sigh. “It looks like our Dark Enemy will never stop until—”
The kids looked at each other. “Dark enemy?” mouthed Chase.
Clair’s croaky voice took up where Grandfather had left off. “—until either we or they are de—” She stopped, as if afraid to finish the sentence. “Anyway, I’ll do what I can to keep…” More rumbling thunder drowned out her quiet words.
“It’s late,” said Grandfather. “The children will be here soon and it’s best if they know nothing of what we’ve been discussing. Why don’t you get more sleep and we’ll speak again when you’re feeling better.”
The kids dashed back to the kitchen.

 

Chase Tinker & The House of Magic is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $3.99

 

Connect with Malia Ann Haberman:

Twitter: @malia_ann

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: Shooting Stars, Leslie Hodgson {$2.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!}

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Description of Shooting Stars:

Earth’s scientists say stars are burning balls of gases—but what if what we see is just a veil to hide what is truly there? There are numerous worlds in our Universe and in the realm of the twelve Zodiac Constellations, the tyrant Gershon has overpowered the true ruler of the Zodiacs and he wants all in the royal line killed.

Hidden on Earth from him are two teenage siblings, Stella and Isaac. They have had a very unique life on Earth, but don’t know they are out of the ordinary until a series of mysterious, tragic and exciting events open their minds to the real Universe they live in, who they are, and that they have the powers to possibly free the Zodians.

Isaac and Stella are caught in a whirlwind of events both tragic and exciting as they travel the Universe and team with creatures from Constellations such as Pegasus and Draco to help protect them from Gershon who is fiercely hunting them.

Shooting Stars is refreshing fantasy that will keep young adult readers turning the pages as they encounter a new kind of magic, the possibilities the Universe holds, escape, animal companionship, self-discovery and budding relationships.


Accolades:

“Shooting Stars by Leslie Hodgson wasn’t anything like I thought it would be. I was expecting some sci-fi type novel. Instead I was pleasantly surprised to find what I would consider a fantasy novel. When I began reading I was immediately drawn in by the action and the characters.”

“Shooting Stars was a pleasant surprise. I found the creativity behind the story to be a wonderful change from the more common selection…”

“This book is encouraging to really live for what you believe, even if you get punished for it. The good way is most of the time the hard way, but it is worth it! Even this book is a fantasy novel, it still helped me to get my mind set right again, to live my life as a christian eventhough it sometimes means to get rejected from others and it would be easier to life by what the “world” does. I JUST LOVE THE BOOK, it has everything a good book needs: little love story ;-), horses and a fight for the good! I am already looking forward to the second part. People who like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or the twilight series should also love this book!”


Amazon Reader Reviews:

Shooting Stars currently has a Amazon reader review rating of 4 stars, with 9 reviews! Read the reviews here!

 

Shooting Stars is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $2.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!


Excerpt from Shooting Stars:

CHAPTER 35
“Our job is not to figure out the how. The how will show up out of a commitment and belief in the want.”

Stella

Stella felt nervous and slightly embarrassed to have all these eyes watching her as she attempted to do something she had never done before, so she was grateful when Maximus, Rikenzia and Arrow all backed up several steps to give her room.
Isaac was still motionless, but his breathing had become more rapid and he was now sweating.
Orel said, “Hold your hands gently on either side of Isaac’s arm.”
Tenderly, Stella put one hand in between Isaac’s side and the broken arm and then put the other hand on the outside of his arm, barely touching it.
“Now, Stella, you are not a scientist, nor a doctor. So you do not need to know everything that has to happen inside his arm for it to heal. The type of healing you can perform does not require that you know the how. It only requires belief that it can be healed. The only scientific knowledge you need to have is that each cell in the body can regenerate and heal itself, as if it were brand new. What you are going to do is ask the damaged cells to purge themselves and come back as new and perfect.”
Stella was taking very deep breaths while listening to Orel and looking at Isaac.
“There is one more thing, Stella.”
She looked back up at him and held her breath for a moment. He sounded very grave.
He continued, “The healer does have a price to pay. As the pain leaves him, it will have to go somewhere. Since it is your hands that will be doing the healing, the pain will transfer into you for a time. But, it will find nowhere to stay if you focus on being cleansed from it.”
Stella’s heart thudded even faster and she was biting her lower lip. Even at the prospect of pain, she would not and did not back down.
“I’m ready,” she said.
“I know you are,” Orel said with fatherly affection for her in his voice. “Focus on Isaac’s arm. Focus on it being whole.”
She did. She closed her eyes to better be able to put images of Isaac being whole and perfect again. She listened to Orel’s voice in her head and did everything he told her.
“Feel the energy passing between your hands. Ask the cells to regenerate. They will respond to the energy you create.”
As Stella did everything she was told, she felt her hands grow steadily hotter.
“Good Stella. All the energy is charging itself. The cells are regenerating. The injury is healing.”
Stella’s closed eyelids could not keep out the bright light coming through them. She opened her eyes slowly as she held the picture of the healed arm in her mind. It looked like she was holding an orb of glowing, fire-hot light where Isaac’s upper arm had been.
Then, without doing anything to change what she was doing, the glowing orb turned to blue light and it cooled dramatically to the temperature of ice.
“It is done,” said Orel. “Remove your hands.”
She did, and instantly the pain hit her. She gasped. It was all over her body—prickling and stabbing her relentlessly. She was closing her eyes tight and rocking back and forth. It hurt. All she could focus on was the pain. Physical pain—emotional pain. Oh, how she missed her parents.
Somewhere in the distance, over the sounds of her own grief, she heard a voice telling her, “Be cleansed of it Stella. It has no place in you!”
She tried to listen because she wanted the pain to leave. It had no place in her.
“You are free from pain, Stella. It has nowhere to live inside of you.”
Yes it does, she thought, my heart. As she thought this, the pain seemed to zoom to her chest. She clutched her hands to her heart and curled up on the floor in the fetal position.
Someone came and knelt over her. Maximus. He put a hand on her head and spoke softly in her ear, “I know that you miss your parents, but you must cleanse the pain out of you. Think of everything you still have—think of us.”
Then she heard Isaac’s voice. “Stella? What’s wrong with her? What happened?”
Isaac. Happiness and affection flooded through her body and swept the pain out with it instantaneously. She sat up and locked eyes with her brother. There he was—alive and they were together again.

CHAPTER 36
“If you’re worried or in fear, then you’re bringing more of that into your life throughout the day.”

Onyxus

Dreold demanded that everybody except Onyxus leave the throne room immediately, and he locked the door behind them then he and Onyxus began shouting at each other.
“How could you have let them escape? You’re a fire breathing, claw-ridden BEAST with sharp teeth!”
“Do not insult my abilities pathetic human.” Onyxus said furiously. Steam was issuing from his nostrils. He was containing the flame inside of him with much difficulty.
“Oh . . . Pathetic? What good are you going to be to me, OR Gershon if you cannot even detain children?”
Onyxus couldn’t hold it in anymore. The fire came up his throat and with a feeling of complete vengeance—he let it go.
Dreold jumped to the wall to dodge it. “Dragon!” he yelled.
“Human!” Onyxus yelled back. “I did not come here to be a servant for humans.”
Dreold walked up to Onyxus and with malice thick in his voice, he said, “If you ever want other Stars, you will be whatever we want you to be.”
Onyxus glared at him—hatred burning inside.
“Now,” Dreold said, walking toward where the throne was, like it was his, “we still have time to fix this before Gershon knows what has happened. He is out on an . . . errand.”
Dreold turned back around as he reached the throne. He stood in front of it with the back of his knees right at the seat like he was going to sit down, but he didn’t. Looking at Onyxus, Dreold said, “Now, what do you know Dragon? Did they say anything before they left?”
“Nothing of importance,” said Onyxus, still seething with annoyance, “just that he wanted to leave with Helios—and he did.”
Dreold’s shouted again, “Yes, but WHERE?”
“It’s not like they chatted about their travel plans with me!”
Dreold growled in frustration and flopped down on the throne.
“Uhm,” said Onyxus, “I don’t think you’re supposed to sit there.”
“Oh, shut up. Gershon isn’t anywhere near right now.”
They both were silent for a moment. Then Dreold said, more to himself than to Onyxus, “I knew it. I told him Eli’s son would be capable of travelling without a Telescope. He should have been kept under stricter guard, in an isolated and closely watched prison. Gershon underestimated him—said he was just a stupid kid and didn’t want him to get any ‘special treatment’. Well, now he’s going to pay for his mistakes. But of course, we will be blamed for it. He’ll never admit his mistake.”
Onyxus knew he did not want to be on the receiving end of Gershon’s wrath. “What do we do then?” he asked.
“We have to leave here, and we have to find them, and we have to do it now. I was counting on you having some sort of lead as to where they went—but for now, we just have to get out of here.”
They started walking toward the hole in the cave that led to the Telescope outside. Onyxus was thinking hard as they walked. He tried to think of things Isaac had said on Draco to Adamas and Alethia—but he had been so focused on planning each detail of his escape, that Isaac’s words were mostly tuned out.
Then he recalled hearing something about the Winged Horses on Pegasus being informed of what was going on, and that they were preparing for battle.
Dreold and Onyxus stepped out onto the ledge, and the tungsten colored Telescope glinted at them from the light of the nearby stars.
Onyxus told Dreold what he just remembered.
“We will go there then. They might know where the little brats are hiding,” said Dreold.
Onyxus asked, “And how will you get this information from them?”
Dreold smiled a terrible smile. He said, “There is very little that separates myself and Gershon—and in many ways, I am better. I have enough powers to protect myself there, and to get what I want. And you are a Dragon quadruple their size.”
“I have no doubts Winged Horses taste delicious—but I can only eat so many, know what I mean?”
Dreold snickered, “You’re scared.”
Onyxus growled.
“Here you go Dragon,” Dreold said as he walked over to a group of clear crystals protruding from the wall. He put his hand on one and said some words Onyxus could not hear. Then he pulled and the crystal came free. Dreold turned back to Onyxus, smiled maniacally again, and tossed the crystal a few feet and caught it again. He walked straight past Onyxus and to the Telescope.
Onyxus watched as Dreold held the sharp end of the crystal up to the magnifying end of the Telescope. In a matter of seconds, the crystal was sucked into the Telescope like it was a knife cutting butter. When it had completely disappeared inside, the Telescope started freakishly spinning, whooshing and squeaking as it did.
Onyxus backed up a step and Dreold’s eyes flickered toward him again. Dreold laughed again, then he walked away from the spinning and squeaking Telescope and over to a cavern in the wall behind the Telescope where sat dozens of thick glass cylinders. Onyxus was watching him, but then he looked back toward the Telescope when it stopped abruptly.
Dreold stepped toward the magnifying glass end again and pushed the cylinder in so the rim of it melded into the magnifying glass. “I can’t touch it with my skin now,” said Dreold. “It will severely burn any human’s skin.”
Onyxus watched and waited for whatever was going to happen next. Then, in the same way the crystal had entered, it emerged, but it looked different. The shape was the same, but the color was a shiny black. It hung eerily suspended in the middle of the cylinder, not touching any of its sides.
“There,” Dreold said as he pulled the cylinder away, “you can use this in case any of those ponies give you trouble.”
Onyxus jumped as he heard something through the hole to the cave—Gershon’s voice—yelling and angry. He looked at Dreold who also looked suddenly panicked. Onyxus bounded forward away from the door, and Dreold launched himself toward Onyxus. He was cradling the crystal and did a somersault on the ground. Then he touched Onyxus leg as they came in contact with each other. As fast as a flash of lightning, they lit up, and were gone.

 

Shooting Stars is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $2.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!

 

Connect with Leslie Hodgson:

Author Website: www.lesliehodgson.com

Author Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/leslie.hodgson.12

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: GRANDPA HATES THE BIRD: Six Short Stories of Exciting, Hilarious and Possibly Deadly Adventure, Eve Yohalem {$2.99}

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Description of GRANDPA HATES THE BIRD:

“Alas, it is true. Grandpa hates me. He has always hated me, even before I used his ear as a swing toy (his lobes are so long and flappy!). I can’t imagine why. I assume Grandpa hates me simply because I am the bird—and he is not.”

Everybody loves Bird. Joseph and Maya, Mother and Father, Humphrey the dog, Slick the snake. Everyone except Grandpa, who will stop at nothing to set Bird free. Forever.

• How does the battle begin when Bird and Grandpa are alone together for a whole week?
• See classroom chaos in Bring Your Pet to School Day!
• Exactly what are they hunting at the Aw Shoot archery range?

Fasten your feathers and warm up your wings—here are six collected short stories in the GRANDPA HATES THE BIRD series!

 

Accolade:

By Jill Arent, “All Things Jill Elizabeth”

http://blog.jill-elizabeth.com/2012/01/30/book-review-2/

Without further ado, I bring you a fabulous book in today’s review. Grandpa Hates the Bird, by Eve Yohalem, is a collection of short stories about the adventures of the eponymous Bird and the misadventures of the eponymous Grandpa. My review copy was graciously provided free of charge by the author. AND she has also graciously agreed to provide a giveaway copy, so you can have your very own!

I admit that I’m a bit obsessed with unified short story collections/interwoven stories lately, as evidenced by last week’s post. But do not, for one second, think that is why I am giving this collection such a rave review. Heck, no. This one is entirely owing to Yohalem’s sense of fun, of humor, and of giggle-inducing irony. Let me say right up front: I don’t normally review actual children’s books. When she contacted me about reviewing her book, and told me it was aimed at readers aged 6-10, I almost sent her the standard “sorry, your book sounds lovely, but I just don’t review…” email. Then I read further. Once I saw how she described her book I couldn’t help but review it. Here is what she said: (I hope you don’t mind my using this Eve, but it’s so great that I couldn’t not!)

“GRANDPA HATES THE BIRD is a collection of comic short stories for readers 6-10. There are very few short story collections available for young readers and one advantage to reading them as ebooks is that a parent in a crowded waiting room or stuck in traffic can hand their cranky child their smartphone with a funny story instead of Angry Birds.”

Now don’t get me wrong. I love the Angry Birds (or the Where’s My Water or the Rush Hour or Running Man or whatever game of the day the kids can teach me how to play). I also love the ability to provide entertainment to the kids on the go that things like Angry Birds provides. But I LOVE that someone is out there putting together alternatives to games as a means of doing this. And I LOVE LOVE the manner in which Yohalem accomplished this alternative.

The stories are, in a word, delightful. They are fun, engaging, hilarious, revenge-filled without ever being vengeful. They are cute and heart-warming and contain hidden life-lessons about being a good friend, being honest and trustworthy, and being loving. And they are written in a very easy-going and altogether compelling style that appeals to me as a reader, a step-parent, and someone who is more than occasionally worried that the future of our world is in the hands of kids whose main introductions to reading are video game manuals.

I strongly encourage you to pick this one up and throw it on your phone, ipad, whatever… You – and the kids in your life – will be exceedingly glad you did!


Reviews:

GRANDPA HATES THE BIRD currently has a customer review rating of 4.5 stars with 12 reviews! Read the reviews here.


GRANDPA HATES THE BIRD is available to purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $2.99

 

An excerpt from GRANDPA HATES THE BIRD:

Excerpt from the story Bring Your Pet to School Day from GRANDPA HATES THE BIRD: Six Short Stories of Exciting, Hilarious and Possibly Deadly Adventure by Eve Yohalem

It was my favorite day of the year: Bring Your Pet to School Day. Most schools do not observe this particular holiday, which I personally believe should be made into a national event like the Fourth of July or Super Bowl Sunday or even National Forest Products Week. But Joseph and Maya go to one of those progressive schools where they believe in hands-on learning. Thus, Bring Your Pet to School Day is an opportunity to learn about biology, animal care, and even geology and puppetry since the pitiful children who are unfortunate enough to live without real pets are allowed to bring in rocks and dolls instead.

The day was warm and I traveled to school via my preferred method of transportation: on top of Joseph’s head, his hair being the closest thing I have to a nest. Bird care books will tell you never to allow a bird to perch higher than yourself because it gives the bird the idea that he is superior to you. Bird care books are right.

There was just one dim spot in my rainbow of happiness, and it was walking next to us. Joseph’s teacher had asked for a grown-up to help with the animal presentations, and Grandma had made Grandpa volunteer. Something about “behavior modification” and how spending time with children and animals might help him “build tolerance” and improve his “attitude.”

Grandpa was dressed from head to toe in full military camouflage. That’s right: a green flack jacket, cargo pants, and black combat boots. It was the same outfit he had worn every day for the last month, ever since he had applied to be a contestant on Killigan’s Island, a new reality TV show where twelve humans struggle to survive on a tropical island with no running water or electricity. Something millions of birds have been doing with ease since the beginning of time, I might add.

I was determined not to let Grandpa ruin my good mood. In fact, I even hoped that Grandma was right and once Grandpa saw what Joseph and I had prepared for the class, he would be so impressed, so charmed and enchanted by my performance, that he would finally appreciate me properly and we would become friends.

Anything is possible, right?

There is only one fifth grade class at Walden Pond School, with nineteen children, most of whom I recognized from past Bring Your Pet to School days. Larissa spends most of every day writing poetry about kneecaps. Harrison is the boy who attended all of pre-kindergarten in a lion costume. I’m not sure anyone noticed. Then there’s Jake. Poor Jake is the class oddball: he likes soccer. He’s good at it, too.

Jake was seated alone at a table for two near the front of the room, holding a plastic animal carrier on his lap. Inside was Beckham, Jake’s ferret. Grandpa went to introduce himself to Mandy the teacher, and Joseph and I took the seat next to Jake. I hopped from Joseph’s shoulder onto the table, and Beckham hissed at me through the wire screen on the end of his carrier. So that’s how it’s going to be, is it? Very slowly, I stretched out my wings to their full green, blue, and red glory. Then I turned my back on the little beast, bent over, and presented him with a full view of what lay underneath my tail.

“Hola, chiquitas y chiquitos!” sang Mandy, a tiny young woman with curly red hair the color of a house finch. Mandy liked to greet the children in a different language every day. Most of the time the children had no idea what she was saying, but they had all been studying Spanish at school since first grade. At this point in their Spanish language studies, every child in the room was able to say, “the air is not toxic,” but not one of them could ask for directions to a bathroom.

“Hola, Señora Mandy!” answered the children.

“Is everyone totally psyched for BRING YOUR PET TO SCHOOL DAY?” Mandy asked, sounding totally psyched herself.

“Yeah!” “You bet!” “Wahoo!” the children shouted back.

“Right on!” Mandy said, pumping a small fist in the air. “First I’d like to introduce you to Joseph’s grandfather. He’s going to help us with our presentations today.”

Grandpa stepped forward. If this were opposite day I would describe the expression on his face as warm and friendly.

“Hi, Grandpa!” the children greeted him.

“Uh, hi,” Grandpa muttered.

There was a long awkward silence that Mandy finally interrupted.

“Thanks, Grandpa! Now how about we hear from some of the students!”

 

GRANDPA HATES THE BIRD is available to purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $2.99

 

Connect with Eve Yohalem:

Website: http://www.eveyohalem.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Eve-Yohalem/164138753644557?ref=ts

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