Book Review: Kill Your Brother

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Kill Your Brother by Jack Heath was an impressively complex story despite it being on the shorter side of novel lengths. It is just as predictable as its title yet surprisingly unpredictable. I was impressed with the author’s ability to take a single incident and turn it into a complex psychological thriller with many facets of surprise.

Elise is looking for her brother Callum. She seems to be the last person willing to think that Callum has done anything wrong. But Elise has a reputation which leads to problems of her own. She doesn’t have a support system and is financially tapped so looking for Callum has got be creative and done alone.
Elise does find Callum but the only way to save herself means sacrificing her brother. She has a lot to think about and needs to determine if her brother is worth it all.

I gave this story 5 out of 5 stars for its complexity and plot development. I was surprised by the twists and turns and even more blown away with the author’s ability to take one question and incorporate a variety of convoluted characters keeping the reader guessing and surprised to the end.

©2022 CBialczak Book Reviews

Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge #153

Fandango is the host of this challenge

The photo below was provided by fellow blogger Li @ Tao Talk. Thanks, Li.

Marcus found the pieces from when he was a kid. He knew he had buried them in the yard but he never believed he would still be living here to find them. What had he been thinking back then? That someone would discover them and think of them as a treasure? All he knew now was that if he wanted to preserve what was now a vintage toy, he had better clean them up and get all that dirt off them. Luckily plastic doesn’t dissolve!

He threw the pieces into a bowl of soapy water to let them soak. He had left them there overnight, knowing plastic doesn’t do anything but sit in water, no damage would be done. By morning he took the pieces out, dried them with a paper towel, then threw them onto the pile of stuff he had on the kitchen table.

Like soldiers in a battlefield looking for mines, the soldiers he tossed onto the table were diligently looking for pressure points to use in a foot massage. Marcus laughed to himself. They probably needed a good foot massage after all the work they did in the service. Kids didn’t know what it took to be in the service and they didn’t understand that massage isn’t just a quick karate chop to the back.

Looking down at the toys now Marcus wondered if those old army men could remember being buried as a treasure. They were still sort of a treasure to Marcus; they had been a gift from his mother.

©2022 CBialczak Fiction

Friday Fictioneers

https://rochellewisoff.com/2022/01/12/14-january-2022/

Rochelle is the host of Friday Fictioneers!

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A New Day

From my window I could see the water lapping upon the shore, hear the surf hitting the land, smell the salty water. I was here to relax, to enjoy time by myself, to take time to reflect upon the last year that held so many feelings and memories. So I sat. I watched the water move by itself. I thought of all the days I have lived, the people who I have loved, and the things I have done. There is some regret and some sadness but today is the day I will open my eyes to a new beginning.

©2022 CBialczak Fiction

Fibbing Friday January 14th, 2022

PCGuyIV is back! https://pcguyiv.wordpress.com/2022/01/14/fibbing-friday-january-14th-2022/

  1. What was the actual name of the 1960’s rock group known as “The Fab Four”? The Fantastic Awesome Bunch of Four
  2. What children’s TV show was narrated by both Ringo Starr and George Carlin? The Funny Beatles
  3. What was the name of Sir Paul McCartney’s band after the Beatles? Paul after the Beatles
  4. What name did The Beatles go by before they became The Beatles? The Grubs
  5. Who was “The Forgotten Beatle”? the one the anteater found first, he never developed enough to get named
  6. How many Beatles movies are there? None, Disney wasn’t making movies with Pixar yet
  7. In relation to the other Beatles movies, what was unique about the movie, Yellow Submarine? It was filmed completely underwater.
  8. What exactly is, “The Butcher Cover”? a kraft paper. Originally sold to butchers for the purpose of wrapping meat and fish, now used for a wide variety of purposes, notably in primary education where it is used for arts and crafts, such as hanging artwork (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butcher_paper)
  9. What are the flowers mentioned in the song, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” made of? candy from Willy Wonka’s factory
  10. Who is Billy Shears? Edward William Scissorhands II

Photo Challenge #397 – MLMM

Photo credit Sarah Whiley

Use the above image as inspiration for a poem or short story.

Alternatively, if you are an artist or photographer, use this as an opportunity to showcase your own work.

You have 1 week to complete this challenge.

Please credit the artist!

When you’re done, TAG the post Photo Challenge and MindLoveMisery’s Menagerie, and add your link to the comments or Mister Linky.

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He said he wouldn’t budge.
He said he would stay in that one spot until they gave him what he wanted.
Well, Lucky wasn’t going to back down for nothin’. He wasn’t asking for much, just a ride to the pub. But everyone knew that the only person to be lucky when he started drinking was Lucky himself.
So there he stood, arms crossed, baseball cap on backwards, refusing to move.

As time went on everything around Lucky seemed to age, except for Lucky. Buildings were erected and taken down around him, time only stood still for Lucky.

No one noticed Lucky after a while. They just drove by him, going about their business, wondering only briefly if he would ever move and go back home. But Lucky was stubborn. And so when Lucky finally died of starvation the town briskly painted a coat of non-rust aluminum over his body and left him there. The aluminum kept Lucky’s body safe from the elements but over time his body tilted and he seemed to bend at an awkward angle. No one bothered to move Lucky. If that is how he wanted to stay, he could stay that way now forever.

©2022 CBialczak

Book Review: Her Darkest Fear

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Nina Manning has the ability to leave the reader in suspense until the very end of her thrilling tales. Her story is complete with romance, mystery, and plenty of relationships evolving throughout the plot. 

Frankie is happily married to Damien with two beautiful children and about to start a change in jobs that is going to advance her career to a new level. But after starting the new job with the very handsome Mason Valentine, one of the city’s most accomplished businessmen, Frankie and Damien start growing apart. The problems coming between them are shrouded in the darkness Frankie still has about the accident when her dear brother was killed twenty years ago. Now Damien is looking elsewhere for companionship, but how involved is he getting and with who? Can Frankie deal with grieving for her brother and trying to hold her relationship together? 

I give this story five out of five stars for its gripping plot, with so many different situations the reader is left wondering where the connection is and who is involved with who. Manning leaves no loose ends and each branch of the story is complete with dynamic characters and moving scenarios. If you want a shallow, quick end to a psychological thriller Manning’s gripping stories are not for you. 

©2021 CBialczak Book Review

Book Tour: Cut and Run

Cut and Run can be read as a STANDALONE, however book one, Dead Cat, Run will be available upon request!

Cut and Run 

Publication Date: August 14th, 2021

Genre: Contemporary Thriller

Their story continues . . .

The four Boston clairvoyants, blessed—or cursed—with special powers, must fight a ruthless enemy and stop injustice. In Dead Cat, Run, the Sisters of Fate drove them together, but at what cost? The God Apollo wasn’t playing around. He’s still dead set on vengeance.

Sinister forces will have a wicked agenda. An energy grab, a mineral rights war, and deadly mercenaries create a mortally serious game. But the psychics’ sibylline abilities aside, they’re only human. At least three of them are. (What’s up with that?)

Can they stop the killers? And who will survive?

An energetic contemporary thriller, Cut and Run will have you on the edge of your seat as the dance between good and evil resumes.

Goodreads

About the Author

AnnabelleLewisHeadshot small

Annabelle Lewis is a pseudonym for the author who lives in Minneapolis with her husband, children, and a wild thug of a dog who sleeps beside her. A multi-genre writer and publisher of 9 novels to date, her humorous mystery caper books have a theme – taking down the bad guy. Villains beware! She also writes a scathing blog and highly entertaining monthly newsletter. Sign up to follow at https://www.theannabellelewis.com

FOWC with Fandango — Indeed

To join in this daily writing prompt click here

Billy, have you gotten the shovel out of the shed?
Indeed, I have.
Billy, have you gotten the lye and the safety mask?
Indeed, I have.
Billy, do we have a spot in the yard yet?
Indeed, we do.
Billy, do you know what comes next?
Billy sneered. Of course he knew. He’d push this old bag in and find himself the heir to a fortune!

Book Tour: Of Black Bulls and White Horses

Welcome to the book tour for thriller, Of Black Bulls and White Horses by Roland Ladley! It’s also on sale for just $0.99 for Kindle. Read on for more details!

Of Black Bulls and White Horses

Publication Date: December 14th, 2020

Genre: Thriller

Emily Copeland is a young teacher at an inner city school. And she’s good at it. One Christmas her mother shares a long held secret of a teenage affair with a French fisherman. Months later her mother is killed in a hit and run and Emily’s life is dislodged from its axis.

With the school summer holidays approaching, Emily decides on a cathartic journey to revisit the French seaside village where, all those years ago, her mother enjoyed her summer fling. Clutching a series of old holiday snaps, she sets off with the ambition of closure. However, the Camargue – where the mighty Rhône meets the Mediterranean – holds deep secrets. It’s a lawless place of cowboys and gipsies, of mudflats, lakes and meandering tributaries … and of black bulls and white horses.

Emily’s journey soon ends up being more than just a rehearsal of her mum’s past. As she traces her footsteps, the romantic memories she unearths of a previous summer paint an altogether more sinister picture of the present. And Emily’s trip turns out to be one of enlightenment and of deceit; and of abuse and of greed. Ultimately it’s a story that ends in death … and in love.

Add to Goodreads

Chapter One

Four months previously

Emily had her back to the class, facing the whiteboard. She had to stand on tiptoes to reach the top. Some bright spark from maintenance had fitted the new interactive boards last summer and she was sure they had purposely put hers a few inches higher than the original. She wasn’t short. Not short, short. At 155cm she was hardly legs up to your bottom tall, but she always considered herself to be an endearing height.

Whatever.

It made reaching the top shelf in her kitchen cupboards a struggle without a stool. And – on her feet all day with her spine contracting by the hour – after lunch the top of the whiteboard was an effort.

She bit her bottom lip as she wrote out, ‘Pythagoras’s Theorem’, in capitals. In blue. She underlined it. And then turned quickly on her heel. You didn’t want to have your back to Year 9D for any longer than was necessary.

‘OK, team, let’s recap …’ She stopped mid-sentence.

Something was up.

There usually was.

There were sixteen pupils in this, the fourth maths set of five in Year 9. When the classes had been divvied out at the beginning of term INSET training, her class had been described by her head of maths as ‘lively’. That was like calling a great white shark, ‘a bit bitey’.

But they were her Year 9 set. And, bless them, they weren’t nearly as bad as her predecessor had made out. Alison, who was now off on maternity leave, had taken most of Emily’s current class last year – and she hadn’t made it to Christmas. After weeks of staffroom tears, there had been an incident with a textbook that had mysteriously shredded itself and ended up out the window, its pages fluttering across the games field. Alison had, apparently, confronted a boy who was big for his age and had a tongue on him. The word ‘bitch’ couldn’t be ignored, even if it had been under the lad’s breath. As a result Alison had stormed out of the room leaving the class to fend for itself until the next door teacher recognised the noise of near-anarchy for what it was.

Alison didn’t teach her Year 8 set again.

So far though, Emily was keeping a lid on them. And they were learning something. Albeit in fits and starts.

With some classes you often just had to let kids’ frustrations play out. Especially in the last period on a Thursday, having come straight from PE where stale sweat was a stronger essence than even the spray-on, carcinogenic board cleaner.

Now looked like it was going to be one of those times.

Emily’s nose twitched. It was an instinctive reaction.

She looked up and down the classroom. Three rows of tables, each row broken into four so that she could navigate the room quickly and not get stuck top left when all hell was breaking out at the bottom right.

Like most teachers she designed her own seating plans. There were unwritten rules, borne of previous teachers’ experiences of the same pupils. Who should not sit next to whom. Who had learning difficulties. Which children were classified as ‘Pupil Premium’ and, therefore, came from particularly disadvantaged backgrounds. They needed special care and attention both in terms of the questions you asked them and the tone you used.

For example, it was no use asking Shaun to complete work using the internet as he lived with his gran, who didn’t have Wi-Fi … and, in any case, Shaun didn’t have a computer. Harriet, Mobina, Massimo and Darren couldn’t afford dinner money, let alone a calculator.

And there was Lauren.

She respected no one. As far as Emily knew, Lauren lived a half-itinerant life, moving from her aunty to a friend’s house, and back again. Her father was locked up for armed something or other, and her mother was either an alcoholic, or drugged up, or both, most of the time. So Lauren had no adults to respect. So she respected no adults.

Emily included.

But Emily was against wholesale, teacher-led segregation when it came to the seating plan. Other than her sixth form, where she allowed her students to sit anywhere they wished, she started the year with a best guess – putting kids in places she thought would suit them. And then she let the arrangement change as the year developed and friendships and conflicts emerged.

With just sixteen in this class and thirty-five chairs – the sets got smaller the further down the ability ladder you slid – she had been able to group her Year 9 class into enclaves of reasonable behaviour, which in turn sometimes encouraged half decent work. It was never easy.

Bless them, though. Apart from Madi, who should be moving up to Evan Jones’s set some time soon, maths was none of her class’s favourite. Every topic was a struggle. Every ‘x’ a smudge on the board. Every ‘y’ a question rather than a letter representing a variable.

No wonder they misbehaved.

‘I’ve lost all my pencils, miss.’ It was Ben. An almost adorable short lad who was the class clown. On his left was Will, son of a bricklayer, who was brighter than he thought he was. On Ben’s right, Karim, a Sudanese lad with an incongruously massive afro, who was definitely brighter than he thought he was.

‘Shu’ up, Ben.’ Lauren’s surly retort cut through rising tension from the other end of the classroom.

Triangulation was going to be difficult now. Ben was clearly making a play, which Emily would be happy to see through if it didn’t go on for too long. Lauren, who took no prisoners and scared the wits out of everyone in the class including the boys, was bored and might well kick off at any moment which would leave someone in tears.

And Pythagoras was still asking for all of their attentions.

Emily raised a gentle hand in Lauren’s direction.

‘Try not to use that language, please, Lauren.’ She shot the girl a half-smile and then almost in the same sentence, ‘Where are your pens, Ben? Tell me.’

Ben, Will and Karim were all smiles. Ben, who could be cute, cheeky and bloody devious all in the same breath, snorted, his eyes damp with suppressed laughter.

Where’s this going?

She had no idea. So she went on the offensive.

‘Can you borrow one? Say from Karim … or Will?’ Emily, armed with a straightened index finger, pointed at both boys, one after the other.

More sniggering.

‘… grow up, morons.’ The first part of Lauren’s sentence was a mumble, but it might have included the words ‘fucking’ and ‘well’. Emily knew she was close to losing control and might have to resort to a sanction; maybe even ask someone to leave the room. Early intervention was key. But, for her, sanction was always a last resort and she saw it as a failure. On top of that it disrupted the class and always shattered any ambience she had managed to create.

She waited for an answer.

Ben, who even sitting down was nipple-height to the much taller Karim, turned to his friend and said, ‘Can I borrow a pen?’

Karim stared straight ahead impassively. Lauren tutted. Loudly.

‘Say please,’ Karim said.

Will was also struggling to contain himself. Emily still had no idea where this was going, but so far it was pretty harmless … and might be very funny. They managed that sometimes.

‘Please,’ Ben replied, his shoulders lifting and falling below his soundless giggles.

Karim, still looking straight ahead and with a deadpan face, lifted a hand and pointed to his afro.

Emily could see it then.

Karim’s hair was full of pens and pencils. She could see the red rubber of a pencil sneaking a peep from the black, curly mass of Karim’s 80s-style hairdo. Alongside it was the silver top of a biro. You could hide the stationery store in there.

‘Thanks,’ Ben said, gulping down a snort.

He then stood and carefully and thoroughly removed six pens and two pencils from Karim’s hair. And still none of the three broke into laughter. But the rest of the class, who might well have seen the trick before, couldn’t stop themselves.

Apart from Lauren.

‘My mum’s taxes pay your wages, miss. D’you wanna start earning them?’

‘Sure, Lauren. Sure,’ Emily replied, smiling and shaking her head at the same time.

As the giggles lost their momentum and Ben finished systematically collecting the contents of his pencil case from Karim’s afro, Emily put up both hands to try to bring some gravitas to the situation …

… just as the classroom door opened.

And the headmistress came in.

‘Miss Copeland. May I borrow you for a moment?’

The headmistress never visited Emily’s classroom. Behind her was one of the deputy heads. This was odd … and ominous. Emily’s brain spun … and she noticed the class had gone unnaturally quiet.

‘Sure.’ Emily shook her head for a reason she didn’t understand.

‘You might want to bring your things.’ The head nodded at her rucksack which was by her chair.

What?

Was she being arrested? Was the head here to sack her? Images of failed bankers pushing open large glass doors with their hips, their arms overloaded with boxes full of personal possessions, flashed through her consciousness.

‘Ehh. Yes. Of course.’

The head smiled, more a grimace than a smile. The deputy was already in the room. He was looking up at the board.

‘Pythagoras,’ Emily said, as she loaded her rucksack.

‘Got it,’ was his reply. He was now looking at the class with trepidation.

‘Good luck,’ she whispered, and then she slipped out through the door the head was holding open. The corridor beyond was dark and faintly oppressive.

Emily heard the clunk of the door closing, stopped and turned back towards the head, who was a few feet behind her.

The head’s face told the story. Whatever news was coming next was bad. The worst. Emily instinctively knew. 

‘Who?’ she said.

The head stuttered. She started to put her hands up to hold Emily by the shoulders, but the distance between them made the attempted hug impossible. So, she dropped her arms back to her side.

‘Your mum, Emily. I’m so, so sorry.’

Available on Amazon

About the Author

I am an ex-British Army colonel with operational service in Bosnia, Sierra Leone and Afghanistan. I was subsequently a secondary school maths teacher for 8 years. And since 2014, my wife and I have been itinerant, driving around Europe in our motorhome, penning the Sam Green thriller series.

In 2020, during lockdown and on advice from a publisher, I wrote of Black Bulls and White Horses, my first and only non-Sam Green novel.

Book 2 in the Sam Green series, Fuelling the Fire, won a Kindle Scout publishing contract. And, the as yet unnamed, book 8 in the series will be published in 2022.

Roland Ladley | Goodreads Amazon

Twitter Tags: @rolandtheauthor @RRBookTours1 

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Book Tour Organized By:

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#WRITEPHOTO – Emerging

To participate find it here

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High above the dusty ground
he came alive
without a sound.
He came to life
to hurt the one
to whom his soul did
wait upon.
The bricks and mortar
were no gate
to keep this raging
lover’s hate
For he had loved
but now he’s dead
Coming for some blood
to shed.

©2021 CBialczak Poetry