29 September, 2017

A dead river revived to life in Kerala, India #WATWB

We humans are advancing in every field and inventing new technologies to make our lives easier and comfortable. But, we are polluting our mother nature to a great extent in the process which might impact us very badly in future. When I read this news about reviving a 'dead river', I felt, hopeful about the world we are living in.

In kerala, at Budhanoor panchayat, Kuttemperoor river almost vanished due to illegal sand mining and severe pollution. But, 700 people worked for 70 days to clean the river and fortunately, water level increased slowly bringing life to the river. Now, people in the village are using the river water for bathing and washing. Read more details from the article here.

Sharing this news for We are the World blogfest. We are the world blogfest seeks to promote positive news or any news to promote love, brotherhood and positive spirit.

Until next time,






28 September, 2017

#ThursdayTreeLove - When leaves wear yellow

"Drive fast on empty streets with nothing in mind except 
falling in love and not getting arrested" - Hunter S. Thompson

Drived through this road on our way to see fall colours.


Linking this to #ThursdayTreeLove hosted by Parul.

Until next time,


27 September, 2017

#WordlessWednesday - A picture perfect wallpaper

Captured this scenery in a recent trip. Isn't it good as a wallpaper?

Maroon bells, Colorado USA


Until next time,


Linking this to #WordlessWednesday hosted by Anni.

Real Wordless Wednesday

20 September, 2017

Knitted Tales - A collection of emotions by Rubina Ramesh - [Book Review]

Book Details: 

Book Title: Knitted Tales - A collection of emotions
Author: Rubina Ramesh
Genre: Anthology, fiction, short stories
Publisher: The Book club
Length of the book: 126 pages
Source: A free e-review copy from the book club for review


Blurb:
 What forces an innocent girl to become a sex symbol? Her desires? Or cruel fate? 

Is a lifetime enough—for avenging a betrayal? How do you hide secrets that never stopped haunting you? 

Can vengeance and secrets of your past devastate your present? How can long-buried crimes of yours suddenly raise their head? Can sinning be saving?

Is your spouse your soulmate? What if they never understood your feelings? Can you still live with them?

Lastly, does life give only two options? Live or die? What if there is a third?

In her debut anthology, Rubina Ramesh tries to find answers to these questions that are often from the heart and yet makes the mind ponder over the solution. Or is it the other way round? Either way, Knitted Tales is a bouquet of emotions that is bound to touch both your head and your heart.


My Review:

I love short stories. I like to read a variety of stories with different concepts one after the other without knowing what comes next. But, It's difficult to review an anthology as you cannot say the book is bad if one story doesn't meet your expectations and cannot say it's good only because you loved a few stories.

I didn't feel difficult to review this book as it really kept me glued till the end and exceeded my expectations. The title is very apt as all stories cover different emotions in a heart touching way. This is my first book of the author and I look forward to read more. 

Here is my take on some stories:


A secret in their closet - This story is amazing. The mystery element, the narration and good twist in the climax are great. 

Betrayal- This story is in the perspective of an abuser. It is sad that men who hurt their wives and feel that it's their duty to keep their wife supressed will never understand the victim's perspective. This story also brings out another important point that the victims being silent when abused is also one of the contributing factor to the abuse. Well written.

Chicklit - This story is about racism that immigrants are facing in US. Very nice story. I agree that sometimes even children can teach us great lessons. 

I loved these lines and you know, so true.

"We hate racism if we are the victims but dare our children marry outside our race! We put all other racists to shame"

Lolitha - This story is full of emotions and real. 

No regrets- This is a fun story of a gynocologist turned to a housewife in USA due to visa rules. Iam in the same boat too but couldn't relate to the story well. I felt like something is missing in the story which I cannot pinpoint.

The other woman - The story is very good and I feel pity about the young kid Aru. Relationships are complex and sometimes, kids involved in relationship issues suffer more than actual people. But, i felt, the ending of story is abrupt.

Daddy, hear me out - This is a heart wrentching story of a school girl who gets insulted, scolded every day for her poor marks. For a change, i liked the climax which is positive and unexpected.

The stories 'Suvarnarekha', 'the missing staircase' and 'cliff notes' didn't impress me. 

My Rating: 4.5/5

PS: I have received this book from the author in exchange for a review and this is my honest opinion on the book.

Purchase Link:

About the Author:
 Rubina Ramesh is an avid reader, writer, blogger, book reviewer and marketer. She is the founder of The Book Club, an online book publicity group. Her first literary work was published in her school magazine. It gave her immense pride to see her own name at the bottom of the article. She was about 8 years old at that time. She then went to complete her MBA and after her marriage to her childhood friend, her travel saga started. From The Netherlands to the British Isles she lived her life like an adventure. After a short stint in Malaysia, she finally settled down in the desert state of USA, Arizona. Living with her DH and two human kids and one doggie kid, Rubina has finally started living the life she had always dreamed about – that of a writer.


Until next time,

#WordlessWednesday - It's raining somewhere

It's raining somewhere far!
See, how beautiful the sky is covered with clouds before the rain.





Until next time,






Linking this to #WordlessWednesday hosted by Anni and Christina.

Real Wordless Wednesday

19 September, 2017

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown - [Book Review]

Book Details:
Title : The lost symbol
Author: Dan Brown 
Genre: thriller
Length of the book : 500 pages
Publisher: Doubleday books
Source: A copy picked from local library

Blurb:
WHAT IS LOST...
WILL BE FOUND
In this stunning follow-up to the global phenomenon The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown demonstrates once again why he is the world's most popular thriller writer. The Lost Symbol is a masterstroke of storytelling - a deadly race through a real-world labyrinth of codes, secrets, and unseen truths...all under the watchful eye of Brown's most terrifying villain to date. Set within the hidden chambers, tunnels, and temples of Washington, DC., The Lost Symbol accelerates through a startling landscape toward an unthinkable finale.

As the story opens, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is summoned unexpectedly to deliver an evening lecture in the U.S. Capitol Building. Within minutes of his arrival, however, the night takes a bizarre turn. A disturbing object - artfully encoded with five symbols - is discovered in the Capitol Building. Langdon recognizes the object as an ancient invitation...one meant to usher its recipient into a long-lost world of esoteric wisdom.

When Langdon's beloved mentor, Peter Solomon - a prominent Mason and philanthropist - is brutally kidnapped, Langdon realizes his only hope of saving Peter is to accept this mystical invitation and follow wherever it leads him. 

Langdon is instantly into a clandestine world of Masonic secrets, hidden history, and never-before-seen locations - all of which seem to be dragging him toward a single, inconceivable truth.

My Review:
I loved the earlier novels of Dan Brown especially 'The Davinci code'and 'Angels and Demons'. What I like about the author is that he includes many facts from research in his books and also put some mystery element till the climax. 

Now, coming to this book -
This book is more about masons, their rituals, their pupose and the significance of architectural monuments in Washington DC. This is a fast paced thriller like his other books but defenitely not his best work. Eventhough 3/4th of the book is interesting, i felt, there is a lot of unnecessary information in the remaining pages and needs good editing. The last few pages are more like a lecture material embedded just to increase the length without any story attached to it.

The characterization is great and the suspense is maintained till some point. The pace is good and the plot is interesting. The book cover and title are apt.

My Rating: 4/5

Purchase link: Amazon

About the Author:
Dan Brown is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Da Vinci Code and, previously, Digital Fortress, Deception Point, and Angels and Demons. He is a graduate of Amherst College and Phillips Exeter Academy, where he spent time as an English teacher before turning his efforts fully to writing. He lives in New England with his wife.

Until next time,


14 September, 2017

#ThursdayTreeLove 23 - A Tree in red

Fall is around and so, I am looking forward to watch colourful leaves on trees. But, this pic is from 2012 when we visited Vermont state during fall season. How is it?
Linking this to #ThursdayTreeLove hosted by Parul.

Until next time,

13 September, 2017

Hot air balloon liftoff #WordlessWednesday

There is a tradition to lift off hot air balloons every year on labour day in Colorado springs.

This particular balloon just touching the water looked amazing.

More snaps below:




Until next time,
Linking this to #HappySunday link party hosted by Vasantha, Anubhuti and Menaka. This post is written for the prompt "special moments in your town". 


Simple Indian Mom
Also, linking this to #WordlessWednesday hosted by Esha and #WritingWednesdays  hosted by Corinne.
Real Wordless Wednesday

12 September, 2017

Gratitude List - Aug 2017

It is very late for me to publish my gratitude list for the month of August, but this has been a busy month and it is better late than never.



1. Paint Nite
This has to be the first in the list. I love drawing, pencil sketching and painting a lot. I couldn't learn pencil sketching more than a few months in my childhood, but I loved those days. Here came an opportunity to attend a painting class due to my friend and of course, I am happy to grab the opportunity. With my spouse's support in taking care of kids for a few hours, I managed to paint a canvas for the first time in my life. Here is the pic. It was not a bad start after all.

2. Festivals and Pujas
August has kept me very busy. Varalakshmi vratham and Vinayaka Chavithi are both very important festivals in our household. Adding to these, I also have done another pooja 'Sai baba Parayana' for one week. Festivals are a great time to thank God and offer our prayers together as a family.

3. Get together
We had a small get together with friends and also a potluck. We spent some fun time cooking different delicacies, chit-chatting and eating together. It is both relaxing and rejuvenating.


Thus, last month went in a jiffy and I am grateful to God for my happiness.

Until next time,
Linking this to #GratitudeCircle hosted by Vidya Sury and #MondayMusings hosted by Corinne.



08 September, 2017

First Crush, Last Love by Elizabeth McKenna - Book Promo



 




Romance - Contemporary
Date Published: 8/1/17

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Remember your first crush? How your heart raced and your cheeks flushed whenever you saw him? Jessie Baxter does, and it’s happening again. Ten years ago, despite her best efforts, Lee Archer wanted to be just friends. Now, he wants more, but Jessie's still recovering from a psycho ex-husband. Can she learn to trust again and make her first crush into her last love?

Elizabeth McKenna’s latest novel will have you remembering the angst of high school, the grief of a failed relationship, and the happiness of true love.


Excerpt

The smell of bacon roused Jessie from an early morning dream of being chased across a cold, moonless beach. The feet that carried her for miles on her runs were useless in the deep sand. Every time she stumbled, her panic grew until her body no longer responded to commands. Rubbing at her heavy eyelids, she blew out a deep breath, and the last remnants of the nightmare faded away.
She squinted at the clock on the nightstand and groaned. It seemed like she had been asleep for mere minutes. After saying goodnight to Lee, she had stared at the dim stars on the bedroom ceiling and waited for sleep to bring her a needed reprieve from her messed-up life. Instead, her mind had bounced between Billy and Lee, wondering what either of them was up to and why she had to be involved.
When her stomach rumbled in appreciation of the smoky sweet smell, she sat up with a jolt. Lee Archer was in her mother’s kitchen making breakfast, and it smelled damn good. She jumped out of bed and twirled in a circle, unable to decide what to fix first. Her frizzy curls stood out in every direction, and her breath reeked from last night’s garlic-laced meal.
She grabbed a pair of running shorts and checked the hall before dashing to the bathroom. A few minutes later, she emerged with her hair in a messy bun and her teeth scrubbed to the point of drawing blood.
In the kitchen, Lee stood at the stove pushing eggs around a pan and wearing last night’s rumpled clothes and a shadow of a beard. Jessie clamped down on her bottom lip. It was too much to take in.
“You’re awake. I left you some coffee.” He gave her a crooked smile before turning his attention to the frying bacon.
She eyed her morning drug on the far side of the kitchen and willed her legs to move in the direction of the coffee maker. After dumping three sugar packets into a cup, she poured the heavenly brew with a sigh. Looking up, she frowned at Lee’s amused expression. “What? I like sweet coffee.”
“Breakfast will be ready in a minute. Can you put down the toast?” He nodded with his chin at the toaster.
While she slept in, Lee had set the table, cooked eggs and bacon, poured juice, and cut three mums from her mother’s garden for a centerpiece. Yeah, making toast was the least she could do.
“What do you do for a girl the next morning when she actually sleeps with you?”
Lee’s eyes ran up and down her body, and then something akin to a growl came from his throat. Maybe she should have put on sweats instead of shorts.
“I like cooking. Remember Denny’s restaurant? I think if I hadn’t become a cop, I would have been a chef.”
They settled at the table and ate in silence for the first few bites.
“Is it OK?” He pointed at her plate with his fork.
She nodded in appreciation. “Better than OK. I usually grab a granola bar for breakfast. This is a real treat.”
“I was thinking we could swing by my place so I can get cleaned up before heading to the station. I’ll need you to make a statement before I can run the knife for prints.”
Her gaze went to the kitchen island where the hunting knife sat wrapped in the plastic bag. “Billy was arrested for a bar fight in college. Would his prints be in the system for that?”
“Should be.”
“If it’s his knife, then what?”
“We’ll bring him in for questioning.”
“Can you hold him? Like put him in jail?”
“That will be up to the DA and the judge.”
She nodded. “Even if he did this, he can still . . .”
Putting her fears into words would make them too real, but from the grim look on Lee’s face, she didn’t have to.
“You could file for a restraining order,” he said.
“Would that help?” She wasn’t sure she had the strength for more legal action against Billy. Like most divorces, theirs had been ugly, full of half-truths and name-calling. She had even secretly wished him dead at one point to put an end to it all.
“To be honest, probably not, but it would make arresting him a lot easier if he keeps stalking you.”
Stalking her. She hadn’t thought of it like that, but it was what Billy was doing. Her knuckles whitened as she gripped her fork. Three years. Before this weekend, it had been three years since she had talked to her ex-husband. Why couldn’t he move on? If their love had been so wonderful—if they had been soulmates—he never would have cheated on her. That was the one thing she had never understood when he fought the divorce. It was obvious they weren’t right for each other. Why couldn’t he see that?
She nibbled on a piece of bacon, while her mind searched for new answers to old questions. After a few more bites, she pushed her plate away.
“Changed your mind about my cooking?”
“It was wonderful. I guess I don’t have much of an appetite this morning.”
“How about I clean up while you shower?” Lee gathered their dishes and headed for the sink.
She shook her head in disbelief. “How are you not married?”
Over his shoulder, he gave her a smile that ignited small fires in several sensitive areas of her body. “I have no idea.”
“Well, the cockiness might be a turnoff,” she said, covering her desire for him with a dose of sass.
He looked down at his crotch. “There’s nothing wrong with my—.”
She held up a hand. “Stop!”
His low chuckle sent flames over her cheeks. He turned on the kitchen faucet and squirted dish soap into the sink. “Go take that shower.”
Jessie darted from the room. It would need to be a cold shower, she thought, as she pounded up the stairs.


About the Author





Elizabeth McKenna works as a full-time technical writer/editor for a large software company. Though her love of books reaches back to her childhood, she had never read romance novels until one Christmas when her sister gave her the latest bestseller by Nora Roberts. She was hooked from page one (actually, she admits it was the first love scene).


She had always wanted to write fiction, so she combined her love of history, romance and a happy ending to write Cera's Place and Venice in the Moonlight. Her short story, The Gypsy Casts a Spell, is available for free on her website http://elizabethmckenna.com/. She hopes you will enjoy her first contemporary romance novel, First Crush Last Love, as much as others have enjoyed her historical romances.


Elizabeth lives in Wisconsin with her understanding husband, two beautiful daughters, and a sassy Labrador. When she isn't writing, working, or being a mom, she's sleeping.




Contact Links

Twitter @ElizaMcKenna

Purchase Links



Reading Addiction Blog Tours

Until next time,

#ThursdayTreeLove - Sep 7th, 2017

I love sunsets and so, I take a lot of snaps with sunset and trees.
Here is a tree I spotted on a beautiful evening with bright sunlight behind.

Linking this to #ThursdayTreeLove hosted by Parul.

Until next time,

06 September, 2017

#WordlessWednesday - Sep 6th, 2017

Spotted these love birds at hot air balloon lift off on Labour day in Colorado springs.
Linking this to #WordlessWednesday hosted by Anni.

Until next time,
Real Wordless Wednesday

The Mahabharata Murders by Arnab Ray - [Book Review]

Book Details:

Title: The Mahabharata Murders
Author: Arnab Ray
Genre: Thriller, fiction
Publisher: Juggernaut
Length of the book: 300 pages
Source: A free review copy from Juggernaut

Blurb:

One by one, the Pandavas fall.

Duryodhana claims to be reborn. In modern-day Calcutta.

A beautiful model. He cuts her open. His DRAUPADI

He hammers surgical needles into his SAHADEVA. The head of NAKULA he severs.

Will Detectives Ruksana Ahmed and Siddhanth Singh be able to keep him from his ARJUN, BHEEMA and YUDHISTHIRA?

Or will Duryodhana finally win?


My Review:

First of all, this book is not about mythology, but it's a thriller fiction based on some Mahabharata characters. This is the story of a Psyco killer on loose in Kolkatta and the investigation of murders by the homicide branch officers Ruksana and Siddhanth. When the killer murders people one after the other assuming himself as the reincarnation of Duryodhana in Mahabharata and the victims as Pandavas, the detectives have to think fast and smart to stop more killings.

More than the murders, it's the character of Ruksana that moved me. She is real. She is not strong, believes in doing right, gets manipulated by everyone around but sails on the safe boat atlast. The plot is interesting with analogies from Mahabharata stories. The climax is not very predictable and allowed readers to think a lot about the murdere and the motive.

What i didnt like in the book is the way climax is carried out. The plot is good but might have written in a better way. When the author tries to explain about the murderer and his motives through a third person, it seems like a slight disconnect for the reader. The reader's mind gets confused on why he has to trust second hand information instead of directly understanding the motive from the murderer through some clues. But, i liked the way it ended. 

Overall, I would recommend this to someone who love crime thrillers.


My Rating: 4/5

PS: I have received this book from Juggernaut for review and this is my honest opinion on the book.

Juggernaut is an app to find and read high quality affordable books. Do try this app if you are a book lover.

About the Author:

Arnab Ray, better known as Greatbong, is one of India's most widely read bloggers who blogs at Random Thoughts Of A Demented Mind. He is known for his sarcastic takes on the Indian film industry, Indian politics and society in general. His blog was awarded the "Indiblog of the Year" at Indibloggies in 2006[1] and 2008. He has written for several media outlets like the Washington Post, Outlook magazine and Live Mint. He graduated from Jadavpur University as a Bachelor in Computer Science and Engineering and went on to finish his PhD in Computer Science from State University of New York at Stony Brook. He is presently employed as a research scientist at the University of Maryland and resides in the suburbs of Washington DC. His first book "May I Hebb Your Attention Pliss", published by Harper Collins, was on India Today's Bestsellers list.

Until next time,

05 September, 2017

The Witch's Handbook to Junting Vampires - Book Spot Light




Paranormal/Witch Cozy Mystery
Date Published: September 5, 2017

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Andie Taylor is your average single mom. She's got a beautiful toddler, a great job at the local preschool, a neurotic best friend and one huge secret—she used to hunt vampires. Now retired, Andie would much rather be wiping kid snot off her clothes than stalking the undead.

But after a meteor rips through her small town, strange things start happening—like the school janitor is found dead with fang marks in his neck.
Andie's retired, it's not her problem.

Until vampires attack Andie on her front lawn. Now she has to figure out who the head bloodsucker is and stop him from taking any more victims—all while juggling single motherhood, a crazy great aunt, and Andie's own lust for a fallen angel. Can she solve the mystery before the vampires claim someone else? Or will she become the next target of the bloodsuckers?


Excerpt

ONE
“Expect the unexpected, especially when it comes to relatives.”
—The Witch’s Handbook
My great-aunt Dot decided to poof into my life at the exact same moment I was talking my best friend down from the comet-pocalypse that was about to hit our town.
Literally—on both fronts.
I waved away a shimmering cloud of silver dust and came face-to-face with a pink-haired, feather-jacket-wearing seventy-year-old.
“Andie, get off the phone.” Aunt Dot pulled off a pair of matching feather gloves and tossed them on a side table by my turquoise front door.
I placed a hand over the receiver. “I’ve told you a thousand times, I don’t want you working magic in my house.”
“We’ve got bigger fish to fricassee than your stupid rules.”
“I don’t want Gabby to see.”
Dot’s blue eyes sparkled. “Oh? Where is the little munchkin?”
I nodded toward the bedroom. “In there. Sound asleep.” I wagged a finger at her. “Don’t you change that.”
My newly acquired geriatric companion shuffled off to not wake my two-year-old daughter, who happened to be the love of my life. I sighed and put the phone back to my ear.
Kate panted into the line. “It’s the end of the world, Andie! I just know it.”
I grimaced. Kate McCall, my best friend and cohort in crime, pierced my eardrum with her shrieks of the apocalypse.
“It’s not the end of the world,” I said soothingly.
“Go look. Missy Burke’s already rode down my street calling it that. If she says it’s the end, then it probably is. That woman’s got her finger on the pulse of this town.”
“More like her nose up its rear end,” I said.
“Andie. Be nice.” Kate paused. “Never mind. I love you the way you are.”
I opened my front door and stepped out. A cold October wind ripped over the porch. I rubbed my arms to warm them. Boards in desperate need of a fresh coat of paint creaked under my ballerina flats.
A shiny full-size Ford pickup truck grunted down Cedar Street in my small hometown of Normal, Alabama. The driver bore down on the horn, threw her head out the window and yelled, “It’s the end of the world, y’all! The Lord’s coming in a comet to set y’all straight.”
Missy Burke was nothing if not informative. Dark hair trailed behind her like snakes as the wind whipped across her face.
She pointed at me. “Say your prayers, Andie Taylor. The Lord sees you. He knows where you’re going when you face judgment.”
Which I took to mean I wasn’t going to be standing beside her in heaven. If you asked Missy, she was the most perfect person on the planet and one of the few who’d get through the pearly gates.
I gave a friendly wave. “He sees you, too, scaring the good folks in this town half to death. You should be ashamed of yourself, Missy.”
Missy scrunched up her face and swatted at me as if I didn’t matter.
“Missy Burke just told me I was going to hell,” I said over the line.
“I’ll probably see you there,” Kate said. “I don’t think I prayed enough, Andie. St. Peter’s going to tell me I need to turn right back around and go the other way.”
I laughed. “That’s not going to happen. You’re a great person. St. Peter’s going to be excited to have you.”
With Missy gone, the night had quieted but for a white light shining in the distance. It looked like a star except it was getting bigger by the moment. “It’s a comet. Nothing to worry about.”
“It’s pretty bright. It’s going to hit my house.”
“Listen, I’ll keep an eye on it. If it looks like it’s going to destroy your house, I’ll call you.”
“Thank you. Mwuah.” She kissed the phone. “You’re the greatest friend in all the world.”
“I try.”
We hung up, and I went inside, immediately wondering if I had any chocolate in the house. I entered the kitchen, opened the fridge and found a bottle of syrup. Dot’s presence always stressed me out. I flipped the lid and squirted some in my mouth.
Better. Now I was ready to face my great-aunt. I crossed back to the living room.
Dot entered and started zipping up all the blinds.
“What are you doing?” I said.
“We’ve got to keep an eye on that comet. It’s not a natural phenomenon, Andie. It’s something magical.”
“It’s always about magic with you,” I mumbled. “Did you show up just to make my life complicated?”
Dot plumped her pink hair. “Of course not, but you’re a hunter and a witch. It beats me why you won’t use your powers.”
I crossed my arms and leaned against the front door. “Was a hunter. Witchcraft causes more problems than it’s worth. You of all people should know that.”
Dot withered a bit. I instantly felt a pang of guilt, but the truth was the truth.
“Mom died because of magic.”
Dot shook her head. “Your mother died because she called something she couldn’t control. It nearly killed all of us.”
I flared my arms. “That’s in the past. I don’t need magic and I don’t want it. My life is perfectly normal exactly as it is, and I want to keep it that way.”
Neither of us said anything. I waited a moment, letting the tension in the room dissolve.
Dot shrugged off her jacket and threw it on a chair.
“You’re not staying long, are you?” I said.
Please, don’t let her be staying long.
She plopped onto the couch and kicked up her feet. “I don’t know yet. Depends on what that comet brings.”
“How about some stardust and that’s it.”
At that moment a Magic 8 Ball sailed into the room.
Dot threw up her hands in glee. “Vordrid! Finally, someone with sense.”
Vordrid sniffed. I know that as a Magic 8 Ball he didn’t technically have a nose, but that didn’t stop him from making sounds only a person with a head could create. “I’m twelve hundred years old. I should have some sense.”
Dot turned to me. “For someone who doesn’t want Gabby seeing magic, I don’t understand why you keep Vordrid.”
“Because Vordrid is family, and he doesn’t cause any trouble,” I said, nodding at her.
Truth be told, Vordrid was the only link I had to Dex, my husband, who’d died before Gabby was born.
An arrow of pain pierced my heart. I pushed it aside, doing my best not to fall into the pit of despair that was the longing I still had for Dex.
“I wouldn’t leave Andie if you gave me a crystal skull to live in,” Vordrid said. “And according to that Ancient Aliens show, crystal skulls possess lots of power.”
Vordrid had been my mentor in my hunter days. What’s a hunter, you ask? A select group of witches and wizards employed to seek out and destroy evil beings. Dex and I had specialized in vampires, though plenty of hunters tracked other magical creatures.
Vordrid was the only piece of that old life I’d kept.
The light outside brightened. Dot flew off the couch and to the window. “Quick! This is no ordinary comet.”
“As you’ve said.” I caught my reflection in the mirror above the mantel. My thick honey- and platinum-colored hair lay in sagging curls over my shoulders, and I had dark circles under each eye that even my cute fringe of bang couldn’t draw your attention away from. What I wouldn’t give for some stress relief.
Like a massage.
I yawned. “Wake me when it’s over.”
Dot glanced at Vordrid. “Can’t you do anything with her?”
Vordrid settled himself down on the coffee table. “What can I do with a witch who doesn’t want to be one?”
I smiled. “He’s pretty much right.”
Dot clasped her hands in frustration. “Andie, you must advocate for us. For your profession.”
“Dot, I’m a preschool teacher at Giving Trunk. I advocate for children every day.”
Yes, it’s trunk, not tree. I think there was some sort of infringement thing that kept the place from being called Giving Tree.
Dot choked on something. By the sound of it, I think it was frustration. “You’re a witch.”
“Was a witch. I don’t practice.”
Vordrid pivoted toward Dot. “I haven’t been able to do anything with her for years. Not since that night.”
Dot shook her head and glanced back at the comet. “I don’t have time for your piddling, Andie. It’s coming.”
“It’s not like it’s the end of the world,” I said.
Vordrid hopped a bit. “It could be. You know that’s what killed the dinosaurs.”
“Vordrid, it’s not the end of the world.”
“Stranger things have happened.”
I nodded. “Exactly. Like me living with the spirit of a twelve-hundred-year-old wizard who resides inside a kid’s toy.”
Vordrid rattled his shell. “As I said, stranger things.”
I rolled my eyes. “Thank you for reminding me. I’m going to check on Gabby.”
I padded into the small bedroom off the parlor and placed a hand in the crib. Gabby slept soundly. I pulled the covers down over her legs and made sure she was breathing.
Because that’s what all mothers do—we sporadically make sure that our children are still breathing because we’re a little mental that way.
The house started to shake. I pulled Gabby’s crib away from the wall to make sure nothing would fall on her and went back into the living room. A couple of picture frames tumbled from their place on the mantel.
“Magic,” Dot whispered.
“Natural phenomenon,” I shot back.
“I feel a disturbance in the force,” Vordrid said.
What the…? Seriously? Were they all against me?
I peeked out the window. Yellowish light filled the entire sky. People were coming out of their homes. I rushed back in to check on Gabby, and she was sleeping soundly. I glanced out the window as the comet flew over the street, scorching the tops of the trees.
A moment later it sounded like the world had split in two. A quake rocked the house. Knicknacks fell off the shelves to the floor. The shaking subsided as quickly as it started, and the night retuned to peace and quiet.
Except for the twenty car alarms blaring down my street. I guess the rumbling had set them off.
Gabby slept soundly. Thank goodness. Whenever she woke in the middle of the night, she would cry on and on. It was a nightmare trying to get her back to sleep. I had a feeling Dot may have had something to do with keeping her in slumber.
“I’m going to see what happened,” Vordrid said. His spirit lifted from the ball. It looked like strips of white gossamer as it zipped out the window.
I thought things might get back to normal in Normal for the rest of the night.
Silly me. I realized that wasn’t going to happen when Dot grabbed me by the shoulders and spun me around. Perched on my couch, licking its paw, sat a gray gargoyle. He wasn’t very big, about the size of a pound of flour, but he was still a creature that wasn’t supposed to be in my house.
“What the heck?” I screeched.
Dot pushed me forward. “It must’ve hitchhiked on my back when I came up from Patagonia.”
“Patagonia?” I said.
She wiggled her fingers. “I was there learning how to touch the sky. I must’ve touched something else instead.”
“Yeah, like a monster.”
The gargoyle stopped licking its paw. It opened leathery wings lined with veins, unhinged its mouth, and shot fire at us.
I ducked. “Oh dear Lord!”
“Stop it, Andie,” Dot said, pushing me forward.
I tried to scramble back, but she held me fast. “Why are you shoving me closer to it? Are you trying to fry me?”
Dot clasped my shoulders tightly. “You’re a hunter. Use your power!”
I pressed my heels into the rug, turned around and said, “Would you quit calling me that!”
Another spray of fire shot above our heads.
“Ah,” I screamed.
“You’re going to wake up Gabby,” Dot said, patting down her pink hair.
Holy crap on a stick. She was right. If I didn’t deal with this little turdball on my couch, the toddler would wake up and that would be a crying nightmare worse than my great-aunt visiting me.
I started to pull the energy from the room and bring it into my body. The small taste of power felt good. Almost a little too good, like when you haven’t eaten chocolate in a really long time because you’re on a diet. Then when you taste it, it’s like heaven melting on your tongue.
Yeah, that’s kinda what using my magic felt like.
Don’t worry; I wasn’t going to admit it to Dot.
Speaking of my great-aunt, I glanced over my shoulder. The look of glee on her face made me stop. Something smelled funny, and it wasn’t the streak of blackened ceiling that little monster had caused.
I walked over to the creature and crossed my arms. “Okay, how much is my aunt paying you for scaring me?”
The gargoyle frowned.
I rubbed my thumb over my fingers. “How much? Because what she didn’t tell you is, if I use my power, you will turn to dust. I suggest you get out of here before that money or gold or whatever seems like nothing when you’re sewing yourself back together.”
The creature opened his mouth and screeched. He flapped his wings and, half a second later, vanished in a purple cloud of magic.
I waved the air clear.
“You think you’re so smart,” Dot grumbled.
I grinned. “You almost had me.” I pinched my fingers together. “So close, but you know, there’s a reason why I don’t invite you over often. Oh, and fix my ceiling.”
Dot snapped her fingers, and the smudge disappeared. She clucked at me. “Your daughter needs to learn witchcraft.”
My nostrils flared. “Gabby won’t get her powers until she hits puberty—if she even gets them then. The magic could skip a generation. But until that time, I want Gabby to live a normal, happy life. Magic has taken too much from me—first my mother and then Dex.”
Dot plucked her shirt from the waistband of her jeans. “It wasn’t the magic, per se.”
I shot her a dark look. “It was because of the magic, and don’t you forget it.”
Dot clamped her lips shut.
Vordrid shot back into the house and twisted inside the ball.
I rubbed at the headache that had sprouted in my temples. “What’d you see?”
He jumped up and down, making the knickknacks on the table jumble. “It wasn’t a regular comet.”
“See?” Dot said. “Told you so.”
“It’s really annoying when people use that phrase,” I said.
“We’re related. I can use it as much as I want.”
Vordrid kept jumping. “If it had been a comet, I would’ve expected to see the meteor. But instead of a rock, there was a shape formed into the ground.”
I scratched the back of my head. “Really? A shape? That’s interesting.”
“It was interesting, Andie. Most interesting of all was the shape it had taken.”
“And what was that?” I said, half listening.
Vordrid cleared his throat. “The shape of a human.”
Dot smirked. “Something just landed in Normal. Get ready, Andie. This town is going to need a witch, and that witch is you.”





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About the Author





Amy Boyles grew up reading Judy Blume and Christopher Pike. Somehow, the combination of coming of age books and teenage murder mysteries made her want to be a writer. After graduating college at DePauw University, she spent some time living in Chicago, Louisville, and New York before settling back in the South. Now, she spends her time chasing two toddlers while trying to stir up trouble in Silver Springs, Alabama, the fictional town where Dylan Apel and her sisters are trying to master witchcraft, tame their crazy relatives, and juggle their love lives.




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