Remember the part in The Dark Star where Clare and Daniel have the fight and Clare storms off in a rage? She ends up at Grandma Sarah’s house unaware that Daniel has accidently poisoned her. Clare’s arrival was handled off the page in The Dark Star but in Children of the Serpent you get the rest of the story. Here is a small excerpt of the scene featuring everyone’s favorite “feline” trouble maker, Jones.
Jones didn’t sleep most nights, and when he did, he was plagued with disturbing dreams. He dreamt of the big house he had barely escaped from all those years ago. Only in his dreams the house was furnished with beautiful art and antique furniture. In his dreams he lived there, he belonged there; he could see the faces of the people he loved could hear their voices clearly, only to be plunged back into the murk of his dim memories upon awakening.
These dreams had haunted him for years, but lately the images of the man that was prisoner in the black cavern was making a regular appearance. The man would be laughing with him, instructing him with a deep voiced French accent. Was the man his father or a mentor?
Jones could only guess, because in other dreams the man shouted at him, telling him he had betrayed him with tears in his dark eyes. He dreamt of fire and of statues that crumbled to ash as he stepped close to look at them. He dreamt of snakes. Dead snakes laying alongside the burnt bodies of warriors sprawled at his feet. He would awake from these dreams with feelings of shame so deep he was often sick to his stomach.
For years since that first night in New Orleans he pushed these visions away. He couldn’t remember, so why should he care? Maybe they were things that were best forgot.
He had stayed with Christophe and The Southern Star until the old chef passed away. He’d been the restaurant’s feline maître d, escorting amused patrons to their tables. There was still a picture of him hung in the bar.
After, he’d wandered the country, hopping the occasional freight train, never staying for more than a season in any one place. Then he landed in Remy, and there was something about the place that made him want to stay. He befriended Stella and her mother, had made a place for himself as Sam’s partner at Trinkets and Treasures and was more than happy to while away the years as Remy’s resident tomcat.
These dreams though, they were persistent, every time he closed his eyes it was the same. It was as if something was trying to work its way up and out of his stubborn memory but couldn’t quite make it to the surface. Ever since Revel Night there had been a strange scent in the air, one that smelled like trouble…and disturbingly familiar. He could get no peace, so he prowled Remy, patrolling the town he’d come to consider his home.
His last stop was Sarah Bright’s house. Her picturesque cottage was on the outskirts of town near the wooded meadow. Jumping up onto the picket fence that surrounded the garden he found everything quiet and accounted for.
It was almost sunup, maybe he would hang around for a bit. He could usually wrangle an invitation to breakfast if he showed up while she was cooking.
Movement on the porch drew his attention. He hunkered, his ruff standing on end. Silently he jumped down off the fence and slunk low to the ground up the porch stairs. It was a person, collapsed a few feet from the door.
“Hey, you!” Jones called. “Who are you?”
An anguished moan answered his query.
“Clare?” Jones ran the rest of the distance. “Clare!”
It was Stella’s oldest daughter. He pawed and nuzzled her shoulder, trying to get a response. The girl turned her head toward him, her long black hair falling from her face. Jones hissed and backed away. Clare’s normally bright green irises were ringed with red, and she was pale as a ghost.
“J-Jonesy?” Clare croaked. “I don’t feel good. I…Grandma…” was as much as she got out before she fainted again.
Jones ran over to the door, reaching up he pawed the doorbell before remembering that it had been broken for years. He scratched at the door then peeked into the window beside it. No lights were on, no one looked to be up.
“Hold on Clare, honey!”
Running around the house he leapt up onto the trellis where big purple clematis climbed up the side of the house. He scaled the trellis, cursing when he almost fell off. Finally, he made it to the window, balancing on the sill he clawed the glass, meowing at the top of his lungs.
“Juno!” he called to the girl in the bed. “Juno!”
She peeked out of the covers. “Go away!” she grumbled.
“Juno Tenebris! You get your sparkly Faerie ass out of bed right now and open this window!” He headbutted the glass for emphasis.
Grumpily she obeyed climbing out of bed and sliding the sash up. “Jeez, okay! Where’s the fire!”
Jones jumped into the room landing with a heavy thud beside her. “It’s Clare! She’s out on the porch! There’s something wrong, she’s sick or something!”
“What!” Juno ran down the hall and pounded on her grandmother’s bedroom door. “Grandma, Grandma, wake up!” she yelled before racing down the stairs.
Bleary eyed Sarah opened her door, her robe half on. “Jones, what on earth!” she said, spotting him in the hall.
“It’s Clare!” he explained again. “She’s back but something’s wrong with her.”
All hint of sleepiness vanished. Pulling on her robe Sarah dashed down the stairs with Jones hard on her heels.
Children of the Serpent is out June 21, 2021 on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited
This spring I’ve finally got around to reading all the books in my TBR (To Be Read) queue and there have been some really great ones. Far too many to list here but a handful stood out and I continue to think about them.
Bitterburn was a great rethink of the Beauty and the Beast tale, moody, intense and the romance is anything but syrupy sweet.
Amarrah Brewer is desperate and grief-stricken.
For ages, the town of Bitterburn has sent tribute to the Keep at the End of the World, but a harsh winter leaves them unable to pay the toll that keeps the Beast at bay. Amarrah volunteers to brave what no one has before–to end the threat or die trying.
The Beast of Bitterburn has lost all hope.
One way or another, Njål has been a prisoner for his entire life. Monstrous evil has left him trapped and lonely, and he believes that will never change. There is only darkness in his endless exile, never light. Never warmth. Until she arrives.
It’s a tale as old as time… where Beauty goes to confront the Beast and falls in love instead.
Loved The Lost Apothecary! For me it was the best of Historical and Feminist fiction and if you are into either of those you really should check it out!
With crackling suspense, unforgettable characters and searing insight, The Lost Apothecary is a subversive and intoxicating debut novel of secrets, vengeance and the remarkable ways women can save each other despite the barrier of time.
Hidden in the depths of eighteenth-century London, a secret apothecary shop caters to an unusual kind of clientele. Women across the city whisper of a mysterious figure named Nella who sells well-disguised poisons to use against the oppressive men in their lives. But the apothecary’s fate is jeopardized when her newest patron, a precocious twelve-year-old, makes a fatal mistake, sparking a string of consequences that echo through the centuries.
Meanwhile in present-day London, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her tenth wedding anniversary alone, running from her own demons. When she stumbles upon a clue to the unsolved apothecary murders that haunted London two hundred years ago, her life collides with the apothecary’s in a stunning twist of fate—and not everyone will survive.
This has been lingering in my TBR queue for quite a while and I’m so very glad I got around to it! I wasn’t prepared for how much I would identify with James Rebanks’ story but I should not have been surprised considering I married into a family who has their roots planted deep in the farming community.
Some people’s lives are entirely their own creations. James Rebanks’ isn’t. The first son of a shepherd, who was the first son of a shepherd himself, his family have lived and worked in the Lake District of Northern England for generations, further back than recorded history. It’s a part of the world known mainly for its romantic descriptions by Wordsworth and the much loved illustrated children’s books of Beatrix Potter. But James’ world is quite different. His way of life is ordered by the seasons and the work they demand. It hasn’t changed for hundreds of years: sending the sheep to the fells in the summer and making the hay; the autumn fairs where the flocks are replenished; the grueling toil of winter when the sheep must be kept alive, and the light-headedness that comes with spring, as the lambs are born and the sheep get ready to return to the hills and valleys.
The Shepherd’s Life the story of a deep-rooted attachment to place, modern dispatches from an ancient landscape that describe a way of life that is little noticed and yet has profoundly shaped the landscape over time. In evocative and lucid prose, James Rebanks takes us through a shepherd’s year, offering a unique account of rural life and a fundamental connection with the land that most of us have lost. It is a story of working lives, the people around him, his childhood, his parents and grandparents, a people who exist and endure even as the culture – of the Lake District, and of farming – changes around them.
Many memoirs are of people working desperately hard to leave a place. This is the story of someone trying desperately hard to stay.
“Calling all font and calligraphy nerds!” My younger son is a graphic designer and one of his hobbies is creating new fonts (lettering or typeface style). Thanks to him I knew what the calligrapher character was talking about when she described her work (not that it’s hard to follow, I was just tickled that I knew without being told what “kerning” was)
In this warm and witty romance from acclaimed author Kate Clayborn, one little word puts a woman’s business—and her heart—in jeopardy . . .
Meg Mackworth’s hand-lettering skill has made her famous as the Planner of Park Slope, designing custom journals for her New York City clientele. She has another skill too: reading signs that other people miss. Knowing the upcoming marriage of Reid Sutherland and his polished fiancée was doomed to fail is one thing, but weaving a secret word of warning into their wedding program is another. Meg may have thought no one would spot it, but she hadn’t counted on sharp-eyed, pattern-obsessed Reid.
A year later, Reid has tracked Meg down to find out how she knew that his meticulously planned future was about to implode. But with a looming deadline and a bad case of creative block, Meg doesn’t have time for Reid’s questions—unless he can help her find her missing inspiration. As they gradually open up to each other, both try to ignore a deepening connection between them. But the signs are there—irresistible, indisputable, urging Meg to heed the messages Reid is sending her, before it’s too late . . .
Those of you who have been hanging out here for awhile know what an absolute fan I am of Andy Weir’s work. I preordered this book so dang hard I broke my enter key! It did not disappoint. There are twists and gasp out loud plot bombshells that I can’t tell you about for fear I’ll ruin it. Let’s just say if you loved The Martian and Artemis you’ll will want to read this!
Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission—and if he fails, humanity and the earth itself will perish.
Except that right now, he doesn’t know that. He can’t even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment or how to complete it.
All he knows is that he’s been asleep for a very, very long time. And he’s just been awakened to find himself millions of miles from home, with nothing but two corpses for company.
His crewmates dead, his memories fuzzily returning, Ryland realizes that an impossible task now confronts him. Hurtling through space on this tiny ship, it’s up to him to puzzle out an impossible scientific mystery—and conquer an extinction-level threat to our species.
And with the clock ticking down and the nearest human being light-years away, he’s got to do it all alone.
Or does he?
Spring seems to be well and truly here at last. I’ve been planting my herb garden and watching my black eyed Susan’s pop up from their winter rest, soon I’ll have lovely yellow flowers to keep me company while I edit Children of the Serpent. I’ve completed the first draft but now I need to coax it into something more book shaped. I’m excited to share Juno’s story with you on June 21st but until then I’ve whipped up this video trailer featuring Juno, Finlan and Michael.
The Roxy Cinema was an art deco gem built in the 1930’s. The single screen movie house played golden age Hollywood movies on Sundays and at Christmas time played “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas” every year.
Tonight’s feature was the new Gory Dayz film. A ridiculous horror series that had been going since Juno’s parents were teenagers,the Gory Dayz films were a Tenebris family tradition. When your father was the Boogeyman, it was silly splatter flicks as a kid rather than sweet, animated studio movies. Juno was early for her meet up with her new friends and was primping in the bathroom of the cinema before heading down to the lobby.
The temperature in the ladies’ room dipped suddenly and Juno experienced the familiar sensation of apprehensive goose flesh from head to toe. She looked up into the mirror and past her own shoulder as an apparition took form in the shadowed interior of the toilet stall.
“Haunting toilets now, Finn?” she asked.
“Could you do something about the light?”
His form was indistinct, merely a grey mist that hung suspended in the stall. A Shadow’s major weakness…the Boogeyman couldn’t get you when the lights were on. She wet her fingers under the cold water of the tap then reached into the sconce beside the mirror and quickly turned the bulb dousing the light.
“Ow!” she yelped. She hadn’t been quick enough, and the hot bulb had burned her fingers.
“Here, let me see.”
Finn walked out of the stall. The light was low enough now for him to manifest his full physical presence.
It was quite a presence to be sure. He was tall for his age and well-built. Thick dark red hair swept appealingly over amber colored eyes that shifted to orange depending on his emotional state. His sharply pointed ears sported rings pierced into both tip and lobe. His pale skin was sprinkled all over with freckles, but Finnlan Wickerman was Fae, so unlike his human ginger counterparts his freckles formed looping, swirling patterns along his shoulders, arms, back and chest. Juno believed humans would describe him as a “snacc”.
Juno held out her stinging fingers. He bent and gently blew cold chills onto them. She clamped her lips together to keep from sighing out loud.
He looked up at her through his dark lashes. “Better?”
“Thanks.” Quickly turning she and made herself busy rummaging around in her make-up bag, she found a tube of mascara and proceeded to apply it.
“Will your father like it if he knew you were wearing that stuff.”
“My father doesn’t tell me what to do with my body,” She pinned him with a narrow-eyed look. “And you don’t get to either, by the way.”
“I wouldn’t dream of it.”
“A lot of Mortal girls my age wear it.”
“But you’re not a Mortal.”
Her expression was mockingly shocked. “I’m not?” Turning back to the mirror she brushed a pale pink color onto the apples of her cheeks. Finn just smiled seeming to enjoy himself.
For as long as she’d know him, he’d always had a special talent for aggravating her. With just a look he could affect her mood, which right now was annoyed.
He pointed to her hairline where usually a pair of pearlescent white horns sprouted. “I thought Faeries didn’t conceal themselves on Revel Night?”
When visiting the Mortal realm, an oculus ori or concealment charm was a handy tool that the immortal races used to disguise their unusual or alarming appearance. Worn as a necklace or other piece of jewelry, the eye engraved on the triangular gemstone was closed while the person wore the charm, their true appearance concealed. However, once the charm was removed the eye opened and the truth was revealed.
She scooped up her oculus charm and dropped it down under her t-shirt then brought her long platinum curls forward in front of her shoulders to further hide it.
“I’m not going to the Revel remember?” She frowned at herself in the mirror. “It’s not fair.”
“Sorry. I wish you were coming too.”
Irritation flared again as she was reminded that Finn, like herself, was sixteen years old. But unlike her he would at Revel. Working. But still.
“Finn, are you bugging me for a reason or is haunting ladies’ rooms a newly discovered kink?”
He simultaneously laughed and blushed. Then he sobered and studied his shoes. His eyes darted over at her then down again. “It’s the first chance I’ve had to talk to you since…you know.”
A million butterflies seemed to swarm her belly at once.
The Crystal Cave was a favorite spot in the Faerie realm, a cavern with a perfectly clear pool of deep water surrounded by glittering stalactites. She thought she’d had it all to herself a day almost two weeks ago. It’s the reason she knew all about his freckles.
“I get the feeling you’re avoiding me.” He looked at her directly then, waiting for her answer.
Pure blood Faeries like Finn couldn’t lie. They were the most powerful magical beings in the universe, but they could not lie. It was nature’s balance. She on the other hand was part human from her mother’s bloodline and could lie her little derrière off to the handsome boy standing beside her. But she didn’t.
“I didn’t want it to be weird between us.” She kept her eyes fixed on the sink faucet. “Awkward.”
“If you thought it would be awkward why did you kiss me?”
She could not help but play it over in her head again. Laughing, teasing, splashing in the cool water.
“I didn’t kiss you, we kissed each other. It was mutual.”
His mouth soft, so soft, and warm on hers…
“Yes, very mutual, or so I thought,” he said.
“It was. It was…” Perfect. The kiss had been her first, and it had been perfect. “It was nice but…”
“But?” His tone seemed to issue a challenge. He folded his arms over his chest, cocked an auburn brow at her and waited.
A long moment of silence stretched out as she chose her words carefully.
“You’re my father’s student Finn,” she said finally, “and my brother’s captain. This is where I want to be. I start high school in the fall. I want a life away from the Faerie realm.” She turned and faced him. “You’re a Shadow.” She passed a hand slowly through his torso, his form rippling like water. “You can’t be real here.”
It was only in the immortal realms, the Faerie, Demonic and Angelic realms that the Shadows could manifest a corporeal body. In the Mortal realm they could only exist as a phantom-like apparition.
Her eyes locked onto his mouth then skittered away. Those butterflies in her belly mocked the words she said next. “So no; no more kisses Finn.”
A slow smile eased its way onto those lips and mischief sparked to life in his eyes, their color darkening from amber to orange. “We shall see about that,” he said, fading away into a grey mist.
“That was not a challenge, Finnlan!” she called after him.
She huffed an aggravated breath; he’d done it again; he had gotten to her. Mortal boys had their vexing traits, but Fae boys were the worst! And Finn was the worst of the worst! She caught herself grinning and purposely scowled into the mirror.
“Have fun with Splatter Joe!” The sinister whisper was right on her ear.
Juno startled, yelping loudly. Cold tingles traced down her neck and arm. Spinning around she was just in time to see him dissolve into thin air again, a triumphant smile on his pretty face.
Growling she twisted the light bulb in the sconce back on flooding the bathroom with light then scooped her things back into her purse and fled the ladies’ room.
“The absolute worst!” she said through gritted teeth.
CHILDREN OF THE SERPENT will be available June 21st 2021 for Kindle and Kindle unlimited.
I’ve been a fan of chillhop and in particular the productions at Chillhop Music for the last few years. It’s the music I’ve been living and writing to. When I heard of Guillaume and Psalm Trees’ collaboration I was excited to hear their work but was really blown away by the fact that they had never met!
Here’s the story:
As you might already know, the two have never met, and it was through their online connection that they were album to create this album (as well as a previous EP and a new single on Essentials Spring 2021).
The original concept for this documentary was to have Psalm Trees (based in Rotterdam) visit Guillaume in Paris and film the entire thing. Due to the pandemic lockdown and Covid-19 restrictions (and not wanting to risk anything by traveling) we decided to instead further focus on the authenticity of this collaboration from home: how they connected, how they work together, what the process looks like from their own locations.
Two different cities, two different cameras, two different perspectives.
It’s an amazing album! I urge you to check it out:
🎧 Download / Stream / Order Vinyl – “We Must Believe in Spring” by Psalm Trees & Guillaume Muschalle ・ https://chillhop.ffm.to/wmbis.mor 🎶
Listen to Chillhop on Spotify https://chillhop.ffm.to/chillhopradio…
Can we, just for a moment, admire how gorgeous this cover is?!
The story is just as amazing! Inspired by the Persian epic Shahnameh from the early eleventh century, the setting is lush and vivid. It’s an empowering story about learning to love the things about oneself that are different. While reading the story I kept thinking about the quote “Princesses, most often save themselves.” I can’t remember who coined that phrase but it very much applies to this story.
Melissa Bashardoust’s Girl, Serpent, Thorn is “an alluring feminist fairy tale” (Kirkus) about a girl cursed to be poisonous to the touch and who discovers what power might lie in such a curse.
There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it’s not just a story.
As the day of her twin brother’s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if she’s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isn’t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison.
Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming…human or demon. Princess or monster.
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May I also humbly recommend …
Yes another recipe with meatballs! It’s been the mood around here lately. This was inspired by a recipe I saw in NYT but they were rather bland so I kick them up with the addition of some of my favorite Asian flavors!
1 lb Ground Turkey
2 tablespoons Hoisin Sauce (whatever is your favorite)
2 cloves of grated Garlic
1 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice
2 teaspoons dried Basil (If you have fresh then add 4 leaves finely chopped)
1 tablespoon Ponzu (if you can’t find it then substitute plain Soy Sauce)
1 teaspoon Sesame Oil
1 cup Panko Crumbs
1 finely chopped Green Onion
Salt & Pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Mix all of the above together and let sit covered for 15 minutes. If the Mixture still seems too wet then add more Panko 1 tablespoon at a time until you’re happy with the consistency. I find that a somewhat wetter meatball comes out more tender after cooking.
Roll the meat mixture into rough 2 inch balls and place on a foil or silpat lined baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes. (If you roll with damp hands the mixture won’t stick to your fingers!)
Remove from oven and place the meatballs into a shallow fry pan with the sauce to finish cooking through, about 7-10 more minutes or until meatballs are cooked through.
Serve with jasmine rice or noodles with the pan sauce divided and poured over each portion.
For the Sauce:
Hoisin Simmer Sauce
2 tablespoons Hoisin Sauce
1 teaspoon Sesame Oil
1 teaspoon Sesame Seeds
1 tablespoon Ponzu or Soy Sauce
1/2 cup water
In a fry pan with a lid combine all the above ingredients and bring to a simmer. Add the meatballs and cover simmering for 7-10 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through. When finished plate up the meatballs and then turn the heat up and reduce the sauce for about 3 minutes or until It forms a glaze. Pour over meatballs to serve.
I cobbled this soup together out of freezer and pantry staples. It turned out rather well!
Meatball Minestrone Soup
1 lb Sweet Italian sausage
a drizzle of Olive Oil
1 15oz. can White Beans
1 15oz can Diced Tomatoes
2 cups Mixed Frozen Veggies
1 cup Dried Shaped Pasta (I used Gemelini)
1.5 tablespoons Better Than Bouillon Beef stock concentrate
1 tablespoon dried Italian Herb Mix
1 teaspoon dried Thyme
2 teaspoons grated Fresh Garlic
4 cups Water
Salt & Pepper
If you are working with sausage links take the casing off then roll the sausage meat into roughly 1 inch balls. In a nonstick sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat and add the meatballs. Cook for about 5 minutes or until brown and no longer pink in the middle. Set aside.
In a large pot with lid combine the tomatoes (and juice), white beans (plus the canning liquid), frozen veggies, garlic, stock concentrate, herbs and water. Stir to mix then turn the heat to medium and bring to a low boil. Cook until the frozen veggies are tender but still retain their bright color, about 7-10 minutes.
Add in the meatballs and any juice accumulated in the pan.
Add the dried pasta. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes or until the pasta is done.
Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with a sprinkle of cheese and garlic bread.
About the third chapter in I remember stating aloud “This is a very weird story!” That’s saying a lot from someone who writes the type of stuff that I do, but it’s true. At first, you don’t know what going on, but it’s fascinating! And when you do figure out what’s going on you’re hooked!
From the New York Times bestselling author of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, an intoxicating, hypnotic new novel set in a dreamlike alternative reality.
Piranesi’s house is no ordinary building: its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls are lined with thousands upon thousands of statues, each one different from all the others. Within the labyrinth of halls an ocean is imprisoned; waves thunder up staircases, rooms are flooded in an instant. But Piranesi is not afraid; he understands the tides as he understands the pattern of the labyrinth itself. He lives to explore the house.
There is one other person in the house-a man called The Other, who visits Piranesi twice a week and asks for help with research into A Great and Secret Knowledge. But as Piranesi explores, evidence emerges of another person, and a terrible truth begins to unravel, revealing a world beyond the one Piranesi has always known.
For readers of Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane and fans of Madeline Miller’s Circe, Piranesi introduces an astonishing new world, an infinite labyrinth, full of startling images and surreal beauty, haunted by the tides and the clouds.
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May I also humbly recommend….