FROM HAVOC TO HARMONY

For years I’ve lain in bed studying the right corner of my bedroom. The mini alcove proved impossible to furnish, not for lack of trying though.

For nearly a decade a redundant large bookcase lurched out of the gap, encroaching into the room, looming over. It became an overbearing presence in the harmonious room.

Earlier a small hanging shelf fitted easily between the chimney breast and the wall, yet with only two shelves there was still the problem with the wasted space beneath. A small antique wooden box moved in for a while before becoming recalled for other purposes in the neighbouring room. Furniture seems to be itinerant in my house … restless, always on the move.

Enough is enough and one day I decided to take charge! A yearning cried out to be fulfilled, my vision for the corner, quietly resting in my mind longed for existence. It was time!

It never fails to astound me how one small plan leads to so much upheaval in a house! As I sketched my very rough outline for a fitted bookcase, my husband and I decided to invest in a new bed at the same time! And, oh yes, didn’t the paint need freshening up?!

By this time you might have realised there are a lot of books in my house … many of which needed to be moved for the project. The dining table and chairs moved into the living room (see what I mean about restless furniture!) With a heave and ho, with muttering galore, with logistics reminiscent of a battle plan we set forth!

We have a dog-legged staircase and on the middle landing are two beautiful bookcases both filled to the brim with books. Before any big furniture could go down and up these needed to be moved to the dining room. Gosh, did we add to the daily step count with these books alone! Over a hundred Encyclopaedia Britannica books moved down along with an old bible from my husband’s family as well as an abundance of fiction novels.

As the leather-bound Encyclopaedia Britannica books sprawled across the floor, their numbers seemed insurmountable as they lay in unread heaps. With thoughts to decluttering it was decided to sell them all … thank goodness for eBay and a lovely chap bought them and came to collect them the day after the auction ended. I bade the collection a fond farewell but no regrets and in the process greeted the extra space for other books!

Next to join the already burgeoning ad hoc library in the dining room (why does this post remind me of the game of Cluedo!), all the books from my old-fashioned bookcase and desk came downstairs. I cradled my children’s books in my arms, hello Heidi, ahh, the Children on the Oregon trail, there you are gold-embossed Ivanhoe!

Next step was bed removal and I’m always happy when one can donate to charity and the British Heart Foundation were only too happy to pick this up, along with the old bookcase! At last freedom … the painting soon got underway, the new bed was chosen and I’d found a carpenter for the bookcase.

A skilled craftsman, he immediately ‘got’ my vision for the corner, shared my enthusiasm for the design, adding his own additions to blend with existing old-fashioned bookcase and desk! I was skittish with excitement as I received the sketches! Perfect!

Four weeks later, the room had been reassembled and I am overjoyed with the result. The bed is a haven of comfort, I’m sleeping the cosy slumber from childhood, the corner bookshelf is a delight to see. Just as I imagined, sitting snugly into the gap, bringing light and warmth into the room!

Next came the most joyful of chores … arranging the books across the bookshelves in all the rooms of my home! Uprooting books from my study, the living room to create a cherished cohesion that I’d lost during numerous moves. I mulled over the location of books, their groupings. Where the Encyclopaedia Britannica books had resided I’ve now put my reportage and journalism books, memoirs and biographies! Already I’m finding my time going downstairs has exponentially lengthened as I take a halfway break, pick up a book, glancing through it. I’m having a wonderful time revisiting my old friends!

Unread books are safely stacked in the new bedroom bookcase along with inspirational books, poetry books ready for a perchance read are behind the glass doors, fiction books are scattered with my unusual known-only-to-me organisational skill! Ask me for a book, if I have it, I can find it!

The four weeks of havoc at home was more than worth the chaos, and I’m overjoyed with the peaceful harmony in the new bedroom with its enchanting bookcase.

Welcome Author Annika Perry #wouldyourather

“Would you rather be able to freeze time or travel in time?”

This is only one of the fun albeit tricky questions that Jill Weatherholt posed to me in her renewed childhood game of “Would You Rather” feature on her blog!

I was hooked by the series since its inception in September 2019 and I am delighted to be featured last week. Please click the link to find out more!

Jill Weatherholt

Today I’m excited to welcome our friend and writer, Annika Perry. For those of you who know Annika, I’m sure you’ll agree she is one of the kindest and most generous bloggers you’ll ever meet. We connected many years ago, and now I feel as though we’re old friends. I was excited when she expressed an interest to play “would you rather.” I think you’ll enjoy her answers as much as I did.

Would you rather be able to freeze time or travel in time?

Without a doubt, I’d rather travel in time! Ever since reading ‘The Time Machine’ by H G Wells as a child I knew here was the perfect way to travel although I realised it came with its own inherent hazards. Avoiding these I would visit various eras across time. The major world events, whilst of interest, would not appeal to me as much as seeing…

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2019 GOODREADS CHALLENGE

Welcome to the summary of my reading for 2019! For the past few years, I’ve been a keen participant of the Goodreads Reading Challenge. This year I surpassed my target of 62 books completing 66 in twelve months.

Below are images of all the books I read as well a list of them all. When there is a link, this is to my review of the particular book published earlier in the year on my blog.

Some books are in italics and these are ones I completed as part of the Reading Across Time (When Are You Reading?) Challenge in which I’ve also taken part and I almost completed all twelve, apart from 1300 – 1499! The specific eras are listed after each of the italicized books.

Both of the challenges ensured I read widely and outside my normal genre and it has been a hugely enriching and rewarding year of books … I look forward to new books galore in 2020!

SPRING

  • ‘The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra’ by Vaseem Khan
  • A Velocity of Being’ edited by Maria Popova & Claudia Bedrick
  • ‘A Journal of the Plague Year’ by Daniel Defoe (1500-1699)
  • ‘I’m Fine and Neither Are You’ by Camille Pagan
  • ‘The Devil Aspect’ by Craig Russell
  • ‘The Man I Fell in Love with’ by Kate Field
  • ‘The Bookseller of Kabul’ by Asne Seierstad
  • ‘Jezebel’ by Irene Nemirovsky
  • ‘The Betrayal’ by Kate Furnivall
  • ‘A Spark of Light’ by Jodi Picoult
  • ‘Uncommon Type’ by Tom Hanks
  • ‘Elisabeth’s Lists’ by Lulah Ellender
  • ‘Youngblood Hawke’ by Herman Wouk (1940-1959)
  • ‘Epic Love Epiphany’ by Lynn L Swisher
  • ‘The Little Book of Hygge’ by Meik Wiking
  • ‘The Survivors’ by Kate Furnivall (1920-1939)
  • ‘Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (1980-1999)
  • ‘This is Going to Hurt’ by Adam Kay (2000-The Present)

SUMMER

  • ‘I Remember’ by Joe Brainard
  • ’59 Memory Lane’ by Ceila Anderson
  • ‘Postcards from a Stranger’ by Imogen Clark
  • ‘The Binding’ by Bridget Collins
  • ‘The Romanov Sisters’ by Helen Rappaport (1900-1919)
  • ‘The Silver Ladies of Penny Lane’ by Dee MacDonald
  • ‘Valencia and Valentine’ by Siggy Krause
  • ‘The Perplexing Theft of the Jewel in the Crown’ by Vaseem Khan
  • ‘When I’m Gone’ by Emily Bleeker
  • ‘Becoming’ by Michelle Obama
  • ‘The Cactus’ by Sarah Haywood
  • ‘Dry Hard’ by Nick Spalding
  • ‘The Cut Out Girl’ by Bart van Es
  • ‘You Then, Me Now’ by Nick Alexander
  • ‘A Pinch of Magic’ by Michelle Harrison
  • ‘The Kindness of Strangers’ edited by Fearghal O’Nuallain

AUTUMN

  • ‘Simple’ by Anita Dawes
  • ‘Dear Mrs Bird’ by A J Pearce
  • ‘The Bottle of Tears’ by Nick Alexander
  • ‘If I Die Before I Wake’ by Emily Koch
  • ‘The Thing About Clare’ by Imogen Clark
  • ‘About Grace’ by Anthony Doerr
  • ‘Breakfast at The Hotel Deja Vu’ by Paul Today
  • ‘The Date’ by Louise Jensen
  • ‘The Day We Met’ by Roxie Cooper
  • ‘Lab Girl’ by Hope Jahren
  • ‘Blue Sky July’ by Nia Wyn
  • ‘The Wall’ by Marlen Haushoffer (1960-1979)
  • ‘The Wildflowers’ by Harriet Evans
  • ‘My Heart is Boundless’ by Abigail May Alcott (1800-1899)
  • ‘Moving’ by Jenny Eclair
  • ‘A Contract of Honour’ by Roy McCarthy

WINTER

  • ‘The Clan of the Cave Bear’ by Jean M. Auel (Pre-1300)
  • ‘Oh Baubles’ by Harmony Kent
  • ‘The Diary of a Bookseller’ by Shaun Bythell
  • ‘All My Puny Sorrows’ by Miriam Toews
  • ‘A Long Petal of the Sea’ by Isabel Allende
  • ‘Landmarks’ by Robert Macfarlane
  • ‘The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt’ by Andrea Bobotis
  • ‘What’s in a Name’ by Sally Cronin
  • ‘The Beekeeper of Aleppo’ by Christy Lefteri
  • ‘The Sorrows of Young Werther’ by Johann Wolfgang Van Goethe (1700-1799)
  • ‘The Last Letter of Istanbul’ by Lucy Foley
  • ‘Sea Prayer’ by Khaled Hosseini
  • ‘Testaments’ by Margaret Atwood (The Future)
  • ‘The Secret Barrister’ by The Secret Barrister
  • ‘The Seven Imperfect Rules of Elvira Carr’ by Frances Maynard
  • ‘Half a World Away’ by Mike Gayle

OSKAR’S QUEST #NewBook

It’s here! I am overjoyed to announce the release of my latest book!

UPDATE: NOW ALSO OUT ON KINDLE with optional pop-up text boxes … links are below.

Oskar is afraid of adventures. Yet one day he finds himself on a mysterious island which needs his help.

Join Oskar on this unexpected and magnificent quest, where he finds not only courage but so much more …

“It’s light, extremely enjoyable and very gripping.” Esther Chilton, author & editor

The first review is already in and thank you so much to Bette A. Stevens who read a pre-release copy of Oskar’s Quest.

“In this beautifully illustrated children’s book, author Annika Perry captures the importance of caring for others, overcoming fears and making new friends.

 Young children are sure to relate as a fearful Oskar steps out of his comfort zone and embarks on a perilous journey in an effort to save a beautiful songbird and return happiness to an island where he’s been stranded during a fierce storm.

I loved the author’s generous use of onomatopoeia to paint memorable word pictures for little readers and listeners. PLIP-PLOP, FLASH, BANG—the story’s excitement builds.

Delightful!” ~Bette A. Stevens, Maine author

Oskar’s Quest is suitable for children aged 3 – 6, although I would like to say there is no upper limit to enjoying any book!

To Purchase Oskar’s Quest:

PAPERBACK AMAZON UK

KINDLE AMAZON UK

PAPERBACK AMAZON US

KINDLE AMAZON US

Also available in:

PAPERBACK: CA DE  FR  ES  IT  JP 

KINDLE: CA AU IN DE FR ES IT JP NL MX

Format: Paperback & Kindle ebook

Book Size (Paperback): 210 x 210 mm (8 1/4” x 8 1/4”)

Publisher: Klippor Press

THE LITTLE BOOKS

One of my favourite outings as a young girl was just an hours drive from home.

Nestled in a valley on the West Yorkshire moors, Haworth is an idyllic village, always bustling with visitors. On the top of the Main Street, a misnomer for the rambling cobbled lane, was the house of our regular pilgrimage. The Parsonage was for over forty years the home to Patrick Brontë and his family and later turned into a museum.

In silenced awe, I wandered around the rooms in which they lived, worked, wrote. I gasped at the exhibits, incredible to believe these were their actual writings. The rooms used by the Brontë family are largely unchanged and filled with a collection of furniture, clothes and personal possessions. One display particularly held me in reverential hush … the little books! Absolutely tiny – each the size of a small matchbox! How could they fit so much in these!

One set was produced by Charlotte Brontë in 1830 for her toy soldiers and featured an imaginary world created by the family called Glass Town. Aged 14 she wrote six (all sequenced) of these little books called “The Young Men’s Magazine”. They all included stories and advertisements in Charlotte’s own hand. Today five are still in existence, of which until recently the Brontë Society held four. Earlier this week they acquired the fifth through fundraising for the price of £666,790:- (approx. $860,825:-)

Over 1,000 people pledged money to help buy the book, including the illustrious and gifted actress, Judi Dench. Born in York, she is president of the Brontë Society and she captures the inherent spirit of the books perfectly.

“These tiny manuscripts are like a magical doorway into the imaginary worlds they inhabited, and also hint at their ambition to become published authors.”

Now living in the South East of England my journey to the Brontë Parsonage will take over five hours, yet this is a visit I look forward to making next year. Once there I imagine the young me and present me reunited as we stand in awed respect, admiring all five of the little books, in wonder at these young minds and hearts set on writing!

Note: All photos from Google.

Introducing Oskar!

It’s a scenario many of us have experienced in our lives.

A young child in bed, restless and not at all keen on this falling asleep lark! Being awake is so much more exciting!

Over a couple of years, when my son had difficulty letting go of his awake self, I started to make up stories to help him drift asleep.

One of these was Oskar’s Quest, which was created and developed over many weeks. It became a firm favourite at home.

As my boy grew up, oh, so quickly, the regular bedtime story of Oskar’s Quest was no longer requested nor required. Before I forgot any part of his adventures my mother advised me to write it all down. Who knew when it would be needed in the future; where it could lead?

Mothers are always right! Last year I revisited my children’s story and I was smitten once again. Anew I found myself captivated by Oskar and his Quest. Maybe others would feel the same, I wondered. I even dared to hope!

Yet, with many years of writing experience, I realised the story needed work. I set at redrafting and editing this lengthy tale to one more suitable for publication. Finally, with the aid of a talented illustrator, the book was ready!

I’m so thrilled and elated to present Oskar to you all and for you to have an opportunity to take part in his adventures. I will be posting much more about Oskar’s Quest, its cover, blurb and release date in the near future!

May Oskar soon make many new friends with children and adults alike, all keen to follow him on his exciting quest and in the process find a bit more of themselves.

YOUR BOOK BY DECREE

The British Library wants my book! It’s official! There again they want a copy of every newly published work; be it a book, manuscript or music score.

It was only recently I learned that this esteemed institution requires publishers, by law, to forward a copy of any new publications. Legal Deposit was established in 1662 and since 2013, it now includes digital as well as print publications. Publishers, which also means authors who self-publish, must send their book to the British Library.

The King’s Library

What exactly is Legal Deposit:

“The legal deposit libraries work together to ensure the long term preservation of UK publications, both in print and digital form. They are collected systematically. They ensure that publications are held securely and that they can be discovered and accessed by readers within the legal deposit libraries as well as being preserved for the use of future generations.”

With pride, I pop a copy of “The Storyteller Speaks” in the post to them. I imagine it joining the 170 million items there. These are stored on shelving stretching on 746 km over fourteen floors.

The present British Library at St. Pancreas was only completed towards the end of the last century and it’s a building of beauty and function.

Humanities Reading Room

It is home to eleven reading rooms including ones for Rare Books, Manuscripts and Maps! Amongst its collections are materials ranging from Magna Carta to Leonardo da Vinci’s Notebook, from today’s newspapers to websites. For those interested in music there are over seven million recordings from 19th-century wax cylinders recordings to CDs.

Furthermore, a separate building on a 44-acre site in Boston Spa in Yorkshire houses around 70% of the Library’s print collection which accounts for over 80 million items.

Legal deposit is not restricted to only the British Library in London. A further five national libraries can insist on copies being forwarded by the publishers to them. These are the National Libraries of Scotland, Wales and Trinity College Dublin, as well as Cambridge University Library and Bodleian Library, University of Oxford.

Have you heard of Legal Deposit before? Have you sent your book to the British Library? For readers not in the UK, I wonder if there is a similar requirement in your county? Can’t wait to find out more from you all!

BOOKS AHOY!

I never imagined the evening would end up with me making a paper boat. 

‘It’s quite easy,’ one of the organisers reassured, ‘just fold like this.’ 

With intense concentration I looked on, thinking the little boat was the perfect symbol for this year’s Essex Book Festival. The theme was ‘Uncharted Waters’, inspired in part by the 80th anniversary of Arthur Ransome’s ‘Secret Water’. 

Wow! How far I’ve travelled this March —to India and back as well as to the 19th Century! All whilst remaining firmly seated, listening eagerly to authors!

A L Kennedy (left) with Festival Director, Ros Green

In January I was lucky enough to be invited by my friend & children’s author Josie Dom to the media launch of the festival. I was thoroughly inspired by the event and speakers including the renowned patron of the festival A. L. Kennedy. A winner of many awards including the Costa Book, A. L. Kennedy had me spellbound with her talk. Afterwards I found myself standing next to her but was overcome with shyness and utterly speechless!

The figures for the book festival are staggering. In this, its 20th years of existence, it is the biggest in the country, with over 130 events at 45 venues. The variety of events is amazing with such innovative interactive experiences as The Human Library, numerous writing workshops for all ages, storytelling, poetry jukebox as well as a host of author talks/interviews.

I went to a number of author talks and will feature two of these here. Each one was unique, exhilarating and thoroughly enjoyable! My first impression was how well-attended these all were; filled to capacity with lots of engagement with questions and discussion. In a world where we worry the population is reading less and less, I found the active and informed participation by the audience a postive sign that the love of books is well and truly alive!

The first talk I attended was by Vaseem Khan and I was intrigued how an elephant fits into a crime story. The author of ‘Baby Ganesh Detective Agency’ books, Vaseem spoke eloquently and passionately about his own route to writing. Born near London and an avid cricketer, his work took him to India twenty years ago and it is here he started to write. 

It was with the creation of Inspector Copra that he found an agent and quickly a publisher. He weaves the wealth and poverty of modern India brilliantly into his novels, and in this knowledgeable talk I learnt a lot about the country from 3000 years ago to the 21st century. Vaseem was inspired by his father (who sadly had passed away just ten days earlier), who, when faced with difficult situations, said: ‘To change the narrative.’ Vaseem has done exactly that with this unusual series of books set in India, refusing to depict the Bollywood image nor the stereotype ‘happy slum dwellers’. It is hard to believe that these books are written early in the mornings before Vaseem starts his full-time job as a management consultant. A meticulous planner, Vaseem Khan sets aside three months for planning each novel before spending another four months to write it.

I was smitten by the talk and the books and although I didn’t have time to buy a book on the day I did download the first in the series entitled ‘The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra’. I’ve just finished reading this. It’s thoroughly immersive and captivating (and my heart was definitely with the elephant!). This book definitely deserves the accolade of being in the vein of the hugely successful (and loved by me) Alexander McCall Smith’s ‘No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency’ series.

Below is the blurb for ‘The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra’.

‘On the day he retires, Inspector Ashwin Chopra discovers that he has inherited an elephant: an unlikely gift that could not be more inconvenient. For Chopra has one last case to solve…

But as his murder investigation leads him across Mumbai – from its richest mansions to its murky underworld – he quickly discovers that a baby elephant may be exactly what an honest man needs. 

So begins the start of a quite unexpected partnership, and an utterly delightful new series.’

The next talk featured Bridget Collins, a full-time author who has already published seven YA fiction books. However, she decided to venture into unknown territory with her book ‘The Binding’ which quickly became a Sunday Times bestseller. At the time of writing, Bridget was unsure which market the book would suit; on completion her agent liked the book and advised her to rewrite it for the adult fiction market. The book winds the author’s interest in bookbinding with that of her work in the Samaritans and at its core is its exploration of memory. It sounds spellbinding and mesmerising!

Having trained as an actor at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Bridget Collins has a freerer approach to her books – with the main concept and theme in place she is amenable to being led by the characters or situations in her books.

The presentation of the book is stunning with its sumptuous paper cover, ex libris page, gold foil on the spine and hardback. This is a book that looks almost too beautiful to read. My signed copy has pride of place on my bookshelf and I can’t wait to read it.

Here is the blurb:

“Emmett Farmer is working in the fields when a letter arrives summoning him to begin an apprenticeship. He will work for a Bookbinder, a vocation that arouses fear, superstition and prejudice – but one neither he nor his parents can afford to refuse.

He will learn to hand-craft beautiful volumes, and within each he will capture something unique and extraordinary: a memory. If there’s something you want to forget, he can help. If there’s something you need to erase, he can assist. Your past will be stored safely in a book and you will never remember your secret, however terrible.

In a vault under his mentor’s workshop, row upon row of books – and memories – are meticulously stored and recorded.

Then one day Emmett makes an astonishing discovery: one of them has his name on it.”

Finally, as regards the origami boats, the Essex Book Festival has pledged 1,000 of these to charity for visitors to inscribe with their personal message of love and friendship … mine is still settled safely on my desk, waiting for the right moment to sail away, carrying its message afar!

As I am away on an Easter break at the moment I will not be able to reply or visit blogs as much as normally; please know I will catch up as soon as possible and always I look forward to discussions.

Dear Young Reader …

Imagine you’re writing to a reader in the future! To a new soul, yet to unravel the magic of books! What would you say to them? Would you share stories from your own life? Or inspire them with passionate prose or perhaps offer up playful poetic musings?

Just such a request was sent out to writers, scientists, artists, and other cultural trendsetters across the globe by Maria Popova. One hundred and twenty-one letters were received including ones from Mary Oliver, Jane Goodall, Neil Gaiman, from composers, philosophers to a 98-year-old Holocaust survivor.

Over eight years, together with her publisher friend Claudia Bedrick, they collated the letters, matching each of them with an illustrator, artist or graphic designer … bringing each letter individually and vividly to life!

I read about the creation ‘A Velocity of Being’ last year and ever since couldn’t wait to hold this treasure of a book in my hands. Although released in January, they had underestimated the demand and my book finally arrived last week.

With deep reverence I opened the box, with surgical skill (or so I liked to think) I cut gently through the tightly wrapped cellophane. I’m sure I heard a drum-roll as I opened the pages and started to read … my heart singing in harmony with the emotions and thoughts of the letters.

Here a just a few snippets:

“No matter where life takes you, you’re never alone with a book, which becomes a tutor, a wit, a mind-sharpener, a soul-mate, a performer, a sage, a verbal bouquet for a loved one.” Diana Ackerman

“Yesterday I swallowed a book. Opened it, read it voraciously, then gulped it down in a single sitting. … A book, and the universe within, is the touchstone for today, yesterday, and — wow, I can’t wait to find out what I read tomorrow.” Anthony Horowitz

“A writer can fit a whole world inside a book. … . Somewhere, is a book written just for you. It will fit your mind like a glove fits your hand. And it’s waiting. Go and look for it.” Neil Gaiman

SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST #NewRelease

It’s a delight to take part in Jacqui Murray’s Blog Hop for her latest novel, ‘Survival of the Fittest’!

Her previous books have taken us from the modern subterranean world of nuclear submarines and terrorism to an era over 1.8 million years ago at the very start of mankind’s development.

‘Survival of the Fittest’ is set 850,000 years ago and centres around five tribes with one leader as they face a treacherous journey across three continents in search of a new home.

As the blurb succinctly describes:

Chased by a ruthless and powerful enemy, Xhosa flees with her People, leaving behind a certain life in her African homeland to search for an unknown future. She leads her People on a grueling journey through unknown and dangerous lands but an escape path laid out years before by her father as a final desperate means to survival. She is joined by other homeless tribes–from Indonesia, China, South Africa, East Africa, and the Levant—all similarly forced by timeless events to find new lives. As they struggle to overcome treachery, lies, danger, tragedy, hidden secrets, and Nature herself, Xhosa must face the reality that this enemy doesn’t want her People’s land. He wants to destroy her.

As with all fiction writing, there is often an overlay of fact but with a book set so far back in time one wonders how much is artistic license, how much can be based on true fact? I put this question to Jacqui with regard to one angle in the book.

Survival of the Fittest hints at a spiritual side to man. Is that accurate?

Scientists have no idea when man’s spirituality started. Because 850,000 years ago (when Xhosa lived) is considered prehistory—before any sort of recorded record—there’s no way to tell. Survival of the Fittest offers one speculative theory of how that could have happened.

Finally, below is the beginning of ‘Survival of the Fittest’ and I as read the whole chapter kindly forwarded by Jacqui I found myself hooked! The story is thoroughly captivating and I was drawn immediately into Xhosa’s world, feeling her pain, fears, her strength! The writing is superb, taut, fast-paced whilst not rushed and the upcoming themes and plot lines are clearly outlined! Will you be as tempted by this extract as I was … a copy of the book is now on my kindle and I can’t wait to read it! Purchase links are below.

Her foot throbbed. Blood dripped from a deep gash in her leg. At some point, Xhosa had scraped her palms raw while sliding across gravel but didn’t remember when, nor did it matter. Arms pumping, heart thundering, she flew forward. When her breath went from pants to wheezing gasps, she lunged to a stop, hands pressed against her damp legs, waiting for her chest to stop heaving. She should rest but that was nothing but a passing thought, discarded as quickly as it arrived. Her mission was greater than exhaustion or pain or personal comfort.

She started again, sprinting as though chased, aching fingers wrapped around her spear. The bellows of the imaginary enemy—Big Heads this time—filled the air like an acrid stench. She flung her spear over her shoulder, aiming from memory. A thunk and it hit the tree, a stand-in for the enemy. With a growl, she pivoted to defend her People.

Which would never happen. Females weren’t warriors.

Feet spread, mouth set in a tight line, she launched her last spear, skewering an imaginary assailant, and was off again, feet light, her abundance of ebony hair streaming behind her like smoke. A scorpion crunched beneath her hardened foot. Something moved in the corner of her vision and she hurled a throwing stone, smiling as a hare toppled over. Nightshade called her reactions those of Leopard.

But that didn’t matter. Females didn’t become hunters either.

With a lurch, she gulped in the parched air. The lush green grass had long since given way to brittle stalks and desiccated scrub. Sun’s heat drove everything alive underground, underwater, or over the horizon. The males caught her attention across the field, each with a spear and warclub. Today’s hunt would be the last until the rain—and the herds—returned.

“Why haven’t they left?”

She kicked a rock and winced as pain shot through her foot. Head down, eyes shut against the memories. Even after all this time, the chilling screams still rang in her ears…

‘Survival of the Fittest’ is available at: Kindle US Kindle UK Kindle CA Kindle AU

Jacqui Murray can be found on the following social media:

Linkedin: http://linkedin.com/in/jacquimurray

Blog: worddreams.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/WordDreams

https://jacquimurray.net