#SoCS – Blue

On Thursday morning at 10am, Terence and I arrived home after a two week holiday in York and Scotland and then, exactly a week later, a 5 day work trip to Budapest in Hungary.

I was happy to see blue skies as rain seemed to have followed us from York to Scotland, back home and then to Budapest.

It has been a whirlwind month with all the travelling and a fair bit of work in between. Wednesday, particularly, was awkward as I was in the middle of a document that needed to be finalised. I had to put it on hold from 3pm on Wednesday until 10am on Thursday morning while we were in transit. When I arrived home on Thursday, our Wifi was not working so I struggled to connect to the office and all my social media sites. That made me feel blue. I hate being out of touch and not being able to work effectively.

Our Wifi cable has a break in it so the company can only come on Monday to repair it. We only discovered this late yesterday afternoon when the service provider came to see what was wrong. They couldn’t fit it as a different technician is required. We have purchased a temporary service for the weekend so life goes on.

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The Danube under a cloudy sky

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Shoes on the Danube in the rain

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The Danube and Pest from the Buda side of the river

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A beautiful statue in the rain in Budapest

You can join in the SoCS prompt here: https://lindaghill.com/2019/09/13/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-sept-14-19/

 

 

 

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#Bookreview – End of Day (A Hode’s Hill Novel) by Mae Clair

Book reviews

What Amazon says

Generations of Jillian Cley’s family have been tasked with a strange duty—tending the burial plot of Gabriel Vane, whose body was the first to be interred in the Hode’s Hill cemetery. Jillian faithfully continues the long-standing tradition—until one October night, Vane’s body is stolen from its resting place. Is it a Halloween prank? Or something more sinister?

As the descendants of those buried in the church yard begin to experience bizarre “accidents,” Jillian tries to uncover the cause. Deeply empathic, she does not make friends easily, or lightly. But to fend off the terror taking over her town, she must join forces with artist Dante DeLuca, whose sensitivity to the spirit world has been both a blessing and a curse. The two soon realize Jillian’s murky family history is entwined with a tragic legacy tracing back to the founding of Hode’s Hill. To set matters right, an ancient wrong must be avenged…or Jillian, Dante, and everyone in town will forever be at the mercy of a vengeful spirit.

My review

This is the second book in the Hode’s Hill series of books by Mae Clair. I read and thoroughly enjoyed the first book in the series so I had high expectations for this new book. These were certainly met in End of Day which I enjoyed even more than the first book.

End of Day is a fairly dark and compelling reading, told on two timelines separated by over two hundred years. Gabriel Vane is an orphan, who is becoming a successful farmer in his small community, through hard work and determination. He has fallen in love with his best friend, Jasper’s sister, Dinah, and is hoping to win her hand in marriage. In order to increase his chances of a successful outcome to his courtship of Dinah, he undertakes to seek out and kill a savage beast that is stalking their community and killing livestock. The beast has struck terror into the hearts of the villagers and people living in the surrounding area. Following Gabriel’s brave gesture, Jasper and another unmarried farmer in their community, Hiram, volunteer to accompany him on his quest.

In the present day, we are reintroduced to Jillian, a minor character from book one, who has strong empathetic abilities. Her sister, Maddy, shares her gift and, after witnessing the brutal murder of her husband, Boyd, has withdrawn from the world and is living in a care home as she is unable to look after herself. Boyd’s murdered has never been found and Jillian spends a great deal of time, visiting her sister in the hope that she will emerge from her catatonic state. I really liked the character of Jillian and enjoyed her portrayal as a strong woman who is able to overcome her own fears and take the steps necessary to prevent her home town and its inhabitants from succumbing to catastrophe. I also liked the role played by Jillian’s care dog, it is always nice to have a relationship between a human and a dog in a story.

Dante DeLuca also plays a much bigger role in this book than in book one. I wasn’t that keen on his character previously but grew very fond of him while reading End of Day. A lot more information about his father’s death and the last haunted years of his life comes out and it provides more background and texture to Dante’s character. His psychic abilities and experience with seances come to the fore once more. I enjoyed the development of Dante’s character and the subtle hints at a future romance between him and Jillian. Dante had a psychic experience as a young boy which ended with one of his best friends being killed in a car accident. This incident is inextricable tied to the turbulent set of circumstances that he, Jillian and his young nephew, Elliott, find themselves involved in.

End of Hill is exciting and fast paced with lots of mystery and mystic. The supernatural element is dark and frightening but these parts are written tastefully and are not unduly graphic. I recommend End of Day to lovers of supernatural and action paced stories with interesting and believable characters. You do not need to have read book one in order to enjoy book one, but it adds to your appreciation of the character development if you do.

Purchase End of Day (A Hode’s Hill Novel)

Guest author: Robbie Cheadle – The Roman Bath, York

I am over at Sue Vincent’s blog today with a post about the Roman Bath, York. What an amazing piece of history to visit. Do pop over and read about it and have a look around Sue’s lovely blog while you are there. If you are lucky, you will see a post from her dog, Ani …

The Roman Bath, York

In the city of York, beneath The Roman Bath Pub, are the remains of a caldarium, or steam bath, from the Roman city of Eboracum. This city was built by the 9th Legion Hispana in 71 AD and occupied by the Romans for nearly 350 years.

During our recent trip to York, we went to visit this fascinating historical site. The bath house complex was historically a favourite place for the Roman soldiers to socialise as well as a place to get clean. The complex was open from dawn to dusk and offered a health spa, food, drink and toilets with running water. There was also a gymnasium and it is speculated that there may have been a swimming pool. Various rooms offered different grades of heat from cold to very hot.

The caldarium was a hot and steamy room heated by a hypocaust or underfloor heating system using tunnels with hot air and heated by a furnace tended by slaves. We could see the remains of the pillars which supported the floor. In the caldarium, there would originally have been a plunge bath of hot water sunk into the floor.

The soldiers would have applied olive oil to their bodies to cleanse themselves and removed the excess using a tool called a strigil which was designed for removing dirt, perspiration and oil from the body.

Continue reading here: https://scvincent.com/2019/09/09/guest-author-robbie-cheadle-the-roman-bath-york/

September Speculative Fiction Prompt – I feel nothing

I kill her. It is easy enough. I use my brother’s cricket bat, bringing it right down on her head as hard as I can. I use both my hands in order to maximise the force of my blow. I’m not taking any chances that she might survive.

I watch her blue eyes, bulge and widen as she realises what is happening, then squeeze shut with pain and finally roll back into her head as she collapses. A fountain of blood sprays from the wound on her temple, splashing onto my tee-shirt and face. That is the worst part, the feel of that warm sticky liquid running down my face.

I raise the bat, dripping blood, and hit her again. This time the bat strikes her in the middle of her forehead. The skin splits open like a smashed tomato and gushes blood. It runs into her eyes, turning the sockets into dark pools. I look at her and I feel nothing for what I have done. She is dead, and it wasn’t difficult to kill her.

I know I have to get rid of the body and I’m prepared. I had hidden a spade and a change of clothes in my tree house the prior day. I retrieve the spade and walk a bit further into the wood. I had previously identified a good spot for the grave and I start digging. It is hard work. Sweat trickles down my face and splashes onto my bare forearms. It is slightly pinkish in colour.

Finally the hole is deep enough for the small body. I grab her feet, one in each hand, and drag her to the hole, tipping her into it like a bag of rubbish. I shovel earth over her white flesh and pale pink dress. Stripping off my blood stained tee-shirt, I chuck it into the hole. I stamp the earth down as I bury her so that as much as possible fits back into the hole, cradling her in its dark embrace.

I return the spade to my tree house and wend my way to the stream. Its water is cool and clear as I rinse the remaining dried blood from my face and arms. I even dunk my head and swirl my long, dark hair around to ensure any traces of blood are washed away. I squeeze my hair as dry as possible and slip on my fresh tee-shirt. It’s time to go home. I’ve got homework to do for school tomorrow.

This piece of fiction was written for Carol J Forrester’s September Speculative Fiction Prompt. You can join in here: https://caroljforrester.com/2019/09/01/september-speculative-fiction-prompt/

#Bookreview – The Long Walk by Stephen King (Richard Bachman)

Book reviews

What Amazon says

On the first day of May, 100 teenage boys meet for a race known as “The Long Walk.” If you break the rules, you get three warnings. If you exceed your limit, what happens is absolutely terrifying…

My review

I read this book [for the second time] with my eyes wide open as to its disturbing dystopian content. I have been reading Stephen King and Richard Bachman books since I was ten years old and I am well aware of the different writing intentions and outcomes between King writing as himself and King writing as Richard Bachman.

This book is exceedingly dark in a way the the King books cannot, in my view, ever match. The reason for this is that The Long Walk depicts a dystopian future world and circumstance that are horrifyingly possible.

The Long Walk is set in the not to distant future, in a world where the overpopulation and employment issues we are currently facing have not been addressed and there are [presumably] millions of young people who are facing uncertain futures in lowly paid and boringly competitive jobs. In order to distract the public from its largely miserable existence a national walking marathon has been introduced to amuse the masses. This annual walk, which is televised and attended by millions of spectators, involves a walk to the last man standing [i.e. the death] by 100 participating teenage boys. In much the same way as the Roman gladiators who entertained the crowds during the days of the Roman Empire, participants of the Long Walk are expected to die with the main difference in this being that the participant’s entering willingly and are young enough to effectively disbelieve in the reality of death.

The book centres around one main character, Ray, and his circle of acquaintances, which develop into deep friendships, over the course of the walk. The walk starts off with all of the boys believing in their own strength and abilities and filled with enthusiasm and tracks the breakdowns of their individual physical and mental health as the walk progresses. The disillusionment of early deaths due to unexpected complaints like charley horses, falls, nose bleeds and illness, are starkly and emotionally depicted as the reality of the proximity of death seeps into each boys mind.

I am most intrigued by dark psychological horrors and this book fits squarely into that category and I found the mental journey that Ray undertakes fascinating and chilling. The ending was appropriate although a bit unexpected for me. Possibly, deep in my mind, I still believe in happy endings and it is disturbing to discover that this is not always the case. If fact, in life, it is frequently not the case and that understanding hit me a bit like a club.

An excellent book which does not rely on the tools of supernatural mythology to make its point.

Purchase The Long Walk by Stephen King (Richard Bachman)

Guest author – Robbie Cheadle – Dick Turpin

I am over at Sue Vincent’s lovely blog with a post about Dick Turpin and how he ties in to my new supernatural novel, Through the Nethergate. Thank you, Sue, for having me over for a visit.

The myth of Dick Turpin

Fiction writer, Harrison Ainsworth, glamourised thief and highway man, Dick Turpin, in his 1834 novel, Rookwood. The novel is set in England in 1737 at a manor house called Rookwood Place and the plot revolves around the mysterious death of the owner, Piers Rookwood, and the subsequent rivalry for inheritance of the property between his two sons.

During the course of the story, Dick Turpin, a highway man, is introduced at the manor under the pseudonym Palmer. During his stay, Palmer makes a bet with one of the other house guests that he can capture Dick Turpin. He is eventually forced to escape upon his horse, Black Bess. The horse, although fast enough to stay ahead of all the other horses, eventually collapses and dies from the stress of the escape.

Continue reading here: https://scvincent.com/2019/09/02/guest-author-robbie-cheadle-dick-turpin/

NEVERGATE draft 1

#Writephoto – Frozen

Helen liked her job. The dark was deep and intense down in the sandstone caves beneath the city, but the temperature was always constant. During the long winter months, she would happily stay down in the near darkness for hours, away from the freezing cold conditions above ground. She was given a tallow candle so that she could see enough to do her work.

Climbing down to the wells she was expected to clean wasn’t difficult as there were hand and footholds cut into the smooth walls. She was a good climber and always had been. It was one of the reasons she was selected for this particular job. The water was cold but it never froze and Helen was able to scrub away any accumulations of dirt in and around the well using a cloth and ash.

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A picture of the foot and hand holds above the medieval wells in the City of Caves, Nottingham

In the distance she could see the gong man clearing out the cesspit. She was glad that she was far enough away not to smell the human excrement he were shoveling into buckets to be taken away and used as fertilizers by the farmers. It was a disgusting job and he had to leap down into the pit once its smelly contents were out of reach of his spade, and shovel it out from within the pit.

The water from the wells was owned by the wealthy individuals of the town, with the poorer people, like Helen’s family, having to get their drinking water from the river. Sometimes it froze over and they had to make a hole in the ice to get to the water or melt snow over a small flame. Fuel was scarce so obtaining water was the better option. The townspeople were careful not to pollute their drinking water and Helen thought it was funny that the drinking water in the wells was so near to a cesspit.

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A picture of one of the ancient wells in the City of Caves, Nottingham

This post was written for Sue Vincent’s weekly photo challenge here: https://scvincent.com/2019/08/29/thursday-photo-prompt-frozen-writephoto/