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Download your copy soon! Garden Grove is free on Kobo until the end of February 2016.  Download your copy today.

Includes bonus content: Old Mill Road (short story). Warning: this is only the beginning to the Old Mill Road story. There were too many questions down the old Mill Road to leave it here.

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-ca/ebook/garden-grove-2

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Garden Grove is supposed to be an idyllic new housing development in a cozy bedroom community just outside the city.

Someone is trying to stop the development. Vandalism and sabotage slow construction. The work crew is poisoned. And someone is messing with the blueprints. An old man plants human remains on the site.

Is the whole town trying to shut them down? What the hell is going on here? Some things should remain buried.

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GARDEN GROVE EXCERPT:

7 – Rusty Plowshare’s Scheme

“So, the skull wasn’t good enough, huh?!  Oh, I’ve got something better than that, much better,” Rusty Plowshare muttered bitterly.

The old man nodded to himself.  His chin, white with unshaven whisker stubble, caught and held a piece of loose straw in the stubble when he came away from the stacked bales of hay he was digging between.  The straw bales were sagging with rot and greyed with age, their fibres breaking down over the years they had sat idle.

He turned away, rummaging through one pile and then moving on to another.  Rusty moved with arthritic slowness, the skin on his thin arms sagging from age and loss of the underlying muscle mass of youth.  His face, leathery from decades of working in the sun and wrinkled with age, gave him a crazy old man in the mountains look instead of wizened with age.

He was in the old barn, its interior packed with an amazing amount of clutter of every description.  It is unbelievable the old man can even move around in there, much less search the place.  The old packrat collected anything.

There are cats everywhere too, cats of every age and description, some looking very unhealthy, all feral strays that had made this barn their home.

“Now, where’d I put it?” he muttered to himself.

It wasn’t in the narrow space of a double wall between two stalls.  He moved on to search somewhere else.

“Maybe behind the loose board in the wall?”  He pried the board off and looked.

“Ah, I know, under the floorboard!”  He moved and stooped over a floorboard, pulling it up to look beneath.  Most of the barn floor is an open dirt floor.  However, one end of the barn, for reasons known only to the old man and his predecessors, has a rough floor of old two by fours that are now soggy with rot.  One part of this section, in the dark shadowed recesses of the corner, hides a small makeshift cellar dug into the ground beneath the floor, the rest of it covering part of the dirt floor that makes up most of the barn floor.  This particular floorboard covered a gouged out section of dirt just deep enough to hold its small treasures wrapped in rotting cheesecloth.

But what he is looking for is not there.

“Damn!”

“I know it’s here somewhere,” Rusty grumbled.

Noticing the carelessly dumped loose soil marking the spot where the skull had been dug up from, the old man reminded himself, “Got to stamp that down some, won’t do to have anyone finding it.”

The old skull had been buried in the barn for a very long time.  Of course, the rest of the body was there too, along with the tool used to kill the man.

It’s very possible the man buried so many years ago in the dirt of the barn was old Rusty Plowshare’s great great grandfather.

He did not really know for sure.  There was more than one body buried beneath the old barn through the generations of his family that lived here.

His great great grandmother’s husband, the man whose family name he carried, did not really know for sure either when he bludgeoned the young man to death in a jealous rage in that year after the then young couple was married.

If the rumours spread that day so long ago by a group of busybody old women making trouble where they had no business putting their noses were true, rumours of the wife’s alleged infidelity and possibly questionable pregnancy, then those were the remains of his murdered great great grandfather.

Or, the young man may have been an innocent victim of a husband’s jealousy and a bunch of busybodies making trouble where there wasn’t any.

Only his great great grandmother knew the truth.

She was buried beneath the woodshed some years later, after failing to provide her husband with an offspring that was undeniably his in his mind.  She had given birth to more children after that first boy, but her husband could not let go of his suspicions.

There are many dark secrets in his family’s history, and Rusty Plowshare knows where each one of them was buried.

It also could have been someone else.  Rusty had heard stories passed down about his great great grandfather’s violent temper.

“Ahh, there you are!” he cooed.  “Beautiful.”  He pulled out a round wrapped bundle and held it up as if presenting it to the watching eyes of the dozens of felines witnessing his moment of triumph.

“I know just what to do with you.  If you don’t stop them from digging out those woods, nothing will,” he said.

“I know just what to do with you,” he repeated happily.

GARDEN GROVE EXCERPT:

19 – Observer

I see you old man, watching the workers again.

What kind of trouble are you up to now?

I know you hate me and my kind. You hate them too, the newcomers who have not been here for generations.

What is going through your mind old man?

You look like you are waiting for something.

Ah, it looks like they found something.  You look happy, downright giddy about it even.

Oh, what have you done?  Just what are those old bones you planted?

Ah, yes, the child.

I know the child.

I know the child well.

What is your trick old man?

What are you trying to do, planting those old bones?  The child?

OLD MILL ROAD EXCERPT:

The four kids stood around looking down at it.

     “I don’t think we should tell anyone,” David said.  He was the oldest of the group, a virtual adult at ten.

     “We have to,” his brother Ian insisted.

     “They’ll think we did it,” he warned.  “We could go to jail.”

     The third boy, Nick, youngest of the children, whimpered.  He didn’t want to go to jail.  That was where they put bad people like Uncle Harvey.  Uncle Harvey scared him, a lot.  He didn’t want to go live in jail with Uncle Harvey.  He started to bawl.

     Felicia just stood there next to her little brother Nick, her face ashen, shivering although it was quite warm and sticky with the humidity left by the waning hot day.

     The sky grew darker, the sun lowering on the horizon, as they stood there mutely staring like worshipers at a grisly shrine.  Finally, they nodded their wordless agreement, turned, and melted into the fast darkening woods, looking more like specters than living children.  This would be their secret.

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Paladin Book 1 The Evil Within the Woods.jpgBefore I get into the review, I received a free copy of this book from the author to review.  That said, this is an unbiased review.  I only review books I have actually read, and only give an honest review.

 

If you read Fitzgerald’s other book UnAlive and are expecting a similar read, you will be disappointed.  Kevin Fitzgerald’s UnAlive is a zombie apocalypse adult genre.  Paladin is a middle year’s animal tale gentle thriller.

 

Similar to stories like Watership Down and the Secret of NIHM, Paladin is written from the point of view of the animal characters, specifically the rabbit whose story is central to the plot.  Unlike the other stories, however, the human characters of Paladin are active characters in the story, rather than being some vague aspect of the animals’ world.  This adds a depth to the story in that you are bound not just by the fate of the rabbit, but also the fates of the people who saved him.

 

Paladin starts with the rabbits of the “warenne” sensing a coming change and danger.  I won’t give away what happens, but a catastrophe does happen, bringing the story from the introduction of the wild rabbits to the meat of the story.  This, the first book of the Paladin series, is Paladin’s story, a young rabbit of the “warenne”.

 

Paladin finds himself a home with a boy, Joshua, and his father, Theo.  Their pleasant life does not stay that way for long.  Theo’s onetime employee, Lou Lyons, has other plans for Theo’s business, and a self-invented grudge to avenge, putting Paladin in the center of his revenge.

 

Paladin is a children’s story.  I would place it around middle year’s grades.  The drama surrounding Paladin will appeal to kids who still like stories about animals, but this story is more than about an animal with a human-like sentience.  You are also drawn into the lives of the human characters, whose own drama Paladin is the center of.  In the end, you are left waiting for book two to find out what comes next as Paladin is thrown into the next chapter of his adventure.

 

Paladin Book 1: The Evil Within the Woods by Kevin J. Fitzgerald is self-published and is available on Amazon.

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