Rave Reviews Book Club “Springtime Book and Block Party!

RRBC Badges (2)

 

Welcome to my blog on this wonderful Rave Reviews Book Club ‘Springtime’ Book and Blog Block party tour! Coming to you today from my latest location; the beautiful rural township of Bathurst, in New South Wales: Australia.

BLOG IMAGES FOR CITY GIRL

Please leave a comment below today, April 21st, to be entered in the drawing to win one of these prizes!

1 (Ebook copy) of “Empty Chairs” (Standing Tall and Fighting Back) Book 1. #Memoir

1 (Ebook copy) of “Faint Echoes Of Laughter” (Standing Tall and Fighting Back) Book 2. #Memoir

1 (Ebook copy) of “Acts Beyond Redemption” (Unintended Consequences) Book 1 #Thriller #Suspense.

1 (Ebook copy) of “Acts Of Betrayal” (Unintended Consequences) Book 2. #Thriller #Suspense.

Total Prizes I’m gifting today = 4.

I do love a party! So, let’s have some party-time fun! I know just the woman to add a little ‘spice’ to the proceedings.  Meet Sheila Harrington one of the pivotal characters in my Thriller Suspense Novels “Acts Beyond Redemption” and “Acts Of Betrayal”

Lets’ dress my little monster for the party … and we’ll make it formal, shall we?

Sheila ballgown by Michael costello

 

Ah, yes of course, we need a stunning location. What better setting than this  ballroom?  The occasion? The highly publicized Charity event of the season …The ‘Governors’ Black and White Ball’. Thrown with his accustomed panache by New York Governor (And Presidential Candidate) Damon Henderson. Sheila Harrington is as always his date.

Blog Black and White Ball 2

Sheila is tall for a woman, and the elegant Jimmi Choo shoes boost her height to just over six feet. She is both beautiful … and deadly. She adds more than just a mans’ heart to her little bag of collectables … she evicerates his spirit, and destroys his soul without hesitation, or remorse.

Love her or loathe her? Now that is the question. Whatever the decision, you may not forget her in a hurry.

Now relax,  kick your shoes off, and listen in to an (imaginary) conversation between the beautiful Sheila and her unseen ‘guest’… Let me see, what shall we name him? Ah, yes … Mr D Evil, will do nicely.

***

“You look bored, Mon bebe.” The voice was husky, inviting, deeply-timbered. Sheila shivered delightedly, then smiled.

” To what do I owe the pleasure of your company?” She whispered.

“I grew bored, and there are brief moments when you actually manage to entertain me, Mon bébé. I’m loving the dress. Black becomes you.”

“Yes … it does.”

“Have you chosen your plaything for this evening as yet?”

Plaything? An interesting choice of word. That implies that I would gain some sort of pleasure from any interaction I pursue.”

“Do you not?”

“Only the fleeting recognition that any predator enjoys. It’s all in the game. Pleasure in and of itself is not something I actively seek.”

“Only because you have yet to experience it, Mon bebe. You have had ample time to select.  Does nothing here interest you?”

Sheila  surveyed the glittering, brittle, breakable, crowd, before answering. “There may be one that could conceivably brighten up my evening for a brief while.”

Her companion followed her gaze, “The overdressed woman with the irritatingly piercing voice, now holding court with your date?”

Sheila laughed, well aware that heads would turn, drawn by the infectious warmth of the sound. “Too easy! Clarissa Mainwearing was born ugly, and no matter what amount of her ‘old’ money she throws at it, or how distinguished her pedigree; that type of ugly just won’t go away. My beauty would make her a lap dog inside ten-minutes. Besides, Damon is undeniably mine to control.” She sighed,  “So … no. Guess again.”

Her companion settled back, smiling contentedly to himself.

“I could of course force you to choose the one I desire.”

“That would rob you of surprise.”

 He favored her with his cold smile, “Who then?”

Sheila again surveyed the room. Then having made her decision, and without needing to point, she began, “Tall, well defined muscles, even the Armani threads can’t disguise the fact that he has a wonderful body. He has the confidence to wear his hair long and in a ponytail. He has not had his back to a door or window all evening. His stance is loose, and non-threatening. He surveys the crowd without making eye contact, or conversing with anyone. He is trained. How well trained remains to be seen.”

“Hm … interesting choice. I’m pleased. How will you proceed?”

“I’ll dismantle his detachment.”

Her unseen companion surveyed the subject of the discussion again, more slowly. “I don’t believe you can do it as easily as you may think, ma petite.”

“Is that the sound of a gauntlet hitting the floor?”

“Consider it so.”

“Wonderful! Watch me.”

“Always.”

Sheila missed the comment, already walking slowly across the crowded room, and as always parting the crowd in her wake. The women not graced with beauty of their own gazed at her retreating back with envy, the men, with unbridled lust.

She approached, glancing at the handsome, disinterested face; then shuddered briefly as his gaze met her own. She stood next to him now, still silent, sipping her cocktail and observing the room. She waited for longer than most would find comfortable, before, finally, he spoke.

“Is there something you require?”

She slid her eyes slowly over his body; it was more the studied look of an artist recognizing a fine piece of artwork, than a simple flicker of flirtation, “Require? That’s doubtful. Perhaps I’m simply curious as to what type of gun is tucked into your waist band?”

His reaction pleased her, for only the momentary dilation of his pupils gave any indication that her remark had even been heard.

“Probably the same type you are carrying in your clutch-purse, Miss Harrington.” He smiled, gave a brief dismissive nod and turning his back on her, he walked away.

Sheila smiled, and her blue eyes flashed fire. ‘Touche.’

Mr D Evil smiled at the exchange. ‘You have now entered the eye of the cyclone, mes enfants. Now … do you enjoy … or destroy? The evening ahead took on a new color … and the color was red. ‘Game on.’  He was well pleased.

***

Now that was fun. Sheila Harrington is a complex woman. This little interaction barely touches on that complexity. But I sure hope that you enjoyed it.

Acts Beyond Redemption (Unintended Consequences Book 1)

ABR MADE BY SATAN new for JANUARY 2017 HIRED ASSASSIN

BLURB

Acts Beyond Redemption takes you on a twisted, deadly, journey.

Mike Matheson is head of a Special Task Force set up by the F.B.I to track down and apprehend the serial killers responsible for 18 brutal murders.

His team are exhausted, frustrated, and ready to burn out after almost five years and no leads.
Their nightmares are stripping them to the bone.

Finally, a break in the case hands them a suspect!

Sheila Harrington appears to have confessed to the horrific murders.

Sheila Harrington also looks set to become the wife of The Governor of New York, Damon Henderson; the man strongly favored to become the next President of The United States of America.

Eminent forensic psychologist Nigel Cantrell is called in to assist the team.

Yet nothing and no one could prepare them for what is to come.
Someone on the inside is deflecting their weary eyes away from an incomprehensible and shattering truth.

Who will be buried in the shattered remains of a country where freedom and honor are treasured above all things?

Just how far will those elected to protect and defend go, to keep the American dream alive?

Purchase ‘Acts Beyond Redemption’ on Amazon.com

 

Acts of Betrayal (Unintended Consequences Book 2)

 

ACTS OF BETRAYAL HENRY KISSINGER

BLURB

In this powerful sequel to Acts Beyond Redemption Nigel Cantrell is back, and he’s out for blood.

One of his team holds on precariously to life, with no guarantees of recovery.

Can those responsible drag him into a nightmare he will struggle to contain?

In a complex dual where oaths taken are forsaken, and promises made are broken beyond repair; he must seek the help of the only people he can trust, people who revere him … and, those that despise him.

Cantrell is efficient and deadly, but even he has ghosts in his past, demons that must be exorcised. And nothing is more demonic than the peril he must now face, as a one man’s maniacal thirst for revenge is uncovered.
A man so enormously powerful, with a hatred so intense, so extreme, that the possible demise of his own species means nothing to him.

He will dispense his revenge as his diseased mind sees fit.

Nigel Cantrell and his team do not have failure as an option.
The fate of their country and beyond now rests in their hands.
Can they prevent the final acts of betrayal?

Purchase ‘Acts Of Betrayal’ on Amazon.com

My non-fiction books are available as follows.

“Empty Chairs” (Standing Tall and Fighting Back) Book 1.

Empty Chairs available on Amazon.com

“Faint Echoes of Laughter” (Standing Tall and Fighting Back) Book 2.

“Faint Echoes of Laughter” on Amazon.com

“Still Sassy at Sixty” (Standing Tall and Fighting Back) Book 3. DUE FOR RELEASE OCTOBER 2017.

A very quick personal note. I have been hospitalized this week and just wanted to say a big thank you to the lovely folks that have taken a moment of their precious time and sent me such kind wishes for a speedy recovery. It endorses everything I’ve said about Rave Reviews Book Club being a family. Don’t be concerned my friends, it is a known health issue that caused my trip to ICU. I’m home now and will be back to my cantankerous ol’ self in no time. Hugs to you all. Soooz xo

 Don’t forget to stop in and check out the other tour stops at https://ravereviewsbynonniejules.wordpress.com/rrbc-2017-springtime-book-blog-block-party/as the party goes on all month long!

Kangaroo they went thataway

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Glimpses Across The Barricades” A Poetry collection in progress. “Unspoken” by S.Burke.

Sword of Damocles

Glimpses Across The Barricades

Unspoken

By

Suzanne Burke.

I thought of you today

When I was least prepared.

I thought I heard you say

Those precious words we’d never shared.

We had no need for talk

When our souls were intertwined.

We shared sweet laughter as we walked

Deep kisses, drugged, like wine…

Distance seemed to matter not,

For time was ours to own.

I recalled … and then forgot

That love should never breathe alone.

The safe harbor of your arms,

Where I could finally, safely, sleep

Led me to believe … that this precious time

Was forever ours to keep.

When did those church bells cease ringing

And spring flowers cease to bloom

When did The Sword of Damocles

Hang waiting in the room.

All those words we’d heard before

Recalled and distrusted …  by their deeds.

We were so wise, we knew, we swore …

Even as we began to bleed.

If those hands of fate should bring you again

Dressed in your armor to my door

Then ‘my knight’ I’ll hold you

and whisper words, I should’ve said before.

‘ti amo’

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Glimpses Across The Barricades #Poetry Collection. “Canyon Of Dreams” by S. Burke.

Thanks so much for stopping by. This is a collection of poetry (Still a work in progress) I share with you poetry from my yesterdays, and hints of my tomorrows.

Canyon of dreams EAGLE

Canyon of Dreams.
My soul soars high on thermal winds
as I gaze enraptured at earth below.
I watch as the mother gently awakens
caressed by mist in dawn’s red glow.
Deep valleys of muted green, whisper secrets,
as softly, softly ends the night.
Leaf-laden branches like lover’s arms reach out
to hold and cherish the enfolding light.

As Autumn breezes chase through her canyons
swirling leaves of amber and gold come dancing
in a twirling tango they move entrancing
as falling through corridors of color
to settle soft on the moisture laden soil
that lay untouched below her patch-work canopy
where the air is sweet and cool,
Muted perfume of liquid amber and pine
with scent of velvet moss and peat combine.

Through endless stretch of bracken fern
on blankets of golden leaf and pine
the dappled glow of morning, at last begins to shine.
The light touches all that lay there, whilst close by
the diamond water sparkles, running wild and free
as in suicidal-dance they hurtle downward
as they have for all eternity. Over steep ledges
worn by time, the sound thunders as they fall
to create a bridal-veil of mist,
rebounding off the canyon wall.

Whilst high above on sandstone castles
The proud eagle surveys his domain
with hunter’s eyes and talons sharpened
He launches into Autumn skies.
His prey begins a fruitless journey
to escape his hunters grasp or die.
Sudden cries of hunter’s jubilation
mesh with screams of capitulation
Echo off steep walls as old as time.

In this paradise I am the uninvited
humbled to witness such perfection,
as yet untarnished by the hand of man.
This endures and will continue
long after frail bodies turn to dust.
If we can but respect her, she will remain,
to soothe our troubled minds.
We who ask her the riddles of all man’s seasons.
and discover there are no answers left to find.

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The Black Dog of Depression … Biting it back! In loving memory of Jamie. He deserves to be remembered.

April 1st 2017:

I have re-posted this to honor the memory of my dear friend ‘Jamie’. The anniversary of his passing is tomorrow. He finally gave up his struggle with life.  The pain is still raw, and all the ‘if only’s’ in this world add to that tally.  This post is confronting … because it needs to be.

depression 1

2016:

I find it hard to believe that 3 years have gone by since I wrote the post that follows.

Can it really have been that long?

Three years to the very day and hour. So much has happened in that time. Yet the same wonderful folks that offered me love and support back then are still in my life. How damned lucky I am.

If the reposting of this helps just one person understand the long term problems of living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) then it’s well worth the time.

Here is the original post …

I will update my current situation at its end.

The “Black Dog” of Depression! Biting it Back.

2013:

Fighting back … and biting the ‘Black Dog’ of depression on the Ass. Great title for a blog post. Too easy.

If only it were that simple.

Most of you who have given me the honor of following my life through my books have commented on my strength. I have looked at those comments again and again recently, and I wonder … where is she, that feisty female?

Where did it go, that ‘strength’? Have I lost it? Or was it not strength at all?

Was it more likely my pig-headed determination after all, and not that inner resilience that one can draw on in times of great distress?

You know me well enough by now to know, that rightly or wrongly I have always been my most devastating when threatened.

What the hell happened to that?

There would be no point in even attempting to write this blog entry if I hadn’t decided at the outset to be honest.

Honesty does not always bathe us in an aura of golden light. It can be, and at times must be, clinically cold. It is, and I must be hypercritical of self if the point of the article is to make any sense at all.

So … let’s take a walk together, you and I. Hold my hand, (for I need it) and I’ll guide you through the past five months of my crazy life, in the hope that when we reach today, not only you, but I, will have a greater understanding of depression … and…the self destructive behavior that perpetuates the cycles of darkness when they begin.

This is not a prettied up version of events.

I live in a small two-bedroom apartment with my daughter and 11 month old Grandson.

I have not walked out the door of the apartment for 18 weeks.

Where did the Summer go? When did the crisp green leaves of Summer change to the golden hues of Autumn and fall to the fast growing coldness of the ground beneath? When did the neighbor’s children stop playing ball in the parking lot, and shouting delighted cries of challenge from the pool in the warmth and never ending daylight of our Australian Summer? Where the hell did that time go? It’s lost to me now, I can’t recapture it or relive it, I can only mourn its passing.

When did my darling daughter’s face begin to carry that look of worry?

When did I cease to notice or even care that I hadn’t bathed or even brushed my hair in weeks? When did a few glasses of wine once a week or so become anesthesia to wash away my fear?

Blaming my deteriorating health would be convenient. And yes … my health is bad, very bad in fact. BUT … it has been heading this way for a very long time.

I had a choice to take preventative measures, not to cure, because it is not curable, but at the very least to have given me some sense of control over time spans and a measure of comfort. I refused to do so.

Am I weary of being on guard all the time?…Damned straight!

Am I weary of always being perceived as the tough woman that survived so much? Sure I am. But that is the person I chose to be.
I recognize the presence of fear again.

I have tasted the bitterness of it like bile in my mouth many times in my life.

Why now has it’s presence become so devastatingly present? Why at almost 60years of age am I like the small child I once was with no control of her life in a world gone mad?
Fear is a devastating task master, make no mistake. If you allow it the upper hand it will strip the flesh off your bones with no apologies. I am afraid to look in any mirror, for the ravages of time and ill health show me a face that should be serene … but is not.

I am afraid if the food in the cupboard runs down.

I am petrified if the bills mount up and I simply have to wait a week or two to begin clearing them.I am aware of the vulnerability of relying on a pension payable by a government that has no insight into what it feels like to be at their disposal.

I began to isolate.

Again.

I am comfortable in my isolation. That is the deadliness of it. I sit in the early hours of the morning, when my body craves sleep; I sit on the balcony, comforted by the darkness and the lack of necessity to communicate with neighbors who in the daylight hours may have looked up and smiled, or even raised a hand in friendly acknowledgement.

How dare they intrude. How dare they even notice me there? For surely if I sat still and unmoving I ceased to be visible to them … didn’t I?

Caring for my baby Grandson during the day is probably the only thing that gives me any semblance of normality. He demands as much love as I can give.
For my daughter and the little guy that love is and will remain unconditional, but how long can I expect her to watch me slowly self destructing? How long can she tolerate the worry?

My grandson and I spend our days laughing and interacting in play. I am not well enough to take him for walks in the park, or walks anywhere for that matter. Simply walking from my room to the kitchen robs me of breath. Physically I am simply unable to walk far at all. Convenient? Perhaps. Can that change? No. I can’t regain the loss of lung function. But I can and must regain the beginnings of life function.

Other events over the past six months have taken their toll.

Perhaps if everything had not come crashing down at once I would have dealt with it a little better.
Perhaps.
But everything did come at me at once and seemingly out of nowhere and all within a very short space of time.

A long term relationship that I treasured, ended. I hadn’t seen the signs, too caught up with everything else that needed my attention I guess. A poor excuse really, I could and should have seen the warning signs.

I didn’t.

Reason can’t substitute for feeling.

I now have a dear friend still, but no longer my lover.

It took me a while to recognize that the visits were less and less frequent, the phone calls that had once come every day just for the comfort of hearing my voice, suddenly became weekly, and then not at all.

Did I ever tell him that the only time I ever felt truly safe were those times in his arms? The times when I would simply lay there, listening to his breathing and know with absolute certainty that I could fall asleep, safe in the knowledge that he would awaken instantly if I moved. Safe in the knowledge that he would give his own life to protect me if I were under threat.

I miss him.
I shall always miss him.

My writing? What have I written in the past 10 months? Hah! I finished a work of fiction that had been hanging in the back roads of my consciousness for a long time. But it was only one chapter that needed doing.

I wrote 65,000 words of another piece that for reasons that don’t really matter a damn anymore have been relegated to the trash heap. Apart from that… zilch!

Until today.

I need to get this down, I need those of you that have suffered from depression to understand that whilst it is a lonely street you walk…many of us share that same welcome darkness.

Will I come out the other side of this hideous fog? Only time will tell.  Being here cloaked in the darkness of thought, feels safer than coming out of the damned fog and needing to deal with basic day to day necessities, I don’t want to shower for I would then need to look at my body and accept the deterioration.  Even recognizing intellectually what is happening  gives no guarantee that I can act on that recognition and do something about it.

Counseling … thanks but no thanks. It works wonderfully well for many many people and I am thankful for that. It just isn’t for me. I just don’t trust folks enough to go that road again.

I haven’t written a blog piece in six months. Today that stops. I realize that the only way back from the darkness is for me to switch on my inner pilot.
Consider it switched on.

Comment and kick me in the ass if you choose. This is going to take quite some time my friends. The damage runs deep. Hold me in your thoughts, comment as and how you will.

Soooz ain’t dead yet! She just smells that way.

Thanks for reading.

Now an update …

Today is June 29th 2016. I am still here! Color me amazed.

sunrise

I guess I always seem to find some muddle headed way of bouncing back. I think it likely that I am just too pig-headed and stubborn not to.

So where am I at now, where is my life as I sit  in my small office writing this?

I have restructured my life piece by piece in the last few years. I have taken the precious moments and lovingly moved them to the safe place in my mind, and there they remain unsullied by the external world.

I have rejoiced with my child and my grandson.  I have laughed more than I remember doing for such a long time.

I still isolate but not for as long or as often … baby steps.

I pulled my head out of my ass and re-published my books as an indie author after the publishing house that carried my books closed its doors.

I now use a wheelchair and it affords me the opportunity to get out into the daylight and suck in the air, with my loving daughter steering me determinedly from behind.

I have written two new books and have three more in progress.

All positive things.

I dragged myself back from the alcoholic haze and have been dry (Again) for over two years.

I have ceased to have contact with those that would relegate me to the easily dismissed pile in their lives.

I have lost two dear friends to suicide.

I have allowed myself to cry and to mourn.

I consider myself fortunate to have friends who stand by me.

For now … for today … I am happy.

If you know someone that suffers depression, if you suffer it yourself, reach out to those that can inform and assist you and hold true the belief that you are a human being worthy of being loved and respected.

April 1st 2017.

Thank you for making the time to read this post. Jamie deserves to be remembered,

Here are links that may assist you when the darkness threatens…

Beyond Blue Australia. Information and help

Depression Alliance U.K

Anxiety and Depression Assistance America

Thank you for being here.

Book Review: ‘How Can You Mend This Purple Heart.” by Terry Gould.

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: “How Can You Mend This Purple Heart?” By Author TERRY GOULD. T.L Gould.

 

book-cover-how-can-i-mend-this-broken-heart-terry-gould

Winner of the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation’s James Webb Award for distinguished fiction

In this riveting first novel, author T. L. Gould draws on his experiences in a military hospital with severely wounded Marines recovering from the Vietnam War. He has created a plain-truth, no-holds-barred narrative, stark in its simplicity, detail, and humor. From dressing changes and morphine drips to off-site forays under a fence and into neighborhood bars and brothels, Gould chronicles the precipitous journey to recovery of the men of Ward 2B: how they learned to walk again, to love again, and to triumph over crippling injuries.

How Can You Mend This Purple Heart is not a story about combat in the jungles of Vietnam. It is a story about boys who returned from combat as men—men who left the better part of their youth, a bit of their souls, and a lot of their flesh in a battlefield on the other side of the world. It’s a story about their longing to recapture the spirit of boyhood and rekindle the optimism and fearlessness of youth. And it’s about their struggle to be whole again—or at the very least, to feel whole. It chronicles a journey of love, redemption, sorrow, and joy; a journey of pain and anger . . . and a journey of hope. But most of all, a journey of the human spirit and its triumph over the most impossible odds.

How Can You Mend This Purple Heart is a tribute to all the combat-wounded veterans of past and present conflicts. May they find the strength to continue their lives’ missions and know that the entire nation is grateful for their sacrifices.

 

The human spirit standing tall.
This 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 Review is from: How Can You Mend This Purple Heart? (Paperback)
I am privileged to own a copy of this book. Privileged indeed. Bookshelves hold the things we treasure; those books that linger in our memory and raise a smile, or cause our throats to constrict with unshed tears, our chests to tighten in helpless anger.

‘How Can You Mend This Purple Heart” does all of those things and more.

Do not read this book if you are looking for bloody scenes of war, they exist, but they exist in the memory of the men who returned from that war torn apart from planted mines.

They exist in the screams of night terror that echo through a hospital ward filled with men who survived the blasts, but not intact. They exist in the agony of knowing that for these men, life can never ever be the same again.

Do not read this book if you are looking for an easy read of mate-ship. It exists, but in the way of all things cruel and true, the mate-ship grows from shared terror, loss of limbs and shredding of innocence. Once the trust is established it can never be rent apart again.

Do not read this book anticipating only sadness; oh yes …  It exists, but in the way of the gallant and often surprising ways men reach out with unspoken need it is tempered with humor.

I laughed often during this journey of a book. I cried as well. but mostly I closed the final page with a feeling of kinship with the broken men who refused to just lay down and die. I closed it still angry about a war that they should never have had to fight.

I closed it with a smile at their kinship: and with hope for their futures.

I closed it with reluctance.

I recommend it with a certainty that the human spirit shines strong within those that have seen the worst man has to offer. I recommend it with a heartfelt hope, that their  indomitable  spirit will help prepare those whose innocence remains intact.book-cover-how-can-i-mend-this-broken-heart-terry-gould

Book Review: ‘Trafficking’ (Powell Book 1.) By Bill Ward.

Hello! Thank for stopping by. I always like to share a little about the author when I review one of their books.

Meet Author Bill Ward.

bill-ward-bio

Bill’s love of reading commenced at a very young age. He credits his Gran for encouraging his interest by regularly taking him to the local library after primary school. At boarding school, when the lights went out in his dormitory, he was often encouraged by the other boys to tell stories. English Literature was always his favourite school subject.

A long and successful career in IT saw him live and travel all over the world. With hindsight it was the start of his writing fiction but they were called business proposals in those days!

Having always enjoyed different cultures, the one life lesson Bill has learned is “wherever you go you will find good and bad people. This is not determined by colour, race, religion or country.”

Recently retired from the corporate world, Bill has finally fulfilled his lifelong ambition to become an author and has now written two thrillers, with the expectation of many more to follow.

Bill lives in Brighton, UK with his German partner and has seven daughters, a son, two horses, a dog and two cats! When he’s not writing he’s probably watching his football team West Brom, who he has now been watching for over fifty years!

book-cover-trafficking-by-bill-ward

Trafficking is big business and those involved show no remorse, have no mercy, only a deadly intent to protect their income.
Afina is a young Romanian girl with high expectations when she arrives in Brighton but she has been tricked and there is no job, only a life as a sex slave.

Facing a desperate future, Afina tries to escape and a young female police officer, who comes to her aid, is stabbed.

Powell’s life has been torn apart for the second time and he is determined to find the man responsible for his daughter’s death.

Action, violence and sex abound in this taut thriller about one of today’s worst crimes.

My review 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟An uncompromising, fast paced explosion of a book!

Lets be clear from the outset, this book deals with Human Trafficking; with all its inherent violence, degradation and shattering  control over freedom, using fear and pain to reach those objectives.

It is not a comfortable topic, but the Author doesn’t try and pretty it up for generic consumption, he tackles it head on with great empathy, revealing the utter degradation that keeps these girls silent, dis-empowered, and often forgotten.

The characters aren’t so much written, as they are etched, with a light touch, this author has beautifully drawn each of the central figures, with layer after layer of pain and anger  simmering as an intensely volatile brew just beneath the surface.

Author Bill Ward gives us Afina, he shows us her fragility, her desperation, her fear, yet her grants her a defiant will, lest we become too complacent and write her off to the dirt of the lifestyle she was forced into.

This author makes us care about his characters including their imperfections.

Powell is a man driven by revenge. His daughter is dead, he seeks retribution, whatever it takes to achieve it.

His child died whilst attempting to save Afina. He wants Afina protected to make his child’s death count for something.

We understand the demons that drive him.

The author weaves his web carefully, constructing its threads and leading us forward, in this relentlessly fast-paced explosion of a book.

If you enjoy uncompromising thrillers, this book is for you.

As for me … I’m off to grab book 2.

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A miracle I want to share. Christmas Morning 1966. 2:00 A.M.

 I want to share something very special with you. faint-echoes-christmas-miracle

CHRISTMAS MORNING 1966: 2:00 AM.

The Christmas season is the harshest of all when you live on the streets.

On ANY streets … In ANY town.

A miracle happened in our small dark world that hot and steamy Christmas morning all those long years ago.

It was not a ‘miracle’ of biblical proportions, yet for us, it was a miracle that we would hold in our memories forever, to be taken out and looked at whenever life grew harsher.

I have taken the chapter from my memoir, and I am sharing it with you here.

I hope that it makes you nod in understanding.

I am smiling through my tears as I remember…..

 “Faint Echoes of Laughter” Book 2 of the “Standing Tall & Fighting Back.” Series. Non-Fiction. Memoir.

Chapter 7

Christmas was barely a week or so away, and the mood wasn’t good.

Christmas out here meant different things to each of us I guess.

My memories of Christmas’s past were all bad. Even last year when I’d been on the streets alone for barely a month had bad stuff attached to it, yet it hadn’t been nearly as bad as the ones I had lived with back in the home I called ‘hell central’.

I asked Baby Jenny to come for a walk with me down to see Big Mike. I wanted to ask him if he could scrounge up some left over decorations to put up in the ‘palace’ to lighten the mood up a little.

He gave me a thoughtful nod, and said he’d “see what he could do.”

He spoke to Jenny…”I swear you get prettier every day, Jenny. Don’t let Sassy here teach you any bad habits.”

Jenny grinned at him too shy to respond.

I kept my mouth shut except for a “Gee thanks … Big Mike”

He smiled and wandered off, and we headed back up to the palace. We spent a lot of time outdoors during the heat of the summer. The cooler breezes from the water were good. The heat inside our metal home was dreadful.

When a week had passed and we hadn’t seen Big Mike we figured that he had forgotten. It was disappointing; but he didn’t owe us anything; and after all he had helped us out with Momma and other stuff like wood for the fire in winter, so we didn’t really expect the decorations, we just hoped for them.

Jenny was extra quiet. I wondered if she would ever be able to talk about why she was here. I didn’t ask her. I hadn’t discussed my background with any of them, even Jamie. So I understood that it was not open for general discussion.

Christmas Eve dawned fiery red. It was going to be a very, very, hot day according to the radio forecasts, with a cool southerly change expected later in the evening.

We all headed up to Hyde Park very early and took a Christmas bath in our favorite fountain. At least the palace wouldn’t stink quite so badly for Christmas day.

It was tempting to just jump in the ocean so close to the Palace, but Big Mike had warned us all about the sharks, so we didn’t dare.

Sydney Harbor wasn’t the safest place to swim. We planned on heading down to the Botanical Gardens for a swim in the lake that evening. We figured there wouldn’t be many people around because it was Christmas Eve.

The sky began to look dark and threatening early in the afternoon. The southerly buster was heading up the coast rapidly. We were all unusually quiet and sitting around outside in the shade of the container when we heard the sound of vehicles heading toward the Palace.

We headed around the front to see who had arrived and watched in stunned amazement as Big Mike and two of the other guys whose names I can’t recall, began unloading boxes of stuff from their cars and placing it in the shaded opening of our tin home.

Big Mike looked uncomfortable; if possible, he was even gruffer than usual. “You lot need feeding up, so we brought you some stuff.”

We were all too stunned to say much at all, these hard men were all smiling and a little red faced. I swear if they could have, that they would have scuffed their shoes in the dirt like little kids with embarrassment.

Big Mike shook Jamie’s hand and accepted the ‘thank you’ from him.

I was speechless which wasn’t a common occurrence, I just grinned like mad and gave the guys a hurried “Thanks.”

They were the unlikeliest Angels you would ever see, sweaty and dirty after a long hot day’s work, the sight of them unloading the Christmas goodies and punching one another in the arm in a gesture common amongst males remains etched starkly in my memory.

Big Mike reached into the front seat of his car, and pulled out a parcel that was wrapped up in Christmas paper, with bright ribbons attached. He walked over and handed it to Baby Jenny.

She looked confused and wasn’t sure what to do with it.

“The women picked this out for ya, little one.” Big Mike said.

Jenny still wasn’t sure what to do.

“Go ahead and open it, Jenny.” Jamie said.

“Um, later. Later. Okay?” she replied looking very unsure of herself.

She looked at the men, and gave them one of her sweet smiles, “Don’t matter what it is. I never had a present before, so…Um…Yeah, thanks, thanks a lot.”

The men seemed to understand that she needed to be alone when she opened it.

As for the rest of us, we tore into those presents and boxes like there was no tomorrow…squealing in delighted surprise with everything we found.

There was more food than any of us had ever seen.

Tinned Hams, fresh pineapples, cherries and plums. Cooked Turkey and Cranberry sauce …with all the trimmings. Fifteen red t-shirts all large sizes. Paper plates, and plastic knives and forks, a can-opener. A Cooler packed with ice, a radio and spare batteries. A big crate of beer and bottles of Coke.

That night, we all huddled around the new radio; it was bigger and put out a better sound than the small transistor we had been using, we sat drinking the beer and singing our version of Christmas carols, none of them repeatable. Trust me.

Jenny sat on her sleeping place; she was a little tipsy as well having been allowed one-half of a small bottle of beer. We glanced at her as she picked up her present and watched the look on her face as she unwrapped it.

It was a baby doll, all soft and dressed in bonnet and booties with a pretty pink knitted dress. “Just what we needed, another fuckin’ mouth to feed.” she said…but the smile on her face could have lit up the entire city.

We were fed, content, and a little overwhelmed and unsure at the kindness of these people.

Typically, we questioned the motive behind it. We all wanted to believe that maybe, just maybe, they had done it for no motive other than the wish to make this Christmas a good place for us to be. It was an alien experience but a welcome one.

We had only sampled a little of the huge amount of food, deciding to save the rest for Christmas Day

That night we were all tipsy. Strangely quiet as we bedded down for the night. I think we were all a little overwhelmed by the generosity of these men.

It was around 2.00 am Christmas morning I guess when I felt something was wrong. Whatever the something was, it wouldn’t let me sleep. I couldn’t place it immediately. It was a strange sense of something missing, and it troubled me.

Jamie was on watch; I climbed over the others and hunkered down next to him. Jamie smiled at me and said, “You too hey, Sassy?”

“Yeah, I guess–what is it? Something’s different.”

We sat a while just listening. Then Jamie said, “Oh shit! It’s Jenny, she’s not crying!”

My heart was in my mouth. Jamie grabbed the torch and we played it across the others, several of them were already awake, and wondering what the hell was happening. Jenny had cried herself to sleep every night since she’d come to this place. It was a sound we all tried not to hear. She couldn’t be comforted, we weren’t permitted that close. She’d been here for two years now. Jenny was around eight-years-old.

Jenny lay on her side, sound asleep with both arms wrapped around that doll so tight there was no space between them.

That was the first time I had cried in a very, very, long time. I glanced at the others, without exception we were all affected the same way. No one wanted to look at anyone else, shit we were supposed to be the toughest kids on the block! Hell, we were the only kids on the block. That Christmas was the first real day of Jenny’s childhood. From then on, Christmas became Jenny’s birthday.

I’d like to tell you that a miraculous change came over her. That she was instantly transformed. In a make believe world she’d be outside singing all the hits from ‘The Sound of Music’ and wearing a pretty new dress and shoes.  But this is the real world, and the changes took place over time.

Jenny named her doll, Francine.

The greatest change of all; was that, from that night, for all the years that Baby Jenny remained in our world, she never cried herself to sleep again.

 ***

Many years have passed since that long ago Christmas Eve. My darling Jenny has gone.

So many of my Christmas Eves’ over time have been special ones. But the one I recall with tears of happiness on my face, and a smile in my heart … is this one.

Jenny lost her battle with life in September of 2008.

The doll Francine was buried with her.