#BookReview : Flying Solo by Zoe May #FlyingSolo #romcom @rararesources @zoe_writes

Hello Readers! I’m excited to share my review of Flying Solo by Zoe May as part of blog tour, organized by Rachel’s Random Resources. Many thanks to Rachel for tour invite and author for providing review copy.

Flying Solo by Zoe May
Publication Date :  6th July 2020
Genre : Romantic Comedy
Pages : 250

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Rachel Watson has it all worked out. By 30, she’s ticked off most of the goals on her Life List. She’s a homeowner, a partner at her law firm, she has a gorgeous boyfriend, lots of hobbies and loads of good friends. The only thing that’s missing is a ring on her finger.

According to her Life List, Rachel should be getting hitched around now, so when her boyfriend, Paul, plans a romantic date, Rachel’s pretty confident he’s going to propose. Except Paul has other ideas. He’s jetting off to India to find himself.

Distraught, Rachel doesn’t know what to do. Not one to easily admit defeat, she embarks on a mission to win him back.

Flying solo to India is definitely not on Rachel’s Life List, but could her trip teach her some unexpected lessons about love, life and herself? Could she realise that perhaps her Life List wasn’t exactly what she wanted, after all?

Other books I read by the same author:

Perfect Match

When Polly Met Olly

Flying Solo was delightful romantic comedy that revolved around Rachel’s unplanned trip to Indian ashram. It was about realizing life is better unplanned, finding yourself and true happiness, and finding love at unexpected places at unexpected time.

Writing, like previous books, was entertaining and fun with beautiful setting of Indian ashram in Bangalore. It was first person narrative from Rachel’s POV that made book refreshing and light-hearted.

It started with Rachel expecting to be proposed after 6 years of relationship with her boyfriend, Paul. She planned her whole life, checked all boxes of life list within time period she had set, but getting engaged and hitched. What she didn’t plan/expect was flying to other side of the world. Paul broke up with her on the night she expected him to propose her, packed his bag and gone to some random ashram in India. She couldn’t let go of this long time relationship, she thought this is Paul’s midlife crisis, she could change his mind and win him back. And so started her unplanned adventure in India. I was excited to find out what she would experience in India, how she would adjust to different life style of Ashram, could she win Paul back, what would she learn from this experience and how it would change her.

What I didn’t predict was Paul behavior when he saw Rachel at ashram, his new competitive girlfriend, and how attracted Rachel felt towards a handsome Canadian neighbor in ashram who vowed celibacy. But it all turned out really entertaining and dramatic.

All characters were fun to read. Rachel was lovely throughout the book. She was workaholic, home furnishing obsessed who had her Life List with timeline but she had reason for all that. Her childhood story was realistic and I could see why she was the way she was. At first I didn’t like how she was behaving, taking everything as joke and I couldn’t  believe how she didn’t talk about ashram with her Indian friend before on her way to airport, she had no idea what she was going to find there. But I liked how she tried everything in ashram even though she was skeptic, didn’t believe in meditation or spirituality and how she had her own opinion, kept open mind, and enjoyed her stay.

Her development was great. She got over her break up, made friends, found some shocking things about ashram, and found love. At heart she was nice and lovely and knew her elements, learned that life was better unplanned, keep hobby enjoyable rather than obsess over it, there is nothing wrong in being workaholic but it’s also important to enjoy life, go with the flow, step out of comfort zone, and experience knew thing.

Paul was total jerk. It was unbelievable how he suddenly decided to leave without discussing his decision with her like 6 years of relationship was nothing to him and then disrespecting it by latching on new girl and making Rachel feel bad about how she lived and what she did. Seb was cute. He was friendly and lovely guy and I liked his story. I loved Meera and Priya for how friendly they were and how they helped Rachel.

This is not just romance book, in fact there is very little romance and more about Rachel’s new experience and development. Both Rachel and Seb felt spark, supported each other, and spent time knowing other as best as they could, and we don’t know if there was happily ever after till the end, which I felt was good thing.

What I loved most was seeing India from non-Indian’s eyes. Some titbits about India were real and funny.  Rachel’s thoughts and experience after setting foot in India was hilarious. I laughed at her appalled look on seeing Indian toilet and her room in ashram, and most epic was what she packed in her suit case. Who brings dildo to ashram! Most hilarious scene was Spirit Animal Workshop.

I’m not a fan of Ashram but I liked how author added another layer to story by showing reality behind ashrmas and gurus. What Rachel found about it was not shocking for me as I know these things really happen in some ashrams. I agreed with what she thoughts, how crazily people follow scamming Gurus, throw their logics out of window and make it easy for such scammers to take advantage.

Climax was great with Rachel finding reality of Ashram, her new case, what happened to Paul, and lovely date. End was fun. I liked that end conversations and Rachel’s decision.

Why 4 stars-

I wanted a bit more at the end. An epilogue telling what happened to case or if romance lasted or how long it took for them to get together would have been great.

Overall,

Flying Solo was entertaining, dramatic and lovely romcom with amazing setting and some hilarious scenes. If you are looking for light-hearted, entertaining read that make you laugh, I highly recommend this.

Purchase Links:

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B082K48FX8/

US  – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B082K48FX8/

Author Bio:

Zoe May is an author of romantic comedies. Zoe has dreamt of being a novelist since she was a teenager. She worked in journalism and copywriting in London before writing her debut novel, Perfect Match. Having experienced the London dating scene first hand, Zoe could not resist writing a novel about dating, since it seems to supply endless amounts of weird and wonderful material!

Perfect Match was one of Apple’s top-selling books of 2018. It was also shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Joan Hessayon Award, with judges describing it as ‘a laugh out loud look at love and self-discovery – fresh and very funny’.

As well as writing, Zoe enjoys walking her dog, painting and, of course, reading! She adores animals and if she’s not taking a photo of a vegan meal, she’s probably tweeting about the dairy industry. She is half Greek and half Irish and can make a mean baklava. Zoe has a thing for horror films, India, swimming, hip hop and Radiohead. She has an encyclopaedic knowledge of handbags having spent several years working in fashion copywriting and could probably win Mastermind if this was her specialist subject!

Zoe loves to hear from readers, you can contact her on Twitter and Instagram at: @zoe_writes. Zoe’s Facebook page is: http://www.facebook.com/zoemayauthor/

She posts updates and blogs on her website, http://www.zoemayauthor.co.uk

Social Media Links : Twitter | Instagram | Facebook


I hope you enjoyed this review. Let me know what do you think about the book, if you have read this already or any books by the same author. Which is your favorite book set in India.

Happy Reading!

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Dark Waters (Monica Kennedy #2) by G.R. Halliday #DarkWatersBook @HarvillSecker @GR_Halliday

Dark Waters (Monica Kennedy #2) by G.R. Halliday
Publication Date : July 16th 2020
Publisher : Harvill Secker
Genre : Scottish Noir / crime fiction
Pages : 384

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The haunting new novel from G. R. Halliday, author of FROM THE SHADOWS, shortlisted for THE MCILVANNEY DEBUT PRIZE

THREE MISTAKES. TWO MURDERS. ONE MORE VICTIM TO GO . . .

Annabelle loves to drive. It helps her escape her world, her past. Speeding on a mountain road in the Scottish Highlands, she sees a little girl step out in front of her. She swerves to avoid her. The next thing Annabelle remembers is waking up in a dark, damp room. A voice from the corner of the room says ‘The Doctor will see you now’.

Scott is camping in the woodlands in the Scottish Highlands – but in the middle of the night, he hears something outside his tent. When he goes out to have a look, a little girl is standing among the trees, staring right at him. Scott is never seen again.

When a dismembered body is discovered, DI Monica Kennedy gets called to the scene immediately. After six months away from the Serious Crimes team, they need her back on board.

As Monica searches for the murderer, another body is found. Monica knows the signs . . . She’s on the hunt for a serial killer.

Perfect for fans of James Oswald, Ann Cleeves and Val McDermid.

*** Note: I received e-copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Mia @vintagebooks for tour invite and providing review copy. ***

Dark Waters was dark and disturbing crime thriller, second novel in Monica Kennedy series that revolved around another serial killer case. It was about juggling work and family life, haunting and unsettled past and history, unsolved and mysterious murders, and real demons of the world-humans.

This first line was chilling and it should have prepared for what’s going to come in the book- “When she still had all arms and legs, Anabelle liked to drive.”

Writing like previous book was engaging and vivid that took me to dark mountains and of Highlands that were both beautiful and menacing. I’m really glad to read in author’s note Glen Turrit and Little Arklow doesn’t exist outside this book but place were based on Glen Strathfarrar and it doesn’t look as dreadful from pictures as it sound in book. This book was even darker than first one. This is not for squeamish readers or those who feel claustrophobic by reading tunnels and caves under mountains. Let me give a little warning, there’s cannibalism. Plot was brilliant. It was told in third person narrative from Annabelle and Monica’s perspective and occasionally we also see other victim’s perspective.

Annabelle travelled from London to Highlands for thrill ride on single track road- beautiful but secluded- from one gate of Glen Turrit across the hydro dam to another gate near Strathcarron. But on this route, where she wasn’t expecting anyone, she saw a girl that made her swerved the car that collided to a tree. When she opened her eyes, she found herself in damp and dark room, injured and kidnapped! Just within few chapters Scott, Canadian traveler was abducted after seeing a girl. Simultaneously, we see what was going on in Monica’s life after previous case that ended horribly, working in traffic department, and giving Lucy lot of time. But then she got call from her boss Hately who needed her in new case. They found dismembered body near dam, at bank of river Beauly. Within 2 days another body, same condition, close to another hydro power station. I was curious to find out who was the killer, whose bodies they found, was it Scott or someone else, who was that girl and why she was working with a killer, if Monica could find killer before he kills Scott or Anabelle, or if Anabelle can find a way to escape.

Monica was once again was great. I liked the way mother’s concerns and guilt were portrayed through her and Lucy’s relationship. Monica’s strength and vulnerability, how stress of new changes in Lucy and her nightmares were affecting her and the case, was realistic to read. Her intuitions related to case was brilliant. What I liked most was a glimpse in her past that showed her relationship with her father. I feel there is more about her to be revealed in next books. I had complain about her too frequent height reference in previous book but in this one it was better, not too often and didn’t appear unexpectedly.

I like Crawford in this book. We don’t know his full story yet but that was balanced by Fisher’s story. We know a bit about Fisher and his real life. It was surprising to know how that connected him to this murder case. Annabelle was caring and clever. She had parents issue and it was sad to see how her parents behaved and treated her and how deeply it affected her. Even after what she was enduring in killer’s den, she felt empathy towards Marcus and even in worst condition she was selfless. She didn’t deserve what happened to her. Villain was worst nightmare imaginable. The story he shared and what was revealed everything related to him was terrifying.

I enjoyed description of all Highland locations, a bit about hydro dam, its history and stories related to it, intermittent chapters’ from victims that cleared the mystery behind what exactly happened to them and why, and lastly that maze of underground tunnels and those chapters about it and Annabelle’s experience in there. Author did amazing job with tension, suspense, and twist and turns. Suspects were few but yet I couldn’t guess who the killer was until around 40% of the book and yet I couldn’t connect the dots and figure out why these particular victims until Monica’s last interview with suspect.

Climax was tense, blood chilling and adrenaline inducing. I was literally yelling at characters at this point thinking why it was taking so much time. I almost lost hope for Anabelle and it was not clear if she will live or not till the end. It felt so unfair what happened at the end but at the same time it felt realistic.

Why 4.5-

There are still more to characters and not all their stories were told in this book but I hope to read that in  next books in series.

Overall,

Dark Waters was clever, horrifying, fast paced and well written sequel with vivid and gruesome description and beautiful yet dangerous setting.

Books Links:

Goodreads | Pre-order | AmazonUK | Waterstones

Affiliate Link : Book Depository


I hope you enjoyed this review. Let me know what do you think about the book, if you have read this already or previous book in series, and Which is your favorite book set in Scotland.

Happy Reading!

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Prediction Book Tag

Hello readers! I hope you all are enjoying weekend. Usually I don’t post on Sunday but today I wanted to write post. So here is my answers to Prediction Book Tag. Katie@Never Not Reading tagged me in this tag this month. If you are not following her blog check it out now. It’s more interesting than my answers to this tag. 😃

The rules for the Prediction Book Tag:

~ Pingback to the creator, the amazing Mandy & Sha @ Book Princess Reviews!
~ Tag the person who tagged you
~ Find an answer to match each prompt.
~ Most importantly: have fun!

Prediction for my Next Read

Flying Solo by Zoe May

Next I’m going to reading Flying Solo by Zoe May. I enjoyed 2 books I read by Zoe May. Her books are uplifting and liked message in her books. I’m sure I’m going to enjoy this too.

Prediction for my Next 5-Star Read

Shielded (Shielded #1) by KayLynn Flanders

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Isn’t that cover is beautiful? I didn’t expect to get this book. It was surprise when publisher sent NetGalley copy of this book. I’m enjoying this second heir saving the family and kingdom trope these days. So I hope this turns out 5 star read but I’m not going to read it this month.

Prediction for my Next 1-Star Read

Who predicts a book 1 star and then read it! I wouldn’t even add a book to TBR if I predict it 1 star and to be honest nobody can predict book 1 star by just reading synopsis.

Prediction for my Next Love Interest/Cool Character

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Maia Tamarin in Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim sounds cool. designing and sewing clothes is amazing skill so I hope to like this character. By the way I won this book as random winner of last month’s challenge in Goodreads group and got second book of The Blood of Star duology from publisher via NetGalley. Am I not lucky? 😁

Prediction for my Next Book Buy

I haven’t added any book in cart as I’m not sure when I will finish books I thought I will read this year. But if I buy, I’m thinking either Mistborn Trilogy or books by Sarah J. Maas. I have heard both series are amazing and I’m sure I will enjoy them.

Prediction for my Next Book to Give me a Hangover

The Shadow and Bone Trilogy and Six of Crows Duology. Do I have to say why? I have heard world and characters were great and author is masterful. I wanted to read this series for so long. I can’t wait to dive in this world and I already love this map. 😍


I tag anyone who feel want to do this tag.


I hope you enjoyed this post. Let me know in comments about your prediction for next 5 star read.

Happy Reading!

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#Excerpt : Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds 2 by Nick Albert @rararesources @Nickalbertautho

Hello readers! I’m happy to share excerpt from Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds 2 by Nick Albert as part of blog tour organised by  Rachel’s Random Resources. Read more about this memoir and excerpt in this post.

Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds 2 – Still living the dream in rural Ireland by Nick Albert
Book 2 in a series
Publication Date: 11th June 2018
Genre:  Memoirs, Humour

Synopsis :

Nick and Lesley’s desire for a better life in the countryside was a long-held dream. Unforeseen events and a leap of faith forced that dream into reality, but moving to rural Ireland was only the beginning of their story.


Foreigners in a foreign land, they set about making new friends, learning the culture and expanding their collection of chickens and unruly dogs. But their dream home was in desperate need of renovation, a mammoth task they attacked with the aid of a DIY manual, dwindling funds and incompetent enthusiasm. With defunct diggers, collapsing ladders, and shocking electrics, what could possibly go wrong?


Will their new life live up to expectations, or will the Irish weather, dangerous roads, and a cruel twist of fate turn this dream into a nightmare?

Excerpt:

An exclusive extract from Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds 2, written by bestselling author Nick Albert and published by Ant Press.

Although Nick and Lesley Albert moved to Ireland on a whim, their desire for a better life in the countryside was a long-held dream. Unforeseen events and a leap of faith forced that dream into reality, but getting to Ireland was only the beginning of their story.

Now foreigners in a foreign land, they soon set about making new friends, learning the culture and expanding their collection of chickens and unruly dogs.

In this scene, Nick decides it’s time to cut the front lawn for the first time.


Before leaving England I had purchased, second-hand, a solid American-built petrol lawnmower, which had done sterling work keeping the grass of our British garden under control. It had a powerful Briggs and Stratton motor, a 14 inch rotary cutting action, powered wheels, and a handy grass box. After giving this sturdy steel thoroughbred machine a good service and oil change, the engine was purring efficiently and the freshly-sharpened blade was whirring in eager anticipation. Confident everything was working as advertised, I began cutting the half acre of front lawn at Glenmadrie for the first time.

After just three paces, the engine stalled. Several hard pulls on the starter cord failed to restart it and, on further inspection, I discovered the blade was completely jammed by a large chunk of grass. I cleared the obstruction and began cutting again, with a similar result. Growling in frustration, I pulled the grass away by hand and re-started the mower. Three more steps and the engine stalled again. As I screamed in frustration, the self-assured smile quickly left my face, to be replaced by a grim scowl.

This mower was obviously a well-designed machine, perfectly suitable for the neat cutting and collection of dry grass in the heat of California, or Texas, or even Essex. But it had no chance of coping with the lush and constantly dew-wet meadow grass growing in Ireland. Clearly, I needed to do some modifications – or buy several goats.

To upgrade our mower to Irish conditions, I attacked it with a hammer, a saw and a recently acquired electrical gismo called a disc cutter. This evil-looking toy made a terrifying noise and vibrated like a live snake, but it produced a delightfully pretty spray of sparks as I chomped through the steel case of the mower. The end result of my modifications, looked rather like a family car with the boot cut off. It would surely have reduced the manufacturer to tears, as well as breaching most European health and safety rules. Nevertheless, with all of the obvious impedances to the free movement of wet grass removed, I began a test run.

With its gaping backside on show for all to see, my American lawn mower bellowed into life. A few inches from my toes, the cutting blades spun into a blur and buzzed like a swarm of angry hornets. I made a mental note to take shorter steps, or I would soon have shorter legs. Aiming at a thick swathe of tough looking grass, I pulled the lever to engage the drive wheels. As I pushed forward, there was barely a dip in the roar of the motor to signal the successful cutting of grass. There was no sign of tangling nor a suggestion that the motor would ever stall again. It was safe to say my modification was a triumphant success – with one minor exception. The moment I began to cut, a torrent of wet grass and other unidentifiable debris hit me full in the face.

Ever the practical fellow, and determined to make my modifications work, I closed my eyes to the merest slit and pressed on. Unfortunately, with the blizzard of grass adding to my already-restricted vision, I went slightly off line and collided with a tree. Plan B was to turn my head sideways, shut one eye and use my sizable proboscis to deflect most of the flying debris from entering the other eye. Although my nose did a splendid job protecting my eye, there was now nothing preventing the grass and grit from filling my exposed ear and threatening to deafen me. Plan C was to lower my height sufficiently to remain below the level of the flying debris. To do this I had to bend my knees and walk like an aged orangutan with a bad back. Whilst this method was partially successful, I quickly began to feel like an aged orangutan with a bad back. Pulling myself upright and trying to shake some life back into my wobbly legs, I reluctantly conceded the need for some robust protection and made a trip to our local hardware store.

So, two hours behind schedule, decked out in overalls, thick leather gloves, ear protectors and goggles, I began cutting the lawn again. Apart from the frequent need to wipe my goggles, and my bright purple overall slowly changing to chlorophyll green as I was sprayed with wet grass, my redesigned mower worked splendidly. Admittedly, the constant stream of fragments hitting my face was annoying, but after swallowing something that may once have been a slug, I soon learned to cut the grass with my mouth shut.

  After an hour of hard walking and breathing through clenched teeth, my modified American mower had transformed a scruffy patch of grass into a neat front lawn. It wasn’t perfect, but it was definitely an improvement. To finish the job, I did a final lap of the garden, just to tidy up the edges. As I mowed these last few yards, I cast my eye over my handiwork. “At least it looks like someone lives here,” I thought, quietly proud of my resourcefulness.

Just then the mower hit a patch of rough ground, perhaps a clod of earth pretending to be a clump of grass. I was instantly enveloped in a cloud of muddy dust and, as the mower groaned in anger, there was a sharp ting and a large pebble shot out. This rocky ballistic missile, travelling only slightly slower than the speed of light, would surely have broken a window, had it not hit me squarely in the groin. Cross-eyed and knock-kneed in agony, I let go of the lawnmower, grabbed my ‘crown jewels’ and collapsed like a man shot. Fortunately the mower stopped without hitting anything valuable, or running me over. I’m pleased to report that apart from a slightly dented blade, there was no permanent damage to the mower, but it was quite some time before I was able to uncross my eyes.


Purchase Links

Amazon UK

Kindle https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07DFNF3K4/

Paperback https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1721005226/

Audible https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0844YCGSS/

Amazon USA

Kindle https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07DFNF3K4/

Paperback https://www.amazon.com/dp/1721005226/

Audible https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0844GYPSQ/

About Author:

Nick Albert was born in England and raised in a Royal Air Force family. After leaving College he worked in retail management for several years before moving into financial services where he quickly progressed through the ranks to become a training consultant. As a very passionate and reasonably talented sportsman, Nick had always wanted to use his training skills towards creating a parallel career, so in the mid 1980’s he qualified and began coaching sport professionally. After a health scare in 2003 and in search of a simpler life, he and his wife Lesley, cashed in their investments, sold their home and bought a rundown farmhouse in the rural west of Ireland – a country they had never before even visited. With little money or experience and armed only with a do-it-yourself manual, they set about renovating their new home, where they now live happily alongside a flock of chickens, two ducks and several unruly, but delightful dogs.
In 2017 Nick was signed to Ant Press to write a series of humorous memoirs about his life in rural Ireland. Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds (book one) was published in September 2017 and soon became an Amazon bestseller. Book two in the series was published on 1st June 2018 and book 3 in August 2019. Book four is due out in 2020.

Nick is also the author of the twisty thriller, Wrecking Crew, the first in a series of books featuring reluctant hero Eric Stone.

Social Media Links – Amazon | Facebook | Facebook-Author Page | Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads | Blogspot | Youtube | Website | AllAuthor Website


I hope you enjoyed reading this post. Let me know in comments what do you think about this book, if you have read previous book in series or any book by the same author.

Happy Reading!

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#BookBlitz #Excerpt : Warbringer by Aaron Hodges #Warbringer @rararesources

Hello Readers! I’m excited to be part of Blitz tour for Warbringer by Aaron Hodges, organised by  Rachel’s Random Resources. Read more about this epic fantasy and excerpt in this post.

Warbringer by Aaron Hodges
 Book 1 of The Descendants of the Fall series
Publication Date: 27th March 2020
Genre: Epic Fantasy

Synopsis

Centuries ago, the world fell.
From the ashes rose a terrible new species—the Tangata.
Now they wage war against the kingdoms of man.
And humanity is losing.


Recruited straight from his academy, twenty-year-old Lukys hopes the frontier will make a soldier out of him. But Tangata are massing in the south, and the allied armies are desperate. They will do anything to halt the enemy advance—including sending untrained men and women into battle. Determined to survive, Lukys seeks aid from the only man who seems to care: Romaine, the last warrior of an extinct kingdom.

Meanwhile, the Queen’s Archivist leads an expedition deep beneath the earth. She seeks to uncover the secrets of the Gods. Their magic has been lost to the ages, yet artifacts remain, objects of power that could turn the tide of the war. But salvation is not all that waits beneath the surface. Something else slumbers in the darkness. Something old. Something evil.

Excerpt

Chapter 4 – The Recruit

Lukys’s legs burned as he made his slow way up the slope. The weight of his pack and chainmail vest dragged him back but he kept on, teeth clenched, eyes fixed on the ground two yards ahead of his feet. Grunts came from the other Perfugian recruits walking around him, though little was said. After a week of hard marching, few could spare the breath for idle words.

On more than a few occasions, Lukys had wondered whether he could keep on. The way had been a brutal series of mountains, valleys and river crossings, with each night spent camped in the open, with only the canvas tents they carried on their backs for shelter. Exhaustion weighed on his shoulders; he had not enjoyed a good night’s sleep since the voyage from Ashura. If only the ship had carried them further south, the march to the frontier could have been completed in a day.

Instead it had deposited them on the docks of Mildeth, the Flumeeren capital, leaving them to walk most of the way. Apparently, the galley was needed for more important tasks, such as ferrying the famous Flumeeren spices back to Ashura.

Many of the recruits felt affronted at the idea, but Lukys’s childhood had been filled with hardships far worse than a cross-country march. His parents had been nobodies. That wasn’t meant to matter in Perfugia. Children were taken from their families at eight and enrolled at the national academy, so that none would be privileged above others.

But even at the academy, the division had been clear. His dormitory had been old and crowded; the newest facilities given to the noble born. And so had passed his twelve years of study. He was glad to be rid of the place.

Now, at last, he would have a chance to prove himself.

It had come as a surprise when they’d named him. The Perfugian army was renown throughout the four kingdoms; it was a rare honour to serve in its ranks. Lukys’s hopes had been for a position as a scribe or doctor, though he’d struggled with both in his final examinations.

But a soldier? He hadn’t dared dream of such an assignment.

Noticing the slope lessening beneath his boots, Lukys finally glanced up. A sigh escaped him as he saw the top of the hill was close. Several recruits and the officers on their horses were already waiting there. His fellows were taking the opportunity to sit and rest their legs, while the officers talked softly amongst themselves.

Coming to a stop alongside the others, Lukys leaned against his spear with a groan, then drew out his waterskin and took a swig. The path up the hill had been dry and it felt good to wash the dust from his mouth. Laughter came from the nearby recruits as they looked in his direction.

“Finally made it, peasant?”

A scowl twisted Lukys’s lips but he kept his mouth shut. The group were made up of some of the higher born from the academy, men and women who at various points over the last ten years had made his life difficult. He was used to their taunts, though he’d hoped they might have ceased now that they’d all been named professional soldiers.

“I hope we get to march into Calafe,” one of them, Dale, was saying to the others. “Let’s see how tough the Tangata are when they come up against Perfugian steel!”

The others cheered and clapped his back. The officers on their horses ignored the noise, though the recruits had been instructed to keep quiet as they neared the frontier. If the maps were to be believed, they were close now…

Putting away his waterskin, Lukys moved past the officers. The remaining recruits were still filing up the hillside. Several of the stragglers were at least ten minutes behind; he had time to look around.

The terrain ahead was greener than what they’d just climbed. Trees spotted the rolling hills, though they could not compare to the untouched forests of northern Perfugia. Then Lukys frowned as he noticed a blackened strip of land. Further down the hill, the forest had been burnt, leaving bare earth stretching all the way to the broad waters of a river.

A river…

The Illmoor!

His heart quickened as he scanned the banks of the famous river, searching, seeking, there!

Nestled in a bend of the Illmoor was a town—Fogmore. A grin stretched his cheeks as he looked upon the end of their long journey. It faded, however, as his eyes lingered on the town. The stockade walls were tiny, and many of the buildings he could see looked to be made of wood. In Perfugia, even the poorest of villages were constructed of stone, built to last, to endure the wild storms that often bashed the island kingdom’s coast. Wood was only ever used as decoration.

He supposed it was all a farming nation like Flumeer could afford on such a distant frontier. Even so, his stomach twisted at the thought of sleeping in such a matchbox—what would they do if a fire swept through the sprawling buildings?

And why had they burnt the forest?

Purchase Links:

UK –  https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08653PM1L/

US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08653PM1L/

Author Bio:

Aaron Hodges was born in 1989 in the small town of Whakatane, New Zealand. He studied for five years at the University of Auckland, completing a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology and Geography, and a Masters of Environmental Engineering. After working as an environmental consultant for two years, he grew tired of office work and decided to quit his job and explore the world. During his travels he picked up an old draft of a novel he once wrote in High School (titled The Sword of Light) and began to rewrite the story. Six months later he published his first novel, Stormwielder, and hasn’t looked back since.

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Happy Reading!

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