J.D.R. Hawkins

One bullet can make a man a hero… or a casualty.

Archive for the category “books”

Cover Reveal – Saved by Love

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Saved by Love 

by Shilpa Suraj

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About the Book:

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They meet under impossible circumstances.

She is kidnapped by terrorists blackmailing her father, a Supreme Court Judge. He leads the team sent to rescue her. 

Trekking to safety through Ladakh… They are in danger of falling in love. But, Lt. Col. Arjun Rathod knows that Naina Ahuja, engaged to politics’ rising star, is not meant for him.

Forever changed by her trauma, Naina walks out of her controlling family and forges a new life.

And then, she meets Arjun again. But this time, he is engaged to someone else.

Can they save their love or is it too late?

About the Author:

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Shilpa Suraj wears many hats – corporate drone, homemaker, mother to a fabulous toddler and author.

An avid reader with an overactive imagination, Shilpa has weaved stories in her head since she was a child. Her previous stints at Google, in an ad agency and as an entrepreneur provide colour to her present day stories, both fiction and non-fiction.

Contact the Author:

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Cover Reveal – The Mahasiddha Field

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The Mahāsiddha Field

by Dwai Lahiri

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About the Book:

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The world of Asuras and Dévas is considered mythological. Indian mythology is replete with tales of Dévas battling the Asuras constantly. The interesting thing to note is that whether it is a God or an incarnation of a deity in human form, aka an Avatār, there was also a human element involved in these stories. The teachers of the Dévas (gods) and the Asuras were human sages, known as Rishis.

Find out what happens when seemingly unconnected individuals get drawn into a world of suspense and action, as mythology collides with their world in the book ‘The Mahāsiddha Field’, the first in a new sci-fi/fantasy series!

An elderly wandering mendicant in South India, two young Indian-American men, two soldiers from the Indian Army and a mysterious sage from high up in the Himalayas are thrown together in an adventure unlike any other; as a most unlikely adversary leaps out of the world of Indian Mythology to challenge their beliefs, their sanity and their courage.

About the Author:

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Dwai is a long time practitioner of the Daoist internal arts with a focus on Taijiquan. He is also an eager student and practitioner of Advaita Vedānta, Kashmir Shaivism and Yoga. He enjoys being part of the artistic process in various forms – as a writer, musician and a martial artist. The Arts are an excellent medium for spiritual practice and he has dedicated more than two decades of his life in the quest for spiritual clarity.

He started writing in the early 2000s in the public domain, under the pen name ‘Rudra’ for ‘sulekha.com’, which then was the preeminent online literary portal for the Indian Diaspora.  In 2007 he started the online journal ‘The Medha Journal’ where over 1000 articles—the compiled work of 96 authors including himself are available for readers today, on various topics ranging from Indic studies, philosophy to poetry and fiction.

In the worldly domain, he is a software engineer for a Silicon Valley software company, and an engineer by training. He likes to think of himself as humble bridge between many disparate worlds– science and spirituality, art and technology, Eastern and Western cultures.

 He lives in the suburbs of Chicago in Illinois, USA with his wife, daughter and two dogs.

Contact the Author:

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Cover Reveal: The Pearl of Immortality

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The Pearl of Immortality

by Nishi Chandermun

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A world exists that is dominated by the forces of Light and Dark magic. A world where The Sands of Time comes to life, a unique and compelling fantasy.

Xerxes discovers an ancient golden Lamp in a shop of magical artefacts and his simple life is immediately altered, propelling him into a brand-new world inhabited by powerful alien races.

On this strange and distant planet, a world so unlike Earth, Xerxes soon discovers his new identity, one that names him Dragonheart.

Presented with his ancient dragon of more than five thousand years old, a dragon with indescribable magical abilities, he is compelled to accept his destiny as Dragon Rider. A destiny that drives him into the heart of threats shadowed over by the evil Naga race.

Can Xerxes shoulder the responsibilities of a true Dragonheart? When the significance of the Lamp comes to the fore, it becomes evident that the fate of the planet lies entirely in his strength.

Goodreads

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About the Author:

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I was born and raised in the city of Durban, one of the sunniest places of South Africa, where I live with my husband and three kids. However, home away from home is the magnificent Cape Town, a serene laidback city where the heart and spirit of the ancient Table Mountain beckons one to return again and again.

I graduated with a Bachelor of Law degree, cum laude and went on to study psychology thereafter, both careers which held my avid interest. However, my greatest passion was always in writing, something I have been doing for as long as I can recall. So, it’s no wonder that I finally surrendered all else to become a professional writer.

I have previously written middle grade fiction as well as illustrated books for little children. The Sands of Time series is my first venture for young adults, a project that I have been arduously researching and working on for several years. If there’s a single belief I live by, it would be this:

Masterpieces are not created overnight. All that is truly remarkable requires a magical moment of growth.

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

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Book Tour – The Speaking Stone

The Speaking Stone by Ratnadip Acharya

~Book Tour~

11th to 17th November

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About the Book:

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Mumbai, December 2016: 

A young man found an ancient-looking piece of stone with strange images and Sanskrit inscriptions. A quest to know the origin of the stone brought him to the distant part of the country. 

Chandannagar, December 2016: 

A young vivacious historian woman read an old book on a century-old secret story about a little known part of the country. Her curiosity got the better of her as the book disappeared mysteriously before she could complete it. She reached a sleepy quaint state of the country to satiate her curiosity. 

Eventually they both met and their search began from the city museum to a far-flung rock mountain which revealed a century-old story of a seductive danseuse, her enigmatic lover, a string of her admirers, a painter with a photographic memory, a bird that could speak in many voices, a benevolent king and a gruesome conspiracy. And the most important clue to decode the final secret was with the missing part of The Speaking Stone. But in the process of unearthing old secrets their lives were also in danger… 

Book Links:

Amazon * Goodreads

Read an Excerpt:

Chapter 1

December 2016, Mumbai

“Sir, we are about to close,” a courteous but curt voice materialized from near his shoulder. These words, however, had barely any effect on him as he just groaned sleepily, without budging even an inch.

The middle-aged man standing behind him hesitated for a moment before placing his fingers on his shoulder and tapping on it.

“Sir, it is well past one-thirty. We must close now at any cost. You know those Colaba police, na?” the man in uniform urged him. After all, he could not afford to speak in an authoritative manner with someone who frequented their pub, always drank enough to make the pub owner richer by a few thousand, behaved well with all the butlers unlike many other young men his age, and, above all, was always generous to give tips to the workers in the pub. He was quite a favourite with the staff of this famous pub, Voodoo, a little behind Hotel Taj Palace in Colaba. They looked up to him for another reason, too. It was his demonic capacity to drink and remain composed and collected even after that. Never before had it happened that he placed his head on the table, pillowed on his locked arms and slept blissfully. Whenever he visited Voodoo on weekends he was accompanied by one or two friends and the attendants in Voodoo knew that one of those friends, who didn’t drink, was always at the wheel while they returned from the pub. But tonight he was all alone and completely drunk. They were not sure as to how he would ride home.

“Sir,” the uniformed man called him again, tapping on his shoulder, a bit impatiently now. This time as he leaned to touch the young man’s shoulder the hanging end of his tie touched his ear and earlobe. What the earnest request and tapping of the attendant couldn’t do, the hanging end of the tie seemed to have done it effortlessly. Probably it sent a tickling sensation down his spine as he raised his head with a sleepy smile.

“Sorry,” said he, looking up.

“Sir, we are well past our closing time,” repeated the man. He passed a searching glance about and as he found the pub empty except for him a sheepish smile came over his lips.

“I am sorry,” said he, trying to get to his feet. A pleasant sweet smell of Black Label whisky issued from his mouth.

“May I use the toilet once before leaving?” he asked with his usual politeness and then headed to the Men’s with an unsteady gait.

He returned from the toilet after a few minutes, wiping his face with a handkerchief.

“Are you sure, sir, you can manage to go all by yourself?” asked the concerned attendant.

“I will,” replied he and staggered to the entrance of Voodoo.

The attendant watched his six-foot-tall frame leaving the pub and hoped he would reach home safely. He consulted the watch. It was a quarter to two.

Outside the pub the young man stood for a few moments, trying to gather his thoughts. He looked around then. The street in front of him was deserted. At the corner of the street, two stray dogs were sleeping, coiling themselves against each other to feel warm in the cold winter night. A thin wisp of smoke was spiralling up from a small heap of ashes. He knew the durwans from the nearby buildings might have lit the fire with the foliage and old discarded cardboard to warm themselves up. He did a mental calculation and tottered ahead at a slow pace. All that accompanied him was his hesitant footfall and a faithful shadow. He walked past Kashmir Emporium, Rustic Rajasthan, and an antique shop whose targeted customers were usually foreign tourists, and arrived behind the Taj Continental where scores of four-wheelers were parked. As he looked at the cars, parked in an astonishingly disciplined fashion to make the most of the space, a thought struck him. Most of the cars were white. He had no difficulty in finding his car. He opened the rear door of the car and plopped himself down on the seat. It was not long before he stretched at full length, occupying the entire back seat. 

Soon he fell asleep when the crashing waves of the Arabian Sea, in front of Hotel Taj Continental, played a lullaby for him. It was the first night he slept in the car.

About the Author:
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Ratnadip Acharya is the author of two successful novels, Life is Always Aimless… Unless you love it and Paradise Lost & Regained. He is a columnist for the Speaking Tree in The Times of India. He contributed many write-ups in different collections of Chicken Soup for the Soul. He lives in Mumbai with his wife, Sophia and son, Akash.

Contact the Author:

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Spotlight – Justice Gone

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About the Book:

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When a homeless war veteran is beaten to death by the police, stormy protests ensue, engulfing a small New Jersey town. Soon after, three cops are gunned down.

A multi-state manhunt is underway for a cop killer on the loose. And Dr. Tessa Thorpe, a veteran’s counselor, is caught up in the chase.

Donald Darfield, an African-American Iraqi war vet, war-time buddy of the beaten man, and one of Tessa’s patients, is holed up in a mountain cabin. Tessa, acting on instinct, sets off to find him, but the swarm of law enforcement officers gets there first, leading to Darfield’s dramatic capture.

Now, the only people separating him from the lethal needle of state justice are Tessa and ageing blind lawyer, Nathaniel Bodine. Can they untangle the web tightening around Darfield in time, when the press and the justice system are baying for revenge?

Book Links:

Goodreads * Amazon

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Winner of Three Awards:

2019 American Fiction Award

National Indie Excellency Award – Best Legal Thriller of 2019

Silver Medal Winner 2019 – Readers’ Favorites Awards

Chosen by Wiki.ezvid.com among their list of 10 Gripping and Intelligent Legal Thrillers

Reviews for Justice Gone:

The courtroom scenes are wonderfully written…the characters are well described and the author paints a picture of each in the mind of the reader…Strong plot, strong characters and a strong writing style that I really enjoyed. This one is a definite “thumbs-up.” Strongly recommend! I look forward to reading additional works by N. Lombardi, Jr.

Kim M Aalaie, Author’s Den

One of my favorite suspense novels of the year. It will make you question the legal system.

The Eclectic Review

The courtroom action is excellent, trimmed to the most gripping parts of the trial, with plenty of emotional impact…a fairly realistic portrayal of the way small-town US society works…a fast-moving story with plenty of dramatic moments, and a big twist in the final pages.

Crime Review 

Read an Excerpt:

“What does voir dire mean?” Penny asked out of the blue. “The judge said something about…”

“It means that I and the prosecutor get to question each prospective juror directly. Only the judge has that authority, we lawyers have to ask permission to do so.”

They entered the visitation room, a cramped stuffy space bounded by the same pea-green walls, with a wooden table and straight-backed wooden chairs in the middle of the room. It was dimly lit and windowless. They found Darfield already standing by the table, and after greetings, along with hugs on the part of Tessa and Penny, they all sat down.

“I think it’s time I made a proper introduction,” Emily Bodine said. She smiled appealingly. She was a comely woman of about thirty, with honey-brown hair combed sensually around her glossy oval face and down to  her  shoulders, and  possessing jaunty blue eyes, a cute button nose, and alluring lips. She wore a brown lawyerly, Chanel-style pants suit. “You already know I’m Nat’s daughter and his co-counsel.”

“Not as flamboyant as me, but she gets the job done,” Bodine put in.

“Thanks, Dad. Closest thing to a complement that I’ll ever get from him,” she told the others with a fleeting grin before getting down to business. “Today was the formal arraignment, and now we are entering the discovery phase.”

“What’s that mean, exactly?” Darfield wanted to know.

“It means that the State has to turn over all its evidence to us including a list of witnesses they intend to call, the exhibits they intend to admit, things like that…so we can prepare our case. And we have to do likewise.”

“When is the trial going to be?” Tessa asked, getting to the issue that was a priority on her mind.

“Yeah, I’d like to know that, too,” Darfield said.

“Well, I don’t expect before the end of the year. We have the holidays coming up. It has to be within one hundred and twenty days, you heard the judge. Maybe sometime in February.”

Tessa was upset. “February! And Donald will be locked up until then?”

Bodine intervened. “Well, it’s like six of one and half dozen of the other. We’ll at least get sufficient time to prepare. It could have been worse if we waived the right to a speedy trial. Could have been a year or more because the State’s got a weak case and they’d use that time to bone it up.”

Darfield patted her arm. “Don’t worry, Tessa, I can make it all right.”

Bodine continued. “As Emily already mentioned, this is the discovery phase, so the more time the better. You see, most prosecutors play this disgusting game in collusion with the police, to take their time with the paperwork and to withhold things until we have to file motions repeatedly complaining to the judge to get hold of what they got, even though by law we are one hundred percent entitled to it. Oh, yeah, by the way, you got a source of funds?”

Tessa backed off, and sort of shriveled up. “We assumed you were working pro bono.”

“Well I am, but that means I’m only waiving my fees. There are still expenses to pay; you don’t expect me to dig into my own pockets for those, do you?”

“What expenses?”

Emily explained. “Phone calls, photocopying, transport, investigation costs…”

“Investigation?”

“Yes, that’s a must if we’re going to trial. And then there’s the experts.”

“Experts?”

The elder Bodine once again took the reins. “Look, they don’t have any evidence that Donald killed those three men. They need eyewitnesses, and they don’t have any. And the only forensic evidence is going to be based on ballistics. So they’re going to get some expert, who works for the government of New Jersey and who is loyal to the prosecution, and get him in the witness stand and give the jury a whole mumbo-jumbo about how Donald’s weapon is tied to the bullets they found. Except it’s gonna be bullshit. But the jury will eat it up; even if they don’t understand what he’s saying, ‘cause he’s an expert, and if we rely just on my cross-examination, me, a lil ol’ lawyer, a blind one at that, trying to rip apart his testimony, it always appears as a lack of respect when I attack his credibility. I mean he’s the expert, ain’t he? That’s why we need our own expert to show up the other guy, and let me tell you, they don’t come cheap.”

“We’ll do a fund-raising,” Penny said. “How much will we need?

“Shoot for a hundred thousand,” Bodine advised. “Shit!” Darfield blurted.

“There is something that we must consider right from the start,” Emily said. “This case hinges on jury sentiment. There’s nothing else when you come right down to it. And that’s not in our favor. Asarn County is ninety-percent white and is very conservative,  as  well  as  generally  supportive  of  their  local police.”

“I thought I saw a few people outside holding signs,” Penny said. “I think they were supportive of Donald.”

“That’s the last thing we want!” Bodine remonstrated loudly, banging his cane on the floor.

The door opened and a uniformed jailer appeared. “Is there a problem in here?”

“No officer, I was just making a point.”

“Well, could you make it a little more quietly, please?” “Yeah, now shut the door.”

The guard shot Bodine a harsh glance before closing the door. “Little  pipsqueak.”  He  pointed  his  cane  toward  the  far corner,  where  a  camera  was  suspended  close  to  the  ceiling. “They can see everything going on—closed-circuit television. Can’t hear us though… He damn well knew there wasn’t any problem, just wanted to assert the little authority he has…now, as I was saying…any protesters showing up here are likely to be outsiders with a political agenda. The local community is still in shock over those cold-blooded murders; they’ve already forgotten  the  original  incident,  Felson’s  beating,  and  they’ll consider such shenanigans as insensitive liberal nonsense…and if the jury should be exposed to these types of demonstrations, they’ll turn against us.”

“You have to realize,” Emily broke in, “that this is all about assigning blame. Three men are dead and someone has to be held responsible. They can’t just let it hang in the air.”

“What about my alibi?” Darfield shot in.

Bodine turned his head in the general direction of Darfield’s voice. “I sent someone down there, and we’ll get his report soon.” “What about this judge?” Darfield asked. “Is he going to be

the same one for the trial? Looks like a mean sucker.”

“Good question, Donald,” Bodine replied. “I would say yes, most assuredly. He’s an elected judge, and this is an election year.

“Is that good or bad?” Penny asked. “Not good.”

“There’s been a study done,” Emily said, “that shows that elected judges tend to have more convictions and give out stiffer penalties during their election years.”

“And,” Bodine added, “they usually run on a platform of being tough on crime. Last campaign, Tupelo had as his slogan, Vote for Judge Tupelo, ‘cause he just don’t let ‘em go. So the DA already has one up on us, he’s got the judge. But I have a way to put Tupelo on a leash. You see, there’s one thing a judge fears, and that is having their verdicts or their decisions overturned by either an Appeals Court, or worse, the Supreme Court. Makes ‘em look bad. And I’ll be threatening him with that from the get-go.”

“I noticed they dropped some of the charges,” Tessa said. “Surely that’s a good sign.”

“No, not really,” Bodine rebutted. “The police always overdo it, then wait for the DA to choose which of them they’re gonna run with. In this case, it looks like they want to concentrate their case on the most serious charges, and it also shows their confidence in getting a conviction. If they weren’t, they would have kept all those charges hoping for at least some of them to stick.” He addressed Darfield. “Make no mistake about it, son, you’re going to end up doing time for something. If you get acquitted, they’re going to bring you up again on reckless endangerment,  for sure. And that reminds me, if that’s what happens, we can rely on your PTSD as mitigating circumstances, but NOT, I repeat NOT for this case. The prosecution will no doubt bring that up, but for our part, we’re going to downplay that as much as possible.” Bodine cleared his throat, obviously dry from all this talking. “Now there’s one more thing before I go. This matter of isolation. My hunch is that they’re going to keep you in the same cell, but just add a bunkmate. And he’ll be the snitch. Do whatever you can to keep him away from you. They won’t put you in the regular bullpen, because there’s eight guys sharing a single area, and all eight would have to corroborate each other, you get me?” Bodine didn’t wait for an answer, “Otherwise I can call the others to the stand who would testify they didn’t hear shit. But if the State does what I just said, stick him in alone with you, it’s more work for me because without witnesses to contradict him, I’ll have to spend some effort at tearing up the little rat on the stand.”

Tessa sat upright and put both hands on the table. “What about this sequestering of the jury. I noticed you were quite upset.”

“First of all, we’re gonna be restricted when it comes to jury selection. Some of the most sympathetic won’t be able to do it, for example single mothers, those who might need medical monitoring, people who cannot be away for a long time… but what I’m really concerned about is that they’ll hasten deliberation, come to a judgment too quick ‘cause they’re fed up being treated like prisoners, which, mark my word, that’s how they’ll be treated. Now some of them may resent the State because of that, but some might feel some bond with the State because they’re the ones taking care of them. Remember, that in the trial proceedings the State goes first, they can take their time, but it’s gonna force us to rush a bit because by that time the jury members are getting unhappy living the way they’re living. If we want to go meticulously about our case, then the jury will blame us for  taking  too  long and  prolonging  their  suffering. Now, is there anything else before Emily and I take our leave?”

“When will you come back?” Darfield asked. “We’ll be back by the end of the week.”

About the Author:
N. Lombardi Jr, the N for Nicholas, has spent over half his life in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, working as a groundwater geologist. Nick can speak five languages: Swahili, Thai, Lao, Chinese, and Khmer (Cambodian).

In 1997, while visiting Lao People’s Democratic Republic, he witnessed the remnants of a secret war that had been waged for nine years, among which were children wounded from leftover cluster bombs. Driven by what he saw, he worked on The Plain of Jars for the next eight years.

Nick maintains a website with content that spans most aspects of the novel: The Secret War, Laotian culture, Buddhism etc.

His second novel, Journey Towards a Falling Sun, is set in the wild frontier of northern Kenya.

His latest novel, Justice Gone was inspired by the fatal beating of a homeless man by police.

Nick now lives in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Follow the Author:

Website * Goodreads * Amazon

 

Spotlight: Lost & Found

I would like to share the third of three beautiful children’s books written by Arundhati Nithiyanandhan, an amazing and very talented 7-year-old.

Lost

About the Book:
Osito is Arundhati’s favorite soft toy. He is also one of her constant companions when she goes on vacation to her family. He has travelled with her to Melbourne, Singapore, Shimla, Bekal, Udaipur among other places. During these trips, he has also been on small adventures where Arundhati has inadvertently misplaced him and later found him, much to her relief!
This story is about one such incident that happened in Udaipur Lake Palace and how Arundhati got her favorite travel buddy back.
About the Author:

Arundhati (Aru) is seven years old and lives in Bangalore, India. She got inspired to tell stories after drawing her first storybook in a storytelling workshop conducted by #blrlitfest 2017. She loves telling new stories to her father while they both go for a walk in the evening.

Aru and her father have taken this journey further and have successfully published 3 children storybooks which have captured the imagination of 7 years old and the professionalism of an adult. Aru creates her stories from her day to day incidents and most of them are treasured part of her childhood. She loves to play in the sand and color sketches.

Spotlight: The Missing Fairy Princess

The Missing Fairy Princess copy

About the Book:

“The Missing Fairy Princess” is the story of a 16-year-old fairy princess pitted against a powerful witch. The witch has stolen a potent new mantra developed by a colleague, ruthlessly snuffing out a brilliantly innovative mind.  She then hatches an elaborate plot to frame an adversary for her misdeed. Her intention is to exact sweet revenge from her foe and at the same time, get away with the theft. The victim, caught in her vicious web, is doomed to disgrace and a life sentence on a harsh penal colony. Meanwhile, the witch learns from her crystal ball, about an imminent threat from a fairy princess wearing a pink tiara.  To ward off that threat she kidnaps the fairy princess, wipes her memory clean and then turns her into a two-year-old girl.  

Unfortunately for the culprit, she has goofed up by kidnapping the wrong fairy princess, Merlyn, instead of Ashlyn, her twin.  The mistake turns out to be the undoing of the witch because Ashlyn proves to be her nemesis. The brilliant fairy princess exposes the cobweb of misleading evidence fabricated by the witch, ultimately unmasking her.

If you love mystery, whodunit, with a dash of magical realism and sci-fi, this book is for you.

Buy Links:

Amazon India:  https://www.amazon.in/dp/B07T81C748

Amazon USA:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07T81C748

Walter SP Author copy

About the Author:
After spending over 25 years in the Middle East, the author, aged 75, now leads a retired life.  He lives with his wife and son in Thane, near Mumbai. He has been passionate about writing from his early days.  His first book was a fast-paced sci-fi novel titled “This Nightmare is for Real”, was self-published. That was followed by a historical fiction titled “Bheem – The Sage of Madhavpur”, again a self-publication.  A third book, a fairy tale titled “The Missing Fairy Princess” which was published on Kindle Select during the first week of June 2019, while a fourth on the oft-discussed topic of cross-border terrorism titled “The Carnivore has a Heart” is slated for publication shortly thereafter again on Kindle Select.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/waltersalvadore.pereira

Twitter: www.twitter.com/author_walter

Website: https://www.waltersalvadorepereira.com

 

Guest Post:

Imagine this scenario:  You are one of the best in your profession, own a palatial mansion on Beverley Hills, a Bugatti or Lamborghini roaring to go in your garage and tons of dough in your Swiss bank account. Would you be content with your status and crave for nothing more?  Certainly not, because you are human and have a chink in your armor called G-r-e-e-d!

On a parallel note, Zharga is a senior witch, with knowledge of witchcraft second to none, a huge cave on the upper reaches of the Alps with a breathtaking view, a magnificent flying carpet to take her to any place she commands and a magic wand capable of fulfilling any wish of hers.  Does it leave anything more to be desired? Alas, she too is human and greed is one of our built-in flaws!

What triggers it:  The witch overhears a conversation between two colleagues about a potent new mantra developed by one of them.  She cannot resist the temptation to lay her hands on that mantra and in the process ruthlessly snuffs out a brilliant and innovative mind.  Her desire fulfilled, she sets about framing an adversary for the crime. Her agenda is two-fold – to exact revenge from her foe and at the same time, get away with the theft.  The victim caught up in her cobweb, faces disgrace and lifetime imprisonment on a harsh penal colony.

The plot:  Amidst her nefarious activities, the witch is warned by her crystal globe about an impending serious threat from a fairy princess wearing a pink tiara. She at once takes preemptive measures. She captures the fairy princess and destroys her mind.  As an added precautionary measure, she turns the fairy into a two-year-old girl intending to offer her as a sacrifice to her Demon God.

Good prevails over evil:  The witch hasn’t contended with fate.  As it turns out, because of a prank played by the twin of the intended victim, the witch ends up capturing the former – Merlyn instead Ashlyn, her twin.  It is a costly error, one that ultimately results in her undoing as Ashlyn proves to be her nemesis as predicted by the crystal globe. The brilliant fairy princess untangles strand-by-strand the intricate cobweb woven by the crafty witch and finally, unmasks her.

banner-7 copy

 

Book Spotlight: Aru’s Balcony Garden

For the next few Tuesdays, I would like to share some beautiful children’s books written by a child herself. Arundhati Nithiyanandhan is only 7 years old! She reached out to me, and describes herself as follows:

“Like most kids of my age, I have an imagination that takes me to places and make up stories from my everyday life experiences. Only, I have a father who encourages it very much. In fact, he published three of my stories and these are now available on Amazon & Amazon KU as picture books for toddlers.”

So far, Aru and her father have published three books. That is so awesome! Please check out the links below and write a review.

Aru

About the Book

Arundhati who lives in an apartment community of a metro city is used to a small garden at her home balcony that is full of blooming plants that she loves. Every morning she likes to spend a moment before leaving to catch her school bus, in the garden looking at the flowers.

This story is inspired by this habit of hers and how she likes to water the plants with her parents.

About the Author

Arundhati (Aru) is seven years old and lives in Bangalore, India. She got inspired to tell stories after drawing her first storybook in a storytelling workshop conducted by #blrlitfest 2017. She loves telling new stories to her father while they both go for a walk in the evening.

Aru and her father have taken this journey further and have successfully published 3 children storybooks which have captured the imagination of 7 years old and the professionalism of an adult. Aru creates her stories from her day to day incidents and most of them are treasured part of her childhood. She loves to play in the sand and color sketches.

Reading level: 1 – 12 years

Paperback: 26 pages

Publisher: White Falcon Publishing

Published On: 24 October 2018

Language: English

ISBN: 978-9388459136

Price: Kindle books $1.42, Paperbacks $6.99

https://amzn.to/2ZpF8WA
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Traveller: The Most Famous Confederate Equine

Probably the most famous horse of the Civil War, at least on the Southern side, was General Robert E. Lee’s favorite mount, Traveller. The following excerpt is from my nonfiction book, Horses in Gray: Famous Confederate Warhorses. It describes Traveller’s history up until General Lee acquired him.

Horses in Gray Cover

Behold that horse! A dappled gray!

I saw him in the month of May,

When wild flowers bloomed about his feet,

And sunshine was his mantle meet.1

Of all the horses to serve in the War Between the States, the most famous is Traveller. The magnificent steed and his owner, General Robert E. Lee, have become synonymous in history. Although Traveller was not the only horse Lee owned, he was certainly the general’s favorite. The two were constant companions.2

Born of humble beginnings, Traveller was conceived in Mason County, Kentucky in 1856. His lineage stretched back to the great foundation sires that had made English horseflesh notable: the Godolphin Barb, the Darley Arabian, and the Byerly Turk.3 Traveller’s direct line traced back from English-bred Diomed, to Sir Archy, and to the great racehorse Grey Eagle, who was Traveller’s sire. 

A full-blooded thoroughbred, Gray Eagle stood sixteen hands high, was gray in color, and had a high-stepping gait. He was a champion racehorse, setting a record for two-mile heats in 1838. In 1839, he ran in a $20,000 stakes race at Oakland Race Course in Louisville. That race, a direct predecessor to the Kentucky Derby, drew 10,000 spectators and at least as many wagers. Grey Eagle, who was defeated by Wagner, broke his coffin joint during the race, which was irreparable. 

The race was described by William T. Porter in the Turf Register:

By the most extraordinary exertions, Wagner got up neck and neck with “the gallant grey” as they swung round the turn into the quarter stretch. The feelings of the assembled thousands were wrought up by a pitch absolutely painful – silence, the most profound, reigned over that vast assembly, as these noble animals sped on as if life and death called forth their utmost energies.

Both jockeys had their whip hands at work, and at every stroke, each spur, with a desperate stab, was buried to the rowel-head. Grey Eagle, for the first hundred yards, was clearly gaining; but in another instant Wagner was even with him. Both were out and doing their best. It was anybody’s race yet! Now Wagner, now Grey Eagle, has the advantage. It will be a dead heat? “See! Grey Eagle’s got him!” “No, Wagner’s ahead!” A moment ensues – the people shout – hearts throb – ladies faint – a thrill of emotion, and the race is over! Wagner wins by a neck, in 7.44, the best race ever ran south of the Potomac 4

Grey Eagle was put to stud and sired many racehorses, as well as saddle horses. He was bred with native stock horses that were thought to have been natural-gaited mares descended from the Narragansett Pacer. 

Besides Grey Eagle, Lexington, (who was the leading sire from 1861 to 1874) and the aforementioned Wagner contributed to the Saddlebred breed. Grey Eagle’s blood was also a factor in trotting pedigrees.5

In 1856, Andrew Johnston, the former sheriff of Greenbrier County, Virginia, purchased a half-bred grade mare named Flora, who was already in foal by Grey Eagle. The stallion was standing at stud on the farm of J.B. Pyntz near Maysville, in what is now West Virginia. Grey Eagle made two breeding seasons at the Pyntz farm before being sold and sent to Morrow County, Ohio. He died on July 4, 1863, at the age of 28. 

Johnston shipped Flora to his farm near Blue Sulphur Springs via steamboat. She gave birth in the spring of 1857. Her foal was named Jeff Davis. He was named after Mississippi Senator Jefferson Davis, who had fought in the Mexican War and served under President Franklin Pierce as Secretary of War. Unbeknownst to Johnston, the foal’s name was a prediction of what the future held.

Andrew Johnston’s son, Jim, as well as a local slave boy, Frank Winfield Page, handled and trained the young colt. When Jeff Davis turned two, he was shown at the 1859 Greenbrier County Fair in Lewisburg and won first place. The following year, he won another blue ribbon.

Jeff Davis was a silvery-gray gelding with black points and a flowing mane and tail. He stood sixteen hands high and weighed 1,100 pounds. Robert E. Lee later described the horse as having “fine proportions, muscular figure, deep chest and short back, strong haunches, flat legs, small head, broad forehead, delicate ears, quick eye, small feet, and black mane and tail.”6 The colt possessed such Saddlebred qualities as a good trot and extra gaits.

When the war broke out, Jim enlisted in Wise’s Legion, the 3rd Virginia, commanded by Virginia’s former governor, Henry Wise. Wise’s Legion, along with a brigade under John B. Floyd, former Secretary of War under President James Buchanan, was ordered to expel Federal troops from western Virginia. That fall, Major Thomas Broun, who was also enlisted with Wise’s Legion, authorized his brother, Captain Joseph Broun, the regiment’s quartermaster, to scour the countryside in search of horses to be used by the military. He came upon Jeff Davis. Thomas later renamed the colt Greenbrier. He wrote:

I authorized my brother to purchase a good serviceable horse of the best Greenbrier stock for our use during the war. After much inquiry and search, he came across the horse above mentioned, and I purchased him for $175 (gold value) in the fall of 1861 from Captain James W. Johnston, son of Mr. Johnston. When Wise’s Legion was encamped about Meadow Bluff and Big Sewell mountains, I rode this horse, which was then greatly admired in camp for his rapid, springy walk, his high spirit, bold carriage, and muscular strength… he needed neither whip nor spur and would walk his five or six miles an hour over the rough mountain roads of Western Virginia with his rider sitting firmly in the saddle and holding him in check by a tight rein, such vim and eagerness did he manifest to go right ahead so soon as he was mounted.

When General Lee took command of Wise’s Legion and Floyd’s brigade that were encamped at and near Big Sewell mountains in the fall of 1861, he first saw this horse and took a great fancy to it. He called it his colt, and said that he would use it before the war was over. Whenever the general saw my brother on this horse, he had something pleasant to say to him about my colt as he designated this horse.7 

In 1926, The Charlottesville Daily Progress recorded Mrs. Louisa Cary Feamster’s eyewitness account of Lee‘s first encounter with Jeff Davis. She said that General Lee and his staff stopped at the Johnston farm to rest on their way to Sewell Mountain. The weather was warm, there had been a light afternoon rain, and soon the general dozed off. After he awakened and was conversing with the Johnston’s, including Captain James “Dick” Johnston, who was home visiting, General Lee saw the gray gelding grazing in a clover field near the house. He immediately offered to buy “the Kentucky thoroughbred,”8 as Mrs. Feamster called him. Captain Johnston, who was in the infantry and not in need of a mount, told the General that he had tentatively sold the horse to Joseph Broun.9 

Generals Wise and Floyd refused to cooperate during the campaign, and the military effort to keep the western counties of Virginia in the Confederacy failed. Lee was sent to Charleston, South Carolina, and given command of the coastal defenses. The third regiment of Wise’s Legion, now the 60th Virginia, was also transferred to South Carolina. Thomas Broun had become ill, so Greenbrier went to South Carolina with his brother, Joseph. When the 60th Virginia arrived at Pocotalipo, Lee saw Greenbrier again. Captain Broun offered to give the horse to him.

Lee declined, saying, “If you will willingly sell me the horse, I will gladly use it for a week or so to learn its qualities.”10 

https://www.amazon.com/Horses-Gray-Famous-Confederate-Warhorses/dp/145562327X/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=horses+in+gray&qid=1564463368&s=gateway&sr=8-1

Five-Star Review!

Here is another five-star review for my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie. Thank you so much, Linda Thompson, for your positive review!

ABGL B.R.A.G. Medallion
It was amazing!
When it comes to war (no matter the era), men tend to gravitate toward the bloody bodies and the weaponry, and while some women thing the idea of war as romantic, others are horrified at the cruelty. I’ve never seen war as romantic, anything to be proud of, or even remotely good, and parts of JDR Hawkins book was difficult for me to read. That being said, A Beautiful Glittering Lie is a very good story, well written with extremely engaging characters. The historical aspect is excellent and once I could get my head wrapped around the war and violence, I found this Southern family very engaging. I’m very interested in learning where the next book in Hawkins’ series will take us.

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