Thursday, February 16, 2017

My Life According to My Cat: The Pill

It's morning, but early yet. There is no sun peeking through the curtain, though the sky is gray tone instead of black. I close my eye again, curled comfortably into my little warm ball of fur. For anyone reading this who is not a cat, I feel sorry for you. Because you have no idea of the delights of being able to curl into a ball and be surrounded by warm fur, and because you are not a cat (you can take comfort that you are not a dog, though).

A door creaks open. Her. It's always her this early. Trying to be stealthy, to sneak out here quietly to where I'm cuddled up on the couch. I would laugh if it wasn't so pitiful. Humans really have no idea what loud creatures they are.

Footsteps. You'd think an elephant taught her to walk. She must have learned how to be stealthy from a dog. I would teach her better, but that would be annoying. Plus, it is more convenient this way. No need to listen hard to figure out where she is. I curl tighter into my ball, closing my eye again. I'm almost back to sleep when I hear that hideous noise: "FEESH! Hun-nee!" What possessed her to think "feesh" was a good nickname for me? If she was going to call me something delicious, couldn't she at least pronounce it correctly, "fish" instead of "feesh"? She's no better than a kitten.

It is laughable, though, that she thinks she's whispering. The other humans must be deaf not to hear her.

"There you are, my love!" a hand musses up my fur before I have a chance to turn around, as the couch cushion next to me sinks. She's faster than I thought she would be. But then, it's only because I'm still practically asleep. I open my eye again. There she is, smiling that smile which means danger. Sure enough, as she pulls me onto her lap, I see the disgusting pill in her other hand.

My mouth is open and it's going down my throat before I can claw my way free. Bleugh! It tastes awful, like that time I licked my fur after going through some cobwebs. Bitter and sticky. I glare at her as she proceeds to run her hand over my fur. It was clean. "There, now you sleep until it's time to eat."

I'd scratch her, but that would be rude. Although as she continues to hold me, the temptation is strong. I squirm, and she finally gets the hint and deposits me back into my nice warm spot. As she gets up and heads into the kitchen, I consider chasing after her to bite her ankle. But it's not worth the trouble. I'll trip her later when she's getting my food ready.

I curl back into my spot, but now the blanket is messed up. I claw at it until it's adequate, and lay back down. She'll leave me alone for an hour now, before she comes back with my food. I run my tongue over my paw. I'll sleep again. But I'll need another bath first.

To learn more about why MeMe needs medicine, you can check out this post I wrote on my other blog.


Thursday, February 9, 2017

Book Excerpt: Thorn Changer Chapter Five Part Four, Last One!

If you missed Part OnePart Two or Part Three of Chapter Five, go ahead and follow the links. Today, I'm posting the last part of Chapter Five, a very short scene. This completes the sample chapters I'll be posting for Thorn Changer. However, please read through to the end of the post, because that announcement I promised Monday is coming up.😊

If you want to see the copyright/disclaimer page, go to the Amazon page and click on the picture of Thorn Changer for the Look Inside option, and scroll up (this also gives you a chance to see the beautiful detail of the cover).


* * *

Excerpt from Thorn Changer by Christy Reed 


Skey swung her feet, kicking the leg of the bench, as she waited for the cook to finish her mutterings about “no-good vagabonds” and “feed bags with a dozen holes for every inch” and bring her the bowl of stew she so grudgingly ladled out. Her stomach was complaining, gnawing at itself. It didn’t like its long fast. It’d been three days now since she’d eaten anything but some wild berries she’d found growing on a bramble bush by the roadside. Raspberries, she would’ve said they were, save that it was too late in the year. Whatever they were, there’d been far too few of them. Skey wished the cook would be as fast in getting that stew over to her as she was in using her tongue.
“It appears you’re not too fond of minstrels,” she made an attempt at a joke, as with a sour look the woman set the bowl before her. “Is it the sound of their voice grating along on notes? Or their harp strings tuned ten years ago?”
“It’s the way they fill their bellies as though eating for ten or twelve.” The cook scowled. “You’re all alike. Nothing but empty sieves.”
Skey laughed, as she dipped her spoon into the bowl. What an old fool. The steamy smell of vegetables and beef rising from the stew made her even hungrier. “It certainly feels that way sometimes. Either I’ll be feeding my belly, or else it’ll be eating itself.” She grinned at her, “But maybe it looks that way to you because your cooking smells so good. If you’d cook worse, I think you might solve the problem.”
The woman blushed. Yes, those charm lessons did come in handy. “But if you’ve a troublesome lover,” she continued, “you might get rid of him just as easily. I’ve no experience, but they say the way to change a man’s heart’s to change your cooking. But if it fails, it’s nothing some hot spice can’t take care of. Or some hemlock.”
The kitchen woman laughed. She gave Skey a playful box on the ear. “Aye, you’re not only a minstrel, but a scalawag as well. If I had the bad luck of being your mother, I’d be driven well-nigh frantic by you.”
The warm stew in her mouth was cold and tasteless. She forced herself to swallow. “Aye, you would’ve been,” she said, as the cook went off to tend her pots. She sighed. “My own mother couldn’t handle it.”


* * *


That's the end of Chapter Five. I hope you enjoyed it. For right now, Thorn Changer is available exclusively on Amazon. Feel free to share this excerpt, just please include all text between the asterisks (* * *), as well as a link to Thorn Changer's Amazon page. This will give your viewers a link to where they can purchase Thorn Changer if they're interested. Thanks.

Okay, so my announcement: right now, Thorn Changer is on sale on Amazon for 99¢. If you want to snag a copy at this price, head on over to Amazon. This sale will only last around a week.


Thank you so much for reading these chapters. I hope you found them interesting!

Next week, I'll return to posting once a week on Thursdays. 


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Book Excerpt: Thorn Changer Chapter Five Part Three

If you missed Part One or Part Two, go ahead and follow the links. Today, I'm posting Chapter Five Part Three of Thorn Changer

If you want to see the copyright/disclaimer page, go to the Amazon page and click on the picture of Thorn Changer for the Look Inside option, and scroll up (this also gives you a chance to see the beautiful detail of the cover).



* * *

Excerpt from Thorn Changer by Christy Reed 


“Yes, yes, I believe so,” Sieku laughed at Lord Gredlo’s comment. “The minstrels have been keeping Foaie at a standstill, or so I hear. Hopefully His Majesty will figure out how to defeat the Iezomen for good soon.”
“My lady?” she heard a voice at her elbow.
Sieku looked at her steward. “Yes? What is it?”
“Forgive me for the interruption, but would you care to have the minstrel play now? She’s quite ready to do my lady’s bidding.”
Sieku smiled. It would never do to admit she had eavesdropped. “Ah, so you did find a minstrel? And a woman, at that?”
“No, my lady…she’s but a child. But her skill makes up for it.”
“Are you sure she’s good?” She laughed, “I can’t have a bad singer. You know the talk it’d make.”
He shook his head. She smothered a giggle. What if it rattled loose from his neck… “No, no, no, my lady. I assure you she plays well. Very well. She may even rival Farer.”
“Well, then, she must be skilled.” To hear a minstrel besides Farer, after all this time… “Yes, I believe we’re quite ready for some music,” looking around to the guests. “Would you care to hear the minstrel now, or shall we wait a while longer?”
Many nods went around the room. “Yes indeed, whenever you wish is fine,” Lady Meyka said, closing her fan. “I would like to hear a minstrel’s voice after so many weeks.”
Sieku turned back to the steward with a smile. “Very well, you’ve heard the decision. Fetch this young minstrel of yours.”
The doors of the great hall opened. All was silent as a yellow-haired girl walked into the room, and straight to her.
So this was the minstrel. The steward wasn’t exactly right when he called her a child. Though she wasn’t grown up either. Around fifteen, sixteen, she’d say. The girl gave a sweeping bow, and looked up at Sieku with confident green eyes. The kind of eyes she’d always imagined the fae had. “Greetings, my lady. Am I to have the pleasure of playing for you and this merry company tonight?”
Sieku laughed. She liked politeness in a minstrel. “Yes, indeed.”
The lass straightened up. “Very well. Tell me, what shall I play for the pleasure of my lady’s ears?”
Such good court manners. It was like she had spent years as a royal minstrel. “How about ‘The Chalice of Nairve’?” Sieku took her chair at the head table. Gredlo and Meyka sat on either side of her, as the peasants in the great hall followed suit.
The girl dropped to one knee before her table. “If that’s my lady’s pleasure.” Her fingers glided over the strings. She bowed her head. In a low clear voice, she began:
“Many tales have been told
Of Zennure, and the cup of gold,
The treasure of the glad fairies,
Not for men’s eyes to see,
The Chalice of Nairve.

Her father a shepherd,
She watched the flock, as a small bird
Sung softly, sweetly in a tree.
There appeared a lady
Shroud in fine misty gray.

She tried to run away.
The lady said, ‘Don’t be afraid.
I need your help to find something
Dearer than anything
Any tongue’s words can say.’

‘What, Lady?’ Zennure asked.
‘If I can, I’ll complete this task.’
The lady told her the whole tale
Of that cup of gold pale.
And Zennure didn’t stay.

She started out to find
The cup whose tale was in her mind.
It is too long to tell of here,
But by hill and stream clear
She made her winding way.

At the cave said to hold
That Chalice of such lovely gold.
A fierce dragon stood on guard,
With sharp fangs and scales hard,
Keeping Zennure away.

She charmed it with a song
Of spring, and summer days so long.
The dragon sighed, and fell asleep.
Zennure softly did creep,
And took that of Nairve.

She came back, but she found
The lady was nowhere around.
She couldn’t find her anywhere.
So she watched with it there,
The Chalice of Nairve.”
The words faded away, as the girl ran her fingers once again over the strings, and was silent. Sieku sat still, and didn’t say a word, though many cheers went up from every side of the room. The child told it almost as if she had been there, had lived through the legend. Never had she heard it so well told. She gazed down at the girl as she tuned her strings and brushed off an imaginary speck of dust. Maybe she was fae, after all.
It was just a song, couldn’t be real, yet she couldn’t help asking every time she heard it. “What ever happened to them? What became of Zennure, and the lady?”
The girl looked up, and smiled. “I don’t know. But I hope the lady returned one day, and took Zennure back with her to her fair kingdom.”
Was that bitterness she detected? Why? She peered closer at her. Where did this girl come from, anyway? She didn’t quite look Beolkin or Mekain…
“Now, Seili,” the steward’s voice cut into her thoughts, “sing that song you sung earlier. You know, about the tear. You’re certain to be pleased with this one, my lady,” he turned to Sieku.
She sighed to herself, and nodded to the girl. She would have to ponder this all out later. Seili ran her fingers over the strings:
“But a drop, but a tear,
But a second in a year.
But what things are revealed
In naught more than a tear…”


* * *



That's the end of Chapter Five Part Three. I hope you enjoyed it. For right now, Thorn Changer is available exclusively on Amazon. Feel free to share this excerpt, just please include all text between the asterisks (* * *), as well as a link to Thorn Changer's Amazon page. This will give your viewers a link to where they can purchase Thorn Changer if they're interested. Thanks.

Chapter Five Part Four will be available tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Book Excerpt: Thorn Changer Chapter Five Part Two

If you missed Part One, go ahead and follow the link. Today, I'm posting Chapter Five Part Two of Thorn Changer

If you want to see the copyright/disclaimer page, go to the Amazon page and click on the picture of Thorn Changer for the Look Inside option, and scroll up (this also gives you a chance to see the beautiful detail of the cover).


* * *

Excerpt from Thorn Changer by Christy Reed 


The steward rubbed his chin as Skey finished speaking. He ran his eyes over her torn clothes. “Well, you certainly won’t do like that. But you know the songs Lady Sieku loves.” He snapped his fingers. “We’ll soon put all to rights,” he continued as a maid entered. “New clothes can be part of the pay. The rest, say two silver coins, plus dinner and a bed afterwards?”
Skey nodded. Nobles paid more, too. But then that was to be expected. After all, hadn’t the emperor paid her well until she was thrown in prison? “Deal. But wouldn’t you like a sample of my music first?” She smiled, “Free, of course.”
The steward smiled as well. “Yes, indeed. You’re rather sensible for a minstrel.”
Skey smiled to herself. Yes, she still remembered Zeino’s charm lessons. Too bad they hadn’t been able to get her out of the Tower. She strummed her harp gently. “What do you wish?”
The steward glanced at the great clock in the hall. “How about the… No, that’d never do… Maybe the ‘Song…,’ no, too long…”
Skey smiled. She knew just the song. “Would you like me to choose for you?”
He sighed, and nodded. “Very well,” he leaned back against the wall, “play something. Preferably not common.”
“Most certainly not. I only sing tales fitting of the ones attending at such grand occasions.” Her fingers glided over the strings, changing the tune to one richer and fuller:
“But a drop, but a tear,
But a second in a year.
But what things are revealed
In naught more than a tear.
A revealer of woe,
Cold as ice, and as snow.
What the heart longs to know
Not at all: such is woe.
A revealer of rage,
Of a war which you wage
Within your soul. On the page
Of your life: such is rage.
A revealer of fear,
Of the darkness creeping near,
Or of the flame that’ll sear
What it can: such is fear.
A revealer of love,
White and pure as the dove.
A tender mother’s gentle shove
From all harm, such is love.
But a drop, but a tear,
But a second in a year.
But what things are revealed
In naught more than a tear.”
As the last notes faded, the steward was silent. She studied the strings. Didn’t he like it? There was no way he couldn’t have. Hadn’t she spent almost four years playing for Emperor Rokiye?
“Well,” he said slowly. “I’ve never heard anything like it. What skill, what grace, what beauty.” Skey looked up. He stared at her. “Lady Sieku will be pleased.” Something clattered in the hall. He shook his head. “Now, then, back to business. What would your name happen to be?”
Skey froze a moment. Should she tell her name, with Cinote looking for her? “I call myself Seili.” She stood up. “Shall I go prepare myself for the party?”
“Oh, yes.” He waved to the maid still standing there. “You’d best go right away. I believe we’ve some clothes that’d fit you.” He turned to the maid. “Take her to the tailor. Make sure she’s ready in thirty minutes.”
He looked back at Skey. “She’ll take care of you. I’ll see you afterward, to give you the money. Forgive me for my rudeness, but I really must go to greet my lady’s guests.”
Skey smiled. Those silver coins would come in handy if she ended up taking a ship to Mekai or Friiakan. And maybe there would be more… “Certainly, Lord Steward.”




* * *


That's the end of Chapter Five Part Two. I hope you enjoyed it. For right now, Thorn Changer is available exclusively on Amazon. Feel free to share this excerpt, just please include all text between the asterisks (* * *), as well as a link to Thorn Changer's Amazon page. This will give your viewers a link to where they can purchase Thorn Changer if they're interested. Thanks.

Chapter Five Part Three will be available tomorrow.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Book Excerpt: Thorn Changer Chapter Five Part One

Last week, I posted Chapter Four Part OnePart Two, and Part Three of Thorn Changer. This week, I'll be posting Chapter Five. This is the last chapter I'll be posting. This chapter consists of shorter scenes than the other chapter, so each of the four posts will be short. I'll post them today through Thursday (when I'll have a special announcement, so please make sure you read Thursday's post). 

If you want to see the copyright/disclaimer page, go to the Amazon page and click on the picture of Thorn Changer for the Look Inside option, and scroll up (this also gives you a chance to see the beautiful detail of the cover).


* * *

Excerpt from Thorn Changer by Christy Reed 


CHAPTER FIVE



Sieku paused a moment and turned to the door, her brush poised to make another pass through her hair. “I was sure I heard something,” she murmured, as only silence sounded in the hall. “Surely it wasn’t—”
Thump. “There it is again,” she rose from her chair. “I’m definitely not hearing things. What could it be?”
She slipped to the door, and bent her head to the key hole. There was hurried whispering outside, “They’re supposed to be here any minute.”
“But we can’t have the party without a minstrel. You know that my lady loves to listen to their tales more than anything else. She didn’t say find one, but you know it’s always been understood that we were to.”
“What can we do?” her steward replied. “It’s almost the hour. There’s no time. We’ll just have to make do with the rest.”
Someone sighed. “I know, but Lady Sieku loves the tales so much… I hate to disappoint her.”
“I wish we could’ve found one for her, but with the Iezomen, the king sent most of them to the border. Wandering minstrels are rare in these times.”
Both voices hushed as footsteps came down the corridor. “Steward, there’s a lass downstairs wanting to see you. Says something about being a minstrel.”
“Ah, wonderful. Tell the lass I’ll be down shortly. Ask her if she knows ‘The Chalice of Nairve.’ It’s one of Her Ladyship’s favorites.”
A giggle. “I believe she does. When I left, she was humming it.”
The voices died away, as footsteps sounded down the hall. Sieku went back to her chair. She began to brush her hair again. “So there’s a minstrel not at the borders after all.” She studied her reflection in the mirror. “I didn’t expect there to be any so close to Miagulo Castle, not with Farer around. I hope she’s not a deserter.”
No, that was silly. All of the minstrels placed at the border knew the seriousness of their duty. And no deserter would dare come so close to the seat of the kingdom. Each one knew the penalty…
Her hand stopped. She placed the brush back in its place, and began to braid the locks next to her face, pulling them back and braiding them together down her back. She turned to view her handiwork in the mirror. “Perfect. It was a good thing I watched Meilee so often. Now I can do it while she’s ill, poor dear.”
She applied a tinge of pink to her lips, a slight bit of powder to her face, and dabbed on some perfume. She rose from her chair, and straightened the skirt of her pale silver gown. “There,” as she surveyed herself in her mirror. “That’ll do. It’s an informal party, after all.”
She sighed. Not all of her guests would be there. “It’s too bad they can’t come. But what they’re doing is important.” She smiled. She’d known the king since childhood, and his nephew since he was a baby. “Ah, they’re a funny pair, to be sure. Kotua is so much like his uncle was at his age. Oh well,” turning toward the door, “maybe next time.”


* * *



That's the end of Chapter Five Part One. I hope you enjoyed it. For right now, Thorn Changer is available exclusively on Amazon. Feel free to share this excerpt, just please include all text between the asterisks (* * *), as well as a link to Thorn Changer's Amazon page. This will give your viewers a link to where they can purchase Thorn Changer if they're interested. Thanks.

Chapter Five Part Two will be available tomorrow.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

2017 Book Challenge, January Update!

Today I'm sharing an update on my reading challenge. I'll list the books, and give a short review of each one (except the Chronicles of Narnia series, which I'll group together).

Here's the books I read:


Fantasy

1. Chronicles of Narnia, entire series, by C. S. Lewis

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Prince Caspian
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
The Silver Chair
The Magician's Nephew
The Horse and His Boy
The Last Battle

Rating for all seven books: ****

This series follows the adventures of various children from our world who visit the land of Narnia, a strange and magical place created by a lion named Aslan. If you've never heard of the series, it's loosely an allegory based on Christianity, with Aslan representing Jesus Christ.

I've read this series several times since I was a kid. While the story reads like it was written for 8-11 year-olds, I still like it very much as an adult. The books I have are all old editions (from the 1970s, but I believe the text itself wasn't changed from the original for each book), and so they do use a few words which we consider mild swear words. I have never read a newer edition, so the publishers may have updated the language to reflect our times.


2. The Dragonfly Prophecy, by Jacquelyn Castle

Rating **

Even though she has been ill and keeps having these horrid dreams about dragon flies, Lexi is excited to see William again. Her boyfriend she met during her year studying abroad in Great Britain, William is coming to the States for the summer. But as her falling and fainting spells grow worse, she finds out her life is not quite as perfect as she once thought.

Although I found the plot interesting, I just never grew to like Lexi. There would be parts in the book where she would go on about how wonderful she was, phrasing it as "not bragging," but at the same time she would be very immature or stupid while she bragged about being incredibly smart. The story also had a love triangle between her and two guys who just both seemed too good to be true, who both adored her and put up with whatever childish thing she did (so maybe they were the idiots?). Throughout the book, Lexi stays as immature as always, despite her struggles (though most were very superficial). I feel this whole book could be summed up like this: immature, supposedly brilliant girl has to choose between two boys who each declare their undying love for her, coddle her in even her most ridiculous moments, and constantly stoke her ego while she accomplishes tasks and learns new skills with disgustingly little effort.

Did I mention that she lives with a filthy rich aunt, who spoils her at every moment? And that one of the guys who adores her is some super-powerful gifted one?

It was a nice little read, but Ms. Castle should've taken more time to develop the story, and especially work on her main character. What started out as an intriguing story was overwhelmed with cliches and references that didn't make much sense, not to mention a protagonist that you wanted to see fail. And even though the end finally explains about the dragon flies, it still didn't make sense to me why Lexi was dreaming of them.


Historical Fiction

3. Love Then Begins, by Gail McEwen and Tina Moncton

Rating: *

I didn't finish this book. I read the first book in this series, and really liked it (it reminded me of Jane Austen's novels), and thought I would enjoy the second one. However, while the first one was a sweet story about two people falling in love, this book read like erotica or a porno, with explicit sex scenes I wish I'd been warned about (I must confess, though, I went back on Amazon and found out erotica is one of the categories it's listed under, but when the first book had barely a lewd reference this total lack of decorum left me quite shocked). Granted, they're a married couple, but still, shouldn't some stuff be left to the reader's imagination? Nothing was. I tried skipping past, but with another "amorous moment" happening between them every few pages, the story lost all appeal to me. I wish the authors had kept the same style they had used in writing the first book.


Nonfiction

4. Worn Stories, by Emily Spivack

Rating ***

This was a cute, short book where different men and women talked about a piece of clothing they owned and why it was special to them. It was interesting getting these little glimpses into their lives: a favorite memory of a parent, persevering through tough times, saying goodbye to a boyfriend/girlfriend, etc.

5. Wear No Evil*, by Greta Eagan

Rating *****

If you have been seeking a way to buy clothes that are kinder to the earth and to the people who make them, this is the book. A fashionista by birth and training, Eagan has provided numerous resources to help you be stylish while "greening up" your wardrobe, as well as detailed reasons why you should care. Although many of the companies she recommends are rather pricey, and her description of what you should have in your wardrobe is probably overkill for all of us but the most dedicated style lovers, she gives good tips on how to shop, and also provides some companies which are not super expensive and a lengthy list of resources. Sadly, she's decided not to keep up her fashion blog, which made me really sad, but the book is a wonderful guide.


Horror

6. Sanctum, by Madeleine Roux

Rating ****

The sequel to Asylum, Dan visits his former roommate who tried to kill him the summer previous, and is sent on a quest back to Brookline to continue unraveling the mystery behind it.

I enjoyed it, but the horror aspect was almost too much for me. I feel like this was a little darker than the first book. While a good sequel (which is hard to do, so I applaud her on her success), it left too many loose ends that were never resolved. There are some swear words FYI.

7. Catacomb*, by Madeleine Roux

Rating: ***

The sequel to Sanctum, Dan, Abby, and Jordan road trip down to New Orleans, where Jordan will attend college and live with his uncle. But they discover someone following them on their journey. And when they arrive in New Orleans, things take a sinister turn.

While a good story on its own, it didn't work as a sequel. Instead, it felt like something Ms. Roux tacked on at the end, trying to get another book out of the series. A lot of new information is brought in, which wasn't even hinted at in the first two books. In all fairness, the front cover does call it "an Asylum novel" instead of a sequel, but I think it would have been better off as the beginning of a new series involving Dan and his friends, or even just a standalone book. Like Sanctum, I felt it left a lot of questions unanswered. There are some swear words FYI.

8. Escape From Asylum, by Madeleine Roux

Rating: ***

This book tells of Brookline in the 1960s, when Ricky is sent to be a patient after a series of disagreements with his mom and her husband leads to him attacking his step dad. Having been to other asylums, he thinks it will be easy to get out, until he learns that Warden Crawford has a special experiment in mind for him.

While a really good story depicting the horrors of Brookline in its active days, parts of it didn't fit. Ricky keeps seeing things, and the story never really explains why (they're not all ghosts, because one person is still alive). It makes you wonder if he wasn't sent there only because he's bisexual, but because he hallucinates. However, the book never mentions him seeing things before coming to Brookline. There are some swear words FYI.


Total read: 13.

Unfinished: 1.

I did better than I thought I would in January, although the Chronicles of Narnia books are very short. Maybe I will be able to read 52 this year.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Do you agree or disagree with my ratings? Let me know in the comments.

I also left the reviews for all of these on GoodReads.

*For the sake of brevity, I have not included the subtitles of these books.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Book Excerpt: Thorn Changer Chapter Four Part Three

If you missed Chapter Four Part One or Part Two of Thorn Changer, go ahead and follow the links. Today, I'm posting Part Three. This is the last scene in Chapter Four. If you want to see the copyright/disclaimer page, go to the Amazon page and click on the picture of Thorn Changer for the Look Inside option, and scroll up (this also gives you a chance to see the beautiful detail of the cover).


* * *

Excerpt from Thorn Changer by Christy Reed 


He pulled his cloak over his head, snapping the cord that fastened at the neck. He cast it to the ground as he turned and surveyed the group of soldiers that had appeared in the great hall behind him.
More than four-fifths of the men with the long jagged scars down the left side of their faces had made it back with him.
Most of them had wounds that, thanks to the power of the Iezo, would heal quickly.
All of them would be ready for battle within a week.
All of them were brainless fools.
The fabric tore under his boot as he ground the cloak into the stone. He’d failed. Again. Any other kingdom he’d gone against, the city had crumbled within days. But now he had been forced to flee, and not by a king, but by a mere scrap of a lad.
“Your bones will feed my dogs yet, whelp,” he muttered.
He should have brought more power, drove these soldiers harder. It wore them out faster, but they could recover. If these pathetic creatures could actually think for themselves, instead of merely being mounds of fleshy pawns, they would have spotted and attacked the minstrel themselves.
He smiled. But maybe the defeat was worth it this time. After all, he’d finally caught her. After Foaie had been trying to for so many years. Even Naircre hadn’t been able to find the girl. “They will be pleased,” he murmured, waving his hand behind him. “To your guard posts. Bar any intruders.”
He didn’t need to look behind him to know the soldiers moved as one. He could tell from the tramp of their boots that they turned and headed to the doors in unison, working their way through like water through a narrow stream. They would surround the wall, stopping intruders from entering. The captains would watch them from there. It was convenient that these brainless creatures didn’t need the same rest and nourishment those not under the Iezo’s power did.
He strode through the hall to the doors in the back. He shoved them open. The room behind was really more like a wide corridor than a room. Doors stood directly across from the ones he had just passed through, leading into Foaie’s private chambers. The walls here were shelves piled with scrolls. A small, lean man, his head shiny and hairless, sat behind a desk scratching letters onto parchment with a goose quill pen. Sodoma stomped up to him, slamming both hands down on the wood. “Where’s Foaie?”
The man looked up, and raised an eyebrow, his green eyes smirking. “In quite a temper, aren’t we? Are you sure you wouldn’t rather see him when you’ve figured out an excuse for this failure?”
He scowled. If there was someone he hated more than the idiot who sat on Miagulo’s throne, it was Jekgaul. “I asked where he was, scribe. I don’t need your nonsense.”
Jekgaul’s lip curled. “Very well. He is in there. Don’t expect him to be happy with your news though.”
Sodoma ignored him, giving the desk a vicious shove and almost upsetting the ink bottle as he strode toward the doors. He knocked, his fist making the doors sound hollow.
“Enter.”
Even though he’d expected it, something still ran a cold knife through him when he heard the voice. He eased the door open, and scowled at Jekgaul’s smirk as he stepped inside.
The room itself wasn’t out of place in an old castle. Tapestries hung over the walls, depicting some old legends about the Beolkins. Some he recognized from the stories his sister used to tell him and his brother, hiding under the covers in her bed, trying not to hear the wails of his mother. Others he had slowly learned as he went through Beolki, destroying city after city. The furniture was all old and carved from mahogany and oak, good solid wood that lasts lifetimes after the carvers are dust in the earth.
It was the cloaked figure staring out the window that caused another shiver to run through his belly.
He fell to one knee, and bowed his head. “My liege, I am here.”
“Excellent,” the cloak rustled, as Foaie turned around. Sodoma swallowed, and forced himself to look up into the red eyes of his master.
Foaie smiled, his almost-transparent skin stretching around almost transparent teeth. His white hair fell to his waist, partly falling over his left cheek, the cheek Sodoma knew the Friiakans had burned the paw print off long ago. “Now, my general,” with a wave of his hand motioning him to rise, “what news of Mokayi?”
Sodoma got to his feet, a scowl taking over his face. “My lord, we were driven from the city. That accursed brat prince has gotten better in the game of war. Even with the dark hawks, we were powerless against the song.”
“Song?” Foaie raised a pure white eyebrow. “Mokayi had no minstrel. Our spy made sure of that. Didn’t you attack unawares?”
Sodoma scowled. “Yes, my lord. But somehow they sent word to the castle. A messenger was spotted by my men. The idiots must’ve let him escape.”
Foaie turned to the window. Sodoma bit his lip hard to keep from shouting. To keep it from quivering. The strange Friiakan was always the eeriest when he was angry. Unlike others, unlike his own father, Foaie would never explode. His anger was more like a cobra…swift, silent.
Dangerous.
“It’s disappointing,” Foaie finally said, looking back at him. “I didn’t think you of all people would fail me so many times.”
Sodoma dropped to one knee, his head bowed. “It won’t happen again, Sire. Next time the prince and I meet, he’ll rue it to his grave.”
“If he doesn’t then meet it, if I know you correctly, Sodoma,” Foaie smiled at him.
Sodoma looked up, and grinned. “My lord knows the ways of his servant very well.” The Friiakan was right. If he had his way, there wouldn’t be enough left of the prince to feed the valley vultures.
“But, my lord, to make up for my blunder, I caught the lass.”
Foaie started, and then smiled. “Where is she?” he beckoned him to rise.
Sodoma did so, allowing himself a smile. Skey’s capture would more than make up for his blunders. “In your dungeons. Brainless lass walked right into my camp.”
Foaie smiled. “Guards.” Two soldiers, long scars running down their faces, entered. Foaie waved at them. “Fetch me the prisoner.”
The soldiers bowed, and went out. Foaie looked at Sodoma, interest in his eyes. “How did you manage to catch her? I admit, she managed to escape me only days ago.”
Sodoma smirked. “My Maenian father may have been a worthless drunk, but at least he taught me some of his magic.”
“Ah, yes,” Foaie almost purred. “I remember. The man who used to beat you, and starve you. The one Naircre saved you from.”
The bitter taste filled his mouth again. He could still feel the clammy coldness of his sister’s hands, see the glassy sheen of his mother’s glazed-over eyes… “Aye. He got what he deserved.”
A knock sounded. The taste faded, as Sodoma smiled. The guards were back with Skey. Foaie turned to the door, the tips of his canine teeth showing through his colorless lips. “Enter.”
The soldiers entered. One held a cloak in his hand. There was no sign of Skey.
Sodoma bit his lip. Either the disk was weakening, or something was terribly wrong.
Foaie frowned. “Well? Where is she?”
Sodoma snatched the cloak away. Orange glimmered on it, and a few sparkling flecks fell to the floor. “Confound it. She wiped the seal off. This is her cloak.”
Foaie folded his arms, and tapped his fingers against his arm. “Well, my general, it appears even with Naircre’s strength your magic is not omnipotent. Where do you suppose she is?”
Sodoma threw the cloak on the ground, and stomped on it. “The brat could be anywhere by now. With that skill of hers, she could have gone all the way to Friiakan or Mekai.”
“No, she couldn’t have. Not yet, anyway.”
Sodoma looked back at him. Why was Foaie smiling? Uneasiness pricked at his stomach again. “My lord?”
“Don’t think you were the only one working, Sodoma. I too have seen our elusive little friend. She is wounded, and her Arilian habits won’t let her survive in Beolki’s cold. She’ll be looking for a nice warm castle to hide away in until spring. And we both know what she’ll be posing as.”
Sodoma smiled slowly. Foaie returned it. “Yes, my general. I will send out my spies. Tell Gerto he will lead the army in your absence. Ready yourself. It’s time you did some treasure hunting. Starting with a visit to our dear friend Prince Kotua.”


* * *



That's the end of Chapter Four Part Three. I hope you enjoyed it. For right now, Thorn Changer is available exclusively on Amazon. Feel free to share this excerpt, just please include all text between the asterisks (* * *), as well as a link to Thorn Changer's Amazon page. This will give your viewers a link to where they can purchase Thorn Changer if they're interested. Thanks.

Chapter Five Part One will be available on Monday.