blog tour, books

Blog Tour: Median Gray – Bill Mesce Jr*

“Smart, gritty, and authentic, Median Gray delivers a crackling tale complete with complex and damaged characters, and a keen eye for what cops know and think.” -– SFPD Sgt. Adam Plantinga, author of 400 Things Cops Know and Police Craft.

At a time when New York’s mean streets were their meanest, one NYPD detective at the end of his career takes one last chance to correct a 20-year-old injustice, and another cop at the beginning of his career tries to stop him before a police department already scarred by corruption investigations takes another hit.

“Mesce takes you on a blistering ride-along down mean New York streets with the most irreverent detectives this side of Richard Price. And with dialogue so true it feels wire-tapped; Price had better watch his back. This one’s a winner.” –David Breckman, co-executive producer of TV’s Monk and The Good Cop.

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Amazon

Bill Mesce, Jr. is an author, screenwriter, and playwright living in New Jersey.

His first professional writing gig was the product of a screenwriting contest landing him an uncredited stint on Brian DePalma’s 1981 political thriller, BLOW OUT. Since then he has worked on a number of film projects, including the 1998 feature ROAD ENDS which was screened at a number film festivals.

Another writing contest led to his award-winning one-act play “A Good Kid,” which, in turn kicked off a series of related one-acts which were eventually rolled into his first full-length stage effort, A JERSEY CANTATA.

And yet again, a writing contest brought him his first published credit, the critically-acclaimed WW II drama, THE ADVOCATE. Since then, he has turned out a range of work from academic studies to literary short fiction and including several well-received sequels to THE ADVOCATE.

From 2010 to 2017, he was an adjunct instructor at several colleges and universities in New Jersey. He now teaches screenwriting at the University of Maine at Farmington.

Willow River Press

It’s not like he’s going to go hunting down those dark halls and stairways after the perp, that’d be stupid, that’d be fucking insane. He’s just going to find McInerney, keep him company until the ambulance gets there, maybe he can do some First Aid; maybe he can do… something. Anything.
He unsnaps the restraining strap on his holster and pulls out the .38, and he’s surprised at how light that pound and a half of steel feels, not tugging at his hand the way it does on the firing range at Rodman’s Neck, but popping clear of the leather like it’s on a spring because he’s got so much adrenaline going through him he could spin a Mack truck on his finger.
He steps through the foyer and into the must-and-cabbage smell of the hallway. It’s hot and close in there, he wonders why there are no fucking lights.
“I’m coming, Mac,” he says moving slowly down the hall, straining his ears, trying to find shapes in the dark.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books

Blog Tour: The Great Devil War Book Three – The Wrongful Death – Kenneth B. Andersen


An unfortunate chain of events makes Philip responsible for the untimely death of the school bully Sam—the Devil’s original choice for an heir. Philip must return to Hell to find Sam and bring him back to life, so that fate can be restored. But trouble is stirring in Lucifer’s kingdom and not even Philip can imagine the strange and dark journey that awaits him. A journey that will take him through ancient underworlds and all the way to Paradise.

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I WAS BORN IN DENMARK ON A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT IN NOVEMBER 1976 …

… and I began writing when I was a teenager. My first book was a really awful horror novel titled Nidhug’s Slaves. It didn’t get published. Luckily.

During the next 7 years, I wrote nearly 20 novels–all of which were rejected–while working as a school teacher. The rest of the time I spent writing.

In 2000 I published my debut fantasy book, The Battle of Caïssa, and that’s when things really took off. Since then I’ve published more than thirty-five books for children and young adults in genres ranging from fantasy to horror and science fiction.

My books have been translated into more than 15 languages and my series about the superhero Antboy has been adapted for film, which is available on Netflix. An animated tv series is currently in development.

A musical of The Devil’s Apprentice opened in the fall 2018 and the movie rights for the series have also been optioned.

I live in Copenhagen with my wife, two boys, a dog named Milo and spiders in the basement.

About THE GREAT DEVIL WAR: The Great Devil War was published in Denmark from 2005-2016, beginning with The Devil’s Apprentice.

Even though the story (mostly) takes place in Hell and deals with themes like evil, death and free will, it is also a humoristic tale about good and evil seen from a different perspective. A tale that hopefully will make the reader – young or old, boy or girl – laugh and think.

Welcome to the other side!

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The Garden of Eden

The darkness of night turned into the light of morning, and although Philip did what Lucifer recommended and pulled his hood over his eyes, he was momentarily dazzled by the light. Slowly his eyes grew accustomed to the change, and out of the blinding whiteness, the Garden of Eden emerged in all its splendor.

Philip felt something pulling at his soul, even though all he saw was an ordinary forest. That’s because it wasn’t just an ordinary forest.

Not at all.

First of all there were the colors. The green moss that lay like a thick carpet on the floor. The blooming flowers. The luscious tree canopy overhead and fruits hanging in bunches. The sky that was more blue than Philip had ever seen. The sunlight that fell between the leaves in warm streams of gold.

Secondly there were the smells. So many, and so clear, that Philip became dizzy and had to hold onto Satina so he didn’t stumble.

Then there were the sounds. A storm of bird songs, monkey cries, and distant, thundering waterfalls, and yet… quiet, so quiet.

Then, to top it off, the atmosphere—the feeling of the place… It carried him off his feet. The forest, the air, it inspired a feeling of pure joy that Philip had never known before. It made the hair on his arms rise with delight and made his heart, yes, his very soul, feel like laughing. It felt like… Well, like he was in Heaven.

“Horrible place, right?” Lucifer said, closing the door to the rock wall. “Too cold and much too bright in my opinion. Come on, it’s this way.”

Philip and Satina followed the Devil, who with long, decisive steps led them through the summer forest.

“We’re in Heaven,” Philip whispered as he heard the mild breeze softly stirring the leaves in the canopies overhead. “I can’t believe it. We’re in Heaven!”

“Not quite,” Lucifer corrected. “It’s merely the earthly Paradise that lies between Earth and Heaven. This is where the saved souls go after they die. They help tend the garden.”

Between Earth and Heaven?” Philip said, confused. “I thought you went to Heaven when you died. If you’re good, that is.”

“No. You get this far and no farther. I realize a lot of people think that, Philip. There are even more who think Paradise is about lying in a hammock all day and letting God’s angels attend to your every need. But it’s never been like that. It would quickly lead to many of the seven deadly sins—laziness, gluttony, and greed, just to name a few—and that doesn’t exactly harmonize well with this place. No, living in Paradise means hard work. Of course, it’s nothing compared to working conditions down where we are.”

“What is Heaven, then?”

“Heaven is home to Jehovah and the angels. The angels come to Paradise, but they don’t live there. They live in Empyrean, the city of light. It’s even worse than this place. It makes my eyes itch and my nose starts running like a faucet. I’m definitely more comfortable here.” Lucifer plucked a flame-red rose, and it immediately lost its color and shriveled up. He smelled it and tossed it aside, the now metallic-gray flower disintegrating to ash as it hit the ground. “I have some good memories from this place.”

There was a subtle snap on their right as something in the forest stepped on a branch.

Philip turned his head and froze in his tracks.

It was a tiger. It ran toward them, its giant paws soundlessly bounding through the forest, and its amber eyes locked on Satina, who hadn’t noticed the wild animal.

Watch out!” Philip shouted and pulled her toward him as the animal came bursting out of the brush, a cascade of yellow and black and teeth and claws.

“Philip, take it easy!” Beyond the rush of blood roaring in his ears, he heard Lucifer laughing. “It wouldn’t harm a fly.”

Fear turned into confusion and then amazement when he saw the tiger had stopped and just stood there, curiously watching them. Curious and…friendly?

“It won’t?” he muttered and let go of Satina. “Sorry, but I thought… Are you okay?”

She nodded.

“That’s what I’m saying, Philip. Paradise is a gruesome place. So sad and boring. Just look at this guy.” Lucifer walked over to the tiger and patted him on the back. “Tame as a lamb. Wild animals aren’t even wild here. In the afterlife they peacefully coexist.” The Devil sadly shook his head. “I get nauseous just thinking about it.”

Win a copy of the book here!

Organised by R&R Book Tours

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Blog Tour: Buried in my Past – Eva Mackenzie & Giveaway

Jamie Kendal sees life through the bottom of a bottle. After surviving assault and betrayal, she is forced back to her hometown to care for her mother. Not long after her return, she’s plagued by terrifying slivers of memories from the night her twin brother disappeared forever…

Unearthing new evidence, she’s shocked to learn she’d been found wandering in the woods that same night—covered in blood. More than one person from her past hid the haunting truth that’s bubbling to the surface. The deeper she digs into the horrors from her past, the more she fears almost anyone could be a killer, including Jamie herself.

Can Jamie expose what happened that night, or will she join her missing brother?

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Every night her mother fell asleep atop a deep, dark secret. A box containing a mystery wrapped in the blood of her twins.

She wasn’t a killer. That’s what she told Drew; that’s what she told herself. But now, sitting on the floor of her mothers’ room, she cradled evidence that suggested otherwise. And she had no memory for an alibi.

Eva Mackenzie is an author who enjoys twisty, emotionally engrossing tales. Her debut novel has been a work in progress for over a decade. Under the urging of a loved one, it’s finally finished.

She is a wife and mother living on the east coast. When she isn’t writing, she is spending time with her family, training for her next marathon or reading stacks of suspense novels. Some of her favorite authors are Minka Kent, Dean Koontz, Tami Hoag, and Lisa Jackson.

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Who’s ready for the ultimate giveaway?! Click the “>link to enter for your chance to win a brand new Kindle Oasis (32 GB/ WIFI) in Champagne Gold!


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Blog Tour: The Great Devil War Book Two:The Die of Death – Kenneth B. Andersen

Philip’s adventures as the Devil’s apprentice have changed him—in a good way. Although he misses his friends in Hell, he has made new friends in life. But when the future of the underworld is threatened once again, Philip’s help is needed. Death’s Die has been stolen and immortality is spreading across the globe. Philip throws himself into the search—and discovers a horrible truth about his own life along the way.Goodreads Amazon

I WAS BORN IN DENMARK ON A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT IN NOVEMBER 1976 …

… and I began writing when I was a teenager. My first book was a really awful horror novel titled Nidhug’s Slaves. It didn’t get published. Luckily.

During the next 7 years, I wrote nearly 20 novels–all of which were rejected–while working as a school teacher. The rest of the time I spent writing.

In 2000 I published my debut fantasy book, The Battle of Caïssa, and that’s when things really took off. Since then I’ve published more than thirty-five books for children and young adults in genres ranging from fantasy to horror and science fiction.

My books have been translated into more than 15 languages and my series about the superhero Antboy has been adapted for film, which is available on Netflix. An animated tv series is currently in development.

A musical of The Devil’s Apprentice opened in the fall 2018 and the movie rights for the series have also been optioned.

I live in Copenhagen with my wife, two boys, a dog named Milo and spiders in the basement.

About THE GREAT DEVIL WAR: The Great Devil War was published in Denmark from 2005-2016, beginning with The Devil’s Apprentice.

Even though the story (mostly) takes place in Hell and deals with themes like evil, death and free will, it is also a humoristic tale about good and evil seen from a different perspective. A tale that hopefully will make the reader – young or old, boy or girl – laugh and think.

Welcome to the other side!

Website Twitter Facebook Instagram

“Why did you bring me back?” Philip asked. “And why was it so difficult?”

Mortimer’s laughter stopped abruptly.

“Two questions with the same answer,” Death said, setting his coffee mug down. His hand shook faintly, Philip noticed. “Because the reason that you were able to stay alive as long as you did is the very reason that I’ve brought you here.” He sighed heavily and closed his eyes. Closed them for so long that Philip almost thought he’d fallen asleep. Then he opened his eyes again, slowly, and the gray eyes looked mournfully at Philip. “My die was stolen.”

“Your die?” Philip repeated, surprised, and automatically gazed at Mortimer’s chest, where the hundred-sided die should have hung from a silver necklace. One of the two great dice. Death’s die. The one that gave newborns their life-years. But there was no necklace. No die. “When?”

“About two weeks ago. At first, I thought I’d misplaced it, that I’d put it somewhere. I searched the entire house before I realized.”

“Realized what?” Satina asked.

“That the front door was ajar. Someone had been here. Someone had been here and had stolen my die while I slept.”

“Do you have any idea who it might be?”

Mortimer shook his head. “I have no clue. But it must be someone who knows me well. Knows my habits. I sleep just once a year, you see. On April thirty-first, when spring has arrived, Vita’s working overtime, and everything is in bloom. That’s when I get my deep sleep. You remember Vita, right Philip?”

Philip nodded. He remembered Vita very well. She was Mortimer’s sister. Philip had met her the last time he was in Hell. She was the one who brought him back to life. She was life.

Then it hit him, exactly what Mortimer had said, and he counted the months on his knuckles. January, February, March, April. No, there weren’t 31 days in April. And another thing…

“You said the die was stolen two weeks ago,” he said. “But half a year has passed since April?”

“For you, yes,” Death replied. “But time is different down here, remember.”

“Oh yeah,” Philip said, a little irritated for not figuring that out himself. Hadn’t he just determined there was no such thing as April 31st? Of course, time was different down here. Everything was different down here.

“This is a calamity!” The old man stood and began to pace the floor, shaking his head in despair. “Without my die, every child born in the world will be immortal. The consequences will be horrific for those poor people, who won’t have death to look forward to.”

“Death isn’t exactly something people look forward to, is it?” objected Philip cautiously.

Mortimer paused, staring at him. “Yes, it is,” he said in a voice verging on a snarl. “They just don’t know it.”

“I don’t understand.”

“And Lucifer said you were such a bright boy. But then again, he is the Father of Lies,” Death muttered. He moved to the window and looked out at the evening darkness as it sank swiftly across the bleak countryside. “Many people would say the same thing, Philip. That death is something terrible, a necessary evil best avoided.”

“Well… isn’t it?”

“No!” shouted Mortimer, startling both Philip and Satina. His old eyes sparkled. “I’m humanity’s greatest fear because there’s no greater fear than that of death. But that’s not the way it should be! The truth is, people don’t realize just how much they should appreciate me. Death isn’t an unfortunate consequence of life; on the contrary, Death is what makes life worth living. Men and women value only that which they might lose. Don’t you see? Without death, life is uninteresting and utterly meaningless.”

Philip didn’t entirely understand what Mortimer was saying. And yet… maybe he did. “It’s like what Lucifer said. Without evil there is no good. You can’t have one without the other. And the same goes for life and death?”

“Exactly!” Mortimer thrust out his arms. “Without death, the joy of life is killed by life itself! And that’s not even the worst of it. How would the world look in just fifty years? Think about all those poor wretches who’ve been seriously injured, but whose heart continues to beat. Victims of traffic accidents, of earthquakes, fires, floods. Terrible, terrible! The world would be populated by living corpses who wish for nothing more than the peace that comes with death, but their wishes would never be fulfilled. Can you imagine that?”

Satina said nothing, but Philip had to swallow twice. Yes, he could imagine it. He could see it all too clearly, and he could feel the nausea burbling in his gut at the frightening scenario Death described.

“When you roll your die,” Philip said, “what happens exactly?”

“That’s a huge question,” Death said, gazing deeply into his eyes. “Can your mind handle the answer?”

“Try me.”

“When the die is cast, the sand begins to run.”

Philip glanced at Satina, who shook her head to show she didn’t understand either. “What do you mean?”

Mortimer stepped slowly toward him. Shadows covered his face like a black spiderweb. His eyes were concealed in darkness.

“Are you afraid, Philip?” he asked. His voice was dry as the fire crackling in the woodstove. “Are you afraid of death?”

Philip’s first impulse was to nod. Because he was afraid of Death, afraid of this odd, ancient man who’d been around since the origins of life, who had seen civilizations rise and fall, who had seen so many ghastly things that it had snuffed out the light in his eyes. But he surprised himself by shaking his head. “No. I’m not afraid. I’m already dead.”

Mortimer seemed to consider this response carefully. Then his mouth twisted into a wry smile.

“Come along,” he said. “I will show you something no human being has ever seen.”

Organised by R&R Book Tours

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Blog Tour: In Her Sights – John Kimbrey*

Set at the outbreak of the Great War, the story depicts a young woman from a Gloucestershire village, tired with the constraints of her life in Edwardian Britain.

In 1916, her brother, a weak and introverted man is called up for military service. She sees an opportunity to finally compete with men in their own world and formulates a plan to go to war in his place.

In this unique and compelling tale of sibling love and extraordinary bravery, they learn to swap lives completely and she quickly adapts to her life as a man, seeking to fight alongside her male peers in war- torn France.

With many twists and turns, it demonstrates the very best and worst of soldiers of the time and brings a new perspective to the many aspects of war. With unbelievable conditions, great loyalty and unrivalled friendships, her world is then shattered as the military machine closes in. With her life now in danger, she battles to survive, bringing a conclusion the reader won’t see coming.

Amazon Goodreads

John Kimbrey served in the Royal Marines for twenty-five years and has travelled the world extensively. He visited Antarctica three times on exploratory and scientific expeditions and was awarded the Polar medal. He lived in New Zealand for seven years, and now lives in Lincolnshire.

In Her Sights, his first novel, depicts the heroism of soldiers in the great war, demonstrates the very best and worst of soldiers of the time. It is the first book of a trilogy that focuses on this period, and, unexpectedly, its main protagonist is a woman. She thrives on many challenges the war offers her, and ultimately becomes a cool and calculated killer.

The sequel to In Her Sights is finished and John has several months of editing and fine tuning ahead of him before it is published.

John has enjoyed reading since childhood, and always felt he had a book in him, but now feels there are many more to come. His writing style is open and reactionary, and whether it’s a gift or luck, his creative mind always develops a variety of plotlines. He gets so absorbed sometimes that ideas flow quicker than he can write them down.

John loves the great outdoors and enjoys exercise. He cycles every week and makes regular visits to his local gym. He was widowed in 2014 and has two married children and three grandchildren.

Today I have an extract from this nov for you.

No words were spoken, and as they had done many times, they followed their wits. Staying low they headed south, taking advantage of any cover available to them, to run in a crouch. They made good speed, but after only fifteen minutes they reached a line of wire right across their line of withdrawal. They dropped to the ground as Frank sought a way forward, Ed turning to cover their rear. Just a minute later, he tapped Ed on the shoulder then headed to his right and scrambled over a small rise, before disappearing into a shell hole beyond. Ed waited until the noise of his movement had ceased before she made her move. In seconds, she was at the top of the rise and was just dropping down when a sudden burst of machine gun fire opened up behind them. Frank heard the bullets fly overhead and ducked instinctively. Then he heard Ed groan. He swung round but could see nothing, so quickly reversed back to where she was, knowing she was in trouble.

Ed lay quite still, face down in the dirt, breathing rapidly. She turned her head to spit gravel from her lips and brought her hand up to feel inside her ghillie suit. It was wet, and she felt quite sick. She began to sweat and then the pain hit her!

Her breathing became shallow and quite harsh as her body went into shock. She heard a noise in front of her but stayed still in the darkness. Her best friend, she knew, would come for her. Then Frank’s hand reached for her, pulling her by the collar as he dragged her along the ground, staying low until they slid down into a shell hole. He sat up and ripped his hood from his head, speaking softly to her, but with urgency, his heart racing as he sought answers.

‘Where have you been hit?’ he whispered. She didn’t answer and so he repeated her name over and over, but she still made no sound. God, he thought, is she dead? Then he heard a murmur and sighed with relief, asking her again where she was hit. Unable to see her too well, he put his ear to her mouth.

‘On my back, at the top of my back,’ she said hoarsely. ‘But I think it’s gone right through as my chest is agony.’

Frank rolled her gently on her back, knowing the exit point would be the worst injury. He opened the buttons of her ghillie suit and pulled it down, reaching inside her tunic until he felt a large hole in her chest. It was pouring blood! He quickly reached inside his own tunic for a field dressing before opening her tunic fully. He unravelled the dressing, placing it firmly over the exit wound and pressed down to stop the bleeding, making her whimper softly. He struggled to wrap the bandages attached to the dressing around her body, but finally tied them off at the side. She arched her back in acute pain, but never uttered a sound. She bit her lip until the pain was under control. He then spoke to her softly.

‘I am going to have to turn you.’

‘Just get on with it,’ she said, groaning.

He turned her over, freeing her arm so he could access her shoulder. He yanked the back of her tunic down, reaching inside her shirt and following the sticky blood trail until he located a tiny indent, a hole. Keeping one finger over it, he reached for her own field dressing with his other hand and ripped it open with his teeth, quickly covering the small indentation that was still bleeding, and tying the dressing off as before. He pulled her tunic back up and pushed her arm into the sleeve, buttoning up her ghillie suit, and laid her flat. He knew he had to move rapidly now, or see his friend die in front of him!

He looked ahead into the darkness, hoping they were not too far from their own trenches, and quickly slung both rifles over his shoulder. He then grabbed a handful of Ed’s ghillie suit behind her head and began to drag her up out of the shell hole and along the ground. It was clear to him within a few seconds that even though she was relatively light, this could easily kill her. He decided there was no point in taking her back carefully if she died on the way! He knew what he had to do was risky, but he clearly had no choice.

‘Ed, I am going to have to carry you, it’s going to hurt,’ he whispered. He bent down, gathering her up across his body so her head lay on his shoulder, clasped his hands and taking a deep breath started to lift her up. He hoped that as he couldn’t see anything, the Germans certainly wouldn’t be able to either. He looked down at the friend he treasured most in his life, and as he set off in the darkness, he heard a volley of shells suddenly whistle overhead, landing seconds later deep into the British lines. The morning barrage had begun!

He wasted no time and set off at a fast walking pace over the undulating ground before him. Progress was swift, and he made a hundred yards before stumbling into more wire, where he dropped to a crouch, pausing for a few seconds to rest. As he rose up, a barb snagged Ed’s ghillie suit and even though he pulled on it several times, he was forced to lay her down to free her, wasting valuable time. Sweat from his exertion ran into his eyes as his fingers fumbled, but quickly he bundled her up once again and set off through the gap, all the while the shells exploding ahead. He was the most frightened he had ever been, and as his arms started to ache once more, he found himself shouting to himself to finish the job! He yelled to Ed over the increasing noise of the shells, her head just inches away from his, but she remained silent, her eyes closed. He kept telling himself they would make it and shouted to her over and over; ‘It will be OK Ed, it will be OK,’ as he maintained his pace forward towards safety, flinching each time a shell landed. He was convinced that they could not be far away now and worked his way through the wire, the bombs shattering the ground all around him. He was sweating heavily, his eyes stinging as it washed into them, his breathing rapid, and then suddenly, the ground disappeared beneath him! It was a second later and he landed in a heap in the mud, Ed now lying across him, groaning.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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12 Days of Clink Street: One? – Jennifer L. Cahill

It’s London in the mid-noughties before Facebook, iPhones and ubiquitous wifi, and One? follows the highs and lows of a group of twenty-somethings living in leafy SW4.

Zara has just moved to London for her first real job and struggles to find her feet in a big city with no instruction manual.

Penelope works night and day in an investment bank with little or no time for love. At 28 she is positively ancient as far as her mother is concerned and the pressure is on for her to settle down as the big 3-0 is looming.

Charlie spends night and day with his band who are constantly teetering on the verge of greatness.

Richard has relocated to London from his castle in Scotland in search of the one, and Alyx is barely in one place long enough to hold down a relationship let alone think about the future.

 

Goodreads Amazon

 

With a sigh, Miss Miller adjusted her horn-rimmed spectacles to survey her classroom of five-year-olds. The heat was really getting to her, mixed up with the sporadic hot flashes, it was becoming unbearable. A small bead of perspiration made its way slowly down the middle of her back. Her polyester, pointed collar shirt was growing clammy from the heat. Miss Miller stood up and gazed down at the children who were fidgeting and terribly restless. Her hands were clammy, and suddenly, without warning, she dropped her wooden blackboard duster onto the desk. The loud thud broke the silence, and a little cloud of chalk dust puffed up from where it had landed. The sunshine was streaming in through the windows, and the children watched… mesmerised, as the chalk dust particles danced on the sunbeam. They were convinced that the fairies were busy at work in their classroom that sunny June afternoon. This was quite enough to unsettle the class of five-year-olds especially so near to going home time. The children started giggling and wriggling around in their seats. Miss Miller gave them a stern look and settled herself behind her desk on the oak rostrum. She decided that it was Alyx’s turn to share his homework with the class. ‘Alyx,’ she said, as she peered over her glasses.
Alyx didn’t flinch; he was far, far away… gazing at the fairies on the sunbeam…‘Alyx! Alyx! Wake up! Come along now, we are waiting…’ Miss Miller snapped. Alyx nearly jumped out of his little skin! He began to stammer.‘What? Em, ok,’ Alyx stuttered as he struggled to his feet from behind his tiny little desk. ‘… when I grow up, I wish I were, no, I wish I would be a Beatle!’ Alyx breathed a small sigh of relief, he was happy that he had remembered the words in English.Miss Miller went puce, as the whole class started laughing. Alyx stood there defiantly. Alyx hated talking in front of the whole class; he was used to speaking French in school….not English! He would only be in this school for a few weeks while his mother was on location for a film in London, he didn’t understand these English people at all! He was constantly in trouble!Miss Miller was livid! All she needed was the most minor disruption to set the class of five-year-olds off, today of all days. It was easily 30C outside and there was no escaping the heat. Miss Miller struggled to regain composure.‘Don’t be silly Alyx, you can’t be a beetle, you are a little boy… why would you want to be an insect?!’ Miss Miller snapped.‘No, Miss, not an insect… I want to be like one of the Beatles!’ Alyx went bright red, and started staring down at his feet, while he shuffled from one tiny little foot to the other.‘The rock group?! Alyx really! Everyone else in the class has prepared their homework, sit down and come and speak to me at the end of class!’ Miss Miller was still puce as she said this, she took a deep breath to regain composure. She had no time for these ungrounded “celebrity” fantasies…Meanwhile the whole class had erupted into fits of giggles. Alyx slumped back into his tiny little chair, feeling very sorry for himself indeed. Life is tough when you are five and grownups keep trying to break your dreams.Miss Miller looked down at her list again, completely exasperated. Who should she ask next, who would be a “safe bet”?‘Next? Who is next?’ Miss Miller spoke sternly to silence the laughing five-year-olds. ‘Yes, Penelope?’‘Miss? Miss? May I go next?’ Penelope’s little hand shot straight up the minute Miss Miller had said ‘Next?’ She was dying to tell the teacher her ambition.‘Well, yes dear, if you really want to, I don’t see why not….’ Miss Miller sighed as she sat back in her chair.Penelope stood up in front of her desk, her little hands clasped tightly behind her back.‘When I grow up, I want to be a beautiful princess, and I want to live in a castle…’ Penelope beamed at Miss Miller, waiting for the praise that she was so used to. The teacher usually said things like ‘Excellent, Penelope’ and ‘Good girl’ to her. Sadly Penelope did not expect the reaction that was heading her way.With a sigh, Miss Miller adjusted her horn-rimmed spectacles to survey her classroom of five-year-olds. The heat was really getting to her, mixed up with the sporadic hot flashes, it was becoming unbearable. A small bead of perspiration made its way slowly down the middle of her back. Her polyester, pointed collar shirt was growing clammy from the heat. Miss Miller stood up and gazed down at the children who were fidgeting and terribly restless. Her hands were clammy, and suddenly, without warning, she dropped her wooden blackboard duster onto the desk. The loud thud broke the silence, and a little cloud of chalk dust puffed up from where it had landed. The sunshine was streaming in through the windows, and the children watched… mesmerised, as the chalk dust particles danced on the sunbeam. They were convinced that the fairies were busy at work in their classroom that sunny June afternoon. This was quite enough to unsettle the class of five-year-olds especially so near to going home time. The children started giggling and wriggling around in their seats. Miss Miller gave them a stern look and settled herself behind her desk on the oak rostrum. She decided that it was Alyx’s turn to share his homework with the class. ‘Alyx,’ she said, as she peered over her glasses.

Alyx didn’t flinch; he was far, far away… gazing at the fairies on the sunbeam…

‘Alyx! Alyx! Wake up! Come along now, we are waiting…’ Miss Miller snapped. Alyx nearly jumped out of his little skin! He began to stammer.

‘What? Em, ok,’ Alyx stuttered as he struggled to his feet from behind his tiny little desk. ‘… when I grow up, I wish I were, no, I wish I would be a Beatle!’ Alyx breathed a small sigh of relief, he was happy that he had remembered the words in English.

Miss Miller went puce, as the whole class started laughing. Alyx stood there defiantly. Alyx hated talking in front of the whole class; he was used to speaking French in school….not English! He would only be in this school for a few weeks while his mother was on location for a film in London, he didn’t understand these English people at all! He was constantly in trouble!

Miss Miller was livid! All she needed was the most minor disruption to set the class of five-year-olds off, today of all days. It was easily 30C outside and there was no escaping the heat. Miss Miller struggled to regain composure.

‘Don’t be silly Alyx, you can’t be a beetle, you are a little boy… why would you want to be an insect?!’ Miss Miller snapped.

‘No, Miss, not an insect… I want to be like one of the Beatles!’ Alyx went bright red, and started staring down at his feet, while he shuffled from one tiny little foot to the other.

‘The rock group?! Alyx really! Everyone else in the class has prepared their homework, sit down and come and speak to me at the end of class!’ Miss Miller was still puce as she said this, she took a deep breath to regain composure. She had no time for these ungrounded “celebrity” fantasies…

Meanwhile the whole class had erupted into fits of giggles. Alyx slumped back into his tiny little chair, feeling very sorry for himself indeed. Life is tough when you are five and grownups keep trying to break your dreams.

Miss Miller looked down at her list again, completely exasperated. Who should she ask next, who would be a “safe bet”?

‘Next? Who is next?’ Miss Miller spoke sternly to silence the laughing five-year-olds. ‘Yes, Penelope?’

‘Miss? Miss? May I go next?’ Penelope’s little hand shot straight up the minute Miss Miller had said ‘Next?’ She was dying to tell the teacher her ambition.

‘Well, yes dear, if you really want to, I don’t see why not….’ Miss Miller sighed as she sat back in her chair.

Penelope stood up in front of her desk, her little hands clasped tightly behind her back.

‘When I grow up, I want to be a beautiful princess, and I want to live in a castle…’ Penelope beamed at Miss Miller, waiting for the praise that she was so used to. The teacher usually said things like ‘Excellent, Penelope’ and ‘Good girl’ to her. Sadly Penelope did not expect the reaction that was heading her way.