Friday, July 28, 2023

Who Killed Jerusalem Review Spotlight

Welcome to the book tour for Who Killed Jerusalem, a madcap murder mystery by George Albert Brown! Read on for more details and the opportunity to win HUGE prizes! You can also visit one of our Instagram hosts and win 1 of 3 book boxes!

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Who Killed Jerusalem is a stand-alone mystery novel by George Albert Brown. This murder mystery is sure to be one that will do a fantastic job keeping you engaged in the novel. The author will have you laughing, and eager for more as you dig deeper into this story. 

Who Killed Jerusalem is the first book that I have read by Brown. When I picked this book up, I nearly panicked. I had no idea who William Blake was. My first thought was - "oh crap! Do I need to look up this person and get some background on them before I start reading?!" Thankfully, the author knew that there'd be readers like me who'd be on the verge of freaking out in such fashion. LOL! He's got us covered. 

Tucked into the beginning of this book is a nice little "Key Facts to Know Before Reading this Book." After reading that...well, I wiped the sweat off my brow and proceeded forward with excitement teasing my brain concerning what was to come with this book. 

This book starts off with a shock. Not a bad one so don't panic! It's one that will immediately have you glued to this book. The death of Ickey Jerusalem. Now, do you get to "witness" the murder playing out? No. The murder has already happened, but it's the location of the murder that will have you on the edge of your seat. Questions will be bombarding your brain - "How did this happen?!", "Was there a witness??", "How could it be that no one saw something or said something sooner??" It's a litany of questioning that will demand that you delve deeper into this story to find out the truth. 

The main character, Ded Smith, is close by at the time of Jerusalem's untimely demise. Of course, Ded's particular predicament is one that is more than a little comical. He's not in a situation that is the least bit enviable for anyone in their right mind. But he handles it pretty well. 

Since he's there and the investigating officer(s) have worked with him before he gets drawn into this particular crime. While one is wanting to write it off as a suicide, Ded sees the finer details of the situation and says that more needs to be looked into.

As this story proceeds the author does a great job making sure that readers stay engaged in this chonk of a book. The chapters are short, and help move the story along. Ded is an engaging and interesting character, and some of his thoughts are just down right hilarious. I warn you against eating or drinking anything while reading this book. I was eating and when I read a particular line I laughed so hard I nearly spit my food out. Now just imagine if I had been drinking...something would have gotten a "lovely paint job" of tea. LOL!

This author packs quite a bit of humor into this book and that really makes this book shine. That and the not skimping on the details. You're going to love it. Ded is always looking for more and I couldn't get enough of it. Mind yourself when he's dealing with the "all too perfect" doctor. You will be howling! 

When it comes to Who Killed Jerusalem this author more then delivers on everything that he promised readers. You get a page-turning novel packed with quirky and engaging characters. Tons of drama, and a murder mystery that will tease you all the way to the end. 

For readers who love chonky books that deliver on everything promised this book is a must read. Don't miss it. I look forward to what this author writes next. 

5 out of 5 stars

Thank you to the author, George Albert Brown, and R&R Book Tours for the opportunity to read and review this book. I look forward to what comes next!

Who Killed Jerusalem

Publication Date: February 6, 2023

Genre: Murder Mystery/ Literary Mystery

Publisher: Galbraith Literary Publishers

A budding cult classic that dramatically splits the reviewers. Which side will you be on?

A seamless melding of the intricate plotting of Umberto Eco in The Name of the Rose; the side-splitting humor of John Kennedy Toole in A Confederacy of Dunces; and the fabulous world of William Blake.

In 1977, Ickey Jerusalem, San Francisco's golden-boy poet laureate, is found dead in a locked, first-class toilet on an arriving red-eye flight.

Ded Smith, a desperately unhappy, intelligent philistine with a highly developed philosophy to match, is called in to investigate the poet's death. Thus begins a series of hilarious encounters with the members of Jerusalem's coterie.

Ded soon realizes that to find out what happened, he must not only collect his usual detective's clues but also, despite his own poetically challenged outlook, get into the dead poet's mind. Fighting his way through blasphemous funerals, drug-induced dreams, poetry-charged love-making, offbeat philosophical discussions, and much, much more, he begins to piece together Jerusalem's seductive, all-encompassing metaphysics.

But by then, the attempts to kill Ded and the others have begun.

Before Ded's death-dodging luck runs out, will he be able to solve the case, and perhaps in the process, develop a new way of looking at the world that might allow him to replace his unhappiness with joy?

Available on Amazon

About the Author

George Albert Brown, a graduate of Yale University and Stanford Law, started as a hippie in San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury and retired at age 40 after having co-founded a successful international finance company. Following stints thereafter as a humorous author (The Airline Passenger’s Guerrilla Handbook) and an angel investor in over a score of high-tech university spinouts, he built a catamaran in Chile and for more than a decade, cruised it across the globe with his significant other. Today, as a father of three grown children, a grandfather of four not-yet-grown children, and an involuntary lover of stray cats, he continues his peripatetic lifestyle by other means.

Who Killed Jerusalem? is the book that George, a life-long devotee of William Blake, had always wanted to write.

Who Killed Jerusalem

 Book Tour Schedule

More Than Our Fake Vows Cover Reveal Spotlight

We're thrilled to share with you today the cover for More Than Our Fake Vows! Coming later this year! So stay tuned for this contemporary romance novel.

                                                                    More than Our Fake Vows

Expected Publication Date: Late Fall 2023

Genre: Contemporary Romance

🎵Marriage of Convenience
🎵Friends to Lovers
🎵Slow Burn
🎵Small Town
🎵Country Music Star

After catching her fiancé cheating, Natalie leaves the city she’s grown to love. Starting over in Hickory Valley, Georgia, a one-redlight town that makes for the perfect escape, or so she thought. Natalie makes quick friends with a local bartender and they both decide to make a pact- no men for a year. Natalie doubles down on her career until a handsome stranger strolls into the bar and threatens her resolve.

Teagan’s gold-digging ex is threatening to ruin him, his band and anything else she can get her greedy hands on. Hickory Valley looks like just the place to hide out while the press calms down. Nobody would think to look for him in this dust covered farm town.

With a cruel twist of fate, Natalie finds herself needing a husband, and fast! A fake marriage could fix both of their problems and what did they have to lose? Neither Teagan nor Natalie wants an actual relationship, it only has to look real to everyone else.

A string of events, tests their friendship and when emotions run high are they able to keep their feelings at bay? Or will they fall victim to the other’s charm and throw caution to the wind?

About the Author

Katie is an Indie Author who lives in Vermont with her husband and their children. When she’s not busy working, writing, or spending time with loved ones, she enjoys getting lost in a good book. Katie loves all types of gardening but especially enjoys flowers. When she’s not hard at work writing the next novel in the Destiny of Graystone series or the standalone romantic suspense novels, she likes creating things in Canva or Procreate!

Katie Richard

Cover Reveal Organized By:

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Thursday, July 27, 2023

A Pinch of Distrust Review Spotlight

 A Pinch of Distrust by D.T. Bella is a fantasy novel packed with mystery from beginning to end. This book will absolutely grab you from the beginning and keep you page-turning to the very end. Danger lurks unseen in many forms and the characters in this story will have to keep a wary eye out for it all.

This novel starts out with an attack on a fairy. Yaetherim does not witness the attack, but he is one of the first on the scene. He’s quick to spring into action, but unfortunately, his aid will be for nothing. The author will be quick to point out that Yaetherim himself has survived a similar attack in the past. He bears the scars from what happened to him, which causes many characters who witness them to stare. Quite rude of them, no? LOL! The good news is that Yaetherim is patient and rarely has much of a reaction to impertinent stares.

The story will quickly shift to another character who will be the focus of this story. Arch-Mechanic Tenora Perskel will literally come roaring into the story. Not roaring like you’re thinking. She’s not an animal mind you. LOL! No, she comes roaring onto the scene in a steam-powered vehicle to save a young family. Their vehicle is out of control. Despite her efforts to bring the car to a stop, the magic powering it seems to have decided to run a muck. You’re thinking – “Well, the best way to stop a steam-powered vehicle is to cut off the supply.” Well, she does that. Magics the heat to shut off, but despite that – it kicks back on. What?! Things quickly escalate to bring you to the edge of your seat. The question of “Will she make it?!” will literally plague your mind. It’s a chaotic situation that will lead to pertinent questions. The most important one is – what’s happening and why?

The deeper you go into this story, the more questions will begin to arise. Tenora is digging into things on the human side, or Rychillans, as they are called in this story. As she investigates she’ll begin to piece together this intriguing puzzle. There is more than meets the eye, but the mystery is complicated. While there have been multiple incidents of note in the past, there is yet a connecting factor to bring them all together. So, what is the connection to all incidents? There are clues, but finding them will take some time, and of course, patience.

This story is told from alternating viewpoints. In one chapter you will get the fairy, Yaetherim, and then in the next chapter you will get Tenora. Each will be investigating their own mysteries, but eventually, the two will cross paths, and realize that their separate mysteries are connected. Magic is used consistently throughout this book by both the fairies and the Rychillans. Both use magic-infused crystals that help them cast a variety of spells. Now, that does not mean that they can simply do any and all kinds of magic with these crystals. The crystal is attuned to their particular kind of magic.

There is earth magic, fire magic, water magic, and air magic. The crystals help with the use that is specific to that particular individual and fairy. There are some who are dual users, but those are rare.

The intrigue that author Bella builds within this story will keep you engaged throughout as every chapter has a mysterious element to it. Both characters are searching for something that will point them to the truth. Yaetherim is on the hunt for someone who has no qualms with killing and sees it as just a means to an end.

While she is not one of the main characters, Veritor Karis is going to be a character who stands out and catches your attention. She’s a very no-nonsense type of individual without the off-putting attitude that you typically get with these types of characters. When it comes to “no-nonsense” types, they are typically short-tempered, a touch arrogant, and difficult to stomach. Veritor Karis is the exact opposite. She’s one of those characters who demand that you do your job and that you do it right. Think of the Veritors as police officers. They are meant to help uphold the peace, find answers to investigations and such other work. Karis is tough, but you’ll see some softness in her from time to time. That particular element of her character not only makes her more palatable, but more interesting as well. You’ll feel drawn to her, and look forward to seeing more of her in this book.

As the investigation ramps up so will the danger. The clues will be there in the story, but there will also be red herrings. When things seem like they are on the verge of wrapping up, proceed with caution, because nothing is ever what it seems. It’s good that the author has a character or two who follows this similar train of thought because it is exactly what will keep them on their toes...or wings. Piece by piece, lies will be exposed and the truth will begin to come out. Quickly it will become a race to stay a step ahead so that they can stay alive.

A Pinch of Distrust is a well-written novel overall. The characters are engaging and the storyline is sure to keep you page-turning to the end. Drama and mystery run rampant from beginning to end. An attack followed by death starts things off, but you are ensured a satisfying ending with closure for all.

Time for a touch of picking at some of the details in this story. One thing that stands out the most in this novel is the overuse of the word – “smirk.” It would have been preferred if other terms had been used when talking about Yaetherim smiling. A smirk tends to read as condescending or sly. It is easy to doubt that Yaetherim is constantly being condescending or anything in a negative aspect when he is simply smiling. In some situations in this story, a smirk does fit. However, it does not fit them all, and using a different descriptive terminology would have been preferred.

Readers who love a good fantasy novel packed with mystery and intrigue will absolutely enjoy this novel. Characters with secrets and everything to lose will do whatever it takes to remain a free individual.


- Engaging storyline

- Thorough mystery

- Title ties into the story nicely

- Interesting characters

- Unique twists


- Over usage of the word “smirk” with Yaetherim.

Lesson of the story: Gluttony for money and power will drive an individual to do horrible acts.

Cover Score: 8.4

Overall Book Score: 8.3

My original review can be found @ A Pinch of Distrust by D.T. Bella – Scribble's Worth Book Reviews ( in association with Scribble's Worth Book Reviews.

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Infested Review Spotlight


The Taking of Jake Livingston meets Cemetery Boys in this YA ghost story about a Puerto Rican teen’s battle with a malevolent spirit targeting his apartment building and the all-too-real horrors of gentrification.

Infested is a YA horror novel by Angel Luis Colón. I hope you're ready for some creepy moments, because they are a-comin' and some...will even have you snickering. LOL! 

Infested is a really fun story to read. Young Manny is just one year...ONE YEAR from graduating high school. But riiiight before Sr. year can start he gets hit with that big announcement - "We're moving." Normally, that would be fine. I mean, they've moved before. Multiple times in fact, but the difference is that each time they stayed in the same general area. San Antonio. However, this time..they're not just leaving the state...they're going to New York. Yaaayyy...(yeah, that was really half-hearted. LOL) I mean...seriously! Who wants to move their senior year of high school?! 

Well, since Manny has little to no (he literally has none) options, off he goes with his new step-dad to New York to begin the process of helping get the new building Al is manager of underway so that they can get in new residents. 

The story unfolds in a typical manner - all seems fine. The building is empty, but it has yet to take on that "creepy" air that lets you know that things just aren't right. There will be a moment or two where you will worry for Manny's safety when it comes to other elements. Namely, the other "kids" in the neighborhood. I know I got a little anxious when one particular interaction took place. 

Beware the gross factor though. There is one that did make me cringe a touch, but hey! Who wouldn't!? LOL! I will say I applaud the author for his imagination when it comes to the gross factor. It is on par! I loved it! The author will keep you on your toes because you just won't know what to expect. Will there be another such scene again? Will there be something even grosser to look forward to? You're going to have to dive in to find out! LOL!

When it comes to Manny, as the main character, he's pretty much a typical teen. He's not thrilled about the move, he finds petty little ways to take out his frustrations, and he's a touch awkward. Well, maybe not necessarily awkward, but it sometimes translates that way. He's really shy and doesn't have it easy in making new friends.

The introduction of the character to watch out for is done in a really excellent way. It's a mix of creepy/strange and "innocent." But the deeper the story goes, the more things shift more towards the creepy and dangerous elements.

Infested is absolutely a page-turner of a novel and will keep you engaged in the story and what is going to happen next. There are some creepy factors, but it didn't make my skin crawl. LOL! I love a good horror novel, and this one is a good fit for younger readers. The first half of the book sets the stage, and the final half sees you off to the races and page-turning to find out how it all ends. 

Definitely a book for those who enjoy a good horror novel.

5 out of 5 stars

Thank you to the author, Angel Luis Colón, and R&R Book Tours for the opportunity to read and review this book! I look forward to what comes next! 

                                                        Infested: An MTV Fear Novel

Expected Publication Date: July 25, 2023

Genre: YA Horror/ Paranormal

Publisher: MTV Fear/ Simon & Schuster

It’s the summer before senior year, and Manny has just moved from Texas to the Bronx in New York. So, instead of hanging with his friends and making some spending money, Manny is forced to do menial tasks in his new home, a luxury condo his stepdad is managing, while stressing about starting over.

Thankfully, he meets Sasha, who is protesting the building but turns out to be really cool. And he strikes up an unlikely friendship with Mr. Mueller, the building’s exterminator. Maybe life in the Bronx won’t be so bad.

Then the nightmares begin. And Manny swears he has roaches crawling under his skin. When building contractors start to go missing, Manny and Sasha come to the terrifying realization that Mr. Mueller is not who he says he is. Or rather, he is, but he died decades ago in a fire exactly where Manny’s new building is located. A fire that Mueller set.

Now, in a race against time, Manny must rescue his family from a deranged specter determined to set the Bronx ablaze once again.

Infested expertly mixes mystery and monster story with family drama and very now political concerns. It’s a thrilling, I-can’t-stop-reading page-turner. If Infested doesn’t make your skin crawl, check your pulse.” —Paul Tremblay, bestselling author of The Cabin at the End of the World and A Head Full of Ghosts

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Pre-order on Amazon, Apple Books, & Barnes & Noble

About the Author

Angel Luis Colón is the Derringer Award– and Anthony Award–nominated author of Hell Chose Me, the Blacky Jaguar series of novellas, No Happy Endings, and the short story collection Meat City on Fire and Other Assorted Debacles. His work has also appeared in multiple web and print publications including ThuglitLiterary Orphans, and Great Jones StreetInfested is his debut young adult novel.

Angel Luis Colón

Book Tour Organized By:

R&R Book Tours

Saturday, July 22, 2023

The Bindings of Woe Review Spotlight


WELCOME to the book tour for The Bindings of Woe by Connor Jackson! This is the first book in the Chain of Worlds series, I have a good feeling that you're going to enjoy this book. Keep reading to check out my thoughts on this novel, an excerpt, and more information about the author! 

The Bindings of Woe starts off innocently enough. You have a mother looking for her errant son who is hoping to dodge the task of helping his family. Now, it's not what you think...or maybe it is. LOL! They are preparing to go to the city to sell merchandise and pay the taxes for the village. Carver would just rather stay home than make that long arduous trip to the city, but his parents get the final word. The good news? His friend Helena will be going, too. Funny enough, she's more excited to be going than he is. 

The story proceeds in a rather innocuous sort of way. Everything seems fine, but you get to learn a little about the characters as the story goes along. Helena and Carver come off as typical teens but in opposite ways. Carver is reluctant to be part of this trip, but Helena is excited. She's been to the city multiple times, but it seems that the city has lost little of its shine for her. 

What they don't know is that this particular trip - they're going to wish that they had missed. Stay on your guard as you read this book, because the unexpected is waiting for you. It comes in an "innocent" enough form, but what happens next will have you gasping in all the air in the room, and your jaw will be on the floor. In that one moment in the story, I knew that I was going to be page-turning like a fiend to find out what happens next. Because you just know that chaos is about to break loose all over the place. And, unfortunately, there will be hell to pay for those who were in close proximity. 

This book is utter chaos. In the best way! You get hit with a chaotic situation and then the next thing you know Carver and Helena are being hunted. The big question that will be stamping around in your brain - why?! Of course, we can speculate all day long, but the answers are there. 

Where this book starts out engaging but evenly paced things quickly shift to - "buckle up buttercup because things are about to get wild!" You're going to find yourself digging deeper and deeper into this story as little by little revelations come to light as to what is going on here. 

Pay close attention to the little historical elements the author weaves into this story. They are painting a picture of past grievances that were never dealt with. Old wounds that never healed and some are simply waiting for that prime opportunity to sow the seeds of chaos to bring about a change that they feel will be better suited to them. But what about the rest? What about the whole? Well, that's the problem with resentment, it breeds only desires for one's self. Yes, there might be thoughts of "Oh, this is for the whole." But the truth is always something else altogether. 

Love a good epic fantasy? Do. Not. Miss. This. Book!! Clear your schedule, get comfortable, grab some snacks, and settle in. This book is going to demand that you finish it in one sitting and then have you clamoring to know what happens next. I'm absolutely eager for the next book in this series because things are just getting started. 

5 out of 5 stars

Thank you to the author, Connor Jackson, and Escapist Book Tours for the opportunity to read and review this book. I look forward to what comes next! 

Looking for more? Keep reading for more info about this book, purchase links, and an excerpt! Hope you enjoy! 

Book Information:

The Bindings of Woe by Connor Jackson
Chain of Worlds
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Intended Age Group: 16+
Pages: 552
Published: June 21, 2022
Publisher: FriesenPress

Content/Trigger Warnings:

Shown on Page (things clearly told to the reader): 

  • Moments of harsh violence

  • Animal violence (horses in battle)

  • Vomiting (minor)

  • Sexual assault (minimal)

Alluded to (things only mentioned in passing or hinted at):

  • Rape (minimal)

Book Blurb:

The world of Gaia is in turmoil. Humans, goblins, and dwarves try to live their lives as best they can under the rule of the sovereigns—the strange and powerful race whose empire stretches to all corners of the known world—but order and stability seem to be fading. The quality of life has lessened, the strength and control of the Sovereign Empire has weakened, and a large movement of rebels, though many would call them terrorists, known as the Lost Seekers, are causing waves throughout the lands.

Nowhere are these changes felt more than the Isles, a small human province of islands, where sixteen-year-old Carver lives with his family and best friend, Helena, in the remote village of Verrel. During a routine trip to the provincial capital of Caswen, Carver and Helena suddenly find themselves in the middle of a violent conflict between the powers of the world, and soon after find themselves being hunted for reasons they do not understand.

Now pulled into events they never dreamed of experiencing, Carver and Helena, along with some close companions, are forced to fight for their lives during a journey of hardships. Monstrous beasts, hostile factions, and even nature itself plague their quest to find safety and seek answers, and nothing is gained without a struggle. However, their continued survival may be out of their control as the powers of the world vie for dominance against one another . . . by any means necessary.

See Also: 

 Roman Empire Meets Renaissance • Contemporary Dialogue • Struggles of a Medieval Teen


 “How many times have you been to Caswen, Helena?”

Helena looked surprised, as if she had been startled by the sudden question. “Um … a few times, maybe like three or four. I don’t know, why?”

Just curious. You seem really excited to go is all.”

I like going. I think it’s incredible. The huge stone wall that surrounds the city, the sheer amount of people living inside, and the things you can buy at the Inner Market are amazing. Like last time I went, when my parents took me along for their business with some of the city blacksmiths, I found that book about the invasion of the tartaruns. Remember, the one made up of old translated journal entries from soldiers? You can’t get that kind of stuff unless you go to the city.”

Yeah, I remember. Did you ever finish reading it?”

No. I stopped about halfway through. I kept thinking the journal entries would get better, but they just kept getting sadder and more depressing. Nearly every entry was about how the tartaruns captured another city or butchered another army. Besides, I already know how it ended. We all learned the history of the Tartarun Invasion from our lessons, so unless I wanted to read more firsthand accounts of how horrible it was, there wasn’t really any point of continuing.”

Well, what did you expect to read?” Carver asked with a chuckle. “They were combat diaries from people who actually fought in the war, which we were pretty much losing for the most part until everyone signed that treaty at the end.”

The Stalemate Treaty, Carver. Because both sides were stuck in a stalemate that neither could break. And everyone didn’t just sign a treaty all at once at the end. The goblins signed it on their own first, and it was only the liberated colony kingdoms of Mahkoua that broke away from the rest of the Old Goblin Empire, which was still held by the tartaruns, and even then some of the current colony kingdoms were left out of it.”

Okay, sure, whatever. But everyone did sign it in the end.”

The humans signed it quickly after the goblins did, yeah, but it took the dwarves a while after that until they signed it too and left a fifth of their lands under tartarun control. The Stalemate Treaty wasn’t a collective choice by the northern races, Carver. The humans signing it and leaving the dwarves on their own is a big reason why Terraland isn’t part of the Dwarven Commonwealth anymore. Don’t you pay attention to anything we learn at the schoolhouse?”

I don’t care about the details of changing kingdom borders or treaty signing stuff. It was forever ago, anyway. Back before people started to count the years. Who cares what happened back then?”

Helena gave Carver a disgruntled glare. “It was somewhere close to three hundred years ago. And people did count the years back then. The dwarves had a calendar for who knows how many centuries during the Lost Years, before it was reset by—” Helena stopped and rubbed her face. “Oh, you don’t care, whatever. But it is interesting. And it’s important to learn what happened in the past, so it doesn’t happen again in the future—at least not the bad things.”

Pfft,” Carver waved his hand toward Helena as if to deflect her words back at her face. “I don’t think we need to worry about tartaruns attacking us, seeing as the sovereigns wiped them all out. So, we can’t make sure it doesn’t happen again since it literally can’t happen again,” he stated with confidence.

Helena rolled her eyes. “Whatever. It’s still sad to read about it. Hearing what happened from the history tome in class is one thing, but reading the individual notes of people who were actually in the war was too much. I thought the book would be like an in-depth history tome, with facts and secrets I didn’t know, but it was just depressing letters to loved ones and reports about defeats and pyrrhic victories. Nothing happy at all.”

Helena crossed her arms as if attempting to guard herself from the memory of the pages.

A moment of silence sprouted between the two friends as they strolled deeper into the village, but then Carver erupted with a mocking voice. “Oh, well, today all my friends were torn apart by ten-foot-tall, gray-scaled monster men, but I sure do love this fresh air. I think I’ll go carve a statue using the wood from my ruined home. Oh, look, there’s a horde of tartaruns coming to kill me. At least it’s a nice day.” He gave Helena a smug grin.

Piss off,” Helena joked, giving Carver a push. He laughed as he retained his balance and found his place back beside Helena.

Hey, guys!” a young male voice called from behind them.

Carver and Helena stopped and looked back, both of them recognizing the voice. A teenage boy of a similar age to themselves was jogging toward them. His cheeks and upper lip showed the faint signs of hair growth that Carver’s lacked, and his dirty blond hair would have hung down to his shoulders were it not tied into a thick ponytail. Beside him, matching his speed, was a girl of similar age. She had short hair, the same dirty blond as the boy’s, that barely passed her ears, with bangs down to her eyebrows. They stopped a few feet away from Carver and Helena, both of them out of breath.

Hey, guys, what’s going on?” Carver asked.

The boy met Carver’s gaze with his bright-blue eyes. “Guess what we just heard?” he said, huffing.

What?” Helena asked, looking from the boy to the girl, not quite sure if she should be excited or worried.

The boy looked over at Helena. “So, we heard you’ll both be in the city today, delivering the tax and trading, right? Well, guess what?”

Carver and Helena both shot the boy a look of annoyance, waiting for him to get on with it.

There’s going to be sovereigns there!” the girl blurted out, stealing the boy’s thunder.

Helena gasped with a look of equal parts disbelief and excitement. “For real?”

Yeah!” the boy said. “Our grandfather just dropped off some barrels of fish from his fishery in Leydes—”

For your trip to Caswen today,” the girl butted in.

They know that, sis. Anyway, traders from Caswen told him a sovereign ship has been docked in the Caswen port for the last few days!”

We made him tell us all the details before he took the barrels to the stables,” the girl added with a bright smile.

At that, Carver and Helena shot each other a look.

I guess we know why the barrels were late,” Carver said, voicing what they were both thinking.

Helena grinned, then turned her attention back to the others. “Why would sovereigns be at Caswen? They’re not supposed to collect the tax until it’s been sailed over to the mainland and joined with the rest of Terraland’s taxes.”

We don’t know. All we know is there’s apparently a sovereign ship there,” the girl answered.

Carver turned once again to Helena. “Do you think we’ll see any? Actual sovereigns, I mean?”

I hope so. I’ve always wanted to see one. So far, Seb is the only one of us to have seen one, and that was years ago,” Helena said, directing her hand toward the blue-eyed boy.

Yeah, but I didn’t get to see it close up, though. I already told you guys the story after it happened. I saw a huge ship sailing by while I was out fishing with my grandfather during a visit, and I saw one of them standing on the deck. It was pretty far away, and all I could see was a tall, blurry figure, but I could tell it wasn’t a human or a dwarf, and it definitely wasn’t a goblin.”

That’s still better than any of us. We’ve only heard about them in our teachings,” Helena said.

Nina would have seen it too if she hadn’t been sick with a fever at home,” Sebastian said, nudging his sister with his elbow.

I’m glad I missed it,” Nina replied. “They sound awful from what we’ve been told about them. Seven feet tall, always bald, with no ears or nose, weird X-shaped bone feet with claws. I can’t imagine having them patrolling around the village, hunting for people who develop sorcery like we hear they do on the mainland and the bigger towns around here. It sounds so creepy.” She shivered and gave Sebastian a sharp glance with her matching blue eyes.

Sebastian received Nina’s glance and chuckled. “You sound like you think the sovereigns are going to come and take you away. They only take people who develop sorcery, like you just said, and since sorcery apparently only shows up in a person during the beginnings of puberty, if they develop it at all, I think we’re all going to be fine. The four of us are well past the point of sorcery and the power to use magic unlocking in ourselves. Unless one of us developed sorcery, learned how to channel it into magic, and has been hiding it,” Sebastian finished with a jesting look toward Carver and Helena.

Carver threw up his hands and grinned. “Yep, you caught us! We’re secret sorcerers. I can shoot fire from my hands, and Helena can heal wounds with her mind.” Carver lowered his hands and nudged Helena’s shoulder with his elbow. “She had to get good at healing herself since I always kick her ass when we practice fighting together.”

Helena jabbed her elbow into Carver’s arm with much more force than he had to hers. “I’m sorry, but who knocked your ass down and pinned you to the dirt earlier?”

That doesn’t count. I wasn’t paying attention.”

I know. You don’t pay attention to anything, Carver,” Helena said with a smile. “But anyways, I bet that’s why the sovereigns are at Caswen right now. They’re looking for people in the city who developed sorcery and haven’t turned themselves in.”

Maybe. But that seems like a weird coincidence that they’d be looking on the same day as the taxes are supposed to be collected.”

If you guys see any sovereigns up close in the city, you have to tell us about it, especially about the bone-claw feet, whatever that means,” Sebastian said.

Carver shrugged. “We’ll try our best, but we probably won’t see any. We’re going to be stuck at the Outer Market all day. I seriously doubt the sovereigns would go anywhere near there.”

Sebastian tilted his head. “Why wouldn’t they? It’s where the taxes are coming in from all the settlements, and they could check everyone who shows up for sorcery—however it is they check for it.”

If that’s the reason then why don’t we hear about them being at the Outer Market every year? I think they’ll only be inside the city,” Carver said.

Helena gave Carver a quick smack to the shoulder. “Well, then that’s even more reason for us to do a good job. If we finish early, we can go into the city and try to see one.”

Maybe,” Carver said, rubbing his shoulder.

It’s about time we actually saw a sovereign,” Helena continued. “We hear about them all the time—how they wiped out the tartaruns with their sorcery and conquered the world, making everyone learn and speak their language as well as making us pay them these taxes once a year, but we never see them. It’s crazy. Why do we almost never hear of them coming to our islands? And when they do, why have we never had one come to our village and look around for people who develop sorcery? It’s like they don’t exist, or we don’t exist to them.”

Sebastian opened his mouth. “I think—"

Hey, Carver!” another voice called out from behind the siblings, cutting Sebastian off.

Carver looked up and saw that it was his father waving at him and Helena.

You two ready?”

Already?” Carver called back in confusion.

Yep. Helena’s parents already loaded their wagon, remember? I just had to hitch it to the horses and get everyone else ready for the ride. And Duncan showed up right after the two of you left. So, let’s go.”

Alright, see you guys,” Carver said to Sebastian and Nina, then walked toward his father.

Bye,” Helena said, following Carver.

Bye,” Sebastian and Nina said, waving.

Make sure to look out for any sovereigns!” Sebastian added.

We will, don’t worry,” Carver replied without turning around.

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Author Bio & Information:

​Connor A. Jackson is an avid fan of video games and fantasy/sci-fi stories. Inspired by such tales, and tired of encountering stories that import real-world politics and agendas into their narratives and development, he finally decided to write a fantasy story of his own in the hopes of telling a captivating tale that anyone, from any group or walk of life, can enjoy. Connor lives in British Columbia, Canada, with his wife.

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