The Fabulous Life of Minnie the Sassy Chick: The Egg-Straodinary Egg

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The Fabulous Life of Minnie the Sassy Chick: The Egg-Straodinary Egg is a delightful children’s book written by Cindy Shirley and illustrated by Cleoward Sy. Riley and Carly are two sisters who find a rather unusual egg. A purple egg with pink fuzz merited special attention and care, so they begged their mother to keep it. Having never seen anything like it their mother agreed. Riley and Carly took very good care of their purple egg with pink fuzz. They bathed it, sang to it, snuggled, and even decorated it’s pink fuzz. Every day and night the egg was pampered and loved like a pet. One day while receiving special attention from the girls the egg began to crack. Since the egg was last in Riley’s care Carly blamed her and soon an argument ensued. Mom ended things quickly enough when she pointed out that their precious purple egg with pink fuzz was hatching. Soon a white chick with blue eyes, black feathers that looked like eye lashes, and you guessed it, pink feathers on her head emerged. The girls begged to keep the chick. Mom relented and she was named Minnie the Sassy Chick.

This children’s book was the perfect mix of humor and values. My girls were learning to take care of a “pet” without ever realizing it. Every day Riley and Carly diligently took care of their egg setting an example for any child reading this book. The writing was simple and straight forward making it easy for even my four year old to grasp the concepts. It was an instant hit.

The illustrations were beautifully drawn which was refreshing. Call me old fashioned but I still think children’s books should be works of art not something my six year old could draw.  When kids are young they haven’t quite made the connection between descriptions and their imagination that’s why pictures are needed. Great illustrations bring a children’s book to life. Poor illustrations just don’t seem to hold their attention as well. It certainly wouldn’t hold mine if you told me their was a tiger and drew a pitiful stick figure cat. Sorry I digress but you get my point and I’ll climb off my soap box. One isn’t needed here anyway. Cleoward did an egg-celent job.

If you want a fun imaginative book to teach your children how to care for a “pet” or to simply take responsibility for a few things around the house everyday this is the perfect book for you. It has a great blend of humor and values. Not to mention Cleoward’s illustrations will keep a child’s attention with their vivid colors and details. My youngest insisted we read it 4 out of 5 days so it gets 5 stars.

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Find out More Information on Goodreads

Bio

My photo for booksCindy L. Shirley grew up in a small town in Cherokee County, Georgia. She is a wife, mother of two, and grandmother of one amazing granddaughter. She loves working with children and has tons of hilarious stories to share. “So many heartfelt conversations and silly experiences took place during my time working as an ASP teacher. Kids just want to feel acknowledged and share their day with someone”. It was during her time working with students that Cindy decided to pursue a business in entertaining children. Mrs. Shirley founded “Let’s Pretend Parties” in 2006 and continues to work with children of all ages as a party planner and hostess to this day. She is involved with annual community and family events throughout both Cobb and Cherokee county school systems. These activities, along with personal experiences, are the basis for her upcoming children’s books: “Diesel the Body Guard; No Bullies Allowed!”, “Doodle and the Magic Christmas Float”, “Mom, Where Did You Go?”, and her new series, “The Fabulous Life of Minnie the Sassy Chick”. These stories are based on real characters from Cindy’s family, as well as her childhood experiences. Her creative and fun-filled story lines were written to bring a smile to children’s faces. When asked about becoming a new author, Cindy said “I will consider this new adventure to be a huge success if I can just make children laugh.”

My Heroes by Guest Author Katie Hart

After reading a book there are two things that always stay with me-the trouble maker (villain) and the peace maker (hero). Character wise, some books really surprise thumbnail_OC Fliker (2)me because some characters can turn out to be heroes in their own right even without saving the day or slaying dragons. For me a hero is someone who acts with his or her heart and in the simplest ways tries to make the world a better place. This got me thinking of my own novel Finding Destiny and who my heroes in the story are. So I thought I’d introduce a few of them.Let’s talk about my robot friends Fumble and Flicker. Fumble has a history that even surprised me when I finished writing his scenes. But to know more about his past you’d have to read the book. However, Fumble is first introduced when protagonist Alex lands himself a visit to the Field of Difference. Fumble goes above and beyond to help Alex find his missing daughter and helps him get back to his family.

 

 

 

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Flicker is one of the first robots, Alex encounters in the story. He helps Alex settle into his new life and shares with him the secret of the curse that would take Alex on a journey to save his family.

Both Fumble and Flicker are heroes to me because they are capable in seeking alternate ways in complex situations. Fumble doesn’t believe in hurting flesh beings and Flicker will do what he must to try help people, especially Alex. They both stand proud in whatever they do and always ready to defend the city against the half-breeds- half- human, half- owls. But they also believe in playing fair. I love their outlook in life and their supportive ways.

Next comes, Missy Talk Alot, another hero or heroine. Now readers might think she is __missy_talk_a_lot_____commission_by_justsilvia-d7mxw0ma funny choice to call a hero. She’s not always nice to people and she was manipulated by Dragonstar and does try to drown Alex. But she has a heart in her doll body somewhere and by the end of her journey in Quill City I do believe she finds her inner hero. She was one of my favourite characters to write about.

Who I see as heroes in books are characters that can spread goodness, in little ways. Like Blossom, Alex’s goodness fairy, whose purpose is to spread goodness to all who needed help. I also have a place in my heart for those heroes who start out cold-hearted and don’t wantto help at all. Then they change over the course of the story and find a way to expose their inner goodness.

There are characters in stories, that may not be intended as heroes but their actions reflected their good deeds and it’s interesting to see them grow up with the story. So who are your heroes in books that you’ve read and why? Leave a comment and share their stories.

 

Finding Destiny

 

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When eighteen year old Alex’s little sister’s pony goes missing, he sets out to look for her and finds himself in a strange gypsy camp in the middle of a forest. The pony is being cared for by a young girl called Faith. When Alex accepts a drink from Faith’s grandmother, he wakes up later to find himself transported into 2038 to a technologically-advanced, very colourful world inhabited by humans and robots.

Alex soon discovers that he is now twenty, married and has a magical little baby girl. A magic he only seems to notice. He soon finds out that he will have to defend his little girl from the half-breeds with everything he has. He travels back through the magic pages of books to try and save her before it is too late and she is lost from him forever.

 

Author Bio

Katrina Hart aka Katie lives in the East of England with her family and her two hyper cats Holly and Smokey. Katie always has a passion for reading and could spend her entire life engrossed in good books. During her online writing course, she fell in love with her own created stories. This led to the creation of Finding Destiny, her first fantasy novel. Finding Destiny is the first of her many published novels and is available in both Ebook and paperback version. She loves writing all the time particularly during the late nights when magical stars are out in the sky.

You can find out more about Katie and her work at the following links:

Blog: : http://katrinamarie25.wordpress.com Website:

http://katrina134.wixsite.com/muses/short-stories

Twitter: @KatrinaHart2015

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Katrina-Hart-1785712648319624/ Finding Destiny

EBook: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Finding-Destiny-Katrina-Hart-ebook/dp/B00U1WUFSE/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8 Finding Destiny

Paperback: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Finding-Destiny-Katrina-Hart/dp/1543052487/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1499734448&sr=8-2&keywords=finding+destiny Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Katrina-Hart/e/B013KPPUGK/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0 Finding Destiny’s

promo video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQ3dH0NXa9w

Finding Peace ∼ a short story part 2

After the furniture maker left the next afternoon Count Vincent asked Meredith to go for a ride with him. She agreed happily and went ahead to get the stable boys to prepare the horses. Henry stopped the count in the halls. “My lord, Meredith is a young lady you hired.”
“I know Henry.”

“A very lovely young lady my lord, but a servant none the less.”

“Thank you Henry. Have you arranged for new dresses yet?” Henry nodded in reply as the count marched off.

 

The next morning Count Vincent and Meredith went for a walk around the grounds. He wanted to add more gardens but didn’t know what or where to add. Meredith suggested several flowers with meaning and an herb garden for cooking and medicinal value. He asked if she knew anything about gardening but she did not.

He looked at her a long moment “There’s more to you than you admit Meredith. Why did you run away?”

“My lord, why not ask what you really want to know?” He stared at her “I’ll save you the trouble. I will not tell you from where or why I came my lord. My secrets are mine to keep.”  She said as she went inside.

That afternoon a gardener was sent for and plans were drawn up for three new gardens. Meredith’s new dresses arrived as well and the count made it a point to stop by the kitchen to see her while she cooked dinner. Hetty the old cook Henry hired shooed him out scolding him in French. Meredith was laughing. She apparently spoke French. He did as well but it surprised him that she did too.

Friday they went to the market just as they planned. Meredith had a field day in the rows of stands selling cloth. With a little help they purchased enough material to get a start on covers for the main rooms and matching curtains. When they arrived home three women waited to help Meredith with the sewing. She left the draperies to them and wanted to start on the covers but the count insisted they go for a ride.

The rugs they purchased arrived and the house began feeling like a home. Every week another piece was added and another servant was hired or let go as needed. After the count finished working or attending other matters in the morning he stole Meredith away in the afternoon. They would go riding or for walks and lately he began teaching her to fence. Their worst sport though was playing tricks on Henry. The count insisted he did the same when he was a boy and was merely picking up where he left off. Meredith was torn she liked Henry but she also enjoyed the game.

One morning Count Vincent was on his way to meet Meredith when Henry stopped him in the hall. “My lord you did not hire Miss Meredith to be your playmate.”

“Henry,” Vincent scoffed.

“Sir, she is a servant your father would be most distressed if he knew what were going on especially given your circumstance. The young lady has been here two years and still has not put this house to right.”

“It looks great Henry.”

“My lord have you forgotten the Bridal Chamber?”

“No I have not, she’ll finish it when she’s ready.” Vincent was suddenly in a less forgiving mood.

“Have you even seen it?”

“I promised her I would not until it was finished.” Vincent sighed “Henry please it will be fine look at what she’s done with the rest of house. It’s beautiful.”

“Just like her I’m sure.” Vincent gave him a cross look “My lord I’m only saying this for your own good. Get her to finish the room and send her away.”

“Henry I’m surprised at you. She’s a friend just like you.” Henry didn’t look convinced. “Are you saying that a boy and a girl can’t be friends?”

“My lord I am only saying that Miss Meredith grows lovelier everyday to all of us in so many ways.”

 

The count was walking back from the library one evening when he heard music from a room down the hall. The door was ajar and Meredith was inside. She sat in a chair playing a lute and sang in Italian. He listened at the door a moment before stepping inside. She stopped at once and stood up. “My lord I’m sorry to have disturbed you.”

“You did not disturb me. I heard music and came to investigate. What song were you singing?”

“I don’t know some folk song my lord.”

“In Italian?”

“Is it my lord I did not know.”

“Where did you learn to play?”

“A friend taught me.”

The count looked around the room considering what she’d said “I have never been in this room.”

“Do you like it? Every lady should have a music room.”

“Of course, will you sing me another?”

“My lord I really should get back to my sewing.”

“Just one, I promise not to tell Henry.”

“Any requests my lord?”

“Something a little more lively.” Vincent sat in a chair across from her as she strummed up a tune.

Meredith was in the kitchen up to her elbows in dough laughing with Heddy when the count found her. Three men followed him in. It surprised her to see him accompanied by others. They were all about his age and handsome but they knew it which made them swagger. Meredith rolled her eyes and concentrated on her work. “There she is I told you she was real enough. Who else but a lovely young woman could set a house to right?” the count said to his friends. “Meredith this is Matthew, John, and Alexander; duke, duke and count.” Meredith looked up politely wiping away a stray hair with the back of her hand and in the process spreading flour over her cheeks.

“My lords forgive me I seem to have my hands full.”

Alexander smiled at her “Of course, Vincent tells us that you are quite the song bird would you sing for us this afternoon?”

“I’m sorry my lord but I have to go to market.”

“Surely Heddy can go.” Vincent offered.

Meredith turned to him “My lord it’s for the last room.”

“Very well,” he looked to his disappointed friends. “Perhaps another time then, come gentlemen let us finish our business.”

Meredith returned from the market that evening ready to attend her sewing and was surprised to see the table set in the dining room. She stepped inside and the doors closed behind her. Vincent smiled at her. “My lord what is the meaning of this?”

“Dinner,”

“But sir,”

“Meredith you’ve been avoiding me for weeks its just dinner.” She nodded finally pulling off her wrap.

“You did not buy anything?”

“I can not find what I am looking for.” He nodded and pulled out a chair for her.

After that evening she avoided more dinners with Vincent but he would sit where ever she was sewing or working. She found it hard to slip away to play the lute in the music room and missed it terribly. She thought about letting him listen but knew it wouldn’t be proper. Henry would put a stop to it but he had been absent lately. Her only option was to finish the room and search for other employment.

Henry stopped Meredith in the halls and nearly scared the wits out of the girl. She looked at him incredulously. “Where have you been?”

“The count sent me on an urgent errand. Miss Meredith there is something I must ask.” He pulled her into a spare bedroom and shut the door. “I’m afraid I must ask you to leave.”

“I can’t Henry the last room isn’t done.”

“But you told me two months ago it was nearly done.”

“Yes but then I started over.”

“You what? Why?”

“Henry I heard what you said to the Count he’s getting married.” Henry nodded. “He wouldn’t have liked the room I started before but this one is perfect for newlyweds. Henry I need your help. You have to get him out of the house for a day so we can switch some furniture and we need some men to do the lifting. Then I need you to be our chaperone.”

“I was afraid of this.”

“Henry its not me I swear, he is handsome and charming but it would never work. Oh God Henry please.”

“Of course I will Meredith.”

“I will leave as soon as I can.”

“This is your home too, you could come back once he was married.”

“No I can’t,” Meredith turned and walked away.

 

Vincent went hunting three days later and men came in from town to move furniture. Meredith switched out the beds from one room and furnishings from other rooms. The curtains had already arrived two days ago and were hung. The maids helped with the other décor in the room and put the other rooms back together. Meredith eyed over the Bridal Chamber but something was still missing. Henry seemed pleased but she couldn’t let it go. She closed the doors and went to one of the other bed rooms they’d rearranged.

This room received the linens she’d originally furnished the bridal chamber in. Peach drapes with sage green tassels. Red rugs with gold lattice, it was lovely. She sat on the window seat and picked up the lute from where’d she’d hidden it. She strummed a soft tune thinking about the other room. Then she knew what it needed.

Meredith sat by the window with yards of light blue fabric draped over her lap as she diligently stitched tiny gold vines. The count entered the room and looked at her “What are you up to?”

“A surprise my lord.” She smiled before returning to her stitching.

“Will you come for a ride?”

“I have too much work to do my lord.” He nodded and left.

That evening Meredith sat by the fire still stitching. “Meredith stop you’ll go blind.” The count took the fabric from her lap and draped it over the back of an adjacent chair. “I have something for you.”

“For me, my lord?” he nodded and threw a shawl around her shoulders. It was lined with silk and felt cool against her skin. She’d almost forgotten the cool elegance. She ran a hand over the outside and realized it was fur. “My lord I can not accept this.”

“Don’t you like it? Their the foxes I got a few days ago.”

“It’s much too expensive.”

“Then you can earn it.” He handed her the lute. “Sing me a song.”

“I…” she looked around and noticed Henry in the shadows. “Only one but I still can’t accept this.”

“Well I won’t take it back.”

 

Meredith continued her stitching and the count continued to try to see her. She kept making excuses not to be alone with him but soon found it increasingly hard to convince herself that’s what she wanted. One evening the count appeared with a book. He read quietly until Henry left for bed. Vincent looked to Meredith “Will you tell me why you ran away now Meredith?”

“My secrets are mine just as yours are yours my lord.”

“I want to show you something Meredith will you come with me if I promise to behave?”  Meredith set aside her sewing. She glanced for Henry secretly glad he’d gone to bed. The count took her elbow but not her arm. Meredith was actually disappointed and made it a point to scold herself.

Vincent stopped in front of a door and removed a candle from the wall sconce before opening it. He motioned Meredith in and followed. He lit several more candles inside; it was the room Meredith furnished with peach linens. “Why are we here?”

“I was roaming through the halls and noticed this room changed.”

“I decided I didn’t like it my lord.”

“And is this more suiting?”

“Oh it’s quite lovely.” She said happily. In fact it was nearly her favorite room. Vincent crossed the room and picked up the lute from the window seat.

“Apparently you like it a lot.”

“My lord forgive me. It’s just that you know I play in the music room and its not appropriate that I play for you. But sometimes it helps me to think and I…”

“Meredith it’s all right, really, I was thinking no one sleeps here and it’s a waste of a beautiful room. I want this to be your room.”

“No,” Vincent stared at her “my lord I am a servant I can not.”

“What can it hurt Meredith, Henry has a room near mine.”

“So he can serve you my lord.”

“Please Meredith, even if I don’t know who you really are I know you were not always a servant. Take this room you may play here all you wish and I will not bother you.” Meredith finally relented. Not only could she play there but she could sew as well and finally have a refuge from the count.

Three nights of sewing alone in her room nearly drove Meredith crazy. She hated to admit it but she missed the count. After dinner the fourth night she sewed in the main room. Vincent read quietly all night with out a word. Henry left to prepare the counts room and Meredith got up to leave as well. “Good night my lord.”

“Vincent,”

“My lord?”

My name is Vincent,” Meredith smiled and went to her room.

 

After lunch Meredith’s eyes needed a break so she went for a walk with Vincent. They kept their distance but talked the entire time. Henry followed but didn’t hear their conversation.  They started going for walks every afternoon and it made Meredith’s sewing faster. Her stitches were neater and finer. The days were flying by now and spring was approaching. Things between she and Vincent were back to normal and she was able to forget that awful day when she heard Henry and Vincent talking. There was something more though something she couldn’t quite put her finger on.

 

Meredith greeted the coachman warmly when he arrived to pick her up from the market. He smiled and nodded before opening the door. “My lord,” Meredith gasped when she saw Vincent inside “but where’s Henry?”

“On an urgent errand I’m afraid.” He helped her inside setting her package off to the side. Meredith arranged her skirt and pulled the blanket over her lap. “Heddy’s making a delightful meal, would you join me if I promise to behave?”

“I will my lord.”

“Vincent,” he corrected. Meredith looked to the blanket in her lap.

The count was right Heddy made a scrumptious five course meal that took most of the evening and all topics of conversation to finish. Towards the end of desert Vincent moved to the chair beside Meredith and sat down. He took her hand in his. “You promised to behave.” Meredith said quietly looking at his hand.

“Meredith please, I have given this a lot of thought. You would make me so happy if you would marry me.”

“Why would you say such a thing?” she asked and got up from the table. Before he could reply she left.

Meredith avoided Vincent the next morning but found him very distraught in the library after lunch. He brightened a little at seeing her. Meredith closed the door behind her. “Is Henry here?”

“No we are alone.”

Meredith nodded she pulled the chair beside his a little closer to him. “I am sorry for the way I reacted last night. It is just that I promised myself since I was little that I would not marry. I wanted always to remain strong and independent.”

“You could never be less. I was right when I guessed you were not always a servant?” Meredith nodded. “A lady of breeding, a duchess or a countess?”

“That is irrelevant.”

“But don’t you see that it is not?”

“Vincent it is, you are engaged to another.”

“How did you know?”

“I overheard you and Henry. This is to be your home.”

“I would rather it were our home. Meredith I have never even met her.”

“It is still irrelevant the reason I ran away is because I too am engaged to someone I never met.”

“Then let them marry each other.”

Meredith laughed lightly. “I am afraid my suitor can not be put off so easily.”

“Tell me who it is I will take care of it.” Meredith looked at him as he took her hand “Please Meredith I would give up everything I have to be with you.” Meredith realized then just how serious he was. He pulled her close and kissed her gently “We could run away together. They would never find us.” Meredith tried to speak but he stopped her “Just think about it please.”

Meredith went back to her room and tried to play hoping to clear her head but her thoughts were too jumbled to find the notes. She tried to sew but the stitches came out uneven. She went to the kitchen instead to speak with Heddy but somewhere along the way she already made a decision. She took the shopping list and her shawl and slipped out the door.

Vincent came home late that evening. The whole kingdom was in an uproar. He rushed to find Meredith wondering if she’d heard the bad news. She was in her room sobbing face down into her pillows. “Meredith are you all right?” he sat down on the edge of the bed and put his hand on the small of her back. “I know it is horrible news. I can hardly believe it myself. He was such a good man the entire kingdom is in shock.”

“The kingdom? What has happened?” she asked lifting her head.

“The king, King Edward died this morning. But you did not know? Why were you crying?” she sobbed horribly again.

“My father is dead.” She sobbed even harder. “I went to the market, my father is dead, his servant told me.” She took a deep breath “funeral is in a few days.” She sobbed again “I must go.”

“Do you want me to go with you?”

“No you must go to the king’s service or you will be missed. I will send word when I can.” She dried her eyes with her handkerchief and sat up.

“Don’t you think you should wait till morning?”

“I’ve been gone long enough besides my coach should be here soon.”

“Take mine.”

“And have my brother hunt you down?” she shook her head grimly. He got up and she followed. She straightened her dress and hair in the mirror “What a mess.” She sighed.

“Still beautiful.” She moved for her bag but Vincent took it instead. “Maybe this will change your situation.”

“Maybe,” she replied but didn’t believe it. She put her fox wrap around her shoulders. “Thank you for your kindness Vincent.” He kissed her quickly before she opened the door and took the bag.

 

Finding Peace∼ a short story part 1

I have been super busy this week between a trip to Tennessee to see one of my best friends,book reviews, nine hour shifts at work, and getting ready for a trip to California this weekend. So I thought I would try something a little different this week and the next.

The following post is the first part of a short story I wrote after a day long marathon of Disney movies. I was sick and suddenly thought I could do better, maybe maybe not. I purposely left out character descriptions and most scene descriptions so the reader could use their imagination. Let me know what you think.

Samantha watched as her brother James stood before the entire kingdom for the announcement of his coming child. It would be a grand day indeed now that their family’s succession was assured. Their father King Edward thought James’ wife Carolyn was the best woman in the world save their mother. Since the day they’d married he’d hounded the young couple to have children. It was the same for her other brother David and his wife Diana. They hadn’t even been married a year yet and father wouldn’t leave them alone.

Samantha was the eldest girl but the third born. Her mother died shortly after she was born and her father remarried three years later. She had two younger siblings by her step mother, Juliana and Jonathon. All were present today for the King’s grand announcement but Samantha was already planning her escape. These social affairs annoyed her to begin with, but this was by far the worst. The whole idea of marriage was absurd to her. Being a wife, at the beck and call of a man was repulsive no matter what her status would be. She wanted no part of it. And having children, the very though made her want to scream.

A duke strolled by with his wife and children in tow and Samantha saw her opportunity to escape. She melted into his pack of children and slipped out a side entrance into the servants halls. She was laughing as she strode towards her room until she saw her father’s aide directly in front of her.

Samantha sat in her room sulking later that evening after a stern lecture from her father. Carolyn slipped in quietly trying to smooth things over as always. She was the closest thing Samantha had to an older sister but she couldn’t get over the fact that Carolyn embodied the very thing she hated most.

Carolyn sat on the bed “What’s really bothering you Sam?”

Sam turned away “Nothing, you know I hate royal functions.”

“Yes, but I also know you’ll do just about anything to make that man smile, and he specifically asked you to be there.”

Samantha heaved a sigh “Did you and James have to have a baby?”

Carolyn moved closer and put her arm around Samantha’s shoulder “Actually we did. The kingdom needs an heir and your brother will be king one day. Besides that we wanted to have a child.”

“Why?”

“It’s not something I can explain, you’ll understand one day when you’re married.”

“I’m not getting married and I’m not having any children.”

“Samantha, of course you will.”

“I won’t”

“You only say that because you’re young.” Carolyn said trying to talk some sense into her.

“I’m 14, I know what I want and what I don’t want. And I don’t want to be given to some man I barely know to play his wife and bare his children.”

“Samantha!” Carolyn huffed as she stormed out of the room. She and James had only met a few times before their marriage was arranged. Samantha hadn’t meant to be cruel, but she’d meant what she’d said. As a princess the same could happen to her.

 

James paced back and forth as his father read the letters from King William of their neighboring kingdom. The situation between their lands had been tense to say the least for years. As it stood now they were on the verge of war. Peace treaties in the past had failed and the latest one was running out soon, a more permanent solution was needed. King Edward looked to his son he’d tried everything and the last thing he wanted was a war. “Father you have to accept.” James implored him.

“How can I?” he asked.

“Because what he proposes is the best answer. Besides, Samantha will understand eventually.” James replied urging his father to accept the treaty.

King Edward sat down at his desk and pulled out a piece of parchment “Dear God, I hope your right.” He said as he dipped his quill in ink.

Samantha walked through the garden with Juliana when a maid summoned her to her father’s office. Samantha was afraid she was in trouble again, but couldn’t think of anything she’d done. She followed the maid obediently wondering what was going on.

Her father was waiting on her and smiled as soon as she entered the room. He dismissed all the servants and sat her down on the sofa. He retrieved a large box with a smaller one on top. “What’s this?”

“Just a small gift.” He said handing her the large box and reserving the smaller one. “You may open it.”

Samantha pulled off the lid and was surprised to see a fine gold gown. “A dress father?”

“Your 15th birthday is approaching I thought we could have a ball.” He smiled at her. Samantha smiled as well knowing it would make him happy if she wore it, not to mention it would be the first time he’d thrown a ball in her honor.

He opened the smaller box “And this was your mother’s she said it had been in her family for years.” He gently lifted a pearl pendant on a delicate gold chain out of the box. “She said her mother gave it to her on her wedding day but I thought a few years early in your case would not hurt.” He said placing the chain around her neck.

She lifted her hair out of the way for him with one hand and delicately fingered the pearl with the other. “Oh father its lovely I… a few years early?” she looked up at him. “What do you mean?”

Her father knelt down before her and took both her hands “Samantha you know we are on the verge of war, this marriage could stop it forever. King William’s son is only a few years older. It is a fine match and you will be a queen. I thought we could invite him to the ball so you could meet the boy.”

“But father I must protest,”

“I know Samantha, but this our last resort. He will make a fine husband.”

“How could you? I won’t do it, you can not force me.”

“Samantha be reasonable.”

“I am. I told Carolyn the same thing last month. James married someone he cared for. David was engaged before even you met Diana, but me? I am engaged before I even give consent.”

“Samantha it is for the good of both our countries, surely you must see that?”

“There must be some other way.”

“There is none.”

“Well I do not care. I will not marry him.”

“Samantha you will.”

“I will not and if you say I must then you will lose a daughter.” Samantha said as she stormed out of the room.

 

Prince Richard knocked on his father’s door and Sarah let him in. The king was still at breakfast but he had said it was important. His mother was mad at him again, but that would pass quickly, it always did. The two never really could stay mad at one another. King William saw him and waved him forward.

“Have a seat Richard please.”

“Your Chamberlain said you wanted to see me.”

“Sarah fix him a plate please.” King William asked the maid avoiding Richard’s remark.

“Just bacon and eggs Sarah.” Richard said politely. Sarah curtsied and fixed him a plate before scurrying away. Richard thought it odd that she would leave before the meal was over, but he figured she had other duties to attend to.

“I received word from King Edward yesterday, it seems his son Prince James is expecting a child.”

“This is what you asked me to breakfast to tell me?”

“Well there was that and matters of the peace negotiations.” Richard stopped pouring a glass of orange juice. “I put a proposal to him a short while ago and am happy to say that he has accepted. It means a lasting peace between our peoples.”

“That’s wonderful news.” Richard congratulated him helping himself to a biscuit.

“I’m glad you feel that way. Then I have your word that you’ll do your part in this?”

“I’ll do what I can of course.” Richard said jovially.

King William put his elbows on the table and folded his hands. “King Edward has a daughter a few years younger than you.” Richard sat back in his chair his good mood lost. “It’s already been arranged. When she’s old enough you will be married.”

“That’s it, I don’t get a say in this?”

“No,”

“Do I at least get to meet her?”

“She’s turning 15 in two months and her father is throwing a ball in her honor.”

“15, are you joking?”

“Now Richard I’m sure this isn’t any easier on her.”

“She’s a girl all they ever want is to marry, what difference does the groom make to her? Besides I don’t want her to know it’s me when we meet. If she does they’ll have her dressed up like a doll and she’ll be on her best behavior. No if I have to meet this girl I want to do so on my own terms.”

“Richard please, you are a prince there are certain matters of decorum you must follow.”

“Father really, you’ve already arranged my bride can I at least see what I’m getting into?”

“Fine, but Richard I beg you behave yourself.”

 

Count Vincent arrived at the castle the day before Princess Samantha’s birthday ball. He was escorted to the throne room to be presented to King Edward as soon as he arrived. None of the castle servants noticed him what was one more courtier. Walking past an open door he noticed a servant boy in seemingly new clothes and cap speaking with a maid. Normally the scene wouldn’t have caught his attention, but the boy’s clothes were new, it was odd for a servant to have new clothes. The maid noticed his attention and closed the door. Count Vincent moved on.

The king received him warmly, but seemed anxious over the impending arrival of Prince Richard. Count Vincent was sure it was only natural since the prince would marry his daughter. He excused himself from the king and retired to the rooms provided for him.

Later that afternoon Count Vincent went to the market to buy the princess a small trinket. It was after all her birthday. As he wandered through the stalls he caught a glimpse of the same boy he’d seen at the castle. The boy was headed into a darker section that didn’t look to be a reputable area. The count followed curious what he was up to. From a spot across the way the count watched the boy produce a silver comb. A man took it form him and offered a copper coin. The boy was being cheated.

“I didn’t steal it it’s my mom’s” they boy said harshly.

“A copper coin’s all you’ll get.”

“Give it back then.” The boy reached for the comb, but the man pushed him away.  “I said give it back.”

“Take the coin.” The man growled.

“Give him back the comb and we won’t have a problem.” The count said from behind the boy.

“Ah my lord the boy and I had a deal.” The man smiled revealing black teeth.

“No we didn’t.” the man pushed the boy and he fell down. His hat fell off letting loose a mane of light brown hair.

“A girl,” the man gasped.

“There now do you really want to cheat a young girl?” The count offered the man an out. The man handed over the comb and disappeared into the crowd. The count helped the girl up and she quickly tucked her hair away. He handed her the comb.

“Thanks,” she huffed turning away.

“Wait please, I saw you at the castle may I ask what your doing here?”

She shrugged “The maid is a friend, I needed money so I came here to sell this I thought it obvious.”

“My lord,”

“Sorry,”

“I’m a count. I’m assuming you are a peasant so you should address me as my lord or by title.” The girl started to walk away and the count caught up to her. “Sorry what I was hinting at was that I could help with your financial situation. As it turns out I am in the process of acquiring a summer home for my father and it could use a lady’s touch in its decorating. That is if you were interested in a job.”

“And what of your mother? My lord,” She added hastily.

“She’s much too busy at home.” He smiled at her. “A small sum and room and board sound all right?” She nodded. “Two conditions.” She looked to him worried. “First you must wear suitable attire.”

“And second?”

“I shall need to know your name.”

“Meredith.”

“Vincent.”

“Count Vincent,” she corrected and he smiled at her.

“Ah Henry, would you take this young lady to the summer home and have a dress sent for her. Let her pick out something small for the princess and have it sent to me at the castle as well.”

“Yes my lord.” An older gentleman said taking Meredith by the arm.

 

Meredith walked through the empty halls of the large summer home. Suddenly she was lost as to how to furnish a home and was hoping the count would at least allow her to find other employment before throwing her out. She heard footsteps behind her and thought it was Henry. “Henry I’m fine really you’re not my servant you’re the…” she turned “Count Vincent, you’re back early. How was the ball?”

“Cancelled, I’m afraid. The princess was feeling ill.”

“More like making a statement about her coming marriage… my lord… I’m sorry I should not speak ill of the princess. It’s just the servants say she wishes to marry no one.”

Count Vincent smiled easily “I can only imagine having the groom picked for her made the matter harder. But I thought all women wanted to marry?”

“Hardly, it’s the last thing I want my lord.”

He thought a moment before changing subjects, “So what do you think of my father’s new home?”

“My lord it’s very nice but I’m sorry to say I have no idea where to begin. When you said it needed a woman’s touch I thought you meant a few paintings some tapestries or mirrors not rooms of furniture.”

“Not all the rooms are empty.”

“My lord I’m sorry I misled you but I can not do this. I will begin looking for other employment immediately.”

“Nonsense the furniture maker arrives tomorrow you merely have to pick a style. We’ll learn together all right. Then on Friday we’ll go to the market and start on the rugs and linens. You can sew?”

“I can but that’s a lot of sewing my lord.”

“Then you’ll need help.” He took her arm and walked with her back towards an empty room.

“My lord I don’t think you’re supposed to do that.” Meredith commented as she glanced at his arm.

“Pish posh, your still a young lady besides no ones around.”

“What about Henry? He’s always around my lord.”

“Then we’ll have to fix that,” he smiled. He stopped in front of a pair of double doors and threw them open. The room was large and spacious with plenty of light and made of tan stone. “This is to be my mother’s room. Do with it whatever you like. I want it to be special though so take as long as you like.”

“What does she like?”

“Imagine it’s your room and do what you will.”

Meredith stepped into the room and looked around “Are you sure you want me to do this?”

“Of course,” he eyed over her plain brown dress. “I thought I asked Henry to get you suitable attire?”

“My lord? But this dress is fine.”

“You may be a servant and on any other girl that dress would do but on you it looks like a rag. Besides you and I will be spending a considerable amount of time together and you should have something suiting.”

“Thank you my lord.” She replied trying to hide her embarrassment at his remark.

Chook Named Chuck Has Amazing Luck

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Chook Named Chuck has Amazing Luck (Friendship Series Book 3) is a children’s book written by Kimberly Kleczka.  Chuck is a depressed down on his luck bird, who looks like a chicken, with an amazing skill. Only Chuck thinks it’s a burden. which is why Chuck is depressed, or at least he seemed so to me, that is until he meets Klara the cow. She encourages Chuck to use his talent of mimicry to entertain and help other farm yard animals.

This book was a short and entertaining read. It is perfect for reading at bedtime or encouraging beginning readers. The rhymes are simple and fun with good cadences designed to help early readers anticipate words in a sentence. The concepts are easy to grasp as well. The pictures were bright and fun. They loved the barnyard scenes, My girls even knew it was a goat when I thought it was a llama. Hey what do I know?

My 4 and 6 year old girls helped review this book tonight. I asked if they would read this book again and it was an enthusiastic yes. I asked how many times a month and Grace my six year old said ten times a month. I asked their favorite part and of course it was the fart joke, it gets them every time. Way to go Kimberly! They also enjoyed the fact that chuck could sound like a dog and a pig, yep those two in particular. I rather enjoyed sounding like a fire engine myself while I read.

I was a bit more picky when it came to reviewing this book. I would have liked to seen the art work cleaned up a little so I knew the goat was a goat, and a chook wasn’t a chicken. The sentence structure slacked here and there to fit the cadences and rhyming schemes and irritated the writer in me. I would have given this 4 stars. But my girls loved it and I’m sure I will be reading it again in a night or two if not the next several nights so it gets five stars from us.

Crepes a la Dad

Everything is quiet on a late Sunday afternoon. We’ve been to church and ran a few familyerrands or had a ball game. Everyone is tired and cranky. My dad wanders into the kitchen and starts digging around. At first no one pays attention. He measures out the flour and other ingredients, still no one cares. The electric crepe pan is plugged in and the whole house stands at attention.

 

Mom sets the table, then loads it with jams, jellies, butter and powder sugar. The kids wander into the kitchen to check on the height of the stack. Not tall enough to start yet. Dad always had to get a head start before we began to eat or we would spend half of dinner waiting on crepes. The last inch of crepes seems to take hours as we wait.

Finally we sit at the table and the first batch of crepes is set in front of us. I place one on my plate spreading a thin layer of strawberry jam over it before rolling it up. The second received butter and powdered sugar. The first bite was pure magic that only dad could deliver. I watch him as I eat dipping the crepe pan, waiting till the crepe is perfectly cooked then gently easing it off, before repeating it again. Its a tedious task but he’s happy because we are happy.

Crepes were always a rare treat in our house. They took my dad a long time to prepare and they aren’t the best thing to eat for dinner. They always brought the family together though, waiting, eating, cleaning up. It sounds like any other meal but it wasn’t. It was forced togetherness while everyone was in a good mood. All of us were excited about the dinner to come. We had good conversations, joking and laughing at those dinners.

Crepes were dad’s specialty. No one else learned how to make them and now that he passed those days are  gone. Crepe dinners are one of my favorite memories of him and my childhood. I can still see him standing in the corner of the L shaped counter in our kitchen gently prying a crepe off the pan. Its one of those memories that refuse to fade even after 20 years and I hope it never does.