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Rivals: A Review

This is the second story in the Skid series and was gifted to me by the author, Doug Solter, in return for my review. I mentioned this coming out a while back and Doug did a guest post here last year at about the same time as the release date so I’ve been pretty excited about this book for a while. I adored the first in the series.

skid2The book picked up a little while after the previous Skid story, following our darling heroine Samantha and her boyfriend Manny. I must admit the very beginning threw me a little. Samantha was driving fast and recklessly on a normal road, something I felt was a little out of character given her past and what happened to her father. This happened again later in the book and made me feel a little frustrated.

I loved the chapters from Manny’s point of view and having Paige on the scene (Samantha’s younger sister). I also liked the general plot of the book and the extra elements added by Manny’s ex. The books was also written well in terms of pacing, and the balance of action and character  dialogue and down scenes.

But despite my desire to love this book as much as I did the first I just couldn’t. While some of how Samantha reacted felt realistic and understandable given the pressure she was under, she came across a little too immature for a girl her age. She whined a shed load, which was heavy slogging to read and although some of the things she did wrong were understandable I don’t know a single girl above the age of about 13-14 that still gives someone the silent treatment when angry.

I also have mixed feelings about where the book ended, half-way through a season and the story’s plot. While I can understand the author’s desire not to publish a sequel that’s way longer than the first one, I personally would have prefered a longer book that had a little less of the immaturity and whining and had a complete plot.

The last few percent redeemed the book a little so I’ll definitely read the next one but unfortunately this isn’t as good as the first.

Highland Soldiers 1 – The Enemy: A Review

I picked up a copy of this romance novel when I noticed it was free on Amazon and offered to review it for the author.

As the cover suggests this is a pretty typical Highlander romance story. Normally I find romances a little difficult to read as I want more to the plot than a lot offer but I can’t say that was a problem with this novel. The plot took from page 1 and kept going right to the end. If anything I felt a little overwhelmed sometimes with how much was going on around the main couple.

I adored Mari and Callum as well as most of the rest of the characters (I don’t think I was meant to like a few of them) and routed for them throught the story. I almost cried at several points during the book but I can’t say why because that would spoil the plot.

All in all a brilliant romance with plenty of action, strife and emotion to keep you turning the page. I’ll definitely read more from this author.

The Dog Hunters: A Review

I was gifted a copy of this ebook by the author, David Bell, in return for a review.

When I read the prologue of this (told from the point of view of the dog) I wasn’t expecting this to be 100% serious and adult, but that’s normally fine. I like a good laugh as well as the next and I love dogs so no issues there.

The plot in general is a pretty interesting one and I didn’t have any problem with that side of things. It’s a pretty awesome medievil sort of adventure story that spans a big part of the globe. I also thought, for the most part, that the characterisation was pretty good. A few of the characters were a little cardboard cut out ish, especially the bad guys, but it could have been a lot worse.

I did find myself jarred out of the story a few times though. I don’t know whether it was because the target audience was younger kids or not, but there was the occasional historical oddity, where I was a bit unsure whether something existed back then, especially a reference to a curriculum vitae.

I also found there were a lot of references to bodily fluids of all sorts of kinds (mostly vomit and crap) and while I found this amusing once or twice, felt it was over done how many times someone got covered in one or the other or ended up with a mouthful of someone elses. I don’t know if it is because I wasn’t the target audience, but I’m not a squeamish girl and got up to all sorts of mischief with my brothers so I’m thinking even for most kids it would be a bit much.

Finally, the thing that most ticked me off about this book was the ending. It didn’t end, it just stopped while the main characters were in the middle of a disaster. Then there was an epilogue by the dog where we’re told there’s more to come in the form of another book. This seems to be a trend in indie publishing and I really really really hate it! Seriously, if you’re story isn’t finished don’t publish the fricking book! I don’t get the logic behind putting out a half finished book, especially when being indie means you don’t have to fit within the word count guidelines of a publisher.

I’d rather have an epic to read than get to the end of a story and find I either have to wait or pay more money just to continue. In those circumstances I usually refuse to buy any more books by that author on principle. I don’t mind a bit of a cliffhanger in a series, where the over arching plot isn’t entirely finished with, but the beginning hook of the book should be satisfied, the adventure that begins should at least be at a good stopping point, like a safe place, the destination (even if more adventures happen at the destination). There should be some satisfaction.

As such I find I can’t really recommend this book, which is a shame, because it’s not badly written and I think a lot of younger male readers will enjoy it, but wait until more books are out, or the series is finished before starting.

The Book Thief: A Review

This book was recommended to me several times and I noticed it had been made into a film so I grabbed it and had a read.

To start with I felt the book was a little gimmicky with it being narrated by death, but it grew on me and the personality applied to death was very welcome humour to what could otherwise have been a very depressing story.

In terms of storytelling there was a lot I know teachers of writing would have frowned on and a part of my delight in the book was that so many of the writing ‘rules’ were broken. Plot was spoilt by the narrator on several occasions. We were told almost meaningless facts and stories that appeared to have no point, but it worked.

The characterisation the book was superb. Everything felt a little larger than life but it still worked and it was impressively consistent in it’s almost absurdity. I also loved death’s obsession with colour and it led to some of my favourite quotes from the whole book. ‘It [The light] was all the fabric of the curtains allowed. If you’re optomistic, think of it as bronze.

I found myself very touched by moments in the story, especially as it was told from the very innocent eyes of a child within Nazi Germany. So many of these sorts of stories are told from our point of view – The British – who must face the evil of Hitler and be brave, and while this story held to Hitler being evil and often his most violent supporters, it showed the humanity in the every day Germans. They were people who, just like us, wanted to survive, and had to do what they could and make decisions based on the little information their government allowed them to have.

All in all a pretty amazing look at a tough subject, that made me laugh aloud, mostly at its cleverness, but occasionally at its absurdity.

Crimson Harvest: A Review

I was gifted a copy of this ebook by Thom Mollohan in return for an honest review.

I was very intrigued by the premise for this novel and the blurb:

Could there be more than meets the eye in the handsome and charming Gage who has won over Heather’s friend, Jillian?

Sixteen-year-old Heather is a girl who just wants to fit in and have fun. But one night of breaking the rules sets into motion a terrifying series of events that launches her into a mystery that has at its heart an ancient evil.

Pulled into a world of darkness and fear that will nearly destroy her, her family, and her faith, can light yet overcome the darkness?

I was even more intrigued when I read the sample and found the book had a Vampire sort of twist, but still had a strong Christian element. I was impressed to find Dracula had this sort of feel so on the idea that this might be a similar style book I dove in.

The story was good and had plenty of tension. I definitely found I read through it quickly and wanted to know what happened at the end and I want a sequel. Heather was a brilliant character and there was a touch of mystery to the others I still want explaining.

My only disappointment with the book was that there seemed to be a little too much Christianity. I know that sounds a little odd when it’s that element that made me want to read the book in the first place but I felt like the author was trying to over play the God and faith side of things to make up for the dark topic, especially where Heather’s uncle was concerned, but it made the story drag in places where I wanted action. I think it laboured the point a little and would have felt more natural to not keep being reminded that her uncle didn’t quite believe and have the faith Heather did. But everything Heather went through was more natural feeling.

The ending was a little cheesy, especially with the throwback to Jesus being in the fire as a white figure in the old testament Bible story, but I can’t really say more than that without plot spoiling.

Over all I enjoyed the book and I’d read more from the author, especially in this series. I’d just like all the text to feel necessary.

Mycroft and Sherlock: Chapter 1

So I’ve been writing something I totally didn’t plan to write lately. I got bitten by the Sherlock bug but in a new way, so here’s a chapter from some fan fiction, written from Mycroft’s POV.

The rain pattered on the windows as Mycroft was driven through the dreary streets of London. He frowned at the typical English weather. He’d been in his house, working, for ten straight days and it annoyed him to find it raining the minute he needed to leave and see his brother. On top of splotching his tailored suit it made the traffic worse.

As the car pulled up outside Sherlock’s flat he turned his nose up at the familiar sight. The number on the door was loose and it was almost never straight. No matter how many times he neatened it by his next visit it was crooked again. Today was no different.

His driver rushed around to the side of the door with a large black umbrella and Mycroft stepped out into the cold, narrowly missing the puddle at the side of the road. An almost identical umbrella with a silver plated handle dangled from Mycroft’s left hand and he realised he’d never used it to keep the rain off himself. After raising and lowering his eyebrow he strode through the flat door, knowing it wouldn’t be locked. He paused for the briefest second to shuffle his feet on the doormat while his chauffeur shut the door behind him and went back to the shining black vehicle to wait.

Sherlock’s housekeeper and landlady, the widowed Mrs Wintern, peered around the edge of the living room door. When she noticed it was him she retreated back inside. Knowing she’d be scurrying off to make tea, whether he would be there long enough to drink it or not, he climbed the wooden steps up to the familiar flat. None of them creaked but he’d had plenty of years practice at putting his feet in the right places to ensure his arrival was unnoticed.

Three steps from the top Mycroft paused. Mixed in with the usual scent of dust, damp and body odour was the faint traces of perfume. He knew it could only mean Sherlock had a visitor, probably a client. It only took a few seconds for Mycroft to weigh up his options in light of this discovery. He needed Sherlock to begin investigating at once and couldn’t let a client stop him. As he took the last few steps he searched his memory for the name his brother used now. By the time he rapped his knuckles on the door, Sebastian was floating across the back of his mind. Whoever was with his brother would know him as Sebastian Holmes.

Without waiting for an answer he twisted the door knob and strode into the room. Both occupants turned to face him and he scanned the extra person for information. She wore a black corset, styled to look like a waistcoat from the front but laced down the back, over the top of a deep red blouse. The red skirt almost touched the floor but a slit up one side revealed size seven black boots with a small chain running behind the two inch heels. The corset took her waist in from what would have been twenty five inches to twenty three and her mid-brown hair was up in a netted bun on the back of her head. As she turned he also noticed she deftly held a fountain pen in her right hand. Both hands had fingerless gloves that were made of the same material as a jacket over the arm of a nearby chair.

She smiled and the corners of her eyes wrinkled to match the upturn of her lips. Whoever she was she spent a lot of time writing; there were no ink marks on her despite the style of pen, and she was comfortable and relaxed in the odd mix of old fashioned and modern clothing.

“Myron! To what do I owe this pleasure?” Sherlock said in his usual sarcastic manner, although he knew the woman wouldn’t have picked up on the disdain laced in every word. It took him a fraction of a second longer to respond as he took in the pictures of people and places on the board beside them. She had to be a client with all the information presented, although not directly involved, an observer with a vested interest.

“Let me introduce my guest, Amelia Jones.” Sherlock motioned to her. “She’s a writer. Amelia, this is my brother, Myron Holmes.”

She swapped the pen over to her other hand and took a few steps towards him, her right outstretched to shake his. He glanced at her offering but kept his right hand in his trouser pocket and his left gripping the umbrella. Whoever she was, Sherlock had used her first name, something he’d not done since his days with John Watson. Mycroft frowned and the woman returned to her position by the board, giving no indication that she was bothered by the snub.

“I need to talk to you, brother of mine,” Mycroft said when he realised the case on the board still held both their attention.

“In a moment, you’ll be interested in this. This man is an undercover agent, working a case to find a stolen diamond.” Sherlock pointed to the man’s picture and then to the woman’s, “She’s unmarried, no kids, parents are dead and no one else in her life and we’re trying to figure out how she was blackmailed and how he finds out before he has her arrested.”

Mycroft rolled his eyes but took a look at the information anyway. He wanted to know how this Mrs Jones was involved. If the diamond had been hers it wasn’t something she was attached to, perhaps a family heirloom she didn’t care for.

“How was the diamond taken?” he asked.

“I don’t know, I’ve not written that part yet,” she said, fixing her blue eyes on him. “I was thinking she might seduce the security guard or get him drunk. She’s an amateur under pressure so it can’t be too difficult.”

Mycroft raised his eyebrows before he noticed Sherlock grinning at him. He sneered in response. When Mrs Jones went to continue talking he put his hand up, cutting her off.

“This is a fictional scenario?” he asked, his voice dripping with disdain at the very concept.

“Yes. It’s what I do for a living. Sebastian helps me get all the facts straight.”

“He does, does he?”

She nodded and waited for him to continue but he had no desire to make her feel more comfortable. She glanced at his brother.

“So… Why are you here, brother. You don’t visit unless you need something,” Sherlock said, taking the focus back off his guest.

“I think we ought to discuss that in private.” Mycroft looked pointedly at Sherlock’s client, hoping she’d get the hint and hurry from the building but she didn’t move.

“Nonsense, if it’s a case, Amelia can help. She’s been proving most useful in my own work, and besides, she helped with the last case you gave me.”

“She did?” Mycroft’s annoyance grew. Somehow he’d missed Mrs Jones being a regular in Sherlock’s life and he shouldn’t have done.

“I did?” She raised an eyebrow and her own surprise made him feel a little better. Sherlock laughed and nodded.

“Come on, out with it brother. What do we need to investigate?” While Sherlock spoke Mrs Jones lifted the board from the two hooks it hung on, revealing a second blank white board underneath. Mycroft coughed and then pulled the printout of the intercepted email from his inside jacket pocket.

“I received this coded message from a suspected terrorist account.” Before Mycroft could begin reading it Sherlock took the paper out of his hands and wandered off with it, leaving both him and Mrs Jones standing and waiting as Sherlock read it.

“It’s not a skip code…”

“It’s nothing logical, I assure you,” Mycroft said before Sherlock could list everything he already knew it wasn’t.

“Read it aloud.” Mrs Jones said. Mycroft frowned as Sherlock did just that. He would have done one anyway but now he was sure a background check on her would be needed.

Hiya,

Totally failed today – My ringtone went off at the funeral – I’ve got it set to Staying Alive. :AwkwardFace: I suppose I’d already made it hard on myself, the deceased had bought me one of those ugly Christmas jumpers and I wore it to the funeral. My mother told me to take it off and I don’t think she was very impressed when I told her I’d rather cry in a BMW. Then to top my day off I got rick rolled.

Thankfully my kids were cute when I got home – when I asked the eldest what she wanted for dinner she said, ‘I can has cheeseburger?’ and grinned. Later when I was playing a board game with the twins and I lost they came out with, ‘All your counters are belong to us’, their English is getting better each day. When I was a kid my dad used to swear and say ‘pardon my French – I still remember when my school teacher asked if anyone spoke a foreign language and I put my hand up. :SmileyFace:

It might be a while before I communicate again, I’m staying with relatives and they don’t know their own wi-fi password. FFFFFFFFUUUUUUUU. The kids are excited, they said they can get their pink unicorn back, I didn’t even know they had one.

Geoff

By the time Sherlock had finished, Mrs Jones was curled up on the chair, clutching her sides and crying as she tried to stop her almost silent laughter.

What’s so amusing?” Mycroft demanded when she didn’t stop as soon as the letter was over. She wiped her eyes and sat up straight again.

It’s internet memes. For example, all your counters are belong to us, is a miss-quote of all your base are belong to us from a badly translated game. I can has cheeseburger is a phrase on a lolcat, and I think there was a confession kid in there, as well as the mention of being rick rolled.” She picked up the pen and wrote out the entire letter. Once she’d finished she circled phrases in the text and linked them to the names of the internet memes. Mycroft watched and waited, wanting to see where she was going with it. If it solved the email he could get back to his house and away from her.

She stood back and put both her hands on her hips, staring at the letter now in her neat but ornamented hand-writing.

The punctuation is strange, and not right in the slightest,” she said a moment later, when no one else did anything.

Each full stop marks the end of a coded section, that much is easy to work out,” Mycroft said. His brother nodded and stole the pen from Mrs Jones, their fingers brushing past each other as he did. Mycroft sneered again, although both had their backs to him and wouldn’t have noticed. He almost wished they had.

Sherlock put a line in where each sentence ended to break the message up and then she pulled the pen from his hand and wrote in another meme at the end of the letter. After a minute of browsing something on her phone she wrote in two more, completing the final paragraph with:

First World Problems
Rage comic
Invisible Pink Unicorn

Mycroft saw the message and smiled. It pleasantly surprised him that she was on the right track.

The first letters from the first part of Friday,” he said, knowing his brother wasn’t paying attention and should be. He stepped closer so the whole thing was easier for him to read.

It looks like each paragraph is a word,” she said and smiled at him. He ignored her. She was right but that didn’t mean he had to like her or praise her for it.

The second word has an A and C in the middle and has four letters,” Sherlock said.

Four?” She turned to him, a puzzled look on her face.

Yes, there’s a fourth sentence.” Mycroft pointed to the smiley face reference in between two colons. She shrugged.

That’s an emoticon gone wrong, but I suppose it might be part of the message.” She put the word in brackets in the list in the two places the references appeared and then turned to his brother. “Search for I’d rather cry in a BMW online and see what comes up.”

Immediately Sherlock obeyed and grabbed his laptop. Mycroft found himself sneering again. This woman was telling them what to do when she was evidently of inferior intelligence and even worse, his brother wasn’t even slightly put out. He’d thought Sherlock over this sort of sentimentality after losing Watson, but it appeared he was even softer than ever.

Twenty minutes later they had one more letter and Mycroft continued to stand and do nothing but stare at the letter. The entire time he’d been running through five letter words that fit with the E and N they’d already had for the first word. With the I Mrs Jones now wrote in he knew what it said. BEGIN LACE FRI was the full message, but he wasn’t about to say so and be pressed to explain further. Even if Mrs Jones expressed no further interest, his brother would and with his deductive reasoning might work out more than Mycroft wanted either of them to know.

As he was trying to think of some way to get rid of Mrs Jones she pulled a pocket watch out, checked the time and gasped.

I’ve got to go. I’m meant to be signing books in less than half an hour.” She grabbed her jacket and shrugged into it. “Sorry to run before we’re done, but I hate being late for anything.”

I’m sure we can solve this without you,” Mycroft said and gave her a smile which didn’t reach his eyes.

See you tomorrow, Sebastian, and it was a pleasure to meet you, Mr holmes.” She gave him a half smile, meaning it far more than he would have and hurried from the room. As the sound of her rapid footsteps receded down the stairs Mycroft relaxed.

So, you’ve found a new John Watson.” He looked intently at his brother but Sherlock remained impassive.

She’s brighter than John ever was, but she won’t be around for long. She will go write her next book in a few days. Mostly she’s a recluse, like you, especially when in the middle of a book.”

You’re trying to intrigue me by making me think she’s similar to me, but it won’t work. She’s not as intelligent as you even so I have no interest in her.” Mycroft walked towards the door, now wanting to continue this conversation.

She would have been as clever as me had she grown up with you as an elder brother. She’s keen to learn from us and pleasant enough.”

Mrs Jones won’t live long enough to ever get close.”

Miss Jones,” Sherlock said, looking smug. Mycroft shook his head at what his younger brother had overlooked.

There was a wedding ring.”

Yes, but she’s not married, not anymore anyway.”

Widow,” Mycroft nodded. He should have seen it in her manner with Sherlock. No woman in a relationship would spend time coming to London for book signings and spend so much time alone with another man. He walked out, and called back, “Don’t get involved, brother of mine.”

I’ll let you know when I’ve solved this,” Sherlock yelled after him.

No need!” Mycroft pulled the door shut. Miss Jones perfume lingered in the stairwell even stronger than before and Mycroft found himself thinking that as far as perfumes went it could have been a lot worse. At the least it smelt better than Sherlock’s flat usually did.

As he walked back to his car he messaged his assistant.

Project lace will begin on friday. Deploy operation clean-up. Also find all information on the author Amelia Jones.

As soon as the message was delivered he put his phone back in the inside pocket of his jacket and stepped outside. The rain had stopped and Mycroft smiled as he was driven back to his home, his mind already focused on other matters.

Sherdan’s Prophecy

As luck would have it our constant source of news on Anya and Sherdan has managed to find a small part of the prophecy they’ve been talking about over the last few months. An excerpt of the prophecy is posted below, unfortunately we could not obtain all of it, only some…

When the lion with an owls beak rises from the ashes of old industrialisation a leader will come to the faithful. He will see into all and be the final judge. Only with him will people reach their enlightened state and gain the gifts of devotion. He will lead his people to a better world in preparation for the last days.

The first sign of the end times will be the rising up of the enlightened people, they will flock to the leader as bees to nectar. He will teach them and lead them in the ways of the Ox.

When the three spoons of prosperity are gathered together with the plow a badger’s set will be made. It will grow and form until it can no longer be contained within it’s shell. It shall keep it’s desires secret but parade it’s existance to all, growing fat from the ignorance of the weak.

Then comes the great shedding. The badger will detach itself from the world around and shed it’s skin to reveal the gyroscope underneath. Only the worthy will be able to cross the void between the untouched and the enlightened.

She will come, walking with glass slippers…

 

Disclaimer: The above prophecy is a complete work of fiction. I do not expect a single word of it to come true as I just made it up on the spot to fit a rough plot idea I had in my head. Please do not start any cults, religious organisations or anything equally group like based on the above idea of how the world might end. I was not divinly inspired.

How to: Characterisation for With Proud Humility

My starting place for each fresh idea is always with the main character. To me it is the most important part of having a good book or film. If people don’t connect with the character and cannot relate to them, no matter how good the plot is, chances are the reader/viewer won’t enjoy the product. I’m not saying plot isn’t important though, it’s very important, but I’ve found time and time again the plot actually comes out of getting my head around my new characters. Knowing how they think and react moves the plot along in a believable way.

Recently I posted a blog of the character biography of the new books main character. Today I want to run through how I came up with Marie Woodell from my first book, With Proud Humility.

The first place I always start is how they look. I write this so that I am consistent when I talk about my character from the start of the book to the finish. So how tall is she, length and colour of hair, clothes she likes to wear/has to wear, age etc. In Marie’s case that was fairly simple. I already knew I wanted her to be a member of gentry, that makes most of this pretty easy. She needs to be single, so age has to be between 16-22 to be socially acceptable. Clothes would be whatever her status dictates, likewise with hair length. I arbitrarily assigned her height to be 5’7”.

Next I tried to decide her background. What had happened to her before the book starts. I decided I wanted her mother to be dead and to have been killed by the pirate who’s ship she starts on. This then lead to needing a reason why her mother was killed. Does Marie know why? What is her father like? Did he try too hard to protect his daughter after her mother died? Who is her father and what’s his status? Does this all fit nicely into some era in history? (as well as all the boring details of where she lives etc too)

Once her background is fully decided upon as well as the other influential people in her life I can start moulding her actual personality. Often certain big events in a person’s past have an influence on their character. For example I needed to know how Marie felt about her mother’s death. Did she want revenge, or did it scar her so badly she doesn’t now trust anyone, or possibly even both? How does she react to being raised just by her father?

At this point I also tend to decide the full name of the person. Often this can take several hours as I trawl through baby name databases trying to find names I like the sound of, as well as names that have meanings that I think work with everything else I’ve decided on so far. I confess in Marie’s case it was much simpler. My mother intended to call me Ann-Marie before I was born so my new character was being called Marie. In the case of Marie it was also her personality that led to the book’s title, With Proud Humility.

If I struggle to form the character as I did with Kaihaitu, I’ve found the best way to get through that and shape them is to essentially introduce someone else to them. Chrysalis kindly sat up late one night on Skype with me till I think about 2am in the morning, asking me question after question about Kaihaitu, similar to the questions above and I answered them, allowing her character to form in my attempt at explaining her to someone else.

Finally when I’m happy with all my questions and their answers I put it all together and move on to any characters I’ve discovered are likely to be a major role in the book, based on their relationships to my main character. Usually by the time I’ve done this my plot’s fairly well worked out too. Add in some conflict, some pain, some tears and voila most of the book prep is done.

For those that wish to know what I decided to the above questions though I urge you to check out the book (no spoilers here). There is now a 40% free sample on Smashwords and it’s on sale on Amazon at just over £2 per copy, that’s less than the price of a hot chocolate.

Character Bio: Kaihaitu

In preparing for a novel the first thing I do is write short biographies for the main characters in the book. As I’ve blogged quite a bit about book 2 and how fast I am writing it I thought I would share the bio that started the whole idea off. Allow me to introduce the heroine, Kaihaitu:

Age: 22

Height: 5 foot 5 inches

Hair: Dark brown, shoulder length

Eyes: Brown

Skin: Creamy, mid brown

Clothes: Hides, loose but reasonably covering. Bare feet.

Background: Kai grew up in her father’s village. Her Father was the village leader and she has grown up knowing that she will one day lead the village herself. Her mother was a housewife who looked after Kai and her younger brother.

From a very early age Kai was trained by her father to be both a good hunter and a good leader. As such Kai doesn’t really have any friends. She is usually too busy working to socialise. Her main companions are the two monkeys, Hehu and Matiu, that her father traded for and gave to her as a coming of age present when she was fifteen years old.

When Kai was very young a redcoat ship turned up and not long after that they built a fort near the village. At first the relationship between Kai’s village and the redcoats was amicable and many trades were struck. Kai was even encouraged to learn English by her father.

Over time the redcoats slowly encroached on the village’s land and the relationship deteriorated. When Kai was approximately twenty she, along with several of the other young villagers, raided the red coat fort. The following day the village is celebrating their ‘victory’ over the red coats when they retaliate and storm the village in far greater numbers than the villagers have ever seen of them.

As an example to the rest of the village, the red coats take back their food stocks and more and destroy things important to everyday village life. Her father then dies from an illness and lack of food and Kai is left to lead the village and to try and get them through the winter coming with very little food.

Kai blames herself for her fathers death and the subsequent villagers deaths the following winter, but does not tell anyone it was her idea to raid the fort. Instead Kai uses her guilt to fuel her leadership of the village and she dedicates herself to getting the village back on level ground and an unstable truce is formed with the redcoats again.

Her mother and most of the villagers wish for Kai to marry a guy called Henare and although he is a very eligible bachelor and encouraging towards Kai, she is just very uninterested in marriage, let alone Henare.

Personality: Kai is a very quiet, reserved person. She feels the weight of her responsibilities and has from a very early age. Kai doesn’t have many friends and does not find it easy to socialise with other people. Although she is very adept at dealing with the villages social problems any other form of communication with people is very difficult for Kai.

With the higher responsibilities Kai has faced she is much more mature than other people her own age and very calm and considered in her approach to solving problems. She always appears very relaxed even when on the inside she is not.

The only time Kai lets herself be more vulnerable is when she is alone with her two monkeys. She will occasionally play with them and be light hearted, but only when she is sure no one else is around. This has been rare the last year or so for two reasons, firstly the death of her father and the constant danger to her village, has made her more serious and secondly Henare often pops up randomly to talk to her, and the only warning she gets is Hehu and Matiu running off.

Hehu and Matiu running from Henare fuels her choice to push him away from her, though she knows she is being mean in doing so. Kai trusts their judgement and for this reason alone would never marry Henare even if she thought he was a good match for her.

Though Kai is not unhappy with her life in the village she can’t really be said to be happy either. She is very much a realist and knows that she has a tough time ahead of her to get the village through. The villages safety is more important to her than her own happiness.

Kai is also a well trained hunter and fighter though she has a good respect for life and would only kill in self defence or necessity for food etc. She is rarely seen without her bow and arrow and always has a couple of hunting knives about her person somewhere.