The Enchanted Shield ~ An Excerpt

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Geoffrey Angapa is no stranger to Books, Vertigo and Tea. Last year I had the pleasure of reviewing The Quest of the Golden Apple. He has even selected one of my You Choose, I Read titles, the endearing story of The Princess and the Goblin (which is now counted among my favorites). I am very pleased to share an excerpt of The Enchanted Shield (Geoffrey and the Dragon Book 2) today. I am also thrilled to announce the title will be available for free on Kindle the next 3 days.

The Enchanted Shield (Geoffrey and the Dragon Book 2)
Pages: 251
Genre: Fantasy



“Dragon, we’ve got to think of a description—an amazing description—for The Enchanted Shield’s Amazon page. That’s pretty hard work, if you ask me, but I’m sure we’ll put something together.”
“Indeed, writing a description is harder than writing the book itself. Have you thought of anything as yet, lad?”
“Well, Dragon, I have, but it still needs more work, and seems rather incomplete to me. Goes like this: The Enchanted Shield is the sequel to The Quest of the Golden Apple, and once again follows the adventure of Geoffrey and the Dragon.”
“No, that won’t do at all. Certainly needs more work, but I suppose it’s all right for a start.”
“All right for a start? Can you think of a better, Dragon?”
“Sure I can. Let me think. On the other hand, we can’t just give away the whole plot: that would spoil the book. I think it’s better if the reader didn’t know all that much about the tale before reading it.”
“Could be, Dragon. Could be.”
“So let’s ask readers to read our tale, and we hope that it delights them much.”

“Very well, Dragon! I’ll write that up! I knew you’d think of something!”

Chapter 1

About half a year had passed since I had got back from my adventure. I heard of quests and proclamations, but heeded them not. I took delight in simple things, and my work kept me busy and healthy. When I returned to Newstead the previous year, it had been the middle of autumn. Winter was now drawing to an end, and the first beginnings of spring were creeping over the land. The air still possessed a bracing chill; but each day the weather grew warmer and milder, and often got rather hot towards noon. The whole of Newstead seemed to be spring cleaning their homes, and that yielded a great deal of dust to the air. There were days when it felt as if it were summer (as much as there were days when it felt as if it were winter still).
Morning broke fair and bright upon Newstead. The sun was out, the mists had cleared, and the sound of birds’ tuning their notes could be heard throughout the land. I left home for the morning, and passing through the gates of Newstead, directed my steps towards Farmer Woodbine’s farmstead, which stood just outside the town. As I noted in the previous adventure, I worked as a cowherd. When I reached the farmstead, I greeted everyone I saw; and though it was only about half past eight, yet much work was already being done at the farm. Taking the cows, I led them to the fields so that they could graze.
What I found that morning was strange, or at least unprecedented, for the fields I always took the cows to—East-Fields being their name—appeared more yellow than ordinary, when only the day before they had been quite green. Odd, thought I; but not thinking too much about it, I decided to walk the cows to the other fields, of which there were several, that stretched round Newstead. When I got to them, I found the grass there was richer and greener, and so I let the cows graze in those fields, and the hours passed lazily enough. This week had been a drowsy succession of hot days, and that morning was no exception. Round about noon I wiped my forehead and had lunch. The cows relished both the grass and the weather, and wandered aimlessly hither and thither. “Cows,” said I, not that they could understand me, “stay in one spot.” Later, I took shelter beneath a giant tree in the field; and whether it was the food, or the heat, or the haziness of the air; or perhaps all these things together—which, I suppose, is nearer to the mark—I found I fell fast asleep against the tree. This had scarcely ever happened to me before. But that day, as we shall see, was an evil one, and I fell asleep. Upon awakening, I found a couple of guards standing near me. I recognised them from Newstead: the town-guard.
“Good morning,” said one of them, who seemed to be the leader. “Do you know where you are?”
“Yes, I’m in Newstead. You recognise me? I live here. How do you do?”
“This is Newstead,” continued the man; “but you have been very unfortunate in your choice of field, where you’ve let your cows graze. You’re in big trouble, and you’re coming with us, to the Council.”
“Council?” said I, getting up from the tree and standing before them. “What are you talking about? This is a Newstead field, and I can graze my cows anywhere I like.”
“East-Fields are for common grazing,” said the guard; “but you’ve entered fields out of bounds to the Common Folk.”
“Out of bounds?” said I, getting rather angered, not to mention alarmed, by all this talk. “That’s ridiculous.”
“Oh, ridiculous is it? You’ll see how ridiculous it is when we take you before the Council. These fields are forbidden, and that’s the law.”
“I knew no such thing,” said I, “and there wasn’t any such thing before. That new Council has been putting together its own laws.”
“That’s it! Let’s go! Keep your wit for the Council! Come with us!”
“I won’t go anywhere,” said I. “Besides, I’ve got to take the cows back to Farmer Woodbine. It’s getting late.”
“Very well,” said the guard. “You may take them back, but we’ll be waiting for you at the gates. Don’t think of going off; for we know who you are, Mr. Geoffrey, and have all your documents at Home Office. That’s right. Everyone’s documents are kept there, and there they shall remain. Once the cows have been returned, you shall be taken before the Council.”
I tried disputing a little further with them, but try as I might, they would not budge. At length I agreed, so as to put an end to the argument; for it was growing late, and the farmer’s cows had to be returned to his farmstead. I got the cows together and proceeded thither, reaching it in a quarter of an hour. As it turned out, Farmer Woodbine was not there, being on a visit to his family at Montford, and thus I could not tell him about the incident; I sighed, for he might have aided me. The cows being returned to their places, I left and reached the gates of Newstead in half an hour; and there the guards stood waiting for me. We passed through the gates, while the light of the afternoon was fading round us, and then headed for the Council Chambers, as it was known. Once again I tried disputing with them, saying that I should not do that again, but the guards turned a deaf ear to me, and hauled me before the Council.
I stood in the centre of a circular room. Ahead of, and higher than me, sitting behind imposing wooden desks, were the members of the Council. My heart sank within me, as I threw round my gaze. “We have been told by the town-guard—excellent guard they are—that you have committed a grave transgression,” said one of the members. “There are certain fields which are forbidden to the public.”
“Sir,” said I, “I knew no such thing. All the grass in East-Fields looked rather yellow to me, rather more yellow than ordinary; and so I took my cows to graze in better fields. I did no crime. I’m an honest citizen of Newstead. I do hard work, and never harm anyone.”
“Still, you committed a crime. Those fields are forbidden, and are not to be entered.”
“All right, sir,” answered I; “I won’t enter those fields ever again. I promise. I will keep to East-Fields and not stray from there.”
“It is too late. The deed has been done, and a punishment must be allotted to you.”
“This isn’t fair. I’m innocent. I did nothing wrong.”
“What is the punishment?” continued the man, paging through a thick book, from which dust issued into the air of the gloomy chamber. “Banishment it is. That is what the books of law say.”
“Banishment? But this is my home. I’ve lived here all my life.”
“You ought to have thought of that before. You are exiled from Newstead for ever. You are to leave the town by the morning. There is nothing that we can do. That is what the law says.”
“No,” said I, “this can’t be. I can’t be exiled from Newstead.”
“Whether you like it or not, you are exiled for ever.”
“Have mercy!” said I. “Please, sirs, is there no way that I can stay?”
The chief member of the Council, who had been talking to me, looked into the book again, and flipped through the pages for a while. “There seems to be a caveat,” said the man at length.
“What is it?” asked I.
“It is said,” answered the man, “of one who is sentenced to lifelong exile that, if he were to bring back from a distant land a strange heirloom, he shall be restored to his home.”
“What that heirloom is,” said another member of the Council, “is not stated; but custom prescribes that the Council shall determine what it is to be. We will decide.”
“Heirloom?” said I, rather puzzled.
“Yes,” returned the principal speaker; “we will decide what you shall bring back if you are to return.”
The Council left the chamber, and were gone for about an hour. In the meantime I sat down on a chair that was near, and thought of all the evil that had befallen me. Time passed. At length the members returned, and took their seats again.
“We have decided what the heirloom shall be,” said the chief speaker. “You are to bring back to Newstead an artefact, an artefact known as the Enchanted Shield. Secure the artefact and return with it to Newstead, and your exile shall be dissolved forthwith.”
“The Enchanted Shield?” said I. “I’ve never heard of any such thing. Wait a minute! I’ve got an idea. I could return with the Golden Apple—the Golden Apple of Wealdhall—within less than two weeks.”
“No, the Enchanted Shield it is, and the Enchanted Shield it shall remain. Our meeting with you is over. You are to leave Newstead by the morning and are banished for ever; but if you were to return with the Enchanted Shield, your exile shall be reversed. Let us not find you in Newstead by ten o’clock tomorrow.”
Led out of the chamber by the town-guard, and then left outside the Council Building, I proceeded, with heavy thoughts, home. Already it was night, and my mother was waiting anxiously for me at the door of our house. She had grown quite worried that I had not come home earlier; and upon seeing me walking down the street towards our house, she seemed overjoyed. But when I greeted her, and she saw that all was not well, she asked me what the matter was; and I, once we had gone within, and shut the door, told her all that had happened, and she was astonished, saddened, and angered.
“That Council is evil,” said she, “as everyone in the town will attest. The old Council was never like this, Geoffrey. This Council finds fault with everyone in the town. You aren’t the first to fall prey to them, Geoffrey; and I daresay you won’t be the last. Almost everyone in Newstead has had an encounter with them. Even Farmer Wither, I heard. Just last week he was fined because of taxes or something. Mrs. Wither was telling me all about it just the other day. Even Mrs. Milton, the baker’s wife, was complaining of the ill usage her husband has had at the Council’s hands.”
This was all quite true. About three years ago, the new Council had replaced the old one, which, in contrast to their successors, had been a fair and just Council, listening to the voice of the People, except when the People were in the wrong; but through some kind of political machination, the old Council was taken down and another one set in its place; and it was widely believed across Newstead that the present Council was rather corrupt. In short, I was yet another casualty of the evil new system.
The next morning, after we had all eaten breakfast, my mother went to the Council Chambers, while I, packing what I could, remained at home. I had done much the same the night before, but there was still a great deal of stuff left to pack. My heart was heavy and I felt a burden on my shoulders, not from my pack, but from the troubles that had suddenly fallen on my life. But I remained as cheerful as I could, knowing that my return home would come. An hour later the door opened and then shut; and going to the sitting room I found my mother in tears. I hugged her, and asked her what had passed at the Council Chambers. “They won’t listen,” said she. “They won’t listen to a thing. I don’t think they’ve got hearts, and I told them as much. Oh, Geoffrey! I tried my best to save you, but I’ve failed.”
“So I still have to leave, mother?”
“Yes,” replied she.
“What’s worse, mother, is that Sir Richard is out of town. Had he been here, he might have done something to stop that Council, I think.”
“I doubt whether Sir Richard,” said she, “would have been able to gainsay the Council. The Council do as they wish, and there’s little anyone can do.”
“You’re right, mother.”
It was getting late; the town-clock had just struck nine o’clock; and I thought I had best leave Newstead before I was thrown unceremoniously out of it. Taking a last look at the rooms of our house, and fetching a deep sigh, I stepped out into the brightness of the town, and directed my steps towards the gates, my mother and brother accompanying me. The town-guard was stationed there, and one of them observed that I ought to leave the town (or “well-run Newstead” as he put it). I thanked him for his expressing the obvious, and I was going to say more, but thought the better of it and remained silent. I hugged my mother and brother, and hugged my mother again, assuring her that I should return to Newstead before she knew it, but the tears stood in my eyes, and my mother herself had been weeping since the morning.
“I will return home, mother,” said I, aside to her so that the guards would not hear what we spoke. “I will return to Newstead. You can count on that. And that Council hasn’t heard the last of me! I shall get aid from my friend the Dragon, and together we will find this—Enchanted Shield. I do defy that Council and their villainy. I will come back, mother. I promise.”
My mother wept; and again I assured her that I should return, and that all would be well. I took leave of her; and tightening the pack on my shoulder, as I did once not long ago, setting out to find the Golden Apple, I set forth for Wealdhall. If anyone knew what was to be done, it would be the Dragon.

Geoffrey2About The Author

Geoffrey Angapa was born in Durban, South Africa, on October 4, 1987. He grew up in Chatsworth and then North Beach. He finished high school in 2004; and graduated with a B.Sc. degree from Unisa in 2010. Geoffrey likes computer programming a lot, and C++ is the language that he programs in. He knows a slight bit (that is, not much) about literature, and likes physics too.

Tea of choice: You could say that historically my favourite one has been a Ceylon blend; and that I drink black tea with milk and no sugar.


I want to extend special thanks to Geoffrey for allowing me to share this excerpt and for continuing to be supportive of Books, Vertigo and Tea and the blogging community! It has been a pleasure.

Happy Reading,

Danielle ❤

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Excerpt ~ Queen of Corona by Esterhazy

Today I am excited to share an excerpt of Esterhazy’s contemporary, new adult book; Queen of Corona. As part of a book blitz hosted by Xpresso Book Tours, this also includes an international giveaway for one signed copy. So please be sure to enter at the bottom of this post!


Queen of Corona
Publication date: December 15th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult



Queen of a Corona delves into the mind of a young American adult growing up in today’s multicultural society. It is a human look at contemporary existence “from the bottom of the barrel.” It tells the story of a high school senior who is running after a student protest ends in tragedy. She is ushered onto an airplane by her mother, headed back to the land of her ancestors for the first time in her life. Her journey is both a way of escaping a seemingly dead-end existence and a chance at rediscovering herself by stepping outside the confines of societal standards. Queen of Corona is a coming-of-age novel in a dangerous age, in the age of Trump and all the forces stirring with and against the American president.



There comes a day when you go looking for your roots and you realize they’re all gone.

You grope about in the dark and find nothing. Nothing but bits and pieces of a legacy gone astray like a dog that was never loved in the first place. No matter where you come from, the day you become an American is the day you lost it all. No matter if you were born here or made it over by plane, train, bus or banana boat. Just like that, thousands of years of memory vaporize like the plane that hit the Pentagon. You forfeit miles of spindly roots planted into the earth by your ancestors from way back when. Slowly, painfully, you squander your family recipes and all them heirlooms, memories, traditions go slipping through your fingers. You figure you’re living the dream, but something’s off. Something’s missing.

Something you didn’t even know you needed. You lose track. You lose your ground. The connection with the earth that made you. That dust that hardened into your bones and softened into your skin. You think you can go on making the tamales, the pierogis, the same old samosas your grannies made for generations but they’re not the same at all. The flour here is different. The water is different. The proportions are all out of wack. And you know it’s just a dumpling and dumplings don’t always come out right, but for some reason you’re bawling your eyes out. Because you know it’s not just a fluke. It doesn’t come out right no matter how many times you try. Because it just ain’t in you no more.

A sourness that tastes like shame comes up in your throat. Shame that flips on itself, turning on the past, turning on your parents because they’re the ones who made you and brought you here. Your loving parents are now the bullseye for your shame. Their accents and their crazy foods. It was their brilliant idea to ship you all the way across the ocean before you had anything to say about it. So now you do all you can to keep them at home, hidden behind closed doors. You never invite anyone over. You do what you can to become like everyone else. You want to look like the girls in the videos. The selfie-stick chicks on the gram. Then you start dressing like the guys in the videos so the dudes round the way no longer feel obliged to tell you that your ass is too big or your ass is too flat. You convince yourself that you’ve been here all along.

That there is no motherland. No Poland, Ukraine, Honduras, Philippines, Bangladesh. The past fades like the last wisp of smoke after a dumpster fire. But the stench of it lingers, you know. There’s nothing you can do to make it disappear for good. It’s a blemish that won’t go away. An ugly little blackhead of guilt. Because you denied your ancestors, denied your heritage. When you denied them, you denied yourself. You denied your very existence.

This is the tragedy of assimilation. The old folks give up trying to talk sense into you. They throw their hands up and let you be what you always thought you wanted to be. An apple-pie-eating, base-ball-bat swinging shiksa like all those other girls in the hood. You try telling them that shit ain’t really you at all. So they ask you, who is you then? And you try to tell them but it’s like snakes crawling up your throat. You can’t spit out a syllable. So, you figure maybe they’re right. You start grasping at straws, the frayed threads of history, shreds of a native realm.

There comes a day when you finally realize you have no idea who you is or even who you are, and where you came from. So maybe you get on a plane and try to take a good hard look at things from a distance. Try to take in the bigger picture and all. Back to the future. Though the truth is I’m not really doing it for the right reasons. My story ain’t all high and mighty like that. There’s more dirt I’ll have to dig up at some point, for sure. I’ll get to it when the time is right. No point in rushing things. We have all the time in the world.

Purchase Link: Amazon

esterhazy.jpgAbout Esterhazy

Esterhazy is a journalist, writer and translator. A native New Yorker, she holds degrees in Comparative Literature from New York University and American Studies from the University of Warsaw. Queen of Corona is her debut novel.

Follow Esterhazy: Website  Instagram



This giveaway is offered as part of the book tour hosted by Xpresso Book Tours and is not sponsored by Books, Vertigo and Tea.

  • It is open internationally and will close on January 7, 2018.
  • Grand prize is one signed copy of Queen of Corona.

Enter Here


Good Luck & Happy Reading,

Danielle ❤

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Blog Tour & Excerpt – Tall Chimneys by Allie Cresswell

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Part of my goal as a reader is to continue to explore a diverse range of titles and share them with others. I love finding new books and authors. Today I am pleased to be sharing an excerpt of Tall Chimneys by Allie Cresswell as part of a blog tour presented by Rachel’s Random Resources.

Tall Chimneys
By Allie Cresswell
Available 12/12/17



Considered a troublesome burden, Evelyn Talbot is banished by her family to their remote country house. Tall Chimneys is hidden in a damp and gloomy hollow. It is outmoded and inconvenient but Evelyn is determined to save it from the fate of so many stately homes at the time – abandonment or demolition.

Occasional echoes of tumult in the wider world reach their sequestered backwater – the strident cries of political extremists, a furore of royal scandal, rumblings of the European war machine. But their isolated spot seems largely untouched. At times life is hard – little more than survival. At times it feels enchanted, almost outside of time itself. The woman and the house shore each other up – until love comes calling, threatening to pull them asunder. 

Her desertion will spell its demise, but saving Tall Chimneys could mean sacrificing her hope for happiness, even sacrificing herself. 

A century later, a distant relative crosses the globe to find the house of his ancestors. What he finds in the strange depression of the moor could change the course of his life forever.
One woman, one house, one hundred years.

Purchase Links:


“There are certain human experiences that all writers quail at describing; childbirth, death and sex are three of them. These things are so individual and yet so universal. They are also, often, dramatic peaks in any story. It is almost impossible to depict them in a light that is credible, sensitive, realistic and yet impactful, and many writers fail in their attempt. Thankfully, as a mother, childbirth is something I have experienced for myself, and, while my children were not born as Evelyn’s is, I called on personal experience in describing labour.”

Winter Labour

The light was fading, turning from opaque pearl to smoky amethyst. We went indoors and stoked up the drawing room fire. John went downstairs to make tea, while I arranged all the cushions so as to ease my back and aching legs. Later, John read to me from A Christmas Carol and I stroked my belly, and wondered if the baby could hear the sonorous tone of his voice as he read. The three of us curled up together in the depths of the sofa, and the warmth of the room wrapped itself around us, and the whole house stood sentinel over us in that remote, hidden glen, swathed in mist and clamped by cold, under the dome of the sky and the eye of God.

John still used the upper room of the gatehouse as his studio but he hadn’t spent a night there since his return from the Continent. It seemed a specious fallacy, now, a charade that fooled nobody. We usually slept in the housekeeper’s room, and kept ourselves discreetly and decorously below stairs in all our daily comings and goings, but, that night, when it was time to sleep, we damped down the fire and switched off the lights, and climbed the stairs to Mrs Simpson’s room.

Overnight the temperature rose, the mist dissolved and in the morning the house was bathed in pure, winter sunlight. The lawn and trees sparkled, drenched in dew like diamonds. John opened the curtains and immediately got that look in his eye which I knew presaged creativity.

‘Go and paint,’ I told him, nestling back into the pillows and resting the cup and saucer he had brought me onto my bump. ‘Go, while the light lasts, and paint something glorious.’

He looked at me. ‘I oughtn’t to leave you,’ he demurred.

‘Nonsense,’ I retorted. ‘I’m going to go back to sleep in a moment, so I’ll be no company for you.’

‘Oh, alright,’ he gave in.

I was as good as my word, back asleep within moments; I didn’t even hear the motorcar as it pulled out of the stables and laboured up the slush on the drive. I slept in the filtered sunlight that came in through the half-drawn curtains until midway through the morning when a change in its quality woke me. The blue had been replaced by thin cloud. Above the amphitheatre of the trees I could see it moving, quite quickly, from the east. I got up and drew myself a bath. From its depths I could hear the telephone ringing, but it would have been impossible – and dangerous – for me to try and answer it. I wallowed on, and presently it stopped ringing.

By the time I got downstairs it was midday, and I set about getting together some food to carry up to the gatehouse for John, later. This necessitated a trip to the hot house, where tomatoes were still to be had from the yellowing, spent trusses. On my way I let the chickens out, and collected the eggs – not many, at that time of year, but enough for an omelette for supper, I thought. The hens came out cautiously, eyeing the air, placing tentative feet down on the chill, wet ground. As I re-entered the house I could hear the telephone again, ringing in the butler’s pantry. I dropped the eggs and tomatoes into a handy basket and hurried through, but when I lifted the receiver there was only a click and a buzz like an angry wasp on the line. The only person I could imagine calling was the doctor, and I put a call through to him, but his telephone, too, rang on and on and nobody answered.

I continued to potter round the kitchen; folding laundry which had been drying over the range, getting distracted by a particularly delicious pie which Mrs Greene had sent down for us, opening one of the jars of pickled cabbage from the larder to eat with it. I dried and put away the glassware we’d used the night before. Time passed.

About three o’clock I locked up the hens. They had already retreated into the shelter and warmth of their accommodation, sensing, as I had not, the storm which was imminent. The air outside had turned bluish; the cloud overhead was much thicker, lower, and very dark. As I watched, fat flakes of snow began to float from the sky.

I packed up my basket and made ready for the walk up to the gatehouse. I would have to hurry.

The first pain came as I was bending to lace up my boots. It was sharper and much stronger than I had expected, and not in my back, as Rose had described, but in some hidden and hitherto unsuspected ventricle at my core. I took a sharp intake of breath and sat back on the settle, quelling panic. My instinct was to clench up the place where the pain had been, to resist the sense of prising pressure.

‘Relax,’ I told myself, ‘probably just wind. Shouldn’t have eaten that cabbage.’

But immediately it came again, more insistent, a sense of determined opening, the way I had seen Kenneth kick and rattle at a shed door which has swollen and warped over winter, breaking the seal which time and nature together have fastened shut. At the same time I was conscious of a trickle of warm liquid coming from me.

Clearly, the baby was on its way.

Tall Chimneys - Allie CresswellAuthor Bio

Allie Cresswell was born in Stockport, UK and began writing fiction as soon as she could hold a pencil.

She did a BA in English Literature at Birmingham University and an MA at Queen Mary College, London.

She has been a print-buyer, a pub landlady, a book-keeper, run a B & B and a group of boutique holiday cottages. Nowadays Allie writes full time having retired from teaching literature to lifelong learners.

She has two grown-up children, one granddaughter and two grandsons, is married to Tim and lives in Cumbria, NW England.

Tall Chimneys is the sixth of her novels to be published.

Follow Allie: Facebook  Website  Twitter 

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I would like to thank Rachel and Allie Cresswell for allowing me to participate in the tour today alongside so many other wonderful blogs.

Happy Reading!

Danielle ❤

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