Monthly Archives: April 2015
The distant, shrilling screams and the deathly scent of smoke in the still of the night have me springing off of the tiny cot. I swiftly scan the small hut that’s been my home for the last couple of weeks. Snatching the clothes from the plastic container that’s placed in the corner, I quickly change into my baggy black pants and shirt. After putting on the ghutra around my head and wrapping the black scarf around my face with my hair pulled back, I’m confident that I can easily pass as a man.
The screams grow louder, and the footsteps scatter in panic. There’s something terrible happening out there, but I’m not too worried yet.
I’ve prepared for this.
I grab my knives and stick them in my boots and the side of my pants. As the stench of smoke invades me, I seize my gun and soundlessly slither out of the hut.
The small homes and huts of the village are engulfed in angry flames. The villagers are screaming and running, trying to save their loved ones. I quickly assess the scene, suspecting that the fire must have been deliberately set.
Who the hell would do this?
And then I see them. Men in their Jeeps are yelling at the villagers, their guns drawn. I’ve heard of attacks like this. These men may be part of the radical rebel group that has been terrorizing the villagers and robbing them of little they possess. My gut tells me it must be the group, FILO, which Tom Sterns has warned me about. Sterns is still the leader of our special operation forces and my mentor, so I trust him completely. Instantly, my blood boils at the possibility that these rebels may have some direct or indirect involvement with Chayse’s death.
Don’t lose control, Tess.
I have to remain focused. I can’t let my emotions push me into making poor decisions.
My mind drifts to the little boys and girls I’ve been helping in the small medical clinic, and I silently sprint toward the homes to save the kids. I think about little Akbar and Sheyla, who have already gained a special place in my heart. The brother and sister’s hut is not too far from me. As I move closer, I helplessly watch the blaze consume their home. My heart crashes to the floor, and I pray they escaped.
Don’t panic, Tess. Think!
I hear wailing of a child. As my head spins toward the sound, I see a stranded little girl standing in the middle of the chaos, crying by herself. Where is her mother? And then I notice her. The mom is lying on the ground unresponsive and not too far from the toddler. I race to the girl and grab her, trying to bring her to safety. Holding her securely under my arms, I rush toward the clinic.
The girl is terrified, probably thinking I’m one of the men who attacked them. Unfortunately, I can’t stop to reassure her right now.
When I kick the door of the clinic open, somebody tries to hit me with a stick. Luckily, I block the strike easily and take the stick away with one arm while still holding the child with the other. Just as I’m about to pull my gun out, I notice it’s my assistant, Tanveer. I yank my scarf down to show him my face.
“It’s me! Dr. Johnson!” I yell. Sterns, who sent me on this mission, didn’t want me to use my real name. My identity in Iraq has been Dr. Karen Johnson.
He takes a step back in shock. “What is happening, Doctor? Why are you dressed like one of them?”
“I can’t explain right now. But you must trust me, okay? You have to take this little girl out of here. Her mother is no more. You can’t stay in here. I think you need to take as many people as you can and try to flee into the woods. Maybe you need to escape to the next village. They will probably set this clinic on fire as well. I’ll try to save as many people as I can, but you need to get a group going and get out of here. Do you understand?”
Staring at me in disbelief, he finally responds. “Yes. Okay, I understand. I will wait by the edge of the woods and see if more people come. They can meet me there, and we will escape together.”
“Okay, go now. I’ll tell whoever I can.”
“Wait, what about you?”
“I have to help them, Tanveer. I’m not leaving.” I then turn to the little girl who is still crying. In her native language, Arabic, I gently say, “Hey, sweetie, this is my friend. He will help you, okay?” I’m not sure if she hears anything I say to her, but at least the gentle tone of my voice calms her a bit.
Placing the scarf back on securely to cover myself, I sneak back out of the clinic and sprint toward the madness. To my horror, I see a man on the ground, dead, with a woman hovering over him, screaming. One of the attackers approaches her and pulls her off of the man. He takes his gun and shoots the man again, as if rubbing his death in even more to the woman. A shrilling sound escapes her as she yells something to him. He turns around and strikes her across the face. She tumbles to the ground, her face buried into the dirt. The man points his gun to shoot a fatal shot to her head. As if accepting her fate, the woman lies still, not resisting.
Without hesitating, I aim my gun and shoot straight through the man’s heart before he can pull the trigger. Making sure none of his men has witnessed my kill, I rush to the woman and pull her up. I instruct her in Arabic to head toward the woods to make her escape. She has no idea who I am since I still have my face covered. Luckily, she realizes that I just saved her, so she follows my instructions.
Before running, she turns to me and grabs hold of my arm. “Kill them all!” she whispers fiercely.
As I find more villagers, I give them the same instructions. I try to avoid calling attention to myself from the terrorists, but at times, I do have to use my gun or my knives. There’s no way I can take on all these men. There are at least ten Jeeps here, so from my estimation, there are probably forty to fifty men, all heavily armed. Although, I’ve already killed eight of them, it’s impossible for me to get them all. The best I can do is to try and save as many people as I can.
As the fire swallows the small village, I bring the last batch of people to the edge of the woods. Tanveer is still waiting with the small crowd, all of them crouched low behind the trees.
To my relief, I notice Akbar and Sheyla standing with Tanveer. Happy to see them, I give them a quick hug. At first they are frightened, but when they hear my voice, they recognize me and hug me tightly. Feeling their tremors, I assure them everything will be okay.
Shifting my attention to Tanveer, I direct him on the next move. “I think you need to start taking everybody out of here before those bastards realize what’s happening. I’ll go back to the village. If I find anybody else, I’ll bring them with me. Start heading toward the east. There’s a village that’s about seven or eight miles from here. Hopefully, they can help.”
“Okay, doctor. You going to be okay?”
“Don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine.” I give Tanveer a quick nod and turn toward the burning village again.
As I sneak back, I hear many of the men yelling in Arabic.
“Who the hell is killing our men?”
“And where are all the villagers?”
“Somebody dare to challenge us? I want them found. Do you hear me?”
I stay hidden. The men scatter about to search. Damn it, I’ve been hoping they wouldn’t find any of the dead bodies of the men I’ve killed yet. I have to remind myself to stay focused on my mission. What I need to do is try to capture one of the men and find some information about Saheim. My instincts tell me he is the missing piece of the puzzle.
I’m confident these men know about Saheim. He’s one of the main leaders of groups like these. If I obtain some information on him, then he can potentially lead me to Chayse’s killers.
Sterns has warned me about him—Saheim is a wanted criminal. He’s ruthless and one of the most dangerous leaders of FILO, Future Iraq Leaders’ Organization. None of the villagers have been willing to talk whenever I’ve brought his name up. I’ve gotten the feeling that some of them have heard his name but have been too afraid to say anything.
I suddenly notice that some of the men are heading toward the woods where the villagers escaped. Running out of time, I have to think quickly and stop them. Moving swiftly and silently like a predator about to zero in on its prey, I pursue them.
Briefly scanning, I notice twelve men going toward the woods. They all have their bandanas on and have their guns drawn. I have to distract them. It’s now or never. I leap in the opposite direction and shoot toward them. When they hear the shots, they yell and race toward me. I’m confident they don’t have a visual on me, but they know the general direction of the shots. I’m not worried about being caught because I can easily outrun them. My sole hope is that they all follow me, so I can steer them away from those innocent people.
I don’t run too fast initially, making sure they continue to pursue me. I purposefully go toward the west, luring them as far away as possible. When they’ve been on my tail for at least fifteen minutes, I speed it up and try to lose them. With enough distance between us, I climb up a tree to hide out. I’ll head back toward the village once everything settles down a bit. I’m bound to bump into some of them since they’ll probably still be searching for me. At the first opportunity, I plan to take one of the men as my captive and make him talk about Saheim.
As I wait in the tree, I think about all of the innocent people who lost their lives tonight. Shit, what is wrong with this world? To make matters worse, everybody is afraid to stand up to these groups that go around terrorizing.
I’ve already been here for two weeks, searching for answers. Tonight is the closest I’ve come to finding some information. But damn it! Saving the village was not part of the plan. I had no idea these horrid men were going to go on a killing spree and burn everything down. At least it gives me some pleasure to know I took out quite a few of them tonight.
But not enough.
No, they all have to pay—every single one who’s responsible for Chayse’s death. I don’t care if they’re involved directly or indirectly. They will pay.
Two weeks away from my son. My Jace. My heart and soul. Oh how I miss my baby. I promised him before I left that I would be home soon. And it’s already been two weeks.
I can’t believe he’s going to be two years old in four more months. With a head full of dark hair and big gray eyes, Jacen reminds me of Chayse every day.
As I hide in the tree, I think about my life since Chayse’s death. I remember my pregnancy, the birth of my son, and how every day and night, Chayse has been on my mind and in my heart.
My current WIP is completely different than anything I’ve written. This one is dear to my heart and I feel it’s important that I write this story. In my day job, I’m a physical therapist so I’ve had the privilege of working with many patients with neurological impairments. “My Perfect Imperfections” is from the POV of a girl with Cerebral Palsy. At the very least, I hope to bring some knowledge and inspiration to the readers. Here’s the prologue:
“Congratulations! You have beautiful little girls. Oh and by the way, one of the twins has Cerebral Palsy.”
I always wondered how the doctors broke the news to my parents about my diagnosis. I used to visualize the whole scenario.
“What are you talking about, Doctor? What does that even mean?” I could picture my mom asking, her eyes filling with tears.
“Well, is this curable? What is the prognosis?” Dad would ask, always the practical one, looking for answers.
“I know this is a lot to take in. It’s a neurological disorder. There are things we can do to help. Lily can go through intense physical, occupational, and speech therapy. Actually, she’ll probably need therapy most of her life. I have pamphlets I can give you…and you can read information about Cerebral Palsy. Oh, and I can give you references to some really great support groups. I mean you’ll be surprised how many parents have to go through this type of thing.” The doctor would ramble on and on, never really answering the questions directly.
Dad probably got angry, his voice getting louder. “Look, Doc, I just asked if she’s going to get better. That’s all I want to know!”
Mom most likely started crying quietly to herself, knowing in her heart why the doctor was being vague. I could see both leaving the doctor’s office with more questions than answers, fearing their lives had just turned upside down.
My name is Elizabeth Skye Cooper. Well, most people just call me Lily. I am eighteen years old, and I have Cerebral Palsy. What exactly is Cerebral Palsy? According to Webster, it is a disability resulting from damage to the brain before, during, or shortly after birth and outwardly manifested by muscular incoordination and speech disturbances.
Blah, blah, blah. I hate stupid definitions.
I’ll tell you what I know of Cerebral Palsy. It sucks. I can’t move my body the way I want to move it. I’m mostly confined to my wheelchair because I can’t walk without assistance. I can’t even feed myself since my arm is not able to bring the damn food to my mouth because of my inability to coordinate my muscles. I know what I want my arm to do, but it won’t cooperate no matter how hard I try. Didn’t I tell you it sucks?
But I’ve lived with it for eighteen years. And nobody understands my body more than me. None of those doctors, none of those therapists, not even my family. And through the years, I’ve learned to make the most out of it. I actually can drive my wheelchair and talk with my communication device.
But it hasn’t been easy. No, it hasn’t been easy.
Let me just start by saying that if you have not been watching this series, you’re really missing out on something special. I don’t even watch TV. My life is just way too busy to sit down and watch any shows. But, when it comes to Outlander, I will make an exception.
I read the books over ten years ago. And since then, I’ve been in love with the fictional character, Jamie Fraser. When I first heard that Starz was going to air Outlander, I was a bit nervous. I did not want them to ruin my vision of the books.
Once I watched the first eight episodes, I was obsessed with the whole Outlander world. I fell in love with Jamie all over again. Sam Heughan is the perfect Jamie Fraser and Caitriona Balfe is the perfect Claire.
Many of us Outlander fans have been waiting a long time for Episode 9. Finally, Outlander Returns! I was literally counting down the days.
My family already knows not to bother me (not even breathe around me) when Outlander is on. During each show, I literally stand in front of the screen, soaking in every scene…every word. Oh by the way, I’ve already watched this episode five times since it aired on Saturday! Didn’t I tell you I was obsessed?
This episode was from Jamie’s perspective, where he reflected on his life and the choices he had made. “Each step I had taken was a choice…Every day, every man has a choice between right and wrong, between love and hate, sometimes between life and death. And the sum of your choices becomes your life. The day I realized is the day I became a man.” Ahh Jamie…so wise!
The rescue was amazing! Just like in the book, Jamie was willing to die trying to rescue Claire. Black Jack Randall once again managed to creep me out. Evil at its best! Gotta give credit to the actor, Tobias Menzies.
I was also impressed with Sam and Cait’s acting. I loved the scene when they were yelling at each other. I loved how Jamie lost control and called her “a foul-mouthed bitch.”
And immediately, he realized that this was not him. He then broke down and told her how scared he was and what it did to him to see her almost raped by Black Jack Randall. “I came after you with my bare hands and an empty pistol…You’re tearing my guts out, Claire.” Sigh.
Oh and can we talk about the spanking scene briefly? I know this is a very controversial scene but here’s my take. This was Scotland in the 18th century. This practice was completely acceptable. Jamie did what he thought was normal. It was the way of the times…the culture. Let’s give both Jamie and Claire some credit. Claire could obviously hold her own against Jamie and showed him that he couldn’t “own” her. Jamie showed amazing restraint when she hit him…especially in the earlier scene when she slapped him across the face. Back then, women just weren’t allowed to do that. If a woman raised her hand on her husband, I’m sure she would have permanent scars. Whether we agree with it or not, it was just the way it was. I think this scene was handled very well and it did not offend me in the slightest.
Instead, I’d much rather talk about the sex scene. Can we say hot? How the heck do these two have such an amazing chemistry? I mean, I know they’re just acting, but it sure doesn’t seem like it. I know some don’t like the graphic sex scenes, but I love them in this series. For me, I can see their emotional connection…and that’s what makes it so intense…so hot and sexy. These two sizzle on screen! After doing the deed, Jamie said, “I am your master and you are mine. Seems I cannot possess your soul without losing my own.”
There was one part I was not too fond of in this episode. I can’t stand Laoghaire and I felt that Jamie had couple of opportunities to tell her that he married Claire because he loved her. Maybe he didn’t want to tell her because he hadn’t even told Claire yet. Maybe he didn’t tell her because he’s just a nice guy and didn’t want to hurt her feelings. But still, I wish he made it clear right then and there that he was not interested in her. But Jamie is Jamie. Claire just needs to put his little girl back in her place.
Jamie has grown up to be a man of honor, a protector, a warrior…a true highlander.
I can’t wait until Saturday for the next episode! Until this weekend, Jamie Fraser!
I recently visited Costa Rica with my family. This was our second visit and it was just as memorable. Costa Rica is absolutely beautiful—the land, the people, and the weather.
We arrived at the resort around 5pm. But we were all exhausted because we had been up since 2am. That didn’t stop us though. Even though we were half asleep, we quickly changed out of our sweats (when we left Chicago that morning, literally there was a snow storm). To come from that blizzard to paradise, we weren’t trying to waste any time.
After eating, we headed to the ocean. It’s the most fulfilling feeling to be around that massive body of water. Honestly, the ocean is definitely one of the most beautiful sites that Earth has to offer.
Hanging out until we were all about to pass out, we finally decided to call it a night. Oh, did I mention that our rooms had a beautiful view of the gardens and the ocean? Even the maids were amazing. One day when I came back up to my room from the beach, not only was the room spotless clean, but they had the small table nicely decorated with the books we brought with us. I mean how do they know I’m a lover of books??? It just made my day to have Chaysing Dreams alongside such great books like Insurgent and Paper Towns. Yeah, I felt pretty special.
The rest of the week, we definitely spent some quality family time. Having two teens (one in college), it’s nearly impossible for all five of us to get together. We swam in the pool, played on the beach, went for our morning walk, played in the ocean, ate all our meals together… ahh, finally!
My daughter turned 19 in Costa Rica! How cool to celebrate her birthday as a family in paradise! The waiters brought her a personal cake and sang to her at dinner. Ahh, my baby girl is growing up quickly!
And let’s not forget about the wildlife. We saw some wild monkeys, vultures, iguanas, and exotic birds… Nothing beats seeing these animals living wild and free.
For our excursion, we went hiking through the rainforest and took pics by the active volcano (Volcano Arenal). We then visited the natural hot springs created by the volcano. There were waterfalls and even natural steam room (inside a cave). Truly, Planet Earth has so many amazing things to offer!
Oh one more thing; while we went on our excursion, we stopped at a small village where Costa Rican aborigines lived. Now that was cool! I was disappointed that they weren’t there at the time, but we did get to see their huts and their way of life. It’s amazing to see the different cultures that exist in this world. It truly made me think of the difference between “wants” and “needs.” Like our tourist said, air conditioning is a “want”…“a luxury.” This is from somebody who lives in 90 degree weather! Of course she’s right. We just end up taking so much for granted. Their lives are simple. No TV’s, no cell phones, no computers… God forbid, we take our kids’ cell phones away from them! I mean the world must be ending!
As I write this, I reflect on my life. Sure, we were lucky that we were able to make such a wonderful trip to the beautiful Costa Rica. Although it’s a poor country, the people are happy. Their motto? PURA VIDA!
Shouldn’t we all just take a breath and slow down? Once in a while, we need to look around us and really notice the beauty. Maybe we need to not focus on what we don’t have, but what we do. Maybe just maybe, we can shrug away the “wants” and appreciate the “needs.”
Thanks for the memories, Costa Rica! Until next time…
This is so exciting! Just found out that Chaysing Memories is up for the Romance Book of the Month Poll through Long and Short Reviews! Yeah!!!! Would love your support! Please vote. The voting is only through Thursday and it’s listed amongst some great authors- Yikes! The winner will be announced Friday (so you have to vote soon). Thank you in advance!
Here’s the link to vote: http://www.longandshortreviews.com/uncategorized/march-non-erotic-romance-book-of-the-month-poll-2/
And here’s the link to their review: http://www.longandshortreviews.com/book-reviews/chaysing-memories-by-jalpa-williby/
Here’s their full five star review:
They say you can’t beat Fate. Maybe they’re right.
What would you do if you can’t remember the one person in your life that means the world to you? What if you don’t have any of his memories?
Chaysing Memories feels so personal. I think this is where I congratulate the author. Though the first book was good, this second book was incredible. The writing was exceptional, emotional and descriptive.
Tess doesn’t remember Chayse but her world comes crashing down when she realizes she has lost three weeks of her life. From then on starts a fight where life and happiness is at stake. Chayse is trapped in hell and the only person who can save is the one who does not remember him.
Maybe I am being a little cheesy but this story shows you the power of love and of the mind and how fate has a hand in our lives.
A lot of secrets in her life are unraveled. A myriad of different events occur that will make her much stronger. The plot was well developed and the author made sure the mystery and suspense element of the book stayed through until the end.
I loved every part of this, from the beginning to the end. My heart went out to them every time it felt like they are going to lose each other. But they stayed strong until the end. The ending….I was surprised. I think that’s all I can say without giving something away.
For readers, I would very much recommend they read from book 1 first. l loved the second book. It made me cry and hope for more of this story to come. Those who love an epic love story should check this series out.