Moonbeam Farquhar Metheringham IV reviews ‘Jane Eyre’

You can listen to this on YouTube if you prefer.

This is a book one read under protest. One morning at breakfast one was attempting to explain to the mater that literary affection must be pure and unsullied, it must not mirror life. If it did, it would be unpleasantly sweaty and redolent of bodily fluids.

Around halfway through one’s peroration she got up from the table, temporarily abandoning a plate of greasy egg and sausage to scrabble around in the escritoire that leans drunkenly in one corner of the breakfast room. She returned to the table bringing with her a torn and dogeared paperback with which she proceeded to beat one about the head.

“This is a proper exploration of human emotion. Read it and for f***’s sake learn something. There will be questions later.”

Adjudging discretion the better part of valour. One read it.


A plain female child grows into a plain woman. Somehow she catches the eye of a man. Who turns out to be married. Then she runs away. Then she goes back

End of story.

Honestly, gentle reader, it does nothing for one. The heroine lacks romance, beauty, allure, etcetera. Although the hero is quite exciting, I suppose. But if one’s distaff parent hadn’t insisted….

Star rating. One out of five. Plus a half for a slightly sexy hero.

Moonbeam Farquhar Metheringham IV

You can find more of IVy’s profound thoughts in How To Start Writing A Book courtesy of E.M. Swift-Hook and Jane Jago.

Jane Jago’s Daily Drabble – Three Hundred and Nineteen

The image that catapulted her to Internet stardom started out as a joke. She needed an avatar for her business – and her husband put her in one of the dresses she was attempting to sell and told her to look mean. He grinned at her from behind the camera.

“The face is brilliant, but it needs something else… I know.”

He disappeared for a moment, returning with an old chair leg adorned with some flex she recognised as coming from a broken electric iron. 

When they stopped laughing sufficiently, she posed again.

And Whiplash Fashions got its public face.

©️jj 2019

Coffee Break read – Llys

From ‘Skin Deep’ a story in Pulling the Rug II by Jane Jago. You can listen to this on YouTube too.

Llys was working in the herb garden when her mother came out of the kitchen and sat herself on a stone bench in the spring sunshine.
“We have a problem, dear heart” she said without preamble.
“Yes. She now says she will not marry Llyd while thou art still living in this house.”
“And shall I stay here forever, then?”
“There is naught that would please me more. But. She has thy brother and thy father pixie-led.”
“I know it. So I am to go.” Llys dusted off her hands and came to sit beside her mother, who looked into her only daughter’s calm features and sighed.
“Why does she hate thee so?”
“Because Owen Smith wanted her not.”
Lyonette regarded her daughter in a puzzled manner.
“Why would he want her when he had thee?”
“All men must want her. Thou knowest that, Mother mine.”
“Aye. I do know. And should one not, it seems her spite follows him even unto death.”
“Him and his widow.”
Lyonette patted the hand that lay on Llys’ lap.
“Sadly. And now I must press thee. Thy father asks what thou wouldst do.”
“I know not, Mother. Do I have choices?”
“Thou dost. There have been two offers for thy hand in marriage. There is one offer of a place as a housekeeper. Or thou mayst have a cottage of thine own in the village.”
“But I must, indeed, leave my childhood home at the behest of a spiteful woman.”
“Thou must.”
“Then tell me of these offers.”
“The priest requires a housekeeper. The fat innkeeper offers for thy hand in matrimony, as does Aled Sheepherder.”
“I would not live alone for the rest of my days, so I must choose one of the other offers.”
“Thou must.”
“I’ll not warm the lustful priest’s bed.”

“Quiet child. He is a celibate” Lyonette spoke sharply, then looked into her daughter’s intelligent eyes and lifted a work-worn hand to her cheek. “Or perchance not…”
“Not,” Llys was scornful. “Remember, I lived beside his house while Owen and I were man and wife. So.” She wrinkled her smooth forehead. “I’ll not take the fat innkeeper neither. He has already worked three wives into their graves. But I like Aled Sheepherder, he was a friend of Owen and he is a kind, good man. Will thou tell my father I will take his offer gladly.”
“Aye. I will do it with a glad heart and grudge my husband naught. You might also tell Father that I neither cried nor bemoaned my lot. He could have spoken with me himself.”
Lyonette smiled sadly.
“Not so dear heart. The hurt in thy eyes would have made him uncomfortable.” Then she heaved herself onto her feet and made her way back into the house.
Llys returned to her weeding.

Jane Jago

Jane Jago’s Daily Drabble – Three Hundred and Eighteen

He was the youngest of six. There was Brutal Brian, Bestial Brendan, Bitchy Barbara, Boisterous Bill, Beautiful Belinda – and Bashful Bernard.

He was a kind shortsighted chap who blushed and stammered whenever he caught the scent of a stranger.

In desperation, his parents signed him up for a course of Shark Speed Dating.

“How does this work?” he asked the perky female on the door.

She smiled toothily. “If a female doesn’t try to eat your face you are compatible.”

Bernard joined the queue, behind a handsome fellow called Graham.

An hour later they swam off together, fin in fin.

©️jj 2019

Coffee Break Read – Trolls

Excerpt from Aaspa’s Eyes by Jane Jago. You can listen to this on YouTube too.

We all slept like the dead, and I don’t know when I would have awoken if it wasn’t for Owlet’s bladder. Even then it was a long time after dawn when he blew in my ear.
‘Mother. Owlet needs to piss.’
I sat up.
‘Okay. You go behind that tree there.’
He scrambled out of our warm bed and made a dash, returning quite quickly with a broad grin.
‘Better. Now Owlet hungry.’
‘There’s a surprise. Let Mother see what she can do.’
I got up and ambled over to the cook fire, which had smouldered all night. I fed it till it blazed nicely, and I was just wondering what to cook when one of the female trolls came out of the cave with a covered basket on her arm. She bowed respectfully and proffered the basket. I lifted the cover to find it contained fresh flat troll bread, several pats of butter, and a smaller basket of eggs.
‘Thank you sister’ I smiled, being very careful not to show my teeth.
‘Is little. Big Club is awake and himself again. Small thanks.’
I found a suitable pot and melted some butter.
‘Owlet’ I said ‘can you wake everyone? Politely. I’m making scrumbled egg.’
He leapt out of bed and went around tapping shoulders and whispering. By the time I had fried some alliums and fungus, I had quite an audience. Aanma and Aanda appointed themselves my assistants and buttered slices of flatbread. I tipped the eggs into my pot and they took but a minute to cook. Everybody was served quickly, and I was pleased to note that, with the exception of the tiny fae babe, who was being fed by Owlet, the former prisoners were all feeding themselves and looking much better. One of the adult fae came and sat beside me.
‘Where did you get bread and eggs? I was expecting porridge again. Would have been welcome. But this is tastier.’
‘A present from the trolls.’
She looked surprised, and I laughed.
‘Trolls’ I explained ‘don’t eat meat.’
‘You sure? We are taught that they are cannibalistic. Also, they are supposed to pull faery wings off, and keep the maimed fae in their larders to eat later.’
I laughed and shook my head. ‘I know trolls look brutish, but they really aren’t. They are actually pacifists. The clubs are for show, and self defence if they are really pushed. They eat only vegetables and dairy. Incidentally, they make the best butter and cheese of any species.’

Jane Jago.

Jane Jago’s Daily Drabble – Three Hundred and Seventeen

Roxanne married Hans at her father’s behest. He was a talented artist, with the ear of the Elector and a house in the best part of the city.

He turned out to be a passionate lover and a kind husband, although she was never sure what she meant to him beyond a housekeeper and a vessel for his seed.

A picture of a woman reading was wanted. Roxanne sat for Hans to paint her.

When she saw the result, and how beautiful he had made her, she smiled.

“You do love me a little.”

“No. I love you a lot.”

©️jj 2019

Coffee Break Read – Briefing

From Iconoclast: Mistrust and Treason by E.M. Swift-Hook. You can listen to this on YouTube too.

The woman on the chair beside him looked the lean, mean and hungry kind – the only doubt being exactly where that hunger was focused. She was presently focused on whatever personal screens held her attention, but he had a strong feeling they were not going to be ones about her favourite esport celebrities.
Whatever it was she was looking at must have been pretty attention-grabbing though, as her top teeth were visible, pressing hard into her bottom lip as she concentrated. Then she moved her arm and he saw the slight bulk of a wrist slot analysis device, no doubt the source of her screens. It also answered all his questions: she was on a power climb – a woman literally wired to her work. Which made her exactly the kind of person he would choose to swim a shark-filled river in full spate to avoid.
The other four people in the room could have had ‘Specialist Data Nerd’ stamped on their faces and it would not have made that fact any more obvious than it already was. These were the elite of the Coalition Security Force – masters of the virtual universe – no doubt self-labelling as crime-fighting heroes to a man and woman. But then they knew they were the most effective fighters of crime in the service, with clear-up rates that made the rest of the CSF look like slouches and shirkers. Armed with their forensic accounting suites, specialist link-predictive policing packages, and anti-hacking inoculation protocols, they could identify, isolate and neutralise almost any link-based fraudster or financial criminal. Usually, they had their perpetrator fingered within moments of the crime, sometimes even before the crime was committed, but if not they could always fearlessly hunt the evildoers down in the information jungles of the Coalition link networks, then analyse them into submission.
Very. Scary. People.
In his experience, they were never happy when asked to dirty their hands to provide reports on the sort of research their more reality-oriented colleagues might require: things about the messy side of life with real blood, real violence, real emotions. It was only when someone very senior was holding a briefing these people were ever in evidence. Had Jecks not been running this, there would have been a single junior techie, remote linking poor quality information packages someone had knocked together on their lunch break. But with the head of the CSF involved, every department manager had made it a point to turn up in person just to be seen.
Even so, they were all looking put upon and focused more on their own screens than on what was happening in the room, glancing up now and then as if worried they might have missed the start of the briefing, then ploughing their attention back into their virtual worlds. Clearly, as far as they were concerned, there were much better uses for their valuable time. And they were probably right. No doubt they should be off tagging some new virus or breaching a criminal firewall in the depths of the underlink networks. But, instead, because this was Jecks’ personal show, they were having to be here in the flesh, parading themselves so they could give whatever briefing this was some skeleton of fact. Presumably, Jecks himself was bringing the flesh to hang on it, but if so the only people here to be briefed so far were himself and…
He looked at the woman sitting beside him again, a mix of dread and certainty spawning in his guts. He closed his eyes for a moment, consciously banishing the notion as far from his thoughts as he could send it, then opened them again to find it had not gone away, any more than she had. He had been wrong about such things before. He would have to hope he was wrong this time too.

E.M. Swift-Hook


Jane Jago’s Daily Drabble – Three Hundred and Sixteen

The wallet was fat, with notes and plastic cards. Frankie picked it up and opened it riffling through the money with a grimy thumb.

“That’d buy us plenty.”

“And it’d also get us in plenty of trouble.”


“Yeah. Frankie, you are a numpty. Did you never see who dropped it?”

“Nah. Why’d I care who drops it?”

“Because it was MadDog Newton.”

Frankie dropped the wallet like it bit him.

Minnie picked it up and sprinted after MadDog’s shiny head.

She came back grinning, with a fifty in one hand.

“C’mon Frankie. Mister Newton is gonna buy us breakfast.”

©️jj 2019

Author Feature: A Rose By Any Other Name by Joanne Van Leerdam

A Rose By Any Other Name by Joanne Van Leerdam is a tangled-up tale that Shakespeare and the Brothers Grimm never told.

Gnarled fingers gripped the doorframe tightly as she watched him riding slowly, as though searching for something.
What does his lordship want now? By the stars, I have precious little left.  Is it not enough that he has built his mansion on my father’s land? And his walls around the trees between which my poor mother is buried? I’ll give him something… although it may not be what he wants.
She grinned cynically, a glimpse of yellowed teeth between thin, hateful lips.
Wait. He’s dismounting… Fool. There are no raspberries yet; it’s still too warm. What kind of moron… picks raspberry leaves? Oh, now… that is interesting. Very interesting.
Straightening her thin body to her full height, she stepped out into the field, heading straight for the thicket of barren raspberry bushes.
“And what are you going to do with those?” she demanded.
Nico jumped at the sudden intrusion. His thoughts scattered at the sight of Malevolenza.
Wizened and ghastly, she had become even thinner and more gaunt since he had last laid eyes on her over twenty years ago. She had watched in angry silence as the walls of the estate were built by his father’s workmen. Her wailing curses had risen like a fortress of sound outside the completed estate walls continuing for what had seemed an eternity on the night they were finished and the gates locked – the night his father had died. Whether it was fear or black magic that had driven the soul from his body, Nicolas would never know. When his father was cold, his grey eyes staring sightlessly at the ceiling as though he had been interrupted mid-thought, the old crone had fallen silent and disappeared. Or so he had thought.
“Well? Cat got your tongue? Or are you… bewitched?” she cackled.
Nico opened his mouth, but he could not speak.
“Raspberry leaves… what on earth would a man want those for? Unless… there is a child on the way?”
The fear in Nicolas’ eyes was like a drug to her.
Malevolenza pointed her bony finger at him, her dirty, ragged nail giving emphasis to her intent. She muttered the words of her spell under her breath: “Doppio, doppio, lavoro e disordine, Ora sono io il tuo maestro!”
Nico remained mute, entirely under her control.
“You will take these leaves to your wife. Grind them into a powder, and make a tea. She will drink it, and her pains will begin. And then, when the child is born, you shall give the baby to me. You will tell your wife the child is dead. Go now. It shall be done.”
Nico’s senses returned to him only when she had disappeared. Shaking his head, and unable to recall what had crossed his mind just now, he resumed picking the leaves and placing them carefully in the pouch he had brought for his special harvest.
As he returned home late that afternoon, the sun dropped low in the sky and a distinct chill fell over the air.

For the author’s perspective on writing this book, visit the blog post ‘My Least Favourite Shakespeare Play’ at

A Bite of .... Joanne Van Leerdam 
Question One: Chocolate cake or coffee cake?

Chocolate cake, all the way. It’s rich and delicious and decadent… and you can still have coffee with it. They make a perfect pair.
While I love coffee, I don’t actually like coffee-flavoured foods much. 

Question Two: Would you rather be James Bond or Batman?

Batman. They both drive cool cars, but James Bond doesn’t have a cape.

Question Three: Have you ever written somebody you dislike into a book, just so you could make them suffer?

Oh yes! My poems in ‘A Poet’s Curse’ and the stories in ‘Curious Things’ and ‘Curious Times’ are exactly that. Horror is so… therapeutic!

Joanne Van Leerdam is a poet, blogger, writer, thinker, puzzler, teacher, traveller, photographer and generally nice person. Despite having lived all her life in Australia, she has, thus far, avoided being killed or consumed by any of the rampant and varied deadly wildlife, which is probably a good thing.
Other than Australia, Canada is her favourite place in the world.
In addition to writing powerful, thought-provoking poetry and short-but-incredibly horrifying stories, she has recently turned her hand to writing medieval fantasy infused with dark humour. Because she’s not yet a world famous author, she is still required to keep a day job. Joanne spends her daytime hours keeping teens enthralled in her senior high school English, History and Drama/Performance classes.
Joanne is an active member and performer in her local theatre company, where she has just completed a successful season in Monty Python’s Spamalot! and has directed high school musicals for more years than she cares to count.
Joanne is the mother of two delightful furchildren and the guardian of a growing collection of Charlie Bears.
In her spare time, she doesn’t mind the occasional sleep.

You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Goodreads and her own Website and personal blog, creative writing blog and review blog.





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