Bury the Living by Jodi McIsaac

“Can I help you?”

“Do you work here?”

“I’m one of the volunteers, yes. My name’s Suzanne. How can I help you?”

Nora thrust the picture of Thomas into her hands. It was time for complete honesty, come what may. “Right, Suzanne, I know this is going to sound crazy. I’m not off my head, I swear it. But I’ve had several dreams about this man. He told me to come to Kildare so I could talk to a woman called Brigid. And then I found this photo of him. See, it says here he died in 1923. And I keep seeing visions of the past, knowing things I shouldn’t know. So I’ve come here, just like he asked.” She stopped, unable to believe she’d confessed all of that out loud to a complete stranger.

The woman glanced at the photo for a moment, then handed it back. “Are you looking for prayer?”

“No! I’m trying to find out how a man who’s been dead for almost a century is getting into my head.”

It was clear from Suzanne’s expression that she thought Nora was mentally unstable. “Have you checked at the heritage center? They might be able to—”

“Yes, and they sent me here. I’m not making this up! Someone must know—”

“Is there a problem?” Another woman emerged from a door at the side of the church. She was short and on the plump side, with closely cropped coarse brown hair and an uneven fringe. She wore a long green shawl with a gold brooch.

“May I?” Suzanne said, taking the photo from Nora. She passed it to her colleague. “She’s trying to find out about this man. He’s called Thomas Heaney. Do you recognize him, Mary?”

Mary’s mouth opened, then closed, then opened again. “Yes, I do,” she said slowly, her eyes drinking in the photograph. Finally, she stared up at Nora. “You’re the one looking for him?” Her voice held a hint of incredulity.

“Aye,” Nora said warily. Was this woman having her on? Or was she really about to find some answers?

Mary pressed her hand over her heart. “It’s a fine day. Why don’t we take a walk outside? Thank you, Suzanne, I’ll help this young lady from here.”

Nora followed Mary past another stone coffin and a display of Kildare in the fifth century, back into the churchyard.

“Well,” Mary began once they were well away from the front door. “I’m not exactly sure how to proceed, but I’ll do my best. You see, we’ve been waiting for you.”

“You’ve been waiting for me?” Nora repeated, dumbfounded. “Why?”

“Are you a religious person, Nora?”

“Yes, o’course.” They were behind the cathedral now, wandering among the tombstones. The round tower loomed overhead.

“That’s good to hear. So many young people have left the church these days. If they only knew how it sustained us in days gone by. But I digress. I belong to an order called the Brigidine Sisters.”

“A Catholic order? But isn’t the cathedral Church of Ireland?”
“It is now, but that hasn’t always been the case. The church you see now was built in the thirteenth century, but it rests on the site of the church Saint Brigid herself had built in the fifth century. Before that, it was a site of worship to the pagan goddess Brigid. So I count it a privilege to volunteer at the cathedral as part of my devotion to the saint.”

“Makes sense.” They had walked to the base of the round tower, which was surrounded by gravestones.

“But it may surprise you that a few months ago, several of us experienced the same vision while praying at Saint Brigid’s Well. Have you been there?” Nora shook her head. “It’s down on Tully Road. It was here that Brigid herself appeared to us. She told us a young woman would come looking for a man with gray hair called Thomas Heaney. And that she wished to bestow upon this young woman a very special gift.” Mary’s face shone with excitement as she leaned toward Nora.

Nora stopped walking. “Are you saying Saint Brigid appeared to you and told you I would be coming? I didn’t even know I would be coming until this morning.”

“That’s exactly what I’m saying. And it wasn’t just me. My Sisters all had the same vision. Many of us work or volunteer in some capacity at the cathedral. She must have wanted to ensure one of us was there to greet you when you finally came looking. I’m just so glad I overheard your conversation with Suzanne. She’s not a Brigidine Sister, you see.”

Nora chewed the inside of her lip. She was Catholic, sure, but the idea of saints actually appearing to people wasn’t something she’d considered before. It had certainly never happened to anyone she knew. The logical side of her rebelled. “And you all had the same vision?”

“I know how it sounds,” Mary said. “But you yourself said you’ve seen visions of the past, have you not? And dreamed of a man who is long dead?”

“Yes, but . . .”

“It’s hard to fathom, I won’t deny it. If Brigid hadn’t told me herself, if I hadn’t seen her with my own eyes, I’d not believe it.”

“Right, so, you said she wanted to give me a gift. What is it? And who’s this Thomas Heaney? You’ll forgive me for not understanding what this is all about.”

“Think with your heart, not with your head,” Mary said. “When you had this dream of Thomas, how did you feel?”

Longing. But she couldn’t say that out loud. She hardly wanted to admit it to herself. “Like I wanted to help him. More than anything. He begged me.”

“And these visions? Do you believe they were real?”

What if she did? Would it mean she was going mad? “I don’t know. They felt real.”

“Then they were. It doesn’t matter if it was just inside your head, or if you were seeing something that was really there. What matters is that Brigid was trying to speak with you.”

“Yes, but why?”

“I don’t know why she chose you. Or how exactly you’re supposed to help this young man. Or why she even wants you to help him. But she has made it possible.”

“How? He’s been dead for eighty years.”

“For this, we must go back to the church.”

Nora bit her tongue and followed Mary into the cathedral. Suzanne popped her head around the corner as they entered. “Everything all right?” she asked.

“Grand, thank you,” Mary answered. “We’re just going to have a peek at the records downstairs.” She led Nora down a narrow stone staircase into the basement of the church. They passed walls lined with bookshelves and stacks of boxes labeled in minute handwriting. Then they entered another small room, which was empty save for a dark fireplace set into the wall. Mary turned so quickly Nora almost ran into her. “You must swear to never reveal this to anyone.”

“Reveal what?” Nora was beginning to think this was some elaborate hoax . . . or a cult. She eyed the door nervously.

“What I’m about to show you is one of the greatest kept secrets of the church. Brigid, in her wisdom, has chosen to share it with you. You’ll be the first outside our society to have this knowledge.”

Nora narrowed her eyes. “What kind of society is this?”

Mary gave an apologetic shrug. “The complicated kind. To the outside world, we are the Brigidine Sisters, an order committed to service and harmony in the spirit of Saint Brigid. We were nearly destroyed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. We survived, underground, until we revealed ourselves in the eighteen hundreds. All of that is true, but we’ve also kept this sacred knowledge secret and protected for centuries. And if you do not do the same . . .” She let her threat hang in the empty air, but Nora was not so easily cowed.

“Right, I’m beginning to think this is all a joke. Someone’s acting the maggot with me, so they are. Forget it.” She turned to leave.

“Wait!” Mary called. “I’m sorry. It’s just . . . It’s precious to us. We’ve guarded it for so many years.”

“What it is, then?”

Mary counted the stones around the fireplace. Then she pressed hard against one with the heel of her hand. On the other side, a stone popped out about an inch. Mary pulled at it until it loosened, then reached inside the hole. When she withdrew her hand, it held a small red box with gilt edging. Nora stepped closer. “What is it?” she asked.

“’Tis the only true relic of our precious Saint Brigid,” Mary said, holding the box as though it might trickle through her fingers if she looked away for a moment. “A church in Portugal claims to have the blessed saint’s skull, and they’ve sent fragments to Killester and Kilcurry, but we Sisters know that this is the only true relic.”

“Why don’t you display it? Why keep it secret?”

“Because it has power,” Mary said, still speaking in a hushed, reverent tone. She gently opened the decorated lid and handed it to Nora. “Do not touch it. Not yet.”

Nora looked into the box. It was, as she had expected, a bone. Only an inch long, it was polished white and smooth, nestled on a ruby-red cushion.

“It was from her finger,” Mary explained.

“Is this the gift? What am I supposed to do with it?” Nora asked, closing the lid.

“No, my child, that is not the gift. But the power of Brigid’s relic will bestow on you the gift she wishes you to have: the ability to travel through time.”


Excerpted from BURY THE LIVING © Copyright 2016 by Jodi McIsaac. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

About the book:
“McIsaac puts plenty of history and a little fantasy and romance into this entertaining time travel tale. McIsaac has an undeniable talent for immersing the reader in the plight of the Irish in the 1920s, at the height of the Irish Civil War. Comparisons to Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series are inevitable.” —Publishers Weekly

Rebellion has always been in the O’Reilly family’s blood. So when faced with the tragic death of her brother during Northern Ireland’s infamous Troubles, a teenage Nora joined the IRA to fight for her country’s freedom. Now, more than a decade later, Nora is haunted by both her past and vivid dreams of a man she has never met.

When she is given a relic belonging to Brigid of Kildare, patron saint of Ireland, the mystical artifact transports her back eighty years—to the height of Ireland’s brutal civil war. There she meets the alluring stranger from her dreams, who has his own secrets—and agenda. Taken out of her own time, Nora has the chance to alter the fortunes of Ireland and maybe even save the ones she loves. In this captivating and adventurous novel from Jodi McIsaac, history belongs to those with the courage to change it.

About the Author:
Jodi McIsaac is the author of several novels, including A Cure for Madness and the Thin Veil Series. She grew up in New Brunswick, on Canada’s east coast. After abandoning her Olympic speed skating dream, she wrote speeches for a politician, volunteered in a refugee camp, waited tables in Belfast, earned a couple of university degrees, and started a boutique copywriting agency. She loves running, geek culture, and whiskey.

Twitter: @jodimcisaac

DVD Giveaway: Approaching the Unknown

Courtesy of Paramount, I have a copy of Approaching the Unknown for one (1) lucky winner!

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends October 28. I’ll draw a name on October 29, and notify winner via email.


Good luck!

Continue reading DVD Giveaway: Approaching the Unknown

Box Review: Smuggler’s Bounty – September 2016

Smugglers Bounty

“Star Wars and Funko are proud to present Smuggler’s Bounty, the only OFFICAL Star Wars subscription box in the galaxy! Featuring 100% exclusive collectibles, apparel and accessories from the Star Wars universe, each box is carefully curated for Star Wars fans and shipped directly to your doorstep. Every box is themed specifically around the Star Wars films with collectors in mind. For just $25 (plus shipping) every other month, members will receive a box full of exclusive Star Wars-themed Funko collectibles and a host of other surprises valued at over $50. Each box will focus on a different part of the Star Wars universe and include memorabilia exclusive to the program, perfect for any Star Wars fan.”

The theme this month was The Death Star!

Smugglers Bounty

Darth Vader Patch and Storm Trooper Pin – these are small collectibles included in each box.

Smugglers Bounty

The box comes with a handy card detailing the items included.

Smugglers Bounty

Death Star Luggage Tag – I enjoyed this bonus item. And it’s something I’d definitely use for my suitcase.

Smugglers Bounty

Vader vs Kenobi Tshirt – It’s a cutesy-POP style, that a child would enjoy. I doubt I’d wear it in public. But I like it well enough to keep and wear around the house.

Smugglers Bounty

EXCLUSIVE Darth Vader Funko POP! – I knew we’d get a Darth Vader POP, but this is a really cool design. Sorry for the bad quality photo, but he’s standing at an angle with his arm and lightsaber extended.

Smugglers Bounty

EXCLUSIVE Grand Moff Tarkin Funko POP! – They even put the sharp angle of his cheeks as a subtle detail. I love this one as well!

SUMMARY: I really enjoyed this month’s box. The boxes with 2 POPs are always my favorite. The designs this month were fantastic. And I’m so glad I’m not stuck with another hat or mug.

Next month’s theme is ROGUE ONE.. just in time to get here before the film’s release!

Received in September

The following are the books, movies, television shows, etc. I received in September for review and/or giveaways:

Blu Ray/DVD:
Beauty and the Beast 25th Anniversary Edition Blu-Ray
Approaching the Unknown DVD

Mystery Box:
The Bam Box – August
The Bam Box – September

Weregirl by C. D. Bell

Del Rey:
A Night Without Stars by Peter F. Hamilton
Crosstalk by Connie Willis
StarCraft: Evolution by Timothy Zahn
Morning Star by Pierce Brown

Disney Hyperion / Kingswell:
Quinny & Hopper Partners in Slime by Adriana Brad Schanen
Art of Coloring: Moana: 100 Images to Inspire Creativity by Disney Book Group
Moana and the Ocean by Disney Book Group
Moana Read-Along Storybook & CD by Disney Storybook Art Team
The Story of Moana The Story of Moana: A Tale of Courage and Adventure by Disney Book Group
Elena of Avalor A Palace Fit for a Princess by Disney Book Group
Elena of Avalor Elena and the Secret of Avalor by Craig Gerber
Elena of Avalor Feliz Navidad: A Royal Christmas by Disney Book Group
Bionic by Suzanne Weyn
A Taste for Monsters by Matthew J. Kirby
The Secrets of Hexbridge Castle by Gabrielle Kent
Black Widow Red Vengeance by Margaret Stohl
This is Our Story by Ashley Elston
Frozen: A Pop-Up Adventure by Matthew Reinhart
High Heat by Richard Castle
Bad Blood by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Galaxy Press:
Battlefield Earth Special Edition by L. Ron Hubbard

Macmillan Children’s / Imprint / Feiwel and Friends:
Freya by Matthew Laurence
Perfect by Cecelia Ahern

Penguin Young Readers / Puffin / Putnam / Philomel:
The Glass Sentence by S. E. Grove
Double Eclipse by Melissa De la Cruz
The Turncoat’s Gambit by Andrea Cremer

Pocket Books:
Star Trek: Prey: Book One: Hell’s Heart by John Jackson Miller
Star Trek: Legacies: Book #3: Purgatory’s Key by Dayton Ward

Judgment at Verdant Court by M. C. Planck

Random House Teens:
A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess

Last Descendants: An Assassin’s Creed Novel by Matthew Kirby

Simon & Schuster / Gallery / Atria / Keywords Press:
HALO: Fractures: Extraordinary Tales from the Halo Canon by Various
Children of Eden by Joey Graceffa

St Martin’s Griffin:
Moon Chosen: Tales of a New World by P. C. Cast

Sterling Publishing / Lark:
Edgar Allan Poe: An Adult Coloring Book by Odessa Begay

Subterranean Press:
Penric and the Shaman by Lois McMaster Bujold
Voyages: The Chronicles of Lucifer Jones Vol V. by Mike Resnick

The Dreaming Hunt by Cindy Dees

Box Review: Bam Box – September 2016

Bam Box

The Bam Box was founded in 2015 by Bloof, the same team of geeks, comic book lovers and pop culture collectors that started We love collecting. We love the thrill of it, the mystery of it and especially that feeling you get when you have a collectible in your hands that you are really excited about. So we set out to bring something different to everyone.

There are some great subscription boxes on the market, but we felt there was still something missing. We went to the drawing board with the goal of creating the box we would want to show up on our doorstep. After a lot of ideas and prototypes we arrived at the Bam Box. From the design of the box to the items inside to the instant winners we send out, we accomplished what we wanted to do: give you the subscription box we would be jealous of.”

Cost: 1 month plan starts at $24.99 plus $7.99 s/h

* received a box for review purposes.

Bam Box

The box has upgraded just a sheet to a nice mini mag with a description of all of the items in the box and any possible 1-Ups!

This month’s theme was “Strange”!

Bam Box

Beetlejuice Pin (Lydia) – There were several possibilities, including Beetlejuice himself.

Bam Box

Demogorgon Killer (from Stranger Things) – I haven’t been able to start watching Stranger Things yet, so I had no idea what this was till I opened the booklet. It’s a popular show right now though, so I’m sure many people did know.

Bam Box

White Rabbit Pocket Watch – This was by far the coolest item in the box. Alice in Wonderland fans, young and old, will appreciate this iconic watch. The detail is great. And it even comes in a nice little bag.

Bam Box

Inception Totem Set – Again, I haven’t seen this movie, mostly because I don’t care for DiCaprio. At all. So, I had no idea what this was from until I opened the booklet. But I have been told all about the movie, so I know what the set means. It’s a clever idea for fans of the film.

Bam Box

Grimm Comic #1 Variant – I LOVE Grimm, so I was excited to score this rare 1-up variant. The more common variant is in color.

Bam Box

Kiss Comic #2 – This was on the back side of the bagged Grimm comic, and it wasn’t mentioned in the booklet. So, I’m guessing this was a bonus item? No complaints here!

Bam Box

Mindy Wheeler Print (Strange) – There were 3 possible prints – one of Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka, or this Doctor Strange print, or a rare Doctor Strange print with his eyes open and the 3rd eye closed.

Lastly, there was a possible “Instant Winner” of a signed, Stranger Things Hat replica. I wasn’t bummed about not getting it, as I haven’t started watching the show yet. Yes, it’s in my queue though.

Summary: This was a very fun box. I loved the pocket watch, Grimm variant, and Doctor Strange print. It makes up for last month’s disappointments. I wish I was already up on Stranger Things, but I’ll get there soon enough.

Next month’s theme is: Watching!

Blu-Ray Spotlight: Beauty and the Beast 25th Anniversary Edition

Beauty and the Beast: 25th Anniversary Edition – (BD+DVD+DIGITAL HD)

About the Release:
Twenty-five years ago, Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” broke ground as the first animated feature film to receive an Academy Award® nomination for best picture. The beloved classic won two Oscars®, including best song and best original score, as well as a Golden Globe Award® for best comedy/musical. Now a whole new generation of viewers will follow the magical journey of Belle, an independent and intelligent, modern-day heroine who is taken prisoner by a beast in his castle. Despite her precarious situation, Belle befriends the castle’s enchanted staff—a teapot, a candelabra and a mantel clock, among others—and ultimately learns to see beneath the Beast’s exterior to discover the heart and soul of a prince.

The Walt Disney Signature Collection edition features four versions of “Beauty and the Beast,” including a never-before-released on home entertainment, sing-along version. A host of all-new bonus extras include a rare opportunity to gather around the piano with some of Disney’s greatest composers, as they sing and share how they’ve personally been inspired by the film’s award-winning music; a look at how Walt Disney himself sought to adapt this famous fairytale; a nostalgic look back with Paige O’Hara, the voice of Belle; behind-the-scenes access into the recording booth with the cast; and a sneak peek at Disney’s upcoming live-action re-telling of “Beauty and the Beast,” arriving in theaters in 2017.

The Recording Sessions:

The Missing Link:

As a book lover, Beauty and the Beast has always been one of my all-time favorite Disney films. The songs are wonderful and voice-work is fantastic. I can’t believe it’s 25 years old! This special edition is packed with bonus content and behind-the-scenes features. There is so much included, that I haven’t made it through everything yet, but I’m definitely impressed with the amount and quality of extra content. And I don’t think I’ve seen the film since it was on DVD, so the quality on Blu-ray is stunning. I will definitely be watching the fun, sing-a-long version with my nieces and nephew as well. And the sneak peek of the upcoming live-action version has made me even more excited to see it next year.

Book Giveaway: Gemina

Courtesy of Alfred A Knopf Books for Young Readers, I have a copy of Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff for one (1) lucky winner!

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends October 21. I’ll draw a name on October 22, and notify winner via email.


Good luck!

Continue reading Book Giveaway: Gemina

Fantasy Book Review: Mysteries of Cove Book 2, Gears of Revolution

book tour

Mysteries of Cove: Gears of Revolution by J. Scott Savage

After finding a compass and clues left by Kallista’s father, Leo Babbage, Trenton and Kallista head west aboard their homemade mechanical dragon to search for the missing inventor. The two teenagers hope to find answers about their mountain city of Cove, but instead, they find only a blackened forest, ruined buildings, and a small underground city. Almost immediately, Trenton and Kallista are caught up in a civil war between a clan of scavengers called Whipjacks and the Order of the Beast, people who believe that dragons are immortal and divine.

Stranded in a new city, the two friends meet Plucky, a Whipjack girl with mechanical legs, and Ander, a young member of the Order who claims humans are able to communicate with dragons. Can they trust anyone, or have they unknowingly stepped into a trap?
And high above in the sky, the dragons are gathering .

While searching for Leo Babbage, Trenton and Kallista are shot down and land in a complex colony of survivors. Part of the population idolizes dragons, but others to want to help Trenton and Kallista fix their dragon in exchange for helping them with weapons.

Gears of Revolution is an exciting sequel with plenty of mystery, intrigue, and danger. This is a fantastic, steampunk adventure series for middle readers on up. And this 2nd installment is just as suspenseful and dramatic as the first. We learn a bit more about the dragons, and Earth’s history in this book – and I’m looking forward to (hopefully!) reading more in future installments. This is a talented middle grade author who has developed a fascinating world of steampunk and dragons.

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