Indie Spotlight – Gabrielle Gagne-Cyr

Today on my blog I am delighted to be joined by Gabrielle Gagne-Cyr.

Gabrielle Gagne-Cyr, author of The Theurgy of the Gods series, is a French Canadian who studied Digital Video Production and Psychology at Concordia University in Montreal.

After working a few years as a counsellor at a youth centre, she somehow decided that writing on the sidelines would be as good a career (though her dream job would be sky pirate—a nice one obviously). 

In the meantime, she reads and writes, walks her badass German Shepherd and plays video games (Team PlayStation). And playing swords is no childish affair, friends; grown-ass adults love it too. This one certainly does.

Netflix also happens.

Oh and tattoos. Lots of tattoos.

Twitter | Facebook | Website | Instagram


What made you decide to publish your book independently? What was your path to publication?

I’ve always had a passion for imagination. Brushing my teeth is boring, but doing it while inventing stories makes for a kick-ass brushing session. 

I pretty much stumbled (literally) into writing. A few years back, I sprained my groin (see what I meant?) and was stuck at home for a couple of weeks. I decided to write my favorite story in order to pass time (I’d already imagined hundreds of them by then).

It took shape and became a 360 000+ words super novel. Naturally, there was a lot of editing done afterwards and I had to split the book in two.  

I knew nothing about publishing. 

I’m a curious person (and a perfectionist), you wouldn’t guess the number of researches I’ve made to self-educate myself in the last year. 

After a couple of “traditional publishing vs self-publishing” intense search sessions, I knew enough to know which option suited me best.

*Copyright iz allll mine? Check

*Higher royalties? Check

*No waiting list or agent search? Check 

*Immediate publishing vs a couple (if not more) years? Check

*Creative freedom? Check

OK that meant I had a ****load of marketing to do I’m my own.

Do you know what my first word ever was? (After mommy and daddy of course)

Able (“Capable” in french)

#Truestory

I’m a firm believer that when you put all of yourself into a project, something will come out of it. 

I don’t know what exactly. But something will.

Good enough for me.

What made you decide to write in your specific genre rather than other genres? Have you ever written in other genres?

I love all things fantasy. There’s something about escaping into another world, a world where everything is possible. When I delve into those realms, I become a part of them. 

Makes this one appear bland in comparison.

Sure, I can see myself writing in other genres. Sci-Fi maybe, or romance. I’ve a passion for impossible love stories. You know, the ones where everything gets in the way of the characters’ demonstration of love.

Do you only read the genre that you write? 

I mostly read all things fantasy (though I’m also a sucker for F/F romance novel). I also like a good crime/adventure book once and a while. 

What are you currently reading? Watching on TV? Is there a type of music you listen to for inspiration?

I’m currently about to begin “A Court of Thorn and Roses” by Sarah J. Maas on Audible. Seems terrific.

As for inspirational music, anything from Two Steps From Hell, Hans Zimmer, epic soundtracks and other movie composers. 

Any advice for aspiring authors?

It’s a shark tank out there. If you’re willing to do the work, you can make it. Writing is the easy part, editing and marketing are the hardest (and take just as much time as writing, if not more).

Spend some time with character development. Make their actions coherent with their personalities.

#Showdon’ttell

Be passionate. Be in love with your story.

What are you working on right now and what can we look forward to seeing from you next?

The second instalment of “The Theurgy of the Gods” series.

In the future? Who knows. I’ve so many stories I could write about. Maybe I’ll ask my readers which one they’d like to read.

Thank you so much for taking part in the Indie Spotlight, Gabrielle! I wish you lots of luck with your duology!


A Flight in the Heavens (The Theurgy of the Gods Book 1)

A Flight in the Heavens is the first novel in an epic two tomes fantasy series from author, Gabrielle Gagne-Cyr.

“I see you my little moppets.”

The king is dead, long live his murderer.

After fifteen years of passive torment, Farrah and her implacable group of renegades endeavour to alter their fates by attempting to assassinate the man who stole everything from them, Daemon Daromas.
Alas, he who wields the theurgy of the gods has no rivals in the lands of Iscar but those foolish enough to challenge their wrath.

When confronted by this ancient and destructive force, the renegades have no choice but to flee the capital and embark on the airship of Iscar’s most notorious sky corsair Captain Feras Sadahl, daughter of the late pirate sovereign.
Their meeting with the corsair, however, might not have been as welcome as they would have hoped.

As Farrah and her allies set out on a journey to find the means to challenge their oppressor, they soon discover that the price of power is steep and the road to get one’s hands on it, perilous.

Add to Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/book/show/57497547

Buy here: www.amazon.com/Flight-Heavens-Theurgy-Gods-Book-ebook/dp/B08ZQV1HJ5


Who is next on Indie Spotlight?

Simon Michael Prior insists on inflicting all aspects of life on himself so that his readers can enjoy learning about his latest trip/experience/disaster/emotional breakdown (insert phrase of your choice).

During his extended adolescence, now over forty years long, he has lived on two boats and sunk one of them; sold houses, street signs, Indian food and paper bags for a living; visited almost fifty countries and lived in three; qualified as a scuba diving instructor; nearly killed himself learning to wakeboard; trained as a search and rescue skipper with the Coast Guard, and built his own house without the benefit of an instruction manual.


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Illustration Showcase – Sairō’s Claw by Virginia McClain

Today I am excited to be sharing some illustrations of the main characters in Sairō’s Claw by Virginia McClain.

Book Description

An action-adventure fantasy romp featuring sword lesbians, sea battles, and a grumpy wolf spirit.

Torako has done many things to protect the valley that she calls home, but she’s never looted a corpse before. So when the katana she steals off the still-cooling body of a bandit turns out to be possessed by a grumpy wolf kami, she can only assume it’s because she’s somehow angered the spirits. An impression that’s only reinforced when she returns home to find her wife abducted and her daughter in hiding. But angry spirits or no, Torako isn’t about to let bandits run off with the love of her life, even if it means taking their 3 year old on a rescue mission.

In all Kaiyo’s years as Captain of the Wind Serpent she has never once questioned her admiral’s orders. So when she receives the command to abduct a civilian scribe with the help of fifteen felons, she registers her objections, but does as she is bid. Yet, as the mission unfolds, Kaiyo finds herself questioning everything from her loyalties to her convictions.

As Torako and Kaiyo’s fates cross like dueling blades, their persistence is matched only by their fury, until they uncover a series of truths they may never be ready to accept.

Goodreads | Amazon | Bookshop (Hardcover) | Bookshop (Paperback) | My Review


Sairō

Meet Sairō! The grumpiest wolf spirit ever trapped in a katana! Then again they might be the only wolf spirit trapped in a katana, so perhaps that’s not the best standard to measure by.

“If they meant her no harm why would they have taken her at all? People don’t steal other people away against their will for a friendly conversation after which they let them on their way. They must need her for something but I can’t imagine they plan to simply return her once they’ve got what they wanted.”
Sairō’s silence was telling.
Torako cradled Itachi closer for a moment.
“Thank you for keeping her safe,” she said, without looking at the giant wolf.
“Hmph, don’t expect me to play childminder every time you plan to throw yourself in harm’s way. Small humans only get underfoot.”
Torako buried her face in Itachi’s hair to hide the grin that she couldn’t keep from her face.
“She likes you, you know,” Torako prodded.
Sairō snorted.
“She can like me all she wishes, it won’t be mutual.”
“I thought wolves were natural care takers.”
“Wolves naturally take care of their own young.”
“Human children aren’t that different from wolf pups.”
“Human children are cats without dignity.”
“Does that mean you’re fond of cats too?”
Sairō’s growl was loud enough to wake Itachi.


Itachi

Meet Itachi, Torako’s daughter. She is always trying to help, even if her parents might prefer it if she didn’t.

“Kaa-san, what’s wrong?”
For a moment, Kaa-san said nothing, and didn’t even turn towards Itachi. Itachi frowned and was about to ask again, when her mother spoke.
“I’m just a bit worried about your mama, that’s all.”
Itachi thought that was odd, since Mama was sometimes was gone for days and days without Kaa-san worrying about her and right now she had only been gone since just before sunset.
“Why?”
Kaa-san finally turned back to Itachi and smiled.
“No reason. I’m sure she’s fine. Let’s eat supper, ne?”
Itachi knew that her mother was lying. She also knew it was the lie her parents most often told her. It was the most confusing lie because it was always true. Every time her mother or mama told her things were fine it was true. But almost every time they said that things were fine, her kisō told her they were lying. She still didn’t understand how it was possible, and when she’d asked Yanagi-sensei about it once, his answer hadn’t helped.
“Ah. It is the lie that parents always hope will be true, and most of the time, it is true. But often, at the time they say it, they don’t believe the words themselves,” Yanagi-sensei had explained.
Itachi thought grown ups were silly sometimes, and tree spirits too, for that matter.


Raku

Raku: Meet Raku! Scribe, storyteller, and sometimes spy. She’s also Itachi’s other mother.

“I didn’t mean—“
“Didn’t you?” Raku thought the drugs must still be addling her mind. This was the opposite of her usual strategy. She survived by convincing the world she wasn’t a threat, by hiding in plain sight, by letting them make assumptions about everything from her brightly colored kimono, to her decorative hair styles, from her petite form, to her dazzling smiles. She was a walking contradiction, but almost no one ever found the sharp edged truth of her. Whatever drugs they had given her had stripped away her defenses, and now she was all sharp edges and pointy truths.


Torako

Meet Torako! Defender of Sōryū Valley, she will fight with everything she has to protect her family and her people.

“We don’t have to do this,” Torako tried again. “You could all still walk away from this. I just want to make sure that you’re not here to cause trouble for—” 
But then the man standing in front of her shifted his gaze to something over Torako’s shoulder, and he raised his dagger in preparation for a throw.
Itachi!!! Torako’s mind screamed. She moved before she could think.
One moment the man stood before her poised to throw a knife, the next he was falling lifeless to the ground as blood poured from his opened neck. She heard the thunk of metal hitting rock as his knife missed its mark. 
Torako still held the base of her walking staff in her left hand, but her right now held the katana she’d pulled from it, still dripping the blood of the man who had tried to throw a dagger at her daughter. 
From there everything was chaos. 
The familiar tingle of a fire kisō calling flame to life brought her attention into the sharp focus of battle that made the rest of the world fall away. She dropped the staff sheath for her katana and rolled forward, her mind focused on bringing the attacks and attention away from the boulders that hid Itachi’s small form. She had to trust that Itachi would hide properly. There was no room for anything else in the wild dance that Torako was now committed to.
The fire came at her in a steady stream, which she just barely stayed ahead of. She could hear the rustling of a wind kisōshi as well, but she focused on the fire, rolling twice more to bring herself right up under the kisōshi’s legs. She reached out and grabbed his ankle briefly with her left hand, then slashed up with her blade in a single fluid move as her legs came up under her. The man died looking startled, as most kisōshi did after she got close enough to touch them.


Kaiyo

Meet Kaiyo! Captain of the Wind Serpent, she is very happy to stab anyone who gets in her way, but would die for any member of her crew.

“Good day, gentlemen,” Kaiyo said, as everyone involved stopped what they were doing. The two men whose windpipes she currently held, with enough pressure to make it clear she could crush them before they could do anything to stop her, glared sullenly in her direction and she did her best not to smile. 
“There seems to be a misunderstanding,” she said, now that she had their attention. 
“Chito-san took my—” 
“Ah, ah,” Kaiyo interrupted, keeping her voice light. “You mistake my meaning. I don’t give a rat’s shit about what you think the misunderstanding between you is. The misunderstanding that you should concern yourself with is the one that made you think it was acceptable to brawl in the middle of my deck. You are here by my invitation. If I decide you are no longer worthy of the invitation, I will feed you to the sea. Is that understood?”
The man whose life she held in her right hand nodded.
The man on the left said, “Little bitch, what makes you think you can—”
Whatever else the man planned to say was cut off with the crushing of his windpipe. He collapsed at Kaiyo’s feet, making the horrible noise of someone who can no longer pull air into their lungs.
“Is that understood?” she asked the remaining men.
Murmurs of “Yes, Captain,” and vigorous nodding surrounded her.


About the Illustrator

Amy Gerardy is an illustrator and game developer. She usually has a variety of projects on the go, from making prints and books to marketing materials and art assets for games. She frequently forgets that her tea is still steeping. Find her here: https://www.artstation.com/amymja


About the Author

Virginia McClain is an author who masqueraded as a language teacher for a decade or so. When she’s not reading or writing she can generally be found playing outside with her four legged adventure buddy and the tiny human she helped to build from scratch. She enjoys climbing to the top of tall rocks, running through deserts, mountains, and woodlands, and carrying a foldable home on her back whenever she gets a chance. She’s also fond of word games, and writing descriptions of herself that are needlessly vague.

Website  | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook


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What Remains – An Anthology by Inked in Gray

If you’re not into warm and fuzzy beach reads, What Remains is a great book for you this Summer! Guaranteed to bring a chill to your hot days!

What Remains

What Remains: An Anthology by Inked in Gray

Publication Date: July 26th, 2021

Genre: Anthology/ Short Stories/ Fantasy/ Sci-Fi/ Horror

Publisher: Inked in Gray

Victory at all costs. Even at the price of our own life, the desire to survive transcends all rational thought.

What Remains brings together fifteen tales of horror, fantasy, and science fiction. From sacrificing loved ones or oneself, to doing what it takes to keep them alive, these stories shake the soul, rip out its insecurities and flay them on the page.

Careful who you trust. Some quandaries have no right answer when we cannot save what we love most—or when isolation, desperation, and betrayal leave you no choice.

Take the journey with us to see What Remains when civility, decency, and sanity have all but fled.

Add to Goodreads

Available on Amazon!


An Excerpt of Among Tall Trees by Damir Salkovic

The young boy races for the ridge, a good twenty feet ahead of Jeff. With every painful breath, the distance between them grows. If the boy wanted to, he could already be out of his sight, halfway up the mountain that rises ahead of them, a blue-gray bulk topped with first snow, deep into the thick evergreens. But the child is holding back, glancing over his shoulder every now and then without missing a beat, without interrupting the purposeful elegance of his stride.

Save yourself. Go.

Jeff shouts none of this to the boy, whose thin arms are pumping up and down, skinny legs effortlessly swallowing the punishing grade of the mountain as if unfettered by gravity. Jeff is too busy wheezing, hauling in lungfuls of frosty air, trying to hear his own frenetic thoughts over the pounding of his out-of-shape heart and the tidal roar of blood in his ears. Trying to keep his burning lungs from falling out and keep his feet, clumsy in heavy boots, trudging one in front of the other. Every misstep, every stumble and pause for breath, erodes their already thin lead on the men who hunt them.

They are slow, too, these others: some weighed down with age, like Judge Crenshaw, who is eighty if a day. Some by sloth and neglect, like Big Mike Bragg, who weighs well north of three hundred pounds. Fear herds them together, and a mob is only as fast as its slowest man. But determination drives them, a remorseless singularity of purpose. 

Although Jeff can’t see them, they aren’t far behind, marching through the leafless, scattered hardwoods down by the road, fanning out in a rough semicircle to cover as much killing ground as possible. So after a too-brief break, the boy catches Jeff’s eye—he has an uncanny way of looking up at just the right time, or somehow making Jeff do so—and flicks his head.

He doesn’t speak, but Jeff understands. Up. Up the mountain, into the pines. Their mad scramble resumes. Down here there are gaps in the treeline, patches of open ground between thickets and dense scrub, and open ground spells trouble.

Not that the boy seems concerned. Or what to all intents and purposes resembles a boy: a pale, scrawny slip of a kid, eight- or nine-years-old, maybe a small ten. Scabbed knees and elbows and bright green eyes, dirty blond hair cut in an unfashionable bowl around a pinched face. He bounds up the slope in easy strides, each as long as two of Jeff’s faltering steps, looking to the rest of the world—if there was anyone up here to see him—like any one of hundreds of identical, small-town American kids indulging in a bit of horseplay before going inside for dinner.

Except Jeff has seen those arms lock around Clyde Garver. Good old Clyde who Jeff had played high school football with and who fixed cars at Dan Laurie’s garage in town. The boy had grabbed Clyde and wrenched his head clean off his shoulders like a papier-mâché piñata, with no more effort than Jeff twisting a cap off a bottle of Miller High Life.

Except it’s late November in the Great Smoky Mountains. Snow weighs over the town like a judgement, but the boy’s wearing nothing but pants and a thin T-shirt and his feet are bare, and he’s giving no sign of feeling the cold.

Except the horseplay they’re indulging in will end in death. They can cheat it for a while, draw out the inevitable, but the men behind them aren’t about to give up. Good men, or so Jeff used to think. Men he’s known all his life—fathers and husbands and brothers. Men who piled into their trucks and four-wheel-drives without hesitation to hunt Jeff and the child. Men who are not going back down without their prize.

There’s only one end Jeff can see. But he keeps running, up toward the trees under the lowering sky.

Read my review of Damir Salkovic’s novel Always Beside You here


International Giveaway:

Prize: Paperback & Book Swag

Click here or on image below to enter


Authors:

R.A. Busby 

About the Author: An award-winning literature teacher and die-hard horror fan, R. A. Busby is also the author of “Bits” (Short Sharp Shocks #45), “Street View” (Collective Realms #2), “Not the Man I Married” (Black Petals #93), “Holes” (Graveyard Smash, Women of Horror Anthology, Vol. 2), and “Cactusland” (34 Orchard, forthcoming).

“I was always instructed to write about what I know,” she states, “and I know what scares me.”  In her spare time, R.A. Busby watches cheesy Gothic movies and goes running in the desert with her dog.

She can be found on Twitter and at RABusbybooks.weebly.com

David-Christopher Harris

About the Author: David-Christopher Harris’ fantasy publications include “Olam Ha-Ba” in speculative fiction and poetry magazine Arsenika, “Last Call”  in The Arcanist Magazine, “Falselight”  on PageHabit, and “Children of Ozymandias” in 50WordStories,  among others. He received his M.A. in Medieval Literature, which he uses exclusively to teach his cat Latin. He is currently querying.

He can be found on Twitter and at www.dcharriswriting.com

Andy Dibble

About the Author: Andy Dibble is a healthcare IT consultant who lives in Madison, Wisconsin. He has supported the electronic medical record of healthcare systems in six countries.  His work appears or is forthcoming in Writers of the Future, Star*Line, Sci Phi Journal, and others.  He is Articles Editor for Speculative North magazine.

He can be found on TwitterFacebook, and andydibble.com.

LT Ward 

About the Author: LT writes mostly speculative fiction shorts and novels while spending her days raising her children and satisfying her never-ending thirst for knowledge through reading, meeting people, and first-hand life experiences. She has short story publications with Dancing Lemur Press, Me First Magazine, Jazz House Press, and forthcoming with Black Hare Press and Cardigan Press. She currently volunteers with WriteHive, a nonprofit literary organization.

She can be found on TwitterInstagram, and at ltwardwriter.com.

Ben Armstrong

About the Author: Ben is a young author who has been writing stories for over six years now. Recently he has been published in his town’s newspaper.

Maxwell I Gold

About the Author: Maxwell I. Gold is a Rhysling Award nominated prose poet, focusing on weird and cosmic fiction. He is a regular contributor to Spectral Realms, edited by Lovecraft scholar S.T. Joshi and his work has also appeared in Weirdbook Magazine, Space and Time MagazineStartling StoriesBaffling Magazine, and many others.

His debut prose poetry collection, Oblivion in Flux: A Collection of Cyber Prose is forthcoming this August from Crystal Lake Publishing.

Maxwell can be found on Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, and at www.thewellsoftheweird.com

Damir Salkovic

About the Author: Damir Salkovic is the author of novels Kill Zone and Always Beside You. His shorter work has been featured in the Lovecraft eZine, Dimension6 Annual Collection 2020, and in multiple horror, science and speculative fiction anthologies.

Find him on Goodreads and at his blog, Darker Realities.

Lawrence West

About the Author: Lawrence J West has been on his writing journey since he was fourteen years old and has always been drawn to fantasy, sci-fi, and horror because of the way these genres allow for the exploration of human experience in unique ways. Since becoming a husband and father he has also found that his writing has a greater degree of empathy and insight.

Lawrence can be found on Twitter.

Sharon Frame Gay

About the Author: Sharon Frame Gay is an award winning author whose work has appeared in many anthologies and magazines, including Chicken Soup For The Soul, Typehouse, Fiction on the Web, Literally Stories, Lowestoft Chronicle, Thrice Fiction, Saddlebag Dispatches, Crannog, and others. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee.

A collection of her short stories, Song of the Highway, was released in August, 2020.

Sharon can be found on Twitter and Amazon.

Timothy Johnson

About the Author: Timothy Johnson is a writer and editor living outside of Washington, D.C. His published work includes the novels The Pillars of Dawn and Carrier as well as short fiction appearing in various professional and semi-professional markets. He is an MFA candidate in George Mason University’s creative writing program and an affiliate member of the HWA.

Find Timothy on Twitter and at timothyjohnsonfiction.com.

DL Shirey

About the Author: DL Shirey lives in Portland, Oregon, where it’s probably raining. Luckily, water is beer’s primary ingredient. His stories and non-fiction appear in 60 publications, including Confingo, Page & Spine, Zetetic and Wild Musette.

You can find more of DL Shirey on Twitter and at www.dlshirey.com.

Dan Eveloff

About the Author: Dan Eveloff is a lawyer and sports agent living in Chicago, Illinois with his dog, Reuben. He studied accounting at the University of Kansas, and subsequently earned his law degree from Northwestern University. His short fiction “The Price of Recompense” has appeared in AHF Magazine, “Shakespearean Justice” in Aphelion Webzine, and “Prevenge” can be found in Close to the Bone Magazine.

His social media presence can be found on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter 

Valerie Hunter

About the Author: Valerie Hunter teaches high school English and has an MFA in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her stories and poems have appeared in publications including Cicada, Storyteller, Edison Literary ReviewOther VoicesRoom, and Wizards in Space.

Find Valerie on Instagram.

Nicholas Barner

About the Author: Nicholas Barner has farmed, cooked, and written variously in Oakland, Chicago, Maine, and Los Angeles. He lives with his partner, Shelby, and their Dog, Nuni.

He can be found online at nicholasbarner.com.

Thomas Canfield

About the Author: Thomas Canfield lives in the mountains of North Carolina. His phobias run to politicians, lawyers and TV pitchmen. He is still trying to plumb the logic of the sales pitch; The more you buy, the more you save. It never quite seems to work out that way in the real world. Canfield occasionally reviews books on Goodreads.

 


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From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic – Let’s Talk Mistborn!

My article on magic in the Mistborn books by Brandon Sanderson – written for a series hosted by Witty and Sarcastic Book Club earlier this year.

Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub

We’ve been discussing magic systems in fantasy books this week. There are so many different kinds of systems, some a little closer to the “classic” magic system found in earlier books, and others that are completely different.

Today, Sue from the fantastic blog Sue’s Musings, gives a wonderfully laid-out explanation of the magic system in Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series. You really can’t have a discussion on different magic systems in fantasy without mentioning Sanderson’s incredibly detailed and well-thought out addition to the genre.

Sue:

In Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn books there are three types of magic: Allomancy, Ferruchemy and Hemalurgy, with Allomancy being the most prevalent. The thing I like the most about the Allomancy system is that it makes physical sense. It is governed by the laws of physics, if a “pushing” or “pulling” force is applied to something by an Allomancer, there will be an equal and opposite…

View original post 2,742 more words

Self-published Authors Appreciation Week – 4 Rascally Rogues of Writing

I featured some feisty female fantasy authors on Day 5 of Self-published Authors Appreciation Week, so now on Day 7 its the turn of some male authors. I hope nobody takes offence at being called a rascally rogue – it was the best collective alliteration I could come up with!!

These are all authors from whom I have read and reviewed one book, although they have written many more. Check out their goodreads pages for more information on their other books. There are a mix of genres here:

Dylan J. Morgan

Now living and working in Norway, Dylan J. Morgan was born in New Zealand and raised in the United Kingdom. He writes during those rare quiet moments amid a hectic family life: after dark, with limited sustenance, and when his creative essence is plagued the most by tormented visions.

A member of the Horror Writers Association, he has published 8 books, all available on Amazon.


Most of Dylan’s books are horror stories, but I read and reviewed his Sci-Fi novella, October Rain. I thoroughly enjoyed it and plan to read more of Dylan’s books. Check out his goodreads page for information on his other books.

October Rain

The human race teeters on the brink of extinction in a solar system choking under the glare of a dying sun. An assassin for the Martian Interstellar Correction Agency, Steele has one more assignment to complete before a big payoff and the chance of a new life: a job that will reveal the true horrors of man’s futile existence and threaten the very people who make his life worth living.

As mankind draws its final breath, what would you do to save your family?

My review | Amazon | goodreads


John F. Leonard

John messes around with words for a living. He was born in England and grew up in the industrial Midlands. That was where he learned to love scrawny cats, the sound of scrapyard dogs and the rattle and clank of passing trains.

His official education mostly involved English, Art and History. Everything else came later. The employment record is somewhat difficult to summarise. Chequered is probably a good word for it. Shop worker and office boy, sculptor and odd-job man, fraud investigator and thief. It’s all the same, when you boil it down. Pay your way and try to have a good day.

He enjoys apocalyptic stuff, horror, comedy and football (not necessarily together). A family man, John now lives a few miles from the old Victorian house in which he was born. Scribbling scary stories seems to keep him vaguely sane (accurate at time of writing). Current projects include more tales from the Dead Boxes Archive, another everyday cosmic horror novel from the Scaeth Mythos, and new books set in the post-apocalyptic world of Collapse.


I read John’s horror anthology The Dead Boxes Archive. For information about his other titles checkout his goodreads page.

The Dead Boxes Archive

The Dead Boxes Archive is a chilling collection of short horror stories and horror novellas. Together for the first time in one volume, seven tales from the critically acclaimed Dead Boxes series.

Dead Boxes are scary things. Wonderful and dreadful secrets hiding themselves in plain view.
On the surface, they often appear to be ordinary, everyday objects. Items which are easily overlooked at first glance. Perhaps that’s just as well because the Dead Boxes are as far from ordinary and everyday as you can get. They hold miracle and mystery, horror and salvation, answers to questions best not asked and directions to places better left unfound.

This collection offers an insight into some of these delightfully eerie articles. A stunning omnibus of old school inspired horror, the brooding and ominous variety. Not to say that there isn’t a little gore and gruesome in the mix. But one of the beauties of horror is that it comes in many forms. Blood and guts don’t need to be stars of the show for a story to be dark and disturbing. Something that will stay with you long after the reading is done.

There are five tales that are available to buy as individual books and two more with limited availability. The exceptional Linger is previously only published in the charity horror anthology, Diabolica Britannica. The Screaming Mike Hawkins Story is new for this collection.

Our diabolical banquet opens with Call Drops, a deliciously dark look at second hand shops, car boots and the infernal treasures which sometimes lurk within them. It might give you pause for thought about our ever-increasing reliance on the ubiquitous mobile phone.
“10 out of 5 stars” – Erik Henry Vick, author of Demon King.

Next up is the rather beautiful and deceptively innocent Doggem. In many ways, this short story defies description. It’s about a toy dog and school days and so much more. Ordinary families with folklore legacy, mundane existence amidst vaguely mythical settings, witchcraft and the supernatural. All mixed with apocalyptic undertones.
“The Velveteen Rabbit meets Rosemary’s Baby” – Barb Taub, author of Do Not Wash Hands In Plates.

A Plague of Pages is a nightmarishly enjoyable look at the perils of writing fiction. Betrayal, revenge and instruments of ultimate evil are blended into a mesmerising and horrific cocktail. Written well before the terrible events of 2020, it also touches upon historic pandemics and the prospect of present day apocalypse.
“ a wonderfully creepy read” – Gingernuts of Horror, premier UK horror review site.

Night Service is a tale of travel and terror that quickly gets up to speed and then doesn’t slow down until the haunting finale. A warning for all the night owls out there who use those last dance, last chance darktime buses. It can sometimes be a helluva ride!
“ flies by …excitement, chases, tension and bloody gore galore” – Char, leading Horror Aficionado and Vine Voice.

The ghostly Burntbridge Boys might initially appear to be about professional football. Don’t be deceived. When a Dead Box is involved, fraud and corruption in sport are only the tip of a demonic iceberg that spans dimensions and stretches into the dim and distant past.
“Sammy’s meeting with Burntbridge’s Chairman Millicent is stunningly good” – Terry Tyler, author of The Devil You Know.

The spooky old house, a gothic horror staple, gets a fresh lick of paint in Linger. Inheriting lots of money and a gothic mansion from a father you never knew sounds like some sort of dream come true. This revisit breathes new life into a horror classic.
” the Gothic …concentrated to its essence, with the richness this implies ” – Ramsey Campbell, British Horror Legend.

We conclude with The Screaming Mike Hawkins Story, a darkly inventive final twist from a mind filled with bleak and creative twists. Part author’s note, part biography, the shadowy career of Michael Hawkins is a mystery wrapped in more than one conundrum.

My Review | Amazon | goodreads


Anthony Lavisher

Ant the Aero

Since reading The Lord of the Rings at an early age, and later, the works of his favourite author, David Gemmell, Anthony has been inspired to write his own stories.

When he is not forging tales and filling blank pages, Anthony spends his time working in his local library, reading, board gaming and enjoying adventures of his own.

Anthony lives in Wales with his wife Amy and Mertle the cat. The author of ‘The Storm Trilogy’ a thrilling medieval fantasy trilogy, he recently released his fourth novel ‘The Last Tiger’.


I read and reviewed Anthony’s latest thriller, The Last Tiger – for information about his fantasy books, check out his goodreads page.

The Last Tiger

Jon Galnia is a husband, a father, a Mafia Don, a man who believes that Fate and Destiny are two sides of the same fickle coin. Rich beyond his wildest dreams, his inherited empire expands beyond America, far beyond the streets of his bloody playground, currently far beyond the reach of the authorities desperate to pin even a traffic violation on him.

Fate is about to intervene.

Plucked from the sky by those who hate him, or perhaps by those who want what he has, Jon’s private jet crashes in central India, sabotaged by fate, though, perhaps, guided by destiny. Unbeknownst to him, Jon is about to play a daring hand in an even bigger power struggle, one that will shock the world and, perhaps more importantly, the self-centred, ruthless Don.

A tale of corruption, of adventure and heroism, The Last Tiger is a thrilling tale of one man’s quest for survival and his uncertain hand on the pages of history.

My Review | Amazon | goodreads


Alex S. Bradshaw

Alex S. Bradshaw grew up in Kent in the UK and spent much of his childhood hiding (sometimes under tables) and reading a book.

He has always been a fan of epic stories (as well as dinosaurs and cake) so it came as no surprise to anyone that he went on to study Classics and Ancient History at university.

Now Alex has turned his hand to making epic stories of his own.


I read and reviewed Alex’s debut novel Windborn, an epic Norse fantasy.

Windborn

Drowning is only the beginning…

Edda Gretasdottir is a raider, a fell-handed shield-maiden, feared along every coast. Hers is a life woven in battle scars.

But she never wanted to walk the warrior’s path. All she wanted was freedom, to earn enough gold to buy her family their own remote farm, and to escape their oppressive chieftain. Now, she has enough plunder so that she can finally hang up her shield and live in peace.

That peace is stolen from Edda, however, when raiders burn her home, destroy all that she loves, and toss her, wounded and bleeding, into the ravenous ocean.

But the fates are cruel and this is not the end for Edda: she rises from the bloody surf as a Windborn, a cursed warrior whose supernatural gifts are a poor exchange for everything she has lost.

Fuelled by rage and armed with strange new powers Edda will hunt for whoever sent the raiders, for whoever is responsible for taking everything from her. She will show them the sharp edge of her axe… or die trying.

Windborn is a dark, character-driven Norse fantasy packed with emotion, deadly foes, and vicious battles.

My Review | Amazon | goodreads


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Kings and Daemons by Marcus Lee

Today I am revisiting an older review of Kings and Daemons by Marcus Lee to include my honest views on the new audiobook, which I was kindly sent by The Write Reads for this blog tour. Thank you to Dave and Ellie for sending me a copy.

Book Description

What the gods give with one hand, they take away with the other, for if you are gifted, you shall also be cursed.

Over fifty years have passed since Daleth the seemingly immortal Witch-King, and his army conquered the Ember Kingdom.

Now, with the once fertile lands and its enslaved people dying around him, the Witch-King, driven by his insatiable thirst for eternal youth, prepares his forces to march on the prosperous neighbouring Freestates. It will be the beginnings of a conquest that could destroy nations, bringing death and destruction on an unimaginable scale.

Then, when a peasant huntress whose rare gift was concealed from birth is exposed, it sets in motion a chain of events that could alter the destiny of generations to come.

Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Page Count: 416
Age Group: YA / Adult

Audible sample | goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon US


My Review

About the audiobook:

5/5 stars for the narration
I really enjoyed Alexander Keys’ narration of this audiobook. He has a great dramatic voice for fantasy and puts plenty of personality into the different characters’ voices. The Witch King’s voice had a slightly pantomimey villain feel to it which I really liked. The female main character, Maya, sounded just feminine enough, as did the other, secondary female characters. The action sequences were imbued with plenty of tension and excitement.

My personal preference for British accents when listening to fantasy was fully satisfied. I think this preference stems from the fact that my internal voice when I am reading has a British accent and it just feels right to me somehow. I always find myself getting distracted when the voice has an American accent, so this was not the case at all with Kings and Daemons.

Alexander Keys has become one of my favourite audiobook narrators and I will be looking out for books read by him in the future.


Listen to a sample | Buy audiobook


My Review of the story:

4/5 stars read on Kindle

Kings and Daemons is a character driven dark fantasy set in a world devastated by one of the Kings from the title, Daleth the Witch King, who gains strength and longevity through sucking the life out of the lands and people he conquers. 

Each of the characters we meet in this story is fully fleshed out and we are given their back stories and feel like we know them and understand their motives, however dark.

Daleth is pure evil, a typical fantasy villain and yet when we hear of his childhood backstory we maybe even feel a little sympathy for him. He collects people with magical gifts and either puts them to use in his evil campaign to overrun as many lands as possible, or has them killed. He himself has the gift of spirit walking; he is able to travel the spirit pathways while sleeping and visit anywhere he has previously set foot to spy on his lands. He is also able to spirit talk to his overseers miles away from him and keeps receiving the prophetic message ‘Kalas is coming’ without knowing who or what Kalas is.

Daleth’s army are ruthless and relentless, all compassion and empathy taken from them the minute they are given an amulet which denotes their allegiance to the Witch King and contains a small piece of ‘soul stone’:

“These stones deadened the soul, enhancing base emotions such as hatred and cruelty while suppressing others such as kindness or remorse, making whosoever wore them ruthless and cold.”

Marcus Lee

Maya is a peasant girl, gifted with magical healing abilities. She can create gardens and bring forth life where only dust and dirt has been before. She is also able to spirit walk and visit others in her sleep. The Witch King is aware of these gifts since she visited him in her sleep and he saw her. Now he wants her captured and brought to him. 

Daleth sucks the life from the land by conquering it. As such he is the opposite of Maya, who brings forth life everywhere she goes. He had hoped to be able to use her gift so she could replenish lands he drained and then he could sustain himself from those lands once more, but he finds he is unable to drain lands she has brought back to life. She therefore becomes useless to him and he decides she must die.

Rakan is a captain in the Witch King’s army and therefore a merciless killer. He made Taran a corporal to save his life.

“Rakan’s eyes looked misty, ‘I can’t wait,’ he said, ‘I just can’t wait. The slaughter, the blood, the pleas for mercy, it makes you feel so alive!’ “

Marcus Lee

Over the course of the novel, however, Rakan’s character completely transforms. Once he stops wearing the amulet he becomes more human again and begins to see the error of his ways. He is now capable of empathy and becomes like a father to Taran by the end of the story. Taran and Maya’s love story is very sweet and a small ray of sunshine in a dark land. They give Rakan hope for the future, just as Maya spreads a trail of hope by her very footsteps in a land full of despair and sickness.

Taran is one of the heroes of this story and Maya’s love interest. He is gifted with the ability to read minds and tap into memories. He gets conscripted to the Witch King’s army by Rakan against his wishes. He never loses fights since, by using his gift, he can tell what his opponent’s next moves will be.

Taran is given the amulet which makes him bloodthirsty and uncaring. Luckily he recognizes its effects on him and removes the stone so he can continue wearing the amulet without having to suffer it’s effects.

Kalas is a very interesting character. He is possessed by one of the daemons of the title, as is Alano, his fellow soldier from fifty years ago.  They were each possessed by a minor daemon brought forth from the nine hells via a portal opened by King Anders’ magi in a bid to protect himself and his legion of elite royal guard against the invading armies:

The magi had believed they would gain the strength of the hell-born, the speed, the inexhaustible stamina and they were right, but they hadn’t known that they would share their minds, their thoughts and that the daemons would try to twist them to their wills and ways.

Marcus Lee

Kalas receives renewed youth and strength after feeding on soldiers from the Witch King’s army, who murdered his wife and child. He struggles to keep the daemon under control now it has been reawakened after 50 years laying dormant. He is driven to fulfill the vow he made all those years ago, to kill the Witch King, or die trying, but now there are a hundred thousand soldiers on the Witch King’s side, getting ready to invade the Freestates. 

The scenes with the daemons, driven only by bloodlust and hunger to kill are very dark and filled with gore and could just as easily belong in the horror fiction genre.

Marcus Lee is talented at describing his locations so that you can see them before you. From the opulence of the Freestates reigned over by King Tristan, to the sick and dying lands reigned over by the Witch King and the wonderful areas of beauty and regrowth brought about by Maya’s gift, everything is richly depicted and easily visualised.

Long banners and tapestries hung on the walls, depicting not famous battles or heroic deaths, but rather the god of greed. Gold and jewels dripped from between his fingers, raining down upon the Freestates in approval of their pursuit of wealth, the noblest pursuit of them all.

Marcus Lee

As can be expected in a tale of Kings, there are also plenty of political machinations in this book which lend depth and intrigue to the story. Anthrain is Tristan’s bodyguard, yet he plans to overthrow Tristan and become king instead. 

Oh and did I mention, there are also giants! The elder of the giants sums up the premise for the trilogy’s title The Gifted and the Cursed nicely in the following exchange with Taran:

Everyone who is gifted, young Taran, is also cursed. Mark my words. Look to your chosen one beside you. When she uses her gift to heal others, she ages herself. This Daleth the Witch-King as you call him, lives for hundreds of years, yet has no heirs and likely suffers from being unable to sire children. Kalas, your new comrade, would seem to have been gifted with extraordinary speed and skill, but was then possessed by a daemon.

Marcus Lee via Elder Giant

I read the second half of the book in one day, which is quite a rare thing for me to do, but I was completely gripped. Most of the second half of the book seems to be leading up to an epic battle between the two Kings and their armies, so I am excited to see that in the next instalment, Tristan’s Folly, which I am very much looking forward to reading soon.


About the Author

Writing hasn’t always been my main hobby … but it has always been there, lurking in the shadows, serving me well when called upon.

As I look back over the years, I realise I was guilty of writing many short stories, as well as poetry, and I’d like to think, that even if they were never intended to be published, they were nonetheless warmly received by the intended recipients.

Then in 2019, I was inspired to write not just a short story, or poetry, but a book. Then, suddenly, one book turned into a trilogy and a labour of love, and it was a love I wanted to share with the world.

So, here we are. The pandemic that put my career in sport on hold also gave me the opportunity to lavish time on my alternative hobby, or if demand dictates my new career.

However, only you, the reader, will decide whether this trilogy which is still a work in progress, will be the first of many. I genuinely hope so.

Who knows, now these creatives juices are flowing, I might just keep on writing anyway.

Epic Fantasy has been my favourite genre since I first read The Odyssey and The Illiad by Homer as a seven-year-old. Now it’s my turn to see if I can bring another world to life in the imagination of others.

My website is www.marcusleebooks.com
You can contact me through my webpage with any feedback, on this, my debut book.


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Emma’s Fury by Linda Rainier

Today as part of Indie Authors Appreciation Week I am reviewing Emma’s Fury by Linda Rainier.


Book Description

After a brutal and unnatural death, Emma is reborn as a Fury, a descendant of the mythological deities who were tasked with the judgment of man. They are tasked with protecting the delicate balance between humans and the paranormal world. 

In the world of the Fury there is no room for the frivolity of human nature; no room for compassion or a need for love. To fall victim to such volatile emotions leads only to ruin and suffering. 

In the shadows, darkness rises, threatening to destroy the tightly controlled world of the Fury. Emma must survive an intricate web of deceit and betrayal as the questions mount. 

With the aid of her guardian, David, they must find a way to beat back the evil that threatens to devour them.   

Will her hope of finding her place in this world be dashed by the insurmountable odds? Can she control the overwhelming emotions which threaten to tear down her carefully constructed walls? 

Amazon US | Amazon UK | goodreads


My Review

I was sent a digital copy of Emma’s Fury by the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Linda!

Emma’s Fury is a modern dark fantasy set in Boston, MA. It is told from multiple points of view, in present tense, which, I have to admit, I struggled with. Present tense is my least favourite form of narration and definitely had some influence on my overall feel for the story, as I kept getting distracted by the tense. I loved the fact that it was set in Boston, since I live in the suburbs and could visualize the scenes in the city quite easily.

The main character of the story, Emma, is a Fury, a figure from Greek mythology acting as a kind of deadly law keeper amongst the other supernatural creatures of this world, including vampires, imps, satyrs, fairies a succubus and werewolves:

The Fury maintains order through terror and violence.

I enjoy mythology and any kinds of supernatural beings, so having both in this story was fantastic. A whole wealth of different creatures make their appearance as the plot goes on.

One of the strengths of the author’s writing was how naturally the conversations flowed. There were altercations with bullies, such as Celia and Moss, flirtatious conversations between Emma and David and kindhearted reassurance from Emma to the child Fury, Sarah. The emotional relationships between these violent creatures were well-described and at some times shocking – there is one particular BDSM sex scene between Celia and the god of Death, Thanatos, which was definitely not for the faint-hearted and which firmly took this book outside of the YA realm which is often associated with vampire and werewolf type stories (thank you Twilight!). There is also torture, child-killing and talk of rape.

I was somewhat put off by the large amount of background information conveyed at the beginning of the story. We are told all about the back story of the Fury and their protectors, the Gyges and all about their justice system. I found it all a bit much at once and would have preferred to have discovered this information little by little throughout the novel.

Legend states that when a woman dies an unnatural and violent death she may be reborn as a Fury and Emma has been a Fury for around 450 years following her brutal death at the hands of a vampire.

David has been assigned to Emma as her Gyges, or guardian. He is there to protect Emma by fighting magic with brute force. He’s been training for 75 years and grew up in Boston in the 1920s. Together, Emma and David act as a kind of supernatural detective duo which was an idea I loved.

If a Fury and Gyges engage in a romantic or sexual relationship the Fury is beaten and broken and the Gyges is killed. Guess what? Emma and David are starting to care for one another…but with stakes this high, will they be able to keep their feelings under control?

The three Mother Fury rule over the rest of the Fury, and one of them, Tatiana is particularly cold and calculating, – chilling in her lack of emotion, full of violence and hatred. I thoroughly enjoyed her nastiness. In her eyes the Law is black and white and no leniency should be given. Another Mother, Mei-Li, is more sympathetic and seems to genuinely care for Emma’s well-being.

Emma and David are sent to investigate the death of the leader of a werewolf pack and plenty of jaw-dropping action and mayhem ensues, leading to some terrifying consequences.

If you are a fan of adult vampire/werewolf stories, or stories inspired by mythology, then I would recommend you give Emma’s Fury a try!


About the Author

A kooky introverted New Englander with a fervent love of history and literature. I fell in love with storytelling at a very young age and am always looking to connect with others who love to read. Wife to an incredible man and momma of two fur-babies and amateur photographer. 

Twitter | Facebook


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Self-published Authors Appreciation Week – Carl Rackman

Today on Day 6 of Self-published Authors Appreciation Week I am bringing you a spotlight of another self-published author, whose books I read last year. So far I have read four out of five of his books. That is the largest number of self published books from any one author I have read (unless Shakespeare counts as self-published…). So that deserves a Spotlight.


Meet the Author:

Hi! I’m Carl Rackman, a British former airline pilot turned author. I spent my working life travelling the world and this has given me a keen interest in other people and cultures. I’ve drawn on my many experiences for my writing.

I write suspense thrillers with a grounded science-fiction theme. I like reading novels that feature atmospheric locales and I enjoy complex, absorbing storylines combined with rich, believable characters, so that’s the sort of fiction I write. I try to create immersive worlds for the reader to explore, and characters who are more than just vehicles for the story.

I come from a naval military background and have held a lifelong interest in military history and seafaring – all my books usually contain some of these elements!

Website | Twitter


Bring On The Books

IREX

In the harsh winter of December 1889, the sailing vessel Irex leaves Scotland, bound for Rio de Janeiro. She carries three thousand tons of pig iron and just three passengers for what should be a routine voyage. But Captain Will Hutton soon discovers that one of his passengers hides a horrifying secret that threatens the lives of everyone on board. As the Irex battles relentless storms, Hutton fights battles of his own as he becomes mired in the intrigues of his passengers.

When the Irex is wrecked off the Isle of Wight six weeks later, it falls to the county coroner, Frederick Blake, to unravel the events that overtook the doomed ship. He quickly runs into opposition – powerful forces within the British Establishment are working to spike his inquest. Locked in a conflict with the sinister agents sent to obstruct the investigation, he begins to discover that nothing aboard the Irex is what it first seemed, while the evil that stalked the ship now threatens anyone who seeks to expose it…

Irex is an atmospheric mystery, set in a rich Victorian world, packed with intrigue, twists and unforgettable characters — the gripping first novel by Carl Rackman.

Irex took the Silver Medal in the Historical Fiction category of the #RBRT 2017 Book Awards

Amazon | goodreads


Jonah

The war is almost over. But not yet.

At Okinawa, the US Navy destroyer Brownlee grimly prepares to battle a swarm of Japanese kamikazes suicide aircraft.

Mitch “Lucky” Kirkham, a young gunner on the Brownlee, wakes up miraculously unscathed after his crewmates are killed by a fearsome kamikaze strike. Bullied and resented amid accusations of cowardice and worse, Mitch re-boards his patched-up ship for the long voyage back to San Francisco. All he wants is to go home.

But far out in the boundless emptiness of the Pacific, a strange madness begins to seize the sailors on the Brownlee. Terror, hysteria and suicide torment the men amid sightings of ghosts and a terrifying monster that stalks the ship by night.

Mitch stumbles upon a possible explanation for the madness. But as the ship presses on alone, deeper into the vast Pacific Ocean and the grip of insanity, will anyone listen to him before his famous luck runs out for good?

Jonah is a searing, psychological suspense thriller, the latest from Carl Rackman, author of Irex and Voyager.

Amazon | goodreads | My Review of Jonah


Incendiary

‘She’s like nothing you’ve ever seen. She is beautiful – a perfect fusion of physical and mental supremacy. And she hasn’t been free for forty years. Who knows what she’ll do?’

Cambodia, 1970. A US Army platoon creeps through thick jungle searching for hidden North Vietnamese supplies. What they find instead is a terrifying creature from the darkest pages of ancient mythology.

Almost 50 years later, Dr Mel Villiers, a researcher at the UK’s top secret Porton Down research centre, shivers in the pre-dawn darkness by a remote dockside at Southampton, England. She awaits the delivery of a unique specimen from the Plum Island biological research facility in New York State. Only a handful of government scientists and spies even know it exists.

When contact with the transport ship is lost, an elite SBS unit led by Mel’s boyfriend, Captain Steve Warren, is sent aboard to investigate. They find an empty container and lots of dead bodies. Things get worse when he learns that the creature is still hiding somewhere aboard the ship. And its escape was no accident.

As time runs out, a frantic race is triggered to stop the deadly creature before it escapes captivity for good. The very future of humanity as the dominant lifeform on Earth is at stake.

Incendiary is the relentlessly gripping, suspense-filled fourth novel from Carl Rackman, author of Jonah.

Amazon | goodreads | My Review of Incendiary


Voyager

Voyager One is the remotest human object in existence, hurtling through the void of outer space more than twelve billion miles away.

It should be all alone.

Callie Woolf, Project Manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, is stunned when the tiny probe unexpectedly downloads a series of highly disturbing images. Within 24 hours she is running for her life.

FBI Agent Brad Barnes is assigned to the case and unwittingly stumbles into a conspiracy which threatens to bring the United States to its knees. Unable to tell friend from foe, Brad and Callie must play a deadly cat-and-mouse game with the conspirators’ shadowy agents as they confront the unthinkable – that mankind may not be alone in the Universe.

Voyager is an intelligent, modern-day conspiracy thriller by Carl Rackman, author of Irex.

Amazon | goodreads | My Review of Voyager


Sentinel

The Voyager story continues…

Four years have passed since Voyager One sent back chilling photos of a spaceship from deep in interstellar space.

A shocked world prepared to meet the Visitors, but terrorism, pandemics, and global political turmoil have now consumed it. Discredited as a hoax, the Visitors have faded from public attention.

But the powerful global conspiracy known as the Triumvirate is behind much of the chaos. Creating a screen of subterfuge and misdirection, they prepare a clandestine welcome for the Visitors, whose origins may be more sinister than the aliens of popular fiction.

Standing in their way are the few brave men and women who foiled the Triumvirate’s last attempt to upset the world’s fragile balance of power:

Former FBI agent Brad Barnes leads Sentinel, a private intelligence and counter-terrorism operation founded in the wake of the Triumvirate’s last deadly plot.

Alex Ephraim – the former Triumvirate assassin known as Mirage – is Sentinel’s major weapon against terror.

Matt Ramprakash, former airline pilot and now an officer of the British intelligence agency MI5, is embroiled in a deadly standoff when an airliner is hijacked.

Callie Woolf, once the project manager of the Voyager mission, struggles against the sceptical government’s bureaucracy to continue the search for the elusive Visitors as her time and funding runs out.

Sentinel is the only organisation capable of taking the fight to the Triumvirate’s door – flexible, unorthodox well-funded and free of government red tape.

But as they pursue the Triumvirate from the streets of London to the wild, deadly wastes of Antarctica, Brad will need Matt and Callie’s help to stop the Triumvirate, which has its own plans for putting Sentinel – and especially Alex – out of the picture for good…

Sentinel is the pulse-pounding second instalment in the Voyager trilogy by Carl Rackman

Amazon | goodreads | My Review of Sentinel


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Self-published Authors Appreciation Week – Five Feisty Females of Fantasy

Today is Day 5 of Self-published Authors Appreciation Week and I am going to showcase five of my favourite female authors of fantasy. Firstly I hope nobody takes offense at being referred to as a feisty female of fantasy. It’s meant as a compliment…and because I like alliteration. Anyway let’s meet these fabulously fantastic feisty females (in no particular order). Each of these authors embraces diversity in their work and writes immersive, magical fantasy fiction. They also each have particularly beautiful and striking book covers. Hopefully you might find a new favourite here too.

L.L. MacRae

Lauren is a fantasy author of character-driven stories and epic adventure.

Her DRAGON SPIRITS epic fantasy series explores the magic-drenched world of Tassar, where powerful guardian spirits reign supreme.

Her WORLD OF LINARIA epic fantasy series is a light-hearted, fast-paced fantasy adventure with bucket-loads of magic, dragons, sky pirates, and airships.

The KOUZLO SAGA marks her first foray into urban fantasy, with demon-hunting and kick-ass characters set in the London area.

She lives in a tiny village in the UK, has a degree in Psychology, and was a professional copywriter before going full-time as an author – swapping corporate copy for magic and dragons!

For signed paperbacks, visit http://www.llmacrae.com

Here are the books I have read and reviewed:

The Citrine Key – A Dragon Spirits Novella

A stolen artefact.

An ancient dragon.

One man’s final chance.

Life-long thief Apollo Tamlin has been marked for execution. When the mage Queen Surayo offers him a pardon, he doesn’t ask questions – any task she has is better than a walk to the gallows.

Succeed, and not only will it preserve peace in his homeland, but Apollo can rebuild the life he’s ruined.

Sent to a distant continent to feed a stolen artefact to an ancient and powerful dragon spirit sounds simple, but things quickly start going wrong. His companions are not what they seem, the dragon would rather eat him, and the artefact displays its own magic – throwing the entire mission into peril.

My Review | Amazon | goodreads


The Iron Crown (Dragon Spirits #1)

Fenn’s first and only memory is finding himself in the middle of a forest, face to face with a dragon spirit mocking him, all knowledge gone apart from his own name.

Lost and confused, his only hope for answers is Calidra—a woman living on the edge of the world with her partner. Forced to return home when her father dies, Calidra has put off facing her estranged mother for seven years, and she begrudgingly helps Fenn, forging papers for him so he can avoid the Queen’s Inquisitors.

But her mother is the least of her worries when they discover an ancient enemy is rising again. It should be impossible with the Iron Crown in power—and Fenn is terrified he might unwittingly be playing a part in the war’s resurgence.

Surrounded by vengeful spirits and powerful magic, Fenn’s desperate attempt to find his way home might well alter the fate of Tassar, and every power in it.


A new high fantasy series bursts into life with the DRAGON SPIRITS who reign supreme in the magic-drenched world of Tassar.

My Review | Amazon | goodreads


E.G. Radcliffe

E.G. Radcliff is a part-time pooka and native of the Unseelie Court. She collects acorns, glass beads, and pretty rocks, and the crows outside her house know her as She Who Has Bread.

Her fantasy novels are crafted in the dead of night after offering sacrifices of almonds and red wine to the writing-block deities.

You can reach her by scrying bowl, carrier pigeon, or @egradcliff on social media.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Here are her books:

The Hidden King (The Coming of Áed trilogy #1)

Hidden truths. Hidden power. Hidden destiny.
On the shores of a rusty sea, in the streets of a starving city, a young man named Áed scraps to build a life for himself and the makeshift family he loves. Scarred by a trauma he cannot remember, and haunted by the brutal damage it left behind, he has no idea of the courage his future will demand.

When tragedy strikes, a desperate Áed risks a treacherous, life-changing journey in his last chance to save the only family he has left – but an ancient legacy smoldering within him is about to turn deadly. Neither he – nor a kingdom – will ever be the same.

My Review of The Hidden King | Amazon | goodreads


The Last Prince (The Coming of Áed trilogy #2)

In a hellish city, the fate of a young boy rests on the very thing he fears most…

Robbed of his childhood by tragedy and betrayal and forced onto the streets, only fury makes young Ninian feel whole – and in a world of gangs and fae, Ninian is more than willing to fight for his life.

But it doesn’t take much to topple a life which is already balanced on the edge of a knife. And by the time a desperate Ninian realizes he’s crossed the wrong person, it is much, much too late.

In his frantic struggle to right his collapsing world, Ninian’s furious, bloody efforts are dredging up history he’d rather forget – the past is tired of being held at bay, and even fighting cannot protect Ninian from himself. 

So when he meets a crimson-eyed stranger, a boy so broken he refuses even to speak, Ninian does not believe he has the capacity to care.
He is wrong.
And that will change everything…
(A full-length prequel to The Hidden King)

My Review of The Last Prince | Amazon | goodreads


The Wild Court (The Coming of Áed trilogy #3)

What perils await on the other side of the veil?

It’s the seventh year of Áed’s reign. While Ronan, full of restless wanderlust, dreams of a world outside the protective walls of the palace, and Éamon, Áed’s closest friend, struggles quietly with his growing feelings for the King, the world of The Gut is at peace. Until on one cold, autumn festival night, faerie and human worlds collide. With the calm of the kingdom suddenly ablaze, Áed, Eamon, and Ronan find themselves catapulted into a realm as unfamiliar as it is dangerous, where magic is king and wild courts vie for supremacy.

As a tenuous alliance raises questions about Áed’s connection to the mysterious Bone Court, and with a manipulative queen’s missing consort holding the key to life and death, survival hinges on cunning as much as illusion.

In this otherworldly war, only one thing is certain: no one will survive unscathed.

My Review of The Wild Court | Amazon | goodreads  


Sarah Chorn

Sarah has been a compulsive reader her whole life. At a young age, she found her reading niche in the fantastic genre of Speculative Fiction. She blames her active imagination for the hobbies that threaten to consume her life. She is a freelance writer and editor, a semi-pro nature photographer, world traveler, three-time cancer survivor with hEDS, and mom to two. In her ideal world, she’d do nothing but drink lots of tea and read from a never-ending pile of speculative fiction books. She has been running the review blog Bookworm Blues for over ten years, has been editing books for four, and has been a published author since 2019.

Twitter | goodreads

I recently read and reviewed Of Honey and Wildfires. For information about Sarah’s other books please visit her goodreads page.

Of Honey and Wildfires

From the moment the first settler dug a well and struck a lode of shine, the world changed. Now, everything revolves around that magical oil.

What began as a simple scouting expedition becomes a life-changing ordeal for Arlen Esco. The son of a powerful mogul, Arlen is kidnapped and forced to confront uncomfortable truths his father has kept hidden. In his hands lies a decision that will determine the fate of everyone he loves—and impact the lives of every person in Shine Territory.

The daughter of an infamous saboteur and outlaw, Cassandra has her own dangerous secrets to protect. When the lives of those she loves are threatened, she realizes that she is uniquely placed to change the balance of power in Shine Territory once and for all.

Secrets breed more secrets. Somehow, Arlen and Cassandra must find their own truths in the middle of a garden of lies.

My Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | goodreads


Virginia McClain

Virginia McClain is an author who masqueraded as a language teacher for a decade or so. When she’s not reading or writing she can generally be found playing outside with her four legged adventure buddy and the tiny human she helped to build from scratch. She enjoys climbing to the top of tall rocks, running through deserts, mountains, and woodlands, and carrying a foldable home on her back whenever she gets a chance. She’s also fond of word games, and writing descriptions of herself that are needlessly vague.

Website  | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

I recently read and reviewed Sairō’s Claw. For information about Virginia’s other books please visit her goodreads page.

Sairō’s Claw

An action-adventure fantasy romp featuring sword lesbians, sea battles, and a grumpy wolf spirit.

Torako has done many things to protect the valley that she calls home, but she’s never looted a corpse before. So when the katana she steals off the still-cooling body of a bandit turns out to be possessed by a grumpy wolf kami, she can only assume it’s because she’s somehow angered the spirits. An impression that’s only reinforced when she returns home to find her wife abducted and her daughter in hiding. But angry spirits or no, Torako isn’t about to let bandits run off with the love of her life, even if it means taking their 3 year old on a rescue mission.

In all Kaiyo’s years as Captain of the Wind Serpent she has never once questioned her admiral’s orders. So when she receives the command to abduct a civilian scribe with the help of fifteen felons, she registers her objections, but does as she is bid. Yet, as the mission unfolds, Kaiyo finds herself questioning everything from her loyalties to her convictions.

As Torako and Kaiyo’s fates cross like dueling blades, their persistence is matched only by their fury, until they uncover a series of truths they may never be ready to accept.

My Review | Goodreads | Amazon | Bookshop (Hardcover) | Bookshop (Paperback)


Lyra Wolf

Lyra Wolf is a Swiss-American author of fantasy and mythic fiction.

Raised in Indiana, home to a billion corn mazes, she now lives in Central Florida, home to a billion mosquitoes. She enjoys drinking espresso, wandering through old city streets, and being tragically drawn to 18th century rogues.

When Lyra isn’t fulfilling the wishes of her overly demanding Chihuahua, you can find her writing about other worlds and the complicated people who live there.

Lyra has earned a B.A. in History and M.A. in English.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | goodreads

Here are her books:

Truth & Other Lies (The Nine Worlds Rising, Book 1)

NOTHING IS TRICKIER THAN THE TRUTH.

All Loki the trickster god of Asgard wants is a quiet, peaceful life where he’s free to needle Balder, occasionally stir up the inter-realm porridge pot, and get Thor to dress in women’s garments (for all the best reasons).

Getting beset by sudden, painful, and terribly inconvenient visions of blood, ash, and death are definitely not on his to-do list. But, because of some small, ridiculous remnant of caring that refuses to be extinguished, Loki feels he must save Asgard…and that means warning Odin, his least favorite god (next to Thor).

But getting the gods to believe the boy who cried Fenrir is harder than it looks, and time is running out, not just for Asgard, but also for a mortal woman named Sigyn who may just hold the key to Loki’s future.

Loki is about to find out the hard way that the only thing crueler than truth are the lies behind it all.

My Review | Goodreads  |  Amazon


The Order of Chaos (The Nine Worlds Rising, Book 2)

Let’s start Ragnarok, they said. It’ll be fun, they said.

Nothing pisses off a trickster god more than being imprisoned for five hundred years and not being able to annoy Thor. There are other reasons, secrets, and promises behind Loki’s rage, but that’s for Loki to know and the gods to find out—preferably painfully.

When the chance to start Ragnarok presents itself, Loki feels the apocalypse is as good a way as any to burn Asgard to the ground. And, it is, until the gods reveal their own teensy, tiny little surprise for Loki.

Suddenly, Loki has every reason in the worlds to stop them from ending. But this is Ragnarok, and one does not simply stop the apocalypse.

Chaos is all well and good, so long as Loki is in charge of it. Except chaos isn’t about to start taking orders from anyone, not even the god of pot-stirring himself, and it has a universe to destroy.

Originally published as “Chaos Rising.”

My Review | Amazon US  |  Amazon UK  |  goodreads


That Good Mischief (The Nine Worlds Rising, Book 3)

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

Loki and Sigyn had gone full Midgardian, settling down in California, with Loki going off to toil for their daily bread. So what if his nine-to-five is actually working as a knife-for-hire? Ocean views aren’t cheap, and neither are engagement rings.

When Sigyn collapses, Loki senses a darkness growing within her, and he knows only one god who may be able to stop it before it possesses her completely. However, asking for help from the man you swore to never see again carries its own price.

Even with Ragnarok on the table again (and, again, not Loki’s fault…really), it’s the least of Loki’s problems, especially when buried secrets start surfacing.

Lies are unraveling, the truth is spinning, and consequences are flying faster than Loki can run and he might lose Sigyn forever.

Either to the darkness, or to his own lies.

Amazon US Amazon UK  | goodreads


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Indie Spotlight – Brittany M. Willows

Today on Day 4 of Self-published Authors Appreciation Week, I am pleased to be welcoming Brittany M. Willows to the Indie Spotlight!


Brittany M. Willows is a bisexual/asexual author and digital artist living in rural Ontario, Canada. Inspired initially by video games and the stories they told, she began building her own fictional universes and has no plans of stopping any time soon. When she’s not writing about post-apocalyptic lands, wild magic, or people gallivanting through the stars, she can be found hunched over a tablet drawing the very same things.

To keep up with the latest news regarding both current and future stories, and to find out more about Brittany or to delve deeper into the worlds she has created, check out the links below! She can also be contacted directly via these platforms:

Twitter | Instagram | Blog | Facebook


Bloody Spade is your debut novel, what made you decide to publish your book independently? What was your path to publication?

So, my path to publication started pretty early. I always knew I wanted to be a storyteller, but I was sixteen and working on the first draft for the book that would eventually become my debut when I made the decision to become an author (after previously toying with the ideas of being video game designer and making a comics/manga).

The decision to self-publish came down to my desire for control over my story. Some people get lucky and just zoom through the traditional publishing process, but I knew for me, more likely than not, it would be a long road of querying and being on sub and so on with no actual guarantee that my stories would ever see the light of day. I’d also heard some horror stories about traditionally-published authors being pressured into changing certain elements of their stories to conform to the market, losing the rights to their stories, or simply not getting to continue their stories because book #1 didn’t perform well enough.

I wasn’t willing to take those risks or give up my control, so I braved the self-publishing route instead.

It’s been tough, I’m not going to lie. I’ve had to learn a lot about marketing and editing and formatting and all that jazz in order to create the best book I can without going broke. But it’s also been well worth it to tell my stories the way I want to tell them, and without worrying about rights or having to cut a story short because it didn’t reach a certain level of popularity. I’m fine continuing my series for a small audience, because I’m not doing this for the popularity. I’m doing it because I want to share these worlds and characters that live in my head with other people!

What made you decide to write in your specific genre rather than other genres? Have you ever written in other genres?

I have written in other genres! Fantasy, science fiction, and post-apocalyptic are my big three, and I have a tendency to combine them. My debut space opera duology was primarily science fiction with space magic, but it’s got post-apocalyptic elements that take center stage in the prequel I’m planning to write. Likewise, my next project is also going to be a mashup of the three. Bloody Spade fell pretty naturally into the urban fantasy genre, but includes some vaguely post-apocalyptic elements as well (it’ll be my first in the YA category, though).

These are the genres I tend to favor in consuming media. I’ve been surrounded by scifi/fantasy stories since I was a kid and always had a love for the otherworldly and extraordinary. My interest in post-apocalyptic settings came in a bit later, and I haven’t quite pinpointed my draw to that. Something about humanity persevering in a decaying world or a world that’s being overtaken by nature after a period of desolation just fascinates me.

I don’t know if I’ll ever write anything outside those genres, but we shall see!

Do you only read the genre that you write? 

Nope! I do mainly read fantasy/scifi/post-apocalyptic stories, but I also enjoy contemporaries and steampunk a lot. There’s a few genres I haven’t read yet and some that don’t typically interest me, but I’m open to most things!

What are you currently reading? Watching on TV? Is there a type of music you listen to for inspiration?

I am currently reading Cute Mutants by SJ Whitby (along with A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab and a slew of other books because I am apparently incapable of reading one book at a time). I’ve got a bunch of shows on the go at the moment, too—anime, mostly. My current favorites are Fruits Basket, My Hero Academia, Castlevania, and To Your Eternity.

As for music? For Bloody Spade it’s been a lot of anime soundtracks, piano covers, Mother Mother, The Oh Hellos, Mrs. GREEN APPLE, LiSA, and Eve. For The Calypsis Project series, it’s mainly video game and movie soundtracks (the Halo OST, Two Steps From Hell, Audiomachine, etc), Breaking Benjamin, and Imagine Dragons. So, yeah, nothing too specific. Depends on the project!

Any advice for aspiring authors?

Before anyone else, write for yourself. Write the story you want to tell and don’t worry about pleasing other people, because it is impossible to please everyone. Your story will find its audience. Plus, if you’re writing for you, then everyone else whose interest you grab is a bonus, and it takes a little bit of the sting out of your book potentially not performing as well as you would’ve hoped, haha

What are you working on right now and what can we look forward to seeing from you next?

Currently, I am putting the final touches on Bloody Spade! I also recently finished the zero draft for the sequel, Bleeding Heart, and will be jumping into revisions on that sometime over the summer. After that duology is done, I’m hoping to return to the long-overdue rewrite of my debut that got sidelined when Bloody Spade stole my attention. I’m also very much looking forward to delving into a brand new project that’s been brewing for just over a year now—a scifi/fantasy/post-apoc mashup about two werewolf brothers on the run after escaping a military space station. It’s a story of brotherhood, resilience, and the ragtag rebels banding together to overthrow a corrupt government.

It’ll likely be a long time before that one is actually in book form, but you better believe I’ll be drawing a lot of content for it in the meantime!

Thank you for taking part in my Indie Spotlight feature, Brittany, good luck with your future projects!


Bloody Spade

A girl full of heart
A thief touched by darkness
A boy with a fiery temper
An unwitting servant of evil

The era of magic was once thought to be a myth, but after the Reemergence ushered forces both dark and light into the mundane world, it has since become a harsh reality. Now those affected by this strange power—a specialized group of Empowered called Jokers, known collectively as Cardplay—must protect their world from the darkness that threatens to consume it, all the while fighting for equality in a society clinging to normalcy.

But the Reemergence was only the beginning.

When another influx occurs on the seventh anniversary of that fateful event, an unfortunate encounter at ground zero lands Iori Ryone, a teenage boy in possession of a corrupt and legendary magic, in the care of recent Joker graduate Ellen Amelia Jane. From him, she learns the Reemergence may not have been the inevitable natural disaster it first seemed.

Someone is trying to tear down the barrier that separates the magical realms from the mundane. The question is, can Cardplay stop them before it’s too late?

Bloody Spade is the first installment in an urban fantasy duology that follows a cat-eared thief and a spirited girl as they try to navigate his wild magic, her hotheaded brother, a sinister plot, and the feelings they’re developing for each other.

Preorder/buy Bloody Spade here: 

https://bloodyspade.carrd.co/

Add Bloody Spade to your goodreads To Be Read list here:

www.goodreads.com/book/show/51804726-bloody-spade


Who’s next on Indie Spotlight?

Gabrielle Gagne-Cyr, author of The Theurgy of the Gods series, is a French Canadian who studied Digital Video Production and Psychology at Concordia University in Montreal.

After working a few years as a counsellor at a youth centre, she somehow decided that writing on the sidelines would be as good a career (though her dream job would be sky pirate—a nice one obviously). 


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