Dark One by Brandon Sanderson

Book Description

Paul is a young man who sees visions of strange and fantastic worlds–visions he initially believes are hallucinations. But these visions turn out to be prophesies, dark projections of a world in which Paul is a tyrant who destroys the world and the creatures that reside there.


My Review

I read an ARC e-book from NetGalley.

I have been reading The Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson, and also read his debut, Elantris earlier this year, so I was intrigued to see what his graphic novels would be like. I could not imagine Sanderson’s rich world-building and detailed magic systems fitting into the graphic novel format, and I think this story would have been served a whole lot better as a novel. It was an interesting concept for a story and the duality of two world’s Mirandus and Earth being side by side and reachable only by certain people was intriguing and well thought out. The confusion of the main character, Paul Tanasin, when he finds himself on Mirandus is endearing and I really liked this character. He is introduced in the story as a fairly ordinary teenager living in New York, but who sees and is able to converse with a girl who claims to be his sister, but who is not really there. The world-building of Mirandus is actually really well done despite the graphic novel format. We learn about The Narrative from Rasik, one of the Drull, a subservient race who reminded me of the Skaa in the Mistborn trilogy:

“The Narrative is the bedrock upon which our world is built. It is not a book – it is the web of life, time, fate and destiny.”

The Narrative repeats in every generation. A Dark One rises and is countered by a Destined One, both of whom have always been from Earth. But is it perhaps time to change the narrative?
I recommend this graphic novel to fans of Sanderson and fantasy stories that are just a little different.

Dark One will be published on 18th May 2021

Add to your To Be Read list here:

www.goodreads.com/book/show/49798827-dark-one


About the Author

Brandon Sanderson was born in 1975 in Lincoln, Nebraska. As a child Brandon enjoyed reading, but he lost interest in the types of titles often suggested to him, and by junior high he never cracked a book if he could help it. This changed when an eighth grade teacher gave him Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly.

Brandon was working on his thirteenth novel when Moshe Feder at Tor Books bought the sixth he had written. Tor has published Elantris, the Mistborn trilogy and its followup The Alloy of Law,Warbreaker, and The Way of Kings and Words of Radiance, the first two in the planned ten-volume series The Stormlight Archive. He was chosen to complete Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series; 2009’s The Gathering Storm and 2010’s Towers of Midnight were followed by the final book in the series, A Memory of Light, in January 2013. Four books in his middle-grade Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians series have been released in new editions by Starscape, and his novella Infinity Blade Awakening was an ebook bestseller for Epic Games accompanying their acclaimed Infinity Blade iOS video game series. Two more novellas, Legion and The Emperor’s Soul, were released by Subterranean Press and Tachyon Publications in 2012, and 2013 brought two young adult novels, The Rithmatist from Tor and Steelheart from Delacorte.

The only author to make the short list for the David Gemmell Legend Award six times in four years, Brandon won that award in 2011 for The Way of KingsThe Emperor’s Soul won the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Novella. He has appeared on the New York Times Best-Seller List multiple times, with five novels hitting the #1 spot.

Currently living in Utah with his wife and children, Brandon teaches creative writing at Brigham Young University.


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Historical Stories of Betrayal

Book Description

Betrayal, treachery, treason, deceit, perfidy—all names for the calculated violation of trust. And it’s been rife since humans trod the earth.

A promise broken
A mission betrayed
A lover’s desertion
A parent’s deception
An unwitting act of treason
Betrayal by comrades
Betrayal by friends

Could you resist the forces of misplaced loyalty, power hunger, emotional blackmail, or plain greed? Is there ever redemption, or will the destruction visit future generations and even alter history? These questions are still with us today.

Read twelve tales by twelve accomplished writers who explore these historical yet timeless challenges from post Roman Britain to the present day.

AD 455—Roman leader Ambrosius is caught in a whirlpool of shifting allegiances
AD 940—Alyeva and cleric Dunstan navigate the dangers of the Anglo Saxon court
1185—Knight Stephan fights for comradeship, duty, and honour. But what about love?
1330—The powerful Edmund of Kent enters a tangled web of intrigue
1403—Thomas Percy must decide whether to betray his sovereign or his family
1457—Estelle is invited to the King of Cyprus’s court, but deception awaits
1483—Has Elysabeth made the right decision to bring Prince Edward to London?
1484—Margaret Beaufort contemplates the path to treason
1577—Francis Drake contends with disloyalty at sea
1650—Can James Hart, Royalist highwayman, stop a nemesis from destroying his friend?
1718—Pirate Annie Bonny, her lover Calico Jack, and a pirate hunter. Who will win?
1849/present—Carina must discover her ancestor’s betrayer in Italy or face ruin.


My Review

I am reviewing this book on behalf of Rosie Amber’s Book Review team #RBRT.  I read a kindle version of this book.

5/5 stars


Historical Stories of Betrayal includes stories by Judith Arnopp, Cryssa Bazos, Anna Belfrage, Derek Birks, Helen Hollick, Amy Maroney, Alison Morton, Charlene Newcomb, Tony Riches, Mercedes Rochelle, Annie Whitehead, Elizabeth St.John . Please click on their names to visit their Goodreads pages for more information.

Historical Stories of Betrayal is a collection of twelve short fictional stories set in different periods throughout history, each with the theme of betrayal of one kind or another. The time periods range from post-Roman Britain to a 21st century alternative history and are presented chronologically. Each story has a distinctive flavour, brought to it by each of the author’s distinctive styles. They are each around forty pages long which makes it an easy book to pick up at various points throughout the day.

Anglo Saxon England as depicted in ‘The Last Kingdom’
The Tower of London

Learning to trust someone can take a long time and when that trust is betrayed it’s difficult to overcome the associated feelings of anger and disappointment, whatever the type of betrayal. There are many different kinds of betrayal described in this collection – by parents, lovers, friends and historical acts of treachery. There are many familiar historical characters included, such as pirates Ann Bonney and Calico Jack, explorer Francis Drake, Thomas Percy and Margaret Beaufort. My favourite stories were Annie Whitehead’s Love to Hatred Turn’d, a tale of courtly life and murderous plots, set in the 10th century and Judith Arnopp’s House Arrest, a tale of Margaret Beaufort and King Richard III, set in the 15th century:

“The only man able to resist the temptation of power is a corpse.”

There is also a wealth of authentic historical detail in these stories – these authors clearly know their chosen time periods and have done plenty of research.

I would highly recommend this collection to fans of historical fiction, stories filled with emotion and readers wanting to try out something by these particular authors before choosing to buy their full novels.

Buy Historical Stories of Betrayal here:

www.amazon.com/Betrayal-Historical-Stories-Judith-Arnopp-ebook/dp/B08NGJXM6L

www.amazon.co.uk/Betrayal-Historical-Stories-Judith-Arnopp-ebook/dp/B08NGJXM6L

Add Historical Stories of Betrayal to you To Be Read list here:

www.goodreads.com/book/show/55928918-betrayal


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The Shadow of the Gods (The Bloodsworn trilogy #1) by John Gwynne

Book Description

From acclaimed fantasy author John Gwynne comes the first in the Bloodsworn trilogy, an epic of wild lands and wilder magic, where not all monsters fight with tooth and claw…and the treasures of the gods come at a price.
This is the age of storm and murder.
After the old gods warred and drove themselves to extinction, the cataclysm of their fall shattered the land of Vigrio.
Now, power-hungry jarls carve out petty kingdoms, and monsters stalk the shadow-haunted woods and mountains. A world where the bones of the dead gods still hold great power, promising fame and fortune for those brave – or desperate – enough to seek them out.
As whispers of war echo over the plains and across the fjords, fate follows the footsteps of three people: a huntress searching for her missing son, a jarl’s daughter who has rejected privilege in pursuit of battle fame, and a thrall who has cast off his chains and now fights alongside the famed mercenaries known as the Bloodsworn.
All three will shape the fate of the world, as it once more teeters on the edge of chaos.


My Review

The Shadow of the Gods is an epic story set in a Norse inspired world during a time when myths become real, blood oaths are sworn and vengeance is sought. A cold world filled with many fantastical creatures, witches, Berserker warriors, bloodthirsty battles and strongly protected customs and traditions.

There are three main characters with alternating chapters told from each of their points of view: Orka, Varg and Elvar. They each have a separate story, but as the narrative progresses it becomes clear that their story arcs must eventually converge, perhaps not all in this book but at some point in the trilogy.

It is clear Orka was once a warrior who has now settled down with her Beserker husband, Thorkel and son, Breca, hoping for a quiet life. However, a quiet life does not last for long and she can only hope to have taught her son enough that he can survive such a cruel world after she and Thorkel are no longer there to protect him.

Orka teaching Mord and Lif warcraft, so that they can avenge their father’s death, is done in quite a maternal way. This natural instinct of a mother was partly what led to her freeing them. Her rage and determination to find her son is relatable by all mothers. As a mother of a thirteen year old boy I know that no one comes near your child to harm them, or you turn into a raging Berserker! This instinct gives her the almost superhuman strength and stamina she needs to beat a whole group of warriors, in order to find out where her son Breca has been taken. Hell hath no fury like a woman whose husband has been brutally slain and child has been taken from her.

Elvar is a member of a warband named The Battle Grim. They are mercenaries – their leader Agnar’s priority is to earn enough gold through trading people, as well as goods, to keep his warrior band happy and loyal to him. Despite being a ruthless warrior, Elvar has a caring nature. She saved Uspa’s son from a sea monster with no thought for her own safety. She looks after her fellow warriors when they are injured and shows them respectful kindness. She is, however, a brutal killing machine and a cold hearted warrior when faced with a rival warband. Elvar could almost be a young version of Orka, before marriage and child birth.

Varg was a thrall, but he escaped from slavery and fled after committing murder. Now an accidental member of a warband, the Bloodsworn, he is learning how to become a warrior. His haphazard bravery provides a certain amount of comic relief and knows no bounds. He is a loyal and likeable character determined to avenge his sister’s death.

The level of detail of this Norse inspired world is astonishing and makes for an extremely rich reading experience. There is a scene where Orka is drinking mead from a horn while Lif is sewing up the wound in her back using a curved bone fishhook.

The occasional use of Old Icelandic words throughout the novel, the description of the mechanics of a thrall collar, the knowledge of warcraft and specifically, how to wear a heavy mail shirt by tying a weapons’ belt around it in such a way that its weight is partially taken away from the shoulders; all of this reeks of a ton of research and detailed knowledge of the life of a Viking warrior on the part of the author.

The Shadow of the Gods is a truly amazing book. One of the best I have read in a very long time. It will pull on your heartstrings, boil your blood, leave you with your mouth hanging open and have you chuckling to yourself. I highly recommend it!

Buy The Shadow of the Gods here:

www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08HLQL1B2/

Add The Shadow of the Gods to your To Be Read List here:

www.goodreads.com/book/show/52694527-the-shadow-of-the-gods


About the Author

I was born in Singapore while my dad was stationed there in the RAF. Up until he retired that meant a lot of traveling around, generally a move every three years or so.
I live with my wife and four wonderful (and demanding) children in East Sussex. Also three dogs, two of which will chew anything that stands still. I have had many strange and wonderful jobs, including packing soap in a soap factory, waitering in a french restaurant in Canada, playing double bass in a rock n roll band, and lecturing at Brighton University.
I stepped out of university work due to my daughter’s disability, so now I split my time caring for her and working from home – I work with my wife rejuvenating vintage furniture, which means fixing, lifting, carrying, painting and generally doing what my wife tells me to do…
And somehow during this time I started writing. I’ve always told my children stories at bed-time, and they pestered long and hard for me to write some of it down. At the same time I felt that my brain was switching off a little – vintage furniture is my wife’s passion, whereas my passions are geekier!
That’s how The Banished Lands and Malice began, though along the way it became more than just a hobby. I’m still in shock that it is actually a real book, rather than just pages on my desk. Malice, to my immense surprise and joy, won the David Gemmell Morningstar Award for Best Debut Fantasy of 2012.

You can find me online at http://www.john-gwynne.com/


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The Place Below by Dan Fitzgerald

Today is my turn on the Storytellers on Tour Blog Tour for The Place Below by Dan Fitzgerald, the third and final book in the Maer Cycle trilogy. Thank you to Justine and Timy for having me along for the ride! Be sure to take a look at the reviews from other bloggers taking part on the tour and take a look at the amazing giveaway at the end of this post as well!

Book Details

The Place Below by Dan Fitzgerald

Series: The Maer Cycle (#3)

Published: March 4, 2021

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 291 (Print Length)

Content Warnings: Violence, Death


Book Description

It’s been twenty-five years since the Battle for the Archive. Peace reigns over the Silver Hills, and humans and Maer are preparing to sign their first trade agreement. Even warring tribes of the Free Maer have set aside old quarrels.

Sasha is a young scholar of mixed Maer and human parentage, traveling throughout the Maer lands collecting stories of the Ka-lar, the buried Forever Kings. She finds a reference in the Archive to a Ka-lar named Kuun, a scholar in life, who was laid down in an ancient brightstone mine, beneath a mountain said to be the home of the fabled Skin Maer. The lure of the tale is too strong to resist. Joined by some old friends, Sasha sets out to uncover secrets that have lain buried for over a thousand years.

In The Place Below, the Maer Cycle comes to a close as the darkest mysteries of the Maer are at last brought into the light.


My Review

I was kindly sent a kindle version in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Justine, Timy and Dan Fitzgerald!

The Place Below is the final book in The Maer Cycle trilogy. It is set 25 years after the events of The Archive and has many of the characters we are familiar with, but they are now in more secondary, support roles within the story rather than taking centre stage. Final books of a series carry with them a responsibility to the reader, who has already invested the time and emotion in reading two books, hoping that the third will bring the story to a satisfactory conclusion. In the case of The Maer Cycle, The Place Below does not fail to deliver on this angle. The world is a familiar one and we are used to the Maer now, so this story concentrates more on the mysterious Ka-lar, long dead kings lying preserved in barrows, one of whom we met back in Hollow Road.

Sasha drawn by Elena Tarsius

Sasha, the daughter of Carl and Ujenn, is our new main character. Half Maer, half human, she is a scholar with an impressive talent for learning languages. Sasha is a sensitive, empathetic soul who is able to sense the emotions and worries of people when they touch her, so she doesn’t like to be touched if she can avoid it. She is studying and collecting stories pertaining to the Ka-lar. The Maer greatly value stories and often use them as a kind of currency. Sasha pays for a meal on her travels by telling a story. During a trip with Tcheen to investigate the barrows of two of the 144 known Ka-lar, long dead kings and leaders, Sasha discovers she has the death-link – an ability shunned by most Maer and considered a curse. She can sense the dead and can feel what they were feeling in their final moments. Her magical mental abilities also allow her to detect when someone is lurking nearby spying on them, which proves to be a useful skill when she and her friends are traveling the countryside, camping outdoors.

Kuun drawn by Axel AKA Urban Skeleton Knight

Kuun is one of the Ka-lar and has been in hibernation for almost seventeen hundred years.  We are treated to alternating chapters from the point of view of Sasha and Kuun, who has been awoken by a group of Skin Maer, a tribe of Maer who are less hairy than most Maer, more similar in looks to a human than the other tribes of Maer. Kuun needs to feast on blood to keep renewing his strength, which the obedient and awestruck Skin Maer are only too happy to oblige him with. Kuun’s eyes are light sensitive and his skin is papery thin and cracked. There is no moisture in his body after so long. He is an intriguing character and I found myself looking forward to his chapters more and more, wondering what his ultimate goal would prove to be. 

The Skin Maer live underground in an ancient brightstone mine, having been trapped there by a landslide many centuries before, which closed off the entrance to the mine. Kuun has a magical rod which he seeks to power with a large brightstone if only the miners can provide one without chipping or breaking it during the extraction process. 

Kuun was able to feel Sasha’s presence when she and Tcheen were near to the mine and he hopes she might be the key to unlocking the secrets of his rod of power if he can make it work before she returns. 

As with the first and second books in the Maer Cycle, The Place Below contains a clear message of tolerance and acceptance of anything unfamiliar.  Sasha is clearly upset when stories are told concerning interbreeding of Maer and humans or Skin Maer and other Maer. She is made uncomfortable by the stares and comments she receives about her appearance since her heritage has meant her face is not as hairy as other Maer. She is understandably upset by the comment made by the Ram Maer guard that she is a ‘mongrel’ and then angered by him calling her ‘half-breed’. Dan Fitzgerald is clearly against discrimination of all types, and he makes his views clear on this subject throughout the Maer Cycle.

Tcheen drawn by Elena Tarsius

My favourite character in this book is Tcheen. Tcheen is the non-binary leader of the Dragon Maer tribe, a highly intelligent mage and warrior, with ascerbic wit and a tongue held firmly in cheek. Their preferred method of communication is via deep frowns and glares to let people know exactly their opinion without saying very much. They are also a master of dismissive snorts and short sentences. This often leads to some amusing interactions between Tcheen and Sasha:

Tcheen: “Well, my Southish is in ruins, so I hope you don’t expect me to say much.” 
Sasha: “I never do.” 

The tone of The Place Below is darker than the previous two books and the tension in the story rises as Sasha and her friends make their way into the mine inhabited by Kuun and the Skin Maer. What will happen when the two groups come face to face? Can Sasha’s advanced linguistic knowledge help smooth the way for a peaceful meeting despite the fact that both groups are prepared for a less than friendly encounter?

From Kuun, Sasha is able to learn the reasons behind the hibernation of the Ka-lar:

“The Ka-lar were laid down for many reasons, mostly the fear of disease, death, or old age.”

“There was a great plague in my time, one that killed many thousands of Maer, king and farmer alike. This was to be my solution, the Rod of Life, as I called it. I worked with a group of great artificers, scholars, and mages to perfect its dimensions, materials, magics, and bindings. It was the work of many years, but time was running short. Half of the team had fallen ill, and most of those died.”

For a lot of the time, I was unable to guess what Kuun had in mind, which lead to many unexpected surprises. I was particularly taken by surprise by the last action of Kuun. Perhaps I should have expected it as there had been some foreshadowing, but I had not considered it. It made for a pleasant conclusion for a character who had shown he had a lot of potential to turn irredeemably nasty.

The story reaches a satisfying conclusion and all of the loose ends appear to have been tied up rather nicely. I thoroughly enjoyed this series and look forward to seeing what Dan Fitzgerald has in store for us next!


Add The Place Below to your To Be Read list here:

www.goodreads.com/book/show/56818527-the-place-below

Buy The Place Below here:

US: www.amazon.com/Place-Below-Dan-Fitzgerald/dp/B08XZNBK4W/

UK: www.amazon.co.uk/Place-Below-Dan-Fitzgerald/dp/B08XZNBK4W/


The Giveaway

Prize: The Maer Cycle Megapack! – Signed copies of Hollow RoadThe Archive & The Place Below, all artwork, and the final set of the Hollow Road character cards. That really is an amazing prize – and it’s INTERNATIONAL!

Click here to enter or on the banner below.

Starts: March 24th, 2021 at 12:00am EST
Ends: March 31st, 2021 at 11:59pm EST


About the Author

Dan Fitzgerald is a fantasy author living in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, DC with his wife, twin boys, and two cats. When he is not writing, he might be gardening, taking photographs of nature, doing yoga, cooking, or listening to French music. The Maer Cycle is his debut trilogy, with Hollow Road and The Archive on several book bloggers’ best-of lists for 2020, and The Place Below coming March 4 2021. His upcoming duology, The Weirdwater Confluence, will be published in October 2021 and January 2022. All books published by Shadow Spark Publishing.

Find out more about Dan and his books at www.danfitzwrites.com, or look him up on Twitter or Instagram, under the name danfitzwrites.

Website: http://www.danfitzwrites.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/danfitzwrites
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/danfitzwrites 
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/danfitzwrites 


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In the Orbit of Sirens (The Song of Kamaria #1) by T.A. Bruno

Today is my turn on the Storytellers on Tour Blog Tour for In The Orbit Of Sirens (The Song Of Kamaria) by T. A. Bruno . Thank you to Justine and Timy for having me along for the ride! Please be sure to check out some of the other bloggers on the tour here. There is also an amazing US only giveaway at the end of this post so make sure you stay tuned right until the end!


Book Description

THE LAST FRAGMENTS OF THE HUMAN RACE ARE FORCED TO ADAPT TO A DANGEROUS NEW WORLD OR FACE EXTINCTION.

When starship mechanic, Denton Castus, is caught in the destructive path of a devastating war, he abandons his home and seeks refuge on a distant planet. However, this new safe haven has undiscovered threats of its own. Eliana Veston, a scout preparing the planet for the refugees, struggles with a deadly pandemic that is killing off colonists. The hunt for a cure unleashes a new threat to humanity—the Sirens—mysterious beings with incredible powers and a deep hatred for invaders.


Book Information

In the Orbit of Sirens by T.A. Bruno
Series: The Song of Kamaria (#1)
Published: October 4, 2020
Genre: Sci-Fi, Adventure
Pages: 502 (Print Length)


My Review

I was kindly given both a paperback copy and a kindle version of this book by the author and Storytellers on Tour. Thank you so much!

In the Orbit of Sirens is the first book in T.A. Bruno’s debut Sci-Fi series, The Song of Kamaria, and takes place far in the future. The human race is at war with a race of scavengers called the Undriel and is planning to escape from the Sol System to a planet named Kamaria. Kamaria is a distant planet in another solar system which takes 300 years in sleep stasis to travel to. 

We get to know a group of people who are already on Kamaria setting up a habitable base, named Odysseus Colony, preparing for the remaining humans who will arrive in five years. 250 people currently live there, including 26 year old medic Eliana Veston and her father, John, George Tanaka, Capt. Roelin Raike and his wife, Faye. There is also an AI named Homer.

There are survival problems on Kamaria – a bacteria exists which attacks human lungs causing “lung lock” which is fatal. The team is desperately searching for a cure among the local flora and fauna when we first meet them:

“Kamaria was heaven—if it weren’t for the airborne bacteria that caused human lungs to immediately cease functioning.”

Luckily for the scout team, they encounter one of the tall, bird-like humanoid natives, which ultimately leads to them synthesising a cure for lung lock. Eliana is able to communicate a little with the creature and discovers he is an Auk’nai called Mag’Ro.

I really enjoyed the Auk’nai species. They are not dissimilar to humanity in that they have a societal hierarchy, with a group leader and are able to communicate and learn foreign language. They use technology, although they are not as technically advanced as the humans. They are telepathic and unable to tell lies, and their telepathy enables them to tell when another species is lying to them. They refer to conversations and histories as songs and appear to have a fairly sound moral code.

While trying to locate the Auk’nai once more, the team discovers a mysterious crypt. Capt Raike Roelin becomes possessed by a violent monster, one of the titular Sirens, who gradually takes over his consciousness more and more and leads him to embark on a devastating killing spree. 

We are also introduced, via flashback chapters, to some of  the remaining humans in the Sol System, 300 years previously. The down-to-earth and very likable Castus family, Michael, his wife Brynn and their three grown up sons Denton, Tyler and Jason, run an engine repair shop on Jupiter’s moon, Ganymede and are awaiting the call to board the Telemachus transport ship – their ticket to Kamaria. 

In these flashbacks we learn about the Undriel – humanity’s terrifying enemy who absorb human bodies and use them to create fearsome mechanical/human hybrid machines:

“When the Undriel absorbed a victim, they replaced all non-essential parts with mechanical elements. The result was usually a rotting human head encased in a robotic, spider-like frame, or at least that was what any autopsies on fallen Undriel foot soldiers had yielded. In this case, the absorbed human had been converted into a spaceship, forced to watch their own body work against them as a weapon of genocide.”

What a terrifying concept! I thought this alien race was an extremely imaginative invention and was hoping to see more of them. Perhaps they will appear again in later books in the series.

There follows a fast-paced, exciting escape sequence, as the Castus family flees Ganymede, running the gauntlet with the Undriel, in an attempt to reach the Telemachus in time to flee the Sol System. I had my heart in my mouth as the Castus family fight to escape a fate worse than death.

300 years later, the Castus family arrives safely on Kamaria and Denton is disappointed to once again be working on engine repair, he thinks he’d like to be a scout. I really liked both of the main characters, Eliana and Denton and their developing relationship was endearing without being too mushy. Denton soon becomes an important part of the scout team, making the most of his engineering skills and practicality to help the Auk’nai as well as his team. On one trip Denton is helping an injured team member and has an encounter with a creature called Karx, and begins to have visions of two sirens, Nhymn, the one which infected Roelin and who currently is holding the captain hostage inside his ship, deep in the jungle; and her sister Sympha, who has powers of creation and who created Karx. Through these visions we learn Nhymn’s backstory and discover why Nhymn has become a twisted destroyer who uses pain to control her captives.

Meanwhile, in the present, Roelin appears to have finally got the better of the immortal Nymh and is planning a return to the colony. Will this lead to the end of the colony? The tragic character of Roelin really had my sympathy. He was not in control of his actions and forced to kill his colleagues and attempt to kill his own wife. Then he had to try and keep sane while a sadistic tyrant invaded his mind and took control of his actions.

One of the Auk’Nai, Talulo, is able to help the scout team track Roelin. They make their way to his ship, the Astraeus where Roelin has been held at the mercy of Nhymn for four years, locked in a constant mental battle for control of his body. Nhymn forces Denton to fix the Astraeus and it is finally able to take off. A truly formidable and terrifying enemy, Nhymn is going to get her chance to confront her sister Sympha after centuries of preparation. Nhymn wants revenge on her sister and is using Roelin as a vessel to get what she wants.

The writing style of this novel is engaging throughout this book, and the descriptive world-building passages are extremely imaginative. I loved their cinematic nature, which made it easy to visualise the flora and fauna of Kamaria as depicted in these sections of the narrative:

“The Kamarian jungle breathed. Flat alien leaves sprouting from obscure trees rolled in the humid air as if treading water in an ocean of heat. Smaller creatures observed the human scout team through perches in the vines, vanishing from sight the moment they were discovered. Shadows concealed the jungle floor, with spears of light pushing through the dense upper canopy. The shady trees had jet-black trunks that bled a crimson sap. Long, wine-red leaves draped from their branches.”

The fast-paced, edge-of-the-seat fight sequences are also well thought through and no details are overlooked, making it highly enjoyable and a book that is difficult to put down.

I recommend reading this novel to all fans of Sci Fi, great world-building and well-rounded characters. I can’t wait to read the next installment of The Song of Kamaria!


Add to your To Be Read list here:

www.goodreads.com/book/show/56935364-in-the-orbit-of-sirens

Buy here:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Orbit-Sirens-Song-Kamaria/dp/1734647000/ 

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/in-the-orbit-of-sirens-t-a-bruno/1137418784

Audible US: https://www.audible.com/pd/In-the-Orbit-of-Sirens-Audiobook/B08X5XVW8Q


The Giveaway

US only click here or on the graphic below to enter.

Prize: In the Orbit of Sirens by T. A. Bruno – Winners Choice: Hardcover, paperback, or audiobook– 5 winners

Starts: March 21st, 2021 at 12:00am EST
Ends: March 28th, 2021 at 11:59pm EST


About the Author

T. A. BRUNO grew up in Chicago and moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in the film industry. Since then, he has brought stories to life for over a decade as a previsualization artist. At home, he is a proud father of two boys and a husband to a wonderful wife. IN THE ORBIT OF SIRENS is his debut science fiction novel.

Website: https://sdmckinley.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TABrunoAuthor 
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/TABrunoAuthor/ 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TABrunoAuthor 
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/T.-A.-Bruno/e/B08FW4T3VF 
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/tabrunoauthor 


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Indie Spotlight – Tom Williams

Today I would like to introduce you to Tom Williams. Welcome to my blog, Tom. Please tell us a little about yourself.

I used to write books for business. Now I write historical novels and books about vampires that are generally described as fiction but which are often more realistic than the business books. The stories have given me an excuse to travel to Argentina, Egypt and Borneo and call it research. 

I live in London where my main interest is avoiding doing any honest work. In the days before covid I used to ski and skate and dance tango. Now all that is left is dancing tango at home with my wife, which is more fun than it really ought to be. Otherwise I read old books and spend far too much time looking at ancient weaponry.

You can read all about me (if you really must) and my books (yes please) on my website: https://tomwilliamsauthor.co.uk. I also have a Facebook page (AuthorTomWilliams) and I tweet as @TomCW99


This week instead of the Q & A format we are going with more of a guest post type of format:

Self-publishing vs traditional presses

My tenth book was published on 19 March. My first six were conventionally published by small presses. Like most writers, I was thrilled when one of my books was accepted for publication. Disillusion came more slowly.

I know a lot of writers who have moved away from conventional publishing into self-publishing and many of them are quite bitter about the way that their publishers have treated them. I don’t want to abuse publishers. Publishers gave me a lot of support and encouragement with my first books as well as providing me with editorial services and cover design. Having them doing that sort of thing meant that I could concentrate on writing, rather than having to worry about how to format book for Kindle or what size my paperbacks should be printed.

The trouble is that many publishers have responded to the avalanche of books being written by taking on large numbers of authors, giving them minimal sales support and seeing which ones begin to move. Authors who can generate signs that they might have a readership will gradually find themselves given more marketing backup and they eventually make it to the point where – as one relatively successful conventionally published author remarked – their royalties will buy them a good meal once in a while. For the authors who don’t pick up readers early in the process, there will be no more marketing support and their sales will dwindle and die.

Harsh as this approach is, it makes sense for publishers. Predicting which books will sell and which will not is famously difficult. You have only to look at the number of publishers who “knew” that Harry Potter was never going to get anywhere. In the circumstances, it makes sense to throw a lot of books out there and let the public do the sorting for you.

The approach is sensible for publishers who have, potentially, hundreds of writers. (One thing I have noticed is that some independents are now taking on far more writers than any but the largest firms can honestly give proper attention to.) It is much less sensible for the writer who has only a few books (and, to start with, only one) to carry their hopes and dreams. The sad fact is that, unless you write the sort of book that can grab an audience immediately, you are unlikely to be one of the lucky few authors who gets a decent share of their publisher’s marketing budget.

Many authors (encouraged by their publishers) try to battle their way up the greasy pole by paying for their own promotion in the hope of getting enough traction for their publisher to notice them. I’ve always been uncomfortable doing this, as you pay 100% of the promotional costs but pickup only your royalty share (maybe just 20%) of the revenue generated. Which brings us to another problem with publishers: they have to make a profit and, unless they can generate a substantial number of sales, that profit is essentially made at your expense. Obviously once you are a bestselling author the tens of thousands of pounds your publisher will make are dwarfed by the hundreds of thousands that you
pull down, but only a tiny percentage of authors make any significant amount at all. The difference between being self-published and keeping all of your profits and being conventionally published and keeping only a small royalty is the difference between a hobby which barely pays running costs and something which can make a small but real contribution to your finances.

The benefits of self-publishing

The biggest benefits, as far as I’m concerned, have been being able to market my books more vigorously and, as a result, seeing a substantial increase in sales and benefiting from the financial rewards of this and hence seeing a startling increase in the amount of cash generated.

There are other benefits as well. I was once at a meeting with several very successful historical writers (historical fiction is my main genre) and they complained that their well-known commercial publishers kept putting historically inappropriate covers on their books. I felt their pain – we writers spend ages trying to get the details of the novel historically correct to have a schoolboy howler on the front cover. Not if you are self-published! There may still be mistakes on my covers, but they are my own fault. I put a lot of work into researching some of the cover pictures and I’m very happy with the results.

For example, that map in the background of the cover of Burke in the Land of Silver isn’t just any old map of South America, but a map dating to the period when the book is set. (And the rather lovely knife was bought by me in Argentina.)

I doubt many people will notice these details, but they give me enormous satisfaction.

Having control over the details of what you write and how it is presented is very gratifying but there are practical benefits too. In the past, I have turned up at conferences and readings with books that cost me pretty much the same as I can sell them for. Now I can buy at a publisher discount which means I can make a profit if I do a personal appearance – which is nice. I get daily feedback (if I want it) on my sales and, of course, control of how much my books are advertised.

The problems with self-publishing

Of course all this control comes at a cost. The most obvious cost is money. I didn’t produce that cover myself – I had to pay somebody else to do it. I’ve been lucky in not having to pay for editorial services, but most people do have to and that they can set you back a lot. And that advertising that I used to complain my publishers didn’t do? It turns out that’s not cheap either.

Even more significant than the cost is the sheer amount of time and effort that goes into all this – formatting books for publication, briefing designers, sourcing those period maps, reading up on the theory behind advertising profitably on Amazon (and, trust me, if you don’t you will lose a lot of money). All these things eat into time and energy. There’s no doubt that if I wasn’t doing it I’d be writing more. But, against that, I’d be read less. I’d rather my ten books had a small but real market than that I had fifteen that were selling derisory numbers.

Advice to a would-be self-publisher

I’m not sure I’m really in a position to give advice. I’m not a famous author and I’m not rich. Besides that, an awful lot of this publishing business – as you probably realised from what I’ve written so far – is very emotional. I know people who just cannot promote their books. They find it almost physically painful. They can write a perfectly good 90,000 word novel but are incapable of putting down 280 characters in the tweet that explains why you might want to read a book by them. Play to your strengths. Go with what works.

At a practical level I suggest that you start with Amazon. Google KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) and follow the instructions that you will find that. Follow them precisely and make sure that you have time to discover your mistakes and correct them before your book meets the waiting world.

There is loads of advice, both paid for and free, on things like how to use social media (you’re going to have to, so get over it), through how to advertise (you don’t have to but it will help a lot), to making personal appearances, to how to write your book blurb. Lots of people know a lot more about this than me. 

Talk to friends who write. If you don’t have any friends who have published, get some – I really can’t emphasise that enough. In fact, the biggest benefit for me of being conventionally published was meeting other authors. They will be your support group. Be nice to them and they will be nice back.

I’ll make a quick plug here for the Historical Writers Association. If you are historical fiction writer, I really recommend this group. It’s incredibly accepting and friendly and being a member will make a difference. Membership fees are yet another unexpected cost of self-publishing, but, at least as far as the HWA is concerned, just pay. I’m also a member of the Society of Authors, which is – how shall I put this – slightly less inclusive and also quite expensive, but I learned the hard way that sometimes having people around who know the publishing scene better than you do is invaluable. I hear great things of the Alliance of Independent Authors and this might be a better choice.

Busy, busy, busy

Sue has suggested I tell you what’s ahead for 2021. Well, at the time of writing we’re just two months into 2021 and so far I’ve produced an audio book of my urban fantasy, Dark Magic and published another contemporary fantasy, Something Wicked and the latest in my series about the Napoleonic era spy, James Burke. 

In line with all the advice I’ve been giving, I’ve recently got back the rights to my trilogy set in the mid-19th century, the Williamson Papers. I’ll be republishing them over the summer, so that means new titles and three new marketing campaigns. This all means that the next James Burke book – a traditional spy thriller set in Paris and featuring the Empress Josephine – may be delayed for a while. It’s shaping up to be a lot of fun, though, so I hope it will be worth the wait.

Thank you so much for joining me on my blog today, Tom. I wish you lots of luck and success with your future projects!


James Burke: a spy in the age of Napoleon. Based on an actual spy and real history, this series is a painless way to learn about Napoleonic history while enjoying some very James Bond-esque adventures. Daring deeds, villainous foes and beautiful (and often deadly) women – what’s not to like? It’s history – but not the way you learned it at school.

Buy the Burke books here:

www.amazon.com/Tom-Williams/e/B001KDZDOY

Add to your To Be Read list here:

www.goodreads.com/author/show/238210.Tom_Williams


Burke at Waterloo

Description

‘There’s trouble in Paris. Bonapartists; plots; sedition. Wellesley needs a man who knows how to fit in. Find out what’s going on. That sort of thing.’

Napoleon is on Elba and Europe is at peace. But there’s no rest for James Burke, His Majesty’s Confidential Agent.

Burke’s mission starts in a bar in Montmartre as he infiltrates the group plotting to assassinate the Duke of Wellington and kill the French king.

Pursuing his most deadly foe yet, he moves from the slums of Paris to the aristocratic salons of Brussels until the final showdown on the field of Waterloo, as French and British armies clash in the defining battle of the age.


Burke in the Peninsula

Description

Things getting a bit messy in Spain. Lots of irregulars. Civilians joining in the fighting. That sort of thing. Wellesley needs all the help he can get. They need a man who can pass for a Spaniard. Someone who can make himself useful with the irregulars. Someone who is prepared to fight dirty if it gets things done.

1809 and Burke has barely returned from South America when he is sent off again, this time to join the war being waged by Spanish guerrillas against the French. It’s not long before he’s fighting for his life, but which of the Spaniards can he trust?

Burke faces new adversaries and finds old allies in a dramatic tale of adventure during the Peninsular War, set against the background of the bloody battle of Talavera.


Burke and the Bedouin

Description

Burke’s mission to watch out for French plots in Egypt is overtaken by events when Napoleon invades the country. On one side: a French army, 35,000 strong. On the other: James Burke and Bernadita, the Spanish woman he has saved from captivity in Cairo.

From the Battle of the Pyramids to Nelson’s victory on the Nile, James Burke’s adventures in Egypt find him at the eye of a desert storm. Can he frustrate French plans and get Bernadita safely out of country? And are the pigeons he had to carry to Alexandria going to be any help at all?

James Burke’s second adventure is set against the background of one of Napoleon’s less well-known campaigns.


Burke in the Land of Silver

Description

James Burke never set out to be a spy.

But with Napoleon rampaging through Europe, the War Office needs agents and Burke isn’t given a choice. It’s no business for a gentleman, and disguising himself as a Buenos Aires leather merchant is a new low.

Despite this, he falls in love with the country – and with the beautiful Ana. Burke wants both to forward British interests and to free Argentina from Spain. But his new found selflessness comes up against the realities of international politics. When the British invade, his attempts to parley between the rebels and their new rulers means every man’s hand is against him. Can he come out alive and still strike a blow against the French?


The John Williamson Papers

A rather more serious look at history through the eyes of a witness to British rule in the Far East. John Williamson’s travels see him fighting pirates, charging with Indian cavalrymen in the Indian Mutiny and meeting Karl Marx in London. At the same time he casts a critical eye over the values of the British Empire as he tries to find a place for himself in a world he despises. (A big advantage of self-publishing is that you can write stuff like this. Three major publishers expressed interest in these books before deciding they were “too difficult” for their lists.)
The books are being republished and will be available this summer.


Contemporary Urban Fantasy.

Dark Magic (a novella) and Something Wicked marked a change of genre for me. Both are tales of the supernatural. Dark Magic takes us into the world of Black Magic when a troupe of conjurors decides there are easier ways to impress audiences than constant practice. Something Wicked is a story of tango and vampires – two things that involve getting up close and personal late at night. Both are funny, but with definitely scary bits. (I think comedy horror doesn’t usually work, but according to my Amazon reviews it does here.)

Dark Magic

Description

Baby’s blood… Virgin’s tears… Chainsaws… It’s remarkable what some magicians keep back-stage.

Two magic shows: the Maestros of Magic touring the country, playing provincial theatres; the Carnival of Conjurors successful in the West End. When the Maestros learn that the Conjurors are using real magic – Black Magic – to do their tricks they decide that they must use their own, distinctly unmagical, stage skills to stop them. Soon people are dying on stage – but can the Maestros really beat a team that has the devil on their side?

A darkly humorous thriller by a writer who knows the world of magicians and stage magic.

Add Dark Magic to your To Be Read list here:

www.goodreads.com/book/show/48649806-dark-magic

Buy Dark Magic here:

www.amazon.com/dp/B07ZDGR23K?/geniuslink=true


Something Wicked

Description

* A peer of the realm dead in his study, his body drained of blood *

* A tango club where the Undead and the living dance together *

* A 500 year old policeman *

Are some crimes best left unsolved?


Read my Review of Something Wicked here

Add Something Wicked to your To Be Read list here:

www.goodreads.com/book/show/57140132-something-wicked

Buy Something Wicked Here:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08W2CYS68?geniuslink=true


Who’s Next on Indie Spotlight

Susana Imaginário

Susana Imaginário lives in Ireland with her husband and their extremely spoiled dog.
Her hobbies include reading, playing board games, hanging upside down, daydreaming around ancient ruins, talking to trees and being tired.
Her debut novel, Wyrd Gods, combines mythological fantasy with science fiction and psychology in a strange way.


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WWW Wednesday – 24th March 2021

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Taking on a World of Words, where you just answer three questions:

IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


What am I currently reading?

I am currently reading an advance review copy of In The Shadow of the Gods by John Gwynne and it is amazing!! Gwynne is known for his Viking style fantasy battles and great depth of characters and his latest book is in no way disappointing. This is the first book in his new trilogy The Bloodsworn.

Book Description

From acclaimed fantasy author John Gwynne comes the first in the Bloodsworn trilogy, an epic of wild lands and wilder magic, where not all monsters fight with tooth and claw…and the treasures of the gods come at a price.
This is the age of storm and murder.
After the old gods warred and drove themselves to extinction, the cataclysm of their fall shattered the land of Vigrio.
Now, power-hungry jarls carve out petty kingdoms, and monsters stalk the shadow-haunted woods and mountains. A world where the bones of the dead gods still hold great power, promising fame and fortune for those brave – or desperate – enough to seek them out.
As whispers of war echo over the plains and across the fjords, fate follows the footsteps of three people: a huntress searching for her missing son, a jarl’s daughter who has rejected privilege in pursuit of battle fame, and a thrall who has cast off his chains and now fights alongside the famed mercenaries known as the Bloodsworn.
All three will shape the fate of the world, as it once more teeters on the edge of chaos.


What did I just finish reading?

Not Cool – Europe by Train in a Heatwave by Jules Brown
I gave this book 5/5 stars. It is a witty and entertaining travel memoir, describing a rail journey undertaken by the author in Europe over the course of nine days.

Read my full review here.

Book Description

A laugh-out-loud train journey across Europe with a travel writer who should know better.

Inspired by the budget InterRail trips of his youth, veteran travel writer Jules Brown thought he’d try and visit 9 cities in 9 countries in 9 days. Sadly, that wasn’t his only mistake.

It soon turned into a hot and steamy adventure (no, steady on, not that kind) by rail across Europe, taking in Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Bratislava, Ljubljana, Zagreb, Liechtenstein, Zürich and Milan.

A tale of relaxing train rides to famous tourist destinations and guidebook sights? Not so much. All aboard for an offbeat travel adventure with a very funny writer seriously in danger of losing his cool.


I also read In The Orbit of Sirens by T. A .Bruno this week. I am taking part in a blog tour for this book on Friday so my review will be available then. There is a giveaway all this week which you can enter here!

Book Description

THE LAST FRAGMENTS OF THE HUMAN RACE ARE FORCED TO ADAPT TO A DANGEROUS NEW WORLD OR FACE EXTINCTION.
When starship mechanic, Denton Castus, is caught in the destructive path of a devastating war, he abandons his home and seeks refuge on a distant planet. However, this new safe haven has undiscovered threats of its own. Eliana Veston, a scout preparing the planet for the refugees, struggles with a deadly pandemic that is killing off colonists. The hunt for a cure unleashes a new threat to humanity-the Sirens-mysterious beings with incredible powers and a deep hatred for invaders.


What will I read next?

I have another Blog Tour coming up on March 29th for The Place Below by Dan Fitzgerald. This is the final book in a trilogy, which I have been looking forward to , having read and reviewed the previous two books.

My review of Hollow Road by Dan Fitzgerald

My review of The Archive by Dan Fitzgerald

Book Description

It’s been twenty-five years since the Battle for the Archive. Peace reigns over the Silver Hills, and humans and Maer are preparing to sign their first trade agreement. Even warring tribes of the Free Maer have set aside old quarrels. Sasha is a young scholar of mixed Maer and human parentage, traveling throughout the Maer lands collecting stories of the Ka-lar, the buried Forever Kings. She finds a reference in the Archive to a Ka-lar named Kuun, a scholar in life, who was laid down in an ancient brightstone mine, beneath a mountain said to be the home of the fabled Skin Maer. The lure of the tale is too strong to resist. Joined by some old friends, Sasha sets out to uncover secrets that have lain buried for over a thousand years. In The Place Below, the Maer Cycle comes to a close as the darkest mysteries of the Maer are at last brought into the light.


Not Cool – Europe by Train in a Heatwave by Jules Brown

Book Description

A laugh-out-loud train journey across Europe with a travel writer who should know better.

Inspired by the budget InterRail trips of his youth, veteran travel writer Jules Brown thought he’d try and visit 9 cities in 9 countries in 9 days. Sadly, that wasn’t his only mistake.

It soon turned into a hot and steamy adventure (no, steady on, not that kind) by rail across Europe, taking in Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Bratislava, Ljubljana, Zagreb, Liechtenstein, Zürich and Milan.

A tale of relaxing train rides to famous tourist destinations and guidebook sights? Not so much. All aboard for an offbeat travel adventure with a very funny writer seriously in danger of losing his cool.


My Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review – thank you Jules!

Jules Brown has been a travel writer for many years, with train travel being his favourite mode of exploration. This began when he went Interrailing at the age of 18 in the early 1980s. The experiences he described from that particular time had me reminiscing about my own Interrailing trip in the Summer of 1988 and some of the escapades my friend Nicky and I got ourselves involved in.

The tone of Not Cool is delightfully entertaining and amusing. The author clearly has a good sense of humour and keeps his tongue firmly in cheek when describing such frustrations as the Italian obsession with bureaucracy; Swedish politeness and the Swiss cost of living.

The journey described in Not Cool is another European multi-destination trip. One Spring over a bottle of wine, Jules hatches a plan for a nine-day train ride through as many cities and countries as possible. The itinerary he decides upon is: Berlin to Prague, Vienna, Bratislava, Ljubljana, Zagreb, Liechtenstein, Zürich and Milan.

The Dragon Bridge in Ljubljana – photo from TripAdvisor

Unfortunately 2019, the year of his trip turns out to be the year of a ridiculously hot Summer heatwave in Europe. The heat on arrival in Berlin immediately takes him by surprise:

Picture a red-faced, glistening man who looks like he’s just eaten a vindaloo and dipped himself in lard, wading in slow-motion through treacle-like air while carrying a bag full of clothes more suited to a winter ski holiday. Imagine, if you will, a heavy-breathing, rucksack-carrying gent moving with all the sprightly ease of a prison escapee hobbled by ankle chains and negotiating a muddy field. Yep, that’s me.

During this memoir of his trip, Jules delivers snippets of historical knowledge about the places he visits, a wealth of tourist information and travel tips, all delivered with witty repartee. Along the way we learn his opinion on drunken Slovenian men on trains, hipsters and so much more:

If they ever build a prison for hipsters – to house the worst of the wax-moustachioed, craft-beer-brewing, kombucha-drinking, bicycle-riding, avocado-toasting, plaid-scarf-wearing offenders – this is what it will look like.

Hundertwasserhaus – Photo by Carl-Jürgen Bautsch

His choices for places to visit are unexpected. He goes to see the cartoonish Hundertwasser house in Vienna rather than the more usual palaces or town hall. Leonardo da Vinci’s vineyard in Milan is his choice, over  the famous “The Last Supper” painting. In Bratislava he visits Petrazalka, the largest housing estate of its kind and discovers it is nothing like the Bronx as he first thought, there is no stigma attached to living there – it’s just somewhere to live.

Jules’ description of train travel is a romantic one. It is clear that he loves railway journeys: 

Stations and towns recede into the distance – places you’ll likely never go, filled with people you’ll likely never meet, though connected to you briefly as you pass through, tracing an imaginary line on a landscape you’re both in and of, if just for a little while.

One of his tour guides, has this to say: 

“After a tour”, says Juro, “you should feel like you’ve been driving around with a bunch of friends.”

I think the same can be said of reading Jules’s book. I feel like I have been traveling around Europe on trains with a new, entertainingly witty friend. Highly recommended for travel fans, Europhiles and people fed up with being stuck at home right now!


About the Author

I took my first solo trip around Europe when I was seventeen, and I’ve been travelling and writing professionally since I published my first travel guide – to Scandinavia – in 1988. Since then I’ve eaten a puffin in Iceland, got stuck up a mountain in the Lake District, crash-landed in Iran, fallen off a husky sled in Canada, and got stranded on a Mediterranean island. Not all of those things were my fault. You can read about my travelling life in my memoir, Takoradi to the Stars (via Huddersfield).

I wrote Rough Guide travel books for over thirty years, but now that I no longer have to copy down bus timetables for a living I don’t really know what to do with myself. So I come up with ridiculous ideas for trips and then write about them, which is where my 9-city, 9-day, 9-country trip came from – that’s covered in Not Cool: Europe by Train in a Heatwave.

I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up.

You can find out more about me and my books at my publishing website, www.trustmetravel.com.

I also blog at www.julestoldme.com, sharing travel stories, travel-writing tips, videos and inspiring destinations – see you there, and happy travels.


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First Lines Fridays – March 19th 2021

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by @Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines? If you want to make your own post, just follow the rules below:

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

I am currently reading and thoroughly enjoying this Indie SciFi book. I am taking part in a blog tour for this book later this month through the amazing StoryTellers on Tour.

“FOLLOW ME,” ELIANA VESTON said, taking measured breaths as she walked through the forest. “It’s just through here.” She wiped dew away from the soothreader device on her wrist, watching the satellite image display their location in the space above her gloved hand. The air hissed inside the helmet of her atmospheric suit as she breathed in the purified oxygen.


And the book is:

Book Description

THE LAST FRAGMENTS OF THE HUMAN RACE ARE FORCED TO ADAPT TO A DANGEROUS NEW WORLD OR FACE EXTINCTION.

When starship mechanic, Denton Castus, is caught in the destructive path of a devastating war, he abandons his home and seeks refuge on a distant planet. However, this new safe haven has undiscovered threats of its own. Eliana Veston, a scout preparing the planet for the refugees, struggles with a deadly pandemic that is killing off colonists. The hunt for a cure unleashes a new threat to humanity—the Sirens—mysterious beings with incredible powers and a deep hatred for invaders.


Look out for my review of this book here on my blog on March 26th.


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Cover Reveal! Windborn by Alex S. Bradshaw – March 18th 2021

Today I am taking part in the Storytellers on Tour Cover Reveal for what looks like it will be an exciting tale of a Viking shield maiden with supernatural abilities. I can’t wait to read this one! Thank you to Justine and Timy for having me along on the reveal!


Author Information

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 works in publishing and has turned his hand to making epic stories of his own.

Author Links

Website: www.alexsbradshaw.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AlexSBradshaw 
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/alexsbradshaw/ 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AlexSBradshaw
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/alexsbradshaw


Book Information

Windborn by Alex S. Bradshaw
Series: Windborn (#1)
Expected Publication: April 28, 2021
Genre: Dark Fantasy
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57353928-windborn
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08YDTKZ5K
Cover Art: Raph Herrera Lomotan (https://www.artstation.com/raphlomotan)
Cover Design: Shawn T King at STK Kreations (http://stkkreations.com/)

And now – without further ado – here’s the epic looking cover!!

Edda Grettasdottir certainly looks like a badass Viking shield maiden! This is definitely something I would like to read.


Book Description

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.

Get your copy of Windborn now to hear Edda’s epic tale!
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08YDTKZ5K

Praise for Windborn:

“On the surface a novel about superhero Vikings, Windborn is a triumph of storytelling that isn’t afraid to pull your heart out of your chest, kick it about the frost-coated battlefield, and then shove it back in again, expecting you to still be able to use it properly.
With this impressive debut, Alex Bradshaw has firmly established himself as a fantasy author worth paying attention to.”

– Benedict Patrick, author of the Yarnsworld and Darkstar novels.


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