Hello lovelies! I’m very excited to have an excerpt from new release Amalie by EJ Woods as part of the first ever blog tour organised by Zoé over at Zooloo’s book tours! First a little about the book:
Title: Amalie by EJ Wood
Date Published: 15th April 2021
Publisher: Question Mark Press
Genre: Historical Thriller
HEY MURDERED FAMILIES THE FUHRER CANNOT PROTECT THEM NOW
It’s not wise to murder the family of a budding assassin. Created by Auschwitz, her skill is honed by revenge.
A very different type of serial killer is loose in 1950s Europe. In Britain, a Brotherhood of powerful men takes notice and enhances the expertise and artistry of a killer.
DCI John Owen was born to serve. Recruited by MI6, he tracks an accomplished executioner whose love of luxury and the arts is second only to the love of watching an early death come to those who truly deserve it.
Join the chase. Then ask yourself… Can there ever be only one winner?
Wiesenthal without a doubt was soon on the rise to becoming one of the most famous Nazi hunters the world would ever see. A survivor of Mauthausen, he began to dedicate his life in the war crimes section of the United States Army gathering evidence to convict German war criminals. He wasn’t about to let anyone who had committed the crimes against humanity just walk away.
Another such man was called Hanns Alexander. Although Alexander was born in Germany during World War 1 into an assimilated wealthy household, his Jewish family had fled to Britain when Hitler’s rise to power threatened his family. His father was a popular doctor who was known to hold elaborate parties for the social elite including Albert Einstein. After the war ended, Alexander was one of the first volunteers wanting to investigate war-related crimes. A deep-seated rage fuelled his interest, and he’d drive around Europe with a dead Nazi strapped to his car. Amalie smiled as she recalled the memory when she read about his mission, she felt it far more interesting than the capture of Rudolf Höss; the exact details are unknown but he was either beaten by Jewish soldiers or forced to walk naked along a snowy road. However his fate ended, it wasn’t enough, and later he was taken into custody and hanged a short while later.
William looked into Amalie’s eyes. ‘What will you do when you have completed your quota?’
Hello lovelies! Today I have an excerpt from Pixeldust by T.K. Arispe as part of the blog tour organised by Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources. First a little about the book:
Title: Pixeldust by T. K. Arispe
Date Published: 20th July 2020
Genre: NA Urban science fantasy
Maria Elena thought she’d sworn off gaming forever. But she hates her new internship, so her brother Balt convinces her to play Heroes of Avonell, a cutting-edge virtual-reality video game with such complex programming that it’s like the non-player characters are self-aware.
Disappointed with the usual cliché job class offerings, Maria Elena’s character Quinny stumbles through a glitch in the game and ends up in Caed Dhraos, a strange city populated with friendly monsters. Quinny decides to work for the resident dark lord as part of his magic personnel, but she can’t tell anybody she’s playing in off-limits areas of the game—not even Balt. Soon Quinny finds herself getting to the bottom of a mystery surrounding an ancient demon and why Caed Dhraos is suffering from the Blight.
But the artificial intelligences in the game really are self-aware, and some of Avonell’s so-called “heroes” have decided they don’t like humanity very much. The game has gone out of control, and Maria Elena and her new friends have to find a way to set things right. Can she save Avonell – and Earth – while juggling her real job and trying to salvage her crumbling relationship with her brother?
Pixeldust is a dive into a fantastical, fun virtual world where the universe may be made of data, but the dangers, friendships, magic, and lessons learned are very real.
Intro: In the MMO Heroes of Avonell, Maria Elena’s player character Quinny has just taken a job working as a lucent mage under the mysterious Lord Zaragoz, in an area of the game Quinny isn’t sure she’s supposed to be in. When Zaragoz’s fortress staff discovers Quinny has pixiedust, she finds out what pixiedust is used for in the dismal city of Caed Dhraos.
As they walked through dimly-lit corridors and down several flights of stairs, the architecture looking much more primitive than the rest of the fortress, Quinny felt an odd sense of foreboding fall over her. She shuddered and had to remind herself that this was just a game and she wasn’t in any real danger. Still, something felt off, in a bad way, and it set her on edge.
“What is this place?” she asked, and the darkness seemed to choke her words as they hit the air.
“The oldest part of the fortress,” Zaragoz said. “Most of what you’ve seen so far, my subjects and I built up after we found this place. It was once just an abandoned ruin. We never did find out who had lived here before.”
Finally they reached a corridor that dead-ended at a wall with a faded mural painted on it. As Quinny approached, she inspected the ancient pigmentation, trying to figure out what she was looking at and why it filled her with such terror, like a nightmare. It appeared to be a painting of a black mass with shadowy tendrils that curled out to fill all the space on the wall. In the middle of the mass sat a gaping round maw ringed with sharp teeth.
Zaragoz stood in front of the mural and held up the dust vessel. “Shargothi!” he said. “I bring you pixiedust!”
The mural pulsed with power, and Quinny’s feelings of dread heightened. It was almost enough to make her want to log off of the game, and she wondered why a video game would make her feel so unsettled. It wasn’t real, after all. So why did it suddenly feel so real?
Black mist began to leach from the wall. It was subtle and weak, and seemed to strain as if trying to get more of itself out. A sound like thousands of whispers filled the air, and Quinny found she didn’t want to hear what they were saying.
Two vaporous tendrils latched on to the dust vessel. The top of the vial started to glow, and the sparkling pixiedust coursed out of the vessel and through the tendrils, into the wall. A noise like a satisfied sigh filled the heavy air, and then the black mist withdrew and the wall fell dormant.
“Shargothi thanks you,” Zaragoz said as he gave Quinny back her dust vessel.
The dwarf fastened it to her belt with trembling hands, wondering why she felt ill all of a sudden. “Wh-what was that?” she asked.
“The demon Shargothi,” Rin said. She tried to sound nonchalant, but she shifted her weight as her tufted tail swished nervously.
“Don’t let Shargothi frighten you,” Zaragoz said as they walked back to the lift. “She is benevolent. Someone sealed her away down here long ages ago. When my subjects and I found these ruins and decided to call them home, I discovered Shargothi. I needed her help to build Caed Dhraos back up into a suitable kingdom, but she could not utilize her full power in her weakened state, and required nearly all of our pixiedust to aid us.”
“Is that why you don’t have any pixiedust?” Quinny asked as they boarded the lift again.
“Not quite,” Zaragoz said. “Pixies used to live here in abundance. But when we’d gotten Caed Dhraos up and running, the land began to wither and die. All of the pixies left. We called it the Blight, and none of our magic or engineering could cure it. In fact, lately it’s been getting worse and those chaos beasts have been cropping up.”
“I’m sorry,” Quinny said. “I wish I could do something to help.”
The dark lord looked down at her in surprise, and then he smiled. “It’ll be all right,” he said. “Shargothi told me that she can cure the land. But she’ll need much more pixiedust to do so. So I thank you for your donation.”
About The Author:
T. K. Arispe is an illustrator, gamer, and unashamed nerd with a background in animation and webcomic production, including the webcomic Trainer Wants to Fight! which somehow got its own page on TVTropes. She loves interesting stories, well-crafted worlds, and memorable characters, and is passionate about creating quality, intelligent, slightly offbeat media that everyone can enjoy. Most of her story ideas come from random research binges, usually in the fields of theoretical physics, computer science, or oddly enough food history. She lives in California, where she enjoys not having to deal with snow because it is terrifying.
Hello lovelies! Today I have an excerpt from Captain Clive’s Dreamworld by Jon Bassoff as part of the blog tour organised by Emma at Damppebbles blog tours.First a little about the book:
Title: Captain Clive’s Dreamworld by Jon Bassoff
Publisher: Eraserhead Press
Date Published: 1st October 2020
After becoming the suspect in the death of a young woman, Deputy Sam Hardy is reassigned to the town of Angels and Hope, which, within its borders, holds the once magnificent amusement park, Captain Clive’s Dreamworld. When he arrives, however, Hardy notices some strange happenings. The park is essentially empty of customers. None of the townsfolk ever seem to sleep. And girls seem to be going missing with no plausible explanation. As Hardy begins investigating, his own past is drawn into question by the town, and he finds himself becoming more and more isolated. The truth—about the town and himself—will lead him to understand that there’s no such thing as a clean escape.
He drove for five, six hours across a relentlessly barren landscape dotted by tumbleweed, the sun shining cruelly, the highway cracked and discolored. Vehicles appeared every so often and then less often and then barely at all. The radio played hazy country music that became more and more frightening; eventually, he turned it off. Silence except for his own disjointed thoughts. He reached into the console for some beef jerky, the first food he’d eaten that day, tearing open the bag and chewing slowly, all the while staring out the dust-coated windshield. Gripping the steering wheel tightly, he felt like he was the only person in the world. Then, for a quick moment, he squeezed his eyes shut. None of this was real, he decided. Dreamworld. He was just drifting, drifting, drifting…
North on Highway 23 the directions said, sixty miles until Angels and Hope, but Highway 23 was in bad shape. The letters on the old sign were barely visible beneath the rust, and the asphalt was covered with dirt and shrubs and tumbleweed. He thought about turning around, driving until the world ended, but he needed the job, needed the money, so he pressed down on the gas pedal and crossed over a gully, the bottom of his car scraping against brush. As he drove down the nearly abandoned highway, he couldn’t help but think that things would end poorly.
His car was bouncing all over the place, and the sun never seemed to lower in the sky. Fifty, sixty, seventy miles per hour. Along the side of the beaten two-lane, there were occasional remnants of the past: a boarded-up motel, an abandoned gas station, a broken-down car. Soon the asphalt of the highway became harder and harder to see, becoming, instead, a dying garden. A murder of crows followed his car, and he heard the disquieting yelps of a coyote. His hands were trembling, sweat dribbling into his eyes. The air conditioner wasn’t worth shit, and that was the way of the world. The farther Hardy drove, the more he saw her face, and the only way he could rid himself of it was by gritting his teeth until his jaw and temples ached.
Desperate, face slathered with perspiration, Hardy turned the radio back on, hoping for something familiar. Now static, static, static. But at the end of the AM dial, the faint voice of a preacher: “Offer, brothers and sisters. Offer up what is most valuable and precious. Because only then will he offer to you what is most valuable and precious. A reading from Genesis 22: ‘Isaac said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together. When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.’ Thus, with Abraham’s knife pressed to Isaac’s throat, the reading ends. Now we know, brothers and sisters, that God’s angels eventually rescued Isaac from this terrible fate. But I am here to tell you that the rescue is less important than Abraham’s unswerving trust. He was willing to kill his own son because of that trust. And you must be willing to do the same. You must be willing to sacrifice that which means the most to you. For in this selfless act, you will be rewarded. But if you are selfish, if you hide your loved ones in the attic or help them escape in tunnels beneath the desert floor, your squirming bodies will be placed in the Lake of Fire, pockets filled with stones…”
Hardy slammed off the radio, and despite the straightness of the highway the world seemed to be spinning, flashes of his past mixed with flickers of his present, his future vanished forever. Images of crows in the steeple and fire on the highway and rats in his skull. And his own voice, mumbling into his hand: the sins aren’t mine, they’ve never been mine.
And that’s when Angels and Hope appeared.
Just beyond an old-fashioned water tower emblazoned with the words “Dreamers Dream” stood a tall, shiny white fence, and beyond this fence the desert ended and the Promised Land began. A place where neighbors greet neighbors in the quiet of summer twilight. Where children chase fireflies. Where porch swings provide easy refuge from the cares of the day. Why, then, was Hardy saddled with the premonition that this was where he’d burn?
About The Author:
Jon Bassoff was born in 1974 in New York City and currently lives with his family in a ghost town somewhere in Colorado. His mountain gothic novel, Corrosion, has been translated in French and German and was nominated for the Grand Prix de Litterature Policiere, France’s biggest crime fiction award. Two of his novels, The Drive-Thru Crematorium and The Disassembled Man, have been adapted for the big screen with Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild; Once Upon a Time in America) attached to star in The Disassembled Man. For his day job, Bassoff teaches high school English where he is known by students and faculty alike as the deranged writer guy. He is a connoisseur of tequila, hot sauces, psychobilly music, and flea-bag motels.
Hello lovelies! Today I have an exclusive extract from the latest book by Jay Raven, The Lazarus Child, as part of the blog tour organised by Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources but first a little about the book:
Title: The Lazarus Child (Blood Riders 3) by Jay Raven
Date Published: 28th January 2021
Genre: Historical Horror
To save his missing daughter a distraught slayer must venture deep into the heart of darkness
Legendary vampire hunter Anton Yoska is on the edge, tormented by the rumour that the precious child he once thought dead is still alive and lost in a world of monsters.
One creature alone knows for sure what happened to Gretchen, but Terek Modjeski won’t divulge his secret – revelling in the twisted power over his long-time foe.
Despairing and drinking heavily, Anton stumbles from near disaster to near disaster as he puts his team in jeopardy, testing their friendship and loyalty to snapping point.
Only one diabolical solution is possible – to confront Terek in his maximum security cell and force the bloodsucker to end his game of cat and mouse. But making the cunning infernal talk will mean employing brutal methods that go against every code Anton has ever lived by, forcing him to become as much of a demon as the leeches he hunts.
Face to face with the evil, taunting vampire, the desperate slayer takes a decision that will change his destiny forever – sending him hurtling into danger to confront a terrifying truth about his lost child that risks not only his sanity but the future of mankind.
You can buy your copy here:
In this extract Crown Princess Stephanie, wife of Transylvania’s tyrant ruler Leopold, is unhappy about having to attend a reception at the Russian embassy. But she has darker worries too…
Stephanie had also, to her chagrin, lost the argument about not using the hideous golden coronation coach to transport them there.
It had been delivered from the city museum an hour before and, as she swished across her dressing room and peered down from the window, she saw that it was currently sitting in the palace courtyard, being polished to a state of gleaming vulgarity under the illumination of a line of flaring torches.
Leopold’s family had never had what might be described as refinement, and the coach’s ostentatious wedding cake design was testament to their predilection for grandiose gestures.
She also noticed a lone figure wandering about the carriage in awe, the young man approaching it tentatively but not quite bringing himself to touch the gilt coachwork. He seemed lost, bewildered, and she found herself feeling sympathy for him.
“Isn’t it beautiful?” Berta blurted, pressing her nose up to the glass. “Just like something from a fairy tale.”
Stephanie agreed, but the maid’s observation made her uncomfortable. The young man was barely older than a child, and in the fairy-tales that her grandmother had told her – the old, terrifying, traditional tales, not the modern, sanitised happily ever after versions – terrible things happened to children, fate being no protector of innocents.
“Ready?” Leopold’s voice broke into her foreboding. “It’s time we were off. I want to be fashionably late, but not one minute later.”
She narrowed her eyes, as she studied her husband framed in the doorway, modelling his full state ceremonial outfit with a swagger and poise that just managed to stay on the right side of ridiculous.
He’d have been truly handsome but for one small detail – the sly look he was unsuccessfully attempting to hide.
“I’m not going,” she declared.
He breathed in heavily. “I thought we’d sorted this out,” he said wearily. “I have no choice but to attend.”
“But I DO have a choice,” she pointed out. “And I’m not moving from this spot until you tell me what is going on with that bewildered-looking boy down there. What are you up to? Just what are you scheming?”
She could see him weighing up the consequences of refusing to answer, then considering a fabrication that would placate her.
“And don’t lie to me,” she warned. “I always know when you are playing fast and loose with the truth.”
His pained sigh told her that she’d won.
His explanation moments later made her wish she hadn’t.
About The Author –
Jay Raven is the author of Gothic chillers and historical horror reminding readers that the past is a dangerous place to venture, full of monsters and murderous men. He blames his fascination with vampires, witches and werewolves on the Hammer Horror films he watched as a teenager, but living in a creepy old house on the edge of a 500-acre wood may have something to do with it.
Hello lovelies! Today on my blog, I have an exclusive excerpt from Ray Britain’s latest novel Forgotten Lives as part of the blog tour organised by Emma at Damppebbles Blog tours but first a little about the book:
Title: Forgotten Lives by Ray Britain
Date Published: 10th January 2021
Genre: Police Procedural
A man is murdered with quiet efficiency on his doorstep. A strange emblem left behind suggests a gang killing but when more bodies are found with the same emblem, and one of them a cop, DCI Doug Stirling’s investigation takes a sinister turn.
But what linked the victims in life, and now in death?
When more deaths are uncovered, miles away and years apart, but all with the same emblem left behind, pressure mounts on Stirling. Is it the work of the same person? If so, why are they killing again, and why here? One thing is clear. The killer is highly skilled, ruthless, and always one step ahead of the investigation. Is someone feeding information to them?
Working in a crippling heatwave with too few investigators, too many questions and not enough answers, when wild media speculation of a vigilante at work sparks copycat attacks, demonstrations for justice and with politicians fearing riots, Stirling needs a result – fast!
Meanwhile, Stirling’s private life is falling apart, not helped when Lena Novak of the National Crime Agency is assigned to his team. But is she all that she seems? Things could not get worse. Stirling takes a call from a retired cop. Things just got worse!
As Stirling closes in on the killer he finds the killer’s trademark inside his home – he is being targeted.
The rider’s eyes flinched warily as the door was opened by a woman. Behind her, a floodtide of music tumbled and cursed its way down the stairs to join battle with noise blaring from a half-open door at the far end of the hallway. The air around them pulsed under the throb of a penetrating bass beat.
Unable to hear the rider speak, the woman shook her head and walked to the foot of the stairs where she drew in a deep breath and hurled her words upwards, ‘’Wayne! Turn that bloody music down!’
The music continued.
She looked at the delivery rider, rolled her eyes and shouted harshly down the hallway. ‘Mickey! It’s a pizza delivery. You ordered pizzas?’
There was no answer, and no one appeared.
With a hissed obscenity she turned and left the helmeted rider standing at the door, two pizza cartons resting in the crook of an arm, as she walked barefoot along the hallway where she pushed open the door. A fresh blast of excited screams from a television show swept along the hallway and pushed past the rider, out into the street.
The rider glanced back down the driveway, concerned that the noise might draw the attention of neighbours or a passer-by.
An aggressive exchange of words was followed by the appearance of a broad-shouldered man in an open-neck shirt drawn tight over his muscled bulk. Around his neck hung a heavy gold chain, half-hidden amongst a mat of dark curly hair. He glared belligerently at the leather-clad figure in the porch, tossed an abusive remark at the woman and swaggered towards the door with the bow-shouldered gait of a body builder.
Mickey McBride stood in front of the delivery rider and stared hard into the flat, impenetrable eyes that gazed at him from behind the half-raised visor of the crash helmet.
‘Who are you?’ demanded McBride, aggressively. ‘I ain’t order no pizzas!’
Balancing the boxes on one arm, the rider held up a delivery note as explanation.
‘I only delivers them mate. Two pizzas for a Mickey McBride at this address, all paid for. That you?’
Behind McBride, the woman leant against the door frame, watching the television while glancing occasionally towards the front door until a roar of laughter drew her into the room and out of sight. Seemingly oblivious to the noise around him, McBride’s nostrils flared at the smell of hot cheese and spiced meats. He swallowed instinctively as his eyes slid greedily to the boxes.
‘Paid for, you say?’ he demanded, and looked back at the eyes above the neckerchief.
The rider nodded, tucked the delivery slip into a pocket of the leather jacket and held the boxes out for McBride to take.
McBride gave a sly grin. ‘Well, seems a shame to let ‘em go to waste,’ and put out his hands to receive the boxes. As he did so his eyes narrowed suspiciously, and he peered over the motor-cyclist’s shoulder.
‘Ain’t you a bit old to be delivering pizzas? Where’s your bike?’
The rider let the boxes tilt forwards. Instinctively, McBride grabbed for his falling prize with both hands.
He barely saw the rider’s right hand strike upwards. Barely registered the blow to his ribs as thin, cold steel parted flesh and muscle to pierce his heart, where it was deftly twisted, then withdrawn with a soft, sucking noise.
McBride did feel an explosion of pain fill his chest. The immediate, overwhelming loss of control. Still clutching the boxes, he gulped fish-like for air that would not come and fell to his knees. The rider bent forward and spoke into the dying man’s ear.
Bewildered, McBride looked up into the blue eyes studying him with a cold detachment. A faint glimmer of recognition flickered briefly in McBride’s eyes but was extinguished as his ruined heart emptied, and he pitched forward across the threshold of his home.
The helmeted figure stepped aside and stared down the hall, the knife ready. The woman was still out of sight. Another swell of noise washed down the hallway and over the prone body, smothering the soft snap of a blade being returned to its concealed sheath.
The rider pulled down the visor, turned, and walked away. Nearby, a motorcycle was started quietly and slowly ridden away.
A woman’s scream tore the air.
If that has piqued your interest, you can buy your copy here:
Ray Britain’s second novel ‘Forgotten Lives’ follows closely on from ‘The Last Thread’ (2017) with a new investigation for DCI Doug Stirling, the toughest of his career.
As a police Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) Ray led specialist investigations. He was also a Hostage & Crisis Intervention Negotiator – a voluntary role – responding to hostage situations, many firearms incidents and numerous suicide interventions, not all of which ended happily. His roles took him to the USA, India, Europe, Australia and elsewhere, receiving Commendations in recognition for his work.
Ray’s real-world experience puts the reader at the heart of a complex, fast moving investigation with all of its uncertainties, stresses and frustrations, and of the dark, bitter sadness’s of people’s lives.
Ray also worked with the Serious Fraud Office and the Home Office, London, and with the City of London Police’s Economic Crime Directorate.
When not writing, Ray might be found mountain hiking, following rugby, skiing, reading, sailing, or generally keeping fit..
So today I have a long time supporter of my blog and all round lovely author David Ellis Overttun for a very special guest post which includes an excerpt from his upcoming novel Mirror in time which is the fourth book in the Terra Nova series which will be released this year. Now over to David:
I first met LJ when I used to be on Twitter. (I have now turned that over to my wife, Natasha.) At the time, I was a totally unknown author. How would I know? When I did a search of “Overttun”, I would get “Do you mean: overturn” — period. I can proudly say that now I am a relatively unknown author. Do the same search now, and you get the same “Do you mean: overturn”. But, now at least, there are some search results. How will I know when I’m known? When I just get the search results. (Do a search for “rowling”. You don’t get “Do you mean: rowing”. Although, I bet there was a time when you did.)
LJ is the poster child for open minded and supportive. With all the great books and authors out there, who would give someone just starting out a second glance? She is also the reason why my covers are so sharp. During our correspondence, after I finished my first book, Universe: Awakening, she said (and I’m paraphrasing), “you might want to get a more eye-catching cover.” Being charitable was an understatement. So, I turned that part of the book over to Natasha, and we’ve gone from…
What a difference!
With all that’s been going on in the world right now, I’ve been finding it hard to set aside the time to finish my 4th book, Mirror in Time. I’ve been doing some ARC guest posts of some of the opening chapters to put pressure on me to finish. LJ has been so kind to assist me in this kick-in-the-pants endeavor with this guest post. So, many thanks! (Also, an FYI. It’s working. Just before Xmas, I sat down and wrote about half of chapter 12 of the paperback version. Only 2-½ chapters to go!)
* * * * *
Our story so far…
As night falls, a transport flies toward a towering mountain range. Stars that should fill the sky are obscured by a random patchwork of contrails.
AV Sundog comes under attack tantalizingly close to its destination and, its lone passenger, Prefect Godvina, is now recovering in the Observatory’s medical facilities. While she has not sustained any physical injuries, the stress caused by the evasive maneuvers have caused her aura to contract. The attending physician expects she will return to normal in a few days, but an individual known as the “Advisor” draws attention to the emotional impact of her current condition. The Director of the Observatory agrees, but his concern seems to go beyond the clinical interest of the two medical professionals. This is personal. Just how personal is revealed when he turns his scrutiny to the pilot of the atmospheric vehicle, Agent Thalia, exiling her and the two escort pilots, call signs: Avenger and Golden Boy, from the facility.
Before departing, Thalia goes to a bar known as “No Man’s Land” to take the edge off. There, she meets Avenger and Golden Boy. They advise her they need to file a report of the incident. And now, ARC eChapter 2: “History”.
* * * * *
Godvina opened her eyes. Her vision was blurred, and all she could make out was fuzzy pale-gold light. She was stiff and sore. “Where am I?” she thought. Her first answer would have been AV Sundog. The last thing she remembered was passing out during an inverted dive. But she was now in a reclined position lying on what she could only assume was a bed. Her vision slowly began to clear. She was in a medical capsule.
A holographic cover receded to either side. Around her was dimly illuminated, and there was a pale-gold light off to her right.
“My love!” Jo’el said as he rushed to her side. He grasped her hand and kissed it. “You are awake. Raise light. How do you feel?”
The room gradually became illuminated with simulated daylight at a rate that matched the ability of her eyes to adjust.
“I…I am fine. I guess. What am I doing here?”
“You came under attack.”
“Yes, that is the preliminary report from Agent Thalia. You appear to have passed out during her evasive maneuvers.”
“Now, I remember! That bitch went out of her way to do this to me! Maneuvers my ass!”
As she rose to get out of the capsule, she noticed her aura. “What happened to my corona?!”
“Dr. Kyros says it has retracted…”
“But it is only temporary. A few days at most.”
“A few days?!”
“Please, my love, calm yourself.”
“I will show you calm!” She stood and faced him, her full, thick, strawberry-red hair cascading on her shoulders. Her piercing blue eyes were malevolently transfixed on him.
“How is that?” she said with stone-cold calm.
“Very calm.” Jo’el had seen this many times before. He had learned to stay out of her way until the storm had passed.
“Clothing. Computer, link with Agent Thalia, voice-only.”
A section of one of the walls, the height of a closet, opened into the room.
“Where are my clothes?”
“They are in laundry services.”
“Emergency notification. Why are they there?”
“Well…they were a bit…”
Then, she remembered and erupted with a howl of anger.
“Unable to link with Agent Thalia. Her nexus appears to be nonoperational.”
“Fucking coward! Computer, current location, Agent Thalia.”
“Agent Thalia has just departed Building K, Chi Mesa.”
“Godvina, you cannot leave looking like this.”
She turned and faced him with a look that sent a chill up his spine. Then, something quite unexpected happened.
“Mirror, full length,” he quickly said. “Look, you are back to normal.”
“So, I can leave?” she asked sarcastically.
“Yes, yes, of course.”
“Good. Get me something to wear!”
* * * * *
The three agents made their way to a secure room, a hardened location buried deep in the mesa protected by biometric security, anti-surveillance measures and sensors to detect changes in air quality and temperature.
“Agents Mica’el, Gabri’el and Thalia with a secure link to Prefect Tarsus,” Mica’el said.
Tarsus was the prefect at the Ministry of Defense and Security in charge of intelligence and their direct superior. They each stood at attention and bowed as his hologram appeared before them.
“Good even to you,” he said, returning their bows. “Report.”
“I have safely transported Prefect Godvina to the designated terminus. However, it was not without incident. It has resulted in some complications.”
“As per our orders, Gabri’el and I provided covert escort. En route, we encountered six Gendu AVs, fighter class,” Mica’el replied.
“They appear to be a new, more advanced design, able to penetrate military-grade camouflage,” Thalia said. Then, something occurred to her. “How is it they were unable to see you?” she asked, looking at Mica’el. “As a matter of fact, how is it I was unable to see you?”
“Let us just say that some adjustments were made to reduce the effectiveness of your instrumentation before you left for Jomo,” Tarsus interjected unapologetically.
“We were bait?! And you said nothing?!” she exclaimed, giving Mica’el then Gabri’el a dirty-look.
“Come, come, Thalia,” Tarsus said with a smile, “you know things such as this come with the territory. Your callsign is ‘Wind Goddess’, is it not? The best fighter pilot we have, no? Or did I make the wrong choice for this mission?”
“No, of course not, sir.” While she may have felt compromised, how could she have responded any other way?
“You all appear to be in one piece. I take it the mission was a success.”
“You were correct, sir. Misleading information of an AV, apparently unescorted, with you on board was sufficient to draw out dissident Gendu elements,” Gabri’el replied. “They were unmarked with masked transponders, but we inflicted sufficient damage to down all of the hostiles. I would imagine there should be enough wreckage to identify the source. Also, all the pilots ejected. We should have them in custody in due course.”
“However, sir, my passenger has suffered certain complications.”
“Her corona has retracted.”
“Really?” Tarsus said with a smile. “And that is a bad thing?”
“She is very upset.”
“And that is a bad thing?”
All of a sudden, the doors opened, and Godvina stormed in. “Get out!”
The agents were taken by surprise. Secure rooms were supposed to be inviolate.
“How did you…” Thalia started to say.
“I SAID, ‘GET OUT’!”
The three looked toward Tarsus, who nodded his head, and they departed.
“Good even to you, Prefect Godvina. I hope you are well,” he said calmly.
“Cut the crap, Tarsus. You know exactly how well I am. You vindictive bastard. You set me up!”
“On the contrary, it was a covert operation, sanctioned at the highest level, designed to draw out dissident elements within the Gendu. I had my best pilot at the helm of your AV and my best operatives as your escorts. You were never in any danger.”
“Your intent was not to put me in harm’s way. It was to humiliate me! You know how flight disagrees with me!”
“Yes, Agent Thalia mentioned a contracted corona, but she must have been mistaken. It looks perfectly normal to me…a little small perhaps.”
An individual’s corona was the dominant factor in determining position and status in Celesti society. Size mattered, the bigger the better. High-ranking officials in the various ministries had visible auras that continued downward past their shoulders, ending at their waists. Governing Council members had visible auras that surrounded their entire bodies. Godvina had a corona that was above average, more than adequate to allow her to rise to the level of prefect, reporting to Minister of Science Janus, himself. The ‘observation’ was an obvious slight.
“Are you sure? My corona is full…robust. How could I be a prefect otherwise?”
She wore a pale-yellow, two-piece suit that was standard dress for almost everyone in the Ministry of Science. She undid her single-button, lapelless jacket. Grasping each front panel, she slowly parted the garment affording Tarsus a more complete view of the white, mandarin-collar shirt underneath. While not busty, there was enough of a protrusion in the material to cause his eyes to widen slightly.
“You better have your vision checked, my dear. Have a closer look. I think you are mistaken…What was that?” she asked touching her index finger to her ear. “Cat got your tongue?” She glanced downward then back up at him and made a gesture as if she were biting her lower lip. “From your reaction, it looks like you are not getting any since I left you. I wish I could say the same, but alas…I cannot. I have learned many things in the intervening time…the Gendu way for example.”
The “Gendu way” was the common term for sexual relations through physical contact.
“Of course, I am sure you are well-acquainted with that. Having once been a guardian, you must have made many forays into the Pleasure District.” She paused for effect. “Mmmm…touching…feeling…” she said in a low, throaty voice, slowly closing her eyes briefly, “you well know how I found those things…disgusting. But…I have recently changed my mind. How unfortunate…FOR YOU!” She snapped her jacket closed. “End link!”
* * * * *
Thalia, Mica’el and Gabri’el waited apprehensively in the corridor, wondering what to do. Tarsus had given them leave, but it was not the same thing as being dismissed.
“How did she do that?” Gabri’el asked, referring to Godvina’s entrance.
“I have no idea,” Thalia replied. “But entering a secure room like that is no small thing. Where did she learn that?”
“It is a security risk. Should we take her in for questioning?” Mica’el wondered.
“A prefect? Are you crazy?” Thalia exclaimed. “Talk about a career-ending move. But, if you are intent on suicide, Avenger, I shall step aside,” she said, making a gesture with her hand in the direction of the secure room door.
“The rumors must be true,” Gabri’el mused.
The implication was that Godvina had learned how to break the seal from someone…someone high up in security.
“A conclusion we should all keep to ourselves,” Thalia cautioned, “along with the bitch goddess’ entrance.”
The door to the secure room suddenly opened, and Godvina casually emerged. “Your master calls,” she said with a calm, icy stare before continuing down the corridor.
The three entered an empty room.
“We better get back to him,” Mica’el said. “Agents Mica’el, Gabri’el and Thalia with a secure link to Prefect Tarsus.”
They each again stood at attention and bowed as the hologram of Tarsus appeared before them.
“There is just one more thing I have to report,” Thalia said, acting as if nothing unusual had recently transpired.
“Director Jo’el has ordered us off Jomo. I understand he does not have the authority but…”
“In the interests of maintaining good inter-ministerial relations…I understand completely. Mica’el, Gabri’el, I place you in charge of the investigation of the hostiles. Thalia, find a suitable location close to Jomo to park your ship then return and keep Prefect Godvina under close covert surveillance.”
“So, the rumors are true,” she thought. Was his order something trivial to keep tabs on the remnants of a spoiled relationship or something more? She had to be sure. “Sir, is there anything in particular I should be looking for?”
“Yes, as you know, the first permanent streak across our skies appeared about 70 years ago. Since then, they have only grown in number. At the same time, Arkos has experienced increasing climatic and seismic activity that has placed a strain on the planet’s resources and economy.
“Director Jo’el’s work on space-time cosmology made him the most logical person to lead efforts to find a solution to this problem. Prefect Godvina is in charge of the Cosmological Data Collection and Compilation Center, and it would be natural for her to be working closely with him. What makes this unusual is that they are meeting at Jomo, in fact that they are meeting at all. Director Jo’el does visit the Ministry ziggurat in Eden. As you well know, face-to-face meetings are only reserved for issues of the most sensitive nature. None were stated on her visitation request. I think they are hiding something, and I want to know what it is.”
Thalia interpreted “face-to-face” to mean “intimate”. “Ugh, this is personal, a royal pain in the ass. But, on the other hand, should be an easy assignment. If I find something juicy, I might even get a commendation in my file,” she thought.
“Understood, sir. I will require access to her nexus and identification of any nexus that comes to within standard proximity.”
“It would also be ideal if I could tag her.”
Such access would allow Thalia to monitor everything facilitated by Godvina’s nexus. A tag was a device about the size of a button placed on the back of the neck. Enabled by an invisible film affixed to the nexus, it would also allow the Agent to listen in on any conversation within close proximity to Godvina.
“Ideal but not feasible. She is a prefect. Her aura will make it impossible for you to install the tag without her knowledge. This will have to suffice.”
* * * * *
So, now we see the reason for Jo’el’s concern. He and the recovering patient are an item. My original title for this chapter was “Fire and Ice” to describe the dichotomy of Godvina’s personality. (Who knows? Maybe, I still will. After all, this is an ARC.) However, I settled on “History” because it speaks to the former relationship between our fiery prefect and Tarsus.
Just an FYI, the part where Godvina torments Tarsus was inspired by the Seinfeld episode “The Implant” with Teri Hatcher.
We also learn the reason for Godvina’s visit to the Observatory. She is a scientist, here to investigate the composition of the night sky.
As always, I have asked Natasha for a visual to go along with the post. In the past, she would find something in one of the chapters for inspiration then I would do the wwit. For Mirror, I decided we would go in chronological order. So, to give her something to hang her hat on, I said, “Show me how you feel when (on those rare, almost nonexistent, can’t-remember-the-last-time-it-happened occasions) I piss you off.” Here is her thought.
Thank you David for that lovely post and your kind words, it means a lot!
If that was interesting for you here are some more guest posts both for Mirror in time and for previous books in the series:
Hello lovelies, today I have a fantastic extract from the debut novel Rise of One by Dixon Reuel as part of the Random Things tour organised by Anne Cater. But first a little about the book:
Title: Rise of One by Dixon Reuel
Publisher: Thunderloft Press
Date Published: 15th December 2020
When a zombie apocalypse ravages the world, the vampire Rise rescues human survivors to feed his coven. But apocalypse survivors are not the type to be merely food. Nor could they ever befriend the coven’s lone human, the beautiful and pampered Cypriot.
When Warwolves, an ancient order of vampire hunters, infiltrate the rescued survivors, Rise resolves to purge all threats to his vampire race. The world, although decimated, seems ripe for rule. Rise could set history on a new path, with the rise of one individual.
The outbreak began in springtime rumours. Then, the airways and cables of the world charted the outbreak and panic, as the disease overwhelmed every population. Bombs and walls of fire tried to contain it. Chemical purges charred cities indiscriminately. In all, Rise counted barely five months from the beginning of the outbreak until everything was stilled, from late spring to mid-autumn. A lone SOS in Morse code was the last they heard from the human race, before Rise and his coven packed away their broadcast equipment, their radio, computers, and TV, putting it all into the depths of the root cellar. He waited a further full month, October. Then, and only then, did Rise leave the house.
An earlier shower of hail had studded the courtyard’s cobblestones. Crimson leaves brightened the hedges that Rise had planted long ago to shade the kitchen windows. Once, Rise heard birdsong and the hum of the countryside the moment he stepped from the kitchen into the yard. But today, like so many days that came before, no sound.
The rest of his coven were still on the roof, just finished with the dawn incantation. While the disease had overwhelmed all beyond Owl Court, every dawn, Rise and the two other vampires, Ogrim and Salter, spoke an incantation to conceal their little farmstead from the world. Even smoke from the nearest village of Dunsinann, or the hazy curtain on the horizon from Larnde City, never reached inside their walls. The coven always used the oldest names for such places; Ogrim joked that if they were to rename cities and towns as often as humans did, the coven would never get anything done.
Rise wanted to slip away into the world and hoped to return with good news, to return with someone still human. The coven needed a fresh pulse. If he could achieve this, Rise reasoned as he stood on the back doorstep, the residents of Owl Court would surely forgive him for leaving. Hiding indoors, they saw footage of how the human dead now rose and walked. Rise had trawled the internet, when they still had it, watching feeds from around the world of corpses alive, of terrifying creatures that knew only brute and base destruction.
“Where’re you going?” Ogrim spoke from the kitchen’s shade, so as not to let the weak sun touch his old body.
“To find survivors,” Rise answered, as plainly as possible.
About The Author:
Irish award-winning writer, Dixon Reuel is the author of her debut Post-Apocalyptic Paranormal novel, Rise of One.
Dixon lives and writes out of her home base in Dublin, and holds a First in History & Early Irish Studies and another First in Creative Writing. She is a lifelong nerd and devoted hobbyist of cosplay, video games, and other surely worthwhile pursuits.
Dixon cannot stand monkeys or phone calls, and to receive a phone call from King Kong would definitely be her greatest fear.
Today I’m shining a spotlight on fantasy novel Tsalix Silverthorn and the Scepter of Destiny by Richard M. Siddoway, with an exclusive excerpt, as part of the blog tour organised by Love Books Tours but first a little about the book:
Title: Tsalix Silverthorn and the Scepter of Destiny by Richard M. Siddoway
Publisher: Cayelle Publishing
Date Published: 25th August 2020
King Elosha is dying and his twin sons, Princes Abadon and Johona, are deeply embroiled in a battle over the throne of Sodizen. One is noble and the other is a psychopath. Hoping to end the bloody chaos and restore peace, the King summons three men from the small village of Aravah, tasking them with the impossible of retrieving talismans that are prophesied to unlock the Scepter of Power on Mount Destiny.
To aid them on their fantastical quest, King Elosha bestows upon each of them, vials of elements to be opened when needed most. Amidst their honor and duty, they find their hometown torched to the ground, with surviving family and friends imprisoned by Prince Abadon. They are faced with choosing between rescuing them or completing the mission.
The brave men choose to obey the King, overcoming tumultuous weather, terrain, dangerous and helpful mythical creatures alike. With scarce food and water, led by Tsalix, the three men embark on an arduous odyssey across the kingdom to retrieve the Scepter on Mount Destiny and restore peace in the realm.
The sound of steel on stone rang loud and clear as war hammers pounded on the hillside, and a shower of rocks began to rain down into the opening of the cavern. With a shout from the men outside the cave, a slab of rock broke loose and thundered into place blocking Tsalix’s exit and sealing his tomb.
“Sleep well,” Nash Doitsoh roared, although Tsalix heard it only faintly through the pile of rock.
Through the stone, Tsalix’s ears picked up the muted raucous laughter of Abadon’s men as they turned their wolacs and rode away. One of them pounded the butt of his tsenil against the stone slab as a final goodbye. It sounded like a bass drum as it reverberated through the cave.
Tsalix waited a few minutes, hoping his eyes would adjust to the darkness of the cave, but it was black and he could see nothing. He slipped off the shelf, to the floor. Rocks the size of cobblestones had bounced through the opening, and he had to tiptoe to keep from stumbling over one or stepping on them and turning an ankle. He put his hands in front of him as he moved around the small room. There was no opening he could find except the fissure, which was now covered. He thrust his sword through the narrow gap against the rock slab, but there was no give. All the cave’s walls felt like polished glass.
Despair filled his heart. He sank to the floor and rested his head in his hands. How did this happen?
The walls seemed to press in against him as he struggled to swallow the panic that threatened to fill his throat. It was all he could do to keep from screaming.
Air. I need air! Tsalix sprang to his feet and pressed against the polished wall.
After what seemed an eternity, he gave up and sank back to the floor.
Richard Siddoway was born in Salt Lake City, Utah and reared in Bountiful. He was a professional educator for over forty-five years. In 1994, he was asked by Governor Michael O. Leavitt to create the nation’s first state-wide virtual high school –The Electronic High School–which served students nationwide.
He served three terms in the Utah House of Representatives; the last two years, as Speaker Pro Tempore. He is the author of a dozen books, including the New York Times Bestseller, The Christmas Wish, which was made into a movie starring Debbie Reynolds, Neil Patrick Harris, and Naomi Watts.
He and his wife, Janice, have eight children, twenty-six grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. Follow Richard on Facebook @RichardMSiddoway
To celebrate the release of the next exciting book in the Botanic Hill Detectives mystery series, Eucalyptus Street: Green Curse is going on tour!
We have an excerpt for you to read and a chance to win a signed, personalized paperback copy of the book, and some matching book swag (US ONLY)!
Title: Eucalyptus Street: Green Curse by Sherrill Joseph
Publication Date:20th October 2020
Genre: MG Mystery/ Middle Grade – 9 to 12 years old (For fans of Nancy Drew type mysteries)
In 1945, Isabela de Cordoba’s great-grandfather, the famous silent movie actor Lorenzo de Cordoba, mysteriously hid a legendary, multimillion-dollar emerald somewhere on the family’s sprawling Eucalyptus Street estate. Seventy years later, the gem remains concealed. Nicknamed the “Green Curse,” the emerald is blamed for the Southern California familia’s numerous, untimely deaths.
On her twenty-first birthday, Isabela receives a secret letter with a cryptic poem. These documents from the long-deceased Lorenzo invite her to hunt for the gemstone. But first, she must decipher the poem’s eight stanzas for clues.
To assist, Isabela hires her thirteen-year-old neighbors, the four Botanic Hill Detectives—twins Lanny and Lexi Wyatt, and their best friends, Moki Kalani and Rani Kumar. Eerie footsteps inside the mansion, unexplained occurrences in the adjacent cemetery, and the mysterious tenant in the backyard casita challenge them. But they ingeniously make progress on the poem’s meaning with startling discoveries. Sliding wall panels, a secret room, and hidden passages reveal much. The detectives aren’t the only ones looking for the emerald. The perilous race for the de Cordoba treasure is on!
Lanny is awakened at four a.m. by the sound of footsteps coming from the room overhead. He and Moki head to the third floor to explore:
Their eyes had adjusted to the darkness. Lanny pointed to the door of the suspected room and flashed Moki an A-OK sign. They turned off their flashlights, noticing the room’s door was slightly ajar, and listened for any sounds. Nothing but the mournful “who-who” sound of the resident barn owl in the old magnolia tree outside. They waited two more minutes, shivering and wishing they hadn’t forgotten their bathrobes and slippers. Still no sounds came from the room. Even the owl became silent. Moki felt the hair on the back of his neck stand up.
Finally, Lanny pushed the door open slightly and slipped into the room. Moki followed.
Sherrill Joseph will be forever inspired by her beautiful students in the San Diego public schools where she taught for thirty-five years before retiring and becoming a published author.
She has peopled and themed the Botanic Hill Detectives Mysteries with children and adult characters of various abilities, races, cultures, and interests. Sherrill strongly believes that children need to find not only themselves in books but others from different races and social situations if all are to become tolerant, anti-racist world citizens. She also feels that kids are amazing human beings who don’t tend to get enough credit from some adults for their blossoming insights and intelligence.
The author created her detectives—patterned after her own fifth-grade students and twelve-year-old twin cousins—to be mature, smart, polite role models that will appeal to parents, teachers, but especially to kids who seek the courage and self-respect needed to realize their greatest potential.
Sherrill is the recent recipient of the Gold Award from Mom’s Choice Awards, and the Gold Award for Children’s Fiction in Mystery from Moonbeams Children’s Book Awards, both for Nutmeg Street: Egyptian Secrets, Book 1 in her Botanic Hill Detectives Mysteries series. She is a member of SCBWI and the Authors Guild and promises many more adventures with the squad to come.
Hello lovelies and welcome to the blog tour for The Accidental Hero of the City of Brotherly Love, by Richard J. O’Brien! I have an excerpt, plus a giveaway to win a digital copy of this novel but first a little about the book:
Title: The Accidental Hero of the City of Brotherly Love by Richard J. O’Brien
Date Published: March 31, 2020
Genre: Contemporary/ Magical Realism
In the tumultuous days following 9/11, Spencer Lee Kavanagh works as a security professional, juggling jobs, relationships, and his writing craft while trying to figure out where his life is headed. One autumn day in 2002, Kavanagh’s life changes forever after he crosses paths with Khalid Neshar, a promising graduate engineering student who recently became radicalized thanks to a less-than-scrupulous imam.
A workplace accident caused by Kavanagh results in Neshar’s death. Freshly arrived in the afterlife, Neshar strikes a deal with Allah. He goes back in time as a djinni so that he can haunt Kavanagh and thereby alter the course of events that led to his untimely death; only, Neshar isn’t much good at it. Meanwhile, in the post-9/11 hysteria of the day, Kavanagh’s anonymity and his literary ambitions are sidelined when he’s hailed as a hero for stopping a would-be terror attack. Like the stranger he accidentally killed, Kavanagh just wants his life back. The television news crews camped out in front of his apartment building have other ideas.
No sooner than I passed the edge of my building the lights came on atop a half-dozen cameras. Reporters jostled to stick their microphones in my face. As they blasted me with questions, I couldn’t help thinking two things: one was that the author of the ninja book was full of shit, and the other was that he probably no ninja at all.
“How does it feel to foil the terror plot that would have killed countless commuters?”
“Care to comment on the phone call you received from Vice President Cheney?”
“There was no call,” I mumbled as I inched my way past them, keeping my head down so that the bill of the baseball cap masked most of my face.
“Mr. Kavanagh,” one of the reporters stepped in front of me. “Do you have any remorse?”
“Will you continue to work at Tiffany and Company?”
“Is it true that the city will pay to have the Atlas clock restored?”
“Are you at liberty to tell us which agency you actually work for?”
“What?” I cried. “I’m just a guy.”
“Lee, are you afraid of retaliation?”
“Will you relocate?”
“Is the government offering to put you under their protective custody?”
“What’s your position on invading Iraq?”
“Do you support our troops?”
“Were you scared that the device might have blown up while you stood over the terrorist’s body?”
I inched closer to the steps.
“Would you be willing to disclose the names of the operatives in your team?”
“Operatives?” I asked.
“Do you think Saddam Hussein was behind the 9/11 attacks?”
“What’s your position on immigration?”
“Did law enforcement officials disclose to you whether there are any other threats in the city?”
One of the reporters followed me up the steps to the main door. She reached out and took hold of the door handle as I inserted my key into the lock.
“Is this a safe house, Mr. Kavanagh?” she asked. “If it is, now that it’s compromised, where will you go?”
I managed to unlock the door and slip into the foyer. When I did, they kept at it with their questions. Once the door was closed behind me, the reporters banged on the door as the camera lights lit up the foyer. They filmed me checking my mailbox. For once I was grateful that there were no letters from Maggie. After I locked the mailbox, I turned to the cameras crowding the door windows. With my head down, I offered them a salute before I entered the first-floor hall.
About the Author:
Richard J. O’Brien is a graduate of the Fairleigh Dickinson University MFA in Creative Writing Program. Richard’s novels include Under the Bronze Moon, Infestation, and The Garden of Fragile Things. His short stories have appeared in The Del Sol Review, Duende, Pulp Literature, The Dr. T.J. Eckleburg Review, Weirdbook, and other magazines. Richard lives in New Jersey, where he teaches at Rowan College at Gloucester County and Stockton University.