blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Aurora – David Koepp

In Aurora, Illinois, Aubrey Wheeler is just trying to get by after her semi-criminal ex-husband split, leaving behind his unruly teenage son. 

Then the lights go out—not just in Aurora but across the globe. A solar storm has knocked out power almost everywhere. Suddenly, all problems are local, very local, and Aubrey must assume the mantle of fierce protector of her suburban neighborhood. 

Across the country lives Aubrey’s estranged brother, Thom. A fantastically wealthy, neurotically over-prepared Silicon Valley CEO, he plans to ride out the crisis in a gilded desert bunker he built for maximum comfort and security.

But the complicated history between the siblings is far from over, and what feels like the end of the world is just the beginning of several long-overdue reckonings—which not everyone will survive . . . 

My thoughts: I found the premise of this book very interesting – for two reasons. Firstly the science, which the author notes is as accurate as he could get it thanks to some very clever scientists who advised him, and secondly the way Aubrey and Thom go about getting through the blackout.

The Sun is hugely important, without it we’d all die but it is also a volatile mass of gases and immense heat. Should it fire off a pulse like it does in this book, we’d all be in huge trouble. So much of the developed world relies on electricity. Think about all the ways you use it in a day – your mobile, laptop, tablet, the lights, the kettle, the toaster, all powered by electricity. And that’s before you leave the house!

When the blackout hits, at first, like most, Aubrey has a slight panic. She rushes off to the supermarket and stocks up. Forgetting that her freezer, oven and fridge all need power. But as time goes on, she adjusts. Her neighbours come together to plant vegetables and protect each other. They build a community. They get through it as a group.

Thom, for all his money and tech savvy, immediately heads for the hills. Or his fancy bunker. He’s hired staff and plans to only take his wife and kids. Even Aubrey is an afterthought. He doesn’t think about his loyal assistants or their families. Just himself and his needs. Unsurprisingly this starts to backfire.

People need people. That’s what I took away from this book. You need your neighbours, just as we all did in lockdown over the last two years, you need the people around you. If the only reason they’re with you because you’re paying them – well then they might just decide they’re better off elsewhere.

This is going to be made into a film, not surprising when you realise the author is a well known film writer, and that will be really interesting. While the events are something that everyone sees, in terms of the extreme solar activity, the main plot about Aubrey and Thom isn’t huge in scale, it’s small and about a local phenomenon – community, family.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Book Blitz: Rationality Zero – J.M. Guillen

If you enjoy your thrillers with a sci-fi edge, you’re going to want to check out Rationality Zero by J.M. Guillen! Now available on Amazon!

Rationality Zero

Rationality Zero (The Archon Conundrum #1)

Publication Date: April 28th, 2022

Genre: Sci-Fi/ Techno Thriller
A living weapon. An attack on the laws of reality. One chance to save the world.

Michael Bishop is a man who never dreams, who never gets ill. He lives his entire life oblivious to the truths hidden from him.

He is a tool in the hand of the most powerful organization on Earth.

Michael’s world transforms when They bring him online- when They activate the mysterious technology buried within his skull.

Then, the lies fall away. He becomes Asset 108. Using intricate technology, he defends humanity from the gibbering, tentacled horrors that haunt our world.

When mysterious renegades fracture the very laws of nature, Asset 108 is put into position. As the world begins to unravel, a cabal of madmen with physics shattering powers hunt 108 and his cadre, driving them into an alternate reality— a realm filled with inhuman horror.

Between otherworldly arachnids, muscled brutes infected with psionic parasites, and depraved cultists, grisly deaths lurk behind Michael’s every choice.

Yet all too soon, things become far, far, worse.

Excerpt

Regular people, folks with normal lives, never dream of how strange their world could quickly become. When things get weird…

That’s where I come in.

Most of the time, things were simple. I lived the perfect life, my days drawn from most men’s fantasies. I didn’t work; I didn’t have to. I got a wire into my account every two weeks. It varied, but the amount surpassed what some people made in six months. Yet I didn’t know where it came from. The sources had vague names like VRS Solutions or Apex Enterprises, throwaway companies that disappeared the next week.

Some might call me spoiled. Yet it got better.

I drove a new sports car. A candy-red thing that got me all kinds of attention. My wardrobe was perfectly tailored to me and quite expansive. My apartment in San Francisco should have run over ten grand a month, yet I never paid a dime of rent. It had a movie room, three separate bedrooms, and a small library, not to mention the personal white room for my Facility gear.

Oh, and… company.

I almost never spent an evening alone. I could have a different enchanting companion every night if I wanted. Or two. Not due to being a sleazy pickup artist, it was simply the way my evenings unfolded. I went to the right clubs, wore the right clothes. Before I knew it, I was dancing with someone like Caprice or her nameless friend. And the night’s enticements had just begun.

As I said, I lived most men’s fantasies.

There were other things though, odd things.

I never got ill. Never.

I never remembered my dreams.

I never worked out, ate whatever I pleased, and remained incredibly fit.

I’ve never done taxes—in any country. A notation on all deposits read: tax paid.

I had no account with any public utility or phone company, yet I owned a phone and used electricity.

I never bought my clothes or books or other diversions. A metallic white board hung on my fridge. Just now, it had “Men in Black” scrawled across it, indicating I wanted the VHS. As soon as I left, I felt certain it’d appear, yet I’d never seen anyone come into my place.

When in torpor, I had no curiosity about any of this. They took care of everything. It was simple. I lived the perfect life.

Until activated.

Once active, I was a tool in the hand of the most powerful organization on Earth. I had access to devices and technology that literally shaped reality as we know it. We accomplished this through the alteration of laws we termed axioms. In actuality, axioms were an analogy for the various laws of physics, some yet to be discovered by mankind.

To Assets such as myself, the axioms of physics were weaponry. They might be bent or altogether broken while on assignment. The awesome technology responsible for that was an absolute requirement for what we did, the bare minimum of what we needed in order to come back alive.

Because dark, inhuman things lurked in the shadows of our world—things most people couldn’t even imagine. Our very reality was under siege by beings older than humanity itself.

Available on Amazon

About the Author

JMGuillenAuthor

JM Guillen was your average, everyday awesome writer just trying to make it in this modern, awful corporate dystopia. He knew he wanted to make wonderful, bizarre things, but how could he afford to make that happen? Every day, he sat about crying and drinking, trying to figure out what he could do.

THEN A RADIOACTIVE METEOR CRASHED INTO HIS BACKYARD! FROM OUTER SPACE!

While examining the fuming interstellar rock, unknowable emanations radiated into the very center of his being. These unearthly energies changed the very depths of him, granting him powers that no man can name, and no god could ever master.

Reeling from the influx of spectral energies, he stumbled back into his home, his eyes open. Now, an entire universe unfolded before him. Now, he saw the way.

HE STARTED HIS OWN EVIL PUBLISHING COMPANY!

Now, JM Guillen begins to meet AWESOME people who supported his INSANE plans. Fiendishly, he scrawls story after story, writing steampunk, dark fantasy and eldritch horror…

Reality will never be the same.

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Book Trailer: Descendants – Janet Post & Gabe Thompson

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Check out the trailer for the final book in the award-winning trilogy, Descendants by Janet Post and Gabe Thompson!

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The Descendants (The Vagrant Chronicles #3)

Genre: YA Sci-Fi

From the award-winning authors of Vagrant and Mutant comes the long-awaited finish to the Vagrant Chronicles, Descendants!

Book III begins on Gliese where Shayna, Mai Li and Cain Hollyroad have taken over the leadership of the new colony. Shayna is worried because they’ve heard nothing from Declan and Logan. She decides to contact Earth using the equipment Eddie set up before he left. Unfortunately, when she succeeds and contacts someone she’s never heard of with the New LA Vagrants, she gets bad news. War has broken out in New LA and the Vagrant she’s contacted, a mole person named Reek running a small, solar-powered computer hacked into the Company’s com systems, he tells her most of the Vagrants are gone, hiding and shipped off to mining worlds. Reek doesn’t know Logan or Declan or any of the group from Gliese, and tells her the Vagrant space ship was destroyed. When she uses the equipment to piggyback off the Company’s Interstellar communication waves, they are alerted and come to find the colony.

Razor Tsang and his father are at the Gliese spaceport. They have an interview with the CEO. Razor’s father is the head of the Tong that has been the one sanctioned smuggling operation affiliated with the Company for decades. But the CEO, an alien who is a member of the ancestor race, laughs in their faces, denies them a new contract and give them twenty-four hours to clear off Gliese. Unfortunately for Razor’s father Big Lou Tsang, a group from the Smugglers guild meets him at his ship and kills him. Razor escapes and runs for the hills. He meets up with Shayna and her group and tells them what happened.

Cain Hollyroad leads colony members out of their valley and into the badlands of Gliese where there is no water and little hope of survival. Some of the colony gets caught by the Company and sent to the mines. Shayna, Cain, Razor, Mai Li, her daughter escape and begin a terrible trek into badlands searching for water. When all appears lost, Cain finds some caverns in a canyon which lead to an underground chamber with a spring. They need to get to a spaceport. Shayna is so worried about Logan, he concerns drive them away from their temporary shelter in the cavern and onward. They find the newest mining settlement. It has a rudimentary spaceport and a gigantic interstellar ship on the ground. It’s the ship they stole off the moon. Raj thinks he might be able to fly it. He has Helga. Knock reluctantly surrendered her control cube to him when he fell for Fenfang.

On Earth, Logan, Knock, Eddie and Fenfang are trying to fight their way, with the aid of the remaining Vagrants on Earth, to the Denver Spaceport where they hope to steal a ship to the moon where they can grab an interstellar ship and get home to Gliese. Logan is devastated by his father’s death. To find him and then lose him so suddenly was a huge blow.

The remaining population of Vagrants is wily and motivated to escape Earth. When they can’t contact Shayna, Logan becomes frantic. He lost his father and needs to know Shayna is safe and sound. Hounded by the Company and its new leader, a Company drone, frantic Logan, turns its eyes to smaller target, the spaceport in New Salt Lake City.

When Logan tries to contact Shayna again, he is stunned to discover she is traveling back to Earth on the Far Horizon. With the Company after them, the Guild discovers they are hiding close to their secret spaceport and moves in. Logan and his group hunker down and pray Cain, Shayna and Raj will arrive in time to save them.

Available on Amazon

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The Vagrant Chronicles

About the Authors

Janet Post

Janet Post

I’m the daughter of a Marine Corps colonel. I lived the military life until I got out of high school. At that point I was a wild child. I got married and moved to Canada where I lived up the Sechelt Inlet, the scene for Spellcast Waters. I lived in a log cabin, with wood heat and a wood cook stove fifteen miles by boat from the nearest town. I’ve moved a lot. Between the military upbringing and just rambling around the country, I’ve moved 40 times.

I lived in Hawaii and worked as a polo groom for fifteen years. I love horses and I paint, and I write. Now I live in the swampland of Florida with too many dogs and my fifteen-year old granddaughter. Life is beautiful. Live in the moment.

Gabe Thompson

Gabe cropped (2)

My mother and I started writing young adult and action novels together about five years ago. We work well together because we share many of the same interests. I have a degree in journalism and currently teach middle school in Jacksonville, Florida where I live with my wife and twelve-year old son.

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Book Review: The Copper Chevalier – Emily Owen

For George and Douglas Abernathy, life is on the up. Their new android-building business is thriving and they are set to move from their clockmaker’s shop in Soho to a spectacular country mansion.

Then, the bombastic General Brassington forces the brothers to create a mechanical soldier to help quell the Indian Mutiny. The resulting steam-powered, clockwork soldier is promptly shipped to India.

The soldier’s mission is clear, he must subdue the rebellious sepoys and uphold the British Empire’s interests. But after becoming embroiled in the struggle, he’s no longer certain who the true enemy is. When the soldier uncovers a plot that could turn the tide of the conflict and alter the nature of warfare, he must decide where his loyalty lies.

Meanwhile, Molly, the brothers’ botanist teenage sister, faces her own challenges while trying to create her dream garden at the family’s new home…

My thoughts: after their success with The Mechanical Maestro, the Abernathys’ fortunes are on the rise as they move house, and build more automatons. Commissioned by a General to build a mechanical soldier to aid in quashing an uprising in India, they create an extraordinary being – Colonel Copperton. But when he uncovers a plot to use a chemical weapon on the sepoys, his true ingenuity is revealed.

Meanwhile Molly (who’s my favourite character) is designing her garden and bickering with the landscape designer her brother George has hired. But methinks the lady doth protest too much…

This was lots of fun but with a serious point at its heart, what the East India Company and the British Army did in India during the 1800s and 1900s was often cruel and brutal, native peoples were oppressed and killed simply for wanting to be left alone to self govern. The history of the British in India is very sad and shameful, unfortunately not everyone is as good as Copperton and his friends, who have strong moral foundations and won’t harm civilians.

I liked the contrast between the chapters set in India and those back home in Britain – the lighthearted escapades of Molly and the various automatons in the house stopped the book feeling too heavy – as even in the Abernathy household there were some more serious things going on with George that set his siblings at odds with him. This was also sensitively handled and Doctor Molly is a force to be reckoned with.

I was gifted a copy of this book to read and review by the author, who remembered I had been on the blog tour for The Mechanical Maestro, so thank you Emily. The Copper Chevalier will be published in paperback and ebook formats on March 31st, 2022.

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Blog Tour: The Kaiju Preservation Society – John Scalzi

When COVID-19 sweeps through New York City, Jamie Gray is stuck as a dead-end driver for food delivery apps. That is, until Jamie makes a delivery to an old acquaintance, Tom, who works at what he calls “an animal rights organization.” Tom’s team needs a last-minute grunt to handle things on their next field visit. Jamie, eager to do anything, immediately signs on.

What Tom doesn’t tell Jamie is that the animals his team cares for are not here on Earth. Not our Earth, at least. In an alternate dimension, massive dinosaur-like creatures named Kaiju roam a warm, human-free world. They’re the universe’s largest and most dangerous panda and they’re in trouble.

It’s not just the Kaiju Preservation Society who have found their way to the alternate world. Others have, too. And their carelessness could cause millions back on our Earth to die.

My thoughts: imagine if Godzilla, the Loch Ness Monster and other huge creatures were real, lived in an alternate Earth next to ours (parallel universe theory) and were living nuclear reactors. Please watch Jurassic Park and remember the lessons – then enter the weird world of the Kaiju Preservation Society.

Jamie loses his job and ends up delivering food during 2020 and the delights of lockdown, until he’s offered a somewhat mysterious job – “lifting things” for the KPS. He can’t tell anyone where he’s going, or exactly what he’ll be doing there. But it’ll be the biggest adventure ever.

Completely bonkers, very funny and clever, this is the best pandemic response in fiction I’ve read so far. Escaping to another world where your most pressing worry is being eaten by various creatures and not a terrible virus is probably preferable when you think about the last two years. Even if there’s invariably some asshole billionaire causing trouble. Do not steal the monsters. I mean, honestly, who does that?

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own

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Blog Tour: Nova’s Blade – Will Scifi

THIRTY-TWO WOMEN. ONE ARENA. A BATTLE TO THE DEATH.

After a long war, corporations have replaced countries. Sports are fought to the death. The most popular game is Last Valkyrie, a live tournament where women kill each other for marriage into a powerful family.

For Nova, living in poverty with her mother and sister is a harsh reality that she cannot escape. But when she is kidnapped and forced to fight on the show, her world changes. If she refuses to fight, the bomb in her head goes off. Now winning means her freedom.

With death lurking at every moment, Nova has no idea if her next fight will be her last. But one thing she knows for certain: only one is making it out alive.

Perfect for fans of Hunger Games, The Selection, and The Princess Trials. You won’t want to put down this exciting page-turner!

Available on Amazon

Will Scifi is a pen name for an author from and based in California. He loves writing mainly science fiction that touches on themes surrounding modern day culture and society. Outside of writing, he loves going to the gym, theater, watching tv, reading comics and books, and playing video games. He thanks all of his fans for their support and highly encourages anyone who has read his work to always leave a review. Reviews go a long way in helping the author!

Will Scifi | Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads | Facebook

My thoughts: with elements of The Hunger Games, this dystopian sci-fi book focuses on Nova, the latest in a long line of young women forced to participate in a fight to the death in The Last Valkyrie. She doesn’t want to be there, but it’s kill or be killed.

As she competes in the televised matches, she’s increasingly angry at the hypocrisy of the society she lives in, where some people struggle to get by and others have all the wealth and power. Her anger grows with each dead woman and when she snaps finally, chaos ensues. Nova isn’t going to toe the line, she’s going to tear it all down.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own

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Blog Tour: Vagrant – Gabe Thompson & Janet Post

Logan Hall is a Vagrant, one of the disenfranchised living beneath the mega city of New Washington. The Vagrants have to hide from the Company who is rounding all of them up and shipping them to newly discovered planets to work in the mines. That’s what happened to Logan’s father.

Shayna is one of the privileged. She has a chip, a credit disc, and lives in a shiny stainless steel and glass high-rise above ground. Shayna is allergic to corn so she is one of the few above ground people who is not stoned on Sopore. Sopore is a drug found in genetically altered corn. It’s in almost all food. The Vagrants know about Sopore and avoid it.

These two teens from wildly differing environments meet by accident and fall in love. Logan will stop at nothing to rescue his friend Raj, captured and sent to the moon. Together, he and Shayna will follow his dream of finding his father who was sent to work in the mines of Gliess 67.

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Logan opened the heavy door to the cold locker slowly and peered out. It was night. He knew only a skeleton crew manned the morgue at night because there was a shortage of qualified help in the cities. There was a shortage of trained workers all over the world. Ever since John Demaris discovered what he named the warp drive after the hyper drive in Star Trek, and space travel to far worlds became a reality, the government had been rounding up every able-bodied man on the planet and shipping them off-world to work the mines of faraway galaxies. That’s where Logan’s father was. He’d been caught and shipped off to what the Mole People called Planet 666, Gliese 667, a brown planet with enough water to maintain life and lots and lots of gold. “Come on,” he said to Raj. “We have to make the pickup in five minutes.” They found hospital scrubs in a cupboard and put them on. Dressed like every hospital employee, the two boys slipped through the dark hallways of the hospital, took the stairs to the ground floor and then ducked outside. Logan led the way around the building to the alley in the back and the row of garbage containers behind the Emergency Room. He shoved Raj behind one marked with a red biohazard tag and squatted down to wait. “What’re we waiting for now?” Raj asked. Logan took out half of a cigarette and lit it with a match he took from a plastic bag. He inhaled deeply and Raj shook his head. “Why do you do that?” “Cause my dad did. He loved a good smoke and so does I. It’s relaxing to me. I get pretty cranked runnin’ through the tunnels and you need a calm head about you to survive.” The glass doors of the ER slid open with a sucking sound and Logan peaked around the edge of the trash container and there she was . . . his angel. “Wow!” Raj breathed. “What a dynamite chick.” “Don’t even look at her, mole. She’s so far above us, she don’t even exist. She’s a vision, an angel from above.” “Well, your angel is toting a white plastic bag. Is that our package?” Logan nodded. When Raj leaned across Logan to get a better look, he accidentally shoved Logan who reached out to catch himself from falling on his face and banged the edge of the container. The angel gasped and looked right into his eyes. She was so beautiful. Her long black hair swung over one shoulder when she bent over to look at him through the clearest brown eyes Logan had ever seen. They were filled with the innocence of the protected, a girl who had never eaten roasted rat or run for her life into tunnels so deep beneath the city you encountered an even worse nightmare, the Worms. And then it hit him. Her pupils were small, her gaze focused. Unlike the majority of the people who lived topside, she looked straight. “Who are you?” his angel asked. Logan stood up and brushed the top layer of filth off his borrowed scrubs. He straightened his back and shoved a lock of dirty blond hair out of his eyes. “I’m Logan. I come from down there.” He pointed to his feet then grabbed Raj by the shoulder. “This is my little buddy, Raj.” She backed up rapidly still clutching the white-plastic bag. “You’re one of them? You live underground?” Logan thrust his well-developed chest out and lifted his chin. “Yeah, we’re not animals you know. We’re people, too.” Shayna Nagata was in shock. All her life she’d been bombarded with horror stories about the people who lived underground. The homeless, the poor, the mutated animals no one wanted would come out of the manholes at night and feed on the children of the rich and privileged. Her parents had drummed it into her head. Never, ever, ever talk to anyone you think does not belong above ground. They have no chips. They have no credit and no job. They kill people like her and steal children away to feed on under the earth. She reached out a shaking hand and touched his arm. It was thick and corded, not like the soft white arm of her father who was a lawyer. “You’re real.” “Yeah, I’m real and you’re not stoned. What’s wrong with you?” She backed away again clutching the plastic bag. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” “Your eyes, doll, you’re not bombed, stoned, high on drugs, you’re not sedated.” Then she understood. “I can’t eat corn. It gives me bumps.” The larger boy who said his name was Logan laughed and elbowed his smaller friend. “She’s gotta be the one person topside besides the doctor that ain’t zonked. How funny is that?” He turned back to her and she noticed his blue eyes were clear, his gaze sharply assessing, and he was laughing at her because she was different. “It’s not my fault.” And then he smiled and she noticed how white his teeth were. He even had big eye teeth and two crooked ones on the bottom. Everyone she knew had perfect, white, dental implants or veneers. “I’m allergic.” “So you can’t take the drug. Your life must be really weird.” She shrugged. “They try to give me pills. I don’t like them.” The entire population was addicted to a drug called Sopore. Sopore was a sedative genetically bred into corn by the chemical giant Monsonta. Corn, corn syrup, corn flour, corn starch, corn everything was in all the food. Shayna couldn’t eat it so she had to eat special food her mother bought. Her parents tried to feed her the pills prescribed by her doctor to make her like everyone else, but she didn’t like the way they made her feel, so she spit them out when no one was looking.

My mother and I started writing young adult and action novels together about five years ago. We work well together because we share many of the same interests. I have a degree in journalism and currently teach middle school in Jacksonville, Florida where I live with my wife and twelve-year old son. 

Tell-Tale Publishing

I’m the daughter of a Marine Corps colonel. I lived the military life until I got out of high school. At that point I was a wild child. I got married and moved to Canada where I lived up the Sechelt Inlet, the scene for Spellcast Waters. I lived in a log cabin, with wood heat and a wood cook stove fifteen miles by boat from the nearest town. I’ve moved a lot. Between the military upbringing and just rambling around the country, I’ve moved 40 times.

I lived in Hawaii and worked as a polo groom for fifteen years. I love horses and I paint, and I write. Now I live in the swampland of Florida with too many dogs and my fifteen-year old granddaughter. Life is beautiful. Live in the moment.

My thoughts: this was really good, I felt like I’d only just started it but was actually half way through, that’s how hooked I was. The premise is really clever and the characters are engaging and you’ll find yourself rooting for them.

The idea of a vast evil corporation essentially drugging everyone with a sugar derivative doesn’t actually feel that unrealistic, and I did laugh at the name the authors chose for it, just rearrange a couple of letters. There’s a lot of racing against time and I get claustrophobic so I felt for Shayna when she first encounters all the tunnels and forgotten pipes Logan and his friends crawl through beneath the city. I would not be able to do that.

The ending sets up a new adventure for the next book, and you wonder whether Eddie’s plan has worked and how the Vagrants are going to survive when they’re being hunted by the evil security forces of the corporation and the gangsters they upset. Fingers crossed they’ve got a plan!

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Blog Tour: Shadow Bound Souls – Steven Rudy

Shadow Bound Souls, blends Science Fiction and classic high fantasy in a steampunk world.

The Sagean Lord has emerged. 

While the Wrythen’s influence grows stronger, the Sagean and his power-hungry acolytes, the Court of Dragons, are intent on delivering the gem of souls to the Temple of Ama; where the Sintering Fountain can transform the acolytes into Luminaries.

Meanwhile, the band of heroes find themselves separated in a world starting to tear itself apart. Having suffered a huge loss, Ellaria and Elias must escape the Mainland with the Sagean’s agents pursuing them. When Elias becomes sick, Ellaria decides to hide amongst the Showman’s Traveling Show of Wonders. But their journey is shadowed by darkness and when troupe members turn up murdered, Ellaria struggles to find the killer amongst her company.

Far away in the Warhawk Mountains, the three young rogues are stranded with the Tempest Stone. Aimless about what to do, their paths take a turn when they discover the horrifying magnitude of the Sagean’s return to power, the Scree.

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Excerpt
A fog drifted amongst the looming masses of tents and travel-crafts. A man stepped from shadow to shadow with a blood-soaked knife. Ellaria could feel him stalking her, but she couldn't see him. A slight disturbance in the grass, a crunch in the dirt, whispered of his position. But the sound was lost in the wind before she could locate its source.
Where had everyone gone, she wondered. The entirety of the fairgrounds was empty. With a lantern in her hands, she weaved around the trampled paths through the large field, the darkness of the night yet to give way to the morning light.
No matter where she looked, she couldn't find anyone. She heard a sharp ringing sound from the caravan circle, and she rushed from around a carriage house to the center space.
At the center was a tall man with a top hat. The soft glow of the surrounding carriages provided only enough light to softly illuminate the fog and patches of the ground, leaving the man mostly disguised. He leaned slightly on a cane and his right hand at his side held a long-curved knife.
In succession, the lanterns started to wane and extinguish from behind him. Gradually, each light winked out of existence in a progression toward her and the darkness consumed the circle yard.
Her own light held, and she lifted it forward to see.
A sinister smile on the pale man was now only a few feet away. She couldn't breathe. She tried to scream, but nothing came out. The man's face appeared, and she almost recognized him, but his eyes were missing. Like they had been burned out of his skull.
“Hello, Ms. Moonstone,” he spoke in a smoky voice that sent a shiver run down her spine.
“Who are you?” Ellaria said.
“Don't you know? Don't you recognize me?”
“No.”
“What a shame, after so many encounters, too,” he said, and lifted the blade. A reflection appeared in the steel of a man she did recognize: Elias. And the pale man laughed. A dark mocking laugh that made her skin crawl. Her hand trembled and Ellaria threw the lantern at his feet...

A fallen empire, a failed republic, and a frontier of alchemy, magic and machines…

They thought the war was over. That they had given enough, but when an oppressive empire falls, what comes from the ashes, is turmoil and treachery.

Ellaria Moonstone, an alchemist, and a hero of the Great War, has spent the last forty years trying to rebuild. An emissary for the Scholar’s Guild, her life’s work has been in establishing universities throughout the world. But as a former general that led the resistance in overthrowing the Sagean Empire, she has watched as all she fought for has slowly eroded away and with it, her faith in the republic. Now in her mid-fifties her singular focus has been to protect all knowledge for future generations.

When Ellaria is suspiciously requested to attend a meeting in the capitol city of Adalon, she quickly realizes something is amiss and the main governing body the Coalition of Nations may be compromised. When the Peace King of the Free Cities goes missing the plot to overthrow the tenuous republic takes shape, and Ellaria becomes convinced that the entity manipulating the fragile government is in servitude to a new Sagean Emperor. A Luminary with the powers to control energy.

Now the Coalition is intent on hunting down and capturing the man that defeated the last Sagean Emperor. The greatest hero of the war, Qudin Lightweaver. However, Ellaria’s old friend has not been seen in twenty years. With no one left to trust, she sends for help from old allies and expatriates scattered across the chaotic frontier. Once reunited, the aging veterans realize trust between old friends is not what it once was.

Three former war heroes, long past their prime and haunted by their pasts, are all that stand against a dark entity threatening the future. With the currency of souls is in the balance they find their destinies are entwined with a band of young rogues. Together they must stop the return of a dark empire. While each path to the truth is rot with peril, they discover the key to protecting the future resides in the mysteries of the past. The quest for a lost tomb ensues and the recovery of a relic from the time of the unknown ancients, called the Tempest Stone.

The Binding Tempest is the beginning of an immerse saga, of magic, alchemy, airships, and ancient mysteries. A new epic Sci-Fi and Fantasy series that is a classic High Fantasy Adventure injected with Steampunk science. For fans of The Wheel of Time series, Shadow and Bone and the Stormlight Archives.

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Steven Rudy received a degree in Environmental Design and Architecture from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He currently lives in Colorado with his wife and three kids and works as an architectural designer on historic preservation projects and residential projects.

Shadow Bound Souls is his second novel.

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My thoughts: this is an action packed steampunk sci-fi fantasy novel, that picks up right after book one (so read that first). Traversing entire continents the gang are reunited only to be separated again as they seek to stop the evil Sagean Emperor from seizing power and unleashing the Wrythen on the world.

Racing against time and with only the vaguest idea of what to do, not helped by Elias being in a coma for a bit, even Ellaria and Rovan are a bit of a loss, let alone the younger contingent, who weren’t even alive yet last time the Sagean had to be stopped. But with some luck, some help from old friends and new, oh and Tali’s increasingly strong powers, they might just be able to get to the temple in time…or not.

The plot rips along at a break neck pace at times, and there’s a lot going on, new characters, new peoples, gunfights, sword fights, giant monsters, kidnap, murder, some leaping from windows, y’know the usual adventure stuff when there’s a world to save and no one really knows what they’re doing! Great fun, roll on book three!

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Off Target – Eve Smith

In an all-too-possible near future, when genetic engineering has become the norm for humans, parents are prepared to take incalculable risks to ensure that their babies are perfect – altering genes that may cause illness, and more… Susan has been trying for a baby for years, and when an impulsive one-night stand makes her dream come true, she’ll do anything to keep her daughter and ensure her husband doesn’t find out … including the unthinkable. She believes her secret is safe. For now. But as governments embark on a perilous genetic arms race and children around the globe start experiencing a host of distressing symptoms – even taking their own lives – something truly horrendous is unleashed. Because those children have only one thing in common, and people are starting to ask questions…

Eve Smith writes speculative fiction – mainly about the things that scare her – which she attributes to a childhood watching Tales of the Unexpected and black-and-white Edgar Allen Poe double bills. Previously COO of an environmental charity, she has an ongoing passion for wild creatures, wild science and far-flung places. Twitter @evecsmith; Instagram: evesmithauthor; Facebook: EveSmithAuthor and http://www.evesmithauthor.com.

My thoughts: Eve Smith doesn’t shy away from tackling big themes and controversial topics, such as this one – gene tweaking and rewriting unborn children’s DNA. With the development of CRISPR technology (the team won a Nobel for it) this has been debated – the idea of removing faults in DNA to eradicate some of the worst medical conditions has generated a lot of concern from the disabled community – if you could ensure your child wouldn’t get cancer or be born with Down’s Syndrome, would you?

Smith has taken this to extremes – Susan has part of her unborn daughter’s removed and replaced so that her husband is now technically the baby’s father. She also has genetic predisposition to addiction and heart problems removed. But once her daughter has got older, other issues start to emerge and it becomes increasingly political.

I felt for Simon, the husband, and Susan’s daughter, Zurel, who have no idea what’s happened and have to deal with the fallout after Susan’s clinic is doxxed and her details are released. Zurel loses all her privacy and she’s the victim, it’s just really sad. She’s only a child and hasn’t got the mental resources to manage all the revelations.

This book raises all sorts of questions and really made me think where I would stand in this sort of situation. I’m fascinated by all of this incredible technology and what it could mean for future humans, as is the author, so it’s something I have done some reading on elsewhere and honestly I don’t know where I fall, it can be really complex. Honestly the book was so compelling a read and so thought provoking I think it really needs multiple re-reads.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Actuality – Paul Braddon

She belongs to me – property rights will prevail.
Evie is a near-perfect bioengineered human. In a broken-down future England where her kind has been outlawed, her ‘husband’ Matthew keeps her safe but hidden. When her existence is revealed, she must take her chances on the dark and hostile streets where more than one predator is on the hunt.
The Actuality is a gripping, atmospheric speculative thriller from a powerful new voice.

My thoughts: I loved Evie and wanted her to succeed in outrunning those chasing her after everything goes wrong. She might not be human but she felt very human, if that makes sense. She could think and feel and was very afraid but also incredibly brave. I liked Daniels, his kindness and determination to help her as Matthew (who was a bit creepy) would want. I also really like Sola and Toto.

This book is incredibly moving and sad, Evie just wants to be left alone, allowed to live as she always has. A powerful meditation on what it is to be human.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.