Posts Tagged ‘promo’

Promo: The Message on the 13th Floor by Winter Lawrence

Good morning, squiders! Today I’ve got an excerpt for you from an intriguing sounding novel! (Scroll down to the bottom for the excerpt part.)


YA Paranormal Mystery

Date Published: May 25, 2021

Publisher: Fire & Ice Young Adult & New Adult Books


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When Meghan’s mother suddenly disappears without a trace, she and her two little sisters are the first to notice, and the only ones who seem to care…

The problem, of course, is that her mother likes to party, so when she goes missing, Meghan not only has to take care of everything at home, but she also has to search for her, because her mom has a bad habit of disappearing, so no one else is officially looking. That is until Meghan begins to receive mysterious messages, almost as if someone or something is guiding her to a haunted hotel in Manhattan, where people say an elevator game will take riders to the mysterious 13th floor. Some say it’s an entrance to hell, others a portal to another dimension. Either way, Meghan must brave the game in hopes of discovering the truth behind her mother’s disappearance.



About the Author

Winter is an award-winning author who lives in the moment and loves nothing more than being surrounded by her family, her fur-babies, and a ton of great reads! When she doesn’t have her nose stuck in a book, she’s usually thinking up far away, fantastical worlds or she’s cooking up a storm in the kitchen!

Because of her love for all things literary, Winter pursued a Master of Arts degree in English Literature and Creative Writing. Professionally, she is a manuscript editor and, in her spare time, she enjoys posting book and movie reviews.

In her private time, she is an avid reader of science fiction, fantasy, and paranormal romances, and one day she hopes to inspire young readers in the same way her favorite authors continue to inspire her today.

 

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Excerpt:

Before we head out to leave, I make a pitstop at the bathroom. As I go about my business, my mind is so acutely focused on where we need to stop I don’t notice the water turning on until it’s on maximum pressure, the hot water coming out in spurts. I quickly finish taking care of business before I hurry over to the sink, my heart pounding painfully against my chest.

“Mom?” I whisper as I search the reflection in the mirror for any sign of her.

Steam begins to form, so I lean forward, waiting for the inevitable message.

A fingertip impression appears, the sight of it causing my heart to race into overdrive. I grab onto the sides of the sink for support, since the sudden rush of blood makes me dizzy. I blink several times to clear my focus, and then I watch on, always in awe, as my mother’s cursive handwriting appears out of thin air.

It says, “Go with him.”

I read those three words several times before I turn to search the bathroom, hoping to catch a glimpse of her once again. “Go with who? Matt?” I’m so tired of the riddles. “Mom…can you…where are you?” I ask, pleading. “Just give me a straight answer and I’ll go to you! Please.” That last part comes out as a sob.

Icy tendrils begin to wrap themselves around my arm, almost as if someone is grabbing onto my forearm and tugging on it. I turn to face the mirror and gasp when I look upon my mother’s beautiful, radiant face. She smiles lovingly and then disappears, the word “Bowery” replacing her image. I reach out to touch it, for some reason hoping I can feel her, but it’s just a mirror, and with the hot water losing steam, the message begins to fade.

~*~*~*~*~

Anyway, squiders, if this sounds interesting to you, check it out!

Promo: An Unwitting Trickster by Kai Strand

Good afternoon, squiders! Got a book promo for you today. Looks interesting!

 


Young Adult Fantasy / Mythology

Date Published: 06-08-2021



Immortal Trickster, Luke, is starting a fresh life in a new-to-him seventeen-year-old body. With yet another lifespan stretched out in front of him, he’s questioning what purpose his endless compulsion to play tricks serves.

Agnar, a Thor look-alike claiming to be his adoptive brother from the planet Asperian, appears to declare Luke has been away from home too long. One problem. Luke doesn’t remember Agnar or living on another planet.

With more questions than answers, Luke cautiously agrees to accompany his “brother” back to Asperian, but the travel portal rejects him, leaving him behind to continue his mundane life of trickery. When interplanetary soldiers show up intent on killing him, he’s forced into hiding and his list of unanswered questions grows.

Will Luke remain trapped on Earth forever, pulling meaningless pranks? Or will he finally figure out his true purpose?


About the Author

Award winning Kai Strand, author of the action packed Super Villain Academy series, is often found exploring hiking trails and snapping pictures of waterfalls in her Oregon hometown. Mother of four, Kai uses her life experiences to connect with young readers. With middle grade works such as Save the Lemmings, The Weaver Tale series, and The Concord Chronicles series, and emotional YA adventures like Finding Thor, I Am Me, and Worth the Effort, Kai has written compelling stories that tweens, teens, and their parents love.

Kai has given numerous presentations in classrooms, to writer groups, and at workshops about her work and the writing process. She loves interacting with teens and gaining their insight on their latest reads as well as what they would like to see in future stories.

To find out more about Kai, please visit Kaistrand.com.


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Excerpt: A Season in Whispers by Jackson Kuhl

Good morning, squiders! Today I’ve got an excerpt from Jackson Kuhl’s A Season of Whispers, a new Gothic novel that was recently released.


Gothic Mystery/Horror

Publisher: Aurelia Leo

Date Published: 08-10-2020 / 

Audibook Launch April/May 2021


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In the summer of 1844, Tom Lyman flees to Bonaventure, a transcendentalist farming cooperative tucked away in eastern Connecticut, to hide from his past. There Lyman must adjust to a new life among idealists, under the fatherly eye of the group’s founder, David Grosvenor. When he isn’t ducking work or the questions of the eccentric residents, Lyman occupies himself by courting Grosvenor’s daughter Minerva.

But Bonaventure isn’t as utopian as it seems. One by one, Lyman’s secrets begin to catch up with him, and Bonaventure has a few secrets of its own. Why did the farm have an ominous reputation long before Grosvenor bought it? What caused the previous tenants to vanish? And who is playing the violin in the basement? Time is running out, and Lyman must discover the truth before he’s driven mad by the whispering through the walls.

A Season of Whispers is Jackson Kuhl’s debut novel of Gothic mystery, transcendentalist utopianism, and antediluvian hunger.

 


 

About the Author

 Jackson Kuhl is the author of the Gothic novel A Season of Whispers and the Revolutionary War biography Samuel Smedley, Connecticut Privateer. Kuhl has written for Atlas Obscura, Connecticut Magazine, the Hartford Courant, National Geographic News, and other publications. He lives in coastal Connecticut.

 

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Excerpt:

He awoke engulfed in darkness. Stumbling through his mnemonic geography he managed to raise the fire and find and light a lamp. Outside lay impenetrable black and chirping frogs and crickets; Lyman had no conception of the hour but judged he had missed supper at the main house. Resolution would have to abide his stomach until daybreak. He poured himself some water from the jug and washed his face and hands and unpacked his clothes into the dresser. The other bag he stuffed under the bed. With log and poker Lyman built up the fire as high as it would safely go and sat staring at it, and gradually a snowfall of calm gathered in his hair and upon his shoulders, an accumulation of peace he hadn’t known for weeks. Finally he was secure: ensphered in a globe of night on the edges of civilization, as isolated as a Sandwich Island maroon, but not so alone as to be lonely. The purest bred hound, raised on a diet of nothing except dirty stockings and pinpricks of blood on grass, could not track his footsteps from New York to the little stone ruin perched on the periphery of Connecticut wilderness. He wrapped the blanket around his shoulders and dozed again.

The second time he woke to the sound of a violin. He couldn’t have been long asleep. the fire burned brightly; but the night beyond the house had gone silent, with only the scraping of the bow across strings. Lyman lay there a long time, icy needles stabbing him, wondering where the music originated. There was no wind to carry it from the house or some other building. Maybe someone fiddled while walking along the road? An approaching visitor. Then the playing, mournful at first, kicked up to a merry jig, and Lyman jumped to raise the lamp wick and push on his shoes.

He followed the sound from the bedroom to the stairs and descended. It was louder on the first floor, seeming to rise from the boards rather than out-of-doors. When he reached the basement door, it abruptly cut off.

It so happened that the basement door at the top of the worn stone steps, along with the front and kitchen doors, had not been stripped of its iron and thus functioned as intended. Additionally—and Lyman hadn’t thought this odd in the daylight, but now wasn’t so sure—the door was fitted with a crossbar, which, as there was no direct entrance from outside to the basement, seemed unnecessary.

He undid the bar, opened the door, held the lamp high. Nothing but shadow—the light failed to reach the floor below. Neither glimmer of light nor sounding of fiddle note wafted from the darkness.

The flame of the lamp leaned and flickered. Air brushed the hairs of his short beard: a breeze on his face. Something moved toward him at fast speed he realized, something large, its mass pushing the air ahead of it. Even now it noiselessly rushed up the stairs at him.

Lyman slammed the door, shot the bar through its cleat, threw his weight against the wood—steeled himself for the impact against the other side.

None came. After a long moment he looked at his lamp. The flame stood straight as a soldier.

He took a deep breath. Upon returning to his room it didn’t take him long to convince himself he had imagined everything, that the only music had been the cotton of a dream clinging to his sleepy skull. He tossed another log on the fire and lay back on the mattress, listening as the usual players outside again took up their instruments and played him off to sleep.

Promo: The Dark that Dwells by Matt Digman and Ryan Roddy

Good morning, squiders! Today I’ve got a science fiction book for you! Feel free to check it out if it sounds interesting (it comes out today!).


Science Fiction

Release Date: July 10, 2020

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THE DARK THAT DWELLS is a debut space opera novel featuring an unforgettable ensemble cast, planet-hopping across an expansive galaxy on the brink of war.

The story unfolds through the viewpoints of four characters: SIDNA ORIN, a mercurial young arcanist, striving to gain the lost knowledge that could save her people. FALL ARDEN, honorable sword-for-hire, working as a guide on a dangerous expedition into an unexplored frontier. BAN MORGAN, disgraced marine wielding high-tech weaponry, chained by remorse and the ghosts of his past. TIEGER of WESTMARCH, fanatical zealot, empowered with the seemingly divine technology of his overlord and a starship feared across generations.

THE DARK THAT DWELLS holds virtual worlds lost in crystal relics, visceral close-quarters combat, mysteries of the divine and the arcane, companionship and bittersweet romance, insidious deception, and the looming threat of a horror who hungers for the souls of mankind.

This story is essential for readers craving robust, character-driven adventures on fantastic alien worlds, bullet-ridden spaceships barely held together, and the expansive infinity of space-time itself.

 


About the Authors

Matt Digman is exactly one half the creative force behind the epic fantasy space opera novel, The Dark That Dwells. Born and raised in Arkansas, he spent his free time studying Star Wars technical manuals, searching for his next favorite RPG, and watching his Star Trek: TNG VHS tapes until they fell apart. Basically, he was nerdy when nerdy wasn’t cool. He currently works as a pediatric emergency medicine physician in Alabama and writes when he ought to be sleeping.

Ryan Roddy grew up across the southeast, chasing her dream of becoming a professional actress. Though she eventually traded the stage for a stethoscope, she never gave up her love for great storytelling—or for playing dress up as an adult. Now she works as a pediatric emergency medicine physician to afford her cosplay and Disney obsessions. She loves the characters she’s written for The Dark That Dwells with her husband almost as much as she loves him and their four dogs.

 

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Promo: Ashes and Blood by Katie Zaber



This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will award a $25 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn commenter. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

“I’ll start at the beginning. Long ago, before roads, before we built structures, before medicine was discovered, before the government was created, before man gained any knowledge, there were The Five. Independent from each other, The Five had a mutual respect for one another. They knew their roles in the world and their duty. They were gods…”

An adventure begins when an otherworldly tree captures the attention of Megan and her friends. The environment morphs around them, transferring them to an exotic planet. Stuck in a rural town still maimed by the plague, a chance encounter with a familiar face gives Megan and her friends some security during their adjustment period.

While settling into new, promising lives, they are attacked and stalked by planet Dalya’s humanoid inhabitants, who focus on Megan. One dark night, after an epic, magical attack, the Fae King’s knight is sent to fetch Megan. When she wakes up a prisoner, she learns that there is much more to this strange world, and it is oddly more like her own than she ever would have expected.


Read an Excerpt

Megan

It gives me chills to stand in front of the forest that morphed in front of my very eyes. I’m hesitant to walk through the tree line and down the path. The last time I walked down a path for leisure was a week ago. We had planned a picnic. Something simple, always easy to organize and do. It wasn’t hard planning our walk to Brynjar’s cabin today. What could go wrong?

I try hard not to think of all the possible outcomes—from returning to Earth to traveling to a completely new world.

Sarah and Dana were able to walk by without stopping to take notice or reflect. Ciara paused for a moment and then smiled gleefully, saying she had a good feeling.

I don’t. I feel dizzy, angry, and like I need to vomit. I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to go into the woods that changed my life, I don’t want to meet Brynjar, and I don’t want to go back where it all started.

I don’t.

About the Author
Katie Zaber writes new adult fiction. With multiple projects spanning from being transported to an alternate universe, to past lives, reincarnation, and trapped souls, to prophesied pregnancies—there are more stories to tell. She lives in North New Jersey with her boyfriend.

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Dalya-Series-110665970357251
Website: https://zaberbooks.com/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Ashes-Blood-Dalya-Book-1-ebook/dp/B087YJ8W87/ref=sr_1_1

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Promo: The Thief’s Betrayal by Cassondra Benton

Good morning, squiders! I have a fantasy novel for you today.



Fantasy Fiction
Date Published: February 4th 2019
Publisher: Rebel Press

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Someone is murdering the citizens of Kira’s village, and her fellow thieves are being blamed. Desperate to clear their names and restore the reputation of the guild, Kira embarks on a dangerous mission to infiltrate the palace and enlist the help of the king and queen.
One man stands in her way, Chaol, the head guard, who threatens to steal the thief’s heart.
And he’s not the only one. Her childhood crush on Badrick might finally be developing into something more than friendship. But only if they can figure out who is threatening to kill them before it is too late.
Kira wants to trust Kingsman, the man who took her in and raised her as his own, but she is starting to wonder if he has been lying to her all along.
Can the three men closest to her keep Kira safe long enough for her to carry out her plan to save the village? Or will the secrets they have kept from her destroy her happiness—and her life—before she has a chance to clear her name and prove the innocence of those she cares about the most?


About the Author

When Cassondra was growing up, if she wasn’t competing in sports, she was usually writing, reading, or drawing. It wasn’t long before she formed an addiction to the thrills of fantasy, which led her to write her debut novel, The Thief’s Betrayal. Cassondra is currently attending college. She was born and raised in Southern California where she lives in a home overflowing with books.


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See you next week!

Promo: Phantom Frost by Alfred Wurr

Morning, squiders! Hope you’re having a good Thanksgiving week, if you’re somewhere that celebrates such things, and if not, hopefully you’re at least not buried in snow, like I am.

Today I’ve got a sale for you. This book sounds super cool, not going to lie. The book is normally $5.99, so if it sounds interesting to you too, it’s a good deal.



Sci-fi Fantasy
Date Published: October 2019
Publisher: Wurreal Games

On Sale for $.99

A unique sci-fi/fantasy crossover novel set in the universe of the forthcoming Wurreal Games video game.

Shivurr remembers little before the Bodhi Institute, the secret government installation where he’s been held and studied like a lab rat for the past decade.

It hasn’t been all bad, though, for a soda-pop-loving sci-fi fanboy, especially in 1983. He’s got all the TV, movies and arcade games he could ever want. But lately, flashes of his forgotten past have invaded his dreams: visions of an ancient chamber where the mysteries of his origin may finally be resolved.

Compelled to find it, Shivurr embarks on a quest, fleeing the facility in the dark of night. Escaping is easy; the Bodhi Group guards didn’t dream he’d ever try. The Nevada desert is dangerous for warm bloods; for a snowman, it’s pretty much suicide, even for one with his seemingly magical command of frost and ice.

Hunted by Bodhi Group agents, keeping to the shade when he can find it, he’s determined to survive; he’s got a feeling the world may depend on it. And, if he doesn’t, well, everyone melts eventually, right?


Excerpt

Chapter 1

Lunar Crater

No matter how cool you are, everyone melts, eventually. Those words echoed through my head as I raced across the desert floor, heading northeast toward Lunar Crater, under the Nevada sun. Where I had heard them before, I couldn’t recall. My memory wasn’t what it used to be, but I would hear those words spoken to me in my dreams sometimes, stepping out of the inky black fog of my damaged memory. I think someone close to me had said them ages ago. They were strange words since the only person I knew of for whom melting was a concern was me. Regardless, seldom before was that fate as likely to occur for someone—that being me—as it was today.

I’d been gulping dry air and daydreaming of cold cans of soda pop, muttering product slogans to myself to keep my spirits up for several miles now. Steam rose from my icy shoulders, trailing me in wisps, disappearing into the dry desert air a few feet back. My cold feet left wet footprints on the sandy ground that soon evaporated into nothingness. I kicked a loose rock, stumbled, but caught myself before falling.

Without more moisture, I’ll soon be eating dust, I thought. Just a hot mess for the agents to find. Scratch that—my corpse won’t be around long enough. I’ll melt away, leaving only a trail of faint roundish footprints leading nowhere. They’ll think I flew away, picked up by Soviet agents in a helicopter. I’d love to see Dixon’s face, thinking the Reds got me.

Nineteen hours earlier, I’d escaped a prison—the labs of a top-secret research facility called the Bodhi Institute. For about a decade, I’d been an unwilling participant in more experiments than I care to remember. I’d slipped out a side door in the middle of the night with a small cache of supplies provided by my best friend, Scott. It was easier than expected, but I guess I didn’t seem suicidal to the Bodhi Group watchmen. The weak part of me wished I were back there: trapped but cool, a glass of ice water in hand, watching TV, reading a book, or taking a nap. But my nightmares made that impossible. I’d ignored them for months, while they haunted only my sleep. But when they’d invaded my waking hours, I had to go. I had to find answers. I had to find the ancient chamber that stood at their epicentre and that some instinct told me lay ahead of me, in the desert waste.

I didn’t know who I was or where I came from. Not really; not fully. Sure, I remembered most of the years of my detention with crystal clarity. I knew what I was: an organism of snow and ice, unique in all the world. A snowman, they called me; cold hands with a warm heart. I knew what I was capable of; even with no legs, my feet run like the wind and allow me to jump as high as I am tall. I can do other things—things that frighten and astonish people, people like those chasing me. So much so, they’d locked me up and studied me like a lab rat for the past decade. I remembered all that, but little to nothing further into my past than my capture and imprisonment. And I remembered my name, Shivurr, but it was a name, an identity, that lacked history or context, which was both freeing and frustrating.

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About the Author




Alfred Wurr is a Canadian author, video game and software developer, computer scientist, and former Olympic wrestler.


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On Sale for $.99




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I should be back Friday to tell you how Nano went. Eat some mashed potatoes for me, squiders.

Promo: House of Ash & Brimstone, by Megan Starks

Good morning, squiders. I’ve got a book promo for you! Today’s offering is a paranormal romance, House of Ash & Brimstone by Megan Starks.

Hell has come to collect…

…but Gisele Walker has no plans to pay the debt.

As a half-demon paranormal bounty hunter, Gisele is used to flirting with death, but stealing a curio and opening a portal to Hell’s demon court is more than your average day job.

Now, she’s partnered with an infuriatingly handsome demon, Shade, who has more levels of grey than she can count.

Who can she trust to help save the city as Baltimore burns to the ground and ghouls roam the streets?

With a white-hot attraction burning between them and secrets blocking their path, Gisele must face her past and venture into the twisted heart of the demon royal court.

But with no memory of her past…

…will she be able to save their future?

Read an Excerpt

A jumble of computer equipment and business supplies littered the office floor. Orange, blue, and manila folders spilled from an overturned metal cabinet. And in the shadows, Shade sat slumped in her green swivel chair, the hundred-page contract in his hands. He’d torn half of the place and the whole of her desk apart. He’d rummaged through her files, knocked over her pen and paperclip jars, and ripped the bottom right drawer out completely, dropping it on the floor. It was the drawer she kept locked—the drawer she’d left the contract in.

Clearly, it was what he’d been searching for.

“Real mature,” she said, irritated with his reckless, temperamental violence and his blatant disregard for her privacy. “Find what you were looking for?”

No doubt he planned to tattle on her to their boss. Her contract aside, the grimgolem was going to blow a gasket when he accounted for the damage to their computers alone.

“I hope it was worth it for you,” she continued, “because I am not cleaning this up.”

Rather than glare at her, he looked away. His brows drew together, lips pressing a tight line. “It wasn’t supposed to happen this way,” he said, voice raw. “They’ve tricked me.”

“Who has?” Gisele asked, but he ignored her.

The muscles in his arms corded as he gripped the contract tighter, crinkling the thick stack of pages, and she knew who he meant. He really was working with them—the elghoul and its master. For them. Working against her.

Son of a gun.

She chucked a stapler at him hard enough to bruise his chest, then crossed the room, closing the distance until she could have yanked him up by the collar of his soiled, bloody shirt. Instead, she smacked her hand on the desktop. Wood splintered.

“The woman in this contract? Who is she?”

“I can’t tell you that,” he answered, not even looking at her. Not even now. He sounded so defeated. “They’re going to kill you, and they’re going to use me to do it.”

“But why?”

“Because they’re cruel.” Bitterness swirled in his voice. “Because they can.”

And if they demanded it of him, he’d do it, just like that? What kind of a cold-blooded monster was he?

“Are you going to?” she asked, dreading his answer. “Going to rip me apart with your claws? Tear my throat out?”

The image of him, darkly winged and terrifying in the Office of the Paranormal, came crawling back, unwanted.

“Would you really do it?” she asked. It hurt, but she needed to hear him say it. “What happened to ‘I’ll protect you, so you don’t have to be afraid’?”

His little declaration hadn’t even lasted four hours.

“I won’t have a choice.”

About the Author:
Megan Starks is the award-winning author of the Gatewalkers urban fantasy series and a game writer at Obsidian Entertainment. A Romance Writers of America Golden Heart® finalist, Writers Guild of America award nominee, and Pitch Wars alumna with an MFA in fiction, Megan enjoys reading and writing paranormal romance, urban fantasy, and fantasy novels. Whether it’s dark demons, brooding vampires, howling werewolves, or feisty witches, Megan loves it all.

When she’s not penning novels about magic and strong, kick-butt heroines, she enjoys playing video games and spending time with her husband and their cat, Sushi, in California.

Look for Night of Sunder & Sorrow, the sequel to House of Ash & Brimstone, coming in Spring 2020.

Get a free prequel to House of Ash & Brimstone by joining Megan’s mailing list at: http://www.fictivate.com/books

Crave more #Gatewalkers? For updates and to chat about writing, video games, coffee, and cute kitty-cats, come hang out on any of the author’s social media sites.

Social media links: Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/fictivate
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/fictivate
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/fictivate
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16069896.Megan_Starks
Bookbub: http://www.bookbub.com/profile/2811299533
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Megan-Starks/e/B07YBKHQBV/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1
Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/dwlkwf

Buy links: The book is $0.99 during the tour.

Amazon: https://smarturl.it/Gate1Amz
Amazon Print (won’t be live until released day): https://smarturl.it/Gate1AmzPrt
BN: https://smarturl.it/Gate1BN
Kobo: https://smarturl.it/Gate1Kobo
iBooks: https://smarturl.it/Gate1iBooks
GoodReads: https://smarturl.it/Gate1GR
Publisher (City Owl Press): https://smarturl.it/Gate1CO

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Promo: Knightmare Arcanist by Shami Stovall

Morning, squiders! Happy Tuesday! Today I have Knightmare Arcanist by Shami Stovall for your perusal. (There’s an excerpt at the bottom as well.)




YA Fantasy
Date Published: June 18th 2019
Publisher: Capital Station Books

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Magic. Sailing. A murderer among heroes.

Gravedigger Volke Savan wants nothing more than to be like his hero, the legendary magical swashbuckler, Gregory Ruma. First he needs to become an arcanist, someone capable of wielding magic, which requires bonding with a mythical creature. And he’ll take anything—a pegasus, a griffin, a ravenous hydra—maybe even a leviathan, like Ruma.

So when Volke stumbles across a knightmare, a creature made of shadow and terror, he has no reservations. But the knightmare knows a terrible secret: Ruma is a murderer out to spread corrupted magic throughout their island nation. He’s already killed a population of phoenixes and he intends to kill even more.

In order to protect his home, his adopted sister, and the girl he admires from afar, Volke will need to confront his hero, the Master Arcanist Gregory Ruma.

A fast-paced flintlock fantasy for those who enjoy How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell, Unsouled (Cradle Series) by Will Wight, and Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan.

About the Author


Shami Stovall relies on her BA in History and Juris Doctorate to make her living as an author and history professor in the central valley of California. She writes in a wide range of fiction, from crime thrillers to fantasy to science-fiction. Stovall loves reading, playing video games, entertaining others with stories, and writing about herself in the third person.

 

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Excerpt:

I outlined a fresh grave for the cemetery as bells rang from the isle’s tower, signifying the start of the celebrations. The soil reeked of ammonia and rot, but the crisp morning breeze washed the scent away, dispersing it over the ocean. I removed my shirt, allowing the wind to cool me while I worked.

Every ten years, the people on the Isle of Ruma gathered to watch the fledgling phoenixes bond with a few chosen mortals. Lamplighters did their duty despite the glorious sunshine, each lamp’s fire representing the flames of phoenixes. Merchants cleared their horses and carts from the main road in anticipation of the crowds.

This was my second Day of Phoenixes. A decade ago, on my fifth birthday, I missed the bonding ceremony to attend my father’s trial. He was convicted of murder, but because he hadn’t been born on the island, he was taken to the mainland for final judgement. That was the last time I saw him.

Although the last Day of Phoenixes had been inauspicious, I intended to change that. Once I had finished digging a shallow grave, I would make my way into town.

I slammed the shovel’s head into the dirt and scooped deep. The cemetery sat near the edge of the island, far from those gathering to observe the hopeful students trying to win the favor of the phoenixes.

Tradition stated that anyone who handled sewage, waste, and dead bodies wasn’t allowed to attend the bonding ceremony, which was just my luck. After my father was sent away, I could’ve been given to any profession for apprenticeship. I could’ve gone to the carpenter and learned the craft of woodworking, or I could’ve gone to the silversmith and learned the art of fine metal work, but misfortune hounded me like a shadow. I was given to the gravekeeper, slated to dig corpse-holes until the end of time, forever exiled from the festivities.

I still intended to go. Even if it meant ignoring the traditions of the isle—something unheard of on our tiny spit of land—no one could stop me from proving myself to a phoenix. No one.

I scooped another mound of dirt and tossed it to the side.

“You look deep in thought, Volke,” my fellow corpse-hole apprentice, Illia, said. “What’re you planning?”

“I’m waiting for the trials to begin.”

“And then what?”

“You’ll see.”

Illia sat in the shade of a cypress tree, her legs crossed and her chin in both hands. Most people hated the thought of sitting on graves, since it was supposed to bring bad luck, but Illia wasn’t like most people. She leaned back on a headstone and exhaled as the ocean wind rushed by, catching her wavy brown hair and revealing the scars on the side of her face.

 She held a hand over the marks, like she always did. The moment the wind died down, she pulled some of her hair around to cover her scars, hiding the old knife wounds that had taken her right eye.

 I finished one half of the grave and huffed.

Illia and I lived in a tiny cottage on the edge of the cemetery, apprenticed to Ruma’s sole gravekeeper. We both held the glorious title of gravedigger. Like me, she had no family. Well, we had each other, and Gravekeeper William, but he hardly counted.

For ten years, Illia and I had considered ourselves brother and sister, and siblings always know each other’s mood. Illia displayed all the telltale signs of irritation—narrowed eye, rarely blinking, her mouth turned down in a slight frown. She hated the fact I was keeping secrets from her. If I didn’t explain myself quick, she’d exact her revenge.

“I don’t want to become the next gravekeeper,” I said as I threw a mound of dirt off to the side.

With an eyebrow sarcastically raised, Illia asked, “So you’re going to impress a phoenix and leave this place, is that it?”

“That’s right.”

“Only two phoenixes were born this year,” she said, wagging her finger. “And the schoolmaster has already picked his two favored disciples to win the right to bond. No one wants you to take a phoenix from either of those try-hards.”

“I don’t care.” I scooped out another clump of dirt, my grip on the shovel so tight it hurt. “Bonding with a phoenix is too important. Besides, no one on this isle likes me anyway. Why should I start caring about their opinions now?”

Review: In Search of a Witch’s Soul

Good morning, squiders! Today’s I’ve got an urban fantasy noir story for you.


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Urban Fantasy Noir
Publisher: Ink & Magick
Date Published: March 5, 2019

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Human, private detective Anna Caill isn’t keen on the prohibition of magic enacted by the 18th Amendment, but she won’t deny it’s good for business. The coppers couldn’t care less about the witches’ problems, giving her any number of clients to choose from.

When mysterious witch Jesse Hunt saunters into her office, he and his case will test her limits. While a killer stalks the magical underworld, Anna is hired to find Jesse’s friend, the high priest of an ancient coven.

As her case unravels, Anna is forced to confront her addiction to a dark spell in this urban fantasy noir.


About the Author

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D. writes stories she wants to read. Her love of the worlds of fiction led her to earn a Bachelor’s in English from Wright State University.

When she isn’t reading or writing, she’s probably hiking, crafting, watching anime, Korean television, Bollywood, or old movies. She may also be getting her geek on while planning her next steampunk cosplay with friends.

She lives in Wisconsin with her husband (John) and cat (Yin).


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Review

There’s a lot to like here. I love the world, which is a mixture of historical and urban fantasy. The story takes place in an alternate prohibition time period, where witches (which are tangibly different from humans) are known about and, if not fully accepted into society, somewhat integrated.

The noir elements are well done also, and I didn’t see the twist at the end coming at all (though it is properly foreshadowed–I just fell for the misdirection), so kudos on that. It’s a quick read, and the story moves along well.

Really my biggest issue was Anna, our main character. She’s a great private detective and her voice is fine, but man, does she have a major blind spot a mile high. I know noir main characters need to be flawed, and it is standard to have said flaw be related to their relationships, but it was obvious from the first flashback that she was operating under incorrect assumptions, and there’s no growth in said flaw throughout the book (and, indeed, it gets worse). I liked her well enough otherwise, but this was a major issue for me, and I don’t know if I would read another book following her unless I knew there was some sort of resolution in this area.

Bottom line: great, unique world with fun worldbuilding, fast read. Some characterization issues for me, but that’s completely arbitrary and another reader might not be bothered. I’d recommend picking it up if you like urban fantasy or noir with different-than-the-norm elements.