Book Tour & Giveaway: Before Again by Claire S. Duffy -Genre: Urban Fantasy @fikabooksclairev @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours “Buffy Meets Outlander”

Welcome to the book tour for Before Again by Claire S. Duffy! Read on for more details and a chance to win a copy of the book and a big basket of Glasgow goodies!

front-cover

Before Again (The Shadow City Chronicles #1)

Publication Date: November 30, 2022

Genre: Urban Fantasy/ Paranormal “Buffy meets Outlander”

He’s been killing for hundreds of years.

But he reckoned without her.

Kirsty has always been alone.

It’s fine. It’s what she’s chosen. People, as a general rule, are more trouble than they’re worth. It’s why God invented batteries.

But when she comes across the man being burned alive on the banks of the Clyde, she can’t just let him die. Without a second thought she batters in to save his life…

And accidentally tears the fabric of time.

Now an ancient serial killer is on the loose and only Kirsty can make him regret he was ever born.

Even if it means killing the only person who ever loved her.

Sometimes she can bloody well see all these magic destiny shenanigans far enough.

The twisty, laugh out loud funny start to a seductive fantasy series. Buffy meets Outlander with a side order of Taggart. If you like fast-paced action, Glasgow humour and women who take no prisoners, you’ll love Before Again.

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Excerpt

Kirsty ran faster and faster, desperately trying to find that rhythm that cleared her mind. Her lungs burned and her legs trembled, but she pounded on and on. She swerved left, then right, vaulting over the railing around Queens Park as though it were nothing, then raced herself up the path to the flagpole. A swan hissed at her and a dog’s bark echoed in the moonlight. She leapt onto the platform around the flagpole from the path below, clearing at least three metres straight up.

Kirsty drank in the view as she caught her breath. Her brain whirred like a possessed waltzer. Half-thoughts, snatches of feeling, fragments of horror zipped and sizzled and seared across her mind. The white light and the crack of Owen’s spine snapping back into place rattled around and around until Kirsty was dizzy.

What was he? What was she?

The city was spread out before her, lights twinkling in the blackness. The Campsies barely an outline against deep purple clouds. Her city. A city that had ricocheted from poverty to riches and back again; that was famous for being one of the friendliest and most dangerous places in the world. A cultural capital of Europe that had an outbreak of bubonic plague in the twentieth century. A city riddled with vibratey time holes and lepers who play Simon Says with wee girls and maniac serial killers who can’t be killed.

A strange, icy sense of calm enveloped Kirsty. She looked up, and the stars were dazzling, celestial fireworks twinkling a hundred colours, filling her with awe and strength. The night was still, but a gust of wind swirled around her, whipping up her hair, whispering something she couldn’t catch.

A glittering sound crackled in the air. It sounded like a fire that had almost burnt itself out, leaving only red-hot coals to shimmer and snap. The air itself was alive, fizzing with magic.

Kirsty thought of Mrs McCafferty’s words. Just focus on the next step. Could she do that? A fox screeched in the dark. The Shadow had gone to the Barrowlands that evening to find another victim. Owen. Kirsty pictured him coming up the stairs, all smooth and suave in his tailored suit and his silver cigarette case.

He might have been running his victim’s tights through his fingers right now, slowly approaching as she cowered in terror. He might have been displaying her body, ready for some poor bugger to stumble across in the morning. Instead, he was hiding in the dark, trying to put his face back together. That was something.

They hadn’t won the war. Kirsty wasn’t even sure what the war was yet. But they won a wee battle.

Available on Amazon

About the Author

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When she’s not wandering around Glasgow dreaming up sexy vikings and tears in the fabric of time, Claire S Duffy writes best selling the crime fiction series Glasgow Kiss  and the Stockholm Murders under CS Duffy. She’s also a screenwriter and blogs about the feminist dawn of Hollywood at Fully Fifty-Fifty on Substack.

Claire S. Duffy – Fika Books

 

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Book Tour: A Kinder City by Peter Taylor-Gooby – Genre: Eco Sci-Fi/ Dystopian @PeterT_GBook @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #AKinderCity #Scifi #BookTour

Welcome to the book tour for A Kinder City by Peter Taylor-Gooby. Read on for details and grab yourself a copy today!

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A Kinder City

Publication Date: April 28, 2023

Genre: Eco Sci-Fi/ Sci-fi/ Dystopian

What place for love in a city ruled by greed?
Sarah, spirited and caring, is on her first trip outside her village. The city is dominated by the grim law of the market – the only relations permitted are between buyer and seller. Her gift of a wagonload of food to those who need it is a crime. David, a serious-minded police cadet who naively trusts in the law, arrests her and finds himself falling in love.
Franklin, the richest man in Market World, puts a price on everything. His giant factories spew forth road beasts – the huge machines that devastate the lands beyond the City in pursuit of yet more wealth.
How can David prove his love to Sarah? And how can they save her village and build a kinder city?
A gripping and thought-provoking eco-sci-fi novel, set in a world a little bit like ours.

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Excerpt

In an overheated semi-basement, seven storeys beneath the Council Chamber, David awaits Sarah’s Audit Hearing. The windows are horizontal slits high up the walls and the overhead strip-lights are still on, although it’s before 11.00 am and bright sunshine outside. The room is barely wide enough to hold the dais with the wooden table for the Assessor, her Recorder and the clerk, with the chair for the witness to the right and the dock for the defaulter to the left. He feels stifled and wonders if he suffers from asthma.

He has found a seat at the back of the courtroom on an upright chair that grates when he moves. He shouldn’t be here. He crept in with the public through the main door, and was squeezed against a young man with inky fingers, a notebook, and furtive eyes. As soon as he sees the uniform the young man introduces himself as a TV reporter, but doesn’t give a channel. He slips his cuff back to show his wristband.

‘We pay for your stories. Do you think Franklin has the answer to lawlessness in the Old Town?’

David touches the insignia on his sleeve: ‘No comment.’

A group of young women and men in blue uniforms without badges fill the benches at the front of the room. David guesses they are cadets from the Academy. Not so long ago I was one of you, he thinks. A cadet whose hair seems unruly despite the regulation cut looks back at him and says something to the young woman next to him. She glances round and giggles.

The Assessor enters at the door behind the bench, a spare black woman in a navy blue trouser suit with the badge of office – the Golden Balance – on her breast pocket. Her clerk follows her. Everyone rises with a scraping of chairs and David is forced back against the main door.

The Assessor surveys the room through metal-rimmed spectacles, sighs, and sits down.

‘What have you got for us today?’

The clerk bows his head. He’s short, plump-faced and his hair needs combing. He reminds David of a pocket spaniel.

‘Long list, Madam. First case, Major Breach of the One Law. Conveying a cargo without contract. Intent to supply said cargo without payment.’

‘Bring the defaulter to scrutiny.’

David is forced to stand as the main door opens and the Court-Serjeant enters, a square-shouldered older man in a gold-braided uniform who scowls at the Bench, the Assessor and the audience. He leads Sarah into the courtroom. She glances round the room, as if noting the details for when she tells her friends the story.

The Serjeant grasps her arm and the clerk slaps his hand on the desk:

‘Proceed.’

She nods to him, picks the officer’s fingers from her arm with her other hand and strolls forward.

‘Take her to the dock.’

‘Please. I’ll find my own way.’

The clerk snorts.

‘Silence.’

She takes her position to the left of the bench, the Serjeant behind her, and looks round. David feels she is searching him out. The journalist licks his biro and scribbles at his pad.

The Assessor leans towards her.

‘You are Ms S.Cordell, known as Sarah. You are called to scrutiny for a serious Audit transgression. I have reviewed the evidence and am minded to order full compensation with costs. Have you anything to say?’

Sarah frowns, and for an instant David feels dizzy, as if everything is back to front. She is the judge and he stands accused in the dock. Then her face lights up.

‘Not really. I was taking some fruit and other produce from Coneystone in the wagon with Juno. We wanted to share it with our cousins and friends in the Old Town. First time I’ve done the trip, we had a great crop this year. These people,’ she waves a hand towards David, ‘him and his mates, jumped out on me, all dressed up like comedy policemen. Pity it was muddy, they kept falling over. He’ll do it now if you’re lucky.’

Someone sniggers and the Assessor fixes her gaze on the cadets.

Sarah keeps talking.

‘It’s not funny. They scared Juno.’

‘That’s of no importance. The question is: have you a valid contract?’ The Assessor pauses a moment, then raises her voice. ‘You have no contract, it’s idle to deny it. Answer a simple question: who pays you for the apples?’

‘But it’s a good act, you really should see it. Then they frightened Juno and upset the applecart.’ Her face darkens. ‘So to speak. Then they took me here and kept me in and I’m worried about Juno. The apples will spoil. So will the blackberries.’ She turns to the court: ‘You haven’t seen where they’ve put Juno have you? Lovely beast, heavy horse, red ribbons in her mane. You wouldn’t miss her.’

The Assessor thrusts her face towards Sarah.

‘You will address the question. The longer you waste the court’s time, the more it will cost you.’

Sarah smooths her forehead with her hand.

‘Oh no, I’m sorry, didn’t I say? The apples and everything, they’re all presents. Brilliant harvest this year. You can have some.’

She looks round at all of them, smiling at her good fortune.

The Assessor straightens her back. She glances at the clerk, who nods.

‘Thank you. Transfer of commodity at zero price: major breach.’

‘I’m sorry? Would you like some apples? Don’t you want witnesses? Look, one of them’s over there.’

David colours and hunches down in his chair, but he can’t stop himself gazing at her. He feels as if everyone in the court is craning round to look at him.

The clerk slaps the desk again.

‘Silence!’

Sarah raises an eyebrow but says nothing. The Assessor sighs.

‘Breach of the One Law. Full confession. Witnesses are unnecessary.’

David feels the tension flow out of his shoulders.

Sarah shakes her head, her face comical. Her eyelid flutters. David can’t tell if she just winked at him.

‘I’m sorry?’

‘The One Law directs that all transactions must be between willing buyer and willing seller at an agreed price. Law of the Market. You do not give people things that you could sell to them. There are no exceptions.’

‘But….’ Sarah stops, her mouth open.

‘Be quiet. You have incurred substantial expenses.’

She gestures to the clerk, who reads out staccato from a thin strip of paper:

‘Deployment twelve Enforcers, 1 captain, 1 sergeant, 1 half-sergeant for 4 hours: 300 credits; Item: deduction for value of training exercise: minus 110 credits.

Uniform cleaning: 10 credits.

Accommodation, item: basic cell by one night: 200 credits; item: stabling and incidentals: 4 credits

Security during accommodation: 50 credits

Incidentals: toothpaste, soap, towel etc: 5 credits.

Courtroom, third grade, by one hour, staffing and incidentals: 100 credits.

Compensation: inconvenience of arrest to the detainee, standard rate 2 credits an hour by 18 hours: minus 36 credits. Item: proceeds, sale of 1 horse: minus 17 credits. Item: proceeds sale of cart and contents: minus 32 credits.’

David keeps his eyes on Sarah. She raises her eyebrows again and shrugs her shoulders.

‘Total 474 credits.’

‘Thank you. Ms Cordell, your breach cost Market World 669 credits minus 110 credits value of training provided, 36 credits citizen compensation and 49 credits sale of confiscated items. Your civic recompense is set at 474 credits. Next case.’

Sarah stares at her.

‘You must be joking! What is a credit anyway?’

The Assessor blinks.

‘Next case.’

‘But what about Juno?’

The clerk remarks to no-one ‘Additional court time may be purchased at 1.4 credits a minute.’

The Court-Serjeant seizes Sarah by the arm and hustles her towards the door. David rises and pulls his chair out of the way. She catches his eye as she passes and looks back at him and grimaces. It strikes him to the heart. He grips the door and stops it from shutting. The next case, a market trader accused of short weight, in a shabby suit with the jacket too tight under his shoulders, is brought in.

A buzz of conversation rises from the cadets. The young man who stared back at David tilts his head towards the young woman next to him and whispers something that is terribly important to them both. He takes the young woman’s hand, ignoring the others. The Assessor glowers at them

‘Silence! Or I shall clear the court.’

The journalist flips to the next page, sucks at his pen and writes.

David slips round the door and pulls it shut behind him. He leans against it for a full half-minute, his eyes closed.

He knows that the staircase in front of him leads up to the main hall where fines are paid. He turns left and strides down the corridor towards the barracks block. Voices sound from the guard room and he dodges left again into a narrower corridor with raw concrete walls lit by unshaded light-bulbs, then up an iron spiral stair. He listens for foot-steps, then creeps across a metal landing as softly as if he were on a close surveillance exercise and it was Adam assessing him. He listens again, and passes through a side-door into the Process Room. He blinks in the daylight that streams in from tall windows overlooking City Square. His heart feels tight in his chest. He has never in his life done anything like this. He doesn’t know why he is doing it now. He is a fool.

The duty Enforcer sits at the metal desk with the band-reader on it and the empty metal chair opposite, examining her finger nails. She slips something into her mouth. David clenches his fist, relaxes it and lets the door slam shut. The sound echoes across the room. She jerks upright and glances towards him, and pulls her jacket straight.

He knows her, they did their basic training together. Six weeks of square-bashing with Curtis shouting at you.

‘Hi Jan. Your lucky day. I’m to take over.’

He didn’t plan that. Where did it come from?

Jan frowns.

‘Who says? I’m here ‘til 18.00 hours.’

She chews at something.

‘Curtis. Extra duty – for yesterday.’

‘I heard. Curtis doesn’t like you, does he?’

‘Yeah, well. It’s a long story, I think he was a bit scared of the horse. Guess he likes you.’

‘Sure he does.’ She studies his face. ‘Are you alright?’

‘Yeah, well. I’ll be OK.’

‘That bad, is it? You’ve got friends you know.’

‘Sure… Thanks.’

She touches his hand.

‘All yours. I’m off.’

The side-door clicks to. David expels the air from his lungs and breathes in slowly to calm the throbbing in his head. He touches the band-reader in front of him. He’s used it a thousand times. You key in the amount, touch your wristband against the screen and it deducts or adds on the credits.

No citizen in Market World is ever without a wristband. It’s fastened to your wrist at the citizenship ceremony when you pass eighteen and goes with you to the grave. You get lessons on it in “Lifeskills” at school. It only works if the buyer assents to the deal and that is infallible. Willing seller, willing buyer. As the signs in the street say: ‘You’re not dressed without it’, ‘No pay, no get’ and ‘You are your account’.

He swallows and pushes the hair back off his forehead.

The door is thrown open and the Serjeant enters, still gripping Sarah by the arm. He marches her up to the desk and releases her. He reminds David of an elderly bullfrog.

‘All yours. Watch her. She tried to chat up my deputy in the Guard Room.’

‘I did not. I just said he had nice eyes for a comedian.’ She stares at David. ‘Nice to meet you again.’

She holds out her hand.

David reaches out, then lays his hand palm-down on the desk.

‘The defaulter will maintain discipline,’ barks the Serjeant. ‘Sit.’

Sarah looks round her, pulls out the chair, sits and crosses her legs.

David squares his shoulders.

‘Alright. I’ll take over from here.’

‘The court placed Ms Cordell in my charge.’

The Serjeant keeps his hand on Sarah’s shoulder.

‘Until her debt is discharged. Which is now.’

He looks the Serjeant in the eye. After a pause the officer drops his hand and pulls on a leather glove.

‘Very well.’

The door slams behind him. David licks his lips and looks at Sarah and tries to smile. He has the script by heart, he learned it last night.

‘You understand that you must pay civic recompense as decided by the court. 474 credits. Touch your wristband to the reader.’

‘Where’s Juno? I don’t care about the cart, but she’s not used to being away from me.’

‘Your possessions will be auctioned to defray expenses. Just touch your wristband here. See that number? That’s your account: “Debit 474”. But you must have a wristband. It’s always issued at the citizenship ceremony when you leave school. You could buy that cartload ten times over with that many credits. Twenty times.’

He taps the reader. She grins at him.

‘We don’t bother with those things in the villages, waste of time.’ She starts to get up. ‘Let’s go and find Juno. I need to get on my way.’

‘She’s OK, I sorted it. She’s being looked after.’

‘Are you sure? What do you know about horses?’

‘She’s OK.’

‘Tell me about Juno.’

She rests her chin on her fingertips and fixes her eyes on him. He places his hands together on the table.

‘She’s a black Percheron. 18 hands.’

She nods and her cheeks dimple.

‘She’s being fed OK?’

‘All the hay she wants – and crushed oats. And apples, but not too many. I tell you, she’s OK. Trust me. Now touch your wristband to the reader.’

She’s puzzled. Her brow furrows in tiny creases.

‘What wristband? I told you we don’t go in for them. My sister’ll plait you one out of wool. She’s only nine.’

‘You really don’t understand do you? You are in Market World. You pay for everything, you have to. You’ve taken up the time of the court and the resources of the Enforcers. No-one is going to lock you up for free.’

She giggles and the tiny dints dimple her cheeks. She places her hand over her mouth.

‘Sorry, but you just said…’

‘I know. Everything is for sale here, you get nothing without paying for it. The One Law – law of the market. It’s what give s us a well-ordered society, why we’re so much better off than you are in the villages.’

‘Sort of “All for One and One for All?” Free for All?’

‘Sort of – but it works. Don’t you see it?’

He craves for her to understand, to see how his world is better, to want to be part of it. That’s why he’s here. For her. He will be her guide, her mentor, her friend and she will trust him.

She shakes her head.

‘You really shouldn’t take these things so seriously. It doesn’t make you happy, does it?’

There’s a sharpness in her glance, as if it’s in her mind to say something else, but she continues: ‘Anyway, I don’t have a wristband.’

He shows her the numbers on the screen set into the black band on his left wrist. ‘There. See – all my credits: eight thousand seven hundred and fifty two, until I get paid. It’s all connected up to central computing – they keep the records. It’s how we do things.’

He feels a flush of pleasure at teaching her. She’s so confident and, at the same time, so wrong, so much in need of help and he can give it. His left leg trembles against the desk. He wills it to be calm.

She folds her arms.

‘Yeah, I heard stories about that. But I told you, we don’t bother with that kind of stuff – it’s no fun.’

‘Listen. In the past was the Great Hunger. Didn’t they tell you about it in school? Everything was terrible, people fought for food, children starved and warlords ruled the land. So many died they could no longer bury the dead.’

She shivers. ‘Sounds nasty.’

He finds it hard to concentrate.

‘Look out of that window.’ He points over City Square. ‘Can’t you see? Everyone going about their business. The shops, full of food and clothes and everything you need. The residence blocks where everybody lives.’

The words come more easily as he remembers the lesson. She mutters something to herself.

‘What’s that?’

‘Don’t look as if they’re having much fun.’

‘Clinics where you can buy medicine, schools and training colleges where you can pay for a degree, markets where citizens buy and sell at a fair price. Above them, the towers of the Entrepreneurs. And everywhere the Enforcers watching over us all, trusted by everyone, making sure we follow the rules.’

She peers out through the window.

‘They’re not happy. No-one’s smiling, nobody stops for a chat. Why aren’t there children playing? Or animals? And their clothes are so drab. Don’t you like to see trees?’ She spreads out her arms. ‘They’re so lovely this time of year.’

 ‘Everyone’s busy, they’re going about their business. That’s what you do in Market World. Children are in school or training or working. No time to waste. We keep the beasts in their sheds and the trees in the park. What’s the profit in bright clothes?’

He watches her as if, at that moment, she matters more than anything to him. The thought comes to him: I am an Enforcer. She will understand, without the Enforcers there is no market, no Market World. I am worthy of respect.

She needs to see Market World as it is, but he can’t let her go out there. She’ll be as lost as he would be in the forest. How desolate it would be, to be alone on those streets with no wristband and the night coming on.

‘When did you last eat?’

He has her full attention.

‘I don’t know.’ She pauses and tiny creases appear between her eyebrows. Her face clears. ‘I had some dried fish on the way. They wouldn’t give me breakfast back there, they kept saying didn’t I know “No pay, no get”. They didn’t like it when I asked if that was the chorus and could I sing along? I keep telling you, you people have no sense of humour.’

David stands and at the same time flips his left hand forward onto the reader without looking down, hears the click as it makes contact and checks the screen. “Account cleared”. She doesn’t notice. He’s in command for once like he’s in a novel.

‘Come on. We’ll find a café. You need someone to show you what Market World’s really like. And I’ll tell you my dream – why I’m an Enforcer.’

Her eyes light up and she rubs her hands together.

‘And I’ll tell you about how we live in the villages. And we’ll find Juno, won’t we?’

 ‘Of course.’

She trusts him. He knows that she trusts him.

He leads the way, through the lobby and the double doors, and down the flight of steps from the Halls of Justice into City Square. Happiness bubbles within him. She laughs, mouth open, the dimples in her cheeks each side of it. He remembers he’s on extra duty. He’ll deal with that later.

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About the Author

PTG2

My novels deal with issues that matter – love, money, power and environmental disaster. I’ve worked on adventure playgrounds, in a social security office and as a teacher. I love walking, cycling, writing and talking to my children.
In my day job I’m an academic but I believe that you can only truly understand the issues that matter to people through your feelings, your imagination and your compassion. That’s why I write novels.
My first novel, “The Baby Auction” 2017, is a love story set in a fantasy world where the only rule is the law of the market. That someone should help another because they care for them simply doesn’t make sense to the citizens of Market World, any more that auctioning babies might to us.

My second, “Ardent Justice” 2018, is a crime story set in the world of high finance and city fat-cats, where money rules, but greed can trip even the most successful.

My third, “Blood Ties” 2020, is about the ties of love in a troubled family, and the bonds of debt that chain illegal immigrants to people-traffickers, and how they can be broken through self-sacrifice.

My fourth, “A Kinder City” 2022, returns to Market World where the relentless pursuit of profit leads to environmental devastation. I hope you enjoy them.

Peter Taylor-Gooby

 

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Book Tour: Queen and Conqueror (The Queen’s Red Guard #1) by Isabelle Olmo (Jan 9 – 13) Genre: Epic Fantasy/ Romatic Fantasy @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours 

Welcome to the book tour for Queen and Conqueror by Isabelle Olmo! Read more about this stunner below!

There is also a truly epic giveaway — Book box valued at over $100 and includes a hardcover copy of the book! It has one of a kind items such as the tote bag and the notebook along with a brand new map with the letter from the queen proposing marriage to the king (US only). Visit one of our hosts on Instagram to enter!

QUEEN AND CONQUEROR FINAL (1)

Queen and Conqueror (The Queen’s Guard #1)

Publication Date: August 2022

Genre: Fantasy/ Romantic Fantasy

How does one conquer a kingdom without spilling blood? You offer your hand in marriage to the king who killed your husband.

Almira’s father raised her in political cunning. Since childhood, she’s prepared for this moment. She lays out the players one by one like pieces on a board.

One. King Alton, the brother-killer. The spare heir who killed his brother for the throne.

Two. The perfect seamstress. The people must admire a queen and welcome her with open arms even when she arrives with a deadly armada behind her.

Three. The Queen’s Red Guard. These warrior women have one purpose; to protect the queen at all costs. Even from her husband. Even from herself.

Queen & Conqueror is the first book in an epic feminist fantasy series told from the perspective of the women who rule and shape the future.

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Excerpt

He cleared his throat. “The High Lord seeks aid from Istok. Your native country hasn’t been plagued with war like we have. Perhaps if your father–“

“Istok did not begin a war. My father will not risk Istokian lives because my husband has a vendetta against a king that toys with our Suidian forces. We should retreat and regroup. Sit with King Alton and negotiate,” she said with a steady voice.

She surprised herself. She’d never challenged a messenger as such. But she was damn tired of sitting like a protected porcelain plate, while the world crumbled.

He looked at her incredulously. “My lady, forgive me, but shouldn’t you let your father decide that?”

His words filled Almira with sudden anger, but she controlled and subdued it. She moved slowly as she stood and faced the captain. He was a large man, and she was small even for a woman. That mattered little.

“Captain, your job is to deliver news of the front. You’ve done that. But to presume I would take advice on state matters from you is insulting.”

He stepped forward and opened his mouth.

“Apology accepted,” she said and raked him over in disapproval. “You didn’t mean to insinuate anything. You have, after all, the utmost respect for my house. However, you will deliver a message from me, captain. Each day I sit in this room while my husband fights a war that drags on and continues killing our soldiers. Each day more lives are lost. At first it was fifty. Now, you tell me 2,000. Inform High Lord Edgar that I want the number.”

He blustered. “The number?”

“Yes. I want the number.” She pressed her index finger against the map. “I want the exact number of deaths we must reach to determine this cause is folly. It’ll give me something to look forward to while I practice my half-stitch.”

She sat and pushed her dinner plate away with disgust. The time had finally come for her value to be placed on the table. Even at a young age she knew he married her because of her connections to Istok. Her father wisely kept their country out of the squabbles and in the years since the war started, her home country grew rich with trade. 

“That means you’re dismissed, captain,” Sanaa said.

Clearly astounded at being addressed in such a manner, he left. Not before his helmet slipped and rolled about on the stone floor. It caused a great deal of noise. He rushed after it, while the women watched the display.

Available on Amazon

About the Author

AUTHOR HEADSHOT

Isabelle Olmo was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico and was raised on a steady diet of 80’s fantasy films and Sweet Valley High. Her love of literature was developed at an early age when her grandmother gifted her a poetry collection. Queen & Conqueror will be her first published novel.

She graduated with a degree in English Literature and a minor in Political Science from the University of Central Florida.

When she’s not writing she loves to travel, cook, and drink wine. One day she hopes to live in Barcelona, her favorite city in the world.

Isabelle Olmo | Instagram | TikTok | Facebook

 

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Something Special for Your Holiday TBR: The Truth About Elves by Ekta R. Garg – Genre: Holiday Fiction @EktaRGarg @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #HolidayBooks #BookTwitter

We have something special to share today and you’re going to want to add The Truth About Elves to your Holiday TBR! Read on for an exclusive excerpt and more details!

Garg - Cover Project front.jpg

The Truth About Elves

Publication Date: October 19, 2022

Genre: Holiday Fiction/ Novella

As a bartender in Las Vegas, Curtis seems to have the dream life. He’s single, lives close to the Strip, and only has to worry about when to pick up the next extra shift. No one knows the truth about what happened ten years ago, and no one knows how he spends three months every year: as a part-time elf for Santa Claus.

When Curtis went to the Arctic Circle the first time, he thought he could escape the unthinkable. Now, the anniversary of the worst day of his life is coming up, and he’s been asked to do the unbelievable. If Curtis wasn’t a man of his word, he would turn his back on the whole thing. But Mr. C. took Curtis in when he had nowhere else to go, and now the boss is calling in a favor—the kind that will make Curtis face the memory of the unimaginable.

If you’ve ever wondered whether holiday magic is real, come find out. Embrace the season and the power of forgiveness along with Curtis as he discovers The Truth About Elves.

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Excerpt

January 29, 2015

Villas at Desert Pointe Apartments

Las Vegas, Nevada

You probably don’t know this, but Santa is nothing more than a glorified chauffeur.

Sure, all the books and movies portray him as a jolly guy who spends Christmas Eve going around the world distributing gifts. That description isn’t far off. I mean, Mr. C. definitely has a big heart. He treats all us elves fairly, and even though he works us hard (especially once Thanksgiving hits) he isn’t a slave driver. 

Oh, yeah, me. I’m Curtis. An elf. No, I don’t have pointy ears, I’m not three feet tall, and I don’t act like a doofus. I’m right around five-foot-ten and look like your average Joe. Brown hair. Green eyes.

We do have some dwarves—you know, little people with small body trunks and short limbs. They get custom-made counters and work stations. Need a special box to sit on at meal time. No pointy ears though. Not a single one. Or two, I guess; nope. Just people who are…well, little.

The majority of us elves are normal. We have lives back in the rest of the world when we’re not doing our Quarter Force shifts, and there’s definitely variety here. Diversity, the affirmative actioners would call it. People from all over, from all walks of life, from every slice of the social strata.

They came to the Arctic Circle for the same reason I did. Working for Mr. C. became the absolute last resort we had. For me, after the plane went down… Well, let’s just say every door on all of my other relationships had slammed shut.

And, no, we’re not angels in heaven. We’re alive, holding down regular jobs back home on the Continents and using our work for Mr. C. as a way to look at ourselves in the mirror again. Except for the fact that we deliver gifts to all of the people in the entire world in a single night, we’re nothing like what the movies would have you believe.     

Like all that stuff about Mr. C. riding in a sleigh with reindeer? Please. Has anyone stopped to think about the fact that a sleigh can’t even support the weight of gifts for every single person in the world? And how are eight reindeer supposed to pull a sleigh that heavy?

Yeah, yeah, I know, the sleigh is magic, the reindeer are magic, and so is Santa Claus. Mr. C. makes the job look like magic, but as for the rest of it? I guess it makes for good box office sales during the holidays.

Mr. C. does go around the world but not in a sleigh. He uses a Concorde. Why do you think they grounded the entire fleet? Mr. C. worked a deal with the FAA and the other aviation organizations across the world. They would let him have the planes, and he would keep their workforce employed.

That part of the deal has worked out pretty well. And Hollywood didn’t get everything completely wrong. Mr. C. does use reindeer. They shuttle supplies between warehouses in the compound.

You didn’t actually think we made all those toys and wrapped everything in one building, did you?

For those assigned to the Final Quarter Force—October to December—we get to see everything come together on the back end of things, but work for Mr. C. goes year-round. Quality control of products, flight maneuver exercises, vetting of wrapping paper vendors, and paperwork. Mounds and mounds of it. The First Quarter Force deals with most of it, and Second Quarter finishes up (although Mr. C. really prefers that First Quarter get it all done.)

When I came on board eight years ago, I started as part of the First Quarter. If I’d had a choice, I would have lobbied to stay with First. But one thing you learn with Mr. C. is that you don’t get many choices. Freedom, yes. Choices, no.

Puchase Here and on Amazon 

About the Author

Ekta new photo

Since starting in niche publishing in 2005, Ekta has written and edited about everything from healthcare to home improvement to Hindi films. She became a freelance editor in 2011 to cement her essential belief that words can change people and the world. A writing contest judge, podcaster, and reviewer, Ekta blogs original fiction, book reviews, and parenting adventures from The Write Edge (http://thewriteedge.wordpress.com). Her holiday novella, The Truth About Elves, released in October 2021 from Atmosphere Press.

Ekta R. Garg | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

 

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Book Tour & Giveaway: The Syren’s Mutiny by Jessica S. Taylor – Genre: Fantasy/ Pirates/ Mythology @AuthorJessicaTaylor @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #TheSyrensMutiny

We’re celebrating the release of the highly anticipated dark fantasy The Syren’s Mutiny by Jessica S. Taylor. Read on for more info and a chance to win a signed copy of this extraordinary book! Be sure to visit our hosts to enter!

Cover

The Syren’s Mutiny

Publication Date: November 9th, 2022

Genre: Dark Fantasy/ Pirates/ Mythology

It’s frightful bad luck to have a woman aboard.”

Brigid knew the superstition, but when her father tried to marry her off, she had no choice but to stowaway on a ship bound for Bhodheas. When she’s discovered and discarded, her fate seems sealed…until she’s saved by the ocean and its queen.

Transformed into a syren and given new life, Brigid now has the power to seek revenge on those who wronged her.

Caelum has spent his entire life trying to help those who couldn’t help themselves. After years suffering the cruelty of his pirate father, saving others from a similar fate was ingrained in him. But when he’s unable to save a young girl from being thrown overboard for hiding away, he’s devastated.

Until one day, when he’s thrown into the water by unforeseen forces, he comes face to face with the past, and maybe, with his future.

But there’s a darkness lurking on the seas they both call home. And Caelum and Brigid have no idea just how intertwined their stories really are.

Content Warning:

This book contains dark and adult themes. Possible trigger warnings include: violence, drowning, death, dismemberment, torture, brief/non-explicit references to child kidnapping and deaths, mentions of past domestic violence, mild sexual content, and mentions of arranged marriages. 

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IG

Excerpt

Brigid

Abruptly, the ship diverted from its course, turning hard toward the rocky cliffs on the other side of it. Even in the water, there was a sickening crash and the sound of splitting wood as the nose of the ship rammed into the jagged peaks.

We kept singing.

The ship began to turn, its side now scraping along the rocks as well. Men, driven mad by our song, began jumping overboard as the ship started to take on water and dip lower beneath the waves. While still close to the shore, the water here wasn’t exactly shallow, and the ship would sink in its entirety.

We circled, diving deep as bodies began tumbling in the water, the panic induced by our song preventing them from seeing reason and turning toward the cliffs for refuge. Sorcha looked over at me, her eyes wide as she processed the scene in front of her. She still seemed intimidated, yet interested.

I motioned for her to follow me. As we swam up closer to the surface, gleeful that these men would feel our wrath, a body crashed into the water in front of me. A man, based on the broadness of his shoulders and the general bulk of his frame. His body twisted, his limbs flailing as he sank through the water. 

I stopped short, letting go of Sorcha, who continued swimming up toward the surface with the others. I swished my tail to hold myself steady as I stared at him. Instead of flailing, he was trying to steady himself. He righted his large, muscular body and finally turned in the water to face me. His eyes widened, but he didn’t seem afraid of me. 

Another man splashed into the water in between us, diverting my attention. This man, once the bubbles around his form dissipated, was terrified. His eyes widened, and he opened his mouth to scream, but only more bubbles came out. He furiously tried to kick to the surface, but Maira was faster. Swimming down between us from the surface, she lunged forward, grabbing his leg and pulling him down into the depths. He kicked, still releasing a stream of bubbles from his mouth as he flailed about furiously.

With Maira gone into the depths, I turned my attention back to the man from before. He was closer to the surface now, almost close enough to breach it. Flicking my tail, I used my power to surge up, wrapping my talons around his ankle just as his head surfaced.

I could not let him escape. This man seemed a powerful swimmer, and if I let him go, I had no doubt he would survive. And given how closely he had seen Maira and me, I couldn’t let that happen. In the moment, I was grateful Sorcha had continued to the surface and wouldn’t have to watch this. I wasn’t sure she’d have the stomach to witness this death up close. 

I yanked hard on his boot, pulling him back beneath the waves. Down, down, down we went before I released him. I wanted to see his face, this man who had not seemed afraid of us. Had he seen us before?

Tilting my head to the side, I looked at the man more closely as he calmly treaded water, not trying to get back to the surface. His face was familiar to me…somehow. I swam slightly closer to him, whipping my tail in the water, impressed when he didn’t back away. We stared at each other for a moment longer before it clicked in my head. The bright green eyes staring back at me, the dark hair floating in the water, the chiseled and strong face. While he had aged some, I knew that face, those eyes. 

The boy from the ship. 

Caelum.

My eyes widened, and my stomach twisted again, my heart in my throat. I never thought I would see him again after being thrown overboard. He had fought to try to save me, even knowing he would be punished by the captain for it. My mind was spinning, trying to process the man before me as I studied him.

He was still oddly calm, keeping himself upright but never trying to go back toward the surface. He studied me back, his eyes roving over my body and stuttering on my tail before traveling back up to my face. He seemed resigned to his fate. His gaze was intense, and I wondered if he recognized me as well. I doubted it, as he had only seen me for a brief moment. But I had remembered him.

His cheeks began to bulge, a sign he was running out of time under the water, and he finally cast a glance upwards to the surface before looking back to me. But still, he didn’t make a move. 

In an impulsive moment, I knew I couldn’t let my only savior, the only redemption to men, drown because of us. Because of me. Before I could stop myself and think about the betrayal my family would surely feel, I rushed toward him, grabbed him under the arms, and pulled his chest against mine as I propelled us toward the surface. He would not die on my watch. I would not be the cause of his ruin.

Not after he had suffered trying to save me on that ship. 

Purchase The Syren’s Mutiny Here!

About the Author

IMG_9984-3

Jessica was born and raised in Kentucky, but has been moving with the waves and is currently residing in southern Maine with her husband and cat, Nebula. Jessica’s love of reading and writing began at a young age with the help of her grandmother and her local library, and she hasn’t looked back since. Similarly, her love for pirates, mermaids, and all things fantasy have only grown more intense with time.

Author Jessica Taylor | Instagram | Facebook | TikTok | Pinterest

 

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Book Blitz: Queen and Conqueror (The Queen’s Red Guard #1) by Isabelle Olmo – Genre: Fantasy @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours

This could be author’s grocery list and we would still buy it just for the cover! Thankfully, there’s a amazing story beneath it. Read on for more details about Queen and Conqueror by Isabelle Olmo! 

Stay tuned for the book tour in 2023!

QUEEN AND CONQUEROR FINAL (1)

Queen and Conqueror (The Queen’s Guard #1)

Publication Date: August 2022

Genre: Fantasy/ Romantic Fantasy

How does one conquer a kingdom without spilling blood? You offer your hand in marriage to the king who killed your husband.

Almira’s father raised her in political cunning. Since childhood, she’s prepared for this moment. She lays out the players one by one like pieces on a board.

One. King Alton, the brother-killer. The spare heir who killed his brother for the throne.

Two. The perfect seamstress. The people must admire a queen and welcome her with open arms even when she arrives with a deadly armada behind her.

Three. The Queen’s Red Guard. These warrior women have one purpose; to protect the queen at all costs. Even from her husband. Even from herself.

Queen & Conqueror is the first book in an epic feminist fantasy series told from the perspective of the women who rule and shape the future.

“Men will never be ready for women like us and it is not our job to ready them.”

Add to Goodreads

Excerpt

He cleared his throat. “The High Lord seeks aid from Istok. Your native country hasn’t been plagued with war like we have. Perhaps if your father–“

“Istok did not begin a war. My father will not risk Istokian lives because my husband has a vendetta against a king that toys with our Suidian forces. We should retreat and regroup. Sit with King Alton and negotiate,” she said with a steady voice.

She surprised herself. She’d never challenged a messenger as such. But she was damn tired of sitting like a protected porcelain plate, while the world crumbled.

He looked at her incredulously. “My lady, forgive me, but shouldn’t you let your father decide that?”

His words filled Almira with sudden anger, but she controlled and subdued it. She moved slowly as she stood and faced the captain. He was a large man, and she was small even for a woman. That mattered little.

“Captain, your job is to deliver news of the front. You’ve done that. But to presume I would take advice on state matters from you is insulting.”

He stepped forward and opened his mouth.

“Apology accepted,” she said and raked him over in disapproval. “You didn’t mean to insinuate anything. You have, after all, the utmost respect for my house. However, you will deliver a message from me, captain. Each day I sit in this room while my husband fights a war that drags on and continues killing our soldiers. Each day more lives are lost. At first it was fifty. Now, you tell me 2,000. Inform High Lord Edgar that I want the number.”

He blustered. “The number?”

“Yes. I want the number.” She pressed her index finger against the map. “I want the exact number of deaths we must reach to determine this cause is folly. It’ll give me something to look forward to while I practice my half-stitch.”

She sat and pushed her dinner plate away with disgust. The time had finally come for her value to be placed on the table. Even at a young age she knew he married her because of her connections to Istok. Her father wisely kept their country out of the squabbles and in the years since the war started, her home country grew rich with trade.

“That means you’re dismissed, captain,” Sanaa said.

Clearly astounded at being addressed in such a manner, he left. Not before his helmet slipped and rolled about on the stone floor. It caused a great deal of noise. He rushed after it, while the women watched the display.

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About the Author

AUTHOR HEADSHOT

Isabelle Olmo was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico and was raised on a steady diet of 80’s fantasy films and Sweet Valley High. Her love of literature was developed at an early age when her grandmother gifted her a poetry collection. Queen & Conqueror will be her first published novel.

She graduated with a degree in English Literature and a minor in Political Science from the University of Central Florida.

When she’s not writing she loves to travel, cook, and drink wine. One day she hopes to live in Barcelona, her favorite city in the world.

Isabelle Olmo

Tiktok: isabelleolmo

 

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