Publication Day!!! Before Again by Claire S. Duffy – Genre: Urban Fantasy @fikabooksclairev @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #BeforeAgain

Congratulations to author Claire S. Duffy on the release of Before Again, “A gripping start to a seductive fantasy series.” Read on for more info!

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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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Publication Day: Of Deceit and Snow (The Crowned Chronicles #2) by Ashley Slaughter – Genre: YA Fantasy @AWSwriting @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #Fantasy #BookBoost #PublicationDay

Happy publication day to author Ashley W. Slaughter! Read on for more info about the second novel in The Crowned Chronicles, Of Deceit and Snow and grab yourself a copy today!

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Of Deceit and Snow (The Crowned Chronicles #2)

Publication Date: November 8th, 2022 (Today 🥳)

Genre: YA Fantasy

A queen trapped in a game of lies.

Queen Rosemary Avelia has never felt so out of control of her own life. In the kingdom of Tarasyn, she is fighting for her survival, playing to her captor’s wants and desires for a bride—and for her kingdom of Lecevonia. She must keep her wits about her if she is to survive the extravagant, Talent-infused court life of Snowmont. But how long can she balance between her game and her need to return to her kingdom? To her people?

A king fighting for power.

King Gryffin Danicio is also struggling to stay in control. The more he covers up the secrets of his family, the more fragile his hold on the minds of the people of his kingdom becomes. Beneath the luxurious rooms and gilded furnishings of Snowmont is a dark, hidden past–and a future full of hope and power not only for Tarasyn, but for the entire Magian Peninsula. Gryffin has plans for the Talented of the Magian Peninsula, but without Rosemary’s support, his idea of a land strengthened by magic may never be fulfilled.

A magic on the brink of liberty.

An awakening of the Peninsula’s ancient magic is on the horizon. Rosemary must choose to stop it—or aid Gryffin in bringing it to fruition.

But first, she must get home.

And she cannot do it alone.

Of Deceit and Snow is the second installment of the Crowned Chronicles, a series following passionate and determined Queen Rosemary as she faces love, reign, the threat of war, and the mystifying world of the Talented.

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Of Legends and Roses (The Crowned Chronicles #1)

Publication Date: August 31, 2021

Genre: YA Fantasy

A realm touched and forgotten by magic.
A young queen orphaned by disease.
A prince after her heart.

Queen Rosemary Avelia knows little about ruling a kingdom, and even less so about the ancient legends of her land. Since no one has been born Talented in centuries, she simply scoffs at the idea of magic. However, when the charming Prince Gryffin Danicio arrives just as her kingdom is under a deadly threat, he shows her that not all kingdoms of the Magian Peninsula have so quickly dismissed the legends of the Talented. Perhaps the Talented should not so easily be forgotten.

Of Legends and Roses is the first book in The Crowned Chronicles, a series following passionate and determined Queen Rosemary as she faces reign, love, the threat of war, and the mystifying world of the Talented.

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About the Author

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Ashley W. Slaughter was born and raised in south Louisiana, among sugarcane fields lining the banks of the Mississippi River. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from the University of Louisiana at Monroe in 2018 and worked as a wildlife biologist before pursuing her career as an author. Writing has always been a passion of hers, as shown through her near-to-bursting manila folder of short stories she’d written throughout grade school, and the COVID-19 pandemic has allowed her to rediscover this passion. She enjoys hiking, kayaking, spending time with her husband and pets, and, of course, reading.

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Publication Day: Chasing Ghosts by Kate Anslinger – Genre: Mystery/ Thriller @kateanslinger @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours

Happy publication day to Kate Anslinger! Check out her new book Chasing Ghosts (A Grace McKenna Mystery Novel)!

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Chasing Ghosts (A Grace McKenna Mystery Novel)

Publication Date: June 1st, 2022

Genre: Mystery/ Thriller

What would you do if you could see haunting images in a criminal’s eyes?

Detective Grace McKenna’s mother has always told her that she has a gift.

When she looks into a criminal’s eyes she can see haunting images of victims who have been wronged.

One of those visions is the face of Jenny Silva, a high school art teacher who has gone missing from the small town of Bridgeton, Massachusetts, where Grace works.

When she makes eye contact with the possible suspect, Jenny’s tortured face flashes before Grace, leaving an unsettling imprint on her.

Grace finds herself making tough decisions to solve a case on her own, where she stumbles across town secrets and gets mixed up in an unlikely love affair.

Sometimes a wrong can find a way to be righted all on its own!

Will Grace be able to solve this case on her own?

A set of beady blue eyes overpowering the face of a teenage girl tore Grace from the present moment. The girl’s mouth was contorted into an angry frown emphasized by black lipstick that matched her shoulder-length straight black hair. The skin on her chin and right cheek was dotted in bumps and covered in varying shades of red as if she had tried to cover up teenage acne. Her neck and collar bone area were covered in blue and red blotches that looked like fingerprints pressed into her skin. A black winter hat with a white bat was pulled down to her eyebrows, enhancing the eyeliner that dipped in smudges beneath her eyes. The dead ends of her hair sprouted out the bottom of the hat and hit the collar of a black and white flannel shirt. Her face, filled with fright, transformed into an Edvard Munch Scream print upon an orange and red wavy background.

A new instinct kicked in and without thought, Grace’s hand went straight to her stomach, holding it like she was protecting a glass snow globe from falling to the floor and shattering. And as soon as she recognized how she had executed a mama bear’s intuition naturally and without a second thought, it dawned on her just how challenging motherhood would be. The baby that was rapidly growing in her womb would always come between her and the victims.

If Charlotte noticed alarm on Grace’s face, she didn’t show it. Instead, she smiled and tilted her head to the side, introducing the woman next to her. “Amy, this is Grace, we met by the bathroom. And we just happen to be a couple weeks apart in our pregnancies.”

A marked pause interrupted the space between them before Amy spoke. With a shifty gaze, Amy’s eyes rose from Grace’s shoes all the way up to her hairline. “It’s nice to meet you, Grace.” Her words ended in a hiss as she dropped a pair of crossed hands on a set of crossed legs decorated in pressed khaki pants. A pale blue cashmere sweater held tight to her perky breasts and was offset by a crisp white collar that peeked out the top like bird wings. Her posture was awkwardly erect, as if she was one of those mannequins strategically placed in department stores, free of any natural slump.

Naturally, Grace was inquisitive about the connection between the two women. Amy looked too young to be Charlotte’s mother, but too old to be a supportive friend accompanying her to her appointment. An older sister? A cousin? Whoever Amy was, Grace was now aware that the woman was responsible for the harm of the teenage girl who showed herself in the vision. Just as the conspicuous silence following the introduction was about to get awkward, a nurse emerged from the hallway and called out a name. Grace turned to see an older woman in the pale pink scrub uniform, haircut and highlighted in a style that was popular in the mid-nineties, when Jennifer Aniston set the example with long, face-framing layers. The nurse scanned the room, and with some force behind her voice she tried again. “Charlotte Anderson.”

“Well, that’s me.” Charlotte started to push herself up off the chair, until Amy hopped up and reached an arm across her back, guiding her to an upright position until she was face to face with Grace.

“Easy there, Charlotte. Precious cargo.” Grace stepped out of the way as Amy guided Charlotte to the nurse, like a mother ushering her toddler. As the connected duo passed by, Grace recognized the embarrassment that had come to the surface on Charlotte’s face.

“I’ll see you around and if I don’t, good luck with your pregnancy.” Charlotte swiveled her head, locking eyes with Grace as Amy continued to shepherd her down the hall, keeping the two of them at a snail’s pace.

“You too.” Grace waved a hand, committing Amy’s silhouette to memory.

Available on Amazon

About the Author

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Kate Anslinger is the author of the McKenna Mystery novels, a series that follows Detective Grace McKenna on her spree of secretly solving crimes with the help of her gift to see clues in the eyes of criminals. In addition to her life as a novelist, Kate is a ghostwriter, editor, freelance writer and a veteran of the United States Air Force. Her debut novel Saving Jason, touches upon the struggles of PTSD, a topic that is near and dear to her heart. Kate lives on the North Shore of Boston with her husband, two daughters, and Newfoundland pup.

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Book Release & #Giveaway: The Tribesmen of Juno (The Survivors #3) by Robert I. Katz (May 25th) Genre: Sci-Fi/ Fantasy @robertikatz @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #BookBirthday

Today, we are celebrating the release of The Tribesmen of Juno by Robert I. Katz! It is the latest installment of his sci-fi series The Survivors. Read on for more details, a peek at the first chapter AND a chance to win some great prizes!

Tribesmen of Juno v.2.1The Tribesmen of Juno: The Survivors #3

Publication Date: May 25th, 2021

Genre: Sci-Fi/ Fantasy

Publisher: Rukia Publishing US

From USA Today bestselling author, Robert I. Katz, comes The Tribesmen of Juno, Book Three of The Survivors.

Thirty years ago, Terence Allen left his father’s home in the city of the Viceroy, and under the assumed name of Blake Pierce, gained both fame and fortune, first as a wandering ronin, then as a mercenary commander. Now, Blake Pierce is the Duke of Taverno, and he controls half the nation of Venecia.

Blake Pierce is a power in the world, but the cities that owe Taverno loyalty are being bribed to switch allegiance to his principal opponent, Benedetto Corsi, the Duke of Siena.

In far away Fomaut, the Primate has been assassinated. Wolford is beset by unknown forces.

All over the continent, unrest is stirring.

Men are digging into the ruins of the dead cities, seeking riches and the weapons of the nearly forgotten Empire. The industrial revolution encouraged by Blake is slowly grinding to a halt.

For three thousand years, the Viceroy has ruled over all the nations, rarely exerting his authority but tolerating no opposition to his reign. Only the Viceroy retains any remnant of the Ancient’s lost technology. Many men have tried to challenge the Viceroy. All have been crushed.

But the seven nations are stronger and richer than they were, and the Viceroy has expended much of his hoarded arsenal. Has the time come to finally throw off the Viceroy’s rule? Or will Taverno turn into just another dead, radioactive city?

Blake would prefer not to find out, but unseen forces are moving against him, and in the end, he may have no choice but to fight back or lose everything he has gained, including his life.

Chapter One

And so it came to pass in the thirtieth year of the reign of the Viceroy Gaius Tiberius VII that a rebellion arose from a minor princeling in the city of Poitiers. This princeling was tall and handsome, a writer of poetry and a singer of songs, unrivalled with a blade, strong with phrygium, quick with praise for the accomplishments of others. His people loved him and he had been told since he was a small child that he was destined for great things.

His rebellion was small, at first. He questioned the primacy of Inquisitoria over the spiritual needs of his people, arguing that a relationship with the creator could be forged by every individual through devout prayer and without the intercession of God’s anointed.

The Inquisitoria declared this to be heresy, but heresy, though frowned upon, is not forbidden. Only words that encourage active disobedience to Imperial edicts are forbidden. All other enquiry is allowed. The Prince’s thoughts, at first spoken, then written, and then disseminated throughout all the nations, were much discussed.

The Viceroy took no position on this issue.

But then, the Prince decreed that the mandate of heaven had fallen from the Viceroy, since the Empire from which the Viceroy’s authority derived had turned its face from this world. This was rebellion. This was not allowed. The Viceroy, ever merciful, gave the Prince a chance to repent. He refused.

The Viceroy then led an army to the gates of Poitiers and called upon the Prince to emerge, to recant his words and pay homage to his rightful overlord. Again, the Prince refused. The Viceroy, much saddened, returned with his army to the City of Varanisi.

The Prince, joyful in his defiance, decreed a celebration, and declared that the Viceroy’s rule was at an end.

One day later, an Earthquake shattered the city of Poitiers. A day after that, a ball of fire descended from the heavens upon whatever remained. The Prince and those few of his people who had not already abandoned him vanished in the conflagration.

The city of Poitiers no longer exists. Where it once stood, a blue, placid lake now fills a gigantic crater. Fish swim in the lake, but those who eat these fish grow ill. Their hair falls out. Their blood grows thin and pale and then oozes from their mouth and their eyes, and then they die, screaming in agony.

Three hundred years passed before the Viceroy’s rule was again challenged.

From: The Reign of the Viceroys of Gault, Third Edition, New Imperial Library, 4753

“Your Grace?”

Blake Pierce looked up. Colin McGregor insisted on following the rules of protocol and decorum, in public at least, and he did so with an unruffled air of gravity and calm. Colin had been with him for many years, first hired as the purser for Pierce’s Marauders, Blake’s former mercenary company, now serving as seneschal and principal advisor to the Duke of Taverno, Blake’s current and most illustrious title.

“Sit down, Colin.” Blake tapped a piece of parchment sitting on the table in front of him. “What do you make of this?”

Gingerly, Colin picked up the parchment, quickly scanned it, frowned, and then read it again. “Unfortunate,” Colin said.

Yes, the sudden death of Blake’s principal factor in the city of Mitre was “unfortunate.” Natural causes, supposedly. An elderly fellow, he went to sleep one night and didn’t wake up. Elderly, and fat, but he had been vigorous and had displayed no prior symptoms before suddenly dropping dead.

Unfortunate.

Mitre was a small city but strategically placed, at the confluence of two rivers providing excellent access to the sea and both isolated and partially defended by a range of encircling mountains. Three large passes cut through the mountains, all surrounded by steep cliffs. Easy enough to rain arrows, boulders or boiling oil down onto an invader. It would take a large and determined force to break through. Unfortunately for Mitre, a small but rich city with a tiny military of its own, at least three such armies were currently considering an invasion.

In years past, Mitre’s small military, combined with the difficulty of reaching the city, had been sufficient to keep them independent, but that was in the days when the King of Venecia aided in keeping the peace. The King was long dead and times had changed.

At least four different poisons could have killed silently in the night. Probably more. Blake was not an expert on poisons but as a sometime agent of the Viceroy, he knew the basics.

“Suggestions?” Blake asked.

Colin puffed up his cheeks and tapped a finger on the arm of his chair while his eyes wandered to the harbor outside the Castle windows. “This changes nothing. We’re offering Mitre protection and an alliance. Prudence would dictate their acceptance.”

“And yet it appears that a message has been delivered, one that the Elders of Mitre cannot fail to understand. They deal with us at their peril.”

Colin shrugged. “If they refuse to deal with us, they will suffer the fate of a thousand other conquered cities. That message, too, will be clearly understood.”

Blake sighed. “We shall see. It is up to them to decide.”

“And,” Colin added, “it is entirely possible that he did die from natural causes.”

Blake reluctantly grinned. “Make certain that an autopsy is performed, and that the results are made public. I expect that his heart has been weak for several years. His courage in performing his duties, suffering as he must have been, is an inspiration to us all.”

“Indeed,” Colin said.

“And give him a nice funeral.”

“Of course.”

Abel Barker knew a thousand ways to kill, but only a few of these left no distinguishing marks upon the body. Of these, poison was the least obvious but was often the most difficult to administer. Poison, to be effective, must be delivered to the body of one’s victim, which means that the assassin must have access to that victim, or must suborn someone in the victim’s circle.

Poison itself might leave no trace, but the method of delivery all too often left a trail.

Almost always better to mix violence with misdirection. Strangle a man, for instance, and then throw him off a tall building, or have him stumble at the edge of a cliff or leave him in the desert for the sand lizards to devour. Anything to destroy the evidence.

And if you don’t mind leaving questions behind, the body can simply disappear.

Poison, though, did have its uses. Sometimes, nothing else would do.

Abel Barker, for most of his life, had served the Viceroy. He had been recruited as a boy, having been discovered in his parent’s small village by a Finder team searching for children with the ability to weave soul-stuff. He had been brought to the Viceroy’s city, Varanisi, educated in the Viceroy’s scholium and been sworn to the Viceroy’s service. In this, he had not been given a choice. Abel Barker would, if necessary, die for the Viceroy. All of his classmates would.

In theory, change could be good, for the individual and for the society in which the individual lived, but more often than not, change brought instability, and the Viceroy prized stability. The Viceroy suffered no challenge to his own rule. After more than two thousand years, the Viceroy had managed to arrange things pretty much the way he wanted them.

Blake Pierce, or Terence Sergei Allen as he had once been known, had started a revolution. The Viceroy had reluctantly allowed that revolution to proceed. Blake Pierce had not been the first to mix the uses of phrygium with the ancient remnants of technology but in theory the innovations he had introduced would advance the Viceroy’s own goals upon this world.

Now, ten years later, the wasteland was filled with searchers, looking for they knew not what, hoping to strike it rich and ignoring the first lesson they had been taught as children, which was to avoid the dead cities.

Abel Barker crept among the trees. It was a dark, quiet night, warm with a light breeze. Somewhere, not far away, an owl hooted.

Seven men slept in the clearing. An eighth stood watch, sitting on a fallen log facing the woods. The sentry yawned, straightened his back and re-filled a ceramic mug with coffee from a pot simmering over a small fire.

Abel Barker’s night vision goggles gave him a clear view of the clearing. His hazmat suit protected him from residual radiation.

The ruins began less than a hundred meters from the clearing. A small city had once stood here. The city had not been physically destroyed. Neutron bombs, followed by radioactive dust, had killed off the population. Centuries later, most of the buildings had crumbled into rubble, but the rubble, and the dirt beneath the rubble, was still filled with both treasures and lingering poisons.

These men were digging for treasure. Unknown to themselves, they were finding poison. Idiots.

In the past ten years, hundreds of small teams, almost all of them poorly equipped and ignorant of the real risks, had decided to try their luck. The majority returned with little of value or did not return at all.

These men had already ingested sufficient ambient radiation to kill them, but it would kill them slowly, over months, perhaps even years. Slowly was not good enough for the Viceroy’s purpose.

Whistling under his breath, Abel Barker opened a small box, pressed a button and quickly retreated. Silently, odorless and invisible, a volatilized gas sprayed upward and then, blown by the breeze, drifted toward the campsite. The gas inhibited the action of acetylcholinesterase on neuromuscular junctions, preventing the breakdown of acetylcholine, the body’s principal neurotransmitter. The gas was readily absorbed, either through the lungs or the skin. The first symptoms of exposure included a runny nose, nausea, then, a few minutes later, difficulty breathing. Convulsions and death by asphyxiation would soon follow.

Not a pleasant way to die, but necessary. If any of their comrades came looking for them, the decomposing bodies of these men would serve to reinforce the lessons that they had been taught as children and foolishly chosen to ignore.

An hour later, it was done. Three of the seven had awakened after exposure. They had stumbled out of their tents, vomiting, hoarsely gasping for breath that would not come. They had tried to run but had fallen, twitched a few times, groaned, cried out, struggled and then died.

Abel Barker, a compassionate man (when allowed to be), regretted the actions that circumstances had forced him to take, but knew that good men are often compelled to unpleasant and otherwise regrettable deeds, for the greater good of us all.

Sad, Able Barker thought, but necessary.

An adversary is someone who wants the same things that you want. Nothing personal. It’s competition. You win some and you lose some. An enemy, on the other hand, wants you dead…because he hates you.

Benedetto Corsi was an adversary, not an enemy. Blake was happy about that. Corsi and Blake Pierce had struggled against one another for many years, and to some extent, each had enjoyed the rivalry. Blake had, at least, and he was fairly certain that Corsi had as well.

The same could not be said for Johannes Stryker, and even more so for Saverio Narcena.

Stryker was Corsi’s spymaster, a man whose emotions ran cold, at best, but Stryker, from what little Blake knew of him, took pride in his own intellect, in his objective evaluation of the world around him. Blake, by besting Corsi all those years ago with tactics that neither Corsi nor Stryker had foreseen, and thereby establishing himself as Corsi’s principal rival, had offended Stryker.

Narcena had other reasons to hate Blake. His reasons, in Blake’s estimation, were childish. Years ago, Blake had defeated him in battle, making him look foolish. Corsi had relieved him of command and placed him under Stryker’s tutelage—to learn wisdom. Narcena, in Blake’s estimation, should be thanking Blake for having shown him the error of his ways and setting him upon a path more in keeping with his talents. Narcena, or so Blake’s spies told him, saw things differently.

Blake stood on the highest balcony of Castle Taverno, looking up at the stars from which his ancestors had come, thousands of years ago, and brooded. Mitre was not the first small setback he had suffered. A message had indeed been delivered to the city fathers of Mitre. A similar message had been delivered to Blake. Those messages had been coming more often, their unmistakable sub-text growing louder and louder.

Stop.

Blake sighed. For many years, Blake had served as an agent of that stability the Viceroy so prized. He knew how things worked. He had never grown so complacent, however, as to think that he himself, and the others like him, represented the limits of the Viceroy’s reach.

Blake well remembered the meeting he had with the Viceroy, when blood feud had first been declared against him by Thierry Jorge Garcia. The Viceroy had gently and sadly explained to him that in the world outside Varanisi, his commands meant little. The Kings and Queens and leaders of the various nations paid lip service to the Viceroy’s primacy but had no hesitation in ignoring him when they felt like doing so.

The Viceroy had seemed so regretful at his inability to help, so sincere. Blake, being young and naïve, had believed him.

Each year, the Viceroy sent the finders abroad, looking for children with the talent to weave phrygium, soul-stuff as it was often called. The parents of such children were handsomely rewarded, the children taken to be educated and raised in the Viceroy’s palace, and once in the Viceroy’s palace, a worm was planted in their brains, a worm which grew and bored deep, doing no harm, but enforcing the Viceroy’s will. A neural web it used to be called, in the far-off and long vanished Empire of Mankind, a tool to control the victim’s behavior.

Tindall and Eliza, whose services the Viceroy had loaned him, were once such children. They had helped Blake achieve hegemony over half of Venecia but Blake had never taken their services or their loyalty for granted. Tindall and Eliza were loyal to the Viceroy. They had to be. They had been given no choice.

There were rumors of agents deeply planted in the bureaucracy of all seven nations, of secret assassination squads. Blake did not know for certain, but he suspected those rumors to be true.

Ambition had come slowly to Blake Pierce, once a satisfied, indolent young man named Terence Sergei Allen, but it had come. Seven men and women before him had discovered that phrygium could be used to power the technology of the ancients, something that the Viceroy in theory approved of and encouraged, but then, succumbing to pride and ambition, all seven had then set themselves against the Viceroy. That, at least, was the story. All seven were now dead and long since forgotten.

When you play a game that you cannot win, Blake thought, stop playing…or change the rules. Thousands of years ago, the commander of what was then the greatest military force ever assembled had said, “If you have a problem that you cannot solve, then make it a bigger problem.”

Blake had done his best to make the problem bigger. It remained to be seen what the Viceroy would do about it.

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Towering Flame Final v.3The Towering Flame (The Survivors #1)

From USA Today bestselling author, Robert I. Katz, comes The Towering Flame, the first book in a brand new series, The Survivors.

Once, long ago, the Empire of Mankind spread among the stars, but the Empire fell into civil war and anarchy, leaving every human inhabited world across the galaxy to go its own way.

Today, after two thousand years of isolation, the Viceroy rules over seven nations on one long-abandoned planet. He alone possesses any vestige of the technology left behind by the vanished Empire and he uses it to rule with an iron fist in a velvet glove.

But below the surface, ambitious men are struggling for power and rebellion is simmering.

Terence Allen is the third son of a wealthy father. Terence is satisfied with his life. He has few responsibilities, fewer challenges and little desire to change.

Terence Allen is an unlikely catalyst for rebellion, but Terence’s destiny changes the moment he sees Thierry Jorge Garcia striding toward him one night at the Summer Fair in Varanisi, the Viceroy’s city. Thierry, the heir to a long-standing military tradition, will let nothing keep him from pursuing Irina Archer, the woman he had known and loved as a young man in far-off Cathay, the woman who is now Terence Allen’s fiancée.

The feud that results will have repercussions far beyond the borders of the city, as the seven nations seethe with conspiracies, rumors and strife. A war that has been brewing for over a century is coming, a war that will upend the foundations of both men’s world.

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Antiquarians GuildThe Antiquarians Guild (The Survivors #2)

Twenty years ago, Terence Allen left his father’s home in the city of the Viceroy, and under the assumed name of Blake Pierce, has gained both fame and fortune, first as a wandering ronin, then as a mercenary commander.

Since the king’s death, ten long years before, the nation of Venecia has fallen into chaos, as the smaller city-states strive to maintain independence and the stronger states try to conquer all the rest.

Blake Pierce’s company, Pierce’s Marauders, has entered into a contract to provide security for the city-state of Taverno, which is beset by numerous enemies, the most serious of which is Benedetto Corsi, the Duke of Siena.

But Blake is facing other challenges, some that he knows about, others that he merely suspects.

In far away Fomaut, the Primate and the leader of his armies, Alejandro Garcia, are digging in the ruins of dead cities, seeking the lost technology of the Ancients and preparing for war against their neighbors, while Davida Montoya, the woman Blake loves above all others, is still living in her father’s castle, refusing to join him until his wars are over…which, the way his career is going, may be never.

For Corsi, and his shadowy spymaster, Johannes Stryker, the Kingship of Venecia represents the culmination of their ambitions. For Blake Pierce, rule of Venecia is only one step toward his own secret goal: to free the world of Gault from the heavy-handed tyranny of the Viceroy, who has ruled the world for over 2000 years.

About the Author

Robert I Katz

I grew up on Long Island, in a pleasant, suburban town about 30 miles from New York City. I loved to read from a very early age and graduated from Columbia in 1974 with a degree in English. Not encouraged by the job prospects for English majors at the time, I went on to medical school at Northwestern, where in addition to my medical degree, I acquired a life-long love of deep dish pizza. I did a residency in Anesthesiology at Columbia Presbyterian and spent most of my career at Stony Brook, where I ultimately attained the academic rank of Professor and Vice-Chairman for Administration, Department of Anesthesiology.

When I was a child, I generally read five or more books per week, and even then, I had a dim sense that I could do at least as well as many of the stories that I was reading. Finally, around 1985, with a job and a family and my first personal computer, I began writing. I quickly discovered that it was not as easy as I had imagined, and like most beginning writers, it took me many years to produce a publishable work of fiction. My first novel, Edward Maret: A Novel of the Future, came out in 2001. It won the ASA Literary Prize for 2001 and received excellent reviews from Science Fiction Chronicle, InfinityPlus, Scavenger’s Newsletter and many others.

My agent at the time urged me to write mysteries, as mysteries are supposed to have a larger readership and be easier to publish than science fiction. Since I have read almost as many mysteries as science fiction and fantasy, and since I enjoy them just as much, I had no objection to this plan. The Kurtz and Barent mystery series, Surgical Risk, The Anatomy Lesson and Seizure followed between 2002 and 2009. Reviewers have compared them favorably to Patricia Cornwell and Robin Cook and they’ve received positive reviews from The Midwest Book Review, Mystery Review Magazine, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Lady M’s Mystery International, Mystery Scene Magazine, Library Journal and many others.

In 2014, I published a science fiction short story, “To the Ends of the Earth in the Deep Blue Sea” on Kindle for Amazon. Since then, I have made all of my previously published novels available for purchase on Kindle and now, in June, 2017 I am about to embark on a new venture. I will be publishing new novels on Kindle, the first of which is entitled The Cannibal’s Feast. It’s a science fiction story of corporate warfare in space. The next, coming out in early 2018, will be another science fiction novel tentatively entitled The City of Dust, a tale set on an abandoned world after the collapse of the First Interstellar Empire of Mankind.

Robert I. Katz | Twitter

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Book Release: She’s the One Who Gets in Fights by S. R. Cronin @cinnabar01 @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #Books

Happy publication day to S.R. Cronin! Check out this brand new Historical Fantasy, She’s the One Who Gets in Fights and enter for a chance to win a $30 Amazon e-gift card!

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She’s the One Who Gets in Fights (The War Stories of the Seven Troublesome Sisters Books)

Publication Date: May 14th, 2021 🎉

Genre: Historical Fantasy

It’s the 1200’s, and the small realm of Ilari has had peace and prosperity for generations. That doesn’t mean every citizen is happy, however.
Sulphur, the third of seven sisters, is glad the older two have been slow to wed. It’s given her the freedom to train as a fighter, in hopes of fulfilling her lifelong dream of joining Ilari’s army. Then, within a matter of days, both sisters announce plans and now Sulphur is expected to find a man to marry.
Is it Sulphur’s good fortune her homeland is gripped by fear of a pending Mongol invasion? And the army is going door to door encouraging recruits? Sulphur thinks it is. But once she’s forced to kill in a small skirmish, she’s ready to rethink her career decision.
Too bad it’s too late. The invasion is coming, and Ilari needs every good soldier it has.
Once Sulphur learns Ilari’s army has made the strategic decision to not defend certain parts of the realm, including the one where her family lives, she has to re-evaluate her loyalty. Is it with the military she’s always admired? Or is it with her sisters, who are hatching a plan to defend their homeland with magic?
Everywhere she turns, someone is counting on her to fight for what’s right. But what is?

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Excerpt

In early spring, after the last of the snow melted and the mud dried, I told my parents I wished to visit friends I’d made while studying. Then I rode to Pilk to learn more about joining the Svadlu. I knew they had a booth at the largest market there, often staffed by Svadlu officers who’d answer questions. I had a lot of them.

They accepted women, but what were the standards? Were they the same as for the men? Being a Svadlu provided status and a fair amount of pay, so they never wanted for recruits. How many people who tried to join were accepted?

The next day I found the booth. Officers wore cloaks of saffron yellow, but this man boasted a scarlet cape covered in regalia, identifying him as a Mozdol. My nervousness surprised me as I approached him.

“Hello, lass,” he greeted me with warmth. “Let me guess. You’ve got a younger brother who wants to join us but he’s too nervous to come talk to me himself. Am I right?” He seemed pleased. With what? That he induced nervousness in potential recruits?

“Uh, no. Sir. I was hoping to get some information on me joining.”

“You?”

He looked at me more closely. Of course I wore a dress, not my fighting clothes, so I didn’t much look the part, but he squinted at me anyway.

“You’re tall. Well-muscled for a woman and you look to be in good shape. Have you ever held a sword?”

“I’ve been sparring since I was a child.”

That impressed him.

“And I’ll do whatever you need to me to. Answer questions about weapons, engage in fights, perform tests of strength, whatever you need.” I spoke too fast in my eagerness.

“Slow down,” he chuckled. “All that’s good, but actually, none of it matters compared to what I’m going to tell you next.”

He hesitated as if he wasn’t sure how to explain this vital fact to someone as ignorant as me.

“You’re a farmgirl, right?” He looked at my clothes again.

“Yes, sir.”

“Well, the Svadlu are more of a city operation. We do things differently than on the farm.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean being a member of the Svadlu is a pretty good deal. Lots of young people want in.”

“I know. That’s why I’ve worked so hard.”

“And that’s good, but most successful recruits get in because they have a sponsor. You know, someone already in the Svadlu who vouches for them. Um, especially if you’re, well, you know, a woman. Then it helps a great deal if one of us says you’re up to it.”

“But I can prove I’m up to it!”

“I suspect you can.” The look he gave me held respect, but he stayed firm. “A sponsor makes the difference. Why don’t you ask around? Surely your family knows someone who can help you.”

He looked up. Several people stood behind me now, all hoping to talk to him. “If you’ll excuse me …”

I rode back to Vinx dejected. I already knew my family had no contacts in the Svadlu and I had no idea of who I could turn to find some. Why did I have to know someone in order to get in? What stupid kind of way was that to run an army?

Available on Amazon

Will be available through Kobo, Apple, and Barnes & Nobel later this month!

About the Author

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Sherrie Cronin is the author of a collection of six speculative fiction novels known as 46. Ascending and is now in the process of publishing a historical fantasy series called The War Stories of the Seven Troublesome Sisters. A quick look at the synopses of her books makes it obvious she is fascinated by people achieving the astonishing by developing abilities they barely knew they had.

She’s made a lot of stops along the way to writing these novels.  She’s lived in seven cities, visited forty-six countries, and worked as a waitress, technical writer, and geophysicist. Now she answers a hot-line. Along the way, she’s lost several cats but acquired a husband who still loves her and three kids who’ve grown up just fine, both despite how eccentric she is.

All her life she has wanted to either tell these kinds of stories or be Chief Science Officer on the Starship Enterprise. She now lives and writes in the mountains of Western North Carolina, where she admits to occasionally checking her phone for a message from Captain Picard, just in case.

SR Cronin | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram 

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Happy Publication Day! Takakush by Raine Reiter: Book Blitz & #Giveaway! @rainereiter @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #Takakush

Today we’re celebrating the release of this beautiful new dark Fantasy, Takakush by Raine Reiter!

You can also win a signed copy of this stunner below!

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Takakush: Genus Magic #1

Publication Date: January 25th, 2021 (Today 🎉)

Genre: Mature YA/ NA/ Urban (Dark) Fantasy

When Professor Elena Lukas returns to her cozy Pacific Northwest hometown with a broken heart, she’s plunged back into the fate she tried to escape. Like her mother and grandmother before her, Elena must now dedicate her life to a powerful ancient Lithuanian goddess. Although she is prepared to live as a priestess hiding in a contemporary tourist town, she arrives to find that a series of so-called animal attacks have terrorized her forest.

With the help of a handsome detective from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Elena uses her expertise in invasive and endangered species to identify that these are no normal animal attacks. The woods are stalked by a dark, mystical creature bent on ravaging the area in an attempt to quell its insatiable hunger. When her little sister goes missing, Elena realizes that the beast can only be vanquished if she is brave enough to face it in-person, embrace her identity as a high priestess, and expose her powers to the man she is growing feelings for.

Raine Reiter weaves together an empowered, female-centered narrative with rich descriptions of nature and an ever-present sense of mystery. Her vivid, flowing prose takes readers of dark fantasy into a world that looks and feels real, while still evoking the enticing paranormal creativity shared by authors such as Richelle Mead and Kat Richardson.

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About the Author

Raine cavorts in the wilds of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula with her dog, Luke, and writes Northwest Gothic. Her first novel Takakush will be published on Amazon in January 2021. This is the first book in the Genus Magica Series.

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