Chasing Azrael – BBB

Chasing Azrael

By

Hazel Butler

Gritty New Paranormal Mystery Series Raises Vital Awareness of Bipolar Disorder

The ‘Deathly Insanity’ series uses gripping urban mystery and heaps of the paranormal to keep its readers on the edge of their seats. However, the series is also serving a vital dual-purpose by openly examining societal attitudes towards Bipolar Disorder and Depression. The first volume, ‘Chasing Azrael’, sees author Hazel Butler serve up the perfect start to what’s poised to be a best-selling series.

When Andee Tilbrook’s husband died, her preoccupation with death turned to obsession. Thanks to her unique ability to commune with the dead, her husband remains all too close, yet never close enough. Mired in grief, she clings to James’s spirit, slowly losing touch with the world, her friends, and any desire to continue living.

But when her friend Josh becomes the target of Natalya, a jealous, capricious and violent Russian beauty, Andee somehow finds the strength to free herself from her misery long enough to help him. They soon discover that Natalya is wanted by the police for her involvement in a series of grisly murders, and Andee is dragged into the inquiry by the same man who investigated her own husband’s death.

Torn between new feelings for Josh and fear that he might be involved in the murders that seem to threaten anyone who comes close, Andee must face the realities of her life, her past, and her very nature—and do it all in time to save her own life.

About the Author

Hazel

Hazel is a twenty eight year old author, artist and archaeologist from Cheshire, England. She is currently in the final year of her PhD, which focuses on Gender Dynamics in Late Iron Age and Early Medieval Britain. She studied archaeology at The University of Manchester, then Bangor University, and spent two years doing corporate archaeology and research excavations, both in Britain and Austria. She has had papers published in international journals and online.

Since 2010, she has been working on Chasing Azrael, a Gothic Literary novel and the first in the Deathly Insanity Series, a set of Paranormal Mystery/Urban Fantasy novels with overlapping character and plot-lines. Although these novels have a strong supernatural element they also explore themes of mental health, in particular Bipolar Disorder, which Hazel herself has suffered from since her early teens.

Whilst many authors write for fame and profit, Hazel Butler is publishing books to garner attention of a very different sort – attention for Bipolar Disorder. Because many either misunderstand this condition or shun it completely, Butler uses a unique fusion of urban mystery, the paranormal, and a hint of romance, to study exactly how society perceives mental illness and what it is like to live with such conditions, both for patients and their loved ones.

The ‘Deathly Insanity’ series will delight fans of Kelley Armstrong, Charlaine Harris and Laurell K. Hamilton – or just about anyone else enjoying adult-geared fiction with a twist of the unexpected. A Paranormal Mystery series set to delve into the darkest aspect of human (and inhuman) nature, the series’ first volume is ‘Chasing Azrael’.

Excerpt

I knew nothing but the rhythmic slap of my feet on wet tarmac. It was the only thing I could focus on, and my focus was slipping.

I’m still running, I thought fuzzily, I have to keep running.

The back of my skull throbbed. Thick, cloying blood oozed into my hair, mingling with the rain, cherry streams running down goose-pimpled flesh. One bare, frozen foot landed badly. I tripped, knee slamming into the kerb. A car hurtled by, horn howling at my presence in its path, the glaring lights of its eyes forcing my own shut. When I opened them again, I was transfixed by the sight of my arms, waxen and tinged red in the fading glare of tail lights. I watched intently as bloodied rain dripped down them and into the gutter.

“James!” I screamed, but the night swallowed his name.

The injured leg dragged behind as I ran on, a dead weight, more blood now seeping between my numb toes. Rain pounded in my ears, the taste of blood biting at the back of my throat. Again I stumbled as more lights flashed in my eyes, stationary this time. Clustered before me stood a crowd of cars branded with words that should have offered comfort, but instead only confirmed my worst fears: Police, Paramedic. Squinting against the onslaught of headlights, I lurched past them. Voices added their cries to the night, but they were not my own, and they were not his, so I ignored them, the world twisting around me as my head grew ever lighter and the lights grew ever brighter.

“JAMES!”

Chasing Azrael, published by Aädedian Ink, is available now.

For more information, visit Hazel-Butler.com.

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Felinity – BBB

Felinity

An Anthology Collected By

Sammy HK Smith

Felinity, noun, plural fel-in-ities. 1. The quality of being cat-like. 2. A divine being, a cat.

Felinity Cover

Grimbold Books is proud to present our first Kristell Inkling, a collection of feline inspired flash fiction stories written by authors from all around the world.

This collection celebrates what we regard as the most important factor when writing: write foremost for pleasure. The stories showcased in this book are full of laughter, grit, odd contraptions and a lot of fur, with a loud purring nod to our beloved genres of science fiction and fantasy.

From A.F.E Smith’s unique twist on Schrödinger’s cat, to Joel Cornah’s world-jumping old queen, from Clare Neilson’s steampunk creation to Tina Closser’s dragon fighting dreaming kitty, these alternate feline worlds are bound to delight sci fi/fantasy readers and cat lovers alike.

Kindle

Paperback

Interview With A Contributor

WILL MACMILLAN-JONES is a fifty-something lover of blues, rock and jazz. He presently lives in Wales, a beautiful verdant land of myth with a rich cultural heritage. He does his best to support this heritage by drinking local beers and shouting loud encouragement at the TV whenever Wales is playing international rugby.

He has just fulfilled a lifetime ambition by filling an entire wall of his study with bookcases, and then (over)filling the bookcases. When not drinking beer and watching rugby, he remembers to write the occasional horror book or to add to his comic fantasy series, The Banned Underground. Links to all his work can be found on his website:

www.willmacmillanjones.com

Hi Ross. I don’t think that I’ve been on your blog before. Nice curtains…are they fireproof? Just asking.

Where do you live and write from?

Although I was born in God’s Own Land of Lancashire, I presently live and write in Wales. It’s a lovely, verdant, land full of myth, mystery, excellent beer and sheep. And hills. I walk on the hills a lot with my camera: I haven’t met a dragon yet, but there’s always hope, you know? Although knowing my luck the dragon would sound more like that Cucumberpatch fellow than Joanna Lumley.

Do you have a specific writing routine?

I have a very specific routine, yes. I turn on the computer, open the current document – or whichever opus I have decided to try and ignore that day, look at the blank screen or in extremis the last few lines written the day before, raise my hands above the keyboard with the fingers poised…and see what’s on Facebook this morning. Like everyone else I’m too easily distracted.

Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?

I must be in touch with my feminine side, as the answer to both questions, is… both. Some works I have carefully plotted in excruciating detail. Others I have just set my eyes on the longer for final page and just gone for it… It’s the same with the writing speed. My second book, The Mystic Accountants, was completed to first draft in a little over a month. There’s a work called The Picture which I hope to complete in a few weeks which has been a year in the writing. For me it’s very much a mood thing: I write what I’m in the mood to write. That sounds horribly indisciplined, but because I write in different genres I’m always in the mood to write something.

What genres do you write, and which is your favourite?

I write fantasy; YA fantasy; comic fantasy; dark fantasy/horror and childrens’s books. This is why mood is so important to my writing: if I’m in a dark place it isn’t easy to write pages of laugh-a-minute gags ( a bored American once calculated that one of my books hit 3.2 jokes per kindle page – now that’s funny, the idea of someone meticulously adding up all the jokes. I never do that myself) and conversely, if I’m rolling around laughing I can’t write something scary.

Tell us about your contribution to Felinity.

The Hunt. The Hunt was easy. I woke up at three am one morning with the whole story there. All I had to do was to write it down, originally at about 1800 words. I had it easy, didn’t I? Can you imagine trying to get all of Zanadu down, in that complicated rhythmic structure in one go? No wonder the poor bloke forgot the ending, is it? Anyway, that was The Hunt. A dream. I just caught it as it passed by.

Felinity is inspired, obviously, by cats. Was it easy for you to find feline inspiration?

Is this where I get the chance to be catty about my ex? No? Oh well, please yourselves then. Any resemblance between the characters and real people is purely co incidental. And imaginary.

I have trouble keeping short stories short, but this is flash fiction – do you find it difficult to write something that’s so short?

No.

7a. A bit more than that?

All right. I actually write quite a bit of Flash. I thoroughly recommend it as a good discipline for writers, many of whom are inclined to run off at the mouth for ever, without thinking of the poor reader left to follow on as best they may. It’s also a great way of breaking a block. If you are stuck on a story, open a new file and stare at the blank screen until something comes out. Very likely it will be rubbish, and you’ll throw it away: but I have several book projects that have started as a piece of flash fiction and then grown. I did win a respected national Flash Fiction Competition in 2013, so it’s always worth trying your hand in the field.

What other projects do you have in the pipeline?

I’m under contract to produce two comic fantasy books in my Banned Underground collection a year until we hit twelve books, so there’s always one or two of those on the go. Plus I’m now aiming to finish one horror book and one children’s book a year as well, so that’s why I’m always writing, and wearing out keyboards.

Give us your important links!

I thought you’d never ask!

Websites:

willmacmillanjones.com Where you can see the full range of stuff I write, and see a bit more about me.

thebannedunderground.com Where my major comic fantasy series hangs out. Gags, excerpts, reviews, trailers, all the usual stuff we authors put on these sites to pretend we are interesting. Plus loads of book links.

willmacmillanjones.wordpress.com The blog, where I talk to other writers and occasionally muse about stuff.

Try these then:

The Satnav of Doom The Banned Underground #5: a serious High Fantasy involving a dwarf Rock N Roll band, some accountants who are also Dark Wizards, dragons, and some mystical beings who have turned their Fairy Hill into an International Merchant Bank. And an anarchic SatNav.

Snort and Wobbles:

Dragons are not real. Everyone tells you that. So what do you do when you are eight years old, and meet a dragon living at the bottom of your garden? You have the adventure of your life!

When Wobbles and her family move into their new home, she is delighted to find that a green dragon is living in secret at the bottom of the garden. But Snort the dragon is not the only one: underground a gang of Goblins have also made their home, and when they capture Wobbles’ big brother Jeremy, it is up to her and Snort to save him: before the Goblins roast him on their barbecue.

Written for those children who are just becoming confident in reading for themselves, and for those parents who (like the author) are addicted to reading bedtime stories to their children and grandchildren, Snort and Wobbles is a thrilling, captivating adventure for 6 – 10 year olds.

Thanks, Will!

In The Shadows – BBB

In The Shadows:

An Outsiders Mystery

By

Susan Finlay

In The Shadows Cover

There is a stranger amongst the residents of the cave-riddled village of Reynier, France. Suspicious, they believe there’s only one reason Maurelle Dupre would be lurking in their small village—she’s a gypsy, a thief. But a former Chicago detective turned mystery author, Dave Martin, who happens to be visiting his French grandmother, isn’t so sure about the beautiful stranger when happenstance causes them to meet. He wonders why she seems so frightened and distrustful. He knows he shouldn’t get involved. The last time he trusted a woman in distress, the consequences resulted in the loss of his detective’s shield and his wife. But, as always, the detective in him can’t seem to leave well enough alone.

However, what Dave couldn’t know is how persuading Maurelle to reveal herself will ultimately unveil something far worse than mere theft.

In the Shadows is a story of trust, belonging, and murder.

Excerpt

MAURA BARRINGTON PULLED back the curtain and stared out the second story window of her shabby hotel room in Paris’ 18th arrondissment. A young couple strolled by, pushing a pram. They stopped and the woman bent forward to check on the baby. When she straightened, the man with her reached over and tucked a loose lock of her hair behind her ear.

Maura let the curtain fall back in place. She turned to look at the bed where her new clothes lay strewn about, waiting to be packed away in her duffel bag. Two days ago, her first day in Paris, she’d spent all her time observing people and figuring out what she needed to wear to blend in. Yesterday, she’d gone shopping.She picked up one outfit, a blue-and-green flowered blouse and coordinating skirt, and took it into the bathroom. After she got dressed, she copied the woman’s hair style—a classic French twist. Lastly, she stuck her feet into the stiff high heels, put away the rest of the clothes, and zipped up the bag. On impulse, she reopened her duffel bag, lifted the false bottom, and verified everything was still there. She hid the bag under the bed and left the room, locking the door carefully. Following the worn red carpet down the creaking staircase, she stopped at the next to last landing, where the musty darkness mixed with a smell she couldn’t quite identify. The hotel felt abandoned. Continuing, she reached the ground floor and was about to step into the dingy hallway when a door directly across from the stairs swung open, startling her. In the doorway a big-bellied man with greasy hair stared at her. His deep-set eyes swept over her, and he grinned widely. Maura hurried past him along the corridor, her footsteps echoing on the cracked tiles, but not loudly enough to cover up the sound of his laughter. A brown mouse darted in front of her and ran under the sofa in the lobby.

Outside, she rushed down the worn steps, but had to stop at the street curb to wait for a string of cars to go by. A ragged-looking dog wandered up to her and sat down beside her as she waited. When the light changed, Maura lifted a foot to step off the curb, but the dog barked loudly, causing her to hesitate. In the next instant, a bus zoomed through the red light and past her, sending a gray plume of exhaust spiraling into the air. Maura swore under her breath. She whirled around toward the dog, but it was already gone.

She crossed the street and walked two blocks, rounded the corner onto bustling Boulevard de Barbès, and continued on to Chateau Rouge train station. It was one of the poorer areas, populated by African and Arab immigrants, yet it was vibrant and alive. As Maura walked through the train station, the frequent train announcements, clatter of metal, and odor of dust and rubber brought to mind London’s underground system, a place she practically knew by heart. She stopped and closed her eyes, savoring the vision of what she would never again see for real, until someone bumped against her. Her eyes popped open. Instinctively, she wrapped protective hands around her handbag, and scanned the area.

Maura proceeded to the platform and found her train already waiting. In the process of rushing aboard the train, something snagged one of her heels causing her to stumble. She almost fell into a man’s lap. “Pardon,” she muttered as she pulled herself together, trying to hide her embarrassment. Once seated near the rear of the train, she glanced cautiously at the people around her. Everyone was busy reading papers or typing text messages on their mobile phones. She removed her shoes and checked the heels to make sure they weren’t damaged. Thankfully the shoes were intact. High heels might be fashionable, but she despised wearing them.

When the train eased to a stop at the Montparnasse station, she exited and climbed the stairs, emerging into the pleasant air of early evening. Ten minutes later, she stood in front of Le Bistro du Nord, an attractive restaurant occupying the ground floor of a tall brick building. On the outside patio, customers sat at silver tables shaded by the building’s dark-green awning, enjoying their dinners and drinks. Her French, though not good enough to pass as a native-speaker, was good enough for a bar job. But she was far from confident in her ability to wait tables well enough for Paris. She took a deep breath, steeled herself, slid past the tables, and entered the bistro. At the hostess station, she greeted the attendant.

“Table for one, or are you meeting someone?”

“Oh, I’m not a customer. I saw the advertisement for a waitress position. I’d like to apply if it’s still available.” The hostess, a slender blonde woman with tanned skin and shimmering lip gloss, looked her over critically. “Of course.” She bent down, and pulled out an application from a drawer at the station. “Please have a seat in the bar area and fill this out. Be sure to return it to me when you’ve finished.”

“Merci.” With the form in hand, Maura turned, and stepped right into the path of a waiter. His quick reflexes avoided a crash, but Maura felt heat rise up her neck, instantly embarrassed. Fortunately, other than the grumbling waiter, no one else seemed to notice.

She stood for a few moments and surveyed the dining room. Judging from the customers, it was classy enough to lure in couples wanting a romantic dinner and business men and women wanting a neutral place to meet with clients, and yet relaxed enough to bring in families with young children. A waitress breezed past her, expertly balancing a tray of several attractive plates of food. The aromas made Maura’s stomach growl, and reminded her of her meager lunch that had consisted of a stale roll, a chunk of cheese, and tea.

Overall, the bistro was rather dark, lit only by its lovely ornate stained glass lamps hanging over each table and by the light bouncing off its mirrored walls. Shouts and raucous laughter drew her attention. Against the farthest wall, illuminated by dozens of candles, was a gorgeous sculpted wooden bar, so highly polished that it shimmered in the candlelight. Glasses of all shapes and sizes lining the wall behind the bar sparkled like stars in the flickering light. A group of at least a dozen men and women were gathered around the far end of the bar, the apparent source of the shouting and laughter.

Moving to the bar area as she was instructed, she selected one of the few empty tables and sat down with her back to a large television screen. After spreading out the three-page application form, she withdrew a pen from her handbag and began filling in the form. For her name she wrote Anouk Allard, and gave the hotel’s address. Meanwhile, more people arrived nearby, after which several explosive bursts of laughter firing in machine gun fashion, distracted her. Maybe she should move to the dining room, she thought. But when she glanced toward the hostess who had specifically sent her to this area, she squashed the idea.

Halfway through filling out her application, she took a break and glanced around her. Her attention fell onto the back of an English newspaper that the man sitting next to her was reading. She scanned the page and stopped abruptly, recognizing a photograph of herself. A gasp escaped her. The man turned and glanced at her. With her heart pounding, she folded up the application and tucked it inside her handbag, scooted back her chair, stood up, and as quickly as she could manage without drawing attention, walked tall and confidently toward the door.

About the Author

Susan Finlay is a newly published author who loves writing, blogging, traveling, and taking photos. She was born in Germany, but grew up in the U.S. A mother of two grown children, she lives in Missouri with her husband and their three cats. Before becoming an author, Susan worked in bank auditing and in a bank department that investigated suspicious activity.

Her first novel, and the first in a series, In the Shadows: An Outsiders Mystery, was published on October, 30, 2013. Here’s a brief blurb about the book: Dave Martin is a former cop from Chicago, who travels to Reynier, France, a small village riddled with caves and troglodyte cave dwellings. There, he meets a mysterious young woman who is desperate to hide a secret, but the detective in Dave can’t stop trying to figure out what’s going on.

The second book in her series is in the final editing stage. It’s called, Where Secrets Reside: An Outsiders Mystery, and is due for release in late April, 2014. Here’s a sneak peek at that book: After one of the locals makes a startling discovery, the residents of the peaceful, close-knit village of Reynier, France, find themselves victimized by a serial killer, a puzzling criminal whose actions force them to look at themselves and each other in a new light. Is the killer an outsider, or one of their own? Who will be the next victim?

Her third book, a suspense novel tentatively titled, Liars’ Games, is set in Denver, Colorado. That book is in editing right now and is expected to be released in the second half of 2014.

Links

Kindle (£2.54)

Paperback (£8.80)

Website

Susan’s Personal Facebook

Facebook Author Page

Twitter

Goodreads

Artificial Absolutes – BBB

This time, because the sequel has recently been released, I’m posting two in one! So here’s the first:

Artificial Absolutes

By

Mary Fan

Artificial Absolutes

Publisher: Red Adept Publishing

Release Date: February 25, 2013

Genre: Science Fiction (Space Opera/Cyberpunk/New Adult)

I have been reading this for the past few months (I am a very slow reader, and haven’t had much chances to read). I’d hoped to be able to write a review of it, but I’m only about halfway through. So far, though, I am enjoying it. It’s far from the typical know-everything hero travelling the galaxy, and apart from anything else, this helps makes action scenes far more tense. She has no training to fall back on; no experience. I’m looking forward to continuing when I get the chance, and I already have the sequel, Synthetic Illusions, ready for when I do.

Blurb:

Jane Colt is just another recent college grad working as an Interstellar Confederation office drone—until the day she witnesses her best friend, Adam, kidnapped by a mysterious criminal. An extensive cover-up thwarts her efforts to report the crime, shaking her trust in the authorities. Only her older brother, Devin, believes her account.

Devin hopes to leave behind his violent past and find peace in a marriage to the woman he loves. That hope shatters when he discovers a shocking secret that causes him to be framed for murder.

With little more than a cocky attitude, Jane leaves everything she knows to flee with Devin, racing throughthe most lawless corners of the galaxy as she searches for Adam and proof of her brother’s innocence. Her journey uncovers truths about both of them, leading her to wonder just how much she doesn’t know about the people she loves.

Purchase Links:

E-Book

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

iTunes

Paperback

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble

Reviews:

“I’d have to say this book combines some of the best robotic AI, like Asimov… It is unlike anything I’ve read before on this subject.”
James M. Butler, author of the “New Dawn” sci-fi series

“…Engaging characters and a story with conflicts and struggles that are universal to all humans across time…”
BigAl, reviewer for BigAl’s Books and Pals

“A cracking tale of fights and escapes and conspiracies, set in a wonderfully and intricately evoked future world. The story rattles along at a fine pace, twisting and turning its way to and fro across the galaxy.”
Mark Roman, author of “The Ultimate Inferior Beings”

“One hell of a sci-fi ride… The mystery in this story was incredible and really kept me at the edge of my seat… It really goes beyond the some other sci-fi reads.”
Diana, reviewer for Offbeat Vagabond

“Artificial Absolutes is much more thanspaceships and robots… It is a timeless exploration of the complexity of family dynamics, the conflicts between faith and non-belief, and what truly defines a human being.”
Julie H. Hughs, reviewer for Random Musingsof a Curious Mind

Synthetic Illusions

By

Mary Fan

Illusion is the only reality.

Synthetic Illusions

Publisher: Red Adept Publishing

Release Date: January 4, 2014

Genre: Science Fiction (Space Opera/Cyberpunk/New Adult)

Blurb:

Jane’s new career as a composer is a dream come true, but her blossoming relationship with Adam is marred by his terrifying nightmares. When Jane receives a warning that a shadowy agency is targeting Adam’s seminary school, she rescues him in the nick of time, but the only way she can protect him from such a powerful enemy is to run.

In a shocking betrayal, her brother wasn’t the one who warned her about the attack on Adam. Instead, Devin was leading it. As Jane struggles to keep one step ahead of Devin, Adam’s exhaustion gives way to horror: His nightmares have begun to touch the real world.

Jane can’t abandon Adam to a fate worse than death, and far more than Adam’s life hangs in the balance. As Jane pushes further into the dark unknown, she must challenge everything she once believed in, and she faces the most wrenching decision of her life: choosing between the two people she loves most.

Purchase Links:

Amazon UK and US

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

About the Author

Mary Fan

Mary Fan lives in New Jersey, where she is currently working in financial marketing. She has also resided in North Carolina, Hong Kong, and Beijing, China. She has been an avid reader for as long as she can remember and especially enjoys the infinite possibilities and out-of-this-world experiences of science fiction and fantasy.

Mary has a B.A. in Music, specializing in composition, from Princeton University and enjoys writing songs as much as writing stories. She also enjoys kickboxing, opera singing, and exploring new things—she’ll try almost anything once.

Author Links:

Website

Blog

Facebook (author page)

Facebook (book page)

Twitter

Tumblr

Goodreads

Pinterest

YouTube

Other Works From Mary Fan:

Flynn Nightsider and the Edge of Evil (Perhaps one of the best titles I’ve ever seen, and immediately screams ‘best seller’)

Publisher: Glass House Press

Release Date: Summer 2014

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy/Dystopia

Part dystopia and part high fantasy, Flynn Nightsider and the Edge of Evil is the first book in a YA series that follows a spirited teen’s efforts to overthrow an evil government while battling supernatural beasts.

Long ago, the evil Lord of the Underworld ravaged the Earth. The Enchanters, magical guardians of the Earth, defeated him, but his monsters lingered. Nearly a century later, the Enchanters have turned the former United States into the totalitarian Triumvirate, where non-magical humans, known as Norms, are treated as second class citizens.

Flynn, a Norm boy, was ten years old when he witnessed his mother’s death at the hands of an undead giant. No one would tell him where the giant had come from or what his mother had been doing that night. After six years of wondering, he finally finds a clue and is determined to uncover the truth – whatever the consequences. His journey takes an unexpected turn when he accidentally commits an act considered terrorism by the Triumvirate. He soon finds himself hunted not only by the government, but also by supernatural monsters and a man with power over the undead. Rescued by underground rebels, he is enticed by their vision of a better world and joins their revolution. But as he struggles to reconcile what he sees with what they tell him, he starts to realize that the rebellion is not everything it seems.

The Firedragon

Publisher: Glass House Press

Release Date: 2014

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy/Dystopia (Novella)

Before she fought the Triumvirate with Flynn, Aurelia “the Firedragon” Sun the star Cadet at the Academy of Supernatural Defense. This is her story.

Almost a hundred years ago, the Enchanters defeated the Lord of the Underworld in one of the most fearsome wars the world had ever seen. The public thinks that this victory means the people are safe. But they’re wrong. The supernatural beasts the Lord unleashed remain on the earth, multiplying and ravaging what’s left of civilization. As long as these monsters exist, mankind will be in danger. And though the government, ruled by the magic-wielding Enchanters, seeks to protect their people, they are too few in number. They need the Defenders – a special class of non-magical humans – to fight the monsters. The Defenders are an elite force, and mankind’s only hope against the horrors that live beyond their gates.

Fourteen-year-old Aurelia “the Firedragon” Sun has been training since she could walk to become a Defender, and her extraordinary combat skills have earned the attention of the powerful government. In fact, she’s been tapped to represent her nation in an international monster-fighting competition, which pits champions from across the globe against creatures of the Underworld in a violent spectacle. If she wins, she will become a full-fledged member of the Defender force.

But as Aurelia moves deeper into the competition, she realizes that all is not as it appears. There’s something sinister behind the competition, something that could change the way she sees everything … and the Enchanters, it seems, are not the heroes she thought. Aurelia begins to ask questions. But before she can discover the truth, she is pitted against the most dangerous monster in the competition – one that will take her life if it can.

The Binding – BBB

The Binding (Chronicles of Azaria #1)

By

Sam Dogra

What do you do when you can’t trust your heart?

The Binding

All seventeen year-old Eliza Bryant wants is to avoid a Binding — the ancient spell that forces couples into a lifelong bond. It cursed her sister, and for the last two years it’s tried to claim her, too. Her monthly hiding ritual worked brilliantly, until the night she ran into Ryan, a mysterious bounty-hunter. Now Bound to him, Eliza must spend every moment at his side, else she’ll transform into an Unbound; a lifeless husk without mind or soul.

Unfortunately, Ryan’s not looking to settle, and Eliza is dragged into his crazy life on the run. Still, she’s not going to take this lying down. Between grappling with the false feelings conjured by the spell and fleeing an unseen enemy, she plans to find a way to break her Binding; a feat nobody’s achieved in two thousand years. The key to her freedom lies closer than she thinks, and it’s deeply connected to Ryan’s past.

Reviews:

4.5 Stars. This exciting tale for New Adult/Older YA crosses genres making it difficult to categorise in any one area. Set in another world it has elements of sci-fi, fantasy and a just touch of steampunk. The characters are magnetic and quickly draw you into this exciting world where curses and magic become real. This passionate tale becomes unstoppable leaving you devastated that the second instalment is yet to be published – not a cliff-hanger, just totally addictive writing. – Tracie, Goodreads

Awesome! Can’t wait for the next one!!! – Molly Bonville, Goodreads

The Binding, by Sam Dogra, is an excellent read, with superb settings and characterisation. I really cared what happened to the main protagonist and the first person point of view, really helped me to become immersed in the story. Only one minor criticism.The, use of the word “to” instead of “at”. For example: “Ryan looked to the moon”, or “I looked to my lap”. This jarred me a little, but apart from this nitpick, this is an almost perfect story and one readers of all ages will enjoy. Highly recommended. – Kate Jack, Amazon

Links:

E-book UK and US

Paperback UK and US

Sam’s…

Website/blog

Facebook

Twitter

Artwork

About the Author:

Sam Dogra

Sam Dogra is a junior doctor working in the UK, and is currently training to become a General Practitioner. Between reviewing drug charts and X-rays, taking blood, saving lives and getting grilled by consultants, she also writes fantasy fiction and is a fantasy artist. She has co-written ‘Fated: A Timeless Series Companion Novel’ with author Lisa Wiedmeier, and has also published her first novel The Binding, and its sequel, The Parting, with a third book in progress.

She’s widely traveled, and has enjoyed her visits to France, Germany, Norway, Greece, Egypt, Israel, Rhodes, Turkey, Cyprus, Lesvos, India, Dubai, Australia, Canada and Idaho, Washington, New York, Seattle and Alaska, USA.Her other main interest is fantasy art.

In what little spare time she has, Sam also enjoys reading, baking, shopping, watching movies and anime, astrology, video games, collecting cuddly toy animals, and photography.

Encante – BBB

Encante

By

Aiyana Jackson

Encante Cover

Deep under the ocean, Simeon Escher, protégé to the leader of the order of Loth Lörion, finds himself an unexpected guest aboard the submersible, Narwhal. Home to a crew of humans, and strange mer-folk few people are aware exist, Simeon is swept up in their quest to find a world within a world, a possible safe haven from the insidious reach of the Kabbalah. Yet how can he think about his mission when the captain’s niece fills his every thought, distracting him from all that’s important to him, including his own fiancée?

Links:

Aiyana Jackson’s novella is available now in the following places:

E-book – Amazon UK and US

Paperback – Amazon UK and US

Aiyana Jackson’s Website

Aiyana Jackson on Facebook

Excerpt:

‘My worst fear is that I shall one day shift to another world and find it gone, sucked into some singularity, lost to a strangelet, or shattered by the rain of a million asteroids. Perhaps it would only take one—a rogue planet that for reasons beyond reason collided with another. We knew so little about the stars, how could we ever say with certainty that the worlds to which we travelled would still be there upon our arrival? That was, I suppose, the reason for the carapace—if one did step through into nothing, the carapace would activate. An invisible, translucent second skin, it preserved your air, giving you a little time to reactivate your damned compass and get home. And yet, I know this is not how portals are supposed to work. The Kabbalah takes no chances when hopping from one world to the next: they can see, as if looking through a window, exactly where they will appear on the other side.

The rebellion has precious few portals in their possession, all cobbled together from mismatched pieces of kit and barely functional parts. Since I joined I had become a man of many luxuries, courtesy of my benefactor, yet we still did not have the luxury of true portals; we still did not have the luxury of time. On my worst nights, I dreamed of losing my compass, of drifting in space, slowly suffocating as I watched a transient star devouring its childling planets.

One might wonder why I continued to hop from one world to the next, never knowing where I would materialise or what would await me. I liked to say it was for the adventure, for the cause, for the future, even for Cecelie, but the truth was far simpler: since joining the rebellion my worst nightmares had changed. And I far preferred the new to the old.

When it came to it, the carapace worked exactly as had been intended; however, I was to see no stars, no nebulas or magnetars. No comets. As the shell closed around me, I saw only one thing: darkness.’

And I’ll end with a map of Idele, from Encante:

Map of Idele

Shadow Over Avalon – BBB

Shadow Over Avalon

By

C. N. Lesley

Following two threads of time, CN Lesley’s fresh take on the Arthurian tales of old delivers the perfect blend of science fiction and fantasy.

Shadow Over Avalon Cover

Beyond the mists of time, a dying warrior binds his soul to his sword with an oath to protect his people. His shade rides with the Wild Hunt while he waits for the call of greatest need, but when it comes, he doesn’t know it is a lie.

In the undersea city of Avalon, Arthur nears the end of his acolyte training. But he doesn’t want to spend his life serving the Archive, he wants to fight side by side with the air-breathing people to defeat the predators who are determined to ensure their own survival no matter the cost.

Ashira, War Maid princess of the surface-world, is ready to sacrifice her life to defend her kin, but when she is betrayed she must choose whether to die with honor or become one of the creatures her kinsmen fear and loathe. Fortune twists in the strongest hands. This is no repeat; this is what happens next.

Shadow Over Avalon will be released 31 October by Kristell Ink.

About The Author

CN Lesley

Elizabeth Hull, writing under the by line of C.N.Lesley, lives in Alberta with her husband and cats. Her three daughters live close by. When she isn’t writing, Elizabeth likes to read and to paint watercolors. She is also a keen gardener (despite the very short summers) and now has a mature shade garden. Once a worker in the communications sector, mostly concentrating on local news and events, she now writes full time, and fusses over her cats. She was senior managing editor of FlashMe Magazine and now is assistant flash fiction editor for Abyss and Apex.

Links

C. N. Lesley’s Website

C. N. Lesley on Amazon (UK and US), (Shadow Over Avalon is available for pre-order)

Abyss And Apex Magazine

Editorial Review

BY JEANNE HASKIN, Author of ‘Love, War and Magic’, Artema Press

Author C.N. Lesley’s second novel, Shadow Over Avalon is an exquisite science-fantasy that portrays a world divided with masterful skill and detail. Undersea is the city of Avalon, a place of technology and manipulative experimentation in psi powers and genetics. It is Arthur’s birthplace and, if he does not defy the Seers who control him, it will be his prison.

Arthur’s hope lies in a woman of the surface world, a Gold Band War Maid named Ashira, who means nothing to her father, but will come to mean everything to her husband and the Earth’s resistance movement. Against creatures in deep space, whose food supply is the human herd, surface-dwellers like Ashira, who are ignorant of their function and unaware of their enemy, stand no chance of survival if they are found to possess psi powers. The sentence for this is unmaking—an assault on one’s very being—a torture so cruel and inhuman that those who survive as Outcasts must bond together for survival.

Except Ashira’s fate is to move between both worlds. Undersea and above-ground, she is the liaison between two powers that together could change Earth’s future. More importantly, her strong will and militant determination are the catalyst for Arthur’s own development much more than he can know.

But unbeknownst to both, there is a third player in this war: a shadow man who haunts Arthur’s dreams, as only one manifestation of who he truly is. It is the secret of this being—and Arthur’s need to unravel its intrigue—that will determine who is left standing and whether Arthur’s long-ago promise to fight mankind’s greatest battle will be foiled or fulfilled.

Inspired by literature’s most-loved King, this novel remains true to his purpose yet breaks every boundary to portray his challenge in the future. In all aspects, from the brilliant characterization to the warriors’ undying courage, this story is a journey like no other. Brought to life with breathtaking prose that is emotive and compelling, this book, like its inspiration, is destined for the halls of legend.

C. N. Lesley’s previous novel, Darkspire Reaches, will be free between 21 October and 8 November.