Blog Tour: The Space Between Time by Charlie Laidlaw [Review & Giveaway]

The Space Between Time
By: Charlie Laidlaw

The Space Between Time

Expected Publication Date: June 20th, 2019
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Drama/Dark Comedy

SYNOPSIS

There are more stars in the universe than there are grains of sand on Earth…

Emma Maria Rossini appears to be the luckiest girl in the world. She’s the daughter of a beautiful and loving mother, and her father is one of the most famous film actors of his generation. She’s also the granddaughter of a rather eccentric and obscure Italian astrophysicist.

But as her seemingly charmed life begins to unravel, and Emma experiences love and tragedy, she ultimately finds solace in her once-derided grandfather’s Theorem on the universe.

The Space Between Time is humorous and poignant and offers the metaphor that we are all connected, even to those we have loved and not quite lost.

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REVIEW

The Space Between Time is a novel of many good qualities as is expected with Charlie Laidlaw. While I’ve only read one other book from him last year, his writing style and the voice he gives his characters (especially the main one) is very unique. At the the same time, the structure and the story also work very well. In this case, The Space Between Time truly benefits by creating this parallel of the main character Emma’s constant comparison to her grandfather’s theorem of space and time to draw the different events that happen in her life. It is also the unique angle of the story. The novel itself takes form by its different parts (cleverly titled with different space formulas and titles) that take us into the different stages of Emma’s life.

While The Space Between Time does have a good few characters that come in and out of Emma’s life, the main character here is Emma used in a first person voice. This is particularly effective for this story because of one circumstance which helps round up the story and might hit spoiler territory so I’ll avoid it but the second is that it helps capture, like a journal, the different ways of talking as well as the different point of views as Emma grows up, from when she was a little girl just until the present, being an adult. A lot of the novel and plot benefits from this element because the story itself is one that is more dramatic and with that, heartbreaking.

The Space Between Time overall works quite well. It is both unique, well-structured and creative with some unique ideas. The character of Emma is complex, has depth and also is one that grows over time as she fights some of her own inner monsters and grows up to understand more and change her perspective of the people around her. There are so many lessons to learn in this novel through Emma’s story. Its a story about love and loss, family and communication as well as letting go and forgiveness. Its about coming to terms to the different sides of a character.

A lot of elements in The Space Between Time lands really well. The only small issue here was some areas dragged on a little too much with descriptions. There are also some moments where some of the stories seem to drag on too much but then in the sum of things, especially with how it ends, some of the little mundane things come back in the storyline and have their own purpose. On a more personal note, there is a decent amount of dark humor here which (at least for myself) didn’t quite always land as much. However, as much as there are some small issues with the pacing and such, The Space Between Time tells a story about Emma that should be told and probably needs to be told because it highlights some very important elements of life.

Goodreads score: 4 out of 5

Purchase Link

Amazon

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

charlie laidlaw

I was born in Paisley, central Scotland, which wasn’t my fault. That week, Eddie Calvert with Norrie Paramor and his Orchestra were Top of the Pops, with Oh, Mein Papa, as sung by a young German woman remembering her once-famous clown father. That gives a clue to my age, not my musical taste.

I was brought up in the west of Scotland and graduated from the University of Edinburgh. I still have the scroll, but it’s in Latin, so it could say anything.

I then worked briefly as a street actor, baby photographer, puppeteer and restaurant dogsbody before becoming a journalist. I started in Glasgow and ended up in London, covering news, features and politics. I interviewed motorbike ace Barry Sheene, Noel Edmonds threatened me with legal action and, because of a bureaucratic muddle, I was ordered out of Greece.

I then took a year to travel round the world, visiting 19 countries. Highlights included being threatened by a man with a gun in Dubai, being given an armed bodyguard by the PLO in Beirut (not the same person with a gun), and visiting Robert Louis Stevenson’s grave in Samoa. What I did for the rest of the year I can’t quite remember

Surprisingly, I was approached by a government agency to work in intelligence, which just shows how shoddy government recruitment was back then. However, it turned out to be very boring and I don’t like vodka martini.

Craving excitement and adventure, I ended up as a PR consultant, which is the fate of all journalists who haven’t won a Pulitzer Prize, and I’ve still to listen to Oh, Mein Papa.

I am married with two grown-up children and live in central Scotland. And that’s about it.

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GIVEAWAY

I have 2 signed copies of The Space Between Time to giveaway, 3 fun coffee mugs featuring all 3 of Charlie Laidlaw’s books, and 3 digital copies of the book in the winner’s format of choice! Amazing right? Click the link HERE to enter!

*Open Internationally – Giveaway closes June 30th

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Blog Tour: Crossline by Russ Colchamiro [Review & Giveaway]

Crossline Blog Tour

CROSSLINE
By: Russ Colchamiro

crossline

First published: March 2013
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy

SYNOPSIS

“A high-flying adventure of a novel, filled with ambitious ideas and a breathtaking conclusion.” — The Leighgendarium

In the SciFi/Fantasy spirit of Firefly, Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, Stargate, and Escape from New York…

Hotdog pilot Marcus Powell has been selected to test Taurus Enterprises’ Crossline prototype craft and its newly developed warp thrusters, which, if successful, will revolutionize space travel as we know it.

But during his jaunt across the stars, Powell is forced into a parallel universe — including a parallel Earth — where he finds himself at the center of an epic battle he may have been destined for all along.

Meanwhile, back home, reclusive oil tycoon and Taurus CEO Buddy Rheams Jr. — who sent Powell on that very mission — has a mysterious past and a secret agenda, one that could prevent Powell from ever making it back to his wife and little girl.

From author Russ Colchamiro, Crossline is a psychedelic, action-packed romp across time, space, and dimension that asks the question: once you cross the line, can you ever really go back?

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REVIEW

After a slow-paced beginning to set up the scenario to the lift-off of Marcus Powell, Crossline takes a nice increase in pace throughout until its finale. As time goes by, slow beginnings in novels have begun the normal pattern nowadays because it needs the time to give its characters and story some foundation. One of the well-done parts of Crossline is how its executed. There is a structure that I enjoyed. It took its story into parts, describing its current and how it lead to this situation between Marcus Powell in the current situation and where his space expedition had ambitiously taken him while Part 2 took the step to introduce the character of Buddy Rheams Jr. who plays a key part to the story and unravels some of the mysteries left off from Part 1 in the Marcus Powell bit. As it enters the final act, it blends the two situation and the two locations together as it guides its story to the big finale. Because of this structure, Crossline ends up becoming fairly action-driven by its final part and that makes for a page-turning experience that perhaps the first few chapters didn’t do as well.

Taking a look at the characters, there is the obvious two here with Marcus Powell and Buddy Rheams Jr. While Marcus Powell doesn’t have as much of a backstory, he has a bit more of a mystery behind him because he does some actions in the start that create the situation that he’s in while also have the human aspects of family and connections. While Buddy Rheams Jr., we soon learn of his identity and his motives for this expedition, while at the same time, he has more of a past that creates his back story making his mystery the missing pieces of “What next?”. These two main characters are created very well. At the same time, there is also a contained group of supporting characters for both Powell’s side of the story on Aretha while Buddy Rheams Jr. and the Earth side of things also has its own crew which start off with some very odd characters who also get their purpose. Its always nice to have characters that serve their purpose. One of two of them are fairly underused but then, there’s no clear way how to add them more to the story but they aren’t exactly disposable either. At least, the author remembers to address all these characters by the time we reach the ending and that is a always nice to see that the characters mentioned are treated with care.

Overall, Crossline is a fun read. It starts off slow as it builds the foundation but quickly finds its footing and gradually paces the action fast and faster making it more and more of a page turner reading experience. The story’s two locations and two character focus ties into each other very effectively. There are some little issues here and there where at some points there are a bit too many characters that pop in on the Aretha situation (particularly in the final act) and it gets slightly confusing but then, most of it does a good job of creating a decent structure to make it work.

Goodreads: 4/5

Purchase links

Amazon
Barnes & Noble

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

RUSS COLCHAMIRO

Russ Colchamiro is the author of the rollicking space adventure, Crossline, the zany SF/F backpacking comedy series Finders Keepers: The Definitive Edition, Genius de Milo, and Astropalooza, and is editor of the SF anthology Love, Murder & Mayhem, all with Crazy 8 Press.

Russ lives in New Jersey with his wife, two ninjas, and crazy dog Simon, who may in fact be an alien himself. Russ has also contributed to several other anthologies, including Tales of the Crimson Keep, Pangaea, Altered States of the Union, Camelot 13, TV Gods 2, They Keep Killing Glenn, Thrilling Adventure Yarns, Camelot 13, and Brave New Girls.

He is now working on the first novel in a new series featuring his hardboiled private eye Angela Hardwicke, and the first of three collaborative novella projects.

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GIVEAWAY

Details: For your chance to win a print copy of this high-flying adventure in either print or digital, AND a $15 Amazon Gift Card, be sure to click the link HERE!

Blog Tour Schedule

May 27th

Reads & Reels (Excerpt) http://readsandreels.com
She Marie (Excerpt) https://shemarieblogs.com/
Tranquil Dreams (Review) https://klling.wordpress.com/
Didi Oviatt (Excerpt) https://didioviatt.wordpress.com
Tsarina Press (Excerpt) https://www.tsarinapress.com

May 28th

The Magic of Wor(l)ds (Interview) http://themagicofworlds.wordpress.com
Ity Reads Books (Review) http://www.ityreadsbooks.home.blog
The Book Dragon (Review) thebookdragondotblog.wordpress.com
Breakeven Books (Excerpt) https://breakevenbooks.com

May 29th

The Faerie Review (Review) http://www.thefaeriereview.com
Audio Killed the Bookmark (Excerpt) http://audiokilledthebookmark.wordpress.com
Reading Nook (Excerpt) http://readingnook84.wordpress.com

May 30th

That One Nerdy Girl (Review) http://thatonenerdygirlblog.wordpress.com
Triquetra Reviews (Excerpt) http://www.triquetrareviews.blogspot.com
Reviews by Nyx (Excerpt) https://nyxblogs.wordpress.com/

May 31st

Every Book Counts (Review) https://everybookcountsblog.wordpress.com/
Jessica Belmont (Review) http://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com
Dash Fan Book Reviews (Excerpt) https://dashfan81.blogspot.com/
Sophril Reads (Excerpt) http://sophrilreads.wordpress.com
The Consulting Writer (Excerpt) https://theconsultingwriter.wordpress.com

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Blog Tour: Forever People by Alison Lyke [Review/Giveaway]

Forever People

FOREVER PEOPLE
BY: ALISON LYKE

FOREVER PEOPLE

Publication Date: March 28, 2019
Genre: Sci-fi/Cyberpunk
Publisher: Black Rose Writing

SYNOPSIS

Welcome to Zeta City, where the whole world goes to die. Here, the Node System uploads the minds of the dying so they can spend eternity in a digital Promised Land. But, this cyber heaven is causing hell on earth for the living because the System forces them to earn Points to buy data in the afterlife.

Camille is a salty mercenary out to hoard as many Points as possible by exploiting the dying with illegal technology. She’s on the hunt for Toy, a rebel leader who uploaded lethal technology to her own brain in an attempt to wipe out everyone’s Node Points.

Camille goes to increasingly dangerous lengths in pursuit of Toy. She soon finds that the Node is full of warm reunions with loved ones and otherworldly creations. It’s also full of lies.

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REVIEW

Forever People is a futuristic sci-fi cyberpunk adventure where the world lives to accumulate Node Points which helps them get better treatment when they enter the Node after they die. As per the stories from the Founders which created this system. However, when Camille, a bounty hunter with a special gadget  called the Confiner gets hired to catch a rebel before she commits suicide ends up losing out on that mission, things go sideways and a lot of secrets get discovered as a result. There’s a lot of good here. The world building and the futuristic elements from the gadgets to the universe here has a lot of thought put in and a lot of imaginative elements as well. The structure of the story gives Forever People a nice angle as it focuses on various characters and their encounters. Its a bit like how Game of Thrones books is structured (at least the first one since I only read that one) and I might have similar criticisms in the sense that some characters come by very late in the game and then there is an imbalance especially when a lot of these timelines do crossover, which shows a nice storyboard and planning elements in the writing overall but there are some characters that are used very minimal and might not exactly deserve their own narrative chapter. Although, there is a purpose in the whole scheme of things so that isn’t a huge criticism at all.

Since we’re talking about characters, that is a standout element here (aside from the world building). The main character that starts here is Camille and she is tough cracker and in the description, its apparent that she is not your typical femme fatale that Hollywood creates however has her exceptional competence and qualities. At the same time, the other characters here whether its her tech friend Remington or the rebel leader Toy or her liaison Cody and other characters, they manage to tie them together very well and give them proper crossover when necessary, especially with some characters that seem small at the beginning and end up having some part in the whole spectrum of things. The story here is quite standalone but if there was some way to have Camille be in some other story setting, it would be nice to see this character having further adventures.

Overall, Forever People started off a little slow in the setup but turns itself around and remains well-paced throughout. The world building and character, especially its main character Camille being its standout as well as using a good structure to form its point of views and narratives. While there’s this feeling that the world here feels very familiar, I can’t quite pinpoint where its from. However, there is a lot of twists and turns here plus a lot of adventure. Its always nice to see how different people envision a different version of the future and the afterlife.

Goodreads score: 4 out of 5

Purchase Here

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alison Lyke

I’m an author and an English and Communications professor from Rochester, NY. I’m an insatiable reader and a dedicated writer. I’ve spent many years honing my skills and I now enjoy helping others find and explore their own voices. I write fantasy and science fiction and I aim to captivate and inspire. I’ve written two published novels: a modern mythology titled Honey, which came out in 2013 and Forever People, a cyberpunk science fiction slated to come out in the spring of 2019. I also regularly contribute poetry and short stories to literary magazines.

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Details: A Copy of Digital Copy

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BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE

April 22nd

Reads & Reels (Excerpt) https://readsandreels.com/
Sophril Reads (Excerpt) http://sophrilreads.wordpress.com
Yearwood La Novella (Excerpt) http://yearwooddailybookreview.wordpress.com
Stacy is Reading (Review) https://stacyisreading.blogspot.com/?m=0
The Caffeinated Reader (Review) https://www.thecaffeinatedreader.com

April 23rd

Audio Killed the Bookmark (Excerpt) http://audiokilledthebookmark.wordpress.com
Susy’s Cozy World (Review) https://susyscozyworld.wordpress.com/
The Bookworm Drinketh (Review) http://thebookwormdrinketh.wordpress.com/

April 24th

Ity Reads Books (Excerpt) http://www.ityreadsbooks.home.blog
J Bronder Reviews (Excerpt) https://jbronderbookreviews.com/
The Magic of Wor(l)ds (Excerpt) http://themagicofworlds.wordpress.com
Speedy Reader (Review) https://speedyreadercom.wordpress.com

April 25th

Breakeven Books (Excerpt) https://breakevenbooks.com
B is For Book Review (Excerpt) https://bforbookreview.wordpress.com
Tranquil Dreams (Review) https://klling.wordpress.com/

April 26th

Llissa’s Book Reviews (Excerpt) http://llissasbookviews.wordpress.com
Dash Fan Book Reviews (Excerpt) https://dashfan81.blogspot.com/
Jessica Rachow (Review) http://jessicarachow.wordpress.com
Sawdust & Spoons (Review) http://sawdustandspoons.com/

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Book Blitz: The Onyx Crown by Alan Hurst

The Onyx Crown
by: Alan Hurst

The onyx Crown

Publication Date: January 27, 2019

Genre: Fantasy/Adventure

SYNOPSIS

The Onyx Crown is an exciting foray into the world of African fantasy. From the searing heat of the desert to the vastness of the savannah, it tells the story of three children–Sania, Gesi, and Jorann who grow up in a pre-medieval era of wars and successions, not fifteen years after the greatest king in the history of the continent has been deposed and assassinated. They must overcome the traumatic circumstances of their birth as well as many dangerous trials to fulfill the destiny bestowed upon them as infants. Can mere children use their courage, wits, and uncanny abilities to defeat legendary warriors, entire tribes, provinces, and kingdoms–allowing them to lead the worthy to the greatest prize of all, the Onyx Crown?

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EXCERPT

The Equinox Hunt was the once-every-ten-moon foray into the chakkha, or jungle, made by only the most celebrated hunters of the Nabii tribe of Numeria. It’s primary purpose was to keep the beast population to manageable levels, and stop them from foraging into the grasslands, but had long ago become a reliable way to create fortune for some Nabii tribesmen (simply called ‘the Hunters’), and their families.

Although wealth and riches beyond all imagination could be found beyond the gates of the chief Nabii citadel, Abir City, if the Hunters knew where to look, for most families it was more likely that they would return to the gates destitute, starving, and missing several family members.

K’Nan knew this as well as anyone. He knew he was looking at mostly dead men. Damn men are such fools, he thought. Most of these hunters were already successful enough to provide for their families, own property, perhaps even bribe for themselves a pathetic position on the council. Success was never enough, and, in fact, it spurs on the hunger drive for more success.

This time, he th ought, things just may turn out differently for them. Why he had decided to lead the Hunt this year was a puzzle even to himself.

He knew better than to rely on the nonsensical rumors that had been trickling out of the wilderness for the last year and a half. Tales of mythical beasts and fearsome fighters attacking the Numerian migrants seemed just that, more myth than reality, except…

Except he’d also dreamt of them for the last ten years of his life. He could probably count the number of peaceful nights he’d slept in that time quite easily if he stopped to think about it. There damned sure hadn’t been many.

How could he sleep? The unimaginable horror of some of the things he’d seen during those dreams weren’t easy to forget—man-eating beasts, blood thirsty warriors, and infants dying in the wilderness.  

It was this last dream, the one about three infant children that spurred him toward the savannah. The innermost reaches of the savannah were referred to as the chakkha—the destination of the Equinox hunters, the Win-Daji.  

“Why does it bother you so much?” he said to himself. “It’s just a dream like any other, and those other three are long lost now.”  

And yet here he was. All because of a dream.

He shook his head at himself. “When will you finally give up hope?”

The winds started blowing even more briskly now, bringing a mini-sandstorm to the town gates. Instinctively, everyone covered their eyes and faces, through conditioning more than fear.

It was apparent that they were in no danger from sand this far from the wilderness, but hiding from it was a habit both born and bred in them from childbirth. Heat can indeed kill you, but in the wilderness you learn to fear the sand much more than the heat.

Luckily for the Win-Daji, the summer had not begun. In the summer, sandstorms morphed from deadly catastrophic—it was widely known that the one approaching would last for many months and be one of the hottest ever recorded.

The hunter talking with the sentries now was unique enough to catch K’Nan’s interest. This man was tall and pale-skinned (a rarity this far south) with a scar leading from the corner of his left eye to his left ear, a love kiss from a Deluthian rhino most likely, K’Nan’s imoya, or spirit, told him.

He wore his hair in the traditional Nabii tribesman style, shaved on the sides with a strip of hair about two inches high down the middle. On his hip he carried a crescent sword, very worn and very menacing, and two bows slung carelessly across his back.

Tied around his left thigh was a two-cubic-long dagger with a polished bone handle covered with notches. This man has done some killing, thought K’Nan, and without a doubt not confined it to beasts.

Whatever he was arguing with the sentries about must’ve been important. Gradually all of the other Win-Daji and Halanbi moved closer to them to listen in. Some were nodding and raising their weapons. Every now and then there’d be a little shout of encouragement from the group. Meanwhile the guards were shaking their heads all the more emphatically.

K’Nan ended his reverie and motioned his two companions, Semri and Semarion, to follow him down the rocky path toward the gates. The steadfast twin brothers hastily complied.

They had fought and hunted with him the better part of the last five years and were two of the only people he felt he could really rely on, despite the fact that they were not full-blooded Numerians. So, he’d asked them to accompany him, without telling them the true reason.

What are you so worried about? He asked himself. Aren’t you K’nan the Savage Slayer, a legend in all three territories of the savannah, defender of the Numerians, the scourge of all Panthia? How many countless men have died under your two-bladed spear, deservedly all?

How many beasts have you saved these wretched villagers from? You’ve dined with tribal chieftains between both seas, shared their spoils, and bedded their daughters. How could a life as full as yours end so quickly? Have you forgotten what the prophetess told you?

Purchase Links

Amazon
Nook

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alan Hurst

Alan Hurst is an author and entrepeneur. Hurst who spent most of his childhood reading Asian wuxia fiction, Marvel comics and encyclopedias is delving into trilogy territory with THE ONYX CROWN. He briefly studied religion at Harvard.  Later, he settled in Washington, DC where he founded a software consulting firm, hosted the Urban Nation Radio podcast, and occasionally played the World Series of Poker.  When not writing or enjoying time with his family, he prefers to take his Ducati motorcycle out for the occasional spin!

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Details: Digital Copy of The Onyx Crown

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Blog Tour: One Flew Through the Dragon Heart (Favan & Flew #1) by C.S. Johnson [Review & Giveaway]

One Flew Through the Dragon Heart
(Favan & Flew #1)

By: C.S. Johnson

one flew through the dragon heart

Publication Date: December 21st, 2018
Genre: Steampunk/Fantasy

SYNOPSIS

A Chinese Legend. A British Secret. Star-Crossed Lovers with Incompatible Magic.

Brixton Flew works as a professor of wielder instruction at Rembrandt Academy, hoping to erase the regrets of his youth along with the resulting debt. But when he comes face to face with his biggest regret—the woman who broke his heart, Adelaide Favan—Brixton soon realizes his troubles have only begun.

Unable to control her magic, Adelaide knew leaving Brixton was the only way to protect him when they were younger. Now she discovers he is the key to recovering the Dragon Eyes, a legendary treasure connected to her magic and her family’s disgraced legacy—and she knows the risk is great, to both his life and her heart.

With others seeking the power of the Dragon Eyes, Brixton and Adelaide must outwit their foes and face down their families to save London from an ancient legend that sleeps beneath the magic portal in their city.

But the renewed passion growing between them may prove to be the greater peril …

One Flew Through the Dragon Heart is the first book in a new steampunk series by C.S. Johnson, blending together history, romance, mecha-dragons and magic against the glittering backdrop of 1880’s Victorian London.

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EXCERPT

“Brixton.”

His sixteen-year-old self was scurrying past the materials room when he heard his name spoken with a soft, foreign lilt. The sound broke through him like a magic spell, disrupting his intellectual musings and forcing him into an uncomfortable position.

He was in a hurry; his professor would be upset if he was late for class. As a star pupil, Brixton knew he had a certain reputation to live up to, and he had learned well not to call any negative attention to himself.

But at the sound of Adelaide Favan calling for him, he felt helpless—helplessly nervous and helplessly intrigued. It was almost as if some part of him had been waiting for her to call, and he had been more than ready to answer.

Out of guilt, if nothing else.

He nearly lost his grip on the stack of books he carried as he stumbled to a stop and glanced back at the doorway to the materials room. He could see a slim shadow at the back, where her dark skirts whipped around as she moved between stations, pulling out supplies and looking for spare coils, cogs, or anything else she decided she needed.

He did not have the faintest notion why she would be calling him. Adelaide never seemed to talk to anyone unless it was out of necessity.

“Are you coming in or not?” Adelaide straightened, looking up at him from behind a thick pair of black-rimmed goggles, the kind that magnified her eyes behind the protective glass.

Brixton felt a quick twinge of regret. She always wore them when she was working on something. He had a sinking feeling he was going to be late for class—but he stepped into the room regardless.

“I’m surprised,” she said as he tentatively approached her.

“Why? You were the one who called me.”

“Is that what I need to do to get your attention?” Adelaide put her hands on her hips as she stepped back from the table, where a box full of wires and screws and other various building materials winked up at him.

Brixton felt his face turn red. “If you’re talking about earlier, I—”

“I don’t want to talk about earlier,” Adelaide said. “You know who my father is. Do you think your friends are the first people to make fun of me because of my family?”

“They’re not my friends. Not exactly.” Brixton sighed. “They’re just people we go to school with. You don’t have to be friends with them. You just have to get along with them until we graduate.”

“Is that your plan?”

He shifted his feet as the clocks chimed loudly, the pleasant ringing turning sour in his ears. He was officially late for class. Brixton glanced back at the door.

Adelaide did not pay attention to the clock. She saw to her work, fiddling with one of the gearshifts. Brixton noticed she was also still wearing her workshop gloves. Along with her goggles, they were a semi-permanent part of her wardrobe. They were thick and black, going up past her elbows. The school issued them as part of the engineering department; Brixton hated wearing them, since the synthetic material of the gloves interfered with his ability to use magic. Adelaide was the only one who consistently wore them.

“It’s mostly my plan,” he said, finally answering her.

“Seems like a silly plan, especially for the next four years.”

“Earlier, when those girls were picking on you, I didn’t say anything—”

“I said I didn’t want to talk about earlier. People have made comments about me all my life. Getting accepted into Rembrandt two years earlier than everyone else is merely another unearned privilege in their eyes.”

Her voice was calm, but Brixton saw that her fingers, even buried in her large gloves, shook ever so slightly.

“I don’t presume—”

“But you do.” Adelaide pushed up her goggles onto her forehead again, brushing back her long black hair.

Brixton hated how he stared at her. Up close, her eyes were cloudy gray, speckled over with a silver lining. He noticed they were slanted, ever so slightly; along with her flattened nose and full lips, there were plenty of hints at her Chinese heritage. He had heard the whispers of her family, especially her father, the famous Captain Favan who led Her Royal Majesty’s Airship Force.

That was one of the main reasons he had tried to befriend her before. Brixton had approached her when she was first introduced to their class, eager to talk about her father’s legacy and how it was his dream to be in the Airship Force one day, too. Adelaide had ignored him then, brushing off his introduction.

Remembering that, he frowned. She has some nerve, admonishing me for poor manners.

He cleared his throat to give himself a moment to recover. “You should know you’re presuming that I’m presuming something. I don’t know you well enough to presume anything.”

For the first time, Adelaide softened her expression. Brixton briefly wondered if he had hurt her feelings, or if it was possible he had successfully pointed out her double standards.

She tugged the goggles down over her eyes a moment later, returning to the project before her. She said nothing as she picked up a suturing iron and began to burn a twisted bunch of wires together.

For a long moment, Brixton watched her. Despite her gloves, her movements were very precise—so precise that they almost seemed awkward.

Just like the rest of her, he thought with a small smile.

Adelaide was fourteen years old, two years younger than everyone else at Rembrandt. She had transferred into the school during the middle of their second semester, and ever since their failed first meeting, Brixton kept his distance from her, even if he continued to watch her out of the corner of his eye. He knew the others in his class teased her for her youth, her connections, and her ancestry.

He could sympathize with her some in that regard, given he received plenty of his own mockery. He was only at Rembrandt because of his scholarship. Most of the students were from the aristocracy, and the idea of rich merchants or lower-class workers—such as his parents—sending their children to Rembrandt was nothing short of scandalous.

He easily dismissed those who badgered him; he was here for an education, and nothing more.

But as Brixton gazed down at Adelaide, he suddenly wondered if she was able to do the same.

She was such a small thing. She was not only two years his junior, but she was also at least a foot shorter. The Rembrandt Academy uniform nearly swallowed up her body. He could see her vest was pinned in the back, and her long skirt was clearly hemmed. Brixton had a feeling she liked to wear the goggles on her forehead if for no other reason than they lent her another two inches in height.

“Why did you call me?” Brixton asked, daring himself to speak again.

Adelaide bit her lip, and Brixton found himself staring again.

Finally, she sighed. “I need you.”

His breath caught and his body went still. He was only able to move after she added, “I need your help.”

The words came out with a ripe bitterness in each syllable, and Brixton almost laughed at her discomfort. It was clear she never asked for help if she could avoid it.

He cleared this throat again, swallowing the last of his laughter, and nodded. “Tell me what it is.”

“I need help assembling this,” Adelaide said, pointing to the neat array of metal scraps and parts before her.

“What is it?”

“A dragon heart.”

“Beg pardon?” Brixton dropped his books, missing the table and causing them to clatter to the floor. He was certain he had misheard her as he bent to pick them up, but he was even more surprised when she laughed.

Her eyes were pushed back into slits behind her goggles, giving her a wizened, animated look as her smile widened. Brixton stared at her as he picked up his books and stacked them neatly beside hers.

“I’m only kidding,” Adelaide said, before she arched her brow. “Or maybe I’m not. Either way, I need your help with this part.”

She opened the top panel and pointed to a small knot of wires lined with alloy and copper. “This is an energy loop I’ve been working on. It’s a special type of power source. The Board wants to develop more efficient batteries, especially since the Edison Project has shown promise. Now they want to see what the wielders can do to improve it.”

“I talked with Professor Ohm about this,” Brixton said. “He wanted to find a way to generate perpetual energy. He thought electricity could possibly be infused with magic.”

“I know. I overheard your conversation after class a few days ago.”

“You did?” Brixton took the suturing iron out of her hand.

“He was dismissive of the idea as an alternative life source, but he was interested in seeing if you could figure out how to make his own theories work.”

He bit down on his cheek. He knew which conversation Adelaide was referring to, and it was one where Professor Ohm spent several minutes admonishing him for his eclectic reading tastes.

“What?” Adelaide asked.

“It’s rude to eavesdrop.”

She jutted her chin forward. “It’s also rude to ignore people who need help.”

“I don’t know if you’re saying that to make me feel bad about before, or if it’s just to make sure I stay here and help you,” Brixton muttered. “Do you care to tell me which?”

“I have an extra pair of gloves if you need them,” Adelaide offered.

He rolled his eyes as she sidestepped his question. “I don’t use them if I can help it.” He called up the power that resided inside of him. He could feel it flowing from his heart down to his fingertips, filling his palm. “I like working with my hands better. It’s easier to conjure up my talent. That’s my magic, as you might have known already. I can build things. Anything, really.”

“Well, no wonder you’re so good at this.” Adelaide pouted as Brixton undid her work. “You’re using magic.”

“And you don’t? Why are you in school to be an engineering wielder if you’re not using magic?”

“I like working with machinery,” Adelaide said. “I’m here because Rembrandt produces the best engineers in London. The fact that it’s a magical school does nothing for me.”

“Do you even have magic at all? I thought that was a requirement for coming here.”

“It is.” Adelaide went silent, and for the first time, Brixton saw her blush. With the small patch of red on her cheeks, he could just make out a light trail of freckles across her nose.

“Ouch.” He flinched as the suturing iron slipped across his fingers.

“Pay attention to what you’re doing. You don’t have to worry about my talent right now. All you need to know is that it’s not helping me fix this.” She crossed her arms and looked away.

“Right.” Brixton turned back to the item in front of him.

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REVIEW

One Flew Through The Dragon Heart is the first book in the Favan & Flew series, set in a Steampunk alternate reality in London, one that filled with magicians and humans living together but with their own prejudices, perhaps fear towards those with magic and different from them. The setting itself is very good and able to really bring out this powerful setting especially for a starting point for both the characters, especially when the chapters change focal points between the two main characters, Adelaide Favan and Brixton Flew and follows them from how the met and their story, slowly revealing their present state and the deeper story that links the mysteries behind Adelaide’s magic and Brixton’s capability. Its interesting especially to see that the magic in this universe change in context for each magician as they each have their own skillset and not everyone is all powerful with powers to control everything, except perhaps when they get the Dragon Eyes which is the main “treasure” in this story. As a starting point, the stage is set very well with a good amount of foundation and a great amount for setting and back story for each of the characters, giving them enough substance to find them intriguing to read about.

Aside from that, I’m always a big fan of anyone who tries to pull some Chinese legends into their story, especially mixing Eastern with Western because it can create a nice contrast and back story. Dragons are a traditional symbol in the East, especially in Asian and because of that its a great spot to start especially giving a basis for what curses Adelaide and her family. It gives us a nice background of the families involved as well. At the same time, there is a sense of mystery and heist situation which works very well here. Its keeps the pacing fun and entertaining to read. Its a mystery and always layers to learn more about what else will happen next and the secrets involved. The writing itself carries very well.

My biggest criticism is that the romance involved here between Adelaide and Brixton always feels a bit forced. I can’t say unnecessary because its the motive behind why a lot of their story unravels because of their love for each other and its this forbidden love sort of situation. Perhaps its the familiarity of this material and how it, at times, feels very redundant and the dialogue very clunky which makes it hard (for me) to get into. There are some lines that truly feel too rigid to be a part of this story and breaks the immersion of the bigger and more dire situation presented here. There is no doubt that the relationship between Adelaide and Brixton and breaking her curse is going to be a big part in the series but hopefully the dialogue and situation will be less repetitive as they have moved on from the reuniting phase in this book.

Overall, One Flew Through The Dragon Heart is a pretty decent book. Its adventurous and mysterious and packed with a good bit of suspense. The magic in each of the characters and how it is structured from the set up of the society is all done very well and pretty intriguing to learn in general. Its a good foundation. Other than the lackluster romance here, every other element works well and sets a good foundation for future books in the series.

Goodreads rating: 4/5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

C.S. JOHNSON

C. S. Johnson is the award-winning, genre-hopping author of several novels, including young adult sci-fi and fantasy adventures such as the Starlight Chronicles, the Once Upon a Princess saga, and the Divine Space Pirates trilogy. With a gift for sarcasm and an apologetic heart, she currently lives in Atlanta with her family. Find out more at http://www.csjohnson.me

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Blog Tour: Ginger Snapped by Chloe Sunstone (Excerpt & Giveaway)

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Ginger Snapped: A Cybercrime Thriller with a Shocking Twist
by: Chloe Sunstone

Ginger Snapped

Publication Date: October 22nd, 2018
Genre: Thriller

SYNOPSIS

How does an amazing professional opportunity descend into a living nightmare?

Carefree Ginger’s motto of “Work Hard, Play Harder” shapes her life. So when her husband, Jake, gets a job offer on the other side of the country, she is up for the adventure.

But after Jake accepts the promotion, nothing is as expected. While Ginger remains in Cleveland to sell their house, she is plagued by strange prank calls, premonition-like nightmares, and the feeling that she is being watched. Is Jake’s new job putting her in danger?

Unfortunately, she ignores her intuition and soon finds herself face to face with a ruthless killer. Trapped in a deadly world of corporate corruption and murderous greed, she must overcome her own fears and rely on her wits if she plans to survive.

Although the first in the Ginger Gibson series, this is a standalone book.

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EXCERPT

Oh No! I’m back. I am surrounded by inky black nothingness. The air is musty…damp, my nostrils fill with the smell of dank basement. Like in a haunted house, filled with saws and chains and bloody hooks, this is the perfect place for any psycho to hide his tools of the crazy trade. I’m trembling, from the all-encompassing fear, eating at every cell in my body. Where am I? My fingers search out for clues. Beneath me is a thin mattress on a hard surface. My head rests on a concrete-like pillow. My breathing escalates as the panic rises in my chest. I open my mouth to scream, but only a muted croak escapes. Over the thunder of my pounding heart, I hear a booming crack, a gunshot. I recognize the sound from a trip to the range with Jake years earlier.

I swing my legs over the side of my perch, thinking in my blind panic to run even though I cannot see. I can’t ignore this intense urge to flee. But my impulse is thwarted by an unknown restraint trapping my left arm, a rope? Panic has me in its grip. I gasp for air to fill my lungs but produce only whimpers and muted pleas.

A loud screech reverberates through the darkness. Rats? Oh, please, no rats! Could this get any worse? Hysterical, I yank relentlessly on the rope tethering me. With each tug, the line cuts deeper into my skin. My arm warms as blood seeps from the gouges, coating my hand and fingers. Behind me, the pounding sound of footsteps startles me. Before I can turn to confront my visitor, I feel the rush of air preceding the impact to the back of my head. A blaze of bright stars then, a different blackness envelopes me.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chloe Sunstone

After over twenty years in Human Resources, Chloe decided to make a change. She returned to her first love of writing. She combined her corporate experience with her love for the written word to create engaging cyber-crime thrillers.

On a personal note, Chloe lives in Cleveland, Ohio with her loving husband, Mike. They spend their free time boating, scuba diving, and of course, reading. Her latest cybercrime mystery, Ginger Snapped, is available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1732013608

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Blog Tour: To Dream the Blackbane by Richard J. O’Brien (Excerpt & Giveaway)

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To Dream the Blackbane
By: Richard J. O’Brien

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Publication Date: December 29th, 2018
Genre: Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

SYNOPSIS

A cosmic event in 2015 fused Earth with the faerie realm. Scientists referred to the event as The Anomaly. A byproduct of The Anomaly was the advent of hybrid beings—people who became mixed with whatever animal or object was closest to them the moment the event occurred. Humans, or pedigrees, soon relegated fairy refugees and hybrids into ghetto zones in large cities.

Seventy years later, Wolfgang Rex, a second-generation hybrid—part human, part Rhodesian Ridgeback—is a retired police detective who runs a private investigation business in Chicago’s Southside. It’s a one-hybrid show; though Rex couldn’t survive without his assistant, the faerie Sally Sandweb.

One night, two vampires visit Rex and offer him a substantial reward for the recovery of a stolen scroll. Later that same evening, Charlotte Sweeney-Jarhadill, a pedigree woman from Louisiana, visits Rex and hires him to exorcize the headless ghost of a Confederate soldier from her home.

To complicate matters, the private detective ends up falling for Charlotte. Meanwhile, the vampires demand results in the search for the missing scroll. When Rex’s assistant Sally goes missing, he must stay alive long enough to find her. Charlotte and the vampires, however, have other plans for Rex.

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EXCERPT

My name is Wolfgang Rex. I am a private detective. Once upon a time I’d been a police lieutenant. After twenty-five years of service to the city of Chicago, I retired in 2063 and opened up Chi-town Detectives, a private investigation firm.

I’m what they call in the medical books a second-generation Anomalous cross-breed. My father was a cop like me. One night he was out walking his dog, a Rhodesian Ridgeback named Rex. My mother hated that dog. After she died I learned that she had always wished that Rex would meet some unfortunate demise. She got her wish on the night of The Anomaly. My father came home from his walk without the dog—in a manner of speaking. For lack of a better term, he and the dog had fused. And the result was a humanoid—with a hairy body, a tail, and the head of his old dog Rex. My mother was horrified, but my parents were both Catholic. So they stuck it out. I was born in the tenth year of The Anomaly. When I was a kid, my mother used to read me fairy tales. She died before I finished high school. So it goes, like Kurt Vonnegut once wrote. I turned out to be the spitting image of my father post-Anomaly. I lucked out with being born without a tail. My father had somehow managed to keep his human vocal cords. My face was less hairy than his, but our snouts were nearly identical.

Learning to speak with a dog’s mouth was tricky when I was coming up, but I eventually got the hang of it. And thank Christ I’d been born with opposable thumbs; otherwise, I would’ve starved to death a long time ago. Still, given that many people melded with inanimate objects—much like that poor bastard who became a stone gargoyle—I constantly considered myself lucky. My father cursed his lot for the rest of his life. Some people, like my old man, never learned to adjust.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Richard J. O’Brien is a graduate of the Fairleigh Dickinson University MFA in Creative Writing Program. Richard’s novels include Under the Bronze Moon, Infestation, and The Garden of Fragile Things. His short stories have appeared in The Del Sol Review, Duende, Pulp Literature, The Dr. T.J. Eckleburg Review, Weirdbook, and other magazines. Richard lives in New Jersey, where he teaches at Rowan College at Gloucester County and Stockton University.

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Reads & Reels (Excerpt) http://www.readsandreels.com
Life at 17 (Review) https://lifeat17.wordpress.com/
Tranquil Dreams (Excerpt) https://klling.wordpress.com/
The Invisible Moth (Review) https://daleydowning.wordpress.com/

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On the Shelf Book Reviews (Excerpt) https://ontheshelfreviews.wordpress.com
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I Smell Sheep (Excerpt) http://www.ismellsheep.com/
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Anthony Avina (Excerpt) http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com
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