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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Book Review: The Epilogues: Part III: How to Rattle an Undead Couple (The Beginner’s Guide to Necromancy - Book 9) by Hailey Edwards

The Epilogues: Part III: How to Rattle an Undead Couple (The Beginner’s Guide to Necromancy - Book 9)
by Hailey Edwards
August 18, 2020
Pages: 196
Bring on the cakes, balloons, cakes, gifts, cakes, and…well…cakes. It’s time for Grier’s baby shower!

Grier is ready to smile for the cameras, rip open the presents, and finally taste that lemon chiffon cake, but it’s just not meant to be. The Grande Dame is MIA, which turns the big event into an even bigger search party. And that delicious cake? It’s going right back in the fridge.

While Grier doesn’t have the best relationship with her mother-in-law, she’s determined her child will grow up with one living grandparent or else. Even if it means wiggling into maternity jeans, putting on actual shoes, and waddling over to Lawson Manor to investigate the potential kidnapping.

Just as the investigation turns a corner, Grier pays the price for her stress. The baby wants out ahead of schedule, and it has a unique way of making its desires known. Unique and terrifying. Now the race is on to find the Grande Dame before the baby makes his or her first appearance.

What do you get when you cross a goddess-touched necromancer with an Eidolon?

Linus and Grier are about to find out firsthand. Now they just have to survive parenthood.

Grier and Linus were shocked, to say the least when they found out they were expecting but now that time draws near for Grier to give birth she is over the hormones, not being able to see her feet and pregnancy in general, and is ready to welcome he or her into their family. Due to her demands of being the Grande Dame’s daughter-in-law, she has to have two baby showers; one for the Grande Dame and the Society and one for her actual friends, but when the Grande Dame is a no show for the shower Grier and Linus know something is seriously wrong.

With all the stress and investigating the Grande Dame’s kidnapping, the baby has decided to show the world its desire to be born in the most unique and possibly frightening way possible. Grier has created the best family for herself with Linus, Lethe, and the Pack and all those who surround her with love, we would all be so lucky to have the support that she does.

My biggest hope is that this isn’t actually the end of the story because there were questions left unanswered not to mention a series with how the baby develops would be awesome!

Getting 5 sheep

Denise B
About the Author:
Hailey Edwards writes about questionable applications of otherwise perfectly good magic, the transformative power of love, the family you choose for yourself, and blowing stuff up. Not necessarily all at once. That could get messy. She lives in Alabama with her husband, their daughter, and a herd of dachshunds.

Excerpt: Purgatory's Shore (Artillerymen Book 1) by Taylor Anderson

Prepare to embark on a thrilling new military sci-fi adventure from New York Times bestselling author of the Destroyermen series, Taylor Anderson. Perfect for fans of David Weber, Jack Campbell, and S.M. Stirling, PURGATORY’S SHORE (Ace Hardcover; September 21, 2021) is the first installment of the Artillerymen series and takes place in the same world as Anderson’s acclaimed Destroyermen novels. The story follows a group of American soldiers who are on their way to fight in the Mexican-American War, only to be swept away to a strange and deadly alternate Earth.

by Taylor Anderson
Genre: Alternate history, war fiction
On their way to fight in the Mexican-American War, a group of American soldiers are swept away to a strange and deadly alternate Earth in this thrilling new adventure set in the world of the New York Times bestselling Destroyermen series.

The United States, 1847. A disparate group of young American soldiers are bound to join General Winfield Scott's campaign against Santa Anna at Veracruz during the Mexican-American War. They never arrive.

Or rather . . . they arrive somewhere else.

The untried, idealistic soldiers are mostly replacements, really; a handful of infantry, artillery, dragoons, and a few mounted riflemen with no unified command. And they've been shipwrecked on a terrible, different Earth full of monsters and unimaginable enemies.

Major Lewis Cayce, late of the 3rd US "Flying" Artillery, must unite these men to face their fears and myriad threats, armed with little more than flintlock muskets, a few pieces of artillery, and a worldview that spiritually and culturally rebels against virtually everything they encounter. It will take extraordinary leadership and a cadre of equally extraordinary men and women to mold frightened troops into an effective force, make friends with other peoples the evil Holy Dominion would eradicate, and reshape their "manifest destiny" into a cause they can all believe in and fight for.

For only together will they have any hope of survival.
Praise for Taylor Anderson and the Destroyermen series
"I cannot recommend [these books] too highly."--New York Times bestselling author David Weber

"Taylor Anderson . . . [has] steamed to the forefront of alternative history."--National bestselling author E. E. Knight

"Action sci-fi doesn't get significantly better than this."--Booklist


“Captain Cayce! Captain Cayce! Oh, please wake up! We need you rather badly!”

Lewis’s mind rejected what he was hearing. It sounded like the young dragoon lieutenant. Coryon Burton, wasn’t it? Of North Carolina. Class of ’46. But that’s impossible. I’m dead. We’re all dead, swallowed by the void.

“He’s alive,” came another impossible voice—Giles Anson’s. “And none of his arms or legs seem broken. Probably bumped his head. Maybe he fell on it? Without a surgeon, who knows what’s wrong with him if he won’t wake up.”

“I can’t wake up,” Lewis managed to protest through painful lips. “None of us can.”

“Aye, he’s comin’ around,” came a gruff, slightly Scottish voice. “You, Private Willis, pour some water on his face. He probably can’t even open his eyes with all that dried blood gluin’ ’em shut.”

“But Sergeant McNabb!” objected a harsh, squeaky voice, apparently Private Willis, “we ain’t found any fresh water yet, an’ all I got’s in my canteen!”

“Do as ye’re told, damn ye! There’s plenty o’ water in the ship—if we can get to it before all the started butts leak it out.”

Lewis sensed movement beside him and a sudden coolness on his face. Gentle fingers massaged his eyes and he cracked one open. The sky was bright pink until he blinked several times to clear the blood. It looked perfectly ordinary then; bright blue with the sun creeping into view overhead. But that was the only thing right. The deck below him didn’t move because it wasn’t a deck and the sun was beginning to glare through tall, straight trees, many of which had their branches savagely ripped from the near side of their trunks. Colorful birds—Lewis assumed they were birds, though they were shaped very strangely—flitted through the trees, cawing raucously. Those of different species didn’t seem to get along very well, and there was constant skirmishing. That didn’t matter. Realistically, the only birds Lewis should’ve seen were gulls.

Giles Anson leaned into Lewis’s view, festooned with all the weapons he generally carried in the field. A pair of Colt Paterson revolvers were in belt holsters at his side, and a Model 1838 flintlock pistol was thrust into his belt. An 1817 flintlock rifle, a fine, .54 caliber weapon like Lieutenant Swain’s Mounted Rifles carried, was slung over one shoulder and a pair of tooled, privately made pommel holsters were draped over the other. Knowing the Ranger as he did, Lewis wasn’t surprised the man had immediately collected his weapons. Anson nodded with apparent relief and produced a genuine smile. “See there, Lewis? You can wake up.” A more customary ironic smile replaced the first one. “Might wish you hadn’t, though.”

Lewis groaned and picked clumps of dried blood from his eyelashes, still knitting the other eye closed, while a man behind helped raise him to a sitting position. He’d expected to find himself sitting on sand for some reason, but realized he was on a bed of dry, ferny-looking leaves with spines as rigid as pine needles. That didn’t make any sense. “I thought I was dead,” he confessed hoarsely, “but even in hell, I doubt I’d hurt this much.” His other eye clear, he gently probed his scalp under blood-matted hair. “And either I didn’t feel what hit me when we were wrecked—I assume we were wrecked?—or I did fall on my head.” He looked up at Anson and Burton. “But not in the water?”

“Give him a drink, ye fool,” came Sergeant McNabb’s voice. Lewis looked at him and beheld a virtual stereotype of his breed. Tough, craggy-faced, probably in his forties, McNabb wasn’t particularly imposing, but his rank in the regular foot artillery meant he’d been in long enough to develop sufficient skill, personality, and experience to deal with much larger men. Private Willis, also one of Lieutenant Olayne’s 1st Artillerymen, looked like he sounded: a short, wiry youngster, wearing a put-upon expression in addition to all his gear. Beyond them, and a cluster of other armed men (1816 muskets, bayonets, and short swords for the artillerymen, .54 caliber 1817s for the Rifles, and .52 caliber breechloading Hall carbines hanging from white leather straps and iron clips on the dragoons), stood a densely wooded forest of tall, straight-trunked trees. Lewis blinked. Private Willis handed over a gray, stamped-steel canteen.

Lewis took a small sip and nodded his thanks. “I have a glaringly obvious question, I suppose,” he managed with a firmer voice.

“Think you can stand?” Anson asked.

“I must.”

Anson and Lieutenant Burton grasped his arms and hauled him to his feet. His legs supported him, but a wave of painful vertigo left him swaying for a moment before the dizziness, at least, began to pass. Gently, the men still holding his arms guided him around to look behind. “My God,” Lewis Cayce muttered.

He’d assumed the men had carried him inshore from whatever coast they’d struck, but the wreck of Mary Riggs was in this strange forest as well, far from any sound of the sea. Dizziness threatened to take him again as Lewis contemplated the impossibility of that.

Anson knew what he was thinking. “Do you remember falling? All the rest of us do, an’ apparently the ship fell with us.” He gestured at the stripped branches on trees, extending fifteen or twenty feet up. Somehow, that felt about right. Anson pointed back at Mary Riggs. “That”—he hesitated—“peculiar storm must’ve carried us inland on a wave surge of some kind, leavin’ the ship—us—here as it receded.”

About the Author
Taylor Anderson is the New York Times bestselling author of the Destroyermen novels. A gunmaker and forensic ballistic archaeologist, Taylor has been a technical and dialogue consultant for movies and documentaries and is an award-winning member of the National Historical Honor Society and of the United States Field Artillery Association.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Excerpt: A Song of Flight (Warrior Bards Book 3) by Juliet Marillier

An immersive, lush historical fantasy series, Juliet Marillier’s Warrior Bards novels feature a captivating blend of high stakes action and Irish folklore. This latest series installment, A SONG OF FLIGHT (Ace Trade Paperback Original; $17.00; On-sale September 21, 2021), follows warrior bard Liobhan as she uses both the power of her music and the strength of her sword to take on a new grave threat.

A Song of Flight (Warrior Bards Book 3)
by Juliet Marillier
September 21, 2021
Genre: historical fantasy
Publisher: ACE
A young warrior who wields both the power of her music and the strength of her sword faces a grave threat in this enthralling historical fantasy.

Bard and fighter Liobhan is always ready for a challenge. So when news arrives at Swan Island that the prince of Dalriada has gone missing after an assault by both masked men and the sinister Crow Folk, she's eager to act.

While Liobhan and her fellow Swan Island warriors seek answers to the prince's disappearance, the bard Brocc, Liobhan's brother, finds himself in dire trouble. His attempts to communicate with the Crow Folk have led him down a perilous path. When Liobhan and her comrades are sent to the rescue, it becomes clear the two missions are connected--and a great mystery unfolds.

What brought the Crow Folk to Erin? And who seeks to use them in an unscrupulous bid for power? As Liobhan and Brocc investigate, it will take all their strength and will to continue pursuing the truth. With the safety of their loved ones in the balance, the risks they must take may cost them everything.

Praise for The Warrior Bards novels
“This big-hearted novel completely transported me to the wonder and enchantment of ancient Ireland—and its resonance lingered long after the final page.”—Callie Bates, author of The Waking Land

“Breathtaking, often heartbreaking. . . . This lush fantasy is sure to win Marillier many new fans.”

—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Lush worldbuilding and well-rounded characters.”—Library Journal

Chapter 1: Aolu
I want to talk to the druid. Brother Oisín is an old man, but age hasn't slowed him much. He walks long distances and doesn't always keep to the roads. He is solitary by choice, loving wild places, praying alone, meeting with other folk from time to time to offer teaching or advice or help. At such meetings, if one is lucky, Oisín will tell tales of long ago, stories of wonder and terror, of joy and heartbreak. His tales are magical. They challenge the mind and refresh the spirit.

We are fortunate. Every spring, the druid spends time at Winterfalls, in a hut deep in the forest, not far from my holding. I have offered him one of the cottages that lie within my outer wall-we generally keep one available for visitors-but he prefers to be out in the woods, where birds and creatures and the ever-changing trees are all the companions he needs. My household provides him with supplies, and every so often he walks down to visit us, for he knows I am fond of poetry, philosophy, and the like.

This spring there has been no sign of him. No word. As time passes my concern grows. So, on a particularly fine day, I suggest to Galen that we should ride out as far as the druid's hut to discover if Oisín has been there.

Galen reacts in keeping with his official role as my bodyguard. "What about the Crow Folk?" he asks. "You know they've been spotted in that part of the forest."

"All the more reason to check if all's well with him."

"You could send Baodán with some guards. No need to risk your own safety."

Baodán is my master-at-arms. We both know he won't relish being given such a job. Everyone fears the Crow Folk with their random attacks, their wildness. For a long while this area was free of them, but of recent times they have appeared in our northern forests, and we must be careful. "No need for Baodán's men to risk themselves simply because the prince happens to care about a druid's welfare," I reply, catching the hint of a smile on Galen's face. He's been my companion and dearest friend since we were twelve years old, and we know each other very well. "Just you and me, a leisurely ride, a stop for refreshments somewhere. The weather's beautiful. Come on, Galen. I'll teach you a song on the way."

He lifts his brows, twists his mouth into a grimace. My friend lacks the remarkable musical talent of his siblings, though he can, in fact, hold a tune passably well.

"What if I promise to turn back if the Crow Folk appear particularly menacing?" I ask. "Not that they will, my friend. You're fearsome enough to frighten away dragons." Galen's a very tall man, strongly built, with a shaven head and a luxuriant, fiery red beard. He doesn't simply guard me. Over the years he's made sure I can defend myself, handle a horse capably, and generally get myself out of trouble. If not for him, I'd have spent most of my time in my library reading old tales and writing poetry, and I'd be far more of a weakling than any prince should be. One day I'll be king of Dalriada. A king must be a man of many parts, even if his bent is more toward scholarship than action.

"All right," Galen says, grinning. "But keep to your word. If I say we should turn back, we turn back."

The day is indeed warm. When we’ve covered a fair distance, we stop in a clearing among birches to let our horses rest awhile and drink from a stream. No Crow Folk here; they’ll be in the upper reaches of the forest, and we have not yet climbed far. It’s good to be alone, just the two of us without the bustle of a royal household around us. I have a council tomorrow with the local landholders, at which I must listen to their grievances and arbitrate in any disagreements. I suppose it is good practice for the time when I become king, though I fervently hope my father has many long years of healthy life ahead of him. I love the quiet of Winterfalls; I love being my own master, with my own household where we lack the formalities and protocols of court. But I love still more the times when Galen and I can get away on our own.

We eat a little of the food we brought with us, then pack up the rest for later. If Oisín is indeed at the hut, he may appreciate a share. We sit on the rocks in the sun, and I teach Galen a song about a man who got three wishes from a clurichaun and squandered them all on silly things. The moral of the story being, when dealing with uncanny folk, think before you speak. There's a chorus all made up of nonsense words, a tongue twister, and we're in fits of laughter trying to sing this when Galen goes suddenly still.

"Wha-" is all I have time for. He's on his feet, drawing his weapon. Men are moving in from under the trees, men with cloths tied over their faces and weapons in their hands.

"Run!" shouts Galen. I obey, sprinting across the clearing, diving into the cover of the forest. We've rehearsed this kind of thing over and over. He's drummed it into me that I must obey him instantly, no questions asked. Shouting breaks out behind me, the clash of metal, the thud of blows, and a scream. Something huge and shadowy flies over my head. Crow Folk. They're here, too. Galen. Oh, Galen. My heart pounding in fright, I risk one look back.

He's surrounded, slashing, kicking, getting his shoulder in, woefully outnumbered. And as I stare, my heart doing a wild dance in my chest, two Crow Folk join the melee, diving, pecking. It's a bloody maelstrom in which I cannot tell attacker from victim, bird from human. Blinded by tears, I slip my talisman from my neck and drop it on the forest floor. "Be safe, dear heart," I whisper, and take to my heels. I cannot save him. I can only do as I know he would wish, and try to save myself. I run, I run, dodging trees and bushes, slipping in mud, stumbling over rocks and fallen branches. When my breath is almost gone, when my head starts to spin, someone-something-is beside me, a presence felt rather than seen. Something touches my arm, but when I look, there is only shadow. My breath fails. I fall. Down, down, too far down. I land with a jolt. Pain spears through my ankle, then all is dark.

About the Author:
Juliet Marillier is a member of the druid order OBOD and is the author of the Blackthorn & Grim novels and the Sevenwaters series. Her historical fantasy novels and short stories are published internationally and have won a number of awards. Juliet Marillier is available for interviews.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Science Fiction Pre-order: The Awakening of Artemis by John Calia

There’s a new book coming out this month and if you enjoy science or speculative fiction, you’re going to love it! Check out The Awakening of Artemis by John Calia!

The Awakening of Artemis
by John Calia
September 29th, 2021
Genre: Science Fiction/ Speculative Fiction
Orphaned by war and disillusioned about her life, Diana Gutierrez-Adams is on a routine military assignment when she and her team are kidnapped by a domestic militia. She learns from her captors that her cryogenically-frozen grandfather is at the center of a high-stakes plan to steal technology that will change the world for greed and great fortune.

Challenged by the conspiracy and pulled by emotions she doesn’t fully understand, Diana’s rescue mission will change her life. What happens to her is unexpected, perhaps miraculous – an adventure that embraces all her hopes for finding her true self and her place in a world dominated by powerful elites and even more powerful artificial intelligence.

Add to Goodreads
Pre-Order on Amazon

Diana knew that everyone who lived in the pods as well as anyone officially connected to the government had an embedded chip that enabled monitoring technology to identify where every individual was at any time. The chips also measured the secretion of enzymes and hormones. Algorithms had been developed to predict everyone’s wants and needs based upon those secretions. Over time, the algorithms learned from human response and adjusted their predictions accordingly – without human intervention.

About the Author

A Brooklyn-born, second generation American and the eldest of three boys, writing is his third career and the one about which he is most passionate. Following graduation from the US Naval Academy and active duty in the Navy, he embarked on a career in business. He began writing his blog “Who Will Lead?” in 2010 attracting over 115,000 readers. It inspired him to write his first book, an Amazon five-star rated business fable titled “The Reluctant CEO.” Currently he makes his home in Fairport, NY, a village on the Erie Canal.

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@johncalia @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTour #ScifiBooks

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Saturday, September 18, 2021

Book Review: The Epilogues: Part II: How to Survive an Undead Honeymoon (The Beginner’s Guide to Necromancy - Book 8) by Hailey Edwards

The Epilogues: Part II: How to Survive an Undead Honeymoon (The Beginner’s Guide to Necromancy - Book 8)
by Hailey Edwards
March 20, 2020
Pages: 144
The Epilogues: Part II

Nothing says romance like spending a long weekend at a haunted inn famed for sending its guests to the ER with scratches, bites, and fractures. Or so Linus thinks when he books a trip for Grier and himself to Oliphant House. As far as honeymoons go, the choice is nontraditional, but then, so is his bride.

Haunted history is one of Grier’s great loves, and she’s thrilled to discover Linus has given her a mystery to solve. Forget walks on moonlit beaches and sipping fruity drinks, Grier would much rather unravel the curse that’s plagued the Oliphant family for generations than pick sand from between her toes.

The resident spooks, however, aren’t happy with the newlyweds sticking their noses where they don’t belong. Between the missing persons, the dead bodies, and the secrets lurking in the basement, Linus and Grier start to wonder if they’ll survive their honeymoon.

Grier is no ordinary woman and Linus her new husband wants to pick the perfect place for their honeymoon even if it is somewhat unconventional to most people. What says I love you forever more than a haunted inn where the hauntings only happen once every 30 years? Grier is ecstatic when she finds out their destination is a mystery she hopes to solve.

Grier and Linus’s relationship has been one for the history book’s and the way Edwards has written this series is outstanding. Her books are easy to read, filled with characters you love and a few you hate but one thing that stands out is that even though there’s magic the characters are relatable which makes it a series you don’t want to miss.

Getting 5 sheep

Denise B
About the Author:
Hailey Edwards writes about questionable applications of otherwise perfectly good magic, the transformative power of love, the family you choose for yourself, and blowing stuff up. Not necessarily all at once. That could get messy. She lives in Alabama with her husband, their daughter, and a herd of dachshunds.