Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Life, Liberty, Pursuant To by Piken Sander



Sanapia Jones and Marcus Brand have it all. Their crazed stalker is finally in custody. They have a lovely home, wonderful friends, amazing careers, and, most importantly, each other. That is, until the unthinkable happens and a devastated Sana must pick up the pieces of her heart and carry on for the sake of her son. Two years pass and Sana is ready to take her new relationship to the next level when a fire at the studio interrupts her plans. What happens next will change all their lives in ways they couldn't imagine.




Author Bio:

Piken Sander lives among sprawling oak and aspen in Northern California to where she escaped from colder climes many years hence. Her randy Auntie asked her to ‘tell her a story’, demanding that there be strong women and steamy passion, and this began the writings of Piken as she crafted stories of girl meets boy, girl and boy go through the torture of life and beyond, with at the very least hopeful endings. When her Auntie passed, she left her niece a one sentence note in her will: “Now publish the damn things.” Piken’s day consists of writing and social media, and such difficult decisions as which of her dizzying array of wildly colorful pajamas she should wear on a given day. She loves a perfectly steeped cup of good tea. She has few she calls friends, but those in this cadre are cherished and fostered. A political liberal since preteens, she tolerates no racism or bigotry or inequality of any kind, especially in her stories.




Foundations, LLC 


Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Dragonhome by Rick A. Mullins




A unique sci-fi action book, that follows the adventures of a group of humans after they are unexpectedly transported to another world, where dragons are the dominant beings.

I was captivated by the detailed storyline and fantastic world building.
It was a clean and fun read, that left me wanting more.











Synopsis:

Gordon Barrow is traveling a crowded highway when lightning strikes an overpass and opens a portal to another world. Traveling at highway speeds, dozens of trucks, buses, and cars pass through the portal and find themselves stranded on an alien world when the portal disappears.

Resolved to spending the rest of their lives on this alternate Earth, the involuntary colonists meet and befriend the natives, then discover that their adopted world goes through a population surge every decade until starvation and massive die-offs allow the land to recover for another decade.

Just when they’ve figured out how to survive on their new world they discover that they are infected with the same parasites that have extended the lives of every living thing on Dragonhome, the very thing that causes the cyclic population explosions.

Now they have found a way home using the same worldhole crystals that brought them to Dragonhome. But if they return they will bring their immortality infection with them, and with it introduce the same cyclic population explosions that decimates Dragonhome every ten years.



The Author:

I started writing immediately after reading my older brother's copy of "The Hobbit" at the age of twelve. After high school I served four years in the Air Force as a nuclear weapons technician, followed by a year in college at Ohio University then two years of working travel before serving four years in the Navy where I was the assistant fire marshal on the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Midway. After the Navy I spent another two years of working travel before returning to my home in Ohio and settling down as a factory drone and writing in my spare time.

I self-published (print on demand through Authorhouse) four science fiction novels between 1999 and 2001 before beginning my DreamQuest series, novels based on, and adapted from my actual dreams. With eight novels finished I have started putting them online through Kindle Books and my website DreamQuestBooks.com

My first e-books with Kindle include "Dragonhome" and "Magi" in the Worldhole series of parallel universes. The two standalone novels are "Circle of Magic" and the steampunk adventure "Godstone Mage". Upcoming books include "Floatstone Pirate" and "Crystalline Dreams" in the Worldhole series and the standalone novels "Mustang Riders" and "Troubadour".

The Millionaire’s Convenient Arrangement by Jane Peden


Jane Peden returns with an all new Miami Lawyers novel releasing November 29, 2016. Maria is raising her 13-year old brother Joey alone, and it’s clear he’s headed for trouble. But what happens when the only man who can save Joey is the same man Maria holds responsible for destroying her family? Find out in this steamy must read Fall title which fans of Jackie Braun's Revenge Best Served Hot will love.


Title: The Millionaire’s Convenient Arrangement
Author: Jane Peden
Publisher: Mr. Media
Release Date: November 29, 2016
Series: Miami Lawyers #2
Genre: Contemporary Series Romance
ISBN: 978-1-53762-788-5


Her worst enemy is the one man she can’t resist.

Maria Martinez thought it was a dream come true when Ritchie Perez—a sweet and sexy guy she met volunteering at a soup kitchen—took her delinquent little brother Joey under his wing. But her dream becomes a nightmare when she discovers Ritchie is the same man who put her twin brother Tito in prison for 10 years. Now Joey’s in trouble, and Ritchie’s been appointed his temporary guardian. He’ll be moving into Ritchie’s luxurious waterfront Miami home—unless he’d prefer a juvenile detention facility.

And if Maria wants to be with him, she’ll be moving in too.

Now a hugely successful attorney in private practice, Ritchie made his reputation as a tough prosecutor who didn’t make deals with drug dealers and gang members. But that history comes back to haunt him when the woman he’s falling for believes he’s responsible for convicting an innocent man, and destroying her family. Ritchie wants to stop Joey from making the same mistakes his brother did. And he wants Maria in his bed. But as desire heats their blood, will the past reach out and destroy their future?



Add to your TBR List on Goodreads


Excerpt:

They were sitting at an outside café on the waterfront. Joey seemed to have rebounded quickly and managed to eat two burgers and a massive quantity of cheese fries. As soon as he finished, Maria had given him some money to go down the street and get ice cream so she could talk things over with Ritchie.
The second he was gone, she started, apparently realizing she needed to shift tactics and take a softer approach. Ritchie wondered how long it would take until that temper of hers took over again.
“Listen, I don’t want you to think I don’t appreciate what you did for Joey – for both of us – this afternoon. But I can tell how much this has shaken Joey up. He’s not going to be a problem from here on.” She took a measured breath and continued.
“So, as much as I appreciate your offer to have Joey move in with you for six months, it’s really not necessary. We couldn’t disrupt your life that way.”
She smiled at him, and he knew it must have cost her. Humble was not her style.
“It doesn’t work that way, Maria,” he said, and watched the smile fade from her pretty face.
“I don’t know what you mean,” she said.
“I mean, when you ask me to drop everything and run over to the courthouse and get Joey out of trouble, I’m happy to do that. And I was happy to take on responsibility for watching over him because that was what it took to keep the Judge from removing him and conducting a home study and dumping that kid into a system that’s going to hurt him more than it would ever help him. But when I make a commitment to help, I’m all in. Don’t expect me to put a temporary fix on this legal problem then step back and just wait for you to call me when the next crisis happens.”
He leaned forward. “Because the way things are headed, there will be a next crisis. And it won’t be as easy to make a deal with the prosecutor and the court next time.”
“I think you’re overstating it. This was a wake-up call for Joey. He’ll stay out of trouble from now on,” she said.
“Why not make it easier for him to do that? I like you, Maria. And I like Joey. He’s a good kid, and I want to help. But I don’t have time to run back and forth between your apartment and his school checking up on him.”
“I’m not asking you to do that.”
“That apartment isn’t big enough, and you know it. That’s why the best solution is for him to move into my house, where he has his own room. I can make sure he’s home when he’s supposed to be, he’s in the right school, and he’s doing the right kind of activities. You know he’s interested in sports. I can get him in some great programs after school and on weekends. No more hanging out with his friends from the old neighborhood, and no more sitting around an empty apartment thinking up ways to get in trouble while you’re at work.”
“So you’ll help him but only if it’s your way.” Her jaw was set stubbornly, and she narrowed her eyes, still holding onto her temper but clearly by a thin thread.
“That’s right. If you want me to help him, you have to give me a chance to do it my way.”
“And if I say no?”
“Then you might as well make a reservation for him to move into a cell with your brother Tito.”
Her face paled. “You knew,” she said, her voice a whisper. “You spent time with us, with Joey, you took me out on a date, you knew I was attracted to you. You kissed me,” she said, and a bit of the color came back into her face. “You must have realized that if I knew who you were, I’d hate you.”





















The Author:

Jane Peden is a Florida trial attorney who writes sexy contemporary category romances set in the exciting South Florida city of Miami, where millionaire lawyers live extravagant lifestyles and find love when they least expect it. When Jane isn’t in court, you can find her at the beach with her laptop, dreaming up stories about successful, confident men who know what they want and how to get it, and smart, sexy women who demand love on their own terms. Jane’s books promise sizzling chemistry in the face of insurmountable obstacles. And just when things couldn’t get any worse, an emotional payoff that makes it all worthwhile.

Jane grew up in the mountains of western Pennsylvania, but decided early on that the only thing better than escaping the cold for a two-week vacation at the beach was to live there all year around, so she traded her snow boots for a jet ski and has never looked back. Jane lives on the sunny Gulf Coast of Florida with her husband, two kids, two dogs, and a fish.



Jane Peden is offering some wonderful prize to two (2) lucky winners during our virtual tour event. One (1) lucky winner will win Beach Tote Bag Prize Pack filled with a drink tumbler, note book with pen, sun glasses, salt water taffy, towel, and shells! And a second winner will receive a Kindle Fire! To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below:







Monday, 28 November 2016

Zombie Zero by J.K. Norry



Zombie Zero: The First Zombie

This isn't just another zombie book, it's so much more, as Mother Earth retaliates, once again, to the treatment dealt to her by the human race with a constant cycle of apocalyptic events that wipes out the majority of humans.

The main zombies are intelligent and have character. They're not the 'shuffling brain-eaters' that we are accustomed to.

I enjoyed reading Zombie Zero: The First Zombie which deals with the downfall of humanity, and went straight on to read Zombie Zero: The Last Zombie

A fun bonus for me in this book is that the author has used a number of real people from the indie community as characters, and as a reader of indie books I enjoyed coming across names I recognise.


Synopsis:

The winds of change reek of rotting flesh…

When Mother Nature calls, everyone must stop to listen. Humanity has finally gone too far, and incurred the wrath of the planet itself. Ramblers roam the earth, hungry and mindless, looking to eat or be eaten. Howlers hunt the humans, their superior strength becoming overwhelming odds as the zombie apocalypse spreads to every nation.
Will Mother Nature have mercy in the end?
Or will everyone fall at the hands of The First Zombie?






Zombie Zero: The Last Zombie

I enjoyed reading Zombie Zero: The First Zombie which deals with the downfall of humanity, and went straight on to read Zombie Zero: The Last Zombie

This book continues the story and follows distinct groups of humans and their different ways to survive, repopulate and deal with the last remaining zombies... as well as other humans.

Will humanity get it right this time or will history repeat itself again?

This pair of books are enjoyable and thoughtfully written.







Synopsis:

The smell of hope is burning flesh…

The howlers are eating each other. What is left of humanity has a chance to breathe at last. Each group that forms has to consider how they will begin anew. They must come together on how to take care of the remaining monsters, grow food, teach kids, and deal with their dead…or fall apart in the pitted wasteland left to them by the zombie apocalypse.
Can humanity get it right this time?
Or will the last human become The Last Zombie?



The Author:

J.K. Norry is the author of the 'Zombie Zero' books, a horror series that takes place worldwide; 'Walking Between Worlds', a fantasy trilogy set in San Francisco; and 'Stumbling Backasswards into the Light' (as Jay Norry), a spiritual autobiographical novel set in the mountains of the Puget Sound. He is the owner Sudden Insight Publishing, which he founded in 2014 as a venue to publish his books.

Jay currently resides in Northern California with three of his favorite angels. When he's not busy writing, Jay enjoys wine tasting, gardening, drawing & painting, and fixing things around the house MacGyver-style.



For free Zombie Zero bonus stories join J.K. Norry's 
Secret Society of Deeper Meaning

Dystortions: 100 Hues of Purple by Lisa Pell



Title: Dystortions: 100 Hues of Purple
Author: Lisa Pell
Genre: Scifi / Mystery


Dystortions: 100 Hues of Purple is a tale of mystery, murder, and love in a parallel universe, with a bit of humor. Addy O'Malibul is a former journalist who is convicted of murder and imprisoned on a planet called Malaprop, strikingly similar to Earth, but with a few twists and many Dystortions in translations of data transmissions from a planet known as Hearth. Glitched up radio communications are bombarding Malaprop - a world where fearful national security analysts, politicians, and P.R. flacks re-write history and distort facts to recreate their reality in Hearth's image. The Dystortions in those radio communications sometimes appear to twist words backwards and create opposite meanings, but maybe also reveal underlying truths.

There's just enough good science and wacked-out myth-busting to make the story hauntingly credible - and enough saucy romance to keep things hot. It's much warmer and more colorful than any shades of grey.



Excerpt #1:

The attraction was instant; the chemistry ignited for a long, burning passion – the kind that only grows stronger and solidifies over time.
Amethyst Adele McCrory and Sean Michael O’Malibul had been next-door neighbors for two years, so close their townhouses adjoined, as if some magical force had divinely ordained their proximity to one another. But fortunately the two never met, until they were ready to rendezvous.
Mr. O’Malibul was recovering from a bitter divorce, and Miss McCrory was working long hours as a mid-level executive trying to make it in the government contracting industry, which could be a wickedly demanding business in their world and across the universe. She didn’t think she had time to pay attention to a neighbor she never had seen, one being visited regularly by attractive young women who strutted up his steps, primping themselves as if preparing for a casting couch audition.
He’s taken, or just has too many women in his life. I’m probably too old for him.
Amethyst Adele’s head was about as hard as the rock for which she was named when it came to attracting men who might be marriage material.
But to folks who knew her, that part of her name seemed to contradict the warmer, softer side of her personality usually on display. The jagged edges of her soul were rarely exposed. The young Miss McCrory usually introduced herself as “Adele,” preferring the seemingly more sophisticated elocution of her middle name, especially when she was trying to impress someone. Her mother, an astrology-loving language teacher and aficionado of classic romance novels, had selected Adele to complement the more new age Amethyst because she thought it sounded classy.
Names could bestow power on a person or strike a blow from which one might never recover. Adele McCrory felt she needed to move beyond Amethyst. Amethyst was her birthstone (whatever that might mean, along with being an Aquarian in zodiac-speak) and she loved its purple-ness. Her dad, after a few beers, used to tell her she was a tough but colorful gem. But Amethyst was too hard to pronounce.
Especially after a few beers.




The Author:

An award-winning former newspaper, radio, and television journalist, Pell has spent most of her career in the communications business. Her critically acclaimed first novel, Who’s Your Daddy, Baby? (Aberdeen Bay, 2012), was selected for a Virginia Federation of Press Women award. Born in North Carolina, Pell was raised in Virginia, is a graduate of George Mason University, and attended Harvard Business School. She has strong roots in the Appalachian mountains of Virginia, and has lived in Tennessee and West Virginia, where she covered news stories in Kentucky and southern Ohio. Connoisseurs of well-told stories, rock ‘n’ roll music, impressionist art, golf, tennis, oysters, and fun people, Pell and her husband, the self-styled Agent Provocateur, JonRe Pell, live in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.




Excerpt #2:

There’s nothing like the sound of a cold hard jail cell door thundering shut behind you.
The now 43-year-old Addy O’Malibul had been there before, but time after time had refused to ever listen. This time she heard it like a large-toothed dull-bladed power saw ripping through her brain, shredding every self-delusion that had fed her inadequate ego since childhood, well, except for those first few months of marriage to Sean. The pieces never could be re-assembled in quite the same manner again. There always would be something missing, a connection never made in quite the way it should. Not even memories or dreams of her dear sweet Sean could assuage her anger at the world right now. The jagged edge of her personality was beginning to take hold.
Stripped bare of all pretense of self-confidence, and eviscerated of the last vestiges of what she – until this troubling chapter of her life began – thought was once a good-hearted soul, now she knew. The message was stunningly clear. Her life was a completely worthless, stupid, embarrassing waste – a disgrace to all her family and friends.
Or, at least, so she thought.
And why not think the thoughts of so many others who had been down this path before? At this point, walking into the confines of a prison cellblock the likes of which she now imagined she never would leave, at least not as a free person, she did not think a little self-deprecatory reflection on this catastrophic turn of events was too melodramatic. At this point, she was lower than low, a menace to society.
But, in Addy’s current state of mind, nothing she knew was ever right.
As the television dowager in her mind seemed to be scolding her, she was just middle class enough to be defeatist.
The judge had been a pleasant, fair-minded sort, someone who had helped her before. And the diligent jury of dutiful citizens methodically, painstakingly sorting through the alleged facts on their mission of perceived justice was convinced beyond a reasonable doubt. They had to find her guilty. They had to inflict the ultimate punishment. That is what they thought the law forced them to do. The law was clear. And the law, as written by the wisest in the land, under the divine guidance of God, could not be wrong.
That was the cold, hard reality.
Nothing could beat the evidence presented. It was seemingly overwhelming. Everything the jury had learned about the facts of the case pointed to the unmistakable verdict of Addy’s guilt. There were no glitches in this case. A 38-caliber recently fired revolver had been found planted beneath the rose-colored rhododendron bush in the backyard of the O’Malibul’s suburban townhouse, the one Addy owned before meeting Sean. The ballistics matched. Her fingerprints were on it. The motive was clear. Addy admittedly was in the neighborhood when the deed was done. She had no alibi. She had shown no remorse. Worst of all, she had expressed a disturbing glee upon being told of the victim’s death during police questioning.
All the circumstances and evidence pointed to Addy, and to murder in the first-degree – capital murder.




Saturday, 26 November 2016

Interview with Simon Chun Kwan Chui.


My guest today is the author of  Book of the Wonders of the Galaxy, and armchair philosopher, Simon Chun Kwan Chui.

Hi Simon, Welcome to Just Books.
Would you like to start by telling us a little about yourself and your background?
Ever since I was little, I have disliked specialising or being pigeonholed, preferring instead to learn widely, drawn to new knowledge and different experiences. My parents and teachers told me to specialise, to pick a subject and hone it into a profession, but when I read my history books, I was most drawn to examples like Leonardo da Vinci, polymaths who studied many things.
I studied architecture up to a completed Ph.D to give myself the opportunity to explore the intersection between places, people, technology, society and art. Where many of my classmates aspired to be architects, I used my education as an excuse to learn as many things as I could. But my parents and teachers were right, of course, in that I would have been easier to employ had I specialised into a profession - what to do with someone who refuses to fit into a niche?
So, now, I have decided to write, to share with readers my perspective of a world where everything is interrelated and interconnected, a world that makes more sense if we learn widely so we can see how the pieces fit into the whole.


So, when did you realise you wanted to be a writer...?
Embarrassingly, I only realised I wanted to be a writer just before I started writing Book of the Wonders of the Galaxy, a little over a year ago. I’ve always liked reading and writing from when I was very young, and found it the most effective way for me to learn and to express my ideas. Much of the PhD was reading and writing, and that went smoothly for me. But in all those years, I hadn’t really thought to try writing actual books. It seems implausible that it took me so long to figure out I should just do what I’m most comfortable with, but I guess that’s the consequence of always wanting to try different things.


...And, what motivates you to write?
I feel like I have all these ideas that I have to share with people. Have you ever had this great idea (or at least you think it’s great) and you just want to tell somebody? That motivates me.
For most of my ideas, I don’t have the ability to make them a reality. So I write them down and try to share them with people, in the hope that someone else can figure out how to make them real.


What inspired Book of the Wonders of the Galaxy?
I had been thinking about an idea for a short story for some time, a story that eventually became the first chapter of the book. The idea for that story came from one particular scene in Neil Gaiman’s graphic novel series, The Sandman, in which some supernatural beings were discussing how the realm of the faeries required a certain quality of light, an eternal midsummer’s twilight, that could not be achieved by a planet orbiting a star, and therefore that realm would not be a planet. I love Neil Gaiman’s work, but on this one I thought he was wrong, so I came up with a way for there to be an eternal midsummer’s twilight on a planet, without magic, only with astrophysics.
If you want to know how I manage that, you should read my book to find out. But this was only the first chapter of my book. The rest of the book came some time later, as I was listening to an audiobook of The Travels of Marco Polo, when I was inspired to expand that first story to include many more locations, linked together into a fictional traveller’s diary, and each location would be some kind of fantasy made scientific, like how I made the land of the faeries into a plausible planet.
By the way, the original title of The Travels of Marco Polo was Livre des Merveilles du Monde, or “Book of the Marvels of the World”. I’m not very subtle.


Did you work to an outline or just see where the idea took you?
Somehow, I did a bit of both.
Because each chapter in the Book of the Wonders of the Galaxy describes a different location or idea, the chapters are mostly self-contained. So, within each chapter, I can go wherever the idea takes me. When I’m done with one idea, we conveniently fly to the next planet for the next idea. But I also kept an outline of the whole book, to make sure I didn’t repeat my ideas, and to make sure I didn’t talk about things before I provided the supporting background for them.


Which, if any, of your personality traits did you write into your characters?
The unnamed traveller, who is the narrator, is someone who is inexorably drawn to seeing and learning new things, even to things that may be confusing or uncomfortable, and that’s basically me. But the book isn’t really about the traveller, or even me - it’s about settings, ideas, and societies. It’s the places that really have character.


For those of us who are thinking of reading your book, could you tell us what to expect?
I would recommend Book of the Wonders of the Galaxy to readers who enjoy imagining different worlds, different societies, different possibilities, readers who enjoy new places and new ideas, and who want to finish a book a bit more knowledgeable than when they started. To really get the most out of the book, you might have to look up unfamiliar names and ideas - you don’t have to, but just a little research can unlock so much more.
I want to exercise the reader’s imagination, and like all exercise, you’ll get more out of it if you’re willing to put a bit of effort in. I’ve tried to write a book that will continue to surprise you even after you’ve read it several times, and I hope I have succeeded in that. And for those who really like a challenge, go ahead and decipher all the references and sources of inspiration.


Could you give us a little taste?

Then, the holographic model began to move. I found myself standing in a multi-coloured, slow-motion maelstrom of stars, planets, black holes, gas clouds, forces, waves, numbers, symbols, equations, splines, and a billion other things so complex I could barely follow any of it. New-born stars ignited in clusters, and old stars burst in supernovae. Black holes danced in pairs and threes, and all eventually fell into Sagittarius A. But more than these, there were other threads and contours, ripples and waves of things that I could not understand, but which I could see were the unifying patterns that tied together all the little points of light. The AI, for its part, seemed to take all of this in its stride, annotating the model seemingly effortlessly. As I watched, the AI continued to highlight and label things for me wherever my attention turned.

In truth, I had no idea what I was seeing, because I did not understand most of what the AI described. Yet, I couldn’t stop looking, because it made so much sense, or so I felt. It was like a song sung in an unknown language, incomprehensible, yet clearly meaningful and beautiful, except the song is also a symphony with a billion instruments - you cannot see the conductor of this symphony, but you assume there must be one, because the billion instruments are all playing in time, and they’re all playing different parts of the same music. I was utterly transfixed.


When you consider your future, what would you like to make happen for you?
I want people to find my book, so I can share my ideas with them. I want this more than anything I’ve ever wanted. In my mind I see our world as beautiful and wondrous, simultaneously miraculous and logical. I want to share this with the world.


It’s time to relax! What do you do?
I actually play a lot of video games. I know “gamers” have a certain stereotype, but video games are at least as diverse as any other art form. The ones I like most have great stories, great artwork, great music, and say things that are relevant and challenging.


As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
Be a superhero. Or a robot. Or someone with psychic powers. Or an adventurer who explores the galaxy. Nothing sensible.


I think, with your book, you've become that adventurer who explores the galaxy!

What is the most important thing in your life and why?
I think having the time to keep learning is the most important thing, not just in my life, but in the whole world. If we want to make anything better, we have to make changes. If we want to make changes, we need new ideas. If we want new ideas, we have to look at things we don’t already know. If we look at things we don’t already know, we’re learning. Without learning, nothing can ever get better. For me, the worst possible fate is never being able to make anything any better.


Which novelists do you admire?
I’ve already mentioned Neil Gaiman. When I was younger, I grew up with the science fiction of Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov. I like hard science fiction, not necessarily for the technical stuff, but for the notion that the incredibly imaginative worlds can be real, that beauty and wonder need not contradict the laws of physics.
I know the question says “novelists”, but I’m also drawn to books like The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking. Sometimes the most imaginative stories are non-fiction, and talk about the wonder of reality.


What is your favourite book and why?
Tao Te Ching, by Laozi, but maybe I don’t recommend that for everyone. It’s ancient Chinese philosophy, difficult to understand even in Chinese, and much more obscure when translated into English.
For something more accessible, I’d say the Meditations, by Marcus Aurelius. These books demonstrate how to be thoughtful, and how to be wise. It’s not easy to use words to pin down such an elusive thing.


If you could travel to any time in history, when would you visit?
Am I allowed to say the future? Book of the Wonders of the Galaxy is science fiction, so I guess it’s pretty obvious I’m interested in the future. But if it has to be historical, I would go to those times and places when philosophy, science and the arts flourished - Classical Greece, Tang Dynasty China, the Islamic Golden Age, the European Enlightenment.
But really, things are flourishing now more than ever - inventions and discoveries are being made faster than ever before, and it seems like every year we find solutions to previously intractable problems. Soon, cars will be driving themselves - some of them already do. But my thoughts are turning towards the future again, and that’s a cheating answer to this question.


When did you last cry in front of another person?
This wasn’t in front of another person, but I think this is more meaningful. 
We know that elephants live in family groups, with the juveniles and females following the eldest female, and that adult male elephants live outside of these groups, roaming alone. I remember reading one time that this social structure is apparently a relatively recent phenomenon, that male elephants used to be observed to live with the family groups as well.
It is hypothesised that the male elephants separated from their families as a response to poaching. The male elephants have the bigger tusks, so the hunters track them the most. Knowing this, the male elephants separate themselves from their families so that, if the poachers find them, they don’t also find and kill the female elephants and baby elephants.
Is this not the most tragic thing? And it is a tragedy inflicted on these gentle creatures by our human greed for ivory, these creatures who care so much for their families, and who are aware enough of their situation that they choose to separate themselves from each other to protect one another from us.
I am crying right now just thinking about this, so maybe this counts as me crying in front of you.


I think that counts, Simon... I've just shed a few tears too!

Who is your favourite actor of your own gender?
I would say Bruce Lee, but he was a philosopher and a martial artist before he was an actor. I wonder if he really acted much, or if he mostly presented himself to the camera. He spoke across cultures, and in a time of discrimination against him, he built for himself a life, a family, and a legacy. Well ahead of his time, and one of the greats, in my opinion.


What is your favourite holiday?
My favourite holiday is Christmas. I know it’s all commercialised, and people pay too much attention to opening presents, but at its heart, Christmas is still about giving, about doing something for other people. Consideration for others is the core of society - the structure of society only exists because we hold each other up. If we forget this, everything we know and love will fall apart.


And finally, if you could wake up tomorrow having gained one quality or ability, what would it be?

So, imagine what it would be like if everyone in the world were 30 IQ points smarter than they are now. I know that IQ is defined from the average “intelligence” of people, so if everyone is smarter, the new average will still be defined as 100 IQ points. Cut me some slack here, just imagine if everyone was smarter.
To try to understand what that means, you might consider someone or something less intelligent than you, perhaps a baby, or a cat or a dog. Sometimes, a baby or a cat or a dog will become confused by something that you can understand, and often this is quite cute and adorable, but the essence of it is that they’re stuck on something they can’t do, but you can do it because you understand it. Now think about yourself, and some of the things you get stuck on, and imagine if you can just do those things because you’re smarter. Think of all the problems in the world that would disappear because people can just figure them out with their increased intelligence.
The ability I want is not to be 30 IQ points smarter, but to be able to make other people 30 IQ points smarter. This is what I try to do when I write.


Thank you for joining us, Simon and for the interesting answers.

You can catch up with Simon on Facebook and Twitter, and find 
 Book of the Wonders of the Galaxy on Amazon.


Book of the Wonders of the Galaxy is a fictional travel diary of a person who goes on a grand tour around the inhabited galaxy, in a future where humanity has developed interstellar travel and are rapidly expanding out to the stars. Inspired by The Travels of Marco Polo, each chapter of the book is a portrait of the character and essence of one planet or place, illustrating the interconnectedness of geography, astronomy, biology, economy, technology and society. While the science fiction is speculative, it is woven from threads drawn from our own diverse history and cultures, so everywhere you look in this future galaxy, you will find echoes and fragments of us.


Friday, 25 November 2016

Quantum by Hannah Godard



Title: Quantum
Author: Hannah Godard
Genre: Young Adult


Nothing is more glamorous than the CIA … at least for Clara. All she wants is excitement and adventure, to help people … and to be a part of something bigger than life.

At nineteen, she leaves everything she’s ever had behind to join the CIA with her boyfriend Ross. But when the agency starts to fall away like shattered glass, Clara and her team get thrown into the biggest mission ever to hit the agency. How will they deal with the pressure?

Clara has all her cards out on the table and she’s trying to keep them all in place … except she can’t hold them all down on her own. She’s trained and she’s ready … but something isn’t right. Is the real way to win the game not to play it, or is the trick not to play it for too long?



The Author:

Hannah Godard was born and raised in the small town of Cochrane, Alberta where she is currently a grade eleven student. She continues to chase a life of creativity and imagination, creating characters to take her on adventures and maybe learn something from them along the way. She writes to tell the greatest stories that have yet to be told and create a spark in which to lighten up the world. Hannah credits her dad for teaching her everything she knows about the world, from politics to drive and perseverance. Without him, she would be a very different person.

Quantum is her first novel and the first in the Quantum series. It came to life in the same way as many other novels do, in third period Social Studies class. This class was spent with three out of four of her best friends, laughing, creating businesses, and being creative. It was the one class where she could be a kid, where people didn’t tell her words could only mean one thing, and where they could all be creative. It started as a joke, as a simple question; what if I was in the CIA? From that point on Hannah developed the character of Clara, with the help of her friends, and soon the story came to life. Each person who she knows, no matter how small, is somehow put into the novel, worked into the story line, because what they say is true: we write what we know.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Enlightenment by Liz Keel



Title: Enlightenment
Author: Liz Keel
Genre: YA Fantasy


After losing everything, all seventeen-year-old Thea wanted was to be a normal teenager. Instead, she was attacked by a mysterious creature she thought only existed in fairy tales. Now thrown into the unknown realm of Faey, Thea is forced to determine the difference between reality and fantasy, in a world ruled by a dark elite and a society wracked by intolerance and prejudice.

With the support of her new friends and a mysterious dark haired, blue-eyed guardian watching her every move, Thea will discover that when it comes to Faey, nothing is what it seems. Will her courage and desire to save this new world from darkness be enough? Or will Thea be the next victim to fall to the dark whispers of fate...













The Nightmare

“No!” I screamed. It had happened again. This was the fourth night in a row I had woken up with a start, beads of sweat dampening my forehead and a sick feeling swirling in my stomach. Rubbing my face whilst trying to sit up I thought back to the same terrifying dream that had been haunting me for weeks now. Not that I expected it to be any other way. I mean, watching your parents die in a car crash will have that effect on you. The difference was that I was supposed to have died. I know it sounds crazy but there was no way I should have survived that; yet I had, and I was sure that the only reason I was still alive was because of the bright light that had emanated from my body.
We were supposed to have been setting off on a three-month expedition around India, but only got as far as our local town in Montana before it happened. One minute I was sitting in the back of the car fiddling with my iPod and the next second I’d heard Mom screaming. I’d looked up just in time to see a car skidding along on the road before it hit us side-on, flipping us into a ditch. Even now the fear I’d felt at the time – the fear of what was to come – still swallows me whole. Time had seemed to slow down as I had watched my mom and dad being thrown around as the car had turned upside down. Our screams had been overwhelming and I’d been reaching my breaking point, when suddenly all went silent and I had been engulfed in a bright, orange glow that had blinded me. Everything after that was hazy. I remember smacking my head on the window, which had been followed by an unbearable pain that had made my skull feel as though it would explode. I put my hand to my forehead, feeling a warm and sticky liquid trickling down the side of my face. Putting my hand out in front of me, I saw it was blood, but my fuzzy brain couldn’t comprehend what I was seeing. It was at that point black spots started to creep into my vision, making everything seem blurry. Then, however much I tried to stay awake, the darkness won and I slipped out of consciousness.
I awoke to an incessant bleeping and hushed whispers of ‘So young’ and ‘Such a shame’ and it was at that point I knew both of my parents were dead. Upon opening my eyes, a numb feeling began to take over as I realised I was in the local hospital with doctors giving me sympathetic looks and calling me sweetie whilst a nurse asked me who they should contact. That was an easy answer: no one. My parents had both been only children and their parents, my grandparents, had died when they were young. There was no one else.
A couple of hours later Eli turned up with his family. Who’s Eli? Explaining him isn’t exactly one of the easiest things to do, as our relationship was complicated to say the least. Foremost, he’s my best friend, even with his over-protective nature, which I think stems from his need to look out for me, kind of like how I imagined a brother would for a sister. This would make sense as I’ve always been really close to his family, who seem to have been in my life for forever. Yes, it was helped by the fact they lived in the same neighbourhood as us and that he went to the same high school as me; but more than that Eli seems to have been there at all my major life events. From losing my first tooth, to falling off my bike and then taking me for walks in the forest when I needed the company, he’s always been there, someone I could rely on.
And again on this eventful day, he turned up knowing exactly what I needed: for someone not to say anything, but instead just to sit with me. He completely ignored his mother’s sobs as he only had eyes for me, walking quickly over to my bed and wrapping his arms around me. He pulled me onto his lap and once again I seemed to fit perfectly as he cocooned me, wrapping his arms around my back, his warmth spreading through me like a drug. We were both seniors but he looked older, probably due to the growth spurt he had had over the summer. At six foot one he was a whole seven inches taller than me and had these tanned muscular arms that were freakishly strong, probably due to his part-time job as a labourer on the local farm. His dark blond hair spent most of the time being brushed back from his forehead, as it always fell into his eyes, but it always really suited him that way. One of the things I loved most about him were his eyes, which sparkled different shades of emerald green and I swear just looking at them let me know how he was feeling. On that day they had been a dull green.
I know the way I’m describing him might make you wonder why I’m not talking about him as something more than just a friend, but that’s the complicated part. You see, my feelings for him are purely platonic, but I don’t think he feels the same. The way Eli looks at me sometimes…the subtle hints…the way he grabs my hand and won’t let go, I think he wants something more and I’m not sure what to do about it. And however selfish this might sound, I need him in my life and can’t mess up our friendship, even to see if there could possibly be something more to our relationship. What if it all went wrong?
“Hey Thea,” Eli had whispered into my ear. “Mom says that when you’re discharged you’re coming home with us, period. No arguing.” I’d squeezed him back, gratefully burying my face in the crook of his neck, unable to communicate how much he and his family meant to me. At least they would be able to keep the loneliness at bay.
We sat like that for ages, me just breathing in his woody, musky smell, wondering how I was meant to function again. He twisted strands of my dark brown hair around his fingers and occasionally stroked his thumb along the side of my chin in a soothing manner. I could hear his mother and father in deep discussions with the police officers, and heard them say it was a miracle I was alive. Tell me about it. The only other person who had been around was Eli’s four-year-old sister Leela, who kept coming up with big, round, sad eyes, patting me on the leg whilst trying to get me to take Buggles, her much loved toy rabbit. She had known something was wrong and had tried her hardest to fix it in the only way she knew how.
That was four months ago, and although I’ve spent most of my time since then feeling numb and totally lost, I have begun to smile again and do normal things like getting up in the morning and going to school. If only these dreams would go away. There was nothing I could do about what had happened, but still my brain was making me re-play it over and over again. However, this latest dream was different.
Whenever I had dreamt about the crash, before the part where the orange glow appeared, I could see the faces of the bystanders with their horrified looks as we began to tip over. But this last time there was another face of a man who looked at me – and I mean really looked at me – as though he knew me. For some reason his eyes glowed with an intense ferocity and the sneer on his face only added to the anger that seemed to radiate off him. I couldn’t work out what I had ever done to him, or why I hadn’t seen him in my dreams before.
I sighed and looked at the clock, which read five a.m. Not wanting to wake Eli or his family I dressed quickly, got into my trainers and, with iPod in hand, left to go for a jog. It felt so good running and I always ended up in the same place – the forest by my old house. Being around nature felt so therapeutic, like I could actually absorb the energy around me. Weird, huh?! Today was no different as the early morning mist cloaked around me, like it was hugging me. Every now and then rays of morning light would shine in between the trees, warming my face. No one else was around, which was bliss, and I pushed myself even harder as though running faster would make the dream go away.
I wasn’t surprised when sometime later Eli found me sitting against the rock at our usual spot overlooking the stream. I often sat here when I wanted to think. It was so peaceful, almost magical.
“Couldn’t sleep?” he asked.
I nodded. “I dreamt about it again.” ‘It’ was something we didn’t often mention. However hard he had tried, I just couldn’t come to terms with what had been termed the ‘tragic accident’ myself. Eli had tried everything, from gently cajoling me to actually shaking me one day, getting so frustrated that I wasn’t letting it out. But what was there to let out? I was totally numb inside. Even his mom had tried to get me to talk and when that didn’t work, she felt it would be best if I spoke to the school counsellor, but what was the point? I mean, they were dead. I decided not to tell Eli about the man who had suddenly appeared in my latest dream, as it sounded crazy.
“You know, it will get easier,” he sighed. “It just takes time and…” he paused, getting something out of his pocket, “…a Twizzler.” He smiled, eyes twinkling as he handed me the much loved candy. When he looked at me like he was doing right now, with my favourite cheeky grin, I couldn’t help but go all warm and fuzzy inside. He leaned in closer, his breathing tickling the back of my neck. I changed the subject, not sure where this was going.
“One day of freedom left before the new semester starts,” I groaned. “Do you think Mr Gregson is going to be as obnoxious as always?”
“Probably.” Eli laughed. “At least this year we are in the same homeroom and have most of our classes together.”
I murmured in agreement, relieved that once again he would be there, a constant presence. Sometimes it really did feel like he was my own personal guardian



The Author:

I live in Surrey, England, a short walk from the beautiful Windsor Park, with my husband Richard and our two gorgeous children Noah and Olivia. For me, writing is nothing short of an addiction and I often find myself sneaking out to my writing shed for just a few minutes, which can often turn into hours of pure, unadulterated bliss catching up with my characters and continuing their story.

In-between writing, I teach in a primary school where there’s never a dull moment! I will also often be found Kindle in hand, reading a wide variety of genres but with YA fantasy and paranormal romance at the forefront of my reading list. Although I’m currently writing the second book in the Driel trilogy, other characters involving all things fantasy, paranormal and YA romance are jockeying for position, wanting me to write their story next, so watch this space! It is such a privilege to share my stories with you the reader.

Thank you enough for taking the time to find out more about me.

To find out more about Liz, visit her website.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Warlords of Llantatis by Dominic Green




WARLORDS OF LLANTATIS's graphics, gameplay, and immersive three-dimensional virtual reality experience took the online role playing gaming world by storm when it was first released - but it was first released over fifteen years ago. Now it's a haunt for the nostalgic and unfashionable.

Cyrus Baggett and Raj Rengarajulu have been pretending to be Smelrond of Quimnimbriel and Mordaxxe, Pwner of Noobs since college. Now they're old, married, and wanted by most of the crowned heads, secret police organisations and demonic familiars of the game universe. They are considering growing out of this thing - at least, until they meet the Character With No Name.

The Character's player is living in one room, which he has never left and appears to be being held in against his will. He doesn't know where in the world the room is; he doesn't even know his own name. The only way of finding out more about him is through playing Warlords of Llantatis, and that can only happen if Mordaxxe and Smelrond can keep him alive for long enough to talk - and if they can stay alive themselves, with Beëlzebelle and the Munchkins, Wizard Sparklebeard and Titanowang Lord of Fertility at large in the same universe.




Excerpt:

It was in the depth of winter, then, with perfectly-rendered three-dimensional blizzard static howling down the polygonally rendered peaks of Llareggub, that a lonely, battle-weary pair approached the Sign Of The Iron Fist Of Might Inn in the High Grunthar Pass between Llareggub and Amazonion. Night was falling, and dragon oil burned brightly and invitingly in the inns’ lanterns. As the newcomers climbed the mounting steps at the inn’s front door, ghastly ethereal harp and flute music rent the air. Two male middle-aged stockbrokers, one from Berlin, the other from Johannesburg, both of whom were under the impression that the other was actually a real live woman, were gay-marrying their Amazonion warrior women according to the Shaktic rite, before getting down to some hot guy-on-guy lesbian action. A room full of other Amazonion warrior women, every single one of them also played by a male, stood in solemn attendance commenting appreciatively on what the brides had done with their chainmail. Across an inn filled with petchouli smoke and rose petals, the voice of a professional troubadouress announced that Today She Was A Small Blue Thing.

Outside the inn, Smelrond and Mordaxxe exchanged glances, emoting deep dissatisfaction with this turn of events.

Both men had been running their characters for years. This - once it was considered that death, in the Universal Model, was irrevocable unless in exceptional circumstances, and once it was also considered that the characters were constantly in danger of death during every moment they were immersed in the game - was quite remarkable. Both men were of the gamer type referred to by market segmenters as ‘Bartle type Diamond / Club - Killer-Achievers’; they stockpiled arms, always had batteries of healing potions to hand, and had brains that pared any change in the game’s byzantine rules system right down to its mathematical essentials, and instantly saw how to derive advantage from it. In any World War, Smelrond and Mordaxxe would be troopers who had been on the Front a while, and who never bothered to talk to new recruits for at least a month, because ninety per cent of new recruits died quickly by poking their heads up out of cover, lighting more than three cigarettes with the same match, or volunteering.

Smelrond’s player, Mr. Cyrus Baggett of Laconia, New Hampshire, had conceived the character of Smelrond as an insult to his oldest friend, Mordaxxe’s player, Mr. Raj Rengarajulu of Beaverton, Oregon. Both men had attended college together at Brown University, where they had first misused their student accounts to logon to a Llantatis server and lampoon one another by creating characters at two in the morning when both of them should have been working on their graduate dissertations (or ‘forcing out our rich Brown theses’, as Baggett was fond of putting it).

Mr. Rengarajulu liked to think of himself as lithe, lean and athletic. Smelrond the Elvinoid was gangling and skinny. Mr. Rengarajulu was passionately committed to the cause of vegetarianism on strict moral grounds. Smelrond was a whining tree-hugger. Mr. Rengarajulu had a deep interest in philosophy and the underlying nature of the universe. Smelrond would divert an expedition across a perilous range of mountains purely on a rumour that a physically malodorous hermit might live there.

Mr. Baggett, meanwhile, thought of himself as physically mesomorphic with good combined upper and lower body strength and solid reserves of stamina. Mordaxxe was a triangle of muscle with a tiny little head. Mr. Baggett believed it was natural for human beings to eat meat and enjoyed the occasional hamburger. Mordaxxe ate nothing but meat, frequently cut bleeding from the buttocks of his enemies. Mr. Baggett believed it was every American’s democratic right to defend his home. Mordaxxe believed it was every Llareggubite’s duty to locate his enemies and destroy them before the thought of inimical behaviour had ever even occurred to them. Both men had killed for each other hundreds of times over. Both men had wives who nagged them constantly about the amount of time they wasted on That Stupid Game. Both men had secretly told themselves they’d Just Give It Long Enough To Get That Stupid Character Killed.

The trouble was, the characters just wouldn’t die. Dragon after zombie horde after portal to Hell itself had come and gone and left them scarred and uglified, but still up and running. They had calluses on their demon-killing hands. Most recently, both men had fought - Mordaxxe as a Llaregubbite observer - a quite brilliant rearguard guerilla action in the sacred grove of Quimnimbriel against the invading Amazonion, whom Mordaxxe enjoyed killing to a suspiciously breathy extent. The razing of Quimnimbriel Forest had been ordered by the Amazonion Virago-Imperatrix Brynhildicca because Mordaxxe and Smelrond had made it impossible for the Amazonions to occupy it. Improvised alchemical devices, ambuscades, and sometimes quite literal booby traps had hampered Amazonion supply lines and made the invaders feel that they themselves were the defenders, cowering behind makeshift stockades in the forest gloom. Now that peace had come, both men felt betrayed, particularly after an unauthorized raid into Amazonion had made them wanted in both Amazonion and Elvinia. Neither government wanted the ThongConan Accord to fail.

“Seems we always find ourselves”, commented Mordaxxe to Smelrond, “in a bar full of Amazonions every full moon.”

Smelrond grinned. “The whole Amazonion army menstruates in step. They always attack at full moon.”

The tavernkeeper, Thrangor, a mightily-thewed Llareggubite who had lost a leg in last year’s War of the Bloody Rag, but whose player was still running him every now and again out of sheer nostalgia, stopped them at the door. “You don’t want to be going in there, milords. I’ve got women and beardless boys only serving them while they’re in this mood. They’re already beginning to complain that they’re fat and their armour doesn’t really fit them any longer and what’s the point of anything and oh Shakti and Zeus, you’re an Elvinoid.”

Smelrond grinned. His inch-long canines bore witness to his race’s distinctly non-vegetarian past.

“And those - those are Quimnimbriel unit colours!”

“The only ones now extant. My brothers and sisters either died fighting or submitted to the Peace of ThongConan. My friend here and I are all that remain of the Quimnimbriel host.”

The barkeep looked Mordaxxe up and down.

“You don’t look like an Elvinoid”, he said.

“I am a mincing flower-eater”, rumbled Mordaxxe, “trapped in a three-hundred-pound juggernaut of muscle.”

Thrangor looked nervously back towards the bar area.

“It is the Law of Grunthar”, he said, “that you do not strike the first blow. Unless you are insulted, cheated, looked at in an improper way, or have your drink spilled in a manner you honestly believe to have been deliberate.”

Mordaxxe nodded solemnly. “I know the Law of Grunthar.”

“YOU SNIVELLING WRETCH OF A BOY!” shrieked a shrill voice from the tavern’s interior. “CHALK AND CHARCOAL FOR OUR HEAVILY PREGNANT SISTER, HO! AND MULTITASK BY BRINGING US MORE ALE AT THE SAME TIME, IF YOU CAN.”

Thrangor shuddered.

“It is also the Law of Grunthar”, he muttered, “that no man draw a blade unless his opponent draws a blade on him.”

So saying, he passed Smelrond and Mordaxxe two heavy fencing mauls. From inside the tavern came the plucking of strings, and an announcement that the troubadouress Was Louka, and Lived On The Second Floor.

“We’re just going to walk in there casually”, said Mordaxxe to Thrangor, “as if we’re just coming in here for a beer.”

“Which we are”, added Smelrond hurriedly.

“And we don’t want any trouble”, said Mordaxxe, his mighty musculature straining like the stays of a ship in an oncoming gale.

He pushed open the door to the bar area.

The room fell silent.

“Elvinoids”, hissed a voice.

Spit dribbled into the sawdust on the floor. That in itself would have been grounds for violent assault anywhere in Llareggub, but Mordaxxe, a cosmopolitan, let it pass.

“We are just two humble, uh”, said Mordaxxe, looking over his shoulder at his weapon, as if examing it in greater detail might tell him what he was.

“Fencers”, said Smelrond.

“Spoiling for a beer”, said Mordaxxe.

“The one on the left has a steel two-hander and knows how to use it”, muttered Smelrond out of the corner of his mouth. “She’s backed away to optimum distance, and she’s rubbing her pregnant sister’s chalk on her hands. Those three on the right you can forget. They’ve not even made a move toward their scabbards, and I’m too close by now for it to make any difference if they do.”

“One at the back is activating Berserk Mode”, said Mordaxxe, “and thinks I can’t see her nibbling her shield. The one in the middle is lining up for a Swashbuckling Chandelier Swing, which gives her double hit probability but you triple impale probability if you raise a stabbing weapon and go for an Ass Kebab -”

“You are interrupting a wedding, friend”, said a melodious, liquid voice chosen from over two thousand auditioners by Avi David to be Amazonion Female Hero Stock Voice Number Seven. Recognizing the voice, Mordaxxe knew the character instantly to be being played by a man with serious gender displacement issues. Women in possession of genuine women’s voices seldom relied on the game defaults.

“I am but a simple farmer”, he said.

“Fencer”, corrected Smelrond.

“I saw no fences on the way up here”, said the Amazonion spokeswoman. “Just barren mountainside.”

“Our presence would hardly be necessary otherwise”, said Smelrond.

“You should see the beautiful fencing system outside now”, said Mordaxxe.

“Classic birch wattle round ash uprights all the way up the valley”, said Smelrond. “Fair made me weep to look at it after we were done, it did.”

“On our way home, we plan to visit some of our Elvinoid women and mutilate their vaginas”, added Mordaxxe, his eyes shining.

The three on the right attempted a sword draw, and went down under Smelrond’s sweep. The one on the left dodged Mordaxxe’s overhead smash and drew her own weapon from a scabbard between her shoulderblades with snakestrike speed, sparking it off Mordaxxe’s wrist circlets. Then Mordaxxe abandoned the maul and drew his own weapon, and the carving began. At the sight of the Amazonions drawing swords, even Thrangor leapt from behind the bar bearing an ancient, rusted war axe and roaring war cries. Arms, legs, bottoms and thighs flew in all directions, most of the bodily fluids being absorbed by the sawdust. Finally, Mordaxxe had the one remaining Amazonion backed into a corner. She was proving surprisingly tenacious, defending herself with one of her sisters’ swords and a meat skewer which she was employing as a parrying dagger.

“Strike!” she yelled in an accent Mordaxxe could not identify.

“Well, what are you waiting for?” said Smelrond. “Finish her off.”

“THIS ONE’S GOT A REAL FEMALE VOICE”, bellowed Mordaxxe. “SHE’S A REAL GIRL.”

“What goddamned difference does that make?” yelled the real girl.

“I DON’T HIT GIRLS”, yelled Mordaxxe desperately.

“Since when?” said Smelrond. “We’ve slaughtered legions of Amazonions.”

“THEY WERE ALL MEN PRETENDING TO BE WOMEN”, yelled Mordaxxe, trying to keep the girl on the end of his sword.

“Seriously?” said Smelrond.

“OH YEAH”, nodded Mordaxxe, sweating.

“I thought you enjoyed killing them”, said Smelrond. “I was getting worried about you.”

“IT’S ALL RIGHT”, shrieked Mordaxxe, “I DON’T ENJOY KILLING WOMEN, I JUST ENJOY PRETEND-KILLING ELECTRONIC TRANSVESTITES.”

“Hey, look over there”, said Smelrond. The girl looked around, just as Smelrond smacked the flat of his sword into her temple. She fell like a toppled tree. Mordaxxe backed away, goggling at the girl in horror.

Smelrond looked down at her.

“I am still worried about you”, he said.

“I hate men who play Amazonion women”, said Mordaxxe, his hands trembling on his weapon. “I hate their feigned concern and their extravagant over-the-top obsequious agonizing about every imagined slight to womankind. Not one of them has ever done the evil deed to a lady’s Thing That Shall Not Be Named. They crave it, and they believe that by agreeing with every tiny little tenet of feminism - no matter how many of those tenets contradict other tenets, and no matter how many tenets are disagreed with by actual living breathing women such as my beautiful Kavitha, mother of my children and silo to my mighty missile - this moves them closer to losing their twenty or thirty or forty years of lonely virginity. Because, and this is the greatest illusion of all, they think that by hanging out with Amazonions they are hanging out with real live women, one of whom might be impressed by their feminist zeal and arrange to meet them out-of-game and overlook their bad breath, paunch, tiny little penis, and all those things they’ve got on their face that they ‘can’t get removed on my medical insurance without paying out a whole wad of cash, dude, and I’m saving up for some new speakers anyway, so I tried burning them off with a soldering iron, but they just keep on coming back’.” He finished his soliloquy with madly staring eyes, and panted to redeem his oxygen debt.

“Uncharacteristically poetic”, said Smelrond. “You evidently feel strongly about this. How do you feel about real transvestites?”

“Confused”, said Mordaxxe, “but okay.”

“You don’t feel like chopping them up or anything.”

“I don’t think so.”




What Readers Think:
Thirty years ago I was hacking into a university other than my own's computer system to play a multi user dungeon. "Hit troll with axe". Ah, the nostalgia. Today, the simple game system sitting next to the antique telephone on the side table allows me to anatomically dissect that troll's descendants in glorious colour. In a few years, (fewer than we think) the world of gaming will have advanced well beyond the levels described in this book. So that almost makes it a historical romance set in the glory days of VR gaming.
If you are a normal person, you probably have not understood a word I have just written. If, however, you are a degenerate fruitloop, a nerd, a misfit or, that lowest of all of God's creations, a gamer, then this is truly your book. The characters are outrageous, broken and deranged...and you know every one of them in the real world. You may even be one of them. I appear to be several. The author's skill is that they are real enough for the reader to identify with and care about.
The only fault I have with this book is that it is a book and not a fully immersive game system already. I trust that the author will remedy this forthwith.

The Author:


Dominic Green was born some time ago. He remembers when telephones were attached to the wall with cables. As a child, he was lied to by magazines that told him he would be living on the Moon in the year 2000 wearing silver rocket boots.

People have been publishing science fiction by him since 1996, ha! The fools. In 2006, he was nominated for a Hugo Award for his story, The Clockwork Atom Bomb.

He is married and has three cats and a Newfoundland dog who is the world's first life form to consist entirely of drool.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Guest Post from Jason Pomerance



Last month I spotlighted Women Like Us and today we have a guest post from the author, Jason Pomerance.

Over to you, Jason!


In my novel Women Like Us, a great deal of time is spent on the subjects of food and drink. One reason for this is that one of the principal characters, Susan Jones, is a chef. Another major character, Susan's mother-in-law Edith Vale, is fond of the nightly cocktail hour, and she's especially partial to a well-made Manhattan. Or two! The novel is also set in Pasadena, California. Here's something you might not know about Pasadena -- it's the birthplace of Julia Child, who also grew up in the town. In fact Julia makes a brief appearance in the book. Well, not Julia herself, of course, but mention of her in relation to another character.

Anyway, so lots of cooking and eating in Women Like Us. It's a theme of the book, that gathering at the table for a meal can bring people together. At one point in the story, many of the characters are in need of some comfort food. I bet you know what I'm talking about -- you've had a bad day, or you're not feeling great, and you crave something delicious that's not complicated or fancy. Well, that dish, at that point in the novel is creamed chicken and peas, which is served on toast points. It's a great old-fashioned dish that's fallen out of favor, a sort of open-faced chicken pot pie, and who doesn't love those? Anyway, if you find yourself in need of something comforting for dinner, check this recipe out. And don't forget to check out the book!



Creamed Chicken And Peas On Toast

Serves 4

2 tbsps. butter
1/4 cup finely diced shallot or onion
1/2 cup finely diced celery
1/2 cup finely diced carrots
2 tbsps. flour
1 cup chicken stock, home made or canned low-sodium
1/2 cup heavy cream
Salt and Fresh ground pepper
2 cups poached chicken, white or dark meat, or a combination, cut into cubes
1 cup petite peas, defrosted
8 slices firm white bread, crusts removed
Chopped Italian Parsley

1) In a 10 inch skillet melt butter over medium heat. Add diced onions, celery and carrots and cook, stirring, until vegetables are tender, about 5-7 minutes.

2) Sprinkle flour over vegetables and cook, stirring, about 3 minutes more. Add chicken stock and stir to blend, then add heavy cream. Bring to slow simmer, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer slowly, until sauce thickens, about 3 minutes.

3) Meanwhile, toast the bread, then cut into triangles.

4) Add chicken and peas to sauce. Simmer a few minutes more until heated through, then spoon the mixture over the toast points. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.






Saturday, 19 November 2016

A Faery’s Kiss By Ariel Marie





Title: A Faery’s Kiss
Author: Ariel Marie
Release Date: November 19, 2016
Cover: Ariel Marie
Genre: Paranormal Romance


The twenty-fifth day of December is fast approaching. It is a day that is celebrated throughout all of Faery. It signifies the birthday of the beloved Princess, Noelle Bogosian, who on this year will turn thirty years old. With her impending birthday, her father, the king, has deemed it time for her to marry. The king has reinstated the Royal Tournaments, a series of competitions that would allow warriors near and far to compete for his daughter’s hand in marriage.

Noelle, being the loyal daughter that she is, has agreed to her father’s outlandish idea of finding her a husband. She will do anything for Faery and knows that finding a suitable husband will help secure Faery’s future. But for Noelle, she’s ready to test out the legend of a Faery’s kiss. She’s been ready to find that one special Fae to spend all of eternity with.

Will the legend prove true and reveal her one true love or will the victor of the tournament be the one that she will spend an eternity with?

WARNING: The book contains content for readers 18 years and older.






Excerpt:

Ryo Daerosis was on a mission. He would participate in the Royal Tournaments to win the Fae princess’ hand in marriage. Her beauty and wit were known throughout the land. Warriors from all over Faery were descending upon the royal palace this week for the tournament.

The Royal Tournaments were an age old tradition to marry the princess off to a strong suitor, to ensure there would be two powerful rulers ready to assume the responsibilities of ruling all of Faery. This was the first tournament to be held in the last century since the royal couple only had one child, the princess.

Ryo was from a long line of strong Fae males, the Daerosis Clan, who were known as fierce warriors. Elas Daerosis, Ryo’s own father, had been the leader of the Daerosis Clan for the past two centuries. It was at the urging of his father that Ryo entered the tournaments. As the eldest son of the clan leader, it was time he settled down. Also, as the eldest Daerosis in line, Ryo was in charge of the clan’s army, making him the perfect candidate to be the future king of Faery.


Copyright © 2016 by Ariel Marie

** No part of this excerpt may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.









The Author:


Ariel Marie is an author who loves the paranormal, action and hot steamy romance. She combines all three in each and every one of her stories. For as long as she can remember, she has loved vampires, shifters and every creature you can think of. This even rolls over into her favorite movies! She love a good action packed thriller! Throw a touch of the supernatural world in it and she’s hooked!

She grew up in Cleveland, Ohio where she currently resides with her husband and three beautiful children.

Want to know more about her and her books? Visit her website