***Firstly, a huge thank you to the author and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for organising this tour! For the purposes of providing a review, I received a free copy of this book. All opinions stated are my own***
The future is now… it’s terrifying!!! Humanity locks jaws with the ever-increasing human desires towards highly advanced technological innovations making the world a dangerous place. Unanticipated horrific consequences unfold for Tommy McGregor when he partakes in a new high-tech innovation to enhance his health and wellbeing. He thought it would make him healthier, better looking and live forever…DI Valentina is out of her comfort zone when she’s tasked to track down a killer, unknown to her, hidden behind a digital mask. The future has already fallen upon humanity as she soon discovers, nothing is as it seems anymore as society embarks in technology that’s already here. A terrifying mystery, it feeds your imaginative mind’s eye – a fast-paced “whoisit” thrilling crime, novel that will leave you guessing until the end, (or will it?) As it leaves the hairs on your arms stand on end as you uncontrollably turn each page in this 3 part series.
Technology is all around us. You wake up first thing to an alarm, probably set on one electronic device or another (or several, if you’re a perpetual “snoozer”). Maybe you surf the internet, turn on the TV or listen to music. Those signals are all around us, communicating to our devices 24 hours a day. It has become so commonplace that we don’t even think about it. I just take it for granted.
What if the use of one of these devices started to manipulate you? When a man is arrested and pleads ignorance to a number of crimes he has committed, DI Valentina has her work cut out for her to prove he is guilty. But is he?
Black Matter is a fast paced novel that keeps you gripped from start to finish. The book comprises of relatively short, digestable chapters. They are written predominantly from two perspectives, Tommy McGregor and DI Valentina. We also get brief interludes to their narratives from our perpetrator(s). These craftily written chapters don’t give much insight into their identity either, making you want to keep reading to find out who they are.
I wouldn’t describe Tommy as a likeable character, but that is orchestrated with good reason. It’s hard to stick criminal charges to a character that is the archangel Gabriel personified… and make it work. You can’t help but feel a little sorry for him, however.
DI Valentina is a completely different kettle of fish. Strong-minded and passionate about doing her job right, she’s actually a morally upstanding woman. Despite all the evidence pointing to Tommy, Valentina recognises that something isn’t right and instead seeks to prove him innocent.
Against the clock, DI Valentina races to find the killer before more bodies are found. How are they controlling people? What is their agenda? More importantly, can she stop them?
Author Bio –
GD Parker is the author of his debut novel, Black Matter. Book one of a three-part series that explores the depths of the unfolding high-tech world we now live in, making it a dangerous place.
The novel will be available to purchase in e-book and paperback formats on the Amazon store.
Gareth was born in the UK in 1981. A family man spent much of his working life in South Wales working in a professional capacity. One day he made the decision write about an idea he dreamt about.
Still working full time for a large organisation, he enjoys reading all manner of books, and spending time with his world – his family.
*** I kindly received a free copy of The Road to Alexander by Jennifer Macaire for the blog tour organised by Rachel’s Random Resources. All the opinions stated in my review are honest and my own***
The Road to Alexander has opened up a whole new historical period to love. The narrative is rich in detail and gives a lot of insight into the culture and lifestyle of the time. Not only that, if you don’t know very much about the Greek gods, you’re in for an enjoyable education too!
The year is 2089, and time-travelling journalist Ashley Riveraine gets a once in a lifetime opportunity to interview her childhood hero, Alexander the Great. She expects to come out with an award-winning article, but doesn’t count on Fate intervening.
Alexander mistakes Ashley for Persephone, goddess of the dead, and kidnaps her, stranding her in his own time. Being stuck 3000 years in the past with the man of her dreams wouldn’t be so bad if the scientists of the Time Institute hadn’t threatened to erase Ashley from existence if she changes history.
Ashley must now walk a tightrope, caught up in the cataclysmic events of the time, knowing what the future holds for the people she comes to love but powerless to do anything to influence it.
Join Ashley on her hilarious, bumpy journey into the past as she discovers where her place in history truly is…
Avid followers of my blog will know that historical fiction books are a guilty pleasure of mine. Take me back to Tudor England, either of the Great World Wars or the Viking invasion of Britain and I am a happy lass. Occasionally though, I branch out of the usual time periods and find a real gem.
I really like the recurring element of science-fiction in The Road To Alexander. To date, I haven’t found a crossover like it. Historical fiction that even includes time travel gives it the curtest nod before moving on swiftly and forgetting it ever happened. Ashley is a modern woman and time travel isn’t unusual to her. She trained for the very opportunity of a lifetime, so she knows everything about it. Well after the time travel event itself Ashley experiences medical symptoms/complications that remind us of her situation. She is paranoid about altering history. If she does, she has been told she be erased and will never meet Alexander.
Depending on your work environment, colleagues etc, there are sections of the narrative that feel very NSFW. As a personal preference, I don’t really enjoy reading too much detail when it comes to sex and nudity. There is a lot of sex in the book. To give you an idea of what it’s like, I can only describe it like this:
The first time, Ashley and Alexander are like desperate hormonal teenagers. No detail is spared. It doesn’t take too long for it to get to the kind of sex you could expect five years into a marriage – a brief encounter and promptly forgotten.
When we first meet Ashley, she is a very cold person. Her excitement to meet her childhood hero is limited to the acclaim she expects when she gets back to 2089 to write about Alexander the Great. She has a hard upbringing and is driven by success, but I love that we get to see this ice queen thaw as she adapts to her new way of life. She blossoms from an unpleasant, career-driven young lady (well, I didn’t like her much anyway) into a woman that would do anything to save another person. It’s also quite funny watching someone who doesn’t have a clue how to adapt. After Ashley discovers that she is stuck in the past, there is a great deal of humour as she tries to wriggle out of difficult situations!
As an amateur to the history inspiring the book, I can’t attest to the historical accuracy of it. Only an expert could tell you that. What the expert couldn’t tell you though, is how well this book “sells” the historical period to the person that hasn’t really come across it before. A person like me. Sure, I’ve HEARD of Alexander the Great. Could I have told you before what he had done to earn the name? Not at all. Do I want to finish the series and find out? Hell yes!
Giveaway to Win a $10 Amazon gift certificate (Open INTERNATIONALLY)
*Terms and Conditions – Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for the fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
Jennifer Macaire is an American living in Paris. She likes to read, eat chocolate, and plays a mean game of golf. She grew up in upstate New York, Samoa, and the Virgin Islands. She graduated from St Peter and Paul High School in St Thomas and moved to NYC where she modelled for five years for Elite. She went to France and met her husband at the polo club. All that is true. But she mostly likes to make up stories
I am really looking forward to today’s blog tour post for Facing a Twisted Judgment by K. J. McGillick. I was kindly invited to the tour by Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources. A massive thank you to both of you for enabling me to enjoy this thrilling read!
What happens when tunnel vision clouds a police investigation? Is it true that once you are labeled a person of interest you really are the prime suspect? Can you trust the legal system? Probably not.
After a bitterly contested legal battle over inherited property, the hard-won art collection and its owner Samantha Bennington disappear. Both have vanished without a trace.
When blood spatter is discovered under the freshly painted wall of the room in which two of the paintings were hung, the theft becomes the opening act in a twisted tale of jealousy, revenge, and murder leading to a final judgment for all involved.
As the list of suspects narrows, the focus lands squarely on the husband. Some labeled Samantha’s husband a corrupt attorney, others an opportunist. Either way, he’s in the crosshairs of law enforcement and they are calling him a murderer. But is he the only viable suspect? What about the missing woman’s drug-addicted sister and her convicted felon brother? Both were furious over their loss at court and have more than enough reason to hate Samantha.
Guilty until proven innocent leaves Alexander Clarke facing a twisted judgment.
Give me a crime novel with any number of suspects and I’ll sit there and try to deduce my way through it like a very amateurish Poirot. The measure of a good crime novel is whether I THINK I’ve hacked it or not. As I said, I’m not very good at these things. I’m always wrong, but I enjoy the attempt nonetheless.
I was kept guessing throughout this book! I doubted everyone and everything I was told, trusting none of the characters…well, except Dalia. Was it truly the cold and calculating husband? Maybe it was the psycho sister or brother serving time for fraud. The investigation targets the husband very quickly and the evidence starts to mount up against him.
The narrative is clearly constructed from two perspectives; Dalia, employed by the company trying to recover several pieces of artwork valued at 130million dollars, and suspect number one himself. Dalia’s background as an attorney means she cannot help but take a natural interest in the disappearance of Samantha and subsequent investigation. Her narrative is balanced between developing her character and current events. Of all the characters in the book, I found Dalia to be the most authentic and relatable. As a newcomer to the team and the investigation, we unravel the mystery through her eyes.
Alex is far from a likable character, but his portrayal in the narrative is intriguing and wonderfully written. He is an attorney himself, but with a shady past, a long list of ex-wives and a cold/calculating demeanor, he is far from squeaky clean. When this newlywed’s wife goes missing along with some of her most valuable assets, Alex’s primary concern for the insurance claim on the artwork paints a sinister picture.
I loved reading the chapters from Alex’s perspective because I was intrigued by how emotionally detached he is as a person. Psychology is a subject that I been interested in since the age of 17; Alex makes an interesting test case. His almost split personality can turn at the flick of a switch. His need for control and ability to manipulate people is unnerving. When his wife plans to go against his wishes with the assets he helped her win in court, what lengths will he go to in order to get his way?
A concise narrative makes Facing A Twisted Judgment easy to pick up but hard to put down.
About the Author
K. J. McGillick was born in New York and once she started to walk she never stopped running. But that’s what New Yorker’s do. Right?
As she evolved so did her career choices. After completing her graduate degree in nursing she spent many years in the university setting sharing the dreams of the enthusiastic nursing students she taught. After twenty rewarding years in the medical field she attended law school and has spent the last twenty-four years as an attorney helping people navigate the turbulent waters of the legal system. Not an easy feat. And now? Now she is sharing the characters she loves with readers hoping they are intrigued by her twisting and turning plots and entertained by her writing.
Resigned to another lifetime of being a witch’s familiar, Caitlyn has found a degree of peace in her role as the Duke of Normandy’s protector and spy.
But that peace is shattered when she returns to her native land only to come face-to-face with her past, and fall in love with a man who she desperately hopes will become her future.
Caitlyn, our sassy protagonist, is back and better than ever! Enthralled to Arlette, former protégé of Herleva, she is bound to serve and protect her only son, the Duke of Normandy. Raising him almost like her own child, she would happily give her life in exchange for his. In the depths of a political minefield, Caitlyn must be careful procuring other’s secrets whilst guarding her own.
Whilst she doesn’t age, Caitlyn has certainly matured since the first book. Her wild hopes of returning to her former self after the death of Herleva are dead. She is more resigned to her fate… but a small ember of hope remains that the power binding her will weaken. She is no longer the naive young girl she was. Adopting a motherly role has changed her… and for the better, in my opinion.
The plot tackles mature themes well; death, witchcraft (obviously) and the odd intimate encounter run throughout the book, but aren’t so graphically detailed so as to put a sensitive reader off. Anyone following my blog will know I’m not a fan of anything detailed by the way of romance or intimacy. I didn’t cringe away from it on this occasion, although it was close. It’s just a personal thing – it can make me feel awkward if I’m honest.
The narrative picks up from the first book really well. Whilst I think it advantageous that I have not long read Three Bloody Pieces, it isn’t essential. There are more than enough hints to remind you of events in the first book if you haven’t read it recently. This is done very well, so it doesn’t clutter the narrative of current events either. I found the pace and flow of the text better developed than the first book. Overall, I found A Stain on the Soul a little easier to read, with a greater depth of historical background.
Elizabeth Davies is a paranormal author, whose books have a romantic flavour with more than a hint of suspense. And death. There’s usually death…
Win signed copies of Three Bloody Pieces and A Stain on the Soul plus a magic mug and a coaster. (Open Internationally)
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
Kristan Gemeta is teetering on the brink of madness.
His sister Melissa has defied him. His friend Olaf has betrayed him. The Wichelord Daazna’s ghostly laughter mocks him when he’s awake and robs him of his sleep at night. Even the protective powers of his legendary Stone are turning against him.
And now his companions, his ship and its precious cargo have been taken hostage. Kristan must give chase, in an unseaworthy vessel manned by an angry centaur crew. Ahead lie unfriendly waters, an ominous destination and a confrontation Kristan dreads.
In his despair, Kristan longs for the one person he has always trusted: his beloved Heather. But she’s far away, about to step into a trap that will endanger not just her command, but Kristan’s life.
I have been looking forward to the next installment of the Gemeta Stone series for some time now… and it was definitely worth the wait!
It cannot be denied that Kristan is a complex character. I love that about him; he has come on leaps and bounds since the first book of the series! I really enjoyed seeing glimpses of the old Kristan in this book. He is far from the ideal, altruistic hero. His life has been far from easy, regardless of the struggles he has with magic. He is a young, sick man trying to rule the realm – everyone he trusts seems to be testing him. His struggles make him feel human and all the more relatable too.
I love Heather as well. Not one to bow to convention, she is headstrong and feisty, yet loyal. She is a strong character, and as a result, easy to love. That isn’t to say I agree with all of her decisions though – there are moments I want to shake some sense into her!
It is really easy to pick up the narrative from the previous book, StoneKing. The first couple of chapters are cleverly written to refresh the reader’s memory. As a result, just the right amount of detail is given to achieve this without weighing down the further progression of the narrative. I also really like Donna Migliaccio’s writing style; it strikes just the right balance of “formal”, yet conversational, to be easy to read. Also, dialogue between the characters flows naturally, dependent on the characters relationships. This has always been consistent throughout the series so far. Please do not misinterpret my saying that the text is formal; by that, I am referring more to the structure of the narrative. It is well written and cohesive, and the perspective is clear throughout.
I think the introductions to places in previous books help most of all, but never have I found myself lost as to where each respective chapter is based or whom it centers around. The fantasy realm that Donna has created in these books is vast, but so far has been pulled off seemingly effortlessly. I am fairly sure it is not an effortless task, and so no doubt bringing this series (so far!) together has taken copious amounts of time and effort. It has paid off; I can assure you, dear friends. As I said in a previous post, this series is fast becoming one of my favourites… and I don’t say that lightly.
About the Author…
Donna Migliaccio is a professional stage actress with credits that include Broadway, National Tours and prominent regional theatres.
She is based in the Washington, DC Metro area, where she co-founded Tony award-winning Signature Theatre and is in demand as an entertainer, teacher and public speaker.
Her award-winning short story, “Yaa & The Coffins,” was featured in Thinkerbeat’s 2015 anthology The Art of Losing.
Vivienne Vermes’ debut novel is a gripping read which will appeal to readers who enjoy historical fiction, thrillers and evocative themes. The book begins with a young woman found, emaciated and unconscious, in the mountains surrounding a village in Transylvania. When it is discovered that she is of an ethnic group which was violently driven out of the regions many years before, old wounds are reopened as the villagers are reminded of their role in the bloodshed.
An uneasy peace is maintained until a young married man falls in love with the girl, and tension begin to rise within the community. The mysterious disappearance of a child causes this tension to mount into hysteria, driving the story to its chilling outcome.
I love books that tackle difficult themes. A number of my favourite books hold that accolade for precisely that reason; To Kill a Mockingbird and The Green Mile are but two examples.
The historical context of The Barefoot Road is clear straight away. In the first chapter, we re-live the persecution and slaughter of a community. When a young woman from that community is brought into the village, mistrust broods. As soon as anything untoward happens the blame falls at her feet; the villagers are quickly roused into seeing her account for her actions.
One constructive point I would like to make is that sometimes the narrative comes across a little stiff when referring to main characters by “first name” “last name”. As a significant character, addressing Ioan Trifoi in this way (more often than not) distances him from the reader. It makes the narrative feel a little less personal and Ioan harder to identify with. He does grow on you as the tale progresses. Dropping the formal address could speed this up, in my opinion.
I’m glad that The Barefoot Road portrays society in its darkest moments, and how individuals can get swept up into a crowd for not agreeing with the majority. It is a common thing… but this kind of behaviour can have real, nasty consequences. Naturally, this is not a side to humanity we want to acknowledge or recognise. Yet, it happens…and we should recognise it in order to do something about it.
The tension that builds as the narrative progresses feels very real. As a reader, you cannot help but delve into the book further to watch events pan out. Themes of religion and witchcraft (and the weight characters lend to their importance) go a long way to setting the book. As a huge fan of historical fiction, I really enjoyed this aspect. The underlying motives, agendas and pre-existing relationships of various villagers within the town adds to the tension and conflict nicely.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Vivienne Vermes is a writer and actress of Irish and Hungarian descent who divides her time between Paris and London. She has published four collections of poetry: Sand Woman, Metamorphoses, Passages and When the World Stops Spinning, and has performed her work in festivals throughout Europe. She is winner of the Piccadilly Poets’ award, the Mail on Sunday’s Best Opening of a Novel competition, as well as Flash 500s prize for short prose and the Paragram national competition for best poem and “petite prose”. She has taught creative writing in universities in Transylvania, and runs a writers’ workshop in Paris.
As an actress, she has played roles in a number of French films, including Les Trois Frères, Le Retour and in Les Profs 2 in which she portrayed Queen Elizabeth II. Her voice also warns passengers on the Paris metro to “Mind the gap”.
Thirty-something single mum Beth Haldane is forced to become Dulwich’s answer to Miss Marple when she stumbles over a murder victim on her first day at work. To clear her name, Beth is plunged into a cozy mystery that’s a contemporary twist on Golden Age crime classics. But can she pull it off? She already has a bouncy young son, haughty cat, a fringe with a mind of its own and lots of bills to pay, as she struggles to keep up with the yummy mummies of SE21. Join Beth in #1 of the London Murder Mystery series, as she discovers the nastiest secrets can lurk in the nicest places.
Beth is a bubbly young woman, who discovers a murder on her first day back at work. Having convinced herself that she is implicated, she delves in to try and uncover the murderer and motive.
I quite enjoyed her bouncy, ditzy character. She loves to think she is organised; she cleans and tidies the house to “get her thoughts together”. The facade slips whenever she has to tip the contents of her handbag out to find her phone though. It is her way of determining that she is in control. But, as a single mum, things can get pretty hectic. I like the “modern” family structure in the book – increasingly there are more families, for one reason or another, that are reliant on a single parent. I thought it was great that this was recognised.
Alice Castle’s description of Beth is on-point, even down to the rogue, uncooperative hair (anyone with long hair will really relate to this, I’m sure). Her personality makes her the perfect candidate to want to uncover the mystery, despite being warned of the potential dangers by Inspector York. Exasperated at her meddling and finding her around the corner of every development, York has to concede to her knowledge of the small, exclusive community in order to solve the case. Whilst most of the narrative is written from Beth’s perspective, there are small sections from Inspector York. I would have liked to see a little more from his perspective, as the expert on the case.
The narrative is full of plot twists, leaving you guessing the next move and the identity of the perpetrator. What makes it even better is that the final twist was one I didn’t expect at all.
Just when you thought it was safe to go back to Dulwich…
It’s a perfect summer’s morning in the plush south London suburb, and thirty-something Beth Haldane sneaks off to visit one of her favourite places – the world-famous Picture Gallery.
She’s enjoying a few moments’ respite from juggling her job at prestigious private school Wyatt’s and her role as single mum to little boy, Ben, when she stumbles across a shocking new exhibit on display. Before she knows it, she’s in the thick of a fresh, and deeply chilling, investigation.
Who is The Girl in the Gallery?
Join Beth in adventure #2 of The London Murder Mystery series as she tries to uncover the truth about a secret eating away at the very heart of Dulwich.
I moved on to reading The Girl in the Gallery almost immediately after Death in Dulwich. A number of the main characters are already established; therefore the plot flows effortlessly, without filling in too much back-story. The tale continues shortly after Death in Dulwich leaves off, making the book easy to pick up. There are plenty of references to the previous book to remind you what has happened before anyway.
The biggest plus point is how well the book tackles the sensitive issues within. Body image and the impact of social media are explored in detail. I particularly like how different characters in the book have various views on the struggle teenage girls’ experience. On the whole, the narrative has a balanced approach. This topic is completely different from the first book, so neither narrative nor setting is stale and repetitive.
The dynamic between characters is familiar, yet boundaries are tested in this second installment of the series. Inspector York has come to appreciate that in Dulwich, Beth has access to the inside scoop and enough curiosity to investigate to make his job easier. Where there was a reluctance to involve her in the previous case, now he calls upon her insight willingly.
One of my observations from Death in Dulwich is that there was little input from Inspector York into the narrative. Small sections are devoted to his viewpoint on the case, but they are few and far between. Whilst the sections in The Girl in the Gallery are still quite brief, York certainly has more of a voice and presence than before.
I really enjoyed reading both of these books and cannot wait to see what Calamity in Camberwell has in store! Once again, a huge thank you to both the author and Rachel for organising the tour! If you would like to read either book featured today, a copy can be purchased using the following links:-
Alternatively, the author is running a GIVEAWAY of a signed copy of each book via Rafflecopter. Please note that this is only available to UK residents at this time. See the Terms and Conditions below:-
*Terms and Conditions – UK entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter link above. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
About the Author
Before turning to a life of crime, Alice Castle was a UK newspaper journalist for The Daily Express, The Times and The Daily Telegraph. Her first book, Hot Chocolate, was a European best-seller which sold out in two weeks.
Alice is currently working on Calamity in Catford, the sequel to Death in Dulwich and The Girl in the Gallery. It’s the third instalment in the London Murder Mystery series and will be published by Crooked Cat next year. Once again, it features Beth Haldane and DI Harry York.
Alice is also a top mummy blogger, writing at DD’s Diary.
She lives in south London and is married with two children, two step-children and two cats.
Empire of Silence is classic space opera. Set approximately twenty thousand years in our future, humanity reigns across the galaxy, with seats on millions of worlds, on uncounted moons and asteroids, and even across the Dark between the stars. So what can you expect to see as you journey with Hadrian through the pages of this first adventure? What brave new worlds—and what people in them—will you encounter along the way? Here’s a quick rundown of five things you can expect for the world and worldbuilding in my novel.
WE’VE GOT THE EMPIRE, NOW AS THEN
More than sixteen thousand years old by the time our story begins, the Sollan Empire is the largest nation ever to exist. With the control of nearly half a billion habitable worlds and hundreds of trillions of people, it stretches all the way from the Perseus Arm at the outer rim of our galaxy towards the dense Norman Expanse near the center, carving out a wedge of human-controlled space in an uncaring cosmos. Interstellar travel being slow, the Empire is essentially feudal, each planetary system acting more or less independently, with minimal oversight from the Emperor (and minimal interference from his legions) in his palace at Forum. Each feudal territory—be it a moon, a planet, or an entire solar system—is under the command of one or many noble houses. These nobles are the beneficiaries of the finest genetic engineering: they’re stronger, smarter, better-looking, and they may live for centuries, ruling their respective worlds like tiny gods. Founded as they were out of a reaction to the abuses of artificial intelligence and other forms of high technology, the Sollan Empire tightly regulates access to anything more complicated than an automobile.
The Empire’s culture is self-consciously traditionalist. Built on the back of a human victory over their own machines, the first Sollans experienced a renaissance during which the ancient aesthetic and cultural traditions of our checkered past were revived as emblems of an age before our near extinction. Anything that smacks of the postmodern, the artificial, or the inhuman, is cast out or destroyed.
BUT WE ARE NOT ALONE
There may be billions of habitable worlds in the Milky Way, but if there are other civilizations, we have yet to hear from them. As humanity made its way into space, we discovered the answer to Fermi’s Paradox was rather simpler than we expected: we were early risers. Intelligent life is relatively rare in the cosmos. In nearly twenty thousand years of exploring deep space, we encountered dozens of intelligent species, but none of them had developed any technology more advanced than steel. Some of these species we uplifted, others enslaved. In all that time, we have only encountered one other species capable of star travel: the Cielcin. Like humanity, the Cielcin homeworld is lost, destroyed in the deeps of time. Unlike humanity, they have not settled other worlds, but set to roaming, wandering in the black of space inside ships hollowed out of asteroids: gathering fuel from gas giants, sucking water from comets, and harvesting planets for food—when they can find it. Roughly humanoid, they are carnivorous to a fault, and it is this need to eat that has driven them to assault human colonies. Entire cities are captured and butchered to feed their migratory hordes, leaving only smoking ruins in their wake. Because of their migratory nature, humanity has been forced to fight a defensive war for centuries, unable to find the aliens’ fleets in the dark of infinite space. For mankind, it’s been nothing but a series of losses and losing battles, punctuated by the odd, startling success…that is, until Hadrian Marlowe appeared.
BIOLOGY IS DESTINY
Hadrian Marlowe is a child of lords. A palatine. Born at the very top of the imperial caste system, he is the the beneficiary of dozens of generations of breeding and genetic engineering. Members of the palatine caste may live for centuries, with the very oldest and noblest families living as long as six or seven hundred years. They’re free from most diseases, taller, smarter, more attractive than their low-caste plebeian counterparts who—like you and I—are doomed to live a mere 80-some years with various health problems and insufficiencies. Between them are the patricians, low-caste people given gene therapies and other medical interventions in return for services rendered. Such patricians may live longer—some as many as three hundred years—and may even pass those inheritances on to their children, if their lords are gracious enough. But not all is well for our palatine overlords. Their genomes are so heavily modified, so idiosyncratic, that they cannot reproduce without scientific help. That’s all well and good. The palatine nobility wouldn’t want children the natural way to begin with, preferring instead to have their children in artificial wombs under the watchful eye of scientists. But they also cannot reproduce without imperial permission, as the keys that would allow each noble couple’s children to develop healthy are tightly controlled by the Emperor’s office. Thus the Emperor retains control of the noble houses: through their children.
NEVER TRUST ROBOTS
You won’t find any robots in the Sollan Empire (and if you do, you must report them to the Holy Terran Chantry at once). They’re forbidden. Long ago, before the foundation of the Empire, the ancient Mericanii were ruled by machines, vast artificial intelligences that governed Old Earth in its dying days. Those would have been humanity’s dying days as well, for our machine children turned against us, and it was only the actions of a few offworld colonies—led by the man who would become the Sollan Empire’s first Emperor—who delivered mankind from the machines. Never again, they vowed, would we make monsters out of metal and silicon. That’s where the Chantry comes in: part religious institution, part judicial apparatus, the Chantry polices the imperial world. Every citizen, from the lowliest serf to the Emperor himself, is subject to their inquiry. Their influence even stretches beyond imperial borders, into Jaddian space and amongst the Norman colonies. Though they police all manner of crimes-turned-sins, their primary charge is the hunting down and destruction of illegal technologies, especially any technologies with a glimmer of intelligence. Cybernetic implants are strictly forbidden, as the mixture of man and machine is considered the worst abomination of all.
But beyond the borders of the Empire—in the Dark between the stars—the Chantry’s power breaks down. Among the Extrasolarians (human pirates and barbarians that rejected imperial civilization) it is said the old, forbidden technologies still prosper. Perhaps the machines are not so dead as the priest-hunters of the Chantry believe.
THE SWORD IS MIGHTY
It was space travel that first revived the age of the sword. The delicate hulls of spacecraft and the presence of volatile chemicals made firearms a poor option, but it was the development of the Royse field that truly restored the sword to its rightful place in the hand of every soldier, mercenary, gentleman, and privateer. The force field sidelined traditional firearms, forcing common soldiers to adopt plasma weapons—whose ambient heat can pass through a Royse barrier—and melee weapons, which are slow enough to pass beneath a shield’s energy threshold. This revolutionized combat and reshaped human culture as we expanded into space. Most battles between human groups became fought on the ground or the air, most inter-ship weaponry having been made obsolete by the shield and by the blanket ban on artificial intelligence, and what space combat there is most often performed by boarding parties and by stealth. Just an importantly, the swords themselves improved. Highmatter is a form of programmable exotic matter discovered some millennia before Hadrian’s day. A kind of liquid metal, highmatter is used in some electronics and especially in spacecraft, but it is also used for swords. Highmatter swords can cut through almost anything. Their edges are programmed to an atom’s thickness, and they might cut steel or stone as easily as an arm or leg. The atoms of a highmatter blade are bonded together, making the sword essentially one massive molecule, and nigh unbreakable. The only defense against a highmatter sword is the long-chain carbon atoms that are found in starship hulls—or, of course, another highmatter sword.
About The Author
Christopher Ruocchio is the author of The Sun Eater, a space opera fantasy series from DAW Books, as well as the Assistant Editor at Baen Books, where he co-edited the military SF anthology Star Destroyers, as well as the upcoming Space Pioneers, a collection of Golden Age reprints showcasing tales of human exploration. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University, where a penchant for self-destructive decision making caused him to pursue a bachelor’s in English Rhetoric with a minor in Classics. An avid student of history, philosophy, and religion, Christopher has been writing since he was eight-years-old and sold his first book —Empire of Silence— at twenty-two. The Sun Eater series is available from Gollancz in the UK, and has been translated into French and German.
Christopher lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, where he spends most of his time hunched over a keyboard writing. When not writing, he splits his time between his family, procrastinating with video games, and his friend’s boxing gym. He may be found on both Facebook and Twitter at @TheRuocchio.
Guess who almost mixed up their dates for their slot on the blog tour for Chilling Tales of the Unexpected?
Yep, that would be me.
Normally I am so on-the-ball with checking these things – I have never been wrong before! The one time I don’t check before hitting publish on my Sunday Summary post, however, it’s a different story. At least I checked at all, so I am posting on the correct day!
My next blog tour is scheduled for the 14th July, so that is where I got muddled. Anyway, less about my epic failures and more about books, yes?
Four twisty, short reads.
Addictive works of suspense,
That will leave you breathless and give you goose bumps…
Trading with Death
What sacrifice might we make for those we love? In the face of death, will we be selfish or selfless?
Tell Me a Secret
Deceit, lies and secrets – how well do we know those close to us?
We follow Tess as she confronts the dark side…
Written on the Apple Tree
A moment from a past life, a possession, or a simple meeting between strangers?
*** I kindly received a copy of Chilling Tales of the Unexpected via Rachel’s Random Resources in exchange for an honest review. All opinions stated are my own***
These tales are a fabulous read when you have a few minutes to spare.
I usually find myself engrossed in epic tomes; books jam-packed full of detail and as solid as a brick. Seriously, I am not a small handbag girl…. anything less than War & Peace and the kitchen sink and I consider myself under-equipped. In complete contrast, I had forgotten how refreshing it is to have such a light, quick read whenever you have a cheeky five minutes! Hefty books are great if they are your thing – but you have to have the time to dedicate to them in order to make it work.
Each of the four stories within Chilling Tales of the Unexpected is broken down nicely, so each part takes no longer than ten minutes to read – if that! It makes it ideal for sneaking a few pages in before work, in your lunch hour… or even a quick read before bed (so long as you don’t have an overactive imagination at least!) Each part is paced in such a way as to keep each story moving forward without a clutter of unnecessary detail. This is essential for short stories because their structure requires a minimalist approach. I also think this was used in such a way as to hide plot twists until their due time.
If I had to choose, I think my favourite story was Tell Me A Secret. It’s a complex tale of trust, deception, and manipulation and in my opinion, struck up the best balance of plot/character development whilst keeping a concise narrative.
If Ann’s work as a psychotherapist inspired some of the character’s that feature in her stories, let me say that I am glad I lock my door at night! Each story is different from the next, but most have either unsavoury characters, involve death in one way or another, or both. What makes these stories unnerving is how close a “perpetrator” (for want of a word) is to the “victim”. Think about it too hard and you’ll start overthinking about the people in your life…
No seriously, don’t.
I really enjoyed this short collection of stories. If you enjoy genres like psychological thriller or crime then these tales should appeal to you.
Well-written and concise, yet not lacking for detail either, these are perfect for filling a few minutes of free time and then occupying your mind for the rest of the day! Perhaps not ideal for those with a vivid imagination, or trust issues.
Want to know more? I would love if you could also check out some other stops on the tour organised by Rachel’s Random Resources… or you can find out more about the author herself below:-
Born and educated in the UK, Ann Girdharry is a trained psychotherapist and has worked as a manager in the not-for-profit sector for many years.
Today she lives in Montpellier, France with her husband and two children.
She writes suspense and thrillers, is a book reviewer and occasionally blogs for the Huffington Post UK. Her crime thriller novel, GOOD GIRL BAD GIRL, was an Eric Hoffer Book Award Finalist 2017. Two of her thrillers are READERS’ FAVOURITE Five Star Books.
Good morning everyone!
I am delighted to be taking part in a Blog Tour today for The Ghost of Glendale, organised by Rachel’s Random Resources. Unfortunately due to my reading schedule I wasn’t able to read and review this title today, but I would encourage anyone interested in the book to check out the other stops on the tour!
About the Book
At twenty-four years old, Phoebe Marcham is resigned to spinsterhood, unwilling to settle for anything less than the deep love her parents had shared. That is, until adventurer Duncan Armstrong rides into her home wood, larger than life and with laughter in his eyes and more charm in his little finger than anyone she’s ever met before. Far from ridiculing her family ghost, Duncan resolves to help solve the mystery which has left Simon Marcham a spirit in torment for two hundred years.
About the Author
Natalie is a published novelist and short story writer whose addiction to the books of Georgette Heyer and love of The Regency have been the inspiration for her latest book, The Ghost of Glendale.
Working on the premise that you never stop learning, she goes to any and every writing event and workshop she can. In addition she attends The Write Place Creative Writing School in Hextable in Kent, one of the rewards for which is an abundant supply of cream cakes to celebrate the frequent successes of its students.
Natalie is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association, The Society of Authors and the Society of Women Writers and Journalists. She lives with her husband in southeast London.
If you would like to find out more about the book, or if you are interested in purchasing a copy, you can do so via Amazon.
Don’t forget, there are a number of lovely blogs involved in the tour so please check out their posts and their thoughts about The Ghost of Glendale.