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Extract and giveaway: Shattered Minds by Laura Lam

18 Jun

Today is my stop on the Shattered Minds blog tour. Thanks to fab publisher Macmillan, I have an exclusive extract from the book and a copy of the beautiful hardback to give away! Please do check out the other stops on the tour too – there’s an extract each day so start at the beginning and read on from there!

Laura Lam’s Shattered Minds stars a female ‘Dexter’ with a drug problem and a conscience, in a terrifying near-future where technology rules our lives and haunts our dreams.

shattered mindsShe can uncover the truth, if she defeats her demons

Ex-neuroscientist Carina struggles with a drug problem, her conscience, and urges to kill. She satisfies her cravings in dreams, fuelled by the addictive drug ‘Zeal’. Now she’s heading for self-destruction – until she has a vision of a dead girl.

Sudice Inc. damaged Carina when she worked on their sinister brain-mapping project, causing her violent compulsions. And this girl was a similar experiment. When Carina realizes the vision was planted by her old colleague Mark, desperate for help to expose the company, she knows he’s probably dead. Her only hope is to unmask her nemesis – or she’s next.

To unlock the secrets Mark hid in her mind, she’ll need a group of specialist hackers. Dax is one of them, a doctor who can help Carina fight her addictions. If she holds on to her humanity, they might even have a future together. But first she must destroy her adversary – before it changes us and our society, forever.

Extract

THREE

CARINA

The Zealscape, Green Star Lounge, Los Angeles,

California, Pacifica

Carina’s drug dreams always begin the same way.

She’s back in Greenview House. Her father bought it even though it was far too big for three people, outside Woodside, California, less than an hour by hovercar out of San Francisco. Nothing but trees surrounded that house that would become a crypt. She couldn’t wait to leave, and now, eight years later, she still can’t escape it.

Carina walks through the empty hallways, her footsteps echoing. Nothing exists outside of the house in the Zealscape, not really, and the windows only look out into a grey fog. All her dreams and nightmares take place in its various rooms. Even if the rooms can expand into streets or forests, no matter how vast, she can turn a corner and step back into those familiar corridors. She tried to change the Zealscape program to another setting, but in the end, her subconscious is too tied to Greenview House and everything that happened here.

She opens the door to the room where she last saw the young girl and the doctor she knows from earlier nightmares. They are nowhere to be seen.

‘Anyone here?’ she calls. ‘Come out, come out, wherever you are!’

Silence.

Carina turns away. Needing her fix, she creates her first victim, bringing him to life on a table before her, prepped just as she wishes. Half the fun is the hunt, but when she first plugs in, there’s never the patience for it. It’s an appetizer of violence before the more leisurely meal.

Carina has a very specific type, here in the Zealscape. She kills criminals, perpetrators of terrible, fictional crimes. They are usually men, middle-aged, cocky in their assurance that they are getting away with their wrongdoings. She has killed women, for a bit of variety, often ‘angel of death’ types. Never children or teenagers – which is why the vision of the girl was so damn jarring.

Where had that come from?

The Zealscape is where Carina lets it all out so that those people out in the real world, those strangers who seem as insubstantial as her dream creations, are safe from her. She has killed hundreds of figments within these walls over the last six months. Used almost every weapon. Killed quickly. And slowly. The one constant is that she never tires of it.

The man pushes against his bonds, the whites of his eyes showing. Carina has created him a serial killer, like her, but he preys on the innocent. He buries young boys beneath his house, like John Wayne Gacy. He’s not real, but he deserves death.

Her fingers itch and she moves closer. His chains rattle as his struggles grow more frantic. A desperate, delicious gurgling bubbles from his throat. Her fingers tingle in anticipation, and her heartbeat quickens.

Carina doesn’t speak to her victims. She did in the beginning, trying to make these fabrications of her imagination understand what she was about to do to them. It grew dull, unlike the act of killing.Carina sometimes finds her situation amusing, when she’s coherent enough for amusement. The government doles out unlimited Zeal to keep criminals off the streets, yet offers them an unlimited playground to hone their criminal skills. With chronic Zealot mortality rates as high as eighty per cent, however, the government doesn’t have much to fear.

Closing her eyes to concentrate, she opens them to a long, thin knife resting in her hands. There are some weapons she prefers – the knife is particularly instinctual, personal, whereas the gun is too distant, even if the kickback and the crack are satisfying.

Carina hefts the knife.

The man below her is in his physical prime, muscled as a wrestler. He’s strong, the chains binding him straining with each pull. Her usual type is older, paunchier. Though she still buzzes with the need to kill, she forces herself to slow down, at least a little. She runs the knife tip along his skin next to the bonds. A tear slides down his cheek. She wipes it away with her thumb, then brings her fingertip to her mouth, tasting the salt. It feels real. Real enough.

His pain and fear feeds her, as if she grows larger from it. Only here, when the blood runs onto the white floor, does she feel alive any more. Carina is not that wreck of a woman strapped to a Chair in the Zealot room, suffering from mouth sores and malnutrition. That woman is the ghost.

The man whimpers again. Carina relishes the sound for a moment, then stands and thrusts the knife into his throat. Blood spurts from the punctured artery, painting her face red. She leans her head back, holding the hilt tighter, pressing down hard. All too soon the gurgles stop. She has not given this man a name, or imagined what life he might have lived outside his crimes. His eyes are wide, his mouth open in shock. She takes her hands away from the hilt. Her hands stop shaking. Carina sits next to the body, closing her eyes, breathing in the iron tang of blood.

She’s euphoric after the kill, and these brief moments before the craving returns are the only times she feels even remotely like her pre-Zeal self. Guilt bleeds in around the edges, even if she can’t regret that glee of the kill.

A few years ago, Carina had this under control. An occasional impulse she could push back and ignore. Nothing bubbled to the surface; it hadn’t since she was a teenager. She’d seemed like a perfectly functioning member of society. A great career, a promising future. And then, slowly but surely, it had all unravelled. A Zeal trip here or there. Once a month. Then twice a month. Weekly. By the time she’d left Sudice, it’d been every other day.

Now, she rarely leaves. She doesn’t trust herself out there. A wolf among sheep who’d never see her coming.

When she opens her eyes, the body is gone. A benefit of dream worlds: no clean up. No fear of being discovered dumping the body. No fear of discovery at all.

Dealing with the orderly’s accusing eyes is the only judgement she faces, and one she never fears.

She holds onto her sense of self, staying calm and collected. Replete. The mind of the scientist is back. She wanders the imaginary halls of her childhood home, peeking through the doors: the old home gym, her mother’s bedroom, preserved just as it was the last time she left it and never returned. Her teenage room, with its holographic band posters and unmade bed, reeking of a desperate attempt at normalcy.

All too soon, that buzz returns. Her fingers twitch. That delicious expectation of following her victim and their moves: where they’ll be, how she’ll take them and make them hers. Her thoughts turn only to blood and flayed muscles. Of taking out organs and hefting them in her hands, arranging them just so.

Here in the Zealscape, she can lose herself in the hunt as much as she wants. Here, she hurts only herself, as more and more of her body wastes away, strapped in the Chair in the Zeal lounge. Her body warms, thrums with excitement. She whispers Zeal’s newest catchphrase to herself: ‘More real than reality.’

Carina enters another room. In the real Greenview House, it was a guest bedroom and study, but now it is her planning room. One wall is blank, and she can visualize and design her next victim. She decides to go back to her roots: a distorted echo of her first target. Carina builds the man from scratch. Early fifties, a beer gut, hair and beard of greying brown. Hard eyes, an unhappy slash of a mouth. Large hands that make blocky fists. He is different enough that the sight of his face doesn’t make her shudder. She feels awareness sharpening. She’s growing closer. Her fingers twitch.

After creating him, she sends him away. She spends a few minutes programming his background – his job, his friends, sketches of his wife and family. This criminal has a penchant for child porn. She can again pretend it’s vengeance, not pure, selfish pleasure. Most Zealots don’t have such control over their drug-fuelled dreams. Then again, most people don’t have PhDs in neuroprogramming.

She can’t wait any more. Her skin is hot with need.

Carina walks through a door on the far side of the room and steps into a hallway that transitions seamlessly into a street. She follows her prey at a distance, watching the greying head bob as he walks. Her jaw is clenched tight. She barely blinks. The other people on the street are only vaguely human- shaped, with blurred ovals for faces. Nightmares for anyone else, but for her, just stand-ins.

Carina grasps a Stunner she conjured in her pocket. Sometimes she’ll stretch out the hunt – stalk them for longer, make their lives more detailed, lose herself in the fantasy – but she can’t today. Her breath catches in her throat. Her eyes in the Chair, back in reality, dilate behind closed eyelids. Almost time. Almost time to feel alive again, for a little while.

She’s just taken out the Stunner in a quivering hand when it happens.

The street disappears, along with her quarry. Just gone, as if someone has hit a switch. The whole room turns black. No, darker – that blackness of the space between stars. There have been glitches in the system before, but Carina knows, with a deep certainty, that this is something more.

She’s lost the sense that she has a body. Her mind seems to float in the darker-than-darkness. Then light explodes back into her world.

Numbers, sounds, flashes of brightness, the feel of fingernails against her skin, of bubbles on her tongue. All her senses fragment and blur. Between the overloads is a snapshot of cohesive thought.

I’m dying. This is what dying must feel like.

The noise and the chaos begins to crystallize. Five images, over and over: A bee, buzzing, its wings flapping frantically, its antennae twitching. A rose, in full bloom; brilliantly, impossibly red, a drop of dew on one petal. A thorn, from the rose, its point curved and wicked. A drop of blood, welling on a fingertip. And eyes, staring right at her, wide and fathomless. Heterochromic – one green, one blue. They play, over and over and over again, telling a narrative she cannot hope to understand.

And then they stop, though she can still sense them, as though the images are flashing just out of sight.

The last image, the mismatched eyes, takes over her entire vision. It zooms out, until Carina sees the rest of the face, and then a body on a Chair in that lab she recognizes all too well. The last vision had been through the girl’s viewpoint, but Carina is sure this is her. She’s young – fifteen, sixteen at a push. She’s all doe-eyed innocence, spindly, coltish legs, her hair half an inch long. She reminds Carina a little too much of herself as a teenager. The girl is dead.

Part of her short hair has been shaved away. Dr Roz Elliot has opened up her skull, poked about in the contents, and sewn it back up, yet dead flesh does not knit. Her tanned skin is pale and chalky, legs akimbo.

‘What did you do, Roz?’ Carina asks the darkness.

The dead girl does not answer. Her eyes are open and staring. One blue, one green.

As if Carina blinks, the image is gone, and all is darker than black once again.

Giveaway!

I have one hardback copy of Shattered Minds to give away.

To enter this giveaway,  just leave comment in the box below or re-Tweet one of my tweets about this giveaway or like one of my posts about this giveaway on my Instagram page.

I’ll pick a winner using Random.org after the closing date.

This giveaway is open to UK residents only and will close at midnight on Friday 23rd June.

Good Luck!

 

Extract and Giveaway! The Space Between the Stars by Anne Corlett

2 Jun

Today I’m very excited to host the blog tour for The Space Between Stars by Anne Corlett. This is Anne’s debut novel and it’s an excellent read! Anne has an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University and has won a number of awards for her short stories, including the H. E. Bates Award. She works as a criminal solicitor and freelance writer, and lives with her partner and three young boys in Somerset. Read on for an exclusive extract and a chance to win a copy.

9781509833528How far would you travel to find your way home?

Jamie Allenby wakes, alone, and realises her fever has broken. But could everyone she knows be dead? Months earlier, Jamie had left her partner Daniel, mourning the miscarriage of their baby. She’d just had to get away, so took a job on a distant planet. Then the virus hit.

Jamie survived as it swept through our far-flung colonies. Now she feels desperate and isolated, until she receives a garbled message from Earth. If someone from her past is still alive – perhaps Daniel – she knows she must find a way to return.

She meets others seeking Earth, and their ill-matched group will travel across space to achieve their dream. But they’ll clash with survivors intent on repeating humanity’s past mistakes, threatening their precious fresh start. Jamie will also get a second chance at happiness. But can she escape her troubled past, to embrace a hopeful future?

Extract – Chapter 2

Jamie hesitated before pushing the front door open.

‘Hello?’

Her voice cracked. She swallowed and tried again. ‘Mr Cranwell?’

That sounded childishly formal. ‘Jim?’

The kitchen was tidier than usual. His daughter used to invite her in for a cup of tea sometimes.

‘Cathy?’

Even the washing-up had been cleared away. An image flared in her head. Cathy, leaning heavily on the kitchen side, drying cups and stacking them slowly away, refusing to acknowledge the pointlessness of the task. One cupboard door was ajar, with a broken dish nearby. Maybe she’d crawled to her bed, like Jamie had. But Cathy’s bed wouldn’t have been empty. She would have climbed in and wrapped her arms around her children, breathing in their contagion, not knowing any other way of being.

Jamie walked down the hallway to a white-painted door. She stepped into a bright, airy room with doors opening onto the grass behind the house. Dust flecks drifted in the slanting sunlight.

Dust.

The sheets were grey with it, the covers tipped into a tangle on the floor.

There wasn’t much. Not when you thought of the measure of a person.

Three people.

You’d have imagined there’d be more heft to a human life. Jamie stood for a moment, watching the slow play of light and dust, then stepped backwards into the corridor and closed the door behind her.

Upstairs, she checked each door until she found a bareboarded room, furnished with just a bed and a chest of drawers. There was a cross on the wall and a sprawl of abandoned clothes on the floor, topped with Jim Cranwell’s belt, the one his grandchildren had bought him, with the buckle shaped like a running horse.

The covers were drawn up, almost as though the bed had been made, and the pillow was dusted with grey.

Back outside, Jamie leaned against the wall and closed her eyes. There was a pushiness to the sun’s warmth.

Come on, come on. Things to do, things to know.

When she opened her eyes, her gaze fell on one of the crofts down beyond the barn. She stared at it for a moment, and then pushed herself upright and set off across the yard.

Her circuit of the station took longer than it should have done. The virus had diminished her. She checked the six crofts, as well as the dorm that housed the younger farmhands. Some were as tidy as the main house, while others bore signs of an occupant who’d done everything they could not to go quietly into the night. But there were no signs of life, and everywhere she went, she saw dust motes drifting in the uncaring sunlight.

When she was done she went back to her own croft. Her skin felt dry and scuffed, and she found herself rubbing at her palms, as though that dust was clinging to her skin.

Suddenly she was on her knees, folded over, forehead pressed to the floor as though she was praying. Which way did Muslims pray? Towards Mecca. How did they know which way that was, all these millions of miles away?

Her thoughts were twisting tighter and tighter until there was nowhere to go but to the place she’d been trying to avoid. She shouldn’t be alive. Somehow the little world had got lucky. Was there any realistic chance that its luck had held more than once? And if not . . .

No.

There were other worlds. There’d be other survivors.

But the statistics were wrong here. What if they were wrong elsewhere? Her thoughts unwound again, spinning out beyond the walls of the croft, beyond the skies, out into the endlessness of space. An empty universe, with just one pinpoint of life, curled and numb on a dusty floor.

She fought for control. She knew there were survivors. The emergency messages had been clear.

Terminal in almost all cases.

The Space Between The Stars by Anne Corlett is published by Pan Macmillan, 1 June 2017, £12.99 hardback

Giveaway!

I have one beautiful hardback copy of The Space Between Stars to give away to a lucky reader.

To enter this giveaway,  just leave comment in the box below or re-Tweet one of my tweets about this giveaway or like one of my posts about this giveaway on my Instagram page.

I’ll pick a winner using Random.org after the closing date.

This giveaway is open to UK residents only and will close at midnight on Wednesday 7th June. Good Luck!

Exclusive Extract: Making Space by Sarah Tierney

26 May

It’s my stop on the Making Space blog tour today and I have an extract from the book to share with you. Making Space is Sarah Tierney’s debut novel. Sarah is a graduate of the MA in Novel Writing at Manchester University, and her short story, ‘Five Miles Out’, was made into a short film by the acclaimed director Andrew Haigh. Sarah has worked as a journalist, editor and copywriter. She lives in Derbyshire with her husband and daughter.

making spaceWhy do we hold onto things we don’t need? And let go of the things we do? Miriam is twenty-nine: temping, living with a flatmate who is no longer a friend, and still trying to find her place in life. She falls in love with Erik after he employs her to clear out his paper-packed home. They are worlds apart: he is forty-five, a successful photographer and artist and an obsessive hoarder still haunted by the end of his marriage. Miriam has an unsuccessful love life and has just got rid of most of her belongings. Somehow, they must find a way to reach each other.

Extract

There was a time when I wore t-shirts with band names on them and patterned dresses with big boots. At some point, though, this style had become no good. It was too teenage, too studenty so I’d replaced it with the Next jumpers and the boot cut jeans, and these work clothes; silk-lined suits, stiff ironed shirts, plain black trousers, which felt like a costume every time I put them on: Now I’m going to dress like someone with an office job. And thinking about it, so did the other two sections of my wardrobe. Now I’m going to dress like a girl desperate for attention. Now like a girl desperate to be ignored.

I put them all in the corner marked ‘charity’. Then I started on my books. I had a lot. They filled two bookcases and were stacked in piles against the wall. Some were from university. TV criticism, film scripts, biographies of directors and actors. Others dated back to my late teens Jane Eyre, The Great Gatsby, Lolita, On the Road, and so on. Over the years, my tastes had become less literary. Many of my more recent purchases featured vampires. My DVDs followed a similar pattern. At uni I’d chosen films by director. Now I preferred to watch HBO box sets. You could wipe out an entire weekend with a twelve–episode series, emerging on Monday morning with no hangover, just a vague sense of dislocation in the world.

I put a few in the corner named ‘sell’ and the rest in ‘charity’. Then I moved the sell ones to charity as well. I didn’t want them hanging around for months while I waited for someone to buy them off Amazon.

I worked my way through the whole room like that, sorting through my shoes, my make-up, my knick-knacks. There was a box under my bed full of old letters, birthday cards, and photographs. I pulled it out and took off the lid, then suddenly lost heart. I called my sister Susie then, to ask if she’d give me a lift to a charity shop tomorrow. Most of my belongings were in that corner, and the one labelled ‘bin’. Almost all, in fact.

By the time I’d finished, Jessica and Gareth had gone out. It was a Friday night. I ate a bowl of cold curry in the kitchen then got ready for bed.

I didn’t have any pyjamas to change into and taking them out of the bin bag felt wrong, like I’d broken a promise. I left them where they were and got under the covers naked. I never did that if I was on my own.

The next morning Susie arrived at just past nine, the only gap she had in her Saturday schedule. She had her phone in one hand, car keys in the other, but still managed to grab my arm when she saw all my stuff packed up in my room. ‘I thought you meant just a few bags. Are you finally moving out of this student flat?’

‘“Young professionals”. Neither of us are students.’

‘Sorry. “Young professionals”. So, where are you going?’

‘Nowhere. I’m having a clear-out.’

‘Of everything you own?’

I gave her a bin bag of clothes to take down to her car. Susie was three years older than me but it always felt like more. She had married Tom when she was nineteen. They’d had two children by the time she was twenty-four. She’d never been to uni and done the living with friends thing or the staying in bed till 1 pm on a Tuesday thing. As a result, she looked at my life like it was something quirky and strange and not quite serious. As if it was a fanciful project I was involved in, rather than an actual adult existence.

She once asked me why I hadn’t settled down with a decent man, as if decent men came along all the time and offered to set up home with me, and I was just giggling and batting them away. Both my sister and my mum veered between treating me like a child and getting annoyed that I wasn’t more grown-up. Today, for example, Susie would happily take over the whole charity shop operation, then later tell me to get my driver’s licence so I didn’t have to rely on her to help out. It was confusing to be mollycoddled one minute then told to sharpen up the next.

Making Space is out now in paperback and ebook formats from Sandtone Press.

Guest post: Triplets in Pop Culture By Carla Caruso

25 May

I’m delighted to welcome author Carla Caruso back to One More Page today. Carla was born in Adelaide, Australia, and only ‘escaped’ for three years to work as a magazine journalist and stylist in Sydney. Previously, she was a gossip columnist and fashion editor at Adelaide’s daily newspaper, The Advertiser. She has since freelanced for titles including Woman’s Day and Shop Til You Drop. These days, she plays mum to twin lads Alessio and Sebastian with hubby James.Visit www.carlacaruso.com.au. to find out more about Carla and her writing.

Carla Caruso, author pic, HarperCollinsHi. My name’s Carla Caruso and I’m an Aussie author of several romance and rom-com novels. My latest one is Run for the Hills, out today in ebook with Harlequin Escape, yay!

The story revolves around a runaway bride who escapes to a small town and winds up working for triplet wedding photographers. Yup, triplets. Naturally, one in particular catches her eye…

Ever since I’ve had twin boys (now three years old!), I’ve had a penchant for including ‘multiple birth’ characters in my tales. Which got me pondering multiple-birth characters in pop culture. And while I can think of plenty famous twins (fictional or otherwise)—hello Bros, Sweet Valley’s Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield, and The Simpsons’ Patty and Selma—I was scratching my head to think up many such triplets.

So I thought I’d do some digging and see what I could come up with. Here’s a bit of list, as below. While it may not be as exhaustive as it would be for well-known twins, it shows that sometimes three can be even better than two…!

  • In the Disney flick, Parent Trap 3, tricky teen triplets (played by Leanna, Monica and Joy Creel) try to match their father with an interior decorator (Hayley Mills) who has a twin. When I watched this movie in the eighties, I wanted to BE one of the gorgeous, curly-haired Creel triplets! Each of the characters has a distinct identity: ‘Lisa’ is the wild and fun one, ‘Jessie’ the quiet but sweet one, and ‘Megan’ the nice and truthful one.
  • Heard of Huey, Dewey and Louie Duck? Well, who really realised that the trio of animated ducks are identical triplets? The threesome reside with their famed uncle, Donald Duck, in the fictional city of Duckburg and can be a little wild and unruly. Rather than each being very different like the aforementioned Creel triplets, a running joke sees the ducklings finishing each other’s sentences as they’re so identical in appearance and personality. However, you can tell them apart by the colour of their outfits—Huey is known for dressing in red, Dewey in blue, and Louie in green.
  • In TV sitcom Friends, Phoebe agrees to be a surrogate for her bro and his wife who can’t conceive – and ends up carrying fraternal triplets. There are some funny lines when the trio arrive on the scene, such as, “I like the middle one best!” and “Don’t worry I won’t let the other two know.” After the labour, Phoebe has a heart-to-heart solo with her new nieces and nephew and says she wishes she could take them all home, but will settle for being their fave aunt. Then the four of them cry together. Pass the tissues!
  • Recall the 1988 movie, Twins, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito as a mismatched duo? Well, the pair are working on a sequel called—you guessed it—Triplets, and it’ll reportedly star Eddie Murphy as a third brother!

Enough triplet trivia for you? Well, I did mention my new ebook features triplet brothers, and you can read more about it here: www.escapepublishing.com.au/product/9781489241474  ;)

Thanks kindly for reading!

Thanks Carla!

Run for the Hills by Carla Caruso is released today in ebook formats from Escape Publishing.

RunForTheHills-C CarusoThe Belshaw brothers are back in Balkissoch…

Bridie Porter is wearing her Vera Wang gown and veil in the back of her wedding limo when she receives a compromising text about her hotelier groom. Panicked, she tells the driver to keep going and she flees from Melbourne to the small town of Balkissoch in the Adelaide Hills.

It’s the perfect pit-stop to hide from her ex and the press and to earn enough cash to stay out of sight. Unfortunately, the admin job she gets is for a wedding photography business and she’s had her fill of weddings lately. But it’s slim pickings on the work front in a town so teeny. And her new boss is strangely compelling…

After the rush and adrenaline of his job as an LA paparazzo, the last place Cody Belshaw wants to be is back in the small town where he grew up. But thanks to a clause in his father’s will that amounts to blackmail, Cody and his two brothers are stuck running a wedding business for at least a month. If there’s one thing that he’s learned in LA, however, it’s to keep business and pleasure very, very separate. Which makes his new admin employee the definition of temptation.

Bridie is desperate to stay anonymous. Cody seeks out secrets for a living. As they delve into the world of brides, boutonnières and dogs-as-best-men, both Cody and Bridie will have to decide if this is a fling…or forever

Event news: Brilliant Quirk Books events 26th-29th May!

21 May

As regular readers will know, I’m a huge fan of Quirk books (read my review of the brilliant Geekerella to see what I mean!) and I’m very excited to share with you that Quirk books have an action-packed set of events to entertain you this Bank Holiday weekend!

 MCM ComicCon

First of all, why don’t you stop off at MCM ComicCon London? One minute, get your photo taken with Archie from Riverdale or The Hulk, the next, head to Author Corner and listen to awesome women in publishing talk about comics, amazing women in history, and twisted fairytales.

http://www.mcmcomiccon.com/london/attractions/author-corner/

IMG_8061

 

Waterstones Piccadily

Then, head to the book heaven that is Waterstones Piccadilly on Monday, 29th May for an evening of book chat and wine, plus the chance to grab swag and win awesome prizes.

https://www.waterstones.com/events/bookpop-with-ashley-poston-hope-norton-and-sam-maggs/london-piccadilly

*Quirk Books will not accept responsibility for overstimulated minds and having too much fun in one go.

Book extract: Island of Secrets by Patricia Wilson

21 May

Today I’m very pleased to share an extract from Patricia Wilson’s new novel, Island of Secrets, with you. After running her own business for twenty years, Patricia took early retirement and moved to the Greek island of Crete. When she dug up a rusted machine gun in her garden, and the inhabitants of her remote mountain village came with local stories of tragedy and triumph, she knew she had to tell their account of what really happened in September 1943, which became Island of Secrets. Patricia now lives on the island of Rhodes where she is researching and writing her second novel.

Island of SecretsThe story started at dawn on the fourteenth of September, 1943 . . .’

All her life, London-born Angelika has been intrigued by her mother’s secret past. Now planning her wedding, she feels she must visit the remote Crete village her mother grew up in.

Angie’s estranged elderly grandmother, Maria, is dying. She welcomes Angie with open arms – it’s time to unburden herself, and tell the story she’ll otherwise take to her grave.

It’s the story of the Nazi occupation of Crete during the Second World War, of horror, of courage and of the lengths to which a mother will go to protect her children. And it’s the story of bitter secrets that broke a family apart, and of three enchanting women who come together to heal wounds that have damaged two generations.

Extract 

The village of Amiras stilled, like a theatre waiting for the curtain to rise. Heat shimmered from the cobbled streets. In front of the kafenion, empty chairs stood in haphazard groups between square tables. Outside the closed supermarket, hessian olive sacks hung over boxes of potatoes and vegetables, protecting them from the fierce Mediterranean light.

A herd of long-haired goats shifted into the shadow of the hilltop chapel. For a few seconds, the dull clatter of their bells broke the peace and quiet of siesta time.

In the lower village, a blue door squeaked open and a wide hipped, middle-aged housewife hurried up the narrow streets. From the shade of a vermillion bougainvillea, a skinny white cat sniffed the air, narrowed its eyes and watched the woman.

Inside one cottage, an elderly couple sat as still and silent as the stone walls. A crucifix hung over a garish icon of Saint George. The martyr seemed distracted from his dragon slaying by an object in the livingroom. A chocolate box overflowed with photographs, letters and mementoes in the centre of a low round table.

The old woman, Maria, reached for a faded picture of Poppy cradling her baby. She studied the image and recalled Poppy’s last words, still fresh in her ears, although decades had passed.

Forget me, Mama. Forget I ever existed.

A shaft of sunlight streamed through the window illuminating Maria’s scarred hands – an ugly reminder of the fire. It took so much time for those wounds to heal.

Her wizened face hardened with a decision.

‘I will write to them, Vassili,’ she said to her husband sitting by the fireplace. ‘Voula can help me.’ She replaced the picture and closed the box. ‘God’s getting impatient, and I’m tired of it all.’ She crossed herself three times and prayer locked her arthritic fingers.

Vassili nodded as though he understood, but passing years had eroded his grief. He dropped his amber worry beads and hobbled to her side.

‘Don’t waste your thoughts on what’s dead and gone, old woman.’ He kissed her forehead.

Despite his words, scenes from the past returned and filled Maria’s head.

‘I can’t forget,’ she whispered, staring at ghosts that crowded into the whitewashed room.

Vassili followed her gaze, unable to see those who haunted her.

Recognising his confusion, Maria wished the spores of old age would moulder her mind too. Regrets were useless now. The time had come for forgiveness and, before she died, Maria hoped to touch the cheek of Poppy’s child.

‘Angelika has a right to know the truth, old man, she’s our granddaughter.’

‘Mama, Papa, your dinner’s here.’ Voula crashed through the doorway, the multi-coloured fly curtain whipping around her faded black dress. She gripped a casserole pot against her belly and grinned, her face a friendly gargoyle.

‘No need to shout, Voula, we’re not deaf,’ Maria said.

Vassili cupped a hand behind his ear. ‘Eh, what’s that? Ah, the food. No chance of any meat I suppose? I’ll be glad when Lent’s over. I can smell the lamb already.’ He shuffled to the kitchen table.

‘Only a few more days until Easter, Papa. I’ve made stuffed peppers. Will you have a glass of Demitri’s wine?’ Voula clattered the dishes and then helped Maria out of the armchair. ‘Anything else?’ she asked, pouring cloudy red krasí into tumblers before serving their meals.

Maria cut open a green pepper, hunched over her plate and sniffed the food.

Voula stopped bustling and watched Maria taste the rice stuffing flavoured with herbs, currants, and pine nuts. When she approved with a nod, Voula took a breath and smiled.

‘I want to write to Poppy and Angelika,’ Maria said flatly.

Voula’s eyes widened. She glanced around the table top and then at Vassili who guzzled his food. ‘Are you sure, Mama?’ She lowered her voice to a whisper. ‘What if it starts up again, the trouble, after all these years? Isn’t it better to forget? We can’t bring back the dead.’

‘No,’ Maria said, her face drawn and thin above the mound of colourful vegetables. ‘I’ve decided.’

***

The next day, Voula asked, ‘How do you want to start the letter, Mama?’ Her pencil poised over a child’s exercise book.

Maria grunted. ‘I’ve thought about it for hours. The beginning is the most difficult part. If it’s not perfect, they’ll screw it up and throw it away. We’ve got one chance at this, Voula. We should address the envelope to Angelika and put both letters in it. Otherwise, I fear her mother might tear it up unopened. Now, let’s see, how shall we begin?’

‘I know, what about: Dear Angelika?’

Maria rolled her eyes. She wondered if her daughter-in-law had lost more of her marbles in sixty-five years than Maria had in ninety. ‘Yes, very good, Voula,’ she snorted. ‘And then?’

Voula lifted and dropped her shoulders, which made her breasts quiver against her belly.

‘Write this then,’ Maria said. ‘I have wanted to send you a letter for a long time. I hoped to see you before I die, but I realise our meeting is unlikely.’

‘Mama!’

‘Oh, face the facts, Voula; I’m on my way out. Let’s get on with the letter before the Angel Gabriel replaces you as my personal assistant.’

Voula scratched her lip and nodded.

‘Now, write this, Voula: Angelika, please tell your mother I have never stopped loving her. Put your arms around her and kiss her from me. Poppy is in my heart. Say that I am sorry. Truly sorry. If I could have changed things, I would.’

‘Mama, how do we know Angelika reads Greek?’

‘We have to trust Poppy will have taught her. Anyway, we can ask Demitri to translate for us. What shall we write next? Perhaps something about Angelika’s father.’ Maria tilted her head to one side. ‘Yeorgo,’ she sighed. ‘Wasn’t he a beautiful man, Voula?’ Silent for a moment, Maria’s eyes glazed. ‘That’s another difficult part. I wonder if Angelika knows.’

Island of Secrets is out now in paperback and ebook formats.

Find out more about Patricia and her writing at: www.pmwilson.net

Event write up: #OrionBlogFest

15 May

IMG_7955At the end of April I attended the #OrionBlogFest. I felt very lucky to be among the bloggers and booksellers in attendance and it was brilliant to hear first-hand from the teams at Orion, Gollancz and W&N about the exciting new fantasy and sci-fi books that are coming out in the next six months. The teams’ enthusiasm for their authors and books was impressive and infectious and as a result my wish list has grown massively!IMG_7963

The event started with fab Stranger Things themed food and cakes – look at the cakes!!Then it was into one minute pitches for upcoming releases. These were so much fun and the addition of a timer and buzzer kept everyone on their toes.

Here are my hot picks from those pitched:

IMG_7957The House of Shattered Wings series by Aliette de Bodard (out now)

The second book in this magical urban fantasy series The House of Binding Thorns has just been released and both books sound excellent!

Paris in the aftermath of the Great Magicians War. Its streets are lined with haunted ruins, Notre-Dame is a burnt-out shell, and the Seine runs black, thick with ashes and rubble. Yet life continues among the wreckage. The citizens retain their irrepressible appetite for novelty and distraction, and The Great Houses still vie for dominion over France’s once grand capital. House Silverspires, previously the leader of those power games, now lies in disarray. Its magic is ailing; its founder, Morningstar, has been missing for decades; and now something from the shadows stalks its people inside their very own walls. Within the House, three very different people must come together: a naive but powerful Fallen, an alchemist with a self-destructive addiction, and a resentful young man wielding spells from the Far East. They may be Silverspires’ salvation; or the architects of its last, irreversible fall . . .

The Switch by Justina Robson (18th May) IMG_7958

Science, magic and politics come together in the pursuit of a perfect ‘model’ society. I can’t wait to read this one!

In Harmony, only model citizens are welcome.

A perfect society must be maintained. The defective must be eradicated. For orphans like Nico and Twostar, this means a life that’s brutal, regulated and short.

But Nico and Twostar are survivors, and when they’re offered a way out of the slums, they take it.

Unfortunately, no one told Nico the deal included being sentenced to death for the murder of one of Harmony’s most notorious gang leaders.

Or that to gain his freedom, first he must lose his mind.

IMG_7959The Falcolner trilogy by Elizabeth May

I can’t believe this was the first I’d heard of this series – it sounds right up my street! The final book, The Fallen Kingdon will be out in June so I grabbed a copy of book one (pictured) and I’m looking forward to starting it soon.

Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, was destined for a life carefully planned around Edinburgh’s social events – right up until a faery killed her mother.

Now it’s the 1844 winter season and Aileana slaughters faeries in secret, in between the endless round of parties, tea and balls. Armed with modified percussion pistols and explosives, she sheds her aristocratic facade every night to go hunting. She’s determined to track down the faery who murdered her mother, and to destroy any who prey on humans in the city’s many dark alleyways.

But the balance between high society and her private war is a delicate one, and as the fae infiltrate the ballroom and Aileana’s father returns home, she has decisions to make. How much is she willing to lose – and just how far will Aileana go for revenge?

Crosstalk by Connie Willis (10 August 2017)crosstalk

Described as Sliding Doors meets Rainbow Rowell, this one went straight onto my wish list!

Briddey is about to get exactly what she thinks she wants . . .

Briddey is a high-powered exec in the mobile phone industry, overseeing new products from concept (‘anything to beat the new apple phone’) to delivery. And she works with her wonderful partner, Trent. They’ve been together for six magical weeks, in a whirlwind of flowers, dinners, laughter and now comes the icing on the cake: not a weekend away or a proposal but something even better. An EDD. A procedure which will let them sense each other’s feelings. Trent doesn’t just want to tell her how much he loves her – he wants her to feel it.

Everything is perfect.

The trouble is, Briddey can’t breathe a word of it to anyone (difficult, when the whole office is guessing) until she’s had two minutes to call her family. And they’re hounding her about the latest family drama, but when they find out about the EDD – which they will – they’ll drop everything to interrogate her. And it might just be easier to have the procedure now and explain later.

The race is on: not just for new, cutting-edge technology, but also for a shred of privacy in a public world and – for Briddey – a chance for love at the heart of it all.

IMG_7961Three other books to look out for coming later in the year are: Sweet Dreams are Made of this by Tricia Sullivan, a book about Dreamhacking – the ability to enter someone’s dreams and influence them, which is out in September;  Mirror Mirror by Clara Delevinge  and The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli (proof pictured), both out in October. I’m so excited for Autumn reading already!

We then got to hear from three authors about their exciting new releases;  Joanne M Harris, Dan Vyletta and Ed McDonald made up a fabulous panel and it was so interesting to hear them speak about their books and their writing.

Following a book grab, pizza and signing break we were treated to a skype interview with  Kristen Ciccarelli whose gorgeous proof (above) was one of the highlights of the evening for me and was exclusively revealed to us at the event.

As a child, Asha’s mother told her ancient, forbidden stories to drive away her nightmares – and the telling of them killed her. And when Asha repeated those stories, they summoned an ancient dragon which almost destroyed her city, and left Asha horribly scarred. Ever since, she has protected her city and people (and tried to make amends) by dragon-slaying. And now she may have a way to both atone for the deaths she caused and to escape an arranged marriage: her father will free her, in exchange for the head of Kovu, the ancient dragon. And the only obstacle in her path is a defiant slave-boy . .

The night ended with a bookish quiz and I went home one very happy blogger. I’d like to say a huge thank you to Stevie and the team at Orion for putting on such a fab event. Look out for more details of #GollanczFest coming soon and do share which books you’re looking forward to in the comments below!

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Book news: New Covers for Rae Rivers’ Keepers Series!

30 Apr

I’m a big fan of Rae Rivers’ urban fantasy/paranormal romance series The Keepers so I was very excited to see that HarperImpulse has given the trilogy a fab makeover. In the new covers we get to see Keeper brothers Ethan, Archer and Declan on the front of their books for the first time! Here they are in all their glory! If you’d like to try the series, the prequel, The Keepers: Sienna is FREE to download!

AllCovers1

The Keepers is a Paranormal Romance series with a unique premise consisting of a powerful witch with three warrior brothers, the Keepers, duty-bound to defend her.  They are her friends, her fierce protectors and her allies in maintaining the balance of nature.

An evil rival family is out for revenge, determined to tip the balance in their favour.  Sienna and her Keepers will do whatever it takes to stop them.  

Will their strength, loyalty and love survive the ultimate war?

Archer Water Image

Each book can be read as a standalone romance, or for a richer reading experience, the books can be read in order:  Sienna (The FREE Prequel), Archer, Declan and Ethan.

Three brothers, four stories, an exciting adventure of magic, mayhem, and breathtaking romance.  

Download your FREE eBook, Sienna, and enjoy their world!

Declan Fire Image

 

Rae Rivers is an avid reader with a passion for writing spicy romance novels.  She writes Romantic Suspense and Paranormal Romances.  She lives in Cape Town, South Africa, with her husband and children and a zoo of house pets.  Besides writing, she loves family time, the outdoors, travelling, watching TV series, reading and chocolate.  

She loves to hear from her readers and can be found here:

www.raerivers.com Facebook Twitter Instagram Wattpad Goodreads Pinterest

Ethan Air Image

Guest post: Tears, the best editor by Brian Staveley

20 Apr

I’m delighted to welcome Brian Staveley to One More Page today to celebrate the release of his new fantasy novel, Skullsworn; a standalone novel, set in the world of Staveley’s critically acclaimed Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne trilogy.

Brian  has taught literature, philosophy, history, and religion before writing epic fantasy. He lives on a steep dirt road in the mountains of southern Vermont, where he divides his time between fathering, writing, husbanding, splitting wood, skiing, and adventuring, not necessarily in that order. Welcome Brian!

Staveley 3_4I try, as a general rule, not to catalogue those aspects of my personality that embarrass me, but if I were to attempt such a catalogue, one item that would definitely make the list is this: I’m a movie crier.

Fine, you say. Everyone cries during movies. Obviously, I haven’t made clear the extent of the issue. I’m not talking about movies like Million Dollar Baby or Saving Private Ryan (though I cry during those, too). I will cry during X-Men. I will cry during a trailer for X-Men. If a television commercial is sufficiently moving—like something for life insurance or Subaru—I might cry during that, too.

Now, fortunately, we’re not talking about gasping, bawling, unable-to-breathe sobbing. Most people don’t even know I’m crying because I can be quite sneaky about it. I get a little choked up. There might be a silent tear or two. In a darkened movie theater it almost always goes unnoticed, though one needs to be discreet at Super Bowl parties.

Interestingly, the crying doesn’t always correspond to the sad moments. In fact, the crying often corresponds to the goosebumps I get during training montages, or when some character does something cool, egged on by an excellent sound track. Think: Han Solo’s surprise return at the end of A New Hope. This, for me, is an even more effective tear-jerker than the sad moments, like when Wicket the ewok is burned alive on a pyre. Wait, what? That didn’t happen? Well, good. I like Wicket.

Anyway, as it turns out, this crying tendency of mine has actually come to serve a vital role in my writing life. I cry when reading just as much as I do when watching movies. The book doesn’t necessarily have to be good, but it needs to create a certain mood. When I started writing fantasy, I spent a fair amount of time analyzing my own reactions to books. Whenever I put a book down for the night, I’d take a few minutes and try to understand why I chose to stop reading at that point, rather than earlier or later. When I decided to forge on into another chapter, I’d ask myself what, specifically, was making me want to keep reading. And when a book made me tear up, I’d dig into that, too. I wanted to understand the technical skull coverunderpinnings to my emotional reactions.

My own books don’t make me cry—I’m too close to them, too mired in all the various drafts and unexplored possibilities. There are, however, two possibilities when I reread a scene that I’ve written: either I feel not all that much, or I feel a cold skin-prickle that I recognize as the precursor to what, if I were reading someone else’s book, might end up as tears. When I’m editing, I know the scenes that should elicit the skin-prickle. If they fail to do that, I rewrite them from the ground up. It’s not that I expect my readers to share all of my emotional reactions. Nor do I think every scene needs to be a tear-jerker. And yet it’s useful, in a job that can get so intellectual, to have a visceral barometer of a scene’s success, even if it’s just a personal one. And if I can get someone else to sob all over the book during their lunch hour, so much the better. I won’t need to feel quite so strange about my own silent weeping.

Skullsworn is published by Tor UK in hardback, ebook and audio formats on 20 April.

Find out more about Brian and his writing at: http://brianstaveley.com/index/

You can follow Brian on Twitter @Brian Staveley.

Stop by again later today for a chance to win a copy of Skullsworn.

Serial spotlight: The Reading Group April by Della Parker

11 Apr

reading aprilMeet the Reading Group: five women in the seaside village of Little Sanderton come together every month to share their love of reading. No topic is off-limits: books, family, love and loss . . . and don’t forget the glass of red!

Serena, the ambitious young Headmistress of Poppins Private School, has just begun reading Jane Eyre alongside her friends in the Reading Group. She would never admit it out loud, but she’s half hoping that reality might once again echo fiction. Will she perhaps meet her own Mr Rochester?

That doesn’t stop her from being slightly alarmed when her secretary arranges an appointment with one Mr Winchester, the handsome father of a troubled pupil in the midst of a messy divorce. But when the line between work and pleasure begins to blur, and troubles in her own family come to a head, Serena is left wondering if being a romantic heroine is all it’s cracked up to be…

I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the reading group series (you can read my thoughts on the earlier episodes here) and I’ve been looking forward to Serena’s turn in the spotlight. This is a lovely series for a quick read and the focus on classic novels that the group is reading each month, is a fab premise for the stories.

Each month the reading group choose a classic book for their meeting and the book that the group is reading for April installment is Jane Eyre. I was intrigued to find out how Della would bring the themes and characters of Jane Eyre into a modern day story but I must say she’s done it with flair and the April episode of The Reading Group is my new favourite of the set.

Serena is a school headmistress and has plunged herself into her career as a result of the sad loss of her husband Nick at a very young age. In this episode we finally get to delve into Serena’s character and her background more with the detail of her life at school, her relationships with her family and her past with Nick coming through strongly. Serena is one of my favourite reading group characters and the events of this story only made me like her even more.

As Serena meets Mr Winchester – who might just be her very own Mr Rochester – the scene is set for a gripping storyline as she becomes involved in his family’s troubles. As if this wasn’t drama enough, there’s an excellent sub plot involving Serena’s niece that had me hooked too.

The ladies of the reading group have by now established a close relationship and I loved how they rallied round to support Serena in this April story. For followers of the series, you’ll be pleased to know that there are brief (and exciting) updates on some of the other ladies in the group and the promise of much more to come in the next installment: The Reading Group – Summer Holiday which is thankfully out at the end of the month!

If you haven’t tried this series yet, don’t be afraid to jump in here as each story does stand alone very well. You might also like to note that there’s a free taster, The Reading Group December available to download too!

5/5

The Reading Group -April is out now in ebook formats from Quercus.

I’d like to thank the publisher for providing a review copy of this book.