#Extract #BlogTour : The Stars Now Unclaimed by Drew Williams @DrewWilliamsIRL @harriett_col @simonschusterUK

Today I’m on the blog tour for The Stars Now Unclaimed. I’ve not reviewed this book yet, though I have a copy, but my boyfriend has started reading it and is loving it. Full of space battles and funny moments from what he’s said. He’s also very excited about the next book in the series which is perfect as the extract I have for you today is from that book, A Chain Across The Dawn, which is out in August. Everyone else on the tour has talked about The Stars Now Unclaimed so it seemed fitting that I introduce you to the next book, and show you the fabulous cover for it, as I’m concluding the tour.  Many thanks to Harriett Collins at Simon and Schuster for having me on the blog tour and sending a copy of the first book, which will be reviewed in due course.

The Stars Now Unclaimed Blog Tour Graphic - FINAL

 

Blurb for A Chain Across The Dawn:

Bigger spaceships. Bigger explosions. Bigger planets.  Bigger problems.

It’s been three years since Esa joined the ranks of the Justified after her rescue from the fanatical murderers the Pax. Together, Esa and her mentor Kamali travel from planet to planet, searching for children with supernatural abilities. It’s hard work, but Esa has never felt more assured of her place in the universe.

On a visit to a planet so remote that its inhabitants never learned that the Sect Wars ended over a hundred years ago, they learn that the Justified are not the only people searching for gifted children. There is a creature with unexpected powers who will stop at nothing to get its hands on the children that Esa and Kamali are trying to rescue.

With their latest recruit in tow — a young Wulf child named Sho — Esa and Kamali will travel halfway across the galaxy in pursuit of answers. But the answers only lead to more questions, and the danger will only increase as their terrifying nemesis turns his eyes on them.

A Chain Across the Dawn Cover Reveal

 

Extract:

CHAPTER 1

The air-raid sirens were still screaming, echoing out across the golden sky of Kandriad like some sort of terrifying lament, hollow and vast and loud as all hell. The sound bounced off the concrete and the steel of the long abandoned factory city around us, rolling out over the plains of metal toward the distant horizon still tinged with the faintest blue hints of the dawn.

There shouldn’t have been air-raid sirens on Kandriad. Not because the pulse had repressed the technology for sirens, but because it had repressed the ability for anyone to conduct air raids at all: flight was supposed to be impossible in an atmosphere this choked with pulse radiation.

Except it wasn’t. Jane and I had seen the shadows of the warplanes hurtling over the factory city as we approached by the bridge, dropping bombs and executing amateurish evasive manoeuvers to wheel away from the strafing gunfire of the defenders’ anti-aircraft weaponry. The planes hadn’t exactly been modern spec—prop-driven, combustion-engine relics cobbled together from spare parts—but that didn’t change the fact that they shouldn’t have been able to get into the air at all. Something weird was happening on Kandriad.

Something weird always seemed to happen to Jane and me, but this was
weirder than most.

“So we . . . knock?” I asked, shifting my weight from side to side, staring
up at the massive barred door that was the one and only entrance to the factory city from the south. We hadn’t seen a single native as we made our way down the abandoned railway line toward the factory—they were all hunkered down inside their converted city, being dive-bombed by impossible airplanes. The sect wars might have been forgotten by most of the galaxy post-pulse, but on Kandriad they’d never stopped, the locals locked in the same stupid conflicts that had led to the pulse in the first place. “Or . . . like . . .” I winced as the sirens came around again; I winced every time. I always thought they were finally going to stop as they dopplered away across the distance,
and then . . . nope. Still going.

“We should probably wait until they’re not having the shit bombed out of them,” Jane said mildly, leaning against the railing of the dilapidated bridge and smoking one of her awful cigarettes. Jane wasn’t fidgety. Jane never got fidgety. Taller, leaner, and in significantly better shape than I was, I’d seen her be more collected under sustained gunfire than I usually was making breakfast.

“Do you think that’s likely to happen soon, or . . .” I winced as one of the bombers overshot its target, its payload coming down instead on the empty urban district beside the bridge—otherwise known as beside us. I was holding a telekinetic shield in place over both Jane and myself, and the feeling of the shrapnel from the blast smashing itself to pieces against what was basically a psychic manifestation of my own will was . . . not overly pleasant. Still, the shield held, and even if it hadn’t, our intention shields—hardwired into our nervous systems—would have protected us. Hopefully.

I didn’t particularly want to die on a bombed-out hellhole like Kandriad.

Jane waved her hand—and her cigarette—in front of her face, not so much dispelling the cloud of dust that had risen in the wake of the blast as adding to it with her cigarette smoke. “Doesn’t seem that way,” she said.

“So can we talk about how there are warplanes flying and dropping bombs in a pulse-choked atmosphere?” I asked instead. Since we appeared to be stuck out here, underneath the falling bombs, that seemed a topic of particularly hefty import.

Jane frowned at that. “I don’t know,” she said shortly. I almost grinned—despite the nearly-being-blown-apart thing—just because Jane hated to admit when she didn’t know something, and a part of me was always a little bit thrilled when circumstances forced her to do so anyway.

Still would have traded it for “not huddled just outside a factory door,
hoping not to get bombed,” though.

“But how—”

“Still don’t know, Esa,” she sighed, dropping her cigarette butt to the bridge and grinding it out with her boot heel—though it wasn’t like there find answers standing out here. Go ahead and knock—we’ve got a gifted kid to find.”

“I thought you said we should wait until they weren’t getting bombed.” As if cued by my statement, the air-raid sirens finally cut off, the last hollow howl echoing out over the horizon until it faded into the golden light of the day.

I looked at Jane. She was grinning. I glared at her; that just made her grin some more. She opened her mouth to say something, and I simply held out my hand, forestalling whatever smartassery was about to emerge. “Don’t,” I told her flatly. “Just . . .” I sighed, and reached for the heavy knocker welded to the riveted steel of the door. “I got this.”

I knocked.

CHAPTER 2

In relatively short order, we got a response to our banging. That response was, of course, half a dozen rifles pointed at us from murder holes carved out of the sides of the high wall, but it was a response nonetheless. “Travelers,” Jane said, spreading her hands wide to show that she was unarmed—well, to show that she wasn’t holding a weapon, at least. On a world like Kandriad, nobody went anywhere unarmed, and the rifle butt sticking up from behind Jane’s shoulder would have just seemed like an everyday necessity to the
locals, no different than a farmer carrying a hoe would have been on my homeworld. “Seeking shelter.”

“This city is at war, traveler,” a voice said from one of the murder holes—sounded like a Wulf, which made sense, since the vaguely canid species had made up about a third of this world’s population, before the pulse. “There’s very little shelter to be had here.”

“Very little to be had out there, either.” Jane jerked her thumb behind us, indicating the smoking craters the poorly aimed bombs had blown in the urban “countryside” of what had once been a factory planet.

“How do we know you’re not enemy spies?” the Wulf growled. I mean, Wulf almost always growl, the sound was just what their muzzles were built for, but I detected a distinct note of aggression in the low-pitched rumble of this one’s voice.

“Esa,” Jane prompted me, and I reached into my jacket—slowly, as the rifles were still following my every move—to produce a tightly rolled-up scroll. The parchment was as close to what local conditions would have allowed the natives to create as Schaz had been able to make it; hopefully they wouldn’t ask too many questions about its provenance beyond that, questions we wouldn’t be able to answer given that we’d actually printed it on board a spaceship in orbit, a concept that had receded mostly into myth for the people on Kandriad.

I held the scroll up, where they could see. “Reconnaissance,” Jane told them simply. “Aerial photography of the enemy assaulting your walls from the north. Troop positions, fortifications, artillery emplacements—enough intelligence to turn the tide of the fight.” Neither Jane nor I really gave a damn who won this particular battle, or even this particular war—whatever conflict it had spun off from, the fighting on Kandriad had long since ceased to matter to the galaxy at large, let alone to the doings of the Justified. What we did care about was getting access to the city, and to the gifted child hidden somewhere inside.

“You have planes? Like they do?” The guns were still holding . . . pretty tightly on us.

“Kites,” Jane said simply. “And mirrors.” That was a flat-out lie, but “we took images from our spaceship in low orbit, then smudged them up to look like low-tech aerial reconnaissance” wouldn’t have gone over nearly as well.

A low sound from the Wulf, not that dissimilar to his growl from before; thankfully, our boss back on Sanctum was also a Wulf, and I recognized the sound of a Wulven chuckle when I heard one. “Kites,” the unseen sentry said to himself, almost in wonder. Then: “Open the gate!”

The big metal gates rumbled open; Jane and I stepped along the train tracks, into the interior of the city, where the sentries—Wulf to a one, their rifles still held tightly, though at least not aimed directly at us anymore— watched us closely. Jane handed over the map to their leader, the one who’d spoken. He unrolled it, studied its contents for a moment, then without a word handed it off to one of his subordinates, who promptly took off, presumably for the factory city’s command. “It’s valid, and it’s recent,” the lieutenant acknowledged to us, his ice-blue predator’s eyes still watching us closely, not as friendly as his words. “I recognize shelling from just a few days ago. Intelligence like that will buy you more than just entry here, strangers. Name your price.”

“We’re looking for some intelligence of our own,” Jane replied. “Looking for one of your citizens, actually. A child, younger than my associate here.” She nodded her head toward me; I didn’t know how well the local Wulf population would be at gauging a human’s age, but at seventeen, I guess I did still have a slightly “unfinished” look, as compared to Jane, at least.

“And why do you seek this child?” the lieutenant asked—not a no. Progress.

“He or she will have . . . gifts. Abilities. We seek children with such gifts, and we train them.” All true, for its part. It was simply a question of scale that Jane left out.

“Train them to do what?”

“Whatever is necessary.” That part wasn’t exactly an official piece of the Sanctum syllabus.

The Wulf nodded his head, once. “I know the child you’re looking for,” he said.

Finally, something going our way for once.

 

 

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Blurb for The Stars Now Unclaimed:

A century ago, a mysterious pulse of energy spread across the universe. Meant to usher in a new era of peace and prosperity, it instead destroyed technology indiscriminately, leaving some worlds untouched and throwing others into total chaos.

The Justified, a mysterious group of super-soldiers, have spent a hundred years trying to find a way to restore order to the universe. Their greatest asset is the feared mercenary Kamali, who travels from planet to planet searching for gifted young people and bringing them to the secret world she calls home. Kamali hopes that those she rescues will be able to find a way to reverse the damage the pulse wreaked, and ensure that it never returns.

But Kamali isn’t the only person looking for answers to unimaginable questions. And when her mission to rescue a grumpy teenaged girl named Esa goes off the rails, Kamali suddenly finds herself smack in the centre of an intergalactic war… that she started.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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#BlogTour #Extract : The Peacock Bottle by Angela Rigley @rararesources @angierigley #giveaway

Today I’m taking part in the blog tour for The Peacock Bottle. I’ve not reviewed this book but have an extract and a giveaway for you to enjoy. Many thanks to Rachel’s Random Resources for letting me take part in this tour. The full list of bloggers on the tour, and those taking part today and tomorrow can be found at the bottom of the post.

 

The Peacock Bottle

Blurb: 

In this Victorian dual timeline novel, Amelia Wise feels a jolt when she finds a blue perfume bottle in the overgrown garden of the house she has inherited. Several events in her life mirrors those from the past and, with the help of her newfound cousin, Olivia, the bottle’s secret is uncovered.

Purchase Links:

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Peacock-Bottle-Angela-Rigley-ebook/dp/B073NT79W2

US – https://www.amazon.com/Peacock-Bottle-Angela-Rigley-ebook/dp/B073NT79W2

The Peacock Bottle Cover

Extract:

Amelia has managed to make a start on the overgrown garden of the house she has inherited, but is surprised when she hears a voice.

In the hope that he would go away, she hid behind a green leafy bush, but his tousled head appeared. “What you doing?”

She plucked a leaf off her dress and came out of her hidey-hole. “Who are you?”

“Garnet Greyson at your service, ma’am.” He bent his arm and performed the lowest bow she had ever seen.

“How did you gain access to my garden?”

He looked around at the mess of tangles. “You call this a garden?”

“I meant…” annoyed at his denigration of her handiwork, she pointed across the sprawling lawn, “that garden up there. It belongs to me. You have no authorization to enter it.”

“Oh, I often come here. My pa used to be the gardener in the old days.”

“Well, I haven’t seen you before. But that is not the point. Even if your father were the king of England, which of course he can’t be, because we don’t have a king, only a queen, you would still need my permission.”

Ignoring her outburst, the boy cocked his head to one side. “What’s your name?”

“Miss Amelia Wise. Now, please leave.”

“You don’t really want me to, do you? My ma says you must be lonely here with only your mother for company.”

Hands on hips, she defied him. “Actually, she’s my stepmother, but we have servants. We are not lonely at all.”

“Same thing. My ma’s my second stepmother. I lost my own ma when I was a baby and my pa married again, but that ma died last year and now I have another.”

Amelia sympathised with the boy. “How sad. My father died not long ago. In a fire.” Before she knew it, tears welled in her eyes and overflowed down her cheeks. The boy put out a hand as if to comfort her, but she turned away, embarrassed at breaking down in front of him.

“I didn’t mean to upset you, Miss Amelia. I’m sorry.”

She sniffed and felt in her pocket for a handkerchief, but remembered she had been unable to find one that morning. A hand appeared around her side, holding a white one. Accepting it would mean she was beholden to the boy, but when needs must… She wiped away the tears and blew her nose, keeping hold of it in case she needed it again. “Thank you.”

 

Giveaway to Win 2 x Paperback copes of The Peacock Bottle (UK Only)

*Terms and Conditions –UK 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 Rachel’s Random Resources reserves 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 Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

About the author:

The Peacock Bottle Author Pic

Married to Don, I have 5 children and 9 grandchildren, I live in Derbyshire, England, and enjoy researching my family tree (having found ancestors as far back as 1465), reading, gardening, playing Scrabble, meals out and family gatherings. I am the treasurer of my writing club, Eastwood Writers’ Group, and I also write and record Thoughts for the Day for Radio Nottingham. At church I sing in the choir and am an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, a reader, a flower arranger and a member of the fundraising team for Cafod, my favourite charity. I have written hymns, although I cannot read music.

Social Media Links –

https://www.instagram.com/angelarigleyauthor/

https://www.facebook.com/angierigley/

https://twitter.com/angierigley

www.nunkynoo.yolasite.com

https://wordpress.com/view/authoryantics.wordpress.com

https://www.linkedin.com/in/angela-rigley-b0322741/

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/angelarigley/pins/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14367596.Angela_Rigley

The Peacock Bottle Full Tour Banner

#BlogTour #Extract : Time Will Tell by Eva Jordan. @EvaJordanWriter @UrbaneBooks #LoveBooksGroupTours

I’m thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for Time Will Tell, especially as I’ve reviewed and been on a blog tour for Eva’s previous two books. Huge thanks to her for inviting me on to the tour and to Love Books Group for having me.

I have an extract for you today and it’s certainly grabbed my attention so read on and see what you think.

time-will-tell

Blurb:  Writer, Lizzie Lemalf, and her loving but somewhat dysfunctional family are still grieving over the loss of a much-loved family member. Lizzie is doing her best to keep her family together but why does the recent death of a well-known celebrity have them all in a spin? The police suspect foul play; Lizzie and other family members suspect one another. Lizzie begins searching for answers only to find herself being dragged back to the past, to 1960’s London to be exact, and to the former life of her father, that up until now she has never been privy to. Every family has its secrets but how can the past hold the key to a present day celebrity death?

They say the past comes back to haunt you. Surely the truth will out? Maybe, but only time will tell…

9781911583943

 

Extract: 

Chapter 3 Present Day

CHRISTMAS DAY – EARLY MORNING

DI KATE STEWART

DI Kate Stewart, ‘Kat’ to her friends, ‘Boss’ to her subordinates, enters the house. It’s the smell that hits her first, despite the protective mask covering her nose and mouth. Using one hand to keep the mask in place, she uses the other to cradle her stomach, now constricting like a tightly wound coil, and holds her breath, closes her eyes. It’s all she can to stop herself gagging. The smell permeating the house of the deceased is almost as wretched as the man himself. Rancid. Quite unlike anything else she has ever come across – and after thirty-odd years on the force that’s saying something. Puke, blood, faeces, rotting corpses, burnt flesh; she has seen and smelled the lot. She saw her first corpse just months after starting the job. A drowning. A man, swollen and blued by the water, had fallen in the Thames and was washed up a week later, some of the flesh on his face having fallen away in strips. It had quite turned her stomach at the time. She soon hardened up though; it was a case of having too.

This however, whatever the fuck this rotten, putrid stench is, is something else entirely. She breathes out again and braces herself as the loathsome scent clings to her flaring nostrils. A wave of nausea washes over her. She puts her hand out, steadies herself; the two cups of black coffee she’d necked on the way over now sloshing around in her otherwise empty stomach. Lowering her head, Kat concentrates on keeping her breathing slow but shallow, desperate to temper the black sea whipping up a storm inside her.

Fat chance she’ll feel like eating Christmas dinner after this. Then again, who the hell is she trying to kid? She knows, despite the early hour, she’ll never make it back on time. Not with this individual: his money, his celebrity status, his connections. She’s already had the Home Office on the phone. They wouldn’t have dragged her from her bed at this godforsaken hour on Christmas Day if it had been some junkie in a council flat. Sickening. Even in death money talks. Fuck! Why today, though? Why Christmas Day? She lifts her head, imagines Hannah’s sulky, surly face floating in front of her like a balloon, only, like a lead balloon, Kat Stewart’s heart sinks. Is Hannah even awake yet? Does she know her mother has abandoned her… again?

She sighs. How is it possible, despite having fought, apprehended and arrested some of society’s worst individuals, that one word, one cursory glance, one angst-ridden flick of her daughter’s shiny, long hair (straightened to within an inch of its life) can bring her out in a cold sweat? Running for the hills. Kat grins, shakes her head. Teenagers! On her head be it if she doesn’t make it back for dinner today. And rightly so. It is Christmas Day after all. And for once, her absence would justify Hannah’s creased brow and permanently painted pout. ‘I don’t know why you bothered having me.’ she hears Hannah say, her verbose, high-pitched whining reverberating inside Kat’s head like a finely-tuned pitching fork. ‘You care waaaaay more for your job than you do me.’

It’s not true, of course. And besides, it’s still early – 5am to be precise – and while excited children all over the country are undoubtedly waking up their exhausted parents, it would be at least another couple of hours before sunrise. Everyone knows teenagers never rise before the sun. If Kat gets her shit together, she might, by the skin of her teeth, be able to slip back home, dive in the shower – god knows she’ll need to wash away the foul smell that seems to cling to every fibre of her being, never mind her clothes – and all before her moody daughter realises she has gone.

‘Like fuck!’ she says out loud. The brief seconds spent thinking about her daughter have given Kat enough time for her stomach to settle a little. Protective mask in place, she steps further into the sprawling hallway. Whatever the hell is causing the terrible smell, it seems to have filled the entire house.

‘Fuck me,’ she mumbles, more bemused than reviled when her stomach, like an agitated washing machine, whirrs and churns. What the hell is wrong with her? Is she really going to heave? She can’t remember the last time she’d puked on the job – years ago, when she first started out? It’s surprising how, over time, Kat has adjusted to the rotten smells that are part and parcel of the job. Never pleasant, some smells, she quickly discovered, linger in the memory as much as the visuals do, apt to blindside you on a rainy Tuesday afternoon when a vague whiff of something familiar stirs something deep within you. Reminders of some of the worst cases you’d worked on, or the ones never solved – the young woman raped and murdered, the missing child never found. Nonetheless, for the most part, when it came to odious odours, nothing much affected her these days.

But this is bad. Really fucking bad. Clearing her throat, Kat straightens up and glances over her shoulder to see how DS York is doing. Hunched forward, his hand protecting his mouth, she sees his retreating back, and the front door slam behind him. Clearly DS York’s gag reflex is working as well as hers. She feels relieved, had thought, for a moment, she was going soft. Turning back again, she walks towards the body splayed across the polished floor at the foot of the stairs.

Nice floor. Oak, I reckon. Must have cost a bloody fortune. Forensic pathologist, George Martin, who is standing next to the body, greets DI Stewart with a cursory nod.

‘How long has he been dead?’ She leans forward to peer at the halo of blood surrounding the deceased’s head. ‘Hard to tell at the moment. At least two days.’ ‘Cause of death?’ ‘We’ll know more when we get him back to the lab but his neck is broken and there’s a deep wound to the back of his head. Most likely caused when he hit it on that–’ He points to the second blood covered step at the foot of the stairs ‘–after a fall.’

‘From the top of the stairs?’ The pathologist nods. ‘Judging by the trauma caused by the injury, yes.’

‘A fall? Or would you say he was pushed?’ ‘Again, it’s hard to say. He could have been pushed, or he could have lost his footing and tripped.’

‘But you suspect foul play?’ ‘Like I said, I’ll know more later, but we can’t rule it out.’ Somewhat deflated, DI Stewart rolls her eyes. Why couldn’t it be cut and dry? An obvious accident? Suicide, even? Would make life a damn sight fucking easier. Now though, the shit really will hit the fan. Hannah and her lead balloon once again drift into her thoughts as any hope of spending Christmas Day with her only daughter floats further away.

‘And that smell?’ Kat points to the body. ‘Is that coming from him?’

‘Ah… yes. Interesting, isn’t it?’ ‘That’s one way of putting it.’ ‘Sort of like a rotten corpse that’s been stewing in a stagnant sewer for a few weeks. Pugnacious and nauseating.’

Hmm… not unlike the man himself. DI Stewart’s hand flies to her mouth. Did she really say that out loud? She coughs, clears her throat. ‘Allegedly, of course,’ she adds.

Pathologist George Martin stares at her. Like her, he is covered head to foot in protective clothing. Only his eyes, bright green, fringed by enviably long, dark lashes, are visible. It’s hard to tell whether her sudden outburst has irritated him or if he is just indifferent. Regardless, he merely nods.

Kat has read and heard a lot about Hunter Black over the last year. Most of it vile and most of it concerning his alleged misconduct against at least ten young women, mainly while in his employment. A powerful man by all accounts; rich too, with friends in high places and low morals. American, apparently, he was one of two sons born into wealth and privilege who finished his private education by reading History at Oxford University before going on to earn a separate fortune of his own in the music industry as some bigshot record producer. It also looked, up until this point anyway, as though he was going get away with his alleged crimes. Which didn’t surprise DI Stewart. Rape cases are notoriously difficult to prove, especially against rich, self-aggrandising sociopaths like Black. And if the rumours were true, Black had been using every trick in the book, including bribery, threat and intimidation, to make sure he would not be held accountable for his actions.

‘Alleged actions,’ George Martin says. Surprised, DI Kat Stewart looks up. Shit, I really must stop talking to myself out loud.

‘First sign of madness,’ the pathologist with the nice eyes, continues.

George Martin doesn’t see it but Kat clamps her top lip over her bottom one. On a personal level, this is hard for her. The world, she believes is a better place without men like Black. However, on a professional level she has a job to do. If this was foul play it’s up to her to understand why. God knows they won’t be short of suspects though. Ten at least – for starters. She throws her head back, stares at the ceiling, and sighs. This was going to take a while.

‘I’m getting too old for this shit,’ she says, looking down again.

George Martin stares at her for a few seconds. She’s pretty convinced he is grinning under that mask. He kneels down next to the lifeless body and Kat hears the front door open behind her. She glances over her shoulder, spots DS York who, red-eyed, his hand pressed so hard against the mask covering his mouth his knuckles have turned white, is now walking towards her.

‘Boss.’ He clears his throat and refuses to make eye contact with her. ‘Sorry about that.’

DI Kat Stewart nods then introduces the pathologist. ‘So, as I was saying, that smell – is it coming from his body? Black’s body?’

George Martin shakes his head. ‘No, I don’t believe it is.’ He points towards a large oak-panelled door, which blends perfectly with the expensive-looking polished floor. It is half open and a shaft of white light shines through from the room behind it.

‘Take a look in there,’ he says.

 

 

About the author:

Eva Jordan Profile Pic

 

Eva Jordan is a published writer of several short stories and Time Will Tell is her third novel. Eva lives in a small town in Cambridgeshire with partner Steve and three of our four children, who are a constant source of inspiration – they are all teenagers, need I say more! Eva’s career has been varied, including working in a Women’s Refuge and more recently at the city library. However, storytelling through the art of writing is her true passion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#BlogTour #Extract : Deep Dirty Truth by Steph Broadribb @OrendaBooks @CrimeThrillGirl #DeepDirtyTruth

Today I’m thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for Deep Dirty Truth, the third book in the Lori Anderson series. I’ve got an extract to share today so read on and enjoy!

 

deep dirty truth blog tour poster

Blurb: 

A price on her head, and just 48 hours to expose the truth, and save her family…

Single-mother bounty hunter Lori Anderson has finally got her family back together, but her new-found happiness is shattered when she’s snatched by the Miami Mob, who they want her dead. But rather than a bullet, they offer her a job: find the Mob’s ‘numbers man’ – Carlton North – who’s in protective custody after being forced to turn federal witness against them. If Lori succeeds, they’ll wipe the slate clean and the price on her head – and those of her family – will be removed. If she fails, they die.

With only 48 hours before North is due to appear in court, Lori sets across Florida, racing against the clock to find him, and save her family…

 

Deep Dirty Truth AW.indd

 

Extract:

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 19th, 12:54

We take a right turn off the highway. The wheels judder across the uneven track. The muffler rattles louder. I wince as my ribs bash against the van floor. The men up front are talking in low voices. I figure we’ve reached our destination.

Minutes later we brake to a halt. Doors open. Heat floods the vehicle. There’s shouting, new voices, then I feel hands grip my ankles and I’m yanked across the floor of the van and dumped onto the dirt outside.

They cut the hogtie but keep my wrists and ankles bound. As they haul me to my feet I feel sensation start to return to my limbs. Pins and needles stab at my muscles, waking the nerves that went numb hours ago. My mouth’s as parched as a storm drain in the dry season. I could really use a drink.

Doesn’t happen. My captors keep me gagged and hooded. Powerless. Disoriented. That tells me that they’re still being careful, not taking chances. The hood blinds me to my surroundings, and if I can’t see where I am, I can’t figure out the best escape route.

‘Barn two,’ a man says. His accent has a hint of New York about it. I search my memory, but I come up empty. ‘Get yourselves to the house when it’s done.’

I inhale sharply. When it’s done – what does that mean? The hands grasping my arms lift me off my feet and drag me across the dirt. I want to fight back, but that’s not the smart play here. I have to conserve my energy, pick my moment real careful. So I go limp, make them work harder at moving me. Tell myself to bide my time and hope to hell I have time to bide.

The guy on my right mutters under his breath about me being heavier than I look, and the one on my left grunts in agreement. Even through the hood I can smell his cheap cologne; it’s vinegary and applied overzealously. The scent of a low-rank foot soldier aspiring towards a style they know nothing about.

They continue dragging me across the dirt. I hear the distant clank of machinery. The sun’s high and hot. This morning, in my hurry to get Dakota to class, I forgot to put on sun- screen, and now the rays burn my skin. The air is still, no hint of a breeze. I figure it must be near on lunchtime, and I wonder if JT is worried yet.

‘Here?’ the cologne-wearer says. ‘Yeah.’ I smell them before I hear them. Way stronger than the cologne, and a whole lot nastier. Then I hear the stampede of cloven feet across baked earth, and the grunts and snuffles getting louder.

Pigs. I tense. Dig my heels into the dirt and swallow hard. If they toss me into the pigpen I’m a goner for sure. Hooded, with my arms and legs bound, I’ll stand no kind of chance against a herd of hungry swine, and, from the noise they’re making, they sure sound hungry.

The guy to my right laughs and jabs me in the ribs with his elbow. ‘You can smell ’em then, our little pets?’

I try to get my heart rate under control and think logically. It makes no sense to snatch me and drive all those hours just to feed me to these beasts. If they wanted to get me dead right off the bat then a bullet in the head would’ve done the job real nice. They’re messing with me, but I don’t think they’re going to kill me, not at this moment anyways. So I force my body to relax, release my heels from the dirt and wait to see what happens.

We keep going, past the pigs and a few hundred yards further. Moments later, even through the material of the hood, I can tell from the change in light that we’ve passed from sunshine to shade. The stench of the pigs is replaced with sweet meadow hay. I figure we’re inside barn two.

Seventeen steps later the men spin me around and push me back- wards against a pillar. The wood is rough and splinters rub raw against my skin. Cologne guy holds me upright, as close to the pillar as he can make me, while the other one ties me. They use rope this time. I feel him loop it tight, around my neck, my waist and my legs. My wrists and ankles are still bound with the tape. They leave the hood on.

The one with the growly voice slaps me on the shoulder. ‘See y’all later, blondie.’

‘If you’re lucky,’ cologne guy adds. I say nothing; the tape over my mouth is keeping me silent. I hear their footsteps retreat, and the bang of a door slamming shut. Then I’m alone.

It doesn’t take long for the discomfort to set in. My muscles ache right from the get-go and before long they’re burning from the forced immobility. My head throbs like a bitch. My mouth’s dry and I feel nauseous – a sure sign of dehydration.

They’ve tied me real snug. I feel along the rope where it’s closest to my hands, but there are no knots for me to try to loosen, and the tape around my wrists is too high for me to get a finger through. I bend my knees and try to slide down the pillar, but I’m stuck; the noose around my throat won’t shift.

I’m all out of options. All I can do is wait. Time passes. The fire in my muscles intensifies. The temperature rises and I sweat rivers, my clothes turning damp against my skin. I need the bathroom bad.

No one comes. I withdraw inwards, using memories to distance myself from the pain. I think of how my morning began, and it seems like a world, a lifetime, away: waking snuggled against JT with the light streaming in through the window; his lopsided smile as I kiss him awake; the feel of him inside me as we make love in the shower – getting clean and being dirty all at once; then later JT, Dakota and me having breakfast – bagels, juice and coffee – JT and Dakota chattering about Tropi-cana Field, me smiling at the easy way they banter with each other. The concentration on JT’s face as he tries to braid Dakota’s hair for school; the way she thanks him even though his best effort is a clumsy, half- assed job. Me laughing and telling him practice makes perfect. Him looking at me all serious with those old blues of his and telling me he’ll keep on practising; and how in that moment I knew he was talking about more than just the braids.

In the couple of months we’ve been playing house we’ve never made each other any promises. I’ve said before, a promise is just a disappointment bought on credit, but that don’t mean I’m not curious, maybe even a touch hopeful, to see how things play out. I want to give us a chance. After everything we’ve been through, we owe ourselves that.

I clench my fingers together. Grit my teeth. So, whatever else happens, there’s one thing I’m sure about. I refuse to die here.

 

 

 

About the author:  

steph broadribb

 

Steph Broadribb was born in Birmingham and grew up in Buckinghamshire. Most
of her working life has been spent between the UK and USA. As her alter ego – Crime Thriller Girl – she indulges her love of all things crime fiction by blogging at crimethrillergirl.com, where she interviews authors and reviews the latest releases. She is also a member of the crime-themed girl band The Splice Girls.

Steph is an alumni of the MA in Creative Writing (Crime Fiction) at City University
London, and she trained as a bounty hunter in California, which inspired her Lori
Anderson thrillers. She lives in Buckinghamshire surrounded by horses, cows and
chickens. Her debut thriller, Deep Down Dead, was shortlisted for the Dead Good Reader Awards in two categories, and hit number one on the UK and AU kindle charts. My Little Eye, her first novel under her pseudonym Stephanie Marland was published by Trapeze Books in April 2018.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#BlogTour #Extract : Hard Setdown by T.Q. Chant #TQChant #LoveBooksGroupTours

Today I’m sharing with you all an extract from this amazing sounding book. Huge thanks to LoveBooksGroupTours for having me on this tour. This book is a mixture of sci-fi and psychological thriller so if that’s your thing then read on and find out more.

 

hard-setdown

Blurb: 

Sam Cane – ex-con artist (sort of), ex-soldier (definitely), and woman on the run.

She’s looking to escape a life of petty crime on Earth that’s got her in too deep with the wrong people. Taking a job with one of the corporations contracted to open up and exploit new worlds in the growing Commonwealth, she’s assigned to a young colony right on the edge of human space. It looks like the perfect escape, until she arrives on IGC-187X and things start to go downhill. Fast.

Arriving at the colony site, she finds it mysteriously deserted, its communication systems sabotaged and her ride rapidly heading out of the system. Failing to repair the communications system in time, she realises she’s stuck on the apparently deserted planet unless she can get a deep space message out. Exploring the colony site further, she realises two things – that something terrible has happened to the colonists, and that she’s not alone. She contacts survivors from the colony, who tell her they were forced to relocate due to raider activity, but their story doesn’t quite add up. Betrayed by them, she connects with the only sane person left – Adissa, the daughter of the colonial administrator, who has been living underground since her father had gone mad and led the colonists to a mysterious settlement elsewhere on the planet.

Suddenly, getting a message out has taken on a new urgency. Playing a deadly game of cat and mouth with the colonists, Sam and Adissa work together to try to get an old buried launch array on-line. The full horror of the situation starts to impact on Sam as she realises just how far the colonists have fallen and that something far worse is lurking hidden under the deserts of the arid world.

Out on the fringe, she’ll find out that what you’re running from isn’t always the thing that will kill you.

 

hard setdown cover

 

Extract:

“Rule number six, I think,” Sam said to herself, standing in front of the homemade shack and psyching herself to go in. “If you don’t know it and you need to, find out about it. Otherwise it could kill you.”

Lifting a couple of bits of kit from the pack, she pushed into the shack and forced herself to stand and look down on the corpse in the middle of the room.

She knew what that odd smell was now, the after-reek of death, the slight sickliness of rotten flesh. It was now just an unpleasant oily aftertaste on the air that suggested the body had been here a while.

She keyed a command into the pad to bring up data on forensic examination of a body, decay rates, other information that hadn’t been useful to her until this moment. She just regretted not having any forensic procedure software that could have done the whole examination for her – preferably while she sat outside having a beer. “No reason I’d ever think I’d need it though.”

 While the pad started throwing open work cells at convenient points in the air, she went about setting up the holopixer on its pole.

“Start recording. Security Specialist Cane Kokhani, ICG one-eight-seven, main colony site. It’s zero nine hundred local time, standard calendar date is third day fifth month one-fifty AY. Initial investigation of crime scene located approximately fifty metres from main colony site in a locally constructed building. May be some significance in the choice of venue. Victim is an unknown…female. Yes. Female.” She swallowed. She’d been taught basic police procedure in her month-long induction course, but nothing to prepare her for this. Established wisdom went that a good security chief with a population around a thousand to look after would probably know everyone well enough to spot a murderer without needing to go full Sherlock on it.

She fought to stay professional, stay clinical. She knew she had to face what was here or it would just lurk out here waiting for her. She had to start working out what had happened.

She waited until the pixer had finished its initial capture, a line of light sweeping across the space to capture everything. Pulling on gloves, she gingerly pulled away the tarp that covered some of the body ordered another pixer scan. She reached out to beckon a holographic cell to her, expanded it to read the data. “Hmm. Estimated time since death, based on humidity and average temperature, is three weeks.”

Looking back, her eyes widened. Without the ragged cloth covering, she could see the level of devastation inflicted on the colonist. “Hang on, too many legs involved here.”

She choked back a sob as that implication sank in. “Correction to my earlier statements. Two unidentified victims. One female, I’m guessing adult. One male, probably adolescent. Early teens. Bodies are severely decomposed.” Mercifully, she added to herself. “Both appear to have been stripped of clothing and partially dismembered.” Disturbed by her removing their last modesty, the bodies shifted slightly, air-cured skin and sinew settling slightly. The woman’s head rolled free. “Decapitated. Look like clean cuts.”

She got a close-up of some of the wounds, set a search running. “This wasn’t the work of animals. How could it be? The bodies were secured, definitely some sort of tool used. I’m seeing…crap… I’m seeing symbols cut – branded? – into what’s left of the skin. Are those…? Not sure, going to have to do a datastack search.”

She rocked back on her haunches, wiped her hand across her face without thinking, gagged as she tasted the slime that had come off on her gloves.

“Pausing the examination,” she gasped, staggering outside. She was technically on duty, but with no sign of a relief shift or a supervisor she didn’t mind cracking open one of her precious beers. At least it cleaned her mouth.

 

 

 

About the author:  Tim Chant grew up (mostly), went to school in East Anglia and university in Scotland. He took his History degree and did the only thing he could with it – joined the civil service. When not shackled to his desk he writes science fiction, alternative historical fiction, historical fiction and any other fiction that takes his fancy. When not doing that, he’s an inveterate roleplayer and wargamer (and getting back into historical fencing). He lives in Edinburgh with his partner and their two rabbits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#BlogTour #Extract : Stealth by Hugh Fraser. @Urbanebooks @realhughfraser #lovebooksgroupstours 

I am over the moon to be involved in this blog tour. I would have read this book in an instant but, embarassingly, I still have the first book in the series on my shelves waiting to be read. However, I am still able to take part in the tour and have a brief extract for you today. Many thanks to the author, Urbane books and LoveBooksGroup for having me on this tour. (I will read and review book 1, promise!)

Blurb:  When a step out of line means a fight to the death…

London 1967. A working girl is brutally murdered in a Soho club. Rina Walker takes out the killer and attracts the attention of a sinister line-up of gangland enforcers with a great deal to prove.

When a member of British Military Intelligence becomes aware of her failure to fulfil a contract issued by an inmate of Broadmoor, he forces her into the deadly arena of the Cold War, with orders to kill an enemy agent.

Rina needs to call upon all her dark skills, not simply to survive but to protect the ones she loves.

Buy Link – https://amzn.to/2Qxzn53

Extract:

The cab pulls up outside the club. I get out, give the driver a ten bob note and tell him to keep the change. Max and a bloke I don’t know are on the door. ‘Evening, Rina,’ says Max, as I approach. He says something to the other man who flicks his fag into the gutter and opens the door to the foyer for me. I go inside, smile at Jane behind the counter and walk down the stairs as the house band go into the opening bars of ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’. Lizzie and I decided to hire some guys who could rock a bit for the house band instead of the usual boring lounge trio doing the Sinatra and Mel Tormé songbook, like most clubs have. The singer’s a good pianist with a fine voice and if I shut my eyes I could be listening to Gary Brooker. The guitarist is a young Mexican lad with black curly hair and a beautiful face who’s taught himself every lick that Alvin Lee, Peter Green and Hendrix ever played, and the drummer and bass player are good too. I made them wear suits instead of their hippy gear so they blend in with the punters a bit. They were a bit iffy about it until I told them they were on fifty notes a week and they shot off up Carnaby Street and got suited up.


About the author:

Hugh Fraser is best known for playing Captain Hastings in Agatha Christie’s ‘Poirot’ and the Duke of Wellington in ‘Sharpe’. His films include Patriot Games, 101 Dalmatians, The Draughtsman’s Contract and Clint Eastwood’s Firefox. In the theatre he has appeared in Teeth’n’Smiles at the Royal Court and Wyndhams and in several roles with the Royal Shakespeare Company. He also composed the theme to Rainbow!

#Blog Tour #Extract : The Blue Bench by Paul Marriner. @marriner_p @annecater #TheBlueBench #RandomThingsTours

Blurb:  Margate 1920. The Great War is over but Britain is still to find peace and its spirit is not yet mended. Edward and William have returned from the front as changed men. Together they have survived grotesque horrors and remain haunted by memories of comrades who did not come home. The summer season in Margate is a chance for them to rebuild their lives and reconcile the past. Evelyn and Catherine are young women ready to live to live life to the full. Their independence has been hard won and, with little knowledge of the cost of their freedom, they are ready to face new challenges side by side. Can they define their own future and open their hearts to the prospect of finding love? Will the summer of 1920 be a turning point for these new friends and the country?

Amazon UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/Blue-Bench-Paul-Marriner/dp/0992964881/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1534257740&sr=1-1&keywords=the+blue+bench+paul+marriner

Extract From THE BLUE BENCH

Hi and thanks for joining me at BookLoverWorm for the final article as part of the blog tour for The Blue Bench, based around an extract from the book.

When considering a suitable extract from I thought to take into account that it needed to be entertaining and representative but shouldn’t give away too much and certainly no spoilers.

But, in isolation, how entertaining could an extract be? So I thought some context would help and then wondered if you might be interested to know what I’d hoped to achieve when writing that particular scene. What was its purpose within the narrative and what did I hope for the reader to take from it.

So, hoping it’s of interest, here goes.

Scene: Sunday 1st August 1920 – Edward and William

Context: 

It is Edward and William’s third day in Margate. They are there because Edward is a musician playing the summer season. We know the two men fought together in the Great War and that Edward was injured, but the extent of the injury is not yet known. After breakfast they are in the drawing room of the guest house where they have taken rooms.

Extract:

‘Look at this. The nineteen sixteen Christmas edition.’ Edward had been hunting through the magazine rack in the guest house drawing room. There were several issues of Tit–Bits which he passed over, initially choosing an issue of Nash’s And Pall Mall Magazine, but changing his mind on seeing the magazine underneath – Blighty, Christmas 1916 issue. ‘Where were we?’ He held it up to show William.

‘Hadn’t we just finished up at Ancre? Were we resting behind lines?’

‘I think so. That was the last Christmas we were over there.’

‘Your last Christmas. I had one other.’ William reminded him.

‘I’d have swapped, given the … circumstances.’ Edward lisped the last word and flicked through the magazine. ‘I remember this one. Didn’t one of the men receive a couple of copies from his brother up at HQ, together with some French postcards?’

‘That’s so, though the ladies in the postcards didn’t look particularly French, seeings ‘ow they had no clothes on.’

‘Still, brightened Christmas that year.’

‘Though you wouldn’t let the younger lads share round the postcards, as I recall. You made me confiscate them. Didn’t young Kayst in particular have a right moan?’

‘He did. You wanted to put him on a charge, insubordination or some such rubbish. I should have let all the lads see them. What happened to those postcards?’

‘I’ve still got them,’ said William.

‘Those postcards were probably the closest young Kayst ever came to a fuck, before …’ Edward’s voice tailed away.

‘Poor Kayst,’ said William.

‘And I remember we had to explain a lot of the jokes in the magazine to him. Not the brightest lad, but a good heart.’

‘I suppose.’ William acknowledged. Edward flicked further through the magazine without paying attention and, after a minute, asked,

‘Do you ever wonder if perhaps Kayst made it out?’

William shook his head. ‘What? No, of course not. Don’t be daft. He didn’t. We saw.’

‘Did we? See him? I don’t think I did. One second he was there, then I looked away, to you, then looked back and he was gone. In a second … less.’

‘I saw.’

‘Did you? You were looking at me, waving and shouting. Then I turned back and he was … just gone, not there.’

‘Does it matter?’

‘No. But sometimes, I wonder, it might be easier, mightn’t it? If I’d seen him … go … knew for sure …’

‘What, you mean maybe he somehow survived, hid, escaped and is living the life of Riley somewhere?’

‘No, but, I didn’t actually see him … go. And sometimes I just … I don’t know.’ Edward looked away, turned a few pages of the magazine then tossed it over to William, saying, ‘I’m bored.’

‘It’s a beautiful day, we should go and explore Margate.’ William stubbed out his cigarette and stood as if that might persuade Edward. The drawing room overlooked the back of the house where a gardener weeded the flower beds. The garden was partly in the shade of the house itself but the sun bathed the bottom half where a patch had been left to untended grass and wild flowers.

‘We explored yesterday. And, while Margate is a nice town, I’m still bored.’

‘You don’t mean bored. You’re missing your practise.’ William sat back down.

That was nearer the truth and Edward nodded acknowledgement. ‘All right. It is a beautiful day. We don’t need to be at the auditorium until four this afternoon. What shall we do?’

‘Five this afternoon will be plenty early enough.’

‘I know, but I want to be there at four …’

‘… in case the piano is free.’

‘And I want to know if Mr. Taylor has resolved that problem. I told him there’s something not right about the A six key, but I can’t tell if it’s a tuning issue or something wrong with the mechanism.’

‘I’m sure he’ll sort it.’

‘And I do need the practise.’

‘No, you don’t.’ William lit another cigarette as the maid entered. He caught her eye before she could begin plumping cushions on the settee in the window bay. ‘Now, Georgette, I expect you know Margate. What should we do today? How can we entertain my friend on this fine Sunday morning?’

They had first met the maid on the Friday, when they arrived, then on the Saturday and Sunday mornings, when serving breakfast. Knowing they would be there for a while William had made introductions but Edward guessed she was not yet accustomed to his face as she looked away to answer. ‘There is a new …’ she hesitated over the unfamiliar words, ‘… scenic railway … at Dreamland. The ride opened a few weeks past. They say it is the biggest outside America. Maybe two kilometre long. I hear it’s very … exciting.’ Georgette’s English was good and the French accent charming.

‘There you are Edward. Scenic railway, Dreamland. Two kilometres, a proper mile, at least. Though I believe the ride would be more exciting with a French lass alongside.’ He turned to Georgette. ‘Your English is excellent. You’ve been here long?’

Georgette smiled. ‘Oui, a long time. Or Monsieur might like the shell grotto. It is hundreds of years old, they say.’

‘Edward, a shell grotto. We should see for ourselves. Or perhaps Georgette could show us.’

‘Perhaps another day Monsieur.’ She was still smiling and Edward thought the smile promised mischief. And there was no doubting the allure in her accent.

‘Could we have a cup of tea, here in the drawing room?’ Edward asked Georgette, looking down as he spoke.

‘I am sorry Monsieur. There is no … refreshing … after breakfast and before lunchtime.’

‘See Edward, no reason to sit here.’ William stood again and this time Edward joined him.
Behind the scene:

Though only a short  scene I recall spending a lot of time trying to provide a lot of information in a concise but natural way, at the same time as showing a little more about how three of the main protagonists interact. Much of the information included is essential and is the first time it has been referenced. In simple terms … 

… there is confirmation that Edward and William fought together, Edward had the superior rank but did not see out the war at the front.

… we learn that their platoon included a young man called Kayst who didn’t survive the war and there are glimpses of the manner of his death.

… Kayst was not the smartest lad in the platoon and we can infer from Edward’s attitude that Kayst’s dying affected him deeply – he is dwelling on it. Kayst will become essential to the narrative both as an individual and as a symbol of a lost generation.

… we hear about the saucy postcards and that William kept them for himself – a small indicator to his personality. The postcards will play a greater part in the story later on.

… Edward is a musician and a perfectionist and that William understands him well.

… later in the scene we are introduced to Georgette for the first time and can see already that she is mor confortable with William than Edward. Georgette will be essential to the narrative.

In addition to the information I‘m hoping the reader take away indicators to the symbiotic nature of Edward and William’s relationship and Edward’s sadness and confusion at how one of his men died.

So, although not a big scene it is one of the most important foundation scenes in the book.

I hope this is of interest and, if after reading the book, readers have any particular scenes they’d like me to look at in similar detail then I’d be happy to do so – perhaps contact BookLoverWorm and suggest a scene.

Paul Marriner

About the author:

Paul grew up in a west London suburb and now lives in Berkshire with his wife and two children. He is passionate about music, sport and, most of all, writing, on which he now concentrates full-time. Paul has written four novels and his primary literary ambition is that you enjoy reading them while he is hard at work on the next one (but still finding time to play drums with Redlands and Rags 2 Riches).

Twitter :  @marriner_p