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Readalong Round-Up: When Women Were Dragons – Kelly Barnhill

I took part in another Tandem Collective readalong last week – this time for Kelly Barnhill’s first YA novel, When Women Were Dragons.

A rollicking feminist tale set in 1950s America where thousands of women have spontaneously transformed into dragons, exploding notions of a woman’s place in the world and expanding minds about accepting others for who they really are. • The first adult novel by the Newbery award-winning author of The Girl Who Drank the Moon

Alex Green is a young girl in a world much like ours, except for its most seminal event: the Mass Dragoning of 1955, when hundreds of thousands of ordinary wives and mothers sprouted wings, scales, and talons; left a trail of fiery destruction in their path; and took to the skies. Was it their choice? What will become of those left behind? Why did Alex’s beloved aunt Marla transform but her mother did not? Alex doesn’t know. It’s taboo to speak of.

Forced into silence, Alex nevertheless must face the consequences of this astonishing event: a mother more protective than ever; an absentee father; the upsetting insistence that her aunt never even existed; and
watching her beloved cousin Bea become dangerously obsessed with the forbidden.

In this timely and timeless speculative novel, award-winning author Kelly Barnhill boldly explores rage, memory, and the tyranny of forced limitations. When Women Were Dragons exposes a world that wants to keep women small—their lives and their prospects—and examines what happens when they rise en masse and take up the space they deserve.

My thoughts: first up, I love the cover, all those lush greens and purples, the hint of scales and then that eye in the bottom left corner, hinting at hidden things and the mystery within.

Obviously being published right now when reproductive rights in the US are at risk makes a book about women – wives and mothers all, as the book says, spontaneously turning into giant fire breathing mythic beasts, breaking free of society’s confines, feels very prescient. As the law seeks to repress women yet again, an age old conflict, the idea of one of the oldest creatures in our collective folklore being within women is very intriguing. I wouldn’t mind being a dragon sometimes.

This is an incredibly moving book, I cried a few times, and very honest. Alex is a wonderful protagonist, my heart really ached for her as she loses her aunt, her mum, her home and struggles to get by, taking so much care of her sister Beatrice.

I was angry with her stupid dad and wanted a dragon to eat him – what a terrible man, so weak and cruel. Who in their right mind treats any child the way he does. He’s pathetic.

I loved librarian Mrs Gyzinska, she was amazing, what an incredible woman, total hero. Her support of Alex and Bea is so important to Alex’s survival.

Overall I thought this was a powerful, timely book about women, their strength and courage, about change and hope. I really enjoyed it once I got into the story, the use of extracts from various documents got a bit grating at times – I cared more about the characters.

I’ve posted the challenges from the readalong below – if you read the book, maybe you’d like to share your thoughts inspired by these starters.

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Blog Tour: Of Legends and Roses – Ashley W. Slaughter

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Welcome to the book tour for Of Legends and Roses by Ashley W. Slaughter. Read on for details and the chance to win a fabulous giveaway! Oh and stay tuned for the release of the second installment in the series Of Deceit and Snow which comes out this November!

Of Legends and Roses (The Crowned Chronicles #1)

Publication Date: August 31, 2021

Genre: YA Fantasy

A realm touched and forgotten by magic.

A young queen orphaned by disease.

A prince after her heart.

Queen Rosemary Avelia knows little about ruling a kingdom, and even less so about the ancient legends of her land. Since no one has been born Talented in centuries, she simply scoffs at the idea of magic. However, when the charming Prince Gryffin Danicio arrives just as her kingdom is under a deadly threat, he shows her that not all kingdoms of the Magian Peninsula have so quickly dismissed the legends of the Talented. Perhaps the Talented should not so easily be forgotten.

Of Legends and Roses is the first book in The Crowned Chronicles, a series following passionate and determined Queen Rosemary as she faces reign, love, the threat of war, and the mystifying world of the Talented.

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Teaser

I heard Zeke’s voice again. Point your blade downward.

With every emotion swirling through my head, I almost laughed; even in his absence, Zeke was trying to tell me what to do.

But I listened to him as I pushed up from the cobblestoned street and let the tip of my sword hang downward toward the ground. Don’t relax. I tried to feign fatigue, which really wasn’t too much of a challenge, but I kept my arms taut. Ready.

A wicked smile spread across my opponent’s face, and he strode forward, his weapon glinting in the sun, ready to strike.

Then, just before I was within his sword’s reach, I shot the tip of my blade upward, and I thrust my sword forward with every fiber of strength contained within me.

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About the Author

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Ashley W. Slaughter was born and raised in south Louisiana, among sugarcane fields lining the banks of the Mississippi River. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from the University of Louisiana at Monroe in 2018 and worked as a wildlife biologist before pursuing her career as an author. Writing has always been a passion of hers, as shown through her near-to-bursting manila folder of short stories she’d written throughout grade school, and the COVID-19 pandemic has allowed her to rediscover this passion. She enjoys hiking, kayaking, spending time with her husband and pets, and, of course, reading.

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My thoughts: I really enjoyed this book, Rose is a great protagonist, always trying to live up to her parents, but even when she falls short, she doesn’t give up. She wants to be the best Queen she can, even if that means giving up some of the things she wants.

She’s also a good big sister, caring about her younger sisters, aware they don’t remember their parents the way she does.

I liked her relationships with her servants, advisers and friends – she’s aware of the boundaries between them because of who she is but is still able to talk to them as people, not in a high handed “Queenly” way.

The plot is interesting without being overdone and story moves at a good pace, keeping me engaged and keen to read more – something not every writer can do. Fingers crossed book 2 is as good.

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*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Book Blitz: Insidious Scars – Natalie J. Reddy

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Happy publication day to author Natalie J. Reddy! Just look at this beauty! Read on for more info about Insidious Scars (Scars of Days Forgotton #5)!

Psst! There’s also a giveaway!

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Insidious Scars (Scars of Days Forgotten Series Book 5)

Publication Date: May 17th, 2022 🎉

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy/ Paranormal Romance

This is what she’s been training for…

Jyoti has felt like an outcast all her life. Living among Psi with extraordinary power can be isolating and dangerous when you have no power of your own. But in weakness there is strength, a strength Jyoti’s mother has been training her to use to her advantage. When rumors of war begin circulating, Jyoti is offered an opportunity to help protect her people. However, it would mean giving up what she loves most. But when she finds out about a weapon that could cause the destruction of all mankind, she begins to question everything, even her own heart.

What do you do when protecting the greater good means you’ll lose everything you love?

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About the Author

Author

Natalie J. Reddy is a Canadian Author who spends her days trying to escape reality by making up stories about the characters in her head.

Natalie realized at an early age that she had a passion for storytelling and that passion followed her into adulthood. There is nothing she loves more than to be pulled into a fictional world whether it’s in her own writing or the writing of others. Natalie is the author of the Scar of Days Forgotten series, a New Adult Urban Fantasy series with characters who have supernatural abilities and dark and sometimes unknown pasts to overcome.

When she’s not writing, Natalie can be found having all sorts of real-life adventures with her husband and daughter or curled up with a good book and a cup of tea.

To keep up to date on upcoming books, subscribe to Natalie’s newsletter at nataliejreddy.com

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Blog Tour: Black Water Sister – Zen Cho

This mischievous Malaysian-set novel is an adventure featuring family, ghosts and local gods – from Hugo Award winning novelist Zen Cho.

Her grandmother may be dead, but she’s not done with life . . . yet.

As Jessamyn packs for Malaysia, it’s not a good time to start hearing a bossy voice in her head. Broke, jobless and just graduated, she’s abandoning America to return ‘home’. But she last saw Malaysia as a toddler – and is completely unprepared for its ghosts, gods and her eccentric family’s shenanigans.

Jess soon learns her ‘voice’ belongs to Ah Ma, her late grandmother. She worshipped the Black Water Sister, a local deity. And when a business magnate dared to offend her goddess, Ah Ma swore revenge. Now she’s decided Jess will help, whether she wants to or not.

As Ah Ma blackmails Jess into compliance, Jess fights to retain control. But her irrepressible relative isn’t going to let a little thing like death stop her, when she can simply borrow Jess’s body to make mischief. As Jess is drawn ever deeper into a world of peril and family secrets, getting a job becomes the least of her worries.

My thoughts: this was a really fun, and funny, read. I have a few Malaysian friends but I don’t know a huge amount about the country. This really brought it to life, Jess is a great protagonist. Seeing Penang through her eyes, as a newcomer, was a great way to learn about the city and its people. I loved her perspective on her family, all the crazy things they did, the endless rounds of entertaining guests and visiting friends, the way her mum and dad just got dragged along behind her auntie.

I also really liked learning about the religious beliefs of many Malaysians – worshipping hundreds of gods, some with only a little power, based in one small area, like the Black Water Sister of the title. A vengeful god, who really doesn’t like men, understandable when you learn more about her, as Jess does. I also loved Jess’ opinionated grandmother – Ah Ma. Despite being dead, she’s got plenty to say, about everything. I’m glad my dead relatives are safely tucked up in the afterlife (whatever that is) and not hanging about.

The book was colourful and clever and made me really hungry (Malaysian food is delicious btw). I want a sequel, see what Jess does next with her life.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Blog Tour: Equinox – David Towsey

In this world, two souls inhabit a single body, one by day, one by night. But though
they live alongside one another, their ends do not always align. For Special Inspector
Morden, whose hunt for a dangerous witch takes him far from home, this will be a problem…
Christophor Morden lives by night. His day-brother, Alexsander, knows only the sun. They are two souls in a single body, in a world where identities change with the rising and setting of the sun. Night-brother or day-sister, one never sees the light, the other knows nothing of the night.
Early one evening, Christophor is roused by a call to the city prison. A prisoner has torn his eyes out and cannot say why. Yet worse: in the sockets that once held his eyes, teeth are growing. The police suspect the supernatural, so Christophor, a member of the king’s special inspectorate, is charged with finding the witch responsible.
Night-by-night, Christophor’s investigation leads him ever further from home, toward a backwards village on the far edge of the kingdom. But the closer he gets to the truth, the more his day-brother’s actions frustrate him. Who is Alexsander protecting? What does he not want Christophor to discover?
And all the while, an ancient and apocalyptic ritual creeps closer to completion…

David Towsey is a graduate of the Creative Writing programmes at Bath Spa University and Aberystwyth University. Born in Dorset, he now lives in Cardiff with his girlfriend and their growing board game collection. Together, they write under the pseudonym of D.K. Fields
whose Tales of Fenest trilogy is also published by Head of Zeus.
David’s first novel, Your Brother’s Blood, was published by Quercus, and was the first in the Walkin’ Trilogy. He is also one half of the indie games company, Pill Bug Interactive, who have released three titles across PC and Nintendo Switch™.

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My thoughts: this book had a really intriguing premise that it isn’t worth thinking too hard about as it distracts from the mystery at the heart of the novel. The concept of two people sharing a body, one by night, one by day was interesting, you can’t trust your own body because it’s not always yours. But can you trust the other half of yourself? Christophor is the detective but Alexsander, a musician, is putting the information gathered by night together too.

As strange occurrences add up and as neither half of Christophor/Alexsander can remember the others’ wakeful time fully, things get more intense. What is going on in the Eber house, and how do Christophor’s visions fit in?

Clever, layered and sinister, this is a fascinating and involving book.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Blog Tour: The Girl and the Moon – Mark Lawrence

The fate of the world hangs from the Moon.

The green world overwhelms all of Yaz’s expectations. Everything seems different but some things remain the same: her old enemies are still bent on her destruction.

The Corridor abounds with plenty and unsuspected danger. To stand a chance against the eyeless priest, Eular, and the god-like city-mind, Seus, Yaz will need to learn fast and make new friends.

The Convent of Sweet Mercy, like the Corridor itself, is packed with peril and opportunity. Yaz needs the nuns’ help – but first they want to execute her.

The fate of everyone squeezed between the Corridor’s vast walls, and ultimately the fate of those labouring to survive out on ice itself, hangs from the moon, and the battle to save the moon centres on the Ark of the Missing, buried beneath the emperor’s palace. Everyone wants Yaz to be the key that will open the Ark – the one the wise have sought for generations. But sometimes wanting isn’t enough.

Mark Lawrence was born in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, to British parents but moved to the UK at the age of one. He went back to the US after taking a PhD in mathematics at Imperial College to work on a variety of research projects including the ‘Star Wars’ missile defence programme. Returning to the UK, he has worked mainly on image processing and decision/reasoning theory. He says he never had any ambition to be a writer so was very surprised when a half-hearted attempt to find an agent turned into a global publishing deal overnight. His first trilogy, The Broken Empire, has been universally acclaimed as a ground-breaking work of fantasy, and both The Liar’s Key and The Wheel of Osheim have won the Gemmell Legend award for best fantasy novel. Mark is married, with four children, and lives in Bristol.

My thoughts: I’ve really enjoyed this trilogy, Yaz is a great protagonist, strong, determined, smart and with a keen sense of self preservation. Even being sentenced to drowning isn’t going to stop her and her friends from carrying out their plan to reunite the shiphearts and open the Ark.

But the forces ranged against them aren’t going to stop, they want the same thing but for different reasons. Seus wants to open the Ark for his own purposes and they’re not good.

I got a bit confused trying to work out the links between this trilogy and The Book of the Ancestor trilogy – especially the timescale but once I stopped doing that and just went with the final adventure in the undercity, time stones, evil mages, kickass nuns and all, I really enjoyed returning to this world and finding out whether they all survive. The time travel bit at the end got me a bit muddled (I am not always good with such concepts) but it was really enjoyable.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Blog Tour: Knave of Secrets – Alex Livingstone

A twisty tale of magicians, con artists and card games, where secrets are traded and gambled like coin, for fans of The Lies of Locke Lamora and The Mask of Mirrors.

Never stake more than you can afford to lose.

When failed magician turned cardsharp Valen Quinol is given the chance to play in the Forbearance Game—the invitation-only tournament where players gamble with secrets—he can’t resist. Or refuse, for that matter, according to the petty gangster sponsoring his seat at the table. Valen beats the man he was sent to play, and wins the most valuable secret ever staked in the history of the tournament.

Now Valen and his motley crew are being hunted by thieves, gangsters, spies and wizards, all with their own reasons for wanting what’s in that envelope. It’s a game of nations where Valen doesn’t know all the rules or who all the players are, and can’t see all the moves. But he does know if the secret falls into the wrong hands, it could plunge the whole world into war…

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Alex Livingston grew up in various quiet New England towns before moving to Buffalo, NY to study English at Canisius College. He writes SFF prose and interactive fiction. Alex is married and lives in an old house with his brilliant wife and a pile of aged videogame systems.

My thoughts: this was an interesting premise – staking a secret on a card game, that should you lose, would no longer be yours. But first Valen and his friends have other games to play. When they become the owners of this secret, one that threatens to destabilise the carefully maintained political balance, they must risk everything to stop it causing war or worse.

I liked Valen, Margo, Jaq and Ten, the interplay between them was intriguing – the trust they seem to share, but always carefully, you can’t really trust another cheat. Their plans and double crosses, the careful tricks they use to win, but just enough so it doesn’t become too obvious.

It was a bit slow going but once the plot and the secret that lay behind everything, started to gather pace and draw in other players, not all of whom know what’s going on yet, it got a lot more enjoyable and interesting.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Blog Tour: No Gods, Only Monsters – Steve McHugh

Today as well as a review of a new book, I’ve got a great piece on historical research from the author, Steve McHugh. He’s sharing his thoughts on researching and some of the things he investigated in the course of writing his new book – No Gods, Only Monsters.

Diana, the Roman Goddess of the hunt, lives alone on the far edge of the Roman Empire. When an old friend arrives looking for help, Diana finds herself thrust back into her old life, and old problems.

With innocent lives caught in the crossfire, Diana realizes that the only way to ensure the safety of her friends and loved ones is to do what she does best: hunt her enemies down.

Historical Research – Steve McHugh

I love research. Not to put too finer point on it, I can get lost in research as I descend that rabbit hole into a world of stuff I probably never needed to know. My brain is full of pieces of information that was useful for a tiny fraction of a book and is now just taking up space that would probably be better served by something useful. 

I’ve spent most of my life being a fan of ancient Rome, Greece, Egypt and the like, and I’ve read countless books on the subjects, so when it came to actually writing a book on the subject I was all set to go. Except not really. 

Here’s a short list of things I had to actually research as I was writing No Gods, Only Monsters:

Roman Occupation of Macedonia. 

Gorgons.

Horses.

Time is takes to go from A to B by horseback. 

Wild animals kept in Ancient Rome. 

Ships.

The History of the city of Troy.

Wild Boar.

Sign language in Ancient Times.

There are probably a bunch of other ones, and most of those were for only a sentence or two, maybe even only a few words, but they were all information I needed to know to ensure that my book was correct. Yes, the book is about magic, and Pantheons of gods, and the like, but the small details that help set the scene need to be right. Or as right as they can be with a little artistic license. 

Research is a lot of fun, but sometimes it’s also a lot of time and effort for a small detail, and it’s easy to go off on a tangent and read about things you might find interesting, but actually offer little to no use for the book you’re trying to write (or maybe that’s just me).

So, yes, research is necessary, and fun, and interesting, and important part of storytelling and worldbuilding, but it’s also a black hole of productivity from which there’s no escape. 

Thankfully, over the years, I’ve managed to notice the signs, usually after I’ve clicked on my tenth Wikipedia link and am looking at something which had nothing to do with the original idea.

My thoughts:  this was a really intersting fantasy novel featuring gods from ancient pantheons – including Greek, Roman and Norse. I really liked the versions of the gods created here – they felt a lot more human, despite being super powered divinities, or in Diana’s case half were-bear as well.

I liked the premise too, in order to protect some mythological creatures from being exploited, Diana is asked to join Artemis, and a dwarf called Skolt, Medusa and some other brave beings to rescue some minotaurs from a cabal of gods and “heroes” with bad intentions.

This is the first in a new series, Antiquity Chronicles, featuring Diana and other characters from ancient myths and legends, which sounds like it could be very fun.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Blog Tour: Killian the Assassin – Wendy L. Anderson

KilliantheAssassin copy

We are thrilled to share a brand-new series by Wendy L. Anderson starting with Killian the Assassin! Read on for more info and a chance to win a paperback copy of the book!

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Killian the Assassin (Legends of Everclearing #1)

Publication Date: March 30, 2022

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Assassin, thief, arrogant rogue…

Pagan drumming in Killian’s veins would never let his sword fail or his heart stop thirsting for blood. It felt as if the old gods gathered around him, waiting for blood to spill.

Killian the Assassin has been hired to guard the daughter of a wealthy Lord. Blackmailed into going on a perilous journey over treacherous seas, and among violent mountains, he faces danger and demons. Fighting the bloodlust that always follows him, Killian discovers a lonely, innocent girl who did not betray but has been betrayed. She deserves love and protection, but is he the one to give her what she needs?

Tainted by the need for salvation, driven by sword lust, darkness follows them as together they become the first in the Legends of Everclearing.

Killian the Assassin! He’ll double-cross you, bed your wife, and steal your gold, all with a smile.

Follow Killian the Assassin on his journey in this new fantasy series, the Legends of Everclearing!

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Extract

The young nobleman’s companions followed their friend through the tavern doors. Shoulder to shoulder, they stood swaying before the challenger. There were five of the virile youths, each well-armed, and each drunk enough not to recognize the danger they were in.

The street was wide, and the front of the tavern was well-lit with lamps and torches. The people circled them and one of the musicians edged forward. His eyes gleamed with bloodlust as he began to pound a drum. The beat repeated bum bum bumpum bum bumpum bumpum bum bum. The priestesses threw magic herbs into the air and one of them began to chant, calling on the gods of war. The sounds echoed out into the night. Killian’s blood was fired by the pagan drumming and the chanting of the priestesses. They swayed their hips, whipped their long hair, and undulated suggestively, all because of the promise of bloodshed. The duel Killian orchestrated to complete the assassination he had been hired for, turned into a sacrificial ceremony.

Killian never understood why some towns on Celtica still followed the old ways. This had happened to him many times in the past all over the continent of Celtica. More than once when he dueled this ritual took place if one of the priestesses or druids were nearby. They always seemed to appear out of nowhere. Killian neither stopped nor welcomed the practice, as it was part of Celtica, and he gave into it. The superstitions of the people demanded it. Something about it was primal and raw, just like the fighting. It stirred his blood, as did the prospect of danger and the scent of blood in the air. The drum repeated bum bum bumpum bum bumpum bumpum bum bum. It felt as if the old gods gathered around them, waiting for blood to spill.

Killian surveyed the group of drunken noblemen with cold blue eyes and tried to hide the grin that was curling his lips. Not that he enjoyed making fools out of drunkards, but he enjoyed taking their money, and there were five of them. Challenging fools, too drunk to know better, kept his pockets filled with gold. Never once in all his years of dueling for money had he ever lost a fight, and it fed the bloodlust that was part of who he was. The excuse of a duel presented the opportunity to commit the assassination he was hired for. The pagan beat continued, urging Killian on.

The patrons of the Ram’s Horn Tavern, who rushed out to witness the duel, formed a wide circle. The barmaids came out with a few of the other women who were curious enough to watch the drama of a duel unfold. Many of them swayed to the beat of the drum and answered the priestesses’ chanting.

The proprietor of the Ram’s Horn Tavern came rushing out, begged the men to shake hands, be friends and return inside to their ale. His appeals fell uselessly on the young noblemen’s drunken ears and Killian’s as well. The pagan drumming in his veins would not let him stop now. He was ready. The ale he drank did not affect his fighting skill. Regardless, no matter how much he drank, he could never get drunk, so this was going to be easy. Though he was sober and could forget the insults he had instigated, he seemed angry enough to let the duel continue for his profit.

“Ah sir, please let us return to more peaceful pursuits. I’m sure the young sirs meant no offense.” The proprietor’s frantic entreaties were ignored. “Boys will be boys!” He gave a nervous laugh. Whether his concern was for Killian, or the five young men, was unclear.

More people joined the crowd coming from down the street to watch the ensuing duel. They created a circle around the duelers, watching for the fight to begin. The flickering torches added heat and excitement to the primitive scene. The beat of the drum echoed, bum bum bumpum bum bumpum bumpum bum bum.

“You are all quite drunk, so I will allow you the opportunity to apologize to me for the insults you have given, pay me a large purse of gold for the damage done and I will let you go on your way unharmed,” Killian shouted at the young men.

“Who do you think you’re speaking to!” One of the other young men staggered forward. “There are five of us and only…” he squinted one eye and peered, “one of you! You can’t take us all!”

“You’re all drunk and stupid is what you are. It would almost be unfair of me to fight you, but you have ruined my expensive boots and insulted my honor. Now, pay me gold or pay with your lives!”

The young noblemen blustered indignantly and drew their swords. Maybe it was the cold night air or the threat of death that sobered them a little, but they straightened and took fighting stances while attempting to look as threatening as possible.

“Last chance boys…pay up and be on your way, or I promise none of you will live to see the sunrise.”

Drawing his sword, Killian’s eyes were glistening with anticipation, and he was ready to fight. Everything came into sharp focus and his hearing distinguished several night sounds over the endless drumming. Crickets sang and a horse whinnied in the distance. Killian’s eyesight sharpened on his foes and his intended victim. The drum beat on. The priestesses chanted. Torches smoked and the night wind stilled.

The large crowd was anxious, and the proprietor was wringing his hands. No doubt worried about the tabs that were not going to get paid if any of the young noblemen were killed, or if people sneaked off without paying. Killian glanced over and saw Lord Doyle Warfield had exited the Ram’s Horn Tavern with his guards and was watching the fighters with intense interest.

There must have been an unseen signal because, all at once, the young noblemen rushed Killian with shouts and waving swords. Even though the blades were waved by drunken fools, they were still sharp and deadly. However, Killian was always prepared and could not be caught off guard. Then it happened. He struck with skilled precision. Blocking the first attack, he knocked away two swords coming toward his throat. His movements were almost a dance, slash, strike, and stab. The metallic clang of sword on sword rang out, accompanying the sound of the drums. Sidestepping, he leaned to his left, blocked a downward strike with his sword, and slashed out with the dagger in his left hand. Another sword block and a kick to the belly, and the first fool went down groaning. As he fell, Killian expertly slashed and severed the boy’s purse dangling from his belt. It fell to the dirt.

For the next assailant, it was a punch to the jaw. Killian had a vicious left hook that connected hard with the young man’s nose, which gave a satisfying crack. With the follow-through, the dagger still in his grip, sliced a shallow gash into the boy’s face. The three that were left crowded forward, fouling each other as they tried to stab and hack at Killian. One had to fall back, so offset by drunkenness, as not to be much help. Killian’s sword sang and he unarmed another attacker before engaging with the next. So, the fight went into a whirl of striking sword blows that could not be met by his speed and skill. Each youth eventually fell. The one he had been hired to kill died quickly.

Killian decided against killing the rest of the fools and had them unarmed, wounded, and unconscious on the ground. It had happened so fast that the crowd barely had time to cheer and bet on the outcome. Sheathing his sword and not even breathing hard, Killian surveyed his fallen foes with disgust, then went to gather his winnings. Rummaging through each youth’s coat and belt, he confiscated their money pouches. Later, he would collect his fee from the man who hired him for the assassination. It had been too easy.

About the Author

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Wendy L. Anderson is a Colorado native and mother of two boys. She has an English Degree from Regis University and writes books, short stories and poetry. Wendy is a devout reader of the classics, fantasy, sci-fi and historical fiction. She has decided it is time to write down the fantasies from her own mind. Writing about everything from fantastical worlds to the stuff of her dreams she takes her stories along interesting paths while portraying characters and worlds she sees in her mind’s eye. Her goal is to deviate from common themes, write in original directions and transport her reader to the worlds of her creation.

Can’t get enough? Read the Kingdom of Jior epic fantasy series:

Of Demon Kind

Redemption of the Fallen

Heirs of Jior

Iron and the Arrow

The Last Ny-Failen

Wendy L. Anderson | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads

Click the link below for a chance to win a paperback edition of the book (North America Only)

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My thoughts: don’t let the title mislead you, although Killian has been an assassin he’s now a bodyguard and not a killer for hire, as he escorts Lady Pearl and her rather unpleasant father on a journey to Sorn. He discovers some things about himself and falls in love, managing to stay faithful and cast off his previous bad boy character.

The first in a series of adventures featuring Killian and Pearl, there’s monsters of both the demonic and human kind to vanquish as they seek the homeland of their Ghost Wing fathers.

Book Tour Schedule

May 2nd

R&R Book Tours (Kick-Off) http://rrbooktours.com

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May 3rd

@hodophile_z (Review) https://www.instagram.com/hodophile_z/

@books_inthecity (Review) https://www.instagram.com/books_inthecity/

@mels_booksandhooks (Review) https://www.instagram.com/mels_booksandhooks/

Nesie’s Place (Spotlight) https://nesiesplace.wordpress.com

May 4th

Liliyana Shadowlyn (Review) https://lshadowlynauthor.com/

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Rambling Mads (Review) http://ramblingmads.com

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May 5th

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Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.com/

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May 6th

The Invisible Moth (Review) https://daleydowning.wordpress.com

Bunny’s Reviews (Review) https://bookwormbunnyreviews.blogspot.com/

Sophril Reads (Review) http://sophrilreads.wordpress.com

@gryffindorbookishnerd (Review) https://www.instagram.com/gryffindorbookishnerd/

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Blog Tour: The Carnival of Ash – Tom Beckerlegge

An extravagant, lyrical fantasy about a city of poets and librarians. A city that never was.

Cadenza is the City of Words, a city run by poets, its skyline dominated by the steepled towers of its libraries, its heart beating to the stamp and thrum of the printing presses in the Printing Quarter.

Carlo Mazzoni, a young wordsmith arrives at the city gates intent on making his name as the bells ring out with the news of the death of the city’s poet-leader. Instead, he finds himself embroiled with the intrigues of a city in turmoil, the looming prospect of war with their rival Venice ever-present. A war that threatens not only to destroy Cadenza but remove it from history altogether…

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Tom Beckerlegge grew up in the northwest of England in a house filled with books. Writing as Tom Becker, he won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize with his debut novel; The Carnival of Ash is his first adult book. He lives in Enfield with his wife and young son.

My thoughts: this was an interesting collection of tales set in my mysterious city of words Cadenza, rival of Venice, home of poets. Building into an over-arcing story of the destruction of the city by its inhabitants.

From poet turned gravedigger’s apprentice Carlo, to the Duelling Counts, a murder in the monastery, dungeons beneath the ruler’s palace, Cadenza’s secrets and hidden terrors are revealed as the city slowly heads towards its end.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.