Thursday, July 20, 2017

Elusive (Vampirica, Book 2) by Aria Sparke

Release date: June 21, 2017
Subgenre: Urban fantasy, Paranormal romance

About Elusive


Lily Winter flees from Tarek, the vampiric leader of the Ruberios, and the terrifying Berisha clan while mourning her young friend’s death. Although desperately missing Flynn, she flies alone across the world to an uncertain future. A shocking surprise awaits her in Australia, spinning her belief and trust into chaos. Will her blossoming romance with gorgeous Flynn ramp to a new level? Or will she fall under the glamour of the hot and irresistible Tarek? Follow Lily as she races to develop her witchcraft while balancing her dream to become a doctor. Venture deeper with her into a world of new witches and dhampirs and discover whether she can find the courage to evade and fight dark vampiric forces.


In the early hours of daylight, the plane dropped from the bright blue sky to an airport surrounded by pale olive hills. Flight made me vulnerable and uneasy, so when we touched down on the tarmac, I was grateful to be on solid ground once more. As I scrambled from the plane, I may as well have been an astronaut climbing from his shuttle onto a foreign moon. Everyone I loved was so far away, and I was so completely alone.

After witnessing Bella’s death, leaving Flynn behind and flying across the world, I battled to maintain composure while waiting for my luggage in the terminal. Nauseated and exhausted, I felt my head spin. Holding my handbag tightly in one hand, I grabbed my case with the other before negotiating the usual security and screening. Emerging into the outside lounge, I searched the gathered crowd for a sign. Someone holding a card with the words ‘Anubis student’ caught my attention, so I hurried in his direction. Alexis had promised someone would be waiting for me here but had given no names.

Nearing the cardholder, I felt my breath leave my lungs and my legs buckle with shock. My jet lag and the trauma I’d experienced in Wicklow were creating an optical illusion I reasoned as I staggered forward. There could be no other explanation. Surely when the cardholder removed his hat and dark glasses, he would look different.

The mirage shepherded me toward a doorway where I followed him through to a sunlit exterior. He guided me along a path that threaded between stark, angular airport buildings to the outside world that was dazzling and clear. No rain fell and no clouds impeded my vision. Canberra wasn’t like Wicklow, at least not today.

‘How?’ I finally said between clenched teeth when we reached a parking lot far from the pickup area. ‘Who are you?’ My tone echoed my disgust.

He remained silent until he’d ushered me into the passenger seat of the car and closed the door.

I fought to control my anger. ‘You’re dead,’ I accused him after he’d climbed into the driver’s seat. I struggled to make sense of him.

‘I know what you’re thinking, Lily,’ he said quietly in his usual voice.

After he had removed his hat and glasses, I stole glances at this face. It was surreal and frightening seeing him again.

‘I’m so sorry. I don’t know what else to say.’

For the past few years, every time I flew I carried tragedy, so weighty and profound that it was a miracle the planes got off the ground. When my mother and I left Florida to fly to Wicklow, we thought my father was dead. Two years later and burdened by grief again, I jetted to Australia after my mother and Bella’s deaths. It was becoming a soul-destroying pattern leaving me with no reason to continue. Perhaps I was the trouble. If I never planned to travel again, would all those I loved stay safe? I’d have happily kept my feet planted on the Earth if it were so.


About Aria Sparke:

Aria is a fantasy and paranormal author who writes for readers of all ages. Her new series, Vampirica follows the loves and lives of Lily and Avery, brave and beautiful witches. The Vampirica universe overflows with vampires and dhampirs, dangerous and dazzling, who make love and war on shifting nightscapes in North America, Australia and the ancient, Icelandic Galdrar Academy.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Virago One (Ace of Space, Book 2) by John Triptych

Release date: July 18, 2017
Subgenre: Hard science fiction, technothriller

About Virago One


Virago: the codename for a top secret project between ACE Corp and USAF Space Command. Its goal is to deploy the first fusion-powered battleship to ensure American domination of any potential conflict in space.

There’s only one problem: Virago has been stolen.

The world is now at the brink of war as the hijacked spacecraft forges a path of destruction across known space. The task to intercept and retake this dangerous adversary falls on corporate troubleshooter Stilicho Jones and NASA Special Agent Darian Arante, who must overcome their mutual distrust and antagonism just to survive. This time the stakes are higher, the price of failure too catastrophic to imagine.

Combining hard science with heart-stopping thrills, this second book in the Ace of Space series will surely delight fans of Tom Clancy’s The Hunt for Red October, Craig Thomas’s Firefox, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle’s Footfall, and the works of Dale Brown.



 “I can still get you to safety if you follow my instructions carefully,” she said.
Despite the chilly weather, Vlad’s long hair was matted with sweat. Her latest words added to his stress and bewilderment. “What? What kind of game is this?”
“It’s not a game. The authorities have surrounded the place. Two plainclothes FSB agents will enter the café in twenty seconds. I would suggest you activate your personal server right now.”
Vlad’s right hand shook as he reached over to his side and power cycled the fist-sized device on his belt. The moment it went online, a series of letters and numbers appeared on the lenses of his smartglasses. “What … is this?”
“That is the administrator level access code for the Saint Petersburg Police AI network. If you are as good as you claim to be, then you should be able to get out of this yourself,” the voice said. “Ten seconds till they come inside.”
Vlad held his breath. For a brief moment he just sat there, staring off into space. His choices were clear. He would either use everything in his power to escape, or he would give up and be taken into custody, to spend the remaining years of his life in a windowless cell. His smartglass as well as the gloves he wore had a virtual interface system, and he could input code with the flick of his fingers or by using his eye movements. Vlad quickly activated his gloves and began typing furiously with his fingers, moving his digits in the air as each input was virtually recorded on his smartglass interface.
The double doors opened, and two very fit looking men with short haircuts entered. They had bulges in their jackets as they started looking around. The smiling waitress approached them, but the taller of the two waved her away. Vlad noticed them, but he concentrated on the lines of code being displayed on the virtual screen in his left eye. Both men looked in different directions, slowly scanning the room until the one closest to Vlad spotted him. The two men started walking slowly towards him, their right hands reaching into their coats.
The interviewer was telling the truth about the com-link access. Vlad was coding furiously as he inserted his control exploit application into the police server. The resulting breach gave him a clear view of what he was up against. Two more FSB agents waited outside, standing by their car. An aerial police drone was hovering near the roof of the building while two teams of cops were cordoning off the street. The FSB had informed the local police that they needed minor assistance, and they allowed their network to be linked for better coordination. That was their mistake.
The two men stood in front of Vlad, their chiseled faces staring intently at him. “We need you to come with us,” the shorter of the two said.
Vlad continued to add more code into the interface as he looked up at them. “Who? Me?”
“Yes, you,” the taller one said. “Now get up or we will hurt you.”
One of the police cars out in the street suddenly activated its own autodrive feature. The sedan’s wheels burned rubber as it barreled past the surprised cops standing beside it, and the vehicle made a quick turn while continuing to accelerate towards the front doors of the café. The two additional FSB agents standing outside shouted in alarm as they both dove away for safety, just as the police car smashed into the double doors of the establishment.


Four Chapter Preview available at Instafreebie

About John Triptych:

John writes thrillers of differing genres, from hyper-realistic crime books to fantastic, post-apocalyptic sci-fi novels that make you want to turn one more page just before bedtime. A former fanfiction writer turned self-publishing novelist, John Triptych’s varied interests include: reading other people’s books, recreational diving, watching movies and TV, guns, internet, politics, computer and tabletop gaming, cooking, art, architecture, wines, spirits, beer, history and travel.

Monday, July 17, 2017

One of Me is Missing (Minnesota Strange) by Laramie Sasseville

Release date: July 10, 2017
Subgenre: YA fantasy, Coming of age

About One of Me is Missing


To fourteen-year-old Sally Knox, the world is a buffet of fascinating things to do and learn. She wants it all: martial arts, theater, sculpture, cooking, robotics, music, computer science - you name it!
So, what happens when she gets her wish to be in enough places at once to take all the summer school classes she wants? Complications are just the beginning - before the end, one of her goes missing and the rest must come to the rescue or be trapped forever in their multitudinous state.


“This is ridiculous,” one of them said again. “We need to get organized, assign ourselves numbers or something.”
“Numbers are too hierarchical,” another argued. “It would imply one of us was more important than the rest.”
Sally-on-the-bed felt pretty sure she was the first and original Sally, but if they all felt the same way about that… “You’ve got a point. Maybe colors? I’ll be Green.”
“Fine.” Church-going Sally, now fully dressed, ran the brush through her hair. “I’ll be Pink.”
“We hate pink,” another Sally objected.
“I don’t,” Sally Pink said. “Maybe while I’m at church the rest of you can figure out what other differences there are among us.”
“Good idea,” agreed the one who’d declared a dislike of the color pink.
“I’ll be Blue.”
“Purple!” call the one waiting nearest the door.
Sally Pink slipped out along with Purple as the most recent bathroom user returned and asked, “What’s going on?” Sally Pink made a clatter as she went down the stairs.
 “We’re choosing color-designations,” one answered. “I’ll be Orange.”
“Can I be green?”
“Already taken!” Sally Green replied from the bed, where Sally Blue had squeezed in to sit beside her.
“Okay, I’ll be Yellow.”
“I’ll be Black,” the one who’d been sorting out shoes in the closet piped up.
“What does that leave?”
“You can be Red,” Sally Yellow suggested.
“Too dull. No. I’ll be Crimson.”
“Well then, I’ll be Saffron,” Sally-formerly-known-as-Yellow declared.
“Is that everybody?” Sally Black asked. “I think I’ve got enough footwear for everyone. I count eight, including Pink and Purple. Pink’s got a pair of sandals. We’ve got four pair of sneakers, two more pair of sandals and a pair of flip flops, unless anyone wants to wear our winter boots.”
“The pair of sneakers in back should have been thrown out a long time ago.” Crimson wrinkled her nose.
“I don’t care. I’ll take those,” Black said.
By this time everyone had donned a T-shirt and some sort of pants. Saffron handed out socks to go with the sneakers. “At this rate we’ll have to do laundry every day.”
“No way,” Green said. “Mom would notice. We’d run out of detergent in no time.”
“This won’t work,” Purple returned. “We can’t all live here in this one tiny room with one bed, and one bathroom available.”
Others chimed in. “One bicycle!” “One smart phone!”
From below came the sound of the door slamming shut. Pink probably did it on purpose, Green thought, to signal them she and Mom had left.
“Break!” she called. “Mom’s en suite is available. Everyone who hasn’t gone yet, line up at the bathrooms!” In a flash, she was off the bed and first one down the hall to Mom’s room.

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Apple iBooks | Google Play

About Laramie Sasseville: 

Laramie Sasseville was born in Minneapolis Minnesota and lived there most of her life, so is long-familiar with winters that may not impress Canadians or residents of Antarctica, but should impress anyone else. The winter temperatures at times go lower than those on the surface of Mars. This environment has taught her the value of warm communities and dressing for the weather. She's also loved stories of fantasy, folklore and speculative fiction since first learning to read and is active in her local f/sf fan community. 'The Winter Knife' takes its inspiration from the folklore of the loggers of the northwoods of Minnesota, Michigan and the upper midwest area of the USA in a previous century. 

Website | Facebook

Sunday, July 16, 2017

First Love (Vampirica, Book 1) by Aria Sparke

Release date: June 12, 2017
Subgenre: Urban fantasy, paranormal romance

About First Love


Lily Winter has never had time for boyfriends. All she has ever wanted is to be a doctor, but her life is unraveling. With the death of her father and her life coming apart at the seams, she and her mother move oceans to the watercolor world of Wicklow. In the midst of her pain, she meets Flynn Cooper—intelligent, handsome and caring. Their attraction to each other soon proves overwhelming and undeniable. Flynn’s wealthy and ancient family hide dark secrets and Lily finds herself ensnared in their strange world. After meeting Flynn’s charismatic and hypnotic father, her life becomes increasingly complicated leaving her to question everything about the universe she held as true. When the Ruberios call upon her to help their family, Lily discovers her decisions can’t be undone, entrapping her in a terrifying web.


In the time it took for one dark revolution around the fiery sun, my life unraveled. Looking back now, I’m sure hell sent those days because there’s no other explanation. I struggle to convey the horror in words because it stole my innocence and undermined my will to go on. Humans aren’t made to endure the depths of that darkness.

My mother, Elise has led a shadowy, half-life since the police arrived on our doormat last year. The doorbell rang at two in the morning followed by muffled voices. Crawling from my bed, I hid in the hallway and watched her open the door. As she crumpled to the ground, a young, red-headed woman tried to help her. I wanted to run to my mother’s side but instead, folded and shrank. Like a hermit crab scurrying into her shell, I hid in my room and closed the door. I’m ashamed of the memory.

After Dad died, Mom and I moved to a town called Wicklow, close to the west coast in the far north where houses are cheap because it’s cold and bleak and rains forever. People don’t rave about Wicklow as a holiday destination because it’s not that kind of town. You stay because you can’t afford to leave. Moving oceans from a beautiful place that overlooked the North Atlantic where I’d learned to read and climb trees was tough. Survival meant leaving the sunshine and memories behind. We dreamed the rain and bracing air would flush away the tears and propel us into a brave new world and hoped to stay afloat with fresh dreams and willpower.

Ever since I was young, I wanted to be a doctor and until Dad’s accident I was making real progress. He encouraged my dreams, all of them, although now they’re vague and indistinct.

The day after he died, I stole his favorite jumper, the ratty, gray one he used for gardening, and kept it, so I could inhale his essence. Lately, I burrow back through my past as far as I can, to squeeze out the tears and bring me closer to him. Every night I imagine his voice and remember a kaleidoscope of images that make me cry. The memories are relentless and infinite. The simple childhood ones are the worst: him reading me stories, teaching me to ride a bike and his awful jokes. But if I don’t ingrain those memories and the pain deeply, I’m afraid I’ll lose him—his smell, sound and form. As for my mother, I don’t know how she’ll live without him.

After Dad died, moving oceans and schools didn’t help and when Mom fell apart in a bad way, she couldn’t work full time anymore. So I managed the housework and paid the bills and although still a teenager, suddenly felt old and burdened. I enrolled for my final semester at the local high school, but like her, I fractured too. Correction, I broke but over time cobbled myself together enough to keep going. I didn’t know any other way. When unwanted emotions reared their snaky heads and poked their way into my mind, twisting and poisoning my thinking, I had to slam them down and refuse them air.

Eventually I worked out we’d hold it together until I got through my last semester of school. We’d survive using the money left over from buying the house in Wicklow. Barely. After that I was on my own. To study medicine, I needed a scholarship, but my mind had turned to mush, so it was going to be a struggle.


About Aria Sparke:

Aria is a fantasy and paranormal author who writes for readers of all ages. Her new series, Vampirica follows the loves and lives of Lily and Avery, brave and beautiful witches. The Vampirica universe overflows with vampires and dhampirs, dangerous and dazzling, who make love and war on shifting nightscapes in North America, Australia and the ancient, Icelandic Galdrar Academy.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Speculative Fiction Links of the Week for July 14, 2017

Here is our weekly round-up of interesting links about speculative fiction from around the web, this week with Spider-Man: Homecoming, War for the Planet of the Apes, A Ghost Story as well as the usual mix of awards news, writing advice, interviews, reviews, awards news, con reports, crowdfunding campaigns, science articles and free online fiction. 

Speculative fiction in general:

Comments on Spider-Man: Homecoming

Comments on A Ghost Story:

Comments on War for the Planet of the Apes:


Writing, publishing and promotion:




Con reports:

Science and technology:

Free online fiction:

Odds and ends:

Monday, July 10, 2017

Piper Deez and the Case of the Winter Planet by M. Fenn

Release date: July 10, 2017
Subgenre: Science fiction mystery, space opera

About Piper Deez and the Case of the Winter Planet:

Detective Piper Deez, newlywed but still hardboiled, is a solar system away from home investigating murder and thievery on Alta-na-Schell, the Winter Planet. Who can she trust? Who should she trust? Why didn't anyone tell her monogamy was going to be this difficult? Eye of the Storm, a domed city riven by clan rivalries and corruption—with only fingerlengths of shielding protecting its denizens from certain death—may hold some answers and, perhaps, even the end of Piper Deez.

If monogamy doesn't get to her first...



“Detective Deez, it’s a pleasure.”
I recognized the woman extending her hand in greeting from the case files. The top of Manager Tchivon’s head only came to my chin. Her hair was the color of burnished steel and she wore the standard business suit of a mining executive, wrinkle-free and spotless.
I smiled to myself as I offered the palm of my hand in greeting. She pressed hers to mine. Mining executives stayed as far away from actual mining as they possibly could. The muscles in her hand were strong, though. A single ridge across her pale forehead marked her as a member of the Jevrem clan.
Clans—large, extended families—are what hold this society together and threaten to tear it apart. Hierarchy’s an ugly thing if you kneel at the bottom of it. Not so bad if you sit on top and don’t think too hard. The Drell clan perches on top, along with the Toshir and Edos, each trying to shove the others further down.
“Manager Tchivon, thank you for meeting me.”
“Not at all. My division is honored the company chose to send you. Your reputation precedes you.”
“I’m flattered.” I turned to the ship. “Computer: standard lock-down, please.”
<“Engaged. Good luck with your case.”>
Tchivon led me out of the docking area and through the terminal. The building looked like the terminals on the two other mining planets in this system. Even though the others were managed by my family’s competitors, the Toshir and Edos, they were all the same. The ships’ berths were always in fine working order, while the ticket counters and waiting areas were run down, as were the ubiquitous cafés selling overpriced food. I shifted the pack on my back as we passed tables crowded with hungry customers and stepped through the terminal’s large, tinted glass entrance doors.
The air was warm and stale, recycled but not as bad as I was expecting. As we waited for a cab, I looked down into the city, a bustling place only a few miles in diameter. A second industry of tourism had developed around people’s fascination with Eye of the Storm’s location and semi-miraculous ability to survive. Several thousand people lived here, working in the mine or in one of the businesses that kept things running. The streets were crowded with people, all sizes, shapes, colors and clanmarks, residents pushing by the gawking tourists. Vehicles—both personal- and business-class—zipped or lumbered through the air. Above them all floated the clear dome and the white light of the eternal winter kept at bay.


Amazon | Candlemark & Gleam


About M. Fenn:


M. Fenn was born in Salt Lake City, Utah and grew up in Omaha, Nebraska. She’s lived in eight U.S. states and visited forty more, as well as three Canadian provinces. M. Fenn has been a veterinary technician, a radio dj, and an office manager for a house museum, among other things. She has rescued marine mammals in California, seen the full moon rise over Chimney Rock in Colorado, hiked Chaco Canyon in New Mexico, marched for women’s rights in D.C., and driven U.S Hwy 50 from end to end by herself. She spent one winter with the ghost of Herman Melville, reading his first editions and watching the great whale of snow-covered Mt. Greylock from his study window.

Apparently permanently stuck to North America, M. Fenn now lives and writes in the wilderness of southern Vermont with her furniture maker husband and a clowder of ghost cats. Her short story “Chlorophyll Is Thicker than Water” can be found in Candlemark & Gleam’s 2016 To Shape the Dark. Her near-future dystopian novella “To The Edges” begins Crossed Genres’ 2013 Winter Well: Speculative Novellas About Older Women. Her alternate history novella “So The Taino Call It” appears in Candlemark & Gleam’s 2012 Substitution Cipher. Science fiction seems to be M. Fenn’s main bag, but she also tinkers with horror and fantasy. She blogs spasmodically at and can also be found on Facebook more often than she would like.

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