Friday, 30 August 2013

Shadow Of The Wraith
The latest Bandit Book Bloggers book tour: Shadow Of The Wraith by Ross Harrison. Sci-fi fans check it out!
Here's the blurb:
It sounds like a simple assignment: track down the mysterious Star Wraith and put an end to its rampage. But when Travis Archer and his team of inept soldiers find themselves the most wanted people in the galaxy - hounded by assassins, terrorists and their own military - they realise the Wraith is just a symptom of a much larger problem... Finding war raging between one army intent on destroying an entire species, and another that will destroy the galaxy, Travis much put aside his fears and his past to uncover the truth behind it all. To become the hero he's always imagined.
About the Author:
 Ross Harrison has been writing since childhood without thought of publication. When the idea was planted by his grandmother to do so, it grew rapidly, and after a bumpy ten years or so, here sits the fruit. Ross lives on the UK/Eire border in Ireland, hoping the rain will help his hair grow back.
‘Travis Archer is a freelance bounty hunter who accepts an official assignment to hunt down and destroy the Star Wraith, a powerful but apparently unmanned ship with the nasty habit of appearing out of nowhere and destroying ships. Although Travis and his crew are the focus of the story, the narrative cuts to other scenes in a cinematic fashion. The more fascinating of these scenes reveal glimpses of a shadowy villain called Baorshraak, whose goals and motivations remain shrouded in mystery even as he appears to be the one pulling the strings.

Harrison writes with a distinct attitude that is very aware of the genre his story takes place in. References are made to the clich├ęs of space opera, which he acknowledges and makes fun of even as he unapologetically takes advantage of them. Many ideas in this book are decidedly familiar--starfleets, space cowboys, humanoid aliens--but they are used well. There is a dry sense of humor that radiates not only from the characters but the narrative itself, as though it isn't taking itself too seriously.

Although this attitude makes for entertaining commentary, there are a few moments where it seems somewhat intrusive--as though it's the author speaking and not the character. Nevertheless, it's what adds an extra bit of sparkle to the already dynamic plot, which carries the reader to unexpected corners of this galaxy.

Overall, Shadow of the Wraith is a smartly plotted and entertaining space adventure that takes the reader on many twists and turns--the direction the story goes in is quite different from what is expected. But in the end, it's really the characters' voices--and Harrison's--that make it memorable. I ended up enjoying it so much that I suffered from two nights in a row of Star Wraith Insomnia--the inability to sleep due to the fact that I had to keep reading.’ – 5 Stars
- Mary Fan, Author of Artificial Absolutes
‘I have been thinking about what I was going to write in this review for about a day now, and I am still having trouble. The trouble isn't with the book; not not at all! The trouble is that everytime I sit down to write the review, it comes out all fangirly (if that's a word). So, I have given in to this simple fact, and here is my review anyway (fangirl and all).

So this is my first real venture into true science fiction/fantasy type books. I have 'Across the Universe' and 'A Million Suns', and they are set in space, but nothing like this. Which brings me to my first point. When I first got the email from the author asking me to review his book, I was like, 'sure; as long as it's not erotica/western, I'm in'. Then I got to thinking to myself, 'Kari, you have never read a book like are going to be so lost and confused.' Guess what, I wasn't! I was worried that with it set on different planets, and in space, and in the future, I was going to be lost and be left behind. This wasn't the case in the least. In fact, I found myself actually remembering everything and able to keep everything straight in my head...hard to do on most days.

I loved this book...from the first darn page, up until the last. I was constantly hooked, wanting to know what happened next, who did what, why, etc. Shadow of the Wraith is an exceptionally well written book, on top of the awesome plot. This has to be another reason I loved it so much. I constantly found myself in awe at how things were worded. Ross Harrison definitely has a very unique writing style. I loved the humor that was put in the book. I am usually a quiet reader, but I found myself laughing at a lot of parts.

Characters. Ahhh, I was spoiled in this book. The characters were so...real. I felt like I knew each and every one of them, good or bad. Their personalities were awesome, and definitely well portrayed. I never once felt that a character fell flat...even the androids jumped off the page! :) My favorite character had to be Travis. He is now officially MY bad ass space cowboy (read the book!! You will understand!). I honestly fell in love with Travis from the very beginning of the book (and to the despair of everyone who had to listen to me go on and on..some people even thinking he was a real person...). I felt that he was well developed (as were all the characters). Who am I kidding, I loved him because he was a bad ass space cowboy!! I also loved Arkuun-Marl (look, I didn't even have to look up how to spell that). The android was hilarious, and at times I forgot he wasn't a real person. But don't say that to his face!

I felt like this book had constant action. Something was always going on, which was a very great surprise. Most books now have one climax, and nothing really going on until that one part of the book. I didn't think that was the case with this book at all. Another thing...agh..I never knew what was going to happen. I was literally unable to predict a single darn thing (which is unusual with the amount of books I have read; even though none have been in this particular genre, still I've read a lot). So that was a breath of fresh air for me...truly. I was kept guessing the entire time. And the twists that were thrown my way, well, LOVED them.
I feel like the last thing I should say is this....READ IT! This book is absolutly amazing. Okay enough of the fangirl. Just, please, do yourself a favor and pick up this book; you won't regret it!’ – 5 Stars
- Kari, Bookishly Devoted Blog
‘To begin, I thoroughly enjoyed Shadow of the Wraith. It's like the best elements of every science fiction story you've ever heard of, brought together into one epic adventure!

The cover features a very classic science fiction shot of a ship with a planet in the background. Only this one features a more ominous tone as a ship ploughs its way through a mess of ships.

The story is told from the alternating views of a mass of several different characters and situations. The story begins with the introduction of the very cocky "space cowboy" ex military man known as Travis Archer as he presents the readers to a future where humans have left a ruined Earth and have taken to living among the stars with other humanoid alien species in an uneasy truce, while he tries to carve out a living currently as a bounty hunter. Then we're brought to the primary situation at hand as the reader is apprised to the new ruling power of humans - the Terran Alliance and the growing trouble that this mysterious ship the "Star Wraith" is posing to ships that have crossed its path, and never live to tell the story. In an attempt to stop the Star Wraith, the military hires on bounty hunters as a cheap means to deal with this ghost ship...and guess who takes the job?

In the true fashion of space adventuring - Travis begins by going on a galaxy wide mission of assembling a rag tag crew each with a unique skill to contribute to the team. I have to admit, I love watching these crews come together - and the lengths that Travis goes to get the players he wants was incredible! In addition to Travis as the leader, some other crewmen we stumble upon is the reliable ex military best friend, the sexy but deadly love interest and even a comedic relief android. My only complaint really is that while Harrison tries to put unique features and voices to each character, the less prominent characters tend to blur together which was further exacerbated by switching between first and last names randomly when referring to these characters throughout the story.

My favorite character by far was the android Arkuun-Marl, whose constant quest for equality with humans combined with expert battle skills and the much needed one liners that broke the tension in overly serious moments.

After finding the Star Wraith, they soon discover that the ship isn't what it appears to be at which point they commandeer it in their quest to find the truth, which leads to political intrigue, a secret past and it all lands this misfit crew right in the middle of an age old war.

The villains of the story were constantly shifting, and it was difficult to see who could be trusted and what their motives were. It made for a thrilling adventure as we navigated the minefield of assassins, military personnel and androids to get to the so called "leader".

While Harrison presented what seemed like a straight forward plot idea, it quickly became apparent that this wasn't your usual story. Harrison expertly throws curve balls at the reader, and before you know it there's secrets revealed that completely change the game. I eventually just stopped trying to predict what was going to happen because as soon as I thought I had it figured out, Harrison would drop another bomb that had me reeling.

The characters go through some serious paces as they run across the galaxy hunting down the truth. The technology used in the ships, weapons, armour and bases had considerable thought placed into their design and purpose, which made for richly detailed and thrilling action sections. What completely threw me off was the introduction of some fantasy elements (think mythological creatures) that was a refreshing addition to the usual obstacle course of assassins and androids. Harrison even manages to weave a bit of romance into the story, and while a relationship does eventually form, I think his writing shone primarily in the flirting banter.

All in all, Shadow of the Wraith was an amazing story with witty humour, action, mystery, crazy technology and galactic politics. However, I do feel that it's more suited to fans who already have a solid science fiction background to thoroughly enjoy the references to Firefly, and Arkuun-Marl's Star Trek Scotty references.’ – 4 Stars
- Ann, Tea & Text Blog
            Moving silently and keeping his eyes peeled, Travis took cover behind the nearest overturned table. With no apparent provocation, one of the pirates opened fire into the second-storey balcony, which ran all the way around the bar. Startled by the sudden shots, the others opened fire too.
            Travis could pick out nothing up there in the shadows, and hadn’t even heard anything before the shooting started – had Draak forced too much herb into these men? Were they hallucinating? Perhaps they killed their fellow crewmembers themselves.
            Eventually, they ceased firing and stood listening for some time, their eyes wide with fear. All Travis could hear was silence and a dull ringing after the gunfire.
            After a while, they began to relax. They lowered their weapons, relieved smiles forming on their lips. Clearly, they thought they’d killed their attackers. Travis watched enough holofilms – in fact, possibly too many – to know this was inevitably the point at which their enemy would strike.
            Sure enough, as they turned to their fallen leader, two long black knives flew out of the shadows and plunged into two necks. As the pirates slumped to the floor, Travis crept forward towards the next overturned table to get a better view of the balcony. Thanks to his curiosity, he neglected to watch his footing, and before he’d gone more than a couple of steps, a shot glass burst under his boot.
            Synn spun round, roaring in terror and defiance, and opened fire on him. Travis made a dive for the cover of the thick metal bar. The pirate’s shots broke the mirror on the wall, and the bottles, showering him in alcohol and glass, both solid and molten.
            To the relief of Travis’ eardrums, Synn had already depleted much of the three-hundred-shot power cell. As soon as he heard the click of the empty weapon, he raised himself just enough to put his arm across the bar top and fire a single bullet into Synn’s forehead. The Izarian fell limply to the ground as blood started to trickle down his face.
            It would be unwise to assume the invisible assailants would be friendly towards Travis. ‘The enemy of my enemy’ was a phrase that got many killed.
            Unwilling to give them any breathing space, Travis vaulted over the bar like a magnificent, tubby gazelle, reaching to his new utility belt. As his boots hit the floor again, he pulled out a small, jelly-coated sphere and threw it with all his might at the ceiling. The orb thumped against the plastic ceiling tiles, the shock activating the device. The jelly became adhesive, keeping it glued to the ceiling. At the same time, the centre of the sphere came alive, radiating bright light into every shadow in the bar.
            In the brief ten seconds of light, Travis scrutinised every inch of the balcony, where a band usually played for patrons. There was no sign of any living creature in the bar. Perhaps the attackers really were invisible.
            The device flickered and died, dropping to the floor. Darkness poured eagerly back into the corners and recesses.
            The bar was silent, almost calm. Around the balcony, the remnants of the wooden banister smouldered.
            What now?
            Travis had put himself in the open, certain his clever trick would reveal his rival and give him the advantage. Now, he was simply in the open.
Purchase links:
Other works:
Temple of the Sixth (Book 2 of NEXUS)
When omens of the End Times appear across the galaxy, it signals the start of a war between two immortal forces - the Celestians and the Hierarchy. The Hierarchy have learnt and adapted since they last waged war, forcing the Celestians to enlist the aid of mortals to free a kidnapped god.

Thardriik Jhunassi Kortlyn III - Theak - was a private detective. For a day. Then came the incident with the dead puppy and the inevitable end of his crime-fighting career. Despite his flaws, Theak is a clear choice for the Celestians, and he is drawn into the centre of a battle that will decide the fate of the galaxy.

Time is something the Celestians’ heroes do not have as the Hierarchy’s infection spreads across countless worlds, bending every living creature to their will. With the heroes’ every step bringing them closer towards one final battle, there is only one question: can they defeat an ancient and immortal enemy?
Kira's town has so far survived the destruction wrought by the Government on so many others. But for how much longer? In the middle of a blistering desert, her people are out of fuel, out of clean water, and out of options. The Government will destroy them sooner or later, and they won't survive relocation. Their only chance is to attack first. But Kira knows that's no chance at all.



Tuesday, 20 August 2013

The Reluctant Prophet


Gillian O’Rourke


The Reluctant Prophet by Gillian O'Rourke is due to be published on September 1st by Kristell Ink. Here's the blurb -

There’s none so blind as she who can see . . .

 Esther is blessed, and cursed, with a rare gift: the ability to see the fates of those around her. But when she escapes her peasant upbringing to become a priestess of the Order, she begins to realise how valuable her ability is among the power-hungry nobility, and what they are willing to do to possess it.

Haunted by the dark man of her father's warnings, and unable to see her own destiny, Esther is betrayed by those sworn to protect her. With eyes newly open to the harsh realities of her world, she embarks on a path that diverges from the plan the Gods have laid out. Now she must choose between sacrificing her own heart’s blood, and risking a future that will turn the lands against each other in bloody war.
The Reluctant Prophet is the story of one woman who holds the fate of the world in her hands, when all she wishes for is a glimpse of her own happiness.
About the author -
Before settling down in the Emerald Isle with her husband and three dogs, Gillian O’Rourke lived in Melbourne, Australia.   She received her first fantasy book from an English teacher at the age of fourteen and has loved the genre ever since.  Although she writes fantasy, she occasionally dabbles in the paranormal.  Gillian currently works in the healthcare sector, helping adults with disabilities live as independently as possible.
Find her -
I had never been able to see my own future, not the way I could see it for others. Even now, on my unanticipated return to Rycroft, a part of me rebelled at the thought of facing a past I believed long behind me. If I had known then what a luxury it is to go home, I might not have dismissed it so.
As an initiate to the Order, I learned from women far wiser than I that the past was a wraith that could come back to haunt the future. I imagined it looming overhead like a hidden cloud, waiting, maybe over many years, to rain upon me when I least expected it, not a soft, white thing, but an angry, vengeful thundercloud. Perhaps I had lived too long in the calm now, because I once again began to feel the storm approaching. Entering the village, I steeled myself to face it, but despite the many prayers I had said for courage, that long-forgotten anxiety crept its cold tendrils into my soul.
I escaped the painful memories this place forged in my childhood, and had taken a chance to make my future a safer, happier one. But now I had come full circle, and it was the temple above Rycroft village that held the balance of my future within its cold, imposing walls.
I followed the path past the village with the other initiates, and climbed carved granite steps meticulously shaped by skilled stonemasons. Upon a stone archway were the effigies of the three Gods we Sinnotians worshipped. Lo, Creator and Destroyer, an armoured warrior with the head of a wolf, carried an array of weapons, but it was the large war-hammer in his hand my eyes gravitated to. Beside him stood Era, the graceful feline-faced goddess of emotions, and of life and death. Finally, at Era’s left hand, stood Tyrus, master of elements.  He was the God I most often found myself drawn to, his wise, owl-like features faced the valley directly upon Rycroft.
An expectant hush fell over the group, followed by soft murmurs from the young women. They praised the Gods in whispers, for this sight we beheld as we moved forward, heading for the path into the mountains, awed even the noble-born among us. Like a flock of white doves, innocently seeking an arbour to rest in, we wore the modest robes all initiates of the Order wore, to signify their intentions to serve the Gods. But only a select few would ever don the red robes of a fully-fledged priestess. The final testing awaited us. I already knew that most of the girls would return home dressed in the same clothes they had worn before their training began, and all I could do was to hope I would not be one of them.
I glanced over my shoulder, catching a final glimpse of my birthplace, and the anxiety melted away; it was behind me now. A veil of calmness enveloped me as I turned my gaze to the temple looming ahead. Its exterior was a thing of perfection, as if the Gods themselves had used a hot sword to cut through the stone. Barely a window could be seen from this low vantage point. A shiver ran across my skin. Like the tip of my tongue verging on speaking a forgotten word, an elusive vision teetered on the edge of my sight. The sensation faded away before fruition, however, and was replaced with awed anticipation for what I was soon to encounter.
It would take several days to test the initiates in their obedience, faith and humility. At the end of the ordeal, I hoped to find myself clad in the red robes of a Priestess of Oraccles.
Give me strength, I begged the Gods as we settled into the long climb. My legs began to burn and the summer sun was growing hot with the afternoon. The priestess ahead turned and eyed each one of us. Most of the initiates did not notice her quiet surveillance, but when my eyes met hers, her gaze narrowed before she looked away and sharply directed the girls to quicken their pace. Her scrutiny left me wondering whether the testing had already begun.
Days of inflicted pain, humiliation and cruelty brought me close to the brink of madness, closer to my gift, leaving me weary in body and spirit. I did not know which part of me hurt more, but when my eyes met those of the head priestess, the superior who would decide my fate, the keen pain of expected failure rose in my chest. Her dark eyes seemed to swallow me whole. I felt both hot and cold at once; days of obedience, suffering and fasting had blurred the days into one long torture. I longed to sit and weep, but my body was too sore to do anything but kneel slowly, stiffly into a submissive position. Many girls had failed, and now I was to learn my own fate. My ears were ringing and I almost cried out when my knee, cut open on a sharp stone during one of the tests, sent pain reverberating throughout my body. I kept my eyes upon the superior’s face. Lined and calm, her expression betrayed nothing.
I flinched when an unexpected vision assaulted my senses, propelling me from the room and into a place I barely caught a glance of. A trace of darkness; a laugh, a dark green eye. Each small glimpse offered me no more than a confusing jumble of images I could not piece together to make a whole picture. Swaying, I wondered if I was ill. My body throbbed and the days of fasting, beatings and silence became as fractured and unreal as my visions. The testing had taken its toll, but I needed only make it through this last moment. As I fought to return to myself, I worried again that I would make it this far, only to be rejected because of what I was: a peasant.
The superior rose. My awareness had been completely focused on her and I had not noticed an inch of the marble-columned room I had been brought to. The distracting sparkle of candlelight danced on a pool of water and I looked away quickly, not wishing to see the future reflected in those waters. The superior’s thin lips moved, but I heard no sound. The ringing in my ears worsened and my heart rate trebled. When she stood before me, she lifted her hand and smeared something powdery against my forehead. Her touch sent waves of premonition into my mind, making my skin shiver and creep. Fighting the urge to succumb to the sight left me weak and trembling.
I was not altogether myself when I managed to overcome the visions. My chest constricted when a distant voice – certainly not the superior’s worn croak – spoke to me, gently whispering, ‘Esther . . . Esther,’ over and over.
All the while the superior’s mouth moved, but I knew nothing of her words. The room tilted and the first spark of emotion lifted the older woman’s eyes from blankness. For a moment I believed I was succumbing to the visions her touch was invoking, but I slipped instead into waiting darkness.
Here's the purchasing info -
Paperback  ISBN  978-1-909845-18-3
USA $16.99                         UK £9.99
Kindle        ISBN  978-1-909845-19-0
USA $4.99                           UK £2.99
ePub           ISBN  978-1-909845-20-6
USA $4.99                           UK £2.99


Sunday, 11 August 2013

Healer's Touch Blog Tour.
I'm taking part in the blog tour for Healer's Touch, a Bandit Book Blogger's tour.
Healer's Touch, is a fantasy story in a Wild West setting, a nice change from the norm. Llew is an orphan living alone in a mining town, a girl disguised as a boy, for obvious reasons. She posesses a powerful gift/curse, she is capable of healing herself by absorbing the life and vitality of anything living she touches. You can see how this could get her into trouble. A wonderfully creative fantasy, full of adventure, magic and a little romance, from Deb E. Howell. Healer's Touch is published by Kristell Ink
Here's the blurb -
Llew, a young pickpocket who lives as a boy on the streets of a wild-west mining town, finds her real problems begin when she survives the gallows. Forced to run, she persuades a group of fighters escorting a young girl to her wedding to let her travel with them across the badlands. On the journey Llew faces hostile tribesmen, desperate bandits and, the enmity of her own companions should they find out who and what she is: a girl, a fugitive, and a feared Healer. One of the fighters, Jonas, possesses superhuman prowess as a warrior, and carries the knife able to ‘kill the unkillable’; the knife that can kill Llew. Despite being of races at war for centuries, they are drawn to one another.
During the journey, they encounter Braph the magician, Jonas’ half-brother and potential nemesis. He pursues them as they journey across the sea to the continent of Phyos and at the moment Llew finally feels safe, he abducts her. He begins to take what is most precious to him: her blood.
Healer’s Touch is a mesmerising mix of fantasy, steampunk and Wild West adventure – and even a dash of romance!
About the author -
Deb E was born in New Zealand’s North Island, but her parents corrected that within months, moving south to Dunedin and staying there. Childhood nights were spent falling asleep to cover versions of Cliff Richard and the Shadows and other Rock ’n Roll classics played by her father’s band, and days were spent dancing to 45 LPs. Many of her first writing experiences were copying down song lyrics. She graduated to scientific reports when she studied a fungus in the Zoology department of the University of Otago, trading all traces of popularity for usefulness... then traded both for fiction.

Deb lives in Dunedin, New Zealand with her family and a menagerie of pets.
Check her out here - Blog
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                               - Twitter
Buy links               - Amazon US
                              - Amazon UK
                              - Smashwords