Tuesday 25 October 2016

Giveaway & Excerpt - The Wraiths Of War by Mark Morris

First and foremost, I'm going to admit my love of some of Mark's earlier work! I remember reading Toady, his first book, way back when, absolutely loving it and recommending it to anyone regardless of whether they enjoyed horror novels. Since then I've dipped in and out of his books whenever I've realised that he's released something new. Imagine my pleasure when I found out he was writing a new trilogy for one of my favorite publishers, the last of which was published by Titan on October 14th. To celebrate you lucky folks get to read a sneaky excerpt from the final book, The Wraiths Of War, and if you like it there's a chance to win a copy of The Wolves Of London (book #1 in the trilogy) down at the bottom! My review of The Wolves of London will be up on Thursday as part of my R.I.P. reading and make sure to check out the rest of the tour!

If you're not a horror/dark fantasy fan then maybe skip over the gory bits below!

The Wraiths Of War (Obsidian Heart #3) 

As if Fate were mocking me, the Germans chose that very moment to start firing. I made myself as flat as possible, closing my eyes as my cheek smacked into the mud. At first I assumed the shots were nothing but routine - now and again in the dead of night, those on sentry duty, whether on our side or theirs, let off a volley just to prove they were doing their duty, and to let the enemy know they were still around and alert - but when bullets started splatting into the mud somewhere to my left, I realised I must have been spotted. Perilous though it was to move, I knew it was more perilous still to just lie there, because sooner or later I would be hit.

Trying to still the frantic terror of my thoughts, I lifted my head a fraction and looked around, searching for a place to hide or something I could use as cover. Perhaps ten yards ahead of me I spotted what looked like a shell crater - a black depression in the ground rimmed by a ridge of earth where the mud had been forced upwards by the impact. I waited for the initial burst of gunfire to subside, knowing there would be a slight pause between one volley and the next, and then, my ears throbbing, I scrambled up into a semi-crouch, ran forward and dived into the shell crater.

Although I didn't have much choice, I was all too aware that throwing myself into an unknown hole in No Man's Land was a move born of utter desperation. Full of future technology I might have been, byt I knew that if I landed on the jagged remains of a shell and slashed my belly open, then no amount of nanites could repair me. I knew too that if the hole were more than, say six feet deep and full of thick, muddy water then the likelihood was I would be sucked under and drown.

Luckily, though, the hole turned out to be only four or five feet deep added to which I had a soft landing. Not so luckily, the soft landing was a dead and rotting German soldier. How long he had been there I had no idea, but he stank to high Heaven and was crawling with maggots. He was lying on his back, his head - what was left of it - partially submerged in a pool of black water.

I landed across his midriff, part of which promptly broke with a gristly snap. Worse than that though, was the feel of his flesh through his uniform. Decomposition had caused slippage, which meant that the violent pressure of my body resulted in the flesh, which had become soft like old bananas, sliding away from the bone beneath. In my revulsion, I unthinkingly put my left hand on his chest to lever myself up and away from him - whereupon his rib cage cracked like a lattice of dry sticks and my hand plunged into a cold, stinking pulp of rotting internal organs.

I clapped my free hand, which was caked in mud but not guts, over the bottom half of my face to stop myself from screaming. Not that it was likely the enemy would have heard me. Above my head, loud enough to make the bones of my skull ach, the Germans were still blazing away. Ordinarily I would have covered my ringing ears and kept my head down until it was all over, but in the circumstances the gunfire seemed oddly divorced from me. Gagging, I withdrew my hand from the dead German's innards with a slurping plop, then plunged it into the pool of muddy water between his booted feet.

The next few minutes were spent heaving and shuddering with reaction. I couldn't tell whether the appalling stench that seemed to have wrapped itself round my head like a warm, damp towel, was coming from the dead German or my own hand. Certainly the thought of using that gut-smeared hand to eat, or even scratch myself, in the immediate future made me gaf anew. As did the sight of the fat white maggots wriggling with glee over the dead man's body, some of which I had to brush off my own clothes, such was their eagerness to make friends.

About The Author

 Mark Morris became a full-time writer in 1988 on the Enterprise Allowance Scheme, and a year later saw the release of his first novel, Toady. He has since published a further sixteen novels, among which are Stitch, The Immaculate, The Secret of Anatomy, Fiddleback, The Deluge and four books in the popular Doctor Who range.

Website | Twitter


If you live in the UK, Ireland and Europe you can have a chance to win a copy of The Wolves Of London, the first book in the trilogy, simply by leaving a Twitter handle or email address in the coments! 


Friday 21 October 2016

Spooktacular Giveaway 2016!

Welcome to the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop hosted by BookHounds! The hop runs from now through to midnight on October 31, 2016. The spooktacular prize up for grabs is a spooky, creepy book of your choice (either YA or Adult), up to the value of $15, from the Book Depository as long as they deliver to your country - find the list of countries here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

There are lots of blogs taking part in the Spooktacular hop so check out the list below for more chances to win, thanks for entering and good luck!

Wednesday 19 October 2016

Guest Post & Giveaway: How To Write A Sci-Fi World - Andy Briggs

How to write a sci-fi world

When I was first told the subject of this blog I got quite excited, then I thought, is The Inventory really sci-fi? Now, if you’ve read the book then you would probably wonder why I said that. I suppose the answer is I had always thought of The Inventory as belonging to a sub-genre: the techno-thriller.
And that got me thinking what makes good science fiction. For me, it boils down to believability. If the world, no matter how fantastic, has elements that we recognize – from characters to locations – then they become relatable to the reader. Authors such as Philip K Dick and Issac Asimov had the ability to create amazing sci-fi and wrap it up in a story and world that somehow feels believable. So I think that veneer between “real” and sci-fi is where the techno-thriller lives – and in the case of the Inventory, it bleeds into a full-fledged sci-fi world.
My first rule of what belongs in the Inventory was that the invention had to have a real scientific ability to exist. Now, I’m no scientist and my knowledge stretches as far as reading New Scientist and the wonderful Wired Magazine, so I will expand that to the ability to have a fudged scientific reason behind it. Thankfully we have quantum physics for that! So, when my bad guys produce a portable hole, it isn’t something out of Wile E. Coyote, it’s based on wormhole technology. That’s where the fun begins for me, creating a world that seems almost believable but is filled with marvels that could just possibly exist. Maybe.

The second part of the way I wanted to create my world was to ensure that the technology was there regardless if it was useful to the plot. For example, I love James Bond movies but he always seems to have the precise gadget on his person to deal with the peril he faces later in the movie. 

    In IRON FIST our heroes were surrounded by all manner of gadgets that would land them out of the scrape they were in. The fun came from the fact they had no idea how to use it properly – in fact, half the reason the gizmo was in the Inventory in the first place was because it didn’t quite work as expected. For GRAVITY they no longer have the choice of technology they once did, so have to use whatever is left… which means it’s often a need to improvise.

At the heart of all good sci-fi is the notion of something we’d all like to have, see, or know it’s true… that is, of course, until it horribly goes wrong. For example, yes the all-seeing surveillance in 1984 means, in theory, that we’re safe. The amazing robots in I, Robot are something we’d all like to have, helping us in our daily lives… that is until they become killers. 

It’s this promise of better days ahead (no matter how brief) that gives sci-fi a pulsing sense of wish fulfillment that we all crave… often backing it up with a healthy moral dose of dystopia. By its very nature, the Inventory is exactly that – a collection of the world’s greatest technology all under one roof. It’s an achievement of mankind that should be celebrated… instead, it’s hidden away. That is because some of it doesn’t work so well, or the dream died when the implications sank in. For example, hoverboots. I would love a pair of hoverboots – but then again I hate people who suddenly stop in the middle of the pavement and I don’t want those idiots stopping while I’m flying fifty feet above the ground at high speed. Hoverboots now suddenly don’t seem so appealing. If my books were set in a dystopian future (rather than a dysfunctional present) then the Inventory would be cast as a place where dreams come to die.

The final strand of great sci-fi is escapism. On face value that may seem at odds to my first point about believability, but it should go hand-in-hand. Look at one of the greatest sci-fi franchises ever: Star Wars… and I’m talking about the originals, y’know, proper Star Wars. Luke Skywalker is a farm kid who dreams of adventure. Only when he escapes from his home planet does that wish come true. He starts as a believable character – somebody stuck at home and tired of everyday life – and then offers escapism, which turns Skywalker into the galaxy’s greatest hero.

    It’s this combination of relatability, believability, and escapism that makes sci-fi such an interesting genre, allowing both characters and readers to explore – not on the edges of the universe – but beyond, into realms hitherto unimagined…

About the book 

Eeek! Think that’s a monster? Nope: it’s a person. What terrible weapon could do this…? Errr – well, that used to be top-secret. Problem: it’s not quite so secret anymore. Dev messed up big time the day he let the ruthless Shadow Helix gang into the Inventory. What is the Inventory, we hear you ask? Well, it’s the secret lockup for all the deadly battle tech the world is NOT ready for. Which is why letting it get nicked was a REALLY BAD IDEA. Now the Shadow Helix have Newton’s Arrow: a terrifying weapon that messes with gravity, causing … well, you get the picture from this book’s cover. Dev and his mates HAVE to get it back – even if it means crossing the entire globe. To stop this evil, no trip is too far!

About The Author

Andy Briggs is a screenwriter, producer and author of the Hero.com, Villain.net and Tarzan series. Andy has worked on film development for Paramount and Warner Bros, as well as working with Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee and producer Robert Evans. With a strong social media following, Andy tours the UK regularly, doing festival, school, and library events.

Website | Twitter 


Fill out the rafflecopter to win a copy of either Gravity or Iron Fist (which I reviewed here). Open internationally as long as you live somewhere that the Book Depository ships to!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Check out the linky for lots of other chances to win, thanks for entering and good luck!

Monday 10 October 2016

Chasing Danger: Mystery At The Ice Hotel - Sara Grant

After surviving a kidnapping attempt in the Maldives, Chase and Mackenzie are off to the Ice Hotel in Iceland! What could go wrong there? But as soon as they arrive, accidents start to occur that seem targeted to scare - or worse, seriously hurt - the guests. When a body shows up frozen in an ice bed, it's up to the two girls to figure out who is behind the attacks ...before anyone else gets hurt!

This is a 2-for-1 review deal as I've read both Chasing Danger and Chasing Danger: Mystery At The Ice Hotel and can't really talk about one without the other! As you've probably guessed by now my new obsession seems to be mystery novels, whether they're MG or adult, and I'm hooked.

Chasing Danger is a mystery definitely worth reading. Charlotte 'Chase' Armstrong is off to the Maldives to stay with the grandmother she never knew she had. Determined to make the most of the time she has with Ariadne to discover who her mother is and what happened to her, she doesn't count on having to split her time with another teenager, the stunningly beautiful Mackenzie. Chase doesn't really have time to sulk though as she's soon caught up in a bombing at the resort where they're staying and trying to foil a kidnapping plot, aided and abetted by Mackenzie who has mad computer skills!

Not one but two brilliant female characters going up against the villains normally featuring boys makes for an outstanding read. Both Mackenzie and Chase are my favorite characters in a long time, they make a formidable team and the Maldives is the perfect setting for the kidnap of a princess...

After what feels like no time at all Chase and Mackenzie are soon up to their necks in it all over again. Only this time they've swapped a tropical paradise for the Arctic! Chase now knows that her mother is alive and is determined to contact her but first she has to figure out who seems to be trying to sabotage the launch of her grandmother's senior citizen dating app. The bodies are starting to pile up and Mackenzie is strangely reluctant to get dragged into another mystery quite so soon but thankfully TnT (also known as Toby & Taylor), boy twins, are on hand to help (well, mostly hinder).

The action doesn't let up from the get-go and there are red herrings aplenty. The girls really don't know who to trust this time and even suspect Ariadne at one point but the mystery is resolved thanks mostly to Chase's fearlessness, not that this is always a good thing!

A fantastic story featuring friendship, family and the ability to find a dead body even in the Arctic make this a gripping read. I loved both books but Mystery At The Ice Hotel sneaks over the line as my favorite, mainly because we get to see more of Chase's grandmother, Ariadne, this time round and the side story of her mother and who she really is. I can't wait for the third instalment as I'd like to know how in the world Chase is going to drop head first into another mystery in Kuriosity Kingdom Amusement Park...

Chasing Danger: Mystery At The Ice Hotel - Sara Grant
ISBN - 9781407163307
Publisher - Scholastic
Release date - October 6 2016

About The Author

Sara Grant was born and raised in the Midwestern United States. She has worked as an editor and is also the author of a number of books for young readers and teens. She lives in London and writes full-time.

Website | Twitter

Friday 7 October 2016

Favourite Things About My Protagonists - Joshua Khan

Favourite Things About My Protagonists, Thorn And Lily - Joshua Khan

Let’s start with Lily, or to give her full name and title, Lilith Hecate Shadow, ruler of Gehenna, the kingdom of Darkness. Not bad for a thirteen-year-old girl.Lily is a reaction to all the sword-wielding action heroines that have popped up in books of late, one version of a strong female character. Been there, done that. 

So, I wanted a create a new type of heroine, one who was bad-ass without being kick-ass, who played for the highest stakes imaginable, but never picked up a sword nor shot an arrow. She was inspired by two real-life heroines. 

First up is Elizabeth the First, England’s greatest queen. Now she was never even meant to be queen, she came to the throne after her brother’s and sister’s deaths. Her father executed her mother and spent her early, formative years with the banner of bastard. Yet she was clever, wise, a player and led England into a golden age of exploration and literature. Never picked up anything sharper than a needle. Then we have Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl who the Taliban tried to murder for promoting the education of girls. She survived a bullet in the head to become a Nobel Peace Prize winner, the youngest ever, and a valiant warrior for women worldwide. She, more than anyone, proved how the pen was certainly mightier than the sword, as it can deliver a message that could change the world. 

Lily’s my fantastical version of both. She rules, or tries to, not with violence, but with wit and compassion, and just a little bit of black magic. Ok, quite a lot. She lives in a world where women are banned from practising sorcery on pain of death by fire but is destined to be the most powerful necromancer of the age. Hooray for Lily! So, Lily is all about power, and women’s rights. As I pitched SHADOW MAGIC early on, this is a feminist high fantasy.

Next up, and different is all ways, is Thorn, my peasant boy outlaw for a talent of trouble and a soul incapable of deceit. He’s my Robin Hood. Born and raised in Herne’s Forest, he’s a preternaturally gifted archer, but stubbornly just. As we grow older, and perhaps more cynical, we can lose sight of the truth. Children aren’t like that. They see clearly, and passionately. Thorn’s twelve, and aware enough of what the adult world entails, and that’s danger and hardship for folk like him, but utterly driven to being just, even if he doesn’t understand it himself.Chuck them in together. 

The kingdom of Gehenna is one of deception, lies and betrayal, but great history and a glorious past. Lily wants the best for her people but doesn’t understand how to get it. Thorn sees what’s best, but has no power to make it happen. Yet Lily is a creature of darkness, raised in a lightless castle with ghosts and zombies as companions. Thorn was born under the open sky and has an affinity towards the natural, living world. They’re as opposite as can be but complement each other perfectly. Their relationship is inspired by my love for those 1930’s comedies with Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn, antagonistic, yet each respects the other, and they give as good as they get.

It’s been awesome fun writing SHADOW MAGIC and the sequel DREAM MAGIC, and I’m deep into the third book right now, BURNING MAGIC. If all goes well there will be more to come beyond that!

About The Author

Joshua Khan was born in Britain. From very early on he filled himself with the stories of heroes, kings, and queens until there was hardly any room for anything else. He can tell you where King Arthur was born* but not what he himself had for breakfast. So, with a head stuffed with tales of legendary knights, wizards and great and terrible monsters it was inevitable Joshua would want to create some of his own. Hence SHADOW MAGIC. Josh lives in London with his family, but he’d rather live in a castle. It wouldn’t have to be very big, just as long as it had battlements.

*Tintagel, in case you were wondering.

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