Blog Author Archive: Mark

Excerpt: DARK CHILD (COVENS RISING): EPISODE 3 by Adina West


The hunger was worse every day, and now there was only a whisper-thin line holding her back from a dark red sea. 
      “You would feed me?” Her voice came out so husky and low that it was a wonder he heard her.
In Paris, Kat hears of horrifying events back in the States. The leader of the Directorate is openly attacking those with mixed Tabérin and human blood. Hybrids like her. And chances are he’ll be turning his attention to Europe next. 
Kat knows she needs to go into hiding again. But then her Tabérin aunt, Akilina, reveals something about Kat’s heritage that changes everything. If Akilina is right, the Directorate will stop at nothing until they have eradicated Kat and the threat she represents. No matter how many they have to kill to get to her …
As the threat from the Directorate intensifies, Ben and Yara barely escape the US with their lives. But being trapped together on a boat bound for Europe could prove much more dangerous than anticipated. Because one of them is in transition, and needs to feed …
This title is the third novella-length episode of Dark Child (Covens Rising), which will conclude on July 31 with Episode 5. Please visit momentumbooks.com.au for further information.

Chapter 24

Amarok stood staring out into the darkness. Forest smells drifted in on the early evening breeze, and the stone balustrade was cold beneath his forearms. The snow-capped peaks of Slovenia’s highest mountain range rose behind him and continued on toward the border with Austria and Italy in the north-west, while Lake Bled lay far to the east, three thousand feet below. Despite the troubling circumstances that had brought them there, he liked this remote castle of Aron’s. It was too long since the family had spent time here.

Amarok, where are you? I need you.

Kat’s words reverberated through his head, and, for a brief instant, he was aware of her surroundings in far-off Paris: a railway carriage, and her feelings of uncertainty and fear.

Kat? He felt her register his shock at the sudden contact, and in the next instant, she was gone, the brief connection between them sundered. Amarok hesitated only a second before hurrying to see his sister.

“I was just coming to look for you,” Della said when he entered the room. “Things have taken a bad turn.”

“She’s worse?” He went to the bedside to see for himself.

Amber’s eyes were open, but she was staring up sightlessly, mumbling to herself.

“No.” Della shook her head. “She’s fine – I think. But she’s in a vision state of some kind. Something bad is happening elsewhere.”

“Does this have something to do with Kat?” Amarok asked. “I was coming to see if Amber was awake, and ask her what she sees for Kat, because I’ve just received a cry for help.”

“What do you mean, received?”

Amarok tapped his head.

Della’s eyes widened. “Kat contacted you? It was more than a decade before I could establish a reliable psychic connection even with Corrin, who I was so intimate with. With you all, as you would be aware, it took much longer.”

“It was only for an instant.” Amarok frowned. “As if she didn’t quite know how to do it properly. But I’m sure it was real. I saw her on a train.”

Della nodded, her eyes troubled,  and then looked down at Amber’s face. “Perhaps you could try to talk to her. She may respond to you.”

“She’s crying!” Amarok said in wonder. And it was true. Silent tears were streaming down Amber’s cheeks, dampening the pillow beneath her.

He laid his hand against one cheek and leaned down to kiss her on the forehead.

Amber blinked, and looked up at him with recognition. “Brother, I see so much death.”

Amarok gripped the pillow beside her head. “Kat. Not Kat?” he demanded.

Amber shook her head from side to side. “No, this happens far away, across the ocean. Whole families slaughtered.”

Della directed a shocked glance at him. “Who?” she asked. “Is there anything we can do?”

Amarok smoothed back Amber’s hair with a gentle hand. “Who is doing this? And who are the targets of this violence?”

“Our distant kin. Our Tabérin blood. Too many to help. Too many to save.” Amber blinked away tears. “But we must be ready to receive the survivors.”

Amarok exhaled, and shared a look with Della across his sister’s bed. He touched Amber’s cheek gently. “Amber, is Kat in any danger? She … communicated with me tonight. She was afraid.”

Amber stared off into the distance, and shook her head at last. “No physical danger. But she will need us. We shall go to her tonight.” She frowned, and looked up at him, her expression troubled. “Alek is already in Paris. He can get to her faster. Why have you not sent him to her, silly Amarok?”

“Sometimes, you see too much,” Amarok said grimly. He bent and kissed her again. “I’ll contact him now.”

“Amarok?” Amber called as he turned to leave. “The covens will rise. All this death will bring the witches out of hiding. There are dark days ahead, and Katerina will need our faith now more than ever.”

Amarok was troubled as he returned to the quiet balcony he’d been on when disturbed by Kat’s call for help. He wasn’t yet sure of the link between the deaths Amber had seen in her vision and the witches. But, given the violent history between the Tabérin and the Families of Power, any mention of them wasn’t good.

*

Establishing a connection with Alek was ridiculously easy, though Alek growled at the intrusion.

What do you want?

Nice to see you still excel at the small talk, brother. Amber’s been getting visions. Something very bad is happening back in America. Find out what you can. But be careful – she also warned of retaliation by the witches.

Amarok wished the next part of his message was as easy to raise with Alek, though he knew Amber was right. If Kat needed protectors, Alek was closest. Maybe his reluctance had something to do with the fact that Alek had received a phone call last night that had sent him hightailing it back to Paris, only he’d refused to tell anyone what was going on.

Spit it out. What is it you’re so reluctant to ask me?

Amarok could hear the amusement coming from Alek. It was impossible to hide feelings from each other when engaged in this sort of connection, and clearly, his own conflicting motivations were coming across loud and clear. Kat had called to him, not Alek. It frustrated him no end to be sending Alek to do a task he’d have infinitely preferred to reserve for himself. But, with Amber still in a fragile state, Amarok’s loyalties were divided. Alek’s were not.

Kat needs backup. You’re closest.

Got it. And then Alek cut their connection.

It could have been worse. He’d expected to feel gloating triumph radiating from Alek at gaining the upper hand in their ongoing tussle, and he’d been spared that. Mostly he was annoyed at himself. For years, he’d been selfless in his protection of Kat. But lately, especially where Alek was concerned, he had trouble putting his own needs last. Perhaps Alek’s innate competitiveness had awoken his own, and realizing what he had to lose had shown him how much it was worth fighting for.

Amarok sighed, and turned to go back inside. Amber had made her pronouncement, so they would travel tonight.

 

9781760081508_Dark Child Covens Rising 3_cover

Dark Child (Covens Rising): Episode 3 is available now where all good ebooks are sold

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Dark Child (Covens Rising): Episode 1 is available FREE where all good ebooks are sold

 

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Go back to where it all began with Dark Child (Awakening): Episode 1 available now for FREE where all good ebooks are sold

 

 



Podmentum: Thronementum


We’ve done specials on Star Trek and Doctor Who, now we bring you a special episode all about Game of Thrones! We discuss the TV series and the books with special guests, including former Podmentum host Anne Treasure. This is also Mark Harding’s final episode as host. Oh, and massive spoiler warning for Game of Thrones.

 

Recommendations:

Anne 

Death, Sex & Money podcast

Patrick

Words of Radiance: The Stormlight Archive Book 2 by Brandon Sanderson

Joel

Brilliance by Marcus Sakey

Mark

Orphan Black

 



Excerpt: DARK CHILD (COVENS RISING): EPISODE 2 by Adina West


In her dreams, she craved fresh blood. Warm human blood. And her incisors were long, sharp – able to bite through a fragile layer of skin with ease. What sort of monster does that make me?
Kat discovers that her presence in Paris isn’t such a secret anymore. But if she has to battle the Directorate again, it seems she’ll have much more support this time. Some of it from the most unlikely sources.
Meanwhile, teenage loner Ben discovers that he has much more in common with Yara Fortes, the girl of his dreams, than he ever hoped. But in a cruel twist of fate, the shared secret that links them together could also get them killed …
This title is the second novella-length episode of Dark Child (Covens Rising), which will conclude with Episode 5 on July 31. Please visit momentumbooks.com.au for further information.

 

Chapter 13

In English Lit class on the morning after his nocturnal excursion, Ben sat at the desk across from Yara, instead of in his normal position near the back. He was still high on adrenalin. He’d hardly been able to sleep after returning home last night and, even now, hours later, he was sure his pulse was elevated above normal – though that may have been for another reason.

“Yara.” He spoke in a piercing whisper, and she cocked her head slightly in his direction, while continuing to face forward.

“I’m sorry about last night at your house. The lights and the dogs and everything.”

She turned to face him in a flash, high spots of color in her cheeks. “What? That was you? You idiot, Ben, do you have any idea how dangerous … ”

“I’ll be more careful next time. Shhh,” he hissed, finger to his lips as he turned back to the teacher.

“Next time? Are you crazy?” Her voice had risen above a whisper now.

“Yara Fortes, eyes front, please!”

Yara gave a last meaningful glance in Ben’s direction. She was clearly biding her time until class ended. As soon as the bell rang, though, Ben escaped from the room. He didn’t want to give her the chance to spend any more time convincing him not to do something he was absolutely determined to do.

*

All the shutters were closed when he arrived home from school. Falcon was up early. Ben walked through to the kitchen and found his guardian waiting for him, his broad shoulders and long legs looking too big for the chair at the kitchen table. Ben rarely ever saw Falcon just sitting like a normal person. He usually went to work soon after rising for the night, and didn’t return until close to dawn. The rest of the time he spent sleeping in his heavily shuttered room.

So, Falcon sitting there at the table already made Ben suspicious. His next words proved there was reason to be.

“Any plans for tonight?” As usual, Falcon’s tone was calm, but the eyes that surveyed Ben were sharp and knowing.

Ben measured him, trying to guess how much Falcon already knew without betraying anything by his own expression. He kept his mind carefully blank as he answered.

“Ah, not really. Why, do you have a night off?”

“Funny.” Falcon’s tone suggested it was anything but.

They continued to stare at each other and, despite his best efforts, Ben felt himself growing faintly defensive. Damn, he hated it when Falcon did the waiting thing. Ben always caved in first. But this time he was determined not to give anything away if he could help it.

“So … ” Falcon continued in an offhand way. “You weren’t planning another trip to the Fortes house tonight, by any chance?”

“How did you know?” Ben burst out. He was absolutely certain he hadn’t let a single stray thought enter his mind. Over the years, he’d had plenty of practice at blocking out unwanted thoughts.

Falcon glanced down with a secret smile, and then gave a little shrug, as if the answer was obvious. “GPS tracker in your Vespa.”

“Damn. That’s really sneaky, you know that?”

Ben tried to feel angry about it, but couldn’t. It was so like Falcon. No matter what you did, he was always one step ahead, even if it was through using something prosaic, like a piece of human technology. It might have been a complete invasion of privacy, but Ben knew that, ultimately, anything Falcon did was for his own protection.

“Ben, I don’t want to be breathing down your neck, but I’ve got to ask you not to go back there. It isn’t safe.”

“Why?” Ben knew by his tone that Falcon wasn’t talking about the motion-sensor alarms and lights, or the guard dogs, though most people would have thought them reason enough.

Falcon’s eyes met his, the warning in them clear. “They’re not a normal family. Mess with them and it’s trouble, big trouble. And I mean the kind we’ve been trying to avoid for you. What on earth were you doing there?”

Ben’s eyes fell to the ground. He was silent for a moment. Then he faced Falcon, his expression serious. “I already know they’re not a normal family. Yara’s like me, I think. Part Tabérin. And she’s in trouble. Someone in that house … they’re making her drink blood, even though she hates it and it makes her ill.”

Falcon’s eyes narrowed. “And Yara would be … who? The girl from Italian class?”

Ben nodded.

“Let me guess. Yara Fortes?”

He nodded again.

“You like her?”

Ben didn’t want to answer that, but his response was plain from the dark red staining his cheeks.

Falcon swore softly under his breath, and shook his head disbelievingly. “Next time, could you maybe pick someone whose father doesn’t work for the Directorate? Ben, if she’s Victor Fortes’s kid, this is something we really don’t want to get involved in. Especially now.” He frowned. “Some stuff happened recently that caused a lot of tension at work. This is a really bad time to be attracting attention, especially with a background like yours or Yara’s. I want you to promise me you won’t go back in there. It’s too dangerous.”

“I don’t care if it’s dangerous,” Ben said stubbornly. “She’s on her own in a virtual prison. I have to help her.”

He faced Falcon, letting his clear recollection of every interaction between Yara and him float to the top of his mind: the dreams she was having, the way she’d reacted when she cut herself, her narrowed gaze as she caught him watching her in the library and, finally, Yara forcing down the glass of blood, and curling up in pain on the bed in her room.

He knew Falcon was reading his memories, because he gave a grunt, and swore again.

“Like I said, trouble. If she is Victor’s kid and she’s half Tabérin like you, it could be he’s trying to force her transition through feeding her blood. That’s just a theory, mind you, because it’s a godawful, ill-advised thing to attempt, in my opinion.” Falcon fell silent. Ben wished he could see past his ever-present emotional mask and guess what he was thinking.

At last, Falcon shook his head. “Dammit, Ben. Okay, but not tonight. Tonight, you don’t go near the place. We’ll do it my way – in a few days.”

Ben couldn’t believe his luck. Falcon was definitely the kind of person you wanted on your side when doing this kind of operation – but they’d never, ever done anything like this together before.

“You’ll help me? You can get time off work?” He knew that whatever it was his guardian did every night in his job with the Directorate, it didn’t usually leave him time for anything else. Not till now, anyway.

Falcon’s voice was his habitual rough growl. “I’ll make time.”

9781760081485_Dark Child Covens Rising 2_cover

Dark Child (Covens Rising): Episode 2 is available now where all good ebooks are sold

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Dark Child (Covens Rising): Episode 1 is available FREE where all good ebooks are sold

 

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Go back to where it all began with Dark Child (Awakening): Episode 1 available now for FREE where all good ebooks are sold

 



Love & F**k Poems Book Trailer


Love and F**k Poems by Koraly Dimitriadis is a story told through poetry, no fluff, no birds and trees, just honest, raw, poetry. It has been a bestseller and received critical acclaim from readers, authors and poets.

And now there’s a trailer!  Check it out below and be sure to grab a copy of Love & F**k Poems here.

“Wow. Dimitriadis pulls no punches here. This is armed-missile poetry. You won’t read anything like this in The Monthly.” Kate Holden, best-selling author, In My Skin

“Blood, Fire, Love & Passion; scramble! Direct hit.” TT.O. best-selling poet, 24 hours

“Koraly Dimitriadis is a gritty, gutsy, gobsmacking poet and performer—and she manages to be all those things with style and refinement.” Santo Cazzati, winner, best solo performance, Overload poetry festival 2010

Love and F**k Poems by Koraly Dimitriadis is available now where all good ebooks are sold



Giveaway: Zenith: The First Book of Ascension by Dirk Strasser


Dirk Strasser is giving away ebook copies of Zenith: The First Book of Ascension, the first instalment in his thrilling fantasy trilogy.

Can you see the story breathing?

Imagine

A mountain so great it takes a year to travel from base to summit

A sun so powerful it drives you into madness if you look at it

An ascent so vital it determines the fate of the world

A summit so precious it holds the key to the divine

The world of the great Mountain is unstable. Giant pillars erupt from the surface and yawning chasms form unpredictably underfoot. Since the Maelir first stood on its slopes in the distant past, they have sought to still its anger and control its power. Each year, twin brothers are chosen to make a perilous journey to the summit. If they survive they will be witness to Zenith, and the secrets will be revealed to them.

When Atreu and Teyth embark on their Ascent, their Talismans lead them onto conflicting paths that will ultimately set brother against brother. And this time the Ascent itself is in peril as unknown forces that have long craved the power of Zenith will stop at nothing to make it their own … even if it means destroying the very thing that sustains all life – the Mountain itself.

 

 

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Excerpt: DARK CHILD (COVENS RISING): EPISODE 1 by Adina West


Kat Chanter isn’t your ordinary girl. And she isn’t your ordinary vampire, either. The ruthless Directorate would go to any lengths to have her power – including murder. And when that leads to a war between races, Kat’s fate becomes the ultimate prize …
Kat is done with being on the run, or so she hopes. A new pathology job in Paris is her big chance to start afresh, far from the Tabérin Directorate who want her dead. Sure, adjusting to life as a half-vampire, half-human hybrid in transition poses its own challenges, but it’s nothing Kat can’t handle … until the past starts to catch up with her.
When she’s approached by one Tabérin male from her past, she can explain it away. But add in another territorial Tabérin with a newfound conscience and it’s starting to get crowded on Kat’s Montmartre window ledge. Past experience tells Kat to be cautious, especially in her vulnerable state. But how can she tell friend from foe?
Perfect for fans of The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, Dark Child (Covens Rising) is the highly anticipated sequel to the best-selling urban fantasy novel Dark Child (The Awakening). This title is the first novella-length episode of Dark Child (Covens Rising), which will conclude with Episode 5 on July 31. Please visit momentumbooks.com.au for further information.

 

Chapter One

The wave of dizziness swept over her without warning. Hang on, girl. Katerina Chanter clung to the stainless steel surface in front of her and closed her eyes, fighting off the nausea that followed. Not again.

“You okay?”

Kat opened her eyes to see the freckled face of Eoin, her Irish workmate, tilted in her direction. It was just the two of them here in the hematology lab of the American Hospital of Paris, and right now Eoin was watching her with a perplexed frown, waiting for her response. He mimed drinking from a glass, and grinned.

“Been on the sauce again, Kat?”

She gave the smile she knew he expected. “Huh, I wish. Just low blood sugar, I think.” She’d thought the lies would get easier with time, but it turned out they didn’t – however necessary they were. It wasn’t like she could tell cheerful Eoin, with his mop of curly dark hair and infectious smile, that what she really needed was a hit of blood, pronto.

“Go on then.” He nodded toward the lab door. “Take your lunch break early. Go and get something to eat. Bloods from the oncology clinic aren’t due back for an hour, at least. I can cover until then.”

Kat battled against the helpless frustration that welled up as she walked through the hospital hallways toward the exit. She’d been trying to stay heedful of the calming advice Amber had given her shortly before the seer had left Paris. Own your present, Amber had said. But living in the here and now, avoiding her painful memories of the past and her fears for the future, would be so much damned easier if her body wasn’t constantly reminding her of how vulnerable she was, caught in this pre-transition state: half human and half not.

A sense of uneasiness halted her part way along the final hallway, and the back of her neck prickled in awareness of being watched. She turned to look behind her, and the place was, of course, full of people. Patients in transit between wings, trailing their IV fluid stands. A cleaner or two, and a group of surgical staff in scrubs, deep in conversation. Nobody who shouldn’t have been there. Nobody’s watching you, she told herself firmly. But still the feeling lingered, and when she turned to resume her path to the door, she walked a little faster than before.

Kat took a deep breath of fresh air as she exited the hospital and headed out into the sunlight. She’d been in this job for less than a week, and in Paris for only a few days longer. The threat to her life from the Tabérin Directorate was something she and her protectors all hoped they’d left behind in America. Especially since they’d gone to the extra trouble of faking her death before they fled to Europe. With any luck, her cell phone and engraved bracelet had already been discovered in the rubble of the Directorate’s Hema Castus Institute, and they’d have crossed her off their hit list. Nobody except her protectors knew she was in Paris, and even they had left her now the threat was over. Char and Jonathan were running a new club in York, in northern England. Alek and Amarok and their unalil family had gone somewhere remote, to aid in Amber’s recuperation. The last to leave had been Akilina, her hyper-vigilant aunt, who’d retired to her château in the Loire Valley last week – close enough to come rushing back if Kat needed her.

But now, Kat was forced to acknowledge that there was a huge difference between a threat that no longer existed and one that was merely … deflected. She had some freedom, yes, but only during the daytime. Come nightfall, she had to be safely home behind locked doors. No exceptions. Because the Directorate were still out there, and if she made even one misstep, they’d be onto her.

The constant vigilance was wearing away at her nerves. Making her jump at imagined shadows, even in the middle of a sunny spring day like today. This was supposed to be a fresh start, which was exactly what she’d told Alek she wanted, the night before he’d left Paris with the others. A fresh start, with the past safely behind her – and that past definitely included the golden-haired cougar shifter, and the painful confusion he always seemed to inspire in her. Of course, after Alek had left Paris, she’d found the bracelet he’d left for her. And she hadn’t quite been able to bring herself to take it off since.

Her health problems seemed similarly difficult to leave behind. As she headed away from the hospital, down the tree-lined Boulevard de la Saussaye, Kat mulled over her ‘symptoms’. The dizzy spells, the nausea – she couldn’t ignore the fact that they were happening more often. Even now, walking too fast was making her head swim. Were these symptoms of impending transition, or something else, as yet undiagnosed?

It was frustrating that these problems hadn’t gone away even though, despite initial reluctance, she’d been religiously following the regime Akilina had laid out for her. Before agreeing to leave Kat in Paris, Akilina had insisted she agree to take daily doses of blood that the Tabérin elder’s blood-made ‘daughter’, Sabine, was sourcing through a hospital contact. Kat’s current independence … living in Montmartre with Sabine, her new job at the hospital … it had all been contingent upon setting her aunt’s mind at ease.

“Not only have you been through an ordeal, it seems clear your body is preparing for transition. A normal human diet cannot sustain you. And I don’t want you taking the Directorate doses, even if we could source extra for you. It’s treated, and denatured. You must have fresh human blood.” Akilina’s expression had been so serious that Kat felt it was easier just to accede to the request. It seemed pretty clear that if she hadn’t, her aunt would have rethought the whole plan to leave her alone with Sabine and decided to stay to keep an eye on things. That was not what Kat wanted. She appreciated her aunt’s concern for her, she really did. Though their connection was recent, she couldn’t ignore the wishes of the woman who was her only link to the father she’d never known. Still, having someone around who was so concerned, so protective, was sometimes a little … claustrophobic.

Kat arrived at her favorite lunch place near the hospital, a modest bistro on one of the River Seine’s small islets, Île de la Jatte. She slid into her usual seat, giving a grateful smile to the waiter seating her. He was the main reason she kept coming back here; he seemed to have taken a liking to her on her first visit, and fast, attentive service in Paris wasn’t something to be taken lightly – especially when you had limited time for lunch. She ordered the plat du jour, like she always did. It was hard to pass up two courses at such a reasonable price. Since starting this job last week, she’d been eating her biggest meal at lunch, and for dinner having soup from a big batch she made every few days. Having her appetite back was one thing she was glad of. It seemed when she was supplementing her diet with a good dose of O positive every day, she could eat normal fare without it tasting like cardboard. She still found herself zoning in on the meat dishes every time, though.

Her steak and fries arrived quickly, and she cut into the meat as soon as the waiter had turned away. As she’d requested, it was ‘au bleu’, or rare. Very rare. The way she always needed it these days.

As she raised the fork to her mouth, she noticed her hand was shaking, and it didn’t become steady until she’d almost finished the steak. She tried not to let it worry her, but it was unnerving having her body give such clear signs that it wasn’t coping. Not on one dose of blood a day, anyway. She finished her steak, and picked at a few of the fries, then looked up and caught the waiter’s eye. He hurried over to remove the plate, and then brought her dessert; tarte tatin with thick cream. She was a bit addicted to the upside-down apple pie, which seemed to be served everywhere in Paris.

Her waiter lingered to hold the door for her as she gathered her things and left. Very thoughtful, as always.

The walk to the hospital seemed half the distance on her return journey. The same body she’d been dragging along before lunch was weightless now, and she was uncomfortably aware of the connection between this and the meat she’d just eaten. Like the symptoms it corrected, it was happening too often to ignore. But, just lately, it seemed that even a good meal of red meat didn’t make her feel better for longer than a couple of hours.

She sighed. Maybe it was time. What she was doing now clearly wasn’t working … but, given her aunt’s protectiveness, she wasn’t thrilled by the thought that her logical next step was to call Akilina for help. Still, she couldn’t ignore the possibility that the elder’s blood was the only thing that would work for her now, anymore than she could face the counter possibility: that nothing would work.

Kat entered the coolness of the hospital, and passed a white-garbed orderly who was adjusting a wheelchair. The tang of his sweat assaulted her, and she knew with a certainty she couldn’t explain that he’d had curry for dinner the night before, and started his day with black coffee. She continued down the hallway to the pathology department, rounded a corner, and swung open the door to the hematology lab. Eoin called out a greeting and reached for a clipboard.

“Hope you’re feeling better, because the oncology bloods have come in. A big batch.” He walked over and handed her the clipboard with a wink. “Be a star, and start while I grab a bite to eat? I haven’t been out yet.”

Was it her imagination, or did he seem a little flustered? Kat’s nostrils flared as she caught the scent of stale perfume on his shirt collar. Having met his wife Lainey a couple of days ago when she’d come to take Eoin out to lunch, she recognized a trace of the fragrance she wore. But there was another, fresher scent too, though Kat knew Lainey was away in Dublin. She’d only chatted to the woman for a few minutes, but Kat had liked Lainey instantly; she was the type to face everything with a smile, to see the best in everybody.

Even, probably, to see the best in a philandering husband.

“Kat?” Eoin prompted.

She forced herself to meet his eyes. It was none of her business why he was late going to lunch, and why his jacket smelled like Audrey, the nursing unit manager from oncology. No matter how much she wanted to say something, to exhort him not to do this to his lovely wife, she couldn’t. It wasn’t her place. Especially not when her suppositions were based on abilities that weren’t human. For a moment, she fancied she heard Eoin’s heart beating, a hurried staccato thump thump thump thump thump.

She took the clipboard with a forced smile. “Sure, I’ll go ahead and start. Enjoy your lunch.”

As soon as the door had closed behind him, Kat dropped the clipboard onto the stainless steel counter with a clatter, and sank onto a stool. Her hand went straight to her rune necklace, and she pressed it hard against her chest, closing her eyes and taking deep, slow breaths.

It’s not normal, a worried little voice in her head taunted her, in a refrain she knew all too well by now, but then another part of her cut in with a relaxed southern drawl. Honey, you ain’t never been normal.

“Ain’t that the truth,” she said aloud to the empty lab, with a wry smile, and went over to her handbag to retrieve a small sample tube.

At least, with Eoin gone, she could do her daily check on the blood sample she’d taken from herself when she’d started work here. She hadn’t centrifuged it. She hadn’t refrigerated it. In fact, in every regard she’d done the opposite of her training. The sample should be degraded. If it had been normal human blood, the cells would have broken down by now.

She drew a small amount of blood from the sample tube, and prepped a slide. When she slid it under the microscope, and focused – well, she couldn’t say she was completely surprised by what she saw, seeing as it was the same thing she’d seen every day so far. The blood sample was still perfect. Completely abnormal in its concentrations, with its huge overabundance of elongated platelets and shortage of red cells. But otherwise perfect. Not a hint of hemolysis. Despite her having exposed them to sunlight, and frozen and rethawed them, and dipped them in boiling water, the red cells looked as smooth-walled and robust as they had on the day she’d taken the sample. Five days ago.

She disposed of the slide, sealed the tube again, and returned it to her bag with a sigh. So, basically, her blood was super blood. It could live outside her body for days on end, even under the most extreme conditions. Maybe at least part of that could be explained by her Tabérin heritage. She’d never had the chance to get any Tabérin blood under the microscope, and the scientist in her itched to confirm her hunch that all Tabérin blood had a similar platelet and red cell profile to hers. It also made sense that the blood of a near-immortal being would be able to withstand a heck of a lot more punishment than a human blood sample.

But something still stood out as strange. During her short stint at the Hema Castus Research Institute, back in New York, the windowless lab and all the protocols her workmates had introduced her to had made one thing very clear; the scarce blood samples they were studying, the two other samples with elongated platelets, just like hers, couldn’t tolerate even the tiniest amount of sunlight. It wasn’t a leap to assume that those blood samples had been from other hybrids, those with both human and Tabérin blood. And that Tabérin blood, like the Tabérin race, was fatally compromised by sunlight. So far, Kat thought, her reasoning made sense.

But she’d left her own sample tube on the windowsill in full sunlight for a couple of hours two days ago, and when later she’d examined it under the microscope, she’d seen no after-effects whatsoever. Why was sunlight not an issue for her blood? It was yet another thing to add to the litany of oddness that had plagued her ever since her life went to hell in a hand basket a couple of weeks ago.

Kat shook off thoughts of the mystery, picked up the clipboard, and went over to start on the oncology batch. Her fingers were quick and sure as she methodically placed the samples in order. She’d been noticing changes like that in every area. Better vision and sense of smell. More strength, speed, dexterity, and, at least, with Eoin gone, she could apply those to getting this batch done in half the time it would usually have taken. Hopefully, before the effects of her lunch wore off.

It would have been nice to find some sort of middle ground, instead of these alternating states she’d been experiencing lately – heightened senses and abilities, followed by debilitating weakness. She gave a mock grimace. Ah, who wanted normal, anyway? Definitely overrated.

Tonight, though … if things didn’t improve, she had to call Akilina.

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Dark Child (Covens Rising): Episode 1 is available now where all good ebooks are sold

 

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Go back to where it all began with Dark Child (Awakening): Episode 1 available now for FREE where all good ebooks are sold

 



The Aurora series comes to print


The first two volumes in Amanda Bridgeman’s bestselling Aurora series are going to be released in print-on-demand this month. Aurora: Darwin and Aurora: Pegasus chronicle the missions of the crew of the UNF Aurora as they face danger, action and intrigue in space. We’ll have more details as soon as the books are available for purchase.

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Aurora: Darwin

A distress signal on the edge of inhabited space. A mission that is far outside normal parameters. Two very different people with one common goal – survival.

When a distress signal is received from a black-ops space station on the edge of inhabited space, Captain Saul Harris of the UNF Aurora is called in from leave to respond. But the mission is not what it seems. Female members of the United National Forces have not been allowed to travel into the outer zones before, but Harris is ordered to take three new female recruits.

For Corporal Carrie Welles, one of the Aurora‘s new recruits, her first mission in space seems like a dream come true. Determined to achieve the success of her father before her, and suddenly thrust into a terrifying mission, she must work with her new captain and the strained Aurora crew to make it home alive.

When the Aurora arrives at the station Harris and Welles soon find themselves caught up in a desperate fight for survival. Station Darwin is not what they expected. The lights are off. But somebody is home.

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Aurora: Pegasus

Before they can rise victorious, they must first descend into hell.

Captain Saul Harris of the UNF Aurora gets the call he does not want to receive. Forced to pull his team back together and go hunt down and capture old enemies, he finds himself faced with a whole new terror.

He thought the Darwin mission was over, but all those unanswered questions are beginning to haunt him.

Corporal Carrie Welles has no choice but to rejoin the Aurora crew and help her captain finish what they started. But is this mission as straightforward as it seems? Is she really prepared for the fight of her life?

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The third volume in the series, Aurora: Meridian, will be available in ebook and print-on-demand in September.

Their hardest battle will be fighting the enemy within …

Captain Saul Harris has found himself at a crossroads. Haunted by dreams of the dead, he fights to keep his soldiers safe as events spiral out of his control. But has his search for the truth led him to discover there is more to this mission of chasing Sharley than meets the eye?

Meanwhile, Corporal Carrie Welles seeks revenge. Consumed with demons from her past two missions, she goes rogue in the hope that her actions will end all the pain and suffering the Aurora team has endured. But will facing the enemy free them all from Sharley’s cruel grasp, or has she condemned herself to a suicide mission?

As the mystery of Sharley and UNFASP unfolds and lives hang in the balance, Harris and Carrie are forced to search deep inside themselves, and what they find will shock them.



DARK CHILD (COVENS RISING): EPISODE 5 by Adina West – Cover Reveal


We’ve shown you the covers for Episode 1Episode 2Episode 3 and Episode 4, now here’s the cover for Dark Child (Covens Rising): Episode 5 by Adina West!

Dark Child (Covens Rising): Episode 5 by Adina West

“We are a proud people, from an ancient lineage. We may be lovers of peace, but we know when to fight for it!” Imara raised her fist. “You wondered if the people who hurt you will pay for it? Hear me now. They will pay.”

Kat’s grandmother seems determined to wrest Kat away from her Tabérin friends and allies and bring her back into the family fold – a family of untold power stretching back centuries. Kat refuses … but her grandmother isn’t someone who takes no for an answer.

As the hybrid refugees flee the attacks by the Directorate and converge en masse in Paris, and the Families of Power gather their forces across the western world, Kat is fighting her own battle. Her grandmother’s disclosure of her true family heritage has changed everything, and now Kat finds herself heir to not one, but two warring dynasties …

This title is the fifth and final novella-length episode of Dark Child (Covens Rising). Please visit momentumbooks.com.au for further information.

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Dark Child (Covens Rising): Episode 5 will be available July 31 where all good ebooks are sold

 

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Go back to where it all began with Dark Child (Awakening): Episode 1 available now for FREE where all good ebooks are sold

 

 



Position Vacant: Digital Marketing Executive


Momentum, the digital-first publishing imprint of Pan Macmillan Australia, currently has an opening for a Digital Marketing Executive to join the Sydney office.

This is a busy and varied role that encompasses aspects of marketing, publicity and social media. Responsibilities include using multiple social media platforms to promote our brand, books and authors, creative digital marketing and publicity campaigns, the creation and sourcing of appropriate content for our blogs, and liaising closely with authors and agents on campaigns.

The successful applicant must be passionate about ebooks and technology, and be extremely comfortable in the digital world. They should also be organised and preferably have experience working with external stakeholders and managing client expectations.

An interest in genre fiction, particularly romance and thrillers, is highly desirable.

Please send a CV and cover letter to Joel Naoum at joel.naoum@momentumbooks.com.au

Applications will close on Friday, 11 July 2014.

 

 



I, MORGANA by Felicity Pulman: Excerpt


 

PROLOGUE

I am an old woman now. My bones creak and scrape together like bare branches in a winter wind. I ache with longing for my youth. When I notice my reflection, I am aghast at the vision of the hag who looks back at me. I mourn the passing of who I was, and everything I could have been. More than anything, I long to reverse time. Throughout the years I have tried and tried to do this, without success. Now, even my most potent spells and incantations cannot transform me into the young woman I once was, with all my life still to live. With age, my magical powers have all but deserted me. Once I was desired by men; now I am disregarded by all and loved by none.

And I ask myself: How has it come to this, when once the future looked so bright and full of promise? And I swear a sacred oath to the gods, whoever they may be, that if only they would grant me my life anew, along with the wisdom I have learned so painfully, I would not make the same mistakes again. I would not lead us all to destruction.

But the gods are deaf to my prayers and to my promises. All I can do now is call for parchment, cut my quill, and tell my story. I shall start at the beginning, because that’s when the first seeds of doom were sown: when I was a child and believed I had the power to make the whole world new.

 

CHAPTER ONE

“Look at me, Merlin! Look at me.” I twirl and twirl, giddy with delight, bubbling with laughter as the earth turns around me and my hair flies into my eyes.

“Well done, Morgana! You must concentrate now; think about being a bird. How will it feel when you are flying?”

I close my eyes and I try, I try so hard, because I know how much it’ll please Merlin if I succeed. Around and around I spin, the world gone dark around me, the air swishing past.

“Open your eyes, Morgana! Look about you. See that raven? Remember what I told you? You have to think that raven, be a raven.”

I am a raven. I am a raven. I am Merlin’s raven. I am! I am a raven flying, flying high, soaring into the sky, riding on the wind.

 I think it. I will it with all my heart, my mind, my soul.

Something shifts. Something changes. The air feels cool against my cheek, my black feathers ruffle in the breeze. I look down as a little girl dissolves into light and shadows, and I know that I am free!

Merlin knows it too. I can see him down there, shading his eyes from the sun as he stares up at me. I feel such exultation, such triumph, I could almost burst. I am Morgana, Merlin’s raven, and I have the whole realm in my power. All that I can see below me will be mine one day. I know that’s true because my father has willed it, and Merlin has promised me.

He’s waving at me now, beckoning me to come down, for I have proved myself to him. But I am gone beyond him. I am intoxicated with joy, with the sensation of flying and the knowledge that at last I have unlocked the secret to shape-shifting. Now I can escape from my earthbound body and become anyone or anything that takes my fancy. And so I fly on, for the first time able to look down on the land that one day will be mine, and on the people over whom I shall rule. Beyond the spit of land on which our castle stands is the dark blue ocean, buffed into sharp waves by a brisk wind. It’s a ragged coastline of jagged cliffs, marked by the foam of breaking waves at their base. The sea hides a multitude of broken dreams, ships coming close to harbor but caught by waves and tide instead, and torn to pieces on the cruel and unforgiving rocks below the surface.

Bells ring out as I fly over the abbey. Obeying their urgent summons, the monks of Tintagel hurry to Mass in their great stone church with its cross at the summit. In my bird’s mind I pull a human face at them, for their love of the Christ is not for me. I put my trust in Merlin’s magic, not the will of the god they worship.

On a whim I fly onward, to the place where my father died in battle, for I have never been allowed to see the place where he fell, just as I was not allowed to see his dead body, nor was I able to mourn him openly, as a daughter should.

Once I come to the battlefield, I alight on a branch and look out across the bare scrubby grass that lies baking in the glare of the sun. I try to imagine how it must have been: my father’s troops trying to defend our territory against the soldiers of the High King; a battle that ended in the death of my father, Gorlois, Duke of Cornwall. My heart fills with sorrow as I recall the events that led to that moment.

It all began when my father was summoned to London to pay tribute to the new High King, and made the mistake of bringing his family with him, for it was then that Uther Pendragon fell in love with my mother and she with him. I remember how awed I was by the magnificence of the High King’s palace and the presence of kings and nobles from across the southern country. We’d walked along the banks of the River Thames, my father and I, while he’d announced his dreams for my future.

“I shall not make any arrangements for your betrothal, Morgana, not yet. There is time enough to choose a worthy consort to be at your side, but it is you I shall name as my heir, and it is you who will rule Cornwall in my stead. I’m putting my trust in you, Morgana. You must take care of my realm and rule wisely and well. You must not fail me in this. Do I have your word that you will do as I ask?”

His words had so filled me with excitement that I’d stopped walking and faced him. I’d crossed my hands over my heart and sworn an oath that I would never let him down, and that I would do all that he asked of me, and more.

My father had laughed then—not at me, but with relief, because he knew that I understood the gravity of his charge. And I saw the love and pride that shone in his eyes when he presented me to Uther, the High King, as his heir.

But there are other things I remember about that time. How Uther followed my mother, Igraine, around his court, seizing every opportunity to take her hand and press it to his lips for a lingering kiss. At the time I’d thought it a mark of his respect for us, but later I understood that Uther loved my mother. I also remember the growing tension between my father and mother that culminated in a bitter quarrel and led to our hasty departure from London.

Just six months after that, my father is dead and my mother remarried.

I shake my glossy feathers into smoothness, as if I could at the same time shake myself free of memories. Conscious of time passing, I look out over the battlefield once more, and mouth an anathema against the man who caused my father’s death. Then, with some trepidation, worried I may have lost the knack of it, I launch myself off the branch. I spread my wings and my body lifts up into a current of air that will blow me toward the forest and Merlin.

My flight takes me over the castle and I look down at its inhabitants, tiny as ants as they swirl in patterns around the courtyard, going about their business. I fly closer so that I can see them more clearly, for I am intrigued to find out what people might do, how they might act when they believe themselves unobserved.

I see my mother, and my heart catches in my feathered breast. She is sitting in her private arbor. With her is Uther Pendragon. As I watch, he places his hand on her stomach and leans over to kiss her cheek. She laughs, and puts her hand over his—and I realize the significance of what I see. Looking at them now, at the way their joined hands stroke the curve of her belly, I understand that soon I shall have yet another rival for my mother’s love.

How I hate Uther Pendragon! I hate him for the way he took my father’s place so soon after he was killed. That he loves my mother beyond reason, I have no doubt. But I blame him most bitterly for my father’s death in battle and for seizing our kingdom. I also blame him for taking my mother away from me. These days she has eyes only for him.

If only I knew how to do it, I would strike Uther Pendragon dead! And my mother’s unborn child with him. Merlin has promised to teach me more tricks and more magic than mere shape-shifting; he’s promised to give me all the gifts I shall need to rule a kingdom. I don’t want another rival for Merlin’s affection. What I really want is to change things back to how they were; to turn back time and have power over life and death, and that’s what I would learn from him.

A sudden thought strikes terror into my heart: What if my mother bears a son, what then? I fly back to Merlin as quickly as I can and, as soon as I’ve transformed myself, I question him.

He gives me a fond smile. “You have nothing to fear, Morgana. Remember: your father has named you as his heir, even if Uther has usurped your position for the moment. But I believe you have an even greater destiny, for while Uther dabbles here with your mother, he is neglecting his duty as High King. The kings of Britain are jostling for power, leaving our country disunited and increasingly vulnerable to attacks from across the sea. You have courage, and intelligence, and you have shown great aptitude in the magical arts. I believe that when the time comes, and with my help, you will have the strength and the knowledge to unite all the tribes of Britain and bring them under your protection so that we may live in peace and prosperity once more.”

I take comfort from Merlin’s words, for they justify my father’s trust in me. But Merlin has not yet finished.

“A word of warning,” he says, and now his voice is stern. “When I bid you to return from flight, or to do anything else, I expect you to do as you are told. No!” He raises his hand as I open my mouth to argue. “I know it is a temptation to fly further and to test yourself, especially when you are new to shape-shifting, but you must always respect your magical powers, Morgana, and use them wisely. You are six summers grown now; old enough to obey my instructions as well as learn from me.”

“Of course I shall do everything you ask, Merlin.” I am so grateful for the mage’s reassurance of my destiny that I will promise him anything. I am also grateful to have escaped a long lecture. Although I love Merlin, and will do anything to please him, I do hate it when he’s cross with me!

Merlin is something of a mystery to me. He has power, I know that—the power of a mage steeped in magic—yet he is not a member of our court. My mother has become a devout Christian since marrying Uther, and anything to do with the occult has been banned. But Merlin and I have always met in secret, right from the very first when, by chance, I escaped my nurse and my sister, and ran into the forest beyond the castle looking for adventure. Merlin found me—or perhaps he knew I would come that day and so he waited for me? I know not, but since then we have always met in the forest, and I have told no one about what he is teaching me.

He looks a bit like an elderly owl, with tufty white hair and piercing eyes that seem to see right through me. I know that he believes in me, for he cares for me as a father would. And I try to please him in everything, for there is much I can learn from him, lessons I need to understand if I am to fulfill the shining destiny he has promised me. I am determined to do well, to be the best. I am determined to justify his faith in me, and fulfill the oath I swore to my father.

 

I, Morgana by Felicity Pulman is available now where all good ebooks are sold

 

 



DARK CHILD (COVENS RISING): EPISODE 4 by Adina West – Cover Reveal


We’ve shown you the cover for Episode 1Episode 2 and Episode 3, now here’s the cover for Dark Child (Covens Rising): Episode 4 by Adina West!

Dark Child (Covens Rising): Episode 4 by Adina West

Kat brought her eyes back to Amber. “Am I still in danger?” she blurted. 

      “Of course you are.”

An unexpected visit from Kat’s grandmother adds a shocking twist to the unfolding mystery of her hybrid heritage. Add to this a romantic tangle of epic proportions and Kat’s visit to Akilina’s chateau in the idyllic Loire Valley is shaping up to be anything but relaxing.

Kat’s powers are growing, and with war between the races looming new alliances are being forged. And everyone, it seems, wants Kat on their side …

This title is the fourth novella-length episode of Dark Child (Covens Rising), which will conclude with Episode 5 on July 31. Please visit momentumbooks.com.au for further information.

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Dark Child (Covens Rising): Episode 4 will be available July 24 where all good ebooks are sold

 

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Go back to where it all began with Dark Child (Awakening): Episode 1 available now for FREE where all good ebooks are sold

 



DARK CHILD (COVENS RISING): EPISODE 3 by Adina West – Cover Reveal


We’ve shown you the cover for Episode 1 and Episode 2, now here’s the cover for Dark Child (Covens Rising): Episode 3 by Adina West!

Dark Child (Covens Rising): Episode 3 by Adina West

The hunger was worse every day, and now there was only a whisper-thin line holding her back from a dark red sea. 

      “You would feed me?” Her voice came out so husky and low that it was a wonder he heard her.

In Paris, Kat hears of horrifying events back in the States. The leader of the Directorate is openly attacking those with mixed Tabérin and human blood. Hybrids like her. And chances are he’ll be turning his attention to Europe next.

Kat knows she needs to go into hiding again. But then her Tabérin aunt, Akilina, reveals something about Kat’s heritage that changes everything. If Akilina is right, the Directorate will stop at nothing until they have eradicated Kat and the threat she represents. No matter how many they have to kill to get to her …

As the threat from the Directorate intensifies, Ben and Yara barely escape the US with their lives. But being trapped together on a boat bound for Europe could prove much more dangerous than anticipated. Because one of them is in transition, and needs to feed…

This title is the third novella-length episode of Dark Child (Covens Rising), which will conclude with Episode 5 on July 31. Please visit momentumbooks.com.au for further information.

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Dark Child (Covens Rising): Episode 3 will be available July 17 where all good ebooks are sold

 

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Go back to where it all began with Dark Child (Awakening): Episode 1 available now for FREE where all good ebooks are sold

 

 



DARK CHILD (COVENS RISING): EPISODE 2 by Adina West – Cover Reveal


We’ve shown you the cover for Episode 1, now here’s the cover for Dark Child (Covens Rising): Episode 2 by Adina West!

Dark Child (Covens Rising): Episode 2 by Adina West

In her dreams, she craved fresh blood. Warm human blood. And her incisors were long, sharp – able to bite through a fragile layer of skin with ease. What sort of monster does that make me?

Kat discovers that her presence in Paris isn’t such a secret anymore. But if she has to battle the Directorate again, it seems she’ll have much more support this time. Some of it from the most unlikely sources.

Meanwhile, teenage loner Ben discovers that he has much more in common with Yara Fortes, the girl of his dreams, than he ever hoped. But in a cruel twist of fate, the shared secret that links them together could also get them killed …

This title is the second novella-length episode of Dark Child (Covens Rising), which will be released in weekly episodes, concluding with Episode 5 on July 31. Please visit momentumbooks.com.au for further information.

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Dark Child (Covens Rising): Episode 2 will be available July 10 where all good ebooks are sold

 

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Go back to where it all began with Dark Child (Awakening): Episode 1 available now for FREE where all good ebooks are sold

 

 



DARK CHILD (COVENS RISING): EPISODE 1 by Adina West – Cover Reveal


Dark Child fans, your wait is over! The second Dark Child serial begins next week, with Episode 1 of Dark Child (Covens Rising)! Check out the cover, and be sure to preorder from your preferred ebook retailer. We’ll be revealing the other covers over the coming days, so check back for more updates!

Dark Child (Covens Rising): Episode 1 by Adina West

Kat Chanter isn’t your ordinary girl. And she isn’t your ordinary vampire, either. The ruthless Directorate would go to any lengths to have her power – including murder. And when that leads to a war between races, Kat’s fate becomes the ultimate prize …

Kat is done with being on the run, or so she hopes. A new pathology job in Paris is her big chance to start afresh, far from the Tabérin Directorate who want her dead. Sure, adjusting to life as a half-vampire, half-human hybrid in transition poses its own challenges, but it’s nothing Kat can’t handle … until the past starts to catch up with her.

When she’s approached by one Tabérin male from her past, she can explain it away. But add in another territorial Tabérin with a newfound conscience and it’s starting to get crowded on Kat’s Montmartre window ledge. Past experience tells Kat to be cautious, especially in her vulnerable state. But how can she tell friend from foe?

Perfect for fans of The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, Dark Child (Covens Rising) is the highly anticipated sequel to the best-selling urban fantasy novel Dark Child (The Awakening). This title is the first novella-length episode of Dark Child (Covens Rising), which will be released in weekly episodes, concluding with Episode 5 on July 31.

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Dark Child (Covens Rising): Episode 1 will be available July 3 where all good ebooks are sold

 

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Go back to where it all began with Dark Child (Awakening): Episode 1 available now for FREE where all good ebooks are sold



AURORA: MERIDIAN – Cover Reveal


Check it out! The cover for the highly-anticipated new sci-fi thriller Aurora Meridian by Amanda Bridgeman, third in the bestselling Aurora series!

Their hardest battle will be fighting the enemy within …

Captain Saul Harris has found himself at a crossroads. Haunted by dreams of the dead, he fights to keep his soldiers safe as events spiral out of his control. But has his search for the truth led him to discover there is more to this mission of chasing Sharley than meets the eye?

Meanwhile, Corporal Carrie Welles seeks revenge. Consumed with demons from her past two missions, she goes rogue in the hope that her actions will end all the pain and suffering the Aurora team has endured. But will facing the enemy free them all from Sharley’s cruel grasp, or has she condemned herself to a suicide mission?

As the mystery of Sharley and UNFASP unfolds and lives hang in the balance, Harris and Carrie are forced to search deep inside themselves, and what they find will shock them.

Aurora: Meridian will be available 11 September 2014 where all good ebooks are sold

In the meantime, check out Aurora: Darwin and Aurora: Pegasus, the two previous novels in this epic series.

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GORGON by Greig Beck – Excerpt


City of Uşak, interior Aegean region, Turkey

The Uşak rug bazaar was one of the largest in the country, with buyers coming from neighboring provinces to select the best, which they would sell internationally at greatly inflated prices. Before dawn, hundreds of sellers crossed the Lydian Cilandiras Bridge over the Banaz Stream, to compete for space in the bazaar and for the buyers’ attention. It was still dark, but soon the sun would rise, and the cacophony of hawkers’ voices, haggling traders, and playing children would turn the park-like grassland into a riotous circus of sound and color.

Halim watched his mother and grandmother unroll a pair of enormous rugs, their best. Pressure was on all of them to sell their wares early and then be off home. There was death about, a grotesque illness sweeping the countryside. The whispers hinted that the army had collected the bodies of the afflicted, and whole families, whole towns had been wiped out. The newspapers had urged people to stay indoors. A djinn, his grandmother had whispered knowingly. Other old women had picked up the word, and made the sign of the evil eye over their faces, so the devil would not see them this day.

Halim’s mother held his shoulders tight and stared into his face as she laid down the law to him: he was to stay close to her or his grandmother. Halim hummed and drew on the ground with a stick, watching his mother smooth the rug’s edges, and then work with a fine pick to adjust any thread that dared to lift its head above its brothers. He knew why she paid the rug such fussy attention – it took many months to weave, dye, and then dry, but a single sale could deliver enough money to keep the family comfortable for the next half-year.

Bored, Halim said he was going to have to pee, and headed off to the tree line. Once out of sight, he changed course and instead made for the bridge. His mother would scold him if she knew, and his father would more than likely thrash him for disobeying her. But this time of year, snakes, frogs, salamanders, and all sorts of wonderful creatures came out to bask in the day’s warmth. If he could catch one, it would keep him amused for the entire day.

He leaned over the side of the bridge, and waved at his dark reflection. He had the stream to himself, save for several large dragonflies, about a thousand chirruping crickets, and a few small birds warbling in the trees hanging over the water. There was a chill on the back of his neck – cold, but not unpleasant. Halim had collected a handful of stones, and now he dropped them one at a time into the cool swirling water, causing a few minnows to dart out of the reed banks to investigate, before vanishing in flashes of silver and green. He hummed tunelessly in the pre-dawn. He knew if they didn’t make a sale early, they would be there all day and long into the warm evening, before grandfather came with the truck to carry the three of them back home for a late supper. Until then, it was dry flatbread with pickle jam – luckily, he liked pickle jam.

As he watched the water, chin on his hand, the air misted and became cooler – like smoke lazily drifting across the stream surface to dull its sparkle. He looked skyward, expecting to see clouds pulling across the sky – which would be a tragedy for his mother, and all the rug sellers. Three hundred and sixty-four days a year they prayed for rain, but on the day the rugs were unfurled in all their brilliant dyed glory, they prayed for it to be dry. Today there were no clouds, just the same thin mist drifting in from the east. He squinted; it seemed thickest down the road, as if his grandfather’s truck was backing up, blowing exhaust fumes. But there was no truck, no noise, and even the birds and crickets had grown quiet.

Halim angled his head, his face creasing as he concentrated. In the center of the rolling mist, something was taking form, rising up, solidifying, a dark center appearing as if the cloud was denser at its core. The shape was tall, moving toward him, but gliding rather than walking. He grimaced, rooted to the spot. Something about the dark mass instilled dread in the pit of his stomach.

‘Hello?’ His voice was weak, betraying his nervousness. Speak like a man, his father would have said. Halim regretted wandering away from his mother and grandmother. He had the urge to turn and flee, and not stop until he was hugging his mother. But he couldn’t move.

The mist began to clear, and just as the form became a figure, something warned him to look away. He spun, crushed his eyes shut, and placed his hands over his face. He leaned far out over the bridge, holding his breath while he waited. He could feel it now, freezing cold on his back, every hair on his body standing erect, his skin prickly with goose bumps. There was no sound; it was like he had stuffed cotton in his ears, the air muffled and silent around him.

He couldn’t take it any longer and opened his eyes, looking down into the stream. He saw himself in the water, and looming up behind him, something so monstrous, so horrible and terrifying, that he immediately voided his bladder into his trousers. He felt bile in his throat and an explosion of pain behind his eyes. The warmth down his legs unlocked his stricken throat and he found his voice, screaming so long and loud he thought he would never stop.

He did, when consciousness left him.

When he awoke, his head hurt, and there was a needle-like pain behind both eyes. His senses slowly returned – he felt the sun hot on his face; he heard the stream slipping by underneath the bridge, crickets singing, dragonflies zooming about, their iridescent wings and green eyes like tiny jewels.

Halim had never owned a wristwatch, but the sun was well above the horizon – hours must have passed. His mother would skin him alive. He got to his feet, staggered a few steps, then began to run, back along the path, through the trees and into the bazaar. But instead of the swirling dust, riot of color, and noise of hundreds of people haggling, fighting or laughing, there was nothing. A silence so total, he had to rub his ear to make sure he hadn’t been struck deaf.

‘Mama? Nana?’

People everywhere, but all so still. Some were lying down, others were kneeling or sitting, many with hands thrown up trying to shield their faces. Halim saw that all were a ghastly white, even their eyes were the bleached blankness of dry sand.

He found the small square of ground marked out by the beautiful reds and blues of the rug dyes his family preferred. Mama was there, sitting crosslegged, one arm out, the other hand over her face. Nana was kneeling, tiny as always, her hand in front of her face, warding off the evil eye. It hadn’t worked.

‘Mama?’ He touched her – she was as hard as stone.

He nudged his grandmother, and she toppled over, her body remaining in its pose, stiff and unbending.

Halim crouched next to his mother and edged in under her outstretched arm. ‘I’m sorry, Mama. I fell asleep. I’m sorry, I’m sorry.’

His head ached terribly as he leaned against her, feeling the hardness under her clothes. The familiar feel and smell of her, of her warmth, perfume, and love, was gone. A tear rolled from his cheek, to splash onto her leg. It dried quickly on the stone.

 

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GORGON is available now where all good ebooks are sold



The White List by Nina D’Aleo – excerpt


Chapter 11 is watching you.  

Silver is an intelligence operative working for an agency that doesn’t officially exist—beyond any government and above the law. Chapter 11 is the kind of place a person can join but never leave. And it keeps a third of the world’s population under constant surveillance. At work. On the street. In their homes. 

Why? Because of Shaman syndrome. 

One in three people are born with Shaman syndrome, which endows them with abilities they cannot control and do not even know they have. It is Chapter 11’s responsibility to cap and surveil these walts—as they are known—to ensure their talents don’t turn ugly for the ordinary people around them.

After Silver’s partner, Dark, is seriously injured by a walt, Silver is driven to investigate. What starts as a routine investigation isn’t as clear-cut as it seems, especially when she discovers there’s a price on her head. 

Chapter 11 might be watching the world, but it can’t see the division in its own ranks. Someone wants the white list—the list of every known walt that Chapter 11 has capped—but for what purpose? Silver needs to find out the secret behind Shaman syndrome, before it’s too late. 

 

In rush-hour traffic, it took me a good hour to reach the destination. I parked under a streetlight and stepped out to look around. I’d ended up at an abandoned warehouse close to the waterfront shipping sector of the city. There weren’t any houses in sight. I checked the address on my phone and it appeared to match what I’d written down—but it didn’t even seem like the right suburb. Strange.

Night had now taken over from the light and heavy shadows stretched across the concrete square leading to the darkened warehouse. I shivered in the evening breeze. The air carried a tinge of smoke and the murmur of a storm. I stared at the warehouse. Smashed windows, graffiti marked, creepy and isolated—everything about the place said stay away. And I wasn’t about to argue. I started to get back into the car, but then thought maybe Dark had an old street directory in the trunk that I could check. So I went around and opened it up, rummaging through Dark’s duffle bag of tools. Footsteps sounded close by. I looked around the side of the car. A person, a woman, was approaching. I recognized her as the girl from the elevator at Dark’s apartment building.

“I’m sorry,” she said.

I stepped out from behind the car, not sure what she meant, confused at seeing her again, and by her saying but not sounding sorry.

She closed the distance between us fast and punched me in the face. A terrible debilitating pain crashed me to the ground and my eyesight blanked out then flashed back in. I rolled away as her boot rushed toward my head. I scrambled to my feet and grabbed for my gun. It was gone. The girl gave a nasty smile and opened her jacket. She was wearing my duty belt. I stared, shocked: how had she gotten it off me without my knowing? She took my gun out of the holster and held it up as if to say, Looking for this?

I struck fast, slamming my hand into her throat. She reeled and I bolted. There was only so long fists could hold up against bullets. Shots rang out and I lunged behind the side of the warehouse. The girl came after me, pulling on night-vision headgear as she ran. I crashed blindly beside the building, dragging my hand along the wall and stumbling over unseen rubble. I turned the corner into a lamp-lit area and saw a wall blocking my path. It was too tall to climb. I looked left and right searching for a way out and spotted an open window up about twice my height. I could hear the girl’s running steps closing in behind me.

I darted forward and grabbed a discarded cardboard box. I shoved it up against the side of the warehouse and climbed on. It collapsed, dumping me onto the ground. I swore and grabbed another box. I leaped up and reached for the window, grasping at the ledge. I stretched up, every part of my body straining. My fingertips closed over the windowsill. A hand darted down from the window and closed over my wrist. It wrenched me off my feet and dragged me upward.

 

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The White List by Nina D’Aleo is available now where all good ebooks are sold! Click here to purchase or find it at your preferred ebook retailer

 



Ten reasons to be excited for the new Godzilla movie


There’s a new Godzilla movie on the way, and I think everyone should be excited. It looks good, there are some very talented people involved, and we got so excited about Pacific Rim last year that we just have to talk about this movie.

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1. It’s directed by Gareth Edwards, whose giant monster game is strong. He directed the excellent independent sci-fi film Monsters in 2o10.

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2. Bryan Cranston is in it and he looks mad. Hoping he goes the full Heisenberg at some point.

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3. Godzilla looks like Godzilla and not some random lizard (I’m looking at you, 1997 Godzilla).

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4. There is at least one giant monster fight. Well, in the trailer there’s a moment where Ken Watanabe says, ‘Let them fight’. I assume he’s talking about giant monsters and not Bryan Cranston and Juliette Binoche.

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5. This shot of Godzilla roaring in the rain.

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6. The trailer uses the choral theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey so it gets automatic nerd bonus points.

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7. There hasn’t been any silly effort to keep the look of the monster secret, so we can all focus more on the epic level of destruction.

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8. It looks more like a disaster movie than an action movie with giants.

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9. The biggest Godzilla ever. Literally.

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10. Godzilla’s roar. Just listen to it!

Looking back on this list it’s apparent that most of my reasons for seeing this film are variations on ‘Godzilla roars’ but you must admit that it’s a compelling roar. In fact, this film could just be 90 minutes of Godzilla roaring in different environments and I’d probably still be satisfied.

 

If you’re in the mood for an awesome monster story, you should preorder Gorgon by Greig Beck. Available June 10 where all good ebooks are sold. An ancient evil has awoken….

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Cover Reveal: I, Morgana by Felicity Pulman


Evil sorceress, fairy, or goddess of Avalon?

After being schooled in magic by Merlin and promised a kingdom, Morgana is robbed of her birthright and betrayed by everyone she has ever trusted. Risking everything for revenge, Morgana uses her magical arts to trap Merlin, threaten her half-brother King Arthur, and turn away the only man she will ever love. In destroying King Arthur and Camelot, Morgana sets into motion a catastrophe that can only be reversed if she can learn from the past in time to protect our future … and so fulfill an ancient prophecy.

In the tradition of The Mists of Avalon comes a new story of Morgan La Fey, of one of the most enigmatic—and reviled—characters in Arthurian legend.

I, Morgana will be available from 24 June, 2014 where all good ebooks are sold

 

Pulman_FelicityAbout the author

Felicity Pulman is the award-winning author of numerous novels for children and teenagers, including Ghost Boy, the Shalott trilogy, The Janna Mysteries and A Ring Through Time.  I, Morgana is her first novel for adults, inspired by her early research into Arthurian legend and her journey to the UK and France to ‘walk in the footsteps of Arthur’ before writing the Shalott trilogy. Her interest in crime, fantasy and history (both Australian and European) inspires most of her novels – and often necessitates travelling for research purposes, which is something she loves to do.  She has many years experience talking about researching and writing her novels both in schools and to adults, as well as conducting creative writing workshops in a wide variety of genres. Felicity is married, with two children and five grandchildren, all of whom help to keep her young and techno-savvy – sort of! You can find out more about Felicity on her website and blog: www.felicitypulman.com.au or on Facebook.



Should I keep reading?

May 5, 2014 by

As avid readers, we’re often faced with the dilemma of what to do when life attempts to crash our reading time. Sometimes there are practical reasons to stop reading. Sometimes there are ethical reasons. And sometimes you should just keep reading.

1. Someone asks, “What are you reading?”

KEEP READING My significant other asked me this the other night. I tilted my book slightly so she could see the title on the cover but didn’t engage in conversation.

2. Someone sustains an injury

DEPENDS Look up, see if they’re ok. If they are, keep reading. If not, gauge the level of injury before putting your book down. Bruises = keep reading. Any blood = sigh and make a show of putting your book down, so they are aware of what an idiot they are. Broken bones = ok, stop.

3. Your phone rings

KEEP READING The sooner the caller learns to send a text like a normal person, the better. You’re giving them a valuable life lesson.

4. Someone offers you food

PUT THE BOOK DOWN Always go with the food. Bonus points if it’s free food.

5. You approach your destination

PUT THE BOOK DOWN I cannot tell you how many times I’ve missed my stop when I’ve been reading on public transport.

6. Someone invites you out to do something ‘fun’

KEEP READING Ok first of all, I’m reading and reading is delightful. And second, all the fun stuff happens indoors, everyone knows that.

7. Someone offers you a drink

DEPENDS Assess the caffeine/alcohol content first. If someone is interrupting your reading time to offer you water or juice or some other lame drink, don’t even look up.

8. There is something good on TV

KEEP READING That’s not a good reason to put your book down. Unless it’s Star Trek, then it depends. Keep reading if it’s the original series, Voyager or Enterprise. Put the book down for The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine.

9. Your significant other/parent/roommate will get angry if you don’t put your book down

KEEP READING Everyone knows the secret to successfully living with another person is to find something you do that annoys them and do it as often as you can.

10.  You’re about to be arrested

KEEP READING A dose of escapism is probably what you need right now.

 

 



Excerpt: The White List by Nina D’Aleo


Chapter 11 is watching you. 

Silver is an intelligence operative working for an agency that doesn’t officially exist—beyond any government and above the law. Chapter 11 is the kind of place a person can join but never leave. And it keeps a third of the world’s population under constant surveillance. At work. On the street. In their homes. 

Why? Because of Shaman syndrome. 

One in three people are born with Shaman syndrome, which endows them with abilities they cannot control and do not even know they have. It is Chapter 11’s responsibility to cap and surveil these walts—as they are known—to ensure their talents don’t turn ugly for the ordinary people around them. 

After Silver’s partner, Dark, is seriously injured by a walt, Silver is driven to investigate. What starts as a routine investigation isn’t as clear-cut as it seems, especially when she discovers there’s a price on her head. 

Chapter 11 might be watching the world, but it can’t see the division in its own ranks. Someone wants the white list—the list of every known walt that Chapter 11 has capped—but for what purpose? Silver needs to find out the secret behind Shaman syndrome, before it’s too late. 

Chapter 3

In this club, La Nox, the term exotic dancer didn’t quite cut it. Seriously I had to admire the athleticism of those girls. They were managing to maintain sexy while performing major feats of strength and acrobatics. They were flipping, jumping and kicking, dancing and sliding up and down poles that extended the full two stories of the club—all this while virtually nude. I had a mental flash of myself up on stage, out of breath and sweaty, mascara running and flab flying as I failed at cartwheels and fell into the crowd. Not a pretty sight. Maybe the imagery was overly self-critical. I did maintain a certain level of fitness—it was necessary for the job—but even so, the usual extent of my nude escapades involved dashing from the bedroom to the shower and back and I couldn’t imagine that changing any time soon.

Not surprisingly Dark knew exactly where he was going, so I trailed him through the club, which was crowded with patrons both male and female. I spotted the bachelor party, now one of many, settling into a corner booth. Dark and I took a position by the bar where we could keep them in sight and wait for our chance. A topless waitress came to take our drink order. She recognized Dark and spoke to him by name. They exchanged niceties and, to my partner’s credit, he looked her in the face the entire time—which was surprisingly more difficult than it sounds. In most human cultures, staring directly into someone’s eyes while talking, other than in intimate situations, comes across as threatening or strange. Our eyes naturally wander, especially to anything unusual—like a gigantic pair of double-Gs covered only in body glitter. She tried to strike up a chat with me as well, but I gave closed answers and kept my arms by my sides—my Italian parentage tended to make me talk with my hands, and the last thing I needed tonight was to accidentally grope some unsuspecting exotic waitress mid-conversation about the sunny weather we were having. She left and Dark glanced at me and snorted.

“What?” I asked.

“Could you be any more uptight?” he asked.

“We’re not on vacation here,” I told him defensively. “We are actually working.”

He shook his head and muttered, “Another arrest by the fun police.”

I gritted my teeth. I hated when he called me the fun police. It made me feel like he was some young springbuck cavorting through the fields of fun while I was the grumpy frumpy killjoy chasing him down with an oversized net, trying to foil all his good times. In reality, whatever Dark did with his time off was his business. Whether he felt as if we were married or not the fact remained we weren’t. I didn’t keep tabs on him and I didn’t try to curtail his fun. I could be fun and spontaneous too … At least I kept telling myself that and hoping it was true.

It was something I questioned, though: how did people see me? How did I want to be seen? How did I even see myself? Who was I? I’d heard that whoever we really are emerges when we’re all alone, unobserved. Well, when I was alone … I was usually asleep. It was the only chance I got. I wasn’t sure what that said about me, but now wasn’t really the time for self-reflection. Now we were working.

A group of lap dancers had surrounded our bachelor party. One girl stood gyrating in front of the walt. He was rocking, but not in time with the music or with the hypnotic circles of her hips. He was moved by an even more savage, primordial drive, one that was about to rip through his reasoning and send him green. The dancer would be the first one hit. I imagined pieces of sequined thong, silicone and lower intestine splattered across the walls and this time the imagery was not exaggerated.

“Bos, we’ve got to move now.” I said.

“No shit,” he muttered back. “I’ll try to get him to the bathroom,” I said.

“I don’t think there’s time,” Dark replied.

The walt staggered to his feet, knocking the dancer out of the way. Dark reached into his jacket and drew his primary weapon. If the walt lost it before we could get him, there would be no other choice but to put him down—not a concept that sat well with me. As a partnership, we’d never had a fatality before and that wasn’t pure luck. I put myself on the line every time to stop a shoot. The put-downs were murder—no matter how you dressed it up. Not that I had ever mentioned this conviction even to my partner, let alone any of our colleagues.

I moved past Dark, weaving a quick path through the crowd. I reached the walt and, with a glance to make sure none of his friends were looking, took hold of his wrist and directed him away from the dancers. He resisted, pulling back sharply. His otherwise handsome features twisted with anger and confusion. I tried to give him a reassuring smile and spoke close to his ear, “It’s okay, buddy. I know you’re not feeling great. Come with me, I’ll get you some help.”

I touched his hand lightly, slipping a sedation patch onto his skin. I noticed the spot from the laser sight of Dark’s weapon vibrating on the side of his head. I tried again to lead him away. This time, the sedative working fast in his system, he followed with minimal struggle. I took him down a crowded hall toward the women’s bathroom.

In most clubs on a busy night, the line to the ladies’ room would be a mile long, but here, with women guests the minority, it was inhabited by only two other girls. They were dressed in super short dresses and heavily inebriated. They were hugging each other and singing loudly into the mirror, using their tiny shiny purses as microphones. Their ankle-breaking high heels slipped around on the tiles. They cheered as we entered and both tried to high-five me on their way out, missing completely. One slapped my shoulder and the other lost her feet and fell over—legs in the air, flashing her underwear to the world. She lay where she’d fallen, paralyzed by hysterical fits of laughter. Her friend joined her on the floor and the two of them rolled around wetting themselves with the hilarity of it. The scene didn’t look quite so riotous from where I was standing, but I’d had my fair share of drunk and disorderly nights in my younger days so I really couldn’t judge.

I managed to shuffle the blitzed duo gently out of the bathroom and close the door on them. I moved the walt into a cubicle and sat him down on the toilet. I turned and locked the door, but as I turned back, it happened. He gasped. His pupils went from pinpoint to fully dilated in one second. All his muscles tightened. The veins in his neck bulged. I only had time to duck as he lunged at me, taking a swing that ripped the cubicle door off its hinges and sent it flying into the bathroom. It hit the mirror with so much force the glass exploded. I twisted and lunged backward, trying to get out of his way, but the walt caught me with an upper cut to the stomach. My ballistic vest absorbed the impact, but it still knocked the air out of me. I landed sprawled on the tiles and the walt rushed me. Completely disoriented by his condition, he misjudged the distance between us and smashed into the wall instead with a brutal whack that rattled my teeth and broke a row of tiles.

He reeled around, blood streaming down his face. He tried to charge again and toppled sideways, taking out a sink. It shattered to the floor and water gushed from the fractured pipes. I took the chance and leaped at him. I caught him around the middle and crash tackled him to the ground. I tried to pin him, but I may as well have been wrestling a rhinoceros. He flipped up with so much force we hit the ceiling and crashed back down to the tiles. His body mostly broke my fall, but then he was on me, his fingers clenched into claws, reaching for my neck. I went for my TRANQ gun.

The bathroom door flew open. Dark charged in with his weapon drawn and took aim at the walt. The young guy broke for the window, smashing through the glass and a good part of the wall. Dark and I both cursed and rushed for the damage. We looked out and saw the walt crashing down the fire escape. He found his balance and jumped from the structure down to the alleyway—a good twenty-five feet below. He landed on his feet running. We scrambled out onto the metal steps and flew down after him. We reached the alley and sprinted toward his fleeing shadow.

“No good,” Dark yelled out to me. “He’s heading for the road.”

We couldn’t allow the walt to cause a crash. Dark pulled up and dropped to one knee. He took aim at our walt’s back. I kept running, drawing my TRANQ and firing before he could get a round off. The dart struck dead on, into the back of the guy’s neck. He ran at least another two yards with enough sedative in him to drop an elephant, and then the effects hit him and he stopped. He didn’t fall, which would have been normal: he just froze. We ran the distance and as soon as we got to him, Dark threw the stocks around the walt’s arms and locked him down. We were literally five steps from the end of the alley, where pavement met a busy inner-city road. A constant stream of headlights passed before us. Our walt was shaking.

Tears shimmered on his cheeks. He looked young and scared, confused. He was struggling to whisper, his lips reluctant to move, “I’m sorry. I want to go home. Where’s Mom? Where’s Dad?” Then he bucked back and shouted. “Fuck off!”

Dark fought to hold him. I ripped a syringe off my duty belt and pumped another dose of paralytic into the guy’s neck. His eyes rolled back and his head hit his chest.

Dark and I exchanged a glance. This one was a real fighter. He stumbled to one side and we struggled to right him. His wallet tumbled out onto the ground. I crouched to pick it up, while Dark started walking the walt back down the alley. A honking horn drew my attention and I glanced up. Across the street, I saw the silhouette of a man in black standing, watching. I couldn’t see if his eyes were on me or not, but somehow I felt they were. A bus crossed in front of my line of sight and when it passed the person was gone. I dismissed him as a random passer-by.

“Sil,” Dark called for me from halfway down the alley. I shoved the walt’s wallet into my pocket and rushed to catch up. Dark was already on his cell phone calling in the catch and ordering a clean-up crew for the bathroom and a tech to check for CCTV footage. For sure Chapter 11 surveillance would have recorded the catch—including my use of the TRANQ, which was, as I well knew, against Chapter policy. Since every person is different we couldn’t be sure of the exact amount of drug needed to bring down any one individual, so we couldn’t be sure that one hit would be enough and that wasn’t good enough as far as the Chapter were concerned: regulations were to go straight to lethal force. Even so I’d always preferred to answer to my superiors than to my conscience.

“I’ll lay the cover for the friends,” I told Dark as reached the parking lot.

“No, you take him. I know who to ask,” he said. He handed over the shackled man and flipped me his keys. I headed for the car while he jogged back up to the entrance of the club. We needed to get someone to tell the friends the cover story—that our walt had decided to call it a day and had caught a cab home to sleep it off. I assumed Dark would ask one of the girls he knew in there to pass on the message. I looked around for witnesses to refute the story, but there were only a few knots of people up near the entrance of the club and no one was looking. The clean-up crew would double-check that.

I reached Dark’s car and directed the walt into the caged-off back seat.

“Watch your head, buddy,” I said, helping him to lower in. I locked the door and went around to the passenger side. The adrenalin was draining fast from my body, leaving my limbs weak and heavy. It hadn’t exactly been a flawless catch, but the job was done. Zero fatalities.

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 The White List by Nina D’Aleo is available from May 13 where all good ebooks are sold and is available for preorder now



Who will be good and who will be bad in the Star Wars: Episode VII cast


The cast has been announced for Star Wars: Episode VII and, whether you’re looking forward to it or not, it’s something worth looking at. Most people assumed that the announcement would be held off until May 4th (international Star Wars day) but the news was already leaking like crazy.

There are only a couple of surprises in the announcement, with rumours about Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac and the original cast proving to be true.

Many commentators have already pointed out that there’s a disappointing lack of female characters (only one new addition aside from Carrie Fisher), and the lack of racial diversity (only one person of colour). There’s also a disturbing lack of Lando Calrissian. But these are the major characters, so it’s conceivable that there are more actors in the supporting cast that haven’t been revealed yet.

Given the recent announcement that the new Star Wars films would not be beholden to the Expanded Universe in any way, who the cast are playing is completely unknown. A fairly safe bet is that at least some of the younger cast members will be playing the children of the older characters, since the characters in the first two trilogies were different generations of the same family.

It’s also possible that they’re going for the ‘2 guys and a girl’ dynamic that was established with the protagonists from the previous trilogies (Anakin/Obi-Wan/Padme and Luke/Han/Leia). If so, then who will be the new protagonists? Adam Driver has long been linked to this project and has been mentioned as a villain more often than not, so let’s count him out. I think it’s safe to assume that Daisy Ridley will be part of the dynamic, which leaves John Boyega, Oscar Isaac and Domhnall Gleeson as contenders for the two male leads.

John Boyega is an actor who is on the rise, with acclaimed performances in several films already. A leading role in the new Star Wars would be perfectly timed career-wise, and it would also be nice to see a person of colour as a lead in Episode VII. So that leaves Oscar Isaac and Domhnall Gleeson. Isaac recently was the lead in the Coen brothers’ latest film, and was a villain in Ridley Scott’s awful Robin Hood movie, while Domhnall Gleeson was the lead in the romantic comedy About Time, and popped up as a Weasley brother in the final Harry Potter movies. It’s hard to tell at this stage, but maybe Domhnall Gleeson makes more sense in light of J.J. Abrams’ expressed desire to take relative unknowns and make them stars.

But how does the original cast factor in? There have been reports that the original screenplay for Episode VII had them playing supporting roles only, but that the script was rewritten to make them central for at least Episode VII. How that plays out, and how it impacts the establishment of new character dynamics could prove to be the weak point of this film.

Surprise additions are Max von Sydow and Andy Serkis, who hadn’t been linked to the project before. Serkis will no doubt be playing some kind of creature via motion capture (this is a $200 million sci-fi movie so there HAS to be a mo-cap character). And I’m going to assume von Sydow is a bad guy.

Here are my assumptions, let’s all watch how wrong I wind up being!

Good guys

Original cast, John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Domhnall Gleeson

Bad guys

Max von Sydow, Adam Driver

Unknown

Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis

 

 

 



Podmentum: Scary Books, Game of Thrones and Romance Edition


This week we talk about the books that have scared us and what makes them scary. We also discuss the return of Game of Thrones, the under-representation of romance at writers’ festivals and discuss the books we’ve been reading this week.

What we’re reading

Craig

Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm by Philip Pullman

Joel

SCP Foundation website

Patrick

Dark Palace by Frank Moorhouse

Mark

Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis

 

 



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