review

The Lady of the Bog: Brilliant Mystery

Huge thanks to Elaine White, of Divine Magazine, for an amazing review of The Lady of the Bog. 

“There is so much about the story I can’t say, because it would spoil the twists and turns of the plot, but I can say this – it’s well paced, brilliantly plotted, and every little piece of cleverly woven together. I loved the way Florence’s father reacted to Pip’s reputation, Mr Temple’s ideas to give women education and independence – but not too much! – was ridiculous and genius. The handwriting experiment was both ingenius and dangerous, and the concept of the bog lady hit home with this archaeological student, who has always held a soft spot for the brave and courageous Boudica.”

For the complete review–and more of Elaine’s work–check it out on Divine Magazine here. 

Empowering gaslamp fantasy that confounds expectations

Gillian St. Kevern

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Life After Humanity at Joyfully Jay.

I’ve been in survival mode lately, trying to keep up with my various commitments while also taking care of myself in some challenging circumstances! So it was really lovely to come online to this review of Life After Humanity today! Huge thanks to Kirsty and the rest of the team at Joyfully Jay.

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Life After Humanity Reviewed at Joyfully Jay.

Whereas Thorns and Fangs was told entirely in third-person from Nate’s viewpoint and Uprooted from Ben’s, St. Kevern chooses to alternate their narratives in Life After Humanity. For me, this brought something extra to the story telling. This is because the input of both protagonists is essential to the development of the plot of Life After Humanity and not only because the story is so intense. Both Ben and Nate are attempting to come to terms with their new identities and for them, the revelations are not over. Although they have reached an agreement that they need to go it alone, they actually find their strength in one another. The reader also needs both narratives because there is so much happening to Ben and Nate separately that we would otherwise miss, like Nate’s relationship with the stray dog and Ben’s ARX assessment.

Cats Have Staff: A.L. Anderson

My friend M. Caspian shared her cute fluff penname this week, revealing she occasionally writes ‘sugary-sweet M/M romance with HEAs all round‘ (she also reviews notebooks and introduced me to Little & Fridays so I totally endorse following her). I feel like I deserved a treat for getting Dead Wrong submitted by my deadline, and figured a sugary-sweet fic was better for me than eating half a packet of gingernuts. When I saw Cats Have Staff I knew this was the story for me.

Cats Have Staff is short, sweet, uncomplicated but still had me ridiculously invested in Sal and Golightly. In short, it was exactly what I needed tonight, and I thoroughly recommend it for cat-people or people trying to reduce their gingernut intake.

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Salvatore Moretti has spent the last three years alone, ever since his lover Benjamin Cresswell left town for the job opportunity of a lifetime. Sal knew he couldn’t hold Ben back, and instead he’s been focused on creating a solid life for himself. A good life. He doesn’t need more than that . . . does he?

This is a short story of 14,893 words.

Cats Have Staff on Amazon.

Rainbow Gold Reviews Trans Aware Event

I spent most of August chasing my tail (RWNZ conferences will do that to you). Now that I’ve got some time to catch up, I wanted to point you towards the Rainbow Gold Reviews blog. In response to President Trump’s actions, they decided to host a week long event highlighting trans authors and books with trans characters. They got such an overwhelming response the event extended into two weeks—two weeks of guest posts, interviews, book reviews and giveaways. Sadly, I’ve left this too long for the giveaways I’m sure, but I highly recommend checking out the event.

I’ve already highlighted Elliot Cooper’s contribution, but there are some very cool contributions. I love the honesty of Jenn Polish’s Transition on Trains: On Being a Non-binary Author,  and in Victor Alexander’s interview. I’m in there too. Gatsby, a side character in The Wing Commander’s Curse, happens to be trans—and happens to be serving in the military. Timely! Honestly though, I think I gained more than I gave. Reading the guest posts and interviews challenged me. I’m in awe of the honesty and courage of these very talented authors.

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In order of posts, earliest through latest:

J.S. Fields: Interview.

Angel Martinez: Guest Post

L.A. Witt: Having her Back. Book Review by Dana.

Jeff Adams: The Inspiration behind Hat trick Book 3: Penalty Shot.

Francis Gideon: A Winter in Rome. Book Review by Eloreen.

Jay Northcote: Interview and Starting From Scratch: Book Review by Bethany.

Aidan Wayne: Grounded. Book Review by Wendy.

Missy Welsh: Why I Wrote a Romance Featuring a Transman.

Joe Cosentino: Books of Inclusion.

Gillian St. Kevern: Interview

Christopher Hawthorne Moss: A Fine Bromance. Book Review by Dana.

Jenn Polish: Transition on Trains.

Elliot Cooper: Are Your Books Trans Enough?

Julie Aitchenson: Guest Post.

G.R. Lyons: Life in Transition.

Allan Hunter: Identifying as Genderqueer rather than Transgender

Fifi Frost: Trans-trap. Book Review by Wendy

Anna Martin: Guest Post. The Impossible Boy: Book Review by Bethany.

Francis Gideon: Hopeless Romantic. Book Review by Dana 

Victor Alexander: Interview

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Release Day Review: Junk Mage by Elliot Cooper!

 

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July the 4th (look, it is the 4th in Japan, okay?) is a very apt launch date for Junk Mage! It is an explosive read, with a bit of tumult, some fireworks–and a scared pet. Not a cat this time, but a Narl, a very unpleasant sounding inhabitant of the planet Marutak–but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Junk Mage is the latest novelette by Elliot Cooper. I’ve been anticipating it ever since my last interview with Elliot. I thoroughly enjoyed The Clockwork Menagerie–Elliot’s deft characterisation and his ability to tell a strong, compelling story in a short space of words really impressed me, so I was eager to see his take on sci-fi. I was not disappointed!

JunkMage-f500We are introduced to Quill immediately. He is an irreverent technomancer in a lot of trouble. Crash-landed on a hostile planet without the supplies necessary to fix his ship, and no one coming to his rescue, Quill is racing against time to keep his teaching position. This original addition to a sci-fi story was emblematic of what was to come. Elliot’s originality and enthusiastic energy is what propels the Junk Mage forward. The Narls were skin-crawling yet fascinating, Hunter a delightful puzzle, while Turo, the antagonist of the story, stole the show for me. I loved technomancy and Elliot’s take on cyborgs. The universe is fun and I thoroughly recommend it for anyone wanting a fun sci-fi romp!

For people wanting a more romantic story, I’d recommend The Clockwork Menagerie  instead! In Junk Mage, I feel like the succinctness of the story works against the romantic developments between Hunter and Quill. I liked both characters, and they each had nice moments–A technomancer who makes time to call his parents even when marooned on a hostile planet? I loved that–but I felt that they needed more time to develop. This may, of course, be my greediness for more of Elliot’s writing talking! I rate Junk Mage a thoroughly enjoyable 4 stars out of 5, and look forward to whatever Elliot brings us next!

Thanks to NineStar Press who provided me with an advance copy of Junk Mage in return for an honest review!


 

Junk Mage Blurb

When technomancer Quillian Defote crash-lands on remote planet Marutuk, he has limited time to repair his ship and get off world. If he fails, he’ll forfeit his position as professor of mechanical transmutation at the prestigious Ivy Arcanarium and ruin his employment prospects in yet another sector.

Hunter, a cyborg guarding a junkyard that holds what Quill needs, is charmed by the wayward mage and wants to help him. But Hunter is bound by honor to dutifully guard his mistress and her possessions, no matter how cruelly she treats him.

Together Quill and Hunter stand a chance of starting a new life together if carnivorous wildlife, a violent necromancer, and stubborn pride don’t keep them apart.

Junk Mage available from NineStar Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | ARE | Goodreads


elliotcooper2015Author Bio

Elliot Cooper is a creativity addict who enjoys writing stories that embody adventure, a hint of the taboo, and shadows that are deeper than they appear at first glance. He also enjoys video games and knitting, and lives in the southern US with his human and feline family.

website | twitter 


Excerpt

Elliot Cooper © 2016

All Rights Reserved

I fiddled with the controls on my binocular goggles, one of my own handy creations, and panned the tree line beyond the open, greeneryilled expanse stretching out on the other side of the road. Nothing caught my eye, even at higher magnification. I went left, following the road, jetbike blowing dirt and gravel up into a chalky cloud behind me.

The road curved around a section of deep, dark forest, and I saw my savior. Like a beacon of rusting hope, the hulking bodies of old ships, bikes, boats, and wheeled vehicles hunkered in a huge, fencedff ring at the end of the road.

It was the most beautiful pile of junk I’d ever seen.

A lone figure moved among the wreckage, and I knew I had no time to lose. If I played this right, I could cut a deal, get some parts to work with, and be back to old Lemon before sunset. The bug-eyed critters liked to ease out of the forests, slow and sloth-like, as soon as the light began to fade. No way did I want to figure out why they made those creepy chittering, gnashing noises all night.

I parked my bike and hopped off near the gate, flipping my goggles up and wiping my forehead with my sleeve as I went. It was never a good idea to sneak up on someone who was openly armed, and I definitely wanted the guy’s full attention. I waved in greeting and smiled with all the warmth and excitement I could muster.

“Hey! Hi! You there! With the gun!”

He marched over—huge, bald, and muscled—the brown coveralls tied at his waist and his tight tank top leaving very little to the imagination. It looked like he’d been given hand-me-downs from a scrawnier brother.

“State your business,” he demanded in a rich voice, his rifle in sight but lowered. Half of the hand beside the trigger was polished silver metal.

“I’m interested in buying some parts. Are you the owner?” His expression turned quizzical. Armed guard, then.  “D’you guys take universal credits? Please say you take them.” I didn’t have anything else. I hadn’t intended to take a side trip to a backwater thieves’ den that didn’t even seem to have any thieves in it. But here was captain beefcake, potential business partner, hero, and temporary social life. If he didn’t shoot me.

“Nothing’s for sale. Move along.” He gestured with his gun.

“I can’t interest you in a barter? Something?”

He stood there like a human wall. He didn’t even blink.

“Go away.”

“Look, I crashed on the beach. I just want to get what I need and… well, go away. From this whole weird planet. But to do that, I need some parts. Please.”

“In ten seconds, if you’re still standing there, I’ll shoot.” The cyborg raised his rifle and peered down the sight.

I wondered if he had bionic eyes, too. I wondered if the fence was electrified. I wondered what I could say to change his mind. Whatever it was, it’d take more than ten seconds to work out.

My hands up defensively, I motioned—thoughts working the gun’s barrel up at a ninety-degree angle with a loud creak. The cyborg jerked his head up and stared at the gun, then at me.

“I’m sure we can work out a deal, mister,” I said and put on another of my charming smiles. It usually worked, but this guy was a tough nut to crack. “You have to need something. Everybody needs something or other.”

“Another junk mage.” His brows furrowed over his deep set eyes. It wasn’t a good look for him. His face went impassive again as he tossed his rifle aside and reached behind his back with one hand. There had to be a pistol or some other weapon tucked into his coveralls, but he was smart enough to know if I couldn’t see it, I couldn’t easily ruin it.

“Huh. I’ve never been called that before,” I told him, even though he’d been talking to himself. Maybe that’d get Ry to crack a smile on our next call. Quillian Defote: junk mage extraordinaire. “Is your boss a technomancer? Can I talk to them? Mage to mage?”

“She doesn’t like strangers I don’t shoot.”

Junk Mage available from NineStar Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | ARE | Goodreads

Check out Ninestar’s events calendar for information on additional blog stops for Junk Mage and other upcoming releases!