Sunday 31 May 2020


Title: Forsaken
Series: Legion
Author: A.D. Starrling
Genre: Adult, Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 28th May 2020

BLURB supplied by Xpresso Book Tours
They thought they knew who the enemy was…
When the Vatican extends an official invitation to Artemus and his allies to visit Rome, Artemus is wary of their intentions. Especially since the demon inside Drake has turned out to be one of Hell’s strongest princes, while Otis’s newly awakened powers means he is their most powerful tool against Hell’s army. Heading for Rome despite his misgivings, their arrival precipitates a series of attacks that soon has them questioning everyone around them.
Daniel Lenton is a shadow. Afflicted by a disease that weakened him as a child, the priest has dedicated his life to the church and wants nothing to do with Artemus and his friends. Not when such an association would risk exposing the lie he wants to keep buried. But when an ambush rouses Daniel’s beast to defend him against a monster, he is left with little choice but to embrace who he was born to be.
After the precious cargo they are hired to protect is attacked by demons, Serena and Nate are convinced that Ba’al is after something hidden among the artifacts bound for an exhibition in Rome. The last thing the super soldiers expect when they arrive in the city is to come face to face with their past.
As a new and formidable foe grows closer, Artemus and his allies must decipher the mysteries that await them in Rome, help a guardian find his key, and uncover the location of the next gate to Hell, all before Ba’al destroys the Holy See.

The woman crouched over the child, her body taking the brunt of the blows raining down on them. The punches and kicks came erratically, the man delivering them so inebriated he could barely stand. Still, the attack was as savage as it would have been had he been sober.
“Get off him!” the man roared where he towered above them. His spit pelted the woman’s nape, so hot she could barely distinguish it from the blood flowing out of the fresh cut on her scalp. “Let me see the ugly freak!”
That’s going to need stitches for sure.
She whimpered as the steel cap of his boot connected with her side, denting her flesh with enough force to leave an imprint. Pain exploded inside her chest. She gasped and bit her lip.
She’d suffered enough broken bones to know that he’d just shattered one of her ribs.
The boy let out a low sob. It was the first sound he’d made since her husband had flown into a rage and started beating them, his anger fueled by the cheap booze he’d been drinking all afternoon in their tiny, one-bedroom apartment. Despite the illness that had rendered his body weak, the boy clung ferociously to her with his tiny hands, his tears soaking into her grimy shirt; she had just returned from a grueling shift on the assembly line at the factory and had not had time to change out of her work clothes.
Even though her husband was making enough noise to raise the dead, the woman knew no help would come. Not a single person in their drab and lifeless, red-brick housing block would raise a finger to stop the monster who was currently striking her and her nephew.
“Mama,” the boy hiccupped softly.
The man froze for a moment. The woman waited breathlessly, wondering if the sound had somehow finally brought him to his senses.
The blow came from nowhere and sent stars flashing before her eyes. She slumped to the floor, body limp and skull ringing. The object her husband had used to strike her landed with a thump by her head.
It was her Bible. The one she read every night to the boy.
She should have known that the endearment would just infuriate her husband more. He hated that the boy called her mother. Not just because he considered the child a cripple and an embarrassment, but also because she had never been able to bear him his own child.
A hand grabbed the back of her shirt, coarse fingertips digging into the fresh bruises on her body. She was yanked off the boy and cast violently to the side. A choked grunt left her as she struck the edge of a sideboard. The meagre porcelain dinner set she had received as part of her dowry rattled on the shelves inside the cabinet.
The boy curled up into a ball on the kitchen floor, his small frame dwarfed by the monster who loomed over him. The man clutched a handful of his dark hair and started dragging him across the floor.
The boy reached out to her, his crying face and desperate eyes blurring in and out of her sight.
A scream left his lips for the first time. “Mama! Mama! Help me!”
Fear gripped the woman when she saw where her husband was heading.
She rolled awkwardly onto her front and tried to push up onto her hands and knees. Her arms and legs trembled. They gave way. Once. Twice.
The woman slammed her palms weakly on the linoleum floor, her tears falling in a hot, steady flow. She sobbed and cursed the frailty of her female body and the cruel fate that had ever seen her cross paths with the monster she had married.
The roar of water reached her ears. Her heart lurched painfully in her chest.
He was going to drown the boy. Just like he had drowned the puppy the child had rescued a few weeks ago. 
The face of her late sister swam before the woman’s eyes. She’d promised Magda that she would look after her son. 
A loud splash came from the bathroom. The boy’s screams were abruptly cut off. 
The woman pushed up once more. This time, her body obeyed her will.
The room spun dizzyingly around her as she staggered to her feet. She clutched the sideboard and closed her eyes briefly. Then she was moving, her fingers finding a carving knife in the wooden block by the sink.
Her husband had his back to her when she entered the bathroom. He was on his knees by the tiny copper tub in the corner, his arms elbow deep in the water.
The boy’s legs kicked weakly through the surface as he fought to free himself from the monstrous hold around his neck, his shape a blur.
The woman rushed across the room with an animal noise and sank the knife into the man’s back all the way to the hilt, right between his shoulder blades. The sound it made as it carved through flesh and bone made her gag.
A low grunt left the man. He grew deathly still before twisting and glaring at her, his face a vicious mask. His pupils flashed yellow for an instant.
The woman froze, terror locking her mind and limbs rigid.
Something else was looking at her out of her husband’s body.  He turned back to his task as if she weren’t even there.
The woman blinked. Awareness returned. She snarled and started pummeling his body with her fists. The monster did not so much as budge.
The turbulence in the water started to abate. The boy finally became motionless at the bottom of the tub.
The woman sank to her knees and started to sob, despair a living entity that choked her very breath. “God, please help us! Help this child! He has suffered so much already!”
A low cackle reached her. It was coming from her husband. The inhuman laughter echoed around the bathroom, an evil sound that frayed her nerves and made her stomach roil.
Your God will not help him,” he growled in a voice she did not recognize.
He let go of the dead boy and climbed to his feet before turning to face her, water dripping down his arms and a sickening smile splitting his mouth.
The woman gasped, hands moving automatically to make the sign of the cross.
The monster advanced toward her, his grin growing impossibly wide. The whites of his eyes shifted to obsidian. His hand, when he grabbed her neck, was no longer human, his fingers and nails having lengthened to razor-sharp talons that scraped across her skin.
Blood pounded thickly in the woman’s ears as she stared blindly into the face of the demon. She knew she would be dead in the next few seconds. She cast a final prayer to Heaven and closed her eyes.
Forgive me, Magda.
A voice came then. One neither she nor the creature who was slowly strangling her to death had expected.
“Let her go!”
The woman’s eyes snapped open. She gasped, the sound a wheeze.
The demon paused, his deadly grip stopping shy of crushing her windpipe. He looked over his shoulder.
The woman’s eyes widened.
The boy stood in the middle of the copper tub. Steam was curling up from his skin and hair. His wet clothes were already half dry. But it was his face and hands that captured her shocked gaze and the attention of the demon.
Fire danced on the boy’s fingertips and blazed from his eyes. The air around him trembled and shimmered, as if struck by an intense heat. A faint aura of flames flickered into life around his body as he climbed out of the tub.
Dark scorch marks stained the marble tiles under his feet as he came toward them. Some cracked, the limestone warping and bubbling as the blaze licked them.
The demon released her and turned to face the boy.
Run!” the woman yelled, her voice hoarse.
The boy glanced at her.
The demon moved.
What happened next was something the woman never recounted to another living soul and took to her grave when she passed away years later in prison.
The demon swung lethal talons at the boy. The boy blocked the strike with one hand. Fire raced from his fingers and engulfed the demon. First the arm. Then the chest. Then the entire body of the creature was swallowed up by the flames.
As the thing that had once been her husband shrieked and dropped to the floor, skin and flesh blackening while he writhed helplessly, the woman realized that the monsters she had read about in her Bible walked this mortal realm.
A hush fell across the apartment when the demon exhaled his last breath, his corpse a dark husk that was barely recognizable where he lay curled up on the floor.
The boy blinked. The fire went out of his eyes and faded from his fingertips.  He looked utterly lost and forlorn swaying where he stood, the weakness in his limbs evident once more.
The woman caught him before he collapsed to the floor.
“Mama!” The boy gazed at her beseechingly, fat tears rolling down his pale cheeks. “I didn’t mean to kill him! I didn’t!
The woman tightened her hold on the boy. “It’s okay, Judah. It’s okay, my little kokhana.” She took a shaky breath, her mind clearer than it had been in years. “Now, here’s what we’re going to do.”
The boy protested when he heard what she said next. In the end, she made him promise on his mother’s grave that he would do as he was told.
And so, when the police finally came, the boy stayed quiet. And as she was led away in handcuffs and the neighbors gathered in the corridors of the building and mumbled about what a terrible man her husband had been and how he had deserved what had happened to him, the boy kept his word and remained silent.
“I love you, Judah,” the woman called out as she was pushed roughly into the back of a police car. “Remember that.”
“I love you, Mama,” the little boy whispered where he stood in the entrance of the housing block, a policeman holding his hand.
That was the last the woman saw of him.

AD Starrling's bestselling supernatural thriller series Seventeen combines action, suspense, and a heavy dose of the paranormal to make each book an explosive, adrenaline-fueled ride. Her spin-off urban fantasy series Legion has been compared to Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files. If you prefer your action hot and your heroes sexy and strong-willed, then check out her romantic military thriller series Division Eight.

When she's not busy writing, AD can be found eating Thai food, being tortured by her back therapists, drooling over gadgets, working part-time as a doctor on a Neonatal Intensive Care unit somewhere in the UK, reading manga, and watching action flicks and anime. She has occasionally been accused of committing art with a charcoal stick and some drawing paper.

Here are some other places where you can connect with her:

Saturday 30 May 2020


Title: Out Now: Queer We Go
Edited by: Saundra Mitchell
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Genre: YA, LGBT, Romance
Release Date: 26th May 2020

BLURB supplied by Harlequin Trade
A follow-up to the critically acclaimed All Out anthology, Out Now features seventeen new short stories from amazing queer YA authors. Vampires crash prom…aliens run from the government…a president’s daughter comes into her own…a true romantic tries to soften the heart of a cynical social media influencer…a selkie and the sea call out to a lost soul. Teapots and barbershops…skateboards and VW vans…Street Fighter and Ares’s sword: Out Now has a story for every reader and surprises with each turn of the page!

This essential and beautifully written modern-day collection features an intersectional and inclusive slate of authors and stories.


Saundra Mitchell has been a phone psychic, a car salesperson, a denture deliverer and a layout waxer. She's dodged trains, endured basic training and hitchhiked from Montana to California. She teaches herself languages, raises children and makes paper for fun. She is the author of Shadowed Summer and The Vespertine series, the upcoming novelization of The Prom musical, and the editor of Defy the Dark. She always picks truth; dare is too easy. Visit her online at

Twitter: @saundramitchell
Instagram: @smitchellbooks

By Candice Montgomery .

Every day, same time, same place, she appears and doesn’t say a word.

Well, she doesn’t just appear. She takes a bus. You know she takes a bus because you see her get off the bus right in front of 56th Street, just in front of the park where you skate.

You know she takes a bus and gets off right in front of the park at 56th Street because you are always at the park, wait-ing to catch a glance of her.

She—her appearance—is a constant. Unlike your sexuality, all bendy like the way your bones got after yesterday’s failed backside carve.

Bisexualpansexualdemisexualpanromanticenby all bleeding bleeding-bleeding…into one another.

That drum of an organ inside your chest tells you to just be patient. But now, here you are and there she is and you can’t help yourself.

She’s beautiful.

And so far out of your league.

You’re not even sure what she does here every day, but you probably shouldn’t continue to watch her while trying to nail a Caballerial for the first time. Losing focus there is the kind of thing that lends itself to unforgiving injuries, like that time you broke your leg in six places on the half-pipe or the time you bit clean through your bottom lip trying to take down a 360 Pop Shove It.

You’re still tasting blood to this very day. So’s your skate-board. That one got split clean in half.

She looks up at you from underneath light brown lashes that seem too long to be real. She reminds you of a Heelflip. You don’t know her well but you imagine that, at first, she’s a pretty complicated girl, before you get good enough to really know her. You assume this just given the way her hair hangs down her back in a thick, beachy plait, the way yours never could.

Not since you chopped it all off.

That’s not a look for a lady, your mom says repeatedly. But you’ve never been very femme and a few extra inches of hair plus that pink dress Mom bought you won’t change that.

You hate that dress. That dress makes you look like fondant. Someone nails a Laserflip right near where you’re standing and almost wipes out.

Stop staring. You could just go introduce yourself to her.

But what would you say?

Hi, I’m Dustyn and I really want to kiss you but I’m so confused about who I am and how am I supposed to introduce myself to you if I can’t even get my label right, oh, and also, you make me forget my own name.

And in a perfect world, she would make eyes at you. She’d make those eyes at you and melt your entire fucking world in the way only girls ever can.

Hi, Dustyn, I’m in love with you. Eyelashes. All batting eye-lashes.

No. No, the conversation probably wouldn’t go that way. Be nice if it did though. Be nice if anything at all could go your way when it comes to romance.

You push into a 360 ollie while riding fakie and biff it so bad, you wish you possessed whatever brain cells are the ones that tell you when to quit.

If that conversation did go your way, on a realistic scale, she’d watch you right back. You would nail that Caballerial.

Take a break. Breathe. Breathe breathe breathe. Try some-thing else for a sec.

Varial Heelflip. Wipe out.

Inward Heelflip. Gnarly spill.

Backside 180 Heelflip. Game, set, match—you’re finished. That third fail happens right in front of her and you play it off cool. Get up. Don’t even give a second thought to your battle wounds. You’re at the skate park on 56th Street because there’s more to get into. Which means, you’re not the only idiot limping with a little drug called determination giving
you momentum.

Falling is the point. Failing is the point. Getting better and changing your game as a skater is the point. Change.

But what if things were on your side? What if you’d stuck with that first label? What if Bisexual felt like a good fit and never changed?

Well, then you’d probably be landing all these 180s.

If bisexual just fit, you’d probably have been able to hold on to your spot in that Walk-In Closet. But it doesn’t fit. It doesn’t fit which kind of sucks because at Thanksgiving din-ner two years ago, your cousin Damita just had to open her big mouth and tell the family you “mess with girls.” Just had to tell the family, a forkful of homemade mac and cheese headed into said mouth, that you are “half a gay.”

That went over well. Grams wouldn’t let you sit on her plastic-lined couches for the rest of the night. Your great-uncle Damian told her gay is contagious. She took it to heart.

No offense, baby. Can’t have all that on my good couches. You glance up and across the park, memories knocking

things through your head like a good stiff wind, and you find her taking a seat.


Oh, she never does this. She never gets comfortable. She’s changing things up. You’re not the only one.

Maybe she plans to stay a while.

You love that she’s changing things up. You think it feels like a sign. It’s like she’s riding Goofy-Foot today. Riding with her right foot as dominant.

The first time you changed things up that way, you ended up behind the bleachers, teeth checking with a trans boy named Aaron. It felt so right that you needed to give it a name.

Google called it pansexual. That one stuck. You didn’t bother to explain that one to the family, though. They were just starting to learn bisexual didn’t mean you were gay for only half the year.

You pop your board and give the Caballerial another go.

It does not want you. You don’t stick this one either.

If pansexual had stuck, you’d introduce yourself to the beautiful girl with a smaller apology on your tongue. Hi, I’m Dustyn, I’ve only changed my label the one time, just slightly, but I’m still me and I’d really love to take you out.

And the beautiful girl would glance at your scraped elbows and the bruised-up skin showing through the knee holes in your ripped black skinny jeans. She’d see you and say, Hi, small, slight changes are my favorite. And then she’d lace her bubble-gum-nail-polished hand with yours.

But you changed your label after that, too. It was fine for a while. Your best friend, Hollis, talked you through the symp-toms of demisexuality.

No wonder holding the beautiful girl’s hand seems so much more heart-palpitating than anything else. A handhold. So simple. Just like an ollie.

You take a fast running start, throwing your board down, and end up on a vert skate, all empty bowl-shaped pools that are so smooth, your wheels only make a small whisper against them.

A whisper is what you got that first time you realized sex was not for you. Not with just anyone. This was…mmm, probably your biggest revelation.

It was like you’d been feeding your body Big Macs three times a day and suddenly—a vegetable!

Tic-tacking is when you use your entire body to turn the board from one side to the other. It’s a game of lower body strength, but also a game of knowing your weight and know-ing your board. You are not a tic-tac kind of girl.

You are not a girl at all. You are just…you.


That one’s sticking forever. You know it all the way through to your gut.

You make one more attempt, which probably isn’t super wise because you are so close to the spot where she’s sitting that not only will she see you bite the dust, but she’ll hear that nasty grunt you make when you meet the ground.

You coast by.

The friction vibrates up through your bearings and you know you’re going too fast because you start to feel a little bit of a speed-wobble, that lovely, untimely, oscillatory behavior that means bro, you are about to lose control.

And you hate that word. Control. You hate that word be-cause it is so very rare that you have any. Over your life, your sexuality, your gender, your pronouns, your heartbeat when you’re around your beautiful girl.

But then you do.

You gain control. And you nail that Caballerial.

And the three guys who’ve been watching you make an ass of yourself all afternoon pop their boards up, hold them over their heads and let out wolf shouts.

And you’re smiling so hard. You get like that when you nail a particularly difficult one. You’re smiling so hard you don’t notice the someone standing behind you.

Beautiful girl. You don’t even want to control your smile here.

“You did it,” she says.

Excerpted from OUT NOW: Queer We Go Again! Edited by Saundra Mitchell, used with permission by Inkyard Press, © 2020 by Inkyard Press

Friday 29 May 2020


Title: Blood Numbers
Author: C. F. Kreitzer
Genre: YA, Dystopian
Release Date: 5th May 2020

BLURB supplied by Silver Dagger Book Tours
There are only two kinds of people left on the earth: Donors and Recipients.

Sixteen-year-old Aston Vazeto hates the idea of selling her blood for money and is determined to be the first Donor in New World history to never donate.

But after a suspicious accident at her father's power plant leaves her family diving deeper into poverty, Aston has no other choice except to enter the annual blood auctions, where Recipients bid on the richest blood. With the highest test results ever seen, Aston’s blood becomes the most sought-after in history, and will likely bring a large price at auctions.

When her friends are caught tampering with their donations, they are arrested and tortured. Knowing she puts her family's safety and income at risk Aston takes advantage of an opportunity to escape donation facility drugs meant to keep Donors complacent. Free to feel and free to love she is caught between Gannet, a kind facility technician, and Marcus, a sarcastic rebel like herself. Dancing at Blood Auction Balls and kissing a donor in coat closets under the stairs has Aston confused between joining the uprising she hears rumors about or merely following the life her blood was meant to lead.

Amazon UK

I think the cover of this book, though simplistic is still eye catching. The large droplet of blood appearing very bold within the background of grey. As in this society everything about you, your life and your future depend on your blood.  It fits the book perfectly. With a title like Blood Number I suppose you would naturally assume that this is a vampire book, but it isn’t, though blood still is a type of “currency”.  The cover did attract my attention and then the blurb certainly made me want to read the book.

Basically, as with most dystopian books there are the “haves” and the “have nots” ironically, rather like the society we live in at the moment. In blood numbers, those that have the power and the money are called the Recipients. The recipients are the richer people in the New World, but they are all ill due to the germ wars that happened years ago. To stay alive and in good health they need blood. That where the “have nots” or as they are called in the book, the donors, come in, the “have nots” are poor and though they do have everyday jobs too the way they earn their money to exist is by donating their blood as a facility that then sells it on to the recipients. Donors have their blood tested when they are 16 years old. Their blood is tested and given a number. The higher the number, the better quality and better healing qualities are in the blood. Once tested, donors are expected to give blood a few times a week. They are paid for this donating and are given their own “blood bank account” but initially due to donors young ages their parents control the account. The donors have about three months to donate blood that recipients can try and see if it is suitable for them and has the properties in it that they need. After three months there is the Auction, where the Recipients bid for their donor. Donors are given lawyers to draw up contracts of what they would like in return, such as how much money, how many days they wish to donate per week, any “holiday days” they want off and so on. Having said that they can ask for these things but they are not guaranteed. At the end of the day the Recipients have the final say as they are paying for this precious blood, and they are the “ruling class” in this strange New World.

The world building is done amazingly well, and is so detailed. There are so many things to learn about both halves of society. You soon learn that both the Recipients and the Donors have their negatives, but of course those with the better lives are the Recipients. The Recipients live apart from the Donors, in new, well built, buildings, with plenty of money, food. Donors live in the poorer areas with broken, falling down buildings, scraping by for food, some growing it in their gardens. Anything they own or have earnt can be taken from them at any time by the Recipients if the Donors are deemed to have done anything wrong. As I was reading Blood Donor my mind was racing with so many questions, such as, Could Gannet provide a way out or a different future for Aston? Could there be some sort of undercover group/agency working against the system. Who is Marcus? What is his donor blood number? In fact, is he a donor at all? Why does his appearance seem to vary so much?

The central character in the book is Aston Vazeto who has been educated on the whole germ wars and the recipients, donor relationship by her father. Aston has decided that though she cannot refuse the testing, she will refuse to donate her blood and live in the family shed painting and selling those paintings for enough money to survive on. Aston’s best friend Lazuli also has the same sort of attitude but as she becomes 16 before Aston, her time to donate comes earlier and Aston notices a difference in her friend. Lazuli seems to be happy all the time and a completely different person, not criticising the system anymore. Aston soon realises when she notices Lazuli’s mam, Mrs Price is making large purchases for their house, leading her to believe Lazuli is already donating at the facility. Aston is caught off guard one day when she is alone, a technician comes to her door saying he is going to test her blood. When Aston questions him, as she is not yet 16 years old, he brushes off her concerns saying he was in the area so decided to do her test too. Aston truly intends to tell her dad about her test but the time never seems right, there is always someone else there or her mam, who is all for the donating of blood and looking forward to spending the money Aston’s blood will bring. Unfortunately, the news about her blood test is discovered by her mother and all the plans that Aston made about not donating are pushed aside and she has to visit the facility like a good Donor citizen.
It is whilst at the facility that Aston meets the mysterious lab technician, Gannet. Strangely every time Aston goes to donate, it is Gannet that deals with her. At first Aston think it is normal, but then she finds out from a brief conversation with Lazuli that it is extremely rare to see the same technician more than once. In fact, it is later revealed in the story that it is, in fact, kind of frowned upon. Aston begins to wonder why her blood is so special, she knows she has a high number, but surely there are other high numbered donors too. Aston is also confused at the way the “happy juice” is conveniently left in a cup for her to take when she is briefly left alone, meaning she can quite easily dispose of it. Aston remains herself but is careful not to make herself stand out any more than her high blood number already does. Aston becomes closer and closer to Gannet, in fact she goes on a “date” with him, yet when he hints he has something important to say to her she immediately shuts him down. Aston thinks he wishes to become her husband as she has such a high number and though she finds Gannet attractive and the fact he is a lab technician means he may have a decent blood number making him a suitable match she is not ready to commit to anyone. Aston’s mam is determined to match make and tries to push many different male donors whom she thinks are a “good match” onto Aston, but Aston manages to get rid of each and every one of them. Some of the match making is quite amusing really.
I think one of the reasons that Aston doesn’t want to commit to Gannet is the increasingly mystifying Marcus who seems to turn up when least expected and quite literally bumping into him continually. From observation and the little morsel of information Marcus reveals, Aston thinks that Marcus is a low numbered donor who has been over donating to make ends meet. As time goes on his health and appearance seem to improve and Aston becomes more and more attached to him.

Character’s I loved were Aston, her father Patar, the rather unique and elusive Grandma Bolgi and Gannet. I loved the attention to detail with the relationship between Aston and her Grandma Bolgi who calls Aston her “Little Ash Tree”. Aston also has a great relationship with her father Patar. Aston attributes this to when she was the youngest, she would do boyish things with her father, but then when son, Torrin came along she still remained close to her father. Patar understands her fascination with painting, and he has taught her the history of the germ wars and is also against the whole Donor blood, and Recipient/Donor relationship.
I really liked Gannet, his caring attitude towards Aston, the way he leaves the donating cubicle, giving Aston the choice of taking the “happy juice” or not. There are times in the book that I really wanted to shake him and shout for him to tell Aston what she needs to know! Another character I became annoyed with was Lazuli, who once firm friends with Aston becomes very bitter over the blood number tampering scandal, yet at the same time accepts the food Aston hides outside for her. I think Lazuli takes the turn it does because of her mam’s greed for the money a high blood number daughter can bring into the home. Having said that, Aston’s mam Evelyn also seems to put the money Aston’s blood can bring, before the physical and mental health of her daughter.

I could seriously go on and on about this book, its great mysterious characters, some devious, some destined to be used up and spit out by the blood donating program. The world and society building is excellent and so detailed and intricate, I felt thoroughly immersed in it and honestly did not want this book to ever end. I have revealed the basics of the society in this review but there is so much more to the book. As with most dystopian societies where there are haves and have nots, there is also a rebellion, which turns out to be much closer to Aston than she would ever have thought. There are so many expectations on Aston, her mam expects her to bring an excellent price at the auction and in fact, Aston is a prized donor. Though as with life there are ups and downs and those that are placed on very high pedestals have even further to fall. With blood numbers being tampered with, rebellions infiltrating Ambassadors Balls and creating havoc, then the truth about one of the males that Aston has come close to not being who he portrayed himself as Aston has much further to fall than most. Can any one save her?

I admit to begin with I struggled a little getting into the book and story, but once the basis of the society and its workings were revealed I easily became engrossed. I found the society fascinating and there were clues as to who certain characters are throughout the book and I have to be honest I had guessed the true identity of one, and the connection to the rebellion of another character. The clues are there if you really read and think about where the book may be going. The true identity revelation changes Aston’s life in a large, most likely irreversible way. The latter chapters of the book see Aston in serious trouble first imprisoned in a dirty awful prison, making it seem like she could die. Then suddenly she is rescued, yet she is still imprisoned. What a point to end the book! Aston’s future health, safety and life is all left undecided really, which makes for cliff hanger which makes you desperate to read more as soon as you can!!

My immediate thoughts upon finishing this book were, what a 'different' read it had been, it's all about the Donor's blood and how much it will bring at the auction. This book has an amazingly different but really well thought out society. The 'haves' = Recipients, rich but ill health. The 'have nots' = Donor, poor in everything but with the power within their blood to help the recipients.
This book definitely made me want to read more about this society and the people within it.

Finally, to sum up, from initially thinking perhaps this book was a tad slow for my taste, to then becoming totally immersed in it. This book has that “feel” to it that exists between the different classes of society that are also featured with The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Attwood, The Lone City by Amy Ewing, The Perfected Series by Kate Jarvik Birch and The Belles Series by Dhonielle Clayton. I could mention so many book titles that it reminded me of, in the way I read and enjoyed them, not in its actual content. As I have said I found the intricate details of this world and society fascinating. I definitely want to read more! Maybe learn more about the resistance? Can Aston be rescued? Does Aston need rescuing? Can the person holding her where she is be persuaded to work for/with the resistance? What about those close to Aston that are part of resistance, why did they not include her within the group? Why did they not rescue her, hide her or help her when things went wrong? What is so special about Aston’s blood? Why were so many new donors in Livonia suddenly dying? This book left me with so many questions to be answered.

Just one last thing. . . . when can I read more??


I grew up with a pretty normal childhood, running barefoot in the Appalachian mountains, playing with turtles and innocently killing them by leaving them on their backs so I could play house with them again the next day. I don't think  I always dreamed of being an author. It was just something I did. I made up stories about my dead turtles. I named my fingers and let them battle out family feuds. I wrote about myself in my journal when what I wished would happen was better than what actually did (sorry, Mom for the scare. I still promise I never really snuck over to a party and kissed my brothers friend). What a wonderful surprise when something "I just did" suddenly became something others enjoyed. I'm so forever grateful to my publisher for giving me a chance to share my not-so-normal stories with the whole world.

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Thursday 28 May 2020


Title: Fury Of The Gods
Series: Areios Brothers
Author: Amy Braun
Genres: Adult, Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 26th May 2020

BLURB supplied by Xpresso Book Tours
Fate brings consequence.

Separated from his brother by curses and lies, Derek Areios is forced into hiding. With rogue goddesses on his side, he begins his search for the Mind of Cronus. But his plans come to a screeching halt when the Olympians send nightmarish warriors to hunt him. Creatures even the gods themselves fear.

Liam Areios, lost without his brother and trapped in service for the Olympians, continues the hunt for the Mind of Cronus. The remaining gods refuse to trust him—or any human—and Liam begins to see just how mad power has made them. Becoming entangled in the schemes of mortals and immortals, Liam will have to fight or lose everyone he loves.

Deadly monsters, betrayal, and pulse-pounding action fill the pages of the third novel in the AREIOS BROTHERS series.


Chapter 1


Sometimes it’s from a small crack that crumbles the foundations. Sometimes it’s just a string of bad luck that ties into a truly horrific end.
Today was definitely the latter.
I lay on my back and blinked rapidly against the rain pounding down on me and pooling in the crater beneath my spine. My left hand throbbed in agony, broken again. I curled my right hand around it and used my magic to heal the bones. I’d had to do that twice already in this fight alone.
I could hear Selena fighting the Crocotta on the hill above me—alone—after it kicked its cloven hooves into my chest and knocked me down a hill.
Getting close to a Crocotta was never a good idea, but I hadn’t been having many of those lately.
And bad habits were easy to fall into.
Get up, Derek, my internal voice demanded. Have an existential crisis later.
Exactly the kind of thing Liam would have said.
After clasping my wounded hand and swiftly healing it, I rolled onto my stomach. Water soaked through my armor. I grimaced as my bruises throbbed. This Crocotta had not wanted to be disturbed but would settle for us being a late-night snack.
Being devoured by a twisted stag/hyena hybrid was not how I intended to end my day. The cursed thing had imitated a man’s cry for help, and I ran into the Crocotta’s trap without thinking.
Now, my fingers clawed up the slope. The toes of my boots sank into the muck. I slipped my way up, clamping my lips shut so as not to swallow more mud and finally dragged myself to the hilltop.
Everything ached as I took a moment to catch my breath. A moment that ended as soon as I heard the Crocotta scream.
Instinct kicked in and I rolled through the mud as fast as I could. The hooves stabbed down inches from my head, splashing my back with muck.
I twisted to my feet and called Ki̱demónas back to me. The spear responded to my telepathic call and struck my hand a split second later. The monster twisted to face me.
The Crocotta was a ruddy brown stag with patchy fur and a knobby spine. It had a shaggy, lion-like mane and cloven hooves. Its beady black eyes glowered at me and my weapon. Saliva dripped from its frightfully wide mouth, filled with a jagged bone ridge instead of teeth.
It growled, a jagged hitching noise, like a hyena trying to cough. It was amazing—and horrifying—that the same animal could mimic a human voice and even call out names perfectly when they chose to hunt.
Which they did often.
It pounced and I Adapted, sidestepping to the left. I jabbed Ki̱demónas into its hind legs. The Crocotta screeched as the steel tip pierced its thick hide. It twisted, yanking Ki̱demónas from my hands, as its front hooves kicked out. I leaned back and watched the split in its hooves pass my chin.
The Crocotta’s rear leg buckled, causing it to stagger on its right side. Selena snuck out from behind the Crocotta and slashed her kukri along its flank once, twice, three times, doing as much damage as she could.
I couldn’t help but grin, my heart reveling at the graceful, effortless, and brutal way Selena moved.
The Crocotta roared and twisted, kicking at her. She nimbly jumped back and lifted her free hand. Flames spooled out from her palm and struck the Crocotta in the face. As it reared back from the intense heat, Selena darted forward and chopped at its foreleg. It howled and leaped again to catch up with her. 
I ran straight for its back.
Selena hurled a blast of fire at the Crocotta. It hunched its shoulder and took the blast against its arm rather than its face. It swiped at her with its hoof. The kick missed her, but it bounded through the mud and rammed its head in her stomach. She toppled backward, striking a boulder before her head slammed hard against the stone. The Crocotta opened its sneering, sliced-open mouth, leaping at her slumped, dazed form––
I Adapted my weight a split second before I slammed into the Crocotta. I made myself heavier and swung into the beast like a wrecking ball. It jolted but I hooked my hand onto the stark ridges in its spine. It wasn’t going to dislodge me; I was ready to end this fight.
The Crocotta wrenched its head left and right, but my magically added weight kept me from rag-dolling against its body. I centered that weight while pressing my back against its rough hide. I jabbed Ki̱demónas into its ear, pushing deep. The Crocotta howled and thrashed, nearly throwing me off. I held on but my grip slipped from the spear. I cursed and filled my free hand with aether. Maybe I’d have luck with the second, more dangerous element.
I swung my aether-filled hand up toward the Crocotta’s face. My palm brushed its bony fangs, leaving a trail of black, corrosive smoke along its snout. The dark magic crawled up its face, the smoky edges digging in like hooks. It howled in agony, twisting guilt into my heart, but I couldn’t let it live. With our friends vanished, Selena and I were each other’s only backup.
The Crocotta roared again, its face now engulfed by the thick black smoke. I sent a command to Ki̱demónas. Burn.
The spear, still embedded in the Crocotta’s ear canal, exploded to life. My flames brushed harmlessly against me. With my free hand, I closed my fingers against the Crocotta’s throat and summoned aether––
My left hand, the one I was using to hold onto the monster, exploded with pain. Invisible glass shards splintered through my flesh. I hissed and let go reflexively. My right hand scrambled to get another hold on its spine, just as the Crocotta kicked me in the side. Pain exploded through my hip and ribs. Something cracked uncomfortably.
Clapping a hand to my side to at least set the rib, I sent another quick thought to Ki̱demónas. The spear tore from the creatures ear and flipped end over end. Seven feet of bronze and steel stabbed through the monsters leg. I reached for Ki̱demónas again and watched as the Crocotta closed its ridged, bone-filled mouth over my arm.
Ridged bone crunched down on my elbow, crushing the joint and breaking skin. Blood gushed from the wound. A little more pressure, a little more tearing, and the arm was coming off.
I didn’t think about what I was doing. I slipped my broken left hand up and set it inside the Crocotta’s mouth. I pushed a block of aether into its throat and hardened it in place, cutting off its air. Every push of magic sent waves of pain onto my shattered fingers, but I couldn’t lose my arm.
My left hand turned slippery from saliva and blood. The creature widened its jaws, freeing my right arm. I commanded Ki̱demónas and whip quick, it flipped from my hand and smashed through the Crocotta’s skull, puncturing deep. The monster’s coal-colored eyes rolled into the back of its head. I jumped away from the Crocotta as it collapsed.
I tucked my broken hand into my chest, trying not to think about the jagged pain within it as I looked at the monster. It had fallen on its side, its one undamaged eye glazed and lifeless, and its body entirely still. Even the rain seemed lighter now.
We survived, remained mostly unharmed, and were absolutely filthy. A winning outcome, all things considered.
Selena stumbled through the long grass toward me, one hand pressed against her skull. I covered my left hand with my right––wincing at the pull of raw cuts at the fold of my arm––and healed it again.
“Are you all right?”
“Yeah,” she muttered, wincing when she moved her hand. There didn’t seem to be any blood or swelling, which I was grateful for. She looked more angry than pained. Her eyes turned to me, noting the blood on my arm. “Gods.”
“Looks worse than it feels,” I half-lied.
She hurried over to me and pressed her fingers to my arm just below the wound. It stung, but my arm swiftly filled with soothing, healing magic.
“Thanks. Didn’t expect a Crocotta to be here.” Though to be fair, we’d wandered into the wilds of Yosemite National Park. Artemis’s region. A huge risk for anyone, given how many creatures roamed free in that verdant territory, but more so for me, since Artemis likely wanted me dead for a crime I hadn’t––
My hand splintered again. I hissed.
Finished with my arm, Selena wrapped her fingers around my hand and healed it again. Her eyes flitted to the creature.
I tilted forward slightly to peer into her face, seeing the shadows on it. Her ponytail, soaked and caked in mud, rested heavily against her back. Her pale face glistened under the coat of rainwater, and her silver-blue eyes were just as stormy as the clouds above us. She’d dropped her kukris somewhere and didn’t seem to care about the smears of mud and grime on her neck, chin, and leather combat uniform.
“It’s not here,” she finally muttered. “All of this, crossing paths with a Crocotta that nearly concussed me and almost maimed you, and it’s not godsdamned here.”
It being the Helm of Darkness—the last of the three Trinity Weapons we had been tasked to find by the Olympians. There were still two more Cronus Shards to find, but we figured that finding the Helm took priority. Recovering the last key to Tartarus was the best way to ensure that the mad Titan himself, Cronus, couldn’t escape his prison.
Not that we needed to look anymore, to be honest. I was on the outs with the Olympians. They believed I murdered two of their own: Poseidon and Apollo. Sneaking into Artemis’s territory had been a huge risk—if we were caught, she would have my head on a spike.
Never mind that my forefather had lied to her—possibly even mentioned I was the Bringer of Shadow and Fire, the leader of an army bent on destroying the world when the Titans were released.
Olympians only saw things their way. Half their legends were born from their stubbornness and pettiness. The myths had been true.
But I couldn’t say these things out loud. I could barely think them, because Ares had hexed me. Every time I tried to speak the truth, my left hand would break.
At first, it didn’t seem like a debilitating curse. Painful? Absolutely. I’d had more than a few broken bones in my twenty-five years of life, so I was accustomed to pain and could use magic to heal.
But the hex was changing. My hand would break on its own at completely random times, and that sharp explosion of pain would drastically hinder me in combat. I was ambidextrous, but the pain caused a split second of distraction and hesitation. A split second meant the difference between surviving and maiming. The hex was becoming slow poison putting mine and Selena’s lives in danger.
And I wasn’t the only one who’d been cursed.
Selena had endured a two-thousand-year-old curse because she did not want to bed Apollo. At the time, Selena had been known as Cassandra, Princess of Troy. Not only were her visions doomed to never be believed, but he cursed her with immortality. Everything she Saw became muddled and skewed. It led us into situations like these, where she was certain she had Seen the Helm’s hiding spot, only to be greeted by a hungry Crocotta instead.
Selena blamed herself for the position we found ourselves in, but I never had. How could I, after the choices I had made? 
“We’ll find it,” I promised her. We had to, because what else were we going to do? We couldn’t get our friends back, and there was no way to exonerate me, even if I had an extremely powerful Farseer and two goddesses on my side. Zeus’ decrees were law and he would never admit to making a mistake.
Selena’s gaze stayed on my hand, our intertwined fingers. My broken bones were long since healed. I wondered at her thoughts. Before I could ask, she sighed.
“We should go.”
I didn’t argue with her. Since learning about her past and how Athena tricked and betrayed her, Selena had become closed off. It didn’t help that her friends––and mine––were missing. We trusted and cared for each other, but I told her the truth about my feelings. Namely, that I loved her.
We hadn’t spoken about it, and neither of us seemed keen to. We talked as friends, and we didn’t touch unless we had to. When we needed healing or brushed against each other quickly turning around a corridor. I wouldn’t push for anything, either. Finding a way to clear my name and help my captive friends mattered more than finding a girlfriend.
But my memory so often betrayed me, and I thought about those moments back when things had been normal and Selena lived with Liam and me. We’d watched movies until she fell asleep against my chest. She’d curled her fingers around my arms or chest when I stood in the way of something she wanted to reach. She grinned as we sparred, eyes bright with challenge and ambition.
She kissed me to save my life.
I wanted to go back to those things, to feel her comfortable against me, curling my arms around her so we could be closer. I wanted to use my height to tease her until I could kiss her frustration away. I wanted to make her laugh and kiss her for the sake of it, not just because I was charmed or dying.
One day, we’d have to face this question. And if she wanted to remain friends, I would step back.
Right now, I just missed normality. Things were different now between us, distant and unsure, but I could no sooner change my feelings than I could tell the Olympians that Ares was manipulating them.
“Yeah,” I conceded, glancing at my blood- and mud-soaked body. “I’m ready for a shower.”
Selena just nodded and followed me as we trod through the forest, saying little.
It had been this way for three months, both of us silent and moving straight forward, trying not to think about the four people missing from our lives. 

Amy is a Canadian urban fantasy and horror author. Her work revolves around monsters, magic, mythology, and mayhem. She started writing in her early teens, and never stopped. She loves building unique worlds filled with fun characters and intense action. 

When she isn’t writing, she’s reading, watching movies, taking photos, gaming, struggling with chocoholism and ice cream addiction, and diving headfirst into danger in Dungeons & Dragons campaigns.