Shadow Reaper Release Day Blitz – Extract and Read-a-Long – Amos Cassidy

Today is the release day for the novel Shadow Reaper described as a dark urban fantasy with a post-apocalyptic twist.

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Goodreads link

Kindle download link

What’s it about?

Only the bravest go over the Horizon…

Twenty years ago the barriers between worlds came down and our reality was swallowed up by the Shadowlands. Now we scavenge to survive, until one day there’s nothing left to reap. Starvation is around the corner, but I’m not the roll over and wait-to-die kinda girl. Nope, I’m going further than anyone has ever been and returned to tell the tale. I’m going into the Beyond, and I’m not coming back without a solution.

Who wrote it?

amos-cassidyTwitter Link

Amos Cassidy is the pen name for Richard Amos and Debbie Cassidy. Amos is a 31 year old Diva and Cassidy a 39 year old mother of three; well, four if you include the husband. A common love of all things Joss Whedon, Urban Fantasy, and a tug of war over Jensen Ackles, brought them together, and one cold February afternoon, over nibbles and coffee, their partnership was born.
You can find Cassidy hard at work in her fortress of solitude which has eaten up the majority of her garden, and Amos…well he’s still trying to get the invisibility gizmo he got off a friendly alien in exchange for a pair of earphones to work. Funnily enough he hasn’t been seen around much lately…

Frequent doses of Sugary snacks, coupled with regular injections of caffeine aid in their production of a unique brand of cross genre tales. They are always writing, but are happy to take a break to chat to their wonderful readers, so drop them a line at amoscassidy@yahoo.co.uk, or just pop over to see what they’re working on at amoscassidyauthor.com and they’ll bust out the biscuit tin.

Join in the Read-a-long

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Read an extract below

ASH

 

It was a day like all the others, dark as pitch and cold as ice, most definitely not a day to die. So when I came face to face with the Knightmare, I froze, all my training taking a flying leap out the proverbial window. You didn’t get Knightmares on this side of the Horizon. In fact, it’d been over a year since anyone had seen one at all.

The Knightmare stared at me with its slanted, glowing eyes, steam pluming from its perpetually flared nostrils, its equine body poised to attack and then it opened its mouth and screamed.

I remembered how to run.

I ran on instinct, moving through the underground tunnels from memory alone. I could hear it behind me, its hooves thundering against the cracked concrete, its rumbling breath pressing against my ears.

It shouldn’t be here, couldn’t be here, and yet it was.

I realised that if I ran back to Shelter, then I’d be leading it straight home, so I took a left instead of a right at the next intersection. I ran, losing myself in the burning of my lungs and the screaming of my muscles. It was only a matter of time before it got me, only a matter of minutes, because I was losing momentum. I couldn’t keep up this pace much longer.

My eyes stung, my throat grew tight. Man, I was pissed! Nineteen years I’d survived this hellhole, nineteen, and I was going to get taken out by a Knightmare? No way was I going out like that! Besides, if I croaked, then that thing would be left roaming the tunnels. My people would be in danger. I had no idea how it’d managed to get across the Horizon without being spotted by the Eye. I’d have to report this to Blake, get him to look into the security. The small bitey critters that scuttled across were one thing, those were inevitable. Those we could handle, but this was bad, real bad.

Up ahead, the fallen and rusted body of a huge contraption from the time before came into view. I gave a final burst of speed and leapt up onto its metallic body. The Knightmare reared back. One thing about Knightmares, they’re not big on climbing. I blew tendrils of hair out of my eyes, yanked out my scrunchie and then scraped my hair back up into a tight ponytail.

It paced, back and forth, its eyes glistening in the dark. I crouched, tips of my fingers grazing cool metal, and watched it—waiting.

That’s it, just get bored and piss off, you ugly—

“Mansfield?” A shrill whistle. “Where are you, boy?”

What the hell? There was someone down here.

The sound of slow, leisurely footsteps echoed through the darkness.

The Knightmare turned his head to look back up the tunnel.

Shit! Who could be so stupid as to be out here alone?

You are, you twat!

Point.

“Oi! Don’t come any closer,” I yelled. “There’s a Knightmare here. Run!”

The footsteps faltered.

He was probably from the slums, maybe using the tunnels to scavenge like I was. Fuck, I remembered those days, but it was dangerous, too dangerous for someone untrained. I waited, straining to hear the sounds of retreat, yet there was nothing but silence.

Had I imagined the voice?

The Knightmare turned away from me.

No, definitely not my imagination. Those things could smell a human a mile off. Stupid bloody man, boy, whoever it was.

“Bloody run, you idiot! There’s no point hiding! It can bleedin’ smell ya!”

A low chuckle filtered through the air, accompanied by the sound of footsteps.

They were growing closer.

Well, there was no helping some people.

A shape became visible. A man, tall, broad, and slim, wreathed in darkness. My eyes, accustomed to the gloom of the tunnels, could make out only the whites of his eyes surrounding cerulean blue.

“Well, there you are, Mansfield.” The Knightmare whinnied and trotted over to the man, offering his huge head to be petted.

What the crap?

The man tilted his head to look up at me. “Dangerous being out here all alone, little human.” He said the last word as if it were a dirty one.

Mansfield emitted a pleading rumble.

“Mansfield’s hungry.” The man cocked his head and stared at me for a very long time, so long, in fact, that I began to wonder if he’d turned to stone or fallen asleep on his feet with his eyes open. “I don’t think she’ll make a very palatable meal, boy. All skin and bones, that one. Come, we’ll find you something more . . . substantial.”

A chill crawled up my spine. Only one of them could control a Knightmare. A Shadowlander.

He flashed me his even white teeth. “You’re safe for now, human. Crawl off to your hideout and forget this ever happened.”

And just like that, they were gone.

I exhaled sharply and stared at the spot where they had just stood. Something had stood. Something.

What the hell was I doing on top of this rusty contraption?

Climbing down gingerly, I wiped my dirty palms on my trousers and headed home.

 

***

 

I crawled through the hidden passageway that led back into Shelter. I reached the grate that opened up into Corridor 4 and waited, listening. There wasn’t usually anyone about at this time, but you never knew. After long minutes of absolute silence, I knocked aside the grate and slid into the corridor, landing lightly on my feet.

I moved the grate back into place, then pushed in the rusty screws to make them look like they were snug in their holes.

Straightening my shirt and brushing off my trousers, I made my way back to my quarters.

If I thought I’d gotten off scot-free for my little escapade, then I was sadly mistaken.

Clay sat on my bed, his face dark with anger.

Shit.

“What the hell, Ash? What. The. Hell?”

Crap! Time to do some damage control.

I plastered a contrite expression on my face, ready to do the pleading thing, but he held up his hand.

“Don’t even go there. You’re not sorry. I know it, you know it, and the whole fucking world knows it. What I want to know is why. You got what you wanted. You’re a Reaper, so why take these unnecessary risks?”

I felt the first spark of anger. “Why? Because someone has to! The bimonthly reaps aren’t cutting it. Everyone knows it. Someone has to take the risk. Remember the penicillin, the iodine, the—”

“Yes! I remember. You found some important stuff, but—”

“And I didn’t go over the Horizon to do it. I’m not bleedin’ suicidal. I was careful. Nothing saw me and I didn’t see any of . . . them.” Some memory skittered under the surface of my mind but was gone too quick to catch.

Clay rubbed his face with his hand, his shoulders rising and falling in a heartfelt sigh, and I felt the guilt heavy on my chest. I was his burden. His little sister, the one he’d sworn to protect. I didn’t make it easy.

Older than me by five minutes, Clay had seamlessly stepped into our parents’ shoes after they died five years ago. We’d been barely fourteen at the time. Clay had taken their deaths as an inevitability. He’d said good-bye, buried them, and then turned his attention to taking care of me. Sod that! I’d been pissed off and incensed by the unfairness of it because, as far as I was concerned, they’d chosen to die. Food and shelter had been less than a mile away; all they’d had to do was claim it. All they’d had to do was volunteer for the academy, become Reapers, and we would have been clothed and fed and sheltered. But they’d been afraid, weak, and they’d died. Yes, I’d been angry. So angry that I’d done the one thing that they’d never wanted either Clay or me to do. I’d signed up to be a Reaper.

Reaper status meant food. It meant lodging. It meant safety. It had come too late for my parents, but I was determined not to lose Clay to their skewed convictions. Clay couldn’t bring himself to break the vow we’d made to them, though; thank goodness Shelter needed able-bodied men to train in the tech side of things. Clay always had an affinity for building shit, so here we were five years later—Clay a head Technician and me a seasoned Reaper. The tech we had here was primitive, but he managed to keep the lights on and the heat running, and that’s all we could ask for.

“Ashling?”

“Huh?”

“Go to bed.” He stood and moved toward the door.

He was disappointed in me. I hated it. I couldn’t leave things like this between us. As he brushed past, I turned into him, wrapping my arms around his waist. He tensed and then relaxed. His arms wrapped around me and he squeezed me tight.

“Please, Ash, just follow protocol, ’kay?”

I nodded against his chest, and yes, I really meant to keep my promise. I always do . . . until next time.

He released me and ruffled my hair.

“Say ’night to Blake.” I smiled up at him coquettishly.

He blushed. “Will do.”

It was sweet the way those two were still so gaga over each other. They’d been dating for just over a year now, and they acted like a married couple. Clay had even moved into Blake’s quarters, and yet he still blushed when I mentioned Blake’s name.

Sweet.

He pecked me on the forehead and then left me to it.

A yawn ripped through me, and I stretched and threw myself onto my rumpled bed. My quarters were small and boxy, but they were mine. Pictures from old magazines I’d found on my scavenging trips decorated the walls: cars and paradise settings, gardens and sunsets, and lovers holding hands. These were memories that I’d never have. They lulled me to sleep, and sometimes I’d find myself on a beach somewhere, waves lapping at my toes, or maybe in a beautiful garden, the scent of roses sweet and strong in my nose. I didn’t know if what I dreamt held any similarity to how it used to be. How could I? I’ve never smelled a rose or walked on the beach, but the dreams kept my spirits alive, and sometimes he joined me—the man who didn’t speak.

The first time it happened, I was frightened. I mean, some strange bloke walks into my dream and just hangs out? It was creepy, but I soon started to feel okay with it. In fact, he’d become a kind of friend now . . . I think.

My eyelids were starting to get heavy, so I closed them, exhaling long and deep, and let sleep take me.

 

Robyn Silver: The Midnight Chimes by Paula Harrison – Blog Tour

For today’s stop on Robyn Silver: The Midnight Chimes Blog Tour I will be reviewing this enjoyable middle grade story.

The Midnight Chimes

Synopsis

Life was very ordinary for ten-year-old Robyn Silver. The often-ignored middle child in a big family, the most excitement she had was the dash to the dinner table to reach the last slice of pizza. Until… she begins to see creepy creatures around her town – creatures that are invisible to everyone else. And when her school is forced to decamp to mysterious Grimdean House and she meets its equally mysterious owner, Mr Cryptorum, Robyn finds herself catapulted headfirst into an extraordinary adventure – with more excitement than she could possibly have imagined. Be careful what you wish for…

This book is out tomorrow so add to your Goodreads list and buy from your favourite retailer

Author

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Paula Harrison is a best-selling children’s author, with worldwide sales of over one million copies. Her books include The Rescue Princesses series. She wanted to be a writer from a young age but spent many happy years being a primary school teacher first.

 

Website: http://paulaharrison.jimdo.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/P_Harrison99

What I Thought

I would describe this as The Mortal Instruments for the younger reader – all the training, but not the romance (friendship instead). The storyline is very much a chosen one situation but this time our heroine isn’t alone in her discovery of a new world filled with monsters. I would say it took me a little while to get into this but once vampires were introduced the drama increased and I whipped through the rest of the tale, and was left hoping that there is more to come.

If you like the cover art – and what’s not to like – you will want to grab a hardcopy of this book because each chapter starts with a superb illustration by Renée Kurilla, and the book finishes with a mini monster compendium of all the weird creatures Robyn and her friends face.

The use of chapter titles had me in two minds, on one hand they are quite ‘telly’ giving you a heads up about what is to come and on the other I’d say they were almost like the summary headings a ten year old might put in a diary. I think younger readers will be fine with them though.

I loved all the main children characters from fiesty Robyn, her sweet younger sister Annie and her recorder!!!, Robyn’s best friend, dyslexic inventor, Aiden and bookish Nora. The children really do lead this with a few adult characters around to show them the way. They also learn to be very very careful of what you wish for – especially where sweets are involved.

There are plenty of surprises and some excellent scope for a longer series. I’d recommend this to readers that love middle grade and that enjoy urban supernatural fantasies where a hidden world exists alongside our own.

Follow the Blog Tour

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What I Couldn’t Tell You Blog Tour – Guest Post by Author Faye Bird

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Today on the ‘What I Couldn’t Tell You’ Blog Tour I have a guest post from author Faye Bird on Where She Writes, but first up let’s find out a little about the book itself.

Synopsis

When love turns to jealousy, when jealousy turns to rage, when rage turns to destruction…

Laura was head over heels in love with Joe. But now Laura lies in a coma and Joe has gone missing. Was he the one who attacked her?

Laura’s sister Tessie is selectively mute. She can’t talk but she can listen. And as people tell her their secrets, she thinks she’s getting close to understanding what happened on that fateful night.

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If that has whet your appetite you’ll be pleased to know that the book is OUT NOW.

Do purchase from your favourite retailer and add it to your Goodreads shelf here.

The Author

Faye writes fiction for young adults. Before becoming a writer she worked as a literary agent representing screenwriters in film and TV. She studied Philosophy and Literature at Warwick University, but has otherwise always lived in London, and still does now.

Website: http://www.fayebirdauthor.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/faye_bird

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Where I Write by Faye Bird

One of the things that I love most about writing is that you can do it anywhere.

I always have a pen or pencil and notepad with me so if I’m sitting down somewhere, anywhere, anytime I can write. And just like the rest of the world, I pretty much have my phone with me 24/7 so if I’m on the move – on the bus or the tube – I’ll write that way. That’s the peculiar, skittish nature of writing; sometimes you’ll sit down to write and nothing will come very easily and other times you’ll think you’re doing something completely unrelated and you’ll realize that a little bit of something useful has struck. I love that. But what I don’t love is that if you don’t get it down there and then, it usually vanishes and it doesn’t always come back again. So a way to make a note is what you need!

 

Where I sit to write – in the traditional sense – mostly comes down to three places…

 

Home: 
I don’t have a room of my own. I have the table that we, as a family, sit around to eat, talk, do homework, play games – the table that is the heart of the house, I guess. When my kids are at school I make it my own. And when I pause in getting the words down I’ll gaze out at the trees and the occasional dog walker, the passersby, because I’m lucky enough to have a huge tree and a little patch of green just in front of the house. If the house is full and I have a deadline then I will be found writing in bed. It’s the only place I can go in the house and shut the door and get away from it all. And it works!

 

Cafes:

Generally I will write in any cafe that will have me where the music isn’t too loud or the babies too grizzly. Since January this year I have been going regularly to a local cafe to write one day a week with a friend. We keep each other inspired and on track, and it’s great to have company with the coffee when we break. Current favourite haunts are The Fields in Northfields, the Cafe in Waterstone’s in Richmond (so lovely to be amongst the books!) and the Clocktower Cafe in Hanwell.

 

The British Library:

This is THE place to write. It takes some commitment to get me up to Kings Cross, put my stuff in a locker, syphoning off the things I need into a clear plastic bag, and forgo a pen for a pencil in the process, but the number of words I can get down in the Reading Rooms is absolutely worth the fuss required. As soon as I walk through the doors at the BL I can feel something change; it’s like a little bit of space opens up in my brain, and there’s a twinge of expectation, excitement. I think it’s a sense of possibility, and a sense of being amongst clever minds, but at the same time being completely undisturbed, completely alone. In this place whole hours can go by that feel like minutes, and I think without doubt my best work is done here. I aim to go one day a week and if I make it, it tends to be the best day of all.

 

Hope that has given the aspiring authors out there some inspiration on where to get those words down. Where do you guys write?

Do check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour – you can find links to them all here.

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