Cover reveal for ‘Keir’ by Pippa Jay – and a mini review

I originally read Keir back in the middle of 2013 (I was going to write “last year” but oh, wait, 2015!). I really enjoyed it; I’ve copied my review of it from Goodreads and put it at the bottom of this cover reveal post. (The only sad thing for me is that I ordered the paperback and I love this new cover so much more. Can’t I just, you know, swap them? No? Rats!) — Cass

Keir banner

A demon waiting to die…

An outcast reviled for his discolored skin and rumors of black magic, Keirlan de Corizi sees no hope for redemption. Imprisoned beneath the palace that was once his home, the legendary ‘Blue Demon of Adalucian’ waits for death to finally free him of his curse. But salvation comes in an unexpected guise.

A woman determined to save him.

Able to cross space and time with a wave of her hand, Tarquin Secker has spent eternity on a hopeless quest. Drawn by a compulsion she can’t explain, she risks her apparent immortality to save Keir, and offers him sanctuary on her home-world, Lyagnius. But Quin has secrets of her own.

When Keir mistakenly unleashes the dormant alien powers within him and earns exile from Lyagnius, Quin chooses to stand by him. Can he master his newfound abilities in time to save Quin from the darkness that seeks to possess her?

Keir is Book One of the Redemption series and part of the Travellers Universe. Previously released by Lyrical Press in May 2012, it has received a SFR Galaxy Award for SciFi Romance for Best May–December Romance (2012), and was a Aspen Gold Readers Choice Award 3rd place finalist (2013), Readers’ Favorite International Book Award finalist (2012), and The Kindle Book Review’s Best Indie Book Awards Nominee for Best SciFi/Fantasy (2013).

You can add Keir to your Goodreads shelf HERE.

Keir cover

Cass’s review

I really enjoyed Keir. It reminded me of some of Anne McCaffrey’s books, which are sci-fi that was light on the science but with a consistent romantic element. I’d forgotten with my recent urban fantasy kick how much I enjoy that combination.

The romance is a slow burn, not a love at first sight thing, which I prefer — although I did start wanting to shake both characters (especially Keir) to get them to just GET ON WITH IT a chapter or two before they actually did.

The world building is great; I especially enjoyed  Metraxi but there are a few to choose from. And the characters are interesting, with back stories that give them lots of issues (read: character development arcs).

Ultimately the underlying message of the story is about acceptance: finding those who will accept you despite your differences, and — by seeing yourself through their eyes — learning to accept yourself.

About Pippa

After spending twelve years working as an Analytical Chemist in a Metals and Minerals laboratory, Pippa Jay is now a stay-at-home mum who writes scifi and the supernatural. Somewhere along the way a touch of romance crept into her work and refused to leave. In between torturing her plethora of characters, she spends the odd free moment playing guitar very badly, punishing herself with freestyle street dance, and studying the Dark Side of the Force. Although happily settled in the historical town of Colchester in the UK with her husband of 21 years and three little monsters, she continues to roam the rest of the Universe in her head.

Pippa Jay is a dedicated member of the Science Fiction Romance Brigade, blogging at Spacefreighters Lounge, Adventures in Scifi, and Romancing the Genres. Her works include YA and adult stories crossing a multitude of subgenres from scifi to the paranormal, often with romance, and she’s one of eight authors included in a science fiction romance anthology—Tales from the SFR Brigade.

Sign up HERE for Pippa’s no-spam newsletter for special previews on cover reveals, new releases, the latest giveaways and discounts, and upcoming news. You can also stalk her at her website, or at her blog, but without doubt her favorite place to hang around and chat is on Twitter as @pippajaygreen.

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Interview: Stacey Nash, YA sci-fi author

Today I’m thrilled to have one of my favourite writers and human beings on the planet here with me on the blog — it’s the lovely Stacey Nash! You may remember her from such reviews as my one on Remember Me four days ago. Stacey’s second book, Remember Me, came out on 1 October, which makes her and I release month buddies. To celebrate, I’m giving away two copies of the first book in her series, Forget Me Not — details below.

Welcome to the blog, Stacey!

For those that haven’t read Forget Me Not, the first book in the Collective series, how would you describe the world you’ve created?

The world of the Collective series is one where super-advanced tech exists, like devices that allow cloaking, telepathy, and teleportation. This tech has actually been around for a very long time, but it’s kept hidden from the general public by a secret group whose sole purpose is to keep everything in the world on the right path. That group, the Collective, believes too much power in too many hands is not a good thing.

The Collective kind of reminds me of the Illuminati crossed with that Will Smith movie Men in Black (only without the sense of humour). Can you tell us a little more about how they work?

That’s a great description of the Collective and they are very loosely based on the Illuminati. (I love a good conspiracy theory!) Remember Me takes a much closer look at the Collective than we got to see in Forget Me Not, and from a different angle too. The Collective honestly believe that they’re doing the right thing. That with the type of technology available, society would fall into a power-grabbing mess and left to its own devices would not function effectively. It would be an all-out massacre, with no order and every man greedily overthrowing every other to come out on top. So the Collective not only suppresses knowledge of advanced technology from the public, they use it to maintain order.

Remember Me is told by both Anamae, the main character from the first book, and her best friend Will. Tell us a bit about them.

Anamae is one of those girls who are so tenacious no one can keep her check, and god help anyone who tries. She’s seventeen and has been through a tough time. Her mother has been missing for a very long time, and her dad faced some life-threatening issues during book one. With no other family, she realises she needs to fight back for what’s right.

As for Will, he’s one of those characters that finds his way into everyone’s heart. He’s a little overbearing at times, but he’s got a kind heart. He’s been in Anamae’s life since they were in grade school together and he’s not about to take a back seat now that they’re fighting for their lives.

Forget Me Not originally came out with a small press, which subsequently collapsed. What do you know now that you wish you knew then? What advice would you give to writers just starting out in the business?

I don’t think anything I know now would have changed my decisions back then. I didn’t blindly sign with that small press. I researched them thoroughly before I did so. I checked them out on Editors and Predators, Absolute Write Water Cooler, Google, and everywhere that I could. I even spoke with authors I knew who were signed with them. And staff — I spoke with staff too. Everything was really happy there, and everything checked out. I guess I’d tell other writers to make sure you do all that before signing, but be aware that publishing in some ways is a gamble. You just can’t predict what will happen and there are bad publishers out there amongst the good. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Make sure you remember that and you’ll be more wary.

What other projects are you working on? Can we expect to see a third book in the series sometime soon?

I’m working on a few projects right now. There are four books in total planned for the Collective Series and book three has gone off to my publisher, so hopefully there will be more news on it soon. My current project is a prequel to the series. Set long before Anamae was born, it’s told by her mother and essentially it is Annie’s story. Which is an exciting part of Collective–Resistance history. I’ve also got a new series in the pipelines which I’ve been madly working on. It’s quite different to the Collective books, with slightly older characters and a contemporary setting. I hope to be able to share some news on it soon as well.

Giveaway

Enter for a chance to win one of two Forget Me Not ebooks!

About Stacey

Stacey Nash writes adventure-filled stories for Young Adults in the Science Fiction and Fantasy genres. She loves to read and write books that have a lot of adventure, a good dose of danger, a smattering of romance, and KISSING! Hailing from the Hunter Valley in New South Wales, she loves nothing more than immersing herself in the beauty and culture of the local area.

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Stacey Nash


Review: ‘Remember Me’ by Stacey Nash (Collective #2)

Remember Me

When all is lost, she must remember…

Anamae Gilbert managed to thwart The Collective and rescue her father, even though his mind is now a shell. Determined to stop Councilor Manvyke hurting her family again, she’s training to become an active resistance member and enjoying a growing romance. But things never sail along smoothly – Manvyke wants retribution. And Anamae’s name is high on his list.

After a blow to the head, she awakes in an unfamiliar location. Anamae can’t remember the last few weeks and she can’t believe the fascinating new technology she’s seeing. She’s the new kid at school and weapons training comes with ease, but something feels off. Why does the other new kid’s smile make her heart ache?

And why does she get the feeling these people are deadly?

I have been waiting for this book to come out for the past eight months, since I finished the first book in the series, Forget Me Not.  And when it did come out I read it in just over 24 hours — it would’ve been sooner except that I had to work. Pesky work! (Why can’t someone just pay me to read all day?)

Now, I need to start with a disclaimer: Stacey Nash is a very good friend of mine. I adore her and her writing. So in the interests of fairness and an unbiased review, I’ll follow up with this: I did see a handful of typoes throughout Remember Me. THERE, I SAID IT.

Now let me move onto all the things I loved about this book!

In a way I’m regretting giving Forget Me Not a five-star rating, because I feel like Remember Me deserves at least an extra half star. It’s because the first book is the discovery story, whereas in this second book we get to peel back additional layers of this interesting world and see what’s underneath.

You’ll see from reading the blurb that Anamae loses her memory and wakes up somewhere strange. I initially assumed she’d just forgotten all of her resistence friends (with amnesia they would be strange to her), so I was intrigued to discover she’d been taken by the Collective. This meant we got to see their world through a stranger’s eyes — in Forget Me Not they were a faceless, well, collective, but in Remember Me we see that it’s not all black and white after all. There are factions and an interesting, Illuminati-style creation myth.

The other thing we get in the sequel is a dual point of view, split between Anamae and her best friend, Will — who is still with the resistence fighters. He goes a little crazy at the start of Remember Me after Anamae is taken. In the same way that she rushed into danger to try and save her dad in the first book, he doesn’t exactly think through his actions in trying to save Mae. To give him credit, though, he does realise after a while that he’s behaving rashly, and since he loves Mae I forgave him.

My other favourite character in this book is Lilly, daughter of the resistance leader. I love how determined she was not to be over-protected by her father. I think when Mae breaks Will’s heart (which I’m just assuming is going to happen because she’s still all googly-eyed for Jax), Lilly would look after it and nurse it back to health.

Yes, I’m planning the futures of these characters. I told you I love this book!

Five stars


Review: ‘These Broken Stars’ by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

These Broken Stars

It’s a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone.

Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help.

Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever?

Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it.

These Broken Stars is my kind of science fiction story; that is, I didn’t need to have a degree in astrophysics or robotic engineering to follow the intricacies of the plot. I’m sure there’s a name for that kind of sci-fi, but I call it “soft”, as opposed to the hard, science-y sort. Another name for it would be “science-magic” — don’t ask how the science works; IT JUST DOES. Wibbly wobbly, timey wimey stuff.

In fact, most of this story actually takes place on the surface of a planet and is relatively low-tech. It’s more of a survival stories. And I love survival stories. LOVE THEM. It’s one of the reasons the first two books in The Hunger Games trilogy were five-star reads for me. I’ve seen some reviewers comment that the slogging-across-the-countryside stuff bored them a little, but not me. There was just enough juicy plot being revealed as the journey took place, and enough obstacles thrown in Lilac and Tarver’s path, to make it interesting.

Lilac and Tarver are great. The alternating point of view in (almost) each chapter gives us some great insights into their personalities, without which I probably would’ve written Lilac off as a spoiled society girl in the first ten seconds. As it is, being able to see how she’s feeling and thinking about things, and those glimpses of technical competence, made her a much more interesting personality. She still grows tremendously during the story, though; the journey gives her a new strength. Tarver is already a more well-rounded person, so his story is less about personal growth and more about the challenges of the situation he’s been thrust into.

The only qualm I had about Lilac and Tarver was their ages. Tarver is a war hero at 18, while Lilac is a 16-year-old princess (figuratively speaking) with a knack for electronics. I get that in this world people are being forced into adulthood younger — Tarver enlisted at 16 — but it still weirded me out every time I was reminded of their age.

On another note, I mentioned that the plot was juicy. There’s a twist in here that made me GOL (that’s “gasp out loud”). Loved it. I also really enjoyed the little interview excerpts with Tarver between each chapter, where he’s being interrogated post-rescue. They do make it clear from the first chapter that he, at least, survives the crash, but the questions they raise in turn piqued my curiosity.

The only thing that makes me sad is that I see the sequel follows another couple. I hope we get to see more of Lilac and Tarver down the track.

Oh, and since Amie Kaufman is from Melbourne (even though Meagan Spooner is an American), this TOTALLY counts for my Australian Women Writers challenge. 😉

Four-and-a-half stars


Five facts about ‘Tethered’ by Pippa Jay

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Five facts about Tethered

1. Although the story takes place in my Travellers Universe (the main setting for my scifi books so far), the characters in Tethered are completely unrelated to my time-travellers from Keir and Gethyon. But there is a reference to Quin and her companions in the book (spot it if you can!).

2. The major-domo Pevanne is named after a dressage horse I rode in my teens, because of the very precise way he moved, which always made me feel as if he was carefully considering whether to put each hoof down in the mud or not. In my mind, the major-domo was equally precise and a little fussy about his moves.  It’s funny the things that come out when you write.

3. Neither Zander nor Tyree were as tall in the original version as they were in the final. But I’d written a lot of short characters (being short myself, so easier to judge how it feels to be small), and I felt Tyree would be quite Amazonian in appearance rather than petite. As for Zander…making him taller than Tyree was just another part of the aggravation for her. And it was all about the irritation factor with them.

4. Tyree’s people are called the Inc-Su – taken from ‘succubus’ for the female and ‘incubus’ for the male. And since they have no gender bias (men and women really are equal in status, aside from Great Mother M’roc who leads the council) the only reason the male version comes before the female version is because Inc-Su sounds better than Su-Inc.

5. The title Tethered actually comes from a song by Elliott Minor that I was listening to at the time, although nothing else in the song relates to the story in any way. I just liked the word.

Blurb

She can kill with a kiss. But can assassin Tyree also heal one man’s grief, and bring peace to a galaxy threatened by war?

For Tyree of the Su, being an assassin isn’t simply something she was trained for. It’s the sole reason for her existence. A genetically enhanced clone—one of many in Refuge—she’s about to learn her secluded lifestyle, and that of all her kind, is under threat by a race capable of neutralizing their special talents to leave them defenseless.

For Zander D’joren, being a diplomat has not only cost him his appearance, but also the love of his life. Scarred, grieving, he must nonetheless continue in his role as co-delegate to the fearsome Tier-vane or risk a conflict that could only end one way.

Now both of them need to keep each other alive and maintain a perilous deception long enough to renegotiate the treaty with the Tier-vane, or throw their people into a war that could wipe out Terrans and Inc-Su alike. But there’s more at stake than humanity, whether true or modified. Can the love growing between them save them both? Or merely hasten their destruction?

A science fiction romance novella. Add it to your Goodreads shelf HERE.

Breathless Press | Smashwords | Bookstrand | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Giveaway

Enter to win a DNA necklace and a $5 Breathless Press voucher HERE! Open internationally.

About Pippa

Pippa JayAfter spending twelve years working as an Analytical Chemist in a Metals and Minerals laboratory, Pippa Jay is now a stay-at-home mum who writes scifi and the supernatural. Somewhere along the way a touch of romance crept into her work and refused to leave. In between torturing her plethora of characters, she spends the odd free moment playing guitar very badly, punishing herself with freestyle street dance, and studying the Dark Side of the Force. Although happily settled in the historical town of Colchester in the UK with her husband of 21 years and three little monsters, she continues to roam the rest of the Universe in her head.

Pippa Jay is a dedicated member of the Science Fiction Romance Brigade, blogging at Spacefreighters Lounge, Adventures in Scifi, and Romancing the Genres. Her works include a YA science fiction novel—Gethyon—published through BURST (Champagne Books), two self-published short stories (Terms & Conditions Apply and The Bones of the Sea), and she’s one of eight authors included in a science fiction romance anthology—Tales from the SFR Brigade. She’s also a double SFR Galaxy Award winner, been a finalist in the Heart of Denver RWA Aspen Gold Contest (3rd place), and the GCC RWA Silken Sands Star Awards (2nd place).

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Excerpt and giveaway: ‘Forget Me Not’ by Stacey Nash

forget me not banner

Anamae is drawn into a world which shatters everything she knew to be true.

Since her mother vanished nine years ago, Anamae and her father have shared a quiet life. But when Anamae discovers a brooch identical to her mother’s favorite pendant, she unknowingly invites a slew of trouble into their world. They’re not just jewellery, they’re part of a highly developed technology capable of cloaking the human form. Triggering the jewellery’s power attracts the attention of a secret society determined to confiscate the device – and silence everyone who is aware of its existence. Anamae knows too much, and now she’s Enemy Number One.

She’s forced to leave her father behind when she’s taken in by a group determined to keep her safe. Here Anamae searches for answers about this hidden world. With her father kidnapped and her own life on the line, Anamae must decide if saving her dad is worth risking her new friends’ lives. No matter what she does, somebody is going to get hurt.

Amazon | iBooks | Google Play | Goodreads

Amazon | iBooks | Google Play

Excerpt

It’s not getting any easier to tell my mother what’s happened, what she’s missed, what’s been going on in my life. It’s not getting any easier to survive each day without her. It’s not getting any easier to think of her and not cry. Elbow on my writing desk and chin cupped in my hand, I stare at the yellow notepaper. The lines across it are as empty as my pounding head. The spot where the tip of my favorite pen touches is marked by a growing dot, evidence that there are no right words.

It’s sure as heck not getting any easier.

Hoping to find inspiration, I glance at the photo waiting to be slipped into the envelope with this letter. Normally I put aside a nature shot for her, but this one’s a ‘selfie’ of me and Will. His sandy hair looks kind of messy the way it falls into his bright eyes, and his arm, resting over my shoulders so naturally, pulls us close together. Our grins say more than words ever can.

Twirling the pen between my fingers, I gaze out the window at the soft autumn afternoon and daydream about what to write. A distant clang like metal against metal sounds from outside. Will must be at it again. I shoot up, lean over the desk, and raise the window, letting a rush of warm air brush my face.

His jean clad legs stick out from under the hood of a beat-up car parked in their yard.

That car is like a full time job, he works on it so often now. He backs out and hoists a motor, or something, onto his shoulder, lifting like it weighs no more than his kid sister. He looks up, catches me watching him, and grins. I wave and, with a sigh, plonk back into the chair, dropping my gaze to the blank sheet in front of me. I really want to write her.

For nine years I’ve been writing these letters and placing them in my top drawer with a photo. It’s become a yearly tradition. At least if we ever find Mom, she’ll know what my life’s been like.

Nothing comes to me. None of the thoughts ambling through my mind are quite right, so I drop the pen, pinch my lips together, and tap my fingers on the desk in a sharp rhythm that cuts through my aching head. I need the right words.

I last saw her on an ordinary March school day the year I was eight. She packed my lunch, gave me a kiss on the cheek, and waved goodbye. I climbed into the bus. As she stood on the curb, she didn’t look happy or sad, scared or frightened—just the same as any other day.

Heaviness squeezes my chest and makes each inhalation of breath hurt. I’ve played that day back in my mind over and over, analyzed every detail: her wave, her smile, her words, her haunted look. Did she know it was goodbye?

Not knowing leaves a complete emptiness inside me. Knowing if she’s alive or dead, or why she hasn’t come back would make it so much easier. Especially since Dad barely mentions her anymore, and no matter how many times I turn her photos around, they continue to spin and face the wall. I guess it’s just too hard for him.

I shake my head in an effort to expel the memories, but it’s no use. The lines on the paper blur, my eyes slide shut, and it hurts too much. I can’t do this right now. Grabbing my camera off the desk, I slam the window shut and run down the stairs, shouting to Dad, “I’ll be back for dinner.”

“Wait. Can you grab milk?”

He walks out of the kitchen, a five dollar bill pinched between his fingers. I pluck it from his outstretched hand and turn to leave, but his hand closes over my shoulder, spinning me around. “Everything okay?”

I close my eyes and expel a long breath. He won’t want to hear it, so there’s no point sharing. “I miss her, too.”

He pulls me into his chest, and it’s too much. Tears roll down my cheeks, and I throw my arms around him, holding him as tight as I can while he runs a hand over my head. “Sweetheart.”

I cling to him. “It’s just…”

“I know.”

He holds me for a long time, until my tears stop. When I pull away, I rub the telltale streaks from my cheeks, and shove the money in my pocket. “Milk, right?”

He nods, and I turn for the door. “Anamae,” he says, “I love you, kid.”

A weak smile raises my lips. “Love you, too.”

Outside, I head straight to the white picket fence separating our yard from Will’s. He’s been my best friend since he moved here in the sixth grade, and I’m so grateful his parents decided quiet suburbia was a better place to live than the inner city. I slap my hands onto the flat tips and stretch over, calling, “Will.”

He peers around the corner of the house, and the sight of his smile is enough to rattle this awful mood.

“Sure. Two minutes.”

Fishing for weeds in the garden occupies the time while I wait. The Averys have the nicest yard on our street. A perfectly manicured lawn complete with stone statues and spiky plants in white pebble gardens. Will’s mom likes being fashionable and modern, obvious from the gravel now crunching under his feet. Appearances aren’t important. Sure it’s nice to look good, but it’s not the thing that matters most. That’s one of the things she just doesn’t get about me. I always wear faded jeans and comfy t-shirts, yet she constantly tries to dress me up. Make me look like a girl. Still, she’s been like a second mom to me. She even gave me The Talk. I just about died when I realized what was happening.

Will’s coming. “Hi, Mae.”

“Hey.” I grin. Love it when he shortens my name.

We stroll down our wide path and turn onto the next street. It’s only a few blocks from our street to a small cluster of shops. The short walk, fresh air, and Will’s banter help lighten my mood. The cafe comes into sight, and I grab his hand, dragging him across the road toward another storefront—an old shop. Aqua paint peels off the brick walls around huge glass windows, and two stories rise up above us. Like all the shops on this street, a big tin awning slants out over the pavement, and a balcony juts out above. Albert’s Second-Hand Treasures emblazons a window spanning the shop’s front. Through the window piles of odd stuff are visible, cluttering the inside. According to the kids at school, it’s evidence the old man who owns the store is a little unhinged, which earns this place the nickname, Crazy Al’s. But to me, it’s far more than that. ‘Crazy Al’s’ been a part of my life almost as long Will.

“Bet you can’t find the weirdest one today,” I say.

Will raises his brows and shoots me a look that says ‘you’re insane.’ “Really, this old game? I thought you wanted to get coffee.”

“Oh, come on. I need some childish fun.” I lean in toward him an smile. “Bet you can’t win.”

I also need to see Al, not to talk… just see him. His grandfatherly ways might make me feel better.

I drag Will toward the front door, and all the while he shakes his head and scuffs his heels. “Okay, but loser buys coffee,” he finally says, “and cake.”

He pushes me through the door, making the bell overhead jingle. As he heads toward a large table in the far corner of the shop, a small smile crosses my lips. Glancing toward the counter, I stop at a long bench and paw through ancient yellowing books and old jewelry scattering it in a disorganized mess. I’ve no idea how Al even knows what’s here.

Al raises his white-grey frizzy-haired head from the newspaper sprawled on the glass counter. His bushy eyebrows lift, and he throws me a warm smile which somehow makes me feel a little better.

Running my hand over the ‘treasures,’ I stop at a ceramic owl perched amongst the clutter on the table. When I turn it over in my hand, chubby little claws grip the sides of a skateboard. I hold it up so Will can see it. “Check this out.”

“A skating owl?” Will laughs. “I can top that.”

He holds up a book with the title Peanuts in Love. On the cover two peanuts hold hands, their cute little shell bodies in a sea of pink hearts.

“Not good enough.” I scan the table looking for something better and spot a pile of old movies scattered over the next table. I move them aside one by one, looking for a good title. Sunlight dances across the table and glints off something shiny. A blue flower with a yellow center. My heart jumps, the only part of me still moving. It can’t be. Surely Dad didn’t pawn it or give it to Al. He wouldn’t. He couldn’t. It can’t possibly have been made into something else.

A small noise of surprise escapes my lax mouth, and a memory flashes into my mind: the pendant lying on Mom’s pillow the day she disappeared.

Will chuckles from the corner. I drag my gaze away from the flower brooch to see a bright pink pith hat sitting atop his sandy head. He eyes my open palm, which now holds the brooch. “You call that weird?”

I run my fingers over the cool glazed metal, and a lump grows in my throat. “It’s the same as the forget-me-not pendant Mom always wore.”

Not missing a beat, he raises his voice toward the back of the shop. “How much?”

Al pauses in his perusal of the paper, two fingertips touching his tongue as if to dampen them as he flicks a page over. His bushy eyebrows lift, and he clears his throat.

“Gosh, lad, for that?” I hold up the brooch, and Al squints at it. “It’s for Mae?” He smiles at me.

“Yep.” Will pulls his wallet out, and empties the coins into his cupped hand.

“Nothing,” Al says, then flicks his gaze to me. “Tell your Dad poker’s on tomorrow night. All the boys are coming.”

I return his smile with a nod. “Sure thing, Al.”

“Take care, Mae.” He doesn’t mention today’s Mom’s anniversary—the day she disappeared, but he doesn’t have to. Even though he never knew her, I’ve always suspected it’s why he took me and Dad under his wing. Especially after Nan died; her death upended the last slither of normalcy we had.

“No refunds….” Al says.

“Without magic,” I chime in on his usual farewell. No wonder people think he’s crazy, since he’s always saying stupid things. A sign hangs on the wall above the counter mimicking his words. No refunds without magic.

We walk out the door, and the bell jingles. “You owe me cake,” Will says.

“I do not. The brooch won.”

“No way, the peanuts definitely—”

“The peanuts did not beat the skating owl,” I say, and we both laugh.

I want to go home. I want to go straight to mom’s pendant. I want to compare it to this brooch, but I promised Will cake and coffee. He’d understand, but it wouldn’t be fair after dragging him out here. Although it makes me a little impatient, I’ll wait.

Giveaway

Enter to win one of two Forget Me Not ebooks or a $10 Amazon gift card.

About Book Two

Remember Me by Stacey Nash

Genre: YA/Fantasy/Speculative Fiction

Published October 1st, 2014

When all is lost, she must remember…

Anamae Gilbert managed to thwart The Collective and rescue her father, even though his mind is now a shell. Determined to stop Councilor Manvyke hurting her family again, she’s training to become an active resistance member and enjoying a growing romance. But things never sail along smoothly – Manvyke wants retribution. And Anamae’s name is high on his list.

After a blow to the head, she awakes in an unfamiliar location. Anamae can’t remember the last few weeks and she can’t believe the fascinating new technology she’s seeing. She’s the new kid at school and weapons training comes with ease, but something feels off. Why does the other new kid’s smile make her heart ache?

And why does she get the feeling these people are deadly?

About Stacey

Stacey Nash writes adventure filled stories for Young Adults in the Science Fiction and Fantasy genres. When her head isn’t stuck in a fictional world, she calls the Hunter Valley of New South Wales home. It is an area nestled between mountains and vineyards, full of history and culture that all comes together to create an abundance of writing inspiration. Stacey loves nothing more than writing when inspiration strikes.

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Stacey Nash


Review: ‘Scarlet’ by Marissa Meyer

Scarlet

Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison — even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her.

As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

I reviewed Cinder less than three months ago and now, having read Scarlet, I have one regret about that first review — that I already gave Cinder five stars, because there’s nowhere left to go with Scarlet. It deserves at least half a star more than the original. But I don’t want to adjust the rating for Cinder down either, as it was an excellent book in its own right.

The thing that made me enjoy Scarlet more was that the predictability that came with the Cinderella story — that she’d go to a ball and lose her (ahem) “glass slipper”* — was less obvious in Scarlet. Partly that’s because Queen Levana’s evil scheme is hotting up, and the political intrigue and world events of this awesome sci-fi Earth have more of their own life. Partly that’s because the elements of Little Red Riding Hood that Scarlet’s story pay homage to are woven in a little more loosely. There’s a girl with a red hoodie, a street fighter named “Wolf” from a gang of “wolves”, and a missing grandmother. But no woodcutter to speak of. Unless Thorne was meant to be the woodcutter…? If he was, I missed it!

That being said, I saw almost all of the plot twist coming. I don’t think it was telegraphed as clearly as was the one in Cinder; maybe it was just a lucky guess. My suspicions didn’t undermine my enjoyment of the book, though. (I also have my suspicions about who will play the part of Rapunzel in the next book, Cress, but I’ve only just ordered it, so I’ll have to wait and see. 😉 )

We have a few new characters in this book. I’ve already said how much I love Cinder, Kai and Iko, and all three are in this, some in particularly delightful ways (if you’ve read the book I’m sure you can guess what I mean). Scarlet is a fiery redhead of the old school of fiery redheads — she carries a gun and isn’t afraid to use it, and when we first encounter her she’s throwing tomatoes against a wall in a fit of rage. She’s rash, but loves her grandmother more than anyone in the world. Still, I really liked her, if not quite as much as I did Cinder. Wolf is the most beautifully depicted broken bad boy I have ever seen; tragic, dangerous and torn, he really struggles throughout the book with his attraction for Scarlet. (Ok, that’s a spoiler, but a tiny one — of course the boy is interested in the girl; it’s a YA novel! Also, it’s in the blurb. Phew, I’m ok.)

And Captain Thorne…well, I couldn’t shake the mental image of Captain Jack from Doctor Who and Torchwood. Although his ship was more like Serenity from the movie of the same name (and the TV show Firefly) — it even had two transport pods, a medbay located off the cargo hold, and an engine that sounded very similar to Serenity’s, full of cables going everywhere and an engine that rotated in the open.

I think I loved the ship more than any other character, for that reason. You can’t take the sky from me! ❤

Uh, sorry, got a little sidetracked there. Five stars.

* Note: if you haven’t read the first book, no, that isn’t a euphemism for anything naughty. The most either of these books have in them is kissing.

Five stars


Double cover reveal: ‘Forget Me Not’ and ‘Remember Me’ by Stacey Nash

Those of you who have followed me for more than, like, five minutes will know that I’m a big fan of Stacey Nash. She’s one of the co-founders of Aussie Owned and Read — it was her that invited me to take part — and she beta read Lucid Dreaming for me. She received her contract offer for Forget Me Not at the same time as I received one for Isla’s Inheritance. I was lucky enough to sign with Turquoise Morning Press rather than the doomed Press Which Shall Not Be Named.

Stacey wasn’t so lucky. Not long after FMN released, her press folded.

But then this absolutely crazy thing happened. At around this time, Stacey was contacted by someone at Harper Collins. She’d subbed FMN there over a year earlier, and they wanted it for their new digital imprint. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeee! It’s pretty much the perfect fairy tale ending, and it couldn’t have happened to a nicer human. That’s why I’m over the moon to be part of the cover reveal for the new (and much prettier!) Forget Me Not, as well as for Remember Me.

Both of which are available for preorder (something I’ve totally done already). Go go go!

Anamae is drawn into a world which shatters everything she knew to be true.

Since her mother vanished nine years ago, Anamae and her father have shared a quiet life. But when Anamae discovers a brooch identical to her mother’s favorite pendant, she unknowingly invites a slew of trouble into their world. They’re not just jewellery, they’re part of a highly developed technology capable of cloaking the human form. Triggering the jewellery’s power attracts the attention of a secret society determined to confiscate the device – and silence everyone who is aware of its existence. Anamae knows too much, and now she’s Enemy Number One.

She’s forced to leave her father behind when she’s taken in by a group determined to keep her safe. Here Anamae searches for answers about this hidden world. With her father kidnapped and her own life on the line, Anamae must decide if saving her dad is worth risking her new friends’ lives. No matter what she does, somebody is going to get hurt.

When all is lost, she must remember…

Anamae Gilbert managed to thwart The Collective and rescue her father, even though his mind is now a shell. Determined to stop Councilor Manvyke hurting her family again, she’s training to become an active resistance member and enjoying a growing romance. But things never sail along smoothly – Manvyke wants retribution. And Anamae’s name is high on his list.

After a blow to the head, she awakes in an unfamiliar location. Anamae can’t remember the last few weeks and she can’t believe the fascinating new technology she’s seeing. She’s the new kid at school and weapons training comes with ease, but something feels off. Why does the other new kid’s smile make her heart ache?

And why does she get the feeling these people are deadly?

About Stacey

Stacey Nash (3)Stacey Nash writes adventure filled stories for Young Adults in the Science Fiction and Fantasy genres. When her head isn’t stuck in a fictional world, she calls the Hunter Valley of New South Wales home. It is an area nestled between mountains and vineyards, full of history and culture that all comes together to create an abundance of writing inspiration. Stacey loves nothing more than writing when inspiration strikes.

Website | Twitter | Facebook


Cover reveal: ‘Tethered’ by Pippa Jay

She can kill with a kiss. But can assassin Tyree also heal one man’s grief, and bring peace to a galaxy threatened by war?

For Tyree of the Su, being an assassin isn’t simply something she was trained for. It’s the sole reason for her existence. A genetically enhanced clone—one of many in Refuge—she’s about to learn her secluded lifestyle, and that of all her kind, is under threat by a race capable of neutralizing their special talents to leave them defenseless.

For Zander D’joren, being a diplomat has not only cost him his appearance, but also the love of his life. Scarred, grieving, he must nonetheless continue in his role as co-delegate to the fearsome Tier-vane or risk a conflict that could only end one way.

Now both of them need to keep each other alive and maintain a perilous deception long enough to renegotiate the treaty with the Tier-vane, or throw their people into a war that could wipe out Terrans and Inc-Su alike. But there’s more at stake than humanity, whether true or modified. Can the love growing between them save them both? Or merely hasten their destruction?

A science fiction romance novella, coming from Breathless Press 25th July.

Add it to your Goodreads shelf HERE.

Sign up to Pippa’s no-spam newsletter HERE to get early sneak peeks at covers, and news of the latest releases, giveaways and contest.

Tethered_600x900

Excerpt

A thrill of excitement shivered down her spine as she backed away a few steps with Zander following. He shrugged off his formal outer robes, and for the first time she could appreciate the broad expanse of his chest, the close-fitting fabric stretched over well-defined muscles. It appeared he hadn’t allowed his physique to slacken, despite leaving the Galactic Commission.

“Are you ready?” she asked.

Zander spread his hands in an open gesture to say that he was.

So why is he just standing there like a defunct Manikin instead of poised to fight?

Tyree took her combat position and Zander matched her, just as the Manikin had done. She’d never fought a human in combat practice before. This should be interesting.

She sprang forward and aimed two rapid punches at his face. Zander evaded both with a speed and grace totally out of proportion to his bulk. Her third he blocked with little effort, and she stepped back to reassess her strategy. But only for an instant.

A quick step forward and she lashed upward with her foot, snapping his head back. Zander staggered but didn’t fall. Her second kick failed as he grabbed her ankle and jerked her off balance. She twisted as she dropped and caught him hard in the knee. Zander collapsed. Both rolled aside, and then jumped up to face each other again.

Not bad.

Tyree bit back a laugh as they exchanged blows, each faster than the last. Zander blocked or evaded most, but not all. His skill almost matched hers, yet his defenses were just a fraction too slow. Each move she made tested his reach, his reflexes and his stamina until she could sense him struggling a little.

Time for the kill.

She floored him with a kick to the chest, the full weight of her augmented density behind it, but as she moved in to finish the fight he dove into her. Tyree landed on her back hard enough to drive the breath from her lungs.

Zander had her pinned to the ground. She bucked but couldn’t shift him. The triumphant smile on his face sent rage blazing through her gut. With hardly a whisper, she Misted out and went through him. Golden warmth filled her for a second before she pulled free. Zander pushed to his feet and spun to meet her, but she cranked up her molecular density and punched him hard in the chest. He collapsed, gasping and coughing. In one fluid movement she sat astride him at full density, and the air whumphed out of his lungs. She pinioned his arms with her hands, her face hovering mere centimeters above his.

As her breathing slowed to normal, a huge grin split her face. She’d made a vow to herself to jump him, and she’d done it. Perhaps it was childish, but it warmed her heart.

“Your…reputation…is well deserved,” he gasped.

“You’re not so bad yourself,” she complimented him. He’d fought well, but perhaps not quite with the determination—and certainly not the desperation—of most opponents she’d faced. “For a human.”

“Thank you. Perhaps we could try this again tomorrow?”

Tyree laughed. As much as he could irritate the hell out of her, he was equally amusing. “If you want to spend most of your morning on the floor…”

He gazed up at her with that easy smile, making no effort to struggle. Most humans, without the influence of her pheromones and the distraction of her naked body writhing above theirs, would not have been so trusting. So compliant. She found herself staring at his mouth. What would it be like to kiss him, without the use of her talents? Would it be as satisfying? As sensual? The warmth of him, the firmness of his body beneath hers, sent heat spiraling through her abdomen.

“Perhaps you could let me up now?” His words jerked her from such musings. What the hell was she thinking?

About Pippa

Pippa JayAfter spending twelve years working as an Analytical Chemist in a Metals and Minerals laboratory, Pippa Jay is now a stay-at-home mum who writes scifi and the supernatural. Somewhere along the way a touch of romance crept into her work and refused to leave. In between torturing her plethora of characters, she spends the odd free moment playing guitar very badly, punishing herself with freestyle street dance, and studying the Dark Side of the Force. Although happily settled in the historical town of Colchester in the UK with her husband of 21 years and three little monsters, she continues to roam the rest of the Universe in her head.

Pippa Jay is a dedicated member of the Science Fiction Romance Brigade, blogging at Spacefreighters Lounge, Adventures in Scifi, and Romancing the Genres. Her works include a YA science fiction novel—Gethyon—published through BURST (Champagne Books), two self-published short stories (Terms & Conditions Apply and The Bones of the Sea), and she’s one of eight authors included in a science fiction romance anthology—Tales from the SFR Brigade. She’s also a double SFR Galaxy Award winner, been a finalist in the Heart of Denver RWA Aspen Gold Contest (3rd place), and the GCC RWA Silken Sands Star Awards (2nd place).

You can stalk her at her website http://pippajay.co.uk, or at her blog http://pippajay.blogspot.co.uk, but without doubt her favorite place to hang around and chat is on Twitter as @pippajaygreen.


This Writer’s Space: Stacey Nash

This Writer's Space

Today on This Writer’s Space, we have one of my very favourite sci-fi, young adult and Aussie writers — ALL ROLLED INTO ONE PERSON! It’s Stacey Nash!

Where I Write

When you’re a writer, you need easy and fast access to your writing space and when you’re a mother it means you need to be all-seeing. So… my writing space is at the kitchen table. My laptop is set up on a corner where I can see through the bulk of the house and watch the kids when I’m not playing with them. It’s also nice and accessible for when a burning idea strikes me mid-jigsaw puzzle or Lightening McQueen reenactment.

Stacey_write

Where I’m Inspired

I could give any number of photos for places where I find my inspiration, because I draw inspiration from all around me. Plot points and story ideas come to me in shower, when I’m driving, when I’m sleeping / dreaming, and even when I’m pegging the washing out. It seems nowhere is safe from the onslaught of plot bunnies. But I’ve decided to go with a photo of the view from my backyard, because really… it’s the beauty around me that I find most inspiring. There are snippets of scenery in all of my books from places I’ve seen, or lived or visited. This is where I call home, The Hunter Valley.

Stacey_inspired

To Be Read

No one photograph is big enough to contain my to be read pile, so I’ve made you a pretty collage. This year I’ve vowed not to buy books until I’m ready to read them. So my Goodreads ‘to read’ list is the most accurate of the order I intend to read. But then there’s the unread folder on my kindle app, and the one on my iBooks app, oh and lets not forget the physical TBR. Enjoy my collage. 🙂

Stacey_TBR

Stacey TBR

About Stacey

Stacey Nash writes adventure-filled stories for Young Adults in the Science Fiction and Fantasy genres. She calls the state of New South Wales in Australia home. Her debut novel, Forget Me Not, re-releases in August 2014 from HarperCollins Impulse and its sequel Remember Me release October 2014.

Website | Twitter | Facebook

Stacey Nash (3)