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Blog Tour: A Conventicle of Magpies by L.M.R. Clarke @lmrclarkeauthor @RRBookTours1 @castrumpress #RRBookTours #AConventicleofMagpies #Bloodskills

I am thrilled to share this amazing new book! A Conventicle of Magpies is the first book in the Bloodskills duology, and today we have an exclusive excerpt for you, and a chance to win a signed copy of the book!

A Conventicle of Magpies by L.M.R. Clarke
(Bloodskill Duology #1)
Genre: Gaslamp Fantasy/ Adventure/ Steampunk
Publication Date: January 6th, 2021

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Rook is a thief, and entirely unapologetic about it as she’s determined to do anything to ensure her mother and siblings survive the squalid and dangerous streets of Stamchester.

Rook slips in and out of the homes of the ruling elite of Stamchester, the Avanish,like a shadow taking what she needs without regret.

Why should she? Had the Avanish not stolen her own people, the Saouiasei, from their own homes years before and transported them across the ocean to Stamchester to work as virtual slaves?

And, now the Avanish had no more use for Rook and her people, where they not determined to dispose of them?

The Avanish had already laid waste to a swathe of Saouiasei homes, a region which had become known as ‘The Scar’, in an attempt to drive them out?

However, Rook was not the only person hiding in the shadows. A far more dangerous figure was haunting the filthy streets of Stamchester striking fear into Avanish and Saouiasei alike; Billy Drainer, a serial killer who not only murdered his victims but drained them of every ounce of their precious, life giving blood.

For within blood was a highly sought-after commodity, the ability to enhance a person’s natural abilities through the art of Bloodskill. To be faster and stronger than a normal person was something those with money were willing to pay handsomely for.

‘A Conventicle of Magpies’ is a fast-paced gaslamp fantasy adventure set in a Victorian-inspired world. Perfect for fans of Charlie N. Holmberg’s Spellbreaker and Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.

Safe and sound in the Magpie’s Nest, Rook divested herself of her corseted dress and heels and returned to the comfort of a shirt and trousers. The young woman fell into an armchair, threw her booted feet onto the battered coffee table, and plucked up a newspaper. Even though she’d been out all day, she hadn’t seen the latest in the Stamchester Review. As she scanned the page, Rook shook her head, and a lock of black hair fell over her face.

YET ANOTHER BLOODLESS CORPSE

At two o’clock this morning, a police constable came upon the scene of yet another gruesome murder. The body, which has not yet been identified, was found on the southbank end of the Buxridge Bridge. Like the other five bodies found in similar circumstances over the last few months, the corpse appeared to be drained of every last ounce of blood. Suspicion for this killing falls once more on the elusive fiend known only as Billy Drainer, although Inspector Kip Kerstammen declined to comment on this observation.

Rook licked her thumb and flicked to the next page. Inches and inches of news stretched through the broadsheet, as always full of sensationalism and very little fact. Only two parties enjoyed Stamchester’s string of murders: so-called Billy Drainer himself, whoever he was, and the newspapers. Both made significant gains from the events. News was always a profitable commodity in Stamchester, but blood was more valuable than gold. Those corpses weren’t bloodless for no reason.

A cough came from the doorway. Rook glanced up from the grim columns. A slim figure stood in the doorway, a tiny girl at the end of her teenage years. Pigeon stood in the low doorframe that led to the main Nest bar and jerked her head. The action sent her mass of dark curls tumbling to one side.

GIVEAWAY!!

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Click the link below for a chance to win a signed edition of A Conventicle of Magpies

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I received a copy of this book from the Author and R&R Book Tours, in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

A Conventicle of Magpies is the first book in the Bloodskill duology by L.M.R. Clarke.

This is a Gaslamp Fantasy story.  Gaslamp fantasy takes the historical elements from Victorian London and has a science twist.  

This story takes place in the town of Stamchester. A generation ago the Avanish have conquered this area and they brought the  Saosuíasei people over to work for them.  Now the government wants to rid itself of the Saosuíasei people. What they have not counted on is the Conventicle of Magpies and the Shadow Jaguars. 

This story was amazing!  Being a lover of steampunk I knew I would love a gaslamp fantasy novel.  And just look at that cover.

Once I got going in this book I found it hard to put down.  I was sucked into this world fully, the storytelling is wonderful and I was able to picture this setting with ease.  I loved Rook and Kestrel’s friendship and all of the mystery surrounding Rook’s family. I can not wait to find out more about all of these characters in book 2.  

Something is mentioned casually towards the end of the book so I am hoping to see an alliance form in the next book!

I’m LMR Clarke, though you can call me Rain, and I’m a writer from Northern Ireland. I’m thirty-something, a parent, and a teacher. I love books and I also draw.

I’m an enby (non-binary) and am still finding my way! My stories are all about identity and acceptance and trying to find your place in the world.

LMR ClarkeTwitter | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube

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New Releases · Promotions

Blog Tour: The Haunting of Gallagher Hotel by K.T. Rose @kyrobooks @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTour

We are thrilled to share this amazing new novel by K.T. Rose! The Haunting of Gallagher Hotel just proves that ghost stories are perfect any time of the year! 

Read on for an exclusive peek and an amazing giveaway to enter! 

The Haunting of Gallagher Hotel by K.T. Rose
Publication Date: November 5th, 2020
Genre: Supernatural Horror/ Paranormal

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Pride and greed infect the soul, anchoring the dead to Gallagher Hotel.

When Chris, a master thief, and Riley, a contract waitress, get mysterious invites to an exclusive party at the haunted Gallagher Hotel, they discover that there is more at play than simple celebrations.

Hidden truths are revealed, and all hell breaks loose. But the “party” has just begun.

Now, Chris and Riley face their demons as they fight to survive a hellish nightmare full of spoiled secrets, carnage, and vengeful spirits lost to the hotel dating back to the turn of the 20th century.

Will they survive the night? Or will their souls be devoured by the most haunted building in Michigan?

Chapter One

She’ll never forget the day she died.

Torches lit up the town square, illuminating scowling and shouting faces. The townspeople launched stones and spit, pegging Trudy’s arms and face as she trudged through the abhorrent mob. She cringed when a pebble struck her cheek. Pain erupted, shooting through her face like lightning striking the earth.  

Deputy Hill yanked her arm, leading her through the narrow path the townspeople created. Fists balled, Trudy groaned as the rope around her wrists dug into her skin. Her bare feet picked up glass shards and debris from the cobblestone path as she shuffled along.  

She glared around at the angry faces and recognized the men, women, and children of Holloway. She’d done more for them than any God before her. Many of those people owned the very businesses that lined the stone slab she marched across that night. Building and financing the rows of wooden businesses lining the town’s square accounted for half the things she’d done for Holloway. She fed the hungry, made clothes for cold children, and taught woman’s independence. The ever-growing list of the townspeople’s wants was endless. At one point, she didn’t mind the busy work. Fulfilling dreams of the once poor town kept her boisterous and distracted from her bitter reality. Trudy was Holloway’s personal shepherd, making the people her needy sheep.  

Hands snagged at her lavender tea gown, adding dirty prints to the blood drops and grime from the beatings in that putrid cell. She glared at the bare-faced man towering over her. The brim of his deputy hat cast a thick shadow, hiding his dark eyes and pale face.  

Deputy would miss her. She was sure of it. He got off on the assaults that bruised her face. His heavy fists pounded her bones and scraped her skin until she confessed. And even after her confession, he continued with his evening visits, slamming her body into cinder block walls and passing off open-handed blows to her nose, cheeks, and eyes.  

Trudy sighed. A bath with lavender and Epsom salt sounded good for the swelling. She didn’t realize how bloated and purple her once beautiful, fairly smooth skin had become until she passed by the picture window in front of the town’s jail just before they began her walk of shame. Her dark hair matted to her forehead, washed by sweat and blood. Her plump lips were chapped and bloated with bruises.  

Even then, her face pulsed with intense hurt. Pain shot through it whenever she winced. 

The sea of convictions roared, growing louder as she drew closer to the opposite end of the square.  

“Adulterer,” yelled a woman. 

“Traitor,” screeched a boy. 

“Murderer,” said a pot-bellied man. 

Their accusations sent a sickening jolt through her bones. She watched the path underneath her slowing feet, fighting back the tears. 

How could they turn on me like this? 

GIVEAWAY!!

Swag Bundle & $10 Amazon GC (International)

ENTER HERE!!

K.T. Rose is a horror, thriller, and dark fiction writer from Detroit, Michigan. She posts suspense and horror flash fiction on her blog at kyrobooks.com and is the author of a suspenseful short story series titled Trinity of Horror, an erotic thriller novel titled When We Swing, and A Dark Web Horror Series. She also writes supernatural and paranormal horror novels and short stories. 

Amazon | Website/blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest

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Blog Tour: Rejuvenation by Byddi Lee @Byddi @castrumpress @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #Rejuventation

To celebrate the release of the final instalment in Byddi Lee’s gripping Dystopian trilogy, we’re going back to where it all started in Rejuvenation! 

Rejuvenation by Byddi Lee
Publication Date: March 23, 2020
Genre: Dystopian Sci-Fi
Publisher: Castrum Press

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The Melter War has left the Earth’s surface devastated, leaving humanity to survive on what little land is left between the Scorch Zones and the rising oceans, where towering scubscrapers dot the dystopian shorelines.

Bobbie Chan is a doctor caring for the ultra-elderly in one such subscraper when she notices a mysterious, new disease afflicting her patients; some show signs of age reversal before a catastrophic, and often fatal, cardiac arrest strikes.

Bobbie begins to wonder if she is witnessing a bio weapon in full force. A Melter attack? Are they destined to finish the war they started?

Bobbie begins a race against time to rescue the Rejuvenees and uncover their true enemy.

How Irish Legends Inspired A Science Fiction Trilogy About Getting Younger.

As I was growing up, the  Irish legends that captured my imagination most were not the daring-does of Cuchulainn – The Hound of Ulster nor the stories of Macha – the queen who gave her name to my home town Armagh. In fact, the ancient warriors and royalty didn’t interest me at all, but those stories that involved distorted ageing and extended longevity did. It was an indulgence of sorts to weave the essence of these stories into The Rejuvenation Trilogy.

Rejuvenation is set in a dystopian future. There are matter streamers to provide food, hovercrafts for transportation, and carebots to tend to the frail. Against this backdrop of technology, we see a society that is top-heavy with an aged population. People still yearn to be and stay young.

The Irish fairy tales have stood the test of time and inspire the children of that era, such as our main characters, Bobbie and Gracie, fraternal twins. Gracie suffers from a rapid ageing disease called Progeria and is particularly drawn to the stories of  Tír na nÓg, the Land of the Forever Young that’s far across the waves and can only be reached by a magic horse as she explains to Bobbie…

‘“I’m no angel,” Gracie said, grinning. “I’m one of the little people, a leprechaun! And I’m going to escape to Tír na nÓg.”
“To where?” Bobbie asked.
“The land of everlasting youth. Everyone is beautiful and young there, and when I go there, I’ll look just like you,” Gracie said. “But with black hair, like Daddy.”
“How do you know all this?”
“I read about it on the Internet.”
“Can I come?” Bobbie couldn’t imagine being anywhere without Gracie.
“Yes, but you’ll have to wait until when you’re old. Like me.” Gracie’s fuchsia pink dress reflected off her skin, giving her bare, veined scalp an ethereal glow.
“But you’re only nine. We’re the same age.”
“Yes, but I’m the one who’s a fairy, remember? I’ll watch over you from Tír na nÓg. Time passes slower there than it does in Armagh, so it will only feel like ten minutes to me before you’re there, too.”’

Excerpt from Rejuvenation Book 1

The Children of Lir is another example of a legend that tells of excessive ageing and longevity. Lir’s children are turned into swans by their stepmother and sent into exile for three hundred years. They returned to their home in Ireland and resumed human form – as three-hundred-year-old humans – then they died. I’m grossly paraphrasing, but nonetheless, it’s a tragic tale.

We find out early in Rejuvenation Book 1 that Gracie died at the age of 13 from her condition. Her death left a lasting effect on her twin sister Bobbie who, feeling she had acquired a special understanding of ageing because of Gracie, went on to become a geriatrician. In Rejuvenation Book 2, Bobbie uses the fairy tale of the Children of Lir to try to make sense of ageing and death in the real world, a challenge for her since she sees both daily in her job.

Other Irish fairy tales hold more promise, like the one about Fionn Mc Cool being tricked by the old witch, the Calliagh Berra on top of Slieve Gullion, the highest mountain in County Armagh. As the story goes, one day Fionn found a young woman crying by the lake at the top of the mountain. When he asked her why she said she’d dropped her gold ring into the lake. Being the hero he was, he jumped in after it. But the girl was the old witch who was jealous of her sister for being in love with Fionn. The witch had put a spell on the lake so that when Fionn came out, he had aged to become a withered old man with white hair. But Fionn’s followers made the witch reverse the spell, and he became young again.

The Rejuvenation Trilogy is all about regaining lost youth and its consequences. Bobbie’s most elderly patients contract a strange disease which proves fatal to some but others, including her Granny, survive and become younger, fitter and psychopathic!

I was drawn to the idea that eternal youth wasn’t exactly the be-all and end-all and wanted to explore the gifts that come with age. In a society that values the beauty of youth, that’s quite a challenge, but even the Irish legends will have us realise that the beauty of youth is only skin deep as in the story of Oisin, Fionn Mc Cool’s son.

As the story goes, Oisín falls in love with Niamh, a woman of the Otherworld. She takes him across the waves on a magic horse to Tír na nÓg. After what feels like three years to Oisín, he becomes homesick and wants to return to Ireland. Niamh warns him to stay on the magic horse and never to touch the ground. But when Oisín returns, he discovers that 300 years have passed in Ireland. He falls from the horse and instantly ages. As the years catch up with him, he quickly dies.

In Rejuvenation Book 1 this same legend is reflected in several instances of age catching up quickly on a youthful body and although this legend is not actually recounted, it forms the basis of some of Bobbie’s nightmares.

‘By the time Death carried Gracie to Tír na nÓg four years later, Bobbie had read scores of legends about the Land of the Forever Young. Alone in the bedroom, Bobbie had once shared with Gracie, she’d jolt awake after dreaming of her twin sister returning for her on a white horse, young and beautiful, her black hair billowing out behind her. Bobbie would reach for Gracie, but as their hands touched, Gracie’s hair would turn white, her skin would wrinkle, her body crumple as she died all over again from old age.’

Excerpt from Rejuvenation Book 1

I think ultimately the idea of folding the old fairly tales into a high-tech dystopian future is a metaphor for life – we can’t forge ahead and embrace the new and the vivacious unless we can carry with us and learn from the stories and wisdom from years gone by.

Byddi Lee

Byddi Lee grew up in Armagh and moved to Belfast to study at Queen’s University. She has since lived in South Africa, Canada, California and Paris before returning to live in her hometown, Armagh.

Her Rejuvenation Trilogy, is published by Castrum Press and Rejuvenation Book One, Book Two and Book Three all available now. Book One is also out in audiobook.

She has published flash fiction, short stories and, in 2014, her novel, March to November.  Byddi has also co-written the play IMPACT – Armagh’s Train Disaster with Malachi Kelly and Tim Hanna. IMPACT was directed by Margey Quinn and staged by the Armagh Theatre Group in the Abbey Lane Theatre June 2019.

During the COVID 19 pandemic when all theatres were closed, Byddi teamed up with Malachi and Tim to write Zoomeo & Juliet and Social Bubble Toil & Trouble suitable for live performance delivered through Zoom, produced by Margery Quinn and performed by the Armagh Theatre Group.

Byddi is a co-founder of the spoken word event Flash Fiction Armagh and is co-editor of The Bramley – An Anthology of Flash Fiction Armagh.

Sign up to Byddi’s newletter for more details of release dates.

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