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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!!

(International)
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

February 1st
Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com
Books Rambling and Tea (Review) https://booksramblingsandtea.com/
Debjani’s Thoughts (Spotlight) https://debjanisthoughts.wordpress.com/
Phantom of the Library (Review) https://phantomofthelibrary.com/
@brendajeancombs (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/brendajeancombs/
The Faerie Review (Spotlight) http://www.thefaeriereview.com

February 2nd
Gwendalyn’s Books (Review) https://gwendalynbooks.blog/
I Smell Sheep (Review) http://www.ismellsheep.com/
Breakeven Books (Spotlight) https://breakevenbooks.com
Nesie’s Place (Spotlight) https://nesiesplace.wordpress.com
I’m All About Books (Spotlight) https://imallaboutbooks.com/

February 3rd
Rambling Mads (Review) http://ramblingmads.com
@better_0ff_read (Spotlight w/ Review to follow) https://www.instagram.com/BETTER_0FF_READ/
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February 4th
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Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com/
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February 5th
@ypsylynn (Spotlight w/ Review to Follow) https://www.instagram.com/jypsylynn/
Bonnie Reads & Writes (Review) https://bonniereadsandwrites.wordpress.com
The Invisible Moth (Review) https://daleydowning.wordpress.com
Michelle Meng’s Book Blog 3 (Review) http://michellemengsbookblog3.simplesite.com/
@hoardingbooks.herdingcats (Review)  https://www.instagram.com/hoardingbooks.herdingcats/

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New Releases

Waiting On Wednesday: All Down But Nine by Kat Ross

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting On Wednesday was a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine. Each Wednesday you got to highlight a book that you were really looking forward to. Unfortunately, the original creator is no longer able to host the meme and it has now linked up with Can’t Wait Wednesday over at Wishful Endings.

This week I’ve chosen:

All Down But Nine by Kat Ross
(Lingua Magika #2)
Genre: Steampunk, Fantasy
Expected Publication: December 26, 2020

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HARD TO CATCH. HARDER TO KEEP.

Lee Merriweather has fled across the line into Pedro Braga’s jurisdiction, an untamed desert too vast for even the ruthless Guardia Territorial to keep any semblance of order. The Carnarvons want him dead or alive – and with Lee’s attitude, the first seems most likely.

The trail south runs straight through two thousand miles of badlands. To find him, Ruth and Sebastian must survive sabotage, bloodthirsty bandits, and fresh horrors at the Reverend Jolly’s church in New Jerusalem. The hardships draw them into a passionate affair, but loyalties are put to the test when they finally reach the capital of Aguadulce and all hell breaks loose.

Ruth has privately vowed to stop Sebastian from killing Lee, even as the young savant seems bent on his own destruction. And he’s just a pawn in a game with higher stakes than anyone realizes. One that goes beyond empires. One that encompasses worlds.

The phantoms are the key. But can Ruth uncover the truth in time to save them all?

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Reviews

Review: One Flew Through the Dragon Heart by C.S. Johnson

Book Review

One Flew Through the Dragon Heart by C.S. Johnson
(Favan & Flew #1)
Steampunk, Fantasy, Romance

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Synopsis
A Chinese Legend.

A British Secret.

Star-Crossed Lovers with Incompatible Magic. 

Brixton Flew works as a professor of wielder instruction at Rembrandt Academy, hoping to erase the regrets of his youth along with the resulting debt. But when he comes face to face with his biggest regret—the woman who broke his heart, Adelaide Favan—Brixton soon realizes his troubles have only begun.

Unable to control her magic, Adelaide knew leaving Brixton was the only way to protect him when they were younger. Now she discovers he is the key to recovering the Dragon Eyes, a legendary treasure connected to her magic and her family’s disgraced legacy—and she knows the risk is great, to both his life and her heart.

With others seeking the power of the Dragon Eyes, Brixton and Adelaide must outwit their foes and face down their families to save London from an ancient legend that sleeps beneath the magic portal in their city.

But the renewed passion growing between them may prove to be the greater peril …

What I thought
I received a copy of this book from Laura at Unicorn Questor and the Author as part of a Bookstagram Tour, in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Do you want: a unique take on Steampunk London, color magic, and second chance romance? Then look no further.  

I have read books by this author before so I knew that I was going to like the book but what I did not expect was to like it as much as I did.  I am a fan of steampunk books and I have to say that I can be picky because I know what kinds of things I like, and this book gave me that and more. 

I loved this take on Victorian London, and how the author was able to mix the magic and steampunk elements together and make it all work so well. I loved the family elements and how Brixton and Adelaide interact.  

I really hope the author decides to continue this series.  I love these characters and I can not wait to see what is in store for them.  I can see so many directions that future books can take not just with these two characters but branching off for storylines about Luella she was a strong character in her own way and the book just would not have been the same without her.

My Rating: /5

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Reviews

Review: Brass Carriages and Glass Hearts by Nancy Campbell Allen

Book Review

Brass Carriages and Glass Hearts
by Nancy Campbell Allen
(Steampunk Proper Romance #4)
Fantasy, Steampunk, Romance, Historical

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Synopsis
A steampunk retelling of Cinderella.

Emmeline O’Shea is determined to save the world—single-handedly, if necessary. A strong voice for societal reform, she is the natural choice to deliver a key speech at the end of the International Shifter Rights Organization’s week-long Summit in Scotland.

But when a death threat arrives at Emme’s home, she is immediately placed into protective custody, watched over by none other than her personal nemesis, Detective-Inspector Oliver Reed. The two have crossed paths many times, with disastrous results, but now they will have to work together in order to reach the Summit before midnight of the last day in order to ensure legislation is passed to protect the Shifter community.

As unseen enemies close in around Emme and Oliver, they struggle to reach Edinburgh by any means necessary, only to find Emme’s vindictive stepsister, Oliver’s vampire brother, and a dangerous political minefield awaiting them in Scotland.

Even more difficult is their own refusal to admit that the fiery animosity that once burned between them might be turning into the heat of romantic passion. Could a straitlaced policeman determined to uphold the law and an outspoken activist willing to break the rules ever find true love? Or will all their dreams shatter like glass when the clock strikes midnight?

What I thought
Thank you Shadow Mountain Publishing and Netgalley for an ARC copy of this book for an honest review.  All thoughts and feelings expressed are my own.

Quick note:  This book can be read as a standalone; however, I highly suggest that you read these books in order.  You will not be lost by any means, but they build on each other just enough that you get so much more out of them in order. And…well…spoilers.

Hands down this is my favorite book in this series.  I now want to go back and re-read the first three books and then read this one again. This is a Steampunk, Proper Romance, Retelling of Cinderella.  Oh, and it’s a hate to love romance, my absolute favorite thing to read.  Once I started reading this book I did not want to put it down.

In this story, we focus on Emme and Oliver.  We get to see how they have interacted in the last 2 years, mostly through conversations and memories. There is a fine line between hate and love both are very strong emotions which they are discovering. There was just something about the way that Emme and Oliver integrated with each other that I loved.  I love how all of the people you have met so far seem to all come together in this book. I had all the feels while reading this book and it made me feel so much better in general.

My only concern is that I think because so much came together in this book that it may be the last one.  I really hope that is not the case.

My Rating: /5

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New Releases

Waiting On Wednesday: Brass Carriages and Glass Hearts by Nancy Campbell Allen

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting On Wednesday was a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine. Each Wednesday you got to highlight a book that you were really looking forward to. Unfortunately, the original creator is no longer able to host the meme and it has now linked up with Can’t Wait Wednesday over at Wishful Endings.

This week I’ve chosen:

Brass Carriages and Glass Hearts
by Nancy Campbell Allen
(Steampunk Proper Romance #4)
Genre: Proper Romance, Steampunk, Fantasy
Expected Publication: October 6, 2020

Add to Goodreads

A steampunk retelling of Cinderella.

Emmeline O’Shea is determined to save the world—single-handedly, if necessary. A strong voice for societal reform, she is the natural choice to deliver a key speech at the end of the International Shifter Rights Organization’s week-long Summit in Scotland.

But when a death threat arrives at Emme’s home, she is immediately placed into protective custody, watched over by none other than her personal nemesis, Detective-Inspector Oliver Reed. The two have crossed paths many times, with disastrous results, but now they will have to work together in order to reach the Summit before midnight of the last day in order to ensure legislation is passed to protect the Shifter community.

As unseen enemies close in around Emme and Oliver, they struggle to reach Edinburgh by any means necessary, only to find Emme’s vindictive stepsister, Oliver’s vampire brother, and a dangerous political minefield awaiting them in Scotland.

Even more difficult is their own refusal to admit that the fiery animosity that once burned between them might be turning into the heat of romantic passion. Could a straitlaced policeman determined to uphold the law and an outspoken activist willing to break the rules ever find true love? Or will all their dreams shatter like glass when the clock strikes midnight?

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Reviews

Review: Champagne Charlie and the Amazing Gladys by B.G. Hilton

Book Review

Champagne Charlie and the Amazing Gladys
by B.G. Hilton
Steampunk, Fantasy

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Synopsis
Hungover aristocrat Edward “Charlie” Decharles awakens in the back of a steam-cab, only to discover that the driver has been murdered. Unused to feeling responsible for anything, he feels compelled to find the killer. As he investigates, he meets “The Amazing” Gladys Dunchurch, a stage magician’s assistant whose employer has disappeared – and not in a good way. They form an alliance – Charlie will help Gladys with his considerable resources and Gladys will help Charlie with her even more considerable brains.

Soon they discover that their respective mysteries are not only connected to each other, but related to other seemingly unrelated strangeness transpiring in London – the murder of an astronomer, an attack on a patent medicine factory, a mysterious cult in an idyllic town, and reports of deadly creatures in the London sewers.

Charlie and Gladys find themselves pitted against dead-eyed assassins, murderous pirates, wingless flying machines, and perhaps even creatures from beyond this Earth. And lurking behind it all lies a sinister cabal that knows the secret origin of the steam-powered society that powers their world. Can our heroes save the day, or will the fallout from that secret destroy two worlds?

Champagne Charlie and the Amazing Gladys is a fun, witty Steampunk adventure yarn, featuring a cast of eccentric characters. 

What I thought
This book was received from the Publisher, in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I was a little worried in the beginning of the book when everything was being set up, I was not sure how I felt about everything that the author was trying to accomplish. However, as the book progressed I began to really like it. It was really a fun read. The witty banter, mostly from Gladys, made the story that much more enjoyable.

This is set in a more traditional steampunk setting aka London; however, the author added in extraterrestrial beings. Yes, steampunk with aliens who would have thought that this would have been something that I really would have enjoyed.

I enjoyed Gladys’s character and I would love to see a book based on Charlie’s mom’s detective stories. I can’t help it, it sounded Holmesian. Gladys are Charlie’s opposites in so many ways and that is why they work so well together. They are able to progress through the story due to the differences and strengths.

The only thing that didn’t sit right with me was the constant telling of how dim everyone thinks Charlie is. No one really saw his potential so he moved through life as if he really didn’t have any. I just feel it was stated way too often.

If you would like to read a steampunk with an alien twist you really should give this one a try.

My Rating: /5

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Reviews

Review: Defy or Defend by Gail Carriger

Book Review

Defy or Defend by Gail Carriger
(Delightfully Deadly #2)
Steampunk, Fantasy, Romance

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Synopsis
A vampire hive descending into madness. A beautiful spy with a sparkly plan. The bodyguard who must keep them from killing each other.

New York Times bestselling romantic comedy author Gail Carriger brings you a charming story of love, espionage, and Gothic makeovers set in her popular Parasolverse.

SPY

Dimity Plumleigh-Teignmott, code name Honey Bee, is the War Office’s best and most decorative fixer. She’s sweet and chipper, but oddly stealthy, and surprisingly effective given the right incentives.

VERSUS KNIGHT

Sir Crispin Bontwee was knighted for his military service, but instead of retiring, he secretly went to work for the War Office. Mostly he enjoys his job, except when he must safeguard the Honey Bee.

Neither one is a vampire expert, but when the Nottingham Hive goes badly Goth, only Dimity can stop their darkness from turning bloody. And only Crispin can stop an enthusiastic Dimity from death by vampire.

In a battle for survival (and wallpaper), Dimity must learn that not all that sparkles is good, while Cris discovers he likes honey a lot more than he thought.

“This intoxicatingly witty parody will appeal to a wide cross-section of romance, fantasy and steampunk fans.” ~ Publishers Weekly, starred review (Soulless)

Spinning off from the Finishing School series, featuring deadly ladies of quality, this story stands alone, but chronologically follows Poison or Protect before the start of the Parasol Protectorate Series. It’s Cold Comfort Farm meets Queer Eye meets What We Do In The Shadows from the hilarious author of the Parasol Protectorate books, perfect for fans of Julia Quinn, Jodi Taylor, or Meljean Brook.

Delicate Sensibilities?

Contains fraternizing vampires and one very curious young lady, who asks about seduction, sometimes in detail but mostly in retrospect. May also involve excessive use of velvet, melodramatic poetry, and the strategic application of interpretive ballet.

What I thought
We finally got a Dimity book!!!

I loved Dimity in the Finishing School books and I always wondered how her story would play out since you could tell that killing was never going to be her thing. I mean she faints at the sight of blood. She was always the fixer putting things back to rights after her friends made a mess of things.

This book had me sucked in from page one. Dimity may have gone in and fixed the hive but when it came to each of the hive members she listened and supported them as they found what made them happy. Which in the end did more for them than new curtains ever could have.

I don’t want to say much more since it is a novella and I don’t want to spoil the whole story for you.

My Rating: /5

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