Star Hero by Susan Grant – New Release

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In the anthology Pets in Space, there is a lovely little story called Stray. It was one of my favorites as it really zinged my heart (made me cry).  The author, Susan Grant, has expanded the story to novella length and with a new title plus its own cover page, Star Hero is being released today.

About Star Hero

First he had to rescue her. Then he’d try to win her back.

A Marine serving in the galactic frontier, Lieutenant Lukas Frank has a lot in common with a street dog named Bang-Bang; they both started off as scrappy orphans fighting to survive–and beat the odds. Things change when Bang-Bang leads Lukas to starpilot Captain Carlynn Riga. The tough war hero learns what it means to surrender–his heart. Lukas’s struggles with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, threaten to tear the three of them apart, but nothing threatens them more than when Carlynn goes missing in action. Now the rugged, emotionally scarred Marine and his K-9 partner must find Carlynn and bring her home, or risk losing everything he has finally found worth fighting for.

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Susan Grant is one of 12 leading scifi romance authors contributing to Embrace the Romance, Pets in Space 2.  The second anthology features pets, people, and romance in a scifi setting.  It will be released on October 10, but you can pre-order now if you like.

10% of the first month’s profits go to Hero-Dogs.org. Hero Dogs raises and trains service dogs and places them free of charge with US Veterans to improve quality of life and restore independence.

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Last Ship Off Polaris-G (Central Galactic Concordance) by Carol Van Natta – Review

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Review by Riley

About Last Ship Off Polaris-G

A bureaucrat and an interstellar trader must overcome treachery and their broken past to save the last inhabitants of a dying planet. Frontier planet Polaris-Gamma is dying, afflicted by a suspiciously-timed blight that destroys all crops. Worse, the whole system is now under military quarantine by the Central Galactic Concordance to prevent the catastrophic blight from spreading. The settlers must escape—or perish.

Caught behind the blockade, independent trader Gavril Danilovich finds his interstellar trading ship commandeered in the desperate plan to escape. He tells himself that’s the only reason he stays, and not because he’s worried about the woman he walked out on two years ago—who still lives on Pol-G.

Government supply depot manager Anitra Helden races to gather the last of Pol-G’s assets. Her plan to launch a mothballed freighter off Pol-G may be crazy—but it can work, if she can talk Gavril into helping. Their precious cargo? Four thousand stranded colonists.

Can Anitra and Gavril, and their ragtag crew get past the deadly military blockade?

It’s a desperate bid for freedom in deadly deep space—get your copy of Last Ship Off Polaris-G today!

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Review of Last Ship Off Polaris-G

One of the things common throughout the series is the constant diversity in the characters. Not just race, but also ethnic background, family arrangements and age. I absolutely love that these characters have some history. Anitra is 55 and Gavin is 56. These are people who have life experiences to give them a basis for their current actions. If you are less than, let’s say 35, you should know that 55- and 56-year old characters are just as interesting as their younger counterparts. And no, they don’t act old. And they are not wise old sages. But they are used to going with the flow and adapting. And it is this process of adaptation that make people grow and become more interesting.

Despite that fact that in this futuristic world, youth-extending treatments are possible, the cover does not match description of the main characters. Gavril is 56 but described as looking 15 years younger – so 41. Anitra is described as looking to be in her early 30s. On the cover both characters look to be in their 20s. So while the books have quite a bit of diversity, the covers do not reflect that diversity. But what do they say? Oh yes, don’t judge a book by its cover.

So I should talk about content.

I’m quite certain, that this is the first time I have read about a failed colonization and a mass exodus. This creative setting leads to all sorts of interesting problems to overcome and plots to uncover. But the real draw of the story is not the setting or the plot. It is the characters.

Anitra is a basically a bureaucrat. How often do you see a bureaucrat as a heroine? But she has vision and hope, plus she is just a little bit devious. Those qualities are enticing and they snag the attention many, including Gavril. Anitra and Gavril had a fling once. But they parted ways, each wanting different things.

They meet again.

Gavril is struggling with this minder talent (empathy), which is a rare thing at his age. But he has never had the proper training. Anitra can help with that. In return, Gavril will fix a derelict ship to get them off of Polaris-G. They form the perfect business partnership. Yeah, well. It is not going to remain as just a business partnership. Remember, they had a fling. And now, just maybe, they might want the same thing.

The story moves quickly from the forming of a partnership between Anitra and Gavril to the escalation of trouble on the planet to the actual exciting exodus off of Polaris-G on the good ship Deset Diamantov. I started and finished this book in the same day. The novella length was perfect.

I really like this series. In the Central Galactic Concordance series, each story stands alone. The overall series is a sweeping arc, made up of complex, yet well integrated stories. Each story builds on the last and adds more complexity. Last Ship Off Polaris-G has the distinction of simplicity. Oh, you can see the mess coming, but, at least for now, the danger is straightforward and the characters have the luxury of worrying only about themselves and those around them rather that the entire galaxy. According to the series note on the Amazon blurb:

The events in Last Ship Off Polaris-G take place several years before Overload Flux (Central Galactic Concordance, Book 1). Think of it as an introduction to the series, and a foreshadowing of things—and people—to come.

So judging the book by its content, I would have to say that Last Ship Off Polaris-G is a 5-star addition to the Central Galactic Concordance series. If you have not read any of the series, Last Ship Off Polaris-G is a great place to start. If you have read the series, you will appreciate this little piece of the universe that is Polaris space. And if you don’t, you can suck flux. Okay, I apologize. That was rude. But I just wanted to use that phrase once. 🙂

The author provided a copy of her book so that I could bring you this honest review.

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Links

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Lycanthropy Homework: Let’s Get Metaphysical – Guest Post by Cecilia Dominic

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Today, I am very please to have a very special guest – Cecilia Dominic.  She is the author of the Lycanthropy Files trilogy, which is being re-released this month. Book 1, The Mountain’s Shadow, releases today. You might have caught the new cover reveal back on August 15th.

The rest of the series follows very quickly with Long Shadows on September 15, Blood’s Shadow on September 29 and A Million Shadows on October 13 (a Friday – perfect for a Halloween story set in Salem).

After Cecilia’s guest post, please keep reading.  I’ve got the beautiful brand new cover for book 2, Long Shadows.

Guest Post by Cecilia Dominic

Lycanthropy homework: let’s get metaphysical

Hi, my name is Cecilia, and I’m a research addict. No, really. I would have stayed in school forever if I could have, but alas, at some point, people expect you to go out and make money or something. Some people say their minds are like sponges. Mine is more like a very hungry sponge with big, pointy teeth and ADD. Okay, that analogy made more sense when I first came up with it. But my brain does crave knowledge about topics that have nothing to do with what I’m supposed to be focusing on at the time. Thankfully that has led me down some interesting paths that turned into books.

When I was on my pre-doctoral internship in Arkansas, my side interest turned to werewolf legends. Because what better to give my brain a break from my dissertation topics of sleep deprivation, irritability, and aggression than people who turn into wolves? I knew I wanted to write a novel set in the Ozark Mountains and that I needed a good paranormal creature. As a psychology intern, I was also aware of how childhood disorders seem to come and go in terms of press and awareness, so why not a genetic disorder called Chronic Lycanthropy Syndrome? The setting seemed perfect for lycanthropes, but I wanted to give my wolves something unique beyond a medical twist.

Lycanthropy has a long and fascinating lore, and thanks to the magic of the internet and the nice Barnes & Noble in Little Rock, I was able to get my hands on several interesting books. I started with a classic, Sabine Baring-Gould’s The Book of Werewolves, a study of the topic originally written in 1865. That book first exposed me to the term hamrammr, or “subject to fits of diabolical possession” (p. 43).

It wasn’t until I read Claude Lecouteaux’ book Witches, werewolves and fairies: Shapeshifters and astral doubles in the Middle Ages that I happened upon the werewolf model I wanted to use, which arises out of an old pagan understanding of the soul as having three parts. In Chapter Eight of The Mountain’s Shadow, my heroine Joanie comes across evidence that her grandfather was doing similar research when she happens across the same book. I’ll let her explain:

The first book made sense, as it presented a fascinating summary of the possible origin of werewolf legends in the Middle Ages. The ancient Scandinavian people had a different understanding of the soul. The spiritual part of a human had three parts: the fylgia, or psychic double, often seen as a female representation of the self that can act prophetically; the hamr, an aspect of the soul under the control of some people, which can take on a different form and travel when the individual is asleep; and the hugr, which can motivate the hamr or can represent universal principles of behavior. Some believed werewolves were actually the peoples’ hamrs, their spirits taking on another form after they left the body to carry on works that may or may not be diabolical.

I had seen physical transformations, not just behavioral. The books on the table indicated my grandfather was also looking into the old legends that a person didn’t physically transform, but rather their spirit did. Once in animal form, the person could then effect physical change on the environment such as carrying objects and wounding others. The problem was that whatever happened to them in that form also happened to their human body. Hence the stories of someone cutting off a werewolf’s paw and the person, usually a witch, waking with a severed hand.

To put it in more modern terms, the fylgia is like a guardian angel but an actual part of the person. The Scandinavians also referred to that construct as a double that preceded the person when they arrived and had to be given room to leave after the individual departs. If someone astrally projects themselves, or goes “spirit-walking” as some of my characters are able to, that’s the hamr at work. If you’re a fan of ghost stories, you probably are familiar with something similar to the hamr appearing to someone as a ghostly version of a far-away loved one when that far-away loved one has just died. The hugr is more difficult to understand. It’s the force that gives life to the body – so perhaps closer to our modern understanding of a person’s soul or spirit – but also motivates the hamr with baser desires, such as thirst or the desire to fight.

Of course as a sleep psychologist, I’m fascinated by the connection between sleep and strange metaphysical occurrences, and I can’t help but use that association in my books. My werewolves have a genetic disorder that challenges them physically and spiritually, and as their author, I’m enjoying the challenge of discovering more about them and their origins as the series progresses. As you’ll see in the second book, Long Shadows, sometimes the fylgia gets frisky. Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy figuring it all out along with Joanie in The Mountain’s Shadow.

References:

Lecouteaux, C. (2001). Witches, werewolves, and fairies: Shapeshifters and astral doubles in the Middle Ages (C. Frock, Trans.). Inner Traditions: Rochester, VT.

Baring-Gould, S. (1995). The book of werewolves. Studio Editions, Ltd: London. (Original work published 1865)

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About The Mountain’s Shadow

One bad choice cost me my job. Another one could take a bite out of my heart.

I was about to solve the puzzle of the latest childhood disorder du jour – Chronic Lycanthropy Syndrome – when my lab went up in flames, my job went down the tubes, and my lover went back to his ex.

When I found out my grandfather left me his multi-million-dollar estate in the rugged Ozark Mountains in his will, I thought my luck was turning. But my inheritance came with a few problems that go way beyond layers of dust and creaky floors: kids in the area that go missing during full moons, a mysterious death, and a band of werewolves who consider the property their own private hunting ground.

I’ll have to do more than face my research again to solve the mysteries of Wolfsbane Manor and stop a horrific epidemic. I’ll have to risk love, friendship, and the only true family I have left. And possibly doom myself to the fate that killed my twin brother.

Warning: Contains a sweet romance with just the right touch of naughty, and calorie-free food that’ll feed your heart, not your waistline.

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Cover Reveal

About Long Shadows

This time, being true to myself could be a deadly mistake.

I like to solve problems. The hard kind. A social worker by day, P.I. in my “spare time,” I’ve even figured out how to handle my little “werewolf problem.” After a dose of wolfsbane, my physical body stays safe in bed while my wolf goes spirit walking. If only she didn’t have a mind of her own…

After I overhear my sleazy boss plotting to turn my office into a trap, my instincts tell me to run. But not only do my problems stick like a bur in my fur, I find a whole new set.

Deep in the Appalachians, I learn a family secret that means I’m unique, even among werewolves, and I’m stuck on the dangerous border of a century-long war. Now I’m pursued by a rogue sorcerer with poisonous intentions, other wizards who’d like to throw me in a gilded prison, and a band of ghostly wolves thirsting for my blood.

Worse, there’s only one man who can protect me, and even he demands a price: my heart. Even though his own may be forever beyond my reach.

Warning: If you’re a carbophobe, detailed descriptions of Italian delicacies may wreck your will power. Also contains sexy situations, adult language, and brimming glasses of wine.

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Add Lycanthropy Files books to your Goodreads shelf:

Purchase The Mountain’s Shadow:

Purchase Long Shadows:

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About the Author

cecilia-dominic-readingCecilia Dominic became a clinical psychologist because she’s fascinated by people and their stories, but she couldn’t stop making stuff up. By day, she helps people cure their insomnia. By night, she writes fiction that keeps her readers turning pages past bedtime. Yes, she recognizes the conflict of interest between her two careers, but she prefers to be called versatile, not conflicted. This Amazon bestselling author has been published in short and novel-length fiction and currently writes urban fantasy and steampunk. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with one husband and two cats.

You can find her at:
Web page: http://www.ceciliadominic.com/
Wine blog: http://www.randomoenophile.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CeciliaDominicAuthor
Twitter: @CeciliaDominic
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