historical fiction


The third book in the alternate history/SF Lady Astronaut series. Technically it’s a stand-alone but I recommend reading at least the first book, the Calculating Stars, first.

Publisher: TOR
Publication year: 2020
Format: print
Page count: 542

Elma York and the others are on their way to Mars. Meanwhile, back on Earth, the Earth First terrorist group is doing their best to get the International Space Coalition and especially the various nations around the world to cancel the space program. They don’t believe that the meteorite strick damaged Earth so much that human habitation will become impossible. Instead, they try to funnel the funds toward rebuilding the US. They use religious rhetoric to turn people to their side.

Meanwhile, IAC is already training colonists to go to the Moon station.

Nicole Wargin is one the first female astronauts, ”astronettes”. She also the wife of the Governor of Kansas, which is the current US capitol. Earth Firsters arrange demonstrations, try to poison the lead rocket scientist, and sabotage a rocket. The FBI and IAC suspect that one or more of the crew or colonists on the Artemis Base are Earth Firsters. During the war, Nicole was a spy. Now, IAC boss Clemens wants her to spy on her fellow astronauts and the colonists. She knows just how crucial the information will be, so she agrees. Even though she hates spying on her friends.

Her husband is thinking of running for president. Nicole is already a very public person and is used to supporting her husband. But being the wife of a presidential candidate would make it even worse. She’s not thrilled but supports him. He’s not thrilled that she’s on the Moon for months at a time, but supports her. I loved their dynamic, as much as I loved Elma and Nathaniel.

Nicole is the first-person POV character. She’s extremely competent. A pilot, a spy, an astronaut, a diplomat. She’s also very human. She hates her paranoid spy -side but uses it when she must. She has anorexia. She has been getting better, but when she’s stressed she forgets to eat. When she feels that things are out of her control, the only thing she can do to have a semblance of control is by starving herself. That’s not good in space when you need to be at your best. She also has arthritis on her feet, which she hasn’t told IAC doctors.

This was a wonderful continuation of the series and I enjoyed it a lot. Nicole isn’t Elma. Her damage is different from Elma’s. Just like Elma, she’s a very human character. I also loved her close friendships with the other astronauts. The only flaw for me was in the epilogue: I don’t think one of the things in it would be possible then. I enjoyed it, but it felt out of place.

This book is similar to the first one because it has lots of politics. The main focus is firmly on Nicole and her friends, especially in the latter half of the book. The latter half also has a somewhat claustrophobic feel because Nicole is hunting for terrorists on the Moonbase.

Apparently, the series will get at least one more book. I’m looking forward to it!

My newest Robin Hood short story is live!

This is another story I wrote for the Derelict anthology. I had loads of fun with this one, too. It’s very short and fast-paced.

Robin Hood protects his people, the Saxons. Sometimes even Normans.

A shield between the villagers and the malevolent Sheriff of Nottingham.

Robin loves the verdantly green Sherwood. Sunlight filtering down between oak trees and birches. Hunting deer and rabbits. Birds singing and woodpeckers drumming.

But soldiers invade his Greenwood. Stomping, shouting. Armor rattling, swords glinting.

Can he escape them?

A riveting, fast-paced short story, Robin Hood: Hunted will keep you on the edge of your seat.

The second book in the historical urban fantasy Vigilantes superhero series.

Publication year: 2020
Publisher: Beautiful Fire
Format: ebook

The story is set in the year 1963 in the fictional Metro City.

In the previous book Colleen Knight, whose mother Tina is a mob boss, reconnected with her old love Karen and saved powered children from exploitation. Karen works for the Bulwark, an FBI organization which hunts down powered people, and Karen left Colleen to work against the Bulwark from within. I was hoping Karen would return in this book, but she didn’t. It focuses on Colleen and her life in Hide Tide, the area of Metro City where she’s from.

Tina and a mysterious mob boss only known as Von are in a battle for the control of High Tide. Colleen and her mother have a strained relationship at best, but Colleen knows she must help Tina. Things are going relatively well until Andrew turns up on the side of Von. Andrew is Colleen’s brother. She thought he died, so his return is quite a shock to both her and their mother. Colleen has fire powers and her brother has ice powers. She can’t understand while her formerly shy and gentle brother has become a stone-cold killer. She wants to save him, but she doesn’t know how or if he even wants to be saved.

The police aren’t too easy on High Tide’s poor black community, and the mob war has made them even more brutal. Surprisingly to Colleen, she’s very attracted to one cop in particular. Shay Reynolds is a young black woman and the first black female police officer in her precinct. High Tide is her home, too, and becoming a cop was the best way she thought of protecting her people. But the white male cops belittle her, and the black community is very suspicious and angry at her. She’s also attracted to Colleen, although Colleen is a mob boss’s daughter.

This was a great, fast-paced read and an excellent continuation to the series. Colleen is the main POV character, but we get POVs from Shay, Tina, and Andrew, as well. We get to know Andrew’s difficult situation and why Tina made the choices which alienated both her children. All characters have depth and are interesting.

The book has two romance subplots. In addition to Colleen and Shay, Tina and her right-hand man are dancing around each other. Tina doesn’t think it would be wise to start a relationship with Rick, but she knows he’s loyal and trustworthy. These romances, particularly Colleen and Shay’s relationship, add to the story, but don’t overwhelm it.

The story continues from the previous book, Fahrenheit’s Ghost. It’s not necessary to read that book first, but it’s a very good read and gives further depth to the characters and the setting. While this book doesn’t quite end in a cliffhanger, the story definitely continues and I’m looking forward to that.

I wrote this one for the Dereclit collection for Zombies Need Brains. It didn’t get in but I had lots of fun with it.

tales2

The people of Nottingham live in fear of their malevolent Sheriff. Only one man gives them hope: Robin Hood.

Wintering huts compromised. Supplies gone. The winter will be harsh for Robin and his friends.

But not as harsh as the Sheriff’s killers if they get their hands on Robin.

A deadly game of cat and mouse in frost covered Sherwood. Snow betrays every step.

Robin Hood versus the Hunters is a fast-paced medieval adventure short story.

Every story in the Tales of Sherwood series stands alone. Follow the adventures of Robin Hood, his wife Marian, his best friend Little John, the Norman outlaw Will Scarlet, Friar Tuck, and all the other Merry Men in Sherwood.

My next short story is available at Amazon!

infiltrator

During the Cold War, spies from both East and West played their deadly games in Finland.

MI6 undercover agent Alex wakes up in the middle of a park, in unfamiliar clothes. During a mission he does not remember.

He must find out how and why. Before it is too late.

The Infiltrator is a pulse pounding paranormal mystery short story in the world of international spies.

A short story collection about spies of some sorts.

45010991._sy475_

Publication year: 2019
Publisher: WMG Publishing
Format: ebook
Page count at GoodReads: 284

This Fiction River focuses on spies. They are set in modern or historical times, a few I think are alternate history. The only fantasy story is about mice and a cat. A couple are near future stories.

Most have a spy main character but in the other stories, the main character is close to a spy. Most are serious tales but a couple are just funny and fun.

“Spy in the Sky” by Tonya D. Price: Set in Cuba in 1960s, Roberto MacAllister is a very bright young man but he’s also the son of a traitor. His dream is to escape to the US and work with rockets. Instead, he catches the eye of a prominet Russian scientist.


“Meeting at the Rise and Shine” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch: Susan is very worried about what the actor-turned president Reagan is doing. Worried enough that she’s agreed to meet with a reporter, carrying secret documents with her. But is she doing the righ thing, after all?


“Highpoint” by Michael Kingswood: Jeremy analyzes satellite images, specifically nuclear sites in North Korea. One day, the images are missing.


“Through the Eyes of a Dog” by Angela Penrose: Shawn loves dogs and when a dog-loving billionare couple wants a dog trainer, he’s more than happy to apply for the job. But he has another motive, too.

“Cat and Mice” by Jamie McNabb: Lionel the orange cat has started to eat a mouse one a week. The mice decide to do something about him.


“Our Man in Basingstoke” by Sabrina Chase: This was a fun story about an older British man who offered his manor house to the war effort during WWII. He didn’t expect what the War Office would require him to do.

“Night Flight” by Jonathan Kort: Marcel is a Jew living in occupied France during WWII. He and his fellow Jews are trying to survive and perhaps do something better.


“End of the Line” by David H. Hendrickson: Ferguson is getting older and getting the shittier assigments. But this is a new low. He needs to go to a retirement home and talk with an old friend, an old spy, and see if he still has his wits about him. If not… well, the Unit can’t let him talk about anything really secret.

“The Florentine Exchange” by Dayle A. Dermatis: This exciting story has two women spies. Antonia is an experienced spy and she’s been ordered to train fastidious Libby. When Antonia’s ankle is twisted, Libby must take Antonia’s place at an embassy ball where she must give a thumbdrive to another spy. But on her way to the ball, Libby realizes she has two thumbdrives. Antonia is up to no good.


“The Message” by C.A. Rowland: This story is set during US Civil War. Sissie is a slave in the household of Miss Antonia. When the Union soldiers bang on their door, Miss Antonia orders Sissie to help hide letters.

“Not What You’d Expect” by Leah Cutter: The narrator in this story isn’t a spy herself. But she gets to know one, Patty, at their yoga class. When Patty needs someone to go with her to a conference to spy on her company’s competitors, it sounds like fun.

“Turkish Coffee” by Johanna Rothman: Mira was born in Virginia but she loves Jaffa. And now she works there. Her job is to discover people’s secrets. She and her parner need to find out who is trying to infiltrate reasearch nuclear reactors.


“The Path” by David Stier: Aisha and her brother Ebrahim escaped from Afghanistan to US. Their whole other family is dead. Ebrahim hates the infidels and tries to force Aisha to live in the same way as she did in Afghanistan. But Aisha wants to succeed and goes to English classes in secret.


“Trafficking Stops” by Lisa Silverthorne: Sawyer Smith because a victim of trafficking she was fourteen. She managed to escape and is now doing her very best to stop the horrible people who sell teenagers and children. But now she’s working with a partner she doesn’t know.


“The Spy Who Walked into the Cold” by Ron Collins: Set in 1969 Chicago. Carl is a former Green Beret suffering from PTSD because of Vietnam war. Now, he’s a rookie FBI agent and working with a man who is spying on the Black Panthers. That makes him very uneasy.

This was the most down-to-earth Fiction River volume I’ve read so far. I love spy stories and these are very good ones. There’s also a lot of variety because a number of them are forced by circumstances to spy on others rather than being professional spies. Now I’d love to see a volume of fantasy and/or science fiction spies!

The third book in the Aurelia Mitela alternate reality thriller trilogy.

43842028._sy475_

Publication year: 2019
Format: ebook
Page count: 338 at GoodReads
Publisher: Pulcheria Press

A year ago, Aurelia Mitela was secure and happy in her life. She was the foreign minister of Roma Nova, a former special forces major, and as a Countess she was also the head of her family. Her daughter has married and moved to EUS. But after Caius Tellus usurped the throne of Roma Nova and ruthlessly pursued everyone in the legitimate government, Aurelia barely escaped with her life. Now, she’s officially an exile and thanks for Caius’ very public lies, even the small group of other Roman Novan exiles think that she’s betrayed her country and her honor. They want nothing to dow with her. Even her former friends have turned away from her which breaks her heart. Only her lover Miklos still believes in her.

Aurelia is still recovering from a near fatal shooting but she must stand up to the other exiles and convince them that even with their small resources, they must start a plan to retake Roma Nova. But Caius sends both assassins and legal teams after her. She turns to her old allies, both political and personal. But many won’t help her, at least publicly.

The final book in the trilogy continues shortly after the end of the previous one, Insurrectio. It’s mainly political intrigue but Aurelia has assassins after her and she goes on a scouting mission to Roma Nova.

Caius was a smooth manipulator in the previous books. Now, he shows his ruthless side. He believes that women are too emotional to lead and enacts laws that force women not only to step down as business owners and soldiers, but make them legally beholden to a man; husband, father, or brother. Not surprisingly, the independent Roma Novan women loath this and Caius’ soldiers enforce the laws brutally. Aurelia sees this from a distance but it’s still quite disturbing. Of course, many men are against these laws, too.

This is set in 1980s so it’s also historical fiction. It’s fast-paced and entirely from the first-person POV from Aurelia. This was an excellent ending to the series.

This is a prequel story to Frank’s Robin Hood series.

48716534._sy475_

Publication year: 2020
Format: ebook

I stumbled on this series quite by accident and was delighted to find another Robin Hood series. However, this one is a bit darker than my own.

“Hood” tells the story of how Robin Hood got his nickname and is set in the early days of our heroes’ outlaw life. This outlaw band has Robin, Little John, Will Scarlet, Friar Tuck, and a young woman called Alis. We get a few clues about how Alis and Robin met. Everyone in the group seems to be born nobility but are now outlaws. Robin himself is the son of the late Earl of Loxley. Even though he’s still insecure about this ability to lead, the others willingly follow him.

This Robin has a dark past and is torment by it. He was jailed and tortured by the sheriff. A young woman whom Robin calls Rosa helped him in the dungeons, but she was killed because of it. Her death haunts Robin more than the torture and he has flash backs to it. The others also seemed to have dark pasts.

The story starts in Sherwood on Christmas Eve. Robin and his band haven’t eaten in two days. They ambush Sir Guy of Gisborne who is collecting taxes – and food from the mouths of peasant children.

This was a fast-paced and enjoyable read, if quite dark. I really enjoyed the close-knit family feel of the band.

I’ve been reading SFF for many years but I’ve also been writing.

I’m delighted to tell you that I’ve published my first short story on Amazon:
How Robin Hood Became the Mortal Enemy of the Earl of Huntingdon.

It has 16,000 words so it’s a novelette really. I’ve loved Robin Hood stories most of my life and I loved writing this one. It’s a light-hearted read and I hope that you’ll enjoy it.

I’m working on the next Robin Hood story which will have mischievous fairies, too.

The first book in the Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club historical fantasy series.

Publication year: 2017
Format: Audio
Running time: 13 hours 39 minute
Narrator: Kate Reading

I very much wanted to adore this book. I liked it and will probably continue with the series but it has a writing style which no doubt will make it almost unreadable to some people. You see, the characters critique the book while it’s written. This sounds like a cute or even charming style, and it is, at first. But ultimately, it robs the book of any tension. We know that the characters will not only survive the fight scene, they all become such good friends that they feel free to give snarky comments while reading the (presumably) first draft. I don’t actually think that most readers open a book just to see how high the body count will be (unless that’s part of the genre of the book, of course) but it takes away even the illusion of tension. Similarly, when we meet the characters who are commenting (and we do meet most of them along the story) again we know immediately that they’ll become good friends. These interruptions also constantly remind the reader that she, or he, is reading a story, preventing any sort of immersion in it. They happen all the time. All the time.

So, the book’s major selling point are the characters and their relationships. Luckily, I really liked them. I also adored the idea of the book.

Mary Jekyll’s mother has just died. Her father died years ago and left them almost penniless. First thing after the funeral, Mary must fire her staff. But since the housekeeper Mrs Poole is critiquing the manuscript we know that at least she will stay with Mary. Mary finds out that her mother has an account on another bank, paying to a “Hyde”. Mary knows that her father’s former friend and murderer Mr. Hyde died some years ago but now she realizes that he might be alive, after all. That’s significant because there’s a reward for information about Hyde. Since Victorian London offers poor and very poor choices to a penniless, orphan girl, she wants to get that reward. So, she goes to UK’s greatest detective, Sherlock Holmes to get help. He and Watson agree to help, out of civic duty, if nothing else. Mary and Watson go the Magdalene Society (for fallen women and unwanted girls) where Hyde is supposed to be. But instead of Mr. Hyde, they find 14 year old Diana Hyde. She’s abrasive and scornful of the nuns so the Society doesn’t want to keep her anymore, so they foist her on Mary.

Mary also gets some letters that were addressed to her father and using the clues in them, she finds out that there’s a secret society in London that is doing something horrible. With the help of Holmes and Watson, Mary and her friends start to unravel the mystery. Holmes is also trying to solve horrible murders in Whitechapel. Could Hyde be responsible?

I adored the idea of this book. The daughters (and other creations) of famous male literary figures coming together and having adventures as friends. Some of them view themselves as “monsters” who don’t have really a place in society, especially in the Victorian era.

They’re all very practical women. Most of them must be, to survive. Mary has taken over the household money because her mother had been seriously ill for years. Diana lived practically on the streets for some years. Catherine Moreau had to keep a level head to survive on Moreau’s island and later to simply support herself alone. The other two had similar circumstances. They all express their frustration with the limits that the Victorian culture puts on women. Yet, the book has a lot of humor, too. For once, Sherlock and Watson are clearly both the sidekicks to these colorful women.

I had a lot of fun listening this book and Kate Reading’s narration was as wonderful as ever.

The book has lots of quotable parts.
“No wonder men did not want women to wear bloomers. What could women accomplish if they did not have to continually mind their skirts, keep them from dragging in the mud or getting trampled on the steps of an omnibus? If they had pockets! With pockets, women could conquer the world!”

Next Page »