My Reading Highlights for March

Hello Reading Compadres! Read any good books in March? Do tell! As for me, while February was characterized as a ‘meh’ month reading-wise, March more than made up for it. A long-awaited pre-order came out, and it most definitely did not disappoint. And best of all, what every reader lives for — I discovered a new author who totally rocked my month to the tune of an awesome, and quickly devoured, trilogy.

 

If you’ve been following my monthly reading blogs, then you will know that V.E. Schwab has recently become one of my very favorite writes. While her Darker Shade of Magic trilogy had been on my radar for a while, it was her runaway best seller, The Invisible Life of Addie La Rue that completely converted me to Schwab and had me binge reading all Schwab, all the time J That being the case, it should come as no surprise that I had pre-ordered her latest YA standalone, Gallant several months before its release. While written for a slightly younger audience that the YA I usually read, I would wholeheartedly recommend  Gallant to any age reader. Gallant is the story of what makes family and home told from the point of fourteen-year-old orphan, Olivia. Olivia is mute, and yet her character is one of the most eloquent and well drawn I have recently read. This novel is not to be missed, no matter how old you are. It has convinced me once again that Schwab is a goddess in her realm.

 

 

The other highlight of my reading month was the discovery of dark fantasy author, Jen Williams. OMG! Where has this author been all of my life. While at loose ends looking for my next read, I downloaded a sample of Williams’ The Ninth Rain, the first novel of The Winnowing Flame series. I didn’t stop reading until I had hungrily devoured the whole trilogy and ended up with big book- bereavement. Jen Williams has definitely not gotten the press she so well deserves. The Winnowing Flame series ticked every box and some I didn’t realize needed to be ticked. A middle-aged woman who is the head of a family of vintners, teams up with a drunken Eborian (think Fae who isn’t really Fae) running away from his dying land and a fire witch escaped from a notorious institution that exploits her kind team up to save their world from another wave of off-world invaders that are a nightmare mix of Borg and Heinlin’s Bugs. The characters a vibrant, well drawn and beautifully flawed. The chemistry between them is effervescent. Forced to work together, their mistrust is replaced with true friendship. The plot is nail biting and electric, with that delicious blend of fantasy, scifi and horror. If Williams didn’t already have me with this smorgasbord of reading delights, she brings in the dragon!

 

 

If you’ve not read anything by Jen Williams, do so without further delay, but don’t expect to sleep until the last book is finished. This month’s best read has to be The Winnowing flame trilogy.

 

In other news, I’ve just returned from another fabulous writing retreat at Northmoor House near Exmoor. I spent most of my time preparing for Camp NaNoWriMo coming up in April, so the reading will probably be sharply curtailed next month, but I’m all set to tackle another thirty day write-athon.

 

Next week there’ll be another episode of Dragon Ascending, so do check in. In the meantime, happy reading! If you have a book you think I absolutely must read, drop me a message.

 

 

OUT NOW—Love You Wrong (Love You, Maine, Book 0 – Prequel) by Julia Kent (@jkentauthor) #romance #contemporaryromance #romanticcomedy #romcom

Love You WrongRelease date: March 28, 2022

Genre: Romantic Comedy, Contemporary Romance

Cover Designer:  Najla Qamber, Qamber Designs (https://www.qamberdesignsmedia.com/)

Audiobook Narrators:  Erin Mallon and Teddy Hamilton

Tropes/Themes:  Small Town, Enemies to Lovers, Grumpy/Grumpy, Slow Burn, Missed Connection, Fish out of Water, Lumberjack vs. City Slicker, Standalone

*****

Blurb:

Two young do-gooders working to change the world find friendship and maybe more in a cutthroat business, but when the stakes are higher than they ever imagined, will a betrayal bring them together—or ruin everything?

Kellan “Kell” Luview is a new man. He left his tourist-trap small town and his dad’s business behind in rural Maine for a position at an environmental policy think tank in Washington, D.C. More comfortable climbing trees than talking about them, he’s determined to stretch his wings as he builds a new life with an ambitious girlfriend and smart friends who are just as dedicated as he is.

Despite his love for his work and the excitement of D.C., he feels pulled in too many directions when his girlfriend Alissa starts acting weird, his best friend Rachel needs an embarrassing, public rescue, and his mom hints that things are not going well at home in Luview–“Love You”–Maine, where every day is Valentine’s Day.

As a shocking betrayal shakes the very foundation of everything he believes in, Kell must decide who to trust, who to challenge, who needs him most—and figure out fast whether Rachel’s warnings about his girlfriend are credible.

Or yet another tactical maneuver in a city founded on them.

Unraveling the mystery of who to believe pits Kell against Rachel in a battle where the truth is uncertain and hearts are just collateral damage as ambition rules over feelings.

But Kell’s had enough.

More than enough.

Time to decide what kind of man he is—and who to trust.

Love You Wrong is a prequel, introducing New York Times bestselling romantic comedy author Julia Kent’s new Love You, Maine series. If you love rom coms about friends who are meant for more, deep intrigue, big misunderstandings, tests of loyalty, and small town/big city clashes, then pick up this prequel and try out a new-to-you series.

Buy Links: 

Amazon US:  https://www.amazon.com/Love-You-Wrong-Friends-Romantic-ebook/dp/B09W1M5HTW/

Amazon UK:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Love-You-Wrong-Friends-Romantic-ebook/dp/B09W1M5HTW/

Amazon AU:  https://www.amazon.com.au/Love-You-Wrong-Friends-Romantic-ebook/dp/B09W1M5HTW/

Amazon CA:  https://www.amazon.ca/Love-You-Wrong-Friends-Romantic-ebook/dp/B09W1M5HTW/

Apple Books:  https://books.apple.com/us/book/love-you-wrong/id1615312374

Kobo:  https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/love-you-wrong

Nook:  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/love-you-wrong-julia-kent/1141249770?ean=2940160945507

Google Play:  https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Julia_Kent_Love_You_Wrong?id=cCNlEAAAQBAJ

Print:  https://www.amazon.com/Love-You-Wrong-Friends-Romantic/dp/1638801150/

BookBub:  https://www.bookbub.com/books/love-you-wrong-friends-to-lovers-office-romance-romantic-comedy-prequel-by-julia-kent

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/60688183-love-you-wrong

Audible: https://www.audible.com/pd/Love-You-Wrong-Audiobook/B09WB591SD

Amazon Audio:  https://www.amazon.com/Love-You-Wrong-Friends-Romantic/dp/B09W9YQMKL/

Apple Audio:  https://books.apple.com/us/audiobook/love-you-wrong-friends-to-lovers-office-romance-romantic/id1615840178

Other Books in Series:

Love You Wrong (prequel)

Love You Right (Book 1)

Love You Again (Book 2)

Love You More (Book 3)

Love You Now (Book 4)

*****

Excerpt:

They all burst into derisive laughter that hurt Kell’s heart a little.

All except Rachel. She didn’t laugh. Instead, she tilted her head and studied him.

Aha. An ally.

Until she opened her mouth and said, “I think that a tourist trap in the middle of backwoods Maine, where everything’s red, white, and pink, all heart-shaped gooey schlock, is so environmentally wasteful.”

Oh, great. Here it came again. They’d been arguing about this all year.

“She has a point,” Alissa said, but this time, something deep inside Kell couldn’t take it. Maybe the beer hit him wrong, or the stress of waiting for job offers was getting to him. Perhaps Alissa’s mixed signals got under his skin. Or maybe he just was tired?

No. It was definitely Alissa’s mixed signals.

Instead of arguing, he stood and tossed a twenty on the table, feeling the tight smile on his face.

“I gotta run. More job applications, you know.”

“Come on, Kell. Don’t be like that,” Alissa insisted, grabbing his arm.

He gently extracted himself. “I have to FaceTime with my niece in an hour anyhow.”

“You’re leaving happy hour so you can babble at a baby?” One of Alissa’s eyebrows had risen with so much judgment, it clinched his decision.

“Bye, all.” He kissed the top of Alissa’s head. “Text me.”

And he walked off toward the crosswalk, not quite angry, not quite hurt, not quite… anything.

Except confused.

*****

Author Bio:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Julia Kent writes romantic comedy with an edge. Since 2013, she has sold more than 2 million books, with 4 New York Times bestsellers and more than 21 appearances on the USA Today bestseller list. Her books have been translated into French, German, and Italian, with more titles releasing in the future.

From billionaires to BBWs to new adult rock stars, Julia finds a sensual, goofy joy in every contemporary romance she writes. Unlike Shannon from Shopping for a Billionaire, she did not meet her husband after dropping her phone in a men’s room toilet (and he isn’t a billionaire she met in a romantic comedy).

She lives in New England with her husband and three children where she is the only person in the household with the gene required to change empty toilet paper rolls.

She loves to hear from her readers by email at julia@jkentauthor.com, on Twitter @jkentauthor, on Facebook at @jkentauthor, and on Instagram @jkentauthor. Visit her at http://jkentauthor.com

Social Media Links:

Website:  http://jkentauthor.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/jkentauthor/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/jkentauthor

Newsletter:  http://bit.ly/2PIBi9n

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/jkentauthor/

BookBub:  https://www.bookbub.com/authors/julia-kent

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3238619.Julia_Kent

Amazon Author Page:  https://www.amazon.com/Julia-Kent/e/B00A99V268/

Release blitz organized by Writer Marketing Services.

 

Dragon Ascending Part6: Brand New KDG Read

Happy Friday everyone!  Today’s episode of Dragon Ascending is a longer bonus read to reintroduce you to some old friends and make a few connections. Last week we left our derelict ship trying to safe the life of the mysterious desert woman. This week, in his efforts to outrun authority hunter ships, Fury senses something on Taklamakan Major very much out of place. I hope you’re enjoying Dragon Ascending, the sequel to Piloting Fury, as much as I’m enjoying sharing it with you. As always, I love it when you share my work with your reading friends, so feel free. In the meantime, enjoy!

If you missed the previous episode of Dragon Ascending, follow the link for a catch-up. If you wish to start from the beginning, of Dragon Ascending. Follow the link. 

 

Dragon Ascending: Book 2 of the Sentient Ship Series

On a desolate junkyard of a planetoid, scavenger Lenore Felik, disturbs something slumbering in a remote salvage dump and uncovers secrets of a tragic past and of the surprising role she must play in the terrifying present she now faces.

Robbed of her inheritance after her tyrannical father’s death, Tenad Fallon is out for revenge on her half-brothers, one who happens to be the sentient ship, Fury. Fury, with his human companions, Richard Manning and Diana McAllister, has his own agenda – finding the lost sentient ships and ending the scourge of indentured servitude in Authority space.

 

 

Dragon Ascending Part 6: Something that Should Not be There

Diana Mac sensed Fury’s drop in speed more than felt it, and so did Manning, who struggled up from sleep next to her. Both felt the lack of Fury’s immediate warmth. Being an SNT ship, he was quite literally everywhere, and yet he usually shared their bed with a presence as nearly physical to them as their own, and both of his humanoid complements felt his absence when he withdrew. That was a part of the bond they shared.

As they felt his absence he felt their wakefulness, and they sensed something more than a random fluctuation in his normal functioning around them. It could only be defined in human terms as excitement laced liberally with tension.

“There is something in this sector.” He said before they could ask. “Something that should not be here.”

“Something like what?” Manning asked slipping into his trousers and heading for the deck, with Mac not far behind him. Being connected as they all were, they could have simply accessed his thoughts. But Fury had stressed to them early in their relationship the importance of compliments and their ship maintaining boundaries for the sake of sanity. He had said it so matter of factly, as though sanity were something that came and went like body odor or bad breath. Mac smiled at the thought. Perhaps that was the case with sentient ships. The data was still out she supposed, and if it were true, then they could be heading into either a wild goose chase or a shit storm.

On the deck, they looked out to find pretty much empty space, minus the dust. There was a fuck ton of dust in this sector for some reason. The only thing not completely obscured by the dust was a medium sized yellow star, and even it looked pale and anemic through the haze.

“I am certain I felt someone.”

“What someone?” Manning rubbed sleep from his eyes and squinted at the view screen. “You mean like an SNT? Out here?”

“I experienced a flash of power, of anguish, like nothing I have felt since the time of my own painful birth. It happened so quickly, even by SNT standards, and then it vanished.”

Mac was already checking the sensor logs. “I don’t see anything here.” She said.

“You would not.” Fury observed. “It was over too quickly. Nevertheless, I am certain.”

“So what you felt was an SNT in distress?” Manning turned and headed up to the map room and Mac followed. The three had only been together as a triad for a few months, but they were fully bonded and they worked as one unit. “Let’s see what we have in this area.” He pulled up the 3D map, “other than a whole lot of nothing.”

Mac squinted at the image until she saw nothing but spots. There were dozens of medium sized asteroids orbiting the star they had seen from the view screen. For some reason the perfect star for the evolution of rocky planets and human life had never managed more than two planetoids and a sporadic lacing of asteroids orbiting around it creating a series of thin rings of dust and ice for several astronomical units.

“Both planetoids are habitable, though just barely,” Manning observed. Taklamakan Minor is little more than a block of ice. The only permanent structure is a science station. The data says it was automated after the last attendant died. It’s operated now by a loose organization of scientist from the Outer Rim Alliance. At the moment, it’s visited once every galactic year-ish.”

“Taklamakan Major, on the other hand is a desert. According to data, it’s only real use is as one giant salvage yard. There are three small outposts on it. Fuck knows why. “Sunward, Windward and Sandstorm, all placed strategically on the edges of the most frequented salvage yards. Except for Sandstorm, it’s right smack dab in the middle of the biggest salvage dump. It’s called Sandstorm because it shifts periodically. Well every night, actually. Something in the gravitation and the prevailing winds results in hellacious sandstorms every night It’s the most isolated of the three outposts, in the opposite hemisphere from the other two.

“The only reason ships come here is to sell salvage or because they’re caught out on a long haul and need replacement parts. The whole place belongs to the Outer Rim Alliance. A bastard stepchild kind of place. Almost no association with the Authority.”

“That makes it a holiday destination in my book,” Mac said, as she scrolled down through the database.”

“Sounds delightful,” Manning commented with a chuckle.

“I will pack our bags immediately.” Fury said. “We are long overdue for a vacation.” Fury claimed to need work on his sense of humor, but Mac often thought on the long hauls when they saw no one but each other, it was his sense of humor that kept the enormity of the task set before them in perspective. The responsibility had fallen on them to follow what slim leads they could find on the whereabouts of SNTs that might or might not still exist, while remaining as unobtrusive as possible. That task was made all the more difficult when said SNTs definitely would not want to be found if they did still exist. They understood only too well that you did your best not to be discovered when the Authority would hunt you down and destroy you if they knew you existed.

 

 

When Mac was shanghaied onto Fury, she had not known that he was an SNT, SNT1, in fact, the pinnacle of sentient ship technology, and as far as they all knew, the last survivor of the sixteen sentient ships that had been bonded to humanoid compliments and sent out to make life better for all species everywhere. They had been funded by the Free Universities, who refused any involvement of the Authority. They were ultimately designed to put an end to the Authority scourge of indentured servitude.

Their mistake was in assuming that the Authority and the Conglomerates wanted to do away with indentured servitude. People were now born into the debts of their families and even some areas of the Authority were breeding indentureds. The wealth of the Authority and its conglomerates was built on the backs of indentured workers, and it was not ready to give that up.

Somehow Abriad Fallon and his cronies managed to engineer a virus derived from the one that was contained in its inactive form in every indentured’s shackle to reassure they could never escape without dying a long and horrific death. They then sabotaged the sentient ships with reengineered virus designed to infected the brains of the SNTs. Two went berserk and killed millions before the rest of the fleet discovered what had been done. Of the fifteen, nine were destroyed, literally disintegrated. Three gave themselves up and were decommissioned, their compliments either killed or indentured and sent away to hard labor in the triaxium mines. Those ships were hidden away in remote Authority space docks. The fate of three others was unknown. Some were believed to have escaped beyond the Outer Rim.

Fury was not among these fifteen. His birth was far more complicated and much more advanced scientifically. He was to be the flagship of the next generation of SNTs until the world fell apart. Then he barely escaped as a fugitive, the only one who knew the truth.

Fury was no longer alone, though. Due to circumstances Mac could have never imagined, he now had three brothers, though one was Gerando Fallon, Abriad’s eldest son. Mac still battled to get her head around those details. He was the only humanoid among Fury’s siblings and was now bonded in a strange sort of way to Griffon and Commander Ina Stanislavsky. With help from Fury’s core material, the third ship in his new family, The renegade Dubrovnik, had been reborn as an SNT ship as well. Yes, Fury had three brothers and they were all fugitives at the moment. Though Fury was a damn rich one, thanks to quick thinking on Gerando’s part that meant Fury inherited a huge fortune from their monster of a father, Abriad Fallon, which he managed to liquidate into accounts beyond the Rim before the rest of Abriad’s monster brood could contest the will and find ways to prevent it’s execution.

Yes, they were all fugitives, but not without their purpose. Finding the SNTs was now the three ships’ mission, well two of them at least. Dubrovnik was a flying fortress born of an orca class freighter the size of a small city. It was home to the scientists, researchers and residents from Plague 1. Plague 1 had been one of the two Plague planets, where those indentureds who were suffering from the virus were sent to live out their miserable lives. It just so happened that it was on Plague 1 that the cure had been discovered for the virus that made every indentured’s subdural shackle a living nightmare. Fury was to seek out the SNT ships from beyond the Outer Rim, and Griffon was to seek out the SNTs that might be hidden away in forgotten space docs in Authority space.

 

 

“Taklamakan Major would be an excellent place for an SNT to hide,” Fury commented. “While it is only loosely claimed as a part of the Rim Alliance, it is too far away to gain the Authority’s attention. And certainly it has nothing of interest for them. It is a very long way from almost anywhere.

From what we can tell, there are two, possibly three, ships that might be hiding out beyond the Rim and three in Authority doc yards we know of. Raven and Quetzalcoatl we know for sure escaped beyond the Rim, though we do not know what happened after their escape. Possibly Ourobos escaped as well. We know nothing of her.” Fury always listed the ships as if Mac and Manning didn’t already know, as if they hadn’t gone over that list a hundred times. And yet each time he did, it was as though they listened to the reading of a sacred family tree because to Fury, that was exactly what they were, and both Mac and Manning knew better than anyone else just how much family meant to Fury.

Fury continued. “Apollo, Aurora, Valkyrie have been decommissioned and are hidden in remote dock yards spread throughout Authority space. Merlin, Phoenix, Orion, Archangel, Calypso, Nautilus, Hebe, Terrebonne and Dragon were destroyed.”

They all knew the assumed fates of all the SNT ships in the aftermath of the virus outbreak onboard, but none knew better than Mac, except for Fury. For Fury repeating all of their names and their fates was a naming of his dead and of those missing in action. They were his family, family lost to him before any of them had a chance to fulfill the bright destiny for which they had been created, and Fury mourned their loss, just as Mac still mourned the loss of her father and his SNT, Merlin. To speak those names out loud was to honor their memory, was to promise every effort of reunion with those who survived.

“There should be no SNT ships hiding on Taklamakan Major,” Manning said.

“While we are beyond Authority space, in a sector that no one would have much reason to visit, this is far from where any of my family disappeared,” Fury said.

The truth was they were now fairly well off their own course for traveling to the areas of the Outer Rim where it was most likely that Quetzalcoatl, Raven and Ouroboros had gone into hiding. As expected the Authority, and especially the worst of the Fallon clan, did not take kindly to Fury’s inheriting the family fortune, nor to the loss of possible SNT tech from right under their noses. Oh, none of them mourned their father’s loss. They were all a bunch of rabid dogs waiting to devour each other at first opportunity. Tenad Fallon, daddy’s eldest daughter, was taking the loss of the Fallon fortune very personally, and it had only been in the last two galactic days that they had shaken her Authority Jaegers. But perhaps this was exactly where they needed to be.

“There’s a ship on long range scanners coming in fast.”

 

 

Dragon Ascending Part 5: Brand New KDG Read

Happy Friday everyone! Time for another episode of Dragon Ascending. I’m in Glastonbury for a couple of days before I will once again make my way to the fabulous Northmoor House for a writing retreat sponsored by Imagine Creative Writing. The words will be flowing and, since the place is right on the edge of Exmoor, the setting is truly inspirational.  I hope you’re enjoying Dragon Ascending, the sequel to Piloting Fury, as much as I’m enjoying sharing it with you. Last week we left our mysterious heroine fighting for her life in the ruins of a ship that cannot access the programs needed to save her. This week our amnesiac ship continues the battles to save her life. As always, I love it when you share my work with your reading friends, so feel free. In the meantime, enjoy!

If you missed the previous episode of Dragon Ascending, follow the link for a catch-up. If you wish to start from the beginning of Dragon Ascending. Follow the link.

 

Dragon Ascending: Book 2 of the Sentient Ship Series

On a desolate junkyard of a planetoid, scavenger Lenore Felik, disturbs something slumbering in a remote salvage dump and uncovers secrets of a tragic past and of the surprising role she must play in the terrifying present she now faces.

Robbed of her inheritance after her tyrannical father’s death, Tenad Fallon is out for revenge on her half-brothers, one who happens to be the sentient ship, Fury. Fury, with his human companions, Richard Manning and Diana McAllister, has his own agenda – finding the lost sentient ships and ending the scourge of indentured servitude in Authority space.

 

 

Dragon Ascending Part 5: Core Nanites Needed!

But then she stopped breathing! And suddenly all that mattered was that she breathe again. I would not have her work so hard to get to me only to die. This was not acceptable. I would have given her my breath, but I had none to give. Somewhere from the depths of all I had forgotten I accessed that compressions to her chest could restart her heart. Again, I do not know how I did it, but I formed from the molecules I was able to manipulate a crude compression device. I could not say that what I had created resembled hands, these appendages of mine. But they fit firmly between her breasts against that too thin chest beneath in which her heart should beat, must beat if she were to breathe, if she were to survive.

It seemed to me that I should be able to breathe for her, and the longer she did not, the more desperately I tried to access data that had to be there, abilities that I knew was there, all the while continuing with the compression of her chest. How horribly those compressions would hurt ribs that were already damaged. And what if, due to my efforts, a damaged rib punctured her lung. What if I could not access the information to heal her. All of these humanoid thoughts I did not wish to access were all too easily accessed.

I compressed and compressed while I accessed and accessed. Solar systems’ worth of information, worlds and lifetimes of information. Some of it helpful, some of it trivial, some of it I had never accessed before. And yet that which I needed hid itself behind the fog that was left of my memory. And still she did not breathe. Still her heart did not beat. What was I to do? Were it simply an act of will, a matter of me mentally making it so, I would have done, for I willed it with all of my being.

And just at that moment, just when I had begun to despair, my will moved inside her body, massaged that muscle that was her heart and inflated those lungs too tired of breathing to draw in the oxygen they could not survive without. And I did, in fact breathe for her, cause her heart to beat, as I would have the one I had lost.

It was not magic. It was simply the manipulation of molecules at which I had once been skilled. This I only remembered as my woman’s back arched and with a gasp that sounded like determined agony, she drew her breath anew. Then she rolled onto her side, forced herself up on one elbow and vomited again. Blood! She vomited blood. There was damage I had not seen, her injuries needed more than my puny efforts and ancient Terran first aid could provide.

There was a place, a place that was not this place in front of this airlock. It was there where she needed to be, a place that was specifically designed to treat humanoids when they were injured. And there was a place, deeper inside, a place at my center, a place so deep in the fog of lost memories that it hurt to even attempt access, and yet access it I must. I held her as her strength gave and she vomited again. The scent of blood permeated the airlock. I had been so intent on getting her heart to beat, getting her to breathe, that I had not seen the blood that now covered the wrapping of her ribs or the blood on her thighs. She had to have help from my center, and yet to move her might be fatal.

 

 

In a blink that was not a blink, the air lock disappeared and we were at that place where she must be if she were to live. Medico. A place of healing. I accessed file after file, on internal bleeding, on blood loss, on broken bones. All could be treated. All would be treated. All could be healed, and in an instant the computerized surgery began to work on her. Removing the filthy rags of her clothing, revealing how painfully thin she was. It was not difficult to see which ribs were broken, and there were three. What little flesh she carried on her delicate bones was nothing more than muscle beneath skin. The blood between her thighs was the blood of violation, a thing that made me rage for her, for I knew the damage of such injuries went far deeper than flesh and blood. Once again I wished the three who had violated her painfully dead, hoping as I saw her suffering, that I had sent them to just such a death. The auto-doc, my companion had called it, this bed on which my woman now lay, with its myriad robotic arms and devices. It was designed to heal humanoids. Though the one I had lost seldom needed this auto-doc, for she shared in my robust nature as she travelled with me.

But she had needed it, hadn’t she? In the end she had needed it. In the end I brought her here. The fog closed like a heavy nebular cloud tightly enfolding, obscuring that memory, for it was not one I ever wished to access again. And when this one was healed, I told myself, I would send her back home and return to my slumber so that I could be once again removed from those memories, so that it could once again be as though I did not exist.

These kinds of thoughts are never productive, and thus my desire to sleep beyond their reach. They are never productive and they were not then, for I needed to be clear-headed. There was something missing. There was only so much that the auto-doc could do for this one. The message on the auto-doc’s computer flashed bright. Core nanites needed! Core nanites needed!

I understood instantly. A blood transfusion would be necessary, one of my own blood, as it were. The nanites from my own core. That was also not hard for me to access, as the auto-doc prepared the anti-body suppressants that would be required if this one was not to reject my blood, for I always thought of it as my blood, and indeed, I suppose it was. My companion had been prepared by taking small doses of my blood over some time before we came together. This one had not. This one could very easily die without the antibody suppressants.

My blood. My blood! For a moment I hesitated. Surely this one did not deserve my blood. The only one who deserved my blood was no longer here. What great things had this one done? What sacrifices had she made? She was nothing but a skinny sand gypsy with no education, with nothing to recommend herself.

Core nanites needed! Core nanites needed! The message flashed over and over, urgent, demanding, and all the while the woman on the table grew weaker, fought less and less, the determination that had been her true scent when first she approached me, so unknowingly was fading, would soon become the smell of death already waiting to envelope her. Core Nanites neede! Core nanites needed!

Determination. Why? What had she to be determined about? What purpose could it serve in this desolate place? I moved closer to her, studied her in her pain, in her frailty, lost, alone, and still she struggled. Perhaps it was I who was unworthy to offer her my blood, tainted as it was with the loss of the one I could not save. Perhaps I would bring upon her my own contamination, contamination I would never be rid of.

Core nanites needed! Core nanites needed!

And then, as I hesitated, this woman’s life in my hands, she did something I would not have thought possible in her condition. She opened her eyes, her silver grey eyes, and looked right at me, as though she could see me, as though she could look inside and discover all that plagued me, all that I did not want anyone to know, all that I did not want to know myself. And then, she went into cardiac arrest.

 

 

Dragon Ascending Part 4: Brand New KDG Read

Happy Friday everyone! And happy reading! Last week I talked books and good reads, a new post I now offer on the first Friday of each month. But this week it’s time to return to our desolate ship and the mysterious heroine, who we left struggling to reach shelter before the dangerous desert night set in. I hope you’re enjoying Dragon Ascending, the sequel to Piloting Fury, as much as I’m enjoying sharing it with you. Last week we learned that safety isn’t that easy to come by. This week we discover that help isn’t easy to access. As always, I love it when you share my work with your reading friends, so feel free. In the meantime, enjoy!

If you missed the previous episode of Dragon Ascending, follow the link for a catch-up. If you wish to start from the beginning, of Dragon Ascending. Follow the link. 

 

Dragon Ascending: Book 2 of the Sentient Ships Series

On a desolate junkyard of a planetoid, scavenger Lenore Felik, disturbs something slumbering in a remote salvage dump and uncovers secrets of a tragic past and of the surprising role she must play in the terrifying present she now faces.

Robbed of her inheritance after her tyrannical father’s death, Tenad Fallon is out for revenge on her half-brothers, one who happens to be the sentient ship, Fury. Fury, with his human companions, Richard Manning and Diana McAllister, has his own agenda – finding the lost sentient ships and ending the scourge of indentured servitude in Authority space.

 

 

Dragon Ascending Part 4: Accessing!

As I watched the desert woman struggle, I felt such pain, such helplessness, as I had not felt since my great loss. Against all odds this ragged creature had returned to me, and, in my efforts to provide for her, I had made her suffering worse. While the scent of her blood had disturbed me when last she visited me, it was as nothing compared to the scent of death clinging to her like a parasite. She had sustained more injuries than one humanoid should be able to endure and remain functional, and those injuries had been inflicted by other humanoids. Her condition roused in me feelings I could not bear to revisit, so I forced them aside to focus on this woman and her struggles. She would die, and very soon, if I could not access my resources. I remembered in my frustration, in the addled jumble of memories I avoided so carefully, that I had resources, many resources. Though perhaps I had lost them in my fall from grace. Had I fallen from grace? I could remember no such fall. I could remember only that there had once been grace once, and I felt its loss all the more exquisitely as I watched the woman’s desperate efforts to get to the safety I struggled to provide. It was as she wrapped the cloth which she had covered her filthy shorn hair tightly around her ribs that I realized my mistake. I had put safety beyond her reach. The dear soul would have to climb to reach me.

Access! I needed access to resources, to functionality, to data, to power sources, to my core, to the rest of myself. And yes, even newly awakened as I was, in all that was lost to me I knew there was so much more. I was a master at multi-tasking, or I had once been. Down into the darkness I dove charging through meaningless terabytes of information a fog that could not be real, could not truly exist, a fog I had created as protection from my loss. I cursed myself in a most humanoid way that in my shortsightedness I had not thought perhaps there would be functions I would need, that perhaps I would, at some point in my endless desolate future, once again have companionship, albeit rough companionship. I did not plan for such an event. Nor had I understood that in such an event I might need to provide aid and comfort. I had never imagined such would again be my lot. And yet here I was unable to access the most basic functions, the key purpose of my very existence, to provide companionship, to work in tandem with one so vulnerable, to offer strength, to offer access to the stars. And yet as this woman, my woman, as I had already begun to think of her, started her ascent, I was scrambling in the darkness of my own data seeking for basic resources to save her life. For even, against all odds, if she were to reach the shelter I had provided, my analysis of the situation was that she would most certainly die without my help, for she had no resources of her own. Even the pack she had carried when last she came to me was missing.

There was a place within my data that would allow me to heal her, knowledge, resources, but none of that mattered if I had put myself beyond her feeble reach. I could not even access the very basic function of movement that would bring the unlovely airlock I had provided closer to the woman’s reach. Basics. Basics. Basics! Why had I chosen to forget basics? How could I be so consumed in my own loss that I had not thought others had also suffered losses. And this woman drawing nearer, the blood loss accelerating with each agonized effort, pausing, lurching, gasping for each painful breath, had suffered her share of loss. I scented upon her flesh the reek of violation, the scent of angry males, the scent of petty helplessness magnified by testosterone and frustration. My own rage crackled and hummed at her suffering, my own frustration magnified as she slipped and would have fallen if she had not been truly skilled in the art of climbing. These men who had harmed her, they were not far, and they would pay. In an instant I lashed out, unaware until I had done it that I could manage such violence, unaware as I had done it even exactly what I had done, but they did not deserve further attention from me. The one struggling so valiantly to get to me, she deserved my full attention.

 

 

There were new cuts, deep cuts on her hand, and I had put them there as surely as if I had taken a knife to her. If she had fallen to her death, it would have been one more death laid at my door. Had I caused other deaths? These who had harmed her, had I caused their death? I found that I did not care if I had. And if there had been other deaths laid at my door, that memory I shut behind airlocks and fog and shifting sand deep inside myself. That memory I did not want to access. I only wanted to help. I only wanted to ease this woman’s suffering. I wanted her to live. I needed her to live, I who had sworn to myself before I sank into my deep slumber I would never allow myself to need again.

Accessing, accessing, Fucking accessing! Words of frustration, curses, colloquialisms, scraps of doggerel, limericks. These were not what I needed now. These belonged to someone else, to another life lost. Accessing, accessing! Multi-tasking.

She ascended another agonizing few feet and then vomited painfully into the empty space, vomited nothing but bile. She could scarce afford more loss of body fluids, dehydrated as she already was.

Accessing, accessing. The Vienna waltz, ghost stories from Diga Prime. Heart and Soul, Chopsticks, Beethoven! Goddamn it! Nothing useful! Nothing fucking useful, and my woman, the one who had come back to me, the only other in this desolate world, slipped again. She did not cry in her frustration, she did not curse, she did not make a single sound, in her agony, as she steadied herself, she did not even moan. Once again she wiped her bleeding hand on her trousers, and looked up at safety, tantalizing, tempting safety just beyond her reach,

Accessing, motherfucking accessing, desperate accessing!

She was going to jump. She was going to bloody jump!

Accessing, Vaticana Jesu! Accessing!

She was going to jump, and if she did, she would not make it. She would fall to her death, and I would once again be alone.

ACCESSING!!!!!

She jumped! I accessed and reached into the darkness. She jumped, her fingers slipped. She fell away, away, away.

Accessing, accessing, ACCESSING!

Resource found!

She fell away, and I reached out and drew her into my safety.

Once she was safe inside, I closed the airlock and with less than a thought made myself invisible to anyone who might come looking for her. At the time I could not say how I did it. Perhaps again it was some instinct of self-preservation that my makers had given me, but then again, I do not recall that instincts can be programed. Still, it did not seem quite like simple programming. None of that mattered at the moment. All that really mattered was keeping her safe.

But then she stopped breathing.

 

 
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