Book Spotlight: Masters of Camelot

Congratulations to author Steven Cross, on the release of his latest novel Masters of Camelot! Read on for book details and an exclusive excerpt!

camelot coverMasters of Camelot

Publication Date: May 19th, 2020

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Between the Lines (Liminal Books)

Lancelot’s true love dies in a battle against an enemy aided by magic. With his kingdom and his love gone, he resigns himself to serving King Arthur, someone who is truly noble. After an innocent infatuation with Queen Guinevere goes wrong, the mysterious Merlin tells him his fate will be found thousands of years in a future where the new Camelot faces destruction from a ruthless king. Only Lancelot possesses the power that can stop him. But is his fate to die there? Is the new Camelot going to face the same destruction as the old Camelot? And how will Lancelot defeat the same magic that killed his one true love, a magic which he has never believed to be real.

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Excerpt

Some of King Ban’s foot soldiers lumbered toward the enemy, but then the iron beasts came back to life. They flew over Ban’s foot soldiers. Noises, like the banging of hundreds of rocks on metal all at once rang out. Something, yellow bursts of fire, came from the beasts. Lancelot watched as the foot soldiers fell where they stood. He saw dozens of holes in their armor and blood seeping out of them.

The beasts then moved over the archers and hovered over them. Lancelot’s heart lurched. Most of their archers were women who wanted to serve in Ban’s army, but whom his father did not want to be foot soldiers. These women warriors possessed another kind of finesse. Many of them fired their arrows at the beasts, but they did nothing but bounce away or break.

Then a blue swath of light appeared from the beast and bathed about half the remaining archers in an ethereal glow. The light beamed almost blindingly bright and then disappeared completely – the archers gone with it.

The enemy at the walls shrieked with ear-splitting force. When Lancelot turned toward their noise, he saw the charge. In another few seconds, they were on top of them. Ban’s men met them. Blade clanged against blade.

One attacker struck at Lancelot, who blocked the blow with his shield and drove his blade into the man’s chest. When the enemy’s blood poured out, Lancelot’s stomach heaved, but he had no time to vomit—another opponent was already on top of him. He moved so fast and was so strong that Lancelot could not avoid him. The enemy knocked him to the ground and had his sword raised ready to deal the killing blow. Lancelot tried to cover himself with his shield, but he didn’t think he would – the soldier’s hand went to his neck where an arrow pierced it. Blood spurted and then he fell. Lancelot felt his weight crashing down on him, knocking the air out of him. He looked to one side and saw one of Ban’s archers, a woman with long, flowing blonde hair – Eve – one of Anna’s friends with her bow.

He started to yell out her name, but then the blue light swallowed her, and she disappeared.

Lancelot pushed her victim off, staggered to his feet in time to raise his sword just as the second attacker lunged at him. It pierced his enemy’s throat.

“Lancelot!”

He froze at the sound of the high-pitched scream and looked left and right to see the invaders overwhelming King Ban’s army. Lancelot ducked as someone swung at his head, and he thrust his shield up, its edge catching the attacker’s neck. The attacker gagged as he clutched at his throat and crumpled.

“Lancelot!”

Lancelot recognized the voice. He looked down and saw his beloved Anna lying on the ground near him. An invader towered over her.

Lancelot launched his sword through the air like a spear and hit the man just as he was bringing down his own sword. Lancelot ran to Anna. Her eyes fluttered and she smiled at him. “I knew you’d come.” The armor she wore was now red and blood pooled under her. “You can change things, Lancelot.” Her body relaxed and lay still.

He grabbed her wrist and searched for a pulse. He leaned over her and tried to feel the faintest breath that would show him that she was just hurt. Even as tears poured from him, his anger built.

“Why didn’t you listen? Why do you always have to be where you don’t need to be—”

Suddenly, someone grabbed him by his hair and jerked him backwards.

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About the Author

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Robert Collier, an American self-help author, once said, “Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” For over 30 years of teaching and over 40 years of writing, this adage describes Steve Cross.

He is a semi-retired educator who teaches writing part-time at Three Rivers Community College. While in college, he began writing, and once he started, he didn’t quit. In his younger days, he had some writing successes: several plays published by Brooklyn Publishers, articles in various magazines and websites, and some educational materials. However, these weren’t enough to convince him that writing was something he needed to pursue anymore. When he turned 60 and had almost given writing up altogether, he gave it one more chance.

Every October, the Ozark Creative Writers sponsor a writing conference in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. As a test of his talent, Cross entered several of the contests that made up part of the conference. If he did okay, he would continue writing. If not, well, it had been a fun ride, but it was time to get off. When he placed in three of the contests, he decided that maybe his idea of quitting was premature. From there, things clicked. He had one young adult contemporary novel accepted for publication and two fantasy novels accepted. He also saw another dream which had eluded him for years come to life. He sold one screenplay outright and optioned another. Then he became a freelance editor for a publisher.

Cross finds himself busier than ever with his writing. But writing is not his only passion. He and his wife Jean work very hard in spoiling their two grandchildren, much to the dismay of their daughter Megan and son-in-law Sean. Cross also follows the St. Louis Cardinals and enjoys reading, listening to music, and writing. Still, he finds time to relax by sitting out on his deck with his loyal dog Bella on his lap and listening to the birds singing.

Masters of Camelot resulted from a lifelong love of all things Arthurian, which was reinforced by a trip to the UK, and a simple question, “What if?” He believes the principles of Camelot can still flourish in today’s world.

Steven M. Cross | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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In the mood for a fun western story? Check out Billy (The Kid) by Peter Meech and satisfy that craving!

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Pueblo, Colorado,1932. Bootleggers thrive in a town where the sheriff is on the take and you can kill a man with impunity. In this thrilling narrative, a once-famous outlaw finds himself thrust into the middle of a bootleg war against his will. At stake is nothing less than the life of his best friend and his last chance at true love with the town beauty. But is the legendary gunman who he claims to be, or is he just a retired dentist with a vivid imagination? Peter Meech reimagines the figure of Billy the Kid in a remarkable story told with verve, humor, grit and grace.

About the author: Peter Meech is an author, screenwriter, director and producer. He also mugs for the camera on occasion. His website is www.petermeech.com.



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Book Spotlight: Queen to Ashes

Congratulations to author Mallory McCartney on the exciting new release of Queen to Ashes, the next installment in the Black Dawn series!

Read on for an exclusive excerpt and a chance to win signed copies of Heir of Lies and Queen to Ashes!

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Queen to Ashes (Black Dawn #2)

Publication Date: April 21st, 2020

Genre: YA Fantasy

“You lived your entire life feeling like half of you was missing. Fight for the missing part. Fight for this.”

Emory Fae has abandoned everything she thought she knew about her previous life on Earth. Stepping up to her role as Queen of Kiero she makes a startling sacrifice- feigning her allegiances to Adair Stratton, the man who murdered her parents and casted Kiero into ruin. Emory’s memories slowly piece together, and she soon realizes the Mad King may not be all he seems— and the man who was once best friend, may be fighting beneath the surface.

With the King’s attention on her, can she buy Black Dawn Rebellion enough time to recuperate their forces? And when the times comes, will she be able to kill Adair, ending his tyranny and rising herself as the rightful Queen? Fighting to hide her secret, Emory navigates the brutal trials of the Mad King, trying not to lose herself in the process.

Sequel to Heir of Lies, now a bestselling series, the sparks are ignited, as Emory learns the cost of freedom, and her heritage. Will the rebels unite in time? A sinister force has spread across the land, stripping everyone bare- their betrayals, their secrets, their intentions. But above all, what will their decisions cost? By refusing to give in to the darkness, will Emory rise as Queen?

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Excerpt

The darkness kissed her, embraced her. Squinting, Emory tried to make sense of where she was but was met with a black, dense wall. Sweat pooled at the base of her neck, warmth flaring through her body. Fear choked her then as she gulped down stale air. She knew she wasn’t alone because she felt them before they said anything. “Emory, you need to wake up.” Memphis’s voice, just barely a whisper, caressed her. Right beside her left ear, another voice sounded. “Em, wake up.” Brokk’s rough voice was harsh and clear, but she felt her body still being pulled, pulled down into the black abyss. A third voice then sounded; one she could only recognize from her dreams. “Emory, darling, wake up.” Her mother. Her voice danced all around her, and she clawed blindly, trying to connect with her lost friends and family. Trying to find them. Silence landed heavy, and a putrid smell enveloped her senses. It smelled of rotting meat. Bile rose in her throat as a she felt a slimy, boney hand wrap hard around her wrists, pulling her toward it. She couldn’t scream; she couldn’t move. Sweat drenched every inch of her body as the creature she couldn’t make out leaned closer, whispering right in front of her, “Emory, I have found you.” Swivelling around, she was met with darkness until the monster pulled her closer, its breath tickling her ear. “And you belong to me.” The knife slid in between her ribs, pain blossoming, and cackles spun around her. Then, she was dragged down into the darkness.

Screams tore from her chest as she shot up. Drenched in a cold sweat, it took her several minutes to register where she was and the guard standing at the foot of her bed, arms crossed and eyebrows raised. She screamed again, pulling her blankets around her, her nightdress clinging to her curves. “Who gave you permission to be in here?” she demanded. Smirking arrogantly, he said, “I did.” Blinking, she recognized the man as the same one that guarded her down in the cells. Rubbing her eyes, she tried to shake the feeling of that damp death-like hold of the creature in her dream. She pointed to the door. “Get the hell out.” He scoffed, rolling his eyes. “It’s time to start your day. The king awaits.” Throwing a bundle at the bottom of her bed, he turned his back, briskly stating, “You have five minutes to get ready. I’ll wait outside.” Shutting the door, he left her in stark silence. It was time. Panic clutched her heart, squeezing it, threatening to break it. She couldn’t breathe. The walls seemed stretched too thin.

She could do this—she had to do this. Emory would grant the rebels the time they needed, the time she needed. Dying wasn’t an option. Besides, she was already dead to the people who had believed in her. Leaning forward with shaking hands, she opened the parcel. Several stacks of light black clothes spilled out, including shirts, pants, and undergarments. A blood red sash sat atop them all. Lovely. Sitting on top all of this, though, was a light, sheer, gold chest plate. Squinting, she leaned closer to inspect it. Markings she didn’t recognize adorned all the edges, and its sheerness was unearthly. She was so close, her breath was fogging it, her reflection lost. Strong leather buckles joined at the shoulders; its back plate just as impressive. She shimmied out of bed, quickly dropping the armor. Emory went through the motions of getting dressed numbly. Braiding her long ebony hair back, she looked in the mirror behind her. She didn’t recognize the woman standing before her, the stark cheekbones, emptiness in her eyes, bruised skin underneath them. Tying her sash tightly, she set her resolve. Emory Fae of Earth was dead. Everything had led up to this moment. Her parents shaped their world, defying the paths they were told to go down: A warrior from the Shattered Isles and a Prince of Kiero were never supposed to break away and build a refuge— The Academy—for peace. In her heart, Emory knew they had made mistakes, but their life’s dream was to fight and to ensure everyone, no matter their ability, would have a place to call home. Emory loosened a breath. She would not let her parents’ dream die. If Adair wanted a challenge, he would get one. She would make him pay. For her family. Her friends. For herself.

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About the Author

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Mallory McCartney currently lives in Sarnia, Ontario with her husband and their three dachshunds Link, Lola and Leonard. When she isn’t working on her next novel or reading, she can be found day dreaming about fantasy worlds and hiking. Other favorite pastimes involve reorganizing perpetually overflowing bookshelves and seeking out new coffee and dessert shops.

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Check out Lisa King’s brand new novel called The Vanishing Hour which is available now on Amazon! She is a Canadian author from London, Ontario and I am super excited to share the love on her new book! If you like post-apocalyptic books, then this one is for you!

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You can buy her book here: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B081ZHCPGF/



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Book Review: Graceling

I know the whole world is going a little nuts right now because of the COVID-19 virus and I think since everyone is being quarantined that it is the perfect time to do a buddy read! I do them with my friend Amanda every month and they are so much fun. Last month we read Graceling by Kristen Cashore.

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Synopsis: Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight—she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug.

She never expects to fall in love with beautiful Prince Po.

She never expects to learn the truth behind her Grace—or the terrible secret that lies hidden far away . . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.

I was really looking forward to a fantasy book and this one was what I was expecting, a long drawn out fantasy. I enjoyed the character development immensely because they were built upon so well that you truly felt like you had a good understanding of them.

That being said, I believe the book may have delved too much into its characters and left the plot a little lacking. I am a very plot-driven person so I was hoping for a little bit more action. There are definitely some cool scenes that I did enjoy but for a lot of the book, I just felt like I was waiting for something to happen and it never really did. When things did happen, they happened too quick and then it was back to the build-up for events to transpire that you would expect to have more of an impact.

I still enjoyed reading this book and having discussions with my friend as we went along. I am considering continuing the series so I wasn’t turned off too badly by it. The concept of having graces is really cool and I hope they continue to go into depth about that moving forward in the series.

Book Rating: 3.5/5

You can buy this book on Amazon and find it on Goodreads.

Disclaimer:  I read this book because I wanted to and was in no way compensated for my review.



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If you are interested, I had the opportunity to make an unboxing video for Bookishly which is a UK based book subscription box service. Check out all the cool stuff in this Wizard of Oz themed box!

Book Review: Looking For Dei

New book review for you bookworms! This one was called Looking For Dei by David A. Wilson. It was fantastic! I loved this book and did not want to put it down when I picked it up for quick reading sessions.

Looking for Dei and a coffee

Synopsis: Fifteen-year-old Nara Dall has never liked secrets. Yet it seems that her life has been filled with them, from the ugly scar on her back to the strange powers she possesses. Her mysterious father refuses to say anything about her origins, and soon, she and her best friend must attend the announcement ceremony, in which youths are tested for a magical gift.

A gifted youth has not been announced in the poor village of Dimmitt for decades. When Nara uncovers the reason, she uses her own powers to make things right. The decision sets her on a path of danger, discovery, and a search for the divine. In the process, she learns the truth about herself and uncovers the biggest secret of all: the power of broken people.

This book was really good. I had been in a little slump of reading books that couldn’t hold my interest or were just not doing it for me but I am glad to say that this book refreshed me.

I really like how it portrayed magic and how to use magic objects as if they had an inner sight to them. And the play on using runes to funnel magic through was awesome. Who would have thought to get a rune tattoo and be able to use this magic whenever you desired. It played right into my inner nerd and back to my good old model building and battling days.

The main character Nara was a likable character. You could tell that all she ever wants is for the people around her to be happy. You can feel the mystery behind her past grow more intense as the storyline progresses. She has such strong power and you get to join her on her discovery of the immense power she has within.

I actually really like Kayna. She is one of the villains in this story but I just loved how emotionless she was. She had one purpose and it was to become very skilled with her magic to further her position in the political society.

I found Bylo a little boring but every character can’t steal my love so I guess that is ok 😛

There were some very obvious religious aspects to this book but it wasn’t so bad and thrown right in your face that you would just get upset with it. It was finetuned and incorporated into the story as part of the characters upbringing/understanding of their past.

I won’t say anything about the ending because I don’t want to spoil it but I will say that it was intense and everything I hoped for the ending to be. There is definitely hints at a sequel and I really hope it happens! Hear that David! When you write the next book, let me know so I can get it 🙂

Book Rating: 4.5/5

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me in physical paperback format by the author for an honest review.


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