Release Blitz: Ardulum: Third Don by J.S. Fields (Excerpt and Giveaway)

Title:  Ardulum: Third Don

Series: Ardulum, Book Three

Author: J.S. Fields

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: June 4, 2018

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 106100

Genre: Science Fiction, action, aliens, bonded, captivity, coming of age, criminals, futuristic, pilot, religion, science, slow burn, smugglers, space, space opera, spaceships, telekinesis, telepathy

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Synopsis

The planet wakes.

Atalant is torn between two worlds. In uncharted space, head of a sentient planet, the new eld of Ardulum now leads the religion she once rejected. Emn is by her side but the Mmnnuggl war brewing in the Charted Systems, threatening her homeworld of Neek, cannot be ignored. Atalant must return to the planet that exiled her in order to lead the resistance. She must return home a god, a hypocrite, a liar in gold robes, and decide whether to thrust her unwilling people into the truth of Ardulum, or play the role she has been handed and never see her family, or her world, again.

Excerpt

Ardulum: Third Don
J.S. Fields © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Prologue
January 12th, 2061 CE

“I’ve just lost my last engine! We’re making repairs, but if we can’t dodge another hit—” The audio cut off. A small, blue light on Ekimet’s console went dark.

Inside the Neek’s main temple to Ardulum, Ekimet laid zir head in zir hands and, not for the first time, tried to will the light to come back on. It didn’t work. It never worked. All the power of Ardulum, and Ekimet couldn’t save even one Ardulan life.

The andal bench upon which zie sat lacked cushioning, and the wood was warm through Ekimet’s gold robes. Zir tailbone hurt from sitting and waiting—and zir heart hurt from watching and trying to coordinate a battle zie had no skills for. No one in the room did. The Eld had ensured that.

Ekimet brought zir head back up. Next to zir, Miketh tapped on the andal table, a thin sheet of bioplastic just beyond her reach. Her black hair had lost its red highlights. Ekimet hadn’t noticed until now, and zie didn’t have time to consider what it meant aside from neither of them having gone outside in a month.

The High Priest of Neek was on the other side of the wooden table. He was supposed to be helping, inasmuch as he could as a subspecies Neek amongst Ardulans. Right now, however, he sat, eyes unfocused, wringing his robes as he whispered, “Seven. Seven Ardulan cutters and fourteen skiffs lost.”

“Central, copy? Copy, please!” The Neek accent was clear over the transmission and startled Ekimet. It was a settee pilot, one of the Heaven Guard.

“We hear you, guard,” Miketh answered. Her hand shook as she reached for the bioplastic sheet. It was just far enough on the other side of the table that the high priest had to push it towards her. “Report?”

“The Mmnnuggl pods in orbit, both big and small, are now guarded by at least four of the oval ships the Ardulans can’t seem to hit. There are Risalian cutters out here too, and a bunch of ships I don’t recognize. No matter how much interference we run for the Ardulans, it isn’t making any difference. Nothing is making a difference. The Mmnnuggls are picking off the cutters one by one.”

“Is your squadron still intact?” Miketh asked. “No Neek casualties?”

The voice came back confused. “No, no casualties to report on our side. The Mmnnuggls only seem interested in…” On the computer console in front of Ekimet, another pale blue light went dark.

“We lost another skiff,” Ekimet reported in a monotone. “Only four remain, along with two cutters.”

“One cutter,” the guard reported hesitantly. A red light went out on Ekimet’s console. “A group of four pods just disintegrated the largest one.”

Ekimet squeezed zir eyes shut. There were over forty Ardulans on each cutter and two per skiff. It had been less than an hour since the Mmnnuggls had engaged the Ardulan fleet. What was happening? That the Ardulans and Neek would lose had never been in question, but they weren’t meant to lose like this.

Ekimet leaned towards Miketh and the speaker. “Tell the remaining cutter to—”

One of the skiff pilots cut into the feed. “We just lost our last cutter!” The last red light on Ekimet’s dash went out. “Ekimet, we have to land. We haven’t got a chance with the—” The line went dead. The final three blue lights died in quick succession.

There was silence for a long moment, followed by the uncomfortable shuffling of feet. The Ardulans were dead. Every ship the Eld had sent, every Ardulan onboard, was now scattered in fragments across Neek space. Ekimet and Miketh were…they were stranded. Again. They, and the Neek planet, had no protection.

“My lords?” The settee pilot was back. “The Mmnnuggl forces are leaving the engagement zone. Their allies are following. The Heaven Guard are still in orbit. Would you like us to follow instead of simply watching and reporting?”

“No!” Miketh said quickly before Ekimet could answer. “You have no weapons. Don’t make a threat you can’t carry through. Just…just come back.” She looked at Ekimet, moisture beading in her eyes. She hastily wiped at it with the back of her hand. “Just come home, okay?”

Relief flooded the pilot’s voice. “As you say. I’ll tell the rest of the Heaven Guard.”

The transmission ended. Miketh sniffed, and Ekimet did the same, although zie was far too well trained to let tears form.

“Is it over?” The high priest pushed his chair back from the dark andal table, his eyes on Ekimet’s chin, never higher. “Will they leave? What do they want?”

We are about to find out. Miketh pointed at the yellow line streaking across the dash. Call for you, Eki. We both know how this ends.

Indeed. They’d been sent here to die, the same as the fleet. Sent to appease the Mmnnuggls. Sent to keep Ardulum safe. Ekimet slid zir finger across the yellow line, and an audio feed beeped. Zie could have turned on the Neek’s archaic hologram projector, but…zie couldn’t look at a Mmnnuggl. Not right now. Not with so many dead bodies floating above zir.

“You have lost,” a monotone voice said over the comm.

“We understand that. Only two Ardulans remain, and we are prepared to surrender. We…we thank you for not harming the Neek forces.”

A low trill resounded before it changed to words. “Only Ardulans harm unarmed civilians. Only Ardulans would use a seeded planet of primitive sentients as a sacrifice.” The Mmnnuggl screeched. “Do you think we do not see a ruse when we see one? We have no hands and no feet, so therefore we have no minds?”

Ekimet tried to cut in. “We never meant—”

“You are of no concern to us. Two Ardulans mean nothing.” There was a whirring in the background, and then a new voice came on.

It didn’t have the usual clicking undertones of a Mmnnuggl accent. This voice, although deep and throaty, carried Common with ease. “Call your planet,” it said. “Call your planet and tell them to send the Eld of Ardulum and the flare named Emn. You have one week to comply.”

“One week!” Miketh said, her voice unusually high. “The Neek operate on stable wormhole technology. The time frame is unmanageable. Beyond that, if you aren’t bargaining with Neek lives, what is your collateral? The Neek planet is self-sustaining. They don’t care to travel. If you think Ekimet and I will get frustrated enough to call the Eld here so you can slaughter them, you’re as dumb as we thought!”

Laughter, biped laughter, came from the other end. “Underestimating the Nugels is a really, really stupid thing to do. One week, Ardulans. I suggest you start moving the Neek people to the cities. In one week, if we don’t have the Eld and the flare in-system, then we are coming down to the planet. Well, the smaller pods are, anyway. They’ll come down in the middle of the night when all the little Neek children are tucked snugly in bed, and they will set your forests on fire.”

“You will destroy the Systems if you destroy the andal of Neek!” Miketh exclaimed. “Their entire cellulose infrastructure is rooted in this planet. What happened to not harming the defenseless?”

Chittering rose up from the feed before the male voice drowned it out. “The whole of the Charted Systems is behind this decision. They understand the threat Ardulum poses. Physically, the Risalians are here, along with Minorans, the Oori, and more than a dozen other species from the Systems and the Alliance. A week is plenty of time to move the forest-dwelling Neek out of harm’s way. The Nugels are going to have their vengeance, Ardulans, and we will find the altered Ardulan woman. You just have to decide how much of your planet you want burned.”

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

J.S. Fields is a scientist who has perhaps spent too much time around organic solvents. She enjoys roller derby, woodturning, making chain mail by hand, and cultivating fungi in the backs of minivans. Nonbinary, but prefers female pronouns. Always up for a Twitter chat.

Website | Twitter

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Review: Dream in Color by Crystal Lacy

 

Dream in Color

 

Undergrad art student Ruth desires Dr. Mie Kamigawa from the moment they meet. But in addition to being a professor, Dr. Kamigawa—the sexy English professor with a beautiful body and silver-streaked hair which she doesn’t bother to dye—is married. Will Ruth be able to hide her attraction to the older woman when she takes her class for a semester?

A steamy 3,700 words long short story.

 

REVIEW

 

It was a lovely story. I liked the characters and the way the story was told but I think it was way too short. I guess it was the length what didn’t allow me to love it that much because it made hard to get in touch with the emotions and to really believe in them as a coupe. It feel a little bit too rushed and it felt more like lust than love at this point. I would love to see them fall in love in slower and sweeter way, both characters were really nice and I also would love to see what the future might bring to them. Overall it was a very enjoyable read. I think the issues I had with it are more related with my expectations on romance and not exactly with the story itself, so I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to someone looking for a FF story with age gap.
 

BOOK LINKS

Amazon | Goodreads

AUTHOR

Amazon | Website | Goodreads

Review: Moving by J P Walker

 

Moving by [Walker, J P]

 

How would you react if your first great love died? Would you get lost in the past? Or would you embrace your present and future?

When Maggie Fairway finds out Jane—her first great love—has passed away, she quickly becomes caught up in memories of their short yet passionate time together and loses sight of the present—the wonderful life she shares with her wife Jo and their children.

Can Maggie let go of the past before it irrevocably damages their relationship?

(Part of Never Too Late – a collection of nine stories featuring LGBTQIA characters over the age of fifty)

 

 

REVIEW

 

This was a new to me author. I really enjoy the story a lot. It is a little short, but it was meant to be that way because, even though I read it alone, is part of the Never Too Late anthology that features characters of 50 years old or older. I loved the concept and it has given me the opportunity of getting to know new authors like I did on this story.

 

I loved the way the story was told, alternating the past and the present. I liked the struggles Maggie had about her feeling and how much love, regret and doubt there was in her. Even though I liked her and I liked Jane too, I found them so frustrating at times, considering the love it was obvious was there and how little would it take to make things work, both of them were willing to sacrifice so little to make things better. I was mad at them for that.

 

Jo was a nice character, but I guess she was too nice, too perfect, everything I dislike. I guess she was good and I don’t doubt everyone will love her, but I just prefer more imperfect characters, maybe a little more like Maggie, even with the moments she made me angry. Overall it was a bittersweet and beautiful story.

 

BOOK LINKS

Amazon | Never Too Late | Goodreads

AUTHOR

Amazon | Goodreads

Audiobook Review: Syncopated Rhythm by Erik Schubach

Syncopated Rhythm

 

Amber LaLanie burst upon the music scene a decade ago like a ball of fun energy.

Her “live for the day” attitude has hid her insecurity and extreme loneliness in the sea of people around her.

Then she met a production intern, Kylee, who has a way of drawing out the real Amber that lies within.

This is set in the same world as Music of the Soul but is a standalone book.

 

REVIEW

 

This was so good. I wanted to read it, it seem like a nice story but I’m not much of a FF reader so I wasn’t expecting to liked it as much as I did. Amber and Kylee were so lovely. It might be part of a series but it worked perfectly as a stand-alone.

I listen to the audiobook. It had a nice steady pace. I loved the characters, they both were nice but Amber’s insecurities seem so relatable that she became my favorite. It wasn’t as if Kylee was so self-assure. She had issues too, but there was some charm in Amber that got my attention.

The plot was fine. It was a very enjoyable story. I also liked some of the secondary characters and how sweetly the romance was manage. Amber and Kylee were so adorable together, they made such a nice couple.

The narration had some ups and downs for me. There were times when I wasn’t sure which of them were talking, which made things a little confusing. But I did liked the way the narrator’s voice sound so happy at times, it was really easy to connect emotions based on the way the book was narrated.

Review: The Cybernetic Tea Shop by Meredith Katz

The Cybernetic Tea Shop

 

Clara Gutierrez is a highly-skilled technician specializing in the popular ‘Raise’ AI companions. Her childhood in a migrant worker family has left her uncomfortable with lingering in any one place, so she sticks around just long enough to replenish her funds before she moves on, her only constant companion Joanie, a fierce, energetic Raise hummingbird.

Sal is a fully autonomous robot, the creation of which was declared illegal ages earlier due to ethical concerns. She is older than the law, however, at best out of place in society and at worst hated. Her old master is long dead, but she continues to run the tea shop her master had owned, lost in memories of the past, slowly breaking down, and aiming to fulfill her master’s dream for the shop.

When Clara stops by Sal’s shop for lunch, she doesn’t expect to find a real robot there, let alone one who might need her help. But as they begin to spend time together and learn more about each other, they both start to wrestle with the concept of moving on…

 

REVIEW

 

This was nice. I wasn’t really expecting to like it since is not in my favorite genre, but it was really good.

Both main characters were very likable. Even though I liked them both as much, I think Sal was a more interesting character because of her particular origin and it had my attention from the start guessing how would she react to some events or what things might make the reader noticed that she was different.

The plot was good, but I didn’t appreciate some of the events near the end. I kind of hope things would worked different, I didn’t enjoy unnecessary suffer and there were some things that just feel that ways. Other than that, I really liked the book.

Review: Portrait of a Crossroads by Kelly Rand

Portrait of a Crossroads by [Rand, Kelly]

 

Since finding her father’s body at the bottom of the basement stairs, Annette’s been drifting through her days, watching cars pass down the rural Ontario crossroads beside her house. Her brothers have no great ambitions, but Annette remembers a time when she did. She just can’t remember what they are.

Then she meets her neighbour, Sadie, a tattooed, world-weary, newly single portrait artist. Something about Sadie awakens something in Annette — the essence she captures in her subjects, perhaps, or the way the old familiar crossroads seem so fresh and promising from the view out Sadie’s window.

Annette begins to help Sadie, cleaning brushes and filing invoices between long lazy afternoons of conversations and shared silences. Soon, though, Annette wants more from her enigmatic neighbor, and their slowly heating friendship melts into passionate nights. Somewhere along the way, Annette discovers that her lover has illuminated for her, as with the people Sadie paints, not just her essence but her own endless worlds of possibilities

 

REVIEW

 

I’m not really sure about this. I didn’t disliked it but I can’t say I was very interested in the story either. I got attracted by it because of its beautiful cover, but I ended up wanting so much more from it.

Annette was a nice character, so was Sadie, but I don’t think I really got to know any of them. There wasn’t much of a plot development and, if it was consider a romance, I didn’t think it was very romantic.

What I did liked about it, and I don’t know if this was intentional, was a melancholy feeling all along the book. It was a little slow paced but I think it was appropriate for the general emotion I perceived, maybe related to Annette’s grieving although there wasn’t too much information about her relationship with her father.

Review: Spring Tide by Tami Veldura

Spring Tide

 

Cancer is the watercraft-branch of the privatized Zodiac Forces. If you can float a boat, you’ll find Cancer operatives on the water investigating. Whiplash and Cardinal are two soldiers off the coast of Italy, hot on the trail of an ivory smuggling gang.

Instead of ivory, they find a message in a bottle calling for help. It’s ten years old and the case is probably cold, but Whiplash knows a proper adventure when she sees one and Cardinal is along for the ride. It gets personal when the trail leads back to the very smugglers they were tracking. Both Whip and Cards are kidnapped and the woman who threw that message in a bottle: she locked Cardinal in the forward berth of the ship herself.

Was it a trap for the Zodiac women or does the lady pirate want out? Separated from her partner and supplies, it’s up to Cards to keep it together and get herself free. If it means pretending to cooperate, even pretending to fall in love, Cardinal won’t pull any punches.

 

REVIEW

 

I have some mixed feelings about this book. I liked it overall but there were a lot of things that bother me, most of it silly things and not relevant to the plot but they bother me nonetheless.

The plot was good. I enjoyed the conflicts that were presented to the main characters. I wasn’t too fond on Whiplash or Cardinal but there’s this other character that instantly got my attention. She was really interesting and with some bittersweet moments that were very endearing. I did have some problems even with her at the end because she seemed, in some aspects, more naïve than she should be. I understood the circumstances but I still felt that way.

There is a little romance but I don’t think it’s the most important part of the story or maybe I was the one who dismissed it quickly because I’m not really into insta-love kind of relationships.

I felt so distracted by their names, I spend all the reading time wishing they were named something different and I was very confused by all those zodiac names, I get it’s part of a series and the zodiac is relevant to it, but I even ended the book without understanding what was that about.

Overall I liked it, the story was really good. I didn’t loved it but I’m sure I’ll be reading more books from the author in the future.