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Monday, June 24, 2013

{REVIEW + EXCERPT} Tethers by Jack Croxall [Indie & Self-Published Author Event]

Heya, lovelies! I know I haven't been active in blogging lately, sorry! I'm still trying to juggle my time between school, reading and stuffs, so not much time for blogging these days. But I'll still find time to post reviews at least once a week, I promise. ^__^

Anyways, this post is not about me but about an indie author that I'll be featuring today. This is part of the INDIE & SELF-PUBLISHED AUTHOR EVENT this month of June hosted by the lovely ladies at Say It With Books. Yep, you guess it right. This event features Indie and Self-published authors, and there are a lot of them out there! So be sure to head on to Say It With Books and check the others blogs participating in this event. There are author interviews, book reviews, excerpt, and giveaways all month long from different authors so you'll surely find something you'll like.

Now, may I present to you author Jack Croxall and his book Tethers. ^__^

Tethers

Author: Jack Croxall
Genre: YA Fantasy
Published: February 5th 2013 by Amazon
Source: Author
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In the wake of a cold Victorian winter, Karl Scheffer and Esther Emerson discover an anonymous journal filled with strange passages and bizarre scribblings.

The journal soon draws them into a covert and sinister conspiracy, a conspiracy centred around an otherworldly artefact with the power to change everything …

Karl and Esther have spent almost every day of their thirteen years in the quiet market town of Shraye. Stifled by their rural surroundings and frustrated by their unfulfilled ambitions, they find the allure of the journal’s mysterious pages impossible to ignore. The book seems to be beckoning them away from Shraye, away from their homes and towards the coast where an unsolved disappearance has set in motion a dark chain of events.

The voyage the teenagers soon find themselves undertaking is one of desperate importance and true peril; it will change the way they see the world, and each other, forever.


Prologue: Locus Two


MARRIOTT SET HIS oil lamp on the table beside him. ‘Who goes there?’ he said, reaching for the pistol tucked into the back of his belt.

The room’s iron door swung open and at once a bright light flooded into the gloom.

Marriott squinted. ‘Who goes there?’ he said again, louder this time.

‘Calm down, Marriott,’ answered a strident and familiar voice, ‘it’s only me, lad. I’m coming in now ...’

As his eyes began to adjust, Marriott saw it was indeed the grey-haired Mr Lawford stepping in through the open door, and that he was holding a large lantern at arm’s length in front of him. Unexpectedly, Mr Lawford was followed into the room by a second man Marriott didn’t recognise. The second man wore a long winter cloak which licked across the floor as he walked, the glaring lantern in his hand throwing a lank shadow in his wake.

Marriott shuddered as he realised the second man was staring straight at him.

‘That won’t work in here, boy,’ the stranger snarled, apparently disgusted.

Marriott had forgotten to withdraw his pistol, he slipped it away immediately.

‘Ah, sorry, my fault,’ said Mr Lawford, walking over the soot-stained floor and towards Marriott’s table, ‘should have told you about that already, lad. This building isn’t like the others you see, it’s a tad – how should I put it – funny.’ His grey moustache parted as he smiled.

Marriott said nothing; he knew better than to ask his employer to explain himself.

‘Anyway,’ said Mr Lawford, ‘were there any problems whilst I was gone?’ He placed his lantern on top of the table as he spoke.

‘No, sir,’ Marriott reported. ‘All quiet since you left, sir.’

‘Excellent, good work, Marriott,’ said Mr Lawford routinely. ‘Now where on earth did I put that ...’ He began fumbling around his jacket pockets for something.

Marriott took the opportunity to look back at the stranger. He was still standing near the open door, but now his lean and clean-shaven face was staring distantly into the darkness concealing the far end of the room, his right hand gently massaging the hilt of the sheathed sword protruding menacingly from within his cloak.

‘Right then, lad,’ said Mr Lawford, raising a handkerchief to his brow. ‘Be a good chap and hang my lantern up over there, would you?’ He pointed to a lantern fastening above a large coal scuttle not far from the table.

‘Yes, sir,’ answered Marriott, picking up the lantern.

‘Oh, and Marriott,’ said Mr Lawford, before Marriott could walk away with it, ‘this gentleman is Mr Dufor. You won’t have met him yet, will you? Mr Dufor is our principal investor – very important you know who Mr Dufor is, lad.’

Marriott turned politely to face Mr Dufor. ‘Sir,’ he said, nodding respectfully.

Mr Dufor ran an uncomfortably long and calculating gaze over him but said nothing.

Determined not to show any unease, Marriott turned calmly before walking over to the coal scuttle and attaching Mr Lawford’s lantern to the rusty fastening above it.

Once it was properly mounted and casting its light across the ceiling, Marriott could finally see the entirety of the room he had been dutifully guarding since nightfall. He instantly realised two things. Firstly, the room was huge. It was much larger than he had previously thought, and was perhaps even larger than the stone storehouse above ground he had been tasked with guarding the night before. And secondly, what he had supposed in the darkness to be the room’s central supporting pillar was, in fact, not a pillar at all. It instead appeared to be some kind of mechanical bronze column. 

The column’s reflective surface was segmented into elongated panels, with the topmost row connected by thick black cables to several metallic struts arranged in formation throughout the room. Marriott couldn’t tell what the struts were in turn connected to because the lower portion of his view was obscured by stacks of splintered crates and by piles of seared metallic equipment.

Wide-eyed, Marriott turned back to look at Mr Lawford and Mr Dufor. Mr Lawford had taken the second lantern from Mr Dufor, and was now guiding him along a crate-lined passageway leading towards the reflective column. Marriott strained hard to listen in on their conversation.

‘... can see we’ve managed to repair the damage caused by the last test,’ said Mr Lawford assuringly. ‘All that’s left to do now is to remove the crates and redundant equipment and we’ll be ready for the next phase. I’m pleased to report that the situation is the same at Locus One as well as at Locus Three.’

‘And you’re certain you’ve corrected the malfunction?’ asked Mr Dufor.

‘Oh yes, Julian is quite sure his modifications will prevent –’

‘And what of the girl?’

‘Ah, yes ... our young Scot,’ replied Mr Lawford solemnly. ‘She did briefly regain consciousness this morning, but she wouldn’t stop spouting the same hysterical nonsense so in the end we had to sedate –’

‘What exactly did she say?’ asked Mr Dufor.

‘Oh, nothing really, it was just a result of the head trauma I should –’

‘What did she say?’

‘Really, I’m quite sure it was just a delusional –’

Mr Dufor raised his voice. ‘When I ask you a question Mr Lawford, I expect an immediate and appropriate response.’ His aggravated words carried the faintest tinge of a French accent.

‘Of course,’ replied Mr Lawford at once, ‘my apologies.’

‘Now tell me,’ said Mr Dufor, relaxing his tone, ‘what did the girl say?’

‘It’s preposterous of course,’ said Mr Lawford nervously, ‘but the silly girl was quite adamant that tonight you’re going to –’ He paused momentarily. ‘– that tonight you’re going to murder her.’

They disappeared behind a particularly high stack of crates and Marriott could hear no more.


Chapter One: Karl and Esther


‘AND STAY AWAY from Mr Stratham’s house!’ yelled Karl’s mother down the stairs.

Karl pulled a flat cap over his messy brown hair and slipped eagerly out of the front door. He had spent much of the day wandering about the town with nowhere in particular to go, but now, as the afternoon drew to a close, his mother’s stark words had finally enthused him. Gaining pace, he passed through his front gate and began recalling the moments just before he’d been caught trespassing in Mr Stratham’s back garden a fortnight ago.

Seconds ahead of being spotted from a third floor window, he remembered stealing a brief but clear view into one of the rooms on Mr Stratham’s ground floor. Everything had seemed normal at first; papers strewn lazily about the top of old tables, gnarled furniture facing a well-used fireplace. Normal at least, until he had spied a single peculiar object. Atop a bulky drinking cabinet and beside a near-emptied crystal decanter, a small and ornately engraved silver box had sat staring proudly at him as it basked in the morning sunlight. With one of its sides covered in a mosaic of intricate components, the box, as Karl was now assuring himself, had no business in sitting atop a fusty old man’s drinking cabinet and definitely deserved further investigation.

“…you can’t save someone from their own decisions.”

A very interesting tale of bravery and friendship. I really enjoyed reading TETHERS and following Karl and Esther’s journey. The two friends are different in so many ways yet they get along well with each other. Also, this difference gave the characters their uniqueness and it was enjoyable reading about them, their thoughts and reactions to different situations. I liked Karl’s cleverness and kindness and Esther’s wit and feistiness. Their companions Mr. Cauldwell and Harland stood as their guardians throughout the journey. While Mr. Cauldwell is stern, Harland is the friendlier one, but they are both good guardians and mentors to Karl and Esther. 

The flow of the words and the pace of the story are also good. It was smooth and consistent and the build-up of suspense is steady. I did not have a hard time connecting with the characters and the plot even though the story is set in the 1800s. The words are also simple and easy to understand without compromising the depth of the story. 

The turn of events towards the end is remarkable, too. TETHERS ends with a bang. Literally. The epilogue bit is also an effective way of giving the readers something to look forward to in the next book. It is not a cliffhanger but there’s enough mystery to keep the reader’s interest. Definitely a good read!


Author’s Introduction 
The first thing I wrote of Tethers was, perhaps unsurprisingly, the first paragraph of Chapter One (the prologue came later). I had a picture in my head of a Victorian boy excited by something he had seen in an old man’s house, and I started writing with nothing but that in mind because I wanted to know what that something was, and why it excited my protagonist so much. In a very real sense, the entire novel is an answer to those two questions.


Born in High Wycombe, Jack Croxall now lives in rural Nottinghamshire with his chocolate Labrador, Archie. He has a degree in Environmental Science from the University of Nottingham and currently toils away as a science writer in between working on his books. He tweets via @JackCroxall and blogs at www.jackcroxall.co.uk

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Julie @ Books and Insomnia

Julie is a Filipina blogger who pretends she has insomnia so she can stay up late reading. When she's not buried in books, she can be found watching anime, drinking chocolate-flavored instant coffee, lurking on the internet, daydreaming and talking about herself in third person. She loves purple and anything sweet!

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