The Crystalline Crucible by Adam Rowan


The Crystalline Crucible
Adam Rowan

Genre: New Adult 
Publisher: Spinning Monkey Press
Date of Publication:  May 14, 2024
ISBN: 9798985769562
ASIN: B0CXYM3R8B
Word Count: 90000 

Tagline: Treasure comes in many forms

Book Description: 

Maxwell Jacobs, a neurodivergent 21-year-old with a passion for knights, Tetris and cheese sandwiches, harbours an audacious dream-to become the greatest treasure hunter in England. 

His chance comes with The Crystalline Crucible, a treasure-hunting contest promising untold wealth and answers to the world’s biggest secrets. However, Max’s mission gets off to a rocky start when he’s arrested for breaking into a museum in search of a clue. His fear of leaving his hometown, Stapleford, his cynical best friend, Rosie Shaw, and his clumsy, awkward nature only serve to complicate things further. Overall, his prospects seem dim. 

That is, until Max crosses paths with Khalil Ahmed, a former criminal seeking redemption and quick cash. Despite their differences, their shared desperation draws them into The Crystalline Crucible. Together, they’ll decipher cryptic clues and embark on an epic nationwide adventure, with high stakes and a singular goal: to find treasure!

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CHAPTER 1: THE WOOLLY MAMMOTH THIEF

In the seven-decade-long existence of the Nottingham Natural History Museum, no break-in had ever occurred until five a.m. on one fateful Saturday. The trespasser’s name was Maxwell Oscar Jacobs, a local retail worker. In his spare time, he enjoyed playing Tetris, doing crossword puzzles, and—his preferred pastime—a spot of treasure hunting.

With a stone he’d found on the pavement, Max had smashed the museum’s back window and climbed into it by balancing on a rubbish bin. Shortly thereafter, he padded warily through the geology exhibit surrounded by models of Earth, not enjoying the experience in the slightest. Surveillance cameras mounted above on the wall scanned him, but he dearly hoped the authorities hadn’t been dispatched to arrest him. They shouldn’t be. After all, he hadn’t poured chocolate milk on the power box outside for nothing.

Max was twenty-one years old, rather tall with stick insect limbs. Bright blond hair and a poorly cut fringe topped his head. He wore a grey Cookie Monster hoodie, straight-legged jeans, Mickey Mouse socks and a cheap, halfbroken children’s watch with coloured numbers. He also wore blue trainers with the shoelaces undone and carried a Tony the Tiger rucksack in which to store the mammoth tusk he was after. To top it all, he had a scabbard that held a broadsword called Fleshrender, Max’s favourite possession.

Pacing along, he thought passingly that he should have dressed the part more and put on a ski mask. His heart pounded as he passed by the dinosaur exhibit, unease assailing him. It was too late to go home at this point. He just had to find the mammoth tusk before daylight.

He gathered himself, drew his sword and focused on not tripping while he navigated through the dark, winding corridors. Even the smallest of noises made him jump—broadsword at the ready—as he crept through the empty halls.

With the lights off, the museum was practically a haunted house. While he tiptoed into the zoology section, glimmering rays of moonlight streamed in through the windows, falling gently over him. Shadowed model animals lined the walls, felt rabbits and plastic spiders sitting on table displays. A frightening bear stood with its paws raised and its sharp jaws wide open as if
ready to pounce on him at a moment’s notice. Max’s eyes widened, but within seconds he discerned to his relief it was just taxidermy.

At last, the mammoth appeared behind a red security barrier not far away. With every muscle tensed, he gazed in awe at its gigantic figure. But his jaw dropped as he realised, despite how carefully he had planned this mission, he’d forgotten one crucial part: how to extract the mammoth tusk out of the skeleton. It looked like it’d been screwed in tightly. Should’ve
brought a screwdriver. Oh, bother.

Pushing his shoulders back, he sheathed his weapon, strode right up to
the mammoth and peered at the display label. It read:

This woolly mammoth skeleton was discovered in 1925 by a team of esteemed archaeologists in rural Devon. It was the first almost entirely preserved specimen ever uncovered in England. It is a relic of priceless historical value. DO NOT TOUCH.

Deciding to disobey and wrest the tusk out, Max stepped over the maroon rope that encircled the mammoth and wrapped his hands around it. Like Arthur pulling the sword from the stone, there was nothing else to do but pull really, really hard.

After counting down from three, he tugged the mammoth tusk towards him with all his might. It took a few tries, but finally the tusk separated from the woolly mammoth skeleton with a nasty crack, and he fell on his backside.

Yet before he could rejoice, he heard the sound of a creak.

A door opened across the room.

“PUT YOUR HANDS BEHIND YOUR BACK! LAY DOWN ON THE GROUND!”

Max turned around and scrambled to his feet, mouth wide open. Police with intimidating weapons emerged out of nowhere, swarming him. He gaped at the approaching horde before looking back down at the tusk. This couldn’t be happening.

The thought crossed his mind to run. But what was the point? There were too many police. He was toast!

He dropped the mammoth tusk on the floor and unsheathed his sword.

“Listen, this is all a b-big misunderstanding,” he stuttered.

“NO MISUNDERSTANDING!” a second officer yelled, a woman in a navy tunic with a bulletproof vest. She inched over to him. “HANDS BEHIND YOUR BACK NOW!”

Max stared at the police, aghast. They think I’m a criminal. How ridiculous. I’m just an innocent treasure hunter!

“Let me e-explain. It’s v-very, very important for you to let me eexplain,” Max stammered.

He pointed his sword at them threateningly, before spotting a paunchy man who held what looked like a laser pointer and was aiming it at him.

Max swung the sword around as a warning. “Please. If you’d just give me a second to clear this up, I’m sure that—arghhh!”

His words cut out with a bloodcurdling scream. Electricity surged through his body. The red dot he’d seen on his chest hadn’t been from a laser pointer at all, but a taser. Limbs spasming, Max fell onto the floor and crumpled into a ball as the police closed in on him.

About the Author: 

Author Adam Rowan’s passion for writing began in childhood, although he admits his early attempts were far from perfect. After a hiatus during his teenage years, Adam rediscovered his love for writing in his early twenties and has been dedicated to improving his craft ever since. In 2022, MotherButterfly Books published Adam’s first novel. His second book, The Crystalline Crucible, is published by Spinning Monkey Press and is inspired by his experiences growing up in England. When he’s not immersed in the world of writing, Adam is an electronic musician and avid film fan. With the support of his family, Adam continues to pursue his writing dreams, understanding that patience is key in the journey of creating a book. 



Amazon Author Page: https://amzn.to/3w3uH0d 



The Heart of Chenoa by Creole Noir



The Heart of Chenoa
The Black Dove Legacy 
Book One
Creole Noir 

Genre: Magical Realism, YA, Coming of Age
Date of Publication: June 2, 2023
ISBN:  979-8396415935
ASIN: B0C6VYSPF1
Number of pages: 275 pages
Word Count:  44,953
Cover Artist: Creole Noir 

Tagline: Everyone knew she was the belle of the ball, and it was hard to imagine anyone ever taking her crown away from her.

Book Description:

The Heart of Chenoa is a heartwarming tale about a young woman’s courage to leave her abusive boyfriend and start a new life in a new town. Along the way, she finds a group of misfit friends who become like family to her, including the inseparable siblings Brooke and Jerald, and the popular but conflicted JC, who harbors a secret love for Jerald. As they navigate high school drama and personal trauma, they come together to seek revenge against a conniving classmate, and ultimately learn to embrace their unique gifts and find strength in their bond.

The story explores themes of love, friendship, betrayal, and redemption as the characters navigate their way through the ups and downs of life. Brooke’s premonitions and Lucille’s powers add a touch of magic to the story, while Jerald learns to control his trauma-induced alter ego. Ultimately, they discover that they have grown and evolved in unexpected ways and that their bond is stronger than anything life can throw at them.


Excerpt:

Amidst the sprawling fields of Chenoa, a small town nestled in the heart of the Texas, a tale of resilience and friendship unfolds. At its core lies the story of a young woman named Indigo, whose journey from darkness to light weaves a tapestry of courage, love, and the transformative power of friendship.

Indigo had known no other reality than the one she shared with her abusive boyfriend, Troy. The shackles of fear bound her tightly, choking the life out of her dreams. But one fateful night, fueled by a flicker of courage ignited deep within her heart, she made the decision to break free.

With nothing but a few belongings and a trembling resolve, Indigo set out on a journey to start anew in a town where nobody knew her name. Chenoa welcomed her with open arms, offering sanctuary from the storm that had raged within her for far too long.

As Indigo tentatively navigated the unfamiliar school of her new home, she stumbled upon a group of misfits whose warmth and acceptance enveloped her like a comforting embrace. Among them were Brooke and Jerald, inseparable siblings whose laughter echoed through the halls of Chenoa High School, and JC, whose inner turmoil simmered beneath his charming exterior.

Together, they formed an unlikely family, bound not by blood but by the unbreakable ties of friendship and shared experiences. Each member of their motley crew bore scars of their own, but together, they found solace in the company of kindred spirits.

As high school dramas unfolded and personal traumas resurfaced, Indigo and her newfound companions stood united against the tide of adversity. They rallied together to seek justice against a conniving classmate, their bonds growing stronger with each shared victory.

But beneath the surface of their idyllic friendship lay secrets waiting to be unearthed. JC harbored a love for Jerald that dared not speak its name, while Brooke’s premonitions whispered of futures yet to unfold. And in the shadows, Jerald battled with the demons of his past, struggling to tame the beast within.

Yet through it all, they clung to each other, their hearts intertwined in a tapestry of love and loyalty. As they confronted their deepest fears and embraced their unique gifts, they discovered that strength lies not in solitude but in the unbreakable bonds of friendship.

In The Heart of Chenoa, amidst the Spanish moss trees and the whispering winds, Indigo and her friends learned that the greatest battles are fought not with fists but with hearts open wide. And as they embraced the magic woven into the fabric of their lives, they found redemption in the unlikeliest of places: within themselves, and within the hearts of those they held dear.


About the Author:

Creole Noir is an author who has a passion for writing stories that not only bring suspense, but also delve into deeper themes of social justice and class disparities. His debut novel Cry of the Black Dove follows London and her friends as they embark on a mission to get revenge after being wronged by those in power. Creole hopes his work will help readers think about these issues and the marginalization that often follows. Outside of writing, he enjoys hosting a podcast with Kinky Boots. Creole currently lives in Tyler, Texas where he obtained an Associates degree in General Studies from Tyler Junior College before engaging in healthcare labor such as caregiving and teaching life skills. He now writes full-time.

Keep in touch with Creole Noir’s work by following him on Instagram or checking out his podcast. He loves hearing from readers about their favorite stories and characters. With Creole Noir’s vivid imagination and captivating voice, each of his novels will keep you hooked until the very end.

Keep in touch with Creole Noir via the web:






Bound Across Time by Annie R McEwen



Bound Across Time
Book One
Annie R McEwen 

Genre: Paranormal Romance, Ghost Romance
Publisher: Harbor Lane Books
Date of Publication: May 7, 2024
ASIN: B0CV4RPDDX
Number of pages: 324

Tagline: In a castle on the shores of the Irish Sea, she’s met the love of her life. Clever, witty, strong, fiercely attractive.  What’s the catch? He’s a ghost.

Book Description:

Historian CeCe’s dream job in a Welsh castle goes sideways when she’s ordered to ditch the history and lead ghost walks. That’s the worst of her worries until she meets Patrick: strong, handsome, irresistible…and dead since 1761.

Desire and hope flare in Patrick’s heart when CeCe touches him while, for CeCe, Patrick is everything. But she’s in the bright world of the living while he’s trapped in the shadows. 

Loving a ghost is deadly business. Patrick and CeCe struggle to outrace fate as it hurtles them toward disaster. Can the ancient riddle of an Irish seer save them? The spells of Welsh witches? 

Or can powers CeCe didn’t even know she possessed bridge time and defeat death?

Book Trailer: https://shorturl.at/ajuE0


Excerpt from Bound Across Time, by Annie R McEwen

You’re an idjit, Patrick. Death was always too good for you.

He should have gone slower with her, no doubt about it. He was a lout, a brute, to startle her so thoroughly, and that was never his intent. He could have—no, he should have—whispered, or moaned, or shimmered from a distance. Instead, he was hasty.

Hasty? He was a burning brand of desire. Who could blame him after two hundred-fifty…how long had it been? He’d lost count of the years.

That was still no reason to be an imbecilic knave, popping up like codswalloping Punch on a puppet stage while wearing the same filthy linen he was tipped overboard in when the Earl didn’t have the decency to give him a proper burial. At least the sea water had washed away the blood.

His honor, his common sense—perhaps they’d washed away as well. Within reach of this woman, he could remember nothing he’d learned of subtle romance and courtly manners. All he could think of was making her his, now until the end of time.

What an embarrassment he was, to his sainted mother, to his upbringing, to the gentleman he was reared to be. An embarrassment to every Irish bard who ever sang songs or wrote poems about women who were doves, and lilies, and other things he couldn’t remember.

He did remember that they were fragile and easily startled. Easily driven away.
Next time, I will be slow. I will slowly and gently explain things to her. Unusual things. Highly unusual, uncanny, frightening, nigh incomprehensible things.

Sure, now, Patrick, me boyo, that’ll be a stroll along the banks of the Shannon.

By the right hand of God, but she was beautiful. Slumbering on the stone floor, her skin smooth ivory but gilded, as though the sun had kissed her once and then fallen in love, unable to leave. She’d lost her cap, and her hair—rich, deep brown and burnished with red, like brandy—tumbled around her neck and shoulders. Her sun-brushed skin, high and perfect cheekbones, the delicate slant of her eyes, the plump swell of her breasts above the top edge of her bodice, the curves of the body he could imagine pressed to his own aching and lonely one…

Beauty itself, she was, not only of body but of mind. In the weeks before she’d seen him, he’d watched her exercise that beautiful mind among the slower thinkers of the Castle, who doubtless envied her. She was stubborn, spirited, and quick-witted—he liked that.
He crouched over her crumpled form, not touching, only taking in her scent. Rose attar and mint—he liked that, too.

The only thing he didn’t care for was the name she went by, See-see. What sort of name was that? It was something you called a canary. He would never call her that, not when the French name with which she’d been christened was just like her.

Céleste, meaning heavenly.

She was waking now. He rose and backed away. Time for him to depart, as he must, and breathe a prayer. Not for himself, there was no point to that. If God had ever listened to him, he wouldn’t be where he was, and he deserved no better. His prayer would be for her, the angel who defied or escaped God’s curse to light his endless night.

Come back, Céleste Gowdie. Please come back.




About the Author:

Annie R McEwen is a career historian who’s lived in six countries, under every roof from a canvas tent to a Georgian Era manor house and driven herself to work in everything from a donkey cart to a vintage Peugeot. For her, it feels perfectly natural to create stories of desperate love and powerful secrets in faraway times and places.

Winner of the 2022 Page Turners Award, Genre (Romance) Category, Annie also garnered the First Place 2022 RTTA (Romance Through Ages Award from Romance Writers of America; Post-Victorian to WWI Category), the 2023 MAGGIE Award, and the 2023 Daphne du Maurier Award. Her Regency murder mystery “Death at Dunarven” appears in the 2024 Murder Most International Anthology. 

Annie’s books are published by Harbor Lane Books (US), Bloodhound Books (UK), and The Wild Rose Press. When she’s not in her 1920s bungalow in Florida, Annie lives, writes, and explores castles in Wales. 









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