Categories
Author Interviews & Guest Posts Fantasy

Sunday Brunch Author Interview Series: with Clemy Warner-Thompson

Welcome to the second installment of the Sunday Brunch Author Interview series! It is a working goal to (maybe find a better title and) bring an Author Interview to you lovely people every Sunday morning!

Today I have author Clemy Walker-Thompson joining all the way from the UK! Without further ado, here she is!

 

Thank you for taking the time to chat! Tell everyone a little about yourself and your writing!

Hi everybody, my name is Clemy. I have been writing since I was thirteen, and I turn thirty at the end of this year. How time has flown! I love anything fantasy, reading books like Hush Hush, Fallen and Eragon. The books I write are also fantasy, with most of them being Young Adult (YA).. Only my newest two are reaching into the New Adult (NA) category. I have two gorgeous cats who are only just two, and I live with my boyfriend in the UK.

 

What was the Indie publishing journey like for you? Do you have any tips for fellow indie authors trying to publish a book?

After my first book was completed and I’d started working on the next two in the series, I went straight to self-publishing. As every author does, I have the dream of one day seeing my book in a well-known book shop, but for my writing journey so far self-publishing has been the right direction for me. I am a little shy and the idea of being in the public eye is very daunting, so I like the freedom and control you have from self-publishing. It can be very hard at times, with all the marketing and promoting you have to do, but it gives you a taste of what being published is like. 

Make sure you have faith in your own work, before you search for readers

 

I found your book on Smashwords but had not heard of that site before, what led you to it? What do you like about it instead of say, Amazon?

I was only fifteen when I first started looking into self-publishing. I didn’t have a job and I needed something that would be free. My brother, who had published his first book at 16 with Amazon had always said after it was made available, that once something was on Amazon it could never be removed, and the idea of that just put me off a little.

Smashwords has served me well, so too has Lulu where my paperbacks are available, but I will be looking into Amazon a little more now that I have polished off some of my earlier books.

 

What’s your relationship like with social media?  Have you found good support in the writing community?

From the start, I have always had a presence on Facebook. My page has 2000+ likers and followers, and at the beginning it gave me a great push. I met some other authors and arranged some book signings all through Facebook, but as I have matured as a writer I feel that Facebook has very little positive engagement now. Recently I moved over to Instagram and the writing community there is amazing.

Instagram definitely has the engagement with readers and other authors that I was missing from Facebook. Sometimes I spend a little too much time on social media, but when you self-publish that is something you have to do a lot of in order to get your books out there. You should take breaks from social media though!

 

There are a literal endless supply of indie writers out there, has it been a challenge to have your work seen?

Definitely. I still struggle to this day. If you don’t have the confidence or the courage to get yourself out there, it can be a very difficult task. I have had some amazing readers, and in turn some fantastic reviews left for my books, but I still feel as if I haven’t pushed my books out into the world enough yet.

I checked last week and I have sold to four continents so far, which is such a proud announcement for to me make, but there are places I still haven’t got to yet!

Four continents is amazing though, congrats on that!

 

YA books are changing now with popular themes, what themes do you like to write about? 

I love encouraging strong relationships between family and friends. There are often sibling characters in most of my books which are always very close. I love writing about redemption and proving oneself. Destiny and fate are also themes I like to work with, but I make my characters always follow their heart, even if that means going against the fate that is planned for them. 

 

You started writing at age ..13? What inspired you then and now?

My brother who is four years older than me, self-published his first book at 16. I’d grown up with 4 brothers, with films and games and many books shared throughout the years, and I just wanted to follow in his footsteps. The funny thing is that I continued on with the writing journey and he didn’t. It was only the one book he self-published in the end, and I am currently working on my 8th

 

Alright let’s end this with the easy rapid fire general bookish questions:  Do you have a favorite book that you always recommend? Favorite character? What genre do you usually read? Do you have any strange and wonderful bookish habits?

I love Roald Dahl: Matilda, The Twits, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

For my favourite character I would choose Saphira out of Eragon. She is the dragon that hatches for him.

Fantasy. Anything and all that is fantasy.

Hmmm, that’s a hard one. I think I’d have to say I always buy a book because of the cover.  Even if the story sounds amazing, if I don’t like the cover I won’t buy it. 

 

Thank you so much again for offering to interview! If there is anything else you want to say about yourself, your novels, your life, or anything at all, please do so here!

I am very proud of where I have reached so far in my writing journey, but there are bigger and brighter points I have yet to get to. I appreciate every one of my readers and the reviews they leave. I wouldn’t still be writing now, if it wasn’t because of you all.


Find Clemy and her books!

On Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/ClemyWarnerThompson

On Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/cwarnerthompson/

On GoodReads:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5328411.Clemy_Warner_Thompson

To purchase E-Books

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/CWarnerThompson

To purchase paperbacks:

https://www.lulu.com/en/gb/shop/clemy-warner-thompson

Categories
Fantasy Thrillers

Comfort Me With Apples (ARC Review) by Catherynne M. Valente

Thank you so much to Tordotcom for the ARC of Comfort Me With Apples!  I received the book for free in exchange for an honest review, all opinions are my own! 

The editorial letter states that the book is extremely hard to describe because of spoilers, and that we just have to read it. I completely agree with this! I definitely really enjoyed it and recommend for a short, fast paced fall read with tons of atmosphere

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Comfort Me With Apples
  • Series: N/A
  • Author: Catherynne M. Valente
  • Publisher & Release: TorDotCom – 10/26/21
  • Length: 112 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 for pretty much anyone, it crosses genres!

Here is the book blurb:

A terrifying new thriller from bestseller Catherynne M. Valente …

Sophia was made for him. Her perfect husband. She can feel it in her bones. He is perfect. Their home together in Arcadia Gardens is perfect. Everything is perfect.

It’s just that he’s away so much. So often. He works so hard. She misses him. And he misses her. He says he does, so it must be true. He is the perfect husband and everything is perfect.

But sometimes Sophia wonders about things. Strange things. Dark things. The look on her husband’s face when he comes back from a long business trip. The questions he will not answer. The locked basement she is never allowed to enter. And whenever she asks the neighbors, they can’t quite meet her gaze…

But everything is perfect. Isn’t it?

Other than the book blurb, I don’t want to say too much about the plot itself because the whole thing leads up to the twist! The book lives for the twist.

Sophia is happy, living a perfect life in a perfect community called Arcadia Gardens. The book almost immediately starts introducing some fairy tale elements, but the reader has no idea what direction the story is going in. Is it a fairytale retelling? A fantasy? A new legend? Something out of folklore or mythology? A combination? Why is Sophia finding bones in the house and cracks in the facade of her existence?

With beautiful imagery, a mystery to solve, a general sense of unease, and a deeply atmospheric fairytale tone of voice, definitely you just have to read this one to find out exactly what is going on in Arcadia Gardens.  

It lists as a domestic thriller, fantasy, mythology.  I think there’s something in it for most readers, and it’s so short that it can be read in one sitting on a breezy October afternoon.

Thanks for reading!

Categories
Fantasy

The Echoed Realm (Blog Tour)!! By A.J. Vrana

Tour Banner with host names!

Thank you so much to Storytellers on Tour and A.J. Vrana for having me on the tour for The Echoed Realm!   I really enjoyed the first book in the duology (my review for The Hollow Gods is up on the blog too) and A.J. did a phenomenal job bringing this series to conclusion! Just in time for fall reading comes this darkly atmospheric, spooky, haunted and hallowed book where we get the real history of the wolf under the willow tree.

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: The Echoed Realm
  • Series: The Chaos Cycle Duology #2
  • Author: A.J. Vrana
  • Publisher & Release: Parliament House Press, 08/10/21
  • Length: 444 pgs
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 Yes for fans of book one, folklore, and unapologetic dark fantasy!

Here is the bookblurb:

Miya’s world ended in Black Hollow.

It’s been three years since the Dreamwalker upended her life and left her with a heavy burden. A fledgling to the ethereal realm, Miya stumbles into the nightmares of those haunted by spectres. Little does she know, one of them is coming for her, clutching a dark secret abreast.

Kai has found a new purpose with his companion, but the price is his freedom. Bound and beholden to Miya, he struggles to adjust to his new role as her vanguard.

Meanwhile, Mason discovers he may be a pawn trapped in a web of schemes. Was his time in Black Hollow an accident, or was it only the beginning of some greater machination?

As Black Hollow’s bloody stain spreads beyond its wooded borders, Miya fights to evade a past she barely understands. The Dreamwalker’s legacy is a vise grip, and it isn’t letting go. Primordial horrors draw near, fables come alive, and long-buried histories rise from the grave, ready to hunt.

Sharpen your claws and bloody your teeth. There’s fear to be sown.

Sharpen your claws and bloody your teeth. There’s fear to be sown

Three years after the events of The Hollow Gods, we see Miya and Kai settled into their new “normal”.  If you can call traversing the dreamscape after demons normal.  Kai has become tethered to the dreamwalker and he really isn’t a fan of this new bond.  There is old evil on the loose and the only way to free themselves and the town of Orme’s Rest is to confront age old trauma and make the choice to move forward.

I think that while reading The Hollow Gods, I missed the kernel of the story.  There was a certain level of ambiguity in the folklore that didn’t make 100% sense at the time, but reading book two answers all the big questions.  I think Vrana did this on purpose, gave us enough to appreciate the legends, and then told us the backstory and revealed the true meaning of The Chaos Cycle at the conclusion.

The folklore aka legend aka bedtime story is amazing.  We learn the origin of the black wolf, the creator, and the dreamwalker, and it’s as dark and bloody and violent as I could have possibly wanted and expected. 

My only question was – Where did Ama fit into it all? Where did she come into the legend? We even got Gavran’s back story so not including Ama felt like a big omission.

One of my favorite themes was how Miya and Kai both had to realize and appreciate their own worth in order to beat their literal and figurative demons.  Yes they were tethered together but individually they are both worth their weight in existence. 

I also looooved the theme that love is a choice, not a need or a calling or a hex or an ages old tether. 

Tie those themes into an utterly dark and atmospheric read that never once loses it’s character, and I think A.J. Vrana wrote the ultimately perfect fall read.

The dreamscape and the roots, trees, swamp, were practically their own characters in this book. I love when the setting and atmosphere are so alive. Fear is practically a living character as well,

The one thing I want to add is that if you tend to avoid horror novels because they are too scary – this really does not fit into that realm for me. It’s definitely a dark fantasy but I don’t want anyone to see “horror” and run! I absolutely recommend these as a quintessential fall spooky season read though!


Like the artwork that you see? Enter the giveaway by clicking here to win your choice of a poster!


Meet the Author!  You can click the tour link below to find all of her social media links!

A. J. Vrana is a Serbian-Canadian academic and writer from Toronto, Canada. She lives with her two rescue cats, Moonstone and Peanut Butter, who nest in her window-side bookshelf and cast judgmental stares at nearby pigeons. Her doctoral research examines the supernatural in modern Japanese and former-Yugoslavian literature and its relationship to violence. When not toiling away at caffeine-fueled, scholarly pursuits, she enjoys jewelry-making, cupcakes, and concocting dark tales to unleash upon the world.

 Please do check out the rest of the tour schedule for more info and to see what the others have to say about The Echoed Realm! 

Book Tour: The Echoed Realm by A. J. Vrana

Lastly here are some preorder links and goodreads!

Categories
Fantasy Young Adult

Bonded Fate (Book Tour + ARC Review) by Beck Michaels!

Bonded Fate by Beck Michaels

Thank you so much to Literary Bound Tours and Beck Michaels for the digital ARC of Bonded Fate! I liked book one, Divine Blood, quite a bit and was so happy to join the tour for the sequel!

Let me give you the link to the tour so you can check out what everyone else is saying too! Found here!

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Bonded Fate
  • Series: Guardians of the Maiden #2
  • Author: Beck Michaels
  • Publisher & Release: Pluma Press, 8/3/21
  • Length: 516 pgs
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟🌟 yes if you enjoyed book one!

Here is the book blurb:

JOINED BY BLOOD.

BOUND BY DESTINY.

Reeling from Cassiel’s confession, Dyna struggles to understand what the Blood Bond means for them both, all the while trying to stay one step ahead of a newfound enemy. When reuniting with a familiar sorceress, she realizes the only way to defeat Tarn is to find her Guardians—all of them.

Cassiel never meant to tie himself to a human, especially one that inexplicably draws him. But then the bond develops a startling change, and it puts into question everything he thought he knew.

Zev straddles the line between human and wolf, unsure if his dark thoughts truly belong to the Madness. It’s growing stronger, determined to take over—and he may just let it.

The journey to get the answers they each need will test them all. But what Dyna doesn’t know is that it comes with a price, and it may cost more than she bargained for

This installment picks up where book one left off, with Dyna and the Guardians making their slow way towards Mt. Ida to find the Sol Medallion. 

The new characters are great additions.  Lucenna was the key to Dyna and everyone in the group finally facing their past traumas and setting the journey on the right path.  I liked watching the two women learn how to trust, while Dyna learned some hard lessons including how to fight.  We learn more about the others and its fun watching the group come together.

The author brought a lot more magic into this book, with images of suspended waterfall terraces over a palace, azure trees and animals, a fae revel, and even a mage fight.  The history, lore, and expanding local flavors of Azure all helped the worldbuilding.

I liked learning more about the various types of magic.  Since the mages and elves and celestials all have different inherent abilities I think it was good to expand upon this.  

Dyna and co. only have a little over a year I think to make it back to North Star when the Shadow demon will return, but they have only covered a tiny fraction of the map.  With two books covering only one island…I know i mentioned this is my book one review but the scale of the map must be enormous, so much that I wonder about consistency in distances and speeds of travel. Either way I am excited to see how in the next book they will cover so much ground so quickly.

Content wise – there was a little more intercourse than seems necessary for YA, but it was between a husband and wife and fairly non-detailed.  There is death and fighting, a little bit of gore, and one character is ready to die, if not quite actively seeking it at times.  She recommends 16+ which seems appropriate.  

Lastly just let me say that the “cliffhanger” in book one didn’t bother me much because I could care less about romance – but HOLY COW this one was just mean! When do we get the next book!!

I totally recommend for fans of epic fantasy, solid world building, engaging characters, and a ton of magic crammed into such a small space

Meet the author:

BECK MICHAELS is the bestselling author of the enchanting YA epic fantasy series The Guardians of the Maiden. She has been working on the Guardians series for over fifteen years, so she’d like to believe her characters exist in some tangible dimension, even if it’s only in her imagination.

At seventeen, she won a scholarship to the Herron School of Art to further pursue graphic design. She now runs her own imprint, Pluma Press, and works part-time as a graphic designer through her business, Whimsy Book Cover Graphics, designing book covers for fellow authors.

Beck lives in Indiana with her husband and two children, where she spends her time reading and daydreaming of adventures in faraway lands.

She is on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/beckmichaels_writes/

and on Facebook at https://m.facebook.com/BeckMichaelsWrites/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/guardiansofthemaiden/?ref=share

Her website is https://beckmichaels.com/

Find the book on her website or purchase on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B08RYPCXF9/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1628181874&sr=1-1

Categories
Fiction Science Fiction Thrillers

Supplant (Book Review) by Shane M. Toman

Thank you so much to DartFrog Books for the review copy of Supplant by Shane M. Toman in exchange for a paid feature and review! All opinions are my own!

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Supplant
  • Series: N/A
  • Author: Shane M. Toman
  • Publisher & Release: Dart Frog Books, June 2021
  • Length: 292 pgs
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟⚡ yes if it sounds up your alley

Here is the book blurb:

Chicago, 2071: a city divided by corporate and government districting.

Supplantation, the insertion of animal genes into human DNA, was once the most sought-after elective procedure in the nation. However, due to its horrible side effects, it was quickly banned and vilified, relegated to the black markets of the underground.

Now, the city is beset by a serial killer who uses his supplanted genes to commit his crimes, and supplantation is once again thrust to the forefront of everyone’s consciousness. Meanwhile, amidst the media and political firestorm, corporations have begun pushing new genetic research, setting off a chain reaction that could threaten the lives of unsuspecting citizens.

Zen, a legal executive for a private security firm, and Mik, an Army veteran turned butcher’s apprentice, must face a hidden world and fight a powerful enemy that will stop at nothing in pursuit of scientific progress.

This is a fast paced, futuristic thriller.  I think at it’s heart the book is about government corruption, freedom of speech and control over our bodies.  How out of control will things get in another fifty years? “Supplantation” is the insertion of an animal gene into the human body.  It was outlawed due to horrible birth defects caused by the process, but remained on the black market.  With the presence of a serial killer with poison dart frog genes, the city of Chicago is going crazy and calling for the outright criminalization of supplanted humans, even though most of the supplants are benign.  Heck I would love to have the vision of a hawk!

This book portrays a pretty interesting social statement through news segments as well, that reflects how polarized America is right now.  An entire group of (mostly harmless) people can be completely condemned, hunted, and marginalized due to the actions of a few.  The newscaster was a real piece of work; like so with any liberal news source.  I liked the serial killer aspect even though it was never a major plot point, it served to add enough gratuitous violence to polarize the city and also show how deep the government corruption ran.

The characters are a likeable bunch.  Mik is a retired Army veteran who was supplanted for military reasons, then spit out by the system.  Zen is a strong Chicago born lawyer who gets past an abusive husband and recognizes the wrongness happening in the prison system.  The prisoners… honestly I really liked Jose and Sean.  Jose could have done anything but he decided to try to be a hero in his own right.  There are so many characters but honestly I liked them all, and the switching view points made the book feel very fast-paced.  I always harp on multiple view points if the voices aren’t distinct – but these really are. Even without the names I would be able to tell who the chapter was about.

So – fact paced, thriller aspect, a heist, futuristic medical experiments, fun character banter and strong characters, and one of those excellently open endings that let me imagine how things ended for various characters.  I’m in! All in all – I would recommend for fans of X-men type medical thrillers, and stories where characters fight corruption.  There are fairly graphic references to drugging, rape, a human body part scarecrow, and military flashbacks, so maybe be wary of those things.  I enjoyed this one and once again thank the publisher for the review copy!

 

Categories
Author Interviews & Guest Posts

Sunday Brunch Author Interview Series: with Rachel Hobbs!

Hi everyone! Welcome to the inaugural Sunday Brunch Author Interview, I hope this will become a long standing series! Shadow Stained author Rachel Hobbs was nice enough to take the leap with me, so read on!

She talks about her publishing journey, morally gray characters, social media, and more!

1. Thank you for taking the time to chat! Tell everyone a little about yourself and your novel!

My name’s Rachel Hobbs and I’m the author of the dark fantasy novel Shadow-Stained. Love and hate, good and evil, I write about morally grey monsters and opposites that both attract and violently polarize. I’m a dental nurse for a small local practice, and when I’m not working with teeth, I’m summoning demons at my keyboard.

My characters don’t always deserve your affection, but just maybe they’ll steal your heart anyway.

2. What was the Indie publishing journey like for you? Do you have any tips for fellow indie authors trying to publish a book?

I actually queried Shadow-Stained for a good nine months before making the decision to self-publish. I had this dream of seeing my book on the shelves of a physical book store, and having done my research on both avenues of publishing, I knew that you could fall back on self publishing after querying, but not the other way around. I went into the querying trenches with realistic expectations and came out on the other side with the kind of thick skin and determination only one hundred plus agent rejections could get you! When I made the decision to go it alone and publish Shadow-Stained anyway, I was nervous of getting it wrong. In hindsight, self-publishing my debut novel was the best decision I could have made. I was in full control of every aspect of my launch – final content, cover design, marketing – and my books still made it into my local indie book shop. I couldn’t be happier with the way things panned out.

If I had one tip, it would be don’t skimp on the cost of your cover. A good cover will sell your book time and time again, so a good cover designer is an investment that you won’t be sorry you made. There are so many amazing book covers out there already. Why set yourself at a disadvantage from the get go?

3. How do you feel about social media? I am seeing a lot of love towards indie authors these days and it’s amazing

I know some authors tend to find social media a chore. Personally, I’ve been made to feel very welcome on Twitter, especially in the writing community. I’ve made a lot of solid friends on that platform and in some ways, it’s almost like having one big online family! Everyone is so supportive of each other and cheering for your success. In a similar way, social media is a goldmine of undiscovered gems. I’ve found a few of my current favourite reads this way, books by extremely talented indie authors that deserve all the love and attention. I don’t enjoy Facebook, but maintain one anyway. It really is each to their own, when it comes to social media.

4. There is also a lot of “noise” out there and I have seen authors on Twitter lamenting about ratings and having their work seen, has that been a challenge?

Ratings are everything when you’re first starting out. When your name means nothing to anyone, a reader is relying solely on existing reviews, the book blurb, the cover. It can be disheartening to put yourself so wholly out there and get very little back, but writing is marathon, not a sprint. There isn’t really such a thing as an overnight success, because the chances are, that successful person worked really hard in the shadows for a long time before being discovered. All you can do is show up and put the work in. It can be a challenge to get your work in front of the right eyeballs, especially when there are so many amazing books already out there. But it’s important to remember that the other authors are not your competitors, they are your community. And the chances are that by supporting and lifting others, you yourself will eventually be lifted in kind.

    5. One of the main characters in Shadow Stained is a morally gray, “destruction and mayhem vs saving a girl” kind of guy. What do you think makes up a good “Gray” character?

Morally grey characters are so deliciously complex. Thorny and often only looking out for number one, one of the best things about a good ‘grey’ character is that they’re unpredictable. One moment they’re saving your life, the next you’re facing off as enemies. They have the potential to be both the hero and the villain at any given moment, depending on what most suits their needs at any given time. They’re not boxed into any one category, and because of this, you never quite know which way they’re going to turn.

With Drayvex, my morally grey Demon Lord from Shadow-Stained, I know I really pushed the boundaries of grey. He’s about as wicked as a character can be without actually being the villain! But to me, this makes it all the more compelling when he finds himself stumbling towards the hero side of antihero, clueless as to how he even got there, but fully committed for his own personal reasons. I think another thing that can have us so attached to a great morally grey character is their unflinching drive, their tunnel vision commitment to what they consider to be the only rational way forward. We don’t always agree with them, but by damn we want them to win.

    6. In your bio you wrote that narcolepsy and parasomnia inspired some of your writing, are you comfortable elaborating on that?

When I was in my early teens, I had a hard time staying awake. Sometimes it felt like I was dragging a physical weight around with me all day long, and I would fall asleep at inconvenient moments at school. What I didn’t know at the time was that this was a neurological condition called narcolepsy, but it was the parasomnia at night on top of this that really pushed me to the edge. To summarize, we’re talking sleepwalking, hallucinations and periods of paralysis upon waking and falling asleep, so I really had my hands full! As a sort of coping mechanism, and a way to explain what I didn’t understand, I made each of these conditions into a demon that was personally responsible for my suffering. It’s for this reason that demons feature so heavily in Shadow-Stained. Turning to creative therapy, when I eventually started to pour my demons onto the blank page, it sparked a wildfire idea for the darkest little monster story. That creative fire has been burning ever since.

    7. What else inspires your writing?

I’ve always thought of ideas as being like sand. Inspiration can come from anywhere and everywhere; the secret smile of a stranger, a snippet of conversation you overheard on the train, a vivid memory, a really good film. By themselves, they’re just grains of sand. But meld them all together and they become something else entirely. I suppose that’s quite vague, but I know that a lot of my inspiration is subconscious. It’s a really strange feeling when you read back something you’ve wrote, and only after you’ve wrote it and it’s on the page do you start to pinpoint the origins of such an idea. When I’m looking for inspiration, I can turn to a good book, a curated playlist, or even Pinterest.

    8. Alright let’s end this with some easy rapid fire general bookish questions:  Do you have a favorite book that you always recommend? Favorite literary character? What genre do you usually read? Do you have any strange and wonderful bookish habits?

One of my favourite authors is Darren Shan. He has quite the extensive back catalogue at this point,  and I often change my mind on which of his books is my favourite. But Lady of the Shades is a cracker, and I’d recommend it to anyone who likes a dark twisty thriller that will keep you on your toes. If I had to pick a favourite literary character, I’d have to go with August Flynn from V E Schwab’s Monsters of Verity duology. August is effectively the one monster with a conscience in an entire city of savages. His heart and his melancholy, along with this chink of light inside him that makes him want to show up and fight his true nature again and again, is what makes him such an interesting character. I like dark, gritty fantasy, and love to read the kind of things I love to write. Monsters and rogues, enemies to lovers, villains that are the heroes of their own story. I’m sure by now you’re seeing a pattern forming! I don’t really have any strange and wonderful bookish habits that I know of, but maybe it’s time I adopted one. 😉

    9. Thank you so much again for offering to interview! If there is anything else you want to say about yourself, your novels, your life, or anything at all, please do so here!

I get overly attached to book characters. I’ve lost count of how many times over the space of a book or a series that I’ve made a character the latest object of my obsession –ahem, I mean affection– and then had my heart ripped out when there are no more pages left. I love it, I dread it. It’s like losing a friend. And then of course, there’s the void to fill in their absence. But the best characters stay with you, and some even live on in little pieces of my own characters. All in all, the book hangovers are a small price to pay. We really are suckers for punishment!


Meet the author (from Google Books)

​Rachel Hobbs lives in soggy South West Wales, where she hibernates with with her bearded dragon and her husband. By day she is a dental nurse at a small local practice. By night, she writes. ​ Her debut novel SHADOW-STAINED is the first in a dark fantasy series for adults, inspired by her dark and peculiar experiences with narcolepsy and parasomnia. She’s since subjugated her demons, and writes under the tenuous guise that they work for her. ​Fuelled by an unhealthy amount of coffee, she writes about hard-boiled monsters with soft centres and things that go bump in the night

Here are Rachel’s author links and links to view and purchase the book!

Website http://www.authorrachelhobbs.co.uk

Twitter http://www.twitter.com/rhobbsauthor

Instagram http://www.instagram.com/authorrachelhobbs

Amazon Shadow-Stained (Stones of Power Book 1) eBook : Hobbs, Rachel: Amazon.co.uk: Kindle Store

Barnes and Shadow-Stained by Rachel Hobbs, Paperback | Barnes & Noble® (barnesandnoble.com)

Book Depository https://www.bookdepository.com/Shadow-Stained-Rachel-Hobbs/9781527257962

Categories
Suspense Thrillers

The Therapist (Book Review) by B.A. Paris

I am endlessly grateful to St. Martin’s Press for the finished hardcover of The Therapist by B.A. Paris! All opinions are my own!

I know I started this month strong with review content but I broke my brain with overtime and barely sleeping, and backed off on additional screen time for a bit. I posted this book to Instagram almost two weeks ago near it’s release date and I am catching up on full reviews now!

Press kit contents for The Therapist, out 7/13/21

Bookish Quick Facts:

  •  Title: The Therapist
  • Author: B.A. Paris
  • Release: St Martin’s Press, 7/13/21
  • Length: 304 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟🌟 for fans of psychological suspense!

Here is the book blurb:

The multimillion-copy New York Times bestselling author B.A. Paris returns to her heartland of gripping psychological suspense in The Therapista powerful tale of a house that holds a shocking secret.

When Alice and Leo move into a newly renovated house in The Circle, a gated community of exclusive houses, it is everything they’ve dreamed of. But appearances can be deceptive…

As Alice is getting to know her neighbours, she discovers a devastating secret about her new home, and begins to feel a strong connection with Nina, the therapist who lived there before.

Alice becomes obsessed with trying to piece together what happened two years before. But no one wants to talk about it. Her neighbors are keeping secrets and things are not as perfect as they seem… 

So I read Bring Me Back recently by the same author, and The Therapist absolutely blew that book out of the water. Alice and Leo move into a wealthy gated community called The Circle, and soon enough Alice gets mixed up in a murder investigation. There are noises in the house at night, little strange things happening, and all the neighbors are suspects.

I really enjoyed trying to figure out what was going on, and how the killings were linked. I got the Who but not the How or Why, and still thoroughly enjoyed the journey to get there. There was also a little bonus twist of trying to figure out who the actual therapist was, and discovering Alice’s biggest, darkest secret.

The characters do play a huge role in this one too.  I didn’t dislike Alice but she isn’t the most likeable character, and she really could stand to see a therapist herself after the death of her sister.  Leo is Alice’s fiancee and seems to almost immediately start messing with her.  The neighbors are a clique already and you’ll just have to meet them as you read.

I docked one star for the he-said-she-said getting a bit repetitive, and I would have liked to see a little more of the psychology throughout the book.  There was some though, and what I really liked was the pervading sense of danger I felt for Alice once the book got going. This is generally a fast paced book that I can recommend for fans of psychological thrillers and suspense books. 

And the pages smelled excellent 😂

Categories
Fiction Suspense Thrillers

The Photographer (ARC Review) by Mary Dixie Carter

Another day in July, another great book!

Thank you so much to Minotaur Books for the advanced readers copy and press box for The Photographer by Mary Dixie Carter! I believe that I won this in a Shelf Awareness giveaway and am duly grateful and read it as soon as I could!

My favorite thing about ARCs is when there is an author or editor letter! In this case, even before reading the book, the executive editor had me excited for it! Her letter to the readers exuded genuine excitement and I really believe that every book deserves an editor to gush like so!

My main takeaway from the book is this question: in the theme of creating the images and digital content that we want to see, versus what we want others to see … What are we actually creating?

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: The Photographer
  • Series: N/a
  • Author: Mary Dixie Carter
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books, 05/25/21
  • Length: 304 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟🌟for psychological/suspense fans!

Here is the book blurb from Amazon:

Mary Dixie Carter’s The Photographer is a slyly observed, suspenseful story of envy and obsession, told in the mesmerizing, irresistible voice of a character who will make you doubt that seeing is ever believing.

WHEN PERFECT IMAGES

As a photographer, Delta Dawn observes the seemingly perfect lives of New York City’s elite: snapping photos of their children’s birthday parties, transforming images of stiff hugs and tearstained faces into visions of pure joy, and creating moments these parents long for.

ARE MADE OF BEAUTIFUL LIES

But when Delta is hired for Natalie Straub’s eleventh birthday, she finds herself wishing she wasn’t behind the lens but a part of the scene―in the Straub family’s gorgeous home and elegant life.

THE TRUTH WILL BE EXPOSED

That’s when Delta puts her plan in place, by babysitting for Natalie; befriending her mother, Amelia; finding chances to listen to her father, Fritz. Soon she’s bathing in the master bathtub, drinking their expensive wine, and eyeing the beautifully finished garden apartment in their townhouse. It seems she can never get close enough, until she discovers that photos aren’t all she can manipulate.

^ And oh WOW can Delta manipulate photos  I would definitely not want anyone with those skills taking pictures of me or my family!!  It was so interesting to read about the programs and ways that light and photography can be manipulated.  I am not sure how much is real but I’m sure there is similar technology out there.

This is just such a delightfully strange book.  It reminded me immensely of One Hour Photo – remember Robin Williams creeping out those parents but he was just a sort of creepy, really lonely old dude who was probably harmless?

In contrast, Delta Dawn is the high profile photographer of the elite and wealthy in this novel.  I don’t think she is intending harm but she is one of those memorable, strange, “just why” type of characters that makes me wonder what deep-rooted issues she has from her childhood.  There are hints about it, such as growing up in Disney housing with busy parents and living a very fictitious childhood, bur I really just wanted to know WHY!

A character remarks that Delta could in fact have a very wonderful and normal life, but that’s not what she wants.  (P.S. what actually happened to that character)?? She is pretty and smart and an absolutely elite photographer, but that wouldn’t make a good suspense novel now would it?

The complicated dynamic of the Straub family was interesting to see as well, there was a lot of dysfunction that allowed Delta to come in and start manipulating.  I liked how much detail was paid to the old dog in the house too, I just wanted to hug the poor dude.

Anyway- definitely recommend this one to lovers of psychological suspense, suspense in general, and anyone looking for a quick moving summer read.  The twist wasn’t huge but it did the trick for me to come to a solid 4!

Categories
Paranormal

Shadow Stained (Book Review) by Rachel Hobbs

Thank you so much to Rachel Hobbs for reaching out to respond to an open interview call for my blog! While that feature will be coming later this month, I also read and reviewed her debut novel Shadow Stained!

At least as we speak, the novel is available on Kindle Unlimited and I found it to be a well formatted and compatible copy!

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Shadow Stained
  • Series: Stones of Power, #1
  • Author: Rachel Hobbs
  • Publisher & Release: Nielsen, 03/05/20
  • Length: 360 pages
  • Rate & recommend: 🌟🌟🌟 yes for fans of paranormal, demons, etc!

Here is the book blurb from Amazon:

For her, it’s her late grandma’s legacy. For him, the mother of all black arts spoils, granting one demon the power of a God. Immortality.

When occult-magnet Ruby falls victim to Demon Lord Drayvex’s viperous allure, she loses a sentient dark relic to his light fingers and appetite for power. Like calls to like. But when Drayvex himself loses the relic to a traitor to the throne, Ruby coerces him – the tyrant king with a soft spot for humanity – into helping her save her pokey old world village from becoming a ground zero of mass demonic carnage.

Both invested in reclaiming the relic, the one thing Ruby and Drayvex agree on is that it’s in the wrong hands. Co-existing in a precarious arrangement between predator and prey, to save the planet they both love for different reasons, they must become a formidable double-team in the face of an apocalyptic takeover. Now, the fate of both human and demon alike rests with a killer that walks between worlds, and a woman with a curse in her bloodline.

The Plot & Story: This is a paranormal adventure for adult readers, where a young woman and her stone of power inadvertently draw the attention of a demon lord. This escalates into a fullscale invasion of Earth and exciting battle of the most powerful demons in the realm. There is also this ongoing back and forth of whether or not the demon lord and girl will ever just get together already. I still am not sure on that point, I honestly thought it was going to be a paranormal romance (but it isn’t thankfully).

It’s an interesting and quickly moving story. I don’t read very much in this genre so it’s pretty new to me in general.

The characters: the demon, Drayvex, is everything. He is such a sociopath and total egomaniac but has a small amount of cinnamon-roll filling inside, and man does he HATE it! His dialogue and monologue, alongside the plot itself, carried the book for me.  It helps that he has a darkly attractive human form.

Ruby is not a bad character but she has no fighting prowess at all, no clue what’s going on, and can’t defend herself. She wants to stay and fight demons even though she’s almost died multiple times and Drayvex has to keep rescuing her.  I think I would have liked her more if she wasn’t so entirely helpless.  Ruby is some kind of witch or cursed, or something, but the most paranormal thing that happened to her before Drayvex is that she is drawn to occult objects at garage sales? I would have liked to know what this is all hinting at, since it is known to other characters that she is special but the reader gets no indication as to why.  Which means I’m reading book 2.

I really just want more Drayvex.

The side character demons created some funny moments as well. The lower level ones are not very smart, and sometimes created a three stooges feel.  I loved the little chef demon 😍

The Worldbuilding: The descriptions of the demon world were very well done. I loved the twinkling red stars and red sands, as well as the description of the throne.   With a new world like that I want to know what it sounds, smells, feels like.  I want to be standing at the foot of those black mountains! I got small European village vibes from the time on Earth, with plenty of rain.  

Misc: With a tad more to make me care for Ruby and one more round of edits, I would really enjoy this snarky duo.  One thing I want to say is that Drayvex reminded me of the Monty Python skit “The Many Uses of the Word Fuck” – it’s a noun, an adverb, lol.  In an adult novel this is fine and I did love his personality.

Overall I think it’s a solid debut, and I plan on reading the next in the series! Would recommend for fans of paranormal, demons, and snarky bad boy characters

Categories
Fiction General Fiction Literary Fiction

We Are the Brennans (ARC Review) by Tracey Lange

Thank you so much to my partner Celadon Books for the advanced copy of We Are the Brennans! This is a complicated family drama that explores life in a large Irish family, the effects of shame and secrets, poor decisions, and how much love holds everyone together at the end of the day.

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: We Are the Brennans
  • Series: N/A
  • Author: Tracey Lange
  • Publisher & Release: Celadon Books, 08/03/21
  • Length: 271 pgs
  • Rate & Recommend: 🍀🍀🍀🍀 Sure for fans of family dramas

Here is the Book Blurb from Amazon:

In the vein of Mary Beth Keane’s Ask Again, Yes and Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s The Nest, Tracey Lange’s We Are the Brennans explores the staying power of shame—and the redemptive power of love—in an Irish Catholic family torn apart by secrets.

When twenty-nine-year-old Sunday Brennan wakes up in a Los Angeles hospital, bruised and battered after a drunk driving accident she caused, she swallows her pride and goes home to her family in New York. But it’s not easy. She deserted them all—and her high school sweetheart—five years before with little explanation, and they’ve got questions.

Sunday is determined to rebuild her life back on the east coast, even if it does mean tiptoeing around resentful brothers and an ex-fiancé. The longer she stays, however, the more she realizes they need her just as much as she needs them. When a dangerous man from her past brings her family’s pub business to the brink of financial ruin, the only way to protect them is to upend all their secrets—secrets that have damaged the family for generations and will threaten everything they know about their lives. In the aftermath, the Brennan family is forced to confront painful mistakes—and ultimately find a way forward, together

The synopsis does a fantastic job of summarizing the story.  What happens after one generation’s morals and misgivings seeps down into the lives of their children?  Is running away the answer to a terrible event, and what will it take to bring everyone back together?  I think the author drew a lot on her own family experiences to make this story work, I don’t feel like it’s something that can be well written without growing up in a large Irish family yourself.

The characters are really everything in this novel.  Mickey is the father, suffering from early dementia, and it was always his job to take care of the family.  The mom is now deceased but I got the impression that she made up a lot of medical ailments for attention, to the point where it nearly ruined Sunday, the daughter’s, life.  Shane is the youngest child and has some kind of developmental disorder that took up even more of the siblings’ time and attention, but they all rallied around him as kids. 

Now as adults, Sunday took off to California in a hurry, and the two remaining middle brothers (5 siblings total) as well as Sunday’s ex, an adopted family member more or less, are left to shoulder the family responsibility.  They are also managing near financial ruin while expanding their pub business. Enter Sunday coming home in the midst of all of this after a drunk driving crash …. and you have the beginning of We Are the Brennans.

I think the staples of Irish family drama are secrets – check.  Shame – check.  Irish Catholics covering up bad decisions – check. Maybe some undercover or shady business – check.  What set this one apart to me was the strength of the characters, the sibling bonds, the size of the hearts capable of forgiving and moving forward together after the secrets are aired… and who inadvertently saves the day at the end.   The writing is also very smooth and flows well from chapter to chapter despite the different view points, and I do like how each character’s voice is so distinct.

The ending left a lot of things open to interpretation but the main storylines were wrapped up – and this may be added in the final copy but I think it could have used an epilogue.  Give us a glimpse of how everything settled 10 years down the road.  Did true love or duty win out? Did everything work out for better or for worse?  How did the one little boy make out with the family changes? I don’t mind having these questions at the end but I would have 5 starred it with an epilogue.

Celadon puts out some very distinctive literary fiction, I would recommend for fans of family dramas, general fiction, and literary fiction!