Categories
Author Interviews & Guest Posts Science Fiction

The Sunday Brunch Author Interview Series – Featuring R.W.W. Greene

Hello friends and Robots! First off Happy Mother’s Day if this applies to you in any way shape or form!

For episode 22 of the Sunday Brunch Series I am honored to be kicking off the Angry Robot Books Mercury Rising tour with author R.W.W. Greene! Mercury Rising releases this coming Tuesday the 10th!

Let’s jump right into the interview, then I’ll share book and author info at the end!

Also do 100% be sure to check out this stunning lineup of content through the rest of the tour!

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🥞 Welcome to the Sunday Brunch Series! As an introduction, can you tell everyone an interesting fact about yourself that isn’t in your author bio?
 
🎤First, thanks so much for inviting me to brunch. Interesting fact … Yeah, I don’t know. I can’t swim. Is that interesting or pathetic?
 
 
🥞I think it’s awesome that you listed breakfast as a possible interview question! This was meant to be 😂 what’s your favorite brunch food?
🎤Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day — whatever time of the day I choose to have it — and this big plate of eggs and homefries sets the mood just right. I will be accompanying it with nigh-infinite cups of black coffee and maybe a sliver of that quiche.
🥞 One of my favorite topics is morally gray characters and you nailed it with Brooklyn in Mercury Rising.  What do you think makes a good morally gray character?

🎤When the Color Wheel of Our Lives spins, it blurs into grayness. We might be blue or orange at certain points, but the average is that cloudy gray. You’re a good person. Okay, would you steal if you were starving? If your kids were starving? Do you ever drive faster than the speed limit? Ethics come from the outside. Morals are interior, and like everything else inside us, they’re slippery. We tend to resolve the cognitive dissonance of our own immoral actions pretty quickly. It’s just one puppy. Everybody does it. I’m a good person, and I pee in the shower, so obviously, to be a good person, you must pee in the shower, too.

I think the trick is to make the character as real as possible, and realize that real is really messy.

🥞Each of your books takes a big issue (as in pollution or climate change or war or etc) and gives the readers a big *hey this is happening* message – is this the thought that starts your book ideas? Is there an issue that’s particularly near and dear to you?

🎤My stories usually start with character and situation. For “The Light Years,” I had some version of Adem and his arranged marriage. For ‘Twenty-Five,’ I had Julie being left behind on Earth. For ‘Mercury,’ I had Brooklyn and his need to just make it through the day and get back to his apartment.

The ‘hey this is happening’ stuff comes in because everything is happening all the time, and it keeps happening over and over. We’re drowning in the rhymes and resonances of all the things we’ve (the Big We) ever seen or done. I suppose I’m most attuned to things that will affect the future. Which, I guess, is everything.

I don’t sleep all that well, and I take pills for anxiety. I wonder why

🥞You were a part of a “swearing in SFF” panel at Quarancon! Can you share your general thoughts on foul language & slang in SFF?

🎤Swearing is interesting because we lose vocabulary as the arc of history bends toward justice. I don’t hear origins as expletives nearly as much as I used to. Being a bastard isn’t the curse it once was. As the meaning of ‘bitch’ changes and evolves, being a ‘son of a bitch’ ain’t so bad. Slut-shaming is slowly giving way to sex-positivity. As we become more secular, there are fewer gods to blaspheme.

Most of what we’re left with is body parts and bodily functions. And fuck, which is  the Swiss-Army knife of swear words.

What would a wood elf find profane? ‘You slayer of trees! Culler of conifers! Maple mauler! Fucking asshole!”

A William Gibson cyberpunk-cowboy: “Cube! (from ‘cubicle’) Drug-cutting corpie! You dirty little dataport! Virus licker! Fucking asshole!

🥞Is there more to come in the Mercury Rising universe? {I loved the open ending but also want more Brooklyn}

🎤 There is. Angry Robot and I have contracted for a second book in what is meant to be a trilogy. You’ll see book two in early summer of 2023. If all goes well, the third book should come out summerish 2024, either from Angry Robot (fingers crossed) or self-published.

{{I’m on board, ESPECIALLY IF AR FINALLY EXPLAINS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF 400. I should start asking the authors}}

🥞After three books now and multiple short stories, what is the most valuable (or entertaining) feedback you’ve gotten so far?

🎤One short-story reviewer pronounced me a ‘middle-aged writer,” which while true, hurt. A dude on Goodreads recently gave ‘Twenty-Five to Life’ one star because he didn’t like who I dedicated the book to. One gent out on the West Coast of the U.S. wrote and said ‘The Light Years’ helped him come to terms with his father, which is cool but completely unplanned.

Probably the most useful feedback I’ve received is ‘Don’t read the reviews!” I don’t always listen.

🥞Random Sci-fi question: With the conference coming in May, any thoughts on the Nebula nominees this year?

🎤My secret shame — not so secret now — is that I often don’t get to the Nebula nominees until they are on the final ballot. I read a lot, easily three or four books a week, but much of it is not in-genre and the stuff that is doesn’t always show up on awards lists. After the ballot is released, I usually go on an all-Nebula reading spree so I can cast an informed vote.

There are so many books being published, I have no idea how anyone keeps up, and that’s not including all the novellas, novelettes, and short stories. It’s an embarrassment of riches.

{{True fact, I’ve succumbed to mood reading and pretty much anything from AR}}

🥞Here is the rapid-fire round of bookish questions:  favorite author? A book or series that you always recommend? Favorite literary character?

🎤My favorite SFF author is currently a three-way tie among William Gibson (always), Becky Chambers, and Seanan McGuire. Gary Shteyngart is orbiting this triumvirate waiting for one of them to die or retire.

I’ve recommended Mary Doria Russell’s ‘The Sparrow’ more times than I can remember. Series … maybe the ‘Emberverse’ stuff by S.M. Stirling.

Character … Henry Palace in Ben Winter’s ‘Last Policeman’ series. Or Trixe Belden. If you push me, Trixie beats Henry all the way.

🥞Thank you for joining Sunday Brunch! If there’s anything else you want to add or say about anything at all, please do so here!

🎤Thanks so much for having me. The company was excellent and the quiche divine. Have a lovely day!


There you have it!

If you want to see my early Mercury Rising review, click here!

Author Bio:

R.W.W. Greene is a New Hampshire USA writer with an MA in Fine Arts, which he exorcises in dive bars and coffee shops. He is a frequent panelist at the Boskone Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention in Boston, and his work has been in Stupefying Stories, Daily Science Fiction, New Myths, and Jersey Devil Press, among others. Greene is a past board member of the New Hampshire Writers’ Project. He keeps bees, collects typewriters, and lives with writer/artist spouse Brenda and two cats

Book Blurb:
Even in a technologically-advanced, Kennedy-Didn’t-Die alternate-history, Brooklyn Lamontagne is going nowhere fast. The year is 1975, thirty years after Robert Oppenheimer invented the Oppenheimer Atomic Engine, twenty-five years after the first human walked on the moon, and eighteen years after Jet Carson and the Eagle Seven sacrificed their lives to stop the alien invaders. Brooklyn just wants to keep his mother’s rent paid, earn a little scratch of his own, steer clear of the cops, and maybe get laid sometime in the near future. Simple pleasures, right? But a killer with a baseball bat and a mysterious box of 8-track tapes is about to make his life real complicated.
So, rot away in prison or sign up to defend the planet from the assholes who dropped a meteorite on Cleveland?  Brooklyn crosses his fingers and picks  the Earth Orbital Forces. A few years in the trenches and then — assuming he survives — he’ll get his life back, right? Unfortunately, the universe has other plans, and Brooklyn is launched into a story about saving humanity, finding family, and growing as a person — while coping with high-stakes space battles, mystery science experiments and finding out the real enemies aren’t the tentacled monsters on the recruitment poster.

Unless they are.

Categories
Science Fiction

Prison of Sleep by Tim Pratt (ARC Review, Book Tour)

Once again thank you so much to Angry Robot for introducing me to another great author and allowing me to participate in their online book tours!!

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Prison of Sleep is Tim Pratt’s followup to Doors of Sleep, review can be seen here.  While I didn’t enjoy it as much as the first book, I think it’s a solid duology and would definitely recommend reading them for fans of the genre!

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Prison of Sleep
  • Series: The Journals of Zaxony Delatree #2
  • Author: Tim Pratt
  • Publisher & Release: Angry Robot, 4/26/22
  • Length: 400 pages (p.s. what is it with Angry Robot and 400 pages?? Stay tuned while I continue to nag them on twitter for answers regarding this utmost mystery LOL)
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟⚡for fans of sci-fi adventures, the multiverse

Here’s the synopsis via GoodReads:

After escaping the ruthless Lector, Zax Delatree has a new enemy to fight in the sequel to Doors of Sleep.

Every time Zaxony Delatree falls asleep he wakes up on a new world. His life has turned into an endless series of brief encounters. But at least he and Minna, the one companion who has found a way of travelling with him, are no longer pursued by the psychotic and vengeful Lector.

But now Zax has been joined once again by Ana, a companion he thought left behind long ago. Ana is one of the Sleepers, a group of fellow travellers between worlds. Ana tells Zax that he is unknowingly host to a parasitic alien that exists partly in his blood and partly between dimensions. The chemical that the alien secretes is what allows Zax to travel. Every time he does, however, the parasite grows, damaging the fabric of the Universes. Anas is desperate to recruit Zax to her cause and stop the alien.

But there are others who are using the parasite, such as the cult who serve the Prisoner – an entity trapped in the dimension between universes. Every world is like a bar in its prison. The cult want to collapse all the bars of the worlds and free their god. Can Zax, Minna, Ana and the other Sleepers band together and stop them?

I believe it is hard to talk about sequels without hinting at spoilers, so I will keep this review very broad and not spoil anything!

The Plot & Story: I definitely think that idea wise, Prison of Sleep was the more interesting of the two books.  We get the history of both the Cult of the Worm and of The Sleepers. While Zax’s storyline was equally interesting and engaging, Ana’s ended up being more of an info dump that unfortunately slowed the story down and also confused me relentlessly regarding the timelines. (I mentally confused Zax’s battle with the attack on Sleeperhold at first and contextually it was hard to s

I won’t spend a ton of time on world building, but as far as history goes and my understanding of the book’s multiverse – A+ by the end. This is one of the more interesting creation stories I have read – I just can’t discuss it for spoilers.

The Characters: Ana is the most prominent new character.  Her point of view is introduced and used to fill in our knowledge gaps as she tells of her travels, training, and experiences with the Sleepers.  That said, I just wasn’t as interested in her and her voice sounded a lot like Zax’s at times.

Zaveta was Zax’s new travelling partner and I liked her! She was funny without meaning to be, and occasionally when she meant to be.  Her warrior attributes were a good counterbalance to Zax’s unaggressive approach.

One thing was that Zax didn’t really get to be the hero in this one – I think I expected him to be the hero.  Don’t we always expect the MC’s to be the hero? ((Food for thought)). It didn’t affect my rating but struck me that he was more of the passive observer this time while dear, dear Minna and Vicki came back in a big way this time.

I also continued to like the chapter headlines as a summary of coming events!

Overall: This duology is good for fans of the multiverse, sci-fi adventures, and unconventional heroes.  There is plenty of recap incase anyone forgot important parts of book one, but this is not going to read as a standalone.  My main issue came with Ana’s POV and how she inadvertently confused my timelines – 100% on me. The book is out now for everyone interested!

Categories
Author Interviews & Guest Posts Science Fiction

Sunday Brunch Author Interview Series – featuring Chris Panatier!

As part of the Angry Robot Books tour for Stringers, I am entirely thrilled to chat with Chris Panatier on episode 21 of the Sunday Brunch Series!!

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I reviewed Stringers here, now let’s focus on the author!  There were some other recent interviews included in the tour (check them out!) so I went a little out there and asked about everyday heroes, short fiction, dog-goats, and so much more.

Here he is!


🥞Welcome to the Sunday Brunch Series! As an introduction, can you tell everyone an interesting fact about yourself that isn’t in your author bio?

🎤Thanks for having me! I guess one fact is that I know how to glue on fake eyelashes

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🥞Do you or your main character have a favorite Brunch food?

🎤My favorite brunch food is probably eggs benedict or like a giant hash. Ben’s favorite brunch is anything he can cancel out later with healthier food. Patton’s favorite brunch is drugs.

🥞My two favorite character archetypes are “morally gray” and “irredeemable jerk”, therefore I loved the snarky bounty hunter Aptat.  Is there anything you would be able to share about the character?

🎤This is a great question! I’m so happy Aptat came along. I have found myself drawn to exploring characters who eschew moral codes and Aptat was a perfect way to play with the freedom one has when they feel no longer bound to an ethical framework. Even though Aptat is a self-described “bespoke” flesh construct and decidedly not human, they give us one perspective of how some might choose to behave in a lawless state of nature. Aptat loves to point out that moral codes only work so long as everyone is in on the plan—which they are not. And while these are all serious discussion points, I wanted Aptat to be fun. They love the Real Housewives of television fame, pop music, and dancing. And what Aptat lacks in morals, they make up for in blistering commentary—they are free-wheeling, with a come-what-may attitude which I thought to be a natural extension of their freedom from societal norms of conduct.

🥞 In both Stringers and The Phlebotomist your main human characters avoid tropes. They are everyday people thrust into bizarre situations where their heroic capacity is tested! Is this your preferred approach to character writing?

🎤 The funny thing about both books is that neither main character has to go through some transformation to become heroic. I think that both Willa Wallace and Ben Sullivan ended up taking actions that most people would take in the same circumstances. Does this mean that most people have heroic capacity? Maybe—if it’s for the right reasons. Willa and Ben are driven only by what motivates them and their actions stem from that. As for tropes? Tropes are tropes because they work, I guess. They’re compelling and interesting. The only tropes I tend to stay away from are those where an ordinary person transforms into an extraordinary one. I rarely find those arcs believable as I think human beings, at least, are who they are. Now, you may not know it until they are tested and it may surprise, but it’s only because they hadn’t been in that situation before that we hadn’t seen the “hero” potential.

🥞Do we want to know what your Google search history looked like during your research for Stringers??

🎤 No comment. But I will say, hypothetically, that the very first search might have been very similar to this: “bug that fucks itself in the head”.

🥞What is the most valuable (or entertaining) feedback you’ve gotten so far about Stringers?

🎤 The thing that has made me most happy is that people have seen the serious stories woven into Stringers amid all the jokes. There are some big emotional pieces to the book and I’m glad people are finding them and they are hitting. The most entertaining feedback has to be the love for Mr. Pickles. It’s just a jar of pickles. Totally inanimate. And yet it’s pickles 24/7. Not complaining at all, I love it.

🥞I know this is the Stringers tour but I’ve enjoyed tracking down and reading some of your short fiction!  Which stories would you point new readers to?

🎤 Oh that’s lovely! My short fiction is way different than my books. Two suggests. For those who enjoy longer, more fleshed out science fiction, I have one longish story about conflicting clans of octopuses trying to get home to their planet (yes octopuses are not from Earth, this is science) called “The Eighth Fathom” and it was published in Metaphorosis Magazine. A short one I love to this day is called “Angels of Purgatory” and it was published in The Molotov Cocktail Magazine and a winner of one of their flash contests. All my shorties are on my website here: https://chrispanatier.com/short-stories/ 

Will you share a picture of your dog-goat?

This is Gretel. Tell me that this animal isn’t at least part goat:

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🥞 A while back you were writing about a Sci-Fi Trilogy that you were working on, is there any chance of that ever coming to fruition? Do I dare ask what it was about?

🥞 I wonder if that was my very first project—it probably was. Like a lot of writers, I had Big Dreams™ for my first novel, but also a pretty realistic appreciation for what it would take to get published. Of course, that didn’t stop me from daydreaming about how huge it might, could, maybe, possibly get. After 80+ rejections from agents I recalibrated my expectations. Lolol. Anyway, it’s a portal fantasy/sci-fi tale about a girl trying to save her brother. I still love the core of the story and expect to return to it in the future.

🥞Here is the rapid-fire round of bookish questions:  Last 5 star read? A book or series that you always recommend? Favorite literary character?

🥞I think all books get five stars because, look, you wrote a book. That said, I really have to recommend The Despicable Fantasies of Quentin Sergenov by Preston Fassel. That novella is fantastic. Ex-pro wrestler gets kicked out of the league for being gay, gets turned into a velociraptor and seeks revenge. Splatterpunk, but like, literary. For a series, I always recommend the Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff Vandermeer. Favorite literary character is a tie between Randy Marsh of Southpark (do cartoon scripts count as literature?) and Portia the spider from Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky. 

🥞 Thank you for joining Sunday Brunch! If there’s anything else you want to add or say about anything at all, please do so here!

🎤Thanks for having me!


Meet the Author:

Chris Panatier lives in Dallas, Texas, with his wife, daughter, and a fluctuating herd of animals resembling dogs (one is almost certainly a goat). He writes short stories and novels, “plays” the drums, and draws album covers for metal bands. Chris’s debut novel, The Phlebotomist, was on the “Recommended Reading” list for Bram Stoker Award 2020. Plays himself on twitter @chrisjpanatier.

Check out the other book tour stops!

stringers online tour week 3

Categories
Science Fiction

Stringers by Chris Panatier (ARC Review)

Thank you so much to Angry Robot for the free early read of Stringers by Chris Panatier! As always, all opinions are my own!

It took me a while to read this intergalactic sci-fi adventure – the tour has already kicked off! I am posting my review now and thrilled to share that Chris Panatier is kicking off the reboot of Sunday Brunch on 4/24 as a later part of the Stringers online tour!!

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Stringers
  • Series: N/A
  • Author: Chris Panatier
  • Publisher & Release: Angry Robot, 04/12/22
  • Length: 400 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⚡ yes for fans of weird sci-fi!

Here’s the synopsis:

A genius is abducted by an alien bounty-hunter for the location of a powerful inter-dimensional object. Trouble is, he can’t remember a thing.

Ben isn’t exactly a genius, but he has an immense breadth of knowledge. Whether it’s natural science (specifically the intricacies of bug sex), or vintage timepieces, he can spout facts and information with the best of experts. He just can’t explain why he knows any of it. Another thing he knows is the location of the Chime. What it is or why it’s important, he can’t say.

But this knowledge is about to get him in a whole heap of trouble, as a trash-talking, flesh construct bounty hunter is on his tail and looking to sell him to the highest bidder. And being able to describe the mating habits of Brazilian bark lice won’t be enough to get him out of it.

***synopsis taken from Am*zon***

(((Dear Angry Robot – why is 400 the perfect page number??)))

Stringers features two friends, just regular guys on Earth that get abducted by an exceedingly snarky space bounty hunter. Ben knows every factoid ever about bug sex, Patton is a stoner, and the bounty hunter lures them into a trap to sell Ben to an inter-dimensional alien race

So…wow. I mean just wow. The book is dense on the science and puzzle content which slowed the reading down.  Some of the really technical parts I was tempted to skim, but I stuck with it and felt rewarded.

There is also plenty of adventure, banter, brutality, and discovery to keep the plot moving. The bounty hunter, named Aptat, is a great example of a morally gray character that kinds of just ends up being self serving.

In not skimming, I learned that Stringers is actually a super smart book where the layers are revealed slowly and expanded on slowly as the characters learn their own mysteries.  There are two points of view, Ben and Naecia, as well as interludes that make sense later on

Character wise – Ben is pretty funny and Patton is the loyal friend.  If nothing else his friendship and loyalty make him a worthy character, always looking out for Ben whether or not he deserves it.  I enjoy books where everyday beings are forced into heroics, or discover their capability for bravery and heroics.  Naecia just wanted to help her family and probably got the shit end of the abduction spectrum, but none of the Stringers fared too well.

The only thing I didn’t love was a weird but blessedly brief episode of feeding and excrement tubes, it went wayyy beyond toilet humor into something a little gross.

One thing I did love? A jar of pickles that oddly enough became a character in itself for a bit.  Also – mixing serious themes with humor is always good, if not mentally draining.

With new alien races, technology worthy of a sci-fi classic, and enough bug sex facts to keep it relatively light – even if I don’t want to know what the author’s search history looks like 😂 – this is also a surprisingly deep story of a galaxy in extreme danger

And.you definitely want to read the footnotes
#imwithpatton

File Under: Science Fiction -Bloom of God – Patton you on the back – Eels Aplenty – Some Aliens Just Suck [[Angry Robot]]

Categories
Science Fiction

Mercury Rising (ARC Review) by RWW Greene

Thank you so much to Angry Robot for the early access digital copy of Mercury Rising by RWW Greene! I feel bad for doing a terrible job reading it super early, but here we are anyway!

This is an alternate history, first encounter type story where Kennedy lived and the Earth ended up mobilizing a united space force against an alien race.  How is this really going to work out in the end? Read on for my spoiler free thoughts!

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Mercury Rising
  • Series: (Author alluded to a sequel)
  • Author: RWW Greene
  • Publisher & Release: Angry Robot, 05/10/22
  • Length: 400 Pages
  • Rate & Recommend:  ⭐⭐⭐⚡ Yes for fans of military sci-fi, first encounters, snarky aliens and their *coughreproductiveneedscough*

Here’s the synopsis:

Alternative history with aliens, an immortal misanthrope and SF tropes aplenty

The year is 1975 – Robert Oppenheimer has invented the Atomic Engine, the first human has walked on the moon, and Jet Carson and the Eagle Seven have sacrificed their lives to stop alien invaders.
Brooklyn, however, just wants to keep his head down, pay his mother’s rent, earn a little scratch of his own, and maybe get laid sometime. Simple pleasures! But life is about to get real complicated when a killer with a baseball bat and a mysterious box of 8-track tapes sets him up for murder.

So, his choices are limited – rot away in prison or sign up to defend the planet from the assholes who dropped a meteorite on Cleveland. Brooklyn crosses his fingers and picks the Earth Orbital Forces, believing that after a few years in the trenches – assuming he survives – he can get his life back. Unfortunately, the universe has other plans.

Brooklyn is launched into a quest to save humanity, find his true family, and grow as a person – while simultaneously coping with high-stakes space battles, mystery science experiments and the realisation that the true enemies perhaps aren’t the tentacled monsters on the recruitment poster… Or are they?

Overall, this was a quick and pretty engaging read.  I had trouble getting started with the alternate history portion since it was also super technologically advanced and that threw me off, I guess I am too used to these types of books occurring in the future.  Once the book got going with Brooklyn ending up in jail and then the military, I couldn’t put it down!

Brooklyn is an interesting character, one of those who doesn’t really want to be a hero at all but rises to the circumstances pushed upon him.  I also liked pretty much all of the characters on Venus – especially the doctor.  Throw in a medical mystery or two and this girl is on board!

Speaking of characters, there is an entirely gay spaceship and the astronauts are mostly pretty funny.  I liked seeing how they interacted with the straight guy (Brooklyn) and put him in his place without entirely dismissing his concerns. It was an eye opening experience for Brooklyn and his very gay roommate from military training.   I would have liked to know what happened to the ship and the rest of the crew after Brooklyn’s departure.

Plot wise – this one definitely kept moving.  It was interesting to discover the aliens and their motivation for initiating contact with the Earth and military.  The best part was that I really had no idea what was coming at the end.  The other best part was that Greene really focused on Brooklyn’s story, while letting the others be heroes at the end.

There is a bit of an open ending that I did like, although the author alluded to there being more writing coming in Brooklyn’s world.  With no spoilers – the book does absolutely work as a standalone, but there’s definitely room for a sequel too.

Overall – It took a while to get going for me but I can definitely recommend this one for fans of the genre!

Categories
Fantasy

It’s Cover Reveal Day for The Warrior by Stephen Aryan!!

I’m so glad to participate in the cover reveal today for The Warrior!  This sequel to The Coward is the final book in the QUEST FOR HEROES duology from Angry Robot books!

Check it out! 

Amazing cover!! Credit to Kieryn Tyler, @kieryntylerdesign on Instagram!

What it’s about:

The story of Kell Kressia continues in Book II of the gripping fantasy duology, Quest for Heroes. Kell, two time saviour of the Five Kingdoms, is now the King of Algany. He has fame, power, respect, and has never been more miserable…

I am excited to read this one, just in time for my birthday! If you want, you can preorder here:

https://angryrobotbooks.com/books/the-warrior/ 

 https://www.amazon.co.uk/Warrior-Book-Two-Quest-Heroes/dp/0857669583/ 

https://www.amazon.com/Warrior-Quest-Heroes-Book-II-ebook/dp/B09G98WLK8/ |

Signed copies of The Coward:  https://www.thebrokenbinding.co.uk/product-page/the-coward-stephen-aryan-1

Here are some other things to check out:

The Author’s website and YouTube accounts! He does much more interesting author interviews than I do 😂 there is also writing and publishing advice!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZlaVQ9rks4GaN-x3Jkos0A

https://stephen-aryan.com/

Stephen Aryan

In case you missed it – here is a little about the first book!

Who will take up the mantle and slay the evil in the Frozen North, saving all from death and destruction? Not Kell Kressia, he’s done his part…

Kell Kressia is a legend, a celebrity, a hero. Aged just seventeen he set out on an epic quest with a band of grizzled fighters to slay the Ice Lich and save the world, but only he returned victorious. The Lich was dead, the ice receded and the Five Kingdoms were safe.

Ten years have passed Kell lives a quiet farmer’s life, while stories about his heroism are told in every tavern across the length and breadth of the land. But now a new terror has arisen in the north. Beyond the frozen circle, north of the Frostrunner clans, something has taken up residence in the Lich’s abandoned castle. And the ice is beginning to creep south once more.

For the second time, Kell is called upon to take up his famous sword, Slayer, and battle the forces of darkness. But he has a terrible secret that nobody knows. He’s not a hero – he was just lucky. Everyone puts their faith in Kell the Legend, but he’s a coward who has no intention of risking his life for anyone…

Description taken from GoodReads!

Again thank you so much to Angry Robot for having me on the cover reveal squad today!

Categories
Author Interviews & Guest Posts Fantasy

Sunday Brunch Author Interview Series: Featuring Sarah J. Daley!

Welcome back to the Sunday Brunch Series! Episode 19 this week features adult fantasy author Sarah Daley!  Her debut novel Obsidian just released on 1/25 and my full review is posted on the blog here if anyone wants to check that out! There are purchase links below as well

P.S. thank you endlessly to Gemma from Angry Robot Books for suggesting and facilitating this interview! 

Read on to see the motivation for Shade Nox and her tattoos, swoony casting choices, some hints about the sequel, and so much more!


🥞Welcome to the Sunday Brunch Series! As an introduction, can you tell everyone an interesting fact about yourself that isn’t in your author bio?

🎤I’m a pretty decent skier for having grown up in the Midwest. I didn’t learn until I was almost 30, and it terrified me at first. After a few years and some lessons, I grew to love it. Although, I have had some spectacular crashes, including a freak accident where I sliced open my knee on my own ski. Ouch.

🥞Do you have a favorite brunch food?

🎤That’s a difficult question because I love brunch so it’s hard to narrow it down to one thing. If I had to choose, I’d go with something decadent like a big Belgian waffle with lots of syrup and butter, or an order of fancy French toast. No matter what, I must have a side of sausage links. Oh, and a mimosa. It’s not brunch without a mimosa! 

🥞It’s always interesting to hear about different publication journeys and Angry Robot has a knack for sussing out talent! How was the “open door” submission process? (I mean obviously it went well, congratulations!!!)

🎤Frankly, I was about to give up on the traditional route and try self-publishing. I couldn’t imagine going through endless querying to find an agent (I hadn’t tried since the days of snail mail and SASE. Yes, it was a looong time ago.) But my heart wasn’t in it; I knew my limitations and successful self-publishing is hard, hard work. Still, the restaurant where I’d been working folded, and I decided to focus on writing instead of leaping back into cooking. Basically, I decided to give it one last shot. It was do or die time. So, as I was finishing up the latest draft of this novel, Angry Robot opened their doors. The timing was too perfect; I polished the first 50 pages, wrote a query and a synopsis, and sent it to them. Once I sent it off, I told myself nothing would come of it and put it out of my mind. Two months later I got an email request for a full manuscript. I was excited, but nervous, and again told myself nothing would come of it. Two weeks (give or take) after that, I got my offer. Even then, I could hardly believe it. Finally, after decades of writing, I was going to be published!  

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🥞What was the first aspect of Obsidian that came to your imagination?

🎤It all started with a girl. A friend of mine, actually. Tall and blonde and tatted up long before it was a thing, she became my inspiration for a badass wizard woman taking on the establishment. I tend to write female main characters, so it was pretty easy to put her into a story. And I wanted to make her the hero – the strongest of the strong. Not the love interest, not the supportive friend, not the ‘helper’ who makes sure the hero gets to his destination, but the hero. From there, the story grew, the setting evolved, but the hero remained who I’d first imagined. 

🥞If you’re planning a sequel, can you share anything about your plans for it? (Please say yes, I need more of Raiden’s story)!

🎤The sequel is written for the most part. Obsidian is a stand-alone book, but Shade’s story is just beginning. Her enemies aren’t going to walk away and leave her in peace. She’s upended their entire existence, and that is unforgivable. It will take everything she has and more to face what’s coming. And Raiden will be right there with her. His past and what makes him so special are explored in more depth; he’s a major player in the next installment. Obsidian was a fast-paced adventure with a clear end goal, but the sequel gets more complicated. New enemies rise from the shadows and Shade and her people will be tested as they never have been.

🥞Do you have any tattoos? A favorite or any favorite stories related to them?

🎤I don’t have any tattoos – I’m not that cool lol – but I love them on other people. I love looking at them, and I admire the artistry and beauty of good ink. Being in the culinary industry has made me appreciate them even more. Every chef, line cook and wait person I know has awesome tattoos. My friend’s tattoos inspired me to put them in my story and make them part of the magic system. I’m happy to see how ubiquitous tattoos have become among the younger generations. I’d like to think my generation (the Xers) started the trend, but millennials and gen Z took it to the next level.  

🥞 Shade was really going against the island’s gender norms in Obsidian, with the tattoos and magic, is that a theme you were focused on?

🎤 The tattoos are vital tools of a bloodwizard’s magic, and they represent power and prestige. It’s why the Corsaro parade around in gladiator skirts, to show off their impressive ink. But they’re for men, for bloodwizards, to flaunt. Women have bloodmagic in Malavita, but it’s a patriarchal society, and they don’t openly wield it. To work her magic, Shade has to dress similarly to the men in her world, revealing an immodest amount of flesh. The fact that her tattoos are extraordinary only makes her enemies hate her all the more. It’s bad enough she thumbs her nose at the Brotherhood and the Corsaro by openly practicing magic, but to be stronger than all of them while she does it is unforgivable. Her tattoos are only a problem because they are on a woman.

🥞I liked that your characters were neither true heroes or true villains, they felt believable! What do you think makes a good morally gray character?

🎤I like characters who believe they are right and act accordingly, no matter the consequences. That whatever they have to do to achieve their ends is fine because it is necessary. The Brotherhood wants to maintain their power, but some believe Shade is a threat to their world, not just to their organization. Stopping her is necessary, and right, in their minds. I don’t like bad guys who act evil just to be evil, and I don’t like heroes who never make mistakes or never act impulsively. Those are the kinds of characters I like to write about and read about. The only truly evil creatures in my story are the Unseen, but they can’t help it.

🥞With so many films and adaptations coming out these days, which actors you’d cast for your main characters?

🎤I would love to see Charlize Theron cast as Shade, even though she’s a tad older than my MC. She’s just so cool and tough. I just watched Fury Road again and she was absolutely perfect in it. Who even needs Mad Max?? I also think Brie Larson would be great. She’s closer in age to Shade and she already played a literal superhero!

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Dante Safire is tall, dark and handsome, and I can see someone like Henry Cavill (let’s aim high lol) pulling off his bearded, brooding look.

{{Oh my. *Swoon*}}

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As for Raiden, I think Manny Jacinto would be ideal. He has the boyish good looks I imagined for Raiden. Plus, he’s absolutely gorgeous. 

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{{Raiden’s face when Shade laughed after he tried to arrest her}}

🥞What main idea do you want readers to take away from Obsidian?

🎤Mostly, I want them to root for Shade even though she’s arrogant and snarky and a bit reckless at times. For all her bluster and her incredible power, she’ll do anything to save her friends and her clan.  

🥞Here is the rapid-fire round of bookish questions:  favorite author? A book or series that you always recommend? Favorite literary character?

🎤It’s hard to pick a favorite author. I’ve read extensively across many genres. I’ve read everything Robin Hobb and Octavia Butler have ever written, though, and I can’t say that about any other writer/s. I always recommend Hobb’s Liveship Traders series and The Farseer Trilogy, and I’ll never stop telling people to read Parable of the Sower! It has to be one of my all-time favorite books. Her Patternist series and Lilith’s Brood trilogy are also excellent. Just, literally, pick up anything she’s written and it will be awesome.

A favorite literary character is equally difficult to choose. I love the Fool from Robin Hobb’s books (of Fitz and the Fool fame) and Tyrion Lannister from GOT (the books, although Peter Dinklage was an excellent casting choice) because both were odd and brilliant and complex. I also think Elric of Melnibone was one of the coolest swordsmen ever created. (I was obsessed with Moorcock when I was young.) Those are just the ones I can think of right now. I mean, I could list favorite characters for pages. 

🥞Thank you so much again for taking the time to interview! If you want to add or say or talk about anything else, please do so here!!

🎤Thank you for asking me about my book!


Book purchase & Author links!

Sarah J. Daley is a former chef who lives and writes in the Chicago Metropolitan area with her husband and teenaged son. She earned a degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. Though she still enjoys the heat and chaos of a professional kitchen, she is now writing full-time. She enjoys traveling, creating costumes for comic con, riding the occasional horse, and streaming old sitcoms for background noise.

On Twitter: @SarahJDaley

Instagram: @sarahkennedydaley

To buy Obsidian:

Obsidian

Categories
Fantasy

Obsidian (ARC Review) by Sarah J Daley

Thank you so much to Angry Robot for the free early digital copy of Obsidian by Sarah J Daley! All opinions are my own!

This is an adult (18+) fantasy novel set on a vaguely Italian feeling island; it is rich in world building and magic.  I read it fairly quickly and even though it can read as a standalone I definitely can’t wait for the next installment!

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Obsidian
  • Series: yes, #1
  • Author: Sarah J Daley
  • Publisher & Release:  Angry Robot, 01/25/22
  • Length: 400 pgs
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟🌟 for fans of adult sword & sorcery fantasy

Here is the synopsis:

Shade Nox is the only witch in a land of wizards – a fiend, a rogue, a wanted criminal.

Defying those who think her an abomination, Shade wears her tattoos openly and carries obsidian blades at her hips. For years, she has protected the outcast clans who wander the blighted Wastes, but the land is growing more unstable and her blades are no longer enough.

To save her people, Shade vows to raise a Veil of protection – a feat not accomplished in over a hundred years. But the magical Veils are said to belong to the Brotherhood church; if she succeeds in raising one, it will expose their lies. They swear to see her obliterated first.

Treading a dangerous path where allies can be as deceitful as enemies, and where demons lurk in the shadows, Shade chases a vision which could lead to her people’s salvation… or her own destruction.

Let’s talk about the world building first!  I think it had a perfect amount.  Daley went pretty deep into the history of  Malavita.  She told us what we need to know about the war between the native peoples, the history of magic use, and how certain rituals were learned and eventually corrupted, and even how some of the lore and stories came around.

On a micro level she also did a great job describing the mood of various areas, the culture in different small groups, food and drink, weather and architecture.

I liked that small things were included like a character’s ambivalence toward cats because they were susceptible to the blighted magic.

What I wanted more of: the Brotherhood’s history and how the religion developed widely enough that the four faces, the hidden, and the wild are consistent across the island.

As part of the setting and atmosphere, I did feel like the tone for each area was set with lush descriptions, temperature, sights and smells, and these things were consistent.  My favorite area was the glass fields.

For all of that, the book maintains a fast pace with plenty of action too.

Character wise: The main character is Shade Nox, a witch who wields obsidian blades. She reminded me a lot of Mia Corvere because she takes crap from no one and is terrified of horses. Apparently it is not normal in this world for women to be magic users or have the tattoos so Shade was an anomaly, ostracized, and wanted for various crimes.  She was bad ass and super powerful but also vulnerable, and had a tendency to fall in love with and/or seduce like … everyone she is in intimate proximity with.

This created a weird dynamic at the end of the book and all felt very unnecessary, but it’s adult fantasy and properly advertised as such, so characters can do what they want.   

The other main character is Raiden, who was stuck somewhere between duty and having a good heart and I liked him a lot.  He definitely had some innate unnatural ability but it was never explored, just hinted at, so I definitely needed more of that and docked the star for it.

The other characters are numerous but each contributes something meaningful.  Many have interesting stories, abilities, and snark for days.

The magic system: there’s an interesting back story for the magic.  Veils are used to protect cities from the wild and corrupted magic of the wastes, and obviously there are corrupt people too, almost like a magical mafia of priests and mages that tax and tithe the people into poverty

The blood wizards (and witch) use blades of different gemstones and materials to designate how powerful they are. Tattoo magic is also incorporated as they serve as healing wards after the mage has performed blood magic. I definitely think the magic was the book’s strongest element – it tended to be over the top at times but who doesn’t love a grandiose display of elemental magic?

I feel like I did a lot of summary so here are my thoughts: The magic, characters, history, and world building all tie together and make this an enjoyable read. These story elements combine for a consistent feel where I can understand the character’s motivations and root for them within the world. It moved along quickly.  I like the theme of women defying social boundaries (tattoos, clothing choices, etc), and love that ink is making it’s way into fantasy more now.

One totally random stylistic thing that I absolutely loved was that Daley used a pretty wide range of vocab words like ‘hummocky’ and ‘cerestory’, so I was able to learn something while reading!

Overall I definitely recommend this one for fans of adult fantasy with big magic and big personality!

Lastly: the author is doing a Sunday Brunch interview which WILL feature on 1/30!!!

Categories
Adventure Fantasy

Spidertouch (Book Tour & Review) by Alex Thomson

I am happy to be joining in the Angry Robot book tour for Spidertouch by Alex Thomson!  This is a fantasy novel, where there isn’t magic but a non human race.  It’s one of those cool genre-bending books that encompasses suspense, subterfuge, adventure, some military and siege tactics, and other things.  As in – I would recommend it to people who don’t necessarily read fantasy.

This book is a linguistics lover’s dream, with plenty of action, trickery, and world building to keep it interesting.

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Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Spidertouch
  • Series: N/A
  • Author: Alex Thomson
  • Publisher & Release: Angry Robot, 12/14/21
  • Length: 400 pgs
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Yes for anyone interested!

Here is the blurb:

Enslaved by a mute-race of cruel dictators, Razvan learns their touch-language and works as a translator in order to survive. But war is on the horizon and his quiet life is about to get noisy…

When he was a boy, Razvan trained as a translator for the hated Keda, the mute enslavers of his city, Val Kedic. They are a cruel race who are quick to anger. They keep a tight hold on the citizens of Val Kedic by forcing their children to be sent to work in the dangerous mines of the city from the age of eleven until eighteen. By learning fingerspeak – the Keda’s touch language – Razvan was able to avoid such a punishment for himself and live a life outside the harsh climate of the slums. But the same could not be said for his son…

Now a man, Razvan has etched out a quiet life for himself as an interpreter for the Keda court. He does not enjoy his work, but keeps his head down to protect his son, held hostage in the Keda’s mines. The Keda reward any parental misdemeanors with extra lashings for their children. Now the city is under siege by a new army who are perhaps even more cruel than their current enslavers. At the same time, a mysterious rebellion force has reached out to Razvan with a plan to utilize the incoming attack to defeat the Keda once and for all. Razvan must decide which side to fight on, who can be trusted, and what truly deserves to be saved.

41 year old Razvan is a translator for the Keda, an alien-ish race that took over the city hundreds of years ago and keeps the humans in subjugation by keeping the children as slaves. The problem is that the Keda only speak through a finger tapping type of touch language, so a handful of humans must act as translators.

When the city is sieged by a war ready people, it’s up to Razvan and the translators to decide if it’s a good time for civil war. I liked the theme of “What do people fight and risk themselves for?”  Money, children, power?  I liked the military and siege tactics too, nothing like hurling plague-ridden corpses over the city wall.

I loved the slightly older, less than heroic main character.  Razvan was not a leader, adventurer, or known hero – but a fisherman’s son turned translator.  The first half of the book was mostly his quiet observations on society, language, and the struggles of the populace.  Little bits of mettle kept showing through, more and more, until he finally stepped up when needed and did what he had to against the Keda.  I think they called it “linguistic subterfuge” and it was interesting, plus he wasn’t beyond a little bit of murder.  At the end of the day though Razvan was tripping over corpses rather than slaying them, aka not heroic, but he was very likeable 🤣

The language nuances were interesting, it made one think about how touch and translation are perceived. For a book that took place in one city there was a perfect level of micro world building.  The markets, the slums, food and drink, the increasing level of desperation as people starved….

The siege had a lot of good scenes too, for a generally quieter novel, Thomson turned up the heat at times.

The social structure was well thought out too, with three branches of Keda and a hierarchy among the humans as well.  The thing that drove me crazy, and I docked a star for it, was that since the Keda didn’t apparently have genders, the author used an “x” instead of the he or she, so it looked like “xe” or “xer” etc, and he used them all interchangeably.  That was the confusing part, in one sentence he would refer to one Keda by multiple different pronouns and seeing as it’s one of the real life new language phenomena that I just can’t wrap my head around yet, it was hard for me to follow in the book.  I just kept thinking “did he switch Keda or is this the same one?”

Anyway, all in all, I definitely recommend this one for just about anyone interested.  I thought the open ending was a nice touch and it had a hopeful tone and aspect

About the preorder offer – Good news! The new Angry Robot website is up and you can preorder or buy books directly now! You can use the code onereadingnurse to save 25% on a preorder of Spidertouch, so get on that! I believe the code is good until December 4th

Categories
Author Interviews & Guest Posts Fantasy

The Sunday Brunch Author Interview Series: Featuring Patricia A. Jackson!

Thanks for tuning in to the Sunday Brunch Series! For episode 16, I am beyond honored to feature Patricia A. Jackson of Angry Robot books!

Her debut novel Forging A Nightmare came out on November 23rd, and it is an amazing mix of urban fantasy, biblical mythology, and horse-crazy that only a true horse lover could write.

Forging- book tour

I am thrilled to join the book tour with this interview!  Read on to learn about the publishing journey, her tips for BiPoc authors, authentic voices, and so much more.  If you follow the link at the bottom and check out the author website – there is, if you can find it, a Star Wars costume on horse back 😂 also her book trailer had me cracking up so definitely check it out if you have time.

Let me get out of her way – here she is!


🖤Welcome to the SBS! Can you tell us an interesting thing about yourself that isn’t in the author bio?

🎤I’m an otaku! I love Japanese anime, but I’m very particular about the series i binge. Among my favorites are Psycho Pass, Kaze No Stigma, and Demon Slayer. I facilitate the Anime Club at the school where I teach.

🖤I’m so floored since you are one of the first traditionally published authors on the interview series, can you chat a bit about your publishing journey?

🎤I wrote my first little novel after seeing Star Wars in 1977. I was eight years old. I continued writing to appease an overactive imagination that was not satisfied with just reading about other worlds. In 1993, I met the editor of The Star Wars Adventure Journal. That opened the door for me to write stories in the universe that gave birth to my inspiration. Thanks to a dare from a student, I discovered Wattpad and entered the first ever Online Novella Contest. My 20,000 word entry – Feast or Famine – won second place. That novella would eventually become Forging a Nightmare.

My agent Sara Megibow (KT Literary) rejected the novel, but said her door was always open to me. I wasn’t ready to give up on the novel, so I kept working on finding it a home. It was rejected eighty-eight times. A year later, I went to a class on how to write effective query letters with Sara. Like the other folks, I emailed my query to her for a tune -up, but I didn’t bother attaching the manuscript. She contacted me about it and asked to see it. Sara made some suggestions in the first chapter. I complied, thinking her advice would surely help me land the next agent. I had no idea, she would be that agent. During a phone call, she made the offer to represent me. You know that Michelangelo painting The Creation of Adam—yeah, that’s how I felt and how I still feel. She’s amazing!

🖤 What advice do you have for other bipoc and under represented voices that may want to write a book or tell a story?

🎤Be true to your identity before embarking on this journey. Define yourself and do not let the taint of society define you because any fallacies will bleed into your story and readers will sense it. Do not be worried when people outside of your culture cannot fathom why your characters do not react the way people in other cultures do. You don’t have to spend your time or word count explaining that to someone who can never truly understand your struggle. Look at those things that have been illicitly claimed and appropriated and have no fear in taking it back and remaking it in your image.

🖤 Did you have prior interest in old testament stories and Christian mythology ((I questioned my word choice here)) and old languages, or did the research came with the novel? 

🎤I think the term mythology is perfectly fine because that’s what it is: myth. No different than the Greek, Roman, or Egyptian renditions. People often confuse faith and religion. Faith is one’s belief in something greater than themselves, which may not necessarily be a god. Religion is how you practice that faith. I have always been interested in religion and the connection to faith. I grew up with a father, who was a mason, and a mother, who was Baptist, while attending Catholic schools. I am keenly interested in the religions of other people from witchcraft to druids, including the ancient Aztecs, Greeks, and Romans because I am fascinated by the vast cultural and practical differences.

🖤Can you tell us about your own night-mares?   I have two red mares and you really nailed the mare behavior in the novel 😂

🎤I have had a love affair with Thoroughbreds since I was a kid, particularly the ones off the track. I enjoyed rescuing them from the racing life and give them a second careers as fox hunters, show hunters, and dressage horses. One of my Nightmares is named Indy. He’s actually a great-grandson of Secretariat. He is the winningest horse I have ever owned with many championship ribbons to his credit. And that’s saying a lot because he is rather opinionated.

As I have gotten older, my knees are deteriorating. I actually need replacements. So I decide to try a Warmblood. Maya is a Canadian Warmblood and she is what you call a stick and kick ride. Moving too fast consumes too many calories. Her favorite speeds are slow and stop—which is perfect. I bought her because she didn’t act at all like a mare! She is so rock solid! No mood swings. No opinions. (Unless the poor thing is suffering ulcers-whole different world then.) But I think looking forward, I’m going back to geldings.

🖤Other than Kristen Britain and Maggie Stiefvater, I guess Mindee Arnett too but she didn’t emphasize the horses in her books as much, and Tamora Pierce, I haven’t seen a lot  of horse-crazy authors in SFF! Do you have any that you love and recommend?

🎤When it comes to current fare in the SFF genre, I don’t think anyone handles it as well as Susan Dexter. She has done the best job in bringing a horse into character and bringing out the character in a horse in her Warhorse of Esdragon series. I have always wanted a horse character to feature as prominently as any other primary or secondary character, so when I could not find that, I wrote one. My favorite novel is True Knight.

🖤What would you tell one of your high school students who wanted to read your book??

🎤I’m actually quite lucky because the very first beta readers for FORGING A NIGHTMARE were high school kids. I developed the novel in a mind-mapping assignment for my first Creative Writing class. Kids have been a part of the journey every turn of the page. I told them to look for the things I’m always looking for In their work: pacing, character development, and holes, places where the muse went off the track.

🖤Since the holidays are coming, which do you think is your main character’s favorite holiday?

🎤It might seem anti-climatic, but when Michael Childs is not working his day job, he plays the role of a knight in shining armor and jousts. So his favorite holiday would be Halloween.

🖤Are you a fan of brunch? Any favorites?

🎤I am a fan of BREAKFAST at ANY time! My favorite is scrambled eggs with white toast, sausage patties and grits with a side order of home fries (no onion) and orange juice.

🖤Here is the easy rapid-fire round of bookish questions:  favorite author? A book or series that you always recommend? Favorite literary character? 

🎤Fave author: Kristin Britain

Recommended Book: True Knight by Susan Dexter

Favorite Literary Character: I’m gong to be a complete and utter fangirl when I say Tolkien’s Aragorn, which is why I love ranger characters in Dungeons and Dragons

🖤Thank you so much again for taking the time to interview! If you want to add anything else please do so here!!

🎤I  was recently involved in a dispute over banning books in the district where I work. Thanks to a few brave young women, the Panther Anti-Racist Union and their protests, the ban was temporarily lifted. These were beautiful books (many children’s books) by and about BIPOC and LGBTQ+ people. Literature, like history, is not always for the faint of heart. But what offends one, may uplift another, thus no one has the right to decide what belongs in a library and what should be burned. Banning books is never a good idea. I’d like to add that diversity and representation matter. We need more books, more stories, where people can see themselves in the struggle as the heroes, champions, vagabond anti-heroes, and not just in the ensemble cast or as sidekicks. 

🖤


You can find more info, author and purchase links on the link tree! 

https://linktr.ee/ByBirthright