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RMFAO October’20 Buddy Read Book Selection

So we are planning to have a buddy-read over at RMFAO, my Goodreads Book Club.

It will be a month-long buddy read and we have some really great book options to select from. For the month of October, we’ve picked books released in 2020 that’ve been garnering the attention of the online book community. For this list of books, please see below. We have a poll on RMFAO’s homepage and anyone who is a member fo the group can vote there.

We will select the book with maximum votes and in case of a tie, we will have both the books with maximum votes as our BOOK OF THE MONTH and will read it (or them) in the month of October. As it is a month-long buddy read, you can join us anytime throughout October, the only requirement is to finish the book before the end of October.

We will be discussing the Book Of The Month throughout the month of October on a separate dedicated thread in the group itself but will be maintaining a spoiler-free policy till at least we reach the ‘more than half the month’ mark. After that even spoilers would be welcome as most of the readers tend to finish the book by then.

Here are the options to choose from:

  1. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennet
  2. The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin
  3. Sisters by Daisy Johnson
  4. Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid
  5. A Long Petal Of The Sea by Isabel Allende
  6. The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel
  7. Things In Jars by Jess Kidd
  8. If It Bleeds by Stephen King
  9. My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

And here’s the RMFAO Goodreads Poll:

Poll
Which book would you like to read for the month of October?
(Please vote only if you plan to join the Buddy Read. Don’t worry about the book, we’ll be more than happy to provide you the ebook if you really want to participate in the read with us.)
https://www.goodreads.com/poll/widget/207332-which-book-would-you-like-to-read-for-the-month-of-october-please-vot

Everyone is welcome to join and anyone can participate at any time during the month of October.

Happy Reading!

Book Review: Mainely Power (A Goff Langdon Mainely Mystery #1) by Matt Cost

Author: Matt Cost
Release Date: 18 September 2020
Genre: Cosy Mystery
Series: Goff Langdon Mainely Mystery: Book #1
Format: E-book 
Pages: 304 pages
Publisher: Encircle Publications
Blurb:
Was Harold Dumphy killed to cover up something at the nuclear power plant he was the head of security at?

This is what the widow asks Goff Langdon, private detective, to find out.

Langdon is a laid back, slacker detective, happy with his work, friends, and way of life in the town of Brunswick, Maine. To compliment his income in small town Maine’s scarce private detective market, Langdon also owns and operates a mystery bookstore named after his trusted companion, Coffee Dog.

Does Langdon stand a chance against corrupt cops, crooked politicians, greedy millionaires, radical environmentalists, and a deadly assassin named Shakespeare?

With the help of Bart, the bear of a cop, Jimmy 4 by Four the hippie lawyer, the immigrants Jewell and Richam, and his desire and employee, Chabal—he sets out to do just that. And then he is framed for not one, but two murders, and events become very complicated.

Follow Langdon and his band of friends as they attempt to untangle the web of intrigue and return Brunswick to ‘the way life should be.’

Book Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Mainely Power by Matt Cost is a very laid-back personal investigator mystery that takes the readers on a ride that starts slow but build up as it progresses.

I love reading cosy mysteries because they are a lot better than hard-boiled detective series in a way that they have everything a mystery buff looked for in a book without the unnecessary and many times indulgent (only for the author) details. And this book proved me right yet again! Cosies are far better and also, PIs are much more interesting to read about than a DI.

Anyway, my thought on the matter aside, this book proved to be one hell of a ride! It started slowly introducing the laid-back main character who is a PI but also has a mystery bookstore. And then he gets tangled in a case that sets him, his dear friends and the readers along with them on a very slippery course. What follows is an array of twists and turns that turns the life of Goff, the main character, upside down.

The book gets interesting by the page and really picks up the pace after the halfway point (in the middle of the 2nd act) until the end, gradually getting faster and faster with each and every chapter which translated into the story turning into an un-put-down-able read. The characterization was brilliant and I loved not only the main character but also the secondary characters. The writing was good and the narration had a very nice flow.

Overall I really enjoyed the book, especially considering the fact that this one is my first book by the author, and I would definitely recommend it to all mystery buffs, especially who love reading cosy mysteries.

You can also read this review on 

Book Review: Marilia, the Warlord (Chrysathamere Trilogy #1) by Morgan Cole

Author: Morgan Cole 
Release Date: March 2020
Genre: YA Fantays, Coming Of Age
Series: The Chrysthamere Trilogy: Book #1
Format: E-book 
Pages: 482 pages
Publisher: 
Blurb:

Formerly published under the title “Marilia, the Bastard.”
Born the bastard daughter of a painted lady, Marilia was told she would live out her days within the walls of her mother’s brothel, a companion for the rich men of Tyrace. But after a terrible betrayal, Marilia’s world turns upside down. With the help of her twin brother, Annuweth, she flees the only home she’s ever known in search of the one man who can offer her a chance at a better life–the Emperor of Navessea’s greatest general, a friend of her deceased father.

What follows is a journey spanning years, from the streets of the desert city of Tyracium to the splendor of the emperor’s keep and the wind-swept, wild island of Svartennos. Along the way, Marilia discovers, for the first time, the gift she has for strategy and warfare—a world that is forbidden to girls like her

When the empire is threatened by a foreign invasion, the defense of Navessea is left in the hands of a cruel and arrogant general no match for the empire’s enemy. With the fate of her new home and her family hanging in the balance, Marilia swears to use all her courage and cunning to do whatever she can to help repel the invasion—if she can convince anyone to follow her.

The struggle that follows will test her to her core and lead her back to the past she thought she had escaped. Facing treachery within her own ranks as well as a devious enemy commander, Marilia will need all the help she can get, even if it means doing something her brother may never forgive—making a deal with the man who murdered her father.

Inspired by The Song of Achilles and Ender’s Game, Marilia, the Warlord is a blend of the epic and the personal, a story of romance, envy, the rivalry between brother and sister, and one woman’s painful discovery that her childhood dreams weren’t quite what she imagined.

Book Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Marilia: The Warlord by Morgan Cole is the 1st book in the series The Chrysthamere Trilogy and also my first book by author Morgan Cole (pen name.)

The first thing I’d like to mention about this amazing book is that it is full of life, willpower and strength! This book really got me out of my self-pitying reverie (related to some medical issues) and made me feel like myself again. And I am sure it was all possible only because of the main character, Marilia. She is just so full of life, courageous and willing to do anything in order to achieve her goals. Her relationship with her twin brother was not only portrayed well but felt very realistic as the author showed not only the good but also the bad that is an inevitable part of every relationship.

The secondary characters were all good too. But what I liked most after the characterisation was the world-building – it was brilliant! The writing is really good and presents the plot in a really good way, having a great flow to it which made this book an easy read.

If you are a fantasy lover than you must read this book! I highly recommend it to all YA and fantasy lovers.

You can also read this review on 

Book Review: The Shoreless Sea (Liminal Sky #3) by J. Scott Coatsworth

Author: J. Scott Coatsworth
Release Date: 9th September 2020
Genre: Science-Fiction Fantasy, LGBTQ
Series: Liminal Sky (Book #3)
Format: E-book 
Pages: 400 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Blurb:
As the epic trilogy hurtles toward its conclusion, the fight for the future isn’t over yet. It could lead to a new beginning, or it might spell the end for the last vestiges of humankind. The generation ship Forever has left earth behind, but a piece of the old civilization lives on in the Inthworld—a virtual realm that retains memories of earth’s technological wonders and vices. A being named Lilith leads the uprising, and if she succeeds in setting its inhabitants free, they could destroy Forever.

But during the generation ship’s decades-long voyage, humanity has evolved. Liminals with the ability to connect with the world mind and the Inthworld provide a glimmer of hope. They’ll have to face not only Lilith’s minions, but also the mistrust of their own kind and persecution from a new government as homotypicals continue to fear what they can’t understand. The invasion must be stopped, the Inthworld must be healed, and the people of Forever must let go of their past and embrace what they’re meant to become.

Book Review

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Shoreless Sea by J. Scott Coatsworth is the 3rd book in the series Liminal Sky and my third book by author J. Scott Coatsworth.

Wow! What a smashing ending to a brilliant series! If I have to sum up this series in a single sentence, I would say that all the time I put into reading this series was well worth it and I am really happy that I read it. For some reason (and a valid one too) I am a little sceptical when I am offered a series to review because more often than not, authors tend to either completely blow it, or fail to keep up with the one best book in the series. Both of which are pretty irritating and sad, to be honest. But I am so, so happy that this series did not turn out to be one of those: the story grew steadily, and the characterisation along with it, as the series progressed further with each book ending in a way that made perfect sense.

I loved this book because it answered all the questions and tied pretty much all loose ends making it a perfect end to such an epic journey. And thankfully, it lived up to my expectations from it based on its prequels as a reader, so I was left very satisfied. The most amazing part is, I could see the improvement and growth, which is only natural, in the entire series, and this book turned out to be the best one. I loved the plot, the action and the politics involved were well structured and executed.

I loved how the author made use of subtle and well-placed indirect metaphors and juxtaposition to get the bigger point across; we, humans, are indeed scared of things and concepts we do not understand or fail to understand for some reason and therefore are very quick to form an opinion against that concept or thing forgetting, very conveniently, that we are, in the end, beings of evolution and thus will have to accept the changes that we as a species and the overall nature has to undergo or experience.

I’d definitely recommend not only this book but the entire series to all sci-fi and fantasy lovers. And if you’re looking for a new series to explore, I highly recommend Liminal Sky series as this series begins on a great note and ends at an even better note. Go for it, it is well worth the time and money!

You can also read this review on 

Book Review: Meatballs & Microphones: A True Story About Small Kitchens and Big Dreams by Gregory Patrick Travers

Author: Gregory Patrick Travers
Release Date: 3rd June 2019
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Series:
Format: E-book 
Pages: 183 pages
Publisher: 
Blurb:
Being a cook and a rapper is hard work. Thankfully there are drugs to make it better.
They say out of all the aspiring rappers trying to make it, only 1% will ever find mainstream success. Gregory Patrick Travers pens a fiction-like memoir of the ups and downs of Vancouver rapper, joBlow. One of the 99% who didn’t. Set in the years 2010 to 2014, not only does the book give you a behind-the-scenes look at the world of underground hip hop and the politics of the chain restaurant industry, but it places you in the timeline of notable Canadian milestones like the 2011 Stanley Cup riots, the Occupy Movement, and the 2010 Olympics.
Meatballs & Microphones is a raw look into how one man’s chase for fame led to the destruction of every personal relationship he ever held dear. From bad band breakups to his struggle with addiction, to being homeless in order to pay for his tour expenses, this book lifts the veil of glamour surrounding fame and focuses on the hardships and downfalls that come with it.

Book Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Meatballs & Microphones by Gregory Patrick Travers is a touching and extremely relatable tale of someone who did not make it big in the music industry and, therefore, is a very realistic dig at the other side of the coin towards which a lot of people tend to turn a blind eye. This book is very much an eye-opener for anyone who either wants to enter the hip-hop music scene/industry or want to know how things really are behind the scenes.

I loved the writing of the author as it successfully delivered the context in a very relevant way and managed to pull at my heartstrings at the same time. I felt strongly for the author and was enraged in the last third fo the book, though thankfully, I was relieved by the ending as it turned out to be okay, if not great, for the author.

I’d definitely recommend this book to all the non-fic readers, but I’d also urge the fiction readers to check out this book as it reads really well (almost like a fiction novel) and tells a great story.

You can also read this review on 

Author Interview: Morgan Cole

Welcome to TRB Lounge!

Today, we are featuring Morgan Cole , author of Marilia, the Warlord, the first book in the Chrysathamere Trilogy, for our Author Interview feature.

About The Author

Morgan Cole

Bureaucrat by day, fantasy author by night, I began my writing career with several highly questionable life choices, such as a major in history and creative writing that was meant to lead to a glorious career as a fantasy author but instead led to the world of unpaid internships, minimum wage jobs, and a dingy, lightless apartment in small-town Ohio.

I suppose I took all those motivational posters about shooting for the moon and landing among the stars far too seriously. After a rocky relationship with a literary agent that didn’t quite work out, I decided to pursue an alternative career path (that actually allows me to pay rent) and to write my books on the side.

Growing up, my father instilled in me a passion for ancient Greek and Roman history (especially all the battles!), while my brother helped immerse me in the imaginative worlds of Morrowind and Middle Earth. All those influences are very much present in my writing.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

Author Website  | Goodreads | Instagram



The Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

I grew up in the American Midwest with my brother, where I spent most of my time pretending I was either in space battling stormtroopers or in some fantasy world battling orcs or demons or whatever the monster of the day happened to be. I was the quintessential quiet, shy, anxious kid—I hated school because it involved social interaction and even CROWDS, a more fearsome foe than any demon. All that self-doubt, fear, alienation—I tend to pour it into my characters. It’s a cathartic process. 

I made a number of poor life choices in the intervening years. One winner has to be signing a contract with a literary agent while in a particularly intensive school program. I soon learned that I had absolutely no time, while studying, to make the edits she sought in order to transform the book from an adult fantasy into the more marketable YA genre. I stalled, and the relationship fizzled out. Afterwards, I decided to go it alone, as I kind of preferred the book as an adult fantasy anyway!

Morgan Cole is my pen name. Why the secret identity? I wish it was because I was some kind of secret celebrity, but the truth is that a buried part of me hasn’t totally given up on trying to get “traditionally” published some day when I have more time to devote to agent-hunting (and a book that better fits the market). And I’ve heard it’s easier to do that if the powers that be don’t realize you’ve published books on your own—an act of rebellion many in Big Publishing seem to frown on.

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

Though Marilia, the Warlord is a fantasy, it’s written in the structural style of a historical biographical novel, following the protagonist over the course of many years. I love to explore how childhood shapes who we are, so I couldn’t just not have scenes of the characters as children! It’s also possibly one of the only fantasy books I’ve read without any magic. Sure, there’s some weird creatures here and there, and crystal swords and the like, but no powers or spells. I have nothing against magic in principle, though I do truly hate it when the final showdown comes down to a character using some newly-discovered magical ability to just up and destroy the villain (you hear me, Letter for the King on Netflix??). I’ll take a good old-fashioned sword duel any day.

Finally, each book in this series explores a different theme, and one of my main goals with the first novel was to examine the notion of the “strong female character.” For some reason, the media often seems to assume that it’s empowering when a female character beats people up or kills them. Why? Isn’t it interesting that violence—stereotypically a masculine pursuit—is considered strong, while being less martially gifted is considered weak? Marilia swings a sword around, but that’s not what makes her a strong character. 

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

Well, that kind of spoils the ending. But one thing I can say—despite this book being about a badass woman warrior, I did not want it to be about the generic kind of tough girl I see in a lot of recent Hollywood movies and bad novels—saucy, witty, always ready with a quip, always the most composed and unflappable person in the room, and strong by the virtue that she beats up/kills men. In fact, that was one of the very notions that I set out to question—that being a strong female character means engaging in the traditionally masculine, and kind of terrible pursuits of violently killing or beating people up. Why is that what is most respected by our society? How far have we really come if being a strong female hero means entirely rejecting traditionally feminine things in favor of violence? 

Who is your favourite character in this book and why? 

I feel like that’s an easy one. Marilia, of course—the protagonist. She’s the most developed character in the story. She’s also probably the character who changed the most from draft-to-draft, going from a religious zealot who actually believed she heard the voices of the gods to the more grounded, level-headed heroine she is today. I also have a soft spot for several side characters who are loosely inspired by real people I know…but to say who or why would spoil the sequels. 

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else? 

The Chrysathamere Trilogy was inspired by a conversation I had with my brother where we discussed the unrealized potential of the three Star Wars prequels (I was a shamelessly obsessed Star wars fan growing up; I had the Jedi hair going and everything) and how they were ripe for a remake with better dialogue. The story shifted and changed over time, and now only very loosely resembles its Clone Wars-in-fantasy-land origins.

There are certainly a lot of other influences. A song of Ice and Fire, obviously (I liked Game of Thrones before it was cool!), but also some lesser-known books and movies like Searching for Bobby Fischer, a rather excellent movie about chess and the harmful effects jealousy and cutthroat competition can have on children. When it comes to battle scenes and tactics, I tend to steal a bit here and there from real history. In this book, it was Alexander the Great’s epic battle at Gaugamela. 

How long did it take you to write this particular book? 

While I’m happy to finally have this book finished, it was a real struggle to get there! I began brainstorming and outlining this novel back when I was scarcely older than Marilia herself. The writing and re-writing took ten long years! At one point, a literary agent advised me to cut the book (which at that time had two protagonists) in half and focus only on Marilia. I did, and the story was stronger for it. 

What are your writing ambitions? Are you working on any new projects presently? 

When it comes to my writing goals, I’m just going to take things one step at a time. I’ll finish editing and fine-tuning the 4 books (The Chrysathamere Trilogy + 1 other adventure novel) I’ve been working on, and then we’ll see…if people respond to them, like them, I’ll probably feel the urge to make more!

As for the good ‘ol “where do you see yourself in 5 years” question…I don’t think I’ve given an accurate answer to that question thus far in my life. Especially with COVID-19 roiling the globe and political turmoil roiling my home city of Washington, DC, I find it best not to plan too far ahead. In 5 years I could be a victim of the coming apocalypse, who knows? I don’t want to jinx it.

Are you working on any new projects presently?

I’m still working on the third book in this trilogy. It’s the longest and the three, and the bloodiest, so it’s quite a bit of work. I ended up re-writing the last 150 pages from scratch because I wasn’t a fan of the climax. I wanted to be sure to get it right—I might have been inspired by A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones but I definitely wanted to make the same mistakes that series did when it came to (not) wrapping things up. After that, I have another nearly-finished project that’s sort of like if The Last of Us met the Princess Bride. 

Why have you chosen this genre? 

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with harrowing sword duels and magical worlds. Together, my brother and I killed many imaginary orcs. So it always felt natural to explore that in my writing. Plus, I’d always wanted to read more fantasy books where there was no magic and the main character was just a regular person, so I figured why not write one? 

When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you to follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way? 

I probably decided to “become a writer” around the time I was ten. I wrote my first novel in high school. It wasn’t totally terrible, but it certainly was pretentious, especially the scene where the villain stopped mid-fight to monologue to the hero for four pages straight about how charity and altruism is for the weak because we live in a society and something something laissez faire capitalism. Just as unnecessarily edgy as you’d expect an emo high schooler’s first novel to be, really. 

It wasn’t easy at all. In pursuing the dream of being a writer, I ended up making some foolish choices in college that cost me dearly when it came time to get a job. I feel, in retrospect, that it’s far better to major in something practical like computer science that allows you flexibility in employment (so as to have time to write on the side) then majoring in creative writing itself. For one thing, none of those classes teach you a whit about how to actually write and sell a novel, and the short story market isn’t exactly robust. I also sacrificed a lot of time I could have spent with friends—still a bit sad about that. 

Because I screwed college up so badly, I ended up struggling for a whole to find a long-term job. Eventually, an immigration lawyer was kind enough to take me in as an assistant after we met in the middle-of-nowhere Texas in a family detention center where we were both volunteering—him as a free lawyer for refugees seeking political asylum, me as an interpreter. Because of my experience working with him, I ended up going to law school, which is funny, because I never saw myself as any kind of lawyer (I always hated public speaking). Life takes you in strange directions, I guess!

I labored for a long time under the delusion that writing could pay my bills. It really doesn’t—the cost of a professional editor alone will easily be more than the yearly earnings of most self-published authors. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t value or beauty in the act of writing. 

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it? 

I have no real ritual. I like to do a lot of planning first—sometimes two months of brainstorming before I ever sit down to write. Even then, the story never goes 100% the way I planned. I write when I have time, which is usually on the weekends. Some of my favorite scenes got down on vacation, though. 

How do you prefer to write? On computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

Certainly on a laptop. I tend to hold my pencil with a death-grip and my handwriting is terrible. I’m convinced I was born left-handed and raised right-handed by mistake. I tend to do a lot of editing as I go, so the laptop tends to make that easier. 

Your 5 favourite books?

A tough question, as they tend to change as I grow older. But they might be: Dark Age, by Pierce Brown; Circe by Madeline Miller; The Land Beyond the Sea by Sharon Kay Penman; Best Served Cold, by Joe Abercrombie; and Horns, by Joe Hill (what is it with Joes?) But I also like Gillian Flynn’s books a lot, and there’s this one book by Nick Cutter called the Troop that gave me nightmares and still gives me the shivers when I think about it, if you’re into that sort of thing…I guess maybe a part of me is still the edgy student I was in high school.  

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

By feverishly trying to brainstorm my way around a problem until I fail miserably, then talking to someone else—a friend, or a relative—until finally clarity strikes. Usually the answer to my plot hole is outside the box. For example, I once spent three weeks agonizing about how Marilia could break into a castle and assassinate a certain character. After devising twelve plans, each more preposterous than the last, I jettisoned the assassination plotline completely and completely re-did the ending of that book. But I really struggle with writer’s block sometimes. For reasons unknown to me, so many of my problems seem to revolve around boats/ships. That naval battle in Marilia, the Warlord? An absolute nightmare. Once this series is over, if I keep writing, I’m going to only write books set in landlocked countries. 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

They always say to read in your genre, but I feel like I grew as much, if not more, reading outside it, finding new ideas, and then dragging them back into the fantasy genre. “Literary” fiction, historical fiction, horror—I tend to read those the most. Also, don’t do what I did—major in creative writing in college. They taught me nothing about the marketing side of being an author, and, while my professors gave me some useful teachings regarding writing short stories, I gained almost next to no information about writing novels, which are a very different beast. I wish I’d chosen a major that would have made it easier to get a day job to leave lots of time for writing—I learned best through constant practice. 

Thank you, Morgan, for all your honest and helpful (especially to new writers) answers!


About The Book

Marilia: The Warlord

Born the bastard daughter of a painted lady, Marilia was told she would live out her days within the walls of her mother’s brothel, a companion for the rich men of Tyrace. But after a terrible betrayal, Marilia’s world turns upside down. With the help of her twin brother, Annuweth, she flees the only home she’s ever known in search of the one man who can offer her a chance at a better life: one of her deceased father’s friends, the Emperor of Navessea’s greatest general. 

What follows is a journey spanning years, from the streets of the desert city of Tyracium to the splendor of the emperor’s keep and the wind-swept, wild island of Svartennos. Along the way, Marilia discovers, for the first time, the gift she has for strategy and warfare—a world that is forbidden to girls like her.

When the empire is threatened by a foreign invasion, the defense of Navessea is left in the hands of a cruel and arrogant general no match for the empire’s foes. With the fate of her new home and her family hanging in the balance, Marilia swears to use all her courage and cunning to help repel the enemy…if she can convince anyone to follow her.

The struggle that follows will test her to her core and lead her back to the past she thought she had escaped. Facing treachery within her own ranks as well as a devious enemy commander, Marilia will need all the help she can get, even if it means doing something her brother may never forgive—making a pact with the man who murdered her father. 

Inspired by The Song of Achilles and Ender’s GameMarilia, the Warlord is a blend of the epic and the personal, a story of war, romance, envy, the rivalry between brother and sister, and a young woman’s fight to find her place in the world. 

Get your copy of Marilia here:
Amazon | Kobo | B&N | Smashwords | iBooks


To read more author interviews, click here.

If you are an author and wish to be interviewed or if you are a publicist and want to get your author interviewed on TRB, then please get in touch through direct e-mail: thereadingbud@gmail.com

Book Review: An Indelible Day by Cairo Marques

Author: Cairo Marques
Release Date: 23 July 2020
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Series:
Format: E-book 
Pages: 25 pages
Publisher: 
Blurb:
The story accompanies a single day of John C., a man of about thirty. In this short passage of time he has three dialogues with three different people. These dialogues, certainly, have shaped his day and, likely, will exist within him eternally.

Book Review

Rating: 3 out of 5.

An Indelible Day by Cairo Marques is a very unique and fresh take on the various facades we put on for different parts we play in our life. What makes this story even more interesting is that this book tells the story of the main character through a single day.

The writing was good for the most part and the characterisation was good (it had depth and layers) and the story, overall, was very interesting. Given that this book takes less than half an hour to read (a lot less actually,) it would be perfect for anyone looking for a quick engaging read.

You can also read this review on 

Book Review: The Night and the Land (The Deschembine Trilogy Book 1) by Matt Spencer

Author: Matt Spencer
Release Date: 13th May 2019
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: The Deschembine Trilogy (Book #1)
Format: E-book 
Pages: 362 pages
Publisher: Back Roads Carnival Books 
Blurb:
Among the local hippies and squatters of Brattleboro, Vermont, Sally Wildfire is on the run, hiding from her cruel, relentless family. She finds unexpected love with Rob, a bristly young man freshly awoken to alien sensations and ancestral memories of a long-forgotten realm…setting them both on a collision course with a brutal rite of passage, as the Wildfire family leaves a trail of mangled corpses on the road to Brattleboro. 

Book Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Night and the Land by Matt Spencer is a brilliant urban fantasy read that hooked me right from the beginning and left me wanting for more in the end! It is a perfect start to a trilogy and I am definitely looking forward to reading the next 2 books in this series.

The best thing about this book, for me, was the world-building. The author has woven an intricate universe that merges seamlessly with ours and leaves you wondering about the story having some truth to it. It is the best kind of fantasy when it makes you question your reality and for me, that is where this book wins!

Other than that, the characterisation was good enough, the narration was superb and the plot was simply out of the world. I loved every bit of it, though I am holding back one start cause I have a feeling the sequel might be better as it will be developing the world and characterisation further (or at least I hope so.)

I’d definitely recommend it to all fantasy readers. It is worth all the time!

You can also read this review on 

Book Review: SUPERBU Homecoming: The emotional story of a family and their dog by Debarshi Kanjilal

Author: Debarshi Kanjilal
Release Date: 15th August 2020
Genre: Contemporary
Series:
Format: E-book 
Pages: 117 pages
Publisher:
Blurb:
You cried with Hachiko. You got spooked and then laughed it off with Scooby Doo. And you fell in love with John Grogan’s incorrigible Marley. But you have yet to meet a dog quite like Super Bu ♥. After years of arguments on the matter, the Bera family has finally decided to bring home a dog.✓ Ajay has wanted a dog since he was a child. He has fantasized about every version of his future life around them.
✓ His brother, Arun, would love to get a dog as much but doesn’t mind not having to clean up after one.
✓ Ajit, their father, also wants to get a dog. He just wants to feel the love of a dog again, like he used to when he was a child.
✓ Barnali, Ajit’s wife, loathes the idea of having a dog in the house. She spent her childhood praying for only one thing, that she shouldn’t get married into a family that has dogs. And until now, she got her wish. But now, Ajay has finally worn out his mother’s resilience and the Beras are bringing home a dog. Will this be the homecoming that the dog or the family had anticipated?
Read now and find out.

P.S. This is not a children’s book or a fairy tale. This novella is not all about fun, or that fuzzy feeling you get from stories about dogs. It is a dramatic story of a family who brought home a dog. If you are looking for a book that’ll keep you continuously smiling through the antics of an adorable puppy, this is perhaps not the book for you.
So, now that you know what not to expect, let’s talk about what you can expect from this book. Have you or someone you know ever felt like something is missing in your life and getting a dog could help you fill a void? Did you, or an acquaintance of yours, end up actually getting that dog? Did you and your dog figure out how to navigate through life together? This is the story of that dog, or a dog like that one. But more importantly, this is the story of that version of you, or that acquaintance of yours, who decided to act and bring home that dog, or of people like you who went through similar experiences in life.
★ If you have ever felt like you needed to be loved a little more than you are, I hope that this story tells you exactly how to find that love.
★ Some early readers said, “This is a book about poop, the pooper, and the poop cleaners, but it is about much more.”
★ A significant portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book will go toward funding the Buzoland project. The Buzoland project is a personal endeavor of the author of this book to create a home, not a shelter, for stray and abandoned dogs in India. The goal is to give these homeless dogs the same love and care that one would give a purebred dog.

Book Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Superbu: Homecoming by Debarshi Kanjilal is a beautiful book about the journey of the main characters as new dog-parents. It not only had a lot to offer to those who’ve gone through similar experiences but also for those who want to have a pet or wish they had one and plan for it someday.

The writing in the book is good which was, of course, why I rated this book so highly. The story had a very nice flow and I am looking forward to reading more books by the author in the future.

Being a cat-mom of over 8 house-cats and another 10 outside-cats, I was able to relate to this book a lot. It managed to tug on my heartstrings and, therefore, I’d definitely recommend it to everyone.

You can also read this review on 

Also check out author Debarshi Lal’s other posts on TRB:

Book Review: The Rising Tide (Liminal Sky #2) by J. Scott Coatsworth

Author: J. Scott Coatsworth
Release Date: 16th October 2018
Genre: Science-Fiction Fantasy, LGBTQ
Series: Liminal Sky (Book #2)
Format: E-book 
Pages: 388 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Blurb:
Earth is dead. Five years later, the remnants of humanity travel through the stars inside Forever: a living, ever-evolving, self-contained generation ship. When Eddy Tremaine and Andy Hammond find a hidden world-within-a-world under the mountains, the discovery triggers a chain of events that could fundamentally alter or extinguish life as they know it, culminate in the takeover of the world mind, and end free will for humankind.

Eddy, Andy, and a handful of other unlikely heroes—people of every race and identity, and some who aren’t even human—must find the courage and ingenuity to stand against the rising tide. Otherwise they might be living through the end days of human history.

Book Review

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Rising Tide by J. Scott Coatsworth is the 2nd book in the series Liminal Sky and my second book by the author. In one sentence, I loved it!

This book picks up 5 years after where the first book ended and carries on from there. There is no Earth now and so this book is set in a humungous space-ship which sustains life. I loved the new settings. The world-building was impressive and I enjoyed imagining the life in this one-of-a-kind world throughout the book. Though the best thing about the book is the utopian dream that the villain nurtures. I loved it because whenever in a book, especially in sci-fi-fantasy books, the concept of a seemingly utopian dream is introduced, it invariably leads to the exploration of a lot of interesting as well as important themes. And that is exactly what happened in this book. Therefore, it won’t be wrong if I’d say that I actually liked this one better than the first book!

Even though this book is a part of a series, you can read it as a stand-alone novel (at least, in my opinion,) because even though the events are carried forward, most of the book is based in a new world than the last one and except for a couple of main characters, the rest of the characters are mostly new – and that is kind of the whole point of this story, so you can definitely read it as a stand-alone. Anyway, reading the entire series is definitely recommended.

You can also read this review on 

Guest Post: The Four Secret Ingredients of a Successful Indie Author by Debarshi Kanjilal

Today, at TRB Lounge, we are hosting Debarshi Kanjilal, author of SuperBu: Homecoming, to share some secrets of being a successful independent author.

Note: Read author Debarshi Kanjilal’s interview with TRB here

The Four Secret Ingredients of a Successful Indie Author

I wanted to be a writer since the age of eight but didn’t know the path to becoming one.  At the time, my idea of being an author was being published by Penguin Random House or Bloomsbury. Indie publishing had too much stigma around it.

Years later, when I did end up choosing the path of indie publishing, I was still fighting against similar stigma. But several books, blogs, forums, and courses later, I now know the reason for that stigma as well as the way to avoid it.

A traditionally published author enjoys a few unfair advantages because they’re backed by a big money business. But the unfair advantages created by that money can be offset by the additional effort and time put in by an indie author. So, what are these unfair advantages?

Editing

People often jump to the conclusion that big publishing houses sell more because they have a bigger marketing budget. While not untrue, they don’t just put money into marketing. They invest heavily in their editorial team – professional proofreaders, copy editors, substantial editors, they make sure that every book is editorially perfect. An indie author doesn’t always have the budget for all of that, but most rookie indie authors make the mistake of publishing without any editing whatsoever. I have been there and I still have some books out in the market that suffer due to editorial inferiority. But having learnt from those errors, I now have a formula that works – I try to work with at least three beta readers and at least one copy editor and implement their feedback before publishing anything. This ensures that my books have minimal editorial issues without shooting a hole through my pocket.

Typesetting and Formatting

Books are for readers – a very finite market segment. The truth is not many people who are not readers will buy and read your book. And readers are conditioned to expect a certain way of typesetting and formatting books. A good book will just not capture a reader’s imagination if it is formatted or typeset in a way that distracts them. The good news is that the bulk of indie publishing happens on Amazon, and Amazon has a product called Kindle Create that makes it easier to properly format and typeset both print books and e-books. It is important to utilize these resources efficiently.

Mailing List

While big publishers have access to a vast group of readers who are already waiting for their next book, indie authors do not have such a vast pre-existing audience. They need to cultivate that audience and regularly engage with them. A mailing list is the most effective tool to this end. Yes, you can also cultivate your audience via social media, but email is still the most effective way to connect with them on a personal level. A person who receives an email from you will care more about you and your book than someone who stumbles upon your post about your own book on social media. Social media works best when other people start talking about you and your book.

Digital Marketing

Lastly, big publishers have access to thousands of physical bookstores to display their books and therefore putting their books in front of innumerable eyes. As an indie author, you and I may not have this luxury. However, if your book cannot get any eyeballs then your book isn’t going to sell any copies. This is where digital marketing helps. Amazon ads, Google ads, Facebook ads, etc. democratize advertising to the extent possible. Even an indie author can set aside a small budget to test an online ad, see how it performs, optimize it further, and get in front of thousands of eyeballs. This is an opportunity you wouldn’t want to pass.

Being an indie author can be a rewarding as well as a fulfilling journey. But make no mistake, an indie author needs to work harder and keep toiling alone much longer in order to achieve success. That said, a good story supported by these four secret ingredients can make your journey absolutely worthwhile.

About the author:

Debarshi Kanjilal

Debarshi Kanjilal (DK) is an urban fiction writer based out of Bangalore, India. His debut novella, Based on Lies, was touted as a gripping psychological thriller by several reputable reviewers.

His latest novella, SuperBu: Homecoming is an emotional journey of a family and their dog. Debarshi ran the ‘God of Absurdity’ blog from 2012 to 2015, which published humorous anecdotes and reflection pieces.

He is also an accomplished learning experience design professional who has helped shape adult learning strategy for some of the most well-known organizations globally.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

Author Website  | Amazon | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


ABOUT THE BOOK:

SuperBu: Homecoming

This is not a children’s book or a fairy tale. This novella is not all about fun, or that fuzzy feeling you get from stories about dogs. It is a dramatic story of a family who brought home a dog. If you are looking for a book that’ll keep you continuously smiling through the antics of an adorable puppy, this is perhaps not the book for you.

So, now that you know what not to expect, let’s talk about what you can expect from this book. Have you or someone you know ever felt like something is missing in your life and getting a dog could help you fill a void? Did you, or an acquaintance of yours, end up actually getting that dog? Did you and your dog figure out how to navigate through life together?

This is the story of that dog, or a dog like that one. But more importantly, this is the story of that version of you, or that acquaintance of yours, who decided to act and bring home that dog, or of people like you who went through similar experiences in life.

You can find SuperBu: Homecoming here:

Amazon | Goodreads


If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author’s guest post on TRB, then please get in touch through email at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Debarshi Kanjilal

Welcome to the TRB Lounge, the part of TRB that helps authors and publishers promote their titles.

Today, we are featuring Debarshi Kanjilal, author of SuperBu: Homecoming, for our Author Interview feature.

About The Author

Debarshi Kanjilal

Debarshi Kanjilal (DK) is an urban fiction writer based out of Bangalore, India. His debut novella, Based on Lies, was touted as a gripping psychological thriller by several reputable reviewers.

His latest novella, SuperBu: Homecoming is an emotional journey of a family and their dog. Debarshi ran the ‘God of Absurdity’ blog from 2012 to 2015, which published humorous anecdotes and reflection pieces.

He is also an accomplished learning experience design professional who has helped shape adult learning strategy for some of the most well-known organizations globally.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

Author Website  | Amazon | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram



The Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

Hello to the readers of TRB! I am an urban fiction author based out of Bangalore, India. I published my first novella, Based on Lies, in 2017 and now I have a new story to share with the world. When I am not writing, you will find me lecturing people about the way adults learn, spending time with dogs, fiddling with my phone, or begrudgingly cooking a meal in the kitchen. Before the pandemic hit, you’d also have found me planning weekend road trips around the city.

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

I don’t think it will come as a surprise, but the story of SUPERBU is inspired by the life of Buzo, who was a part of our family until recently. When I had first started planning the story, it was meant to be a fantasy about a four-legged superhero. But with time, I realized that every dog is already a superhero for its family; I didn’t need to give Bully, the dog who this book is about, any additional superpowers to tell the story I wanted to tell.

As for Buzo, she will always be my superhero. And if this book does well, she will, hopefully, become a superhero for some other dogs. I plan to use most of the proceeds from this book to fund the Buzoland project, which will provide a real home for a few stray dogs. Being able to get the Buzoland project off the ground will mean much more to me than any accolades this book may or may not earn.

Who is your favourite character in this book and why? 

In its essence, SUPERBU Homecoming is the story of a flawed family. I care deeply about each character in that family. Homecoming is the first novella in the SUPERBU series and it focuses heavily on Bully a.k.a. Bu, who the novella is named after and Barnali, the lady of the family. Homecoming is as much Barnali’s story as it is Bully’s.

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else? 

I think I kind of answered this question earlier. I wanted to write a book to commemorate my dog, Buzo, who we lost a couple of years ago. This is, among other things, my attempt to do some good in her name.

How long did it take you to write this particular book? 

Homecoming is the first of three novellas in the SUPERBU series. The idea to write a book like this came to me a couple of years ago, conceptualization happened a year ago, the actual writing took a month, perhaps, and editing took another month and a half. I work with a few amazing beta readers in my network who really help me refine my work after the first draft is done. 

What are your writing ambitions? Are you working on any new projects presently? 

I think the goal is to transition into being a full-time writer but right now I just want as many people to read the stories of SUPERBU as possible. I have a few too many projects in the pipeline, to be honest. The immediate focus will be on two of them:

  • The next novella in the SUPERBU series – Becoming
  • And a novelette I have in the works called Government

Why have you chosen this genre? 

I find genres quite limiting. I tell people that I write urban fiction because it allows me to explore a variety of themes within an urban setting. I wrote SUPERBU because I love dogs and to commemorate my dog.

When did you decide to become a writer? 

When I was eight, and every couple of years after that. But I think I have been serious about it for the past couple of years. I like the idea of being an indie author. I feel that it liberates me to write about the things I want to write about and in the manner that I want to write about them. I truly believe that novellas and novelettes are the future of books and yet traditional publishers often push these formats to the sidelines. If we are to capture the imagination of a new generation of readers, we cannot expect them to spend days or even months reading one book. As an indie author, I can cater to that modern reader who is reading on electronic devices and hopping from one interest to another every couple of days.

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it? 

A lot of ideation without any actual writing for weeks, followed by panic and a few weeks of 3 or 4-hour writing sprints, and then editing like a madman. Personally, working with chapter outlines or scenes hasn’t really worked out for me. I like to write my stories in sequence. 

How do you prefer to write? On computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

I write on my laptop but I am getting more savvy with mobile word processors. In time and with the advent of superior technology, I won’t mind writing books on my cellphone.

Your 5 favourite books?

I love answering this question, thanks.

  1. The book that got me interested in reading as a kid was Moby Dick. 
  2. A favorite of mine in contemporary Indian literature – Ghachar Ghochar. 
  3. Third, I’d say Lord of the Rings. I’d recommend anyone to pick LOTR over Harry Potter books, if you had to choose. 
  4. Four, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender. Not many people have read this but it is such a fantastic, whimsical book.
  5. Lastly, The Story of My Experiments with Truth. I loved learning about a different side of Mahatma Gandhi.

If I may take the liberty of adding one more to the list, Maneaters of Kumaon by Jim Corbett is a blast of a read.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

By procrastinating until an idea hits me. 😊

No, but seriously, the answer is often care. If I care about a story, I am more likely to be able to write about it than if I don’t. I have realized that writer’s block often comes from an attempt to be inauthentic. I often found myself not being able to write something that I have not experienced in any way, shape, or form. Having had those experiences, I try to only tell stories that I can relate with on some level. Also, switching off for a bit of time helps – music, movies, a long drive, they all seem to work for me.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Getting your work published is easier than ever now. But that also means that competition is stiffer than ever, post publication. Take your time. Invest in professional editing. Know that writing is 20% of the work but the good news is, no one’s stopping you from acing the other 80% either. Persevere and you will succeed.

Thank you, Debarshi, for all your insightful answers!


About The Book

Superbu: Homecoming

This is not a children’s book or a fairy tale. This novella is not all about fun, or that fuzzy feeling you get from stories about dogs. It is a dramatic story of a family who brought home a dog. If you are looking for a book that’ll keep you continuously smiling through the antics of an adorable puppy, this is perhaps not the book for you.

So, now that you know what not to expect, let’s talk about what you can expect from this book. Have you or someone you know ever felt like something is missing in your life and getting a dog could help you fill a void? Did you, or an acquaintance of yours, end up actually getting that dog? Did you and your dog figure out how to navigate through life together?

This is the story of that dog, or a dog like that one. But more importantly, this is the story of that version of you, or that acquaintance of yours, who decided to act and bring home that dog, or of people like you who went through similar experiences in life.

You can find SuperBu: Homecoming here:

Amazon | Goodreads


To read more author interviews, click here.

If you are an author and wish to be interviewed or if you are a publicist and want to get your author interviewed on TRB, then please get in touch through direct e-mail: thereadingbud@gmail.com

Book Review: Twins Of Shadow by Abby Arthur

Author: Abby Arthur 
Release Date: 1st January 2020
Genre: High Fantasy, Novella
Series:
Format: E-book
Pages: 104
Publisher:
Blurb:
A crown prince and his twin brother are secretly skilled assassins…
…killing for a cause they both despise.
A crown prince and his twin brother are secretly skilled assassins…
…killing for a cause they both despise.

Bound to a dragon by a powerful spell, Tarrek and Albree are sent on their deadliest mission yet: Overcome an archangel, capture an innocent snake whisperer and smuggle him across foreign soil, alive. If they fail to comply with the spell’s demand, it will drive them to insanity. Yet a deadlier force commands their attention when an ice-wielding slave trader freezes several civilians in a local village, ensnaring Albree’s love interest in the process. Will the twins choose to complete their near-suicide mission or fight insanity to save innocent lives?

Book Review

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Twins Of Shadow by Abby Arthur is a fantasy novella about assassin twins. I was sold on the idea of the book as soon as saw the cover and read the sub-title as I am a big lover of assassins and the idea of twin brothers being that totally made me want to read it. And thankfully the book turned out to be good!

I appreciate the fact that it was a novella, which Is pretty rare for the genre where you get only these elaborate series. So you can get a taste fo the author’s writing in a comparatively short piece of work which was damn quick to read. Though obviously, it came with another set of problems – the world-building and the characterisation weren’t able to develop as well as they would have done in a full-length novel (there’s obviously a reason why fantasy books tend to be so long.) So it won’t be wrong to say that I really wished that the author would have explored the world further and given us some more character development making it a lengthier book, but well it is what it is.

Still, for a debut work, the book is pretty good, the writing decent, the characters were not overly relatable but I liked them enough to be happy to follow them on their journey and the plot was really good. So, given the length of the book, I’d definitely recommend it to all fantasy lovers.

Audiobook Review: Tattooist Of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

Author: Heather Morris 
Narrated by: Richard Armitage 
Release Date: 11th January 2018
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series:
Format: Audiobook
Pages: 8 hours
Publisher: Bolinda/Bonnier Audio
Blurb:
A tale based on interviews that were conducted with Holocaust survivor and Auschwitz-Birkenau tattooist Ludwig (Lale) Sokolov.

In April 1942, Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, is forcibly transported to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. When his captors discover that he speaks several languages, he is put to work as a Tätowierer (the German word for tattooist), tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners.

Imprisoned for over two and a half years, Lale witnesses horrific atrocities and barbarism—but also incredible acts of bravery and compassion. Risking his own life, he uses his privileged position to exchange jewels and money from murdered Jews for food to keep his fellow prisoners alive.

One day in July 1942, Lale, prisoner 32407, comforts a trembling young woman waiting in line to have the number 34902 tattooed onto her arm. Her name is Gita, and in that first encounter, Lale vows to somehow survive the camp and marry her. 

Book Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Tattooist Of Auschwitz by Heather Morris is the real-life story of Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, who was imprisoned in the infamous Auschwitz Concentration Camp during the holocaust. Although the story is mainly about how he met his wife, Gita, and fell in love with her, the details and the insights of the concentration camp were horrifying and agonisingly insightful. The horrors of the camp were told from a very neutral perspective and therefore gave the readers a chance to feel things on their own without clouding their judgement. And for me, that was the best part of the book.

The romantic part was not particularly appealing to me, but the rest of the story was pretty good. I really thought that the character of Gita wasn’t done enough justice in the book, especially considering how the book was actually written for her. Male ended up dominating the story far more and it felt like his tale alone.

Though I did like the epilogue by Lale and Gita’s son as it lent an air of eery realism tot he book. I’d definitely recommend it to all historical fiction lovers and to all holocaust enthusiasts.

“𝑰𝒇 𝒚𝒐𝒖 𝒘𝒂𝒌𝒆 𝒖𝒑 𝒊𝒏 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒎𝒐𝒓𝒏𝒊𝒏𝒈, 𝒊𝒕 𝒊𝒔 𝒂 𝒈𝒐𝒐𝒅 𝒅𝒂𝒚.”

H𝒆𝒂𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒓 𝑴𝒐𝒓𝒓𝒊𝒔

Cover Reveal: SuperBu: Homecoming by Debarshi Kanjilal

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author Debarshi Kanjilal, for the cover reveal of his upcoming book SuperBu: Homecoming.

Presenting the beautiful cover of SuperBu: Homecoming by Debarshi Kanjilal

This is not a children’s book or a fairy tale. This novella is not all about fun, or that fuzzy feeling you get from stories about dogs. It is a dramatic story of a family who brought home a dog. If you are looking for a book that’ll keep you continuously smiling through the antics of an adorable puppy, this is perhaps not the book for you.

So, now that you know what not to expect, let’s talk about what you can expect from this book. Have you or someone you know ever felt like something is missing in your life and getting a dog could help you fill a void? Did you, or an acquaintance of yours, end up actually getting that dog? Did you and your dog figure out how to navigate through life together?

This is the story of that dog, or a dog like that one. But more importantly, this is the story of that version of you, or that acquaintance of yours, who decided to act and bring home that dog, or of people like you who went through similar experiences in life.

You can find SuperBu: Homecoming here:

Amazon | Goodreads


About The Author

Debarshi Kanjilal

Debarshi Kanjilal (DK) is an urban fiction writer based out of Bangalore, India. His debut novella, Based on Lies, was touted as a gripping psychological thriller by several reputable reviewers.

His latest novella, SuperBu: Homecoming is an emotional journey of a family and their dog. Debarshi ran the ‘God of Absurdity’ blog from 2012 to 2015, which published humorous anecdotes and reflection pieces.

He is also an accomplished learning experience design professional who has helped shape adult learning strategy for some of the most well-known organizations globally.

Author Website  | Amazon | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at  thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Abby Arthur

Welcome to the TRB Lounge, the part of TRB that helps authors and publishers promote their titles.

Today, we are featuring Abby Arthur, author of Twins of Shadow, for our Author Interview feature.

About The Author

Abby Arthur

Abby Arthur writes young adult fantasy in a fascinating modern world full of magic and adventure that lingers even after the last page. With over 20 years of writing experience, she loves giving readers an escape from reality and is constantly creating new stories. Her magic portal is located in small town Iowa, protected by herself, her husband, and their son. Her first book is Twins of Shadow.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

Website | Twitter  | Instagram | Pinterest | Facebook | YouTube | Goodreads



The Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

Hi beautiful readers! I’m Abby Arthur, a young adult fantasy author. I strive to take you on an adventure in a magical land you can never forget with characters and experiences that linger even after the last page. 

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

TWINS OF SHADOW is the first book I’ve published in a world of magic that’s been living inside me since I was 8 years old. Tarrek and Albree (the twins and the narrators) are some of the first characters I created. They have been with me for almost twenty years. The twins have, therefore, woven themselves into many more books to come. 

Who is your favourite character in this book and why? 

My first reaction: Albree! Because he’s tall, dark, and handsome … (Wait, so is Tarrek. They’re identical!) 

My second reaction: Ok, let’s be serious now … Looking back. Tarrek used to be my favorite (When I was, like, 12) because he was so sensible. However, a friend of mine mentioned how she loved Albree and his “bad-boyness”. She said he had more depth to him because of his rebellious behavior, and something inside me just agreed with her. He’s been my favorite ever since. 

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else? 

I was inspired to write TWINS OF SHADOW for a few reasons:

  1. I wanted people to start falling in love with the characters I’ve lived with for years. 
  2. Books can break through all kinds of barriers. Books reach across the world, helping people connect with each other. (I think of LORD OF THE RINGS and HARRY POTTER when I say this.)
  3. I dream of creating a reason for people to connect, to form a fantasy loving family around the books I write. TWINS OF SHADOW is my first step towards that goal.  

How long did it take you to write this particular book? 

A week. 

I was on fire. The story idea rushed me like a raging river and sucked me under time and time again. I would lay down for bed and jump back up to write more. Then I’d wake up early and start at it again. I wrote around 5,000 words a day. 

What are your writing ambitions? Are you working on any new projects presently? 

My ambitions are to write until my soul is called home. Stories run thicker than blood in my veins. I’m addicted to writing and can’t imagine life without it.

I’m always working on new projects. I want to see my books spread across the world in multiple languages so the fantasy family can grow. 

Just in the last 6 months, I’ve written 3 novels and finished a short story collection. (It’s faster to write than publish :)) All of the stories I’ve finished take place in the same world as TWINS OF SHADOW, and in many of the stories I completed, the twins make multiple appearances. 

One of the novels I wrote is told by Sheva, Tarrek and Albree’s crazy younger sister. (She makes an appearance in the second half of TWINS OF SHADOW.) Her novel shows us why she’s crazy (and freakishly powerful). It also follows what she was up to while the twins were on their mission in ToS. Sheva’s story also has a mysterious heart throb and his rival, Albree’s best friend. 

Why have you chosen this genre? 

I first chose fantasy as a child around the time HARRY POTTER came out. I’ve never read the books myself. (Dramatic gasp). My parents were a part of the “Anti-Harry Potter fan club” when I was young. But I watched the movies at a friend’s house—the most rebellious thing I ever did, I promise.

That said, the book that got me into fantasy was SHADOWMANCER by G.P. Taylor. Followed by the LORD OF THE RINGS movies. 

My books were originally inspired by Tolkien’s world and featured a 13-year-old boy as the star. (I was 8 and 13 seemed like such an old age to me!) My characters grew up with me, gained technology, and eventually got stuck in their teens. What a way to be, right? 

When did you decide to become a writer? 

When I was 8 and my sister read young adult books to me at night. I thought the stories were awesome and just thought, I can do that! So I started writing, and I’ve never stopped.

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it? 

I get to my computer, open my current story, and set to it. 

My writing time has changed over the years as I’ve grown up, moved around, and gained my own family. I now tend to wake up at 5:30 AM to write for a few hours before everyone else is up. My son takes a nap at 9, and I write again. 

I go to work at 12pm and get off at 5pm, so if my husband is home at night, I write some more. I’m obsessed, and my husband feeds the obsession by reading what I write. He’s always up to speed on my character’s lives.

If my husband isn’t home at night, I read books and watch TV shows to feed the stories inside me.

I also always have a notebook with me to brainstorm ideas on the go and during downtime at work. 

Making time to keep my body healthy is crucial as well. If my body isn’t in good health, my writing lags. Therefore, I always tend to do something physical in the 8’oclock hour. Yoga has been my go-to for months! My exact writing formula is to break my stories into 4 parts, brainstorm the overall goals of the book, then write all my scenes in order. I can go on, but I explain more on my writing style in my YouTube videos. The one titled “Short Story Writing Tips for Fantasy| 4 EASY STEPS” is actually the formula I use for everything I write, not just short stories.

How do you prefer to write? On computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

Computer!

I tried a pen and paper when I was 16. My hand cramped so bad! And I still had to move what I wrote to a computer… I ain’t got time for that!

Your 5 favourite books?

Number one is easy. Cassandra Clare is my idol! So of course CITY OF BONES is number one. Sabaa Tahir has a way of making me shake to the core with her un-conventional plot twists, so her AN EMBER IN THE ASHES is number two. THRONE OF GLASS was just so good, and though I’m not in love with every Sarah J. Maas story, I LOVED that one. Four is the POISON EATERS AND OTHER STORIES by Holly Black, because her short story, COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN, is burned to my mind! The fifth is harder to choose, because there’s a lot of good books I’ve read… but right now I’d say KISS OF DECEPTION by Mary E. Pearson.

  1. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare. 
  2. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
  3. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
  4. The Poison Eaters and Other Stories by Holly Black
  5. Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

Ooo, the notorious question! There’s not too often I run into writers block these days, as the muscles in my mind related to book stuff seem to be on overdrive! BUT, in the last year I remember one moment where I stood before the computer unsure as what to write, like my inner writer fell asleep! (How dare she!)

After about a minute of contemplating the little curser blinking at me, I took a step back, grabbed a notebook and pen, and implemented something I learned from the author of WRITING BETTER LYRICS, Pat Pattison. 

Shameless plug* 

WRITING BETTER LYRICS is about the craft of writing itself as much as it is about writing songs. It is the single book I credit to GREATLY improving my writing style, so I highly recommend it!

Anyway… Pat teaches something called Object Writing, where you pick one thing to write about (a phone, paper, etc) and ramble about it. However, the rambles are to use all your senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste). This naturally causes me to write with metaphors and similes. I do this exercise quite often (for about 5-10 minutes) in the mornings before I write. It has turned out to be an INSTANT writer’s block conqueror for me.

So that one day when writer’s block thought it could claim me, it was instantly conquered by a 5 minute Object Writing session. My inner writer woke up and my story came rushing to me. The blank page disappeared, and I had 1000 words to show for it!

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Read books in your genera. Read a lot! But also read how-to-write books from people who’ve gone before you. It will accelerate your writing skills and make your books better faster. 

If writing is your dream, and all you can think about is being a writer, you can do it! You will learn to brush off rejection, improve your skills, and never give up. Because you can’t ever give up, even when your fingers cramp from writing 5000 words for three days straight, and you’re rejected too many times to count. 

As in the words of Lisa Nichols, “Quitters never win, and winners never quit.” 

Thank you for sharing your time with me!

-Abby Arthur

Thank you, Abby, for all your enthusiastic and insightful answers! I personally love doing prompt-writing too and object writing sounds fun! Will definitely give it a try.


About The Book

Twins Of Shadow

A crown prince and his twin brother are secretly skilled assassins…

…killing for a cause they both despise.

A crown prince and his twin brother are secretly skilled assassins…

…killing for a cause they both despise.

Bound to a dragon by a powerful spell, Tarrek and Albree are sent on their deadliest mission yet: Overcome an archangel, capture an innocent snake whisperer and smuggle him across foreign soil, alive. If they fail to comply with the spell’s demand, it will drive them to insanity. Yet a deadlier force commands their attention when an ice-wielding slave trader freezes several civilians in a local village, ensnaring Albree’s love interest in the process. Will the twins choose to complete their near-suicide mission or fight insanity to save innocent lives?

All eBook formats Free at https://abbyarthur.com/
Get the physical copy here: Amazon



To read more author interviews, click here.

If you are an author and wish to be interviewed or if you are a publicist and want to get your author interviewed on TRB, then please get in touch through direct e-mail: thereadingbud@gmail.com

Book Review: The Conviction: Enacting Vigilante Justice by John Mathews

Author: John Mathews
Release Date: 25th January 2015
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Series:
Format: E-book 
Pages: 72 pages
Publisher: DSP Publications
Blurb:
Two criminals are responsible for an innocent man getting sentenced to life for murder. An inept defense attorney and a crooked prosecutor are the other players in this case of egregious American corruption. 
The four of them have been lured into a trap in an abandoned warehouse. Someone wants vengeance. This is a story of vigilante justice for the wrongfully convicted. Marked doors lead to four locked rooms, one where each of them will have to pay a price for what they have done. What will they be required to do in order to survive? 
This riveting crime thriller puts the American justice system in public view and will keep you guessing until the very last scene. A dark masked figure watches…waits…and wants revenge.

Book Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Conviction: Enacting Vigilante Justice by John Mathews is a surprisingly amazing read! I usually don’t expect much from a novella unless of course it is written by authors like Stephen King, but this book turned out to be an absolute delight.

This novella is jam-packed with high tension scenes, mind-boggling manipulative games, fast-paced action and clever twists and turns – all this in just 72 pages! And for me that itself was the best part. This book was an intense yet quick read and kept me on the edge the entire time.

This book was able to accomplish what a lot of lengthy mystery and thriller novels fail to achieve and so I would definitely recommend this book to all thriller lovers.

You can also read this review on Goodreads & Amazon

Guest Post: The Power of Metaphors and Similes by Abby Arthur PLUS A Mega 17 YA Fantasy Book Giveaway

Today, at TRB Lounge, we are hosting Abby Arthur, YA Fantasy author of TWINS OF SHADOW, to share some insights into her process of writing.

Note: Details on the giveaway running for the month of August 2020 are at the end of the post*

The Power of Metaphors and Similes

Ever read a book that sucks you in, describing the setting like a whirlwind of mystery wrapped in the snuggly arms of a wild grizzly bear? 

Or have you found yourself so deep in the thick of a battle scene, you could feel the blood gush from your own arm?

I have experienced this, my friend. And I’ve come to analyze these stories to understand why I was so captivated. 

To give you real-life examples of stories that have sucked me in, there are:

  • CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE by Tomi Adeyemi 
  • SORCERY OF THORNS by Margret Rogerson.

From the very start, the books above use words that paint pictures, pictures that make you feel what the character is feeling.

To do this, the authors use METAPHORS and SIMILES.

What is a Metaphor? 

According to author Pat Pattison in his amazing book, WRITING BETTER LYRICS: 

“In its most basic form, a metaphor is a collision between ideas that don’t belong together.”

Here’s an example: The princess is a delicate lily.

With using a metaphor to describe the character, you can’t see the princess without seeing a delicate lily, and therefore, you instantly know the princess is beautiful and fragile. 

Try this: The princess is a vicious wolf.

In this example, you don’t think of a flower or fragileness. You see a powerful woman with strength, determination, and a dangerous drive to survive. 

What is a Simile?

A simile is a lot like a metaphor, but it differentiates by the connecting word “like” or “as”. A metaphor says the subject IS the descriptor (the princess IS a delicate lily). But a simile merely compares the two (the princess is LIKE a delicate lily). 

I’ve noticed more similes in stories than direct metaphors. Both are beautiful, but I feel saying “the princess IS a vicious wolf” has a more substantial impact on the story verses she is LIKE a vicious wolf. The “IS” transforms her before your very eyes. Don’t you agree?

So How Do You Make Great Metaphors and Similes?

Practice. Take 5-10 minutes a day before you start writing your stories and create metaphors and similes. You can describe your characters, your settings, your cup of coffee, your dinner, your dog… 

The more you practice, the faster your brain will be able to call upon them when you’re writing. 

I promise, it works! 

Try the practice exercise for 7 consecutive days and you will be AMAZED at your progress in such a short time!

Implement Metaphors and Similes in Your Story

When you write, start to watch for moments you can implement a metaphor or simile. 

Just knowing to keep your eyes open will bring forth the opportunity to add them. 

For example, maybe you’re writing something like, “The princess was tall and thin.” Now that you know to watch for a chance to insert a metaphor or simile, you will realize you can say instead, “She was tall and thin, a towering tree overlooking the kingdom like a noble guard.” 

The more you implement metaphors and similes, the more your story will come to life and transport your readers into your magical world (fantasy or not)!

The Major 17 YA Fantasy Book Giveaway

Now for the moment you’ve been waiting for!

For the month of August 2020, Abby Arthur is giving away a total of 17 YA Fantasy novels and a new eReader from Amazon – the Kindle Fire 7, over the course of the next 4 weeks.

YOU GET 4 CHANCES TO WIN A PRIZE!

The details are as follows, and the link to enter is here: https://abbyarthur.com/giveaways/august2020  

Upon entry, every contestant will also receive a FREE eCopy of Abby’s book, TWINS OF SHADOW.

On August 7

Abby is drawing a winner for the current books in Sabaa Tahir’s AN EMBER IN THE ASHES series, which includes:

  • AN EMBER IN THE ASHES
  • A TORCH AGAINST THE NIGHT
  • A REAPER AT THE GATES

These will be HARDCOVER COPIES! With a total value of $60 US Dollars.

On August 14th

Abby is drawing a winner for 3 books from New York Times Best Selling Authors.

  • CHAINS OF GOLD by Cassandra Clare
  • A BALLAD OF SONGBIRDS AND SNAKES by Suzanne Collins
  • HOUSE OF EARTH AND BLOOD by Sarah J Maas

These will be HARDCOVER COPIES! With a total value of $80 US Dollars.

On August 16th
I’m drawing a mid-giveaway bonus winner for Starr Z. Davies’ YA Dystopian duology: ORDINARY. 

  • ORDINARY
  • UNIQUE

These will be AUTOGRAPHED TRADE PAPERBACKS! With a total value of $25 US Dollars. 

On August 21st

Abby is drawing a winner for Holly Black’s series: FOLK OF THE AIR.

  • THE CRUEL PRINCE
  • THE WICKED KING
  • THE QUEEN OF NOTHING

These will be HARDCOVER COPIES! With a total value of $80 US Dollars.

On August 28th

Abby is giving away the grand prize, which includes the eReader and 8 eBooks at a $150 value:

Kindle Fire 7

  • 1 A SONG OF WRATHS AND RUIN by Roseanne A Brown
  • 2 THE KINGDOM OF BACK by Marie Lu
  • 3 WICKED SAINTS by Emily A. Duncan
  • 4 THE GUINEVERE DECEPTION by Kiersten White
  • 5 CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE by Tomi Adeyemi
  • 6 THE CURSED CHILD by J.K Rowling
  • 7 SIX OF CROWS by Leigh Bardugo
  • 8 SORCERY OF THORNS by Margaret Rogerson

Enter NOW for your chance to WIN!

Click here => https://abbyarthur.com/giveaways/august2020

Here’s how to enter:

  1. Go to the link above
  2. Enter your email address
  3. Follow Abby on her social platforms (Gives you 50X more chances to win!)
  4. Share your lucky URL (extra 20X chances to win per friend to enter)

Good Luck, my friend!

About the author:

Abby Arthur

Abby Arthur writes young adult fantasy in a fascinating modern world full of magic and adventure that lingers even after the last page. With over 20 years of writing experience, she loves giving readers an escape from reality and is constantly creating new stories. Her magic portal is located in small town Iowa, protected by herself, her husband, and their son. Her first book is Twins of Shadow.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

Website | Twitter  | Instagram | Pinterest | Facebook | YouTube | Goodreads


ABOUT THE BOOK:

Twins Of Shadow

A crown prince and his twin brother are secretly skilled assassins…

…killing for a cause they both despise.

A crown prince and his twin brother are secretly skilled assassins…

…killing for a cause they both despise.

Bound to a dragon by a powerful spell, Tarrek and Albree are sent on their deadliest mission yet: Overcome an archangel, capture an innocent snake whisperer and smuggle him across foreign soil, alive. If they fail to comply with the spell’s demand, it will drive them to insanity. Yet a deadlier force commands their attention when an ice-wielding slave trader freezes several civilians in a local village, ensnaring Albree’s love interest in the process. Will the twins choose to complete their near-suicide mission or fight insanity to save innocent lives?

All eBook formats Free at https://abbyarthur.com/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Twins-Shadow-Abby-Arthur/dp/1712078585/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=


If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author’s guest post on TRB, then please get in touch through email at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Book Review: The Stark Divide (Liminal Sky #1) by J. Scott Coatsworth

Author: J. Scott Coatsworth 
Release Date: 10th October 2017
Genre: Science-Fiction Fantasy, LGBTQ
Series: Liminal Sky (Book #1)
Format: E-book 
Pages: 284 pages
Publisher: DSP Publications
Blurb:
Some stories are epic.
The Earth is in a state of collapse, with wars breaking out over resources and an environment pushed to the edge by human greed.
Three living generation ships have been built with a combination of genetic mastery, artificial intelligence, technology, and raw materials harvested from the asteroid belt. This is the story of one of them—43 Ariadne, or Forever, as her inhabitants call her—a living world that carries the remaining hopes of humanity, and the three generations of scientists, engineers, and explorers working to colonize her.

From her humble beginnings as a seedling saved from disaster to the start of her journey across the void of space toward a new home for the human race, The Stark Divide tells the tales of the world, the people who made her, and the few who will become something altogether beyond human.

Humankind has just taken its first step toward the stars.

Book Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Stark Divide by J. Scott Coatsworth is a dynamic beginning to a new sci-fi fantasy series Liminal Sky that turned out to be equal parts entertaining and equal parts adventure. I was pulled into the story right from the beginning and was blown away by the fantastic world the author has created. This proved to be an unputdownable book with great pacing and tension. I am really looking forward to reading the next part of this amazing series.

Along with the main story, I also enjoyed the side plots just as much. The characters were really likeable, the story was good, the narration felt good and made the book a fast read and the flow of the story was amazing! I’d recommend this book to all sci-fi lovers, especially to those who like reading about LGBTQ side-themes.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: First Gear (Sadie Hawkins Mystery #1) by Patricia C. Lee

Author: Patricia C. Lee 
Release Date: 4th August 2020
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Mystery, Detective Fiction
Series:
Format: E-book 
Pages: 374 pages
Publisher: 
Blurb:
Recently divorced, petite and feisty Texan, Sadie Hawkins, struggles to get her newly established logistics business off the ground. When the opportunity to haul antiquities, including a mummy, drops into her lap, she jumps at the chance, despite the tight timeline. But when her cargo gets stolen and a fresh corpse mysteriously replaces the mummy, Sadie is arrested for theft and suspicion of murder.

Out on recognizance thanks to her lawyer ex-husband, and not willing to watch her business sink farther in debt while the police search for clues, Sadie yanks up her Dan Post boots and does some investigative work on her own. Stymied by her lack of success, she reluctantly enlists a few members with specific skills from Streetsmart, an organization made up of rehabilitated young adult offenders and managed by her best friend Tanya.

While trying to maintain her business from going under and making sure Tanya never learns of her collaboration with Streetsmart, Sadie endeavors to uncover the truth, the whole time wondering if this crime is some form of retribution to an event in her past. However, when she is framed for the real thief’s murder, it appears not even her accomplices in Streetsmart will be able to save her now.

Book Review

Rating: 3 out of 5.

First Gear by Patricia C. Lee is a start to a new detective fiction series that revolves around the female protagonist, Sadie Hawkins.

I’m generally not a huge fan of detective fiction genre, but I like a good detective mystery and given that this was the first book in the series, I had no inhibitions to dive right in. The story was good, the characterisation was okay – the characters were likeable, though not overly relatable, the narration was decent and the ending was good.

The best thing about this book was that it was a surprisingly quick read, which says a lot about the writing style of the author.

Knowing that first book in any series is generally meant to set things up for the next books, I’m willing to cut this one some slack and recommend it to mystery lovers, especially those who like reading detective fiction.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: The Big Book of Teeny Tiny Stories by Skyler Hammond

Author: Skyler Hammond
Release Date: 3rd June 2020
Genre: Short Story Collection,
Series:
Format: E-book 
Pages: 175
Publisher: 
Blurb: 
Skyler Hammond presents his illustrated collection of the much loved Teeny Tiny series. This book contains over 15 international artists and more than 175 pages of Teeny Tiny Stories, each with their own unique piece of art. In a busy world, sometimes the best way to satisfy our narrative needs is with bite sized chronicles containing whole worlds of their own.

From 11 to 88 years old, and aspiring creatives to those who have illustrated for New York Times bestsellers, this book is filled with international artists of every style. All tell Teeny Tiny Stories in their own way. Inside these covers you will find a big wide world of bite sized fictions, every one of them accompanied by artwork. From drama to fantasy, and romance to sci-fi, this illustrated collection tells tales of love, space, robots and humankind. It is, simply put, a Big Book of Teeny Tiny Stories.

Book Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

If I have to describe this book in two words the I’d say that is – ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!!

OMG, I was not expecting that! I receive so many books for reviewing that somewhere along the line I know kind-of what to expect from a certain book, and therefore I like to keep my expectations in check so as not to get disappointed later. But my, what a BOMB this book turned out to be!

This book is full of very short tales, some were even tiny lyrical tales, and each and every single one of them was GOOD. I mean they packed a punch! I enjoyed each and every one of them and re-read most of them a couple of times just to savour them completely.

I am a sucker for beautiful illustrations and the ones in this book are so good that you’d want to cut them out (or print them in colour – if you’re reading the e-book version) and paste them on your bedroom walls. Some of the graphics were so cool that it made the stories all the better!

This book is like a tasty treat and even though it might not entirely be appropriate for kids, I’d still urge to get it as you can always skip a story or two while reading it to them. Though, I’m sure you’d first want to enjoy this amazing piece fo art yourself as it is a treat not only for the mind but also for the eyes. I recommend this amazing short story collection to everyone.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: The Shimmering: Dark Descent by A. K. Crook

Author: A. K. Crook
Release Date: 4th July 2020
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Contemporary Romance, Visionary Fiction
Series:
Format: E-book 
Pages: 104
Publisher: 
Blurb: A visionary fantasy about a young woman who stumbles upon the world of her creators, only to discover she holds the key that will open the doorway to return home… and set the forces of evil free.
In the city of Saint Anthony, there is a realm of existence unknown to most mortals. Far below this urban landscape, in the cavernous bowels of the Underworld, Sinda journeys to discover fantastical lands, strange cultures — and herself. 
When she is snatched from her homeland and thrust into the civilized world of humans, she comes face-to-face with the hardest quest she has ever encountered – find her way home or follow her heart. 

Is the choice even hers?

The clock is counting down for Sinda, but time is not her only adversary — Nefarious beings seek her for their own devious designs, the Elders want to exploit her in a power play over their rivals and the godlike Solari’i hold her fate in their hands. 

With each turn she takes, Sinda draws closer to her destiny — and the salvation of the entire Underworld.

Book Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Shimmering: Dark Descent by A. K. Crook is a very refreshing take on the urban fantasy genre with elements of high fantasy, amazing supernatural beings, underlined by visionary and psychological themes and a sub-plot of romance, lightly touching on the LGBTQ subject – this book has everything a book lover can ask for and more!

Wow, I was not expecting this book to be this awesome! I loved the cover and was intrigued by the blurb as it promised a lot, but I am always sceptical whenever the blurb is extremely promising because many times authors overstate while working on the blurbs and it is very disappointing to then read a book and find out it was nowhere close. But this book was one of those rare cases where it delivered what was promised! And even some more, which made it a pleasant surprise for me.

I love reading urban fantasies as I like the concept of our world co-existing with another one and this book was a real treat as it had good characterisation, sensible theories that were not unrealistically far-fetched, awesome beings and creatures and their insatiable lust for power and related motives. This book was full of conflicts and I enjoyed reading it a LOT!

To top it all of, the book was written well and the concepts were executed conscientiously making the prose flow smoothly. And I would definitely recommend this book, the author’s debut, to all fantasy lovers.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: The Billionaire’s Secret by Ravina Hillard

Author: Ravina Hilliard
Release Date: 22nd May 2020
Genre: Romantic-thriller
Series:
Format: E-book 
Pages: 170
Publisher: Dawn Hill Publications
Blurb: Serena Aisling has made it to the top as a high-powered executive all on her own merit. No thanks to her millionaire father who’d abandoned her at birth to be raised single-handedly by her mother. She has come a long way, so she’ll be damned if she allows him to have a hand in her career by dangling the CEO position of the Mäkelä Group in her face.

When Serena’s company coincidentally assigns her to spearhead a revolutionizing project run by the same corporation, she ends up working alongside the innovator himself—tech guru, Matias Mäkelä. The savvy, self-made millionaire is moody, ill-tempered, arrogant, and a giant thorn in her side, yet she can’t deny that he’s irresistibly handsome and stunningly
delicious.
A malicious traitor very close to Matias is divulging company secrets, and they must work together to uncover and shut them down before it’s too late.
When Serena uncovers the culprit, fearing Matias will not believe her, she keeps the discovery to herself and acts on her own, landing herself in hot waters with Matias. Waters so hot and flaming that she ends up tangled in his sheets, intoxicated with a desire that threatens to engulf her in an uncontrollable fireball of ecstatic delights.
As untold discoveries, secrets, and schemes unravel, Serena and Matias find themselves on a wild and unending tide of colliding together before being ripped apart again.
Will their feelings for each other be enough to survive the diabolical intrigue that threatens their very lives? Or will they crash and burn?

Book Review

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The Billionaire’s Secret by Ravina Hillard is a contemporary romance thriller with good action, nice plot and some decent steamy bits.

Lately, I’ve been exploring the romance genre a bit, aside from my usual gothic dark reads and the contrast is refreshing to me as a reader as well as a writer. This book had good writing and that was the main reason I was drawn to it. The plot is a bit full of cliches and common tropes of the genre, but as I always say, when done well, even the common tropes become interesting.

I liked the cast of characters in this book. I rooted for both, Serena as well as Matias, and was glad that I read this book. I’d definitely recommend it to romance readers and to those people who like to read lighter thrillers.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

Audiobook Review: Those People by Louise Candlish

Author: by Louise Candlish
NarratorKatharine McEwanJonathan CowleyJayne EntwistleAndrew FallaisePaul FoxBillie JD PorterMoira Quirk
Release Date: 11th June 2019
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense
Series:
Format: Audiobook
Length: 24 hrs and 32 minutes
Publisher: Penguine Audio 
Blurb:
From the internationally bestselling author of Our House, a new addictive novel of domestic suspense that dives into the world of suburban neighborhood drama and asks, “Could your neighbor make you angry enough to kill?”

Lowland Way is the epitome of the suburban dream. Every house and yard is carefully maintained for maximum curb appeal, and everyone knows one another and gets along. One homeowner, Sissy Watkins, runs a successful B and B from her house. Two brothers and their families live next door to each other. It’s the picture-perfect neighborhood.
When Darren Booth and his girlfriend, Jodie, move in across from Sissy, it doesn’t take long for them to begin making trouble. They’re loud, rude, messy, and don’t play by the community rules. They blast music at all hours and have started an unsightly renovation on their house. Before long, guests don’t want to stay at Sissy’s B and B, and everyone is fed up with the new neighbors.
An all-out war is brewing on Lowland Way. When a person is killed, accusations start flying. Someone is dead, and everyone has something to hide….

Book Review

Rating: 3 out of 5.

This book was a legit BOMB
that…
is…
until…
the…. 
………. END!

I mean WTF happened there???

I had to read the last 3-4 chapters THRICE to be sure that I listened to it correctly and didn’t actually miss out a chapter or two!!!

The book just ended abruptly! The saddest part is that is was such a delicious and sensational story right until the last third of the book and then god knows what happened!

I am so effing disappointed!! 😦

You can also read this review on Goodreads

Book Review: The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

Author: Riley Sager 
Release Date: 3rd July 2018
Genre: Dark Fiction, Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Mystery
Series:
Format: E-book 
Pages: 384
Publisher: Dutton Books 
Blurb:
Two Truths and a Lie. The girls played it all the time in their tiny cabin at Camp Nightingale. Vivian, Natalie, Allison, and first-time camper Emma Davis, the youngest of the group. The games ended when Emma sleepily watched the others sneak out of the cabin in the dead of night. The last she—or anyone—saw of them was Vivian closing the cabin door behind her, hushing Emma with a finger pressed to her lips.

Now a rising star in the New York art scene, Emma turns her past into paintings—massive canvases filled with dark leaves and gnarled branches that cover ghostly shapes in white dresses. The paintings catch the attention of Francesca Harris-White, the socialite and wealthy owner of Camp Nightingale. When Francesca implores her to return to the newly reopened camp as a painting instructor, Emma sees an opportunity to try to find out what really happened to her friends.

Yet it’s immediately clear that all is not right at Camp Nightingale. Already haunted by memories from fifteen years ago, Emma discovers a security camera pointed directly at her cabin, mounting mistrust from Francesca and, most disturbing of all, cryptic clues Vivian left behind about the camp’s twisted origins. As she digs deeper, Emma finds herself sorting through lies from the past while facing threats from both man and nature in the present.

And the closer she gets to the truth about Camp Nightingale, the more she realizes it may come at a deadly price. 

Book Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This is my 2nd book by Riley Sager. I can imagine why my big expectations weren’t met by this book – because I read the 3rd book by him before this one and now reading a previous work feels like reading a weaker book so I only ended up liking this book. It was a great read though, entertaining for sure and fast-paced. I enjoyed the entire bit about camping as I’ve never been to a camp so it was a welcome side-plot.

I think I am only disappointed with the ending – I was hoping for a scandalous reveal or bomb-shell climax (which I was blind-sided by in Lock Every Door.) That was what was missing in this book. The entire thing about the asylum was really, really good and by that point, I was sure that the author is going to pull out something big in the end, but sadly it was an okay-ish ending. I’m sure a lot of people will love the ending as it was good from a thriller book’s perspective, but I guess in my case the author penned the 3rd book so well the 2nd one seems a bit bland in front of it. So I am not sure now if I should read Final Girls, their first book. Though I am sure as hell going to be reading the next one by Sager as I’m sure it is going to be good!

If you haven’t read anything by Riley Sager yet, then follow the chronological order of the books. That way you can enjoy the building momentum in each book and will be blown away by their awesomeness individually rather than comparing their best work to the previous ones.

You can also read this review on Goodreads

Audiobook Review: Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky

Author: Stephen Chbosky
NarratorChristine Lakin
Release Date: 1st October 2019
Genre: Supernatural, Horror, Thriller, Dark Fiction
Series:
Format: Audiobook
Length: 24 hrs and 32 minutes
Publisher: Hachette Audio 
Blurb:
Imagine… Leaving your house in the middle of the night. Knowing your mother is doing her best, but she’s just as scared as you.

Imagine… Starting a new school, making friends. Seeing how happy it makes your mother. Hearing a voice, calling out to you.
Imagine… Following the signs, into the woods. Going missing for six days. Remembering nothing about what happened.
Imagine… Something that will change everything… And having to save everyone you love.

Book Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I started out reading this book with this big paperback copy that I had received as one of the books on my birthday. But as I started reading and progressed, I realised it was straining my back to hold this book up and read (I had spine surgery in Feb 2020 due to spine degeneration.) I tried to read it while laying down, but it simply didn’t work as is the case with bulky physical books, so I had to abandon the book reluctantly… that is, until I got my hands on the audiobook! And then what a fun ride it was! Although it was a long, long book – 24 hours and 35 minutes, it was a real treat!

This book is super amazing, for the most part. It had everything I generally crave in a good dark supernatural thriller. The characterisation was brilliant, as was obviously expected from Mr Stephen Chbosky, whose first book I absolutely fell in love with – The Perks Of Being A Wallflower. 
The story was great, the concept although seen before felt fresh and unique and the plot well thought out. This book was everything I had expected and a lot more.

The twists were good, but I did see the main one coming. I think the author’s pacing lacked there and therefore he revealed the twist a couple of pages before it should have been revealed. There was a fair bit of wandering but it was mostly good so I enjoyed reading it.

The only thing I didn’t like was the whole Jesus angle. I mean, it seriously came out of nowhere. Or maybe not, but I guess I just wasn’t expecting it. I mean what the hell was that even about – Eve voluntarily staying in hell to keep the devil in check?! That was way too cringe-worthy and too spiritual for my taste. Apart from that, there was only the issue of repetition where I was going insane and wanted to shout at the author to move on already! I mean how many times do we need a reminder about David and the baseball glove smell. 

BUT, the narration, guys! IT WAS SPECTACULAR!! The narrator’s dramatic reading made me jump out of my skin when the first couple of times she said CHRIS….TO….PppppHER….. HZZZZZZZZZZ… I mean it was totally insane! And then there was the part where she cried like a baby… that was way too creepy than anything I’ve ever heard! Hats off to Christine Lakin. 

THIS IS HOW YOU NARRATE AN AUDIOBOOK!!!

Overall, I’d say that I’d recommend the audiobook over all the other formats and that is only because of Christine Lakin’s narration.

You can also read this review on Goodreads

Audiobook Review: If It Bleeds by Stephen King

Author: Stephen King
Narrator: Will Patton, Danny Burstein and Steven Weber
Release Date: 21st April 2020
Genre: Short Stories, Horror, Thriller, Dark Fiction
Series:
Format: Audiobook
Length: 15 hrs and 12 minutes
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio 
Blurb:
If it Bleeds is a collection of four new novellas —Mr. Harrigan’s Phone, The Life of Chuck, Rat, and the title story If It Bleeds— each pulling readers into intriguing and frightening places.

A collection of four uniquely wonderful long stories, including a stand-alone sequel to The Outsider.
News people have a saying: ‘If it bleeds, it leads’. And a bomb at Albert Macready Middle School is guaranteed to lead any bulletin.
Holly Gibney of the Finders Keepers detective agency is working on the case of a missing dog – and on her own need to be more assertive – when she sees the footage on TV. But when she tunes in again, to the late-night report, she realizes there is something not quite right about the correspondent who was first on the scene. So begins ‘If It Bleeds’ , a stand-alone sequel to The Outsider featuring the incomparable Holly on her first solo case.
Dancing alongside are three more long stories – ‘Mr Harrigan’s Phone’, ‘The Life of Chuck’ and ‘Rat’.
The novella is a form King has returned to over and over again in the course of his amazing career, and many have been made into iconic films, If It Bleeds is a uniquely satisfying collection of longer short fiction by an incomparably gifted writer.

Book Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

If It Bleeds by Stephen King is a brilliant read!

You can also read this review on Goodreads

Book Review: The Sweeny Sisters by Lian Dolan

Author: Lian Dolan 
Release Date: 28th April 2020
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Family & Relationships
Series:
Format: E-book 
Pages: 304
Publisher: William Morrow 
Blurb:
Angels…
Death Stalkers…
ReaAn accomplished storyteller returns with her biggest, boldest, most entertaining novel yet—a hilarious, heartfelt story about books, love, sisterhood, and the surprises we discover in our DNA that combines the wit of Jonathan Tropper with the heart of Susan Wiggs.
Maggie, Eliza, and Tricia Sweeney grew up as a happy threesome in the idyllic seaside town of Southport, Connecticut. But their mother’s death from cancer fifteen years ago tarnished their golden-hued memories, and the sisters drifted apart.

Their one touchstone is their father, Bill Sweeney, an internationally famous literary lion and college professor universally adored by critics, publishers, and book lovers. When Bill dies unexpectedly one cool June night, his shell-shocked daughters return to their childhood home. They aren’t quite sure what the future holds without their larger-than-life father, but they do know how to throw an Irish wake to honor a man of his stature.
But as guests pay their respects and reminisce, one stranger, emboldened by whiskey, has crashed the party. It turns out that she too is a Sweeney sister. 
When Washington, DC based journalist Serena Tucker had her DNA tested on a whim a few weeks earlier, she learned she had a 50% genetic match with a childhood neighbor—Maggie Sweeney of Southport, Connecticut. It seems Serena’s chilly WASP mother, Birdie, had a history with Bill Sweeney—one that has remained totally secret until now.
Once the shock wears off, questions abound. What does this mean for William’s literary legacy? Where is the unfinished memoir he’s stashed away, and what will it reveal? And how will a fourth Sweeney sister—a blond among redheads—fit into their story?
By turns revealing, insightful, and uproarious, The Sweeney Sisters is equal parts cautionary tale and celebration—a festive and heartfelt look at what truly makes a family.

Book Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Sweeny Sisters by Lian Dolan is a spectacular contemporary read which has a lot to offer to its readers. It is funny, heart-warming, emotional at times and conveys the strength of a bond of sisters in such a beautiful way that it is hard not to like this book.

Although this book was fiction, it did a pretty good job of convincing me otherwise. The characters felt so real and full of life and the story was so fresh and good that I wanted to believe it all to be true. And that is the best way an author can indulge a reader! The book was well-written and I loved the cover image of the book. The concept was good and the story-line very engaging.

I loved every bit of it and would recommend it to all contemporary fiction reads and anyone who likes reading about family and relationships in general.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and NetGalley

Book Review: Earth Angel: : Hell Hath No Fury When an Angel Gets Mad By Chris H. Stevenson

Author: Chris H. Stevenson 
Release Date: 23rd April 2020
Genre: Suspense, Thriller, Mystery, Supernatural
Series:
Format: E-book 
Pages: 229
Publisher: Aisling Books 
Blurb:
Angels…
Death Stalkers…
Real or imagined…
Twenty-one-year-old Daryl Victoria and her fiancé, Dean Fowler, a rookie detective who has been working on a serial killer case that involves the murder of five high school girls, are parked in their car for some frolicking when a carjacking goes wrong. Both are gunned down.

Daryl takes a bullet in the face, and as a result of the damage, needs a corneal transplant. Dean has been shot through the lungs. They’ve been ordered to quit work, heal, and recoup. Dean suffers a nervous breakdown as the murders increase and he is powerless to help, coupled with his guilt of having placed his bride-to-be, Daryl, in harm’s way in a seedy little lovers’ lane.
Daryl finds out that her transplanted eye is causing what she thinks are hallucinations. She begins to see what she believes are glowing angelic escorts and rancid death stalkers who are following persons of the general populace. When these supernatural beings get too close, the person they’re following dies within a short period of time. She discovers there’s a mysterious formula to the manner and timing of the deaths. 
Daryl discovers that the donor for her new cornea was a 14-year-old gifted medium with some heavy duty clairvoyant powers. Only sparse information can be gleaned from the young girl’s mother since the daughter has died in her own mysterious way.Daryl’s good eye sees the normal world. The donor eye sees a totally different realm with its own rules. With the help of Daryl’s best friend, Abbey, they embark on a mission to use the gift and try and save lives. But Daryl has a better plan—she can stop the serial killer by using her, gift, brains and looks. All it will take is an ingenious trap. First, she has to find out how the killer is gaining access into the homes. Then she has to use herself as bait and stop this madman at any cost. WARNING: Contains cussing and adult situations

Book Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Earth Angel by Chris H. Stevenson is an engaging supernatural mystery novel complete with an interesting concept and a well-written plot.

I liked reading this book more than I was expecting as I am not a huge fan of angels trope used in thriller stories, but this book was done well. The characters were good, though a couple of times I did think I wasn’t too invested in them, though in the end, I liked them just enough to see the book through. What appealed most to me was the concept itself and, thankfully, the book ended on a good note.

There are a couple of twists and turns sprinkled throughout he story and an emotional angle too that septs things exciting so over all it was a decent read.

I’d recommend it to all the mystery lovers who don’t mind the presence of supernatural element.

You can also read this review on Amazon

Book Review: Billionaire Boss, Undercover Affair by Kyra Radcliff

Author: Kyra Radcliff
Release Date: 17th March 2020
Genre: Romantic-thriller
Series:
Format: E-book 
Pages: 178
Publisher: Dawn Hill Publications Ltd.
Blurb: Susan Johansen is efficient, ambitious and cool-headed in a crisis, which is exactly why her boss, Charles Dunlap, needs her. As the successful owner of one of the richest old money industrialist conglomerates in the world, he is under pressure of a different kind when his daughter Alicia becomes involved with internet entrepreneur Miles Middleton. 

With an ego as big as his bank balance, Miles has a reputation for a string of affairs and Charles doesn’t want his daughter anywhere near him. And so he enlists Susan, as a Trojan Horse, burying her deep within Miles’ business interests in the hope that she can sabotage his relationship with Alicia.

It isn’t long before the plan seems to be working and Miles is missing lunches, dinners and other dates with Alicia in favour of making money and sealing deals. But it’s when he takes Susan away on a business trip and tries to seduce her that she sees him for what he really is. But now that she is close to her goal, Susan suddenly has a crisis of confidence? Is she really still working for Charles or is she now pursuing her own agenda with Miles?

As he continues to get under her skin with his continuous attempts at seduction, Susan finds that she is more conflicted than ever. And the closer she gets to completing the assignment, the greater the chances are that Miles will discover her secret.

Book Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Billionaire Boss, Undercover Affair by Kyra Radcliff was a heady romantic-thriller that successfully delivered what it promises – good romance and decent thrills.

The story had a lot of cliches, but overall the book was entertaining and purely for that, I liked it as I had been busy reading so many intense reads that I needed a breather and a break from my normal choice of dark fiction books. I was looking for something light and good and this book was exactly it.

I didn’t exactly fall in love with the character tees, but I ended up liking Susan, the female lead, who drove the story well and made the book worth reading. The writing was good and the plot very interesting.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon