Tag Archives: Fantasy

Spotlight & Giveaway: The Fulfillment Series by Erin Rhew

Today, I’m joined by one half of the Rhewination: Erin Rhew. For those that don’t know, Erin is a young adult fantasy author who is married to adult thriller author, Deek Rhew. Together, they are “the Rhews,” and their street team is the Rhewination!

Deek and Erin– Join the Rhewination! 😉

Last week, Deek went on blog tour to celebrate the release of his latest book, 122 Rules. And this week, Erin is on tour to promote her fantasy trilogy, The Fulfillment Series! PS. There’s a giveaway–a $50 Amazon gift card!!

So, here’s a little bit more about Erin, Deek, and The Fulfillment Series:

The Prophecy (Fulfillment Series Book 1)

Title: The Prophecy
Author: Erin Rhew
Publisher: BookFish Books
Cover Design: Anita at Race-Point
Available Now! Amazon Buy Link 
 
Synopsis: 

Growing up on a small farm in the kingdom of Vanguard, seventeen-year-old Layla Givens lives a deceptively tranquil existence. But her carefully constructed life quickly falls apart when she’s abducted by a religious zealot who proclaims her The Fulfillment of an ancient peace prophecy and whisks her away to marry her greatest enemy.

Wilhelm, Prince of the Ethereals, is reluctant to meet his new bride. He’s grown up believing Vanguards are evil, an enemy to fight and fear…not love. Can he set aside his prejudices and work alongside Layla to bring lasting peace after centuries of war?

Nash, a loner who has never fit in, carries a huge secret, one big enough to destroy both kingdoms. When he accidently meets Layla, he’s no longer content to live in the shadows, but he must resist his growing attraction–for her safety and for the longevity of the two kingdoms.

When Nash’s secret is revealed, a firestorm sweeps through both realms, with Layla at the center. Now she must choose between duty and desire while the fate of two nations hangs in the balance.


The Outlanders (Fulfillment Series Book 2) 

 
Title: The Outlanders
Author: Erin Rhew
Publisher: BookFish Books
Cover Design: Anita at Race-Point
Available Now! Amazon Buy Link 

The Fulfillment (Fulfillment Series Book 3)

Title: The Fulfillment
Author: Erin Rhew
Publisher: BookFish Books
Cover Design: Anita at Race-Point
Available Now! Amazon Buy Link

About Erin Rhew

Erin Rhew

Erin Rhew is an editor, a running coach, and the author of The Fulfillment Series. Since she picked up Morris the Moose Goes to School at age four, she has been infatuated with the written word. She went on to work as a grammar and writing tutor in college and is still teased by her family and friends for being a member of the “Grammar Police.”

A Southern girl by blood and birth, Erin now lives in a rainy pocket of the Pacific Northwest with the amazingly talented (and totally handsome) writer Deek Rhew and their “overly fluffy,” patient-as-a-saint writing assistant, a tabby cat named Trinity. She and Deek enjoy reading aloud to one another, running, lifting, boxing, eating chocolate, and writing side-by-side. 

Connect with Erin Online!

For the latest and greatest, visit her web page:

About Deek Rhew

 
Deek Rhew

Deek lives in a rainy pocket in the Pacific Northwest with the stunning YA author bride, Erin Rhew, and their writing assistant, a fat tabby named Trinity. They enjoy lingering in the mornings, and often late into the night, caught up Erin’s fantastic fantasy worlds of noble princes and knights and entwined in Deek’s dark underworld of the FBI and drug lords. He and Erin love to share books by reading aloud to one another. In addition, they enjoy spending time with friends, running, boxing, lifting weights, and exploring the little town–with antique shops and bakeries–they call home.

Connect with Deek Online!

 

For the latest and greatest, visit his web page:

Find Deek’s Novels Online!

Random Fun With Deek and Erin

Always laughing together
Celebrating their anniversary in style! 😉
Enjoying every moment!
Their cat and literary assistant, Trinity–leader of Rhewination!
Sharing every secret and every facet of life with each other!

Rafflecopter Giveaway

Want a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card?

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Filed under 2016, April, Fiction, Spotlight

Guest Post: Andrea Lochen author of Imaginary Things

Raven Haired Girl is thrilled to welcome Andrea Lochen author of Imaginary Things

divider-transparentandrea-lochen-authorAndrea Lochen is the author of two novels. Her first novel, The Repeat Year (Penguin 2013), was praised by Kirkus Reviews as “an engaging, satisfying read that explores friendship, love and who we really are when it truly matters.” A draft of the novel won the 2008 Hopwood Novel Award. The Repeat Year was also produced as an audiobook (Brilliance Audio) and translated into a German edition (Ullstein Buchverlage). The film option was sold to Ineffable Pictures. Andrea’s second novel, Imaginary Things, was published by Astor + Blue in 2015. Lori Nelson Spielman, bestselling author of The Life List, called it, “a beautiful book, filled with vivid scenes, unforgettable characters, and oodles of heart. With a page-turning plot and an utterly unique concept, Imaginary Things entertains, inspires, and provokes thought—a perfect book club pick.”

Andrea earned her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where she was a Colby Fellow. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she was the Fiction Editor of The Madison Review, a nationally-distributed, student-run literary magazine. Since 2008, she has taught undergraduate writing at the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha and was recently awarded the UW Colleges Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. Andrea currently lives in Wisconsin with her husband and daughter and is at work on her third novel.

Listen to an interview with Andrea on Milwaukee Public Radio’s “Lake Effect.”

Read an interview with Andrea about her writing process and her advice for aspiring writers.

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Guest Post

Ten Most Delicious Desserts Inspired by Novels
by Andrea Lochen

As an avid reader with a major sweet tooth, I love when authors include the recipes for the yummy desserts they’ve made me drool over throughout their book. It’s a marriage of two of my favorite activities—reading and baking! And if you’re a book club member, what better treat to bring to your meeting than a dessert straight out of the novel? Here are ten of my favorite book-inspired desserts!

1) Southern Caramel Cake from The Help by Kathryn Stockett

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Who hasn’t wanted to try a bite of the scrumptious-sounding caramel cake that Minny makes in The Help? (Maybe not so much her chocolate pie, however!) Though Stockett didn’t include the recipe in the back of her book, this food blog has the The Junior League of Memphis Cookbook recipe that supposedly inspired her.

Recipe

2) Coconut Cake from Amy E. Reichert’s The Coincidence of Coconut Cake

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The titular coconut cake in Reichert’s The Coincidence of Coconut Cake earned its place on the cover of this heartwarming book. To the main character, Lou, baking her grandmother’s cake is the ultimate expression of love. In the book, those who get to eat it earned their slice, which certainly made me crave a piece all the more!

Recipe

3) Crème Caramel Flan from Anita Hughes’ Island in the Sea: A Majorca Love Story

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In Hughes’ newest novel set in Spain, she describes how Majorca’s restaurants serve a mouthwatering variety of delicious fresh fish and locally grown vegetables and how many diners like to end the meal with a dessert that satisfies any sweet tooth while not being heavy or cloying. This creme caramel flan recipe certainly does the trick!

Recipe

4) Lemon Cream Cake from Juliette Fay’s Shelter Me

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Fay introduces the concept of “pology cake” in her first novel, Shelter Me, as something you bake for someone you’ve wronged in the hopes of that person forgiving you. Though according to Fay, it doesn’t need to be a particular kind of cake, her recipe for lemon cream cake in the back of the book and on her author website sounds fabulous!

Recipe

5) Peanut butter bars from Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal

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Though there are several delicious dishes described in Stradal’s debut novel about Midwestern foodie culture, it was the blue-prize winning peanut butter bars recipe from Lutheran church lady, Pat, that caught my eye. I made this for my book club and these chocolate-frosted bars are just as decadent as they sound!

Recipe

6) Thumbprint Cookies with Jam from Kelly Simmons’ One More Day

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Baking figures prominently in Kelly Simmons’ book because in One More Day, the main character, Carrie Morgan, bakes with her grandmother, as she did when she was a little girl. However, it’s not clear whether her grandmother is dead or alive! These thumbprint jam cookies look like just the thing to bake when you’re in a nostalgic mood (or simply in the mood for something buttery and sweet)!

Recipe

7) Mantecadas from Tina Ann Forkner’s Ruby Among Us

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In Ruby Among Us by Tina Ann Forkner, Kitty and her granddaughter Lucy spend a lot of time together talking over cookies and tea. Lucy even has a special tea cup that she drinks out of with her grandmother Kitty who is keeping a lot of secrets about Lucy’s past. Below is a link to Kitty’s secret recipe for Lucy’s favorite cookie, Mantecadas. Yum!

Recipe

8) Nanaimo Bars from Miracle Beach by Erin Celello

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Nanaimo Bars are served in the cafeterias of the ferry boats between Vancouver Island and mainland Canada. In Miracle Beach, when main characters Magda and Jack come to the Island, they fall in love with the sinfully sweet bars. Author Erin Celello testifies that they’re amazing!

Recipe

9) Damascus’ Pumpkin Spice Pound Cake from The River Witch by Kimberly Brock

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In The River Witch, a family feast brings an estranged southern family together. When ten-year-old Damascus Trezevant’s summer ends with a bounty of pumpkins, she sets out to heal deep wounds with a sweet, old recipe for Pumpkin Spice Pound Cake and faith in the magic of a mother’s love. You won’t be sorry you tried this recipe!

Recipe

10) The Best Chocolate Cake Ever from The Repeat Year by Andrea Lochen

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What dessert list is complete without a delectable chocolate cake? In The Repeat Year, main character Olive is named after her maternal grandmother who passed away the week before she was born. In addition to her grandma’s name, Olive also inherited her recipe for the “best chocolate cake ever” which her mom bakes as a peace offering for their family in a time of major transition.

Recipe

What are your favorite recipes inspired by novels? Comment below!

Andrea Lochen is the author of two novels, Imaginary Things and The Repeat Year. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Michigan and her BA in English at the University of Wisconsin. Since 2008, she has taught undergraduate writing at the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha. When she isn’t teaching, reading, or baking, she is hard at work on her third novel. To learn more about her, visit her website.

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About Imaginary Things25106194

Watching children play and invent whimsical games of fantasy is one of life’s great joys. But what if you could actually see your child’s imagination as it unfolded? And what would you do if your child’s imagination suddenly became dark and threatening?

Burned-out and broke, twenty-two-year-old single mother Anna Jennings moves to her grandparents’ rural home for the summer with her four-year-old son, David. The sudden appearance of shadowy dinosaurs forces Anna to admit that either she’s lost her mind or she can see her son’s active imagination. Frightened for David’s safety, Anna struggles to learn the rules of this bizarre phenomenon and how best to protect him. But what she uncovers along the way is completely unexpected: revelations about what her son’s imaginary friends truly represent and dark secrets about her own childhood imaginary friend.

Living right next door is Jamie Presswood, Anna’s childhood friend who has grown much more handsome and hardened than the boy she once knew. Jamie reminds her of simpler times—Ferris wheels and sparklers, picnics by the river, and Neapolitan ice cream—but due to past regrets and the messy lives they’ve since led, rekindling their friendship proves easier said than done. Between the imaginary creatures stalking her son and her tumultuous relationship with David’s biological father, Anna doesn’t have any room left in her life or her heart for another man. But as David’s visions become more persistent and threatening, Anna must learn to differentiate between which dangers are real and which are imagined, and who she can truly trust.

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Filed under 2016, April, Fiction, Guest Post

Review & Guest Post: In Another Life by Julie Christine Johnson

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About In Another Life

It is January 1208 and in a village on the border between Provence and Languedoc, a monk whispers a benediction over the body of a slain papal emissary. The Cathars—followers of a heretical faith—are blamed for the assassination. The Pope declares a holy war and Languedoc is forever changed.

Eight hundred years later, historian Lia Carrer returns to southern France to rebuild her life after the death of her husband. Instead of finding solace in Languedoc’s quiet hills and medieval ruins, the woman trying to heal risks love, and loss, again.

Reincarnation is familiar ground for Lia—an expert in the mystical beliefs of the ancient Cathar faith—but to reconcile the truth of that long-ago assassination, the logical researcher must accept religious fantasy as historical fact. Three lost souls enter her life, each holding a key to the murder that launched a religious crusade in the heart of Europe.

In Another Life is set amidst the medieval intrigue of thirteenth century Languedoc and Paris, intertwined with Lia’s modern quest to uncover the truth of an ancient murder and free a man haunted by ghosts from his past.

AMAZON |  BARNES & NOBLE

My Review

Thank you Julie Christine Johnson for taking me on such an amazing reading journey. Exploring the Languedoc region of France and Catharism penned by your exquisite writing as you deftly threaded Science Fiction, Fantasy with love, religious persecution, loss, redemption.

Alternating between past and present with gripping characters searching for answers made for an enthralling read. The languid pace intensifies with the turn of every page as the story unrolls, I caught myself holding my breath as the adventure and excitement continues.

I felt such empathy for Lia. Lia is a woman stricken with sorrow and grief finding herself caught between the past and the present, sucked into the past through another’s life and thrust into the present with an answer to a question lingering in history. Incredibly three-dimensional you sense Lia’s turmoil and calm as she pieces everything together.

Memorable story leaving you lost in thought for quite a while. Impressive ambitious debut from a very talented authoress. Anxiously awaiting Johnson’s next undertaking. You’ll be left breathless and measured simultaneously, enigmatic.

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Raven Haired Girl extends a warm welcome to Julie Christine Johnson. Thank you for joining Raven Haired Girl, Julie 

Guest Post

The Soundtrack of a Novel: In Another Life

by Julie Christine Johnson

I write to music. A low murmur in my headphones to cancel out the chatter around me if I’m in a public place, or a soft swirl of sound at home to break the silence. Typically I write to mellow, dreamy tunes without words or too much of a beat: chillwave, ambient, the gentler side of classical—Albinoni, Chopin, Debussy.

That’s what I write to.

But each of my novels has a soundtrack, music that puts me inside the characters’ souls so that I feel their longing, confusion, joy, anger, passion, wonder. Certain songs wrap tendrils of emotion around my heart and squeeze, until I gasp a story onto the page, releasing the pressure of characters struggling to be heard.

Are you familiar with the Welsh word hiraeth? How about the Portuguese saudade? German’s Sehnsucht? Words that have no direct translation in English, but each expresses an essential longing of the soul, homesickness for a place never visited, a melancholy that sinks so deep, you gasp in pain while your mouth waters in pleasure; an unrequited longing for the ghost of a dream, castles built in clouds.

It is this sense of longing that I most wanted to convey through In Another Life, where a woman loses her beloved husband and wanders lost, without love or a sense of self. The sirens of hiraeth call her back to her spiritual home, the southern French region of Languedoc, but melancholy follows in her wake.

For In Another Life, the song that most evokes the novel’s emotional core, the song I think of as Lia’s song, came years before the novel. I heard it years before I would dare call myself a writer. But this song became the genesis of a character, a woman aching with longing that she can barely allow herself to express: Tori Amos’ “Sleeps with Butterflies”, from her 2005 album The Beekeeper.

I’m not like the girls that you’ve known
But I believe I’m worth coming home to

They are the words a woman offers tentatively to a new love, wondering, ‘Is it me you want?’

Are you having regrets about last night?

It is a subtle dance between confidence about who she is, what she wants, but uncertainty—in these early days of new and delicate love—if her lover reciprocates the same intensity of feeling.

If you don’t know the song, bring it up on iTunes or Spotify. Imagine this is Lia singing, the morning after her walk with Raoul in the frozen wonderland of vineyards buried under snow, remembering their first kiss, their shared longing and hesitation. Imagine this writer waiting for just the right story to bring that woman, in all her longing and hesitation, to life.

Other artists that form In Another Life’s soundtrack: French folksinger Francis Cabrel, who sings in both Spanish and French; Damien Rice, Sarah McLachlan, David Gray, M83, The Swell Season.

What about you—writers and readers—what are the songs that make your skin tingle with emotion, your solar plexus reverberate with feeling, fill you with inexplicable longing?

About Julie Christine Johnsonimage004

Julie Christine Johnson’s short stories and essays have appeared in several journals, including Mud Season Review; Cirque: A Literary Journal of the North Pacific Rim; Cobalt, and the anthologies Stories for Sendai; Up, Do: Flash Fiction by Women Writers; and Three Minus One: Stories of Love and Loss. She holds undergraduate degrees in French and Psychology and a Master’s in International Affairs.

Her second novel, The Crows Of Beara, a finalist in the Siskiyou Prize for New Environmental Literature, has sold to Ashland Creek Press for publication in fall 2017. In this work of women’s fiction, a struggling American PR executive and an enigmatic Irish artist face off over the development of a copper mine in rural Ireland, finding love and redemption amid the rugged, mystical land.

A runner, hiker, and wine geek, Julie makes her home on the Olympic Peninsula of northwest Washington State with her husband. In Another Life is her first novel.

Find out more about Julie at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter, Goodreads.

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark – February 2, 2016

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Filed under 2016, February, Fiction, Guest Post, Review

Excerpt, Review & Giveaway: Black Wings by Iryna K. Combs

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About Black Wings

A new time. A new planet. A new world. New technologies. Two new humanoid species. A new war.

The two species separate, but in the removal, some of the best are left behind among the worst. Captured and held as slaves, they are treated cruelly for entertainment. Torture. Pain.

Annabel, endures a year of such cruelty, kept alive only by way of syringes which, while healing, cause a greater agony. She discovers a secret held by their leader, and decides to help her own kind by escaping–even if it means a final death, preferable to the life she has endured.

Her escape succeeds, and she joins her own kind at the other end of the planet. Among her new friends she meets many who help her adjust to their happier life. Will Annabel find romance? Or will another war break her down?

GOODREADS  |  AMAZON  |  ROAEN PUBLISHING

 

Excerpt

She grabs the bottle and drinks rapidly. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her drink so quickly.

“Don’t eat the bottle!” I joke, hoping to put a smile on her face. She thanks me with a small smile. Suddenly the door opens, and our moment of joyful peace is broken. Lucas walks in. He comes over and grabs my hand.

“You will pay for that, damn girl!” He threatens as he hauls me off my bed.

“What did I do?” I shout at him, confused, and draw back.

“You—trying to be so nice…helping your poor beat up friend who is not supposed to have water!” He’s yelling, taking the blanket and dragging me to the door.

“Leave her alone!” Kate screams at him, jumps up to stop him. The Varkin turns around and hits her so hard she falls to the floor. Holding my hand tightly, he walks me to the elevator. As we walk in, he presses the SS button. I barely get right in before the elevator door closes, almost pinching my leg. He pushes me against the opposite wall.

“Where are you taking me?” I demand, but I’m panicking—I’m in trouble.

“Relax,” Lucas puts his cold arms around my waist. “You might still have a chance to change things…”

He pulls me close to him. I feel his ice cold lips on my neck. I close my eyes, disgusted as never before. He pushes me to the wall with his body and rips my shirt from my back.

He’s going to beat me. I’m not going to make it easy.

I shove him away. He picks me up, throws me against the wall. He slaps my face, his nails scratch my cheek.

“Stupid, damn Anlight! You will get it good this time! I promise!”

His tone brings chills, all the way down to my legs.

When the elevator stops on the SS floor, he drags me down the hallway, the blanket in his hand. My ripped shirt is left lying in the elevator. All I have on is a dirty old black brassiere that’s seen better days. He looks back, and catches a glimpse of my stomach. A couple of days ago I’d been given a deep scratch, and he’s just noticed the scratch has gone.

“What happened to your scratch? It could not possibly heal so fast!”

Lucas takes me to the room where Victorius beats me if I don’t do what they tell me. We walk in and there are about twelve other Varkins in groups. Red lights and smoke make the place into a horror scene.

“She needs punishment like never before!” he screams, tossing me like a grubby rag to the middle of the room. All the Varkins turn and look. Glowing eyes look at me—without a shirt—as I try to break my landing.

“What did she do, my dear friend?” Victorius asks. He’s calm, still sitting in his chair.

“Her room-mate was not allowed to drink,” the Varkin replies. “But this one hid water and gave it to her friend. She stole this blanket, knowing she is not allowed to have one.”

Victorius’ face is serious as he listens closely. I get up, stand right in front of him. He stands, walks down to me, around me. I feel my pulse beating with each step he takes. My body tenses—I expect him to hit me any moment. I’ve been hoping I’d get used to this torture eventually, but every new punishment brings new terror and fear.

“Well, well…” Victorius stops in front of me. “Seems like I see your pretty face here more than other Anlights. We do not have many left…but I do remember you well…” He smiles. “Let me first inform you, this Varkin here is my ‘right hand’. The one I trust the most. And now he is telling me terrible things about you. Hmm…” he looks in my eyes, “…should I believe his tales?”

I know if I tell him the truth, no one will believe me for a minute. And it would make my situation even worse. I don’t think he’ll even let me open my mouth.

“Believe what you like.” I keep looking downwards, and the other Varkins whisper around us. They didn’t expect my careless answer. They’re probably trying to figure out why I won’t try protecting myself by finding excuses.

“Lucas!” he shouts and his right hand comes to him.

“Yes, my majesty.”

“What do you think we need to…do…with her, considering everything she has done?”

“Victorius, there is something interesting you might want to know about her…” Lucas said.

“What?”

Lucas comes up to me and points at my stomach. I don’t know how to deal with this. I’m shaking as I try to cover the healed scratch with my hands.

“Two days ago she had a long cut on her stomach. It was bleeding. Now it is not there anymore. It is healed. There is something going on with her.” Lucas pulls my hands away.

“It’s not true,” I burst out. “The cut was not too deep, and it was more than two days—” Victorius slaps me before I can finish talking.

“I have noticed things like that as well, but I thought it was just my mind playing tricks with me,” Victorius talks slowly, calmly, as he turns my face back toward him with his cold hand. “Now here is evidence.” He’s smiling, which isn’t necessarily a good sign.

“We need to take her blood, do tests on her,” Lucas suggests.

“My friend,” Victorius looks at him, “tests have killed almost all my Anlights. I cannot afford to lose any more of them. But we will surely take her blood and see why she is different.” Victorius comes to my side and puts his arm around my shoulders.

“But there is one test I can do right now…”

My Review

Combs provides a thorough prologue setting the stage for plenty of anticipated action matched with interesting characters, an imaginative science fiction tale of good vs. bad peppered with correct amounts of dystopian, fantasy and romance.

Annabel is one strong female heroine. What she endures is affecting and her strength is amazing. She’s humble, quiet and grounded for what she hast lost, suffered and uncertain of the future. Combs gives an all around glimpse into Annabel and as time passes Annabel grows and evolves. She is a young woman willing to sacrifice much for her homeland and people.

The narrative is exciting, I enjoyed the practical and slow romance angle, just enough to push the story along. Annabel is traumatized from her experience and needs time to heal, I like Combs approach on this giving Annabel a realistic edge while developing a deeper connection with the audience.

Imaginative narrative with one memorable uber strong and independent female protagonist. I would love to see this translated into a graphic novel, very vivid descriptions penned by Combs, an artists keen eye could really bring the story to illustrated life.

About Iryna K. CombsIrina [DSC_9148]cmp

Originally from the Ukraine, I am still considered a new face to America. Speaking three languages including English, that became just as natural to me as my native Russian.

I grew up in a town on the south of Ukraine doing the same things that other kids my age did. Dreaming, hoping and wishing. Growing up, I spoke absolutely no English and never even saw myself somewhere abroad. Nevertheless writing a novel in another language!

I went to the local school that brought mostly negative experience in my life. But it shaped me throughout the years. My college life was much better. I was known to study well and to go out partying as much as it was possible.

In my first year of college I began to work in the marriage agency and met my future husband. We dated and traveled to most of the Europe along with Egypt.

When I finally got my fiancée visa, we both moved to the states, where soon after, got married. In the first few years I did some modeling and acting. Photo-shoots, run-way and photo in the magazine fulfilled my childhood’s dream.

A few years later I became a mother of a wonderful and most handsome little boy. Along with learning and experiencing motherhood, I began to make hand-made jewelry and organic soaps. This hobby turned into my small business and became bigger than I thought it would.

In the last year I discovered: an author lives inside me. Never did I think that I would write an English book and that I would love doing it. But I did! And I loved it!

Connect with Iryna:  Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads

Giveaway

Enter to win a digital copy of Black Wings by Iryna K. Combs. Open internationally. Ends 1/29/19.
ENTRY-FORM

Published October 23rd 2015 by Roane Publishing (first published July 15th 2015)

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Filed under 2016, Fiction, January, Review

Spotlight: Without Light or Guide by T. Frohock

Without Light or Guide cover

About Without Light or Guide

Always holding themselves aloft from the affairs of mortals, Los Nefilim have thrived for eons. But with the Spanish Civil War looming, their fragile independence is shaken by the machinations of angels and daimonsÖ and a half breed caught in between. Although Diago Alvarez has pledged his loyalty to Los Nefilim, there are many who donít trust his daimonic blood. And with the re-emergence of his fatheróa Nefil who sold his soul to a daimonóthe fear is Diago will soon follow the same path. Yet even as Diago tries to prove his allegiance, events conspire that only fuel the other Nefilimís suspicionsóincluding the fact that every mortal Diago has known in Barcelona is being brutally murdered.

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About T. Frohock

T. Frohock has turned her love of dark fantasy and horror into tales of deliciously creepy fiction. She currently lives in North Carolina where she has long been accused of telling stories, which is a southern colloquialism for lying. Check out more of her works and news at www.tfrohock.com.

Be sure to click on the TLC banner to check out the entire tour schedule. Thank you TLC!

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• Publisher: Harper Voyager Impulse (November 3, 2015)

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Filed under 2015, December, Fiction, Spotlight

Review: Outrageous: The Victoria Woodhull Saga, Volume One: Rise to Riches by Neal Katz

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About Outrageous: The Victoria Woodhull Saga

What compels a woman and her youngest sister to overcome abject poverty and violent abuse to grow up to defy convention and obliterate every barrier to become the first women to own and operate a Wall Street brokerage firm and publish their own newspaper?

How did Victoria Claflin Woodhull (1838 – 1927) become the first woman invited to speak to the United State Congress, and then the first female to run for President. What made Tennessee Celeste Claflin (1845 – 1923) so beguiling that the richest man in America, Cornelius Vanderbilt, fell completely in love with her?

What caused the sisters to live out their long lives as royalty and peerage in Europe. Victoria living as landed gentry outside of London, and Tennessee in a huge castle like a queen? Why aren’t these empowered and independent women iconic in our culture?

Volume One of The Victoria Woodhull Saga tells the poignant, lascivious, and compelling inside story of how the sisters worked closely with Cornelius Vanderbilt, who at age 74 fell in love with the beguiling 24-year old Tennessee. Victoria provided the titan of industry “Inside Her Information” gathered through the soiled sisterhood, the ladies of the evening working at the top seven brothels servicing the rich and famous of New York City.

This relationship resulted in the great lion of industry having his last public roar as together they manipulated the financial markets and created the impending collapse of the U.S. economy in the gold scandal of 1869. To avert the crash, President Ulysses S. Grant provides the richest man in America insider information on the Gold market and telegrams Vanderbilt that his railroad company is “Too Big To Fail!” Vanderbilt was proclaimed ‘The Savior of the American Economy’ for intervening in a crisis he helped create.

View Victorian America through the eyes and thoughts of one of its leading heroines. Watch as the infighting and elitism of the earliest suffrage women denigrating, castigating, and denouncing other passionate suffrage rights women delayed woman suffrage and equal legal standing for five decades. Learn wonderful anecdotes of the origins of products and phrases used today. Learn the story of The Reverend Henry Ward Beecher, the most popular man in America, who transformed Christianity from his father’s Fire and Brimstone theology to one of a compassionate and loving Jesus, who will redeem all who turn to salvation with complete confession of their sins. The reverend’s personal life did not imitate his lofty and popular theology of his weekly sermons at Plymouth Church. He was a notorious womanizer, often bedding, and sometimes impregnating the wives, sisters, and daughters of his most ardent backers and deacons of the church.

Written in the first person from Victoria’s viewpoint, Neal Katz weaves a compelling page-turner story that cleverly unfolds history while providing a wonderfully entertaining ride. Neal has pledged one half of his proceeds to charities dedicated to the empowerment and sustainable economic improvement of women, especially single mothers.

My Review

Great story of a trailblazing woman in history – Victoria Woodhull. For those of you familiar with Woodhull you will appreciate the fact Katz emphasizes her intellect, strength, independence and her ability ro rise above a challenging family situation. Others unfamiliar with Woodhull will find yourself captivated by this amazing womans story hopefully opening the flood gate to discover more of females impacting history.

Impressive debut from Neal Katz, a man clearly understanding and appreciative of women as his ability to enter their inner workings is undeniable. The story starts out with formidable force as Katz demonstrates the mettle of young Victoria Woodhull vowing  to carve a life for herself as she clearly rises from the depths of despair.

I plan on continuing with this riveting saga, Katz pays homage to a woman unheard of to most but should be more than familiar, women such as Woodhull and countless others paved the road for women such and myself and my fellow sisters.

Historical fiction fans, those interested in women in history, feminists, history buffs in general will want to read this well penned saga of Victoria Woodhull.

About Neal Katzabout-the-author

Neal Katz is a semi-retired, successful, serial entrepreneur, CEO with a passion for women rights. He lives a life based on self-awareness and Love. He practices Yoga, meditates daily, has taught A Course in Miracles, produced Oregon wines under the LOVE, a Wine Co. label, enjoys reciting Vedic sutras, and writes his own inspirational poetry.

The saga of Victoria Woodhull appeals to Neal, as it serves three purposes. First, the story provokes public awareness of the historical and continuing degradation and subjugation of gender prejudice. Second, the tale exposes the historical basis for the manipulation of the “free markets” of stocks, bonds and commodities. Third, the story shows how existing financial and political power structures use prison and seizure of assets to prevent innovation and social change. Victoria Woodhull overcame all these obstacles in a remarkable life.

In addition, Neal has had to overcome many of the same trials and tribulations that confronted the sisters, Victoria and Tennessee. He believes in their motto: “Upward & Onward” and personally transforms challenges into positive manifestations. Neal often says, “We have so much more power than we allow ourselves to think. Create the life you want!”

Neal chose to write in first person using Victoria’s words, thoughts, and point of view to tell the tale, inviting the reader to see through her eyes. The style is magic realism along the lines of Allende, Marquez, and Kathleen McGowan (The Magdalene Trilogy). The books are an expression of the HeForShe solidarity movement for gender equality promoted by Emma Watson, and Neal proudly proclaims himself a male feminist!

Prior to becoming an author, Neal formed and managed several businesses, specializing in finance, operations, marketing, and exit strategies. His work spanned advising and working for newly formed start-up, initial public offering, and Fortune 100 companies. Once a licensed securities broker, Mr. Katz is familiar with the financial markets from an insider’s perspective.

Neal has conceived and defined a new financial paradigm—CREDIT FUNDING—to create jobs while providing continuous and renewable funding for many charitable endeavors, such as micro-finance, low income housing, vocational training, and infrastructure renewal. The concept is based on using the credit, not cash, of wealthy individuals and corporations to fund charities, which can institute a payback or pay-it-forward scenario. Something like parents who co-sign a car loan or guarantee a young couple’s first home loan. The idea is to do this on a national scale and infuse $1 Trillion into the economy. It can and will be done!

Neal has pledged fifty percent (50%) of his author’s royalties from book sales and all ancillary revenues, including foreign print distribution and Hollywood rights to a foundation formed in tribute to Victoria Woodhull and her passion for woman rights, or fund a like-minded existing program. The foundation will promote and prove programs based on the Charitable Loans concept for the empowerment and sustainable economic improvement of women, especially single mothers.

Neal enjoys entertaining, especially cooking proteins for large groups. He prides himself on his fast cook, 25# defrosted turkey in two hours total cook time at 550 degrees, and his slow cook, duck, leg of lamb, or turkey confit style cooking at 180 degrees for 12 – 14 hours. He also excels at vegetarian protein dishes, often infusing playful twists of colors, crunch, and some homemade chili oil.

Always challenging himself, Neal has trained for and completed a triathlon; studied the Torah, Talmud, and Judaic mystical texts in Hebrew, Aramaic, English and even some Latin; produced exquisite wines in Oregon; taken a company he co-founded public and advised many others; studied and became a cotton farmer; learned and taught A Course in Miracles; written poetry; designed a macro economic financial system; and has become a successful author.

Being of service is Neal’s credo and he is ceaselessly mentoring, sharing, teaching and learning in one form or another. Neal prides himself on being accessible to others and being of service. He will answer, in time, any serious inquiry. You can contact him at nealkatz@thevictoriawoodhullsaga.com

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Filed under 2015, Fiction, November, Review

Review: Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman

Trigger Warning COVER • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (October 27, 2015)
Paperback: 368 pages

From one of the most critically acclaimed and beloved storytellers of our time comes a major new collection of stories and verse

“We each have our little triggers . . . things that wait for us in the dark corridors of our lives.” So says Neil Gaiman in his introduction to Trigger Warning, a remarkable compendium of twenty-five stories and poems that explore the transformative power of imagination.

Gaiman possesses endless creativity along with vivid imagination, his mosaic collection of colorful stories proves he is not a formulaic writer, so much variety, a mere glimpse into his untethered mind and ability.

I enjoyed the extensive introduction, lengthy but lends so much insight into Gaiman’s creative process, origins of collection and what served as his inspiration for each story. With the additional detailed information provided beforehand it adds a level of intimacy and greater understanding/connection as you peruse each story, truly making the journey more intense as you reach individual destinations.

I enjoyed all the stories but as expected I enjoyed a few more than others. A few standouts for me –

A Lunar Labyrinth
The Thing about Cassandra
The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountain
A Calendar of Tales
Black Dog

Neil Gaiman fans will want to add this to your must read list, no doubt you will devour his eclectic palate paired with his unmistakable signature anomaly storytelling.

About Neil GaimanNeil-Gaiman

Neil Gaiman is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty books, and is the recipient of numerous literary honors. Originally from England, he now lives in America.

Find out more about Neil at his website, find all his books at his online bookstore, and follow him on Facebook, tumblr, and his blog.

Grateful to be included in the tour for Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman. Be sure to click on the TLC banner to check out the entire tour schedule. Thank you TLC!

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Filed under 2015, Fiction, October, Review

Review, Guest Post & Giveaway: Silver Tongue by AshleyRose Sullivan

Silver-Tongue-Book-Cover-200x300Paperback: 274 pages
Publisher: Seventh Star Press, LLC (April 20, 2015)

The Colonies lost the Revolutionary War. Now it’s 1839 and the North American continent is divided into three territories: New Britannia, Nueva Espana, and Nouvelle France where seventeen-year-old Claire Poissant lives.

Claire has a magical way with words—literally, along with her two fellow outcasts and best friends Phileas and Sam. But when Sam’s family is murdered, these bonds are tested and Claire’s special ability is strained to its limits as the three hunt the men responsible into dangerous lands. Along the way they cross paths with P.T. Barnum, William Frankenstein and other characters from both history and fantasy as they learn the hard way that man is often the most horrific monster and that growing up sometimes means learning to let go of the things you hold most dear.

A clever narrative and cast I found absolutely engrossing, could not put this down as I frantically turned the pages.

Sullivan bends history creating an alternate take on the ‘what if’…the reader explores three territories part Spanish, part French and part British as the colonies have lost the Revolutionary War. Each colony differing in inhabitants, language and customs leaving you feeling as if you traveled abroad. Sullivan’s viewpoint adds a spin with loads of texture along with great interest.

The smattering of paranormal is fascinating, in fact you’ll be charmed, its validity never questioned because it’s so well placed and doesn’t dominate the narrative, in fact it endears you to the already captivating cast. Sullivan blends every aspect with ease, this says a lot since I’m not a fan of heavy paranormal, however, Sullivan works her magic consuming my attention.

All the characters are well-developed, Claire’s gift plays a key role in her adventures with Sam and Phileas. I appreciate the fact Sullivan incorporated Claire’s Indian heritage into the story via customs, traditions etc.

Between the settings rich descriptions, the heroes and villains you find yourself rapt as Sullivan’s ingenuousness matched with her original vision of history is a welcomed glimpse into the many ‘what if’s’ the past could have taken. Plenty of twists, action equal with drama, unexpected surprises make this a fun and unique read I highly recommend. Looking forward to more from Sullivan and much more from amazing Claire, certainly hope there is a sequel.

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Guest Post

Claire’s ABCs

Silver Tongue’s own Raven Haired Girl, Claire Poissant, lives life in an alternate version of 1839 but that doesn’t mean that, during her travels, she can’t stop to answer a few questions from a common Facebook survey:

A- Age: Seventeen

B- Biggest Fear: Losing the people I love.

C- Current Time: Mid-morning. The sun is glinting off the Mississippi River. I’m eating a late breakfast in Le Poisson Bleu’s dining room.

D- Drink: What are you having? : The strongest coffee I’ve had since we left home

E- Easiest Person To Talk to: Phil

F- Favorite Song: Au Clair De La Lune

G- Ghosts, are they real: I hope not.

H- Hometown: Lafayette, Akansean Province, Nouvelle France

I- In love with: Sam. At least I think so. It feels like love. I wish it didn’t. Please don’t tell.

J- Jealous Of: Phil. But only a little.

K- Killed Someone? No. But I might have to. Someday.

L- Last time you cried?: When we found Sam after he’d been shot.

M- Monsters, are they real: Yes. But they’re not what you think.

N- Number of Siblings: 0

O- One Wish: For everything to go back to the way it was.

P- Person who you last saw: Phil, on his way to meet Dupin.

Q- Question you’re always asked: What’s wrong?

R- Reason to smile: Adventure!

S- Song last sang: A la Claire Fontaine. I woke up singing it.

T- Time you woke up: Just after dawn. I went for a walk on the deck and then went back to bed.

U- U-Word That Best Describes You: Undaunted.

V- Vacation Destination: Wherever Sam and Phil are.

W- Worst Habit: Acting without thinking

X- X-Rays you’ve had: What’s an X-Ray?

Y- Your favorite food: Buttery crepes with strawberries and cream.

Z- Zodiac Sign: Sagittarius

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About AshleyRose SullivanAshleyRose-Sullivan

Born and raised in Appalachia, AshleyRose Sullivan now lives, writes, and paints in Los Angeles. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Spalding University and her first novel, Awesome Jones: A Superhero Fairy Tale is available from Seventh Star Press. She can be found at her website or her blog, My Year Of Star Trek.

Giveaway

Enter for a chance to win a digital copy of Silver Tongue, please complete the giveaway form below. Open to US residents only. Ends 10/1/15
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Thrilled to be included in the tour for Silver Tongue by AshleyRose Sullivan. Be sure to click on the TLC banner to check out the entire tour schedule. Thank you TLC!

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Filed under 2015, Fiction, Guest Post, Review, September

Review & Giveaway: The Sparrow Sisters by Ellen Herrick

The Sparrow Sisters (430x648)•Paperback: 384 pages
•Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (September 1, 2015)

The Sparrow Sisters are as tightly woven into the New England seaside town of Granite Point as the wild sweet peas that climb the stone walls along the harbor. Sorrel, Nettie, and Patience are as colorful as the beach plums on the dunes and as mysterious as the fog that rolls into town at dusk.

But when Patience Sparrow’s herbs and tinctures are believed to be implicated in a local tragedy, Granite Point is consumed by a long-buried fear—and its three-hundred-year-old history resurfaces as a modern-day witch hunt threatens.

I’m not a huge fan of magical realism, however, in proper doses, weaved into a narrative deftly it is thoroughly enjoyed. I found this book delightful, whimsical, the end hinted of a possible sequel, hope so, my curiosity it piqued.

You can’t help but fall in love with the small village of Granite Point. The Sparrow Sisters are oddly fascinating. Patience Sparrow possesses the gift of healing through her herbalist knowledge, she knows instinctively what a person needs. Admittedly, the references to the various plants and their uses was educational and very interesting. The sisters are a close-knit trio, and the author reveals just a smidgen of info of each sister creating an enigma not to mention a weird fascination. The mystery in which the plot centers isn’t really a bona fide mystery, very predictable but it raises a lot of issues regarding small town mentality, exposing inhabitants true colors – both good and bad. Just enough romance sprinkled to add another level of interest.

The narrative was awkward for lack of a better description. There were times when the setting felt as if it was long ago, while on the other hand a scene would jar you into the present. The delivery felt off too, however, I’m betting the next book will be smoother, unless this is the authors signature style.

A charming story full of interesting characters, magical realism well done.

About Ellen Herrick

Ellen Herrick was a publishing professional in New York City until she and her husband moved to London for a brief stint; they returned nearly twenty years later with three children (her own, it must be said). She now divides her time between Cambridge, Massachusetts, and a small town on Cape Cod very much like Granite Point.

Find out more about Ellen at her†website†and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Giveaway

Enter for a chance to win a copy of The Sparrow Sisters, please complete the giveaway form below. Open to US residents only. Ends 9/8/15
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Filed under 2015, Fiction, Review, September

Review & Giveaway: The Univited by Cat Winters

The Uninvited (430x648)

•Paperback: 368 pages
•Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (August 11, 2015)

Twenty-five-year-old Ivy Rowan rises from her sickbed after being struck by the great influenza epidemic of 1918, only to discover that the world has been torn apart in just a few short days.

“The head makes war, but the heart makes peace. And, thankfully, the heart ends up ruling more than not.”

I’ve never encounter a character carrying such burden, guilt, the need to protect others as she sacrifices her wants. A young woman paying for her father’s sins, hellbent on mending the rents of others wrongs. Ivy’s shoulders are heavy as she carries the weight of the world. I liked Ivy and I felt a tremendus amount of empathy for her family situation and the predicament along with the role she felt the need to fill.

Goodness this story took me by surprise. It’s powerful in demonstrating the complexities of relationships. You are in for a true reading adventure as Winters steers you in one direction and deliciously changes course unexpectedly.

The ending is a surprise while nonetheless brilliant. Your eyes are wide open as you experience a halting ugly time in history. Panic, death, fear, ignorance, all palpable. A time in history when influenza and uber patriotism was epidemic both causing innocent casualties. Extremely fast paced, the story will find you feverishly turning the pages with unrestrained enthusiasm. The twist creates one amazing read.

“It belonged to us, and nothing could take it away—even though those cruel years of war and disease seemed to have stolen everything else that once was ours.”

About Cat Winters42064

Cat Winters’s debut novel, In the Shadow of Blackbirds, was released to widespread critical acclaim. The novel has been named a finalist for the 2014 Morris Award, a School Library Journal Best Book of 2013, and a Booklist 2013 Top 10 Horror Fiction for Youth. Winters lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband and two children.

Find out more about Cat at her website, and follow her on tumblr, Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter.

Giveaway

Enter for a chance to win a copy of The Uninvited , please complete the giveaway form below. Open to US residents only. Ends 8/27/15
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Thrilled to be included in the tour for Cat Winters’ The Uninvited. Be sure to click on the TLC banner to check out the entire tour schedule. Thank you TLC!

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4 Comments

Filed under 2015, August, Fiction, Review