Posted in reviews

Fear and Longing in Los Angeles (A Canadian Werewolf Novel) by Mark Leslie Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A successful author who also must contend with the curse of the lycanthrope travels to LA to assist in the script for one of his books latest adaptions, and comes across a mysterious woman and B-Movie nightmares in author Mark Leslie’s “Fear and Longing in Los Angeles”, the latest in the author’s acclaimed series, “A Canadian Werewolf”. 

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The Synopsis

WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE.

If New York is the city that never sleeps, then L.A. is the city where you have to sleep with one eye open.

Michael Andrews learns quickly that it’s not just the cut-throat world of Hollywood you need to fear. There’s something deeper, darker, and far more disturbing lurking just beneath the shadows of the city, waiting for any moment of vulnerability to grab you by the throat.

An extended trip to Los Angeles to be on set for the movie adaptation of his latest novel leads Michael into a twisted and macabre underworld where he becomes entangled with an intriguing, sexy, and mysterious woman. At times she seems just what he needs in order to finally get over the unrequited love of his ex-girlfriend; but at other times, she appears to be the gateway to a Pandora’s box of B-movie nightmares.

Can he trust her? Can he trust himself with her?

Michael’s supernatural wolf-enhanced powers and special abilities might not be enough to survive this particular harsh and gritty jungle and the unique and deadly predators that crawl out of the shadows.

The Review

This was a truly engaging and entertaining read. The author has crafted a unique world full of paranormal creatures and relatable characters. Although I am a newcomer to this series, the author writes in a way that allows each book to stand on its own while creating a new layer to the mythos the author has crafted for this series. 

The protagonist is the heart of this story. While many of the side characters add depth to the narrative, the beating heart is Michael’s journey. Balancing his supernatural powers and gifts with the more emotional core of his story, from the heartbreak of his relationship with Gail to meeting the mysterious and alluring Lex as he navigates the dark underbelly of Los Angeles makes his story really shine brightly. Pair this with the underscoring of political themes as a group of hateful domestic terrorists begins attacking the citizens of LA, and you have a fantastic new horror and action thriller.

The Verdict

A brilliant, action-packed, and emotionally driven thriller, author Mark Leslie’s “Fear and Longing in Los Angeles” is the perfect next chapter in the Canadian Werewolf series. The story immediately draws the reader in, and the twists and turns Michael’s story takes as he becomes closer and closer with Lex and gets involved in stopping this cult/terrorist organization makes for entertaining journey readers won’t be able to put down. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Mark is a writer, editor and bookseller who was born and grew up in Sudbury, spent many years in Ottawa and Hamilton and currently lives in Waterloo, Ontario.

When he is not writing, he tacks “Lefebvre” back onto his name and works as a book industry consultant, having been a bookseller since the 1992, the same year his first short story was published.

Apart from publishing novels and non-fiction paranormal explorations under the name Mark Leslie, having works occasionally appearing on his mother’s refrigerator door under the name Mark Lefebvre, and podcasting and consulting about the book industry under the name Mark Leslie Lefebvre for his Stark Publishing/Stark Reflections brand, Mark is a lover of craft beer.

When he’s not enjoying craft beer or playing around with his three given names, he can usually be found wandering, awestruck through bookstores or libraries. 

http://markleslie.ca/

Posted in reviews

The Hands We’re Given (Aces High, Jokers Wild #1) by O.E. Tearmann Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A lone commander leading a rebellion is the last hope for a ragtag group of fighters as they fight a war against the seven corporations that make up the former United States in author O.E. Tearmann’s “The Hand’s We’re Given”, the first book in the Aces High, Jokers Wild series.

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The Synopsis

Aidan Headly never wanted to be the man giving orders. That’s fine with the Democratic State Force base he’s been assigned to command: they don’t like to take orders. Nicknamed the Wildcards, they used to be the most effective base against the seven Corporations owning the former United States in a war that has lasted over half a century. Now the Wildcards are known for creative insubordination, chaos, and commanders begging to be reassigned. Aidan is their last chance. If he can pull off his assignment as Commander and yank his ragtag crew of dreamers and fighters together, maybe they can get back to doing what they came to do: fighting for a country worth living in.

Life’s a bitch. She deals off the bottom of the deck. But you play the hands you’re given.

The Review

This is a fantastic dystopian sci-fi world the author has created. The immediate thing that will jump out at readers is the fact that the author has naturally incorporated LGBTQ characters and romances into the narrative, navigating the difficulty of not only being a transgender man in a military unit but also exploring relationships within that military command.

These deeply personal and emotional bonds between the characters are expertly balanced with some true action and dystopian story elements. The notion of corporations taking control of the United States is not as far from reality as most of us would like it to be, and this touches upon a lot of those fears. 

The action and undercover operations the Wildcards pull off is entertaining, and the way the author explores how sometimes a group who breaks the rules and mold of the classic military setup can accomplish what others could not really resonate with so many people that readers won’t be able to help themselves from identifying with these characters.

The Verdict

Thrilling, emotional, and engaging science fiction and dystopian read with a wonderful mix of LGBTQ and MM romance, author O.E. Tearmann’s “The Hands We’re Given” is the perfect start to the Aces High, Jokers Wild series. A must-read narrative, the story continuously keeps the reader invested and makes for an original and creative new direction for the sci-fi and dystopian genres. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

O.E. Tearmann is the author of the Aces High, Jokers Wild series. Their books include strong themes of diversity and found family, providing a surprisingly hopeful take on a dystopian future. Bringing their own experiences as a marginalized author together with flawed but genuine characters, Tearmann’s work has been described as “Firefly for the dystopian genre.” Publisher’s Weekly called it “a lovely paean to the healing power of respectful personal connections among comrades, friends, and lovers.”

Tearmann lives in Colorado with two cats, their partner, and the belief that individuals can make humanity better through small actions. They are a member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, the Colorado Resistance Writers and the Queer Scifi group. In their spare time, they teach workshops about writing GLTBQ characters, speak and plant gardens to encourage sustainable agricultural practices, and play too many video games.

https://www.oetearmann.com/

Posted in Interviews

Interview with Author Shane Wilson

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I’m not so sure there is an easy answer to that question. I honestly feel like I’ve always been writing. When I was a kid, my parents bought me a typewriter, and I would use it to practice spelling—asking my mother how to spell the biggest and most complex words my young mind could muster. As she recited the letters, I would peck them out on the clacking keys. I remember writing stories and putting them in those folders with the three tabs down the spine. I would even draw covers and glue them to the front. In short, writing and stories have always been a part of my life, and I honestly can’t remember a time when I wasn’t doing something at least adjacent to writing. 

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

This second novel, The Smoke in His Eyes, grew out of a thought-experiment inspired by my first novel, A Year Since the Rain. When that first novel was published, I had a real serious bout with imposter syndrome. I became fascinated with the creative impulse. I was asking myself what it is that drives some of us to make art and a smaller group of us to find ways to share that art with as many people as possible. This line of questioning led me to this book and these characters. I explored the different reasons why we create through the different artists in the book. Some of us want financial gain, some of us are in it for the pursuit of craft, some of us just want to make art with no desire to share it with the world. These different worldviews are explored in the novel. 

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I think I want people to come away from the book with a curiosity about their own creativity. I think we all possess some kind of creative spirit, and as much as the book explores creativity through the lens of visual art and music, I think the exploration of creativity can be applied to any creative process.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I studied magical realism extensively in college. I wrote my master’s thesis on Salman Rushdie’s fiction, and I just spent a large chunk of my life reading those works. I think we tend to absorb the things we consume into our own styles, so when I started writing long-form fiction, it just drifted into the realm of magical realism/ contemporary fantasy. I’m drawn to the unique ways the genre can explore human experience by contrasting realistic characters and settings against the unexplainable. 

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

I would probably sit with TJ and ask for guitar lessons. I learned to play the guitar while I was writing the book so I could approach something of a genuine description of that experience, but he’s still a better player than me. I could learn a few things from him, for sure.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

I think I’ve probably poured more time into Facebook than it’s worth, but it’s so good for promoting events, and live events is really where I’ve been able to develop readership. In terms of straight-up readership growth, though, I’ve probably done the best with Twitter (@thatshanewilson).

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Your book or story or poem or song will never be done until you finish it. If you toy with the idea of writing, and you are no absolutely compelled to do it, you probably shouldn’t. I think of how Rainer Maria Rilke addressed the young poet who wrote him for advice. Essentially, he told the young man that if he could imagine a life wherein he was not writing, then he should not write. In short, artists cannot imagine a life without their art, and if you can, then you should find something else to do with your time. Writing or any other kind of creative work is hard work. It has to be a passion that you pursue in a serious way. So, park your ass in the chair and get to work.

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my new album of original music, Of All the Things I’ve Ever Said, I Mean This the Most. It’s from my little acoustic bad, Sequoia Rising, and it’s all singer-songwritery/ folk/ Americana goodness. The songs are personal and thoughtful and reflective, and it’s streaming wherever music streams. I hope people check that out. I’m pretty proud of it. 

Otherwise, it looks like a new novel might be out in 2022, so I’m not saying much about that right now. If anybody wants to keep up with what’s going on with my, I’m all over the socials at @thatshanewilson and my website is http://www.shanewilsonauthor.com.

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About the Author

Born in Alabama and raised in Georgia, Shane is a child of the southeastern United States where he feels simultaneously at-home and out-of-place. He graduated from Valdosta State University in south Georgia with a Masters in English. He taught college English in Georgia for four years before moving to North Carolina in 2013.

No matter the temperature outside, there is always an iced coffee in his hand when he walks into class in the mornings. He tends to chase the day with a whiskey and a re-run of The Office.

Shane has published poetry in Tethered by Letters and the Stonepile Writers’ Anthology, Volume III. He is currently at work on a new novel as well as a collection of short stories based on the mythos of and set in the same town as A Year Since the Rain.

https://www.shanewilsonauthor.com/

Posted in Interviews

Interview with Author V.S. Holmes

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I’ve always been a storyteller and a story-finder. Growing up in the woods without other kids drove me to constantly search for other’s stories, other’s lives, specifically through fiction and imagination. This progressed naturally into writing and my day job as an archaeologist. It was in university that, after years of research, I first decided to take the plunge and write professionally. 

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

Travelers, the first in my Stars Edge: Nel Bently Books, began as a dual POV between an archaeologist and one of the people whose life she was studying from 13,000 years before. I realized pretty quickly that the latter was not my story to tell, so I flipped it forward and explored what would happen if some of those people were abducted and returned thousands of years later. I also wanted to debunk the racist ideas behind “ancient aliens” theories while still combining science fiction and archaeology. On a larger scale, all of Nel’s stories explore the ideas about how where we come from impacts where we’re going, and decolonizing archaeology and science. 

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

Heretics is the fourth in Nel’s series of adventures, and with this one Nel returns to Earth in an attempt to save her planet from killer sound waves. She’s suddenly straddling the line between coming home and being a fish out of water. It’s the place that made her, but now she no longer fits in the space she left. A lot of my work focuses on how we differ from others’ expectations–and often our own. This is a theme that’s very dear to me as a queer person. On a more intimate level, I hope readers can learn with Nel as she finds the root of her anger, and navigates her complicated relationship with Lin. 

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

Sci-fi and fantasy were the first places I saw characters like me, so I naturally gravitated toward that when I started writing my own work. Speculative fiction for me has always been a place of solace and hope. When we’re creating worlds from the ground up, we’re able to envision a world we want, or a world we’re afraid of ours becoming. Because of this, I can create worlds where I see more people like myself, and fight the battles I can’t fight in our own world.

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

Oh this is tough! I’d imagine most of them would have some pretty damning comments to make about what I put them through. Ultimately, though, I’d love to have a nice long chat with Phil–Philos, one of the sentient computers rooted in a man’s head held in stasis. I think it would be fascinating to discuss the science and ethics behind becoming a computer. As a trans and disabled person, conversations around body modification, cyborgization, and transhumanism are really fascinating.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Twitter has, hands-down, been the best site for me. Though it does suffer from some of the same algorithmic issues as other social sites, it’s still easier to curate than many others. Through Twitter I’ve found not just an incredible community of fellow SFF authors, but one of the most welcoming places for queer and disabled people, especially since I don’t have access to those communities, or the freedom of being fully out, where we live.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

There’s a lot of writing advice out there, but the process is going to be different for every author, and honestly every project. I think it’s important to try a lot of different things and find what works best for you and what you’re currently working on. One of the pieces I wish I’d realized earlier is finding out who you are as a writer, as a creator, and then doing it on purpose. And not being afraid of that changing. 

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

So many projects! I’m currently drafting Fugitives, the fifth of Nel’s books (there will be a total of six) and outlining/drafting my next fantasy series. It takes place within my Blood of Titans world, but follows some new and side characters. 

I’m also working on a complicated, queer, gothic fantasy that might just be the darkest, sexiest, most raw thing I’ve written to date. Regardless, it’s a bit different from most of my other work and I’m enjoying stretching my creative muscles!

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About V. S. HOLMES

V. S. Holmes is an international bestselling author. They created the BLOOD OF TITANS series and the NEL BENTLY BOOKS. Smoke and Rain, the first book in their fantasy quartet, won New Apple Literary’s Excellence in Independent Publishing Award in 2015 and a Literary Titan Gold in 2020. Travelers is also included in the Peregrine Moon Lander mission as part of the Writers on the Moon Time Capsule. In addition, they have published short fiction in several anthologies.

As a disabled and non-binary human, they work as an advocate and educator for representation in SFF worlds. When not writing, they work as a contract archaeologist throughout the northeastern U.S. They live in a Tiny House with their spouse, a fellow archaeologist, their not-so-tiny dog, and own too many books for such a small abode.

LINKS:

Site: www.vsholmes.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/VS_Holmes

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorvsholmes/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/vs_holmes/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/vs-holmes

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/v-s-holmes

Posted in Interviews

Interview with Author Jennifer Anne Gordon

Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

Hello! Thanks for having me for the interview. My name is Jennifer Anne Gordon, and up until the pandemic started, I was a professional Ballroom dancer and performer. I live in New Hampshire with my amazing husband and our silly dog. I love travelling and photography, specifically photography of abandoned and haunted places. 

I have always in some way, or another been a writer, even when I was small. I would write short stories and little plays that I would force my mother to act out with me. As I got older, I focused more on poetry as well as publishing an indie comic and I did some freelance journalism as well. 

I always wanted to write a novel, but somewhere along the way I lost confidence. A few years ago, I decided to reclaim that confidence and just try writing a novel, I had no idea how it would go, if it would work but it did. The novel I wrote was called Beautiful, Frightening, and Silent and that went on to win the Kindle Award for Best Horror novel for 2020, as well as became a finalist for several other awards.

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What inspired you to write your book?

There are always stories in my head, they play there like a movie. The real inspiration comes when I can’t hold them in any longer. My latest book “When the Sleeping Dead Still Talk” is the second part to my Victorian Horror series “The Hotel”. It follows the story of Francis who was a supporting character in “From Daylight to Madness”. He, Francis was my inspiration, I felt so strongly about him and knew that there was so much more to him that I could not explore in the first book that I knew I had to tell his story. The character is very much a mystery. He is very enigmatic in the first novel, and “Sleeping Dead” gives the readers a chance to take a very deep dive into his psyche. It reads like 200 pages of poetic nightmare.

What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I think as a horror writer I want people to see beyond the genre to the emotions that cause “the horror”. In this novel it concentrates on childhood trauma, and grief. I am not sure if it is a message, but I do like to explore grief in my horror. There are people who may not think they like horror, I don’t think that there is anyone who has never experienced grief. So, in many ways, the books are a pleasurable terror as they can act as a love letter to loss. “When the Sleeping Dead Still Talk” is also in many ways a love story, so there is an element f transcendence to the story, and the question of what it means to love someone, what if that person is dead? What if that person you love is a hallucination? Do these things discount it as real love? 

What drew you into this particular genre?

I like to blame it on the fact that I ‘accidentally read” Pet Sematary by Stephen King when I was 10, but I think my fascination with all things “dark” must have started before that. I lived pretty close to a cemetery and the neighborhood kids would play there (there and the power lines). I also think that living in New England must have played a part in it as well. New England is very proud of their ghost stories. There is also the fact that the Salem Witch Trials took place near by and when we were little, we were taken to places like the Witch Museum, or the House of Seven Gables on School trips. There was always something intoxicating about the “what if” behind all of these stories that sent chills down my spine. I always go back to the same words. Pleasurable Terror.

If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

This is a great question. I think I would have to say I would want to sit down with my character Agnes, who was a supporting character in From Daylight to Madness, as well as When the Sleeping Dead Still Talk (she has a larger role in that book) and ask her specifically about what was going through her mind the “first” time she shot her father. I would love to know what she thought of as she pulled the trigger, and then find out what went through her mind when he lived. (I am referencing a specific thing in the novel From Daylight to Madness, a comment that a character makes about her.) Then after that I guess I would ask her if she has enough story for me to write a book about her … because I keep coming back to her in my head.

What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

For me it has been Facebook. I know some authors swear by Twitter or Instagram, but for me it’s Facebook. I think it helps that my podcast also streams live on Facebook so it is where I centralize my focus. I do love Instagram though, as a photographer it’s a great place to promote in a visual way.

What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Don’t let the insecurities in your head convince you that you can’t do something. I would also suggest to people starting out (and even not starting out) to never stop pushing yourself, write in other genres, take classes, experiment with style, write the story you want to write!

What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

Yes! I have a new novel being released this summer. I believe at the end of June or early July, I will know more soon. It is Literary Fiction with elements of ghost fiction, body horror, and some medical suspense, while still remaining very much a literary novel. It is called Pretty/Ugly.

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About the Author

Jennifer Anne Gordon is a Gothic horror novelist. Her work includes Beautiful, Frightening and Silent (2020) which won the Kindle Award for Best Horror/Suspense for 2020, and From Daylight to Madness (The Hotel book 1), and When the Sleeping Dead Still Talk (The Hotel book 2).

She had a collection of her mixed media artwork published during spring of 2020, entitled Victoriana: mixed media art of Jennifer Gordon

Jennifer is one of the hosts as well as the creator of Vox Vomitus, a video podcast on the Global Authors on the Air Network, as well as the Co-Host of the You Tube Channel “Talk Horror to Me”. She had been a contributor to Ladies of Horror Fiction, as well as Horror Tree.

Jennifer is a pale curly haired ginger, obsessed with horror, ghosts, abandoned buildings, and her dog “Lord Tubby”.

She graduated from the New Hampshire Institute of Art, where she studied Acting. She also studied at the University of New Hampshire with a concentration in Art History and English.

She has made her living as an actress, a magician’s assistant, a “gallerina”, a comic book dealer, a painter, and burlesque performer and for the past 10 years as an award-winning professional ballroom dancer, performer, instructor, and choreographer.

When not scribbling away (ok, typing frantically) she enjoys traveling with her fiancé and dance partner, teaching her dog ridiculous tricks (like ‘give me a kiss’ and ‘what hand is the treat in?’ ok these are not great tricks.) as well as taking photos of abandoned buildings and haunted locations.

She is a leo, so at the end of the day she just thinks about her hair.

https://www.jenniferannegordon.com/

Posted in Interviews

Interview with Author Jenna Greene

Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I think I was a writer right from the start. My parents have described me as a talker and wild story teller from the very beginning. Once second or third grade hit, I was able to really write and develop the little tales I came up with. I remember penning a story for my fourth grade class on my mom’s old typewriter. I kind of miss the bings and clicks it made. Anyway, I’ve been writing ever since.

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What inspired you to write your book?

The inspiration for REBORN came from my annoyance with my freckles, a thought gathered at a writer’s conference, and my mother’s illness. All three elements combined beautifully to create a unique tale.

What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I hope readers learn to not judge others based on superficial qualities. I hope they learn to listen more and judge less, and to seek similarities rather than differences between themselves and others.

What drew you into this particular genre?

The first book I ever penned was a YA … and I was YA. I was seventeen at the time ideas for my IMAGINE series entered my brain. Add to that the fact that I eventually became a teacher and worked with teenagers… ta da!

If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

I would want to talk to Ceera, as she is the youngest. Youth have different perspectives on what is occurring, and they are very pure in their thoughts and emotions.

What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Well, I’m a bit old-school, so Facebook is my main avenue for communication. But I’ve been branching out to Twitter and Instagram. I guess my nieces will eventually convince me to embrace Tik Tok.

What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Just write. Yes, some of it will not be good, but the only way to get better is to practice. And the best thing is to keep going, and not constantly re-read what you just wrote over and over again. You need a bit of distance from your writing. It’s better to let the words have a moment to themselves before you analyze them. And keep in mind, all rough drafts look quite, well, rough.

What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

The sequel to REBORN is edited and right now my publisher is working on formatting and cover design. I’m super excited to see how fans react to this continued journey for Lexil, Finn, and other characters. As well, I have a picture book in development, and I am thrilled to see a story for a younger readership reach the shelves.

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About the Author

Jenna Greene is a writer, podcaster, teacher, clumsy dancer, dragonboat coach, and semi-professional napper. She’s also the co-host of “Quill and Ink: A Podcast for Book Lovers” with Miranda Oh.

www.facebook.com/jennabutrenchukgreene

www.jennagreene.ca

Posted in Blog Tours, Book Events, reviews

But First, Rumi by Chitra Ramaswami Review & Guest Post

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A woman searching for answers after a shocking medical diagnosis meets a stray cat in need of help find one another and helps the woman find answers she didn’t even realize she was seeking in author Chitra Ramaswami’s “But First, Rumi”. 

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The Synopsis

When Chitra discovered a stray cat in need of help, she never thought they’d wind up saving each other. Struggling to come to terms with an unexpected diagnosis, Chitra returned home to Oman seeking a sense of familiarity. What she discovered instead was a very special cat who changed her life. But First, Rumi is the story of how, day by day, Rumi and Chitra got to know one another, and as she learned to love the little stray, she began to see greater life lessons about herself, her family, her home country and her place in the world. 

What unfolds when girl and cat meet? What happens when you follow your heart? What if the world is not as it seems? Is it worth taking a chance? 

The Review

This was an emotional, heartfelt read that the author has shared with us. This memoir immediately clicked with me from the start, as someone who has experienced autoimmune disease and sudden health scares, I found myself identifying with the author. The balance of memoir and reflection the author implements into the narrative are not only well-written but speak of an honest approach to life itself that many of us can either identify with or seek to include in our lives moving forward.

The other half of this amazing story is the impact of finding and opening her heart up to this stray cat. Rumi’s story is paired with the reality of stray cats within Oman, showcasing how different felines are viewed there as opposed to the West. Trying to peel back the layers of superstitions and fear that many people have of the animals, the author showcases how love and compassion for these creatures are not only essential to their survival and perseverance within Oman, but how beneficial pets, in general, can be to a person’s physical and emotional well-being also. 

The Verdict

A remarkable, emotional, and engaging memoir, author Chitra Ramaswami’s “But First, Rumi” is a must-read book. An honest look into themes such as health, both physical and mental, and the impact pets can have on a person’s life, this story is heartfelt and speaks to many readers out there, making this a truly remarkable, short yet powerful read. If you haven’t yet, make sure you grab your own copy of “But First, Rumi” today!

Rating: 10/10

But First, Rumi is available to purchase now on Amazon.com.

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About the Author, Chitra Ramaswami

Chitra Ramaswami was born and raised in the Middle East by Indian parents, and her childhood was spent reading every book she could lay her hands on or writing stories and lines of poetry. As a result of traveling the world extensively and being a natural linguist, she is an amalgamation of many cultures and tastes and is constantly looking for the next experience she can immerse herself in. When she isn’t writing, Chitra rides horses, climbs mountains and is a passionate advocate for the Omani Mau/ street cat. She currently lives in New York with her husband and a very spoiled cat and hamster duo. 

Find her online at:

Author’s website: https://cramaswami.com/ 

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Author Chitra Ramaswami’s Guest Blog Post: The Purrfect therapist

With the best PR in place, dogs are the title holders of therapy animals with more Google search results and more therapy programs working exclusively with them. Say the words “Therapy animal” and a ready image of a dog wearing a vest comes to mind.

But what about Cats? 

Meh. Aloof. Unexpressive. Anti-social. Want you only if they need you. 

Hmmm. Aren’t we being a tad bit unfair? 

I say we have a closer look at what contribution our feline friends have made to people’s psychological health, shall we?

Let’s start with:

  • Abner, an Abyssinian is popularly known as the rockstar of pet therapy cats. His daily duties consist of visiting the retirement community at Bayview, Queen Anne in Seattle. His superpower is the ability to make seniors live in the present, forget their loneliness or lack of family, and focus their attention on him. Works like a charm for all parties involved!
  • Thula, a water-loving Maine coon changed the life of Iris, a 6-year-old autistic girl for the better after her failed interactions with therapy dogs, horses, and rabbits. Before Thula, Iris’s crippling anxiety instilled a fear of water in her. This however changed and Iris took to swimming with Thula accompanying her in the pool. Thula also helped Iris relax enough to resume her normal sleep cycle which was nonexistent before her arrival. Besides, Iris also resumed homeschooling activities and reached verbal milestones. The duo has been inseparable since their first meeting. 
  • The Meow mates & Mutt mates program in the Allendale correctional institute in South Carolina pairs dogs and you heard right – CATS with inmates and accompany them 24/7. Sharing common life experiences like having lived on the streets, abuse, etc. with their assigned feline helps the inmates experience hope and companionship like never before.
  • Duke Ellington is a rescue cat who regularly visits the ICU at USCF and is eagerly awaited by both staff and patients alike. His calm demeanor has a great impact on alleviating symptoms of stress and depression of the inpatients. Also, seeing a cat being wheeled around in a hospital never fails to bring a smile to onlookers!

However, are these cats few and far between? 

Let’s see what science has to say about the feline-mental health link:

  • Anti-social – Think again: Contrary to popular belief, cats are social animals. They have the ability to be just as attached to humans as dogs. Unfortunately, lesser studies are done on this bond with felines. 
  • Precious Purrs: Cat purrs have a gamma-ray frequency same as meditation waves, thereby lending a calming effect to those beside them. Cats have a calming effect on people with Alzheimer’s disease too and serve as a mood booster too.
  • Research catching up: According to various recent studies, there’s increasing evidence showing cat owners of various ages being happier, focused, and feeling less isolated.
  • Pet away: Stroking a cat rhythmically aids in emotional regulation and subconsciously teach those suffering with anxiety, panic disorders or PTSD to calm themselves down. 
  • ESA advantage: If your cat qualifies as your emotional support animal (ESA), they get to accompany you on the flight without a ticket and live in apartments where pets may not be allowed otherwise. All you need is a letter from your mental health professional. 

So, are some cat breeds better suited to play therapists? We don’t have all the answers yet. But The good news is more research is on its way. 

In the meanwhile, would you like to read the story of a special feline named Rumi? By the way, he has all the qualities of the purrfect therapist!

To read the memoir, But First, Rumi – please click on the link below:

But First, Rumi is available worldwide on Amazon as e-book and paperback. Also available in select bookstores.

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– Blog Tour Dates

March 15th @ WOW! Women on Writing 

Join us at the WOW blog, The Muffin, to celebrate the launch of Chitra Ramaswami’s book But First, Rumi. You can read an interview with the author, find out more information about this touching memoir, and win a copy for yourself! 

https://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com

March 16th @ Hook of a Book 

Join Erin as she shares a guest post by the author about Omani street cats.

http://www.hookofabook.wordpress.com 

March 20th @ Boots Shoes and Fashion 

Visit Linda’s blog to read her interview with author, Chitra Ramaswami about her book But First, Rumi

http://bootsshoesandfashion.com 

March 20th @ Pages and Paws

Visit Kristine’s blog today to read her review of But First, Rumi by Chitra Ramaswami.

https://pagesandpaws.com

March 21st @ Shoe’s Seeds & Stories 

Visit Linda’s blog today to read her review and spotlight for But First, Rumi by Chitra Ramaswami. 

https://lschuelerca.wordpress.com

March 25th @ Keeping it Real 

Join Lisa as she shares a guest post by the author about how to get past writer’s block. 

https://www.lisambuske.com/

March 26th @ Author Anthony Avina 

Visit Anthony’s blog as he shares a guest post about cats and mental health and reviews But First, Rumi by Chita Ramaswami. 

http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com 

March 28th @ The Faerie Review 

Visit Lily’s blog where she interviews author Chitra Ramaswami. 

https://www.thefaeriereview.com/

March 29th @ Beverley A. Baird’s Blog 

Join Bev as she shares her thoughts about But First, Rumi by Chitra Ramaswami. 

https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/

March 30th @ Lisa’s Reading 

Visit Lisa’s blog where she reviews But First, Rumi by Chitra Ramaswami. 

http://lisasreading.com/ 

April 1st @ Knotty Needle 

Visit Judy’s blog and read her review of this touching memoir for pet lovers, But First, Rumi. You can also win a copy of the book too! 

http://knottyneedle.blogspot.com/ 

April 5th @ Reviews and Interviews

Join Lisa as she interviews author Chitra Ramaswami about her book But First, Rumi.

https://lisahaselton.com/blog/

April 5th @ Note to the World

Come by Mahnoor’s blog today and read the review of But First, Rumi by Chitra Ramaswami.

https://www.notetotheworld.com/

April 7th @ It’s Alanna Jean 

Join Alanna as she shares a guest post by Chitra Ramaswami about the misconceptions about cats. https://itsalannajean.webnode.com/

April 13th @ Deborah-Zenha Adams 

Join Deborah as she shares a guest post about writing process by the author of But First, Rumihttp://www.deborah-adams.com 

Posted in Blog Tours, Book Events, reviews

Bittersweet Legacy (The Patricians #1) By R.G. Angel Audiobook Review/Tour

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young woman’s world is turned upside down as she learns she is part of a family she never knew existed, and must navigate a world of lies, conspiracy and murder in author R.G. Angel’s “Bittersweet Legacy”, the first book in The Patricians series.

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The Synopsis

You don’t realize when your life is about to change forever, how a simple text can tear your world apart.

Esme Danvers doesn’t have an easy life but at least she is loved by her widower father… or at least that’s who she thought he was for 17 years. Enter William Forbes, top 10 of America’s 1% and her actual father – or rather the father of Esmeralda Forbes, the girl she was born to be, the heir to a legacy she’d never known or wanted.

Esme’s thrown into a world of glamour and money, smoke and mirrors, hate, pain and unspoken rancor. A world with a distant, calculating and uncaring father; Archibald, a brother who hates her; and Caleb, his best friend who is as wicked and mean as he is beautiful and charismatic.

Caleb, this broken boy whom she can’t seem to hate enough to keep him out of her bloodstream, a boy who doesn’t seem to hate her enough to stay away.

But as the past reveals itself in ways Esme didn’t expect, she finds herself in the middle of a swirl of lies, betrayals, conspiracy and even murder, with barely anyone to watch her back.

The only thing she really wants is to get back to being Esme Danvers, to find a way out before it’s too late.

The Review

This was a fantastic story. The author immediately does an incredible job of layering the mystery and suspense of the narrative, creating a protagonist many people could relate to and throwing her into a whirlwind of psychological and emotional upheavals that drastically change the course of her life. 

The narrator does an amazing job of bringing this story to life. Readers and listeners really can feel the protagonist’s struggle and emotional journey. The story plays out like a blend of Cruel Intentions meets Pretty Little Liars, expertly navigating the YA genre while artfully crafting a suspense thriller that both entertained and engaged the reader on multiple levels. 

The Verdict

A thrilling, breathtaking and shocking yet fun read, author R.G. Angel’s “Bittersweet Legacy” is a must-read YA suspense novel. The audiobook does a great job of implementing emotional storytelling with a brilliant sense of imagery. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy of this audiobook today and read for yourself how this shocking first novel ends in a massive cliffhanger. 

Rating: 10/10

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Author: R.G. Angel

Narrator: Stevi Incremona

Length: 8 hours 14 minutes

Series: The Patricians, Book 1

Publisher: Angel Production

Released: Nov. 24, 2020

Genre: Romance; New Adult

Continue reading “Bittersweet Legacy (The Patricians #1) By R.G. Angel Audiobook Review/Tour”
Posted in reviews

Who’s Your Daddy by Arisa White Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Author and Poet Arisa White uses poetry and creative nonfiction to tackle important topics such as paternal absences and toxic masculinity in her book, “Who’s Your Daddy”.

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The Synopsis 

Who’s Your Daddy?, a hybrid memoir combining poetry and creative nonfiction, is a meditation on paternal absences, intergenerational trauma, and toxic masculinity. Who’s Your Daddy? asks us to consider how the relationships we are born into can govern us, even through absence, and shape the dynamics we find and forge as we grow. White lyrically moves across distance and time, from Brooklyn to California to Guyana. Her book enacts rituals that plumb the interior reaches of the heart to assemble disconnected and estranged parts into something whole, tender, and strong.

The Review

This was a truly powerful and moving read. The author takes readers on an emotional journey through her life, yet captures the important moments through some incredibly captivating prose and poetry. The journey for the author to learn more about her father and subsequently herself was felt in every passage and every page of this book.

The author’s way of writing is not only inviting and engaging with the reader but feels like a natural conversation throughout a lot of this book. Readers can really get a sense of the author’s life as a young, queer, black-Guyanese/American woman through some intimate and personal passages that speak of many hardships the author and so many others have had to endure. From the childhood, the author lived in the United States to the journey to find an absent father and even having to hide who she is while in a nation that condemns those who don’t love the people that the nation says they should love, this book packs a lot of important topics and themes into such a short read, yet still makes for a powerful impact. 

The Verdict

A must-read memoir and poetry book, author Arisa White’s “Who’s Your Daddy” is memorable, impactful, and heartfelt all at once. An insightful look into the journey to discover the author’s past, their parentage, and who they are, readers will not be able to put this book down and will be returning to it long after they have finished reading it. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

ARISA WHITE is a Cave Canem fellow, Sarah Lawrence College alumna, an MFA graduate from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and author of the poetry chapbooks Disposition for Shininess, Post Pardon, Black Pearl, Perfect on Accident, and “Fish Walking” & Other Bedtime Stories for My Wife won the inaugural Per Diem Poetry Prize. Published by Virtual Artists Collective, her debut full-length collection, Hurrah’s Nest, was a finalist for the 2013 Wheatley Book Awards, 82nd California Book Awards, and nominated for a 44th NAACP Image Awards. Her second collection, A Penny Saved, inspired by the true-life story of Polly Mitchell, was published by Willow Books, an imprint of Aquarius Press in 2012. Her latest full-length collection, You’re the Most Beautiful Thing That Happened, was published by Augury Books and nominated for the 29th Lambda Literary Awards. Most recently, Arisa co-authored, with Laura Atkins, Biddy Mason Speaks Up, a middle-grade biography in verse on the midwife and philanthropist Bridget “Biddy” Mason, which is the second book in the Fighting for Justice series. She is currently co-editing, with Miah Jeffra and Monique Mero, the anthology Home is Where You Queer Your Heart, which will be published by Foglifter Press in 2021. And forthcoming in February 2021, from Augury Books, her poetic memoir Who’s Your Daddy.