Interview with Author Young-Im Lee

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. Tell us about what inspired your novel?
Having spent about 20 years outside of my passport country, I identify as a third culture kid. My parents are Korean and our entire family relocated to Manila, Philippines when I was about one. I spent much of my childhood on the outskirts of Manila where poverty and affluence could be seen side by side. Thinking back, I had an amazing childhood, and certainly a lively one–something I subconsciously missed when I got to Seoul, the big concrete jungle that felt oddly foreign, despite Korea being my “home” country. This novel stems from this sudden change in my life. I have had the chance to live with my grandmother, as well as become part of Korean society and over the past 7 years or so, I have been able to process my childhood and my life as an adult. A major theme in my book is about feeling trapped in our adult lives, as compared to how we imagine our childhood or even the previous generation we often view as having lived in the “good old days.” I channeled these feelings and perhaps even some of my discontent and also my gratitude into this novel that I hoped will be an accurate emotional depiction of modern-day Korea as contrasted with the Korea my grandmother experienced during the Korean War (1950-1953). 
2) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?
As much as this book is about South and North Korea, I wrote the novel mainly to highlight the universal human experience of coming-of-age–of war and of love in this fast-changing world we live in. I hope that readers will be able to see past the foreign landscape into the hearts of people who were living each day as it came at a very difficult time in history and understand that despite the passing of time, we live much in the same way and ultimately have very similar desires in life. 
3) What drew you into this particular genre?
Historical Fiction hasn’t always been my favorite genre. I’ve spent a large portion of my adult life reading so-called “classical works’ for university that I must admit, I haven’t had a whole lot of time reading various genres in popular fiction. I have always enjoyed books and films that bring the past and present together and that employ elements of magical realism such as Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. 
4) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?
Dae-Gun is a lively and often humorous character with seemingly simple motives. But there were moments while writing this story that showed great depth to his character. As an orphan boy who often finds kinship with people who are not related (and with people who may not find his company appealing), he seems to be a person too keen on making friends and on finding the next meal. However, the sacrifices he is willing to make and the genuine way he treats the people around him is certainly something I aspire to. There is a moment near the end of the story where Dae-Gun is given the chance to run away from the battle-torn Korea (and from the country that has left him an orphan) to follow his friend, Richard, to America. Yet, he doesn’t think twice about staying in Korea. I would love to sit down and ask him what made him decide to stay. I wonder if he ever regretted his decision. I have a feeling it has something to do with a girl; he is, after all, a simple boy. Yet, something tells me he would have given me a surprising answer. 
5) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?
There are many formulas out there and advice about how to write the best story and these are all helpful. But my advice is to live your life and do what inspires you. Channel this inspiration into concrete moments (or scenes) that feel real to you. If the moment doesn’t feel real, how can we expect the story in its entirety to feel real to our readers? Keep at it!
6) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?
I am very excited about what the future holds and this book has been a huge blessing in my life. While I have no immediate plans to publish another novel, this particular novel has opened up opportunities to study postcolonialism in an academic context. I will soon be heading to the States to continue my graduate studies. 
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The Leftover by Brooke Williams

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 reluctant journey into the world of reality television may just lead her to a mission of self discovery and possibly love in author Brooke Williams novel The Leftover. Here is the synopsis:

Megan Malone is the ultimate homebody. When her sister talks her into going on The Leftover, a local version of the TV show Survivor, she isn’t sure she’ll make it past the first vote. Cane Trevino is nursing a broken heart by joining the show as a medic. With time away from his regular job and a dozen contestants to distract him, he hopes he can finally get over the woman he thought was “the one.”

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This book was incredibly well written. A testament to both the author and her handle of the new adult/romance genres, the book does a great job of showing two people with self-confidence issues finding one another in the most unlikely of places. I heavily identified with the protagonist, Megan Malone. Her life as an introvert who works from home spoke to me greatly, as I personally suffer from social anxiety and have had trouble speaking to people in general, and so her journey to finding her voice and confidence is something I found myself clinging to throughout this novel.

The novel itself was a quick read. The only critique I had personally was just a matter of eBook formatting, but as my copy was a media copy I believe the formatting may have been fixed before publIshing to the public. The author did a masterful job of creating relatable characters and integrating the modern day reality television aspect of the plot in a natural and authentic way.

Overall I loved this book. The imagery and setting of this tale was incredibly vivid and easy to picture in my head, and the whirlwind romance Megan finds herself in is strong enough to keep the reader hooked until the final pages. If you haven’t yet, be sure to pick up your copy of The Leftover by Brooke Williams today!

 

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Rating: 8/10

 

Face your Demons (Tainted Blood #1) by Nina Hobson Review

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

A brutal horror story of a group of children terrorized by a monster straight out of humanity’s worst nightmares comes to life in author Nina Hobson’s novel “Face Your Demons”. Part of the Tainted Blood series, this book is filled with fast paced action, gruesome horror and a cliff-hanger ending you won’t be expecting. Here’s the synopsis:

Librarian’s note: This is an Alternate Cover Edition for ASIN: B0089PT018.

Jennifer’s young life has never been better. She has it all: family, friends and fun. That is until her terminally ill cousin comes to live with them setting in motion a horrific turn of events unlike anyone in the town of Cleveland has ever seen.

Oh yeah…and did she mention her best friend’s sister has a massive crush on her?

 

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This was one of the more unique horror tales I’ve read in recent years. The story reminded me of a more fast paced version of Stephen King’s IT, with a string of child murders plaguing a town and a group of pre-teen children facing this threat alone. The adults are all acting strange, and have dark secrets of their own. The horror of this tale is what really sells the story. The in your face scares and gory deaths solidify the horror heavy tale, while the character development between protagonist Jennifer and her friends helps bring a much needed human element to this supernatural tale.

The only criticism I would have is that while fast paced, this story does have moments of show vs. tell writing. I’d advise a slightly lengthier approach to garner that show quality storytelling that allows the reader to visualize the monsters for themselves. While the formatting itself did make some of the pages jumbled, I did receive an early copy of this book and therefore the formatting has most likely been improved since then.

Overall this was a very enjoyable horror tale. Filled with suspense, intense action horror scenes and a deepening plot that screams for more stories to be told, this was a fantastic first entry into the horror series. If you haven’t picked up your copies of Face Your Demons (Tainted Blood #1) by Nina Hobson, then do so today!

Rating: 8/10

 

 

Looking for Dei by David A. Wilson Review

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

A young woman learns her destiny is far greater than she could have imagined in author David A. Wilson’s Looking for Dei. A brand new YA Fantasy novel that is filled with magic, war torn countries and love, this brand new release is an amazing first novel in what I hope will become a full fledged series. Here is the synopsis:

Fifteen-year-old Nara Dall has never liked secrets. Yet it seems that her life has been filled with them, from the ugly scar on her back to the strange powers she possesses. Her mysterious father refuses to say anything about her origins, and soon, she and her best friend must attend the announcement ceremony, in which youths are tested for a magical gift.

A gifted youth has not been announced in the poor village of Dimmitt for decades. When Nara uncovers the reason, she uses her own powers to make things right. The decision sets her on a path of danger, discovery, and a search for the divine. In the process, she learns the truth about herself and uncovers the biggest secret of all: the power of broken people.

From the books first page we get a glimpse into the complex and chaotic world of this incredible read. A society where religion is law and your station in life is determined by a dangerous coming of age ceremony, this whole society has their world turned upside down by the power one young woman wields. The relationship between Nara and those around her is powerful and emotional, drawing the reader in with their connection to one another and the lengths to which each of them will go to fight for one another. This story is a coming of age tale to be sure, filled with betrayal, sorcery and a journey of self discovery the likes of which you’ve never read before. The story is filled with twists and turns galore, and by books end you will be on the edge of your seat, praying to Dei himself that the next book will magically appear in your hands.

Overall I loved this book. I thought the story does a great job of showcasing not only the power we all have within ourselves to rise above ordinary and become extraordinary in our own way, but it showed the way completely unrelated strangers could becoming a loving and caring family. It proves that blood doesn’t define you, but the bond you share with someone does. It’s a wonderful entry into what sounds like a promising fantasy series, and the writing was expertly crafted to create an intriguing and emotional tale that showcases just how much the author has mastered the genre. If you haven’t yet be sure to pick up your copy of Looking for Dei by David A. Wilson today!

Rating: 10/10

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/looking-for-dei/id1350253461?mt=11

 

Interview with Author Israfel Sivad

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

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always written. The first story I ever wrote was a sequel to Return of the Jedi after I saw that film as a little kid. I didn’t want the story to end. So, I kept it going. After my parents divorced, I started writing song lyrics every night to help me fall asleep. That’s when I first discovered how cathartic writing could be. I based the structures on all the lyrics I read on the liner notes of my cassette tapes. But it wasn’t until I graduated from high school, when I realized I was sick of playing in punk rock bands that I started taking my writing very seriously. I realized writing was how I communicated with the world, and I wanted to do that directly. I didn’t want my audience to have a mediated experience. I’ve modified that stance since then, but I’ve never not considered myself a writer since then.

2)     What inspired you to write your book?

The Adversary’s Good News was inspired by seeing a copy of Dante’s Inferno one morning. A roommate of mine had left it on the kitchen table. I’d recently finished my first novel, and I was looking for a new project. I took one glance at that book, and I realized, I’ve had visions of the afterlife. I want to write that story.

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

I want readers of The Adversary’s Good News to think about life and love and the value of both.

4)     What drew you into this particular genre?

With The Adversary’s Good News, I didn’t start with any particular genre in mind. As the story went on, I realized more and more that it was a kind of horror story. Since that was where the writing had naturally taken me, I decided to embrace it. I went back and reread Stephen King, Clive Barker and Dean Koontz for inspiration (in addition to the classics I was reading to help me construct a literary version of hell – Dante’s Inferno and Milton’s Paradise Lost). Once it was done, and I took a closer look at it, I decided it was its own kind of genre, which I refer to as “Literary Horror.”

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

If I could sit down with any character in my book, I’d sit down with Evius. As the impetus for the entire cavorting story, I’d want to know what makes him tick, why he acts the way he does. Why does he lead Christian on this journey through the afterlife, and is there any reason to his rhymes? Also, I’d like to know who he actually is. What’s his name? Where does he come from? Who is he, really?

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

Facebook and Instagram have definitely been the most instrumental. Each site has its own values, and its own abilities. But I’ve heard back from specific readers on both sites who have discovered my books there.

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

Don’t give up. Find a story you believe in. Write it and promote it. It’s worth getting your voice out there. It’s what “we” do.

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

More writing. Always. I have a new collection of poetry scheduled for release this summer. It’s called We Are the Underground, and I’m very excited about this collection. It includes my “Zodiac” cycle, which contains one poem for every sign in both the Western and Chinese zodiac systems; although, true to form for me, which one is which is not always the easiest to spot. That’s what I think makes the cycle so interesting, trying to figure out which poem represents you and your sign. Poems from this collection have recently appeared in The Stray Branch and Badlands Literary Journal. If this collection sounds like something you’re interested in, I urge you to join my mailing list at: https://tinyletter.com/IsrafelSivad. As a mailing list member, you’ll know precisely when We Are the Underground is released, and I’ll send you a link to purchase. Also, when you join, you’ll get a free copy of my selected poems in the member’s only collection Lunar Surfaces.

Author Bio:

Israfel Sivad is originally from Whittier, CA. He is the founder of Ursprung Collective, which has been referred to as “fantastic brain food” on ReverbNation. His first novel, Crossroads Blues, has been compared to the work of Fyodor Dostoevsky (Palmetto Review).​​ His second novel, The Adversary’s Good News, was a finalist for the 2016 Chanticleer Paranormal Book Award. His stories and poems have appeared in the Santa Fe Literary ReviewThe Stray Branch and Badlands Literary Journal.

 

Websites:
 
Israfel Sivad: www.IsrafelSivad.com
Mailing List/FREE Book: https://tinyletter.com/IsrafelSivad
Amazon Bookstore:  amazon.com/author/israfel-sivad

Blog Tour: The Pariah Child & The Ever-Giving Stone by Natasha D. Lane

Blurb:

When Sarah was four, she promised her mother she would be a good girl — a proper young lady in their small country town — and that she would ignore the creatures who appeared to her and whispered in her ear of things unknown. But like all creatures of myth and legend, they won’t be ignored forever.

Now thirteen, Sarah is attacked by a wolf with poisonous black fur and strange, human-looking eyes. With the help of a few unexpected friends, she manages to survive the attack but soon discovers the creatures have returned. They want Sarah to find a powerful gemstone and bring it to them in Lyrica, their magical homeworld.

Her new friends urge caution, however. There may be more monsters like the black wolf. And the creatures themselves are frightening. Can Sarah trust them? Stuck between reality and imagination, her mother’s wishes and her own desires, Sarah faces an impossible choice – break her promise or do nothing to save a world in peril.

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Interview with Author Natasha D. Lane

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

I started writing as a kid. I was probably in elementary school when I realized how much I loved writing. Eventually, it became an outlet for me. I took everything I had to hold inside and put it on paper. It started with poetry,then eventually grew to short stories, before I started my first novel. My middle school teacher Ms. Snyder was the one who saw my talent and pushed me to write my first novel. It was called (get ready for this) “An Imperfect Utopia.” Great title, right?

Anyway, I never stopped writing. I was traditionally published as a romance author in college and did that for several years, before returning to the genre that always held a special place in my heart: fantasy. Now, here I am with one of the first fantasy novels I have ever written ready to be published.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

So much! Life experiences, other stories, and just a simple desire to write.

“The Chronicles of Narnia” and the movie “Eragon” (I know, I know, it was a horrible adaption) gave me a lot of fuel to write my novel. I love the sense of pure adventure both stories have and I wanted to write something like that, too. At that time, most of the fantasy novels I read had heavy aspects of romance in them which I didn’t mind but I began to wonder what it would be like to read a story that focused on the journey and less on some love triangle, ya know?

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

Love yourself even when the world tells you that you’re somehow wrong or unlovable. Love yourself.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

Fantasy is a genre known for escapism. I think as a kid I wanted to escape from a lot of the crap that was happening. I was bullied at school and had very few good relationships with the adults in my life, so everywhere I looked there was this chaos, this negativity, and so much stuff out of my control. When I read fantasy I got to leave all of that behind.

I also got to leave some of the things I used to hate about myself behind. When I read fantasy novels I wasn’t a nerd or loser. I was a warrior going on a journey to save the world or a magician with hidden powers that no one understood. I felt like an underdog and fantasy novels are famous for turning the underdogs into the heroes of the tales.

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

Oh, good question! Hmmmm. If I had to pick, I think I’d sit down with Serwa. She’s one of the main characters in the story and a very powerful witch. I think I’d ask her how she manages to carry all the burdens she does and how she handles people’s misconceptions about her. I don’t want to go into too much detail because her background has more explanation in the sequel. However, I will say that Serwa is one of the most misunderstood characters in the series. She’s often viewed as mean or a monster when in reality she’s trying to do what she can to save everyone.

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

Twitter and Instagram are my favorite platforms. Specifically, Insta for readership but Twitter is good for branding and networking. I like Insta because it’s such a positive sight. Seems to me like it has less drama than other social media platforms.

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

“Write your way through life.” That’s my mantra because, like any form of art, writing is an outlet. When life gets tough (which it always does) write out all madness, the beauty, the good and the ugly. It’s a healthy form of expression.

Beyond that, I’d say take any marketing classes you can and build your platform now! The sooner you build your platform, the more opportunities you’ll have to test what works best for your brand and how best to develop it.

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

Lots of new projects. After “The Pariah Child & the Ever-Giving Stone” is released into the world, I plan on publishing my second novel. It’s tentatively titled “The Woman In the Tree” and is an Arthurian legend retelling that takes a different spin on how Arthur became king. I’m already writing the book, so it won’t be too long a wait.

Once that’s done, the sequel to The Pariah Child is next on my list.

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Author Bio

Natasha Lane enjoys reading a wide variety of genres, but fantasy has always been dear to her heart. After a brief stint in romance, Natasha’s returned to fantasy and currently has two works in the making. She plans on releasing her first fantasy novel “The Pariah Child & the Ever-Giving Stone” March 22, 2018.

Natasha hopes one day to be a well known published author, whose writing informs as well as entertains her reader.

Besides being a bookworm, Natasha is a documentary junkie, rom-com addict, health advocate, entrepreneur, and chef (in her own way).

She currently resides in Baltimore, MD. Despite where life may take her, one thing is certain. Natasha will always keep writing.

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8547000.Natasha_D_Lane

Twitter: https://twitter.com/natasha_lane1

Website: https://www.natashalanewrites.com/

Excerpt: https://www.natashalanewrites.com/excerpt/

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

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And Then I’m Gone: A Walk With Thoreau by Mathias B. Freese Review

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

One of the most thought provoking memoirs in recent years challenges readers to examine not only the world around them but how they are living their lives in author Mathias B. Freese’s novel And Then I Am Gone: A Walk With Thoreau. Here’s the full synopsis:

And Then I Am Gone: A Walk with Thoreau tells the story of a New York City man who becomes an Alabama man. Despite his radical migration to simpler living and a late-life marriage to a saint of sorts, his persistent pet anxieties and unanswerable questions follow him. Mathias Freese wants his retreat from the societal “it” to be a brave safari for the self rather than cowardly avoidance, so who better to guide him but Henry David Thoreau, the self-aware philosopher who retreated to Walden Pond “to live deliberately” and cease “the hurry and waste of life”? In this memoir, Freese wishes to share how and why he came to Harvest, Alabama (both literally and figuratively), to impart his existential impressions and concerns, and to leave his mark before he is gone.

 

This was one of the most unique and creative memoirs I’ve read in recent years. The story of the author’s journey in his later years in life allow us as readers to take the time to appreciate not only our own lives, but challenges us to think critically and take the time to find meaning in our lives. It does a marvelous job of using past life experiences, history, humor and classic pop culture references to contemplate the current state of our world. From the rise of Donald Trump as the United States President and what it says about the mentality of the nation as a whole to the hours spent on subjects like religion and life views that end up dividing us when there’s no need for it, this book is a perfect read for anyone looking to find meaning and purpose.

Written almost like a diary entry or an actual conversation between the author and the philospher Henry David Thoreau himself, this story exudes insight, psychology and honesty. It shows the power of hope in tumultous times, while also showing the history of the world and the threat of being doomed to repeat it in our modern times. It’s as much a reflection on our society as it is on himself, and despite the title’s ominous overtones, this story is not one of loss and hopelessness but one of learning from our own pasts and finding the will to reflect on our lives and come to terms with it. It’s a story of love, loss and life itself, and deserves to be read. If you haven’t yet, be sure to pick up your copies of And Then I Am Gone: A Walk With Thoreau by Mathias B. Freese today!

Rating: 10/10

 

About the Author

Mathias B. Freese is a writer, teacher, and psychotherapist who has authored six books. His I Truly Lament: Working Through the Holocaust won the Beverly Hills Book Awards and the Reader’s Favorite Book Award, and it was a finalist in the Indie Excellence Book Awards, the Paris Book Festival, and the Amsterdam Book Festival. In 2016 Tesserae: A Memoir of Two Summers, his first memoir, received seven awards.