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Daughters of Teutobod by Kurt Hansen Review and Blog Tour

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

The lives and struggles of three different women through different eras of history are revealed in author Kurt Hansen’s historical fiction novel, “Daughters of Teutobod”. 

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The Synopsis 

Daughters of Teutobod is a story of love triumphing over hate, of persistence in the face of domination, and of the strength of women in the face of adversity.

Gudrun is the stolen wife of Teutobod, the leader of the Teutons in Gaul in 102 BCE. Her story culminates in a historic battle with the Roman army.

Susanna is a German American farm wife in Pennsylvania whose husband, Karl, has strong affinity for the Nazi party in Germany. Susanna’s story revolves around raising her three daughters and one son as World War II unfolds.

Finally, Gretel is the infant child of Susanna, now seventy-nine years old and a professor of women’s studies, a US senator and Nobel laureate for her World Women’s Initiative. She is heading to France to represent the United States at the seventy-fifth anniversary of the liberation of southern France, at the commemoration site where her older brother, who was killed in action nearby, is buried. The site is very near the location where the Romans defeated the Teutons.

The Review

As a history buff and advocate for feminism and equality in life, I loved this narrative. The balance of emotional storytelling and captivating and engaging character development was so great to see unfold in this story, and the vivid imagery the author deployed in this novel expertly brought the reader into these various periods of time.

Yet to me, what stood out the most was how immersive and adrenaline-fueled the narrative itself was as well as the settings of these different eras of time. The author did an incredible job of bringing these chaotic, violent, and brutal periods of history to life in a natural way, and yet honed in on the personal and quiet yet profound strength of the women that each era focused on. From the fight against enslavement against the Roman warriors to the staunch battle brewing within a German-American family at the height of WWII and how these two eras come weaving together in the more modern-day made this story shine so brightly.

The Verdict

Thoughtful, entertaining, and mesmerizing, author Kurt Hansen’s “Daughters of Teutobod” is a must-read historical fiction novel of 2022. The twists and turns these characters and their arcs take meld perfectly with the striking imagery the author’s writing utilizes and the strength and impactful journey of these women made this one story I didn’t want to put down. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Kurt Hansen is from Racine, Wisconsin, and has lived in Kansas, Texas, and Iowa. He has experience in mental health and family systems as well as in parish ministry and administration. He holds degrees in psychology, social work and divinity. Kurt now lives in Dubuque, Iowa with his wife of 44 years, Dr. Susan Hansen, a professor emerita of international business. Kurt is the author of Gathered (2019). Daughters of Teutobod is his second novel.

Website: https://www.authorkurthansen.com/

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

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0BG6HJT7P/ref=x_gr_w_glide_sin?caller=Goodreads&callerLink=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.goodreads.com%2Fbook%2Fshow%2F62795806-daughters-of-teutobod%3Fac%3D1%26from_search%3Dtrue%26qid%3D0s2lfn0dQ6%26rank%3D1&tag=x_gr_w_glide_sin-20

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Enjoy this Excerpt from Kurt Hansen’s “Daughters of Teutobod”

Chapter One

The smoke of the grist fires rose incessantly, grey black against the cloudy blue sky as the day meandered toward its middle hours. It was the season of harvest, and those konas who were able were out among the plantings, gleaning grain or digging turnips, carrots, or beets out of the black, loamy soil. Some ground grain into flour and some baked bread, while others tended the fires and the fleshpots. Still others were about the business of tanning hides, mostly of deer, raccoons, rabbits, or fox, occasionally from a bear. The smells of death intermingled with the breathing life and beating heart of the sveit.

Gudrun liked this time of day best. She grabbed another handful of golden wheatstalks, slicing off the grain heads with a strong whisking motion and dropping the grain into her tightly woven flaxen gathering bag. She paused for a moment, wiping the sweat from her brow with the back of her hand. The sun was bright today, making the air steamy. Gudrun looked out across the hills, down the valley, past the wooded glades where she could see dozens of other kǫngulls like her own, and she knew there were even more beyond the reach of her eyes. Most of the kǫngulls contained about 100 persons, but some had more. As she fixed her gaze closer, to the kǫngull where she lived, she could see the jungen, chasing one another, some wielding sticks or branches, others seeking to escape the assaults of their aggressors. The jungmädchen were variously helping their mothers with cooking or cleaning vegetables or sewing hides; the kinder simply hid in corners or clung to their mothers’ legs.

Several hours passed, and now the sun was receding, thankfully, because its blazing, yellow glare kept breaking through the billowing clouds all day, intensifying the laborers’ fatigue. Gudrun emptied her grain bag into the large, woven basket at the edge of the planting. The basket was filled to the brim, and as she plunged both hands into the basket, letting the harvested grain sift between her fingers, a smile of satisfaction softened her face. Filling up her basket all the way to the top was for her, a measure of the goodness of the day. She hoisted the heavy basket, glad for the leather strap she had fashioned to carry it. Before she designed the strap, two women were needed to carry the woven baskets—one on either side—especially when full. But Gudrun decided to cut a long strip from the edge of a tanned deer hide and, with a sharp bone needle she affixed the strap to her basket, allowing her to shoulder the entire weight by herself.

When she first showed her invention, one of the men—Torolf—chastised her for taking the piece of deer hide. He pushed her to the ground and threatened worse, but Teutobod intervened, bashing Torolf on the head with his club and sending him reeling. Teutobod, Gudrun’s mann, was the undisputed leader of their sveit, and he had been their leader long before he took her for his wife, ever since the sveit’s earliest days in Jutland. He ordered that all the grain baskets be fashioned with straps for carrying, and Gudrun won the admiration of all the konas (and even some men). Torolf avoided her from then on.

As evening approached, it was time to prepare for the return of the männer. Most hunting excursions were a one-day affair, bringing in meat for perhaps a few days at best. But as the harvest season proceeded, the männer would leave for days at a time, seeking to increase supplies for the long winter to come. This foray had lasted nearly a week, but Gudrun was told by Teutobod to expect their return before seven suns had passed, and she shared this information with the some of the other konas. By now all the kongulls were preparing for the männer coming home.

As the sun began to set, the konas started pulling out skins from their bærs, unfolding them and laying them on the ground about the fire pits. The flesh pots were stirred and stoked, and a hearty stew was prepared with deer meats, mushrooms, yellow beans, potatoes, turnips and carrots, seasoned with salt and fennel and black peppercorns. Flasks of beer that had been cooling in the stream all day were brought to each firepit and hung on a stake which had been plunged in the ground for that purpose. Various dinner ware made from carved bone or fashioned out of wood or clay were laid out. All was in readiness.

An aura of anticipation and anxiety tumbled around the kǫngull, shortening tempers as the waiting lengthened. Finally, about an hour after the sun had fully set, the sound of the ram’s horn distantly blasted out its announcement: Die männer komme! The jungen were hustled away to the kinderbærs. One never knew the mood that might accompany the hunters when they returned, and things could and often did get ugly. The konas sat or knelt respectfully beside the firepits, twitching, nervously swatting insects away from the food, inhaling excitement and breathing out fear. 

Soon the rustling of leaves and the snap of twigs underfoot grew louder and closer until the shadows brought forth the whole troop of men, bustling in to the kǫngull, carrying or dragging the meat they had procured, pounding their chests, howling, pulling on their scraggly hair or beards, banging the ground with clubs or spears and smelling of the hunt and of the forest. Similar sounds of triumph and dominion could be heard resonating throughout all the kǫngulls below as the männer clamored in across the entire sveit.

Here in Gudrun’s kǫngull, the konas kept their gaze to the ground, their eyes fixed on the fire, and as the hunters’ swagger slowly abated, one by one the konas silently lifted their plates above their heads, each looking up to her mann as they all found their respective places. Once the providers were all reclining on skins beside the firepits, the konas stood and began to prepare plates of food for them. The men ate loudly, hungrily, slurping the stew from the lips of the bowls and using hunks of bread to grasp chunks of meat and vegetables.

The food having been consumed, skinflasks of beer soon followed, and before long the sated belches and grunts of the eaters gave way to boisterous banter, the proud providers reliving the thrill of killing a stag or the bravery of facing a bear. The konas scraped up the leftovers to take to the huts for themselves and the children, after which the cleanup tasks commenced. The women worked in groups of three or four, tending two large boiling pots to soak the dinnerware until all remnants of the food floated up to the top and were skimmed off. A little more soaking, then all the dinnerware was stacked and stored for the next use. Gudrun, along with two other konas, took the job of drying the cleaned dishes, swinging a dish in each hand to move the air. They playfully swung the wet plates or cups at one another, spritzing each other in the process and giggling like little meyas.

This being the end of a prolonged hunting venture, the children were tucked in early in the kinderhäusen, and the konas prepared to receive their husbands. For those unlucky enough to have brutish men, their wifely duties were not at all pleasant. Others were more fortunate. Gudrun was happy to be among the latter, hoping only that the beer ran out before Teutobod’s love lust. She retreated to the bær she shared with her husband, glad for the privacy his role as leader provided. This entire kǫngull was comprised of the sveit’s leadership and their skuldaliðs, and as such it claimed luxuries not generally known throughout the sveit by underlings. The leaders camped furthest upstream, and therefore got the cleanest water for drinking, cooking, and bathing. The leaders claimed individual space for themselves and their vifs, while others down below had to share living space with two or three other skuldaliðs. 

Gudrun removed her garments and lay nude on the soft deerskins in her bær to prepare herself for her husband. Covering herself with another skin, she began to move her hands over her thighs and abdomen, softly, back and forth, her rough-skinned fingertips adapting to their more delicate uses. She moved a hand upward, swirling around her breasts and throat, teasing each nipple at the edges, holding back from contacting the most delicate flesh.

Her stroking and probing continued, a bit more urgently as she felt her breath rise and grow more heated. The muscles in her abdomen began to pulse, and as her hands found the sensitive spot between her legs, she felt the moisture beginning to flow inside her. When she was young Gudrun had learned from the older konas how to help her husband in this way, to ease his entrance and hasten his joy. Along the way, over the years, she also learned to enjoy herself more in the process. As the instinctive rocking motion in her pelvis began, she eased her manipulations, not wanting to be prematurely excited. Breathlessly, she looked toward the bær’s entrance, hoping Teutobod would hurry.

Questionable Minds by Fraser Sherman Blog Tour Blast

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Questionable Minds - Fraser Sherman

Fraser Sherman has a new steampunk mystery book out: Questionable Minds.

In Victorian England, 1888, there are those who say Sir Simon Taggart is under the punishment of God.

In an England swirling with mentalist powers — levitation, mesmerism, mind-to-mind telegraphy — the baronet is unique, possessed of mental shields that render him immune to any mental assault. Even his friends think it’s a curse, cutting him off from the next step in human mental and spiritual evolution. To Simon, it’s a blessing.

Four years ago, the Guv’nor, mystery overlord of the London underworld, arranged the murder of Simon’s wife Agnes. Obsessed with finding who hired the Guv’nor, Simon works alongside Inspector Hudnall and Miss Grey in Scotland Yard’s Mentalist Investigation Department. Immunity to mental telegraphy, clairvoyance and mesmerism are an asset in his work — but they may not be enough to crack the latest case.

A mysterious killer has begun butchering Whitechapel streetwalkers. With every killing, the man newspapers call “the Ripper” grows in mental power and in the brutality of his attacks. Is murder all that’s on his mind or does he have an endgame? And what plans do the Guv’nor and his army of agents have for Simon and the Whitechapel killer?

Questionable Minds is set in a Victorian England struggling to preserve the social hierarchy while mentalism threatens to overturn it. The cast of characters includes Dr. Henry Jekyll (and yes, his friend Edward Hyde too), Jack the Ripper, and multiple other figures from history and fiction.

Warnings: Graphic violence. Victorian sexism and imperialism.

Universal Buy Link


Excerpt

Simon Taggart’s plunge into the abyss happened in an instant.

Col. Moran, seated at the dining table on Simon’s left, had said something to the Duke of Falsworth about a fellow hunter Moran had known in India committing suicide. Falsworth snidely observed that given the man’s debts, hanging himself had been the only possible solution.

And suddenly Simon was standing in the drawing room again. Staring up at Agnes in her white nightgown, hanging from the ceiling with her tongue protruding, her face blackened. Rage consumed him at the memory, rage at the men who’d brought about his wife’s death. Pearson Bartlett, mesmerist. The Guvnor, who’d given Bartlett his orders. And behind them, the unknown man who’d paid to have Agnes slain.

It was the scent of mutton that snapped him back to the Montworths’ dining room, a scent rising from the porcelain serving platter levitating through the air before him. Steered by Amanda Montworth’s vril, the platter bore the roast saddle of mutton down the long dining-room table. Her grey eyes were fixed on the platter, of course, as levitators depended on sight to focus their vril. The eyes of her parents and eleven uneasy guests were also watchful as the dish approached the epergne, the massive candelabra at the table’s center. Simon knew he wasn’t the only guest imagining what a shower of spilled gravy would do to their formal black waistcoats, jackets and white gloves, or the women’s elegant dresses.

The platter clinked against the epergne and shuddered for a moment, but Amanda, brow furrowed, regained her mental grip. The platter ceased quivering, backed away and settled into the hands of one of the footmen, to be served a la russe, around the table. Amanda gasped slightly as she released control.

“There, isn’t that remarkable, Sir Simon?” Buxom Mrs. Montworth flashed a smile at Simon, the wealthiest of her guests. “I don’t know anyone with the strength of mind my Amanda has, do you? Well, not anyone who is anyone, shall we say?”

“Mother, please,” Amanda said. “This is embarrassing.”

“No, you did quite well.” Simon smiled politely, forbearing to point out that for all the money John Montworth’s ironworks brought in, in London society the Montworths were emphatically not anyone. Amanda performing a servant’s duties only confirmed that, as the poor girl undoubtedly knew. “A strong mind is—an asset to the Empire.”

“When the turtle soup comes out, Amanda,” Mrs. Montworth went on, “I think you should levitate—”

“Oh, no, my dear Mrs. Montworth,” Simon said quickly, remembering soup spurting from a shattered tureen at another dinner he’d attended. Besides, Amanda had been embarrassed enough. “A girl as lovely and delicate as Amanda, no matter how strong her vril, should be careful not to overexert herself.” As Mrs. Montworth simpered and nodded, Amanda, who looked as delicate as one of her father’s foundry workers, smiled her thanks at Simon.

“That’s enough entertainment for this evening,” John Montworth said in his north-country accent. “Carmody?” Carmody, the butler, gestured for the footmen to resume their duties; it was a faux pas for Montworth to address a servant during dinner, but the past few minutes had utterly nonplussed the staff.

Simon considered Amanda sensible and good-hearted. It wasn’t her fault her vril manifested as a crude, physical ability, nor that her mother was as blind to the social graces as some men to colors. Fortunately, with several months before the start of the Season, the guests had few people they could gossip with—and there’d be much better gossip by January, when the Montworths presented Amanda at court.

#

“‘Preciate your help, Sir Simon.” John Montworth said, clipping off the end of his cigar as a servant filled Simon’s glass. The women had left the room moments before, allowing the men a half-hour or so to indulge themselves. “Mrs. Montworth’s dreadful proud of our girl having vril, she is—I try to tell her to be more discreet but—”

“It’s been a new world these past eight years,” Simon said, savoring Montworth’s peerless port. “Too new to have all the polite niceties of psychic usage down pat.” A courteous lie; everyone knew physical manifestations of mentalist power were completely inappropriate in society.

“You mean like yourself assisting Scotland Yard?” Thin, pallid Ronald Carpenter, Duke of Falsworth, smirked and blew a plume of smoke. “A man of your impeccable pedigree, mingling with the lowest orders? Gilbert and Sullivan could make a wonderful comic opera out of it if you ask me.”

“I don’t believe I did.” Simon’s anger surged up again, but the smile beneath his thin mustache stayed coldly formal. “And there is nothing comical about the beasts who use vril to prey upon others.” Like Pearson Bartlett, who could mesmerize a woman to put a noose around her own neck. “I do my duty to England, nothing more.”

His Grace met Simon’s cold stare, then looked away with affected unconcern. Dukes far outranked baronets, but Falsworth’s title was new, and the man was still insecure. A Taggart was never insecure.

“Men like your Inspector Hudnall have my highest respect,” Moran said to Simon. As usual the colonel had stuck with whiskey instead of port. “In the jungle or the London streets, it takes a sharp man to hunt predators successfully. And who’s better suited than you, Sir Simon, to the sport of hunting mentalists?”

“Hardly sport.” Simon replied. “Unlike you, colonel, I consider hunting man-eaters a public service, not an adventure.”

“But men like that are evolutionary dead ends,” Montworth said. “Thanks to Lady Helena, all mankind—almost all—will ultimately be elevated to a higher plane.” His glance had lit upon Simon at the “almost.” “The murderers, the butchers, the Varneys of the present day will become fairytales, like ogres or Bluebeard, in the world that is to come.”

It was a typical Theosophist sentiment, but Simon found he was in no mood to argue with it.


Author Bio

Fraser ShermanBy the time Fraser Sherman graduated college he’d lost interest in his degree field. He tried writing and discovered he liked it. Since then he’s spent ten years as a journalist, sold two dozen short stories and five film reference books. His most recent book was the self-published Undead Sexist Cliches, about the stupidity of misogynist beliefs.

Although born in England, Fraser spent most of his life in Northwest Florida. He’d be there still if he hadn’t met his dream woman and moved to Durham NC to be with her. They’ve been married 11 years and are the proud parents of two small dogs and two half-domesticated cats.

Author Website: https://www.frasersherman.com

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/fraser.sherman

Author Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/bogatyr5

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4103781.Fraser_Sherman

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Fraser-A-Sherman/e/B000APPPDW

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Blog Tour: Third Front by E.M. Hamill

Third Front - E.M. Hamill

E.M. Hamill has a new queer space opera out (non-binary, gender fluid, pansexual, gay), The Dalí Tamareia Missions book 3: Third Front. And there’s a giveaway.

Dalí Tamareia has the terrorist Skadi in their sights – but bringing her in may cost them everything.

Dalí’s role as an undercover operative is compromised, putting a target on their back and threatening the close-knit team aboard Thunder Child. A new lead on Miriam Skadi’s activities forces them back to Luna, where they must confront everything they tried to run from…including their changed relationship with Rion Sumner, who insists on backing up Dalí for this investigation.

But Dalí is not the only one searching for Skadi. An alien presence hunts the terrorist as well, taking over Sumner’s body to ensure Dalí’s cooperation. With their team on the other side of the solar system Dalí must depend on this questionable ally to complete the mission, which takes a deadly turn when an old nemesis resurfaces.

If there is any chance for a future with Sumner and their chosen family, Dalí must exorcise the demons haunting them, or they will burn in the heart of a star.

Warnings: graphic violence, grief, sexually explicit scenes

About the Series: A diplomat turned galactic operative risks everything to bring in the terrorist who shattered their life.

Get It At Amazon


Giveaway

E.M. is giving away a $10 Amazon gift card with this tour:

a Rafflecopter giveawayhttps://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d47263/?


Excerpt

Third Front meme - E.M. Hamill

The flint-blue curve of Earth filled the transparent alloy of the windshield. Even gravely wounded, humanity’s ancestral home was breathtaking. Phantoms of arid golden continents haunted breaks in the heavy cloud-cover; oceans glinted like winks of mercury in Sol’s light. The atmosphere was beginning to clear, but it would take the surface longer to purge the toxic aftermath of war and pollution from soil and sea

How in the seven hells did we manage to fuck up a whole planet?

“Prepare for drop,” Sumner murmured into his headset. I braced myself.

“In five. Four. Three. Two … “

The magnet released us. Sumner fired top thrusters to quickly maneuver the ship away from the hull and we floated free. “We’re clear.”

“See you soon,” Ozzie said. Thunder Child left us in her wake, heading off to complete the surveillance mission. Sumner throttled the little craft into motion and carved an arc in space, putting the planet behind us.

And there it was.

The moon’s disc swelled before us, painted in silver and ash. In the nightfall of Earth’s passing shadow, the lunar plains of Mare Nubium sparkled with lights, and at the southern horn of the penumbra’s crescent, where light and darkness embraced, lay the place I once called home.

“Have you ever been to Luna?” My uneven voice betrayed the winding tension inside me.

“No.” Sumner glanced at me, but I kept my gaze on the moon, unable to meet his eyes. “I’ve only been to the major space stations before Mars. Where did you live?”

“Kepler. You can just make out a hexagon of complexes north of the crater.”

“I see it.”

“The apex dome, Galileo, is where the Capitol is. The University is under Kepler, at the middle left. That’s where … where we … “

Memories lay bitter and sweet on my tongue, the ache in my throat a hot coal. Oh, coming back was such a bad idea.

“The—” I coughed to clear the suffocating thickness from my voice. “The old city is in the industrial complex at the bottom of Bullialdus Crater, that cluster of rectangular structures near the shuttle port.”

A sparkle of transparent alloy and steel caught my eye as we got closer. My palms grew damp.

Luna Terminal gleamed against the void of space. Intact, as if the explosion that shattered the Earthward docking arm and killed so many innocent people had never happened. As if my heart was still whole and strong, not the bruised piece of meat thudding too fast in my chest.

The restored line of windows where Gresh and ‘Sida once stood to bid me goodbye were blank and flawless. Empty.

The spring-coil of anxiety suddenly exploded into shards and hollowed out my insides. I forgot to breathe, my white-knuckled fingers clenching the edge of the jump seat.

Fuck Kiran Singh. No matter what Mother England wanted to tell me, I should never have agreed to come back.

My breath ran shallow in the heavy gravity of blind panic. I fumbled with the stiff buckle of the five-point harness.

“Dalí? You okay?” Sumner’s quiet voice cut through the noise in my head.

“I can’t … ” The clasp wouldn’t give, my sweat-slick fingers numb and buzzing. “God damn it! I need to get out of the cockpit.”

“Hey, hey.” He extended his right hand and gently laid it over mine where I scrabbled at the release. “We’re in Three. Where are you going to go?”

I gave up trying and gripped his hand, pressing it against my chest.

“I’m here,” he said, his voice low and soothing. “Breathe. A deep breath. Come on, you can do it.”

I drew in a shuddering gasp, filled my lungs with air, and just as unevenly let it out.

“Again.”

The second one was less painful. “I’m sorry,” I managed to wheeze. “I didn’t think it would hit me this hard.”

“You thought you were prepared. You weren’t. Not yet.”

His hand was warm, and I hugged it like an anchor against the free-fall of chaos. I didn’t let go until my breathing was closer to normal and I knew I wouldn’t fall apart. His touch calmed me, and at the same time it created a ripple of longing I wasn’t ready to deal with. That was finally what made me let go.

“Thank you,” I mumbled, releasing his hand with a sheepish press of gratitude, and scrubbed my wet eyes with my palms. It was the first episode in months since I’d started the meds. I was fiercely glad Thunder Child was out of our implanted coms’ range and my teammates had not been remote witnesses to this meltdown. “I feel ridiculous.”

“Never feel that way.” The gentle admonition made me glance up and meet his eyes. Aquamarine sparks snapped in the depths of his irises as he held my gaze. “What you witnessed can’t be processed all at once. It comes out in pieces because it’s too much.”

“That felt like a huge chunk.” But the empty space had begun to collapse on itself. The void softly filled with a new substrate and covered the scree of old trauma as we stared at each other. Once again, Rion Sumner showed me the side I wanted to know better, and I desperately wanted to know it when I wasn’t a fucking mess he had to prop up.

“Port Armstrong to approaching vessel.” Three’s com blared as Luna Station’s control center registered our presence. The emotionless mechanical voice in our headsets startled both of us. “Verify identity and destination.”

Sumner toggled his mic with what I swore was irritation. “Port Armstrong, Midak 3 requesting approach.”

“Midak 3, transmitting approach vectors,” the artificial controller’s voice replied.

The instrument panel came alive with lights and coordinates. Auto-piloting sequences blinked suggestively on the data screen. Of course, Sumner chose to pilot Three manually, our moment of connection sublimated into preparation to enter lunar airspace.

I silently cursed the cock-blocking AI running the tower and sat back to watch him guide our little craft into the deep well of Bullialdus Crater, a bright path of syncopated flashes leading us into the underground terminal. The small, rocking thump of landing sent a shiver through me.

Luna. The people who had made it my home no longer existed, yet here I was.


Author Bio

Elisabeth “E.M.” Hamill is a nurse by day, unabashed geek, chocoholic, sci fi and fantasy novelist by nights, weekends, and wherever she can steal quality time with her laptop.

She lives with her family in the wilds of eastern suburban Kansas, where they fend off flying monkey attacks and prep for the zombie apocalypse.

Author Website: https://emhamill.wordpress.com

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/EMHamill

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/songmagick

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16592440.E_M_Hamill

Author Liminal Fiction (LimFic.com): https://www.limfic.com/mbm-book-author/e-m-hamill/

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/~/e/B00JY0FV8S

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Guide to Smart Wedding Planning by Edna Dratch-Parker and Jeri Solomon Review

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

Readers are treated to a practical and thoughtful approach to wedding planning in authors Edna Dratch-Parker and Jeri Solomon’s “Guide to Smart Wedding Planning”.

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The Synopsis

The Real Deal Wedding Insiders® Guide to Smart Wedding Planning gives you practical and actionable steps to take control of your wedding planning, make the best decisions, and keep your sanity along the way.

You’ll learn how to:

* Navigate stressful relationships

* Create a vision that represents you both

* Understand and build a realistic budget

* Choose the right venue and vendors

* Stay present and enjoy your wedding day

The Review

This was such an insightful and engaging book. The authors did an amazing job of taking the reader through the journey of wedding planning in great detail without losing themselves to an overabundance of backstories. The way authors were able to craft an interactive and educational read that has real-world practical applications that the reader will be able to share immediately.

The breakdown of information and reliability of the authors and their work is what stood out to me. The way the authors take the reader through every step of the wedding planning process, from the moment that you become engaged to the moment the wedding is over, was fantastic to read about, as there are so many aspects of the wedding process that the average reader doesn’t even think about. From the emotional side of things like learning how to be present in the moment of the wedding day to the finances and practical side of things that come with setting a budget with the person funding the wedding, this book does a great job of delving into the most important information that readers will be able to apply immediately.

The Verdict

Informative, thoughtful, and engaging, authors Edna Dratch-Parker and Jeri Solomon’s “Guide to Smart Wedding Planning” is a must-read book for the engaged couple seeking help with their wedding this season. The memorable and interactive writing style will keep readers invested in the information the authors have provided, and the brilliant and concise way the authors have collected this information will stay with readers well into their own weddings and beyond. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Authors

With a combined 30 years and hundreds of weddings produced, Edna Dratch-Parker, founder, and creative director of EFD Creative—Event Planning & Design, and Jeri Solomon, owner of Jeri Solomon Floral Design, bring their depth of knowledge and real-life experiences to help couples avoid common mistakes, reduce stress, and truly enjoy the wedding planning process.

Website: https://www.realdealweddinginsiders.com/

INSTAGRAM: 

@weddinginsiders

@efd_creative

@jerifloral

FACEBOOK: 

@RealDealWeddingInsiders

@EFDCreative

@jerifloraldesign

TWITTER:

Handles to tag:

@RDWedInsiders

@EFD_Creative

@JeriFloral

TIKTOK: 

@RealDealWeddingInsiders

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3MLX47b

A Shadow of Love by Amy S. Cutler Review

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

A woman fleeing her abusive husband moves into a 19th-century farmhouse, where she meets and soon falls in love with a poet who died in 1917, but as the curse that has kept him bound to the land is running out, they must discover how far they are willing to go for their love in author Amy S. Cutler’s “A Shadow of Love”.

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The Synopsis

When Annabelle flees her abusive husband and moves into an 1860’s farmhouse, she soon learns that she is not alone; she shares her home with Christian, the ghost of a poet who killed himself in 1917. Christian, wanting nothing but solitude, tries to scare Annabelle away, but once they come together while she is dreaming, they fall in love. The clock is ticking for Christian, for moments after his hanging his fiance magically cursed his spirit to be stuck on earth for one hundred years, and his time is almost up.

With Annabelle’s ex threatening her and the spirit she has fallen in love with on the verge of disappearing, Annabelle becomes obsessed with staying with Christian, and will do anything to be with him.

Being in love with a ghost is bad enough, but for Annabelle, discovering that her true love will be crossing over at any moment pushes her over the edge of reckless behavior.

The Review

What a truly brilliant paranormal romance read. The author did an incredible job of finding just the right balance between supernatural elements and the passionate romance that develops within this narrative. Despite the modern era, this book is written in, the tone and style of writing the author utilize almost conjures up in the reader’s mind a gothic romance of sorts as if this story could easily be played out in a Victorian England manor. 

Yet it was the author’s blend of atmosphere and character development that really sold this story. The complex backstories of both the protagonists really showcased the trauma and experiences that each of them bonded over. The cast of characters surrounding them helped flesh out this world and kept Annabelle tied to the physical world as her heart drifted to the supernatural romance beckoning her. The setting itself felt very atmospheric, capturing the tone and genre perfectly and keeping me invested in these characters’ stories. 

The Verdict

Haunting, emotionally driven, and thoughtful, author Amy S. Cutler’s “A Shadow of Love” is a must-read paranormal romance novel that fits perfectly into the fall season. The rich dynamics between these characters and the twists and turns their journey takes will have readers on the edge of their seats, while the final pages will hit readers right in the heart. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Purchase a copy of Shadow of Love on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Bookshop.org. You can also add this to your GoodReads reading list.  

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About the Author

Amy S Cutler, author of A Shadow of Love earned her master’s degree in Creative Writing from Goddard College. Most recently she was published in Slut Vomit: An Anthology of Sex Work and featured in the Tales to Terrify Podcast, among others. Her writing focus is suspense, horror, science fiction, and ghost stories. She can be contacted through AmysHippieHut.com. You can also follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Blog Tour Calendar

October 3rd @ WOW! Women on Writing

Join us as we celebrate the launch of Amy S. Cutler’s book A Shadow of Love. Read an interview with the author and enter to win a copy of the book.

https://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com

October 5th @ Sadie’s Spotlight

Sadie spotlights A Shadow of Love and features an excerpt from the book.

http://sadiesspotlight.com/

October 6th @ Create Write Now

Mari L. McCarthy shares a guest post by Amy S. Cutler about the importance of learning how to self-market. A must-read post for authors!

https://createwritenow.com

October 8th @ Life According to Jamie

Jamie reviews Amy S. Cutler’s book A Shadow of Love. Don’t miss this exciting book!

https://www.lifeaccordingtojamie.com

October 10th @ Amy’s Booket List

Join Amy as she reviews Amy S. Cutler’s book A Shadow of Love.

October 12th @ Word Magic

Join Fiona as she shares a guest post by Amy S. Butler about the importance of finding a writing community.

http://fionaingramauthor.blogspot.com/

October 15th @ What is That Book About?

Find out more about A Shadow of Love by Amy S. Cutler in this book spotlight.

https://www.whatisthatbookabout.com

October 16th @ Celtic Lady’s Book Reviews

Read a review of Amy S. Cutler’s book A Shadow of Love.

https://celticladysreviews.blogspot.com/

October 17th @ Jill Sheets’ Blog

Join Jill as she interviews author Amy S. Cutler about her book A Shadow of Love.

http://jillsheets.blogspot.com/

October 18th @ A Storybook World

Deirdra features Amy S. Cutler’s book A Shadow of Love.

http://www.astorybookworld.com/

October 19th @ Beverley A. Baird’s Blog

Bev reviews Amy S. Cutler’s book A Shadow of Love.

https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/

October 20th @ Knotty Needle

Join Judy Hudgins for her review of Amy S. Cutler’s book A Shadow of Love.

http://knottyneedle.blogspot.com

October 21st @ Beverley A. Baird’s Blog

Join Bev as she shares a guest post by Amy S. Cutler about the story behind the haunted house in the novel.

https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com

October 22nd @ Lisa Haselton’s Reviews & Interviews

Join Lisa as she interviews author Amy S. Culter about her book A Shadow of Love.

https://lisahaselton.com/blog/

October 24th @ Girl Zombie Authors

Read a guest post by Amy S. Cutler about why ghost stories are so popular.

https://girlzombieauthors.blogspot.com/

October 25th @ Four Moon Reviews

Join Samantha as she reviews Amy S. Cutler’s book A Shadow of Love. You can also win a copy of the book too!

https://fourmoonreviews.blogspot.com/

October 27th @ Girl Zombie Authors

Come by Chris’ blog again and read a review of Amy S. Cutler’s book A Shadow of Love. You can also enter to win a copy of the book too!

https://girlzombieauthors.blogspot.com/

October 29th @ Boots, Shoes and Fashion

Visit Linda’s blog for an in-depth interview with author Amy S. Cutler about her book A Shadow of Love.

https://bootsshoesandfashion.com

October 31st @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Visit Anthony’s blog for Amy S. Cutler’s guest post about finding a publisher.

http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com

November 1st @ Choices

Join Madeline as she features a guest post by Amy S. Cutler about the first draft process.

http://www.madelinesharples.com/

November 2nd @ Jessica Belmont’s Blog

Jessica reviews Amy S. Cutler’s book A Shadow of Love.

https://jessicabelmont.com

November 3rd @ Write Advice

Read Amy’s guest post about how she found the idea for Shadow of Love and turned it into a story.

https://writeradvice.com/

November 4th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Read Anthony’s review of A Shadow of Love by Amy S. Cutler. A paranormal book you don’t want to miss!

http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com

Guest Blog Post: My Journey to Finding a Publisher by Amy S Cutler

 When I think of being a new author in search of a publisher, I have an image of myself throwing a pebble into a pond and trying to choose where it lands on the bottom. Only in reality, the pond is really the ocean, and my pebble a grain of sand.

The process is daunting. I can only speak for my experience, and I was fortunate enough to have my pebble reach a publisher who accepted my novel. The process of finding them took about a year, which seemed like a horribly long time but after talking with other authors, I now know that a year is perfectly reasonable.

Once I finished writing “A Shadow of Love,” I decided to have it professionally edited, and I found someone through Reedsy, a service where authors can find editors, designers, and marketers. I interviewed and got a bunch of quotes from different editors until I find someone that I connected with. The reason I went this route is because I knew that if I were lucky enough to have an agent or publisher ask to see the manuscript, I wanted my words to be as clean as possible.

After the story was polished, I sent out a slew of queries to both agents and publishers. There is a lot of conflicting advice out there, from send out a hundred queries at once to only send to a few and wait. I had heard that most do not answer, so I decided to take the middle ground and sent about ten at a time, waited a few months, and then sent out more. What I heard was right, out of a few dozen agent queries, I only heard back from maybe two or three of them. Knowing that getting an agent for my first book was not entirely realistic, I also sent it directly to a few publishers, and that is when I finally got the yes that I was hoping for.

Black Rose Writing, an independent publishing house in Texas, responded first with the request to read the manuscript, and two long months later accepted it. After that it was a whirlwind of edits, more edits, cover design, final proofs, and the long wait to publication day. It has been a pretty intense ride, and I am so grateful to be working with them. 

My advice to new authors looking for a home for their story is to keep throwing the pebble. Don’t get discouraged by either silence or rejection, because if your story was meant to be heard – or read – it will be.

Amy S. Cutler’s WOW! WOMEN ON WRITING TOUR OF A Shadow of Love Tour Begins October 3rd

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Book Summary

When Annabelle flees her abusive husband and moves into an 1860’s farmhouse, she soon learns that she is not alone; she shares her home with Christian, the ghost of a poet who killed himself in 1917. Christian, wanting nothing but solitude, tries to scare Annabelle away, but once they come together while she is dreaming, they fall in love. The clock is ticking for Christian, for moments after his hanging his fiance magically cursed his spirit to be stuck on earth for one hundred years, and his time is almost up.

With Annabelle’s ex threatening her and the spirit she has fallen in love with on the verge of disappearing, Annabelle becomes obsessed with staying with Christian, and will do anything to be with him.

Being in love with a ghost is bad enough, but for Annabelle, discovering that her true love will be crossing over at any moment pushes her over the edge of reckless behavior.

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

ISBN-10: 1684339402

ISBN-13: 978-1684339402

ASIN: ‎B09NXMRHV2

Print length: 163 pages

Purchase a copy of Shadow of Love on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Bookshop.org. You can also add this to your GoodReads reading list.  

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About the Author

Amy S Cutler, author of A Shadow of Love earned her master’s degree in Creative Writing from Goddard College. Most recently she was published in Slut Vomit: An Anthology of Sex Work and featured in the Tales to Terrify Podcast, among others. Her writing focus is suspense, horror, science fiction, and ghost stories. She can be contacted through AmysHippieHut.com. You can also follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Blog Tour Calendar

October 3rd @ WOW! Women on Writing

Join us as we celebrate the launch of Amy S. Cutler’s book A Shadow of Love. Read an interview with the author and enter to win a copy of the book.

https://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com

October 5th @ Sadie’s Spotlight

Sadie spotlights A Shadow of Love and features an excerpt from the book.

http://sadiesspotlight.com/

October 6th @ Create Write Now

Mari L. McCarthy shares a guest post by Amy S. Cutler about the importance of learning how to self-market. A must-read post for authors!

https://createwritenow.com

October 8th @ Life According to Jamie

Jamie reviews Amy S. Cutler’s book A Shadow of Love. Don’t miss this exciting book!

https://www.lifeaccordingtojamie.com

October 10th @ Amy’s Booket List

Join Amy as she reviews Amy S. Cutler’s book A Shadow of Love.

October 12th @ Word Magic

Join Fiona as she shares a guest post by Amy S. Butler about the importance of finding a writing community.

http://fionaingramauthor.blogspot.com/

October 15th @ What is That Book About?

Find out more about A Shadow of Love by Amy S. Cutler in this book spotlight.

https://www.whatisthatbookabout.com

October 16th @ Celtic Lady’s Book Reviews

Read a review of Amy S. Cutler’s book A Shadow of Love.

https://celticladysreviews.blogspot.com/

October 17th @ Jill Sheets’ Blog

Join Jill as she interviews author Amy S. Cutler about her book A Shadow of Love.

http://jillsheets.blogspot.com/

October 18th @ A Storybook World

Deirdra features Amy S. Cutler’s book A Shadow of Love.

http://www.astorybookworld.com/

October 19th @ Beverley A. Baird’s Blog

Bev reviews Amy S. Cutler’s book A Shadow of Love.

https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/

October 20th @ Knotty Needle

Join Judy Hudgins for her review of Amy S. Cutler’s book A Shadow of Love.

http://knottyneedle.blogspot.com

October 21st @ Beverley A. Baird’s Blog

Join Bev as she shares a guest post by Amy S. Cutler about the story behind the haunted house in the novel.

https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com

October 22nd @ Lisa Haselton’s Reviews & Interviews

Join Lisa as she interviews author Amy S. Culter about her book A Shadow of Love.

https://lisahaselton.com/blog/

October 24th @ Girl Zombie Authors

Read a guest post by Amy S. Cutler about why ghost stories are so popular.

https://girlzombieauthors.blogspot.com/

October 25th @ Four Moon Reviews

Join Samantha as she reviews Amy S. Cutler’s book A Shadow of Love. You can also win a copy of the book too!

https://fourmoonreviews.blogspot.com/

October 27th @ Girl Zombie Authors

Come by Chris’ blog again and read a review of Amy S. Cutler’s book A Shadow of Love. You can also enter to win a copy of the book too!

https://girlzombieauthors.blogspot.com/

October 29th @ Boots, Shoes and Fashion

Visit Linda’s blog for an in-depth interview with author Amy S. Cutler about her book A Shadow of Love.

https://bootsshoesandfashion.com

October 31st @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Visit Anthony’s blog for Amy S. Cutler’s guest post about finding a publisher.

http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com

November 1st @ Choices

Join Madeline as she features a guest post by Amy S. Cutler about the first draft process.

http://www.madelinesharples.com/

November 2nd @ Jessica Belmont’s Blog

Jessica reviews Amy S. Cutler’s book A Shadow of Love.

https://jessicabelmont.com

November 3rd @ Write Advice

Read Amy’s guest post about how she found the idea for Shadow of Love and turned it into a story.

https://writeradvice.com/

November 4th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Read Anthony’s review of A Shadow of Love by Amy S. Cutler. A paranormal book you don’t want to miss!

http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com

Blog Tour: Resurrection Men by Steven Harper

Resurrection Men - Steven Harperp

Steven Harper has a new MM historical romance out: Resurrection Men. And there’s a giveaway.

Arthur Tor steals the dead for a living. As a resurrection man, he creeps around graveyards with his shovel, hoping to dig up corpses so he can sell them to the local medical college and pay his tuition there. He also holds a strange position in underground society. If someone is dying a slow, painful death, the family members come to Arthur and beg him to end their loved one’s pain. Arthur can never refuse, and he helps the dying cross the threshold without more pain in a process he calls the Black Rounds. Unfortunately, the local judge has gotten wind of Arthur’s activities and has sworn to send him to prison—or the hangman’s noose.

Jesse Fair has fled his corrupt family in Baltimore and landed in Ypsilanti, Michigan, where he becomes the town gravedigger and, eventually, the undertaker. He works hard to help grieving families through their pain with warmth and compassion. Some of these families make odd requests for their dearly departed, and Jesse discovers that the undertaker often has to deal with the absurd side of death. But his nefarious family is still searching for him. Relentlessly. And once they find him, Jesse will have to make a terrible choice.

When Jesse catches Arthur in the act of robbing a grave, the two of them form a strange friendship and even stranger partnership that digs deep into social taboos—and into their own souls.

In his first book since his critically-acclaimed novel The Importance of Being Kevin, Steven Harper spins a heartfelt, uplifting story of suspense, life, and love against the backdrop of a Michigan town at the edge of the frontier.

Universal Buy Link


Giveaway

Steven is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card:

a Rafflecopter giveawayhttps://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d47262/?


Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

A resurrection man watched the funeral, and his expression was hungry. He stood behind the huddle of funeral-goers clustered around the grave and didn’t speak with anyone, which was how Jesse spotted him. Dead giveaway, so to say. Jesse stared at him from the corner of one dark eye. The resurrection man wasn’t yet twenty. Brown as a dead tree. Straight brown hair under a frayed brown cap, long nose, sharp jaw, long brown coat mended twice, worn brown shoes that were nonetheless carefully polished. Someone who was used to hiding who he was.

The resurrection man met Jesse’s eye for a flick. He had good eyes, that one—clear and blue and strong—and Jesse touched his cap in salute. Jesse had a gravedigger’s build, wiry and a little short, able to throw an eight-pound shovelful of dirt six feet toward heaven, and he could hold his own in a fight against two men half again his height. The resurrection man was taller, whipcord, and Jesse bet he wore gloves to keep his hands clean when he robbed night-time graves. No one who saw him by day would know what he did at night.

When their eyes met, blue on brown, it created something interesting and indefinable, like that boundary moment when water touches a burning coal, or warm ocean air brushes chilly shore. The resurrection man looked away. Jesse clicked his tongue in mischief—and the chance to make some money.

The coffin rested on a pair of beams set across the grave Jesse had dug only that morning. Jesse always put a scattering of sawdust and few pine branches in the bottom of his graves so the coffin wouldn’t rest on dirt. It made no difference to the deceased, mind you, but it made the family feel better. Two solemn boys pulled the beams away, and the pall bearers lowered the coffin with ropes braced around their necks like pulleys while the preacher said his final bit. While all this was going on, the resurrection man slipped away, confirming Jesse’s suspicions that the man was a grave robber who knew the best time to leave was when the family was occupied.

As the family drifted off, Jesse barely overheard a man and a woman in conversation. The woman murmured, “He won’t get up and come after us, do you? He’s stubborn enough to try.”

“Jesus, I hope not,” the man muttered back. “That copper-plated sumbitch was bad enough when he was alive. I can’t think what he’d be like lurching around dead.”

Death brought out the truth among the living. Jesse looked in the direction the resurrection man had taken and gave himself a private nod. It was going to be an interesting evening.

Jesse finished filling the grave of Mr. Elmer Pitt (b. 1803, d. 1889), then went home to the little shack he occupied at the edge of Highland Cemetery, made himself a pot of strong coffee on his bachelor stove, dropped a slug of Irish in it, and waited until sunset. When the early autumn night slid in cozy among the gravestones, Jesse put his shovel back over his shoulder and strolled toward the grave of Elmer Pitt. There was time to enjoy the walk and think about how to spend the money he would shake out of the resurrection man. It had been a while since he’d passed a good night’s drinking and fighting at a pool hall. Or maybe he’d buy a new pair of boots.

The trek was easy. Didn’t matter that it was dark. Jesse had dug plenty of graves in Highland Cemetery and knew the place like the end of his shovel. He even had a map of the place tacked to the wall of his shack, with every grave picked out in careful precision. People thought that graveyards laid out the dead in neat, cornfield rows, but Highland’s graves made a swirling mosaic that twisted around the hills and trees, creating stars and flowers and teardrops that only god and Jesse’s map could see. Jesse had taken over as the main gravedigger in Ypsilanti from Mr. Suggs two years ago. Mr. Suggs himself currently rested in a grave well back from the road that Jesse himself had dug with extra care. Jesse didn’t run the cemetery—that job belonged to the great and gloomy Frederick Huff, who issued daily orders from the caretaker’s house and only emerged to complain at Billy Cake and the other fellows who worked the cemetery. But it was Jesse who dug the graves.

Highland Cemetery had opened twenty-some years ago, a little ways before Jesse was born, and it had stolen away all the business from Prospect Cemetery. Didn’t seem to matter that Prospect was half a mile closer to downtown Ypsilanti, with its growing Normal School and expanding railroad system. Prospect still failed to prosper.

Problem was, Prospect had both proven too small, so the city had bought a big chunk of loamy hillside outside Ypsilanti and named it Highland Cemetery. The local Catholic community had been scandalized at the idea of sharing eternity with Protestants and even Lutherans, so they had bought a bit of land right across the road for their own dead, keeping Mr. Suggs, and now Jesse, busy digging graves for both. Meanwhile, the townsfolk stopped using Prospect Cemetery entire, and no one seemed interested in paying Jesse Fair or Billy Cake to even trim its trees, so these days the verge ran wild. The inhabitants didn’t complain.

It was a serpent night, with the chill breeze hissing in the leaves. Jesse wound through the stones until he came to the new grave of Elmer Pitt. The thin glow of a little lantern on the ground illuminated the markers from the bottom up, and the familiar quiet sound of a wooden shovel biting earth came to Jesse’s ears. Resurrection men always used wooden shovels. They made less noise. Jesse crept closer.

The resurrection man had already made good headway and was knee-deep in the ground at the head of the grave. Two canvas drop cloths lay beside him, one to catch the dirt, and the other to receive Elmer Pitt. Jesse noted the well-worn leather gloves covering the resurrection man’s hands. The man also had a crowbar and a length of rope.

“So you’re from the University Medical School,” Jesse said in the dark.


Author Bio

Steven Harper

Steven Harper Piziks was born with a last name no one can reliably spell or pronounce, so he usually writes under the name Steven Harper. He grew up on a farm in Michigan but has also lived in Wisconsin and Germany and spent extensive time in Ukraine.

So far, he’s written more than two dozen novels and over fifty short stories and essays. When not writing, he plays the folk harp, lifts weights, and spends more time on-line than is probably good for him. He teaches high school English in southeast Michigan, where he lives with his husband. His students think he’s hysterical, which isn’t the same as thinking he’s funny.

Author Website: http://www.stevenpiziks.com

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/steven.piziks

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/StevenPiziks

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/250784.Steven_Harper

Other Worlds Ink logo

Chasing Tarzan by Catherine Forster Review

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

Author Catherine Forster takes readers on an emotional journey through a turbulent childhood and the pursuit of a new beginning in her book “Chasing Tarzan”.

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The Synopsis

In the 1960s, a relentless school bully makes Catherine’s life a living hell. She retreats inward, relying on a rich fantasy life––swinging through the jungle wrapped in Tarzan’s protective arms––and fervent prayers to a God she does not trust. She fasts until she feels faint, she ties a rough rope around her waist as penance, hoping God will see her worthy of His help.

As the second of eight children, Catherine is Mommy’s little helper, and like Mommy, Catherine is overwhelmed. The bullying and the adult responsibilities together foment her anger. She starts smacking her siblings, and becomes her younger sister’s nemesis. Spooked by who she is becoming, Catherine vows to escape for real, before she hurts someone—or herself.

Catherine finds salvation in a high school exchange program: new town, new school, new family, new persona. A passport celebrity. In New Zealand, nobody knows her history or her fears. Except for her Kiwi “mum,” who sees through Catherine’s façade and pulls her out from her inner safe-house.

Exposed, her sense of self implodes. Catherine must finally rethink who she is.

The Review

This was both a heartbreaking and inspiring read all at once. The author’s story truly held an emotional depth that so many readers are going to be able to relate to, and the authenticity for which the author writes captures the intensity of the author’s experiences growing up that led to her behavior and struggles to go into the exchange program. 

The imagery and tone the author struck early on in the book were so passionate and heartfelt and highlighted the anxiety and hardships that the author endured early in life. The themes were the heart of this narrative, as the exploration of the impact bullies has on a child, the cost of trauma on our outlook on life, and the need for changes in our lives to thrive and grow all played a pivotal role in the author’s story.

The Verdict

A moving and captivating coming-of-age meets memoir narrative, author Catherine Forster’s “Chasing Tarzan” is a must-read book filled with emotional storytelling, thoughtful attention to themes, and an honesty that cannot be replicated. The relatability that this story has will compel readers to dive into the story, while the travel and foreign exchange program aspect of the book will have readers invested as the author’s journey continues. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Purchase a copy of Chasing Tarzan on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. You can also add this to your GoodReads reading list.

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About the Author

Catherine Forster honed her powers of observation early on, and later applied them to artistic endeavors. Although it didn’t happen overnight, she discovered that seeing and hearing a bit more than the average person can be beneficial. As an artist, her work has exhibited in museums and galleries across the United States and abroad. Her experimental films have won accolades and awards in more than thirty international film festivals, from Sao Paulo to Berlin, Los Angeles to Rome, London to Romania. Through her work, she explores the dynamics of girlhood, notions of identity, and the role technology plays in our relationship with nature.

In her capacity as an independent curator, she founded LiveBox, an eight-year project that introduced new media arts to communities at a time when few new what media arts was. For the past four years she has been a member of the curatorial team for the Experiments In Cinema Film Festival held annually in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She received a Masters of Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, a Masters of Business from the London Business School, and a fellowship in writing from the Vermont Studio Center. She is also included in the Brooklyn Art Museum’s Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art.

You can follow her on her website as well as on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Blog Tour Calendar

October 24th @ The Muffin

Join us as we celebrate the launch of Chasing Tarzan by Catherine Forster. We’ll be interviewing the author, sharing information about the book, and hosting a giveaway. 

https://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com/

October 25th @ Pages and Paws

Join the Pages and Paws blog and read the review of Chasing Tarzan by Catherine Forster.

https://pagesandpaws.com/

October 25th @ Lisa Haselton’s Reviews & Interviews

Join Lisa as she interviews author Catherine Forster about her book Chasing Tarzan.

https://lisahaselton.com/blog/

October 26th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Visit Anthony’s page and read his review of Chasing Tarzan by Catherine Forster.

October 27th @ Chapter Break

Join Julie as she shares a guest post by Catherine Forster about the role of imagination when children suffer torment.

https://chapterbreak.net/

October 30th @ Rockin Book Reviews

Join Lu Ann as she reviews Chasing Tarzan by Catherine Forster.

November 2nd @ The Mommies Review

Join Glenda as she reviews Chasing Tarzan by Catherine Forster and hosts a giveaway on her blog.

https://themommiesreviews.com/

November 3rd @ Sioux’s Page

Visit Sioux’s blog as she reads and reviews Chasing Tarzan by Catherine Forster.

http://siouxspage.blogspot.com/

November 4th @ The Faerie Review

Join Lily as she reviews Chasing Tarzan by Catherine Forster.

https://www.thefaeriereview.com/

November 5th @ Jill Sheets Blog

Jill interviews Catherine Forster about her memoir Chasing Tarzan.

http://jillsheets.blogspot.com/

November 7th @ Clueless Gent

Join Michael as he reviews Chasing Tarzan by Catherine Forster.

November 10th @ Word Magic

Come by Fiona’s blog and read a guest post about the mother-daughter relationship in all its complexities.

http://fionaingramauthor.blogspot.com/

November 12th @ Just Katherine

Jamie shares her thoughts about Chasing Tarzan by Catherine Forster.

https://justkatherineblog.wordpress.com/

November 13th @ Writer Advice

Catherine Forster shares a guest post about how her idea for her memoir came to be and how she turned it into a novel.

https://writeradvice.com/

November 15th @ Choices

Madeline shares a guest post by Catherine Forster about the long-term effects of bullying.

http://madelinesharples.com/

November 17th @ All the Ups and Downs

Join Heather as she features a guest post by Catherine Forster about the role of adults and how they can be the potential savior for the wounded child.

https://alltheupsandowns.blogspot.com/

November 19th @ Boots, Shoes and Fashion

Join Linda as she interviews author Catherine Forster about her book Chasing Tarzan.

https://bootsshoesandfashion.com/

November 19th @ Life According to Jamie

Jamie shares her thoughts about Chasing Tarzan by Catherine Forster.

https://lifeaccordingtojamie.com/

Guest Post: The Art of Brevity: Writing the Novella by Elizabeth Maria Naranjo

In early 2017 I read an enthusiastic review about a newly translated novel by Argentinian author Samanta Schweblin. The review gave very little away but described the book as surreal and horrifying and something to be read in one sitting. That sounded pretty intriguing, so I headed to the bookstore and bought a copy. The novel was called Fever Dream. 

I did indeed read Fever Dream in one sitting. Not only was it everything the reviewer had promised—strange and foreboding and beautifully written—it was also incredibly brief. At fewer than 30,000 words, this masterful slice of horror is technically a novella—a story that falls somewhere between 20,000 and 50,000 words. 

Many renowned classics are novella length: John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men is around 30,000 words; Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea is 27,000, and Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle is fewer than 45,000.   

There’s just something about a story carved down to its bare essentials that feels especially potent.  

Horror stories in particular can benefit from brevity. Sustaining an atmosphere of claustrophobic dread is easier to achieve in 150 pages vs. 600. A narrower word count naturally leads to more clarity and focus, something that can get lost with a wide cast of characters and multiple subplots. 

When writing the novella, get to know your protagonist well and keep the story focused on her. Make sure your plot doesn’t stray from the main conflict; limit or eliminate subplots. Carefully consider backstory; for every detail you give about your main character’s past, ask yourself if it really matters. Finally, use a narrow time frame for your story, and only a few settings.  

It takes discipline to simplify your story and choose your details wisely, but learning the art of brevity pays off with a tightly plotted narrative that your reader won’t want to put down.

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About the Author

Elizabeth Maria Naranjo is the award-winning author of The Fourth Wall (WiDo Publishing, 2014). Her short fiction and creative nonfiction have been published in Brevity Magazine, Superstition Review, Fractured Lit, The Portland Review, Hunger Mountain, Hospital Drive, Reservoir Road, Literary Mama, Motherwell, and a few other places. Her stories have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best American Essay, and Best of the Net. All links to Elizabeth’s work can be found on her website at elizabethmarianaranjo.com.

Social Media Links:

#thehouseonlindenwaynaranjo

Tweets by emarianaranjo

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8124819.Elizabeth_Maria_Naranjo

– Blog Tour Calendar

September 19th @ The Muffin

Join us as we celebrate the launch of The House on Linden Way by Elizabeth Maria Naranjo. Crystal interviews the author about her book and also gives away a copy to one lucky reader.

https://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com

September 22nd @ Deborah Adams 

Today, The House on Linden Way is in the spotlight at Deborah Adams blog with a guest post written by Elizabeth Maria Naranjo titled: Exploring our Deepest Fears Through Speculative Fiction.

http://www.deborah-adams.com/blog

September 23rd @ The Faerie Review 

In today’s spotlight at The Faerie Review is Elizabeth Maria Naranjo’s latest book The House on Linden Way – readers will be thrilled to learn more about this fabulous read! 

https://www.thefaeriereview.com/

September 26 @ What is That Book About 

Elizabeth Maria Naranjo is in the spotlight at What is That Book About as readers learn more about Naranjo’s thriller: The House on Linden Way! Don’t miss this blog stop on Naranjo’s WOW! Women on Writing book blog tour!

https://www.whatisthatbookabout.com/

September 27th @ Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire with Mindy McGinnis 

Elizabeth Maria Naranjo pens today’s guest post at Mindy’s blog. Learn more about Naranjo’s latest book The House on Linden Way as well as today’s topic: Traditional vs Self Publishing and My Experience with Both as Naranjo offers some insight into her stories!

https://www.mindymcginnis.com/blog

September 30th @ The Faerie Review

Hear some of Elizabeth Maria Naranjo’s favorite October stories as she pens today’s guest post at The Faerie Review. This is also your chance to learn more about her latest thriller: The House on Linden Way. Don’t miss this opportunity!

https://www.thefaeriereview.com/

October 1st @ Boots, Shoes and Fashion

Linda at Boots, Shoes and Fashion shares her thoughts after reading Elizabeth Maria Naranjo’s latest book called The House on Linden Way. This is a thrilling read and we can’t wait to hear what Linda thinks!

https://bootsshoesandfashion.com/

October 2nd @ Word Magic with Fiona Ingram

Fiona from Word Magic is hosting Elizabeth Maria Naranjo today. This is a great opportunity for readers to learn about Naranjo’s latest book: The House on Linden Way as well as read her guest post titled: The Lingering Ghosts of Our Childhood Homes. Readers will be thrilled to hear from Naranjo!

https://fionaingramauthor.blogspot.com/

October 3rd @ One Writer’s Journey 

Sue Bradford Edwards offers her review of The House on Linden Way by fellow author Elizabeth Maria Naranjo. Find out what Sue thinks and learn more about this thriller!

https://suebe.wordpress.com/

October 3rd @ World of My Imagination

Nicole Pyles of WOW! Women on Writing offers a thoughtful review of The House on Linden Way by Elizabeth Maria Naranjo – readers won’t want to miss the opportunity to learn more about this thrilling book and it’s talented author!

https://worldofmyimagination.com/

October 8th  @ Boots, Shoes and Fashion 

Linda interviews Elizabeth Maria Naranjo about her latest thriller, The House on Linden Way! This book blog tour is one readers won’t want to miss – it’s THRILLING!

https://bootsshoesandfashion.com/

October 10th  @Girl Zombie Authors 

Chris at Girl Zombie Authors shares her review of Elizabeth Maria Naranjo’s The House on Linden Way – will it be too thrilling for this fellow author? Find out TODAY and be thrilled!

https://girlzombieauthors.blogspot.com/

October 10th  @ Choices with Madeline Sharples

Today’s post is titled: Tips For Getting Unstuck While Writing Your Novel and it’s penned by none other than Elizabeth Maria Naranjo as she just released her latest thriller The House on Linden Way. Find out more today!

http://madelinesharples.com/

October 11th  @ Author Anthony Avina

Author Anthony Avina puts fellow author Elizabeth Maria Naranjo in the spotlight today as readers learn more about The House on Linden Way – this is a book blog tour stop that will thrill and delight!

Homepage

October 13th  @ Knotty Needle Creative

Judy reviews The House on Linden Way for readers at Knotty Needle Creative – find out more about this thriller and it’s talented author Elizabeth Maria Naranjo!

http://knottyneedle.blogspot.com/

October 16th @ Literary Quicksand

Jessica from Literary Quicksand reviews The House on Linden Way by Elizabeth Maria Naranjo – what will she think? Will fellow author Elizabeth be able to thrill Jessica? Stop by today to find out!

https://literaryquicksand.com/

October 18th  @ Author Anthony Avina

Author Anthony Avina reviews the work of fellow author Elizabeth Maria Naranjo and offers his thoughts about The House on Linden Way!

Homepage

October 20th @ Reading is My Remedy

Chelsea from Reading is My Remedy offers her review of Elizabeth Maria Naranjo’s The House on Linden Way for readers of her blog. This is a thriller and we can’t wait to find out Chelsea’s take on it!

https://readingismyremedy.wordpress.com/

October 23rd @ Literary Quicksand

Jessica from Literary Quicksand interviews Elizabeth Maria Naranjo – learn more about this talented author and her latest thriller, The House on Linden Way!

https://literaryquicksand.com/

October 25th @ Author Anthony Avina

Author Elizabeth Maria Naranjo pens today’s guest post at fellow author Anthony Avina’s blog with the title: The Art of Brevity; Writing a Novella. Hear from Elizabeth and find out more about her latest thriller, The House on Linden Way.

Homepage

October 27th  @ The Frugalista Mom

The Frugalista Mom offers her review of The House on Linden Way by Elizabeth Maria Naranjo. Find out more and stop by today!

https://thefrugalistamom.com/

October 30th  @ Wildwood Reads

Megan from Wildwood Reads offers her review of the thriller The House on Linden Way, by Elizabeth Maria Naranjo! Stop by and get in the mood for tomorrow!

https://wildwoodreads.com/