Tag Archives: book blog

Guest Blog Post: Poetry and Image by Anne Leigh Parrish

Hello everyone! Author Anthony Avina here. I am happy to be sharing with you all this amazing guest post from author and poet Anne Leigh Parrish, where she discusses poetry and the utilization of visual representation in poetry. I hope you all will enjoy this stop in association with the Poetic Book Tours. Look for my review of the author’s upcoming book on November 4th. 


Poetry is a visual expression, even when it’s about politics, or feminism, or how nasty people can be. In poems, words evoke both what we feel and see. This is important to me, I’d say even crucial. Since leaving the urban mess of Seattle four years ago and coming to the quiet of a Northwest forest outside of Olympia, I find nature supplies a great deal of visual stimulation to write about.

Many poems begin with an image—something I notice and want to capture. Moss hanging from a branch; the darting of a jay; how a gust of wind gives a suddenness to how trees move.

Once the image is expressed in words, I delve into what those words mean. If moss drapes a branch, what else drapes, when, and why? A ring drapes a finger, for instance, but that draping is intentional, not the result of a natural process – or is it? This is where poetry gets really fun, because the ring on the finger could, in fact, result from an expression of love, man to woman, or man to man, and love is a recognized natural process. 

I also like to underscore differences among things and explore commonly held ideas and expectations, quite often about women. Returning to moss as a poetic subject, looking at it you might think it feels soft and silky, but it doesn’t. It’s rough and scratchy. Its appearance is deceptive, and in one poem I say moss evolved, went one way / then another which improved its chances / like a woman / nice to be reminded things / aren’t always as they seem, even if / truth at first disappoints

How many women feel the weight of the world’s expectations on them, particularly about how they look?

Using an image to shift the poetic drive or narrative into an unexpected direction is another way I craft my work. Violence against women is a theme I return to again and again, usually to raise awareness of the issue in general, but sometimes as a vehicle to open another door and prompt another discussion. This is where poetry and philosophy tend to blend and lose their boundaries. What if a woman finds herself needing the help of a man who then destroys her, and the poem reveals that it wasn’t because she was weak, or vulnerable, too trusting, or naïve, but because she had been distracted by something beautiful and thus let her guard down? She then reflects wryly from the afterlife that beauty gets her every time. 

Sometimes I like to start with a metaphor and build a world around it that stands on its own logic, even if what it’s depicting has no logic. I see this as another way poetry can bend reality. In my poem “even the trees went under” a couple’s home is gradually falling apart from heavy rain. Obviously, the story represents how bad things have gotten between them, and as the water rises and they climb higher in the home, the woman turns into a mermaid and is faced with a life or death decision: will she save the man, or leave him alone to drown?

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The title piece from my new collection explores the idea of objectivity in the face of turmoil. Two souls are held together by their not entirely healthy need for one another. They realize they’re really one monster, twirling before the sky / laughing at stars/ daring the moon to cut us apart. But the moon won’t be dared . . . how we love her joyous remove / up there alone. Again, nature as a force and backdrop comes into play, now as something uninvolved, coolly reflecting the occasional absurdity of the human condition.

On my last trip to Arizona, an elderly couple walked across the parking lot toward the restaurant where I was having dinner. They were backlit by a gorgeous Southwestern sunset. Their manner suggested years of life together, and for some reason, these images came down to the idea of a needle and the work that needles can do, in particular holding things together. This couple walked like looped stitches/ in the slanted evening light and through their many years they have/sewn, pulled apart / frayed / and dropped the needle’s thread / but now they rest and / gather up their loosened strands/ bound together / always.

I’ve been married for decades, and this fact too no doubt informed that piece.

And what of life overall? The gradual passing of time? How to express the understanding of one’s mortality? You have to have reached a certain age for these questions to be relevant, even poignant and yes, I’m there. I remember my mother saying to grow old was to become increasingly detached, and this idea became the basis for the poem I quote here, in its entirety (it’s brief) and logically entitled “time.”

let’s call it a study in detachment / gradual drift from passion to prayer / then even that loses strength / we grow quiet, soft, and slow/joyous in the face of this timely withdrawal / we’ve given  so much, we’re ready now to hold a little back from / this riot of shifting light we know / as life

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About the Author/Poet

Anne’s first fiction publication appeared in the Autumn 1995 issue of The Virginia Quarterly Review. That story, “A Painful Shade of Blue,” served as the basis for more fiction describing the divorce of her parents when she was still quite young. Her later stories focused on women struggling to find identity and voice in a world that was often hostile to the female experience.

In 2002, Anne won first place in a small contest sponsored by Clark County Community College in Vancouver, Washington. In 2003 she won the Willamette Award from Clackamas Community College in Oregon; in 2007 she took first place in highly esteemed American Short Fiction annual prize; and in 2008 she again won first place in the annual contest held by the literary review, The Pinch.

The story appearing in American Short Fiction“All The Roads that Lead From Home” became the title story in her debut collection, published in 2011 by Press 53. The book won a coveted Silver Medal in the 2012 Independent Publisher Book Awards. Two years later, a collection of linked stories about the Dugan family in Upstate New York, Our Love Could Light The World, was published by She Writes Press.

Her debut novel, What Is Found, What Is Lost appeared in 2014. This multi-generational tale speculates on the nature of religious faith and family ties, and was inspired by her own grandparents who emigrated to the United States in 1920.

A third collection of short stories appeared in 2017 from Unsolicited Press. By The Wayside uses magical realism and ordinary home life to portray women in absurd, difficult situations.

Women Within, her second novel, was published in September 2017 by Black Rose Writing. Another multi-generational story, it weaves together three lives at the Lindell Retirement home, using themes of care-giving, women’s rights, and female identity.

Her third novel, The Amendment, was released in June 2018 by Unsolicited Press. Lavinia Dugan Starkhurst, who first appeared in Our Love Could Light The World, is suddenly widowed and takes herself on a cross-country road trip in search of something to give her new life meaning.

Maggie’s Ruse, novel number four, appears October 2019 from Unsolicited Press, and continues with the Dugan family, this time focusing on identical twins, Maggie and Marta.

What Nell Dreams, came out in November 2020 from Unsolicited. This collection of sixteen short stories also features a novella, Mavis Muldoon.

The next installment in the Dugan families series, A Winter Night, was released in March 2021 from Unsolicited Press. Anne’s fifth novel focuses on eldest Dugan Angie and her frustrations as a thirty-four-year-old social worker in a retirement home.

Anne has been married for many years to her fine, wise, and witty husband John Christiansen. They have two adult children in their twenties, John Jr., and Lauren.

About Lydia Selk 

Lydia Selk is an artist who resides in the pacic northwest with her sweet husband. She has been creating  analog collages for several years. Lydia can often be found in her studio with scalpel in hand, cat sleeping on her  lap, and a layer of paper confetti at her feet. You can see more of her work on instagram.com/lydiafairymakesart

Shadowman: Book One by Cullen Bunn & Valiant Comics Review

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

As terrifying forces begin to tear at the very fabric of reality, Shadowman rises to face a growing and sinister new threat in writer Cullen Bunn and Valiant Comics new collection, “Shadowman: Book One”.

The Synopsis

The forces of darkness are awakening and they are hungry for life.

Jack Boniface, a.k.a. Shadowman, faces the terrors that tear at the fabric of humanity’s world. As the forces of darkness pry open doorways across the nation, the Shadowman will make a cross-country descent into horror… as something far more sinister emerges from the shadows.

From the bestselling master of horror Cullen Bunn (Venom) and bone-chilling artist Jon Davis-Hunt (Clean Room) comes a shocking supernatural odyssey!

Collecting SHADOWMAN (2020) #1–4.

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The Review

Such a brilliant reintroduction into the world of Shadowman for both newcomers and longtime fans of the character and Valiant’s universe overall. The balance that the collection found between visceral and gritty artwork and layered mythology building and character growth was amazing to watch unfold. The way the author wrote the narrative to showcase these self-contained battles in each issue, each representing a battle within humanity itself, while also alluding to an all-connecting source that is growing out of control was so well executed and kept me as a reader invested greatly.

The almost muted tones of the scenery in each panel did a great job of highlighting the horror and carnage these creatures left behind as the Shadowman worked to seal these breaches in the veil. What was great to read through was Jack’s evolution as a character, seeing him being thrust into new situations as the rules of these battles and the creatures he is facing seems to be changing before his eyes, giving the hero a new challenge that reinvents the character’s arc overall.

The Verdict

A chilling, heart-pounding, and action-packed volume of comics, author Cullen Bunn and Valiant Comics’s “Shadowman: Book One” is a must-read book of 2021, and the perfect read for fans of both graphic novels and the spooky/Halloween season. The tone and atmosphere seemed to be a blend of Ghost Rider, Buffy the Vampire Slayer mythos building, and Blade’s maturity all rolled into one ass-kicking horror thriller, and I cannot wait to dive into the next volume. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Cullen grew up in rural North Carolina, but now lives in the St. Louis area with his wife Cindy and his son Jackson. His noir/horror comic (and first collaboration with Brian Hurtt), The Damned, was published in 2007 by Oni Press. The follow-up, The Damned: Prodigal Sons, was released in 2008. In addition to The Sixth Gun, his current projects include Crooked Hills, a middle reader horror prose series from Evileye Books; The Tooth, an original graphic novel from Oni Press; and various work for Marvel and DC. Somewhere along the way, Cullen founded Undaunted Press and edited the critically acclaimed small press horror magazine, Whispers from the Shattered Forum.

All writers must pay their dues, and Cullen has worked various odd jobs, including Alien Autopsy Specialist, Rodeo Clown, Professional Wrestler Manager, and Sasquatch Wrangler.

And, yes, he has fought for his life against mountain lions and he did perform on stage as the World’s Youngest Hypnotist. Buy him a drink sometime, and he’ll tell you all about it.

Visit his website at www.cullenbunn.com

Chasing Fireflies by Chloe Fowler 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 facing the prospect of a life without her sister meets a young man in her senior year who comes from a dysfunctional family, but soon learns that by breaking down his defenses she may have a future she never dreamed of in author Chloe Fowler’s “Chasing Fireflies”.

The Synopsis

Everything happens for a reason.

Rainey Collins has heard this a thousand times, but when it comes to her sister Maverick, who was born with a serious heart defect, the reason has always been a mystery. The idea of a future without her sister terrifies Rainey so much, she hasn’t even thought about life after high school. However, on the first day of senior year, Rainey winds up sitting next to Liam Hayes, a rumored delinquent with a dangerously dysfunctional family. Convinced that people shouldn’t be judged by their relatives, or by the price tag on their clothes, Rainey slowly begins to breach Liam’s defenses, and finds herself wondering if some dreams—and some futures—are worth the risk.

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The Review

Wow, what an emotional roller coaster. The author did such a beautiful job of layering this YA contemporary romance novel with not only drama, but gripping themes of hope in the face of adversity, when one door closes another one opens, and opening ourselves up to new possibilities. The atmosphere and tone felt realistic and heartbreaking to read and watch come to life. 

What defined the heart of this narrative was the character development of the protagonist and the supporting cast. So many readers will be able to relate to these characters and their struggles, from protagonist Rainey and her budding romance with Liam while struggling with her sister’s failing health, to Liam and his hardships with his abusive stepfather and his natural distrust of people overall. The characters felt like they could just walk right off the page and into our lives, making this a truly engaging story.

The Verdict

Emotional, heartfelt, and gripping in the narrative’s delivery, author Chloe Fowler’s “Chasing Fireflies” is the tear-inducing YA Contemporary Romance/Drama that readers never knew they needed this fall. The shocking twist in the main characters and their story will have readers left with tears in their eyes and highlights the impact that people can have on our lives overall. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

I have spent most of my life writing stories, from epic fantasies to Celtic sagas, and even the odd romantic thriller. My debut novel, Chasing Fireflies, is a YA contemporary romance that is now available on Amazon (Did I actually say that? I can’t believe it.) 

When I’m not writing or coming up with off-the-wall story ideas, I can be found curled up with a k-drama and a cup of tea. Likely due to the influence of my English heritage, it is my firm belief that tea is the solution to all one’s problems. Especially when it is accompanied by a plate of biscuits.

I enjoy singing very loudly in the shower (my apologies to the neighbors), dancing in the kitchen, playing the piano, and recently made a brief foray into learning the cello. I have trained karate for many years, and received my black belt in 1999, back when my body was made with rubber and magic, and was significantly less creaky than it is now.

I was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta where I live with my husband and one very pissed off cat named Ren. 

Blood Mark by J.P. McLean 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 who has spent her entire life with mysterious red birthmarks and terrifying nightmares finds her world turned upside down as the birthmarks begin fading, and the dreams become more vivid as a serial killer sets their sights on her in author J.P. McLean’s “Blood Mark”, the first in a brand new paranormal thriller series.

The Synopsis

What if your lifelong curse is the only thing keeping you alive? Abandoned at birth, life has always been a battle for Jane Walker. She and her best friend, Sadie, spent years fighting to survive Vancouver’s cutthroat underbelly. That would have been tough enough without Jane’s mysterious afflictions: an intricate pattern of blood-red birthmarks that snake around her body and vivid, heart-wrenching nightmares that feel so real she wakes up screaming.

After she meets the first man who isn’t repulsed by her birthmarks, Jane thinks she might finally have a chance at happiness. Her belief seems confirmed as the birthmarks she’s spent her life so ashamed of magically begin to disappear. Yet, the quicker her scarlet marks vanish, the more lucid and disturbing Jane’s nightmares become—until it’s impossible to discern her dreams from reality, and Jane comes to a horrifying realization:

The nightmares that have plagued her since childhood are actually visions of real people being stalked by a deadly killer. And all this time, her birthmarks have been the only things protecting her from becoming his next victim.

Blood Mark is the first in a brand-new paranormal thriller series by JP McLean, author of The Gift Legacy series and whose writing has been described as “. . . deftly crafted, impressively original, and inherently compelling from first page to last.”

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The Review

This was a refreshing new take on the paranormal thriller genre. The integration of Inca mythology into a modern-day thriller was engaging and thought-provoking, giving readers a wonderful blend of mythology and gritty crime thriller. The author’s own writing was outstanding, delivering a very descriptive and creative balance of imagery and character growth that felt very cinematic as a whole. 

The characters themselves were so captivating to read. Each character brought a complex and emotional background to the narrative, and the mature setting and tone of the storyline really allowed the author to explore the nuances and thoughtful approach to the character’s arc. Jane was a well-rounded new heroine in this paranormal thriller and did an excellent job of creating a bond between the reader and the narrative overall.

The Verdict

A magical, haunting, and entertaining read, author J.P. McLean’s “Blood Mark” is a brilliant new paranormal thriller! The pacing and chilling atmosphere the author crafts, along with the heartbreaking backstories and gripping action that takes place make this a standout read, and will leave readers eager to devour more books from this author. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

I’m very fortunate to live in a writer’s paradise on one of the small northern Gulf Islands off the eastern shore of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. The rugged beaches and towering fir and arbutus trees that surround me often end up in my stories. When I’m not pouring my imagination into my computer, I’m futzing in gardens, making a mess of the kitchen or hiking local trails. I write stories that entice you to believe the impossible and escape the everyday for a while. Enjoy the read!

I’m also on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/JPMcLeanBooks

Erift’s Journeys: Secrets of The Sealed Forest by J.T. Tenera Review

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

A young man and his best friend find themselves tasked with stopping another young man from unleashing an ancient power on the earth while discovering that magic and fantasy worlds are very real in author J.T. Tenera’s “Efrit’s Journeys: Secrets of the Sealed Forest”. 

The Synopsis

What would you do if you were given the chance to embark on a real life adventure? Would you take the plunge, or let it pass on to the next person?

After being lured halfway across the globe with the promise of an exclusive video game event, Joseph Erift is pushed on a journey by a coffee-addicted professor that will forever change his life. He never thought magic could be real. That it was just an element found in fantasy stories and games. Airships and magic spells that create fire and slow time don’t exist in our real world.

However, if that were the case, then why is he seeing these things, and why are him and his best friend being sent on a quest to stop a misguided young man from awakening an ancient power?

Erift’s Journeys is a contemporary fantasy for ages 12+ with very mild language and fantasy violence. It features action and adventure, magic, and coming of age themes and is heavily inspired by RPG video games and anime. It follows a young protagonist overcoming incredible odds while meeting new friends during an unexpected trip that leads to a long road of self-discovery. 

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The Review

This was the perfect way to capture the heart and passion of Fantasy-driven projects, including animated series and video games. The author perfectly captured the voice and atmosphere of the YA Fantasy genre, while redefining the genre by bringing fantasy elements into a modern-day setting. The action and mythos the author builds here feel fresh and put a fresh twist on long-standing fantasy tropes. 

The character growth and development of the protagonist and his allies were fun and exhilarating to read. Not only is Joseph a great protagonist to help readers feel represented and connected to the growing fantasy world the author draws readers into, but his friendship with Eric is engaging, as is his rivalry with newcomer Ryan. The character’s ability to connect with their hero’s journey through video games will really connect modern YA readers with this genre, while the iconic theme of the hero’s journey feels well represented in this narrative.

The Verdict

A brilliant, entertaining, and grand journey of self-discovery, adventure, and heroism, author J.T. Tenera’s “Efrit’s Journeys: Secrets of the Sealed Forest” is a must-read novel of 2021! A story that balances humor, iconic fantasy mythos, and modern-day character growth, the twists and turns this narrative takes will not only be engaging for readers but will leave them wanting more from this very cinematic writing from the author. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

J.T. Tenera will fully admit that he never wanted to become an author when he was a child. Born March 10th, 1987, his dreams consisted of one thing; making video games when he grew up. However, a project in the 8th grade changed his mind. His class was tasked with writing and illustrating their own children’s book. After receiving 110% on the project, and being told by his teacher that he was talented in story telling, he started down a more creative path. Especially since he later learned that making video games was a lot more complicated than he thought as a child.

Tenera originally published Erift’s Journeys when he was a senior in high school. It was a proud moment seeing the story he dreamed about finished as a real book. However, it was all just for fun. He wouldn’t realize his desire to take his writing to a professional level until 2019. Mostly self-taught, Tenera now works to bring his world to life for readers of all ages, all while doing his best to find time to game in between.

Interview with Author Bill Richardson

  1. Congratulations on the release of your novel, Hell Fighters: 21st Century Lovecraft!  For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the book’s premise, and what inspired you to tell this story?

Professor Max Heller stumbles upon a remote area in the woods that challenges everything he thought he knew about the world. There is an evil in this place that defies logic. An evil with murderous intent. An evil that can destroy the world. Heller then joins a self-proclaimed group of Hell Fighters who wants to defeat this evil. Together this ragtag bunch of misfits embarks on a journey to save the world from an evil that is so great that it can barely fit into the human mind. The story has cults, giant monsters, otherworldly beings, doomsday preppers, survivalists, ancient gods, mystical technologies and more. It will shock you, scare you, challenge you intellectually and awe you. 

I wrote the book for several reasons, but one was that I wanted to play in the wonderful world that Lovecraft created. The evil in HP’s work is so foreign and otherworldly that it is difficult to even conceive of a way to combat it. In most of his stories the evil either wins or the main character escapes it. No one ever really defeats it. 

When I was a boy reading Lovecraft, it often left me unsatisfied. I wanted more. I wanted more detail. I wanted to see the monsters and understand the evil. The forces he shows us are on this grand scale but he always wrote about them in these very short works. It was like a mosaic that revealed different parts but never the whole. I wanted to gather up all those fascinating threads Lovecraft created and weave them into a big, cohesive tale that is accessible to a modern reader. The story features the Quantum Resonator, Arkham, Miskatonic University, an aspect of the Elder Gods, malformed monstrosities and many other elements of Lovecraft. But it’s also book you can enjoy if you’ve never read any of Lovecraft’s stories. 

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  1. The novel deftly combines fantasy and Lovecraftian horror.  What can you share with us about your creative process in weaving these narratives together, and what have been some of your creative influences?

As to influences, I read horror, sci if, fantasy, crime, non-fiction, historical fiction, poetry, classics and literary fiction. How that becomes what I write is something of a mystery to me. I’ve always leaned toward dark stories and most of what I write has a dark edge to it. But I also do a lot of humor, so go figure. As to process, I keep cramming stuff into my head until something comes out. I go to bookstore and browse covers and titles. I’m also a visual artist and sometimes I’ll create an image that will spark a story idea. I read, listen to audiobooks, watch movies and daydream about stories. Every waking minute, I’m either immersing myself in creative content or trying to create it myself.

  1. At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums.  How do you feel that Heller’s story will connect with and impact readers, and why do you feel that this story was important for you to bring to life?

Heller is a person who has always used his intellect to solve his problems. But he comes face to face with something so foreign and otherworldly that it defies all logic. So it requires him to use other skills to take on the enormous challenges he faces. He has to get out of his comfort zone and become something of a man of action. I’m interested in the idea that there is a hero in all of us. If put in the right situation we can all rise to the occasion and be heroic in our own way. Churchill was a mediocre politician before the war and after it too. But when the challenge of the Nazi invasion came, he was able to rise to meet it and become something more than he was before, or even after. What is a hero? A hero is someone who takes on a challenge that they think is too big for them and meets that challenge. We can all do that in our lives. I want people to realize that they can be more than they think they are. 

  1. Do you foresee expanding the novel into subsequent books, if given the opportunity?

I would like to continue Heller’s story and the Hell Fighters as well. Another thing I explore in the book is how the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. How a group of people with different skills and failings can come together and do more than any of them could do alone. It’s like how the Beatles or the Stones or any other musical group you can name is better together than they are separately. I would like to explore that more with these characters. I have entire story arcs for each of them in my head. I leave the book open for the possibility that there can be more and I have several ideas. But I really enjoy exploring new worlds and new characters and at this point I’m more comfortable with that. Honestly it will come down to what fans want. If they want more, I’ll give it to them. 

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  1. In addition, you also have the audiobook version of More Than Evil coming to Audible.  What can you share with us about the premise of this book, and how would you describe your creative process in bringing it to life?

In More Than Evil a group of coal miners release an evil force that has been trapped in the earth for millennia. It begins to spread through their isolated town, overtaking its citizens and turning them into virtually unkillable monstrosities. Harlan is the local sheriff and he has to figure out a way to stop these unstoppable creatures before the evil spreads to the wider world.

More Than Evil and Hell Fighters are very different in tone. More Than Evil is quite visceral. It’s not gore for the sake of gore. The blood is central go the plot and the nature of the evil we encounter but there is plenty of it. It’s kind of like Clive Barker’s early writing in that way. 

I wanted to make the audiobook for More Than Evil a different experience than reading the novel. As a result, I used my years of filmmaking experience to create what I like to call, a movie for your ears. I created a rich 3D soundscape with tons of music and effects. The audiobook has both dark and light humor in it that the prose version doesn’t. This was done with music and effects, not by changing the text. The idea is that you can enjoy each version in a different way. Horror really lends itself to the kind of audio treatment I used in this audiobook but it rarely gets it. That’s what sets it apart and elevates it. It’s a very different listening experience than you’re used to.

  1. Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?

I have a book on Kindle Vella called Two Girls Save the World. It’s basically YA adventure/horror. You can read almost half of it for free on that platform. And the appeal of that book is broader than the title or genre might lead you to believe. Guys will like it and adults will too. I have a lot of other stuff in the can and I’m trying to figure out which one to release next. The genres range from SF to fantasy to historical fiction. There will be a new release the 2nd half of February for sure. My intention is to have a release schedule of February and September of each year. 

  1. Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Hell Fighters, More Than Evil, and your other work? 

My website is https://bilrichardson.com  and below is a link to my Amazon author page. I’m on Goodreads and twitter @billrichardso10 as well. 

Let me say in closing that I appreciate every person who gives my work a chance and reads it. It is a struggle for every author to build an audience. My number one rule is, don’t be boring. I’ve got a 4+ star rating across all platforms, so a lot of people have liked my work. I feel confident that readers who try my books will enjoy them. 

I’ve been fortunate to do a lot of cool things in my life. I’ve been a film and TV producer, a nationally know historian, artist and writer. I’ve been inside the great pyramids of Egypt, embraced the pillars at Stonehenge, seen the world’s greatest works of art in person. Those things brought me great joy, but not as much as writing does. I hope folks will come along on my writing journey with me. I promise it will be a blast. 

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About the Author

As a filmmaker Bil Richardson has produced feature films, documentaries, commercials and a 16 episode series for the History Channel.

He has appeared on numerous national TV shows including CBS This Morning, CBS Sunday Morning, American Pickers, Mysteries at the Museum, the National Geographic Channel’s Diggers and Discovery Networks’ Blood Feuds.  

His films are being used as teaching tools at such prestigious universities as UC Berkeley, Carnegie Mellon and Marquette; and are part of the U.S. Library of Congress holdings. 

Bil has been quoted in the New York Times, USA Today, Washington Post, London Times and hundreds of other newspapers.  He was a contributing author on the Random House book, The Appalachians, the West Virginia Encyclopedia and has published both fiction and non-fiction. 

Professor Richardson has been featured as a speaker both nationally and internationally and his work has been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts. 

Among his many other creative ventures Bill has done covers for books, magazines and graphic novels. 

Lies My Memory Told Me by Sacha Wunsch 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 whose parents have developed a memory sharing system discovers her parents hiding secrets from her, and the young man she’s most comfortable around appears to be fearful of her in author Sacha Wunsch’s psychological mystery novel, “Lies My Memory Told Me”.

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The Synopsis

From the thrilling voice of Sacha Wunsch comes a heart-stopping psychological mystery in a world where memories can be shared—but maybe not trusted.

Enhanced Memory changed everything. By sharing someone else’s memory, you can experience anything and everything with no risk at all: learn any skill instantly, travel the world from home, and safeguard all your most treasured secrets forever. Nova’s parents invented this technology, and it’s slowly taking over their lives. That’s where Nova comes in. She can pick up the slack for them—and she doesn’t mind. She knows Enhanced Memory is a gift, and its value outweighs its costs.

But Kade says Nova doesn’t even know the costs. Kade runs a secret vlog cataloging real experiences, is always on the move, and he’s strangely afraid of Nova—even though she feels more comfortable with him than she ever has with anyone. Suddenly there are things Nova can’t stop noticing: the way her parents don’t meet her eyes anymore, the questions no one wants her to ask, and the relentless feeling like there’s something she’s forgotten.

But there’s danger around every corner, and her own home might be the most dangerous place of all.

The Review

The author did a fantastic job of building the tension and suspense of this YA Sci-Fi read! The story starts by integrating this futuristic new mythos and technology into the settings of this narrative, and it really highlighted the highs and lows of advancing technology in our own world and the way virtual worlds and experiences have slowly begun replacing the real-life experiences this world has to offer. 

The character arcs here held the biggest twists and turns in the narrative. The protagonist, Nova, evolves into such a complex and emotionally invested hero in this YA world, and the twists not only in her story but in her relationships were shocking to read. The heart and emotional pull of this narrative came in the exploration of the morality of technology, and what truly defines our identities as well. 

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The Verdict

Highly entertaining and a great balance of suspense and world-building, author Sacha Wunsch’s “Lies My Memory Told Me” is a must-read YA Sci-Fi read of 2021! The shocking finale will have readers truly invested in the characters and their arc, and the only critique I can offer is that the Epilogue in this book feels a bit rushed, and leaves enough room for world-building and mythos to have hope the author will revisit this world again someday. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

Sacha Wunsch grew up dividing her time between the family farm in Canada and traveling to numerous fictional worlds. She was a bookseller before discovering her love of writing mind-twisty novels – which has proved an excellent job since she gets to blame all the TV she watches on her love of storytelling. She now splits her time between the city and the lake, and still travels to made-up worlds as often as she can.

BUY LINKS:

Bookshop.org: https://bookshop.org/books/lies-my-memory-told-me/9781335018274 

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lies-my-memory-told-me-sacha-wunsch/1138272834 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Lies-My-Memory-Told-Me/dp/1335018271 

Target: https://www.target.com/p/lies-my-memory-told-me-by-sacha-wunsch-hardcover/-/A-83991421 

Walmart: https://www.walmart.com/ip/Lies-My-Memory-Told-Me-Hardcover-9781335018274/212186456 

LibroFM: https://libro.fm/audiobooks/9781705040577-lies-my-memory-told-me?bookstore=wakefieldbooks

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Sacha_Wunsch_Lies_My_Memory_Told_Me?id=vdo5EAAAQBAJ

Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/lies-my-memory-told-me/id1541146528

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/in/en/ebook/lies-my-memory-told-me

SOCIAL LINKS:

Author website: https://sachawunsch.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sachawunsch

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

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55920773-lies-my-memory-told-me?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=yWdh9NEb7s&rank=1 

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Excerpt From “LIES MY MEMORY TOLD ME”

Prologue

The platform was a hundred and fifty feet up.

I tried not to look down.

I hadn’t even known I was afraid of heights until the moment I stood up there.

The stranger came up to me, grinning. “You’re going to love it,” he said.

I swallowed.

My entire body was sweating, most notably my palms, slipping as I tried to grip the safety harness.

Was I really going to do this?

No. I was going to get unclipped, turn around, and simply climb back down what felt like the millions of stairs stretching below me.

And then, just as I started to turn, someone pushed me off the platform.

I screamed as I dropped, nothing but air beneath me.

And then… I started to glide.

The scream kept coming a few seconds more, but my heart did a flip before it could reach my mind. I was soaring. Over the treetops. Whizzing along the zip line at high speeds. It was the best thing I had ever felt.

I had never been this free. Which made sense, I was essentially flying, after all.

Giggling was very much not in my nature, but there I was, giggling anyway. I closed my eyes to get a better sense of the wind on my face, but when the sweet scent of fresh-blooming flowers greeted me, I opened them again. Sure enough, the trees several yards below my feet were blooming some kind of large purple flower.

I sucked in a breath, wishing I could inhale the whole scene, wanting to appreciate it as much as I could—savor it—knowing it wouldn’t last forever, and landed gently on the other side.

I did not have to be pushed off the second platform—barely able to wait my turn to jump again. I soared from platform to platform, wishing nothing more than for this to go on forever, grinning all the way, and realizing only at the last second that the final landing platform wasn’t a platform at all, but a deep, cooling pool.

I sucked in a breath, and with a final burst of adrenaline, I splashed into the crystal-clear water.

TWENTY MINUTES EARLIER

“Come on, open it,” Mom said, her smiling beaming.

I held the small, beautifully wrapped box, unable to imagine what it was. My parents knew I wasn’t really that into jewelry, and neither were they really, but what else could be in such a small box?

I tore into it and flipped the lid open.

Which confused me even more. It wasn’t a ring or a pendant, just a small metal disk.

Dad sensed my confusion. “Give it a second,” he said, beaming even brighter than Mom.

In a blink, a form emerged, a hologram above the disk. There was no sound, but it looked like the person in the hologram was gliding through the tops of trees high in the air.

“This is…really cool,” I said, and meant it, but couldn’t help but feel like I was missing something.

Mom was practically bouncing on the couch. “We wanted to do something special for your birthday.”

“Thank you” was all I could really think to say. The disk was pretty cool, but what the hell was with their enthusiasm?

“You’re welcome Nova,” Dad said. “But this isn’t the whole thing. It’s the experience of it that’s the real gift.”

“The experience of it?”

Mom had gotten up and gone to the desk by the front door. She picked up another box, this one unwrapped, and pulled something from inside.

“Here, you put this on,” she said, handing me a clunky set of headphones plugged into a small handheld device about the size of a phone.

“The disk goes in there,” Dad said, and showed me how to open it, setting my new present inside.

And then I experienced my first ever zip line.

As the experience ended, I blinked my eyes open, a hundred percent sure I’d be soaking wet, but I was sitting right back in my living room. The sensation was a bit disorienting, but my parents were staring at me like they were about to explode.

“What was that?” I asked, grabbing the hem of my shirt, which I couldn’t quite comprehend being dry.

“That was Enhanced Memory,” Dad said, but the look on his face said so much more—like if he’d had feathers, they’d be plumaged out like the most badass peacock of the bunch.

“What did you think?” Mom asked, clasping her hands like she had so much energy whizzing through her body she had to do something to hold it in.

“Well obviously it was amazing, but by the way you two are acting, you already know that.” I couldn’t help but grin. They were just so cute sitting there all proud of themselves. “But seriously, what is this? What is Enhanced Memory?”

I’d seen 3D movies and had even tried virtual reality once, but this was way beyond either of those. This was next level.

“It’s simple,” Dad said. “The headphones are equipped with dozens of…well, let’s call them electrodes for sake of ease, though really, they’re more advanced than that.”

“Okay,” I said, mostly with him still, although knowing Dad it wouldn’t be long until the science-y droning took hold and steered him right off the layman’s term trail.

“And these,” he said, taking the disk out of the machine and holding it up, “are Memories.”

“Memories.”

Mom nodded. “We discovered a way to extract memories and reproduce them.”

“Wait, you guys created this?”

Mom nodded, her smile huge and eyes wide. “This is what we’ve been working toward all these years.”

My mouth dropped open. I knew my parents had been working on some kind of project for a long time, but I guess I hadn’t really been that interested in what it was.

Mom laughed at my stunned expression while Dad came over to give me one of his signature kisses on the top of my head.

“Happy birthday, sweetheart,” Mom said, beaming.

I mean, they were scientists and science was basically the last thing I wanted to pay attention to, so I never really asked many questions.

But this was way beyond science. This was…actually kind of awesome.

A smile crept across my face. I couldn’t wait to try it again. 

Excerpted from Lies My Memory Told Me by Sacha Wunsch, Copyright © 2021 by Sacha Wunsch. Published by Inkyard Press. 

HELLROSE by Emma M. King Review

A doctor plagued by traumatic visions of trauma must try to fix her past by helping a new patient at the asylum she works at in author Emma M. King’s “HELLROSE”.

The Synopsis

Over the past 150 years, HELLROSE psychiatric hospital has become one of America’s most feared establishments.

After being plagued by flashbacks to a terrifying past, a psychiatrist, Dr. Lisa Williams, tries to repair her life by helping a new outlandish patient who has his own horrifying history.

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The Review

This was a gripping psychological thriller! The author did an incredible job of delivering a tense and haunting look into the world of mental health and the criminal justice system, exploring how mental health can affect so many people, not just a particular group of people, and the shocking behavior and actions that can arise within someone so completely separate from their own personalities. 

The character exploration was detailed and engaging in this novel. The protagonist’s personal struggles mirror the intensity of the environment around her, and the twisted cases that arrive on her desk daily. The mystery surrounding her new patient and the investigation that arises during his evaluation will have readers on the edge of their seats. 

The only thing of note here is that some of the dialogue between characters can come across as less natural and more pointed, so my only critique would be taking a less “tell” approach to the character’s interactions and more of a “show” approach instead, but honestly this happens only a couple of times that I could see so the narrative overall feels powerful enough to overshadow those few instances.

The Verdict

An entertaining, chilling, and thought-provoking psychological thriller, author Emma M. King’s “HELLROSE” is a must-read novel for the fall 2021 season! Shocking revelations and a twist ending will take readers by surprise, and the novel showcases the depth and experience the author has brought to this particular genre of thriller, making the narrative’s tone feel authentic and more engaging. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 8/10

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About the Author

Born in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Emma M. King graduated from Penn State University with a degree in journalism & psychology.

Her publishing story has been covered by the Wall Street Journal, Entertainment Weekly. She has appeared on ABC’s World News Now and America This Morning.

Emma lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with her family. She enjoys traveling, hiking, kayaking, and exploring the city’s best brunch options. She regularly blogs about her “writing life” at www.emmaking.co.

Hollister McClane by Laurie Lisa Review

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

After stumbling into her first bank robbery, newly-formed criminal Hollister McClane takes readers on a journey of discovery, danger, and more in author Laurie Lisa’s “Hollister McClane”.

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The Synopsis

Hollister McClane is a small-town, southern Missouri, gorgeous (if she does say so herself) heroine who has a knack for accidentally robbing banks, a convenience store, and a possible drug cartel. She might inadvertently throw in a couple of grand theft autos, but truly, she wouldn’t hurt a fly–not even when that Ruger falls into her lap.

Savvy and self-taught, eternally optimistic and zealously patriotic, Hollister walks, runs, hitchhikes, and drives from one chance encounter to another across America’s heartland. After accidentally robbing her first bank dressed as Uncle Sam, Hollister sees her newfound life on the run as a matter of Fate. And it doesn’t hurt that she is a genius at disguises (if she does say so herself).

Hollister always tries to do the right thing with her newfound bounty, but somehow, it keeps slipping through her fingers. Also, there are a few obstacles along the way: the law, the lovers, the three not-quite-ex-husbands, the babies, and always, world-weary Mama. When Hollister finally does use that gun, unfortunately, she’s pointing it too close to home.

The Review

This was a truly engaging read. Author Laurie Lisa hits it out of the park once more, delving into the crime thriller genre with ease and finding the perfect balance of this genre with humor and charm. The theme of morality, and how desperation and miscommunication can easily lead someone down a dark and dangerous road made this story shine brightly.

Hollister McClane was a brilliant protagonist/antihero. The unique perspective of the character’s arc is fascinating to read, as the character gives a first-person POV as her journey into a life of crime grows deeper and deeper throughout the narrative. What is fascinating is seeing how the character rationalizes and frames the arc of her journey. From the moments trying to shed light on the path not taken, to the growth and experience she takes on as time moves forward, and even to the open-ended finale that highlights the character’s story, Hollister truly becomes the driving force of her own novel. 

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The Verdict

Something that author Laurie Lisa has done so well over the course of several books is creating relatable, realistic, and emotionally-driven reads that focus heavily on intricate character development, and Hollister McClane is no different. From the complex relationships with exes, her mother, and the law, to the balance of humorous observations on the protagonist’s part and the brilliant writing that showcases the author’s talent for fleshing out strong and unique characters, this novel, “Hollister McClane” by Laurie Lisa, is an instant smash hit! If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

Laurie was born and raised in Southern Illinois.  She obtained her B.S.in English Education from the University of Illinois, where she also met and then married her husband Steve. Laurie earned both an M.A. and a Ph.D. in English (20th-century American literature) from Arizona State University, where she also taught literature and composition. In addition to her novels, Laurie has published two academic books, several short stories and poems, and edited other’s works. After much time spent in Academia and raising her three children (Anthony, Michelle, and Caitlin), Laurie returned to her passion for writing fiction.  She is a prolific writer of contemporary upmarket women’s fiction and typically completes one novel each year. 

Laurie resides with her husband, Steve, in Paradise Valley and Flagstaff, Arizona.

https://laurielisa.com/