Tag Archives: book thoughts

The Iron Crown by L.L. MacRae Audiobook Tour

Author: L.L. MacRae Narrator: RJ Bayley Length: 17 hours 7 minutes Producer: Audiobook Empire Publisher: L.L. MacRae Genre: High Fantasy Released: July 22, 2022


Fenn’s first and only memory is finding himself in the middle of a forest, face to face with a dragon spirit mocking him, all knowledge gone apart from his own name. Lost and confused, his only hope for answers is Calidra—a woman living on the edge of the world with her partner. Forced to return home when her father dies, Calidra has put off facing her estranged mother for seven years, and she begrudgingly helps Fenn, forging papers for him so he can avoid the Queen’s Inquisitors. But her mother is the least of her worries when they discover an ancient enemy is rising again. It should be impossible with the Iron Crown in power—and Fenn is terrified he might unwittingly be playing a part in the war’s resurgence. Surrounded by vengeful spirits and powerful magic, Fenn’s desperate attempt to find his way home might well alter the fate of Tassar, and every power in it. A new high-fantasy series bursts into life with the Dragon Spirits who reign supreme in the magic-drenched world of Tassar.
L.L. MacRae is a fantasy author of character-driven stories and epic adventure. Her books usually contain dragons, bucket-loads of magic, and are typically fun and hopeful. She lives in a tiny village in the English countryside, has a degree in Psychology, and was a professional copywriter before going full-time as an author—swapping corporate copy for magic and dragons! An accomplished full-time voice actor and audiobook narrator with 4 years of experience. RJ’s voice has been described by peers as a ‘well-weighted baritone, balanced & deep at the same time.’ Natually he’s got a mild Yorkshire lilt that’s trustworthy and relatable. He’s extremely adaptable however and capable of many convincing accents, or anything you throw at him really. RJ’s broadcast quality studio consists of a fully acoustically treated room, RØDE NT-1A microphone, Reaper digital audio workstation and Izotope RX7 for clean-up and mastering for that high end sound. So far he’s narrated over 30 audiobooks with more currently in production. As a VO he’s been the voice of brands such as Nickelodeon, Johnson and Johnson, Network Rail, Aegon, Accord and more. He’s friendly, reliable, professional, takes direction well and always makes sure you’re happy with your narration. He maintains he’s not trying to ruin his own career by deafening himself with heavy metal on his dog walks. At Audiobook Empire, audio reigns supreme, narrators are hailed as heroes, and headphones are worn with pride. Marrying pomp and circumstance with quality you can count on, Audiobook Empire is a full-service production house that produces and promotes audiobooks with gusto. Give your audiobook the imperial treatment by producing it with Audiobook Empire.
Q&A with Author L.L. MacRae
  • Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?
    • I listen to a lot of audiobooks, so I always have audio versions created of my own novels. It was never a question, really. Accessibility is incredibly important, and having books available in multiple formats is a huge part of that. People who are visually impaired, dylexic, or simply prefer audio shouldn’t have to miss out! So yes, I was always aware there would be an audiobook recording to happen once the novel was complete, but nothing I wrote was changed or affected by the idea it would be narrated, if that makes sense? I did worry about too much alliteration or something like that which might throw off a potential narrator, but that was about the most I was conscious of!
  • How did you select your narrator?
    • It was a bit of a strange process finding the narrator for The Iron Crown! Originally I’d started creating the audiobook with a narrator, but after almost a year without much progress, we decided to part ways. It was a shame, but it happens. It also meant I had a lot of people who’d already been waiting for the audiobook for a year, so I needed to get everything rolling again super quickly. I posted on my social media apologising to everyone waiting for the audio and explained what had happened. I also said (because I try to be transparent with people who follow me) that I’d be opening for auditions shortly. RJ Bayley, who has narrated other superb fantasy including Thirteenth Hour and We Men Of Ash And Shadow reached out to be notified when these auditions opened. We ended up in conversation and I sent him an audition script early. He sent back his audition very quickly and absolutely nailed every single line. He seemed to instinctively “get” my writing – both style and the characters .RJ was so good, in fact, that I would have felt bad opening to auditions because after hearing his version, I doubted I’d hear anyone who fit better. So we decided to move forward together, he did an AMAZING job, and the rest is history!
  • How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process? Did you give them any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters?
    • Honestly, other than a handful of discussions beforehand, there was no working together at all! RJ Bayley is a consummate professional and has a whole “welcome pack” for authors that he narrates for. It makes everything so much easier! He wants to know more about the characters rather than “this specific voice” which allows him the creative freedom to breathe life into the characters. For example, I’d provide information on characters ages, personalities, their level of confidence, where in the world they live (and in relation to each other), which gives RJ everything he needs to build a picture of who they are as a person. The voices he gives to the characters in The Iron Crown are nothing short of spectacular, so I’m very happy with this process! I gave a few pronunciation tips – when it comes to epic fantasy, so many words/names/places are made-up! – so he knew how I’d like them to be said. Of course I was always open in case anything came up that he wasn’t sure about. I heard the first 15 minutes and then nothing until the whole book was complete! It was a lovely surprise when he told me he was done – i was just as excited waiting for it as readers who’d been asking for the audio! Having a more hands-off approach was great. As an indie author, you have to do everything yourself, so leaving the production in capable hands is always a bonus!
  • What are the fantasy influences behind your writing?
    • The Final Fantasy video game series was my first experience of epic narratives, grey characters with incredible backstories, and superb worldbuilding. I return to a number of the titles in this series again and again – like a comfort blanket! But at around eight years old, it was incredibly significant on my psyche!
  • How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing?
    • Music helps, and so do video games! Getting outside and allowing my mind to wander, or simply doing/watching something totally unrelated sometimes helps inspiration grow. Sometimes just going to bed and getting comfy is when my brain throws all the good ideas at me! I try and put trust in my subconscious that it’ll figure out a plot hole or create a new, fun idea that can be incorporated (if not into my current book, then a future project). More tangibly, brainstorming with other creatives – especially if they have totally different writing styles! I’ve had brilliant feedback and ideas generated from being part of a writing group, or just discussing a plot with another author. Their objectivity often allows them to comment on things that I hadn’t considered before, and then a snowball of inspiration begins!
  • Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
    • I’d say close to 80% of my reading is through audiobooks! It’s a fantastic format and can really bring a story to life like nothing else. I always have an audiobook on the go when I’m driving, cooking, cleaning etc. Sometimes I just want to chill out with a jigsaw puzzle and I’ll throw on a chapter or two of my current audiobook! It’s a huge part of reading (we’re told stories as children) and an aspect that I think sometimes receives unfair stigma. If I have the time to do “immersive reading” – where I listen to the audiobook while reading along with a physical copy or eBook – it can heighten the experience to a whole new level! Highly recommend it 😀
  • If you had the power to time travel, would you use it? If yes, when and where would you go?
    • I think I would! As long as I could only observe safely, and not have to actually BE in the new place! I am super curious about the future – a short way ahead, say 50 or 100 years in the future, and also the far future, like 500, 1000, 2000 years in the future! I wonder what happens to humanity and the planet, if we’re okay in the end or if the apocalyptic science fiction becomes reality! But on balance, I’d probably go back to prehistoric times and see dinosaurs! I’m a huuuuge fan of dragons and dinosaurs are basically the next closest thing! So seeing what they really looked like, their behaviour etc. would be what I’d love to see if I could time travel! Ideally I’d be able to come back to the present after a whirlwind tour and hopefully have tonnes of inspiration!
  • Have any of your characters ever appeared in your dreams?
    • Oh yes! All the time! In fact it’s very rare that they DON’T appear in my dreams! It isn’t just characters, either, it’s places and plot points, too. Thankfully, my subconscious is pretty active and many scenes and ideas in my books come from my dreams. Dreams are pretty good at solving plot holes too! It’s a bit strange, but I feel like a lot of creativity comes from the subconscious. Your brain piecing together ideas without you consciously realising, and often the fruits of those appear in dreams. I day dream quite a lot (or at least, I used to!), and I have notebooks and note apps on my phone/laptop full of all these little half-ideas and concepts that often go on to be included in existing series, or even become the foundation for new series! Dreaming and allowing the mind to wander is super important to creativity for me, and I’m always pleased when they appear in my dreams! It’s kind of like visiting old friends that you didn’t know you had!
  • What bits of advice would you give to aspiring authors?
    • Keep writing. Follow the new, shiny ideas until you can write one to the end. Writing a novel is a slog, so keeping motivated as often as possible will help get chunks of it written! Also thinking what you have written is terrible rubbish that should be burned is entirely normal and part of the process. It will pass.
  • What’s next for you?
    • I’m currently writing the sequel to The Iron Crown, called The Shadow Gate. I’m hoping it’ll be released at the end of 2022, but it may be very early 2023. And of course, the audiobook version won’t be far behind! RJ is interested in returning to narrate the sequel, which is great for consistency, so watch this space!
L.L. MacRae’s Top 10 Books Read Last Year
  1. Burn Red Skies – Kerstin Espinosa Rosero (epic fantasy with dragons, elemental magic, and airship smugglers)
  2. Jade Legacy – Fonda Lee (final book in the Green Bone Saga – urban fantasy, crazy family dynamics, mafia-style characters with great martial arts)
  3. Reaper Man – Sir Terry Pratchett (the second of the “Death” books)
  4. Underlord/Uncrowned – Will Wight (some of my favourites in the Cradle series!)
  5. Legends & Lattes – Traveis Baldee (great slice of life, cosy epic fantasy!)
  6. The Thirteenth Hour – Trudie Skies (gaslamp/steampunk fantasy that’s quintessentially British! Feels very epic)
  7. Wolfeater – Anthony Mitchell (standalone fantasy set in a freezing landscape where survival is never guaranteed)
  8. Orconomics – J. Zachary Pike (satirical fantasy/D&D style adventuring with a very grumpy protagonist!)
  9. Iron Truth – S.A. Tholin (sci-fi – two people try and find a way off a ravaged planet where no one can be trusted, everyone haunted by demons…)
  10. Last Gifts Of The Universe – Rory August (cosy sci-fi about loss, family, and adventure)
Pronunciation Guide (Unlisted video) from the author – also gives a description of POV characters and other major characters, as well as some of the dragons in the book: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UkUBHodz_jQ   I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Audiobook Empire. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

Interview with Author Natalie Hanson

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

For many years I concentrated on being a screenplay writer. I had mild success optioning scripts, selling scripts and being hired to write, but never felt the joy of seeing something I wrote on the big screen. Scripts are rarely considered a ‘finished product’. There’s always another producer who wants changes.So my angst for having a completed project led me to pursue writing novels. There is something very satisfying when you are truly done.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

I wanted to write a female character that can do anything a man can. Traditionally women are judged for making choices a man does every day. Who they can sleep with, how they speak, having children. I wanted to create a protagonist that was ashamed to be who she was.

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

In all things, chaos prevails. So just accept it now. The more control you try to have over life the more you will be disappointed.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

In recent years I’ve had a number of folks who have given me the feedback “Your writing is so disturbing. Everyone is so evil!” And I always think “Really, I thought that was just Tuesday!” I guess I live in the dark places where most people just visit. For me, my creative work has always been on the gritty side.

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

I’d be interested in asking Zalla about her life choices. One seemingly small choice can change your entire life. I’d love to explore how her life might have turned out differently had she zigged instead of zagged.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership? Oh, this one’s a tough one. I will fully admit I am not good at social media. It’s a real skill that requires time and dedication. I strive to improve in the future.

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

Your writing is going to suck, and it’s OK. It takes thousands of hours to start pumping out good material. So in the beginning, be open to feedback and adjust. Edit out your favorite thing from a story if it’s not working. Be prepared to do anything to make the material better.

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

The Zalla series includes five novels. They are all complete and book 4 & 5 are being edited now. I wanted to get all the heavy lifting of writing out of the way so I’d have more time to devote to promotion and the logistics of self-publishing. I am looking forward to getting them all out there into the world!

About the Author

Natalie Hanson is an author and screenplay writer born and raised in Seattle, WA.

‘The Unknown Man’ is the first of five novels chronicling the hunt for serial killers and criminals by FBI agent Zalla Bennbett. This dark series examines the worst criminals humanity has to offer through the eyes of a jaded agent, struggling to keep optimism alive and fight for the voiceless.

Book two in the series, ‘The Butcher’, is an upcoming release.

Her novel ‘Every Moment and Not a Second More’ was published on Amazon in 2018.

Currently she is collaborating on a horror genre comic series based on her screenplay “Dociles.” It tells the story of a teen runaway, kidnapped by a medical examiner who turns the dead into zombies. It’s a fight to not end up as one of the herd!

https://nataliehardy9.wixsite.com/author/books

Splurge Dealers & Banshee Addicts by Douglass Goodman Review

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

A futuristic sci-if thriller explores the power of addiction as a plot to control the world by a powerful threat behind the scenes forces humanity and a secret society to join forces, with two special agents caught in the middle in author Douglass Goodman’s “Splurge Dealers & Banshee Addicts”.

The Synopsis

This book is about addiction and its future. The future is not bright. Here are your two choices for our society’s ultimate fate. Will the rampant addiction be to a new drug (Splurge) that gets us high on rationality? Or would you rather have what’s behind door number two, an addiction to an internet of emotional sharing (Banshees)? I should also mention that this latter addiction is part of a conspiracy to control the world. Are you on the side of Splurge Dealers or Banshee Addicts? Those are the choices of our hero, Hunter, a drug-enhanced agent for the DCIA and his new partner, Sammi, who has her own dark secret.

An imaginative, narrative exploration of addiction. It has the high stakes, deadly suspense and hidden conspiracies of a thriller. The what-ifs of science fiction. The gut-emotional impact of horror. Plenty of outrageous sex and lots of humor. It’s fun, taut, thrilling, but more importantly it gives you characters and dilemmas to think and talk about addiction, its consequences and its possible futures.

The first step is to admit you’re powerless. You can’t help yourself. You must read this book.

The Review

An exhilarating story that teeters between a sci-fi adventure and an action thriller, Douglass Goodman delivers a wonderful book that readers can get easily invested in. The analysis of addiction as a whole and the commentary on how so many people will end up substituting one addiction for another was felt heavily throughout this narrative and brought depth to the sci-fi genre.

The multiple POVs throughout the novel was refreshing, giving readers a chance to explore multiple facets of this futuristic universe the author has created. The dialogue shifts evenly between outrageous humor and inner dialogue to thought provoking conversations where readers have to see what is truly more important: emotions or rational thinking, especially in this narrative where a powerful force is set to weaponize emotions through technological addiction. Can one survive without the other?

The Verdict

A mesmerizing, evenly paced and powerful story that felt like it would have been home in a great late 70’s, early 80’s sci-fi film. This is a must read novel and a great way to kick off 2021. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

https://reedsy.com/discovery/book/splurge-dealers-banshee-addicts-douglas-goodman

https://amzn.to/35ioqgS

Salamis by Harry Turtledove Review

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

Two men and the neutral country they call home are caught in the midst of a legendary battle between two warring Marshalls of Alexander the Great in author Harry Turtledove’s historical fiction novel, “Salamis”. 

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The Synopsis

In 306 BC, the small, free, and independent polis of Rhodes is trying to stay neutral between the local great powers, each ruled by one of Alexander the Great’s marshals: Asia Minor, controlled by one-eyed Antigonos, and the Egypt of Ptolemaios. Antigonos’ son, Demetrios, comes to Rhodes seeking an alliance against Ptolemaios. The Rhodians, who trade a lot with Egypt, refuse his offer.

Menedemos and Sostratos take the Aphrodite to Egypt for business…and to tell Ptolemaios what has been going on. Just before they leave, they learn Demetrios has invaded the island of Cyprus, which Ptolemaios dominates. He is advancing on the southeastern town of Salamis, where Ptolemaios’ brother, Menelaos, has concentrated his forces.

After they pass on their news, Menedemos does business in the brash new city of Alexandria while Sostratos travels up the Nile to old, old Memphis to trade there, and to see the Pyramids and the Sphinx. Ptolemaios, meanwhile, readies a fleet to rescue his brother and drive Demetrios back to Asia Minor.

Ptolemaios, needing shipping to carry weapons for the army he intends to land, coerces Menedemos into bringing the Aphrodite along as part of his expeditionary force. And so, very much against their will, Menedemos and Sostratos become small parts of one of the ancient world’s greatest naval battles. 

The Review

A wonderful deep-dive into ancient history, author Harry Turtledove has done it again with a stellar novel. The balance the author achieves with the historical background and events of the war between Ptolemaios and Demetrios and the personal relationships and struggles of the protagonists Menedemos and Sostratos is remarkable. War was an all too common event in this period of history, and getting to know the characters personally who were caught in the midst of this war was fascinating to see unfold.

The author’s use of imagery shone brightly in this narrative, with the cities of Salamis, Alexandria, and Memphis coming to life and exploring pivotal locations in Ancient Greece and Egypt. As a history fan, exploring the aftermath of Alexander the Great’s passing as his successors fought over who deserved to rule over the empire he had built was amazing, and giving the role of protagonist to a small historical figure and a fictitious character both was an inspired choice. 

The Verdict

Enthralling, action-packed, and historically driven, author Harry Turtledove’s “Salamis” is a must-read historical fiction novel. The fifth of the Hellenic Traders Universe that the author has crafted around Menedemos and Sostratos was a massive success, with an evenly-paced narrative and engaging characters that made the story come to life as one of history’s greatest battles became the stage for this plot to come to life. From the way, society ran during those days in places like Rhodes to the bond between a family being tested, especially for Menedemos, made this a truly entertaining read. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Dr Harry Norman Turtledove is an American novelist, who has produced a sizeable number of works in several genres including alternate history, historical fiction, fantasy and science fiction.

Harry Turtledove attended UCLA, where he received a Ph.D. in Byzantine history in 1977.

Turtledove has been dubbed “The Master of Alternate History”. Within this genre he is known both for creating original scenarios: such as survival of the Byzantine Empire; an alien invasion in the middle of the World War II; and for giving a fresh and original treatment to themes previously dealt with by other authors, such as the victory of the South in the American Civil War; and of Nazi Germany in the Second World War.

His novels have been credited with bringing alternate history into the mainstream. His style of alternate history has a strong military theme.

https://www.sfsite.com/~silverag/turtledove.html

Manufacturing Civility: People Treatment as a Continuous Improvement Strategy by Christian Masotti and Lewena Bayer Review

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

Authors Christian Masotti and Lewena Bayer show readers how to utilize civility to create an overall better work environment and experience in the manufacturing industry in the book “Manufacturing Civility: People’s Treatment as a Continuous Improvement Strategy”.

The Synopsis

Incivility at work is real. And it is real in manufacturing.According to a Gallup State of the American Workplace report, 75 percent of manufacturing workers are disengaged at work. In fact, the manufacturing industry, according to the Gallup report, is the least engaged industry across sectors.A closer look at the research reveals that a primary cause for this disengagement is poor leadership. Specifically, supervisors and managers with low social acuity are co-creating uncivil workplace cultures.Manufacturing Civility provides a 6Cs formula for solving people problems. These strategies result in continuous improvements that shift workplace culture away from traditional toxic and uncivil organizations towards healthier, more positive workplace experiences for employees in manufacturing environments.The “people-treatment” aspects of the proprietary Manufacturing Civility methodologies have been co-created by 20-year, internationally recognized experts in the field of civility training-Lewena Bayer, CEO of Civility Experts Inc., and a veteran of the manufacturing industry, Christian Masotti. The tried-and-true methodologies shared in the book have been proven to impact individual morale, wellness, and outlook in organizations across sectors, including manufacturing.Civility-when specifically applied to how people are treated at work, is a continuous improvement strategy that has been proven to have measurable impacts on:• Retention and engagement• Performance• Workplace wellness and safety• Innovation, creativity, and problem-solving• Bottom-line business metrics, including profitability.

The Review

This is a truly eye-opening read for those readers involved in the manufacturing industry, as well as those who aren’t. The increase in knowledge surrounding mental health and the treatment of others is well known in our day and age, but its effect on workers in the workplace is not always widely discussed. The author’s perfectly highlight the growing conditions of workers, especially in the manufacturing industry, and how it impacts productivity for companies as well as work conduct.

The authors do a great job of implementing a great number of detailed strategies into the book, especially for a shorter book like this one. From “Interruption Strategies” that showcase techniques to stop disruptive behavior in the workplace to how fear-based leadership and behavior in the workplace can lead to short-term increases, but long-term illness and stress related to work environments, the authors showcase a wide range of data and experience to highlight how treating workers with respect and dignity can go a long way not only for morality but productivity in the workplace as well.

The Verdict

A thorough, quick, and educational read, authors Christian Masotti and Lewena Bayer hit it out of the park with their book “Manufacturing Civility: People Treatment as a Continuous Improvement Strategy”. The read is well-researched and offers readers a step-by-step guide on creating a better workplace environment in the manufacturing industry. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08711N71J/ref=x_gr_w_bb_glide_sin?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_glide_sin-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B08711N71J&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2

Can’t Ride Around It (Deadwood Undertaker Series Book 3) by Ann Charles and Sam Lucky

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

The Santa Fe Sidewinders come back together again to face a powerful new threat to the town of Deadwood after a series of grave robberies and missing bodies lead to a startling discovery in authors Ann Charles and Samy Lucky’s “Can’t Ride Around It”, the third book in the Deadwood Undertaker Series.

The Synopsis

Some things you just can’t ride around …

Jack “Rabbit” Fields knew a good thing when he saw it, whether it was a sound horse, a sure bet, or a pretty sage hen. When it came to locking horns with any curly wolves he ran into along the trail, he tended to shoot first—a notion that had saved his hide more times than he could count. But that was before he came to Deadwood.

Now, someone is stealing freshly dead bodies right out of their graves, and Rabbit and his amigos are on the hunt to figure out who. And more important, why?

Unfortunately, finding the answers to those questions will take plenty of Rabbit’s bullets, and maybe his blood, too. When the shooting stops and the smoke clears, he reckons there will be a whole lot more cold corpses in the Black Hills. With any luck, he won’t be one of them.

Hold onto your hats and saddle up for another action-filled adventure with the Santa Fe Sidewinders, Clementine, Hank, and the rest of the goldurn Deadwood devils!

The Review

A truly fantastic blend of supernatural horror and old school Western/action & adventure storytelling! Authors Ann Charles and Sam Lucky have crafted a masterpiece western tale like no other, as longtime fans of the series get to see the characters grow and adapt to even greater threats, and even have some romance thrown into the mix for good measure.

Although I had not read the first two books in the series, I found it quite easy as a new reader to get sucked into the story and to find myself invested in these characters and their stories. Character development plays a huge role in this series, and I found myself drawn to the adventures shown with Clementine and Boone, who’s relationship is as interesting as the story itself. The deep cut into supernatural mythology was great as well, introducing a monstrous threat to the area that is not quite as well known as saying vampires or werewolves, but the authors still manage this paranormal aspect with ease as the novel still embodies that classic action/western feel and tone, crafting incredible imagery throughout the novel.

The Verdict

A heart-pounding, engaging, and evenly-paced read, authors Ann Charles and Sam Lucky’s “Can’t Ride Around It” is a fantastic entry into the western series the authors have crafted together. With non-stop action and amazing character development throughout the novel, then the humorous and adventurous novel is a must-read this holiday season. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Authors

Ann Charles is an award-winning author whowrites mysteries that are splashed with humor, romance, and whatever else shefeels like throwing into the mix. When she is not dabbling in fiction, arm-wrestlingwith her children, attempting to seduce her husband, or arguing with her sassycat, she is daydreaming of lounging poolside at a fancy resort with a blendedmargarita in one hand and a great book in the other.

http://anncharles.com/

https://www.facebook.com/AnnCharlesAuthorPage/

https://www.instagram.com/Ann_Charles/

https://twitter.com/AnnWCharles

Sam Lucky likes to build things—from Jeep engines to Old West buildings to fun stories. When he is not writing, feeding his kids, attempting to seduce his wife, or tending the goldurn cats, he is planning food-based booksigning/road trips with his wife and working on one of his many home-improvement projects.

He writes the Deadwood Undertaker Series with Ann Charles. The first book is called LIFE AT THE COFFIN JOINT, available now.

The second book, A LONG WAY FROM ORDINARY, will be available this summer.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08K5XJYCT?ref_=dbs_m_mng_rwt_calw_tkin_2&storeType=ebooks

From Daylight to Madness (The Hotel #1) by Jennifer Gordon Review

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

A woman dealing with a tremendous loss finds herself in a haunting location, battling her own inner demons while desperately searching for answers to the mysteries surrounding her in the gothic thriller “From Daylight to Madness (The Hotel #1)” by author Jennifer Gordon.

The Synopsis

The latest book from the critically acclaimed author of Beautiful, Frightening, and Silent; Jennifer Anne Gordon.

On an almost uninhabitable rocky island off the coast of Maine, a Hotel looms over the shore, an ever-present gray lady that stands strong like a guard, keeping watch. For many who come here, this island is a sanctuary and a betrayal.

This is a place where memories linger like ghosts, and the ephemeral nature of time begins to peel away …like the sanity of all who have been unlucky enough to step foot on its shore.

In the late spring of 1873, Isabelle gave birth to her son Oscar, he cried for three startling minutes, and then went silent. During the months that follow, Isabelle is drugged and lulled into an almost hallucinatory world of grief and fear. Her life begins to feel as though it exists in a terrifying new reality separated from those around her …

When her grieving begins to make her husband, Henry, uncomfortable, he and his mother conspire to send Isabelle away to a Summer Hotel on Dagger Island, where she can rest and heal. While they are adamant that the hotel is not an asylum and that Isabelle will be able to return eventually to her home, Isabelle understands in her heart that it is all a lie. That perhaps, everything about being a woman in this time, may have always been a lie.

Her family has lied to her, and she has lied to herself.

The Hotel, of course, is not what it seems, and the foreboding Dagger Island begins to feel more like a prison than a retreat. Isabelle hears relentless sounds coming from the attic above her room, and the ever-present cries of small children scream in her head almost constantly. Are they hallucinations, or are they connected to the small cemetery she found, filled with the fresh dirt of little graves, the brokenhearted reminders of people that no one believes ever existed?

She meets a fellow guest at the Hotel, a young, enigmatic, and deeply damaged priest, named Francis.

Together they teeter on the edges of reality and try desperately to become free from the fates that their pasts have bound them to.

From Daylight to Madness is a poetic, and haunting Gothic Fiction novel that is both profoundly unsettling and darkly romantic. 

The Review

What a beautiful yet tragic and engaging read! The author has become one of the best voices for the gothic horror genre in recent years, crafting a narrative that incorporates haunting scenes that send chills down the reader’s spine and overwhelming emotional beats in the character’s stories that keep the reader hanging onto every word of every chapter.

The way the author highlights the overbearing role women were placed into in society at this time and how it can be applied to how some people still view women’s roles in society only adds to the depth and tone of this wonderful read. The protagonist Isabelle and Francis and their bond with one another really grab the reader’s attention. Isabelle is an especially amazing character, as she is not only dealing with the loss of a child, but an uncaring husband and his mother, and her own struggles with never having felt the true love of any kind. The haunting reality of whether or not someone feeling that way could ever recognize love if they saw it is something many readers could identify with and adds to the emotional and haunting atmosphere of the novel.

The Verdict

A memorable, beautifully haunting yet heart-breaking and evenly-paced read, author Jennifer Gordon’s “From Daylight to Madness (The Hotel #1)” is a must-read gothic horror tale of 2020. One of the best gothic reads of the year, this novel creates chilling imagery and truly remarkable poetic storytelling that is not to be missed, and with a shocking final chapter that leads into a second novel, this is a story not to be missed. Be sure to grab your own copy of this book today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

https://www.jenniferannegordon.com/

https://www.facebook.com/JenniferAnneGordonAuthor/

https://www.instagram.com/jennifergenevievegordon/

https://www.patreon.com/JenniferAnneGordon

https://twitter.com/JenniferAnneGo5

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Dead of Winter Break (Cassandra Sato #3) by Kelly Brakenhoff Review

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

A woman working on a college campus in Nebraska finds her first Christmas in the area facing uncertain danger as a killer begins targeting her in author Kelly Brakenhoff’s “Dead of Winter Break”, the third book in the Cassandra Sato series.

The Synopsis

It’s beginning to look a lot like murder . . .

And Cassandra is knee deep in . . .

Suspects.

Her boss is dead, and the police are calling it burglary gone wrong. But when the killer comes after her, it’s going to take more than a pair of furry boots to keep the smart, witty Morton College administrator, Cassandra Sato, out of the deep. . .

Snow.

Her first Christmas in Nebraska could be her last unless her friends help unravel the mystery and housebreak her dog.

Buy now for a fast-paced, holiday themed whodunit.

The Review

A perfect whodunnit story just in time for the holiday season. The author does an amazing job of setting the pace early on in this story, crafting equal time for humor and a look inside of college campus life while also adding a deep air of mystery and dread with the murder of the protagonist’s former boss. While I had not read the first two books in the series thus far, I found Cassandra Sato to be a strong protagonist who had shown through looks into previous adventures and in this novel alone some serious growth as a character.

In any good mystery, atmosphere and mystery are two of the most crucial components. The author does a wonderful job of including both in this novel, as the story expertly crafts the shocking mystery of who killed Cassandra’s formally retired boss and infuses the setting of this small Nebraskan town naturally into the story itself. Cassandra’s wit and humor pair well with the narrative as well, creating a protagonist who readers can easily identify with and root for all at once.

The Verdict

A fun, exciting, and engaging mystery read, this is the perfect book to cozy up with next to open fire and a nice cup of tea. Author Kelly Brakenhoff’s “Dead of Winter Break” is the perfect next chapter in the Cassandra Sato series, and does an excellent job of showcasing why the mystery genre is one that will never truly tire out, as the author manages to keep the pace and tone of the novel fresh and exciting all the way throughout the novel. Be sure to grab your copy of this amazing winter read today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

KELLY BRAKENHOFF is an American Sign Language Interpreter whose motivation for learning ASL began in high school when she wanted to converse with her deaf friends.

Kelly writes the Cassandra Sato Mystery series including DEATH BY DISSERTATION, a 2020 RONE Award Mystery Finalist, DEAD WEEK, “a diverting whodunit,” (Publishers Weekly), and DEAD OF WINTER BREAK, a holiday themed cozy new for 2020!

NEVER MIND, and FARTS MAKE NOISE are her children’s picture books featuring Duke the Deaf Dog and illustrated by her sister, Theresa Murray. The Duke books have quickly become popular with children, parents, and educators for promoting inclusive conversations about children with differences.

The mother of four young adults and a hunting dog, Kelly and her husband call Nebraska home.

https://kellybrakenhoff.com/

https://www.instagram.com/kellybrak/

https://www.facebook.com/kellybrakenhoffauthor

https://twitter.com/inBrakenVille

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The Children of Red Peak by Craig DiLouie Review

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

Three survivors of a cult reunite after losing a fellow survivor, and old memories of what they endured lead to another fight for survival in author Craig DiLouie’s “The Children of Red Peak”.

The Synopsis

Bram Stoker Award-nominated author Craig DiLouie brings a new twist to the cult horror story in a heart-pounding novel of psychological suspense.

David Young, Deacon Price, and Beth Harris live with a dark secret. As children, they survived a religious group’s horrific last days at the isolated mountain Red Peak. Years later, the trauma of what they experienced never feels far behind.

When a fellow survivor commits suicide, they finally reunite and share their stories. Long-repressed memories surface, defying understanding and belief. Why did their families go down such a dark road? What really happened on that final night?

The answers lie buried at Red Peak. But truth has a price, and escaping a second time may demand the ultimate sacrifice.

The Review

A remarkably haunting novel, author Craig DiLouie does an amazing job of capturing the raw horror of surviving a doomsday cult. The novel explores the horrors of the cult and the power that changed the path the cult was originally on, but the true heart of this story comes in the characters themselves.

The characters are the gateways into the heart of this story, exploring how the actions of the cult impacted them each in their own ways. While the powerful and supernatural elements of the story that kicks in towards the climax of the story are fascinating, the true horror that comes into this narrative is the cult itself.

As someone who is fascinated and interested in cults and how they come to form, it was engaging to see the character’s own experiences, as they seem so similar to horror stories that have happened in real life. From the change in the cult’s practice from peaceful worship to blind faith to the insistence of obedience to the cult overall and the chilling actions that resulted in murder, mutilation and cultists disappearing, the true scares and spine-chilling atmosphere explored in this novel comes from the cult, something many readers will be drawn to in this novel.

The Verdict

A powerful, emotional, and horrific modern-day horror novel, author Craig DiLouie’s “The Children of Red Peak” is a marvelous read. The shocking events of the past collide with the horrific truth of the future in this novel, and protagonist David, his sister Angela and the other survivors immediately draw the reader in with their own coping skills in the wake of the cult and their bonds with one another. It’s a perfect read as the holiday season approaches, and the book’s final confrontation will have readers thinking critically about the nature of the universe itself. Be sure to grab your copy of this amazing read today.

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

Craig DiLouie is an author of popular thriller, apocalyptic/horror, and sci-fi/fantasy fiction.

In hundreds of reviews, Craig’s novels have been praised for their strong characters, action, and gritty realism. Each book promises an exciting experience with people you’ll care about in a world that feels real.

These works have been nominated for major literary awards such as the Bram Stoker Award and Audie Award, translated into multiple languages, and optioned for film. He is a member of the HWA, International Thriller Writers, and IFWA.

http://craigdilouie.com/

https://twitter.com/CraigDiLouie

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