Tag Archives: fantasy

A Demon’s Trade (Damned If She Does Book 1) by Kathrin Hutson Review

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

A magical bounty hunter finds herself discovering aspects of her power she never saw coming, and a case she refused to take becomes the one case that she never should have given up on in author Kathrin Hutson’s “A Demon’s Trade”, the first book in the Damned If She Does series. 

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The Synopsis

Demons might not be real. But she is.

As a tracker of curse magic, dark artifacts, and forbidden netherwork, Kali Sullivan is one of a kind, and not just as a bounty hunter. They think she’s a demon. What they don’t know can definitely kill them—and worse.

It only takes one slip to throw a curse into utter chaos. So when an overconfident target gets himself killed before Kali can take him in, she’s left to pick up the pieces. And to figure out which magical nutjob had the bright idea to start tattooing casting circles on their victims.

When staking out another dark-magic suspect reveals far more than who’s behind the attacks on humans, the ghosts of Kali’s past come calling in an unexpected way. Their messages give a whole new meaning to who and what she truly is, and it’s darker than she thought. Especially when the one job Kali refused is the one she really should have taken.

Fans of Patricia Briggs and Kim Harrison will love this action-packed Urban Fantasy Adventure from International Bestselling Author Kathrin Hutson.

*Set in the same universe as Kathrin Hutson’s Accessory to Magic series.*

The Review

Immediately I was drawn into this narrative. The author did such an incredible job of crafting a powerful and captivating protagonist and heroine. Kali is the kind of take-charge hero that readers are instantly drawn to, and the dark nature of not only her character but the world she works in perfectly reflects her conflicting nature as well. The first third of the book immediately draws the reader into the narrative, crafting a job for Kali to take that starts out as a simple dark curse extraction and turns into something far more complex than she could have imagined. I also loved seeing her bond with Heath, how they came together amid her horrifying upbringing at the hands of her father, and how these elements played into the central narrative overall.

The fast-paced action in this novel and the atmosphere the author crafts from the dark urban fantasy genre add to the air of mystery and suspense that this series of murders associated with Kali’s jobs has on the reader. The way Kali’s backstory and her personality as a whole come into play later into the narrative are so unique and perfectly mirror how trauma can follow us well past the moments we experience it, and if we aren’t careful to confront that trauma it can hold a grip on us all until we do so. 

The Verdict

A memorable, entertaining, and beautifully written novel, author Kathrin Hutson’s “A Demon’s Trade” is a must-read urban fantasy story. The twists and turns in the narrative and shocking revelations in the book’s final chapters will have readers hooked instantly, eager to learn more about the next entry into this brand new series. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

International Bestselling Author Kathrin Hutson has been writing Dark Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and LGBTQ Speculative Fiction since 2000. With her wildly messed-up heroes, excruciating circumstances, impossible decisions, and Happily Never Afters, she’s a firm believer in piling on the intense action, showing a little character skin, and never skimping on violent means to bloody ends. Kathrin is an active member of SFWA and HWA and lives in Vermont with her husband, daughter, and two dogs.

For updates on new releases, exclusive deals, and dark surprises you won’t find anywhere else, sign up to Kathrin’s newsletter at kathrinhutsonfiction.com/subscribe.

https://www.kathrinhutsonfiction.com/

Red Sun (The Shifter Chronicles Book 14) by M.D. Grimm Review

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

A cat shifter discovers a young wolf shifter roaming the streets of El Paso, TX, after spending his life believing he had a demon possessing him. Taking the wolf under his wing, he brings him to a sanctuary for shifters, developing a close relationship along the way as a shifter hunter is on their trail in author M.D. Grimm’s “Red Sun”, the fourteenth book in The Shifter Chronicles series. 

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The Synopsis

Raphael is no ordinary wolf shifter.

Raphael knows he must be possessed by a demon. What else could explain the aggression, the physical, beastly transformations? To protect himself and others, his father locks him away. But when Raphael is nineteen, the demon gains full control and breaks free. Now Raphael is scared and desperate on the streets of El Paso, Texas, convinced he’s cursed. Then a stray cat enters his life and everything changes.

Ahmes is a cat shifter and knows there’s something off about the young shifter he’s encountered. It soon becomes apparent that the young man doesn’t know what he is, and Ahmes is determined to help and care for him. But gaining the trust of not only the fearsome wolf but the scared young man will take all his persistence.

Friendship, and the potential for more, grows between them as they travel to Haven, Montana—a town founded by shifters, for shifters, and home to a specialized counseling center, one that can help Raphael understand and accept who and what he truly is.

If that wasn’t enough, on their trail is the last person either expected—Gregor Whitefield, the commander of the Knights of the Dawn, which is an organization bent on the eradication of shapeshifters. Gregor enjoys the thrill of the hunt, determined to collect the unique blood that is crucial to Arcas’s great plan.

Raphael’s blood.

The Review

Going into this read, I was worried that I would be totally lost. In the fourteenth book in this series, I was sure that there would be too much history and too many character introductions in past books to be able to understand the foundations of this book. I am very happy to say that I was wrong. The author did such a perfect job of writing this book in a way that could allow it to be a stand-alone style narrative while also delving into the history and mythology of the Shifters and the Knights of the Dawn who are always after them. 

The atmosphere of tension that this war brought into Raphael and Ahmes’s story was entertaining, and the balance the author struck between that facet of the narrative and the more personal LGBTQ-driven romance narratives found on both sides of the story was truly inspiring. The way the author mirrored the coming out process that many LGBTQ people have to undergo and the confusion and even hostility both from family and from themselves with the evolution of Raphael’s story of coming to terms with his wolf spirit was emotional and drove me as a reader forward, eager to watch the emotional evolution of the character as well. 

The Verdict

Engaging, thoughtful, and heartfelt in its delivery, author M.D. Grimm’s “Red Sun” is the perfect next chapter in the Shifter Chronicles series and a must-read LGBTQ-driven fantasy read to start out 2022! With emotional storytelling, great new additions to the Shifter mythos, and memorable characters with a relatable mirrored character arc that readers will be living for, the story will resonate with so many while also delving into the history and culture this genre is so well known for, making this a brilliant story. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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M.D. Grimm has a new MM paranormal book out, Shifter Chronicles book 14: Red Sun. And there’s a giveaway!

Raphael is no ordinary wolf shifter.

Raphael knows he must be possessed by a demon. What else could explain the aggression, the physical, beastly transformations? To protect himself and others, his father locks him away. But when Raphael is nineteen, the demon gains full control and breaks free. Now Raphael is scared and desperate on the streets of El Paso, Texas, convinced he’s cursed. Then a stray cat enters his life and everything changes.

Ahmes is a cat shifter and knows there’s something off about the young shifter he’s encountered. It soon becomes apparent that the young man doesn’t know what he is, and Ahmes is determined to help and care for him. But gaining the trust of not only the fearsome wolf but the scared young man will take all his persistence.

Friendship, and the potential for more, grows between them as they travel to Haven, Montana—a town founded by shifters, for shifters, and home to a specialized counseling center, one that can help Raphael understand and accept who and what he truly is.

If that wasn’t enough, on their trail is the last person either expected—Gregor Whitefield, the commander of the Knights of the Dawn, which is an organization bent on the eradication of shapeshifters. Gregor enjoys the thrill of the hunt, determined to collect the unique blood that is crucial to Arcas’s great plan.

Raphael’s blood.

Amazon | Smashwords


Giveaway

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

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

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d47220/?


Excerpt

Red Sun Meme

When next he knew anything, he was naked, shivering in the chilly night air, and covered in blood. He whimpered and sat up, tears clogging his throat and the taste of blood ripe in his mouth. His stomach rebelled and he vomited.

He’d killed them.

He’d killed them.

Not only was he possessed by a beast but now he was a murderer.

God help me!

Disoriented, Raphael looked around. He didn’t know where he was. It was too dark for him to recognize any structures, and he was too weak to investigate further. Dizzy, he lay down and curled into the fetal position, the blood drying on his skin. Not for the first time, he wondered if he should end it all. But then he would be damned to hell. He was Catholic and that just wasn’t something he would do. There must be another solution.

“Can I go home now?” he whispered, shivering.

The angry growl made him cry.

“I hate you.”

A mournful howl echoed in his mind and he prevented himself from releasing it into the darkness by clenching his jaw.

It was dawn when Raphael woke, surprised he’d managed to sleep. He sat up and cringed at the gore covering him. He didn’t consider it too closely and ignored his small pool of vomit. He needed to get clothes and clean up without being noticed. He realized he was in a narrow alleyway, and from the smell emanating from the dumpster, he guessed the buildings were restaurants.

A soft sound caught his attention, and he blinked at the large cat staring at him. His eyes widened. That was one big housecat. And so beautiful! This one was hefty, but slinky with big ears and equally big green eyes. As the sun rose steadily, he could see the cat had silver, black-spotted fur.

“Wow,” he whispered.

The cat sat staring at him for a long, poignant moment before stepping closer.

“Hey kitty,” Raphael said. He lowered his hand cautiously and held it out for the cat to inspect.

Upon seeing it, he winced, once again reminded what the beast had done. Blood was caked on his arm and under his fingernails. The cat paused and stretched his neck forward, sniffing at his fingers. Then he jerked back as if punched and hissed, showing small pointy teeth.

Raphael flinched and huddled tighter into himself. “I won’t hurt you.” Tears choked his words. “Non sono un mostro. I swear to God I’m not a monster.”

Overcome, Raphael sobbed, face pressed against his knees. Not even a cat trusted him! Why was he being punished? What had he done to earn God’s wrath? Why was he cursed?

It was a long moment before soft fur touched his arm, accompanied by a deep purr like a well-tuned engine. He lifted his head and realized the cat was rubbing his head against his arm. Raphael sniffed, reached over and scratched the cat’s head. The cat arched into the touch, still purring.

“You’re a good kitty,” he said with a wobbly smile. “You’re a pretty kitty.”

The cat regarded him with those hypnotic eyes, whiskers twitching. Such intelligence in his gaze.

“I’m not bad, you know?” he said. “I can’t be all bad if you don’t hate me.”

The cat set his front paws on Raphael’s thigh and lifted himself up until their faces were level. Then the cat leaned forward and surprised Raphael by licking the tip of his nose with his rough tongue. Raphael jerked with a watery laugh.

“Whoa, what was that for?”

The purring continued as the cat climbed into Raphael lap and settled there, his body heat a wonderful thing. Raphael resituated himself, taking care of his genitals, before wrapping his arms around the cat, taking comfort from his warmth and gentleness.

As the sun rose higher and the day grew warmer, Raphael was surprised to realize the beast didn’t mind the cat in the least. Not a snarl or growl came from the monster inside him. It seemed to hate humans but the cat had apparently earned its approval. Whatever the reason, Raphael was grateful. He didn’t want to hurt this cat. He didn’t want to harm anyone else.

“I won’t hurt you,” he whispered in Italian into the cat’s fur. “I promise I won’t hurt you.”

It wasn’t long before his protesting stomach could no longer be ignored. Raphael set the cat aside and approached the dumpster, aware of his nakedness. He lifted the lid and breathed through his mouth. The rising heat of the day did the garbage no favors. He’d be lucky if he didn’t get horribly ill from whatever was in there.

“Meow!”

The sharp sound caused Raphael to jump along with his heart. He swung his head around to stare at the cat as it gazed at him with apparent disapproval. And why did the feline’s eyes appear to be glowing? Must’ve been the sunlight.

“What? I have to eat something. I can’t catch birds and mice like you can. If you’re hungry, go do that.”

The cat flicked his tail, sitting with an air of royalty.

Raphael picked through the garbage, distressed to find nothing remotely worth the risk to eat. Sighing, he lowered the dumpster lid and rubbed his stomach.

“This is your fault, beast,” he whispered. “Are you trying to kill us?”

The beast snarled.

Raphael scowled.

The cat bumped against his leg, distracting him. Blood transferred to the cat’s pristine fur, and Raphael loathed to see it.

“Stop that.” He stepped away. “You’re getting my grossness on you.”

Determined, the cat trotted over to him and continued to rub himself against his legs.

“Il gatto pazzo. That’s what you are.”

Noise near the mouth of the alley had Raphael scrambling behind the dumpster. The cat followed him. He squeezed the cat in his arms, his heart racing. He didn’t want to hurt anyone else.

Behave yourself! he told the beast silently.

It growled.


Author Bio

M.D. Grimm decided to become an author in the second grade (kind of young to make life decisions, but whatever) and nothing has changed since then (well, plenty of things, actually, but not that!). Thankfully, she has indulgent parents who let her dream, but also made sure she understood she’d need a steady job to pay the bills (they never let her forget it!).

After graduating from the University of Oregon and majoring in English (let’s be honest: useless degree, what else was she going to do with it?), she started on her writing career and couldn’t be happier.

Working by day and writing by night (or any spare time she can carve out), she enjoys embarking on romantic quests and daring adventures (living vicariously, you could say) and creating characters that always triumph against the villain (or else what’s the point?), finding their soul mate in the process.

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

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001710645622

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4574220.M_D_Grimm

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

Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/m-d-grimm/

Author Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/M.D.-Grimm/e/B00I0KZMY6/

Other Worlds Ink logo 

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And now, here is an amazing post from the author…

Good day lovely readers! Thank you for joining me. I am M.D. Grimm and I am here to promote my newest release, “Red Sun.” This is the latest entry in The Shifter Chronicles. I am overjoyed and relieved to finally release a new book in this series. It’s been a long time coming. 2021 was quite a successful and productive year for me. I succeeded in re-releasing all books previously published with a former publishing house after much tweaking and revising. Now I can work on all brand new projects! “Red Sun” is only the first and considering how much I love it, I have a good feeling about the rest. I also have to say that this is probably one of the sweetest stories I’ve written so far. So many scenes that give the warm fuzzies.

So how did I come up with the storyline for this book? Glad you asked. The seeds of it started decades ago when I was still a newb and unpublished. I had the outline for a werewolf series that never got off the ground, and it is unrecognizable to the finished story of today. In fact, I found that outline the other day and was amused at my ambitiousness so early in my writing career.

First, Raphael and Ahmes were very different. While Raphael was still an unusual wolf shifter, he was older and with a completely different past. Ahmes was the younger of the two and had a different name. He was a stray that Raphael saved from adolescent boys who thought it was entertaining to harass a poor cat. I honestly don’t remember where their story fell in the series or what the bigger plot was, but the dynamic between the two intrigued me and kept me interested. Despite that series fizzling before it started, the interest continued until I managed to work it into this series.

From what I can remember, the series was The Silver Moonlight Chronicles, and it revolved around the first five werewolves, who were cursed into monsters during the crusades (I think), and their romantic drama, as well as those of their descendants. It was the stepping stone I needed to create The Shifter Chronicles, so I will forever be grateful for it.

After I plucked the characters from one series to the other, I realized I needed to overhaul the narrative. After that it was a series of trial and error before I nailed down the story that was waiting to be told.

I think the only thing I have a twinge of dissatisfaction about is the title. While it fit with my first draft of the story, after finishing the final version, I realized the title didn’t gel as well for me. I had more Ancient Egyptian elements included in the first version, related to Ahmes and his heritage. And the idea of “red sun” was supposed to invoke the Eye of Ra and the sun and other Egyptian iconography. I certainly include bits and pieces in the published version as Ahmes tries to help Raphael cope with his nature. However, giving such things prominence didn’t work anymore after the story evolved. Red sun could also be seen as the opposite of moon, an element or icon often associated with wolf shifters/werewolves. And since Raphael is different from other wolf shifters… Though the title could also be a play on words (sun vs. son) and “red” is the color of blood, which is what Gregor is after. So the title still works but not the way I first envisioned. 

And try as I might, I couldn’t create a title that worked better. By then, my “working title” had become the only title. Sometimes it just works like that. I couldn’t put Moon in the title since that would link it too close to “Psychic Moon” and “Shifting Moon,” and the story has nothing to do with Derek and Brian. Sometimes you just have to work with what you have and allow the story to just be how it will be. It’s a small little nitpick that I’m sure no one will ultimately care about. As long as the story is good, who cares about the title?

That’s what I tell myself anyway….

The Shifter Chronicles 1-14 (plus short story sequels) are available for purchase at Amazon (also in print!) and Smashwords. I have a newsletter that I send out monthly with all the goodies you can expect in the future. That’s the best way to find out about my current and future projects. Also, you can check out the first three chapters of “Red Sun” on my blog if you’re curious and unsure if you want to commit!

For fans of The Stones of Power series, book 8, “Sapphire: Home and Abroad” is due out in June 2022. Keep your eyes peeled for that! I’m also working diligently on the third book in Saga of the Bold People, “Resistance.”

I am booked (pun intended) solid this year, working on the next shifter book, the next stones book, a couple single titles, and the next On Wings Saga book. Wish me luck!

More information on my catalog can be found at my website.

I hope you stay safe and healthy, and may dragons guard your dreams,

M.D. Grimm

Burning Lies (The Gift Legacy Book 3) 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.

After uncovering a hidden ability of her own and discovering the dark origins of her gifts, Emelynn uncovers a conspiracy to expose her and her people’s gifts to the world, forcing her to face her worst fears head-on in author J.P. McLean’s “Burning Lies”, the explosive third novel in The Gift Legacy series!

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The Synopsis

A dishonourable legacy. A powerful enemy. A future threatened.

While recovering from a psychopath’s savage attack, Emelynn Taylor learns the ugly truth: deceit spawned her gift of flight, and ruthless brutality safeguards it.

But knowing the truth doesn’t prepare Emelynn for the terrorist who rips her world apart. And when the escalating violence spreads to the inner circle of her covert community, Emelynn uncovers a conspiracy that threatens to expose the gift and all those who share it.

Emelynn joins forces with a man she doesn’t trust and a family she doesn’t know to fight a menace that cloaks itself in lies. And when she lands at the feet of a dangerous enemy, Emelynn must face her worst fears to save the people she loves—and she must do it alone.

The third book in The Gift Legacy series, Burning Lies is a thriller that skirts the edges of reality in a world within our own. Step inside and escape the ordinary: take flight with Emelynn Taylor.

Burning Lies was previously published as The Gift: Redemption

The Review

This was a truly captivating and entertaining read. The author always does such an incredible job of crafting a narrative that allows readers to pick up on the important plot points and themes found in previous entries of the series without it feeling like a full recap of the series overall. It felt natural and flowed smoothly, and allowed for the character’s evolution and the mystery unfolding within the narrative to come alive. 

The evolution of these characters was so mesmerizing. Emelynn’s journey from the previous book sees her recovering both physically and mentally from the abduction and torture she endured at the hands of a madman and his team, and her story of confronting that trauma and learning to take back the power that had been lost during that harrowing time was so important both to the story and to the overall theme of the violence women face far too often in today’s world. The gripping way that readers are on the edge of their seats trying to understand who can be trusted and who cannot is what makes this story shine, as you spend most of the time trying to figure out if you should hate or love a character, (except Manse, who everyone just hates). 

The Verdict

A powerful, engaging, and character-driven narrative, author J.P. McLean’s “Burning Lies” is a must-read novel! The paranormal/fantasy-driven thriller is the perfect next chapter in this ever-growing series, and the twists and turns the narrative takes not only enhance the growing mythos of the Fliers and those around them but Em’s own past and her connection to the family she’s lost over time. It’s an emotional experience as well as action-packed, so be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

JP (Jo-Anne) McLean writes urban fantasy and supernatural thrillers which have received honourable mentions from the Whistler Independent Book Awards and the Victoria Writers Society. Reviewers call her books addictive, smart, and fun. Her work includes endorsements from award-winning and best-selling authors, E.E. Holmes, Jennifer Manuel, Elinor Florence, Jennifer Anne Gordon, and Eileen Cook.

JP is a graduate of the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business. She is a certified scuba diver, an avid gardener, and a voracious reader. Raised in Toronto, Ontario, JP lived in various parts of North America before settling on Denman Island on Canada’s west coast, where she now lives with her husband. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her cooking dishes that look nothing like the recipe photos or arguing with weeds in the garden.

Visit her at https://jpmcleanauthor.com

Lluck (Qwyrk Tales #2) by Tim Rayborn Review

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

Qwyrk and Jilly are back again, this time hoping to help a young boy named Lluck with the ability to bend events to his will, who is being hunted by several people and beings in author Tim Rayborn’s “Lluck”, the second book in the Qwyrk Tales series. 

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The Synopsis

All Qwyrk wanted was a few winter days of rest and relaxation in the small town of Knettles in Yorkshire, but of course, it all goes wrong immediately. She’d like to spend time with her young human friend, Jilly, but Jilly and her not-so-imaginary friend Blip have met a remarkable boy named Lluck, who seems to be able to bend events to his favor.

Lluck is on the run from two big goblins with unnatural powers. On top of that, Qwyrk meets a mysterious and enchanting woman who’s also looking for the boy. And hiding in the darkness, something else wants Lluck for itself, but why?

Lluck is the second in a series of four novels about the comic misadventures of a group of misfits at the edge of normal reality in modern northern England, a world of shadows, Nighttime Nasties, witchy magic, remarkable Indian Fae, would-be superheroes, a lazy Komodo dragon, and even more elves…

though they continue to be a bit silly.

The Review

I have absolutely swept into this amazing world once again and I couldn’t have been more thrilled. What always strikes me about this series and the author is the perfect balance of fantasy-genre storytelling with dangerous adventures and humorous and witty character relationships that readers can’t get enough of. The rich mythology seems to just seep into the narrative so naturally that readers feel like they know this world for which the author has brought us all, even if this is the first novel that readers have picked up from the series.

The character’s balance and interactions with one another were not only the heart of this novel but the perfect way to bring life to the LGBTQ themes and character backgrounds in this narrative. The development of Qwyrk’s newfound relationship with someone close to newcomer Lluck was so brilliantly played out, and the exploration of Jilly’s backstory and family life more in this narrative not only added to the witty back and forth conversations she has with Blip, but the evolution of her character and her role in this growing magical world overall. 

The Verdict

A memorable, entertaining, and heartfelt narrative that is as captivating as it is magical, author Tim Rayborn’s “Lluck” is a must-read LGBTQ-driven fantasy and paranormal novel. The immediate story is so engaging to the reader, and yet the hints and illuminating moments that hint at the growing behind the scenes conspiracy first looked at in the first book in the series is the perfect payoff for fans of this growing series and leaves readers eager for book 3 to be released by this amazingly talented author. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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Lluck - Tim Rayborn

Tim Rayborn has a new queer urban fantasy out, sequel to Qwyrk: Lluck. And there’s a giveaway!

All Qwyrk wanted was a few winter days of rest of and relaxation in the small town of Knettles in Yorkshire, but of course, it all goes wrong immediately. She wants to spend time and with her young human friend, Jilly, but Jilly and her not-so-imaginary friend blip have just met a remarkable boy named Lluck, who seems to be able to bend events to his favor.

Lluck is on the run from some awful and obnoxious goblins. On top of that, Qwyrk meets a mysterious and beguiling woman, who’s also looking for the boy. And in the dark, something wants Lluck for itself, but why?

Publisher | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CAN | Barnes & Noble


Giveaway

Tim is giving away an Amazon gift card with this tour:

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Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d47218/?


Excerpt

Lluck Meme

“I’ll be dead in a few seconds… or worse.”

Still, he kept running, plowing through snowy lanes, stumbling more than once on wet cobblestones blanketed in a thin sheet of slippery ice and powder. His breathing was furious, his heart pounded, and he knew he was running out of time. He sprinted back out to a main street and worked his way through thronging crowds of holiday shoppers, trying to hide in their numbers.

“Blend in, shake them off!” But he knew his pursuers weren’t interested in these people; they were only after him. He ducked into another alleyway, sped for the exit on the other side, and almost crashed into a padlocked gate.

“No!” He slammed the bars with his fists.

They were near; he could smell them, like bad fast food and garbage, with a hint of cheap cologne. But he tried pulling on the lock, and sure enough, it came loose. He laughed and opened the gate. Dashing through, he shut it behind him and relocked it.

“Have fun with that, you knobs!”

He turned around and there they were: grotesque, lumpy goblin creatures with mottled grey skin, bulbous noses, and large, pointy ears. They were mostly bald, except for some wiry black curls under said ears. Their snarling grins revealed bared, off-white crooked teeth. Beady yellow eyes completed the horrific ensemble.

“Well, well, what ‘ave we got ‘ere?” the larger one grumbled.

“Looks like a lost waif in need of some assistance to get to where he’s goin’,” the other replied.

“I’m not going with you, you tossers!” he shouted, defiant. He raised his fists in front of him. They just laughed.

“You gonna take us on in a fist fight, little boy?” the big one mocked. “That oughta be entertaining. Maybe I’ll even let you get in a blow or two in before I mash your pretty face into the pavement!”

“Oh, I won’t fight you, you miserable troll! I’m just getting ready.”

“Ready for what, lambkin?” the smaller one sneered.

“For this!” He threw his open hands forward in one jerking motion, and at once, both fell on their behinds, slid on the ice, and smacked their heads on the stones. They groaned, but didn’t get back up. He stepped over them (well, on them really, just to make a point; he might have even dug his boot heels in a bit) and made his way back to the crowds.

Once on the main street, he looked around and saw the town hall in the distance, with its multitudes packed in to celebrate the holiday festivities.

“All those people milling about; you can lose them there. Then get the hell out of here and head south.”

He paused, took a deep breath, and ran again.

* * *

“I do love a good festive celebration!” Blip announced. Resembling a bipedal frog sporting a handlebar moustache and a proper Victorian-style mutton chop beard, he strolled along the pavement in his Regency riding boots, while swinging an ornate walking stick, every so often accidentally hitting a passerby and eliciting an astonished yelp. A red, woolen scarf wrapped snugly around his short, froggy neck completed the ensemble.

“I love it too! It’s so much grander than the one in Knettles,” Jilly Pleeth said in a hushed voice. She looked down at him, quite grateful that a magical two-foot creature who liked to expound on nineteenth-century philosophy couldn’t be seen or heard by anyone over the age of thirteen, give or take a bit. Of course, there were plenty of children about, a few of whom gasped and stared; but most ignored him, being far more fascinated by the lights of the Leeds Christmas market, the aromas of cinnamon, nutmeg, and chocolate, the sounds of carols and stall hawkers, and the general merriment of the season. It was all rather like one of those displays in a department store window, but larger, louder, and less garish.

“We’ll have to keep an eye on the time, though,” she continued. “I need to meet mum and dad back at the train station in about an hour. They’ll be done with their stupid real estate meeting and keen to get back home before it gets too dark.”

“Come, come, my dear, no need to be so reserved, at least not in this instance! It’s the holidays, and the day of your birth is also upon us—twelve years!—so just this once, it is entirely satisfactory that we kick up our proverbial heels and live a bit. The holiday market is splendidly arrayed in front of us, a fine old tradition that I am glad to see being kept alive. So, throw caution to the wind, and embrace the revelry!”

“Oh, it’s not that,” she whispered. “It’s just, since most people can’t see you, I look like I’m talking to myself, like I’m a bit mad.”

“Hm, well yes, I do suppose that could cause some to think that you are a suitable candidate for admission to Bedlam, but again, this is the time for inversions of the social order in a controlled way, don’t you know? The Feast of Fools! The Boy Bishop! Saturnalian silliness! So I say, let them think that you are singularly odd and be done with it! And other children can see me, so what does it matter?”

“Yeah, but they probably just think you’re one of Father Christmas’s elves, anyway,” she said with an impish grin.

“Do not mention that reprobate in my company!” Blip admonished. “You know very well that the Father Christmas affair is a bone of contention with me!”

“Are you ever going to tell me what happened between you two?” she asked.

“A gentleman does not duel and tell, I’m afraid.”

“You fought a duel with Father Christmas?”


Author Bio

Tim Rayborn

Tim Rayborn is a writer and internationally acclaimed musician. He plays dozens of unusual instruments that many people of have never heard of and often can’t pronounce, including medieval instrument reconstructions and folk instruments from Northern Europe, the Balkans, and the Middle East. He has appeared on over forty recordings, and his wanderings and tours have taken him across the US, all over Europe, to Canada and Australia, and to such romantic locations as Marrakech, Istanbul, Renaissance chateaux, medieval churches, and high school gymnasiums.

On the writing side of things, Tim lived in England for nearly seven years and has a PhD from the University of Leeds. He has written books and magazine articles about music, the arts, history, and business. He currently lives amid many books, antique music reproduction devices (that is, CDs), and instruments, and with a demanding cat. He’s also rather enthusiastic about good wines, single-malt Scotch, and cooking excellent food.

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

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

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

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rayborn.esoterica

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3160656.Tim_Rayborn

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Tim-Rayborn/e/B00DWY5J8E/

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Rise: Birth of a Revolution (The Ricchan Chronicles Book 1) by Mark Moore 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 finds himself at the center of a complex revolution in author Mark Moore’s historical fantasy novel, “Rise: Birth of a Revolution”, the first in The Ricchan Chronicles series. 

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The Synopsis

Finalist for the 2019 OZMA Fantasy Fiction awards, Chanticleer International Book Awards

Damien Flynn finds himself in the midst of growing turmoil that he foresaw but was not equipped to handle. Denied the quill for speaking his mind, he finds himself shackled to a path spiraling downward. A brush with death can do wonders to help one re-evaluate their priorities and their morals but it remains to be seen just how Damien will proceed with his newfound perspective on mortality.

Political espionage, assassinations, scandalous affairs, underhanded deals, and dirty politics threaten to plunge the known world into chaos with Damien Flynn in the middle.

A powerful general, buoyed by a second with fractured morals, provides early and tangible victories but success brings attention they may not be ready for. Erudite and ruthless cunning stalks the would-be revolutionaries with pragmatism and patience. A threat of extinction that looms over every step forward.

Damien Flynn must draw lots, he must choose a side; the wrong choice could end his life, so could the right one.

The Review

This was such an engaging and rich story. The way the author wrote this book readers were able to get the fantasy feel with this fictional world and countries that many readers will see mirror our own world, but the narrative also gives a healthy dose of history, drama, and action. As a fan of history and the American Revolution as a whole, the attention to detail the author brought out into this narrative shows the parallels between the real-life revolution that birthed the United States and the rebellion of Ricchan. 

The novel’s heart however comes from its rich tapestry of characters. Not only are the interactions and bonds formed between these characters so inviting, but the complexity of this cast of characters is so profound to read as this first novel in the series comes to life. What was also amazing to see was how these characters on all sides of this conflict really highlight the concept of war and the horrors it always wrought in our own world are perfectly mirrored in this narrative, showing how these horrors can happen on either side of a conflict, and the “heroes” of war are not always as apparent as say WWII, where villains like Hitler and the Nazi Regime were so clearly outlined. More often than not, the true “villains” are those few in power who rule a people and force them into these conflicts. 

The Verdict

A mesmerizing, action-fueled, and brilliant historical fantasy novel, author Mark Moore’s “Rise: Birth of a Revolution” is a must-read first novel of the author’s THE RICCHAN CHRONICLES series. The adrenaline-fueled narrative will keep readers not only entertained but engaged in the character’s overall arcs and a shocking twist ending will change the dynamics of the world the author has created leading into the highly anticipated sequel. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Mark Moore began writing his first book in November of 2015. What started as a hobby quickly morphed into a passion that consumed long nights and lunch hours during his day jobs. With the help of his editor, JMR Literary Services, he published his first book, Rise, in November of 2018 and followed it with its sequel, Stand, in December 2020. His current work in progress is a departure from the low-fantasy genre, focusing on more traditional fantasy.

In 2021 Mark also began collecting his thoughts and putting together a writing advice youtube channel which can be found below with the goal of sparing other authors from the mistakes he’s made over the years and sharing what he’s learned.

https://www.marksmoorebooks.com/

https://www.instagram.com/redbeardflynn/

Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/redbeardflynn

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPUuN1cUwQDgJYOdC8Uvccg

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07KJW8RRF/ref=x_gr_w_glide_sin?caller=Goodreads&callerLink=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.goodreads.com%2Fbook%2Fshow%2F43084591-rise%3Fac%3D1%26from_search%3Dtrue%26qid%3Dcudu9hE1yc%26rank%3D2&tag=x_gr_w_glide_sin-20

Wind Wielder: Elements of Nordica: Book 1 by TC Marti Review

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

A young elemental must help band together with the last descendants of an ancient tribe to stop a global world government from taking complete control in author TC Marti’s “Wind Wielder: Elements of Nordica”, the first book in the Elements of Nordica series.

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The Synopsis

Avatar: The Last Airbender and 21st Century Military Combat Collide

A secret censored throughout the modern age…

…A cataclysmic riot leaves the fate of the world hanging by a thread

There are a lot of things Wind Wielder Sion Zona wished he had taken seriously. But the following facts he neglected display his sheer ignorance.

One, an ancient tribe within his Elemental race wiped from the pages of time still exists.

Two, Sion and a band of eight other Elementals are the final descendants from that ancient tribe and hold the key to preventing the masses from falling victim to a one-world government foretold in a banned set of ancient texts.

Three, the global superpower wants nothing more than to destroy Sion and the others before they discover their importance to humanity.

So yeah, there’s no pressure in taking on a raging dictatorship.

Wind Wielder is Book I in Elementals of Nordica, an exciting speculative fantasy series featuring old-world epic fantasy tropes bent into modern-day society. If you are a fan of elemental magic, complex plots, and sword and sorcery with a sci-fi twist, Wind Wielder is a MUST READ.

The Review

This was such a unique and engaging fantasy read. The way the author implemented modern-day tech and social structures into a world of magical (or superpowered, depending on how you look at it), people outlawed by this tyrannical government as mutants were just pure fantasy at its finest. The balance the author found between action-driven narrative and intricate character developments was absolutely perfect, as the world became much more vibrant and yet the reader was able to hone into the characters and their evolution over the course of the narrative.

What was so amazing to see the author develop was a larger-than-life mythos and truly engaging world-building. The foundation of any great fantasy, the story managed to develop the revelations and hidden truths of the world’s lost tribe and the intricate corruption that this government power held onto while allowing the world in which the narrative developed to feel well-established and well lived in, making this a gripping story to engulf.

The Verdict

A masterful, mind-bending, and entertaining read, author TC Marti’s “Wind Wielder: Elementals of Nordica” is the perfect first book in this brand new fantasy series, and will mark the perfect way to begin 2022 for fantasy fans. The world-building and mythology the author develops feel fresh and rich with history and culture, while the modern-twist on this original world feels like a natural progression of the modern fantasy book experience. With a cliffhanger ending that will leave readers eager for the next installment in this series, readers will not want to miss out on this incredible story. If you haven’t yet, be sure to preorder or grab your copy of the book on January 3rd, 2022!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

TC Marti has been an avid reader/writer for over three decades. He is the author of the Elementals Universe, a shared speculative fiction universe spanning multiple series. He is also a workout fanatic, and a fan of Arizona sports teams.

Interview with Author Carla Doria

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

My passion for writing started when I was a little kid, around 8 years old. I would imagine these fantastic stories and I knew that I had to write them.  Adding some drawings to illustrate these stories, I would write them by hand and gift them to my family. They were my first “published” books. Unfortunately, my family has been terrible to save them. I’m pretty sure there was good content in them. Then life brought some swirls and made me go on a different path. But deep inside me, I always knew that I would once sit down and become a writer. It wasn’t until probably six years ago when I started to consider it again. Specifically, two years ago I started The Last Families and it has been quite an adventure. 

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2. What inspired you to write your book?

I always had in mind these landscapes with extremely tall cliffs, deserts, a purple sky, and other characteristics that are depicted in The Last Families. I also wanted to write about an end-of-the-world story with survivors that had somehow developed special skills. These characters had to feel forced to go somewhere else where things would be particularly harsh. I started playing with the idea and soon the story started to develop. Also, I’m a very visual person and most of the promotion of this book is been based on characters’ illustrations drawn by a friend of mine. I wanted those characters to be stunning and different. That is why each family has specific traits not only in what it comes to powers but also physically. 

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

That in spite of all differences humanity can still carry on if they work together. The Last Families touches on some underlying themes like a post-apocalyptic era, skin color as a survival factor, family superiority, and misogyny. Of course, these topics are addressed in a very specific way in this fantastic world, but somehow they can also relate to some of the issues that our society faces today. I hope that the story helps readers from around the world question not only their beliefs but also imagine humanity’s fate (although the book’s one might sound too far-fetched) if we don’t take care of our current world. With Covid, I think many of us have are able to see fiction as a potential happening. 

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4) What drew you into this particular genre?

As a voracious reader, I read almost anything and I read in all genres. But fantasy and science fiction have a special place in my heart. However, reading fantasy and science fiction is not for everybody.  Good fantasy and science fiction invest a lot in world-building. If you read Tolkien, Asimov, Hubert, and others in these genres, you come to see these writers have invested quite a deal in describing the backgrounds and characteristics of their worlds.  When I started writing as an adult, I knew I had some great stories in mind in these genres, but I didn’t think I was good enough to write them. I thought that writing a contemporary story was going to be easier for me as an aspiring writer. After all, I’m still a good reader of thrillers by John Grisham, Lee Child, and others. Therefore I began with a technological thriller about five years ago. 

But after some time, I understood that it doesn’t work that way. Writing a thriller is also hard. You have to make sure to research well your location. Since it is a real location, you have to really know about it. You have to make sure your characters talk and feel like they are people from a specific location. It actually became tougher than I thought.  

Therefore, I came to the conclusion that for me specifically, imagining the whole location, and better yet imagining the whole world made sense. I have a very good imagination after all.

I’m definitely happy now writing fantasy. I want to explore science fiction but that is for later. I believe these two genres are very important nowadays. Through them, we can imagine certain worlds that don’t exist yet but might exist in the future. Whenever I think of our current world’s inventors and all advances in technology, I’d like to imagine they got some of their ideas of fictions stories they read or saw on film. 

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

This is a tough question. The Last Families narrates the story from several POVs. Some characters like Yarisha, Palista, Malakay, Palista, and Marquesh are more visible than others. Yarisha might take the lead as the main character but I love Malakay. I love making imperfect characters. I like that Malakay is cocky and arrogant. I like how he is feisty and looking to snap at everybody’s comments. In some ways, he feels like the grown-up version of a spoiled brat. Yet he can change. All people change. If could sit down with him, I would probably ask him why he’s taken his mother’s teachings so high. Does he really think his family is superior to everybody else? I guess that as the character’s creator I know the answers. But Malakay is Malakay, and I could actually expect him snapping at me and replying something I wouldn’t expect. 

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

I’m still developing my readership but I would say Facebook and Instagram. These two social networks are mostly connecting me with people that I already know, so it is a bit hard to get to other people out there. I started a Bookstagram only one month ago. I wished I had done it sooner. That bookstagram (currently in Spanish but working on getting the English version) has connected me to people outside of my social circle. I’m still growing it but so far it looks like the most promising one. 

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

Make sure to have people looking at your writing as soon as you can. As starting authors, we terribly self-doubt ourselves –  the infamous impostor’s syndrome. We feel too ashamed to show our writing to others. We are afraid somebody will say “you should work on your writing” “or the story is really poor”. With The Last Families,  I had some people take a look at my story, and of course, somebody helped me edit it, but I wished I had had more beta readers. Sometimes we focus too much on getting help with editing that we forget it is also important to have somebody looking at your story from a developmental point of view. We need somebody who will point out plot holes and tell us that a specific scene or dialogue doesn’t make sense, or that a character feels too flat. Also, those beta readers then become a point of contact when you are about to launch your book “your launch team.”

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

While I waited for some people to revise The Last Families manuscript, I started another story. So yes, there is already another story halfway. It is a dystopian story. This time there is not too much fantasy in it, but still a post-apocalyptic turn of events based a bit on our current pandemic. It is located in Bolivia (where I live). I’m pretty sure that people will love the characters. I’m having fun writing them. Of course, it has no title. Coming up with a title was the most difficult thing for The Last Families, so this new manuscript will probably receive its title at the very end of its cycle.

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About the Author

Carla Doria was born in Cochabamba, Bolivia where she currently resides. Graduated as an Industrial Engineer, she decided to acknowledge her lost love from childhood: writing. She spends her time working, blogging, writing, traveling, doing yoga, biking, running, and enjoying the good life in the city valley of Cochabamba.

Social media and websites

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

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

Bookstagram https://www.instagram.com/delfinliterario/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/carlisdm 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/carladoria

Tumblr: https://thelastfamilies.tumblr.com/

The Last Families’ website: https://thelastfamilies.com/

My personal author blog: https://carladoria.com/ 

Hidden Enemy (The Gift Legacy 2) by JP 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 with a powerful gift finds herself caught in the crosshair between two powerful organizations (one ancient, one evil), and a web of secrets being brought to the surface in author JP McLean’s “Hidden Enemy”, the second book in The Gift Legacy series.

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The Synopsis

A forbidden book. A dangerous secret. A life in the balance.

In the wake of a bullet and a broken heart, Emelynn Taylor learns the true portent of a gift she can barely control. Her discovery of a forbidden book unlocks explosive secrets that connect her to a past she never imagined.

Now someone is threatening to expose those secrets, and an unknown assailant is hunting her. With everyone hiding something, whom can she trust? Emelynn is thrust into the eye of a storm as two powerful factions clash: one ancient, one evil. And both of them want a piece of her.

Knowing that not even her gift of flight will save her, Emelynn forms an uneasy partnership with a dangerous man she must learn to trust—and then she must risk her gift and her future to protect her friends’ lives.

The second book in The Gift Legacy series, Hidden Enemy is a thriller that skirts the edges of reality in a world within our own. Climb aboard and escape the ordinary: take flight with Emelynn Taylor.

Hidden Enemy was previously published as The Gift: Revelation)

The Review

This was such a fun and exhilarating paranormal and fantasy thriller. The author did such an amazing job of taking the elements that made the first book in this series such a hit and ramped up the action and suspense by about ten notches, making this such an exciting and action-fueled story. The balance of the character development and world-building that the author had with the deeper dive into the world of the Fliers and the mythos behind the different families that make up this hidden world made this story just fly by (pun intended)!

The arc that the protagonist had in this narrative was such a great advancement of the character development of this sequel overall. The way the author forged Emelynn’s actions and showed her evolution from a young woman thrust into this strange world of powers and hidden societies to a woman learning to adapt and evolve in this new world of hers and grow her own gifts, as well as take ownership and power within her personal life and dive into her own past at the same time, made this such a powerful read that many readers will be able to wrap themselves in. 

The Verdict

An entertaining, adrenaline-fueled, and suspense-filled paranormal and fantasy thriller, author JP McLean’s “Hidden Enemy” is a must-read book. The mythos and history that the author explores of both the protagonist and the Fliers themselves, as well as the infusion of some steamy romantic scenes and an examination of how we process trauma made this such an engaging read, and an open-ended final chapter will leave readers eager to jump further into this amazing series. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

JP (Jo-Anne) McLean writes urban fantasy and supernatural thrillers which have received honourable mentions from the Whistler Independent Book Awards and the Victoria Writers Society. Reviewers call her books addictive, smart, and fun. Her work includes endorsements from award-winning and best-selling authors, E.E. Holmes, Jennifer Manuel, Elinor Florence, Jennifer Anne Gordon, and Eileen Cook.

JP is a graduate of the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business. She is a certified scuba diver, an avid gardener, and a voracious reader. Raised in Toronto, Ontario, JP lived in various parts of North America before settling on Denman Island on Canada’s west coast, where she now lives with her husband. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her cooking dishes that look nothing like the recipe photos or arguing with weeds in the garden.

Visit her at https://jpmcleanauthor.com

Interview with Author Will Rice

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

My professional life has always been focussed on numbers – I studied mathematics and followed this with a career as an actuary. I am still very happy living in the world of numbers, but I find writing is the perfect escape into something completely different – the world of words! I’ve always written stories since I was young, and haven’t stopped.  

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

I read a lot of fantasy fiction, a genre I really enjoy for its imagination, escapism and creativity. I also enjoy fast-paced page-turners with frequent twists and turns, such as thrillers or murder mysteries, that I can’t stop reading because I need to know what happens on the next page. My inspiration was to combine these two things I love into one – a fantasy page-turner.

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

I think that fantasy can give us a new perspective on our everyday lives, by highlighting or exaggerating some aspect of what it is to be human. I was interested in the idea of shapeshifting and invisibility, and what that means for our identity – if I could change my appearance, or disappear completely, whenever I wanted, then what would it really mean to be “me”? As I wrote the book these themes of identity emerged from the story, and I hope the reader will find these as interesting as I did.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

There is something unique about fantasy fiction. It asks what the world could be like if something, or everything, was different, and then lets us live in that new world. The Sorcerer Within is a fantasy novel set in our world and so blends the everyday with the fantastic, which is a sub-genre of fantasy that I’ve always been intrigued by. 

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

There is a character in my book who I won’t name as they turn out to be the killer behind the murder at the start of the book. This person has a skewed view on reality, to say the least. I wouldn’t like to spend time with them, but at the same time I would be morbidly fascinated to hear what they thought about what they had done – do they realise how utterly inhuman they are?

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

Facebook – great for reaching a wide range of people.

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

Don’t give up – I found the most difficult part of writing a book was to keep going, even when it seemed “the end” was so far away.

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

I have a project on the go to write a traditional-style fantasy novel aimed at older children – I love the idea of writing an escapist fantasy tale that my own children will enjoy reading.

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About the Author

I’ve always loved escaping into books. When I get inside a character’s head and look through their eyes and think their thoughts, I forget everything else. Getting inside the head of a character I created is the biggest escape of all. 

I often put down a book and find an idea wandering in my head for a book that I want to write myself. The idea I couldn’t resist combining two things I’ve always loved – a fantasy novel, and a page-turning mystery.

Turning an idea into a book was a lot of work but also a lot of escaping, and I enjoyed writing every word. There’s something addictive about reading your own thoughts back after you’ve forgotten exactly what you wrote. It’s like re-discovering a memory. The words kept coming and the story kept living and here we are. The Sorcerer Within is finished. 

My ambition now is for as many people to read it as possible. I’d love for you to be one of those people, and if you do, thank you. Let me know what you think

http://willriceauthor.com/