“At what should have been one of the tensest moments of his life, Rusty laughed. And for the first time, he was glad he wasn’t alone.”
‘All his siblings have moved on from their troubling pasts, but Rusty McClane can’t leave his behind. Not even when his freedom is in jeopardy. Legal investigator Harper Blake can sense a bad boy. She’s drawn to them—like she is to her mysterious and brooding new client. The police believe that Rusty is involved with the case of a missing underage girl. Harper’s job is to find evidence to defend him. But is her sexy suspect a predator…or something else? If Rusty is guilty of anything, it’s of stirring something primitive in Harper. The closer they get, the harder it is to believe the worst of him. But in an underworld filled with sex trafficking, kidnapping, and murder, Harper will need to be cautious about whom she trusts. Because Rusty isn’t the only one with secrets.’
Fast-paced, raunchy as hell sex scenes and deep dark twisty shit that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Love, love, loved this book! Only took me a day to read it, I went to bed early just so I could keep reading and I stayed up until 3 AM to finish it. The drama, the romance, the sex, the emotions, all written so well I felt like I was living through it myself. I really felt the connection between Rusty and Harper, their relationship was so similar to my own with my partner so I really related to what they were going through, falling in love and learning to trust, not only each other, but trust that they deserved the happiness they were finally feeling after both having such a rough past.
I can see why Elisabeth is a best-selling author, her writing flows, she creates suspense and keeps you wanting more. She writes with confidence and doesn’t shy away from sex, she puts a fire in your belly you can’t put out. This book was also quite humorous and had a great family aspect where you feel warm and comforted knowing there are good people and good families out there. I absolutely loved how everything tied together in the end, very clever storytelling. Elisabeth shows she can create a relationship as well as connect her readers with her characters, which is no small feat for an author. TO make you want to care, to make you invested in a characters outcome, even if they’re not the main character. I was just as concerned for some of the supporting roles as I was for Rusty and Harper.
Those who love Nora Roberts and Jackie Collins will absolutely adore Elisabeth Naughton, I for one can’t wait to read more!
Rating out of 10: 10
Unspeakable will be available in November 2018. You can pre-order it here: Unspeakable
‘It’s all I can do not to kiss him right there, in front of everyone. But there will be time for that after all of this. After tonight is the rest of our lives. Together.’
‘Everyone knows what happens in the end. A mermaid, a prince, a true love’s kiss. But before that young siren’s tale, there were three friends. One feared, one royal, and one already dead. Ever since her best friend, Anna, drowned, Evie has been an outcast in her small fishing town. A freak. A curse. A witch. A girl with an uncanny resemblance to Anna appears offshore and, though the girl denies it, Evie is convinced that her best friend actually survived. That her own magic wasn’t so powerless after all. And, as the two girls catch the eyes—and hearts—of two charming princes, Evie believes that she might finally have a chance at her own happily ever after. But her new friend has secrets of her own. She can’t stay in Havnestad, or on two legs, unless Evie finds a way to help her. Now Evie will do anything to save her friend’s humanity, along with her prince’s heart—harnessing the power of her magic, her ocean, and her love until she discovers, too late, the truth of her bargain.’
Alluring, heart-wrenching and delightful. How can a story be all three at once? I never thought it could until I read Sea Witch. From the very start your heart races and you become immediately enthralled in the characters. I felt a strong connection right away to Evie and swear I could feel her lust for Iker in my belly. I understand the beautiful yet complicated friendship Evie has with Nik and adore the new friendship she builds with Annemette who she hopes is her real friend that she lost 4 years ago, Anna. I really enjoy the whimsy and innocence of the story, the childhood friendships that grew and blossomed into something even more unique and beautiful. I love how we travel back and forth in time so things happening in the present make even more sense knowing the past. It’s also a refreshing change to have a King in a fantasy story not be completely evil, strict maybe, but the Queen much meaner than he, often I find in the YA fantasy genre, the King was once kind but now evil and that gets a bit old after a while. I cannot begin to count the amount of times I craved a fruit and cheese platter while reading (at one point I actually got up and put one together with a cup of honey tea!). I’ve also teared up multiple times throughout the book, the cute moments between Annemette and Evie, the hopefulness I have that she is who Evie wants her to be, that they are reunited again and get their happy ending is really quite an overwhelmingly raw emotion. I did not expect what ended up happening at all, absolutely amazing, did not see it coming.
‘The sea is forever defined by its tide, give and take the measure of its barter. In magic, as in life, the sea does not give its subjects lightly-payment is required, the value equivalent, no matter the ask. A shell, a fish, a pearl of the greatest brilliance-non can be taken without a debt to be paid.’
This past couple of weeks I’ve had the absolute pleasure to work with publisher Sam Cabbage of A Belletristic Wander and her authors Kyle Duffy & Nerris Nassiri to bring you this exclusive feature. I was able to interview them all and all the answers to my questions were so passionate and eloquent i couldn’t help but tear up as i’m sure you will too! I am so beyond grateful for this wonderful opportunity and i hope i do their stories justice. I’ve attached some illustrations from the books and shared how you can view the artists other work. I myself have made a donation to their Kickstarter page, and i hope once you see the beauty in their work and the genuine kindness and need they have to put good into this world, that you will donate too!
First up is my conversation with Sam Cabbage, owner and creator of A Belletristic Wander: Publishing Enduring Children’s Books.
1) What made you want to start a publishing company?
“I think I always have, I just didn’t know I could. Books are the most amazing things in the world to me. I have often felt stuck, as I only can really understand my own experiences. I can never truly be another person and see and experience the world from their soul. Books are the closest thing to this. My mother spent hours at a time reading to me long before I can even remember. So even in my earliest memories, authors have always been almost immortal. In fact, in a way they are. My favorite authors who have touched me deeply, like Victor Hugo, died long before I was born. To be able to influence people, to change lives, to create understanding and give people the insights into each others differences, I do not know if there is a greater opportunity to give some of yourself to the world! To find stories that possess these qualities and have this potential, and help them to exist and to give them that opportunity to be there for kids that need them, that is what I have really always wanted to do! I mean, what if nobody had ever published Robert Munsch’s books, like Mud Puddle, or Love You Forever. Books have made me who I am, they have helped me so much in life. I would love to be able to do that for others. Lots of others.”
2) What draws you to children’s books?
“Picture books are a fairly new thing when it comes to books. The technology to be able to print affordable books full of color illustrations, hasn’t been around that long. Having read around 40,000 different picture books, I am excited about this relatively new art form! I think there is a lot of room for growth and exploration, as we get to witness the very first wave of some types of picture books. What fascinates me the most is when people really take them seriously as literature. They aren’t “just for kids” and so don’t matter. The small nuances that make a picture book good literature are just as important as those literary aspects in a novel. I am so excited to see this art form gaining more and more respect. Books like Shaun Tan’s The Arrival, are not limited to just a young audience. Anybody who reads that wordless picture book, can feel the emotions he portrays in it just as much as if they read a novel or watched a movie that was so well done it succeeded in moving them.”
3) How did you meet your authors and illustrators?
“I read a post of Nerris Nassiri’s on the internet, about his book. He described it as an orphan who builds a hot air balloon. I love the feel of not having much, and finding a way to create what you want anyway, and so I was hooked from the very beginning.
I have always loved a good rhyme. And sadly, there aren’t very many children’s books written in good rhyme. Along with my love of children’s books, I have also become rather picky about them. When I came across Kyle Duffy’s rollicking poetry, with hilarious twists and turns in it, I felt like I had found gold! Actually better than gold. What is gold compared to a good book? I have lots of kids (understatement) and so have been reading Dr. Seuss, Eric Carle, Sandra Boynton, etc. to my youngest ones almost every night for close to two decades straight. There is little that excites me more than when we get another book that entertains that very very young crowd. Like some people wait for the Super Bowl, I wait for Mo Willem’s next release. To have found another author like them. Let’s just say it is worth trying to raise $18,000 to start this publishing company, just to be able to have another truly great rhyming book for the very young, to choose from when I want to snuggle up with my 3 year old and read.
Mary Manning befriended my when I first started exploring the mysterious world of publishing, and started editing manuscripts like crazy. This gave me much needed experience and I am grateful to those hundreds of authors who let me edit their stories! I think I first fell in love with her artwork when I saw her piece “The Cheesemaker”.
Her art has such a real feel to it. Our lives (in the culture I am in here in the US) get so caught up in portraying a certain image to others, that I really appreciate her grasp of “just how things are”, the authenticity. She doesn’t try to make them a certain way to appeal to the public, but instead draws what is in such a way that we realize that it is the less than glamorous aspects of her characters, that we relate to and truly love. My other favorite piece of hers is “Sisters”.
She so perfectly captures that emotion of truly knowing each other, all the flaws and the good and the bad, way deep down inside, and just loving all of each other.
The other thing I love about her artwork is that she is not scared of pushing reality.. if you browse her amazing pictures, you will see her stretching the limits of imagination. This is just what Kyle Duffy does with his rhymes, and so when he too fell in love with her artwork, it was a perfect match. His rhymes appeal to even the very young, and the brightness of Mary Manning’s pictures is going to be so good in a picture book coupled with Kyle Duffy’s rollicking rhymes!
The first illustration she has finished, turned out even above my expectations. She has made Rumtum so real, so easy to relate to, and at the same time making us feel better for our uniqueness. But she has also added her touch of whimsy, that is so tantalizing to the imagination.
I have over 50 cousins, all talented in their own unique ways. Nerris Nassiri and I were searching for just the right illustrator to give Charlie and the Hot Air Balloon the exact feel we wanted. Different styles of illustrations can decide the mood of a story so strongly, we wanted just the perfect one. Then the below image came across my FaceBook page, (as I follow most of my cousins).
Without telling Nerris that I even knew the artist at all, I sent it to him, along with a bunch of other samples of artists for him to consider. He too fell immediately in love with it. Here was the exact feeling we were looking for. The exact feeling his words were trying so hard to convey. There was no question about it. Jessica White was the illustrator for his book.
I cannot express my gratitude enough for these amazing illustrators also falling in love with the books, and agreeing to join us in this incredibly enjoyable creative process.”
4) Can you share with us a bit about the Kickstarter you’ve started and how people can invest and share with others?
“I know too well how it feels to not be able to afford books. Almost all of the books I have read have come from libraries. Libraries make it so that books that appeal to those who may not be able to afford books, can afford to exist. They not only give the freedom of knowledge to all, but the preserve the diversity in our literature and media, to benefit all. The big reviewers that help books become widespread in libraries, like to only recommend books that are hard cover and will have enough copies printed that libraries will be able to easily find them. We need to print at least 1,000 copies of each of these titles in order to qualify. So that is exactly what the kickstarter is for. All of the money (and then some) will go directly towards the costs of making these books, (and the short film of Charlie and the Hot Air Balloon).
We would love your help in helping us to reach our goal, so that we can get these books into libraries. We are also in the process of coordinating with Charities that provide children in need with books. Some of the rewards are specifically for donating books, but you can also choose for us to donate any book you pre-order, to a child in need, and we will send you a signed postcard of the book, to show our thanks.
We would also love it if you would share this message as much as possible. The most effective way to help with a kickstarter is contacting friends and family individually. If everybody that reads this, and believes in this cause, will contact those closest to them, and individual ask them to also contribute, even if it is only $1, that is what would help the most.
I then had the great honor of interviewing Kyle Duffy, Author of Rumtum the Sailor.
1) Is this your first children’s book? What is your favourite part of the creative process so far?
“Yes, this is my first children’s book. My favorite part is getting to share a story I created with my daughter and with others. I also really love seeing a talented artist like Mary Manning interpret my story in her art.”
2) Where and when did you get the idea for the story and can you tell us a little bit about it?
“It was just over a year ago soon after our daughter was born. We were living in Brussels, and had been reading nursery rhymes to our daughter every day. I had started complaining to my wife about some of the ones in our rotation that I really didn’t like and she challenged me to write my own. Rumtum the Sailor is about a larger-than-life sailor who sets off on an adventure from which it proves difficult to return.”
3) What inspires you the most when it comes to writing?
“I like this question a lot. If I had to pick one thing that inspires me most it would be the prospect of reading my stories to my daughter and any future children we have and inspiring them to start dreaming up stories of their own.”
4) What is it like for you to see your story come to life in the illustrations?
“It’s incredible. Mary’s illustration of Rumtum with his family is up on our homepage now and every time I see it I’m blown away all over again. Seeing someone with a ton of talent take your idea and put their own spin on it is a really cool experience. I never actually pictured what Rumtum’s kids would look like so seeing her bring them to life was really an awe inspiring moment for me.
We plan to donate as many books as we can to children in need throughout the country. I am especially excited to partner with Bernie’s Book Bank in Chicago area where i live now as they provide books to kids who wouldn’t otherwise have their own to read at home on a quarterly basis for 12 years. I love their mission to further a love for reading among this population.”
My final interview is with the extremely talented, Nerris Nassiri, Author and Film-maker of Charlie and the Hot Air Balloon.
1) Is this the first children’s book you’ve created?
“Yes! I’ve written many stories before, but this is the first time I’ve gone into actually publishing a book.”
2) What is your favourite part of the creative process?
“Being able to breathe life into a character and portray their joys and struggles for an audience to empathize with. The world needs a lot of empathy right now, and I hope to create characters that can bring more of it around.”
3) What inspired you to write this story and can you tell us a little bit about it?
“Charlie and the Hot Air Balloon is a story about a young boy who builds a hot-air balloon to find his mother, who “went to the stars.” In a way, it’s a letter to my younger self. I had some sad childhood experiences and wanted to portray them in an innocent, sort of dreamy and positive way. We’ve all lost someone, and would do anything to get them back. This story tributes that.
Reviews have been mixed so far, but mostly positive. The story may not be for everyone, and that’s okay. It’s a story i wrote for both children who’ve lost, and adults who lost someone in their childhood. It’s my way of saying, “I understand how you feel. You’re not alone.””
4) You’re also developing a screenplay for Charlie and the Hot Air Balloon, how has that experience been for you?
“Exciting! Film-making is what my hands were built for. Bringing words to a visual medium, being able to work with actors and a creative team, all of it is my favourite kind of experience. I’m hesitant to start really working on everything until funding for our Kickstarter is complete. Kickstarter contributors will get a credit in the film, which seems to be getting a lot of people excited as well!”
Below are some of the beautiful rough draft sketches for Charlie and the Hot Air Balloon.
Nerris had already made other films for some of his other stories which i found to be so touching, he is incredibly talented! You can see more of his work at his webpage: Nerris Nassiri and you can find his short films here:
I would like to again say a huge thank you to Sam, Nerris and Kyle for sharing with me and for allowing me to share their beautiful stories with the world. I implore all of you reading to please visit the Kickstarter page A Belletristic Wander and make a contribution. We need more good in the world, especially for the children and what Sam, Nerris and Kyle are aiming to accomplish just goes above and beyond. I look forward to getting the final copy when both books are published so i can post reviews too! I hope you’ve all enjoyed the first edition of The Author’s Lounge, i can’t wait to bring you all more interviews and stories.
Ah the age old question, Kindle E-copy or proper hardcopy/paperback? For so long I said “no way will I ever get a Kindle, I can’t cheat on my books like that!”, it genuinely felt like I’d be betraying my books and that I’d be contributing to the loss of bookstores and public libraries. So what changed my mind? Well it was a series of novellas written by Kylie Chan, she only released them on Amazon as e-copies and I absolutely could not miss out on reading them just because I was being stubborn. I did a lot of research so I could weigh the pros and cons of e-books over real books. My partner ended up buying me a Kindle Paperwhite for my birthday and I haven’t been parted from it since. I found the paperwhite model to be perfect for me and didn’t cost an arm and a leg. The Kindle Unlimited feature is by far the best bang for you buck I’ve ever encountered. $14 per month for hundred of thousands of titles? Hell yeah! Everyday there are specials from all genres where books will only cost you $1.49, you’ll never get that anywhere else except for perhaps a thrift shop or garage sale. And you can store endless amounts of books on there too. Oh and did I mention you can get the Kindle app on your Smartphone? Everything you buy on your Kindle automatically syncs to your app so no matter what, you can bring multiple books with you everywhere and for someone like me who likes to read 4 or 5 books at once, this is a lifesaver. I used to take a huge book bag to work with the 3-5 books I was currently reading, it was so heavy, but it was necessary because I never knew what I was going to feel like reading, with a Kindle that is never something you have to worry about. And I know what you’re thinking, but Jen, what about real books and book stores? I still read real books, I still go to my public library and borrow regularly and the few bookstores that are left, I still go to when I have the money (which unfortunately isn’t as often as I would like). Nothing compares to the feeling and the smell of a new or borrowed book so that is not something I’ll ever give up for good. Also the cover artwork on most of the novels I read are absolutely stunning and unfortunately the Kindle Paperwhite is only black and white so you don’t get the full effect of a beautiful fantasy novel cover, they still look great as you’ll see below but not quite the same as the hardcopy. Sometimes if a book on Amazon is cheap enough I will buy it for my Kindle and buy a hardcopy to keep too. I should probably start receiving commission from Amazon with the amount of Kindle’s I’ve convinced people to buy, none of them have regretted it either, promise!
I nearly forgot to mention possibly the best feature of the Paperwhite, it has a MULTIPLE MONTH BATTERY LIFE. I use my Kindle everyday usually for 2-3 hours, and I never turn it off. I’ve had it for a year and a half and I swear I’ve only charged it maybe 4 times. It has a backlight that you can dim or increase to suit you, finally I can read my book in bed and not keep my partner and puppy awake! You can also easily skip forward and back in the book and highlight passages/quotes you want to post or keep. You can purchase all different covers to protect your Kindle, it makes it a little bit bulkier but at least you have piece of mind that it’s safe no matter what.
Another amazing feature Kindle’s have is Goodreads. Goodreads is a magical place where you can connect with other likeminded readers and share your thoughts and opinions and reviews. I love the world of books Goodreads opened up for me, I love the people I’ve become friends with through writing reviews and I love that they have regular competitions and giveaways along with interviews with authors! It connects us all in a way real books just can’t, unless you’re in a book club, which lets face it, are more of an online thing now anyway! I must be part of 10 different book clubs right now, all of them online. Without my Kindle I don’t think I would have even thought to start this blog. Posting reviews to Goodreads was what got me interested in writing even more for myself. Okay so you’re probably wondering if I’m getting paid to write this by Amazon because of how much praise I’m giving, I assure you, I’m definitely not! I genuinely believe this piece of technology is a must have for avid readers. So what are you waiting for? A magical world awaits!
ARC provided by Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.
The Huntresses of Artemis must obey two rules: never disobey the goddess, and never fall in love. After being rescued by the Goddess Artemis, Kahina becomes part of the hunt, and now lives amongst the female warriors. On a routine mission things don’t quite go right and Kahina finds herself breaking the first rule to save Atalanta. In order to earn back Artemis’s favour, Kahina is sent to complete a task in the kingdom of Arkadia, which turns out to be where Atalanta came from and where she discovers her father who is in fact, their King. Atalanta’s father is insisting on marrying off his daughter to the highest bidder, Kahina helps Atalanta devise a dangerous game to avoid marriage and when word spreads throughout Greece, fate is tempted as suitors from all over arrive to race Atalanta for her hand in marriage. The game turns deadly when two men from both of their pasts arrive to compete and Kahina finds herself in danger of breaking Artemis’ second rule.
Right from the start you’re introduced to a very large array of characters, it was hard to keep up with at first so I ended up taking notes just to keep track. We have two main characters in this story and the view points change each chapter to show us the story from both their points of view, which I really enjoyed. Atalanta and Kahina, two strong, brave young ladies who have both had tough lives. Atalanta never knew her parents, has spent her life trying to be accepted and finally found her place when she met her best friend Meleager, Prince Meleager that is. Atalanta is handpicked by him with a group of others to hunt down the Goddess Artemis’s Calydonian boar. It’s on this hunt that Atalanta and Kahina come across each other for the first time. Kahina is a huntress of the Goddess Artemis, she and the other huntresses have been tailing Atalanta and their group for some time, they’re to protect the Goddess’s boar at all costs. But something stirs within Kahina and she can’t bare to see Atalanta hurt, she takes a huge risk and thus starts a chain of events she could never have imagined in her wildest dreams. There wasn’t a huge amount of character depth which I feel the story could really use. This was actually my first f/f love story, their relationship had a really slow build and started off similarly to most, with them hating each other for no real reason and getting on each other’s nerves until the things they did to annoy each other became endearing to them.
I love the way this story is told, based on actual mythology and set in Ancient Greece, Elizabeth made this story her own in the most perfect way. I actually thought it was going to be a series, being introduced to so many characters at the start but not having them all properly explained made me feel like this was just the first book, a set up novel to the next two, alas unfortunately I was wrong! A lot happens to Atalanta and Kahina, both of their pasts are quite horrible and had you feeling for them both, these pasts however are what bring the two together. You can tell Elizabeth has done her research but also put quite a bit of herself into the story. It only took me two days to read because the story simply grasped me straight away and I didn’t want to put it down until I knew what happened next. I love all the strong female characters and loathe pretty much most of the men, not sure if that was the intention but all the men, with the exception of two, came off as savage beasts. I would have loved a bit more back story on the magic side of things that happened to Kahina, while reading it felt like there was a lot more that could be told. I would really love to have some prequel stories about the other amazing characters we met, especially on the huntresses. All in all I very much enjoyed reading this book and have no issue recommending it to others, I have no doubt at all that this book will do really well when released later this year.
Title: Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy book two)
Author: Deborah Harkness
Published: Headline Publishing Group
“It began with a discovery of witches…”
Historian Diana Bishop, descended from a line of powerful witches, and long-lived vampire Matthew Clairmont have broken the laws dividing creatures. When Diana discovered a significant alchemical manuscript, she sparked a struggle in which she became bound to Matthew. Now the fragile coexistence of witches, daemons, vampires and humans is dangerously threatened. Seeking safety, Diana and Matthew travel back in time to London, 1590. But they soon realise that the past may not provide a haven…
OK so it took me a little over a year to read the whole book. It’s a big book. It’s a slow book. It has a lot of content and characters and if you’ve read the first one and thought there was a lot of tedious conversations and a lot of history you’ll find it hard to believe there is even more in this one. Now you probably think i hated the book, but i didn’t! I just really struggled to stay focused on it. It isn’t a book you can just pick up one afternoon and read the whole thing. There’s a lot going on and a lot to process so i found myself getting overwhelmed quite regularly and had to put it down and pick it up either a couple of days or even a couple of months later, hence it taking me so long to complete it.
Matthew and Diana travel back in time to Elizabethan London and Diana learns a lot more about Matthew straight off the bat. ‘”Just who are you, Matthew?” I hadn’t thought to ask him before we departed.’ This sentence really sums up A LOT about their relationship. Diana realising she has been a bit reckless and learnt virtually nothing about the man she is now magically tied to, not that it changes the way she feels about him. We are introduced to new characters, members of the School of Night which include Christopher Marlowe (who is a Daemon who goes by the name Kit), Walter Raleigh, Thomas Harriet, George Chapman and more. The historian that Diana is can barely contain her excitement and disbelief that Matthew not only know these people but is friend to them as well! I enjoyed the name dropping in the beginning but they didn’t end up adding much to the story/plot which was disappointing. I’m really glad Deborah didn’t write everything in Elizabethan English, it would have grown tedious quickly. I found it very clever of her to explain how much Diana was struggling with it, that was enough reference for me. Gallowglass, Matthews brother, became my favourite character virtually as soon as he was introduced mostly because of his relationship with Diana that blossoms so naturally.
The reason they traveled back in time finally comes back into the picture, they need to find a witch professor to teach Diana her magic. They find one and it goes about as well as you’d expect (not well at all) and now Diana may be in even more danger. So now they have to leave and go somewhere safer and find someone else to teach her, they end up travelling to Sept Tours and the Village of Saint-Lucien and we’re introduced to Matthew’s vampire father, Phillippe, who i adore instantly. Not all of Matthew’s family that we meet are as likable, some i downright hated.
Diana learning her magic, how to weave the strands of time and discovering she has a fire-drake were all interesting points in the story. There were a few twists and unexpected turns, more travelling to different places like Prague and discovering all the different things Matthew was involved in. I’ve read a lot of other reviews for this book and most disliked the ending, i myself found it was well suited and made me curious to what would come in the final book. Part of the ending also made me quite emotional, Diana went through so much in this book which you don’t really full take in at the time, so when she is finally reunited with loved ones you can’t help but feel for her. Speaking of the end of the book, there is a list of all the characters (because there are so, so many) and descriptions of them so if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed like i was, flip to the back of the book and you’ll find your way back on track. I wish i had known about the list when i first read it!
Book two didn’t grab me like the first did, i’m glad i persisted and finished it though because book three is just stunning so i’ll be posting a review for that very soon.