FCBC Reading Challenge 2020: Neon Empire by Drew Minh #BookReview

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In a state-of-the-art city where social media drives every aspect of the economy, a has-been Hollywood director and an investigative journalist race to uncover the relationship between a rising tide of violence and corporate corruption.

Bold, colorful, and dangerously seductive, Eutopia is a new breed of hi-tech city. Rising out of the American desert, it’s a real-world manifestation of a social media network where fame-hungry desperados compete for likes and followers. But in Eutopia, the bloodier and more daring posts pay off the most. As crime rises, no one stands to gain more than Eutopia’s architects—and, of course, the shareholders who make the place possible.

This multiple-POV novel follows three characters as they navigate the city’s underworld. Cedric Travers, a has-been Hollywood director, comes to Eutopia looking for clues into his estranged wife’s disappearance. What he finds instead is a new career directing—not movies, but experiences. The star of the show: A’rore, the city’s icon and lead social media influencer. She’s panicking as her popularity wanes, and she’ll do anything do avoid obscurity. Sacha Villanova, a tech and culture reporter, is on assignment to profile A’rore—but as she digs into Eutopia’s inner workings, she unearths a tangle of corporate corruption that threatens to sacrifice Cedric, A’rore, and even the city itself on the altar of stockholder greed.

This is Book 6 for the 2020 Reading Challenge for my online book club, The Fiction Cafe Book Club. The category was ‘A book which is a dystopian novel.’ The eagle-eyed amongst you will note that I have not reviewed book five in the challenge, ‘A book from my favourite genre.’ Unfortunately, the book I chose for this category was not to my tastes so, in line with my policy of not including negative reviews on the blog, I have decided I will not be reviewing it.

Neon Empire is a dystopian novel set in a not-too-distant future where the world’s increasing obsession with social media status has developed to the next level and a whole city has been constructed where popularity and social media influence are the sole currency and where flocks of people gather to pursue fame and fortune and hedonism. But the maintenance of status becomes all-consuming, and people’s desire to achieve or maintain their position drives them to further and further extremes and the corporations in control go to ever more desperate lengths to monetise experience to the last degree, regardless of the danger to human life. This all leads to a tautly-wound society that is only ever seconds away from violence and civil disobedience and it is only going to take one wrong move for the tinder-box to erupt.

The pace of the book is frenetic, and the story arc is spliced and jumbled and told by different voices and all angles, to reflect the fast, constantly-changing, crazy world of utopia, where things move and change from second to second and everyone is constantly reacting to changing stimuli and running to catch up. The world-building is detailed and evocative, in my mind Eutopia is a cross between Las Vegas on acid and Minority Report and, for some reason, a place where it is permanently night. Sometimes the text provides too much information to take in, and your brain is chasing the detail, unable to keep up, but again this is deliberate, to reflect the reality that the book presents, which makes for an exciting read, but it is not remotely relaxing!

This is an interesting exploration of where our society could go, given the trajectory we are on at the moment. Bearing in mind the scandals there have been with regard to data-mining and social media influencing of our decision-making in recent years, of how susceptible we all are to online marketing and rumour, how we know that the internet seems to predict our every move by monitoring our online interactions, the world portrayed here is no so far-fetched as to be unimaginable. It is not, however, a pretty or comfortable picture and should give us all pause for thought.

A future of online manipulation, superficiality and artifice is not a place I want to live, or for my children to grow up in. This book made me want to get out in the fresh air and touch something real.

Neon Empire is out now and you can buy a copy here.

 

#Blog Blitz: The Faerie Tree by Jane Cable #BookReview

The Faerie Tree

I’m very pleased to be taking part in this blog blitz for a book I have had sitting on my TBR since last summer when I bought a copy at the RNA Conference and the author was kind enough to sign it for me. It has finally reached the top of the pile and I am indebted to Rachel Gilbey for inviting me to take part in the blitz. I have reviewed the book honestly and impartially. Make sure you check out the giveaway further down the post where you have the chance to win a copy of the book.

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HOW CAN A MEMORY SO VIVID BE WRONG?

In the summer of 1986 Robin and Izzie hold hands under The Faerie Tree and wish for a future together. Within hours tragedy rips their dreams apart.

In the winter of 2006, each carrying their own burden of grief, they stumble back into each other’s lives and try to create a second chance. But why are their memories of 1986 so different? And which one of them is right?

I really did not know what to expect from this book, I wasn’t sure if it was going to be fantasy or magical realism, either of which I would have enjoyed, but it is neither. It is a surprising, powerful and emotional story of relationships, family, grief, loss and the way our minds react to trauma. I found the novel profoundly moving and was hooked from start to finish.

The author draws a trio of very strong and likeable characters in the novel, in Izzie and Robin, who tell the story in a dual narrative, and Izzie’s daughter, Claire, who is both an anchor and a catalyst in the tale. The story moves easily between Izzie and Robin’s recollection of events, and between current and historic happenings – it is incredibly well constructed. I thought the premise was fascinating and deftly explored, how reliable are our memories of events and how much does our psyche alter them to protect us from ordeals that we are not emotionally equipped to survive.

The Faerie Tree of the title is symbolic, and represents people’s hopes and dreams, a place where the protagonists come to reveal their innermost wishes, offload their concerns and voice their fears in the hope someone can hear them and help them process these desires. It then represents a place of blame and haunting, when those hopes and dreams are dashed and there is no one else to inculpate. It draws the focus of the family’s pain and becomes a way of them reaching out to it, and then each other, to share and understand and come together. I thought it was a really beautiful idea that was carried off without any mawkishness or sentimentality. The author explores the ideas of our connections to nature and spirituality through gratitude to the earth and its bounty, how this is important to some but misunderstood and ridiculed by others but, in the end, it is something that is likely to be fundamental to the survival of our species and our planet. Jane does this very cleverly and subtley, without any hint of preachiness, but I felt it through the narrative and it really resonated in present times.

The core of this story though, is love and relationships, how difficult they can be when people can’t make themselves understood by one another, or really understand themselves. In the end, success really comes down to openness, open-mindedness, trust and commitment. It feels to me a very true and very resonating story, and it left me warmed and thoughtful. It also contained some gorgeous pieces of description.

I really loved this book and I hope it finds its way to a large audience because it is a thoughtful, insightful and rewarding piece of work.

The Faerie Tree is out now and you can get a copy here.

Giveaway

If you would like to win paperback copies of The Faerie Tree and Jane’s first book, The Cheesemaker’s House, enter the giveaway by clicking on the Rafflecopter link below:

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*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box above.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Please make sure you follow the rest of the tour:

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About the Author

The Faerie Tree - Jane Cable 2019

Jane Cable writes romantic fiction with the over-riding theme that the past is never dead. She published her first two books independently (the multi award winning The Cheesemaker’s House and The Faerie Tree) and is now signed by Sapere Books. Two years ago she moved to Cornwall to concentrate on her writing full time, but struggles a little in such a beautiful location. Luckily she’s discovered the joys of the plot walk.

Connect with Jane:

Website: http://janecable.com

Facebook: Jane Cable

Twitter: @JaneCable

The Sapphire Society by L. C. Sarll #GuestPost (@c_sarll) @matadorbooks #TheSapphireSociety

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A forgotten necklace… A far-off land… A fantasy she never imagined…

Savannah Wood doesn’t just think she’s an ordinary twelve-year-old, she knows she is. Eager to leave the bullies that have made her life unbearable, she jumps at the chance when her father suddenly announces they’re moving to the Faroe Islands for his new job. Savannah is ready to find new adventures – especially ones that can link her to her ancestry. Her grandmother was Faroese, and when in the move Savannah’s mother unearths a sapphire necklace that belonged to her, Savannah is drawn to it, little realising that this gem will change her life forever.

For there are dark secrets hiding beneath the waters surrounding her new home. Deep in the fjords exists the Hellson, an underwater volcano ruled over by Ragnar, a merciless Viking with a craving for power. With only a secret force called The Sapphire Society to stand in his way, Ragnar will stop at nothing to claim the islands and its inhabitants for his own. Told that her grandmother was an accomplished member, Savannah throws herself into the society, nurturing her own talents and making new friends. But when the Hellson threatens to erupt and Ragnar’s army strikes, Savannah must call on all her courage to stand up to her nightmares and face the threat head-on for the sake of the island – and the entire world.

When I was approached by Sophie Morgan at Troubador to see if I was interested in reviewing The Sapphire Society by L. C. Sarll, I was disappointed that I was unable to fit in a reading of this book at present, as the blurb really appealed to me. So I am delighted to bring you instead a guest post by the author, to whet your appetite and mine, for a future reading of the book.

Author Interview with L. C. Sarll

What inspired you to write this book?

The Sapphire Society was inspired by two lovely ladies; my daughter and my grandmother.

Why did you decide to set the book on the Faroe Islands?

The Faroe Islands are where my Grandmother was born. The magical stories she told me as a child are so inspirational; I felt duty bound to try and pass snippets on, albeit in my own way.

What did you learn when writing the book?

Perseverance.

What do you hope readers will take away from this story?

The world is a magical place; we need only see when we look.

What book from your childhood has shaped you most as a writer?

The Borrowers by Mary Norton. It changed the way I saw my own surroundings and appreciate the little things.

Are there any future books for you?

Yes! The Sapphire Society is the first of a four-book set sequence. ‘The Mother of the Sea’ will continue Savannah’s journey as she finds dark challenges ahead.

Thank you for answering my questions, I look forward to reading the book in the near future.

The Sapphire Society is out now and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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L C Sarll is  passionate about children’s literature. ‘The Sapphire Society’ is her debut middle grade fiction, to be released in February 2020. Visit the mysterious Faroe Islands for a dash of magic, friendship and a fight for the world.

Connect with L. C. Sarll:

Website: http://www.lcsarll.co.uk

Twitter: @c_sarll

 

Tempted by…The Bookwormery: The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow @lelbudge @AlixEHarrow @orbitbooks #TenThousandDoorsofJanuary #bookbloggers #amreading #readingrecommendations

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EVERY STORY OPENS A DOOR

In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored and utterly out of place.

But her quiet existence is shattered when she stumbles across a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page reveals more impossible truths about the world, and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.

Today’s Tempted by… comes courtesy of Lesley over at The Bookwormery with this review of The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow.

There was one word from this review that made me buy this book, and I didn’t need any more than that to convince me to pick it up. ‘Mesmerising.’ Any book that Lesley describes as mesmerising is one that I want to read.

Aside from that, this is a book about books, about how books open the door to other worlds, or certainly that is how Lesley describes it in her review, and as a reader who understands tis completely, how could one not want to read it? There isn’t much more to the review than this, but it just goes to show that massively wordy reviews (much like the ones I tend to write!) are unnecessary and succinct reviews, if the words are chosen carefully and wisely, are just as effective, if not more so because people are less likely to get bored and switch off!

If you haven’t come across Lesley’s wonderful blog before now, you must go over and have a look. Lesley is a prolific blogger (and that is coming from someone who reads a lot), some days I can hardly keep up with her reviews but I always make sure I read them because I value her opinion and I don’t want to miss out on anything great. She is one of the reasons my TBR is so huge! If you want to take a look for yourself, you can find her blog here.

And if you would like to pick up a copy of The Ten Thousand Doors of January yourself after reading Lesley’s review, you can buy a copy here.

Tempted by…my way by starlight: A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer @waybystarlight @BrigidKemmerer @KidsBloomsbury #ACurseSoDarkAndLonely #Cursebreakers #bookbloggers #amreading #readingrecommendations

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Fall in love, break the curse.
Break the curse, save the kingdom.

Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall, is cursed. Forced to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he can only be freed by love. But at the end of each autumn he is transformed into a beast hell-bent on destruction, and after so many failed attempts, his kingdom and its people are barely holding on.

Harper’s life has never been easy, but she’s learned to be tough enough to survive. She won’t let anything hold her back, not her cerebral palsy or her mother’s deteriorating health. But when she is sucked into Rhen’s world, nothing is as it seems. Powerful forces are standing against Emberfalll … and it will take more than a broken curse to save it from utter ruin.

This week on Tempted by… I have a genre I don’t read very often, Young Adult, and I was persuaded to step out of my comfort zone and pick up this copy of A Curse So Dark and Lonely  by Brigid Kemmerer after I read this review by Kaite at my way by starlight.

Kaite writes about this book with such passion and tenderness, explaining how it helped her out at a really difficult time. This is what all of the best literature does, transports you to another time, place or simple headspace just when you need it. It made me wonder if the book could do the same for me. In addition, who doesn’t love a fairytale retelling, and Beauty and the Beast is one of my favourites. I have discovered some of my favourite reads by being persuaded by other bloggers to step out of my comfort zone over the past three years, so I look forward to seeing where this book takes me.

This spirit of wanting to experience books that are out of my normal genre choices is one of the main reasons I was attracted to Kaite’s blog in the first place. She reads in quite different genres to me, but her reviews are always heartfelt and inspiring. And she also has an awesome Bookstagram feed which is gorgeous and fills me with jealousy and inspiration at the same time. Make sure you visit Kaite’s lovely blog at my way by starlight.

And is you have been equally tempted by this review to want a copy of A Curse So Dark and Lonely, you can get a copy here. Book 2 in the Cursebreaker series, A Heart So Fierce and Broken is also out now.

Tales of What The F*ck by D. A. Watson #BookReview #BlogTour (@davewatsonbooks) @WildWolfPublish @RaRaResources #RachelsRandomResources #TalesOfWhatTheF*ck

Tales of the What the Fck

I’m happy to be taking part in the blog tour today for Tales of What The F*ck by D. A. Watson. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey from Rachel’s Random Resources for the blog tour invitation and to the publisher for my digital copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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Billionaire terminal cancer patient John Longmire’s going to die today, and he’s going out in style in the classiest euthanasia clinic in the world. But the strange nurse with the clipboard and the look of a goddess is spoiling the mood, with all her irksome questions about how he’s lived his life.

Recent retiree Gerald loves his wife Barbara and he loves his garden, but Barbara hates the garden. Because the garden’s taking Gerald over, and Barbara says he has to stop before he has another ‘incident’.

Bullied, ridiculed and unloved, moustachioed schoolgirl “Hairy” Mhairi Barry has never had any friends but the ones she finds on the shelves of the library where she’s spent most of her lonely childhood. But tonight, she’s going to a party with all the cool kids, to show them what she’s learned in all those books.

A suspicious smelling smorgasbord of lovelorn psychopaths, vengeful mugging victims, pawn shop philosophers and rhyming Glaswegian alien abduction, Tales of the What the Fuck is a dark, touching, horrific and hilarious collection of short stories, flash fiction and epic poetry from People’s Book Prize nominated author D.A. Watson. Things are about to get weird.

Well, I stepped well outside my comfort zone with this book, but that is always one of the pleasures of book blogging, reading things you would not normally pick up. This is definitely a book that would not usually find its way in to my reading schedule, and I’m still not 100% sure what I just read, but it certainly shook me out of any reading complacency I may have found myself in!

This book is extremely hard to categorise, such a random mix of flash fiction, poetry and short stories across a very diverse bunch of genres, with not much to link them except the perverse mind that wrote them all. And I think that the mind which came up with all of these may be something we don’t want to dwell on too much, because a lot of the stories are very dark and twisted!

Any one of a squeamish disposition should steer well clear, along with anyone offended by swearing. However, readers of a more robust and curious nature may wish to dip a toe in and explore this unique compendium of dark tales. If you do, you will encounter the unexpected at every turn, come face to face with criminals, psychopaths, aliens and much, much more around every corner, and wonder how you ended up where you find yourself.

The big draw for this book is that parts of it are very funny, if your sense of humour takes a turn towards the black side, and there are a lot of wry observations on the vagaries of modern life and relationships. This book will not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it is certainly different, and the author is obviously talented, lending a hand to a lot of different styles. One for those times when you fancy stretching the boundaries of your experience and opening your mind a little.

Tales of What The F*ck is out now as an ebook and you can buy a copy here.

Make sure you follow the rest of the tour for the reactions of other bloggers to this book.

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About the Author

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D.A. Watson was halfway through a music and media degree at the University of Glasgow and planning on being a teacher when he discovered he was actually a better writer than musician. He unleashed his debut novel In the Devil’s Name on an unsuspecting public in the summer of 2012, and plans of a stable career in education left firmly in the dust, later gained his masters in Creative Writing from the University of Stirling.

He has since published two more novels; The Wolves of Langabhat and Cuttin’ Heads, a collection of short fiction and poetry, Tales of the What the F*ck, and several acclaimed articles, poems and stories, including Durty Diana, which was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in the US in 2016, and the Burns parody Tam O’ Shatner, prizewinner at the Falkirk Storytelling Festival and Dunedin Burns Poetry Competition, and nominated for the People’s Book Prize in 2018.

Watson’s writing has appeared in several anthologies and collections including 404 Ink, Dark Eclipse, Speculative Books, Haunted Voices and The Flexible Persona, and he is also a regular spoken word performer, with past gigs at Bloody Scotland, Tamfest, Sonnet Youth, Express Yourself, Clusterf*ck Circus, and the Burnsfest festival in 2018, where he appeared on the main stage as the warm up act for the one and only Chesney Hawkes, a personal milestone and career highlight.

His fourth novel Adonias Low will be released by Stirling Pubishing in 2021. He lives with his family in a witch infested village on the west coast of Scotland, and continues to write some seriously weird sh*t.

Connect with Dave:

Facebook: Dave Watson Books

Twitter: @davewatsonbooks

Oranges and Lemons by Paula F. Andrews #GuestPost (@PaulaAAuthor) @matadorbooks #OrangesAndLemons

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Gregarious teenager, Jessifer Jordan, has always been loyal and open, and her love of acting has made her an expert in pretence. So, when six-year old Victorian ghost, Adeline, appears in her life and Jess’s best friend won’t believe her, deceit becomes Jess’s natural ally. Previously fun-loving and sociable, she becomes serious and isolated in her quest to discover what Adeline really wants. Always curious, she finds herself whisked back in time to 1863 and into the clutches of a volatile doctor with an obsession for morphine.

As she journeys back and forth into the past, she realises that Adeline reminds her of her dead sister and her submerged grief resurfaces. Will her great aunt Ruby’s counsel help her? Can she outwit the deranged medic? And whose is that smoky cat which keeps turning up out of the blue?

I am delighted to be featuring Oranges and Lemons by Paula F. Andrews on the blog today with a fabulous guest post from the author. My thanks to Sophie Morgan at Troubador for inviting me to do the feature.

Author interview with Paula F. Andrews

What is your book about?

Oranges and Lemons is a light ghost story, set in York, and involving time-slip episodes between the modern day and 1863. The main character is a fourteen-year-old contemporary teenage girl called Jessifer. She answers the call of a six-year-old ghost called Adeline. Her quest leads to conflict with her best friends and wonderful, beloved Aunt Ruby but underlines her deep empathy, love and loyalty. 

When did you know you wanted to write a book, and why this one? What was your inspiration?

I had an idea for a children’s picture book about ten years ago which led me to begin a course in writing for children. I then created a teenage girl character and felt I could write a story that would bring her together with a little ghostly character from local legend. I’d been interested in the little ghost since my teenage years and felt her fun, vibrant personality would be perfect for a book for young teenagers. The picture book is still at the idea stage!

How did you research the story? What was the most fascinating thing you learned?

I spent a long time looking into the development of morphine analgesia and the development of the hypodermic syringe. I did most of my research online but I also spent time in the Library and Archives in York, examining texts about the city, its streets and buildings, disease and medical care in the 1860s. I discovered that The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley was published in the year my story is set and also that the American Civil War was happening at the same time as the little ghost’s father was doing his own research into using the hypodermic syringe.

How long do you write each day?

I try to spend part of each day writing, whether it’s a blog, letters, social media posts, novel, short story or poetry writing. Now that my book has been published and I am working on the marketing and sales side of things as well, I’ve set aside three days for mainly writing and editing with the remainder of the working week allocated to  planning and doing events, signings and launches. Inevitably, I spend part of my weekend doing admin and also some writing.

Where do you like to write?

Until recently, I wrote in my lounge, which meant tidying all my papers, storyboards, etc, away, at the end of the day. So, now, I have converted our spare room into a writing-cum-guest-cum-sitting room where I can have all my things spread out! (Until someone comes to stay!)

I also love to write in cafes! And people watch at the same time!

What was the most valuable piece of advice you’ve had about being a writer that you’d like to share with others?

To write every day, even if it’s only a short letter or a social media post. Using the ‘writing muscles’ is important for maintaining skill but to achieve real growth, daily writing is vital.

What was the hardest part of writing this book? What was the best? 

The hardest: agonising over cutting out characters and chunks I really liked.

The best: seeing each of my unique characters take shape and giving them different voices.

What has been your favourite part of the publishing process?

Getting the final cover design!

Do you have plans for another book?

I have a completed fantasy novel for middle grade readers which requires editing. I also have ideas about another story involving some of the characters from Oranges and Lemons but with a different setting. And I have begun planning a second novel for middle grade readers.

Paula, thank you for answering my questions, it has been fascinating to hear about your writing process.

Oranges and Lemons is out now and you can get a copy here.

About the Author

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Paula F. Andrews has been a nurse, midwife and craftsperson. She grew up in North Yorkshire and now lives in Glasgow with her husband and grown-up children. Writing seriously since 2012, she has won numerous prizes including Strathkelvin Writers’ Group overall prize for 2019 and the Scottish Association of Writers prize for YA fiction in 2017. She has also been published in Aquila and Scottish Memories magazine.
Connect with Paula:

Website: http://paulaandrews.co.uk

Twitter: @PaulaAAuthor

Facebook: Paula Andrews

Instagram: @paulaandrewsauthor

Legacy of Light by C. D. Tavenor #Spotlight #BlogTour (@tavenorcd) @TwoDoctorsMedia @RaRaResources #RachelsRandomResources #LegacyOfLight

Legacy of Light

Happy to be taking part today in the blog tour for Legacy of Light by C. D. Tavenor by shining a spotlight on the book. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for my place on the tour.

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If only they knew us as more than accursed.

The Holy Empire hates the People of Light. Maripes, arriving in its capital, seeks to save his people from certain destruction. The Inquisition seeks theocratic justice, and it will stop at nothing to rid the world of those it considers evil.

Still, Maripes must try. For if he fails, doom will certainly befall his people. Standing in his way? The High Inquisitor, the Empress, and a million subjects all indoctrinated to believe he is evil incarnate.

Should be an easy task.

Otherwise, his son Mono, a soldier in the legions of their people, will face the fight of his life . . .

I’m afraid I haven’t had chance to read this book due to my packed review schedule for this month, but it sounds like something interesting and different and I am definitely adding it to my wish list.

Legacy of Light is out now and you can get a copy here.

Please make sure you visit the other blogs taking part in the tour as detailed on the poster below, for reviews and other content:

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About the Author

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C. D. Tavenor is a science fiction and fantasy author based in Columbus, Ohio and the Director of Editorial Services for Two Doctors Media Collaborative!

He’s excited to tell stories that engage readers beyond a desire for entertainment, whether through philosophical inspiration or social inquiry. And he’s a firm believer in connecting every piece of fiction to reality, whether through their themes or their settings.

When not writing, Tavenor enjoys the more than occasional board game, his favorite being Eclipse.

Connect with C. D. Tavenor:

Website: https://www.twodoctorsmedia.com/for-readers/our-books

Facebook: C. D. Tavenor

Twitter: @tavenorcd

Tangled Roots by Denise D. Young #BlogTour #GuestPost (@ddyoungbooks) @RaRaResources #RachelsRandomResources #TangledRoots

Tangled Roots

I am taking my turn on the blog tour today for Tangled Roots by Denise D. Young by featuring a guest post by the author. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for my place on the tour and to the author for the guest post.

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A beautiful witch lost in time. A brooding farm boy with magic in his blood and a chip on his shoulder. Dark secrets and shadowy magic. Paranormal romance with a time slip awaits in the first book of this new series.

Cassie Gearhart casts a spell in the forest in the summer of 1974. The next thing she knows, she wakes up to find the world irrevocably changed.

It’s 2019, for one thing. For another, all of her coven members have vanished, leaving behind only one man who holds the key to their secrets.

Nick Felson has sworn off magic, until a confused Cassie knocks on his door in the middle of the night, somehow missing forty-five years’ worth of time. But Nick knows falling for the captivating witch means letting magic back into his life—and that’s one line he swore he’d never cross.

Can Cassie unravel the mystery that transported her decades into the future? And can Nick resist the powerful magic and heart-pounding passion that swirl in the air whenever he and Cassie are together?

*The Tangled Magic Series is intended for readers 18-plus who enjoy fast-paced reads, wild and witchy magic, swoon-worthy kisses, and small-town charm. The series is best read in order.

Why I Went Indie: My Journey to Being An Indie Author by Denise D. Young

In May of this year, I reached a milestone: I published my debut release, Tangled Roots, part of my Tangled Magic Series. But my writing journey, full of twists and turns, began 11 years ago.

I graduated with my master’s degree in creative writing in 2008. At that time, indie publishing was sort of this wild, newfangled notion—an experiment, really.

My first encounter with indie-authordom was with now RITA award-winning romance author, Kait Nolan. Kait’s smart, confident, no-nonsense yet approachable demeanor combined with her phenomenal writing chops were my first glimpse that indie authors could take the world by storm. That passion and determination inspired me.

But that was 2008, and I wasn’t ready. I had lessons to learn, skills to master, and confidence to gain.

I published a few short stories over the years, but I wasn’t quite ready to hit publish on my longer works. They languished in drawers as I proclaimed them in need of one last polish.

And then, in 2018, I saw indie author Sarra Cannon speak at a local RWA chapter. Her talk rekindled my fire to get my stories out into the world.

In January 2019, I made the decision official: I was going the indie author path. There’s no right or wrong path to being an author. Success can be found on many paths.

So, what led me to choose the indie author path?

First, I have the right blend of personality traits for it.

I’ve long had an entrepreneurial mindset, which I trace back to the first business I ever started: Vampires, Inc., a vampire-slaying business my brother and I co-founded when I was nine and he was eight. (Vampires, Inc. was also my first experience with the importance of market research, as we soon closed for business when unable to find a single customer in need of our services.)

I’m analytical and like to make data-driven decisions, but I also trust my intuition to help me make the final call. I’m fairly tech-savvy and enjoy learning new skills, which come in handy when learning anything from how to purchase ISBNs to Amazon keywords.

Second, I like being able to set my own production schedule and choose my own creative projects.

Like any writer, I do sometimes struggle with shiny-idea syndrome, but now that I’ve published book one of my series, I’m focused on sharing the stories of the Willow Creek Coven with readers. I want Nick, Cassie, Vivienne, Evan, Bailee, and the other characters in the series to triumph, save the day, and live happily ever after. Having Tangled Roots out there makes me that more focused on this series.

The truth is there is a lot of pressure on indie authors to write and publish extremely quickly—but not all indies publish at warp speed. (Kudos to those who do, though! Wow!) Indie authors publish at a variety of speeds, so despite the perception, there’s still plenty of space within the indie publishing world to publish at your own speed. Not, say, as slowly as a redwood grows, but at your own pace.

Third, I like being engaged at all steps of the creative and publishing process.

This might be a holdover from my magazine days, when I served as assistant editor and did everything from write feature articles to copyedit submitted materials to brainstorm cover design. I enjoy working with graphic designers, editors, and others who are part of the production process that takes a story from manuscript to published book.

Fourth, I like getting my stories into readers’ hand as quickly as possible.

There’s merit to the traditional publishing process, and I have friends who have found success beyond many writers’ wildest dreams on this path. For me, the idea of spending years from slush pile to release day felt stifling.

It’s not that I jumped too quickly into the process. Again, I’ve been writing paranormal romance since 2008. I spent over a decade learning the elements of craft, industry, and business I’d need to create a recipe for my indie author business.

I’m still only one book into this, but I know I’ve found the right path for me. People like Kait and Sarra and countless others are the trailblazers who paved the way for those of us who are just now beginning our indie-publishing journeys.

Who knows what magic awaits? As for me, I’m eager to continue sharing my Tangled Magic Series with readers, including Tangled Roots and the next book, Tangled Flames, which is coming soon!

Tangled Roots is out now and you can buy a copy here.

If you would like to read some reviews of the book and discover more fabulous content, make sure you check out the rest of the stops on the tour:

Tangled Roots Full Tour Banner

About the Author

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Equal parts bookworm, flower child, and eclectic witch, Denise D. Young writes fantasy and paranormal romance featuring witches, magic, faeries, and the occasional shifter.

Whatever the flavor of the magic, it’s always served with a brisk cup of tea–and the promise of romance varying from sweet to sensual.

She lives with her husband and their animals in the mountains of Virginia, where small towns and tall trees inspire her stories. She reads tarot cards, collects crystals, gazes at stars, and believes magic is the answer (no matter what the question was).

If you’ve ever hoped to find a book of spells in a dusty attic, if you suspect every misty forest contains a hidden portal to another realm, or if you don’t mind a little darkness before your happily-ever-after, her books might be just the thing you’ve been waiting for.

Connect with Denise:

Website: http://www.denisedyoungbooks.com

Facebook: Denise Young Writer

Twitter: @ddyoungbooks

Instagram: @deniseyoungbooks

The Hotel Where We Met by Belinda Jones #BookReview (@belindatravels) @NottingHillPR @delcoronado #TheHotelWhereWeMet #california #travel

The Hotel Where We Met

There’s a very particular reason why Chloe Sinclair has not met her Mr Right – he doesn’t exist. And he doesn’t exist because he was never born. And the reason he was never born is because the right couples in history did not get together. It now falls to Chloe to travel back in time to matchmake like her love-life depended on it…

Each of Chloe’s trips revolves around the iconic Hotel Del Coronado – part historic landmark, part Californian fairytale. Here she experiences the Victorian era when the doors first opened, the Roaring Twenties, the Fifties during the filming of Some Like It Hot and the Eighties karaoke party of your dreams!

A very special friendship has guided her to this point but the adventures go way beyond Chloe’s expectations and she soon learns that, when it comes to love, it’s all in the timing…

About flipping time! It has been waaaaaaay too long since I had a new Belinda Jones book to read, so I was absolutely delighted when I found out that Belinda had a new book coming out and that she was looking for bloggers to give it some early reviews. I have been a huge fan since I read her first book (Divas Las Vegasstill one of my favourites) so I jumped at the chance to get my hands on an early copy of her latest book, The Hotel Where We Met. Huge thanks to Belinda for sending my an e-copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

For anyone who has never read a book by Belinda before (and why not, I ask?), she writes fabulous, fun romance stories set in exotic locations, and this is no exception. The story revolves around the famous Hotel Del Coronado set on Coranado Island, just off the coast of California near San Diego. Many of you will recognise it as the setting for the movie Some Like It Hot with Marilyn Monroe and Tony Curtis, and this fact does not escape comment in the book, but you’ll have to read it to find out the significance. Disney lovers will also recognise the hotel as the inspiration for the Grand Floridian Resort at Walt Disney World.

The main reason that I love Belinda’s books so much is that she is a genius at bringing the settings of her book to life in the mind of her reader. She whisks you away from whatever mundane location you happen to be reading the book in and straight into the heart of the book, so they are perfect for armchair travellers such as myself. There is not a book of hers that I have read without wanting to jump on a plane and head off to its setting immediately. The Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo has been on my bucket list for years after it featured in The California Club (my one chance to go was thwarted by heavy rain washing the road into the sea just before our Highway 1 trip was due to happen. One day I’ll try again!) and Quebec City jumped straight to the top of my dream destination list after I read Winter WonderlandNow I am busy Googling holiday packages to California so I can visit the Del. (I think I’ve got a good chance on this one as The Irishman is desperate to do a California trip.) This book sells the destination and lifestyle better than any glossy travel brochure or expensive commercial could do. I could picture the hotel clearly in my minds eye and was right there with Chloe. Now I want to be right there for real.

Aside from the exotic setting, this book has a great romance story and fantastic characters that you will absolutely fall head over heels for, but what sets this book apart is the time travel twist. I don’t want to say much and include any spoilers in my review, what I will say is that Belinda is a genius and has really pulled the plot of all plots out of the bag for this book. I absolutely loved it, and loved how it enabled her to twist lots of fun time periods and historical detail together. It is like she has taken everything I ever loved about my all-time favourite romantic fiction books and crammed them all in to this story. I feel like she wrote it just to make me happy, it warmed every cockle of my heart. I raced through it, but didn’t want it to end. It was summer reading perfection, especially for a week that has been damp and dreary here in Yorkshire. Escapism, in every sense of the word, at its best.

Belinda Jones fans will not be disappointed in this book, and those of you who haven’t read any of her books before will get a great introduction to what makes her books so special. As for me, I have a question and a suggestion for Belinda. Firstly, when is the paperback coming out, because I need it for my ‘Belinda Jones’ shelf? Secondly, please don’t leave it so long before you write another book, I have really missed you.

The Hotel Where We Met is out now in ebook format and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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Belinda Jones is the bestselling author of 12 travelicious novels set in dream locations from Tahiti to Capri. Her latest novel – THE HOTEL WHERE WE MET – takes the travel theme a step further with time travel to the Victorian era, Roaring Twenties, Fifties and Eighties for the best music party – all set on a dreamy Californian beach!

If you like Red Velvet Cake, Whoopie Pie or pink cupcakes, join four generations of women on a cake-themed odyssey around New England with THE TRAVELLING TEA SHOP

If you’re a Dog-lover or USA-lover you’ll enjoy Belinda’s real life memoir BODIE ON THE ROAD – The Dogged Pursuit of Happiness. (Think EAT PRAY LOVE meet MARLEY & ME!) There’s also a matching website with lots of fun dog travel tips & guides: http://www.bodieontheroad.com

Belinda’s first real-life road trip memoir – ON THE ROAD TO MR RIGHT: The Search For The American Dream Guy – made the Sunday Times Top 10 alongside her hero Bill Bryson.

The Romantic Novelists’ Association nominated her one snowy story – WINTER WONDERLAND – for Best Romantic Comedy of the Year. The action takes place during the magical Quebec Winter Carnival and features husky puppies (hence the pic!)

For everyone who wishes life could be one long holiday but has a short attention span, Belinda has teamed up with some of the hottest writers in women’s fiction to take you Around the World in 80+ Stories with the bumper SUNLOUNGER & SUNLOUNGER 2 short story anthologies! Visit http://www.sunloungerstories.com to discover more about the talent involved, including Milly Johnson, Alexandra Potter, Ruth Saberton, Talli Roland and Victoria Fox.

Belinda’s dream home is the paradise island of Coronado (the setting for THE HOTEL WHERE WE MET) but she and Bodie are currently spending the summer in Devon, UK doing intensive Cream Tea research.

Connect with Belinda:

Website: https://www.bodieontheroad.com

Facebook: Belinda Jones Travel Club

Twitter: @belindatravels

Instagram: @bodieontheroad

Pinterest: @belindatravels