Reviewed: June 1st, 2022 Released: February 7th, 2019 Genre: Contemporary YA LGBTQ+ Graphic novel
Charlie and Nick are at the same school, but they’ve never met … until one day when they’re made to sit together. They quickly become friends, and soon Charlie is falling hard for Nick, even though he doesn’t think he has a chance.
But love works in surprising ways, and Nick is more interested in Charlie than either of them realised.
By Alice Oseman, winner of the YA Book Prize, Heartstopper is about love, friendship, loyalty and mental illness. It encompasses all the small stories of Nick and Charlie’s lives that together make up something larger, which speaks to all of us. Read my thoughts...
Reviewed: April 3rd, 2022 Released: October 26th, 2018 Genre: Paranormal Fantasy
For an empath, “How do you feel?” is never just a question. Not when it can kill you.
These are the rules:
1. Rare and powerful empaths never escape the compound. (Bastian Lucas escaped a year ago, and just because he’s been dragged back doesn’t mean he won’t escape again.)
2. Compound officers don’t ask questions. (Captain Henry Mortimer has always followed orders, but Bastian’s arrival—and the disappearance of one of Henry’s team—have him wondering things he probably shouldn’t be wondering.)
When Major Valentine orders Bastian and Henry to investigate a series of murders committed by an asset with powers similar to Bastian’s, it brings to light more than just a cover up. Things like why an empath who shouldn’t exist is killing senators, what’s really behind the compound’s sinister asset program, and whether Bastian and Henry will live to see the end of this case.
Because they’re in danger of breaking rule number three as well:
Reviewed: March 28th, 2022 Released: March 17th, 2022 Genre: Contemporary Fiction
There are some maps you can lose yourself in…
Nell Young has lived her life in and around maps. Her father, Dr. David Young, was one of the most respected cartographers in the world. But this morning he was found dead – or murdered? – in his office at the New York Public Library.
Nell hadn’t spoken to her father in years, ever since he fired her after an argument over a seemingly worthless highway roadside map. A map which was mass-produced – and every copy of which is now being found and destroyed. But why?
To answer that question, Nell will embark on a dangerous journey into the heart of a conspiracy beyond belief, the secrets behind her family, and the true power that lies in maps . . . Read My thoughts…
Reviewed: March 27th, 2022 (ARC) Released: October 4th, 2022 Genre: Paranormal Fantsay
Exclusively available in the Realm of Darkness Anthology.
A warrior for good. A soldier for Heaven. A heart of gold. A body of sin. Jasper Moreau has served as a guardian angel for centuries. He battles the demons and monsters in the dark so humanity can pretend they don’t exist. But being a guardian angel isn’t all divine love and light. Sometimes the human side of his nature needs to feed his own lustful appetites.
Savannah only wants to ride horses and be part of a family-her rodeo family. The rodeo was the one place she was finally able to escape her dark past and hide from supernatural abilities. She seems destined to remain the comical rodeo clown, but Fate has a mind of its own. And Fate means to stir up trouble. Read My thoughts…
Reviewed: March 23rd, 2022 Released: February 19th, 2021 Genre: Horror/Satire
One moment we are spending time with friends, family, lovers. Then, before we knew it, the whole world went to hell and we find ourselves hiding indoors, scared for our lives over what is happening outside. It’s the Apocalypse. Not the apocalypse you’d have expected, no.
We dare not go near the window for fear of being seen. We dare not go outside for fear of what will happen to us. Mindless, bumbling, soulless husks with vacant eyes wander the streets. No, not politicians. Zombies!As if that isn’t enough, we find ourselves hiding in the least likely place you’d expect to find yourself during a Zombie Apocalypse. Hush Now. A sex shop in the city centre. We have limited supplies. Instant noodles, tins of beans, packet of rice. But we have all the novelty candy underwear we can eat.
We are not alone. There are others out there. Survivors like us. We have a plan. We were to meet up with friends in their restaurant. And that plan still stands. Somehow we will get out of this place. We will survive this! Read My thoughts…
Reviewed: March 13th, 2022 Released: October 12th, 2019 Genre: Contemporary Romance
This is the story of a harried zoologist, a haunted rock star and the belt that ties them together. “Take my belt.” Stanzie Butler could not miss her flight. The most important trip of her career was on the line, and this rude, loud, unkempt hooligan was not going to ruin it with his dress code violation.
Raven Xerces, the notorious rock star with a tortured past, troubled present and uncertain future, seemed to be doing all he could to sabotage Stanzie’s flight. And like a bad penny, he just kept turning up. When Stanzie’s layover leads her to Raven once again, he tries to make amends, and Stanzie discovers that this obnoxious tabloid star isn’t at all what she expected.
Raven Song is a story for dreamers, believers, rockers and lovers. A girl-next-door meets bad boy rock n roll romance that’s sexy, fun and full of memorable characters, dark family secrets, colorful sidekicks, layered song lyrics, a talking raven, a clowder of cats, an endangered addax, a nest of sea turtles, a trip to the zoo, fine vintage guitars, a bottle of hair dye, some new tattoos, and a whole lot of rock n roll. Read My thoughts…
Today we meet contemporary romance author husband and wife team, R & C Christiansen, who write tough love, emotionally powerful novels, not always with a happy ending.
Helen: I am so excited to chat with you about your Tainted Love series. You have been sharing such great snippets of your books on instagram recently that I can’t wait to dive in. I haven’t read them yet, I’ve been holding off, knowing these are going to be an emotional rollercoaster, which I’m not sure I am quite ready for but well worth the read. Tell us about your series.
R & C Christiansen: My latest release, Hush, is part of a five book collection called the Tainted Love Series. The first three books were originally a trilogy that is now rolled into one book with three parts titled Tainted Love: The Complete Trilogy. It’s dark romance, friends to lovers, and the storyline gets deeper and darker with each book eventually ending with a HEA.
Then there is Whisper: A Tainted Love Story which is a tragic non-HEA love story that’s set around two side characters from the original series. It depicts a couple who struggle to come to terms with their past as they push forward in a world they don’t seem to belong in.
Last, I wrote Hush: The Final Tainted Story, about the younger brother of the MC in Whisper. He is a mute man who can’t read or write, and his story ends tragically also as we learn that he is in love with his brother’s wife and has no way to express nor act on it. Again, it is non-HEA and is bound to cause a variety of emotions as Cliff’s struggles are heart-breaking. I do have a trigger warning across the entire series because the subject matter demands it, but in truth, I wrote each book delicately knowing there is a thin line between dark romance and outright darkness.
Helen: This series is about tough love in tough situations. What made you write it?
R & C Christiansen: In the beginning, I had wanted to create a realistic dark romance that centered around real everyday issues people face. I wanted to show that love isn’t always perfect. It can be messy, painful, unpredictable even, but it’s something worth fighting for if two people are meant to be together. The trilogy itself represents all that and more. It’s the story of a couple (Whiskey & Vixen) who battle each other’s demons together and for each other, yet they both come from opposite sides of the spectrum. In the end, it was my fans that asked me to write the other side of the story when it came to the side characters who had no way out of the ‘darkness’ and that is how both Whisper and Hush came about.
Helen: You have such powerful characters in your series, who was your favourite character to write?
R & C Christiansen: That’s a hard question to answer because each character is so unique and strong in their own right. I’d have to go with Ken from Whisper, only because he’s more villain than hero, yet his love for his wife and brother is unparalleled when it comes to the other characters.
Helen: Tell us about your writing process. Do you listen to music or do you prefer silence when you are writing?
R & C Christiansen: Hell yes! I find music is a huge part of writing, it can inspire the feelings I need to harness in order to create the emotion I’m aiming for. Each of my books have playlists in Spotify, and both Whisper and Hush have a playlist included in the book. My current inspirations have been In This Moment, Creed, Palaye Royale, and Linkin Park. My favorite of the bands has to be In This Moment because my God, Maria Brink’s voice is out of this world. If I could compare her to one of my characters, she’d be Vixen from The Tainted Love Trilogy. She’s absolutely incredible.
Helen: I must admit I have certain albums I listen to when writing. And then of course, afterwards I always think of the charcters when I hear the songs. Do you find it easier to plan what you write, or are you a pantser, and let the book go where it will?
R & C Christiansen: I’m a pantser all the way. My novels are mainly written in first person, present tense, so I have the ability to jump inside my character’s minds and act out their scenes on paper. I let them take the lead and tell me where the story is going. My husband and co-writer says the characters are my alternate personalities and sometimes I think he’s right.
Helen: I must adnmit I am the same. I don’t write first person, but I do get into my characters heads to see what they see. I love the immersive aspect. Most writers are great readers; who is your favourite author?
R & C Christiansen: If we are talking traditionally published, I’d have to go with Tara Sue Me. Her Submissive series was phenomenal and I own every one of her books in paperback. If we are talking about my favorite Indie author, I’d have to go with two. One being Janet Olson who is a YA romance author and her series, New Beginnings is incredible. The second I would mention is Monique Edenwood, her Black Oak dark romance series has it all and I’ve read all of her books to date and am in awe.
Helen: Thank you so much for joining me today, just to close us out can you share some of your favourite books?
R & C Christiansen: Oof! That’s a long list. But to keep it short, I’d have to go with Jayne Lockwood’s Closer Than Blood series and Nicci Harris’s Our Thing/Cosa Nostra/ Her Way series. Both series are dark romance, the first being slightly taboo and the other leaning into the mafia world.
About the Author:
R&C Christiansen is a proud Canadian husband and wife team, although Mrs. Christiansen does the majority of the authoring and Mr. C does the mentoring & proofreading. Together they write dark/erotic romance novels and enjoy reading the same genres when they have time. When the Mrs., is not busy authoring, mothering, or wife-ing, she likes to indulge in a glass of wine, kick back, and think dirty thoughts hoping to inspire the next story within.
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Today I have the pleasure of meeting Adam Perry, who released his latest novel All Possible Orbits yesterday. Welcome Adam! Tell us about your new book.
Adam: Of all the books I’ve had rattling around in my head over the years, ALL POSSIBLE ORBITS is the one I’ve always wanted to write. A lot of people have dysfunctional families, but I’ve always noticed the surprise and laughter from telling close friends about mine. Theirs is that sort of laughter that floats just above their underlying shock and horror that these people really exist. From telling stories about my family for most of my life, I knew the good bits, so to speak. What I needed was a framework. Luckily, it fell onto the page one day while I was stuck in another story. I thought about my cousin who my relatives, for a moment, thought had tried to commit suicide by shooting himself in the shoulder with a rifle.
As it turned out, he had been cleaning the gun, gotten into a fight with his girlfriend who snatched the gun away from him, and accidentally fired a round through his right shoulder. As terrible as that was, what struck me is that the lie was concocted on the spot and that anyone in their right mind would believe someone would shoot themselves in the shoulder with a rifle as a means of committing suicide. Just the sheer mechanics of pulling it off versus the better than average chance of survival make this a ridiculous idea.
While I was thinking about this, the first sentences of the first draft hit the page. Once they did, the flood gate opened and all the stories I had wanted to tell seemed to pour out and create their own framework around the suicide of the protagonist’s brother. He did not choose to shoot himself in the shoulder as he was 100% committed to not surviving the act.
The novel is very personal for me. Even though the characters are only partially based on some real people, I found it very cathartic to write the piece. It was great, remarkably cheap therapy.
Helen: It is amazing where ideas come from. The art is recognizing the story within the spark and being able to capture it on paper. I love the colour combination used on your cover, tell us how you came up with the design.
Adam: My cover art was created by Mississippi artist, Drew McKercher, who also designed my website. We’ve known each other a while having played in lots of bands around the same handful of venues in town. A painting of Miles Davis that he put on his Instagram really caught my eye and I asked him to create the cover. The four elements I asked for were the camouflage shotgun, the skinning tree, the skinning rack, and a bucket with either a deer hoof or antler sticking out.
In the story, this tree is where the protagonists brother commits suicide which is the act that sets the story in motion. Its also representative of a traumatic moment in the protagonist’s childhood where he shoots and kills his first deer. In my own life, the camouflage shotgun belongs to my father and the skinning tree is behind is house in Roxie, Mississippi.
Helen: The frame hanging from the tree isquite a desolate image, suggesting this story is addressing some deep emotional issues. How does the title fit with the book?
Adam: The title inspired the work. I was taking a nap one afternoon and had the tv on low playing some Discovery show on Black Holes. I was sort of floating in and out of consciousness and heard Physicist, Michio Kaku, say the words “All Possible Orbits.” It turned over in my brain a couple of times and I liked the way it flowed. I wrote down the title on a piece of paper and went back to sleep. A few days later, the germ of the story started coming together and I wrote the first three chapters very quickly. After that, I knew I was onto something.
Helen: I often hear song lyrics which spark ideas. What made you write this book? It sounds like it wasn’t an easy story to write.
Adam: Like most artists, I created it as way to channel pain and trauma. My childhood was not that great and like the protagonist, Tucker Merril, I was sort of the odd man out. I didn’t like to hunt or fish. I didn’t particularly care for sports. I wanted to be good at something but none of the things I found interesting were valued by my father. Luckily, I had a supportive mother and stepfather who encouraged me to do what made me happy. Over the years, my father and I had our ups and downs but we’ve ben in a good place for the last several years. When I started writing ALL POSSIBLE ORBITS, I was writing it with the idea of what that relationship might have devolved into had we not put in some work to right the ship.
Helen: I’m so glad you were able to resolve your differences. Any relationship worthwhile takes effort and time. Who was your favourite character to write?
Adam: Tucker’s Aunt Puddin’ is my favourite. She has not one redeemable quality which makes her a lot of fun to write.
Helen: She sounds like one formidable lady! What genre would you classify your book as?
Adam: Well, it seems that I work in Literary Fiction which, as I understand it, is the same as Commercial Fiction without the high sales figures. I prefer to classify my work as “Southern Gonzo Fiction.” Southern because that’s the world I’m most familiar with. Fiction because I feel called to work in the field of escapism. And, finally, there’s Gonzo. Obviously, the link to Hunter S. Thompson is undeniable. Certainly, the drugs, guns, and violence figure prominently in my work. What I love most about Hunter’s work and, what I try to bring to mine, is that feeling of speed. Reading Thompson gives me a rush and I want to give my reader that feeling of a near out-of-control downhill run where any grain of sand might send you skidding over the rail to a terrible death.
Helen: This is your third novel. What made you first start writing?
Adam: Reading. Simple as that. Some of my earliest memories are being read to by my grandmother. I loved that feeling of having words create a world inside my mind.
Helen: I couldn’t agree more. Who or what inspired you to start writing?
Adam: I’ve read so many great authors but the stories that inspired me first were Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Those were my first adventures. They spawned a need to create adventures for my toys so that it gave them a purpose.
Helen: They were both amazing movies for their time. It is quite sad that they seem so dated now, but when you think how old they are, much has changed since they first graced the big screen. How do you get new ideas for your books?
Adam: They come to me in all different ways. However, one of my closest friends is convinced that I have to get angry about something and let it stir up my brain before I get down to work. There’s probably some truth to that.
Helen: Emotions are important in being creative, so I’m not surprised. Tell us a little about your writing process. Do you plan you books, or let them evolve as they will?
Adam: I’m a pantser when I start a project. I tried to write to an outline once and it made my writing feel the way a paint-by-numbers painting looks. That being said, once I’ve finished my first draft, I build a loose outline just to keep my thoughts in order.
Helen: Do you prefer writing or editing?
Adam: I love writing. That free- flowing feeling doesn’t always happen but when it does it’s just the best. It feels the same as group improvisation in music where everyone is keyed into the same channel; an open conduit to something outside of ourselves. Editing is a whole different animal. I enjoy it as well because it allows me to indulge myself in rounding out all those rough edges. I spend a lot of time in the editorial process. Some people find it tedious but I’m a tinkerer by nature, so I sort of perversely enjoy it.
Helen: Tell us about a typical day of writing. Do you find it hard to fit it in your daily life?
Adam: I schedule myself a few hours in the morning to write before work. I’m lucky that my job is flexible, so I have a lot of room to get my words in for the day. I don’t write on the weekends or on vacation. Those are times for living and recharging.
Helen: It is nice you can separate the two, sometimes writing can just take over. Do you have a special writing nook which helps the creativity flow?
Adam: I have an office, but I rarely write there. Most of my writing is done at a coffee table in the living room. It’s closest to the tv so I have access to You Tube if music becomes necessary.
Helen: Do you find music helps you write or do you prefer silence?
Adam: I only listen to jazz while I’m writing, if I listen to anything. I prefer the fifties and sixties Blue Note stuff. I love lots of different styles of music but, if there are lyrics, I’ll get pulled into that instead of writing.
Helen: I must admit I have a similar problem, I can’t listen to the radio, because all the talking, the adverts or news are distracting. Most writers read, do you have a favorite book?
Adam: That’s always a tricky question and it changes all the time. Probably the most influential book for me was Flashman by George MacDonald Fraser. It’s still one of my all-time favourites. The novel revolves around Harry Flashman who I would nominate as the top anti-hero in the English language. I was made to read this book as punishment while grounded in ninth grade for throwing a party. The grounding worked out about as well as the “reading as punishment” idea.
Helen: What a great punishment! Having embraced books from an early age, what was the last book you read?
Adam: I’ve been reading Joe Hill lately. I fell in love with his novel, Horns. When I read it, I called a friend and told him I’d run across the next Stephen King which is when he informed me that Joe Hill was King’s son. That apple certainly did not fall far from the tree. His book, 20th Century Ghosts, is on my nightstand right now and has been a lot of fun so far. Also, I’d recommend another book of his short stories called, Strange Weather.
Helen: I didn’t know he was Stephen King’s son either! Who is your favourite author?
Adam: Hunter S. Thompson. Hands down.
Helen: If you didn’t write literary fiction, what genre would you like to try?
Adam: I’d love to take a swing at writing a real horror novel. My novella, SALIGIA, was sort of horror but more dark comedy. I think it would be a real challenge to feel like I broke any new ground in that genre, but if I did, I’d be as pleasantly surprised as anyone.
Helen: I have had such fun chatting with you. It has been great meeting you. As we draw to a close tell us something random about about yourself.
Adam: One of the best jobs I ever had was working as a repairman for Gibson Guitars Warranty Repair Division in Nashville. I did everything from simple adjustments to major restorations. During that time, I restored a Les Paul for myself that was going to be scrapped. Down the road, I had to sell it when I owed money to the IRS. Ten years later, my wife and I located the guitar in South Florida. She managed to talk the gentleman into selling it to her and she gave it back to me as a Christmas present. Needless to say, it’s here to stay.
Helen: What a lovely story. Thank you so much for joining me today. Just to close us out, what is the best piece of writing advice you’ve received and what would say to new writers?
Adam: Elmore Leonard said it best when he said, “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.” Sage words.
My advice would be: Write as often as you can. Read as much as you can. Enjoy the process and don’t get consumed by the tasks of handling all the other bits and pieces of making writing your life. Certainly, all those moving parts and pieces are important, but your main job is to write. Do that with joy and enthusiasm because that’s really the pay off.
About the Author:
Born in 1974, Adam Perry is an American novelist who describes his work as ‘Southern Gonzo Fiction.” He was raised in the rural south and became the first member of his family to graduate from college with a Bachelor’s Degree in History in 1998. While attending college, he worked as a professional musician performing across the Southeast. He moved to Nashville in 2001 where he was a luthier for Gibson Guitars Warranty Repair Division. Since 2010, he has written in his spare time self-publishing the novel, BOXING GORILLAS and a novella entitled, SALIGIA. His latest work, ALL POSSIBLE ORBITS, is set for release on October 4, 2021. He lives in Brandon, Mississippi, with his wife, Rebecca, and can be found most days arguing plot points with his bearded dragon, Gonzo.
Reviewed: June 15th, 2021 Released: March 31st, 2021 Genre: Christian Fiction
After billionaire Henry Woodruff loses several family members in a horrible accident, his grandchildren Rebecca, Noah, and Amber McNeil are now the official heirs. Although they never desired to be put into his will, Henry has every reason to believe that the tragic plane crash was not just an unfortunate accident but a planned murder. Feeling that his children were somehow involved, he has to develop a plan before his grandchildren get murdered. Read More…