Hex Life Edited by Christopher Golden and Rachel Autumn Deering

Autumn is my favorite season. It starts to cool down in the desert and makes me think of past autumns. When I was a kid I dressed up as a witch with the full green face makeup or the horrible plastic mask. I would ride around the house on a fake broom stick. I have a love of witches and everything witchy. So when I saw Hex Life being floated around I had to review it.

Synopsis: An anthology of witchy stories written by women.

What I liked: There were so many different takes on witches! There was a fairytale retelling which I enjoyed immensely and a take on Baba Yaga. I loved them all. I loved reading all the different takes on the witch theme. This is going to be an anthology that are going to be re-reads every year. I have also not read anything by Hillary Monaghan before but her witch story was fantastic. Every story stayed within the theme and were well paced.

What I didn’t like: Nada

Star Rating: 4.5 stars

My thoughts: I am so very very happy that I read this anthology. The stories were wonderful and I found some new authors to read. What makes an anthology really great is the stories within it. This is going to be a yearly re-read for me. So many different takes on witches. I can’t wait for everyone to start reading it!!

Big THANK YOU to Titan Books for a review copy!!!

Blog Tour: Wonderland

Every time I go to the bookstore I always look at the copies of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. I want to buy it for a child and watch them read it. Watch their eyes light up as they read about the March Hare or the Cook that had a pig for a baby. Which, incidentally was the part that scared me the most. I really couldn’t tell you why either. The jabberwolky never scared me…..just the cook and the pig baby. I digress though. I love retellings of many different stories, so when Titan Books asked me if I wanted to participate in the blog tour for Wonderland I jumped at the chance.

Synopsis: Within these pages you’ll find myriad approaches to Alice, from horror to historical, taking us from the nightmarish reaches of the imagination to tales the will shock, surprise and tug on the heart strings.

So, it’s time now to go down the rabbit hole, or through the looking glass or….But no, wait. By picking up this book and starting to read it you’re already there, can’t you see?

Contributing Authors: Jane Yolen, M.R. Carey, Cat Rambo, Angela Slatter, Laura Mauro….and many many others.

Star Rating: 4.5 Stars

My Thoughts: Many of the stories worked really well in the wonderland type back drop. There were a couple that didn’t really work for me. But that didn’t mean that the story was great it just didn’t fit with the others. Saying that all the stories were so well written. The poems by Jane Yolen which opened and closed the anthology were so beautiful. Each story was very different then the other.

If you have an itch to return to Wonderland in a more adult manner then please check out Wonderland it does not disappoint at all. There is something there for each genre.

Make sure you go to the next stop on the blog tour!!

Big Thanks to Titan Books as always for including me in an amazing blog tour.

Blog Tour: The Record Keeper by Agnes Gomillion

I love working with Titan Books. I have been introduced to new authors and so many different stories. Today I am super excited to participate in a blog tour for The Record Keeper by Agnes Gomillion.

Synopsis

After World War iii, Earth is in ruins, and the final armies have come to a reluctant truce. Everyone must obey the law – in every way- or risk shattering the fragile peace and endangering the entire human race.

Although Arika Cobane is a member of the race whose backbreaking labor provides food for the remnants of humanity, she is destined to become a member of the Kongo elite. After ten grueling years of training, she is on the threshold of taking her place of privilege far from the fields. But everything changes when a new student arrives. Hosea Khan spews dangerous words of treason: what does peace matter if innocent lives are lost to maintain it?

As Arika is exposed to new beliefs, she realizes that the laws that she has dedicated herself to uphold are the root of her people’s misery. If Arika is to liberate her people, she must unearth her fierce heart and discover the true meaning of freedom: finding the courage to live – or die -without fear.

About Agnes Gomillion

Agnes Gomillion is a speaker and writer based in Atlanta, Georgia, where she lives with her husband and son. Homegrown in the Sunshine State, Agnes studied English Literature at the University of Florida before transitioning to Levin College of Law, where she earned both a Juris Doctorate and Legal Master degree. Agnes is a voracious reader of the African-American literary canon and a dedicated advocate for marginalized people everywhere.

My Review

What I liked: There is so much to unpack with this story. The story feels very personal. The first thought I had was that this was the history of the US but set in the future. Gomillion’s writing style draws the reader into the story and doesn’t let you go. The feeling of danger through the book was palatable. The characters are third dimensional and well fleshed out. There are parts of the Novel that are hard to read, emtionally. But Gomillion deals with each of these issues in the novel with such grace that the reader is put at ease.

My thoughts: The scene where Arika is being locked away in the pit was so well written. When you are reading you feel the dark and the claustrophobia that Arika must have been feeling at the time. The story was in the vein of The Handmaids Tale. It is one of those stories that are going to stay with me for a while. I want to push this book into everyone’s hand to read.

Next Stop on the Blog Tour

I want to thank Titan for allowing me to participate on the Blog Tour for The Record Keeper. The next stop on the tour is Travel the Shelves and Angry Angel Books.

Blog Tour: The Arrival of Missives By Aliya Whiteley

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Synopsis

The Arrival of Missives is a genre-defying story of fate, free-will and the choices we make in life. In the aftermath of the Great War, Shirley Fearn dreams of challenging the conventions of rural England, where life is as predictable as the changing of the seasons.

The scarred veteran Mr. Tiller, left disfigured by an impossible accident on the battlefields of France, brings with him a message: part prophecy, part warning. Will it prevent her mastering her own destiny?

As the village prepares for the annual May Day celebrations, where a new queen will be crowned and the future will be reborn again, Shirley must choose: change or renewal?

How to Enjoy Writing Historical Fiction

By Aliya Whiteley

I always start writing in the same way. I take up a pen and a sheet of paper, and write until a voice emerges. Then I place that voice in a setting, and start finding out what that new character cares about.

When I found out that the main voice in my novella The Arrival of Missives belonged to a teenage girl who wanted to change the world for the better I liked her straight away, but I was also terrified of the challenge she represented. I usually write contemporary fiction, and she definitely came from a different time. She belonged to a small village in the UK countryside in 1920. It was a time I knew very little about.

Historical fiction can be scary to write. There’s the need to represent the past accurately, in a way that feels truthful and also reflective upon the way we live now. That need to be accurate began to affect my enjoyment in writing the story, until I worked out a few techniques to help me concentrate on the voice and not the setting:

  • Use research to work out what your character knows

There’s no way of getting around research; it has to be done to bring the period you’re writing about to life. But find your character first (this applies particularly to writing in the first person) and then concentrate on how they’ll view the time they live in rather than in trying to formulate every aspect of life back then. People often live in small bubbles of experience; trying to place you reader within that bubble is more rewarding.

  • Don’t stop every time you come across something you don’t know

At first I’d put down the pen and turn to the laptop to search for answers every time I came across a detail that I didn’t know. I’d look for how long sheep slept for, or what version of the Bible would be in the village church. Then I realised that I really didn’t have to know straight away. I started to put a row of crosses whenever I came across a small issue, and that meant the flow of words was no longer broken. At the end of writing my first draft, the crosses were easy to pick out, and it was fun to go back through finding my answers without feeling pulled out of the story.

  • Don’t feel constrained by what others have done

When I decided to write about life in a rural setting in 1920s Britain, I wanted to see how other modern authors had tackled the period. The more I read, the more disheartened I became. How could I ever hope to capture the time in the same way? Then I realised my task wasn’t to capture it in the same way. I needed to portray it in my own way, using my own skills as a writer. Remember your own strengths, and create the setting using those rather than attempting to follow somebody else’s strategy.

There is never only one way to write about the past. It’s filled with so many different voices. I only had to remember what I love about writing to drown out the fears I felt. When I’m caught up in the moment, writing fast to get all my thoughts down, swept up in my character’s voice, I really enjoy my job as a novelist, and through this experience I discovered that there’s no reason why historical fiction can’t be just as exhilarating to write as those stories set in the here and now.

Author Biography

What can I tell you?

WhiteleyI write about all sorts of things but it would be fair to say I’m drawn to the darker side of life.

My favourite writers are a diverse bunch. Graham Greene and Iris Murdoch and George Eliot. Rupert Thomson and Christopher Priest. Octavia Butler, John Wyndham, Ursula Le Guin, Frank Herbert, Dylan Thomas, TS Eliot. My favourite Shakespeare play is King Lear. No, Much Ado About Nothing. It depends if it’s a tragic or a comic day.

I like those moments in stories where you have no idea what’s going to happen next. The moments when genre can’t save you.

 

Next Stop on The Arrival of Missives Blog Tour

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