“Arcana” & “Cold Black Hearts”: Two different flavors of horror

 

I recently had the pleasure of reviewing two horror novels written by this month’s author guests; Arcana, by Paul Kane and Cold Black Hearts, by Jeffrey J. Mariotte. I found it interesting that these two authors chose one or two lines that were so similar to begin these very different horror stories. Both beginnings are designed to grab the reader and reel them in, and in both stories, it worked. The hook was instantly set.

Kane begins Arcana with,

“They were all going to die.

But it was for the cause, and they were not only glad to do it – they felt compelled to do it.”

Mariotte starts Cold Black Hearts like this;

“They were dead, all of them dead, and so was she.”

Both authors bring us into the story in the middle of the action at the point of impending death. We don’t know what is happening yet, but we know the speaker in each case is about to die. How does anyone walk away from that without reading more?

Both Arcana and Cold Black Hearts are horrific stories of evil and death, but they each present horror stories of distinctive and different flavors. Although each presents the battle of good versus evil, the resulting stories are very different, yet each has the ability to captivate their audience and satisfy whatever it is inside of us that makes horror such an appealing genre to us.

Arcana, by Paul Kane takes place in an alternate universe with a future where magick is very real and has survived through the Arcana culture, despite repeated efforts to exterminate them from the planet. It’s a world where torture is still used to extract confessions from those suspected of using the the ancient arts, and Callum McGuire is an orphan who bears a hatred for the magick communities  responsible for the terrorist attack that left him alone, to be raised in an orphanage with a brutal matron. As a young M-forcer, dedicated to stopping Arcana after a recent series of terrorist attacks carried out by the group. The viciousness and brutality against Arcana is broadly directed, and as Callum watches innocent children fall prey to it, his own morality tells him that something isn’t right. When he guesses that his friend and neighbor is secretly Arcana, he is swept into the Arcana culture as he tries to protect her from being apprehended by his fellow M-forcers. This tale is cleverly crafted to let the story unfold in a series of discoveries which lead Callum to think that things are not the way he’d been lead to believe, even as more terrorist attacks take place, and his friends in Aracana try to convince him that he is the savior of their prophecy. Savior or destroyer? The power is in Callum’s hands and only he can decide.

Arcana takes readers on a hero’s journey beyond death and back in a world where anything is possible. That, my friends, can be a very scary journey. I give it five quills.

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In Cold Black Hearts, by Jeffrey J. Mariotte, evil stirs the ancient legends into reality. When Annie O’Brian is caught in a bust gone bad and the resulting explosion, she loses both her hearing and her job, but she gains an uncanny sense of empathy for the people around her. So, there’s nothing to stop her from taking a job investigating a four year old murder where the original investigation was botched, and working to free the convicted man, even though he gives her the creeps and is probably guilty of numerous crimes, if not this one. Her investigation uncovers not only the evidence needed to free Johnny Ortega from prison, but also evidence that there is something much more sinister going on in Hildalgo County than a simple cover-up, but when Annie manages to put all the pieces together and tries to stop the return of an ancient demon, it could cost her her life, or worse.

Filled with sacrifice and betrayal, Cold Black Hearts will chill you to the core of your soul. Lots of unexpected twists and turns to this story. I give it four quills.

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Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.

 


“Shadow Blade”: A high fantasy novel of intrigue and mystery

Shadow Blade

Spies and assassins, deception, adventure, magic – Shadow Blade, by Chris Barili has it all. With an intriguing story line that keeps readers guessing, with twists and turns around every corner, this story is everything a fantasy adventure should be. In the tradition of high fantasy, Barili has created a rich medieval style world of kings and castles, princesses and assassins, where magic is addictive and nothing is as it seems.

When a Denari Lai assassin falls in love with his target, it’s pretty certain that things are going to get complicated. Throw a second assassin into the mix and it’s near certain that there will be trouble and things may not end well. As you get to know Ashai, the Denari Lai assassin whose heart may be bigger than his training, and Princess Makari, whose kindness has earned the adoration and respect of an entire kingdom, you’ll find that you can’t help but root for them both to triumph against all odds.

Ashai didn’t intend to fall in love with Makari, but when he does it proves to be quite a dilemma. His love for her goes against everything he’s been taught, causing him to question his training. When a Denari Lai is set on a target, he stops at nothing to accomplish the sanction, but in a sudden turn of the tables, Ashai will now stop at nothing to prevent it. In his quest to save the woman who now haunts his dreams, he becomes a target. He doesn’t know who to trust, but he finds allies in some unsuspected places, enemies lurking in the shadows, and a surprise around every corner. He’ll do anything to keep Makari safe, even forfeiting the very magic that he draws his strength from and risking his very existence.

Chris Barili has crafted a delightful fantasy adventure in Shadow Blade. It has a well- developed fantasy world, with unique and memorable characters that will stay with you. You won’t want to put it down. I give it five quills.

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Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.


Writing for a YA Audience: Interview with FANYA’S illustrator.

Writing for a Y.A. Audience

Every book is a collaboration. I work with editors, cover artists, and the publishers in so many ways behind the scenes.  A few years ago, I got to collaborate in a different way.  This time it was with a local illustrator, Aaron Siddall.  He had an idea for a YA steampunk story.  He would illustrate it and I would write it.  We created a world of magic and mysterious creatures, and the book was released on November 14, 2018 from CHBB Publishing.  *Hold for applause, wink wink.*

Fanya - cover

I would like to introduce Aaron Siddall to all of you. We met years ago when I joined the Utica Writers Club.

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JE: When did you join the Utica Writers Club?  What do you like most about it?

AS:  The Utica Writers Club and I came together in 2010. I do write and occasionally read from things that I am working on, but I mostly attend for the creative energy. That and I find that writers make for excellent friends.

JE: How long have you been an illustrator?

AS: I’ve had a passion for art all of my life, but I had my first professional experience as an illustrator in 2001 working for Kenzer & Company and White Wolf Studios, both as a freelancer.

JE: What are some of the projects you’ve illustrated?

AS: Its hard to narrow down to favorites. But several stand out, such as; High Towers and Strong Places: A Political History of Middle Earth by Tim Furnish and published by Oloris Publishing.  How Robin Hood Became an Outlaw by Learning A-Z. Ravenloft Denizens of Darkness by White Wolf Studios.

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JE: How did you come up with the idea for FANYA?

AS:  In a discussion concerning Steampunk and Fairy tales that I was involved with, I compared elements from both in relation to our world in the late 1800s (the Victorian era). In doing so, Russia and Alaska at the time were in the midst of tumultuous times, as there are many marvelous Russian Fairy Tales and the legends of the First Nations have many similar legends, these elements came together naturally in my mind.

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JE: How did you come up with the title?

AS: Fanya is a name that shows up in both Russian and Inuit and Aleut peoples.

JE: What do you hope people take away from FANYA IN THE UNDERWORLD?

AS: Overall, I hope that people enjoy the action and magic of the setting. There is a great deal to think on and enjoy.

JE: What is your favorite illustration from the book?

AS: The one of Mr. Beisy on the doorstep in chapter two.

We hope you enjoy reading FANYA IN THE UNDERWORLD.  Reviews and emails are always appreciated.  If you love the artwork as much as I do, merchandise is available here.

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Artemis: From Vigilanty Diety to Superhero

Artemis

 

One town, two killers and the body count is rising.  Artemis, by Chris Snider is the tale of how freak set of circumstances turned an ordinary scientist on the brink of death into something no longer human. With superhuman powers, including the ability to command animals, Joseph Art becomes Artemis, defender of animals and the innocent or vulnerable. The police don’t know whether they should string him up as a vigilante, or pin a medal on him. After he comes face to face with the evil clown axe murderer, the stakes are raised and the hunt becomes personal, and no one knows what will happen when the two killers confront one another a final time.

The individual storylines are skillfully woven into a single plotline and action filled climax. I give Artemis four quills.

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Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.


Interview with author Ashley Scott

Ashley Scott

I always love to do interviews with new authors, because they get so excited. The first interview I ever did, with Dan Alatore, I was riding on the top of the world. For me, it signified that this was it and I was really a published author. Today we have an up and coming author with us, Ashley Scott, whose debute novel is a dark fantasy action thriller, Demon Anarchy. She’s here today to tell us about her book and a little about herself, as well.

Kaye: Would you share the story of your own publishing journey?

Ashley: My publishing story began with a manuscript of course. Once completed, my beta readers tore it apart piece by piece. I had to make changes before daring to pass it along to my editor, who also helped strengthen my story, Demon Anarchy, before deciding where to publish. Should I publish through a house or self publish through a website? After doing some research I decided to self publish through Amazon with assistance of a few friends who have done this process before. I love how simple it was however my next goal is to publish a book through a publishing house.

Kaye: Are you a plotter or a pantser? Why?

Ashley: I guess you could say a little bit of both. If I plot out my story chapter by chapter (I’ve tried this method before and it took me weeks, I finally accomplished beginning to end and threw all my notes out because I grew bored of the story). This proved to me I required some mystery involved in plotting my stories. So now I write very minimal notes and type what comes to mind. I believe some plotting is good to keep the flow of your story and to keep your readers interested.

Kaye: What is the one thing in your writing career that is the most unusual or unique thing you’ve done so far?

Ashley: Um….how about try ‘too hard’? If that’s a thing? I used to get up in the early hours of dawn to type a page or two before going to college or going to work. I also used to trial so many different methods of plotting and note taking it drove me insane! So I settled for what currently works and blocked out a reasonable amount of time during the day to type.

Kaye: Would you like to talk a little about your blog or website?

Ashley: Currently, I don’t have a blog. I only have a website where you can find a buy link to my book Demon Anarchy along with my contact information and monthly author interviews I post to help authors succeed at reaching out to their audiences.

Kaye: What was the most fun interview you’ve ever done? Why?

Ashley: I’ve only completed a few author interviews so far, I think all of them are fun to do in a way.

Kaye: Would you like to tell us a little about Demon Anarchy?

Ashley: Would I ever! It’s not only a page flipper flooded with action including explosive weaponry, but also combined with entrancing romantic encounters and a twisted plot line. It opens to New York City, the big apple, where the reader discovers demons lurching in the shadows of the city living off the blood of humans. Only agents know of their existence, the rest are left blind to the war about to appear within the allies and streets.

Time isn’t on their side when the agents discover the leader of the demons appear and wreak havoc among the city by rallying the numbers, creating Demon Anarchy.

Demon Anarchy

Kaye: If Demon Anarchy was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?

Ashley: I keep jumping between two main characters. Alice, an agent trained to kill demons, and Damien a half demon who feels trapped between the human the demon world. Damien would be my first choice, Mr. Bad Apple and won’t take a no for an answer, however Alice whose stubborn and strong willed personality takes a close second. I would cast Milla Jovovich as Alice, and Christian Bale as Damien.

Kaye: It seems that you travel quite a bit. Have any of the places you’ve traveled ended up in your books? Which ones?

Ashley: I love to travel, which is why I’ve traveled different parts of the world with my husband. Yes, I’ve traveled to New York City which is the setting for my story Demon Anarchy as portrayed with descriptions of alleyways during rainy nights and the busy crowded streets filled with people during the day. I always thought the big apple would be the perfect location for demons lurking in the shadows.

Kaye: What is the strangest inspiration for a story you’ve ever had?

Ashley: Not sure….there has been so many random moments where all I have to do is listen to the right music or see something that sparks my imagination and my thoughts go wild.

Kaye: What can you tell us about what’s in store for your readers? Any WIPs you’d like talk about?

Ashley: I’m currently 22 weeks pregnant and am due in November, so my writing has slowed down a bit. But I’m still hammering away at the first book of a trilogy consisting of young women who revolutionize their kingdom in the early 1800’s. The book I’m currently typing is about a young woman who fights against the world of men to become the first female professor in her kingdom by entering the king’s challenge, a challenge of the mind proven to pluck out the smartest individual in Cirus whose worthy enough to tutor the future heir to the throne. However within time the plot could change a little depending on my mood/interest, but this is the strongest plot I’m currently focusing a lot of my time and effort on.

Kaye: Describe yourself in three words.

Ashley: Friendly. Gregarious. Social.

Kaye: Your introduction on your Facebook page says, “Multi-tasking is my talent”. Besides writing, what are your other talents?

Ashley: Playing tennis, editing manuscripts, and developing exercise programs for the elderly.

I want to thank Ashley Scottt for joining us today. I hope you had as much fun answering the questions as I did asking them. For those of you who would like to learn more about Ashley Scott and her writing, you can drop by any of the links below.
Links:
Author Website: www.authorashleylscott.wordpress.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ashley.scott.author
Twitter: https://twitter.com/authorashscott
Amazon Author Website: https://www.amazon.com/default/e/B01M0KUCO5/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1?redirectedFromKindleDbs=true
Book Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/Demon-Anarchy-Ashley-Scott-ebook/dp/B01LXLWA6I/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1531256826&sr=8-1&keywords=Demon+Anarchy
Google+ : https://plus.google.com/u/1/115295645549324942619
Ashley Scott Banner

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If you’re an author and you’d like to be interviewed on Writing to be Read, email Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com and put Interview Request in the subject line.


Our New World: An enigma filled with paradox

Our New World

Our New World, by Desiree King is the story of a diverse world united at last. Human, Vampire, Magi, Shapeshifters and Fae are all able to dwell in harmony at last, and Sidney and Darien the Dark Prince are both anticipating comeing into their own. But the laws of this new world require they must be wed to assume their rightful places, and they forbid them to marry one another. This is a problem because these two childhood sweethearts are all grown up and hopelessly in love. All the odds are against their ever being together, but Darien has a plan and Sidney is determined, and love conquers all.

The title causes a problem in logic because the characters are calling this “our new world”, but Sidney and Darien share a birthdate, and are both just coming of age, and it seems this new world structure has been in place for much longer than their brief lifespans to date. For me, it seems as if the characters would not be looking at this as their new world, but as the only world they have ever known.

Also my suspension of disbelief could have used more sensory details, to make me smell, hear and feel this world that the author has plunged me into.  In spite of the fact that the characters felt stereotyped and lacked depth, I liked them and found myself anticipating when I would be able to learn what happened next.

Also, I didn’t realize until late in the story who the antagonist was. We don’t see how really bad he is until well into the story, so appears as more of an obstacle to be overcome, rather than an adversary, right up until the scene where Henry punishes Sidney because his previous punishments have had no effect and it ticks him off. Only then, are we allowed a glimpse of his cold cruelty, and I have to say, the realization was a shock.

My biggest problem with this story was the fact that although the protagonist is reputed to be a deadly combat fighter and carries the blood lines of not only magi, but a powerful fire fae, it seems someone else is always coming to her rescue, either Darien the Dark Prince, or her bff and P.A., or her Fae grandfather, Eldon. I had difficulty buying into the idea that this spoiled little rich girl with status, was ready to step up and take a council seat or run her city, when she continuously put her own selfish desires ahead of what was best for her city or their new world. Oh, they talked about the possible consequences, but then she presses forward and does as she pleases without a second thought.

Despite this story’s many problems, I found the storyline to be one which held my interest and I found myself wanting to know what happens next. And after all, that’s what is important, isn’t it? I give Our New World three quills.

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“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”: A Different Sort of Movie

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Although the Harry Potter movies were geared toward a young audience, adults enjoyed them as well. But as Harry Potter grew older throughout the series, so did the main viewers. The 2016 Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them expands J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World for an older audience, leaving Harry and his friends waiting in the England of the future. Even if you haven’t seen any of the Harry Potter movies, you can easily follow the events of this movie, as it easily stands on its own merit.

The creatures in this movie are fantastic example of creativity, and the imaging is awesome. The story is crafted in a way that draws you into the story subtly. You’re so involved with the fish out of water story of Newt Scamander and his suitcase full of marvelous creatures in 1926 New York, that the A story line almost escapes notice in the background until Newt solves the mystery of what kind of beast is terrorizing the city.

I found Fantasic Beasts and Where to Find Them to be thoroughly entertaining; a fresh take on a fascinating and beloved world. I give it four quills.

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