Dive in Review: A Matter of Blood

So about two blog posts ago I hosted a cover reveal for a new Steampunk book titled A matter of Blood from Author Lauren H. Salisbury. You can find that cover reveal here.

Here the back cover to remind you what it’s about:

In a city where debts are paid in blood, it takes more than courage to survive.

All his life, Jake Amarel’s talent for mechanical invention has been overshadowed by his family’s ability to control matter with their minds. After an argument with his father compels him to leave for the capital, Jake’s dream of becoming an inventor is finally within reach. But as he’s swept along on a whirlwind of high living and technological marvels, Jake unwittingly enters the city’s darker side, where the slightest misstep could put more than his own life in peril.

Nathan Amarel has the peaceful life he always wanted—working the land on his family’s estate far from the evils they left behind in the capital. But when Jake leaves for the city, Nathan must decide how far he is willing to go to protect the brother he loves.

My review of A Matter of Blood:

On the surface, A Matter of Blood by Lauren H. Salisbury is a steampunk retelling of the parable of the Prodigal Son. But once you start reading it you soon realize that the prodigal son was only a frame work. The real story has much more meat to it.

Jake Amarel is the protagonist and titular prodigal. He leaves home taking his entire inheritance with him only to … well you either know this story or you don’t. This novel goes farther than the short Biblical account. Jake is a much more fleshed out character and his mistakes are much more relatable. His problems are also much worse than too much partying with fake friends.

This is where this novel really stands out. Not in how it retells a well known story but in how it twists the well known story into something deeper and even more meaningful. I admit I did not see that ending coming.

The setting of this story is also more than it’s surface level Steampunkness might imply. Right in the first chapter we are introduced to creatures that are not horses and flying things that are not birds and you realize that this not Earth. Steampunk is after all a subgenre of sci-fi so it fits. But this addition makes it not just an interesting steampunk world (complete with an in-world explanation for why everyone is wearing goggles) but an interesting world in general with so much more to explore and see. I would enjoy reading more in this story world even if it follows different characters.

*I received an advanced copy of this book for the purpose of review. The opinions in this review are my own and are given here willingly and honestly.* 

A matter of blood is available now: https://books2read.com/u/38y1jw

Make sure to follow the Author on Social Media!

Lauren’s handles:

Facebook – @gillascourage

Instagram – @laurenhsalisbury

Reader Nominated Award

Are you tired of looking at lists of award winning books that you haven’t and don’t plan on reading? Well never fear the Realm Awards Readers choice contest is here to save the day.

From April 2nd-23rd (I know I’m so late telling you about this) any reader can nominate books that they feel deserve the award.

There are some stipulations though: You may nominate up to three different books for the Realm Award Readers’ Choice Contest. To qualify, books must be:

  • Speculative in genre (Fantasy, Science Fiction, Horror, or any of their related sub-genres)
  • Written by a professed Christian author
  • Published between January 1, 2021 and December 31, 2021
  • The first instance of publication of the work (no new editions, subsequent printings under a new imprint, etc.)
  • Novel length
  • A single work (no anthologies, collections, or compilations)
  • Written for middle grade, young adult, or adult audiences.

You’ll need the complete and accurate book title and author’s name for each entry as they appear on Amazon.

All these books written by my D&D party qualify!

It just so happens that my novel Runaway Lyrics qualifies.

I would be super honored if you would consider nominating my book but I understand if you have other books that you love more. Seriously, choosing only three book is very hard.

To avoid swaying you I won’t tell you which three I nominated. (No I did not nominate my own book even though there doesn’t seem to be a rule against it.)

All of the Frosted Roses novels qualify except The Bear which is too short.

Here are a dozen books that I loved from last year that qualify for the award (the three I nominated are on here somewhere):

Power Play by H.L. Burke

Secrets in the Mist by Morgan Busse

Shadow by Kara Swanson

Amok by Anna Tan

In Real Life by Elisabeth Warner.

A Castle Contended by Sharon Rose

The Fey of castle Garden by Naomi P Cohen.

Discernment by Lauren Salisbury

Wishing Against the House (Steel City genie book 3) by Janeen Ippolito

Gilded in Ice by Sarah Pennington

Traitor by Laurie Lucking

Silence the Siren by Michele Israel Harper

Don’t forget about Runaway Lyrics!

These books from members of my critique group qualify as well.

Are any of these books your favorites?

Which three will nominate?

Nominate now before time runs out!

Cover Reveal: A Matter of Blood

Today I’ve got an amazing cover reveal for you. It’s very intriguing, visually interesting, steampunk and it’s written by an author I have come to expect great stories from.

Cover design: Miblart at https://miblart.com

About the book:

In a city where debts are paid in blood, it takes more than courage to survive.

All his life, Jake Amarel’s talent for mechanical invention has been overshadowed by his family’s ability to control matter with their minds. After an argument with his father compels him to leave for the capital, Jake’s dream of becoming an inventor is finally within reach. But as he’s swept along on a whirlwind of high living and technological marvels, Jake unwittingly enters the city’s darker side, where the slightest misstep could put more than his own life in peril.

Nathan Amarel has the peaceful life he always wanted—working the land on his family’s estate far from the evils they left behind in the capital. But when Jake leaves for the city, Nathan must decide how far he is willing to go to protect the brother he loves.

Release date: 19th April

Pre-order link: https://books2read.com/u/38y1jw

Lauren’s handles:

Facebook – @gillascourage

Instagram – @laurenhsalisbury

Cover Reveal: Fire that Unites

Author Janeen Ippolito has a new novel coming soon in her ever expanding Steel City Genie Universe. This one is a direct sequel to Cut to the Heart and is the second book in the Arcane Market series branch.

__

All Josie wants is to keep the man she loves safe. And stop the truth-knife from stabbing her soul.

Neither of these goals is happening.

After a harrowing escape from fire dragons, Josie ends up making a deal with the one man she shouldn’t—her ice dragon ex, Rafe. He’s willing to protect Oliver and her if she helps him stop the horrors of the Arcane Market. And she has to put up with his not-so-secret desire to win her back.

On top of that, her truth-knife has decided to turn on her. Suddenly every lie Josie speaks inflicts searing pain on her heart. How’s a woman supposed to guard her rogue fire elemental mate without lying?

Especially when he keeps getting beat up just for existing.

Caught between her icy-hot ex, her irrepressible mate, and the agony of her blade, Josie’s ready to do the one thing she can’t.

Even if it costs her safety.
And her life.

Buy now
 and enjoy a humorous paranormal romance with a side of action and twisty plot. Features a sensible firebird shifter with a feisty side, a rascally fire elemental with a tragic side, and an ice dragon who hoards antiques. Clean PG-13 – there’s heat, danger, and fighting, but nothing graphic.
___

Here are the preorder links for Fire That Unites:
Kindle – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09R8QLXL3
Autographed Paperback Preorder – https://jihelp.thrivecart.com/fire-that-unites-paperback/

ALSO – the ebooks of Cut to the Heart and Fire That Unites will be on 99 cent sale from March 11-14

Valentine’s day surprise!

Happy Valentine’s day! As a single person I don’t usually go all in on celebrating Valentine’s day. But this year I have a book with a very minor romantic thread in it, so I thought I could share that with you.

For today and tomorrow (February 14th and 15th 2022) Runaway Lyrics eBook will be free on Amazon. So feel free to snap one up if you haven’t already. If you have a copy already will you consider sharing this deal with your book loving friends. (I’m hoping to get a flag on Amazon.)

Runaway Lyrics was nominated for the Fellowship of Fantasy Indie book club group on Facebook. My takeover event is today (2/14/22) and you can join now to check it out.

I also made a fun Character Quiz for you.

Click the button to learn which Runaway Lyrics character is most like you.

Mask of Scarlet: Cover Reveal and Sales

I know what you’re thinking. “Cathrine you just did a cover reveal yesterday!” I did. that is very true. But this is for a different book. And I have sales for you so it’s really for the best if you want cheap and or free books.

You remember in September when I released a book with five other authors? Sarah Pennington was one of those authors and she is getting ready to release a sequel to her Frosted Roses book. I’m so excited for this book. That’s why I had to help with the cover reveal today.

Mask of Scarlet is the third book in the Bastian Dennel PI mystery series. It’s a 1920’s mystery set in a fantasy version of New York. There’s magic, mystery, and each book is a cleverly disguised fairy tale retelling. This one is Cinderella.

Book Description:

Mask of Scarlet

Bastian Dennel, PI #3

Bastian Dennel is a detective, not a matchmaker.

But he’s also not one to turn down easy mazuma. So when one of Innsjøby’s richest young sheiks hires him to find his so-called true love — a girl he’s met only once at a masked party — Bastian is on the case. After his last few high-risk adventures, he’s ready for a job where the hardest part will be collecting his payment. Sure, all he has to go on is a guest list and a description . . . but how hard can it be?

Of course, easy money always has a catch, and what should’ve been a simple search turns out to be anything but. Everyone seems to have their own opinion on who this mystery girl should be, whether or not it matches reality, and even the Families are getting involved. To make matters worse, Dayo is acting cagey, and Bastian doesn’t know why.

Bastian’s business is the truth. But what can he do when everyone around him has already decided what they want the truth to be? Find out in this Jazz-Age take on “Cinderella,” book three of the Bastian Dennel, PI mysteries!

Releases April 29th

Pre-order Link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09RQFLHCM

Add Book on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/60307521-mask-of-scarlet

Author Bio:

Sarah Pennington has been writing stories since before she actually knew how to write, and she has no intention of stopping anytime soon. She is perpetually in the middle of writing at least one or two novels, most of which are in the fantasy and fairy tale retelling genres. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys knitting, photography, and trying to conquer her massive to-be-read list.

Find her online at: Author Site || WordPress Blog || Blogspot Blog || Goodreads || Facebook || Amazon

To celebrate the third book going live for pre-order Sarah is offering the first two books for 99 cents each. Now is your chance to get caught up on this delightful series before the next book drops in April. But the sale is only for two days so don’t delay!

Find the rest of the series: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09869T5NJ

But that’s not all…

Kendra E Ardnek is also running a sale. Her birthday is this month so she’s running a free promotion on many of her titles. But you should hurry, The sale ends today.

You can find all of her books here and then scan the selection for the free ones: https://www.amazon.com/Kendra-E.-Ardnek/e/B005GGULBQ

Mark your calendar for the end of April when The Scarlet mask releases as part of the Three Midnight Curfews collection. Three retellings of Cinderella.

Crown and Cinder: Pride and Prejudice derails Cinderella (The Austen Fairy Tales Book 2) by Kendra E. Ardnek.

It is a fact universally acknowledged that a girl, in possession of stepmother and stepsisters, must be in want of a fairy godmother to come whisk her away to some ball, where she might fall in love with a prince and live happily ever after…

Lizzy hates facts universally acknowledged.

Release date April 27th 2022

Pre-order link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09B4DG79B

Cindy Ellen: A Western Cinderella (Wunstuponia #3) by Rachel Roden.

Once upon a time, way out west…

Cindy Ellen runs the local store, selling supplies to foresters, ranchers, and prospectors while her stepmother gives her neverending orders and spoils her stepsisters. She can’t do anything right, even as she’s the only one doing anything. Can one ball change her life forever? Perhaps not, but at least it might give her one night of freedom.

Release date April 28th 2022

Pre-order link: https://www.amazon.com/Cindy-Ellen-Western-Cinderella-Wunstuponia-ebook/dp/B099BC33F3

The Scarlet Mask (Bastian Dennel, PI Book 3) by Sarah Pennington

Bastian’s business is the truth. But what can he do when everyone around him has already decided what they want the truth to be? Find out in this Jazz-Age take on “Cinderella,” book three of the Bastian Dennel, PI mysteries!

Release date April 29th 2022

Preorder here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09RQFLHCM

A Super cover for a Super new book!

If you’ve been reading this blog for a couple years then you know that I am a huge fan of H.L. Burke’s Superheroes series. The newest installment is getting a cover today. This is actually the third boo in her YA spinoff series.

This novel is one I’m very hyped for. Marco is one of my favorite characters in the YA series, because he is an adorkable floof who just wants to do the right thing. He is my innocent little Marco-mallow and he looks so bad-ass on this cover. I am so worried about what this mean author is going to put him through.

When family’s involved, the line between hero and villain can get blurry.

15-year-old Marco Reyes has spent a year at a camp for at-risk superpowered teens, learning to control his fire throwing abilities in hopes of being a superhero someday. With his powers mastered, he wants nothing more than to return to his mother. His mother, though, may not be ready to care for him.

When Marco’s Mom blows off their meeting in San Diego, Marco’s guardians take it as a sign the woman isn’t responsible enough to care for her superpowered son. Marco, though, knows that this time something’s different from his mother’s other absences. He’s convinced someone’s taken her.

Slipping away from the safety of his camp family, Marco follows a clue that leads to a supervillain recruiting agency and allies with a supervillain who is after the same agency for her own reasons. Marco’s camp friends are on his trail, but will he find his mom before they bring him in? Or is his mother simply a pawn in a much deadlier scheme?

To celebrate the pre-order and cover reveal of book 3 in the Supervillain Rescue Project YA Superhero series, book 1 is free, book 2 is 99c, and for a limited time you can pre-order book 3 for 99c as well! Promotion ends February 12th, so act soon!

A character driven series filled with action, found family, and superpowered adventure!

Book 1 (free 2/8-12)

Power On

Jake’s family ties have turned to cuffs.

Born with the ability to fragment his body at a molecular level, Jake Lucas has devoted his life to his uncle’s supervillain gang. When he’s captured by superheroes, he’s certain his life is over at only sixteen.

To Jake’s surprise, he doesn’t end up in prison but at Camp Sable: an intervention project for at-risk super powered teens. Jake’s not interested in rehabilitation. As far as he’s concerned, the camp mentors are just a barrier between him and his true family, the Sand Fox gang.

Forced to work alongside the likewise screwed up duo of fire-powered Marco and electricity manipulator Laleh, Jake waits for the perfect escape opportunity. Having friends and the chance at a real family is more appealing than Jake originally thought, but going soft can cost a supervillain his life. Jake soon finds the forces fighting to control his life threatening to tear him apart.

Will Jake choose to remain the villain his uncle made him, or become the hero his new friends think he can be?

A Young Adult Superhero series featuring found family, friendship, and one superpowered ferret.

Book 2 (99c 2/8-15)

Power Play

It’s dangerous to go alone. Even for superheroes.

Laleh Ashe has found her first real friends at Camp Sable, a refuge for at-risk superpowered teens, but her politically ambitious mother has other plans. Mrs. Ashe is determined to send Laleh to a fancy, overseas boarding school—far from her friends and the life she’s come to love. To drown her sorrows, Laleh agrees to a table top role playing game with her friends, Marco and Jake, as well as the new girl at camp—shy, withdrawn Rian. Too bad no one warned her about Rian’s reality bending superpowers.

Sucked into a fantasy world created by Rian’s imagination, Laleh and her friends must scramble to master their magical new surroundings and complete their quest if they are to have any hope of getting home again.

This magical world is less fun than it sounds, but as Laleh and her friends face the various challenges, Laleh can’t help but remember that all that waits for her in the real world is separation from her friends and a life under the thumb of her overbearing mom. Maybe going home is seriously overrated.

Superheroes meet Portal Fantasy in this second book of the Supervillain Rescue Project Young Adult Series.

Book 3 (99c pre-order)

Power Through

When family’s involved, the line between hero and villain can get blurry.

15-year-old Marco Reyes has spent a year at a camp for at-risk superpowered teens, learning to control his fire throwing abilities in hopes of being a superhero someday. With his powers mastered, he wants nothing more than to return to his mother. His mother, though, may not be ready to care for him.

When Marco’s Mom blows off their meeting in San Diego, Marco’s guardians take it as a sign the woman isn’t responsible enough to care for her superpowered son. Marco, though, knows that this time something’s different from his mother’s other absences. He’s convinced someone’s taken her.

Slipping away from the safety of his camp family, Marco follows a clue that leads to a supervillain recruiting agency and allies with a supervillain who is after the same agency for her own reasons. Marco’s camp friends are on his trail, but will he find his mom before they bring him in? Or is his mother simply a pawn in a much deadlier scheme?

Quest: an Audiobook Review

Hello and Happy New Year. I know it’s pretty late to be doing the first post of the year. Is it really almost February? But I needed a serious break from everything. I also had some cleaning up to do on my manuscript. (Don’t get excited. It’s not the sequel.) A couple trusted friends helped me get my commas in the right places so Runaway Lyrics would read better. There’s a couple good reasons why it needs to read better. Hopefully I can share good news about both of the reasons soon.

With so much going on I haven’t had much time for reading—at least not typed books. I can always find time for audiobooks.

Sylvalla escapes Avondale castle and the life of a princess, in search of the adventure she’s always wanted.
Once found, adventure bites back.

Fortunately, she’s not alone. Unfortunately, her new-found companions are less than heroic. Jonathan, would rather make money than learn wizardry. Dirk, would rather live a long and happy life than confront danger. And at 150, old Capro would rather stop gallivanting, and harangue unsuspecting wizardry students about his glory days over a nice cup of tea.
Quest has everything, heroes, monsters, chases, escapes and a complete lack of true love.

A celebration of adventure fantasy, Quest is a quirky and original fantasy from award winning and USA Today Bestselling author, A.J. Ponder on behalf of Wizardly historian, F Fraderghast. Become a student of magic today, and discover the true fighter, warrior, and most unprincesslike Princess Sylvalla, as she battles for her place as a hero.

Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

Audiobook Review of Quest: book one in the Sylvalla Chronicles

*review of audiobook edition*

Quest is a fun little side quest of a read that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

It has jokes sprinkled throughout by a Douglas Adams style narrator, character intro’s that read like D&D character sheet summaries, with gimmicks that could have carried the novel if they had to.

Quest is a fun read is you are just looking for surface level adventure and humorous antics. The story does get a little serious towards the end, which I fear may be setting the tone for future installments.

The Characters are all likeable enough and each has their own thing that draws you too them.

There is a wizard named Goodfellow who is trying desperately to reconnect with his adult son, Johnathan. These two are the characters that I connected with most. I felt like their plot thread was never fully developed to it’s fullest potential. There was an opportunity for some real deep feels here.

The rest of the characters felt like stereotypes of D&D classes. I suspect this book may be a novelized D&D campaign—or several. Like a Dungeon Master was trying to bring several campaigns together in one story.


Which brings me to this book’s one major flaw.

There are too many characters. They are not together as a party either. They are separate and seemingly unrelated to each other. The constant jumping from one character to the next makes it hard to care about any of them and also keeps them from developing.

The narrator Benjamin Fife was amazing as he always is. He handled the large cast of characters the only way he could, by giving each one a different voice. He even reads subtext and emotion into the really underdeveloped relationship between Johnathan Goodfellow and his father.

If you do pick up this book, I really hope you choose the audio version.

Will I continue this series? Yes, but mostly likely not until they release on audio. I like to complete series in the same format I start them in. I certainly hope Benjamin Fife returns for the next two books.

*Thank you to Story Origin and the author for providing me with a free reviewer code. This review is my own honest opinion.* 

Quest is available in ebook, paperback, and in audio formats from multiple retailers. As of this writing you can get the ebook for only 99cents.

A.J. Ponder

“Writing is about fun. Reading doubly so.”

USA Today bestselling author, and winner of the Wright-Murray Residency 2021, A.J. Ponder (BSc, Dip Teach) is the author of numerous novels and short stories including the award winning Frankie and the Netball Clone, Dying for the Record, The Sylvalla Chronicles, Wizard’s Guide to Wellington and more.

A.J. lives in a hundred year old house overlooking Wellington harbour with three cats and a family all obsessed with games, books and dungeons and dragons. A.J. has a head full of monsters, and recklessly spills them onto the written page. Beware dragons, dreadbeasts, taniwha, and small children—all are equally dangerous, and capable of treading on your heart—or tearing it, still beating, from your chest.

Christmas Stories and a Card

Merry Christmas! I am so thankful that you chose to visit my little blog in the midst of your holiday preparations.

I love Christmas stories!

Don’t you?

Christmas is such a magical time of the year that any story set during Christmas instantly takes on this warm and fuzzy feeling of nostalgia and magic.

From the original Christmas when a God came to live as a lowly creation, to the story of a miser who’s heart was changed by spirits in one night, Christmas stories are ultimately about how to live everyday of the year.

If you are looking for a good seasonal story and will give you all the Christmas feels then check out this Fellowship of Fantasy blog post to read more about each book and find links to where you can buy them. 

I’ve personally read at least half of these books and can promise you that they are amazing and full of holiday cheer. 

Oh yeah, and one of them is mine.

My Christmas Card

This year I wanted to do something special for my Christmas cards.

I knew I wanted a music theme and I knew I wanted them to have a steampunk look. 

I looked everywhere and I couldn’t find a card I liked.

Suddenly, it hit me. Why not just design my own? So I did. The result is the Christmas card you see below. It is very Christmas and very Steampunk.

The card front says: 
May music show you the magic of the season. 
The image is the girl from my cover art, holding her violin, surrounded by a holly wreath on a background of blue gears.
The back says: 
As the Lyrics tell you of the reason. 
Warmest Wishes and Happy Holidays.
C.O. Bonham. 
(Only instead of a signature I put my author logo there.)

I also need to tell you about an anthology that I am in. It’s called Hope and Renewal 2021. It’s another one of the Challenge anthology from author Michelle Francik. It’s super short, mostly poetry, but it’s priced pretty reasonably and it does have a short story from me it. My story is titled Birth and it’s my attempt to figure out why people would even want to be born.

My story is first so honestly you can cheat and just read it in the free sample.

Also with al this talk of Christmas stories I want to leave you with a wonderful song that I love so much for the story that it tells. It’s a little sad but also upbeat. Listen at your own risk.

Uprooted Cover Reveal

It’s time for another cover reveal. This time it’s for a new YA fantasy series from author Kandi J. Wyatt. Keep reading to the end for news about a special pre order offer from the author.

Sold as a slave, and uprooted from home, 18-year-old Hest must decide where his loyalties lie or risk losing his new friends.


At peace in the stable, Hest cares for the visitors to Stad while spinning tales of adventure for the innkeeper’s son. But when a foreign warrior purchases him as a slave, he must decide if he’s willing to live the adventures he’s told.


With his new country under attack from an old enemy, Hest must learn to fight or lose his life in battle. While recuperating from injuries, he overhears a plot of treason. Choosing where his loyalties lie will seal his fate and that of a kingdom.


Hest’s already lost one family. He’ll do anything to keep his new one—even ride out to battle and most-certain death.


Uprooted is the first book in the coming-of-age fantasy series, The Sovereigns. If you like action, rounded character development, and dragons, you’ll love Kandi J Wyatt’s book.

Journey to a new world and start reading Uprooted today!

Author bio:

Even as a young girl, Kandi J Wyatt, had a knack for words. She loved to read them, even if it was on a shampoo bottle! By high school Kandi had learned to put words together on paper to create stories for those she loved. Nowadays, she writes for her kids, whether that’s her own five or the hundreds of students she’s been lucky to teach. When Kandi’s not spinning words to create stories, she’s using them to teach students about Spanish, life, and leadership.

Where to find her:

Website: http://kandijwyatt.com/
Facebook: http://facebook.com/kandijwyatt/

Instagram: http://instagram.com/kandijwyatt/

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/kandijwyatt

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13817774.Kandi_J_Wyatt

Bookbub: https://bookbub.com/profile/kandi-j-wyatt

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Kandi-J-Wyatt/e/B00ZTC4T10/

Newsletter sign up: https://www.subscribepage.com/kandijwyatt

Twitter: http://twitter.com/kandijwyatt

Pre-order link: https://books2read.com/u/3R6BDL

Special ½ off sale for cover reveal day! Original price is $4.99.

On 12/7 Uprooted will be $2.99.

PLUS anyone that pre-orders can get free swag if they fill out this form after: https://forms.gle/BhTpbcg9D93gSeUE6

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