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

Dive in Review: Wishing Against the House.

Hey there, I hope everyone is recovered from all of the crazy ales we had last weekend. Because I have another new book to tell you about.

Janeen Ippolito has just released her newest book in The Steel City Genie series.

My city is under attack by shadowfiends.
Apparently, this is my fault, thanks to the family I’ve never met.

At least the attack interrupted my first couples therapy session with Cendric. Small blessings, right?

Then my long-lost dad—yeah, the one that’s supposed to be dead—shows up to tell me that the shadowfiends are controlled by Raith, an old family member who’s here to recharge his magical batteries by any means necessary, including destroying Pittsburgh and me. Oh, and centuries ago, Raith picked a fight with the local dragons, so they’re after me as well.

Now I have to learn my family’s magic, stop Raith’s path of destruction, and make nice with the dragons. Speaking of which, did I mention my oh-so-quiet secretary has eloped with one of the dragons’ worst enemies?

Personally, all I want for Christmas is to survive until New Year’s.
And maybe, a vacation.

Buy now and enjoy the Steel City Genie series: snarky urban fantasy with a blue-collar genie, a load of trouble, some romance with heat (nothing graphic), and gleeful send ups of many romantic fantasy tropes, plus otter-shifters and coffee addictions.

Janeen Ippolito doesn’t just write quirky series with snarky characters. B\No, She writes MCU level crossovers with Easter eggs and character cameos.

Check out the full universe below complete with Amazon links:

The Steel City Genie Series – Best Read in Order!
Gone Wishing – A Steel City Genie Prequel Novella – Free!
Book 1 – If Wishes Were Curses
Book 2 – Wish You Weren’t Here
Book 3 – Wishing Against the House

The Arcane Market Adventures – Companion Series
Book 1 – Cut to the Heart
Book 2 – Fire that Unites (coming soon)

The Accidental Alien Romance Chronicles – Set in Same Universe with Crossover Characters
Novella 1 – My Alien Boyfriend
Novella 2 – My Alien Engagement

If you are up for the challenge try reading them in chronological order:

My Alien Boyfriend
Steel City Genie one: If Wishes were Curses
Cut to the Heart
Steel City Genie 2: Wish you Weren’t Here
SCG 3: Wishing Against the House
My Alien Engagement (concurrent with Wishing Against the House, occurs within it)

Janeen Ippolito believes you should own your unique words—and make them awesome! She’s a multi-published author of bestselling fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. She’s also an experienced editor and marketing strategist, plus the head of Uncommon Universes Press, a publishing company with award-winning books. In her spare time, she helps her missionary husband with his youth swordfighting ministry, indulges her foodie ambitions, reads whatever books she feels like, and explores a slew of random hobbies. Her life goals include traveling to Antarctica and riding a camel while wearing a party hat. This extrovert loves to connect, so join her on social media or at janeenippolito.com

Website: https://janeenippolito.com/  
Email Newsletter: https://www.subscribepage.com/getmyfictionchapters
Facebook Page: 
https://www.facebook.com/janeenippolitounique/

Facebook Reader Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/168444147251310/
Instagram: @janeen_ippolito

Dive-in Review: Wishing Against the House

Wishing Against the House is the official third book in the Steel City Genie series.

As a result of this pretty much anything I write in this review is going to be spoiler for an earlier book in the series.

You have been warned.

Before I start into spoilers, I will say that if you have read any of the previous books by Janeen Ippolito, then you will find the same snarky humor, and same heart touching character dilemmas as can be found in her other books.

Possible spoilers to follow.

Allis’s character, despite having gone through considerable growth already, continues to discover new things about herself, her powers, and her family.

At first I thought it was strange that Allis was dealing with some of the same hang ups she had in book one. Feelings of being worthless and unloved resurface, even with the ever growing number of friends and family she has collected over the course of her series.

But I can see how the events of this novel bring all those feelings right back to the front of her mind since this story does tackle the question of just who Allis’s father was and why he abandoned her. It is a tough topic for her as it drags up all of the abandonment and abuse that she went through as a child and even as an adult.

One of the best things about this series though is the romance. There’s no triangles or will they/won’t they. it’s just a healthy relationship between a married couple. They have problems, as couples do, but they work it out or try to anyway. It’s nice to see Allis and Cendric going to counseling and talking out their problems.

If you are looking for a humorous urban fantasy that has some clean steam (clean because she doesn’t describe it, but steamy because you know they did it.) between a married couple then I really recommend you check out the Steel city Genie series.

A huge thank you to Author Janeen Ippolito for providing me with an advanced copy of Wishing Against the House. This review is my own honest opinion of the book and is given willingly and without coercion.

Frosted Roses Release Three: Gilded in Ice 

Welcome to the third release for the Frosted Roses Fairy-tale blog tour.

Scroll to the bottom of the main blog tour page for a raffle copter giveaway. The winner gets four of the books in paperback and a frosted roses necklace.

https://aristasdirectory.blogspot.com/p/six-frosted-roses.html

Check out the first release here: https://cobonham.com/2021/09/21/runaway-lyrics-release-day/

And the second release here: https://cobonham.com/2021/09/22/frosted-roses-release-two-as-long-as-we-live/

Today I’m hosting a Dive in review for Gilded in Ice. But first a little about the story.

 Bastian has two new missing person cases. One is cold. The other is his own sister. 

Since his success solving the Midnight Show disappearances, Bastian Dennel is sitting pretty. And with the new high-profile cold case that just got dropped in his lap, he’s pretty sure things will stay that way for a while. But when he finds out his sister has gone missing without a trace, he’s determined to find her and bring whoever’s responsible to justice — even if his only lead is a stray cat with a knack for vanishing unexpectedly. : Gilded in Ice

Kona Dennel’s plans have already been upended, so when the talking cat she’d befriended asked her for help breaking an enchantment, she didn’t see any reason not to say yes. She didn’t expect to be trapped in a frozen mansion or to be drawn into conflict with a mysterious lady of the fair folk. Even the cat is hiding more secrets than she realized. It’ll take a skilled detective to untangle this web . . . but since Bastian isn’t here, Kona will just have to do it herself. 

Secrets abound, and the one creature who knows the truth isn’t talking. Can Bastian and Kona outwit a fae who’s been at this for centuries? Or will thawing out the long-frozen truth drop them in over their heads? 

A magical mystery reimagining Snow White and Rose Red and East of the Sun, West of the Moon in the jazz-age world of The Midnight Show. 

Purchase Link: https://www.amazon.com/Gilded-Ice-Bastian-Dennel-Book-ebook/dp/B098LQ9C15  

Add Book on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58463912-gilded-in-ice  

Purchase Book 1: https://www.amazon.com/Midnight-Show-Sarah-Pennington-ebook/dp/B08B1RV653/ 

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. Sarah’s first published work, Blood in the Snow, received a perfect score and Special Unicorn status in Rooglewood Press’s Five Poisoned Apples contest. 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

Dive in Review: Gilded in Ice.

Gilded in Ice by Sarah Pennington is the second book in her fairy-tale series about private investigator Bastian Dennel. This series is set in an alternate world were the Fair Folk are everywhere and magic causes most of the problems.

This first book is titled The Midnight Show, the events of which are referenced frequently. So I recommend reading them in order.

This installment has a bit of Snow White and Rose Red, and a bit of East of the sun West of the moon. (Or maybe it’s the other way around. I can never remember.)

Gilded in Ice follows Bastian’s sisters Kona and Roselle. The SW and RR characters for this retelling. One cold winter they let in a stray cat to share their home. (No bears here.) And come summertime both the cat and Kona mysteriously vanish.

Now if you are familiar with either or both of those fairy tales, then you can probably guess what happened. But you don’t really know the story, because mashing both of these stories together and setting it in a prohibition era PI novel completely changes the game.

The best part of this isn’t the twist ending, it’s the investigation. I love detective stories because I love watching people reason things out. How the investigator finds and puts the pieces together is what makes the story work, and this book works really well.

I also enjoyed seeing how the author seamlessly worked in the events of the first book to tie the two cases together. So I’m going to repeat my earlier recommendation. READ THESE BOOKS IN ORDER! You will be glad you did.

I received an early review copy of this novel and am leaving this review honestly and without coercion.

Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche Blog Tour.

I am so excited to be a part of the blog tour for Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche. The Enola Holmes books were some of my favorites and I am beyond excited to help promote the newest installment.

This book is the seventh in the series and I had to wait so long for it. It’s been over ten years. Was it worth the wait? Keep reading for not only my review but also an excerpt from the upcoming book.

“A young girl who is empowered, capable, and smart…the Enola Holmes book series convey an impactful message that you can do anything if you set your mind to it, and it does so in an exciting and adventurous way.”–Millie Bobby Brown

Enola Holmes is back! Nancy Springer’s nationally bestselling series and breakout Netflix sensation returns to beguile readers young and old in Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche.

Enola Holmes is the much younger sister of her more famous brothers, Sherlock and Mycroft. But she has all the wits, skills, and sleuthing inclinations of them both. At fifteen, she’s an independent young woman–after all, her name spelled backwards reads ‘alone’–and living on her own in London. When a young professional woman, Miss Letitia Glover, shows up on Sherlock’s doorstep, desperate to learn more about the fate of her twin sister, it is Enola who steps up. It seems her sister, the former Felicity Glover, married the Earl of Dunhench and per a curt note from the Earl, has died. But Letitia Glover is convinced this isn’t the truth, that she’d know–she’d feel–if her twin had died.

The Earl’s note is suspiciously vague and the death certificate is even more dubious, signed it seems by a John H. Watson, M.D. (who denies any knowledge of such). The only way forward is for Enola to go undercover–or so Enola decides at the vehement objection of her brother. And she soon finds out that this is not the first of the Earl’s wives to die suddenly and vaguely–and that the secret to the fate of the missing Felicity is tied to a mysterious black barouche that arrived at the Earl’s home in the middle of the night. To uncover the secrets held tightly within the Earl’s hall, Enola is going to require help–from Sherlock, from the twin sister of the missing woman, and from an old friend, the young Viscount Tewkesbury, Marquess of Basilwether!

Enola Holmes returns in her first adventure since the hit Netflix movie brought her back on the national bestseller lists, introducing a new generation to this beloved character and series.

● Link to a buy-this-book page: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250822963

● NANCY SPRINGER is the author of the nationally bestselling Enola Holmes novels, including The Case of the Missing Marquess, which was made into the hit Netflix movie, Enola Holmes. She is the author of more than 50 other books for children and adults. She has won many awards, including two Edgar Awards, and has been published in more than thirty countries. She lives in Florida.

● Author’s Twitter: @NancySpringer

On sale August 31st. Pre-order here: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250822963

My Review:

*Thank you to Net Galley and Wednesday books for providing me with an advanced copy of this book. My opinions are my own and are provided willingly and honestly.*

Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche is the long awaited seventh novel in the Enola Holmes mystery series.

If you are a long time fan of this series then you will be most excited to know that this is truly book seven and not a Netflix tie in. The Movie was fine, but the books are better.

If you are just coming to the books, because you loved the Netflix movie, that’s fine, just be warned that this book has spoilers for the first six books in the series, which do have an over arching plotline. If you don’t care about spoilers the prologue to this novel includes a short summery of each of the previous Enola books. After a ten year break I admit I appreciated this refresher.

The Black Barouche is honestly the book in the series I most wanted while reading these books as a teenager. I was, and still am a big Sherlock Holmes fan, and this book finally sees Enola and Sherlock working on a case together. Well maybe not together. They are basically competing to see who solves it first. Seeing as they are sister and brother, this is the only natural outcome.

I just can’t get over how great this book was, Springer’s writing style is exactly the same and took me right back to when I binged the original six books in one month. Enola’s voice was just as confident and snarky as before. There is also the added bonus of revisiting Tewky from book one, and who Netflix viewers will recognize from the movie.

Each Enola Holmes book was centered around some aspect of Victorian society that related to women and most importantly to the injustices they faced at that time. The Black Barouche is no different, though this book may have the darkest injustice of all. It deals with the reality of how truly disposable women were.

A Nobleman writes his wife’s sister that she is dead. No explanation, no funeral, no body. Just, your sister is dead so sorry, don’t come round anymore. It’s up to Sherlock and Enola to discover what became of the late Lady Dunhench.

As is often the case in Victorian mysteries the true criminal is the law. The law that lets men, well men with money and power, do whatever they please without consequence. 

Excerpt:

“Is she fainted?”

Indignant, I wanted to sit up and say I was not so easily killed and I never fainted, but to my surprise my body would not obey me. I merely stirred and murmured.

“She’s moving.”

I saw the clodhopper boots of common men surrounding me and smelled alcohol on the breath of those leaning over me.

“Let’s get ’er inside.”

“Somebody go fer the doctor.”

Strong hands, not ungentle, seized me by the feet and shoulders. I could have kicked and yelled—I felt strong enough now—but my mind had started to function, realizing that I was about to be carried into a pub, for only in a public house, or pub, would workmen be drinking in the daytime. And normally no woman of good repute would enter a pub, or if she did, she would be jeered at until she retreated. But, my avid brain realized, fate in the form of Jezebel had given me opportunity to spend some time inside a pub—no, in the pub, most likely the only pub in Threefinches! So I closed my eyes and pretended to be rather more helpless than I was as the men hauled me inside and laid me down on a high-backed bench by the hearth.

Someone brought something pungent in lieu of smelling salts, but I shook my head, pushed the malodourous hand away, opened my eyes, and sat up, acting as if it were a great effort for me to do so. A burly, bearded man in an apron, undoubtedly the publican who kept the place, came running with a pillow for my back, and I thanked him with a gracious smile.

“Will ye have a nip of brandy, lydy?”

“No, thank you. Water, please.”

“Jack! Water for the lydy!” he bellowed to some underling, and he remained nearby as I managed, with hands that genuinely trembled, to remove my gloves. Their thin kidskin leather was ruined by the mauling it had taken from Jezebel’s reins, and my hands were red and sore; doubtless they would bruise. Grateful for the cool glass, I held it in both hands and sipped, looking around me. Half of the denizens of the place, like the owner, stood in a semicircle staring at me not unpleasantly, while the rest did the same from seats at the rustic tables—all but one. A tall man with beard stubble on his chin and quite a shock of coarse brownish-grey hair hiding his forehead had withdrawn to a table by the wall, where he devoted his attention to his mug of ale, or stout, or whatever noxious brew he might fancy. I said brightly to the tavern-keeper, “I believe I would like to stand up.”

“Now, why not wait for the doctor, lydy—”

But taking hold of his arm, as he stood within my reach, I got to my feet with reasonable steadiness. There were muted cheers from the onlookers. Nodding and simpering at the men all around me, I lilted, “Thank you so much. Do you suppose anyone could go out and fetch my bag, and my hat and parasol? I believe they fell along the—”

Already half a dozen would-be heroes were stampeding towards the door. Yet, if I had walked in here under my own power, any request for help would have been met with deepest suspicion. Such is life: odd.

Reminders:

The release date is August 31st.

You can read book seven even if you haven’t read the first six books but it will spoil those books for you.

Black Barouche pre-order/order links here: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250822963

Have you read any of the Enola Holmes books?

How excited are you for the new installment?

Audio Review: Second Son

For my next audiobook review I decided to go back to the Minstrel’s Song series by Jenelle Schmidt. Today I’m doing a review for the second book in the series. If you remember my past reviews I skipped this one because it was more of a prequel. If you would like, you can go back and check out my reviews for book one, King’s Warrior, or book three, Yorien’s Hand.

So now on to the second book, conveniently titled Second Son.

In an attempt to manipulate the future, a family and a nation are forced to decide between two brothers. Guided by a prophecy spoken hundreds of years before, the King and Queen of Llycaelon have set their course. Their goal: to fulfill the prophecy and save their nation from a dire fate.Rhoyan has always understood and accepted his own role as second born and perpetual prince. He looks forward to the day when he will be a warrior in his older brother’s guard. When Rhoyan is sent on a quest filled with unimaginable danger, nobody anticipates the greater repercussions.As Rhoyan journeys far across the seas on his appointed trial, he will battle creatures of legend, suffer shipwreck, endure captivity, and lay claim to a fallen star. When tragedy strikes, Rhoyan must struggle to return home believing his quest has failed. However, the home he left no longer awaits him and the true test of his strength and character has only just begun.Long before Aom-igh needed a champion, Llycaelon had a Second Son.

Dive-in Audiobook Review:

Second Son is the second book in the series, but since it focuses on the childhood of main character Brant, it actually comes first In the timeline. But don’t read it first. It will spoil the big twist at the end of King’s Warrior.

I had originally skipped this book because I wanted to follow the main story line. I see now that was a mistake.

Second Son dropped so much lore and had character development that would have added to my enjoyment of Yoran’s Hand. So I’m amending my opinion. You should absolutely read these books in publication order.

Brant’s character is so much deeper than I realized. He goes through so much in this book. He is royalty, he’s a slave, he loves, and he knows loss.

Second Son would be an interesting read on it’s own, even without the larger series to complete it. I believe it can standalone, but it also fits perfectly into the larger mythos that the author has constructed for it.

As always, Benjamin Fife is a joy to listen to. He really shows his acting chops in this one, where he gets to play many roles, all of which require deep emotion. And he delivers stunning performances for each.

*I would like to thank Jenelle and Story Origin for providing a free reviewer code.

Purchase links:

Second Son on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Second-Son-Minstrels-Song-Book-ebook/dp/B00L74XNAM

Find the whole series available on Audible: https://www.audible.com/author/Jenelle-Leanne-Schmidt/B008J4H9ZS

Or if you still prefer your books a bit more silent get them in paperback or ebook an Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B074C6DBH1

About the Author:

Jenelle first fell in love with stories through her father’s voice reading books aloud each night. A relentless opener-of-doors in hopes of someday finding a passage to Narnia, it was only natural that she soon began making up fantastical realms of her own. Jenelle currently resides in the wintry tundra of Wisconsin —which she maintains is almost as good as Narnia — with her knight-in-shining armor and their four hobbits. When she is not writing, she homeschools said hobbits and helps them along on their daily adventures… which she says makes her a wizard.

WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

Thunder Girl an Audiobook Review

Welcome to July. you may not know it but July is one of three Novel Writing Months. The biggest one is of course November, but there are also April and July, called Camp NaNoWiMo. During Camp you can set any goal amount and even count editing rather than try to hit new word counts.

So while I work on editing Runaway Lyrics, I’m pulling out the audiobooks again. The first audiobook review I have for you is this quirky YA novel called Thunder Girl.

About the Book

All Cat wanted was an ordinary summer internship at the American Museum of Natural History. But when the fossils on display command her to use an ancient amulet to restore balance to the sacred lands out West, she and her robot companion Hermes find themselves journeying across an alternate-history 1890s America to set things right in the Native States. 

If that wasn’t enough, a powerful railroad tycoon also wants the amulet – which is rumored to be cursed. 

With danger always at their heels, can Cat and Hermes make it to the sacred lands and fulfill the fossils’ quest? 

From the bustling streets of Manhattan to the untouched plains of the West, one thing is clear: Cat’s summer will be anything but ordinary in this fun-filled, slightly nerdy steampunk fantasy Western.

Photo by icon0.com on Pexels.com

About the Author

T. K. Arispe has a nose and eats breakfast like at least some humans. She studied animation production at College of the Canyons, with an emphasis on storytelling and direction. Her writing and humor have been compared to Terry Pratchett and her worldbuilding to Hayao Miyazaki. T. K. likes interesting stories, well-crafted worlds, and memorable characters, and is passionate about creating quality, intelligent, slightly offbeat media that everyone can enjoy.

Photo by Marcus Lange on Pexels.com

My Audiobook Review

I was very surprised by this book. I was just not sure how these random elements could come together into a cohesive story. But they did, and I enjoyed it.

The first strange element was the thunder stone that brings fossilized animals back to life. It was very mystical and was enough on its own to hold the story. But add a nice paleontologist robot and you have steampunk gold.

Then there was the addition of Iapetus, the grandson of Frankenstein’s monster. How is this a thing? But it worked. After that it was an easy transition from Frankenstein to adding a werewolf.

The only part that didn’t work was when the robot brought up evolution, and it was too much. You don’t get to have native spirits, magic stones, gothic monsters, and evolution. No. One of these things is not like the others. It was really minor and such a throw away line too. It shouldn’t have been as memorable as it was.

Anyway, I really loved this book, the humor, the quirky characters, and especially the narrator.

Benjamin Fife is a brilliant narrator. He does all the voices and even adds a tinny effect when he does the robot’s voice. I’ve featured a lot of book on this blog that have been narrated by him. In fact seeing his name on the project was the main reason I requested this book from StoryOrigins.

If you are looking for something different, and clever, then this is the book you need.

*I would like to thank the author T.K. Arispe and Story Origin, for providing me with a free audible code for this book. My opinions are my own honest opinion of the listening experiance.*

Thunder Girl is available on Amazon as an ebook, paperback, and an audiobook. It is also available in Kindle Unlimited.

Weird Writing Prompts Review and Questions Answered

So you know that phrase about saving the best for last? well the last post of June is going to be a big one. Not only am I spot lighting a new book from Janeen Ippolito, I get to plug my upcoming novel at the same time. Yes I am actually publishing this one. I have a release date. I’m committed But first here’s a little about Janeen’s book.

Get more out of your writing prompts!

Weird Writing Prompts is a short book loaded with questions to jumpstart your creativity, dive deeper into your characters, and rev up your book marketing.

Oh yeah, and some questions are weird. Like “trap your characters in an elevator with an emu” weird. Because everyone needs a little weirdness to refresh their writing lives!

Grab this book to:

-Get Deep & Random – Expanded prompts with ideas to make your characters epic, plus absurd situations to unlock your creativity with play

-Get Sharing & Marketing – Author-centric questions to fuel your marketing brain and help with social media content creation

It’s time to refresh your brain, supercharge your story, and have fun with your marketing!

“Having fun is vital to goo writing, good marketing, and good sales.” – Janeen ippolito

My review

Weird Writing prompts is a great writing prompt book. Instead of just offering you more story ideas to add to your “to write” list, this prompt book actually helps you develop the story you are already working on.

The book is divided into two parts, character questions and marketing questions. The character questions may seem random and silly, but each one is formulated to help you learn something about your characters.

The marketing questions are also fun and are great for helping you decide what kind of giveaway items you want on hand for when you your book releases. The author also includes ideas for how to adapt the questions for a classroom setting which is great for English teachers and homeschoolers.

I really enjoyed all of the odd little questions and having to think about how they would apply to my story.

If you are stuck on your current project and would like a prompt book to help you move forward then check out Weird Writing Prompts.

To see sample questions and how I used them for my story, keep reading to the end.

Weird Writing Prompts releases July 13.

But you can pre order the ebook now for only 99 cents.

Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B096YVQGWX

Other Online Ebook Retailers: https://books2read.com/u/bORvng

Autographed paperback: https://next.waveapps.com/checkouts/71222c16c26b4637b48cddca3c46d25c

All-in-One (book page on my website): http://www.janeenippolito.com/weird

Janeen Ippolito believes you should own your unique words. She’s a multi-published author of bestselling fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. She’s also an experienced editor, marketing strategist, and businesswoman, plus the CEO of Uncommon Universes Press. When not writing, she explores random hobbies or posts cute animal memes. Connect at janeenippolito.com


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For authors – @ownyouruniquewords

For readers – @janeen_ippolito
For poetry/art – @janeen_ippolito_creations

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbOMGXV7E_Df8Dko1W9Tt5Q

Three Random Questions About Runaway Lyrics:

So first a bit of back ground:

Runaway Lyrics is a retelling of the Snow White and Rose Red fairytale, with a light steampunk aesthetic. The main characters are Snow and Rose, identical twin sisters who are both talented at music. There are also Bayare (the oldest) and Wickham, half brothers and princes. Placed under a curse that causes Bayare to turn into a great brown bear every night and for Wickham to become a great golden owl every day.

So let’s start with the ultimate random question:

What would each of your characters do if a bird pooped on them?

Bayare would look around to see where Wickham, in owl form, was. Then when he found him he would instantly accuse him of doing it. Wickham would deny everything. Honestly he knows that Wickham would never deficate on anyone but he loves teasing his little brother.

If Snow was pooped on she would flinch, but then wipe it off and keep going, hopefully to someplace where she could take a bath.

Rose is a bit different. She would complain. Long and loud, about how gross it was and why, of all the places for a bird to poop, did it have to be on her.

Wickham, as a part time owl, knows the bird that did it. He knows that bird did it on purpose. And Wickham is already planning his revenge.

“Writing is hard. Marketing is hard. We can use all the fun that we can get.” – Janeen Ippolito

Would each of your characters rather: sort 1,000 pieces of paper OR stand on a public stage for an hour to entertain a crowd of young children?

This is easy. Rose, Snow and Bayare would take the stage for an hour. Rose and Snow love playing music and that’s how they would entertain the kids. Bayare doesn’t know what he would do on stage, but he hates repetitive tasks like sorting. Besides who doesn’t like kids?

Wickham that’s who. Oh he loves attention and it’s not that he hates kids, he just doesn’t know what to do with them. They find the crudest things hilarious. They require so much talking down too. Nope give Wickham the stack of paper and lock him in the library.

“They say you have to go deep or have silly fun. I say you can do both.” – Janeen Ippolito

You can hire anyone to compose music for your story. Who do you choose and why?

It would be Lindsey Stirling. I listened to her music on a loop while writing this novel. Even though Snow and Rose can play multiple instruments, Linsey Stirling is the reason that they prefer the violin. Her Music videos also inspired the way the magic system in my world works.

If you aren’t familiar with Lindsey Stirling then check out her music on youtube, her videos are amazing. Start with this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfTknZt2DHA

Runaway Lyrics will have an official cover reveal and release date soon. So I hope you’re ready to hear me talk more about myself in the next couple month. But don’t worry I’ll still keep doing book reviews for others as well.

What was your favorite question I answered?

Are you excited to hear more about Runaway Lyrics?

Castle Contended Dive-in Review

Hello readers, today is release day for a new book. The book is A Castle Contended. This is the second book in the Castle in the Wilde series. Click here to read my review of the first book, A Castle Awakened. And then come back so you can scroll down and read my review of the second book.

A Castle Contended by Sharon Rose

Novel 2 in the Castle in the Wilde series

She loves her kingdom…and the foreign usurper they hate. How can she choose between them?

Beth finally understands. The despised foreigners are not what she believed. Nor is her noble role just a burdensome restraint. It also carries authority—and the obligation to use it wisely. Which might be more of a restraint than the proposed marriage she is evading. Now all she needs to do is convince an entire kingdom to respect the people they hate.

Before she can even try, unraveling deceptions rock her land. A duchess mysteriously dies. Atrocities in Tower Woods come to light. The governing assembly is being manipulated. The cry of Beth’s heart is the last thing anyone cares about. As for loving a despicable foreigner—intolerable!

Tristan would do anything to help Beth, but his foreign hands are tied. The only thing he can do, must do, is kill the enormous vixicats that terrorize the Wilde—beasts that have proven invincible for over a century. If he conquers them, he invites a siege to his castle. What is worse? Starving or becoming a vixicat’s meal?

How can Beth forge her newfound scrap of authority into a tool that is both subtle and powerful enough to return justice to her land? Especially when succeeding could turn the foreigner she loves into an enemy.

My Dive-in Review

A Castle Contended is the second book in the Castle in the Wilde series. It does feel very much like a part two, and I do recommend starting with book one, A Castle Awakened. There is a lot of character development in that first book that you need, to fully appreciate the character arcs that are completed in this novel.

My lest favorite character from the first book, Beth, became my favorite in this one. In the first book princess Ellabeth was very immature and acted like an entitled brat, but in this book we see how the attitudes of those around her very much fueled her ideas and actions. It took someone finally seeing her for the adult she was, for her to truly grow up.

This novel is Beth’s story but don’t worry the, dashing Lord Petram is still a central character, as he continues to hunt the dangerous vixicats that roam the Wilde. Much of his arc is just him waiting around for Lavaycia to sort out their inner kingdom politics, but he still finds plently to do to fill the time.

So we reach the central conflict of A Castle Contended. Politics and to a lesser extent genealogy.
For some reason this book struck me as more of a commentary on the practice of European royalty to marry within their own families. (Bringing up, both deformities from birth defects and with hereditary mental illness within the nobility.)

I didn’t find this change of focus as interesting. I really enjoyed the world building and exploration of A Castle Awakened. If the first book was a romantic adventure then this sequel was a political courtroom drama.

It featured a lot of debate and rhetoric, but very little action. (Unless you count the great Vixicat hunt, that scene had a ton of action.) Though, I did really like the part where the Duke of Maerton got put in his place. It was a good way to show that bullies don’t always get what they want.

Though it could be argued that the amount of justice served to people who actually deserve it, is the least realistic thing about this story.

On that note, the ending was almost too perfectly tied up for what I know to be a planned trilogy. I am very interested in what the author has in store for these characters next.

A Castle Contended is the second novel in the Castle in the Wilde trilogy. If you enjoy a story where wit and hope confront lies and hate, come and explore this fantastical world with medieval undertones and conflicted cultures.

The Castle in the Wilde books are available from Amazon and Kindle Unlimited. The print versions can also be ordered from local bookstores and libraries.

A Castle Contended – novel 2 releases June 24, 2021.

Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08R11LYLG

Other Amazon markets: https://books2read.com/u/bOXwQ9

For a printed book from your local bookstore or library, request ISBN 978-1-948160-23-0

A Castle Awakened – novel 1

The ebook version of A Castle Awakened is currently on sale for $2.99, so it’s a great time to grab it and start the series from the beginning.

Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08GL7QXB2

Other Amazon markets: https://books2read.com/u/3LY9qJ

For a printed book from your local bookstore or library, request ISBN 978-1-948160-21-6.

Author bio:

I started writing when I was seven years old. Okay, My Life as a Flying Squirrel may have had a couple spelling errors, but my classmates loved it.

Plenty of life has happened since that first story, and I’ve come to realize the things that fascinate me. People. Communication. Culture. Personality. Viewpoints. Beliefs. Anything that makes each of us beautifully unique. Small wonder that my art spills out in story form.

It was only a matter of time before I just had to share my stories. I publish fantasy and science fiction because they allow vast spaces to explore. My stories weave cultures and characters, who are more than they seem to be, into adventures with mystery, romance, and hope.

When I’m not writing or reading, I may be traveling, enjoying gardens, or searching for unique coffee shops with my husband. We live in Minnesota, USA, famed for its mosquitoes—uh, I mean 10,000 lakes and vibrant seasons.

Follow Sharon Rose Online:

SharonRoseAuthor.com

Follow me on BookBub

Amazon

Goodreads

Facebook

Amok a Dive-In Review

This is a bit early, a few weeks back I help with a cover reveal for a book titled Amok. I said in the reveal that the release date was June 24th, but that date was moved up to June 1st. So I decided to move my review up accordingly Good news tough, the pre-order pricing stays in effect until the 24th. So grab it now before the price goes up.

Surprise lockdown launch!

In light of Malaysia’s not-so-surprising Total Lockdown, Teaspoon Publishing has pushed up the release date of Amok for a surprise lockdown launch! 

Yes, Amok ebooks drop on 1 June* as Malaysians hunker down at home—and you get to benefit! We’ll still honour our launch prices, so our ebook preorder prices of USD2.99 will remain until the 23rd of June and will rise to USD4.99 on 24 June. 

We’re currently in the process of approving paperback editions via Amazon’s POD and IngramSpark, so you’ll be able to get that once the book goes live at totally random times during the month! (You can tell we’re just winging it right now, can’t you?)

And while we’re at it, send a screenshot of your Amok purchase receipt (whether ebook or paperback) to admin@teaspoonpublishing.com.my by 24 June to claim a free ebook copy of The Painted Hall Collection

Happy reading!

Ebook Order Links:

Amazon: http://getbook.at/Amok

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=BAIvEAAAQBAJ 

Other retailers: https://books2read.com/amok 

Teaspoon Publishing: https://teaspoonpublishing.com.my/shop/amok-ebook 

Ebook sale price (until 23 June): USD2.99  

Full price (24 June): USD4.99 

Amok

What is faith, except hope in desperation?

All Putera Mikal wants is to gain the Amok Strength, the supernatural power granted by Kudus to the Mahan royal family. No matter how religiously Mikal keeps his vows, Kudus still denies him the Strength—whilst his father, Sultan Simson, flaunts the Strength despite his blatant defiance of the Temple and the priests’ visions of coming doom.

Then the prophecies come true.

Taken captive, Mikal must find a way to liberate his people and restore his throne in Maha—and the key to this is the Amok Strength. But what does it take to gain Kudus’ favour?

Dive-In Review of Amok

Amok by Anna Tan is a fantasy reimagining of the story of Sampson from the Bible. But this isn’t a straight retelling, Sampson is more of a frame work to tell the story of Mikal the son of the Sampson stand-in.

The story has a wonderful message about what it means to have faith. Mikal has none of his fathers amazing strength, leading him to question time and again what Kudos (God) wants from him. Why is his faith not enough? A question that I’m sure many people of faith struggle with. (I know I do.)

I really loved Mikal’s character. He has great motivation and his story, is compelling. He goes from being a prince to a slave, and I just couldn’t help feeling for him. He goes on such an inner journey throughout this story that Mikal really does feel like a different character by the end.

The secondary character of Yoshua was just as compelling. He goes from being Mikal’s servant to his new master. He is not the POV character so his arc feels more static, but even second hand you can still see how the plot shapes who he becomes.

Seeing their relationship flipped on its head gives the story a nice sense of symmetry.

The world building is a stand out feature of this book. Set in an Asian inspired fantasy world, the kingdoms of Maha and Bayangan are really fleshed out and I feel like I could crack open a history book and learn about them.

The part of this book that stands out the most is that it has no romance at all. It was super refreshing to read a story without a will they won’t they subplot. The character’s in this story literally had much bigger problems.

If you’re looking for something different from the typical medieval European fantasy then I highly recommend checking out Amok.

*Many thanks to the author who let me read an advanced copy of this book. This review is my own honest evaluation of the material.*

About the Author:

Anna Tan grew up in Malaysia, the country that is not Singapore. She is interested in Malay/Nusantara and Chinese legends and folklore in exploring the intersection of language, culture, and faith.
Anna has an MA in Creative Writing: The Novel under a Chevening scholarship and is the President of the Malaysian Writers Society. She can be found tweeting as @natzers and forgetting to update annatsp.com.

Discernment: Dive-in Review

A couple weeks ago I hosted a cover reveal for Discernment, the newest book in the Legacy Chronicles by Lauren H. Salisbury. The book is out now and I can’t wait to share my review with you. But first a reminder about the book.

Also this is an official stop on the Discernment blog tour so stay until the end for your secret word to use as entry into the grand prize drawing.

A misfit, a fugitive, and a sacred destiny. Everything changes when all three collide.

In Jiya’s world, the only choice a woman has is who she will marry. When she meets a mysterious off-worlder, she must decide how far she is willing to push the boundaries of Teraburan culture to gain her freedom, and whether that is truly what she wants.

Mahsan has never been accepted for who he is. The sole human raised on an Esarelian cruiser, his attempts to belong led only to disaster and him becoming a fugitive. When he is invited into the home of a Teraburan clan leader, he finds a place where he could finally put down roots. But his past haunts him, and he will need to make peace with it if he wants any kind of future in his new home.

Not everyone approves of Jiya and Mahsan’s friendship, and some will stop at nothing to keep them apart. As the unlikely pair discover their true calling, they will have to confront everything they thought they knew and learn to see themselves as they never have before.

Purchase links:

Discernment – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B093WWJ5HY 

Universal link – mybook.to/Discernment 

Check out the first two books in the series at the link below:

Series page (US) – https://www.amazon.com/gp/kindle/series/B07QGK7TZY

My Dive-in Review:

Discernment is the third book in Lauren H. Salisbury’s The Legacy Chronicles. This series is a science fiction reimagining of the life of Moses from the Bible.

Discernment specifically focuses on the period of Moses’s story where he flees Egypt and goes to live with the Midianites. This is his wife’s story; here renamed Jiya.

I really loved this new character. Jiya is a strong independent woman stuck living in a patriarchal society that doesn’t value her as a person. Time and again, people try to put her in a box, and she continually thinks her way out of it. She is the perfect match to Mahsan (the Moses stand in) as she can relate to his feelings of not belonging.

Discernment reads very much like a romance. Very clean, with very interesting sci-fi elements, and a Biblical twist, but still romance. For this reason I feel like this book stands very well on it’s own.

As book three of a four book saga, I was afraid that it would suffer from middle book syndrome. Thankfully, it does not. You should of course start at the beginning with book one, Courage, but if you somehow, found yourself starting here, with book three, then rest assured, there is enough backstory that you won’t be lost. The ending is also pretty nicely tied off, with a gentle, slope rather than a sudden drop off a long cliff.

The aesthetic of this particular instalment is what I would call space western. Think Firefly where old ideas meet high tech. For the most part it takes place on a cattle ranch on the planet Terabu, there is quite a bit of mechanical tech as well as space craft, but for every microchip there are just as many low tech scenes.

An all around solid instalment in an interesting series and a great book in it’s own right. I’m looking forward to this fourth book to see how Salisbury handles the ten plagues.

*I was given an advanced copy of this book to review. The opinions provided here are my own honest evaluation of the provided work.*

Word 12. what

For those of you with screen readers. The above graphic has your word for the blog tour.

Word 12. what.

Follow the blog tour to get all the words in the secret sentence:

All the links to the posts can be found here: https://www.laurenhsalisbury.com/

Giveaway:

Discernment Swag Bag

  • Necklace
  • Character art (Jiya, Reemah, Gilla)
  • Recipe cards
  • Quote fridge magnet
  • Handmade greeting card(s)
  • Note from the author
  • Signed bookplate
  • (digital) companion story

Digital Swag Packs

  • Companion story 
  • Character art with notes from the characters
  • Recipe cards
  • Note from the author

Enter the Giveaway Here: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/ebe7708e2/

Or see if I embedded this widget right (I probably didn’t):

a Rafflecopter giveaway https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

About the Author:

Lauren H Salisbury is a lover of all things science fiction/fantasy, creative, and edible, but not always in that order. An English teacher for sixteen years, she now tutors part-time while trying to figure out how to use an MA in Education as an author. She lives in Yorkshire with her husband and a room full of books but likes to winter abroad, following the sunshine. Her favourite stories include faith, hope, and courage.

Website – https://www.laurenhsalisbury.com

@gillascourage on Facebook and Twitter

@laurenhsalisbury on Instagram

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