Destiny Revealed begins with Gabby in a precarious situation, one that propels readers into an intriguing adventure. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?
The 1960’s was a fascinating time to be a teenager, although none of us realized it until much later in life. The historical events, music, art, pop culture, all contributed in many ways to who we are today. I knew many “Gabbys” in my high school in California. I experienced the loss of a “Jake” at an early age, as a result of the Vietnam war. In college I studied Literature, graduated with a BA and MA in English and became a high school teacher. Those years resulted in my continued appreciation for every author that I taught, even those that I was not always fond of. It was always my desire to be a writer. And, although I believed I could be successful, those years were so busy, teaching, raising a family, living life that there was little time for writing. Finally, once retired from teaching, and moving to the Midwest, my passion to write returned. As I met other people from this region, one thing that we all had in common was our memories of the ‘60s. This is when I decided to create a story that my generation, and hopefully others, could relate to; the desire to sometimes want to revisit those wonderful early years, and even reflect on what might have happened differently based on our choices.
In Destiny Revealed, the sequel to my first novel, Destiny Revisited, it begins where the last one ended, Tybee Beach near Savannah, Georgia. Gabby has come full circle and is still struggling to understand why happiness is eluding her.
My objective with this novel, was to answer all of the questions that still remained at the end of the first novel, now that all of the characters are approaching middle age. This is why I provided the history backdrop to the the two main characters, still living, Caden Cassidy and Sterling Powers. Destiny Revealed hopefully will add a new dimension that readers will appreciate.
I enjoyed how Gabby’s character continued to develop as the story progressed. What were some themes you wanted to capture in her character and the relationship with the men in her life?
Gabriella, means , a gift of strength from God. In this novel it will take her as much patience and self reliance as possible to make it through her complicated life. Each of the men in her life, Jake Girard, Caden Cassidy, Alex Blair, and Sterling Powers have contributed to her growth as a woman. But, it is not until she meets the mysterious lady, Maggie Mendoza, born on the same day she is, forty years later, and experiencing the same life threatening experience, on the same day, two thousand miles apart, is she able to realize how strong she is. Although I provide clues to the reader about what will ultimately happen, I am hoping that the conclusion is powerful and surprising.
The story has underpinning of a supernatural force at work, but I felt that the novel was well grounded in reality. How did you balance this while writing?
Balancing the supernatural with reality happens everyday, people just don’t always realize it. Whether it is prayer, or astrology, or a Shaman who performs rituals in Catemaco, Veracruz, people are in search of relief from their pain. By including Jake’s journals, Gabby believes she will be connected to him, even in death. The coincidence between Maggie and Gabby are both mysterious yet, realistic. We just do not always have the opportunity to meet our doppelgängers. My intention is to lead the reader into an unknown space without making it uncomfortable.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Seven Days in Lebanon, my third novel, takes a totally different approach than my first two novels. It is based on the true story of my grandmother’s exile from St. Petersburg, Russia during The Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 and her marriage to the last Prince of Kiva. This is a historical fiction that is now complete and will be available at the first of next year.
The Mermaid’s grandmother is my next novel that I am currently writing. Although not completely “fleshed “ out it will be a story told by an aging mermaid that lives a normal life with a few idiosyncrasies. Her grandson, also part merman does not have any idea about his heritage. The bond that the two of them share, will offer readers a new perspective on some traditional legends.
“Where the hell are you, Gabby?” Is what Caden Cassidy wants to know and Destiny Revisited readers are also asking. It is also what Gabriella Gerard Blair wants to discover.
Floating in the freezing Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by ashes, Gabby has no idea why she is at Tybee Beach and who saved her from drowning. It is Sterling Powers, a man from her past, who she turns to for some answers.
What Gabby finds is more questions than any answers. Can Caden convince Gabby that fate has finally allowed them another chance at happiness? What secrets are Sterling keeping from Gabby, and why? Will Jake’s journals be her guidebook to the parallel universe?
Perhaps the answers will finally be found at The Hotel California, in Todos Santos, Mexico when she meets the proprietor, Eleanor Rigby. It is here when Gabby, in desperation, decides to visit a Shaman located at Catamaco, Veracruz, the capital of sorcery.
Posted in Interviews
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Mall Hair Maladies by Kristy Jo Volchko is a delightful throwback story that will take 80’s kids down memory lane. The book follows Tanya, the new kid in school, Randi, and their single parents. The two meet and quickly become inseparable best friends. Volchko describes a year in the life of two 13 year old girls in 1980’s America. Volchko delves into “a day in the life” right down to big, crimped, hair-sprayed hair, fingerless gloves, and arms lined with multi-colored jelly bracelets. The biggest obstacle in the girls’ lives is finding a way to go to the local Madonna concert. She’s their idol, and they will do just about anything to hear her belting her songs in person.
Volchko writing feels like a genuine first-hand account of crazy events told across a dinner table. Grammar and spelling are impeccable. Everything flows perfectly. Characters were well developed, with each one having enough background story for readers to get a good grip on who they are. The setting and different scenarios were described well. Volchko has a way of making you feel like you are right there with the characters mixing up things in the kitchen, having an awkward dinner with an uptight relative, or smoking in the girls room. I felt invested in her characters and their lives.
I loved the throwbacks to the 1980’s. I lived them, and the essence of that era was captured perfectly. Readers from that time will relate to the characters. They will see themselves and reminisce over their own 80’s stories. I love the real references to the music and fashion of the time. It was a simpler time in many ways, but pop culture, music, and fashion were anything but simple.
The story is a nice throwback to a safer time for kids. They could hop on a bus unattended and go all over town and return relatively unscathed. They had little fear of anything bad happening to them at all. Bad things happened, of course, but they didn’t seem so frequent. Volchko conveys that time of simplicity and relative safety very well. I’m not so sure the story would have played out the same if it was set in today’s world. It was nice to escape back to that time for a little while.
I love how easily the girls become best friends. I think we sometimes forget how simple that was as children. Two strangers implicitly trusted and loved each other without the bat of a fake eyelash, just because they did. They met. They liked each other. Simple.
Without getting too heavy, Volchko exposes some problems that commonly arise in families. These aren’t 80’s problems, but timeless problems. Tanya has an absent father, and Randi has an absent mother. Tanya’s grandmother is judgmental, hateful, and a huge source of stress for the family. Volchko shows how the characters deal with those issues. She gives examples of difficult family dynamics and how the characters navigate those storms. She also gives some hope with the introduction of a less dysfunctional family toward the end.
I’d recommend this book to anyone in middle school and up, though 80’s kids may appreciate it the most. I couldn’t have asked for more out of this book. Volchko has made me a fan. I loved the story. I loved the characters. I loved the writing. I would love to read more of her work.
Pages: 265 | ASIN: B079SQYLRZ
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“Powderfinger” is a present-day scary horror story set mainly on the decrepit, abandoned but soon to be redeveloped, bank of an old canal between two towns. It centres on an old tar works known as Raven’s Gate. Nick Swann is a world weary mid-forties widower and Assistant Probation Warden at St Joseph’s Hostel for young male criminals, situated overlooking the canal and Raven’s Gate. A woman is brutally killed on the bank opposite the Hostel on a night when Nick is on duty. Nick believes his lads had nothing to do with it, though consequently Nick is suspended for issuing too many late passes at once. Then another woman is killed and Nick becomes drawn into discovering the culprit. He works with DCI Findlay and DS Deacon as the murder toll rises. Together with help from his old friends Alan and Hugo, Nick’s research uncovers a long series of similar murders in the same area, stretching back through the centuries. “Powderfinger” as the killer is dubbed, appears to be some kind of ancient mellifluous, malevolent, murderous being that attacks anyone it considers to be disturbing its peace and quiet. Eventually, as the story climaxes, Findlay, Deacon, Nick and Alan set a trap to lure “Powderfinger” to his doom and rid the area of this beast once and for all. Yet, traps can swing both ways.
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Charles Bone and Stan Loren are two FBI agents with quite the special set of skills. The least of which is their ability to communicate without vocalizing their thoughts. As two men with psychic abilities, they have been given the job of heading up a recruitment drive unlike any other in history. Charles and Stan, in the early 1970s, manage to pinpoint over 3,000 individuals exhibiting the qualities making them the perfect candidates for the job. Little do the recruits know the mission for which they have been chosen is one that could change the course of human history.
Terry Tumbler’s Future World Rolls (We Are Family) Book 2 in the Carousels of Life series has one of the most unique settings of its genre. Spanning centuries and with locations varying from Winter Park Florida in the 70s to vessels in space including the Voyager 6, Tumbler carries the reader on quite the raucous ride through time and space via Charles and Stan and the plethora of alien life forms peppered throughout this second in a series.
There is a Men in Black feel about the novel that gives the book a light, fun air. Fans of this type of science fiction will appreciate Tumbler’s alien beings, their idiosyncrasies, and the banter between the main characters as they go about the task set before them.
As with Tumbler’s first book in the series, Future World Rolls is laden with song lyrics, references to artists’ best-known works, and well-timed and perfectly-placed excerpts of the world’s best (my own humble opinion) music. Tumbler’s characters are more than capable of standing on their own, but these song references help to add another light note to the text. I thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to hum along to the tunes Tumbler sets as pleasant little earworms from the beginning to the end of the book. I mean who doesn’t love to be reminded of George Harrison’s “Here Comes the Sun” and “All Day and All of the Night” by the Kinks? Tumbler doesn’t just incorporate music from the 1960s. He takes readers on a nostalgic journey through music history, hitting all the right notes–so to speak.
To say Future World Rolls is fast-paced would be a gross understatement. Tumbler keeps the reader engaged from one jam-packed chapter to the next. Billed as a space opera, this book hops, skips, and jumps from one scene to the next introducing new and engaging characters while building on the already well-developed Charles, Stan, and the just-short-of-amazing green giants.
Science fiction fans who enjoy lively plots and bigger-than-life characters will find Tumbler’s works meet all of their expectations and more. Tumbler writes beautifully and manages to pull off humor in the most eloquent of ways possible. Some science fiction books are fraught with terminology and processes that overwhelm the reader. Tumbler combats all of that with his stunning cast of characters and an upbeat tone that is set from the first chapter.
Pages: 314 | ASIN: B07H4QQR8K
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Decrypto: Unlock Your Life Journey is an inspirational book that uses your life stories to help people understand and overcome challenges in their own life. What do you hope readers take away from this book?
What I would love the reader’s to take away from reading my book is to feel inspired and empowered, and continue with their journey of self-discovery. I’d like them to realise that life is an adventure of ups and downs— but ultimately they are in control and don’t have to stay stuck in a life that is less than what they want. I want them to believe with confidence, “I can change my life!”
In your book you discuss how each one of us has the potential to experience happiness. What do you find is the biggest impediment in people’s lives that keep them from that?
This is a very complex subject matter although often this can be as simple as a lack of understanding of the underlying causes that prevent a deeper connection to happiness. Many people are not living the life they truly want and find themselves holding onto regrets and what-ifs. Our past, if unresolved, can strongly impact and impair, our ability to connect to and to experience happiness, especially if fuelled by strong emotions.
You give a lot of good advice in this book. What is one piece of advice that you wish someone would have given you when you were younger?
I’m the ninth child in a family of ten children. I felt as if I was born into a crowd, where individuality wasn’t valued. I believe this had a powerful impact on my life. The advice that I wish that someone had given me is that we are all unique and each person has something special to offer. To dream big, as anything is possible! If you believe you can achieve it, you will!
I felt that hope was a key theme in this book. What were some themes that were important for you to capture in this book?
There are many themes that individually and collaboratively are important aspects of the book. The main theme that underpins Decrypto is self-empowerment— the sharing of knowledge being the key that opens the door to a new beginning. I’d like to encourage my readers to nurture their belief in themselves, and to know that they have the potential to change their life, to find themselves, and to live a dream…
Whether you have it all, are searching to find yourself, or live with regrets and what-ifs, Decrypto is the key to opening the door to changing your life.
You will gain an in-depth understanding of your thoughts, emotions and life, as you discover what is happening to you and why. Your newfound self-awareness will empower you to make positive and long-lasting changes, to create the life you are longing for.
Be inspired to find a new direction, as you ignite the passion to follow your dreams.
Change starts now!
Posted in Interviews
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The Twisted Crown is a fascinating story about a free black woman from the North searching for her mother in the post-Civil War South. What served as your inspiration while writing this novel?
My father’s family is from Moncks Corner, SC, and we still own property there. I was born in Ohio and grew up in the North. I have always been fascinated by stories about our land in Moncks Corner, called Bryan Tract, and how it was acquired, as well as our family’s unusual genealogy. My great-grandfather was a white man from Iowa, who went to South Carolina during Reconstruction, and eventually became a wealthy state senator. I have always felt that period in American history was not well documented from the female, Afro-centric point of view. So, I decided to focus on that time period. Once I began to acquire primary source documents that provided details of my great-grandfather’s life, I wanted to pen the novel from the point of view of a woman from the North who travels into the South during Reconstruction.
This is an entertaining novel that is high in social commentary. What were some themes you wanted focus on in this book?
Romance: My family’s mixed race background demonstrates the crossing of racial lines at that time, as is really evident throughout history. I wanted to present this aspect of society through characters who could see past the racial, cultural, and societal barriers that existed during this time period. Political: I wanted to better define what Reconstruction actually was. It was not rebuilding bridges and constructing new buildings, but an effort to establish a solid political structure and an economic base to replace the defeated Confederate government. Societal: My goal was to showcase the work of the Freedman’s Bureau and underscore its importance in helping freed slaves establish new lives in freedom after the Civil War.
Eva is an intriguing character that continued to develop as the story progressed. How did you capture the thoughts and emotions of a young black woman during this tumultuous time in history?
As a novelist of historical fiction, I have always focused on examining a period in history through the eyes of an African-American woman. My own family experiences, coupled with years of researching the role of black women throughout pivotal periods in history helped me shape Eva.
What is the next story that you are working on and when will it be available?
Writing historical fiction takes time, detailed research, and inspiration. I always spend time traveling to the geographic locations that I plan to use in my books I’m mulling time periods, traveling, and pulling my next story together without any release date in mind.
The Twisted Crown takes readers from the bustling streets of Boston at the height of the Abolitionist movement to the war-ravaged landscape of Reconstruction-era South Carolina.
In 1867, Eva Phillips, who was born a slave yet lived in freedom, travels across the chaotic landscape of South Carolina in search of the mother who gave her away. During her journey, she is befriended by a black political activist promoting the rights of the newly freed slaves, a wealthy northern Carpetbagger, and a gutsy lady gambler who teaches Eva how to survive in the tumultuous Post-war environment.
When the spirited young widow’s quest draws her into a dangerous web of theft, lies, and murder, she becomes the target of a long-awaited confrontation that forces her into a fight for her life.
Posted in Interviews
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George’s Pursuit Across the Perilous Ocean is a fantastic metaphor for entrepreneurs to grow their business. Why was this an important book for you to write?
I wanted to create a very easy to read book to help entrepreneurs.
The title of the book came from an idea I had of creating something that made people think ‘oh that looks interesting, I wonder what it’s about’. It’s short enough to be an enjoyable read with a lighthearted approach to a serious subject. It’s a thought-provoking sun-bed read!’
What is your experience with entrepreneurship and how did that help you write this book?
As a business owner myself I have extensive experience in buying, building and selling my own businesses, which means I understands the real challenges business owners face day-in, day-out.
I feel I understand the pressures felt by business owners from my own personal experiences of complex periods of change within my own organisations. As a coach I’ve seen lots of businesses struggle and not reach their full potential – I wanted to write a book that made it easy to see how changes could be made.
My main passion lies with family business owners, having been working with them for many years to resolve conflict, manage family employees and succession planning.
What do you think is one common misconception people have about starting a business and how can they overcome it?
The decision to start a business is often taken quite lightly and quickly – perhaps from a point of ‘I can do this just as well’ and often finds the business owner doing the same sort of thing as they did when they were an employee for someone else. However, that’s only the start of it. There is much more to being a successful business owner and at times we all need a prod to do ‘more’. That is what the book is designed to be – a gentle prod.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
The next book in the pipeline will look at family businesses, specifically what it’s like to be a family member joining the family business. Is it a ‘poison chalice’ or an outstanding opportunity?
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American River: Tributaries follows three immigrant families struggling to pursue their dreams during the turbulent 1960’s. What served as your inspiration while writing this book?
My love of Northern California, the place where I grew up, and the wonderful history of the area. I was also inspired by my love of art and music and my passion for social justice issues. Immigration and ethnic diversity are the cornerstones of the story.
This book has so many fascinating characters that are well developed. What were some themes you wanted to capture in your characters?
Basically, the story focuses on the creative search for meaning, knowledge, compassion and understanding in a tumultuous world filled with prejudice, obstacles, jealousy, and betrayal. As my characters encounter these obstacles, they discover their own strengths and weaknesses and grow beyond their self-centered ambitions.
I thoroughly enjoyed the historical backdrop to the story and how well researched it was. What historical milestones were important for you to highlight in this book?
The Gold Rush had a tremendous impact on the population and culture of California. Before the Gold Rush, the population consisted mainly of Native Californians and Californios (settlers and landowners of mixed Spanish, Native Californian, and African descent). But gold fever brought people to California from all over the country and the world. The Anglo Americans (of English, Irish, or Scots descent), other Europeans (including Italians, Russians, Greeks and East Europeans), Chinese, Japanese, African Americans, and many more who came and stayed. This changed the makeup of the state’s population making it one of the most ethnically diverse in the country. So, this cultural diversity sets the scene for later entanglements.
Most of the story takes place in the 1960s, that decade that Time Magazine recently termed “The decade that changed a generation.” So, I take the reader down memory lane as my characters encounter the major issues of the time: immigration, racial prejudice, migrant workers, gay rights, women’s rights and the Vietnam War.
This is book one in the American River Trilogy. What can readers expect in book two, American River: Currents?
In Book Two, American River: Currents, a cavalcade of disasters—both personal and public—threatens to overwhelm the scattered members of the McPhalan, Ashida, and Morales clans. Alliances fray, relationships dissolve, divisive secrets are revealed, and promises are broken as the members of three California families struggle to salvage their shattered dreams. The story follows the character’s journeys to places as distant as Cleveland, Ohio, Venice, Italy, and Kyoto, Japan. From the concert halls of Europe to the artist’s lofts of Manhattan, American River: Currents is filled with passionate and resolute characters who refuse to let go of their unique visions of success—even as life’s tumultuous currents threaten to sweep them all away.
Owen McPhalans Mockingbird Valley Ranch is still a thriving family business in 1959. But when his wife, Marian, leaves Mockingbird to follow her dream of becoming a successful artist, she ignites a firestorm that impacts the descendants of all three families. As artists, musicians, writers, and politicians inherit their immigrant parents hopes, they are torn apart by ambition, prejudice, and deception while struggling through the turbulent 1960s. From the concert halls of Europe to Kyotos ancient avenues, and Manhattans artists lofts to San Franciscos North Beach, they each learn the price they must pay in order to realize their dreams. But just as the river is drawn to the sea, they eventually find themselves pulled back to the place that forged the original link between their destiniesa place called Mockingbird.
American River: Tributaries follows three California families as the descendants of Irish, Japanese, and Mexican immigrants embark on unique journeys to pursue their dreams amid an unsettled 1960s world.
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Kate’s family has just survived the devastating loss of her brother, Julian, and she is learning that her father’s coldness toward her beloved brother could have taken a much different turn had fate not intervened. As a new mother, Kate faces many challenges. One of those challenges is finding an effective and appropriate way to handle the affection she receives from Stefan, her husband’s friend and her sister’s true love. While Kate is facing one obstacle after another as a young mother, Tommy is reeling from the loss of his mother and coping with his fiance’s mysterious illness. Not to be left out of the cast of characters meeting life head-on, Marian is learning to love herself again with the help of a much younger and virile man named Nick.
Mallory M. O’Connor’s characters are a force with which to be reckoned in American River: Currents. O’Connor has created one of the most unique blends of historical fiction and the soap operas of the 80s. This lengthy novel features three families, ethnically diverse and intertwined in each other’s lives–in some cases, too much so. The bounce back and forth between chapters gives the entire book the comfortable feel of watching episodes of a well-established soap opera.
O’Connor has, without a doubt, done the research and created amazingly accurate and detailed accounts of historical events. Each of these events is not just described but somehow affects the characters day-to-day lives. From Cesar Chavez to John F. Kennedy, she has succeeded in further bringing life to her characters by having them live through gripping and history-making events.
As O’Connor’s chapters tend to vary from one family to the next, I found that I looked most forward to those focusing on Marian and Nick. To say the two are interesting would be putting it mildly. In an otherwise heavy book, Marian and Nick’s dynamic provides much-appreciated lighthearted moments and a breather from the drama of the other family members. Marian, not without her own faults, is my favorite character. Being one of the older characters in O’Connor’s work, she is struggling to make her way as an artist and is learning to love herself again and finding that trust is something she just might be able to feel once more. Nick is just the remedy for what ails her.
I couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming amount of sadness at the relationship between Alex and Stefan. I see Alex as a strong woman who is, when it comes to personal relationships, weak and needy. The manner in which she pursues Stefan is almost pitiful. She is an interesting character indeed.
It seems like such an obvious thing to note, but I love the way O’Connor ends each chapter. Not every author currently producing books brings chapters to a nice, succinct close. O’Connor provides closure and never leaves reader hanging or feeling as if they have hit a brick wall when the new chapter quickly takes a new direction.
American River: Currents is beautifully written and consists primarily of long strings of dialogue between well-developed and easy to visualize characters. A long book but one that is an almost effortless read, American River: Currents is sure to engage readers and lead them to follow the cast of characters into the rest of O’Connor’s books in the series.
Pages: 453 | ASIN: B07BJ3XT2M
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Encore is Book 3 in the Agents of the Nevermind series brought to you by author, Tantra Bensko. Tantra Bensko does a fantastic job writing a story line that intertwines themes of history, myths, politics, psychology magic, cultism, religion and romance. A clever author that sets out to achieve a contemporary love story with a touch of Gothicism. The author does a marvellous job at blending themes and motifs together in order to build up tension and create an epic dark read. This is a book that provides everything you would expect from a psychological suspense story – guaranteed to keep you firmly on the edge of your seat.
The narrative of Encore is imaginative and unique, which allows readers to really think about the importance of different aspects of their lives. The plot of this book mostly revolves around Colin, a Bennu performance troupe’s hypnotist who abducts Susan and takes her to a castle. This weird relationship sees Colin slightly fixated with Susan’s character, pretending to be her husband to solidify their romance. However, the story unfolds with lots of twists and mysteries that are questionable to the reader. The reader is constantly left wondering what is happening and why. This is a great feeling for a reader of the paranormal genre. What more could you possibly want?
The plot throughout this book is strong, creative and imaginative. Bensko structures her book clearly and it’s easy to follow. I think that paranormal activities are apparent throughout the book, which makes for a great read. Tantra Bensko does a fantastic job at trying to write something for her readers that takes them out of their comfort zone and into something quite edgy and Gothic. Her writing is exceptional throughout the book and allows readers to fully engage with the topics being explored.
Having read this book, I believe it clearly captures the paranormal and suspense genres to an exceptionally high standard. I was hooked right from the opening chapters and was left overwhelmed and intrigued when I put the book down.
Encore is a dark read with dark characters and an ever-evolving plot. I think the author has done a great job at creating all sorts of emotions from the ideas of love as well as complete fear. This is a unique contribution to the world of Gothic literature and I look forward to reading more from this author.
Overall, Encore is an exciting and intriguing read that has opened my eyes to the world of the paranormal genre. I would recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in the paranormal world. Even if you aren’t that interested, I think it’s worth a shot, as I think you too will be impressed with the story of Encore.
Pages: 376 | ASIN: B07HQYNL7K
Tags: alibris, author, author life, authors, barnes and noble, book, book club, book geek, book lover, bookaholic, bookbaby, bookblogger, bookbub, bookhaul, bookhub, bookish, bookreads, books of instagram, booksbooksbooks, bookshelf, bookstagram, bookstagramer, bookwitty, bookworks, bookworm, cultism, dark fantasy, ebook, encore, goodreads, gothic, Gothicism, history, ilovebooks, indiebooks, kindle, kobo, literature, love story, myths, nook, novel, paranormal, politics, psychological, psychology magic, publishing, read, reader, reading, religion, romance, shelfari, smashwords, story, supernatural, suspense, tantra bensko, thriller, writer, writer community, writing