Miss Morris Must Die by Val Wilson is a mystery novel set in 1957 in Milford, England. Lady Felicity and Major Reginald Manners-Gore live in a large manor called Fig Tree Hall and they invite several guests for a murder mystery weekend. Their servants are required to take part in the fictional murder and give clues to help identify the killer. Six guests arrive, but shortly afterward, only five guests remain when one of them dies after suffering an unfortunate accident. Was it really and accident? Or was it murder?
I enjoyed the mystery and intrigue in this book. There were several hints that I picked up throughout the story which led me to suspect the answers to various aspects of the mystery before the truth was revealed, but there was enough misdirection that it kept me guessing until the end. All of this made me feel like one of the guests trying to figure out what was going on. The fictional murder mystery was intriguing although the clues sometimes lacked clear connections. However I doubt I would have solved any of the clues if I had been one of the guests, although I didn’t quite understand how the clues were supposed to lead the characters to the ‘killer’ if the weekend had gone as planned.
I liked the characters of Becca and Peter, and the way they interacted together. Several of the women especially were self-centered and cruel. I’m glad that the story ended happily for Becca and Peter.
I enjoyed the overall tension and mystery building throughout the novel. Trying to crack the clues as they came is always a fun logic puzzle. However, it seemed odd that the murder mystery weekend continued as though nothing had happened after one of the guests died. Most of the characters showed little reaction to the death except to worry that it might ruin their fun. And then a murder attempt of one of the other guests was brushed aside.
But these oddities aside, this book is a perfect fit for any mystery aficionado looking for something in the vain of an Agatha Christie novel. This is one intriguing murder mystery I would easily recommend.
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Back in the 1600s, Charles Penfield drove a girl to her death. Since then, her soul roams the world seeking revenge through generations of the same family. She strikes every few decades to cause havoc. This had come to be known as the Pennfield curse.
Decades later in 2053, Jimmy Mashimnoto-Pennfield is well aware of the family curse and is looking for ways to get rid of it. He finds a solution in time travel, something that will not exactly get rid of the curse but will divert it from him. An alternate universe is created and Professor Pennfield catches wind of this. Jimmy’s intentions could make for a direr situation for Shippy so he has to be stopped. Now the Professor remains to fight Jimmy through the time-space continuum.
The characterization in this book is exceptional and sets up some remarkably vivid characters. Each character is bespoke and continues to develop as the story progresses adding layers that make the characters interesting and engaging. Understanding the characters is easy, being that this is a complex time travel sci-fi book, I appreciated this. Jimmy is quite obviously the villain, with his selfish motivations, his character is easy to dislike but still empathize with.
This book is long and complex, but it needs to be in order to dive completely into all the ramifications of meddling with the past. There is a lot going on in this book, time travel, curses, and multiple storylines. At times I got lost, but the author masterfully brings the story together in satisfying ways that kept me engaged. The moment of realization when events in the story comes together and makes sense, for me, was satisfying.
The way the professor and Jimmy try to outwit each other with intelligent and well thought out moves is an engaging experience. They’re each smart and cunning in their own ways and I was entranced watching them clash. This is the same feeling I get when I read Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon series; intelligence used as a blade to attack and parry.
Time Framed is a suspenseful book with an absorbing story, an interesting villain, and a relatable underdog. Some parts of the book were hard to follow, but when you catch on, this book is simply addictive.
Pages: 748 | ASIN: B07DN3RNBC
Posted in Five Stars
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The Literary Titan Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and we are proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.
Gold Award Winners
Silver Award Winners
Posted in Literary Titan Book Award
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Available August 2019
A heart-wrenching and gripping tale of a family’s rise from poverty, oppression and abuse. Spanning two continents and three generations, this inspirational novel portrays the best and worst of humanity and shows how the “tiniest spark of light can overcome darkness of any magnitude,” through forgiveness, compassion, and the most powerful force in the universe – Love.
Posted in book trailer
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The Obsession is a thrilling crime novel that follows Jackie as she finds that she’s being stalked by a serial killer. What were some ideas that drove the development of this story?
Many of the stalker scenes really happened to me. It seems surreal at this point in my life, but it was terrifying and frustrating at the time. Thankfully, the murders were not true.
Jackie is a missilier in the Air Force. Why did you choose this profession as Jackie’s career?
I was one of the first female missiliers. At the time, it was the only combat role a woman could hold. The Air Force has come a long way since then. Many writers start by writing what they know. This experience was very close to home.
There is a lot of good red herrings in the book and it makes you see everyone as a suspect. Was this planned or did this happen organically while writing?
A little of both. In real life, figuring out the stalker did take a while. There were many options, and technology simply wasn’t as it is today. A phone trace was extremely complicated. There was no caller id. Some of the red herrings were added in after I got the initial draft on paper.
This is book one in the Jackie Austin Mysteries series. Where will book two find Jackie and when will it be available?
Wind the Clock is out now. In it, Jackie goes to Germany where she is working for the inspector general’s office. There is a plane crash, and the situation looks very similar to a scenario she wrote for an exercise so she gets blamed for it. She has to figure out the real culprit to get OSI off her back. (The books do not have to be read in order.)
At first, Jackie Austin tried ignoring the phone calls in the dead of the night. Fresh out of Air Force missile training and no stranger to harassment, she shrugged them off as a prank. But when the calls didn’t stop, unsigned love letters started arriving, and things in her house seemed out of place, Jackie started to worry. Were the men on base playing a trick on her or did they not realize that she wasn’t interested? And just how far would this harasser go?
In the neighboring town of Sedalia, a more ominous situation was brewing. Yet another young, single woman had been mysteriously killed in an ongoing series of grim murders. With the police on alert but without any leads, it was only a matter of time before the killer found his next victim.
Could Jackie be his next target?
Posted in Interviews
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The Silver Tabby is a wonderfully illustrated children’s book about a kitten that struggles to fit in with the other cats. What was your inspiration behind this kids book?
The Silver Tabby was initially written as a high school English assignment. At the time, the class was studying the topic of myths and fairytales, and how the stories portrayed a message or lesson to pass on to the next generation. The assignment task was to write and illustrate a story that embedded a lesson relevant to our societal paradigm. In completing the assignment, I wanted to pass on the message that differences can be beneficial, and that no-one should be judged based on their appearance of being different. I was inspired by authors such as Beatrix Potter and A. A. Milne, with their use of animal characters to portray their stories. Having a love of animals myself, I wanted to use animals in my story to spread a message of hope, kindness, and reconciliation. I also followed the commonly heard writer’s advice of “write what you know” and incorporated some of my own experiences of being considered different, spending time alone; as a result, then receiving acceptance.
Over the years, since the original high school assignment, The Silver Tabby has been redrafted and revamped, but the inspiration and passion in telling the story have remained the same. I believe that passing on the message of accepting others for who they truly are, and not enforcing sameness, is an essential lesson to teach our future generations.
Are you a cat person or a dog person (I’m guessing a cat person)? Do you have any pets that this story was based on?
I would say that I am an animal person in general, not specific to being a cat person or a dog person. However, I have had both animals as pets in the past as well as guinea pigs, and most recently, rats. I’m the type of person who will go for a walk and rescue a lost or injured animal or will visit an animal shelter and want to adopt all the animals to make sure they have a happy, loving, and safe home.
When I originally started writing The Silver Tabby, I had a short-hair silver tabby cat named Silver who the main character of the book is based on. The real Silver was born from my families’ then neighbour’s cat, who had chosen the enclosed area where our hot water tank was stored, below our Queenslander-style home, as a warm, safe place to birth her litter of kittens. The kittens were a mix of tortoiseshells, ginger tabbies, and black furred kittens; Silver was the only silver tabby. Our neighbours called Silver’s mother, Mama Cat. Mama Cat would lead the kittens between our house and the neighbour’s; Silver would venture away from the litter and come inside our house and make herself comfortable while I read. I think Silver really ended up adopting me rather than the other way round.
I loved the illustrations in this book. What was the collaboration like between you and the illustrator Grace Elliott?
Grace is fantastic to work with; I would recommend any author seeking an illustrator for their children’s book to look Grace up on Instagram. Initially, I showed Grace a draft of the text and concept of illustrations that I had drawn years ago for the high school assignment; and later digitally remastered for a later draft. Then Grace worked her magic on the artwork for The Silver Tabby. I feel I made the right decision collaborating with Grace, rather than illustrating the story myself. Grace’s artwork compliments the text and sets the scenes of the story, bringing the characters to life, in a way that I couldn’t have done myself.
As an artist, Grace was willing to accept feedback and advice from other artists, as we amended drafts, and she shared my vision as the author for how the book might look as a finished product. Most of our collaboration was done online, as I spent a lot of the last year moving intercity and overseas, Grace was very patient and understanding throughout every pause and readjustment that was made during the production of The Silver Tabby. I am very grateful to have had Grace onboard for the project, and would gladly work with Grace again.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I have a couple of concepts that I am working on at the moment. Another illustrated book that poetically portrays the epic clash between Heaven and Hell. I expect this book will be available within the next year or two. The other concept is a romantic story of undetermined length, and availability, at this stage; although I anticipate the story to evolve into a novella if not a novel.
The Silver Tabby is about a kitten named Silver who struggles with being different from the other kittens in her litter.
Then one day, Silver manages to become the same as the other kittens. Excited to meet a new friend, all the kittens play happily together. But, Silver’s disguise does not last long.
When the other kittens discover their new friend is Silver, will she still be accepted?
Posted in Interviews
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Myrrendryl is a thought provoking fantasy novel that follows Davey as he escapes to a world very different from his own. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing novel?
I came up with the idea for the novel from a thought; What if when you die, you pass completely unaware and simply dream a dream that never ends. That, coupled with a deep love for horror fiction and stories that are more than the sum of their parts.
Davey is an interesting and well developed character. What were some themes you wanted to explore with his character?
I really wanted Davey to be relatable, I wanted him to be the Everyman Hero, but even with the best of intentions, sometimes, doing the right thing is never cut and dry. I wanted him to struggle with bullying, abuse, loss, unrequited love, and being an outcast. In the end, even with the odds piled against him and despair baring it’s poisoned fangs, I needed him to make the choice that matters.
I found ‘Cardboard City’ to be fascinating and well developed. What were some driving ideals behind this and it’s backstory?
Let me answer this, with a question. Was it ever really there? Sure, it seemed like a magical place, but for all it’s glamour, couldn’t a Maytag box and a rat chewn blanket be paradise?
If it was there, it was because a common belief brought these youths together and kept them focused on a singular goal. A little paint here, some salvaged materials there and soon, they had their own community.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m currently working on a novel of the prodigal son.
James is a successful businessman in the city, but he harbors a deep secret. He is not who he says he is. A lawyer and private investigator track him down to tell him his mother is dead and her estate leaves him as the heir. Now returning to the small town he left far behind he is assailed with memories both good and bad.
But this town holds it’s own secret, and someone or something is very glad to see the son return home.
Hopefully out this year, but at the latest, it will be next.
The curtain, the veil, the void, the abyss. So many names for the mystery of the beyond. People spend a good part of their lives just wanting to lift the heavy canvas of the circus tent and take a peek inside. Eventually they’ll know, in the end, we all know, but mankind is an impatient beast. Sadly, for most, if they ever could pull aside that curtain, they would spend the rest of their lives trying to forget that they ever had.Myrrendryl tells the tale of four seemingly unconnected youth bound to one another in a way none of them could have guessed and knowing would threaten to shatter their very existence. The hands of fate appear to play them like marionettes, but are they truly controlled by fate? Or are they their own masters? A story that questions what is real, and what is the sands of dreams. A story ultimately, about the human condition and what deep down, we are willing to sacrifice.
Posted in Interviews
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The Immortal Queen is an epic fantasy novel that finds Earth on the brink of being plunged into chaos by dark forces. What was the inspiration for the setup to this story?
The main starting point for the story came from my childhood. In fact, a portion of the story was written then (before being rewritten by adult me). I spent a fair portion of my childhood holidays on Waiheke Island, in the Hauraki Gulf (North Island of New Zealand). There was a reserve that my grandparents holiday home was nestled against, which largely inspired Arcon. I would sit, with a wonderful view of Mackenzie Reserve all the way down to the bay and get lost in the forest as I built it up in my mind. That little track our family dubbed $2 corner (because my nana found $2 there) became part of the path that lead to the heart of Arcon. From there, I pictured, drew and wrote out what the village – which became a city – looked like. Then ‘She’ appeared. Endya. So, I followed her story, her life and I wrote the good the bad and the ugly. When it came to the pivotal point in the story, there were a lot of other novels and movies floating about of heroic deeds done – heroes saving the day and having a happily ever. But I knew real-life didn’t work like that. Fairy-tales are seldom true, and I also wanted to frame the story in a way that was true to the characters.
The characters in this book were interesting and well developed. What were some driving ideals behind your character development?
I wanted them to be as real as possible – hard when you are dealing with Faeries, Elves, Demons and Gods – but Gods are people too!
For both the major and the not-so-major characters – i.e. some of the Gods. I fleshed them out individually (some more than others). Their power base – for example, how their god-powers have shaped their personalities? What are their wants and needs? How do they feel about this situation? Right down to looks. For some I even wrote up quick dossiers or character sheets. (Being a Role-Player pays off sometimes).
I knew, regardless of how much ‘scene time’ they’d get, if I were writing them, they were being made ‘flesh’. That and I feel you should never leave a character, no matter how small, undeveloped – because you never know when that development is needed. A small character now might be a big character later.
What were some sources of inspiration for you while writing this book?
My first inspiration, other than Waiheke itself, was my uncle’s mother. She was an author here in New Zealand. I knew writing a book would never be easy, but the worlds and characters she created intrigued me. It was absolute pleasure and delight in having her read the first three or so chapters when I was twelve (well before the rewrite!) I remember hovering in her house, admiring the view (a little cove and ocean to the horizon) from her personal little library while she finished up reading the pages – all handwritten! She smiled and told me to keep writing because there was a story there that needed telling. It took many years, but I got it done. Sadly, she passed before she could read the final manuscript.
Robin Hobb’s Liveship Traders trilogy! The Liveship Traders: Ship of Magic (book one) was the first Fantasy novel I ever read. I was an advanced reader as a kid, and I remember wanting to get into the young adult section and every time my attempts were thwarted by the librarian who would kindly guide me back to the children’s section. Then one day I saw this book. It was hardcover, it was massive (in my eyes) and it had a picture of a fearless young lady on it standing in front of a ship. I wanted – no, needed to read that book….and it just so happened that it was on the sale table. I had much delight in standing with mum as she handed the librarian my pocket money and I got to walk out of the library with my prize. I read and reread that book (still own it) as it was years before I could find and finish reading the trilogy. There was something about the main character, her actions, the way she held herself and faced the perils. How she evolved. I guess in a way she inspired the creation of Endya.
Other inspirations ranged from some of my favourite books such Tolkien’s works (if you have Elves in your word, you need to have same knowledge of Tolkien’s work). Tad Williams Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series. And more modern series like Suzanne Collin’s Hunger Games series and Veronica Roth’s Divergent series…and because of the whole shadowy/hidden organisation, Dan Brown’s, Robert Langdon series – which I haven’t even fully read yet!
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
My next book is a complete change from The Immortal Queen. It’s called Astraque. It’s Science Fiction and it takes place in a very cyberpunk/biopunk/technologically advanced but very distorted future. But, as we all know, not all advancements are for the better. It’s about to go into the editing phase and we hope that it will be available sometime next year.
At the end of her world, a noblewoman steals a precious prize from fate. A goddess rises in the city of Sundregham as invaders from another world sweep in to burn the world to the ground. A young girl from Earth discovers she’s the final piece in a game the gods have been playing for a long time…and failure may mean the end of it all. This is the story of Endya & Elizabeth and their fight against the Darkness. This is the story of the Immortal Queen.
Posted in Interviews
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Three Burning Red Runaway Brides finds Sabrina fighting for her life as she’s trying to save millions of others. How did you envision starting this novel and how did that change as you wrote?
I had a very sturdy thread I was connecting books one and two together with, and that thread only gets stronger with book three.
I wanted to build the story to a place Sabrina had not yet been. She was on top again. The object of desire, a leader—someone people listened to and respected. She was in control, but still had this one obstacle looming in the distance. This one last thing to overcome before she could finally rest and fully enjoy her new status.
I envisioned starting this novel off with a bang… (insert smirk here). And that is exactly how I started it off. (insert giggle here).
This novel did not change much from what I envisioned. The only thing I had to decide, before I got to the end, was how to end it. I had three outcomes in my mind. And juggled them. I wrote three endings and gave them all to my editor and proofreader and a trusted friend. I wanted to see how they felt.
As it turns out, the book ends as I originally envisioned it…with a couple tweaks.
I am happy with this book. It concludes the story of Sabrina while opening the world more and beginning the story of another character. I plan on writing more books. This series, The Water Kingdom, is done. The next books will be in the other Kingdoms: Fire, Air, Earth.
We get to learn more about who Dunyasha is, her past and how she became the cursed undead. Was this something you already had developed or was it something you started exploring in this book?
The elder vampire Dunyasha was always meant to be something more. But I did not know what the was until book two: TWO POLLUTED BLACK-HEART ROMANCES. In book three, I finally spill the beans and reveal it all. At the same time, I leave a little mystery surrounding her, because she will be the focus of the next series.
Dunyasha was fun to write in THREE BURNING RED RUNAWAY BRIDES. In fact, she was more fun to write in this book than the others. In many ways, I am sad to see the “old” Dunyasha go. Or should I say see the “old” Dunyasha back?
What is a scene from the book that was particularly challenging for you to write?
The end. As I said before, I had three versions in my head. One version was much-much longer. And had an entirely different outcome. It was brutal and ugly. But I wasn’t sure readers would enjoy it. It felt right to me, but it was like taking your favorite childhood toy and selling it. Sure, you can use the money for other things you want now, but you might miss that toy and want it back. I was torn. Do I keep that ending or not?
I wrote the three endings. And rewrote them. And edited them. And rewrote them. I picked my favorite and edited it more. Added dialogue. Removed dialogue. I struggled and I normally don’t struggle at writing at all, so I knew it must have been important.
After some feedback and some time to think, I picked an ending and edited and polished it again and again.
I think in the end; my characters are all where they should be. In some ways…many ways, they get what they deserve.
Where will the next book in the series pick up and when will it be available?
This series, The Water Kingdom Series, is done. It was a trilogy. One Smoking Hot Fairy Tail. Two Polluted Black-Heart Romances and Three Burning Red Runaway Brides.
The next series will be another trilogy. The Elemental Kingdom Series. And it will have one book each for the Fire, Air, and Earth Kingdoms. These books will show how the events in the Water Kingdom have rippled across the Elemental world. Each Kingdom will have a story to tell.
I think that will bring it all to an end. But then again, I might write some supplemental short stories.
The next book will not come out until 2020-2021. I will start writing it next year. I am writing the sequel to another book right now, one you reviewed and loved, THE LIFEBLOOD OF ILL-FATED WOMEN. That sequel is long overdue. Not George R.R. long overdue…but still…way late.
Sabrina London is back! The fate of the Elemental Kingdoms rests in the hands of its newest ruler: Sabrina London. When last seen, the fairy princess had made a deal with the King of Filth to save the lives of her friends. Now she is fighting to live the life she wants while trying to save the lives of millions. A monster, more dangerous than any other she has overcome threatens both the human and non-human world. How will she restore the balance? Despite the risks, Sabrina enlists the aid of one of her people’s biggest rivals. She has spun a complex web of lies and deception, now trying to gain her freedom, unaware that everyone she allies with has their own plans.
Posted in Interviews
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Oink and Gobble and the Men in Black is a children’s story written by Norman Whaler. The story follows a duo of livestock buddies, Oink the pig and Gobble the turkey. Oink is an excitable young creature, and Gobble is more mature and a bit on the serious side. The two find some unusual things happening on the farm and Oink cannot contain his curiosity and must look for answers.
I think the story has a pretty good pace and flow for children, but seems to rise and build suspense and then end abruptly. I think there was some room for some more scenarios to play out following the “unmasking.” I did like the friendship between the pair despite their differences. I liked that the pig was overly curious while the turkey was more reserved. That made way for a nice back and forth exchange in conversation.
The illustrations were cute but the colors seemed over saturated. I think softening things up a bit would add to the playfulness of the farm. The “Men in Black” aspect felt borrowed and I was wanted to see some Oink and Gobble specific twists to the story.
I love the authors work and I think Oink and Gobble has huge potential to be something both whimsical and unique. I’d like to see Oink and Gobble in original story lines that give their relationship and whimsy potential to stand out. Overall, I enjoyed the book and I think kids will adore Oink and Gobble as they are both fun and funny.
Pages: 28 | ASIN: B07PBMNYKS
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