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AJ Wootton Author Interview

AJ Wootton Author Interview

Gardening with Guns: A Memoir details the road you traveled from childhood to adulthood. Why was this an important book for you to write?

I have wanted to be a writer since reading my first novel as a child. To me books are pure magic. As my life unfolded it became more and more clear to me that my path was quite different from the norm. I felt that others would find my story interesting and that some who had experienced similar obstacles would draw inspiration from knowing they are not alone.

I appreciated how you didn’t shy away from the dark times in your life and shared them along with the good. What were some important memories you wanted to capture?

My childhood home. I have only fond memories of that house, our yard, and our garden – in spite of the negative things that happened there. I also wanted to capture my beloved grandparents. I often attribute my perseverance to them and their unguarded love for my brothers and me. It was also very important for me to capture the trauma I experienced surrounding my father’s death. In a way it is a tribute to him.

Looking back on you life after you’ve written a memoir, is there anything that you see differently?

If I could sum it up, I would say that all of the fearful and awful memories that loomed large in the back of my mind were greatly diminished and their effect on me neutralized.

I found this book to be ultimately uplifting. What do you hope readers take away from your book?

Just that! I wanted very much to tell the good and bad and to show that you can overcome. The keys are self-reflection, honesty, forgiveness and love. Oh, and one more important one – courage! It takes courage to face your fears, but the rewards are immense!

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Gardening with Guns: A Memoir by [Wootton, AJ]

In the prime of her life, AJ seemingly has it all – a successful career, three thriving children and a marriage that spans two decades. Her hard-fought, adult life beams bright and in sharp contrast to the dark, gun-wielding, serial-parent changing, and starkly silent world she grew up in.

On the heels of her father’s sudden and tragic death, AJ finds herself questioning the life she has so carefully architected. Estranged from her mother, she seeks comfort in the revival of her relationship with her two brothers, all that remain of her childhood nucleus. The three siblings find themselves in a sad, yet familiar place as they bond in the midst of their loss, and relive together similar times from the turbulent and siloed childhood they shared.

In the months following her father’s funeral, AJ’s reminiscences compel her to see her current circumstances through a fresh lens. Concerns that her husband is leading a secret life turn from suspicion to fact as the void in their relationship widens, creating a troubling likeness between her marriage and the dysfunctional relationships she witnessed as a child. She struggles with the decision to honor her intuition and end her failing marriage, but the consequences of divorce still loom ominously in her memory. She realizes that she can no longer deny her buried past, nor its implications on her current situation.

This is a fascinating true story of one woman’s journey to overcome childhood trauma, and to listen to the inner voice that she has been ignoring for years. Written as a novel, her memoir traverses past and present, all the while painting vivid pictures of both her childhood and adult worlds, the similarities of which have become too numerous to ignore.

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Stories of the Mother Bear – Trailer

In Jackson, Wyoming, a cache of documents discovered in a deceased resident’s attic confirms a childhood vision journalist Bill Larkin experienced while on a camping trip in Grand Teton National Park. Learning his memories of a mother grizzly, who transforms the lives of those who cross her path, were not imaginary, Bill embarks on a life journey, intertwining his autobiographical Stories of the Mother Bear with current events; foremost, the Vietnam War and its aftermath.

The deceased, Rufus Headrick, and his family were black cowboys. His grandfather, a freed slave, kept a journal from his days as a Texas cattle hand through the family’s ever-westward travels to Teton. Portrayed is a large, engraved brass key, yet to be found, which a Kiowa youth gave Rufus’ father along the Chisholm Trail. Who is the estate’s rightful heir? And what connection does the Headrick Family have with the Mother Bear?

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Genesis: The Infinity Series Vol. 2

Genesis (The Infinity Series Book 2) by [Westbay, Bellamy]

A genesis is a beginning: a source, a founding moment. Though Bellamy Westbay’s Genesis is the second volume in the Infinity Series, readers will have no doubt that this tome marks a beginning. The odyssey opens with the beguiling Gwen in grave danger. Though angel Alex is the only being, mortal or celestial, who can ultimately save her, the antidote for her current troubles comes from a source seemingly bent on her demise. Follow Alex, Gwen, and Jasper on an epic journey through a bewitching multiverse, one haunted by evil forces, fantastical creatures, and a series of confounding quests.

In this odyssey of good versus evil, of human nature and the divine, Westbay tackles love, lust, and redemption. She also explores motivations more primal: eternal enmity, darkest jealousy, and destructive cunning. Westbay’s storytelling moves at a heady pace, switching between the questing trio and Gwen’s best friend, facing her own predicament. The book is surprisingly sparse in some places—a run-in with an eloquent dragon comes to mind—but delves deeper in others, offering vibrant descriptions of other universes and their inhabitants, including ethereal Callidora and Eva with her siren song. Vivid details aside, the plot is the star of this show and Westbay moves it forward with skill.

And what an intriguing plot it is. Genesis operates where divine beings move among mere mortals. At first I struggled with a Cinnabon-eating angel but I was quickly won over by Alex’s supernatural powers, very human weaknesses, and impressive wingspan. He is simultaneously angsty and arch. For a celestial being and polyglot to boot, he can be frustratingly obtuse: he knows little of human nature and often his epiphanies land with a thud. Even so, he captivates readers as the boulder-smashing, beast-slaying hero of our story.

If Alex is Odysseus on an epic journey and Eva a Siren, Gwen is Helen of Troy. Though not exactly “the face that launched a thousand ships”, Gwen is certainly the being that launched a thousand cherubic fantasies. The amorous undertones in Genesis know no bounds: whilst Gwen clings to life, both the misguided Jasper and the ardent Alex lust after her. Readers feel relief when Gwen revives and apprehension as death draws near. This epic journey is exhilarating and well-told. Westbay is a true storyteller with a gift for weaving familiar themes into a fascinating new world.

Pages: 414 | ASIN: B07DXP2Y8D

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Leather Horizons – Trailer

Misty Briscoe is ready to gracefully bow out of her successful career and bow in to an uncertain future. But her choices may result in a turning, twisting leap of faith.

Strength is one thing, courage another. Just ask Misty Briscoe. Her dignity has taken a beating the last couple of month’s She’d found herself at a crossroads of staying put in her career or returning home where her family needs her.

If only the choice wasn’t so complex.

Her workplace predicament with her married boss and her successful job in Chicago are anything but stress free. Yet, back home in southwestern Michigan, her beloved grandmother has recently passed, and now her grandfather has disappeared. Add to that, Misty’s best friend needs her support in the most unlikely of circumstances.

In the end, will she remain in the big city where she’s worked hard to attain a career or give it up and begin again at home where she has a sense of belonging?

From the spectrum of executive boardrooms to shadowy blue collar bars, secluded beaches, and dense woods, follow Misty on her challenging journey to find peace of mind, contentment, and a place among loved ones.

The saga takes a hard look at life from the classified agendas of friends, lovers, families, and enemies to the ultimatums behind closed doors. Come along for the ride through the avenues of indiscretion, loneliness, hope, secrets, courage, love, deceit, and integrity into LEATHER HORIZONS.

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The Labyrinthine Journey

The Labyrinthine Journey (Servant of the Gods Book 2) by [Cavallaro, Luciana]

Evan is a normal twenty-first century man who works as an architect. However, to interrupt his daily routine, none other than Zeus himself, has decided to transport Evan to the sixth century BCE. Evan now travels across ancient Greece with his companions, including Atlanteans, a high priestess, and his friend, Dexion, who has the power to see into the future. All of this is for a mighty cause, Evan has been chosen by Zeus to unite two powerful relics in order to save the Gods from extinction.

Stuck in the sixth century BCE Evan longs to return home. Given his precarious position between times, the juxtaposition of his wants against his reality serves to highlight the stark differences between the comfort of home that Evan is used to and what he is currently facing. For instance, walking across a sandy plain in sandals verses the want for a motorbike to make short work of the distance. His modern life’s influence over his worldview often leaves him homesick, but he must complete his mission. On the other hand, his life back home gives him ways to solve the problems he faces in the sixth century BCE, taking ideas from the pop-culture of his own time and bringing them into the past to aid his quest. This fusion of time periods makes for some brilliant innovations and cross-overs between what we as the reader understand to be ancient Greece, and the modern day.

The Labyrinthine Journey is book two in Luciana Cavallaro’s Servant of the Gods series and it follows on fluently with the events of the previous book with references here and there to book one. Something striking about the series is the relationship between mortals and Gods. With whole chapters dedicated to the musings of God’s and their society it gives the reader an insight into their intentions. Furthermore, the book proposes an alternative viewpoint on the beginnings of Christendom. The Greek Gods fear that they will lose their dominance in light of a God-sent child being born that will potentially lead to the widespread belief in a single God instead of the current pantheon.

This retelling of the birth of Christ from the God’s perspective explains why Zeus wants the relics united – to maintain his and the other Gods’ significance. However, there are some Gods trying to interfere with the mission and stop Evan’s and his companions’ journey. Evan searches ancient Greece, already in possession of the first relic, for the second to unite the two. The perilous journey over a treacherous landscape naturally reminds one of the epics of Homer.

The Labyrinthine Journey was a thoroughly enjoyable read. I give it five out of five for its sophisticated and inventive retelling of the well-known and widespread story of Christ and its ability to connect it to the overarching quest narrative seamlessly. Luciana Cavallaro’s prose fits the story perfectly, making the journey truly epic. Furthermore, the fusion of God’s, monsters, ancient philosophers, magical ancient relics and even time travel, leads to unexpected twists and turns throughout the novel.

Pages: 311 | ASIN: B075QGZQP9

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A Dot You Are

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A Dot You Are takes readers on a trip through the protagonist’s journey to rediscover his relationship with his long-lost father (and himself). What parts of himself are the results of his father’s actions when Antoni was just a child? Which parts were created through his own life choices and experiences? Our protagonist comes back to a long-lost world that is in direct juxtaposition from the one he was educated in and eventually realizes that he may not have ended up quite as far from his roots as he once thought.

For anyone who enjoys poetic storytelling full of imagery and metaphor, A Dot You Are, written by Manjula Wediwardana and then translated into English by Dilini Eriyawala, should certainly quench their thirst. The author does well to bring the reader into each of the compelling scenes throughout the story, but leaves plenty of room for the imagination to take over.

Antoni (protagonist) is on a mission to find his estranged father but has limited knowledge of where and how to find him. The village that he must go to on his search does, in fact, turn up the man he is looking for, but he finds many other things as well. Antoni’s journey back to the fishing village awakens certain aspects of his personality which then creates more questions than he had before. Duality is ever-present throughout the story which is a fact that serves Antoni’s role in the story well. He is an outsider with a deep connection to the village. Where there is divinity, there is also the mundane. Where there is warmth, there is also a sense of indifference and hostility. The author captures the nature of the world quite precisely while at the same accentuating the drama that makes it interesting and fun.

The beauty, the hardships, the simplicity, and complex human interactions all make up the experience of the fishing village. The examples of scenery that are described are so vivid that one can get a clear sense of the place. Having visited many fishing villages throughout Sri Lanka, I can say that the reader will finish this book with a deep understanding of what life for a Sri Lankan fisherman is like, what the village looks like, and how the daily activities of everyone unfold.

The atmosphere of A Dot You Are is aided by the language used throughout the story. Not only is there a heavy focus on a poetic approach focused on extracting beauty from everyday situations, but there are also phrases and manners of speech that can only be found throughout India and Sri Lanka. It is not overdone, however, and the reader can easily get a feel for the colourful personalities that make up the story. All in all, it is a magnificent read that has a bit of everything.

Translated into English by Dilini Eriyawala

Skeins

Skeins by [Richa Gupta]

Skeins by Richa Gupta is the story of a large group of globe-trotting Indian women who take a trip to see the sights in Spain and Portugal. The women are similar in heritage, but vary widely in age and experience. Even though they are from the same general area, they also differ in culture and socio-economic status. As the women grow closer, they let each other into their personal lives. They confide in each other and share secrets, regrets, hopes, and dreams. However, it’s not one big happy slumber party. Some of the women find some serious trouble along their journey.

Overall, Skeins was a pretty easy read. The grammar and sentence structure is impeccable. I didn’t find any errors at all. If anything, there were only a few turns of phrase that only suggested that the author’s roots were different than my own. That’s not a bad thing.

If I have any complaint, it’s that the cast of characters was very large. I found it hard, at times, to keep the names of characters and their story lines straight. There seemed to be so much going on at once between all of the background stories.

I enjoyed the diversity of the characters. I especially enjoyed the diversity paired with the camaraderie that the women enjoyed. They came from all walks of life, different social classes, and different customs to form one big, instant family. They seemed to get along very well. They will make readers hope for these kinds of quickly formed but long lasting friendships.

Readers will also identify with the problems that the women face. They discuss the not-so-perfect aspects of their lives without giving the story too heavy of a feel. The story doesn’t bog down or get lost in their troubles. They simply state what’s going on in their lives, but characters don’t seem to dwell too much for the most part. For a story that deals with adultery, a crime ring, decades old grudges, etc., it is a decidedly uplifting tale. The women tackle their problems instead of becoming victims of circumstance.

I liked that Gupta showed the women as strong, powerful, and independent. None of them were “just a wife” or “just a mother.” None of them were leaning too hard on anyone but themselves. In a country where women aren’t generally in hierarchical positions, it was refreshing to see these women being so self-sufficient. Still, they walked the line between traditional arranged marriages and living their dreams, while sometimes doing both with one foot in each world. They seek out independence, their wildest dreams, and love all at once.

The book feels light-hearted in nature. I enjoyed that combination woven with real-life issues. I enjoyed the cultural journey following the women from India touring the Iberian Peninsula. The characters felt real. I’d love to see one of the characters step forward to star in a sequel.

Pages: 312 | ASIN: B07HP6ZPYM

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The Journey Down South

Mia Kingslie Author Interview

Mia Kingslie Author Interview

Survivors of the Sun is a thrilling post-apocalyptic adventure story following Georgia as she struggles to keep her family safe in a new dangerous world. What was the inspiration for the setup to this novel?

Inspiration for the book came while I was living in an isolated farming community sixteen miles from the township where I had my Jewelry Studio. At one point I was cut off, with one other family, for ten days by raging flood waters. We were not prepared. None of us were able to get into work or school. There was no internet, no phone, no electricity and absolutely no means of communication with the outside world. Both households pooled their food and the kids and dogs ran wild. Even so, it was a wonderful time and it led me to think of how different it would have been if something similar had occurred in a large city.

Georgia starts the story as a happy wife and mother, and manages to survive several obstacles by her will and determination. What were some themes you wanted to capture in her character?

Firstly that she was not a well prepared, gun totting superhero. She was a normal woman, in an average household confronted with the unexpected and the unthinkable. I wanted her to have her failings, insecurities, and self-doubt; as well as a strong set of values, showing her inner need, despite the situation, to remain honest. I also wanted to reveal her developing relationship with the children and how her steadfast influence, determination and loyalty encouraged the positive development of those around her.

This is an entertaining post-apocalyptic story; did you start writing with this in mind or did the story develop organically as you wrote?

It was always going to be a post-apocalyptic story, but I did not have a plot. When I started writing I knew about as much as the characters did, and it seemed to me that they took over and led me on the journey down South.

What is the next novel that you are working on and when will it be available?  

It is a sequel to Survivors of the Sun and I am planning to have it ready by May 2019.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter

Survivors of the Sun: A post-apocalyptic thriller by [Kingslie, Mia]Georgia was not a survivalist and she did not have a bug out plan. She was a happily married woman, at home with three children and their Boston Terriers. In an instant everything changed. The power went off, and no-one knew why. By nightfall, Nathan, her husband had still not returned. In time, the water stopped running. With only three days of food left in the house and dwindling water supplies, she has no choice but to flee Kansas City.

Their world changes dramatically, entering a post-apocalyptic age, with looting, rioting and violence becoming the norm. As they escape across country, Georgia has to overcome her fears and keep her loved ones safe. Together they face heart wrenching decisions as they encounter the inconceivable.

Their journey leads them through a harsh new reality. The struggles and hardships that they endure, threaten their very existence, testing their loyalty, fortitude and love for each other in ways they could never have imagined.

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The Hunt for the Three Roses

The Hunt for the Three Roses (The Three Roses Trilogy Book 2) by [Hubbard, Jason]

Callie and Kane have escaped from the King Hugo’s realm but have been conscripted into the army. Here they hide, Kane posing as a common mage and Callie is put to work in the maid’s camps. With them is Jonas, one of the three roses that Master Cypher was searching for. While the war effort is continuing Jonas reveals to Callie he can see visions of the future, he tells her he must go save Kane or he will die. She rushes out to find Kane and they escape what turns out to be a massacre of all the mages in the camp. After this they find Master Cypher escaping the area with Jonas and he offers to let Kane and Callie join him on his journey to Lonsaran, the neighboring kingdom. Entering the new land, Kane changes his name to Sean McAlister and presents himself as a commoner / mage. Now Sean and Callie must look to make new lives in this land while keeping an eye on Jonas till he can be safely delivered to the king in Asturia. Along the way Callie’s past comes back to haunt her and they must figure out how to survive.

Jason Hubbard’s The Hunt for the Three Roses while a continuation of the previous novel is still able to stand alone and not confuse a new reader too much. It is a long book and some sections drag out and feel like page filler rather than moving the plot along. Aside from that, the actual story line is engaging and the character development, I feel, is enhanced from previous works by Hubbard. I enjoy the relationship dynamic between the characters. Sean’s caring nature is apparent, and you see him grow from a spoiled, selfish nineteen-year-old, into a mature father figure with Jonas. His relationship with Callie is back and forth as both can’t seem to figure out what they really want in life and what direction they want to go in. Both end up in the service of Count Guyver; and seem to fit well into their new rolls. But Rainer, an assassin from the prior novel, is still alive and determined to torment Callie. Even Rainer’s character development is well done, he is dark and calculating. His personality plays well against Sean’s more innocent and desire to be good personality. Callie falls in the middle always conflicted about if she wants to lead a life of good or descend into the underworld of crime again. This conflict makes her character so interesting and makes you want to keep reading to see how things will develop.

The world in which all this takes place is similar to Medieval times Europe. They have a strong religious belief in the life of Micah and the book of Micah. The principals are not all the different from our Bible and Jesus teachings. The difference is their religion includes magic and mages as part of the world of good. A lot of effort went into building the world Hubbard created and it shows in the details of the manor, the ways of the country men, and the secretes that the characters hold. This novel sets up things well for the next installment of the Three Roses and I look forward to seeing how this story line concludes.

Pages: 404 | ASIN: B07HHX5ZLP

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The Twisted Crown

The Twisted Crown by [Richmond Bunkley, Anita]

The Twisted Crown​, the newest historical fiction novel by Anita Bunkley is a fascinating look into the post-Civil War South. Focused on the story of a free black woman from the North, Eva Phillips takes advantage of the abolition of slavery in the South to embark on a treacherous journey to South Carolina to try to find the mother who gave her a chance at freedom as a child. Along her way, readers meet a captivating cast of characters ranging from cunning professional gamblers to complex carpetbaggers to innocents turned corrupt by hardship. Eva has to navigate a part of the country decimated by the bitterest of fighting as it struggles to regain its footing. And like Eva, readers will never know if the character with the checkered past they just met will be someone who can be trusted or or who will surprise them with an unexpected betrayal.

Along the way she meets up with Chicago lawyer and profiteer Trent Hartwell who, against the recommendations of his new Charleston acquaintances, offers to help Eva in her quest. Although he came to the South to benefit from the financial opportunities blossoming in the wake of so many people’s misfortunes, he can’t quite understand the unwritten rules governing the South about the proper roles of white people and black people and why there should be any difference.

This book also sheds light on the important and dangerous work that took place during this time by black activists to promote equal participation in government for all races. This work made many who benefited from the pre-war social structure very angry and prone to violence, so the lobbying had to be done secretively.

While the story is solid and flows well, I thought that the characters and dialogue lacked some depth. This book kept me very engaged, however. The quick pace, many edge-of-your-seat situations, and several sultry moments kept me reading along without any lulls.

I also came away with a much clearer understanding of what life in the South was like after the Civil War for both whites and blacks. I didn’t know the depth of poverty freed slaves were faced with and this book provided a very interesting example of the creative and sometimes unfortunate ways that people used to survive and start a new life. Anita Bunkley is famous for writing stories that show what a famous period in history was like from the perspective of black women, and I really appreciated having the opportunity to experience this after so many other Reconstruction books (Gone With the Wind, That Bright Land, ect.) only focus on the white experience. This is important because, clearly, this was a period where the African-American experience is integral to understanding the situation appropriately.

I highly recommend joining Eva on her exciting voyage to the land of her birth and learning more about the United State’s most interesting periods of history in ​The Twisted Crown ​by Anita Bunkley.

Pages: 336 | ASIN: B07G7GPX2F

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