In A Curse of Silver and Blood, by Kimberly A. Banks, the mystery begins in Charleston South Carolina in the sweltering heat of July. Elijah is attending his best friend and brother, Owen’s funeral. He’s told Owen committed suicide, and this shocks Elijah more than anyone can understand. Elijah is a psychic and has been since his father died when he was a child. He experiences ghostly shadows and visions of the dead that terrify him. He even sees Owen’s ghostly form, but as always, he tells no one. Elijah knows in his heart that Owen was murdered and had not committed suicide. Now he must uncover the killer of his best friend.
Author Kimberly Banks is a truly gifted writer who portrays Elijah as an intriguing character we can sympathize with. The reader experiences the heart-wrenching pain he’s enduring. We also understand his special gift of being a psychic, as it is portrayed in an interesting way that feels authentic. Another thing I really enjoyed about A Curse of Silver and Blood was the chapter length. Each chapter was concise and ends in a way that makes you want to keep reading, making it very difficult to find a good place to put the book down. A real page-turner. Banks also describes the settings of Charleston and Beaufort South Carolina as well as Savannah Georgia in great detail so that we are immersed in the locations. The reader feels the intolerable humidity, dampness, and moldy smells indigenous to the southern states.
I found myself absorbed by the realistic characters Banks created. The authentic, well-developed dialogue among the characters and smooth narration keeps the story flowing. Unlike those who doubt Elijah’s claim that Owen was murdered, I found myself captivated and believing in the urgency of finding Owen’s killer.
A Curse of Silver and Blood is a thrilling dark fantasy novel that will appeal to crime fiction fans looking for a paranormal backdrop to a stimulating murder mystery.
Pages: 352 | ASIN: B09DK59M57
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A Gilded Death by Cecelia Tichi is a riveting historical romance novel with a dash of mystery. Set in The Gilded Age in the United States, the reader is plunged into the world of the affluent society of the time. Georgina Brush, Cassandra Forster’s beloved aunt and the heiress to the Brush fortune, dies at an annual ball under odd circumstances. The death of Georgina’s daughter months later under identical circumstances oblige Mr. and Mrs. DeVere, Cassandra’s family by affection, to investigate the murders and prevent a third horrific murder from taking place.
In addition to the historical events depicted in this enthralling whodunit novel, the author uses ample details to show the manners and attitudes of the society at the time, from the fashion and lifestyle of the ladies and gentlemen, to their conversation, and their greed for power and wealth. An eight-plume funeral in the novel proclaiming the great wealth of the deceased epitomizes the avaricious age to which Cecelia Tichi transports readers.
Despite the somewhat serious plot, there is humor, imagery of nature, and irony in the novel. I had to lookup a few terms, historical events, and names of people in history such as Lucrezia Borgia. While I was not familiar with these things overall I certainly appreciated the attention to detail and found that it made the novel feel authentic. Upon looking at the age and events, however, they all began to make sense in the complex plot. This novel is very well characterized, with extravagant clothing, expressions, and mannerisms. The vivid description of elaborate dinner parties and décor is fascinating as well.
While I enjoyed the story, I felt the pace was a bit slow. Although I did feel that the pacing gave time for the development of events and provided a realistic touch to the novel, I felt like some of the conversations between characters seemed redundant. But this does not detract from an otherwise impassioned mystery novel.
A number of aspects of The Gilded Age are examined in the novel, including the exclusion of women from law-making, and the importance of etiquette to the gentlemen and women, the lack of which was met with a scoff. A Gilded Death has an engaging and eventful storyline up until the very end. This is a dramatic story that will appeal to sleuth fans looking for a historical setting to a stirring murder mystery.
Pages: 354 | B09BNRVZZM
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Ninety-Five follows an average college student who uncovers a malicious criminal network that is scamming students and luring them into more and more crimes. He soon learns that this is only the tip of a dark and nefarious criminal network at work on the dark web.
The story starts with a new college student, Zak Skinner, who is stressed out by the usual things a student faces in their life; failed subjects, struggles with studying, and a search for opportunities to blow off steam. In Zak’s case, he went for an innocent drug trip, taking ayahuasca and getting high. What he did not anticipate was that he would be trapped in not only one but two illegal crime rings, unique and devious in their own way.
Author Lisa Towles’s writing style is perfectly suited for this crime thriller, and very detailed as well as graphic. I loved how she builds Zak up in a way that he deduces things on his own, because he is very smart and perceptive, but he also knows his own limits. This unique balance sets Zak up as a character that is intriguing and fun to follow. This is an engrossing technothriller with some cryptography in the story which reminded me of Dan Brown’s Digital Fortress. I love the science fiction aspects of the plot. We get to explore the dark web in some refreshing ways and are dragged through this dark underworld that has a persistent air of intrigue. A special mention of all the Harry Potter references; I laughed at each moment.
Ninety-Five is a riveting crime thriller that has a unique enough setup to stand out in the college fantasy genre. When I started the book I got the sense that the narrative was leaning more fantasy, but by the end it was a captivating mix of crime fiction and technothriller.
Pages: 244 | ASIN: B099SYTJWQ
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Tokyo Zangyo follows Detective Hiroshi into Tokyo’s intense corporate world to solve the mystery of the death of a top executive. What inspired you to take Hiroshi into Tokyo’s corporate world in this novel?
The news is filled with stories of suicides from overwork, depression from work-related stress, many forms of harassment, the job-quitting rate. The large companies in Japan have long wielded tremendous power all through society. It affects everything. My students, for example, devote most of their energy in the last year and a half of university to getting into a company. They skip classes for interviews, ask for extensions on assignments, and generally freak out, all in the pursuit of a good job. I’ve heard some startling and sad stories from my students about their experiences after they’ve started working. When classmates get together after they graduate and start working, they often invite me to come along. It’s great to see them mature and grow into their lives. But also, after a few drinks, the truth about their workplaces comes out. More often than not, the truth is pretty grim. The Japanese dream is to get a job in one of the big companies, and there’s a powerful and impressive side to Tokyo’s corporate world, of course, but the downside is more of the focus in this novel.
What were some ideas that were important for you to personify in your characters?
One of the ideas is about the importance of work, its centrality to our lives. Many Japanese build lives around working and working only, so that they get cut off from other facets of life. It’s a kind of religion in some ways, or at least a set of sincerely held beliefs. The characters in the novel are pressured by those ideas and controlled by them. Japanese workplaces are very authoritarian in some ways, but quite democratic in others. As in all societies, some things work phenomenally well, but others are not very healthy. So, the novel explores those kinds of ideas through the characters and looks at the intensity of workplace pressure. What can that do to people?
How did the idea for the character’s motives come to fruition for you?
I think that almost all people want to be treated with respect at work and also to succeed. So, those are basic motives. They want to fit in and contribute, which is a strong motive in Japanese culture, but they also want to be themselves, to live freely. So, those conflicting motives can become very, very complicated. The characters in Tokyo Zangyo want a lot of things, but the system wants a lot of things from them in return. So, those conflicting motives are not easy to negotiate, and can drive people to extremes—suicide, murder, mental illness, and very strange ways of coping. The inner dynamic of the novel is having to figure out how to handle the pressure of work.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
The story revolves around an international marriage in Tokyo. In Japan, after a divorce, custody of the children is usually awarded to the wife, and the husband can be denied all rights of visitation. Child abduction has become an issue as well, with one parent abducting the children and then fighting it out in the courts for years. And when there’s not enough money, or too much money, things can get a lot worse. It will be out in the summer of 2022.
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Micromium follows a team of astronauts and specialists to investigate a mining accident on Mars, but they uncover some startling secrets along the way. What were some sources that informed this novella’s development?
I’m not a scientist nor do I have scientific training. Therefore, I had to read several books about the red planet. I also watched a few NASA video documentaries about Mars.
What challenges did you set for yourself as a writer with this book?
The real challenge lay in imagining the backdrop of the story on Mars. The research I did on the planet helped to fill in the blanks. Writing the novel definitely stretched my imagination to the max.
Where did you get the idea for Micromium?
The idea came to me in a dream. I remember seeing a glowing piece of ore in a cut-away view of an asteroid. I had read something about mineral mining on asteroids, the Moon, and Mars.
What do you enjoy the most about writing novellas?
Novellas are what’s happening for me lately. Currently, I’m writing a novella series that will contain at least three books. The three books together will comprise a good-sized novel, but they will also be separate stand-alone stories that readers can enjoy in any order.
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A Spell of Rowans follows a family who must deal with the dangerous aftermath of their mother’s death while carrying the scars of their childhood. What were some sources that informed this novel’s development?
Unfortunately, I grew up in a home where physical abuse of my brothers by my father was the norm. While none of my experiences are to the extreme seen in this story, I think the scenes in the book feel very real because of drawing upon that background. I also come from a large family with three brothers and a sister, so writing about sibling experiences, the guilt and shame (“survivor guilt”) is something I know firsthand.
The character of Liam, who presents as learning disabled in the story, is from my experiences of having two grown sons, both with ADHD. My oldest had many problems in public school because of the administration not understanding how to handle his learning disability. I’ve worked with doctors, teachers, principals, and counselors to get my kids’ help, and have experienced the frustration of trying to navigate a system that is simply out-of-date with what we know now about how kids learn.
I’ve also donated my time to several non-profits that are about early childhood development and working towards child abuse prevention.
On a completely different note, I’ve worked as a reporter covering government meetings, schools, and crime, so have lived in a lot of small towns, exactly like Grimsby. The streets, the police force, and the history of Grimsby are pulled from these life experiences.
What were some ideas that were important for you to personify in your characters?
It was really important to me for the sibling connection between Phillipa (the oldest), Victoria (our protagonist), and Liam (the youngest “baby” of the family) to feel real. I wanted their interaction to be something the reader would go “oh yeah, that’s exactly how my siblings would act.” Their connection to each other, almost knowing what the other needs, but also being defensive about past events, was really important to me to get right.
Phillipa, as the oldest, was the one who broke away first, and is successful, but at what cost to herself? Victoria, perhaps has the most realistic perspective of both parents. She is caught between guilt for leaving, but also knowing that she had no other choice but to save herself. Liam, the one left behind, is the least functional adult (as we classify it), and has his lack of self-worth and self-destructive traits to deal with.
Despite all of their differences, all three still feel a strong family bond.
How did you balance magic and its use throughout the story to keep it believable?
A Spell of Rowans is in a contemporary setting and I knew I wanted the magic to be something they could use every day, but not be a cure-all, miracle worker.
I did not want the magic to be something you would see in a television series like Charmed or Sabrina. As I keep telling my husband, there will be no “wave the magic wand and the cupcakes dance.” Magic was going to be gritty and problematic, but for the characters who had it and the ones who loved them.
Phillipa has a talent for making people immediately like her – charisma. Something you see in some television and movie star actors. She has leveraged this to make a successful career as a realtor.
Meanwhile, Victoria, as an empath, can sense other people’s emotions. As a character, I wanted to showcase someone who could know another person from the inside-out, but was also rather oblivious to her own emotions. I wanted to write about an empath that, maybe because of her knowledge, had to fight against getting involved with people in order to save her own sanity.
Liam’s psychometry, the ability to read objects, not only makes him appear strange to outsiders, but was the talent most twisted to evil purposes by his mother.
I wanted the magic to be something that was used every day and was an essential part of the personality of each character.
Magic also had to have strict limits and not be something that solved the character’s problems or revealed the mystery.
This is a pet peeve of mine, when magic acts as the deux de machina. I also call this issue the K-9 problem from the robotic dog in Doctor Who that always came in at the last minute to save everyone from the corner the writer had painted them into.
At one point in the story (no spoiler!), a spell to reveal their mother’s killer doesn’t go as expected. Real magic isn’t that simple and never will be.
What is the next book that you are working on, and when will it be available?
I’ve got several projects in the works right now. One is the last book in my College Fae series called Storm of Songs. This will wrap up the story about my fae dryad attending an European university alongside human students. I hope to have that out in 2022, but it is still very much in the first draft stage.
I’m also working on a new series about a lady detective where the heroine is a Ghost-Talker, someone who can speak with the dead. It will be high fantasy, set in a mythical land similar to the early 1900’s Europe.
The best way to know about my projects is to join my newsletter https://byrdnash.com/wp_quiz/what-reader/ (you also get a free book!). Or join the private Fan group I have on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/261465228565349/ as I announce a lot of projects under development and time schedules there. Also, those followers get the first chance to be a Beta readers or ARCS of my books.
Free books, behind-the-scenes, and new reads at ByrdNash.com
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Rogue Justice follows two detectives as they hunt down a vigilante serial killer who is cutting a bloody swathe through a small town. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
I’ve always enjoyed the dynamic of country towns. People have a strong connection to the area and the people around them. It was this concept I wanted to highlight and exploit. A killer amongst them has people looking over their shoulder believing they could be next. If the setting was across densely populated areas, I didn’t feel it would have had the same impact. Safety in numbers as they say – I didn’t want that!
Detectives Englund and Hicks are intriguing and well developed characters. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?
I wanted the reader to get a deeper understanding of the person behind the badge. Their profession is one thing, but what makes up the sum of them can be completely different. While they share a common goal in their policing, how they achieve it is often a source of debate between the two. By providing a backstory to such contrasting characters, I feel allows them to evolve with the narrative and broaden the story. I love characters who you feel invested in their exploits.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
Rogue Justice is a brutal and unrelenting story of revenge. Many believe there is more emphasis placed on the rehabilitation of criminals than there is consideration to the victim. I take this notion and amp it to eleven. There is also a strong sense of isolation, whether it be remote locations or the feeling of utter helplessness at the hands of a sadistic killer. The sense of unease permeates throughout the story. I also wanted to instill some levity into the narration as a sort of reprieve. I didn’t want to continually bang the reader over the head with blood and violence, although there is a lot of that! The crux of the story needed to draw you in and keep you there on its merit.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’ll be leaving a rural setting in Australia and broadening my horizons across the USA. Whereas Rogue Justice took up a few broad strokes in terms of setting, this one will cover the entire canvas. A bounty hunter gets caught up in a bank heist and kills the son of a notorious crime boss. The chase is on…While my current focus is promoting Rogue Justice, I’ll soon start cranking the wheels of the publication process to get another book into the hands of those that have enjoyed my debut novel, and hopefully, pick up a few new stragglers along the way.
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Stolen Lives follows a team of FBI agents on a kidnapping case that has been hard to crack, and Kelliher realizes that someone on his team may be in on it. What were some sources that informed this novel’s development?
I spent a great deal of time on research, including the FBI website, the Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and various law enforcement sites. I interviewed several individuals who were critical to this novel’s success: Police Chief Jamie Graff (one of my characters in my book, though in my books he is a detective), and James Dahlke, a Forensic Scientist. I interviewed and received help from Jay Cooke and Dave Mirra, who are (Dave has since retired) working in IT and Technology.
Mostly, this book is based upon my work as an adjunct educator with the Wetterling Foundation, who works with missing and exploited families, and educates the public on keeping children safe. I also based it upon my work as a counselor, and though this book is fiction, it is heavily based upon fact: stories I heard from kids and parents in my counseling office and the work with the families of missing children. Heartbreaking and tragic. Still angers and saddens me.
Did you plan the mystery at the heart of this story, or did it develop organically while writing?
I am a “pantser.” I don’t plan ahead. I knew the story I wanted to tell, but I let it unfold in its own way. Typically, it isn’t until I am nearing the end of any book when the actual ending “comes” to me.
What scene in the book did you have the most fun writing?
This is a dark book, but I enjoyed the kids’ interaction with each other. I enjoyed the kids standing up to the adults and their willingness to speak their mind to them. Specifically, I enjoyed it when the ones needing to be held accountable were held accountable. I believe in justice, even if life doesn’t always have a Disney ending.
This is book one in your Lives Trilogy. What can readers expect in book two?
There were several loose ends in Stolen Lives. Several of the “bad guys” got away. But a sizeable portion of the next two books, besides catching the “bad guys” is how these missing kids, some of whom were missing and abused for more than a year, reintegrate back into their families. How do they get along without their informal “kid” network? What happens within the family? I answer those questions.
Lastly, George, Brett, Tim, and the Twins (Randy and Billy) play huge roles in Stolen. So, what happens to them? What are their lives like now?
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