Claimed by Rafa is book two in your Raiden Warriors sci-fi series. What were some ideas that you wanted to introduce in this book that were different from book one?
In book 1, Claimed by Nicolai, I focused mainly on Raiden society, a patriarchal society. The warriors have been raised to appreciate females, but not necessarily respect them. When she is claimed against her will, Abby begins to show their prince the error of their ways—though she’s aware that nothing so set in stone like this will be easily changed. We begin Claimed by Rafa in much the same way, with Aaliyah, Abby’s best friend, being claimed against her will. In Rafa’s case, I’d hoped to not only get through to him how wrong it was to claim a female without getting her permission first, but to learn to empathize with Aaliyah’s unique situation. Aaliyah came from an abusive past, and anyone who has personal experience with sexual and/or physical abuse will tell you it isn’t something you just get over. You have to learn how to take charge of your life, which is easier said than done. I believe I found a way in Claimed by Rafa to get through to Rafa just how traumatizing abuse like Aaliyah suffered can be. In the same breath, I wanted to get across that there is always hope for a better tomorrow. We must learn to love ourselves before we can love others, and not let our past dictate the rest of our tomorrows.
I also wanted to get through in this story that everyone carries around excess baggage. Aaliyah was probably the most damaged by her past, but Rafa had troubles of his own, a past he didn’t want to face. He had to let Aaliyah inside his own defenses.
Aaliyah has had an abusive past and she was a character I empathized with. What were some sources that informed her character’s backstory?
I watch a show on television called “My 600 Pound Life.” It shocked me how many of these people suffered sexual abuse as children, and the devastating effect it had on their lives. Though I know they have a rough road ahead of them, I always find myself happy and excited when they start to take control of their lives. Aaliyah doesn’t turn to food because of her abuse, but she does put up thick walls. No one who goes through something like this will come out of it without scars. I find some of the worst scars people carry around are those to their psyche, not something others can easily see or understand. It was a challenge to figure out a way for Rafa to get through her defenses, but he couldn’t help her unless he began to understand the depth of the trauma she’d suffered.
What were some goals you set for yourself as a writer with this book?
I wanted to keep the focus on the building love and respect these two characters learn to have for one another, not necessarily the abuse they’d both suffered. I’m also building on a continuing plot that connects my Immortal Warriors series with this one. The Djinn, who are introduced in this story, are enemies of both sets of warriors. Aaliyah has a special connection to the Djinn that will carry over to future books.
What can readers expect in book three of your Raiden Warriors series?
In Claimed by Rafa we are introduced to Samantha, Abby’s vivacious younger sister. Her story will be told in Claimed by Seraphym, book 3 of Raiden Warriors. We first met Seraphym in book 1, Claimed by Nicolai. Seraphym is a dragon shifter whom a lot of my readers appeared to be fascinated with. We begin to learn a lot more about Abby and Samantha’s connection to the dragons in book 3. Samantha was a fun character. When she was younger, she used to dream about the day she would get claimed by a handsome Raiden warrior. Now that she’s grown, she will do everything in her power to escape it, even if it means asking for sanctuary from a dragon clan.
Limbo Jubilee follows Neala as she experiments with what it means to be human as her panic escalates with every page. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing story?
I experienced an existential crisis, the gut punch of grief, at a formative age in my life, which inspired me to write Limbo Jubilee. I wrote Limbo Jubilee as an ode to my family, my ancestors, and the misty mountains where I grew up. I wanted to illuminate the intricacies of culture, trauma, and healing. I wanted to share the message that humans can be the curse and the cure and to not give up on each other as tempting as it may be.
My granny taught me that it hurts to be human, and pain is inevitable, but she also taught me that what matters most is how I respond to my pain. Humans are masters at avoiding, ignoring, and numbing their pain in all sorts of destructive ways. Humans are sly creatures and can spread their pain to others along the way. Humans are also incredibly good at getting so stuck in their pain that they can’t imagine living life any other way, but my granny taught me to face my pain with courage. Writing Limbo Jubilee was my way of transforming my brokenness into something beautiful.
Neala is an interesting and well-developed character. What were some driving ideals behind her character development?
I was born in Appalachia where the line between fairy tales and memoirs is imaginary. What many people call fairy tales and folklore, I call reality. Folk magic is as real as the rolling hills in West Virginia. My granny talks to the rivers, the sunflowers, the moon, and the stars, and she believes that they talk back to her. Granny’s mountain medicine is not a complementary or alternative medicine for me. In fact, there is nothing as powerful as the first sip of granny’s elderberry tonic on a cold, October night by the campfire.
Neala’s character reflects my own experiences growing up in Appalachia where magical realism is a way of life. It is a reality of its own. The human brain constructs memories and narratives, and to some degree, all memoirs are imaginary, existing in the planes of shared realities and unique realities. Memoirs are cultural artifacts, spinning tales of who we are and where we come from. Neala’s character reflects the values and beliefs of her culture, shifting between different voices and different planes of reality. Is she the alien or the human? The little girl or the therapist? The healer or the wounded? The sinner or the saint? Neala is all of them, and she writes in a style that is authentic to her experience.
The way that humans experience the world is based on so many different factors. Naturally then, readers will have a variety of reactions to Neala and to Limbo Jubilee. As for me, Neala is a raw and real character with both light and dark qualities, and at its core, Limbo Jubilee is a story of empowerment and healing.
What were some themes you felt were important to explore in this book?
Limbo Jubilee is a visionary celebration and explores visionary and metaphysical themes. Limbo Jubilee is a metaphor for being human and alien, earthly and otherworldly, broken and blessed, and all in the same breath. To be in the wheelhouse of visionary and speculative fiction with incredible authors like Margaret Atwood is a dream come true for me.
Limbo Jubilee provides observations and commentary on society. For example, it discusses the pressure for women to have children and how having children is viewed as normal and human. The alien living on planet Spry is a metaphor for how women without children can be viewed in our culture. Limbo Jubilee also explores and challenges the normalcy of addiction, as well as the black-and-white thinking that leads to extremes.
Limbo Jubilee is the anthem for creatures of the in between, shedding light on both earthly and sacred dimensions and exploring religion and spirituality. There are moments in life when we are fully present in our humanity, and moments when we morph into a creature feature, and moments when we shine as bright as the golden gods of eternity.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am very excited to reveal my next book, The Mermaids Melt at Dawn. I am currently waving my magic wand and putting on the finishing touches. The Mermaids Melt at Dawn is a departure from my brain-busting and heartstring-pulling debut novella, Limbo Jubilee. I don’t want to spoil the mystery, but I’ll offer a quick teaser. Close your eyes and imagine a rowdy Cajun from Louisiana, a pair of warring mermaid sisters, a greedy Poseidon, petulant gods, and a magical island called Barbiche. The Mermaids Melt at Dawn is a melting pot for Cajun fairy tales and Greek Mythology. It will be released in late July or August 2020!
Neala’s surreal story begins in the backwoods of St. Roscoe, West Virginia. Neala’s hero is her Aunt Betsy, who saves the day in a pair of red cowgirl boots. Neala’s life is forever changed as she witnesses the death of her Aunt Betsy. Neala longs for a love that will heal her wounds, so when she meets Brick, she is tempted to cross the imaginary line, but she finds herself in a dangerous limbo. Neala’s spooky voyage transports her to the fringes of reality where she flirts with some creepy-crawly surprises. While a macabre sickness hunts Neala down, she experiments with what it means to be human. Neala’s panic escalates with every page, but could her paranoia be grounded in wisdom?
Posted in Interviews
Tags: author, author interview, book, book review, bookblogger, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, Grendolyn Peach Soleil, kindle, kobo, Limbo Jubilee, literature, metaphysical, mystery, nook, novel, psychological, read, reader, reading, romance, science fiction, scifi, story, suspense, time travel, writer, writing
Devil’s Days in Deadwood by Ann Charles is a fun supernatural thriller. The story delves into the life of Violet Lynn Parker a seemingly normal human being who works as a real estate agent but is involved in the supernatural as a ghost hunter. The protagonist is part of an agency that is tasked with defending Earth from the evils unseen by normal human beings. The compelling heroine of the story faces a formidable foe but she requires help from and engaging cast of characters in order to overcome the exact definition of evil incarnate. The story is set in the alluring town of Deadwood, a town plagued by mysterious happenings since time in memorial ranging from ghosts to haunted houses.
Ann Charles has invoked various stylistic devices that highlight her writing skill and made this novel stand out in the paranormal genre. Although this is book eleven in Ann Charles’s Deadwood Humorous Mystery series, I think new readers will be able to jump right in as I have. What I particularly liked about this novel, and Ann Charles’s view of the supernatural, is the satirical lens that it is all viewed through. It’s a stimulating blend of humor, mystery, and paranormal that all come together to make the reader alternate between gasps, laughter and furiously flipping pages. It reminded me of the writing style of Douglas Adams or A. Lee Martinez.
Violet is an exceptionally well defined character, someone we can relate to as a mother who works hard to provide for, and protect, her children. But in the same vein of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, she’s a demon executioner who risks her life to defeat some truly vile, other worldly, beings. While I understood Violet’s motivations, and her emotions, I did want a little more backstory. The world created here is interesting and I wanted to explore it more, though I suppose I could by reading the other novels in the series.
I was excited about this novel from the very beginning, based on the short synopsis of the book. I was thoroughly entertained and may have found a new series to while away the time in quarantine. Fans of supernatural thrillers will find an exceptional piece of literature that offers a unique voice to this genre.
Pages: 393 | ASIN: B0884DJ4MP
Tags: Ann Charles, author, book, book review, bookblogger, buffy the vampire slayer, Devil Days in Deadwood, ebook, fantasy, fiction, ghost, ghost story, goodreads, horror, humor, kindle, kobo, literature, mystery, nook, novel, paranormal, read, reader, reading, romance, satire, story, supernatural, suspense, thriller, writer, writing
Duplicity by Maralyn Frances is a delightful mix of a novel that is a little bit mystery, a little bit romance, and a whole lot of fun. It is a charming amalgam, being both thoughtful as well as a little quirky and outrageous, in a good way. Frances succeeds in balancing serious topics such as guilt, physical and emotional abuse, and grief with the exciting and fast-paced romance of the main characters. My favorite part of Duplicity was its structure: I adored that the the first third of the novel is told from the perspective of protagonist Toby Wendell, the middle third recounts the same series of events but from another character’s perspective, and the concluding third brings the story together with a heartwarming and surprising close. While the turn of events of Duplicity may, at the surface level, appear almost impossible to readers stuck in reality, it is an engrossing read to escape the drudgery of everyday life and it will charm readers with its full-hearted plot.
Duplicity centers on Toby Wendell, the up-and-coming executive of his father’s agricultural equipment company located in rural Australia. With Toby, Frances has created a handsome, well-read, and thoughtful lead star who is delightfully tasty to read about. Toby has the piercing eyes and the chiseled body, as well as a university-educated and well-traveled intellect, making him a triple-threat to the unsuspecting women of his small hometown. But, one evening, Toby happens across a forlorn beautiful, young woman on the side of the road, and his world is unexpectedly turned upside down. With Toby and the mystery woman, Frances crafts a unique relationship that builds in heat over the pages, tantalizing readers with its colorful and tempting language. And, just when you’re getting settled in with Toby’s story, Duplicity takes you back to the beginning to show you the story from a very different set of eyes. Personally, I loved being able to see the same series of events from two characters’ perspectives, and I enjoyed imagining how fun Duplicity would be to watch as a movie due to this unique structure.
One thing I particularly enjoyed about Duplicity was how Frances kept the plotline varied and moving quickly. It could be possible that reading the same story twice, effectively, could become dull with other authors, but Frances does a truly impeccable job of hiding “Easter eggs” throughout the middle third of the novel for readers to rediscover after having already read them.
Overall, Duplicity is a thoroughly enjoyable and unique book to read. The plot will surprise and delight; the romance scenes will fill readers with romance and excitement; and the characters will begin to feel like real-life friends. With Duplicity, Frances creates a world for readers to escape to and soak up the feelings of overcoming grief, coming to terms with guilt, and falling in love anew.
Pages: 380 | ASIN: B081TN17CM
I have been widowed, divorced, conned, lied to, and cheated on.
This book is often humorous, sometimes sad, but mostly a truthful account of my life and experiences; THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY. I hope you laugh, and I hope you cry.
A big part of this book is the nasty truth about online dating and mature dating in general.
I will tell you about the bad guys, scammers, and con men, working hard to steal your money, the ones that make their living taking advantage of your vulnerability, by lying to you.
I will tell you how I was conned out of $10,000 by a man I thought loved me.
Posted in book trailer
Tags: a tale of love passion and betrayal, author, book, book review, book trailer, bookblogger, con, dating, ebook, funny, gloria moodie, goodreads, humor, kindle, kobo, literature, love, memoir, nonfiction, nook, novel, online dating, read, reader, reading, romance, scam, sex cons & rock n roll, story, trailer, writer, writing
The Revelations of August Barton is a contemporary romance novel by Jennifer LeBlanc. A coming of age story which is a sequel to Tribulations of August Barton. This young adult book is a continuation of the life of August Barton and his love Rose. August is faced with many difficult challenges throughout the story that throw into question his and Rose’s ability to be together. This is a drama filled story with family secrets, confessions, drunken bachelorette parties and layers of family problems that all hit August Barton like a tornado. Will he be able to overcome them?
What I like most about The Revelations of August Barton is that it’s not a cliché teen love story, although it may seem like it at first. Jennifer LeBlanc is able to make the story relatable and believable and because of this I found the story to be immensely engaging. The Revelations of August Barton is full of weighty teenage agony that resonates with truth. In this story we get to see new sides of August Barton as he’s faced with new obstacles and I was amazed at how he continued to grow into a much more dynamic and layered character. This reminds me of a show that should be on The CW network, but maybe not as melodramatic as the shows on that television network.
I suppose I should give a spoiler alert, although it’s not much of a spoiler, August is able to solve his life’s problems and bring all the broken pieces together, but the way in which he does it was something I won’t ruin because I believe that is what this story is about. The journey of putting your life back together after it falls apart. This is one of the greatest milestones in this book. It shows readers just how strong one can be if they summon their strength and willpower into what they want. The main theme of the book is love and family and Jennifer is able to mingle these things into a rich heartfelt fictional story that left me a bit wistful. The life of Grandma Gertie, Rose, August, John and Diane is a perfect image of love and family. Although they are not perfect and they make mistakes, they do not give up on each other. They build each other up and most importantly, they forgive. Jennifer LeBlanc has done a fantastic job of using humor to bring levity to some weighty situations while also underlining some poignant themes. The book has strong language that might be a problem to some readers on the younger side, but otherwise I think it fits well in the college romance genre.
Pages: 155 | ASIN: B07F5JF3T5
Tags: author, book, book review, bookblogger, college romance, coming of age, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, jennifer leblanc, kindle, kobo, literature, new adult, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, romance, story, teen fiction, teen romance, The Revelations of August Barton, writer, writing
In her latest book, Allison Rose takes us through a roller-coaster of emotions finalizing in a hopeful yet uncertain ending. The Court of Outcasts is a contemporary fantasy novel filled with treachery, betrayal, and a twist of unexpected loyalty. While it begins with the main characters; Nola and Kelty, trying to adjust to their new normal, they are yet to realize how much weirder things could get.
With the introduction of a new foe, everything goes haywire as old enemies become new friends in the pursuit of a common good. Nola, though she looks like an ordinary teenager realizes that she is far from it. Torn between her mundane high school existence and the allure of the mystical faerie world, she embarks on a journey that will eventually force her to choose one of the worlds.
On the other hand, Kelty faces trials of her own. Battling with the uncertainties of her love life and the painful reality that she may never go back home, she has to make difficult decisions about who to trust amid chaos.
While the book does inspire a sense of awe and curiosity, it can be a little hard to follow if you haven’t read the previous book. For instance, the use of mystical language like ara can take a while to wrap your head around. However, the author goes through great lengths to explain foreign concepts in simple terms. She uses a lot of descriptive language to not only explain the woodsy setting of the book but also the emotional and psychological states of the characters.
This book gives you a clear description of both the physical and personality traits of each of the characters. The story begins with gentle explanations and hints about things to come. Yet, little can prepare you for the great plot twists ahead. The story seems to intensify from page to page until it reaches a breathtaking climax. As a reader, I am yet to get the resolution I need and have ended up with great fantasies about what is to happen next.
This is a great motivation to read the sequel if there will be one. Allison has done a phenomenal job in capturing the emotions between characters and tension in scenes, although more could be done in developing the story of supporting characters like Sayra and Lark. Another aspect that is yet to be fully explored is the romance between Nola and her love interest.
However, I do appreciate that the author could be saving this for the next book. Apart from what is on the surface, there are serious and compelling themes that subtly color the narrative. The ones that truly stand out are the importance of family and sense of belonging and perseverance through dark times. These are themes that I and many others can relate to, and it kept me devouring pages.
Pages: 246 | ASIN: B0851VPMPX
Tags: adventure, Allison Rose, author, book, book review, bookblogger, contemporary fantasy, ebook, fairy, fairy tale, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, kindle, kobo, literature, magic, mystery, nook, novel, paranormal, read, reader, reading, romance, science fiction, story, supernatural, teen fiction, The Court of Outcasts, writer, writing, young adult
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
The Albatross: Contact by Connor Mackay
IZ – The Saga: Creation by DDWLEM
Silver Award Winners
Book of Chaos: From 22 Back to 21 by Yin Dolmah
Posted in Literary Titan Book Award
Tags: author, author award, author recognition, book, book award, book review, bookblogger, childrens book, christian, crime, ebook, education, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, history, horror, kids book, kindle, kobo, literary award, literature, mystery, nonfiction, nook, novel, picture book, read, reader, reading, romance, science fiction, story, suspense, thriller, writer, writing