Phoebe Douse: The Return by L. Samuels is the second of three books in the thrilling young adult mystery series, Phoebe Douse. It begins with a string of unfortunate events that will force Phoebe into actions she is neither ready to accept nor eager to follow through with. All seems well for a time, until she makes the mistake of turning on the television and seeing the breaking news about a man found dead. A man she killed. Forced to team up with Renaud, Phoebe plunges into a supernatural world filled with striking imagery, global destinations, and a good bit of history. The Return sets up the final book in the series perfectly and will leave readers on the edge of their seat throughout this riveting paranormal fantasy.
Phoebe Douse: The Return was a highly anticipated follow-up novel to L. Samuel’s previous novel, at least for me it was. The Return continues to be consistently engaging and keeps moving at a quick pace. I would highly recommend finishing the first book in the series, however, as it will help establish characters and their backstory. This book is written in the first person and the author does a fantastic job of packing the story full of intriguing characters, puzzling supernatural events, and shocking twists.
This novel, and the entire series I think, centers around Phoebe and I like how this is turning out to be much more of a character driven adventure, although fun and light, something like Percy Jackson & the Olympians. Phoebe’s destiny is revealed but as with most things in this series, it comes with some dramatic consequences that kept me absorbed in the novel.
Author L. Samuel has written an enchanting urban fantasy novel that excels at weaving supernatural elements into a fun story that feels fresh within a packed genre. Phoebe Douse: The Return is fun and exciting and is a must read for those who read book two, and highly recommended to readers looking for an urban fantasy with more mystery in their adventure.
Pages: 322 | ISBN: 1732284679
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What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?
Well, it started off as a love story and that continued to be the prevailing theme throughout book 1, as Mark and Sharon’s relationship continued to blossom. But later, the idea of the town of Black Oak took on a life of its own, with the people, the history and the setting evolved. It was so organic, that I had to cultivate that and build it out, so that as the love with Mark and Sharon grew, so did the richness of the narrative in the town, paralleling one another perfectly. As the sequels to book 1 are written, I think readers will be delighted as to how the landscape vastly changes and brings them along on a journey they least expect. I like to dramatically shift the prose of the story so that people are never comfortable or find themselves reading a predictable novel. You have to be prepared for something ‘new’ each time you crack open the next book. That’s why the first books is titled as “Chapter 1.”
How did the mystery develop for this story? Did you plan it before writing or did it develop organically?
I have always been intrigued with the paranormal; a world beyond the natural that peeks into the spiritual one. Black Oak is a town that is immersed in a rich fictional history of witches, warlocks, wolves and such, that people will find familiar as the art of storytelling is concerned, but the original spin that did with the traditional stories of old, makes it feel rich and new. That was the why of the story, but the mystery – the what and the how – came about in the characters and how their individuals lives play out over time. Each person is linked to the past of Black Oak, while having their own issues in the present that they must deal with, like ordinary people do all the time. I started with the past as a foundation for their narratives, and then the organic growth of each person came about by their present day tales that are quite natural and relatable to the reading audience.
This is Chapter 1 in The Loveless Chronicles. What can readers expect in Chapter 2?
Escalation! It will all be bigger. Everything in Chapter 2 will be directly linked to the setup of the story in Chapter 1. The characters’ story arcs will be bigger, the setting widens – with new locations being brought into the mix – and the action revs up as we get more paranormal themes weaved into the prose. Also, the backstory about Navartis is further explained to give a depth to the story that most people are not expecting. Readers will be un for a real treat.
Posted in Interviews
Tags: author, author interview, Black Oak, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, ebook, fantasy, ficiton, goodreads, kindle, kobo, literature, mystery, nook, novel, paranormal, read, reader, reading, story, supernatural, suspense, thriller, Titus Murphy, urban fantasy, writer, writing
Dawning, by Marie. F. Crow is a gripping dark fantasy story that follows the journey of young, vibrant and feisty protagonist Helena. In her early twenties she is trying to figure out her place in a zombie ridden world. Helena is not only haunted by the death looming outside but also her forlorn past. Dawning is a story set in a dystopian world where our admirable heroine starts her journey with two younger siblings, Conroy and Ashley. Bruised and sorrowful, she has to protect her siblings from known as well as unknown threats all by herself. Helena hawthorn, estranged from her birth family bonds with local motorcycle club G.R.I.T., including her love Lawless, bestie Aimes, J.D., Rhett and Marxx.
Author Marie F. Crow has written a story that engulfs the reader with its intensity. The author has created mesmerizing and relatable characters that you end up truly caring for. Helena is a strong and caring character, she has to be in order to protect her family. In that, she perfectly succeeds even if outlandishly, it works at some levels. A great aspect of Dawning is the length of the chapters. Marie Crow keeps her chapters concise and brings each one to a fitting end that urges the reader on to the next. Each character is unique with distinctive personality and individual style. The changing dynamics within the group, the madness and gore make the overall story an intense experience.
As a hard core zombie buff, I found the book wildly entertaining. There are some scenes in the book that made me impatient because of the dense descriptions. I wanted to know more about these interesting characters and quickly! Marie has succeeded with shocking and captivating her audience. With a relatable cast of characters, an engaging and fascinating plot surrounding the phenomenon of the living dead, it will appeal to readers who like zombie horror. Dawning is an entertaining and gripping read that I gladly recommend.
Pages: 422 | ASIN: B08GJHXX16
Tags: author, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, dark fantasy, Dawning, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, horror, kindle, kobo, literature, Marie F Crow, nook, novel, paranormal, read, reader, reading, story, supernatural, suspense, thriller, urban fantasy, writer, writing, zombie
Madison paid the ultimate price for her attitude, her controlling behavior, and her desire to rule the school. As a cheerleader and bully extraordinaire, she has taken her last breath–but only one person in her life knows the truth. And it isn’t Madison. Watching over everyone she has left behind, Madison faces some hard facts about the life she led, the friends she let down, and the persona she regrets having carried all these years. Things are not what they seem in her high school and, whether she is ready for it or not, it just might be Madison’s responsibility to put a stop to the killings that only she can see coming.
Cutthroat Cheerleader, by Zachary Ryan, is a young adult thriller featuring Madison Taylor as the victim of murder and the narrator of her own story. Ryan has created a unique take on the omniscient point-of-view and given his main character free reign to come and go in the lives of those she left behind. Serving as a modern-day Ebenezer Scrooge-type character, Madison quickly learns exactly what she meant to the people she believed were her friends and sees, in no uncertain terms, exactly how much pain she created as she ruled the school with an iron fist.
One of the most unique aspects of Madison’s story is the process whereby she learns as much about herself as she does those she watches from afar. Her spirit, though still rough and tumble, is broken at the thought of leaving her family and friends hurting and in need. Hers is a long road of discovering everything she left unsaid prior to her death.
Ryan includes some truly breathtaking lines at the close of almost every chapter. He seriously knows how to deliver a punch that incenses readers and keeps them coming back for more. Leaving readers with that “just one more chapter” feeling time and time again, Ryan has created a book most readers will find easy to read cover-to-cover.
While I enjoyed this book, Ryan’s work is filled with vulgarity. It’s not for the faint of heart and may offend some readers who prefer much less explicit language especially when it comes to the interactions of young adults.
Cutthroat Cheerleader has a unique storyline and point-of-view that makes this one of the more captivating books I have read this year.
Pages: 352 | ASIN: B08LR1TQ3P
Tags: author, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, coming of age, Cutthroat Cheerleader, ebook, fantasy, fiction, gay fiction, goodreads, kindle, kobo, lgbt, literature, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, story, teen fiction, urban fantasy, writer, writing, young adult, Zachary Ryan
Soul Seeker follows a soul hunting demon that is captured and turns against Lucifer after forming a relationship with an angel. What were some sources that informed this novels development?
I enjoy reading supernatural and paranormal stories, and always wanted to write one. It didn’t seem like a far stretch, since I already write psychological thrillers. Ray Garton, Andrew Klavan, Terry Goodkind, and Stephen King are just a few of the authors I admire and were inspired by, while writing this story. Plus I love pitting good against bad, and what greater conflict exists than forced relationships, especially when they involve angels and demons.
I appreciated the exploration of morality in this book. What were some themes you wanted to focus on while writing?
It might well be that all moral agents accept a code of prudence or rationality in this book, but this would not by itself show that prudence was part of morality. So something else must be added; for example, that the code can be understood to involve a certain kind of impartiality, or that it can be understood as having the function of making it possible for people to live together despite their extreme beliefs. In SOUL SEEKER, enemies are forced to not only accept one another but also depend on each other for their survival — a lesson we can all learn from.
Crighton is a standout character for me. How did you set about creating his character?
I wanted to create a complex, flawed, evil character that seeks approval by any means necessary. He has a conscious, which he and Lucifer view as a weakness. On his journey to self awareness, he develops empathy and becomes self sacrificing, while growing his ability to love. I wanted readers to hate him when he is first introduced and then discover his redeeming qualities.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m currently working on the next installment in this book and have titled it ANNIHILATION. In this story, Lucifer’s daughter turns Hell into a far worse place and threatens to overtake Heaven by whatever means necessary.
If all goes according to plan, I’m hoping to have this book available in the Spring of 2021.
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The Mermaids Melt at Dawn spins several yarns into a mythical story that combines many different genres. What was the initial idea behind this book and how did it change as you wrote?
When I started writing The Mermaids Melt at Dawn, I was inspired to begin the story like an old fairy tale. I also wanted the story to be somewhat tethered to reality, especially in the beginning, so I combined my passion for vintage fairy tales and historical fiction. Rok, a Cajun boy growing up on the bayou in the 1800s, was the first character to enter my imagination, and from there, the story transformed into a nautical adventure to Barbiche Island. I have always been fascinated by mermaids and Greek Mythology, so I decided to add a flair of mythology as well.
I am drawn to stories where humans, gods, and creatures coexist. I think there is something incredible about Rok, a real human, witnessing the mermaids of Barbiche Island. Rok lifted the veil between reality and fantasy and tasted the magic that humans so often dream about. As I wrote The Mermaids Melt at Dawn, I tried to capture the magic sensation we feel when we see the first snowflakes of winter or when we catch the first wave in the ocean.
Yarn 8 is my favorite from the book. Do you have a favorite yarn?
As I created different yarns and characters, I was curious to see which ones readers would enjoy the most. Based on the feedback I’ve received so far, Yarn 8/The Curse of Rhodanthea is a fan favorite and the most treasured yarn. Yarn 8 happens to be my favorite yarn as well. Of all the characters, I think Rhodanthea embodies a beautiful brokenness and a humble strength. For me, she is the perfect blend of human, god, and creature features. My second favorite yarns are Yarn 7/The Maiden and The Lyre and Yarn 9/The Rot Spine Monster. I had so much fun writing them, and they brought back fond memories of reading Greek Mythology as a child.
Each yarn seemed to focus on a different theme or had its own feeling. What were some emotions or feelings you wanted to capture in your stories?
Each yarn captures different emotions, moods, and personalities. Much like vintage fairy tales, each character can represent the light and dark aspects of ourselves. The Mermaids Melt at Dawn illuminates common archetypal patterns that are shared by all humans. Some of the experiences I tapped into are anger, sadness, fear, loneliness, love, humility, jealousy, joy, revenge, and remorse. I also crafted the story with some moments of surprise and horror as an homage to fairy tales and mythology, which were not rainbow and butterfly stories. They often had grim and shocking endings. Who could forget when Little Red Riding Hood found the granny wolf in bed, or when the old witch planned to stuff Hansel in the oven?
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
With Halloween just around the corner, it’s the perfect time of year to write a paranormal romance! My next book is in the early stages of the creative process, but characters and scenes are coming to life more and more every day. I hope to release my newest book within the next 6 months, and maybe it will be in time for Valentine’s Day!
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Was it a chance meeting in the Daisy Cafe that brought a father and his boys from Macon, Georgia, descendants of slaves, into the life of a descendent of Swiss Mennonites, or was it the mysterious workings of the father’s grandmother, Momma Daisy? August Kibler tells the stories of his own life and the lives of Tyler, Johnny, and Jimmy through the tragedy and grief, and the joy and gratitude, that each discovered along the way. The generous spirit they share is a gift to any seeking greater understanding when you believe you have little in common. Yet it is through sharing that August discovers a deep reverence for Momma Daisy and Pappy Jemison, and for the legacy of love and mettle that defined their lives. August challenges our certitudes as, in his own life, he says, “I would rather have doubts and be wrong than to be certainly wrong.” Tyler and August bear witness to what might appear to be ordinary lives, yet which both see as nothing less than extraordinary.
A Rift That Lies Between Us is a coming of age story about love, tradition, race, and the impact of unlikely friendships. Farisa is an art-major, who escaped the pressures of her highly traditional Muslim family, by going to college out of state. This is where Farisa meets Caiden, a charming, but sometimes overly dramatic classmate who Farisa forms an unexpected friendship with. Despite their drastically different backgrounds often getting in the way, Farisa’s relationship with Caiden shifts something inside her that proves to be the exact push she needs to start living her life, for her and not just everyone else.
Following a coming of age story that starts in college and goes through early adulthood was refreshing in and of itself, but the fact that this novel also tackled the difficulties of first-generation kids growing up with the conflict of traditional family pressures, and more modern beliefs face was a delightful departure from the norm. Muna was able to bring us into the conflict and pressures of Farisa’s Muslim Bangladeshi-American family in a way that is accessible and eye-opening.
While Muna was able to give us a well-rounded view of Farisa’s family life and what that demanded of her, some of the attempts at representation seemed a bit forced. I’m all for more representation for minorities in books and media, but some of the lesser storylines about LGBTQ+ issues and mental health didn’t get the focus and the detail that it deserved and as a result didn’t feel as meaningful as it should have.
I was invested in Farisa’s life and her relationship with Caiden but the book could have used a bit more time to develop some of the other storylines that were brought in to have the impact they deserved to have on Farisa’s life, self-discovery, and beliefs.
Farisa and Caiden’s relationship and all the forms it took over the 8 years this novel covered provided a refreshing look at the evolution of how cultural differences can inform relationships, for better or worse, and the importance of finding your own voice before it’s too late.
I haven’t read a book in a long time that I couldn’t put down in the way that I couldn’t put A Rift That Lies Between Us down, I found myself giddy with excitement, devastatingly sad and completely engrossed in Farisa and Caiden’s story.
Pages: 278 | ASIN: B07T324W4L