Book Review of Dead Heat to Destiny by J. B. Rivard.

Destined for success in the booming world of high fashion, young Adrienne Boch deflects the romantic pursuit of Will Marra, an American student in Paris. Her cousin, Gregor Steiner, completes his training as an officer in the Imperial German Navy. They, like the entire world, are unprepared when World War I begins. As the invading German army threatens Paris, Gregor advances to captain a U-boat, Will becomes a pilot in the U.S. Army, and Adrienne’s family flees an overrun Belgium. In Central America, a spy is recruited to defeat the United States. At the climax—during which love hangs in the balance—they meet in a thrilling and emotionally riveting clash.

Spanning 1903-1917, this cinematic novel transports the reader to a variety of stunning locales. With his dedication to historical accuracy and his immersive writing style, Rivard offers readers a front row seat to the early twentieth century’s most compelling events.

Dead Heat to Destiny by J. B. Rivard
Dead Heat to Destiny by J. B. Rivard

A story of possibilities that spans the course of time just a few years prior to the beginning of WWI to the United States declaring war on Germany.

The detail given to each characters environment in regards not only to the physical but also professional and family ties made for an engaging and investing story.

Being a history person myself, by university degree and by writing career, I found the research put in to give the detail needed to provide an immersive read refreshing and most enjoyable.

We travel from Brussels to France and on to the United States, Mexico, and Panama. The main characters of the story are Will Mara, a young man who becomes fascinated with flight, Adrienne Boch, a woman from Brussels who travels to Paris to design haute conture, and her cousin Gregor Steiner, an officer in a German Empire’s U-boat.

The three stories along with the sub-stories head to the inevitable as Germany pushes further to gain control of the Atlantic waters and limit the US semi-secret assistance to Britain.

Something to look for is how the life and opinions of each takes a turn with a moment, be it one of reality or one of misunderstanding, but regardless fueled by environment and personal experience.

I greatly enjoyed the growth of Will Mara from a 13 year old boy who was in love with fast cars and the new world of flight into a young man who falls in love with a beautiful young dress designer and onward into an intelligent and heroic aviator. Through him we see pieces of US history both leading to the US entering WWI but also incursions into Mexico to chase Pancho Villa.

Adrienne grows as well in confidence and as a woman who knows her mind and will get what she wants, although what she wants could possibly change?

And then Gregor. His growth into a U-boat captain is perhaps the most intriguing. From the young man we first meet through the letters shared with his cousin Adrienne to the officer who is dedicated to the German Empire’s cause, the change is shown not to be as easy as one might think.

No one character has a direct path to where they end up. I’ve reviewed another of Rivard’s books and it was excellent but I enjoyed this one even more. It is right in my wheelhouse.

There was only one thing that was a bit difficult to get accustomed to. That is how each character, up to perhaps five, would have their own chapter and view point. But, not always. At first this made me take a bit of time getting into the book. But that happens sometimes with me. Any author needs to lay a little background, and after a few chapters the story really picks up. It’s been called a page-turner and I agree. Once past those first few chapters you are wanting to know who does what, where and why.

If you’ve read my reviews here before you know I enjoy historical novels by Samuel Marquis. He’s one of my favorites. J. B. Rivard is right up there. He has the detail, the pace, and characters worth investing in. You hope some do one thing and not the other. You hope they change their minds. And mind changing might just happen. I’m not going to say too much.

I recommend the story to history buffs, those who enjoy period pieces, and anyone who simply enjoys touch choices made, maybe even young love in a time appropriate manner.

I’ll give it 5 stars out of 5.

Get the book at Amazon 2/7/23. Also check your favorite online service to see if it’s there.

J. B. Rivard
J. B. Rivard

J.B. RIVARD believes words can create pictures. His readers agree; one said, “I was right in the biplane cockpit with Nick,” referring to pilot Nick Mamer, the 1929 record-setting aviator in Rivard’s nonfiction book “Low on Gas – High on Sky.” A writer of historically accurate fiction and nonfiction, J.B. knows readers want the past to blaze up and enthrall them. His commitment to compelling and convincing writing derives from four years in the military as well as his technical career on the staff of a U.S. National Laboratory. A graduate of the University of Florida, he attended the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, and is an award-winning artist and author. His latest novel is  “Dead Heat to Destiny,” in which the lives and loves of three people are imperiled during the cataclysm of World War One. To learn more about J.B.’s life and work, visit www.illusionsofmagic.com

12 Questions with MHR Geer, author of ASSUMED.

When her friend Sandy asks for help, Anne Wilson leaves her small, lonely life in Miami for the picturesque island of Saint Martin. But as soon as she arrives, Sandy is murdered, and her death exposes lies: an alias, a secret past, stolen money. Suspected of murder and trapped on the island, Anne is shocked when a cryptic message arrives:

Find the money. Take it and run.

She follows Sandy’s trail of obscure clues, desperate for proof of her innocence and must decide if she can trust the two men who offer help-the dark, mysterious Brit or the American with a wide grin and a pickup truck. When memories resurface-dark truths she’d rather leave buried and forgotten, her past becomes intertwined with her present.

Her only way forward is to face her own secrets.

 

Assumed by MHR Geer.  A romance, financial, murder thriller.
Assumed by MHR Geer.

Which was the hardest character to write?
Anne. Have you ever disliked someone the first time you met them, but then as you got to know them you realized they were just shy and perhaps quite sad? That’s how it felt to write Anne. I
didn’t approve of her choices, but chapter after chapter she showed such strength, and I
warmed to her.

Your book is set in Saint Martin, an island in the Caribbean. Have you ever been there?
Yes. (sigh) Such a beautiful place. I want to go back.

Do you have another profession besides writing?
I’m a bookkeeper by day. It’s the opposite of creative writing.

How long have you been writing?
I’ve always journaled, but I began writing novels about nine years ago – which is about the time
my first marriage fell apart. Huh, I never made that connection before. Whew. That’s a
breakthrough of sorts, isn’t it?

What is your next project?
Book 2: Accused. Anne’s story continues! It will be released in 2023.

What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?
The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. But the one comment that stands out is when
an Amazon reviewer said that Anne (my main character) was so REAL. That was amazing to
hear.

How are you similar to or different from your lead character?
We are very different, but we do have a couple things in common. She works in accounting like I
do, and we’ve both suffered significant loss – the kind of loss that you never really recover from.
Writing her character was so interesting because she dealt with her loss so differently than I did.

Favorite travel spot?
Kansas City. Such a friendly place. It always inspires creativity. I love the Nelson-Atkins
museum and City Market on the weekends. Also, there’s a place in Westport Plaza that makes
the best Matcha ever. Don’t get me started on the barbeque…yum.

Any hobbies?
So many hobbies. Knitting mostly, but I enjoy loads of crafts, jewelry and macrame. I want to try
pottery, but my yarn takes up too much space. I simply don’t have room in my life for clay. Yet.

What TV series are you currently binge watching?
A while ago, season 1 of Silent Witness popped up as a recommendation on my BritBox. It
should have come with a disclaimer like “Don’t watch this unless you’re prepared to commit
several months to it.” Sheeshers. I just finished Season 25. I don’t regret a thing. Well. Maybe I
regret some of the popcorn.

Tell us about your longest friendship.
Marie. We met in college because our boyfriends were roommates, and we both instantly had a
“you’re my person” moment. I live in California, and she lives on the East Coast, so we meet
annually in random cities in the middle of the country to hang out. She’s still my person after all
this time.

What is the strangest way you've become friends with someone?
One of my friendships started during the darkest period in my life. We were at a youth football
practice that my ex-husband was coaching. I can’t even remember why, but I had to move my
chair, and someone I barely knew carried it for me. That’s it. She carried my chair. It was a tiny
thing, but the gesture meant the world to me. And we’ve been close friends ever since.

 

MHR Geer, author of Assumed.
MHR Geer.

Author Bio:

MHR Geer was born in California but grew up in the Midwest. She attended the University of California, Santa Barbara to study Physics. After school, she moved to Ventura, CA and started a small bookkeeping business. She lives with her two sons and her unicorn husband (because he's a magical creature).

Website: http://www.mhrgeer.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100086993291413
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mhrgeerauthor

© 2014-2023- Ronovan Hester Copyright reserved. The author asserts his moral and legal rights over this work.

16 Questions with Tammy Euliano, author of Misfire.

Kadence, a new type of implanted defibrillator, misfires in a patient visiting University Hospital
for a routine medical procedure—causing the heart rhythm problem it’s meant to correct. Dr.
Kate Downey, an experienced anesthesiologist, resuscitates the patient, but she grows
concerned for a loved one who recently received the same device—her beloved Great-Aunt Irm.

When a second device misfires, Kate turns to Nikki Yarborough, her friend and Aunt Irm’s
cardiologist. Though Nikki helps protect Kate’s aunt, she is prevented from alerting other
patients by the corporate greed of her department chairman. As the inventor of the device and
part owner of MDI, the company he formed to commercialize it, he claims that the device
misfires are due to a soon-to-be-corrected software bug. Kate learns his claim is false.

The misfires continue as Christian O’Donnell, a friend and lawyer, comes to town to facilitate the
sale of MDI. Kate and Nikki are drawn into a race to find the source of the malfunctions, but
threats to Nikki and a mysterious murder complicate their progress. Are the seemingly random
shocks misfires, or are they attacks?

A jaw-dropping twist causes her to rethink everything she once thought she knew, but Kate will
stop at nothing to protect her aunt and the other patients whose life-saving devices could turn
on them at any moment..

Misfire cover image for book by Tammy Eullano
Misfire by Tammy Eliano

How did you do research for your book?
I’m fortunate to be a professor at an academic medical center and therefore have access to the
medical professionals to ask questions and gain ideas. Also, I co-developed some medical
devices over the years and have been through the patenting and licensure process so it was fun
to include some first-hand knowledge, and to pick the brains of other scientists with whom we’ve
crossed paths.

Where do you get inspiration for your stories?
My inspiration comes from life experiences—working in academic medicine, talking with people
in technology and healthcare industries, and reading both fiction and non-fiction, and of course
the news (preferably science news, not all the other stuff).

What advice would you give budding writers?
Find a supportive group of other early career writers, read, take classes that provide
professional feedback, attend a writers’ conference if at all possible, develop thick skin, write
what you love, consider writing some short fiction for an earlier win.

Your book is set in north central Florida. Have you ever been there?
It’s where I’ve lived since undergrad. Though not Gainesville by name, and certainly not the
University of Florida, the book is set in the area, including Paynes Prairie where we’ve gone on
long walks, and Jacksonville, which we visit on occasion. It’s a great place to live and raise a
family, with springs and beaches nearby and (often) excellent collegiate sports to cheer for.

Do you have another profession besides writing?
I’m a physician, an academic anesthesiologist specializing in obstetrics. For 20+ years I’ve
taught, performed research, and cared for patients at the University of Florida’s hospital system.
I’ve now backed down to 60% so I can focus on writing…it’s never enough!

What is your next project?
Besides finishing up the third in the Kate Downey series, I’m working on a stand-alone that links
the Salem Witch Trials to a modern medical mystery. It’s based on a short story I published a
few years ago and I’m having fun plotting it out.

What is the last great book you’ve read?

In non-fiction, 4000 Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman. In fiction,
Desert Star by Michael Connelly. I’m currently reading A World of Curiosities by Louise Penny,
my favorite series!

How are you similar to or different from your lead character?
We started out quite alike as far as careers go, but she lacks my idyllic backstory with a
charmed childhood and parents and husband very much alive. She’s also way cooler than I am!

In one sentence, what was the road to publishing like?
For the first in the series it was long, full of rejections, self-doubt, learning, and more rejections,
and finally extremely rewarding! Misfire was the second in a two-book deal, so far more straight-
forward.

Which authors inspired you to write?
Harlan Coben, Louise Penny

Favorite travel spot?
I love the mountains (said the Florida girl), especially hiking and downhill skiing. We’ve been so
blessed with incredible travel opportunities to all the major national parks in the US, Costa Rica,
the Galapagos, Europe, even New Zealand. Probably my favorite would be hiking in Wengen,
Switzerland.

Favorite dessert?
Hmmm, my husband’s home-made fruit crumbles with ice cream. Cookies and cream ice cream
with my dad. Who am I kidding – most ice cream with most anyone.

If you were stuck on a deserted island, which 3 books would you want with you?
(1) the entire Louise Penny Gamache series squished into one book cover, (2) an encyclopedia,
(3) The famous double book: “How to Make a Boat out of Sand, Salt Water and Coconuts” and
“The Joy of Cooking Without Actually Cooking”

Any hobbies? or Name a quirky thing you like to do.
My husband and I met playing flag football in college, taking turns at quarterback due to the
rules for co-ed sports. Now we still enjoy sports, but also seeking active experiences while
traveling – via ferrata, canyoning, rappelling down waterfalls, etc. We also follow the Gator
football team, though they’re trying our patience lately.

If there is one thing you want readers to remember about you, what would it be?
That I’m a physician-turned-author who highly recommends reassessing your path and
goalposts at regular intervals. It’s not quitting, it’s pivoting to something better/different/more
suited to you today.

What is the oldest item of clothing you own?
Intramural sports championship t-shirts from undergrad. We were the geeky honors dorm kids
who crushed everyone else by planning ahead with football plays printed out using the earliest
version of drafting software…oh, and not being drunk at game time.

 

Author photo of Tammy Euliano. <Misfire.
Tammy Euliano, author of Misfire.

Author Bio:

Tammy Euliano writes medical thrillers. She’s inspired by her day job as a physician, researcher and medical educator. She is a tenured professor at the University of Florida, where she’s been honored with numerous teaching awards, nearly 100,000 views of her YouTube teaching videos, and was featured in a calendar of women inventors (copies available wherever you buy your out-of-date calendars).
When she’s not writing or at the hospital, she enjoys traveling with her family, playing sports,
cheering on the Gators, and entertaining her two wonderful dogs.

amazon logoWebsite: http://www.teuliano.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/teuliano
Twitter: https://twitter.com/teuliano
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/teuliano/

Book Tour sites for Tammy Euliano and Misfire.
Blog Tour Sites for Misfire by Tammy Euliano.

© 2014-2023- Ronovan Hester Copyright reserved. The author asserts his moral and legal rights over this work.

7 Questions with Michael Kaufman, author of The Last Resort (A Jen Lu Mystery).

Margaret Atwood meets Raymond Chandler meets Greta Thunberg: Jen Lu is back on the case when the death of a lawyer sparks an even more intriguing mystery in Michael Kaufman’s second book in the thrilling series.

It’s March 2034, six months after D.C. police detective Jen Lu and Chandler, her sentient bio-computer and wannabe tough guy implanted in her brain, cracked the mystery of Eden. The climate crisis is hitting harder than ever: a mega-hurricane has devastated the eco-system and waves of refugees pour into Washington, D.C.

Environmental lawyer and media darling Patty Garcia dies in a bizarre accident on a golf course. Of the seven billion people on the planet, only Jen thinks she was murdered. After all, Garcia just won a court case for massive climate change reparations to be paid out by oil, gas, and coal companies. Jen is warned off, but she and Chandler start digging. Signs point to Garcia’s abusive ex, a former oil giant, but soon Jen turns up more suspects who have an even greater motive for committing murder

Soon Jen is in the crosshairs of those who will ensure the truth never comes to light, no matter the cost. She has to move quickly before she becomes next on the killer’s list.

The Last Resort by Michael Kaufman. A technothriller and dystopian fiction Jen Lu mystery.
The Last Resort by Michael Kaufman.

“[An] outstanding series launch…Exceptional worldbuilding is complemented by sympathetic characters and suspenseful plot twists. Kaufman is a writer to watch.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

This is the second book in your Jen Lu series. How soon after finishing the first book did you know you wanted to continue Jen’s story?

The minute I read the first reviews. I knew I’d taken a risk writing a mystery that bent genres and that delved into political themes, but only when I started hearing from readers did I realize how much my approach — page-turning, serious themes yet fun to read — was something I wanted to continue doing.

You have decades of experience working with the United Nations, NGOs and various government officials and educators. How have you used this expertise to write about some complex topics like climate change and the intricacies of the oil and gas industry?

I’ve worked directly with presidents and prime ministers. I could answer that this has given me insights into the workings of political power. But here’s my real answer: We all need stories. Not only to entertain but to make sense of our lives. Right now, there is no more important issue than the quickly emerging climate crisis and the utter culpability of the oil, gas and coal industries in destroying our future.

“The Last Resort” has a secondary theme of men’s violence against women. How does this fit into the story?

It’s a critical theme in itself. Across the country and around the world, there is a rash of violence against women: in our homes, at work, at places of learning and on the streets. Engaging men as allies with women to end this violence has been my life’s work.

“An engrossing thriller set in a fascinatingly plausible near future, ‘The Last Exit’ centres on a human-AI partnership that’s as believable as it’s moving.” — Emma Donoghue, New York Times bestselling author of “Room”

There are a variety of politically charged themes throughout the book. What would you say to people who are looking for a fiction book that “isn’t political”?

First of all, “The Last Resort,” is entertainment. It’s fun; it’s exciting. My goal isn’t to educate — I leave that to my nonfiction books. At the same time, every moment of our lives is shaped by political realities, and that is nowhere more true than with the climate crisis. I believe that some of the most powerful stories ever written weave in the political and social realities of the day. Imagine if Tolstoy had left out the war part; his great novel would have read like a Netflix costume drama.

Speaking of politics, there are a lot of tough themes the book touches on, but the series’s tone overall is ultimately one of hope (surrounded with humor). Why did you choose to go this route?

The last thing readers need is another grim dystopia. I believe strongly in the human capacity to change, not simply at the individual level but our ability to imagine and then to create a better world. Faced with the existential realities of the climate crisis, we need that vision of hope and change more than ever. Shouldn’t fiction that digs into the tough issues we face today and in years ahead bring us up rather than bring us down?

What do you hope readers gain from the book?

Gain? I hope they gain some absolutely entertaining moments. I hope they can’t put it down. But I also hope it allows them to imagine a future that is certainly full of challenges but also possibilities for positive change.

Is there another Jen Lu book in the works? Are you working on any other projects?

Yes, there will be a sequel. I’m also at work on a traditional thriller as well as a literary novel and a screenplay. Plus, of course, I continue my advisory role with various U.N. agencies, governments, NGOs and companies. That said, I can’t wait to hang out again with Jen Lu and Chandler, her computer implant and wannabe tough guy.

“ ‘The Last Exit’ hits hard. Fast action — a melding of the mental and physical — keeps this smart futuristic thriller racing, and its contemporary implications keep the reader thinking.” —Thomas Perry, bestselling author of “A Small Town”

Michael Kaufman, author of the Jen Lu Mystery Series.Author Bio:

MICHAEL KAUFMAN has worked for decades engaging men to support women’s rights and positively transform the lives of men. He is the co-founder of the White Ribbon Campaign, the largest effort in the world of men working to end violence against women. He volunteers as a senior fellow at Promundo (Washington, D.C.) and has worked in 50 countries with the United Nations, governments, NGOs and educators. He advised the French government in 2019 as a member of its G7 Gender Equality Advisory Council.

He is the author of numerous nonfiction and fiction works, and was awarded the Canadian Jewish Book Award for Fiction. His most recent nonfiction book is “The Time Has Come.” He’s also written “Why Men Must Join the Gender Equality Revolution” (2019) and his first Jen Lu novel“The Last Exit.” His books and articles have been translated into 14 languages. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, having lived in Durham, North Carolina, and now living in Toronto, Canada, he is married and has a daughter and a son. For more information, please visit michaelkaufman.com.

Website: https://twitter.com/KaufmanWrites

© 2014-2023- Ronovan Hester Copyright reserved. The author asserts his moral and legal rights over this work.

Book Review of The Disappearing Beaune: A Sherlock Holmes Christmas Story by J. Lawrence Matthews.

Review of The Case of the Disappearing Beaune. J. Lawrence Matthews Sherlock Holmes
Book cover of The Case of the Disappearing Beaune: A Sherlock Holmes Christmas Story by J. Lawrence Matthews.

Sherlock Holmes faces one of the most urgent and puzzling cases of his career. A Christmas gift for his old friend Dr. Watson has been tampered with and replaced with something most unusual. All under the sleeping nose of the great detective himself.

Is there a new Master of the Criminal Underworld in charge of London? Why the warning? And who is the warning about?

The Case of the Disappearing Beaune: A Sherlock Holmes Christmas Story by J. Lawrence Matthews captures the essence of the classic detective with language and writing harking back to the old master himself, Conan Doyle. But the writing is still his own. This is a Matthews story and the descriptive style easily draws the reader into the age and world being created.

Matthews puts his knowledge of Holmes and history to good use. This is not his first adventure with the world’s greatest detective. There is a good amount of detail given to the streets of London, allowing the reader to ride along with the investigative duo of Holmes and Watson as they race to save… well to save. Much loved characters from years gone by appear throughout the story.

The pace of the story matches the length. Clues pile up in quick measure with Sherlock grasping them seemingly out of thin air, but all leading to one conclusion.

The mystery itself is one that will shock the reader. The ending, something one would never expect of the great bee fanatic, Holmes.

This is a great short story for any age of reader. An excellent gift for the holidays.

Try to solve the mystery before Holmes does.

5 out of 5 Stars

(A rarity from me.)

Book Review of The Case of the Disappearing Beaune: A Sherlock Holmes Christmas Story. Author photo of J. Lawrence Matthews.
J. Lawrence Matthews. Author of The Case of the Disappearing Beaune: A Sherlock Holmes Christmas Story.

J. Lawrence Matthews has contributed fiction to the New York Times and NPR’s All Things Considered, and, as Jeff Matthews, is the author of three non-fiction books about Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway. One Must Tell the Bees: Abraham Lincoln and the Final Education of Sherlock Holmes is his first novel, the result of twin passions for the original Sherlock Holmes stories of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and American history as told on the battlefields of the Civil War. Matthews is now researching the sequel, which follows Sherlock Holmes a bit further afield—to Florence, Mecca and Tibet.

https://www.jlawrencematthews.com/

Ritu Bhathal book cover REVEAL for Straight as a Jalebi!

A message from LitWorldInteviews friend and one of my favorite people, Author Ritu Bhathal!

Ritu Bhathal image.Firstly, let me apologise for not posting for..[a while].

What can I say…

Being a full-time teacher in management, having recently been through the OFSTED debacle (we got Good, so I’m not complaining, but still, STRESS!), on top of being mum to two teens at critical points in their lives and development, as well as wife and daughter… yadda yadda… well, put it this way, it leaves little time for the creative side of me.

Still, I have news and lots of it!

Over the summer, I finally completed the manuscript for my second book, which will be book two in the Rishtay Series, following on from Marriage Unarranged.

It was sent off to several readers, my editor and my publisher, and though tweaks are still happening, we have a release date of 1st June 2023 to coincide with PRIDE month!

We also have a COVER REVEAL for this next offering, entitled Straight As A Jalebi!

Aaaand… here is the cover! I’m a little bit in love with it. I hope you like it, too!

Straight as a Jalebi cover.

Here is a micro blurb to whet your appetites:

Who knew that an innocent trip to India in the year 2000 would have such an impact on his life? Sunny had only gone as a chaperone for his sister and her best friend and to attend to a few business matters while out there. He ends up with a deal that will change the shape of his professional future and possibly his personal one, too.
But how would he be able to explain that to his family, who are gearing up to get him married off?

Straight as a Jalebi format types.

I am so excited about this one, but nervous, too, as some of the subject matter is out of my direct experience. This is why I have found a couple of sensitivity readers to ensure I have done the story justice.

amzn.to/3agE|0Pa

Marriage Unarranged cover and site image.It all started ended with that box…

The year 2000 and Aashi’s life was all set.
New Millennium, exciting beginnings, new life.
Or so she thought.

Like in the Bollywood films, Ravi would woo her, charm her family and they’d get married and live happily ever after.

But then Aashi found the empty condom box…

Putting her ex-fiancé and her innocence behind her, Aashi embarks upon an enlightening journey to another country, where vibrant memories are created and unforgettable friendships forged.

Old images erased, new beginnings to explore.

And how can she forget the handsome stranger she meets?
A stranger who’s hiding something…

https://ritubhathal.com/

ritu bhathal author photoRitu Bhathal is many things. Award winning Blogger. Author of a book of Poetry. Author of one full length published novel. One more book completed and ready for publishing. All of that is the easy part of her life. The hard part is too exhausting for me to list. ~Ronovan

Check out Ritu’s author site at https://ritubhathal.com/ to see the many ways to follow her on social media.

Mark the date. May 15th, 2023 for that June 1st release date. ~Ronovan

© 2014-2022- Ronovan Hester Copyright reserved. The author asserts his moral and legal rights over this work.

The PERIDOT SHIFT series! Pre-order book three today.

Thanks to my friends at Books Forward for sending me the first two books in The Peridot Shift series as well the Third, CAST OFF, to be released Dec. 6, 2022.

With amazing reviews, I can’t wait to jump into the adventure. If you’ve been visiting LitWorld for long you know I like some steampunk, scifi, and fantasy… but it has to be good for me to put down my other books to do it. Well, I’ve put the others down and am about to JUMP! I just hope CAPTAIN TALIS is there to save me.

On a planet cracked open by ancient magic, outlaws and pirates are the only ones with what it takes to save Peridot from its next apocalyptic threat.

CAST OFF by RJ Theodore

is available for pre-order now.

 

Peridot Shift Series

https://rjtheodore.com/

© 2014-2022- Ronovan Hester Copyright reserved. The author asserts his moral and legal rights over this work.

Andrew & The Treasured Spirit of the Northland – Guest Post by Author Able Barrett

Andrew & The Treasured Spirit of the Northland

I enter the darkness that has been cultured for thousands of years, the legends of life gone by, ringing within its corridors with a deafening silence. I feel the presence of both good and evil, which seem to loosely pull at me. Which direction to take? A light can only slightly penetrate the thickness of the darkness. Faces begin to appear as ghost-like images; it’s a warning, which I do not heed.

The images become clearer. They are the faces of beautiful women, goddesses perhaps; they draw my very being deeper into the darkness, serenaded by their gentle voices lifting away my fear of the unknown. I am floating now, effortlessly on a bed of soft blowing air. I am totally consumed. Have I fallen under a spell? I call out for help.

Suddenly there is a flash of brilliant light and the real faces of the women are revealed to me. They are the true evil ones, the guardians of the darkness, the Temptress Sirens of the Dark Lords. They have surrounded me. I see a faint light in the distance. I begin to run towards the light, I feel Temptress Sirens clawing at me as I try to go towards the light in hopes of a safe passage. I hear a voice ever so softly… “Don’t go to the light……. Don’t go to the light……. It will deceive you. Use your faith and follow your heart.”

I stop but I can feel the Temptress Sirens stalking me. I move through the
complete darkness with my eyes closed now. There then appears a golden mist that forms a stairway leading upward through the darkness. Without hesitation, I follow the stairway climbing slowly out of the darkness. I can still feel the draw of the Temptress Sirens at my back growing stronger. I become weary as I continue to climb. The strength of the Temptress Sirens is beginning to hold me back. I fear I cannot make it to the top. A silhouetted hand appears from out of the darkness above me. I do not know whether to take it. I have no choice. I grab the hand and a gentle pull brings me away from the grasp of the Temptress Sirens. I hear their shrieks of madness slowly fade away as I am pulled forward.

A gentle light appears and an Angel appears before me. She has the youthful
beauty of a thousand ages. I hear her gentle voice speaking to me yet her lips do not move. Her name is Afriel. She is a being of light charged with safeguarding young life. She is to protect that which is youthful and tenderly growing within each of us, no matter how old we actually are. Afriel grants youth, vigor, and vitality. She places her hand on my forehead and closes her eyes as she nods her head and says, “go forward and save your brother, Nicholas.”

The Great Tree coverAndrew and his older brother Nicholas were separated as children.

Nicholas had been snatched away by the Prince of Darkness, and Andrew had all but given up hope, but now their mother is ill, and he’s determined to reunite them before she passes – despite her objections.

With his dog Jenny by his side, Andrew sets out on an epic and perilous crusade well beyond his wildest imagination, facing evil protectors, giant wolves, dark magic, Sorcerers, Goblins, and even the Prince of Darkness himself.

Then there’s The Great Tree.

It’s enormous, with a presence that’s nearly impossible to describe…

And it’s clearly the heart of the kingdom of the wicked Sorcerer.

This is the setting for the adventure story that changed Christmas forever!

All proceeds from the sale of The Great Tree go to The Last Road Dog Animal Sanctuary to rescue unadoptable dogs, cats, and horses, an approved 501 (c)(3) Animal Public Welfare Charity that greatly appreciates the ongoing support of readers like you!

Jenny the dog is based on a very real Jenny, the author’s vision of a true warrior – who has her own inspiring story that he’s happy to share with anyone who asks.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0BGK2ZNJF
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/60553311-the-great-tree

Author Links:
Website: www.thelastroaddog.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TLRDSANCTUARY
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/blkdogr4/

Able Berrett photoAuthor Bio:
Able Barrett is a former Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney and U.S. Department of Justice Organized Crime Strike Force Prosecutor who shamelessly admits he loves animals more than most people, and he’s the manager of The Last Road Dog Animal Sanctuary.

Able Barrett Blog Tour Image

© 2014-2022- Ronovan Hester Copyright reserved. The author asserts his moral and legal rights over this work.

LitWorld’s 10 Questions with M. Laszlo, author of The Phantom Glare of Day.

 
The Phantom Glare of Day book cover.LitWorld’s 10 Questions
with
M. Laszlo

What would be your one sentence elevator pitch of what your book is about?
In this trio of novellas, three game young ladies enter into dangerous liaisons that test each one’s limits and force them to confront the most heartrending issues facing society in the early twentieth century. The Phantom Glare of Day is a compelling interrogation of who gets to decide what is right and what is wrong.

[The novellas are set during the height of WWI and post-WWI Europe.]

What book/author/movie/TV show/song might a potential reader compare your book to in order to get an idea of its feel and why?
The Phantom Glare of Day might best be described as traditional, twentieth-century melodrama suffused with the following: Goth youth culture, the film Nosferatu, lots of Germanic brooding, the poetry and symbolism of Nietzsche, and a ravishingly beautiful figure-skating ballet just for good measure.

Why did you choose this topic for your book?
This topic chose me. These novellas arise from a deeply held obsession with grasping the essential ethical issues that face society. By writing the book, it is my hope that the novellas may challenge readers to think about and to come to terms with those same heartrending questions.

What led to your choosing the setting for your book? In part your mention of steampunk as used in your book.
Having traveled to London, Paris, and Prague, and having kept travel diaries for those beautiful cities, there was no way to avoid my setting stories in those remarkable places. Interestingly, though, my impressions of Prague were always informed by the genre of steampunk. What I mean by that is that Prague is the city with which I’ve always associated the science-fiction play Rossum’s Universal Robots. Because of this, Prague inspired me to write about steampunk/primitive robotic technologies—as such, these peculiar technologies and themes and obsessions appear in that tale. With regard to Weimar, that’s the most peculiar question for me because I’ve never been there. Still, the history of das Bauhaus has always fascinated me—and because of this, there was no way to avoid the temptation to set a tale there.

How did you come up with the title of your book?
The Phantom Glare of Day comes from a line in “Butterflies”—a WW-era Siegfried Sassoon poem. The title seemed perfect to me because various world religions have always associated butterflies with the immortality of the soul. For me, that metaphysical idea resonates because these three novellas amount to a new kind of metaphysical storytelling.

How has your world traveling impressed itself on your writing?
Nothing has impressed my writing more than my travels to London, where I became fascinated by British colloquialism and phraseology. Nothing else makes British characters come to life more than giving them authentic voices as they engage one another in dialogue. In short, dialogue has to be real. Characters must talk the way people really talk. This comes down to the fact it is the vernacular that makes characters and their stories seem genuine. My travel diaries provided me with all kinds of descriptions of various places, of course; nevertheless, my travel diaries were most important to me in that they included many, many lists of those remarkable terms that only the Brits use.

What will connect the reader to the story?
These novellas tell of how people struggle with issues that anyone can find relatable: school bullying, abortion, euthanasia, political extremism, and homophobia. As such, any reader should be able to connect with the characters. At the same time, the narrator’s voice remains solemn and philosophical; moreover, the writing is suffused in objective correlative—symbols intended to resonate with the reader’s unconscious mind. If the reader really gives my work a chance, the reader can and will connect.
Remember, though, when you read The Phantom Glare of Day, you’ll quickly see that it’s like nothing you’ve ever read before. Perhaps that’s why the work is fated to get so many mixed reviews. This work is weird and revolutionary in its style.

Did you have difficulty deciding your book was ready to publish?
Yes and no. Leonardo Da Vinci said it best: “Art is never finished, only abandoned.”

What genre(s) and reader ages would your work fit best?
As for genre, there are different possibilities: coming of age, urban fantasy, historical fiction, metaphysical fiction, melodrama, and perhaps even magical realism. In truth, the work is trans-genre. Also, who cares what the genre is? It’s literature. And it’s meant for anyone mature enough to embrace the idea of freethinking and/or open-mindedness and/or freedom for the sake of freedom.

What’s your next project idea?
My next project promises to be a complete mind-scramble. In the coming book, it is my intention to take the reader on a journey alongside a figure who resolves the riddle of the universe—and in the final movement of the tale, the character will in fact explain the riddle of the universe. For that matter, too, the answer provided will be accurate. And that is my pledge.

Biography of M. Laszlo

M. Laszlo Author Photo M. Laszlo is the pseudonym of a reclusive author living in Bath, Ohio. According to rumor, he based the pen name on the name of the Paul Henreid character in Casablanca, Victor Laszlo.

He has lived and worked in New York City, East Jerusalem, and several other cities around the world. While living in the Middle East, he worked for Harvard University’s Semitic Museum. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Hiram College in Hiram, Ohio and an M.F.A. in poetry from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York.

His next work is forthcoming from SparkPress in 2024. There are whispers that the work purports to be a genuine attempt at positing an explanation for the riddle of the universe and is based on journals and idea books made while completing his M.F.A at Sarah Lawrence College.

The Phantom Glare of Day is available at Amazon.

© 2014-2022- Ronovan Hester Copyright reserved. The author asserts his moral and legal rights over this work.

16 Questions with Kurt Hansen, author of Daughters of Teutobod.

Daughters of Teutobod is a story of love triumphing over hate, of persistence in the face of domination, and of the strength of women in the face of adversity.

Gudrun is the stolen wife of Teutobod, the leader of the Teutons in Gaul in 102 BCE. Her story culminates in a historic battle with the Roman army.

Susanna is a German American farm wife in Pennsylvania whose husband, Karl, has strong affinity for the Nazi party in Germany. Susanna’s story revolves around raising her three daughters and one son as World War II unfolds.

Finally, Gretel is the infant child of Susanna, now seventy-nine years old and a professor of women’s studies, a US senator and Nobel laureate for her World Women’s Initiative. She is heading to France to represent the United States at the seventy-fifth anniversary of the liberation of southern France, at the commemoration site where her older brother, who was killed in action nearby, is buried. The site is very near the location where the Romans defeated the Teutons.

 

Daughters of Teutobod Front Cover

How did you do research for your book?
Online searches for everything about the Teutons to pre-war Pennsylvania and the earliest training of American Rangers, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and modern-day sites in Paris and Southern France.

Which was the hardest character to write? The easiest?
Hardest? Ada.
Easiest? Gretel.

How long have you been writing?
After heart disease forced early retirement, I began attending the Iowa Summer Writer’s Festival in 2014. I began writing poetry, but soon began writing novels.

What is your next project?
A book entitled Chameleon, about a man in treatment for Borderline personality disorder.

What genre do you write and why?
I write character driven stories and historical fiction because those are what interest me.

What is the last great book you’ve read?
Chances Are by Richard Russo

If your book were made into a movie, who would star in the leading roles?
The only one I’ve had an instant intuition for is the elder Gretel, who would surely be portrayed nicely by Meryl Streep.

If your book were made into a movie, what songs would be on the soundtrack?
Not sure, but during closing credits, I could suggest Respect by Aretha Franklin.

What were the biggest rewards and challenges with writing your book?
Greatest reward is the coming together of the various story elements. Greatest challenge is slogging through the research and persisting through the dialogues.

In one sentence, what was the road to publishing like?
It was painful and frustrating.

Which authors inspired you to write?
Philip Roth, Harper Lee, Richard Russo, Flannery O’Connor, Charles Dickens, Michael Crighton, Dan Brown, Kurt Vonnegut, Amy Hassinger
&nbsp;

Fun stuff:
Favorite travel spot?
Toledo, Spain.

Favorite dessert?
Sour cream raisin pie.

If you were stuck on a deserted island, which 3 books would you want with you?
To Kill a Mockingbird, A Tale of Two Cities, and the Bible.

Any hobbies? or Name a quirky thing you like to do.
I collect rock-n-roll memorabilia. Signed record albums and photos and so forth.

What is your theme song?
“You’ve Got a Friend” by James Taylor

Kurt Hansen HeadshotAuthor Bio:

Kurt Hansen is from Racine, Wisconsin, and has lived in Kansas, Texas, and Iowa. He has
experience in mental health and family systems as well as in parish ministry and administration.
He holds degrees in psychology, social work and divinity. Kurt now lives in Dubuque, Iowa with
his wife of 44 years, Dr. Susan Hansen, a professor emerita of international business. Kurt is
the author of Gathered (2019). Daughters of Teutobod is his second novel.

Website: https://www.authorkurthansen.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/revkurthansen
Amazon: Kurt Hansen Author Page
Goodreads:  Kurt Hansen

Kurt Hansen blog tour Image

© 2014-2022- Ronovan Hester Copyright reserved. The author asserts his moral and legal rights over this work.

14 Questions with Reenita M Hora, author of Operation Mom.

Ila, a Mumbai-based teenager, is going nuts with Veena, her controlling, single mother who prevents her from stalking her pop idol, Ali Zafar. Veena wants her daughter to date real guys in the lead-up to finding a husband. But Ila decides  that the only way to get her mom off her back is by finding her a boyfriend instead. With the help of her best friend Deepali, her crush Dev and her mother’s best friend Maleeka, they will come up with a plan to make it happen by setting up a profile in dating apps.

 

Operation Mom cover image

This interview has to start off with this question. In your book you make a reference to George Michael, how did you come up with this idea?

In my book, I make reference to George Michael of Wham, the famous English pop singer who I was desperately in love with in my teen years. And I know that I speak for just about every woman who grew up in the 80s!  The George Michael anecdote is taken directly  from my life – I stalked him in my teen years, and in mind you in those days there was no such thing as social media, cell phone – smart or dumb or the internet. So the fact that I traveled from Mumbai to London one summer and tracked him down is a real life example of investigative research that I take great pride in!

I guess here is the story – a year or two before I wrote the book, I was chatting with my brother’s friend at a party and somehow, we got talking about the whole George Michael episode. The guy listened with rapt amazement as I gave him the details of how I stalked the pop star through his cat. He said to me ‘That would make a great chick flick, you know!’

I was intrigued but know nothing about film so decided to turn it into YA chick-lit instead!

There are many books out there about the life of women in India, Mumbai in this case….What makes yours different?

Oh my goodness, do you like to laugh? If so then Operation Mom will hit your funny bone. I think that many of us Indians take ourselves too seriously and cliched as it sounds, laughter really is medicine for your mind-body. The BBC has done huge amounts of research on how it helps the aging process, supports fitness and keeps couples together. But this book is not simply about LOL moments, it’s about LOL moments in the Bombay context — it offers a real window into the trials and tribulations of the feisty Punjai woman in Bombay.

And then there is that whole element of predictability and safety in India. You don’t find stories where the daughter is setting the mother up – usually it happens the other way around. You don’t find stories which expose you to a variety of ethnic situations strewn around Mumbai – all ripe for comedic interpretation. That’s what I wanted to do. As a Mumbaikar…or a Bombay-ite, I feel like I have many affinities – to the Punjabi way of life, to the Parsi community, to places like Swati Snacks and Worli Seaface…these all found their way into my book.

How did you do research for your book?

Having grown up in Mumbai, the research was easy. I knew the places I wanted to set the story in. I knew what they were about and the kind of crazy character chaos that I would find in those locations.  Of course, this being a YA book, me now being a full-fledged adult (at least in size if not maturity levels), I knew I had to be up with the ‘method of madness’ of the current Mumbai young adult. So I had huge amounts of fun talking to my school going nephew and his friends to learning the lingo, compare the mindset from my time to theirs and quickly adapt to the change. Then of course I had fun taking long bus rides through town and hanging out at places like Swati Snacks and Kalaghoda Cafe (locations referred to in the story) to people watch and eavesdrop on conversations.  Research is really one of the most fun parts of creating a story.

In your book you seem to look at relationships between flawed characters….why is that?

In my book I talk about relationships among flawed characters because isn’t this who we are and what makes us tick? I capture the sometimes-difficult relationship between mother and daughter, friend and friend, husband and wife, and boy and girl. My exploration is that of coming of age in a world filled with imperfect people. I aim to be both humorous and heartfelt, and from beginning to end, I resist any attempt to apply makeup to innocence, or hide the stubbornness or intelligence of my characters.

If you could put yourself as a character in your book, who would you be?

Another hard one. While in many ways I myself identify with the plight of Ila and her mom, Veena, it’s hard not to fall in love with the wild and wacky Aunty Maleeka or Deepali. They are the very antithesis of the classic Punjabi woman and in many ways they are who Veena and Ila live vicariously through. Truth is, I think we all need a bit of Aunty Maleeka or Deepali in our lives!

Which was the hardest character to write? The easiest?

Oof, this is hard to say. Ila and Veena (mother and daughter) are essentially the same woman in two different generational bodies. So when I look at the zany women in my own household, Yours Truly in particular, it isn’t hard to come up with traits and quirks that easily define these main characters. As to the hardest character again…there has been.

How are you similar to or different from your lead character?

Like I alluded to earlier, in many ways I identify with the plight of Ila and her mom, Veena. Both of these characters are essentially the same woman in two different bodies. When I look at them, I see aspects of my teenage self and my adult self. My traits ring through in both — obsessiveness, zest for life, indomitable free spirit, my insecurities….oh yes!

What is something you had to cut from your book that you wish you could have kept?

I am not sure about the book but there is plenty I have to cut from the screenplay…like the whole flamenco dance class scene.

What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?

Readers tell me that they can totally identify with my characters even if they are from a different culture. This makes me happy  😊

Also Chanticleer Reviews said: “This book will have you laughing out loud. It will keep you reading into the night to see what life has in store for these lovable characters who leap off the page and capture your heart and your imagination. Reenita Malhotra Hora’s novel, Operation Mom: My Plan to Get My Mom a Life and a Man, is a highly recommended and delightful five-star read.”

This made me happy too 😊

Which authors inspired you to write?

Oh goodness! So many!

As a child – Enid Blyton. Not the choice of children’s author for anyone who has been a child since I became an adult!

As a child and an adult – Lewis Carrol, Gerald Durrell, Eric Segal

As an adult – David Sedaris, Nora Ephron, Andrew Ross Sorkin.Walter Isaacson, and of course the inimitable JK Rowling.

If you could go back in time, where would you go?

1980s. Bombay to relive my teens and London to see George Michael 😊

What song is currently playing on a loop in your head?

Duran Duran’s – Wild Boys.  I just saw them in concert, that’s why.

Who was your childhood celebrity crush?

George Michael of course!!!!

What is your next project?

Oof, which one?! As far as books and stories go, I would say Shadow Realm – Part 1 & 2 of the Arya Chronicles series.  This is a YA fantasy fiction story. Part 1 is already out as an audio series which you can check out here: www.thearyachronicles.com/podcast. We are currently in production for Season 2 which will launch in Spring 2023.  The print book version of Shadow Realm will be next as far as books go, followed hopefully soon thereafter by a graphic novel.

I also have a historical fiction novel in the works – Playtime at the Bagh and Ace of Blades, the “Succession-like” memoirs of my later father, RK.Malhotra, the dynamic creator of India’s home-grown shaving products industry.

Operation Mom: My Plan to Get My Mom a Life… and a Man is available at

 

 

 

Reenita M. Hora Author PhotoAuthor Bio:

Reenita Malhotra Hora is a founder, executive-level content, operations & marketing leader, and prolific writer. With multiple years of experience in media, entertainment, communications, tech/innovation and wellness industries in the USA and Asia, she grows organizations, ranging from early stage startups through mid-size businesses, through storytelling, creative marketing and business strategy.

Reenita has written seven books – five non fiction and two fiction. She is the writer, anchor and executive producer of Shadow Realm and True Fiction Project podcasts and founder of the Chapter by episode fiction app. She has contributed to The Hindu, South China Morning Post, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, CNN, Asian Investor, Times of India, National Geographic Kids, Cartoon Network Asia, Disney, and more.

Website: http://www.reenita.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ReenitaMalhotraHora
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/reenita_storyteller/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/reenymal 

Reenita Malhotra blog tour dates and sites.

© 2014-2022- Ronovan Hester Copyright reserved. The author asserts his moral and legal rights over this work.

11 Questions with Edna Dratch-Parker & Jeri Solomon of Guide To Smart Wedding Planning.

Smart Wedding Guide Planning Book Cover.

GUIDE TO SMART WEDDING PLANNING 

Edna Dratch-Parker & Jeri Solomon

On writing:

How did you do research for your book?
Being in the business of weddings for years, our work was our research! We also interviewed our clients to ask them what information they wished they had known at the start of their planning journey.

Do you have another profession besides writing?
Yes! Edna is a wedding planner, designer and brander. Jeri is a floral designer. We have decades of experience in the world of weddings. We’ve collaborated on many events and even won some national awards.

What is your next project?
Currently we’re working on a companion workbook for Guide to Smart Wedding Planning. We also have other planning tools in the pipeline so stay tuned!

What were the biggest rewards and challenges with writing your book?
The challenges- writing while also running a business full time. The biggest reward is holding the book in our hands and having people tell us that the information made a difference in their wedding planning experience.

In one sentence, what was the road to publishing like?
The road was steep and winding!

What is one piece of advice you would give to an aspiring author?
Just keep at it. No matter how long it takes

 

Fun stuff:

Favorite dessert?
Anything chocolate

Any hobbies?
Jeri is a certified yoga teacher. Edna likes to go on motorcycle rides with her husband. We are both cat lovers.

If there is one thing you want readers to remember about you, what would it be?
The Real Deal Wedding Insiders® are your go-to source for wedding planning info!

What is something you’ve learned about yourself during the pandemic?
In March of 2020 we were getting ready to publish our book and then the world shut down. We had no idea what the future would bring so we paused. We did make some edits to the book post pandemic about the wedding planning process, but our general advice did not change. We’re very happy about that because that means our advice stands the test of time!

Tell us about your longest friendship.
Our friendship! It is not the “longest” but the reason why we wrote this book. We first met at a networking event in Boston. Then we did a few weddings together and started to learn that we had so many things in common. For example we grew up in neighboring towns, we each have 2 sisters, our fathers were physicians, we’re married to men named Jim.  But then we discovered some unique connections; Jeri’s older sister was born in France while her father served in the Air Force and Edna was ALSO born in France while her father served in the Army. Then one day, Jeri was helping her aunt Eleanor plan her anniversary party. They were in a common area in her retirement home, discussing how to set up the space. There was a woman eyeing them from a corner. After a little while she approached Jeri and Eleanor and asked “are you planning a party?” Eleanor explained that Jeri was in the “wedding business” and was helping her. To which the woman responded “Really! My niece is a wedding planner!” Of course her niece was Edna! Jeri immediately texted Edna to tell her that “Aunt Mary says Hi.” At that point, we knew for sure that we were more like family than friends.

Author Bio:Edna and Jeri Profile Photo

With a combined 30 years and hundreds of weddings produced, Edna Dratch-Parker, founder,
and creative director of EFD Creative—Event Planning &amp; Design, and Jeri Solomon, owner of
Jeri Solomon Floral Design, bring their depth of knowledge and real-life experiences to help
couples avoid common mistakes, reduce stress, and truly enjoy the wedding planning process.

 

Website:  https://www.realdealweddinginsiders.com/
Facebook:
@RealDealWeddingInsiders
@EFDCreative
@jerifloraldesign

Instagram:
@weddinginsiders
@efd_creative
@jerifloral

TIKTOK: @RealDealWeddingInsiders

Twitter:
@RDWedInsiders
@EFD_Creative
@JeriFloral

 

Jeri Solomon blog tour Image with All site addresses.

© 2014-2022- Ronovan Hester Copyright reserved. The author asserts his moral and legal rights over this work.

Review of Joan He’s STRIKE THE ZITHER.

Strike the Zither Book Cover

  • Title: Strike the Zither (Kingdom of Three, 1)
  • Author: Joan He
  • Print Length: 368
  • Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
  • Publication Date: October 25, 2022
  • Language: English
  • Formats:  eBook and Hardcover and Audible
  • Genres: Fantasy, Teen and Young Adult
  • Purchase links below. Audible also available

 

amazon logobarnes & noble logoBook Depository image to clickbookshop.org logo buttonbooktopia logoindie bound logoWaterstones books logo

 

 

For signed copies visit Joan He’s site for outlets HERE.

A dazzling new fantasy from New York Times and Indie bestselling author Joan He, Strike the Zither is a powerful, inventive, and sweeping fantasy that reimagines the Chinese classic tale of the Three Kingdoms.

The year is 414 of the Xin Dynasty, and chaos abounds. A puppet empress is on the throne. The realm has fractured into three factions and three warlordesses hoping to claim the continent for themselves.

But Zephyr knows it’s no contest.

Orphaned at a young age, Zephyr took control of her fate by becoming the best strategist of the land and serving under Xin Ren, a warlordess whose loyalty to the empress is double-edged―while Ren’s honor draws Zephyr to her cause, it also jeopardizes their survival in a war where one must betray or be betrayed. When Zephyr is forced to infiltrate an enemy camp to keep Ren’s followers from being slaughtered, she encounters the enigmatic Crow, an opposing strategist who is finally her match. But there are more enemies than one―and not all of them are human.


I received an Advanced Reader Copy of this book for an honest review.

First I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed this book, even if I don’t describe that fact justly in the following.

It was difficult to write a review without spoilers but I did my best. (I really wanted to reveal things because I enjoyed it a lot.)

The book is a a blend of historical, fantasy, sword and sorcery. Although mostly written with young adults as characters, and perhaps as the general target audience, I enjoyed it and didn’t need to put ages to them.

I’m going to geek about history for a moment but don’t necessarily look at this as strictly a historical fiction book, or even fantasy book.

I am a big history person. I studied history in college. Became a history teacher, and even wrote a historical fiction novel. So when I had the opportunity to review author JOAN HE’s latest work, STRIKE THE ZITHER, I jumped at it. And I am not disappointed. Combining historical elements with fantasy, the story moves quickly and I didn’t want to put it down. In fact, I stopped watching Netflix and read the book through the night until I finished. And did I have some surprises to experience.

Now the review.

CHARACTER

The reader will find unique characters and voices. Although some serve similar purposes, as they must in a story like this, they do have their own personalities that make them stand apart from the rest of the cast.

One thing to keep in mind is this re-imagining of the Three Kingdoms is a matriarchal society. Those in power are women and normally their primary advisors and supporters are the same.

The main character of the book is an 18 year old woman called ZEPHYR. a highly intelligent strategist whose only purpose in life is to keep XIN REN alive and bring her success. No matter what she must do to achieve this goal. She’s small and weak of body and does not take action as a warrior and this is seen as more of a hindrance than an asset by many of those serving Xin Ren. But they all secretly realize that without her brain, they would be dead before the time this story even begins.

Zephyr is often at odds with Xin Ren’s SWORNSISTERS CLOUD and LOTUS. Two fierce warriors. More mature in mind is the GENERAL TOURMALINE who does give Zephyr her support and acknowledgement of the young strategist’s skill.

Not everyone is a friend or supporter of Xin Ren.

PRIME MINISTRESS MIASMA considers Xin Ren a rival since the two are closest to the EMPRESS XIN BAO. Mirasma wishes to do away with her rival. There is a young governor of the Southlands and Xin Ren’s uncle who is governor of the Westlands.

Finally there is CROW, a strategist for Miasma that causes many problems for Zephyr’s strategies and plans for Xin Ren and the future of the Empire.

There are some surprising characters that hit our protagonist hard emotionally but there are also some who are simply surprising in their determination and focus on a goal.

WORLD-BUILDING

JOEN HE’s world gives a nice look at what conflicts within China’s history might look like and the intricacies of how people work together within a group although they don’t agree with each other, except for their loyalty to their leader.

The reader will enjoy the structure the country is given with their own distinct geographical characteristics that give the various people their personalities.

The matriarchal system isn’t all that noticeable to this reader. Yes, it’s there and at first I did see it, but after a few pages, it was simply part of the story and didn’t make a difference in my thinking.

The fantasy aspect of the story is hinted at for a while, but when it seriously shows up it hits you in the face… for a moment. It’s well done, and a good surprise. It explains a lot of things. Then I quickly fell back into the story.

There is one part of the fantasy part that is kind of odd but I think it is more because it’s more how a Chinese myth would go as opposed to the more mundane western ideas.

THEMES

Good v Evil or it could be the perception of the reader as to what is good for the Empire being done in a harsh/evil way. Or is this version of good really good at all.

Redemption: Zephyr’s journey is an obvious one as the book goes along, but there are others we see as well.

Courage and Perseverance: This is evident not only with warriors but with weaker ones standing up and taking chances for their leaders.

Revenge: A theme that runs through any story of war and discord but is used as an excuse by some but as truth by others.

DISLIKES

I can’t say there is anything I didn’t like about the book. And that’s rare. Maybe the only thing might be that book two isn’t here yet?

LIKES

The main characters are excellent and realistic for the time and the story.

Using an ancient setting is more difficult than people might think when reimagining history while including fantasy. Joan: He does it well.

I enjoyed the surprise aspects of the story that added complexity. Complexity can slow a book’s story but in this case I didn’t want to put it down until I finished.

CONCLUSION

Strike the Zither is a must read for fans of HISTORICAL FICTION and who are okay with a little FANTASY. I say little fantasy because I don’t see it as too overt. You’ll need to read it for that to make sense. There is ACTION and BATTLES. SUBTERFUGE. SURPRISE ROMANCE angles. The ending sets up for the next book. And done just right to make it easy to wait for the next book but still wanting you to wish it were here already. I would make sure you follow Joan He to see when the next one comes out… as a reminder.

RATING SYSTEM

3=Good and meets what I hope a book should be. A success.

4=Better than expected, didn’t put it down, enjoyable. Would easily recommend to others. THIS IS A GREAT RATING FROM ME.

5=Knocks me out. Would read it over and over again. RARE FROM ME.

A 4.1 STARS out of 5 based on…

Realistic Characters/Character Development based on genre: 4

World Building: 4

Believability based on genre and intent: 4

Flow/Readability/Clarity: 4

Overall Enjoyment: 4.5


About the author

Joan He profile photo.Joan He was born and raised in Philadelphia but still will, on occasion, lose her way. At a young age, she received classical instruction in oil painting before discovering that storytelling was her favorite form of expression. She studied Psychology and East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Pennsylvania and currently writes in Chicago. She is the New York Times bestselling author of The Ones We’re Meant to Find, Descendant of the Crane, and Strike the Zither, the first book in the Kingdom of Three duology.


© 2022- Ronovan Hester Copyright reserved. The author asserts his moral and legal rights over this work.

Review of Blue Flame: Book Two of the Daemon Collecting Series by Alison Levy.

Blue Flame book cover. Box with a etheral hand coming out of it.
  • Title: Blue Flame: Book Two of the Daemon Collecting Series
  • Author: Alison Levy
  • Print Length: 415
  • Publisher: SparkPress
  • Publication Date: October 11, 2022
  • Language: English
  • Formats:  eBook and Paperback (At various outlets including Amazon and B&N.)
  • Genres: Science Fiction, Fantasy
  • Purchase links below. Audible also available

 

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I received an Advanced Reader Copy of this book for an honest review.

Author Alison Levy creates a universe/world called Nota, that is parallel to our own in which everything here exists there but with a twist of Fantasy and Science Fiction being a reality. It is a bit more layered than that with other dimensions playing havoc with Nota. One very young character tries to protect his mother from an enemy only he can see. Another tries to reclaim his life, while another character desires to learn about a culture from another dimension. All this occurs while trying to solve Daemon glitches that threaten the Nota universe/dimension.

CHARACTER
The main characters are varied and unique to each other. No two share the same role or personality, which carries over into their speech. I like this trait in writing characters because the reader can tell who is speaking or thinking at times without being given the individual’s name. Particular favorites for some will likely be the ARCANAN (another dimension but human) Daemon Collector RACHEL WILDER, pronounced RAH-kel. Rachel is blunt with her words and doesn’t fully get newly realized gatekeeper NOTAN (Think our Earth, but a bit different.) LEDA MORELY’s fascination with Arcanan culture. Leda works in a museum and has language skills. Rachel is teaching Leda how to be a gatekeeper, who is responsible for notifying Arcana if a deadly defective CHAOS DAEMON breaches the gate from his prison dimension. Other favorites would be BACH, a seer of sorts who can see the future of people around him as long as he is not too entangled with them. Bach is trying to put his life back together after a rough time and begins taking care of a dog, which is almost like therapy for him. NAJI is a young boy trying to protect his mother from a DJINN that only he can see. Then there is AZRAQ, a Djinn who was enslaved thousands of years ago.

WORLD-BUILDING
ALISON LEVY has created a world with many layers to explore and of which I look forward to learning more. At one point in the story, Rachel Wilde attempts to explain the reality of how the various dimensions work and the number there are. Very well done. As for the Nota dimension, you get good sensory descriptions, at times, and good emotional responses. There are supporting characters that contribute to expanding the world and explain why some of the main characters are the way they are.

THEMES
Good v Evil
Redemption
Courage and Perseverance
Revenge
Worldview Sharing – The comparison of dimensional cultures and the inclusion of cultures and religions we know into the explanation of how certain characters and elements came to be in the story are well done. The sharing of the differences in what is important in the Arcanan dimension compared to the Notan makes for quite an insightful and thought-provoking read but all in a Fantasy and a vague Science Fiction way.

DISLIKES
I think there could’ve been more physical descriptions of some of the main characters early in the story, although in a way without those descriptions, the reader can put in place what they see and later on in the story might be surprised, or not, to the reality.
The Djinni gave quick chapters dedicated to their thoughts but at first, you don’t know which is which or even that there are two different characters… at least I didn’t pick on it early. The left side is one and the right side is another. Once knowing this, it is easier to make sense of it. The creation of small pocket dimensions, such as the one where Rachel’s temporary home while a Daemon Collector is in, could be explained better.

LIKES
The main characters are excellent, likeable, and relatable. Some of the supporting characters are good, but of course you aren’t supposed to like them all.
The overall concept of the story and world are well done.
The weaving of our worldviews, beliefs, and cultures into the story as a way for Notan’s to comprehend and cope with  what’s happening to them was a good idea.

CONCLUSION
Blue Flame is a good read that makes me want to read the first book and look forward to what happens in the next . It has more going on than you realize, with those goings-on being connected in ways you don’t see coming. You become invested in the futures of the characters.

RATING SYSTEM
3=Good and meets what I hope a book should be. A success.
4=Better than expected, didn’t put it down, enjoyable. Would easily recommend to others. THIS IS A GREAT RATING FROM ME.
5=Knocks me out. Would read it over and over again. RARE FROM ME.

A 3.8 of 5 STAR RATING based on…
Realistic Characters/Character Development based on genre: 4
World Building: 3.5
Believability based on genre and intent: 4
Flow/Readability/Clarity: 3.5
Overall Enjoyment: 4


About the author

Alison Levy photo.Alison Levy lives in Greensboro, North Carolina with her husband, son, and a variety of pets. When she is not writing or doing mom things, she crochets, gardens, walks her collies, and works on home improvement projects.

Her books feature female characters who are strong but flawed, making them more relatable. They stay rooted in everyday life while world-building in their fictional cultures. Intolerance of differences has become widespread in recent years. Gatekeeper encourages readers to look beyond what they consider normal and see through foreign eyes, a message that I hope will appeal to many in today’s climate.


© 2022- Ronovan Hester Copyright reserved. The author asserts his moral and legal rights over this work.

LitWorldInterviews is now on Instagram.

I know, it’s been a long time coming. But, we’re finally on Instagram. Taking so long is another sign of how burned out I was back then. Normally I would’ve had us on there within the first months but… we’re there now.

At some point I’ll figure out how the Linktree work properly. For now, I’m putting the website post url inside the post.

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I’ll be adding some of our already existing interviews and reviews to the site as time goes by.

12 Questions with L.M. Rapp, author of Dreadful Beauty.

A girl undergoing a terrifying transformation goes on an epic quest to find a refuge from her
ruthless father.

Nymphosis, a disease that turns Humans into Chimeras, is ravaging the land of Gashom. The
More-Than-Pure, determined to protect themselves, have seized power and enacted
segregationist laws.

The daughter of a high dignitary, young Neria learns she is afflicted by the very disease her
father is determined to eradicate. Forced to surrender her privileges, she must flee her home in
the capital and traverse the strange wilds to seek refuge with her fellow kind.

Will she have the courage to fight oppression to emancipate the Chimeras from the yoke of the
More-Than-Pure?

Dreadful Beauty cover

Book available in both English and French.

12 Questions with L.M. Rapp

Which was the hardest character to write? The easiest?

None of the characters were easy to write about, but certainly the most difficult was the tyrannical father. I read three different books about serial killers before I began to understand the reasoning of a psychopath.

In your book, you describe the gargoyles’ people. What made you use elements of Gothic architecture for creating these characters?

During a visit to Notre Dame de Paris, I was able to admire the sculptures of gargoyles that adorn its facade. Their mere presence evoked a fabulous universe and served as great inspiration in my novel.

Where do you get inspiration for your stories?

The ideas seem to me to be floating around, in books, events, and encounters, and that it is enough to sit for long hours in front of a computer screen and concentrate on arranging them in a new way.

There are many books out there about chimeras. What makes yours different?

The story follows a family and a people through a tone that is both intimate and epic, which is rather unusual in this kind of literature. The plot captures the struggles of humanity through a fantasy lens, making it both digestible and thought-provoking.

If you could put yourself as a character in your book, who would you be?

I think I would like to be Matar, the Pedler. I envy his freedom and independence, despite the difficulties he faces in his life.

Do you have another profession besides writing?

I have had other professions in the past, but writing has become my main focus at the moment. I still practice and teach aikido, which actually turns out to be really useful when I write combat scenes.

What is your next project?

I will soon publish a thriller about a woman who decides, after a divorce, to take over her parents’ farm: a return to nature that does not go as planned. I also just started writing a science fiction book.

What genre do you write and why?

I choose the story first. The genre follows. I don’t force myself to create series. I think that having fun while writing increases the chances that the reader will have fun too.

How are you similar to or different from your lead character?

It’s a difficult question. I’m too close to her to tell. The similarity would be that she doesn’t give up easily. That being said, I find her more stubborn than I am.

Which authors inspired you to write?

Tolkien, Barbara Pym, Kazuo Ishiguro, Camus, Albert Cohen, Proust, Baudelaire and many others.

What’s the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?

I hesitate between leaving France, my birth country, or having three children.

Who was your childhood celebrity crush?

When they were first released, Star Wars and Indiana Jones were some sort of revelation. And Harrison Ford was the handsome cool hero in both of them.

 

L.M. Rapp Author PhotoAuthor Bio:

L.M. Rapp has lived in different countries and practiced several professions: dentist, web
developer, artist, aikido teacher, farmer. Eager to learn and discover, she uses her experiences
to enrich her stories. She has also written a thriller, Of Flesh and Tears.

 

 

Follow L. M. Rapp at/on

Website: https://www.lmrap.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/L.M.Rapp
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/l.m.rapp/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LMRappAuthor

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3JrBPFS
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/60560084-dreadful-beauty

Visit these other sites for more information about L. M. Rapp and Dreadful Beauty.

L.M. Rapp Blog Tour list image.

© 2014-2022- Ronovan Hester Copyright reserved. The author asserts his moral and legal rights over this work.

Interested in being a Book Reviewer or other?

We need Book Reviewers and Self Publishing advice writers.

Lit World Interviews is a site I started many years ago where authors can get free online promotion. Now I’m looking for some new Book Reviewers and people who have advice to share in the areas of Writing, Self-Publishing, and Book Promotion. This is a great opportunity to share their opinions on books that sometimes are overlooked. Also to share the experience one might have that can help others achieve their dream of becoming an author with their book in the hands of readers. LWI is a volunteer run site. I would like to get some posts going again in regards to:
  • Book reviews
  • Self-publishing: Both the how to and promotion. Speaking from experience and/or sharing article links and advice from the pros. This tend to be our most viewed articles over time. Our former resident experts really knew their stuff.
  • If you writing/editing/style advice.
This isn’t an every week thing, or even once a month. It’s as you can do them. email me at litworldinterviews @ gmail.com if you are interested. It would be helpful if you include something from the following, so I can see work you may have done:
  • Which of the mentioned areas you would like to participate in.
  • Your site address, if you have one
  • Your name, of course
  • Your social media outlets. The ones you are willing to share posts on. And if you are willing to share the other posts from the site to Twitter, automatically. That’s how they CAN occur, but not MUST occur.
  • Your genre interests (I don’t really have a no genre approved list. But I’m sure something will come up someday. But I’m not looking for that one to occur.)
  • Links to any reviews you may have done on Amazon or Goodreads
email me at litworldinterviews @ gmail.com if you are interested. Sincerely, Ronovan

An excerpt from The Portraitist by Susanne Dunlap.

A special excerpt from The portraitist (Available Tuesday, august 30) by Susanne Dunlap.

Click here for Susanne’s interview.

The PortraitistParis, August 1774

Whenever sleep eluded her, Adélaïde would gaze out the window of the third-floor apartment she shared with her husband and think about colors. She’d stare hardly blinking for hours, noticing all the subtle variations of hue that, to a skilled eye, gave the sky as much movement and character as a living creature. Even as a child, she had understood that nothing was fixed, that light changed whatever it touched. Take the human face: Skin was not one color, but many, and never exactly the same from one moment to the next. She knew, for instance, that if Nicolas ever discovered what she was going to do that day, his face would take on one of the shades of thundercloud that had become more and more familiar to her as they drifted apart, and then she would be obliged to cajole him back to a placid pale pink.

He lay in the bed next to her, sprawled on his back, snoring open-mouthed and dripping saliva on his pillow. With a snort, he rolled away from her, and Adélaïde eased herself out from between the sheets, nudged her toes into her slippers, and stood.

“You’re up early,” Nicolas said, making her jump.

She pulled on her dressing gown as she walked into what served as kitchen and dining area. “I’ll wrap up some bread and cheese for you.”

Nicolas threw off the covers and shook himself from shoulders to toes before whisking his night shirt over his head and dressing for his job as secretary to the clergy. Adélaïde handed him the parcel of food as he strode by on his way out. He turned before leaving and stared at her. “You’ve stopped even making an effort to be attractive. You could at least put your hair up.” He let the door slam behind him and thumped down the stairs.

He’s right, Adélaïde thought. But she didn’t have time to worry about that now. As soon as she heard the heavy outer door of the building open and close, she hurried down to the courtyard, filled a basin of water from the fountain, and brought it up to the apartment so she could bathe. When she was finished, she put on her one good ensemble—the one she wore to church on Sundays with bodice and sleeves that had been trimmed with Mechlin lace in her father’s boutique. Her plan was to leave and come back without anyone noticing before Nicolas returned for dinner.

After waiting for two women who lived below her to finish their conversation in the stairwell, Adélaïde tiptoed out of the house and took a circuitous route to the Rue Neuve Saint-Merri and the Hôtel Jabach so no one might guess where she was going. She passed as swiftly as she could along the crowded thoroughfares with their boutiques and market stalls selling everything from leather goods to live chickens, picking her way around piles of dung and flattening herself against buildings as carriages clattered by. Such strange turns her life had taken, she thought. If she had waited—as her father begged her—until someone more worthy asked for her hand, she might have been the lady she’d just seen pressing a scented handkerchief to her nose as she flew past in a handsome calèche. But at the age of eighteen, her mother dead the year before and all seven of her siblings buried, Adélaïde had been desperate to get away from home, to leave the memories behind and start a new life. Enter the dashing Nicolas Guiard, who courted her passionately and made her feel wanted. Then, she couldn’t believe her good fortune. Now, she realized she’d made a terrible mistake.

It was only ten o’clock when she arrived at the iron gates that opened into the courtyard of the Hôtel Jabach. She stood for several seconds and stared, taking in everything, fixing the image of this moment in her memory. She, Adélaïde Labille-Guiard, was about to enter the first exhibition where she would not just be a spectator but a bona-fide, participating artist. Two of her pictures hung in one of the galleries within, her entries in the annual salon of the Académie de Saint-Luc—not the Académie Royale, but nearly as prestigious. Her teachers—François-Élie Vincent and Maurice-Quentin de la Tour—had put her up for membership years ago, before she married, and she would be one of only two women exhibiting that year. It was a bold step, a leap in fact, beyond the trite watercolor miniatures she sold in Monsieur Gallimard’s shop to make a little pocket money. Those were not art.

As she passed through the gates and crossed the courtyard to the entrance, sweat ran down her back under the layers of stays and bodice and petticoats, pooled at her waist, and trickled down her legs into the tops of her wool stockings. She took the printed catalogue the concierge handed her at the door and started fanning herself with it before she even opened it.

The murmur of polite commentary echoed around her. Smartly dressed men and women sauntered in twos and threes, facing the walls and pausing occasionally to admire what caught their eye, then turning to examine the portrait busts and figures that dotted the middle of the floor on pedestals at regular intervals. From her earliest childhood, Adélaïde had been to many exhibitions like this one, in rooms that had been stripped of some of their furnishings and given over to the contemplation of art. She wanted to savor it all and take her time to feast her eyes on everything, to give herself a chance to appreciate the honor of having her own work displayed alongside that of more established artists.

It was in the second of the main galleries that Adélaïde first noticed a small group comprising a slight, dapper man, an older woman who could still be called attractive, and two young ladies of startling beauty. One of them had a face of such exquisite proportions that Adélaïde wished she’d brought a sketch pad and a pencil so she could take her likeness then and there. The other one, although not quite as pretty, exuded sensuality and was clearly aware of the power she had over men in general and the gentleman in their party in particular. She cast her eyes down, her long lashes fluttering against cheeks rosy with what might have been embarrassment if they hadn’t been carefully painted with vermilion stain. That was when Adélaïde overheard the gentleman say, “No, I insist. Your allegories are perfection, Mademoiselle.”

Adélaïde froze. Her allegories? That lady had pictures hanging in the exhibition? The only other female member of the Saint-Luc she knew of was the elderly Mademoiselle Navarre, a pastellist and miniaturist who painted still lifes, not allegories. This lady, whoever she was, must have been elected very recently. No others were on the roster of exhibitors the last time Adélaïde had seen it. She held her breath, willing herself to blend into the crowd, standing sideways to the group and pretending to examine a rather voluptuous rendition of Leda and the Swan. Her ears tingled as she strained to hear the rest of the conversation despite the ebb and flow of casual comments as visitors moved through the gallery.

Click here for Susanne’s interview.

Susanne_Dunlap_social_media_image2

Book Description

Paris, 1774. After her separation from her abusive husband, Adélaïde Labille-Guiard is at last free to pursue her dream of becoming the premier woman portraitist in Paris. Free, that is, until she discovers at her first public exhibition that another woman artist is poised to claim that role — and she has more training and better connections in the tightly controlled art world.

To have a chance of competing, Adélaïde must first improve her skills in oil painting. But her love affair with her young teacher gives rise to suspicions that he touches up her work, and her decision to make much-needed money by executing erotic pastels threatens to create as many problems as it solves.

As her rival gains lucrative portrait commissions and an appointment as portraitist to Queen Marie Antoinette, Adélaïde continues to struggle, until at last she earns a royal appointment of her own, and, in 1789, receives a massive commission from a member of the royal family.

But the timing couldn’t be worse. Adélaïde’s world is turned upside down by political chaos and revolution. With danger around every corner of her beloved Paris, she must find a way to survive and adjust to the new order, starting all over again to carve out a life and a career—and stay alive in the process.

The Portraitist is based on the true story of one woman artist’s fight to take her rightful place in a man’s world — and the decisions she makes that lead her ultimately to the kind of fulfillment she never expected.

Susanne_Dunlap_social_media_Review image



Susanne Dunlap author photo.

Author Bio:

Susanne is the author of twelve works of historical fiction for adults and teens, as well as an Author Accelerator Certified Book Coach. Her love of historical fiction arose partly from her studies in music history at Yale University (PhD, 1999), partly from her lifelong interest in women in the arts as a pianist and non-profit performing arts executive. Her novel The Paris Affair won first place in its category in the CIBA Dante Rossetti awards for Young Adult Fiction. The Musician’s Daughter was a Junior Library Guild Selection and a Bank Street Children’s Book of the Year, and was nominated for the Utah Book Award and the Missouri Gateway Reader’s Prize. In the Shadow of the Lamp was an Eliot Rosewater Indiana High School Book Award nominee. Susanne earned her BA and an MA (musicology) from Smith College, and lives in Biddeford, ME, with her little dog Betty.

Website: https://susanne-dunlap.com

Click and Pre-Order  The Portraitist on Amazon.

Visit Amazon for Susanne’s Books:

Follow Susanne on social media:

Facebook: @SusanneDunlapAuthor

Twitter: @susanne_dunlap

Instagram: @susanne_dunlap

LinkedIn: @susannedunlap

Pinterest: @susanne_dunlap

© 2014-2022- Ronovan Hester Copyright reserved. The author asserts his moral and legal rights over this work.

9 Questions with Susanne Dunlap, author of The Portraitist.

“Impeccably researched, rich with period detail, Dunlap brings to life the little-known true story of Adelaide Labille-Guiard, who fought her husband and society to make a name for herself as a painter to the royal family, the very apex of success. A stunning story of determination, talent, and reversals of fortune. As a lifelong Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun fan, I am now questioning my allegiances!”

-Lauren Willig

Bestselling Author of THE SUMMER COUNTRY

The Portraitist9 Questions with Susanne Dunlap

What inspired you to write about Adélaïde Labille-Guiard?

I’ve always been interested in women in the arts, and the eighteenth century has a special place in my heart (my dissertation was about eighteenth-century opera). Also, Adélaïde’s self-portrait with her two students that hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY is a huge favorite of mine. But originally, when I first conceived of the book, I thought of her in relation to her rival, Vigée Le Brun. Through research I began to know her in her own right, and to appreciate how different her life must have been from her rival’s, how much more stood in her way. I also love the difference in her painting style from Le Brun’s. It feels much more real, more present, less beautiful in a good way.

Why focus on Adélaïde instead of Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun?

Originally I thought I would write about Vigée Le Brun. But I love an underdog, and after discovering that they literally followed each other’s footsteps—but Le Brun doesn’t even mention her rival’s name in her three-volume memoir—I was intrigued.

Of course art plays an important role in this book. Are you an artist as well as a musician and writer?

Alas, I am no artist! I took a drawing class in college, but… no. I love art and have always gone to museums, and have done a lot of reading about art history and artists. As research for this book, I did read an 18th-century treatise on oil painting. However, as André Vincent says to Adélaïde before he starts to teach her, there’s a great deal of difference between reading a treatise and actually making art.

While the story is based on a true story, there are some characters that you’ve created. Which of the characters are real?

Most of the characters are, in fact, historical. The ones I’ve created are Adélaïde’s first student (the rest of the named students are historical), her father’s lover, and a few very minor, walk-on characters. However, I took major liberties with the characters of her father and her estranged husband to the point where I might as well have invented them, partly because there was very little available information about them. In those cases, the story comes first.

Did Adélaïde really do a portrait of Robespierre and get a huge commission from the Comte de Provence just as the revolution was starting?

Yep. All true. All the paintings mentioned in the book existed at one time or still exist. The two mentioned in this question are among those that were probably destroyed during the Revolution.

Did Adélaïde really sell erotic pastels?

Alas, no. At least, I could find no evidence of such a thing. However, erotic drawings were a lucrative trade in 18th-century Paris, and my cash-strapped heroine could easily have decided to capitalize on her talents in this way.

What were some of the struggles of women in 18th Century Paris faced, primarily those Adélaïde Labille-Guiard would have dealt with being a female artist?

The struggles had to do with lack of access for women to the infrastructure of success. Institutionalized misogyny, so to speak. Women couldn’t belong to guilds, and were only admitted to some academies in very restricted numbers. They also couldn’t attend classes at the Louvre, except with Briard, who was allowed to teach women. All the life drawing classes were closed to them of course, and even the best women artists couldn’t get the perks given to the men, namely free housing and studio space in the Louvre. That was something Adelaide fought for, and was finally awarded in 1795, after the Revolution, but before Napoleon’s time. Royal patronage was one of the few avenues in which they could compete, and both Adelaide and her rival benefited from that.

How important is Adélaïde Labille-Guiard to the art landscape of 18th Century Paris and perhaps beyond?

I think that because she was such an influential teacher as well as an artist, she probably had an impact on many young artists that we don’t even really know about, since she was pretty much ignored as a painter throughout the 19th century. But when she died, she was Madame Vincent, her identity completely bound up with her position as a married woman. I also think that by digging into these lesser-known women artists, we learn a lot more about the norm rather than the exceptions. Her work is beautiful, beyond a doubt, but so few examples survived her that it’s hard to accurately gauge her compared to other artists.

With the arts being such central influences in your literary work, what are some other works you’ve published that readers will enjoy?

This is the first time I’ve written about a female artist. I’m a music historian, so I’ve featured women musicians more often. My historical mystery series that takes place mostly in 18th-century Vienna features a young violinist whose godfather is Haydn. Those books are THE MUSICIAN’S DAUGHTER, THE MOZART CONSPIRACY, and THE PARIS AFFAIR. My first two novels also featured women musicians: ÉMILIE’S VOICE and LISZT’S KISS.

 

Susanne Dunlap author photo.Author Bio:

Susanne is the author of twelve works of historical fiction for adults and teens, as well as an Author Accelerator Certified Book Coach. Her love of historical fiction arose partly from her studies in music history at Yale University (PhD, 1999), partly from her lifelong interest in women in the arts as a pianist and non-profit performing arts executive. Her novel The Paris Affair won first place in its category in the CIBA Dante Rossetti awards for Young Adult Fiction. The Musician’s Daughter was a Junior Library Guild Selection and a Bank Street Children’s Book of the Year, and was nominated for the Utah Book Award and the Missouri Gateway Reader’s Prize. In the Shadow of the Lamp was an Eliot Rosewater Indiana High School Book Award nominee. Susanne earned her BA and an MA (musicology) from Smith College, and lives in Biddeford, ME, with her little dog Betty.

Website: https://susanne-dunlap.com

Click and Pre-Order  The Portraitist on Amazon.

Visit Amazon for Susanne’s Books:

Follow Susanne on social media:

Facebook: @SusanneDunlapAuthor

Twitter: @susanne_dunlap

Instagram: @susanne_dunlap

LinkedIn: @susannedunlap

Pinterest: @susanne_dunlap

© 2014-2022- Ronovan Hester Copyright reserved. The author asserts his moral and legal rights over this work.

15 Questions with Juiced author, Ted Mulcahey

An invention that can save the planet?
Somehow, someway the O’Malleys have found themselves in the thick of things once again. On peaceful, bucolic Whidbey Island, they become entangled in a corporate plot to stifle a paradigm-shattering discovery, one that promises to upend conventional thinking, topple markets, and create an entirely new industry.
Kevin and Jenne, along with scientists from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, find themselves pitted against a band of bumbling criminals who will stop at nothing to get what they want—including arson and murder.
It’s another rollicking adventure for the retired interior designers ably assisted by their favorite detective, the FBI, and Emma, their ever-vigilant German Shepherd Dog.

Juiced book Cover

Juiced by Ted Mulcahey

What makes your books different from other cozy mysteries out there?
The locales and perhaps the sarcastic sense of humor from the principal characters.

Do you have another profession besides writing?
Nope.

How long have you been writing?
Off and on since my high school newspaper.

How did you come up with the ideas for your books?
The idea for Juiced began when I came across an interesting article on vanadium battery technology.

For Little Dirt, it was more of a desire to highlight the many beautiful areas of the Pacific Northwest.

With your book set in the Puget Sound area, have you ever been there?
I live there.

How did you do research for your book?
For Juiced I found a number of articles discussing the projects (including their battery research) at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

For Little Dirt I spent many hours researching harmful drug culture as well as the geography of the Puget Sound waters.

For both, my many years in business were immensely helpful.

If you could put yourself as a character in your book, who would you be?
There’s a good deal of Kevin O’Malley in me, but he’s likely an improved version.

Which was the hardest character to write? The easiest?
The easiest, of course, are the O’Malleys. The mercenary corporate characters are fun to write but often difficult. Emma, our GSD is the dearest.

If your book were made into a movie, who would star in the leading roles?
Paul Rudd and Sandra Bullock.

If your book were made into a movie, what songs would be on the soundtrack?
“Ripple” by the Grateful Dead

What is your next project?
The O’Malleys find themselves enmeshed in nastiness among folks in the Walla Walla wine country.

What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?
“I really had fun reading it”, is always my favorite.

What’s the funniest thing that ever happened to you? The scariest? The strangest?
Brushed my teeth with glue instead of toothpaste as a kid. (I think that’s the answer for all three questions)

Who was your childhood celebrity crush?
Barbra Feldon, agent 99

If there is one thing you want readers to remember about you, what would it be?
I tried to lighten their day.

Mulcahey PhotoAuthor Bio:

Ted Mulcahey has lived throughout the US, the past 35 years in the Pacific Northwest. He’s an Army vet, sales and marketing VP, entrepreneur, business owner, avid reader, one of nine children, former caddie, and lover of dogs and golf. The last twenty-five years were spent in partnership with his wife Patte, as the owners of a highly respected and published hospitality interior design firm in the Seattle Area. They’re now living on Whidbey Island and enjoying its rural bliss.

Ted writes about things he’s seen and places he’s been. He tries to incorporate personality traits of people he’s known into his fictional characters, although none of them exist in reality. Many of the locations are real but the names have been changed.

Website: http://tedmulcahey.com

Visit Amazon for Ted’s Books:

LITTLE DIRT ROAD: https://amzn.to/3P0aVq

JUICED: https://amzn.to/3RBsE9Q

See Reviews for LITTLE DIRT ROAD  and JUICED! at Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/60282401-little-dirt-road?from_search=true&from_srp=true&qid=3F5ErlwX8h&rank=1

JUICED:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/60839464-juiced?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=1g0MCjNXuI&rank=1

Ted Mulcahey blog tour Image© 2014-2022- Ronovan Hester Copyright reserved. The author asserts his moral and legal rights over this work.

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