Happy release day to ‘Across The Ice’!

Happy October everyone! And a very happy book birthday to Dana Fraedrich and her latest release, Across the Ice!

Some of you may remember me reviewing Dana’s debut Out of the Shadows a couple of years ago. I also had the pleasure of interviewing Dana and later reviewed her standalone set in the Broken Gears universe, Raven’s Cry. So you could say I have been a champion of Dana’s writing from the beginning.

I was therefore delighted recently when Dana contacted me and asked me to be a member of her ARC team for her latest release, the conclusion to the Broken Gears trilogy! I’ll have a review coming your way soon but if you’re interested in reading the book for yourself, it’s available from today!

Look how good they look together:-

 

I don’t want to share the full blurb for this final book as it has spoilers for the previous instalments, but this bit is safe to show you:-

Across the Ice is the thrilling conclusion to Lenore’s storyline in the captivating Broken Gears YA steampunk fantasy series. For fans of Gail Carriger, Namoi Novik, and Garth Nix. If you like smart heroines, forgotten magic, and rich Victorian settings, then you’ll love Dana Fraedrich’s intriguing adventure.

So yes, if you enjoy steampunk books, you should definitely consider supporting this lovely author! And look out for my full series review soon!

Happy book birthday, Dana!


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Dana Fraedrich is an independent author, dog lover, and self-professed geek. Even from a young age, she enjoyed writing down the stories that she imagined in her mind. Born and raised in Virginia, she earned her BFA from Roanoke College and is now carving out her own happily ever after in Nashville, TN with her husband and two dogs. Dana is always writing; more books are on the way!

‘Eclairs for Tea and Other Stories’ spoiler-free review!

Hello everyone! You may remember I included this book in my September wrap-up but I’m only just getting round to reviewing it because I wanted to only post spooky reviews in October 😉

Eclairs for Tea and Other Stories is written by indie author, Julia Blake, whom I discovered through Instagram. Julia has quite a selection of published books to choose from but I decided to pick up this collection in order to get a taste for her writing across a variety of genres. Before I begin dissecting, take a look at the Goodreads blurb!


What the book was about…

Eclairs for Tea and Other Stories is a wonderful, eclectic, mix of short stories, flash fiction and poetry, to be dipped in and out of, and enjoyed at your own pace.

Eclairs for Tea – There was something very important Kevin had told her not to forget. If only she could remember what it was…

Taproot – As war raged in the skies above, Meg fought her own battle against growing up, and her fears for her brother… 

Do You Believe? – Susan was never one for flights of fancy, so what is she to think, when her daughter tells her a fairy has taken up residence at the bottom of the garden..? 

Vicious Circle – As far as DI Cass Sawyer is concerned, the past should remain firmly in the past, but, it seems time may have a different idea…

Lifesong – If there is life on other worlds, what would it be like? What would they make of us?

Along with many other heart-warming, surprising tales, interspersed with the author’s quirky poems about modern life, this is a book you’ll want to read again and again…


What I thought of it…

This was a wonderful introduction to Julia Blake’s work and really accessible for anyone not sure where to start.

Blake here clearly demonstrates the meaning of the phrase ‘quality over quantity’. She manages such exquisite storytelling in so few pages; I am in awe. Taproot was really lovely and surprisingly powerful for a mere 11 pages. Then came the titular story Eclairs for Tea and WOW. Only 2 pages long but what an impact. It was really dark considering the fluffy-sounding title!

There really is something for everyone here. Dinner Party highlighted Blake’s ability to write superbly realistic dialogue and her talent for humour as well as the more hard-hitting stuff. Other stories were more sweet. Strange Kind of Love even had a Gaiman-esque vibe which I really enjoyed. Blake’s fiction ranges from romantic and ethereal to dark and gruesome, but it is always captivating.

The stories in the book are also interspersed with Blake’s unique poetry, which really captured an aspect of modern life that many authors steer clear of. I related to so many of them! I really appreciated the subtle links between each short story/poem. I would say my favourite poem in the collection was This is Heaven; I found it very evocative.

And of course, I have to mention the novella Lifesong which brings this collection to a close. Blake’s writing really shines in this longer tale and has ensured that I will be giving her full-length novels a try! I loved the whole concept and the ending blew me away.

My only *tiny* gripe is that occasionally commas would be used where I personally would have put semi-colons. However, this is genuinely the most nit-picky thing I could say and I thoroughly recommend this anthology!

 

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If you are interested in trying Blake’s writing for yourself, her latest novel The Forest has just been released!

Interview with Dana Fraedrich!

I recently read Out of the Shadows by Dana Fraedrich (which incidentally turned out to be my 100th book of the year!) It is a steampunk adventure following feisty heroine Lenore and a fantastic cast of characters. You can check out my spoiler-free review here.

Dana was kind enough to agree to an interview which I’m delighted to be presenting to you now! Make sure you read right to the end for an exclusive reveal… 😉

 

Hi Dana, thanks so much for agreeing to this interview! I really enjoyed Out of the Shadows and it’s a pleasure to have you on my blog.

Thank you so much for having me, Alex.  It’s an absolute pleasure. 🙂

For readers who don’t know you from the ‘bookstagram’ community, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Sure thing! I grew up in Virginia but live in Nashville, TN now, which is a little funny because I have no musical talent whatsoever.  Not that it stops me from singing very loudly (and very badly) in the shower, car, grocery store, etc.  I’ve always written.  Pretty much as soon as I could read, I started writing down whatever little stories came into my head, and writing assignments were always my favorite in school.  I still have a lot of my old pieces too, though I think only one will ever see the light of day…after I do a lot of work on it.  I wrote it over ten years ago, so it’ll need a lot of editing.  Besides that, I enjoy video games (Skyrim and Dragon Age FTW!), cooking, and reading.

When did you decide to start writing Out of the Shadows and why?

I actually started writing Out of the Shadows as a lark. I wanted to see if I could write a steampunk story.  I never imagined it would grab me like it did.  I adore that world and the characters now!  I finished the first draft in under a year.  Given that I wasn’t writing regularly back then and only did it whenever the mood struck, that was pretty impressive for me.

How would you describe your writing process?

I think I write in layers, if that makes sense.  The first draft is always a rough skeleton of what I really want to end up with.  Then I go through and start refining details and setting scenes—I always think of action and dialogue before settings.  I plump this or pare that down.  When I get to about the third or fourth draft (it’s hard to keep track), I do all the fiddly work of searching for problem words like “very” and “that” and trying to refine it.  Only after that do I send it to my editor.

The steampunk elements in Out of the Shadows are particularly detailed and fascinating to read about. Did you have to do a lot of research?

Sort of? See, my dad is an engineer, so I grew up learning about how things fit together and work.  If I had a question about how a machine functions, I’d ask him first.  Anything that had to do with chemical reactions, though, I had to research those.  That made for a really unsettling browser history, especially when it came to gunpowder and poisons.

If you absolutely HAD to choose, which of your characters would you say is your favourite and why?

Ugh, this is like choosing between children.  Haha.  My answer would probably change day to day, but right now I have to say Lowell Thorne.  He has such a beautiful heart, and he’s so clever and fun to write.  He’s featured more in Into the Fire and the new forthcoming novella, so I’m excited for people to get to know him better.

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Who are some of your favourite authors?

Oh my gosh, there are so many amazing ones. Okay, Robin McKinley is my all time favorite.  If I ever met her, I’d probably just giggle uncontrollably.  Also, JK Rowling for her world building and Chris Wooding for action scenes.

Do you have any hobbies that you use to switch off and unwind when you’re not writing?

Playing video games always helps me. Everything I play is pretty immersive, so I can’t think about writing or problems or whatever when I’m busy talking to NPCs and fighting baddies.

Are there any aspects of your work that you find particularly difficult or challenging?

This might sound kind of unbelievable, but I never really dealt with proper insecurity before I started pursuing my career as a writer. I’ve always been pretty confident and good at adapting to general life stuff, but publishing my writing introduced me to a whole new world of self-doubt.  You go into these spirals of “Actually, I don’t know if I’m any good at this…like, at all” and “Is this entire story terrible?  Because I really can’t tell anymore.”  Because I’ve never had to develop coping mechanisms for the kind of deep, soul-wrenching insecurity that comes from putting your passion out there for the world to see, it feels like I’m flailing at the bottom of a pit when it hits me.  I still struggle with regaining objectivity when I start slipping down that path, but I’ve never been good at sitting still.  Thankfully, so far in this journey, when I’ve fallen prey to dark thoughts, the urge to move and do something—whether it’s going to someone I trust for encouragement or just pushing forward even if I’m not certain what I’m doing—has outweighed my fear.

I’m especially eager to read your second book, Into the Fire. For those readers who might not know what it’s about, can you tantalise us with anything specific (but non-spoilery!)?

I’d be happy to! In Into the Fire, readers get to explore a part of Invarnis we haven’t seen before.  Of course, all the loose ends from Out of the Shadows cause trouble for everyone.  I found myself really challenging my characters in this second book.  They’re in unfamiliar, disadvantageous, painful, and/or dangerous situations wherein they have to make difficult choices.  Not gonna lie, my heart hurt for my characters as I was writing this book.

Can you give us any hints about projects you currently have in the works?

My current WIP is a standalone story set in the Broken Gears universe. In it, readers will see the history of Invarnis and how we got to the current point in its history.  A lot of secrets will be revealed in the book, and some familiar side characters will get spotlight roles.  I plan on releasing it during the first half of 2018.

Is there anything you’d like to add that I haven’t included?

I do a lot of live events like book festivals and author signings because I love meeting people and geeking out about books. If any organizers/bookstore owners/etc. out there would like to have me attend their event, drop me a line on my website.  And speaking of book festivals…Alex, I didn’t tell you this was coming.  I haven’t announced this anywhere just yet, so what better place than here?  I am very excited to let you all know I will have at table at BookCon in New York City this June.  I’ll be at booth #1140, so feel free to come by and say hi.  I met some amazing people there last year and cannot wait to go back!

 

Well, I absolutely loved finding out more about Dana! It’s great to remember that those authors are real people 😉 If you are interested in finding out even more or following any of Dana’s social media accounts, I have included some handy links below.

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Website and Blog: http://www.wordsbydana.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/danafraedrich/

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Dana-Fraedrich/e/B008QB3QXI

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6494889.Dana_Fraedrich

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wordsbydana/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DanaFraedrich

 

And there you have it! I hope you all enjoyed reading this interview – huge thanks to Dana for giving up her time for it! If anyone goes on to read Out of the Shadows, be sure to let me know so we can chat about it!

‘Daughters of the Oak’ spoiler-free review!

You may remember, a couple of months ago, I read and reviewed Remember to Love Me and then proceeded to interview the author, Becky Wright, who is absolutely lovely. You can read my review here and my interview with Becky is here. Becky released short story The Manningtree Account a few months ago but it was only available on Kindle at first. Since I can’t currently read ebooks, I couldn’t immediately grab a copy. Therefore, I was delighted when she decided to release an extended version of the story as a paperback, titled Daughters of the Oak.

Here’s the blurb:-

 

1646 – The English Civil War. The Royalists of King Charles I, and Cromwell’s Parliamentarians, battle, both eager to lay claim to a tattered country, where life has become cheap and death trivial.

Though, for the lowly commoner, a greater, far more devious, war rages. It threatens the souls of the weak, timid and needy. Seeking refuge in the Lord’s word, God fearing folk employ the skills of one man, the Witchfinder. His success speaks of his talent, to seek out, punish and rid the countryside of Witches, the Devil’s Whores.

2016 – A paranormal team are called to investigate, as poltergeist activity brings terror to one family. Under the cover of darkness, in silent suburbia, an endless night of battle against evil ensues, until finally, a new day dawns.

Lies, secrets, and treachery, it seems, are never forgotten.
Welcome to Manningtree…

 

All it took was the word ‘witches’ for me to be instantly intrigued. I don’t know why but I have a bit of a morbid fascination with witch trials, so this book sounded right up my street! I knew I would have to include this in my spooky October reading list.

I really loved this darker offering from Becky – who would have known that, after the sweet story that was Remember to Love Me, she could write such a creepy tale?! I particularly enjoyed the scenes in 1646 as Becky really captured and conveyed the sinister atmosphere of the witch trials perfectly. Matthew Hopkins was a despicable character and I was really impressed that the author could make me feel such strong emotions towards someone who really doesn’t get a lot of page-time.

The blending of the two time periods was seamless and I loved the way everything linked together. I thought I wouldn’t enjoy the modern-day scenes as much but they were actually really good and the way the story connected was brilliant. I don’t know how much of the modern stuff, if any, was included in the original short story but I’m really pleased that Becky decided to extend it. It worked really well.

The only thing that stopped this being a 5-star read for me was that I got a little confused at points about who was who; there were a lot of female characters and sometimes I struggled to differentiate between them. (Totally could have been my tired brain though!) I also had a couple of questions at the end that were left unanswered – but I’m hopeful that this means we may get a return to Manningtree at some point?!

A perfect spooky read for October, this is an original and deliciously dark tale from a wonderful voice in historical fiction. I gave this one 4.5/5 stars and definitely recommend it for anyone looking for something a bit creepy and different!

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Has anyone else read this one? Anyone else got a morbid fascination with witches? Recommend me some good witchy books!

‘Remember To Love Me’ spoiler-free review!

Remember To Love Me is the first book in the Legacy trilogy by self-published author Becky Wright. It just goes to show that self-published books can be every bit as excellent as those picked up by huge publishing companies. One of my bookish goals for this year is to read more books by indie authors, especially after discovering so many lovely individuals on Instagram, and I’m really glad I picked this one up.

This book was completely captivating! Becky Wright’s story is reminiscent of The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield and the film Somewhere in Time, both of which I really enjoyed and would recommend. It’s hard to squeeze this story into the confines of a specific genre because it contains so many interesting elements and almost defies categorisation. The easiest way I can describe it is as a ‘time-slip romance’. I can’t say I’ve read many books fitting this description so it was an enjoyable new experience for me!

Becky’s descriptive writing is beautiful; her words paint such a vivid picture and evoke a lovely air of sentimentality. The descriptions of Christmas are particularly wonderful and I could tell that Becky herself must love the festive season. I feel like this would be a great book to read during the holiday period but, in saying that, I still enjoyed it immensely in May and don’t feel that it was an inappropriate read for the time of year!

I really liked the characters and I appreciated the viewpoints Becky chose to present. I can’t say a huge amount with spoilers so I’ll just say that the way past and present interlinked was very clever and held my attention from start to finish. The time-slips were expertly done and didn’t confuse me at all (this is something I was concerned about before I picked up the book).

My only minor issues were that some of the dialogue felt a little unrealistic (I would give an example but, again, it’s hard to be specific without spoilers!) There were also a few little grammatical errors but the writing itself was good enough that these did not detract from my enjoyment of the story!

I thought the whole concept of the Remember To Love Me was great and it was beautifully executed. The sequel, Rose de Mai, is expected to be released later this year and I look forward to seeing where it will lead!

 

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How does everyone feel about self-published books? Any recommendations for me?