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Book Review – Avalon Hall by Ruth Miranda

Congratulations to Ruth Miranda on the release of her new fantasy novel, Avalon Hall. I was lucky to have had an ARC edition. Avalon Hall is available to purchase Kindle or Paperback at Amazon.

Avalon Hall by Ruth Miranda – this is Ruth doing what she does best. A story of vampires, witches, fantasy and magic. This is a book of two halves, both as important as the other, coming together just enough at the end, but most certainly leaving you craving more.

Modern-day Scotland. We are introduced to a cast of contemporary characters, all well-crafted and intriguing with their own backstories. Set against the magnificent architecture of Avalon Hall, a modern-day school for adult preternatural, a place to nurture their new magical talents that manifest in their late teens or early twenties. This is no Hogwarts; there is more lurking the rooms and halls than just magic; and beyond the Hall, the vast grounds hold their own secrets. There is one student with her own damaged past that has the talent to step beyond the ‘now’ into the ‘then’. She has a vital role to play, unravelling the past mysteries and miseries of Avalon Hall’s hidden resident.

Just as your heartbeat starts racing, the author halts, whipping you off to the past. A place home to myth and Arthurian legend. But don’t think for one second you are about to receive a run of the mill story of King Arthur. Avalon Hall offers so much more. Instead of the general, the author gives us her own interpretations and thoughts, taking you across the lake at Avalon, delving into the history, the ancestry of who we know to be King Arthur, weaving us a tale that is so in-depth you feel kin to it. This second part of the book is so painstakingly meticulous, a richly woven tapestry of characters, each playing their role in carving the future of who will be known as King Arthur.

I’m now eagerly, and not so patiently, waiting for the second book in this series. Avalon Hall offers so much for those who adore fantasy, those stories abundant with witches and magic, but also those like me, who adore the mysteries that surround Arthurian legend.

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Book Review – Chaining Daisy by Julia Blake

Congratulations to my dear friend and fellow author Julia Blake on the release of her new novel, Chaining Daisy, that was released yesterday. It’s available now worldwide on Kindle, Paperback or free to read on Kindle Unlimited. Just remember to add a box of tissues to the order.

You buy the book now at Amazon.

Chaining Daisy, the second book in The Perennials picks up where the first book Becoming Lili ends, pulling you straight into the story. In the first, we are introduced to the main cast of characters, a gang of friends whose lives are based in the late 90s. With Chaining Daisy, the years have moved on a little to the early 2000s, concentrating this time on Daisy who’s struggling with her not-so-perfect marriage, despite appearances, and Kevin, one of Lili’s oldest friends.

Julia Blake as always delivers a riveting story with eloquence and style. Her cast—and I’d always call her characters a cast as they’re so visual, so full and multidimensional, they live and breathe from the page—all have their supporting roles in this, all bringing something to the story. With scene-setting locations going from rural Suffolk to London to Cornwall, she manages to bring so much colour and atmosphere too.

I hate giving the plot away, I think the book blurb gives you enough. But what I will say is this is one hell of a ride. Although the book itself is a huge (well worth its money) read of over 400 pages, the author’s writing talent takes you by the hand, enticing you in; before you know it, you’re halfway through and you’ve not been up for air. It certainly takes your breath away, dealing with difficult topics and situations, and although the author has dealt with these so realistically, so true to life, she has been careful to handle them with a sense of integrity—graphic descriptions where needed and others left to the imagination.

This is one book that stays with you. I read it in a few sittings, needing to close the pages and recover once in a while, reaching for the box of tissues, yet the characters stayed with me, calling me until I picked it up again.

Though I urge every reader to have tissues to hand, this is in no way a mushy love story, though love and life in all its wonder and horror feature strongly, Chaining Daisy is hard-hitting, gripping, incredibly heart wrenching read with soft, tender, beautiful moments. A well-earned 5 stars!

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Book Review – Ailey of Skye by Wendy Hewlett

I was totally drawn to Ailey of Skye, with my love of Scotland and the Isle of Skye and the intriguing premise of the book. I was lucky enough to have an ARC edition to read prior to its official release on September 17th. You can pre-order this now on Amazon.

It is my first taste of Wendy Hewlett, and so not fully knowing what to expect, I went in open-minded, despite being a little out of my depth regarding genre. As they say variety is the spice of life… and I’m so glad I did, what a treat this is.

Ailey of Skye is a gripping, nail-biting, hard-hitting crime thriller dealing with the horrific subjects of child trafficking, addiction and abuse, but with it comes a gentler edge of family, love and self-acceptance, set against a stunning backdrop of the Isle of Skye. Certainly, a hard to put down book.

From the off, you are quickly drawn into the story, introducing us to Aileen MacEwan with just enough glimpse into her past to ignite interest, keeping the reader turning those pages. Ailey, along with a host of diverse characters are true to life, well rounded, and full of life experiences, bringing so much depth and honesty to them, both good and bad. The book deals with deep and horrific storylines that the author deals with carefully but candidly, something the author clearly knows well, making every aspect authentic. I felt I was in good hands right the way through. I true feat of craftsmanship when it comes to hard-hitting contemporary thrillers and crime novels.

This has undoubtedly given me a taste for more, with a desire to read more of from this talented author, Wendy Hewlett. A well deserving 5 stars.

For more details on Wendy Hewlett and her books why not visit her website.

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Interview with an Author ~ Becky Wright on her latest Gothic novel, vampires & Mr Stoker

On the launch of my new Gothic novel, ‘Mr Stoker & I’ …I had the pleasure of being interviewed by fellow writer Julia Blake over on her blog A Little Bit of Blake

FLASH KINDLE SALE – ONLY 99 – THIS WEEKEND ONLY FROM AMAZON

There is no denying the fascination we seem to have with Vampires. They have dominated fiction for decades. Most of us if asked to name one, would say Dracula, and of course he is undoubtedly one of the most infamous figures in literature. However, he was not the first blood sucker. During a stay at Lord Byron’s Lake Geneva villa in 1816, it was John Polidori who put pen to paper to create The Vampyre. It was on this same infamous occasion that Mary Shelley penned Frankenstein. It is said that Polidori sculptured his vampire, the suave noblemen Lord Ruthven, on Byron himself; ironically so, as the short work of fiction was first credited to Lord Byron himself by his publishers. Eighty or so years later, there is no doubt that Bram Stoker took inspiration from Polidori’s Vampyre to create what we now see as one of the most iconic characters in horror. What it is about these life sucking, blood thirty villains that we find so fascinating? ~ Becky Wright Author

So, first of all, let me say a big hello to Becky Wright, and congratulations on the publication of your latest book “Mr Stoker & I” which was released just yesterday:

Thank you so much Julia, this book feels like it’s been a long time coming.

Now, I was fortunate enough to read an advance copy of the novel, and I absolutely loved it. To me it felt very timeless and had elements of classical novelists such as Emily Bronte and Mary Shelley. Was that intentional?

Honestly, I don’t think it was intentional at all. And it wasn’t until all my beta readers mentioned the same thing that I sat back and thought about it. For it to be described as Gothic literature rather than Gothic fiction, was the best compliment I can get as a writer. I have a true love for the classics, for the lyrical prose, the phrasing; it has a certain kind of timing to it, melodious, like a musical score. I have to admit that I don’t read much contemporary fiction at all, as my heart has always belonged firmly planted in the past. Obviously, it’s rubbed off on me.

In the story, you’ve gone right back to the pre-vampire era, and I think “Mr Stoker & I” could be considered an origin tale. Would you agree?

Right up until the point of marketing; I had never really of Mr Stoker & I as a vampire story. There are no fangs, or bats, no cloaked figures. And that is because you are right, it’s more a tale of vampire incarnation, of how it came to be, of how one family’s desperation finds faith in misguided belief, with catastrophic conciseness. It’s a story of “what if?”

Have you always been fascinated by vampires? Or is this a recent interest inspired by the book?

I’m not a huge vampire fiction reader, for me it’s all about the characters and the emotions they make me feel along their journey. I love horror, whether it’s vampires, ghosts or poor lost souls. Yet saying that, Dracula is without a doubt one of my favourite classics. It sits alongside Wuthering Heights, and for me it’s for about the dark side of human nature. Maybe there is something in Bram’s writing, in his words, that struck a chord in me – fine tuning and orchestrating Mr Stoker & I.

One of the book’s main characters is Mr Bram Stoker himself, the creator of the best-known of all vampires, Dracula. How much research did you do on him, and did you discover any surprising facts about the father of the vampire genre?

I certainly have a passion for Bram Stoker himself, over the past year or so whilst writing I’ve referred to him fondly as my dear Bram. During the whole writing process, I found myself reading biographies, articles, anything I could find about the man behind Dracula. I think the most notable fact was although he was a famed writer in his lifetime – alongside his ‘day jobs’ of  theatre manager of the Lyceum Theatre in London, and being manager to Sir Henry Irving – it was not until after his death that Dracula was pulled into the limelight as we know him. As is so often the case with great artists. 

Why do you think Dracula was such an instant hit with the Victorian reader?

Published in May 1897, it wasn’t the immediate success and hit you would imagine with the readers of the time. It wasn’t until after his death that the 20th century readers became more obsessed with Count Dracula. The 1922 movie Nosferatu certainly had something to do with that.

Even though he’s a blood thirsty killer, the appeal of Dracula has never faded from popularity and has spawned a whole vampire culture, what do you think can account for this lasting fascination?

Maybe there is something quite sensual about it. The appeal of immortality, of being devoured. And there is also something quite lustful about vampires. I think that’s how it has developed, that a lot of modern vampire fiction tends to lean towards making death romantic. Although Dracula was not so debonair, or suave, more the desperate blood sucking fiend.

Dracula spawned an entire literary genre, and I wondered what you thought of the recent incarnation of vampires in series such as “Twilight” and “The Vampire Diaries”?

They are not really my thing. Not to say they don’t have their place; they certainly have their fans and success. They have fulfilled or perhaps fed, an insatiable hunger of the young blood-thirsty readers, who are maybe looking for more romance than actual horror.

A remorseless serial killer or a misunderstood anti-hero? Where do you personally place vampires?

I’m afraid my vampires will always be more blood thirsty killers. Whether they are pretty to look at or grotesque monsters, they thrive on the kill, perhaps with a lingering sense of remorse for the human they once were, but it’s all about their own survival.

Even before Bram Stoker penned the immortal “Dracula” the vampire myth has persisted in folklore, especially in the Transylvania area of Europe, with tales of Vlad the Impaler immediately springing to mind. Do you think there’s any substance to these wild tales? And do you have any theories as to the origins of the vampire legend?

If you look into the history of vampires almost every culture has it’s own origin. Mostly existing in folklore, beings feeding on the vital energy force of the living, which is where blood comes in. And as with most folklore, myths and legends, maybe there is that small seed of fact to begin with.

Now the setting of “Mr Stoker & I” is the quaint British seaside town of Whitby – where Dracula is supposed to have first come ashore. Have you ever visited the town? If you have, can you share your impressions of it.

I adore Whitby. I first visited the town about a decade ago, and without a doubt because of its connection with Bram Stoker feel an affinity with the place. We recently revisited and I didn’t want to come home. Even if you put aside any connection to Bram or Dracula, Whitby Abbey dominates the headland with an open invitation, and the town has a vibe to it, it says – welcome, come sit a while, watch the sea, listen.

“Mr Stoker & I” is such a rich and evocative read and harkens back to a more detailed and sumptuous style of writing. Was this deliberate? Or did this style evolve as you were writing the book?

I had no set-out plan of how the book was going to feel, the style, or even the exactness of its genre. All I knew was Lucy had to tell you her story, and how she was going to do that, well, I left that up to her.

I know this is the question that appears in every author interview, but where did the inspiration for the book arise? Was it a germ of an idea that gradually developed? Or did the whole plot come to you complete?

I had planned – I may still plan – to write a collection of macabre short stories, a collection of Penny Dreadfuls – and an image of a piece of carved Whitby jet came to mind, an elaborate mourning piece of jewellery the Victorians were so good at. Whitby has an incredible collection in their museum. This tiny germ of an idea quickly altered into something quite different, as when I really thought about Whitby I didn’t think of jet, but Dracula, and in turn Bram Stoker and his visit in the Summer of 1890. Then the idea of, what if?

If you were suddenly face to face with a vampire how would you react? Would you be afraid and try to escape? Or do you think you’d succumb to his fatal charm?

Do you know, I have no idea? Maybe the Gothic romantic in me would like to think it was a move of seductive charm and gladly succumb to my fate. But in all likelihood, it would be a moment of savage primitive need, and if I didn’t escape my last moments would be having my throat ripped out. Not very romantic after all… I think I’d run for it.

And a question that I know every reader of “Mr Stoker & I” will want answered. Is that it? Or will there be any more tales from the world of the father of vampires?

For me, Mr Stoker & I has a definite ending, as in, there will not be a sequel to the story and Bram will not appear again. Now, having said that, I do plan another book set in Whitby. There will most certainly be some ties to Miss Lucy and her ancestry and Blackthorn Manor itself. Although I can’t promise vampires, I can promise it will be a dark Gothic tale befitting of its era and surroundings.

One of the wonderful things about the book is its striking and mesmerising cover. Now I know you created this yourself, but can you talk us through the process a little. And was this the image you always imagined for the cover, or one that developed after the book was written?

I cannot take credit for the cover. It was most certainly in its entirety the work of my incredible husband. He plays a huge role in my writing process and knew the story very well before he started. I had a completely different vision for the cover, but having total faith in his abilities, I just let him run with it. And just as well I did, my idea was nothing compared the deliciously dark Gothic feel it has.

“Mr Stoker & I” is so detailed and so sumptuously written, that I wondered how long it took you in total to write it?

I am a terribly slow writer. Not that I think it should be seen as a fault, more a way I work. I put a lot of time and effort in my first draft. So much so, that I’m not sure it ever really is a rough first draft. I tend to polish and refine as I go in order to fully uphold the mood of the book as I write. I feel if it was too much of a rough draft, I would lose interest very quickly. Last year, we moved house whilst in the midst of my writing, which brought with it a whole host of time consuming and brain aching issues with it. Taking all that into account, I spent around 18 months on it.

When I was reading the novel, I couldn’t help but picture it as a wonderfully atmospheric film. Would you enjoy seeing it adapted for the big screen? And if it was and you could choose, who would you like to see play the main characters?

I would love to see it on the big screen, or maybe even better on the small screen as a 3-part period drama. As to who would play the main leads, that is a hard one. When I write, I do have a mental picture of the characters, they creep very quickly under my skin, but never in so much physical form, as in their emotions and thoughts, the essence of who they are, not what they look like. I shall have to give this one lots of thought.

And finally, what can Becky Wright fans expect from you next? Is there a plot already bubbling in your imagination, and if so, can you give us a few teasers?

What’s next? More dark, more Gothic, more horror. I’m working on a novella, something short for later in the year. Id love to say Halloween, but I’ve learnt not to give dates as life changes quickly. What I will say is my main character this time is quite a feisty little number, and not sure I’d want to cross her.

Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy weekend publishing the book to talk to us, Becky. I know I speak for all your readers and fans when I say how thrilled we are that another wonderful book of Becky Wright inspired horror is available to grace our bookshelves.

A Little Bit of Blake

There is no denying the fascination we seem to have with Vampires. They have dominated fiction for decades. Most of us if asked to name one, would say Dracula, and of course he is undoubtedly one of the most infamous figures in literature. However, he was not the first blood sucker. During a stay at Lord Byron’s Lake Geneva villa in 1816, it was John Polidori who put pen to paper to create The Vampyre. It was on this same infamous occasion that Mary Shelley penned Frankenstein. It is said that Polidori sculptured his vampire, the suave noblemen Lord Ruthven, on Byron himself; ironically so, as the short work of fiction was first credited to Lord Byron himself by his publishers. Eighty or so years later, there is no doubt that Bram Stoker took inspiration from Polidori’s Vampyre to create what we now see as one of the most iconic…

View original post 2,115 more words

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Character Interview – Vladimir

It’s always fun to do something a little different. An author interview is always nice to do, but when your book characters grab a little limelight, that is where the fun begins… So when USA Today Bestselling Romance Author, Jenny Foster met Vladimir from Mr Stoker & I, here’s what happened.

YOU CAN PURCHASE MR STOKER & I FROM AMAZON.

Q:  May I offer you something to drink?

No. Thank you.

Q: I hope you had some time to recover from your last adventure in “Mr Stoker & I”. Tell me, what is your favorite relaxing pastime?

I do not have much spare time, I find my mind too occupied with my work. Since I came to your country as a young man, my eagerness to work, or achieve my goals, to accomplish, has been far too great to worry my mind with small details as relaxation. My work has become far too important, too time-consuming to allow anything else to interfere.

Q: Where did you grow up? Do you have fond memories of your childhood?

My home is a small village just outside of Brașov, at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains, where the river snakes, and stories are told. My childhood was filled with tales of those whispering Mountains. There is a fondness attached to those thoughts, to my Grandmother. She was very wise, her knowledge was great, and I learnt well from her. There is more a need attached to those memories, a need for answers. It was that need that brought me to your shores.

Q: Whom or what do you really hate?

Hate? That is a strong word, a strong emotion. Surely to hate you must love; I have found they are much the same. There is no room for either in my life, not anymore. Love brings about weakness, rash behaviour. I have seen what becomes of those who love too much, hate too much, it brings devastation to their door, what they crave so greatly to protect, crumbles.

Q: What is your biggest fear?

Again, I have witness fear, it can easily be mistaken for hatred, or become one with it. That is truly a mixture most lethal. Great fear takes man’s logic only to replace it with nothing but foolish expectations, of possibilities of what they can never obtain. Fear brings rashness, doubt. It leads to mistakes. I have no room for it.

Q: What makes you smile?

There was one that brought warmth, a  spark of that kindred spirit; one that made me smile. Someone with an honest heart. A solitary soul with a longing to do what was right. There was no fear in her actions or hatred in her heart, only a need to protect those she loved. I wanted to… what did I want, I wonder? Did I want her, or the mere hope that shone from her? I will never know, I no longer like to reflect.

Q: I´d love to hear about your future plans. Is there anything you can reveal?

Do I have a future? What future could I possibly hope for? I wander back to my home of the whispering Carpathian Mountains and the winding river that surrounds the town. Of those memories of my childhood and the stories of the ancestors told by my grandmother. I may stay there, and wait.

Intrigued? Left wanting more? Why not buy the book and read more of Miss Lucinda Meredith and Vladimir…