Posted in Adventure Fiction, Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Friendship, Historical Fiction, Mystery, New Books, Romance

The Storm Girl Kathleen McGurl 5*#Review @KathMcGurl @HQStories @rararesources #Timeslip #HistFic #ContemporaryFiction #Adventure #Mystery #Family #Secrets #Betrayal #Loss #friendship #romance #BlogTour #BookReview #TheStormGirl #Mudeford

A heartbreaking choice. A secret kept for centuries.

1784. When Esther Harris’s father hurts his back, she takes over his role of helping smugglers hide contraband in the secret cellar in their pub. But when the free traders’ ships are trapped in the harbour, a battle between the smugglers and the revenue officers leads to murder and betrayal – and Esther is forced to choose between the love of her life and protecting her family…

Present day. Fresh from her divorce, Millie Galton moves into a former inn overlooking the harbour in Mudeford and plans to create her dream home. When a chance discovery behind an old fireplace reveals the house’s secret history as a haven for smugglers and the devastating story of its former residents, could the mystery of disappearance from centuries ago finally be solved?

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I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher.

My Thoughts…

In a dual timeline story set in Mudeford near Christchurch in Dorset, divorced, Millie moves into an old historic former Inn needing renovation; as the work progresses, the house begins to give up its secrets. In 1784 Ester lives and works in the Inn at Mudeford. She and many townsfolk are involved in smuggling. The sense of betrayal and danger immerses the reader in the historical part of this story. Historical details vibrantly bring 1784 Mudeford to life. The Inn is the link between the past and present, and the two interwoven timelines create an engaging story full of adventure, mystery and romance.

I love the clever plotting that links the two time periods, the believable characters and the mystery to be solved.

Kathleen McGurl

Kathleen McGurl lives near the coast in Christchurch, England. She writes dual timeline novels in which a historical mystery is uncovered and resolved in the present day. She is married to an Irishman and has two adult sons. She enjoys travelling, especially in her motorhome around Europe but her home is Mudeford, where this novel is set.

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Posted in Adventure Fiction, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Crime, Family Drama, Psychological Suspense

The Castaways Lucy Clarke 5*#Review @lucyclarkebooks @HarperFiction @fictionpubteam #TheCastaways #psychological #suspense #sisters #Fiji #BookReview #weekendreads

It should be like any other holiday.

Beautiful beaches.

Golden sunsets.

Nothing for miles.

You’ll never want to leave.

Until you can’t…

Gripping, twisty and full of sun-soaked atmosphere, THE CASTAWAYS will whisk you far away to the island – and never let you go.

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Sisters Erin and Lori have a close bond. When Lori’s long term relationship breaks down, Erin is there for her, so it’s natural Lori wants them to be together on her trip to a remote Fijian island. It’s written from the sisters’ viewpoints, Erin in the present, and Lori, in the past. Immersed in their story from the beginning, it’s an intensely poignant read.

Vivid sensory imagery makes it easy to imagine the action and settings. An addictive balance of action and introspection has believable twists. The realistic ending retains a pleasing element of unpredictability.

Read my review of Let Me In

Posted in Adventure Fiction, Blog Blitz, Book Review, Childrens Books, Fantasy, New Books, Travel

Finn and Fred’s Arctic Adventure 5*#Review #JocelynPorter #LeoBrown #illustrator @FullMediaLtd #FinnandFredsArcticAdventure #PictureBook #SavethePlanet #ChildrensBooks #Kidlit #BlogBlitz @rararesources #BookReview #CornishSealSanctuary

“My bus takes off with a sonic boom, straight through the wall and out of my room…”

Finn and Fred Octopus are off on a magical adventure to the Arctic. They meet a kindly seal, a hungry polar bear and an angry walrus. The whales sing to Finn, and Finn arrives home with an important message to share…

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I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Finn and Fred go on a fun adventure to the arctic. They meet various arctic creatures and see how global warming damages their habitats. The easy to read text, and bright illustrations, make it easy for children to understand environmental issues.

This story will appeal to young readers and is perfect for families to read together and discuss.

Jocelyn’s writing career began when she was asked to write a story for a preschool magazine. That story was the first of many. Jocelyn became the writer/editor of several preschool magazines and continued in that role for 15 years. Writing one new story every month, plus rhymes and activities was a tough gig, but very exhilarating. Time is the big difference between writing for a magazine and writing a book. You see your work on the supermarket shelves within a few weeks of completion. A book takes longer – a lot longer. Jocelyn has to be patient now – not something she’s good at. Before becoming a writer, Jocelyn worked in higher education as International Students Officer. It was a rewarding and interesting job even though she was on call 24/7. Jocelyn also trained as a counsellor and volunteered at drop-in centres. She never knew who would arrive for counselling and had to be prepared for anything. This work gave her insight into some of the darker corners of life. Motorsport was one of Jocelyn’s early loves, she had the spine-tingling thrill of taking part in a 24-hour national rally as navigator – those were the days when rallies were held on public roads! Jocelyn worked as an au pair in Paris in her teens. Having visited the city on a school trip, she fell in love with it, and always wanted to return. Jocelyn’s first book published by Full Media is The King Who Didn’t Like Snow, illustrated by Michael S Kane. Finn and Fred’s Arctic Adventure is her second book under Full Media and is illustrated by Leo Brown.

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Posted in Adventure Fiction, Blog Tour, Book Review, Historical Fiction, New Books, Travel

Grace on the Horizon Emma Lombard @LombardEmma #Graceonthehorizon @lovebooksgroup @lovebookstours #TheWhiteSailsSeries #BookTour #Mystery #Romance #Adventure #BookReview #MondayBlogs

GRACE ON THE HORIZON is the second full-length novel in The White Sails Series. Grace and Seamus, united by their past experiences, are adrift on a raft of shame in the sea of 1830s London society. After a personal tragedy, Grace’s desperation to leave London forces Seamus to accept a dubious commission on the private explorer, Clover.

With the expedition financed by Colonel Hamilton and his private backers, Seamus is tasked with mapping a round-the-world voyage. But Colonel Hamilton has an additional package that requires delivery—Father Babcock—a priest wanted for murder. The church wants Babcock transported far from England to set up a new mission in South America.

Battling his overprotectiveness, Seamus breaks his oath to always tell Grace the truth and hides Babcock’s identity from her. But the journey aboard the Clover is far from smooth sailing, and Grace suspects a saboteur. Trapped within the ship’s confines, she must learn to forgive her husband’s well-intentioned duplicity and determine who wishes them harm—because now she also has her unborn child to protect.

Is it an aggrieved member of the Admiralty who believes Seamus disgraced the service by resigning his command to chase after Grace? Perhaps Grace’s father, Lord Flint, seeking revenge against her for ruining the family name? Or a jealous suitor determined to ruin the life Grace is trying to build with Seamus?

From the damp cobbled streets of London, around the freezing stormy tip of Cape Horn, and into the scorching dusty bush of New Holland, GRACE ON THE HORIZON promises another adventure on the high seas, bursting with action and suspense. It is historical women’s fiction that will appeal to fans of the strong female protagonist in Outlander and  Poldark.

I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

The second in the White Sails series sees Grace on a dangerous adventure where she has more to protect than herself. The story is full of richly described historical details that make excellent use of sensory imagery. The time and place are brought to vibrant life, making this an exciting read.

I haven’t read the first book in the series, and I feel it would have been even more enjoyable if I had. This is a romantic story full of menace and mystery with cleverly crafted characters and settings.


Emma Lombard was born in Pontefract in the UK. She grew up in Africa—calling Zimbabwe and South Africa home for a few years—before finally settling in Brisbane Australia, and raising four boys. Before she started writing historical fiction, she was a freelance editor in the corporate world, which was definitely not half as exciting as writing rollicking romantic adventures. Her characters are fearless seafarers, even though in real life Emma gets disastrously seasick.

DISCERNING GRACE, is the first book in The White Sails Series.

 

Posted in Adventure Fiction, Blog Tour, Book Review, Childrens Books, Fantasy, New Books, Parenting and Famlies

The Boy Who Breathed Underwater Izzy Rees 5*#Review @FullMediaLtd #IzzyRees Illustrator Sarah-LeighWills #ChildrensBooks #kidlit #PictureBook #fantasy #wishes @rararesources #TheBoyWhoBreathedUnderWater

When lying in his bed, a boy is visited by a genie. He is given a week to try out different superhero powers. What adventures will he have, and which power will he choose to keep?

Full Media Ltd Izzy Rees Amazon UK Amazon

I received a copy of this book from the author and Full Media Ltd in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

When a young boy has a visit from a genie, he is granted superpowers for seven days. Which will he choose? The book’s easy to understand rhyming verse is beautifully illustrated, with bright, humorous images. The boy learns something on every adventure and realises that things aren’t always as good as they first appear to be. This is a story about being happy with who you are and knowing that just because something looks better, it might not be.

The story is perfect for reading to young children or for early readers.

Izzy Rees


Izzy Rees was born in West London, but has spent the last thirty years living in Derby. Ten years ago, when her three girls were young, she began work on a series of rhyming picture books, created in snatched moments, and initially written on small scraps of paper or whatever was available. She always intended to revisit them, and Covid and lockdown presented the opportunity; unable to continue her work as a neuro physiotherapist, working with vulnerable patients, she decided it was now or never! She has written six books so far in the ‘The Boy Who’ series, The Boy Who Breathed Underwater being the first one. The others will be published in the near future.

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Posted in Adventure Fiction, Blog Tour, Book Review, Childrens Books, Fantasy, New Books, Parenting and Famlies

The King Who Didn’t Like Snow 5*#Review @FullMediaLtd #JocelynPorter Illustrator Michael S Kane #ChildrensBooks #kidlit #PictureBook #fantasy #positivity #magic #Wizard #Bookworm @rararesources #TheKingWhoDidntLikeSnow

King Mark is a higgledy-piggledy king and he gets into a pickle every day. “Do something, Bert!” he shouts, and Wizard Bert, and his sidekick, Broderick the bookworm, always save the day. When snow fell on Windy Hill Castle, everyone was delighted – except for King Mark! King Mark didn’t like snow and he started to sulk. Will Bert and Broderick save the day again? Will King Mark walk into trouble? Do the children of Windy Hill Village have the answer…?

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I received a copy of this book from the author and Full Media Ltd in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This is a fun story involving a wizard, bookworm and a King who always liked to get his way. Bert the wizard and Broderick the bookworm found pleasure in simple things like conversation and playing games. The King liked everything easy, and if it wasn’t, he asked his wizard to change things. This is a story about looking at things positively and making the most of what you have. The story is easy to read and has humour and positivity.

This is a good book to read to young children and one that early readers should enjoy too.

Jocelyn’s writing career began when she was asked to write a story for a preschool magazine. That story was the first of many. Jocelyn became the writer/editor of several preschool magazines and continued in that role for 15 years. Writing one new story every month, plus rhymes and activities was a tough gig, but very exhilarating.

Time is the big difference between writing for a magazine and writing a book.  You see your work on the supermarket shelves within a few weeks of completion. A book takes longer – a lot longer. Jocelyn has to be patient now – not something she’s good at.

Before becoming a writer, Jocelyn worked in higher education as International Students Officer. It was a rewarding and interesting job even though she was on call 24/7.

Jocelyn also trained as a counsellor and volunteered at drop-in centres. She never knew who would arrive for counselling and had to be prepared for anything. This work gave her insight into some of the darker corners of life.

Motorsport was one of Jocelyn’s early loves, she had the spine-tingling thrill of taking part in a 24-hour national rally as navigator – those were the days when rallies were held on public roads!

Jocelyn worked as an au pair in Paris in her teens. Having visited the city on a school trip, she fell in love with it, and always wanted to return.


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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Christmas Read, Fantasy, Festive Read, Folk Tales, Historical Fiction, Magic, New Books

Midnight in Everwood M. A. Kuzniar 4*#Review @thecosyreader @HQStories #HQNewVoices #Fantasy #magic #festive #AdultFairytale #historicalfiction #Nottingham #PublicationDay #MidnightinEverwood

In the darkness of night, magic awaits…

Nottingham, 1906

Marietta Stelle longs to be a ballerina but, as Christmas draws nearer, her dancing days are numbered – she must marry and take up her place in society in the New Year. But, when a mysterious toymaker, Dr Drosselmeier, purchases a neighbouring townhouse, it heralds the arrival of magic and wonder in Marietta’s life.

After Drosselmeier constructs an elaborate theatrical set for her final ballet performance on Christmas Eve, Marietta discovers it carries a magic all of its own – magic darker than anyone could imagine. As the clock chimes midnight, Marietta finds herself transported from her family’s ballroom to a frozen sugar palace, silent with secrets, in a forest of snow-topped fir trees. She must find a way to return home before she’s trapped in Everwood’s enchanting grip forever.

In the darkness of night, magic awaits and you will never forget what you find here…

I received a copy of this book from HQ in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Multilayered and magical, this is a festive adult fairytale full of adventure, darkness and self-discovery. It explores Edwardian social history and how women began to challenge society’s expectations of them. Marietta is a young woman, expected to marry and leave her dance career behind. She rails against the injustice but initially fails to understand the direction of life is in her hands.

The world of Everwood is intricately created, full of vivid imagery and insidious darkness that threatens Marietta and that she must overcome. There are classic elements in the story for those familiar with the original inspiration to enjoy.

An engaging read if you enjoy dance, history and magic.

Posted in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Crime, Extract, Fantasy, Mystery, New Books, Noir, Political Thriller, Science Fiction

Million Eyes 11 C.R.Berry Q&A with @CRBerry1 @elsewhenpress #BlogTour #SFF #SpeculativeFiction #Conspiracy #thriller #Author #Interview #MillionEyes11

TIME IS THE ULTIMATE SAVIOUR

Following an impossible discovery in East London, archaeologist Dr Samantha Lester joins forces with software developer Adam Bryant to investigate the events that led to the disappearance of his best friend, Jennifer, and to bring down the people responsible – Million Eyes.

Before long, Lester and Adam are drawn into a tangled conspiratorial web involving dinosaurs, the Gunpowder Plot, Jesus, the Bermuda Triangle, and a mysterious history-hopping individual called the Unraveller, who is determined to wipe Million Eyes off the temporal map.

But as the secrets of Million Eyes’ past are revealed, picking a side in this fight might not be so easy.

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Q&A with C.R. Berry

How would you describe your books? What genre(s) do they encompass?

I would describe the Million Eyes trilogy as conspiracy thrillers, first and foremost. However, they’re also science fiction books and historical fiction books too. The premise of the series is this: what if certain events in our history weren’t supposed to happen? What if things like Princess Diana’s death, the disappearance of the Princes in the Tower and even the extinction of the dinosaurs only happened because of time travellers? The books incorporate themes such as destiny, power, faith, reason and the greater good. 

Time travel, alternative history and conspiracy theories all feature in your stories. What interests you about these themes?

Time travel has always fascinated me. I love the idea of being able to go back and see how things were or go forwards and see how things turn out. You can tell bigger stories with time travel.

My love of history and conspiracy theories sort of go hand in hand. History is full of mysteries, and conspiracy theories are used to try and solve them. I think my interest in conspiracy theories could be traced back to Year 8 History when we learned about the shooting of William II in the New Forest and all the people who may have been involved in a plot to have him offed. I loved learning about that, which is how it made its way into the first Million Eyes.

How do you create your stories? Do you begin with the characters, theme, or setting? Why is this?

I begin with the plot—always. I start with a story I want to tell, and then I choose the best characters I can think of to help me tell it. In the case of Million Eyes, it was a story about a corporation using consumer technology to hide the fact that it was secretly tweaking the timeline. And it was about offering fun, alternative explanations for who Jesus was, what lies in the Bermuda Triangle, why Princess Diana was killed, and so on. I then created characters who are just everyday folk that get dragged into a perilous quest for the truth.

I guess I do it this way round because when it comes to selecting a TV series, movie, or book, it’s the plot I’m most interested in. I can’t stand character-driven stories where there’s zero plot progression.

Which part of the writing process is the most difficult for you? Why?

The historical research! I don’t even want to imagine the number of hours I’ve spent reading about how 1st-century Nazareth might’ve looked, or scrutinising architectural plans of the Tower of London in three different time frames, or the fashions of the Middle Ages and the Iron Age and Victorian times. Historical research has, of course, been necessary to help make the trilogy as authentic as possible, but it has also made the writing process a lot longer and more arduous. 

What is the best and worst part of being a writer?

The best part is when I complete a chapter that I think is great—most likely a dialogue scene where my main protagonist or antagonist is unleashing some serious sass. The worst part is when I have a serious block. There’s been a few of those while crafting Million Eyes, which is why there’s not going to be a shred of time travel in my next book!

What’s next, another book in this series or something different?

I’m two-thirds of the way through the final book in the Million Eyes trilogy, Million Eyes III: Ouroboros. This one is going to spend more time in the future than the past, and it’s also going to reveal the origins of the titular “Unraveller” in the second book. They’ll be a showdown between my protagonists and Million Eyes, and all the loose ends will get tied up with a timey wimey bow.

After that, I’m going to be working on a conspiracy horror called The Puddle Bumps. I want to write something with lots of blood and gunk (well, alright, Million Eyes has some of that, but The Puddle Bumps will have more).

C.R. Berry

C.R. Berry started out in police stations and courtrooms—ahem, as a lawyer, not a defendant—before taking up writing full-time. He’s currently head of content for a software developer and writes fiction about conspiracies and time travel.

Berry was published in Best of British Science Fiction 2020 from Newcon Press with a Million Eyes short story. He’s also been published in magazines and anthologies such as Storgy and Dark Tales, and in 2018 was shortlisted in the Grindstone Literary International Novel Competition. 

In 2021, he bought his first house with his girlfriend, Katherine, in Clanfield, Hampshire, discovering whole new levels of stress renovating it (not helped by a rogue builder running off with most of their budget). The couple are now in the fun stage, going full-on nerd and theming all the rooms—their bedroom is a spaceship, their kitchen a 50s diner.  

Now that the dust is settling, Berry is refocusing on the final book in the Million Eyes trilogy and getting back to writing his first collaborative novel with Katherine: a space-set adventure with aliens, terrorists, a mysterious wall that surrounds the universe and—of course—conspiracies.  

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Million Eyes: Extra Time is available for FREE download

Extract from Million Eyes 11 C.R. Berry

[Excerpt taken from Chapter 1 – the two main characters in this chapter are Edward and Richard, the Princes in the Tower]

66 Million Years Ago

“So how do we get back to 1483?”

Edward thought about this for a moment. He remembered the first time they travelled in time. He remembered being in the realm of ghosts, after swallowing the pills, feeling like he was floating. Their bedchamber was suddenly filled with strangely dressed people—transparent people—walking through, literally through, one another. He could see through the walls, through the furniture, through the floor to the room below. He could see beyond the Tower to the river. Everything and everyone were eerily ethereal and blurred together in front of his eyes. And Edward remembered that when he concentrated on one thing amid the haze, it sharpened into focus, all the other ghosts falling away. There was a painting. A painting that looked like it was of him and his brother. It was transparent at first, like everything else. But as Edward stared at it, it became clear, and everything else started to fade. A moment later, they were back in their bedchamber and all the ghosts had gone, but it was four hundred years later.

Things happened in much the same way when they ate the second pill only minutes ago, standing on the streets of London in 1888. Edward remembered returning to the realm of ghosts, the streets filled with shiny horse-less carriages, people in eccentric clothes and giant structures all around. All transparent of course. Ghosts, like before.

Only Edward couldn’t remember fixing on anything that time. He couldn’t remember seeing anything shift into focus while the rest fell away.

So how did they get here?

He told his brother his theory on how they ended up in 1888, that his focusing on one thing in particular seemed to pull them out of whatever it was they were actually in and into a specific period in time. But he admitted he couldn’t remember what he had focused on before they arrived here.

“That’s because it wasn’t you,” said Richard after a moment’s thought.

“What?” said Edward.

“It was me. I looked at something. I focused on it. It became clear, like you said. Everything else—all the ghosts—started fading away. We were holding hands at the time. A moment later, we were here.”

It was presumptuous of Edward to think that he was the only one with the ability to plot their journey, as though time itself was only going to respond to him. Richard had brought them here.

“So what did you see?” said Edward. “What was it you focused on?”

It was like two tiny flames went out in Richard’s eyes. His face paled and his throat bulged with a swallow. An aura of fear had come over him like a deep shadow.

“What’s wrong?” said Edward.

“I saw… a monster,” replied Richard, looking down at his feet. “It was coming towards me. Charging at me like a bull. I was terrified. Did you not see it?”

“I saw creatures. I saw a lot of things. None could see me, though. What did the monster look like?”

Richard sighed, raised his head and looked at Edward. He opened his mouth to answer, then the direction of his gaze shifted slightly and his whole face dropped.

“That,” he whispered, rigid.

Edward spun round, following his gaze.

Lord have mercy.

Not far from where they stood, standing partly shaded beneath a cycad and trampling a large patch of hornworts, was a creature three times as tall as them, with dark green, brown-flecked skin that was scaly like a snake. Dangling from its bulbous middle were two small arms with three-fingered hands ending in sickle-shaped claws. Its two legs and feet were similar, only much larger and longer, and along its back was a row of tall, bony spines linked by skin. It waved a long tail that was as thick as a tree at the base and tapered to a point, and looked like it could propel a carriage into the air with a single whack. Its long head bore two horns and a tapered jaw, the hot sun gleaming off multiple, tightly packed rows of ravenous-looking teeth.

Edward’s heart was pounding as they watched the creature lean forwards, its two eyes—like yellow billiard balls—staring straight at them.

Neither boy moved. Richard whispered, “What do we do?”

Edward swallowed hard. He plunged his hand into his satchel and pulled out the pot of red pills.

“We have to—” started Edward.

“Edward!” his brother screamed.

The creature stooped low and launched into a run.

“Run!”

Posted in Adventure Fiction, Author Interview, Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy, Friendship, Magic, New Books, Young Adult

Earthlings : The Beginning Ray Star 5*#Review @RayStarBooks @chronospublish @midaspr #Earthlings #ReadGreen #SavethePlanet #magick #dysotopian #animals #BlogTour #BookReview #AuthorInterview #QandA #MondayBlogs

A twisting tale of elemental magick and a broken ecosystem, Earthlings is the spellbinding debut from Ray Star exploring family, friendship and the intrinsic value of nature

Peridot Watkins has always lived a very sheltered life. Raised on a remote island by an over-protective mother, she has never spoken to anyone outside of her family.

Until one day, a strange boy Euan knocks on her window, mumbling about escape from captivity on the mainland and Peri quickly learns that the world isn’t safe for people like them. It isn’t safe for Elementals, those who have the power to control earth, air, fire, water and spirit.

On her quest to learn the truth, Peri escapes the island to discover that the world is worse than she could have possibly imagined. Humans are slaves, animals can talk and the world is run by unruly chickens.

Peri is thrown into a world she barely understands; caught in an ongoing battle for freedom and struggling to command her magick whilst trying to find Euan, who is entangled with people who may not be as straight forward as they seem. Peri’s abilities may be what is needed to save humanity but at what cost?

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from the author via Midas PR in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Earthlings is intended for the young adult fantasy age group, but it explores issues that affect everyone. There is something in this story to capture most people’s interest. It envisages an alternative world where the balance of power shifts from humanity to the animal world. Whether you are an advocate of animal welfare or not, it’s hard not to see that current practices using animals are likely to harm not just them but humans too.

Peri’s sheltered life leaves her unprepared for her exceptional skills and the real world she encounters. This story is about how she copes and the difference she can make. It’s a coming-of-age fantasy story, but its setting and the world-building gives it a dystopian ethos. The inhumanity shown to animals is reversed in this world with humans as the farmed captive creatures. The story has a serious message that is impactful because of the quality of the storytelling. Adventure, friendship, family and relationships are all explored. Magickal practices feature strongly in this story through the main protagonist and as a major plot strand giving this story an engaging vibrancy.

The characters are believably crafted and draw the reader quickly into a world that should defy belief but doesn’t.

Q&A with Ray Star – #Earthlings

When creating your story, which comes first, the characters, plot or setting? Why do you think this is?

I am going to be completely honest with you, I have no plan of action when it comes to writing. The words find their way to me when I’m in the moment, and I rarely, if ever, know what I am going to write.

The Earthlings story came to me bizarrely when I was at lunch with my mother, a few weeks after my dad’s funeral. We were seated next to a small tropical fish tank, and I remember feeling so sad for the fish that would inevitably spend their lives swimming round in circles, never experiencing freedom.

I remember vividly, turning to Mum and saying quite out of the blue, “I’m going to write a book about animals that can talk.”

She stopped eating, put her fork down and said with a smile, “Well, why not?”

“Yes,” I thought, “why not indeed?”

I looked down at my dad’s ring that I wear always, and as the green gem twinkled back at me, Peridot’s tale came to life from there.

What are the inspirations for Earthlings – The Beginning, your debut fantasy novel?

Animals and the environment were the reason behind the creation of the Earthlings trilogy. As a practising eclectic green witch, I have a deep love for the natural world, and it pains me to witness how humanity neglects our home and its inhabitants.

I wanted to write a book that had a conscience to the narrative, enabling readers to contemplate how life could be if we were no longer the dominant species on the planet.  

World-building is an essential component of fantasy novels. How did you create yours?

This was surprisingly the easiest part of writing Earthlings, I looked at modern day society and without giving too much away, reversed some of the roles.

I remember thinking another writer might have a similar concept and beat me to it, itching to publish the book so I didn’t miss the opportunity to share the Earthlings tale.

Did you set out to write a book suited to the young adult market? If so, can you share why you believe they are your target audience?

I knew from the moment I wrote the first chapter that I wanted the story to revolve around teenagers, finding their inner power and trying to make positive changes for the planet. It’s a concept I believe we can all relate to.

Deep down, everyone wants to make the world a better place.

I also wanted to incorporate some of my daily practises as an eclectic witch into the novel, as an avid YA Fantasy lover, giving Peridot magick (yes – magick with a ‘k’), was too tempting to resist.

This was the only aspect of Earthlings that I debated – whether to include magick. In the end, it was my love for YA Fantasy that made it an easy decision to make.

 Is this book part of a series? If so, what aspect of elemental magick and the ecosystem does the second book explore?

Earthlings includes genuine magickal practises that I use in my own rituals, from herbal lore, crystal healing and invoking the elements to following moon cycles – I wanted to include practical magick that works and that we can use in our lives today.

Earthlings is book one of a trilogy as the story has many depths that I wanted to cover, and I physically could not cram them all into one book, as much as I wanted to!

The following book in the trilogy (Dominion) is in the editing process due for release this festive period, with the final instalment (Land of hope and glory) to be released next year.

A little inside secret for your followers; I will be writing a prequel (The Changing) which will be Peridot’s mother’s story explaining how the Earthlings world came to be, and I plan to have a spin off series from this once that book is complete.

Readers can sign up to my newsletter on raystarbooks.com for more details on this to come next year!

 What five words summarise your story. Can you explain why?

Unexpected. Intriguing. Disconcerting. Moving. Magickal.

Earthlings is the world we live in today, reversed, and with a hearty helping of magick added to each page.

Ray Star

Ray Star is a Fantasy author from Essex with a passion for animal rights and eco-living. She can often be found writing, exploring nature and occasionally stargazing underneath a full moon with a tarot deck in one hand and a strong cuppa in the other.

Earthlings was conceived from a love for the environment and inspired by her father, whose passing was a catalyst in leading a greener lifestyle.

Ray’s dream is to one day open an animal sanctuary and wildlife reserve in memory of her father. Earthlings is Ray’s debut novel and the first book in the Earthlings trilogy.

#Earthlings

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Posted in Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy, Folk Tales, Horror Fiction, Mystery, New Books, Noir, Psychological Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Thriller

Dog Rose Dirt Jen Williams 4*#Review @sennydreadful @HarperFiction @HarperCollinsUK #BookReview #Fairytales #Folklore #horror #psychologicalsuspense #DogRoseDirt

A convicted murderer with a story to tell

Serial killer Michael Reave – known as The Red Wolf – has been locked in Belmarsh Prison for over 20 years for the brutal and ritualistic murders of countless women.

A grieving daughter with a secret to unearth

Ex-journalist Heather Evans returns to her childhood home after her mother’s inexplicable suicide and discovers something chilling – hundreds of letters between her mother and Reave, dating back decades.

A hunt for a killer ready to strike again

When the body of a woman is found decorated with flowers, just like his victims, Reave is the only person alive who could help. After years of silence, he will speak to Heather, and only Heather.

If she wants to unearth the truth and stop further bloodshed, she’ll have to confront a monster.

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This story has many elements which make it absorbing and addictive reading.

Heather returns to her childhood home after her mother’s death. She is not in a good place in her life and struggles to accept her mother’s apparent suicide. Heather, an unreliable protagonist, finds copious correspondence between her mother and a serial killer, ‘The Red Wolf’. Unsure what to make of it, and in the light of similar recent murders, she sends them to the police and begins an unorthodox investigation of the past and present crimes.

Atmospheric, and horrifically graphic in parts, it intertwines fantasy, folklore, horror and psychological suspense. The settings are cleverly crafted and provide a menacing ethos. It uses folklore and fairytales, drawing out their darkness, fusing them with psychological suspense and noir characters. It’s about good and evil, but the lines are blurred.

This story delivers the shocks of horror fiction, with the illusions and secrets of folklore, making this a creepy, disturbing and often grisly read.