'Empire of the Vampire' by Jay Kristoff is Book 1 in the trilogy by the same name. A story which finds our narrator imprisoned and waiting to die for the crime of killing the Forever King.
With the last proper sunrise twenty-seven years past, vampires have spread their eternal empire far and wide. Destroying the human civilization bit by bit, they've rained death and destruction everywhere they've gone.
Silversaint, sworn brother of the holy Ordo Argent (Silver Order).. half-human and half-vampire, Gabriel de Leon has dedicated himself to defense of the realm. Not that it's necessarily stood beside him in return. Still.. he's the last line of defense between our world and theirs.
Forced to tell the tales of his legendary battles, forbidden love, loss of faith and self.. his captors press for more. Demanding everything of him.. intimate details of relationships, the Wars of the Blood, and the quest for hope.. The Holy Grail, he has little choice but to give them what they want.
If I'm being entirely honest, I'd been waiting for this book for well over a year. It's easily my most highly anticipated 2021 release and I'm happy to say, Kristoff absolutely delivers.
Not only is this story right up my proverbial alley, gritty and bloody.. with plenty of suffering to go around, Kristoff's writing skill also seems to reach a pinnacle here. While managing to maintain the rough edges his stories and characters are known for, there's a dark refinement at work within the pages.. a pristine alchemy.. a masterwork.. if you please.
I saw someone mention once that this book.. to paraphrase.. makes The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice look like an opening act. While I don't know that I agree with that, it isn't because the writing in Empire isn't superb. There's no doubt this book is a masterpiece of fiction, but rather because it's a wholly different kind of monster. Frankly, I don't think it's fair to either author's story to try to draw the comparison. I will say that for me, my love of the two are neck-and-neck, and that's high praise considering my admiration of Rice's prose.
Empire definitely put me through the wringer emotionally. It's funny really, I felt like I was doing very well.. as I'd gotten over halfway through the book dry-eyed, but it wasn't long after that point when the first gut-punch came.. leaving me a little more wary. I have to give Kristoff credit. Now matter how far ahead he sometimes chooses to let you know the gist of what's coming, he doesn't fail to crush you with the details all the same in the moment you get to experience it. In the hands of any less gifted author, that knowledge takes some of the impact out of the blow.. but with him.. it only seems to hurt all the more. I'm not sure I've ever wanted to be more mistaken during a read before.
Despite being over seven-hundred pages long, this book never becomes a slog. Whether he's character building or developing backstory, providing visual references or expanding relationships, I never wanted to put the book down and by the end.. he left me wanting more. Needing more.
The battle scenes are visceral explosions of violence and pain, scripted like a well-choreographed dance.. and in the Kristoff fashion we've all come to expect.. no one is safe. Not from death nor turns of darkness.
I'm thoroughly invested in the series and cannot wait to see where it goes.. what else will be unearthed in Gabe's tales.. and what he might yet get up to. I know there seems to be a certain end at the road, but The Last Silversaint is nothing.. if not stubborn and resourceful.. and I wouldn't bet against him taking a whole lot of coldbloods with him somehow.
If you haven't yet picked up this book, surely there's someone.. somewhere who hasn't.. even if I don't know them, do yourself a favor and remedy that. You're missing out.
'Flash Fire' by TJ Klune is book two in The Extraordinaries, a series about everyday teens with not-so-everyday abilities.
Though I missed out on the debut book, I definitely intend to go back and catch up.. because this one was delightful. I laughed so much in the opening pages and didn't want to put it down, even briefly and had to keep explaining to the people around me why I was laughing at all.
Nick Bell is the central figure, a charming boy with ADHD, enough enthusiasm for multiple people, and a hot superhero boyfriend. When he isn't busy helping out via his place on 'Team PyroStorm' or even better.. making out with the Extraordinary himself, he spends his time writing fanfics about his favorite hero and trying to deal with the fact he doesn't have any special powers of his own.
As new Extraordinaries come to light, like a pair of twins who can manipulate smoke and ice, a telekinetic enigma, and a drag queen with the best name and possibly the best catchphrases ever heard, Team PyroStorm has to figure out who's a threat to Nova City and who they can count on to help.
Old secrets start to bubble up in the midst of everything else, making Nick question who he can trust and what he really knows about those he's come to idealize.
There are spots of dialogue throughout the book that are brilliantly funny and remind me of people I know. Most of the brightest dialogue is front-loaded and while I feel the topics handled later are very important, the way they are addressed often feels a little less natural in the moment.
I can't say the reveals weren't predictable to me, but they might not be for others. Likewise, instead of feeling disappointed that I already knew where things were going, I was pleased.. even excited.. to see them come to fruition.
Nick and Seth are so lovely together, I just adore them. And Gibby and Jazz are a very close second to that. I really enjoyed how genuine and warm these relationships were in a genre where stories seem to thrive largely on conflict between couples. It's a very 'us against the world' theme at times and it made my investment in the outcome much stronger. These are people who love completely and are there for one another first and foremost.
It's also nice to see some pretty healthy parent-kid relationships, where they can interact with each other respectfully and it's not all one-sided demands for obedience. Though that's obviously not every scenario, it is present here.. and something I can relate to personally.
The story itself is really fun, lots of action scenes and excitement, plus we seem to be set-up for another book while avoiding the dreaded cliffhanger. I can happily recommend this to fans of stories about superheroes, coming of age stories, and teen camaraderie at its best.
Continue below to read my interview with Kai, review of the book, and be sure to follow this link - [TOUR SCHEDULE] to check out the rest of the stops on 'THE ECHOED REALM' blog tour brought to you by STORYTELLERS ON TOUR, PARLIAMENT HOUSE PRESS, and AJ VRANA!
THE ECHOED REALM
(THE CHAOS CYCLE DUOLOGY #2)
by A.J. VRANA
Published: August 10, 2021
Publisher: The Parliament House
Genre: Dark Fantasy, Horror, Magical Realism
Age Group: New Adult / Adult
Those of you who know me, also know I love a dark visceral story with a suffering bad boy to pine over and a female character that manages to be both strong and non-annoying in the process. The Echoed Realm (The Chaos Cycle Duology #2) by AJ Vrana definitely has all that and much more.
I completely fell for Kai and Miya in book one, The Hollow Gods, and couldn't wait to get my hands on the follow-up. Let me tell you, Vrana does NOT disappoint. What I love about a series that trails specific characters.. is that you get to see them grow and evolve.. and everyone's doing that here. They've all come a long way, but the road ahead may be longer still.
The second part of their story finds them on the move. Black Hollow is far behind them geographically, if not far from their thoughts and dreams. Three years have passed and the Dreamwalker has become the hunter. Traveling from place to place in search of the types of entities that would see darkness swallow us all, she has one goal in mind.. ending them.
Kai has found companionship, but it comes with a cost. Bound to the Dreamwalker, his movements have never been more restrictive and though he would do anything to protect her, he longs for his freedom.
Mason discovers things are not at all as they seem, that his decisions and movements may merely be the result of strings being pulled outside his periphery.. leaving him to question his situation and himself.
While age old beings close in on them and their friends, Miya struggles with memories that don't completely make sense and a future she doesn't know how to control.
There's a gorgeously macabre new villain added to the mix of problems the group already has to deal with in this book. Positively appalling and sympathetic, sometimes simultaneously. Though my favorite aspect of this addition is Kai's way of dealing with them. I'm not sure there's a snarkier character out there that's actually funny. Often they're just overdone, but his reactions just rang so true at times that I laughed out loud.. then had to explain myself to those around me. He can be such a PITA in such a good way.
Likewise, Crowbar is a fantastic supplement to the cast of characters. She's pretty much everything I like in my favorite female characters. Who knew an author could hit that out of the park three times in one series? Between her, Ama, and Miya.. my expectations for strong female protagonists has been solidified. I used to think what I wanted just didn't happen in modern storytelling, but they're proof otherwise.
Certainly, the dreamworld sequences are fantastically moody. While the transitions are smooth, the weight of that shift becomes heavy.. which is so beautifully suited to the story being told there and I love, LOVE the new villain's backstory.
I can't recommend this book and this series enough. It's shadowy, Slavic folklore at its best in an adult fantasy setting, filled with both traditional and existential horrors.. and I still want more..
Be sure to keep reading for the interview with Kai and the poster giveaway below!
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Kai Donovan Pt. 2
Do you have a favorite injury to inflict?
Kai: Headbutt to the face. Nothing more satisfying than the sound of a crunching nose.
Do you prefer knifing or breaking bones?
Kai: Why not both? Knifing and bone-breaking are equally satisfying, and it’s not like
you have to choose, though I’d recommend bone-breaking before knifing. Sometimes
you get a gusher, and while it might look badass to get sprayed in someone else’s
blood, it’s pretty inconvenient.
Have you ever gotten blood in your eyes? Fucking sucks.
It’s sticky, and a bitch to get out of clothes if you wait too long.
What’s your favourite smell as a wolf and as a person?
Kai: Meat and meat. Also a fan of rubbing alcohol and gasoline.
What bar bet would you win?
Kai: All of them.
Best by far is getting trashed and throwing darts at someone standing next to the
dartboard. I like to call specific body parts, like a left thumb. I never miss.
Weirdest place you’ve had sex?
Kai: A cubbyhole in a haunted house attraction—you know, the one where the actors
What’s the number of people you’ve slept with?
Kai: Why? Are you contacting them for testimonials?
Most embarrassing moment?
Kai: I once found one of Mason’s jokes funny. I laughed after he left. If you tell him, I’ll
fucking end you.
Aside from that, got hammered on cheap wine, went to get snacks, mistook a feral cat
for a bag of Cheetos. Carried said cat around like a football for an hour before trying to
get an actual bag of Cheetos. Didn’t end up getting it because the store clerk wouldn’t
let me in with the cat, which my drunk ass didn’t want to put down. I liked that cat.
Least favorite memory?
Kai: Why the fuck would I remember that?
Kai: Gonna stick with my fever dream of being chased by a bus being driven by a
hamster. Yeah, that one fucked me up. Literally worse than demonic possession.
How do you feel about clowns?
Kai: Not really a fan. Too many sudden movements. Too much smiling. Too many teeth.
It’s like they’re asking to be punched.
Do you have any strange talents?
Kai: I can skin a rabbit one-handed. Also, I stayed conscious after getting shot with a
horse tranquilizer. Does that count as a talent?
Favorite sexual position ����
Kai: As long as it doesn’t involve body chocolate or nipple clamps, I’ve never started in
a position I couldn’t finish in. As for the body chocolate and nipple clamps, if you want
more details, you’ll have to pay the bar tab.
Finish this sentence: Revenge is a dish best served...
If you had to kick someone’s ass and you weren’t allowed to use steel-toed boots, what
would be your weapon of choice?
Kai: A raccoon. Throw a raccoon at a man’s face, and watch the little fucker get to work.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, raccoons know how to scrap, especially when
there’s bologna on the line.
What’s worse? Buses or Mason Evans?
Kai: Well, Mason is the public transit version of people, so… Wait, scratch that. Mason
is worse. At least a bus can kick my ass, and I respect that.
Miya: What if Mason’s driving the bus?
Kai: Then that bus probably couldn’t hit roadkill.
Ideal date with Miya?
Someone else’s credit card, fancy hotel, trash the place, leave a show for the black
Favourite deadly sin?
Since we’re not talking about the one I’m most afflicted by, I’d say my favourite is lust,
which I guess is just gluttony of the dick.
Hear Me Roar: A Memoir
June 18th, 2021 & July 20th, 2021
3 Decades, 12 Men, 3 Countries, and 1 Woman who refused to give up.
After 35 years of silence, Author Mindi Hood takes you on a journey into a past filled with unimaginable experiences, into a future filled with hope.
Hear Me Roar is the incredible true story of a woman who has been held captive, endured multiple sexual assaults and survived violent attacks. Despite her traumatic past, she continues on a path of self-discovery, faith, and love. Mindi has graciously allowed her story to be told in the hope that it may serve to inspire others to keep going and live out loud.
About the Author:
Mindi is a Transit Operator in Burlington, Ontario as well as a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist.
She is passionate about Architecture, the Social Sciences, and Humanitarian Causes. Hear Me Roar is her first book, and through it she aspires to spread messages of love, hope, and faith. She lives with her beautiful daughter, Mackenzie and their two adorable dogs, Ally and Maddie.
No More Secrets (The Carter Island Trilogy #3)
June 22nd, 2021
Three siblings. One year. Everything changes.
Aussie billionaire businessman and pilot Cade Paxton has struggled to put his life back together after suffering a tragic loss. With his purchase of Carter Island Air and recent move to the small Massachusetts island, he sees his chance for a fresh start. Cade’s sole focus is on growing his investment and avoiding romantic entanglements at all costs. But then he hires Rebecca Carter Interiors’ new assistant designer to help him update the aging airport. Cade quickly finds himself fascinated by the sassy beauty who often speaks her mind, talking to him in a way most people wouldn’t dare.
Single mother Gwenyth Carter has recently been through hell. She’s starting over after several months of nasty surprises. Newly divorced and nearly broke, she’s rebuilding her life one step at a time. Gwen’s certain she has everything she needs: her sweet baby girl, a supportive family, and her dream career. She’s endlessly grateful when the lucrative airport project falls into her lap. But Gwen soon realizes that her new job comes with unforeseen complications, mainly the amount of time she’s forced to spend with her gorgeous client and his sexy accent. Their mutual attraction is undeniable, yet Gwen tries her best to keep a professional distance, even when she recognizes how wonderful Cade is with her daughter. But it isn’t long before Gwen is dealt another unexpected blow that she struggles to handle on her own. Gwen will have no choice but to turn to the one man she’s determined not to want or risk losing what she loves most.
About the Author:
Cate Beauman is the multi-award-winning, international bestselling author of The Bodyguards of L.A. County series and the Carter Island Trilogy. She is known for her full-length, action-packed romantic suspense and contemporary stories.
Cate's novels have been named Readers' Favorite Five Star books and have won the Booksellers' Best Award, Maggie Award for Excellence, the Holt Medallion Award, two-time Aspen Gold Medal, two-time Readers' Favorite International Gold Medal, three-time Readers' Favorite International Silver Medal, and the Readers' Crown Award.
Cate makes her home in New Hampshire with her family and their St. Bernards, Bear and Jack.
“The ultimate goal is expansion—expanding the airport in phases and contracting with a major airline to maximize the island’s summer reach. I’d like to bring in flights from D.C., Atlanta, and Miami.”
Gwen blinked her surprise. “Wow, I didn’t realize that was happening.”
He nodded again. “That’s the long-term plan. Infrastructure needs to catch up before we start bringing more people in for a visit, though. I’d say we’re three years away from the full implementation.”
“I see.” She made notes, not sure how much she liked the idea of Carter Island becoming a massive tourist attraction. They had numerous visitors every summer, but this seemed extreme.
“You don’t have much of a poker face, Gwen.”
Her gaze snapped to his. “I’m sorry?”
“Oh.” She immediately smoothed her features with a polite smile. “I apologize.”
“You’re not much on the idea, then?”
She shrugged. “We’re not looking to turn Carter Island into a summertime circus. It’s unfortunate if Buzz and the council have given you that impression.”
“There’s plenty of room for growth.”
“As a developer, I’m sure that’s your bottom line, but there’s also a need for conservation. I recognize that Thomas was too stuck in his ways when he was mayor. I also understand that Buzz is moving Sanderson in a new direction, but bigger isn’t always better.”
She nodded decisively. “Good. Because both of the founding families are on board with careful, well-considered growth, but neither the Sandersons nor Carters will tolerate developing to capacity. As a Carter myself, I can assure you that won’t be happening.”
A grin split Cade’s face.
She felt her frown return. “Why are you smiling? What have I said that’s funny?”
“You’ve certainly told me.”
Her temper began heating. “This is my home—my daughter’s home. I have a duty to speak up and protect my birthright.” Never again would she be complacent when something didn’t sit right.
“It’s been quite some time since anyone’s put me in my place. Most people wouldn’t dare.”
She jerked her shoulders. “You don’t frighten me much.”
He roared out a laugh, his head tipping back with the deep sound. “Duly noted.”
Continue below to read my interview with author Elizabeth Lim and be sure to follow this link - [TOUR SCHEDULE] to check out the rest of the stops on the 'SIX CRIMSON CRANES' blog tour brought to you by TBR & Beyond Tours, Knopf BFYR/Penguin Random House, and Elizabeth Lim!
Six Crimson Cranes
July 6th 2021
Young Adult Fantasy
Shiori, the only princess of Kiata, has a secret. Forbidden magic runs through her veins. Normally she conceals it well, but on the morning of her betrothal ceremony, Shiori loses control. At first, her mistake seems like a stroke of luck, forestalling the wedding she never wanted, but it also catches the attention of Raikama, her stepmother.
Raikama has dark magic of her own, and she banishes the young princess, turning her brothers into cranes, and warning Shiori that she must speak of it to no one: for with every word that escapes her lips, one of her brothers will die.
Penniless, voiceless, and alone, Shiori searches for her brothers, and, on her journey, uncovers a conspiracy to overtake the throne—a conspiracy more twisted and deceitful, more cunning and complex, than even Raikama’s betrayal. Only Shiori can set the kingdom to rights, but to do so she must place her trust in the very boy she fought so hard not to marry. And she must embrace the magic she’s been taught all her life to contain—no matter what it costs her.
About the Author:
Elizabeth Lim is the author of the critically-acclaimed and bestselling The Blood of Stars duology (Spin the Dawn and Unravel the Dusk), the New York Times bestseller So This is Love, and the USA Today bestseller Reflection. Forthcoming books include the Six Crimson Cranes duology, expected summer 2021 and summer 2022, respectively.
Elizabeth grew up on a hearty staple of fairy tales, myths, and songs. Her passion for storytelling began around age 10, when she started writing fanfics for Sailor Moon, Sweet Valley, and Star Wars, and posted them online to discover, “Wow, people actually read my stuff. And that’s kinda cool!” But after one of her teachers told her she had “too much voice” in her essays, Elizabeth took a break from creative writing to focus on not flunking English.
Over the years, Elizabeth became a film and video game composer, and even went so far as to get a doctorate in music composition. But she always missed writing, and she turned to penning stories when she needed a breather from grad school. One day, she decided to write and finish a novel—for kicks, at first, then things became serious—and she hasn’t looked back since.
Elizabeth graduated from Harvard College with an A.B. in music and a secondary in East Asian Studies, and she completed her graduate degrees (MM, DMA) at The Juilliard School. She grew up in Northern California and Tokyo, Japan, and now resides in New York with her husband and two daughters.
What is something only you know about Shiori?
She feels guilty that she doesn’t miss her birth mother more .
If you had to describe Shiori using three songs, what would they be?
Brave by Sara Bareilles, Girl on Fire by Alicia Keys, Rise up by Andra Day.
Which supporting character holds a special place in your heart and why?
I love Kiki! She’s sassy, smart, and is the perfect companion and best friend that Shiori could have. Shiori spends a lot of the book unable to speak, but she can still communicate with Kiki and it was such a joy writing their scenes together.
What did you love the most about writing this book?
Honestly, I loved almost all of it! But if I had to pick a favorite, I loved the scenes where XXX (name redacted for spoilers) tells Shiori that they’ve been searching for the missing princess, and since she’s taken a vow of silence and is under disguise she can’t tell them that she is in fact Shiori. Those scenes have so much angst and emotion, I loved writing them!
According to your author bio, you grew up in both Northern California and Tokyo, Japan. How did that binational experience influence your storytelling style?
I’d have to say that I’m grateful to my parents for having had the chance to live in Asia. Before I moved to Japan, I’d spent my whole life in the United States, and it was really eye-opening to live in a country that focuses on the greater community rather than the individual. I’m not sure how exactly my binational experience influenced my storytelling style, but it definitely shaped me as a person and has made me more appreciative of the cultural values that my parents tried to instill in me (filial piety and respect for elders, societal harmony, working hard and not giving up) and I think those values instinctively show up in my characters and stories.
Have you read any debut authors this year that you feel are writers to watch? If so, who?
Yes! Of the debut authors I’ve read for 2021, look out for June Tan (Jade Fire Gold), Xiran Zhao (Iron Widow), and Laura Rueckert (A Dragonbird in the Fern)!
Continue below to read my review of the book and be sure to follow this link - [TOUR SCHEDULE] to check out the rest of the stops on the 'Sairō's Claw' blog tour brought to you by Storytellers On Tour and Virginia McClain!
'Sairō’s Claw (A Gensokai Novel)' by Virginia McClain is a multiple narrative tale following a split storyline that features sword-wielding lesbians, mind-blowing sea battles, and a grumpy wolf spirit trapped in a sword. The representations are pretty diverse, including a gender-neutral blood mage and what just might be a bit of a grey-ace ship captain (which I LOVE).
The action-adventure adult fantasy focuses largely on the converging tales of Torako and Kaiyo, encompassing those close to them on each side of the conflict.
Torako is a walking legend.. bordering on myth. She stalks the valley she calls home, dispatching would-be dangers and protecting the people who share the land. When she runs across a group of bandits who attack her and threaten her daughter, they too join the number she has defeated.. but the katana she loots off one of the corpses turns out to be possessed by a surly wolf kami.
Upon returning home from a confrontation, she finds her wife, Raku.. has been abducted and their daughter, Itachi hiding tearfully nearby. Certain she's somehow angered the spirits, she's nonetheless determined to save the love of her life. With no one to care for the child, Torako launches her campaign carrying their daughter along with her.
Kaiyo is subject to plenty of rumors of her own. As Captain of the Wind Serpent and heir to rule the land she grew up in, she's above all.. someone who follows her admirals orders. She may be rebellious at home where her mother's idea of traditions are concerned, but she's long ago carved out her place in the Kaigun military. Still, when she receives a missive commanding her to abduct a civilian scribe with the help of fifteen of the worst criminals the dungeons hold, she makes her objections known.. but again, follows orders.
This story starts out like still waters before a storm, but that peace is brief. There's a short window of time within which to get to know all the major characters a bit, and then the group is drawn inexorably toward one another. You know there's going to be a serious collision when it happens and you're not left waiting long to see it.
McClain does a beautiful job painting the textures of her characters with detailed strokes. There's incredible tenderness in some and a cool, calculating method to others. Each of the supporting characters has a fleshed-out identity, which helped me to connect with them easily and made them distinctively memorable. I definitely became quickly invested with people on both sides of the conflict.
Her action sequences are visually exciting, without being overstimulating to the point you don't even know what's happening. At times, I felt like I was on the edge of my seat watching a scene play out, hoping for certain things to occur.. or in some cases, hoping they wouldn't.
Inspired closely by feudal Japan, the world-building is elegant and deeply layered. She even includes a glossary of words either taken directly from the influence or created from it and their translated meanings, though there are also a handful of words spread throughout the book that are more common usage and not specifically defined.
Honestly, I loved this book so much I didn't even want to put it down. The prose is comfortably eloquent, but not flowery. As with everything, McClain seems to walk that fine line down the middle with ease.. giving us enough to be immersive and never throwing anything at us that will kick us out of the story and leave us head-scratching. I'm eager to see where she goes from here and highly recommend giving this a chance if you like multi-cultural adult fantasy.
Virginia McClain is an author who masqueraded as a language teacher for a decade or so. When she’s not reading or writing she can generally be found playing outside with her four-legged adventure buddy and the tiny human she helped to build from scratch.
She enjoys climbing to the top of tall rocks, running through deserts, mountains, and woodlands, and carrying a foldable home on her back whenever she gets a chance. She’s also fond of word games, and writing descriptions of herself that are needlessly vague.
'The Queen Will Betray You (The Kingdoms of Sand & Sky Trilogy, Book 2)' by Sarah Henning - Feature Interview
Continue below to read my interview with Sarah Henning, then be sure to add the books to your Goodreads list and check out the author and purchase links below!
I am so thrilled Tor Teen and Sarah Henning granted me this interview, just in time for Pub Day!
Henning is the bestselling author of The Princess Will Save You. Her newest offering, book two in the series.. The Queen Will Betray You, releases today!
The Queen Will Betray You
(The Kingdoms of Sand & Sky Trilogy)
Publication Date: July 6th 2021
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE CROWN…
After a thousand years of political stability, the realm of The Sand and Sky is up for grabs. Four kingdoms, four rulers vying for the ultimate prize, sovereignty over the entire continent: A ruthless old king spinning webs, whose schemes encompass generations. A widowed queen whose only credo is all kings must die. A runaway queen whose unexpected return upends everyone’s plans. And a prince-in-waiting determined to wait no more.
Standing against them are a dispossessed princess and her stableboy love with a surprising claim of his own. Their only hope in the face of unspeakable betrayals, enemies hidden in the shadows, and insurmountable odds is the power of true love...
The Kingdoms of Sand & Sky Trilogy
Book 1: The Princess Will Save You
Book 2: The Queen Will Betray You
Book 3: The King Will Kill You (forthcoming)
About the Author:
SARAH HENNING is the author of Sea Witch, Sea Witch Rising, Throw Like A Girl, and The Princess Will Save You.
She is a recovering journalist who has worked for Palm Beach Post, Kansas City Star, and Associated Press, among others. When not writing, she runs ultramarathons, hits the playground with her two kids and hangs out with her husband Justin, who doubles as her long-suffering IT department.
Of the three series you're in the midst of, which character is most challenging to write and why?
While writing The Queen Will Betray You, I actually found Luca’s point-of-view scenes the most difficult. It’s funny because in the first book I identified with him most (we’re both non-confrontational morning people!) but in the second book most of his journey is really him learning to grow into who he is. It’s very personal to him, yet means very much to those with him that he steps up to all the expectations he faces. I found it much easier to write those changes in him externally, through other character points of view. I rewrote his scenes over and over again during the course of writing this book. At once point, I even pulled his whole arc of chapters out of the main manuscript so I could interface with them without the rest of the story around. Even though it took so long to get him right, it was worth it in the end!
What would you say is Amarande's greatest motivator?
Love is definitely her motivation. For Luca, for her people, for the other women in the continent held down by the extreme patriarchy that rules the Sand and Sky.
If you had to describe Amarande and Luca's journey so far with three images, what would they be and why?
This is a hard one because their journey isn’t over! (The King Will Kill You is out in summer 2022). I would say:
1. Clasped hands — because true love!
2. Horses in sand — because of their journey!
3. Artfully spilled blood — because, well, yeah.
Can you share something about Amarande and Luca that isn't in the books?
Luca very much enjoys making errands at the market and knows nearly every vendor by name. And though she tries to act annoyed with having to dress up and wear jewelry and get her hair done, Amarande actually really likes being pampered, especially after hours of training.
Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what might be on the soundtrack for The Queen Will Betray You?
I don’t listen to music while I write but I listen to music around my writing sessions, like when I go running or when I’m in the car. I create a playlist for each book, and in the case of The Queen Will Betray You, I simply added to the playlist I already had for The Princess Will Save You because even though the story is different, the characters and their feelings are still pretty solidly the same. Taylor Swift’s last three albums each had music I added to the playlist I had going for these characters. In particular, “The Man,” “The Archer,” “Mad Woman” and “Epiphany” were all really songs that were big for me with Queen!
I read that you were a sports journalist before becoming a novelist, but if you weren't writing or running competitively, what do you think you'd be doing?
I was a sports journalist—I’m a sucker for a good athlete narrative of someone who puts in the hard work, survives everything that’s thrown at them, and then wins! Honestly, many of my journalism school friends became lawyers, so perhaps I would’ve gone on to do that. But for me writing was always it!
What was the first book you read that made you want to be an author?
I feel like I always wanted to be an author, so this is a little bit of a tough question. But the book I remember reading and then forcing into the hands of others was The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin.
I know you've said you have written adult crime fiction, as well as your young adult fantasy and contemporary novels. Do you have a genre preference?
I actually don’t have a preference—I just want to tell a good story! I’ve been very fortunate that the industry has allowed me to write broadly so far. I haven’t been pigeonholed into one area or another, and I appreciate that. I want to write broadly and challenge myself. It makes me a little more difficult to market, I suppose, but I definitely appreciate variety. I see it sort of like being an actor—I’m someone who doesn’t want to always play the same type of part if I can help it.
Kingdom of Sirens and Monsters
Continue below to read my interview with Liselle Sambury and be sure to follow this link - [TOUR SCHEDULE] to check out the rest of the stops on the 'BLOOD LIKE MAGIC' blog tour brought to you by TBR AND BEYOND TOURS, MARGARET K MCELDERRY BOOKS, and LISELLE SAMBURY!
Blood Like Magic
Publication Date: June 15th 2021
Genre: Dark Urban Young Adult Fantasy
Content Warnings: Whipping scene within the context of slavery, gun/police violence, discussion of and character with an eating disorder, blood/gore/violence, death, substance abuse/addiction, mentions of child neglect.
A rich, dark urban fantasy debut following a teen witch who is given a horrifying task: sacrificing her first love to save her family’s magic. The problem is, she’s never been in love—she’ll have to find the perfect guy before she can kill him.
After years of waiting for her Calling—a trial every witch must pass in order to come into their powers—the one thing Voya Thomas didn’t expect was to fail. When Voya’s ancestor gives her an unprecedented second chance to complete her Calling, she agrees—and then is horrified when her task is to kill her first love. And this time, failure means every Thomas witch will be stripped of their magic.
Voya is determined to save her family’s magic no matter the cost. The problem is, Voya has never been in love, so for her to succeed, she’ll first have to find the perfect guy—and fast. Fortunately, a genetic matchmaking program has just hit the market. Her plan is to join the program, fall in love, and complete her task before the deadline. What she doesn’t count on is being paired with the infuriating Luc—how can she fall in love with a guy who seemingly wants nothing to do with her?
With mounting pressure from her family, Voya is caught between her morality and her duty to her bloodline. If she wants to save their heritage and Luc, she’ll have to find something her ancestor wants more than blood. And in witchcraft, blood is everything.
Liselle Sambury is a Trinidadian-Canadian author who grew up in Toronto, and her brand of writing can be described as “messy Black girls in fantasy situations.”
In her free time, she shares helpful tips for upcoming writers and details of her publishing journey through a YouTube channel dedicated to helping demystify the sometimes complicated business of being an author.
She is represented by Kristy Hunter at The Knight Agency.
What's the most surprising thing you discovered about Voya while writing this book?
I had an interesting experience where during edits with my publisher, I realized that I had her internal motivation wrong. I thought she wanted one thing from her life but came to understand that she wanted something very different. It was surprising because I had done so many edits by then, you would think I would have her down, but that was something new I discovered and am happy I was able to correct.
How did writing Blood Like Magic change you?
I definitely learned a lot about my personal history during the creation of the novel. Ancestry is such a core theme, and I finally pushed myself to find out some of the story of where I came from. I think I have more appreciation for asking family members those sorts of questions now.
Where did your love of storytelling come from?
Since as long as I can remember, I have always told myself stories in my head well before I was ever reading them. I feel like that mostly came from being an only child, to be honest. You really have to rely on yourself for entertainment and that was how I entertained myself. Once I started writing them down, I really enjoyed the escapism of it and being able to see a physical representation of my stories that I could look back on.
How does your life inform your writing?
I do very naturally incorporate things that occur in my life into my writing. If I’ve had an impactful experience, I tend to want to discuss and explore that in prose. I also find that it tends to work out better if I put some of myself into the work, even if it’s just constantly setting my stories in Canada.
What's your favorite under-appreciated novel?
I think every novel I’ve read and loved has had some sort of acclaim, but one that I thought was wonderful and wish people would talk about more is Watch Over Me by Nina Lacour. It’s just so beautifully written and emotional, and such an interesting twist on a ghost story. I think it also really speaks to a longing desperation to belong, which I loved.
If this story had a playlist, what would be on it?
I did actually make a playlist! Some songs I have on it are Togetherness by Alison Hinds, which is a song that I remember fondly from when I went to Caribana as a child and is kind of perfectly fitted to the book. I also included Past Lives by BORNS because of the way that the past and those who come before us affects the characters.
What do you hope readers take away from this book?
I hope more than anything that they enjoy it as an urban fantasy. I think there are messages like feeling that you have the power to control your future that I would love readers to marinate on. But I would also truly love for them to see it as a fun addition to the genre.