Ashes and Blood

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Katie Zaber and her fantasy novel Ashes and Blood.

Author’s description:

“I’ll start at the beginning. Long ago, before roads, before we built structures, before medicine was discovered, before the government was created, before man gained any knowledge, there were The Five. Independent from each other, The Five had a mutual respect for one another. They knew their roles in the world and their duty. They were gods…”

An adventure begins when an otherworldly tree captures the attention of Megan and her friends. The environment morphs around them, transferring them to an exotic planet. Stuck in a rural town still maimed by the plague, a chance encounter with a familiar face gives Megan and her friends some security during their adjustment period.

While settling into new, promising lives, they are attacked and stalked by planet Dalya’s humanoid inhabitants, who focus on Megan. One dark night, after an epic, magical attack, the Fae King’s knight is sent to fetch Megan. When she wakes up a prisoner, she learns that there is much more to this strange world, and it is oddly more like her own than she ever would have expected.

About the Author

Katie Zaber writes new adult fiction. With multiple projects spanning from being transported to an alternate universe, to past lives, reincarnation, and trapped souls, to prophesied pregnancies—there are more stories to tell. She lives in North New Jersey with her boyfriend.

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Dalya-Series-110665970357251
Website: https://zaberbooks.com/

Buy the Book on Amazon

Yes, there is a giveaway.

The author will award a $25 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn commenter.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish.

Check out all the other tour stops.

If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

 My Favorite Excerpt

Megan

Today has been a whirlwind, and I’m not looking forward to tonight. I’m positive the elite members of society will flaunt their latest ensembles. A competition among the wealthy to win a proverbial pat on the back for the best dressed. A sport for the rich. They won’t work up a sweat—that’s for the poor. Instead, they compete with wits and money. Women prancing around wearing cage ball gowns, adorned with priceless jewels. Their main goal is to uncover juicy gossip while competing for the wealthiest bachelor. Men swirling this world’s version of expensive scotch talk business and watch women swoon. It can’t be very different from Earth’s aristocratic affairs, not that I ever attended. Movies and the internet displayed enough information to know what to expect.

I had assumed it would be a rather humdrum affair, but my opinion changes quickly, standing before the colossal golden doors. Realization hits me. I am so naïve.

It feels like I’m walking into a fairy tale, but the darker Brothers Grimm version.

Beautiful, handcrafted, golden double doors depict a grand party. Intricate artwork chiseled into the doors displays two long banquet tables of food, roasts on fancy platters, piles of vegetables, and dainty desserts. Between the buffet tables, people adorned with masquerade attire dance. They wave, inviting everyone to the party. Guests laugh, drink, and enjoy themselves under the watchful king. The artwork depicts the king having fun, but there’s no doubt in my mind that he studies everyone, meticulously watching individuals, judging their personality, appearance, and demeanor while in his presence. A crooked smile peels his lips back—it hints at his sly and cruel nature. I can’t help but look at the doors and realize this is a perfect portrayal of what awaits me.

Instead of a warm welcome, it’s a stern warning.

 

R.I.P in Reykjavik

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author A.R. Kennedy and her cozy mystery novel, R.I.P in Reykjavik.

Author’s description:

Traveling with your family can be murder.

One wedding party + one estranged mother = another vacation that goes array for Naomi.

Naomi is off on another international vacation. She thinks traveling with her mother will be the most difficult part of her trip until she meets the rest of the tour group—a wedding party. It only gets worse when she finds the groom dead. Everyone’s a suspect on her Icelandic tour of this stunning country.

My Review

In R.I.P in Reykjavik, A.R. Kennedy has taken her idea of combining arm chair travel and cozy crime stories up a notch. This is a witty, fun and easy-to-read amateur sleuth novel that will once again have you turning the pages to cheer on its rookie crime solver. This time around, you’ll be enjoying the beauty and charm of Iceland while you do it.

Naomi acts more grown-up in this novel, and her previous amateur sleuthing in Africa has made her more competent at solving murders, too. It makes her a more likable sleuth. As a bonus, the reader gets new details about her dysfunctional family and I think this knowledge makes the whole series more appealing.

One of my favorite things about her writing is the ongoing humor. Enough sly wit was scattered throughout the story to keep me smiling, but I was laughing out loud near the end as Naomi made a video for her sister of the coming and goings in the hotel hallway. It’s worth reading the book just for that scene.

Deep twists and unexpected turns regarding the murder aren’t Kennedy’s MO, but once again we get an adequately complex cast of suspects, and a satisfying ending. I’ll take that any day.

I recommend this book to anyone who likes cozy mysteries, amateur sleuth novels or travel.

Check out my review of the author’s previous book Sleuth on Safari.

The teaser at the end of R.I.P in Reykjavik says Naomi’s next adventure will be in Australia. I’m looking forward to it!

About the Author

A R Kennedy lives in Long Beach, New York, with her two pups. She works hard to put food on the floor for them. As her favorite T-shirt says, ‘I work so my dog can have a better life’. She’s an avid traveler. But don’t worry. While she’s away, her parents dote on their grand-puppies even more than she does. Her writing is a combination of her love of travel, animals, and the journey we all take to find ourselves.

Find her on Goodreads, Facebook, Instagram, Bookbub or on Twitter. 

Buy R.I.P in Reykjavik on Amazon or find it at Books2read.

Yes, there is a giveaway.

A. R. Kennedy will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN gift certificate to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

A Personal Note

I’ve haven’t yet had the good fortune to travel to Iceland, but I did get to research it for my novel Flickers of Fortune. My hero Ariel, also a tourist, did many of the same things Naomi did, including visiting the Blue Lagoon and eating at the Lava restaurant. It was extra fun for me to read these scenes!

 My Favorite Excerpt

We stopped for lunch at a local restaurant. As I sat down at one of the long benches, my cell phone rang. Charlotte’s face appeared on the screen. I ran outside to answer it.

“So I heard you had a late night,” Charlotte said.

“Not the time.” I looked over my shoulder to make sure no one had followed me out. “The police think it might not be an accident.”

Charlotte audibly sighed. “Is that why it was a long night? You were with the police?”

“No, one of Ösp’s friends is a police officer.”

“You mean Thor.”

“Please don’t encourage Mother. His name is Ösp. I don’t want her nickname to stick.”

“Her nickname? I called him that,” she corrected me. “He looks like Thor.”

I looked over my shoulder at the restaurant’s entrance. “Looks like? How do you know what he looks like? Did you cyberstalk him? Check the hotel’s website for the staff’s pictures?”

“No. Mom texted me pictures.”

Horrified, I asked, “And how did she get them?”

“She followed you to the lobby.”

“Nice.”

“Give her a break. She was excited. It was like seeing you on your first date.”

“I’ve been on dates before.” I glanced over my shoulder again for any of the suspects.

“But Mom didn’t see that. She didn’t see the first dates, the proms. That was all Dad.”

“Would you like it if Dad followed you out on a date?”

“I don’t think Dad cares about those things.”

She was probably right.

“Anyway, this police officer I met last night said the autopsy must have shown something because they hadn’t closed the case yet.”

“So you turned your date into a fact-finding mission?”

“It was a happy coincidence.” I thought I heard the door open behind me. I turned to see no one. It must have been the wind.

“Why do you keep looking behind you?” Charlotte asked.

“Just making sure none of the suspects can hear me.”

“Suspects? You’ve turned your traveling companions into suspects?” She paused before adding, “Again?”

I ignored her. “Hurry up, Charlotte. Someone is going to come out looking for me soon.”

“Fine. If he drowned, I bet they’d say it was an accident. They’d find water in his lungs if he drowned. Maybe the autopsy didn’t find water in his lungs. That doesn’t rule out a cardiac event. That may be hard to prove. Most likely they are waiting for the toxicology results. That’s going to take a few days.”

I looked at the restaurant door and wished I could run in for my backpack, so I could take notes. “And what would that show?”

“Whatever was in his system. Maybe drugs, poisons.”

“I forgot to ask. If it was poison, how long before he died would he have to be poisoned?”

“Depends on the poison. Probably an hour or two, I guess.”

“Could you get a poison through TSA?”

“In something in a bottle with less than three ounces, sure. Could have been a powder. They could have bought it locally too. Rat poison and antifreeze has been used in a lot human deaths.”

“Can you think of anything specific I should look for?”

“You should look who’s coming up behind you,” she said before hanging up.

Introvert? Empath? Good Literary Citizen? (1 of 3)

I suck at social obligations.

Three Myers Briggs tests have found me to be an off-the-chart introvert, and my abilities as an empath once made me fear I was secretly from Deanna Troi’s home planet. It’s not a great combination. If I have to go somewhere, I soak up everything around me and it leaves me drained.

This doesn’t mean I can’t function around people. I’m practiced at faking normality. (Aren’t we all?) What it does mean is if I have to deal with people for very much or for very long, I can’t write.

The first time I heard the phrase Good Literary Citizen, my heart sank.

You see, I agree with the principals behind the idea, but I’m horribly suited to putting them in practice. Over the years, I’ve found three avenues that work for me, at least in limited quantities. I’ve found corollaries of these that have the capability to be my kryptonite. This post covers one set. (Read the second one. Read the third one.)

A Problem:

I’m from the US. Put me and a handful of other Americans in a room full of Brits and I’ll be the first one to start talking with a slightly British accent and I won’t even notice it. Yes, I have my own voice, but it’s as mutable as everything else about me. If I’m not careful, I write like the last person I read.

A Solution:

Read short things by different people, and read lots of them.

I’ve become a great fan of flash fiction. My genre is speculative, so I subscribe to Daily Science Fiction. Most days they send me a story of 1000 words or less. Some are brilliant. Occasionally one is sort of dumb. Every few days I read several of them at once. This keeps me current on themes and word choices floating around in my chosen genre, without any one author getting too deeply into my head.

Sometimes, DSF lets readers vote for stories they like. I do this to support authors who impress me. I also seek them out elsewhere and follow them or list their works as “want to read.” It’s my way of giving them a quick thumbs up before I move on to my own writing. (I also save their stories to reread and inspire me to write better.)

What to Avoid:

I avoid long novels by others, and I will not let myself get involved in a series. Not now. Not me. I can read all those great series out there when I retire from writing. I’m looking forward to it.

I also avoid authors with too distinctive of a voice. There’s nothing wrong with them; in fact some of them are great. They just aren’t for me right now. Again, someday …

As a result (1) I’m generally writing, (2) I generally sound like me, whatever that is, (3) I’m not completely out of touch with what is happening in my genre and (4) I’m doing at least something to support other authors.

I think it’s a win-win-not lose situation. Given my constraints, I’ll take it.