*Blog Book Tour*: Virtual Blue by R.J. Sullivan

Posted Monday, 28 October, 2013 by jorielov , , , , 5 Comments

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Virtual Blue by R.J. Sullivan

{Book Two: The Adventures of Blue Shaefer series}

Virtual Blue Tour - RJ Sullivan TCM

{Book One: Haunting Blue}

Published By: Seventh Star Press, August 2013
Official Author Websites: Sullivan on Facebook; Sullivan on Twitter;
Personal Site
; Fan Club
Author Page: @ Seventh Star Press
Artist Page: Bonnie Wasson  @ Seventh Star Press
I could not source a personal site!
Available Formats: Softcover and E-Book
Page Count: 408

Acquired Book By: I was selected to be a stop on the “Virtual Blue” Virtual Book Tour, hosted by Tomorrow Comes Media. I received “Virtual Blue”  in exchange for an honest review by the publisher Seventh Star Press. The book released in August 2013. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Intrigued to Read: I always try to attempt to keep an open mind when it comes to discovering new forms of literature, as much as seeking out authors’ outside my zone of comfort! Whereupon I first learnt of this particular book and author, my initial reaction was simply thus: I would read his books anytime! Love the classic movie star vibe combined with the ghost story and leaping into lives via à la Quantum Leap! It was a precursor look into his collective works thus far along, as I gathered that he has a wicked sense of humour threaded throughout this books and I liked that aspect of his writings! His own website yields in the sub-heading to reflect his writing personality as thus as well!

It’s also a departure again for my preference for reading serial fiction in order of publication and/or in order of the series, as some books are published out of the structure of the world they are written in! Ironically or not! Laughs. There are times where I feel I can break this self-disciplined rule, and I felt I could with Virtual Blue! Let us see if I was right!

Curiously as I read the premise of this particular novel I felt like it was not entirely outside of what I’d expect to find in a story, as I am a long-term appreciator of “Charmed” (ahem! ahead of the writing derailments in latter seasons!), and I am sure this will have a connection in regards to an ill-fated film I watched (ill-fated here refers to the fact I was not meant to appreciate it!) which jumped the rails into pop culture stardom! The film I refer to is “The Matrix”, and yet, another film “Tron: Legacy” is one that I loved! However, having said all of that, I was game for a challenging read, and one that I wanted to test to see if I can carve out a niche in an urban genre mixed with the supernatural! Finding that this falls under ‘horror’ beneath the science-fiction umbrella was a bit daunting at first, as although I avoid modern horror for the most part, there are elements of stories that I enjoy that actually pertain to this branch! IF your familiar with “The Dead Zone” tv series and the “Mummy” films, you’ll know where I find myself in ‘modern’ horror, as my favourite by far are the early 1920’s-1960’s psychological suspense films that are ‘horror’ in scope, but not in grisly, gruesome, or grotesque visceral imagery! I am a quirky reader after all, dear hearts! Are you naught as well!?

Author BiographyRJ Sullivan

R. J. Sullivan’s novel Haunting Blue is an edgy paranormal thriller and the first book of the adventures of punk girl Fiona “Blue” Shaefer and her boyfriend Chip Farren. Seventh Star Press released Haunting Obsession, a Rebecca Burton Novella in 2012 and Virtual Blue, the second book in Fiona’s tale, in 2013. Seventh Star will release a new edition of Haunting Blue in early 2014. R. J.’s short stories have been featured in such acclaimed collections as Dark Faith Invocations by Apex Books and Vampires Don’t Sparkle. His newest project is the Red Lotus series of science fiction novelettes for readers of all ages. R.J. resides with his family in Heartland Crossing, Indiana. Check in regularly to learn the latest about the projects of R. J. Sullivan.

Synopsis of Virtual Blue:

Did you ever wish you could escape to a virtual world? What if you could…but then couldn’t get out?

Two years after her deadly clash with a vengeful ghost, Fiona “Blue” Shaefer still can’t shake off the trauma of that night. Moving to New York with her father didn’t help. Neither did absorbing herself in her college classes. Not even her poetry provided the solace it once did. She convinces herself that ending her relationship with Eugene “Chip” Farren, her long-distance boyfriend and final tie to the horrors of that night, might bring the closure she needs. Blue travels to Bloomington to break the news to Chip in person, but her timing couldn’t be any worse.

The Sisters of Baalina, vengeful cultists who practice a new form of “techno-magic,” have targeted Chip’s multi-player videogame as the perfect environment to cast a dangerous spell to free a demoness from the very pits of hell. In the process, their plan may trap Blue in a prison of the mind with no locks, no bars, and no escape.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Spotlight on the Illustrative Art by Bonnie Wasson:
Bonnie Wasson - Artwork Credit
Artwork Credit: Bonnie Wasson

Ms. Wasson does not disappoint with her stunning visual accuracy of the images that your own mind’s eye conjures to be representative of the characters in Virtual Blue! As I have come to read two Seventh Star Press releases featuring cover art and illustrated plates by Matthew Perry, I was most delighted to have my ‘introduction’ to the artistry of Wasson! You could nearly pluck “Blue” into a lovely series of stationery sheets to musefully write your friends’ the everyday adventures you seek and enjoy! Although, this is perhaps an observation only a letter-writer would make on behalf of “Blue!”

On the left, is the plate which depicts the final encounter between Marda and Blue, in Chapter Twenty-Eight. Did you notice the reflective menacing arc of the blade!? There is emotional drama in this scene, as captured in this plate, but with the presence of a blade, twinged sharp and lethal, it adds to the emotions that your feeling as you read the scene initially!

Artwork Credit: Bonnie Wasson
Artwork Credit: Bonnie Wasson

On the right, is the plate which depicts Baalina and Blue meeting at the portal at the end of Chapter Nineteen. For every good seed there must be a bad one to off-set the imbalance, which is usually when the forces of evil wage war against the good in stories such as these, as they are forever attempting to assert their ascent over the free and just! This particular scene is exactly as its portrayed as being: a showdown of wills between Baalina and Blue!

The sharpness of her details, allows you to glimpse inside the characters’ world as though they had stepped into our own, which is always something that I look for when I observe an artist’s rendition of a writers’ work! I was full of mirth whilst reading Blue’s reaction to her ‘virtual self’ in the story (Chapter Three), and I wondered what Wasson felt once she had finished rendering Blue as Daria!? As she eclipsed the full essence of finding oneself re-imaged as an improved version by a second party!

Reflections As I Became Entrenched in Virtual Blue:

A daughter’s regret on the events that led to her mother’s death overshadow the confidence that Fiona (Blue) has for moving forward with her life. I think that is a plausible problem for most who lose their loved ones under conditions that are not afforded to being naturally inclined. Your always going to question the moments (even the nanoseconds!) that lead up to their death, and question the very will you had to effectively change the outcome; if at all possible. Unresolved grief and anger can swelter in a person’s spirit, wrecking them to see the clear path towards their future. I can see how transfixed Fiona is on the past, as she experienced an unsettling incident that left her torn away from the one person she leaned on the most: her mother! What anguish she must have endured! I speak of this, retrospectively, as I did not read “Haunting Blue” but am thankful that Sullivan provided glimpses of what occurred ‘previously’ through reflections and interactions in the present. Her relationship with her father is on the rocks as well, and I can see how that could happen due to the proposed separation the two had sustained in their relationship. Sullivan sets the scene nicely for those of us coming into this series second-hand!

I was pleasantly happy to see an exchange of poetry between Blue and Drew in the opening chapter, as I am a poet myself and oft wondered what it would be like to read poems by fellow poets in a reading session! I started young like Blue in this regard, as I was still in high school when the magic of verse and poetry nestled into my heart and etched out through my pen! I wonder if she started in her senior year, or younger, as I was a sophomore!? Perhaps that is revealed in the first book! I too, know what it is like to lose the momentum to create when the absence of words stills to a near deafening silence! Interesting thread of story shaping into the exchange between Blue and Drew! Lovely and real!

I had forgotten a bit how exciting the gaming life can become, as I was a gamer for most of my younger days, and am trying to sort out the games of ‘today’ to keep up with the changing trends! I used to love computer games like: Where in the World is Carmen Sandiago?, Loom, Battle Chess, Tetris, as well as a virtual reality environment game (The Journeyman Project) from the 1990’s! It was singularly one of my favourites to play, too! The rich futuristic environment of its setting is what captured me into its world! Then, there is of course the game that was pre-loaded on my iMac which I could not play enough of: Deimos Rising! I’ll bypass the Nintendo, Sega, and PlayStation platform games that interest me. Needless to say, my gaming life is as quirky as my reading life! I was also captured by a hybrid game of Dungeons and Dragons as a teen where I had the unfortunate mishap of ‘solving’ the game-play ahead of actually ‘playing the game’ and became Assistant Dragonmaster instead! All of this is on top of traditional gaming by way of board games and card games, by which I am a dedicated player! Solarquest, Five Crowns, or Hand & Foot anyone!? I suppose you could say, I understood the inertia of building excitement for Chip and Phil whilst they were unearthing their dream game “Fantasy Free-Form”!

As a side note, the “Terror Twins” of Cyn and Van smirked a resemblance of my remembrance of the Klingon Duras sisters! And, a lot of the undercurrent terror building on behalf of Marda’s coven bespoke of episodes I watched on “Charmed”, in which, the setting of the unfolding story was not difficult to understand! I did find it a keen observation, that they would infiltrate through the upstart game in order to conquer their destiny!


Virtual Blue by R.J. Sullivan
Artwork Credit: Bonnie Wasson
Review of Virtual Blue:

Unsurprising to me, Fiona dissolves into Blue at the first meet-up with her soon-to-be-ex Chip, as she has based her self-identity on their relationship and the woman she is whilst she is around him. She has far more to give and to explore on her own path, independent of his interaction in her life, but old habits are hard to shake, when the person your attempting to break up with was there for you at such a pivotal moment in your life. I think its his attachment to her sorrowful loss that tipped the scales of uncertainty against forging a life away from him in the first place. The strength it takes to stand alone, and seek out new individuals who are more aligned with who you are ‘now’ is oft times more daunting of a task than resuming the status quo! Then, again, what if the fragment of who you were could be re-discovered through the eyes of your beloved? In only a way that a true love can bring you back from the depths of despair from whence you disappeared!? Such is the heart-aching choice Blue must decide as she embarks on a trip back to Indiana to face her past and choose her future.

As the story shifts forward, the counter-balance of good vs. evil is revealed due to the back-story of how the followers of Baalina have taken steps to assist her freedom. You start to see how determined Blue must become to shelf her own desires and forge ahead towards redeeming the liberty of everyone else instead.

By the time Blue, Phil, and Chip start to investigate, I had swirling memories of why I missed the detective and mystery series of my younger days! Innocence of youth, gleeful joy in the hunt for uncovering the mystery, and the joy of succeeding in taking down a full-on challenging adversary! I liked the tug-of-war between the threesome, as they do not always get along due to the struggle with the balance of two boys and a girl in tow whose in love with one of them! I love the classic set-up, and the irresistible intrigue that follows suit!

There are elements of fantastical lore and myth etched into the undercurrents to pitch the truth of the Kelranian historic fight against Baalina and her chosen sisters. Sullivan reaches into Arthurian lore to draw out a new seedling of inspiration to stitch the story between the past, present, and future. In this vein, the story settles into a sub-plot I found most entertaining! Sullivan has woven spirituality, religion, and faith into the pacing of the story as much as he has researched how to endeavour the reader with plausible inclusions of lore! An internal and outer struggle known throughout the centuries is at the forefront of what happens when both sides take part in a feud they did not agree to join!

Honestly, I would have loved this story truly if my eyes didn’t have to skip over all the vulgar cursing that the characters were quite attached to spewing whenever their situations turned adverse! I didn’t find it a necessary arc for the story, nor a positive attribute for Blue and Chip! And, although I appreciated the depictions of the Hell that Blue was subjected to being placed inside in order to entrap Baalina, Cyn, Van, and Marda – I think I could have fared better to have that bit shortened and have the ending stand as it is. Especially since their evil hearts were clearly evident from previous chapters! Its the ending resolution of Blue’s future that I appreciated seeing the most, as I was rather angst ridden understanding the full scope of Rebecca Burton’s!

A Most Curious Tie-In:

I was quite enthused to read in Chapter Four how the author’s depiction on the Tour Badge and Author Photograph tie-in to the story! At first, I thought perhaps its his whimsical humour settling into the fray, but no! It actually has a direct connection to the story-line and with Virtual Blue! Rock on, Mr. Sullivan! That’s the equivalent of finding Hitchcock inserted into his own motion picture!

Inasmuch as the curiously able investigator Rebecca Burton being involved in this mystery, who has previously been seen in novellas and shorts! Sullivan has a way of connecting each of his stories in such a charmingly symmetrical synchronical way! Wicked! I wonder if he is going to release the Burton novellas and shorts as a stand-alone collection!?

A Notation on the Horror Aspects of the Plot:

Honestly!? It took me nearly half-way through to realise that I hadn’t surmised when the ‘horror’ of the story had even arrived! I think for the most part, my mind was happily seeing connections between series I had seen on the screen, and therefore, perhaps, my mind and heart overlooked a few things! I know there was a proper fight scene between Blue & Marda, as well as other interactions with blades, but personally I place those instances under ‘fight sequences or stand-offs’ rather than directly linked to horror!? I wonder if this book was misfiled!? Until I reached Chapter Sixteen which has an excellent representation of the differences between Heaven and Hell. Which continues to be explored the further inside the novel you venture towards.

Fly in the Ointment:

The only criticism I can give is the inclusion of vulgar expressions that irk my ire in regards to not having the heat of the moment more creatively expressed! This book did not start out falling under what I’d consider “excessive vulgarity” but it ended with my feelings that it pushed my barometer to the extreme! Mostly due to key words which were used to express or denounce certain climaxical emotions that I would consider better spent if they had been conveyed in a mannerism that befit the story in a creative way other than the method that Sullivan chose to give. This is not necessarily a criticism directed at him entirely, as I oft find myself in this quandary of a position, as my personal leanings are more towards the Shakespearean art of insultive and pernicious declarations! For this reason, I did not choose to include the book trailer for the first half of this series, “Haunting Blue”, as I was quite aghast that the words were left in, by which had to be ‘sound clipped’ out! Oy! Generally, I am always the first to fully support all materials to help a book, but this became a personal deference of choice on my behalf. I think the main reason this struck me rather severely, is after noting that Blue was a poet, I thought she might have articulated her emotions in a more eloquent way rather than in such a common way! And, I’m at a complete loss as to why all characters simply feel the need to express themselves in a manner that is not tactful or fitting to educated society! Sighs. Clearly, not every depiction of a novel in synopsis form gives way to rendering a precise foresight of what the novel will relay. Therefore, I am sure, I am in the minority who would consider this a ‘fly in the ointment’ to even mention! However, it is what it is. Except to say, that my overall enjoyment of the story itself was not darkened by this blight of words that ruffled my feathers and twitched my nose!

“Virtual Blue” Virtual Book Tour Roadmap:

  1. October 28: Contest @ Jess Resides Here
  2. October 28: Review @ Jorie Loves a Story
  3. October 28: Guest Post @ Come Selahway With Me
  4. October 29: Character Interview with Blue @ Sheila Deeth Blog
  5. October 30: Guest Post @ Armand Rosamilia
  6. October 30: Special Post – 20 Questions with R.J. Sullivan @ A Haunted Head
  7. October 30: Review @ Deal Sharing Aunt
  8. October 30: Promo Spotlight @ Word to Dreams
  9. Halloween: Author Interview @  John F. Allen Ivory Blaque
  10. Halloween: Character Post of Rebecca Burton @ Spellbindings
  11. Halloween: Character Interview of Rebecca Burton @ Library Girl Reads and Reviews
  12. All Saint’s Day: Review @ Bee’s Knees Reviews
  13. All Saint’s Day: Guest Post @ Beauty in Ruins
  14. November 2: Guest Post @ Azure Dwarf
  15. November 3: Review @ Angela Meadon

Be sure to scope out upcoming tours I will be hosting with:
Tomorrow Comes Media Tour Hoston my Bookish Events Featured on JLAS!

{SOURCES: Cover art and inside plate illustrations of “Virtual Blue” by Bonnie Wasson; R.J. Sullivan’s photograph and biography, and the blog tour badge were all provided by Tomorrow Comes Media and used with permission. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Blog tour badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2013.

Related Articles:

Guest Post: How Seventh Star Press Stacks Up in R.J. Sullivan’s Haunting Obsession – (bmdimension.blogspot.com)

Interview with R.J. Sullivan, Author of Haunting Obsession – (ireadabookonce.com)

My interview with R.J. Sullivan about Virtual Blue – (sillyhatbooks.com)

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all. "I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story) more >> | Hire me as a betareader | Policies & Review Requests
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Posted Monday, 28 October, 2013 by jorielov in Arthurian Legend, Board and Card Games, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Fantasy Fiction, Fly in the Ointment, Gaming, Ghost Story, Good vs. Evil, Horror, Indie Author, PC or Mac Games, Poetry, Role Playing Games, Science Fiction, Speculative Fiction, Supernatural Fiction, Tomorrow Comes Media, Urban Fantasy, Urban Life, Virtual Reality

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5 responses to “*Blog Book Tour*: Virtual Blue by R.J. Sullivan

  1. Sounds like a really interesting book! I think I’ll be adding the first in the series to my to read list :D

    I love how you prefaced the review with your gaming experiences and love of different shows and movies that then tied in with your reading experience. Very cool!

    Also, have you ever read any of the books in the Rasmussem Corporation trilogy? I’ve only read Heir Apparent so far (The second in the trilogy, because I didn’t realize it was a trilogy until I joined Goodreads…. Thankfully it doesn’t really make much difference what order you read them in though!) but I really enjoyed it because of my own experiences in the gaming world.

    • Hallo Christine,

      If you read “Haunting Blue” you’ll have to fill me in on the details of your experience! What really hit home for me, is that Sullivan has tied together *all!* of his stories through the characters of Rebecca & Blue! Its quite impressive, really! :) I was thankful to read your reaction to my review, because I thought by giving my own back-story with gaming world it would help paint the path I took towards settling into “Virtual Blue”!! I hadn’t realised just how much I could share on my own experiences prior to reading this book, as everything became more apparent as I read the story! I can attest though, that this is a great primer for the series!

      No, I haven’t heard of this trilogy (Rasmussem) previously, so I will have to look into it! My plate is quite full for the next few months, but when I can get around to seeking it out, I’ll let you know my impressions for sure!

      Isn’t that the truth!?
      You always uncover more information about books and authors, as you acquaint yourself with each book you pick up!?
      As much as with each new bookish resource you find that can help illuminate what your not yet realising to be connected!?

      • I definitely will! I probably won’t be able to get to it until December at the earliest since I’m planning on reading short stories throughout November (we’ll see how well that works out…)

        Oh absolutely, I totally get that. Just wanted to point it out to you in case you wanted any other video game-centric reads on your to read list ;)

        Yes, exactly! So many wonderful things that can connect to things without you realizing it, it’s amazing! I think that’s partially what makes me wary of series lately, because I want to have as many “connections” as possible, but at the same time I do love my series and getting to stay with the same characters for more than one book.

  2. Thanks for your thorough analysis and honest comments! Your points are well-received and I’m glad that the “language barrier” :) did not keep you from enjoying other aspects of the book, I’m humbled at the work you put into this post. Thanks again.

    • Your quite welcome, Mr. Sullivan!

      You knitted together a story full of heart and courage, which is why I tried to empathise that even though for me there was a language barrier, I did not feel it took away from the breadth of what you had written! Thank you for dropping by my blog, I was touched to see that my review spoke to you in such a humble way! I am thankful I had the chance to read “Virtual Blue”!

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