Blog Book Tour | “Gray Widow’s Walk” (No.1 of Gray Widow Trilogy) by Dan Jolley Jorie reads her 2nd #SuperheroFiction novel!

Posted Sunday, 26 June, 2016 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

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I was selected to be a stop on the “Gray Widow’s Walk” blog tour from Seventh Star Press. The tour is hosted by Tomorrow Comes Media who does the publicity and blog tours for Seventh Star Press and other Indie and/or Self Published authors.

I received a complimentary copy of “Gray Widow’s Walk” direct from the publisher Seventh Star Press in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Why I wanted to take a second foray into ‘Superhero Fiction’:

Aside from my obvious affection for the #AwesomeJones series by AshleyRose Sullivan (see Review) you could say I’ve had a hankering for a sequel and/or a completely new slice of Superhero Fiction to take a bite out of whilst I’m awaiting the forementioned series to return! In addition, on the small screen I’ve become so entranced by the new SuperGirl series I can only hope the transition to a new network doesn’t prove fatal for it’s longevity and the integrity of the series remains true to it’s core; as noted on my Twitter Profile I self-declared I’m SuperGirl’s BFF! You could say I have a classic appreciation for certain superheroes and the legacy approach to continuing their stories; as to me, SuperGirl honours the legacy of her universe whilst bringing it forward into the 21st Century.

I caught sight of Gray Widow’s Walk earlier in the year whereupon I chose to contact the author via Twitter – as part of me questioned if this was a complete step outside my zone of comfort and/or slightly this side of the line to where I could lay my hat inside the universe Jolley created!

It’s always a good rule of thumb to contact an author if your on the fence about one of their stories and/or their debut; this is something I’ve started to get into the habit of doing since I began a book blogger, as much as finding Twitter is the bridge of equality between readers and authors directly. I cannot express how many times I’ve randomly reached out to authors; either who have found me or of whom I have found myself (via their tweets, my local library, another book blogger’s blog, Shelf Awareness, author and/or publisher newsletters or [insert] the myriad collective route I take through bookish news as a possibility!) on Twitter for a spontaneous convo either straight into our respective feeds or through DM. Sometimes I like to opt for a convo privately if it’s a questionable genre choice of mine, where I feel I have more freedom to articulate my concerns, as the word count is blessedly absent!

This is why I was full of gratitude to Mr Jolley (as expressed in this tweet) for taking a moment out of his hectic Hollywood meet & greet tour (on a potential project in development) to chat with me for a short spell! His honest feedback and method of illuminating an analogy of character development through another series (Jessica Jones) provided me with stellar fodder to chew whilst I made my final thoughts in regards to being tempted to read this novel or whether to take a pass on it. I watched the trailer for Jessica Jones even though my computer is deaf due to a lightning surge last Summer, I was able to gather the vibe about her fierce confidence and independent nature!

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Here’s what truly stood out to me:

I wanted to ask you about Gray Widow — as I am a sensitive reader, are the darker elements in the story something a cosy girl could handle? I’m not into outright gore or anything and I’m not keen on a lot of strong language but do make exceptions if it’s not a norm but included here or there.

Jolley responds: Hmmm…the coarse language is not pervasive, so you should be okay there. A lot of the parts with the central antagonist, however, do get awfully intense–he’s the “horror” part of the book. It’s not overwhelming, though. Maybe if you read the parts with Simon knowing there’s something coming, you can prepare for it?

Gore intense or just psychologically intense? I can handle psychological intensity. Can you relate a film to the same level of emotional intensity, I might be able to know then if I could handle it. Good to know about the language!!

Jolley responds: I think, at its most chilling, it’s a bit like Se7en. I hope you do decide to give it a shot, though, because I’m very proud of Janey as a character, and I think she’ll resonate with a lot of people.

I never saw Se7en but I did see “The Bone Collector” with Angelina Jolie. I think those two are spoken about in the same line of breadth for chilliness so in this case, I think I’ll be alright! This is the upper tier of what I could handle, though. Thus, it will definitely push me a bit out of my comfort zones which is a good thing because I like doing that! I have the tendency to seek out literature that will challenge me – I am only cautious because I do get *freaked out of my skull* quite easily, but knowing this going in, I’ll know there will be bits of the story that will chill my bones!

I fell for the premise and I agree, Janey by appearances is writ strong and the type of girl you can stand behind as there is this layer of unknown she’s not even thinking of realising is at play in the overall scheme of things.

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I am sharing this snippet of our conversation as a precursor of my review, if on the odd chance your a reader similar to me whose cautiously curious about new genres & new ways to bend a story into a new dialogue of exploration but aren’t entirely sure you can handle the components of the story — this will give you a good idea about my process as a reader & how I try to ask pertinent questions to flesh out whether or not I can handle reading a novel that may or may not previously have crossed my mind to read but has curiously caught my eye to read now! In other words, I purposely remain open-minded in regards to Literature’s corridors. Even if I run into disappointments, I never regret being open to new ideas and new styles of crafting a story.

As an aside, when Mr Jolley broached if I had ever attended a ComicCon, I had the sudden realisation I had completely missed an opportunity! I have future plans to attend book conventions, literary festivals, Steampunk conventions and literary symposiums but a ComicCon? I clearly overlooked something quite obvious – as being able to attend my second Sci-Fi Convention has been a goal of mine since I met Jonathan Frakes and Peter David in 1997!

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Notation on Cover Art: One of my initial questions regarding this novel was about the cover art design; most specifically the shadowy & ominous background for which the Gray Widow is highlighted in the foreground; I elected not to reveal what Mr Jolley told me as he hadn’t spoilt it for me but clued me in a bit to what it wasn’t – as let’s just say I thought it parlayed closer to what a ‘widow’ might be in the world of ‘insects’ but it was actually a foreshadow to a larger part of the plot! From a ‘first look’ perspective I did not quite see it the same way; ergo, it was quite ingenious for those who are entering this story outside of reading Comic Books & Superhero Fiction as a mainstay of their literary wanderings! Keeps us guessing!

The tech of the suit for the Gray Widow is truly what caught my attention – that is one seriously creatively designed suit for a superhero, isn’t it? I could see how stealth & flexible the material was meant to jolt her through her actions but it’s just seriously a kickin’ wicked outfit! I also presumed she had some martial arts in her background given the weapons of choice in her hands!

Blog Book Tour | “Gray Widow’s Walk” (No.1 of Gray Widow Trilogy) by Dan Jolley Jorie reads her 2nd #SuperheroFiction novel!Gray Widow's Walk
by Dan Jolley
Illustrator/Cover Designer: John Nadeau
Source: Publisher via Tomorrow Comes Media

“The only thing in this world you can truly control is yourself.”

Janey Sinclair’s ability to teleport has always been a mystery to her. She tried for years to ignore it, but when tragedy shatters her life, Janey’s anger consumes her. She hones her fighting skills, steals a prototype suit of military body armor, and takes to the streets of Atlanta, venting her rage as the masked vigilante dubbed “the Gray Widow” by the press.

But Janey’s power, and her willingness to use it, plunges her into a conflict on a much grander scale than she had anticipated.

Soon she encounters Simon Grove, a bloodthirsty runaway with a shapeshifting ability gone horribly wrong…

Garrison Vessler, an ex-FBI agent and current private defense contractor, who holds some of the answers Janey’s been searching for…

And Tim Kapoor, the first person in years with a chance of breaking through Janey’s emotional shell—if she’ll let him.

But as Janey’s vigilantism gains worldwide attention, and her showdown with Simon Grove draws ever closer, the reason for her augmented abilities—hers and all the others like her—begins to reveal itself. Because, high above the Earth, other eyes are watching. And they have far-reaching plans…

Gray Widow’s Walk is Book One of the Gray Widow Trilogy, to be followed by Gray Widow’s Web and Gray Widow’s War.

Genres: Fantasy Fiction, Superhero Fiction, Suspense

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781941706398

Also by this author: Dan Jolley (Interview) Gray Widow Trilogy

Published by Seventh Star Press

on 13th May, 2016

Format: Paperback Edition

Pages: 344

Published By: Seventh Star Press (@7thStarPress)
Available Formats: Softcover, E-book

Converse via: #GrayWidowsWalk + #GrayWidowTrilogy & #7thStar

About Dan Jolley

Dan Jolley

Dan Jolley started writing professionally at age nineteen. Beginning in comic books, he has since branched out into original novels, licensed-property novels, children’s books, and video games.

His twenty-five-year career includes the YA sci-fi/espionage trilogy Alex Unlimited; the award-winning comic book mini-series Obergeist; the Eisner Award-nominated comic book mini-series JSA: The Liberty Files; and the Transformers video games War for Cybertron and Fall of Cybertron.

Dan was co-writer of the world-wide-bestselling zombie/parkour game Dying Light, and lead writer of the Oculus Rift game Chronos. Dan lives somewhere in the northwest Georgia foothills with his wife Tracy and a handful of largely inert cats. Gray Widow’s Walk is his first adult novel.

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My Review of Gray Widow’s Walk:

The very first sentence of this novel instantly made me think of Lara Croft! Especially if you consider I devoured all the Angelina Jolie film installments on behalf of her character; if Janey Sinclair even embodied half the fierce attitude of confidence intermixed with a head for solving the impossible on the fly; I sensed I was in for a wicked sweet ride of a novel!

Janey’s first impression on her landlord’s son isn’t quite the cuppa confidence he was expecting to find from a painter who could capture her subjects with such a definitive eye; yet Janey’s focal point wasn’t quite on a spontaneous meeting of a potential bloke she’d wish to date either! If anything, Tim Kapoor had rattled her nerves, making her nearly second-guess her ability to remain isolated and indifferent to human contact whilst realistically owning the fact she was smitten by Tim’s forwardness to genuinely express his appreciation of her work. It just goes to figure – right when you least expect it someone is going to take you unawares and make you re-think everything you felt you were already secure in resolving!

Jolley shifts our point-of-view so decisively full-circle away from Janey I felt slightly disappointed, as I was enjoying her entrance quite dearly! The backwash of crime and the underbelly of where corruption tango entered our viewpoints next; wherein we first met the shadier sorts who populate the world in which Janey lives. It’s the type of streets of a large metropolis you’d thank yourself not to be caught dead inside, as it’s rhythm is not bent on the law but rather finding ways to bend it’s reach. A necessary plot extension but sometimes I hunger for a longer opening sequence if the lead protagonist is as richly developed like Janey!

The scene was laying the groundwork for what the Gray Widow’s intentions were in her city of residence, but I thoroughly appreciated the extension of her back-story shortly thereafter, where we get to see how isolation (from light and humanity) truly helped to pave the path she was walking. She was making choices she felt were in-step with what appeared to me a promise she gave to someone no longer living; an ardently fierce promise to where she would do everything she could to protect the honour in which she gave it. True to most origins of superheroes, Janey is complex, highly secretive and harbouring more under her conscience than she wants to reveal. She practices her skill set after a mission of her choosing but her mind replays every minute of her role as the Gray Widow; self-criticising and analysing her results.

As foreshadowing goes, Jolley walks that fine thin line between Horror and Suspense; the emergence of Simon into the narrative is both chilling and more than slightly creepy; but I remember the author’s warning about his arrival. All the better, as I had a feeling I might be skipping over some of his future ‘appearances’ opting instead to focus on Janey; as I think even for me, Simon isn’t the sort of character I’d like to entertain for long; if at all. For a villain, he surely takes the cake! Sadly, it’s almost as if his being is transitioning into a new entity, one where reality and the darker folds of a criminal mind overtake all hope of living a life outside of crime.

There is a second shift of perspective shortly after this last passage – where I truly was jolted for a loop? I was trying to put rhyme to reason why a remote sensing character with a difficult backstory was being inserted into this portion of the story; honestly, I’m not sure why his story had to be so wreckingly brutal in regards to his origins; but I know from a small foreknowledge this is typical of the main genre. I cannot honestly say I felt invested in Scott’s story-line, as part of me was wondering why a secret organisation was entering into the scope of the story; unless of course, the larger picture involved conspiracies, interventions and privately funded research that dealt outside the lines of society. On that level, perhaps it was warranted but as far as forward-flow of the established story? Not so much. I was too dialled in on Janey’s story – I wanted to know more about what drove her to be the Gray Widow and why her embodiment of the superhero was such a dire necessity at this point in her life. Even if it were revealled Scott’s presence was directly connected to Simon’s; therein was the rub, as I wouldn’t warm to that thread of narrative at all. Some villains are just too much for me! (fade in Cruella De Vil)

Most of the jostling and dialogue is more apt to the world in which Agent Carter resides; where women are still objectified more than they are applauded for their intelligence. It’s a suspense set in a contemporary sphere but with a throwback nod towards gender divides, where hard-boiled crime dramas thrived best with the seedier bits of society raw and unflinching in their dedication to living a life outside remorse. Except to say, Janey Sinclair is every bit as hardcore strong as Agent Carter with a fierceness about her that is both edgy and approachable; she’s vulnerable on the inside and fused with a super-human willpower to carry out her plans. Janey brings the humanity and the humanistic focus on good vs evil to the story; she’s the mainstay of goodness in a darkly lit world. Even if some of her choices are questionable towards her end game; she is attempting to fix the impossible.

Oy vie. Yes, I was quite right about the villain of this story being slightly more than I could stomach reading about – as he’s definitely ‘out there’ on the count of vile evilness. The only redeemable quirk he has within him is the remorse of being ‘himself’ as he struggles against the natural state of his personality. Not that that changed my opinion of him but it proves that there was something more than a traditional serial killer lurking in the background of this suspense. The last bit I read about him was in Chapter Five, after which I found myself moving rapidly forward to unearth more about Janey; if only to find what was motivating her before I opted to end my reading of this story. End solely because it’s core is far chiller than The Bone Collector if that could even be possible! Aye. Wells, technically the vulgarity, too.

Unfortunately, there were more twists awaiting me – more layers of sinister plotting, (I felt there was plenty already!) to such a degree, I felt lost in a sea of new characters whose revolving door of entrance was overwhelming, new twisting avenues of narrative and a ravelling nightmare of missteps that never took me back to where I felt most connected. I exited before my head started to spin just out of trying to sort out – why did Janey Sinclair want to be the Gray Widow? And, what does that future have to do with her connection to The Astounding Alexander!? Sighs. Questions I fear will remain unanswered and a character I had to depart from reading about because the shift of focus was simply not my cuppa in the end.

Fly in the Ointment:

Although the usage of vulgarity does hold salt to the pre-reading advice Jolley gave me (at least in part), there were a few word choices I cringed to read being included as one, this isn’t a historical novel and two, we’ve moved past certain words that do not need to be included in literature. At least, this is my personal view on it – if your curious, it’s a word describing a character of ethnicity I wish modern writers would omit for the sake of moving forward as a society but also, to find better ways to describe prejudice on behalf of unsavory characters whose verbiage is limited by their ignorance.

The word Jolley used to describe the climatic shift in volcanic heat in the South is bang-on point to how it can feel when your skin is roasting off your body in the height of Summer; so in theory I didn’t take offense to that choice; if anything, I smirked to myself and half chuckled at the potent honesty!

I still would prefer a major reduction in vulgarity overall, but what held my eye to the pages was the suspense around what ignited the fever of fire inside Janey Sinclair. To me, her story out-shined the bits which wrinkled my nose the wrong way. I would say this story has a heap more vulgarity than what was eluded to being included originally; mostly reduced to the fight scenes and the action sequences, but as a whole I wish I had a black marker! Not something I normally find myself in want of when reading!

The other issue I had is that each new sequence of when the Gray Widow was introduced started to feel a smidge contrite and predictable; she was rescuing people from death and/or horrific domestic violence but I felt it was a bit too placed – as if the pacing were a bit off on her exits and entrances? You could nearly break-down the novel between the three lead characters (Janey, Simon & Scott) and the supporting cast (i.e. the police) with the insertions of the rescued victims. I missed seeing a longer bridge of absence between her Gray Widow sequences and the further telling of her story; to knit us closer to Janey rather than to focus on all the action outside of what was driving her character.

The Superhero narrative styling of Dan Jolley:

Quite literally one of the best descriptive narratives for a building was found on page 7, where Jolley flexes his literary style to include such an enriched detail of setting, time and place within a short paragraph that clues you not only into the types of people who would assert themselves at this venue but how the place itself eludes to the nefarious dealings of those people! Jolley even managed to roll the dice a bit on adding elements of Horror by how it’s disfigured appearance (as it was half demolished) would appeal to those of whom would rather not be noticed. A clever example of ‘urban decay’ and a ‘second use’ for a once respected place of business.

Jolley captures your attention with Janey Sinclair, as he may or may not realise he crafted an emotional character who had a passionate self-motivating mission to right the wrongs of society; however, some of the avenues of where the narrative passed in and out of this lead prospective had me a bit confounded, in the same manner I oft-times felt muddled down by the sub-plots on The X-Files. The core of the story was telling enough for my interest; but sometimes, when you throw in wenches to the established wheel, I find my mind drifting and thus, I had hoped Jolley might have tightened the focus a small bit to establish the fuller story surrounding Janey prior to exploring tentacles of an evolving plot; wherein it might be warranted further in the trilogy.

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This blog tour was courtesy of:

Seventh Star Press


Gray Widow's Walk blog tour via Tomorrow Comes Media

as I am a proud tour hostess for:

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I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!

Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst bloggers who gravitate towards the same stories to read.

Bookish conversations are always welcome!

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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)

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Posted Sunday, 26 June, 2016 by jorielov in Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Bookish Discussions, Content Note, Crime Fiction, Debut Novel, Fantasy Fiction, Genre-bender, Horror, Indie Author, Life Shift, Science Fiction, Seventh Star Press, Speculative Fiction, Superhero Adventure, Superhero Fiction, Suspense, Tomorrow Comes Media, True Crime, Twitter convo with Author ahead of reading story, Urban Fantasy, Vulgarity in Literature

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