#Blogmas | A Fantasy Christmas celebration feat. authors of fantastical realms | The Firebrand Chronicles by J.M. Hackman

Posted Thursday, 6 December, 2018 by jorielov , , , 4 Comments

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Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!

I appear to be on quite the roll this December for sourcing #newtomeauthors in the Christian Fantasy realms as well as finding a touring company for these tiles inasmuch as new publishers! It is lovely as I love seeking out stories which are gently told but have the scope and depth of what I am regularly seeking in #SpecLit! As the New Year starts to arrive, I want to have a better balance in my reading life – not just between the Historicals & Contemporaries I’m reading but also, to re-establish the Speculative Fiction side of my readerly life alongside my INSPY reads – as those two seem to get sidelined as quickly as my Classical Lit selections as I get charmed by so many dearly lovely stories every year! If I can sort out a way to re-balance what I am reading and thereby, read more across the realms I’m keen on *devouring!* I think 2019 shall be a rather splendid year to walk into my 6th Year as a book blogger!!

As you might have read previously on one of my showcases, I am being a bit particular about which of the authors & their stories I am featuring on #JLASblog during #FantasyForChristmas as I wanted to hand-pick the stories I most wanted to be reading rather than showcasing all the stories and perhaps, having a few of them simply not my cuppa of interest! I have had this intention of policy of what I showcase since I started blogging – I might not get to all the stories *immediately!* when I desire to read them but I do earnestly intend to seek them out as soon as I can thereafter! (hence why #BeatTheBackList is seriously going to be one of my favourite readathons this New Year’s!)

The novel I am highlighting today is a YA Fantasy series – happily able to give you a preview with an extract from the novel itself as well as continuing to provide the links for the publisher & author in case you want to do some research into both at your leisure. I am always intrigued by the cover art choices on #SpecLit stories – this one eludes to a hidden portal / dimension and who doesn’t love her swash of red in her dark hair?

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Spark by J.M. Hackman

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Published by: Love2ReadLove2Write Publishing, LLC (@L2L2Publishing)

Converse via: #FantasyForChristmas, #FantasyNerd and #FirebrandChronicles

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The Firebrand Chronicles:

Spark (book one) | add to LibraryThing

Published: 16th May, 2017 | ISBN: 978-1943788149

→ FLARE the sequel is forthcoming early 2019!

Brenna James wants three things for her sixteenth birthday: to find her history notes before the test, to have her mother return from her business trip, and to stop creating fire with her bare hands.

Yeah, that’s so not happening. Unfortunately.

When Brenna learns her mother is missing in an alternate reality called Linneah, she travels through a portal to find her. But Brenna’s arrival in Linneah begins the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy, including a royal murder and the theft of Linneah’s most powerful relic: the Sacred Veil.

Unwilling yet left with no other choice, Brenna and her new friend Baldwin pursue the thief into the dangerous woods of Silvastamen and beyond. Exactly what Brenna wanted to do for her sixteenth birthday. When they spy an army marching toward Linneah, Brenna is horrified. Can she find the veil, save her mother, and warn Linneah in time?

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Posted Thursday, 6 December, 2018 by jorielov in #blogmas, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Spotlight & Announcement, Fantasy Fiction, Indie Author, Prism Book Tours, Steampunk

Audiobook Blog Tour | feat. a new installment of Sherlock Holmes “Murder in Keswick” writ by William Todd, narrated by Ben Werling – the duo I previously enjoyed listening to earlier in [2018]! feat. during #cloakanddaggerchristmas

Posted Wednesday, 5 December, 2018 by jorielov , , , , , 2 Comments

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Acquired Audiobook By: I started to listen to audiobooks in [2016] as a way to offset my readings of print books whilst noting there was a rumour about how audiobooks could help curb chronic migraines as you are switching up how your reading rather than allowing only one format to be your bookish choice. As I found colouring and knitting agreeable companions to listening to audiobooks, I have embarked on a new chapter of my reading life where I spend time outside of print editions of the stories I love reading and exchange them for audio versions. Through hosting for the Audiobookworm I’ve expanded my knowledge of authors who are producing audio versions of their stories whilst finding podcasters who are sharing their bookish lives through pods (ie. AudioShelf and Talking Audiobooks; see my sidebar). Meanwhile, I am also curating my own wanderings in audio via my local library who uses Overdrive for their digital audiobook catalogue whilst making purchase requests for audio CDs. It is a wonderful new journey and one I enjoy sharing – I am hoping to expand the percentage of how many audios I listen to per year starting in 2018.

I received a complimentary audiobook copy of “Murder in Keswick” via Audiobookworm Promotion who is working with William Todd on this blog tour in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I wanted to listen to ‘Murder at Keswick’:

As soon as you hear Mr Werling’s voice inside your headphones as your listening to A Reflection of Evil – you can denote how authentically Holmes is being portrayed in this story! There is a particular appeal for me to find another writer who can give us more of the cases Holmes might have investigated as I do love how Holmes worked out the methodologies of the cases he took on as he truly had a brilliant mind; all of us can agree about that. Yet, there is a particular voice to Holmes and I was quite wicked happy finding it coming through so very loud and clear!

We are given a short introduction of the current state of affairs by Dr Watson, who of course, is setting the stage for how this mystery shall unfold. Apparently they had recently been passing through a rather somber period of where no new mysteries were needing to be solved and in essence, the two of them were occupying their hours in wait for one to arrive post haste. It is 1896, the cusp of a new century is about to burst on the horizon – where Watson was seeking something out of the paper to draw Holmes out of his reverie. In true Holmes nature, it didn’t surprise me the reasons he gave Watson for downplaying the urgency of finding ‘lost dogs’ as you can tell how this would be beneath the great detective as it wouldn’t exercise his need to sleuth out the clues to the caliber he was used to experiencing.

In true Holmes fashion, he likes to entertain himself by solving something he finds imperative to understand – here we find him messing about with locking mechanisms which of course proved to be quite interesting as he was about to have an unexpected visitor. For some reason, this brought to mind many a scene from Elementary where Watson would find herself encircled by a project Holmes had strewn throughout the house in order to gain a better perspective about whatever it was which made sense only to his eyes of thought. Even finding Mrs Hudson had a strong voice and the personality of having long weathered Holmes demands felt fitting – as she had to put up with so much when it came to Holmes hearing him dictate the things he wanted at the market was not a shocked surprise!

-quoted from my review of A Reflection of Evil

As soon as I started listening to this audiobook series, I *knew!* I had found another after canon for Holmes I could stand behind and cheer the author on as he continues to develop these stories! There is something innately authentic about them – you’ll notice it as soon as you hear and/or read them and I, for one, am thankful I had the chance to listen to another one so soon after the first! As I started off the year on such a strong footing of #newtomeauthors and it is lovely I get to end the year on a similar note!

If you are unfamiliar with Mr Todd’s spin on Holmes, you might enjoy knowing I had this to stay about his adaptive styling of a Sherlockian story:

I truly loved the language and articulation of the characters’ thoughts as spirited through how Mr Todd etched out a familiar dialogue of a traditional Holmes story-line. You can find this tale could be easily inserted into the canon, to offer a clue to some of the missing cases Holmes could have tackled during those moments we were unfamiliar with his wanderings. Even the way in which he had Holmes and Watson conferring with each other was quite lovely as they were acting in the manners in which we’ve grown accustomed to them being found.

It was just the focus on Holmes himself which endeared me to this story, but rather how equal I found Watson being focused upon as well. Watson sometimes can become overshadowed by Holmes, but in this novella, it felt as if Watson had his equal due of the spotlight which was wonderful as you get to see how he thinks out what he’s observing whilst you get a small insight how he is as a doctor when a crisis an arise. I truly enjoyed getting to know Watson a bit better in this vein of light and of seeing how the duality of the narrative shifting between both his and Holmes’ perspectives were aptly handled by Mr Todd.

Everything about this novella felt true to the spirit of Holmes, which is what I was hoping to find inside it. I enjoyed watching how Mr Todd pulled everything together – from how he moved from changing the points of view between the characters we all know and love and the new ones who were giving Holmes quite a good chase! I am looking forward to seeing more by Mr Todd where he embraces his Holmes inclinations and gives us all a lovely collection of stories we can read alongside the original canon with a heap of joy.

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Audiobook Blog Tour | feat. a new installment of Sherlock Holmes “Murder in Keswick” writ by William Todd, narrated by Ben Werling – the duo I previously enjoyed listening to earlier in [2018]! feat. during #cloakanddaggerchristmasMurder in Keswick
by William Todd
Source: Audiobook via Audiobookworm Promotions
Narrator: Ben Werling

While on a well-deserved holiday in the Lake District to get away from the toils and troubles of London, Holmes and Watson find no respite. As soon as they exit the train, they hear news of a grisly murder making its way around the murmuring commuters. A local aristocrat, Mr. Darcy, has been found missing his head!

And that very night, the wealthy widow finds a stranger in her home who, upon seeing her, abandons his plans and quickly leaves. She believes the intruder to be the murderer of her husband who is now after a large sum of cash she keeps in the house safe.

Unsure if the would-be thief is the murderer or an opportunistic burglar, Holmes devises a plan to catch the burglar, all the while investigating the murder of Mr. Darcy. Follow Holmes, Watson, and the local constable Mr. Wickham as they untangle the mystery surrounding a Murder in Keswick.

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ASIN: B07J9Q7GXN

Also by this author: Guest Post about A Reflection in Evil, Sherlock Holmes in a Reflection in Evil

Also in this series: Sherlock Holmes in a Reflection in Evil


Genres: After Canons, Classic Detective, Classical Literature, Crime Fiction, Literary Fiction, Re-telling &/or Sequel, Short Story or Novella


Published by Self Published Author

on 16th October, 2018

Format: Audiobook | Digital

Length: 2 hours and 38 minutes (unabridged)

Self Published Audiobook

William Todd’s Sherlock Holmes stories:

Sherlock Holmes in A Reflection of Evil

Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of the Broken Window

Sherlock Holmes and the Murder at Keswick

Formats Available: Paperback, Ebook and Audiobook

About William Todd

William Todd

I have been writing online since the early 2000’s, primarily writing horror stories in the style of Poe and Lovecraft. I was the 2nd most popular author on the website storiesbyemail.com for two years before moving on.

I had my first book, a Victorian era horror compilation called Bumps in the Night, published by Mystic Moon Press just a week before they closed their website and never saw my hard work pay off. Afterwards I took publishing into my own hands, became an Indie author and haven’t looked back. My first self-published book was Dead of Night, another compilation of Victorian horror stories, published September 2016 by Createspace and on Kindle by KDP.

After its publication I left my comfort zone for mystery and wrote a short story about Sherlock Holmes in the Conan Doyle style. I loved it so much I then did a longer story A Reflection of Evil, both published in 2017 through Createspace and KDP. I have just released Beyond the Gossamer Veil, another compilation of both Victorian and modern supernatural/horror stories and am in the beginning stages of my third Sherlock Holmes installment.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Wednesday, 5 December, 2018 by jorielov in 19th Century, Audiobookworm Promotions, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Historical Fiction, Indie Author, Literary Fiction

Cover Reveal w/ Notes | “After the Rain” by Brandy Bruce the sequel to “The Last Summer” which I loved reading this past July!

Posted Tuesday, 4 December, 2018 by jorielov , , , 2 Comments

Stories Sailing into View Banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!

felt like an early #blogmas to me when I first learnt this novel I loved reading during the Summer has a sequel coming out soon! Remember when I read “The Last Summer”?

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Quote from The Last Summer by Brandy Bruce provided by Singing Librarian Book Tours

These are the very first words we read within the pages of The Last Summer, which set the tone for the novel and for what your expecting to find inside the story. You immediately feel comfortable around Addison, Sam, Luke, Lily, Jason, Debra and Sara. I credit this directly to how Ms Bruce fused her heart into the story-line, as the opening bridge has such a strong visceral anchouring to it, it’s hard not to feel as if you’ve become part of this close-knit circle of friends yourself!

They have the kind of familial relationship you might have hoped to have sought out yourself, though in reality forging friendships like these is not as simple as it would seem. Anyone whose attempted to make a fresh start in a new community knows how hard it is to ‘break-in’ if there is a niche already established between friends’ who have known each other for years. In many ways, I was both thankful to see Sara embraced and slightly questioning how plausible it really would be for that to happen as by my own experiences, it is beyond rare. For the sake of the story, I decided to suspend reality and embrace the moment, as what Sara had stumbled into is something everyone hopes to find for themselves and for that reason alone, I was hooked into reading her story!

The realistic manner of feeling enveloped by the emotional anguish is fittingly honest – these kinds of relationships are murky on the outset, as there are no clear definitions on either side – especially if someone along the way chooses to realise their feelings have changed from idle friendship to romance – how is it best handled to explain that to the other person? The quagmire of course is sorting this out whilst realising the person of your affection has started to move on without you – choosing someone who isn’t you and where does that leave you in the end?

In the background of the story, as this hinges quite heavily on the lives of seven friends, is an interesting mother-daughter relationship. One which surprised me at first, as being that Sara is an only child, I thought I could relate to her a bit more than I did. For starters, I was a bit surprised by how she viewed her relationship with her parents but moreso, how she viewed her connection to her mother. In the end, the only thing I shared in common with Sara is the fact we’re onlys as nothing else related to my life except for that one fact. For Sara, she had issues realising how much alike she was to her mother (which reminded me of the relationship with my Aunt and my grandmother; two peas in a pod and yet they were at odds with each other all the time!) to the brink they both harboured certain secrets in their lives. For Sara, the hardest part for her to reconcile is the fact her mother didn’t like to share the bits of herself which would leave her vulnerable – she’d rather create this exterior barrier against the world which showed her greatest strengths rather than focused on her weaknesses. Sara would have benefited from those lessons – of how to rise out of the ashes of where life hurts us the most but for Sara’s mother, those were the moments she couldn’t easily find a way to re-share without re-opening the wounds which were now healed.

There is a wonderful ease of narrative within the Contemporary styling of Brandy Bruce – you can tell she’s spent a considerable amount of time discovering her characters – not just how they reflect on their lives but how they interact as a family unit. They come alive on paper as true as if they were standing next to you – each with their own quirks and faults, ready to be seen as they are and accepted as we find them. One of the things I love about her signature style is how she tucks us so comfortably into the lives of her characters – she lets us feel as if we’ve spent a few hours getting to know them either through a journal of their lives up to this point or had a conversation with someone who knows the seven as well as Ms Bruce. The conversational style is also keen, as it grants you easy access to better understand where each character is emotionally and on which crossroads of change each character is on the brink of either embracing or choosing to walk down.

Ms Bruce openly shows what it is like to have your emotions pulled straight out of you at a time in your life where you felt you had more worked out than how it appeared on the surface. She also pulls together the faith lives of her characters by organically showing how their faith is directly fused to how they live with a prayerful awareness during their living hours – either through reflective pause, active prayer or a mindfulness of the lessons they grew up knowing as believers which still to this moment in their lives plays a special part in keeping them grounded.

I truly appreciate how Ms Bruce has curated a style for writing realistic Contemporary INSPY which is emotionally centred on uncovering the secrets we try to keep from ourselves, the humbled realities of living through prayer and the emotional upheaval of owning your own truth whilst walking with the realisation not every heart can fully embrace a love which is not reciprocated. There is a lot of real life stitched into this novel – from the highs and lows of feeling loved to the wandering path of friendship and the heartstone connections of family.

-quoted from my review of The Last Summer

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Posted Tuesday, 4 December, 2018 by jorielov in 21st Century, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Cover Reveal, Book Spotlight & Announcement, Contemporary Romance, Indie Author, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, INSPY Realistic Fiction | Non-Fiction, Modern Day, Realistic Fiction, Romance Fiction, Singing Librarian Book Tours, Women's Fiction

#Blogmas | A Fantasy Christmas celebration feat. authors of fantastical realms | Curio, a Steampunk Fantasy series by Evangeline Denmark

Posted Tuesday, 4 December, 2018 by jorielov , , , , 2 Comments

Stories in the Spotlight banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!

It is not everyday I find myself drawn into a new world of Steampunk – it is a genre of interest on many different levels for me – from fashion, to soundscapes to motion pictures to the curious gadgets and/or found object art collages artists are assembling to create Steampunk elements which can be used in our own technologic timescape (such as the modifications to keyboards and computers) – however, the literature side of this new niche of exploration which hinges itself between Science Fiction & Fantasy – depending on where an individual author is going to insert their story-line into the fray of what is already released – you have a potboiler of a chance of finding cross-genre influences & a multiverse of aptitude for showcasing a Steampunked world!

Remember reading The Indian in the Cupboard – where small figurines of childhood came to life? I still remember being so lost inside that world, as to firmly believe every character could potentially be ‘met’ as the illusion and the line crossing between the fantastic to the real was so well introduced, it gave the beauty of the story beneficial dimension! I love stories which seek to do the same – to introduce a line of thought where there is a lovely suspension of belief, to where you can embark into a Fantasy lit world as a new explorer of that world but also of the prospect of what you can find whilst your visiting it. There are new perimeters of what can be done and there lies the best joy for myself as a reader. The happenstance discoveries!

This week, I’ve been happily sharing the first #blogmas posts of December – focusing on #newtomeauthors of Fantasy – already sorting out one to ILL (inter-library loan borrow from my local library), one to request as purchase (at the library) and then, there is this one – which has a curious premise – whose more curious about whom? The curios or the human? And, how do they start to interact and respond to each other?

Share in the comments below what you love most about reading Fantasy – especially in YA stories like this one, which seek to thread imaginative plausibility into the heart of the narrative!

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Mark of Blood and Alchemy by Evangeline DenmarkCurio by Evangeline Denmark

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Published by: Blink YA | Blink Young Adult (@BlinkYABooks)

an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers

Read about their publishing focus on Clean YA! (I was most impressed!)

Converse via: #FantasyForChristmas, #FantasyNerd and #Steampunk

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The Curio series:

Curio (book one) | add to LibraryThing

Published: 10th January, 2017 | ISBN: 978-0310729518

Grey Haward has always detested the Chemists, the magicians-come-scientists who rule her small western town. But she has always followed the rules, taking the potion the Chemists ration out that helps the town’s people survive. A potion that Grey suspects she—like her grandfather and father—may not actually need.

By working at her grandfather’s repair shop, sorting the small gears and dusting the curio cabinet inside, Grey has tried to stay unnoticed—or as unnoticed as a tall, strong girl can in a town of diminutive, underdeveloped citizens. Then her best friend, Whit, is caught by the Chemists’ enforcers after trying to protect Grey one night, and after seeing the extent of his punishment, suddenly taking risks seems the only decision she can make.

But with the risk comes the reality that the Chemists know her family’s secret, and the Chemists soon decide to use her for their own purposes. Panicked, Grey retreats to the only safe place she knows—her grandfather’s shop. There, however, a larger secret confronts her when her touch unlocks the old curio cabinet in the corner and reveals a world where porcelain and clockwork people are real. There, she could find the key that may save Whit’s life and also end the Chemists’ dark rule forever.

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Mark of Blood & Alchemy (prequel)

29th September, 2015 | AISN: B013YZM6PE *sadly this is only a digital release

In this novella prequel to Evangeline Denmark’s YA fantasy novel Curio, Olan Havardsson flees a devastating plague that took his family only to be saved by a mysterious group of “magickers” with healing powers. But as he accompanies his rescuers to their alpine enclave, mysteries arise surrounding their potions and powers of alchemy. Questions mount when Olan observes a deep division forming between those who seek to defend the purity of the healing alchemical work and those who would wield it as a powerful weapon.

Olan is thrust into the midst of this dissention after he discovers he is somehow special–chosen as a guardian like the enclave’s founder. As he spends time with two of his rescuers–Auriana, a clever and captivating inventor, and Alaric, a brooding young man wrestling with his father’s cruel beliefs–Olan realizes he may have the power to direct the course of blood and alchemy.

Introducing readers to the fantastical world of Curio, this novella is wrapped in adventure, romance, and intrigue.

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Posted Tuesday, 4 December, 2018 by jorielov in #blogmas, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Spotlight & Announcement, Fantasy Fiction, Indie Author, Prism Book Tours, Steampunk