Author: R.J. Sullivan

#TwelfthNightReadathon | “Gifts of the Magi: A Speculative Holiday Collection” an anthology with a charitable heart benefiting Indy Reads Books!

Posted Saturday, 14 January, 2017 by jorielov , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

Twelfth Night Readathon badge created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: Ahead of Christmas 2015, I received a beautifully lovely gift: a specially released anthology celebrating Speculative Fiction authors and the gift of charity. Indy Reads Books is an independent bookstore in Indianapolis, Indiana giving back to authors, readers and members of their community on a yearly basis whereas the other half of “Indy Reads” is a non-profit literacy organisation. This is a bookstore I have come to know through the authors who are behind this anthology: Mr (RJ) Sullivan, Mr (John F.) Allen and Ms Chris (E. Chris Garrison) of whom I have had the joy of interacting with both on blog tours or outside of them for Tomorrow Comes Media and/or Seventh Star Press.

This particular book was offered to me knowing how much I love holiday stories and the beauty of having such a strong presence of Speculative stories contained in one singular anthology with the heart of the holidays a central theme running through them! I personally love reading anthologies within the Science Fiction, Fantasy and Cosy Horror genres, which in of itself felt like a good fit to read this collection. I was unexpectedly taken ill during December 2015 (my infamous thirty day flu!) and this past December, whilst I had re-scheduled this to be a part of my #ChristmasReads and #WYChristmasReadathon series of posts, I was otherwise distracted by the recovery process after my Dad’s stroke. You can read about the first twenty-four hours after his stroke (per this post) and a bit of a background on my inability to read during December (per this anchour section of a recent review). Thus, my idea of recapturing the Christmas Spirit during Twelfth Night weekend was bourne!

I received a complimentary copy of “Gifts of the Magi” direct from the author R.J. Sullivan in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

#TwelfthNightReadathon & what sparked the idea:

I personally love reading holiday stories around Christmastime, however, this year, proved to be quite a unique year all the way round; starting Thanksgiving weekend. I dearly wanted to dig inside these lovely stories which are winking at me to read but with a heavy heart and a mind weighed down by anxieties attached to stroke patient’s recoveries, you could say the timing was definitively ‘off’ this year for posting anything remotely lit with the Christmas Spirit in December. I had to fight my way back into reading just to secure a passageway back into the hours I love spending inside stories and the journey of characters; as let’s face it, I had a lot on my heart and soul this year.

The blessing is being able to find my bookish joy emerged through a succession of Rom Novellas through a blog series I entitled: #MidnightChocLit (see the thread). This enabled me not only to retrieve my bookish heart but my bookish joy – the curiosity about stories and the lives of characters started to renew inside my imagination and it started me off again on solid ground. Spending this past week tucked inside an INSPY #HistRom also provided me with the hours I needed to heal my nerves and resume enjoying the hours I could spend inside a fictional world (see also Review).

Despite my progress back to my blog and back into an active reading life, there were ebbs of guilt murmuring inside my heart because more than anything I had wanted this to be a December where I could fully embrace reading stories of the season. This is when a lightbulb flashed in my mind – wait! The Christmas season isn’t fully extinguished until Twelfth Night and Twelfth Night is a celebration of the three kings! I knew I should start by reading and live tweeting my responses to Gifts of the Magi on this particular Friday, as it marks Twelfth Night officially! Ergo, all the lovely stories of Christmas Spirit across genre and literary selections could now be happily read during my own personal #TwelfthNightReadathon!

Except to say, Mother Nature had other plans in store for me – we had an epic storm arriving in the afternoon hours of Twelfth Night itself and it continued into Saturday; therefore, my tweets were quite a bit delayed – thus kicking off this readathon as a ‘weekend’ celebration; perhaps it was meant to be all along, as this is what I had put on the badge I created to celebrate the series of reviews! My readings of this anthology truly were encased during #TwelfthNight weekend, however, my reviews I wanted to feature over the weekend are running this week instead. The best part for me – is to be able to recapture stories of a season I cherish so dearly during a year where my heart was full of anxiety and now just a stone’s throw in the New Year, I can reattach the joys of soaking into stories of Yule & Christmastide!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

This of course, would have remained true if my dear Maine Coon / tabby hadn’t been struck quite ill whilst I was trying to kick-off this readathon. Turns out, as a senior cat of nearly 13 years he’s developed horrid food allergies and was quite miserable; his sister-in-arms is one year his junior (my little Tux!) of whom now has ‘food intolerance’s’. Despite being earnestly hopeful to find something that would work for them (as in their kittenhood and early years of growth, they had (as did their two siblings) multiple health issues which is why Mum and I were consistently ‘on the road’ to new places to purchase high quality pet foods whilst the Vets and my fam were growing more discouraged by the hour when even the best quality you can find isn’t working for your four cats. Hence why we were advised to go with what worked for our darlings and not worry about what is working for everyone else. This worked out quite well – until now.

Turns out!? The *best!* cat food our cats need was developed by Rachael Ray! Her Nutrish line for cats (esp the Chicken and Potato dry food!) is what turnt this crazy insanity around in *one!* feeding! ONE! Our Coon / Tabby who was *always!* Alpha is now a Beta cat whose so relaxed and happy, his Tux of a sister is still trying to get used to him being less playful around her and just go with the flow. All his issues are gone as are hers, to such a degree it’s a true miracle. They used to eat only wet food, but this dry food has done so many marvels for their health (i.e. vision, fur, digestion, etc) I cannot see them returning to wet food! Their so happy right now, it’s a beautiful thing to see – ergo, I am continuing this readathon in the spirit of Twelfth Night – as a closing of the holiday season and the stories of Yule.

This is why you’ll see my tweets stopped for a short break – as everything prior to Unraveled was written by the 9th before I was able to resume and conclude my ruminations.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com#TwelfthNightReadathon | “Gifts of the Magi: A Speculative Holiday Collection” an anthology with a charitable heart benefiting Indy Reads Books!Gifts of the Magi
Subtitle: A Speculative Holiday Collection
by A.D Roland, Chantal Noordeloos, Debra Holland, Herika R. Raymer, John F. Allen, Katina French, Ms Chris (E. Chris Garrison), R.J. Sullivan
Source: Direct from Author

Stories for Christmas-- authors for the New Year!

Find within this magical tome 14 NEW original holiday-themed stories of fantasy, horror and science fiction by a talented group of authors--plus one holiday essay. The tales from our Magi vary from the light and satirical to the dark and serious, and we've shuffled the deck to keep you guessing.

· A time guardian may have to choose between preserving reality or destroying the man she loves.
· A snowman comes to life, but he's not a happy soul.
· Santa makes a terrible bargain in order to save Christmas.
· On Christmas Eve, a furious fairy princess attacks a double-decker bus.
· Two secret agents attend an exclusive Christmas party with an unusual price of admission.
· Soldiers in the midst of the zombie apocalypse try to find the Christmas spirit.
· A boy and his father confront an alien creature on the Longest Night.
· A mercenary packing magical pistols battles a monster while Christmas shopping for her werewolf boyfriend.
· Steampunk detectives find themselves fending off Christmas "elves."
· Humans exiled to an alternate world blend alien and human holiday traditions.
· A banished prince with a magic chicken finds a nearly drowned soldier--so says the storyteller.
· A bounty hunter searches for a rogue elf.
· A traumatized punk girl confronts the spirits from the worst night of her life.
· In a dystopian future, Christmas is outlawed.
· ...And Shirley Jackson Award-nominated author Nicole Cushing reveals the holiday specials that she feels deserve "lumps of coal."

100% of all proceeds from this book benefit Indy Reads.

Indy Reads is a not-for-profit organization that relies on volunteers to provide basic literacy tutoring to illiterate and semi-literate adults. Indy Reads operates a bookstore in downtown Indianapolis. Learn more at www.indyreads.org.

Places to find the book:

Add to Riffle

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1502902528

Also by this author: Hero's Best Friend: An Anthology of Animal Companions, Blue Spirit, Guest Post (Restless Spirit), Restless Spirit, Virtual Blue, Darkness with a Chance of Whimsy, Author Interview (Red Lotus, Vol.1), Commanding the Red Lotus

Genres: Anthology Collection of Short Stories and/or Essays, Christmas Story &/or Christmas Romance, Cosy Horror, Fantasy Fiction, Science Fiction


Published by Speculative Fiction Guild

on Halloween, 2014

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 196

Published By: Speculative Fiction Guild | Facebook | @sfg2013

Available Formats: Trade Paperback and Ebook

Converse via: #SpecFict + #anthology (or #SpeculativeFiction)

About John F. Allen

John F Allen

John F. Allen is an American writer born in Indianapolis, IN. He is a member of The Indiana Writers Center, began writing stories as early as the second grade and pursued most forms of writing at some point, throughout his career. John studied Liberal Arts at IUPUI with a focus in Creative Writing, received an honorable discharge from the United States Air Force and is a current member of the American Legion. John's debut novel, The God Killers was published in the Summer of 2013 by Seventh Star Press. He also has published short stories in several anthologies including: Thunder on the Battlefield, Vol I, also by Seventh Star Press and In The Bloodstream, by Mocha Memoirs Press.

John currently resides in Indianapolis, Indiana.

About Ms Chris (E. Chris Garrison)

Ms Chris Garrison

E. Chris Garrison writes Fantasy and Science Fiction novels and short stories. She used to publish as Eric Garrison, but has since upgraded.

Her latest series is Trans-Continental, a Steampunk adventure with a transgender woman as its protagonist. Chris’s supernatural fantasy stories include the Road Ghosts trilogy and the Tipsy Fairy Tales published by Seventh Star Press. These novels are humorous supernatural fantasies, dealing with ghosts, demonic possession, and sinister fairy folk.

Her novel, Reality Check, is a Science Fiction adventure released by Hydra Publications. Reality Check reached #1 in Science Fiction on Amazon.com during a promotion in July 2013. Chris lives in Indianapolis, Indiana, with her wife, step-daughter and cats. She also enjoys gaming, home brewing beer, and finding innovative uses for duct tape.

About R.J. Sullivan

R.J. Sullivan with his characters

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 also released Haunting Obsession, a Rebecca Burton Novella, and Virtual Blue, the second part of Fiona’s tale. The short stories in this collection have been featured in such acclaimed anthologies as Dark Faith Invocations by Apex Books and Vampires Don’t Sparkle. His next book due out very soon will be Commanding the Red Lotus, which collects the series of science fiction novelettes in the tradition of Andre Norton and Gene Roddenberry.

R.J. resides with his family in Heartland Crossing, Indiana. He drinks regularly from a Little Mermaid coffee mug and is man enough to admit it.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #TwelfthNightReadathon
  • #WYChristmasReadathon
  • Sci Fi Experience 2017
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Posted Saturday, 14 January, 2017 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, BlogTalkRadio, Book Review (non-blog tour), Cosy Horror, Fantasy Fiction, Folklore, Futuristic Fantasy, Guest Author on the Chamber, Indie Author, Parapsychological Suspense, Podcast, Supernatural Fiction, Telepaths & Telepathy, The Star Chamber Show, Vulgarity in Literature

Blog Book Tour | “Commanding the Red Lotus” (a novel in a triptych of novellas) by R.J. Sullivan

Posted Sunday, 3 July, 2016 by jorielov , , , , , , 5 Comments

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By:

I was selected to be a stop on the “Commanding the Red Lotus” 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 “Commanding the Red Lotus” direct from the author R.J. Sullivan in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Why I love reading R.J. Sullivan stories:

Even whilst I was becoming first introduced to Sullivan’s style of writing within the pages of Virtual Blue and finding it was quite a bit too intense for me overall to appreciate in a fuller capacity than the one I expressed on my review; there as an inkling of a style I wanted to read more of, to see what else this author could create that might allow me the grace to soak inside his other stories with a happier heart. It wasn’t that Virtual Blue was too far outside of an Urban Fantasy I’d love, but it was the Horror undertones that nudged it a bit past the envelope of what I can pleasantly say agrees with me. No, instead, it simply gave me a glimpse into the craft of how a story is assembled and granted me a reason to keep my eyes peeled for further releases by the author.

The next chance I took was on behalf of Darkness with a Chance of Whimsy – an anthology collection of short stories written over an expanse of a decade – wherein I found the style I had snuck a glimpse at previously & happily found more than a few shorts that I truly enjoyed reading! It was such a happy discovery for me, and it was a great second-step into Sullivan’s collective works before I turnt my eye towards his Classically told Space Opera threading through the Red Lotus series!

I was quite surprised finding Sullivan has a softer and more intuitive side to his writings, as I came into his collective works through the Dark Fantasy and Horror side of the ledger! Immediately as I was settling into what became my favourite short (‘The Assurance Salesman’) I recognised he has a lot of heart and depth of purpose towards how he paints a story with emotional conviction and centering on the intricate complexity of exploring the depth of the human soul. He enriches his audience with thought-provoking stories which stir a knowing sense the writer has fully embraced the moment of his inspiration to tell them and given a wicked read to his readers (who like me) might not have found their ‘niche’ within his writings until now! -quoted from my Darkness with a Chance of Whimsy review

I also like how there is a lot of optimism running in the background of his stories – even in Virtual Blue, there were moments where all hope was never quite lost even if everything felt rather impossibly difficult to return to any sort of normalcy afterwards. I like to see the light flickering back through any level of darkness a character has to encounter, but I also, love a certain nod of cheeky humour, humbling arcs of a character’s journey and a story owning its genre by how it’s crafted to shine in its chosen world.

As I read part of the opening bits of Fate of the Red Lotus prior to composing my questions for the interview I showcased ahead of this review, you could say I felt I had become treated to a Classic Space Opera written from the prospective of a writer who knew how to fuse everything together that he personally loved himself inside his genre of choice! The more you learn about what drives Mr Sullivan’s own passion for Science Fiction, the more elements of inspiration you discover inside his stories. To me, this is a true blessing of reading an author you slowly start to become familiar with through their collective writings, their blog and/or the conversations or guest essays which feature another dimension of what makes their writing personally unique to their own imaginative eye!

Please note: I have a special anthology I’m reviewing for the Christmas 2016 Season (Gifts of the Magi) in which Mr Sullivan has a short story featured. I look forward to sharing my thoughts & impressions on behalf of that collection come December, however, the book shoppe it’s contributing towards is Indy Reads Books, a local establishment in Indianapolis, I first came to know through Sullivan & Ms Chris respectively and further still, through my readings of Indy Writes Books (an anthology for booklovers), a review that is forthcoming this week! I also have a special surprise for Mr Sullivan lateron this month on my blog, so due stay tuned if you love Science Fiction as I #FuellYourSciFi throughout JULY!Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Notation on Cover Art: The only flicker of a question I had when I first saw this artwork was if that is Sayuri on the cover, why do I question if she’s Japanese!? She’s turnt away from the camera so to speak, so this might be what is throwing me off a bit about her cultural heritage, but for me – everything else on this cover bespoke of what I wanted to find inside the story! I love ramshackle ships, curiously fierce characters & a motley crew of opposites who find they have a bit more in common with each other than what first appearances might lend to understand! It even speaks of the aesthetic of what I personally feel ‘Space travelling’ might feel like to be a part of and that was a brilliant method of using art to capture a reader’s imagination at ‘hallo’!

Blog Book Tour | “Commanding the Red Lotus” (a novel in a triptych of novellas) by R.J. SullivanCommanding the Red Lotus
by R.J. Sullivan
Illustrator/Cover Designer: Enggar Adirasa
Source: Author via Seventh Star Press

Money Can’t Buy Respect

Sayuri Arai, privileged daughter of a corporate mogul, abandons a promising career to find her own path. She invests in a broken-down asteroid mining ship and steps in as the commander of its crew. Every day presents a new challenge just to keep her ship from falling apart and the bitter crew from killing each other. Can Sayuri unite the feuding factions, or will her rivals turn the entire complement against her?

Commanding the Red Lotus offers a classic sense of wonder for today’s science fiction readers.

Volume One of the Red Lotus Stories, now in softcover for the first time. Commanding the Red Lotus includes the previously released ebook novelettes:

Fate of the Red Lotus
Red Lotus: Innocence Lost
Plus the brand-new novella Mutiny on the Red Lotus

Places to find the book:

Add to Riffle

ISBN: 9781941706701

Also by this author: Virtual Blue, Darkness with a Chance of Whimsy, Author Interview (Red Lotus, Vol.1), Gifts of the Magi

Genres: Anthology Collection of Short Stories and/or Essays, Short Story or Novella, Space Opera


Published by Seventh Star Press

on 18th April, 2016

Format: Paperback Edition

Pages: 236

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

Special Note on Sullivan’s blog about reading Fate of the Red Lotus FREE!

Converse via: #RedLotusNovel, #ShortStories & #7thStar

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Author Biography:

R.J. Sullivan

Best known for his ghost story thrillers, Commanding the Red Lotus is R.J.Sullivan’s fifth book and his first release in the genre he most adores. R.J.’s critically acclaimed, loosely connected ghost story trilogy and his short story collection are all available in paperback and ebook though Seventh Star Press. R.J. resides with his family in Heartland Crossing, Indiana. He drinks regularly from a Little Mermaid coffee mug and is man enough to admit it.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | GoodReads | Instagram

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Posted Sunday, 3 July, 2016 by jorielov in #FuellYourSciFi, #JorieLovesIndies, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book | Novel Excerpt, Book Cover | Notation on Design, Bookish Discussions, Coming-Of Age, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Equality In Literature, Fathers and Daughters, Indie Author, LGBTTQPlus Fiction | Non-Fiction, Life Shift, Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity, Science Fiction, Space Opera, Space Science, Speculative Fiction, Tomorrow Comes Media, Vulgarity in Literature

Blog Book Tour | “Darkness with a Chance of Whimsy” an #anthology of #Fantasy stories by R.J. Sullivan!

Posted Saturday, 3 October, 2015 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin.

Acquired Book By:

I was selected to be a stop on the “Darkness with a Chance of Whimsy” 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 am a regular blog tour host with Tomorrow Comes Media, however, when I reviewed “Virtual Blue” my path originally crossed with Mr Sullivan’s. We’ve kept in touch and he asked if I would be keen on being involved in his blog tour for “Darkness with a Chance of Whimsy” to which I was happy to respond positively with a ‘yes’! As I have been wanting to expand my readings of his collective works past ‘Virtual Blue’.

I received a complimentary copy of “Darkness with a Chance of Whimsy” 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 read …Chance of Whimsy:

Part of me half-smirked when I realised how similar in name this title was to “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” as although not the demographic who would normally find herself inclined to see the film (as it’s that brand of anime that tends to grate on my last nerve rather than humours me) – I must contend, the airing I caught on cable left me pensive and laughing. It had more heart than I shrugged off being possible and it had a nice heaping of cheeky humour to keep me entertained.

Titling aside, I’ve been keeping an eye on Mr Sullivan’s writings for awhile now, as I previously explored his darker side of knitting inside an Urban Fantasy quite the dark fate circling around a character within the pages of Virtual Blue! One of his characters I enjoyed getting to meet through that novel was Rebecca Burton, of whom is featured in two of the shorts within this collection: Inner Strength & Backstage Pass.

I positively adore reading anthologies for Science Fiction & Fantasy, in fact, I tend to get quite giddy about finding them! I’ve been focusing on the Indie Press side of the ledger for the past two years, as I’ve happily devoured titles by Seventh Star Press (by which this title is published!), World Weaver Press and Xchyler Publishing. I have an exciting anthology I am going to be reading for this years upcoming Sci Fi November + the Sci-Fi Experience (December-January) where I will be exploring Space Opera; a section of SF I haven’t been reading nearly as much as I should in the recent past! (mentioned on No.7!)

What appealed to me about Sullivan’s current anthology is how it’s a curated collection spanning a decade of characters, life experiences (as you know those are always at the back of a writer’s mind as they write their stories!), and stories evolving out of where Sullivan was in his writerly pursuits per each story included inside. My curiosity for continuing to read his stories hasn’t faltered, as I was waiting for a moment where his stories would re-tempt me to read his new works (or his past works; truly nothing is ever truly ‘old’ if it’s new to the reader!) as I knew the basis of Virtual Blue was going to be a bit trickier to follow as it’s such a soul-gutting story-line for me to consume.

The fact he put ‘whimsy’ and ‘darkness’ together in a title won me over but it’s his dedication to share his journey with his readers which endeared me the most.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Blog Book Tour | “Darkness with a Chance of Whimsy” an #anthology of #Fantasy stories by R.J. Sullivan!Darkness with a Chance of Whimsy
Subtitle: Ten Years, Ten Stories
by R.J. Sullivan
Illustrator/Cover Designer: Enggar Adirasa
Source: Publisher via Tomorrow Comes Media

Collected for the first time since their initial publications, Darkness with a Chance of Whimsy presents ten tales from the imagination of R.J. Sullivan. Thrills and chills await you, but you may also get blindsided by the absurd. This volume includes a pair of stories featuring Rebecca Burton, the mysterious investigator of R.J.’s acclaimed paranormal thriller series. Among the ten stories, you’ll find:

“The Assurance Salesman” shows five strangers more about themselves than they ever guessed.

You don’t want to venture into Daddy’s basement in “Fade.”

Rebecca Burton tries to talk someone out of a bad idea in “Backstage Pass.”

A bullied police detective finally defeats his rival in “Able-Bodied.”

A desperate father finds the “Inner Strength” to save his young daughter, “Becky” Burton.

A child seeds his aquarium with a most unusual “Starter Kit.”

A brilliant robotics engineer creates a “Robot Vampire.”

Places to find the book:

Add to Riffle

Also by this author: Virtual Blue, Author Interview (Red Lotus, Vol.1), Commanding the Red Lotus, Gifts of the Magi

Genres: Anthology Collection of Short Stories and/or Essays, Fantasy Fiction, Genre-bender, Short Story or Novella, Suspense, Urban Fantasy


Published by Seventh Star Press

on 16th of June 2015

Format: Paperback Edition

Pages: 200

Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards Badge created by Jorie in Canva. Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

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

Converse via: #DarknessWithAChanceOfWhimsy & #7thStar

About R.J. Sullivan

R.J. Sullivan with his characters

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 also released Haunting Obsession, a Rebecca Burton Novella, and Virtual Blue, the second part of Fiona’s tale. The short stories in this collection have been featured in such acclaimed anthologies as Dark Faith Invocations by Apex Books and Vampires Don’t Sparkle. His next book due out very soon will be Commanding the Red Lotus, which collects the series of science fiction novelettes in the tradition of Andre Norton and Gene Roddenberry.

R.J. resides with his family in Heartland Crossing, Indiana. He drinks regularly from a Little Mermaid coffee mug and is man enough to admit it.

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Posted Saturday, 3 October, 2015 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Bookish Discussions, Coming-Of Age, Cosy Horror, Crime Fiction, Earthen Magic, Fantasy Fiction, Indie Author, Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards, Parapsychological Gifts, Tomorrow Comes Media, Urban Fantasy, Vulgarity in Literature

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

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

Parajunkee Designs

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)

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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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