This marks my first time hosting with Austenprose – although, I have been a long time admirer of her blog and it is an honour to start a new journey in hosting her blog tours! Ms Laurel reached out to me initially to host her authors for my bookish chat known for showcasing Romance & Women’s Fiction as well as stories of Feminist Lit – @SatBookChat meets on Saturdays January-November annually. Through conversing with her I had the pleasure of joy of becoming better acquainted with two authors I have been itching to start reading over the years – Ms Sarah M. Eden of whom I’m spotlighting today ahead of my review at the end of the blog tour and Ms Mimi Matthews of whom I am spotlighting on the morrow.
I started to come across Shadow Mountain Publishing authors & stories whilst participating in my favourite INSPY readathon every year during the Summer, hosted by Sydney @ Singing Librarian Books. Being a hybrid reader of both mainstream & INSPY throughout my life, I am constantly seeking out more authors who write Inspirational Fiction across both genre and publishing routes (ie. from major trade to Indie publishers (like Shadow Mountain) to self-published authors) – thus, I was delighted when I started to see Ms Eden’s novel popping up on my routes throughout the book blogosphere and being featured during Ms Sydney’s readathon.
When I first joined this blog tour, I hadn’t realised it was a series in-progress – as regular readers of Jorie Loves A Story know my personal preference for reading serials is to read them start to finish – even if that means, borrowing missing installments by inter-library loan if my local library or regional library does not carry the author, book or series. However, in this instance – between my health afflictions and my migraines, I wasn’t able to sort out a way to get a copy of “The Lady and the Highwayman” ahead of starting to read “The Gentleman and the Thief”. I decided instead to reply on a review I found quite wonderfully in-depth via Austenprose.
I even checked Scribd and was sad to see this series was not listed in their catalogue for audiobooks as that would have been a brilliant way to ‘catch’ up with the series – as being a migraineur, I regularly turn to audiobooks to help offset my migraines and/or to help me transition back into reading after having a supernova migraine such as the one I had earlier in November.
The main reason I am choosing to spotlight this novel today is because due to being taken ill at the end of October (as I was emotionally distraught over the fate of trees in my neighbourhood recently as well as other stress factors involved at the time) and the migraines I sustained as well – I haven’t had the proper chance to get into this novel and understand the story as I would prefer as a book blogger. This novel also has a different technique in how it is being told and the layout of the novel as well – as the narrative shifts between two penny dreadful stories and the main thread of the story involving the characters of this installment.
I plan to continue reading this novel and posting my review on the last day of the tour, which is the 29th. Until then, I decided to share my thoughts on the first twenty-five pages and to give my readers & visitors alike a bit of a preview of where my thoughts are tracking as I read my first Sarah M. Eden novel as well as on diving into the second novel of the Dread Penny Society. I hope this might tip your hat towards selecting this novel and/or the fuller series to be put on your to read stack!
A standalone novel in The Dread Penny Society set in 1865 London brimming with secrets, scandal, suspense, and romance.
From the moment Hollis Darby meets Ana Newport, he's smitten. Even though he's from a wealthy, established family and she isn't, he wishes he could have a life with her by his side. But Hollis has a secret: the deep coffers that have kept his family afloat for generations are bare, so he supports himself by writing penny dreadfuls under a pseudonym. If not for the income from his novels, he would be broke.
Ana Newport also has a secret. Though she once had a place in society thanks to her father's successful business, bankruptcy and scandal reduced his fortune to nothing more than a crumbling town house. So Ana teaches music during the day, and at night she assumes the identity of the "Phantom Fox." She breaks into the homes of the wealthy to reclaim trinkets and treasures she feels were unjustly stolen from her family when they were struggling.
When Hollis's brother needs to hire a music tutor for his daughter, Hollis recommends Ana, giving him a chance to spend time with her. Ana needs the income and is eager for the opportunity to get to know the enigmatic gentleman. What neither of them expects is how difficult it will be to keep their respective secrets from each other.
When a spree of robberies rocks the city, Ana and Hollis join forces to solve the crimes, discovering that working together deepens the affection between them. After all, who better to save the day than a gentleman and a thief?
I wasn’t as inspired with this topic as much as I was to contribute a clever topic for an author whose series has left me dearly curious to READ. One of my bookish hobbies (as let’s face it, a lot of us have more bookish hobbies than non-bookish!) is finding new subniches of familiar genres and re-discovering why I love each particular genre by finding my route into a new hidden niche I haven’t yet explored – which is how I came to be featuring Mr William Ray!
Jorie’s topic for William Ray: Top Ten Secrets of Surviving in the Verin Empire 📖🦎
Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!
I positively love Indie (Press and Publishers) and Self Published Speculative Fiction storycrafters who are giving me wicked good literary wanderings within Cosy Horror, Science Fiction and Fantasy!!
For this week’s #TopTenTuesday, I wanted to do something special and a bit different – which is why I decided to creatively come up with a fun topic for the author whilst hosting this lovely blog tour which is celebrating a rather uniquely interesting book series as I’ve been in conversation with the author, Mr Ray whilst setting up this featured guest post! I do not oft get the chance to have this level of collaboration with an author about a guest post and I must admit, it was the highlight of the past few weeks for me as I took ill for over a week after the sudden loss of my Cedar trees which was explained in a series of tweets within this *thread. The collaboration proved to be the best diversion to offset what was affecting me in the aftermath of having those trees forcibly removed.
Here’s the exciting bit: you see, his series, the Verin Empire *switches!* genres per each installment of the series – you will find my notes relating to which genre applies to which installment of the series shortly. Even more interesting to mention I felt is how these genre descriptions and interpretations apply to the Verin Empire as well!!
Let me explain:
(portions of this top anchour were pulled from my conversations
with Mr Ray and are being reshared on this post with permission of Mr Ray.)
When I enquried about “Blackpowder Fantasy” (as in all humbled honestly I can’t stop thinking about the franchise of films for Pirates of the Carribean as they loved using the stuff!) this is what the author responded by explaining to me where his story fits within the scope of this designation:
Blackpowder covers a huge technological range from
quasi-medieval to Victorian war story. I’m at the far modern end of what fits in it.
Whereas when it comes to whether or not his stories
are considered gritty or grim – he had this to say:
A bit gritty. I don’t think it’s super dark or anything…
but it’s a grimy 19th century cityscape with rampant corruption. Grimy, not grim.
And, of course, I had to ask if by gritty or grim if this was by any chance inferring explicitly graphic violence in ANY of the installments as I’ve been burnt before on how far writers can take their crime scenes, death scenes and you know, that side of the story:
I don’t think the violence is super explicit in Great Restoration. It gets a little heavier in the final chapters, but there are only a couple of key deaths along the way, and they’re not particularly gruesome (and both are off-page!). Gedund is more brutal with that stuff… but then, it’s a war story and I don’t think it’s particularly gorey for its ilk.
As you can see, this is a series which might have been considered outside the purview of Jorie’s readerly curiosities but then again, you have to take into account when the film Rango came out she was one of the first to feel inclined to give it a whirl and see what a wild ride *that!* kind of fantastical Western could present!! Somewhere in the story and throughout its adventurous tale Rango managed to worm its way into her cinematic heart! Seriously, how can you not LOVE ‘Rango’? I digress.
Through the illustrations (which Mr Ray kindly shared with me for this post and for a special post which will arrive during @WyrdAndWonder’s Year 4, May 2021) you can start to see the vision he had for this series as much as how this series re-sets a standard in what you can expect to find in your fantastical wanderings. I was most intrigued by what provided the bones of this series foundation – the inspirational routes the author took to find his own voice and style within Fantasy but also to write a fantastical and engaging series which re-shifts the reader into the curious realms of where Fantasy can take them.
The only warning signs I had this series might have its ebb and flow of caution for me as a reader would be when he broached where this series falls in regards to Fantasy classification terms and inclusions – thereby, if you have any similar sensibilities as I do as a reader, you might want to note them as you consider this series for yourself:
I shift things around a lot stylistically, so Gedlund has some brutal bits, but I tend not to indulge in garish gorey detail because that pushes further from the period feel. But it is heavier on horror elements and violence than the others, being about war. The detective stories aren’t about that though. As a sort of western, Shadow Debt is more violent than the detective stories, but it’s dime-novel stuff, not Grimdark.
Two of his main influences of inspiration are the stories of Sherlock Holmes and the collective works of JRR Tolkien – which is something I can relate to myself, as although I own the full Histories of Middle Earth and all the connecting stories within the Trilogy – I’ve only accomplished seeing the film adaptations in recent decades. I am thankful I could attend one of the midnight premieres as those are the kind of experiences you can easily take for granted now in this current world of pandemics and the issues surrounding large crowds at movie premieres. Thankfully during those releases things were a bit more innocent and tamer – where you could enjoy the film and the collective experience of being in the theater without the kind of worries which are on your mind nowadays.
Through seeing those adaptations and learning about the director’s process for bringing them to life – both cinematically and visually through Weta’s visual special effects, you can uncover a lot of Tolkien’s vision as well. In that regard, just the sheer breadth of Tolkien’s work is impressive enough and is one to be respected. And, when it comes to Holmes, is there a greater private detective who has captured our hearts, our minds and our natural curiosity to observe how he sleuths? I can definitely respect why each of those would provide a wicked amount of inspiration!
What endeared me though through our conversations is when he described his series as the following:
I don’t think Gedlund is Grimdark. It’s a bit dark, but it has a more hopeful edge… Grimdark usually emphasizes an implacable world full of dark things. Gedlund has more of an… incompetent world of dark things? The theme in all the Verin Empire stories is about the lingering darkness of the past, but implicit in that is an idea that things are improving. Arc of history bending towards justice and so forth.
So, for example, there’s this broad notion that magic is fading from the world… but as you get into the details of it, it turns out most of the magical world was kind of awful and people are better off that it’s gone. Most of fantasy features a struggle against a returning evil once defeated by a more virtuous past… I wanted to show a lingering evil at war with a more virtuous (but still far from perfect) newer world.
And, this is what re-gave me the hope of being able to read the series! *whew!* Whenever you are on the fringes of discovering a new subniche of a genre you love reading, it is wicked wonderful when you can ask the author direct questions and put your concerns about their stories to rest. Especially if you’re a sensitive reader like I am or if you know your limitations when it comes to Dark Fantasy elements, graphic violence (or any amount of violence and how its portrayed) or whatever else might concern you ahead of seeking out the stories for your own readerly consumption.
I was wicked thankful for his explanation because this was my initial takeaway after this was revealled: it’s a world in transition and a world choosing how it wants to be in the future and if it is ready to shift away from the past or if it wants to revisit those darker days (in some regards),…
As you can see, he has written a series which encourages you to consider the layers and the ways in which the stories are told to further understand the telling of how the stories reveal themselves. And, those are my favourite stories to find to read. They offer a lovely challenge because of what they encourage you to ruminate over as you’re reading them.
And, of course, once he said this – I mean, what more can you ask for in this series?
Exactly! A big part of what inspired Gedlund was that visual of this ‘modern’ army fighting an immortal lich king, stuck forever in the past. The world is still has that 19th century sort of mud on its boots, but it’s marching forward. There’s rampant sexism, but there are also murmurings of the battles for Women’s Suffrage. There’s classic aristocratic corruption, but the stirrings of democracy and more sensible management. Things aren’t perfect, but they’re moving forward. Fantasy worlds all too often feel like fixed things, and I wanted to write a world that was clearly moving through history.
I loved how Mr Ray rooted real world issues into the backbone of his world’s back-histories whilst he kept the world on its own trajectory as well. I look forward to one day tackling this series and finding my way inside the world once I do – ooh, for those who are curious, his short story is available in PRINT which is something I already celebrated finding out myself! Whilst at the same time, I requested my local library to purchase Gedlund and I am awaiting their response.
One blessing I’ve found as a book blogger and as a Joyful Tweeter is generally most authors are willing to respond to your enquiries and they are blessedly approachable when it comes to a reader who wants to ask more pointed questions out of the concern for how those stories might affect them as a new reader to either their style, their genre or the thematic of the stories they are writing. Never feel you cannot reach out to a #newtoyouauthor and ask the questions which are important to you.
Today it is an honour to host a new blog tour with Storytellers on Tour – a blog touring company whose championing Indie Storytellers and giving us all a lovely chance to feature their collective works. I am looking forward to working with them as oft as I can and to the conversations and features which hosting will inspire to bring to my readers on Jorie Loves A Story!
Brew yourself a cuppa and let’s find out more about the Verin Empire!
And, I hope you’re as entertained as I was with this wicked response from Mr Ray!
Shadow Debt Subtitle: A Tale of the Verin Empire by William Ray
Glynn Sorley is sheriff of Keat’s Field, a tiny settlement in an otherwise lawless frontier. With the discovery of diamonds, her town is flooded with fortune-hunters looking to strike it rich. It’s also a target for competing colonial powers, savage goblin tribes, and outlaws.
A rustler on the run from the law stumbles across his father’s mysterious legacy – a weapon of immense magical power. He uses it to ravage across the territory as the notorious outlaw Gentleman Jim.
But the weapon’s power comes at a terrible cost, and Keat’s Field may just have to pay the price…
This third Tale of the Verin Empire returns us to the world of Gedlund and The Great Restoration. It explores a frontier trapped between competing nations, where goblins reign and a lone sheriff fights to keep the peace.
Drawing inspiration from L’Amour’s Comstock Lode, Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, and our own late 19th century, Shadow Debt continues William Ray’s bold, critically acclaimed reinvention of classic fantasy in a world of memorable characters and unique perspectives, and features sketches from acclaimed illustrator Tom Parker.
Connect with the illustrator Tom Parker via @papagaeio
Gedlund (book one) : Blackpowder Fantasy
A Case of Eager Heris (short story) :
Gaslight / Urban Fantasy | Private / Noir Detective
The Great Restoration (book two) :
Gaslight / Urban Fantasy | Private / Noir Detective
Shadow Debt (book three) : Weird West | Western Fantasy
Top Ten Secrets of Surviving in Verin Empire
by William Ray
Inspiration from Jorie for this Topic: a lovely list of things to be aware of as a new visitor to this world – cautionary things, odd quirks, small insights into the places or the people therein. A bit of a last grab list of things any new person to this world would love to have in hand before they went into the world without any knowledge of it and might get into a few pickles.
Author’s Response: As the creator of Tales of the Verin Empire, I’ve been asked to offer advice for any traveler intrepid enough to tour those storied lands. Frankly, I find this a huge relief! If I can just watch you fumbling around out there it will save me a lot of work in character and plot development. With that in mind, good luck, and thanks in advance!
I have decided to start participating in this book blogosphere meme with a few small changes of how it’s regularly blogged about by my fellow book bloggers. I will either be introducing my current reads of upcoming releases as I am in the process of reading them and/or I might be releasing a book review about a forthcoming title by which I had been blessed to read ahead of publication. The main purpose behind the meme is to encourage readers and your fellow book bloggers to become aware of new books being released which caught your eye and which held your interest to read. Sometimes if your still in the process of reading the books, its the titles which encouraged your bookish heart. I look forward to spending the next seasons of the year, talking about the books I have on hand to read, the books I’ve been reading and the books I might not even have a copy to read but which are of wicked sweet interest to become a #nextread of mine.
Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!
I am wicked thankful to bring news about a sequel for a series I am still wickedly absorbing through the first installment wherein I have the most delightful joy in both reading the story and listening to the narrator narrate it in my ears! However, I am getting a bit ahead of myself! Let me first explain how this series [the Ella Shane Mysteries] came to alight on my bookish path and how delighted I am to be championing the author behind them as I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know her better in the weeks & months since she first guested on my @SatBookChat!
Ms Kalb sought me out to be a guest on my bookish chat which celebrates Romance & Women’s Fiction (how I founded the chat) whilst throughout 2020 I have expanded on our roots to now become inclusive of all genres which represent strong female characters and/or Feminist Lit. It is a merger of change which better represents the stories I am most intrigued to be reading myself a a reader whilst continuing to offer a bridge of focus between my blog Jorie Loves A Story and my chat @SatBookChat. The reviews are generally featured during my #SaturdaysAreBookish featured showcases running on Saturdays but sometimes if I fall behind schedule, they are re-funnelled into other showcases I have such as #RomanceTuesdays and/or #HistoricalMondays depending on the genre in which the stories represent within them.
I was so dearly thankful Ms Kalb had found my chat and wanted to become a guest – as most of this past year of 2020, the chat itself has been organically knitting itself together with guest authors & stories to discuss as it was one year where I had intented to give it my all to help grow the chat and also help re-direct it further from where I had regenerated it in Autumn, 2019. This year just felt a bit more oppressive than others personally and having authors step forward to query me about the chat was an unexpected blessing of grace and it allowed me to continue hosting without feeling the guilt of not being able to send as many queries out myself.
What struck my interest about this Cosy Historical Mystery series is how it takes place in the world of theatre and is set during the 19th Century Gilded Age! A place in history that I am most curious about exploring further and one I do not always get the chance to read about myself. As you will see, I am already fully anchoured into the story and the narration by Ms Bentley for this first novel – I am hopeful she will be the narrator for the sequel but I haven’t heard the news about whose narrating book two as of yet.
Today, I wanted to help shine a light on this series and also to give a few early glimpses into my reactions to reading “A Fatal Finale” whilst championing the announced release of the sequel “A Fatal First Night”!! If you haven’t seen this series on your Cosy Historical Mystery radar – be sure to follow the links to the archives of #SatBookChat, as we happily discussed the series and the author’s style of writing it in full detail.
This particular series has been on my radar for the past few years – it was a series I was grateful to have found as I love finding Cosy Historical Mysteries! I have enjoyed tucking into Historical Mysteries moreso than Contemporaries (with a few exceptions) as I love getting the chance to see the historic past as a portal of a glimpse into what it might have been like to live during the moments bursting to life whilst being explored through the setting of the mysteries. Mysteries are a lot of fun to read as well – seeing if I can keep pace with the sleuths and their methodologies of uncovering the truth whilst seeing which of the characters I feel left the strongest impression on me.
I have the tendency to seek out more stories featuring strong women as lead sleuths than men but there are some series out there where a male is in the lead role and I love it as dearly as the women I’ve found over the years who are giving me a charming dose of mystery with a setting and/or a plot that gives me a heap of joy to be reading!
What I find endearing about the Lady Evelyn series is how she has a fiancé and how he worries after her as she seems to have the luck of placing herself in pickles of danger! I know I haven’t yet had the joy of reading one of these lovelies – but from the prior blog tour and this one, I’ve been gaining more information about the series and am finding it a sweet fit as a #mustread! I love when Mysteries can afford themselves a secondary thread of connection – such as through a romance and/or a relationship which continues to build through the different installments.
The full rounding of a character’s life and their motivations is what inspires me the most to be reading these kinds of stories. I like seeking out Mysteries which are charming to read and give me a healthy dose of mystery which isn’t easily resolved and/or solved. I truly look forward to gathering these stories in print (although the inventory seems to be quite low right now) and starting to read them from start to finish. For this conversation I wanted to dig into the heart of the story whilst pulling forward the author’s writerly process and for her to talk about the different components of both this latest release and the series overall.
Be sure to brew yourself a cuppa
and let’s discover more about this series together!
The Quality of Mercy Subtitle: A Lady Evelyn Mystery by Malia Zaidi
After years spent away, Lady Evelyn is at long last back in her home city of London and she has returned with a rather controversial plan. The Carlisle Detective Agency is born, and it does not take long for the bodies… ahem, cases, to start piling up. With her friend and assistant Hugh, Evelyn embarks on the quest to solve the crimes. Yet the London she encounters is not the London of her coddled youth, and she is forced to learn that there is more to discover than the identity of a murderer. It isn’t only her city which reveals it is not what she always believed it to be, but the people she encounters as well. Secrets are revealed that have her thinking twice about everything she thought she knew about the society in which she grew up.
Evelyn’s love for her hard-won independence confronts her with yet another mystery, whether she is ready or willing to give up any of it for marriage. And then there is the arrival of rather a familiar face in London, one Daniel is none to pleased to see. Evelyn must find not one but two murderers, as well as make a decision that could determine her future. From the mansions of Mayfair to the dark alleys of Whitechapel, can Evelyn catch the killers before another life is taken?