Spooktastic Fortnight of Psychological Suspense & Gothic Tales!
Autumn for me is a time in the year where I simply like to read a curated collection of stories which fall under different categories of mutual interest: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Gothic or Paranormally inclined and Cosy Horror. This year, as I was looking over the lists for *reading challenges* I noticed 2017 fell a bit short in offering a chance to interact with other readers who appreciate the same type of stories! Therefore, as I had already put my plan into action to read the selected stories during the final fortnight of October, I decided to host my ‘own’ self-direct reading challenge this year!
If other book bloggers or readers want to join me, please link to your blog, Twitter, Riffle List, LibraryThing List or other ‘space’ online where you are updating about what your reading – such as Instagram or Vlog (YouTube) in the Comments section below!
Use the tag: #SpooktasticReads & link back to this post
Acquired Book By: I have been aware of the publisher Month9Books for quite a few years now, as I used to host their Reveals & other special tours – even interviewing a lovely batch of their authors as books released I felt I would appreciate reading. However, in truth – I have only read two releases by them (as of yet) and this one marked an interest as it is a gateway into Greek Mythology. I received a complimentary copy of “The Sky Throne” direct from the author Chris Ledbetter in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
Ahead of my review, I asked a topic of interest for Mr Ledbetter:
How did you conceive of the ‘the Sky Throne’ and how did you best want to endeavour to describe the power of the Gods previously only generally known through Myth and Legends? How did you want your story to stand separate and together from the legacy of what has already been written?
Since I primarily write for the young adult audience, I ultimately wanted to tell an “origin” story that re-imagined the deities of ancient Hellas as teenagers. From that genesis point, I had to decide which myth to begin with. One of the most well known myths is that of Kronos eating his children to prevent a prophecy from coming true. This is a huge cornerstone of the Hellenic gods’ creation myth as told in Hesiod’s Theogony.
From there, I had to choose which deity I’d focus on as the main character. Even though the number of myths containing each deity varies widely, from a source material perspective, I love each of the Olympians. But I’ve always been drawn to Zeus strictly from the lightning and thunder aspect of things. And because he’s the king of the Gods. I realize the myths paint him as a bit of a sordid character… and I’m not excusing his colorful behavior in the myths, but I sought to create a more sympathetic version, while still remaining generally true to his essence. He is indeed one of the most dynamic figures in myths.
After I’d conceived the story concept, I tried to describe their otherworldly powers and abilities as if they were super heroes and heroines. In many ways, the Gods of pantheons past were our first super heroes and villains.
In the marketplace, there was a plethora of young adult titles in which the main character was a half blood, demigod child of an ancient god. I wanted to go to the source and tell the story of the deities themselves. That’s what separates The Sky Throne from its peers.
Notation on Cover Art: I personally love the image of Zeus which is not only gracing the cover but it is inclusive to every ‘chapter’ page within the novel! There is simply something quite striking about this representation of Zeus and it stays with you as you read the story!
Duality dwells at every turn, and an adolescent Zeus will learn that all too well when Hyperion attacks his family on Crete.
When the dust settles, his mother is unconscious and his best friend left for dead.
Stacking epic insult upon fatal injury, Zeus discovers the woman who raised him is not his biological mother. But to ensure her safety while she recovers, a heavy-hearted Zeus leaves her behind to seek answers at Mount Olympus Preparatory Academia.
Zeus embarks on a quest to discover who ordered the attack on his home, avenge the death of his friend, and find his birth mother. When some of his new schoolmates vanish, Zeus's quest is turned upside down, and the only way to make things right is to access the power of The Sky Throne, confront a most dangerous enemy, and take his life back.
On his way to becoming king of the Greek gods, Zeus will learn to seize power, neutralize his enemies, and fall in love.
Chris Ledbetter is an award-winning author of short fiction and novels for young adults. “Jason’s Quest,” a short story retelling of the Jason and Medea Greek myth was published in the anthology, Greek Myths Revisited. His first full-length novel, Drawn earned him two awards, Library of Clean Reads Best YA 2015 and Evernight Publishing Readers’ Choice Award Best YA 2015, as well as a USA
TODAY “Must Read” recommendation. His second novel, Inked, concludes that duology. The Sky Throne is his newest young adult novel. The second book in the series is set to release in 2018.
He's a proud member of SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) and a strong supporter of the Need for Diverse Books. He now writes and lives in Wilmington, NC with his family, including three cats.
Acquired Book By: I have been hosting for Poetic Book Tours for a few years now, where I am finding myself encouraged to seek out collections of poetry or incredible fiction being published through Small Trade publishers and presses. I have an Indie spirit and mentality as a writer and I appreciate finding authors who are writing creative works through Indie resources as I find Indies have a special spirit about them. It is a joy to work with Poetic Book Tours for their resilience in seeking out voices in Literature which others might overlook and thereby, increasing my own awareness of these beautiful lyrical voices in the craft. I was selected to review “Kinship of Clover” by Poetic Book Tours. I received a complimentary copy of “The Kinship of Clover” direct from author’s publicist in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
Why I was inspired to read this story:
I developed an environmental conscious at a very young age – recently I shared a few reasons why the natural world encourages my curiosity through discussing BioDiversity but this is a topic I regularly speak about as it parlays to my interests of staying environmentally aware. I appreciate seeking out stories which are uniquely written and told in a voice which illuminates the joy of finding story-tellers who are bending genre to their own will of style. I mentioned this on a recent Top Ten Tuesday topic as well. What draws my eye to the innovative styles of telling stories is simply being enfolded into a story which remembers there are no boundaries of where a story can take us visually nor through depth of heart. There is a spirit in the crafting of stories – of finding ways of telling stories which not only enrich the mind but endeavour to embrace the hidden truths of our world.
Therefore it was a pleasure and joy to find this title being offered for review on a blog tour recently. Reading the Editor’s Note was a bolt of inspiration too, as I liked how she mentioned most story-tellers who tackle a story similar to this one in breadth and centreing would focus on the negative or the darker undertones of how a story such as this is regularly conceived. I personally could do with less negativity and more pro-positive examples of how humanity still has the hope of turning things around or at the very least of limiting our impact which has grown out of hand. Positive hope is far better than the bitterness of pessimistic apocalyptic futures or dystopian violence.
He was nine when the vines first wrapped themselves around him and burrowed into his skin. Now a college botany major, Jeremy is desperately looking for a way to listen to the plants and stave off their extinction. But when the grip of the vines becomes too intense and Health Services starts asking questions, he flees to Brooklyn, where fate puts him face to face with a group of climate-justice activists who assure him they have a plan to save the planet, and his plants.
As the group readies itself to make a big Earth Day splash, Jeremy soon realizes these eco-terrorists devotion to activism might have him and those closest to him tangled up in more trouble than he was prepared to face. With the help of a determined, differently abled flame from his childhood, Zoe; her deteriorating, once rabble-rousing grandmother; and some shocking and illuminating revelations from the past, Jeremy must weigh completing his mission to save the plants against protecting the ones he loves, and confront the most critical question of all: how do you stay true to the people you care about while trying to change the world?
Converse via: #KinshipOfClover + #SmallPress & #ThinkGreen or #EarthDayEveryday
About Ellen Meeropol
Ellen Meeropol is fascinated by characters on the fault lines of political upheaval. Previous work includes a dramatic script telling the story of the Rosenberg Fund for Children which has been produced in four U.S cities, most recently in Boston. Elli is the wife of Robert Meeropol, youngest son of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg.
Elli is a former nurse and independent bookstore event coordinator and the author of two previous novels, House Arrest and On Hurricane Island. She is a founding member of Straw Dog Writers Guild. Short fiction and essays have appeared in Bridges, DoveTales, Pedestal, Rumpus, Portland Magazine, and the Writer’s Chronicle.
Acquired Digital Audiobook by: I am a new blog tour hostess with Audiobookworm Promotions wherein I have the opportunity to receive audiobooks for review or adoption (reviews outside of organised blog tours) and host guest features on behalf of authors and narrators alike. I started hosting for Audiobookworm Promotions at the end of  during “The Cryptic Lines” tour wherein I became quite happily surprised how much I am now keen on listening to books in lieu of reading them in print. My journey into audiobooks was prompted by a return of my chronic migraines wherein I want to offset my readings with listening to the audio versions.
I received a complimentary audiobook copy of “Halfway Hunted” via the publicist at Audiobookworm Promotions (of whom was working directly with the author Terry Maggert) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
On the heart tug of emotional angst stemming out of the cliffhanger from Halfway Bitten:
In case you’ve missed my full ruminations on behalf of the first novel in this wonderfully witchy series, please direct your mouse to Halfway Dead!
When Halfway Bitten concluded – I had mixed emotions. In some ways, I had trouble sorting out my thoughts because I couldn’t quite say I had the same reaction to the second story as I did the first: wicked sweet admiration for the story in whole. No. I honestly had a difficult takeaway, as portions of the story felt ‘off’ to me somehow, something I have sorted out how to explain, if you read the ‘postscript’ on my review.
The hardest part about the ending is how it ends – to be direct, this is the second time I felt overcome by the ending of a novel. The first time was during a read-fest of Lady Darby, of which sadly ended with me unable to resolve my feelings in order to read the adorable pocket sized fifth installment. (see also post) By the time I resolved my emotional angst, I was facing a real-life medical crisis. (see also post) In this particular case, it was simply emotionally gutting – such a sad conclusion and yet, a heroic gesture for someone’s beloved. Wulfric grew on me – as he didn’t warm to me initially – it was through his love for Carlie and the overtures of sincerity he made started me to think about another vampire I liked (ie. Angel; Buffy the Vampire Slayer; Angel series)
Each of the Halfway Witchy stories are progressively moving deeper into the heart of Carlie’s personal growth and the ways in which her life is exponentially complicated through her experiences as a white witch. Maggert threads a hearty threading of realism into the backbone of the series – there are happy moments, sure, but overall, this is a cheeky satire with high octane drama. It’s set in a world just out of the view of our own – if you kept the veil of the supernatural away from your eyes, you could say this is ‘present day, 21st Century’, too. It’s texture of familiarity is enhanced by how Maggert etches into his narrative exchanges of cultural and tradition Americans would readily recognise. This is decidedly American – not just in how he chooses to write his characters’ unique personalities or their delivery of their lines, but rather, how the story is told. You can perceive a lens of grounding out of the author’s own imagination and living memories whilst countered against the unseen and very dangerous supernatural world.
This is why I am so genuinely addicted to this series – you feel like brewing up a warm cuppa and settling in for returning back to a place that feels so much like home. Similar to Stars Hollow if you will. Or any small towne you feel you can cosy up inside and be recognised as a resident rather than as a passing through outsider. This is why despite the cliffhanger giving my heart a lurched out motion of ‘how could this happen!?’ I felt Maggert left in just enough Hope for things to turn around and/or have restitution given down the road a bit in the next installments to where I could handle moving forward. Unlike my feelings on behalf of the recent episode of NCIS: LA (see this thread of a rant of mine) which pushed the envelope too far for me to even consider rational and plausible in regards of ‘where’ a story-line in a family tv series should go.
As an aside, Lady Darby’s story-line crushed my soul, NCIS: LA disturbed my heart and disillusioned my loyalty to a series I’ve followed since JAG (ie: all 3x NCIS are spins of the original) and Halfway Witchy dealt with a twist of fate in such a better way. If you’re going to give a reader (or a viewer) a heart-wreck of a cliffhanger or turning of tides, take after Mr Magget. And, yes… I am going to be reading Lady Darby – after you nearly lose your father to a series of TIAs, even a crushed soul can be repaired. Or in my case, a severe case of amnesia occurred because something more important was hitting my reality. NCIS: LA is falling into the category of Castle & Downton Abbey; not everything can be forgiven. Then again, I boycotted Angel after S2 for similar reasons.
Welcome to Halfway; where the waffles are golden, the moon is silver, and magic is just around every corner.
A century old curse is broken, releasing Exit Wainwright, an innocent man trapped alone in time. Lost and in danger, he enlists Carlie, Gran, and their magic to find the warlock who sentenced him to a hundred years of darkness. The hunter becomes the hunted when Carlie's spells awaken a cold-blooded killer intent on adding another pelt to their gruesome collection: hers.
But the killer has never been to Halfway before, where there are three unbreakable rules:
1. Don't complain about the diner's waffles.
2. Don't break the laws of magic.
3. Never threaten a witch on her home turf.
Can Carlie solve an ancient crime, defeat a ruthless killer and save the love of her life from a vampire's curse without burning the waffles?
Come hunt with Carlie, and answer the call of the wild.
Notation on Cover Art Design: charmed by two, indifferent towards a third
Unlike my admiration for the first two covers, the third cover was slightly less inclined to be liked by me due to how ‘blood’ was the prime feature of the artwork. I’m not a girl who likes vampires or werewolves – not generally – I do have my exceptions (all girls do) but if you were to cast a wide net about the stories of the supernatural and/ paranormal suspense in general – I’m just not the kind of reader / viewer who digs a lot of er, blood. Unless it’s a medical drama – not that I can handle watching or reading medical dramas anymore – in my teenage years I could filter real life from fictional; as an adult, I’ve lived too many years with medical crises to care to always be locked into a soul-wretch of a fictional one. I even wanted to share the promo badges attached to this blog tour – as some of the quotes were my personal favourites – but again. The ‘blood’ is just too .. er, ick for me!? I always par down the blood – my imagination is tamer than most and more expansive in other regards – in true essence, I dial down the gore. Not that I would consider Maggert’s fiction ‘gory’ no, it’s still within what I consider ‘Cosy Horror’ or even ‘Horror-Lite’ but.. yes. This cover just didn’t win me over. I sort of wished for the continuity of the marker tattoos. That was something wicked original now discarded.
About Terry Maggert
Left-handed. Father of an apparent nudist. Husband to a half-Norwegian. Herder of cats and dogs. Lover of pie. I write books. I've had an unhealthy fascination with dragons since the age of-- well, for a while. Native Floridian. Current Tennessean. Location subject to change based on insurrection, upheaval, or availability of coffee. Nine books and counting, with no end in sight. You've been warned.