In Autumn , I conceived of this idea to re-start my readings into the spooktacular worlds of chilling Thrillers, Suspense, Mysteries and the Paranormal (with just a dash of love for Cosy Horror!) – wherein I conceived of spending a fortnight reading such lovelies and enjoying a personal readathon leading into Halloween! I fell a bit short of my goals in , even though I took it as a success – as not only did I read some rather spookified tales but I found myself wholly intrigued by the stories I was selecting to read!
By  whilst helping develop and co-host @WyrdAndWonder, I put forth the idea to name our first mini-event for #WyrdAndWonder – wherein I was hoping to let this small idea I had in  take flight, reach a bigger audience and find readers who might find their own definition of #SpooktasticReads befitting their own readerly life! Which of course meant – re-defining it to include what it celebrates now as a mainstay: Cosy Horror, Paranormal Fantasy, Witchy Reads, Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, Dark Fantasy and even Gothic Romance or other such tales. I still have the tendency to read Cosy Crime, Suspense and Thrillers throughout Autumn and into Winter as well.
Some of the stories of course play the theme up quite a bit for the spookier side of the genres, some of which may or may not directly (or indirectly) relate to Fantasy per se but this is one of those readathons which is open to both interpretation and the joy of having free reign to enjoy the readathon in a way each reader wants to approach it. The truer beauty of Wyrd And Wonder and SpooktasticReads is the ability for each participant to find their own readerly path and find what gives them JOY to celebrate the events we’re hosting through social and the book blogosphere.
Acquired Book By: I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours whereupon I am thankful to have been able to host such a diverse breadth of stories, authors and wonderful guest features since I became a hostess! HFVBTs is one of the very first touring companies I started working with as a 1st Year Book Blogger – uniting my love and passion with Historical Fiction and the lovely sub-genres inside which I love devouring. Whether I am reading selections from Indie Authors & publishers to Major Trade and either from mainstream or INSPY markets – I am finding myself happily residing in the Historical past each year I am a blogger.
What I have been thankful for all these years since 2013 is the beautiful blessing of discovering new areas of Historical History to explore through realistically compelling Historical narratives which put me on the front-lines of where History and human interest stories interconnect. It has also allowed me to dive deeper into the historic past and root out new decades, centuries and millenniums to explore. For this and the stories themselves which are part of the memories I cherish most as a book blogger I am grateful to be a part of the #HFVBTBlogTours blogger team.
I received a complimentary copy of “The Artist Colony” from the publisher She Writes Press in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
NOTE: Once upon a time, I was a reviewer with SparkPress and their imprints as well as a participant in their Summer reading challenges. However, quite a few of those selections I had made in the past ended up on my backlogue of reviews; due to different adversities afflicting during those years – from my chronic migraines and other health ailments as well as my father’s recovery years from his moderate bilateral stroke in late 2016. Each year I grow closer to reading my backlogue – yet, despite falling behind on those reads, I’ve never lost my affinity of appreciation for SparkPress as a publisher or for She Writes Press. A few times since those years, I’ve had the pleasure of hosting their authors again and it isn’t something I take for granted. It is an honour and I love how they focus on stories which are inventively invigorating to be read as much as they stimulate conversation and carry forward a light for inspiring deeper readings and keenly intuitive thinkers.
On what drew my curious eye towards this novel:
Admittedly, this hasn’t been the best readerly year for me as a Historical Fiction reader. Each year, I try to chronicle my readings into the Historical past through the historical reading challenge hosted every year by Amy @ Passages to the Past (also the wicked awesome owner of HFVBTs!) – yet, this particular year, I’ve written more preview stylised posts (ie. #My25PagePreview) than I have longer reviews. Partially, it was a timing issue for me and yet, some of it seemed like 2021 was just a harder won year than 2020 which in all actuality seems a bit impressive to say considering what the former year was like to live through. Laughter aside, as soon as I learnt about the back-history about the artist cottage and how the cottage in Carmel was linked to the author – it felt like such an introspective kind of read.
I used to study art when I was younger and art has languished in my life for a few decades off/on now. I’d love to find a keenly approachable teacher to help me find my muse again when it comes to drawing as I’d love to pursue watercolours eventually – however, my main pursuit and passion of the past several years (err, a bit longer than that) has been knitting. With a new yarn destination closer than previous years, there is a strong chance I’ll be back at the needles before Autumn grips my weather patterns! And, wouldn’t that be a treasured blessing!? However, until then, I still think about traditional art mediums and how wonderful it would be to have a place to focus on art for the sake of discovering not just want moves me as an artist but what inspires me, too. It is a bit why I have always loved pursuing photography – you just have to step out your door and you’ll find inspiration. Photography was something I could maintain throughout my life and I’m blessed for it. Whereas art, in the more traditional sense backslid a bit and became out of focus.
I’m also one part of my family’s ancestral sleuths team – wherein, I inherited a love of Biographical Fiction stories from my Mum. She has a fierce passion for Non-Fiction in regards to Biographical & Autobiographical stories, but for me, I struggled to lock my mind round those selections. Until I tapped into a niche corner of Historical Fiction and found stories which are either directly derived from a person’s actual lived life OR they are an impression of that life wherein liberties were taken to fill in the missing gaps of their known histories. Both are appreciated by curious mind and I love seeing how authors tackle their subjects and how they extend the lives of the persons once lived.
On that note, I liked how The Artist Colony was first inspired by Fitzpatrick’s Great-Aunt Ada Belle and from that forethought on inspiration – came the story we’re all reading today. It is also a curious antidote of how to pierce together familiar history and enfold a relative of ours into a bit of an expansive story which can chart its own course; either following the line of history for that person or taking a new kind of trajectory which is befitting of the story as it became untangled into the pages it now lives upon. It gives me food for thought every time I see an author utilising this technique and perhaps one day, it might lay down a foundation of a story drawn out of my own living tree of ancestral roots. Until then, I chase after the historical past every which way to Sunday as it is such an intriguing place to revisit time after time, as each story is its own unique portal towards seeing History through a new pair of lens.
Sarah, a young Modernist painter, receives a cable from California. Her estranged older sister, Ada Belle, has died under suspicious circumstances. When she arrives two weeks later at San Francisco’s Union Station, Sarah is confronted by a newspaper headline: “Inquest Verdict: Artist Commits Suicide.”
Sarah remembers the last haunting words Ada Belle said to her: “Ars longa, vita brevis: Art is long, life is short.” But Ada Belle’s work is selling, and her upcoming exhibition of portraitures would bring her even wider recognition. Why would she kill herself? Sarah’s quest to find the truth of what happened to Ada Belle leads her to join the bucolic artist colony to look for clues. As she delves into her sister’s underworld, tensions surface. The darker things get, the closer she comes to terrible danger. How far will a killer go before he kills again?
Converse via: #HistFic or #HistNov or #HistoricalFiction
+ #TheArtistColony and #HFVBT
Available Formats: Trade Paperback and Ebook
About Joanna FitzPatrick
Joanna FitzPatrick was born and raised in Hollywood. She started her writing habit by applying her orange fountain pen and a wild imagination to screenplays, which led her early on to produce the film White Lilacs and Pink Champagne. At Sarah Lawrence College, she wrote her MFA thesis Sha La La: Live for Today about her life as a rock ’n’ roll star’s wife. Her more recent work includes two novels, Katherine Mansfield and The Drummer’s Widow. The Artist Colony is her third book. Presently, FitzPatrick divides her time between a mountaintop cottage in Northern California and a small hameau in Southern France where she begins all her book projects.
Acquired Book By: This is marks my first blog tour I’ve hosted for Random Things Tours as a new book blogger working with them to either review and/or host guest author features on behalf of their authors. I was thankful to join their book blogger team and look forward to joining the tours which are highlighting the stories I actively enjoy reading and discovering.
Earlier this year, in late Winter (February) I joined NetGalley for the first time as they finally announced they were going to be offering full-length audiobooks for reviewers. I was never able to join NetGalley due to having chronic migraines and being unable to read ebooks. I started requesting audiobooks to review as soon as they opened their audiobook catalogue in July, 2020. I am an eclectic reader and thereby, you will see all genres in Fiction explored from both markets of interest: mainstream and INSPY as well as from Major Trade, Indie Publishers & Press and other routes of publication, too. There might be the occasional Non-Fiction title appearing in my NetGalley queue of reviews as well. This marks a new adventure for me seeking stories for review consideration and I look forward to seeing where the stories lead me to venture.
I received a complimentary digital and temporary audiobook copy of “Solstice Shadows” direct from the publisher Thunder Creek Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All audiobooks via NetGalley are able to be heard via the NetGalley Shelf which is why I was thankful to be gifted an android tablet by my parents to celebrate my 7th Blog Birthday on Jorie Loves A Story.
I also received a complimentary ARC copy of “Solstice Shadows” direct from the author Avanti Centrae in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein on either the complimentary ARC edition of this novel nor the NetGalley audiobook edition.
On how I came to have this in both print and audiobook:
I have chronic migraines and the interesting thing about chronic migraines is how they can sometimes rob you of your short-term memory! In this particular case, I was excited to start requesting audiobooks via NetGalley. I had already confirmed a print copy of this novel was available for review on the blog tour which I celebrated as I knew this won’t always be the case as their not always available to request. I knew this series had a first novel ahead of “Solstice Shadows” and I was hopeful I could have found a copy of the first novel ahead of reading this sequel but my efforts were a bit in vain as I had two severe migraines back to back in mid-to-late July. And, this is around the time NetGalley was starting to offer their audiobooks for review.
I am a new member of NetGalley this year as previously I could not participate as the only editions they offered were ebooks which I cannot read per the aforementioned migraines. As I was browsing the audiobooks available, I noticed the author’s name for this audiobook was the same for an upcoming blog tour except I mistook the names of the titles in the series and ended up requesting the audiobook for “Solstice Shadows” which is the same book I received for review via an ARC for the blog tour. I was a bit mystified about how I made that error and mistake as it was a first for me to confuse the books in a series and which I was receiving for a blog tour. I consider that was owed to the dual migraines and the severity in which they were afflicting me.
However, this became the first audiobook I listened to via NetGalley and was able to review shortly after receiving it and for that I was grateful for the experience. Also, as I have had such a slow shift back into reading this past week – whilst reading “Magnolia Storms” (see also Review) and “Josette” (see also Review), I appreciated having the audiobook to listen to as I was reading the print copy of “Solstice Shadows” as it helped me work through the last fragments of a third migraine which afflicted me this past weekend.
On why this novel appealled to me to read and listen via the audiobook:
It is a bit of a luxury to have a book in hand whilst I’m listening to an audiobook of the same book – as generally I colour as I’m listening to audiobooks to better help me ‘tune into the narrator’s voice’ however, there are times where I’ve been blessed to have both the book and the audiobook – this particular time round, I wasn’t expecting to have the audiobook which became an unexpected blessing. What drew me into the novel itself though – aside from the fact I overlooked not being able to read or listen to the first novel in the series (as I couldn’t source a copy from either my libraries and/or Scribd until it was too late to listen to “The Lost Power” – which is currently available on audiobook via Scribd) is the fact this is a Contemporary Thriller.
I’ve been reading Technothrillers and Contemporary Thrillers for a long while – in fact, I have the tendency of either reading them and/or seeing them on film or through a tv series. I still remember what it was like to see “Sneakers” for the first time starring Robert Redford (at the time of release!). This has been compared to Indiana Jones and by extension I would believe it might suit audiences of Lara Croft – though for me, Croft is Angelina Jolie’s role as she owned it so dearly well. Plus the only Dr Jones for me is Harrison Ford. Those were the nudges of what the story would be about prior to reading and listening to Solstice Shadows and why I was drawn into the premise.
After reading and hearing Tim Campbell narrate the story I can summarise the book in this way:
As the story begins on the premise of supercomputers and super conductors, a vague memory came back to me about this as I have read and seen other stories which talk about this part of technology. It is intriguing in some ways as it involves quantum computing on a superspeed level of accuracy and computation. Generally I enjoy reading about Quantum Physics, Quantum Mechanics and Supersymmetry – as it applies to AstroPhysics and beyond – however, when it comes to supercomputers and the speed in which information is both processed and assessed and then used by those who are behind the computer(s) themselves leads into a very cunningly thesis on how far afield technology is leading us and how much of ourselves and our privacy might be put into questionable risk therein.
Yet, instead of feeling invested in the pursuit of this technology, I spent my time trying to sort out the characters and the overall scope of the story instead. There are a lot of information dumps in this novel where you feel like there is a reason you’re being shown all of these scenes but they don’t quite interconnect the way I’d had hoped they would. I was left with more questions than answers and somewhere in the mix, I started to lose traction with the overall plot and the reason I first thought this might sound interesting to read.
DA VINCI CODE meets TOMB RAIDER in this multi-award-winning thriller series.
A computer-app designer. An encrypted relic. Can she decipher the dangerous code before extremists trigger a high-tech apocalypse?
Software expert Maddy Marshall isn't sure she's ready for a hazardous role in black ops. But when an armed Russian thief makes off with a rare ancient star chart, the aikido black belt has no choice but to join her VanOps boyfriend and twin brother in the pursuit. If her royal Spanish family legends are true, the chart leads to a superconductive treasure trove capable of powering a quantum computer used as the ultimate instrument of global destruction.
Setting off on a mad dash to uncover the secrets of a Mexican archeoastronomy site, she and the VanOps team unearth a clue dating back to biblical times. But as they race across the globe to the Sahara, Turkey, and Egypt, they find themselves only a half-step ahead of sinister assassins.
Before millions die at the hands of an anti-American Russian government, can Maddy crack the secret code?
Length: 9 hours and 28 minutes and 25 seconds (unabridged)
The VanOps Series:
SOLSTICE SHADOWS is the second book in the fast-paced, multi-award-winning VanOps thriller series. If you enjoy smart edge-of-your-seat suspense such as James Rollins THE LAST ODYSSEY, the Sean Wyatt series by Ernest Dempsey, the NOWHERE MAN by Gregg Hurwitz, ORIGIN by Dan Brown, Steve Berry’s Cotton Malone series, the Atlee Pine series by David Baldacci, or THE ORACLE by Clive Cussler, you’ll stay up late turning the pages of Avanti Centrae’s high-stakes novel.
VANOPS: THE LOST POWER was an instant Barnes and Noble best seller. A rare multi-award-winning novel, it took home a genre grand prize blue ribbon at the 2017 Chanticleer International Book Awards, an Honorable Mention at the 2018 Hollywood Book Festival, and a shiny bronze medal at the 2019 Wishing Shelf Book Awards.
Available Formats: Trade Paperback, Audiobook and Ebook
Converse via: #Contemporary #Thriller as well as #VanOps and #SolsticeShadows
About Avanti Centrae
International award-winning author who blends intrigue, history, science, and mystery into non-stop action thrillers.
Avanti Centrae is the author of the international multi-award-winning VANOPS thriller series. An instant #1 Barnes and Noble Nook bestseller, THE LOST POWER took home a genre grand prize ribbon at the Chanticleer International Book Awards, a shiny bronze medal at the Wishing Shelf Awards, and an Honorable Mention at the Hollywood Book Festival. Her father served as a U.S. marine corporal in Okinawa, gathering military intelligence during the first decade after the Korean War. Her work has been compared to that of James Rollins, Steve Berry, Dan Brown, and Clive Cussler. She resides in Northern California with her family and German shepherds.
Visit the author's website - First six chapters FREE!
Sign up for special offers and giveaways!!
Acquired Audiobook By: I started to listen to audiobooks in  as a way to offset my readings of print books whilst noting there was a rumour about how audiobooks could help curb chronic migraines as you are switching up how your reading rather than allowing only one format to be your bookish choice. As I found colouring and knitting agreeable companions to listening to audiobooks, I have embarked on a new chapter of my reading life where I spend time outside of print editions of the stories I love reading and exchange them for audio versions. Through hosting for the Audiobookworm I’ve expanded my knowledge of authors who are producing audio versions of their stories whilst finding podcasters who are sharing their bookish lives through pods (ie. AudioShelf and Talking Audiobooks; see my sidebar). Meanwhile, I am also curating my own wanderings in audio via my local library who uses Overdrive for their digital audiobook catalogue whilst making purchase requests for audio CDs. It is a wonderful new journey and one I enjoy sharing – I am hoping to expand the percentage of how many audios I listen to per year starting in 2018.
Similar to the blog tour for the sixth novel of the #KayHunter series, the blog tour review copies are being provided directly by the author off-site from Audible. The key reason I decided to not accept the review copies from “Gone to Ground”, “Bridge to Burn”, “Cradle to Grave” and “Turn to Dust” is because the new format is mostly directed for mobile listeners and I do not listen to audiobooks in that style of format. Eventually as I want to have a full set of all the Kay Hunter installments – I will be purchasing the ones I am missing from Audible to house them all in one place unless I find them available on mp3 CD – until then, I was able to join this lovely blog tour because the audiobooks are readily available via Scribd! For which, I am especially grateful as I can continue to listen to one of my beloved and favourite Crime Drama series!
Thereby my copy of “Turn to Dust” is self-provided through my subscription to Scribd rather than being provided with a complimentary copy of the story. Thereby, I am choosing to participate on the audiobook tour, sharing my ruminations with my readers for my own edification but also, as a continuation of a reader’s love for a dramatic crime serial. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
What hooked me into the eighth installment of this series “Cradle to Grave”:
When you first begin Cradle to Grave, the title itself was percolating round my mind a bit – as I being a ready listener to the series now, I knew it was murmuring a glimpse of a hint towards the central plot of the story. I hadn’t caught on to what it implied – as I went a different direction in my mind than what was ultimately revealled but I liked where Amphlett took her motivation to tell the story and how that served a central arc of exploration as it was quite a perceptive point of entry once you realise what it is referencing directly.
You get spoilt by how quickly you are inserted into these detective’s lives – where you forget that they have emotional baggage of their own and that for some of them, certain cases are going to affect their mental health moreso than others. This was the case I felt for Gavin who was taking this case especially hard as each time he attempted to make any kind of lead-way, he was being confounded by more dead ends. For a case which felt time sensitive, it was not the kind of process a detective could resolve in their heart of hearts – not when a missing child needed to be found sooner than later.
Happily as we are quite a far afield into the series now – Kay isn’t the only perspective we are focusing on now. Other characters are stepping forward into the foreground – where they can take the ‘lead’ focus for different sequences whilst Kay is still actively working the case in the background and/or delegating her other duties given the role Sharpe appointed her as she’s not just a lead investigator now. This became my mainstay of joy for Cradle to Grave – getting to hear the other characters have more ‘on-scene’ time in your ears – as they are beautifully developed by Ms Campbell and they are lovingly etched out by Ms Amphlett. Due to this the series feels fuller somehow as the team isn’t just a ragtag family of investigators – but they feel authentically true to themselves and the nature of their jobs.
One note of interest to reveal – as I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about the shift in points-of-view from what was previously established early-on in the Kay Hunter series? Amphlett used to feature the villains in her stories on such a high level of disclosure, it was always a bit hard to progress through those passages because of how dark the story felt whilst you were in those sections of the audiobooks. Campbell did well to pull you through them – but there was a point where I noticed there was a general shift to re-establish the series back into the police perspective and keep this more anchoured in a dramatic crime focused through the police procedural thread of interest moreso than in re-shifting off Kay and the villains themselves.
By this installment, I can tell the switch was well-timed because it establishes what I loved about watching Rizzoli and Isles – you feel more connected to the detectives themselves and as such, the series re-evolves itself to be even more emotionally centred on their lives rather than just focusing in on how their solving the cases which test their strengths and their patience to solve the impossible on a time-clock which is constantly working against them.
When the body of a naked man is found in the middle of a barren field, a rural community is left in shock - and fear.
Discovering that someone is offering money in return for information about the dead man and anyone connected to him, Detective Kay Hunter realises there is a dark side to the victim’s past. When a key witness disappears and a web of deceit and lies threatens to derail the investigation, she fears the worst. Can Kay and her team of detectives find out who is behind the man’s murder before another victim is targeted?
Before turning to writing, Rachel Amphlett played guitar in bands, worked as a TV and film extra, dabbled in radio as a presenter and freelance producer for the BBC, and worked in publishing as a sub-editor and editorial assistant.
She now wields a pen instead of a plectrum and writes crime fiction and spy novels, including the Dan Taylor espionage novels and the Detective Kay Hunter series.
Originally from the UK and currently based in Brisbane, Australia, Rachel cites her writing influences as Michael Connelly, Lee Child, and Robert Ludlum. She’s also a huge fan of Peter James, Val McDermid, Robert Crais, Stuart MacBride, and many more.
She’s a member of International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association, with the Italian foreign rights for her debut novel, White Gold sold to Fanucci Editore's TIMECrime imprint, and the first four books in the Dan Taylor espionage series contracted to Germany’s Luzifer Verlag.