Publication date: April 8th 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads Long ago Miren O'Malley's family prospered due to a deal struck with t...




Publication date: April 8th 2021

Long ago Miren O'Malley's family prospered due to a deal struck with the Mer: safety for their ships in return for a child of each generation. But for many years the family have been unable to keep their side of the bargain and have fallen into decline. Miren's grandmother is determined to restore their glory, even at the price of Miren's freedom.

A spellbinding tale of dark family secrets, magic and witches, and creatures of myth and the sea; of strong women and the men who seek to control them.
 

 
When I first read the blurb for All The Murmuring Bones, I thought "Gothic mermaids? Yes, please." However, the story that I got did not line up with the story I was expecting. There are three separate plotlines throughout. There's the history of the O'Malley family, the mystery of  Miren O'Malley's parentage, and last—but certainly, not least—a dash of the fantasy and the deal struck with the Mer. We get a taste of the former and the latter in the beginning as a third-person narrator matter-of-factly tells us just where the O'Malley's came from and where they have now landed. Generations of O'Malley's have had children and sacrificed them in exchange for wealth. 

"One for the house, one for the church, and one for the sea."

A once prosperous and highly regarded family, they now are down to Miren and her grandmother Aoife in a dilapidated shell of the once rich estate. Expected now to marry a very cruel man to rescue the estate, Miren yearns for her freedom and for answers and sets off to find them.
 
I'll admit I found the pacing a bit odd. The prologue immediately draws you in with its fairytale feel, then abruptly drops you into Miren's life where nothing is really happening. There are drips and drops of fantasy elements in the beginning like corpsewights seen by Miren on the way to town and a cursed blanket. Those elements kept me turning pages for more but honestly felt disconnected from the story. You almost forget at times the world-building isn't simply historical until the author casually mentions trolls or some other mythical creature.  Instead of immersing me into the story, these bits brought me out of it instead since I'd forgotten that this world had magic. 

Another unfortunate flaw is while the story is very character-driven, I didn't care enough for Miren to be interested in her escape and life on the road and almost DNF'd more than once. When the reader is supposed to care about the journey and less about the destination, it's difficult when the character is dull as dishwater. I wanted to see character growth but it never reached the pinnacle I expected.

There's no denying the gothic elements. There are not one but two decaying manors. Family secrets around every turn. There is beautiful prose throughout and some fantastic imagery. The author excels at lush descriptive language. There are so many moments of fairytale goodness but it's interspersed throughout and doesn't feel cohesive. However, the second half of the novel completely changed and has a entirely different feel. It's dark and enchanting and satisfied my dark fairytale-loving soul. 

If you want character-driven fiction, you'll probably love the journey with Miren. If you are reading this expecting a whole lot of mermaid fantasy action, I think you'll be disappointed. It's also touted as a very feminist novel but it almost goes to the other side. Men are vilified or disregarded, including a later romance for Miren. This is one of those reads that you'll feel strongly about. You're either going to love it or be bored to tears. 







Today's Author Spotlight is author Payne Schanski! Read on for the full interview. Publication date: March 16th, 2021 Amazon |  Goodre...


Today's Author Spotlight is author Payne Schanski!

Read on for the full interview.


Publication date: March 16th, 2021


For fifteen-year-old JB, life couldn't get much worse.

He's been grounded for six months after making a huge mistake that's ruined his reputation, and now his life consists of going to school and coming straight home: no more basketball games or adventures with his friends. The word "fun" seems to have been erased from his life, and he's lost all hope-that is, until he hears about a legendary abandoned house in a secluded area called Five Mile Creek, buried deep within the forests of Northern Michigan. The house is known by the locals to be haunted. Curious and fearless, JB rallies an unpredictable group of misfits to make a journey to the house one cold February night-even though he knows he's on the brink of making the same life-altering mistake again. However, what the amateur ghost hunters encounter is far from anything they could have imagined, and all of them are there for reasons of their own, and with a lot at stake. For JB, solving this mystery means facing the decisions that continue to haunt his soul.

Containing echoes of classic '80s films such as Stand by Me and The Breakfast Club, The Ghost of Five Mile Creek is, at its heart, an unflinching and authentic take on growing up. While wrestling with the always brewing inner storm of adolescence, the characters-all on the edge of adulthood, with childhood's idealism slipping from their respective grasps-crave greater answers about the mysteries of life and death, and about who they are as they form their own identities and images. At the heart of this funny, insightful, and profound book are several core questions: Should we allow our pasts to haunt us? Can the harsh reality of death bring any clarity on how we wish to live our lives? And lastly, are all mistakes truly "mistakes," or do they hold something deeper than shame?...


Can you start out by telling us a little about your latest work? 

'Ghost' is my first YA novel, and at its heart, I consider it just a true and authentic take on a fifteen-year-old boy trying to navigate high school--figuring out who he is and who he wants to be. JB has been punished for an entire school year for some mistakes he made over the summer, but when he hears some of his classmates talking about this legendary 'haunted' house and planning an excursion to it, he can't help himself from wanting to go.

Along the way, I wanted JB to face a bit of a reckoning with the decisions he made to put him in his current predicament. I made sure to put him in position to face people from his past one-on-one and see whether he's grown at all (along with one from his future--though he doesn't know that yet).

The odd crew is out trying to unravel the mysteries behind the abandoned house, but at a certain point in the night, their interactions with each other become more important, and the 'ghost' takes a bit of a backseat. In many ways, I consider it something of a cross between "The Breakfast Club" and "Stand By Me" for that reason.

Where did you get the inspiration to write this story?

Part of it is from my own experiences growing up in Northern Michigan; another large part is from my years working with middle school and high school students in a youth enrichment program.

Observing adolescence when you're not the one going through it is endlessly interesting--for instance, the fragile social dynamics, the constant swirl of rumors and how hard it can be to sort out the truth. One thing that I think is universal at that age is making countless mistakes, but ultimately just wanting to do well, find your place, and make someone proud of you.

Which of your characters was your favorite to write and why?

Jennie, because she starts off as such a side character, but becomes more and more influential as the night goes on. She is little bit older than the boys and in a different social orbit than them. She's able to get away with certain things too, which puts them in awe of her to an extent early on. Jennie turns out to be a far different person than the main character expects, and I think readers will enjoy building both respect and sympathy for her as the story progresses.

Do you have any writing superstitions?

Most of my best ideas come while I'm shooting hoops by myself. The quiet repetition and peace of just playing a game that I love for no reason besides enjoyment turns that act into a creative space for me. You'll even see that aspect hit the page as basketball is a happy place that the character JB adopts as well and where he feels most calm and at home.

What are you currently reading?

I'm currently rereading 'Down and Out In Paris and London' by George Orwell, whle waiting on a fresh Amazon book order to arrive. Haven't been able to start any of these yet, but here is the upcoming list:
The Great Santini, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, The Adventures of Pinocchio, Burmese Days

A lot of authors have a soundtrack while writing. Are there are songs you had on repeat?

Not with this book necessarily, but definitely for the next two that I've been working on. I would go for a week or two at a time, just playing the same five or six songs while I wrote, to the point where those artists even have an influence on how the story itself develops.

Artists I had on repeat at various times: Suede, Ariana Grande, The Weeknd, J. Cole, M83, Oasis, Mariah Carey, The Stone Roses, probably others that I'm not thinking of at the moment.

Would you rather live in a haunted mansion or a cottage surrounded by fairytale creatures?

Despite the contents of 'The Ghost of Five Mile Creek', I'd still probably go with the fairytale creatures--not the evil ones though.

Are you on social media and can your readers interact with you? What are your links?

Yes, I have an Instagram account that's still very much in its infancy. I'll post about books that I'm currently reading, things that I'm writing, share (brag about...?) little victories along the way, show things that inspire me or my work. Readers are definitely encouraged to interact with me; I'm always excited to give book recommendations to people based on their personalities and interests.

Follow me @payneschanski_writer and introduce yourself!

Do you have a WIP? If so, can you tell us anything about it?

I have two more books in the JB series that are on their way. 'Ghost' has a strange position in that I wrote it first, but it's actually the middle book of a three part series. I wasn't necessarily trying to be 'experimental' or doing some sort of Star Wars style chronology... it was just the first plot that I was able to fully form so I ran with it!


Payne Schanski has worked as an educator, coach, and mentor for middle school and high school students over the past decade. Working closely with these students has meant revisiting the fears, insecurities, and mistakes that make adolescence the turbulent learning experience that it is. These observations, as well as the author’s own experiences growing up in Northern Michigan, inspired him to write The Ghost of Five Mile Creek, his debut novel. The Ghost of Five Mile Creek is the middle book of a three-part series, along with the soon-to-be released Blue Houses on the Peninsula and Redemption Summer. His other writing includes humor pieces featured at 'The Toast' and 'Slackjaw' and as a Detroit Lions blogger for 'SideLion Report'. After eight years living in Boston, Schanski recently moved back to Northern Michigan with his wife, Cathy AuGuste Schanski. He enjoys playing tennis and basketball in his free time. 


Payne, thank you so much for being a guest on Cats Luv Coffee Book Reviews!

Publication date: June 4th, 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads T he Banished have returned, and they will have their revenge. Zanna Alpenwood...

In Solitude's Shadow ebook (1)

Publication date: June 4th, 2021


The Banished have returned, and they will have their revenge. Zanna Alpenwood, a powerful mage, stands atop Solitude’s walls staring down at an army bent on invasion. Two hundred aged and forgotten Sparkers are all that stand between the Banished and the nation of Haltveldt. With time running out, Zanna is forced to reach out to her estranged daughter, Calene, and set her on an impossible quest. In doing so Calene must decide between her masters and her own conscience, as she teams up with unlikely allies to forge their way over land and sea. Will they arrive in time to save the fortress of Solitude from destruction? Only one thing is certain. Ruin is assured if Solitude falls.   


Excerpt


The moon hid behind the highest rise of the Peaks of Eternity. Black clouds hung heavy in the sky. Zanna’s senses felt dull. They told her there should still have been rain. A storm with thunder and lightning. Instead, it felt as though the night held its breath. “Master?” Arlo asked, his voice subdued as he stared out over the walls. “Does the darkness scare you?”
“You get used to it,” Zanna replied, putting an arm around his shoulders.
“No, I mean tonight. There’s something… odd.”Zanna glanced at him. She felt it too. The night held a strange quality. All too quiet, but a tense quivering underpinned the silence. Feeling eyes on her, she scanned the rampart and saw they were alone. At first, she thought it her imagination, but faint sounds drifted to her. The sound of whispers that lingered at the edge of her hearing.
“You’re right, Arlo,” she said, gazing across the ramparts. Lit braziers dotted the walls that ran a half-mile in each direction. She drew their flames inside her, the sensation thrilling her. Arlo’s eyes widened at the depth of her power. Zanna kept pulling fire into her, her limbs filling with warmth, heat, power. It made her feel alive, to the point she wanted to keep drawing, to not let go. A struggle every Sparker contended with.
“We need light.”
Quivering with energy and almost at her limit, Zanna lifted her hands to the skie sand unleashed a fountain of flame across the heavens, lighting up the plains for miles below them.
“Oh, teeth of the gods,” she whispered, taking in the sight below before darkness swallowed the flames. She turned to Arlo. The colour had drained from his face and tears filled his wide, blue eyes. His fingers dug into the stone ramparts as he gripped the wall.
“Raas preserve us. Get Protector Garet. Run. Can you do that?”
Arlo nodded and shot away, leaving Zanna alone. She looked out over the ramparts again. The darkness hid them as they spilled over the distant hills. An army marched across the slate plains towards Solitude. Thousands of them. The Banished were coming. And less than two hundred Sparkers, with a single apprentice, stood in their way.

 

About the Author 


David Green David Green is a writer of dark fiction. Born in Manchester, UK and living in Galway, Ireland, David grew up with gloomy clouds above his head, and rain water at his feet, which has no doubt influenced his dark scribblings. David is the author of the Pushcart Prize nominated novelette Dead Man Walking, and is excited for his fantasy series, Empire of Ruin, debuting in June 2021 from Eerie River Publishing. 


For a chance to win a $25 Amazon e-Gift Card, click the link below! 


InSolitudesShadow

Book Tour Schedule

June 14th

Reads & Reels (Guest Post) http://readsandreels.com

Cats Luv Coffee (Spotlight) https://catsluvcoffee.com

Nesie’s Place (Spotlight) https://nesiesplace.wordpress.com

I Smell Sheep (Spotlight) http://www.ismellsheep.com/

June 15th

Book Dragons Not Worms (Spotlight) https://bookdragonsnotworms.blogspot .com/?m=1

Breakeven Books (Spotlight) https://breakevenbooks.com

Dark Whimsical Art (Spotlight) https://www.darkwhimsicalart.com/blogs/ news

Scarlett Readz & Runz (Spotlight) https://scarlettreadzandrunz.com/

June 16th

Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com/

@swimming.in.books (Review) https://www.instagram.com/swimming.in .books/

@dreaminginpages (Review) https://www.instagram.com/dreaminginpag es/

June 17th

I Love Books & Stuff (Spotlight) https://ilovebooksandstuffblog.wordpress.c om

The Faerie Review (Spotlight) http://www.thefaeriereview.com

June 18th

@disneyallthe_way (Review) https://www.instagram.com/disneyallthe_ way/

Phantom of the Library (Review) https://phantomofthelibrary.com/

Sophril Reads (Spotlight) http://sophrilreads.wordpress.com

The Magic of Wor(l)ds (Spotlight) http://themagicofworlds.wordpress.com

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Publication date: June 9th, 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads N ot all gifts are a blessing. Some are a curse. When Amelia turned 12, she be...


Publication date: June 9th, 2021


Not all gifts are a blessing. Some are a curse.

When Amelia turned 12, she began growing pearls. Every month, a crop of beautiful pearls bursts from the skin on her back. Her mother, Denise, believes her daughter is blessed, and sells the pearls to put food on the table. Amelia sees her condition as a curse. As the pearls form, her body aches and her skin grows feverish. The harvest of pearls brings temporary relief from the pain, but leaves her back marred by scars. Denise hides Amelia away from the world, worried that Amelia’s gift will be discovered and she will be abducted for the wealth she can provide. Now a young woman, Amelia realizes she has become her mother’s captive, and plans her escape. When she runs away from home, she finds a new family in a troupe of performers at a museum of human oddities. She soon discovers the world is much more dangerous than her mother feared.


Read now


Body horror and the female body
by Melissa Eskue ousley

I love stories where magic comes with a price. I was thinking about that concept as I wrote
Constellations of Scars, which is about a girl who grows pearls under her skin. A gift like that would be both a blessing and a curse. You could sell the pearls and become wealthy, but the act of growing the pearls would take a toll. It would be painful and leave your skin marred by scars. It would also be a dangerous gift, because if the wrong people found out about it, they might exploit you to enrich themselves.

I paired Amelia’s gift of growing pearls with her menstrual cycle because it seemed logical to link the phenomenon to hormones and a monthly occurrence. To stay true to the story, I needed to describe the process of growing pearls in a way that was both magical and realistic, that gave a sense of the pain and horror that a person would experience if they had to go through that every month.

But how much horror is too much? There’s a fine line between evoking horror and keeping readers engaged, and pushing that boundary so far the reader becomes disgusted and is turned off by the story. That line is subjective. Every reader has different limits when it comes to horror.

On the other hand, the human experience—growing older, dealing with illness, wrestling with one’s own mortality—is full of horror. In the end, that’s what Constellations of Scars is about: what it means to be human. Amelia’s experience, and the experiences of some of the other characters in the story who have physical oddities, may be different than that of most human beings, but suffering is universal. We all know what it’s like to experience pain and hardship. In that sense, horror is a shared experience.

Melissa Eskue Ousley is an award-winning author living on the Oregon coast with her family, a neurotic dog, two charming cats, and a piranha. Her suspense novel, Pitcher Plant, is set in Seaside, and won a 2018 Independent Publisher Book Award. Her young adult novel, Sunset Empire, debuted in a bestselling boxed set. Her short stories have been included in Rain Magazine, The North Coast Squid, and various anthologies. When she’s not writing, she can be found volunteering for her local wildlife center, caring for injured owls and hawks.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter


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Today's Author Spotlight is author Kelsey Sather ! Read on for the full interview. Publication date: March 8th, 2021 Amazon |  Goodrea...


Today's Author Spotlight is author Kelsey Sather !

Read on for the full interview.


Publication date: March 8th, 2021

Over millennia, across the seven seterras of Aligaea, twelve women—the Anima—develop powers akin to apex predators. Along with their bestial strength and speed, they inherit the Task to restore ecological Order to the world. Yet fulfilling the Task seems improbable as the Imperium spreads a plague of ecocide and despotism across the land, ushering in the apocalypse with its infectious Disorder.

Stout and smart Freda Johansson leaves behind a promising career, love, and community to seek the red-capped mushroom capable of turning her into the final Anima. Whether it's plant magic or free will guiding her from emerald forests to austere peaks, she doesn't care. She only needs to find the mushroom before the Imperial Forces can seal the catastrophic fate of the planet.

The sacred balance of Life depends on the birth of the Anima—but even then, she must choose to own her powers as both woman and wild beast.


Where did you get the inspiration to write this story?


The idea for the Ancient Language of the Earth trilogy began as a question. I was pursuing a Master’s in Environmental Humanities, and my course work involved a lot of depressing research about the ecological crisis we find ourselves in. I often wondered how, and why, humans became disconnected from the natural world that sustains us. One night, I wrote in my journal, what would it feel like to live fully, truly, as a human animal? The concept of the Anima grew from there.

When you developed the characters, did you already know who they were before you began writing or did they develop organically?


As many fiction authors will attest to, the process of creating characters is mysterious and organic. My characters reveal themselves to me at their leisure, and I’ll spend hours free-writing in an effort to get to know them better. It’s not unlike a relationship with a new friend: it takes time to understand a person, and even then, the person will continue to surprise us decades later. I connect most with Elle and Freda, as I’ve spent the most time with them. .

Which of your characters was your favorite to write and why?


I connect most with Elle and Freda, as I’ve spent the most time with them. Elle is like a beloved little 
sister to me, while I consider Freda an inner mentor.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned (about your story, about yourself, etc.) while writing?


Such a great question! I studied nonfiction (environmental writing) in school, and while I’ve always loved reading fiction, especially fantasy, Birth of the Anima is my first project as a fiction writer. I was surprised to learn how mysterious and organic the fiction writing process proves to be. Characters become real people, and they constantly surprise me in making their own decisions, despite my efforts to “control” the story.

What is one of your favorite words? OR Is there a word you find yourself using too often?


I love nouns that lend themselves to verbs and adjectives through the qualities that noun exhibits. My favorite example of such a word is squirrel.


If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?


Woofta. So many things, but mainly: practice patience and faith. Show up consistently, hone your craft with intention, and let go of the need for external validation. Or as Deepak Chopra said, “If you focus on success, you’ll have stress. But if you pursue excellence, success will be guaranteed.”

Are you on social media and can your readers interact with you? What are your links?


My website and newsletter are the best way to stay up to date on my upcoming releases: https://kelseyksather.com/

I also love interacting with readers on my Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kelseyksather/

Do you have a favorite line that you've written? What is it and why do you like it?


I don’t have a favorite, but there is a line from the first version of Birth of the Anima that survived eight years of ruthless editing. It reads, “Elle took the long way to work.” It’s a simple sentence, nothing special on a surface-level, but its meaning runs deep in Elle’s story. Elle resists her inner power, and in so doing, she prolongs engaging with her life’s true work.

Do you have a WIP? If so, can you tell us anything about it?


Yes! I'm currently writing Book Two in the Ancient Language of the Earth trilogy.

Thanks so much for participating in the Author Spotlight! Anything you'd like to add?


My hope is that readers discover, or rather rediscover, their kinship with ‘other,’ both human and non, and feel deeply compelled to help create a just and ecologically sound world. Thank you for featuring me and helping me spread that message!


KELSEY K. SATHER lives in Montana. Her stories explore the complexities of human-nature interconnections. While an author of nonfiction essays for over a decade, fantasy remains her first and true love. She received an MA in Environmental Humanities from the University of Utah. At the University of Montana, she received the Davidson Honors College Scholar Distinction in Creative Writing and Environmental Studies. When she’s not writing, she can usually be found in the mountains.

Connect with Kelsey K. Sather on her website and Instagram.

Birth of the Anima is available at independent bookstores, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.

Kelsey, thank you so much for being a guest on Cats Luv Coffee Book Reviews!

Publication date: May 21st, 2021 Publisher: Eerie River Publishing Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads P repare to die. The sea awakens. Within the...



Publication date: May 21st, 2021
Publisher: Eerie River Publishing


Prepare to die. The sea awakens.

Within the Mariana Trench, a research vessel’s crew is threatened by a mysterious force. A father and daughter’s holiday by the ocean turns deadly as a sinister creature stalks them. A group of friends learn that some things should remain in the ocean. Filled with a sense of wonder, a young biologist discovers a new species of kelp, but with disastrous consequences.

It Calls From the Sea is an all-original anthology of twenty brutal tales of horror from the deep blue sea.

Eerie River brings you another round of insatiable horror. There is no end to the terrors we have in store and there is nowhere left to hide. Get comfy, this is going to be a wild ride.

Featuring Stories:
Chris Bannor “Euphoria”
Chris Hewitt “Reef Encounter” 
Christopher Bond “The Ocean Sings Softly”
Dan Le Fever “Xook”
David Green “Into The Depths”
Georgia Cook “Dead Ships”
Holley Cornetto “Heaven’s Lake”
Julie Sevens “Shoney’s Revenge”
Lin Darrow “Cry of the Hunger Fish”, M.B.Vujacic “Jelly”
Mason Gallaway, “The Sea Reaches Up”
McKenzie Richardson “The Hunter and the Prey”
R. L. Meza “Long Pork”
S.O. Green “The Shadow Over Innsmouth High”
Steve Neal “Hostile Territory”
T. M. Brown “Buoy 21415”
Tim Mendees “Fronds”
Trey Dowell “Abyssal Horror”
Watt Morgan “Please Leave”





Dead Ships by Georgia Cook

It washed up at dawn, drawn in on the morning tide from around the curve of the bay; a fishing boat, small enough for a cabin and a crew of three, but of no make or name we recognized. It curved gently towards the beach, its path haphazard and aimless, engines silent and windows dark. By the time it hit the shingle and plowed to a juddering halt a small crowd of us had gathered on the dockside to watch. 
There’s something about an empty boat--something dragged in off the tide like that, all slow and sedate--you get to feeling it after a certain time at sea, like a second sense. That’s why none of the old fishermen made a move when it finally came to rest; they already knew what we’d find. 
Perhaps it started with the snow.
Great, driving fistfuls were we got that month; merciless, relentless, day after day. A frigid wind howled it down off the clifftops, swamping the roads and transforming the surrounding hills into impenetrable, white monoliths. Nobody arrived in town, nobody left; that’s how things go around here come winter.
There’s a saying in these parts that it takes a special kind of madness to move here from out of town, and another kind to stay. The seas and the cold breed a particular type of person--it settles in the bones, then squeezes the lungs; sharp and cloying in every breath. This far north the cold is bitter. Or perhaps it started before that, and none of us noticed. 
Some of us tried to sail that week, but only made it as far as the curve of the bay before we were forced to turn back. Battered by the gale and the driving snow, there was no thought of casting our nets. Cutting through the snow was like cutting through ice; nothing in either direction but tumbling flakes and shifting, black sea. 
We watched the snow fall, watched it settle on the water and sink, and out of it all we watched the boat arrive. 
Philip Abernathy was the first to climb abroad, shimmying up the side like a boy climbing a drainpipe. Twenty-three that May--newly promoted, the youngest Constable in a town of sturdy fishermen and grey-faced old men--possibly he felt it his duty to take charge, or at very least be the first to check. He was, after all, vastly on his own up here until the snows cleared and the mountain roads became accessible again.  
He’d been our Constable for all of two months, and up until then had contended with nothing worse than the odd Drunk and Disorderly on a Saturday night. It was too cold, too dark, to expect any trouble worth hurrying for.  
He disappeared inside the captain’s cabin, calling nervously, then stumbled out a moment later and was violently sick over the side.  
The old fishermen knew, and now we knew too: no ship so silent has ever been manned by the living.
Once he’d been helped down, pale and trembling, Abernathy directed a few of us up to find the body. It was slumped across the wheel, he said, tilting back and forth with the rock of the ship, its boots dragging in a slow, steady rut across the floorboards. It might have been a man once, but that was an estimated guess. It no longer had a face, just a slumped, desiccated skeleton. 
Its hands, Philip whispered, its hands were clasped so tightly to the wheel. So tightly he couldn’t pry them open.
We found the rest of the crew below deck.
There’s a reason so many fishing communities boast smokeries and salt houses; salted things keep. Salted things keep for a long time, and add to that the conditions of an arctic winter...

 
It Calls From the Sea is a new anthology by Eerie River Publishing containing "brutal tales of horror from the deep blue sea". I was excited for this collection, having a personal fear of the oceans—due to my cousin getting wrapped up in a Portuguese Man-O-War when I was very little. That, and let's be honest, growing up in the "Jaws" generation. There's something about not knowing what's in the deep waters underneath your feet that can send shivers up your spine. Or even worse, knowing what actually is! What better to read than a themed collection about one of the things that truly terrifies me. 

Containing twenty tales from twenty different authors, this collection of watery horrors has a little something for everyone. There's killer kelp, menacing mermaids, elder gods, family curses, and all things in between. Honestly I'm amazed at the variety of the stories while still keeping with the aquatic theme. Mythology from multiple pantheons, body horror, tales of revenge, and maritime monstrosities all find their way across these pages. These tales are claustrophobic, tense, and oh, so wonderful. 

Some standouts in the collection:

"The Ocean Sings Softly" by Christopher Bond - I loved this tale of a grandmother and her horrifying past. A past that is reaching out with cold dead hands to drag her granddaughter down with it. 
 
"Please Leave" by Watt Morgan - The sea gave something back this time, something that should have never drug itself out of the waters of the bay. This one creeps up little by little and had some pretty horrifying imagery that was very effective. 

“The Hunter and the Prey” by McKenzie Richardson - When a story starts with " You'd look even prettier if you smiled", I can't wait to see where it leads. The twist at the end of this one was simply marvelous. 

"Cry of the Hunger Fish" by Lin Darrow - Talk about a claustrophobic tale. This definitely gave me Edgar Allen Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart" vibes as the narrator's experience becomes more and more surreal.

"Euphoria" by Chris Banner - I adore stories about Kelpies, those water horses in Scottish folklore that drown their victims. While the author didn't reinvent the wheel, this was the perfect horror version of one of my favorite creatures. 

Eerie River Publishing has also put out collections It Calls From the Forest (Vol 1 and Vol. 2) and It Calls From the Sky. Considering this strong collection of works, I will definitely be adding those others to my TBR.


ItCallsFromTheSea(nonames)


Book Tour Schedule

June 7th

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com

The Consulting Writer (Review) https://theconsultingwriter.wordpress.com/

@jypsylynn (Review) https://www.instagram.com/jypsylynn/

Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com/

June 8th

Books, Rambling & Tea (Spotlight) https://booksramblingsandtea.com/

Lunarian Press (Spotlight) https://www.lunarianpress.com/

Jennifer Mitchell, Bibliolater (Review) https://jennifermitchellbooks.com/

Banshee Irish Horror Blog (Review) http://bansheeirishhorrorblog.com/

Rambling Mads (Review) http://ramblingmads.com

June 9th

The Invisible Moth (Review) https://daleydowning.wordpress.com

Stine Writing (Review) https://christinebialczak.com/

Phantom of the Library (Review) https://phantomofthelibrary.com/

Catz Luv Coffee (Review) https://catsluvcoffeez.blogspot.com

June 10th

Breakeven Books (Spotlight) https://breakevenbooks.com

@tiny.bibliophile (Review) https://www.instagram.com/tiny.bibliophile/< /a>

Musings of a Final Girl (Review) https://musingsofafinalgirl.wordpress.com/

@dreaminginpages (Review) https://www.instagram.com/dreaminginpag es/

June 11th

Sophril Reads (Spotlight) http://sophrilreads.wordpress.com

@happily_undignified (Review) https://www.instagram.com/happily_und ignified/

@amysbooknook8 (Review) https://www.instagram.com/amysbooknook 8/

I Smell Sheep (Review) http://www.ismellsheep.com/

Liliyana Shadowlyn (Review) https://lshadowlynauthor.com/

On the Shelf Reviews (Review) https://ontheshelfreviews.wordpress.com



Book Tour Organized By:  

Today's Author Spotlight is author Brett Salter! Read on for the full interview. Publication date: July 19th, 2020 Amazon |  Goodreads...


Today's Author Spotlight is author Brett Salter!

Read on for the full interview.

Publication date: July 19th, 2020

What’s REALLY hiding in the forests of the Pacific Northwest? Could it be The Tyrant King’s army of Darkbrands? Could it be more of Mr. Jones’s liaisons? Or could it be the solution to the problem vexing our favorite heroes? Whatever mystery it is, you can guarantee the boys from Georgia are sure to find themselves deep in the thick of it.


Can you start out by telling us a little about your latest work? 

I would say “The Battle For Verdana” is my best work so far. By this time in the series, we’ve collected all the main characters and gotten to know their quirks and abilities pretty well. Also, the secrets and powers of the Talismans are really beginning to unravel for the reader. Plus, there is a massive battle scene (duh, it’s in the name of the book), and the end leaves the reader on the biggest cliffhanger yet.

Where did you get the inspiration to write this story?

My mother actually dared me to write the first book as it was an idea I had a few years before the publication regarding the two main characters and the plot of the first book. From there, I liked writing so much that I just kept going. Now, I have 11 of the 12 proposed books "done" (Large air quotes there)

When you developed the characters, did you already know who they were before you began writing or did they develop organically?

Yeah, so in the beginning, I based my characters off me. Just me. I’ve known myself for a long time, and it was a small cast, so it was easy. That was therapeutic, for sure. But as the books continued and my characters grew in number, I found inspiration in outside sources such as close family and friends. I would not call it therapeutic, but I WOULD call it amusing to paint these extremely caricatured heroes with touches of the people I love. Most of my characters are just too dang goofy to be based on real people though.

Which of your characters was your favorite to write and why?

I would say my favorite character to write is Julian Rider. He’s a blast because he is totally snarky and sarcastic, but at the same time, he’s very loyal to his cause. Much like me…smiley face. Plus, his favorite word is “dude”. Also, much like me. There might be a pattern there…

What was more important to you when you were writing: character development or plot?

That's a great question. Unfortunately, they both kinda go hand in hand, don't they? You must have an engrossing plot to develop your characters. And what is a highly developed character with no plot or adventure to embark on? But, I would say I tend to lean more towards plot since I am better at world building than character development.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned (about your story, about yourself, etc.) while writing?

I learned that when I have unlimited free time, I can knock out the barebones version of a book in my series in about 1 week.  The editing process is much slower though.  Man, is it tedious??!!


In your opinion what makes a good story?


I like action in my stories. My series is full of that in spades; and suspense. I find that action keeps a reader's attention better than any other writing device. At least, it does for me.

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?


>
It hasn't. LOL. I still write just as frantically and bizarrely as ever. Basically, I try to make each book better than the previous by adding characters, lore, and bigger scenes to the plot. I HAVE found that most of the sarcasm of my youth has lessened over the years. Having kids helped that change as well.


>Do you read your book reviews? What do you consider "good" /"bad"?


Of course I do! It's great to see what others think of your work. I think constructive criticism is the best kind of help there is. I hope you like it too!

What led you to start writing?


I write for a couple reasons. 1. I feel like there is something in me that needs to “create”. I try EVERY day to “create” something which scratches that itch. In my past, I’ve been a musician and a poet. Those were great outlets for allowing that creativity bug to escape, but unfortunately, I found those to be more like fleeting diversions. Writing a book is a project that keeps the creativity pouring out for months at a time. Not that writing music and poetry is easy. It most definitely isn’t! I believe musicians and poets follow the same creative yens that authors do. I just feel like writing a series of books, creating palpable characters, and keeping all the details juggled properly is a larger-scale project with more channels for creative output.

2. I write to inspire others. I remember being a kid and reading things like The Chronicles of Narnia or The Xanth Series and being awestruck and engaged to no end. I want that! I want to inspire others to embrace that creativity gene and nurture it. I tell my kids all the time to practice being creative. Take some time to draw a battle scene of dragons or a kaleidoscope of butterflies! Construct a folded-up, 8-page comic book about a superhero you invented. Make up a dance and share it with you friends so you don’t look like the only weirdo doing it. Use the rainy days to read about new places and explore that part of your brain that dies a little each time you stare at your screens. Egon Spengler famously said, “print is dead”, but it’s not. It’s just evolved. We have more ways to share our stories now than ever. And I just want to be part of that amazing assembly.

Do you have any writing superstitions?


Nope. Not any I can think of (rubs lucky rabbit's foot aggressively). Yeah! None.


What attracted you to the genre(s) you write in?


I am a huge anime fan. And when I was younger, I read every fantasy novel I could find. So, I put the two together for my writing. This genre fits what I am trying to do perfectly.

What is one of your favorite words? OR Is there a word you find yourself using too often?


As I mentioned before....."Dude".  I can't help it.  It's just falls out of my mouth on the regular.  
In writing, I love using words to describe a vocal intonation when a person talks instead of just saying "said" or "declared".  I like to use synesthetic words like "sang" or "harmonized" to touch multiple sense of the reader.  It's for engagement, I think.  

>What are you currently reading?


"The Sirens of Titan" by Kurt Vonnegut.  (I know!)

A lot of authors have a soundtrack while writing. Are there are songs you had on repeat?


I made a Spotify playlist a while back of all the best Punk Rock I grew up with.  There's about 28 hours worth of tunes on that playlist, so, it keeps me entertained.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Start promoting waaaaaaaaaaaaaay earlier!  And hire an editor if you can't get picked up by a publisher.

What are a couple of your favorite movies to kick back with to relax?


The entire MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe).  I cannot get enough of it!  And if I want to "use my brain", anything by David Lynch.

Which animal would you say is your spirit animal and why?


Rhino.  They're fat and lazy, but when they need to get something done, they do it with alacrity and a thundering shake of the plains!

Would you rather live in a haunted mansion or a cottage surrounded by fairytale creatures?


Cottage with fairytale creatures for sure.  As long as there are no Nocturns (bad guys from my series).  Those things are living nightmares, dude!

What is something about the genre that annoys you?

There's not enough words in the English language that are synonyms for "attack"....or "dark"......or "magical".  Or "thesaurus".

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?


I LOVE to give my characters interesting quirks.  It's definitely a huge spotlight of my writing style.  For instance, I have a character that always talks in threes.  And a character that quotes lyrics most of the time when talking.  Or my favorite, a character that speaks in haikus. (He doesn't talk much.  It's tough to write in haikus, dude!)

Are you on social media and can your readers interact with you? What are your links?


Ask me anything.  I'm an open book....get it?

Do you have a favorite line that you've written? What is it and why do you like it?

I love EVERY time my character Mr. Jones makes some crazy, wild exclamation using mythological name drops like, "By the rancid stench of the Bonncon!"  Or something just as looney tunes as that.

What advice would you like to pass on to aspiring writers that is unconventional but true?


Use your influences.  That way what you love will come out in your writing.  If you like stories about ghosts, write stories about ghosts.  If you watch TV shows about unsolved crimes, make your series about unsolved mysteries.  If the coolest thing you can imagine is a boy that can secretly transform into a dragon and go on quests with a knight-in-training.....um.  Read my books!!!  And THEN go write about them.

Do you have a WIP? If so, can you tell us anything about it?


Yes.  I can!  In fact, I plan on releasing the 5th book of my proposed 12 by winter of this year!  It needs and edit or two….or three or four.  And it needs some cover art, but it should be out this year.  I can give you a little hint.  Remember when I mentioned the cliffhanger at the end of the 4th book?  Well, that DOES get resolved, but the 5th book opens so much more trouble for our heroes in the form Darkbrand threats.  Plus, we get a ton of reveals regarding the “big bad’s” plans, more Talismans, and we maybe, possibly, definitely get to visit a new dragon den???

Thanks so much for participating in the Author Spotlight! Anything you'd like to add?


I just want to add that I am genuinely appreciative of anyone who reads/has read my books.  You guys inspire me to keep at it.  You are what makes me feel cool for being kind of a big dork.  I hope that if you like my book or ANY book you read, you share it with someone else.  Opening doors for others will never get old, and it will ALWAYS be chivalrous.  Just remember to hold your Talisman tight and keep a wary eye out for portals.  Peace out!
My background in writing stems mostly from the inspiration I found as a kid when I read Fantasy and Sci-Fi books. These include The Chronicles of Narnia, The Xanth Novels, The Time Quintet, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and everything from Shakespeare to Dr. Seuss. In my formative years, I joined several punk rock bands and wrote songs, poetry, and short stories aplenty. As an adult (?) I took on a dare and wrote the first book in my Talisman Series. I loved the feeling it gave me and the idea of inspiring others so much that I kept writing until I had an entire series.

Brett, thank you so much for being a guest on Cats Luv Coffee Book Reviews!

Publication date: May 14th, 2021 Publisher: Eerie River Publishing Links: Amazon | Goodreads H OW FAR WOULD YOU GO TO GET YOUR SON BACK? Som...

Publication date: May 14th, 2021
Publisher: Eerie River Publishing
Links: Amazon | Goodreads


HOW FAR WOULD YOU GO TO GET YOUR SON BACK?

Something is lurking within the woods just beyond the young Dreyer family’s new country home. And an evil that has been hiding in plain sight for centuries is about to emerge.

A neighbor is brutally murdered, their 4-year-old son goes missing in broad daylight, and the local town of Bensalem devolves into a cesspool of finger-pointing and chaos.

With nowhere left to turn, Aaron and Ellen Dreyer are forced to venture into the woods to find their son. But in the process, they uncover a force larger and more sinister than anything they ever could have imagined.


Read now

Well, hello there! My name is Drew Starling.

I’m an author of horror and dark fiction. I love writing strong female leads and I’ll promise you one thing: the dog never dies.

If you wanted to trace back the history of my writing career, my mother would refer you to a poem I wrote about bats in a graveyard in 2 nd grade. She still has it, laminated and smashed in a binder of decades old memories from my childhood.

But I started writing horror in earnest about three years ago when something really strange happened to me.

Every year, my friends and I rent a cabin in the foothills of Shenandoah National Park. It’s really out there. No people, no towns, just trees and grass and hills. Three years ago, I arrived at the cabin straight from a trip I took to India, and I had the WORST jet lag I’ve ever had. I’d sleep all day and be awake all night.

Anyway, one night when I was lying awake, I rolled over to my side and gazed out the big front window of the bedroom I was staying in. The view overlooked a gloriously vast meadow filled with pine trees and wheatgrass, and right around 4am, when everyone else was asleep and a new dawn mist was forming in the distance, I saw this large shadowy thing slowly move across the land. I got up to look at what the thing was, but I couldn’t make it out, only to see that it was absolutely huge. It didn’t do anything crazy, it just moved – almost hovered – from one side of the meadow to the other.

After I was done being completely terrified and the sun came up, my mind ran wild with story possibilities. I scribbled an idea down on a piece of paper and recounted it to my friends that very day. Turn it into a short story! Turn it into a screenplay!

I was shocked they actually thought it was… good. So I did, and it started a little thing I was just going to post online until some fellow indie authors encouraged me to do more with it. I spent the next two years writing, and rewriting, and editing, and rewriting, and RE-rewriting, and just last week it finally saw the light of day in the form my first full length novel, Sentinel.

I’ve already got a sequel in the works, and I’m releasing a short story collection later this fall with my best short fiction to date. If you want to check out my work, I’d be utterly delighted if you gave Sentinel a try (free on KU for a limited time). 

Thanks very much, and I hope I get to scare you soon!

DS

An Amazon bestselling author of horror and dark fiction, Drew Starling is a husband and dog dad who loves strong female leads, martial arts, and long walks in the woods with canine companions. He would like to think his plots are better than his prose, but strives to make his words sound both beautiful and terrifying at the same time. He listens to Beethoven, Megadeth, and Enya when he writes, and he’d be absolutely delighted if you’d consider joining his mailing list (which you can find a link to about one and a half mouse scrolls up this page). His only rule of writing: the dog never dies.


Drew Sterling | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon



Sentinel


Book Tour Schedule

May 31st
Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com
Book Dragons Not Worms (Spotlight) https://bookdragonsnotworms.blogspot.com/?m=1
Didi Oviatt (Spotlight) https://didioviatt.wordpress.com
I Smell Sheep (Spotlight) http://www.ismellsheep.com/

June 1st
Breakeven Books (Spotlight) https://breakevenbooks.com
Dark Whimsical Art (Spotlight) https://www.darkwhimsicalart.com/blogs/news
The Magic of Wor(l)ds (Spotlight) http://themagicofworlds.wordpress.com

June 2nd
Nesie’s Place (Spotlight) https://nesiesplace.wordpress.com
Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com/
The Musings of a Final Girl (Spotlight) https://musingsofafinalgirl.wordpress.com/
Cats Luv Coffee (Guest Post) https://www.catsluvcoffee.com/

June 3rd
Scarlett Readz & Runz (Spotlight) https://scarlettreadzandrunz.com/
Liliyana Shadowlyn (Review) https://lshadowlynauthor.com/
@gin_books_crochethooks (Review) https://www.instagram.com/gin_books_crochethooks/
Cocktails & Fairy Tales (Spotlight) https://www.facebook.com/CocktailsFairytales

June 4th
@evelovesbooks_travel_art (Review) https://www.instagram.com/evelovesbooks_travel_art/
Phantom of the Library (Review) https://phantomofthelibrary.com/



Book Tour Organized By:

R&R Book Tours

Here is this month's roundup of anticipated horror releases!    The Shape of Darkness   by Laura Purcell Publication date (rerelease): J...


Here is this month's roundup of anticipated horror releases! 


 The Shape of Darkness by Laura Purcell

Publication date (rerelease): June 1st, 2021

A struggling silhouette artist in Victorian Bath seeks out a renowned child spirit medium in order to speak to the dead - and to try and identify their killers - in this beguiling new tale from the queen of Gothic fiction, Laura Purcell.

As the age of the photograph dawns in Victorian Bath, silhouette artist Agnes is struggling to keep her business afloat. Still recovering from a serious illness herself, making enough money to support her elderly mother and her orphaned nephew Cedric has never been easy, but then one of her clients is murdered shortly after sitting for Agnes, and then another, and another... Why is the killer seemingly targeting her business?

Desperately seeking an answer, Agnes approaches Pearl, a child spirit medium lodging in Bath with her older half-sister and her ailing father, hoping that if Pearl can make contact with those who died, they might reveal who killed them. But Agnes and Pearl quickly discover that instead they may have opened the door to something that they can never put back.


For the Wolf by Hannah F. Whitten

Publication date: June 1st, 2021

The first daughter is for the Throne.
The second daughter is for the Wolf.

For fans of Uprooted and The Bear and the Nightingale comes a dark fantasy novel about a young woman who must be sacrificed to the legendary Wolf of the Wood to save her kingdom. But not all legends are true, and the Wolf isn't the only danger lurking in the Wilderwood.

As the only Second Daughter born in centuries, Red has one purpose-to be sacrificed to the Wolf in the Wood in the hope he'll return the world's captured gods.

Red is almost relieved to go. Plagued by a dangerous power she can't control, at least she knows that in the Wilderwood, she can't hurt those she loves. Again.

But the legends lie. The Wolf is a man, not a monster. Her magic is a calling, not a curse. And if she doesn't learn how to use it, the monsters the gods have become will swallow the Wilderwood-and her world-whole.

The author has provided a list of content warnings here.




Publication date: June 1st, 2021
Links: Amazon | Goodreads

Sadomasochism. Obsession. Death.

A whirlpool of darkness churns at the heart of a macabre ballet between two lonely young women in an internet chat room in the early 2000s—a darkness that threatens to forever transform them once they finally succumb to their most horrific desires.

What have you done today to deserve your eyes?



Malignant Summer by Tim Meyer 

Publication date: June 1st, 2021

It’s 1998 in Hooperstown, New Jersey and people are getting sick. Some citizens blame the local chemical plant. A select few believe something far more terrifying is responsible, a dreadful force that causes nightmarish visions and aberrant illnesses. Bad things are blooming in Hooperstown, and the stench of death is growing stronger...

Standing on the edge of summer break after the longest last day of eighth grade ever, Doug Simms and his two best friends join a group of older kids for an all-night scavenger hunt. It’s supposed to be a celebration, an evening of fun and freedom. But what happens that night will change their summer in the darkest ways imaginable. And not just their summer...but their entire lives.

MALIGNANT SUMMER is a coming-of-age epic where innocence is lost and the path through adolescence is painful. Where dreamscapes merge with reality. Where love seems possible, and the best season feels like it can last forever.


City of the Creeps by Ernie Kaltenbrunner, Jr.

Publication date: June 3rd, 2021

The Crazies meets Day of the Dead, molded for a modern readership.
The virus is smart, learning as it goes, and finding opportunities to thrive.
People are changing. They’re quiet. They’re spacey. They’re harboring something foreign and looking mingle…People are biting. People are chasing. People are spreading a virus that turns even the most civilized into a creature of violence.
Can a small group of survivors make it through the day, will they survive the night?
Survive unscathed? No.
Survive unchanged? No.
Survive uncontaminated? Maybe.


Read now


Queen of the Cicadas by V. Castro


Publication date: June 22nd, 2021

2018: Belinda Alvarez has returned to Texas for the wedding of her best friend Veronica. The farm is the site of the urban legend, La Reina de Las Chicharras - The Queen of The Cicadas.

In 1950s south Texas a farmworker—Milagros from San Luis Potosi, Mexico—is murdered. Her death is ignored by the town, but not the Aztec goddess of death, Mictecacíhuatl. The goddess hears the dying cries of Milagros and creates a plan for both to be physically reborn by feeding on vengeance and worship.

Belinda and the new owner of the farmhouse, Hector, find themselves immersed in the legend and realize it is part of their fate as well.


Moon Lake by Joe R. Lansdale 

Publication date: June 22nd, 2021
Links: Goodreads


Daniel Russell was only thirteen years old when his father tried to kill them both by driving their car into Moon Lake. Miraculously surviving the crash—and growing into adulthood—Daniel returns to the site of this traumatic incident in the hopes of recovering his father's car and bones. As he attempts to finally put to rest the memories that have plagued him for years, he discovers something even more shocking among the wreckage—a twenty-year-old relic that has ties to a twisted web of dark deeds, old grudges, and strange murders.

As Daniel diligently follows where the mysterious trail of vengeance leads, he unveils the heroic revelation at its core.



Camp Neverland by Lisa Quigley 

Publication date: June 24th, 2021

Camp Neverland is special. At least that's what it said on the mysterious brochure. But when Max arrives to discover her tormentor Chuck Snyder is there, too, her hopes for a magical summer are dashed. Still, the bond she develops with her cabinmates feels almost too good to be true. And when kids start dying in gruesome ways, Max hides a frightening secret. She soon learns just how far she'll go to belong.


Read now