Monday, August 29, 2016

Weregirl by CD Bell

Author: CD Bell 
Publication Date: Nov 2016 
Publisher: Chooseco 
Age Group: YA 
Genre: Paranormal 
Pages: 400 
Format: eBook 
Source: Netgalley 
Buy the Book: Amazon | Goodreads

Eager to escape her small hometown, high school junior Nessa Kurland is focused on winning a college scholarship for cross-country running. A chance encounter with a trapped wolf while out on a run leads to powerful and frightening changes, and one day, Nessa is transformed into a full werewolf. Now Nessa must navigate the challenges of high school while coming face to face with true human darkness, as she tries to make peace with her new wild nature.

Weregirl tells the story of Nessa Kurland, high school cross-country star, who finds herself unintentionally in the middle of the centuries-old struggle between wolf and man. Only, this time, the wolf is Nessa and the men she faces will stop at nothing to cover up the devastation they've caused to her sleepy little town.

This was such an amazing read! I really loved it. Honestly, I inhaled it, I couldn't read it fast enough. The story line was so interesting and I enjoyed the way Native American shapeshifter mythology framed the story. The mythology is there, but the story wasn't overwhelmed by the how or the why like a lot of shifter stories are. The story was truly about Nessa, unlike many shifter stories where the problem revolves, front and center, around the fact that the character is a werewolf. She was so relatable, and I'm sure everyone had a friend like Bree at one time or another.

The overarching conflict is something real, too. It's something that many small towns are still dealing with (and that many will likely face in the near future with the new pipeline being built as I type). There are still companies out there that weigh the risk of toxic dumping and decide that lining their pockets is more important, and there is, most definitely, unethical medical testing going on involving patients with rare medical conditions. Not to mention, the cases of medical kidnapping that occur regularly. The problems in Weregirl are scary real and make a great balance for the paranormal elements.

I truly hope that there is more to come!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Interview: Michelle Belanger

Tell me a little bit about your book.
Whenever someone asks me this question, I imagine a logline in “announcer voice.” It goes something like this:

An ancient force seeks a new base of power. A possessed girl harbors a devastating secret. Zack Westland’s having one hell of a night.

But little blurbs like that only skim the surface. Let me try to sum things up without giving too much away. 
Zack Westland’s life is extraordinary – he’s one of the Anakim, a tribe of earth-bound angels who have lived secretly among humanity for millennia.  Not that Zack remembers any of those thousands of years. He’s immortal, but almost all of his memories have been stolen, so he’s pretty much on the same footing as everyone else. Almost. 
Zack is psychic, has a knack for languages, and can bodily move into the realm of spirits known as the Shadowside. But after everything that’s happened to him in the past year, Zack mostly wants to be left alone. He’s in full avoidance mode at the start of the story, binge-playing a computer game (it’s inspired by Assassin’s Creed). An old friend, who Zack can’t even remember, reaches out for help with an exorcism, and all Zack can think is that the universe is having fun with him, given the whole angel thing. But the possessed girl, Halley, really captures Zack’s attention. She’s autistic but also gifted, and she’s been channeling messages in a language she can’t possibly know. She calls the entity Whisper Man, and Whisper Man wants her so badly, he sends a bunch of mind-controlled vagrants to invade her home. Things intensify as Whisper Man grows in power, and when a few of Zack’s winged relations get involved, people start to die.
These are not your grandma’s angels. 
Fortunately, Zack has allies to help him sort out the Whisper Man mess. There’s Father Frank, the Marine turned Catholic priest, Detective Bobby Park, the vampire Remy, Terael, who inhabits a statue in the art museum, and Lil, the Lady of Beasts. Tormenting Zack while also pulling his ass out of the fire is one of Lil’s superpowers. For Halley’s sake, Zack needs all the help he can get, because what he can’t remember could get a lot of people killed.

Title: Harsh Gods
Series: Shadowside
Publication Date: Aug 2016
Publisher: Titan Books
Age Group: 18+
Genre: Paranormal
Pages: 480
Find the Book: Amazon | Goodreads

If you had to write this one all over again, go through the whole editing and publishing process from the beginning again, is there anything you’d do differently?
I’ve got writer friends who went indie, others who have made a very successful career for themselves in self-publishing. I’ve watched people kick butt on Kickstarter and fund character-driven empires on Patreon. Sometimes I wonder how far along I would be in the Shadowside series if all the resources that make these things possible had been as readily available back in 2008 when I wrote the first draft of Conspiracy of Angels. Then again, if I hadn’t gone the traditional route, I would never have had the pleasure of working with Lucienne Diver at the Knight Agency, nor would I have gotten the truly invaluable insight from editor Steve Saffel at Titan. I like to think everything came together the way it did for a reason.

Are you a plotter and know what’s going to happen or are you a pantser that lets your characters lead you by the balls?
To be honest, I’m a little of both. Blame my years as a game master running RPGs like Vampire: the Masquerade. I start off plotting, and overall, I stick to the outline of events, but I like to give a certain amount of freedom to the characters. Sometimes, no matter how much I’ve plotted, a character decides to take a weird turn, and those unexpected twists can lead to great places. So each book has a loose guideline for how the story plays out, with room for deviation in case Zack or Lil or anyone else gets a bright idea.

What’s something that you are really good at that most people don’t know about?
Frank Sinatra impersonations, which is relevant to 0% of anything in my career(s), but his music falls perfectly in the lower end of my vocal range. The time period and culture surrounding Sinatra’s work have always fascinated me. I think this may be one factor that drew me to creating Zack’s world – Sinatra’s club scene, the mafia ties, the gritty noir feel – these are elements woven through the fabric of my Shadowside version of Cleveland, Ohio. These come out especially with Zack’s questionable allies among the Nephilim, Saliriel and Remy, and their main base of operations, Club Heaven.

I have to ask, are there any specific experiences that you’ve had with the paranormal that have made their way into this work?
Oh boy, where do I start? In many ways, the Shadowside series grew out of my work as a paranormal investigator. I witnessed so many things people wouldn’t believe in any medium other than fiction. In Harsh Gods, possession is the focus, and I shamelessly drew upon elements of suspected possessions I personally witnessed in order to intensify the creep factor of the main baddie, Whisper Man. Zack’s psychic abilities – especially his perception of Crossings, where human trauma leaves a kind of stain in the fabric of reality – are also strongly inspired by personal experience.

Parents like to say they don’t have a favorite child, but we all know that’s not true. I could say the same for writers. So who’s your favorite child... erm, I mean character?
Zack’s great. I love writing him, but he can sometimes be a broody bastard – and the only way to get him out of his shell is Lil. Lillee Gibson, Lilianna, the Lady of Beasts – call her what you will, Lil is all fire and scathing sarcasm, and I adore writing her as a foil to Zack. There’s a lot of freedom because she’s not the POV character. I don’t have to make her relatable. I don’t have to make her a nice person. She can say and do whatever she wants, and that is exactly what she does whenever she takes the stage.

Do you usually root for the heroes or the villians?
The villains. I can’t help myself. It’s so easy to write a hero. Everyone wants to like them. But it’s a challenge to make people like the villain – and maybe even relate a bit to the choice to do evil.

Who are your favorite authors?
I grew up reading Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Tanith Lee, and too many others to count. Speculative fiction, mystery, horror, thrillers – genre was less important than some element of the supernatural. It wasn’t just about monsters, though. The stories I sought out again and again used their monsters to tell very human stories, and that was what gripped me. That contrast – how the supernatural can be used to put our day-to-day experiences into a new light – that keeps me coming back.

What about up and coming authors? Anyone caught your fancy?
I have great respect for the art of the short story, and that’s a lot of what I’ve been reading of late. Alyssa Wong’s “Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers” caught my eye a little while ago, and it deservedly won a recent Hugo. I’m very keen to see what else she dreams up. Max Gladstone’s “A Kiss with Teeth” turned me onto to the rest of his fiction (start with the Craft Sequence). Ursula Vernon’s “Jackalope Wives” blew me away, and I would love to see more of her voice out there. In slightly longer form fiction, Matt Wallace’s Sin du Jour novellas are a perfect blend of action, humor, and supernatural shenanigans. But honestly, there are so many fresh, new voices out there, it’s hard to keep up.

Back to your characters for a minute, who would you like to have a beer with? Who do you wish you hadn’t created?
Remy – Zack’s blood-sucking brother and sometime ally – is totally someone I would go out with clubbing, and as part of the Nephilim tribe, he’d have the skinny on all the coolest parties. As for who I wish I hadn’t created, it’s not so much a who as a collective of “its.” The cacodaimons – composite horrors that creep into the edges of our reality from the deep places of the dark – they’re shuddersome nasties and more than a few readers have described them fittingly as “nightmare fuel.” Since I was going for creepy as hell with them, that’s probably a good thing, but still – getting into their heads leaves me with that skittery feeling you get when you’ve spied an enormous spider crawling far too close to your shoulder, and when you go to smush it, it’s disappeared.

Tell me one thing that’s on your bucket list.
I want to visit the Villa Diodati on the shores of Lake Geneva, where Lord Byron hosted the Shelleys and where Mary’s Frankenstein was conceived.

If you were asked to write a book in a different genre than your current works, what genre would you choose and why?
Gothic Horror, hands-down. The creeping, old-school stuff like “Turn of the Screw.” I love the atmosphere, the slowly building dread, and also the lushness of language that genre provides. Although it’s a movie, Guillermo del Toro’s “Crimson Peak” embodies all the ideals of Gothic Horror, and I would love to immerse myself in such a darkly beautiful world where every door opens to secrets and evil wears a seductive face.

What are you working on right now?
Currently, I’m finishing the first draft of The Resurrection Game, the third book in the Shadowside Series. The action takes place about six months after the close of Harsh Gods and it brings a few things from Conspiracy full circle. Zack’s up to his neck in cacodaimons, and someone is hunting people from his past.

Care to give us the first sentence of the last chapter you were working on?
“For an interminable stretch of minutes, my brain clamored orders at a body that stubbornly refused to respond.”

The Resurrection Game opens with a heated battle, and I really put Zack through the ringer. We all love beating up on our main characters, right? It’s fun to see what they do once they get back up.

So, say you just got arrested. What’s the most likely reason the cops are carting you off to jail?
I finally hauled off and punched someone for being an ignorant a-hole. Seriously. Some days that’s a challenge.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever researched for one of your books?
You know that joke about writers and serial killers having the same browser history? That would be me. Since I started writing the Shadowside Series, I’ve had to research how to make a bomb from a propane tank (thanks, Lil), how easily a homeless person without a legal ID can get their hands on a hunting rifle (the answer was scary), and the average time it would take someone to joint a desiccated a human body (that honor goes to Zack). With all that, I think the strangest thing still was the depth of Lake Erie: a mere 200 feet, as it turns out. That’s not necessarily strange, but that research led to information on the salt mines 1800 feet beneath Cleveland’s northern shoreline. Google the pictures. They’re both terrifying an amazing. I’ve lived here my entire life and I had no idea.

What’s the one book you wish you had written?
Tobin’s Spirit Guide. Yes, I know it’s a fictional book made up for the original Ghostbusters, but I still love the concept. Wouldn’t it be great to have a handy dandy field guide to every ghost, ghoul, and beastie out there? Of course, I’m the researcher who slogged through 16th century Latin manuscripts in German block print just to collect the names for the Dictionary of Demons, so there’s still time.

Tell us about your most embarrasing bookish experience.
You know, I can’t even remember the title of it anymore, but it was this vampire romance novel I wrote when I was seventeen. It got entered into some contest run by Avon/Flare. It didn’t win, thank God. It was filled with so many clich├ęs and such over-the-top writing, I’m happy the manuscript got lost in a move.

When you were little, what did you dream of being when you grew up?
I knew from the time I put crayon to paper that I wanted to grow up and become a writer. When my mom passed back in 2004 and I was going through her things, I found the first “book” I’d ever penned – this little eight page story all stapled together about my aunt’s dog that got hit by a car. Hand-written and illustrated the winter before my final heart surgery, I would’ve been four. Mom kept it for thirty years.

What’s your writing quirk? Every author’s got one ;)
I am very particular about my keyboard, to the point that I’ve been using the same laptop long past when the poor thing should have been retired. Most of the letters have been worn from the keys and a few of them have visible divots from repeated wear. The laptop speaks to my need for familiar things around me when I settle down to write – the same location, the same music, the same brand of tea, prepared an exacting way. All of these things become sensory cues that I use to propel myself into my writing headspace. It’s totally Pavlovian, but so far, it works.

In your most recent work, would you tell us about some of the material that didn’t make it past the cutting room floor?
So many conversations with Zack and Lil! Once those two get going, they don’t quit, and while the banter is always fun to write, it doesn’t always drive the plot. The holes in Zack’s memory leave so many openings for Lil, and she just can’t resist teasing him – or using his ignorance as a goad to get things she wants. A specific example would be material about the Lusty Leprechaun event at Club Heaven. Zack learns that Lil, in her spare time, performs with a burlesque troupe, the Windy City Vixens. Poor Zack just can’t wrap his head around the notion of Lil dancing with a group of mortals. He thinks of her as sexy, no doubt, but he’s seen her cold, efficient assassin side first hand, and the two simply don’t compute. What readers don’t get to see is her actual performance – although I couldn’t resist hanging onto it, maybe to release as an extra down the line.

What’s your favorite Disney movie? Seriously, this one is super important. Your life depends on your answer here.
When I was very little, my mom took me to see the original Fantasia in the theaters. That movie – all the lavish, creative imagery – had a tremendous impact on me, especially the “Night on Bald Mountain” scenes. I was so young, you’d think those Walpurgisnacht monsters would have terrified me, but I loved them. I guess my fascination for dark things started pretty young. Second to that? Frozen – and it’s funny you should ask. Because Halley loves her Disney Princesses, I had to revisit the movies, with an eye toward which ones she would like above all the rest. Her autism often makes her feel like she’s isolated, with her mind as the lonely tower, so Halley’s current favorite is Tangled. 

Where can our readers find your work?
Harsh Gods gets released simultaneously in the US, UK, and Canada, so you’ll find it at chain stores like Barnes & Noble, indie stores like Forbidden Planet, and of course, online sites like Amazon. For most of my non-fiction books, like the Dictionary of Demons, it’s the same story. And, of course, you can purchase signed copies directly from my site at

What/When is your next release coming out?
After Harsh Gods, there’s a Shadowside novella that will be released in installments this October. Mortal Sins is a ghost story, with Zack and Lil at the center, and the action takes place in between Conspiracy of Angels and Harsh Gods. It answers a few things about Lailah, Zack’s some-time partner, and, best of all, it will be free.

How do you want readers to keep in touch with you?
The easiest place to catch me online is Twitter. My handle is @sethanikeem and I’m very active there. Be forewarned – it’s not all books & writing. I ramble about gaming, paranormal investigation, music, social commentary and, of course, my two feline writing companions, Bliss and Remy (yes, named for the character).

About the Author:

Michelle Belanger is an author, occult expert, singer, and psychic seen regularly on the television Paranormal State. She's been featured on programs on HBO, the History Channel, Destination America, and CNN Headline News. Michelle's work has taken her around the globe, but she resides near Cleveland, Ohio with two cats, a few friendly spirits, and a library of more than five thousand books.

Find her:
Twitter: @sethanikeem

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Summoned King by Dave Neuendorf

Title: The Summoned King
Author: Dave Neuendorf
Series: The Kalymbrian Chronicles
Publication Date: Feb 2016
Publisher: Self Published
Age Group: YA
Genre: Christian Fantasy
Pages: 356
Format: eBook
Source: Author provided Review Copy
Find the Book: Amazon | Goodreads

Indiana high school senior James Madison Young might best be described as a Renaissance man: intelligent, of good character, well educated, and full of passionate interests in everything from Krav Maga to robotics. One evening he falls asleep while studying at the library. He wakes to find himself in another world, filled with magic, danger, and romance. He has been summoned by court wizard Maynard to be the king of Kalymbria. Forced into marriage with the beautiful and magically powerful yet untrained Julia Roper for his queen, he must restore the lapsed Constitution in the face of opposition from a hostile Council of Advisors, and defend his new country from the evil machinations of the wizard Ruinga and her allied kingdom of Venicka. Rediscovering the lost art of enchantment may provide him with a powerful edge in his quest, if he can survive the assassins and conspiracies arrayed against him.

    I have to say, it felt like this book was more than just the author's book, it was his story. What I mean is that this was the adventure on which he imagined himself. Clearly, I'm not saying he actually went to an alien world and did all these things, but that it's the adventure he'd want to experience if given the opportunity.  It really seemed, to me, like the author put a lot of himself into Jim. I could be wrong--but I don't think I am.
    I was a little worried when I started reading this one. It was very slow to get started. Honestly, I would have gotten into the story much faster had it jumped in with Jim awakening in Kalymbria, I didn't really need to know what he was doing before he found himself on an alien planet. But once I got past that, the pace of the rest of the story was good.
    Initially, I also had a hard time with the word choice and tone. It just didn't say "seventeen year-old" to me, but I thought back to my years in high school and remembered that I had friends that did talk a lot like Jim... in fact, I remember a two-hour discussion a friend and I had about the origination of language and how ancient language would have likely been based on a heavenly language (a teacher walked outside where we were sitting near his window to tell us that he was so glad to hear teens talking about something other than who our hottie of the week was). So, once I thought about that, Jim's vocabulary made a lot of sense.
    Beyond that, I really enjoyed reading this book. The characters were interesting and I look forward to seeing how they grow as the series continues. Jim is likable, if not a little too "nerd-perfect." He didn't seem to his a single snag that he couldn't solve or didn't, at the very least, have a kindle book on the subject. For me, those moments when the hero doesn't know what to do are what make me either love him or hate him, those are the moments in the story when I find out what kind of person the hero really is, and I didn't really get any of those. I do have hope for the next book though!
    Along that same vein, because Jim didn't seem to encounter any obstacles he couldn't almost immediately solve, I felt like the plot was kind of "problem, solution, problem, solution." I really wanted the conflict to be more interwoven into the overall plot.
   The world creation was excellent. Throughout the story, he revealed tidbits about the nuances of the culture, the people, and even the animals. Though all of those things were extremely similar to earth, it was still enough to set the world apart. There were moments when I felt more like Jim had simple been pulled back through time rather than transported to another planet, but it certainly didn't affect the story.
   His use of magic was probably my favorite part of the story. I really love magic systems that are based on the idea that magic and science are extremely similar, if not the same. Kalymbrian magic falls in the "similar" category and I did enjoy seeing how Jim was able to use his knowledge of technology to affect similar concepts through magical artifacts.
   Another thing I really enjoyed about this one was the way the author handled the "Christian" part of the genre. Even as a Christian, I often find that most Christian Fiction is was too preachy and tries to shove the Gospel down the reader's throat. Neuendorf uses Jim to reveal the message through a couple of opportunities Jim finds to talk to others about Christ, though for the most part, Jim is revealing his faith through his words and actions. Rather than calling them all heathens and hell-bound, Jim shows kindness, is fair in his rule, and abides by Biblical principles regardless of the situation he faces.
   All-in-all, I really enjoyed reading The Summoned King and I look forward to the next book in the series!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Protect Me by Margaret Watson

Discretion advised: This book may be unsuitable for anyone under the age of 18, due to mature themes, language and/or sexual content.
Title: Protect Me
Author: Margaret Watson 
Series: The Donovan Family
Publication Date: Nov 20165
Publisher: Dragonfly Press
Age Group: 18+
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 329
Format: eBook
Source: Author provided Review Copy
Find the Book: Amazon | Goodreads

Police officer Mia Donovan is studying for the detective's exam when her captain offers her an assignment – be Finn O'Rourke's personal bodyguard for the next three weeks. He's in town to film a movie, he has a stalker, and the threats are escalating.

Mia isn't interested – she's focused on the looming exam. But her captain convinces her that successfully protecting Finn will look very good on her record when promotion decisions are made. So, reluctantly, she takes the assignment.

Finn isn't the arrogant, egotistical actor Mia expected. There's more than meets the eye when it comes to the 'most hated man in America', Finn's nickname since he cheated on his girlfriend, a beloved pop star.

But his stalker is lurking and the threat is escalating. Although Mia's feelings for Finn are growing, her job is to protect Finn, not fall in love with him.

  I've made it pretty clear that I'm a "judge a book by its cover" type of person. This one wouldn't have garnered a second glance from me based on its cover alone. Instead, I read the description of this one before I ever saw the cover... I was intrigued. Boy, am I glad I read this! It was such a good book!
   I mean it when I say it was good. It was so well written, the story line was great, the characters were believable, and the emotions were real. The only complaint I had, and it's not really even a complaint, was that I was definitely caught off-guard by a couple of time-jumps near the end of the book. They were totally necessary, no doubt. They were just unexpected after the whole rest of the story occurring in a three-week period of time. Like I said, not really even a real complaint.
  This book was so good, I can't find anything I didn't like or should have been done better or anything really. Let me tell you, Mrs. Watson gets some serious bonus points considering that I didn't find a single formatting issues that's typically associated with eBook formats. I'm pretty sure I didn't even find a single spelling error!
   As far as the story itself... wow, just wow! It's rare for contemporary romance to play in my head like a movie when I'm reading. Anything fantasy will almost every time, but contemporary romance, not so much. This one though, I felt like I was watching it on the silver screen, seriously, someone should seriously consider making this book into a screenplay-- as long as they're going to stick to the story!
   Just so that you know, this is book number 6 in the series, but it can totally be read as a standalone. Currently, there are eight books total and I plan to read them soon as I catch up my backlog of "to be reviewed" requests!

Monday, August 8, 2016

How to Write a Book Blog: What to do with all these Books?!

Dear Courtney,
  I recently discovered Netgalley and the plethora of amazing groups, street teams, & ARC teams available to me of Facebook. I am in love and uber excited! However, in my excitement, I immediately requested every book I could, and now I am up to my armpits in ebooks and paperbacks!
  That's all well and good because books are my best friends, but these books all need reviews and all those reviews have deadlines! There's no way I can read all of them in time! What should I do?!

-Drowning in Books.

Well, Drowning, my first piece of advice is usually this: don't request so many books! But, clearly, it's already a bit too late for that little nugget.

So, what can you do now that your TBR pile has become an unmanageable beast? It's time to make a plan!

  1. Enacting the "Book Ban."
    For the foreseeable future, do not request books from Netgalley, agree to review books sent to your by authors, purchase books, check books out from the library, or acquire books from any other source.
  2. Estimate the number of books you can realistically read in a week's time.
  3. Make a list of each book you've agreed to review. Include the deadline in this list.
  4. Group books into sets, by deadline, according to the number you came up with in step 2.
  5. Start reading! As long as you stick fairly close to your list, you'll be able to read and review all those books in time.

  6. After finishing all those books, use my first piece of advice: Don't request so many books at one time! Limit yourself to only requesting/accepting review copies of no more than half of that number you came up with in step 2. Using half of that number will leave you plenty of wiggle room for busy weeks, picking up a couple of books from the bestseller list, library, or Amazon Freebie Lists, or any other books that might turn up unannounced in your TBR pile.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Bout of Books: Declaration of Entry

So... my post title sounds silly, but hey, I am declaring my intent to participate in the Bout of Books this time around. What is Bout of Books? Find out below:
The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 22nd and runs through Sunday, August 28th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 17 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

Um, goals? Let's just say that I want to get through the growing pile of "books that need to be read & reviewed."

Yeah, that sounds like a good goal.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Interview: John B Dutton

Tell me a little bit about your book.

The Embodied trilogy is an unusual web of adventure, romance, fantasy, and science fiction.
Book one, Silent Symmetry, introduces smart, plucky Manhattan prep school student Kari Marriner, who becomes aware that mysterious aliens called the Embodied and their pseudo-religion, the Temple of Truth, have been influencing her family’s life for decades. As she falls for Cruz, a boy at school, and meets warring Embodied siblings Noon and Aranara, Kari starts to question her emotions and finds herself ensnared in a mystery that reaches further than she could possibly have imagined.

In book two, Starley’s Rust, a charismatic young English artist named Starley, who is plagued by race memories of the Embodied, convinces Kari that he can find her missing mother if she flies to Paris with him to draw out her kidnappers. But the Embodied seemed to have vanished, and now there’s a new, more terrifying visitor from the Dark Universe – a Thoth high priest in the form of a dragon. Kari soon discovers the mind-blowing extent of the Embodied beings’ involvement in human history and her own family’s tragic past.

In the trilogy’s thrilling conclusion, Diamond Splinters, Kari has a heart-wrenching choice to make: rescue her mother or save the Earth. And her only hope to figure out a solution is to team up with the one person she can never trust. When a submarine trip to the bottom of the Hudson River ends in death and disaster, Kari is scarred, both emotionally and physically. She wants to run and hide, but digs deep to find new sources of inner strength. As the storm of the century hits New York, a child’s life hangs in the balance and Kari gambles everything in a final confrontation with the genocidal Thoth.

Title: The Embodied Trilogy Special Edition eBook Collection

Publication Date: Jul 11, 2016
Publisher: Self Published
Age Group: YA
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 560
Find the Book: Amazon | Goodreads

If you had to write this one all over again, go through the whole editing and publishing process from the beginning again, is there anything you’d do differently?

I would get my editor involved earlier. I did use an editor for books 1 and 2, but the person wasn’t available to work on book 3, so I hired a different editor. She went back over books 1 and 2 and had some great insights that I used to create new 2016 editions of both books. In terms of publishing, I would have concentrated more on writing and less on marketing book 2, so that I could have completed the trilogy sooner. But self-published authors have to learn as they go, so I’m fine with the decisions I made and I’m proud of how the trilogy has turned out. Hopefully readers will feel the same!

Are you a plotter and know what’s going to happen or are you a pantser that lets your characters lead you by the balls?

Plotter. While leaving some room for pantsing. For example, the entire Embodied trilogy was vaguely outlined while I was writing book 1, Silent Symmetry. But when it came time to write books 2 and 3, well... I literally dreamed up the basic story of Starley’s Rust, so that threw a wrench in the plot, and then there was plenty of Diamond Splinters that I made up as I went along, while still hitting major plot points. Starley, especially, led me. But on the whole, I’m in charge.
What’s something that you are really good at that most people don’t know about?
Speaking French. My friends where I live in Montreal know it, but you wouldn’t know that about me if you just ran into me somewhere. I’d like to think that I’m also really good at playing soccer, but I’ve a feeling that it’s wishful thinking!

Do you think being a writer is a gift or is it a curse? Why?

Definitely a gift! Words are like magic. I mean, they literally have the power to influence people, whether positively or negatively. They can uplift or they can crush. They can inspire or they can depress. They can cause laughter or tears. When writing, I basically feel like I am able to wield the most powerful sword ever created.

Parents like to say they don’t have a favorite child, but we all know that’s not true. I could say the same for writers. So who’s your favorite child... erm, I mean character?

Actually I do have a favorite child! Okay, I’m kidding, but the reality is that you love each child for different reasons, so it’s easy for me to say “You’re my favorite son,” and “You’re my favorite daughter,” and they both smile and understand. With characters it’s a similar situation and I think it would be a shame if I didn’t like lots of them for different reasons. However... I do really like Starley, the title character in book 2. Maybe it’s because he’s British, like me, maybe it’s because he likes cheese, like me. Or maybe it’s because I had more fun writing his dialog than for any other character in the trilogy. He’s also involved in a very dramatic scene at the end of Starley’s Rust which I know gives readers major feels.

Do you usually root for the heroes or the villains?

That so totally depends on the hero or the villain! For example, Moriarty in the Sherlock Holmes stories and the Master/Missy in Doctor Who are kind of awesome, whereas Darth Vader just seems like a grump. In fact, that’s a great question because one thing I find fascinating in books and movies is how writers get the reader or viewer to identify with someone who’s clearly the bad guy/girl. I think for me, there’s something about rooting for a truly gleeful baddy that’s kind of liberating precisely because it’s only fictional.

Who are your favorite authors?

Nabokov, Cervantes, Dickens, Orwell, Steinbeck, Tolstoy, Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Emily Bronte, Ian McEwan, Martin Amis, Douglas Adams, Conan Doyle, Umberto Eco, John Wyndham, Steven Pinker, JM Coetzee, Donna Tartt, Anne Rice.

What about up and coming authors? Anyone caught your fancy?

Michelle Hodkin, though I guess she’s well beyond up-and- coming!

Tell me one thing that’s on your bucket list.

Visiting Japan.

If you were asked to write a book in a different genre than your current works, what genre would you choose and why?

I’m already doing that! Last year I heard about a newly defined genre called dreadpunk that incorporates gothic horror elements but treats them with a modern sensibility, and was instantly hooked by the idea of writing something in that genre.

What are you working on right now?

So my dreadpunk work is a series of novellas set in Victorian Montreal. They are gothic horror stories with very realistic historical backdrops featuring deadly disease, engineering marvels, economic upheaval and dark family secrets.

I’ve also started writing another Embodied story that’s set in ancient Egypt and involves some familiar characters as well as some new ones. This will be the first of several Embodied stories set in different eras that will have less science fiction content than the original trilogy and more historical fantasy. But it’s not really in any shape to be shared yet.

Care to give us the first sentence of the last chapter you were working on?

On that fetid August morning back in ’47, Michael had muttered a final prayer, crossed himself again, and driven away from the fever sheds’ grief-riven chaos.
So, say you just got arrested. What’s the most likely reason the cops are carting you off to jail?

Speeding. Or naughty stuff I can’t mention here!

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever researched for one of your books?

Wow... great question! Apart from the Dark Universe itself that appears in the Embodied trilogy, and which even scientists don’t know much about (hence the name “dark”), I’d have to say that the strangest thing was needing to research the minimum temperature required to destroy a diamond. And that was for Diamond Splinters, book 3 of the trilogy, so the title itself gives away something about my conclusions.

I also had to research the name of a hardware store in 1980’s Chicago for a flashback segment in the same book, and soon got sidetracked with a bunch of other stuff. It’s so easy to get distracted, and that’s why I called my blog Sitting at Your Desk Isn’t Work.

What’s the one book you wish you had written?


Tell us about your most embarrassing bookish experience.

Jeez, I don’t get embarrassed very easily. Um... I recently sent Friend Requests out to three random people in Kenya by mistake after they liked my author Facebook page, and now I get their updates on my wall! I guess that’s embarrassing. Ish.

When you were little, what did you dream of being when you grew up?

A soccer player. I still have that dream.

What’s your writing quirk? Every author’s got one ;)

I’m a manic file saver. Even though I have Autosave set for 5 minutes, I hit “Control+S” practically at the end of every sentence. So paranoid about losing my precious words!!

In your most recent work, would you tell us about some of the material that didn’t make it past the cutting room floor?

Without giving away any spoilers, there was a pretty big chunk near the end of Diamond Splinters that my editor recommended I cut or change, so that’s exactly what I did and her advice was spot on. I had a long scene in a hospital during a mega hurricane where Kari is in a coma and her boyfriend Cruz has a tense stand-off with bad girl Aranara.

Cruz makes a decision that seems to have ruined everything for everyone and tries to make up for it heroically. In the rewrite, I was able to condense those scenes to make the ending tighter and even more dramatic. But I decided to include these scenes (what amounts to an alternate ending) in the Embodied trilogy special edition ebook collection.

In fact these deleted scenes are part of what makes the ebook a special edition. I hope readers get something out of this peek behind the curtain of the writing process.

What’s your favorite Disney movie? Seriously, this one is super important. Your life depends on your answer here.

The Jungle Book.

Where can our readers find your work?

The Embodied trilogy special edition ebook collection is exclusive to Amazon and the US store link is but it’s also available worldwide.

What/When is your next release coming out?

I’m aiming to publish at least one Embodied short story (for sure the one I mentioned earlier that’s set in ancient Egypt) before the end of the year. I’m also pondering whether to republish a short story called Bianca as a standalone. It originally appeared in my story collection Life is Good (published as John B. Dutton) and is a retelling of the Snow White story, set in 18th century Bolivia. The dreadpunk series will be out in 2017.

How do you want readers to keep in touch with you?

I love receiving questions and comments from readers, so please don’t be shy to email me at Here are my other social links if you’d like to post comments:

Goodreads author page:
Amazon author page:
Professional Facebook page:
Twitter handle: @JohnBDutton

About the Author:
After graduating from film school in London, England, JB Dutton emigrated to Montreal in 1987,
where he still lives with his two young children and their even younger goldfish. He spent over a decade as a music TV director before moving into the advertising industry as an award-winning copywriter for clients such as Cirque du Soleil. JB Dutton has written novels, short stories, blogs, screenplays and a stage play. He also writes adult fiction under the name John B. Dutton.