Review of the Vrai Domicile by Courtney Ruggles

At the end of the 6th Domicile we saw Q descending into the muerte, elated that she had finally freed the members of the domicile from their life of compliance,  their masks surrendered in defiance of the elders.  She welcomes the release of death the the muerte will bring – however the meurte isn’t all that it seems.  Waking up restrained on a hospital bed, she is met by A100B, whilst formality is still present, A100B is not your traditional Domicile regular, showing humility and compassion to our Q on one hand but then complete reverence for the elders on the other.  Initially believing that B and Grandmother were taken by the muerte, she soon comes to learn that she was “saved” by the Elders and is now a resident of the Vrai Domicile, underground from the 6th.  She later learns that Grandmother and B are alive, however they are used against her to ensure her dedication for the cause and she is forced to fight a very different fight, a fight to return order to the domicile.  

Something isn’t right though, an over familiarity from members of the Vrai domicile, open acceptance of rule bending, better food, better treatment and why do people always simply call her Q?  

Q becomes lost in a world of not knowing where she ends and the domicile begins, can she trust herself, after all, not everything is as it seems……

So it’s not often that i don’t know where to start.  I loved the 6th Domicile, I found it so unique in it’s ideas that I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed in the Vrai Domicile and I was right.  I really hate the term “emotional rollercoaster” but I can’t think of anything that fits this book more perfectly.  From the moment a confused Q wakes up from the meurte bound to the table, she is thrown into a world of emotional and physical turmoil.  The recurring theme of “everything is not as it seems” leaves you indeed questioning everything.  Q’s ability to love, once her saviour, is now her undoing as it is held over her at every opportunity.  She is trained to be a fighter, a warrior for the domicile and all that they stand for, whilst emotionally she is being put through the wringer at every turn, finding it so hard to be herself and be the person the domicile wants her to be.

Shocking twists are abound in this book, who are the Elders? Who else is resident in the Vrai Domicile?  

As with book one, the world created even below ground is richly woven, the more relaxed formality at times really drives the character development forward,  Where the 6th domicile was about Q and the other domicile members, who were simply masks, the Vrai domicile allows you behind the masks and into the world more completely.  

The pace at times is unbelievable and I had easily gone 100 pages in a blink, the frenzy towards the end really adds to the drama of the conclusion, the desperation of Q’s predicament, the alliances she must forge and risks she must take at the cost of others, left my head spinning – but in a good way.

In summary this book is amazing and if you are after YA dystopian with a unique twist then this is definately a series for you.

Book one – 6th Domicile can be purchased here

Slumber Duology Sales Blitz and Giveaway

Title: Slumber (Slumber Duology, Book One)
Author: Christy Sloat
Genre:  YA Fantasy/ Fairytale Retelling
Not all princesses get their happily ever after…
They tell me I killed my boyfriend Phillip in cold blood. I stabbed him twenty one times. I’m only seventeen years old, and I am serving life in Spindle Ridge Asylum for the Criminally Insane.
I don’t remember killing him, so it’s really hard to believe I’m capable of murder. In fact I don’t remember anything before I came to Spindle Ridge, not even my boyfriend.
I can only grasp onto my realistic dreams while the madness of the asylum threatens to pull me under.  I dream I’m a beautiful princess and there is an evil faerie named Maleficent who is bent on my destruction. The dreams are the closest thing I have to memories of my life, except they aren’t real.
I’m crazy. I’m not a princess.
They’re the mad illusions of an irrational teenage girl, right?
They’ve assigned me a new doctor, and she says I can trust her, and that she’ll help me see the truth of who I really am.
When she arrived she brought a new patient, Sawyer, who is everything Spindle Ridge isn’t: exciting, mysterious and beautiful. He promises he’s here to rescue me. Trusting either of them frightens me.
Could it be possible that my dreams are more than just the imaginings of a delusional girl? Could they be truth?
Title: Awaken (Slumber Duology, Book Two)
Author: Christy Sloat
Genre: YA Fantasy/ Fairytale Retelling

“Happily ever after is hers for the taking.”

Once upon a time I found myself locked away in Spindle Ridge Asylum, punished for a murder I didn’t commit. It was all part of Maleficent’s evil plan. I didn’t remember who I was then … now I do. My name is Aurora, and I am the rightful queen of this realm. Armed with my memories, I’m ready to take charge of my kingdom once more. Happily ever after evades me, yet I long to claim it with my true love, Sawyer, beside me. That fairy tale ending seems impossible with him locked in the thralls of a sleeping curse. As much as I’d love to sit by his bedside and eagerly await a cure, I must first travel into the terrifying Dark Woods to stop Raven from stripping me of all that is rightfully mine. I am not only a queen, but a warrior who will fight for her kingdom. Some may die. Blood will be shed. But when this ending comes, I will settle for nothing less than a blissful ever after.
Christy Sloat resides in New Jersey with her husband, two daughters and her Chihuahua, Sophie. Christy has embraced the love of reading and writing since her youth and was inspired by her grandmother’s loving support. She loves adventurous journeys with her friends and can be known to get lost inside a bookstore. She is the Best Selling author of ten novels including, The Visitors Series, The Past Lives Series and Slumber.
Buy Links:
Slumber: (FREE)
Awaken: (99 Cents)
Excerpt: (From Slumber, Book One of Slumber Duology)
I woke in the middle of the night hearing screams fill the air. This was not uncommon at all, but tonight I wasn’t expecting it. Normally when Adele’s meds are changed, she wakes screaming that she can’t sleep. Adele’s room is across from mine. She is roughly in her twenties and I never learned how she ended up here. I try not to talk to the other patients. I don’t know why it is, but I don’t fit in with these people. To them I’m the murderer and they tend to think less of me. That’s fine. I am what they say I am. That’s why I’m here, right?

 They told me I stabbed my boyfriend, Phillip, but I don’t remember doing it. I actually don’t remember Phillip at all. No recollection of having been in a relationship either. I must have killed him or else I wouldn’t be in Spindle Ridge. Dr. Altman says that I have to believe that I did it or we will never get anywhere. I’ll admit it’s hard to believe that these hands could stab a person twenty times. No matter how I imagined it, it is always hard to believe.  I sat up listening hard for the screams. When they came again I noticed they were not female, they were male. The screams were deeper and reached a longer distance than Adele’s cries ever could. I wondered if the whole building could hear him. I pulled my covers up over my neck and covered my face. I just wanted to sleep and fall back into the dream I was having. It was beautiful, and if I had my way, I would stay there forever.  Wait!  I sat up fast. Closing my eyes, I tried to remember the dream to the last second. It wasn’t the same dream as the one’s prior. This dream was different! This dream was me and a boy.I never dreamt of anyone but my parents and the evil woman. The dream’s soft lullaby came back to me as I remembered where I was. The smell of fresh grass came across my senses. The sky so blue as I lay on a blanket. I rolled over and saw the face of a boy. He was everything that Spindle Ridge wasn’t; he was beautiful. He had long, shaggy, but not unruly, hair that touched his collar. When he smiled at me, he looked like a boy in love. In love with me. “Get up you lazy sack!” I opened my eyes and was pulled back into the now. I was forced to leave the dream behind as I was being pulled out of bed by two nurses. 

Throw Back Thursday – A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

Like so many of my generation, my first introduction to A Clockwork Orange was through the fact that the film version was banned for a long while.   As with any “video nasties” (as they were referred to) as a teenager I of course, had to watch it.  This wasn’t without it’s difficulties in a world ruled by ropy VHS.  You can of course purchase it quite happily now.  However in the early 90’s I soon discovered that “Oh, it’s based on a book? Which is freely available to purchase?” and so in I dove.

An eerily accurate representation of youth gang culture and violence arising from the bored and uninspired young people of Britain.  Alex, our narrator, is a leader of one such gang and along with his fellow Droogs, embarks on a campaign of Ultra Violence.  Pumped up from visits from the local “Korova Milk Bar” (Milk combined with a drug of choice) nothing is off limits, rival gangs, down and outs, wealthy aristocrats…..  It’s difficult to remember that Alex is only 15.

Alex and his associates have a unique brand of slang, specifically created by the author, called Nadsat.  A mixture mainly of Slavic and Cockney Rhyming Slang, it brings another level of intrigue to the story, which in earliest publications was mainly left to the imagination.  It was only in later editions where a key was provided.  Phrases which are still readily used today, such as Ultraviolent, stem from this created slang.

With each escapade his confidence escalates, yet all is not harmonious in the Droog camp. Alex’s brand of discipline towards his counterparts leads to him taking the fall spectacularly, when one of their unique adventures takes a disastrous turn.  Captured and imprisoned Alex is given an opportunity to Rehabilitate himself and become a useful member of society.  What’s the catch?  He must undergo a new and highly experimental form of aversion treatment, the Ludovico Technique.

The Ludovico Technique submits Alex to nausea inducing drugs, whilst being forced to watch graphic violence of the kind he so readily embraced.  The outcome rendering Alex incapable of violent thought, as the very consideration, sends him into violent sickness.

Deemed “Cured” Alex is allowed on his way, but finds he has no place in his old society.  Many have moved on and he is subject to recourse from his pre-prison escapades.  Finding himself taken in by a Home in which he once desecrated, when his identity is uncovered he is subjected to torment, his conditioning rendering him near suicidal.

The government step in and are subsequently forced to reconsider their controversial technique. They are able to reverse what they have done to him, releasing him and his ultraviolent ways back into the wider world, but has he by now simply just grown up?

I highly recommend a re-read, it’s real horrorshow.

Author Interview with Raye Wagner

For this weeks author spotlight, we welcomed Raye Wagner!  Raye is the author of the Sphinx Series, an addictive young-adult fantasy based in a realm of Greek mythology, so if you are fans of Percy Jackson and the Sweet Evil Trilogy, these are the books for you!  Raye very graciously accepted the invitation to take part in our author interview and here’s what she had to say to us.

Q:  For those that are new to Raye Wagner, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your books?

Raye:  I’m a red personality that wishes she was a little more yellow.  I love bakery treats.  I enjoy Tae Kwon Do, and I work out so I can eat what I want, and kick butt…just in case.  I work in healthcare, and I only dreamed of writing a story.  And then one day, a story dropped in my head, and I couldn’t help but write it down.

If you like Greek mythology, strong heroines, handsome demigods, and a twist now and again, you might enjoy Curse of the Sphinx.

Q:  At what point in your life did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Raye:  When I was 16 I wrote a goal that I wanted to write a book.  When I went into nursing in college, writing became a dream of childhood.  And then years later (lots of years), I started writing a story.  I thought it would be easy, and there have been a few times I’ve wanted to quite, but the story must be told, so I’m still writing.

Q:  Do you need peace and quiet to write or do you have a playlist to keep you going?  If you do would you share it with us?

Raye:  I love music, but it’s usually late at night, or nap time when I write, so I have to keep it quiet, and listen for sleeping littles yelling for mom.  I dream of the day I can write to music.

Q:  Are your characters always a complete work of fiction or is there an element of someone you know to start the idea rolling?

Raye:  I’ve been known to pilfer a characteristic or two now and again.  However, some characters come full developed.  That being said, when my mom read Curse of the Sphinx, she said, “Oh, I like how you put so-and-so in there like that.”  I thought, What?  But looking back, she was right.  A few of my characters were based on people I knew.

Q:  What are your experiences of being an Indie Author, do you find that social media is a help of a distraction to your writing?

Raye:  Both.  I’ve had to learn to stay off of it most of the time, because it’s fun being social.  But writing takes time, and that is the one commodity that I seem to lack the most of.

Q:  What are you currently working on or is it a secret!?

Raye:  I’m currently finishing Myths or Immortality, book 3 in the Curse of the Sphinx series.  I’ve also started outlining a book with dragons and fae.  Much more fantasy.  I can’t wait to actually write it.

Q:  What is it about mythology that inspires you?

Raye:  I actually wasn’t much of a mythology nerd until I started writing Curse of the Sphinx.  I had read the PJO series, and in book 4, Battle of the Labyrinth, the Sphinx is represented as a game show host.  I have a painting of the Sphinx done by a friend of mine in college.  The idea of her being a washed up game show host was an insult.  A couple of weeks later the idea dropped in my head.  I had to do a lot of research to make sure that I stayed close to the flavor of the myths.

Q:  If you could be any character you have written, who would you choose?

Raye:  Ryn from my fantasy series that will come out next year.  She’s amazing.

A close second would be Phaidra, Hope’s grandmother, the original Sphinx.  She had some amazing experiences.

Q:  What are you currently reading?

Raye:  Rock your Plot by Cathy Yardley.

Recently I finished Earth’s End by Elise Kova (book 3 in the Air Awakens series)  It’s amazing!!

Q:  Fictional Dinner Party – give me 5 fictional characters or authors who you would have as dinner companions.

Raye:  Ednah Walters, Quinn Loftis, Jaymin Eve, Holly Black and Mary Weber.  I would just sit and listen to them talk.  I’ve met Ednah and Quinn and I adore them and admire them as people and as writers.  The others I’m in awe of their writing talent, and would want to bask in their words.

As far as fictional characters, I’d love to meet Kitty Fremont (from Exodus by Leon Uris) as I pursued my career in nursing because of her.

Thank you so so much Raye for taking the time out to answer our questions!

For those who are interested in reading Raye’s books, there is currently a giveaway going on over at our facebook page.  It’s simple to enter and you will be gifted an ebook of choice from the series.  The giveaway closes on the 25th August at 8pm GMT, and is the pinned post on the page.

Review of Type X by MA Phipps

Flash forward 2 years on from the closing events of Ultraxenopia, that’s right, 2 years have passed for Wynter and she is, from the outset, clearly a very different girl from the one we left at the end of book 1.  Disconnected, resigned to her fate as the State’s weapon of choice.  Revered and feared she is an unstoppable killing machine against anyone who chooses to take the State on.  Lost in her duty, she has little of her old self left other than a niggling doubt about the reason she chose to return to the DSD.  One thing is for certain, she is a marionette to the will of Dr Richter, the string being the control collar around her neck.

Despite being the strong and confident Wynter on the battlefield, when she returns to the DSD at  mission conclusion, she is still the frightened girl from book 1; Dr Richters, cruel torture has seen to that.  However, the old Wynter is not a girl to be kept down and slowly memories are awakened, until the day that she didn’t know she was waiting for arrives….

Type X is a book which is difficult to write a synopsis for without revealing spoilers.  It is a story rich with information so I will tread carefully!  I will say that if you haven’t read Ultraxenopia for a while, you will benefit from a re-read as there were times I was wracking my brain trying to remember.  In some ways though it was a little fitting as my memories of the book were returning slowly along with Wynters.  I had to go back and re-read parts on a couple of occasions to make sure I had things clear in my head, mirroring the confusion felt by Wynter in having to take all this in herself.

Type X, is very much focused on Wynter, and whilst we have characters from Book 1 appearing, they are very much in the background of what is going on.  We meet new characters, Nolan, the newly appointed head of PHOENIX and also Quinn, an ex-enforcer.  Wynter finds herself wary of these new characters and their plans and feelings towards, and for her.  As she comes to remember her reasons for returning to the DSD, to seek the promised cure and to protect those she love; the realisation of the cruel twist of fate played out is heartbreaking for her.  The once protected must become the protector, whilst also proving that she is not the monster people believe her to be.

Whilst a background character for the most part, Dr Richter is still a looming presence and we see a very different side to him at the climactic conclusion; he becomes the epitome of mad scientist as we discover the true reasons behind his actions and the depravity of the lengths he will go to to secure his endgame.

There is a fantastic chapter which gives us a brief insight into the rise of the state, and anyone that knows me as a reviewer will know I am a real sucker for a prologue, so having this element really satisfied that need!  There are some real surprises that come from this and I loved the 1984 feel to it, especially with the way that history had been re-written to make out that things had always been the way they are.

There are a raft of emotions that come from Type X, laughter at times from Wynter’s cutting comments as she moves away from the girl who had to blend in, to the girl that gets to finally embrace her missed teenage snark.  Horror at the actions she is capable of.  Sadness at the realisation that no matter what, she always ends up endangering the ones she loves and whether her visions are more of a hindrance than a help.

Type X is a flawlessly written follow up that I would have a read in a single sitting if I could have.  It’s a story bursting with information, emotion and characters that you really feel strongly about.  The plot has so much going on, twists at every chapter will have you thinking and rethinking about the way things will play out and even then you will never see it coming!  A strong follow up which has left me desperate for book 3!

Throwback Thursday from Caroline A. Gill – The Martian Chronicles and Stranger in a Strange Land

The book that rocked my world?  That is so very hard to choose:  The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury or Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein.

One reimagines an ancient race of Martians and their response to a human invasion.  Their genocide from a human carried disease leaves ghosts and terrors that walk the planet.  The book is tiny… but full of horrors. And is also a call to arms about the way invader and occupied frame each other.

Bradbury taught me about perspectives, about the world unseen, about hatred that reaches over the years, over generations.

Heinlan though of Mars as well, but as a failed experiment.  An abandoned attempt at colonization, humanity packed up and left.  Accidentally leaving one child behind. That human was raised by martians, rocklike giants that spoke slower than water. And years later, when he was discovered, humans “rescued” him, bringing him back to earth, a stranger. And the way he viewed the familiar world, the way he saw through corruption and need, hope and anger… transformed the book from a science fiction work to a messianic one.

Devastating. And to this day, you will see people use the word “Grok” to mean Love, eat, imbibe, accept, understand, become one, join, etc… It has no translation outside of that novel. But that word is just about everything. And it was an idea created by one imagination, transforming readers.

That is what I hope to do one day: change the world for my readers, one idea at a time. So, I started with ordinary magic, the hidden powers held in secrecy right in front of our eyes: the magic of houseflies. Because they are everywhere, known to everyone, and because they are non harmful and yet annoying. What if I could write a world that changed everything?

Author Interview with Casey Hays

For this weeks spotlight I got in touch with the lovely Casey Hays, She is the author of the dystopian sci-fi series Arrow’s Flight and I was honoured to have her take up my offer of the spotlight and take part in our author interview.

Q:  For those that are new to Casey Hays, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your books?

Casey:  Sure! I am a former high school English teacher turned author. I now work full-time for a District Judge, so finding time to write is a real treasure for me. I have been married since I was 19 years old to an awesome guy. We just celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary last month, and we have a 19 year old son and 15 year old daughter. I live in Clovis, New Mexico, USA. I sing with our praise team at church, go to Zumba two to three times a week, snow ski every winter, and spend every summer vacationing at a beach.

My most popular work is The Arrow’s Flight Series: Breeder, The Archer, and Master. This is a unique YA Dystopian with a crossover element into Science Fiction and Christian genres.

Breeder: Arrow’s Flight 1, is set a little over 100 years after a world war decimated the earth. Specifically men are blamed for this, and the only remaining village has created its own way of preventing something so horrific from ever happening again. They turn their men into “stock” and use them for one purpose: to breed. When 16 year old Kate comes of age, her fate has been chosen: breeder. But Kate has never quite resigned to this duty that will force her to sacrifice her body for the sake of the Village. Thus, her own private rebellion against Fate, the brutal council leader, and the Village itself begins. Readers will meet a strong-willed protagonist, an unlikely love interest, and numerous other endearing characters to fall in love with. The series touches on friendships, love, heartache and spiritual awareness, and balances action-packed scenes against calm touching moments that, I hope, make my readers teary-eyed.

Q:  At what point in your life did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Casey:  Since being inspired by my third grade teacher, I’ve always been a writer and a teacher of writing. But I didn’t become truly serious about making a career of in until my mid-30s when I decided to leave education. Believe it or not, what really sparked my desire was the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer. I love her first and third books especially, and also her stand alone The Host. After I finished reading New Moon, I thought “I could do this!” And so… I did.

Q:   Do you need peace and quiet to write or do you have a playlist to keep you going?  If you do, would you share it with us?

Casey:  Depending on my mood, I need both. There are times when too much noise in my head prevents me from connecting with my characters’ voices, so I have to shut everything down and just listen in the quiet. But most of the time, I need music, as many authors do. And fun fact… I’m a hard rock and metalhead girl, so my playlists are filled with bands like, Skillet, Disciple, Papa Roach, Bring Me the Horizon, Breaking Benjamin, Halestorm, Demon Hunter, Hinder, Nothing More, Disturbed, and the list goes on. I will say that last year I came across a band called Secondhand Serenade that blew me away with its beautiful love songs. Not hard rock by any means, but I’m versatile. The lyrics are amazing, and I’ve since used that band to help with certains scenes where love is showcased. Here’s an example of some of their lyrics:

~Take a look at me so you can see how beautiful you are.

~Hold your breath, because tonight will be the night that I will fall for you.
~I was born to tell you I love you.
~You make it hard to smile because you make it hard to breathe.

These touch my romantically inclined heart!

Q:  Are you characters always a complete work of fiction or is there an element of someone you know to start the idea rolling?

Casey:  A complete work of fiction, but I’m sure many of them are more than likely based on some preconceived notion I have about people I know. Mostly, they just crop up in my imagination and start talking.

Q:  What are you experiences of being an Indie Author, do you find that social media is a help of a distraction to your writing?

Casey:  It’s both really. One of the reasons I have been somewhat successful is because of my social media contacts, mostly through Facebook. I met you, for instance through a Facebook group. I’ve built a following of readers due to my involvement with Band of Dystopian Authors and Fans. I attended two years of Utopia Con and made lifelong friends with Indie authors and readers because I heard about the Con through social media. I’ve met so many wonderful authors and editors and PAs and graphic designers because I stay connected.

When it comes time to write, however, I have to be diligent to stay off my phone and my tablet, because the constant connection is very distracting. When everything is just a push of a button away,  it’s hard to concentrate if I don’t force myself to stay focused.

Q:  What are you currently working on or is it a secret?

Casey:  No secrets here! I just finished revising The Scent of Lilac, the first of three novellas planned for The Arrow’s Flight Series. This one is told from Mia’s point of view. She is a supporting character and Kate’s best friend in Breeder. So… my readers will get to return to the Village to find out what’s been going on. They will also get a more intimate look at Mia. Many readers didn’t care for her before. This is her chance to redeem herself. 🙂 Molly Phipps, author of the Project W.A.R. series (M.A. Phipps) is designing my book cover which will release on August 27. I can’t wait to see it! And the book releases on September 17 with  Band of Dystopian hosting my book launch for anyone who would like to come! I’d love to see you there!

Q:  You took part in the Anthology Prep For Doom, what was it like working with so many other authors in that way, especially as there were crossovers in some of the stories?

Casey:  That was probably one of the most rewarding and fun experiences I’ve had as an author. And to be included among such talent was quite a privilege. I had the honor of collaborating my story with Myra Lang (aka Kate Corcino). I wrote my story from a teenaged girl’s perspective, and Myra took on my character’s boyfriend’s story. We had a great time working to blend our details together. And then we got the surprise of having our characters appear again in another author’s story. Myra and the editing team were the only ones I closely worked with on the project. But we did get to Beta read all the stories once they were revised, and we had a private group on Facebook where we interacted with each other, guessed who wrote what, and had many laughs. Since then, I’ve personally met seven of the 20 authors, and I consider many of them good friends now.

Q:  If you could be any character you have written, who would you choose?

Casey: Hmmm… I think I’d have to say Claudia. She is introduced in Master: Arrow’s Flight 3, and she is a real gem. She’s one of the most forgiving characters I’ve ever written, and she truly is amazing.

Q:  What are you currently reading?
Casey:  I’ve been between reads due to revising, but I’m planning to pick up book two in the Ren series by Sarah Noffke this weekend. That is an amazing series about a snarky Dream Traveling Brit named Ren Lewis who you can’t help but fall in love with. It’s brilliant! And to think that a girl from Texas was able to capture his voice right down to the accent is mind blowing. I highly recommend it!

Q:  Fictional Dinner Party – give me 5 fictional characters or authors who you would have as dinner companions!
Casey:  I love this question! I think I would invite Justin from my series to be my escort. He’s hunky and kind of brooding and super sweet. Katniss Everdeen would be there. It wouldn’t be a party without Ren Lewis to insult us all. And Sarah Noffke would have to be his date to keep him in line… hehehe!  And finally, I would ask one of my favorite authors of all time, Anya Seton, author of Katherine and The Green Darkness. But we would have to hold a seance for that to happen, because she’s dead… haha!

Thank you so much Casey!  I’m excited for your next book, so I will be sure to see you at the release party! 

Review of the Sixth Domicile by Courtney Ruggles

The world has ruined itself.  Wars, corruption, revolution.  In order to protect humanity from further imploding 10 Domiciles are created to house those who survived the revolution.  The Elders creating these to ensure conformity, uniformity and compliance for the greater good.  Our story takes us to the sixth of these domiciles.  So as not to judge or feel hate based on ethnicity all body parts are covered in a black uniform and all faces in a white mask, decorated to denote standing and occupation.  All residents of the domicile are assigned a number at birth, never a name, and a corresponding number assigned to a member of the opposite sex seals your future as pre-determined by the Elders.

Focusing on Q347B (B because she is female) she is as rebellious as the strict laws allow, spending time with B116A, known to her as B (who by fate of a non matching number is not to be her intended) is a friendship which is not unnoticed by the powers that be.  Notwithstanding that, the Elders in their infinite wisdom continue with the birth assigned matches and Ripening ceremony, where the friends are ripped apart and forced into the arms of those they care not for.  Paired with the imposing Q347A, a strict and ardent follower of the domicile laws is soon seen to be a match made to quell her rebellious ways and to ensure obedience to the laws no matter the cost.  The punishment for rebellion has only one outcome, the Muerte, where the law breakers go to die.

Can Q and B continue with their relationship unseen?  Is there truth to the rumours of revolution?  Can Q ever hope to lead a happy life….

Well, what can I say!  I found this book intriguing, emotive and with many unique elements.  I was instantly drawn in by the intelligent writing style and captivating characters.  There are elements of the story that are written in an almost real time way which added to the need to get ever more quickly to the next page.  The first part, which dealt with the Ripening ceremony was very much in this style, which really added to the impending sense of trepidation and despair felt by Q.  The latter chapters are more spaced out, although still covering a relatively short time frame, following the mundane quality of life forced upon her by her match and the horrifying consequences of her continued attempts to simply be herself.  The scale of the domestic violence suffered is heartbreaking and sickening, on more than one occasion I wanted to cry for Q.  It’s not all doom though, there are some really uplifting moments when Q is able to teach for the first time and find stolen time with B.  There can only be one outcome though when a plan by the Elders fails in it’s endeavours and we are left firmly in cliffhanger territory.

There are in my view, some clear comparisons with other books in the genre, I felt elements of the Handmaids Tale and also shades of Katniss (especially with the salute) but as I said at the start there are far more unique elements to this story which more than balance it out and keep it it’s own.  There were times when the numbering system became confusing (and there were a couple of time where I eventually worked out that was down to typo’s) but errors were few and the book well edited.

All in all, a really thought provoking and at times intense read which I really enjoyed.  I have signed up to receive a review copy of book 2 the Vrai Domicile, when it comes out later this month, So I am glad I wont have to wait too long to get an answer to that cliffy!!

Author Interview with Lydia Sherrer

Over at the Playground I am trying something a little different.   In order to truly capture the essence of what the blog is about, I have taken a break from doing a randomly selected spotlight contests and will be choosing authors myself that I feel fit the ethos of the blog.  Just in time for that, I read the post-apocalyptic short story Hope by Lydia Sherrer, which I loved and reviewed earlier in the blog, what better opportunity therefore to hand pick a spotlight author?    

As well as the sort story writing, Lydia is also the author of a modern fantasy series, The Lily Singer Adventures.

Q:  For those that are new to Lydia Sherrer, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your books?

Lydia:  I’m a perfectionist, workaholic geek meister who spends her time making up stories, then thinking up terrible things for her characters to go through to make them better people.  Oh, and snarky humour.  I spend a significant amount of time thinking up snarky things for my characters to say.  When i’m not writing (50% of my time) or trying to market my writing (60% of my time) I spend time gaming with my husband (20% of my time), Playing my Ocarina (10% of my time) and cooking (1% of my time, though I wish it were 0%).  You’ve probably realized by now that all those percentages don’t add up.  Welcome to my life.

My debut series, “Love, Lies, and Hocus Pocus – the Lily Singer Adventures,” is a modern magical fantasy full of adventure, the aforementioned snarky humour, tea, books, and a talking cat.  Lily is a wizard and archivist who just wants to be left alone to take care of the library at Agnes Scott, an all women’s college in Atlanta.  Sebastian is a ne’er-do-well witch who thinks rules are more like guidelines and his favourite thing to do is pop in on Lily and raise her blood pressure.  Many shenanigans ensure.  Despite their opposing personalities, they watch each other’s back while Lily searches for clues about her mysterious past, and Sebastian struggles to face the demons in his (like, literally, there are demons there).

If either I, or my books intrigue you, you can find out more at

Q:  At what point in your life did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Lydia:  Around age 20, after I’d spent so much time writing I decided it would be a waste of my time to not do something constructive with it.

Q:  Do you need peace and quiet to write or do you have a playlist to keep you going?  If you do, would you share it with us?

Lydia:  I almost always need music playing.  It gets me in the mood.  These days I mostly listen to epic music mixes on youtube, but I do have a soft spot for the band Two Steps from Hell.  If I ever need to write something dark and depressing, I listen to the Hunger Games soundtrack (all 4 movies).  That is seriously of the most haunting and tragic stories I’ve come across in a while.  The music reflects it.

Q:  Are you characters always a complete work of fiction or is there an element of someone you know to start the idea rolling?

Lydia:  Writers write what they know.  Every place and character I’ve ever written springs out of someone or something I already know, or have come to know through research.  Many characteristics from my family and friends show up in my characters, because those are the types of people I know well, understand, and can write authentically about.

Q:  What are your experiences of being an Indie Author, do you feel that social media is a help or a distraction to your writing?

Lydia:  I love being an Indie Author.  The creative freedom and autonomy is amazing, thought the responsibilities that go along with it can be crushing at times.  Social media is absolutely essential to survival as an Indie Author.  Though of course I catch myself browsing Facebook or Twitter when I should be writing, I find that the connections and relationships I make on social media always feed back into the wonderful life I have as an Indie Author and help build bridges that help me down the road.  But yes, I admit to getting on Facebook for a particular marketing task and realizing after twenty minutes of mindless browsing that I have absolutely no idea why I got on in the first place.

Q:  What are you currently working on or is it a secret?

Lydia:  I actually just finished a two month writing spree, and the result is the third book in the Lily Singer Adventures!  It is a bit longer than I’d planned for, but I’m sure my readers will cheer at that.  Next up is book four of that series, which along with book three will be coming out Spring 2017. I also have a dark scifi/fantasy series in the wings (vampires, political subterfuge, and two orphan sisters who kick everyone’s collective butt to protect each other) which I hope to start publishing in 2018.  Oh, and I just finished polishing a dystopian scifi short story about retribution and depravity of human nature which I’ll be putting up sometime in August.  I’m all over the place, I know, but I’m happiest when I’m over-worked and sleep-deprived.  Feel free to sign up for my monthly newsletter to up will it all

Q:  There is a bit of a leap between your modern fantasy series and the dystopian world of Hope, is it difficult as a writer to switch genres, or is it best to experiment?

Lydia:  I can only speak for me, as each writer is unique in their methods and thought process.  For me, switching genres isn’t a problem, it’s switching characters that is tricky.  To write well, I have to get in my characters’ heads, or else I wont know what they should be thinking, doing, and saying.  I find it best to finish a work, or at least get to a good stopping place, before hopping over to something different.  For instance, I wanted to finish the Lily Singer Adventures Book 3 (last Friday), before I went back today to my scifi dystopian short.

Q:  If you could be any character you have written, who would you choose?

Lydia:  None of them, actually.  I like my life just fine, and the type of character I’d prefer to be is horribly unrealistic and would make a terrible book (a super overpowered, badass fighter who kicks all butts, never loses, and makes out with the hot guy at the end.  Very satisfying but terrible writing material).

If you forced me at gunpoint to be one of my characters, I’d pick the talking cat Sir Edgar Allan Kipling from my Lily Singer Adventures series.  Being a cat would be awesome, since I’d always be right, could get into anything, and would have an unending supply of food and adoring fans.  Sounds like the life, right?

Q:  What are you currently reading?

Lydia:  The Bands of Mourning, by Brandon Sanderson.  I really like the way he mixes science and fantasy in his Mistborm books and he is very good at writing relatable, likeable characters.

Q:  Fictional Dinner Party – give me 5 fictional characters of authors who you have as dinner companions.

Lydian:  All authors.  While I enjoy fantasy and fiction, I enjoy them because of what they teach me about myself and the world around me, not because I’d rather be in them than in realisty.  The authors who wrote the stories that changed my life are the true heroes:  JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis, Terry Pratchett, Tamora Pierce, and Robin McKinley.

Thanks so much Lydia for answering our questions!  I am very much looking forward to your new series starting in 2018, and I hope for continuing success with your Lily Singer Adventures!

Throwback Thursday – Northern Lights (His Dark Materials) Philip Pullman

So I was thinking that 1995 wasn’t much of a throwback until I realised that this was 20 years ago and I’m clearly older than I think!  It’s strange to reflect that this, as the first book in a trilogy I adore, is a book I would never have read had it not been for my lovely friend Vanessa Cannon who added it to a huge stack of books she lent me to get through the long non-drinking nights of being pregnant.  It stood out to me as soon as I went through the pile and it was the first that I read and i’m glad she packed the whole trilogy for me!

Set in a parallel reality, where souls live live outside the body in an animal form known as Daemons.  We meet 12 year old Lyra Belacqua, a college student and niece of the explorer Lord Asriel.  When Lord Asriel attends to college to seek funding for his expedition to find out more about “dust”, she smuggles herself into that meeting and learns much more than she was meant to.  Around this time a number of children are found to be going missing and the mysterious “gobblers” are to blame.  Armed with an Alethiometer, a kind of future telling compass, which was awarded to her by a college master, she goes in search of her friend who was taken.  Her journey, which leads her to the arctic, means she must escape the clutches of the sinister Mrs Coulter and hide within the Gyptians who help her on her quest – as they too have those they have lost and are seeking to find.  At her destination, she finds out the horrifying reason that the Gobblers are taking children, discovers her uncle has been exiled and that Dust is a more potent and powerful substance than she could have ever imagined.

This is a story that is rich with intrigue and has genuinely fearful moments, Mrs Coulter’s monkey daemon will forever be a terrifying entity.  My biggest love in this book however is Iorek Byrnison, the King of the armoured bears, for their armour is their soul as daemons are to humans.  I don’t know why, maybe I just love the names the bears have but he is my favourite character by far.  It is a true traveller’s tale, with many lively characters and the subtle weave of a backstory beginning to show it’s face.  It’s also a story of the sacrifices we make to not only search for and save those we love or want to help, but also the sacrifices to others for the sake of the success of ideas, no matter the cost.

The magic was almost destroyed for me when I watched the film version, The Golden Compass – anyone else think that Daniel Craig was a horrible casting choice for Lord Asriel??