Book Spotlight: MASTER OF POISONS by Andrea Hairston

Cover for MASTER OF POISONS by Andrea Hairston in yellow and gold tones in hexagonal blocks, much like a beehive; a faint picture of a bee is seen in the upper left-hand corner, centered on the page is a profile view of an African woman; one overly large hexagon block is blacked out and features the text: "Includes an extensive conversational interview between the author and Daniel Jose Older!"' quote on bottom of cover, above the author's name: "Sheer, undiluted brilliance. Epic, courageous, unapologetically fierce." Daniel Jose Older

Master of Poisons by Andrea Hairston
ISBN-10: 1250260566 (trade paperback)
ISBN-13: 9781250260567 (trade paperback)
ISBN: 9781250260550 (ebook – released on 09/08/2020)
ISBN: 9781250772718 (Digital audiobook – released on 09/15/2020)
ASIN: B082RTK2XT (Kindle edition – released on 09/08/2020)
ASIN: B0876HRFHZ (Audible audiobook – released on 09/08/2020)
Release Date: August 31, 2021 for Trade Paperback
Publisher: Tordotcom
Genre: Fiction | Fantasy | Speculative Fiction

Named a Best of 2020 Pick for Kirkus Review’s Best Books of 2020

NEW MATERIAL FOR A NEW EDITION!

This trade paperback includes an extensive, conversational interview between the author and Daniel José Older!.

The world is changing. Poison desert eats good farmland. Once-sweet water turns foul. The wind blows sand and sadness across the Empire. To get caught in a storm is death. To live and do nothing is death. There is magic in the world, but good conjure is hard to find.

Djola, righthand man and spymaster of the lord of the Arkhysian Empire, is desperately trying to save his adopted homeland, even in exile.

Awa, a young woman training to be a powerful griot, tests the limits of her knowledge and comes into her own in a world of sorcery, floating cities, kindly beasts, and uncertain men.

Awash in the rhythms of folklore and storytelling and rich with Hairston’s characteristic lush prose, Master of Poisons is epic fantasy that will bleed your mind with its turns of phrase and leave you aching for the world it burns into being.

 

Praise for Master of Poisons

“This is a prayer hymn, a battle cry, a love song, a legendary call and response bonfire talisman tale. This is medicine for a broken world.” —Daniel José Older

“Hairston dazzles with this complex epic fantasy about people struggling to survive in the world they’ve helped destroy…this is an urgent, gorgeous work.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“This book’s lyrical language and unsparing vision make it a mind-expanding must-read.” —Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

Master of Poisons is a lush, literary fantasy novel full of folklore and magic.” —Buzzfeed

“Epic fantasy readers, you’re about to read your new favorite book. With its large cast of characters, stunning worldbuilding, gorgeous prose, and fascinating magic, Master of Poisons will shake you to your core. Andrea Hairston has done it again. All hall the queen.” —Tor.com

“You could practically smell the brine, hear the gulls by the sea, and taste the nut butter and sweet mango slices…This is a vast world that you are dropped in.” —Women of Color Read

Master of Poisons makes me laugh, gasp, and dream of the world we are so desperately holding onto and of a better world yet to come . . . I am so grateful Andrea hasn’t given up on us! May she keep gifting our world with her expansive imagination throughout the years!” —Sheree Renée Thomas

“Nobody does it better than Andrea Hairston, and if you doubt it, just open Master of Poisons and follow her into the light.” —Pearl Cleage

“Andrea Hairston’s writing is not to be missed. Her fantasy is rich with evocative detail, stunning and original, and her characters deeply humane and engaging. This is the kind of fantasy that expands your mind and warms your heart.” —Martha Wells

Meet The Author

Author - Andrea HairstonAndrea Hairston is a novelist, essayist, playwright, and the Artistic Director of Chrysalix Theatre. She is the author of Redwood and Wildfire, winner of the 2011 Tiptree Award and the Carl Brandon Kindred Award, and of Mindscape, shortlisted for the Phillip K. Dick and Otherwise Award, and winner of the Carl Brandon Parallax Award. In her spare time, Hairston is the Louise Wolff Kahn 1931 Professor of Theatre and Afro-American Studies at Smith College. She has received the International Association of the Fantastic in the Arts Distinguished Scholarship Award for outstanding contributions to the criticism of the fantastic.

Book Spotlight: THE DREAMCATCHER CODES by Barbara Newman

THE DREAMCATCHER CODES - BNewmanThe Dreamcatcher Codes by Barbara Newman
ISBN-10: 1733653473 (paperback)
ISBN-13: 9781733653473 (paperback)
Release Date: July 27, 2021
Publisher: Green Writers Press
Genre: Fiction | Young Adult | Speculative Fiction

FOUR GIRLS. FOUR DIRECTIONS. ONE PURPOSE.

Powered by the elements earth, air, fire, and water, and secret messages from mystical dreamcatchers, four girls join forces on a quest to recover the stolen piece of the coveted Crystal Horseshoe. Snatched by a giant raven during a raging storm, this sacred talisman holds the Codes of Nature and is the very key to its survival. Maia from the North has been called by Sophia, Guardian of Mother Earth, to find and lead the Crystal Warriors on this daring path into the unknown. Falcon, Ava, and Yue complete the circle of four, and together, bravely face what lies ahead. But time is running out. The bees are dying. The oceans are filled with plastic. Humanity has lost its way. And the girls’ search is threatened by shapeshifters in the sky who want the crystal destroyed. Will this fierce cowgirl sisterhood, mythical horses by their side, overcome the destructive forces of greed and heal Mother Earth? Guided by the ancestors, wisdom from river and rock, symbols and stones, and the plant and animal kingdoms, each girl must rely on her own courageous spirit in order to protect the future of the planet she loves.

The Dreamcatcher Codes builds cultural bridges, unity, and hope, and illuminates two important issues of our time: climate change and girls claiming their voices and vital place in the world.

Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: IndieBound.org | Amazon | BookDepository.com

Advance Praise

“Imagination, adventure and hope rests within these pages” —Great-grandmother Mary Lyons, Ojibwe Elder and Author

“The essence of the divine feminine is captured in the stories within The Dreamcatcher Codes. This compassionate and creative force touches the heart with visions of the natural world and of unity amongst earth’s diverse plant, animal and human nations. It is a call to action to heal humanity’s relationship with the planet.” —Alexis Estes, Lower Brule Sioux Tribe

“This book is a work of art. It is also timely and necessary for it calls the inheritors of today’s world, home to the sacred connection with nature that is their birthright and their teacher if they can remember how to listen, or keep the connection alive. This book is a homecoming, it is medicine for the soul and it is frankly glorious. Savor it, share it, be touched deeply by it.” —Clare Dubois, Founder TreeSisters.org

“Now, more than ever, teenage girls need to step into the possibilities of who they are and have the potential to become. The Dreamcatcher Codes invites them to cultivate their imaginative power and explore how Mother Nature, along with the deep and nurturing bonds of sisterhood, can guide them to know themselves, and connect to their own strengths. At an age when girls are seeking to belong, this mythic and empowering story helps them discover how nature is a part of all of us. The author ingeniously interweaves messages of wisdom and insights from a culturally diverse array of ancient traditions that honor our common humanity as caretakers of our planet, and of each other.” —Ellen Feig Gray, M.A. Parent Coach, Developmental Psychologist, Author, TEDx Speaker

“Barbara Newman is a visionary. Using her pen like an artist uses a brush, she creates landscapes that take us out of ourselves and into worlds of wonder. I flew with the cowgirls through lush pink skies and over the stunning beauty of the open desert. And I didn’t want to stop.” —Jana Laiz, award-winning author of The Twelfth Stone

The Dreamcatcher Codes is a book stuffed to the brim with empowerment, artistry, adventure, and solidarity. It is one of those stories that sticks in your heart and reminds us of the ability to bring about change no matter how impossible it might seem. It is a reminder of hope to those in a generation that feels powerless against a catastrophe that looms, and a reminder that there are few things stronger than the true bonds of sisterhood and love, where friends suffer and triumph together. I believe that every young woman who goes on this journey with these four guardians will come out on the other side a little bit stronger, a little bit braver, and much more aware of her power to change the world.” —Cassandra Taylor, GWP Bennington College Field Work Term Intern

“Weaving magic and womanhood with love of our beautiful planet, the writer has brought a story to life I wish I’d been able to read as a young girl. The Dreamcatcher Codes will inspire you to speak up for what is right, to have hope and above all…be brave… just like a cowgirl.” —Adrian Brannan, singer/songwriter, author Dear Cowgirl

Meet The Author

Author - Barbara NewmanBarbara Newman always wanted to be a cowgirl. Growing up in New York didn’t stop her. She took that can-do spirit and became an award-winning global creative director, leaving an indelible mark on brand culture. After hearing an NPR story about the American cowgirl, she was so inspired, she left the ad world and found herself in Montana, Wyoming, and Texas filming a documentary about their lives. An advocate for empowering girls, Barbara facilitates girls’ leadership programs, and was part of the think tank that inspired the Fred Rogers Center for Children’s Media/Education. The Dream Catcher Codes is her first novel.

Connect with the the author via:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Giveaway

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway for one (1) print copy of The Dreamcatcher Codes by Barbara Newman courtesy of Saichek Publicity. This giveaway is limited to residents of the United States. Any non-US entry will be disqualified. This giveaway is open from 12:01 AM ET on 07/27/2021 through 11:59 PM ET on 7/31/2021. The winner will be selected and announced by 10:00 AM ET on 08/01/2021. Please note that the book will be sent to the winner by Saichek Publicity. Void where prohibited by law.

Addendum 07/28/2021: Due to issues with my Twitter account (account was hacked/suspended/and is in the process of being reactivated), this giveaway has been amended. Sorry for any problems you might have had with this one in the past 24 hours, Vivian aka The Book Diva.

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This spotlight and giveaway brought to you by Saichek Publicity

2020 Book 427: THE AWAKENING by Nora Roberts

The Awakening, The Dragon Heart Legacy #1, by Nora Roberts 
ISBN: 9781250272614 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781250272607 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781250770301 (digital audiobook)
ISBN: 9781250770295 (audiobook on CD)
ASIN: B083LMBNFL  (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B082RS9D42  (Kindle edition)
Publication date: November 24, 2020 
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

In the realm of Talamh, a teenage warrior named Keegan emerges from a lake holding a sword—representing both power and the terrifying responsibility to protect the Fey. In another realm known as Philadelphia, a young woman has just discovered she possesses a treasure of her own…


When Breen Kelly was a girl, her father would tell her stories of magical places. Now she’s an anxious twentysomething mired in student debt and working a job she hates. But one day she stumbles upon a shocking discovery: her mother has been hiding an investment account in her name. It has been funded by her long-lost father—and it’s worth nearly four million dollars.


This newfound fortune would be life-changing for anyone. But little does Breen know that when she uses some of the money to journey to Ireland, it will unlock mysteries she couldn’t have imagined. Here, she will begin to understand why she kept seeing that silver-haired, elusive man, why she imagined his voice in her head saying Come home, Breen Siobhan. It’s time you came home. Why she dreamed of dragons. And where her true destiny lies—through a portal in Galway that takes her to a land of faeries and mermaids, to a man named Keegan, and to the courage in her own heart that will guide her through a powerful, dangerous destiny…


Purchase Links #CommissionEarned:  IndieBound  |  Amazon  |  Amazon Kindle  |  Audible  |  Barnes and Noble  |  B&N Audiobook on CD  |  B&N Nook Book  |  BookDepository  |  Downpour Audiobook  |  eBooks  |  !ndigo  |  Kobo Audiobook  |  Kobo eBook


Watch the book trailer 





Book Review

Breen Kelly is young, healthy, and employed, but she is not happy. She’s not happy with her full-time teaching job. She’s not happy with the amount of student loan debt she has. She’s not happy that she has had to work several part-time jobs just to help pay off her debts. In addition, she has a horrible relationship with her mother, Jennifer Wilcox. The only part of her life that she is happy with is her friendships with her roommate — Marco Olsen, one of Marco’s bosses and Breen’s surrogate mother, Salvador “Sally” Travino — drag queen extraordinaire and bar owner, as well as Derrick Lacross — Sally’s lover. So when Breen learns that her father hadn’t simply abandoned her, had been sending money all these years he’s been gone, and the account held close to four million dollars AND that her mother had never said a word to her about it, Breen blew up. She quickly took control of the account, quit her teaching job at the end of the current school year, and made arrangements to travel first class with Marco to Ireland. That would have been enough if it weren’t for the unusual dreams involving dragons, horses, a gorgeous man with a sword and staff, as well as an impending sense of evil and doom. Although Breen’s mother did everything she could to keep Breen “average and ordinary” she was something much, much more, born of the Fey, a demigod, and of the modern world. Breen has finally awakened to her gifts and the possibilities of being more. As she awakened to her Fey talents, she also discovered her talents for writing. With the push from Marco and others, she began to write a travel blog and then fiction She ultimately finds that she can make a living at something other than teaching when she not only finds a literary agent but sells not one but three books to a publisher. While in Ireland, Breen also discovers the reason why her father never returned for any visits, meets her paternal grandmother, and uncovers much more than she could ever imagine when she falls (literally) into the multiverse land of Talamh. Will Breen embrace the true legacy left by her father and his people and fight against evil in Talamh or turn her back on them and try to live her life quietly in the modern world?


If you follow my blog, you’ve probably noticed via my GoodReads feed that I’ve read and re-read quite a number of Nora Roberts books over the years. Okay, I’ve re-read quite a few in just the past few months. What can I say other than I enjoy reading Nora Roberts’ books! The Awakening is somewhat reminiscent of several of her previous fantasy trilogies, namely “The Cousins O’Dwyer” and “Chronicles of The One” series where someone is “awakened” and discovers their magical talents, and then must accept their duty that comes with their awakening, namely to fight against evil. The difference with The Awakening is that Breen must accept that if she doesn’t fight against evil, namely her paternal grandfather Odran, the land of Talamh, as well as her modern world might be lost. All her life, Breen has tried to be unobtrusive and fit in, and now she has to not only stand out and stand up but be exceptional and fight to protect all that she loves. I enjoyed the self-discovery portion of this story, as well as the friendship/found-family relationships between Breen, Marco, and Sally. I loved reading about Talamh and all of the Fey as well. Hey dragons, elves, witches, and trolls, what’s not to love?! I enjoyed the way Ms. Roberts melded the two halves of Breen’s life as Breen became more comfortable with the two worlds that she straddles. Of course, there are bad guys in the story, namely Breen’s paternal grandfather Odran and his followers, but there are also good guys and a romance interest guy, namely Keegan Byrne — the current taoiseach or leader of Talamh and the Fey. There are also old friendships renewed, new powers discovered as well as new talents uncovered. There’s a lot happening in The Awakening, but Ms. Roberts, as always, does an excellent job of creating the world of Talamh, introducing us to the evil that threatens that world and ours, as well as crafting the beginning of a fine romance. I can’t wait to see what happens next. If you enjoy reading about fantasy, magic, dragons, the fey, or a romance with a little something different, then I suggest you grab a copy of The Awakening to read. For now, I’ll be patiently waiting for the next installment in this series by re-reading a few more stories by Ms. Roberts.


Happy Reading, y’all!


Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book 28: KODACHROME Review

Kodachrome by Jason Jahns
ISBN: 978-0984749102
Publisher: North Star Books

What Do You See?

Kodachrome is a novel about a global revolution that cuts across cultural, economic, and geographic divides; a conflict between the forces of rampant greed and demands for fairness and dignity.
The two main characters are extraordinary yet solitary – reluctant warriors who never meet. Miranda Carter is a cloistered graduate student dispatched to meet her estranged Mormon grandmother and examine a bizarre medical prognosis. Zhuli Cai is an unassuming young Chinese army officer willing to give everything to save the members of his unit. He holds a heavy secret.
Miranda and Zhuli are thrown headlong into technological and supernatural intrigue and deceit. They reckon with true impossibilities and face their own worst fears in a world of double-crosses, prophets, spies, presidential candidates, and Chinese revolutionaries.
On its way to a truly surprise ending, Kodachrome will beguile you with thriller-like tempo, the foresight of science fiction, deep social truths normally found only in historical novels, and a plot that you have never seen before – anywhere.


Miranda thought that she was without any family, alone in the world, until she is informed that her maternal grandmother is alive. Unfortunately there are ulterior motives as her superiors want to send her to Utah to not only meet her grandmother but have her examine her, ostensibly for medical research purposes. 

While Miranda goes off to Utah to discover her Mormon roots and meet her grandmother, there are strange happenings going on in China. Initially we are lead to believe that Zhuli is in the Chinese army as he works hard to protect his unit and provide a better environment for all. It isn’t until the reader is part of the way into the story that you realize that Zhuli is playing a computer simulation game. 

It is hard to imagine that a computer simulation game and an elderly Mormon woman in Utah have much in common. It is even harder to imagine that Zhuli, Miranda and her grandmother may hold the keys to a new world order. To say that there are twists in this story is a massive understatement. I initially had a very difficult time reading Kodachrome as it wasn’t clear how a Chinese gamer, an American researcher and Mormon history could have anything in common. The author does a credible job on combining the various plots and subplots into one cohesive story and just when you think you understand what’s going on there’s another twist. Kodachrome, for me, was part thriller and part fantasy. Both Zhuli and Miranda’s adventures could be classified as thriller but Miranda’s storyline was the more appealing of the two for me. Zhuli’s story was a little more fantastical and seemed to provide most of the plot twists. Even with all of the plot twists and more fantastical elements Kodachrome works and was an enjoyable read. I was a little disappointed with the ending and sincerely hope that there’s more for these characters in the future.

To read more about Kodachrome please visit: www.kodachromethebook.com


Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



Book 135: THE SKIN MAP Review

The Skin Map by Stephen R. Lawhead
Publisher: Thomas Nelson, Inc.
Release date: May 31, 2011 (paperback)


C. Christopher “Kit” Livingstone is an average 20-something male. He is employed and has a girlfriend, and he isn’t happy with either one. Kit’s life changes when he meets his great-grandfather and is taught about ley lines that provide for inter-dimensional time travel — different times and alternate universes. Unfortunately he tries to impress his girlfriend, Wilhelmina “Mina” Klug with ley line travel. Mina gets taken to early 17th century Prague whereas Kit is taken to 17th century England. What follows is a wild adventure of discovery and intrigue. Mina finds her place by becoming a successful merchant as co-owner of a bakery and coffeehouse and even earns a royal warrant. Kit is still floundering while trying to understand the importance of ley lines, the “skin map” that depicts and decodes these ley lines, and his role in decoding the information. 


This story is told from multiple points of views, namely Kit, Mina, Lord Burleigh and Arthur Flinders-Petrie. The reader travels to Macau, ancient Egypt during the times of the pharaohs, early 20th century Egypt and the discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb by Henry Carter and Lord Carnarvon, and alternate 17th century European civilizations. The mystery lies in the ultimate purpose of the ley lines and the search for the Well of Souls, something that only Mr. Flinders-Petrie apparently knew and had coded into symbols tattooed onto his body. There are hints given to myths and mysteries but nothing is ever spelled out.


Although Kit’s role seems to be pivotal to this story I found all of the other characters much more interesting. Mina is determined to make the best of a bad situation and quickly adapts to living in the 16th century. Mr. Flinders-Petrie is the key and we’re allowed a glimpse of his life and travels in Macau and ancient Egypt. I enjoyed reading about the various adventures each person has and even learning about the theories behind the ley lines and their importance in the hypothetical omniverse. The Skin Map is well-written but it moved a little too slow for my tastes, not to mention leaving too many questions to be answered in, presumably, the remaining books. I enjoyed this book but I doubt if I’ll be reading any more in this series, it simply wasn’t that captivating.


Disclaimer: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not paid, required nor otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”