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

Book 268: 2012: MIDNIGHT IN SPANISH GARDENS Review

Imagine you can go back in time and live an alternate life. You make different choices and have different experiences with potentially different people. Perhaps it means no kids, a different career choice, a different spouse or perhaps no spouse at all. Are you willing to make that choice? You only have a few seconds to decide, so what do you do? This is the dilemma that faces five friends on the eve of 12/21/2012 in 2012: Midnight at Spanish Gardens by Alma Alexander.

Olivia, John, Quincey, Ellen and Simon have no idea what’s in store for them on this wintry December evening. They haven’t really been in contact with one another since college and that’s been over twenty years ago. It seems quite fortuitous that they agree to meet at an old college hangout, Spanish Gardens, on the evening that the world is supposed to come to an end. They are all greeted by an enigmatic gentleman, ostensibly the bartender, Ariel. Ariel doesn’t really intrude in their evening but he does seem to provide them all with interesting yet profoundly insightful statements. And it the mysterious Ariel that provides all five with the ultimate decisions of go back in time, live an alternate life and stay in that alternate history or return and continue with the present history.

Simon is the last to enter the restaurant and the first to experience an alternate past. In this life he suffers through the premature death of both parents due to a car accident and is raised by his maternal grandmother. He becomes a respected university professor and restarts a world-renowned, university-founded literary magazine. He also becomes instrumental in the success of several students turned authors. His choice is to stay in this life without children or spouse or return to his life with a wife, children and fame as an author. Is his fame more important than his students? What choice will he make?

John was the proverbial wild child. Once he learned about his inauspicious origins and his father’s behavior he no longer wants to be the good child that follows in his father’s footsteps or so he thinks. In his alternate life he does become a doctor and eventually gives his life over to philanthropy by working with Doctors Without Borders. It is rather ironic because with the exception of working as a physician in one life, John’s lives mirror one another. In one he is alone and travels the world as an organizer for aid and relief with UNESCO and in the other he is also alone and travels the world to give aid and relief as a doctor. Which life is preferred since they are so closely aligned?

Quincey and Ellen are both faced with truly life altering alternate pasts. Quincey must decide if marriage (even the one that didn’t work out), children and being a single mom are more important that an unexpected but deeply rewarding love. Ellen is also faced with the choice of children vs. no children, but her choice is even more difficult as her alternate past is as a completely different person altogether. Olivia is the first person that we meet in this tale and her alternate life is the last presented. Her choices are just as difficult, but she seems to have a better grasp on what mistakes not to make in this lifeline. I won’t mention the details of her alternate life or the choices that she has to make, but it is Olivia’s story that ultimately ties the others together and provides clarity. All five friends are faced with impossible choices. Fortunately once they make a final choice their alternate life becomes nothing more than a blur of possibilities.

Everyone likes the idea of going back and changing things, possibly righting the wrong decisions or simply making a different decision. Ms. Alexander shows that this is not always as easy as we think. I have to say that I rather enjoyed this story. There were moments when I wasn’t sure about the story simply because of long and rambling sentences, use of terms such as susurrus and serried (yes I had to look them up, see below), or seemingly disjointed conversations. But even with these issues I continued on and was pleasantly surprised by the intriguing stories. I became invested in learning more about the characters and wanted to see what choices they would make. In the end I was thoroughly and pleasantly surprised by just how much I liked 2012: Midnight In Spanish Gardens

Disclaimer: I received this book free for review purposes. 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.”



Susurrus: a soft murmuring or rustling sound; whisper.
Serried: pressed together or compacted, as soldiers in rows: serried troops.