Wednesday, December 6, 2017

An Interview with Terry O'Sean of War Of Loyalties

Purchase the paperback or Kindle on Amazon
Today I am pleased to host Schuyler McConkey as part of the blog tour/party for her WWI novel War of Loyalties! She is interviewing Terry O'Sean, one of the cast of characters in her novel, and we get to listen in! Unfamiliar with the synopsis or the author? Well here you go.

Synopsis: April, 1917. A ring of German spies threatens the coastal town of Folkestone, England. Newly-recruited agent Ben Dorroll must uncover which British citizens are traitors to their country. When his first attempt at espionage falls prey to a trap laid by German sympathizers, the security of the British Secret Service is threatened. Feeling lost in a strange country and aching for a steady place to call home, he wants to resign and go back to his American medical work. But when he learns that his family identity holds the key to capturing the spy ring, Ben has no choice but to unite with the mysterious Jaeryn Graham so that the truth can be discovered.

In the aftermath of the Irish Rebellion, Jaeryn Graham's British colleagues look warily on his Irish background. Always up for a challenge, he thinks his new mission in the Secret Service should be an opportunity to prove his prowess. But after encountering death and alienating two agents, he finds the road to victory isn't as easy as he thought. Unless he can win the loyalties of his newest assistant, Ben Dorroll, his secret ambitions and his perfect success record will be destroyed.

About the Author: Schuyler McConkey is a writing teacher, book reviewer, and ministry leader living half of her life in happy fellowship with her family and spending the other half in angst-filled fictional worlds. She is passionate about classic, Dickensian stories and characters who encounter deep struggles touched by grace. Irish music, British movies, and chai lattes provide the fuel for her dreams.

So without further ado:

The Interview of Terry O'Sean

1. What’s their favourite book/movie/play/etc.?
Terry: Well, um, I actually haven’t read a book since I decided I was going to be done with school. And I don’t go to the movies, and I don’t really have time for plays. Books are kind of dull.

2. Is there anything they regret doing?
Terry: I guess I regret leaving home as soon as I did. It’s not that I want to go back, but it would have been nice to appreciate it more while I was there, you know? It was a good home growing up.

3. If they were sick or wounded, who would take care of them and how?
Terry: Oh, don’t send me to the hospital, I hate the idea of going to a hospital.
Schuyler: But when you’re sick sometimes you need them to take care of you.
Terry: I’ll just find a buddy to patch me up and keep on going. I heal fast.

4. Is there an object they can’t bear to part with and why?
Terry: I have a knife. It’s a nice blade with Celtic engraving on the handle, and I bring it everywhere with me in case I need it. I tend to need it, with my job.

5. What are 5 ways to win their heart (or friendship)?
Terry: Sweet
Schuyler: Blonde hair
Terry: Blue eyes
Schuyler: Shy
Terry: Name of Pearlie Dorroll
Schuyler: We’ve got to come up with something better than that, Terry.
Terry: Something better than the truth?
Schuyler: OK. You win, Terry. You win.

6. Describe a typical outfit for them from top to bottom.

Schuyler: Worn, scuffed brown work boots. Brown pants, and a shirt rolled up to his elbows, no jacket. I don’t think he tends to wear socks unless he has to.

7. What’s their favorite type of weather?
Terry: Kind of cold weather, just on the edge of winter or just after the first snow. I like it when it’s cold out. Makes me feel alive.

8. What’s the worst fight they’ve ever been in?
Terry: Got mixed up with some street thugs when I was knocking around in Asia once and woke up with a sore head. I could take ‘em now, though. Maybe I’ll go back sometime and try to find ‘em.

9. What names or nicknames have they been called throughout their life?
Terry: Well, Terry is a nickname for Turlough. Terry just feels friendlier, you know? So I tell people to call me that. Beyond Terry it’s scamp, mostly.

10. What makes their heart feel alive?
Schuyler: I think most people who have met Terry know the answer to this question. Aside from the obvious—
Terry: Excuse me, I’m answering this question. And the obvious needs saying.
Schuyler: He feels alive with fresh air, hard work, and laughing with people he loves.
Terry: I don’t know what in the world you mean about all this fresh air. I never think about fresh air. I think about Acushla

11. Where were you born and where did you grow up?
Terry: I was born in Richmond, Virginia, and I grew up with my Mum and Dad and my sister, Erin, in a little white city house. We went to church on Sunday and worked hard during the week, and in the evenings we would play games or sing. I skipped school whenever I could, but I always got in trouble. I couldn’t wait to leave home and explore the world, so at seventeen I left, but I still love them.

(Questions 1-10 of this interview goes to Beautiful People March 2017 Edition:

Did that make you even more excited to get to know these characters? I am more excited! *hugs book*

And for all my lovely giveaway loving friends you can find the Rafflecoptor giveaway below. She is hosting three prizes, so make sure you check out the details on those. The third prize is international!


First Prize Winner:
-Paperback copy of War of Loyalties
-“Jaeryn’s Vow” 8x10 poster
-Custom War of Loyalties mug

Second Prize Winner:
-Ebook of War of Loyalties
-Real vintage Folkestone postcard (this is a postcard that has actually been posted in 1917.)

Third Prize Winner: (open to international winners)
-Ebook of War of Loyalties

US residents only for 1st and 2nd prizes. Accounts created solely for giveaways not eligible.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Book Review: Ten Thousand Thorns


Princess Morning Light meditates in a hidden temple surrounded by ten thousand thorns. Guardian of a long-lost sword skill, the princess is destined to wake after a hundred years to return justice to All-Under-Heaven.

Or so legend says.

As the Vastly Martial Emperor extends his brutal domination across the world, rebel leader Clouded Sky flees the capital for the safety of his martial sect at Wudang Mountain. Meanwhile, the renegade martial artist Iron Maiden seeks a hero to awaken Morning Light. As bounty hunters and imperial guards close in, Clouded Sky must determine who he can trust - and who may be planning to betray him.

An action-packed retelling of Sleeping Beauty in the style of a Chinese martial arts epic! Novella, approximately 39,000 words.
— Synopsis from Goodreads

She has done it again. If you have followed my blog for any amount of time, you know I am a huge fan of Suzannah Rowntree’s fairytale retellings. I have little background in fairytales, except the ones Disney made famous, but Suzannah not only introduces me to the ones I am unfamiliar with but delivers a new spin on the familiar. Ten Thousand Thorns takes Sleeping Beauty to China in an exciting spin as a martial arts epic. It is beautiful, epic, adventurous, and thoughtful.

Following the journey that Clouded Sky and Iron Maiden undertake, I never knew for certain if this Sleeping Beauty retelling would play out how I expected it would. And, if I am honest, it did not play out how I expected it to. AND I LOVE THAT! This utterly unique retelling will keep you guessing and engrossed, while delivering all of Rowntree’s storytelling trademarks: real characters, vivid world building, and hints of allegory.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Book Review: Saving Amelie

photograph by me
Finding solid Christian published fiction has become something of a hunt for me. I have made it a habit to scroll through publishing houses upcoming release catalogues online and look through Christian fiction titles on Goodreads. Too often, I scroll through synopsis after synopsis in disappointment. I’m sorry. I just feel like Christian publishing is releasing rehashing after rehashing of the same story on loop. And we can do so much better than this. I really believe we can. We need to broaden the scope of Christian publishing outside of the romance genre and what is classified as women’s fiction. Yes, they have a place but we could be doing so much better. And that is why I became increasingly excited and invested in Cathy Gohlke’s Saving Amelie.

Saving Amelie hosts an intriguing and heartbreaking look at the Nazis work with eugenics and their mission for a pure Aryan race. Gohlke does not take a feel good route with this hard topic. This is hard novel where the characters forced to face hard situations, make hard choices, and ask some really hard questions about their own choices and beliefs. As Rachel and Jason try to smuggle the deaf Amelie out of Germany and away from her SS officer father, they have to grapple with why the Nazis are wrong. And therein lies this book's strength. The characters are not just going on an exciting adventure where everything ends up happily. They are forced to reevaluate their own motives and beliefs and change.

So, yes, I was impressed by this book and have begun tracking down Gohlke’s other novels. I just hope they live up to the expectations that this book has set.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Bookstores I Visited In London (& Paris)

In September I went to England, y'all! It was probably the most surreal vacation I have ever taken. I kept turning to my sister and we'd both ask each other: "Are we really here?" I guess that happens when lifelong dreams come true.

We stayed in London and took two day trips, one to Oxford and a second one to Paris. But let's talk about the bookstores I visited.

photographs & collage by me
Daunt Books —
The first bookstore I visited was Daunt Books near Baker Street and the land where everything is named after Sherlock Holmes. The store specializes in travel books but also has a solid collection of other genres— especially Vintage Classics and a whole shelf of beautifully vintage looking Agatha Christie reprints. If money and suitcase space was no object, I would have had a field day. I resigned myself to just purchasing the Vintage Classics edition of Persuasion by Jane Austen. Though I was sorely tempted by that cover for The Great Gatsby. Be still my cover loving heart.

photographs & collage by me
Shakespeare and Company —
During my day trip to Paris, I visited this iconic bookstore that has been on my bucket list ever since I first learned about it in a picture book about Paris when I was little. It is just how you imagine a bookshop in Paris should be. Narrow passages and a winding staircase leading to an upstairs filled with more books. Sadly, photography isn't allowed inside. I did not actually buy a book here (shocking, I know, but I wanted to ensure I had enough money for food), so I bought a tote bag instead. Must say I do not regret buying that tote bag. Best purchase ever. (Side note: London is like California. Grocery stores expect you to bring your own grocery bag.)

photograph & collage by me
Blackwell's Bookshop, Oxford —
I ended my day trip to Oxford by visiting this massive bookstore and purchasing a Penguin Little Black Classics edition of Lady Susan by Jane Austen. Browsing through all those gloriously gorgeous British covers could very easily have become a new hobby for me. It was such a treat to be able to see them in person instead of browsing through them on Book Depository or Instagram.

photographs & collage by me
Charing Cross Road —
Like every sensible human being who has read 84, Charing Cross Road I made a pilgrimage to that beautiful street— and stumbled my way through London Fashion Week while doing so. While, horror of horrors, I was too pressed for time to find that famed address, I did get to visit two still open secondhand bookstores on the street: Any Amount of Books and Quinto & Francis Edwards Booksellers. I acquired a vintage edition of Georgette Hyer's The Grand Sophy at Any Amount of Books for only a pound! They were having a basement sale where everything was one pound.

Have any of you been to these bookstores or cities? What are some of the bookstores you have visited on your travels?

Monday, October 30, 2017

Cover Reveal for A Sidekick's Tale

 Elisabeth Grace Foley has a new release coming out in November, everybody, and today is The Great Cover Reveal! *applause*

Meredith Fayett needed to marry someone before the week was out or she would lose her ranch. It sounded simple, so ranch hand Chance Stevens agreed to take on the job, in spite of his friend Marty’s warnings that it could only lead to trouble. But even Marty, a loyal though opinionated sidekick, couldn’t have predicted the mayhem that ensues when his own eccentric relatives appear on the scene, dragging Chance, Marty, and Meredith into the latest skirmish in a long-running family feud. What follows is a hilarious tangle involving an emerald ring, a fearsome aunt, a scheming suitor, and a team of runaway mules—by the end of which Chance finds that even a marriage just on paper has its complications, and that it never hurts to have a good sidekick.

Go add the book to your Goodreads shelf and follow Elisabeth on Twitter or her blog for news of the release date.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Bye Bye August, Hello September

photograph by me
Is it really September already? This year has been flying by, my friends, and Real Life has been keeping me on my toes. But hey, I am going to England later this month! *runs about the house freaking out because she still doesn’t quite believe it's true* Yes, I have an impending trip to England coming up this month, autumn is just around the proverbial corner, and I am slowly working on getting my reading life back into shape. So, let’s do a quick round-up of what I have been up to of late.

I just finished reading Around the World In 80 Days by Jules Verne. I adored the 1956 film starring David Niven. While the novel is very different from the fantastically whimiscal 1950s epic adventure of the film, I still loved it. It helped knowing they were different going into the book. I have picked up reading through my two volume collection of O. Henry’s short stories after a year’s hiatus and hope to tackle A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute, Saving Amelie by Cathy Gohlke, and All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr this month. We will see how that goes. I just started Saving Amelie and, so far, it is doing a fantastic job of pulling me into the story.

I finished reading through the first draft of my novel The Letters of Lee Ames with a friend the other week. I have a whole slew of notes of adjustments to make in draft two and just began rewriting the opening scene a couple of nights ago. So excited for this!

Amelie from Montmartre Soundtrack composed by Yann Tiersen
Born Again - Josh Garrels
The Crown: Season One Soundtrack composed by Rupert Gregson-Williams

August is TCM’s Summer Under the Stars, where each day is dedicated to showcasing a specific actor or actress’s films, and my DVR has been busy keeping up with all of my recordings. Highlights include:
The Cameraman (1928) a silent comedy starring Buster Keaton
Double Wedding (1938) a romantic comedy starring the team of William Powell and Myrna Loy
Terror on a Train (1953) British made suspense starring Glenn Ford. The British title for this movie, Time Bomb, is a little less melodramatic.

My latest television discovery would have to be the 1970s TV show Laverne & Shirley. It is hysterical.

So, what have you all been up to? Read any great books? Found a new favorite song? Watched any really good films or discovered a new favorite TV show?