Who killed Melissa White?
Find out July 7th.
This has been a long time coming. A loooong time coming. Sometimes when you set a goal, you don’t exactly realize how winding the road to accomplishing that goal is going to be… and that’s what happened with my cover saga.
But, at long last, I have a cover for Specter, and I FREAKING LOVE IT!!!!! I love it so much!!!!! As the book’s main character, Lanie, would say, I’m not normally a multiple exclamation points kind of girl, but this cover, courtesy of the incredible Liana M at 99designs, totally deserves it.
Are you ready?
I cannot get over this cover. It matches the book perfectly. Why is Lanie holding a baseball bat, you might ask? You’ll just have to read the book and see. 🙂
Go add it to your Goodreads shelf now, or place it on preorder! Here are the details:
I personally really recommend the paperback version, so you can see those goddamn glorious text messages. (Shivers from PTSD.)
And some other important stuff:
Horror aficionado Lanie Adams should be thrilled when two eighties-era ghosts materialize in her bedroom. Yet after a fainting incident unbecoming of a horror nerd, she would rather her haunting just go away—the ghosts’ distorted, waterlogged voices and ice-cold auras are more terrifying than any movie. Enlisting the help of Ryan, an entirely-too-cute stoner, she makes it her mission to put the spirits stalking her to rest.
Some sleuthing reveals that their sleepy Connecticut town is host to a shadowy, decades-old conspiracy. If Lanie wants to say a final goodbye to her ghosts, she’ll need to keep digging. But it’s important to tread carefully. The culprit is still in town—and they’ll stop at nothing to keep the truth buried.
If any of that up top sounds interesting, please consider adding the book on Goodreads!
Specter is going to seriously appeal to fans of Stranger Things. I’m going to be posting in the coming weeks all sorts of fun stuff—the conception of the book, the music that inspired it, etc. Specter was a crazy fun book to write, and I cannot wait for others to read it, since it’s basically everything that I love (horror, the weird, conspiracy theories) woven together into a rip-roaring thriller. So thanks so much for being along with me on this journey, consider giving it a read, and have a happy Thursday! ❤
This week I took a look at Brian Evenson’s short story “Cult.” I don’t remember exactly how I got turned on to Brian Evenson’s work, but I can tell even from reading just the one story that he is an author right up my alley. You can read the short story here…
I loooooved this. The story features an unnamed protagonist who receives a call from his abusive ex-girlfriend asking him to pick her up from a so-called cult. Both the protagonist and his ex-girlfriend have rock-solid characterization, and the prose is exactly as it needs to be: matter-of-fact, with a stream-of-consciousness feel. Somehow it reminded me tone-wise a bit of Haruki Murakami.
And the relationship between these two characters felt so real. We get a granular insight into the MC’s thought cycle, and how he is slowly but surely being dragged back into a relationship with his abuser, like a leaf circling a whirlpool. I highly recommend this short story, and will definitely be looking at more work by Evenson.
Just wanted to add a little tidbit at the end here… BECAUSE THERE WILL BE A COVER REVEAL FOR SPECTER THIS THURSDAY!!!!!! So keep watching this space. 😀
The tenth chapter of The Gold in the Dark drops today! This makes us a quarter of the way through the book, so there is plenty more to come. 😀 I’m a huge fan of Chapter Ten; it’s a turning point in the narrative, and introduces a crucial new character. As always, if you need to catch up on past chapters, no problem, since you can do that right here. New chapters post every other Sunday at 11 AM EST, and each chapter is also accompanied by a beautiful, custom illustration. Take a look at this week’s illustration; I’m getting some definite Edward Gorey vibes. If you’re not familiar with Edward Gorey, I’ve put a couple pictures down below for fun. You might also recognize his work from the iconic intro to PBS’s Mystery!
Anyway, enough waffling. At last, I can reveal that these illustrations are courtesy of the mega-talented Ally Grosvenor! I’ll have an interview up with her soon enough, all about how she got started with illustration, her approach to illustrating a work of fiction, her inspiration, etc.
And here’s just a sampling of some of Ally’s art unrelated to The Gold in the Dark.
In other exciting news, we are one week away from a cover reveal!!!!!!!!! And it is gorgeous. If you are wanting to stay up-to-date, just check back here, sign up for my newsletter, or follow me on Instagram @katiejanegallagher or Goodreads. In the meantime, have a fabulous Sunday and enjoy Chapter Ten. ❤
This book came to me on an author recommendation from a friend; as we browsed the romance section in Barnes and Noble, she started gushing to me about Quick’s characters and plotting. As we wandered from the romance over to the discount books, I picked up ‘Til Death Do Us Part, read the blurb, and waggled it at my friend, not even noting the author name.
“This sounds good.”
“That’s who I was talking about!” exclaimed she. “Amanda Quick!”
Oh. Maybe it was time for me to give this author a go.
And you know what, even though this may be the first romantic suspense I have ever read, I really enjoyed it! I’m quickly learning that I enjoy romance with a dominant subplot, which this book certainly has. The MC, Calista, finds herself terrified by a morbid stalker, who keeps leaving her memento mori trinkets—a tear-catcher, a jet-and-crystal ring, etc. She enlists the help of a writer of serialized detective fiction to help her identify her stalker… And, of course, they end up falling in love.
The plotting keeps you guessing, and the characters are well fleshed-out. I won’t say the prose is gorgeous, but it serves its purpose admirably, getting out of the way of the plot. As a writer, that’s a quality I truly appreciate, since I’m constantly reading books where sentence structure and word choice snag my inner editor, pulling me out of the narrative.
And the romance itself was very sweet, more about the falling-in-love aspect than the sexual aspect. I’m coming to recognize that my personal taste in romance is for less sex and more inter-character relationship building, and this book was perfect for me in that regard. As the book ended, I didn’t exactly long for it to go on, but rather wished for more of a similar thing… Which means that I will surely be picking up more of Quick’s other books!
This week for Short Tuesday I was on the hunt for short fiction by Georgina Bruce, who has a new short story collection that was just published this month. “Ghost of a Horse Under a Chandelier” is an older story, but I wanted to get a sense of her voice before making a decision about checking out her new collection. You can read the short story for free here…
The story focuses on a young lesbian coming to terms with her sexuality; she has a strong imagination, and interspersed throughout the story are vignettes from a seemingly magical book. It’s all very fuzzy and magical realism-ish, and I wasn’t in love with the vignettes if I’m being honest, since they felt pretty unconnected from the rest of the piece.
The ballroom of the Grand Hotel by candlelight is amber and sepia, drifting into darkness at the edges like an old postcard. It smells of stale water, tallow, and dust. The ruby carpet is threadbare and shiny, and the plaster has been knocked off the walls, leaving bare brick in places, water-stained and sick. But in the candlelight the room still has a certain romance.
The bits in the real world also have a floaty, unmoored feeling. I had a difficult time in the beginning of the piece getting a sense of how old the MC was; she read wayyyy younger to me at first than she actually is. The additional feminist focus had me speeding towards the end to be done with the story. I can appreciate a magical realism story with a coming-of-age focus, but once you start throwing in Patriarch Fish and horses named Andrea Dworkin, we’ve entered territory too silly and ideological for my preference. If there’s anything I can say about my taste in fiction, it’s that I never want to feel like I’m reading short stories penned by r/TwoXChromosomes power users.
“You’re an artist,” says Zillah. She shows Joy what she’s reading, pushing the book over the table.
It is Ursula Bluethunder, Zillah and Joy’s favourite comic book. Ursula Bluethunder is a radical black, woman-loving superheroine, whose mission is to establish a lesbian separatist nation with money that she steals from banks using her superior intelligence, strength, and martial arts skills. She likes hanging out in libraries, too.
See what I mean? It’s just too much for my tastes, though some might love it. So despite some pretty descriptions, this piece was unfortunately not for me.
I am not, alas, one of those bookish fortunates who has five gorgeous bookcases. I have just two, and a good amount of that shelf space is shared with my husband or taken up by old sheet music, photo albums, and general paper detritus. So by necessity I have to stay pretty conscious of the books I adopt into my collection and regularly cull those I suspect won’t be read again.
But what would maybe be a sad or painful affair becomes way easier when you know there’s tasty food at the end of the process. You see, I am lucky enough to live fairly close to Traveler Restaurant in Union, CT, which has basically the best bookish proposition of all time: come for a tasty meal and leave with up to three free books. It’s a diner/used bookstore mashup, and the shelves beside the tables are great conversation starters. You never know what you’ll find on the shelves; our previous visit introduced me to these two beauties.
So a few days ago I packed up a whole bunch of books that I don’t need on the shelf anymore, loaded up a backpack, and off we went to Traveler Restaurant!
The restaurant is very cute, with a yellow Lego-esque roof and flowers outside. Also, if you’re the antiquing sort, there’s an antique shop directly opposite the restaurant.
Here’s the food we ordered; I got the baked haddock with a side of mashed potatoes, and my husband got the Red Badge of Courage burger. It was the name that sold him… and all that bacon. 😛
In addition to the books, the restaurant also has signed portraits up all along the walls of all the celebrities and authors who have visited the restaurant.
And then, after we finished our meal, we started looking through all the used books! A lot of them are what you’d expect from a used bookstore—tons of older thrillers, mysteries, and contemporaries. There are also bags of romances that you can buy for cheap, and in the basement is a proper used bookstore (with books you have to pay for), selling some of the more choice offerings.
Combing through the stacks, it really hit me how much cover design has changed (for the better, in my opinion). I’ll be honest—a lot of the books were very drab-looking, which is a shame because I’m sure many of them are hidden gems. Yet I did come away with a book that I’ve been meaning to reread for a while—the last time I read it I was in middle school, and I’m pretty sure it went wayyyyyyy over my head.
So that was our cute diner meal/book donation date! I definitely recommend Traveler Restaurant for any book lovers in the area, and I’m going to keep my eyes peeled for any other bookish things to do in the area.
Here’s how this book came into my possession: I was relaying all my trials with romance to my husband last year, and the joker decided in his infinite wisdom that he wanted to buy me for Christmas the “best” romance he could find. To him, this meant two things: a hunky cover and a worthy blurb. Welp, there’s the cover up top, so we’ve clearly accomplished the first. As for the blurb, all he needed to see was that the male MC’s name was Royal, and that was enough to thoroughly tickle his fancy.
So here we are. (By the way, make sure to scroll to the bottom for a husband review.) I actually did enjoy this, though it was one of those on and off sort of reads that took me a couple weeks. The premise in vague, non-spoiler terms is that Ainsley, a Sassenach, needs Royal’s help to protect her from her vile betrothed. What I hadn’t realized at the outset is that while this is the first in the Clan Kendrick series, it’s actually not the first book of Kelly’s featuring these characters. Clan Kendrick is a spin-off series from another, so there were more than a few times when Kelly re-introduced a character or referenced a bit of backstory. This was a bit frustrating for me; as someone coming into a purported first in a series, the last thing I want is to feel like I have catching up to do—especially as the book is lengthy already, weighing in at more than four hundred pages.
The emphasis on protection and safety is interesting from a storytelling standpoint. If you think about it, these themes can be a little bit “anti-action”—and preventing something from happening isn’t necessarily as interesting as other kinds of plot structures. So it was a quieter sort of story overall, with more emphasis on character relationships and dialogue exchanges than actual plot points.
On a tangential note, the title of the book itself also never fails to make me laugh. It just doesn’t read at all “title-like” to me—more like description than anything else. Anyone with me here? 😛 Maybe I’m the only one…
In any case, I did enjoy the developing relationship between Ainsley and Royal, finding their chemistry quite good. The characters individually, too, feel concrete, with realistic personalities, flaws, hopes, and dreams. No caricatured characters here. Kelly’s writing in general is also pretty strong. The dialogue does get a bit samey after a while (how many times can characters say “don’t fash yourself”??), BUT it did teach me the gem of an expression “dicked in the knob.” That apparently means “crazy,” and I will be wasting no opportunity to employ it, let me tell ya.
Will I be reading the next in the series? Not sure about that, especially because I have some other romance TBR goals that are a bit more pressing. But I am definitely up for reading another book by Vanessa Kelly in the future, so am grateful to my husband for pointing me in her direction.
This week I left Tor.com (though probably only temporarily!) for a short story by Korean author Ha Seong-nan. She has a new short story collection out, and I’ve heard good things, so I wanted to try out a short story of hers to get a sense of her style, then maybe pick up the collection. I ended up reading “Bluebeard’s First Wife,” which you can read for free here…
I enjoyed this story well enough. It’s a smooth read for having been translated, and I especially enjoyed the imagery and the sense of displacement woven throughout the story. I did feel the plot progressed in a kind of dizzying matter; the MC is suddenly engaged to this guy, and you don’t have a sense of how it all happened. They met on a plane, and then… marriage? Their relationship has the weight of a cloud, but it works for the plot and feel of the story.
Even so, I guess I was left wanting a little bit more. Everything felt a bit too flat and matter-of-fact. The repeated poem also didn’t seem to have much relevance to me… or maybe I’m not picking up the symbolism for some reason.
Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you:
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through.
With stories like these, I’m sometimes left feeling a little bit stupid. Why is this not working for me? What does the author mean by this? At the same time, I feel that if I’m not gleaning at least some of the deeper symbolism on a first read-through, perhaps the story isn’t being told successfully. In any case, I would definitely read more short fiction by this author, as I am intrigued by some of the reviews I’ve seen of her other work, but this story was just so-so for me.
The ninth chapter of The Gold in the Dark drops today! If you need to catch up on past chapters, no problem, since you can do that right here. New chapters post every other Sunday at 11 AM EST. (And sometimes a little earlier, like this week!) Each chapter is also accompanied by a beautiful, custom illustration.
This week I’ve been drafting my new WIP! It’s fun to be drafting again in a painful sort of way, like I’m stretching old muscles. I’m also a bit out of my element with some of the details I need to research; a quick look through my browser history will reveal such searches such as “do landowners in Montana need elk tags to hunt on private land” and “Polish people gold rush.” As for why I’m looking these things up, that will have to remain strictly confidential for now.
There are some fun posts coming up on the blog soon, though, that I can tease with a bit more information! I’ll be doing a post soon about how music factors into my writing process, as well as about a very particular and bookish Connecticut diner. In the meantime, have a fabulous Sunday and enjoy Chapter Nine. ❤