Emily Knight I Am… – A Review

I don’t know if I’ve ever reviewed a YA novel for this blog before. Not that I’ve specifically excluded them, but …

*shrugs*

Well, now I am. And it’s a wonderful one to start with: Emily Knight I Am… by A. Bello.

I met her in September of last year at the Triskele Literary Festival in London. She was fun and energetic, and her work was so impressive. She was also a finalist for the Great British Entrepreneurship Award in 2016. For more on that and the press she’s started, you can read my interview with her on the Graveyard Shift Sisters website.

When she asked if I would review Emily Knight, I was flattered. Her book has a brand-new cover, more vibrant than the last in my humble opinion.

Emily knight

 

Emily Knight is a troubled thirteen year-old girl, who takes her frustration out on the world around her. She fights, she steals, and is unrepentant when caught. She doesn’t need to steal, she’s from one of the wealthiest, most well-known families around. The paparazzi have captured many of her thefts on camera.

But Emily is crying out for attention. Her father hasn’t been home in years, instead he’s searching the planet for her long-lost brother, Lox. Both Emily’s father and brother are famous fighters, with the ability to fly, breathe underwater, command fire. While Emily is struggling to control her power. Surrounded by wealth and privilege, she’s still unhappy.

When Emily gets the chance to go to the Osaki Training School, where her father and brother attended, she’s nervous. She wants to learn, but is worried the other students (and teachers) will expect more from her and she won’t be able to deliver. She’s Thomas Knight’s daughter, after all.

Soon, what everyone else thinks doesn’t matter as an evil older than she is resurfaces, and Emily will have to use her intelligence and cunning to protect everything and everyone she loves.

Emily Knight I Am… is a page-turner, full of magic and dojo-style fights, perfect for any reader that loves to watch an imperfect character grow into a hero.

It’s rare for me to read about a character of color from a wealthy, famous family who is tested and challenged to become something more than she started to be. The teachers as well as the students in the Osaki Training School are of diverse backgrounds, both racially and socio-economically, which makes it feel like a real specialist school. The lessons are fascinating, and I was amazed to find out that there is real danger of injury and pain for the students.

The second book in the series Emily Knight I Am…Awakened will be launched here in the UK on September 28th at Waterstone’s Islington 6:30-8:00pm. If you can’t make it, grab a copy of Bello’s Emily Knight I Am… on Amazon US or Amazon UK.

Emily Knight 2 book launch invite

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Day 28: Marcia Colette

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Marcia Colette was born and raised in upstate New York, and now lives in the Carolinas with her mom and beautiful daughter. She earned a bachelors in Biomedical Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute before going on to complete her Masters in Information Technology at American Intercontinental University in Atlanta, GA.

She didn’t discover her love for reading until her late teens when she started reading John Saul, Stephen King, and Laurell K. Hamilton.

Her reading tastes convinced her to write dark paranormals where curses cause people to shift into spiders, psychotic and telekinetic mothers are locked away in attics, and murderous doppelgangers go on rampages. As long as she can make it believable, she doesn’t shy away from the unusual and avoids common tropes.

Colette’s story, The Light at the End of Judgment Day, from Mocha Memoirs Press has been called Touched by an Angel meets The Conjuring. In it, violinist and angel Yvette Mills has spent almost 200 years living among humans while rounding up ghosts to send into Judgment. On the mend from her last confrontation with a malevolent entity, she’s ready to play music again. But when her agent rents a bargain-basement priced office in downtown Charlotte’s Folsom Building,  paranormal presence force her into one last mission. This time, she’s not facing one ghost. She’s facing hundreds with a few demonic entities sprinkled in.

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Find out more about Marcia on her website and follow her on Twitter.

Day 22: V.H. Galloway

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Veronica Henry writes speculative fiction under the name V.H. Galloway. Born in the Ft. Greene section of Brooklyn, N.Y., she is a resident of Austin, TX, who has also lived in Ohio, California, and Nevada. From her career in tech, to her fascination with the stars, she is made of and loves all things geek.
In 2008, she traced her African ancestry to Sierra Leone and the subsequent trip still remains one of her proudest moments and her fiction often incorporates African themes.
Her short story “We Have Ended” is an example. It was chosen to be a part of Fiyah Literary Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction’s first issue, “Rebirth,” a review of which you can find earlier on this blog.

Her horror/sci-fi hybrid, The Un-United States Of Z is a trilogy series that even for non-zombie fans has been described as “tasteful insanity.” In this trilogy, Galloway shows that even during the zombie apocalypse, the country remains racially divided. She has said “Reflecting this reality in my work is important because I think that its is only through ongoing dialogue that we can effect change.”

ununited-states

Learn more about Veronica on her website and follow her on Twitter.

 

 

 

Day 11: Crystal Connor

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Washington state native Crystal Connor loves anything to do with monsters, bad guys, and rogue scientific experiments. In addition to writing, she also reviews horror and sci-fi films for Horror Addicts.
Connor, who “writes straight up horror with a service of science fiction and dark fantasy on the side,” uses her time spent serving in the United States Navy in her writing, piecing together monsters and nightmares from tales she learned of during her deployments at various ports-of-call throughout Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Book One of her Spectrum Trilogy, The Darkness, featuring a battle between two powerful women over a child neither of them has birthed. Artemisia, a scientist who also practices alchemy, determined to erase what tradition has established as the boundaries separating the realm of man from the realm of God. Inanna, a dangerous witch, more deadly than any other in the long tradition before her.

But the Child, may prove to be stronger than either of them.

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Pick up Book One of the Spectrum Trilogy, The Darkness. Get more of Crystal on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

 

Banshee Books -A Co-op of Women Writers

Banshee Books

Self-publishing can be a challenge. Okay, it’s hard. To not only write the book, but get it edited, obtain the right cover, the right formatting–for print, for Kindle, for Smashwords, they’re all different– all without breaking the bank. So sometimes you need support.

I’m proud to be a part of Banshee Books, a co-operative of female, female identifying, and queer writers founded by British horror author Carmilla Voiez. Writers will self-publish their works, but this group offers support, guidance and promotion throughout the process.

In addition, members will read and review one women-friendly and/or trans-friendly book per month. This time around, we’re reading Lilith’s Brood by Octavia E. Butler. (Re-reading for me.)

Interested in joining? To be accepted all works must have an intersectional feminist theme. New members will be agreed by a majority vote of existing members, but all members agree to support and help promote each other’s work.

Stop by the Banshee Books website to learn more.

Camille and the Bears of Beisa: Drafnel – A Review

Back in August, I featured Simone Salmon and her book release, Camille and the Bears of Beisa: Drafnel on the blog. As promised, I am posting a review of the paranormal fantasy novel. (About time, I know. It’s been a hectic few months.)

Camille is an incredibly relatable character. Within a few paragraphs, I felt like I knew her personally, and I understood her motivations throughout the book. Although I can’t say I agreed with them all. She’s educated, modern, and I could picture happy hour with her would be a riot. She’s a young woman, who has an off and on again lover (what are the kids calling that these days?) but isn’t necessarily interested in committing full time right now as she has other things going on.

She finds herself drawn to a strange man she glimpses as she is moving into a new apartment with a few friends. Weird, disturbing things begin to happen, forcing her to contact her Grandmother and eventually make choices about herself, her family, and her future.

Cover for Camille and the Bears of Beisa.
Cover for Camille and the Bears of Beisa: Drafnel.

But is she really making these choices?  Or is she following a pre-destined path carved out for her by her ancestors and her progeny?

Salmon is able to seamlessly weave modern day Brooklyn, 20th Century Jamaica, and the fictional, futuristic Narvinia into a fascinating time-leaping read. Camille’s grandmother’s story was so engrossing that I almost wanted her to be the heroine of the story.

In Camille, there is Caribbean folklore, shapeshifters, and multiple villains to hate. I found the book unpredictable, clever, and well-executed. Most of all, I loved that Salmon doesn’t pull any punches with what she puts her characters through, and she doesn’t talk down to the reader, either. You know you’re reading an epic fantasy. Her word choice is crisp and the voices are distinct. As I mentioned in the feature, the book has several urban settings, a matriarchal society, and a female protagonist of African descent, which I’d love to see more of.

A definite recommended read.

Featured Author: Simone Salmon

Camille and the Bears of Beisa—Drafnel is a sci-fi/fantasy/thriller tale that has been compared to Frank Herbert’s masterpiece, Dune in its sweeping worldbuilding.  In addition, it has several urban settings, a matriarchal society, and a female protagonist of African descent.

Cover for Camille and the Bears of Beisa.
Cover art for Camille and the Bears of Beisa–Drafnel.

Sliding seamlessly between modern day Brooklyn, 20th century Jamaica, and the fictional world of Narvina, Drafnel chronicles Camille’s fight for knowledge and self-preservation. When those worlds clash, secrets unravel and hidden agendas are exposed.

The book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Of3lw5XxmKM

Camille and the Bears of Beisa is available today on Amazon and my review is forthcoming. But here is an excerpt to whet your appetite:

Narvina, Nu-century 2055

Aknanka clamps down with all her might. Her teeth tear into Sephia’s wrinkled skin, digging for chunks of flesh. They only grind against bone. A fist smashes into her cheek, jerking her head sideways. Sephia yanks her hand away right before Aknanka chomps down again. Blood gushes everywhere.

“I’m not going anywhere with you!” Aknanka’s scream rages through the interior, punching a small dent into the door. It slams shut.

Any experimenting she needs to conduct today will be done right here. And without blindfolds. The metal restraints chafe Aknanka’s wrists as she wriggles around for freedom.

“Stop fighting, Dreamer. You make this harder than it has to be.”

“Bet you’ll think before trying that again, oh Wise One!” Aknanka’s aim is accurate. Bloody sputum soils the middle of Sephia’s tunic.

A med-bot enters the room and stitches the bandages over Sephia’s wound. The pale Elder clenches her fists. Her eyes blaze to match the blood staining the floor. The med-bot’s front panel flashes, absorbing the charge from Sephia’s quelled anger. Sparks bounce across the overloaded circuits. The bot spins over to the sealed porthole and then powers down.

“These gene markers will soon confirm our suspicions, Dreamer.” Sephia’s shoulders stiffen, tugging at the hood to expose her protruding frontal lobe. Her white skull magnifies in the dimness. Her lips never move.

Na-mum Camille warned Aknanka that the Elders would spare no sympathy once they discover her true kinsatah. She followed every painstaking instruction: the implants are undetectable, even from their host.

Simone banner

Jamaica, 20th Century

The food on display and the brilliant dyes of the hand-loomed textiles hanging at the market made me homesick. The marketplace crowded with vendors selling varied crafts and wares. The frenzied pitch of the hagglers echoed under the tin roofs. Voluptuous women wearing multi-colored wraps balanced huge straw baskets on cornbraided heads, while children darted through stalls with jaws stuffed of toffee candy or juggled melting snow cones with syrup-stained hands. Fruits ripening in the heat sweetened the layer of jerk pork and chicken charring over coals inside huge metal drums.

At first Miss Mattie kept me close, but as the market became more crowded her clenched fingers slackened. I searched the aisles, worried about returning home empty-handed. Failing to find any spices, I started making my way back to Miss Mattie and then noticed a young woman with a basket tucked between her knees. Loose braids stuck out from under her head scarf. Kind hazel eyes invited me forward. Curious, I bent over to check out the samples. The woman pulled me closer and stuffed a piece of cloth into my waistband.

“A gift from the Goling family, Miss. Put it in safe-keeping. This has been my honor.”

Miss Mattie swooped in at my heels in a matter of seconds. She sniffed the air several times and shoved me away from the vendor’s stall. We left thirty minutes later, my impatience to unwrap the cloth’s contents shielded.

Unpacking the supplies, I started dinner. Then, while the meal simmered, I sneaked to my room and pulled out the puffed packet. Wrapped inside were five cinnamon sticks. My smile must have been a mile wide. I decided to add them to my hideaway after Miss Mattie left for church that Sunday.

As my guardian angel instructed, I wrapped a small piece under the ribbon tied around my braid. I noticed Miss Mattie’s immediate reaction. Her harsh tone gentled and she even allowed me to eat with her at the dining table. A welcomed change, my nerves were still on guard, unsure of how long Miss Mattie’s tolerance would last. Against my better judgment, I decided to ask about Caleb and Cassandra.

“Miss Mattie, do you think I can visit with my sister and brother sometime soon?”

Growling, Miss Mattie cocked her head and then swung around to face the door. Her eyes rolled back into their sockets. Her head snapped back as she sniffed the air.

“Why are you sitting at this table?”

I warned you, Grandmother. Leave the table now!

Miss Mattie’s neck protruded as her limbs extended. Fingers mutated into claws and hind legs ripped through her lower extremities. Wiry tufts of hair sprouted all over her body. Her face contorted and elongated as saliva slimed down enlarged jowls. My hand stifled the scream roaring through my head.

Get up and walk away slowly. Do not turn your back on it. Now!

Author Simone Salmon
Author Simone Salmon

Simone Salmon, a Jamaican born New Yorker, is the mother of two sons and a Jack Russell terrier. Simone is still working on her exit strategy from Corporate America, but in the meantime she writes novels, poetry and expands her multi-sensory perceptions.

She is a spiritual truth seeker who appreciates psychic phenomena and timelessness. Music of all kinds, warm weather, lounging on the beach, and experiencing the unknown are just a few of her most favorite things. Learn more about Simone on FacebookTwitter, her blog: Origisims, and her website. You can also find her on Goodreads, Pinterest, and her Amazon Author Page.