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A Bowl of Cherries by F.E. Birch – Release Day Author Guest Post

Happy Release Day to A Bowl of Cherries by F.E. Birch, a writer I have known for a number of years.


I am excited to delve into these tales when they arrive but in the meantime she has agreed to share an insight into her writing process.

About the Book

There’s nothing cosy about these crimes.

Succulent rich stories of the dark and unknown that might terrify, horrify, or deliciously delight. Thirty-two previously published and prize winning tales that contain themes of death, destruction, abuse and emotion, each one a veritable stride into a unique and different world.
From the psychologically disturbed, the raging mad, the vulnerability of victims, and desperately needy, there’s not much that isn’t covered in the dark genre for those that like their stories to be troubling, distressing and quirky. NOT for the faint of heart, this comes with a triple X warning!


“A delightfully dark rollercoaster, dipping into a selection of slickly written shorts.” — Robert Scragg, author of All That is Buried


“A patchwork quilt of daring fever dreams, stitched together with effortless, bewitching prose. Highly recommended.” — Rob Parker, author of Far from the Tree


Order here for Kindle
Order here in paperback

About the Author


FE Birch is one writing pseudonym of a writer that first put pen to paper at the age of five but really took it seriously from 2004. She has had over 150 short stories published and/or placed in competitions, a ‘faction’ book published by Harper Collins and her first crime novel is currently out on submission. A Bowl of Cherries is a self-published collection of 32 shorts that will steal your breath and make sure you never look at cherries in the same way again.

Author Guest Post – Planning the perfect crime … short!

I’m not an expert on flash fiction, or short story writing, I only know what works for me. 

I like the short story form as they are quick reads, often intense, emotional, and leave you with a taste that lingers. When you live a busy life like I do, and I read slowly, it takes ages to read a novel and sometimes I just want a satisfying fast read. 

When I’m writing I often start with a prompt or series of prompts. It could be someone I’ve noticed, or something that’s happened that I store up for future use. An idea forms, and it could be a character, a feeling, a setting, or a plot. Something has to happen. I was always surprised when people talked of short stories that were thousands of words. To me they are mini novels, novellas, or short novels. A story can be told effectively in a paragraph, if it’s done right, or three hundred words, or three thousand. My longest short story is five thousand. I don’t know if I could keep the momentum of a short story for longer than that. 

I wasn’t sure if I could write a novel, but I have, and that is a totally different process. 

I think a story has a limit and as you start to write, the story flows and ends when it needs to. If I have to write to a word count, say two thousand words, I know I have space to add characters, add settings, scenes, sensory detail, that add to the story, but it mustn’t be seen as filler. If I only have 100 words then it has to clipped, tight, in and out, no messing about. 

It’s easier when I don’t have word count to work with because as I type the story ends itself then I can edit the rubbish and mould the rest. I like that. 

I sometimes write a couple of paragraphs that might be a set of ideas rather than stories and then I store them for future use to prolong, to make into something more. If I write a character I like, I can revisit them, give them more of a story, build up a ‘happening’ , take something very short and turn it into something darker, something more enticing, or sinister. Then others are just right as they are. 

It’s as individual to the writer as it is to the reader. I like to be provoked as both, so for me anything goes, and the rules are your own to make. I know I’m not to everyone’s taste. 

There aren’t too many avenues for the stories I like to write and read and there are no mainstream magazines to submit to that take stories like mine. Nothing I write would fit People’s Friend! 

Competitions and anthologies have been kind to me over the years and given me an outlet, but again, it’s difficult to find them on the shelves of bookshops, unless they are written by famous authors. 

Whilst I’m waiting for a publishing deal for my novel, I’ve pulled some of my best stories together for Bowl of Cherries. All different, all quick reads, all dark and twisty. All short.

Bookish and the Beast by Ashley Poston – Once Upon a Con Series Book Review/Once Upon a Retelling


Happy Release Day to the third, and 🤞🏻 not the last book in the Once Upon a Con series by Ashley Poston.

Bookish and the Beast Synopsis


In the third book in Ashley Poston’s Once Upon a Con series, Beauty and the Beast is retold in the beloved Starfield universe.

Rosie Thorne is feeling stuck—on her college application essays, in her small town, and on that mysterious General Sond cosplayer she met at ExcelsiCon. Most of all, she’s stuck in her grief over her mother’s death. Her only solace was her late mother’s library of rare Starfield novels, but even that disappeared when they sold it to pay off hospital bills.

On the other hand, Vance Reigns has been Hollywood royalty for as long as he can remember—with all the privilege and scrutiny that entails. When a tabloid scandal catches up to him, he’s forced to hide out somewhere the paparazzi would never expect to find him: Small Town USA. At least there’s a library in the house. Too bad he doesn’t read.

When Rosie and Vance’s paths collide and a rare book is accidentally destroyed, Rosie finds herself working to repay the debt. And while most Starfield superfans would jump at the chance to work in close proximity to the Vance Reigns, Rosie has discovered something about Vance: he’s a jerk, and she can’t stand him. The feeling is mutual.

But as Vance and Rosie begrudgingly get to know each other, their careful masks come off—and they may just find that there’s more risk in shutting each other out than in opening their hearts.


About the Author

Ashley Poston was born and raised in rural South Carolina, where you can see the stars impossibly well.When she’s not inventing new recipes with peanut butter, having passionate dance-offs with her cat Pepper 🐈 , or geeking out all over the Internet and at comic cons, she writes books and is the author of the Once Upon a Con series and Heart of Iron Duology.


What I Thought

She’s done it again.


I could just leave my review there… but I won’t. I adore this series, it makes my geeky heart sing.


First up I want to let you know that these can be read as standalones. Each book focuses mostly on new people although, I would highly recommend reading them all to get full immersion.


We did meet Vance in book two, as the quintessential bad boy and it looks like he’s continued down that slippery slope into beastly ways since we last saw him. But like Jessica in book two, author Ashley allows us to delve beneath his Hollywood celebrity persona to see the real person underneath. He’s only really let his guard down like that once before but that’s easier when you are wearing a mask and not fearing the story getting to the press.

Rosie Thorne is a book geek like many of us, a sniffing the pages, stroking the spine, reading way past her bedtime type. In this story she gets to experience every book lover’s dream and nightmare. A huge library 😍, and a destroyed book 😭.


I loved unpicking all the little nods to Beauty and the Beast and there are a number of references to the Disney version but with much less Stockholm syndrome.


Like Elle in book one, Rosie has lost her mother but for her it is much more raw and this exploration of grief is explored sensitively.


As ever the diversity in terms of LGTBQIA+ characters is incorporated without fuss or rigmarole – best friend Quinn’s pronouns are introduced and used naturally, and before their gender identity. The challenge to get Quinn a place as Homecoming Royalty and to take it away from our Gaston type character is a welcome sub plot. The adult characters – Rosie’s father and Vance’s godfather are used well and who doesn’t love a dog named Sansa – Queen of the book!

If you are in need of mid pandemic pick me up this tale of two people ‘quarantined’ in a small town will be just the curse breaker.


Once Upon a Retelling/Fan Fiction


Retellings are my bookish jam. I love a new angle on a tale as old as time 😂. There’s something about reading a new yet familiar story.


Beauty and the Beast is one that has been explored many times before. I’ve even already written a post about its retellings (although there are more than I have listed here).


The reason I like the Once Upon a Con series so much is that they take fantasy based tales and bring them into ‘real life’. Switching the genre to contemporary really works to bring fresh life to these much loved stories.


One genre bending set of retellings I’d also highly recommend are The Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer. Retelling Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Snow White in a sci-fi update. Utter bliss. Her origin story for Alice’s Queen of Hearts – Heartless is 💔😭.


Now considering how much I love a retelling – or a film/tv adaptation – it may surprise you to learn that I’ve never really got into fan fiction – neither reading nor writing it. I always feel like I should but I guess never having been in those circles I don’t really know where to start. So please do share your recommendations below. Harry Potter or YA books preferred.


If we get our wish and Ashley Poston comes back to the Once Upon a Con series what retelling would you like to see next? Personally I’d love to see a Snow Queen/Frozen one, set at a winter based con and featuring siblings – or maybe I should fan fic it?


Thanks once again to Quirk for the gifted copy and for the giveaway copy I gave out on Instagram. Once my finished copy arrives my ARC is going to the second place person in my little Quiz. You still have until the 18th to submit your pre-order receipts to get a copy of a Once Upon a Con short, ‘Once a Princess’. Mine arrived yesterday so I know what I’m reading later.


Don’t forget to come back tomorrow for my Starfield Special.

The Fandom Rising by Anna Day – Release Day Book Review #JoinTheFandom

The following post contains spoilers for the first book in the series – The Fandom.

Synopsis

It’s a year since Violet, Alice and Katie escaped from the dystopian world of The Gallows Dance – Nate’s been stuck in a coma ever since. Violet re-enters The Gallows Dance, determined to bring her brother home. After an argument that threatens to destroy their friendship, Alice stays behind. But when a rogue fanfic writer emerges online – posting dark new chapters set in the world her friends are trapped in – Alice is the only one with the power to save the story…

Author

Anna Day was shortlisted for the Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction competition in 2015 with her novel The Gallows Dance. Combining Anna’s novel with The Big Idea runner-up Angela McCann’s idea resulted in The Fandom, a new novel inspired by the world from Anna’s original story. By day, Anna works as a clinical psychologist and lives in Newcastle with her family.

What I Thought

I was lucky enough to pick up an ARC of The Fandom at YALC and loved it so much I requested to be on the blog tour – you can find my original post here.

So I was very honoured to be contacted by Anna and sent a copy of the second book in the Fandom Duology for review.

Seriously if you’ve ever wished you could enter the world of books you love you will adore this series. It’s fun, romantic and full of friendship and sibling love too.

The Fandom Rising picks up around a year after the first book. Nate is still in a coma and Violet, Alice and Katie are ignoring the elephant in the room – the fact that they went into the world of The Gallows Dance. Everyone has put it down to a freak incident and the girls seem to believe they just dropped into comas too. Almost.

Violet and Alice have published a sequel called The Gallows Song, a Utopia in which Nate is alive and well. But then a fan fiction writer calling himself Fanboy starts using the power of the Fandom to make things dark and dangerous again. Nate is at risk in more than one way and it’s time to hop back and save the day.

I really liked how the female friendships are explored in terms of their complexity – conflict and jealousy as well as being there for each other. Girls aren’t just sunshine and sleepovers, or mean girls. Alice is left behind in the real world as a result and the introduction of the character Danny who helps her is welcomed because she can’t do this alone.

The characters we met in the first book are still in The Gallows Dance world and Violet might regret what they’ve written just a little. Even Utopias have conflict when new characters are introduced.

Like the first this was well paced, full of tension and an excellent mystery. Who is Fanboy and can Alice stop him? The answer may surprise you. Will everyone make it back in one piece?

With timely commentary on the nature of art and who stories belong to I loved diving back into this portal fantasy.

I marginally preferred the first book mainly because of the romance but this was a very satisfying follow up. Not going to lie I now want more and the super exciting news is that the series is in development for TV with Fox 21 Studios and the producer of the Golden Compass. My wishes are that they keep it set in the U.K. 🤞🏻and if they film the opening at LFCC this year I’ll be available to be an extra 😉 – just saying. And maybe they extend the story because there are things I need to see that are hinted at in the very end of book two. I’d be happy with extending this to a trilogy too 🤞🏻🤞🏻🤞🏻.

Thank you to Anna and Chicken House who gifted me this copy for the purposes of an honest review.

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