#WhatToRead: BLACK RABBIT HALL + a picture of me with Paul Bunyan

Black Rabbit Hall was one of my October “modern Gothic” picks. I read most of it while traveling to, and staying in, a cottage on the sunrise side of Lake Huron. I’ve never been to Cornwall, but I have a feeling the two places are dissimilar. Still, it was neat reading an atmospheric story set by the sea featuring an old family mansion while curled up on my friend’s couch in her family’s cozy lake house. There were no ghosts in hers (it’s too new) but one whole room was decorated with black and white photographs of four generations of family, as well as more recent photographs of friends who have visited. (That’s us with Paul Bunyan.)

The story opens with a prologue from Amber’s point of view, which sets the tone immediately. It’s “the last day of the summer holidays” and Amber feels safer on a cliff ledge than she does in her house. She’s searching for someone. You get the impression she might be playing hide & seek. But if so, it’s a dangerous game. There’s a feeling that something’s not right. That something will go wrong. Or perhaps that something has already gone wrong and will only get worse. The prologue ends when Amber sees something floating in the water below.

And then three pages and three decades later, we’re following Lorna, a bride-to-be on a mission to find the quintessential wedding venue. Lorna loves old houses… Cornwall… and her fiance, Jon.

Black Rabbit Hall casts shadows and creates silhouettes. The story is as murky as the water Amber is staring into when the book begins. But author Eve Chase paces her reveals well and, since I don’t want to spoil the story, I’ll simply say it deserves the label “Gothic.” It’s not just a novel with a dark, foreboding tone. It’s not just a novel set in an old crumbling mansion. It’s got all the other elements too — family secrets, sinister deeds, psychological distress, love, madness, hatred, and (for one character at least), an acknowledgement that there will be no forgiveness.

Where did I get my copy of Black Rabbit Hall? Baltimore County Public Library 🙂


We left our cozy cottage twice… Once to take a hike in the Huron National Forest along the Au Sable River and the second to have margaritas at the Boathouse Beer Co. & Boozery (followed by a quick trip to the hardware store… where we bought firewood, pickled asparagus, and pink camo baby tights for one of my friend’s nieces. Ya know, just the essentials. 😉 )

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February’s Reading Challenge – #JaneAusten Inspired #Fantasy

For 2017, I’m doing a Reading Challenge. At the start of every month, I’ll post the month’s reading theme and a list of possible books to read, then at the end of the month, I’ll share my thoughts on at least one of them. YOU are invited to read along by picking whatever book on the list appeals to you and sharing your thoughts –OR– by picking some other book that fits the theme and sharing your thoughts about that. Easy, right? And, hopefully fun too.

Jill Archer, 2017 Reading Challenge, books, fantasy, Jane Austen

February’s theme is:

JANE AUSTEN INSPIRED FANTASY

and the choices are…

(descriptions are from Goodreads)

shades-of-milk-and-honey-by-mary-robinette-kowal

Shades of Milk and Honey

by Mary Robinette Kowal

The fantasy novel you’ve always wished Jane Austen had written

Shades of Milk and Honey is exactly what we could expect from Jane Austen if she had been a fantasy writer: Pride and Prejudice meets Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. It is an intimate portrait of a woman, Jane, and her quest for love in a world where the manipulation of glamour is considered an essential skill for a lady of quality.

Jane and her sister Melody vie for the attentions of eligible men, and while Jane’s skill with glamour is remarkable, it is her sister who is fair of face. When Jane realizes that one of Melody’s suitors is set on taking advantage of her sister for the sake of her dowry, she pushes her skills to the limit of what her body can withstand in order to set things right—and, in the process, accidentally wanders into a love story of her own.

heartstone

Heartstone

by Elle Katharine White

A debut historical fantasy that recasts Jane Austen’s beloved Pride and Prejudice in an imaginative world of wyverns, dragons, and the warriors who fight alongside them against the monsters that threaten the kingdom: gryphons, direwolves, lamias, banshees, and lindworms

They say a Rider in possession of a good blade must be in want of a monster to slay—and Merybourne Manor has plenty of monsters.

Passionate, headstrong Aliza Bentaine knows this all too well; she’s already lost one sister to the invading gryphons. So when Lord Merybourne hires a band of Riders to hunt down the horde, Aliza is relieved her home will soon be safe again.

Her relief is short-lived. With the arrival of the haughty and handsome dragonrider, Alastair Daired, Aliza expects a battle; what she doesn’t expect is a romantic clash of wills, pitting words and wit against the pride of an ancient house. Nor does she anticipate the mystery that follows them from Merybourne Manor, its roots running deep as the foundations of the kingdom itself, where something old and dreadful slumbers . . . something far more sinister than gryphons.

It’s a war Aliza is ill-prepared to wage, on a battlefield she’s never known before: one spanning kingdoms, class lines, and the curious nature of her own heart.

Elle Katharine White infuses elements of Austen’s beloved novel with her own brand of magic, crafting a modern epic fantasy that conjures a familiar yet wondrously unique new world.

sense-and-sensibility-and-sea-monsters

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters

by Jane Austen and Ben H. Winters

From the publisher of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies comes a new tale of romance, heartbreak, and tentacled mayhem. Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters expands the original text of the beloved Jane Austen novel with all-new scenes of giant lobsters, rampaging octopi, two-headed sea serpents, and other biological monstrosities.

As our story opens, the Dashwood sisters are evicted from their childhood home and sent to live on a mysterious island full of savage creatures and dark secrets. While sensible Elinor falls in love with Edward Ferrars, her romantic sister Marianne is courted by both the handsome Willoughby and the hideous man-monster Colonel Brandon.

Can the Dashwood sisters triumph over meddlesome matriarchs and unscrupulous rogues to find true love? Or will they fall prey to the tentacles that are forever snapping at their heels? This masterful portrait of Regency England blends Jane Austen’s biting social commentary with ultraviolent depictions of sea monsters biting. It’s survival of the fittest — and only the swiftest swimmers will find true love!


So there they are — February’s reading choices. Get to it, people! 🙂

#amreading: My 2017 Reading Challenge – Who’s In?

For 2017, I’m doing a Reading Challenge. Yes, I know lots of other people, publishers, libraries, etc. do them. But I wanted to pick the topics and books myself. So here’s how mine will work: at the start of every month, I’ll post the month’s reading theme and a list of possible books to read, then at the end of the month, I’ll share my thoughts on at least one of them. YOU are invited to read along by picking whatever book on the list appeals to you and sharing your thoughts –OR– by picking some other book that fits the theme and sharing your thoughts about that. Easy, right? And, hopefully fun too.


Jill Archer, 2017 Reading Challenge

2017 Categories

January – Books about Books or Bookstores

February – Jane Austen Inspired Fantasy

March – Set in Circus or Theater

April – Foodie Fiction

May – Steampunk

June – The Fae

July – Fairytale Retellings

August – Beach Reads

September – Nonfiction books that aren’t about writing

October – Modern Gothic

November – Written during NaNoWriMo

December –  Angels & Demons


January Book Choices

Jill Archer, 2017 Reading Challenge

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

Once you let a book into your life, the most unexpected things can happen…

Broken Wheel, Iowa, has never seen anyone like Sara, who traveled all the way from Sweden just to meet her pen pal, Amy. When she arrives, however, she finds that Amy’s funeral has just ended. Luckily, the townspeople are happy to look after their bewildered tourist—even if they don’t understand her peculiar need for books. Marooned in a farm town that’s almost beyond repair, Sara starts a bookstore in honor of her friend’s memory.

All she wants is to share the books she loves with the citizens of Broken Wheel and to convince them that reading is one of the great joys of life. But she makes some unconventional choices that could force a lot of secrets into the open and change things for everyone in town. Reminiscent of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, this is a warm, witty book about friendship, stories, and love.

Jill Archer, 2017 Reading Challenge

The Bookshop on the Corner

Nina Redmond is a literary matchmaker. Pairing a reader with that perfect book is her passion… and also her job. Or at least it was. Until yesterday, she was a librarian in the hectic city. But now the job she loved is no more.

Determined to make a new life for herself, Nina moves to a sleepy village many miles away. There she buys a van and transforms it into a bookmobile—a mobile bookshop that she drives from neighborhood to neighborhood, changing one life after another with the power of storytelling.

From helping her grumpy landlord deliver a lamb, to sharing picnics with a charming train conductor who serenades her with poetry, Nina discovers there’s plenty of adventure, magic, and soul in a place that’s beginning to feel like home… a place where she just might be able to write her own happy ending.

Jill Archer, 2017 Reading Challenge

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon away from life as a San Francisco web-design drone and into the aisles of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after a few days on the job, Clay discovers that the store is more curious than either its name or its gnomic owner might suggest. The bookstore’s secrets extend far beyond its walls.

So, whadya think? Ready to read more in 2017? Remember, you don’t have to pick one of the books I list. Just use my list of categories as inspiration. Or, if nothing else, just stop by every now and then and tell me what you’re reading. I really don’t care what it is — so long as you keep reading! 😀

POLL — Fantasy Fans: What’s your “Gateway” Book?

Months ago, I was at an event with my husband. We were sitting at a table with some people we knew through others. In other words, it was a friendly environment but we didn’t really know anyone. At some point my husband mentioned that I was a writer and that I wrote “adult fantasy,” which, of course, is true, but…

that label evokes different associations depending on who hears it. Sure enough I was then immediately asked, “Oh, so your books are like Fifty Shades of Grey”?

Um, no. Not really. Yes, there’s romance in them. And, no, I don’t always close the bedroom door. But the world within which my stories are written is very different from Christian and Anastasia’s. Without thinking, I blurted out:

“No, more like Lord of the Rings.”

But then I thought about it, and realized that comparison wasn’t any more appropriate than the Fifty Shades one. My writing is as similar to Tolkien’s as it is to E.L. James’. (In other words, it isn’t. And that’s a good thing. Every writer should try to develop their own style.)

The people we were talking to were genuinely curious about what I wrote. They weren’t avid readers and they were simply trying to relate to the type of stories I write. And when people do that, they tend to make references to people, places, and things that EVERYONE has heard of. Otherwise, there’s no bridge, no connection. There’s no jumping off point, no basis for discussion. It’s just people talking at each other, instead of to each other.

But the experience made me think. And even after all this time, I haven’t really answered the question it raised, which is basically:

What’s my gateway book?

So I’m curious if anyone else struggles with this.

Writers – when you are talking to someone who isn’t a fantasy fan (or who may not even be a reader at all), which book do you compare your work to?

Readers – when you meet someone who isn’t a fantasy fan (or who may not even be a reader at all), which book do you use as a well-known example of the genre?

Before we get to the fun part, an acknowledgement:

Yes, I know fantasy is replete with subgenres and endless iterations. I’m aware that your answer to this question is highly dependent on your own reading preferences. But that’s why you must choose something that has a 90% chance of being known by someone who is NOT ALREADY A FANTASY FAN AND POSSIBLY NOT EVEN A READER AT ALL. (In other words, this is not a post about all of the stories people should have heard of because they are great examples of the genre, but rather it’s a post about the books we use to start a discussion in the first place.)

So, here are some choices. But I’m also very interested in hearing from you. I can’t possibly have listed all the options…

My Favorite Gifts

S and Kindle Fire
The two gifts I was most excited about getting this year were
J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst’s ‘S.’ and a Kindle Fire HDX.

I’ve been looking forward to reading ‘S.’ since I first heard about it. And really, all I’ve heard about it is three things: (1) it’s a book for bibliophiles; (2) it’s a book that must be read in physical form because of all the tangible and non-digitally consumable extras (the postcards, maps, margin notes, handwritten napkins, etc.); and (3) it was written by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst. I’ll admit that I hadn’t heard of Dorst until I heard of S. but I’m really excited to see what he came up with. The premise – a story inside a story, written in the margins and on things slipped inside the book – is such a neat concept. At $35.00 it was a splurge, so I put it on my Christmas list with a very strong hint to my husband that he’d better not wait to buy it from our local bookstore.

'S' by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst

S by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst
All the goodies sticking out of ‘S’

The second gift I was super excited about was a new Kindle. Until Dec. 25th, I’d been reading on my trusty second generation Kindle and, while I still sort of have a sentimental attachment to it, it was time to upgrade. For those of you who don’t remember or never had one, the second generation Kindles are black & white and have no ability to stream content. I only used mine to access the Kindle store and buy books (not that that’s a bad thing, which is why it’s taken me so long to upgrade). But now it’ll be really cool to watch movies, surf the web, and see all those amazing book covers IN COLOR! 😀

Goodbye Kindle 2!
Goodbye Kindle 2!

How about you? Did anyone give you anything awesome, amazing, or inspiring? I hope so!

Blog Readers: What’s Your Favorite Type of Content?

I blog for a variety of reasons: it’s a creative outlet, a way to connect with others online, and a way to update everyone on what’s up with me and the series I write. But it’s been a long time since I asked all of you what YOU want to see here. As I think about possible website/blog changes and a new guest blog series for fall, I figured it would be the perfect time to ask you…

Thanks, everyone! Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Bewitching Book Tours Sizzling Summer Giveaway!

I mentioned before that I was participating in Bewitching Book Tours Sizzling Summer Giveaway and I promised more information on it. This post tells you everything you need to know to enter to win some really awesome prizes (including books, prize packs, and a Kindle Fire HD 8.9” screen with Wifi and 16GB). Over thirty Bewitching authors joined together to offer FOUR separate giveaway packs. Check them out below. Giveaway ends July 21st.

paranormal, bewitching books, supernatural, fantasy, giveaway, contest

Rafflecopter Giveaway One:

Kindle and swag packs

  •  1 Kindle HD -30 authors joined together to offer a spectacular grand prize A Kindle Fire HD 8.9” screen , Wifi ,16GB $269 value Open to US shipping, if outside US you can receive an equal value Amazon Gift Card
  •  1 huge package of book swag from Bewitching Book Tours filled with fun goodies from Bewitching Book Tours, owner Roxanne Rhoads and numerous Bewitching authors including a Starbucks giftcard from Gina Conkle
  •  4 packages of book swag from Bewitching Book Tours- filled with fun goodies from Bewitching authors
  •  1 mixed swag pack of various book swag from Milly Taiden
  •  1 book swag from Constance Phillips
  •  $15 Amazon gift card from Sky Purington

CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE RAFFLECOPTER FORM FOR GIVEAWAY ONE.

Rafflecopter Giveaway Two:

Print Books

  •  1 set of Bleeding Hearts (Demimonde #1) and Blood Rush (Demimonde #2) by Ash Krafton- US Shipping
  • 2 sets of Her Dear & Loving Husband and Her Loving Husband’s Curse by Meredith Allard open to US Shipping
  •  1 Kidnapped by Maria Hammarbald us shipping
  •  1 ROGUE ORACLE and DARK ORACLE by Alayna Williams- us shipping
  •  1 EMBERS and SPARKS by Laura Bickle- US shipping
  •  1 Fall of Sky City by SM Blooding US Shipping only
  •  1 signed set of DARK LIGHT OF DAY and FIERY EDGE OF STEEL by Jill Archer
  •  1 Life After the Undead and Death to the Undead by Pembroke Sinclair- US shipping
  •  1 DiSemblance by Shanae Branham
  •  1 Shield: Allie’s War, Book Two by JC Andrijeski (or Revik: Allie’s War, Early Years) by JC Andrijeski
  •  1 signed copy of VICIOUS CIRCLE by Linda Robertson (or any other title written by her if winner already has VC)
  •  1 DiSemblance by Shanae Branham open to International Shipping
  •  1 The Necromancer’s Seduction by Mimi Sebastian open to International Shipping
  •  2 print copies of The Chosen by Annette Gisby, US/Canada and UK entrants
  •  1 Print or ebook Copy of Night Hawk by JE Taylor to US residents or ebook (mobi or epub) for international folks. If US resident would prefer ebook – that can be done as well.
  •  1 Print or ebook Copy of Hunting Season by JE Taylor to US residents or ebook (mobi or epub) for international folks. If US resident would prefer ebook – that can be done as well
  •  1 Winner’s choice of print or digital (.mobi or .epub) of Royal Street or River Road by Suzanne Johnson, in either U.S. or U.K. editions; open to international.
  •  1 Winner’s Choice of print, audio, or digital (.mobi only) of Redemption, Absolution, Omega, or Storm Force by Susannah Sandlin open to international.
  •  1 All three books in the Phaeton Black, Paranormal Investigator series The Seduction of Phaeton Black, The Moonstone and Miss Jones, The Miss Education of Dr. Exeter by Jillian Stone. Print or eBook any format, reader’s choice Ebook open international

CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE RAFFLECOPTER FORM FOR GIVEAWAY TWO.

Bewitching Giveaway Three:

YA Books

  • 1 Signed print copy Portal by Imogen Rose- US Shipping
  •  1 Signed print copy of INITIATION by Imogen Rose- US Shipping
  •  1 print copy Hollow’s End by Marianne Morea- US Shipping
  •  5 print copies Visionary Unleashed by N. Dunham US shipping
  •  1 THE HALLOWED ONES by Laura Bickle- US Shipping
  •  1 print copy The Ifs (middle grade book) by JD Pooker
  •  1 print set of Reckoning and Relentless by Molly Hall- US shipping
  •  1 ebook copy of Soul Meaning by AD Starrling
  •  1 ebook copy of King’s Crusade by AD Starrling (
  •  1 ebook copy Hollow’s End by Marianne Morea
  •  5 ecopies Visionary Unleashed by N. Dunham
  •  5 ecopies of Portal by Imogen Rose
  •  5 ecopies INITIATION by Imogen Rose

CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE RAFFLECOPTER FORM FOR GIVEAWAY THREE.

Bewitching Books Tours Summer Giveaway Four:

E-books

  • 1 ebook copy Flashback by Maria Hammarblad
  •  10 ebook copies of Shield: Allie’s War, Book Two by JC Andrijeski (or Revik: Allie’s War, Early Years)
  •  1 Tyrant of Tarsit (Time travel romance) by Holly Hunt
  •  2 ebooks of New Zealand with a Hobbit Botherer by John Gisby (international)
  •  1 each Bleeding Hearts (Demimonde #1) and Blood Rush (Demimonde #2) by Ash Krafton
  •  2 copies each Her Dear & Loving Husband and Her Loving Husband’s Curse by Meredith Allard
  •  1 Winner’s choice Caged Heat or Wolf Protector by Milly Taiden
  •  1 ecopy Resurrecting Harry by Constance Phillips
  •  1 The Cat’s Meow by Stacey Kennedy
  •  1 Stavros is giving away 1 of each- eBook copies of Dead Girl: A Romantic Zombie Tale of Revenge, Blood Junky, and Love in Vein
  •  1 Murder on Mars (A New Orleans Mystery) by MM Shelley
  •  1 Little Red Riding Wolf by Jessica Aspen, mobi or epub available
  •  1 Cindy Spencer Paper is giving away an E-book – winner’s choice of any available on her website.
  •  1 eCopy of The MacLomain Series Boxed Set by Sky Purington (Books 1-4), PDF or gifted to Kindle
  •  5 free copies of DRAGONSTONE by Paula Millhouse : pdf, emobi, ePub
  •  5 ecopies of THREE WISHES by Paula Millhouse pdf, mobi, ePub
  •  1 ecopy SMOKE AND MIRRORS (The Gifted, Book 1) by Marie Treanor
  •  1 ecopy SERAFINA AND THE SILENT VAMPIRE (Serafina’s, Book 1) by Marie Treanor
  •  1 BLOOD GUILT (Blood Hunters, Book 1) by Marie Treanor
  •  1 Annie Nicholas is giving away Reader’s choice of any ebook from her backlist winner’s choice of .pdf, epub, mobi.
  •  1 one e-book set of the first two books in the Seven Seals Series (Seal of Destiny and Seal of Surrender) by Traci Douglass
  •  1 ecopy Wucaii by Pembroke Sinclair
  •  2 ebooks of Silent Screams by Annette Gisby (international)
  •  2 ebooks of Shadows of the Rose by Annette Gisby (international)
  •  3 EBOOKS (one set): THE CROSSE HARBOR TIME TRAVEL TRILOGY by Barbara Bretton
  •  1 More Than Friends by Jessica Jayne (.epub, .pdf, .mobi)
  •  1 In Flames by Jessica Jayne (.epub, .prc and .pdf)

CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE RAFFLECOPTER FORM FOR GIVEAWAY FOUR.

Good luck, everyone!

#BookClubs: Discussion Questions for Jill Archer’s Dark Light of Day

Dark Light of Day: The story of Noon Onyx, first year "demon law" student. (I promise it will be more fun to read than the books featured in this picture!) :-D
Dark Light of Day: The story of Noon Onyx, first year “demon law” student. (I promise it will be more fun to read than the books featured in this picture!) 😀

Looking for something different for your book club to read in 2013?

I finally loaded up some discussion questions for Dark Light of Day. They contain massive spoilers so I wanted to wait until the book had been out for a while. If you are looking for something different for your book club in 2013, check them out. Dark Light of Day is not a typical “book club book.” It’s not literary fiction, women’s fiction, or Fifty Shades of Grey. But it is entertaining and it raises some interesting questions for discussion. If you choose the book for your book club, be sure to let me know!

Click here to read the blurb and see the cover (on the “Novels” page of my website).

Click here for the Discussion Questions (on the “Book Clubs” page of my website).

Hope everyone is having a great Thursday!

Looking for Guest Bloggers for 2013 New Year #NewAdult Book Blast

Reading by the window in winter
Do you write New Adult books? If so, I’d love to hear from you!

A little over a week ago I ended my “Fall Into Winter Darkness” Book Blast. As with my “Spring Into Summer Romance” Book Blast, I had a lot of fun hosting fellow writers and getting to know more about them and their work. I want to give a final shout out to all of the authors who participated in my fall guest blog series. They are listed below in the order in which they posted or were interviewed.

For the next book blast I’d love to host authors who write “New Adult” books. Many of you have probably heard the term New Adult by now, but for those of you that haven’t, New Adult is an up and coming genre that’s getting increasing attention. Definitions vary (which is part of the reason it’s such an exciting topic), but basically NA fiction features protagonists who are slightly older than the typical YA character (18-24) and who grapple with the momentous life decisions that often occur early in one’s adult life (career choices, partner choices, finding one’s adult identity, path in life, etc.) I wrote a blog post about it, which posted here at Brinda Berry’s site, during my blog tour for Dark Light of Day. I enjoyed talking with other writers who write in this emerging genre and I thought it would be fun to host a New Adult themed book blast, which would start shortly after the New Year. So… if you write New Adult fiction and are interested in participating in my 2013 New Year / New Adult Book Blast, please contact me!

Thanks to the 2012 Fall Into Winter Darkness Book Blast Participants!

Hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving! 😀