#GuestPost : Home (After it Happened Book 9) by Devon C. Ford #Home #AfteritHappened @vulpine_press @DevonFordAuthor

Hello Readers! Today I’m pleased to welcome Devon C Ford on Books Teacup and Reviews to talk about the location inspiration for his new post-apocalyptic/sci-fi book, Home in After it Happened series. Check out the book details and interesting guest post below.

Home (After it Happened Book 9) by Devon C. Ford


Publication Date: March 27th 2020


Publisher: Vulpine Press


Genre: post-apocalyptic / sci-fi

Synopsis:

Safety is an illusion. Security is only a fleeting sense. Peace is a myth. 

Steve and the other survivors in the UK have rebuilt and healed after the brutal end to the reign of Richards. But removing a dictator was only the beginning… 

Years after a mistake of compassion and humanity, an enemy thought long gone returns to bring down a rain of violence and terror the likes of which they have never seen before. 

Their society, a peaceful one of trade and co- operation, has moved on from the bloody aftermath of the collapse, but that evolution blunts their teeth to be able to combat the new threat. 

The call to return to the rainy shores of England is strong for Dan and his fearless accomplices, so they return home to do what they do best: bring justice to a lawless world. 

About Series:

Set in the UK in the immediate aftermath of a mysterious illness which swept the country and left millions dead, After it Happened follows the trials of a reluctant hero, Dan, and the group he forms around him. They must battle the elements, find sufficient supplies and equipment to survive, and protect themselves against the most destructive force on the planet: other people.

Guest Post: Location Inspiration

A lot of fans ask me about the places in my books. Some of them are real, but most of them are figments of my imagination inspired by real places and changed to fit what I need for the story.

Following the mantra of writing what you know makes it easy to describe real places, but what to do when those real places limit your storytelling ability? How do you overcome that limitation to where your imagination wants to go?

In After It Happened, I did just that and based the early stories on places I knew well which allowed me to give that element of realism it so deserved. When the story evolved and moved on I found myself increasingly reliant on the internet to give me the visual backdrop of a canvas where I could paint my brushstrokes for the readers.

What to do when you’ve painted yourself into a corner? Two words.

Road.

Trip.

Minor spoiler alert, the story that starts in the rural centre of England moves south through the continent where pictures needed to be painted for the characters to play out their own story. I had to construct a set in which my imaginary actors could perform, and that required inspiration.

Now I’m not much of a people person – shock horror for a writer, I know – and even more so that I’m nervous of new places and not having a set pan to follow. I’m that person who arrives at the airport five hours early in case I don’t make the flight.

After a month of meticulous planning and creating an itinerary, I set off from home just after midnight to head south for le Chunnel.

From there, after half an hour sitting in my car as the train thundered along beneath the English Channel I emerged in the early hours in northern France with the same bizarre disorientation you get coming out of the cinema in the dark when you’d entered in daylight.

There I began what became an intimate and long-lasting personal relationship with the voice commands of my car’s navigation program. We very nearly split up when she unnecessarily took me on the Paris ring road as part of the return leg where I believe they were filming a new version of Death Race.

The first foreign leg, fraught with the confusion of being on the wrong side of the road, saw me driving from Calais to Bordeaux over about ten hours, with an additional ten percent of that spent stuck on a one-way system that gave me tantalising glimpses of the hotel I was supposed to staying at.

The following morning, setting off bright and early after three too many fresh croissants, saw me taking a stunning drive down the Pyrenees towards the first of my research locations.

That drive will forever be etched into my memory as the challenging, twisting mountain roads left my face aching with repetitive strain injury brought on by continuous grinning.

Due to the many errors made by my navigational companion, which may have been me ignoring her for the sheer enjoyment of driving, I found myself crossing through into Spain accidentally and then back to France before an inspiring tunnel lead me to a wonderfully inexpensive fuel station.

Trying out my (appalling) best French, I was shocked to be answered in Spanish and found out I was, in fact, a visitor of Andorra. That happy accident led to an hour of exploration and the inspiration for the seventh book of the series, even if I didn’t know that yet as I was researching book five.

Reluctantly getting back to my plan, I took to the mountain roads again to race the course of one of the rivers leading to my objective, Villefranche de Conflent. Literally the confluence of two rivers where a medieval walled town sat beneath a high hill crowned by an impenetrable defensive position called Fort Liberia.

These two places became so influential, so crucial to the story that without being there, without climbing the hundreds of steps carved out of the mountain itself and without walking the same ramparts my characters defended, I would never have created the story as it now exists.

Twice more I visited the town, getting by with my best (still appalling) French along with much pointing and smiling, until I’d walked every inch of the town until I could feel the cobblestones under my feet as I slept.

On what became my last visit there I saw a painting in the museum of a watchtower in a place called Sahorre which captured my frivolous attention enough to create yet another vital element to my books.

After a quick google I set off, opting to take the long walk as I had with the steps leading to Fort Liberia, and climbed that steep hill to spend a long time looking out over a cloudy-filled valley offering me line of sight for miles. I soaked in every detail I could, letting it infuse me in a way that sounds far too bohemian even to me, but that’s what I did.

Waking the next day with a number of aches to remind me that climbing two mountains on the same day was ill-advised at my age, I headed south for the sea.

I may not live anywhere near the coast now, but I grew up near it and always felt an affinity for a sea view and can still recall the calming sensation I experienced when I dropped out of the high ground to look down on what would eventually become the place I call Sanctuary.

Looking at the seaside town of Collioure, with the crown jewel of another medieval castle sitting proudly to loom over the entrance, I saw how these places would come together in my mind to create the perfect setting.

Wandering through the town again, earning odd looks from locals, I sat on the sea wall looking inwards to the town to form every wall, every rampart, every building in my mind until I could see it clearly. Even as the sun set there I still sat, drinking it all in until it became, and always will remain, my ultimate happy place.

So my answer to the readers when they ask if the places are real? Yes, they are. Only not in the literal sense.

My advice to other writers? Get out from wherever you sit to write. Chase your story to the places it takes you and don’t be afraid to change the world to make it what you need it to be. You never know what your imagination will create.

Purchase Links:

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/329jlVg

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2SYb6Hi

About the Author:

Devon C Ford is from the UK and lives in the Midlands. His career in public services started in his teens and has provided a wealth of experiences, both good and some very bad, which form the basis of the books ideas that cause regular insomnia.

Facebook: @decvoncfordofficial

Twitter: @DevonFordAuthor

Website: www.devoncford.com

Let’s discuss!

What do you think about the book and post?
Have you read this book already or any book in this series?
Are you going to add it to TBR?

HAPPY READING!!

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#BookReview : The Healing Stone (Starchild #3) by Vacen Taylor @VacenTaylor

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The Healing Stone (Starchild #3) by Vacen Taylor
Publication Date: April 10th 2015
Publisher: Odyssey Books
Genre: Middle Grade / Fantasy
Pages: 176
Stars: ★★★★★

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After finding the Silvershade and escaping the attacking forces as the Wilder Forest city was scorched to the ground, Mai, Akra and Kalin must now face the evil that has consumed Long.

When they reach the land of Cruscar and enter the ice city of Algus, the children are confronted with an ice challenge to win an audience with Queen Isolda. A treacherous journey now awaits them if they are to reach the Healing Stone to save Long.

But Piceptus, the underworld king, will not give up his search and he will do anything to bring the pilgrims’ journey to an end. The children grow stronger as they begin to master their powers, but will this be enough to escape this danger and continue on their pilgrimage to fulfil the prophecy?

*** Note: I received this book from the author as a winner of giveaway. ***

Previous book I read in series:

The Healing Stone was a thrilling third installment in Starchild series and was much better than previous books. This follows Akra, Mai and Kalin’s journey towards Algus, City of Ice and their adventure in this cold nation. It was about friendship, situation testing their skill and patience, hope and faith in prophecy.

The writing was gripping, vivid and flawless. Author depicted characters, their journey through the sea and the city of Ice wonderfully.

It started with Long’s worsening health and their arrival to the first iceberg, the boundary of Algus where they met Queen’s soldiers who as per their law asked to participate in challenge. If they won the challenge, they could meet the queen and ask her help in healing Long. Now that was rude to greet visitors but it was an interesting challenge. Until now I saw Akra’s basic healing skill but in this challenge I could see more of his waterclasper’s skills which were more than just basic. Queen of Ice, Isolda, was as cold as her city and weather but her son, Aque, was kind, gentle and charming. I was curious to see how they were going to win the challenge and convince the queen in helping them and how they were going to heal Long.

The characters, plot and world was getting better in this book. The world was interesting. Along with the Algus, people of ice and their way of living, rules and laws, creatures of ice and dangers in the icy Mountains, there was interesting legend about the healing stone and how the world of elemental magic developed and 8 nations were created each possessing one elemental skill, how prophecy came into existence and why people believed in it. There was more story about the starchild but it was yet to be revealed. I’m sure upcoming books will tell more about him. There was also growing army of King of fire, Piceptus. He had his plans, his siblings and powers were evil.

Each chapters were exciting to read, revealed more about the world and characters. Their journey from city to icy mountains where lay the healing stone was filled with adventure and danger. We finally meet the soundwaver who helped children in previous book and get to know why he helped them. The way prophecy was unfolding, fulfilling the each line and binding characters with it, was clever and fascinating.

Mai was much more patient and strong than I expected. If I was in her situation, I’m sure I would have left my patience behind a book earlier. Her trust in Akra, Kalin and new friends Aque and Fojan was great. I could empathize with her and all the children. Their courage was admirable. Fojan was strong soundwaver. I liked how he grew to like each of them. Aque was fun. He was the last healer of Algus and successor of throne. Unlike his mother, he believed in prophecy and these children. Banter between him and Fojan was entertaining. They all grew strong by the end of the book.

Climax was tense. At first I was not sure but then I could figure who would be left behind and will be taken by Piceptus by this point. End was tragic and sad.

Overall, it was gripping, fun, dangerous and adventurous journey of four kids in the world of elemental magic and prophecy that played important part. I recommend this book to all middle grade lovers.

Book Links: Goodreads | Amazon
Affiliate Link: Book Depository

Let’s discuss!

What do you think about the book and review? Have you read this book already or any book in this series? Are you going to add it to TBR?
Which book you read had extremely cold setting?

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#BookReview : Maps of Bliss and Rage by Mario Dhingsa

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Maps of Bliss and Rage by Mario Dhingsa
Published May 15th 2019
Genre: Fiction / Anthology
Pages: 186
Stars: ★★★★☆ (3.5)

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Eight achingly original, wonderfully witty and touchingly tender stories spanning the globe:
Antarctica, New Zealand, India, New York City,
Malta, Italy, Switzerland, England.
Eight countries, eight strangers, eight escapes…

*** Note: I received e-copy of this book from the author, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Mario Dhingsa. ***

Maps of Bliss and Rage was collection of 8 short stories set in 8 different countries. It was about survival and adventure, revenge, abuse and religious conflicts, politics, Christianity and miracle, unlikely friendship, rumors about princess and her dangerous life, reminiscence of school life.

Writing was great. I loved the way each stories started with interesting characters and their situation, the way stories developed with plot twists and the unpredictable ends. Setting was great, the place and timeline for story, cultural aspect and some historical facts ware written perfectly. Some stories were entertaining, while some emotional, tense and had hard topics.

That blurb doesn’t say anything about the stories, so here is bits of what it’s about and what I liked.-

1. Between the Sword and the Wall

This was good first story of the collection. It followed Crozier, an environmentalist and Rawdon, a penguin biologist selected as staff replacement at Casey Station in Antarctica. Their wait till research starting in October was crucial in icy, bone chilling atmosphere. Loneliness, nothing to do drove most of them crazy. Rawdon got this crazy idea to visit a likely girlfriend at another base. In weather so chilling that even half kms was impossible to cross, these two set out on this crazy and deadly adventure. Their situation was awkward and I did feel bad for them but it was entertaining and humorous. I liked the end.

2. I won’t stay Still

This was the story of hurt lover and undervalued subordinate plotting their revenge to settle the score with a politician who was rich, powerful and an adulterer. It was set in New Zealand. I liked the way characters were called. There was no original name but were called by their position- diplomat, clerk, secretary, ambassador, Lady N. it was quite unique and so was the story. I loved this one. End was satisfactory.

3. The end of the storm in my hand

This was my most favorite story, set in India. It was a story of a gang leader plotting  riots along with corrupted police officers, a cowardly evil officer who abused his wife and beat his children to vent off his anger, a helpless father trying to save his innocent daughter-in-law and many other people of the town. This made me so much angry. It had some tragic events. The story was perfectly written. It was close to the fact. Author captured culture and flaws of India aptly.

4. The Pierogi Negotiation

It was set in USA that followed meeting of President Nixon with his National security advisor Kissinger discussing diplomatic situation related to bringing peace and ending Vietnam war. This was not my favorite story. I almost lost interest in the middle and had to read few passages again to get a grip.

5. Saints and Shipwrecks

It followed a sour old man and his son who returned after long time with his roman fiancée. Set in Malta, it expressed old man’s dislike towards romans, his strong belief in Saint Paul and the story of shipwreck, a daughter-in-law who didn’t agree with his thoughts and arguments, and a son sandwiched between two desperately trying to calm the situation and bring truce between the two bickering person in the house until they witness a miracle. At first I didn’t get what was going on and what they were talking about until I googled the Saint Paul story they were arguing over. I liked the way story took turn. End was shocking.

6. A Gentle Hand

This was set in Rome, at cemetery where a wondering spirits met three other waiting for the gate to open and pass through from this world. They form unlikely friendship after death during this waiting period. Their life story was intriguing. But again I lost interest at some point and I had to read twice to understand this story.

7. Knives Within

This story follows a rumor about illegitimate princess, a member of imperial family of Japan, who was sent away to study in Europe but kept under protection and surveillance. There were those who wanted to save her, keep her protected and those who wanted to take advantage of imperial family’s situation and harm Princess. The story was tense, fast paced, had interesting turn and unpredictable end.  

8. De tijd brengt rozen

The story followed Marty reminiscing a childhood event that changed his life, a time with his beloved teacher who understood him, cared for him and had changed his life by helping him to be better person. This story had unexpected end.

Why 3.5 stars-

As I said I had, in 2-3 stories I lost interest in middle and had to re-read few passages to get a grip. Maybe it’s just me, it won’t be the case with you, but it niggled a little.

Overall, it was interesting anthology with creative stories that took place in different countries .

Book Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Let’s discuss!

What do you think about the book and review? Have you read this book already or any book by the same author? Are you going to add it to TBR? Which is your favorite Anthology or short story?

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#BookReview : I Know You Remember by Jennifer Donaldson

I Know You Remember by Jennifer Donaldson
Publication Date: October 8th 2019
Publisher: Razorbill
Genre: YA / Thriller /Psychological thriller
Pages: 336
Stars: ★★★★★

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Jennifer Donaldson is back with another twisted thriller perfect for fans of One of Us Is Lying and Gone Girl.

Zahra Gaines is missing.

After three long years away, Ruthie Hayden arrives in her hometown of Anchorage, Alaska to this devastating news. Zahra was Ruthie’s best friend–the only person who ever really understood her–and she vows to do whatever it takes to find her.

Zahra vanished from a party just days before Ruthie’s return, but the more people she talks to, the more she realizes that the Zahra she knew disappeared long before that fateful night. Gone is the whimsical, artistic girl who loved books and knew Ruthie’s every secret. In her place is an athlete, a partier, a girl with secrets of her own. Darker still are the rumors that something happened to Zahra while Ruthie was gone, something that changed her forever…

As Ruthie desperately tries to piece together the truth, she falls deeper and deeper into her friend’s new world, circling closer to a dangerous revelation about what Zahra experienced in the days before her disappearance–one that might be better off buried.

In her stunning follow-up to Lies You Never Told Me, Jennifer Donaldson once again delivers a propulsive thriller with a masterful twist, skillfully creating a world where nothing is quite as it seems.

*** Note: I received e-copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to PRHGlobal for free copy. ***

I Know You Remember was suspenseful YA thriller that revolved around Ruthie and her lost best friend Zahra. It was about obsession, dysfunctional family, abusive parents and their addiction issues, friendship and jealousy.  

Writing was addictive, it pulled me into story right from the beginning. Setting was fabulous. The story had that sad, heavy darkness hanging over it all the time and Alaska’s cold weather, trails through wilds and stories of predator attacks heightened those feelings. I loved that dark fantasy characters wrote in the book. That fanfiction story, Starmaiden and Lyr characters and bits of the world was fascinating.

Book was first person narrative told from Ruth’s POV. Her voice was believable, it felt real, made me see all characters the way she wanted. It started with Ruth at her mother’s funeral who died in hiking accident. She decide to go back to her hometown, Anchorage, to her dad’s home. She left the town 3 years ago after her parents’ divorce because of her alcoholic father. But now he was sober, married, and only relative left. On arriving back, she tried to contact her best friend Zahra all through weekends but couldn’t even find her at her home. I kind of felt sorry for Ruth and then on Monday, school announced terrible new, Zahra was missing.

Things turned dark and uncertain soon and fast. Ruth felt so much change in Zahra’s room at her home and personality. The Zahra people were talking about was not the same she knew. It was scary to see a drastic change in girl going from kind and lively to aloof and caught up in teen drama. I was worried for Zahra. I kept thinking what might have happened to her to cause this change, what happened to her after party, where she went and who might have hurt her. I was worried for Ruth who not just lost her mother but her best friend.

Ruth was determined and fierce girl, obsessed to find Zahra. And so she friendship with Zahra’s friends and tried to get to know people she was connected with. Tabitha, Zahra’s now best friend, was never sober. She was this rich and bitch girl who mostly lived alone in big house. Ben, Zahra’s ex-boyfriend, was volatile, popular guy but not everybody liked him. They had big fight the night she disappeared. There was rumor Zahra was cheating and then there was her grandfather, a famous pastor who was misogynist. No single character was reliable and likable except Ingrid. She surprised me. She was brave, smart, caring, and protective step-sister of Ruth. Though I didn’t appreciate her blind belief, she was most likable person in the book.

There were many elements in story– PTSD, social anxiety, drug and alcohol addicted parents, their ill-treatments and its effects on kids’ mentality and psychology, exploitation of religion and using it to gain power and control. All the big serious topic that gave so much to discuss over. I blame parents here for the all wrong thing happened in the book.

Climax was most interesting. Once I got to know characters, I knew where this story was heading. I had my guesses and when I reached climax, bingo. I thought I would give it 4 star because I could figure it all out at some point, but then came most shocking twist. I read in some reviews saying it felt like author decided to change the end all of sudden but I feel it was a clever. I felt like why I even tried to guess who the real culprit was! I couldn’t have guessed that twist. End was satisfactory but still mind-boggling.

Overall, it was gripping, thrilling, page-turner with brilliant twist and amazing setting. I surely recommend this book.

Book Links: Goodreads | Amazon
Affiliate Link: Book Depository

Let’s discuss!

What do you think about the book and review? Have you read this book already or any book by the same author? Have you read YA thriller? Which one is favorite in this genre?

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