Happy Release Day to Hickory Dickory Death by N.D. Testa

Hello and happy Spooky Season! I’ve got an exciting post for you today, because my friend and Enchanted Anthologies coauthor, N.D. Testa, has published her debut novel!

Hickory Dickory Death is a collection of short, gaslamp, Victorian era, fantasy horror stories, and it’s perfect Autumnal/Halloween reading.

Blurb

A Soul for A Soul

I am a woman
I am a man
I am the one who seeks revenge

In Victorian Era England, five people come face to face with life’s most feared entity: Death.

During their time of mourning, each is approached by a peddler woman who calls herself Persephone. Surrounded in mystery and magic, she gives the grievers advice and hands them a box which contains an article of jewelry. Beneath the beauty and sparkle, lies a secret that is more than the recipients imagined:

An escape from their sorrow…

A chance for revenge…

A bewitching exchange…

A soul for a soul…

The chosen must come to grips with their own quests in order to right the wrongs that have been inflicted on their spirits.


I was lucky enough to interview N.D. Testa for this blog before release day. Here’s what we chatted about:

Hi Nic, welcome back to my blog! Tell us a little about yourself, for those who haven’t had the pleasure yet.

My name is Nicole. I write under the pennames N.D.T. Casale and N.D. Testa. I live on the East Coast of the United States. I am Italian-American. I am trilingual with aspirations to learn more languages (I speak English, Italian, and Spanish). I love to eat, cook, and experience good food. I am an animal lover. I love to travel and go on adventures. Fitness is a big part of my life. In my free time I lift weights, snowboard, and ride horses. I am a fashionista. I love clothes, shoes, makeup, and skincare.   

You’re a multi talented woman! I love how many passions and interests you have, I bet it really helps when it comes to creating characters and fantasy worlds. So, what got you started writing?

I have been writing stories since I was a child. During summer break from school, when I was little, my mom used to give me a notebook to practice my writing. She would give me random topics and challenge me to write stories. My dad and I used to read books together when I was growing up and it drew me into the world of fantasy. When my sister was little, I told my sister stories I created before she went to bed. As I have grown my writing has blossomed into multiple books that I am hoping to publish in the future.  

What a dreamy bookish childhood! My dad also got me into reading when I was a kid, he would pick up new books from the library for me every week, asking the librarians what they recommended for an animal loving ten -year-old. And it was actually his mum, my gran, who got me into fantasy when she bought me the first two Harry Potter books. What genres do you like to write? Are they same ones you like to read?

I write fantasy and mystery books. In the coming year, I plan on publishing a few children’s books I have written. I always like to challenge myself and try to write different genres when the inspiration arises. I like to read fantasy books because they allow me to escape reality. I like to read mystery books because I enjoy solving puzzles. 

My two favourite genres to read are fantasy and crime/mystery novels, I always think about writing a crime thriller and publishing it under a pen name. Maybe one day! Tell us a little about your debut novel, which comes out today.

My novel Hickory Dickory Death will be available October 13, 2022. It is a gaslamp fantasy/mystery novel with twists and turns, heart-stopping action, and bewitching exchanges.

I can absolutely attest to that, having beta read a few of the stories in the collection! Congratulations again on your debut novel, it’s been an honour publishing our short stories side by side in anthologies, but I’m so excited for everything you have coming up. So, how do you create your characters?

I create my characters based on life experiences. The highs, the lows, the joys, the trials, the tribulations, the people, the feelings, all have a big influence on my writing. I love the quote “what we give power has power,” because being a writer gives us power. In many of my stories, the situations my characters partake in mirror experiences I have gone through and what I have felt.

I create characters of different walks of life, nationalities, races, and backgrounds in my novels because I want everyone to feel welcome in my books. I hope that my stories can help people like myself who have gone through challenging times find hope again. I want readers to know they are not alone. No matter how challenging our lives can be, we can persevere. We can overcome, we are warriors, and we can find happiness again. Lastly, many characters I magically create in my head. I wait for them to talk to me and tell me what to write. 🙂 

Real life is such a beautiful and rich source of inspiration for characters and stories, you’ll definitely never run out of ideas! Where do you write? Do you plot extensively or are you a pantser?

I write sitting on my bed. Sometimes I write outside when the weather is nice. I am a plotter. I use notebooks to sketch an outline of how I want the story to go and then I elaborate from there. 

I’m a plotter too, I’m in awe of anyone who can pants a whole book and it turns out as a complete story! I need a strict outline that I can veer away from but always come back to. What are you working on as we speak?

I am finalizing my novel Hickory Dickory Death (out now!). I am working on another book titled Sapphora: Shards of Secrecy. It is a fantasy novel that combines Egyptian Mythology and secrecy. I am also working on short stories for the two charity anthologies I am a part of: Enchanted Anthologies Series and What’s in a Name series. 

I’m so excited for your fantasy novel, I love mythology and don’t think I’ve read anything based on Egyptian Myths yet! And I really need to start working on my short stories for the anthologies to, the deadline are creeping up! What would your advice be for aspiring authors?

Truthfully I still consider myself to be in the early stages of authorship. I am learning so much yet I still have a lot to learn. Advice I would give to others is write from your heart, believe in yourself, and believe in your writing. Never let anyone try to change your style. Get involved, join groups on social media, and talk to other authors. Lastly, do your research, there are many steps to publishing a book that I never knew existed. Take your time and go at your own pace. 

Nic, it has been an absolute pleasure catching up with you. Congratulations on publishing your debut novel today, everybody should go and grab it now! How can we find out more about you and your books?

You can follow my author adventures on Instagram and Tik Tok @ndtcasale! 

Newsletter signup: https://gmail.us17.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=07f73c8702d2b351c72884c8b&id=be08135b3e 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ndtcasale/


Facebook:  https://m.facebook.com/NDT-Casale-ND-Testa-101615729259730/?ref=page_internal  

TikTok: https://vm.tiktok.com/TTPdVSM9Xt/ 

Goodreads:

N.D.T. Casale https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/21051236.N_D_T_Casale 

N.D. Testa https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/153233523-n-d-testa 


Thank you so much to Nic for chatting with me, and huge congratulations on your debut novel coming out today!

Don’t forget to get your copy of Hickory Dickory Death on Amazon!

Lyndsey

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Review: It’s a Bears Life: That’s No Picnic by Astrid V. J.

Where are my urban fantasy, shifter story fans? I’ve got a treat for you today. Fancy getting stuck into a brand new series about animal shifters set in inner-city Sweden? This is a prequel novella introducing us to some of the characters that will feature in the full length series that, if you ask me, can’t come soon enough!

Title: It’s a Bear’s Life: That’s No Picnic (The Last Vasa #0.5)

Author: Astrid V. J.

Rating: 5 stars

Link: https://www.amazon.com/Its-Bears-Life-Thats-Picnic-ebook/dp/B0B25J5H1P/


Blurb

There’s nothing much more life-changing than a bullet to the neck…

While he contemplates death and the consequences his will bring for his family, Bashir is offered a chance at a new life by the Swedish police officer who finds him in a dark alley of Gothenburg’s infamous north-eastern suburb. Bashir’s new life comes with the surprise that nothing is as he previously believed: magical creatures exist, and preying on the weak are forces far more sinister than the drug dealers he’d contended with before.

But if becoming a part of Sweden’s hidden underworld of shifters weren’t enough, Bashir’s discoveries are upended when he meets Milena: the last Vasa.


Review

This was a great introduction to an exciting new urban fantasy world, one set in Sweden and based in reality, but with a secret community of shifters and magic. Being a prequel novella and therefore quite short, the book doesn’t delve too deep into the lore or details of the shifter abilities or magic system, and I’m really looking forward to finding out more when the first book in the main series is released.

Astrid did manage to weave together elements of history, folklore, politics, religion and culture into this story, hinting at so much more to come.

Bashir’s experiences as an immigrant were so well portrayed and gave the story an added layer of tension and credibility, it was heartbreaking to see his physical reaction to authority figures like the police and the train ticket collector due to his past, negative experiences.

When the mysterious figure of Milena was introduced I desperately wanted to find out who and what she was, but I suppose I’ll have to wait until I get my hands on the first book in the main series, as the trilogy will focus on Milena’s life, with Bashir as a secondary character.

I’m so intrigued by the world of these bear shifters and the part the Last Vasa has to play in the forthcoming series. I can’t wait to read book one now!

You can grab a copy of It’s a Bear’s Life now for just 99c!

Lyndsey

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Review: Kingdom of Lies by R. S. Williams

Hello, hello! How is this baking hot heatwave treating you? I’m just about managing not to melt into a puddle, but it’s touch and go.

I just finished reading the first book in a new epic fantasy series by R. S. Williams and wanted to tell you all about it, mainly because it’s brill, but also because book two is coming in September and preorders are already open and just 99c! So you won’t have long to wait to binge both books. Plus there’s a prequel novella you can grab for free when you sign up to the author’s email list, I’ll tell you a little about that later…

Book

Title: Kingdom of Lies

Author: R. S. Williams

Rating: 5 stars (it has 4.5 stars on Goodreads and 4.1 on Amazon overall)

Link: https://www.amazon.com/Kingdom-Lies-Kane-Saga-Book-ebook/dp/B096VYX2DZ/

Audio book: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Kingdom-of-Lies-Audiobook/B0B5LWX5Q8

Blurb

Magic is back in Adelith, and with it the return of Cyran.

Elijah spends his days preparing for the annual Hollom horse race and working at his guardian Merrick’s forge. That is, until Merrick is summoned back to Castle Aebarrow in Adelith by the king.

Unable to stay in Rheanydd without a legal guardian, Eli is forced to go with Merrick who takes up the position of captain and trains the new guards. But the more time Eli spends in Adelith, the more his lost memories resurface-and they throw up worrying questions about his past.

As a member of Princess Sienna’s Elite Guard, Eli saves her life when it’s threatened by the presence of a mysterious Missing Prince. Eli’s heroics incur the wrath of a mad sorcerer known only as The Master, hell-bent on ending the courting prince’s life.

Elijah enters a dangerous path of self-discovery where magic and secrets intertwine. The truth about his past is within reach, but can he unlock his memories and solve the riddles in time to save the true heir to the throne? Or will the castle be brought crumbling down once more?


Review

Kingdom of Lies feels like a good old, classic epic fantasy, along the lines of The Lord of the Rings and Eragon. It follows Elijah, who has been raised by his guardian, Merrick, and is both a talented rider and skilled swordsman, thanks to Merrick’s tutelage.

When Merrick, who is an old friend of the king’s and a legendary soldier, is summoned back to the castle, Eli is forced to join him. But as soon as they arrive he begins to be struck by painful headaches and flashes of strange memories and visions of the past.

With an old threat rising once more, a rumoured missing prince and rightful heir to the throne, and spies infiltrating the castle and poisoning the princess, Eli joins the Elite Guard and finds himself embroiled in a dangerous mission to discover the truth about the unsettling memories he’s plagued with.

This book is a serious slow burn in every sense of the word. The romance between Elijah and the love interest (no spoilers here!) is hinted at and there are some sweet and swoon worthy scenes peppered throughout, but it isn’t the main focus of the story so fans of low romance fantasy will be happy. The plot also builds slowly, but the pace does keep the pages turning, and the world Rhianne (that’s R. S. Williams to me and you) has created is uncovered piece by piece, revealing magic, betrayal, fascinating herbology (I may have pinched this term from Harry Potter, but you get my meaning), and even dragons.

We don’t get to see any actual dragons in book one (see what I mean about a slow burn?), but as book two, coming in September, is titled Return of the Dragons, I’m guessing they’ll feature heavily in that one!

My favourite thing about this book was the characters, and especially a few of the secondary characters. There is a strong theme of friendship and loyalty (not surprising for a book with ‘lies’ in the title), and I loved the bromance between Elijah and Sahab. I also adored Eli’s friendship with Maevine, one of the princess’s ladies maids. At first I wondered if they might become more than friends, but it never developed into a romance, and pretty quickly it became obvious Eli was meant for someone else, but their bond stayed just as strong and unbreakable. Another character I adored was Naoko, one of the nurses in the castle infirmary. She’s a strong, self-assured and knowledgeable woman who doesn’t take anyone’s crap, and I totally respect that.

The magic system is subtle and I’m looking forward to learning more in the next two books, as well as the prequel novella, Tournament of the Elite.

Speaking of Tournament of the Elite, did you know that if you subscribe to Rhianne’s email list, you can read this novella completely free? Click here to check it out and sign up:

The novella will give you a good insight into the world and history of the story (it’s set years earlier and follows the young king) and let you decide if you think this series is for you. But, I would say, if you like classic sword and sorcery, epic journeys and battles against mysterious foes, a light sprinkling of romance that doesn’t overshadow the main plot, and, of course, dragons, then The Kane Saga is right up your alley!

Now, I’m off to read Tournament of the Elite, and then dive into my ARC of book two!

Happy reading friends,

Lyndsey

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