August Fog A.L. Goulden (August Fog, #1) Publication date: August 1st, 2020 Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Women’s Fiction
Monica Waters has 31 days to choose between the love of her life or her soulmate. Juggling an unglamorous Hollywood career and a clumsy injury with an endless cocktail of antidepressants and dull daily routines, Monica moves through her thirties in a fog, avoiding the pain of her damaged marriage, broken body, and fragile mind.
Until he comes along.
When emerging artist Quinn Matthews moves next door, just coping with the downward spiral of life is no longer feasible. Their powerful connection ignites a relationship that will tip the boundaries of their perfectly balanced lives, sparking a mutual obsession and life-altering affair.
Monica tosses her prescriptions, striving to be free of their control, but with each passing summer day, dangerous secrets seep into their quiet suburban life, inching toward disaster. Sometimes the truth is hidden for a reason.
“This is a contemporary tale of a woman’s struggle to navigate love and mental illness, while defining where and how she will land on her own feet.” –Independent Reader
“A raw and honest look at the ugly secrets behind a flawed marriage and the stigmas of depression.”
It’s been a great time reviewing books and I thought why not share a few things about their authors as well. Here’s one of my first author interviews with Hayley Reese Chow, author of Odriel’s Heirs.
Hayley Reese Chow has short and flash fiction featured or upcoming in Lite Lit One, The Drabble, Bewildering Stories, Teleport Magazine, and Rogue Blades Entertainment’s omnibus, AS YOU WISH!
Until recently though, she’s mostly done a lot of things that have nothing at all to do with writing. Her hat collection includes mother, wife, engineer, USAF veteran, reservist, four-time All American fencer, 100-mile ultramarathoner, triathlete, world traveler, voracious reader, and super-nerd.
Hayley currently lives in Florida with two small wild boys, her long-suffering husband, and her miniature ragehound.
But at night, when the house is still, she writes.
Here’s my really fun interview with Hayley!
Tell us something about yourself.
H – I am the runt of a litter of some pretty cool people. I have three sisters: the one with the Ph.D. in Aeronautical Engineering is an international adventure racer (look for her on Amazon Prime’s 2019 Eco-Challenge), the industrial engineer will be racing in the US Olympic Trials for the marathon this year (@sarahbishopruns), and the nuclear engineer graduated from MIT at 20-years-old, fluent in Mandarin.
So basically, when the universe got to me (the fourth daughter), they were all out of brains and brawn, and I’ve been winging it ever since.
What made you want to start writing?
H – After I graduated undergrad, I worked part-time for 6 months before I started my career. I didn’t really know what to do with myself, so I read until I had words coming out of my ears. But still, I just couldn’t find the story that I really needed. Finally, tired of me moping about the house, my father told me to create something. It was like a lightbulb came on—and I finally wrote the story that I had been looking for.
Life got busy after that (career, Master’s, marriage, kids), but six years after putting away the first draft, I decided to try to revise and publish. Then the twitter writing community sucked me in, and I haven’t looked back since.
What can readers expect from your book?
H – A fast-paced young adult fantasy with themes of self-doubt, inner strength, and growing up, mixed with a healthy dose of magic, a dash of romance, and a horde of undead to round it out.
What is the story behind the imaginative world that you have created?
H – Okarria is a mix of all my favourite fictional places. A land with creatures that seem both familiar and extraordinary and filled with magic that can be both wondrous and dangerous. A continent you could walk for centuries and still find surprises. A place full of diverse peoples with a million stories left to be told.
If given a chance to co-author a book with another author, who would it be and why?
H – Oh my gosh, just thinking about this makes me feel nervous—so much pressure! Naomi Novik would be amazing though. Her stories are so beautifully told—I am forever on the lookout for her next book. Her characters are always interesting and the world so perfectly woven. Co-authoring with her would be an absolute dream (and also probably give me a panic attack.)
What is your all-time favourite book or series?
H – The Abhorsen series by Garth Nix definitely holds a special place in my heart. Garth Nix’s The Old Kingdom is so unique and vivid, and his magic system is incredibly intriguing. Discovering his books in middle school really opened my eyes to the darker depths that you could delve into in YA Fantasy.
If you could be any character from the book world, who would you choose?
H – Hermione from Harry Potter. Seriously, who wouldn’t want to get a Hogwarts letter from an owl?! And she’s brilliant AND brave, so that’s hard to pass up. Even though… I’m not sure I would’ve ended up with Ron. Just saying.
Can we expect a sequel or a new novel soon?
H – 2021. My goal as a writer is to publish 1 novel a year. Although Odriel’s Heirs works as a standalone, it is also part of a planned trilogy. I actually started drafting the sequel, Idriel’s Children, as soon as I finished the first book, but then I was advised to wait and see how OH was received. To be honest, I told my husband if even one complete stranger likes it, I’m going to finish the sequel. (Check! 😊) But now, of course, it’s not an only child anymore and has two other WIP’s to compete with! Still, all the positive feedback on OH really has me super excited to get back to the world of Okarria. I’ve grown *so* much as a writer since OH, and I’m definitely looking forward to IC’s planned release in 2021.
A few words for our readers.
H – First of all, thank you so much for reading! If you’d like to reach out, you can find me @hayleyreesechow on Twitter or Instagram. I’m always up for a chat about books! And lastly, I’d just like to say: never underestimate the power of your words. A review or comment can be so crucially encouraging or constructive for any type of writer, and we want to hear from you, so don’t hesitate to give a shout!
Your favourite quotes.
H – Finally! An easy question! My second most favourite quote is a Banksy line that another writer shared with me on twitter:
“Learn to rest, not quit.”
I feel like this totally revolutionized my writing mindset. I love writing, but it does have to come after my family, my health, and my job that supports us. So, some days, I just don’t have the energy to finish the next chapter. I use this as a mantra to pause and take a deep breath. Taking a break isn’t quitting, and the story will still be there waiting for me tomorrow.
And my absolute favourite quote of all time is from Albert Camus (translated):
“In the depths of winter, I found there was, in me, an invincible summer.”
Isn’t it just amazing? I love reading stories about the resiliency of the human spirit, and I feel like Camus’ words just capture it perfectly. I very much believe that we are all capable of so much more than we know. And if you’re ever pushed to that limit, you’ll find a strength you never knew you had. To me, even the thought of that just seems like… magic.
“A prince may be the subject of myth and legend,” he explains, “but he can’t live in them. He should live in the real world, where he can create them.” He looks solemn. “You should pay less mind to fairy tales, Elian, or that’s all you’ll become.”
When he leaves, I think about whether that would be awful, or beautiful. Could it really be such a bad thing, to become a story whispered to children in the dead of night? A song they sing to one another while they play.
The literary fiction world is being dominated by YA authors popping in on the scene left right and center. Amidst this overcrowded genre, the sub-genre of retold fairy tales has carved a niche for itself and authors like Sarah J. Maas and Renee Ahdieh have ensured that mark won’t fade away with the passing of time.
While eloquent authors have deftly embedded plots of Cinderella, Beauty & the Beast and more in their works, the story of Ariel was overlooked by many.
Alexandra Christo‘s debut novel To Kill A Kingdom will steal your heart with the emotions it brings forth. She beautifully creates a world where sirens, mermen and mermaids exist along with humans. Midas is the mightiest of the hundred kingdoms on land and the sea is ruled by one Sea Queen.
Sirens that steal human hearts with nothing but cruelty in their own and a prince that has vowed to end the deadliest siren of all. A mother that prides her crown over her daughter and a father who’s considerable riches aren’t enough to keep his son home. A princess with no land to call home and desire to be queen in the middle of it all. All tied together with the thirst to know more of the legend that promises an end to The Prince’s Bane and bring peace between the land sea.
It’s so easy to get swept by the brilliance of Christo’s writing that I overlooked the lack of development in the novel. It definitely feels too short. Too many characters that haven’t been given the attention they deserve. The novel focuses on singular aspects of the siren princess Lira and pirate Prince Elian of Midas throughout the book. Elian’s advisors aren’t given enough space to develop and as he travels through the seas, the very few characters introduced are portrayed with importance yet not given the same gravity in their time in the novel. Elian’s ace – Princess Yukiko in my opinion is another novel just waiting to happen (Alexandra Christo if you ever read this – HINT).
While the story feels rushed, Christo’s writing style and the plot itself makes the book an interesting and fun read. How did the battle between the land and sea end? We recommend reading the book to find out!