Review

The Anatomy of Desire: A Novel by L.R. Dorn – My Review

Title: The Anatomy of Desire: A Novel

Author: L.R. Dorn

Release Date: May 11th 2021

Genre: Thrillers, LGBTQ+

A Publishers Weekly Best Mystery/Thriller of 2021

For fans of riveting true crime docuseries a la Serial and Making a Murderer, The Anatomy of Desire is a modern tale of crime and punishment exploring unbridled ambition, blinding passion, and the dark side of desire

Ambition. Passion. Betrayal. Murder?

Claire Griffith has it all, a thriving career, a gorgeous boyfriend, glamorous friends. She always knew she was destined for more than the life her conservative parents preached to her. Arriving in Los Angeles flat broke, she has risen to become a popular fitness coach and social media influencer. Having rebranded herself as Cleo Ray, she stands at the threshold of realizing her biggest dreams.

One summer day, Cleo and a woman named Beck Alden set off in a canoe on a serene mountain lake. An hour later, Beck is found dead in the water and Cleo is missing. Authorities suspect foul play, and news of Cleo’s involvement goes viral. Who was Beck? An infatuated follower? Were she and Cleo friends or lovers? Was Beck’s death an accident . . . or murder?

Told in the form of an immersive investigative docuseries, L. R. Dorn’s brilliant reimagining of Theodore Dreiser’s classic crime drama, An American Tragedy, captures the urgency and poignance of the original and rekindles it as a very contemporary and utterly mesmerizing page-turner that will keep you guessing… Did she or didn’t she?

This story seemed to check most of my boxes. Murder, check. Dark side, check. Let’s get started. Right away I noticed how the book would be told. Documentary style, which took some getting used to. Two people go out in a canoe and only one comes back, alive. The story was interesting even though it had a lot of lull scenes. Despite that, it kept me reading more. Cleo Ray wasn’t a likable character to me. In fact, I thought she was horrible. We keep bouncing between did she really do it to who could have done it? As the story progressed, I found myself getting bored. I reached a point where I didn’t care who had done. The ending fell flat. There wasn’t any surprise or wow factor and I was disappointed.

The story is an okay read. I expected more and it’s most likely my fault for being disappointed. I recommend checking out this book for yourself. It may be the read for you! I give this two stars.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion*

Author Spotlight · Interview with an Author · New Release

Interview with an Author Featuring Erin Fulmer

The Literary Vixen presents…

Joining us today is Erin Fulmer! Her newest release, Cambion’s Law released on November 9th 2021.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing ever since I can remember! My mom is a novelist too so I started emulating her early, and she would write down stories I dictated. I even used to beta read for her! As an adult, I spent a lot of time in fandom spaces and honed my writing skills there. I started to get serious about writing my original work in my thirties. CAMBION’S LAW was the first full-length novel I finished and revised for publication. I started it during NaNoWriMo 2015 so it took six years to get it from first draft to publication.

Describe a typical writing day.

I still have a day job so I do most of my writing after dinner, from about 7pm to 10pm. I start by reading over what I worked on during my last session and doing some light editing. Then I open Twitter…Kidding! (Well, half-kidding.) A typical writing day yields 500-2000 words. I’m not a particularly fast writer. I’m a perfectionist and want to get it right, so I have to battle back my inner editor to get the words out. At 10pm I stop and then my spouse and I watch TV together to unwind.

Where do you get your inspiration for your books?

I get inspiration from a lot of places—media I love, my own life experiences, things I want to see more of as a reader, what if questions, and personal obsessions or interests. Every book I’ve written so far blends all of those aspects together, and then as I work on it, it becomes something of its own. I like to play with tropes but I also like to introduce aspects I don’t get to see a lot. For instance, CAMBION’S LAW uses a lot of urban fantasy and romance tropes, but it really focuses on consent and explicit negotiation in its romance plot because that was something I wanted to see more often. I also flipped the usual paranormal romance trope of having the human heroine falling for a powerful supernatural creature. In CAMBION’S LAW the protagonist is the powerful supernatural creature in the relationship. That was also inspired by something that always bothered me about some classic media in the genre—I’m thinking BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, for instance, where the powerful heroine doesn’t get to have a healthy relationship because her power intimidates human men. I don’t love the implications of that so I created a romance where the love interest appreciates the heroine’s power and isn’t intimidated by it.

Do you have a favorite character that you have written? If so, who? And what makes them so special.

My favorite character in CAMBION’S LAW is actually Lily’s best friend, Daniela (Danny) Rios. Lily can take herself too seriously and drown herself in self-loathing, but Danny keeps her grounded with tough love and provides a lot of humor. I love writing them together because of the way they play off each other—I never get blocked when it’s a Danny scene! Danny’s character owes a lot to the close friends and queer support systems in my own life, the people who accept me for exactly who I am. That’s the kind of relationship that is incredibly healing when you weren’t taught how to love yourself properly.

When you’re writing an emotionally draining (or sexy, or sad, etc) scene, how do you get in the mood?

Sometimes I close my eyes and try to envision the scene as if it were playing out on film. I try to hone in on the sensory details and feel the emotions in my body because those help me drop into the experience of it. I listen to music and make playlists for every book, too, and that helps, but I can’t listen to music while I’m actually writing. So I’ll listen when I’m out and about in the car or doing other things to get myself in the right emotional headspace for a later writing session. A lot of times that will spark inspiration.

If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?

Curious, perfectionist, introverted.

How do you deal with emotional impact of a book (on yourself) as you are writing the story?

I do tend to write books that touch on trauma and recovery so at times I have to take breaks from writing pivotal scenes if something is emotionally tough—sometimes that bleeds over into avoidance, at which point I just have to throw myself into it. I have an excellent therapist and she’s taught me a lot of grounding techniques that really help. My spouse is an amazing support and often notices that something is “off” before I do, so I usually talk it over with him and share what part of my work has me feeling that way. I also do a lot of journaling—writing is usually the way I process things, one way or another.

Are you working on anything at the present you would like to share with me?

I just finished the manuscript for Cambion Book 2 and sent it out to beta readers and my editor, so I probably should be taking a break. Instead, I started drafting a contemporary fantasy that’s about toxic family legacies, small towns, and coming home to a place you never belonged in the first place. Also it’s gay, fae, and involves the Wood Wide Web, parallel worlds, and climate change. Basically, what I said above about writing my obsessions and mixing elements applies here, too.

What advice would you give to other authors?

You’ll never please every reader and publishing trends change all the time, so write what keeps the fires lit in your own heart. Practice the skill of receiving feedback and critique—authors are sensitive creatures, but as solitary as writing can seem, it takes many people and many eyes to get a book publication-ready. Find community with other writers, because they will support and sustain you when you’re losing faith in your abilities. Learn to promote yourself and your work—it can feel unnatural and awkward at first but it makes a huge difference and is a necessity in today’s industry. You will always be your work’s best champion and advocate and marketing is just another skill to nurture.

What is the one thing you want people to know about you and your books?

I love genre fiction as a reader and that’s what I write. I don’t shy away from tough topics but ultimately I write from a place of hope, so you won’t get grimdark from me even when I tread in darker waters. My books will always feature bi/queer rep and I do not bury my gays. My foremost goal is to tell a good story and keep you turning pages—hopefully leaving you with a smile on your face.

 

 

Thank you Erin Fulmer for chatting with me! I will include her information down below. Check out her newest release, Cambion’s Law today!

~Synopsis~

Lawyer. Demon. Lily Knight is both—half-human, half-succubus, and utterly dangerous.

Lily protects her secret and the safety of those around her by abstaining from the skin-to-skin contact that would grant her superhuman powers. An ambitious criminal prosecutor, she’s all work and no play, determined to prove herself in the courtroom to atone for the ex-lovers she’s left for dead in her past.

But after a fellow succubus turns up murdered and the police arrest an innocent man, Lily discovers evidence of a supernatural killer stalking the foggy San Francisco streets. And when human justice falls short, she launches an unsanctioned investigation to find the real culprit.

To stop the killer, she must embrace the full power of her heritage and risk the soul of the handsome suspect she can’t help but fall for. Can Lily face her true nature without losing her humanity—or will she become the monster she fears most of all?

If you love Richelle Mead, Lisa Edmonds, or Seanan McGuire, discover a paranormal mystery series complete with a fierce heroine that will have you begging for the next book!

Erin Fulmer is a public benefits attorney by day, author of urban fantasy and science fiction by night. She lives in sunny Northern California with her husband and two spoiled cat daughters. Through her life’s many unexpected twists and turns, words have always been her element and her escape. When she’s not writing or working, she enjoys hatha yoga, taking pictures of the sky, playing board games with friends, and napping like it’s an Olympic sport.

Author Spotlight · Interview with an Author

Interview with an Author Featuring Yolanda Olson

The Literary Vixen presents…

Joining us today is Yolanda Olson! Her book, Malediction Codex releases on July 7th 2020.

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

Probably when I was younger. (About 8ish) I had a habit of writing two paragraph horror stories and reading them to the kids in the neighborhood.

What about the horror genre interests you?

The freedom to write what I want. Horror has so many subgenres and you can get away with almost anything! Honestly, I just like being different. I’m not a big fan of standard romance or HEAs/HFNs, so I go the violent route and have fun with it.

What was the first horror/story you remember reading?

R.L. Stine was one of my favorite authors as a child. So his Fear Street & Goosebumps books were something I always enjoyed to read.

Do you ever come up with anything so wild that you scare yourself, that leaves you wondering where that came from?

BONES gave me insomnia. I could not get a decent night’s sleep until that book was over and done with.

Do you have a favorite character that you have written? If so who? And what makes them so special.

Lakyn Meyer probably. He’s a sociopathic asshole that loves himself and nothing else. But he’s funny as hell too. And he loves Blondie lol

Do you ever research real events, legends, or myths to get ideas?

Nope. I go with whatever sits in my brain at the time. I’m sure every piece of fiction is influenced in one way or another by true events or a historical one, but I like to just go with the flow.

Do you look to your own phobias to find subject matter? Are your stories the products of nightmares, childhood experiences, fantasies?

No, I can’t say I’ve written one based on my phobias, fears, or a nightmare yet. I don’t think I’d have as much fun with that as I do when I just wing it lol.

What is one stereotype about horror authors is absolutely wrong? What one stereotype is dead on?

That only men can be horror authors. (It grinds my gears, but whatever.) On point? I don’t know. I try not to pay attention to stereotypes.

Do you have any fun Halloween experiences you can share with us?

None that I can remember. I love the holiday, but I don’t go all out for it.

What advice would you give to other authors?

Just write it. Seriously, for every one person that hates what you wrote, I promise you that there will be five more that love it.

What is the one thing you want people to know about you and your books?

I am not what I write. My imagination is wild and it’s fun to play there but don’t approach me at an event scared. I’m actually really quiet, shy and awkward in person.

Thank you Yolanda Olson for chatting with me! I will include her information down below. Check out her newest release, Malediction Codex today!

~Synopsis~

The Priestess

Devil boys think they’re so smart.

Of course, when it comes to Lakyn Meyer, they think they’re so damn beautiful too.

I guess he has a point, but this was never about him. It was about me and he waltzed in and stole the show as he’s accustomed to.

Maybe one day I’ll get rid of him once and for all.

Even if it’s not anytime soon.

The Devil

Holy babble balls, man.

Beatrix St. Germain thinks she’s some kind of superhero to her emo dark lord down below but all I hear is her flapping her gums like she’s the greatest thing on Earth.

We all know that’s a lie—especially since I’m here.

Trixie has tried to get rid of me but when I make a pact with someone, I stick to it.

Soul mates without benefits suits me just fine.

For now.

The Burden

One day I’ll be able to stand on my own two feet.

I hate when Bea and Lakyn are together, but I hate it even more when the three of us are apart.

He promises me spare time with Bea and in return, I do whatever he tells me to.

I’m Ichabod Foster.

Maybe you’ve forgotten about me at this point too, and that’s okay.

Just try not to forget about me entirely because I’ll never forget about you.

This set includes the entire Malediction Saga: Scavengers, Vultures, and Carrion. Also included is Detritus which was only available for a very limited time and Sunder which has never been released.

Yolanda Olson is a USA Today Bestselling and award-winning author. Born and raised in Bridgeport, CT where she currently resides, she usually spends her time watching her favorite channel, Investigation Discovery. Occasionally, she takes a break to write books and test the limits of her mind. Also an avid horror movie fan, she likes to incorporate dark elements into the majority of her books.

You can keep in touch with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Yolanda-Olson/e/B009OEABAC

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/yolandasendlesswords

Reader Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/cyanidedaydreams

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/symphonyyolanda

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/gSvPo9

Review

Please See Us by Caitlin Mullen – My Review


Release Date: March 3rd 2020

Genre: Serial Killer Thrillers

~Synopsis~

In this sophisticated, suspenseful debut reminiscent of Laura Lippman and Chloe Benjamin, two young women become unlikely friends during one fateful summer in Atlantic City as mysterious disappearances hit dangerously close to home.

Summer has come to Atlantic City but the boardwalk is empty of tourists, the casino lights have dimmed, and two Jane Does are laid out in the marshland behind the Sunset Motel, just west of town. Only one person even knows they’re there.

Meanwhile, Clara, a young boardwalk psychic, struggles to attract clients for the tarot readings that pay her rent. When she begins to experience very real and disturbing visions, she suspects they could be related to the recent cases of women gone missing in town. When Clara meets Lily, an ex-Soho art gallery girl who is working at a desolate casino spa and reeling from a personal tragedy, she thinks Lily may be able to help her. But Lily has her own demons to face. If they can put the pieces together in time, they may save another lost girl—so long as their efforts don’t attract perilous attention first. Can they break the ill-fated cycle, or will they join the other victims?

Evocative, eerie, and compelling, Please See Us is a fast-paced psychological thriller that explores the intersection of womanhood, power, and violence.

~Add To TBR~

~My Review~

Please See Us is a dark suspense type read. Totally right up my alley. The story is slow moving at first. There are multiple view points. As a whole, this story was good. You get the good, the bad, and the ugly. It had the dark vibe going but I didn’t feel like I got closure with the ending. It wasn’t so much about the killer and more about the victims. The characters were okay. I felt for Clara but had trouble liking Lily. I did enjoy the author’s writing style and will look for more books by her. I give this 3 stars.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion*

~Buy Now~

Review

The Other Wife by Claire McGowan – My Review


Release Date: October 24th 2019

Genre: Thrillers

~Synopsis~

She’s a total stranger. But she knows who you are…

Suzi did a bad thing. She’s paying for it now, pregnant, scared, and living in an isolated cottage with her jealous husband, Nick.

When Nora moves into the only house nearby, Suzi is delighted to have a friend. So much so that she’s almost tempted to tell Nora her terrible secret. But there’s more to Nora than meets the eye. It’s impossible—does she already know what Suzi did?

Meanwhile, Elle spends her days in her perfect home, fixated on keeping up appearances. But when her husband betrays her, it unravels a secret going all the way back to her childhood. She’ll do whatever it takes to hold on to him, even if that means murder. After all, she’s done it before…

Caught up in their own secrets and lies, these strangers will soon realise they have more in common than they could ever have imagined. When a shocking event brings them together, their lives will never be the same again.

~Add To TBR~

~My Review~

 

When I read the synopsis of this book, I was like yesss! It sounded really good. I wanted to like it. I really did, however the story fell flat. The story is about betrayal and revenge which is normally right up my alley. I was a little disappointed because it could have been so much more! I felt for none of the characters. Which isn’t a bad thing but it didn’t help the story. It’s not a bad read. Others may enjoy it but sadly it wasn’t for me. I give this 2 stars. 

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion*

~Buy Now~

Review

Good Me Bad Me: A Novel by Ali Land – My Review

Release Date: September 5th 2017

Genre: Serial Killer Thrillers

~Synopsis~

Milly’s mother is a serial killer. Though Milly loves her mother, the only way to make her stop is to turn her in to the police. Milly is given a fresh start: a new identity, a home with an affluent foster family, and a spot at an exclusive private school.

But Milly has secrets, and life at her new home becomes complicated. As her mother’s trial looms, with Milly as the star witness, Milly starts to wonder how much of her is nature, how much of her is nurture, and whether she is doomed to turn out like her mother after all.

When tensions rise and Milly feels trapped by her shiny new life, she has to decide: Will she be good? Or is she bad? She is, after all, her mother’s daughter.

~Add To TBR~

~My Review~

I stumbled upon this book while looking for my next read. After reading the blurb, I knew I had to read this book. This is a thrilling and suspenseful read. It has a dark vibe to it. Right up my alley! I devoured this book in one sitting! The pacing was good and these characters were very well written. I do wish the author had elaborated more on certain parts. The story had some twists and I appreciated that I did not see that ending coming. A great debut by the author. I can’t wait to see what’s next from her! I give this 5 stars. 

~Buy Now~