Required Reading

Life is complicated enough without getting into hotwater with federal agencies so: TAKE NOTE Many things I review I received at no charge in exchange for an honest review. Consider this as informing you that ALL things I review may have been gotten at no charge. Realistically about 40% but in order to keep things above board just assume that I got the stuff free. I do not collect information on my readers. If cookies or other tracking stuff is used on my blogs it is due to BLOGGER not ME. Apparently the European Union's new rules state I need to inform you if cookies are being use. If they are it isn't byu me, consider yourself INFORMED.
Words like, “sponsored,” “promotion,” “paid ad” or even just “ad” are clear ways to disclose that you’re being paid to share information and links so BE AWARE that some of what I write can be described as an AD by the government. BTW I will NEVER say a product is great, super or even acceptable if it isn't, whether I got it free or NOT!

Thursday, June 23, 2022

East S. M. Author of Mercy's Quest

More about East S. M. 

East S.M.: East S. M. is an Appalachian Occultist, Diviner, educator, artist, performer, and now author. A cosmic being in her own right, she was born in a small Kentucky town that sits inside a meteorite crater. She spent her childhood studying under a strong matriarchal family that imparted its intuitive gifts and Appalachian Spirit practices from prior generations. East is continuously inspired by music and the power of myth. She enjoys reading paranormal, adventure, and occult fantasy fiction works. One of her highest callings and greatest gifts in life is to share her divinity and intuition through teaching and facilitating sacred ritual spaces. A wild past of wonderful and sometimes unspeakable experiences, and decades of empowering others to seek their own quests, has called East to share Mercy’s story in the esoteric genre of Occult fiction. Her debut novel is the first in an anthology that reimagines the Spirit world, the human condition, and the necessity of both evolution and devolution within our lifetimes.

An Interview with East S. M.

Why did you decide to have the book released on the Summer Solstice?

My artistry, relationships, essentially every aspect of my life, is led by my desire to connect with any experience in the most sacred way. Nature’s cycles, as they’re displayed through seasons, beautifully mirror our own cycles as human beings. Summer solstice finds the seeds in the ground, they’re growing, and it took hard work to get it there. As an occultist I could say many things regarding the sacred symbolism of summer but valuing the action of showing up and celebrating hard work seemed like appropriate energy for launching my story into the world. I needed to know this journey would begin from a space of celebration no matter where it goes.

How has writing poetry influenced your writing of occult fantasy?

Poetry forced me to see the ordinary in an extraordinary way. I’ve always been drawn to darker artistic content, and the influence of both pushed me to accept more nontraditional ways of expressing myself. My own growth of creative self-acceptance seemed more rapid in spaces where I shared poetry vs writing groups. If it wasn’t for reading forlorn poetry in late 90’s coffee houses I would’ve never started believing in the possibility of pursuing artistry full time.

How do you feel divination is represented in works of ction, and how has divination influenced your creative process?

Not always, but often divination in media is presented as dramatic fortune telling and often the cards or symbols referenced are either untrue or so watered down it takes the sacredness away from such a beautiful resource. I would love to see a variety of how it’s presented on both the giving and receiving end of readings in art. In my own writing my character’s readings make sense to their journey. I try to steer away from exact predictors as fate always has its freedom to shift depending on the choices we make.

I utilize Divination as a tool for writer’s block or initial inspiration. Tarot, also known as the fool’s journey, mirrors every experience a human will go through on the path of life. It displays the soul’s reaction to becoming the best versions of ourselves through triumphs and challenges. I often execute readings to establish background for characters or world building. I’ll be offering a creative writing with tarot workshop over the next year where I’ll share in detail some of those techniques.

What do you hope readers will take away from Mercy’s Quest?

Mercy is on a quest to uncover a family mystery but finds herself quickly on the path to discovering a deeper truth regarding her purpose in this world. Variables in our lives are always in motion affecting outcomes every second. Our reaction to the challenges we face on that search are character defining opportunities that equip us to grow into better versions of ourselves. My desire is for people to understand there’s no need to rush their evolutionary process in this world. There’s no perfect plan that will see you through to the end. Mercy makes the decision time and time again to show up and trust the process. My desire is to inspire folks to trust that the grace in which we handle the road is far more powerful than reaching the end of that road.

How did traveling the world for work while writing this story influence your writing?

It was a beautiful May morning in England, and I had just purchased a private pass to tour inside the Stonehenge round. Tourists typically only view it roadside, but I had an in and was going to honor my inner Arthurian nerd, living fully in this moment. As luck would have it the bus that brought us to the stones broke down in the parking lot. I spent hours, sunset through midnight, lounging in this mystical ritual space. I always seem to find myself in similar magical misadventures everywhere I go. My travel journals are full of adventures from underneath the streets of Budapest, to the shores of Ireland, to a middle of nowhere berry forest in Finland, and then there was one time I swore I met the devil himself in an airport in Amsterdam! My writing reflects my experiences in this world, and I pull the energy from real travel moments in hopes of providing more environmental authenticity.

You mentioned this story came to you in a dream. That sounds so fun! Can you tell us about that, and describe its vividness?

This is a long story, but I will do my best to be concise. A god of old came to me in a dream and in this dream, we were burning down houses. I asked him why we were doing this to which he replied preparing a new path. He kept showing up in dreams in spaces where he wasn’t a major player in the theme of the dream, just a background eye of observation. The dream often centered around a tree on my actual property.

Around this same time, I made a social media post regarding the importance of respecting the workspace of street buskers. My dad reached out to me after reading it encouraging me to lean into writing more. I am a performance artist but never considered the possibility of writing an actual novel. The combination of his belief in me brought all the interesting dreams to the front of my mind and just like magic I saw the entire story in my head along with the voice of my muse.

My great grandmother had a box on her mantle that contained something we were told was dark and sacred. Do not touch! I took the story I’d been holding in my heart since childhood regarding what I imagined it was, and that became the foundation of this grand world that was gifted to me by my dream muse.

Wouldn’t you know it, I started writing that story and guess what happened? The tree that kept showing up with my muse in dreams was struck by lightning. The strike caused a branch to snap, destroying my mailbox by the street. Where’s the magic? I ordered a new tarot deck only to nd it landed at the foot of the tree among the storm’s chaos. The package was destroyed by water and the box holding the cards was warped and open. Guess what lay outside the box? Three tarot cards in a perfect row: Judgment, The World, and The Magician. I am on my path of destiny and the Universe is making a way for me to have the resources needed to support my manifestations. The storm gave me a reading laced with the assurance of knowing I was on the right path.

What authors inspire you?

Anne Rice for a number of reasons. The Vampire Chronicles was the rst series I obsessed over as a young reader. I’ve been fascinated by vampire lore since childhood and her attention to detail painted elaborate worlds, and dramatic characters that played out like seamless cinema in my mind’s eye as I read along. “Interview with a Vampire” was the first book to film fiction I read before a film was considered. Amusingly, I was a pre-teen at the time and felt so grown having accomplished such a task!

Neil Gaiman has this way with character presentation that pulls me deep into the heart of his story. I am a huge fan of Fantasy worlds overlapping with real world scenarios. Intermingling worlds have a presence in my own writing. Mr. Gaiman is a literary rockstar that does this masterfully.

What do you think about books to film/do you think your book would adapt easily to film?

My artistic background goes further than writing. I think because of that versatility I’m forgiving of how film chooses to convey a story. I believe reading a book is a magic that can’t be duplicated and presenting it through different expressions like film give it the flexibility to become something unique. However, it’s unlikely I’ll read the book if I happened to catch the film first.

I’d love to see the Mercy’s Quest trilogy, as well as the spin o novels transition to film. The story is action based in mystical settings around the world creating an opportunity for something incredibly visually appealing. The characters have such deep back stories there’s an opportunity for multiple lead story developments within the world. It would be an absolute dream if that were to happen.

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases if you click on a purchasing link below.#CommissionsEarned

Monday, June 20, 2022

Spotlight on Mercy's Quest by East S. M.




Author draws inspiration from the mystical with modern witchcraft in debut story

KNOXVILLE, TN – Straight out of the Appalachian mountains, Mercy’s Quest (June 21, 2022, Auguries and Alchemy) by East. S.M. is inspired by an author’s own encounters with the mystical. As a generational divination artist, East drew inspiration from her small coal mining town to create this rich novel. A perfect blend of fantasy and adventure, Mercy’s Quest will entertain readers who love a supernatural twist.

“Humans. We are all conditioned to think we come to earth to learn to be better, only to return to some origins rooted to a belief system that never stopped evolving. You cannot chase the meaning of a story that never ends.”

Mercy Stone comes from a long line of Blood Moon witches and, as such, is no stranger to coexisting alongside life’s great mysteries. Haunted by visions of a past life and the discovery of a gruesome family talisman, Mercy is led away from the hollows of Appalachia to New Orleans

in search of answers. Along her path, Mercy re-encounters the magical beings she has known across her many lifetimes since time immemorial, including King Solomon, the Battle Crows of Carpathia and the Devil himself.

“Mercy’s Quest”

East S. M. | June 21, 2022

Auguries and Alchemy | Fantasy / Occult

Hardcover | 979-8-9852589-0-5 | $17.99

Paperback | 979-8-9852589-1-2 | $13.99

E-Book | 979-8-9852589-2-9 | $3.99

Early Praise for Mercy’s Quest

“Being of Appalachian lineage myself, I could not wait to step into the pages of Mercy’s Quest. Author and story weaver, East S.M., leads us on a shapeshifting journey between Mercy’s past and present lifetimes, Mercy’s Quest is a deeply magical story about a young woman coming into her personal power. Being raised by magical women in Appalachia, Mercy discovers that the magic she holds within is much stronger and more mysterious than she ever could have imagined. Following the path that now calls to her, Mercy is lead on a journey into the unknown as she discovers who she truly is and who she must now become in this present lifetime. This is a great read for all witches and magic makers who may be stepping into their own personal power”. — Ailynn Halvorson, author of The Tarot Apothecary: Shifting Personal Energies Using Tarot, Aromatherapy and Simple Everyday


““Mercy’s Quest is a fun, adventure story about family, power, and place. Based on realistic magical systems, this book paints witchcraft as a tool to help personal growth. The rst entry into this magical world ends on a quest leaving the reader for more.”                                                                                    ----Jaymi Elford, author of Tarot Inspired Life and the award-winning Heaven and Earth Tarot

“This rich portrayal and exploration of people and places Magickal souls yearn for will tug at each and every human sense you possess. Strange and evocative at times, yet still fully concreted in sacred order, the artful layers of this book are thick with meaning and wisdom. The author’s enchanting and exotic players, archetypes of energies that speak to the core of your being, somehow still feel relatable and vividly intimate, rekindling cosmic memories preserved deep within. The threads of their connections, these chimeras of time and space, are artfully woven in and out of realities, ancient histories and otherworldly dimensions. With deep powers of immersion, East’s conjurations will pull you through portals of familiarity, long lost remembrances of the soul and expansive universal understanding.” — Meleah McCammon, Intuitive, Teacher and Proprietor of

(inner) Perfect

“As the story unfolds, Mercy’s past, present, and future intertwine beautifully and pulled me into the depths of her soul. With each chapter, new layers of this fascinating world unfurl. Pages lled with adventure, supernatural intrigue, and divination ensure this story is a delight for every type of reader imaginable. I am so excited this is the rst book in a series because I can’t wait to be reunited with these memorable characters. East S.M’s debut novel has proved to be an engrossing, mystic journey that I can’t wait to continue!” — A.P. Watson, Author of Jaded, Seeds of Eden, and A Fallen Son

More on the author June 23, 2022

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases if you click on a purchasing link below.#CommissionsEarned

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Daughter of Redwinter by Ed McDonald


sure hope this is going to continue. This was a book of soul searching and redemption by Raine, a young woman lost in her soul.

There is magic here, much of it thru mental manipulation of matter.   Some strictly traditional with artifacts and demon like beings.   Raine discovers that love is not being a possession but an equal.   McDonald does a good job portraying a young woman in dire circumstances.   Raine’s ability to see and speak to the dead, places her in peril everywhere she goes.

The heroes are not clear cut.  McDonald shows the vagrancies of human nature and emotion.  There is enough action to keep your interest and it is inspiring to see the growth of Raine.

I recommend the book. 

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases if you click on a purchasing link below.#CommissionsEarned

Friday, June 10, 2022

The Revenant Express by George Mann

Once again I laud Mann for his steampunk descriptions and how his illustrator puts those into his cover work.   The train to Russia was both the setting of 50% of the book and wonderous prose on its fittings.   Sir Maurice and Amelia travel to St.Petersburg to procure a heart for Veronica.   Sir Charles and Veronica in a parallel plot strive to find the cause of a weedy outbreak.

The story seemed a bit fractured with the dual plots that did eventually bind themselves together.   The power of prose is demonstrated with artistry on the steampunk hardware and the gruesomeness of the infected.

I enjoyed the book and recommend it. 

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases if you click on a purchasing link below.#CommissionsEarned

Sunday, June 5, 2022

Jestin Kase and the Masters of Dragon Metal by Jason White

A lonely orphan discovers acceptance in a group of magic users battling supernatural creatures and warring mages.  

White makes abundant use of vernacular which is probably suitable due to the Young Adult nature of the book.  Jestin’s insecurities date from his abandonment and his many unsavory foster homes.   After losing his only friend to a demon he sets out on a quest to destroy thralls, the minions of his foes.   In the process he learns internal discipline and discovers heretofore unknown strengths.

I enjoyed the book. 

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases if you click on a purchasing link below.#CommissionsEarned

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Spotlight on Rise of the Catalyst by HONOR RACONTEUR

Journey across the U.S. in fast-paced and witty steampunk fantasy

Nashville, TN – Brace for a very wild adventure across the U.S. in Honor Raconteur’s Rise of the Catalyst (Raconteur House LLC, May 31, 2022). Follow Arwen Arnoult, a no-nonsense visually-impaired magical retrieval expert who uses her magical senses to uncover the truth behind magical artifacts. When she’s approached by the director of the Boston Museum with a mysterious mask, she and her companion, Flo McGrath, are baffled by its energy and origins. But they’re not ready to give up sending them off on a journey towards the U.S. Southwest to return it to where it belongs…maybe.

One ancient mask with earth-bending powers searching for a bearer. One magical retrieval expert who is determined to seal it back in its tomb.

At the moment, both are failing at their goals, but Arwen is not about to be bested. So what if she doesn’t know what culture it’s from or where to put it back. She’s smarter than a semi-sentient mask. Hopefully. But if the thrice-cursed mask breaks out of her seal one more time, she’s melting it with prejudice, magical backlash be damned.

HONOR RACONTEUR: Ever since Honor Raconteur was a toddler, she has been making up stories. She would entertain anyone willing to listen to her wild fantasies about unicorns and gargoyles and amazing people. At 13, she started writing the stories down. At 23, she finished the first book that was good enough to publish.

She put Jaunten out as an ebook, created a website and forum so that fans could communicate with her, and spread the word as best she could. Within three months, Jaunten was selling internationally. Within five months, Honor was making enough to quit the day job and sit at home, writing full time.

Honor has continued to write and publish the rest of her books through Raconteur House. When she’s not writing or editing, Honor likes to go out into the community and give presentations of how to be an author. Even if Honor abruptly stopped selling books tomorrow, she would still continue to write. Creating characters and worlds is that much fun. You can find Honor on her website:

An Interview with Honor Raconteur:

This isn’t your first fantasy novel, but it’s the first one including a lot of historical research to back up your story. What was that process like?

Every story takes a lot of research, really. This one was more arduous than most. I teamed up with a historian and spent six months learning about the Anasazi, what 1907 America was like, etc.

What was your approach with writing a visually impaired character?

I asked a lot of questions of people who are visually impaired. I took what they told me, refined it down to parameters for my character, and hopefully have created someone that is both unique but relatable.

How does creating Rise of the Catalyst differ from the other novels you’ve written?

It’s far more alternate history based than anything else I’ve written. Most of my career, I wrote high fantasy. Steampunk is something I’m relatively new to but I’m enjoying this blend of science and magic very much.

What were some of the challenges of recreating actual historical events?

Not being able to just write my own rules, honestly. That was the real challenge. I had a lot of notes, timelines, maps of that area, all over my desk just to help me keep things straight.

There’s also a lot of humor in this story while still being a serious fantasy. How do you balance the two?

Isn’t that how life really is, though? Nothing is always serious, or always funny, it’s a blend of the two throughout the day. I try to keep that vibe in my writing. I’m really just following my character around and writing up the incident report, so of course she’d do funny things too, or so I’d think.

While Arwen and Flo are work partners, they also seem very close. What was it like to write these two characters and their relationship?

I knew going into the story that Arwen would need a full team, and she’d have to have a female companion according to the rules of society of that time. She wouldn’t have been allowed out of the house otherwise. I created Flo for her as not only a helper, but a friend, as she needed one.

What can we expect from Arwen in the future?

All of the magical shenanigans. Not to mention her sassing ancient artifacts that keep trying to escape her seals.


This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases if you click on a purchasing link below.#CommissionsEarned

Sunday, May 29, 2022

The Executioners Heart by George Mann

Mann seems to improve with each book.  The Hobbes and Newbury series keeps improving.   An assassin is hired to wreak havoc on the Queen’s network of spies.  Hobbes and Newbury find themselves searching for the assassin with the assistance of Bainbridge and the new Secret Service.  There are questions as to the loyalty of the Secret Service and possibly Bainbridge as well.

The sidebar of Veronica’s sister adds to the tension between Hobbes and Newbury.   I have to think that the steampunk Victorian setting is the cause of the unrequited love as any other setting the romance would have been consummated at this point in time.

There is plenty of action and very cool cogs and wheels involved.   BTW I read the Wonderful Electric Elephant by Frances Trego Montgomery as a boy.   The elephant in this book reminded me of that book.  A Google search found a 2017 reprint of the 1927 printing.  My copy was the original 1903 printing.   You can see my review at Amazon.

As far as Mann’s book, I recommend it and the series.   I do love his cover illustrator. 

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases if you click on a purchasing link below.#CommissionsEarned