Book Review, Fantasy, Reading

Book Review: Hidden Realm

Hidden Realm (Legends of Lightning, Book One)

T.R. Slauf — October 6, 2020

(Goodreads) (Amazon)

Blurb:

“The next Realm Walker will bring with them a storm. Lightning must fight the Crimson shadow, or the lands will be cast into eternal darkness.”

When she was a child Esther was plagued with vivid nightmares, now they have returned to haunt her. Blood thirsty monsters chase her through a forest of dead trees while a mysterious hooded figure stalks her. After awaking with fresh wounds from her dreams Esther searches for the truth about who she is and the Hidden Realm she is destined to save.

Join Esther on her journey of self-discovery as she travels into a world long forgotten. Unsure if she can trust her hooded guide, she is hunted by unknown enemies and smothered by expectations of grandeur. Deciphering friend from foe as she travels the lands trying to unite kingdoms torn by pride.

My Impression:

Fam, this story was unbelievable. I won a contest and was able to read the book before it’s launch and I am so happy that I got to. The characters are realistic and nuanced. I love Esther and Oisin’s friendship, as many of the other characters grew on me as well.

Something I especially loved was the inclusion of the original Grimm’s tales in worldbuilding. I never would have thought to do something like that, and Slauf does it so well! I’ll be honest in that I’ve never actually read the original tales.. but my interest has been piqued by this and I may soon add them to my never-ending TBR!

Today is launch day.

Seriously, go check out Hidden Realms and T.R. Slauf’s website. This book is for you if you enjoy dark fantasy, twisted fairytale retellings, and gritty, realistic, tales. The book definitely has more than a few adult situations and is not for the faint of heart! Over all, I loved it and cannot wait for the next installment.

freebie, The Wraith, Writing Process

Pre-order Bonus for TWB!

Hey fam! We’re just under 6 weeks from release day so I thought I’d go ahead and share this fun little gift.

Original post over on Instagram.

Free fan art!

How do you get access to this lovely piece of digital art? Simple – just pre-order The Wraith’s Bargain and email or message me a screenshot of the order confirmation! (Email me at Jo @ JoNarayan .com or message me on any of my socials!)

The art is by 2ndChanceCreatures on Etsy and I’m super thrilled with the result! If there are good responses to this art, I’ll be commissioning more pieces for future giveaways, so definitely let me know what you all think!

Other updates

I’ve started getting reviews in on my advance reader copies and will be sharing them on my Instagram – if you’re not following me you ought to!

Thursday I had a feature on Armed with a Book and I also have at least 2 confirmed features for July. I’m working on getting more and they’ll be posted to my Press & Media page!

The paperback of The Wraith’s Bargain is almost ready! I got a proof copy but the formatting was a little wonky so those adjustments have been made and resubmitted. Fingers crossed this next one will be perfect. If so, the paperback will be ready for launch day as well which is super exciting for me!

Tell me, do you prefer paperbacks or ebooks? Comment below!

The Wraith

We’re 2 months out!

Hey, fam.

I know there’s been some radio silence. But… I did it.

I finished editing and formatting for The Wraith’s Bargain. What’s more? I added 60 pages. Sixty freaking pages!

The total pages come to 378, including acknowledgments and whatnot. And as of today, the book releases in 2 months! I’m SO EXCITED for you all to read it!

That being said… here’s a PSA.

This was inspired by a conversation I had with a family member, not long ago. I’ve had a lot of family and friends say that they want to read the book, that they want to support me. Which is amazing and fantastic. But take a look, here.

Does this look like a book about sunshine and roses? …. Nope.

This book is dark. It’s actually classified as dark fantasy/ ya fantasy / ya paranormal. But less emphasis on the YA… because the New Adult category isn’t really big enough to have categories yet. Here are some of the topics covered:

  • Violence and (non-graphic) descriptions of torture
  • Demons. Lots of demons.
  • Magic
  • Curse words
  • Sex between unmarried people
  • Theft
  • Toxic relationships
  • Manipulation
  • Mental health issues
  • Death
  • (mild) Addiction

….And that’s just off the top of my head.

What I’m getting at, is this book series has a particular target audience. People who need dark tales, drama and angst, and who can see the underlying messages about trust, perseverance, and personal growth.

If this book isn’t your jam, please don’t force yourself to read out of a misplaced sense of loyalty. What supports authors is having engaged readers who actually enjoy their books (and who leave reviews)!

Okay, that being said.

I’ll be calling for Advance Reader Copies here soon, and I have a limited number to give away. If you’re already interested, drop a comment or keep an eye out on my social medias! I’ll be posting on Facebook and Instagram, and maybe Twitter if I have enough left over.

I’m super excited and I know y’all will love this book. I finished the final read-through yesterday and was just amazed at this thing that came out of my brain. The hard work has really paid off and I can’t wait to share it with you all!

Fantasy, Order of the Hunt, The Wraith, Writing Process

The reasons behind the book

Everyone says, “I want to write a book.” They have different reasons behind it. Some want fortune, or fame. Some want to feel like their names will go down in history. Others write because they have something inside them–a story, a character, an emotion–and they have to get it out.

I’m in that last category.

As some of you may know, The Wraith’s Bargain has been rewritten many times over the years. My first draft in high school was actually named Queen’s Gambit. The second draft, and many after it, were simply called Order of the Hunt.

In each version of the book, I was working through a problem. I took comfort in familiar characters that I had based on real life friends. I shaped the plot for the characters to encounter different obstacles and to overcome them–from unhealthy relationships to financial struggles, from a struggle against evil to dipping their toes in. There was a whole section of the book that explored religious aspects of the series (which I ultimately dismissed) and the morality associated with recruiting to such a cause.

The current and final version of the book explores morality, the existence of absolute good and absolute evil, corruption, power, and control, and even a little bit of what makes a healthy or unhealthy relationship.

Mind you, not all of these are outright obvious in the first book. But as the series continues you’ll see more and the pieces will fit together.

So.. long story short. Why did I write this book?

I never really planned to publish. I wrote for my own enjoyment, for my own sort of therapy to work through different issues. And when I got to the end, I realized that it was a story I had to share with the world.

And I will be sharing it, June 28th. Hope to see you there.

The Wraith

The Wraith’s Bargain – Cover reveal!

Fam, I am SO EXCITED. I finally get to share my cover and blurb with you all!

A year has passed since the nightmares began, and Dana is running on fumes. Her nightly torture by demons has left her reliant on caffeine and desperate for change.

Change comes, in the most unexpected way. When a demon comes for her in real life, Dana is saved by an Order of local demon hunters. They offer to help her to manifest and learn to control her own brand of magic, which could turn her life around. It will take time, but Dana is prepared to put in the work. That is, until she encounters the demon king himself who promises she won’t have to wait–and is left with her head spinning.

Dana knows nothing good will come from trusting the demons–but she doesn’t know how much longer she can handle the nightmares. It’s not until a charming stranger starts turning up in her dreams and helping her out of sticky situations that she realizes she may have a third option. Unfortunately for Dana, he’s a demon too–but he has just the bargain that could get her out of this mess for good.

Preorder now available on Amazon – release date 6.28.20

What do you all think?? A huge thanks to Mandi Lynn at Stone Ridge Books for helping to bring this gorgeous cover to life!

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Cover Reveal! The Consequence

Hey Fam! How’s everything going? I’ve been a little quiet lately working behind the scenes. Here’s what I’ve accomplished in the last two weeks:

  • Almost finished formatting The Wraith’s Bargain for print
  • Commissioned and received a piece of art as a gift for those who pre-order
  • Sent off the last of the info to the cover artist so that can be completed
  • Began researching local author events for my area
  • Completed the third novella in the Order of the Hunt collection

So without further ado I give you the next free novella!

The Consequence

Some people know when things are too good to be true.

Annie was not one of those people, until now.

After joining an Order of demon hunters, things started going downhill fast. First, Will was attacked. Then Kat was kidnapped. Now things are starting to calm down, but Annie can’t help but to watch for the next pitfall. So when her brother begins spoiling for a fight, Annie takes things into her own hands.

It was a simple spell, with major consequences.

Now Annie has to face what she’s done to her friends and find a way out of the new mess they’re in–and fast. Before her brother pays for her mistake… with his life.


Posting schedule: One chapter posted each Wednesday and Sunday beginning 2/19/20.

Here’s a link to the title page, though the first chapter won’t be posted for a few days. Follow me on Wattpad to get email updates or notifications when chapters are posted!

Friendly reminder: if you enjoy my writing, press the below button to have the first three chapters of The Wraith’s Bargain emailed to you free!

Order of the Hunt

Character Interview: Kat Flores

Hey, Kat. Tell us a little bit about your story.

My story is The Strategist, the second story in the Order of the Hunt collection. In this story I’ve just recently joined the Order and am trying to come to terms with my new reality.. and balance the expectations of my parents against what I want to do.

What do most people think they know about you?

A lot of people think I don’t have a personality, or that I’m depressed. I just keep my emotions in check. My mom is a big fan of logic and science… when she was young, her mom taught her to reject a stereotype at the time of Latina women being very emotional. Being as American as possible was how my grandparents managed to fit in, and they passed that down the line.

I’m not sure if I just have stronger emotions than other people, or the fact that I keep them suppressed so much makes them seem more extreme…

Wow, that must be pretty tough. How do you cope with that?

Two ways. I write poetry-as authentic and messy as possible. It’s not there to be pretty or pleasing to others. It’s not for others, it’s for me. It doesn’t rhyme, it often doesn’t have meter. It’s just me.

The other way, if I can’t write, is my Calming. I breathe deeply and imagine stuffing all of my emotions down into one of those big old thick green glass bottles. I stop it up with a cork and then go on my way.

Sometimes, the glass starts to crack. I can feel the pain in my chest, and I know I have to get somewhere alone before it explodes.

I notice you used a fox for your interview image. Can you tell me about that?

I identify with the fox. It’s my.. my muse, I suppose. Maybe this poem will explain.

I often feel like a fox-
captured and trapped in domesticity.
This house is too small.

You think I am exotic.
You pet me.
I have been trained not to bite.

How do you feel you changed from the events in The Strategist?

My confidence and independence increased for sure. I learned that physical touch is sometimes okay. But also the things I learned about my heart and my relationships with those around me. And how my heart began to open, just a sliver. The seed that was planted has sprouted and the bud is about to burst into bloom. I know it’s a tired metaphor for learning to love, but that’s for a reason. It’s a good one.

I also got a healthy dose of reality about the dangers of being a Demon Hunter… but now that I know my strength, I know I’ll be able to get out of anything.

Thanks, Kat. That’s a wrap! Anything else you want to tell everyone?

…No.

freebie, The Wraith

Freebie Alert!

Hey, fam.

I’ve been thinking, and I don’t know if I can wait until the summer to start sharing parts of The Wraith’s Bargain with you.

So… I’m giving out Chapter 1, for free. Just click the button below and I’ll email it to you!

Please keep in mind that it might change slightly by the time the book comes out.. I am still waiting on it to come back from the editor, after all. But, it introduces you to our protagonist, Dana, and what she’s living with that starts all of this mess.

Comment below or email me and tell me what you think! I’m excited to hear everyone’s reactions!

Order of the Hunt, Reading, The Wraith

Now Available! The Strategist

Hey Fam. The day is finally here!!

The Strategist is now available to read for free on Wattpad (limited time!)

Posting schedule will be one chapter each Sunday and Wednesday, to be completed by the end of the month. I’m so excited for you all to check this out!

Between expectations of family and school, Kat only wanted a chance to make her own life. So when she was inducted into the secret society of demon hunters, she thought she had it made. Until the day a message arrived: the next big enemy was coming. And soon.
The last message preceded a battle that left half of their group in the hospital. Only barely healed, the four of them are far from being battle ready.
Now the demon hunters are working feverishly to master their skills in time to face this unexpected threat. But Kat still can’t channel magic. And one demon in particular has its eye on her.

I’d love to hear any feedback you all have. Follow me on Wattpad to be automatically notified of new chapters!