Book Spotlight: Backstories by Simon Van Der Velde

Dreamers, singers, talkers and killers; they can dazzle with their beauty or  their talent or their unmitigated evil, but inside themselves they are as frail and desperate as the rest of us. But can you see them? Can you unravel the  truth? 
These are people you know, but not as you know them. 
Peel back the mask and see.

Author’s Quest:

“Whatever happened to all of the heroes”, The Stranglers 1977.

I was twelve years old when I first heard this song and although there was something in the feral tone that grabbed me, I didn’t really understand it. I do now. I get the angst, and the loss, and the emptiness, which is why, in Backstories, I aim to answer the question.

So join me on my quest, and together we’ll uncover the fears and passions and prejudices that made our heroes what they were, and perhaps catch a glimpse of ourselves along the way.

Whatever happened to all of the heroes?
They turned out to be human beings, in all their diverse glory.
Simon Van der Velde, January 2021

P.S. I am proud to be sharing 30% of all profits from Backstories with Friends of the Earth. Stop Hate UK, and The North-East Autism Society.
See simonvandervelde.com for further details.

About the author:

Simon Van der Velde has worked variously as a barman, labourer, teacher, caterer, and lawyer, as well as traveling throughout Europe and South America collecting characters and insights for his award-winning stories. Since completing a creative writing M.A. (with distinction) in 2010, Simon’s work has won and been shortlisted for numerous awards including: The Yeovil Literary Prize (twice), the Wasafiri New Writing Prize, the Luke Bitmead Bursary, the Frome Short-story Prize, the Hary Bowling Prize, The Henshaw Press Short Story Competition, and the National Association of Writers’ Groups Open Competition- establishing him as one of the UK’s foremost short-story writers.

Simon now lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, with his wife, Nicola, their labradoodle, Barney, and two tyrannical children.

Cursed Titans by Ricardo Victoria- Book Spotlight and Author Chat

Hi, everyone! I’m really excited because I get to do something a little different today. Author Ricardo Victoria is kindly giving a bit of a recap of what happened in The Withered King, book one in the Tempest Blades series. Book two, The Cursed Titans, will be releasing soon. Now is the time to read The Withered King–it’s a good one! Below is a recap of book one. If you don’t want spoilers for The Withered King, now is the time to stop reading (or scroll past the recap to see the awesome cover of The Cursed Titans)!

Without further ado, here is Ricardo Victoria: “In the previous book, what seemed to be a missing person case, threw Fionn -a retired hero with improved healing abilities and who can’t grow old, abilities granted by a mysterious power known as The Gift- and Harland -his best friend and head of the Foundation- into a race against time to save the Free Alliance and the whole world of Theia from a monstrous, powerful enemy from Fionn’s past. Along the way, they are joined by Gaby and Alex, two new heroes who also have abilities bestowed by the Gift -but manifest in their own personal ways- Sam, a powerful freefolk magick user -and Fionn’s estranged adopted daughter- and Sid, a loud mouth samoharo – a reptilian species- and pilot/owner of the only airship capable of upper atmosphere flight in the whole planet. By coming to terms with his past mistakes, Fionn managed to gather the strength and prepare the allies he needed to defeat the nightmarish foe known as The Withered King. But as the old adage says, no good deed goes unpunished, taking us to the next book where…”

Check out the cover and blurb for The Cursed Titans! Epic!

The triennial Chivalry Games have returned! After helping to destroy the Withered King, Alex and the rest of the group find out that saving the world has consequences. While he is secretly battling with depression and with the Alliance on the verge of collapse, a diplomatic summit and the Chivalry Games–to be held in the far-off Kuni Empire–may give everyone the opportunity to turn things around. Alex builds a team to represent the Foundation in the Games, facing off against the best fighters in the world. When an ancient being tries to raise legendary nightmares known as Titans using the peace talks as a trap, Alex has to find a way to save everyone before it is too late. Alex must learn that he is not truly alone to save the world from the chaos of the Titans. In a world where magic and science intermingle, anything is possible.

Where to find The Withered King:

The Withered King (Tempest Blades): Victoria, Ricardo: 9781932926743: Amazon.com: Books

Witty and Sarcastic Book Picks Bookshop (I get a small percentage)

Preorder The Cursed Titans:

The Cursed Titans (Tempest Blades): Victoria, Ricardo: 9781951122201: Amazon.com: Books

Witty and Sarcastic Book Picks Bookshop

Scars of Cereba by Rachel Shaw: Cover Reveal and Giveaway

Today, I get to exclaim over a book, one that I am very excited for. I have been fortunate to have read Last Memoria (review here) , which is book one in the Memoria duology. I say fortunate, because it was really, really good. Scars of Cereba, the continuation of the story, will be available to purchase on May tenth! It looks absolutely fantastic and the cover is a thing of beauty. If you haven’t yet read Last Memoria, now is the time, so you can continue right on with Scars of Cereba. Keep scrolling to see the cover of Scars of Cereba, and to enter a giveaway for an ebook version of Last Memoria.

And here it is!

Sometimes I loved her. Sometimes I hated her. Sometimes I was her and wanted to die.

Falon’s mind is broken. Sarilla returned his memories to him, but in doing so, she fractured him into the man he was before she took them and the man he became after they were stolen. He’s fighting to rejoin his two halves, but locked up in the prison below the palace with his neck already fitted for the hangman’s noose, time is quickly running out.

But it’s more than just Falon’s memories that are fighting for control of his mind. So are those of the memory thief who caused all his problems in the first place. Sarilla. The woman half of him loves, but the other half hates.

Her memories have stained his eyes black, causing everyone to fear what Falon has become. He needs to find a way out of this mess, but it’s not going to be easy. Especially since all three of the people in his head have very different plans for how to go about it.

Scars of Cereba is the concluding book in the Memoria Duology, sequel to the SPFBO 2020 finalist, Last Memoria, a story about a memory thief on the run and desperate to be forgotten. (Taken from Amazon)


The author has generously provided copies of Last Memoria that will go to three lucky winners. To enter the Last Memoria ebook giveaway, all you need to do is drop a comment. It can be a comment on the gorgeous cover, a funny joke, a “Hey, you”, or even just a “‘Sup”. I’ll announce the winners on Tuesday, February 9th. Good luck!

Sarilla has learnt one thing from stealing memories. Everybody lies.’A dark fantasy thriller about love, lies and memory thieves, perfect for readers searching for a new type of fantasy, one filled with real characters on heart-breaking journeys. Think Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, but with memory thieves and fantasy monsters!’There’s nothing Sarilla hates more than stealing memories, but the king forces her to do it, needing to keep his subjects in line. Sarilla wants to escape to where nobody knows what she is or what she can do, but her plans go awry when she runs into someone she would much rather forget.Falon has a six-month void in his memories that he’s desperate to restore. He doesn’t know why they were taken or what they contained, nor why the man he loves is acting so cagily about what happened during that time. He hopes to use Sarilla to get back what was stolen from him and isn’t interested in why she’s so desperate to escape. She will help him get back what he’s lost, whether she wants to or not.Join Sarilla and Falon in this twisted tale about how sometimes good intentions aren’t enough to keep the darkness at bay. (taken from Amazon)




Kids on the March: 15 Stories of Kids Speaking Out, Protesting, and Fighting for Justice by Michael G. Long- Book Spotlight

From the March on Washington to March for Our Lives to Black Lives Matter, the powerful stories of kid-led protest in America. 
  
Kids have always been activists. They have even launched movements. Long before they could vote, kids have spoken up, walked out, gone on strike, and marched for racial justice, climate protection, gun control, world peace, and more.  
 
Kids on the March tells the stories of these protests, from the March of the Mill Children, who walked out of factories in 1903 for a shorter work week, to 1951’s Strike for a Better School, which helped build the case for Brown v. Board of Education, to the twenty-first century’s most iconic movements, including March for Our Lives, the Climate Strike, and the recent Black Lives Matter protests reshaping our nation. 
  
Powerfully told and inspiring, Kids on the March shows how standing up, speaking out, and marching for what you believe in can advance the causes of justice, and that no one is too small or too young to make a difference. (taken from Amazon)

I am ridiculously excited about this book! Aside from the subject matter being interesting, I have a new perspective: my child. He’s a little guy, too young to even ride a bike without training wheels, but he has big dreams. He likes mostly nonfiction books about historical figures, people who he sees as world changers. Kids on the March sounds perfect for him. He says he wants to change the world when he grows up: how cool will it be for him to see examples of kids who didn’t wait until they had a drivers’ license or were old enough to vote? Kids everywhere need to see that they can affect change, that they can SHAKE THE WORLD. They’ve done it before. They’re doing it now. And I am so jazzed to read about it.

I’ll have a review coming up before too long. This book will be available on March 23rd.

Cover Reveal- Prophecy: Eve of Darkness by D. Ellis Overttun




There’s something very exciting happening this March. What is it, you ask ?(Well, maybe you’re asking ‘What’s for dinner’, but I can’t hear you, so I’m making assumptions). I’ll tell you: the third installment of the Tera Nova series is releasing! Mark your calendars for March 16th. In the meantime, I get to show you the amazing cover. Here ’tis:



20191212 Prophecy Cover (300 x 480 72 DPI) (2)

That’s epic! Book one and two are already out, and I recommend you give them a read. They’re fantastic! (You can find my review of book 1, titled Universe Awakening (Redux Edition) here). 



Auberon and Natasha, now two of the most wanted criminals on Arkos, have fled to the Westside. They have taken temporary refuge in Edenoud with Dion, son of Heron, as they contemplate their future. However, a dream has prompted them to return to the Eastside to warn First Minister Odessa. What could be so disturbing that would cause them to jeopardize their own safety? Will the First Minister listen or sound the alarm?
The investigation of the incident that took place in the Chamber of Prayers is reaching its conclusion. Tendai Theodor has a sense the report will cast blame on him. Can the power of his office protect him? To balance the forces he feels are aligned against him, he journeys to the underearth to seek out an ancient and, some say, mythical enemy, the Nephilim. Are they real or just the stuff of legend?
Meanwhile, First Minister Odessa has not lost sight of the inexorable destruction of the universe. While she has continued to support efforts to locate a new home, she has genetically engineered a new servile class and a method to seed them on a planet in advance of the Celesti arrival. But where is this place? The answer lies in a curious conversation that Director Jo’el has with a surrogate for his longmissing brother, Davin. It leads to a series of star maps recorded hundreds of thousands of years ago on clay tablets.
The Celesti face another problem. They are dying. However, something is happening to Auberon and Natasha that holds promise for the continuation of their species. If it is successful, can it be replicated, or is it an isolated incident?
Prophecy: Eve of Darkness weaves a compelling tale that is a blend of human nature, science, theology and philosophy. It spans the vastness of space from one universe to another and the underground world of Arkos to a distant planet called “Terra Nova”. It holds up a mirror to the human soul, but it will require thought and contemplation to decipher what lies below the surface.