Q&A with “Husk” author J. Kent Messum

We are very excited to have a J. Kent Messum author Q&A to share with you. A Kindle version of Husk was recently released in North America for the first time. Here is the new cover:

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I read Husk back in 2015. Here is my Goodreads review. I really liked the book and highly recommend it. Imagine if your consciousness could outlast your physical body and be implanted in “hosts.” Your consciousness could control the host body and have adventures. Then, imagine illegal things being done with the host bodies – and one host starts remembering. That is the premise. I’m very excited it can now be purchased on Amazon Kindle. The author was kind enough to answer some questions for us.

1) What was the inspiration for Husk?

-There is a quote in Husk that reflects a prominent theme of the novel: “There is a vast difference between those who seek to live forever, and those who are simply too scared to die”. That statement serves as one of the main inspirations for the story. Historically, immortality has always been worshiped and pursued in one way or another. Today, the idea of conquering death is becoming much more tangible with technology accelerating and adapting so fast. It is regarded as a probability more than a possibility, with many now claiming it is simply an eventuality. Personally, I find that quite frightening, but it was also inspiring to build a story around the idea.

2) Why did it take so long to be available on Kindle (in the US)?

-Husk has had a strange journey. After the release of my debut novel, BAIT, Penguin UK picked up the rights for the United Kingdom and also made an offer to commission/publish Husk after they read the synopsis. My agents and I accepted. Husk was published in the UK and all her territories, as well as half a dozen other countries. Oddly, Penguin US and Canada didn’t seize the opportunity to publish it in North America. It ‘s very strange to be published throughout half of the world, but not in your own home country. Some months later I got in to discussions with a couple ebook companies that started off well, but then experienced delay after delay and ultimately went nowhere. All the while I had a lot of complaints from North American readers saying they couldn’t get hold of Husk easily. At the end of the day I write stories for people to read, and my story wasn’t getting into the hands of many who wanted to experience it. So, I made the decision to self publish the book on Kindle in the US/Canada.

3) Are you working on anything now? If so, can you talk a little bit about it?

-I’m actually working on my fifth and sixth books right now. My third and fourth novels (‘Skin Deep’ and ‘All The Darkness Looks Alive’ respectively) are already complete. Skin Deep is a crime/thriller about a frightening new diet trend that surfaces in Los Angeles, and it’s currently being shopped around by my agent. All The Darkness Looks Alive is a southern Gothic tale about a young boy and a seemingly haunted weeping willow tree that puts a new spin on the supernatural. Right now it going through a final rewrite/editing phase. I’ve got no shortage of ideas for novels, so I’m always working on new material. People ask me how I come up with all my book ideas, but honestly I can’t turn it off. That’s not always a good thing, and results in a lot of sleepless nights.

4) What authors do you admire or have you read anything lately you really liked?

-Most of the authors I admire are from the 60s, 70s, and 80s, back when there was a real premium put on the writing craft and talent. Guys like Cormac McCarthy, Denis Johnson, Steward O’Nan, and Pete Dexter. The most recent book I read that I loved was ‘Redeployment’ by Phil Klay (Winner of the 2014 National Book Prize). Klay’s writing and storytelling thoroughly impressed me.

5) What character(s) do you relate the most to in Husk and/or which was the hardest/most fun to write?

-The lead character, Rhodes, is the one I relate to the most. There is a desperation about him, trying to stay afloat in a world where money has become synonymous with day-to-day survival. I think a lot of people can all relate to him actually. The cost of living is skyrocketing. A lot of folks are saddled with debt they can’t deal with. The wealth gap is becoming a canyon. There were many points where Rhodes was hard to write, because he voices many of my own fears about the future and personifies that worry we all have about keeping our heads above water in this culture and economy, especially when we see approaching waves.

6) Will there ever be another book set in this world or sequel?

-Originally I conceived of Husk as a single stand-alone novel, but since then I’ve plotted out a second and third novel, each focused on another character from the original book. I think whether or not I write a second and third book will be predicated on demand. Husk was also optioned for an international TV series back in 2015. So you could definitely see the story continue on screen at some point, rather than the page.

Enter the Goodreads giveaway for your own copy of Husk.

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J. Kent Messum is an author & speaker who always bets on the underdog. His first novel BAIT (August 2013, Penguin Books) won the 2014 Arthur Ellis Award for ‘Best First Novel.’ His second novel HUSK (July 2015, Penguin Books) was optioned for an international TV series by Warp Films in the UK.

Messum lives in Toronto with his wife, dog, and a pair of cats. He is currently working on his third and fourth novels. He teaches Creative Writing at the University Of Toronto, and is also a book critic for the New York Journal Of Books.

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LIFEL1K3 (Lifelike #1) by Jay Kristoff – ★★★★★

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Today is release day! I was honored to receive a digital ARC from Random House and Netgalley for this highly anticipated book. I wanted this so bad because Jay Kristoff is one of my favorite authors and I’m a huge, unapologetic fangirl.

I loved the Lotus Wars and Nevernight Chronicle trilogies and have really enjoyed the Illuminae Files. And now this. Let me tell you, it delivers. I even pre-ordered a physical copy so I can read it again. And again.

The setting is a sort of wasteland – literally – where the United States is run by corporations and basically forgot about certain sections of land and just use them as trash sites! The main character lives on an island that was once part of California and now has streets named after the type of junk that lines them (tires, toasters, etc.).

There are robots, mechanicas, bot fights, organic waste vessels that patrol the black (polluted) seas. It’s got “deviants,” people who mutated by the environment and have unusual abilities that a race-purity-type group wants to eradicate. It’s got assassins! It’s a story about friendship and love, but it’s written by Jay Kristoff, so don’t expect too many niceties. I love the world he created and highly recommend this!

Furyborn (Empirium #1) by Claire Legrand – ★★★★

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Okay, where to start (rubs hands together gleefully)… The story is told by switching from two points of view. We have Rielle, the daughter of the Lord Commander Dardenne, who has grown up in the palace of Celdaria with Audric, the prince, and his cousin and betrothed, Ludivine. They are the best of friends until Rielle’s powers are uncovered during a horse race and she is forced to undergo trials to become the Sun Queen.

A thousand years apart: Eliana is a bounty hunter who works for the Emperor. She saves her money in the hopes of one day running away with her mother, brother, and lover. She has her own abilities which she tries to keep hidden and ends up being tangled in a mission with a rebel named Simon and a princess named Navi from the last free country, Astavar.

A lot of the chapters end on a sort of cliffhanger (which is a pretty common writing method), but once you get into the rhythm of the chapters switching, the story flows nicely. It is a long book, but there is plenty of action and surprises.

Both main characters are ambiguous and morally gray. Sometimes they do heroic things and sometimes they are selfish and unlikable. But I liked them both a lot! They are both loyal to their loved ones, but make mistakes. I loved the friendships between Rielle and Ludivine and Audric, and then Eliana and Navi.

Eliana’s brother, Remy, is just the best!

“Oh, sweet one. You are a dreamer, a teller of tales. I see that now. You ache for magic, and for all those golden giants of the past.”

I never thought I could love a wraith so much either! Zahra for the win!

There is just so many things to like about this book. It is perhaps a bit too long and sometimes the pacing requires a bit of extra effort on the reader, but I found it to be quite worth the journey! I can’t wait to see what happens next.

This is fantasy with castles and swords and Kings and Magisters. People have abilities to control the elements and shadows, there is an awesome magical creature, there are angels! I would say this is for ages 17 and up due to sexual content and violence. There are many dark elements and some possible triggers. But, I highly recommend, personally!

Thank you very much to Edelweiss and publisher for providing a digital copy to read and review!

Goodreads review

When a Favorite Author Writes a Book You Don’t Like

I suppose this is something that may inevitably happen to every reader. You love everything a certain author publishes and then suddenly, there is a book that you just don’t click with. So, what do you do? It doesn’t mean you have to break up with the author’s work or write a rage review. This has happened to me several times, and without mentioning any titles or authors, here are a couple things a disappointed reader can do (without being angry or hurtful).

Pretend it didn’t happen. Quietly remove the book from your to-read or read shelf and don’t post a review.

Write an honest review. Without attacking the author, list reasons why the book didn’t work for you, and just state that although you enjoy this author’s other books, this one just wasn’t for you. Maybe you leave a rating, maybe not. There is nothing wrong with criticizing a book as long as you aren’t hateful about it.

What I don’t recommend is leaving an automatic gushing five star review just because you feel obligated or are worried about saying something contrary to the majority of an author’s fanbase.

Occasionally, an author makes decisions with characters that you simply can’t accept, like killing off the hero/heroine or pulling a romantic bait and switch. It’s an author’s prerogative to do whatever they wish with their characters, their world, and their story. But it’s also a reader’s prerogative whether to continue reading or not. Sometimes, you just have to say goodbye.

But, I think in most cases, a reader can continue to enjoy an author’s work, even if they don’t fangirl/boy over every single thing they write. Don’t feel guilty. We all have different reactions while experiencing a book.

The Ninth Rain by Jen Williams – ★★★★★

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Guys, we just read the bestest book ever at the MacHalo group! Jen Williams is fantasy’s best-kept secret. Is this woman a millionaire yet? New York Times Bestseller list or whatever the UK version of that is? Surely she must be winning awards left and right because her writing skills and story-telling are so bleeding good, I have no words. This is hands down one of the best books I have ever read. Ever.

I would not have even read it had it not come to my attention from a couple MacHalo members. THANK YOU, you wonderful lovely ladies, you!

“Vintage” is the main character. She is about 40 (a main character who is 40, you guys, what is this madness) and a wealthy wanderer of types. She travels and studies artefacts that happen to be organic space ships from a malevolent alien race who wish to wipe out humanity and all life on Tarn. (Tarn is this world’s version of Earth.)

She also happens to have brown skin and is a lesbian (or bisexual, we don’t know for sure because it isn’t discussed; it’s no big deal; she just is who she is).

Her traveling companion is a hired sword named Tormalin the Oathless, Tor for short. He is an Eboran, a race of human-like beings who can live a thousand years, are strong, and a mix between maybe elves and vampires?

They end up taking in a fell-witch named Noon. She can summon green winnowfire. Add to the mix another Eboran, Tor’s sister, Hestillion, who is obsessed with bringing their dead tree-god back to life, their slightly crazy cousin Aldasair, a tall braided dude named Bern the Younger (who might be hooking up with Aldasair), and a psychotic fell-witch assassin after Noon.

The witches, when discovered, are claimed by the Winnowry, which is basically a prison. The fell-witches are considered an evil that must be contained and controlled.

This book was so easy to read, full of action, amazing world-building. It’s got humor, sci-fi, a bit of romance (don’t worry, it’s not a kissing book, but Tor is pretty swoon-worthy). I have not enjoyed reading a book this much in awhile. I daresay it’s a flipping masterpiece.

I would highly recommend this to anyone who loves fantasy and fantastical beings and worlds. Don’t worry, it’s not bogged down in fantasy-speak. You will get swept away.

There is so much more I could say, but I don’t want to spoil it! Jen Williams, remember the name. You won’t be sorry.

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She also does The Copper Cat trilogy. The second book in The Winnowing Flame trilogy is The Bitter Twins and is out now!

Follow Jen Williams at Twitter.

Okay, do you think I am fangirling enough here? Well, maybe, but it’s that good.

Top Ten Tuesday – Books I’d Slay a Lion to Get Early

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Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and the theme today is Books I’d Slay a Lion to Get Early. Here is my list!

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  1. Dark Age, the fifth book in the Red Rising universe releases on September 11, 2018 according to Goodreads. I have read the previous books and love this series!

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2. Darkdawn is the final installment in the Nevernight Chronicle by Jay Kristoff. It is set for release September 4, 2018. I have adored this dark, twisted tale from the start and would definitely slay a lion to get my grabby hands on this baby!

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3. Magic Triumphs is the final book in the Kate Daniels series by the most-awesomest Ilona Andrews. It is going to hit the shelves (and e-readers) on August 28th. KD is one of the best urban fantasies that exists.

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4. I listened to this on audio with the wonderful Steve West narrating, and even with that horrible cliffhanger (grrr cliffhangers), I am looking forward to this one. Release date: October 2, 2018.

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5. The next book in the Curse of the Gods series is released maybe in July 2018. There is no set date yet according to Goodreads, but I adore this series and am going nuts waiting to see what happens next. It also has one of my favorite tropes – reverse harem!

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6. Vengeful (Villians #2) by V.E. Schwab. I lurved the first one, Vicious. Release date: September 25, 2018.

Books that don’t have a cover yet:

7. The Toll (Arc of a Scythe #3) by Neal Shusterman. Release date: 2019 *sadface*

8. Two Kingdoms (The Dark Side #3) by Kristy Cunning. Release date: 2018

9. Iron & Magic (Kate Daniels #9.5) by Ilona Andrews. Hugh’s book! Release date: June 26, 2018

10. Nightchaser (Endeavor #1) by Amanda Bouchet. Release date: January 1, 2019.

Well, that wraps up my list. Are you looking forward to reading any of the the books I mentioned? What books would you slay a lion to get your hands on early?

 

 

 

 

“Under the Never Sky” by Veronica Rossi – ★★★★★

Oh yeah, oh yeah. This was awesome! I have had this on my TBR shelf since 2014 and it ended up being one of those where you ask yourself, “Why did you wait so long?!” Let me tell you, THIS book is a perfect example of why I will never stop reading Young Adult fantasy. There may be some stinkers out there or some big old Mehs, but then you get one like this and are like:

Okay, maybe I exaggerate. A little. But there was SO MUCH win here! It’s set in a dystopian-like world where a catastrophe has rendered the sky into an “Aether,” where storms and lightening kill everything from the soil and trees to people. The luckiest people (that is arguable) went into domes for protection. There, they have developed technology to live in Realms, through an eye piece (like a virtual reality). They have changed their biology and physiology so much that the females don’t even menstruate anymore!

So, our main character, Aria, gets exiled into the wastelands and meets Peregrine (Perry) an Outsider. A savage. They form an unlikely and unwilling alliance – Aria wants to find her mom and Perry his nephew.

Stuff happens. There are cannibals! Perry and Aria go a place that is protected where a man named Marron is in charge and they live like relatively “normal” people. Perry’s kind live in tribes.

Those born in the wastelands can have abilities. There are Seers, Auds (people who have superpower hearing), Scires (people who can smell so well, they can scent emotions and moods).

A romance blossoms, but there is definitely NO instalove. Aria is not a special snowflake or Mary Sue.

Some of it was just survival, but I loved the progression of Aria and Perry’s relationship. It just slowly sneaks up on you. Perry is BAE. I lurve him soooo much. Aria bugged me at first, but she really grows!

This was just A++++ writing and story-telling, in my view.