Blogger Spotlight: Monlatable Book Reviews

Hey, hey, hey!

I’ve been super busy at the day job which means I haven’t had the opportunity to get this post up sooner! Mondays suck, amirite?! But no worries, I wouldn’t let you down! 

This week, I feature a lovely lady who was one of the first bloggers to embrace me. Monica has been very supportive of my career, and I appreciate her sharing my work with her readership. This lady can read!!! LOL, if you end up following her on social media, you’ll be extremely impressed by her book hauls. I thought I was a book hoarder, but I believe she puts me to shame! 

Get to know a little about Monica.

Since I’ve asked authors this question, I’m going to ask you the same thing. Most author interviews are pretty boring. We only get to see one side of an author, the polite side. I’m sure the same can be said for bloggers. Soooo, if you had an evil doppelganger, what detail would they enjoy revealing about you to the public that people would find surprising and possibly questionable?

That I am not always calm and nice. It does take a lot to make me snap, but when I do it ain’t pretty! I look forward to slowly morphing into a hard cursing, whisky sour drinking woman who speaks her mind with liberally sprinkled curse words without a care. I try to be diplomatic in my responses to people in general, but the older I get the more I realize that sometimes you just have to call a spade a spade. The phrase “Bitch, please” is applied liberally to both women and men in my mind.

Top 3 favorite books of all time?

This is so HARD!! Just three? I could do a top three of each of the many genres that I enjoy! If I am forced to just list three, the first would have to be Roots by Alex Haley. It is truly my favorite book. I reread it regularly and can’t imagine never having experienced it. Haley’s depiction of generations of heartache, devastations, and ultimate survival of the vilest circumstances was life altering for me as a young woman. My second book would have to be The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson. Although I just read it last year it made such a huge impact on me. It is a book that I want to buy for everyone I know and force them to read it. Even though it is a nonfiction book tracking the migration of African Americans from the south to the north in the early to mid-20th century, it is written so beautifully and reads so smoothly that I felt completely immersed in each person’s journey. Wilkerson brings so much emotion and passion to The Warmth of Other Suns that I actually teared up several times. I suppose my last book would be The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin. Written in 1963, it is still scarily relevant. It reflects the social injustices that we are still facing in America today. Baldwin’s writing is achingly beautiful and shreds me every time.

Limiting me to three was cruel Harper! I didn’t get to list any romances (general and erotic), general fiction, science fiction/fantasy, or mystery/thrillers! You know I love a little of everything! ;-)

What’s the most important lesson you learned in your 20s?

That the world is not just, it is much larger than I realized, and that the way I move in the world is not the only good way. I know that sounds flippant, but it is absolutely true. I grew up in a very comfortable bubble surrounded by people very much like myself. The scariest and best thing that I ever did was taking the leap with my husband when he commissioned into the Air Force and moving away from everything that was familiar and comfortable. By leaving the support of my family and community, I had to learn to trust in my own ability to make good decisions and learn from my bad ones. To be honest, my early 20’s didn’t teach me a whole lot, I think that your 20’s are meant to be filled with starts and stops while you figure out who you are as a person. I began coming into my own in 30’s.

What lead you to blogging?

One of my best real life friends started a blog with another friend and she kept saying that I needed to either jump onto her blog or start one for myself. So I was basically peer pressured into it! I am a little controlling so I knew that I wouldn’t do well having to run things by someone else. I began knowing absolutely nothing about blogging, formatting posts, or writing coherent reviews. I fumbled my way through a lot, including content. I started by just featuring some of my old favorite reads, joining blog tours, and featuring a lot of mainstream romances. That first year was rough! My blog has evolved a lot since the beginning and is now a better representation of what I read and enjoy. It’s an eclectic mix of genres where I try to give space to books and authors that aren’t always well represented in the larger book community.

Finish this sentence: If I could turn back time I would ______.

Be more adventurous.

What makes a book a DNF for you?

Boredom. If I have to talk myself into returning to a story I know it’s not for me.

Where’s the last place you went on vacation?

Universal Orlando

What’s your favorite smell?

Vanilla. It can be a candle, in cooking, or perfumes. The smell of vanilla just feels like home for me.

What’s the most reread book in your home library? What makes it your go to reread?

Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor. Although it isn’t a ‘happy’ read or even a book written for adults, it is a book that gives me joy every time I pick it up. For me Cassie, is one of the best juvenile characters that I have ever come across.

Do you have any pet peeves?

The misuse of the term ‘literally’. No one literally jumps out of their skin. It’s petty I know.  

**Bonus Question**

Have you ever tried BDSM? If not, would you?

I have not, but the hubby and I have been married for twenty-four years now, so who knows? We may get adventurous some day!  

About:

Monlatable Book Reviews features an eclectic mix of fiction. Literary fiction, African American fiction and romance, interracial romances, Science Fiction/Fantasy to bikers, there is room for everything; even a bit of erotic romance. I enjoy it all. I’m an unashamed and dedicated book hoarder. This blog is a place for me to spread the book goodness and all that is exciting in my book world. I feature both new releases and older backlist titles. 

Social Media:

Blog: Monlatable Book Reviews

Instagram: @readermonica 

Twitter: @MonlatReader 

Goodreads: Monica **can’t read fast enough**

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


Author Spotlight: Elle Brownlee

*waves*

Heeeeyyyy Party People!

Guess what? I am pooped. I thought two days would be enough time to recuperate post-RWA but nope. I am still super zonked. I almost skipped out on posting a spotlight today but a schedule is a schedule, so I had to stick with it. Today, you’ll get to know a little bit about one of the kindest authors I’ve ever encountered. I first met Elle at Liberty States last year. She’s such a delightful person, and it made sense to feature her. 

Get to know Elle, folks!

I always find author interviews kind of boring. We only get to see one side of an author, the polite side. If you had an evil doppelganger, what detail would they enjoy revealing about you to the public that people would find surprising and possibly questionable?

I’ve thought about this one the longest, and gosh, I don’t think there really is a big seedy underbelly reveal for me. I’m pretty transparent—and without shame—about everything I like, dislike, do, and support. People often remark I’m funnier (and snarkier) than they expected in real life, so there’s that.

What’s your middle name?

Don’t have one.

What’s your go-to karaoke bar song?

Rhinestone Cowboy.

How’d you get into writing romance?

Funny you should ask, as I recently wrote a whole blog post about my romance origin story! Find that here. Short answer—I literally tripped over it.

Who are the top three authors on your “must meet” list?

Jane Austen. Richard Adams. Ross King and/or Thomas Cahill.

What’s your worst fashion faux pas of the 90s?

I feel very comfortable owning my 90s fashion choices. Terrible neon oversized sweaters and puffy accessories never happened to me. I was grunge before grunge was a thing. Then grunge happened and I fit right in. Of course, I was out again once grunge was over, but I was still happy in my jeans, t-shirts, and flannels.

Your life has suddenly become a television show, what show do you choose?

Some interesting documentary that PBS or Ken Burns would produce and direct. Ideally with the Frontline voiceover guy as narrator.

What does success and failure mean to you?

That is not an easy thing to distill into a few sentence answer, but I always thought trying something and seeing it through to the end meant success. Of course, there are varying levels of personal satisfaction and acclaim, but one is, well, personal, and the other subjective. So for my dollars and donuts, thinking ‘I want to do the thing’ → ‘I did the thing’ is an achievement.

Did you ever own an Easy-Bake Oven?

No—my sister and I went for the Snoopy Sno Cone Machine instead. After making our best attempts with it a couple of times (and winding up with melted, too-sweet goo) we used it as a base/backdrop for our action figures and Strawberry Shortcake dolls.

Finish this sentence: If I had the power to time travel, I would _______.

Be busy visiting my list of “things, people, and places I wish I’d seen.” Dinosaurs, the megaflood that caused the Scablands in Washington state, the library at Alexandria, civilizations in their heyday (Egypt! Rome! Persia! Machu Picchu! Easter Island! Regency England!), megafauna roaming the Americas, taking in speeches and lectures by great people from their times, oh gosh attending the Marian Anderson performance in front of Lincoln Memorial. Caveat of course is I could be a mere observer and not get eaten by a T-Rex or drowned or anything. I’m crying a little just thinking about all of it, and that is not facetious or an overstatement.

Also, for real, I would gift myself two extra hours nearly every day just to get stuff done. Dinner time and the to-do list isn’t finished? Zip! You’re welcome, it’s two hours earlier. BOOM

**Bonus Question**

Have you ever tried BDSM? If not, would you?

Elle chose not to answer the bonus question. It’s all good. We all have our secrets, LOL!

Bio:

Elle Brownlee has always followed her creative, adventuring spirit.

Growing up she loved westerns and taking long hikes. On these explorations she’d craft miniature worlds with moss and rocks while making up stories about everything that happened there. This often included dashing cowboy heroes. As an adult, not a lot has changed. She still loves westerns, long hikes, and allowing her imagination to roam. She also loves spending time with family and friends, rooting for her baseball team, rainy days in autumn, and the perfect cup of tea (black, steeped extra strong, with milk—please!).

Her romances feature flawed but relatable characters in immersive settings, told with wit, tenderness, and a sly note of sarcasm. Though a cynic in many ways, Elle believes love can conquer all. Every story is a little bit naughty, a whole lot of nice, and will always end with happily ever after.

Elle currently lives in New York City, where she maintains her miniature worlds in terrariums and writing.

Social Media:

Website

Twitter

Instagram

Pinterest

Facebook

Books:

Get your one-click finger ready! Check out Drawn.


Author Spotlight: Soren Summers

Hi Folks! 

I AM OFFICIALLY OVER MY PLAGUE! *screams wildly* And not a moment too soon.

I fly to Orlando Wednesday morning for RWA Nationals, and I was not keen on being sick on a plane. Uh, noooope. My doctor swore I’d be well enough to fly but the fact that I still felt like poo on a stick last week Thursday did not give me any hope, but alas, I AM HEALED. This will be my first time attending Nationals, and I am SUPER excited. Be sure to follow me on social media! I’ll definitely be documenting what I know is likely to be one heck of a time. 

Today, I get to introduce you all to one of my favorite author people. Not only do I fangirl over his work, but we also have an amazing friendship which started from me emailing him strictly as a fan. LOL well, first I followed him on Twitter, to which he replied: ”*gay gasp* I know you.” Of course, I found his response both hilarious and adorable. 

Soren is the yin to my yang. I swear he’s the male version of me. Do you know how rare it is to find your male counterpart? HE IS IT. It’s probably why we get along so well, and he makes me laugh so hard. 

He also forgives me when I take forever to respond to emails (as of this blog post I owe him two emails), but he’s always there to listen when I need to commit some serious word vomit. He is one of the best authors friends I’ve come to make since taking on this writing gig. You should get to know him. You should also know LAST WEEK HE RELEASED HIS THIRD BOOK

I may be squeeing just a little bit. I’m so proud of him! ☺

At the end of the interview, there’s an opportunity for you to win a free read from Soren! 

Take it away buddy…

I always find author interviews kind of boring. We only get to see one side of an author, the polite side. If you had an evil doppelganger, what detail would they enjoy revealing about you to the public that people would find surprising and possibly questionable?

That behind the happy-go-lucky author persona I maintain online lingers a thick, roiling morass of arrogance and wild overconfidence. Seriously. The only way I can get myself to work long enough to finish a project is to shroud myself in the comfort of madness and delusion. That frequently involves preening in the mirror, yelling “You’re so good at this” and “You’re the best writer in the world” at my reflection, then maintaining that veneer long enough to write my quota for the day before I break down into tears and eat another pint of ice cream. Which reminds me…

How tall are you?

Five foot six. Titchy little baby human by American standards, and almost acceptable in Southeast Asia, where I’m originally from.

You’re auditioning for American Idol, what song do you choose to sing for the judges to showcase your talent?

“You Must Love Me” from Evita. Or that song from Dreamgirls, “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going,” the one that goes “You’re gonna love me.” Failing that, given only a microphone and no backing instrumentals, I can do the Galadriel monologue. You know, the one that ends with “All shall love me and despair.”

You sense a theme, you say? I don’t know what you mean.

Why’d you choose to write romance? More specifically, gay horror with romantic elements?

More than writing I know that my real forte is dealing with people. I’ve been told that I’m charming and I’ve made an effort to take advantage of that in all aspects of life. This also means that I am an enormous flirt, which leads to plenty of imagined dialogue as well as lots and lots (and lots) of imagined romantic and sexual scenarios. Those come naturally to me – typically when I’m trying to fall asleep – so that takes care of the romance half of the equation.

I’ve always been fascinated by horror, especially stuff that builds off of sexuality, like the art of H.R. Giger, vampires and zombies in general, even the very basic fact that the French word for orgasm means “the little death.” There’s something inherently tragic and beautiful about both sex and death, how one creates or infuses the body with life, and the other – well, you know. I figured blending the two might be interesting, and so far it’s worked out magically, thrilling literally tens of readers across the globe.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Anne Rice and Chuck Palahniuk, in different ways, showed me that it was possible to blend love and horror. What I really admire about Chuck, though, is his take on self-destructive characters. He does them so very well. I’m not a fan of the omniscient point of view Terry Pratchett used in his novels, but his writing has an incredible playfulness to it that really stretches the boundaries of what you can do with the English language, often to ridiculous and hilarious effect.

My very own problematic fave is H.P. Lovecraft, who was a massive racist, but was also influential in shaping so many aspects of modern horror. I picked up a lot of tricks about building a creeping sense of dread from his writing. I also borrow some tropes of cosmic horror from his universe.

And George R.R. Martin, of course. I love tragedy, but more than that, he has a gift for the economy of words, often establishing incredible characterization in just one or two sentences. He can make you root for a new character within mere paragraphs or pages – and then he murders them brutally, sometimes in the very same chapter.

Let’s get introspective for a sec. What would you say is the #1 challenge to your personal growth? Ha! You didn’t see such a serious question coming didja?

Addiction, whether to things as trite as video games or as complex as human beings. I have a tendency for obsession, even when I know that something (or someone) is terrible for me. Good thing I managed to quit smoking, hey?

Describe your first breakup in three words.

I was monstrous.

Favorite breakfast food?

It’s a Chinese delicacy called tau fu fa, also known as taho to Filipinos. It’s this really silky soy bean custard in a syrupy sauce. In the Philippines it’s sold by roaming vendors in the morning, always served warm with these chewy sago or tapioca pearls. So, so good. A nice bit of a protein boost in the morning, though kind of heavy on the sugar.

What advice would you give to an aspiring romance writer?

Pick your (sub)genre carefully, baby. The hardest lesson I’ve learned from doing this is that you need to manage your expectations. Want to write genre-blending horror-sci fi romance with psychics and butt sex and eldritch weirdness like I did? Go right ahead, but know that you won’t do as well or reach as many readers as an author who writes about, say, wolf shifters, or billionaires, or jocks. Do your research going in, get a feel of the results you might get out of it, then evaluate your goals and options from there.

Where do you envision your writing career in the next ten years?

Dead in a ditch, just like me.

Kidding! I see myself as a financially stable author by then, someone who can finally, perhaps, ease up on the four-novels-a-year rule. I’d love to think that my writing will be enough to pay the bills and comfortably cover my twenty-seven cats several times over, and that I’ll be good enough to bag a couple of awards to shake in the faces of all those who ever dared to doubt or oppose me. I mean to put on my mantle! Haha. Hah.

**Bonus Question**

Ever tried BDSM? If not, would you?

No, but I’d like to, mainly the psychological aspects. I’m not a huge fan of props when it comes to sex. I am, however, fascinated by power play, and I love edging. I imagine those two things in concert would work out wonderfully.

Bio:

Soren Summers spent 15 years working as a lifestyle journalist and public relations copywriter. After moving to Southern California he decided it was time to stop selling other people’s stories and start telling his own. Inspired by the sweat-laden horrors of ill-tempered editors and looming deadlines, Soren uses his unfortunate love of hyperbole to write novels about ordinary people struggling against overwhelming supernatural odds.

Social Media:

Amazon 
Goodreads
Twitter
Facebook
Website

Amazon Giveaway:

Win a copy of Soren’s Monster Book 1 in the Vertex universe by clicking here. You must be logged into your Amazon account to enter.

Books:

Get your one-click finger ready! Check out Soren’s latest release: Paragon Book 3 in the Vertex universe.

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