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The Sum of All Tears by Kim Cresswell and M.K. Chester Blog Tour – Guest Post

About the Book

The Day after Tomorrow meets Mad Max, The Handmaid’s Tale and The Hunger Games in this enthralling post‑apocalyptic dystopian adventure with a paranormal twist.

In the near future, after her father’s climate change experiment goes terribly wrong, twenty-two-year-old environmental studies student, August Madison, finds herself resurrected in a frozen wasteland. With most of the world’s population and food sources annihilated, depraved nomadic gangs patrol the lawless landscape as outlasters claw for survival. Even old friends become unrecognizable.

Amid the chaos, Graysen Marx, iron-fisted leader of the domed settlement Liberty, emerges from the catastrophic event with his own agenda—collecting only those who exhibit unexplained abilities. When August crosses his path, he sees an opportunity he must exploit. She sees an evil she must destroy. In a treacherous new world where anyone could be a savior or savage, August discovers her true purpose. And only the strongest will survive.

Guest Post

Where were you born/grew up at?

Kim: I was born in Etobicoke (Toronto), Ontario Canada. When I was two, my parents divorced, and we moved to London, Ontario. I’ve been here ever since.

M.K.: I was born and raised in and around Columbus, Ohio, USA, with the brief excursion to Phoenix, Arizona when I was little. I’m not sure it counts since I barely remember it.

What do you do to unwind and relax?

Kim: I enjoy reading, taking long walks to clear my mind, and spending time with my adult kids and friends.

M.K.: I like to read, watch TV and movies, the usual. As a new homeowner, I’m also finding new things to enjoy, like redecorating, gardening and birdwatching.

Describe yourself in 5 words or less!

Kim: Funny, kind, crazy, caring, and a loyal friend.

M.K.: Sarcastic, loyal, quiet, caring, and empathetic.

Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?

Kim: I have always envisioned my Whitney Steel series (Reflection, Retribution, Resurrect) as movies. They are high-octane romantic thrillers and would work well as movies.

M.K.:  When I write, I usually see the story unfolding in my mind as if it were a movie, but I can honestly say that Icehaven would be the most exciting to both create and view as a movie.

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

Kim: My spirit animal would be an Owl, emblematic of a deep connection with wisdom and intuitive knowledge.

M.K.: My spirit animal has always been a polar bear, which represents strength and endurance as well as acceptance and surrender. I have a tattoo to represent this connection.

What can we expect from you in the future?

Kim:  I’m presently working on Invisible Truth, the second book in the thrilling Assassin Chronicles series. M.K. Chester and I will be writing Liberty, the second book in the Sum of all Tears series beginning in July.

M.K: I’m working right now on polishing the second book in the New South series, titled Ten Days.

Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in Icehaven? 

M.K.: We wanted the characters to be relatable—they could be someone you know—who are thrown into this new world and have to find the strength to survive. Strong heroines are a must, and August is a character who shows remarkable growth through her trials. Her love interest likewise has to be able to keep up with her, while handling his own responsibilities at the same time. I always think villains are the most fun to write, and we enjoyed making our antagonist both relatable and a worthy opponent.

Where did you come up with the names in the story?

Kim: I use a random name generator and with M.K.’s input, we were able to find interesting and unique names for our characters.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

Kim: What I enjoyed most about writing Icehaven is the story was very different from my other books, a completely different genre. 

M.K.: It’s different than anything I’ve written and really enjoyed getting to jump outside the romance genre.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

Kim: Not at all. Icehaven is exactly the way I envisioned the story.

M.K.: Nope. There is nothing I would do differently, as the entire process built me up as a writer.

Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book? 

Kim: I learned how how much I love writing dystopian fiction, and also how resilient characters can be. Very much like life, we adapt and come out stronger no matter what is thrown at us.

M.K.: I learned that mixing genres can be awesome! I loved getting a little taste of everything, from romance to post-apocalyptic fiction, very outside the box I’d been working in.

Anything specific you and M.K. Chester want to tell your readers?

We hope readers have a chance to read Icehaven. At the story’s core, the book is about duty, sacrifice, choices, and consequences. It’s an emotional blend that asks the basic questions, “What would you do?”

And thank you to our fans of the Sum of all Tears series. It’s because of you that we will continue to write new books in the series. We appreciate your support. 

If your book had a candle, what scent would it be?

The candle would smell like citrus, green bamboo, patchouli, and musk. Of course, we’d call it Icehaven.

How long have you both been writing?

Kim:  For many decades. I knew I wanted to be a professional writer while working at our public library at the age of seventeen. I remember reading Jacqueline Susann’s Valley of the Dolls and from that moment I wanted to be an author. It seemed like a farfetched idea back then. Life, marriage, and kids put my dream on hold until 2012 when I decided it was time to take my writing seriously. It really was now or never. With my first book, Reflection, I landed two literary agents. Since then, I’ve published over 20+ works: novels, short stories, and anthologies.

M.K: I started writing stories for my own entertainment when I was ten but didn’t get serious about things until almost twenty years later. The Internet played a big role in my growth (and it’s how Kim and I met) and I know I’d be writing whether I ever published or not. As a history geek, historical romance was a natural fit and most of my published work fits that mold. After a layoff in 2017, I was also able to use my skills as a copywriter, a role I still enjoy.

Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre?

Kim:  I love reading! My favorite genres are dystopian, romantic and action thrillers.

M.K.: I was a reader first and will always be a reader. I read a lot of romance, but also enjoy military fiction and historical fiction and biographies.

Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?

Kim:  I usually only write one book at a time so I can focus on the characters and the story.

M.K.:  I have several projects at various stages of completion, but it’s best for me to focus on no more than two at any given time (one, if I’m being honest!).

Pen or type writer or computer?

Kim: I write on a laptop and use pen and paper if I’m stuck on a scene. I find moving away from the computer always helps me get unstuck.

M.K.: I prefer to type. I have MS and it’s affected my hands, so it’s always easier to type. I have my desktop, laptop and iPad set up for typing.

Describe your writing style.

Kim: I would describe my writing style as cinematic. My books are like watching a movie.

M.K.:  My style reflects deep narratives with redemption themes, so it often seems like getting to peer over the character’s shoulder.

What makes a good story?

Kim: What makes a great story is a solid and interesting plot, lots of action, and emotion…emotion…emotion. If I don’t feel a story, I walk away from it.

MK: Definitely emotion—but if the events don’t make sense to me, I can walk away.

What is your writing process? For instance, do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first?

Kim: My writing process has always been the same. First, I write the draft back cover blurb. I can’t start a book unless I do. Then I select a title and begin plotting out each chapter, so I have a map to work with. After those are completed, I sit down and start writing the first chapter. Of course, things can change but generally, I stick with my plot outline quite closely.

M.K: The opposite of Kim’s! I often begin with a character. I know who they are and then find a situation in which they can learn and grow. I usually write straight through but will occasionally write out of sequence. I use Deb Dixon’s GMC to ensure conflict is working.

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

Kim: I love coming up with unique plots and characters which I do believe readers want and expect.

M.K.: Both, if it’s possible. I like to take characters who may be questionable in one way or another and make readers love them.

 

About the Authors – Kim Cresswell and M.K. Chester

Kim CresswellKim Cresswell resides in Ontario, Canada and is the bestselling and award-winning author of the action-packed WHITNEY STEEL series.

Her romantic thriller, Reflection (A Whitney Steel Novel – Book One), has won numerous awards including RomCon®’s 2014 Readers’ Crown Finalist (Romantic Suspense), InD’tale Magazine 2014 Rone Award Finalist (Suspense/Thriller), UP Authors Fiction Challenge Winner, Silicon Valley’s Romance Writers of America (RWA) “Gotcha” contest. Kim also signed a 3-book German translation deal with LUZIFER Verlag for the first three books in the series: Reflection, Retribution and Resurrect. Lethal Journey won RomCon®’s 2014 Readers’ Crown (Thriller).

The Assassin Chronicles TV series was in development with Council Tree Productions. The TV series is based on Kim’s upcoming 4-book paranormal/supernatural thriller series: Deadly Shadow (May 2018), Invisible Truth, Assassin’s Prophecy, and Vision of Fire.

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MK ChesterM.K. Chester is an RWA award-winning author of historical and contemporary romance. Her first novel, Surrender to the Roman, is currently published with Carina Press. Her three-book historical series, Bryeton Books, focuses on love, loss and redemption in small town America at the turn of the 20th century, while her latest release, Crashed, is the first book in the contemporary New South Series. 

M.K. is a native Buckeye who lives in Tennessee. She’s married to a veteran, recently became a MoM (Mother of Marine), and will soon become a grandmother. She adores her Scottish Terriers and is fighting MS.

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The Body Electric by Beth Revis – Review

Title: The Body Electric
Author: Beth Revis
Format: Paperback
Pages: 460
Rating: 5/5

24451538This is a joke, right? I’m missing the last one hundred pages, this isn’t really a standalone, surely there’s more, because this isn’t fair. A story such as this needs to have more than 460 pages dedicated to it!

In the future, nanobots are a daily occurrence. Everyone has them, a part of everyone’s life, especially when your name is Ella Shepherd and your parents are famous scientists. Ella’s father is dead, killed by a terrorist attack on the lab he was working in and her mother has a disease called Hebbs Disease, which is fatal and causes the brain to deteriorate. Her mother has developed a way for people to relive their best memories, but everything changes when theory becomes reality. Ella can walk through people’s memories, something that was only thought to be theoretical. Her life is throw into chaos and it certainly does help when a mysterious boy shows up. Ella isn’t sure who to trust. Can she trust the mystery boy that has attachments to her father, but seems to have secrets? Can she trust her government? Can she even trust herself?

I’ve read one book by Beth Revis before The Body Electric, and I loved it, so my expectations were pretty high. My expectations were met. Ella is such an interesting character. She has layers of emotion and strength, but as the story progresses we also see her fears, which (I shall not spoil anything) I find very understandable considering the circumstances. I would have loved to see more interaction between Jack and Ella at the end of the book and every time they were together I did a mental happy dance, but at the same time made me want to throw the book at the wall, because it. Is. So. Frustrating. There’s almost always action going on, so I just kept flipping the pages. All of a sudden the book was over. How did that happen? The science alone is enough to keep my mind constantly interested, but the twists just throw a little extra something that makes me crazy. I still want more, I can’t believe this is just a standalone, this world has so much that it could offer and I hope we see more of it in the future.

Side note: Across the Universe reference, don’t think I missed you, I saw you and I love you.

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The Program by Suzanne Young – Review

Title: The Program
Author: Suzanne Young
Series: The Program
Book: 1
Copy: Hardback
Pages: 405
Rating: 5/5

11366397The Program is a heartbreaking novel about young love and the importance of family and friendship. I picked up The Program because it sounded interesting enough. When I started reading, I intended to just read the first few pages to get a feel  for in, but what I ended up getting was a book that sucked me in so fast I finished it in one sitting.

Sloane lives in a world where suicide is an epidemic. Almost everyone knows at least one person that has committed suicide. In the hopes of ending the epidemic, the government comes up with a solution, the Program. Unfortunately, the Program isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In order to be deemed “not infected” or “cured”, you have to spend six weeks in an institution. People that come back from the Program aren’t the same. They don’t act the same and they don’t remember any of their friends and little of their past. Some people die before getting to the Program, some are shipped away, and some kill themselves before the Program can take them, choosing to die instead of living as a shell of their former selves.

Sloane’s brother killed himself, leaving Sloane heartbroken and feeling helpless. Luckily for her, she has James. Her other half, the love of her life, and her soulmate. Together, they try to fight the Program, staying off the Program’s radar, hiding just how scared and sad they really are. When their friend commits suicide to avoid being put in the Program, James falls off the deep end, slipping into a depression that Sloane can’t pull him out of. Her attempts at making him appear normal work for weeks only to falter. James is shipped off the Program and returns with no memory of their love. Sloane’s life spins out of control, with no direction, no James, and no hope for him coming back to her.

This book is one of my new favourites. The passion between James and Sloane just makes me so happy, they’re so cute together and have such a great relationship. It’s such a heartbreaking story to the point where I found myself in tears more than a few times. If I lived in this world, I would never want to lose all my memories, no matter what the outcome. What’s the point of living, if they take the best parts of you? The good times and the bad, they make up who we are and the idea of something with the ability to take those memories away scares the crap out of me. I simply couldn’t put this book down and I read it in a few hours with the need for more. Certainly one of the best books I’ve read.

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Frozen by Erin Bowman – Review

Title: Frozen
Author: Erin Bowman
Series: Taken
Book: 2
Pages: 359
Rating: 4/5

18089999It’s been over a year since I read Taken, but something told me it was time to read Frozen. In my typical fashion, I completely disregarded the idea of skimming book one to catch up on a few things. That was my mistake. However, it’s okay, because most things I forgot were explained quickly anyway.
Frozen revolves around Gray Weathersby and his team of Rebels on their quest to find survivors of Group A. Seems like a real simple quest. Trek through the snow and ice for days to find people that may or may not be alive while everyone is looking for you in order to find a group of people that may or may not be alive and may or may not actually want your help! Not surprisingly, things didn’t go all that smoothly.
Honestly, my internal struggle mainly revolved around who I liked with Gray. Bree is butch and violent, she and Gray fight all the time (good? bad? it’s a toss up). I don’t have a fully functioning opinion on Bree. The cold side of people is usually the best side when it comes to things like this, but I just found her entirely unlikable when she tried to face things on her own. Emma is the polar opposite, yet I still don’t like her. Her sweet, kind exterior makes her appear helpless and weak, the last thing a survival group needs. Now, if Emma and Bree were the same person, that might work, but they’re not. Gray strings both of them along and no one can convince me otherwise.
Some parts were slow, but when things picked up, they picked up fast and stayed that way. So as to not give anything away, I’ll give my favourite parts a one word ode. Blaine. Boat. Group A. I’ll let the reader sort out what part of the story each belongs to. All in all, though that ending was not something I was expecting and I give props for that. The entire time I was reading I was 100% sure this was a duology until I got to the last page and things were unresolved, then I remembered that Forged is the next book and now I have to buy it in order to see what happens. Looking forward to it!