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July Book reviews and interview with Granthana Sinha

In July I read 3 books, 1 novella, and 1 poetry collection - Boy on Hold, Cenotaphs, Ode to Delirium, Solace in Makarska, and The Little Blue Door - and here are my reviews! All were self-published or small press books. I also interviewed psychological mystery/thriller author Granthana Sinha, at the end.

In other news, Starvation hit 100 reviews on Goodreads (!) Thank you to everyone who helped me get to this milestone.

If you read the book, please consider reviewing on Amazon and/or Goodreads-- it makes a HUGE difference for smaller authors. * If you haven't read the book because you can't afford it, send me a message. *

Boy Released by J.D. Spero

5/5 Stars

I was lucky enough to get an advanced reader copy.

I liked the first book, Boy On Hold, but loved this one more. The writing is clearer and more mature (perhaps this is just a reflection on my preference for older YA and adult books over younger YA). The tension is gripping from the beginning. I found myself getting lost in the story - something that doesn’t happen very often to me as a writer.

The rawness of the emotions spilled out of this book (from Hen’s guilt to his mom’s love to all the emotions in between) and I loved the balance between honesty and closure at the end.

While I recommend reading Boy On Hold first, I could see readers also being able to treat this as a stand-alone, which is a testament to Spero’s ability as a writer.

If you’re looking for a touching page-turner about family, healing, and growing up in the midst of mental illness, read this book.

Cenotaphs by Rich Marcello

Adult slice-of-life

4.5/5 stars

I received a copy in exchange for an honest review. The writing of this book was awesome. Even in the first chapter, the characters were compelling and the descriptions vivid.

I’m not a huge fan of slice-of-life type books but I can almost overlook that based on the quality of writing.

Ode to Delirium by Oluwatemilorun Enemuwe

Poetry collection

4.5/5 stars

I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Wow. Some of these poems were really powerful and resonated with me. The first poem, "oluwatemilorun" about the author's name, was one of my favorites. I love the tackling of mental health, race/identity, emotion, politics, and more (and in a really skillful way).

A few poems didn't resonate with me, but that's to be expected with a collection

Solace in Makarska by T.D. Ward

4/5 stars

I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.

A solid *short* novella that’s spicy with fake dating, second chance romance, and a Happily Ever After. The protagonists are college aged, cis-gendered, straight, and (?) interracial.

What I liked: it was nice and short but still satisfying. The characters were likable and still have both flaws and strengths. Overall the writing was well-done. I love the epilogue, including the happily ever after and the themes it brought to the story. I love fake dating tropes, and loved that it was explained why it was necessary.

What I wish was different: some of the dialogue was a bit on-the-nose (ie at the beginning, Sage talking to her friend about her family, saying things like “hard-headed Jacob”). The tsunami felt a little unrealistic but I’m ok overlooking that. The spicy scenes were ok, although some of the word choices didn’t work for me (which I think is a common, and individual-preference, problem in romance).

The Little Blue Door by Fracesca Catlow

3/5 stars

I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.

The writing wasn't my style-- I would have loved for the beginning to have more tension and the dialogue to be a little less on-the-nose.

Overall, its a solid beach read with some more emotionally charged elements, twists and turns, and themes larger than just finding love which I appreciate. I also thought the story got stronger as it went on, in part because of the added tension, characterization, and editing.

Interview with author Granthana Sinha


A little bit about Granthana on the writing front ―

With her debut psychological mystery thriller novel, 'If Shadows Could Tell' & her sci-fi mystery short, ‘Addressed To Her'― Granthana has perhaps taken the very first step toward merging her passion with her profession. Both her novel & the short story are currently available across the globe on all major online bookstores including Amazon, Amazon Kindle, Pothi, Barnes & Noble, Scribd, Kobo, Apple Books, Google Books, Smashwords.

You can also check out some of her gripping mysteries ‘Where Did He Go?’ and ‘White Sherwani, Blue Lehenga’, which were ‘Editor’s Picks' & published on the homepage of Juggernaut Books. Her psychological thriller 'The Unrelated Murders' was a winner of the Juggernaut SELECTS program, 2019 (feel free to give it a quick read on the Juggernaut app/website :) ). Some of her soulful poems have also been published as part of ‘Sea – an anthology of poems', which is currently available worldwide on all major platforms.

Other tiny pieces of info ―

The author also happens to be a book reviewer, vlogger, as well as a certified Graphic-Web designer and Digital painter.

She lives with her family in Kolkata, and in her spare time, enjoys painting, traveling and solving cryptography puzzles.

Want to connect with her or read her books?....Find all links here:

1. Praise for 'If Shadows Could Tell' :

"A mystery thriller which will keep you hooked until the very end." –Alexandra Antipa (author of 'M is for Mother' & several other much-loved books)

"Wow. Just wow.

This was a stunning murder mystery novel with a psychological twist." –Julie Eman (book blogger & reviewer at Goodreads, Amazon & Julie's Bookshelf Adventures blog)

"I would recommend this book and will definitely look for more work by the

same author." –Louise Hallett (book reviewer & blogger at Goodreads, Life In The Book Lane blog)

"Intrigue, plots twists and totally brilliant unexpected ending!

If you enjoy a good psychological thriller I would highly recommend this book." –Brenda (avid reader and amazon reviewer)

2. Synopsis of 'If Shadows Could Tell':

When Janet Clay's body is found in a local gym pool, every authority dismisses it as just another case of drug-overdose.

Ridden by the guilt of not being able to save the young journalist while she still had a chance ― Aurora Steller visits the memorial service ― only to end up suspecting that things aren't as simple as they appear. Her determination to find out the truth, only draws her further into an intricate web of greed and deceit ― where some will stop at nothing to protect their well-crafted masks. With several events unfolding around her, it becomes terrifyingly clear that more lives might have been lost already. Suddenly, her beautiful, sleepy little town seems to be harvesting some sinister secrets; every fact seems tainted with lies; everyone she loves is in mortal danger.

With no evidence, no witness and very few allies, Aurora must risk everything, including her own life, to uncover the truth and bring justice to the numerous shattered lives, before it's too late...

3. Q&A with the Author :

Q: Where did you get the idea for the book? Any personal connection that drove you to write this (hopefully not the homicide and mortal-danger-to-everyone part)? A: I love writing stories with twist endings. So for me, it's usually the idea of the twisty end that comes first, even before I start with the actual story. For this book, the 'big' twist at the end (trying my best to avoid spoilers!) – was what got me started. The whole idea for the tale, kind of developed from there. As for personal connections – the story of course, is fictional. Thankfully! However, as a writer, I think some of my own personal choices and preferences have rubbed off on Aurora (the protagonist of the story) – like her choice of being a vegan. Also, fictional places like Zircon Drops and Rosavale are actually based on the beautiful town of Whitefish, Montana – the hometown of one of my best friends.

Q: What was the writing process like for you (timeline, schedule, etc)? A: I never follow a set schedule for writing. I feel any moment of the day, when your minds drifts back to your story – is also the right time to pen it down. There have been days where I've written a whole chapter within an hour or so; whereas some days have been anything but productive. But I always believe a story cannot be rushed. It flows in its own pace. This novel in particular, took me round about two months to pen down. Q: Can you tell me a bit about the books' publishing process? A: 'Publishing' – is always the most strenuous part of writing a book! With this being my debut novel, I was naturally very new to the whole copyrighting, editing and publishing process. I checked with professionals, but theory is always way different than reality. I admit, I did receive misleading information and nobody seemed to have all the answers. Because of some 'not-so-pleasant' experiences with getting my book edited – the release of my novel had an unfortunate setback. It got delayed by several months. Since going through with traditional publishing was going to delay it further – I tried getting it done through publishers who offered self-publishing packages. That again was a completely wrong choice. In the end, I decided to get fully involved in the copyrighting & publishing process, at every step of the way. With the help of multiple online services and immense amount of research, I got my book out there. But of course, the whole journey has given me a deep insight into it all. It's like they say – "nothing beats your own experiences".

Q: What do you hope to accomplish with your book? A: Like every author out there – I definitely hope my book receives the love of readers. As an author, you can put in your 100% into the story, but it's always the readers – who are the final judge. So, their opinions are something I always pay a close attention to. Q: Anything you're currently working on now? How has the pandemic affected that, if at all? A: I'm currently working on my next novel – the first one of a high-fantasy trilogy. It's going to release sometime in December this year and hopefully it's going to be something all fantasy fans will love. With restrictions in place for travelling and other outdoor activities, I got more time to focus on my writing than before. That's possibly the only upside of this otherwise devastating pandemic. Q:I see you do graphic design and digital painting. Does that work transfer to your writing or publishing at all? A: Designing, like writing – is an expression of your self. When I create a digital art, I like to create it based on a backstory. The viewer may not know it – but it's there for me as an artist. It's there for reference. Even with writing, I tend to visualize a scene first before I actually write it down. Both the mediums help in reflecting my imagination. Even on the technical front – being able to work with designing softwares, helps me a lot in designing promotional content for my books.

Q: How can readers connect with you? A: They can find me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Goodreads and Youtube. I love connecting with my readers and it always feels great whenever someone takes their time out to share their thoughts about my books. Connect with me and read my books:

Interested in submitting your book for review and/or requesting an interview? Contact me.

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