Excerpt: Snow City by G. A. Kathryns


Excerpt & Spotlight (1).pngToday I am pleased to share an excerpt from the magical realism book by G.A. Kathryns, Snow City.

About Snow City

G. A. Kathryns is an award-winning author of novels and short stories. Her latest release SNOW CITY is a novel of hope and magical realism.

SNOW CITY is a dreamlike journey into the life of a woman who has given up on a dystopian reality and fabricated her idea of a perfect dream world. And then one day she wakes up in that fantasy world…

Snow City Front Cover (1)bkreviewtemp1 (3)

Snow City
By G.A. Kathryns
Publisher: Sycamore Sky Books
Genre: Magical Realism



Her name is Echo Japonica, and she lives in Snow City. But she was not always Echo, and she did not always live in Snow City. Somewhere else, she was someone else, and it was to Snow City that she fled in order to escape a place and a self that had at last become intolerable.

For Snow City is a dream — Echo’s dream — of a better place, an idealized place, a place of both anonymity and fulfillment. It is, for Echo, a haven of peace, a refuge, a sanctuary.

But Snow City remains, nonetheless, a dream, and dreams, being such fragile things, can so easily shade into nightmare…

Purchase: Amazon.com  Amazon UK


Excerpt from Chapter 3

“Good evening,” I say. I do not have to see her. I know she is there. “My name is Echo Japonica.”

“H-hello…” comes the uncertain reply. “Have you been following me?”

“I have not. But I knew where you would be.”


“I saw you here on a previous occasion.” I do my best to keep my voice noncommittal. “You were standing in the rain in the daylight, and now you are standing in the rain in the night. It is not right that you be out alone in the dark and the wet. So I wonder…”

I risk a glance at her. Yes: in the rain and at night. But not a drop of water on her.

“…I wonder whether I might once again be so bold as to offer you the sharing of an umbrella.”

Her voice drifts out of the dim alley like a distant hand groping through miles of mist. “Why?”

“Because you are a child.”

The hot denial comes quickly. “I’m not a child!”

I nod, sighing. I should have expected it. “And I, for my part, find it difficult upon occasion to believe that I am an adult. But,
leaving aside the question of our respective ages: share an umbrella with me, I pray, and I will see you home directly.”

“I…I don’t…”

I sense — no, I know — what she is a about to say, and it frightens me. Has Snow City fallen so far? Frayed so terribly? Raveled so completely?

“…I…don’t have a home.”

Homeless, then? Horror follows horror. This should not — cannot — be happening here.

“I mean,” the girl goes on, her words spilling forth in fits and starts, “I’ve got a home, and I’ve got a family. But they don’t…they
don’t want me. They turned me out. They told me…they told me to go away and never come back.”

I stare at her. Well-spoken, polite…vulnerable, perhaps, but with an edge of determination, she seems so unlikely a candidate for abandonment that for the better part of a minute I can find no words with which to reply.

“What about friends?” I manage at last.

“They run away…now.”

Which explains the scene I witnessed the other day: the students’ uneasy expressions, the agonized guilt of the older sister.
I cannot let this happen. Unbidden, I step into the alley and, uninvited, shield the girl with my umbrella…which appears to be
entirely superfluous: there is not a speck of water on her save for the tears trickling down her cheeks.

Has nobody spoken to her like this before, asked these questions, offered the slightest shred of help, of comfort?

What is happening?

“Child,” I say, “regardless of your family, regardless of your friends” — We are face to face, almost touching. I have never allowed anyone else in Snow City such intimate proximity. I never dreamed that I would ever permit such a thing. — “you surely cannot be living on the street.”

Anger flares…accompanied by a kind of vague shame. “Stop calling me a child. My name is Charity. I’m sixteen years old and I’m not a child!” And then: “And in any case, I’m…

She looks away quickly.

“…I’m not living anywhere now. At least…not…not really living.”

I stare at her.

“There was an accident,” she says, the water falling all around and she dry in spite of it. “In January. A car. I was killed.” She
lifts those green eyes to me, and I see in them what I, concerned until now only with surface appearances and bare facts, did not see before: a window into unknown depths, into abysses of knowledge that lie beyond all dreams, all nightmares, all imaginings.

“I…” I stare, stupid and bewildered.

“Don’t you see?” she demands. “I’m dead. I’m a ghost.”

The tears take her then, and she begins to sob uncontrollably.

Author Bio

G.A. Kathryns grew up on the West Coast and later on moved to the drier and higher realms of the high plains. She currently makes her home in the Denver metro area where she shares the company of a spouse and two small dogs.

Along with SNOW CITY, she has written a Southern Gothic themed title, THE BORDERS OF LIFE (soon to be reissued in a revised, corrected, and updated version), several pedagogical works devoted to playing the harp, a number of short stories, and a collection of dark fiction.

Follow G.A. Kathryns: Website  Facebook

I would like to thank the author and Book Publicity Services for this opportunity and excerpt!

Happy Reading,

Danielle ❤

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Norma by Sofi Oksanen


normabkreviewtemp1 (3)Norma
By Sofi Oksanen
Translated by Owen F. Witesman
Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
ISBN13: 9780451493521
Pages: 320
Genre: Finnish Literature/Magical Realism



When Anita Naakka jumps in front of an oncoming train, her daughter, Norma, is left alone with the secret they have spent their lives hiding: Norma has supernatural hair, sensitive to the slightest changes in her mood–and the moods of those around her–moving of its own accord, corkscrewing when danger is near. And so it is her hair that alerts her, while she talks with a strange man at her mother’s funeral, that her mother may not have taken her own life. Setting out to reconstruct Anita’s final months–sifting through puzzling cell phone records, bank statements, video files–Norma begins to realize that her mother knew more about her hair’s powers than she let on: a sinister truth beyond Norma’s imagining. As Sofi Oksanen leads us ever more deeply into Norma’s world, weaving together past and present, she gives us a dark family drama that is a searing portrait of both the exploitation of women’s bodies and the extremes to which people will go for the sake of beauty.


Norma was an interesting encounter that occurred during my ongoing efforts to read more translated titles. I cannot say exactly what expectations I had set upon picking it up nor am I certain that they were met. My experience was a complicated one that I am still attempting to sort out.

Norma has a unique attribute. Her hair. It grows at a rapid rate and reacts not only to her own mood, but the mood of those around her. When Norma’s mother suddenly commits suicide, it is this very ability alerts her to the possibility that there is more behind her mother’s death than she has been told. What ensues is a journey to discover the truth and the revelation that perhaps her mother knew more of their shared secret (Norma’s incredible hair) than she told even Norma.

This is a somewhat typical mystery that is heightened by an added dose of magical realism supplied to the reader through Norma’s supernatural hair. Her hair is what defines her, setting her apart from other protagonist. I found this to be a mix of strength and weakness in terms of character development. While this unique feature provides an interesting variant, there was little else here that really made Norma jump off of the page. She was relatable in her grief and isolation, but perhaps not profound. I was comfortable with her, but not astounded. Supporting characters really failed to grow into anything of true interest for myself. They simply co-existed with the story.

The plot does boast some relevant topics that touch on human trafficking and the selling of black market babies that are worth note. However, it all unfolds at a somewhat surreal pace that is hard to describe as rewarding or heavy hitting. Narration is broken down into easily digested chunks that offer a fast read, but also seems to strip away from what I felt could have been a more impactful experience, leaving the reader to question what is really happening at times. The result is awkward and abrupt. I felt engaged but struggled to maintain the connection at times. Perhaps I would have appreciated this more if the author had chosen to place more emphasis on the topics contained within and explored them further. The pacing was ill-timed, dragging on during uneventful moments and skimming through significant revelations. I cannot say how much of my time with Norma was altered due to this being a translated work, but I have found nothing to imply it has not been translated well.

I think many fans of magical realism with an appreciation for the odd and eccentric might enjoy Norma. For myself, it was a mixed bag of emotions that never seemed to fully blossom into something memorable.

Untitled design Enjoyed with a blend of raspberry hibiscus tea.

Purchase Links: Amazon.com Book Depository

Happy Reading,

Danielle ❤

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Smoke City By Keith Rosson – Blog Tour & Excerpt

Today I am thrilled to be sharing an excerpt of Smoke City by Keith Rosson with you, as part of the blog tour hosted by Xpresso Book Tours.  They are also offering an international giveaway for one $25 Amazon gift card. So be sure to enter after reading!

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Smoke City
Keith Rosson
Published by: Meerkat Press
Publication date: January 23rd 2018
Genres: Adult, Magical Realism


Marvin Deitz has some serious problems. His mob-connected landlord is strong-arming him out of his storefront. His therapist has concerns about his stability. He’s compelled to volunteer at the local Children’s Hospital even though it breaks his heart every week.

Oh, and he’s also the guilt-ridden reincarnation of Geoffroy Thérage, the French executioner who lit Joan of Arc’s pyre in 1431. He’s just seen a woman on a Los Angeles talk show claiming to be Joan, and absolution seems closer than it’s ever been . . . but how will he find her?

When Marvin heads to Los Angeles to locate the woman who may or may not be Joan, he’s picked up hitchhiking by Mike Vale, a self-destructive alcoholic painter traveling to his ex-wife’s funeral. As they move through a California landscape populated with “smokes” (ghostly apparitions that’ve inexplicably begun appearing throughout the southwestern US), each seeks absolution in his own way.

Purchase Links:  Amazon / Barnes & Noble


Finally, on a stretch of roadside with the promise of dusk just beginning to blue the carved canyon walls around them, Brophy pulled onto the shoulder. Vale pulled up behind him and they sat like that for some time, the night’s first insects starting to bat themselves against his headlights. Brophy’s brake lights in the dark ahead of him like a pair of sentient red eyes. What is this feeling, he thought. Nothing ever happens the way you plan it. He had fantasized about this moment for years and in his mind it was nothing like this. This was hollow, imbibed only with a sense of inevitability. He shut the van off and listened to the ticking engine for a moment before stepping out, the thin scree rasping at his feet.

Brophy the ghoul. Brophy the Halloween mask. His face was sickly and wretched in the green light from the dashboard, gnarled veins bunched at his temples. Skin stretched tight on his face and bunched loose at his throat, like someone had grabbed the flesh and pulled down hard. Vale wordlessly got in the passenger seat, the door thunking behind him, the night sounds outside immediately hushed. Brophy sat rigid with his hands on the wheel. He had a tiny butterfly bandage above his eyebrow from their scuffle.

Finally, he said, “So what’s going to happen now, Mike?” That drowning, rattling quality of his voice was better, but not by much.

Vale looked down at his splinted hand. “I don’t know,” he said. “I haven’t gotten that far.”

“Do you have a gun? Is that what’s next?”


Brophy rolled his shoulders. A car filled the inside of the Jag with light, moved on.

“You think I fucked you over, right? This is the big showdown. You’ve had this in mind for years. If it wasn’t for me, everything would’ve been wonderful. Your whole life”—he coughed wetly, curling into the steering wheel before righting himself—“like a goddamned music video. Am I right? Am I in the ballpark?”

Vale didn’t say anything.

“Am I close?”

“Come on, Jared. The coke? The crate of booze? The poor, innocent stripper paying her way through college? All that bullshit? You had that contract ready to go. That shit was prepped. You screwed me over.”

Brophy shook his head. “Right. Paying you a million dollars for your work was screwing you.”

“Two or three paintings go for that much now.”

Brophy turned to him then, wolfish, grinning. “Because of me,” he said. He jammed a thumb against his own chest. “You couldn’t even put your fucking pants on without falling over. Drunk all the time. Blackouts. Screwing around on your wife. Your paintings were turning to shit, Mike.”

The thing about Candice cut. “You know what I was doing last week, Jared? Making hot dogs. I wore a hairnet on my beard. Before that I was at a car wash.”

Brophy shrugged. “I don’t know what to tell you. What’s your point? You had a boatload of talent, opportunities guys would kill for, and you pissed on it. Pissed it away.”

“You ruined me,” Vale said, and Brophy’s laughter was brittle and clipped, like gravel flung against glass. It turned into another cough and he pulled a handkerchief from his sport coat and put it to his mouth.

“Spare me,” he rasped. “The hell do you want, Mike?” He tucked his handkerchief back in his pocket. “You want me to say I’m sorry? You want closure? I can’t give you that. I don’t traffic in it, I don’t believe in it.”

“I’m trying to remember if you were always this much of a prick.”

“Get out of my car, Mike. We’re done.”

“I want that contract nullified.”

“Done,” Brophy said. He turned the radio on, some teen pop with bass throbbing like an embolism under it all. “Get out.”

Vale looked at him. “Seriously?”

Brophy’s head jittered in exasperation as he shrugged. “What’d I say? If it’ll get you out of my car. Get a lawyer, draft something in writing, send it to me. First rights to your shit from here on out are yours. Starting now. If you ever pull your head out of a bottle and paint again, which by looking at you seems pretty unlikely, you’ll own them. If you want more than that, we can keep it in court for fucking years. Now get out. I’ve got to get home. I’m sick.”

Vale stepped out. The night was warm, crickets doing their thing around them. Brophy took off, the taillights of the Jag painting the canyon wall red until he rounded a turn and everything was full dark.

Author Bio:
Keith Rosson is the author of the novels The Mercy of the Tide (2017, Meerkat Press) and Smoke City (2018, Meerkat Press). His short fiction has appeared in Cream City Review, PANK, Redivider, December, and more. An advocate of both public libraries and non-ironic adulation of the cassette tape, he can be found at keithrosson.com.
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Happy Reading!

Danielle ❤

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