Stories & Updates

Book Review

“The Lion’s Fake Wife” by Sophie Stern (Book Review)

Have you heard of the amazing author Sophie Stern? If not, be sure to check her out!

I know, what an incredibly biased way to start a book review, but I truly do adore Sophie Stern! Not only are her books always wonderful reads, but she is also an all around awesome person. If you ever have a chance to meet her in person, be sure to stop her table/booth and say “hi”!

Okay, enough fangirling…let’s talk about this book!

“The Lion’s Fake Wife” is the second book in Shifter’s of Rawr County Series (hilarious series name). It follows the story of Basil and Melinda. Basil is a supposed playboy looking to solidify his position in his company, and to do that he needs one thing…a wife! Meanwhile, Melinda is looking for a new start in a secluded place to start recovering from her past. Luckily for her, a sexy Lion shifter is just what the doctor ordered.

I’ve always been a fan of shifters in romance, though I have to say Basil is one of my favorites. Although he is a shifter, he is one with his inner animal and doesn’t exude the more animalistic traits all the time. In fact, he passes very well as a regular guy with some hidden secrets. His inner Lion isn’t one of loud roars and the hunt, but more so the comfort of home and the call of love. And he can be an absolute dork!

I adore a specific scene between Basil (in his lion form) and Melinda — I can’t tell to much because of spoilers — but it was adorable and sweet, in all of the right ways. This book does great at keeping a lovely story going while also showing some wonderful character growth!

Just like the first in the series (“The Polar Bear’s Fake Mate”), this was a wonderful read for a late evening/rainy day. If you are looking to dive into the world of sexy shifters, check out this series! While each book is rather standalone, I would recommend reading them in order, as you do get introduced to characters as you go along.

While you’re waiting for your copy to ship, enjoy this interview by the amazing author herself, Sophie Stern!


SPECIAL INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR SOPHIE STERN

Question 1: “The Lion’s Fake Wife” is the second in a fantastic series about shifters finding love. What inspired the series and the story? What made you choose shifters? (Sorry, two questions in one!) 

I LOVE fake relationship stories and hadn’t seen any with shifters, so I decided to try a new series. Polar bears are one of my favorite shifters to write about, so the series launches with polar bears. The second book is Basil’s story, book two, and I actually let a reader choose his name! I’m glad I did because it’s a great one! I love shapeshifters because they’re so wild and passionate, but also a lot of fun.

Question 2: This story was absolutely adorable. I loved how the characters interacted with each other and had their own voices and styles. Which character was your favorite (or least favorite) to write?

Basil is one of my favorite characters I’ve ever written. I really like how clever he thinks he is, and I love that his mate figures everything out!

Question 3: “The Lion’s Fake Wife” has a few side characters that are previewed, and I loved them all! Are any of them by chance going to be the lead in a later book in the series? 

Yes! Cosmo and Athena just got their story in book six, which recently released. Lincoln also gets his story in book three!

Question 4: You have so many amazing books out, and series. How do you keep everything going and keep the plots organized? Essentially, what is your secret to your amazing stories and success?

A lot of coffee and a lot of time! Generally, I spend at least 40-50 hours each week writing, but to be honest, it’s sometimes more. I often tell people that the secret to writing a lot of books is not having a life. I stand by that!

Question 5: I hope you know, my TBR pile grows every year as I purchase more of your books…so I hesitate to ask (for my sanity and the strength of my bookshelves), but what future projects can we look forward to seeing from you in the future and do you have any events coming up where readers can meet you? 

The last Shifters of Rawr County book will be coming out in July of this year, followed by a really cool series called GRIMALKIN NEEDS BRIDES! That’s going to be part of the Intergalatic Dating Series world, so I’m really excited about it! As for events, I’ll be at Writers on the River and Romance Rendezvous Book Blast, and I’d love to see people at both of those incredible events!

Be sure to check out all of Sophie’s works and platforms! And if you are in the area for Writers on the River and Romance Rendezvous Book Blast, be sure to stop by and purchase a copy (and get it signed) by Sophie herself!

Events

Indie Author Book Expo (Peoria, Il)

This Saturday is the Indie Author Book Expo in Peoria, Illinois! I can’t wait for the event, especially since it is so close to my hometown. I know a few family and friends will be stopping by and it will be so great to see everyone, since I haven’t had a chance to go back home for a while.

There will be so many amazing authors at the event, so I’m really excited to meet them all. I actually don’t think I’ve met any of the other authors before, so perhaps I will leave with more writing friends! I’m also pretty excited as there seems to be a good mix of genres, so it should have something for everyone and perhaps something for my table assistant — my husband. Sadly, he isn’t a big reader of the romance genre, so we will see if he finds something to read while there!

I don’t have any prep pictures to share with you this time. Sorry! Admittedly, I kinda just kept things packed up as I knew the turn around on the event dates was pretty quick. I will, of course, have all of my books present and many, many fun swag items.

And a bonus incentive to attend…I will have deals and discounts for those of you who come to purchase the books in person! As well as new swag items and fun activities at my table. Like the new prize wheel — which we will all cross our fingers and hope it spins something other than a 5 (I only have so many heart shaped stress balls!).

I hope you all will consider attending. It will surely be a great event with lots of fun new books to add to your TBR pile! Be sure to check out the authors (listed below) and see if there are any books you are interested in!

Until next time, happy reading!

~Shanna

General News and Updates

New Swag Items

I’m so excited author season has kicked off! I have so many fun events I’ll be attending (either as an author or a reader) and I can’t wait to meet some new bookish friends. As we went into the season, my husband and I got to brainstorming about swag and giveaways.

My table at Indie Author Book Expo, Mason City.

Those of you who have been at my table in the past have probably seen the “raffle basket”, where if you purchase a book or sign-up for my newsletter, you get entered for a raffle. We decided to do things a little differently this year for two reasons:

One: What if people don’t like the raffle basket?

Two: Not everyone gets a fun item.

So, we decided to do… A Prize Wheel!

This is a picture of the “old” prize wheel. You’ll have to wait for the next event to see the new one!

My husband decided to handmake a prize wheel for me. It was cute and I loved it…but it only spun the number 5. It was really funny — and we went through A LOT of stress balls! So we broke down and bough a professional one.

But of course, having a prize wheel means having more prize options. So what can you expect at the event?

As you can see, I have had to organize a few things. We have reusable totes and pencil bags (which I made with my cricut), stress balls, door hangs, coasters, bookmarks, and keychains (just to name a few)! We are working on adding a few new things too, but haven’t gotten them finalized yet. Most of the items my husband and I are making by hand, which is a lot of fun (though it can be time intensive).

In addition, we are making items to sell, like runes, tarot cards, and meditation stones. We have really enjoyed doing resin pouring, but don’t have an outlet for items we make, so we decided to sell them!

This last long weekend, we spent doing MASSIVE resin pours to get ahead of the game a little bit. It was my first big pour–which was fun but man did my arm feel like falling off afterwards! We tried out a lot of new molds and techniques. All we need to do now is sand edges and paint things.

Some of the items won’t be as prize wheel items or at my table, as they are too big or we feel they are too niche of an item (Like the little potion bottles), so we decided to reopen our etsy store (it’s open but nothing is listed yet)! The other items will be swag items — such as those fancy new book holders, pens, and cool keychains!

Needless to say, I have been crafting most nights when I get home from work in preparation for my next event (which is in two weeks!). I’ll be sure to post more pictures on my social media of the items once they are finished, so be sure to check them out!

Until next time, happy reading and happy crafting!

Shanna Pikora

Book Review

“Fake to Fate” by Anastasia Austin (Book Review)

Looking for a fun, easy read to get you back into the swing of reading again? Looking for a book filled with laughter, fun, and a happily ever after? “Fake to Fate” by Anastasia Austin is just right for you!

Admittedly, this is the second book in Anastasia’s Fate Series that I have read. The first was…

Oh yes, you read that correct! “Call of Booty”! A book that not only had me laughing (and purchasing) it on sight but also three other members of my family group who were at the event (Romance Rendezvous Book Blast – if you want to meet Anastasia in person!). I fell in love with the little prequel novella that I knew I had to purchase book one, “Fake to Fate”.

While in the same universe, the books were standalone, so you could read them in any order. I found them both unique and lovely reads, perfect after a hard day at work. There is such hilarity, especially in “Fake to Fate”. Who would have guessed a wrong number, plus a funny answering prank, plus an ex-bf would cause such chaos and love.

“Fake to Fate” was genuinely heartwarming and it left me grinning from ear to ear (though a little sad it ended so quickly!). Our leading lady, Stephanie, is an introvert who just wants some food – I can relate. When she calls for takeout, she is met with a rather interesting greeting from Roland, a sweet cinnamon roll character that makes you swoon.

These two work together so wonderfully, even though they are rather different individuals. Through a series of hilarious and sometimes unfortunate events, romance blossoms and leads to a steamy happily ever after.

What I loved about “Fake to Fate” and “Call of Booty” is how easily it was to fall into the story. I felt like I knew the characters before, as I resonated with their personalities or their personal struggles. Anastasia Austin wrote a wonderful story and I can’t wait to read book 2 of the series!

Be sure to check out Anastasia Austin and her other works. You can find her at her website, Facebook, and Instagram.


Get to know Anastasia Austin better from her interview below!

Question 1: “Fake to Fake” and “Call of Booty” are wonderful reads that make you smile and giggle along the way. What inspired you to write this story?

Fake to Fate came from an idea that I had tucked away. Originally, Stephanie worked in a call center and Roland’s number came up. But it was too unrealistic that she would have access to his phone number to call him back, so they met IRL and recognized each other’s voices. Which was cute, but also not super likely after only one short call. So, I changed it to the wrong number and had her call him back when she needed help getting rid of her ex. Call of Booty grew from the scene when she walks in on him gaming and she ends up spending late nights up with him as his good luck charm.

Question 2: Who was your favorite character to write? I know you aren’t supposed to pick your favorite…but let’s be honest…who’s your favorite? 

Of all my characters? Apollo. He’s probably the most like me. Talks a lot without thinking first. In Fake to Fate, Roland was a lot of fun to write. My first time writing in a male POV and I loved it! He’s the reason I wanted to keep writing romance.

Question 3: I loved the chance meeting and then follow up calls between the characters. How did you decide that a accidental typo led to a wonderful romance? Have you ever had a wrong number be hilarious like our main characters?

Whoops! I think I already answered this in your first question. Unfortunately, I’ve never experienced this myself. Not that I can remember. My memory is garbage! 

Question 4: Writing a series isn’t easy, even if all the books stand alone. How do you keep track of all those details, names, and characters?

So… garbage memory and yet I keep terrible notes! 😂 It’s a wonder there’s any consistency in my series! I do my best using Evernote. A notebook for each series and several notes for each book. I’ve tried making series bibles… But I procrastinate too much and get overwhelmed and give up. 😂

Question 5: Do you have any upcoming releases? What can we look forward to seeing from you in the future?

I just had a release on April 30, 2022! CANDY was my first dark romance. It’s not super dark but certainly darker than my other books. But always a happily ever after! Up next? I’m not sure. I have a lot of things going. Some sequels to stand-alones I’ve already released. Some shifter and omegaverse stories! I think it all depends which characters are the loudest to get their book finished first!  

Be sure to check out “Fake to Fate”, “Call of Booty”, and all of the other wonderful novels by Anastasia Austin!

Happy Reading!

Events

2022 Author Events

I’m so excited to share with all of you that I will be at a few different events this year!

The first events are Indie Author Book Expos! These events are for indie authors to get together and share their love for writing, publishing books, and to share their stories with everyone. What I love about these events are they aren’t geared towards just romance authors, but a variety of genres and book types. If you are looking for a fun event, these ones will surely be ones to keep an eye out for! You can get more information from their Facebook pages.

I’m so happy to also be returning to Romance Rendezvous Book Blast this year! As you all know, this is my favorite event of the year and the organizer is so amazing!

I remember attending years ago when it was a smaller event. I’m so happy to see it grow each year, as there are always amazing authors and raffle prizes! If you’re in the cedar valley area for that event, I can’t recommend it enough! Be sure to stop by and say hi at my table, as I always have fun swag and prizes as my table for this event!

My last event for the 2022 will be Authors on the Riverwalk. You all may recall I was supposed to sell at this event last year, but due to COVID it had to be canceled. So hopefully we can still have it this year!

I’ve never been to this event before, but I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things! I can’t wait to see you all there!

Be sure to go on Facebook and mark if you are going to these events to receive updates! A lot of them do giveaways and raffle baskets, so it’s always a fun time! Not to mention you get to meet all the authors and buy plenty of books to read for the following months.

I can’t wait to see you all then! I have some new things I will be doing at my table — including a prize wheel for special swag, new hookmarks, and other fun items. Be sure to stop by and say hello!

~Shanna Pikora