A Free Dreamer Release Day Review: I’m Not Who You Think I Am by Felicitas Ivey

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Mykayla’s parents’ marriage is in trouble, but they’re working on it. Unfortunately for Mykayla, that means she’s getting shipped off to Boston to spend her summer with Uncle Yushua while they work out their issues. Mykayla has issues of her own-like her confusion about her sexuality, or apparent lack of it-that she’d like to explore alongside her best friend, Xiu. The situation at her uncle’s house is weird to say the least. There’s something off about his coworkers-aside from the fact that they won’t go away. Things go from strange to stranger when a supernatural being shows up to protect Mykayla from someone he calls the Shadow Pharaoh. Sutekhgen is a sorcerer who never made it to the afterlife, with a huge Set Beast as a companion… and the mistaken assumption that Mykayla is the reincarnation of his lost romantic partner. She doesn’t know what’s worse: being caught in a metaphysical conflict between ancient gods or being stuck with a pushy jerk who doesn’t know the meaning of personal boundaries.

“I’m Not Who You Think I Am” was a bit of a mixed bag for me. There were some elements I really enjoyed and others I didn’t really care for.

I haven’t seen a lot of books that mix old Egyptian mythology and urban fantasy, so this was a nice change. While I’m not completely ignorant of Egyptian history and religion, I’m hardly an expert and I did feel a little bit lost at times. Sometimes the in-depth on page research actually bordered on info-dump for me and it was hard to keep track of all the facts.

Mykayla is a girl after my tastes. She thinks museums are just as interesting as bookshops and can easily spend hours there without getting bored. That made me like her immediately. She’s also obsessed with knitting and still struggling a bit with her asexuality. Or rather, how and who to tell about it. She did get a little bit annoying toward the end, with her seemingly endless internal rants about sexism and how she was very much NOT attracted to anybody.

Her best friend Xiu was kind of annoying from the beginning. She never shuts up and kind of refuses to accept Mykayla’s asexuality. She’s the only person who knows about it and yet she keeps going on about how she wants to date Mykayla. It seemed quite insensitive to me, even if it was passed off as a sort of running gag. Plus, she acted awfully mature for a 15-year-old and not at all how I think a normal teenager would behave.

The adults were also very lenient towards the two teenagers. Who allows two 15-year-olds to go out alone at 11pm to have a coffee at the train station of a big city? And Mykayla’s parents were extremely neglectful. They weren’t abusive or anything, but they just seemed to not be as concerned about her as I’d expect. They’re actually somewhat important to the story, even if they don’t get all that much on-page time. That was actually a nice change from the usually absent parents of the YA genre.

I did like the fantasy elements and the scenes with Sutekhgen and his adorable Set Beast. Kudos to the author for creating two truly unique animal characters in this story. I’m still halfway convinced Yushua’s cat is secretly not a cat at all, but a shapeshifter or something like that. I think the animals were my favourite characters of the entire book.

Not a lot actually happens here. There’s one big event pretty early on, followed by lots of talking and research, and then there’s another big event toward the end. I didn’t quite understand the big reveal at the end, tbh.

Overall, I did find “ I’m Not Who You Think I Am” a mostly rather entertaining read. It does have its ups and downs, though, and it was far from a “great read” for me. I do believe there’s going to be a part two, the overall story arc definitely isn’t done just yet, even if there was no horrible cliffhanger at the end. I’m not sure if I want to read the sequel, yet.

I’m not a huge fan of the cover by Tiferet Design. While the cover model definitely has the right hair and skin tone, she just doesn’t look like she’s 15. Plus, I’m fairly sure Mykayla didn’t wear make up. I do like the font that was used for the title, though.

Sales Links:   Harmony Ink Press | Barnes & Noble | Amazon

Book details:

eBook, 200 pages

Expected publication: March 19th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press LLC

A Lucy Audiobook Review: The Secret of the Sheikh’s Betrothed by Felicitas Ivey and Simon Ferrar (Narrator)

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Rated 3 stars out of 5

Fathi is uber-rich, running the family business to the point where that is all he has – working.  His grandfather doesn’t like that and when it turns out that Fathi has been betrothed since childhood to a woman from their region, what is he to do? He’s never come out to grandfather and he doesn’t want to lose his place in the company.   Fathi went to college in New York and he worked out that he is gay but since Grandfather is an old school man from the Middle East, that wouldn’t be accepted.  So he is quiet about it and look where it gets him.  He ends up engaged to Ikraam, the victim of an abusive older system, who isn’t all he seems. The two of them are so confused when they are attracted to each other and the secrets are kept.  You know that something has to give and eventually it does. 

Let’s talk about Ikraam’s sister.  Talk about devil spawn.  She is completely evil. Not only did she try to marry off her niece to a rapist, but I wanted to much more to happen to her for the atrocities she committed to her brother.  It was difficult at time to read the abuse Ikraam was put through by that evil witch.  I was so glad that Fathi turned out to be a caring, responsible person.  Even though he knew he wouldn’t be a true husband to his “wife”, he still wanted to take care of her and make her life a good one.   

I did wonder how the fact that Ikraam has been raised and treated as a female (and a second class one at that) for all his life would be addressed but it really wasn’t.  It was accepted and he would be she outside the home, he inside.  In the culture this story is set that made me question the wisdom because if society there wouldn’t accept gay, are they going to accept this?

I can say something that brought down the rating for me was the treatment of Fathi’s secretary, an educated woman who worked hard, was very professional and did nothing wrong (other than fall in love with her boss)  but who really was shamed by both Fathi and Ikraam by the end.  Made me sad and made them less sympathetic.   There aren’t any decent women portrayed here and to shame this poor woman just for being modern and trying to be something besides an ornament or abused was appalling.

The audiobook runs just over five hours and is narrated by Simon Ferrar.  I felt he did a great job with differentiating voices and accents.  I do think had I read this, as opposed to listening to it, my rating would have been lower.  He brought life to the story and even the things that I had issues with.

The cover, by Bree Archer, shows the elegant Fathi against a desert background and fits my idea of what Fathi looked like.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner PressAmazon | Audible| iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Audible Audio
Published March 14th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ASINB07BFHB19B
Edition LanguageEnglish

Felicitas Ivey On Plotting Novels and her latest release The Secret of the Sheikh’s Betrothed (author guest post)

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The Secret of the Sheikh’s Betrothed by Felicitas Ivey
Dreamspinner Press

Cover Artist: Bree Archer

Available for Purchase at Dreamspinner Press

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Felicitas Ivey on tour for her novel The Secret of the Sheikh’s Betrothed. Welcome, Felicitas.

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On Plotting Versus Pantzing by Felicitas Ivey

A lot of people, mostly my family and co-workers, ask me how I get my ideas for my novels and short stories. I do refrain from telling them I get a once a month delivery of ideas from super secret source, and just tell them ideas come from everywhere around you. I’ve written a couple of novels just to have my characters run around odd sections of Boston. Most of time I write a novel or a story, it’s because I have one idea I was able to get a short story or a novel from that idea.

I have a novel I’m working on, one plotted and I start working on the next one when an idea strikes me. The novel I’m working on is a gothic romance. The novel I’m plotting out right now is a romantic horror/suspense one.  I don’t know if it’s going to go anywhere, but plotting is half the fun of writing. I have a friend and we bounce ideas off of each other all the time, in person or over a chat program if we’re at work. Sometimes I get shower or driving ideas and I try to write them down before I forget them.

I used to be a pantser, and now I’m slowly trying to plot out things, so if I get ‘stuck’ I can go on to something else in the novel. Aside from plotting, I try to work on only one novel at a time. The best advice I ever heard was to ‘Not cheat on your novel with another one’. Or only concentrate on one thing at a time and don’t multitask several stories at once, writing-wise. I have edited novels while writing other things, and it was a little disorienting.

With plotting a novel or a short story, I use two methods so not be a pantser. The Marshall Plan by Evan Marshall has a system of X number of sheets per book, depending on the length of the book, is it a romance, how many viewpoint characters and things like that. I’ve figured out one sheet is about 12-1500 words, depending on what’s happening in the novel or short story then. And the sheets have helpful labels about whose the viewpoint character at the time and how many sheets they get. It’s fairly easy if you follow the plot you’ve laid out. I still wander take a left turn at Albuquerque sometimes and wander away from the plot.

What I don’t like is his character sheets. They’re interesting, but not my cuppa. What I use is Karen Wiesner’s ‘First Draft in 30 Days’ character sheets. They’re in a format I’m more comfortable with, more like writing a draft then filling out the small boxes the Marshall Plan uses. You can write out several paragraphs of back history, likes and dislikes very easily.

My next novel, I’m treating it like a roleplaying game, filling out character sheets for the main characters. It should be an interesting experiment. It’s a romantic horror novel, set in rural New England. New England is a great place to set horror.

I set most of my work in New England, since that’s where I grew up and lived all my life. And you can tell I’m a Boston girl as soon as I open my mouth, since I have the accent wicked bad. I’ve spent a lot of vacations in Northern Vermont also, so I’m familiar with the area and like to set some of my work there.

I’m trying to be more productive writer, but there is only so many hours in the day. Plotting and prep work do make the process faster, so I’m trying to lose my pantsers ways.

Blurb

Billionaire Fathi al-Murzim is a workaholic businessman, too busy running the family’s companies to even think about marriage. Too bad he never told his grandfather he’s gay, because Grandfather just announced a childhood betrothal—to a Bedouin girl Fathi never heard about before…

Ikraam din Abdel was raised as a woman by his avaricious and abusive older sister, who didn’t want him to be their father’s heir. He’d never thought to be married either, and is surprised when his sister informs him of his betrothal.

When Fathi and Ikraam meet, they are drawn to each other in a manner neither of them expected. As the plans for their wedding progress, they both realize they need to tell the other the truth. But can they, with both cultural taboos and family pressures to deal with.

About the Author

Felicitas is a frazzled help-desk tech at a university in Boston who wishes people wouldn’t argue with her when she’s troubleshooting what’s wrong with their computer. She lives with three cats who wish she would pay more attention to them, and not sit at a computer pounding on the keyboard. They get back at her by hogging most of the bed at night and demanding her attention during the rare times she watches TV or movies. She’s protected by her guardian stuffed Minotaur, Angenor, who was given to her by her husband, Mark. Angenor travels everywhere with her, because Felicitas’s family doesn’t think she should travel by her lonesome. They worry she gets distracted and lost too easily. Felicitas doesn’t think of it a getting lost, more like having an adventure with a frustrated GPS.

Felicitas knits and hoards yarn, firmly believing the one with the most yarn wins. She also is sitting on hordes of books, which still threaten to take over her house, even with e-books. Between writing and knitting, she brews beer, wine, mead, and flavored liqueurs. Felicitas also bakes, making cakes whenever she needs to work out an issue in her novels. Sometimes this leads to a lot of cakes. Her coworkers appreciate them though, with the student workers buzzing about on a sugar high most of the time.

Felicitas writes urban fantasy, steampunk, and horror of a Lovecraftian nature, with monsters beyond space and time that think that humans are the tastiest things in the multiverse. Occasionally there’s a romance or two involved in her writing, with a happily-ever-after.

Website: www.Felicitasivey.com

Facebook: felicitasivey

Twitter: @felicitasivey

Email: felicitas.ivey@gmail.com

A MelanieM Release Day Review: The Secret of the Sheikh’s Betrothed By Felicitas Ivey

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Rating: 2 stars out of 5

A billionaire and a Bedouin girl—each with a shocking secret.

Billionaire Fathi al-Murzim is a workaholic businessman, too busy running the family’s companies to even think about marriage. Too bad he never told his grandfather he’s gay, because Grandfather just announced a childhood betrothal—to a Bedouin girl Fathi never heard about before.

Ikraam din Abdel was raised as a woman by his avaricious and abusive older sister, who didn’t want him to be their father’s heir. He’d never thought to be married either, and is surprised when his sister informs him of his betrothal.

When Fathi and Ikraam meet, they are drawn to each other in a manner neither of them expected. As the plans for their wedding progress, they both realize they need to tell the other the truth. But can they, with both cultural taboos and family pressures to deal with?

Well.  Normally the Dreamspun Desires line just does it for me.  I love their twists on those old familiar storylines we read in our romances or saw in our movies.  But The Secret of the Sheikh’s Betrothed By Felicitas Ivey either came out at the wrong time or the author was not truly cognizant of the messages she seems to be sending here with her storyline and threads.  I found myself reading, then going back to double check to see if certain passages really portrayed women so badly (yes in my opinion), then braced myself to continue reading all the way to the end where the author finished her story with a lasting moment that left me wishing I had never picked this story up.  Honestly, I think I’m kind with a 2 rating.

But onto the particulars.

Why does this story upset me so?

Well barebones, it’s about a traditional bedouin man whose birth upset his sister’s control of the tribe.  She forced his mother (a secondary or minor wife) to raise his as a girl in the large harem where his identity as a male remained unknown even to him under his mother’s care.  Basically a servant, an agreement will see him married off to a Sheikh’s son, an arrangement the sister will hope to get him killed while getting her money.  If that’s not awful enough, there’s an ugly side story about his niece who the sister intends to marry off to a rapist/thug.

Yes, it has a happy ending, the niece gets saved.  The tribe goes back to the desert and Fathi and Ikraam are happy.  So why am I sort of nauseated?

Neither niece or Ikraam, the man who has been raised as a woman  can read or seen any sort of modern existence. He has no idea what it means to be a man actually other than how his tribe defines it. Yet, the author seems to raise them both higher in esteem than any modern Arabian woman mentioned.  There are several scenes here with Fathi’s secretary.  She is modern, dresses so while keeping to societal standards for the office.  She is striving for a career while having a major crush on her boss, who doesn’t set her straight mind you, letting her continue to assume about his feelings.

Much is made of her makeup, hair and clothing as though it’s a bad thing.  Really, this poor character exists for only one purpose. She’s that compare and contrast vehicle!  And that’s so that at the end when Ikraam, dressed in all his new traditional Bedouin and extremely female marriage finery (each clothing is listed, coins glittering) corrects the poor girl about how to address her/his husband.  All the family gather around this wonderful Bedouin married ‘woman’ and help her humiliate the secretary completely in letting her know yes, her boss is now married to a traditional woman, so “quit, your job, honey.” And they all have a good laugh as the girl basically runs out of the office, shamed in front of all her co workers.  Never mind that she was a hard worker, did a great job and was well educated.  Nope,  clearly a makeup wearing, high heeled tramp!  Grandfather was quite clear on his feelings about that. What a nasty little scene that was.  Ikraam happily continues his existence appearing to be a woman in the traditional Arabian cultural role.

Yes women are the evil ones here.  From the sister who beat Ikraam to that poor secretary, all the responsibility falls on the woman’s shoulders.  Men?  Pretty passive.  That thug/rapist?  Given a donkey or something and sent off back to the tribe to marry again.  The sister?  She remains in control because she purposely married a weak man.  The totally ‘by the books, loves his old ways’ grandfather does something totally out of character (had to for the novel) and accepts Fathi and Ikraam’s sexuality. Uh no.  But in face of everything else, that’s minor.

No, it’s still the treatment of women here.  Was it really necessary to bring this element into the story?  Ikraam and niece still can’t read.  How’s he going to fit into his husband’s new world? Explore that!  You didn’t need that secretary at all.  Yes, Ikraam is  basically a “woman” in a man’s body because that’s how he was raised.  That’s a far more interesting idea to investigate that then the paths the author went down.  Ikraam even mentions he had no idea he was a boy until he was much older.  That must have blown his psyche.  But no….let’s go the “new is evil and old/traditional is everything” and do it while throwing women under the bus.

Maybe I shouldn’t take a lighthearted romance this seriously.  But in light of the #MeToo campaigns, of women fighting for the right just to drive cars in Saudi Arabia, of all the fights for rights that seem to be heading backwards these days, surely we don’t need to do it in our fiction as well.  This is one story that just struck me all wrong.  Shrugs.

And now you know why.

Cover art by Bree Archer is nice and has the right backdrop.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 212 pages
Expected publication: November 15th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781635339628
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Stella Advent Calendar Review Day 17: And to All a Good Night by Felicitas Ivey

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RATING 2,75 out of 5 stars

and-to-all-a-good-nightKobbi AAkers was excited to have a traditional family Christmas with his younger sister Franzi, a famous rock star. But instead of the peaceful holiday he had planned, she’s turning it into a televised musical extravaganza, in a desperate bid for publicity.

Kobbi can adapt, especially since the show’s host Wytt Kanard is easy on the eyes and easy to work with, even if he doesn’t believe in Christmas at all. Wytt is alternatively amused and horrified at the simplicity that is Kobbi’s life and the enthusiasm he has for the holiday, all while taking care of his houseful of unexpected guests.

Maybe Kobbi can convince the cynical Wytt that Christmas isn’t an event to be managed, but something special to be shared. Maybe he can muster the courage to confess his attraction and offer Wytt a surprise present.

And to All a Good Night by Felicitas Ivey fell a little short to me. I’m a huge fan of holiday stories, but my problem with this one was I totally missed the Christmas spirit, I’ll be very honest and say the book ended and I didn’t even realize it. I wasn’t ready because it felt like I knew nothing about what was happening. The relationship between the supposed main characters was pretty much nonexistent, not even some building, no chemistry, no attraction, nothing at all.

The only reason why I’m not giving it a lower rating is Kobbi. I liked him a lot, he’s so caring and lovely, it was impossible to not fall under his lovely spell. And his cat? Adorable.

I don’t even like the cover art by Catt Ford, sorry.

Sales Links

        

Book Details:

ebook, 50 pages

Published December 1st 2016 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN 163533179X (ISBN13: 9781635331790)

Edition Language English

A Stella Advent Story Review: Nøtteknekkeren by Felicitas Ivey

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Rating: 3,75 stars out of 5

Notteknekkeren coverThijs and his older brother, Rik, are spending Christmas Eve at their uncle Yvo’s annual gathering. For Thijs, it’s the first time he’s been there in almost a decade.

Thijs has vague memories of the magical Christmases spent with his uncle. But he doesn’t know if the images in his mind of the enchantment that happened while he waited for Santa are dreams, memories, or the product of years of therapy for an accident he doesn’t remember. He just knows when he stopped visiting Uncle Yvo, the dreams stopped too.

Are his dreams of a prince waiting for him every Christmas Eve just dreams? Tonight might finally be Thijs’s chance to learn the truth.

A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2015 Advent Calendar package “Sleigh Ride”.

I admit when I started reading Nøtteknekkeren by Felicitas Ivey I was a little dubious cause in the first part I had not idea where it was going. I’m not saying a lot about it since it was so short and unexpected, I don’t want to spoil it. But I can say it was cute and really, really well written, the reading flew by easily and the characters were all interesting. There were some fairytales elements that gave the story something extra.

The only remark I want to add is that I think this story, as the author wrote it, needed a little more pages to be fully developed, especially in the relationship between our MCs. Nonetheless it was so magical, mysterious, I found myself be captured by it. And the ending was so sweet.

The cover art by L.C. Chase is cute and very fitting.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | All Romance (ARe) | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 55 pages
Published November 30th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ASINB018RSH5YU
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesSleigh Ride – 2015 Advent Calendar
Other Editions (1)
Nøtteknekkeren (2015 Advent Calendar – Sleigh Ride)

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