Audiobook Review – Defy the Night

I’m not going to lie. I was scared to read this book, because I don’t trust sequels. I loved Defy the Night SO much, I was so scared the sequel wouldn’t live up to it. But, it did NOT disappoint. Tessa and Corrick are back and facing new troubles in both the kingdom and their relationship that flow well from the first book and make a lot of sense. The new adventure takes us onto a ship (which I love) with a dashing captain (who I also love), and intrigue and twists to spare. The only two things that fell a little flat for me were the third POV (which I won’t spoil) and I did wish that Tessa had more of a stronger role in this book. I felt like she played more of a supporting/pawn role here than in the first book, but I think it’s set up perfectly for her to come into her own big time in book 3. I also loved the narration of the audiobook—couldn’t put it down—and look forward to the third!


Yay for sequels that deliver!

Thanks for reading!

Book Review – A Curse of Hope and Shadows

I loved Katherine Macdonald’s Thief of Spring duology, so I was absolutely ready to pick up another book for hers. A Curse of Hope and Shadows kind of reminds me of a cross between Beauty and the Beast and Downton Abbey. The romance is sweet and slowburn, and the plot closely shadows the source fairy tale, but (and this is a personal preference) there wasn’t quite enough tension for me. Adeline and Dimitri fall pretty steadily for each other throughout, although at times, I feel like Adeline was a bit motherly toward Dimitri. But as per usual, Macdonald’s writing is gorgeous and her characters are both likable and showcase a lot of depth. I would totally recommend it to anyone looking for a sweet, character-driven Beauty and the Beast retelling.


Give me the frightening, monstery beasts that are something to fear.

Thanks for reading!

Audiobook Review – Book Lovers

Dannnnnng. This was a good friggen book.

Okay. THIS BOOK. This was another one that I came into with big expectations. The hype has been CRAZY, and I loved Beach Read (though not People We Meet on Vacation, so this was an Emily Henry tiebreaker for me.)

And boy, did she deliver. The characters are likable and relatable, they had great chemistry, the concept is fun, and the twists fit perfectly like missing puzzle pieces. One thing I love about this book and Beach Read is that while it is, at its core, a romance, it goes so much deeper than just the relationship and I love the growth her characters undergo in her novels. Her writing is beautiful as she peels back the onion layers of her characters, and I am so here for every word. Also the audiobook narration is fantastic. There is some steam and language so if you’re not into that, beware, but otherwise, I’m recommending this one to all romance fans, and I’ll definitely be picking up Emily Henry’s next book, whatever it is.

My favorite read of the year so far. Five glittering stars.


Eeeee! This one made me so happy!

Thanks for reading!

Book Review – World Departed

I loved Fleming’s Until the End of the World series so I was totally ready to jump back into another novel from this universe. And I have to say, one thing Fleming does AMAZINGLY well is the redemption arc. Seriously, she gets me every time, and I love it. Rose, Clara and Tom were all great, but Craig’s POV kind of fell flat for me here, and while I always felt like Until the End of the World moved really fast, this one seemed to drag on, and I don’t feel like the danger and tension were quite as tense as in the original series. While I probably won’t pick up the sequel, I think I’ll still try out Mordacious, the other series in this universe. Still, if you’re a fan of Until the End of the World, I’d definitely give it a look. More apocalypse zombie fun, just maybe a bit on the slower side.


I love me some zombie books.

Thanks for reading!

NYC Midnight Challenge Entry: Make Lifelong Memories at Camp Chimpoochee!

Make Lifelong Memories at Camp Chimpoochee!

January 2023 (Second Round)
Genre: Comedy
Word: Verge
Action: Shampooing Hair
Time Constraint: 24 hours
Length: 250 words

As I stood in line with the other 300 summer residents of Camp Chimpoochee, the thought of the buxom Nurse Wilmington finding lice in my hair was too embarrassing to even consider. So to say I was severely unprepared when she blared my diagnosis to the world is a gross understatement.

Her biohazard-grade gloves barely touched my head before they jerked back. “My god! It’s a whole nit convention! Linda! I’ve got an infested head here!”

My campmates’ chatter died as all eyes turned to me, and since the earth did not swallow me whole at that moment, I can now say with some authority that prayer doesn’t work. In fact, so spiteful is the universe that I swear time slowed as the camp counselors all independently certified with various levels of enthralled disgust that my hair had indeed turned into a parasite bed and breakfast.

“Are you going to shave my head?” I squeaked, on the verge of tears that would’ve most certainly turned my mortification lethal.

“Oh no, Lice-Away will do the trick.” She raised a brow. “But first, we’ll need a list of your friends.”

I would love to report that I withstood interrogation. That I didn’t sell out my closest companions. But… it was a moment of weakness.

Nonetheless, as the four of us scrubbed our heads with the pungent lice shampoo under Nurse Wilmington’s watchful eye, I can say with utmost certainty that misery does, in fact, love company… just not of the louse variety.

JUDGe’s Feedback

This one placed 5th, just barely squeaking into the final round! But whew! Comedy may be the toughest genre I’ve had yet!


{2104}  Wow, what a funny story. Every line held a nugget of humour for the reader to mine. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Your protagonist’s voice is clear and consistent, as well as realistic. I have met a few pre-teens that talk exactly this way. Your hook was great, as was your concluding line. Extremely well done!  

{1774}  This camper’s descriptions of the situation, the mortification and desire to remain steadfast in not identifying his lousey friends create truly amusing moments. There’s something so amusing about kids being embarrassed … and publicly.  

{2230}  A fun read! These are some creative takes on the prompts for this assignment, to be sure (and an all too relatable situation with those *very* public lice checks..!)  Great descriptiveness and attention to detail throughout; from the mention of the “biohazard-grade” gloves, to the varying degrees of disgust, to the very realization that prayer actually doesn’t work..! Excellent world-building here. Your story perfectly captures the mortification that a kid in that situation would feel, and you have strong comedic sensibilities. A nice button to end your story on, as well, with that line about the “louse variety”! Your story is written very well; kudos!   


{2104}  This is such a well-written story that there is not a lot to critique. I will make one comment, however. I would have liked to have seen some reaction from the friends. Even if they just glared at him through soap bubbles, it would make the final line even more powerful.

{1774}  Nurse Wilmington was described by the narrator as ‘buxom.’ Was the camper crushing on her? It might be amusing to revisit that particular attribute with the campers somehow. Did an ample bra size have any impact in the ‘moment of weakness” experienced by the narrator? 

{2230}  This is a relatively small suggestion… But is there any chance readers could catch a glimpse of this protagonist’s reaction to some of the other students getting lice checks? That intro makes for a nice hook! However, what if the campmate just ahead of them ended up having lice, causing them to pity the poor guy… That is, before they soon realize they have it, themselves (knocking them down a couple pegs..!) In terms of the comedy, this could make for nice status play as the protagonist goes from a high status player, to suddenly lower status. Some excellent humor could be mined from the juxtaposition of their initial pridefulness to their actual vulnerability. But regardless, very nice job crafting your comedic microfiction story; I quite enjoyed reading your work. Thank you for your submission!

Audiobook Review – The Dead Romantics

Okay, so I feel like this book has been crazy hyped, and I loved Ashley Poston’s Geekerella so it’s important to know I came in with some INTENSE expectations. Which were… mostly met. This book is basically like Just Like Heaven (romcom with Mark Ruffalo and Reese Witherspoon—if you haven’t seen it, you should) meets The Adams Family. While the story was charming, the writing is fun, and the characters were likable, the chemistry between them just wasn’t quite there for me, and I knew immediately what the twist was. Still a really solid read I would recommend to all romcom fans out there, but I’m not sure it quite lives up to the super intense hype.


Aw it’s just so cozy!

Thanks for reading!

What to put in your author media kit, press release, & how to email local news outlets.

The first time I encountered the term “Media Kit” was when I was trying to figure out how to ask libraries and indie book stores if they’d like to carry my book. The internet recommended that I bring a media kit, but that sounded kind of intimidating, so I ignored it for a long time. But now that I’m working with Whimsical Publishing and I have more self-confidence than three years ago, I really wanted to try to pick up my self-promo game. (Especially because I really want Into the Churn to do well enough for me to write a sequel. 😭)

I knew Whimsical was going to arrange for me to do a book signing, and with looming fears of no one showing up, I wanted to see if I could get it listed in our local newspapers as an upcoming event. (By the by, It’s Saturday, April 15th from 12-2pm at Niceville Public Library, so if you’re around, definitely come say hi!) But…if I wanted to contact local newspapers, I knew I needed a media kit.

But I also still had no idea what went into a media kit. So I creeped on other authors’ media kits and did some intense googling. Not only did I find out what goes in a media kit, but I also found out that I should probably make a press release as well, and then I also apparently I needed like a whole media kit google drive folder to put my graphics and files in! Overall, actually creating it didn’t take too long, and I used Canva to put together the media kit portion.

Now, I’m still by no means an expert on these things, but I wanted to put my stuff out there in case some else needs inspiration or ideas for what they should put in there own. All my media kit materials and press kit stuff is located here.

But… then I also had to figure out how to email said local news and let them know that I existed. After querying the internet once again, I came up with an email that looks like this:

Subject Line: [Simplified Version of your Press Release Headline]

Dear [Local News Name]

I really appreciate [Local News Name] as a source of informative and relevant stories in our local area. I hope you’ll be able to use the below press release as a short news item or as an inspiration for an article on a related subject. Feel free to email me or call me at ### if you have any questions, and thank you so much for your time.


Hayley Reese Chow
TwitterInstagram & Tiktok@hayleyreesechow
Full media kit here
[Press Release Below]

So, your next question is probably: did it work!? Well, I literally sent it out 1 business day ago, but I have had one taker so far, so huzzah! I also sent out my press release through PRLog and PRUrgent and called it a day. There are a ton of other free press release sites, but a lot of them require you to have a non-free email address (read: rejected my gmail), so that crossed the line of too much hassle for me.

Anyways, like I said, not exactly an expert over here, but since I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what goes in a press release, media kit, and email to the press, I figured I’d share what I cobbled together. Hopefully it’s helpful and good luck in your book launch!

Speaking of book launches, Time’s Orphan is officially out in the world and Into the Churn comes out April 4th!

Book Review – Followed by Fire

Okay, Followed by Fire was so fun. I loved McKenzie Austin’s Panagea Tales, but I think this one tops it for me. McKenzie has such a gift for vibrant characters that jump off the page, and I especially loved these. I loved Esven, Balvo, and Elias so much it was honestly hard for me to pick a favorite. In a world of demons and magic, the strings that tied these characters together were tense, the banter was perfection, and Maritimus the cat was the cherry on top. Highly recommend for all fans of YA Fantasy.


I’m always here for the banter.

Thanks for reading!

Book Blogger Novel of the Year Award Feedback – The Gatekeeper of Pericael

This is my second time entering the BBNYA and honestly first off, I’d just like to recommend it to all small press and indie authors. With an entrance fee of €20, it’s relatively affordable compared to most contests, and they do a wonderful job of getting their entrants exposure even if you’re not a finalist. Also, if you don’t make it to the finals, you can still get the judges’ feedback on your excerpt. (2k words for the first round and 10k words for the second)

Odriel’s Heirs was a fifth place finalist in the 2021 BBNYA, so it got in on blog tours and reviews, but since The Gatekeeper of Pericael was only a semifinalist in 2022 BBNYA, they sent me feedback on my first 10k words. And I really love it because I think it showcases how differently people can feel about the same book. So I wanted to share it because I think it really emphasizes the need for more than one beta reader or critique partner, and I also think it helps give perspective when you get rough reviews, because yeah, your books not for everyone. But some people will love it, and that’s still amazingly cool.

What our panelists thought

(To be clear, each judge wrote one bullet in each section):
Writing Style

  • Good, enjoyable. Gets stronger/better as it goes on.
  • Nice use of description. The language used for some of the descriptive passages is beautiful and really evokes the feelings of the magical jungle.
  • A little shaky at the start with a bit of extra ‘explaining’ thrown in, but settled down later in the extract
  • So good. I was sucked into this story right away, and even though a lot of information was introduced, it was done so well that I constantly understood everything that was happening without any confusion, brilliant!
  • Easy to read, very descriptive, easy to get drawn into.


  • Definitely feels unique and intriguing
  • Feels a little old for mid-grade in some parts but too young for teens in others
  • I wasn’t sure at the start but was gripped by the end of the extract
  • Quite interesting
  • I really enjoyed this and felt so engrossed in the story throughout.  It’s very original and so interesting! I’m desperate to find out what happens next, especially as the excerpt finished in the middle of a dramatic scene
  • Loving the story so far. I’m curious about the worldbuilding and the magic system. The story feels original so far. Would read on


  • Porter as a MC is a bit flat right now, but I’m invested
  • Anyone knows when summoning ANYTHING, you don’t insult them. Porter should have known better. This annoyed me.  Ames is fun though
  • I really liked Porter
  • Excellent characters
  • Good characters and they are all different.  Especially enjoy the different characters reacting to each other

Emotional Response

  • I don’t really feel that invested in the story. Perhaps I’ve picked up Porter’s distaste for the magical land. If the MC doesn’t care, it’s hard for the reader.
  • I cared about what was happening with Porter and Ames
  • Characters made for you to easily emotionally respond too
  • I just loved this so much.  It felt exciting, compelling and interesting too.


  • Good balance of various elements, intriguing storyline, feels like a refreshing portal fantasy.
  • I’d like to give it a higher rating, but we have been given a whole lot of worldbuilding very quickly with not a lot of motivation or emotion.
  • An interesting book that has great characters
  • A good solid book.
  • So good!!  Would rate higher if I could. It’s so brilliant, I enjoyed it so much 🙂

Thanks so much to the BBNYA for this amazing feedback, and I can’t wait to hear what the judges think of Idriel’s Children this year!

Upper Middle Grade is so hard to market, so I’m so incredibly grateful for any feedback. Thanks again, BBNYA

Audiobook Review – Marigolds for Malice

Marigolds for Malice has many of the same charms as the first two books, but in this one it seems to come off a little more forced or formulaic. It’s still a cozy and charming mystery with feel-good vibes, cute characters, and a sprinkle of magic, but I didn’t find the case or the stakes quite as high here for Elliana. I think probably most of the problem lies in that the love interest is back, and he seems very… lukewarm. Like, it actually occurred to me that the characters could amicably part ways, and I’d be totally fine with it. Still, though, after reading a few gritty thrillers, this one was a pleasant listen, and I’d still recommend to fans of the first two.


C’mon, Ritter, you need to step up your game.

Thanks for reading!