Into the Churn: Street Team Sign-Ups & ARC Requests Open!

This week Whimsical Publishing officially revealed the title and blurb for my upcoming Young Adult Science Fiction, INTO THE CHURN, launching April 4th 2023! 🥳 So now, I’m thrilled to announce some other exciting news!

First, the Into the Churn Street Team is officially open for sign-ups here! If you’re willing to help with the December cover reveal & spreading the word, we’d love your help & can offer some fun perks—including the chance to win a *very* rare physical advance reader copy (ARC) in return! And if you’ve never seen Whimsical Publishing’s books, they’re absolutely gorgeous. 😍

Second, if you’re interested in an electronic advance reader copy (eARC) you can request one on Whimsical Publishing’s website here!

And lastly, if you’d like to check out a sneak peek of a scene from the book, you can find it on Whimsical’s back-up Instagram account here!

As a author publishing with a small press, we depend on readers to help spread the word, so any social media shares, retweets, posts are so greatly appreciated!

Thanks so much for reading, and the text-version of the blurb is included below!


Seventeen-year-old Ezren Hart interns in her mother’s terraforming lab, studying Belethea’s deadly storms with the dream of giving her backwater planet open teal skies. But when budget cuts threaten to shut down her mother’s lab, Ezren enters Belethea’s Race Royale, the system’s deadliest and most lucrative race. To win, she’ll have to run, drive, and fight her way across Belethea’s barren landscape while navigating its savage and volatile storms. With her planet’s future, and her family’s, on the line, she can’t afford to lose. But first, she’ll have to convince her handsome royale partner that their planet is worth saving.

Foster Sterling is a jaded ex-prodigy royaler still reeling from the death of his partner in a training accident. When Ezren Hart comes charging into his life, her passion reminds him of what he once loved about racing and his dream of returning pride to their planet. Still, no matter how fast they go, they can’t outrun the mysterious string of deadly accidents following them like a curse. As Foster falls harder for Ezren, he races to piece the clues together. But with time running out and their survival on the line, he’ll have to decide if their dreams are worth their lives.

Perfect for fans of underdog heroes, slow burn romance, and high stakes sci fi, INTO THE CHURN races across a new planet of savage storms and dazzling tech. Fall in love with Ezren and Foster as they battle side-by-side to save their scrappy world on a ruthless interplanetary stage where appearances are everything, speed means survival, and the only thing deadlier than the storms are the other racers.

This is the Canva cover I put together when drafting. I can’t WAIT to share the real thing Whimsical Publishing created. It’s absolutely GORGEOUS!

Time’s Orphan: Chapter One

I’ve officially sent Time’s Orphan off to the proofreader so it’s time for the first chapter reveal! Note: Although this is book 3 in the Odriel’s Heirs series, each book occurs after a 10+ year time gap, focuses on a different character, and the stories stand alone. If you’d like to catch up on the series, Odriel’s Heirs books 1, 1.5, 2, and 2.5 are currently 0.99 on Amazon or free on Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Apple. With that, here we go!




Speak of dragons,

And I’ll tell you of warriors

Who walked their flames.

Speak of shadows,

And I’ll tell you of heroes

Who brought the dawn.

Speak of pain,

And I’ll tell you of the Time

Who stole it away.

– The Heir’s Way, Chapter 17, Passage 9



CHAPTER ONE

FAVENO BLEEDS

With the bitter ash of fourteen burning towns still thick on her tongue, Emara thought she would’ve gotten used to the salty, iron tang of death. She knelt beside the whimpering soldier, gripping his rough, dirty hands in hers. As her yanaa, her Odriel-gifted energy, coursed through his body, it washed his agony away from him and into her. A fiery pain ignited in her stomach that mirrored the gaping, crimson hole through his middle. His smooth jaw could scarcely grow a beard, and yet here he lay among Faveno’s wounded defenders, breathing his last. She squeezed his hand as his eyelids fluttered one last time, the grimace of suffering at last easing to an empty stare.

As her yanaa retreated from him, the remnants of his pain faded from her own body. Drawing in a trembling breath, Emara shut his eyes with a practiced hand. “May Odriel guide you.”

“Oi! Mari!” Iree, a broad-shouldered blonde, shouted from where she helped an injured soldier into the back of the wagon. “Stop wasting time on the dead ones!”

The relentless thrum of the Rastgol’s war drums carried on the dusty air, a malignant heartbeat pounding through the frenzied city. Shrill cries of the manic residents streamed around their impromptu casualty camp in the middle of Faveno’s main square. The afternoon sun shone on the vibrant greens and blues of the stone houses ringing the plaza—the peaceful, oceanic colors standing in stark contrast to the city’s nearly palpable dread. A salty sea breeze ruffled the crude canvas canopy stretched above them, but it did nothing to relieve the nauseating stench of urine, sweat, and blood.

The reek of a losing battle.

Heavier now with another lost soul, Emara stumbled to the nearby trough and scrubbed the freshly dried blood from her brown skin until her hands stopped trembling. Straightening, she pushed her dark curls away from her face as she surveyed their makeshift camp. The other casualties lay in rows on blood-stained straw pallets—some crying out, others far too silent. Some wore the hodgepodge leather armor of Faveno’s Shields, while others bore only the simple dress of fishermen, tradesmen, and farmers.

“Odriel take me,” Iree swore, wiping the sweat from her forehead before grabbing a white-bearded soldier by his tunic and roughly hauling him up. “Where in the wretched skies are the bleeding Heirs when you need ‘em?” 

“Got their hands full keeping the Dead King’s Lost army in the south, they say.” Emara darted over to help Iree lift Whitebeard into the wagon, the bandages around his leg dark with blood. She sent a ripple of yanaa along his fevered skin, just enough to urge the bleeding to stop, but hopefully little enough to escape his notice. Still, the pain of the gash made her wince.

 “The girl’s right,” the man muttered as they shifted him deeper into the wagon bed. “Last I heard, the younger Dragon holds Gyatus while the elder Drake trains an army in Catalede, the old Shadow protects Aquilond, and the younger one stalks the throne in Austerden, waiting for her moment to assassinate the king.”

Iree spat onto the splotchy brown cobblestones as she pushed up her sleeves, chest heaving. “So you’re saying no one’s coming to save us.” She turned to the driver, a skinny boy of maybe a dozen years. “Cart’s full. Drop ‘em at the docks and come back for another load.”

Emara frowned as she turned to the wounded again, stooping to the unconscious woman next in line and shifting her onto a fresher bed of straw. “Hard to save us when we’ve already lost.”

Carriette, a younger girl with pigtail braids and a sharp chin, scowled from further down the line where she offered a ladle of water to a soldier with a full head of bandages. “Skies above, Emara, do you have to be so negative? It could still happen! The Heirs have beaten the cannibals back before.”

“And you only mentioned the Dragon and Shadow Heirs,” the bandaged soldier said with a weak smile. “Isn’t there supposed to be a third line? An Heir of healing or some such? I could use some of that right now.”

Emara glanced at him out of the corner of her eye, her skin prickling at the mention of healing. But his attention was squarely on the water, and her shoulders relaxed just a touch.

The Heirs’ legendary abilities passed down to their firstborns, but others, like Emara, could be born with random gifts like her minor healing touch. She’d heard of those with the power to make seeds sprout, change the wind’s direction, or share a thought without speaking.

Such smaller gifts of yanaa were also said to be bestowed by Odriel, the legendary spirit-guide. However, while the Time Heir of legend could heal armies, as one of Odriel’s Blessed, Emara could scarcely heal an ugly gash without getting out of breath. But with the Rastgol and the Dead King hunting down anyone with a scrap of yanaa tingling in their fingers—Heirs and Odriel’s Blessed alike—she tried to keep her abilities hidden.

But when everyone was dying around her, that was easier said than done.

“They haven’t been seen in a decade. Definitely dead.” Iree stooped and put a hand to the chest of a pale soldier lying all too still. With a tsk, she tugged his blanket up to cover his face. “And if they aren’t, I would whip their legendary hide for holing up while we’re busting our arses trying to save this place.”

Carriette slumped. At fifteen, she was only two years younger than Emara, but this was her first battle, and she hadn’t quite let go of her childish fantasies. Her eyes still glinted with the hope of Odriel’s chosen protectors endowed with godlike powers of fire, invisibility, and healing. It wouldn’t be long before she understood though—here, there were no heroes coming to their rescue, no happy endings, and no real winners. Both sides always lost in war; one just lost more than the other.

They’d been at war almost as long as she could remember. The Rastgol armies encroached further north and east into Okarrian lands every year. The necromancing Dead King’s army of undead—the Lost—crawled over the south, and the ancient, bloodthirsty man-killers his two commanders had unleashed from their Carceroc prison hunted everywhere else.

She’d lost her mother to the undead early, then from there had followed her grandmother’s merchant tribe as they scurried from town to town, searching for pockets of safety. But there were none to be had.

Still, it did no good to dwell on it.

“But who needs the Heirs when we have the mighty Iree?” Emara called to Carriette, getting a begrudging smirk out of her.

“Oh, you hush.” Iree waved her off as she rifled through a crate of bandages and filled waterskins.

Emara smiled at the image of the burly Iree taking on one of the legendary defenders of Okarria. She didn’t envy anyone who had to face her fury, yanaa or no. “I would bet on you over an Heir any day, Iree. In fact, I—”

Emara flinched as a horn blasted from one of the spires, signaling another Rastgol attack.

The three of them exchanged a tense glance before Emara lurched into action, lifting the crate of supplies. “I’ll take these to the east spire. They’ll be needing it.”

“No, let me.” Carriette’s face hardened with determination as she grabbed it from Emara.

“Wait, I—” Emara started, but Carriette was already striding away.

 “Don’t worry. I’ll get it there.” With that, she took off across the square against the flow of the crowd fleeing for the docks. Emara couldn’t help but smile. Though naïve, the girl was brave; she had to give her that.

Even from their relative safety inside the inner wall, the roar and clang of battle drifted to them on the dusty air. Although the maimed sun, ever chipped by the Dead King’s power, drew high on the fourth day of the siege, the blood-worshiping barbarians only seemed to grow stronger. They battered Faveno’s stone walls in unending waves of horror and violence. Each day, as Faveno’s defenders fell, the Rastgol’s bellowing drums grew louder, grew closer. Too close.

A pair of bony mules pulled the creaking wagon up to their camp in the middle of the square, and the skinny boy waved frantically from the driver’s bench. “This is the last trip! Load ‘em as quick as you can. The last ships are readying to sail north, and word is we’ll lose the outer wall within the hour.”

Already? Emara’s gaze flicked to the smoke curling behind the thick stone walls looming over the rooftops. “How many can you take?” She dried her hands on a stained rag, trying to measure the wagon against the rows of bodies. They’d already sent the walking wounded down to the wharf, but there were still dozens left.

Iree bent over the first in the row, a young man with his left leg missing from the knee down. Grabbing his proffered hand, she hoisted him up and helped him in. “I don’t care if we have to stack ‘em. If they fit, they’re going.”

Emara hurried over, lifting the little girl that had come in earlier with the arrow in her gut. “Hey love.” The girl’s blue eyes flicked open. “It’s okay, we’re getting you out of here.”

“Not that one, Mari,” Iree said, helping another soldier into the wagon. “I saw her this morning. We can’t waste space on lost causes.”

Emara ignored her, sending a pulse of her yanaa into the girl’s wound. The pain of it flooded back to her, and she grit her teeth, careful not to drop the girl. “It didn’t go deep. Take another look, Iree. She’ll be fine.”

Iree turned from the wagon, her gaze sliding from the girl’s face to the bandages around her middle. She lifted the bandage to peek under, and then raised a brow at Emara. “I must have misjudged. Put her in.”

Sweat gathering at her temples, Emara settled the girl in the corner of the wagon before turning to get the next. Iree bent down beside her, each grabbing an arm of a burly man. He groaned as they boosted him into the wagon bed, and Emara let her fingers linger on his wrist. She sent another pulse of yanaa into him, the rot of the infection in his leg knocking the breath from her lungs. She pushed harder, pulling it from him like a parasite. Sweat beaded on her forehead with his fever and nausea turned her stomach, but the furrows in his brow eased. Though the yanaa leached her energy, it was just as quick to return after she pulled away—all she had to do was endure.

“You need to be more careful, Mari,” Iree whispered, her gaze fierce. “There are people here that will give you to the Rastgol in a second if it means sparing their own hides.”

Iree’s counsel needled Emara’s guilty conscience, an echo of her mother’s warnings scorching through her. Though Emara tried her best to hide her gift, the sharp-eyed elder medics nearly always saw through her, but she had neither the time nor the patience to worry about it now. “We should all be careful,” she said, moving to the next patient.

They worked in silence, Emara’s hands lingering on the worst of them, until finally the cart could hold no more. Iree hopped into the front and took the reins from the boy. “Coming, Mari?”

Emara glanced at the spires again, another horn blast splitting the air. “I’ll wait for Carriette.”

A frown dug into the well-worn lines around Iree’s mouth. “It’s your choice, but if we lose the wall…” Her gaze met Emara’s, concern softening her expression. “Don’t linger.”

“Be safe, Iree,” Emara said, her hand to her chest. “And I’ll see you on a sunnier day.”

With a grim nod, Iree clicked her tongue, and the wagon rolled away, its charges dull-eyed and moaning. They were nearly packed on top of each other, but they’d almost managed to get all of their wounded aboard. The ones left here probably wouldn’t see the sunset, Rastgol or no. But perhaps she could still ease their passing.

“Emara!”

Emara whirled at the elder medic’s familiar voice. Her gaze narrowed on his thin string of a body and receding gray curls as he limped toward her on his clubbed foot, pulling a younger man with fluttering eyelids.

“Gunther, are you okay?”

A horn bellowed from beyond the wall, followed by two more short blasts, and a bonfire crackled to life on the western spire. A chorus of wails erupted from the square as the crowds of evacuees surged toward the docks, and Emara’s heart sank. “The outer wall… It’s fallen.”

“Yes. Faveno is completely surrounded.” Sweat streaked down the wrinkles in Gunther’s swarthy countenance. “You must go now if you want to get out. The wharf is the only way.”

Emara looked over her shoulder, scanning the knots of soldiers fleeing the walls. “Did you see Carriette on the way here? She was headed for the outer wall.” Her hands immediately moved to grip the wrist of both Gunther and the man at his side. Gunther bore no wounds, but the gash above the man’s waist would need assistance. She squeezed his hand as she urged the blood to stop flowing and the skin to knit. With a gasp, she grabbed her own side, his pain becoming hers.

“Stop that, Emara. Think of yourself now,” Gunther said, grabbing her shoulder. Beside him, the man straightened, blinking with confusion. Gunther gave her a small push toward the wharf. “You must go.”

“What about Carriette? We sent her to the east spire with supplies.”

“On the outer wall?” Gunther winced. “I’m sorry, my girl. It’s too late for her now.”

Emara looked eastward to the spindly stone tower, and then to the fire that burned from the west—where the Rastgol had breached the city. “They’re not there yet. I can make it.” She snatched up her bow and quiver.

“No! There’s no time! You’ll get stuck out there.”

But Emara was already running.


Thanks so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed this sneak peak of Time’s Orphan. Advanced Review e-Copies should be ready when I get it back from the proofreader (hopefully by the end of November)! If you’re interested in one, just drop me a line here or on Twitter/Insta/Tiktok @hayleyreesechow. Time’s Orphan launches on 8 February 2023 and is available for preorder here.

Also keep an eye out for the title and blurb reveal for my YA Sci-fi TOMORROW! 😱 If you’re interested in being part of my street team to help post the reveals and spread the word, please let me know. I could definitely use all the help I can get! 😊 And of course, happy Halloween everyone!

Book Review – The Controlled


The Controlled  by P.J. Willett follows a group of teachers and students in a bleak dystopian school after a human experiment goes terribly wrong. And, boy, is this book bleak. I’m all for dystopian shenanigans but these characters are absolutely a product of their horrible environment, and they are *rough*!

The story unfolds the fateful day from the perspectives of several of the main characters. Each one has their flaws and brutal backstory of surviving in this world in which the education system is now corporately controlled and has completely devolved. This book definitely has a message to convey, and it doesn’t hold any punches as it leans into a, at times, amusingly over-the-top caricature of a school under-siege by its mind-controlled-gone-wrong students. This dark narrative was wholly unique and definitely held my attention, but without anyone to truly root for, I didn’t feel super invested in the characters’ fates. However, if you’re looking for a twisted near-future dystopian that serves as an intense reflection on modern trends, I’d definitely give it a look!

Thanks so much to the publisher for the free ebook!

⭐⭐⭐½

Definitely makes the top 3 schools I do NOT want to go to. 😂

Thanks for reading!

Book Review – Face the Music


Face the Music by M.L. East definitely ups the ante from A Trick of the Spotlight in so many ways! In Face the Music, we now get four more POVs (Ryo, Namgi, Mino, and Jaeyoon) and a whopping 171 more pages full of intense K-Pop drama that’s so hard to put down!

This book picks up right where the last one left off, with Kit in an almost impossible situation… and I hate to say it, but it doesn’t really get better for her. With the new POVs, there’s even more relationship drama, and we definitely get to know more about Vortex and its group dynamics. The stakes are higher here as Ryo’s controlling, gangster-like family gets involved, and Vortex is definitely on edge.

My only real critique is that I feel like Kit was almost a minor character in this sequel, and I liked her so much in book one! Hers was still my favorite POV, but I definitely felt like she was kind of sidelined here, and I wish we’d gotten to see more of her.

That said, this book still has that addicting, tear-through-the-pages feel of the first book, and I would totally recommend it to readers looking for juicy K-Pop drama.

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Locke is always here for juicy K-pop drama!.

Thanks for reading!

Book Review – R.I.P. Viola Winkle


R.I.P. Viola Winkle by E.P. Stavs is described as Rip Van Winkle x Beauty & the Beast x Celtic Fantasy, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen comp titles that match a book so well!

After reading may of E.P. Stavs’ other books, I did not hesitate to grab up this ARC and was definitely not disappointed. Every time Stavs’ writing style immediately pulls me in with smart dialogue, quick pacing, and strong plot flow.

The characters were all likable, and I really liked the feel of Ethan’s gothic home and the strong found-family vibes. Viola was fun and quirky as a 1950s librarian in a new world, and I loved her interactions with the 21st century child that was Sylvie. Red of course was my favorite, and I loved the conflict between him and Viola. The Buinnean family in general was also just an interesting Celtic addition to the mix!

Overall, I totally recommend this one to fans of a contemporary fairy-tale like romance that leaves you with the warm fuzzies of a happy ending and a well-told story.

Thanks so much to the publisher for the ARC! R.I.P. Viola Winkle launches 11 Aug on Amazon!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Elsa doing her best coonhound impression.

Thanks for reading!

Book Review – Broken (After the Plague #1)


After the Plague is a dual POV story that follows Yorke (a returning soldier) and Frankie (an artist) as they navigate the very beginnings of a plague-brought apocalypse. The writing flows well, the characters are likable, and the apocalyptic details feel real and hit close to home. My biggest critique is that this very short book doesn’t feel complete. It really reads like part one of a bigger novel. And while there may be action and romance in the sequels, I didn’t find as much of it here as I would’ve liked to hook me into book 2. However, the introduction of Beast and Auden was cute, and I have a feeling a future found family might be in order once the two MCs meet up.

So if you’re looking for a post-apocalyptic read and are committed to reading more than just the first one, I’d say definitely give it a look!

⭐⭐⭐¾

Tula in the seemingly apocalyptic mess that is the play room.

Thanks for reading!

Book Review – Beneath Her Skin


Beneath her Skin by C.S. Porter follows Kes Morris, a hardened homicide detective called to a small seaside town to investigate a disturbing murder. This a fast-paced murder mystery that hits all the right beats. It’s a gripping story, tugging you along as the time clicks down on the clock with an underlying sense of creepiness laced in with every scene.

Kes’s take on getting into the killer’s head is really interesting, and the intensity increases right up to a satisfyingly finale. Although the murders are definitely disturbing, I wouldn’t classify them as exceedingly gory or gritty, which is about right on my level. The descriptions, setting, and atmosphere of a small town living in the shadow of killer were vivid and drew me right in to the scenes. While I couldn’t predict the plot twists, they felt really natural and were well-executed. . Kes is a smart and no-nonsense character, but I wish I’d gotten to see a little more of the side characters.

Overall, this was a quick read that I definitely enjoyed, and would totally recommend to crime thriller fans! (Content Warning: Child Abuse.) Thanks so much to the publisher for the free review copy.

⭐⭐⭐⭐1⁄2

Tula looks satisfied to me, don’t you think?

Thanks for reading!

Book Review – Essence of Stone


The Essence of Stone by Haley Rylander is a sweeping, epic fantasy with intricate world-building and political intrigue. The plot essentially follows a city of elves as they try find the source of the strange, destructive earthquakes attacking their city and their source of Vierstone, the magical foundation of their society and their race. Simultaneously, they must navigate an alliance with the neighboring human kingdom, which promises them another source of Vierstone in exchange for their support in battle.

The story spans a wide cast of elven characters and dives deep into the politics and history of Vierstone, their world, and their people. The characters are likable and the writing was detailed and flowed with a rich, fantastical feel. However, the romantic elements were light for me, and the pacing for this epic felt a bit on the slow side. Of course, my general preferences lean toward a hearty helping of romance at *breakneck* speed, so if you’re looking for a lush world of elves and men, political maneuvering, and an interesting magic system with a sciency, hard set of rules, I recommend you give this one a look!

Thanks to the publisher for the free ARC in exchange for an honest review. Essence of Stone launches on May 14, 2022.

⭐⭐⭐1⁄2

Mmm. Books. Nom Nom. Tula says give me another!

Thanks for reading!

Book Review – First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts


First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts is a collection of romantic short stories centering on the sweetness of first love. I always find short story anthologies featuring multiple authors so interesting, because you never really know what you’re going to get!

This one is no different! There were some stories that were funny, some poignant, and some a little awkward, but overall I think this collection nailed the little bites of cute, clean romance.

The Castle of Ohno by S.E. White, an atmospheric, unique twist on Beauty and the Beast with voicey, interesting characters, was probably my favorite and definitely made me want to read on!

I also enjoyed Clyde and Coalesce by Kim Elliott, a super cute modern taken on Pride and Prejudice featuring an up and coming band and two roommates in a story that I wish was longer!

I also enjoyed how the stories of Marmalade Sunset and The Art of Making Doughnuts also showcased first loves at different stages of life with a more poignant take.

Overall, I thought this and enjoyable, light read, and would recommend to anyone looking for an uplifting collection of clean, sweet romance to fill an evening.

First Love: The Art of Making Donuts comes out Sep 6, 2022, and thanks so much to the publisher for the ARC!

⭐⭐⭐⭐

The world’s heavy enough as it is. I’m always here for a quick, light read!

Thanks for reading!

Audiobook Review – People We Meet on Vacation


So after I read Beach Read by Emily Henry, I’ll admit, I jumped into this with some high expectations. After all, my husband and I go on a big traveling trip every year, this should’ve been right up my alley!

And there’s still a part of me that believes that I really should’ve liked this book… the characters were likable, I love traveling, and I like the writing style… but this one fell a little flat for me.

The premise is that Alex and Poppy are two very different (just) friends that take a summer trip every year for the last 10+ years. Half of the book is Poppy talking about those trips in flashbacks, and how basically for the last 10 years she’s been trying to convince herself she’s not into Alex. The other half of the book goes through their current trip, after they’ve gone two years without talking to each other, and it feels… super awkward.

And I can handle friends-to-lovers if it’s over a gradual (and relatively short) timescale, or if there’s something obviously in their way that needs to be fixed or lots of other if’s! But none of those things applied here, and in general, I felt like the concept of time was just way off in a lot of ways. Also their interactions felt strange to me- like in that uncanny valley between platonic love and not, and on top of that, if their vacations did have some kind of magic to them, I wasn’t feeling it.

But lots of people have liked this book, so maybe it was just me! If you like friends-to-lovers romance, don’t let me stop you! (But I might recommend Beach Read instead!)

⭐⭐⭐¼ 

Okay, I know I said more Emily Henry books… but now I’m having second thoughts. Time for something new!

Thanks for reading!