Monthly Wrap-Up: September 2019

by Justine Bergman

Hello, everyone! As I sat down to write this wrap-up, it finally sank in how busy September really was over here at Whispers & Wonder! I had a BUNCH of amazing reads this month, personal and SPFBO alike. We got another early look at a story featured in the upcoming Dark Ends anthology. There was some more giffing madness over on Twitter for two more Call to Arms Tourneys. I participated in a celebration for the onset of autumn with the lovely people at The Parliament House. And finally, we kicked off a brand new interview series celebrating cover artists and designers in the publishing industry. In case you missed anything, this is what went on.


Wow. What a month it was in regards to astonishing reads! A raw and visceral grimdark with fickle gods, a charming romantic historical fantasy with fae, an elegantly crafted and dazzling novella with dragons, and a brutally bloody dark fantasy and horror blend with zombies. It’s always a good month when I can recommend each and every the books I picked up.

Smoke and Stone by Michael R. FletcherSmoke and Stone is a raw and visceral tale of abuse and vengeful gods. Evocative of Mesoamerican culture, we’re immersed in an incredibly unique setting defined by meticulously superb worldbuilding. Captivating, lyrical prose, and tragically flawed characters make this a fascinating read.SEE FULL REVIEW

The Absinthe Earl by Sharon Lynn FisherThe Absinthe Earl is a charming tale of believing. A beautiful blend of known historical aspects and Irish mythology fully submerge readers in Victorian Ireland. A compelling narrative focusing on kindness and understanding along with a deftly crafted romance – I adore this book.SEE FULL REVIEW

A Wild and Unremarkable Thing by Jen CastleberryA Wild and Unremarkable Thing is an elegantly crafted novella with a dazzling narrative of perseverance. Notably developed and refined, its gorgeous, poetic, and almost singsong prose makes it feel as though we’ve stumbled upon a tale being told, rather than a book being read.SEE FULL REVIEW

A Ritual of Bone by Lee C. ConleyA Ritual of Bone is a seamless blend of dark fantasy and horror expertly weaved that stuns with its level of brutality, but also reveres the raw emotions exuded when facing adversity. Beautifully crafted characters and exceptionally eerie surroundings make this a highly engrossing read.SEE FULL REVIEW


I was absolutely honored to be asked to participate in The Parliament House‘s celebration of the onset of autumn alongside wonderful bloggers and Bookstagrammers around the world. Not sure what Mabon is? Head on over to this post to read my musings on the most magical time of the year!


While I finished up my personal mini-batch last month, I picked up two extra titles from our remaining entrants, and both were incredible! A fast-paced urban fantasy novella, and intriguing blend of fantasy and horror – I find it amazing how diverse the books in these competition are, there’s literally a little bit of something for everyone.

The City Screams by Phil WilliamsThe City Screams is a fast-paced urban fantasy with a healthy dose of lore and stripped of all fluff, and is a story that perfectly portrays the concepts of courageousness and resolve. Excellently realized characters and a plot where nothing is at it seems, there’s no shortage of surprises along the way.SEE THE MINI-REVIEW

The Deadbringer by E.M. MarkoffThe Deadbringer is a dark and intriguing tale of finding one’s true self and bearing with the consequences of lies told. A stunning blend of fantasy and horror, with beautiful, elegant prose, a richly developed world, and blood and gore aplenty, it’s an incredible foundation for a debut series.SEE THE MINI-REVIEW

Windows Into Worlds

This month I introduced a brand new interview series that has been in the works for a while now. While authors deserve all the love for the masterpieces they create within the pages of their books, I believe cover artists and designers deserve a place in the spotlight, as well. Cue Windows Into Worlds, a celebration of these incredibly talented artists throughout the industry! We kicked this off right: with the help of the incomparable Félix Ortiz, illustrator extraordinaire. Check out the interview below.

Félix Ortiz chats with us about his motivations and reasons for diving headfirst into the world of book cover art, professional challenges, his (at the moment) favorite authors, and he shows off one of his favorite artistic pieces.

Dark Ends

In order to continue with Whispers & Wonder’s Dark Ends hype, Angela Boord graciously allowed me to pick her brain for some extra early details. Some of her answers…simply and utterly shocking! Check out the interview below.

Angela Boord discusses her upcoming novelette Dragonmeat, the fine art of multitasking, her approach to writing those difficult scenes, and her stance on dragons.

Call To Arms

This month we had another couple of great contests. Two lucky winners snagged some pretty sweet loot after exhibiting their awesome gif game. You can see more details about the individual contests below, or you can check out the Call to Arms hub. Also visit our Circle of Champions, where the coats of arms of our winners will live on for all of time.

Banebringer by Carol A. Park
THEME: Daddy Issues



The Engineer by Darran M. Handshaw
THEME: Macgyver It Up



On the Stack

Phew, that’s all I got for ya! I was subject a deluge of digital books over the summer, so I’m making it my mission in the coming months to finally hit some of these beautiful paperbacks and hardcovers that have been patiently awaiting my attention. Be sure to stay tuned for more craziness that’s surely on the horizon! Thanks, everyone, and Happy October! 🎃

Happy Reading!

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