Spotlight & Excerpt: Matuo, by Kuda D Gutu

mauto banner

Mauto Book Cover (3)

by Kuda D Gutu
Young Adult Fiction

Mauto takes place in Alkebulan a land rich in culture, history, raw materials and technological advancement. It is made out of seven kingdoms each with a unique tribe. All seven tribes have different totems that represent their tribes as well as provide them with immense power.

With the death of the Pharaoh, Queen Amanirena is to be crowned the new Pharaoh of Kush. Once crowned she will inherit the power of the phoenix totem which is the most powerful of all seven totems. Amanirena must unite all seven tribes of Alkebulan before the northern kingdoms invades, kills and enslaves her people and steal their totems.

Prince Mauto of the Katanga tribe possesses the power of the lion totem and is the chief strategist and advisor to mambo (king) Mutota. Both Amanirena and Mauto have important roles to play in uniting and protecting Alkebulan.

Amazon / Signed


It is often narrated that in the time of the second Pharaoh, who was known as Khufu, the power of the totem reigned great. The tribe was under attack by the mystical creatures who reigned where Kush currently dwells. But the Kushites were determined to stay due to the promise the location held. They were not ones to cower at the sight of danger, and neither were their Pharaohs. They promised in the name of all the gods to chase the creatures to the end of the earth. Thus, the battle line started.

The Pharaoh before Khufu had done his best and kept the creatures at bay, but not entirely away. They would often come to drag away children and older feeble adults— people who they are sure would not be able to struggle against them so much. As soon as the news of the death of the Pharaoh got to them, the tribe mobilized in considerable numbers to come to take back the Kingdom that belonged to them.

Khufu, the new Pharaoh, had envisaged that their enemies would want to use the momentary gap in leadership against them, and thus, he had taken the time to seek the face of the gods and prepare in advance. He promised the gods that if he were given victory over the mystical creatures, he would build the most beautiful temple ever seen for the gods. The rumours of the mystical creatures had long reached the tribe, and the people ran helter-skelter, all trying to seek refuge.

Khufu mobilized his army and marched towards the centre of the town where the mystical creatures gathered. There was a vast mountain in the middle of the town where the creatures stayed. Arrows shot at Khufu and his army below. It was an intense battle, but Khufu had a game-changer. As the battle heightened and got fierce, Khufu called upon the gods in the language of his ancestors mwari ndipeyiwo simba as he tapped into the totem of the phoenix and commanded to lift the mountain. Everything stood still as everyone marvelled at what was going on. The power of the gods that Khufu was using made the creatures stay glued to the mountain. The mountain started to spin very fast as the creatures shrieked in high pitch volume.

Their voices could be heard from the far end of the towns. And by the time the spinning finally stopped, Khufu slapped the ground with great force and uttered incantations mwari ndipeyiwo simba.

Immediately, the mountain fell into the ground with great force. It was as though a hole was dug to swallow the mountain. What made it even more frightening was the fact that the sides of the mountain were still protruding above the earth while the earth covered the middle completely with no trace whatsoever.

The Kushites loudly rejoiced when they heard the news of what had happened to their long-term terrors. The remainder of the mystical creatures fled the Kingdom, never to be seen or heard from again. They didn’t want the fate of the others to befall them as well. Khufu decided to make the spot of the war into a monument to always remind the people of the power they have over terror. It was that spot that later became the Takatifu. Over the years, the place became more prominent, and as different Pharaohs came and left, they all developed it until it became the edifice it is today.

About the Author:

Kuda D Gutu is the author of Afropolitan State of Mind. He grew up in Harare, Zimbabwe where traditional story telling was a way to pass down history and life lessons. Stories of ghosts, animals, mermaids and magic sparked his imagination, and interest for writing stories and educating people about different African cultures and history.

He lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. He is currently working on the Mauto trilogy.

Website / Facebook, Instagram, Twitter: @kudadgutu

Cover Reveal: Blood, Fire & Mercy, by Christina Davis

Blood fire and mercy

Blood Fire Mercy Cover

Blood, Fire & Mercy
Da’Valia Trilogy #2
by Christina Davis
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publishing Date: November 10, 2021

18-year-old thief Neva Roberts has been living on the run since absconding with the Eye, piece of the greatest weapon ever created. But she’s running from more than a cold-hearted ruler. She has exiled herself to a barren land, trying to forget the pain she caused.

When Trinizhi’s squad of assassins catches up with Neva, her life on the run comes to an abrupt end, and the ultimate betrayal is unveiled. Only one person — Astiand — knew where she was hiding.

With the help of Emiliand and a new Djinn friend, Neva will return to her homeland for the job of a lifetime. If she can overcome dragon wardens, escape a prison island, and double-cross Trinizhi, Neva might just start forgiving herself…

Amazon / Goodreads

Author Info:
Christina Davis was raised in the Santa Cruz Mountains and is a California girl at heart. She spent much of her childhood in and out of hospitals and embraced reading as an escape. After being home-schooled through high school, she graduated summa cum laude from San Jose State University and attended NYU’s Summer Publishing Institute before embarking on a decade-long career in journalism. She enjoys chocolate, cosplay, coffee, and board games, but not necessarily in that order. She now lives in beautiful Monterey County with her husband and daughter.

Christina Davis

tbr book tours-badge-transparent
Follow the rest of the tour here.

Audiobook Spotlight: Shadow’s Voice & Author Interview

Shadow's Voice Banner

Title: Shadow’s Voice

Author: Natalie Johanson

Narrator: Candace Bennett

Length: 10 hours 8 minutes

Series: Shadow’s Voice Series, Book 1

Publisher: Tea and Dagger Publishing

Released: September 10, 2021

Genre: Fantasy; Young Adult

Rose Trewin is running from her past. She would run from her magic too, if she could, but her ability to move through shadows like a wraith isn’t going anywhere. She hopes for a simple life, forgotten and unknown. When a promise to take a message to the king turns deadly, Rose must decide what matters more: disappearing into the night or the fate of her country.

She soon finds herself at the center of a conspiracy and political intrigue. Relying on her skills as a spy, Rose must seek out the center of the plot. However, when her magic begins to change and new, unknown creatures are emerging from the shadows, she quickly realizes more is at stake.

Long dead evils are returning

Forgotten magics are awakening

And Rose must face her past to accept her future


Shadow’s Voice


Buy Links


Q&A with Author Natalie Johanson
  1. Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.
    1. It was a lot simpler than I expected. I requested audio samples from several narrators and after listening to their extended samples, deciding what tone and diction I wanted, booked a narrator. We went back and forth on pronunciations on a few things and then she worked chapter by chapter uploading the audio. I listened to each, sent my notes for changes and corrections, and then she reuploaded the audio based on those changes. All in all it was a painless process. It was much weirder hearing my book read back to me by a voice actor. I was not prepared for how surreal that was.
  2. Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?
    1. No! Not even a little bit. It wasn’t until much later when it was in the publishing stages that I even considered an audiobook.
  3. How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process? Did you give them any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters?
    1. Absolutely. I provided her with a breakdown of the main characters, what their insights were, motivations. I broke down a little bit of how I heard them in my head. Then I was able to note changes, corrections, or requests once the initial recording was ready.
  4. Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
    1. Of course. Art reflects life, right? Even if it’s a really small inspiration. Mannerisms, behaviors, speech patterns. All those I pulled from various aspects of life. A lot of Rose is based on me. A lot of her faults are mine. Lol.
  5. How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing?
    1. That one’s hard. Burn-out is definitely a thing. I try not to focus too much on page count or daily words written. I know that’s a strategy a lot of writers use but I don’t like that kind of pressure lol. I’m a pantser when I write so I already don’t know what I’m doing and now you want to add the pressure of a word count? Nope. I write when my muse talks. I re-read and edit when she’s quiet. I take it one day at a time.
  6. Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
    1. Yes I love audiobooks! I just don’t have enough time to sit and read as much as I want. I love that it allows you to multitask. I also think sometimes I can fall deeper into the book when I’m listening to it. A little bit like a movie I guess.
  7. If this title were being made into a TV series or movie, who would you cast to play the primary roles?
    1. Oh man. Talk about a dream right? Well, if I got to pick Millie Bobbie Brown as Rose. Or maybe Daisey Riddle. For King Micah someone like Benedict Cumberbatch, but Dr. Strange Cumberbatch. I picture someone bad ass like Michelle Pfeiffer for Cap. Sayla.
  8. What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
    1. Lol. I’d say get over yourself. As long as you’re enjoying the work, taking it in, experiencing the book, who cares how you’re doing it? You do you.
  9. How did you celebrate after finishing this novel?
    1. Got a tattoo. Lol. I got a feather quill with ink blots and “Carpe Diem” on my arm. Then I took a nap.
  10. What’s next for you?
    1. Well, Shadow’s Past, the sequel, is set to come out Oct. 15. I hope to get book 3 going here soon after I take a well deserved nap and I also have an unrelated book in the works that I’m excited about.

Natalie studied at Westminster College with a degree in English with a Creative Writing Emphasis before deciding to go after her dream to work in law enforcement.

Before that, Natalie worked as an editor on her high school literary magazine, Euphony and had several short pieces published in it.

Natalie spent the better part of a decade writing, rewriting, abandoning, and fighting through Shadow’s Voice. It all started with reading a book that didn’t end the way she thought it should. So, Natalie went about writing a book with an ending she wanted. Thus Shadow’s Voice was born. What started off as something just for Natalie to read and write in her spare time quickly became a full blown novel she wanted to share with everyone.


Click here to view the full tour schedule!

Plugging you into the audio community since 2016.

Sign up as a tour host here.