Author Archives: Literary Titan

The Dead Wake Horror Collection Vol 1

The Dead Wake Horror Collection Vol 1 by [Douglas, Ellie]The Dead Wake Anthology by Ellie Douglas is a collection of thrilling short stories. The anthology investigates the idea of zombification threw a number of avenues, exploring what the impacts of an outbreak would be in a variety of scenarios. The anthology sits well within the horror and thriller genres and makes for an exciting though horrifying read. Ellie Douglas often investigates how the transition from living to dead, to living-dead would progress in the various instances of infection meaning that each story is unique in the ways in which this topic is explored.

The opening story is placed within a unique setting – space. The isolation of which is felt by the few characters exposed within the claustrophobic conditions of a space craft. When the Captain John Lancaster teases a crew mate, he accidentally breaks a space rock against the crewmate’s head. Upon inspection the rock appears to bleed. The unique nature of this rock leads Captain John Lancaster to send it as a gift to his daughter before the crew launch. Only when the crew are in space however does the full impact of the space rock’s strange qualities come into full effect. The crewmate, who the rock touched, begins to grow ill with flu like symptoms and is sent to the med bay. With the affected crewmate breaking out in lesions, Ellie Douglas explores in graphic detail the vile nature of the character’s transition creating a visual spectacle not for the faint hearted. The crew now in space, rush to find out if the disease is contagious. Meanwhile, John Lancaster, having sent the rock to his daughter on earth, attempts to contact the CDC and his family to see if his daughter faces the same fate as his crewmate. The author creates an intense feeling of suspense as John grows frantic trying to find out if his daughter will be okay.

Some of the stories are intended to be truly horrifying, such as ‘No More Coochy Coochy Coo!’ which takes place in a hospital, somewhere that maybe considered moderately safe in the event of an outbreak. This short story follows the labour of Samantha who is worried that her partner Jeff will not make it time for the birth of their first-born child. As the labour continues Samantha becomes increasingly more distressed. The new mother starts exclaiming that the baby is eating her. Initially the nurse dismisses it as labour pains, but as the doctor – attempting to aid the birth, begins to lose his fingers to the hungry unborn child, all is confirmed.

Meanwhile, Jeff the expecting father, gets distracted and finds his way to a ward where twenty-three babies lay wrapped soundly in blankets. He notices two children looking pale skinned and with sores, their arms blistered. Notifying a nurse of the babies’ condition he is escorted out of the room swiftly by a doctor as the children are taken to be quarantined. An air raid siren begins to sound outside.

Despite some of these more sombre and horrifying stories, some of the stories are laced with some comedy, such as a talking parrot on a cruise ship that yells profanities as it begins to peck at its keeper. Though, this becomes less humorous as the parrot’s feathers shed and it flies frantically around the inside of an elevator pecking at its keeper’s eyes.

The short stories offer snippets of potential scenarios to get the reader thinking and, being short, make for a perfect night time read – though be wary of nightmares.

Pages: 196 | ASIN: B078PH4143

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Matt Legend: Veil of Lies – Trailer

All Matt Legend wanted to do that dangerous summer was to win the affections of a certain irresistible small town girl and get back to L.A. But something inside an ancient Indian burial mound has other plans. In the mound he discovers powers beyond his wildest dreams and an evil beyond any imaginings. Matt receives a warning telling him that if he tells anyone what he found terrible things will happen.

And terrible things do. The dean of a mysterious boarding school tries to help but death and destruction follow as supernatural forces attempt to stop Matt from warning the world that they are mutating.

A venomous archaeology professor finds out what is in the mound and uses it to unleash a deadly reign of terror on the earth. Matt and three friends alone hold the key to stopping him – but can they before it is too late? They find themselves in a war against the supernatural – a war they cannot possibly win. But if they win, Matt will live, and get the girl. If they lose, seven billion people will perish.

This is the first in the Matt Legend series of young adult fiction paranormal mystery adventures and encounters of the strange kind that deal with everything from giants and mermaids (yes, they did and do exist), to UFOs, fallen angels and other extra-dimensional beings, subterranean civilizations, and all other strange and terrible things. 

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Spiritual Growth Requires Action

Angelo Lowery Author Interview

Angelo Lowery Author Interview

I Am and the Spirit Walks with Me shares real life experiences to show readers how to attain a higher level of consciousness and healthier spiritual living. Why was this an important book for you to write?

My life was tragedy after tragedy enough to break anyone down I was walking and existing in a very dark place. Regardless of what I was going through not knowing love and just being on this planet with no one to connect to there was something there deep inside me that allowed me to keep hanging on and to never give up. There were thoughts of suicide there were alcohol and drugs around me. There were thoughts of taking my life via self-harm using many methods but the spirit within me was stronger than my situations, circumstances, and problems. Holding on to the belief that there had to be a better life for me and not giving up through the darkness I found Gods light and it is glorious. My heart went out to all those who have suffered abuse or is going through situations, circumstances, and problems in their life. I wanted to connect so that they know to keep fighting don’t give up you are stronger than the darkness and weakness you are and have experienced in your life.

In this book you discuss the spiritual pathways toward higher consciousness. What is a common misconception people have when taking this journey and how can they overcome it?

Spiritual growth requires action if we are seeking the best out of life we must accept that there will be paradigm shifts. Don’t get comfortable with where you are. Elevated consciousness means change not being ok with where you are in the now. Many have the misconception that because they have seen someone for healing it took care of what they need in many cases it did and you walked away feeling better, however you are in control of your life and you must take action daily to contribute to your spiritual growth. Move out of the shadow of dependency and giving your power to someone else. Many have the misconception that they’ve said their affirmations for the day and that this is all it takes. We must clean the slate of our mind for any affirmations to work this means self-mastery work dumping your baggage of situations that impacted your life forgiving yourself for it and others. Do a self-work by using the people in your life be an observer witness of how you feel when people say things if an uncomfortable feeling surfaces write it down don’t blame the other party you called them into your life to help you transcend use what they say to empower you. If you felt hurt when they said something, ask yourself why did you feel hurt they only triggered something deep within you that requires healing. If it is sorrow you feel un-create, delete, and destroy it in the now and across all time dimension space and reality this is how you rid it and you began to heal and feel lighter. If you pay attention you can feel the negative energy of it leaving your body.

This book is good at helping readers examine and understand themselves. What do you hope readers take away from this book?

Faith, Belief, and Trust in themselves don’t look to others to find it search within all you need is within you the answers are there waiting for you to unlock the mysteries of your own life. Create a connection with spirit and just trust your own inner guidance and intuition. It is magical. Surrender your control to your own inner spirit it brings your power and control back to you and makes you stronger than ever.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available? 

The next book will dive deeper into being trapped in my own body living a life of existing and not being able to identify with it, however a deeper knowing that something didn’t feel right. I will be sharing healing techniques that one can use to bring healing to themselves and real-life story events, and cases of how the techniques have saved not only my life but the lives of others. Revealing and disclosing an epidemic that is swooping the universe and how it’s being associated with everyday common diagnosis causing us to overlook truth. I anticipate the deliverance of this book early in 2019.

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebookWebsite

In my book, I share a variety of examples that are real life-related events, and how each negative event created negative brain patterns. Negative experiences can be transformed into positive brain patterns which create a healthier way of living, and open spiritual pathways toward higher consciousness.

It feels great to be in a state of awareness, and consciousness to know where my life is heading. The things that impacted my life that kept me closed up for so many years no longer have a hold on me. It wasn’t always that way. I had taken on victim energy, and through my transformation, I learned how to release this energy and regain my power. Overcoming these traumas has opened my heart to sharing information as a healing tool for many other people.

My goal is to reach and transform as many lives as possible to awaken other people to this same level of consciousness, one soul at a time tarting with mine. I am inspired and motivated by the outer realms of my mind that which I see but may not yet be visible to others. I try to stay open at all times to receive new information to deliver to those who are open to new possibilities and want to receive healing for the body-mind-spirit.

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The Ability to Manipulate

Jan Marshall Author Interview

Jan Marshall Author Interview

Romance Scam Survivor is an in depth account of your experience with an online scammer. What was the inspiration that made you want to turn your experience into a book?

Initially I gathered all the emails and texts in an attempt to understand what had happened. When I realised I had been scammed I was in a state of disorientation, so did this to try and make sense of it all, to try and see where my judgment had lapsed and how I had slipped up so badly. I chose to put all of this content together in a way that was totally honest, so the reader to see for themselves if they would have done the same thing. Once I had collated all of this I couldn’t look at it for some time.

The rest of the book wasn’t written until several years later. By that time I had done a lot of research and better understood the psychological skills that scammers have, and their ability to manipulate one’s emotions. Later I was writing to show that it is possible to come through the other side of such a devastating and traumatic experience.

It’s obvious in hindsight that this was a scam, but do you feel that there was something that someone could have said that could have helped you?

I was warned several times that it was a scam, but somehow could not believe it. I felt that the relationship was too intimate to be a scam.

I have also worked with others who are in this situation, and know it is very difficult to break through the hypnotic state that a victim is in when they are in a scam. I wish I did know what might have helped, because there are many others who could be helped with this information. There is no silver bullet that I have found, regrettably.

Do you think that finding love online is an inherently vulnerable prospect? Is there a way for people to be both safe and vulnerable online?

I am not against online dating per se. Many people have established and maintained successful relationships and marriages from meeting online. I do think it is important to not give too much away, especially personal details, until you are very confident of your partner.

For those who do want to do date online I would suggest

  • Make sure you only connect with those people you can meet face to face
  • Understand what the red flags are before you begin – later may be too late.
  • Have a friend mentor you in the process, but start with an agreement that you will take their advice. You need someone who will not be emotionally involved.
  • Follow the safety rules that are set up within the dating site – don’t get enticed to go off the site for convenience.
  • Never give money – ANY requests for money are a scam

What advice would you give to someone that is currently online dating?

  • Trust your intuition: If you have any sense that it might or could be a scam then it more than likely is?
  • Make sure you meet face to face.
  • Follow the guidance given above. If any of them raise concerns, it is likely to be a scam.
  • If you do get caught in a scam, report it to the relevant fraud agency.

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Romance Scam Survivor: The Whole Sordid Story by [Marshall, Jan]

“How could you give money to someone you’ve never met?”

That’s the first question most people ask.

For Jan Marshall, life was good. She had worked hard, set herself up well, and was looking for a companion to share her future with. Just as countless thousands around the world do, every day, she turned to online dating.

In just a few months, Jan believed she was ‘in love’. She accepted a proposal of marriage, and then sent money – ALL her money – to a professional scammer.

How did it happen? How can an intelligent person be so thoroughly scammed?

Jan courageously shares the details of her devastating experience, in order to help others recognise such devious swindlers who prey on trusting souls, and maybe even to catch this thief.

You might think it can’t happen to you, or someone you love, but can you be sure?

The work is a non-fiction account and memoir covering the communication between myself and the scammer, based on my records of our communications. By sharing the personal and intimate nature of the interactions it asks the reader to put themselves in my shoes, and in response the question “how could you be so stupid?” is answered. It details the process of dealing emotionally with the scam and the financial difficulties that I found myself in afterwards. It is a story of my process through being a victim to becoming a survivor. Areas that need change are also addressed. Some support resources and links are also provided, though this is not the main purpose.

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A Different Kind of Curiosity

Michael Pronko Author Interview

Michael Pronko Author Interview

The Moving Blade follows detective Hiroshi as he navigates street level politics to solve the murder of an American diplomat. What was the direction that you wanted to take book two in the series that was different from book one?

The direction I wanted to take it is not the direction it ended up going. So, I headed more into the characters, who became more and more interesting. I focused on the roiling tumble of conflicts inside them, and what that might reflect of social, political and historical conflicts outside. I think that’s similar to book one, but because the characters are embedded into a larger framework of political pressures and international relations, their actions resonate differently. The canvas is broader in this second book, and I go deeper into Tokyo, to see the background of the characters and their choices, good and bad.

I enjoyed the mix of interesting characters throughout the novel. Who was your favorite character to write for?

I like all of them. Well, I don’t like the bad guys, but I like hating them. My favorites were maybe the bookstore owner twins and the radical leftist. They were fun to write and to put in scenes together, the twins steady and demure and the leftist stridently angry. Sakaguchi, the ex-sumo wrestler, is always fun to write for. He has this core set of values that is rock solid Japanese. When he explodes, he really explodes. And of course, Hiroshi developed and grew as a person and as a detective, in perhaps meandering ways, but human ways. The women characters are great to write for, too, as they pull the story in their direction.

It quickly unfolds that the missing manuscript was the driving factor behind the diplomat’s death. How do you balance storytelling with mystery and action to ensure readers are engaged to the very last page?

Among all the different types of mysteries, whodunnits, whydunnits, I-dunnits, I didn’t-do-its, I tend towards the why. Maybe because I was a philosophy major? Not-knowing who creates a different kind of curiosity than not-knowing why. Withholding certain pieces of information is essential. As Alfred Hitchcock pointed out, if you know there’s a bomb under the table, but the characters don’t…well, that’s suspense. And if you don’t know why the bomb is under the table in the first place, it’s really intriguing. As jazz musicians often say, and I think Mozart said it originally, the music is not in the notes, but in the silence between. I think writing should be aware of what’s not spoken, what’s not known. The unknowns make you lean in and pay attention.

Where will book three in the Detective Hiroshi series take readers? 

Book three is called Tokyo Traffic. The story revolves around a young Thai girl who gets lost in Tokyo, after running away from some horrible people. She is rescued by a young Japanese woman who lives in an internet café and plays in a rock band. Most of the story takes place in the nighttime youth hangouts in Shibuya and Shimokitazawa, another side of Tokyo. The detectives are the same, though Hiroshi has moved in with his college girlfriend and Takamatsu is off suspension. It goes deeper into the characters and deeper into Tokyo.

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The Moving Blade by [Pronko, Michael]

When the top American diplomat in Tokyo, Bernard Mattson, is killed, he leaves more than a lifetime of successful Japan-American negotiations. He leaves a missing manuscript, boxes of research, a lost keynote speech and a tangled web of relations.

When his alluring daughter, Jamie, returns from America wanting answers, finding only threats, Detective Hiroshi Shimizu is dragged from the safe confines of his office into the street-level realities of Pacific Rim politics.

With help from ex-sumo wrestler Sakaguchi, Hiroshi searches for the killer from back alley bars to government offices, through anti-nuke protests to military conspiracies. When two more bodies turn up, Hiroshi must choose between desire and duty, violence or procedure, before the killer silences his next victim.

THE MOVING BLADE is the second in the Tokyo-based Detective Hiroshi series by award-winning author Michael Pronko.

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All This Craziness Around Him

Sal Nudo Author Interview

Sal Nudo Author Interview

The Newspaperman is an intriguing horror novel that follows Seth as he encounters a newspaperman selling newspapers with bizarre stories. What was the inspiration for the newspaperman and the stories he sells?

The story stemmed from this vision I had of a swarthy-looking, rough-around-the-edges guy—Cedrick, the Newspaperman—who’s trying to be an enthusiastic gentleman but isn’t fooling the main character of the story, Seth Kesler. I liked the idea of such a guy replacing the wholesome image we’ve all seen of the young boy from the 1930s selling newspapers on the corner, so I put Cedrick in Depression-era clothing and let him go to town in the year 2016. That whole image I had of Cedrick on the street corner kind of got the story off and running. In the beginning, the stories in the C-U Journal are legitimate, but they quickly devolve into total garbage, and poor Seth is the only one who can see that. It’s like an episode of The Twilight Zone.

I wrote the first draft of The Newspaperman in one month in December of 2016, not long after graduating with a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I don’t work as a journalist for a living, but at the time I had all this fresh journalism knowledge, and I needed a new project since I wasn’t in school anymore. So the ideas I had for The Newspaperman just came pouring out. It was fun to write.

This is an entertaining story that is high in social commentary. What were some themes you wanted to focus on when writing this book?

Thank you very much. Obviously I was looking to highlight the sordid fake news we’ve all seen, which has become more prevalent in recent years. Some of those fake stories are very well written, so it can be hard to tell what’s what, especially if you don’t read news from legitimate sources that often. I love the character Meghan, Seth’s wife, in The Newspaperman because she’s such a perfect foil to her husband. He’s almost this journalistic snob while Meghan represents the American masses who mindlessly scroll through their phones all day and night looking at useless junk. She’s clueless in some ways but also lovable. Many things are exaggerated in this book to make a point, so readers should go into the story knowing that.

Beyond the issue of fake news, I wanted to write a book that highlighted the importance of journalism to society in general in a non-political way. On subsequent rewrites after the first draft, I really made an effort to do that. I love the portion of the book where readers get to read Seth’s impassioned letter about why good journalism is crucial, and also the part when he and Meghan are in bed and Seth is explaining why he’s on such a crusade to save journalism. Poor Meghan is crying because she loves Seth and doesn’t want him to step in to any danger, but he plows ahead anyway.

Seth is an interesting character that continued to develop as the story progressed. Did you plan his character progression or did it develop organically?

Thanks. I’d have to say the progression of Seth’s character grew organically as I wrote the story and he grew as he faced these issues. I knew from the get-go that Seth was going to be the one sane guy in this story who could rationally see what was going on, and as he was bumping up against these strange characters and observing all this craziness around him, as you said, his character evolved.

Some people have told me they found Seth’s personality to be rather passive considering all the madness around him, but when I read the book and see the things Seth was trying to do, I don’t view him as passive in the least. In my opinion he was trying hard to change what was around him, all the while in disbelief about what was happening.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

This past summer I wrote a 10,000-word story called The Millionaire’s Gift, which is a sequel to a novel I wrote called The Millionaire’s Cross. It’s supposed to be published in an upcoming anthology, and I’m not sure at this point if I’m at liberty to say who the publisher is. But I hope it comes out and it gets some exposure and people read it.

I had another idea for a novel and was thinking of writing it this November in the National Novel Writing Month contest. I guess I’d better decide pretty quickly if I’m going to do that or not!

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebookWebsite

The Newspaperman by [Nudo, Sal]

Seth Kesler is thrilled to discover that the defunct C-U Journal is making a comeback. He loves newspapers and believes it is his—and society’s—civic duty to read them. But something is deeply off about the new publication in Champaign-Urbana, starting with the oily paper-hawker he dubs the Newspaperman, who hand-sells the C-U Journal for a mere dime on a downtown street corner. Seth’s delight soon turns to dismay when he sees the bizarre stories printed as fact and mysterious goings-on at the once-esteemed paper’s main office. He makes it his goal to put a stop to the whole shady operation, even though it means battling news titan Richard W. Fields, a multimillionaire who represents the worst of an exploitive corporate world.

The Newspaperman is a smart horror/mystery that will keep readers intrigued right up until the gut-punch ending.

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Dagger’s Destiny

Dagger's Destiny (Curse of Clansmen and Kings Book 2) by [Tanner, Linnea]

If you’re looking for a fantastical adventure with a hint of historical influence, then look no further than Dagger’s Destiny by Linnea Tanner. Beginning in Britannia when the Romans were making their presence known to the island nation, we are thrust into the center of turmoil. This is book two in a series, so it’s advisable to read the first installment before continuing. However, even if you come into the series with this volume, you will not be disappointed. With our strong female lead, Catrin, we follow the princess as she deals with the possible betrayal of her people by the one she loves, and the cold, unforgiving judgement her father, the king, passes on her because of it. This is only the beginning. It is not easy to break a curse that has been afflicted since your father’s generation. Will Catrin succeed in her father’s stead?

There is never a dull moment in this book, which is useful to those who may be experiencing the series for the first time. Tanner has a clear grasp on the historical aspects of her setting, showing that she has put in some research. This is a fantasy novel, of course, so there are liberties taken. Even so, the way she crafts the tale could make one believe that these are the true stories of an age long gone. It can be difficult to jump into a series without reading the first installment, but Tanner shares enough of the previous book and background so that those who are potentially new, or who have taken a long break between, will not be lost. Because her story is so intricate it’s easy to get caught up in what’s happening. This is a wonderful skill that successful writers hone for years.

It can be difficult to make a book exciting, full of action, romance, and fantasy and still balance it with great characters. Catrin is our lead: she is strong, special and proud. A princess of Britannia who is in love with a man of Rome. A love like theirs is not welcomed in this age: her beloved is the enemy and she is seen as a fool. Despite her challenges, Catrin continues to rise above them, even if she is knocked down for a short period of time. This character creation shows the author’s dedication to telling a great story. So often tales that are full of action boast flat characters. Catrin seems to be alive within the pages of this book.

If you are looking for an exciting adventure that leaves you wanting more, do not pass up Dagger’s Destiny. Boasting fully developed characters and a well-defined setting, this book caters to all readers. The romance, fantasy, action and subterfuge are sure to win over readers from several genres. The core of the story is stable and the writing is excellent. A great addition to anyone’s bookshelf.

Pages: 333 | ASIN: B07G3G4G55

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An Unknown Space

Eleanor Tremayne Author Interview

Eleanor Tremayne Author Interview

Destiny Revealed begins with Gabby in a precarious situation, one that propels readers into an intriguing adventure. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?

The 1960’s was a fascinating time to be a teenager, although none of us realized it until much later in life. The historical events, music, art, pop culture, all contributed in many ways to who we are today. I knew many “Gabbys” in my high school in California. I experienced the loss of a “Jake” at an early age, as a result of the Vietnam war. In college I studied Literature, graduated with a BA and MA in English and became a high school teacher. Those years resulted in my continued appreciation for every author that I taught, even those that I was not always fond of. It was always my desire to be a writer. And, although I believed I could be successful, those years were so busy, teaching, raising a family, living life that there was little time for writing. Finally, once retired from teaching, and moving to the Midwest, my passion to write returned. As I met other people from this region, one thing that we all had in common was our memories of the ‘60s. This is when I decided to create a story that my generation, and hopefully others, could relate to; the desire to sometimes want to revisit those wonderful early years, and even reflect on what might have happened differently based on our choices.

In Destiny Revealed, the sequel to my first novel, Destiny Revisited, it begins where the last one ended, Tybee Beach near Savannah, Georgia. Gabby has come full circle and is still struggling to understand why happiness is eluding her.

My objective with this novel, was to answer all of the questions that still remained at the end of the first novel, now that all of the characters are approaching middle age. This is why I provided the history backdrop to the the two main characters, still living, Caden Cassidy and Sterling Powers. Destiny Revealed hopefully will add a new dimension that readers will appreciate.

I enjoyed how Gabby’s character continued to develop as the story progressed. What were some themes you wanted to capture in her character and the relationship with the men in her life?

Gabriella, means , a gift of strength from God. In this novel it will take her as much patience and self reliance as possible to make it through her complicated life. Each of the men in her life, Jake Girard, Caden Cassidy, Alex Blair, and Sterling Powers have contributed to her growth as a woman. But, it is not until she meets the mysterious lady, Maggie Mendoza, born on the same day she is, forty years later, and experiencing the same life threatening experience, on the same day, two thousand miles apart, is she able to realize how strong she is. Although I provide clues to the reader about what will ultimately happen, I am hoping that the conclusion is powerful and surprising.

The story has underpinning of a supernatural force at work, but I felt that the novel was well grounded in reality. How did you balance this while writing?

Balancing the supernatural with reality happens everyday, people just don’t always realize it. Whether it is prayer, or astrology, or a Shaman who performs rituals in Catemaco, Veracruz, people are in search of relief from their pain. By including Jake’s journals, Gabby believes she will be connected to him, even in death. The coincidence between Maggie and Gabby are both mysterious yet, realistic. We just do not always have the opportunity to meet our doppelgängers. My intention is to lead the reader into an unknown space without making it uncomfortable.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

Seven Days in Lebanon, my third novel, takes a totally different approach than my first two novels. It is based on the true story of my grandmother’s exile from St. Petersburg, Russia during The Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 and her marriage to the last Prince of Kiva. This is a historical fiction that is now complete and will be available at the first of next year.

The Mermaid’s grandmother is my next novel that I am currently writing. Although not completely “fleshed “ out it will be a story told by an aging mermaid that lives a normal life with a few idiosyncrasies. Her grandson, also part merman does not have any idea about his heritage. The bond that the two of them share, will offer readers a new perspective on some traditional legends.

Author Links: Amazon | Twitter

Destiny Revealed by [Tremayne, Eleanor]

“Where the hell are you, Gabby?” Is what Caden Cassidy wants to know and Destiny Revisited readers are also asking. It is also what Gabriella Gerard Blair wants to discover.

Floating in the freezing Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by ashes, Gabby has no idea why she is at Tybee Beach and who saved her from drowning. It is Sterling Powers, a man from her past, who she turns to for some answers.

What Gabby finds is more questions than any answers. Can Caden convince Gabby that fate has finally allowed them another chance at happiness? What secrets are Sterling keeping from Gabby, and why? Will Jake’s journals be her guidebook to the parallel universe?

Perhaps the answers will finally be found at The Hotel California, in Todos Santos, Mexico when she meets the proprietor, Eleanor Rigby. It is here when Gabby, in desperation, decides to visit a Shaman located at Catamaco, Veracruz, the capital of sorcery.

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Mall Hair Maladies

Mall Hair Maladies by [Volchko, Kristy Jo]

Mall Hair Maladies by Kristy Jo Volchko is a delightful throwback story that will take 80’s kids down memory lane. The book follows Tanya, the new kid in school, Randi, and their single parents. The two meet and quickly become inseparable best friends. Volchko describes a year in the life of two 13 year old girls in 1980’s America. Volchko delves into “a day in the life” right down to big, crimped, hair-sprayed hair, fingerless gloves, and arms lined with multi-colored jelly bracelets. The biggest obstacle in the girls’ lives is finding a way to go to the local Madonna concert. She’s their idol, and they will do just about anything to hear her belting her songs in person.

Volchko writing feels like a genuine first-hand account of crazy events told across a dinner table. Grammar and spelling are impeccable. Everything flows perfectly. Characters were well developed, with each one having enough background story for readers to get a good grip on who they are. The setting and different scenarios were described well. Volchko has a way of making you feel like you are right there with the characters mixing up things in the kitchen, having an awkward dinner with an uptight relative, or smoking in the girls room. I felt invested in her characters and their lives.

I loved the throwbacks to the 1980’s. I lived them, and the essence of that era was captured perfectly. Readers from that time will relate to the characters. They will see themselves and reminisce over their own 80’s stories. I love the real references to the music and fashion of the time. It was a simpler time in many ways, but pop culture, music, and fashion were anything but simple.

The story is a nice throwback to a safer time for kids. They could hop on a bus unattended and go all over town and return relatively unscathed. They had little fear of anything bad happening to them at all. Bad things happened, of course, but they didn’t seem so frequent. Volchko conveys that time of simplicity and relative safety very well. I’m not so sure the story would have played out the same if it was set in today’s world. It was nice to escape back to that time for a little while.

I love how easily the girls become best friends. I think we sometimes forget how simple that was as children. Two strangers implicitly trusted and loved each other without the bat of a fake eyelash, just because they did. They met. They liked each other. Simple.

Without getting too heavy, Volchko exposes some problems that commonly arise in families. These aren’t 80’s problems, but timeless problems. Tanya has an absent father, and Randi has an absent mother. Tanya’s grandmother is judgmental, hateful, and a huge source of stress for the family. Volchko shows how the characters deal with those issues. She gives examples of difficult family dynamics and how the characters navigate those storms. She also gives some hope with the introduction of a less dysfunctional family toward the end.

I’d recommend this book to anyone in middle school and up, though 80’s kids may appreciate it the most. I couldn’t have asked for more out of this book. Volchko has made me a fan. I loved the story. I loved the characters. I loved the writing. I would love to read more of her work.

Pages: 265 | ASIN: B079SQYLRZ

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Powderfinger Trailer

“Powderfinger” is a present-day scary horror story set mainly on the decrepit, abandoned but soon to be redeveloped, bank of an old canal between two towns. It centres on an old tar works known as Raven’s Gate. Nick Swann is a world weary mid-forties widower and Assistant Probation Warden at St Joseph’s Hostel for young male criminals, situated overlooking the canal and Raven’s Gate. A woman is brutally killed on the bank opposite the Hostel on a night when Nick is on duty. Nick believes his lads had nothing to do with it, though consequently Nick is suspended for issuing too many late passes at once. Then another woman is killed and Nick becomes drawn into discovering the culprit. He works with DCI Findlay and DS Deacon as the murder toll rises. Together with help from his old friends Alan and Hugo, Nick’s research uncovers a long series of similar murders in the same area, stretching back through the centuries. “Powderfinger” as the killer is dubbed, appears to be some kind of ancient mellifluous, malevolent, murderous being that attacks anyone it considers to be disturbing its peace and quiet. Eventually, as the story climaxes, Findlay, Deacon, Nick and Alan set a trap to lure “Powderfinger” to his doom and rid the area of this beast once and for all. Yet, traps can swing both ways.

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