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Eve of Awakening: The Onoma Series

Author Alisa Hope Wagner’s Eve of Awakening is set within a dystopian world, but there is a beacon of hope that shines throughout this Christian fiction novel. The author takes readers on a journey to a vivid futuristic world, where humans are strictly divided into two classes – Efficientists and Colonialists. It’s a world where everything is controlled by machines, high performance and high productivity is encouraged, while faith and religion have taken a backseat. The protagonist, Eve, is one of the champion performers of this world – a top-order Efficientist. 

Her outlook on life changes after having a near-death experience. She returns to the life of devotion that she has shunned to prioritize productivity. Readers will follow Eve’s profound journey of awakening to the power of God and learn how he can restore peace and happiness in one’s heart. 

Eve of Awakening is anything but a typical Christian fiction novel. The author has vividly illustrated an ultra-tech-savvy futuristic world while subtly hinting toward the gloomy future humanity is headed towards. Readers will recognize current institutions and technology that parallel the world that the author has created. Covering everything from communications, remote working, shopping, and how we socialize, there is an eerie feeling that our society could be headed in a similar direction as those in the novel.

The author uses easy to understand language to tell her captivating story. It’s easy to get swept away with the story within the first few pages because of how simple language that allows you to lose yourself within the story. The character of Eve is developed with care and attention, giving a detailed back story and showing her growth as she discovers a past she had forgotten. Eve’s internal conflict is relatable to those who have struggled with their spirituality and worked to find their way back to God.

Eve of Awakening is a captivating Christian science fiction novel with a compelling plot and a captivating protagonist. Everything from the characters to the storyline has a sense of intrigue that seems baked into it, which is something that kept me coming back to this novel again and again.

Pages: 291 | ASIN : B00RS1HLLU

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Family Is More Than Just Blood

Neil O’Donnell Author Interview

The Keep in the Marsh follows a boy that lost all he knew to the plague and sets out to find adventure and makes new friends along the way. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

Like the main character, Thomas, I want my parents to be remembered. He plans to devote his life to that goal as do I. Along with that, Thomas is seeking adventure in a realm akin to that of Dungeons and Dragons. The adventures in my book are meant to provide a glimpse of the life of D and D player characters between adventures. How do they pay for housing and food? How do they actually find trainers? And, most importantly, how do they find quests without the aid of a Dungeon Master?

Did you create an outline for the characters in the story before you started writing or did the character’s personalities grow organically as you were writing?

The characters grew organically for the most part during the writing, but I had some fundamental characteristics in mind when starting. I knew I wanted the characters to be out of their depths in starting their adventuring and I wanted them to be fleeing a life they didn’t want to pursue, hoping becoming an adventurer would save them. From there, I wanted the characters to see the sides of an adventurer’s life they didn’t anticipate – the grittier side of adventuring.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Family is more than just blood. We often create an immediate family through circumstances, happenstance and life-long associations. I also wanted to highlight that individuals can learn and adapt to embrace a new life when needed. Lastly… I wanted to show the importance of seeking help when needed.

What can you tell readers about the next book in the series and when will it be available?

I am hoping to have the next book out by early 2023 (Hammer of the Elements). This book was very much following the characters through their “Level 1” development. The next book is building the characters to ‘levels’ 2 and 3, so to speak, with more details of the world being revealed with the gods and their minions presenting more guidance and hurdles for the characters… along with a would-be Dungeon Master. FYI – for readers, I love parody.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Website

A village blacksmith from the middle of nowhere, Thomas seeks adventure after surviving a plague that eradicated his homeland.
Following his father’s advice and heading east, Thomas finds himself entwined in a surge of attacks by a thieves’ guild knows as Neydis. Similarly lost adventurers soon join him along the Queen’s Road, and they set their sights on breaking through the grasp of Neydis and finding “safe” adventure in dungeons without any dragons.
Thomas and his group may be reckless, but they aren’t stupid. Who would knowingly mess with a dragon? Find out in The Keep In The Marsh, the first book in Neil O’Donnell’s series of epic fantasy adventures.

Crude Awakenings 

Crude Awakenings takes places in Tyler County, Texas, 1987. The story follows Cooper, a former high school football star who now works for a local oil company. As the story begins Cooper has had enough of working for other people and has grand plans to start his own company alongside his best friend, Lester. Cooper’s current boss, and father figure, My Hightower has agreed to bankroll the entire operation. Unfortunately for Cooper Mr. Hightower’s son, Chuck has other plans. Mr. Hightower passes away and Chuck seizes control of his father’s company. Chuck has always hated Cooper and he soon sets to work ruining Cooper’s life. Almost instantly Cooper finds himself jobless, single and with no investment.

Crude Awakenings is Cooper’s rags to riches story. Chuck makes sure Cooper starts with nothing and we watch his rise to glory, with the help of his friends. It’s not a pretty story, however. Cooper must put his morals aside and literally beg, steal, and borrow to make a comeback. What’s he stealing? Used cooking grease…

Cooper is an easy to root for hero, he’s an everyman who has fallen on hard times. Surrounding him are a host of eccentric side characters who help lift the mood of the novel and add delightful comic relief. Small town camaraderie is a major theme here. The artwork is minimalistic and for the most part it is easy to follow, although I feel like things can get a little messy in the action scenes. The artwork does a great job of conveying the story without distracting from it.

Crude Awakenings takes a story about the second-hand grease market in a small town and turns it into a fascinating graphic novel. This lively story has a host of intriguing and well defined characters on a path that was unpredictable but a blast to follow. Crude Awakenings is a quirky but entertaining story that I highly recommended for a quick, feel-good read.

Pages: 151 | ASIN: B089G71TY8

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The Keep in the Marsh

Thomas never imagined that, at only seventeen, he’d end up on his own and traveling an unfamiliar path. But, of course, he never imagined a plague coming and killing nearly his entire village, including his parents, either. Striking out in a different direction than the other survivors, Thomas soon comes across trouble and a group of adventurers needing guidance. But, as he and his new friends find themselves formulating a plan in the hopes of finding untold riches, they all realize that there is a lot to learn about themselves and the world.

The Keep in the Marsh: Escaping Dragons Book 1 is the first in a planned series of fantasy adventure books by Neil O’Donnell. O’Donnell’s worldbuilding is well-thought-out, with the various intricately detailed villages, an eclectic assortment of inhabitants, and a group of heroes that will instantly be familiar to anyone who has ever played a DnD campaign.

Much of the book is dedicated to the introduction and character development of its five main characters, with the occasional fight scene to help create conflict. Despite following a well-traveled road, the story stays fresh and keeps the characters interesting, doing well to avoid obvious tropes with some of them.

For the most part, the adventure faced by Thomas, Haley, Sully, Siegfried, and Jeffrey is relatively tame, falling in line with what one could expect to deal with in such a situation. By the end, however, things have escalated quickly, setting up a second book that promises to hit the ground running.

In line with the general adventuring themes, this novel explores the ideas of friendship, trust, and finding yourself. As the book goes on, each character grows up and pushes themselves beyond any previous experience, at times out of necessity. As their “leader,” Thomas seems at times much older than his years with his knowledge and ability to survive. However, he realizes that there are things even he can learn along the way. 

I enjoyed every bit of this book! The familiar narrative was comforting, and nothing about it felt repetitive or overdone. The last part of the book is exciting and will shock readers, leaving them waiting for the next installment of the series.

The Keep in the Marsh is a rousing epic fantasy that is sure to capture readers’ attention with an exciting adventure and memorable cast of characters. This thrilling novel takes readers on an epic journey into a new fantasy world where they might just end up fighting a dragon.

Pages: 147 | ASIN : B09VK75V3D

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Wrath of Justice

Wrath of Justice by author Denna Holm dives into a bleak future where many people sacrifice nearly everything they have just to survive. It’s a world where food is limited, and raising a family isn’t an option for most people in a global wasteland. As a result, many parents make the difficult decision to sell one or more children, or make a deal with demons, to secure a better chance in life. For some, an adventurous, dangerous path is the ticket to salvation.

If you’re looking for an exciting indulgence, Wrath of Justice will keep you engaged from the very start. The story centers around Justice, who finds himself sold to a run-down brothel, where he’s destined to exist among the most brutal layer of society. His only chance of escape is an offer from a hunter, where he faces a new level of darkness. However, he finds a glimmer of hope and love throughout his journey between demons and debauchery.

This story weaves through the layers of a futuristic, post-apocalyptic world that offers more beneath the surface, with more significant risks, facing demons, and a thirst for basic survival. Justice learns more than he bargains for, and his life takes unexpected turns when he joins forces with Michael Santos. The characters are well developed and captivating, weaving a thrilling narrative through a dark future with a few plots twists. I enjoyed the pace and vibrant contrast of witches, demons, and brave characters weaving through a dreary landscape with lots of surprises.

Wrath of Justice is a thrilling novel that combines paranormal romance with action and suspense. This engaging book moves along quickly, with lots of steamy tension and unexpected turns, so readers will want to keep going to see what happens next. Overall this is a well-crafted and exciting story.

Pages: 379 | ASIN : B09PWLCMC8

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The Adventurers and the Treasure Cave

There is something mysterious going on, and Chris and Bea can’t quite pinpoint what it is. They know very little, but they work hard to put all the pieces together. They know this trip to their cousins’ house is sudden, and their father acts very suspiciously. Their mother is distracted–more than is typical for her. Nothing is adding up, and the two of them know one thing–this plan to stay with cousins they don’t actually remember meeting is the last thing they had on their agenda. Something is waiting for Chris and his sister, Bea, but what?

The Adventurers and the Treasure Cave, by Isabel Ricardo, follows the relationship between young cousins forced to spend time together despite their differences. However, when suspicious circumstances send Chris and Bea to stay with Tony and Daniel, things become heated before they have a chance to begin their adventure together. Between the differences in the way they are being raised and the distraction of Chris and Bea’s pet crow, Jack, it seems these four will never be able to come to an understanding, much less get to the bottom of the mystery before them.

Jack keeps the story light and brings something new to every page. Ricardo does a beautiful job of writing the family dynamic–the family unit is a strong part of Ricardo’s overall theme. We don’t all have perfect families where everyone always gets along and actually wants to be together. Her description of the altercations between cousins is dead-on and adds an element of reality to her tale. The little quirks she includes make her characters believable, and their exchanges are relatable. As a teacher, I love incorporating history into this fiction story. I appreciate the opportunity to bring history and geography into lessons whenever possible. I will state that there is mild cursing, so it’s not a book I would choose to read aloud with students. Ricardo gives readers reasons to explore outside the book once they are done reading and encourages the study of historical events and the origins of legends.

The Adventurers and the Treasure Cave is a wonderful mystery for younger readers who enjoy historical accuracy mixed in with their fiction. With vivid imagery and relatable characters, this exciting novel will quickly win over fans.

Pages: 199 | ISBN : 1949868354

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The Quest for the Lost Map

The Quest for the Lost Map by Isabel Ricardo starts by taking you back to 1307. A secret order has just been given by King Philip IV to capture, imprison, torture, and kill all Knights Templar in France. However, Grand Master Jacques de Molay discovered word of the plan. He calls upon Templar Jean-Luc to escape before the captures begin, entrusting him with the safekeeping and safety of a very important map. Jean-Luc flees for safe land in Portugal where he cannot be captured, with the map tucked safely away. There, he lives the remainder of his life with other Knights Templar, safe from King Philip IV’s harsh sentence.

Fast forward to the present day. Gabrielle and her kids, Andy and Kelly, have just been given the opportunity to vacation in Sesimbra. The only catch is that they have to take on Mike, the troubled son of a family friend. On vacation, they meet the mysterious Sarah, a teenager with a dark secret.

At the same time, a group of men has been hired to seek out the secret map from so long ago. Through misfortune and a lot of adventure, the teenagers and the dangerous men all end up with the same mission; finding the map that will lead them to the Holy Grail. 

The author writes in a way that draws you into the story immediately. From the first line to the last, readers will be fully immersed and wondering what was going to happen next. The backstory of Jean-Luc and the Templars is based on factual events in history that will entice historical fiction readers. The author does an excellent job of describing the scene without becoming redundant. She tied up the backstory of the Kings Templar nicely without a lot of unneeded fluff.

The Quest for the Lost Map really started to pick up speed when it flips to the present time. Readers will laugh and relate to the relationship between siblings Andy and Kelly. Kelly is the typical sister, annoyed at everything her brother does. When it counts, though, they are there for one another. It was nice to see them grow in maturity, too, through lessons learned from Mike and Sarah. Sarah’s rough past made her grow up quickly, but she certainly taught her new friends some important life lessons.

This novel shows the strong bond of friendship among the teens, everybody comes together to help a girl in need. Sarah has not had an easy life, she is not use to anyone being willing to help her. Although they have only just met her, everybody really comes together to help get her out of her situation. The unity and close bonds remind you that there are good people out there. Of course, that isn’t to say that the kids don’t try to take matters into their own hands when things aren’t moving quickly enough for their liking.

When it comes to the group of men searching for the secret map, they are supposed to be dangerous. Instead, they seem more grumpy and irritated but not threatening. Isabel Ricardo does a great job inserting humor as the teens outsmart the men on more than one occasion.

The Quest for the Lost Map: The Port of the Grail Trilogy Book 1 will entertain historical fiction lovers, especially those that have a passion for the Knights Templar. Readers that enjoy young adult fiction will find enjoyment following the teens adventures and antics. This is a great start to the series.

Pages: 335 | ISBN: 1949868427

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