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Death’s Cheat

Jed Cullen Author Interview

Zaven follows a group of high school friends who are in the middle of a Zombie pandemic and must rely on each other for survival.  What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

Funnily enough, being bored with my friends during high school gave me the ideas for the book. A lot of characters in the book are based off my school mates. When they read it, I hope they don’t find themselves too difficult to stomach.

How do you balance story development with shocking plot twists? Or can they be the same thing?

I start with the ending in mind. Zaven is the first book in a sequel and I have the final conclusion being the key aspect that I strive towards. With an ending developed first, the story balance and twists are quite simple to implement.

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

My main theme was the definition of a Zombie. Ultimately, Tyler is the true zombie throughout the book as he blindly follows other’s advice without any contextual knowledge. Since Zaven is written in first person from Tyler’s perspective, the reader get’s the story through his eyes… This makes the reader as blindsided as Tyler. Overall, poor decisions result from poor observation.

The other main theme is Death’s cheat. It is symbolised time and time again throughout the book, though, readers will have to look deeper to find the meaning.

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

I am currently working on the sequel to Zaven. It will likely not be available for a while due to my commitment to work. Nonetheless, the story is mapped out and there will be no loose ends. It will come full circle and answer all possible questions.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Detention on your first day of High School is one thing, but your teacher trying to eat you is a bit over the top… Set in Florida, America, Tyler Graham and his friends must band together and survive a zombie pandemic where lawlessness and violence becomes a new means of morality.

Guardian

Guardian: Into the Light of Day, by J L Meredith, is about an alien who takes a human’s body to bring her back to life. In this new body, this alien took on the human’s name, Elizabeth, and energy, but since she isn’t genuinely human, she lives on. Over eight centuries, she has worked to save lives without revealing her identity. This changes when an asteroid is about to hit Earth. Elizabeth stops it, but the explosion sends her crashing back down with meteorites. Caught on video, Elizabeth loses her anonymity. In the turmoil of this and the meteorites, meta-humans emerge, there’s a media frenzy, and one politician seeks to take advantage. Among this, a more significant threat emerges, one that wants to use Elizabeth to destroy Earth.

I enjoyed that it wasn’t just a superhero comic book. While Elizabeth wasn’t truly human, she was relatable. As a doctor, she wanted to keep people safe and save their lives, but she didn’t want to be in the spotlight.

Meredith did a great job of making Elizabeth strong and courageous. But he also gave her a couple of enemies that weren’t easy for her to overcome. However, her heart and willingness to help really brought her to life.

Guardian into the Light of Day, by J L Meredith, provides readers with a great story, a great protagonist, and some nail-biting moments. This action and adventure superhero novel will keep readers engaged from the start and even give them a bit of romance without going over the top.

Pages: 522 | ASIN : B09ML7V944

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Derelict: A Divemaster Ricky Mystery

Ricky Yamamoto, a scuba diving guide comes to Egypt during a time of political unrest for work only to find herself caught up in a perplexing mystery. Sasha, a fellow scuba diver, goes missing one night during a routine dive. This leaves Ricky and her team shaken. As she tries to come to terms with the possibility of never seeing Sasha again, she is met with unexplainable events that lead her to suspect that there’s more to the disappearance than she thought.

Derelict, by Tracy Grogan, immerses readers in a world full of culture and introduces readers to breathtaking landscapes and exotic locations deep in the northern parts of Africa. The author crafts a strong and quick-thinking female character that never gives up hope; and was one that I loved following. Ricky is an anchor in this suspenseful yet heartwarming story about connections and greed. The secrets and hidden agendas of every character introduced to readers will keep them engaged and guessing the whole way.

The author’s conversational and descriptive way of writing makes this book great for readers who enjoy rich scenes and being immersed in a moment. While I enjoyed the mystery at the heart of this story, I was really drawn to the well developed characters. They felt authentic, or as genuine as a character can be when embarking on a riveting adventure.

Derelict is an enthralling adventure novel that skips the purple prose to give readers a story that is immensely entertaining because it’s so easy to read. Readers who are looking for an action oriented story will enjoy Ricky and the Russian’s fast-paced chase scene while those who find investigations entertaining will love Detective Bakhoum’s sharp no-nonsense attitude.

If you’re looking for the next crime thriller to get lost in then Derelict is heartily recommended. With a puzzling mystery and some compelling characters, this book is fun all around.

Pages: 398 | ASIN: B0B6GRL2L9

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A No Holds Barred Imagine-fest

Michael Bialys Author Interview

In Book III the Triumviratus Makenna’s dad’s soul is taken to the lowest level of Hell and her two best friends traverse the nine levels of hell to rescue her dad’s soul. What were some sources that inspired this novels development?

Certainly, a big influence was Dante’s Inferno. I even reference it in the book.  Another big influence was my wife, Misty. She tends to push me to write more emotionally and graphically. 

I enjoyed how creative this story is. What scene in the book did you have the most fun writing?

I really enjoyed writing the scenes when the boys are travelling through the Under realms. This for me was a no holds barred imagine-fest. When you are creating your own version of hell, there are no limits. The biggest challenge was making it original and real all at the same time. 

Your characters continue to be as interesting as ever. What character do you feel you resonate with the most?

I would have to say the character I resonate with the most is the irascible, wise-cracking Fluffy. He is my humorous voice, and he is just fun to write. 

What can readers expect in book four in The Chronicles of the Virago series?

In the next in the series, readers can expect love triangles, more secrets of Makenna’s origins, more from the twin-gift Emilyne and Noah, and a host of new colorful characters. 

Author Links: GoodReads | Website

Makenna Gold is the Virago. At barely thirteen-years-old, she has been entrusted by the forces of good to protect her twin siblings Emi and Noah from the evil forces that seek to destroy them. The infant twins are destined to lead our world into its next age of Hope and Enlightenment: if and only if they survive. In this follow up to the series, the stakes have just gotten higher. Makenna’s dad’s soul has been captured and is being taken to the lowest level of Hell. Makenna must stay on Earth to protect her siblings, while her two best friends Stephen, a gifted clairvoyant and Sam, a genius level Game-master, traverse the nine levels of hell to rescue her dad’s imperiled soul. The heroic efforts of these three friends will be tested to their limits, while the entire World is at stake. Will their combined gifts be enough to save the world, or will it cost them their own lives?

Payback

Pay Back by Malcolm Chester is a thrilling read that is filled with edge-of-your-seat action. Ralph Tager has been through a lot over the span of one month, from losing his brothers in arms due to an ambush, to his nine year old daughter being abducted, to his wife being killed while trying to protect their daughter. Now he seeks revenge. After retiring from the Navy, he is hired by a billionaire to be part of a group called the Pay Back, who hunt and kill pedophiles.

This explosive novel reads just like an action movie, and reminds me of the hit TV show 24 starring Kiefer Sutherland. Ralph Tager is an interesting character and one that readers will enjoy following. I feel like he is someone that many readers think of when they fantasize about being an action hero. He is good looking, smart, skilled with weapons and has a loving wife and daughter. He is the epitome of an action hero and I was left wanting to know more about him. All of this changes once he loses everything and you see his rage drive his decisions. I couldn’t help but root for him even though in law enforcements eyes he is breaking the law.

There are a lot of dimensions to the plot, but author Malcolm Chester keeps things relentlessly moving forward. I enjoyed the quick pace and succinct dialogue that gets right to the point. Ralph’s experiences were laid out neatly for him. I would have enjoyed seeing Ralph challenged a bit more because I felt like he was well equipped to handle the obstacles in front of him and I was rarely worried about him. Ralph’s character goes through many transitions in his life which I felt flowed seamlessly into each chapter and made it easy for the reader to visualize the time lapse.

This is a riveting action drama that goes into some sensitive subjects that some readers may want to avoid. Pay Back is a book that is laser focused on entertaining the reader with drama, action, suspense and a strong protagonist driving the story forward. I would recommend this book to readers looking for an action adventure story that removes the fluff and turns the action up to eleven.

Pages: 228 | ASIN: B07Z9Q5FST

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From Where I Sit

Written by Ray Lecara Jr, From Where I Sit is a collection of short stories. Easy to read and engaging, there are five stories to enjoy. Beginning with Scent of Juniper, an exciting, short-action thriller detailing a world war two agent’s mission to locate and acquire a rare Faberge egg. The story plunges straight into the middle of the action as assassins launch an attack. With a fast pace, it is instantly absorbing and finishes on a cliffhanger, leaving me keen to read on and find out what happens next.  

A Life Lost Living is the following short story in the collection. I particularly enjoyed this one. The main character was thoughtfully crafted. It details the friendship between a young bartender and an elderly veteran who drinks in his establishment. Through conversations, the elderly man reveals the story of his life, his sorrows, his bitterness, and the effects of war on his life. He is alone, estranged from his family, with his wife and parents long dead. The complexity of the father/child relationship is examined in this story, as is the ever-present question of the point of living, especially when the burdens and regrets weigh heavily in older age. The ending is original and poignant. It is an emotional piece of writing with beautiful descriptions of the New England winter and the connections to land, memory, and childhood.  

Goldie, the next story, showcases man’s love for their most loyal companion, the dog. A touching tale of loss and how people can move forward even when they think they won’t. One Night In Bangkok is a super short story featuring another canine companion protecting their chosen human in a funny set of events.  

The final story in the collection Old Lang Syne features two lovers reconnecting after years apart when they accidentally bump into each other on new years eve. Catching up on how their lives unfolded after they split, they are able to rehash the events that led to their break up. This is an interesting look at how life evolves and changes as people progress. In addition, it looks at the difficulties people face with mental health struggles and how they can overcome them. 

I really enjoyed reading the short stories. They were all well-written, and the characters were easy to engage with. I had no problem becoming invested in any of the characters or the stories. Each story examined different areas of the human condition and the emotional aspects of life. I liked the fact you can dip in and quickly read each story. The premise of each individual story was exciting and original. The characters were convincing, and the quality of the writing was good. Each story flowed nicely, and the dialogue was well-crafted and easy to read. 

Pages: 131 | ASIN : B0B8DKJV1Y

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The Palladium

The Palladium follows a dispirited and lonely writer who’s trying to find his way back into life. He is lured to a bizarre hotel by the promise of a cash prize from a pirate radio station. With a bit of help from a curious bell hop, he stumbles into Wonderland just like Alice. From that moment on his life takes a series of supernatural turns, from slight to outlandish, that sets him on a wild and immensely entertaining journey. When a supernatural portal materializes in his living room and a woman jumps out and punches him in the chin, I knew I was hooked.

“Imagine it as a twisted game based on an ancient contract between a divine being and the realms of hell. And every person on this … planet, alive or dead, is not only a potential player but also the bet.”The Palladium

Author Thorsten Brandl has created a story with an innate sense of mystery and intrigue. This urban fantasy novel exudes magic, action, and adventure throughout. Readers follow two main protagonists who separately are thrust into surreal situations before eventually coming together to embark on an epic journey.

I was enthralled with Michael’s story from the beginning. There was a palpable air of intrigue that was so fascinating. While I was a bit confused by the POV switch between chapters, I was excited to see that Cleo and Michael’s storylines collide. The story immerses the reader in the action and starts building the world’s lore right from the beginning. There are so many questions built into the storyline which, even when answered, lead to further questions. This left me always wanting to know.

Creative imagery and powerful metaphors are two elements that really stand out in this book. This is a unique urban fantasy novel with some intriguing mystical elements that is hard to put down. The writing is inventive and gives the whole story a magical atmosphere. There are many elements and locations throughout that are enhanced by the authors use of vivid imagery. Every character in the story has their own unique flair or feel. What’s interesting, and a nod to the authors writing talent, is that the characters are rarely simply described. Their uniqueness comes about naturally and through the story, which gives them surprising depth that I always relished.

The Palladium is wonderfully written and wildly imaginative. Thorsten Brandl’s novel reminds me of Jordanna Max Brodsky extraordinary reimagining of Greek mythology in her book ‘The Immortals’, but with the inherent fun of Dan Hanks ‘Swashbucklers’ novel. I heartily recommend this slick adventure novel for its creative use of mythology, history, exceptional character building, and relentlessly entertaining plot.

Pages: 327 | ASIN : B0BD6Y4ZB8

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Dane Thorburn and Nature’s Revenge

After saving Princess Vanessa from the City of Lost Souls, Dane Thorburn has to deal with another problem, because, of course, there’s no opportunity for heroes to rest—dragons. A significant threat follows our character throughout their journey, and it’s enough to keep your eyes glued to the page.

Dane Thorburn and Nature’s Revenge by Matt Galanos is a fantastical and adventurous story that deals with mystery and mythical beings and is a story that challenges the norms of certain archetypes, such as the hero and the Princess. Accompanied by Lord Frederick, Will, and other memorable characters, Dane needs to figure out precisely what these mythical beasts are doing, how they came to be, and what they want with the Princess.

Within this exciting story, there. It isn’t a moment where adventure isn’t happening. Every chapter is full of questions and excitement, and by the end of every chapter, events are happening in ways that will make you want to read the next chapter and then the next—it’s a book I didn’t want to put down. Though there are grammatical errors here and there, it’s nothing too bad to the point where you can’t understand what is trying to be said.

A large cast was introduced, all by name, in the first few chapters. Each was diverse in personality and appearance, and the author did a great job of keeping everyone distinctive. Every character mentioned, whether they stay throughout the entire book or are only there for a moment, has a striking personality that sets them apart from one another. It’s extremely impressive, and it takes a great author to distinguish so many distinct personalities.

Dane Thorburn and Nature’s Revenge is a captivating young adult and teen fantasy novel. Though some moments can be confusing, the exploration, adventure, and memorable characters do an even greater job of making such a fantastic book come to life. If you’re looking for a fantasy adventure, I definitely recommend this book.

Pages: 314 | ASIN : B0B8K22HS4

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