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Ulan

Ulan, by Rick Stepp-Bolling, is a prequel to The Patch Man. The story follows Ulan as she navigates a war between Summia and Imperia. Ulan comes into her own and sets the stage for many other characters in this novel. Ulan is a young girl in a poor living situation. Her father is a shell of the man he was before the war and abuses his wife and daughter. Ulan is outside of the compound after curfew and surrounded by six boys, taunting her, and making her feel unsafe. A militia, the Imperial Panthers, put an end to their actions by brutally killing the boys. Ulan is left alive to send a message to others in the compound. What Ulan witnessed changes her forever and puts her on a path to finding herself and her strength.

The thing that stood out to me with this book, looking back, is the characters. The characters in this intrepid adventure story were all methodically developed throughout the book and felt like thoughtfully crafted and layered characters by the end of the novel. Each character had their own unique development but kept the reader always wanting to learn more about them. I know I was looking forward to seeing how they would react to certain situations I saw coming.

The relationship between Bas, Ulan, and Tara were my favorite to read about throughout the novel. Bas is tasked with leading Ulan out of the compound and decides she is worthy of saving. He brings her to a sanctuary where she can learn how to use her gift and control herself. Tara is a Lore Mistress who becomes meaningful to Ulan and helps her learn their ways. Tragedy strikes at the sanctuary which prompts Ulan to get revenge. Reading about the strength Ulan develops and seeing who she becomes was the best part of the story. While I thought the characters well developed throughout the story, I would’ve liked to have known more about the character’s backgrounds.

The second thing that stood out to me was the intriguing detail that is infused within this post-apocalyptic world. It is a world that sets your imagination alight and is filled with fascinating things that add color and depth to the world.

Ulan sends a young woman, and readers, on a perilous adventure that is consistently entertaining. If you are a science fiction fan looking for a gripping story that is driven by a strong female character than this is a fantasy novel that will be hard to put down.

Pages: 283 | ASIN: B09LPS299M

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The Spiral of My Destiny

Rosteval is faced with many decisions as he is forced to partner with a former enemy to defeat their new nemesis. Soltapyral is a Rishvanti and is bent on destroying the world in an attempt to regain their lost glory. Ghaitta is Rosteval’s wife and is also a powerful sorceress. The two of them together must find a way to stop Soltapyral and his army of Rishvanti before they can destroy the world and a group of people known as the Shapers.

Rosteval knows that he must end Soltapyral’s plans before it’s too late. Rosteval and Ghaitta’s journey takes them across treacherous landscapes and on an epic adventure through deadly battles. Along the way, they meet colorful characters and make allies with some unlikely heroes. However, the world is at stake, and Rosteval and Ghaitta must discover the true nature of their destiny.

The Spiral of My Destiny is the second book in The Rosteval Saga, and it does not disappoint. The author Michael R. Schultheiss has written a fast-paced and exciting novel that makes this book extremely hard to put down. There are plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader engaged. With exciting battles and a quest to answer the age-old question of the meaning of life, there is something for everyone in this book.

The author’s use of descriptive language immediately transports the reader into another world. His worldbuilding is unique and engaging. There is a wide range of characters that are as rich and complex as the stories they inhabit. I feel it would have been helpful if there was a list at the end of the book of the characters for readers to reference. I found the maps included at the beginning of the book that displays the realms and kingdoms most helpful. This is an excellent addition because readers can refer to the map to see where specific kingdoms are and where the characters are traveling.

The Spiral of My Destiny is a riveting epic fantasy adventure that will keep readers glued to the page from beginning to end. Readers will be transported to another world to follow the action and adventure as the saga continues.

Pages: 551 | ASIN : B09RMMX5FB

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Shaped By Wars And Conflicts

J.L. Feuerstack Author Interview

Over the Broad Earth follows two Celestial brothers, God and Satan, who can only unleash their sibling rivalry when humans engage in combat. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I wanted to explore a different dynamic from the traditional depiction of Satan as a fallen angel or jinn, and therefore inferior to God. Setting the two on equal footing allowed me to pursue a narrative where each side approaches a battle across the millennia with the same advantages and disadvantages. Instead of Satan being a rebel, for this story he has his own plans and claims to authority. I was inspired by Greek and Norse mythology, which contain many examples of competing gods. In those stories, such as the Iliad, gods are invested in and interfere with the outcomes of the mortal world. Much of the course of history has been shaped by wars and conflicts. For a long time humans believed their conflicts were mirrored by warring deities. I wanted the war between God’s and Satan’s armies to occur in tandem with human conflict.

Your characters are unique and have a compelling backstory. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

The characters of Over the Broad Earth live across many different ages. They experience similar situations throughout due to the similarities within warfare, regardless of the era. However, what changes in the course of the novel are the internal mental state and motivations of the characters. They continually vacillate from confidence to doubt, valor to cowardice, selflessness to selfishness, sacrifice to self-preservation, and many other emotions and outlooks. These ever-changing attitudes send the characters down an oft-chaotic and unexpected development curve.

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

The search for meaning and purpose in the face of an absurd and meaningless world was a central theme. I wanted to explore sources of motivation; love, lust, recognition, survival, acceptance, power, and hate, and how the pursuit and fulfillment of these motivations can provide a sense of either meaning or emptiness. The Demons and Angels of Over the Broad Earth do not age and therefore have the potential to live forever, however, they can be killed. I did this so they could be comparable to humans. Death is always there lurking and yet we try to push that reality to the back of our minds by focusing on what we want. I also tried to explore what it means to be an individual within a collective. Over the Broad Earth contains a host of characters, some the reader will meet intimately, others briefly. In the same way, the main characters are surrounded by a multitude – they form strong bonds with some – they barely interact with others. Over the course of the story, the characters will influence and be influenced by those around them and are compelled to come to grips with how they intend to fit into the kaleidoscope of which they are a member.

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

I am currently working on And They Marched Up, Volume III of The Saga of Fallen Leaves. In this volume, I explore the stories of some supporting characters from Over the Broad Earth and introduce some new ones. Hopefully And They Marched Up will be available in January 2023.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Website

Over the Broad Earth presents a sweeping fantasy tale of the eternal struggle between Angels and Demons. This imaginative tale tracks the continuing contest of two Celestial brothers, God and Satan, who, by ancient decree, can only unleash their sibling rivalry when human beings engage in combat.

The citizens of both Heaven and Hell endure all the emotions and circumstances of the humans they routinely inhabit, love, valor, passion, treachery, bravery, and heartache. Readers will follow the exploits of two of the greatest “eternal” warriors of the ages: Lord Zinc II (Heaven) and Schizophrenia “Schitz” Incenderos Nervosa (Hell). The rivals battle one another throughout history from the struggle between the Babylonians and Assyrians in the desert through and beyond the teeming jungles of Southeast Asia.

Along the way, these intrepid fighters interact with a host of characters (Moses, Alexander the Great, Napoleon, and more), friends, fiends, and lovers. Displaying the same traits of compassion and selfishness known to all of Creation, Schitz and Zinc lead their soldiers – and try to stay alive.

No Pistol Tastes the Same

Sgt. Grimm (J.P) opts to serve his country. Away from his family, he takes solace in the camaraderie of his fellow Marines, including Joey, his best friend. But it all goes wrong when Grimm loses his friend and other men he could have saved if he had acted faster. The patriotic soldier later returns from the war into the arms of his wife, son, and grandparents. But burdened by guilt and haunted by the bombs, blood, and deaths from the war, Grimm is not the same man he was when he left home. And his new demons threaten to tear apart everything and everyone he calls home. The question is, will he let them?

Although its curious title doesn’t give this away, No Pistol Tastes The Same is a gripping novel on post-traumatic stress disorder among veterans. It peels away the layers of unfamiliarity and reveals the deeply disturbing and lingering effects war has on the minds and lives of those who fight in it.

This story reminds me of why storytelling is a powerful tool to evoke empathy. Author Jacob Paul Patchen’s writing successfully transports readers into his main character’s reality, making an unfamiliar situation seem like a shared reality. Patchen is also great with imagery as he improves the reading experience with evocative descriptions of settings.

The story is delivered with the elegance and precision of a true wordsmith. Make no mistake, there aren’t flowery words or unclear metaphors. Instead, readers feel the total weight of a narrative cobbled with tools whose sophistication is in their cultured simplicity. The writing is so good that it strikes the heart where it matters in many places, ensuring that you feel the raw emotions being communicated. Altogether, the story is free-flowing, mainly punctuated by the moments of reflection and concern it triggers.

No Pistol Tastes the Same is a captivating war novel dealing with life after returning from war. The plot is pretty straightforward but excellently executed. The characters are relatable and make readers care about this remarkable story.

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Into A Possible Future

Denna Holm Author Interview

Silvano’s Redemption follows an Earth woman and a cyborg as they fight for the freedom of cyborgs while finding romance between them. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I’ve always been fascinated by the thought of cyborgs. Would they still be considered human or not? How much of their bodies would have to be replaced before they aren’t considered human? For this story, I wanted to send women from our time into a possible future where cyborgs exist. I wanted them to see how far the human race had fallen. I also wanted to touch on who should be blamed when we are dealing with evil people in charge of society. Silvano and the other cyborgs hate all humans when this story begins. They have been severely abused, but they slowly come to realize through Tessa and the other women that not all humans are evil. Is there a point where Silvano can learn to let go of past abuse? If he can’t, then he might be missing out on a brighter future with Tessa. Life can be difficult, but I wanted to bring across that there is always hope for a better tomorrow.

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

I’m not very good at outlining. I know where I want my story to start, and I know where I want it to end. I basically follow where my characters want to take me in the middle. They rarely let me down.

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

….Listening with an open mind rather than be judgmental. Forgiveness, redemption, courage, love, perseverance.

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

“Saving Mathis” is available for pre-order now. It will be released on May 10th. Questions concerning Tessa’s sister Tara will be answered in this book. We will also be given a hint as to where these cyborgs, the women, and their children are headed for. The full story will be slowly revealed throughout the series.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Silvano is Commander of the Cyborg ship Freedom. He feels responsible for his Cyborg crew and has spent the past century trying to keep them free of the Human Alliance. Humans represent everything Cyborgs hate, a plague upon the universe, destroying everything in their path. Before they fought for their freedom, Cyborgs were considered little more than expendable slaves.

Tessa and her twin sister Tara are abducted from Earth by aliens that resemble man-sized lizards to be used for breeding. They are rescued from the lizards by these strange, emotionless beings who claim to be Cyborgs. Tessa isn’t sure what to think about the stern commander but can’t deny she finds him as attractive as she does terrifying.

Things heat up between Tessa and Silvano when he is forced to use her to lead a traitor Cyborg away from his ship.
 
**Standalone Story. No Cliffhangers.**

Unforgiven

Unforgiven is a short story written by Andre Gress. The story is told by the character Henry Fields, a once-famous ex-writer whose life falls apart in every way imaginable in the first chapter. However, there’s no silver lining until he is suddenly informed about a huge family secret that will change the nature of his life catastrophically.

The narrative takes the reader on an emotional rollercoaster. It’s evident from the start that Henry harbors much anger and bitterness towards his life and perhaps the people in it due to various circumstances. The story is told from Henry’s perspective, but it also contains a lot of italicized side comments. These comments feel like Henry’s unofficial internal monologue and often include points of criticism or snide remarks aimed at both himself and others in the story. The addition of these side comments adds depth and intrigue to the story because you get an inside look at Henry’s thoughts and emotions.

I appreciated that the main character is presented as a person who was both a little flawed and quite sensitive. He has a clear adoration for his little dog Rosy and reminisces about his past. So many male characters are created to be strong and dominant, to the point that the idea of being emotional is nonexistent. It was refreshing to follow a character that is a little more realistic with his emotions, especially with the things Henry has gone through and experienced.

I enjoyed the overall story and narrative development; the development of the main character and his life situation at the start of the story was vividly descriptive and exciting. However, once the big family secret is revealed to Henry, he goes from being outrageously angry to accepting in no time at all. I felt this story aspect was rushed, and some of the storylines were cut out. Still, this is a captivating story and takes the reader on a memorable adventure.

Unforgiven is a gripping story about a man and his journey to self-discovery and learning the truth about his family. As events unfold, he will have to choose what path he follows, and readers will be hanging on edge to see his life’s direction.

Pages: 95 | ASIN : B01NAJSA6N

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I Love the Element of Surprise

R. J. Corgan Author Interview

Mammoth Drop follows a scientist to the Black Hills where she finds herself knee-deep in mammoth bones and a murder mystery. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

The Black Hills, and South Dakota in general, is heaven for geologists. In fact, most geologists have to do a field season out West as part of our degrees. I studied in South Dakota and Wyoming in the early 90’s and was blown away by the beauty of the landscape. I’ve also worked with paleontologists who have spent their lives studying mammoths and they’re just as marvelous as the animals they study. I wrote Mammoth Drop to celebrate both their legacy and to share the breathtaking scenery of the region with readers.

Kea Wright is an intriguing and well-developed character. What were some driving ideals behind her character’s development?

Kea is smart, kind, and terrible with people. Like many scientists that work in the field for months at a time, Kea suffers from broken relationships, a low self esteem, and bouts of depression. I wanted to create a heroine where those attributes, both good and bad, are superpowers: they’re external to the group, often forced to think differently, and wind up in places they shouldn’t be. While a reluctant heroine, I love Kea and I hope that readers will as well.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book (and what can readers expect in Book 4)?

Each book in the Kea Wright series has a unique theme. Cold Flood examines how being put under intense pressure can and release something inside ourselves that we never knew existed. The Meerkat Murders examines the concept of altruism, Mammoth Drop explores extinction, while Murder on Masaya examines sacrifice. Each book also has a different tone. Mammoth Drop is absolutely a camp romp full of drinking and dancing to celebrate a scientist and his life’s work. In contrast, the final story, Murder on Masaya,(released in 2021) is a much darker story about the hazards that scientists undertake to gather data and the sacrifices people make for their family. These changes in tone are deliberate because, growing up, my favorite television show was Doctor Who – you never knew where the next story would take you, it could be the distant past or the far future, or be a comedy or a tragedy. I loved that element of surprise. These books are very much in the same vein and I hope readers enjoy the variety.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

During Kea’s visit to the Black Hills, one of the scientists in Mammoth Drop Caverns is brutally murdered. Determined to unmask the killer, Kea takes up residence in nearby Woolly Hole, a gay campground filled with boozing drag queens and bottomless mimosas. Knee-deep in mammoth bones and potential suspects, Kea soon finds herself in the killer’s sights . . .

Warrior on the Western Waters

Warrior on the Western Waters is the third book in the intense and thrilling young adult Dangerous Loyalties series by Phyllis A. Still. Set in 1775 in Boonesborough, we follow a young girl named Mary Shirley who lives in a settlement that is supposed to be a safe haven from the Loyalists. Mary warns the people in the settlement of a traitor who is planning to attack them, but no one believes her. She is taken hostage by the Loyalists who seek revenge against her father and is taken to a Shawnee village where she stays while they await the surrender of her father.

What I have come to realize about Phyllis Still’s writing is that there is a simple eloquence to it. It has a way of leading you through a story with simple language which leaves your mind free to imagine the intriguing world that she is creating in her book.

This is an emotional roller-coaster of a story and the author effortlessly captures the intense emotions that each character is feeling; which reminds me of the emotional rumination of Suzanne Collin’s The Hunger Games. What drew me into this impassioned historical fiction story was the smart and nimble dialogue. The reader feels like they are alongside Mary, feeling the terror and worry she feels. The dialogue feels authentic and the characters are much more believable because of it. I was easily able to connect with Mary’s character as she starts out as an innocent child, but must be strong in order to survive.

A fun fact; the author is an eighth-generation descendant of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). Mary Shirley McGuire is the muse behind the Dangerous Loyalties series and our main protagonist. Even though this is a work of fiction, you can really tell that the author wanted to do her ancestors justice with this book, and I feel like she does exactly that.

Even though this book is part of a series, I think it can still stand on its own as an intrepid coming-of-age historical adventure story. I don’t think readers will need to read books one and two in the series in order to follow Mary through this absorbing story. The author expertly provides just enough background information to catch the reader up before setting them off on this new adventure.

Warrior on the Western Waters by Phyllis A. is a captivating historical fiction novel that is a must read for history buffs and will be an emotionally-resonant story for everyone else.

Pages: 197 | ASIN: B082TWBP3P

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