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Orange City

Orange City by [Matthew Goldberg, Lee]

Orange City by Lee Matthew Goldberg is an exciting dystopian thriller and pretty much a one-of-a-kind experience. It’s about Orange City: a bizarre place where its inhabitants are kept firmly under the control of the Man. Here they toil away for faceless organizations and use petty distractions to not drown in the misery of their jobs. Here, Graham Weatherend is placed in a unique position– he has to decide whether he will work for a dangerous and addictive new product, innocuously named Pow! Soda or whether he will take up the more risky path of finding out exactly what is going on in a world where he can trust few.

Graham is an introverted and humorous character with neat tricks up his sleeve in the most unlikely situations. His quest is to find out the truth about the soda while avoiding being banished to The Zones. All the while navigating the unexpected effects of Pow! Soda. There are some other difficult topics also addressed in this book– especially surrounding Gayle’s situation. The abuse of power and free will are central to the characters’ motivations and behavior.

I kept trying to anticipate the next twist of the plot but I could never guess where this book was going to go- the book is not only a few steps ahead of me, it simply does not follow regular science fiction rules. Which is not a bad thing at all- I was strapped in for a fun romp and ended up with a substantial and thoughtful novel. There’s probably thousands of science fiction books and movies in the world but the best of the lot have always been the ones that are adjacent to reality. The sweet spot in the uncanny valley where if the universe were merely a few degrees askew the characters’ lives would be our lives. This is what happens here.

The writing is sharp and cool- it has a neo-noir thriller vibe to it that wouldn’t be out of place in a movie where a tortured Ryan Gosling runs around town saving people while being drenched in moral ambiguity. Meaningful prose and intense drama ensues.

Orange City is a great read for anyone who enjoys science fiction thrillers or just cool and atmospheric books in general. Just be prepared to have a mini-existential crisis about where our world is headed!

Pages: 231 | ASIN: B08R96Z37G

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Our Decisions Define Us

Douglas Misquita
Douglas Misquita Author Interview

Trigger Point follows Luc as he must stop a terrorist plot while navigating a political and religious web of corruption as a deadly team is hunting him. What were some sources that informed this novel’s development?

I was intrigued by “The Islamist: Why I joined Radical Islam in Britain, What I Saw Inside and Why I Left” by Ed Hussain, “Radical Islam: Past, Present, and Future: What Moderate Muslims Will Not Tell you” by Anita & Vann Boseman, “God’s Wolf: The Life of the Most Notorious of All Crusaders: Reynald de Chatillon” by Jeffrey Lee, “A Common Word Between Us and You” by Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal, Kingdom of Jordan. There was also “The Entity: Five Centuries of Secret Vatican Espionage” by Eric Frattini. At the time of writing, the book was prohibitively priced to the extent I asked myself, ‘Who does not want us to read this?’. All-in-all, I wanted to challenge the stereotype of a terrorist and show that everybody has a propensity for violence if not checked.

Luc Fortesque is a consistently entertaining character. What were some character motivations that you felt were important to developing him throughout the novel?

In the first book of the series, The Apocalypse Trigger, Luc is the bad guy. Readers will hate him. By the time I wrote The Immortality Trigger, he seemed like the guy I wanted to return. So I set him on this path of redemption. He’d done some pretty nasty stuff and has always attributed his life-choices to external stimuli. But at the end of the day, our decisions define us, and who we become. That became the theme and we see it resolve in Trigger Point. The bad guy finds his soul, his righteousness. Also melds with my belief that everybody is doing what they can to survive in this world.

Was there anything taken from real life and put into the story?

Plenty. All the locations, vehicles are factual. Raynald de Chattilon and Nur ad Din were sworn enemies during the crusades. The syncretism of Catholic and Maya beliefs is real as is the ritual and the construct of the typical Maya village. Zombie Deer Disease is real, as is the (questionable) research that I caught onto and used to great effect. The Swiss vaults described in the book exist and nobody knows the true extent of the wealth or secrets stored there. The Japanese Unit 731 existed and its research was co-opted by the US after WWII. The Chinese AI entity is based on fact – Western companies are indirectly providing the expertise much to the concern of their home nations. I’ve done my best to be non-offensive yet informative in my exposition of Catholism, Islam and religious trends.

This is the third book in your Luc Fortesque Adventure series. What can readers expect in book four?

Visitors to my website will observe I’m happy doing trilogies before moving on to something fresh. For now, there won’t be another Luc Fortesque book. I’ve got another hero coming up and yet another that I’m concluding in another series. Then I’m contemplating a wild prehistoric adventure. Who doesn’t ?

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Smuggling himself into Europe despite an Interpol Red Notice? Possible. Avenging a German BKA officer? Easy. Evading special ops teams hunting him for his secrets? Impossible. Things are about to get more… interesting for Luc Fortesque. An escaped terrorist threatens a landmark dialogue between Muslims and Christians. More terrifying is the theft of a bioweapon from a secret vault operated by the Holy See. That the damaging news is not public hints the weapon will be detonated. With cataclysm imminent, the world’s oldest espionage agency – the Vatican’s L’ Entity – must get Fortesque first, hoping he might possess the cure. Treachery and corruption infect the upper echelons of religion and government, and Fortesque must confront his past to be free of it. If he survives the confrontation.

Tempest of Bravoure: Kingdom Ascent

Tempest of Bravoure: Kingdom Ascent by [Valena D'Angelis]

Ahna has all the powers needed to do great damage or be a great asset. As a dark elf, it is not likely she will be welcome in this battle as a rebel. She has spent many years secluded and trying to push aside all memories of the battle that was lost by her people. Her time has been spent trying to separate herself from those days. Despite all her efforts, things have come full circle, and she is being coerced into escaping seclusion and heading into battle once more. Will Kairen’s pleas be enough to bring Ahna to the forefront of the war?

Tempest of Bravoure: Kingdom Ascent, by Valena D’Angelis, is a beautifully vivid fantasy novel focused on the life of Ahna, who is dokkalfar. Her personality, her appearance, and her unique set of skills all combine to make a memorable character and a force with which to be reckoned. Ahna is one of those female leads readers will love from the moment she graces the pages. Her energy is pure, and her determination is strong.

Fantasies, when well done, have a certain beauty all their own. D’Angelis has mastered exactly that in a story filled with adventure, peril, and self-discovery. The descriptions of the landscape are particularly breathtaking and truly make the story all the more riveting. In addition, the author has created a fascinating cast of characters and beings; their world is one that draws readers directly into the story. D’Angelis’s work is not short on action. Page after page, Ahna and her comrades find themselves in the throes of a battle that never seems to end. The magical energy and abilities Ahna possesses make each and every one of their clashes that much more intriguing. As splendid a setting and as full of adventure and action as it is, I would love to have seen more of a focus on the backstories of the main characters.

I was especially touched by the dynamic between Kairen and Ahna. The rescue that brought the two together sets the stage for a close and loving relationship. Ahna, a mentor and sister figure to Kairen, spends a great deal of her time modeling appropriate behavior and teaching Kairen to prepare for the rebellion in which she would one day participate. She is as much a mother as she is a trainer.

Tempest of Bravoure: Kingdom Ascent is an emotionally charged adventure that sword and sorcery fans will devour. Author Valena D’Angelis is adept at creating a mystical world that seems like we’re only scratching the surface of some deeper lore.

Pages: 283 | ASIN: B08R2SDW5V

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Watch What You Wish For

Watch What You Wish For: After all, wishes aren't always just about fairy tales... (Mariposa Mysteries Book 1) by [Valerie Anne Hudson]

Watch What You Wish For is a middle-grade story following a girl named Sophie and a tree with magical powers, infamous for being evil. I absolutely enjoyed this rousing adventure story! Although the characters are in seventh grade their age did not take away from the story’s depth; I was entertained from beginning to end.

I personally loved the character of Sophie, she’s troubled and easily influenced because she wants to be liked and she yearns for companionship–all of that made her relatable and realistic. Sure, this book has a clear morality lesson: be careful what you wish for, because you never know the outcome, but the story goes beyond the conceptual with a mystical narrative filled with expressive characters. The reader witnesses Sophie’s character slowly develop throughout the story. She has made bad decisions in the past, influenced by someone she thought was her friend and we are able to see her take accountability for her actions by the end of the story, and it is satisfying to see.

Author Valerie Anne Hudson does a wonderful job in portraying different types of friendships and relationships that Sophie has had that lead up to the beginning of the story. The refreshing writing style definitely compliments this creative story as each chapter leads up to and hints at what is to come in some entertaining ways. I am even more intrigued by how the story ended, wrapped up quite nicely but with potential for a must-read sequel. I would love to see the story behind Merle and his magic tricks.

Watch What You Wish For is a fast paced coming of age adventure novel that infuses magic and adventure into the story in inventive and captivating ways. This is the type of story I loved when I was younger. With some unforgettable scenes, inspired characters, and a fun storyline, this book will entertain anyone.

Pages: 80 | ASIN: B08SHTH5J7

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An Overwhelming Desire To Say Something

Evan Grove
Evan L. Grove Author Interview

To the North follows the adventures of Emily, Lehksi and Marty, as they attempt to uncover the truth behind the darkness plaguing their land. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

To the North is something that’s been swimming in my head for quite some time now, with the first inklings of it popping up in early/mid 2016. I would say my inspiration was based somewhat on world events around that time and since, as well as a desire to create a conflict of my own.

While I don’t think there is any specific spark that pushed me to write this story in particular, I can easily attribute its creation to an overwhelming desire to say something. I wished to draw others into a world of my own creation, a world both familiar and utterly different from our own.

Emily and Lehksi were intriguing and well developed characters. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Emily’s character was pretty solid from the start. She was designed to be someone that both drives the plot forward in her own unique way, and yet is consistently hamstrung by the events happening around her. I wanted a headstrong, motivated character that should, for all intents and purposes, not be involved with the dangerous happenings taking place around her. Yet there she is, front and center.

Lehksi on the other hand, was meant to be a more level-headed person. She served as a near polar-opposite of Emily as someone who both has the skills to act with confidence when necessary, as well as the temperament to know when she’s in over her head. However, it was necessary for her to be young and inexperienced. She knows she has a lot to learn, and in some cases that leads her to doubt herself and others.

I enjoyed the well thought out backstory and magic within your book. Were these planned or did they develop organically while writing?

Some of To the North’s backstory was planned, while some was not. I’m not in the habit of creating large lore documents, so many of the details of Odelia/Oul emerged as I wrote them. Of course I had a structural layout to guide my hand and I made sure to take notes on what had been established for consistency, but I wanted to “discover” this world for myself as I wrote it. So I gave it space to let it blossom on its own, and many times it surprised me with the results.

My magic system was created much the same way, though I did have to set some ground rules. Namely, from the start I wanted a system that can be expressed in different ways by different people. The Scriptors, for example, use magic by way of words. Others may use it in different ways, some of which have already been seen in Part 1. You should expect to see a considerable expansion on these concepts in Part 2.

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

I’m working on two books at the moment, the first is the conclusion to The Awakener Duology and I’ve already begun my second draft. I expect it to be released sometime near the end of the year or early 2022 depending on oh-so-many differing factors.

My other novel is still in the outline stages, and as such will likely take a bit longer to release. It will also take place in the “World of Oul” since I’d like to develop my world/lore a bit more before moving on to another unrelated series. I hope for a 2023/2024 release but we’ll see how things go.

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Emily Lee wants nothing more than to live her life in peace, safe in the comfort of home with her father. But when he falls prey to dark magic, trapping him and countless others in a foreign land, she is forced to take action. Compelled only by the desire to save him, Emily travels to the northern nation of Odelia in search of a means to free her father from his terrible curse.

Lehksi Olent works as a private investigator, helping those uncover the truth that is often shrouded by a world of magic and mystery. Together with her brother, Marty, she now travels the Odelian countryside in pursuit of the growing unrest taking place within the heart of a country torn asunder by unseen forces.

When their paths converge, Emily and Lehksi’s lives will be forever changed. Two paths, one future. Be it for the good of all, or for a singular desire, the fate of Odelia lies within their choices. And should they prove lacking, the world of Oul might never be the same.

To the North is the first novel in The Awakener Duology, an urban fantasy that explores what it means to discover the dark truths of an unforgiving land. It takes place in an alternate reality set in a pre-digital world, one that is governed by magic and corporate influence. Two young women must navigate numerous challenges in order to protect what is important to them, but in doing so they will make discoveries that may drive a wedge between them.

A Light in the Darkness

Jessica Piro
Jessica Piro Author Interview

Ascension of the Phoenix follows a detective seeking release in street fighting, but success leads her down a dark path toward revenge. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

The major inspiration was Leila Wells, herself. I wanted to delve into the notion that everyone has a dark side and what would happen if someone who is an upright figure gives in and falls. Now for the street fighting and fighting tournament, Mortal Kombat and the Tekken video games were heavy influences. Being such a fan of Law and Order: SVU helped me make Leila a detective.

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

She is who I wish I could be. An authoritative figure who is also fair and generous, and who uses her position for good. She doesn’t abuse her power. Doesn’t bow under pressure. Is physically and mentally strong. Someone who is in control of their emotions… well, sometimes.

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

Quite a few of them. One theme being the struggles against dark sides because Leila isn’t the only one. The different ways people deal with grief is another. Exploring how someone can lose who they think they are—their identity—and how they fight to come back, and how they sometimes change. And no matter how bleak or hopeless a situation, there is always hope/a light in the darkness—you just may have to wade through more darkness to reach it.

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

The Dragon of Russia is the next book in this trilogy and will be available August 2021. Like I did with Ascension of the Phoenix, a companion short story will also be released in the Fall. It will be called The Crane’s Dance, following a new character that Leila meets in Russia, like how The Panther’s Pride is in Jamaal Gordon’s POV.

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To rise from ashes, one must be a phoenix.
Detective Leila Wells has apprehended every criminal to cross her path, except for one. And when Bryan Foster returns, he devastates her world. To cope, she finds release in street fighting. Successes with her fighting partner grant them an invitation to participate in the Rulers of the Realms Fighting Tag Tournament. But as she fights, a power begins to rise within her—a dark and angry blaze urging her toward revenge.

One Way In, No Way Out

One Way In, No Way Out by Malcolm Boyd is an adult urban fiction novel following the fierce Mann Walker. Mann used to do drugs, tried to quit, but was unsuccessful. Eventually he decides to embrace the lifestyle and start selling. One day while hanging out with a local radio DJ who is “wild” to put it politely, a series of events unfold that lead him back stage at a concert. There he finds the District Attorney’s daughter doing drugs along with some adult entertainment. He freaks out because she is both underage and she is related to a certain cop that hates him. He takes off running, gets outside, and gets sucker punched by an off duty, out of jurisdiction, cop. The whole thing reeks of abuse and police corruption and his drug and weapon possession charges are dropped if he agrees to never say anything about it. Mann is more than happy to do that, and decides it would be best to get out of town to relieve his stress. He flies to Las Vegas with his girl (he calls her his wife to others, but she has no memory of him proposing) to relax for a bit. He’s winning big, enjoying some drinks, but trouble follows him. First in the form of a gang out to get his new friend, and then the DA’s daughter shows back up. His attempts to escape trouble land him right back in the thick of it in a very entertaining way.

What I liked most about this compelling book is the wild turns that the novel often takes, which ratchets up the thrill factor, but never feels forced, and always feels like it’s just another day in the life. Author Malcolm Boyd provides a gritty and irreverent look at drug culture. While I found the novel to be consistently entertaining, be warned that this story is full of sex, drugs, and a criminal life style that is not for the faint at heart. The story is propelled forward by the always captivating protagonist, Mann Walker, who can always get himself out of trouble, but never seems to escape it altogether.

One Way In, No Way Out is a suspenseful urban fiction novel that delivers action in heavy doses. Recommended for readers who don’t mind dark topics and want a unique look at life on the streets.

Pages: 378 | ASIN: B01N37P508

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Trigger Point

Trigger Point: A Luc Fortesque Adventure by [Douglas Misquita]

The third Installation of the Luc Fortesque series, Trigger Point by Douglas Misquita is an action-packed thriller. The novel follows the journey of Luc, who has acquired secret knowledge about an impending terrorist conspiracy. Forces are sent to get hold of Luc, as his knowledge puts the Holy See under the criminal radar. A former agent Raymond Garrett is on a mission to expose the EI Fantasma, but the drug mafia also has some plans in store for Garrett. Now the question is, will they be able to pierce through the veneer of rampant internal corruption, barbarism, and history of betrayal? Or will they be defeated in the face of intense corruption within the government and religious bodies? 

Douglas Misquita’s use of lucid language complements this intricately woven story. Trigger Point does an amazing job at keeping the reader glued to the pages from the beginning till the very end with action that is easy to follow and a story line that is deeply intriguing. Although the novel contains a plot that can easily stand on its own, you should definitely check out the previous two novels in the same series–The Apocalypse Trigger and The Immortality Trigger. Written in the same vein as the works of Dan Brown, this story aptly captures the nuanced deception running through various international, political and religious institutions.

This is an action thriller written for action thriller fans. It contains all the high points I wanted in a high stakes crime fiction novel, and one of the best character developments I’ve seen in a series in this genre. There are multiple twists throughout, leading to a tense reading experience. However, the incidents, while highly entertaining, are still grounded in reality, possibly due to the thoughtful descriptions and exposition throughout the novel. The author has brilliantly executed an array of ideas into a comprehensive whole, utilizing a unique writing flair that I’ve come to expect in Douglas Misquita’s novels.

Combine the intricate nature of Dan Brown novels, add the intensity and political web of Robert Ludlum’s Bourne series, with the world building of Michael Crichton and I think you’ll understand what Trigger Point has to offer readers. The characters in the novel are as intriguing as the storyline itself. Never for a moment, did I feel that these are not real-life human characters. They come alive with their virtues and vices combined, giving them a human touch. The author has put extra attention towards the development of each character, making them even more appealing to the readers. 

The complex yet easy-flowing storyline, the rounded characters, and the infusion of action make Trigger Point an enthralling read that immerses readers in a tumultuous world full of adventure.

Pages: 417 | ASIN: B08S7Q8JSD

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