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Experiment X: Exposed

Experiment X: Exposed by [Haase, Nikki]

Experiment X: Exposed is the second installment of the Experiment X Trilogy. Exposed jumps right back into the lives of Karen and her commands a year after their escape from Dr. Thaddeus’s lab. Those freed from the horrors of their capture spend their days slowly recovering and training their elemental powers. It isn’t long until Dr. Thaddeus makes a grand appearance on national television to unveil his new plan to create an army of superhumans; Experiment R. The unsuspecting population rejoice. Soon droves of volunteers sign up to take part with the promises of wealth and prestige. At the same time, Karen receives a coded message from her former captain embarking her on a journey that once again puts Hher physical and mental capabilities to their limits.

For those who enjoyed the first book, I highly recommend the second. If Sacrifice was about Karen discovering her powers, Exposed is about mastering them. Needless to say, Karen is back at it, supercharged, and ready to go.

Despite the obvious difference in power, Karen is a relatable character. Her anger, pride, and raw emotions are illustrated with such care from a first-person perspective. As the main character, Karen is portrayed with enough detail to make her believable and yet still given room to grow. She is a strong girl with a strong personality. Such perfection with one character made the haphazard way that other characters were thrown in seem jarring. Because the story is from a first-person perspective, all other character growth is described through Karen’s thoughts. Some of the major players are well remembered for their importance to Karen. However, many new characters are not given the time to develop a relationship with the main character.

The pacing, I thought, quickly moved from one event to the next with barely any transition; I was left with no concrete timeline. Although the author mentioned tentative time frames, and the ambiguous period of various events was intentional, every section of the story felt similar.

But these are minor glitches in a book that has a lot of potential for the characters and expanding story line. These issues only stand out to me because I was so invested in the character and story. Nikki Haase has command of an entertaining writing style that elevates Experiment X: Exposed above many of the dystopian fiction I’ve read this year.

Pages: 262 | ASIN: B06W9NC7B7

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The Dream Defenders

The Dream Defenders: A YA Sci-Fi Adventure by [DenHartog, Neal]

The Dream Defenders by Neal Denhartog is a young adult science fiction adventure story following Nolan Erling, a fourteen year old boy who has felt forgotten by his parents ever since his baby brother, Max, joined their family. When Nolan keeps waking up with a headache in the morning, he doesn’t suspect that the cause of his problems is his dreams. But Aeryn Sandman knows. She is a junior agent at the DREAM institute, and Nolan is her first official assignment. Her job turns into more than just a simple recruitment mission, however, after Nolan’s unchecked powers release two nightmares into the dreamstream. Suddenly, things turn deadly–because dreams can kill. Will Nolan and Aeryn succeed in protecting millions of innocent dreamers while they sleep?

This book had a unique premise and the writing style was engaging and kept my interest. The author’s descriptions of the actions taking place pulled me into the story. I enjoyed reading about the weird details of Nolan’s dreams and how he could control them and make things happen. There were several humorous parts, as Aeryn fumbled her first official assignment and failed to keep Nolan under control. I liked the descriptions of the whimsical and frightening dreamscapes, which painted a vivid picture of the setting. I loved the Wispes, Stan and Scranton. They were one of my favorite parts of the story.

I felt that the initial ‘reveal’ of the villain happened too soon. Or maybe it could have just been handled differently. Since it seemed as though I’d already learned the villain’s identity at one third of the way through the book, I felt that the story lost some of its momentum after that. Although it took me a little while to get excited about the story again, it did happen well before I got to the crazy twist at the end.

Although the ending was entertaining and thrilling it left me with many questions. I assume that this story is intended to be the first book in the series, and if that’s the case, I would definitely want to read the next book to find out what happens and learn all the answers to my lingering questions. Overall, this is an exceptional book with a unique premise that is guaranteed to entertain.

Pages: 318 | ASIN: B07S475R84

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Magic and Otherworldly Creatures

Navya Sarikonda Author Interview

Navya Sarikonda Author Interview

The Enchanters’ Child follows three unlikely allies on a quest to find the sorcerer as they try to keep their identities secret. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?

A hero on a journey to defeat the main villain is a common story arc that I sought to put my own twist on. Since I was a kid, I have always been an avid reader and I often found myself being drawn to the magical worlds I could transport myself to. I loved the idea of creating a world where anything was possible whether that is through magic and otherworldly creatures. Inspired by these stories, I decided to write a fictional fantasy story of my own.

Wren, Quinn, and Zayne are all intriguing and well developed characters. What were some driving ideals behind their character development?

The characters of Wren, Zayne, and Quinn are inspired by everyday teenagers. The way through which they struggle and attempt to find their identities is what makes them the most relatable. Despite this common journey to their identities, each one of them has experienced unique circumstances in their life that mold their beliefs and unique individuality. For Wren, the death of her parents causes her to become a determined, brave person that will do anything to find justice for the ones she loves. However, her thirst for revenge soon morphs into her own character flaw through failing to enjoy and live in the present. Zayne’s determining characteristic is his steadfast loyalty, whether that is to his kingdom or to his friends. His sense of duty is what drives him to aid in defeating the main antagonist as well as his empathy towards the world in which he lives in, as shown in his tenacity to find the killer of the many bodies that mysteriously begin to appear. Yet, his duty is the very thing that keeps him from his desires as he struggles with going against his father’s power and expectations. Last but not least, Quinn initially is a character portrayed to be callous and emotionless, with his only objective being to follow his orders, even if that means killing others to achieve it. Despite this, as the story progresses, readers discover that even the most notorious assassin has his own reasons for his actions, ones that can even be considered noble. Despite his sinister past, he learns to love the people around him. Quinn is unique in that his weakness is his own self. His own beliefs of his unworthiness and vileness causes him to push away those around him as he grapples between doing what is right and the sacrifices he must make if he chooses to do so.

The backstory to this world is intricate and captivating. What were some themes you wanted to capture while creating your world?

The setting of The Enchanters’ Child was designed to have an enchanting atmosphere, complete with magic and strange beasts. I wanted to capture a world that reminds readers of the fairytale-like worlds that they are familiar with while showing that even the most remarkable places coexist with darker facets such as greed and misused power. Along these lines, I also wanted to capture that there can be beautiful brilliance in the bleakest of places, whether that brilliance is the surroundings around the characters or each other.

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

As of now, the date for publishing my next book is tentative; however, I am in the process of writing another work.

Author Links: Book Trailer | GoodReads | Facebook | Amazon | Website

Wren has a secret. She’s the last of the Arobol, a group of magic-wielders. After her parents were murdered by a dark entity when she was young, she has been trying to discover who has killed them. However, it wasn’t just anyone; it was the Dark Sorcerer, a being who is believed to exist only in a fairytale. When an unexpected tragedy hits, Wren is forced to flee to town in hopes of finding the leader of the Gavreel Society, said to have information on her parents’ killer.

Zayne has been working for months to uncover the reason behind the dead bodies showing up in multiple towns and the mysterious symbol that is etched into their skin. As Trading Day approaches, he goes to meet with his Gavreel Society to formulate a new plan for uncovering the person behind these killings. Little does he know that he’ll find the solution in a girl, one who’s holding as many secrets as he is.

Quinn is an assassin, killing anyone his Master orders him to kill. Tasked with finding the Enchanters’ Child and bringing her back alive in exchange for his freedom, Quinn won’t let anything get in his way. Yet, when he finally discovers the Enchanters’ Child, he finds himself questioning his ability to fulfill his mission. Weaving a story of deception, he befriends the Enchanters’ Child, but wonders if she is worth his freedom.

As they race to find the Sorcerer, each for their own reasons, secrets come out, powerful enough to tear them apart.

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The Optical Lasso – Trailer

In the year 2140 CE, Planet 9, more commonly known as Vixus, has resurfaced on the edge of the Milky Way… the only known planet that periodically reverses its rotation. Last seen in the middle of the Kuiper Belt in 2066 CE, it mysteriously disappeared after being discovered by a Galactic Corps scout ship. The unknown energy source enabling Vixus to spin in opposite directions represented great power which could help turn the tide in a war Earth was losing.

The Fighting Fury, the Corps’ finest platoon, has been called in to conduct a search and rescue operation for several missing landing parties. Following a fierce battle on the planet surface, Lieutenant Janet “Cat” Miles, leader of this elite group of combat women, was captured. She soon found herself imprisoned with the Corps’ most fabled leader, Commander Jason Cody. His name would forever be linked to the infamous wormhole hidden on Neptune’s dark side; an area of space now cautiously avoided by all due to the menace which lurks within.

Paranoia raced through both leaders’ minds. Could he trust a woman who seemingly had no imperfections? Could she trust a man who had vanished from sight years ago? Earth’s future laid in the balance as they struggled to overcome their mutual distrust and acknowledge what those before them understood: “If you live long enough, the wisdom will come.”

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Immortals’ Requiem

Immortals' Requiem: An Epic Grimdark Fantasy by [Bobbe, Vincent]

The world is under siege after a thousand-year-old evil awakens threatening the modern-day world. Creatures of old and heroes alike resurface to fight this evil and reclaim the peace that is slowly slipping away. The story follows several unique characters as their lives, both past and present unfold and intertwine, slowly revealing their roles in the grand scheme of good versus evil.

Vincent Bobbe has a writing style perfectly fit for the grimdark fantasy genre. The battle scenes are gritty and realistic. The scenes illustrating magical feats flow perfectly within the context of the story. I thought the use of language and violence was acceptable and never crossed the border of unnecessary. However, at times the character descriptions seemed forced and unnatural, but the author made up for this with rich personality and believable characteristics. I did wonder why this book is lacking in female characters. Of course, there were female characters, but they were only there to serve the men of the story. There is so much rich world building packed into this novel, it is a shame there were no quality female characters to populate it.

Immortals’ Requiem is an epic adventure that would rightfully need the page count it comes with. I expected a slow burn but the first hundred pages are a bitter pill to swallow – time shifts drastically and the point of view switches often. I am a fan of a perspective change among the variety of main characters and Immortals’ Requiem lends itself well to this narration style. It keeps the plot moving and allows the various character plot points to develop simultaneously. But in the end, I felt that the the perspectives change so rapidly that it was difficult to follow along and establish a focal point for each character. I can tell that the author put a lot of thought into every aspect of the individuals, it would have been nice to get more time reading about each character before moving on to another. The quality of the writing is easy to read and there were no major mistakes. And while I appreciated the scenic details, some of the chapters were drawn out with too many specifics clashing together.

Overall the Vincent Bobbe does a fantastic job of blending the modern feel of Manchester to the old-world magic he so eloquently writes about. The two characters Cam and Grimnir personify this juxtaposition perfectly and quickly become my two favorites among the cast. The characters truly drive the plot and develop the story as you learn more about their history and evolving personalities. If you are a fan of urban or dark fantasy I would recommend you give this book a go.

Pages: 554 | ASIN: B07DDDVDR5

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Die to Live Again

Die to Live Again: A Post-Apocalyptic Novel by [Crane, David]

Die to Live Again is a story about Tanya, a young woman whose existence becomes a perpetual question when the world faces nuclear destruction. She is one of the lucky few who survive and for a time she is housed in one of the pre-prepared military shelters. This arrangement does not last. She goes from being a preferred informant for a budding dictator to an outcast, left to survive off the contaminated wasteland. For a while she has Jack, her boyfriend with her. This also does not last as two humans are no match for the unfiltered aftermath of nuclear destruction. Jack dies and she finds herself transformed but surviving. Soon enough Tanya realizes the existence of humanity is under threat and it is up to the survivors to decide what new Earth looks like, this time, with mother nature paving the way.

David Crane combines post-apocalyptic confusion and political drama in some exciting ways in this captivating book. Although most of the action takes place on the American mainland, we still get a glimpse of what happened around the world. This perspective was a very interesting take and political drama lovers will undoubtedly find it engaging.  All of this balances well with the friction between nature and scientific input. There is even a religious aspect that is explored. These aspects are the underpinnings of human existence, and I felt that the spiritual inclusion added an intriguing dimension to this novel. The combination of politics, science and religion makes for a possibly overwhelming experience but I felt that it was balances just enough to never become too much.  Additionally, although there are several drastic turning points throughout the novel, they are rarely, if ever, predictable.

Although this is a well written novel, I felt that there were some inconsistencies in the timeline, and a few things seemed too unrealistic. I  would have liked the buildup and explanations of occurrences to be more robust.

Overall, this is a fantastically engaging novel that I found to be both interesting and entertaining; both things I’m starting to associate with David Crane novels.

Pages: 334 | ASIN: B00FZW20AQ

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A Curiosity for the Unknown

Katharine E. Wibell Author Interview

Katharine E. Wibell Author Interview

Issaura’s Claws follows Lluava as she is forced to take action against stereotyping and inequality in a kingdom divided by racism. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing story?

Growing up in the South, one becomes aware of prejudices around oneself. Personally, I have always had a strong sense of equality whether for race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. As a result, I wanted my debut series to open up a dialogue about prejudice of all sorts. Throughout the Incarn Saga, my four-book series, the main character Lluava is blatantly aware of racial, religious, and gender divisions within her society, and she stands up against them. Yet, even she occasionally comes face to face with the fact that she, too, is influenced by flawed thinking and must overcome those learned behaviors.

Lluava is both strong and intelligent and her character gains depth as the story progresses. What were some driving ideals behind her character development?

I love strong women. I do. From historical figures like Pharaoh Hatshepsut to fictional powerhouses including Ripley from the Alien series or Laura Croft from Tomb Raider, I have always gravitated toward strong, self-confident, and empowered females. In my writing, I choose to focus on heroines that have great inner strengths though they may not all view them that way. As for Lluava, I wanted to shine a light on the fact that women can be smart as well as physically strong. I follow fitness competitors and have competed once myself, so more often than not, I find some time each day to work out in the gym. I also wanted my initial heroine to demonstrate that women can encompass intellect, physical prowess, and a curiosity for the unknown. Yet a good heroine is also flawed. I say this because all people are flawed. No one is perfect. Lluava is hotheaded and overly quick to act at times. As book and series progress, she must recognize and overcome her weaknesses and learn to make better choices — a great goal for every person.

The Kingdom of Elysia consists of humans and the shape-shifting Theriomorphs. Were the backstories for these races planned before writing or did they develop organically while writing?

The true beginning of the idea for the series came from a dream about humans transforming into animals. After that occurred, I was fixated on the concept, going over and over it before ever beginning to write it down. Because of this, the initial backstory of the two races from Issaura’s Claws developed rapidly. Only when nearing the end of my first draft did I realize there were three more books to come. With each subsequent book, I added more depth and complexity to the Kingdom of Elysia and the long and volatile history between the races.

This is book one in the Incarn Saga. What can readers expect in book two of the series, Ullr’s Fangs?

As mentioned earlier, the concept for the final three books came after Issaura’s Claws was almost complete. Because of this, the other books do have a darker, grittier feel as the world expands, the war intensifies, and morality is questioned. In Ullr’s Fangs, Lluava heads to the capital and encounters corruption within Elysia. New characters are introduced including a strong foil for Lluava’s military partner. And the enemy that they thought they had begun to understand is nothing like what they expected.

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebookWebsiteInstagram

Issaura's Claws (Incarn Saga Book 1) by [Wibell, Katharine]

“According to legend, when the world was young, the goddess Issaura appeared among men. Those who treated her with kindness received the gift of the gods—the ability to transform into an animal form. This was a great honor but one that separated this race from other humans. Before Issaura departed the mortal realm, she promised to return if her people were ever at the point of destruction.

“Now a threat is rising from a land across the mists of the ocean, a threat that will push this race to the brink of extinction. Responding to the call to war, seventeen-year-old Lluava heads off to find her destiny, one that will carve her name in history.”

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Literary Titan Book Awards August 2019

The Literary Titan Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and we are proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.

Literary Titan Gold Book Award

Gold Award Winners

Kept Darkly (The Darkly Series Book 3) by [Smith, Tarrant]Surrendered Darkly (The Darkly Series Book 4) by [Smith, Tarrant]Resurrected Darkly (The Darkly Series Book 5) by [Smith, Tarrant]

One Fire Burns Out Another's Burning (Wheeler Book 3) by [Zalesky, Sara Butler]The Optical Lasso: Beware of Neptune's Dark Side by [Corwin, Marc]Scooter Nation (Unapologetic Lives Series Book 2) by [Funkhauser, A.B.]

Left for Dead at Nijmegen: The True Story of an American Paratrooper in World War II by [Nannini, Marcus A.]I Have Demons by [Adam, Christopher]

Bolan's Quest II: The Rise of the Gnarlis by [Simmonds, Paul]The Silver is Mine by [Phillips, Jason Roger]

W900 by [McNulty, Tom]Don't Drink the Pink by [Fegan, B.C.R.]

Literary Titan Silver Book Award

Silver Award Winners

"Bottom Down, Penelope Brown!" by [Pulliam, April B.]The Enchanters' Child by [Sarikonda, Navya]For The Love Of Alison by [Diver, Sahlan]

The Trial of Connor Padget by [Roberts, Carl]The Dung Beetles of Liberia: a novel based on true events by [Meier, Daniel V. Jr.]Wings at Dawn by [Balustrade, Marie ]

Burn Marks: A strange time for letters by [II, Robert D. Rice]FRAGILE MIND: Mental Health Poetry by [Thompson, Wesley]The Journal by [Stevens, R. D.]

 

Visit the Literary Titan Book Awards page to see award information and see all award winners.

 

Experiment X: Exposed

Experiment X: Exposed by [Haase, Nikki]

The first thing I noticed when I started reading this book was how calm the narrator’s tone was. It starts by telling how we hear about stories of women who, after a night out, end up in strange surroundings with sour legs and a bad taste in their mouth. I expected the plot to follow this narrative but Nikki Haase had a pleasant surprise for the reader as the story shifted to a more intense plot. The author is great at describing events that I could imagine everything she talked about. The vivid descriptions is one of the things that made this book a fantastic read.

I enjoyed Rebekah’s introduction into the story. Being able to view Rebekah through the eyes of Karen  made her a special character to me. Karen hated Rebeka, disliked her fake rosy red-lipped smile and could not stand her light brown eyes. I love when the author does this because it makes me more interested in a particular character. Rebekah was perceived to be one of the unlikeable characters at the start of the book. I kept reading about her, built my own perception of her, and came up with a neutral judgment of her. Despite the narrator making Rebekah appear like an evil character at first, I found her to be extraordinary and fascinating.

Enter Jack and the plot twists in the book. We are first introduced to Jack as he talks with Karen at the party. Jack seemed like a gentleman. I like how he appeared at the opportune moment when Dante had disappointed Karen. The interaction between Dante and Jack was obviously unpleasant as the two tried to flex their muscles on who the better gentleman was. Reading about the conspiracy theory about an experiment conducted by the military and the U.S government was not only thrilling but also frightening.

Who wouldn’t enjoy a story about a government facility that houses super soldiers? The breaking of the theory and the actions that followed were electrifying. The characters in the book were excellently developed. Karen was the main character in the book and also significant in the whole experiment. It was interesting how Karen was oblivious of her role until Jack showed up.

I liked how Jack enters the story as an antagonist but ends up… ah, I won’t spoil it. I enjoyed this fantastic, action packed, story immensely and I highly recommend it.

Pages: 262 | ASIN: B06W9NC7B7

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Sundance – Trailer

Sundance is a promising young Warrior Angel, the first in centuries to join the Divine Army. With the help of one of the most powerful Archangels, her skill and talent develop, allowing her to master some of the most difficult tasks that face her kind.

Sundance, under the supervision of the ‘Council of Twelve’ seeks to prove that she deserves her unusual gifts in the eternal fight between good and evil. Follow her adventures as she discovers love, fights the good fight, and finds herself in the heat of battle trying to keep her wings from being singed.

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