In The Enigma Dragon the CATS team has assembled with a singular goal, to discover the source of North Korea’s missile supply. What was your inspiration for the setup to this story?
It’s odd, but we started this story way before this subject rose so much in the forefront of our political focus. However with our acquaintances who have escaped from that country and with our reading, it seemed relevant. Sadly perhaps, a bit too real for our comfort zone.
My favorite member of the CATS team is Jamie. I found myself lost in the tale of loss and despair described in Jamie’s chapter. What were some themes you tried to capture while creating this character?
We have many friends in Ireland’s Emerald Isle and honestly enjoy the tales told by each of them. As with all people, our Irish friends have lost loves, conquered adversity, tried isolation, and would give anything to help a friend or even a close acquaintance. It’s the spirit of the people we like the most and we wanted Jamie to give that multi-dimensional lens. When we introduced him in The Enigma Gamers – A CATS Tale, which was the first of that spinoff group, we had him as a controversial character who we did not think would last. Then something happened and he took on a real aspect and who now is totally a part of our character universe. We love him even more in this tale and we’re glad you highlighted him, thank you.
This sets up the novel to deliver some very entertaining scenes. What was the funnest thing about writing this novel?
All our stories are fun to us or we wouldn’t even bother writing them. The funniest portion was building the cape which Summit used in his disguise. Burkey was, and still is, a talented seamstress and had so much fun taking the idea of the cape and crafting it into words. We are thinking about creating a shop-online product, but time may be a prohibitive in mass production.
How do you decide on the titles of your books?
That is really a “Chicken or the Egg” question, to be honest. We do have some criteria we always follow. The Enigma portion is due to the early beginning of computers with the World War II encryption device: The Enigma Machine. Our heroes began with stealing a copy of the machine as they also helped smuggle the device from Poland to England. The other is a matter of the book’s focus and our own puzzle element. When we finish The Enigma Chronicles the final puzzle element will become clear.
Do the vast amounts of information and technology available hold humans hostage? Does analog communication create a vulnerability?
The political climate in the world is unnerving. North Korea is running missile tests, but where are they getting their deadly supplies? Meanwhile, terrorists are hiding in plain sight, using American technology that is out on display in libraries and museums for the world to see, but are using analog methods to gather and assemble their information. No internet searches equal no red flags which lets the bad guys believe they are operating undetected. But the Cyber Assassin Technology Services (CATS) team is on the job. As Juan and Julie Rodríguez send their operatives out across the globe to track down these foot soldiers also known as Analog Information Mules, they’ll discover the horrible potential treats, and learn about each other along the way.
Mike and Marge control ePETRO, an oil shipping business with offices in London and New York, but they don’t have the same business goals in mind. Marge intends to sell the North Koreans uranium in addition to oil obtained illegally from the government sanctioned Middle East. But Mike may have other plans, mainly, keeping the profits of these sales for himself. Then there is the mysterious Steven Christopher, who oversees the AIMs, and is working several angles behind the scenes. Steven is the only one trusted by both Marge and Mike, but why?
The CATs team has feet on the ground, with Ernesto and Tyler following two women through Washington, D.C. as they visit the Smithsonian looking for nuclear fusion processes and down the Texas coast where a dangerous package makes its way onto a ship bound for Asia. Jamie, an Irish man with a heartbreaking past, joins the team in Texas and finds not only a new job, but acceptance. George and Summit travel across Asia following the oil and some suspiciously mislabeled furniture. After a rocky start at being paired up, Mercedes and Brayson head to Panama and are watching a previously known Dark Net data center, but Mercedes is soon extracted to help out in D.C. She quickly becomes embroiled in Steven Christopher’s world. Brayson is left behind alone in Panama and, still recovering from a lost love, learns that he can’t truly be a part of the team until he has forgiven himself.
While Juan stays with Quip and his supercomputer ICABOD, tracking his team members and relaying constantly updated information at the team’s nerve center, Julie heads to London. Julie finds herself in the center of all the trouble as she goes undercover in the ePETRO offices. When Julie disappears, Juan drops everything to find her. Quip loops his wife EZ, a Unified Communications expert, to help monitor and control the CATS team movements so that operatives can find the culprits in their different theaters of operation.
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The Enigma Dragon: A CATS Tale, by Charles Breakfield and Roxanne Burkey, is a fascinating tale of technological wonderment. The CATS (Cyber Assassin Technology Services) team has assembled from various global points with a singular goal and an overwhelming need to discover the source of North Korea’s missile supply. The team of equally capable and delightfully eclectic personalities masterfully manipulate a world of technological advancements as they handle their own personal crises–one after the other. The authors have created an amazing team of players ranging from married couple, Julie and Juan Rodriguez, to the villainous Marge. The globetrotting CATS team does not disappoint.
My favorite member of the CATS team is likely not the choice of most readers. I was completely enthralled with the story line involving Jamie. It is not often I reread chapters during the first read of a book, but I found myself lost in the tale of loss and despair described in Jamie’s chapter. His is a plot I would love to see further developed in subsequent Enigma books.
Julie and Juan Rodriguez are a couple like no other. The love they show for one another is enviable and not often found in books of this genre. The authors have given Juan some incredible monologues in which he, in no uncertain terms, declares his undying love for Julie. Julie, a dedicated CATS team member, is also a doting mother and exudes power in every way.
Marge, a vile and loathsome woman of pure evil, is the one character readers will revel in hating. The authors have expertly stretched out her character development to slowly reveal exactly how twisted and demented she really is. Without revealing too much about Marge’s wonderful plot twist, I will say I found shock, horror, and satisfaction tied up in one neat package before the end of the book.
Connie, like Jamie, holds a storyline in her hands like a beautiful package just awaiting the untying of its bow. Her dialect alone is a refreshing addition to the dialogue provided throughout the book. She is a loving, cunning, and especially memorable character addition who shows up late in the plot but deserves a regular place in the lives of the CATS team.
My only complaint regarding this book is the excessive use of acronyms. Many of them are humorous and all are quite effective in their descriptions and uses, but I found them to be a bit distracting as I read as many of them are in excess of five letters.
Breakfield and Burkey have created a book fraught with danger, tinged with grim backstories, and peppered with romance. They have indeed achieved a perfect mix of genres in the guise of a technological thrill ride.
I would recommend this book to any reader eager to break into the science fiction genre. The long list of highly relatable characters makes this particular piece the perfect choice for anyone who has been hesitant to step into science fiction with a techno taste.
Pages: 493 | ASIN: B0767QD12G
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Chicken: A Comic Cat Memoir is about a girl named TJ who grew up allergic to cats, but over time, the allergy faded. As an adult she finds a tuxedo cat with bright green eyes. It’s a beautiful story of life, cat’s, and loss. What was your inspiration for this story?
My daughter who, when she was 5-years-old, repeatedly wanted to hear this true story about how we found our cat, Chicken. I told her every night for a year, at which point she suggested I “make pictures” for it. That lead me down an unexpectedly long path to finally officially publishing.
Do you have cats? If so, what are their names? What do you think your cat named you?
Yes, we now have Cha-cha who, like Chicken, also found me in a dream. I’d have to say Cha-cha named me “hu-mom” (made up word for human mom) because she wanted me to find her as much as Chicken did. She’ll be the star of the next story!
Through the story there are little doodles and background decorations that tell a different story. Can you tell us more about that story and why you chose to weave that in?
About halfway into creating the artwork, it hit me that through telling the cat’s story, I was telling my own. I think that every life is multi-layered and wanted to communicate some of those other layers that coincided with the one of finding a cat through a dream that then materialized. While I wanted to offer a “nod” to some of the details of my life as a relatable subtext, I didn’t want it to take over the primary cat story as told to my daughter. I think this may be why much of the positive feedback I’ve been getting is essentially saying it’s “fun for all ages.”
I liked the artwork through the story. I thought it went very well with the story. Were there any panels that you didn’t include in the story? What was the biggest challenge in creating the art for the book?
As the author/illustrator, I did all the writing and artwork. Once I did the rough sketches and managed to capture the accurate mood of most of the panels, I was preparing to ink them in the way that traditional cartoonists work. However, I faced a rather daunting creative block in taking that next step. I didn’t do anything for about two whole years and then my daughter and I made a mini book called The Frizzball from Outer Space. The fun of working on that project and getting it done so quickly, gave me the courage to begin the Chicken illustrations. Once I got ball rolling, I quickly realized that I wanted to include some photography and collage so it made more sense to to all of it digitally. My background is in graphic design—both practicing and teaching it—so I know how to use the tools of the trade. What I hadn’t done before this book, was create artwork on an iPad. While I’m always up for learning something new, it took so long to get up to speed that by the time I reached the end, I had to start back at the beginning and re-do most of those first panels. Also, there are limits to digital tools and, in some instances, such as creating the front cover title art for the word “Chicken,” I was only able to attain the look and result I wanted by doing it by hand with brush and ink then scanning it in. In the end, keeping track of and backing up the thousands of files it took to create this was a real accomplishment in and of itself!
What is the next book that your fans should be on the look out for?
When you get to the end of Chicken, the next character presents itself. It’s very small, but if you look closely you’ll see the star of the next book.
A true tale about the magical meeting of a cat and her person told in 72 full-color illustrations in a rustic, cartoon, doodle, collage style. A cat allergy sets the stage for this colorful romp in which a cat named Chicken finds her way into the arms and affection of TJ, an artist in search of adventure and meaning. Brought together by seeming divine intervention, the storyline ranges from funny to emotional, sweet to silly, thoughtful to mystical, as readers travel with TJ and Chicken between coasts, encountering diverse friendships along the way.
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At first glance, Chicken: A Comic Cat Memoir by Terese Jungle is, on the surface, a children’s picture book about a woman and her cat. It’s a memoir of the author’s life as well as a beautiful memory of her cat, Chicken. But it’s also a book adult readers will enjoy not only for the delightful art but also for the greater story of TJ’s life. I’m a reader who enjoys graphic novels, and the further I got into the story, the more I realized this was more than just a children’s book. The art, the words, and the doodle-like notes in the margins are where TJ celebrates her journey as an artist and a friend to many other creative people.
TJ grew up allergic to cats, but over time, the allergy faded. Now an adult, she dreams of a tuxedo cat with bright green eyes and when she can’t find the cat at the local shelter, her friend Mimi announces that the cat must be looking for her. Of course, the cat finds TJ and they are a perfect fit for each other. The cat, named Chicken, follows TJ on her journey through life, sometimes at her side and sometimes in the care of others. But, like all pets, Chicken’s life comes to an end, and TJ and her daughter have to deal with it. It’s a beautiful, tenderly told story that’s appropriate for both children and adults.
I can see why the author calls this, “A great book to read to cats (and kids).” The illustrations are delightful, even child-like. The book would be a good way to help young children talk about their feelings about the loss of a beloved pet. But if you pay attention to all the little doodles, background decoration and the notes scattered throughout the illustrations, there’s a second story brewing that’s just for adults. Look carefully, there are little gems buried in the details of the illustrations!
TJ’s story is woven into the pictures, including multiple moves, hinting at the unsettled lifestyle of an artist and student. There are also cat fights, both feline and human, with one side note, “They didn’t stay friends for long” that will make any cat-lover snicker with recognition. The author also takes great care to include the people who were important to her life in the illustrations. At the end, there’s a listing of notes (marked with asterisks in the story) that give a little more insight into the people, artwork, cat behavior and poetry that appear in the book.
I recommend this for parents to read to their children, but be warned. If you are a “cat person” read it through the first time by yourself because (as they say on the internet) it will hit you right in the feels.
Pages: 82 | ISBN: 0976203510
Tags: amazon books, art, author, book, book review, books, cats, chicken a comic cat memoir, children, children fiction, comic, ebook, ebooks, fantasy, fantasy book review, fiction, memoir, publishing, reading, review, reviews, stories, terese jungle, tuxedo cat, urban fantasy, writing, YA, young adult