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The Progeny

The Progeny: A Novel (Descendants of the House of Bathory Book 1) by [Lee, Tosca]

Are we defined by the ones who were before us, or do our actions define us? Do the actions of one individual condemn their future descendants to a dire future?

The Progeny is a thrilling adventure story, echoing the suspense of Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne series. The beginning of the story is a little slow but the story picks up and is quickly entertaining. Things keep on rolling as our lead character, Audra and her small group of people find themselves in situations that quickly turn sour. Despite the frailty shown, the characters rise up to the challenges that face them, which made me emotionally invested in the well drawn characters. I frowned when I read about the zealots who were hunting descendants of the most infamous female serial killer in history. Why? They are not the killers. Why harm them? But then people do tend to carry grouses for years, maybe some are crazy to carry ones that pass on from generation to generation. These thought provoking themes kept me hooked. I especially loved Luka character, who loves Audra without any motives or benefits. The author describes the revelation in layers which is all the more warming to my heart.

There are many more layers to the story than initially appears. It shows the depth with which Tosca Lee has crafted her narrative. Overall the story is well written and continues at a good pace.  We get a glimpse into the past of the characters, but thankfully the story does not dedicate too much time on it. The one thing that I did find odd was the persuasion power that every descendant of Elizabeth Bathory (mainly females) seems to have. Why it appears, or what is the reason for it is not explained. Even more curious is that it goes away after a certain age. Why? I need to know! Needless to say, I am invested in this enthralling and thoroughly entertaining novel.

Pages: 337 | ASIN: B010MH9YUW

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From Personal Experience

C.A. Simonson Author Interview

C.A. Simonson Author Interview

Runaway follows Rose as she is taken from one home to the next and struggles to find a place without pain. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing story?

This story actually came from a dream that interrupted my sleep night after night until I finally got up and wrote the outline. I tried to describe Rose the way she looked in my vivid technicolor dream.

Rose’s character is interesting and deeply developed. What were some ideals that drove her character development?

Although I was loved and wanted as a child, I grew up alone with older parents who were often mistaken as my grandparents. I had to entertain, and sometimes care for myself. Perhaps some of my own characteristics come through in finding the hideaway in the attic, pretending to be someone else through my own fantasies, and particularly escaping into my music. My own piano playing comes naturally; I play by ear as well as by note. Playing before a crowd, or on a small Sunday night service also comes from personal experience. How the book describes Rose getting lost in her music, playing with her eyes closed, or banging out her frustration on the keys comes from personal experience.

This novel sheds light on the condition of runaways and abused children. What do you hope readers take away from this story?

My husband and I were foster parents to young preteens. We saw the plight of these young children and what they had to endure (especially if they had to return to their families). We had to deal with and abide with CPS *(aka, the system) and their rules. It may not be the perfect answer, but with so many abused runaways/throwaways in our nation, it may be their only hope and salvation to be placed with a good foster family, and eventually adopted. More good families are needed in the system to meet this need.

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

I am presently doing research on an immigrant child from Venezuela seeking to find refuge in the United States. His Venezuelan mother has been promised safe transport for herself and her twelve-year-old son if she can only come up with the money. She knows if she can get her son to his American father, he will be cared for properly and safe from the cartel. Even though Mateo’s father was only in Venezuela on a short work project, she believes he will welcome the son he knows nothing about. Little does she know the man she hired is only doing this for profit and benefits.

Hopefully, this will be available sometime next year.

My Love’s Journey Home trilogy (available on Amazon, Barnes & Nobel, or at my website, casimonson.com- 2013-2015) also deals with abandoned children. Separating to survive, some end up going through the adoption setting.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website | Facebook | Twitter

RUNAWAY by [Simonson, C.A.]She was told she was unwanted. Unloved. Broken and scarred. “No man wants a cripple,” she was told. “You’re damaged goods.” But she never dreamed she’d be thrown away. There was only one thing she could do…”Runaway” is a fictional account that captures the plight of runaways, child abuse, and foster care in America. It’s a message of hope and faith when all else seems lost.

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Heart Land

Heart Land by Kimberly Stuart is a contemporary fiction story about Grace Kleren, a struggling design assistant in New York who aspires to be a fashion designer. But instead of receiving the promotion she expects, she ends up being fired. With no job and no way to pay her bills, she is forced to return to Silver Creek, Iowa, the town she left ten years ago. However, she’s determined to find a way to earn enough money to move back to New York and prove herself as a fashion designer. But after reconnecting with her first love, Tucker, will Grace’s dream change?

Heart Land is a story that was a joy to read. I won’t ruin the ending for you, or how Grace and Tuckers relationship ends, but I’ll say that it was one of my favorite endings for a book this year. Especially after the ladies of the sewing circle had come together to help her with her new business, which brought much-needed money into the area. I’m glad that Grace didn’t turn her back on them. All of this was delivered eloquently with a bit of humor, which I enjoyed.

Although I liked the main characters, I felt that there were a lot of unnecessary secondary characters in the beginning of the book, since most of them were not mentioned again later in the story. And Grace was not shown in the best light when she is first introduced and she ducks out early on the photo shoot the day before she expected to get a promotion. Although that was not the reason she got fired, it could have easily gone that way, and she thoughtlessly risked the very thing that she supposedly wanted the most (can you tell I’m invested in the characters).

When Grace first returned to Silver Creek, I didn’t like how she often acted like a sulky teenager rather than a women in her late twenties just because things in New York had not gone the way she’d imagined and she wasn’t happy to be returning to Iowa. Ultimately she recognized this fault in herself and did not continue the same behavior for too long. I enjoyed her character transition, although it took her a while to realize what was really important.

This is an exceptional story that explores the power of love and connection to people and places.

Pages: 321 | ASIN: B078MDDLFB

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Save Him

Save Him by [Hayes, William M.]

Save Him by William M. Hayes is a time travel story about a scientist named Rydel Scott who works at the Genesis Lab in upstate New York creating new technology for the military. After he stumbles across a way to travel back in time, his terminally ill sister convinces him that he must use this discovery to prevent Jesus’s death on the cross. The Unit, an elite military group led by Ray Catlin, is sent to stop him before it’s too late and bring him back. But once on the mission, the Unit becomes divided. Will Rydel succeed in changing the past and saving Jesus Christ? And if he does, will the people in the present survive the repercussions?

I enjoyed reading this book. The story line was intriguing, and it was a unique take on a time travel action adventure story. I liked the descriptions of Jerusalem during the life of Jesus. It gave me a good sense of what it might have been like to live during that time period.

The technology described in the book was interesting. The story started out a bit slow, taking place in the Genesis Lab with a show and tell of the new tech rather than with action as the Unit is sent out on their mission. However, this did give me a chance to get to know the various members of the Unit, who might have been hard to keep straight otherwise, since there were so many of them.

The group became divided about the mission once they arrived in the past, which was something that didn’t sit well with me, since the Christian believers’ position did not seem logical. One of the foundations of Christianity is that Jesus died for our sins so that our souls would be saved, yet the Christian characters don’t act as though that sacrifice was necessary when it should have been a fundamental belief. I thought it was odd for them to think that saving Jesus would have no effect on the present when Christianity as they know it would cease to exist if Jesus did not die on the cross.

This was an intriguing book with an interesting plot, but I felt the book lacked a conclusive ending. If you enjoy science fiction stories with futuristic, yet believable, technology in a historic setting then this book is definitely for you.

Pages: 345 | ASIN: B07WQMP41B

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Runaway

RUNAWAY by [Simonson, C.A.]

Nina doesn’t want her and told her as much. The man in the car wanted her, but she knew he was no father figure. The two old ladies who find her want her, but the system says otherwise. Nothing in her life is the way it should be. A scar mars her face, and her leg is twisted and forces her to limp. When the girl now called Rose is taken from the one home where she feels loved and truly cared for, she is placed in a shelter for runaways and begins to question everything about where she came from and where she wants to be.

Runaway, by CA. Simonson, is a gripping novel detailing the struggle one young girl faces as she is forced to leave the wreckage she knows as her life thus far. The only parental figure on whom she can rely is mentally abusive and more inclined to offer her up to a man who wants to sexually exploit her. From the first pages, Simonson engages readers in Rose’s story as she fights to flee from a man who promises to do nothing but continue her world of hurt.

Simonson does an amazing job communicating to readers the intense feelings of neglect and mental anguish experienced by young Rose. Her thoughts are painfully clear, and her pain is tangible. The author has created a phenomenal main character and provided a supporting cast of characters that further develop the tragic plot enveloping Rose.

When Rose is essentially rescued by Hope and Faith, she sees what her life could be like for the first time. It is during this part of Rose’s story that readers see her experience real love and kindness. There is a sense of relief for Rose and readers are filled with hope. Simonson shapes her story well and immediately finds a way to continue the rollercoaster that is Rose’s young life.

Simonson is adept at creating characters readers will love to hate. Nina is number one on that list. Not in a long time have I loathed a character as much as I loate Nina. The way she treats poor Rose from the first chapter is reprehensible and unforgivable. Simonson’s antagonist serves her purpose well.

There is a satisfying amount of mystery in Simonson’s novel. Rose’s background, while tragic and fairly transparent in the first chapter, is a bit of an enigma. As the detective searches for the truth about Rose’s mother, readers are taken on a heartbreaking journey. Nothing about Rose’s life has ever been easy, and readers soon see why.

I recommend this book to anyone searching for a novel based on faith and centered around Christian values. C.A. Simonson has created a character who overcomes tremendous odds in the face of a multitude of obstacles including a family who cannot bring themselves to provide the love she needs. Readers will be touched by the honesty and strengthened by the values expressed by Simonson’s cast of characters.

Pages: 193 | ASIN:  B07RT73PTN

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I Was Once A Victim

Daisy Thomas Author Interview

Daisy Thomas Author Interview

Destined To Date A Good Man gives readers practical solutions to finding a Godly man and avoiding counterfeits. Why was this an important book for you to write?

I’ve seen so many women’s lives destroyed behind counterfeit men, and I’m fed up. I can relate to their suffering, because I was once a victim myself.

You give practical advice in a straightforward manner that I enjoyed. What were some ideals that were important for you to capture in this book?

I feel it is extremely important for me to expose the tactics and tricks that counterfeits use to manipulate their victims. It’s equally important for me to reveal how to spot them, avoid them, or break free.

What is a common misconception people have about dating and finding the right partner?

Women often believe that if he looks trustworthy, says the right things, or does good deeds, that he’s a good man. In many instances, this may be the farthest thing from the truth. Counterfeits are great actors, and can fool many people.

What do you hope readers take away from your book?

This book will equip women with tools to empower them, and protect them from counterfeit men.

Author Links: Website | Amazon

Destined To Date A Good Man: No More Counterfeits! by [Thomas, Daisy]Do you feel as if he’s hiding something, but you don’t know what it is? If so, you may be dealing with a counterfeit. A counterfeit is a man who will mask his true intentions while he intentionally wastes your time, drains your resources, breaks your heart, or abandons you at his convenience. Since he is able to mimic the behaviors of a good man, he’ll manage to scam many women throughout his lifetime. It’s time to be empowered! Christian Author, Daisy Thomas will expose eight different types of counterfeits. She will also reveal numerous strategies a counterfeit will use to deceive you, and turn your life upside down. If you want to avoid getting played by a counterfeit, this book is for you. Inside you’ll find biblical and practical solutions to give you the best outcome. You’ll be empowered to recognize and break free from counterfeits in your life!

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I, Claudia: A Novel of the Ancient World

I, Claudia: A Novel of the Ancient World by [Wilder, Lin]

The somewhat untold fictional story based on real historical events during one of the most infamous times in human history. This novel explores the story of the persecution of Jesus Christ from the perspective of the wife of the man who ultimately sentenced him to death, Pontius Pilate. 

This story does a fantastic job of showing that despite history painting Pilate as a villain, he was actually a very wise and valiant man who, with the support of his patient and earnest philosophical wife Claudia, did everything to try and save Jesus from the High priests.

This story is a fantastic retelling of one of the most famous times in history. You get to explore the rise of Pontius Pilate and see the human side of him that the gospels leave mainly untold. Plus, much of the story focuses on his wife and her upbringing and events that led her to becoming the woman beside one of the most vilified rulers in the bible. 

This story goes into the heart and mind of the man history has held responsible for the fall of the son of god, and the woman who many believed sat idly by and allowed it to happen. Whilst being technically historical fiction, the plot line and events are very believable and with the fantastic background stories of the main characters being explained properly, you begin to really connect with Pontius and Claudia very early on. 

There is a good dose of suspense and romance sprinkled through the adventure and by the end of it you actually feel genuine sorrow for Claudia and Pontius Pilate because the author did such a remarkable job of making these historical villains into suffering humans just like all of us. 

With the weight of the world on their shoulders, they managed to make the right decisions time after time and you are rooting for them the entire way through the story, hoping for them to succeed and not let the problems of the Empire destroy the idealistic world they created.

Pages: 301 | ASIN: B07LB8NKN4

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Looking for Redemption

Br. Benedict Dyar OSB Author Interview

Br. Benedict Dyar OSB Author Interview

The Flame of Telbyrin follows two elves on a thrilling quest to find out why the Flame of Telbyrin is going out. What served as your inspiration while writing this book?

As a young boy, I enjoyed the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and also many fantasy movies. The inspiration was mainly wanting to compose a story full of light with some light theological concepts and messages. As a Christian monk I value this and also believe that fantasy adventure can be a channel for these concepts.

The Elves, Orilin and his wife Larilyn, are intriguing and well developed characters. What were some driving ideals behind their development?

I’m flattered that Orilin and Larilyn were well liked. I must confess they are like my children! I love them and want to see them succeed. Some of the driving ideals behind Orilin were both the classic ideal of a fantasy hero and a troubled soul looking for redemption. Larilyn is my favorite character in the book. She is modeled off of the Biblical character of Ruth. “Where you go I go. Where you stay I stay.” I wanted to make it clear that Orilin and Larilyn love each other very much.

The mythos and in this world is deftly created. Was this designed before writing or did it develop organically while writing?

The design of the world of Telbyrin was mainly designed before writing. The character development was done as the story went on. The theology and mythos of Telbyrin was also improved on as the story went on.

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

The next book: The Vicar of Telbyrin, will be the story of Orilin and Larilyn’s son. Hopefully it will be available for readers no later than early of next year.

Author Links: GoodReads | Amazon

The Flame of Telbyrin: A Tale of Heroism and Faith by [Dyar OSB, Br. Benedict]The Eternal Flame of Telbyrin has existed since the foundation of the world. All the peoples of Telbyrin venerate it as the symbol of all creation’s prayers that go up to the Creator — all except the dreaded Meldron, a race hidden within the Mountains of Black with a supposed secret knowledge of dread power.

As two young married Elves make their way towards the Flame on annual pilgrimage, they discover that the Flame is going out. All of a sudden, these two Elves are caught up in an adventure of discovery of why the Flame of Telbyrin is going out and who or what may be behind it.

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The Flame of Telbyrin

The Flame of Telbyrin: A Tale of Heroism and Faith by [Dyar OSB, Br. Benedict]

The world of Telbyrin is no stranger to the high fantasy wonders of, Elves, magic, legends, and lore. The story unfolds as our two heroes strike out on a pilgrimage turned epic adventure. No sooner do they leave the confines of their beloved farmland do they quickly run into danger left and right. A fearful evil rises once again in Telbyrin threatening the peace and all its inhabitants. At the same time, the Eternal Flame is found extinguished throughout the land causing panic and dread.

From reading Br. Benedict’s book, I can spot his fantasy influences as well as his admiration for the genre. The plot is straight forward but with that Br. Benedict’s builds an elaborate world that is deftly created with care. The author has clearly spent a good amount of time developing and establishing name and traits for each concept presented in The Flame of Telbyrin. With so much effort gone into creating such a rich world, I would have liked to experience more substance in the writing. The story moves quickly and I quite enjoyed the fast pace of the novel. It added tension and suspense to the plot. But with that came less time to evoke a well-crafted setting and character development.

The Elves, Orilin and his wife Larilyn carry the plot as they traverse the land of Telbryin in search of an answer and hope to the fast-approaching Meldron, an arch-nemesis to the Elvish population. The black and white portrayal of morals between Elves and Meldron sets the reader up for a clear choice of who to root for. I have a sneaking suspicion that this is among the first of a few books Br. Benedict’s has written. The novel keeps the quest like adventure and characters simple and rarely deviates from the commonly used fantasy tropes.

It is evident that Br. Benedict loves the genre deeply and enjoyed developing and building the world of Telbryin. I enjoyed reading this book with the knowledge of Br. Benedict’s hard work and dedication to the novel. The Flame of Telbyrin is brimming with potential to become an epic fantasy novel with intriguing characters. I look forward to Br. Benedict further cultivating his ideas and giving us a fuller view of his imagination. The Flame of Telbyrin was a joy to read and I recommend it to any fan of the fantasy genre that is looking for captivating characters inhabiting an intricate world.

Pages: 171 | ASIN: B07HKT4441

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Unquestioned Soul-Robbing Hollow Gods

James Sniechowski Author Interview

James Sniechowski Author Interview

Worship of Hollow Gods is a provocative book that challenges the ‘hollow gods’ we worship. Why was this an important book for you to write?

Worship Of Hollow Gods was an important vehicle for Jim to continue to extricate himself from the “hollow gods” his family was immersed in.

You examine family, faith and the secrets we hold. What are some themes that were important for you to capture in this book?

Yes, the unquestioned soul-robbing hollow gods were family, alcohol, and the church.

I appreciated how you approached these sensitive topics. What do you hope readers take away from your book?

What we’ve seen over and over again is the reader leaving a review/telling us how this book helped them take a different look at the family “norms” they grew up with.

What are were some reader reactions that surprised you?

The only response that was surprising was the one star review on Amazon by someone who was impatient with all the descriptions and details and saw Jim’s character as “screwed up” blaming his parents and got bored. But, that’s not surprising from someone not interested in people’s internal lives.

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads | Website

Worship of Hollow Gods (Leaving Home Trilogy Book 1) by [Sniechowski, James]In Worship of Hollow Gods, James Sniechowski bears witness to the world of a sensitive, nine-year-old boy, subjected to the underbelly of his Polish Catholic family in working class Detroit. The year is 1950. The family gathers for a Friday night family poker/pinochle party. The outcome reveals a world no one ever talked about then and are forbidden to talk about now—the unspoken, the impermissible, the reality beneath every family’s practiced facade—and what lies beneath when the front has been ripped away.

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