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Ruby Roy and The Murder in the Falls

Ruby Roy and the Murder in the Falls follows Dr. Ruby Roy through her first real-life murder mystery. Ruby is a twenty-nine-year-old college professor at Baron University. She’s absent-minded, has an overactive imagination, and is a lover of mystery. As a junior professor, she wants to make sure she doesn’t rock the boat so she can make tenure, but when she finds her Chair dead, she fears for her life.

Author Rima Ray has given readers a female sleuth that they are sure to fall in love with. She’s sharp, quirky, absent-minded, and has an imagination that gets away from her. Ruby is the type of protagonist you root for and believe in, even when she is afraid of nearly everything. All of this makes her feel a little less heroic but she is so much more authentic and relatable because of it. She is someone you can imagine exists in real life, rather than someone who is larger than life. She doesn’t want to rock the boat so it takes her a while to start investigating the mystery, but whether delving into the mystery or living her life she is a character that is oh so charming and fun to follow.

The story moves quickly, as the author knows how to balance exposition and action, giving readers the right amount information in the beginning of the novel to keep us engaged and get to know Ruby before we begin our descent into the depths of this intriguing cozy-mystery.

I enjoyed how well developed the characters in the story were, especially the organic way they are introduced. Reading about Ruby’s character was so fascinating to me as she is so different from the usual protagonists we find in murder mystery stories. I love her quirkiness! I felt like I was a friend of Ruby’s alongside her on this scary but fascinating experience.

Rima Ray has created a memorable character that readers will love to follow as they descend into the depths of this puzzling mystery. I highly recommend this book to readers looking for a light and refreshing book that will make you smile while reading it.

Pages: 244 | ASIN: B09YCPX979

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Fore Play

Linda Sheehan’s Fore Play is a book that explores the beauty of golf and the intricate lives of those who play it. Set in a fictional Los Angeles sports club called Bellstone, the book’s storyline revolves around three main characters – Jody, Mandy, and Newt. It particularly focuses on the life of Jody – the granddaughter of the club’s founder – Forrest Wheeler.

Traumatized after the death of her grandfather, Jody stops playing golf. But her husband convinces her to try out the sport by joining the Bellstone club. Here, they cross paths with Mandy, Newt, and a host of other characters that significantly affect the couple’s life trajectory.

As Jody gets more involved in golfing and her work as a scientist, she becomes closer and closer to Jackson – a reserved caddy. Moreover, she begins to notice some of her husband’s unpleasant qualities. Ultimately, she, like the reader, comes to realize that all that glitters is not gold.

If there’s one thing that this book does well it’s that it highlights how far some people will go to gain social acceptance and praise. Using the lives of characters like Mandy, the author highlights how important it is for some people to appear rich, beautiful, and successful, regardless of who they hurt to achieve that. On the other hand, characters like Jackson remind us of how society overlooks anyone who seems different, poor, and unwilling to participate in posturing.

Another theme that is deeply explored in this book is the propensity of victims to become oppressors down the road. For instance, Mandy is bullied as a child and grows up to be a bully herself. On the other hand, Father Norm is abused as a child and grows up to manipulate people and the system to do his bidding. Ultimately, their stories parallel so many real-life ones, making them believable and relatable.

The author creates characters that are layered and interesting, making it easy to believe that this book could be inspired by real events. Even the way that the different golf games are described seems so real. It also helps that the book is written in simple language and even includes verses to popular songs that the characters listen to in different scenes.

Fore Play provides a unique and captivating look at life through some intriguing characters. This is a riveting and easy to read sports fiction novel that uses humor to assuage the darker moments of the human drama unfolding in this absorbing story.

Pages: 273 | ASIN: B09WCT3VHV

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My Work is Inspired By My Love of Animals

Author Interview
Author Interview Anil

Silly Animal Rhymes and Stories: Zoo Two is a book of not just poetry but fascinating facts about animals. What was the inspiration for this children’s book?

It’s my second book of Silly Animal Rhymes and Stories. Both were inspired by my love of animals, being a retired zoologist, coupled with my love of word play and constrained writing. The restraint here is the use of terse single rhymes per poem, which I call universes. I then enjoy adding silly stories and nonsense, plus some biology, to the poems.

I don’t specialise in children’s books. My other three books are not for kids, too difficult or too ‘adult’.

The art in this book is fantastic. What was the art collaboration process like with illustrator Kalpart?

Kalpa Joshi, the head artist for Kalpart, lives in Mumbai. All the artwork was provided by email, in response to my written descriptions of the ideas I visualized. She was very cooperative and allowed me to seek revisions of her initial sketches, which she then had her team convert to the final coloured images, again generously allowing me revisions. Although mostly all my own ideas, she often made good suggestions.

I really liked the poems Racial Harmony and Wake up, Sleepyhead. What is your favorite poem in this collection?

My favourite is Ape and Wolf in Concert. That’s not for literary reason but because I’m an avid supporter of Friends of Bonobos, the orphan bonobo sanctuary and rehabilitation and release sites in DRCongo.

Their social media sites presented a longer version of this poem a few years ago. It’s also my favourite illustration in the book.

Judged purely on literary grounds I don’t really have a favourite but am especially pleased with ANOLE, BORZOI, CANARY, MONKEYS and the 1st PLOVER.

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

I have another book of silly animal rhymes (without added stories) in production at Olympia Publishers (UK), my first book to be accepted by a traditional publisher. It’s entitled 101 Animal Universes and includes 25 repeats from the two kids’ book. It also contains a few adult rhymes so is not a kids’ book except with parental discretion. It should be out later this year, I’d guess within three months.

The next book I am working on (basically finished and awaiting some b&w illustrations from Kalpart) is another exercise in constrained writing. This time it uses Spoonerisms around which to weave silly to serious stories and essays, many for adults only. It’s entitled Haywire Way Higher: Spoonerism Couplets, Stories, Essays. If I cannot find a traditional publisher I’ll again self-publish with SBPRA, the publishers of my other four recent books. I hope to see it published later this year or in 2023.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website

Here are just a few of the Animal Rhyme stories inside:
ANOLE LIZARD becomes a Pig.
BORZOI Puppy is a riot.
CHINCHILLA has a Pet GORILLA.
GNUS steal shoes!
MOA didn’t make it to Noah’s Ark.
TORTOISE dreams of being a Ninja athlete.
WHALE ‘drops out’ and regrets it.
ZINGEL FISH meets Santa in my dreams.

Non-human Species Deserve To Live Their Lives Free of Exploit

Chuck Augello Author Interview

A Better Heart follows a filmmaker that reconnects with his father in an unusual way and causes him to question what matters in life. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I’ve had an interest in animal rights for most of my adult life and wanted to write about it in an engaging way that would entertain readers, but also inform them and perhaps challenge them to explore their own beliefs.  After my first novel, The Revolving Heart, was published, I started writing the opening chapters of a new novel, with an animal rights theme, that was nothing at all like A Better Heart.  After three chapters that novel stalled, and I put it aside for several months.  I then began hearing the first-person voice of Kevin, the novel’s narrator, and a character took shape.  I didn’t know that Henry, the capuchin monkey, and Kevin’s estranged father Brian would be critical characters until they literally walked into the opening scene.  Once that happened, the story fell into place, and I wrote the first draft in ten months, which for me is quite fast.   

Kevin thought his life was going great till he encounters Henry and reconnects with his father, causing him to rethink his personal values. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?  

Kevin feels responsible for the death of his mother and that guilt drives him toward a feeling of responsibility for Henry.  He’s someone who has always been self-focused.  As a filmmaker, he’s constantly drawing in his friends to help him with his projects.  He’s never really thought about the world beyond movies and his own ambitions, but as he learns about Henry’s experiences, he knows that he has a choice to help Henry reach freedom or to let him return to what can only be described as a primate prison.  

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

Primarily, the idea that non-human species deserve to live their lives free of exploitation and pain. The way that most animals are treated is unforgivable, and a stain on the human character.   Another theme is one of forgiveness.  Kevin struggles to forgive his father for what he perceives as abandonment, and he struggles to forgive himself for his unintended role in his mother’s death.   

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

I’m currently under contract for a book about the author Kurt Vonnegut.  It’s a mix of essays and interviews that I’ve done over the years with scholars and artists about their Vonnegut-themed works.  That should be available in 2023.  I’m also working on a novel set in the Bicentennial year of 1976.  The main characters are a college student and her uncle, who has returned home after living in Canada for ten years to avoid the draft during the Vietnam War.   

Author Links: Twitter | Website

For aspiring indie filmmaker Kevin Stacey, it’s another day on the set of his first film, but when his estranged father, a failed Hollywood actor, arrives unexpectedly with a bundle of cash, a gun, and a stolen capuchin monkey, he’s propelled toward the journey that will change his life.
The monkey, Henry, has been liberated from a research lab by animal rights activists. Inspired by his friend Veronica to reevaluate his relationship with other species, Kevin learns about the pain and suffering inflicted on lab animals as he forges a bond with the capuchin. When father and son embark on a road trip with Henry, Kevin is caught between the egocentric father who abandoned him and the temperamental monkey whose fate is in his hands. With both the FBI and his mother’s ghost watching, will Kevin risk his career and his father’s freedom to bring the stolen monkey to safety? Meanwhile, Veronica’s encounter with an eccentric Catholic priest triggers her own journey toward change.
A heartbreaking yet comic family drama, A Better Heart examines the human-animal bond and the bonds between fathers and sons, challenging readers to explore their beliefs about the treatment of non-human species.

Silly Animal Rhymes and Stories: Zoo Two

Silly Animal Rhymes and Stories: Zoo Two is a collection of animal-themed rhymes aimed at children. With a diverse vocabulary and introducing animals that are popular, as well as those who are hardly known to any, Anil conveys a message that is bound to raise nature lovers and animal protectors. In this enchanting book, young readers will meet Ross the Albatross, a love triangle between species, ants that face a grim demise, and other unexpected companions.

Two personal favorites of mine were Racial Harmony, and Wake Up, Sleepyhead. Racial Harmony features a cow and a sow that share their meals in the Taoist communion concept of ‘Tao.’ Wake Up, Sleepyhead, is about a sea snail Periwinkle, constantly tired and sleepy, is warned by the author not to let sloth get the better of them, lest they face the same fear as Rip Van Winkle.

Anil beautifully mixes child-friendly themes with more in-depth zoological knowledge which students from elementary to high school can enjoy. This approach transcends the narrow audience of most children’s books. Examples of concepts introduced in this book are those of metazoa, protozoa, and extinct animals. The author starts out each section with a cute poem, with only one rhyming sound per poem. After the poem, there is detailed biological information that is fascinating and not the kind of information you expect to find in a children’s book. This is a wonderful book for opening discussions with children and encouraging the desire to dive into the sciences. Combined with the brilliant and detailed illustrations by Kalpart, this magical book will entertain the entire family.

Silly Animal Rhymes and Stories: Zoo Two is a poetry picture book written for children but can be loved by all. This children’s book is not just poetry, but fun science facts and information that will appeal to older readers making this a book that can be loved and read for many years.

Pages: 95 | ASIN : B09NJP9XV3

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Demons, the Great White North and the Blind Detective 

Demons, The Great White North and the Blind Detective, is an intriguing novel about a blind detective and a near-future world of enhanced dogs, chimps, and flying cars. The story primarily takes place in northern Alaska and Canada and follows Peter Shaw and his assistant, Watson, an intelligently-augmented talking golden retriever. With the help of the Canadian Mounties, they investigated a series of gruesome crimes committed against the native Inuit people of the region. Intertwined with this story are the happenings of the Integrated North American Space Force, where a seemingly unconnected tragedy has a far-reaching impact on the Inuit people and the world itself.

Author Shawn Adair Johnston uses shifting points of view as he flows through his narrative. We experience this new futuristic world through the eyes of many characters, including the naive and innocent Watson, the truly detestable Lt. Colonel Rex Trantor, and the slow-rolling existential crisis that is Sergeant Aristotle Jones (an intelligent chimp who works for the Mounties). We see them through shifting inner monologues and consciousnesses, where many characters explore what it is to “be,” including their ideas of right from wrong and even their pondering on whether on not they have a soul.

I feel that this narrative structure is a bit jarring at first. The point of view changes abruptly from man to man, dog, chimp, antagonist, and possible new antagonist. However, seeing the points of view of particular characters really enhances the suspense at times and providers some much-needed information to follow the clues of the mystery.

Much of the story is told and not shown, as actions and events are expressed to the reader through the characters listing a series of things that happened or will happen. I feel that more dialog between characters would have enhanced the storyline more than reading their own thoughts on what they were experiencing and what that meant to them. However, the internal dialog of the characters did provide a unique perspective given the diversity of the characters in this story.

Demons, The Great White North and the Blind Detective, is a captivating story that is not too overpowered by the technological marvels of the sci-fi setting while incorporating humor from the characters. In addition, the fantasy elements brought in add an intriguing aspect to the plot that blends the two genres into a fantastic read.

Pages: 290 | ASIN : B09QD6SVNG

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A Better Heart

A Better Heart by Chuck Augello follows Kevin Stacey, who is trying to make it in the film industry. His friend and coworker, Veronica, is with him when his actor father, George Gringo suddenly steps back into his life. One day in the middle of a shoot, George shows up with a mysteriously disheveled capuchin monkey, a bundle of cash, and a gun. Henry, the capuchin monkey, has been stolen from a research laboratory by animal rights activists and is supposed to be dropped off at a sanctuary. But, before that can happen, the authorities catch onto the plan. From there, a fateful journey begins where during a road trip, Kevin faces several moral dilemmas. He is torn between helping Henry and risking his father’s freedom or helping arrest the activists. During all this, Veronica finds herself in the ethical crossroads as well, between wanting to make a difference in the fight against animal cruelty and the indifference towards animals she grew up with.

This humorous story follows the bond between a father and son, the rebuilding of personal ethical philosophies in a young woman, and a question into how much an animal’s life is worth compared to a human one. The author uses a slow-burn style to start the novel in order to introduce all the characters and their backstories. The background information allows readers to really understand how the characters got to where they are and why the tension builds so strongly between them.

Chuck Augello’s writing is incredibly creative; his writing style is realistic and engaging. The characters come alive with his ability to capture their captivating personalities, humor, and self-reflective thoughts. The characters are the type of people that most readers will identify someone like them in their own lives, making the story more relatable and personal.

A Better Heart is a riveting comedy based around moral decisions and a family drama. Building relationships and discovering personal values are mixed with humor as people come together to save Henry, the rescued lab monkey.

Pages: 257 | ASIN : B09C2S6P78

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Stupid Love 

Stupid Love by Danielle Dexter is a fun, emotional and relatable tale of starting over, in life and love, following a difficult break-up. The lovable main character, Rachel Parker, finally finds the strength to leave a toxic relationship after years of gaslighting and endless broken promises of change. Readers get to join her on her journey of moving back to her hometown. Everything is new, her own apartment, a new job, the new dating scene- but she has a wonderful group of old friends that keep her uplifted and grounded as she navigates everything that comes with her new beginning. 

We follow Rachel and her friends as they experience love and heartbreak while hoping to find ‘the one’ and live happily ever after. They are there for each other as they learn the ‘do’s and don’ts’ of dating and work to find lessons and growth through the hurt they experience. Rachel takes her pain to the page and starts an anonymous blog revealing her experiences, thoughts, and feelings on love which allows readers an even deeper view of how everything she goes through affects her. We watch as she starts to date again, makes questionable choices, loves the wrong men, and ultimately discovers what she really wants and needs from both herself and her partner in a relationship.

This was such a fun read, and I think absolutely every girl can relate to how ‘stupid’ love can be. Dexter writes in a way where you feel she is talking right to you as if she is your best friend telling you about her life. She is genuine, vulnerable, and relatable- writing the thoughts we all have felt in a way that ensures the reader that they are not completely senseless, and definitely not alone, in choosing the wrong men even when they know better.

Stupid Love is a heartwarming story of healing and self-discovery, with the ultimate quest of happiness in love. This is an amazing book for anyone who finds themselves scared to start over or wondering why love is so very complicated.

Pages: 400 | ASIN : B09QK62Z7P

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