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Unbelievable Stories I Uncovered

Vali Benson
Vali Benson Author Interview

Blood and Silver follows a young girl to 1880’s Tombstone Arizona where disaster strikes and she must outsmart an evil madman. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

The inspiration for the story of Blood and Silver was numerous trips to Tombstone, Arizona between 1980 and present day. This tourist attraction now has a population of about twelve hundred residents, but in its hey day had a population of almost twenty thousand. I couldn’t imagine nearly twenty thousand people in this tiny place and the more I researched, the more unbelievable stories I uncovered. I knew that this place in that time was a story waiting to be written. 

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

Carissa is a young girl of only twelve years who has had a modest but loving upbringing until age eight. At that point, her family joined a wagon train for California and met with tragedy when her father and brother died of cholera. Her mother was consumed by grief and left young Carissa to fend for them both. This made Carissa grow up very quickly. She realized that only she can help them. She used her brains and shrewdness well beyond her years to create a better situation for her mother and herself. 

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

I wanted to show a young girl who had the grit and the guts to take charge of her own future. I also wanted to play with the interaction she had with the Chinese citizens.

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

I am currently researching several different ideas. Foremost on my docket would be another adventure for Carissa and Mai and also perhaps some background on China Mary. My readers were so receptive so receptive to my characters in Blood and Silver that I feel that maybe I owe them a little more.  

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

2xWINNER – 2021 San Francisco Book Festival What is a twelve year old girl to do when she finds herself in the silver boom town of Tombstone, Arizona, in 1880, and her only home is a brothel and her only parent is a drug-addicted mother? If she is Carissa Beaumont, she outsmarts the evil madam and figures a way out.

After tricking the madam, Miss Lucille, into summoning a doctor for her mother, Lisette, she discovers that Miss Lucille has been drugging her. She and the kind doctor make a plan to try to save Lisette by dosing her down on the drug.

Doctor Henderson tells Carissa that the only source for the drug is a Chinese immigrant named China Mary, who lives in Hoptown, at the other end of Tombstone. Carissa has no choice but to go to the powerful woman for help. Many say that China Mary is the one who really controls Tombstone.

China Mary admires Carissa’s brave spirit, and uses her influence to get her a job at the new Grand Hotel, which will free Carissa from her many duties at Miss Lucille’s. She will work along with Mary’s twelve year old niece, Mai-Lin. The two girls become fast friends.

Then, disaster strikes, and the two girls must work together to stay alive.

With a host of colorful characters and meticulous attention to period detail, Blood and Silver is a story of the best and worst of human nature, the passion for survival and the beauty of true friendship.

The Book of Thieves and the Joker’s Game

The Book of Thieves and the Joker’s Game by Summer Freisen takes readers to the magical world of Mysthia. It is a fantastic world, where people with magic decide everything. From status, to power and political influence, Emblems are everything. But what happens if someone is able to steal those precious emblems? Our main character Abell Araphel, is a young boy who is plunged into this magical world. Growing up in the streets of Florida, he is a normal kid, or so he thought. After the mysterious death of his father, he is left with more questions than answers. His friends, Ez and Cain, are not much help either. He discovers his own lineage and Emblem and is guilt-ridden that he has such an ability to steal other’s emblems. Initially, he uses it unknowingly, but as he discovers how his powers work, he goes on a perilous coming-of-age journey that will fascinate readers from beginning to end.

The story sets up a high level of intrigue with the magic and mystery in this story. I was filled with questions as the story progressed, many were answered, but not all. Why has the queen gone mad? Why won’t Abell’s friends tell him the history or his role? Why do they keep demeaning Abell saying he knows nothing, and then not providing information. Abell represents the readers, in that he is as uninformed as we are and we learn about the world through him. This is an enchanting story that feels like it has a deep backstory that is begging to be explored and I hope we get to explore more of it in future novels.

I really enjoyed the imaginative worldbuilding, there is so much creativity in this story, the magic, Mysthia and the culture, there is truly a unique world being built here that needs to be revealed further. My favorite scene was the one where Abell is thrown into the course by Gerogiana! It was gritty and great at the same time. My favorite character turned out to be Ginger, the tabby cat. A companion that accompanied Abell through thick and thin.

With a unique blend of magic and mystery it has all the elements that I love along with some surprising grisly scenes that were captivating. I look forward to reading the next book in the series because there are so many questions that are left unanswered, and I am intrigued to know more of Abell’s fate. The Book of Thieves and the Joker’s Game is a rousing fantasy story that will appeal to readers looking for an imaginative young adult adventure novel.

Pages: 194 | ASIN: B09B3W8ZHW

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Blood and Silver

Blood and Silver by [Vali Benson]

Blood and Silver by Vali Benson is a story from a 12-year-old girl’s perspective based in the 1880s era. Carissa Beaumont is sent to the boomtown of Tombstone, Arizona from California. She and her mother are employed (without payment) under Miss Lucille, the owner of a brothel. Her mother, Lisette is drugged and used for her beauty and singing talents. Things looked grim until they reached this new city which changed their lives forever. Carissa meets a few amazing people like the town’s sheriff, a kind doctor,  a new friend Mai-Lin and the town’s prominent dignitary-Chinese Mary, who helps her escape her miserable fate.

Blood and Silver is an enthralling western with superb attention to detail and riveting characters. The story has some funny innuendo which will give you the giggles throughout the book, but these lighthearted moments breakup the otherwise grim nature of rough western life.

The friendship between innocent Carissa and her sarcastic brothel friend Yvonne is perfect for the young adult audience. China Mary is not a native English speaker and that is depicted spectacularly. Her dialogue will keep you waiting for her parts in the book. Carissa, despite her juvenile age has to make tough decisions for herself. She is  a spectacular protagonist. The author has created a strong female lead that has a unique appeal.

The book is short and crisp. This is more of a novella, but in any case we have just enough room to set the scene, setup characters, and set them on a perilous adventure that I enjoyed reading. There’s a lot going in the story in a short amount of time, but author Vali Benson’s writing ensures we never lose track of what’s happening and why, and that balance and relentless pace make the book suspenseful.

Blood and Silver is a captivating coming of age story following the growth of a demure little girl into a smart and courageous individual. This is an enthralling western that gets the historical details right for the history buffs and ramps up the drama for those looking for a thrilling young adult adventure that transports you to another time and place.

Pages: 142 | ASIN: B086R4RBF3

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She Remains True To Herself

Ingrid Ramsdale
Ingrid Ramsdale Author Interview

Emilie follows a young woman who struggles to find her identity during the bloody 16th century French Wars of Religion. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

Curiosity about my French Huguenot ancestry on my mother’s maternal side led me to researching and writing my debut novel Emilie. All the women in my family are strong willed and resilient. I started imagining what my female ancestors would have been like escaping from religious persecution and starting their lives again in a foreign land. From there my narrative grew.

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

Emilie is only 16 years old and trying to find herself in one of the darkest periods in French history. Her character is quite complex. Like many teenagers she is contrary, vulnerable and flawed. But what shines through in her character is her authenticity. No matter what she is faced with, she remains true to herself.

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

Emilie is set in the 16th Century but the themes are just as relevant and pertinent today. The story is as much an internal story of self-discovery as an historical story of religious persecution, gender inequality, suffering and loss. The themes of overcoming adversity, love and redemption make what could be a dark story very inspirational.

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

I have started researching the sequel to Emilie. I am aiming for a 2022/3 release.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website

How much suffering can one person endure? Will it break them or make them stronger?Sixteen-year-old Emilie Lefroy is about to find out as she searches for her identity and sense of self amid the bloody 16th century French Wars of Religion that kills her closest family and friends. Emilie laments being born a female of noble birth. Headstrong and intelligent, she challenges societal and family inequalities. ‘Why should I pray to a god that has given me a brain, but then gives me parents that will not let me use it just because I am a daughter and not a son?’Emilie’s desire is to become a healer, and no one is going to stand in her way. Not her devout Huguenot parents; her malicious brother, Pierre; or the scheming Marcus Daval, her betrothed. Emilie’s plans to run away from home and change her identity are disrupted by the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre. As she escapes from one of the heavily guarded gates of Paris, Emilie must decide whether to save herself and flee France forever, or stay and use her newly acquired medical skills to help other Huguenots survive a copycat massacre in Rouen.Emilie is a captivating adventure of self-discovery that is brimming with raw emotions and heartbreak. Can Emilie find herself and true love in a world of hate and violence? This historical romance and adventure novel set in the French Renaissance will keep you spellbound to the end.


Tygers by [J. Warren]

J. Warren’s Tygers is a book set in a alternate universe where America is led by a super-conservative government that treats homosexuality as an abomination. As such, young gay men are taken to facilities and camps that promise to “cure” them of their condition. In this world, it is easy for young gay men to be radicalized and used by terrorist cells. Through the eyes of Aaron Miller, a gay teenager, we get a first-hand account of how difficult it is to navigate this new world. We also get up close and personal with two members of a terrorist cell, Marcus and Victor, as the author helps us see what could push a person down such a dark path. As expected, this book is full of love and violence, laughter and tears. Aaron’s coming of age seems to be happening at the same time that his country seems to be devolving into ancient ways. He falls in love, loses his love, and goes down a dark path of destruction. On the other hand, Marcus and Victor encounter some unexpected challenges of their own.

If there is one thing to be appreciated about Tygers, it is the superb character development. Throughout the story we get an understanding of who Aaron is, his relationship with his family, and the mental space he is in. This makes him more relatable and likable and a character with great depth. It is difficult not to root for him, especially since he is so young and confused. And even though Marcus is quite mysterious, we get an understanding of him and what he is passionate about. While he is quite villainous, the author tries to humanize him as well, something that emulates the nuances of real life.

Ultimately, it is the fact that this story is believable that makes it scary. Clearly, the author took his time to ensure the plot is solid. What’s more? His writing style is light, refreshing, and easy to read. There are no long-winded paragraphs and every page is both informative and entertaining. While I enjoyed the story, I thought some of the scenes were graphic and can be off-putting to some, but otherwise it is enthralling literature told with a unique writing flair.

Tygers is a riveting dystopian novel with poignant commentary on society and chilling parallels to contemporary issues, all told through a compelling character that will affect readers long after they close the book.

Pages: 282 | ASIN: B0994MKWWL

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Emilie by [Ingrid Ramsdale]

Ingrid Ramsdale’s Emilie narrates the story of a girl who wishes nothing but to pursue her dreams. Set in sixteenth-century France against the backdrop of the turbulent struggle between the rising wave of Protestantism and the established Catholicism, the novel paints a vivid picture of its time and perfectly establishes our intelligent eponymous protagonist, Emilie, within that setting. 

Emilie wishes to learn about the healing properties of plants, and pursue it as a career, but she is vehemently opposed by the French society of that time. Women in those times were not allowed to study, rather they were married off to further the political and economic prowess of the family. Emilie plans to elope, but she finds herself caught within the religious turmoil and fatal attacks on her family. 

Although the story takes places in a dramatic historical setting, the powerful message at the core of this riveting story will still resonate with modern readers, especially during these times when so many still struggle for equality. It is an eternal story of a woman trying to create her identity in a society that doesn’t allow women to have minds of their own. Our heroine’s intellectual mind transcends the barriers imposed upon women, and she seeks to learn medicine, arts, geography, and the healing power of herbs. She attains her goal of becoming a natural healer, but she also has to face the rage of a hateful brother and an even more despicable suitor. 

Emilie carries a universal appeal and presents history in an intriguing way. The characters have been developed with an intellectual depth and intelligence that makes them equal to the momentous times they are living in. If you wish to delve into sixteenth-century France, the ecclesiastical history, and the position of women within that framework, this novel would be a fascinating read.

Pages: 324 | ASIN: B094X822H2

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Illyia (The Feigned Moon of Entiria Epic Serial Book 2)

Illyia (The Feigned Moon of Entiria Epic Serial Book 2) by [E.A. Bagby]

Episode 2 of The Feigned Moon of Entiria Epic Serial, Illya, by E.A. Bagby is a fantasy book set in the Deo Forest, a place known as the mortal realm and believed to be the middle way between earth and sky. After Giels and his friends come back from their journey on the underworld, they have to deal with the repercussions of their discoveries and the curiosity of their tribe. While Erikal, Meritus, Cleo and Alana start to interact with the community and create new and exciting possibilities for the Deo tribe, Giels has to undergo the pressure of his training to become lead storyteller all the while suspecting he might be going mad.

The protagonist’s doubts about his beliefs after the events of the first book set up the theme of the narrative, the clash between the council, chained to tradition, and the young characters, hungry for answers and new ways of living. Giels’ journey to understand himself and what he wants is really easy to empathize with. I was sometimes mad with his clinginess to tradition, and other times happy when he realized the silliness of his actions and the world around him. I would have appreciated this same depth provided to the other characters in the story.

The setting is very different from other novels, with a blend of tribal culture, fantasy elements and science fiction. The way the cultural elements are explained enrich the world and make you want to know more. The writing throughout the novel is superb, the story is constantly moving forward while the descriptions of locations are left to the readers imagination.

The Feigned Moon of Entiria provides an engaging mythology, while also providing an exploration of the conflict between myth/tradition and science/technology. I’m curious about what’s coming next, and I bet after you read it you will be too.

Pages: 150 | ASIN: B0979GD31H

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Ontological Shock

E A. Bagby
E A. Bagby Author Interview

Illyia continues to follow Giels as he returns from his adventure and must make a decision about his future. What were some new ideas you wanted to introduce in this book that were different from book one?

Book one was really about introducing a cast of characters and the very different world they inhabited at a moment of lost innocence. In Illyia, we get to experience the aftermath of that—what happens after an ontological shock, and how does each person react?

What were some obstacles you felt were important to developing Giels character?

I think all good characters have strengths and weaknesses that play off of each other. And it’s usually those internal forces that drive them above all else. Giels has a near didactic memory, which is perfect for becomming a great storyteller, not to mention he’s in the right family to have that talent nurtured. Yet, he’s terrified of talking in front of large crowds. Double that with the fact he’s no longer sure if he believes in the stories he recites. And that’s the tip of the iceberg. He wants to preserve his standard of living, marry his girl, prove that he’s not privelaged and on. It’s maddening, but these problems propel him forward. Underneith it all, like all of us, he’s seeking elusive balance. And, as if his normal life isn’t confusing enough, he has a whole other realm that’s tugging at him. Getting his bearings is nearly impossible.

I enjoyed the deep and detailed world you’ve created. What were some sources that informed this world’s development?

Everything. Fiction, for me, is a way to reframe real life. By exaggerating personal experiences, especially those indellable moments and memories, whether bad, good, or just odd, we can take a closer look at them. We can understand them for what they really mean. For me, that process of tranforming life to fiction is usually automatic. For example, I’m pretty sure the Underworld originally came out of my experience of moving to Manhattan from Nevada as a child. Of course, this was a big moment for me, and stories of abandoned subway stations and tunnels where so-called “mole people” lived played on my imagination. Then there was the view out of my bedroom window. Tucked in the spaces between buildings existed a hidden world of pipes and machines and latticework eleven stories below. The imagination goes wild, especially if you’re used to seeing snocapped mountains out of your window. What sort of world existed there? Rumored giant rats and waterbugs and tropics-sized dragonflies I’d see fly around now and again, possibly sustained by the heat of the machinery and the steam? At that age, you even wonder about mythical creatures, too. Could there be beauty and life, an entire ecosystem, in the unnatural ugliness? It was aweful and fascinating all in one. Did people live back there, tucked somewhere? But for storytelling, what is most important is what did those hidden features of the city mean for me, and how did they represent my transformation after the move? I’m sure some of that worked its way into the Entiria stories.

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

The next one is episode 3, The Champions. Things really start taking a turn in this episode, and the bigger picture comes more into focus. When will it be available? Well, I wish I could say next month, but it’s important to me that the writing does the story justice, so we’ll have to follow up with one another. That said, I hope not too long.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website

A tale of love, adventure, magic, mythology, and tech.

Reality has now taken a hard turn into the unknown. What do you do when hell isn’t the dark world you imagined, but something much more unfathomable?

As Giels reorients himself back to life after the disorienting adventure, his friends have a different plan. Everything that tortures him, inspires them.
As possibilities begin to open up and seem endless, what route will Giels take? Will he reconcile with the council to fulfill his birthright as his tribe’s Lead Storyteller, or will the gods have their way with him, hurtling him back into the great machine?

This episode picks up where we left off from episode 1, delivering lush prose and mythology like Lord of the Rings and Mists of Avalon, strange worlds like Journey to the Center of the Earth and Ringworld, dark themes like Gormenghast, the mysteries of The Sixth Sense, and even a touch of the relationship depth of Jane Austin.

All that with tech that ranges from aluminum spears to that which rivals The City and the Stars and Star Wars.
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