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Scorn of Secrets – Book Trailer

I must keep it locked away–the memory of my darkest secret….

When the rising tides of my life peak, I’m left struggling with the currents of the storm. The first dilemma is my dad’s gambling debt. Mama bounces back quickly from the ramifications it causes. She proves this by getting a new man. Her Rico Suave is just the tip of the iceberg–she moves us across state to live with him and his two sons.

My outgoing, older sister fits right in–she’s the total opposite of me. I am Madison Guillory, the shy, quiet type. Taught to make the best of even the worst situations, I contemplate giving my new family a chance.

Living with my future stepbrothers is interesting, to say the least. They’re like night and day. I have more in common with the laid-back brother, and we become instant friends. I’m adjusting to Taylor High, and the arrogant brother is even starting to grow on me. Maybe everything will work out after all.

My life finally seems to be falling into place until a dreadful night shatters my dreams. My world is flipped upside down because of the consequences I must now bear.

The memories of that night lurk in the shadows to torment me. If I think of what happened, I’ll succumb to my fear. His face has scorned me. No one will believe me if I confess, not even my own sister. I hold the key to my darkest secret, desperate to keep it locked away.

Recommended for 16+ due to sexual content and language. Some content dealing with sexual assault may be disturbing.

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Voyage of Pearl of the Seas

Voyage of Pearl of the Seas by [Ruth Finnegan]

Ruth Finnegan’s Voyage of Pearl of The Seas is more than meets the eye. It is the story of two kids and a beloved dog – Chris, Kate, and Holly. They build a boat from a log they find in the sand of a beach and embark on what they hope will be a thrilling adventure.

They face unprecedented challenges, ultimately finding themselves in a fantastical land with a King much reminiscent of God. He has many names and speaks of creation and wisdom. He particularly tells stories that seem to be related to those included in Biblical text. But what is even more intriguing about him is that he gives gifts that come in handy in some of the most unlikely of situations.

While this story is full of much of the awe and wonder that you expect from a fairytale, there are some unexpected concepts here. For instance, one of the main characters, Chris is hailed as a hero yet many of his mannerisms don’t portray him as such. He seems to be inconsiderate, entitled, and even condescending, particularly to women. Several times in the story, he has disparaging thoughts about Kate. At some point, he even forgets about her and abandons her in a “wilderness”. Yet through it all, she seems to be very concerned about his needs, putting them first in many situations. And while he did eventually sacrifice his dream to save Holly, it is not much of a voluntary grand gesture but rather a last-minute decision made in a crisis. However, it must be said that the author does a great job at weaving together the different facets of this story – the physical, emotional, and the fantastical.

That aside, the language used is poetic, adding a creative lyrical aspect to this story. There are songs, poems, and unexpected dialogue embedded within the flowery prose.

There is one thing that’s clear though- Kate’s timidity seems to increase across the narrative, most times directly proportional to Chris’ arrogance. To some extent, it feels that they are symbols. Voyage of Pearl of The Seas is an emotive and intellectually-invigorating fairy tale that is creative and deeply thought-provoking.

Pages: 134 | ASIN: B079GPQMG1

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The Cause of Darkness: A Story of the Civil War

The Cause of Darkness: A Story of the Civil War (The Life and Redemption of Teddy Miller) by [John W. Bebout]

The Cause of Darkness by John Bebout follows a 16-year-old boy, Teddy Miller, when his father gets arrested and sentenced to hang for being a guerrilla soldier. Set in the last year of the American Civil War, Teddy sets out to save his father and is offered help by a number of people. Most of whom, however, have their own self-interests at heart.

This historical fiction novel was a major page-turner for me. Teddy starts as an innocent adolescent but as his family and life is turned upside down, we see him grow and hold many conflicting yet realistic traits as he is forced into this situation, such as being a chivalrous person needing to face some of the horrors of war. This was a fascinating coming-of-age story that felt authentic and was completely engrossing. Teddy, his brother, and a detective helping them, Kate, get involved with many people who seem fixated on furthering their own interests with little regard for the young boys which causes them to develop a distrust to strangers, but conversely, a solid reliance on each other. However, their relationship with each other is also tested harshly, all of this adds to the intensity of the story and gives the story a high level of intrigue the rarely wavers.

It is obvious that the author has put in a lot of effort and research into the time period of the American Civil War as the setting felt incredibly realistic and vibrant. He shows a true understanding of nuanced human behaviors and beliefs, especially during a war and in the 1860s, and the strong research involved grants a lot of credibility to the story being told. An enjoyable cherry on top were the quotes from real-life figures at the start of a handful of chapters detailing aspects of the nature of war and what it takes to participate in one.

While I enjoyed the novel overall, I felt that certain actions by Teddy were frustrating, although this could be attributed to him just being a child. And I felt like the ending left some loose ends to things I wanted answered, but these are things that can easily be left to the imagination.

The Cause of Darkness is an engaging novel with a substantive view of war and human nature that was captivating and stirring. The author has a unique and refined writing style that made reading this thrilling historical fiction novel utterly enjoyable.

Pages: 212 | ASIN: B087NW9MKV

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Andar

Andar by [Fulris]

Andar is a post-apocalyptic coming-of-age story, told from the point of view of a juvenile wolf, Kalamu, who is travelling a bleak landscape with his old parents in a desperate search for food and water.  This story reads as if intended for the young-adult market, but with frequent use of strong language I would recommend this adventure story for a more mature audience.

The sense of tension is well-drawn, with danger lurking behind every mound of earth.  There is no reprieve from the violence and the sense of impending doom, so there is little hope to be found in the barren moors the family is crossing.

The landscape, tone and plight of the wolves remind me of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. While the writing overall is very good, there is an occasional odd phrase that could be cleaned up to keep the fantastic atmosphere intact.

The fight scenes are plentiful, but they are sensitively told with excellent description of injury and death without wallowing in the gore. The dialogue, too, is skillfully written and an important element in characterizing the fearful young wolf, his protective mother and distant father. While I reveled in the engaging dialogue it was sometimes hard for me to tell who was speaking.

The tension in the story is high and the suspense is drawn-out in this coming-of-age story but I would have liked to have seen Kalamu grow a bit more. However, he does seem to find some hope at last, although at the highest of costs. Andar is a riveting fantasy adventure novel with excellent atmosphere, dramatic tension and sensitive characterization.

Pages: 87 | ASIN: B08W8QFQ78

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A Firecracker of a Character

B.A. Bellec
B.A. Bellec Author Interview

Someone’s Story follows a teen struggling with depression along with a host of other high school challenges and finds a group of weirdos that save him from the dark depths of his mind. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I went through a rough patch in life and this started as a journal. After about a half-year of reflecting and journaling, I decided to turn it into fiction. I combined many people from my past to get the robust characters we have at the end. I also play with the timeline as all this did not happen inside a year but rather over 5 or 6 years. As an adult, you get older and you fall out of contact with those people from your past. In a way, this was me letting them know I was always paying attention.

Someone is an intriguing and well-developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Originally it was me. The anxiety and the cleverness, combined with the running. I am a deep-thinking introvert and that side of me comes out in Someone for sure. Where the character took flight was when I combined two people from my past with myself. By bringing in their flaws and trauma I was able to create a firecracker of a character. The decision to leave the character named Someone was because I didn’t feel it was fair to make this from my perspective or to call the main character myself. By just leaving them as Someone, I better honor all the people that rolled into this character.

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

Mental health, friendship, love, loss, pop culture, drug use culture.

I wanted this to read pretty normal for the first 60% so I tried to pull from my past and give genuine heartfelt chapters from my past. I think I also do a good job showing broken homes and “busy” parents. Of course, the ending hits hard and mental health becomes the central theme. Jogging and writing are tools to help with mental health. I am not an expert on mental health in any way but I can say that jogging and writing help balance me. I know when I struggle the most it is because I have let those two things fall off my schedule.

This is a fantastic debut novel. What were some surprising challenges you faced while writing?

I do not have any technical English training. I used a pair of editors to help me with tense and spelling. The editors are critical to my process and both came back to help on my second novel. The plot and characters come naturally to me and I can write 50K words in a few months, then I spend 6+ months going back and forth with the editors. I went down a 2-year rabbit hole learning how to self-publish and then self-market. I had no idea how hard it would be to market a novel. You have to get on social media every single day for years to get steam. My second novel release is going to be so much bigger with all the skills and connections I made along the way though.

Author Links: YouTube | GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website | Instagram

In his debut endearing coming-of-age book, B.A. Bellec writes about a group of weirdos that find and save each other from the dark depths of their minds. Someone’s Story is literally Someone’s story, as in a first-person narrative of a teenager that calls himself Someone. As he struggles to find a new footing in a new space, we encounter the many ups and downs of modern teenage life, the difficulties that adjusting to adult feelings bring, and a few tear-jerking surprises along the way.

Littered with music, mental health, friendship, loss, meditation, advice, pop culture, and even inspiring an EP, there is so much nostalgia, inspiration, and depth here it is hard to absorb it all. Cozy up somewhere warm and enjoy!

Decades of Studying Dogmatism

Judy J. Johnson
Judy J. Johnson Author Interview

Thief of Reason follows a college student in a dysfunctional family who seeks counseling which sets the stage for starkly contrasting views. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

As far as I can tell, the perilous influence of dogmatism, particularly in politics and religion, isn’t going away anytime soon. That awareness plus three decades of studying dogmatism (the research focus for my M.Sc. thesis and Ph.D. dissertation), motivated my first nonfiction book, What’s So Wrong with Being Absolutely Right: The Dangerous Nature of Dogmatic Belief (Prometheus Books, NY), which was written for a niche market of psychology professors. During the several talks that followed, I was delighted by my academic audiences’ engaged fascination wth the topic, especially during the Q&A. Their response motivated my attempt to reach a broader audience with a fictionalized account of dogmatism. Because Canada has its share of closed-minded extremists, I wanted to alert Canadians to the dangers of this personality trait, but I confess that Donald Trump’s MAGA followers ignited a timely sense of urgency for Thief of Reason, particularly as I watched the divisive, polarized debates and recrudescence of racism throughout the four years of Trump’s administration. (Please excuse my blatant partisanship here, but my parents were born and raised in the USA so I have American relatives who are increasingly grateful for their mental tranquility now that Trump is out of office.)

Although Rick, the bright, 28-year old male protagonist, was deeply injured by his father’s authoritarian, dogmatic beliefs and behaviours, he yearned for personal insight and growth—a drive intensified by Liv, the new love of his life. Unlike many men in similar circumstances, he was not drawn to dogmatic, reactionary groups of angry protestors looking for a powerful leader who could provide an outlet for their frustration, and group identity that assuages alienation. I also wanted to show the impact Rick’s mother’s and sister’s steadfast love and support had on him, and Dorothy’s (the mother) questioning of her submissiveness to her husband and the Catholic church portrays a skepticism and open-mindedness that facilitated Rick’s gradual, more expansive understanding of his father.

What were some ideas that were important for you to personify in your characters?​

Above all, I hope readers will recognize the importance of trying to open-mindedly understand others before judging them, as difficult as that often is. I also hoped to illustrate dogmatic characters’ lack of conversation skills and provide suggestions that readers might want to consider in their own conversations, especially when discussing cherished beliefs they defensively and emotionally protect—a reaction that is fairly common even among non-dogmatic people. Finally, I hope readers will consider monitoring the habitual use of extreme words that may accompany their beliefs and ongoing experiences. Are they able to tolerate ambiguity without becoming unduly anxious? What would it take for them to change their mind about beliefs they fervently uphold? How have their childhood experiences shaped their personality traits, and how malleable are those traits?

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

Themes of: 1) genuine, openminded reasoning in contrast to closed-minded certainty, 2) respect for self and others, 3) self-awareness, 4) a generosity of understanding imperfections and weaknesses in one’s self and others, 5) authentic relationships, 6) the need to have, or appear to have, certain answers to life’s most difficult questions, 7) the normal need for social connection, dignity, and personal safety.

At times I thought it would be easier to scale Mt. Everest over the noon hour than personify so many themes in a literary style that didn’t sound preachy or self-righteous.

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

I’m considering authoring an edited book in which chapters focus on dogmatism in politics, economics, religion, science, education, business, marriage and the family, and perhaps art (poetry, music, and literature, among others). I’ll write the introduction, which briefly outlines the features of dogmatism, and contributing authors can apply these features to their own understanding and experiences in those domains.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Like pesky wasps buzzing circles around us, people who act as if they’re the sole expert on a subject put us on edge. We bristle at their arrogant, rigid certainty and refusal to change their minds in the face of abundant evidence that should give reason to pause.
Thief of Reason opens with a gripping scene of rising tension during a family dinner conversation. Polarized viewpoints spark a heated argument between an intolerant, dogmatic father and his son, Rick, a bright, twenty-eight-year-old university student who’s determined to understand his fractured relationship with his father and capture the heart of his new love-a political neophyte who, unlike himself, is devoutly religious.
With a lively injection of humour, Johnson skillfully contrasts closed-minded characters with those who are more open-minded, respectful, and inclusive-those who get second dinner invitations. Readers will think of people they’ve met or are related to, partners they’ve loved and left, bosses and coworkers they’ve endured, or candidates they’ve unwittingly voted for.
Compelling, insightful, and unforgettable, Thief of Reason peers through a powerful psychological lens that’s delightfully original and life-changing.

Feeling Like an Outsider

Taylor Fenner Author Interview

Monsters & Mist is a thrilling fantasy novel that I thought was very entertaining. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

Thank you! Initially I wanted to write a story about a girl whose nephew went missing who goes on a journey to find him and ends up learning about herself along the way. As the world and story unfolded it became about a group of characters that had been raised to see things one way who had to put aside those beliefs to work together.

Your characters were intriguing and well developed. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

I always see a little bit of myself in at least one of my characters. Monsters & Mist was initially intended to be told solely in Andromeda’s perspective. She starts off the book feeling like an outsider – in her village, in her family even, because she looks different and acts differently, wants different things than everyone else. I often feel like I don’t quite belong, even among friends or with my family and I wanted to show that you shouldn’t feel bad because your differences are what make you who you are. All of my main characters had to go through a transformation throughout the book. Cygni, for example, didn’t think he was ready to follow in his father’s shoes but by having everything ripped away from him he became the leader he was always meant to be.

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

I think, especially now, it was important for me to get across that despite where someone comes from, what their background is, or how they were raised deep down people all really feel things the same way. We all have hopes, dreams, insecurities, and fears. There are five kingdoms in Monsters & Mist, and for generations the people from three of those kingdoms had spent so much energy hating the people of the fourth kingdom all because the god they worshipped willed them to, when if they had gotten to know those people the world could have been an equal, peaceful place.

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

I have a few different projects I’m working on at the moment, all of which are outside my usual comfort zone. My primary project is a horror novel set in an almost forgotten hotel in the Great Smoky Mountains and I aim to have it out in the first half of 2022.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

The Girl with Warrior Aspirations.
The Playboy Prince.
The Ruthless Queen.

One will seek to enslave the world. One will lead the rebellion. And one will be the catalyst.

The Warrior General with a tragic past.
The Disgraced Bounty Hunter.
The Girl with the Constellation on Her Face.

One will rise to the challenge. One will return what was once lost. And one will embrace their destiny.

Six lives. One world borne anew.

The Roar of a Dragon

The Roar of a Dragon by [Robert Blanchard]

The Roar of a Dragon by Robert Blanchard is an adventurous fantasy narrated by Aidan, who begins the story from his childhood and humble beginnings in the countryside. The story develops from Aidan’s growing up on a farm and learning about the necessities of life. He details his family life and precisely how his upbringing prepares him for an initially traditional life, then unexpectedly changes. Aidan quickly discovers that the life he was raised for, and his destiny, is far more than he could imagine.

A simple twist in events, and realization by Aidan, propels him into a different life. He constantly struggles with dreams of his mother and a past and future that he learns to accept. The challenges of Aidan’s coming of age and developing into a solid and noble role are well-written with deep compassion and ambition.

As Aidan struggles with his fate and many obstacles ahead, he also grapples with his emotions and struggles to fulfill his soldier training. The book is more than a fantasy as it’s a deeply personal account of a young man’s transition from a naïve farmer’s son to someone who can make a difference in battle and beyond.

The characters are well woven into the story, shaping Aidan’s life and development into a bigger world that’s dangerous and exciting. It quickly becomes increasingly clear that Aidan’s life will play a significant role in a conquest that will require him to prove himself. The story beautifully explores Aidan’s life and his inner thoughts during his growth. He narrates every stage of his journey with exceptional clarity, with just enough detail and flavor to continuously engage the reader.

The Roar of the Dragon is a fantastic story of adventure and fighting battles, both literal and personal, with a rich character layer and development. Each scene is well described to paint authentic, rustic landscapes in a surreal fantasy world that comes to life. Aidan’s life is full of vibrant action that keeps the pages turning once you begin reading. He faces both external forces, from dragons and war, and his internal conflict.

The book is an incredible read, and you’ll easily move through the story quickly with anticipation for the subsequent development. The Roar of the Dragon is entertaining and well structured, detailing Aidan’s ability to face and conquer various levels of conflict in a unique fantasy world.

Pages: 280 | ASIN: B074BCDYTH

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