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H.A.L.F. Origins

H.A.L.F.: ORIGINS (H.A.L.F., #3)

H.A.L.F Origins written by Natalie Wright is the third book in the H.A.L.F series. This book will please fans of the series, which is aimed at young adults. It takes a look at the characters that fans know and love, Tex, Erika and Jack Wilson. Tex and Erika are on their own adventures, running for their lives against the deadly alien virus that is spawning an epidemic around the globe. As well as predators attacking Europe and an organization whose conspiring to profit from chaos and forge a New World Order. It seems like these two have their hands full.

Tex and Erika need help from a Navajo healer when Tex falls gravely ill  The healer is their only chance at helping Tex live. Thankfully, Tex emerges from the experience with vital information which will help stop the predatory M’Uktah from overtaking the human population. Sounds crazy, hey! Very intense.

I really enjoyed that this book had a pronunciation and definition guide at the start of the book otherwise I would’ve had trouble keeping up with whose who.

Another thing I really enjoyed was the sweet acknowledgment at the start of the book, as many acknowledgments are at the back and I didn’t realize that she had written so many words (300,000 to be exact).

The story is really fast paced and throws you immediately into the deep end of the action. The writing is really clever and immerses the reader immediately into the world of the characters. You can really tell that the author has crafted these characters with care, as they’re all very different and have a different tone. I’ve noticed with some of the other books that I’ve read, authors tend to just reuse personality traits, but that was not the case with this book at all.

With The Makers and predatory creatures who want to enslave the human race, I found this book to be very enjoyable and action-packed. It was very sweet to read Erika and Tex’s budding romance, as he’s half-human and she’s into someone else. That was relatable as hell, I mean, apart from the fact he’s half human. These two broke my heart again and again. Why did they make everything so complicated!?

The complexity of the characters within this story is what kept me on the edge of my seat. Although I generally like it when characters are undoubtedly good or bad, it’s refreshing for me to read characters that aren’t always like this. This was the case with the main characters within this book, as you learn more and more about them as time goes on.

I really enjoyed this book. Is it the last one in the series? I hope not.

Pages: 377 | ASIN: B07263P84J

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A Dangerous Discovery

A Dangerous Discovery

A Dangerous Discovery by Zachary Brock is a thrilling book about two men, Ace and Zeke. Ace had rough beginnings as he grew up on the streets of Latin America and had to do things as a child that no one should have to do. However, there was a chance encounter that completely changed his life and he is now reaping the rewards.

Together with his best friend and mentor Zeke, they run an international corporation, constantly enjoying the perks of wealth, social standing and luxurious travel. A new buyout of a company in Peru should run as normal, except this specific company has a secret that the Vatican will kill to protect.

Sounds awesome, hey! It sucked me right in. I love conspiracy theories about things like this and reading this book just feeds my obsession even more. It was a page turner simply because I was hooked on the Vatican stopping at nothing to protect this secret from coming out. You eventually discover why they stop at nothing and oh boy, is it a big secret.

There are two stories going on throughout the entire book but they eventually come together in the end, so it all works out. It was initially hard for me to keep track of at some stages, but that’s probably because I was reading it so quickly. I would have appreciated a clearer break between the two storylines. I think it would have been better if one chapter focused on one storyline and then switched in the next chapter. Which would help me keep track of the story while I was furiously tearing through pages.

I enjoyed the banter between Zeke and Ace. I found it funny, especially considering that the first chapter immediately throws you into a conversation where Zeke is anxious about ‘doing a sixty-nine’ with a girl he’s on a date with. He doesn’t even know what it means but that doesn’t stop Ace from being in hysterics. Reading the banter between the two of them was like hanging out with my own friends, it was easy to read and funny most of the time. You could clearly read the bond between them, which is a sign of great writing by Brock.

The story gets dark at points, which gives the book a good contrast to the comedic banter. I really enjoyed reading this book. I hope there’s a second one. I’m giving it a 4 out of 5 stars for the clever banter and conspiracy theory that the Vatican runs the world and will stop at nothing to protect itself.

Pages: 280 | ASIN: B06XQ4ZB83

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Another Cog of the System

David Berardelli Author Interview

David Berardelli Author Interview

In The Wagon Driver, Earth is overcrowded and Kyle’s job is to collect bodies for government disposal, but soon learns of a more nefarious reason why he’s employed. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?

I initially wrote this story in the mid-nineties, when I was working at AT&T in Lake Mary, Florida. Computers had already begun taking over, and the Y2K phenomenon was being considered globally. My imagination, as usual, went into overload, and I began having dreams about the Government using technology to move into the home, take over completely and systemically select who would be permitted to exist and who would not.

Kyle grows up an in orphanage and I instantly felt the isolation and loneliness that he felt. What were the driving ideals behind the characters development throughout the story?

Being an orphan as well as a loner, Kyle has never felt the bond of friendship before and frequently uses humor and sarcasm to disguise his shyness. When he meets Allie, he thinks he has developed his first true friendship, but when he realizes she has let herself become just another cog of the System, he feels betrayed. And when both Allie and the System turn against someone who could have truly become his one and only friend, he knows he can no longer stick around because he will eventually cease to exist as well.

Do you think over population is a serious concern today? What do you think are the causes and solutions?

I think it is a major concern, especially in many other countries. I don’t want to get political here, but in this country we could eliminate much of it ourselves, without Government intervention. However, I really can’t see it happening.

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

I am currently working on a Christmas novel entitled, Yesterday’s Journey. It is a fantasy, and should be ready to be published on Amazon and Kindle in early or mid November.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook

The Wagon DriverIn the not-so-distant future, population control becomes a necessity. Turning eighteen, Kyle Sonnet leaves the State Orphanage and becomes an employee of the Department of Population Control. As a wagon driver, he follows the ambulance to emergency calls and collects bodies for Government disposal. However, it isn’t long before Kyle understands that, due to the collapse of the healthcare system and contrary to what he has seen on the news, euthanasia has become the universal solution. But when he suddenly witnesses a horror he cannot accept, Kyle is forced to decide whether to become another pawn of Society or risk escape, which will result in certain death.

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A Dangerous Discovery

Can Ace and Zeke survive the discovery of a lifetime: a secret the Vatican will stop at nothing to protect?

Marion (Ace) Acevedo grew up on the streets as a Latin American. The things he had to do to survive as a child, no one should have to do, but a chance encounter changed his life.

Now he is the face of an international corporation. Wealth, social standing and travel is what his life is all about. He loves what he does, and with the guiding hand of Ezekiel (Zeke) Smith, his mentor and friend, his life cannot get much better.

Unbeknownst to Ace and Zeke, the acquisition of a new company in Peru holds a secret the Vatican does not want discovered. Special agents from the Holy See will do anything to stop this secret from being released.

As Ace gets closer to uncovering this dangerous secret, he must use every skill he was taught from the streets and from his mentor. But, even with an unknown stranger looking out for him, Ace may lose it all, including his life.

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Alien Mythology

Natalie Wright Author Interview

Natalie Wright Author Interview

H.A.L.F.: The Makers follows two groups of protagonists under the threat of an alien race. What direction did you want to take this novel that was different from the first book in the series?

The first book deals mainly with the idea that the aliens known as the Roswell Greys (those ubiquitous big-eyed, bulbous-headed aliens) are the alien threat. Book one brings the reader in with familiar imagery and ideas such as the Roswell crash, the Greys and government conspiracy reminiscent of the X-Files.

In The Makers (book two), my goal was to expand on the familiar alien mythology. I introduced my own alien species as well as my own ideas about the Roswell Greys. This expanded the story significantly. Books two (The Makers) and three (ORIGINS) are more epic in scope than in book one (The Deep Beneath).

The characters in this novel are once again intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?

Thank you for that compliment! 🙂 I enjoy writing all of the characters and especially had fun creating the sexual tension between Jack and Anna and also between Erika and Tex (though their tension really amps up in book three ;-).

But overall, I most enjoy writing in Tex’s perspective. Given that he’s only half-human, it’s fun spending time in his head! I like seeing our world through his eyes. Tex has strange, other-worldly experiences with the Regina and the Conexus in The Makers. Those scenes were creepy and fun to write! And his story grows and gets even better, I think, in book 3 (ORIGINS – releasing 8/24/17).

I thoroughly enjoyed the well crafted mystery and the detailed characters. What is your writing process like?

Thank you, again, for your kind words. My writing process is messy! When I first began writing fiction, I outlined extensively. I was an attorney for 20 years, so planning was in my nature!

But after writing two or three novels, I found that I no longer followed outlines I created. The more experience I get as a writer, the more I focus on character development in my pre-write planning. I write back story, flesh out motivation and details about the characters. For both The Makers (H.A.L.F. #2) and ORIGINS (H.A.L.F. #3), I did not outline the plot. I have a general idea—beginning point, middle point and end point. I focus, for each POV character, on what needs to happen for this character for the story to end.

For The Makers, because there are two separate plot lines, I wrote the Tex and Erika portions all at once, then the Jack and Anna portions, then the U’Vol chapters. I then had to thread them together. Phew!

Writing in this way takes quite a bit more time than following a detailed outline. I generally cut anywhere from 20,000-50,000 words and have to rewrite and revise for months. But I think that because I don’t pre-plan, the story has more surprises than if I planned it all out. When I’m in the flow, the story goes in unpredicted ways. I hope that readers enjoy the unpredictability and surprises in the plot.

What are some writers or books that you felt inspired you and this series?

I was inspired by George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones. I know that may sound odd given that the H.A.L.F. series is young adult Sci-Fi—no dragons! But I read all five of the GoT series while writing book one (The Deep Beneath) and I was inspired to make the H.A.L.F. series into a more complex story. Most young adult books follow a single protagonist, often told in first person, and generally in a fairly linear fashion. I wanted to push the boundaries a bit and write a YA book with multiple storylines and point-of-view characters. This idea was in direction reaction to my love of G.R.R.M’s writing style.

I was also heavily inspired by Chris Carter’s work in the X-Files. I tried to emulate the creepy vibe of the X-Files as well as drawing out the mystery the way the X-Files did. You think the “bad guy” is one person, but it may turn out to be someone else—or something else—entirely. Readers of the H.A.L.F. series won’t know all of the answers to the many questions raised until the very end of the series! And I think they’ll be surprised by how it all turns out!

Author Links: GoodReads Twitter Facebook Website

H.A.L.F.: The Makers (H.A.L.F., #2)“The Makers” is the follow-up to Natalie Wright’s multiple award-winning debut science fiction novel “H.A.L.F.: The Deep Beneath.” “We’ve seen grey aliens on T.V. and in movies. We may think we know all about them. But what if everything we think we know is wrong?” Erika Holt dodged death and departed Earth in an alien ship. It wasn’t how she’d planned to spend her senior year. Is Erika on her way to paradise? Or to a hell worse than the underground lab she escaped? The greys rescued Tex from A.H.D.N.A. and promised him a life he could never have imagined. But what will he have to give up to become one with The Conexus? Jack Wilson is still Commander Sturgis’ prisoner, but a promise of freedom comes from an unlikely source. Will his liberation cost more than he’s willing to pay? Caught up in their personal battles and focused on our war with the grey aliens, will any of them realize the true threat that looms over us all before it’s too late? 

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Crazy Extremists’ Dream

Douglas Wells Author Interview

Douglas Wells Author Interview

The Secrets of all Secrets follows Zane who receives a USB from a stranger that contains a message that promises the Secret of All Secrets. What was the inspiration for the setup to this fun novel?

I wanted the premise of the story to be wacky and like a fairy tale with epistemological overtones. Many of us grew up with fairy tales of one sort or another, so the concept is recognizable. The USB is Jack’s bean stalk. Once it’s there, he has to climb it. The USB idea occurred to me because I use them in my work as a college professor. I wondered what would happen if all knowledge, the meaning of life, etc. were on one? The next question: What parties would want to pursue The Secrets and to what lengths will they go to get them?

In this story you combine irony with wry humor and manage to keep it all topical. What themes did you want to explore when you started this book?

The overarching theme is illustrated by Shakespeare’s line from The Tempest: “The stuff that dreams are made on,” which is what The Secrets represent. What would be the government’s dream for getting The Secrets? Probably something to do with gaining ultimate power. Corporate America’s dream? Wasn’t there someone who said there’s no such thing as making too much money? The two crazy extremists’ dream is to create an Anti-Amerika, “Amerika with a k.” That the representatives of these entities are comical bunglers illustrates the way in which human beings can wreck any mission. As for the two main characters, Zane and Dali—Everyman and Everywoman—the dream is more about self discovery. It’s a classic conflict: individuals versus institutions and malevolent factions. Jack versus the Giant.

Zane and Dali are both enthralling characters. How did you set about creating their dynamic relationship?

What’s kind of funny is that when I started the novel, there was no Dali. Once I got to the point in the story where Zane begins his quest, I knew he needed a partner, someone equally smart, resilient, and resourceful but with a different sensibility. Zane is an intellectual. Dali is more pragmatic. There is tension between them, but there’s also balance. “Two peas in a pod,” as is stated ironically early in the book. It doesn’t hurt that they are attracted to each from the start without admitting it to themselves.

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

I’m working on a satire of political correctness. I’m hoping to finish it and have it published in a year or two. Some of this is dictated by my teaching schedule, but if you know any publishers willing to give me a triple figure advance, I think I could work a little faster.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads

The Secrets of All Secrets by [Wells, Douglas]Zane, a seminary and grad school dropout, obtains a USB drive left by a cloaked figure on a bridge in the middle of the night. The drive’s content offers Zane “The Secrets of All Secrets”—a tantalizing proposal for someone who has nothing left to lose. 

Following the drive’s directions, Zane heads to Florida where he encounters Dali, a poor waitress who received an identical USB. Initially clashing, they band together, taking a chance that The Secrets are genuine as they receive more instructions from their USBs.

Four conflicted government operatives; an extremely tall corporate executive with an extremely short, scholarly hit man in tow; and two crackbrained, fringe-element, anti-government separatists are after The Secrets—and are all willing to kill to get them. 

Zane, Dali, and their pursuers encounter an armadillo festival, visit a nudist resort, and hang out with a presumed dead ’60s rocker. Pandemonium occurs at each venue with Zane and Dali one step ahead of everyone… that is, until all parties convene for a climactic confrontation over The Secrets.

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Just How Sordid

Tantra Bensko Author Interview

Tantra Bensko Author Interview

Remember To Recycle explores a twisted state of dystopian society run rampant with political tension and censorship as experienced through the eyes of a sordid slew of characters. How did you decide on the starting point for this novel and how did that help create the rest of the story?

Thank you for asking. I based the novel on current reality based on in-depth study of foreign policy and traditional patterns of involvement by intelligence agencies who use propaganda to skew public opinion toward a military agenda.

I began the book inspired by the guys who go through my recycling bins to take what they can sell; I made a recycler character who has a clever scheme to take what he learns about the people in the neighborhood that way. The idea made me chuckle, and I wanted to see what kind of goofy brilliance he might display. I also had often joked around with a housemate about the empty buildings across the street which are owned by the church. We’d see people go in and never come out. I was also inspired by our jokes about the counter-intuitive business choices of the local ice-cream truck driver. The truck indeed broadcasts the recording of a scolding woman’s voice, just like in the novel.

Though entertainment is the ultimate point of the book, my main serious goal with the book is to balance the propaganda about the White Helmets, though characters in the United States who had hear the stories about a group like them on the nightly news or watch the Hollywood movie about them.

This novel follows the introduction to Nancy and her relationship to the Agents of the Nevermind in book one, Glossolalia. Nancy has done sordid things in her past, but she was forced into it. In this book, she’s again given the chance to be a hero and make amends for her role in political intrigue, even if it means using the dirty skills she was raised with. Some methods are so dirty, she hardly even lets herself know just how sordid she can be. But like all the other POV characters, she has a good heart.

I chose the beginning scene because it was cinematic, with the dramatic contrast arising from Nancy relaxing at her unusual dwelling, chuckling at the anomalous sound of the ice-cream truck that never seem to make any sales. That prepares us for dark humor in the book. She’s being startled by the loud sound of a hard snowball smashing the glass of the window beside her head. She puts on her costume when she realizes someone outside might be looking at her, so we see how she’s been living “underground,” hoping no one recognizes her, in a somewhat primitive location, but someone mysteriously is communicating with her.

She finds a painted rock inside the snowball and the image reminds her of herself and her one friend, a lovely artist named Becky. Nancy has followed another such anonymous note to lead her to Becky in the past. So that beginning creates questions about the dynamics of some major characters, as it sets in motion Nancy’s sleuthing, and involves the reader in the mystery.

I remember the excitement of thinking of the snowball, with ice-cream and a rock inside, at the beginning. Most of the book was already written, but that image created a colorful motif that I went back and inserted through the novel. It was gratifying the way it drew a lot of elements together.

You’re able to weave together the intricate lives of a ragtag group of characters. What themes did you want to capture while creating your characters?

I focused on the theme of the heroism of examining and exposing social engineering, and the difficult choices, nobility and sacrifice that can entail.

I felt this story was very well written. What’s your experience as a writer?

I appreciate that. I’ve been writing all my life, as well as studying the form, not only for my benefit but for my students, as I teach fiction writing and edit manuscripts. I’ve explored a variety of genres; psychological suspense, which is the overarching category all the diverse books in the series fall into, fascinates me because of human psychology making propaganda and other forms of deception easy and bewildering, creating the need for answers. I love the feeling of figuring out the answers to such mysteries, such a rush, a shudder. It’s the perfect genre to dramatize the ability of intelligence agents working behind the scenes to gaslight the public. So, I read and watch movies and TV shows in that genre a lot, to understand what works best. I’m always studying more about fiction and screenwriting techniques. I learn as much from the screen as the page, and organize my books like movies.

This is book two in the Agents of Nevermind series. Where will book three take readers?

It continues the theme of the Agents who combine deception, mind control, blackmail, and occult practices. I’ve been including history about that intersection in the books, returning to certain historical figures such as John Dee and Edward Kelley, and their use of Enochian language as a spy code as well as an attempt at magick.

The novel is called Encore, and is Gothic. A highly-acclaimed performance troupe has a special requirement to make their shows work: the audience can’t be aware if any of the actors are replaced by a standby (similar to an understudy.) Their resident hypnotist, Dune, who is rumored to be an Agent of the Nevermind, accomplishes that by hypnotizing the standbys to believe they’re the actors they’re mimicking, and even coat their own auras with the residuals of their actors.

His wife is the star, but must leave the troupe due to cancer. Her standby and Dune have strong chemistry. He kidnaps her while she’s hypnotized to believe she’s his wife, and takes her to an alchemist’s castle. Underlying the story is the real history of a few powerful countries’ competing mythologies meant to gain supporters for them in wartime.

I hope this book will move readers to appreciate themselves for who they are.

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebookWebsite

What if the homeless men going through your recycling know more about your life than you do? Like who is going to die. One of the recyclers, Dave, wearing disguises he keeps under a bridge, memorizes the information in people’s bins. He, like many others, idolizes the Rescuers, a supposedly neutral, unarmed humanitarian aid group in a Balkanized country, as the possibility of WWIII looms. The Nevermind Agents lie on the evening news to garner support for proxy wars. They say the Rescuers are unarmed, neutral, and giving humanitarian aid to a Balkanized country. Their movie about them is a blockbuster. Rescuer costumes are the bit hit for Halloween. But it’s time to unmask them. And that requires a plan so ingenious, even the planner can’t know how it’s done. Living not far away from Dave’s bridge, Becky donates generously to the Rescuers, making her finances even more insecure. She doesn’t know what to think when she finds things in her apartment moved slightly. The toothbrush is wet. There’s a stain on the ironing board. The cat food is nearly gone. Is it her imagination? Is someone messing with her mind? Could it be Stan, breaking in because he loves her? He certainly loves putting her body into mysterious BDSM contortions for their videos. But what’s that muffled moan she hears in the background when she calls him on the phone? Becky hires her friend to spy on Stan. The woman has gone underground since escaping from the Nevermind; she wears a wig, and a mask meant for burn victims. She has traveled across the country to befriend Becky, taking a chance on an anonymous message recommending she do so, though she doesn’t yet know the reason.

A Thriller for Thinkers

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No Such Thing as a Free Lunch

Yuri Hamaganov Author Interview

Yuri Hamaganov Author Interview

GROND – The Raven High is a sci-fi book set in the future where pollution has caused giant storms across the planet. What was your inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?

I have a lot of inspiration sources, mostly the Golden Age Sci-Fi and the movie of the eighties, from the “Masking” of Henry Kuttner to Thing and Aliens. But most of all I was influenced by the old and almost forgotten Young Adult Sci-Fi – Earth Star Voyager. I saw it when I was at school, and loved much more than Star Wars. This should be a good sci-fi for teenagers – exciting, realistic, without superheroes, but with smart and courageous heroes. And it was Earth Star Voyager that I first saw the idea of a catastrophic climate change and the search for salvation in space. I was so pleased that I decided to create the same story. The same, but completely my own. No sooner said than done.
I recently reviewed Earth Star Voyager for the first time in twenty years. And he’s still good.

So, if you are looking for inspiration for a great space adventure – you are welcome.

Olga’s nanny is an android that I genuinely started to care for towards the end of the novel. What were the driving ideals behind the characters development throughout the story?

Creating Olga, I wanted to get rid of two obsessive stereotypes of teenage literature.

Firstly, the main character isn’t the despised loser or ordinary schoolgirl, who suddenly finds herself in the center of the universal conspiracy.

Secondly, Olga’s superhuman abilities don’t fall on her in one fine morning, free and without consequences. There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch in her world.

The image of Arina combines the features of an ideal mother and ideal teacher. She really loves Olga, so, when necessary, she can be very strict and demanding of her ward, otherwise, Olga won’t stand the load of enormous responsibility.

The story is set in a post-apocalyptic future where the Earth is ravaged by pollution. What were the morals you were trying to capture while creating your characters?

Morality is very simple – dreams and good intentions won’t change the world for the better. But the world can be changed for the better by persistent daily work. There are thousands of brave book heroes who save the world by simply believing in themselves and accomplishing a great feat in the battle against the system. Olga also saves the world, but in a completely different way – just goes on the next shift at her space plant. Day by day.

This story was written in Russian and translated to English. What were the challenges you faced when translating?

Most of the difficulties were caused by two things – compliance with the size of phrases and slang expressions, to which it is hard to make a direct translation.

The Raven High is book 1 in the GROND series. Where does book two take the story?

In fact, the GROND story begins with the second book, GROND: The Blitzkrieg. And at the beginning of this story, Olga will be forced to leave her orbital home, join the gang of space mercenaries and take part in the brutal war of the Martian colonists for independence. It’ll be cool!

Author Links: GoodReads | Amazon

Product Details

In the year 2086, Earth is exhausted. The seas have been emptied, the bedrock and soil stripped of their resources, and the superheated atmosphere churns with terrible storms. Those who can afford to do so live in the limbo of virtual reality, and the billions who suffer in poverty have no work, no clean water, and no security from the chaos.

The only hope for those trapped on a dying Earth are the Changed—the seven bioengineered post-humans who work in their separate manufacturing facilities orbiting high above the planet. Raised from birth for their work and fully matured at ten years old, their genius provides the nanomaterials that have begun to cleanse Earth of the pollutants that have wiped out almost the entire ecosphere.

But for Olga Voronov, youngest of the Changed, the isolation and endless toil are not the greatest of her challenges. Down on Earth there are those who resent and fear her talents—and would prefer that humanity not be given the second chance that only she could make possible …

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The Secrets of All Secrets

The Secrets of All Secrets

Douglas Wells’, debut novel, The Secrets of all Secrets begins with a mysterious stranger, who issues a fateful quest. The reader follows Zane, a graduate school and seminary drop-out, who receives a USB from the stranger. The USB contains a message that promises the Secret of All Secrets and he is pressed to go find out how far the rabbit hole goes. He soon meets a waitress at a diner, named Dali, who received a similar USB. They initially butt heads, but they soon come together to figure out the mystery. They are dogged at every step by four conflicted government agents, who pursue them to the very end.

Wells combines smart, informed prose with fun, engaging dialogue to create an interesting story that hails the modern quest narrative, but also the old-fashioned road narrative calling to mind Jack Kerouac and others of that generation. There are plenty of moments where Zane calls back to his graduate school education with references to Pascal and Tolstoy, which do become a bit pandering to a point, but soon get lost in the action that ensues.

Zane and Dali are both enthralling characters, where Wells’ skill shines through and even shows up among the government agents who serve as the bulk of antagonism in the novel. The decent character portrayal also smoothes over the often-sparse description and scene setting that would normally keep the reader engaged, but the characters are able to do this on their own. The ideological lines that all the characters have seem to be commentary on our day to day lives, from government drones to Zane’s cynicism.

The setting of Northern Florida was an interesting choice and provides a unique setting rich in regional idiosyncrasies as well as clashing rural and coastal tendencies. Zane and Dali adventures are increasingly crazy and fit in with this setting choice. They venture into an armadillo festival, nudist resort and even find a presumed dead 60’s rocker. All of this combines to be a sort of satire of American politics and greed.

All in all, The Secrets of all Secrets will keep the reader’s attention until the very end with its light-hearted prose and topical social commentary. Wells blends the ironic with wry humor and never misses a point to push the absurdity of his tale a little farther, as if encouraging the reader to do the same.

Pages: 224 | ASIN: B07147R17F

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Remember to Recycle

Remember to Recycle: Psychological Suspense (The Agents of the Nevermind Book 2)

Remember To Recycle explores a twisted state of dystopian society run rampant with political tension and censorship, as experienced through the eyes of a sordid slew of characters, each crafted to be as unique as they are controversial. Author Tantra Bensko unapologetically invites readers into the thick and gritty atmosphere of this nefarious nation on the brink of war. As seedy government organizations work through mass media to manipulate the opinions of the general public, three oddball outcasts must struggle to uncover their own personal truths, regardless of how dark and uncomfortable that truth may be.

There is an oddity and nuance to the style in which Bensko develops the story, weaving the intricate and disharmonious lives of the ragtag crew together. The characters are so individually strange, perplexing me at times to debate whose personal version of the truth I should put my stock into. What they lack in relatability, they more than make up for in personality. For instance, there is little for me to relate to in a neurotic homeless man suffering from a multiple personality disorder, but nevertheless, I found myself rushing to reach his chapters, drinking in the off-the-cuff humor and casual profanity of his perspective. Each character in the disjointed trio is unique and realized to the point of feeling authentic, boasting a well-rounded checklist of endearing qualities as well as anxieties and vices – certainly enough to make you love or hate them, respectively.

Although the modern literature lover in me appreciates the quirky and informal tone of Bensko’s writing, I do have to admit that I struggled a bit with the sporadic pace. The narrative voices are wildly different between each character, and on occasion, the sudden shift felt so abrupt that it confused me for just a moment. Bensko lovingly lingers in the details of certain interactions for quite some time, while briskly splicing other important moments into the middle of a quick paragraph. The revolving narrative among the trio is certainly a testament to Bensko’s strength in voices, but it didn’t make for the quickest read. Still a charming one though!

I felt a bit sheepish upon realizing that Remember to Recycle is actually the second installment in the Agents of the Nevermind series. Whoops! I suppose that’s always one tell of a good book though – if it can stand alone within a larger collection. Without knowing any of the events from the previous title, readers are still able to quickly grasp the tone and plot of this work, even within the steep setting of an economic fallout. Benkso poured such a generous amount of attention into the thoughts and motives of the characters, which served well to support this work standing on its own.

Overall, this was an undeniably interesting read, although the density of the political theme felt a bit heavy to me at times. I’d recommend it to readers with interests in the dystopian and psychological horror tropes, that also have an appreciation for quirky writing styles.

Pages: 285 | ASIN: B06XY4CF1S

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