Quality Jones possesses more unique qualities than just her name. She is, by all rights, a time-traveling phenomenon and an exceptionally strong and resourceful young woman. The target of regular biases and racism, she bounces back quickly and never allows society’s ills to affect her. She is, quite literally, one in a million. When a chance meeting with a ridiculously unsuccessful bank robber places Quality in front of law enforcement and accused of the crime herself, everything she believed she knew about the battle of good versus evil is put to the test. Quality might be an experienced time-traveler, but she is about to face her biggest challenge to date.
The Modern Aztec’s Guide to Dating and Time Travel: A Quality Jones Book, by Ulises Silva, is a real rollercoaster ride of science fiction-meets-comedic timing. The story’s main character is, by and large, the straight man in this unique blend of time travel and satire. Quality Jones is always ready with a retort that cuts deep. Her frustration with the Sevastian’s inadequacies is beyond obvious and the eye-rolling responses she gives to his ridiculous decisions are palpable to readers.
If I had to place Silva’s work in a genre, I am not too sure I would choose science fiction as its primary category. Cover to cover, Silva provides readers with satirical elements that keep readers on their toes. The author addresses current events in a way readers in 2020 easily recognize and with which they will quickly relate. From the names of stores and banks to the references regarding the lack of social distancing, Silva hits on every conceivable social convention.
Each and every character Quality Jones encounters brings to mind those of comic books. They are bigger than life, have dialogue that is a fantastic blend of humor, satire, and science fiction terms and offer stunning visuals for readers. Quality Jones herself is a stand-out main character who begs to be recognized for the way she calmly handles the chaos surrounding her.
I am giving The Modern Aztec’s Guide to Dating and Time Travel: A Quality Jones Book, by Ulises Silva, 4 out of 5 stars. Readers who relish humor in conjunction with their science fiction plots will be able to instantly sink their teeth into Silva’s work. For those who seek satire and an occasional break from overly-technical science fiction work, Silva’s work will be a wonderful treat.
Pages: 527 | ASIN: B08N5BSZBJ
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Sleepeth Not, the Bastard is a fascinating and thought-provoking look at suicide and how it affects the people around the tragedy. Why was this an important book for you to write?
While I myself have had no direct experiences with suicide, I’ve been around many people who have, and have also been stuck in situations surrounded by people who literally teetered on the edge of themselves with staying alive being on one side of that edge, and ending it all being on the other. It’s a sticky subject to talk about because so many people have a fixed concept in their minds that suicide is always, always, ALWAYS a bad thing. I’ve often questioned it myself, the idea of what it would be like to kill myself (albeit not seriously, just what the scenario would be and why and what would happen after the fact). I suppose it may be strange to think that yes, there can be reasons for one to want to end themselves. After all, we aren’t asked to be born, why can’t we have the freedom to decide when enough is enough? Then again, that’s not exactly the motive behind the suicide factor in this book. It’s become a wonder to me why so many people see victims of suicide as being selfish or even cowardly when it feels as though those left behind couldn’t possibly make that call themselves. To end one’s own life, depending on the circumstances of course, may be the most brave thing someone can do. I wanted to explore that with this book, because when Josh does take the leap, he puts into motion a train wreck that can’t, but also SHOULDN’T be stopped.
Your characters are always well thought out and often go through dramatic transformations throughout the story. What is your writing process like in developing your characters?
Generally, especially as of late, I can’t plan out from the start where my characters will end up by the end of the story. Most of the time I just start writing, and sometimes something in the background or from my memories will inspire me to expand upon said idea. The characters, as with all if not most writers out there, all have a little part of me in them. Sometimes characters turn into what I wish I could be. Sometimes they exist in a world in which I wish I existed, and so on. With “Sleepeth Not, the Bastard”, the characters just sort of came out of me; the dialogue, the exposition, the plot surrounding their actions and influencing their motives. I can’t describe it as well as I’d like. Maybe, if anything, I take the worst of me and put it into the story hoping the characters can figure out for themselves what would be the best course of action.
I understand that you work in the service industry and often travel from state to state. How has your work helped you write your books?
Travel has had a huge influence on my writing. Constantly being in a state of motion is more or less the cheapest drug I’ve ever been able to get my hands on, but with it also comes a slew of emotions. Being away from the people I love, not being able to feel the comfort of my own bed, things like that have a heavy effect on what goes on the page. Meeting people everywhere I go aids significantly in fueling the personalities and behaviors of my characters. As nasty as my job can get, even with the worst days I’ve had while on the clock, being on the road is more than enough to make up for it.
Your stories often cover a wide range of themes in many different genres. What is one genre or theme that you haven’t yet touched but want to write about?
I’ve dabbled in science fiction and fantasy in the way WAY past but don’t think I’ll ever go back, but that could change. I’ve considered tackling psychological horror, sort of in the vein of Edgar Allen Poe and Eli Roth, but there’s very little in the works in that department. Sometimes I’ll watch a horror movie and think, wow… I could definitely write something like that, and it’d be fun and terrifying. But then I get stuck on my other writing, my contemporary fiction kick that I’ve been on for a while. Who knows? After the book I’m currently working on, I might make a go at something completely different.
“The gravity of fate is nothing in comparison to the fleeting warmth of a loved one’s last kiss…”
….thus reads the final words of High School Senior Joshua Feranna.
Several years later, Lew, his father, currently working for a faceless loan shark, has dipped into a drug and lust-filled method of cope. Separated but not divorced, his wife Autumn finally tracks Lew down, begging him to come home to help take care of their identity-in-crisis daughter Zoey.
But when Lew’s friend from high school, Sarah Fox, having lived the life of a drummer in the all-but extinct rock band “The Bastards” returns to town stalked by a rumored “Resurrection Tour”, Lew’s world truly becomes a thing of legend….and doubt.
What transpires from then on is a continuing snowball effect that will inevitably lead to the cataclysmic destruction of one family and others as the world continues to busy itself around them in seamless melancholy.
“Sleepeth Not, the Bastard” is a story about people, each one steadily climbing towards a foreseeable yet undeniable end. Each person influencing the other in one massive string of events escalating and culminating at the end of their respective worlds whether those worlds be of mental, emotional, psychological, or delusional origin.
Part drama, part dark comedy, part rock ‘n roll epic, with a copious and perhaps endless helping of sex, drugs, and infamy… “Sleepeth Not, the Bastard” is a romp for this generation, an homage to those that came before, and a warning for those that follow.
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Shackled Scribes is a fantasy piece that takes place in a world powered by runes and those that carve them for the worm rulers in power. The story opens with Cyesko, an interesting character. He strives to be a respected rune scribe, partly due to his addiction to Ichor, a golden liquid that he receives as payment for his runes. He is a bird-like creature who has spent most of his life being a weak rune scribe, but that all changes when he runs into Tialina, a female bird creature who is naturally gifted in rune scribing. When he takes part of a rune she created, it sends him on a new path of stronger rune creation. However, those new runes bring new problems.
Soon, he begins to wonder who this woman was and how she became so powerful, as well as some truths that change how he sees the world around him. Meanwhile, Tialina has discovered the consequences of using rune power so often, and begins to look for a solution that might change the world.
The strength of this story lies in its world. It is unique in almost every respect, and the characters respond and react as one would expect under those circumstances. It is also a world that is well-defined. There were not many times when this reader ever felt lost or confused by the introduction of a new mechanic or function in the world. The details are revealed in such a fashion that makes the reader desire more, and gives enough of those details in a timely pace that also keeps the reader satisfied.
The plot is entertaining and straightforward. There is not a lot hiding in the details of the story, and some readers might find the actual conflicts to be a bit generic, despite the rich and unique setting. Regardless, the story moves quickly and the reader will be anxious to find out how these characters progress through the troubles where they find themselves.
Overall, the story is well worth the read. Some of the ideas are very far-fetched, but that creativity makes the reading interesting. If you can deal with ideas that aren’t much like any of the traditional magic we find in contemporary fantasy, then this will be a book for you. It is a unique setting with interesting characters. I hope that there will be more adventures in this realm.
Pages: 195 | ASIN: B01KDG6OKA
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Mervyn vs. Dennis is one of the funnest books I’ve read this year. Mervyn struggles with keeping his strange and intrusive boss out of his personal life. What was the inspiration for the relationship between Mervyn and Dennis?
Most of us have made a friend that we later regretted. I wanted to take that idea to its furthest extreme. Likewise, unless you’ve never worked or been extremely lucky, you’ve probably had a boss who made your life a living hell. Both of these situations are familiar comedy tropes but I wanted to combine them into something fresh. In both personality and outlook, Mervyn and Dennis couldn’t be more different. Mervyn is liberal and open-minded whereas Dennis is bigoted and mean-spirited. I wanted to explore whether two such disparate men could ever reconcile their differences or if they’d clash until the bitter end. During the writing process, this was something I was careful not to over-plan. I had some ideas of how their relationship would end up but I wanted it to evolve organically just like a real friendship or enmity.
What I liked about this story is that Mervyn is just trying to make it through life like many people. When you were building Mervyn’s character and background what was one thing you hoped came through in the end?
I wanted Mervyn to be likable, despite his flaws. Mervyn is extremely skilled at getting himself into embarrassing situations but I always wanted the reader to be on his side. Although he has moments of irrationality, I was careful to make his actions believable. Whether he makes the right choices is up to the reader but I wanted those choices to make sense, no matter how poor they might be. Mervyn has roots in picaresque fiction, British comic literature and modern sitcoms. He’s slightly too unhinged to be an everyman character but hopefully he’s relatable enough for the reader to become invested in his story. Comic novels, by their nature, tend to have eccentric characters. Sometimes this results in shallow personalities and caricatures but I wanted all the characters in my book to have believability and depth, especially Mervyn himself.
When Mervyn firsts meets Dennis he pretends to be racist so they can connect. Why did you choose that as the catalyst that propels their relationship?
Mervyn pretending to be racist is set up as a joke but nearly every event in the story is caused by that initial lie. Dennis is emboldened by Mervyn’s faux racism, showing how even a careless racist joke can cause a butterfly effect. Likewise, when Mervyn brings a swastika mug to work in an attempt to shock, it inspires Dennis to do something even more extreme. Although the novel is primarily a comedy, I wanted to explore the causes and consequences of prejudice. Alongside this, however, I was careful to avoid having a didactic message. It’s fairly common knowledge that racism sucks. People do need reminding sometimes but they don’t need it spelled out. What interested me most were the roots of Dennis’s hatred and the depths of his denial. In the wake of Brexit in the UK and the shadow of Trump in the US, racism is unfortunately topical right now, and there’s never been a more crucial time, in my life at least, to take a stand against it.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will that be published?
I’m currently rewriting three of my earlier novels. First off, there’s Grand Theft Octo, another comedy. It’s more satirical than Mervyn vs. Dennis, with less overt social commentary. It’s the story of Jonathan Doe, an entrepreneur of businesses the world has never seen including freelance taxidermy and (you better believe it) octopus teasing. Originally a 140,000 word epic, I’m on target to trim it by at least half. Next up, there’s The Papyrus Empire and its sequel The Black King. They’re dark thrillers that kick off a series about a global secret society. I’m hoping to have Grand Theft Octo ready in the next few months with The Papyrus Empire to follow. To keep up to date, please join my mailing list.
Deep in debt, Mervyn Kirby gets a job he doesn’t want by pretending to be racist. His new boss Dennis Lane thinks he’s found a kindred spirit. When Mervyn confesses he’s not really racist, Dennis thinks it’s just part of the act. Day by day, to Mervyn’s horror, Dennis worms his way into Mervyn’s private life. Despite his fears, Mervyn is torn: his new job pays well but he despises Dennis and everything he stands for. How far will Mervyn go to free himself? How far will Dennis go to become friends? Will they settle their differences or end up killing each other? And why are so many shifty people carrying pineapples around town?
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Mervyn vs. Dennis tells the story of Mervyn Kirby dealing with his crisis of a life. The story begins with Mervyn going into an interview to be a video game tester. A job that Mervyn is not interested in nor good at, but he desperately needs. When he finds out his boss is racist he pretends to be as well so that he will get hired. Dennis finds Mervyn to be a kindred spirit so he hires Mervyn. Dennis is disliked by many of the employees and doesn’t have many friends, but he doesn’t care. All he cares about is Mervyn. Things get out of hand when Mervyn tries to keep his distance and Dennis keeps pushing their friendship further. Dennis shows up everywhere Mervyn is, invites him for dinners and to his house. Mervyn realizes that Dennis has a secret. Determined to find out what it is, Mervyn discovers something horrifying and unbelievable.
Mervyn Kirby is smart, determined, and willing to take risks. He has no experience in his job but he takes it anyway. Dennis Lane is weird, funny, and understanding. The story reveals that not everyone is as they seem. Everyone fights their own devils and just because you think you know someone doesn’t mean you know what’s going on in their head. Dennis has a dark side that he hides from people very well.
I enjoyed the setting of this contemporary story. It was easy to immerse myself in the world because it’s delivered effortlessly. The humor is sharp and unexpected, even making me literally laugh out loud at times. The interactions between Dennis and Mervyn are something I always looked forward to when I picked the novel up to continue reading. And really it’s Mervyn’s interactions with everyone in the story that is entertaining; like with the CEO, with his first date, with his brother and his friend, and his colleagues. The reason why I liked this story so much was because it was believable. The struggles that Mervyn faced is much like the struggles we all face; a job he dislikes, trying to make ends meet, first date crisis, fussy boss, and family problems. The story is easy to connect to; however, I found that there was an overabundance of description rather than dialogue. Nonetheless, the mystery and the suspense of who the actual Dennis Lane is kept me going. I love a good mystery and this book has it all. The ending was spot on and will someone please tell me why everyone is carrying a pineapple.
Pages: 253 | ASIN: B01I1TAID0
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This fantasy novel is bursting at the seams with an intricate world waiting to be discovered, not only by the reader, but also by the main character, Asher. He is a college student in a world that appears to be similar to the Earth we know and love, but he is also an immortal. He uses his power to help people with their issues for small fees. This earns him enough money to survive, but it also earns him some powerful enemies and sends him on a trip to learn about his past and parentage.
In the Fae Realm, Asher gets caught up between two feuding noble houses, Summer Court and Winter Court. While he is there to meet his mother, the inhabitants of the realm look to exact some favors from Asher before his quest can reach its end. Will his immortality prove to be a blessing, or will he come to think of it more of a “curse of the deathless”? What will he discover about his birth and will the evil organizations of his home planet come for him?
This novel is gritty, funny, and entertaining. The narration is mostly in third person, although Asher will interject his thoughts directly to the reader whenever he deems necessary. For example, while trying to survive what would otherwise be a fatal sword blow, he thinks “Note to self: Lungs and swords don’t play nice together”.
However, there are some pitfalls that come with a fantasy novel of this scope. The author has created a universe that is seemingly vast and full of magic creatures and objects, of which the reader and the protagonist know very little. Because of this, it gives the reader difficulty when it comes to finding out what is going to happen next. I felt that issues were resolved by seemingly random events which then spawned the next set of events. The plot points come across as if they were written for a video game, as there are checkpoints to be met before the story can progress. For example, Asher has to gain favor with the rest of the family members before his step-sister will let him meet his mother.
If you can ignore these minor issues then you will find an entertaining adventure story in a world that is rich and worthwhile. The universe has plenty of depth, lore, and legend for any fantasy fan. The narration is spectacular despite a couple of minor grammatical mistakes. The characters are fun, and the dialogue is original although parts of the story may be a bit cliché. I’m not sure how nearly every woman in the story came to be so attractive, but there it is.
Overall, this story is quite the undertaking, and I can’t wait for a sequel, which the author seems ready to deliver.
Pages: 319 | ASIN: B01F0ING16
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