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Soul Dark: Chosen

Lukas is unlike any other boy. Not a boy but not yet a man, Lukas has been hit with more loss, more trauma, and more inexplicable realizations than most adults experience in their lifetimes. When his grandmother takes him under her wing and begins to train him, Lukas is inundated by her pleas to not forsake the Goddess. Lukas, overcome with the pain of the loss of his parents, the tragic eradication of almost everyone else he loves, and left alone in the world with a new acquaintance, turns his head again and again from his Goddess, defying his grandmother’s wishes and, possibly, putting much more than his own life at risk.

E.L. Reedy and A.M. Wade present a most unique set of characters in  their young adult fantasy, Soul Dark: Chosen. Lukas, the book’s protagonist, is almost overshadowed by the authors’ vivid descriptions and fantastic choice of dialect and idiosyncrasies given the secondary characters. Jacob is a standout in my book. For as meek and mild as the authors initially portray him, he shines like a light from the pages, and he easily steals each scene from the other characters.

As a reader, I more than appreciate a story with numerous twists. Though not a huge nor especially unforeseen twist, I was glad to see the integration of the “knowing” character with introduction of Matthew. Those types of hidden gems in a story make all the difference; Reedy and Wade have this technique down to an art in this book.

One of the more gripping scenes in the book is the moment Lukas meets the old man, Theo Deville. The authors paint a stunning scene when the two lock eyes. Their dynamic is imperative to the success of the overall story line, and it is within this moment in the book that the authors set that tone. I found myself rereading that section more than once.

I found the breaks away from Lukas’s own dramatic situations between the chapters to be quite effective. By taking readers, if momentarily, to another realm, Reedy and Wade are able to keep the momentum of the plot and continue to build interest as the story plays out. These brief interludes serve as important reminders to readers that Lukas is not yet out of the woods, and his true test is always just around the next corner.

I don’t doubt that someone else will make this comparison, but I feel Soul Dark: Chosen can be likened to a modern-day The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The underlying theme of faithfulness, loyalty, and good versus evil are apparent from beginning to end. A strong cast of characters who all rely on one another and are driven closer and closer together through shared traumas is not a new concept, but it is one that Reedy and Wade seem to have given new life.

Not many authors can successfully combine modern day settings with those of ancient times to bring to life a book filled with both action and humor. Reedy and Wade have more than accomplished that task.  I highly recommend Soul Dark: Chosen to any reader interested in young adult fantasy and looking for a book with a well-placed and strong  theme of faith.

Pages: 246 | ASIN: B07P2L6655

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The Money Trail

The Money Trail (The Sean Kruger Series Book 5) by [Fields, J.C.]

The Money Trail is another excellent edition to and Sean Kruger series. Once again we meet Sean Kruger and his band of intriguing friends. It’s obvious that Fields cares about his characters as the development of core characters that have been present throughout the series is extremely well done. There’s just enough action to get your heart pumping and just enough drama to have you on the edge of your seat.

It takes skill to keep readers coming back again and again to read about the same characters in slightly similar situations. It can get redundant and boring when executed poorly. That is not what readers will find in this book. Lovers of the Sean Kruger Series will only find more of what they’ve come to love and expect out of Fields. His characters are well developed, the action and drama are paced well and the twists and turns will have readers guessing with just the right amount of bait. It’s hard to put down a book in the Kruger series once you’ve picked it up and The Money Trail is no exception.

Fields has been writing these books for nearly five years. That’s a long time to keep characters straight and ensure that you don’t have them acting out of turn. Clearly Fields has a method to his madness as every book further develops the characters personalities and honors their growth from installment to installment. His books have won awards and are sure to influence a generation of readers. High praise for someone who began as an Indie writer making a break on their own.

Reading an installment of the Sean Kruger Series can be bitter-sweet. There is the thrill of the read: finding out what Kruger is up to now, where he will go and who he will bring with him. But there is also the disappointment when it ends because you simply want more. The Money Trail by J.C. Fields brings out that feeling effortlessly. It’s such an engaging read that is engrossing and fun. This book is an excellent installment in the series and I can’t wait for the next thrilling drama he gets caught up in.

Pages: 349 | ASIN: B07MTMCCDQ

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Gardening with Guns: A Memoir

Gardening with Guns: A Memoir by [Wootton, AJ]

GARDENING WITH GUNS by AJ WOOTTON is a memoir which delves into the relationship between the author’s rocky childhood and her present-day struggles. We meet Amber as she gets a great job and goes on vacation with her family. Things take a quick turn for the worse when Amber’s beloved father’s body is found–suicide. While dealing with this significant blow, Amber ponders traumas from her childhood, compares her relationships with her absent father and abusive stepfather, and parses out her many tumultuous relationships—all while wondering if her past might dictate her future, knowing that her spousal relationship is also on the rocks.

Although this is billed as a memoir, I’d say it reads more as a memoir-within-a-memoir, with the loose threads of the current day events—the death of a family member, followed by the arrangements for the funeral and resulting small family dramas—connecting the real meat of this book: the author’s deep dive into scenes from her childhood, some of which have had effects on her she has yet to realize. The prose reads like a stream of consciousness, which is sometimes an asset: it does make you feel like you are sitting inside the author’s head, listening to her own thoughts as she notices details and pulls apart her memories. The book does a good job of delving into the complexity of dark human drama—divorce, infidelity, suicide, abuse—while giving front stage to the inner motivations which drive our actions. The first few chapters feel like a cozy memoir, as the author chummily guides you through interviews and family vacations as one would a close friend. While some of her stories tend to ramble a bit, the author provides such detail in her work that it is impossible to get lost amidst the narratives. The importance of every scene included may be questionable, as it occasionally veers into redundancy; and the timelines can be confusing, as in at least one case we learn to live with a character and then, later on in the narrative, “meet” him. However, it falls together as a deeply-felt memoir; it is impossible to read this without feeling one knows the author extremely intimately. As the author weaves through her life as an abused child, an entrepreneurial tween, a self-conscious teenager and beyond, it’s clear that the heart of the story is the author’s relationships: those with her father, step-father, mother, siblings, friends, husband, and, ultimately, herself.

Pages: 386 | ASIN: B07KT98NQR

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Spiral into Darkness – Trailer

He blends in. He is successful, intelligent and methodical. There are no clues. There are no leads. The only thing the FBI and local police have to go on is the method of death: two bullets to the face- gruesome and meant to send a message. But it’s difficult to understand any message coming from a dark and damaged mind. Two adopted boys, struggling in their own world, have no idea they are the next targets. Neither does their family. And neither does local law enforcement.

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Damnation

Damnation: A Grimdark Fantasy Political Drama by [Valec, Igor]

I immediately liked Asuf the moment I started reading the book. On their hunting spree with Valhelm, the latter confessed how scared he was to hunt. He mentioned that he had heard stories, unpleasant of course and that something could be lurking around the part of the caverns the two were hunting. Asuf shut his partner down, Saying that whatever Valhelm was on was weakness and unacceptable. I like bold characters in books; Characters like Asuf, who are not frightened by minute issues. Though a little bit aggressive, I admired how Asuf demanded respect. He instilled a little fear in Valhelm when speaking, in that Valhelm felt inferior in his presence.

The book gets to be more interesting as one reads on. I like how the society in Igor Valec’s book held authority in high regard. A subject could not address the king in any manner. They had to use the appropriate title when speaking to those at the throne. One could also tell the mood and tone of the subjects Vis a Vis the king.

King Lortar’s reaction to discovering that there was a heathen cult in the kingdom was priceless. How and where was that? I appreciated Valhelm for informing Lortar about this cult. As they were speaking, one could feel Lortar’s concern in his words. He was worried that Valhelm had gone on his own to do the hunting. I enjoyed the conversation that followed as everyone was given a chance to air their views.

Damnation: A Grimdark Fantasy Political Drama is not your average book. Through the story, the author incorporated themes of leadership, family relations, and infighting among members of the same society, politics, and fantasy. Every chapter built on the story and tension of the last chapter, so as you read you always felt like something was about to happen.

Igor Valec’s character choice was marvelous. Looking at how the characters were distributed across the book, I have to admit that the author took his time to select which traits to give who. Hirr Valhelm remained my favorite character. Other characters I found interesting include Vost Kon Schmitt, Wiktor Kon Oydrich and Lady Eidi Kon Huss and of course King Lortar. I found the kingdom’s way of dealing with criminals and those who went against the king intriguing.

I recommend this book to everyone who enjoys a good story. The characters in the book are fascinating. The plot is superb and the writing style is amazing. I loved every page of Damnation. The book is action-packed, with suspense, adventure, drama, twists, and turns.

The book is fairly long, at 600+ pages, but this story does not feel overwhelming. I felt that opposite actually, the ending leaves you on a cliffhanger and I wanted more. This leaves the book open for a followup book to start, what could be, a fantasy series with a deep backstory and dynamic characters.

Pages: 644 | ASIN: B07HVHVDDY

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Apex Five: The Plane

Apex Five: The Plane, Book One by [Katz, Sarah]

Apex Five: The Plane, is a science fiction novel that details life on another plane of existence. We are given a very brief history of this world in the prologue, and then in Chapter 1 we find the story propelled forward about 12,000 years from a life altering event known as The Storm.

The first character we are introduced to is Nasin, and the story immediately takes a rather political turn. Nasin was sent to Tabir to try and secure a sort of trade deal between her own nation of Lir and the people of Tabir. The story and dialogue are well written, but I couldn’t help but feel that it was rather dry reading from the onset and it had a hard time keeping my attention. However, once we are introduced to Hazard 14, the story becomes a lot more intriguing.

The character Hazard 14, whose real name is Rohem, is absolutely fascinating. I think the author did a great job of describing his physical differences (anomalies?) from other people; the scene where he is being examined by the doctor in Lir was a great way to introduce the reader to his unusual abilities. From this point forward, it’s hard to put the book down. It’s clear from the beginning that the Tabirians think that Rohem is a dangerous criminal, while Nasin sees a vulnerable little boy who needs protection. The distinct differences between the Tabir and Lir nationalities really become apparent through their treatment of Rohem. I really loved how the author brought these things to light through his character, rather than in a more direct way.

I always think it’s a little bit difficult to get acquainted with characters in a science fiction novel of this type; where all the races and customs are new to the reader. As well as some of the names being a little difficult to pronounce. However, overall the author did a good job of creating dialogue between the characters that explains the characteristics and histories of the races while still seeming like natural conversation. A lot of times this type of description can seem forced and pretentious but I did not think that it came across that way in Apex Five.

I also found the imagery in the book to be really great. I could envision the different terrains; the dunes of Lir, the industrial feel of Tabir, the rainforests of the Ayam. The evolution of all the different groups of people, from the The Storm forward, is a very believable progression and also written really well. It’s clear that while their relationships with one another are largely diplomatic, there are undertones of distrust. For instance, when Nasin is in Tabir she is asked if they’ve (the Lir) succeeded in making any weaponry, to which she fibs and tells them they have not. The reader is quickly privy to the fact that something is culminating between the different races that is soon going to come to a head. This suspense definitely keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall, I ended up enjoying the story thoroughly and wouldn’t hesitate to pick up any other book by this author.

Pages: 338 | ASIN: B07BRCRD8V

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House of Pain

House of Pain (The Forsaken Ones Book 1) by [Holm, Denna]House of Pain, by Denna Holm, is a dark, provocative and devilish book that will leave you lusting for more!  The novel opens with a brother and sister cowering before a terrifying demon to whom they have made a promise. They must deliver on this promise or spend eternity kept alive simply to be tortured by this diabolical creature. Their promise comes in the form of the beautiful Magdalena, Maggie, who is half human/half demon. Although raised in a whorehouse she is our lovely virgin full of kindness but also the ability to suck life from people through sex! Holms paints a grim story of the future and it is not one of hope but one in which humans and nature have destroyed the Earth and demons can enter the planet and are on the cusp of entering to stay.

This is a dreary story in many ways, due to the state of the world in which it is set and the predicament of many of the characters but also ends up being very much a love story. Yes, there are erotic scenes and themes, but this story is truly about the endurance of family and the strength of love. It is slightly odd to write that about a book which includes incubus’s and succubus’s, a whorehouse full of debauchery and more but it is truly fitting in this first novel in what seems will be a series. I can definitely see future challenges arising for our main characters as well as the possibility of the portal re-opening. Demons are quite clever, after all!

I was impressed with the originality of this story. I love when authors create truly original story lines. It felt like this was a story in which the author was truly enmeshed. I want to know how she got the idea for this story. It was so uniquely creative and unlike any other fantasy story I’ve come across.

As stated earlier, there are some adult scenes, which are done respectfully but not appropriate for people under 17. I loved Holm’s writing style. It was dripping with tension, drama, romance, and a dark-side that I truly found intriguing. Her story did not drag on, the scenes moved quickly, and I did not want to put it down. I found it quite easy and fun to read! Be certain you are one who is down for some macabre, some romance and some sexiness in this fantasy fiction novel.

Pages: 335 | ASIN: B07HLP7QN1

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Drop the Hustle – Trailer

Hustling is a means of survival in London Bentley’s world and unknowingly she finds her self ensnared in it’s grips. London’s over trusting nature will have readers shaking their heads in disbelief. Consequently, her desire to please others will undoubtedly be her demise. London will nearly loose her mind trying to unravel from her mother who is a masterful marionette, her man who is a monster and her god who is make believe. The hustle will be exposed and she will find out the truth about everyone including herself and God. Ultimately, at death’s door London will have to decide if she will out hustle or drop the hustle.

Available January 2019

www.DropTheHustle.com

 

American River: Currents

American River: Currents: Book Two of the American River Trilogy by [O'Connor, Mallory M.]

Kate’s family has just survived the devastating loss of her brother, Julian, and she is learning that her father’s coldness toward her beloved brother could have taken a much different turn had fate not intervened. As a new mother, Kate faces many challenges. One of those challenges is finding an effective and appropriate way to handle the affection she receives from Stefan, her husband’s friend and her sister’s true love. While Kate is facing one obstacle after another as a young mother, Tommy is reeling from the loss of his mother and coping with his fiance’s mysterious illness. Not to be left out of the cast of characters meeting life head-on, Marian is learning to love herself again with the help of a much younger and virile man named Nick.

Mallory M. O’Connor’s characters are a force with which to be reckoned in American River: Currents. O’Connor has created one of the most unique blends of historical fiction and the soap operas of the 80s. This lengthy novel features three families, ethnically diverse and intertwined in each other’s lives–in some cases, too much so. The bounce back and forth between chapters gives the entire book the comfortable feel of watching episodes of a well-established soap opera.

O’Connor has, without a doubt, done the research and created amazingly accurate and detailed accounts of historical events. Each of these events is not just described but somehow affects the characters day-to-day lives. From Cesar Chavez to John F. Kennedy, she has succeeded in further bringing life to her characters by having them live through gripping and history-making events.

As O’Connor’s chapters tend to vary from one family to the next, I found that I looked most forward to those focusing on Marian and Nick. To say the two are interesting would be putting it mildly. In an otherwise heavy book, Marian and Nick’s dynamic provides much-appreciated lighthearted moments and a breather from the drama of the other family members. Marian, not without her own faults, is my favorite character. Being one of the older characters in O’Connor’s work, she is struggling to make her way as an artist and is learning to love herself again and finding that trust is something she just might be able to feel once more. Nick is just the remedy for what ails her.

I couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming amount of sadness at the relationship between Alex and Stefan. I see Alex as a strong woman who is, when it comes to personal relationships, weak and needy. The manner in which she pursues Stefan is almost pitiful. She is an interesting character indeed.

It seems like such an obvious thing to note, but I love the way O’Connor ends each chapter. Not every author currently producing books brings chapters to a nice, succinct close. O’Connor provides closure and never leaves reader hanging or feeling as if they have hit a brick wall when the new chapter quickly takes a new direction.

American River: Currents is beautifully written and consists primarily of long strings of dialogue between well-developed and easy to visualize characters. A long book but one that is an almost effortless read, American River: Currents is sure to engage readers and lead them to follow the cast of characters into the rest of O’Connor’s books in the series.

Pages: 453 | ASIN: B07BJ3XT2M

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The Cape: Overdrive

The Cape: Overdrive (A Dark Spores Novel Book 5) by [A. Cosby, Braxton]

Enter into a version of the world where humanity has been divided into Normals and Super-Normals: denizens of the planet with altered DNA that give them supernatural powers. In this fifth installment in the Dark Spore series, Braxton A. Cosby takes the world he has developed in previous novels and expands on it further. The Cape: Overdrive revolves around Sebastian, millionaire nerd-boy, Karla, his speedy girlfriend, Lydia his cousin and a few other characters. This is a perfect young adult novel with just the right amount of action, suspense and personal drama. Watching as our friends move towards peace while pulling in other members of the Super-Normal line to help shows that even those with the most questionable backgrounds and personalities do better as friend, and not foe.

Cosby has clearly honed his craft over five installments. He is very good at world building without flooding his audience with potentially redundant information. It’s clear that he knows there will be readers who come into a series part-way through and won’t have the background information that dedicated followers might have. Cosby makes sure that he shares the stories he wants to tell in such a way that newcomers can pick up an installment and dive right in without feeling lost. That can be tough to do, but the beauty of writing a book with superheroes that resemble the ensembles of comic book heroes of the now, means that readers will expect to be missing some of the story when they pick up a random volume. That doesn’t mean the story is any less engaging and interesting: it just means that Cosby knows his audience and knows how to hook readers, no matter where in his world they enter from.

This book is a young adult novel, but that doesn’t mean that adults can’t enjoy it either. It isn’t rife with the teenage angst that many YA novels can drown themselves in, which is nice for older audiences who are interested in the story. The characters are solid with definitive personalities and goals. The relationships are clearly defined and developed: nothing is left to chance and accidental interpretation. There is no confusion and that goes on to create a wonderful atmosphere for readers. Using the discord that is plaguing the world of Cosby’s stories as a reason for the characters to come together for the greater good is deployed nicely and doesn’t feel too contrived or unrealistic.

The Cape: Overdrive by Braxton A. Cosby is a wonderful young adult novel that is sure to appeal to lovers of superheroes, regardless of their age. The story is intriguing, compelling with strong characters and solid world-building. The action is just right, and the character development is wonderful. This is a book that was crafted carefully and slides into the series nicely. Even if readers are freshly coming into the series with this book, they will not feel lost or as though they are missing crucial information. This is definitely a great read and anyone who is willing to take on this book won’t be disappointed.

Pages: 227 | ASIN: B078FNZP2J

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