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Infinity: Detroit Nights

Life wasn’t easy, but it was much more straightforward when Matthew was home in the Louisiana bayou snagging catfish by hand with his sister Nicole. Nicole, who was deaf, was still much the leader of her little family and Matthew’s best friend. However, when Matthew wakes up and finds he is being held hostage, he wonders if he will ever see the bayou’s waters again. He is a young man in the 1930s and desperately wanted by more than one unlawful group for his skills, and now he has a big decision to make.

Infinity: Detroit Nights, by Catalina DuBois, is the story of a young man who appears in all ways to be backward and racist. His character is well-written–DuBois gives vivid details about Matthew’s background and provides dialogue that brings him to life. His words are sometimes difficult to read, but they are, unfortunately, accurate and dead-on for the type of character he portrays. DuBois has not to mince words when it comes to her main character, and this is what makes the entire story so impactful.

Sarah, Tony, the mobster’s girlfriend and proprietor of a brothel, is quite the match for Matthew. She is everything you want to see in a strong female character. Even though her business is not morally upright, Sarah comes across as a fierce protector who will stop at nothing to defend the women she is helping. She is one of the most attractive female characters I have read in a long time.

One of the most fascinating aspects of DuBois’s writing is the dynamic she creates between Matthew and Sarah, who are polar opposites for all intents and purposes. They are living in a time when the two should be mortal enemies. Matthew’s upbringing in Louisiana makes him see the world through the eyes of a racist, and Sarah is black. They are nothing alike on the surface, but how the author has shaped the two, and their relationship is nothing short of amazing.

The drama surrounding gangster activity and all of the associated intrigue serves to make this an exciting read. In addition, the storyline’s distinctly romantic feel will entice readers of the romance drama. I recommend DuBois’s work to anyone interested in reading fiction set in the 1930s. It is clear DuBois has done her research and made her story as historically accurate as she has made it rich with well-developed characters.

INBRED!

Author Andrew Toth’s Inbred! is a meandering tale about a salesman who is trying to figure out his path. While the locals make only a few brief appearances in the novel, most of the story explores Tom Paxton’s dive into Buddhism and his general unhappiness with his life.

As a failed farmer and husband, Tom wanders through the local “inbred” town of Woolen, getting into drunken bar fights. Finally, he leaves that life to become a traveling salesman, who’s apparently good at his job while exhibiting few redeeming qualities. Unhappy, he turns to Buddhism and joins a temple on the outskirts of the same “inbred” town from his farming days. Tension builds as he trains himself for the inevitable confrontation between the monks and the locals.

Toth has a smooth and easy-to-read style. Most of the story takes place from the point of view of Tom. Depending on the circumstances, the main character’s tone shifts from worldly to over-confident to self-loathing. Side characters earn his respect or contempt depending upon their mood. We see him struggle. We see him succeed. We also see him as a mentor in sales and a student of Buddhism. The problem is that Tom isn’t very likable. He doesn’t even seem to like himself through much of the story.

Inbred!, at times, is reminiscent of action movies of the 80s and 90s. The action scenes harken back to old country fighting movies like Road House or Walking Tall. The story maintains orbit around a sales competition and the events at the temple. Where Toth shines is in his attention to detail. His narrative picks up on the smallest details, so readers have a strong visual of the situation in front of them. His ability to bring dialog to life in a manner that is realistic and believable.

INBRED!: Welcome to Woolen. Population 2500 inbreds is a story about a man trying to find his way in life, working with a mediocre hand that fate has dealt him, and the author makes readers want to hear this profound story. Readers will find the unexpected in this suspenseful character-driven novel.

Pages: 205 | ASIN : B0089ME214

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The Mommy Clique

The Mommy Clique is an entertaining and unpredictable novel filled with gossip and betrayal that will keep readers on their toes. Beth comes back to her hometown after many years to take care of her mother. She is worried about coming back to town, and to make matters worse she is forced to face the mean girl clique of mothers on her street. She soon realizes that she has become the target of these women, and they are looking for some fun. We find out that their ‘perfect’ life in the suburbs is not as great as it looks on the outside.

This is a riveting character driven story and author Barbara Altamirano does a fantastic job of creating believable characters, even when they do some unbelievable things. Each character is different in their own way but they all have one thing in common, they are mean girls and no one can be better than them.

Each chapter in the story is told from a different perspective. This allows the reader to get an intimate look at their thoughts and feelings and truly understand them. Even if readers can’t relate to certain situations they’ll still find that the characters have surprising depth, even when they sometimes seem shallow.

The reader learns that some of the characters in the story are not as happy and perfect as they seem and are putting up a façade. Elise, who is also referred to as the queen bee, is a surprisingly complex character and she is one that I loved to hate. I think that is a testament to the author’s writing ability, as she is able to evoke such strong emotions from the reader. I was also surprised by Beth’s character because, when she is first introduced to the group, she is looked at as weak and as easy prey, but as the story progresses readers learn that she is not at all who we think she is.

This is an engrossing evolution of the high school mean girl story. But when I thought I knew where this story was going the author adds an unexpected twist and once it is revealed you will not be able to put the book down.

The Mommy Clique is a spunky urban drama that will captivate readers as they are drawn into the melodrama, the cattiness, and the backstabbing. I highly recommend this book to readers looking for a quick but compelling story.

Pages: 203 | ASIN: B088DJS6TT

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Waiting in Wattlevale

The residents at Wattlevale Rest Home each have their own unique story to tell. From Digger, the mischievous prankster, to Major, the irascible veteran, there is more to the elderly inhabitants at Wattlevale than first meets the eye. When Peony, a recently divorced mother, first begins working at Wattlevale, she isn’t sure what she is getting herself into. Through various perspectives, we are introduced to the complex relationships, daily dramas, and petty squabbles that occur in the day-to-day runnings of this busy home. Yet, Wattlevale must always find a way to carry on in the face of disruptive events.

Waiting in Wattlevale contains a colorful and memorable cast of characters whose situations are often equally comic and tragic. This meaningful story provides a poignant and thoughtful reflection on the way society treats the elderly, alongside how society itself is viewed by the older generation. Author Greta Harvey captures the humor and toughness unique to Australian life; this allows the reader to become immersed in the book’s geographical setting and understand many of the residents’ nostalgia for a bygone Aussie way of living.

Jumping skillfully from character to character, Harvey engages us with a vast array of personalities and individual narratives. Each resident has a story to tell, and their uniqueness shines through. The author also doesn’t hesitate to present the flaws of even her most likable residents and care home workers. I sometimes felt like the book could use an additional edit as I found some run-on sentences and perspective switches mid-paragraph. However, the novel’s heart shines through, giving readers a feeling of comfort and familiarity as they move through the pages learning more about each character.

Waiting in Wattlevale is for readers looking for a relaxing, character-driven story. This heartwarming novel has a multi-faceted and humanizing depiction of the elderly and is a fascinating look into the world of the characters.

Pages: 218 | ASIN : B089N23ZP4

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I’ve Always Felt Empathetic Toward Others

Author Interview Michael J. Bowler

Shifter has the two main characters grappling with some big moral decisions. What was the inspiration for putting them into this position?

I like stories where characters, especially teenagers, have to grapple with more than just who to ask to prom because it’s when we’re faced with serious issues of right vs wrong that we show what we’re made of and who we are inside, and most of us will face tough choices throughout our lives. As a reader, I can ask myself the same questions I pose to my characters and consider which way I might go. My hope is that other readers will do the same. I’ve also thought about the ramifications of having such a power that I could decide who lives and who dies. As pointed out in the book, would it have been moral to kill Hitler before he got very far in his bid to take over the world? Even now, with what we know of history, some people would still argue no and others would say yes.

Are there any emotions or memories from your own life that you put into your characters of Alex and Andy?

I’ve always felt very empathetic toward the pain of others, even as a child and a teen, and wanted to “cure” those people of what ailed them, so I created this character of Alex to do that for me. I just don’t like seeing people unhappy or suffering, which is one reason I could never have become a doctor. Alex’s skills with his wheelchair and his innate tenacity were based on a boy I taught in high school. Despite his wheelchair, that boy could do whatever he put his mind to, sometimes with help from his friends, but mostly by himself. For Andy, I used much of the pain I absorbed from incarcerated kids I worked with who told me horrific stories of being locked in closets for years on end or about how some despicable adult slaughtered their pets in front of them. I sought to depict how hard it might be for such a child to accept love and friendship once released from such an evil upbringing, and I hope Andy comes across as believable in the minds of the readers.

What do you think were some of the defining moments in the development of Alex and Andy’s relationship?

Neither knew of the other’s existence until shortly before they met at the conclusion of Spinner (The Healer Chronicles 1), so I tried to imagine what it would feel like to meet a twin brother I never knew I had. Given the respective backgrounds of the two boys, I felt they could relate as outcasts and that might be the beginning of a friendship and even familial ties. The small moments they shared—when Andy would learn something new from Alex, or when they were washing dishes or working out in the fitness center—these moments helped cement their relationship. Learning how to combine their power and work together defined the growing connection between them, not just because their minds were linked, but because they needed to trust each other, and that must’ve been hard.

Will the next book conclude the story of Alex and Andy or is there more to tell? When will the next book be available?

The next book will conclude this particular storyline, but I have opened enough doors to tell other tales involving these characters and hope to return to them in the future. Spoiler (The Healer Chronicles 3) releases on July 12, 2022.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Fifteen-year-old Alex and his learning-disabled friends barely survived the events of Spinner, but their nightmare has only just begun.

Alex’s wheelchair has never stopped him from doing what he wants, but his supernatural power to heal every human ailment known to science has put him in the crosshairs of a dangerous doomsday cult that will stop at nothing to capture him and his long-lost twin, Andy, who can shift illness from one person to another. When the boys combine their “gifts,” they unleash the power to control life and death.

Now Alex, Andy, and the others have been kidnapped by the U.S. military. On a creepy Air Force base in the remote Nevada desert, they must decide who to trust and who to fear while uncovering secrets this base wants to hide from the world. Who is the young boy with unusual abilities who’s treated like a soldier? What is hidden in an ultra-secret hangar that no one can access? And what unnatural experiments are conducted in that closed-off laboratory?

As Alex unravels these mysteries, he strives to bond with his twin, but Andy is distant and detached, trusting no one. He’s also more attracted to the dangerous power they wield than Alex would like. When misplaced faith in science ignites a hidden lust for supremacy, rescue can only come from the most unlikely source, and Alex must confront a terrible truth.

The Healer Chronicles continue…

The French Queen’s Curse

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American-born Kikki possesses a powerful psychic connection with the long-dead French Queen, Margot. These two kindred spirits are drawn together, crossing the boundaries of time and history. However, Margot has a mission that only Kikki can fulfill. Will Kikki be able to deliver on the French Queen’s orders for retribution?

Things are further complicated by Kikki’s partner, Torres, who has a covert operation of his own; the secrets threaten to tear them apart. When the patriarchal forces of ‘The Swords’ endanger everything Kikki holds dear, she must battle on behalf of Margot’s besieged spirit and fight to protect those she loves.

Author Juliette Lauber’s The French Queen’s Curse is a fantasy novel with both modern and historical elements. There is a quintessentially Parisian feel in the setting and themes. The romance and drama flow in abundance, giving readers plenty to look forward to with each chapter.

The author does not detail Kikki’s psychic abilities and her mystical affinity to ‘the Goddess,’ whom she worships and serves. Instead of a lot of background information, the reader is thrust into a world of action, intrigue, and supernatural occurrences right from the start. This gives readers a show rather than tell experience into this mystical element Kikki possesses. In contrast, however, Lauber dedicates a good amount of time to her descriptions of Kikki and Torres’s relationship and the power their love holds.

The pacing in this action-filled novel is fast, and the plot is engaging. The history of the French Queen herself has clearly been well-researched, allowing the reader to feel transported to a different time. Lauber draws skillful parallels between the past and the present; the dominant male order imposes war and violence in both worlds. As a heroine, Kikki herself seems born largely out of wish fulfillment; this does not diminish the fact that she is an active and powerful participant in her own story. Kikki embodies the values of love, beauty, and a uniquely feminine sense of justice. This combination will give readers a strong character to relate to and root for.

The French Queen’s Curse is a historical romance novel with elements of modern-day worked in. Readers will find this thrilling and mysterious fantasy saga filled with action and drama, keeping them on edge and interested from start to finish in Kikki’s story.

Pages: 414 | ISBN : 978-1-64456-465-3

Coming Soon

Non-human Species Deserve To Live Their Lives Free of Exploit

Chuck Augello Author Interview

A Better Heart follows a filmmaker that reconnects with his father in an unusual way and causes him to question what matters in life. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I’ve had an interest in animal rights for most of my adult life and wanted to write about it in an engaging way that would entertain readers, but also inform them and perhaps challenge them to explore their own beliefs.  After my first novel, The Revolving Heart, was published, I started writing the opening chapters of a new novel, with an animal rights theme, that was nothing at all like A Better Heart.  After three chapters that novel stalled, and I put it aside for several months.  I then began hearing the first-person voice of Kevin, the novel’s narrator, and a character took shape.  I didn’t know that Henry, the capuchin monkey, and Kevin’s estranged father Brian would be critical characters until they literally walked into the opening scene.  Once that happened, the story fell into place, and I wrote the first draft in ten months, which for me is quite fast.   

Kevin thought his life was going great till he encounters Henry and reconnects with his father, causing him to rethink his personal values. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?  

Kevin feels responsible for the death of his mother and that guilt drives him toward a feeling of responsibility for Henry.  He’s someone who has always been self-focused.  As a filmmaker, he’s constantly drawing in his friends to help him with his projects.  He’s never really thought about the world beyond movies and his own ambitions, but as he learns about Henry’s experiences, he knows that he has a choice to help Henry reach freedom or to let him return to what can only be described as a primate prison.  

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

Primarily, the idea that non-human species deserve to live their lives free of exploitation and pain. The way that most animals are treated is unforgivable, and a stain on the human character.   Another theme is one of forgiveness.  Kevin struggles to forgive his father for what he perceives as abandonment, and he struggles to forgive himself for his unintended role in his mother’s death.   

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

I’m currently under contract for a book about the author Kurt Vonnegut.  It’s a mix of essays and interviews that I’ve done over the years with scholars and artists about their Vonnegut-themed works.  That should be available in 2023.  I’m also working on a novel set in the Bicentennial year of 1976.  The main characters are a college student and her uncle, who has returned home after living in Canada for ten years to avoid the draft during the Vietnam War.   

Author Links: Twitter | Website

For aspiring indie filmmaker Kevin Stacey, it’s another day on the set of his first film, but when his estranged father, a failed Hollywood actor, arrives unexpectedly with a bundle of cash, a gun, and a stolen capuchin monkey, he’s propelled toward the journey that will change his life.
The monkey, Henry, has been liberated from a research lab by animal rights activists. Inspired by his friend Veronica to reevaluate his relationship with other species, Kevin learns about the pain and suffering inflicted on lab animals as he forges a bond with the capuchin. When father and son embark on a road trip with Henry, Kevin is caught between the egocentric father who abandoned him and the temperamental monkey whose fate is in his hands. With both the FBI and his mother’s ghost watching, will Kevin risk his career and his father’s freedom to bring the stolen monkey to safety? Meanwhile, Veronica’s encounter with an eccentric Catholic priest triggers her own journey toward change.
A heartbreaking yet comic family drama, A Better Heart examines the human-animal bond and the bonds between fathers and sons, challenging readers to explore their beliefs about the treatment of non-human species.

Waterbury Winter

Waterbury Winter by Linda Stewart Henley is the story that introduces us to Barnaby Brown. Barnaby is a man living a stagnant life and happens to be an alcoholic. His wife Anna died of cancer years ago, and he finds life without her lonely and dreary. He lives with his parrot, Popsicle, and she’s his only source of joy besides the bottle. He wants to change, but it’s hard. Julia Morgan, another protagonist, finds that turning forty and being single is not what she had in mind when she was younger. One day, Barnaby is invited to a party at a neighbor’s house, and there he meets an old friend, Julia Morgan. What ensues is a story of hope, strength, love, and believing in yourself.

Barnaby is a flawed character, but you’ll find yourself rooting for him throughout the story. He’s likable and sweet. Barnaby finds himself in an interesting love triangle that you’ll find yourself intrigued by. Julia is another character that you’ll come to like. She’s beautiful, intelligent, and is excellent at her job. The two characters have you wondering if it’s possible to start over and make your life better. And if it’s possible to get a second chance at love.

Henley has created a story full of angst and hope that readers will enjoy and perhaps even identify with. There’s even a dash of mystery to keep readers entertained and wondering if they will find the answers they seek.

Waterbury Winter is a heartwarming story that will captivate you until the very end with its romance, mystery, and characters that readers will want to watch grow and develop. Readers will enjoy a tale that has you believing in finding the strength to better yourself and realize that your life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful.

Pages: 264 | ASIN : B09CCSJM6H

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