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The Land, The Land

The Land, The Land by Robin Hawdon is about Roger Oldfield, a farmer that enjoys being one and doesn’t see himself doing anything else. He loves every inch of his land and would do anything to protect it. Things have been going decently for Roger, his lovely wife Annie, can’t-be-tamed daughter, Lily, and autistic son, Danny.

It’s not long before Roger finds two strangers on his land. He questions who they are and why are they there. He finds out soon enough they were sent there by a Mr. Collins. It turns out this businessman is interested in talking to Roger about his land. These discussions set the stage for the drama that unfolds in this story, the fight for Roger’s precious land.

As you read the story, it becomes apparent how much Roger loves his beautiful, majestic land. Roger is someone you don’t meet every day. He’s old school because he’s not interested in worldly things. He enjoys spending time with his family and days working on the farm. Those are the things that matter to him most. He also possesses a dark streak that comes out as the story progresses. His willingness to do whatever it takes to keep his families land knows no bounds. Passion for family, traditions and his land are what drive Roger.

Roger loves his wife, and he never forgets what she gave up for him. Readers will find his children lovable and relatable. Tough Lily and sweet Danny are given strong characteristics that make them stand out and become memorable. Danny especially, you come to know more about through his diary entries which can be read at the entrance of each chapter.

The fight for Roger’s land attracts the media’s attention and a group of activists. This adds additional drama to the story as it becomes a public interest, family farms vs. big corporations. As the battle continues to play out, readers will be left wondering what will happen next.

The Land, The Land is an emotionally charged psychological thriller that combines family and political drama. The characters are fresh and original, the setting lush and the story is wonderfully written. The story is beautiful, heart-warming, and shows if you are strong and determined enough, you can achieve great things.

Pages: 229 | ASIN : B09WKTC7RC

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The Dagger

In The Dagger: The Madigan Chronicles, written by Marieke Lexmond, Bridget tries her best to keep her witch side shut off and out of her life. However, she doesn’t know that she can ever truly shut her witch side off as she finds herself seeing a recent murder. She is thrust into a flashback and finds out who and why they murdered this witch. Bridget can’t believe her eyes. This discovery leads to her reconnecting with her family, which she has kept more than an arm’s length away. Unfortunately, Reconnecting brings up more secrets that her grandmother has hidden for decades. Bridget has many decisions to make, and she must reconnect with her witch side. But is she up for it?

The Dagger is an absolutely marvelous book. Many readers will find this book relatable in some ways. There is a lot of family drama in this exciting story; the Madigan family has many secrets hidden away. All the characters have unique backstories and well-formed personalities. Each unique individual that the author has created brings an essential element into the storyline, giving readers clues to the family’s secrets locked away for so long.

The grandmother, Tara, is a character full of depth; with secrets and desires to protect her family. She plays a vital role in Bridget’s life, and this is shown in interesting ways as the story advances. However, Tara is holding a secret from the family, which impacts how she interacts and how she is perceived by them and readers.

This intriguing book has an excellent pace for the start of a series. The worldbuilding and character development were integrated well into this first book’s plotline, giving readers enough information but not slowing down the action. The author used multiple characters’ points of view for this novel, so readers could see situations from different vantage points to paint a complete picture of things.

The Dagger is the first book in the paranormal series The Madigan Chronicles. Fantasy readers will be taken in by the unique characters and the dynamic plot. This is a fantastic start to the series, and readers will be anxiously awaiting the next installment.

Pages: 271 | ASIN : B08NF9HYY9

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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.

A Better Heart

A Better Heart by Chuck Augello follows Kevin Stacey, who is trying to make it in the film industry. His friend and coworker, Veronica, is with him when his actor father, George Gringo suddenly steps back into his life. One day in the middle of a shoot, George shows up with a mysteriously disheveled capuchin monkey, a bundle of cash, and a gun. Henry, the capuchin monkey, has been stolen from a research laboratory by animal rights activists and is supposed to be dropped off at a sanctuary. But, before that can happen, the authorities catch onto the plan. From there, a fateful journey begins where during a road trip, Kevin faces several moral dilemmas. He is torn between helping Henry and risking his father’s freedom or helping arrest the activists. During all this, Veronica finds herself in the ethical crossroads as well, between wanting to make a difference in the fight against animal cruelty and the indifference towards animals she grew up with.

This humorous story follows the bond between a father and son, the rebuilding of personal ethical philosophies in a young woman, and a question into how much an animal’s life is worth compared to a human one. The author uses a slow-burn style to start the novel in order to introduce all the characters and their backstories. The background information allows readers to really understand how the characters got to where they are and why the tension builds so strongly between them.

Chuck Augello’s writing is incredibly creative; his writing style is realistic and engaging. The characters come alive with his ability to capture their captivating personalities, humor, and self-reflective thoughts. The characters are the type of people that most readers will identify someone like them in their own lives, making the story more relatable and personal.

A Better Heart is a riveting comedy based around moral decisions and a family drama. Building relationships and discovering personal values are mixed with humor as people come together to save Henry, the rescued lab monkey.

Pages: 257 | ASIN : B09C2S6P78

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Three Dimensions: Lizzies Fizzies

Lizzie’s Fizzies is the third short story collection in Elizabeth Reinach’s Three Dimensions book series. In Booby Prize, a priest in the early 20th century finds a peculiar new function for brassieres; in Muji Slippers, self-esteem and appearances are tackled through a woman’s efforts to appear desirable to a man at a pompous event; in Typing Nude, a junior solicitor is infatuated by his company’s new typist’s steamy references.

Performance has a promising start and provides the reader with a good chuckle as angels Raphael and Stephen sort out souls for heaven or the bossy Lucifer. The Signing, where a horror writer fears a misunderstanding will prompt his ex to reappear into his life and taint his career in the process. Another extraordinary story is The Professor and the Cleaner, which paints an accurate picture of the academic setting through the seemingly trivial, wordless interactions between a university professor and a cleaning staff member.

Although these miscellaneous shorts are dispersed throughout the book, it centers mainly around the political arena and friction between Revolutionaries and British conservatives, as the insinuating Flamboyant reveals. In that respect, the reader is presented with Green and Lark and Kiss and Tell. Moreover, a series of chapters features Archie and Ted, two middle-aged, long-time friends, in several endeavors that range from the trivial to the borderline nonsense and maintain constant themes in the book, such as sexism, racism, and politics.

In this imaginative collection of short stories, Reinach gives readers a taste of political commentary, current social matters, and historical moments that appeal to their sense of curiosity. Throughout the book, there are illustrations by Windel Eborlas. These black and white drawings are humorous and slightly abstract, complementing the tone of the writing.

Three Dimensions: Lizzie’s Fizzies is an entertaining anthology of short stories. This humorous and sometimes horrifying collection will entertain readers that enjoy political humor, short stories, fiction, some horror, thrillers, and suspense. There is something for everyone in this unconventional compilation.

Pages: 88 | ASIN : B0817M9FMT

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Three Dimensions: Lizzies Scaries

Three Dimensions, by Elizabeth Reinach, is a collection of short stories with themes ranging from crime mysteries to family secrets and greed. In The Trio, you will meet an elderly couple terrorized by three creepy adolescents; Grandma introduces Johnny, who is entangled in a family drama that arises from his wealthy family matriarch’s revelations on her 80th birthday; a Christmas night’s sketchy deal goes awry in White Witness; an unusually close relationship of love and jealousy among siblings is explored in The Tennis Party 1885 by Sir John Lavery; The Seànce reveals the tragic fate of a recently deceased man to his acquaintances; an old multiple homicide case resurfaces in William?, and a deathbed confession from a ill woman sparks her daughter’s search for the truth in the final tale, Margaret Donald Was Only a Typist.

The anthology begins with relatively mild and seemingly unrelated topics. This choice of pace might seem tone-deaf at the first glance – which might be the book’s main caveat -, but the approach soon spikes the reader’s interest and the temptation to skip through the pages to satisfy their curiosity. As the tales grow increasingly more eerie and uncomfortable, sometimes even prompting external research for plot twists and “Easter eggs”, this edge-of-your-seat book grapples with the reader’s sense of familiarity: the stories consistently present daily-life topics with an obscure twist that gives off the stomach-churning sensation of accessing a forbidden something you should not have been.

Three Dimensions, by Elizabeth Reinach showcases vastly different characters that range from the gullible that struggles with her fashion choices in Aladdin’s Cave to acclaimed 20th-century European psychoanalysts from Oedipus in Furs and the overtly polite staff that hides a rotten cynicism in Beneath the Surface. Illustrated by Salvador Capuyan with comical and satirical artwork, this collection of short stories will appeal to readers who enjoy an unique style of casual entertainment.

Pages: 67 | ASIN: B0823GFW2K

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Heirs of Deceits

Heirs of Deceits by Elizabeth Reinach is a historical fiction story set in Victorian England. Sir Gilbert Stanley is a wealthy landowner and member of parliament who has left behind a string of abandoned women and illegitimate children. When the mothers died, the children were sent to live at a workhouse or fostered out to another family. Years later, Sir Gilbert does not acknowledge them as his children but takes them in to his household to work as servants at his country estate, Stanley Court. When his illegitimate son, Henry is murdered, will Sir Gilbert be able to discover who killed him? And what will become of his other children when the scandal of their illegitimacy is revealed?

This story had a unique structure that spanned a number of years, following several children from early childhood in to young adulthood. I liked how the author showed insight into the various trials faced by the characters. It was an interesting contrast to see the difference between the hardships in the lives of Sir Gilbert’s illegitimate children living in a workhouse compared to Lady Anne, who was raised in an aristocratic household. I enjoyed the elements of mystery in this story, reading all the different clues during the murder investigation and trying to put the pieces together to figure out the identity of the killer. I liked that the author included an epilogue showing how the lives of the characters turned out.

The story was divided into several parts and in the first part, where each chapter was focused on a different child’s early life experiences. In Part Two the story lines of the different children start to merge together. When the same events were told from more than one character’s perspective, the facts were not always consistent as is often the case when multiple people are retelling a story, everyone remembers things a little different. This adds a layer of realism to the story with the retelling from multiple perspectives.

Heirs of Deceits by Elizabeth Reinach is a wonderful period piece that highlights a common issue of the time when men often had illegitimate children but no one ever wanted to speak of them. While a work of fiction this book give a voice to those deemed illegitimate. With scandal and a riveting murder mystery this novel will entertain a diverse set of readers.

Pages: 244 | ASIN: B07T239B3B

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Children of the Elements

Brenna and Adara are twins living in England that spend their days with tutors and fancy automated machines. When not working on their schooling they’re reading from the Grimoire. From the Grimoire they learn of the Elemental Gods and pretend they were them. It wasn’t until they moved to Massachusetts that they began to realize they were different. On their first day of school they meet twin boys, Dimitri and Wyndham that share their same last name, Devins, as well as strange white streaks of hair. From there they realize they all have over-sized pets, a toad, lizard, owl and rat that just found the children and attached themselves to them. Slowly as they get to know each other they develop strange powers, telepathy, the ability to control elements, and the mysterious Grimoire that each has a part of starts morphing before their eyes. What does it all mean? How are they connected? Why are strange things happening to them? What happens when the stories they read as children suddenly start coming to life?

Children of the Elements by Ora Wanders, is set in a steampunk reality of the semi modern world. There are parts that remind me of early frontier times, the one room school house, the simple country life, but then she adds in the steampunk elements of automated machinery and clothing choices. It is a mix of modern and old and blends together in a fascinating way that makes sense to the story line. Each set of twins have similar backgrounds, only one parent, both moving from homes with lots of machinery to a simpler life and only bringing a few things with them, the Grimoire that seems incomplete to each set. When they meet, it is literally like puzzle pieces fitting together. The story is exceptionally well written and everything flows naturally and story elements occur organically. I could picture the characters clearly, the bickering and playing around that you expect from young adults comes out. I found it all relatable, even in the magical setting.

This was a book that I didn’t want to put down. The plot moves quickly, the character development is integrated with the plot, so you’re not weighed down with back stories and character development early on. All that information comes out as you meet the characters and see them interacting with their pets, teacher, and each other. They are typical teenagers with attitudes and short tempers, but you see them grow from the early pages to the end. Without giving away key elements, I can say that all four children are able to grow and see their potential while still retaining a child like wonder of the world. It has all the elements a reader of fantasy could want; magic, conflict, family drama, growth, and an open ending to continue the saga.

One of the most amazing things about this novel is the author. Ora Wanders is only ten years old! I could not believe this when I finished the novel and wanted to learn more about the author because I loved the book that much. I am looking forward to the second book in the series and much more from this amazing young lady.

Pages: 310 | ISBN: 1797718002

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