In Empyrean two empires are stuck in a struggle for control and suspicion has been raised about Skae’s true motives towards the Brin. How did you approach this book in the Brin series to keep things fresh?
I always had an overall general idea of how I wanted to wrap up the series so there were several hints along the way about the Skae and Gorvin empires. I wanted to follow a single family of Brin over a long span of time so creating individuals across generations was an essential part of the story. As in real life, even close relations have very different personalities so the new generation of characters in each book helped keep everything fresh with new perspectives. As the stories progressed, there were many alterations and details that changed as new inspirations hit, but the overall arc did not change too wildly from my original thoughts.
We delve deeper into the two cultures history and motives in this novel. What were some guiding principles for you as you were creating these empires?
As each book came to life, I strove to add greater depth to the universe the characters lived in. This was partly by design, but also the result of my learning more about how to write such an epic tale. Remember, Hegira was my first ever attempt at writing. Even though this is all happening in a different universe than ours, there still had to be certain laws of physics to follow and all the technologies had to abide by those rules. Some few alterations and extensions to our physical laws helped make it an interesting scifi universe, but straying too far would create too much disbelief. I wanted everything to be based on actual theories of what could be possible, then make it so. (yes, an intentional Picard reference.)
You were able to expertly balance technical jargon with easy prose. How did you strike that balance and was it purposeful?
I spent 35 years in the science classroom trying to explain complex scientific concepts to 7th grade students. I guess I developed a knack for doing this which carried over into my story-telling style.
Will this be the last book in the Brin Chronicles or do you plan to continue this series?
Yes, this is the final book of The Brin Archives. It was surprising to discover how much I would miss all these characters when I was finally done writing their story, but it is time to move on to a new project. Maybe someday, if fame and fortune hits and all my adoring fans demand a fourth novel in the series, then I might revisit all of them again. (it could happen… right?)
In this conclusion to The Brin Archives, Maliche Rocker must risk everything including his family’s reputation and even his life, to uncover the truth about the Skae. For over three hundred years the Brin have believed the Skae to be their benefactors, and the race that rescued them from extinction. But recent revelations by a group of young Kolbri, the offspring of Brin and Kolandi mating, tell a disturbingly different story.
Three Kolbri, including Maliche’s son Jontar, must use their unique abilities to telepathically connect with technology, and discover the truth about the Skae once and for all by undertaking a perilous journey through thousands of years in space and time, unravelling the history hidden from them by Skae. During this expedition, Jontar and his two companions must encounter the Gorvin, hated enemy of the Skae and supposed instigators of the current interstellar war.
What turned the Skae and Gorvin into mortal enemies? What is the true cause of the war responsible for the destruction of hundreds of worlds over thousands of years? Will Maliche and his small group find the truth and avert disaster both at home and across the galaxy? Can his wife, Ryma, hold the Brin government together long enough for Maliche to succeed? Only time will tell.
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The fifth installment of the Reverence series, Voice of a Crimson Angel, by Joshua Landeros is both an intimate and thrilling look at the lead up to his debut military science fiction series. Julissa Marconi’s life was pulled apart after her husband went into a coma. Her relationship with her daughter is on the brink of falling apart, friends have disappeared from her life, and the only solace she finds is at the bottom of a bottle. This all changes when Dr. Neeson offers her an open door to change her life and with the help of allies like Captain Halsey, and she grabs the opportunity to fight. The ever-scheming Chancellor Venloran has his own designs afoot for the expansion of the United Nation Republic.
With this new trilogy Landeros is giving background and context for his series, while also showing that the ever present villain of Venloran has been around for a long time in all of his power. If you’ve already read all the way up to Ballad of Demise, then this is another superb excuse to dive back into this torn apart world of super soldiers and war.
Landeros still manages to deliver on his strengths of dialogue and action. The beginning of this novel might start slow, but it picks up that familiar fast pace I have become accustomed to from this writer. Still heavily leaning into the military science fiction legacy, Landeros uses this to full effect in the near future of the United States and pushes it further with the backstory development of characters we haven’t either met or gotten fully developed in past stories.
While, the ending clearly makes room for a sequel, the novel itself is still satisfying on its own merit. It will be a treat to see where this new series goes and if there is something new waiting for us at the end, which we can hope. This stage setting series should please fans of the books and of science fiction in general with the way it keeps to the best tropes, while making fresh the well trampled ground of such narratives. Landeros keeps pushing his world deeper and expanding the horizon of both the characters and story line while managing to give readers a ride they won’t soon forget.
Pages: 207 | ASIN: B079H4FBKS
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Everyone has secrets…but mine will get you killed.
I go by many names. Today, I’m Ariel.
I have a secret. One that I can’t tell.
A secret that can get you killed.
I’ve spent the last few years looking over my shoulder waiting for them to find me.
I know they are looking for me.
And then I meet him.
He makes me want things I’ve never thought possible.
He comes with no compromises as his kisses ignite something inside me.
He shatters my illusions, demands to know the truth.
Can I trust him? Can I let him in? Do I have a choice?
I see it now.
She’s hiding something.
Ariel doesn’t exist.
She panics when I walk through her front door.
I’ve never seen anyone so afraid and I refuse to leave her like this.
Not only does she ignite a fire inside me, she sets off every protective instinct I have.
And then she vanishes into thin air…
I will do everything within my power to find her, to bring her home.
*** A full length novel with a happily ever after, no cliffhanger, and plenty of steam. ***
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Mr. Wonderful is a touching story that follows Brian, a college professor, in the throes of a life crisis like none he has ever faced. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?
Initial idea behind the story: MR. WONDERFUL began as a memoir. I was a college professor and my father has recently passed with advanced dementia. I don’t have a ‘loopy son’ as in the book but I do have a son about that age and know many other millennials who behave a bit like Danny in the novel. But as I got into the writing of my memoir, I realized I wanted and needed the freedom to invent–a lot. A fictional story came into view about a professor’s world sort of closing in all around him and I decided to let my memoir morph into a novel and let it take me–and readers–into some unexpected but hopefully moving and memorable places.
What I liked about Brian was that his character was layered and his emotions were relateable. What were the driving ideals behind his characters development throughout the story?
Brian, like me, is flawed but, hopefully, someone readers would root for. So I focused on telling a story in which Brian’s world is full of conflict; in sorting out competing desires (he loves his son but realizes he needs some tough love, etc.) we often learn the most revealing things about ourselves. Good, rich, layered characters need inner problems–as well as outer conflicts–to resolve and overcome and that’s what I worked to create for Brian (and for Danny, for that matter). The driving ideal or goal for the characters, especially Brian, was how do I succeed as a respectable man in the world? How do I make the most of my time in this world? Can I/will I live a life as admirable and eventful as Brian’s father, ‘Doc’ Fenton?
I felt like all the characters in the novel were well thought out and developed. What were the morals you were trying to capture while creating your characters?
I’m not sure I was intent on capturing any particular set of ‘morals’ with these characters except perhaps to showcase them working to figure out how they can learn to care as much about others (at least in their family) as they do about themselves.
What is the next story that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’ve recently begun a bit of a sequel to MR. WONDERFUL, focusing on the ‘next generation’ of the Fentons story: that of Danny and Dawn out on the road trying to reinvent themselves as ‘respectable’ people while still living the free-wheeling lifestyle that is so central to their identities. Probably won’t be done until early 2019. I’m also working on finding financing for my next major feature film, BLOOD BORN, about a young man who’s world is turned upside down when he discovers that his blood can cure cancer. My first feature film, TEXAS HEART, starring John Savage (THE DEER HUNTER) and Lin Shaye (INSIDIOUS), is now available on Amazon Prime and on DVD. Very proud of that film.
In spite of the world’s struggle and sorrow, life sometimes shows us the wonderful.
Brian Fenton’s life is falling apart. A professor at a bankrupt “directional school,” Brian suddenly learns he must either take early retirement or double his workload. As he confronts the embarrassment of his job going south, Brian discovers that his loopy son, Danny, is paying a surprise visit—which can only mean a hand out for money and a need to crash. To top it all off, Brian is fielding frantic calls about his aging father who’s declining rapidly with dementia.
Once a family doctor in Juniper, the small Texas town where Brian was raised, “Doc Fenton” is going down fast—forcefully reminding Brian of his own mortality and the painful issues separating him from his domineering father—a man only his loving wife could call “Mr. Wonderful.”
When Brian’s father passes, the gathered Fenton family partakes in a volatile small-town Texas funeral—at once hilarious and poignant—which produces startling revelations about Doc Fenton that propel Brian and the whole family into a new direction, a new path forward.
In the engaging vein of Ann Patchett’s Commonwealth and Jonathan Tropper’s This Is Where I Leave You, Daniel Blake Smith’s debut novel is at once a comic and heart-wrenching family saga. It offers a piercingly honest window into how we struggle to make sense of ourselves, our families, and our life purpose. If we’re lucky, we discover Mr. Wonderful.
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The Dragon Grammar Book succinctly covers everything from subject and verb agreement to dangling participles and misplaced modifiers in a fun and engaging way. What was your goal when you began this book?
My goal was to create an easy-to-understand and fun grammar book for a wider audience, from middle grades to adults, that would encourage the reader to want to read and learn grammar. As a writer, editor, and publisher, I often come across the same grammar mistakes made by adults, so I wanted the book to be a refresher guide for adults while being a learning guide for children.
What do you find people struggle with the most when learning the English language?
The English language is a complicated language to learn and even confuses seasoned writers on occasions. The thing I see most people struggle with is the proper use of homonyms, like your vs. you’re; and other confusing words, like when to use affect vs. effect. Second to that, punctuation seem to present a lot of problems.
What I liked most about this book was how it distilled ideas down to simple bits of information. What was the hardest part about writing this book so it’s understood by kids and adults?
Most books aren’t written for such a wide audience, so the challenge was in finding that middle ground where the writing would engage the entire group of readers. Personally, I appreciate simple explanations that don’t over explain, which led me to the idea that other adults might too.
Do you plan to create more educational novels like this featuring characters from your fantasy series?
Yes, I have a few ideas brewing, but the idea that keeps coming up front and center is to write my characters into a book about short-story writing. I’d like this book, too, to be for middle grades through adults. The characters are presently voting on the project, so we’ll see where that leads us.
The Dragon Grammar Book is the ideal grammar book for kids, dragons, and adults alike. From multi-award winning children’s fantasy author, Diane Mae Robinson, The Dragon Grammar Book introduces middle grades through adults to the basic rules of the English language with easy grammar lessons. Featuring the zany fantasy characters in the author’s The Pen Pieyu Adventures series, The Dragon Grammar Book is sure to be enjoyed by the whole kingdom.
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The Outcasts has a unique take on the vampire story and follows Larna as she relates a tale woven in history, family secrets, and bloodlust. What was your inspiration for this novel and the overarching history behind Larna?
When I first started writing The Outcasts, it was during the Twilight vampire craze. Even though I still enjoy Stephanie Meyers’s series (I own every copy) – at the time, I still felt that we, as a society, could do better with female protags. I wanted a story that had a plot and didn’t just rely on the ‘girl’ getting the ‘boy’. I wanted a protagonist who wasn’t physically perfect and popular and had a long way to go to find her strength. It was extremely important for me to have a character that people could relate to… because in the end, none of us are perfect, we’re all outcasts and that’s okay.
What I liked most about Larna is that her character felt both fresh and relatable. Were you able to relate to your characters while writing them?
Oh my gosh, in every tortuous way possible… writing Larna was excruciatingly painful, but also freeing in the sense that I wanted her to be more than just a pretty face. It was important she be funny and witty and have an inner strength that she needed to find and tap into. I think her vulnerability was the hardest thing for me to get right.
I find that, while writing, you sometimes ask questions and have the characters answer them. Do you find that to be true? What questions did you ask yourself while writing this story?
This list could be irritatingly long! Ha! I still have questions I’m asking myself about this series, like: Is Larna relatable and not just annoying? Would people buy Corinth coming into the picture and then slowly fading away? Would people believe Alastair liked Larna? Did Alastair’s character shine through the way I wanted it to? Is Gabriel too cliché?
The Outcasts: The Blood Dagger is volume 1 in your series. When will volume 2 be available and what can fans expect in that novel?
Volume 2 is expected to be released December of this year! The book is already written, I am just working on polishing now. People can expect ACTION. The character development has been completed, now we find out what Larna, Corinth, and even Alastair are really capable of. Prepare yourselves for MORE of everything!
Larna Collins has never understood why her dad skipped out on her and her mother when she was twelve years old. Until then, he was a devoted and loving father.
But six years later, during a renovation of her childhood home, she unearths her father’s journal from under a dusty floorboard. According to his final entry before he left, he had recently visited a small parish in England.
The entries draw her to this seemingly quaint village, which Larna discovers isn’t as charming as its blood-craving inhabitants want her to believe, and she learns that she isn’t the only one trying to track her father down.
Could this explain her father’s disappearance? Or was placing her in the center of danger her dad’s master plan all along?
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In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree, by Michael A. McLellan, takes place in the 1860s and revolves around the lives of three people trying desperately to find their way in post-Civil War America. Henry, a man freed from slavery but never free from the horrors he endured, finds himself assisting Clara Hanfield in her quest to reunite with Lieutenant John Elliott, the man she loves and her father loathes. All three are caught up in the government’s plot to push the Native Americans from their land once and for all. Fate has dealt quite the hand to Henry, and his introduction to Clara and her mission to find John poses yet another obstacle to Henry’s quest to find the freedom and peace he deserves.
McLellan’s writing is simply breathtaking. The richness of the language he gives his characters immediately reels in the reader. The exchanges between Henry and Eliza are tender, and her early attempts to refine his speaking habits are affectionate and determined. The trials the two endure to survive as slaves in the South and their attempt to escape the lynch mobs running rampant tore at my heart. McLellan’s words ring all too true. Henry and Eliza’s story is painful, tragic, and well-crafted to convey the horrific circumstances of the era.
Clara’s rescue by Henry is one of those moments in the book worth rereading. Henry, for all intents and purposes, is making amends in any way he can for the loss he has suffered and the guilt he feels for that loss. Sweeping in and pulling Clara from the hands of the enemy, Henry begins a friendship he never could have seen coming. Theirs is a touching relationship punctuated with fleeting moments of light-hearted banter and anchored with fear and a fierce desire on both their parts to find their way to the right side of things. Clara, described as being much like her father, uses it to her advantage as she faces insurmountable challenges on her journey with Henry. Hers is a character refreshingly unlike any other I have read in the genre of historical fiction.
Randall breaks my heart. He is one of those characters the reader will root for from his first appearance. Without giving away too much of Randall’s subplot, I will say that from those first moments of indecision with Clara at West Point. I wanted to see Randall come out on top. The backstory involving his own child and his love for Clara makes for a unique connection and offers the reader all the more reason to admire Randall.
I am giving In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree an enthusiastic 5 out of 5 stars. McLellan has written a piece of historical fiction incorporating elements for every reader. His plotlines involving a family divided and the tragedy surrounding Henry’s life as a slave intertwine to create a beautiful story of friendship, trust, and stand as a testament to the strength of the human spirit. I highly recommend this book to any fan of novels from the Civil War era. McLellan’s characters are truly unforgettable.
Pages: 268 | ASIN: B071YMXDQL
Posted in Five Stars
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Angels: The Discovery, by Starr Lee Bryant, is the touching and sometimes harrowing tale of one boy’s ascent to Heaven. As young Fraser awakens in an unfamiliar and empty room, he struggles to remember how he arrived there and why he feels simultaneously at peace and full of an unexplained energy. Fraser becomes acquainted with several other young people in the same boat. Soon enough, he and the others are oriented to their surroundings, briefed on the details of their arrival in Heaven, and allowed to choose jobs within the kingdom–except Fraser. Even amidst the serenity, Fraser finds himself fighting to understand his true place and purpose among the other angels.
I was immediately struck by Bryant’s depiction of Fraser’s first moments in Heaven. He is overwhelmed but, at the same time, curious and calm. His surroundings are described in the most vivid and tangible details. The reader shares the main character’s peaceful and comforting sensation as he/she enters the first chapter. Bryant spends a great deal of time illustrating the pristine and comfortable quarters to which Fraser is oriented by Gabrielle, his assigned guide.
Bryant uses her cast of characters to emphasize two major aspects of Heaven. She has created Fraser in order to show readers the freedom from pain and suffering found in Heaven and to underscore the fact that those who make it to Heaven are, indeed, believers of God (The Big Guy). I was moved by the flashbacks Fraser experiences with increasing intensity and clarity. As he begins to learn more about the way he reached Heaven, he sees scenes from his life on Earth in a new way–a way he never would have been capable of as a mortal. Each of Bryant’s characters contributes to the plot in a unique way. I am quite partial to Ms. Jamerson, Fraser’s orientation instructor. She’s unflappable and more than willing to provide detailed explanations to Heaven’s newest residents.
One of the most unique aspects of Bryant’s depiction of Heaven centers on the angels’ relationships with their loved ones. The grieving process is very much an earthly sensitivity. Fraser learns quickly that, though he still loves the family he left behind, his feelings toward them will be much less sad, and the expected pining for their companionship and closeness is a not an emotion with which he will battle.
As beautiful and as perfect as Heaven and the angels are drawn in Bryant’s work, her narrative regarding the dark angels is breathtakingly disturbing. The author draws chills from the reader with Fraser’s first encounter with the dark angel hovering above his family. Bryant goes on to describe amazing scenes in which the dark angels seem to be silently dominating life on Earth.
Angels: The Discovery, by Starr Lee Bryant, deserves every one of the 5 stars I am giving it. Bryant provides a thought-provoking account of life after a hero’s death for believers in Christ. I found Fraser’s “choice” of job as both fitting for him and a wonderful tie-in to his concern for his family’s welfare after his death. In addition, Bryant leaves the door wide open for a stirring sequel featuring young Fraser.
Pages: 206 | ASIN: B0788PXZY9
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The Green Line Divide: Romance, Travel and Turmoils, written by Z. Vally, is about Alexis Theodorou, a 24-year-old woman from Britain. Alexis is visiting the dreamy location of Cyprus to attend college. Her charming and witty persona mixed with her good looks helps her to live in the new country, and soon she finds work as a housekeeper- even if that occasionally comes with its own set of troubles. Soon, after a few mishaps with work, she meets a handsome Swede by the name of Sven where she begins a whirlwind romance. But this romance soon comes with its own turmoils, and Alexis soon learns that the biggest obstacles in life are often the ones within ourselves. Will she be able to overcome her inner battles to marry the man of her dreams?
The Green Line Divide: Romance, Travel and Turmoils is a romance novel guaranteed to warm your heart and put a smile on your face. Filled with quirky nuances, questionable intentions and breathtaking moments, this story will be your perfect summer fling.
The romance between Sven and Alexis is slow to start; however, it gives the story time to build on Alexis, her personality and the exciting characters within her work and personal life. I loved the character Molly and her carefree spirit. Her ability to hitchhike and find fun was impressive and I could easily imagine her as the perfect friend to travel overseas with.
The language is beautiful, and the magical landscapes are easily envisioned with the rich description of the sights and sounds. At times the novel goes into depth about the history of the city, adding to the vivid imagery. You can feel the sun on your face, taste the delightful food prepared and smell the salty tang of the crisp blue sea. It is easy to get caught up in your thoughts as you imagine a holiday where you can experience such serenity and beauty. At times the story was a little slow, but this was overturned through comedic moments and important lessons learned by the characters.
The Green Line Divide: Romance, Travel and Turmoils also gives the reader a taste of life as a student abroad, as they battle the ups and downs of college, finding work and meeting new faces. There are also the barriers that come with being overseas; from not understanding parts of the language or being questioned by the law for seemingly innocent activities. The characters struggle to find suitable work and come across problems such as dodgy roommates, unsavoury bosses and misleading men.
Many readers will be able to relate to the sorts of lessons that Alexis experiences. From learning to stand up for yourself and being able to leave a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable, to making foreign friends in new countries, The Green Line Divide: Romance, Travel and Turmoils will be relatable to all those who have travelled or lived in a new destination or country. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a light and romantic novel, set in a dreamy holiday destination.
Pages: 195 | ASIN: B00SF5I61M
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The Nightbreaker follows a paladin named Daniel as we’re introduced to the conflict between the gods of darkness and light and their conflict on the Mortal Plane. What made you want to write this prequel novella to your Broken Pact Trilogy?
Daniel has a major impact on the history of the Mortal Plane. His secret affair with Lio is the catalyst that directly leads to Lio’s fall and the creation of the Grey God’s Pact. Without Daniel, the world as we see it in the Broken Pact trilogy wouldn’t exist. Without spoiling too much of the next book in that trilogy, Daniel and what happened to him plays a larger role in the story, and how Trent and Ren deal with their own parallels to the Paladin hero.
Daniel is on a mission to defeat Rexin before he plunges the Mortal Plane into darkness. Do you feel that Rexin is Daniel’s antithesis, or did you want them to compliment one another?
I first came up with the story as my spin on the classic dragon-slayer tale where a hero must travel away from the kingdom to kill the beast that threatens to destroy it. Daniel is a conflicted character though, as he struggles with the nature of his birth and the way that he is viewed by society. It made sense for Rexin to be a physical manifestation of the darkness that Daniel sees in himself. In order to overcome this external force he doesn’t just have to banish his own darkness, but accept it and use it.
The battle of good vs evil is a theme we see often in fantasy. Do you think the Gods of Darkness and Gods of Light represent this contrast or is there a grey area?
I’ve tried to take the classic good vs. evil tale and add grey areas within each of the factions. Lio, the villain of the Broken Pact trilogy, is a fallen God of Light, who only fell because of his love for a mortal and his natural desire to avenge him. Daniel commits an objectively evil deed at the end of The Nightbreaker to defeat Rexin the Blasted. Although the Gods of Light and the Gods of Darkness represent that classic dichotomy, the individuals who makeup and serve those groups fall into somewhere between good and evil in their personal morality, which makes their interactions all the more interesting.
What is one thing that people point out after reading your book that surprises you?
I’m usually surprised at many of the little world-building details that people pick up on. I try to seed references to other stories and events in the world that I have planned so that sometime in the future when those stories are written the whole series will feel like a more cohesive whole. It’s a really cool feeling though when people catch some of those now, and ask me, “What’s up with that? When do I get to find out what that meant, or who they were talking about?” My answer: keep reading.
In the years before the Grey God’s Pact, the Gods of Light and the Gods of Darkness waged war upon the Mortal Plane. Fighting alongside them were armies of men and monsters. The Champion Daniel, a Paladin of the Light, leads a band of warriors into the wilderness to defeat one such being, Rexin the Blasted, before the creature engulfs the entire Mortal Plane in an endless darkness.
Daniel, scorned for his heritage as the child of a rapist, must first come to terms with his own identity and what he is willing to do in the name of the greater good. Sometimes wicked deeds can destroy wicked things.
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