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You’re Not In Control

L B Arthur
L B Arthur Author Interview

Ariessy of Midgard follows a young woman who finds her world turned upside down by a series of events that will challenge her like never before. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I think all kids feel like they don’t belong or fit in at a certain point in their teens. It feels as though you’re not in control of anything, and I wanted to portray that in Ariessy’s life.

Ariessy is an intriguing and well-developed character. What were some driving ideals behind her character’s development?

I used to be a host mother to some wonderful foreign teenagers who were studying here in the UK, and each of them made up a part of Ariessy’s character. It isn’t easy to adjust to a new country, with a different language, social expectations, food, traditions etc. Ariessy finds out there’s a good reason why she feels the way she does, which in some ways comes as a relief, but it’s also tough for her to adjust to a whole new way of seeing herself and the world. I think every teenager finds it difficult to accept restrictions, even when they’re put in place for their own protection, and it takes some time for Ariessy to adjust, so her development could only go so far in book one. We see her transform completely in book two.

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

Self-acceptance, Belonging, Respect and responsibility for the natural world, and accepting our limits. Ariessy fights as hard as she can, she saves a life and avenges her attacker, but she needs a bit of help to get to the finish line. We all need someone to help us walk that extra mile sometimes, and that’s okay.

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

My next book is the follow up to this one. It’s titled Ariessy of Odinstone, and I’m hoping to publish it early next year.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website

Two Races — One Law — Zero Tolerance

On the verge of losing her father to a mysterious illness, seventeen-year-old Seiva Ariessy Taylor must take drastic measures to cure him.
When the authorities question her, matters take a turn for the worse and the Veurrulfar — a shapeshifting race from Nidavellir — reveal a long-held secret that changes her life for ever.
Ariessy must learn who she can trust before it’s too late.

Is freedom worth dying for — or can her secret save her?

Set in South Wales, United Kingdom. Ariessy of Midgard is an emotional urban fantasy adventure with hidden magic, mythical creatures, and a fantastic combination of mystery and mythology that will keep you turning pages.

Burn The Sky: Part One: Hope

Burn The Sky: Part One: Hope by [Lee Breeze, Amanda Breeze]

Burn the Sky: Part One Hope, is the first book in a post-apocalyptic series written by Lee and Amanda Breeze. The story is full of action, has a charming young protagonist and a richly described setting.

Eight-year-old Jayne Doe is the main character in this story. Thrust into an unfamiliar world, she has lost the people she loves and the home she is happy in. She has to quickly develop from a naïve eight-year-old to a girl mature beyond her years. Jayne’s character is methodically developed and feels very authentic. Although she works hard to develop survival skills and listen to her guardian, she is equally interested in normal eight-year-old activities such as reading novels and watching the ‘visiontube’. Along her journey Jayne meets many people, including her ‘guardian’, whom she becomes close to. There are also other characters central to the story including Sage Solon and Gaius, however although they are interesting and have a vital part are not as fully described and developed as Jayne.

The setting is an integral part of this story. From the dull and cold feeling buildings of Gotthard to the refugee camp Hope – full of destitute shacks but warmed by care and compassion. The authors do a fantastic job of describing each setting, their vivid descriptions provide an interestingly sharp contrast from sterile and dull, destitute shacks and the leafy greens and bright colors of the forest. All of the setting descriptions quickly draw the reader into the story, and make the story come alive.

Burn the Sky has an interesting structure. A map and glossary appear at the start of the book and are helpful in interpreting the story. The story is divided into thirteen chapters, that are thoughtfully titled. The story immediately draws the reader into it, as Jayne is rescued from the burning world around her. The story then follows her journey as she is transported to new homes, and a new family. Interwoven in her journey are chapters told from other perspectives and points of view. Although these are interesting, the different narrators and numerous characters left me confused at times.

Burn the Sky, Hope is a riveting science fiction novel with an intriguing main character and an alluring plot that makes this a stand out post-apocalyptic story.

Pages: 254 | ASIN: B097Z466XG

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Amber Tambourine and the Land of Laugh-a-Lot

Amber Tambourine and the Land of Laugh-a-Lot by [Aimee C Trafton]

Amber Tambourine and the Land of Laugh-a-Lot follows a little girl who takes her dogs for a walk in the woods after the rain stops. As they make their way through the woods Amber discovers a polka dotted rainbow that leads to the magical town of Laugh-a-Lot where everything is polka dotted and the people sing and dance all day.

This is a wonderfully imaginative children’s book that, like Alice in Wonderland, leads the main character and readers into a wonderous land where odd but fun things happen. The art is vivid and sharp and really accents the kaleidoscopic nature of Laugh-a-Lot. Children will have plenty of eye candy to enjoy in this book as Amber dances and sings the day away.

The story is easy to follow and understand, with some challenging words for young readers that will help build their vocabulary. When the fun ends and Amber returns home I was delighted to learn that her mother was in Laugh-a-Lot as a child too. This gives the story a fairy tale like quality with a deeper backstory than a simple child’s picture book often offers.

Amber Tambourine and the Land of Laugh-a-Lot is a delightful picture book that takes readers on a colorful journey to a land where having fun is easy.

Pages: 30 | ASIN: B095653NH6

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Bending to Break

Bending to Break (A Before I Break Novel Book 1) by [A. L. Hartwell]

Olivia Heart, a young lawyer, traumatized after losing her parents at 13, led most of her life with her guard up, shutting out her feelings. One night she finds herself kidnapped by a rich and dangerous Italian man named Luca. Blinded by his obsession and insane desire for her, he does everything to protect her yet she feels trapped and almost violated. As the two start spending more time together, she discovers a new vulnerable side to him which surprises her. But Luca has too many secrets and unresolved mysteries. Will Olivia be able to navigate safely through this situation or succumb to the pressure?

Ending with a cliffhanger this book is the first in a series that keeps readers engaged throughout the length of the novel. An absolute page turner, with interesting personalities and dynamic characters like Dante who provides some comic relief while Luca remains an attractive yet dangerous man.

There are certain situations that strip Olivia of dignity which can be disturbing for some. The issue of consent becomes so blurred in the story that it seems to suggest a possible romance between the protagonists as one is left to wonder whether any mystery could ever justify Luca’s unhinged and toxic behavior towards Olivia. Even when she fights to gain control, it ultimately rests with Luca to give her what little agency she has. This provides for some emotionally-charged and thought-provoking commentary on relationships, making this one of the most provocative romance novels I have read this year.

The way in which the story alternates between Olivia and Luca’s perspective provides readers with a glimpse into their complex psychology and internal monologues. This intimacy which the characters reflect, portray them as flawed and humane, inviting readers to further relate with their predicament.

Bending to Break is a compelling romance novel that provides readers with a racy psychological thriller that is hard to put down.

Pages: 342 | ASIN: B095PVGMRB

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A Stranger in the Clearing

A Stranger in the Clearing: In the Woods Series by [Victoria Smith, Marcela Werkema]

A Stranger in the Clearing is a wonderful children’s picture book that follows a golden retriever named Sequoia who comes across a Piebald Deer in a forest clearing. The young deer is hiding and doesn’t want to return home. After some investigation Sequoia realizes the deer ran away from home to keep her family safe because her unique look makes her stand out to hunters. They both soon realize that what makes the deer unique is not its color but its boundless courage.

The illustrations in this children’s book are absolutely phenomenal. Each page has a sprayed graphic art with a soft color palette and striking contrasts, giving each piece an artistic look but ensuring the faces of the many adorable creatures throughout the story are all emotive. This is a perfect children’s story for parents to read to their kids at night. It reminds me of classic pieces of fairy tale literature, poetic lines coupled with the beautiful art to deliver a sentimental but enchanting story.

The story conveys some very important lessons told in a direct and easy to understand manner. We learn that it is not what we look like that defines us, but our actions. Sequoia, ever welcoming and loving, encourages the young deer and ensures her that the animals in the forest will love her for who she is.

A Stranger in the Clearing is an inspiring and colorful children’s book that teaches a valuable lesson in an easy to understand and heartwarming story.

Pages: 38 | ASIN: B08PDQF2Q3

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Speaking One’s Truth

Maria Ereni Dampman
Maria Ereni Dampman Author Interview

Emma is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Emma is the epitome of the saying “Women are like tea bags – you have no idea how strong they are until you put them in hot water.” In the early pages of the novel, Emma is literally dying under the exorbitant suppression of her spirit. At times she believes death to be better than living the future that has been planned out for her. Her rebellious nature and need for freedom she’s been taught are both sinful and unlawful, and she honestly believes something is wrong with her because she cannot submit and simply do what she’s told.

Emma has a lot to lose in this new America if she continues to rebel, with many of her actions putting at risk of execution if she’s caught. Yet her desire for truth, freedom and autonomy outweighs her fears. When she realizes the lies she and the rest of the nation are being told by her father, the government and the new national church, it only spurs her on to determine the truth for herself. Although terrified, she persists in her search for knowledge, and that knowledge forces her to act.

The novel is also a cautionary tale that warns of what will happen if our increasingly divisive culture carries on this ill-fated path. In recent years, our population has become more and more split on financial, ideological and political ideologies. Discourse is becoming more and more intolerant between different groups, with a frightening increase in the “-isms” that only serve to push us further apart. We are rapidly becoming a nation of hate and suspicion, two mindsets that will only lead to the unraveling of our nation. If we want to prevent our nation from becoming what’s written in The Governor’s Daughter, now is the time for us to draw together before it’s too late.

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

The biggest theme of this novel is the importance of voice and speaking one’s truth. I wrote this novel after watching the Kavanaugh Senate confirmation hearings, and in particular, the testimony of Dr. Ford. For many women, watching her come forward only to have her testimony thoroughly disregarded was an enraging ordeal. Especially for women who have also suffered sexual assault, the injustice of his appointment was devastating. Like Dr. Ford, when I was much younger, I suffered greatly after a sexual assault. When I came forward, I was talked out of pressing charges being told no one would believe me. I was so frightened of things becoming worse that I let them silence me. I will forever regret not coming forward when I found out later how the man who assaulted me went on to victimize other women.

When watching the hearings, I was angry that women all over the world were still getting the same ridiculous message I was told nearly 30 years ago. I worried about the young women watching this who might be thinking what’s the point of coming forward if someone as credible as Dr. Ford’s testimony means nothing? If I’m ever assaulted, who is going to believe me if no one believes her? I felt like in one afternoon, all of the gains made in the #metoo movement were flushed down the toilet.

So, when I began writing, I wanted to write a story where the actions of one woman, even one as initially powerless and broken as Emma, manages to not only pull herself together, but comes to truly believe her voice is important. Her actions are important. The desires she has and what she wants out of life are important because she is important. This theme is pervasive in the upcoming novels as well, where characters from all sorts of backgrounds use their words and actions to make a positive change in their world.

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

The Prodigal Daughter is the second novel in the four-book Daughters of the New American Revolution series. It picks up right where The Governor’s Daughter left off and continues Emma’s thrilling story. It is scheduled to be released in December 2021.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Don’t believe what The New State Press tells you.
Nineteen year-old Emma Bellamy is not a “good girl.”

She’s sick of the men who treat her like property, the endless Purity Protocols to which she must conform, and the brutal consequences when she inevitably fails. With a recalcitrant mind and headstrong nature, Emma continually questions the policies of the White Nationalist government, the suffocating patriarchy of a corrupt Universal Church and her uber-powerful father, the revered Governor. When she determines that everything she’s been taught to believe is based on lies, Emma disobeys in the most ruinous way yet – she sets out to find the truth for herself.

And she doesn’t give a damn if that makes her a “bad girl.”

In a clandestine journey beyond the razor-wire topped walls of the Premier City, Emma is faced with the reality of what ninety-eight percent of the population faces. Extreme poverty. Disease. Unchecked police violence. Civil war in the 20s leveled cities and killed millions, leaving the masses broken, dispirited and unable to ever again threaten the Committee’s reign. In her travels, Emma finds a few brave souls who dare to resist, risking everything to live their lives by their own rules. Now she must choose. Does she doom herself to an unfulfilled but privileged life? Or does she risk everything for a chance at a future filled with purpose, passion and freedom?

Mangrove Sands

Mangrove Sands: The Enchanted Sea World by [L. J. Nilsson]

Imagine having a dream that included all of your closest friends. You are swooped away hearing promises of future adventures below the sea to worlds beyond your wildest imagination. Your dream is so very vivid and involved that you wake up recalling you were ultimately sworn to secrecy. Picture waking up from this most amazing and magical experience, rushing to tell your friends about it all the while believing that everything you saw, touched, and felt was a fantastic figment of your imagination. Now, imagine listening as your friends describe for you the same dream down to the very last detail.

Mangrove Sands: The Enchanted Sea World, by L.J. Nilsson, takes four friends who all seemed destined for uncertain futures and are living far less than ideal lives and gives them a most magical experience. This short fantasy adventure story is a quick read that hands young readers relatable characters for whom they will be more than happy to cheer.

Nilsson caught this elementary teacher in the first chapter with the detailed descriptions of each of the four children. It is not often young readers get to see four characters all having either disabilities or suffering from some type of tragedy or abuse. Many stories may feature one of this character type, but to see so many as main characters is refreshing and gives me hope. Children need to see themselves reflected in the books they read, and seeing children they essentially know in Tommy, Maria, Jake, and Dino is uplifting to say the least.

One of the most captivating aspects of Nilsson’s work is the joy clearly conveyed in each of the main characters. Their everyday lives are such a stark contrast to the pure unfettered delight the children feel as they take this new path. They deserve happiness in massive doses, and the reader is witness to all of their discoveries, their joyful outbursts, and the colorful way in which the author describes their eagerness for more adventures.

Nilsson has developed a beautiful adventure story that also spreads a message of hope to its readers. Mangrove Sands: The Enchanted Sea World builds on the curiosity of youth, the power of dreams, and contains a strong message of kindness. It is just what today’s young readers need to feel. As it will appeal to readers of mixed genres, I would recommend Nilsson’s work to any upper elementary teacher looking to add a touching and heartfelt adventure story to their library.

Pages: 108 | ASIN: B087N5QGDT

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It All Came Together

Angelina Marie
Angelina Marie Author Interview

If The Mountain Were Smooth follows a troubled young woman who finds herself in the middle of a far reaching scandal where she’s forced to make hard decisions. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

While the vast majority of the novel is pure fiction, elements of the story are very much based in reality. This, I believe, adds an element of realism and believability to “If the Mountain Were Smooth.” I thought to myself, What if things in this situation had gone a different way? and What if this person had been more of a jerk than they actually were? and What if this person had gotten caught? It was certainly a lot of extrapolations and “what ifs,” but I believe it all came together quite nicely in the end.

Gabriella is a compelling and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind her character’s development?

Gabriella’s character was inspired by a compilitation of several ideas: one’s character is an ever-evolving theme, no one is perfect, working through one’s problems is often more thrilling than physical violence and much, much more. Oftentimes, an author will place themselves too much in the main character, creating an idealized protagonist whose main flaw is that they “care too much for other people” or “are too heroic to let anyone down.” While this often makes for a very compelling and successful narrative (think Harry Potter), I wanted a more “human” main character who adults and young adults could relate to through her flaws. I also find gratuitous violence annoying, although strategic elements of violence can be quite potent. Fred Rogers, the man behind the childhood television show Mr. Rogers, said in a testimony to the Senate Committee on Communications in 1969, “I feel that if we in public television can only make it clear that feelings are mentionable and manageable, we can do a great service for mental health. I think that it’s much more dramatic that two men could be working out their feelings of anger than showing something of gunfire.” 52 years later, the entertainment industry still hasn’t listened to Rogers’s advice. I hope my novel shows how Gabby’s fight to overcome the demons inside her are more dramatic, realistic and important than any physical violence could be.

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

I very much hoped to explore the topic of overcoming personal trials and tribulations. I focused part one of the novel on Gabby’s mental development, as well as overcoming the loss of her confusing, whirlwind romantic relationship. The burgeoning romance was meant not to be a replacement for her past relationship, but an addition to her already-fulfilled life in the absence of it. I also wanted to address the issues of mental health and overcoming trauma. Part two of the novel was mainly focused on the theme of civil rights and the gay rights era we are currently experiencing in this country. I hope those who read the book will have at least a small idea of how important it was to me to say that we are all equal and important, regardless of our race, sexual orientation or sex.

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

Great question! I have written a non-fiction book on French romantic art, which I have published as soon as possible. It was reviewed by my favorite professor from college, Dr. Susan Scott. I wrote it in order to get my degree in Art History and, now that it’s completed with citations and proper formatting and editing, I think it’s worthy of publication. I also am working on another novel, which I won’t give too many details about. Let’s just say, it may be based on a popular Disney princess!

Author Links: Facebook | GoodReads | Website

“If the Mountain Were Smooth” tells the story of a troubled twenty-year-old trying to find herself in New York City. In the midst of a troubling scandal, involving high-level military personnel and civil rights, Gabby must make difficult decisions that will affect not only her life, but the lives of those around her. This fast-paced, emotion-driven novel pulls at the hearts of readers.

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