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A Cage for the Wind

A Cage for the Wind by [Dave Matthes]

To be fair, the reader has been warned that they will be “helplessly lost in an abyss of muddied and bitter confusion”. Jerry is one of the brave ones. He is brave for letting the reader see into his messy mind. He is brave for not attempting to hide the darkness inside him. He is brave for being exactly who he is, weird and disturbed as he may be. Perhaps the world would be a better place if everyone let others see them in their full glory.

Jerry has worn many hats and many masks. He has been the charming diner. He has been the office worker who does not conform or fit in. He has been the ‘jilted’ lover. He has been the unassuming courier enjoying the company of jazz on the lonely road. He has been the man who creates a marriage then goes home to a cat at the end of the day. Through his many faces, he has always been a writer and a murderer. This is the story of Jerry and all his different selves. It is the story of a man who has been through a lot, done a lot, and most of all, gotten away with a lot. Is it his upbringing? Is it his inborn nature?

When a book starts off with an oedipal confession then you know it is going to be a treat. In that moment, you know that Jerry is not going to be an ordinary person. Rarely do people come back from watching the mounds of their mother’s breasts peek out of the bathwater as she cries about something she never talks about.

Even when he does or says something particularly disturbing, Jerry is almost likable. Maybe it is because of the pity he inspires. He has a way of manipulating the reader into rooting for him despite his actions and character. He does nothing to be liked but somehow, he is. The writer does not describe him but a reader will know him. Jerry is the alter ego we all hide from the world and only allow him out in dark empty rooms. The crass narration of events is funny and abhorrent in equal measure.

The book ends just like it begins; in confusion. The writer often misspells the name ‘Agnes’. While it does not happen often, it causes a measure of distraction on the pages it does happen. Considering the type of writing in this book, any other errors will go unnoticed as Jerry keeps the reader gripped and their eyes stuck on the pages.

Ever gone by a gruesome accident with brain matter sprawled on the ground and limbs bent unnaturally as screams of agony fill the air? Ever found yourself staring, almost savoring the smell of hot blood and listening to the lull of fading pulses? That is what this book is. It is a hot but intriguing mess. A Cage for the Wind is daring. It is messy. It is the book you whisper about to everyone. Dave Matthes has executed a beautiful literary tangled web.

Pages: 152 | ASIN: B09D43RBRH

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Heroes of Afflatus: Book 2 The Blue Butterfly

Heroes of Afflatus: Book 2 The Blue Butterfly by [C.R. Endacott]

Avery, the truth wizard, and her friends catch wind of Depravity’s next target: the Faerie World. The insidious being seeks to kill the blue butterfly, the last seal preventing it from returning to full strength. But, while Avery’s and her friends’ mission is clear – stop Depravity again and protect the blue butterfly – it’s far from straightforward.

First, they have to find the entrance to the Faerie World. Unfortunately, things take a terrible turn when Avery is kidnapped by Depravity’s stone minions. In a race against time, Jared, Garon, and Carson, with the help of unlikely allies, must rescue Avery before she’s drained of all her magic and stop Depravity.

The Blue Butterfly is the second entry in C.R Endacott’s Heroes of Afflatus Series. The series centers on a group of regular teenagers who find their way into a magical realm where they become heroes by taking on daring missions.

With fantasy at its core, Endacott’s book is imaginative. But thankfully, the author understands that fantasy doesn’t have to be complicated to be thrilling. Instead, the author delights with simple and well-defined otherworldly elements and characters while relying on the strength of the plot to keep readers engaged.

The prose is also compelling. With a mix of characters brimming with personality, high stakes, and resonating themes, Endacott gets you to believe in his story.

I also enjoyed symbolisms like the depiction of Depravity as the villain and how Endacott argues that Depravity is found in the choices we make. The world’s evil is not conjured by some intangible entity but by man’s choices. Likewise, the existing good stems from our decisions.

Treat me to a delightfully pulsating ending and you’ve won yourself a fan. Safe to say, Endacott’s won a new cheerleader. But even with pom poms in hand, I’ll confess that I had a few head-scratching moments where characters inexplicably acted ignorant about story elements they previously interacted with. I’m still a fan of the fresh and fluid writing though.

The Blue Butterfly is an exciting coming of age adventure story that excellently takes this fantasy story to the next level. I hope the next part in the Heroes of Afflatus series is just as good or even better.

Pages: | ASIN: B099NYG3YV

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VAMPIRE’S DAY: EPICENTER

VAMPIRE’S DAY: EPICENTER: Epic horror full of vampire madness. Walking Dead meets Call of Duty. Vampire sun has risen (VAMPIRE'S DAY Book 1) by [YURI HAMAGANOV]

Book 1 of Yuri Hamaganov’s Vampire’s Day series is a tumultuous and chaotic exploration of a mass vampire attack on both the government and the military, but mostly on the city of Los Angeles. It is a violent, no-holds-barred thrill ride into all the different nuances of the attack, from all possible sides involved. The story begins on an otherwise typical morning in Los Angeles, where at the LAX airport Flight 263 lands, bringing with it violence, shootings, and what most believe to be an organized terrorist attack. The true horror that this attack unveils over the course of the narrative involves no terrorists, and instead the reader learns that this attack has been methodically planned for years as a way for the vampires to assert absolute control over the city.

The reader gets thrown into the action in this faced paced vampire thriller making this an intense read from start to finish. The reader gets to see  different perspectives of the characters in the story making them more relatable. At times I wasn’t sure what new perspective I was reading from because there are a lot of characters in the story but this didn’t take away from my overall enjoyment of the story. In a post apocalyptic world fighting for survival you don’t have time to take a deep dive into someone’s life, but maybe book 2 will have more character development.

Hamaganov’s world building and descriptions are deep and detailed and serve to create an immersive atmosphere. The reader is able to clearly visualize what the character’s are doing and what their surroundings look like. I found the gun and armor talk to be interesting as I know nothing about weapons and Hamaganov’s extensive knowledge is impressive—at times it was almost as if I was reading a military artillery manual.

Vampire’s Day is a suspenseful horror with blood and action galore. Fans of fast paced and hard hitting action will have plenty to devour in this sensational apocalyptic adventure.

Pages: 311 | ASIN: B07X1G58PJ

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Strands of Existence 2

Strands of Existence 2: Sea of Shadows by [Aino Lahteva]

Strands of Existence 2: Sea of Shadows by Aino Lahteva follows Istrae, a woman who is a reincarnation of a women who set out to change herself in order to rule properly. Istrae knows some of the past but there is still much more to learn as she figures out who she is in the middle of a war. Sea of Shadows is the second book in the Strands of Existence series and is a unique epic fantasy story that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Sea of Shadows is a slow burn type of story, or at least it felt like that to me because it took be a bit to get into, I think because the novel feels different from book one in the Strands of Existence series. Istrae continues to be our main character, and continues to be as compelling and fun to follow as before. I was intrigued by Istrae, at least after she stopped being so apathetic about everything. It is hard to cheer for someone who just does not care, but I think that is the point here and it is executed so well that it had me bubbling, and few books do that.

The city is split into districts, and they are big, and it was interesting to see how war affected them. The world continues to develop in this story and I really enjoyed the detailed world being built in this series.

While I’m not a 100% sure how the magic system works, it is unique and captivating, but still has enough familiarity that I can follow along and get behind it. I loved how grounded it felt, taking this out of the realm of fairy tale fantasy and making it feel much more authentic, or at least as authentic as ‘magic’ can get.

I was intrigued by how the action played out in the fight for the city and was rooting for Istrae and her side. I was disappointed that the book ended where it did. But that is only because I want to see what happens next and how Istrae is going to fix the world.

Strands of Existence 2: Sea of Shadows has unique magic and city districts that make this epic sword and sorcery fantasy story feel distinct and interesting. I highly recommend reading book one in the series first, as there is a lot of great story you will be missing if you don’t.

Pages: 394 | ASIN: B08VLLHXQZ

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Who We Are and Who We Become

PAUL BURGOYNE
Paul Burgoyne Author Interview

Two Seasons relives the two years that shaped the narrators life and explores questions of identity and belonging in a quickly changing world. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

One thing we all share is the need to belong, a need which is especially acute in childhood. I have uncomfortable memories of trying to fit in, believing I could make that happen through sports accomplishments. The story grew out of the sense of disappointment when my best efforts failed to produce the desired results.

Boone is an intriguing character. What were some driving ideals behind his character’s development?

Boone is not simply a sports-obsessed child, he is an observer. He notices when things aren’t going right but he has no outlet. He is a reader, and as an only child, books are his companions. They open his eyes to a bigger world than the small town where he lives. He is also curious and resourceful. When adults won’t provide answers to his questions, he keeps prodding for and assembling the scraps he receives into a coherent version of “the truth”. This question emerged: would Boone become insightful enough to take the steps that would help him cope with his life-situation?

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

The most important theme was identity. How do we develop our sense of who we are and where we fit in the world? Does our sense of identity shape our choices or do our choices shape our sense of identity? By observing the life of a young boy struggling with a confusing family dynamic, I hoped to consider how family, friends, mentors (in person or in print), along with our own mental processes, help shape who we are and who we become.

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

I’m working on another novel this time focused on a young adult. I want to examine the idea of character change. My protagonist will be a fault-filled person beginning to recognize his failures and working hit-and-miss on becoming a better person. He will need a great deal of help along the way! It’s still early but I hope to have the first draft finished by summer 2022.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Is it like father, like son?
His father is growing more erratic every day and 11-year-old Boone Martin wants to know – is it true? Like father like son? As his twisted family breaks apart, Boone clings to baseball, his one foothold in life. But it’s winter when his father moves out.
In summer, his best friend Rocky expects him to pitch Omak Little League to a third straight State championship – no pressure there – and former big-leaguer Lou Debrunes shows Boone a way out, the perfect curveball. His mother becomes more friendly with Coach as each game passes – is it Boone’s job to keep her trust issues from messing up a good thing?
Set in the fruit-growing town of Omak, Washington, Two Seasons is narrated by an adult Boone Martin reliving the two years that most shaped his life. More than a baseball story, Two Seasonsexplores the questions of identity and belonging in a shifting world rocked by the assassinations and anti-war movement of 1968.

A Country Among Countries

A Country Among Countries (Harmony Book 3) by [R.L. Dean, Crissha Figarella, J. N. McLaughlin]

A Country Among Countries by R.L. Dean is a science fiction thriller with deep socio-political commentary. The lives of many characters are intertwined and move towards a satisfying climax. Tetsuya is concerned with ideas of justice and duties and carries the burden of his past mistakes as a cop. Misaki and Middleton are caught up in a complicated game of loyalty and trust where neither can give up their secrets without harming the other. Compton is a soldier struggling with the pressure of tough decisions that lay ahead of him. The UN is intending the economic ruin of Mars by creating a dependence on the businesses on Earth. All of them are connected through Ganymede, a planet where the assassination of Governor Jung had occurred.

There are interesting illustrations woven throughout by R.L. Dean that builds a delightful tension before the chapters. All the characters are given a rich inner life. All their motivations and behavior came from a natural place. I almost felt like I was part of their group, and that is definitely the biggest strength of this book. The characters are three-dimensional and feel alive that you can’t help but feel that this is happening somewhere in an alternate universe. The banter between Asha and her dad was endearing and adorable. There’s also a lot of diversity in the characters- even though some of their origins are not explicitly mentioned, a variety of cultures are portrayed in a realistic manner. In the science fiction that I have encountered, this is a pretty uncommon element, but greatly appreciated. On the flip side, there are hordes of characters present in this book. So it was a little hard keeping track of all of them, but I found that making a note of their names and the relations in a text file helped.

Of course, since it is a science fiction novel, there were some fantastic and fascinating gadgets and devices- like the air recycler systems and the “boxes of water” in hatch pads. I was intrigued by the descriptions of the different spaceships and the inter-space transportation. There are some parts of the story that felt like a commentary on the ongoing political situation in some countries. Especially when a character shares the same name as a leader of one of the most populous countries in the world. However, this didn’t bother me much as the fictional aspect is obviously kept at the forefront.

A Country Among Countries is a thrilling space adventure, with something in it for everyone, especially for people interested in examining the modern political world from a new perspective.

Pages: 265 | ASIN: B08PSBYZB2

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Witches, Warlocks, Wolves and Such

Author Interview
Titus Murphy Author Interview

What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?

Well, it started off as a love story and that continued to be the prevailing theme throughout book 1, as Mark and Sharon’s relationship continued to blossom. But later, the idea of the town of Black Oak took on a life of its own, with the people, the history and the setting evolved. It was so organic, that I had to cultivate that and build it out, so that as the love with Mark and Sharon grew, so did the richness of the narrative in the town, paralleling one another perfectly. As the sequels to book 1 are written, I think readers will be delighted as to how the landscape vastly changes and brings them along on a journey they least expect. I like to dramatically shift the prose of the story so that people are never comfortable or find themselves reading a predictable novel. You have to be prepared for something ‘new’ each time you crack open the next book. That’s why the first books is titled as “Chapter 1.”

How did the mystery develop for this story? Did you plan it before writing or did it develop organically?

I have always been intrigued with the paranormal; a world beyond the natural that peeks into the spiritual one. Black Oak is a town that is immersed in a rich fictional history of witches, warlocks, wolves and such, that people will find familiar as the art of storytelling is concerned, but the original spin that did with the traditional stories of old, makes it feel rich and new. That was the why of the story, but the mystery – the what and the how – came about in the characters and how their individuals lives play out over time. Each person is linked to the past of Black Oak, while having their own issues in the present that they must deal with, like ordinary people do all the time. I started with the past as a foundation for their narratives, and then the organic growth of each person came about by their present day tales that are quite natural and relatable to the reading audience.

This is Chapter 1 in The Loveless Chronicles. What can readers expect in Chapter 2?

Escalation! It will all be bigger. Everything in Chapter 2 will be directly linked to the setup of the story in Chapter 1. The characters’ story arcs will be bigger, the setting widens – with new locations being brought into the mix – and the action revs up as we get more paranormal themes weaved into the prose. Also, the backstory about Navartis is further explained to give a depth to the story that most people are not expecting. Readers will be un for a real treat.

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads

WELCOME TO BLACK OAK!

In the town of Black Oak, nothing is ever what it seems. Besides the wrangling local country-types, the city is marred by a history of indiscretions, murders, and no-named civilians perpetrating as heroes. But beneath the surface of this “run of the mill,” Midwestern locale lurks a pervasive past that is about to come full circle: like a blazing blood moon. Mark is an unassuming trucker who has fallen for a beautiful clerk working at a “Mom & Pop” store named Sharon, and nothing else in the world matters more than stealing her heart. But after making a run into the Bayou to deliver a package, destiny steps in and serves him a plate of “the unexpected,” which sparks the flames of wickedness that will set his hometown ablaze. And as the secrets buried in this town begin to unearth, the truth will fan those burning flames until there is nothing left but ashes and chaos. In the end, the only mystery left to solve will be if this is isolated to one town or involve the fate of the entire world…

The Next Life Universe

James G.  Robertson
James G. Robertson Author Interview

Afterworld follows Leon as he discovers a new world after death and explores questions of life and the afterlife. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?

As you rightly identified in your book review, there were various religious aspects in my book. As a child, I was raised to be a Christian, and since have found myself towards a more agnostic approach in life for many different reasons.

The story is built on that from start to finish while adding in ideas of other religions and gods. If they are indeed real, who is to say one way or another for sure and what is undoubtedly right or wrong in the grand scheme?

So that’s where the story came from which I started back around 2010. When my grandfather passed away in February, that is when I got back to completing the book.

Leon is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character development?

Both Leon and his grandfather are actually heavily inspired by my own life and my grandfather’s. My grandfather was a farmer and always did his best to help people as he could, and others did the same for him

when he was battling his cancer and no longer able to farm his wheat fields. I created Leon knowing those factors, and what I strive to do is to help those around me, best I can. I honestly do find our world more mundane than not, you see fantasy movies and read stories, and the possibilities are endless; yet, we seem to be stuck in a world full of the mundane. So I guess you could say that the way I was raised, and what I’ve learned over the years from taking a look at myself are essential factors behind his development. There is still plenty of room for growth in both Leon, and myself, so hopefully, you’ll see that when the sequel finds itself completed.

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

Humanity, as a whole, can do some extraordinary things if we are willing to come together. We just need to be willing to set aside our own aspirations and greed for only a little. You definitely get a glimpse of what humanity has the capabilities to do, both on the positive, and on the grim darker side. Other than religion, my political nature definitely played a role in this book. I think, for the most part, we are starting to see people come together more as a society than run apart. You can see this through things such as the European Union, United Nations, WHO, etc. Even if they are not perfect, and some actors shouldn’t be in the positions they are, it at least gives hopes that our world is closer. The fact that we are willing to communicate at all to solve things shows just that. This doesn’t always work, but it is better than if it weren’t there at all.

This is book one in your Next Life series. What can readers expect in book two?

So, this is where things get a little bit complicated. The Next Life series deals directly with Leon and his journey and struggles with the events in Afterworld and our universe. There is also the Next Life Universe series which is where the website gets its name, which may or may not be connected directly with Leon or even with each other. I’m building a universe that I like to call the mix between Stephen King and DC comics. The next book coming out is The Ripper which deals with the mysterious story of Jack the Ripper in a whole new perspective on the character. This will eventually be woven in with the Next Life series, so it’s worth the read. The third book will be The Desperado’s Tale which then tells of someone from a different world, that’s all I’ll say about that one. Then finally we pick back up with Leon in my 4th book Untitled (Next Life, #2). This will deal with Leon upon his return to Earth and in search of an ancient weapon. Along the way, you will see him encountering those that linger in the shadows. You will get a glimpse of this aspect in The Ripper, but it will be expanded upon in this book. Then there will be the witches and others that Leon will come in contact with and you’ll see how those relationships develop. All this as he tries to make his way back to Afterworld in a race against time. For every day on Earth, there are 100 days that pass by there.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Website

Mundane and boring was how Leon perceived the world. Earth had already been explored and claimed, but he never thought critically about why there was such a great separation of humanity. Nor had he thought about why there were so many different religions in the world. Leon never genuinely contemplated what would happen after death. Like many before, he never understood the truth of the universe. That all changed when a fateful camping trip took a turn for the worst. After falling into a new world, the truths of advanced science, magic, gods, and human savagery would all be showcased in all their glory. Both in a new light, and new disturbing darkness, would the truths of Earth and Afterworld give him a greater understanding of the universe; or in turn, break him as they have done to so many before?
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