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White Sands Gold

White Sands Gold by Mike Torreano is a classic Western story set in the late 18th century in New Mexico, America. The story starts with Yancy, who is searching Victoria mountain for the pile of gold his father died trying to find. He discovers a hidden entrance but is buried beneath stone rubble before he can finish exploring the cave. Back at home, his twin sister Lottie waits for him, knowing full well that people come back from the mountain empty-handed or they don’t come back at all.

The story does one thing and does it well – it’s a Western. There are dry plains, guns, plenty of horse-riding, and some shoot-outs, and the scene wouldn’t be complete without a failing ranch in the middle of nowhere that no one visits without a purpose. While the story sticks to its roots, it nonetheless shows that it was written recently. There are several protagonists sharing the spotlight, and one of them is a strong woman who never relies on a man if she doesn’t have to. There are men who are cool but are open about their feelings at the same time. And there’s also a matriarch who doesn’t need to raise her voice to assert dominance in a room of rowdy boys.

The plot is thrilling, the characters are lively, and even the romantic subplot is slow and steady, making it seem more believable than a rushed romance just to include romance. Both pairs are on equal footing in the relationship, which is also very nice to see, especially since the story is set in a time when women had much less power than men. It is a great intro to western literature for anyone interested in these kinds of stories but not knowing where to start.

White Sands Gold is a captivating historical Western mystery that gives readers everything they love about the old west. With characters that are relatable, readers will be engaged and invested in the story’s outcome. This is a novel readers will think about after the story is done.

Pages: 313| ASIN : B0B3714RXS

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New World Order

For Tristan Hart, conflict means one thing: money. Raised and trained as an elite mercenary by Institute VI, nothing else has ever mattered. Emotions were for the weak, not the successful. One job too many, and Tristan finds himself treading a dangerous line between the Federation and the United Separatist Coalition – a revolutionary group looking to protect the people. Buried neck-deep in politics, forced to see the world for how it really is, Tristan is forced to find his place in the impending uprising and decide which side is worth fighting for. Whether he likes it or not, there’s no place for the impartial. Not anymore. New World Order by Robert Slaughter and Jerry Brown is an action-packed, sci-fi adventure filled with politics, betrayal, and just a splash of romance.

In this book, Slaughter and Brown do a masterful job of creating an exciting and vast world filled with many different characters with conflicting needs and ideals. In a provocative and clever story, the authors know how to hold their audience’s attention with every word. I found myself holding onto the edge of my seat, unsure about what would happen next but excited.

The world-building is extensive and detailed, transporting readers into the action and giving them a complete understanding of what the characters are up against. The story is a breath of fresh air adding new twists to traditional sci-fi tropes. Readers won’t know what to expect next or who to trust. The pacing is wonderfully done, the story is interesting, and the characters are diverse and fun.

New World Order is a thrilling science fiction novel that has non-stop action. The adventure that the readers are taken on is filled with suspense as they wait to see what the next twist in the plotline is. I recommend this book to someone with a deep love of complex science fiction novels. As a long-time sci-fi fan, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and I can’t wait for more from Slaughter and Brown.

Pages: 454 | ASIN : B09X6PTPTV

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Tales From An Odd Mind

Tales From an Odd Mind is a collection of somewhat strange short stories and poems that may seem to have little in common at a glance. Still, on deeper examination, they explore the same overarching theme of death and present an emotional portrait of humanity in all its effervescent diversity. The author chooses to write anonymously, under the name of ‘Nom D Plume,’ literally meaning pseudonym or pen name, but is known to firmly deny their works from having any autobiographical elements. So, it is interesting to note how personal and intimate each character appears to be, with detailed habits and traits established well within the short stories despite their brevity.

The most attractive feature of these stories is their unpredictability. Every dialogue or plot detail gives the illusion of leading us somewhere, only to surprise us with a sudden turn of events that is totally unanticipated by the reader. In the first story, for instance, we never expect the introduction of a new character towards the end of the story, but what makes it even more intriguing is how the ultimate effect of the story is never compromised. This deliberate way of an absence of foreshadowing gives the pieces their distinctive mysterious, and enigmatic nature.

However, as a reader, we are often left wanting more. Each story begins with a lot of promise and then collapses in on itself. Although deliberate on the author’s part, one must admit that the stories seem a little incomplete, given their abrupt endings. Are they written only as a means to an end, experimentation with the form of writing, with no interest whatsoever in the several different character developments that take place? Do they simply follow a preordained series of steps that build up with no goal to reach and no message to be delivered?

Perhaps, that is where the beauty lies, in trying to find meaning where there might not be any. Particularly poignant to this context is the back-and-forth dialogue between origin and dandelion; we struggle to understand the depth of their conversation, which is peculiarly reminiscent of pre-programmed responses of a chatbot or AI entity. Dabbling with various genres, this collection has some really powerful and compelling narratives. Recommended for all those who like reading fantasy, science fiction, or tales of reunion beyond death. 

Pages: 148 | ASIN : B08CZSX412

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Contracts For Sale

The disappearance of a wealthy CEO, corporate murder, and a ‘stealth’ company Eradication Inc. that operates below the radar providing a sophisticated hitman service: all of this forms the crux of Edward Izzi’s latest crime novel Contracts for Sale. This story begins with a chillingly efficient disposal of a well-dressed corpse in a vat of hydrofluoric acid—the perfect crime that leaves no body, no witnesses, no DNA. Paul Crawford, a journalist, along with the Chicago P.D and a news anchor Chaz Rizzo, work in a friends-and-enemies dynamic to solve the cases of Eradication Inc.’s ‘Houdini Victims’ with no discernible links to each other disappearing throughout the city of Chicago.

The irresistible lure that power and money has, coupled with the desire for revenge and control, is made very clear and is brought out well in this gritty story. Despite the millions that each of the seven shareholders of Eradication Inc. receive every year from the company’s nefarious activities, personal motives compel some of them to put out contracts against their personal enemies—something that the company strictly forbids.

The author does a good job of holding the reader’s attention with his account of the company’s workings, proven in the fact that the reader knows Eradication Inc. to be responsible for the murders within the first few chapters and is still engrossed in the story. The worlds of reporting and policing are de-glamorized in this book, with Crawford and Detective Dorian working to deadlines, reporting to superiors, and playing by the rules, something that is rarely shown in most police thrillers.

Contracts for Sale by Edwrad Izzi expertly combines strong characters, knowledgeable descriptions of Chicago’s geography and its environment, with the various fields of journalism, detectives, the mob underworld, and upscale society to tell a grounded and realistic police procedural story that is thrilling and compelling.

Pages: 334 | ASIN: B0BK4VQ21V

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Squeeze: A Romantic Adventure

Squeeze: A Romantic Adventure by Hiram Davis isn’t your usual romance novel. Following the misadventures of veteran Cooper Landry, it is filled with action, suspense, and a lot of violence.

After leaving the service, he continues to struggle with his past. He seeks change by leaving his hometown and quickly falls in love with Quinn Daltry. What follows is a classic romantic misunderstanding, but with a violent twist. Cooper ends up leaving again, convinced Quinn isn’t interested, not knowing she is in a hospital in a coma. Cooper decides to move on and takes a job in Central America, to which his lifelong friend accompanies him for the trip down. Before they know what’s hit them, the two men have been abducted by a drug cartel and are fighting for their lives. Upon discovering her love is missing, Quinn sets out to find him.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that this action-adventure novel had emotional depth as well as thrilling drama. The book takes certain clichés: a damaged hero, a loyal best friend, and a silly misunderstanding, and twists them to offer something unique in this packed genre. Cooper is an immensely likable character whose troubling past is handled well. While it is dark, it never overshadows the lighter moments of the book. All three main characters are a joy to root for because they are well-developed and compelling.

This is a story that is constantly moving, focusing more on the action and suspense rather than the romance. I enjoyed the quick pace because I always felt like we were moving forward, all the while left guessing what would happen next because the path forward is circuitous but so much fun to follow. A true page-turner. The ending, in particular, is very intense as Davis has done a great job of making you care about the characters, and readers will be invested in them by the end.

The author puts a lot of emphasis on domestic abuse early on, both Cooper and Quinn are survivors, which may upset some readers, but it’s not superfluous. The story also deals with addiction, and the violence can be quite grizzly. I can’t recommend Squeeze enough. It takes important and troubling themes and wraps them up in an exciting adventure full of violence and suspense.

Pages: 332 | ASIN : B0BHTQFVNY

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Listen for Water

Listen for Water begins by following a young teen named Dakota Starr who is having a strange dream about a fish and a drumbeat. She then returns to the real world, but the drumbeat follows her. What she managed to forget about for a second in her dream was her poor living conditions. Sharing a government-funded apartment with her deadbeat mother Ray, who she doesn’t even call mother. All her mother does is play video games and schlep around the house, leaving Dakota to fend for herself. All while trying to find enough money to buy food and attending improvisational dance lessons at her local Indigenous dance school. The story takes a drastic turn when Ray wanders into a moving truck. Dakota follows her inside, but they are closed in before she can convince Ray to come out. This begins an epic emotional journey that will change both of them, and their relationship, forever.

This is an impassioned coming-of-age story that explores addiction and family. What I really enjoyed about this poignant novel was the way in which it reversed the mother-daughter role while still showing the force of family and how it permeates our lives. But where other novels may make light of a child caring for a family this novel handles it in a substantive way. Dakota is forced to spend time with a mother that she hates, while her mother loves her like a daughter, even though Ray never provided for her like a mother would. They have an interesting dynamic and their relationship is the highlight of the novel, and one that readers will be thinking about long after they put the book down. Through the story, the two characters get to know each other for the first time, while also making new discoveries about one another and themselves. In a way I think this story is a character study; of two characters. And a dissection of a troubled relationship. I found it all immensely compelling.

This book will resonate with anyone facing similar issues as Dakota as the story is grounded and the emotions feel authentic. The author really plants the reader in Dakota’s head, not just through the first person perspective, but also by using words a girl Dakota’s age would use, even if they’re incorrect or made up. Novels often make their young characters seem older then they are. While Dakota needs to be older, given her situation, she still seems like the child she is supposed to be. This makes her character relatable and readers are able to empathize with her more. The characters and the writing alone make Listen for Water worth the read. I highly recommend it to any book club looking for an emotionally-resonant and evocative coming-of-age tale.

Pages: 341 | ASIN: B09XKP8HQ2

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Running Into The Woman Of His Dreams

Giuseppe Scarpine Author Interview

Second Chance – The Adventures of Gianni & Pepina follows a retired doctor who moves to south France to start over and meets a woman who renews his faith in love and laughter. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

There are so many scenarios in this world regarding the loss of a loved one; sickness, accident, suicide and war just to name a few. As a result, a partner may lose faith and have no hope for the future. That was my vision for this story – a retired doctor (Dr. Gianni Pisano) who lost all hope from his young wife committing suicide. He surrenders, never finding love again. He retreats to the south of France in retirement, losing himself to alcohol and drugs.

One never knows through what door love may enter. After decades, through a mystical encounter with a curious bird and a mutual love of gardening, Gianni breaks through his isolation, running into an enchanting woman who has captured his imagination. No spoilers!

What was the inspiration for the relationship that develops between the characters?

A good healthy sense of humor is a mandatory prerequisite for a successful relationship. Gianni and Pepina display this in abundance. Their escapades throughout Catalonia, France and the New World (aka Alaska and Southern California) are full of sharp wit, laughter and the joy of life. Everybody deserves a Second Chance!

In today’s modern world of social media, with people meeting and greeting in a peculiar/sterile way, it was appealing to create a relationship that happens spontaneously… with the help of nature, of course.

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

Being a virgin until a certain age is generally a personal choice. Also, it is not uncommon for a person to not have intimate relations with another person until later in life. This was the situation with Pepina Soler; she dedicated most of her life as the sole care giver for her father who was a rather prolific man during the Franco regime in Spain. All her siblings never lifted a finger to help. For her to find love, later in life, with a caring understanding man was an integral part of this romance.

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

GEEZERVILLE

(Dramatic Comedy)

The life of a curmudgeonly ol’ geezer banished to a trailer park, who is not exactly who he seems to be…?

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads

Meet Dr. Gianni Pisano at the beginning of what promised to be an illustrious medical career. Everything was going his way; Emily, his beautiful young Scottish wife, the beginnings of a family with a fine home on the west coast. Then, one day, he finds his love has committed suicide. Decades follow Gianni sealing himself off from society, stumbling through his medical practice while abusing himself with all forms of pharmaceuticals and alcohol. Eventually, he retires to a hermits life in Europe never again to have a relationship with another woman. Mystically, while tending to his passion of growing and grafting fruit trees, he meets Pepina Soler, a beguiling Catalonian woman who helps him overcome some bad habits as they embark on a whimsical and comedic journey of cooking, gardening, hiking and travelling around the world.

Having To Contend With Her “Otherness”

Alyssa Charpentier Author Interview

The Myrk Maiden follows a young woman whose life is shattered when she’s thrust into the realm of a society of sorcerers who look to her as their salvation. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?

This novel was conceived when I was a wee high school freshman being sped away from everything I knew. We were relocating from our lifelong roots in the Pacific Northwest to the East Coast in the middle of the school year, and as we crossed the state lines, I imagined a frustrated young girl who felt like a pariah having to contend with her “otherness” and an upended life. This concept was too simple, however. I wanted it to have a magical, fantastical flair – hence the evolution of that troubled young girl into a shapeshifting hybrid human. Fueled by my nascent knowledge of the “sorcerer” residents in the town I had just spent seven years growing up in, I decided to blend some facts among the fiction and create as authentic of a fantasy story as I could.

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

My protagonist is not easy to root for in this story. Infused with monstrous powers and a murderous nature, Twilight offers readers a raw, realistic glimpse into evil. Connecting with readers and exploring and empathizing with their inner darkness became a vital element of Twilight’s journey. I wanted anyone who immersed themselves in this twisted tale to understand that their evil inclinations are not the exception, but the rule, and that despite this troubling fact, hope never dies as long as we live… and it is light that devours darkness, not the other way around.

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

Identity, understanding one’s true nature, and the importance of wisely wielding gifts are some central themes in the first book. Twilight is blessed with tremendous potential, but potential does not always translate to beautiful “actual.” Those who struggle with the yoke of their own intensity are dangerous. They are capable of incredible, wondrous things… but these creators, if their hearts are darkened, can also become destroyers. People who have been chosen for extraordinary tasks must be mindful of how they handle them; will they use their gifts to restore or destroy? How many mistakes will they stumble over along the way, and is there a purpose for any of it? The Myrk Maiden Trilogy navigates these existential questions and many more.

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

My next release is approaching quickly! On December 10th, 2022, I am publishing Daughter Dusk, Book #2 in the Myrk Maiden Trilogy. Look for it on Amazon!

Author Links: GoodReads | Website

What if you were born to destroy the world…not save it?

15-year-old Twilight dreams of a better life away from her uncaring family, longing for purpose and adventure. When her humdrum existence is soon shattered forever, she is thrust into the wickedly enticing realm of the Shadows, a society of sorcerers who look to her as their living salvation from the light. As darkness seeps into Twilight’s soul, she comes to live by three words – “maim and kill.” In this brutal coming-of-age tale, young Twilight finds herself tangled in a twist of existential crises, divine dangers, and monstrous mishaps as she navigates the various bends and turns of her new life, always wondering whether she should obey her “true nature” and remain in the dark – or fight for a glimpse of light beyond the Shadows’ compound walls.

Book 1 in The Myrk Maiden Trilogy.
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