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The Mars One Incident

The Mars One Incident by [Curtis, Kelly]

The Mars One Incident is set in the 27th century, where all technology is banned for the residents on Earth, supposedly for their own good. The Joint Confederacy ensures everything remains this way by using- advanced technology. We are introduced to Alma Johnson, who is offered the captaincy of the Indianapolis starship. She is the youngest and most prolific of all her colleagues, but that doesn’t mean the job comes baggage-free. In a world where technology is scoffed at, she faces the scorn of society and even disapproval within her family. Her colleagues resent her for the sudden rise to power, and there are grave issues with her love life as well. Along with all this, she is on a mission to protect Earth from a rebel space ship that wants to overthrow the peaceful tech-free existence.

The book begins with a thought-provoking and humorous quote by E.B. White, the illustrious author of Charlotte’s Web. It mocks and uplifts humanity’s endless drive for more. More power, more efficiency, more knowledge. After all, we wouldn’t be in our situation, for better or for worse, if we did not have an innate desire to discover, create, and understand. This quote manages to set the perfect tone for the entire story.

It seems to have achieved a tale as old as time status- the man vs technology premise. There is no shortage of criticism for the all-consuming, relentless downpour of new technology. Some of these criticisms are worn-out and unoriginal, while others spark interest; offering a new perspective on a tired argument. This novel is of the latter sort. Kelly Curtis manages to infuse the antagonism against technology with new life and creativity. This is not an endless rail against the egregious gadgets- it is an acknowledgement of their power to empower and destroy.

An example of this aspect is how the Guild know technology is a gray zone, a double-edged sword. The hypocrisy of those in power when they are allowed to use whatever they need for their benefit, while robbing their population of it was a dismal echo of today’s world. Terra Nova was even using technology to sway votes their way- if that isn’t a dismaying reflection of today’s political world, I don’t know what is.

I found this novel utopian not only in the sense of keeping man at bay from the “technology plague,” but also in the sense of a quiet and powerful female presence throughout. The men in charge are all women. This is an infinitely welcome and refreshing change from so many other sci-fi tech novels, where men seem to be the only ones capable of executing all the science, engineering, and thinking. It manages to delve into the complexities of Alma Johnson’s world- personal and professional. It’s an interesting and thought-provoking read, perfect for everyone concerned about the direction we are headed.

Pages: 246 | ASIN: B07TX9NQ8J

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Not Dead – Trailer

A small-town Texas cop who is haunted by his past.
A reporter who risks it all, even her life.
A kidnapping that crosses into an unearthly realm.

Focused on the abduction of four-year-old Mandy Norton, Chad Bishop, Meridian’s Police Chief, ignores the twinges of foreboding triggered by an eerie fog that shrouds his town. What he can’t ignore is the editor of the Tribune.

When Ashley Logan becomes embroiled in the search, nothing stops the hard-hitting, investigative reporter, including Chad’s threats to throw her in jail. She’s Mandy’s aunt.

As the mystery of Mandy’s disappearance deepens, unnerving details emerge. Chad refuses to believe they’re connected to his past until the case turns deadly. He’s forced to face the terror that haunts him. It’s waiting in the shadowy depths of the unearthly fog.

This time, it could cost Chad more than his sanity.

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Talon, Come Fly with Me

Talon, Come Fly with Me by [Sedlmayer, Gigi]

Talon, Come Fly with Me (Talon Series Book One) By Gigi Sedlmayer is a fiction story about a nine-year-old girl named Matica, who is the daughter of Australian missionaries living in Pucara, Peru. She has a medical condition that affects her growth, which causes her to have a hard time fitting in. For several years, her only friends are two condors she calls Tamo and Tima. When the condors’ egg is threatened by poachers, Matica is determined to protect it. Will she succeed in her aim, or will another egg be stolen from Tamo and Tima? And will the villagers ever accept Matica the way that she wishes for?

I enjoyed reading the various facts about the Andean condors that live in the mountains of South America. I appreciated the research the author clearly has done about the birds. She combined this information with many human-like characteristics in Tamo and Talon, which added a bit of whimsy to the story. The way that Matica attributed worded responses to the condors was humorous, as though they were actually talking to her. I liked that Talon hatched on Matica’s birthday, just as she hoped he would. I also liked Talon’s persistence in learning to fly, and not giving up until he succeeded.

This book has an encouraging message about overcoming obstacles, but some things seemed implausible for a girl Matica’s age, such as her parents allowing her to go off by herself into a dangerous situation like when the poachers first returned to the area. At times the dialogue also felt stilted and unnatural, especially for Matica’s brother, Aikon, who didn’t speak as though he was only four years old.

Otherwise, I heartily enjoyed this moving story that showcases unique characters in an exotic location. There are four other books in the Talon Series, where Matica continues to go on new adventures with Talon and Tamo and Tima.

Pages: 238 | ASIN: B00J2643PG

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A Tractor Named Wilbur

A Tractor Named Wilbur: Friendships Last Forever (Wilbur the Tractor Book 1) by [Humphrys-Dunne, Deanie]

A Tractor Named Wilbur by Deanie Humphrys-Dunne is a short yet adorable children’s book featuring a little red tractor named Wilbur who lives in a barn. Wilbur lives with a man named Jim, who simply adores Wilbur. Every day, Wilbur helps Jim out with many errands both small and large, working faithfully without a single complaint.

This book contains key elements of a good children’s book such as interesting characters children can relate to, integral moral values and entertaining illustrations to keep readers hooked. The author’s hard work is shown through the apparent care given to developing a good story arc, flow and personification of the inanimate characters. However, I do think that this book could have benefited from a little humor and jokes as the story is slightly flat until the climax takes place. The theme of the book is lighthearted and cheerful, making it perfect for young kids’ enjoyment.

Pages: 41 | ASIN: B07XQNGJQJ

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Pursuing Ancient Prophecies

Katharine E. Wibell Author Interview

Katharine E. Wibell Author Interview

Ullr’s Fangs is a dark fantasy following the experiences of Lluava as she faces some massive responsibilities. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?

The initial inspiration for Ullr’s Fangs, as well as the two succeeding other books in the series, stems from the backstory of Lluava’s family. Her true origin if you will. As a writer, I need to know not only the personality and characteristics of the main characters but also the secondary characters as well. I challenged myself to understand Lluava’s father who had died before the first book begins. In understanding his story, I discovered where Lluava’s would lead.

Ullr’s Fangs is full of characters that are trying to serve their own interests by manipulating governing officials or pursuing ancient prophecies. My protagonist, Lluava Kargen, must discover whom to trust while struggling to forge her own path against formidable enemies and daunting situations.

Another important concept involves the Berserker. I love ancient Nordic myth and history. In reading and researching countless sagas and historical novels, I was drawn to the mighty and almost supernatural warrior known as the Berserker. This was the inspiration for a new threat to the Kingdom of Elysia that is introduced in this second novel of The Incarn Saga.

I was impressed with the way in which you dealt with the mental decline of King Thor. What were the ideas you wanted to explore with his character?

I grew up with a grandfather who dealt with Alzheimer’s. Though my earliest memories were positive, the majority of my dealings with him were watching a man, who was the patriarchal figure of my mother’s family, slowly deteriorate and lose most of himself to that disease. Thor was, in part, inspired by those experiences and the heartbreaking moments when old memories blended with the present or were irretrievably lost. I hope readers will relate to the bond his grandson shares with Thor as well as the desire to protect this man who is not only his grandfather but also his king.

The second reason for developing Thor in this manner involves plot. As Thor’s dementia increases, he becomes a puppet king easily manipulated by other members of the government who crave control. A power struggle ensues between the heir to the throne and those that have determined policy, made laws, and insured their own interests for years. I also wanted to express that even at the highest levels of power, corruption exists.

The Theriomorphs are exceptionally intriguing. Where did this idea come from and how did it develop while writing?

I have always had a passion for both animals and myth. Growing up, I read anything I could about either topic. Yet it was not until I had a dream where shape-shifting people were training in a military camp that Theriomorphs were essentially born. After that night, I explored shape-shifter and skinwalker stories.

Merriam-Webster’s definition of theriomorphic means “having animal form”. I used that terminology when I started developing my own race of animal shapeshifters. I wanted both human and animal forms to have shared characteristics and personality traits. For example, the main character, Lluava, has platinum blonde hair, jet black eyebrows and olive-hued skin. She has an athletic form and a personality that is fierce, assertive, and sometimes hotheaded. Her animal form, which is referred to as a dual form, is a white tigress.

Theriomorphs cannot choose their animal form; it is something they are born with and it is linked to hormones. For this reason, most males (testosterone) have larger and more volatile dual forms like tigers, bears, and stags. Females (estrogen) typically have smaller and meeker forms like house cats, ducks, and backyard birds. Lluava’s dual form of a white tigress emphasizes the fact that she is atypical even among her own race.

As a society, I wanted the Theriomorph race to encompass the idea of a native culture that has been conquered and forced to incorporate the social traits of those who have taken over their lands. Like many native tribes, their religion is based on a complex system of polytheistic beliefs, one that is very much in tune with nature. In Ullr’s Fangs, it was fun to slowly reveal more details of the original Theriomorph society and their beliefs so that readers could continue to immerse themselves in the kingdom of Elysia.

This is book two in the The Incarn Saga. Where does book three, Crocotta’s Hackles, take the story?

Each book in The Incarn Saga reveals more of the darker realities of the Theriomorph world. It is not until the end of Ullr’s Fangs that the reader begins to learn what the Incarn are. In the third book, Crocotta’s Hackles, Lluava’s personal mission is to discover the truth about the Incarn and what that means for her own future. I also delve into what the original Theriomorph culture was like before humans reached the shores of Elysia.

Crocotta’s Hackles is full of sudden twists and new realizations that will distinctly alter what both Lluava and the readers believe. I truly hope fans of the first two books will fall in love with the third as much as I did when writing it.

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Ullr's Fangs (The Incarn Saga Book 2) by [Wibell, Katharine]

“According to legend, when the world was young, two gods of war — one male, one female — were destined for each other. Yet Ullr, forever unfaithful, lost the love of Issaura, his true match, and was forsworn. His violent anger and bitter rage grew and intensified, poisoning all creation and humanity.

Now that the Raiders’ long ships have faded from sight, the kingdom of Elysia is beginning to recover from the summer’s war with the brutal invaders from across the sea. Yet darker forces have taken root, forces that can alter the future of the land and its people in unthinkable ways. Seventeen-year-old Lluava must discover the means to prevent her world from collapsing. But in doing so, will she succumb to that darkness?”

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What Would They Think

Steve Zimcosky Author Interview

Steve Zimcosky Author Interview

I enjoyed the unique use of DNA in this story. Where did this idea come from and how did it develop as you were writing?

The idea came from my own experience with having my DNA tested. It seems like everyone is wanting to know where they came from and what their true nationality is. I have noticed some people have expected one thing and were shocked to find out that they had a different genetic makeup. So, I thought what would happen if someone had DNA not of this planet. How would they react? What would they think? As I was writing the story I thought to myself how surprised the person would be to find out that they were not alone on this planet and there were others just like him living and working here as he was.

I enjoyed Ian’s character and backstory. What were some obstacles you felt were important to his character development?

The first one was finding out that you are not of this planet, when your whole life you thought you were a human just like everyone else. The character would have to come to grips with the fact that he looked and acted human but was from a whole different universe. The second one was how does he deal with the fact that he is older than what he expects himself to be. How do you come to grips with the fact that you are thousands of years older than anyone else around you? And third, having to come to grips with the fact that you inherited a leadership role and you had thousands of people who were willing to follow you. How do you lead them on a planet that was originally not yours? And your leadership came from your parents who traveled somewhere else in the universe leaving you here alone to take over?

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

I am finishing up a story titled “The Haunting of Smock Hill” and it is a paranormal/mystery that takes place in an old coal mining town in Southwest Pennsylvania. A dark energy that used to haunt the mines returns to wreak havoc on the town. I hope to have it finished in time for Thanksgiving.

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The Venusians Among Us by [Zimcosky, Steve]Checking your DNA and ancestry is real popular these days and everyone is doing it. A group of co-workers who meet regularly for drinks decide to do it as a group and share their results. But what happens when one of them finds out he is not even from this planet? And he is not alone! Are they friendly or hostile to planet earth and it’s people?

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Too Tempting to Miss

Clive Hawkswood Author Interview

Clive Hawkswood Author Interview

Quintrell’s White follows two men who must stop the leader of a pro-Nazi secret society. What was the inspiration for the idea behind this thrilling novel?

This is the fourth in a series and, when I began, the 100th Anniversary of the outbreak of WW1 was on the horizon. I’ve written a lot about military history, both fiction and non-fiction, but had never got beyond a superficial knowledge of the Great War. I quickly found there was much more to it than the horror of mud and trench warfare on the Western Front. This was an era also of adventure, rapid technological development, intrigue, and political instability across much of the world. So there were no shortage of exciting scenarios to consider. For this book, the chance to get Pancho Villa and the Russian Revolution into the same story was too tempting to miss.

Captain John Quintrell is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some themes you wanted to explore with his character?

In the first book, Quintrell’s Black, his back story is gradually revealed. Basically through an injustice as a young soldier, he has spent most of his life as a mercenary of sorts in Africa. The War tempts him to return to Europe and enlist in the Belgian Army. Across the arc of the four books an underlying question is whether through the war he can gain some kind of redemption and regain the life he had always wanted. Basically it’s about someone trying to find their true place in the world, but in a world which is in complete chaos.

I enjoyed the historical references and alternate history in this book. What research did you undertake for this novel?

I read lots of books and personal testimonies of those who fought, but as ever that information really needs to be filtered. The aim has to be for the research to be deployed so as to provide a background sense of the time and to provide a framework for the plot. The risk is forcing too much of it in to the story so that it becomes a barrier rather than greasing the wheels. Hopefully, I’ve got the balance right.

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

Having spent the best part of six years producing the four book series, I wanted to try something completely different so am working on a book of short stories in a different genre (think old Twilight Zone TV!) and I’d expect that to be completed by the end of the year. After that I expect I will get drawn back into Quintrell-type books again. However, to say whether they could involve him again would be to give away the end of Quintrell’s White…

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Quintrell's White (Quintrell series Book 4) by [Hawkswood, Clive]1916. The First World War is at a crossroads.

The actions of Kurt Draxweiller, the leader of a proto-Nazi secret society called the Ultima Thule Verband, could tip the balance in favour of the Keizer’s Germany.

Two men must stop him: The Dragon, who is the Tsar’s most trusted assassin; and Captain John Quintrell.

To get to Draxweiller they will have to fight U-boats, battle with Pancho Villa’s Mexican rebels during the raid on the US town of Colombus, and defeat a revolutionary plot in Petrograd, the Russian capital.

Along the way, Quintrell and his handful of loyal men will settle lots of old scores. But not all of them will survive…

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The Fate of Wolves

The Fate of Wolves (Legends of the Pale Book 2) by [Smith, Tarrant]

Eva is isolated, and that is by her own choosing. She is the sole survivor of a lineage of werewolves. Avoiding others like herself and steering clear of humans, she has managed to keep away from everything posing a threat to her very being. Eva is strong and a force to be reckoned with. Deegan has met his match in Eva. A werewolf himself, he is not part of one of the most desirable clans. When forces beyond his control begin to rule him, he finds himself on the verge of giving in and giving up. Whether either of them realize it or not, Eva just might be the answer he didn’t know he was looking for.

The Fate of Wolves, by Tarrant Smith, is the second in The Legends of the Pale series. From cover to cover, Smith delivers insanely well-drawn characters and enough moments of levity to keep this paranormal romance moving along at a brisk pace. Never does Smith’s work lack. As the author bounces from one subplot to the next and back, she keeps readers on their toes and deeply involved with each of the main characters and their tragic lives.

Eva is simply amazing. Smith’s descriptions of both her wolf and human halves and how the two are often at odds is captivating. I am oddly fascinated by characters who choose to isolate themselves, and Eva is a prime example. There is so much to be explored in characters like Eva whose mental anguish is so tangible.

I would be remiss if I didn’t address Smith’s opening lines. It’s not often that I rave about the beginning of a book, but in this case it’s a must. From the first sentence, Smith had me hooked. I am not always one to pick a fantasy, but when I do, I lean toward those with characters who shape-shift. There comes with these characters a certain fascination that I don’t get with those in other fantasy novels. The mere mention of werewolves is enough to catch my eye, but Smith snags readers like me from the opening paragraph when she states that werewolves are, indeed, not mythical.

Smith has a unique take on settings. She places her clan in present day. At first, I was a bit taken aback, but I realized as I read that it completely works. It’s not the fact that their human halves are technologically savvy that makes or breaks a book of this genre, it was the inner turmoil of characters like these that makes them timeless.

Anyone who enjoys down-to-earth main characters in their fantasy series will be taken with Deegan and Eva. The entire cast of characters created by Smith is deserving of readers’ adoration for that matter. Humor is a big part of Smith’s writing and adds to the depth of her characters. I highly recommend this book to readers across genres–it’s a must-read.

Pages:  254 | ASIN: B07YG7NZ35

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Journey to the Children of Bwola Dances

Journey to Children of Bwola Dances by [Amaya]

Amaya’s Journey to Children of Bwola Dances is an important book that shows how life is different for people in different parts of the globe. The book may be fictional but some of the events that are mentioned in the chapter have historical significance. The reader is taken through a world of war, extreme violence, drama, politics and rebel groups. The narration is raw and expressive giving the impression of events happening in real-time. Amaya’s writing helps one draw comparisons on how policies are made in western countries compared to other countries in the world. In the book, we see the adverse effects of war and how certain demographics get to be affected. Children and women are the most affected groups when war erupts.

It is a shame how young boys were recruited to fight in the war, robbing them of their innocence and a chance to grow up like other kids. The story is set in Australia and Uganda later on. The Lord Resistance Army (LRA) is rebelling against the Ugandan government. This is a story of pain, brutality, vengeance, hopelessness, power, and lack of humanity. You will get emotional on some pages especially when you read about the struggles of child soldiers. We follow as two teens with completely different backgrounds meet through fate and bond as they share past experiences. One teen, the Australian, is used to a different way of life but it is the difference that makes them key characters in the book.

The events that preceded the abduction of Bob and Samantha were not only disturbing but also upsetting to follow. Through the characters, we see how governments respond to calls of help when their citizens are in danger. The book is not just filled with agonizing stories. We follow beautiful customs and cultures in Africa and how they make societies blend. Reading about the Ladongo dace and how men and women lined up to celebrate a successful hunting trip gave me joy. I visualized how happy the dancers were when celebrating their success. The Lord Resistance Army was an evil group. The aggressive raids the group made and the damage it caused was unnecessary if the people had embraced civility. Through their actions, we learn the importance of having a stable government that ensures the rule of law is adhered.

In Journey to Children of Bwola Dancers you will learn about family dynamics, the power of a united people, the impact of poor governance and many more topics that are related to current events in the world. Amaya’s writing is excellent and her characters in the book were well developed. This book is not just a great thriller and drama novel but also a nice learning tool for readers who enjoy historical fiction stories.

Pages: 215 | ASIN: B07XTDVHWS

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Harvest

Harvest by [Werby, Olga]

Harvest by Olga Werby is a fresh change in a genre that is littered with superheroes or with stories in a galaxy far away and distant future. These may be entertaining to our superficial senses; rarely these evoke deeper emotions in the way this book does.

Harvest takes place in the future, where colonies on other planets exist, necessitated in response to an asteroid impact 100 years ago. The story begins with anthropologist Dr Varsaad Volhard, brought on board an exploration expedition to explore an alien artifact. When Dr. Varsaad’s father starts making shocking discoveries back on earth regarding intelligent life forms, things start to go awry.

On the spaceship, things start going wrong soon after they lift off to Mimas, a site on Saturn’s moon where the alien artifact is located. Their voyage is wrought with tense emotion and thrilling suspense that kept me hooked. When the team starts exploring the artifact is when the story really got interesting for me. The character development and story progression were steady up to this point, but the intrigue is turned up to maximum when the team starts exploring.

This is a novel that shifts quickly. When things go wrong, the characters and the story shift and lead you in a new direction.

The author writes an amazing and engaging plot that kept me tethered to the story. The pace is excellent and the story never gets bogged down by the details. Characters are well defined and the origins of the lead characters are gradually explored as they uncover secrets that have huge ramifications for humanity. I particularly liked the realism integrated into the story combined with the technology from both humans and aliens, which gave the story a frightful combination that made me wonder if such a future would be possible.

The story is a delightful and enjoyable read that you can really immerse yourself in. It will prove to be a perfect novel for any sci-fi fan who really wants to dig their teeth into more than light saber rattling.

Pages: 420 | ASIN:  B07R8HGKWN

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