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The Demon Mark

Inspector Macleod isn’t one to shy away from unpleasantness or death. He has seen more than his fair share of both. But when a young man is murdered in the small village he’s recently settled into, Macleod is unprepared for the amount of religious fervor and superstition that swirls around the case, watching as the villagers drive themselves to the brink of a disastrous panic in the search for answers. Realizing that time is a factor, and that cooperation from the local police is not likely, Macleod has to connect the current events with a nearly decade old disappearance, and finds himself unearthing long buried town secrets along the way. 

The Demon Mark by Saul Falconer is an intricately layered murder mystery centered by the deeply complex figure that is Cormag Macleod. Macleod is presented as a competent and imposing inspector, obviously flawed, but passionate about his work. As the book trudges on, small bits and pieces of his past are revealed, lending more depth and understanding to his mindset as the mystery builds around him. Despite the array of aspects that come together during throughout the story, nothing is ever convoluted; owing to skilled writing. Falconer finds a modest balance between intrigue and complexity and rarely failing to keep up the pace while weaving between them.

The beginning of the book provides the reader will all the past details of the village they would need to know, integral to the plot or not, this creates a well defined backdrop to the story. Once past that, the story moves at an incredible pace, twisting and turning to an explosive ending.

Falconer infuses a huge amount of history into this book as well, recreating the town of Dungog in detail and using historical figures of the time as supporting characters. Author’s notes further the historical accuracy of the setting and helps to make the area come to life as an integral part of the action. 

Among all the mystery and secrets, the book explores the idea of doing the right thing the wrong way. When the big twist is eventually revealed, it is almost easy to sympathize with the antagonist, as solving this crime leads to the resolution of another. Moral and religious beliefs lay the foundation for nearly everything Macleod discovers. 

I enjoyed The Demon Mark very much, especially once the action really began about halfway through. I thought I had figured out what the twist would be and was pleasantly surprised when the actual answer was drastically different. This is a riveting crime thriller that fans of noir and history will certainly appreciate.

Pages: 277 | ASIN: B09R47Z9MX

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The Feathered Nest 

Alexandra Thornton goes on an expedition with her family to Norfolk Island to research the island’s birds with a particular focus on the green parrot. Little does she know what she has walked into, a web of a puzzling mystery that has to be unraveled before it threatens her.

The Feathered Nest by Ellen Read gives readers a captivating look into the mystery of Norfolk Island and its inhabitants. The story gains momentum as an intriguing chain of events unfold which endangers members of the expedition. As the story progresses readers get to unveil the motive behind the multitudes of murders.

Ellen Read is the quintessential historical mystery romance author who effortlessly blends elements of novelistic fiction with curious bits of history. The author creates characters with surprising depth and realistic emotions, which reminds me of how Agatha Christie creates her characters. Moreover, Ellen has strategically placed humor, wit, and alluring intimacy to mitigate the simmering tension of the reader. Readers will find themselves yearning to turn the page to decipher the fate of the characters. By the end of the novel, all the dilemmas that pique the reader are seamlessly resolved.

The Feathered Nest by Ellen Read is a cozy mystery novel that has a similar atmosphere as one of a period drama. With its descriptive prose, it delivers outstanding soulfulness with unmatched intricacy. Holistically, this mystery thriller prescribes hints throughout but is better comprehended as all the elements gradually fit into place. Overall, this book would appeal to readers that seek a compelling mystery with a touch of tender romance.

Pages: 374 | ASIN: B09T3T1CJQ

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I Love the Element of Surprise

R. J. Corgan Author Interview

Mammoth Drop follows a scientist to the Black Hills where she finds herself knee-deep in mammoth bones and a murder mystery. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

The Black Hills, and South Dakota in general, is heaven for geologists. In fact, most geologists have to do a field season out West as part of our degrees. I studied in South Dakota and Wyoming in the early 90’s and was blown away by the beauty of the landscape. I’ve also worked with paleontologists who have spent their lives studying mammoths and they’re just as marvelous as the animals they study. I wrote Mammoth Drop to celebrate both their legacy and to share the breathtaking scenery of the region with readers.

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

Kea is smart, kind, and terrible with people. Like many scientists that work in the field for months at a time, Kea suffers from broken relationships, a low self esteem, and bouts of depression. I wanted to create a heroine where those attributes, both good and bad, are superpowers: they’re external to the group, often forced to think differently, and wind up in places they shouldn’t be. While a reluctant heroine, I love Kea and I hope that readers will as well.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book (and what can readers expect in Book 4)?

Each book in the Kea Wright series has a unique theme. Cold Flood examines how being put under intense pressure can and release something inside ourselves that we never knew existed. The Meerkat Murders examines the concept of altruism, Mammoth Drop explores extinction, while Murder on Masaya examines sacrifice. Each book also has a different tone. Mammoth Drop is absolutely a camp romp full of drinking and dancing to celebrate a scientist and his life’s work. In contrast, the final story, Murder on Masaya,(released in 2021) is a much darker story about the hazards that scientists undertake to gather data and the sacrifices people make for their family. These changes in tone are deliberate because, growing up, my favorite television show was Doctor Who – you never knew where the next story would take you, it could be the distant past or the far future, or be a comedy or a tragedy. I loved that element of surprise. These books are very much in the same vein and I hope readers enjoy the variety.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

During Kea’s visit to the Black Hills, one of the scientists in Mammoth Drop Caverns is brutally murdered. Determined to unmask the killer, Kea takes up residence in nearby Woolly Hole, a gay campground filled with boozing drag queens and bottomless mimosas. Knee-deep in mammoth bones and potential suspects, Kea soon finds herself in the killer’s sights . . .

Warrior on the Western Waters

Warrior on the Western Waters is the third book in the intense and thrilling young adult Dangerous Loyalties series by Phyllis A. Still. Set in 1775 in Boonesborough, we follow a young girl named Mary Shirley who lives in a settlement that is supposed to be a safe haven from the Loyalists. Mary warns the people in the settlement of a traitor who is planning to attack them, but no one believes her. She is taken hostage by the Loyalists who seek revenge against her father and is taken to a Shawnee village where she stays while they await the surrender of her father.

What I have come to realize about Phyllis Still’s writing is that there is a simple eloquence to it. It has a way of leading you through a story with simple language which leaves your mind free to imagine the intriguing world that she is creating in her book.

This is an emotional roller-coaster of a story and the author effortlessly captures the intense emotions that each character is feeling; which reminds me of the emotional rumination of Suzanne Collin’s The Hunger Games. What drew me into this impassioned historical fiction story was the smart and nimble dialogue. The reader feels like they are alongside Mary, feeling the terror and worry she feels. The dialogue feels authentic and the characters are much more believable because of it. I was easily able to connect with Mary’s character as she starts out as an innocent child, but must be strong in order to survive.

A fun fact; the author is an eighth-generation descendant of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). Mary Shirley McGuire is the muse behind the Dangerous Loyalties series and our main protagonist. Even though this is a work of fiction, you can really tell that the author wanted to do her ancestors justice with this book, and I feel like she does exactly that.

Even though this book is part of a series, I think it can still stand on its own as an intrepid coming-of-age historical adventure story. I don’t think readers will need to read books one and two in the series in order to follow Mary through this absorbing story. The author expertly provides just enough background information to catch the reader up before setting them off on this new adventure.

Warrior on the Western Waters by Phyllis A. is a captivating historical fiction novel that is a must read for history buffs and will be an emotionally-resonant story for everyone else.

Pages: 197 | ASIN: B082TWBP3P

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Over the Broad Earth

Over the Broad Earth, written by J.L. Feuerstack, has readers follow along with Schizophrenia Insidious Nervosa and Lord Zinc as they are born into a chaotic war. Schizophrenia, a.k.a. Schitz (pronounced “Skitz”), is brought to Hell, where he is taught with and by many other demons. They learn combat, strategy, their laws, and what they are fighting for; Lord Zinc receives similar training in Heaven. The angles and demons fight many wars against each other with their brethren for ultimate victory. Fighting for their Lords, God and Satan, the angel and demon are taken all over the world.

J.L. Feuerstack did an absolutely amazing job with Over the Broad Earth! I could gush about this book all day long. I will start by saying that I really appreciate the artwork in the book. I loved being able to see some of the characters drawn out. I enjoyed the tutorial at the beginning that shows how angels and demons are allowed to fight these wars for their respective Lords. The artwork of the different realms really helps when imagining where the characters are as well. It was very creative.

One of my favorite parts from the book was being able to listen to the music that was mentioned. Reading the author’s note is important in this book. Another aspect I loved was the lineage of the demons and angels. It was very detailed!

I will say that J.L. Feuerstack had a lot of characters to work with. While the main characters are Schizophrenia and Lord Zinc, it was sometimes hard for me to remember who the other characters were and who they were related to. Having the lineage of the demons and angels came in handy many times! All of the characters that were mentioned are very well developed though. They all had linked together in one way or another. They had a lot of history to go through as well. You will know what I mean when you read this spectacular book!

The plot of this epic fantasy novel was well written. I look forward to reading the second novel because I really want to see how Schizophrenia and Lord Zinc develop as leaders. I also want to know what will happen from what was mentioned at the beginning of this book. I cannot say more as it will give away too much. When you read this book, read every part of it. It is worth it!

Over the Broad Earth is one of the most creative angels and demons stories that I have read in a long time. This riveting fantasy novel expertly weaves together a variety of genres, from historical fiction to Christian fantasy, into a unique and thrilling novel. With fantastic writing, deep lore and intriguing characters, I truly look forward to the second book!

Pages: 699 | ASIN: B09KQ5TTCQ

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Odyssey’s Child 

Author John Lockton’s Odyssey’s Child is a voyage of youthful hope and potential in the face of emerging secrets. After witnessing his mother’s death, thirteen-year-old Ethan lives with his abusive father until George van Rosenthal, an influential well-wisher who makes a point of befriending and protecting young boys, invites him on a Caribbean cruise. Under the influence of George and his hired mate Johnson, a wise and well-read sailor who knows the sea and islands well, Ethan begins to emerge from his shell. Still, as George’s prejudices and repressed feelings start to rise to the surface, Johnson must maintain constant vigilance to protect Ethan.

The plot of Odyssey’s Child engages readers with some severe and disturbing topics such as racism, suicide, and pedophilia. Still, the author handles these topics well and at an excellent pace that develops alongside the characters. Lockton’s prose colorfully evokes the Caribbean to create nostalgia for life many will have never lived, but this is ultimately secondary to the excellent characters that drive the novel.

Of the three principal characters, Ethan’s development is indeed a swell of hope as he adapts to his new environment. Yet, at the same time, George is juxtaposed with this as a descent into darkness. Johnson’s character is well established and stable throughout but severely tested as he begins to see George as who he really is, and this tension becomes the key focus of the novel more than the cruise itself.

Ethan, George, and Johnson are forced to struggle with their identities in an odyssey that transcends their physical voyage. Ethan struggles to overcome his past and battles the darkness that ranges inside him from his mother’s death. With the help of Johnson, Ethan learns valuable life lessons and starts to see himself as someone that has worth and a future.

Odyssey’s Child is an emotionally charged coming-of-age novel. Readers will see some of the dark sides of humanity, but through it, they will also see the good that can be found when you look.

Pages: 355 | ASIN : B09PWWDW86

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Literary Titan Book Awards May 2022

The Literary Titan Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and we are proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and writing talent of these brilliant authors.

Gold Award Winners

Poems for the End of the Age by Hanz Peter Zell

Literary Titan Silver Book Award

Silver Award Winners

Bible, God and Free Will by Vasile Ghiuta

On a Fallen Wave by Benjamin Anderson

Visit the Literary Titan Book Awards page to see award information.

Dogs Don’t Cook 

In Dogs Don’t Cook by author Catherine Alexander, Thomas ‘Hatch’ Hatchfield was an artist. It was all he dreamed of being from the time he picked up a crayon. Then came the Vietnam war. Returning from the war as a veteran, he was scarred by his experiences and struggled with homelessness and alcohol addiction. Judged by society and all but abandoned by what’s left of his family, Hatch’s only real friend is his dog, Bud. Dog lovers won’t be surprised to know that Bud is a loyal straight-talker and doesn’t shy away from telling Hatch honest truths about things even when it is painful.

With no family that wants to help him, Hatch eventually stumbles into meeting the practical and kind-hearted Rosa, who becomes his real family. She gives him a place to live and work and inspires him to get back on his feet and start to create art again. The relationship between Hatch and Rosa is beautiful and shows that kindness is still out there in the world.

Hatch is a very clearly drawn character with a distinctive voice written from a first-person perspective. You are immediately drawn into his world and can’t help but find yourself firmly on his side right from the beginning. The Vietnam war period sets the backdrop for Hatch’s journey, and it provides a timely and poignant commentary on the war in general. I felt that in a couple of instances, elements of the story seemed to be dropped in for convenience without being fully developed or resolved, like the handling of Hatch’s brief love interest. There is a stark contrast in the portrayal of Hatch as a hopeless drunk vs. him sober, without a lot of transition between the two stages. Watching Hatch emerge from his drunken fog and reclaim parts of his former self is heartwarming.

Dogs Don’t Cook is a moving story of love, loss, family, and triumph over considerable adversity. This historical war fiction novel captures the emotions many returning vets felt and shows some of the challenges they endured once returning to America. Hatch is the character who stays with you long after you finish the book.

Pages: 266 | ASIN : B09NCZJ4Q6

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