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Doves & Crows

Doves & Crows by [Heathcote, MJC]

MJC Heathcote delivers a story that combines mystery and family history in a chilling way that has you wondering about the dark forces embedded within a seemingly average object. Although Doves and Crows starts slowly, it quickly ramps up and once it captured my attention it rarely let it go. Heathcote does a fantastic job at slowly building up the mystery and drama, drawing you in and making the resolution all the more satisfying. There are moments when the story slows, but the unique writing style and the clear storytelling keeps this book engaging throughout.

Doves and Crows is an intriguing supernatural horror story that reads more like a crime thriller when people start to meet their untimely death, and more like Paranormal Activity when strange things start happening. The the mystery surrounding the necklace, although intriguing, left me wanting more details. Richard is an easy character to follow and is easy to empathize with, but I would have liked more background on his character.

With any mystery novel that relies on subtlety it’s easy to be too subtle and lose the reader along the way, but Heathcote’s writing is exceptionally fluid and effortlessly delivers some odd twists and dramatic scenes in dark an eerie settings. What I really liked about this book was how it combines many different genres to create a thought provoking story about paranormal forces wreaking havoc on one boys life and his ultimate struggle to rid himself of the dark forces his grandparents unknowingly brought into his life.

Pages: 434 | ASIN: B07L5RS1SD

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The Confessional: A Peerless Short Story

The Confessional: A Peerless Short Story by [Kuykendall, A.K.]

Reinhold Commons Webster likes being in church. His family hopes he will follow the priesthood path, and his only desire is to be an altar boy. However, he is thrust into an abyss of sadistic abuse. He watched his friend penetrated with impunity until he could no longer hold on to life. The same end awaited him. Therefore Reinhold makes a deal that provides him with a little reprieve. With no one else willing to help him or the others, this deal is his only hope. The deal does nothing to erase what has already happened but what comes next will have to be enough.

This story, albeit short, is aggressively evocative. Written in such detail, the candor of it is well justified by the desire to shine a light on this abomination. The author also puts a spotlight on the role of parents and other authority figures in all of this. Their adverse reactions to the damaging situations the victims are plunged into. Figures who choose to ridicule these children rather than save them from their plight.

This is a very purposeful book. It might seem a bit crass, but the painful detail in this story is very necessary and intentional. It works to ingrain an image that would potentially start a movement for the rescue of actual victims. The end is quite alarming and should serve as a warning to perpetrators.

The confessional is a place where people go to seek solace and relief from the burden of sin. However, in this instance the title serves as a reminder that these places represent personal hells for some people. As a reader, one cannot help but weep for the poor boys. One cannot help but advocate for the punishment of the perpetrator. This is the extent of the writer’s to appeal to the reader’s soul by use of words and language.

This story should be used as a rallying call against child abuse everywhere and especially of the sexual sort. It should stand as a war cry for abused children everywhere to appeal to their parents for help. It is evocative and stern in no uncertain terms. The author’s passion for this cause is obvious and this story is engaging and thought provoking.

Pages: 49 | ASIN: B07PGTS8LC

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Resilient and Courageous

Tarrant Smith Author Interview

Tarrant Smith Author Interview

The Love of Gods is a genre-crossing novel with elements of romance, supernatural, and mystery as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?

Actually, I initially was trying to write a mystery with a hint of a simmering romance which I hoped would span several books, but I discovered pretty early on that I am a romance writer and not a mystery writer. So, I tossed my first draft and started over.

Lugos and Keely are interesting and well defined characters. What were some ideas that were important for you to capture in their characters?

Lugos is based on two different Celtic gods which gave me a place to start. I immediately understood who he was, what would be important to him, and a good portion of his backstory from the very beginning. And so from that jumping off point, he became a vivid character in my mind. I wanted him to value his intellect over his brawn. I also him to value humanity over his own kin. As for Keely, her southern sass is based on a waitress I know, and the awful taste in men is a nod to a dear friend of mine. Because Lugos is an immortal, I wanted Keely to have a resilient and courageous nature so that Lugos’s god-ness didn’t overpower the relationship. Even though she’s a mortal, Keely had to be his equal in many ways otherwise the relationship wouldn’t work.

I loved the backstory and world building in this novel. What were some sources of inspiration for you while creating this story?

I spend a lot of my time researching various myths and much of the characters’ backstories are tied to my understanding of those myths. The various gods in The Love of Gods all have their own histories in Celtic mythology and I drew from these. The shifter and witch communities have rich literary traditions that gave me a direction, a roadmap, of how they might respond if the world of the Pale truly existed.

This is book one in The Legends of Pale series. Where will book two take readers and when will it be available?

I’m happy to say that I am hard at work on several books in this series. The Fate of Wolves is the next book and will be out near Christmas this year. I have already finished book three, The Dreams of Demons, and if all goes to plan I’ll release it in spring 2020. I’m currently writing the fourth book, The Souls of Witches and I’m absolutely in love with the main characters. But then, that’s how it is with each book I write.

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The Love of Gods (The Legends of the Pale Series Book 1) by [Smith, Tarrant]

Lugos had given his word when the world was still young, before he’d endured the wrenching pain of her soul being torn from his. Lifetime after lifetime she’d returned when he’d needed her most, when the apathy of his kind had eaten away at his resolve and his heartfelt vow seemed pointless. One would think he’d be able to protect a single mortal, after all, he was a god. But two long centuries had passed since he’d held her, since he’d been whole. Now, she was back and Lugos had a decision to make; claim the only woman he’d ever loved, or deny his soul’s deepest craving and grant Keely a chance at a peaceful life without the dangers that populated his world. For five years, Lugos had chosen the latter with the hope that the fates might overlook them this time. That was still his plan when the goddess Rhiannon called seeking his help. Lugos should have known better.

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Bloodfest

Bloodfest by [Grimbly, Ryan, Maddison, James]

Bloodfest by Ryan Grimbly is a paranovel set in Pacoven – an isolated island in the Pacific Ocean that the government uses to conduct social experiments. The story follows the activities of an elite squad of Hidden Government soldiers captained by Ace McDagger, aided by his childhood friend Shimon. The soldiers are sent to Pacoven in a shroud of mystery, not knowing why they are going there or what, or who lies in wait for them.

The plot is fast paced but easy to understand. There are a couple of flashbacks to Ace’s childhood, however they are easy to follow and add to the depth of his character. Some of the flashbacks include Ace’s friend Shimon, this builds up their relationship and explains there closeness even in the professional field. However, the loyalties of some of the characters are tested, and as they progress with their mission it becomes unclear whom can trust whom. As with any good tale there are several twists and turns to keep you guessing.

Bloodfest is filled with characters. Most of the characters belong to the Hidden Government Army and work with the main character Ace McDagger. Other less developed characters are the residents of Pacoven. The characters are easily distinguishable and are not hard to follow. Some of the characters are described physically, for example Ace’s eye patch is often referred to. Others have their skills (often magical) described – Shimon reads minds and sees the future, another character – Resh- erases memories. The dialogue is cleverly written, with each character having their own unique dialogue that aptly fits their character.

Of course, there are also the paranormal characters – zombies, warlords and man-made monsters. These characters are also cleverly and thoroughly described; “one of bones and loose red flesh”. The vivid descriptions had to the suspense of the story.

Adding to the suspense is the setting itself. Pacovern is an island like no other. Although it appears typical with streets, shops, nightclubs, buses and churches looks are deceiving. It is in fact full of trapdoors, an artificial church and a vortex. Just like the humans and monsters traversing the island itself is dangerous and unpredictable.

Bloodfest is a fast moving and gripping read. The characters and setting are described in graphic detail, creating a book that is hard to put down.

Pages: 538 | ASIN: B07GBZ5KHJ

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Progenie

Progenie is an interesting book that is slow to start but definitely captures the readers attention as the story progresses into one of the most fascinating plots I’ve read this year. The story is a whirlwind of emotions written that takes place in the past and present. The writing style is uniqeue and the descriptions are vivid and provide details for all of your senses.

The story takes place in both the present day and the ancient past. Each place seemed exotic and realistic as the world building in this story was superb. It seemed as if I was transported to this other world where all these events and story lines were taking place. One of my favorite things is how the story starts off in the present, then goes back in history to clarify certain details.

I wasn’t too crazy about the beginning of the book, mostly because it was slow to build, and compared to the rest of this exciting novel, this felt flat. Once you get past the beginning, the story picks up and things start to fall into place. If you’re confused when reading this book, don’t worry, the author does an excellent job of clearing up the confusion in later parts of the story. And the revelations are satisfying.

There’s very few things I dislike about this book. Even the cover art grabs your attention. I call attention to the title of the book. It’s very clever and unusual. Yet, you can’t help but remember it. Several parts of the book make you feel as if you’re watching a movie rather than reading because the detail and world building are meticulous.

I love Zenobia Grant’s character. I always enjoy a strong female lead in sci-fi stories. Her journey is one of self discovery and that is masterfully shown through the slow development of her character throughout this surreal story. This is a book like no other that I’ve read. Filled with different creatures, in different times, and in different dimensions. This is a surreal adventure that you won’t soon forget.

Pages: 450 | ISBN: 1941637566

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The Astral Surge

The Astral Surge by [Nirmal Ranganathan]

The Astral Surge follows the life of two main characters, Ron and Catherine. The book starts off by revealing our characters’ past. They meet after Catherine’s mom adopts Ron and they start an interesting life together. However, Ron starts revealing some dark tendencies that cause Catherine to wonder about her brother. As they grow older, they find their respective careers and take different yet similar paths that show their true selves. Eventually, it all culminates in some pivotal events which have big consequences – both good and bad – for our main characters and certain other people.
The book starts slow, and although the beginning confused me, it helped set the context for the later part of the story. The characters were intriguing and well developed. I liked the way they continued to develop as the story progressed. I enjoyed the characters being realistic. It helped in my easily empathizing with them.
Ron is a uniquely interesting character. The way the book documents his descent down the path he chose is both chilling and gripping. One example of this is the conversation he has with his soon-to-be-wife. She doesn’t notice it as much, but in this scene, you get a sense of his internal conflicts.
I also feel that the characters sometimes express an out-of-place carefree or happy attitude, which makes the book hard to read at certain points. However, the novel makes up for this with a plot that keeps you engaged. The author smoothly transitions between different points of view of each character. We can see this in the way the book shifts its focus on each of them in every chapter.
Catherine’s character is wonderfully developed too, showing her awareness of Ron’s issues and how she continues to watch over him.
Another character I felt contributed significantly to the story was the FBI agent Peter Fox. His helping nature and the chemistry he had with the other characters throughout the book added an extra dash of intrigue to the story. For example,  the way he goes about assisting Antony was something that I personally found surprising. It added a nice touch to the main plot.

Overall, the book has equal amounts of action and a story that is well balanced. It does a fantastic job of bringing together all its characters and tying their situations up in a satisfying way that is sure to appeal to any fan of paranormal fiction.

Pages: 272 | ASIN: B07NY31HNK

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Dream a Dream That Never Ends

Kirby Lord Author Interview

Kirby Lord Author Interview

Myrrendryl is a thought provoking fantasy novel that follows Davey as he escapes to a world very different from his own. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing novel?

I came up with the idea for the novel from a thought; What if when you die, you pass completely unaware and simply dream a dream that never ends. That, coupled with a deep love for horror fiction and stories that are more than the sum of their parts.

Davey is an interesting and well developed character. What were some themes you wanted to explore with his character?

I really wanted Davey to be relatable, I wanted him to be the Everyman Hero, but even with the best of intentions, sometimes, doing the right thing is never cut and dry. I wanted him to struggle with bullying, abuse, loss, unrequited love, and being an outcast. In the end, even with the odds piled against him and despair baring it’s poisoned fangs, I needed him to make the choice that matters.

I found ‘Cardboard City’ to be fascinating and well developed. What were some driving ideals behind this and it’s backstory?

Let me answer this, with a question. Was it ever really there? Sure, it seemed like a magical place, but for all it’s glamour, couldn’t a Maytag box and a rat chewn blanket be paradise?

If it was there, it was because a common belief brought these youths together and kept them focused on a singular goal. A little paint here, some salvaged materials there and soon, they had their own community.

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

I’m currently working on a novel of the prodigal son.

James is a successful businessman in the city, but he harbors a deep secret. He is not who he says he is. A lawyer and private investigator track him down to tell him his mother is dead and her estate leaves him as the heir. Now returning to the small town he left far behind he is assailed with memories both good and bad.

But this town holds it’s own secret, and someone or something is very glad to see the son return home.

Hopefully out this year, but at the latest, it will be next.

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook

The curtain, the veil, the void, the abyss. So many names for the mystery of the beyond. People spend a good part of their lives just wanting to lift the heavy canvas of the circus tent and take a peek inside. Eventually they’ll know, in the end, we all know, but mankind is an impatient beast. Sadly, for most, if they ever could pull aside that curtain, they would spend the rest of their lives trying to forget that they ever had.Myrrendryl tells the tale of four seemingly unconnected youth bound to one another in a way none of them could have guessed and knowing would threaten to shatter their very existence. The hands of fate appear to play them like marionettes, but are they truly controlled by fate? Or are they their own masters? A story that questions what is real, and what is the sands of dreams. A story ultimately, about the human condition and what deep down, we are willing to sacrifice.

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This Was My Mad Doctor

T.L. Bailey Author Interview

T.L. Bailey Author Interview

Eve of the Hunters finds Eve stranded on a jungle island fighting for her life while Nyx is releasing the Ancient Enemy. What were some themes you wanted to carry through from the other books in the series and what were some new ideas you wanted to introduce in this book?

I really wanted to show how far Nyx would go if he was unopposed, and that there were consequences to Eve and the others leaving to protect her. The whole idea for book two was that I had to bond these characters in a strong way, and fast. They all come from diverse backgrounds and had nothing in common with one another. I have learned from watching tragedy movies that a way to bond people is through surviving horrific ordeals together. It changes people. I wanted to see how my characters would act and how it would later change their views and their way of thinking.

I also was a big fan of the sci-fi movie, “The Island of Dr. Moreau” and I wanted to make a tribute to that movie. This was my mad doctor and his pets.

I enjoyed the prose and dialogue in this book. What is your writing process like in creating the interactions between characters?

I grew up watching “Abbot and Costello” movies and I have always loved the comedy/horror aspect. It was a touchy thing to do because everyone feels that horror has to be 100 percent serious and tense all the time. Yes. But we are human beings and unless this is planet Vulcan, we do have emotions. I think laughing or even making witty comebacks as you face down something atrocious, is simply masterful. I liked how I can do that through Rowan, he is my “Ichabod Crane” and I can use him to be witty and humorous. The interactions between Black slapping Roman when he says something stupid is my “Abbott and Costello” aspect. My whole love/hate between the good doctor and the pirate is my fondness of “Star Trek Bones and Spock” and their unspoken friendship.

What reader reactions have surprised you the most about your books?

This being a fantasy book I would have thought Argo or Lycaon being the top readers favorite character… but the pirate has won most readers hearts.

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

The third is The Dark Age Chronicles Eve of Destruction and will be available soon.

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Stranded on an elusive island in the middle of nowhere, Eve and the others try to survive the island’s thick jungle. As they explore their surroundings they find what looks like an Aztec pyramid built in the center of the island. They soon learn that the island’s inhabitants are far from what they think, and it sends them in their darkest fears as they race for their lives against creatures hell bent on consuming them alive, and a family of sadistic hunters out for fun. Together they must pit all their survival skills to outwit their newest prison: a Labyrinth full of deadly traps…….meanwhile, unopposed, Nyx unleashes mankind’s greatest foe….the Ancient Enemy.

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Case Two ~ The Kept – Trudy Hicks Ghost Hunter Traile

If anyone tells you hunting ghosts is less dangerous than chasing down real-life criminals, they’re wrong. Very, very wrong.

Case two takes us to a New Jersey Shore Inn. A beautiful, yet dead opera singer seems to be begging for help, but her pleas do nothing but terrorize the locals.

While trying to decipher the clues to her 1919 disappearance, uncovering hair-raising horrors, it becomes clear that Jason and I no longer see eye-to-eye.

Jason wants me to stop meddling with the supernatural. He wants me to stop risking my life by interacting with demons and spirits.

What he doesn’t understand is this is my life. These tortured souls need my help in order to move on. How do I walk away from that—from them?

But the better question is—how do I walk away from him?

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A Dark Side of History

Micah Genest Author Interview

Micah Genest Author Interview

The Land of Ick and Eck follows Harlot’s strange encounters as she travels through a strange land. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing story?

I’m fascinated by children’s stories that are strange and make you think, “Wait, What? Haha, did that just happen?!” Victorian literature for children, as well as older versions of fairy tales, are where I found inspiration for the setup up of this book; they so often make you take a step back, laugh, think, and then continue on with curiosity. These stories can sometimes be whimsically mature, exploring violence, sexuality, and/or morality in creative, imaginative ways. Not treating children like delicate sugar-flakes and allowing for such content adds so much depth to the meanings and understanding of the stories, something I have found difficult to come across in modern children’s literature.

So when I started writing, I wanted it to be something that that gave me similar feelings to when I read older, bizarre fairy tales. I wanted it to take place in a strange world, where things were non-sense, but also made sense if you had the knowledge to understand what was happening, especially when the reader becomes aware of the innuendos. Like many episodic folkloric tales, there is much more than what lies on the service, multiple understandings; that is what I really enjoy about such types of stories. This is one of them.

The world that you’ve built is enthralling and curious to say the least. What were some sources of inspiration for when creating this world?

Reading literature about/from the faerie, medieval, Georgian, and Victorian world was where some of my inspirations came from. I would often find myself reading, for example, faerie lore and tales, medieval fabliaux and chivalric romances, and strange episodic stories that involve children, such as Jerzy Kosiński’s The Painted Bird (a modern tale). I wanted to create something like Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Lewis Carol’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, but darker and with more macabre and questionable situations.

The realm of Ick and Eck needed to somewhere that made sense not necessarily for the human world but in the faerie world. It was to be a place that the mind of an imaginative child could easily follow and bring to life, but for adults, things might seem a little off (unless they still have the child within them). It needed to be absurd, but penetrable if you put yourself in a different sort of mind-set. To get this inspiration, I often found myself delving into the artworks of Brian Froud and other artists who have continued to add to the world of faeries and fantasy, also mixing them with some of my other interests.

One of those curiosities was religion. There are many religious characters in the book, ranging from the fat-Friar, empty moon creatures, Crowned-Alter-Fops, gluttonous monks, to name a few; I enjoy studying Abrahamic religious texts, traditions, as well as medieval stories of how clergy use power to control others. Several scenes in the book comment on these injustices, but they are mixed in with the faerie world to create a more folkloric feeling. Truth be told, no hesitation of satire was taken.

Another source of inspiration was the study of medieval and Victorian prostitution. As a reader would observe, the protagonist’s name is Harlot; yes, the story does indeed explore the ideas of a dark side of history, as well as a subject very much alive today. From the exploration of courtly love and the desperate knights in need of a doctor’s (i.e. a beautiful woman) cure to save them from love sickness, to the poetic grocery-list like booklets of women found in Harris’s List of the Covent Garden Ladies, these studies were an essential backbone and driving force of inspiration. The story is a critique of this behaviour. It is meant to bring light to a subject so many people want to hide.

The introduction of the book lays this out:

  • Into a land of fantasy
  • With haste we cast them all aside
  • No tearing if you cannot see
  • That is what we all make-believe

My list of inspiration could keep going on, so I will stop before I get carried away even more.

Harlot is a curious and innocent character that I found endearing. What were some driving ideals behind the character?

I wanted to create a character that constantly found interest in novel things, while at the same time never really learns much from their experiences. Even after Harlot is assaulted at the beginning of the book (i.e. her blue flower), deceived, used, and treated as inferior, she continues on. Some say this might be a weakness, others a strength, that is for the reader to decide.

I have found it quite funny though, how some people really like Harlot, while others really do not. Some like her curious and innocent perspective, while others think she is rude and inconsiderate, and do not want their children to read about her because she is a negative role model.

In any event, what drives Harlot is her curiosity, her unwavering innocence, and her ability to navigate such a strange place, the land of Ick and Eck. She is such a strong character, a feature I have seen in people who have been abused. I can never understand their strength. They are stronger than I could ever be.

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

I am currently working on a couple projects, but I am a very slow writer. It took me eight years to be contempt enough to pursue publishing The Land of Ick and Eck: Harlot’s Encounters. But in any event, I am working on a continuation to The Land of Ick and Eck, per say, following a girl named Perfume, as well in another section about Harlot. Each are separate and different stories, written in different styles, but in a way they meet together through common characters, situations, and absurdities.

I am quite excited about it, though I do not know how long it will take to complete.

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The Land of Ick and Eck: Harlot's Encounters by [Genest, Micah]

A much too trusting Harlot finds herself in the preyful Land of Ick and Eck, a place where she encounters peculiar creatures that have the most awful intensions of the carnal sort. By happenstance, she finds the company of a Ground Faerie, a Wood and Water Nymph, and a Butter-Maiden to assist her (sort of) along the way.

But Alas! How the outlandish figures are quite the handful, ranging from the likes of Spriggans, the-man-with-a-can-for-a-head, Jaw Skins, to Alter-Fops, a knight of courtly love, and a Nigwig (to name a few). Thankfully, there are moments of repose, such as those with the band of eunuchs with sacs on their heads, the beautiful Milk-Maidens, and the adventures within the Faerie Ring.

Though the bombardments continue to pursue her, Harlot’s innocent temperament, irrational faith, and devotion to feeding her curiosity provokes her forward, and thus her true strengths are revealed within the Land of Ick and Eck.

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