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The Jailbird’s Jackpot

The Jailbird's Jackpot (Faith, Family, Frenzy! Book 4) by [PJ Colando]

The Jailbird’s Jackpot by PJ Colando is a fascinating story of parolee Amy Breeden who just won a lottery mega-million jackpot hours after being released from prison. She is not thinking of investing the money even after being advised by her parole officer. She is focused on Travis and getting revenge after being setup and having spent time in jail.

PJ Colando has written a fun and compelling revenge novel with the right balance of satire and suspense. Amy’s character, while far from perfect, is one that I instantly liked and was someone that I could root for, even in her pursuit of revenge. The plot of the story was consistently compelling and thoroughly entertaining. When Amy wins the lotto you find yourself frustrated because the character does not do what others would do, invest the money. But this is what keeps the reader invested and wanting to find out what happens next.

PJ Colando’s writing style is invigorating and refreshing. I love the author’s fresh ideas and unconventional characters that always broke stereotypes. The setting in the book was described in great detail which made the world itself into a character. The Jailbird’s Jackpot is a unique crime fiction story with a crazy revenge plot that ultimately leads to some thought-provoking themes of personal redemption. I keep coming back to one word when I want to describe this book; fun. This was a lively story with an amusing plot that I heartily recommend to anyone that is looking for a story with a bit of mischief and a lot of drama.

Pages: 376 | ASIN: B08FVJSWB9

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The Little Handbook for Navigationally Challenged Cidiots – Book Trailer

Filled with hundreds of common driving offenses, this gut-wrenching funny handbook features hilariously, jaw dropping terms and phrases describing some of the nastiest driving habits you or another cidiot have engaged in almost every day on the highways and byways. Inside, you’ll find “The Motor Mouth Motorist” who suffers from road rage, “The Para Lane Bluffer” who can’t decide if they want to merge with oncoming traffic until the last second, “The Eye Shadow Bandit” who thinks she’s skilled enough to drive at high speeds while applying makeup in the car mirror, and many more epic adventures of daily cidiot driving habits that are far too many to list here. Whether you’re the culprit or the victim of cidiot driving, The Little Handbook for Navigationally Challenged Cidiots will have you laughing, pouring tears, and showing off your enriched cidiot vocabulary.

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Section Roads

Section Roads by [Mike Murphey]

Section Roads is a captivating mystery novel by Mike Murphey that follows a group of friends getting together at their small New Mexico hometown for their high school reunion after more than forty years. As freshmen band geeks, Cullen Molloy and Shelby Blaine meet in the small town of Arthur, New Mexico during the 1960’s. As they experience their first love, they also form a friendly relationship with Buddy, a misunderstood football player. Little do they know, this friendship will be forever bonded by a dark secret. When they reach sophomore year, Buddy is charged with the murder of a girl named Chrissy Hammond, though later absolved of the charge. The crime causes the three friends to leave Arthur in hopes of starting their lives over elsewhere, that is until forty years later they return to their hometown and are forced to face the past as a new killing takes place.

Mike Murphey has an extraordinary way of intertwining past and present events smoothly to form a single story. One that does not cease to surprise at every turn. The main character, Cullen Molloy, is a semi-retired attorney with a newfound confidence he never displayed during high school. He considers himself a protector of his friends, especially Buddy, who he feels has carried a terrible weight on his shoulders for too long. Shelby is the perfect example of the shy but pretty girl who peaks after high school and develops an outgoing, slightly flirtatious personality and lives by herself after divorcing twice. Her connection to Cullen is deep, yet they never seem to be at the same place at the same time. As for Buddy, he is a loner man as he was a loner teenager. Haunted by the events he lived through high school and plagued by the guilt of the death of his fellow classmate. He finds himself in trouble when he returns home forty years after high school. The way the author creates a story that spans over four decades, the relatable characters and setting, and the exciting course of events rich with drama, murder, romance, and suspense, makes for no less than a five-star review. It reminds of the same character and plot buildup effortlessly accomplished in Stephen King novels. I enjoyed Section Roads thoroughly and highly recommend it to any mystery fan out there.

Pages: 361 | ASIN: B07RSLSFKS

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Back From The Brink

C.E. Clayton
C.E. Clayton Author Interview

Resistor is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a cyberpunk, fantasy, and a thriller as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?

I knew I wanted to write a cyberpunk novel with a twist from the onset. I love the aesthetic of cyberpunk settings, but I wanted to mix that future tech with magic, because I always find that to be such an interesting mix. What can magic do that smart technology can’t? What kind of relationship would people with magic have in regards to someone who can put that magic into a device they can wield just as easily? The rest, in terms of the other genres that crop up, happened organically. I wanted to write something that was an epic, fun adventure, something that was maybe a little silly when it comes to banter and how serious the story takes itself, but with these moments of really raw intensity. I wanted to have just as much fun writing this story as readers would when they dove in, but while still covering heavy hitting topics like grief and depression, and certain genres and tropes cover those themes better than others, so I tended to pull from those elements when necessary. It does make Resistor a little hard to pin down in terms of genre, but I don’t consider that to be a bad thing, either.

Ellinor is an intriguing character. What were some obstacles you felt were important in shaping her character?

For Ellinor, her biggest obstacle, and what shapes her personality most for this first book, is her anger, her overwhelming sense of loss and betrayal. Ellinor’s grief for what happened to her husband never much progressed past the anger and rage stages, which had to color all of her actions and interactions with the other characters in the book – including former friends. In a way, Ellinor wants to remain angry because it’s safer for her, safer than feeling friendship or attachment again after being so profoundly hurt. But that’s not really her personality at her core, so shaping Ellinor to where she forces herself to be angry and grumpy, and mean, toward everyone when part of her doesn’t want to be was a very fine line both Ellinor, and I as the writer, had to toe. Ellinor has to be mean, and grouchy, and therefore a bit unlikable because that’s what she wants, she doesn’t want people to get close to her again. But if she was too unlikable for the reader, well, that’s just a bad time for everyone! So while this kind of obstacle was important to shaping her character and character arc in general, to show how far back from the brink she has to come, it was also an obstacle for me as a writer!

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

I love books that make me feel things; that can just as easily tug all my heart strings as they can make me laugh, or get my heart racing with action. I had also been itching to write a heroine who wasn’t instantly likeable, that wasn’t a chosen one, was violent and angry. You don’t see that often in fantasy, where the main female character is kind of mean! So, because I was already vibing pretty hard with the cyberpunk aesthetic, and my last fantasy series was magic light, I wanted to lean more into the things I hadn’t done before. I started world building and coming up with a world, a magic system, and then figuring out how a character who was going to grow a lot over the course of their arc would fit into that. That’s typically how I write most of my novels, I store all these interesting ideas or creatures, or worlds and then figure out what would happen if I were to put a certain kind of person at the center of it all. I am mostly a pantser when it comes to writing my books, letting the characters drive, with only a vague outline for every 10 chapters or so as I go along, except when it comes to world and character building. That is always meticulously crafted before I start with the plot.

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

Book 2 will pretty much start right where the first book left off, so Ellinor and those she’s with do have a plan and goal in mind for what they need to do by the end of the next story. But the biggest thing the reader will see is the continuing evolution of Ellinor’s character arc, her, almost reluctantly at times, releasing her anger and prejudices. Of finding a new purpose and reasons to keep living beyond her desire for vengeance. Book two will also see a lot more of Kai and Jelani! Kai goes through a lot of growth and very raw and real moments in the second book, while there is also a lot of evolution in Jelani’s relationships, including more of his little sister who is briefly introduced in the first book. You’ll also see a lot more of the Ashlings and where and how zey live in the next installment which means, while there will still be a lot of colorful magic, readers can expect to see more of the tech side of Eerden as well. Book two is just as action packed, with some of my most cinematic fight scenes to date, according to my early readers. So a lot of what readers enjoyed in this adventure will be back and in greater force in the next book, which is good because a lot of the character growth that occurs is very painful, metally and physically in some cases. But the ending is worth the struggle, I promise!

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Instagram | Website

Ellinor Rask has wanted one thing for the past eight years: vengeance. But when Ellinor is captured, she finds herself dragged back into the world she walked away from, entangled once more with friends she would rather forget.

As if that weren’t humiliating enough, Ellinor learns first hand that her magic can be stripped away by a piece of bio-tech—and her ex-boss is happy to leash her with the technology in order to get what he wants. If Ellinor behaves, the device will be removed. All she has to do is deliver a package. One containing a creature created from raw magical energy and discarded technology. Simple, right?

But when her goals start getting people murdered, Ellinor has to decide if the year’s planning, her honor, and even her own magic, are worth the lives it’s costing. Dodging ruthless gangsters, she finds herself on the run with a creature of immeasurable magical abilities alongside her one-time friends. Now, Ellinor must relearn to trust the people she once abandoned. She must put her faith in technology, and her life in the hands of independent contractors, all while racing to deliver the package before it gets taken by force, or worse, the creature decides to make an appearance itself.

The Little Handbook for Navigationally Challenged Cidiots

The Little Handbook for Navigationally Challenged Cidiots by [D.C. Head, Gershan Head, Kenneth Head, S.V. Head]

D.C. Head’s The Little Handbook for Navigationally Challenged Cidiots is a reminder that one does not have to take a complex book to gain knowledge from reading. D.C. Head writes with a light touch. The text used in the book is easy to understand and the narration is entertaining. The author wrote a convenient driver’s handbook for drivers who are not confident on roads and those that want to learn the behavior of various motorists. The book is not only great for new drivers but also experienced drivers who have been on the road for decades.

Hilariously, the author highlights the sins committed by motorists on the road. If you are an impatient driver, some of these motorists will get to you. The author however makes some of these mistakes seem not too serious to get one angry. While reading, you get to learn about different types of drivers; the slow drivers, drivers who disregard traffic rules, those that use non-roadworthy vehicles, and those that drive as if they own the whole lane among others. The frustrations on the road can be too much for someone who is easily angered. While reading this book, however, one learns that it is human to make some mistakes and that they should not warrant much anger. It is also important to consider other road users while traveling as a simple mistake can be fatal.

I like how the author lays down the lessons she wants the reader to take note of. The author is a natural writer and will have you enjoying her stories with little effort. I appreciate how the author emphasizes certain points for road users. Using humor, D.C. Head writes about being a decent driver while minding others. The road is no place to have unnecessary fun as everyone is in a rush to get to their destination. Her attention to detail is another great thing about the author. She writes about the most minute things on the road, things that sometimes go unnoticed by both pedestrians and drivers. Usage of the term cidiots was not only funny to me but also a distinct way to make points.

The author’s silly takes are not the only thing entertaining about this book. The illustrations are amazing too. They add color and spice up the content in the book. Every illustration has a unique object that gets one staring for minutes. The drawings are an amazing way of passing a message and also showcasing how talented illustrators are. The quiz at the end of the book was a great concept. Getting to answer the simple questions was a pleasant activity and made the book even more enjoyable. If you need a quick refresher course as a driver, then The Little Handbook for Navigationally Challenged Cidiots is the book for you.

Pages: 106 | ISBN: 1304867277

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The Voyages of Ralf, Vol. 1: The Arc of Purchaser

The Voyages of Ralf, Vol. 1: The Arc of Purchaser by [R.M. Kozan]

If you looked up “hapless” in the dictionary, chances are you would find a picture of Ralf, science officer with the Space Corps. He didn’t do things so much as things happened to him. It had been that way his entire life. However, the things happening to him seemed to escalate at an alarming rate during his service aboard the starcraft NOSFERATU. In an increasingly absurd series of events, Ralf finds himself repeatedly faced with the very real possibility of his demise, only to be saved time and time again by yet more absurdity. All that’s missing is a spiritual crisis, but Ralf will find that in due time as well.

The Voyages of Ralf, Vol 1 follows the reluctant protagonist on his travels as he traverses the universe, is brought aboard multiple ships, and serves on a variety of crews. Author R.M. Kozan displays a masterful use of language as he creates his story and uses wordplay reminiscent of Douglas Adams or a Monty Python sketch. Although the story is divided into three separate parts, they read as one linear story and the overall tones of absurdity and cynicism are nearly palpable even through the written word. At the same time, the variety of galactic species introduced throughout provides an ever increasing collection of characters that prevents the story from ever getting stale. Kozan walks a fine line between absurd and just plain nonsensical, and while he does occasionally slow down the narrative by veering into the territory of the latter, it’s never enough to completely derail the enjoyment of the book. Ralf himself is written in a way that almost seems paradoxical. He is clearly the main character and it was a pleasure to see where his adventures led next, but his bland and almost apathetic existence made it hard to feel much about him one way or another.

Although there are some religious undertones to the book, especially in parts 2 and 3, they are approached in the exact same ridiculous way as the rest of the story. It could probably be argued that the book is a satire about religious beliefs and the fact that they have caused so much strife throughout history. Despite that, it doesn’t come across as condescending.

Ralf’s voyages are so imaginative, it never faltered in its pace, and it kept things light hearted throughout. (Always a plus these days!) Not to mention, it was a healthy amount of bizarre and just plain fun to read!

Pages: 237 | ASIN: B08F4HV7NP

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Sophia Freeman and The Mysterious Fountain

Sophia Freeman and the Mysterious Fountain (Book 1) by [T.X. Troan]

Sophia and her father aren’t exactly what you would call close. Between the drivers, the maids, and the high profile job, her father doesn’t have time to devote to the daughter who aches to once again have his attention. After losing her mother, Sophia wishes for nothing more than a normal father-daughter relationship–one where she can talk about her day and ask him about his. When her father makes plans to explore his new island together, Sophia decides this is the perfect opportunity to connect with him. But is her father’s newest business venture going to stand in the way once more? And will the rumors surrounding the haunted island prove to be more than just talk?

Sophia Freeman and the Mysterious Fountain, by T.X. Troan, is the story of one young girl’s adventure on an island her grandfather claims is haunted. When Sophia’s inattentive father takes her to visit, she quickly loses her way when she ventures off on her own to explore. She soon finds herself in quite the predicament, facing a variety of forest creatures unlike anything in her wildest imagination.

I was immediately struck by the relatable storyline in the opening chapters of Troan’s book. Young readers who find themselves with preoccupied parents will sympathize with Sophia. Her desire to bond with her widowed father is strong, and readers will root for a happy ending to Sophia’s story.

Admittedly, I didn’t immediately see the book taking a turn toward fantasy. I assumed from Sophia’s grandfather’s comments about a haunted island that readers would be treated to a mystery. The quick move toward fantasy was surprising yet refreshing. The illustrations depicting the creatures throughout Troan’s work are nothing less than phenomenal. I found myself lingering over them and can see younger readers losing themselves in the imagery.

The only human on the strange island, Sophia faces interactions with one unique being after another. The plot moves quickly, and there are plenty of mini action sequences to keep younger readers engaged and invested in Sophia’s storyline. Her relationship and the way she is forced to question her father’s true intentions is an underlying factor throughout the story. Even on the island surrounded by magical creatures, Sophia must face the truth about her life.

Sophia Freeman and the Mysterious Fountain is a quick read, appropriate for tween readers, and contains a highly engaging fantasy plot. Between the stunning illustrations and the battle between good and evil that permeates the plot, Troan is handing young readers a story to remember.

Pages: 144 | ASIN: B07Q1F1SGL

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Quite Unexpectedly

T.P. Graf
T.P. Graf Author Interview

As the Daisies Bloom follows the life of August and shows how relationships and love have lasting effects. What was the inspiration for the setup to this emotional story?

The inspiration came to me quite unexpectedly. I woke up one morning with the opening chapter in my mind and the characters came to me as I began to write down the story. I have written free verse over the years and the reference to the “Stories for Tyler” which August describes as his tiny systematic theology are Bible characters stories I wrote a few years ago and decided to work in as a companion to this work. (That book is also on Amazon under the title “August Kibler’s Stories for Tyler.”)

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

I think the review addressed this perfectly. I wanted to convey the complexity of racism, sexism, militarism, patriotism and the judgement the gay community faces from religion in particular in as compelling and compassionate a voice as I could muster.

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

I have written a sequel which is also set up in the memoir style where Tyler (as executor) finds a file on August’s computer which delves into more of August’s ancestry, life as a child, college days and finally in Boone bringing everything back to the present with the Marvel-Jemisons. I plan to release this in January assuming my friends reviewing it now find it compelling enough to proceed.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website

Was it a chance meeting in the Daisy Cafe that brought a father and his boys from Macon, Georgia, descendants of slaves, into the life of a descendent of Swiss Mennonites, or was it the mysterious workings of the father’s grandmother, Momma Daisy? August Kibler tells the stories of his own life and the lives of Tyler, Johnny, and Jimmy through the tragedy and grief, and the joy and gratitude, that each discovered along the way. The generous spirit they share is a gift to any seeking greater understanding when you believe you have little in common. Yet it is through sharing that August discovers a deep reverence for Momma Daisy and Pappy Jemison, and for the legacy of love and mettle that defined their lives. August challenges our certitudes as, in his own life, he says, “I would rather have doubts and be wrong than to be certainly wrong.” Tyler and August bear witness to what might appear to be ordinary lives, yet which both see as nothing less than extraordinary.
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