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Orange City

Orange City by [Matthew Goldberg, Lee]

Orange City by Lee Matthew Goldberg is an exciting dystopian thriller and pretty much a one-of-a-kind experience. It’s about Orange City: a bizarre place where its inhabitants are kept firmly under the control of the Man. Here they toil away for faceless organizations and use petty distractions to not drown in the misery of their jobs. Here, Graham Weatherend is placed in a unique position– he has to decide whether he will work for a dangerous and addictive new product, innocuously named Pow! Soda or whether he will take up the more risky path of finding out exactly what is going on in a world where he can trust few.

Graham is an introverted and humorous character with neat tricks up his sleeve in the most unlikely situations. His quest is to find out the truth about the soda while avoiding being banished to The Zones. All the while navigating the unexpected effects of Pow! Soda. There are some other difficult topics also addressed in this book– especially surrounding Gayle’s situation. The abuse of power and free will are central to the characters’ motivations and behavior.

I kept trying to anticipate the next twist of the plot but I could never guess where this book was going to go- the book is not only a few steps ahead of me, it simply does not follow regular science fiction rules. Which is not a bad thing at all- I was strapped in for a fun romp and ended up with a substantial and thoughtful novel. There’s probably thousands of science fiction books and movies in the world but the best of the lot have always been the ones that are adjacent to reality. The sweet spot in the uncanny valley where if the universe were merely a few degrees askew the characters’ lives would be our lives. This is what happens here.

The writing is sharp and cool- it has a neo-noir thriller vibe to it that wouldn’t be out of place in a movie where a tortured Ryan Gosling runs around town saving people while being drenched in moral ambiguity. Meaningful prose and intense drama ensues.

Orange City is a great read for anyone who enjoys science fiction thrillers or just cool and atmospheric books in general. Just be prepared to have a mini-existential crisis about where our world is headed!

Pages: 231 | ASIN: B08R96Z37G

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What Would Rocket Do?

What Would Rocket Do?: Volume 1 by [Kim Slone]

Want a glimpse inside your dog’s head? Want to see what he’s thinking? If so, this is the book you need to read! Meet Rocket. He’s a bulldog Shih-Tzu mix that lets you into his world through what he writes. You can learn about his likes and dislikes as well as getting to know his mommy, daddy, Jojo and Dougie. It can get crazy sometimes because they have a full house, so it’s never dull. He walks you through his playtime, his walking, when his mommy gets irritated at him for chasing the cats, and so much more. Come look inside Rocket’s life, and you might wonder what your pet is thinking!

What Would Rocket Do is a cute book that will keep you entertained with various candid photographs and a charming story. Reading the part where Rocket’s mommy was watching Star Wars, and he says that he loves the Ewoks and Chewbacca and he loves Yoda because he believes that he would be able to understand animals was such an entertaining section to read. This is indicative of the delightful humor throughout this book. Author Kim Slone has done an amazing job conveying Rocket’s thoughts and ideas in a way that seems so much like what a dog would actually think about. The reader is able to connect with Rocket by getting an inside look at what Rocket is thinking and what made him love his life. There are photographs of Rocket on nearly every other page of this book that bring the story to life. The photos remind of an Instagram feed where it captures the day in the life of a dog. The author’s writing is clear and the story is smooth and definitely something you can read over quickly and be left smiling.

Pages: 125 | ASIN: B089GB9Y6M

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A Surreal, Absurdist, and Grotesque Fiction

Victoria Ray
Victoria Ray Author Interview

The Pearl Territory follows the survivors of the Earth that seek a life outside their restrictive colony and may find it on an enigmatic planet. What was the inspiration for the setup to this compelling novel?

I would prefer to call them the chosen survivors because most of them (advanced and primitive) left the Earth before the gamma-ray hit it. Their escape was calculated; they had been preparing for that kind of situation.

It’s true, they are looking for the ninth planet in the hope of building the new world, the place of their dreams. The advanced are looking for new territory; the people of power – for crystal, the sacred gate between different dimensions and universes; the primitive, or people of resistance – to break free from AI. Everybody has their own agenda, but there is only one planet – the beautiful, full of water, green Pearl. How would they share it, if they ever did? Is it possible for them all to live in peace? Is Pearl a habitable place? Or is this planet only an illusion?

The story is the sketch of our society, filled with murderers, doctors, religious fanatics, kids with superpowers, mutants, demons, famous painters, witches, Egyptian Kings, magical books, AI-police, addictions, and endless sexual (often ridiculous) rules.

I’m also trying to peek into the future by analyzing such sensitive theme as partition into two primary races: advanced and primitive humans. Who knows, it might be our reality in 2718 (if we survive until then), when the worlds and the planets will be divided between nano-people (conscious robots with feelings) and good old homo sapiens.

Please don’t take this novel too seriously – this is a surreal, absurdist, and grotesque fiction full of adult humor.

Ah, about the inspiration! It is always the silence. Every novel of mine is always born from the silence…

I enjoyed the array of characters you’ve created. Who was your favorite character to write for?

I don’t have a favorite character.

The book consists of 60+ heroes. It might be challenging to follow; that’s why I’d advise you to read it in two or maximum three sittings, preferably as a paperback, in the span of a week. It shouldn’t be that hard, the book is only 200 pages long.

I’d like to mention, though, the character called Mara – the Queen of the Surreal Kingdom, hidden beneath the murky waters of Pearl (the ninth planet). She or He, or both, is the ruler of the demonic powers, the yin and the yang of the Magical Universe, the catcher of Time. I often ask myself, what would I do to stop the time? Would I be as cruel as Mara? Who knows?

Unfortunately, the most powerful people are often showing signs of cruelty, especially when they are too close to achieve or find something they dreamed of for so long…

There’s also a couple of funny metaphysical characters in my book: Mister Time himself – a horny old man who is spending his eternal life locked inside of the closed zone; and his lovely Elsa-chair, which is an actual chair that can talk, walk, and joke.

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

As I already mentioned, this novel is a sketch of our society. I tried to glimpse into the future without going deep into psychology, relationships, political fights, and the danger of artificial power. I tried to show as many typical characters of the Earth as possible.
One of the themes, of course, is the search for happiness. People are always searching for something, they are never satisfied, and this kind of dissatisfaction, as we see, leads to a lot of problems.

It doesn’t matter which theme or question you are going to pick, there’s an answer or a hero to that in ‘The Pearl Territory’.
The book is written in two formats: 50% private journals and 50% dialogues.

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

I’m working on a book called ‘The Secrets of A-Ria’, the second book in the trilogy Child of Illusion, for young adults. Genre: metaphysical fantasy, absurdist. I’m writing humorous fiction for adults, so I find it quite challenging to write for teens.

I see it as a separate book, which means you don’t need to read book 1 to understand or follow the story in book 2. The plot revolves around Codes’ land, called A-Ria – the place unseen and inaccessible by humans. The main character, Aileen, is the Code of Death, who regulates the normal flow of life on Earth. But, as always, the Earth is in danger, as well as the Land of A-Ria. The Black Creeper is coming…

The message of this book: monsters don’t always look like monsters.

It will be available in the summer of 2021.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Website

After humanity was wiped off the face of the Earth by an unexpected gamma-ray, humans built their lives on Titan inside a colony they call “Netericus.” There were 1296 original survivors.

“Netericus” has 19,347 strict and 6,980 flexible rules. The people feel trapped… Loneliness is spreading between members of the community, which is divided into “primitive” and “advanced” humans. The list of rules grows, as does the fear. A team of scientists finally makes a long-awaited breakthrough about the location of the Pearl, the 9th planet. The desire to start a new life and finally breathe outside awakes in many hearts again.
Pain Berchpull, a former pilot and one of ‘the primitive,’ has been sent on a mission—to the enigmatic Pearl. Her team has been in the most dangerous and frightening places in the Galaxy, and they have seen and done things that would make your skin crawl, but their arrival on the Pearl is the beginning of The End.

The book contains fun or gross erotica and elements of violence. Only for adults (18+)!
Genre: absurdist fiction, surreal fantasy, dystopian comedy.
This book is written in two formats: 50% – a play or dialogue and 50% – the journals.

A Key Enigma For Our Time

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Larry Lockridge Author Interview

The Cardiff Giant follows an investigative reporter searching for the missing Cardiff Giant where he wades through some wild theories to get to the truth. What was the inspiration for the setup to this riveting story?

The plot was conceived in a eureka moment when I visited the Farmers’ Museum in Cooperstown. The sculpture of the Cardiff Giant is so crude (quite unlike Marcia Scanlon’s projective cover design) that it seemed preposterous to me that so many people, including the scientific community of Boston, could have fallen for the hoax—that it was an ancient human fossil. This set me to thinking about human gullibility in general, certainly a key enigma for our time. The fictional circumstance came to me right then and there, as I peered at the homely Giant laid out in a shallow pit: what if this large piece of gypsum were to disappear? Would people, with their various belief systems in place, jump to conclusions, especially that the Giant has been reanimated and is roving the community? In short, yes.

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

Jess Freeman, the investigative reporter, occupies the middle between his gullible new acquaintances and Thor Ohnstad, the relentless skeptic. In the beginning he wishes to set aside his own humdrum skepticism for the greater excitement of belief in something exotic or paranormal. Three encounters with the thudding Giant suffice to make him, if only in some measure, a believer also, hopefully setting aside his investigative objectivity. The novel takes an added and, I hope, deeper twist when it is revealed that Thor Ohnstad, hardly an exemplar of the Enlightenment, is psychologically deranged. The novel avoids any simple conclusion that the faculty of reason can always prevail against passionate and misguided commitments. Jess Freeman, himself for a time deranged by sexual jealousy, comes to recognize in Thor Ohnstand his unnerving double.

I felt like this novel was high in social commentary. What were some themes you wanted to explore in this book?

Yes, there are key themes of social import that I explore in THE CARDIFF GIANT. The novel ends when a redneck marries a transsexual! The theme of sexual identity is high on the list, but beyond this is human identity itself. The important characters (there are only seven) define themselves in terms of their ideological commitments. The New Age believer in prior lives, for example, knows herself to be one-fourth Native American and is attempting to become one-hundred percent. The believer in kabbalistic numerology is attempting to expunge her one-half non-Jewish parentage, an odious father, and become wholly Jewish. In the end, these characters settle for the identity they already have and put aside their stretchers. E.g. The believer in kabbalistic numerology reverts to mainstream cultural Judaism. But the phantasmagoric ending unsettles any easy fallback that everyone, including Jack Thrasher himself, has settled into a comfortable, recognizable world.

This book is part of The Enigma Quartet. What can readers expect in the next book?

The four novels of THE ENIGMA QUARTET are described in full on my website, from which I draw a bit here. I’ll say something about all four. (The first chapter of the novel set in Cyprus is found in the back matter of my Giant and is an overture to the novel as a whole.) They do not have recurring characters or plot strands but are united in how characterization relates to plot structure and in recurring themes. THE CARDIFF GIANT satirizes human gullibility. THE GREAT CYPRUS THINK TANK satirizes utopian ideals. OUT OF WEDLOCK satirizes the nature versus nurture controversy, centering on human identity. And THE WOMAN IN GREEN satirizes key aspects of American history. Whatever these shifts in emphasis, human identity is the largest thematic connection. And in each I launch a small cast of singular humans confronted with puzzles or enigmas who set out to resolve them. They suffer entanglements within the ranks and external threats but ultimately prevail in their quests through buoyancy, pluck, and affection. THE ENIGMA QUARTET is a testimony to human resolve and intelligence, despite a large dose of counterevidence. As Malachy McCourt writes of THE CARDIFF GIANT, “this fierce, upbeat novel is a timely restorative in a dark season.” I’d like to think this true of all four.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter

The Cardiff Giant, set in Cooperstown, New York, has up its novelistic sleeve Puck’s profound declaration, “Lord, what fools these mortals be!” Jess Freeman, investigative reporter, arrives on the scene to look into the weird disappearance from the Farmers’ Museum of a huge human figure. He had been unearthed in the late nineteenth century near Cardiff, New York. Jess confronts locals and outsiders who all have a theory, including that the giant has been reanimated and is lurching throughout the community. They are enmeshed in self-punishing belief systems such as alien abduction, astrology, kabbalistic numerology, New Age rebirthing, and religious dogmas reduced to literal absurdities. The fast-paced action centers around episodes where they pay a sorry price for their beliefs. But skeptics don’t fare much better, susceptible as they are to mental disorders that show the faculty of reason is fragile indeed. These characters group and regroup, with romance always on their minds, and finally come to recognitions at once surprising and moving.

The Cardiff Giant

The Cardiff Giant is a hilarious novel first novel, in a series of four, that is set in Cooperstown, New York in 2003. Written by Larry Lockridge, the short novel is narrated by Jack, an investigative journalist dispatched to Cooperstown to investigate the disappearance of the Cardiff Giant.

Lockridge gives an informative and entertaining description of the Cooperstown setting. In some detail he describes the physical appearance of the town and the many tourist attractions such as the Baseball Hall of Fame. There is also a breakdown of the town’s cultural diversity and a brief history on how it came to exist. This sets the scene well for the rest of the story and hints at some of the action to follow.

Intense and complicated characters are an integral part of the novel. Jack is open minded investigative journalist and is prepared to find paranormal experiences in his mission to discover the secret of the missing Cardiff Giant. He soon finds himself in a town with an interesting community that includes such diverse characters as Tarbox the town sheriff (and pig farmer) sisters Sheila, a set designer, and Esther, a psychotherapist, Thor Ohnstad, head of the local Chamber of Commerce (and inn keeper).  Each character has their own motivations and unique voice, including beliefs in alien abduction, rebirthing, astrology, psychokinesis and kabbalistic numerology. Jack, the main character, even becomes entangled with the characters and their beliefs. Their belief systems often compete with other’s beliefs, which Lockridge brings alive with intense and occasionally absurd dialogue between the characters.

The story is organized into three parts, with numerous chapters in each. Despite the numerous characters, themes and romantic twists and turns, the story is well structured. It is very easy to follow and flows well.

Despite the outlandish characters and sometimes wild situations, author Larry Lockridge manages to cleverly couple this with some serious themes of love, jealousy, envy and pursuit of self-identity. These themes are obvious at the start of the novel and are cleverly carried through right until the end of the novel.

I highly recommend The Cardiff Giant. Author Larry Lockridge’s writing appealed to my sense of humor, but I also enjoyed the deeper underlying themes of the novel. The Cardiff Giant also gives the reader an opportunity to examine their own belief system, and self-identity – if one feels the need to read the book for more than just entertainment value. This is a satirical psychological thriller unlike any other book I’ve read recently.

Pages: 164 | ISBN: 1771804246

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Simply Spiffin!

Simply Spiffin! by [Terry Tumbler]

Spiff Tracey is one in a million. Case by case, he takes on the world. Fortunately for the world, Spiff outlives everyone and everything around him. His ability to continue to thrive well into the future is matched by none. Spiff also remains unmatched in his ability to investigate and bring the guilty to justice. When he is tasked with something quite different from all of his other cases to date, Spiff feels he is just the man for the job. Nothing is too difficult and nothing too challenging for a man of his means and vast experience.

Simply Spiffin!, by Terry Tumbler, is the third installment of the Carousels of Life series. Spiff Tracey, the book’s main character is virtually ageless and manages to bring his brand of investigative genius into every decade and every major world event. This futuristic tale smacks of science fiction while at the same time offering humor and bits of intrigue and drama. There is nothing Tumbler hasn’t thought of in book three of this series, and for a third in the series, I feel it can stand alone well.

It is always a breath of fresh air to come across humor in a book otherwise steeped in drama. Tumbler’s books have all of that and more. The bigger-than-life characters are well-developed and stand out against a backdrop of what can sometimes be overwhelmingly technical elements. Each new character is a treasure in Tumbler’s writing. It is not often that readers find themselves just as enamored with the supporting characters, but Tumbler manages to achieve just that effect.

One of the most unique aspects of Tumbler’s writing is the inclusion of song lyrics. There is nothing quite like Tumbler’s work. Nowhere else will readers be able to find the words to their favorite classic tunes woven throughout a work of engaging science fiction. It’s a special blend of music and mayhem and, as odd as it may sound, a nice fit. It’s a technique that is present in each of the works I have read by Tumbler and always makes me look forward to the next one.

Tumbler has again handed readers a fantastic main character, a stand-out cast of supporting players, and a wonderful science fiction plot. Spiff Tracey, the private eye and world traveler, will invite readers in, but Tumbler’s unique brand of writing will keep them coming back for more.

Pages: 336 | ASIN:  B08Q9YKT6L

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A Funny Fish-Out-Of-Water Adventure

Ulises Silva
Ulises Silva Author Interview

The Modern Aztec’s Guide to Dating and Time Travel follows a savvy woman who must protect her DIY time travel device from some dangerous people. What was the inspiration for the setup to this fun story?

First off, thank you for your review and kind words about my novel! It’s always a thrilling and humbling moment when I hear that someone actually enjoyed it!

The list of things that inspired The Modern Aztec’s Guide to Dating and Time Travel would take up about 514 pages, but here’s the very condensed version. Time travel stories like Back to the Future, the delightfully comedic works of authors like Christopher Moore, Alexander C. Kane, and Jenny Lawson, the current socio-political climate, my own experiences as a Mexican-American, and, of course, my love of strong, female leads.

I wanted a story about a very exceptional but downtrodden character who, despite all her gifts and skills, just wants a normal, simple life. But because of those gifts and skills, normalcy just isn’t in the cards for her. With supervillains, evil corporations, and guardian demons and angels alike coming after her, the story really is about Quality having to decide whether she’s going to rise to the challenge and reluctantly embrace her role as badass heroine.

I wanted a funny fish-out-of-water adventure where this character has every reason in the world to be a jerk…yet somehow remains positive and committed to protecting this pesky little thing called the space-time continuum.

Quality Jones is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind her character development?

I wanted her to be, at heart, a good, moral character despite a lifetime of never fitting in, never being accepted, and forever living under the fear of persecution and even death. It was important for me that she remain true to her core despite all the temptations to just give in and make lots of money off of her time travel technology. More importantly, I wanted her to be real. She’s not perfect by any means. She’s kind of selfish, a little bit immature despite her age, a little bit ditzy despite being very clever, and not the wisest person despite being a technical genius.

But I wanted her to endure lots of suffering, including the loss of her great love, but still be able to bounce back and fight through. Even though she prefers to live an anonymous, normal life, things outside of her control push her into extraordinary circumstances, and how she chooses to respond is at the heart of this planned trilogy.

Finally, I really wanted Quality to serve as a lens through which to view our own reality. She is, after all, an outsider that grew up in a parallel timeline where there never was a United States. Now, she’s in a world where corporations can invasively enforce brand loyalty, where corrupt police can do whatever they want to whomever they want, and where it’s illegal for someone like her (i.e., half Mexican) to hold a good job. Quality’s earnest observation of things is, in my opinion, the perfect vehicle for some much-needed satire for this day and age.

This novel delivers some very entertaining scenes. What was the funnest thing about writing this novel?

Without giving too much away, there are some characters that serve as perfect foils to Quality, and it was a blast to just put them in the same room and see what happened. When you have a character as relatively straight-laced as her, and when she has to deal with some genuinely absurd people (I’m looking at you, Sevastian), the results were often unpredictable. I’d have plot ideas, yes, but the most fun part of writing this was just letting loose and letting the characters’ respective foibles play off one another.

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

I’m torn between doing the sequel to my second novel, The Perfect Teresa (which you also reviewed, by the way!), and the sequel to this one. The good news is that the sequel to The Modern Aztec’s Guide to Dating and Time Travel is already kind of written. I began this story much farther along before realizing that the backstory was just too much (and too funny) to leave as backstory. So that’s how this particular book came about, and why I’m technically far along into writing the sequel.

And while I’d love to say, “Oh, the sequel is coming out in 2021,” every time I put a date on things, I tend to jinx myself. So let’s just say, it’s coming out in the near future!

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Times have changed for Quality Jones…literally.

She’s survived two time-travel accidents and grown up in a timeline where the Aztecs defeated the Spanish. Her DIY time-travel technology could vaporize the space-time continuum. Her cat is abusive and her Guardian Demon is a jerk. She can’t even afford a real pair of Uggs. But all Quality wants is normalcy—and to start her own business.

Even normalcy is too tall an order when she runs into the world’s most lovable band of supervillains out to conquer the world in the name of EVIL. Turns out there are people who would do anything to get their hands on her time-travel technology. Who would have thought?

Now, Quality must work with friends and frenemies alike to protect her time-travel secrets at all costs. And she’ll need all the tacos and dating advice she can get if she’s going up against Amazon Prime battle tanks, quantum cataclysms, and one alarming possibility.

That maybe those time-travel accidents that completely upended her life weren’t accidents at all.

Turning Them Loose

Michael Murphey
Mike Murphey Author Interview

Wasting Time is a thrilling science fiction story that continues your Physics, Lust and Greed Series. What were some new ideas you that you wanted to introduce in this book that were different from book one?

I wanted to better develop Marta and Marshall’s relationship and to lay a foundation for the artificial intelligence becoming a more central part of the story. Another important job for this book is creating a transition to book 3, Killing Time, which will be published in May.

This is a fun novel that delivers some very entertaining scenes. What was the funnest thing about writing this novel?

The mist fun thing about writing any novel is refining your characters, then turning them loose and then letting them go.

What were some goals you set for yourself as a writer in this book?

My principle goal in any of my novels is to entertain—to make people laugh. If you can offer a little depth along the way, so much the better.

What can readers expect in book three of your Physics, Lust and Greed Series?

Killing Time… Physics Lust and Greed Series, Book 3.

At every crossroads he’s encountered in life, Sean Brody has made the safe choice. In the year 2046, at the age of ninety-three, Sean is given one final opportunity to deal with his greatest regret. Sean is the only man Marshall Grissom and Marta Hamilton can find who might be able to save Sheila Schuler, their friend and fellow traveler lost in the distant reaches of time. If Sean accepts the task of traveling to his childhood in a parallel universe—with no guarantee that any aspect of the past can be changed—Sean must also accept his death in the only world he knows.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

When time travelers fail test after test to significantly alter the past, financial backers abandon the Global Research Consortium leaving veteran traveler Marta Hamilton to administer a vastly scaled-down project. 

She must protect the past from a greedy future, fend off political meddling, and foil a murder plot originating in a parallel universe. Marta presides over a conspiracy to hide the truth of her best friend’s death while coping with a confusing romantic entanglement involving fellow time traveler Marshall Grissom.

Marta, who has always distanced herself from emotional commitment as a professional necessity, lapses by allowing herself the luxury of friendship with Sheila Schuler and a night of wild sex with Marshall. 

Now, Sheila is likley dead, and—according to a genius physicists’ theory—Marshall soon will be. As she assumes her role as administrator of the time travel program, Marta must choose between the risk of loving someone, or the lonely safety of emotional solitude (no cats were harmed in the telling of this story).
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