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First Born Sons

First Born Sons by Vincent Traughber Meis is an eye-opening, heartfelt story of the modern-day struggles of growing up in America. The characters, narrated in separate storylines set across the country, with various LGBTQ+ identities, are looking for solidarity and love in communities rife with racism, misogyny, and homophobia. As each character’s story progresses, the reader gets a glimpse into their reality, which is often plagued with the challenges of facing discrimination daily, while finding compassion and allies that provide much-needed love and support.

The author does an incredible job of tackling essential issues impacting society, from gender, equality, and race to the sudden shift from 2019 to 2020 as the pandemic changed lives worldwide. As each character navigates through their own individual challenges within their family and the greater community, their lives become interwoven during a Black Lives Matter demonstration and a birthday celebration. This book offers an essential view into the realities of growing up with continuous uncertainties each character faces while keeping humanity solid and hopeful throughout the narration.

Vincent Traughber Meis’ book is an essential read that delves into relevant subject matter without losing a sense of purpose as each character faces a new struggle. First Born Sons tackles the characters’ realities of facing racial tension and confrontation with the police and coping with the threats of bullies to taking a vacation to experience new cultures and people.

This book is easy to follow, with engaging scenes and lively characters that keep you turning the pages from one chapter to the next. I give Vincent Traughber Meis’ First Born Sons 5 out of 5 stars for creativity, remarkable story-telling, and the ability to tackle complex issues with a sense of resilience and strength throughout the book. This incredible story features vibrant characters and excellent development that keeps the reader invested in the story from beginning to end.

ASIN : B0B6T5WWHK

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Acceptance of Differences In All People

Jeffrey Sotto Author Interview

The Moonballers follows a gay tennis star that feels threatened by a straight player that joins their organization. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I’ve been part of a queer tennis league in Toronto, Ontario, Canada since 2003. Back then, we only had queer members, and I always thought it would be funny to see how the league would react when straight people started to join. I then put the idea aside as I worked on my first book. Then in 2016, when Donald Trump was elected president, I thought about this premise again, and started to imagine what my main character would be like – a president who wanted to keep certain types of people out; in this case, keep straight people out of a queer sports league.

Stefan wants to be the best, and when someone tries to take that spot from him, his worst side comes out. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Stefan is toxic masculinity personified; he’s the ugliness of the ego that comes out in all of us when we feel inferior to others, and must compensate by bullying. As I mentioned, I looked at Donald Trump as for inspiration for Stefan; I feel his actions are a response to a threat of being replaced as the “queen bee”; he is driven by his ego and need to feel worshipped as president of the league and the best player. In all his villanry, I tried to make his antics as ridiculously absurd and funny as possible.

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

I wanted to highlight the consequences of the ego’s response to feeling inferior. But I “flipped the script” by having Stefan, and the league, queer. I wanted to challenge the idea that toxic masculinity is only associated with heterosexual men. There’s sometimes a stereotype that gay men are supposed to be softer, effeminate, and ultimately weaker than straight ones. But as I’ve witnessed in my almost 20 years as part of a queer tennis league, when the competitive juices for superiority — the “need to win” — rears its ugly head, the toxicity that manifests can come from anyone despite their gender, sexual orientation, and all other parts of their identities. In other words, we are ALL toxic as*holes. Lol. Further, there is a message about the need for the acceptance of differences in all people, and the pervasive bias and intolerance in everyone, including those who insist they are “woke.”

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

Similar to the tone of my first novel, Cloud Cover, which was a lot more serious and dramatic than The Moonballers, I want to do a modern retelling of the story of Adam and Eve. In this version, the Adam character will be a middle-aged, gay, HIV-positive asexual, and the Eve character will be a young, bisexual and polyamourous woman. Being inspired by Eve’s liberated way of living, Adam will re-enter the dating world in hopes of finding love and connection. Considering the political events unfolding in the United States right now, I want to show their journey together in coming to terms with the outcomes of pursuing their own empowerment and personal freedom, despite what institutional or ideological constraints are placed upon them. This book is still in very early stages, but I’m hoping to publish it by 2026.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

“MAKE TENNIS GAY AGAIN!”

Winter 2016. The Toronto Torches—aka the Toronto Gay and Lesbian Tennis League—had come to a crash under mysterious circumstances.

Spring 2020. A new queer tennis organization has been created in the nearby wanna-be-downtown suburb of Torpedo Valley. Proud and out Stefan “Steffi” Porsche relishes in his dominance as both the President of the league, and—coincidentally—the league’s best player. That is, until strapping and super talented Khalid Adam arrives. But differences threaten to disrupt the order of the gay institution: Khalid is … STRAIGHT, sending Stefan into a neurotic tizzy.

Will the hyper-competitive and heterophobic Stefan maintain his invincibility, or will Khalid dethrone him? Can Khalid—and all those outside the queer majority—be kept from invading the sacredness of the gay tennis league? Or will President Stefan succeed in his quest to “MAKE TENNIS GAY AGAIN!”?

With a colourful cast of characters, campy humour, and dramatic twists à la Pedro Almodóvar, The Moonballers: A Novel about The Invasion of a LGBTQ2+ Tennis League … by Straight People (Gay Gasp!) is an action packed and wacky sports parody about intolerance, love, and the absurdity of socio-political extremes that will hit you like a hard shot straight to the face!

Being Commonplace, Doesn’t Mean It’s Not Insidious

Henry Corrigan Author Interview

A Man in Pieces follows a desperate father-to-be as he battles his boss for a job that leads one of them to contemplate committing murder. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

A Man in Pieces started with my nightmares. I was sweating over bills, (in fact, I still am) dealing with underhanded bosses and backstabbing coworkers and just dreading each day that I reported to work. I was looking for a way to sleep better at night, so I started writing down everything that kept me up at night. The idea was that if I could get a look at the worst the world had to offer, then it would help me get a better handle on it. What I realized as I was writing it is that lots of people sweat over bills and plenty of others hate their jobs. But just because something is commonplace, doesn’t mean it’s not insidious.

Mike is plagued with bad options all around and has to find a way to make things work. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

I based Mike very much on myself, but subtracted some of the things that have kept me alive. I made him more stoic than I am, I had him talk less, because I wanted to see what would happen if I didn’t turn away from my own worst impulses. For Mike, all of those bad options were the same ones that many people face. Bad jobs we can’t live without, mounting pressures, no guarantees that anything will work. It’s frightening stuff and it wasn’t until I was staring at it that I knew what I was writing was a horror story. It might not be what people traditionally think of as horror, there are no monsters or slashers or demons involved, but there are the kinds of fears that keep too many of us up at night.

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

I absolutely wanted to explore toxic masculinity because I’ve been living with it all my life. The sort of learned helplessness where I’m never supposed to cry or admit weakness. Where I keep going, even when I’m breaking down by inches. I also wanted to touch on how toxic masculinity and a person’s sexuality can get twisted up like roots that end up strangling each other. I wanted to take all of this and throw it in a blender with systemic abuse and what came out was a reflection of the world around us. An American Dream which left most people struggling and the rest of us driving each other mad.

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

I actually have a couple of (wildly different) books that I’m working on. One is a picture book about a little monster who lives in a girl’s tummy and helps her eat healthy. That one I just finished revising and it’s currently with the editor. As to when it will be available, that’s up in the air at the moment. I’m also revising the first book in a planned sci-fi series and am hoping to get that to beta readers some time in the near future. I’ve also also got a sword and sorcery short story that I’m thinking about self-publishing later this year and a horror novella I’ll be working on with a mentor in 2023. (I got accepted into the Horror Writers Association Mentor Program, which I’m hoping will be a blast, so please wish me luck.) Beyond that, I’ve got a number of short stories in a number of genres that I’ve already self-published, with several more planned in the coming year, so keep eye on Twitter or Facebook where I’ll be posting every new announcement 🙂 Thank you so much for having me here, this opportunity has meant the world to me.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Driven by bad choices and worse options, a desperate father-to-be must battle his abusive boss for the last slot at a dead-end job, but the fight may lead one of them to murder.
Mike Harper would like nothing more than to burn his dead-end job to the ground. But with a wife on bed rest and a son on the way, discovering that the company is downsizing couldn’t come at a worse time. Now, struggling to stay afloat, Mike is forced to fight for the last remaining spot to secure his family’s future. It’s too bad that Tom, his obnoxious boss, is in the same boat.
Tom Downes is a man with few friends and even fewer prospects, but the aging veteran has never gone down without a fight. Now, with his health failing and his marriage falling apart, Tom is willing to do whatever it takes to keep his job.
With a blinding snowstorm closing in, these two desperate men will battle each other on a long and twisted road fraught with heartbreaking losses – and murder.
For when it comes to staying afloat, the American Dream can break anyone…

The Moonballers

We’re here. We’re queer. Get used to it and stay out of our space! This is the unofficial slogan of the Torpedo Valley tennis organization created by queer people for queer people. The league president is Stefan Porsche, an ace tennis player who is out and proud of his sexuality and superior tennis ability. When Khalid Adam joins the league, Stefan is immediately threatened. Not only because he is a great player but also because Khalid is straight as a board.

The Moonballers: A Novel about The Invasion of a LGBTQ2+ Tennis League … by Straight People (GAY GASP!) written by Jeffrey Sotto is a unique take on how ridiculous it is to harass someone because of who they are. Turning it upside down and showing Stefan Porsche actively trying to push Khalid out of the tennis organization simply because he is straight forces the reader to think. They must grapple with how unfair such behavior is.

Sotto has delivered this message in such a hilarious, tongue-in-cheek way. He does a great job of balancing every person’s negative and positive traits. Sometimes you will despise some characters, but that’s what makes them so believable. Stefan’s behavior is beyond aggravating and downright criminal. He does have some redeeming qualities that readers will discover as they read through the entire novel.

Sometimes, you need to parody the issue to make people see their hypocrisy. People respond to humor more than anything, and Sotto tapped into this factor to deliver this humorous and charming novel. The Moonballers is a delightful, witty, no-nonsense book that is excellently written and is one read you will not want to put down.

Pages: 290 | ASIN : B09VTFQ42P

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A Man in Pieces

For most, life has never been a bed of roses; for Mike, it has been no different. Not only does he have to work for clients he utterly despises and condones, but he also has a bitter superior with an identity crisis. He is neck-deep in debt and does not have hope for a silver lining to get out anytime soon. Now his wife is heavily pregnant, he has to shoulder the responsibility of providing for all their needs. All with a smile on his face. But the pressure keeps building, and Mike is this close to caving in. What happens when the last straw finally meets the camel’s back, will it break Mike, or is there light at the end of the tunnel? And most importantly, what could the last straw be?

A Man In Pieces by Henry Corrigan is a tragic story about two men who are barely holding it together. Tom believes life sucks. A past he successfully suppressed is slowly resurfacing, and yet, he’s not ready to accept it. To feel in control of something since he failed with his personal life, he lashes out at anyone and everyone, including his subordinate, Mike, who’s equally having a hard time living life too. Unlike Tom, Mike is doing a great job masking his fears, concerns, and distress. But his pregnant wife, Claire, knows there is more behind his tired smile. Every day he comes home, she tries her hardest to crack him and fix him before it’s too late. But Claire is all Mike has, and the last thing he wants is to burden her with his problems. Eventually, he succumbs to Claire and pours out some of his worries. From then on, things seemed to be looking up for Mike and Claire. Little did they know that something in Claire’s past was brewing…

At first, A Man In Pieces can be confusing as readers are given a lot of information in the beginning, building out the main characters’ backstories. There is little action in the opening chapters, but building the story of the two men and their lives is interesting. Henry Corrigan fleshes out this novel in detail, turning it into a story that will make readers experience feelings of contempt, pity, happiness, hope, distraught, and love. Readers who fancy a short, tragic book with extremely descriptive scenes will find this book fascinating. Also, I recommend this book to mature readers.

Pages: 100 | ASIN : B0B1VXBZT3

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GOD OF NOTHING

Author Shane Scott’s God of Nothing is a thrilling fantasy book about Titans, Demons, Angels, Vampires, and Bool. It has an interesting take on God, creation, and all associated with it. If you understand traditional Abrahamic faiths, this book will particularly challenge your perspective. Generally, it follows the story of Satan and God’s daughter, Aja Ashe, and her descendants – Sel and Jaxx. Because of the time difference that exists between its protagonists’ adult years, the story hops from the present to the past, sometimes even going back to the beginning of creation. Ultimately, this book covers the birth of Aja Ashe, her discovery of her immortality, her love life, her son’s life, and the love life of her grandson.

As we read from page to page, we understand who Aje Ashe is, her capabilities, and her values. We also get to see how her life choices have affected those close to her. If there’s one thing that the author does well, though, it highlights the duality of the book’s different characters. Only a handful of characters are just pure good or pure evil. Most are layered, complex, and nuanced, like real-life people. This makes the book realistic even though it’s a fantasy one.

While the story is narrated by Miranda, God of Knowledge, to Jaxx (Aje’s grandson) and his fiancé Olivia, it is mainly in the third person, allowing the reader to fully immerse themselves in the different life stories of the characters. What’s more? The author uses short sentences and paragraphs, keeping everything light and easy to read.

Beyond that, the author uses a lot of descriptive languages that helps readers understand even the most complex of concepts. This is particularly important because the book goes deep into the intricacies of how the various creatures of the world were made. It’s also great that the book includes snippets of wisdom at the beginning of each chapter, allegedly from the God of Wisdom. Each snippet furnishes us with new information that is integral to our understanding of the chapter. Moreover, the book is well-edited and formatted – there are no grammatical errors.

God of Nothing is a riveting epic fantasy that is hard to put down. This coming-of-age novel will appeal to readers looking for something different with a dark edge and LGBTQ themes. Filled with conflict and well-developed plot fantasy readers will not be disappointed.

Pages: 426 | ASIN : B08W3KCRRP

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Requiem 

Requiem is BJ Taylor’s riveting continuation of The Borderland Mysteries, a fantastic crime fiction series portrayed in a unique format. Suspicious activity is occurring yet again around the territorial border. It’s up to U.S. Federal Marshal Gabriella Zamora and her team to investigate and uncover the mystery, protecting the civilians with value and honor.

A series of murders have been recorded: young Mexican women are being viciously murdered by a possible serial killer creeping into the area of the maquiladoras near the border. The industry of the maquiladoras is very important to the U.S.’s economy, bringing a new dimension to the problem at hand. Again, the team is involved in the investigation of a crime that could have relevant political and economical implications. This time the crime seems riskier and poses a real danger to the team: will they find out the truth behind everything without suffering any damage?

One of the most intriguing elements of this book is Gabriella Zamora’s team. They are diverse and unique, each of them bringing something new and different to this enthralling story, thus turning it into a very dynamic and gripping narrative. Through this series, the attachment to the characters continues to grow progressively, showing true potential for future books. The plot presented is a little more complex than in the first book as the crimes become more serious. However, the characters’ charm makes the whole plot an adventure worth following.

There is tension and a true sense of mystery that keeps the reader captivated at all times, flying through every page. This is not your typical mystery series though, there are creative elements in the story that make it stand out from the conventional books of this genre. One of these elements is the connection with spirituality that some of the characters have, each of them remaining faithful to their culture and illustrating in a beautiful manner the spiritual aspect of peoples’ lives on the border. The author has portrayed these spiritual beliefs in a respectful and beautiful manner.

Requiem is a suspenseful mystery novel that will draw readers in from the start. Diversity, culture, family, and strange enigmas are key elements in this stunning book. This is a thrilling crime adventure with a compelling plot that deals with friendship and morals; perfectly balancing the good and the bad of humanity.

Pages: 159 | ASIN : B09VWG44ZT

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Hallelujah

Hallelujah by BJ Taylor is the first book of the Borderland Mysteries, a beautifully engaging story surrounding culture, justice, and humanity. U.S. Federal Marshal for Texas, Gabriella Zamora, is needed to find out what really happened in a car accident that caused the death of one Border Patrol Agent and the severe injury of another. Theories and unfounded rumors are spreading as the President of the United States see this event as an opportunity to boost his campaign against illegal Mexican immigrants. Even though no one knows what really happened, people are starting to believe that the agents were purposely killed by immigrants near the border and see this occurrence as a danger to national security that needs to be addressed immediately.

Gabriella Zamora and her team are willing to work on this task and find the truth behind the brutal accident, committed to protecting immigrants from falsehoods exposed on social media by certain political agencies. This realistic book deals quite accurately with the way our current world uses politics and distorts the truth to fit a given agenda. Serious themes such as racism and homophobia are dealt with respect and in a delicate way that exposes how cruel and inhuman it is to declare war on a group of people based solely on who they are or where they come from.

The plot is presented as a mystery that needs to be solved. We follow the assigned crew as they interview people and follow clues, trying to figure out what happened. The characters are diverse and have very distinct personalities. The culture that is part of the borderland territories is an important aspect of this gripping book and is showcased beautifully. Different elements such as spirituality, art, and culture are displayed quite freely, giving the story some uniqueness and creativity. Parts of the book are also centered around the song Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen, which was a unique approach that worked well with the story.

When the world of politics pervades everything, Gabriella Zamora and her team seem to know their job is to remain grounded, staying connected to the natural world and their culture as they devote their lives to protecting humans and fighting for justice.

Hallelujah is a fast-paced short story, easy to read, and leaves readers wanting to figure out what new mysteries will be brought to light in the second book. This political thriller covers realistic situations and relevant topics to the world today.

Pages: 98 | ASIN : B09VC6L3HY

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