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Slay the Dragon

Slay the Dragon is an action-packed mystery about a man named Cesar Rosada. He is descended from a line of coffee farmers, a former professional athlete and now a rising politician with a single goal; to help the working class of his country. He is determined to fight for the rights of his people but there is one crisis he can not see a way out of, the opioid addiction. Working as the minister of finance he will stop at nothing to fight against corruption. This leaves him with a choice that will test his own morality.

This book was written by author Laura A. Zubulake who worked for years on Wall Street and is a frequent world traveler. She has written non-fiction before, but Slay the Dragon is her debut fiction novel. The prologue got my attention from the very beginning and is an engaging start to an intriguing novel that hits on a subject that is destroying families and individuals in America. Slay the Dragon does a fantastic job of using fiction to understand a complex problem, and helps you visualize the enormity of the opioid crisis today. I enjoyed how the world unfolds slowly, detail by detail, we get to piece together a seedy world reminiscent of the show Narcos. César’s character development reminds me of George R.R. Martin’s characters. They are characters changed, dramatically, by circumstances out of their control, and they’re just trying to adapt.

This story is exciting, dangerous, thrilling, and full of adventure. Cesar is the kind of character you can’t help but root for with his pure ideals and determination to help those around him. When his actions enter a moral gray area you can empathize. How do you find such entrenched corruption? Zubulake has written a world that feels real in its gritty depictions of South American politics.

From beginning to end this book held my attention and kept me guessing. This is definitely the book for you if you like political thrillers that leave you thinking long after you’ve closed the book.

Pages: 289 | ASIN: B07BH2VMNQ

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Designs on Ivy’s Locket

Historian-for-hire Wrenn Grayson takes on a difficult client in Kerry St. John. Kerry seeks justice for his great-grandfather’s lifelong heartache. Wrenn meets the renowned jeweler through words recorded in his tattered journal. The year is 1946. He writes from the tiny crossroads of Wyatt, Ohio, about the theft of a treasured locket and the identity of three possible suspects.

The cold case heats up when Lori Hammond arrives. The stolen locket was discovered among her mother’s possessions after her death. Lori refuses to return it to the St. John family, so Wrenn sets out to follow the locket’s path through history. Next, Lori is attacked and Kerry accused. If Kerry’s not guilty, then who is? That question sends cold whispers from the past down Wrenn’s spine.

In Designs on Ivy’s Locket, Connie Chappell focuses on the theme of parents and children, separated by death, by theft, and by design.

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River’s Child

When Mavin Cedarstrom heads to the Svalbard Seed Vault for another day on the job, he can’t possibly imagine the turn his life is about to take. His former life gathering seeds as an assistant to his favorite professor pales in comparison to the life he leads working in the exclusive and formidable vault housing samples of every seed variety in the world. Mavin’s job helping to protect and preserve the future of the planet’s primary food source leads him on a journey like no other when he awakens to find himself in what he soon learns is the future–the distant future.

Right out of the gate, Mark Daniel Seiler introduces readers to an intriguing set of circumstances. He wastes no time in keeping his audience guessing as to both time and place. The opening pages of River’s Child reveal a scene with an amalgamation of characters with varied backgrounds. It isn’t until Mavin reaches the vault itself that the reader is treated to the splendors of technological advancements. Seiler springs this futuristic setting on his readers in a wonderful contrast with the opening bar scene.

Reading River’s Child is akin to reading three different books, but it works well. Mavin’s time working in the vault and the tragedy that befalls him when he reports to work that fateful fall day are a far cry from the way he is found and worlds apart from the scene that greets him when he is pulled from beneath Earth’s surface. Once he and his rescuer/guide, Simone Kita, make the year-long trek to civilization, the story takes on a completely different feel which somehow also makes sense. To say that Mavin has taken a step into the past would not be wrong, nor would it be wrong to say he is almost light years in the future upon being pulled from the remains of the vault. Seiler presents for readers a picture of an Earth recreated after its destruction and, somehow, simultaneously archaic and advanced.

Seiler’s choice to make males subservient and females revered in the new world is both refreshing and entertaining. Simone, a strong woman in many ways, teaches Mavin the proper way to show respect and how to remain demure in his foreign surroundings. The author has pulled from multiple cultures to create the portrait of a lesser sex in this futuristic world which blends ancient customs with the discovery and mastery of unique and highly developed talents. Simone’s amazing ability to control space and time is superhero-like and takes the reader as much by surprise as it does Mavin the first time she tries to discreetly display it.

Seiler offers readers a picture of  what is essentially a post-apocalyptic world that is different from any I have read. He takes readers on a journey that begins and ends with the soul survivor of a catastrophic event and allows them to watch as he struggles to find his place among those who now inhabit Earth. Seiler peppers his writing with the perfect amount of suspense and humor as he weaves this unforgettable tale.

Pages: 312 | ISBN: 1947003399

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Expectations: The Real World Behind the Curtain of Time

Expectations: The Real World Behind the Curtain of Time by [Sarah K-N]

Expectations: The Real World Behind the Curtains of Time by Sarah K-N is a Christian fantasy novel. Sarah spins a riveting, well written story of two brothers caught in an ancient battle of light and darkness. There is magic and ancient curses, angels, demons and other popular staples of Christian faith sharing a page with intriguing secret societies. Expectations uses the Christian faith to give us a story that is fun to read while not being preachy.

The novel opens up with an ancient tale of jealousy, locusts, an ancient pact and it just gets better after that. Ace Cadman, the main protagonist of the story, must battle the occult secret society and somehow stay alive in a world where angels and demons pop up on almost every page. But the main attraction of this book is the style that Sarah K-N carries to the very last page. Characters have motives that make sense and do not contradict the actions that took place just half a page ago. Expectations: The Real World Behind the Curtains of Time masterfully handles exposition, dialogue is lively, and Sarah K-N describes the world in just enough detail before having her characters take over the story.

Especially interesting is the way Sarah handles the divine characters – these beings feel older than time even though she spent only several sentences on their description. Their archaicness is an asset, not a flaw, in telling the story. For example, an angel with a flaming sword is a character that is very much out of place in the modern world but Expectations uses this to its advantage. Simply put, angles are supposed to be out of place in our world and when they do show up, just like their malevolent demonic cousins, they add weight to the situation that other characters find themselves in.

Perhaps the hardest thing that Sarah K-N had to do to make the story work is to bring the spirit of the Old Testament on to her pages. And she did it masterfully. This is not the world where angels and demons walk the Earth fulfilling some shallow, New Age tripe task. These angels and demons are forces beyond our comprehension, spirits of old, just like they were thousands of years ago to our ancestors. Angels are fulfilling the commands of their Lord and demons will shower mortals with impossible gifts and power but will snatch your soul the first chance they get.

The conflict between good and evil is masterfully done. You start to understand, even from the first pages, why someone would give their soul to evil. Their decisions, doomed as they are, make sense in the given moment and you will find yourself asking if you would make the same choice if put through the same tests.

This page turner is one of the most riveting reads you will ever find, no matter if you are a person of faith or not. The story, a classic tale of good vs evil, will keep you going for hours and will not disappoint.

Pages: 424 | ASIN: B0794LRWPN

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Voice of a Crimson Angel Part II: Poison (Reverence Book 6)

Voice of a Crimson Angel Part II: Poison (Reverence Book 6) by [Landeros, Joshua]

Joshua Landeros is at it again with a sequel to his prequel series with Voice of the Crimson Angel Part II: Poison. Julissa Marconi is ready to take on the ultimate villain, Chancellor Venloran. All that stands between the United Nation Republic and Mexico is the rebels, who seek to resist the tyrannical influence of the more powerful country. This struggle will not end cleanly as Venloran deploys his cyborg soldiers, which leaves Julissa questioning if she can really stop this assault. She may have to become what she fights.

And once again Landeros hits it out of the park with this novel and there is a maturing of his prose in a way that should greatly satisfy his readers. Poison centers around the conflict, or rather, Expansion, that the United Nation Republic is forcing upon Mexico. There is a resonance here with the current events of immigration and Mexico with the US, which does not make this seem like an accident on Landeros’ part. The engagement not only of the struggle of soldiers, but of entire populaces, bumps up the stakes of what has been up until now, a waltz down memory lane to contextualize his main Reverence series.

This installment breathes new air into the series and gives the prequel series more weight going forward. In some ways the look at the national conflict tends to make the conflict become too political and the characters are lost in the back and forth, but it eventually re-centers and the story becomes an intimate tale about identity and duty.

The style of Landeros is largely unchanged aside from his deeper engagement with thematic elements helping his subtle prose along. Robert Heinlein would be proud as would Atwood with his struggle to both dignify the society he has created, and draw parallels from our world to the world of Reverence. For the science fiction reader, there may be more thriller, political drama than one is used to, but we can always count on Landeros to bring the fight to us.

In the grander scheme of his series and world building, Posion begins to show the end game that will follow, since the Expansion is only a piece to Venloran’s ongoing long game. We all know the players who are involved at this point and it’s really just seeing it all unravel. Truly, a pulse-pounding thrilling read.

Pages: 226 | ASIN: B07BNTQRTJ

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Where Magic Doesn’t Exist

Maria Vermisoglou Author Interview

Maria Vermisoglou Author Interview

The Cursed Girl follows Eva and her faithful friends as they travel across medieval Europe to save the world from the powers of darkness. What served as your inspiration as you were writing this novel?

My inspiration was books and places but mainly the book series “The Mortal Instruments” and the TV series “The Witches of East End.”

Eva is an intriguing character that I enjoyed reading about. How did you create her character and what were some aspects that were important to get right?

To talk about Eva I have to talk about the creation of the book first. I love to read. When I finish a book, I make up a story using the book I have finished. But always in my mind, I never wrote them down until now. The cursed girl was created when I had finished reading “The City of Heavenly Fire.” I was thinking what if Clary was a witch? That’s how Eva was created. In the beginning, Clary and Eva were alike but Eva developed into a fine witch. She was unsure of herself in the beginning but afterward, she developed into a self-confident person who is not afraid to break the rules in order to save the ones she loves. Later in the series, she faces some other trials but I can’t talk about it now, can I?

One of the challenges I faced was that Eva is a witch living in the human world. I had to balance the magic and living in the human world where magic doesn’t exist. I think I succeeded but that’s for the fans to decide.

I liked the world building and the magic embedded within. How did you balance Eva’s healing abilities, magic and world building to make it believable?

Almost every book I have read about witches and magic pictured a world that doesn’t exist or witches who were evil. I wanted something different, something in-between. To tell the truth, my book was created on its own so to speak. I had a partial plan but when I started to write I knew what I had to write before I knew it. It was like magic. It doesn’t make much sense but I suppose every author talks that way.

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

I am working on the next volume of the cursed girl. I don’t know when will it be available but you will know it through my social media.

Author Links: GoodReadsFacebookWebsite

The cursed girl by [Vermisoglou, Maria]Sixteen-year-old Eva is a witch who lived in Spain, in the year 1230. She met a boy named Jonathan who would become her whole world. Everything was normal until she was faced with challenges that will change her life forever.

As a healer, her job is to help people, but there are forces that will try to prevent that. There is a war coming and Eva and her friends must do everything they can to survive.

Can they fight their way against the dark forces that are surrounding them? Her wits and inner strength helped everyone who encircled her to survive but will she be able to survive herself?

Supernatural creatures, royal backstabbing and many more await you in this thrilling novel that will take your breath away.

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How Corruption Evolved

Joe Khamisi Author Interview

Joe Khamisi Author Interview

Looters and Grabbers, 54 Years of Corruption and Plunder by the Elite is a detailed account of the many corruption cases throughout Kenya. Why was this an important book for you to write?

It was important for me to write this book to show Kenyans and non-Kenyans how corruption evolved from the day Kenya attained independence in 1963 to 2017, a period of 54 years stretching through four regimes. What this book shows is that corruption and bribery have a long history that goes back well before independence when the country was under British rule. The African rulers, beginning with Jomo Kenyatta, institutionalized it by engaging directly in criminal acts. They grabbed land left behind by the British instead of distributing it to the landless, encouraged relatives and cronies to engage in outright theft of other resources, and created cartels that were immune to prosecution due to their close association with the elite and the ruling class.

What do you think is a common misconception people have about corruption in Kenya?

The common misconception people have is that corruption is a state-sponsored malfeasance that ensures impunity for those in power. There is a saying that a common chicken thief is punished more severely than a person in power who commits a more heinous crime involving billions of dollars. And because corruption and bribery are rampant among the elite, the ordinary folk see no evil in participating in similar criminal acts. Thus, a policeman would do everything to extract bribes from passing motorists, and government clerks will hide files to entice payment, commonly known as “chai” or tea. One recent headline in Kenya said it all that everyone in Kenya is corrupt including grandmothers. And I agree.

The book details contemporary corruption as well and doesn’t leave one feeling as if things will get better. Do you see positive change happening for Kenya with it’s current government or is there many changes that still need to happen?

Like all previous governments, the present regime of Uhuru Kenyatta has made a myriad promises about nailing corruption. In his first 5-year term in office, not more than five government officials were jailed and those were junior officers in the civil service. The big “fish” including those in Uhuru’s own Cabinet and executive office are free despite involvement in mega corruption scandals. In recent weeks, and immediately after the release of my book, Uhuru announced some sweeping measures intended to tackle corruption including what has come to be known as “lifestyle audits” on officers – starting with himself – and changes in the way government tenders are advertised and awarded. It is too early to judge whether these measures would indeed be implemented and those found to have obtained properties illegally jailed. My own view is that that was just a PR stunt to silence corruption critics.

What do you hope readers take away from your book?

So far, the book has been positively welcomed by the majority of Kenyans who have read it. They say it was timely and informative on the genesis of corruption and on contemporary events. The irony, however, is that some “corrupt” individuals “looted” the book pdf file and began selling the file to a huge group of Whatsapp members in what was a clear violation of copyright. The action was severely criticized by writers who demanded that the looters compensate the author. A few did but that is as far as corruption has reached in Kenya.

Author Links: Website | Instagram | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter

Kenya: Looters and Grabbers: 54 Years of Corruption and Plunder by the Elite, 1963-2017 by [Khamisi, Joe]This book is about unbridled corruption, bribery and scandalous financial skullduggery in one of Africa’s most promising countries, Kenya. It is a narrative of money-laundering, mega scandals, and international wheeler-dealing, and describes how Mafia-like lobbyists have been devouring the country’s resources with blatant impunity over four regimes since independence in 1963. It is an important resource for historians, students, researchers, social and political scientists, non-governmental organizations, development and anti-corruption agencies.

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Real or Imagined

Lisa Diaz Meyer Author Interview

Lisa Diaz Meyer Author Interview

All Roads Destined is a collection of stories from fantasy to science fiction with links back to your first collection. What was the inspiration for this collection of stories?

As for the Outposts, I wanted to continue on since I’d left it as a cliffhanger in All Roads Home. I then felt I wanted to bring more loneliness and some addiction awareness into the equation as these subjects, real or imagined, can be sad and frightful.

I felt that this book was a bit darker than the last collection. What were some themes you wanted to capture while writing this book?

I did want to go darker, bring more science fiction in but based off subjects that make people uncomfortable. Again the addiction issue, some odd poetry. As you said in your review, the short story The Crone was your favorite. It was also mine, too. And I love when something like that can just come upon me, the imagery and the way I want it to be read.

You also included a selection of poems in the section titled The Fragments. What was your favorite poem from the collection and how did you pick which poems made it into this collection?

The poems or fragments I write in between or even during a WIP. My favorites in this book were Clocks and The Water Globe, both having to do with the passage of time.

What is your process like for writing short stories? Does it differ from longer novels?

There’s a certain pace with short stories that I prefer. I may be inspired to write a longer novel one day, just not yet.

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebookWebsite

All Roads Destined: A Collection of Dark Fiction and Poems by [Meyer, Lisa Diaz]Destiny is what we bring to the world where the roads are stained with tears and blood, and paved in eternal stone. In Part One, the continuation of The Outpost Trilogy shifts from post apocalyptic to science fiction. Part Two, The Enduring contains five dark fiction short stories. Part Three, The Fragments include fifteen poems of urgent struggle and destination. New York author, Lisa Diaz Meyer relates to the odd, macabre & funereal. ALL ROADS DESTINED is the second of her ALL ROADS trilogy.

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Feral and Gritty

Konn Lavery Author Interview

Konn Lavery Author Interview

YEGman is a thrilling crime novel taking place in the underworld of Edmonton, Canada. Why did you want to set your story in this location?

I had several reasons why I wanted to have the story take place in Edmonton. I prefer to write Canada-based stories and I’ve spent a lot more time in western Canada than I have out east, so can craft stories in these locations easier. A second reason is the name YEGman itself. YEG is the airport code and a common hashtag for the city. It is easier to say than – for example – YYCman for Calgary.

I also have grown up in Edmonton and have seen the city change over the decades. It is a pretty (no offence Edmonton!) bland city when it comes to major issues. So it is a good thing. That raises the question, how can you make a tame city feral and gritty? This was an interesting challenge to me.

This story takes a uniquely gritty look at the Edmonton crime scene. What were some ideas you wanted to capture when developing this underworld?

For YEGman’s version of Edmonton, I wanted to paint a crime-infested city that has some similarities seen in superhero comics. Daredevil/Hell’s Kitchen and Batman/Gotham are examples. A city that is in dire need of help. It becomes a motivator for someone to become a vigilante when they feel the city isn’t making any progress.

The details of the drugs and music scene I wanted to make real by showing there are good people that get caught up in these dark worlds of gangs and violence. Either they feel trapped or do not know any better to get out and just try to keep their friends safe.

Where did the idea for YEGman come from and what were some book titles you considered?

YEGman actually was birthed from the album that accompanies the launch – Sounds of Society. Both YEGman and the album tell a story of someone who can’t handle the constraints of society and go off the deep end. They also share similar content in the lyrics. Originally I was working on this album in 2012.

The plot and character of YEGman came to me in the summer of 2015 when I was at a book signing in a comic store. It was a quiet period and was daydreaming about super heroes because of the increase in popularity due to the Marvel movies, DC movies, comic expos and I was in a comic store at the time. Personally I am not a huge comic book far so I asked myself – what type of superhero story would someone who doesn’t like superheroes read?

From there I drafted out the concept of the superhero YEGman. Quite quickly I decided against super powers and made him very earth-bound. This helped map out the ending as well. If he was just an average person, and didn’t have any tech toys, money or ninja training, he’s going to have a pretty difficult time being a crime fighter. After writing out the outline for the ending I reverse engineered the story – a process I do not normally do with writing.

In November of 2015 I wrote the first draft during NaNoWriMo but shelved the concept because my horror novel, Seed Me, wasn’t fully edited yet. That took a higher priority and I didn’t revisit YEGman until 2017 after doing some heavy research into police procedures and psychology. These two points of study helped craft the inner thoughts of Michael.

So overall, comic books were the inspiration and I looked at comics such as the Punisher, Sin City, The Watchmen, and Hellboy to name some.

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

I really need to wrap up the dark fantasy series Mental Damnation. Book three is coming out in the fall of 2018 and the fourth is in the works. I also am working on a slasher novella but it is in the early plot outline stage.

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebook | Website

YEGman by [Lavery, Konn]

In the darkest streets of Edmonton, crime is around every corner. The police have exhausted their resources. Citizens are in a constant state of fear. The city is in dire need of justice. Someone needs to give the felons what they deserve – skip the courts and deliver their verdict with a fist full of fury!

At least that is what Michael Bradford tells himself. He struggles with violent tendencies while personally investigating the Crystal Moths, Edmonton’s most notorious gang. His vigilante methods get caught on film and are uploaded to the web with the hashtag YEGman. These videos catch the attention of a rebellious journalism student whose aspires to cover the developing story on the city’s underground hero.

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Passion for the Vampire Legend

JC Brennan Author Interview

JC Brennan Author Interview

Eternal Bloodlines follows Amanda, an average girl with a boring life when an unexpected event sends her life hurtling in a sinister direction. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?

I have always love vampires. However, I wanted to create a story that readers could relate to, one that was different, and Amanda is the one character who could do just that.

I felt that Amanda was a fascinating character, her later character contrasted greatly with her beginning character. What were some obstacles you felt were important to her development?

Actually, there were not any obstacles to Amanda’s development. I used much of how I felt growing up in a small town: want nothing more than to get out, get away, and have an adventure. The use of my personal insights and experiences from growing up in a small town (though none of those experiences involved a vampire, of course) made Amanda’s development almost seamless.

The bond that forms between Amanda and Mihnea is one of the things that I enjoyed about this book. What were the driving ideas behind their relationship throughout the story?

It was important that Mihnea be someone Amanda thought she knew all about from her research and her passion for the vampire legend. It was also important that when she meets the man, she believed she knew about, that he was not that person. But, he needed to be someone she empathizes with, that she can relate to. He needed to be a surprise and change everything she thought she had learned.

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

My next novel is coming in July. It’s titled Shadows Fall. And though I don’t want to give too much away, Detective Levi Sterling has his handful with trying to catch a serial killer.

Author Links: Website | Amazon | GoodReads | TwitterFacebook

A series of unexplained murders and a near-fatal accident propel a desperate woman down a dark and sinister road.

Twenty-four-year-old Amanda Holston dreams of getting a little excitement in her life. In the sleepy town of Skidway Lake that may be asking too much. One snowy morning, while walking through the woods, Amanda stumbles upon the mutilated remains of a young woman. Hours later, police uncover two more bodies. Just when things seem to be getting interesting, Amanda is in a near fatal accident, causing her sanity to come into question. She hears voices in her head and sees a dark man in her dreams. She blames the delusions on the accident. But the dark man is all too real.

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