1 Law for All – Gator is the third installment of a Billy Angel’s political thriller series. This book is a suspenseful crime fiction story set in modern times. There are two storylines that this book follows; Dominica and her upcoming nuptials, as well as the Fair and Freedom Foundation, which is an organization consisting of mostly millennials who fight against voter fraud. They have sought help from the 1 Law for All Foundation as the organization has drawn attention from dangerous people. With the backdrop of a wedding and the action-packed dangers of the political waters, Gator country is in trouble.
There is a lot to unpack in this book thrilling book. It felt like an alternate timeline to our current situation in the U.S. There was great detail put into the the plan to tamper with the election by the Democrats in this high stakes political thriller. They were heavily involved with having votes changed by various nefarious means, Russians were involved, and there was even mention of Clinton conspiracy theories at one point. All are uncanny portrayals of the extreme views both sides take in todays turbulent political climate and that same tension is successfully reflected on the page in Billy Angel’s riveting thriller. I appreciated how well thought out the plan was to commit election fraud as it made it feel real, which allowed me to get further invested in the story and the characters. This story utilizes right-wing conspiracy theories to great affect. Those theories in our current political climate can be dangerous and delegitimize our democracy, but Billy Angel, like any good fiction writer, asks the question of ‘what if’ and sets his story on a path that is entertaining.
1 Law for All – Gator is an intriguing fictional take on election fraud, even introducing nanobot technology at one point, which having a bit of science fiction infused in the story was surprising but welcomed. It was this futuristic take on how to change the votes that I enjoyed. Fans of political thrillers that like complex storylines and well orchestrated action scenes will enjoy this well written book.
Pages: 335 | ASIN: B08HVG8PT1
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The Hainan Conflict is a superb follow-up to book one in your The Net thriller series. What were some new ideas you wanted to introduce in this book that were different from book one?
There were several ideas that I wanted to include in The Hainan Conflict. Interestingly, they were all based on elements of truth. The very first chapter hits on one of those elements: A female Russian virologist developing biological weapons and selling them to various countries and/or terrorist groups, along with the deliberate release of a deadly strain of smallpox in Kazakhstan in order to test its potency.
The next factual element I wanted to include was the mid-air collision between a US spy plane and a Chinese fighter jet in airspace over the South China Sea, resulting in the US spy plane’s forced landing on Communist China’s Hainan Island. This actually occurred on April 1, 2001, and set into motion a highly charged political situation of top-secret US intelligence possibly getting into China’s hands. A lot of research went into the characteristics of the planes involved, the base where the US plane had originated from, etc. to make the story as believable as possible. My husband and I were living in Southern China at the time (we had even vacationed on Hainan Island) and we were (naively) surprised at how different the news accounts were between US and China sources. It was at that point that I realized that having a free press doesn’t guarantee the truth any more than a government-controlled press. I think that is something we as Americans take for granted, and wrongly assume that our news isn’t editorialized.
The next factual element was Hainan Island itself. It is just as beautiful as described in the book. And, here again, truth proved stranger than fiction! The descriptions of the resort/beach area, Wild Boar Island, the unusual military training camp on the beach, the primitive village with female leaders bearing facial tattoos, the hidden caves, even the modern computer in a plastic tent, were all facts based on personal experiences there. And, the island’s history of a native women’s group defeating the government’s army is factual. A dear Chinese friend was kind enough to research that information for me.
So, where does truth end and fiction begin? I leave that for the reader to figure out.
The relationship between Yi and Sarah was consistently intriguing. What were some ideas that informed their conflict?
The characters of Yi and Sarah are composites of the best qualities in some of the friends and judges we knew in China. Such qualities included a fierce loyalty to family and country, and a dedication to seeing China rid itself of poverty and corruption. However, some of the characteristics of the average Chinese man were not so charming. These included excessive smoking, spitting, and a tendency to treat women as second-class citizens. It was not uncommon to see a man step in front of a woman in line–simply because she was female. (This infuriated me, and I tapped a few men on the shoulder to point out their error!) The conflict between Yi and Sarah certainly comes from the issue of his being American and a spy (and therefore unable to confide in Sarah his true identity and purpose). Adding to the conflict and intrigue, Yi’s character had to be different from the average Chinese male. So, he regularly does things more typical of an American. This confuses Sarah. The fact that he’s an attorney by profession rather than a spy gets him into trouble on several occasions. Plus, he misses his life in America. Much of Yi’s conflict stems from Sarah’s life in Tibet with Buddhist/vegetarian traditions being so different from his Christian American ones. Yet he is fascinated by her beauty, her brilliant legal mind, and her strong female personality. He struggles with the distraction of falling in love, while being in an uncomfortable situation that could cost him his life.
What were some goals you set for yourself as a writer in this book?
The main goal was to be true to the facts. I researched and tweaked the story until I could fit it into the timeline that the facts dictated. That was not easy!
What can readers expect in book three of The Net thriller series?
Although book 2–The Hainan Conflict–is more standalone than book 1 (which was written as an introduction to the series, its intertwining stories and character development), book 3–The Panama Contagion–continues the story of the Net organization’s attempts to secure world power, the vendettas between the evil characters and our hero Yi, and the romantic struggles between Yi and Sarah. As readers of book 2 know, the Net acquired bioweapons from a Russian virologist. The use of these weapons culminates in book 3 by way of unsuspecting travelers on two cruise ships returning to the States after a trip through the Panama Canal. A pandemic ensues. Also carried over from book 2 is the Net’s plan to disrupt international shipping channels by destroying parts of the Panama Canal. The question is, can Yi stop the Net’s destruction while fighting off a psychopathic killer, and trying to mend his relationship with Sarah, all while the CIA is ignoring his warnings? You’ll have to read it to find out.
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All Mack wants to do is deliver a truckload of swinging meat to Chicago and forget about his troubles. After the tragic death of his wife, he hands over his ministry to a junior preacher and returns to his first job as a truck driver. But things take a dangerous turn his first time back on the road. Someone is hell-bent on ensuring Mack doesn’t make it to Chicago in one piece. His adventure is further complicated when he picks up a mysterious hitchhiker. To make matters worse, he appears to be caught in the middle of some agribusiness hanky-panky involving top government officials and an imprisoned crime boss.
Rough Way to the High Way is Kelly Mack McCoy’s first novel, and I could hardly tell. McCoy writes with poise and fluency that pulls you in and keeps you captivated. This Christian fiction novel takes you on a journey along the highways while looking through the lens of a preacher-turned-trucker.
McCoy’s delightful mix of colorful, humorous conversations, light-hearted banter and a twist laden plot did an excellent job of keeping me engaged. Not to mention that there was this mysterious hitchhiker that kept me guessing about his actual identity all through the story.
McCoy also provides a rich reading experience with his choice of words and how he strings them together. The man genuinely has a way with words. This is visible in how he describes metaphysical scenarios using figures of speech and analogies that bring those elements to life and turn them into vivid images. I also loved how he offered faith-based insights, enlightening stories (I was very touched by Horatio Spafford’s story) and philosophical toppings.
The author zooms in on several issues, with one being the pain of losing a loved one. He shows that after such tragedy, our strongest anchors, including our faith, can be jolted by the tremors of grief and despair. McCoy also reminds us of the possibility of learning life lessons from the unlikeliest of sources.
Rough Way to the High Way is definitely one for your virtual and physical bookshelves if you are a fan of thought-provoking and exciting Christian fiction.
Pages: 268 | ASIN: B07MQS9819
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In Titus Murphy’s Black Oak lies a story both riveting and enchanting. It contains a variety of characters and storylines, keeping you on your toes all through your reading. In summary, it follows the events happening in the small town of Wichita across different timelines; 1782, 1815, and the present day.
By depicting parallels and interconnections between these three timelines, it weaves a tale of love, magic, and destiny. As expected from any Young Adult Fantasy book, it is filled with mystical creatures like witches and jackals (hybrids of vampires and werewolves).
But what I truly find interesting about this book is that throughout the narrative, there seems to be a backdrop of suspense. The author has developed the plot in a way that you’re not really sure who to trust. Nobody and nothing is ever what they seem to be in this town. As such, with every page I read, I was constantly waiting for the next shoe to drop.
It also helps that this story reads easily, with tons of dialogue to break down the prose. However, while the fact that there are several main characters instead of a single protagonist makes it quite similar to real life and allows the author to draw interesting connections, it also means that a lot of characters are not fully developed.
I get a sense that this could be because this book is written to be the first one in a series though; leaving the author with several more venues to build on the characters. Truth be told, it is ultimately these missing details that make a reader yearn for more, curious about what will happen next. But if there is one element of this book that can definitely be improved upon, it is the grammar. There are a few errors here and there; something that can be polished up with some quick editing.
That aside, I love how the author subtly incorporates themes of racism and faith, making the narrative much more personal and relatable. The fact that even the readers don’t know who the villains are is a nice touch as well, giving this book some mysterious vibes. All things considered, Black Oak is a great read that will surely enchant and entertain any reader.
Pages: 275 | ASIN: B08KRQDCGY
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Celtic Knot follows a young girl who’s caught up in a murder mystery that has national consequences. What was the inspiration for turning this historical event into a thrilling mystery novel?
It was true inspiration, through a dream. I awakened with the vision of a girl, writing by candlelight, “I was on the other side of the door when Mr. McGee was shot.” I knew she meant the 1868 assassination of Canadian Father of Confederation T. D’Arcy McGee. Irish rebels were blamed, and one was hanged for the crime. Yet this remains Canada’s great unsolved murder mystery.
Clara is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind her character development?
Thank you, Thomas. Readers have described Celtic Knot as “Alias Grace meets a dark, twisty Anne Of Green Gables”. Certainly, Canadian author L.M. Montgomery’s heroines, such as Anne Shirley and particularly her writer protagonist Emily Byrd Starr, served as inspiration. There’s a bit of Jo March in Clara as well. Yet Clara is a young female immigrant, the ultimate outsider viewing a strange new world with the particular gaze of a post-famine Irish-Catholic (& one hiding her late mother’s scandalous mixed-marriage to her negligent Anglo-Irish Protestant father.) Clara is bright, & surrounded by powerful men, yet absolutely powerless—except for her education, her knowledge of events, and her ability to ferret out information. She must work as a domestic servant to live, and must always make a fine calculation to balance her ethical duty and her best interests.
I enjoyed the historical references used throughout the book. What research did you undertake to ensure things were accurate?
There is a plethora of information available about McGee and his assassination, including books, trial transcripts, his own writings, newspapers of the day, and letters of prominent politicians & their civil servants. There is also no dearth of lore surrounding this story in the Irish-Canadian community, to this day. Much of what I’ve written is factual, but I’ve also learned facts and then taken great liberties with them. The trial is a representative pastiche, and I invented some character backstories and subplots—including the ending. One fact that still intrigues me: when slain, McGee did in fact have a recently-completed, politically-sensitive manuscript that went missing.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Yes, Thomas, young Clara Swift off having more misadventures–this time amidst a western Canadian rebellion, followed by high-level American Washington D.C. political intrigue, all of which culminates in a border raid of Canada by Irish-American Civil War veterans. This work-in-progress is titled An Irish Goodbye A Clara Swift Tale, and its publication date is Clara’s—and my—latest mystery.
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From The Painted Tomb by Brenda Hill follows newspaper reporter, Krista Hawthorne, that lives in a small town in the Appalachian Mountains. While on a date at the Lune river Krista and her date get attacked by a mythical creature. Her date gets murdered right in front of Krista’s eyes but her life is spared. Krista knows nothing of her lineage but she notices that the creature has the same ankh that Krista got from her mother. Knowing the creature is still out there Krista and the local sheriff venture out to find out why this creature let her live.
Brenda Hill entices readers with her thrilling fantasy novel from the very start of the book. Such a gripping story I wanted to continue reading through the night but couldn’t because it was too eerie. The author’s writing is so refined that I was not able to predict how the story would end. Hill’s writing flows effortlessly between Krista’s ominous adventures while seamlessly blending Egyptian history throughout the alluring narrative. But a good mythical fantasy is only as good as its cast of characters and Brenda Hill has created some compelling if not relatable characters that I didn’t even realize I was so invested in until I found myself biting my nails.
Krista’s love interest brings a welcome complexity to the story. While her relationship unfolds throughout the story, the focus of the book never moves away from the enigmatic mystery that drives this spellbinding story forward. With relatable characters, an engaging paranormal plot, and a dash of romance, From The Painted Tomb will appeal to readers across genres.
Pages: 283 | ASIN: B08GJXC7LB
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Before the Origin by F.S Bala is an account of events in several people’s lives all connected by the change in pattern in the world’s occurrences. Amy Taff, an outstanding character in the book, is thrown into a world of magic, science, and mystery. Her life changes drastically after she gets a job at Scythe. Immediately she realizes that a thread holds the balance between life and death. Ash, a talented young man, partakes in scientific government projects but his friend Abel, has several conspiracy theories surrounding this project. The lives of all these people are connected in one way or another by the environment, science and technology.
F.S Bala has outlined every event in a systematic manner that creates a balance between different generations and lifelines. The writer has embraced vivid imagery creating in depth visual representation that brings depth and color to the magical realism genre. The story is not a far-fetched work of fiction but based on normal day to day life occurrences and the prediction of the future. Although the book leans more towards science and technology, Bala uses poetic language that is filled with humor to bring levity to what could have been a drab experience. I am impressed with Bala’s writing style and the author’s ability to incorporate African folklore into this story, which made this book educational as well as entertaining.
Before the Origin is a engaging action adventure novel that excels at creating alluring characters in an intriguing world.
Pages: 124 | ASIN: B08KJ3MTF1
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First Second Coming has a new God replacing the old one and wants to test humanity’s ability to eliminate violence or face extinction. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?
Although I didn’t start writing the novel until 2015, the concept that planet earth needs a planetary turnaround specialist came to me while I watched the World Trade Center’s towers collapse on 9/11.
Prior to that horrible event I’d been in the building many times, the last time being in May, a few months before the attack. I had in the WTC and my law firm did annual conferences at the Top of the Tower conference center there and knew some of the staff. As the towers fell I worried about everyone inside, whether I knew them or not.
The idea of writing a story around a planetary turnaround specialist re-emerged when I sat down to try to write my first novel. Ram and Bren’s names and histories, an outline of a basic plot and three possible endings flowed out in one sitting. It was as though I’d developed all that subconsciously in the intervening fourteen years between 9/11 and 2015.
I enjoyed Ram and Brendali’s characters. What were some driving ideas behind their character development and relationship?
My character development was an effort to have Ram and Bren share some common features but respond to them in entirely different ways. For example: Both of them shared a blue collar upbringing and had to deal with traumas. While Ram’s childhood traumas made him reject religion and become self-reliant, Bren’s traumas made her embrace Catholicism and rely on her relationship with (the now retired) god. In this way the two of them could relate to one another while coming from entirely different emotional spaces.
I also wanted Ram and Bren to be able to exemplify the book’s themes (discussed below) in their attitudes and interactions, while understanding that they are opposites in temperament and personalities. The idea was that they’d be able to complete each other, supply strength when needed or bolster weaknesses when required – an example of the opposites attract concept.
The relationship these two developed is entirely different. When I began writing I didn’t know that some authors get so close to their characters that they can actually hear them. That happened to me – I’m neither female nor Latina, so hearing Bren in my head the first time was jarring. But I got used to it and began to enjoy the experience.
Before long Bren was waking me up at around 4 a.m. to tell me what was going on in the next chapter I was writing. I let her shape the romance aspect of the story since she was hot for Ram and he was mutually attracted to her.
I hadn’t expected a romantic relationship, it simply developed. I was fine with that since it contrasted with the suspense elements and provided lighter moments that allows readers to catch their breaths every so often. The relationship also deepened both characters and gave them a personal stake in the outcome of the “Convocation” that serves as the novel’s motor. Taken all together, there was no reason not to let Bren and Ram fall in love.
What were some themes that were important for you to focus on in this book?
Because this novel was inspired by 9/11, I wanted to stay true to event thematically. I felt that the best way to honor all those who died that day was to use religious violence as the test the new God employs to determine whether or not humanity would be included in the planetary turnaround plan.
That meant the themes had to be related in some way. The obvious connection, at least to me, was to adopt the themes of tolerance, acceptance and cooperation. Bringing members of religions from all over the world to work together or face extinction struck me as the right vehicle for demonstrating the need for these attributes.
I had no idea when I chose these themes that we’d be in the world we’re in right now, when tolerance, acceptance and cooperation are in such small supply. So these themes are more significant and relevant than I expected. But that’s an added bonus.
This is Book one in The New God Series. What can readers expect in Book two?
I’m working on book two now. It has a working title of Earth’s Peril. I’m too early into the book to be able to estimate when the book will be ready for publication, but 2022, if not sooner, seems to me to be a reasonable guess.
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