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Demon Heart

DEMON HEART by [David Crane, Mary Holzrichter]

Published in 2017, David Crane’s dramatic Sci-Fi novel, Demon Heart, is set in Osaka, Japan. It explores the roles of light and darkness in shaping the human experience. It is a powerful narrative about Naoko Kitamura, the protagonist who realizes that she is half-demon. Living amongst human beings, the character learns how to manage this dark side – by controlling the intensity of her powers.

Crane’s readers realize that learning one’s true identity has a significance in their life journey. All the challenges faced by Naoko, prove her strength and ability to achieve victory, regardless of all the tough circumstances at play.

I give this book a 5-star rating for numerous reasons. First, it was cathartic to read it in first person narration, as this made me feel closer to Naoko, the protagonist. It was easier to understand all the psychological battles within her mind, by progressing with her thoughts, throughout the story.

Furthermore, the book gives an account of the themes of good and evil, and the basis of human existence. Naoko reveals to her characters the importance of accepting one’s identity. Suppressing the shadows and demons within us only leads to chaos. If she wasn’t aware of her true identity, it’d be difficult for her to understand the origin of all the darkness around her.

Through the writing of Crane, the readers perceive demons from a different light. We have been taught, so often, that demons are destructive, and don’t want the best for humans. This is quite clear when Naoko is expected to keep her true identity a secret. Human beings cannot handle the intensity of divinity thus, they shouldn’t know much about this world. Keeping it a secret is also psychological since humans would not have the capacity to understand the healing powers of a demon-hybrid.

However, Naoko manages to engage the readers’ empathetic sides, as she thrives to create a balance between good and evil in the world. She is indeed one of the genuine police officers, who attempt to create this balance, while greatly fighting against evil.

This book also teaches its readers about Japanese cultures, traditions and beliefs, and it is a great narrative for readers like me, with a keen interest in the spiritual realm.

The story captured my attention, right from the title, and I’ll be sure to give it a second reading due to how much I related with the protagonist and her experiences.

Pages: 272 | ASIN: B074DSSBPY

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Duplicity

Duplicity by [Maralyn Frances]

Duplicity by Maralyn Frances is a delightful mix of a novel that is a little bit mystery, a little bit romance, and a whole lot of fun. It is a charming amalgam, being both thoughtful as well as a little quirky and outrageous, in a good way. Frances succeeds in balancing serious topics such as guilt, physical and emotional abuse, and grief with the exciting and fast-paced romance of the main characters. My favorite part of Duplicity was its structure: I adored that the third half of the novel is told from the perspective of protagonist Toby Wendell, the middle third recounts the same series of events but from another character’s perspective, and the concluding third brings the story together with a heartwarming and surprising close. While the turn of events of Duplicity may, at the surface level, appear almost impossible to readers stuck in reality, it is an engrossing read to escape the drudgery of everyday life and it will charm readers with its full-hearted plot.

Duplicity centers on Toby Wendell, the up-and-coming executive of his father’s agricultural equipment company located in rural Australia. With Toby, Frances has created a handsome, well-read, and thoughtful lead star who is delightfully tasty to read about. Toby has the piercing eyes and the chiseled body, as well as a university-educated and well-traveled intellect, making him a triple-threat to the unsuspecting women of his small hometown. But, one evening, Toby happens across a forlorn beautiful, young woman on the side of the road, and his world is unexpectedly turned upside down. With Toby and the mystery woman, Frances crafts a unique relationship that builds in heat over the pages, tantalizing readers with its colorful and tempting language. And, just when you’re getting settled in with Toby’s story, Duplicity takes you back to the beginning to show you the story from a very different set of eyes. Personally, I loved being able to see the same series of events from two characters’ perspectives, and I enjoyed imagining how fun Duplicity would be to watch as a movie due to this unique structure.

One thing I particularly enjoyed about Duplicity was how Frances kept the plotline varied and moving quickly. It could be possible that reading the same story twice, effectively, could become dull with other authors, but Frances does a truly impeccable job of hiding “Easter eggs” throughout the middle third of the novel for readers to rediscover after having already read them. I would give the novel four stars, detracting only because the nascence of Toby’s romance with his mystery woman felt a little inappropriate at times. I understand it is a fictitious novel with a romantic storyline, but the idea that mid-thirties Toby pursued the romance while admitting to being unsure of whether his new paramour was a teenager or twenty-something made me cringe.

Overall, Duplicity is a thoroughly enjoyable and unique book to read. The plot will surprise and delight; the romance scenes will fill readers with romance and excitement; and the characters will begin to feel like real-life friends. With Duplicity, Frances creates a world for readers to escape to and soak up the feelings of overcoming grief, coming to terms with guilt, and falling in love anew.

Pages: 380 | ASIN: B081TN17CM

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The Court Of Outcasts

In her latest book, Allison Rose takes us through a roller-coaster of emotions finalizing in a hopeful yet uncertain ending. The Court of Outcasts is a contemporary fantasy novel filled with treachery, betrayal, and a twist of unexpected loyalty. While it begins with the main characters; Nola and Kelty, trying to adjust to their new normal, they are yet to realize how much weirder things could get.

With the introduction of a new foe, everything goes haywire as old enemies become new friends in the pursuit of a common good. Nola, though she looks like an ordinary teenager realizes that she is far from it. Torn between her mundane high school existence and the allure of the mystical faerie world, she embarks on a journey that will eventually force her to choose one of the worlds.

On the other hand, Kelty faces trials of her own. Battling with the uncertainties of her love life and the painful reality that she may never go back home, she has to make difficult decisions about who to trust amid chaos.

While the book does inspire a sense of awe and curiosity, it can be a little hard to follow if you haven’t read the previous book. For instance, the use of mystical language like ara can take a while to wrap your head around. However, the author goes through great lengths to explain foreign concepts in simple terms. She uses a lot of descriptive language to not only explain the woodsy setting of the book but also the emotional and psychological states of the characters.

This book gives you a clear description of both the physical and personality traits of each of the characters. The story begins with gentle explanations and hints about things to come. Yet, little can prepare you for the great plot twists ahead. The story seems to intensify from page to page until it reaches a breathtaking climax. As a reader, I am yet to get the resolution I need and have ended up with great fantasies about what is to happen next.

This is a great motivation to read the sequel if there will be one. Allison has done a phenomenal  job in capturing the emotions between characters and tension in scenes, although more could be done in developing the story of supporting characters like Sayra and Lark. Another aspect that is yet to be fully explored is the romance between Nola and her love interest.

However, I do appreciate that the author could be saving this for the next book. Apart from what is on the surface, there are serious and compelling themes that subtly color the narrative. The ones that truly stand out are the importance of family and sense of belonging and perseverance through dark times. These are themes that I and many others can relate to, and it kept me devouring pages.

Pages: 246 | ASIN: B0851VPMPX

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They Just Can’t Fit into the Orthodox World

Harold Benjamin Author Interview

Harold Benjamin Author Interview

Judenrein follows a man with a checkered past who must stop a world changing conspiracy. What was the inspiration for setup to this dystopian thriller?

I got the idea for this book when I started to see white supremacists become more vocal and visible in American politics, and face remarkably little official pushback – at least from the current president. These groups make no secret of their goal of driving the Jews (and a lot of other non-white groups) either out of the country, into slavery or death. I became intrigued with the possibility of a secret white supremacist group seizing power behind the scenes. This would be the ultimate “suits not boots” strategy for them, as they might call it.

Zack is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some ideas that guided his character development?

I have been involved in helping recovering drug addicts throughout the last 20 years. It’s not my job, but the work has come into my life. Through this experience, I’ve seen the potential for greatness that often hides inside the addict, waiting to come out. I have also felt that a great injustice has been visited on a generation of young Americans who were recruited to serve the US, but lost to forever wars and forgotten when they returned to civilian life. I wanted to bring this experience to life in the character. As an observant Jew, I’ve also seen a lot of young people get kicked out of orthodox life for various infractions and attitude problems. I wanted the character to represent the ambivalence I see in many of these young people. They believe in God and Torah. They love being Jewish. They just can’t fit into the orthodox world. That’s Zack.

The idea of white supremacists taking over the country and setting up 21st century ghettos was striking. What were some themes you felt were important to focus on in this book?

I wanted to focus on the slippery slope to neo Nazism in the US, and the shocking thing has been to see so many predictions made int eh book come true even in the last few months – with armed men, carrying swastika flags, threatening elected officials with death in protest of COVID lockdowns – only to be called “good people” by the president. This is much closer to us than we realize.

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

I am working on a non-fiction book about cybersecurity, which I have written under a different name. I am also going to publish an earlier book, that never came out, that deals with some similar themes of inequality and injustice in the US, but told in the form of a thriller.

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebookWebsite

Judenrein: A Jewish Dystopian Thriller by [Harold Benjamin]Zack Gurevitz has had a checkered past. A Yeshiva boy, turned Green Beret, turned junkie, excommunicated by his one-time faith and now the potential savior of people he doesn’t even like.

As a white supremacist movement stealthily takes the reins of power in America, it is again the Jews who are made out as scapegoats. Stripped of wealth and citizenship, they are made to live in 21st century ghettos that hark back to a sinister and murky past that many had thought would never return.

But things are about to get much worse. With the revealing of a planned terror attack that will place the blame firmly at Jewish feet and condemn millions to death, Zack is contacted by Jewish leaders in Detroit, begging for his help.

Reluctantly he agrees and before long he is mired in a conspiracy that will have far reaching consequences for his country, the Jewish population and even his own sanity.

As the clock ticks down, can Zack find a way to avert a looming disaster? Who is behind the conspiracy? And can he really trust anyone?

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Aren’t We All Some Kind of Contradiction?

Michael Pronko Author Interview

Michael Pronko Author Interview

In Tokyo Traffic detective Hiroshi is once again called in, to solve a crime that involves human trafficking and crypto-currency scamming. Did you know what criminal themes you were going to use for this novel or did they develop while writing?

The theme was there from the beginning, but only in an abstract way. The concrete actions and decisions of the characters, along with the motivations and results, shaped the themes and made it something to see and touch and feel. The interesting part is how they develop inside the characters. As those broad themes became embodied in the characters, they came alive.

At first the theme of human trafficking threatened to swamp the whole story. It’s too big and too horrible. The more I thought about it, the more I wondered how can they get away with that? How can something so vicious and inhumane just keep going? And who’s “they”? Part of the answer is cryptocurrency. Follow the money to where theme meets characters. Some people will cast aside all human feeling for money, and cryptocurrency makes that easier. Its hidden, digital, clean. Of course, the way of the future will probably be all kinds of digital currencies, but the downside is how people use that illicitly, and for such terrible purposes.

This being book three in your series was there anything new you wanted to introduce into Hiroshi’s character?

He moves in with his girlfriend and works at being with her and not sleeping in his office on a pull-out futon. That’s hard work for him. Overall, Hiroshi gets a bit more of his footing in this novel. His skill set is limited, so he bumps against his own limitations, but he learns to pay attention to what he stumbles onto, what he suspects but isn’t sure of, and what others tell him. An intuitive accountant may sound like a contradiction, but aren’t we all some kind of contradiction? We all have that internal division between our different sides.

What were some challenges you set for yourself as a writer with this book?

This one took me a lot longer to finish than the second one. The tricky part was having three main characters. Before I’d always just focused on two. Adding that third one made the story exponentially harder to keep track of. Braiding the three threads of the bad guy, the victim and the detective, plus the people on their side, was tricky. It was like passing a point-of-view baton. The race kept going as each character carried it a bit further. But to me, that’s very Tokyo-like, different kinds of stories flung together.

It was also a challenge to have two young women as main characters. Sukanya doesn’t know Tokyo at all and Chiho knows Tokyo all too well. So, those two different young women and their different views of Tokyo were hard to get right. But I felt their point of view was important. They see the city so differently than I do, but that’s the interesting part. I’m not sure I set those as challenges for myself, writing is enough of a challenge in and of itself, but those became the challenges to tell the story the way I wanted to.

Does Tokyo Traffic end the story for detective Hiroshi or do you have other novels planned?

I have two more in the Hiroshi series already outlined. The one I’m working on right now is titled Tokyo Overtime. It’s about the pressures of the workplace. What other country in the world has a word, karoshi, for death from overwork? After that, I’m planning to write about the whole fish industry, which is very big business in Japan. Two years ago, one of the owners of a sushi chain restaurant paid the equivalent of three million dollars for a single six-hundred-pound bluefin tuna! After that, I have notes for a standalone with sumo wrestler-turned-detective Sakaguchi and Detective Takamatsu is ripe for a prequel about his early, rough days. So, I’ll see where those lead. I’m looking forward to finding out.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Tokyo Traffic (Detective Hiroshi Tokyo Series Book 3) by [Michael Pronko]

Running from a life she didn’t choose, in a city she doesn’t know Sukanya, a young Thai girl, loses herself in the vastness of Tokyo. With her Bangkok street smarts, and some stolen money, she stays ahead of her former captors who will do anything to recover the computer she took. After befriending Chiho, a Japanese girl living in an internet café, Sukanya makes plans to rid herself of her pursuers, and her past, forever.

In Tokyo, street smarts aren’t always enough

Meanwhile, Detective Hiroshi Shimizu leaves the safe confines of his office to investigate a porn studio where a brutal triple murder took place. The studio’s accounts point him in multiple directions at once. Together with ex-sumo wrestler Sakaguchi and old-school Takamatsu, Hiroshi tracks the killers through Tokyo’s music clubs and teen hangouts, bayside docks and byways, straight into the underbelly of the global economy.

As bodies wash up from Tokyo Bay, Hiroshi tries to find the Thai girl at the center of it all, whose name he doesn’t even know. He uncovers a human trafficking ring and cryptocurrency scammers whose connections extend to the highest levels of Tokyo’s power elite.

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Literary Titan Book Awards July 2020

The Literary Titan Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and we are proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.

Literary Titan Gold Book Award

Gold Award Winners

The Albatross: Contact by Connor Mackay

IZ – The Saga: Creation by DDWLEM

Literary Titan Silver Book Award

Silver Award Winners

Book of Chaos: From 22 Back to 21 by Yin Dolmah

 

Visit the Literary Titan Book Awards page to see award information and see all award winners.

 

Christmas and Thrillers

Kristina Rienzi Author Interview

Kristina Rienzi Author Interview

Winter Road follows Amelia who’s heading home for Christmas and must deal with her family, her new love and her dangerous ex-fiance. What was the inspiration for the setup to this exciting novel?

I wish I knew what specifically inspired me to write Winter Road. It was a story that came to me and then told itself, almost in a blink. If all my stories did that, I’d be a much more prolific writer! What I remember most is driving home from work in late fall, thinking about the upcoming holidays, and the title popped in my head out of nowhere. Looking back, it was a little bit of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic (a perfect book for creatives). Winter Road began to slowly unfold in front of my eyes from that moment on. Instead of driving on the Garden State Parkway in massive traffic, I was suddenly the only car on a rural-snow covered road heading home for the holidays. A foreboding hung over me as I pictured a woman escaping her big city life, running from a relationship gone wrong and into the arms of a family in crisis. The pieces cemented together in my mind creating an explosive holiday celebration. It, oddly, allowed me to marry two of my favorite things: Christmas and thrillers.

Amelia was a strong female lead that never really wilted under pressure. What were some driving ideals behind her character development?

Amelia’s primary value is family, which she lost along the way by getting wrapped up in an all-consuming relationship and blossoming career. When the person she was expected to be collided with who she really was, her world began to unravel and life became clear. She lost her independence and was under the thumb of a man she thought she wanted, but didn’t. Going home was the only way for her to reconnect with her true self and to be reminded of her strong, familial roots, and find herself again.

I enjoyed how you were able to create an aura of danger around Jake and his intentions. What were some influences that guided his relationship with Amelia?

Sociopathology comes to mind! Jake, oddly, couldn’t love anyone because his capacity to love was limited – not only from his past, but from his psychological challenges. Therefore, he was all about ownership. Possession. And it defined him – what he had and who he controlled. When the core of his identity was under siege, his only option was to retaliate with deadly force.

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

I’m currently writing a paranormal thriller, Unleash the Wicked. It follows a former Manhattan socialite who’s forced to move back to her mysterious hometown where she faces her tragic past and, unwittingly, unleashes a deadly curse. With an 11 month old, it’s anyone’s guess when it will be published, but I’m hoping before my daughter goes to school!

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Winter Road: A Novella by [Kristina Rienzi]

HOLIDAY ROAD
On the heels of a bad breakup, Amelia Montgomery heads home for the holidays. Her hometown is a far cry from the metropolis where she lives now, but not nearly far enough away from Jake Grayson.

TERROR ROAD
Amelia’s family festivities turn terrifying when a distraught Jake shows up uninvited on the Montgomery’s doorstep. Jake will not stop until he possesses Amelia; one way or another, she will be his.

DEADLY ROAD
In a chilling nightmare, one man’s obsession is so evil, it’s deadly. Amelia must fight for her life, and the lives of those she loves most, in the only place she’s ever called home…WINTER ROAD.

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The Dreams of Demons

The Dreams of Demons (The Legends of the Pale Series Book 3) by [Tarrant Smith]

Gabriella didn’t know what she was in for when her roommate, Darren, left on a weekend vacation with his boyfriend and told her to have fun and get herself out there! Never in her wildest dreams did she imagine that her life would be completely changed that weekend by the man of her dreams. Or should I say demon?

The Dreams of Demons is the third book in The Legends of the Pale Series. We follow Murmur, a demon who serves Lugh, a god, for all eternity, as he dreams and searches for a woman who keeps coming to him in his dreams. The thing is, demons don’t dream.

Gabriella, who has always had a gift to read people’s minds and feelings, dreams of Murmur as well. After Murmur materializes and saves her life at her local park they find their attraction to each other is so strong that after surrendering themselves to each other they are now bound forever. But is Gabriella ready to be someone else’s, someone she only just met?

The Dreams of Demons is the most unique book I’ve read this year in that it is set in modern-day, but involves gods and demons who have lived for thousands of years, so there is an ancient feel to it as well. Smith has been able to not only braid these two times into one, but the lives of mortals and gods as well, and she has done it exquisitely.

The love that Murmur and Gabriella have for each other is always brewing in the background, even when Smith takes us into the different story lines. Rhiannon, another goddess who feels something dangerous brewing, the relationship of Lugh and his woman, Keely, and the friendships of Keely, Gabriella, and Zee that emerge. All of them are intricately drawn characters.

This is book three in The Legends of the Pale Series, but if you have not read the first two books I think new readers will still understand what’s going on. Smith gives a bit of back story here and there, but not too much that would make the reader bored if they had already read the series in its entirety.

There are only so many ways you can describe the act of love and lovemaking. But Smith has breathed new life into the classic romance genre, with steamy scenes enhanced by the raw power of a demon and a mortal who may have otherworldly blood in her. While reading you can feel the magnetism between Murmur and Gabriella. Their relationship was an enthralling escapade of emotions that I looked forward to.

Pages: 222 | ASIN:  B0886K161B

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