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Newton’s Cradle

Newton's Cradle by [Robert Valdin]

A suspenseful and complex fictional story of a well established business man entangled in a web of secrets and ambitious employees. With his past demons always haunting him he’ll face a series of perilous challenges that test his limits and his morality. Terence is forced to break into his boss’s safe and finds plans for a new technology that can radically change the world. Does he give it up and go back to his life, or does he risk his life to ensure the technology doesn’t end up in the wrong hands?

Robert Valdin has created a thrilling corporate espionage novel that places an interesting character at the center of an intricately woven web of secrets. The fun part is watching Terence claw his way out of the center of it. Newton’s Cradle is a techno-thriller that kept me intrigued by the technical details and furiously flipping pages to see what happens to Terence. What I enjoyed most was the interactions between characters as they seemed grounded and authentic. The backstabbing that was going on always seemed to come as a surprise to me, I suppose I’m gullible, but Robert Valdin has a way of subtly twisting the narrative to make you look the other way just before the twist comes.

Newton’s Cradle is an exciting novel that deftly builds up engaging characters and pits them against one another. The narrative, while not completely unique, does have its own unique twists that kept me on my toes. With a world changing premise Robert Valdin delivers an electrifying story that will have fans of mystery and espionage begging for more.

Pages: 230 | ASIN: B08BV2QMT8

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In The Country Dark: An Appalachian Crime Tale

In The Country Dark by Mike Mallow follows an investigation into the dark recesses of a small town under the grips of one dismal El Oscura, also known as the Recluse. Cabel Walsh is a journalist who loves his profession despite being part of a sinking ship of an industry. Troy Mason is a wild card with a bit of a temper issue, and he works as a nursing assistant in a residential home. Troy and Cabel used to be buddies in high school, and are soon reunited when circumstances force Cabel  back to the small town. There, he discovers a thread of traumas and losses all leading up to an insidious and implacable villain: El Oscura

It’s clear that the author has firsthand experience in the terrains in which this story takes place. It’s a pleasure to read- not only for the plot but also the shared experience of another life that could potentially be so vastly different from one’s own. The characters and dialogues are also perfectly natural yet distinct.

Troy and Cabel’s friendship was also particularly heartwarming, the way they managed to not overcome, but rather acknowledge and respect their different perspectives on life and bond over their upbringing in Chancy. Hence, the sucker punch that comes pretty soon into the book is even more ferocious.

It’s a clever and suspenseful build-up towards the climax, when the face-off between El Oscuro and Cabel calls into question Cabel’s integrity and his steadiness in a personal crisis. I’m prone to comparing most man-gone-rogue thrillers I read to the best in their kind: Lee Child, John Grisham, Frederick Forsyth et. al. (in my opinion of course) and I genuinely thought this could pose some serious competition. It has all the best elements: a breakneck pace, an unforgiving and sometimes cruel environment, some form of drug-based conspiracy, and a can’t-help-but-love-him disillusioned man at the center. This is not to make it sound cliche- it’s rare that all the elements work together in harmony to make a perfectly entertaining and delicious novel such as this one. I truly look forward to whatever Mike Mallow has to offer next.

Pages: 226 | ASIN: B08DRN84TH

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Silent Screams

Silent Screams by [Zachary Ryan]

Silent Screams by Zachary Ryan follows the lives of four high school friends forced to grow up due to a school shooting. Lane struggles with whether or not to come out to his friends while mourning the loss of his lover. Cass struggles to find someone to save her from her home life. Zachary deals with losing what she thinks makes her special. Ben finds his life of luxury torn away and struggles to figure out who he is without it. Being friends with the shooter, these four students battle with their own demons while attempting to cope with the guilt and responsibility they feel for their friend’s actions.

The raw emotion and authenticity of the characters is something that is outstanding in this book. I applaud Zachary Ryan for creating such imperfect characters that are so relatable. Each character deals with something different and grieves in a unique way. Each character, even background ones, go through so much character development and really grow up and learn how to trust and depend on each other. We get to see through each character’s eyes through point of view changes that happen each chapter. It’s refreshing in a way because you get to see into the heart of each of the four main characters and see their innermost secrets and insecurities. Silent Screams is a story about friendship, love, insecurities, trust, and the dangers of keeping secrets in for too long.

I enjoyed this book, but there were some times I had to reread a line because of a typo. There was also one background character who’s name was inconsistent, being Violet in some places and Valerie in others. However, this book is still thoroughly enjoyable.

Silent Screams was a roller-coaster of emotions from beginning to end. I am not ashamed to admit I cried a couple of times. This is the sort of book you pick up and can’t set down until you finished it. I’m not sure that I would class this as a feel good story but it ultimately leaves you feeling satisfied and rejuvenated.

Pages: 254 | ASIN: B08BK4DPN5

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THE OTHER CHEEK

THE OTHER CHEEK: Boy meets girl. Girl beats boy. Just your typical love story... by [JAFE DANBURY]

Rich has everything going for him: a job for which he has been well-trained and loves, a family who loves him unconditionally, and a beautiful and talented wife. Rich has just one thing going against him–his beautiful and talented wife. Their life together was supposed to be ideal. Her budding career as an actress and his job as a trusted member of television production crews should have combined to form the perfect union. But all is not as it seems in Rich’s life, and try as he might, he can’t seem to crack the code to Tami’s mood swings. The not-knowing is killing him–literally.

The Other Cheek, by Jafe Danbury, is the story of one man’s struggle with domestic abuse. Rich faces the unknown every day since his marriage to Tami. He wakes and sleeps only according to her inner demons, and his battle is one for the record books. No one is more patient or giving than Rich. Time and time again, he chooses to face the barrage of insults and the physical abuse that seem to stem from something deep inside Tami’s very soul. Never knowing what will trigger an episode and always scraping the bottom of the barrel of excuses, Rich grows increasingly haggard and mentally defeated as he rides out one horrific day after another.

Danbury’s portrayal of a husband being abused at the hands of his seemingly less physically intimidating wife is captivating in every way. As I began reading, I wondered why the author chose a third person point-of-view. It didn’t take long to realize that the story is all the more horrifying from the outside looking in. Danbury does a truly fantastic job of drawing readers into Rich’s life. Wanting to reach out and rescue Rich, I found myself increasingly stressed and anxious for a positive turn–just anything to make his life with Tami more bearable.

As someone who fled an abusive relationship, everything about Rich’s ordeal hit home–from Tami’s fits of rage to her manipulation of his emotions and attempts to distance him from his family. Danbury’s writing is spot-on. Every ounce of fear, every second of Tami’s attacks, and each and every moment of Rich’s hesitation to share his experience with anyone. I can relate to Rich’s unwillingness to reach out for help, and I know I am not alone. Danbury is reaching an audience not often addressed in realistic fiction.

I absolutely flew through Danbury’s work, absorbing one of Rich’s emotions after the other and fearing Tami right alongside him. I recommend this book to anyone who has survived abuse, thinks they may be a victim, or knows and loves someone who is dealing with a controlling significant other. Danbury is making important strides with The Other Cheek.

Pages: 288 | ASIN: B07YWC791R

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The Black Inked Pearl: A journey of the soul

This prize-winning epic romance opens with the young Irish girl Kate running away across the Donegal strand, panicked, from her young lover’s first (attempted) kiss, then, after a tumultuous reappraisal by the great Congo river, finds she must spend her life seeking.

Searching for him she encounters some very realistic people and situations on earth, but also must visit hell, where she suffers greatly, a dream-filled paradise, and Columba’s great heavenly archive.

At agonising cost she saves her dying love and to her utter joy they walk together toward heaven. But at the gates he walks on, forgetting her, and leaving her, distraught and alone, in the dust as the gates close behind him. He in turn searches for her and at last finds her, but to his fury (and renewed hurt) is not ecstatically recognised and thanked. And the gates are still shut.

On a secret back way to heaven guided by a little beetle, Kate repeatedly saves her still scornful love, but at the very last, despite Kate’s fatal inability with numbers and through an ultimate sacrifice, he saves her from the precipice and they reach heaven. Kate finally realises that although her quest for her love was not vain, in the end something more was needed for she had to find herself – the unexpected pearl.

The novel, poetic, riddling, multi-level, and born in sleep and dream, is interlaced with the ambiguity between this world and another. The epilogue again brings out the key themes of the novel – the eternity of love and the ever-puzzling ambiguity between dream and reality.

The first edition of Black Inked Pearl, the first published of Finnegan’s distinguished Kate-Pearl series and in its way both a stirring romance and a spiritual parable, has won many prizes and positive reviews (for which see the first edition). Its unusual style sets it apart – disliked (fair enough!) by those who prefer straightforward prose and a clear linear, account, but relished by those who warm to more literary, poetic and sonic expression influenced by such writers as James Joyce, William Faulkner, Gerald Manley Hopkins, W. B. Yeats, and, extensively, Homer.

This second edition, revised, corrected and somewhat enlarged from the 2015 version, includes an extended account by the author of its unusual genesis.

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Scandalous Serial killer

Romona Simon
Romona Simon Author Interview

Her Eyes Underwater follows a university student who starts a relationship with a stranger with a dark and dangerous secret. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?

The inspiration for this story came from true-crime murder stories, especially those featuring serial killers like Ted Bundy. I wanted to write a fictionalized version of a big, scandalous serial killer case with different perspectives of the events included. I also wanted to start the story off in an unexpected place, so I chose Julia’s infatuation with a mysterious man as this gateway to a larger, fictionalized crime universe.

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

She was designed to be someone who is realistically frustrating. She does some unadvisable things in the novel, but some people do act pretty strangely when they’re infatuated with another person. This is especially true for people that are used to getting what they want. She was also designed to work in perfection disharmony with Alex if that makes any sense. All of the refusals and mysteries he uses to keep her away only spur her on.

Alex and Julia have a provocative and enthralling relationship. Was their relationship planned or did it develop organically as you wrote?

Both. I had a basic idea in my head, but as I started making myself put the words on a page, it was an organic progression.

This is book one in your Bowman Case Files series. What can readers expect in book two?

In book two, the scope of the events will be expanded. As I mentioned above, Julia’s infatuation with Alex was a gateway (or one perspective) to the larger story revolving around Alex’s deeds. I don’t want to give too much away, but let’s just say Alex’s lifestyle has its drawbacks and he will start encountering some difficulties. While there will still be a focus on the intense relationship between Julia and Alex, the crime fiction aspect of the books will start to come out as new characters are introduced.

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Do you lock your doors and windows at night? Will tonight be the night you’ll find out why you should? Any town can harbor strangers with secrets, and he might be watching you tonight.
During a chance encounter at a café, university student Julia Strauss meets a captivating man. She is instantly attracted to the handsome stranger and pursues him obsessively.
What she doesn’t know is that behind all the charm, he has a secret agenda of his own. Can Julia see beyond the haze of her infatuation before it’s too late?

A Treacherous One

Jenna Greene
Jenna Greene Author Interview

Reborn follows the harrowing journey Lexil takes to find freedom in a dystopian future. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?

The inspiration came at a writing conference called When Words Collide. I find writing events very good for my creativity. Between sessions I saw a meme on my phone about gingers. While I do not have red hair, many of my friends do, and it made me ponder what they thought of the stigma. That led me to thoughts about my much-hated freckles. Though I didn’t know it at the time, I’m quite certain the story was also influenced by my mother’s illness.

Lexil was a dynamic character that I rooted for throughout the story. What were some ideals you wanted her character to embody?

I wanted her to be someone a reader could know in real life. She has no extraordinary skills with a weapon, or unnatural intelligence. But she is extraordinarily perceptive and compassionate and bravery is something that comes to her out of necessity. Most importantly, she is a character who learns and grows throughout the story.

The Wastelands in the story were ominous and well crafted. What were some sources that influenced its creation?

I tried to think of hazards that were both natural and supernatural. I wanted an eerie feeling, as well as a treacherous one. I have written other fantasy novels and was able to create even better creatures than I had before.

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

The sequel to REBORN is in the editing process and I’m hoping to have some short stories published soon. In the interim, I’ve launched a podcast with fellow author Miranda Oh called “Quill and Ink: A Podcast for Book Lovers.”

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Those who bear marks on their skin are doomed to a life of slavery. Lexil has seven. Sold into servitude, Lexil must deal with brutal punishments, back-breaking labor, and the loss of every freedom. When a young child she has befriended faces a horrible fate, Lexil must intervene to protect her, no matter what the risk. With the help of a boy named Finn, the trio flee into the Wastelands. There, they must evade those who hunt them while trying to survive a barren landscape. Lexil must face challenges she’s never imagined existed, all while learning what it means to truly be reborn. The Red Queen meets The Hunger Games in this stunning new release. Buy REBORN now to find out if being branded a reborn is a myth, a curse… or a destiny.

CAEZIK SF & FANTASY

CAEZIK SF & FantasyRGB200px.jpg
Publisher Interview

What are the types of books that Arc Manor normally pursues publishing?

Arc Manor is primarily a publisher of science fiction, although we do publish some fantasy. Historically, our focus has been on reprints of works by major authors, but recently we have been publishing new works from authors like Harry Turtledove, James Morrow and, of course, Robert A. Heinlein, based on his rediscovered manuscript.

What draws you to Robert A. Heinlein’s work?

I grew up in Pakistan reading what little science fiction I could access. Fortunately, given the global popularity of Heinlein, most of his books were available there. More importantly, I fell in love with his fiction, particularly his “juveniles.” Tunnel in the Sky was the first Heinlein story I ever read, and I was blown away.

There is a certain simplicity in the way Heinlein writes, especially in his earlier works, that really appeals to me. He has that uncommon ability to take far-out ideas and make them easily accessible to his readers. As a young reader I could really connect with the characters in books like Tunnel in the Sky or Have Spacesuit Will Travel.

As I grew older, I became fascinated by the breadth of his writing. For example, it is hard to believe that the same author wrote both Stranger in a Strange Land and Starship Troopers. With Heinlein, you never know what sort of awesome story you will get whenever you pick up a book of his.

What other Robert A. Heinlein works does your publishing company have planned to release?

We have been fortunate enough to re-publish a number of his books over the years. Unlike The Pursuit of the Pankera (which is published under the CAEZIK SF & Fantasy imprint), most of them have been published by our reprint imprint, Phoenix Pick.

However, as the author passed away in 1988, we do not expect to find any new material (although, as was the case with Pankera, who knows what one may find hidden away somewhere!).

Publisher Links: GoodReads | Website

Robert A. Heinlein wrote The Number of the Beast, which was published in 1980. In the book Zeb, Deety, Hilda and Jake are ambushed by the alien “Black Hats” and barely escape with their lives on a specially configured vehicle (the Gay Deceiver) which can travel along various planes of existence, allowing them to visit parallel universes.

However, unknown to most fans, Heinlein had already written a “parallel” novel about the four characters and parallel universes in 1977. He effectively wrote two parallel novels about parallel universes. The novels share the same start, but as soon as the Gay Deceiver is used to transport them to a parallel universe, each book transports them to a totally different parallel world.

From that point on the plot lines diverge completely. While The Number of the Beast morphs into something very different, more representative of later Heinlein works, The Pursuit of the Pankera remains on target with a much more traditional Heinleinesque storyline and ending, reminiscent of his earlier works.

The Pursuit of the Pankera was never published and there have been many competing theories as to why (including significant copyright issues in 1977). Over time the manuscript was largely forgotten but survived in fragments. A recent re-examination of these fragments, however, made it clear that put together in the right order they constituted the complete novel.

And here it finally is: Robert A. Heinlein’s audacious experiment. A fitting farewell from one of the most inventive science fiction writers to have ever lived: a parallel novel about parallel universes as well as a great adventure pitting the forces of good versus evil only the way Heinlein could do.
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