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Polish Dragon P. I. (The Lineage Sword)

Cindy’s brother was missing, along with the intricately forged sword that had been handed down through their family for generations. Carved into the hilt of this sword is a dragon with eyes that seem alive. So when she read about Tom Sipowicz, a P.I. nicknamed the Polish Dragon, it seemed only natural to hire him for the case. Tom soon finds out that there’s more adventure to be had here than he usually finds in his line of work. He ends up chasing leads to Taiwan and back while unearthing a wealth of knowledge about the culture, history, traditions, and superstitions of Cindy’s family and people.

Polish Dragon P.I. (The Lineage Sword) by Steve Zimcosky is a fast paced mystery filled with exotic locales that all seem infused with a sense of the supernatural. Zimcosky wastes no time getting to the meat of the story, introducing Cindy, the lineage sword, Tom, and a hint at his own background within the first few pages. From there the action is consistent, and Tom uses all his tricks to try and find the missing man. Paul is a law student reluctant to continue in the family’s martial arts business after the death of his and Cindy’s father. Tom calls in some favors from old friends in high places. Eventually, a letter from Paul himself helps guide the way, but not before a trip to Taiwan and visits to many of Cindy and Paul’s family friends. This provides readers with ample opportunity to meet intriguing characters as we wind through this short but well crafted mystery.

The Lineage Sword has a fascinating story that is layered and full of potential. I would have really loved this story to be a full novel so that we had time to explore different plot points, and give more breadth to events and interactions that feel only briefly explored here.

Polish Dragon P.I.- The Lineage Sword combines a curious mystery with an imaginative supernatural element that holds promise and will surely capture the attention of amateur sleuths looking for a quick but engaging read.

Pages: 85 | ASIN: B08VF7ZZ99

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How Ferris Wolfe Got Fired

How Ferris Wolfe Got Fired is a memorable story about the intricacies of working for a corporation, in this case it is ‘Aquatic Hobbyist.’ The novella focuses on different perspectives within the company and the building where the company resides. The different perspectives give you insight of how unhappy people actually are working for this company. I really enjoyed this evocative story and couldn’t help but empathize with Ferris. Just as soon as he had tried his best in raising the company’s numbers and then being recognized with this accomplishment, he is fired for an incident that occurs in the office. Just as he is about to rejoice in his triumph he is quickly shot down and blamed for a lot of the actions that his employees partake in.

The reality of this intriguing story is how the most dedicated workers are punished, despite their devotion to their occupation, just like Wolfe, while the others are given a pass; it’s frustrating but it is true in essence. One thing I really like about the different perspectives, or rather focus on different characters, was that it gives readers a look at people who might have had a motivation to sabotage the company. We see characters like Elena and Theo who arguably are taken advantage of as well as Imogen. They are characters who attempt to not only work but do their best and pick up the slack–arguably they are underestimated. This is a short but entertaining tale that gives insights into how a corporation might operate and it reels you in with a curious whodunit story? Who has breached the system and attempted to take down Wolfe?

How Ferris Wolfe Got Fired is a quick read that has characters you can empathize with and a puzzling riddle that makes this mystery story an engaging read!

Pages: 113 | ASIN: B08RSQVRMR

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Temptation Incarnate

Kristal Dawn Harris
Kristal Dawn Harris Author Interview

Rise for Me follows a vampire who is forced into a reunion with his soulmate that abandoned him, and she’s harboring another secret. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

The inspiration for Rise for Me actually developed after answering another author’s writing prompt. On social media, he asked his followers to create a fictional story about how we met. That is temptation incarnate for another writer, so I answered with something like this:

We met at the carnival and you were the creepy clown who snuck up behind me. I was so scared, I hit you with my corndog, and got mustard in your hair. You were so angry, we wrestled into the duck-pond booth, and tore it all to pieces. You laughed and I laughed. We both ended up wet, but we’re friends again, and all is good.

Not the best writing, but it was a fun response. That author is a horror writer by the way…lol After that little paragraph, I started thinking what a great vampire story.

Mariah and Roman have a deep emotional connection. What were some driving ideals behind the character’s relationship?

Vampires are almost always fated mate stories, but it’s rare to see a character leave for any extended period of time. Given Mariah’s age at the time the knowledge is revealed to Roman, I felt their separation appropriate although difficult for my hero. As a vampire and gypsy, Roman knows what it’s like to be judged, so he easily empathizes with Mariah’s infirmity. By the same token, Mariah has suffered judgement most of her life, so she knows what it’s like for Roman. This dynamic between them, along with the fact that they’re mates, drives the angst for her return, his forgiveness, and a happily-ever-after ending.

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

I am disabled from Guillain-Barre syndrome, so I know what it feels like to be different. Because I wear drop-foot braces, I walk a little weird. My mother was born with a hairy birthmark in the center of her forehead that was removed by a cosmetic surgeon later in her life. I’ve seen these things with my own eyes, experienced them, been stared at, and know how devastating they can be, but I also wanted to show the positives. The people of the carnival, including Roman, are accepting and don’t judge anyone. There are people just like Mariah and Roman in the real world, people in my life. Roman never looked on Mariah as anything but beautiful. Different doesn’t mean ugly…it means unique. I think Mariah realized how much more important Roman’s love was versus the healing he bestowed her with maturity and distance. In a world based on beauty, I feel as an author it’s important to put that kind of message in my stories. Mariah suffered real problems. Don’t we all wish for a vampire mate to heal us? Those types of situations draw the romance reader because many can identify. I was a reader, and still am, long before I ever wrote my first book.

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

Seduction by Blood is another fated mates, vampire book that releases February 22, 2021. It deals with an abusive relationship in the beginning, so again, I’m hitting on a major issue while showing the heroine’s inner strength and growth throughout the story. The vampire is old world and is woke by his mate’s blood traveling through the root system on his property. This book is paranormal erotic, cowritten with another author, and published by The Wild Rose Press.

Hand-Carved Wolf is undergoing a major revision and will be available March 1, 2021, through Kindle Unlimited. This is a fantasy romance that deals with two widowers, and the ghost that bridges the gap between them. It’s unique in that the hero and the ghost are both Native American, my heroine is strong and feisty, and it’s in the current time period. It’s a longer book, 160+ pages, because of the issues that come from losing a spouse. The hero is also a single father and trying to put his and his daughter’s life back together when the heroine barges into his world. The book is loaded with sassy banter and was fun to write. It’s a good story with deep meaning, more of a classic romance about second chances, so I’m hoping romance readers enjoy it.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Vampire and warlock, Roman Lee, spent centuries alone as ringmaster of the carnival. After befriending and healing a scarred, young woman, Roman realizes Mariah is his mate. He waits for her, but when she departs from his life, his torture knows no bounds. Now he’s risen, unforgiving and angry, forced from his grave by the one woman who captured his heart, but will another secret and the call of his mate change everything?

The steady call of Roman’s blood and the promise of peace brings Mariah Stone home to the carnival and the vampire she left behind. He ignores her until she forces him from the grave with her blood. His anger crushes her already broken spirit, but she is determined to win Roman’s forgiveness and free him from their bond. Denied passion leads them down a path of magic and desire, while a devastating secret threatens eternal love.

Rise for Me

Rise for Me by [Kristal Dawn Harris]

Rise For Me is a thrilling paranormal romance novella that surprised me with the amount of emotion that is packed into so few pages. Although the vampire romance genre is dense, Rise for Me is still able to remain unique and bring something new to the genre. The story surrounds a carnival run by Roman, our alluring main character, who is the ringmaster, vampire and warlock. Our female protagonist is Mariah, a character with emotional depth, who becomes Roman’s mate after a spell was performed. Although she has kept away, she has come back into Roman’s life and has a personal secret. The two have multiple forces working against them, including Mariah’s father, but they are inextricably bound to each other nonetheless.

Rise For Me is short, but is manages to take readers on a roller-coaster of emotion. Maybe because the story was short, or maybe because I so enthralled with the story, but I blew through story quickly. I read it all in one sitting! Author Kristal Dawn Harris’ writing is easy and keeps the story on the character and the action. Readers feel the pain that both Roman and Mariah felt by being apart all those years and empathize with Mariah as we learn the real reason why she has come back. This story has a great mix of character development and steamy scenes. I found the vampires in this story to be unique enough to stand out in the vampire genre, and I am impressed with how much background on our characters was given considering this story is around sixty pages. There was is a peculiar angst and passion between Roman and Mariah, I wanted more of their story and the way the novella ends only made me want more on these two characters.

I definitely recommend this if you are into vampire romance stories and are looking for a quick read; a long train or plane ride as this story can easily transport you into another world. I just wish we were there a bit longer. Readers easily get attached to Roman and Mariah and their complicated relationship. This is a suspenseful supernatural love story that will have fans raving, and begging for another installment.

Pages: 61 | ASIN: B08RRYSPHY

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And the Last Trump Shall Sound

And the Last Trump Shall Sound by [Harry Turtledove, James Morrow, Cat Rambo]

In the not-too-distant future, Mike Pence has ascended the ladder to the presidency, but the foundation that was laid during Donald Trump’s time in office still stands strong. The United States has become little more than a caricature of its former self as its people grow more and more extreme about almost literally every issue imaginable. Finally reaching a breaking point, the west coast declares its independence and comes Pacifica, prompting the northeast to consider following suit. As both nations adjust to the change, the stories that emerge range from terrifyingly feasible to laugh out loud absurd, with just a little of the bizarre thrown in for color.

And the Last Trump Shall Sound is a trilogy of novellas that explore a different aspect of the future of Trump’s America in the wake of Pacifica’s succession. Each entry is penned by a different author and as such, projects a drastically different voice. Although each story is connected and follows a linear timeline, using different authors helps to keep it fresh. 

“The Breaking of Nations” by Harry Turtledove illustrates the first days of Pacifica and the struggles faced by its leaders. Of the three, this one is easily the most frightening for its plausibility and passages that read more like non-fiction at times. Turtledove paints the picture of a future devoid of any semblance of morality or democracy and the people who want desperately to salvage what they can.

In contrast, “The Purloined Republic”, by James Morrow takes a more absurd approach to solidifying Pacifica’s status as an independent nation, a couple of years down the road. Taking a page out of classic spy and espionage novels, Morrow’s tone is much more tongue in cheek as our heroine Polly agrees to go undercover in the hopes of undermining Pence’s legitimacy, even among the most devoted Americans. What follows is a series of events that can only be described as both ridiculous and wildly entertaining. 

The final entry is “Because it is Bitter” by Cat Rambo, and this one gets weird. Set six years after the formation of Pacifica, it veers firmly into science fiction territory, and stops just short of portraying life in America as dystopian. It combines the implications of Trump’s future with a complete lack of privacy that raises plenty of questions about freedom and manipulation. It provides a fitting end to the trilogy as it leaves the door open for both hope and uncertainty.

For me, the opening story was the weakest of the three and made getting into the book a little slow, but it was nonetheless well written and a necessary read for the other two to make sense. I thoroughly enjoyed the differences in style and tone, and would love to read more from these writers in the future.

Pages: 257 | ASIN: B086Q1M8VQ

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Adam Frankenstein: Search for a Soul

Adam Frankenstein: Search for a Soul: A Collection of Short Stories (Adam Frankenstein Short Stories Book 2) by [Sheila English]

A more modern and brutish man than one may expect, this monster embodies both of his namesakes rather well, the innocent first man of lore and the man-made of many. The monster we meet in the collection Adam Frankenstein: Search for a Soul by Sheila English is all at once stoic and terrifying—yet he counts Mary Shelley and Van Helsing among his friends here.

In this continuation of a story we thought we knew, meet the man-made man for hire, Adam Frankenstein. He is not without his charms, however hideously disfigured. Some characteristics we may remember do remain; he is a man of few words, gigantic in stature, and will kill in terms of black and white logic. Adam has an unsettling presence yet, is profoundly gentle.

Poetically, and by murky gaslight, Sheila English dazzles the reader with pressing adventures and a companion by our side. Adam travels with his loyal dog Bella, who he protects to the bitter end of all who cross them.

In the first novella, Marked, we meet the street-wise Sabine and her charge, the young Celeste, who require help though at a glance we know they must have tremendous problems as both are more than capable of defense and have made their way through dark city streets until now, however they could.

Then, a monster’s point of view short story Last Man Standing leads the reader through a terrifying nightmare as an angry mob hunts Adam. Written in first-person, the shift is not as jarring as expected. This story is at least a refreshing change of pace and being the shortest story does not overstay its welcome. We land again on the cobblestone streets of London in another tale where we meet a vampire ally in The Madame and the Madman. While this is another kind of Dracula all together, the weaving of cherished horror stories together always makes for an entertaining read, and here is it done with both flair and grit. The reality of the sooty and smelly 19th century is used to brilliant effect in describing not only the fast-paced and bloody action, but what scant leisure time Adam is afforded. Between the two, English gives the reader a glimpse into what our hero sees in mankind when looking out of a monster’s eye. A very thoughtful creature Adam Frankenstein is, and one that readers of historical fiction and horror alike will be glad to have met.

When we come to the modern world of 1976 in Freak Show, the stage is set since we now know Adam and his cut and dry way of reasoning. Considering the people he encounters, it is a balancing act in each story to decide which of the two sides are truly flawed – questions that good fiction raises in a reader reflecting on society, and our wants and needs as earthly inhabitants. While there is a bonus story in this collection, Doll Therapy, that fits in bleak outlook and poetic prose and is presented separately. Other stories by the same author feature the titular Adam Frankenstein and with luck, there will be a larger collection for them all someday. It would be an opportunity to update the cover art as it does not reflect the high-level character crafting and adventurous ideas here that lead to wanting to read more. Adam Frankenstein himself is all five stars of five in here and recommended for a highly entertaining read that puts a cavalier edge on this classic human monster.

Pages: 138 | ASIN: B07RG7JZ42

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RISKING FOREVER

RISKING FOREVER: Vol 1 (The Forever Series): New adult college romance by [GALLINA, TARA]

Ainsley Belle is the 21-year old college student who provides the first person narrative in this story. She’s a funny, sweet and innocent girl in the prime of her life. She and her best friend, Harper Gentry, are students at Ryland. Unlike most of her classmates, Ainsley wasn’t born into a wealthy family and works hard to afford her education. She is desperately seeking independence from her controlling mother. When she loses her employment and an enticing job opportunity presents itself she is more passionate than intrigued. The fact that the job comes from a handsome older classmate makes it all the more intriguing. The reader joins Ainsley as she enters in to a world much bigger than the one she’s known.

The flirtatious build-up between Sebastian and Ainsley is enticing. It’s almost a little irritating how Ainsley doesn’t realize Sebastian is coming on to her or why he might be interested. She’s clearly an attractive girl and playful. She’s written as a virgin which is a little cliche but because we experience it through her eyes it helps define it a bit more.

I love that this book is a serial novel. I haven’t read many serial novels but the idea that’s it made for people who don’t have time to sit through a full length book is very desirable to me.

This was easy to digest and flirtatious throughout. It had a youthful sexy vibe that made me feel young and flirty. I enjoyed the time the author took to organically grow the relationship between Sebastian and Ainsley, although sometimes I wanted it to move faster. I also loved the friendship between Harper and Ainsley. It was very believable and playful.

I think the author could have given us a little more grit outside of the innocent flirting between the two main characters. Maybe this will come out more in the next books in the series. I also look forward to more levels as far as the romance! In all this book was entertaining with endearing characters and an intriguing plot line. I’m definitely interested in reading more about these characters and seeing where the story goes. Serial novels have a way of drawing you in! There are some adult themes so this is better for the older set. Smooth writing helps with a somewhat slow story. Enjoyable book

Pages: 149 | ASIN: B07NQ99MGF

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The Tattooed Cat

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It all begins innocently enough: a woman finds an animal that has been the victim of inexplicable torture. However, neither the cat nor the woman are average in Natrelle Long’s The Tattooed Cat. This short novella grips readers from the get-go as it plunges directly into the meat of the story. Charley, our bad-assed protagonist is elegant and rough all at the same time. She is determined and passionate. She will find who exactly has hurt the cat she saved. The journey will lead her face-to-face with the darkness of humanity as the man-hunt reveals much more is going on than animal abuse. What begins with a cat ends with a corpse.

This is the perfect kind of book to tuck into during a quiet afternoon. The short length of the book lends itself to easy reading and the story is perfectly contained within the minimal pages. There is no room for filler or other such garbage in this tale. Every sentence has purpose and each character has meaning. The characters Long creates are true to modern interpretations of humanity. The characters speak like real people, especially Charley, and it all drives the point home.

It’s a quirky book in that there is enough content to write something even twice as long, but yet the ending is neatly wrapped and perfectly delivered that the need to drag the story out disappears. By being able to devote attention and detail to this short book Long still succeeds in creating a whole world with minimal building. Many novellas have the issue of limited time to grab a readers attention and explain the world to them at the same time.

Maybe it’s the cat, maybe it’s the fact that Charley is so determined to unravel the mystery she finds herself knee-deep in that makes The Tattooed Cat by Natrelle Long so interesting. Once your attention is grabbed there is no escaping the desire to read every single word and find out once and for all how the cat and the nefarious deeds of a single man are interconnected. We are reminded of humanity’s darkness and weaknesses and that the world is not a beautiful place. But we also get to see the beauty of a single person working towards polishing this ugliness. This is a book you won’t regret picking up.

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