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Of Reality And Dream

Of Reality and Dream: Tales for Underground by [Loredano Cafaro]

Of Reality and Dream by Loredano Cafaro is a collection of short stories. Each tale has peculiar narratives the author wrote as a youth. However, his inexperience at the time didn’t rob the stories of considerable literary sophistication as they incorporate both realistic and fantastical settings and happenings. They are also narrated from different points of view ranging from the first person to the third person.

Many of Cafaro’s stories have an eerie note that expertly relays an uneasy feeling to the reader. It’s not so much that it will leave you awake at night but it’s just enough to creep you out considerably. Also, Cafaro clearly has a way with words as his ability to describe scenes and entities exemplifies the proficiency of a skilled poet. Flash fiction requires sharp and punchy language and the author duly delivers. To do this, he uses striking analogies to eliminate extra words that would have been required to perfectly describe certain scenarios.

The short stories are dominated by themes of love – the love that never was and the painfully short-lived one. Cafaro also centers some of his tales around tragedy and the pain of losing a loved one. Each story carries an air of mystery that’s just strong enough to keep you turning the pages. Be warned, however, that not many of the tales would give you answers even at the end. In such situations, Cafaro leaves you at the mercy of your imagination.

I thought some of the stories were a bit bland. But on the whole, it’s a nice read if you’d like to have your fancy tickled by short narratives structured like musings with tinges of dark tones.

Pages: 71 | ASIN: B07RTTKXJN

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The Devil & Streak Wilson

The Devil & Streak Wilson by [Daniel Boyd]

Have you been tempted by the Devil? Would you give up anything to have the life you always dream about? The girl you always lusted after? And the money to go along with it? Would you do it, or steer clear of the devil’s path?

The Devil and Steak Wilson is one such story that describes how our protagonist Streak Wilson, the best shot in Ware county, but poor and without any good prospects. The only prospect he has is dying poor. It is one such time that the devil tries to talk with him in a barbershop. He proposes that Streak could have all that he wanted and more if only he would give his soul to him. Wary of that, our hero demurs. Then the devil gives him another deal, a money bag that would never go empty in exchange for his reflection in the mirror, thus no need of selling his soul. Relieved that he won’t have to sell the soul, Streak takes the deal. Almost immediately, Streak begins to have problems with his decision. While still in the barbershop he is accosted by people about a stolen horse. It is only by the fortuitous presence of the barbershop owner that he escapes that angry mob. Finding that he may not be lucky every time, he decides that he should bring his reflection to a swift justice by taking him down. But he is unaware of the subtle traps that the devil has laid in the way.

The story proceeds at a brisk pace building a surreal and vivid setting which made me believe I was right inside the story. At the start, I was thinking that this novel was a variation of the Faust but the Author Daniel Boyd has a unique and smart way of telling a riveting story that sets this book apart from other western genre novels. Daniel Boyd also touches on the topics of racism, religion, and the bigotry in his supernatural thriller that gives more dimension to an already interesting story line. I am pleased with the way he has highlighted it without trying to preach, but more to invite introspection. But the most remarkable aspect of this story is the subtle warning that big or small, a deal with the devil never bears any good. I really enjoyed The Devil and the Streak Wilson, a tale of subtle allure woven by the devil which almost all of us gets entangled with at some point in our lives. Anyone looking for a suspenseful novel with a provocative character will enjoy The Devil and Streak Wilson. This is the best western novel I’ve read this year.

Pages: 210 | ASIN: B085S14GSV

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Sophia von X

Sophia von X by [Victoria Ray, H. M. Belsve]

Sabina hopes to put a painful marriage behind her by taking a trip to Germany where she will visit a newly discovered tomb of Christ. Along the way she meets a man posing as an archaeologist, but she comes to find out that it is a façade hiding an illicit truth. A series of thrilling events throw Sabina into the middle of a riveting conspiracy involving biblical artifacts. With the body count rising, and bullets whizzing in all directions, can Sabina survive the cesspit of powerful men she’s been thrown into?

The first thing that struck me about Sophia von X is the quick pace the novel develops after the first few chapters. It holds this quick pace right up until the satisfying ending. If you’re familiar with the director Roland Emmerich and his work, then you’ll be familiar with the type of rousing action rampant throughout this book. Car chases, gun fights, deadly secrets and dangerous lies, the book certainly uses all the tools in a writer’s toolbox to build a suspenseful narrative.

While I felt the story line was intricate I felt that the characters were a lot more grounded, propelling themselves through a complex web of action with simple motivations. This keeps things well focused on the intriguing backstory, exotic locations, and subtle themes throughout the book. The same could be said about the dialogue, it’s nothing fancy, but it is to the novels credit. I was able to focus on the story and the characters rather than twisting my brain around complex literary devices. Sabina is a character that I enjoyed watching develop. She’s a believable character which is why I enjoyed watching her get thrown into these wild situations because I felt like her reactions were believable.

Victoria Ray has an outstanding ability to create an intriguing mystery that begs to be answered. Sophia von X is an absorbing novel full of action punctuated by captivating mysteries that that will appeal to fans of action adventure novels and historical fiction readers.

Pages: 210 | ASIN: B085QHTM6V

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No Definitive Proof

Steve Zimcosky Author Interview

Steve Zimcosky Author Interview

The Blood of the Nephilim follows a man who’s never been sick and a billionaire that wants to profit off of it. How did the idea for this novel start and change as you wrote?

The idea started as I was researching blood types, as I have the rarest blood type AB-, and I wanted to know where the blood types originated from. What I found out was that the Rh- factor is only found in a very small percentage of the population worldwide. There are theories that it was a mutation somewhere during the evolution of mankind but there is no definitive proof of that. And the one ancient alien theory states that it comes from aliens breeding with humans. The story started out with the young boy never getting sick and how he had a passion for archaeology and eventually searching those sites mentioned by ancient alien theorists. As I began getting into the background I thought how interesting it would be if a billionaire found out about this person and decided he wanted his blood to create a serum for all of the wealthy people so they never have to worry about ever getting sick.

I enjoyed the interplay between science and religion in this book. What were some themes you wanted focus on in this story?

I wanted to focus on themes that are present in society today. One is how people perceive the wealthy as having so much power to do anything that they want by generally using their wealth to influence the laws, property values and politicians and never feeling any repercussions. So I imagined how one wealthy person would use his money and influence to create a serum from a person’s blood so that he would never get sick again. Of course by saying he would help all mankind everyone trusted him.

Another theme I wanted to focus on was the ancient alien theme. If you look back at many of the religious writings many can be interpreted in ways of showing that aliens did come to this planet and interacted with mankind. For example the book of Enoch talks about fallen angels interacting with man and taking wives as well as in the book of Gensis. The Nephilim were known as fallen angels or spirits in the bible and in Arabic they are called Jinn. The offspring of the Nephilim and the human wives they took were said to be giants. Of course this one of many theories about them.

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

One of my goals was to have people who read the book see that things are not always as they seem. Perhaps the things we read in the ancient texts could have been about aliens who came to help mankind. How did the Rh- negative factor actually come about? There are theories but no definitive proof of how such a small percentage of the population has it. What I want is for people to look at the world and not take what someone says as truth but to do their own research and come to their own conclusion. Many people take what the so called talking heads say as truth when in fact many of them are paid entertainers.

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

I have a few ideas that I am working on right now but I believe the next one will be a mystery that revolves around an author. I hope to start outlining it soon and having it down in the fall of this year.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook

A scientist investigates archaeological sites that could have been built by aliens. No one knows why he has never been sick a day in his life. A billionaire believes his blood is the secret to perfect health. And, he wants it.

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Keeper at the Gates – Trailer

With a well-earned reputation for being rebellious, scandalous, and impossible to work with, Father Donavon Pike has a knack for causing trouble. When he finally gets a church of his own, he truly believes that his life is about to change. But when he uncovers a dangerous secret about his much-treasured faith, Father Pike soon finds himself struggling to face the devastating truth behind the lie that he’s been calling his life. Learning the unfathomable power behind “The Keeper at the Gate.”


Questions of Perspective

Dave Randall had always found it hard to interact with people around the office. Dave was fine reflecting on his less than fulfilling life as a man of the law, but when his friend disappears he struggles to find out what happened to his friend. His friend finally appears to him and sheds some light on what happened to him. This sets off a series of events in Dave’s life and leads him to question his life and his beliefs. His journey of self-discovery is long and not without its bumps. Will John appear to him when he needs him? Will he get Abby back?

Daniel Maunz tells a touching story of one man’s struggle in life that we can all relate to. When Dave grief process is a lot like most people go through. Only he gets a chance that we never get.

Questions of Perspective will have you asking yourself difficult existential questions and motivate you to reflect. I found myself planning on how to improve my own life so it can be more fulfilling. The prose and tone of the book is casual but always engaging. Thus, giving the reader a sense of kinship with the characters. The book moves at a speed that allows the reader to acclimatize to the emotions of the characters as well as get used to the changing backdrops. It lets the reader take a break to think about his or her own life and then get right back on track with Dave on his own journey. All this is executed with a tinge of humor. Just enough to keep things light and fun but still let the reader know that this is serious stuff.

Dave is an intriguing an well developed character that supports the novels narrative. He is nothing like your usual hero. He is just a regular guy. You can almost picture him with a paunch and an awkward social persona. Peaches is the cat you wish your cat would be. The author has done a good job with the characters.

Questions of Perspective may not have the answers to life but it will help you keep from being frustrated that you do not have them either. Take your time with this book. It can be a nice relaxing read. It can also be the book that lights a fire under your seat.

Pages: 244 | ISBN: 1684334586

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With Lucifer On My Side

With Lucifer On My Side by [Panic, Henry]

With Lucifer On My Side is a philosophical, biographical work that examines the religious practice of Luciferianism through the context of Henry Panic’s life. Luciferianism is a religion that is molded to fit each individual, and as such, Henry Panic outlines his personal version of Luciferian beliefs. Readers follow Panic through key moments that shaped his life, both good and bad, and are introduced to the ways in which Luciferianism guides his actions, decisions, and mindset.

This book is a raw look at a man who has gone through a lot in life, but through his beliefs has continued on, trying to be a light bringer.

I adore how raw and blunt Henry Panic’s voice is in this book. Even though I don’t personally know him, Panic’s personality shines through. Despite being gritty and dark at times in his writing, Panic clearly expresses his beliefs and principles to the point where readers will recognize his good heart matched with his open mind.

The format of this book was really interesting as well. Split into chapters, this book is sometimes informational, plenty anecdotal, and is occasionally formatted as a dialogue between Panic and the Gods he believes in. By using these different formats, Panic successfully creates depth. Readers will understand the philosophy of Luciferianism, they will empathize with the author, and will witness how philosophy meets practice.

I found myself really enjoying this as a philosophical text in which Panic’s religious beliefs can easily be adapted to suit an atheist perspective. In addition, there were rarely any dull moments. Panic has lived a very full and thrilling life (in both good and bad ways) and we get to see some of the more emotional parts of it. Relationships, deaths, changing career trajectories, radical beliefs, fatal accidents, coping mechanisms. Panic’s life seems to have it all.

While this book could benefit from another copyedit, my only other critique would be with the organization of the story and chapters. I liked how Panic began by introducing the fundamentals of Luciferianism. This really helped my later understanding. However, Panic would sometimes make references to parts of his life that he wouldn’t fully explain until later. Some people may like this slightly disorienting feeling of having a puzzle piece that doesn’t quite fit anywhere yet, but it’s not something I personally enjoy.

Overall I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is interested in philosophical questions of morality, ethics, and life’s purpose. This is not just for people who are “religious”, and I strongly believe that anyone can benefit from considering other moral and ethical perspectives through this book.

Pages: 290 | ASIN: B083WHX284

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Son of the Serpent

Son of the Serpent (Fantasy Angels Series Book 2) by [Quiroz-Vega, Vashti]

Son of the Serpent by Vashti Quiroz-Vega is a fantasy novel of vengeance and revenge told from the dual perspective of Dracul, the Son of the serpent, and Lillith, his mother.

Dracul arises in a cave and discovers that he’s encased in a demonic body. He’s filled with agony and confusion as he pieces together his memories to determine how he arrived there. In a painful and shocking epiphany, he realizes that he is the son of Lilith, and that Lilith had tried to kill him. He vows to find out what happened and avenge himself. On this bloodthirsty journey, he faces death, destruction, and betrayal. People, encounters, and events further cement his determination for revenge. The author breathes new life into a host of fantastical characters, often from Biblical settings. Their lives and stories are familiar, yet enshrouded in darkness.

What I found most striking about the book was the depth of its darkness and morbidity. Vivid, gory scenes of slaughter left me uncomfortable, but totally engrossed. Lilith’s sections were almost unbearable. Scenes of Lilith’s cruelty towards others was always accompanied by a fascinating glimpse into her psyche. There’s a lot going on in her and just a surface glimpse was enough to leave me mesmerized. It’s been a while since I encountered such a well-portrayed and dislikable antagonist.

Dracul was just as well-written. His struggle to be good in the face of his own destiny was oddly inspiring. To fight where he came from, to whom he belongs, and the core of his being- his pain and loneliness were palpable. The ending was unexpected, but upon consideration, entirely perfect. Maybe it’s not inherent to him, but it’s clear that Dracul is a good creature.

The Biblical settings and references provided a whole new perspective on the worn-out stories. From angels to Cain and Abel, the otherworldly features heavily in this book- and not always in a favorable light. The Biblical events portrayed from a first-person and real-time perspective were super imaginative. I think it would be difficult to assign a genre to this book. Although it is set primarily in a fantasy world, the dashes of horror, romance, and the occult would make it an interesting read for nearly anyone. The world created by Vashti Quiroz-Vega is totally immersive. I was glad for the escape from reality and I would definitely visit again.

Pages: 303 | ASIN:  B07HS4C3B7

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