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A Dark Underbelly of Deception

Roger Chiocchi Author Interview

Roger Chiocchi Author Interview

Time Framed follows two family members battling across generations to avoid the consequences of a family curse. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing novel?

In 2002 I published the novel Mean Spirits which introduced the Pennfield family curse. The story follows the curse from the Mayflower through several generations and then ends with the downfall of Prof. Christopher Pennfield, once a highly respected professor of Philosophy, but now shamed for causing the suicide of his research assistant, a student with whom he was having an affair (and was the contemporary agent of the curse). The Epilogue of the book, takes place in 2052 when another descendant of the Pennfield family, Jimmy Mashimoto-Pennfield, an industrialist-genius, is contemplating how he, himself, can avoid the curse. He figures that if he can change the past a bit, he can throw off the timing of the curse so that he avoids it in the 2050s. So, in effect, Time Framed begins where Mean Spirits left off (but don’t worry, you don’t have to read Mean Spirits before Time Framed; the back story is thoroughly covered!)

Your characters are compelling and well developed. What were some themes you wanted to capture while creating them?

Certainly, one of the main themes is about greed and privilege. On the surface, The Pennfields are a well-respected American family; however, their accomplishments have a dark underbelly of deception, cheating and cruelty. Some of the characters in the book, specifically Christopher, Jimmy Mashimoto-Pennfield and Izan Bonne-Saari, a world renowned financier who uses his control of world financial markets to reshape the world’s governmental order into a caste system heavily favoring the wealthy elite, represent humankind’s proclivity to ego-centrism and narcissism. In fact, Jimmy Mashimoto-Pennfield creates a holographic clone of himself, aptly named Narc, so he can have someone of equal intelligence to converse with. Despite these characters self-centered and greedy natures, Christopher Pennfield realizes he has done wrong is looking to redeem himself which, I think makes him an interesting character. Some of the other characters in the book, Shippy Pennfield, Ed Swann (ghost hunter), Julian Weisman (theoretical physicist) and Dr. Brenda Altieri (nun turned psychiatrist), Derek Fane and Robyn Viega represent the better aspects of humanity.

I thought you handled the use of time travel deftly in this book. Time travel usually comes with its own paradoxes. How did you avoid these in your book?

Yes, indeed, any story about time travel has to deal with what’s called the “grandfather paradox” — suppose you went back in time and killed your grandfather; then you would never exist in the future to be able to go back in time to commit that very act. The only resolution to that paradox is for the universe to split into two parallel universes, one where you exist in the present and the other where you do not. So, in effect, Time Framed becomes the story of two separate universes, one where a certain event happened and one where it didn’t and then how they finally resolve into one universe again. Interestingly, there is no physical time travel in Time Framed. It all centers around the Pennfields using their pre-existing psychic sensitivities to communicate psychically across time and influence the other time period, convincing someone in the past or future to perform an act which appears trivial to them in their time frame but one which causes a major disruption of history.

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

It’s not nearly as daunting as writing a book about two parallel universes across space and time, but currently my daughter and I are working on a screenplay that explores the relationship between fame and true talent.

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Time Framed by [Chiocchi, Roger]

Two periods of time clash with an alternative universe in Time Framed, a story that pits family members against each other across generations as they attempt to evade the dire consequences of a menacing family curse. Dating back to the Mayflower, the curse had its origin as family patriarch, Charles Pennfield, threatened a poor servant girl, causing her to leap to her death off the Cape Cod coast. Now, her unsettled spirit ebbs and flows, surfacing every sixty to eighty years to exact justice as she inhabits a living agent and forces them to crush the greatest ambitions of whatever unlucky Pennfield crosses her path. 

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Doves & Crows

Doves & Crows by [Heathcote, MJC]

MJC Heathcote delivers a story that combines mystery and family history in a chilling way that has you wondering about the dark forces embedded within a seemingly average object. Although Doves and Crows starts slowly, it quickly ramps up and once it captured my attention it rarely let it go. Heathcote does a fantastic job at slowly building up the mystery and drama, drawing you in and making the resolution all the more satisfying. There are moments when the story slows, but the unique writing style and the clear storytelling keeps this book engaging throughout.

Doves and Crows is an intriguing supernatural horror story that reads more like a crime thriller when people start to meet their untimely death, and more like Paranormal Activity when strange things start happening. The the mystery surrounding the necklace, although intriguing, left me wanting more details. Richard is an easy character to follow and is easy to empathize with, but I would have liked more background on his character.

With any mystery novel that relies on subtlety it’s easy to be too subtle and lose the reader along the way, but Heathcote’s writing is exceptionally fluid and effortlessly delivers some odd twists and dramatic scenes in dark an eerie settings. What I really liked about this book was how it combines many different genres to create a thought provoking story about paranormal forces wreaking havoc on one boys life and his ultimate struggle to rid himself of the dark forces his grandparents unknowingly brought into his life.

Pages: 434 | ASIN: B07L5RS1SD

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Resilient and Courageous

Tarrant Smith Author Interview

Tarrant Smith Author Interview

The Love of Gods is a genre-crossing novel with elements of romance, supernatural, and mystery as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?

Actually, I initially was trying to write a mystery with a hint of a simmering romance which I hoped would span several books, but I discovered pretty early on that I am a romance writer and not a mystery writer. So, I tossed my first draft and started over.

Lugos and Keely are interesting and well defined characters. What were some ideas that were important for you to capture in their characters?

Lugos is based on two different Celtic gods which gave me a place to start. I immediately understood who he was, what would be important to him, and a good portion of his backstory from the very beginning. And so from that jumping off point, he became a vivid character in my mind. I wanted him to value his intellect over his brawn. I also him to value humanity over his own kin. As for Keely, her southern sass is based on a waitress I know, and the awful taste in men is a nod to a dear friend of mine. Because Lugos is an immortal, I wanted Keely to have a resilient and courageous nature so that Lugos’s god-ness didn’t overpower the relationship. Even though she’s a mortal, Keely had to be his equal in many ways otherwise the relationship wouldn’t work.

I loved the backstory and world building in this novel. What were some sources of inspiration for you while creating this story?

I spend a lot of my time researching various myths and much of the characters’ backstories are tied to my understanding of those myths. The various gods in The Love of Gods all have their own histories in Celtic mythology and I drew from these. The shifter and witch communities have rich literary traditions that gave me a direction, a roadmap, of how they might respond if the world of the Pale truly existed.

This is book one in The Legends of Pale series. Where will book two take readers and when will it be available?

I’m happy to say that I am hard at work on several books in this series. The Fate of Wolves is the next book and will be out near Christmas this year. I have already finished book three, The Dreams of Demons, and if all goes to plan I’ll release it in spring 2020. I’m currently writing the fourth book, The Souls of Witches and I’m absolutely in love with the main characters. But then, that’s how it is with each book I write.

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The Love of Gods (The Legends of the Pale Series Book 1) by [Smith, Tarrant]

Lugos had given his word when the world was still young, before he’d endured the wrenching pain of her soul being torn from his. Lifetime after lifetime she’d returned when he’d needed her most, when the apathy of his kind had eaten away at his resolve and his heartfelt vow seemed pointless. One would think he’d be able to protect a single mortal, after all, he was a god. But two long centuries had passed since he’d held her, since he’d been whole. Now, she was back and Lugos had a decision to make; claim the only woman he’d ever loved, or deny his soul’s deepest craving and grant Keely a chance at a peaceful life without the dangers that populated his world. For five years, Lugos had chosen the latter with the hope that the fates might overlook them this time. That was still his plan when the goddess Rhiannon called seeking his help. Lugos should have known better.

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Bloodfest

Bloodfest by [Grimbly, Ryan, Maddison, James]

Bloodfest by Ryan Grimbly is a paranovel set in Pacoven – an isolated island in the Pacific Ocean that the government uses to conduct social experiments. The story follows the activities of an elite squad of Hidden Government soldiers captained by Ace McDagger, aided by his childhood friend Shimon. The soldiers are sent to Pacoven in a shroud of mystery, not knowing why they are going there or what, or who lies in wait for them.

The plot is fast paced but easy to understand. There are a couple of flashbacks to Ace’s childhood, however they are easy to follow and add to the depth of his character. Some of the flashbacks include Ace’s friend Shimon, this builds up their relationship and explains there closeness even in the professional field. However, the loyalties of some of the characters are tested, and as they progress with their mission it becomes unclear whom can trust whom. As with any good tale there are several twists and turns to keep you guessing.

Bloodfest is filled with characters. Most of the characters belong to the Hidden Government Army and work with the main character Ace McDagger. Other less developed characters are the residents of Pacoven. The characters are easily distinguishable and are not hard to follow. Some of the characters are described physically, for example Ace’s eye patch is often referred to. Others have their skills (often magical) described – Shimon reads minds and sees the future, another character – Resh- erases memories. The dialogue is cleverly written, with each character having their own unique dialogue that aptly fits their character.

Of course, there are also the paranormal characters – zombies, warlords and man-made monsters. These characters are also cleverly and thoroughly described; “one of bones and loose red flesh”. The vivid descriptions had to the suspense of the story.

Adding to the suspense is the setting itself. Pacovern is an island like no other. Although it appears typical with streets, shops, nightclubs, buses and churches looks are deceiving. It is in fact full of trapdoors, an artificial church and a vortex. Just like the humans and monsters traversing the island itself is dangerous and unpredictable.

Bloodfest is a fast moving and gripping read. The characters and setting are described in graphic detail, creating a book that is hard to put down.

Pages: 538 | ASIN: B07GBZ5KHJ

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The Astral Surge

The Astral Surge by [Nirmal Ranganathan]

The Astral Surge follows the life of two main characters, Ron and Catherine. The book starts off by revealing our characters’ past. They meet after Catherine’s mom adopts Ron and they start an interesting life together. However, Ron starts revealing some dark tendencies that cause Catherine to wonder about her brother. As they grow older, they find their respective careers and take different yet similar paths that show their true selves. Eventually, it all culminates in some pivotal events which have big consequences – both good and bad – for our main characters and certain other people.
The book starts slow, and although the beginning confused me, it helped set the context for the later part of the story. The characters were intriguing and well developed. I liked the way they continued to develop as the story progressed. I enjoyed the characters being realistic. It helped in my easily empathizing with them.
Ron is a uniquely interesting character. The way the book documents his descent down the path he chose is both chilling and gripping. One example of this is the conversation he has with his soon-to-be-wife. She doesn’t notice it as much, but in this scene, you get a sense of his internal conflicts.
I also feel that the characters sometimes express an out-of-place carefree or happy attitude, which makes the book hard to read at certain points. However, the novel makes up for this with a plot that keeps you engaged. The author smoothly transitions between different points of view of each character. We can see this in the way the book shifts its focus on each of them in every chapter.
Catherine’s character is wonderfully developed too, showing her awareness of Ron’s issues and how she continues to watch over him.
Another character I felt contributed significantly to the story was the FBI agent Peter Fox. His helping nature and the chemistry he had with the other characters throughout the book added an extra dash of intrigue to the story. For example,  the way he goes about assisting Antony was something that I personally found surprising. It added a nice touch to the main plot.

Overall, the book has equal amounts of action and a story that is well balanced. It does a fantastic job of bringing together all its characters and tying their situations up in a satisfying way that is sure to appeal to any fan of paranormal fiction.

Pages: 272 | ASIN: B07NY31HNK

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Time Framed

Time Framed by [Chiocchi, Roger]

Back in the 1600s, Charles Penfield drove a girl to her death. Since then, her soul roams the world seeking revenge through generations of the same family. She strikes every few decades to cause havoc. This had come to be known as the Pennfield curse.

Decades later in 2053, Jimmy Mashimnoto-Pennfield is well aware of the family curse and is looking for ways to get rid of it. He finds a solution in time travel, something that will not exactly get rid of the curse but will divert it from him. An alternate universe is created and Professor Pennfield catches wind of this. Jimmy’s intentions could make for a direr situation for Shippy so he has to be stopped. Now the Professor remains to fight Jimmy through the time-space continuum.

The characterization in this book is exceptional and sets up some remarkably vivid characters. Each character is bespoke and continues to develop as the story progresses adding layers that make the characters interesting and engaging. Understanding the characters is easy, being that this is a complex time travel sci-fi book, I appreciated this. Jimmy is quite obviously the villain, with his selfish motivations, his character is easy to dislike but still empathize with.

This book is long and complex, but it needs to be in order to dive completely into all the ramifications of meddling with the past. There is a lot going on in this book, time travel, curses, and multiple storylines. At times I got lost, but the author masterfully brings the story together in satisfying ways that kept me engaged. The moment of realization when events in the story comes together and makes sense, for me, was satisfying.

The way the professor and Jimmy try to outwit each other with intelligent and well thought out moves is an engaging experience. They’re each smart and cunning in their own ways and I was entranced watching them clash. This is the same feeling I get when I read Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon series; intelligence used as a blade to attack and parry.

Time Framed is a suspenseful book with an absorbing story, an interesting villain, and a relatable underdog. Some parts of the book were hard to follow, but when you catch on, this book is simply addictive.

Pages: 748 | ASIN: B07DN3RNBC

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The Water Kingdom

Kevin James Breaux Author Interview

Kevin James Breaux Author Interview

Three Burning Red Runaway Brides finds Sabrina fighting for her life as she’s trying to save millions of others. How did you envision starting this novel and how did that change as you wrote?

I had a very sturdy thread I was connecting books one and two together with, and that thread only gets stronger with book three.

I wanted to build the story to a place Sabrina had not yet been. She was on top again. The object of desire, a leader—someone people listened to and respected. She was in control, but still had this one obstacle looming in the distance. This one last thing to overcome before she could finally rest and fully enjoy her new status.

I envisioned starting this novel off with a bang… (insert smirk here). And that is exactly how I started it off. (insert giggle here).

This novel did not change much from what I envisioned. The only thing I had to decide, before I got to the end, was how to end it. I had three outcomes in my mind. And juggled them. I wrote three endings and gave them all to my editor and proofreader and a trusted friend. I wanted to see how they felt.

As it turns out, the book ends as I originally envisioned it…with a couple tweaks.

I am happy with this book. It concludes the story of Sabrina while opening the world more and beginning the story of another character. I plan on writing more books. This series, The Water Kingdom, is done. The next books will be in the other Kingdoms: Fire, Air, Earth.

We get to learn more about who Dunyasha is, her past and how she became the cursed undead. Was this something you already had developed or was it something you started exploring in this book?

The elder vampire Dunyasha was always meant to be something more. But I did not know what the was until book two: TWO POLLUTED BLACK-HEART ROMANCES. In book three, I finally spill the beans and reveal it all. At the same time, I leave a little mystery surrounding her, because she will be the focus of the next series.

Dunyasha was fun to write in THREE BURNING RED RUNAWAY BRIDES. In fact, she was more fun to write in this book than the others. In many ways, I am sad to see the “old” Dunyasha go. Or should I say see the “old” Dunyasha back?

What is a scene from the book that was particularly challenging for you to write?

The end. As I said before, I had three versions in my head. One version was much-much longer. And had an entirely different outcome. It was brutal and ugly. But I wasn’t sure readers would enjoy it. It felt right to me, but it was like taking your favorite childhood toy and selling it. Sure, you can use the money for other things you want now, but you might miss that toy and want it back. I was torn. Do I keep that ending or not?

I wrote the three endings. And rewrote them. And edited them. And rewrote them. I picked my favorite and edited it more. Added dialogue. Removed dialogue. I struggled and I normally don’t struggle at writing at all, so I knew it must have been important.

After some feedback and some time to think, I picked an ending and edited and polished it again and again.

I think in the end; my characters are all where they should be. In some ways…many ways, they get what they deserve.

Where will the next book in the series pick up and when will it be available?

This series, The Water Kingdom Series, is done. It was a trilogy. One Smoking Hot Fairy Tail. Two Polluted Black-Heart Romances and Three Burning Red Runaway Brides.

The next series will be another trilogy. The Elemental Kingdom Series. And it will have one book each for the Fire, Air, and Earth Kingdoms. These books will show how the events in the Water Kingdom have rippled across the Elemental world. Each Kingdom will have a story to tell.

I think that will bring it all to an end. But then again, I might write some supplemental short stories.

The next book will not come out until 2020-2021. I will start writing it next year. I am writing the sequel to another book right now, one you reviewed and loved, THE LIFEBLOOD OF ILL-FATED WOMEN. That sequel is long overdue. Not George R.R. long overdue…but still…way late.

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Three Burning Red Runaway Brides (The Water Kingdom Book 3) by [Breaux, Kevin James]

Sabrina London is back! The fate of the Elemental Kingdoms rests in the hands of its newest ruler: Sabrina London. When last seen, the fairy princess had made a deal with the King of Filth to save the lives of her friends. Now she is fighting to live the life she wants while trying to save the lives of millions. A monster, more dangerous than any other she has overcome threatens both the human and non-human world. How will she restore the balance? Despite the risks, Sabrina enlists the aid of one of her people’s biggest rivals. She has spun a complex web of lies and deception, now trying to gain her freedom, unaware that everyone she allies with has their own plans. 

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It Had Power

Angelina Kerner Author Interview

Angelina Kerner Author Interview

The Scented Bones follows a young forensic anthropologist thrown into the middle of a feud between vampires and werewolves. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?

The Godfather by Mario Puzo. When I was in college, taking an English class, most essays and books were boring until the professor chose his book. The book inspired discussions and gained attention of the students. It had power and I wanted to have similar power over my readers with my writing.

This book has been in the works for more than 5 years. It has gone through 5 drafts, including Angel being a university student and main character to be Rayne and not Gage. However, that draft seemed to read more like about street gangs and so I worked hard to make it more like mafia families.

The Scented book is the first in the series and in every book I’ll introduce more characters and families. Hopefully, my books will inspire readers to read more and even try their hand at writing.

 Angel is an intriguing character that I enjoyed following. What were some themes you wanted to capture in her character?

I didn’t want her to be perfect. I wanted her to be smart but timid. Serious but with surprising funny moments. I wanted her to tread carefully when it comes to relationships and focus on the job. But, what I wanted to show was how she looked at magic. Of how she was afraid of what she was and what she could do.

I enjoyed the backstory and mythology embedded in this world between the vampires and werewolves. What were some sources of inspiration that helped you create this world?

Most inspiration came from the characters themselves. Originally all characters were mundanes and as the book progressed into the paranormal, the characters became their other selves. When I was re writing them, I was thinking that if they weren’t paranormal born, how would they shift if bitten? How would they act if they were born?

I tried staying away from other paranormal books about vampires and werewolves to keep my characters original.

 Where will the next book in The Svabodina Case Files pick up and when will it be available? 

The next book will pick up a couple of weeks after the last scene in The Scented Bones with a new case. The new case will involve a serial killer.

At the moment, I have about 20 chapters written. I’m going back to editing these chapters before finishing the book because I have to add information to the already written ones in order to write the scenes with the actual killer. It is a lot of work and I have a chapter summary file that I go back to for each chapter. I’m tracking dates, character appearances, etc.

I’m not sure when it will be out, hopefully next year. The Scented Bones has been republished by a publisher! So, I’ll work closely with the publisher for book 2 as well. It’s super exciting! Book 2 is titled – The Puzzle of Bones.

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The Scented Bones: The Svabodina Case Files by [Kerner, Angelina]

Angel Svabodina is a rookie forensic anthropologist, enjoying the beginning of her new career. That joy comes crashing down when she figures out the skeleton she’s working on is not human and then it vanishes.

She throws herself fully into the case without thinking about the parties involved, a psychopomp associate, and paranormal mafia families made up of vampires and werewolves—or the consequences.

When she sees there’s no avoiding the inevitable, Angel has to suck it up and work with the werewolves to solve the case but can she trust them?

Werewolves and witches are in a centuries-old feud, but that doesn’t stop the shivers running down her spine from one wolf in particular. Rights and wrongs become blurred, as she is tormented by her past and accepting who she truly is while searching for the skeleton. What’s more, nothing comes for free, including information. To get what she needs from the werewolf don, Angel has to meet with the fae queen. Can she meet her without repercussions and solve the case?

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Case Two ~ The Kept – Trudy Hicks Ghost Hunter Traile

If anyone tells you hunting ghosts is less dangerous than chasing down real-life criminals, they’re wrong. Very, very wrong.

Case two takes us to a New Jersey Shore Inn. A beautiful, yet dead opera singer seems to be begging for help, but her pleas do nothing but terrorize the locals.

While trying to decipher the clues to her 1919 disappearance, uncovering hair-raising horrors, it becomes clear that Jason and I no longer see eye-to-eye.

Jason wants me to stop meddling with the supernatural. He wants me to stop risking my life by interacting with demons and spirits.

What he doesn’t understand is this is my life. These tortured souls need my help in order to move on. How do I walk away from that—from them?

But the better question is—how do I walk away from him?

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The Love of Gods

The Love of Gods (The Legends of the Pale Series Book 1) by [Smith, Tarrant]

 

The Love of Gods, written by Tarrant Smith is the first book in the paranormal romance series, The Legends of the Pale.

The story is an intriguing combination of a murder mystery and love story. As with any good romance, the story has a masculine hero – Lugos.  Despite being a god, Lugos prefers the company of humans. Whilst Lugo is investigating the death of a high-ranking witch his relationship with Keely Ann Lee, a Southern bar tender develops from a simple friendship into romance. Unbeknownst to Keely, Lugos has loved her over several different lifetimes. This time, he will do all he can to protect this mere mortal.

The story is set in Pale, which are a group of supernatural communities, but the characters are spread over different physical locations including Ireland and America.

There is a large and daunting cast of characters, which appear and disappear throughout the book. The author provides a comprehensive character list at the beginning, which is appreciated, but flipping back and forth gets a bit disruptive. The number of characters is further complicated by the fact that these are paranormal characters such as demons, witches, gods, shifters, demigoddesses and familiars. Each character has their own special powers as well as personality and location. That said, it did not take long to get my head around the number of characters and any fan of epic expansive fantasy novels will appreciate the intricate backstory that Tarrant Smith ha created.

Interwoven into the story are both paranormal and human experiences. Characters constantly move from using human technology such as cell phones, luxury cars, classic cars, security systems and Google maps to teleportation and shape shifting. They move from the mundane such as using passports to shifting from human form to animal form. This adds interest and intrigue and ensures the story is fast moving.

The dialogue between characters is rich and realistic and enhances the relationship between characters. The tale is also enhanced with some interesting metaphors, for example, Keely is described at one point as “a puddle of need”; which is my new favorite phrase.

The Love of Gods is a well written story. The dialogue is engrossing and most of the characters and their loyalties are intricate but explained in depth. Both the love story and the mystery will keep you guessing until the end.

Pages: 268 | ASIN: B07PWB8V36

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