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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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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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In the Realm of Ash and Sorrow

In the Realm of Ash and Sorrow was a unique historical fiction novel colored with themes of guilt, sorrow and suffering over all that had been lost. Although this was a very emotional novel, it wasn’t all negative emotions, it also had happiness, romance, and a (possible) love like no other, mixed in with some supernatural elements and fantastical hints of history. The story caught my attention in the first couple of pages, remaining consistently entertaining throughout with only rare moments that seemed to slow a bit due to necessary exposition. The detail throughout the book is absorbing and really pulls you into 1940’s Japan. When it came time for the atomic bomb to drop I could see the horror surrounding Micha as he searched for Kyomi, the burning bodies that he came across and the fear that he would never find her or Ai. I could visualize most every scene, which is something I truly appreciated in a novel that covered such a cataclysmic event that reshaped human history.

While Kyomi’s character was interesting I wanted to see more of her personality. Her character seemed monotone at first, but after awhile her character began to grow on me just as she developed in the novel. I liked Micah from the first page, I’m not sure if that’s because he was the first character introduced to me or because I could empathize with him, perhaps it’s because I felt bad for him after the plane crashed. I liked Ai’s character from the beginning as well, children are always fun characters and Ai was no exception. The three of them together made for a great read with interesting interactions and I liked some of the other spirits that they came across along their travels.

Something that made me enjoy the book even more was how the author used the actual terms used by the Japanese such as calling the military Kempeitai instead of using one of our military terms like Army, Navy, Coast Guard, etc. This happens frequently throughout the book which showed me that the author did thorough research for this book and it also helped me learn a few terms. This is an example of the authors dedication to historical detail in this book. Something that I praise the author for is the way that this novel helps you see different points of view from the American and Japanese sides in World War 2. It is also an exploration of Japanese culture at an interesting time in their history. It covers how the Japanese lived, their culture, their work, routines, the hardships they face and much more. I really loved having bits of history weaved into the pages and the way it gave me a new insight. History and fiction meld seamlessly in this novel to deliver a captivating story.

Pages: 344 | ASIN: B083Q4WRPD

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Growing Up is a Tough Job

Daniel Boyd Author Interview

Daniel Boyd Author Interview

The Devil & Streak Wilson follows a man who sells his reflection to to the devil but finds the price was too high. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling supernatural western?

The Doppelganger or “Double-Walker” has been walking through folklore, literature, and movies since before the Bible, and it struck me as a natural for the Western. As I wrote it, the traditional Western characters — cowboys, lawmen, saloon gals, bounty hunters and even the town barber — seemed to respond to the notion in ways they don’t usually do, and I have to say it surprised me.

Steak Wilson is a fascinating and well developed character. What were some driving ideas behind his character development?

Growing up is a tough job, and not everybody gets it right. I remembered the confusion, hard lessons learned, and absurd fun of being just a little too young, and tried to put it into this guy. If I did it right, readers of all ages will relate to it.

The idea of selling one’s soul to the devil is captured in a unique way in your story. What were some themes you felt were important to explore in this book?

I haven’t had any use for God since I became a grown-up, but I’ve often wished there were a Devil; the character has given so much to literature and the arts, I thought it was time to take a whole new look at him. And I’ll say right now, if you know a young person in search of guidance, and you think Devil-Worship might be right for them… well, just let them read this and their parents, teachers, and clergy will never forget you for it.

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

A sequel, GONE TO GRAVEYARDS, is ready to go if this one sells well enough.

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads

The Devil & Streak Wilson by [Daniel Boyd]

A BARGAIN MADE IN HELL

THE KID THEY CALLED STREAK WILSON had a way with a gun, and he was tired of being treated like a boy.

THE DEVIL DIDN’T SEEM LIKE A BAD SORT and he offered a deal for Streak to live his dreams without losing his soul.

WITH MORE MONEY THAN HE COULD SPEND INA LIFETIME

Streak Wilson found himself framed as a horse thief, chased by bounty hunters, hounded by the Devil… And headed for a showdown with the deadliest killer in the territory—

THE MAN THEY CALLED STREAK WILSON!

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Kaya Abaniah and the Father of the Forest

Kaya Abaniah and the Father of the Forest by [Wayne Gerard Trotman]

Kaya lived the life of an ordinary 14 year old, dealing with family, school, bullies, and crushes. Until one day, after an unexplained fever, increasingly odd things began to happen. Suddenly it seemed like there was very little in Kaya’s life that was ordinary, especially after a near death experience on a school field trip. As the months passed, he was inundated with information and experiences straight out of science fiction, and with every new discovery came a new danger until Kaya had to learn how to protect himself and those that he loved, even as he questioned who he could trust. Nothing would ever be ordinary again.

This is the story for “Kaya Abaniah and the Father of the Forest” by Wayne Gerard Trotman. Set against the rich cultural landscape of Trinidad and Tobago, “Kaya Abaniah” weaves a tale that goes from zero to a hundred pretty darn quick and also keeps a solid narrative as it does so. Trotman describes the scenery vividly, making the depictions of local flora and fauna come to life, as well as incorporating various pieces of native folklore and legends. For Kaya, life in his small hometown of Coconut Grove was enriched by that nature and the stories of supernatural happenings. A personal experience with Papa Bois, the so called Father of the Forest and protector of all living things, opens the door for Kaya to an understanding that life is so much bigger than he ever could have imagined. Before long, multi-generational feuds, murder, witches, time travel, and multiple alien races are all things he is suddenly forced to understand and contend with. Even with everything going on, the book tends to flow very smoothly, and as the reader learns along with Kaya, new twists and turns continue to reveal themselves, very nearly to the end.

“Kaya Abaniah” is a cleverly written coming of age story, steeped in a science fiction skin. Even as Kaya begins to absorb lifetimes worth of knowledge, it is mentioned multiple times that his age prevents him from using his new skills with complete restraint. As a result, he is restricted from using them fully. Kaya struggles with uncertainty, lack of confidence, and bouts of elation much like any other early teen, but his struggle to come to terms with his identity is something much more unique. His emotional growth, as seen through his own eyes, invests the reader in his fate very early on.

It gets wild in the very best way, although at times the plot thickens to the point of being just a tad convoluted. The twists were well written and managed to be complete surprises, and overall it was a fantastic piece of science fiction.

Pages: 481 | ASIN: B00T1DFTL2

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Outbreak: The Dark Days Series

Outbreak (The Dark Days Series Book 1) by [Christopher Cole]

The first installment of Christopher Cole’s Outbreak: Dark Days series follows Sonny as he finds his preteen world turned upside down at the hands of a mysterious zombie outbreak that has sparked mass, sanctioned evacuations of families and individuals to military-run communes. Little does Sonny know that once his family and friends, neighbors Carrie and Ashley, depart from their New York state homes, their lives are set to change indefinitely as they battle outbreaks and learn tough lessons about growing up.

The flow is fast-paced, while still providing enough visual detail for the reader to follow each event and action. The characters are well-developed, even considering that the main protagonists, Sonny, Carrie, and Ashley, are all middle-school aged. It is easy to empathize with the many internal conflicts they are faced in the midst of difficult decisions, the most extreme being making choices that can lead to life or death. Readers can feel the deep humanity of each child, yet at the same time are gently reminded that all three are children who genuinely do not know everything, nor should be expected to. The bond the children share with each other is just as simple, yet poignant. It is a pleasure to witness the richness of the children’s character development and interpersonal bonds as they traverse through various trials.

The grammatical errors, however, were rampant throughout the book and at times were distracting from the plot and the action. Every couple pages had some kind of punctuation or use error; for instance, “your” when the contraction “you’re” was supposed to be used was a common error. I also saw a few spelling errors, but these were far less interspersed.

I love the plot of Outbreak: Dark Days, the doomsday theme is certainly relevant in 2020, with some elements such as quarantine being very relatable to many at present. In creating a rich range of emotions and thoughts in the trio of children, Cole invites readers to reflect on their sense of humanity and consider their own reactions to the different challenges that Sonny, Carrie, and Ashley encounter throughout the book. I recommend this book for readers of young adult age and up due to the use of adult language.

Pages: 213 | ASIN: B089CHBN2G

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22 Dutch Road

Billy Buchanan has a life that could be considered normal. Then he is called to the big ugly house of his late fathers, lured with the promise of money that he desperately needs. So he makes the trip to 22 Dutch Road. Only to arrive to an ostentatious lawn with odd statues ornamenting the house. He does not understand how his father could afford those statues. His dad may have conned food onto their table when he was a child but he had been broke at the end. Before the shock of the carvings wears off, he realizes that he can only get his money on Friday. So he must stays, and during his time at 22 Dutch Road something is speaking to him, maybe it’s the statues or maybe it’s his father. In any case, strange things are afoot.

There is something about meeting Billy and building a mental image of him that will keep you hooked. You will especially enjoy the part where a patron tells him a story of a man who used to separate people from their money. And the part where the neighbor asks to be paid for volunteering to mow the lawn. This book is chock full of light moments like that. This is despite the seriousness and intensity of the darkness that lurks in the big ugly house. This book will have you teetering on the edge with intrigue and despair on either side. The author’s brilliance shines through his expert blend of genres.

22 Dutch Road is emotionally engaging while consistently being entertaining. You will enjoy being plunged into this world of talking statues and mysterious paranormal phenomena. If ever there was a book worth taking the time to read word for word, this is it. The characters are rich and believable, developed slow, they were easily to relate to and empathize with. You can tell from the way the characters have been developed that time and thought were vastly spent. You will enjoy the amount of detail and dimension to the characters.

22 Dutch Road is a riveting novel that use a well deployed mystery to keep the tension high. The paragraphs are short enough such that the reader can enjoy and not be lost in a sea of words when they have been reading for long. This novel will delight fans of paranormal fiction with its artful use of language and superb character development.

Pages: 492 | ISBN:1678134821

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Marley: The Other Christmas Carol – Trailer

Doomed to wander for generation after generation, under the curse of heavy chains, Jacob Marley’s soul was lost and without hope with nothing of this earth that belonged to him except the cold fingers of the grave – to which he refused to retreat.Marley saves the soul of a dear friend and finds himself trapped between the realm of untapped power and endless damnation. Waiting and waiting, hoping to prove himself…WORTHY!

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