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Armageddon and Beyond – Trailer

The end of the world has arrived. Long prophesized by every human religion, the end of days crawls upon humanity in a chain of devastating events threatening to destroy the entire world. Armageddon. The last battle between God, Satan and all of their souls.

It began with the quest to unlock the final piece of the evolutionary process. Scientific exploration pushed the boundaries too far, prompting the birth of the being destined to lead us all to ruin. The Anti-Christ has returned upon the Earth: an unstoppable opposing force of death and destruction.

Billions will perish as the Seven Seals of the Apocalypse are broken. Over the course of twenty-seven thousand years the Earth will undergo massive change. Each time the broken survivors reform and rebuild the population, but it is a game that has an expiration date within the realms of energy.

A new world is dawning. One no one is prepared to endure. For to survive through the apocalypse is an exercise of horrors unimagined. Pain and suffering plague the pockets of humanity through unimaginable devastation. All are transformed in ways least expected. The final battle between Heaven and Hell has been a long time in coming. Now that it is here, neither side will back down until there is one ultimate victor.

The board is set. A brief period of peace arrives, but it is little more than a pause before the final dark storm sweeps across the world and undoes the very fabric of existence. Armies of light and darkness gather. Humanity’s remnants struggle to survive, some turning to faith to deliver them while others embrace their evil wickedness. The endgame is at last upon them and the outcome will determine the course of all eternity.

Armageddon and Beyond is a must read thriller that will keep you on edge until the last page is turned. It answers all of life’s big questions.

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The History of How Civilization Ended

Dave Matthes Author Interview
Dave Matthes Author Interview

Leave My Ashes on Blackheart Mountain is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a western, action, and science fiction as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?

-“Blackheart Mountain” is actually a prequel to a novella I wrote last year, titled “Mercy”, which was only supposed to be a one-shot story. “Mercy” was so well received that it got me thinking about writing more for the character of Mahoney. While writing “Mercy”, it started off as simply another run of the mill post-apocalypse story that I began writing out of trying something new, since I don’t really dabble too much in either genres of westerns, science fiction, or post-apocalypseness, but as with everything I write, and I’m sure as it happens with a lot of writers, the story and the subject nature just kind of evolve on its own. About halfway through finishing the first draft of “Blackheart Mountain”, I came up with a story for a third book, to take place after “Mercy”, and just before finishing “Blackheart Mountain”, I came up with an idea for another story for Mahoney. So there will most likely be four books total for Mahoney and the world he lives in.

I understand that you have an educational background in computer engineering, automotive science and criminal justice. Has your familiarity with these subjects helped you write your books?

Actually not at all. There isn’t a shred of my formal educational background that I can say helped with my writing career. I can say that many people I met in college influenced some of the characters I’ve written about, but that’s where it ends. Most of my research for the stories I write is done on my personal time.

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

There was a lot of time and research put into Native American history, Manifestation Destiny, and the historical figures having lived during that time period. In regards to the history and the foundation of the book “Blackheart Mountain” itself, I purposely didn’t go terribly in depth with the history of how the world “fell” in my book, because how the world ended is really not what the story is about, and it would just seem like unecessary info to detract from what was going on in the story. I wanted it to remain a mystery, something for the reader to wonder about while they’re reading, as it is literally said in the beginning that the populace largely doesn’t bother itself with the history of how civilization ended so much as it does with maintaining the will and the means to survive, because they can’t find a relation to the two concepts. The going philosophy in this world is that the ability to survive has no reliance on an understanding of how humanity got to where it currently is(and in a way, that kind of mirrors today’s world). With forming the image and the history of the Tuskatawa, a tribe of survivors claiming to be the direct, albeit long and far-off ancestors of the native americans who were massacred long ago and far away, I wanted to make sure their culture was as concrete and concise as possible, from their funeral processions and how they handled their dead to their food recipes, their stance on violence, and exceptions to their own Law. In the end, I took from the behaviorisms and cultures of several different tribes, combining them into one, as at the heart of the Tuskatawa is their combined bloodlines of every tribe to have existed in the past. I picked up a half dozen books on the history of native americans and spent a decent amount of time reading just to familiarize myself with where the Tuskatawa “came from”. The title “Leave My Ashes on Blackheart Mountain” is actually a spin on “Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee”. Being that this takes place two decades before “Mercy”, the only real challenge I had was making sure nothing spoken about in “Mercy” contradicted the events that are taking place in this new novel, particularly with the main characters Rancid Mahoney and Til Drange. I’ll have the same task when writing the next book in the series.

While editing writers often have to remove things they want to keep in but just can’t for various reasons. What was the hardest scene for you to cut from this book?

I actually didn’t cut anything, but rather added a few scenes and expansions to dialogue to flesh out the character development of Mahoney a little better. Very rarely will I ever cut out material while editing, unless it’s just that awful, or during the course of writing I decided to change something about a character later on in the story that would have to be supported by something that happened earlier on. Most of the time, the first draft ends up being a pretty bland, almost point for point blueprint, more than an actual cohesive story. I use the editing phase to sort of “fill in the blanks”, and oftentimes it feels as if the first draft I wrote is a movie or a book someone else created that I’m changing to make better in my eyes.

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“When the world ended, people eventually regained their footing, but that was a long time ago. We have come so far since then. We still have so much farther to go…”
Two decades before the bloodstained events of the novella “MERCY”, Rancid Mahoney is commissioned by Gunther Ostrander: purveyor of opportunity and Head Prospector of New Canterton, a mining settlement located in what was once, but long forgotten as, the heart of the American Northwest. Mahoney is tasked with scouring the land in an attempt to locate Blackheart Mountain: the source of “Blackvein”, the heavily romanticized miracle mineral rumored to be able to enhance the human body’s ability to heal, effectively defeating death itself. But time and time again, Mahoney returns empty handed to his reluctant employer.
On the heels of setting out on yet another venture to locate the Mountain, Ostrander orders Mahoney to first escort the prisoner Til Drange to the settlement of Vermouth not far to the north, so that he may face judgment for crimes committed against the eccentric Mayor Henry Kenroy. On the way to Vermouth, the two are interrupted by scouts of the Tuskatawa Tribe, an assemblage of people who believe the cataclysmic event which put an end to civilization long ago was a sign for their people that it is now the time to take back the land that was once theirs in the name of their native ancestors. To make matters worse, Mancino Rolandraz, the deranged leader of the savage Crimson Collar gang, is on his own quest for vengeance under the guise of what he believes to be the only purpose worth fighting for. Spearheading his campaign for “justice” is an obsessive hunger to kill Til Drange, and anyone else who gets in his way.
It swiftly comes to the realization of Mahoney that a new war is not only about to break out, but is impossible to prevent, one which he must decide whether or not to take part in, and if he does, which side to fight for.

A Diary in the Age of Water

A Diary in the Age of Water by [Nina Munteanu]

Nina Munteanu’s A Diary in the Age of Water follows the tale of Kyo, a blue four-legged creature in a post-climate-change world. Kyo is constantly plagued by dreams that appear to be experiences from a previous life. Constantly trying to find out the meaning of these dreams and where she fits in in this world and the one that existed before, Kyo spends a lot of the time at the library.

She consequently stumbles upon an ancient diary that holds illuminating revelations and heart-filled messages. As she goes through it and is immersed in its author’s experiences, we come to understand the circumstances that led to the climate change led apocalypse.

With a lot of scientific terms, explanations, and even drawings, the plot is quite believable, and can even be a little scary. The fact that Nina goes as far as mentioning our current world governments and how they contribute to this now desolate world is eerie, to say the least.

As a reader, part of me even begins to think that this could truly be our earth’s fate, giving me serious jitters. Now I may just be gullible but this book is quite convincing. Clearly, the author did a lot of scientific research before writing it. She dives deep into the science and various spiritual beliefs that support the inevitability of an apocalypse. As far as science fiction goes, this one is quite believable.

Moreover, the character development is quite strong, leaving us with a deep understanding of characters like Lynna and Hilde. The use of storytelling through different timelines is also quite an efficient way of weaving all the details of the story together.

Ultimately, this story is extremely detailed and well thought out. However, the many scientific paragraphs, even though drenched in poetry, can make it difficult to read, especially for those without a proclivity for science.

While bringing attention to the current politicization of climate change, the story maintains  important underlying themes like family, love, forgiveness, and the complexity of the human soul. The author has gone to great lengths to show that there are different layers to each character, none fully evil nor fully good. A Diary in the Age of Water is an exceptional and thought-provoking dystopian fiction.

Pages: 301 | ASIN: B08D6YDVVK

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In This Dark Zombie Wasteland

Christopher Cole
Christopher Cole Author Interview

Outbreak follows a group of friends trying to find a safe home in a zombie wasteland. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?

I think it was a combination of different stories, but the main inspiration for this story is the same inspiration that made me start writing – a book called Everlost by Neal Shusterman. It was an amazing story of this boy and this girl trying to survive in a mysterious limbo world while seeking personal answers. The book pulled me in and I was developing the spark that would later ignite the writer in me. I started writing and re-writing while brainstorming what works and what doesn’t.

Sonny, Ashley and Carrie are all well-developed characters. What were some ideas that guided the groups development and relationship?

I looked and analyzed stories that weren’t just good, but great and why they were great stories. I looked for what made characters likable. Likable characters are ones that readers care about. They want good things for them and feel the intensity when they are in danger. In this dark zombie wasteland, it’s easy to lose humanity and resort to savagery. So, the idea that kids so young are not only fighting for their own survival but are fighting for their humanity. The way it is, if you have something you care about, then fight for it. Just like these three, Sonny, Ashley and Carrie fight for each other.

This novel did a great job of exploring friendships and connections between people. What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Some of the themes that were important to explore in this book were figuring what to let go and what to hold on to. In a way, that’s part of growing up but the dark side in the book is in a zombie wasteland, children have to grow up faster. So, letting go of childish things like the joys of just being a kid for their own survival is something Sonny and the girls had to figure out and decide. The things they hold on to were things like love, friendship, courage, kindness, and the fire that keeps them alive inside are important because in certain environments like this, it’s almost all they have left.

This is book one in your Dark Days series. What can readers expect in book two?

In book two, readers can expect different things and familiar things. Without giving spoilers, the main character Sonny finds someone who has suffered loss in a severe way that most people can’t recover from. He helps her and in a way, it helps him be part of her family.

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Cities are bombed out ruins and wilderness is humanity’s new home. The undead roam the earth, and the new world order is about the struggle to survive. Sonny Daniels begins an emotional and physical journey of personal survival and protecting those he loves.

While survival is a constant struggle, Sonny’s most desperate fight is the struggle preserve some semblance of a compassionate soul. Sonny and his parents are caught in the zombie outbreak in upstate New York. After the passage of the first year, their base is attacked by bandits and their safety has again been compromised. Fearing for their loved ones, Sonny’s parents send him and his orphaned childhood friends, Ashley and Carrie, to Fort Denver Colorado on a military plane.

When Fort Denver is overrun with zombies, the three are alone in a zombie-infested wasteland without the army’s protection, forced to rely upon one another and a handful of equally desperate survivors they encounter along the journey. Sonny is determined to do whatever it takes to protect Ashley and Carrie while finding a safe place to call home, but survival can force you to make dark decisions.

Liberty Bound

Liberty Bound by [Nathaniel M Wrey]

Liberty Bound by Nathaniel M. Wrey is a novel set thousands of years in the future from our present day, where a small city, Athenia, remains as the last known beacon of civilization. Finbarl is the main character, and he works to protect the city from the threat of Ferrals, a supposed sub-human race of creatures that seek to destroy the city, if they could ever breach the walls. Inside the city, Finbarl and the other soldiers addictively rely on the Jumblar plant to keep them sharp and ready for the threat.

The novel certainly brims with creativity, which stands in contrast with the rigid system that the characters live with in their lonesome city. There are many varied issues with class and social standing, and Liberty Bound seeks to create meaningful commentary regarding them. The author has developed a fascinating arrangement of a post apocalyptic civilization and tries to use these societal systems to bring about a provocative purpose for their existence in terms of the story told.

However, the story excels within Finbarl’s decisions and the consequences of those choices. He eventually finds himself at odds with the society he has worked so hard to become a part of, and he must decide what he is going to do once he is no longer able to remain within the social structure provided by the city. Will Finbarl find a way to re-enter the good standing in his society, or will he strive to make bigger changes to the city and the people within it? The question was clear throughout the story and I enjoyed watching Finbarl’s evolution as the novel progressed. I could empathize with his character and that connection made the novel thrilling.

All the while, the threat of the Ferral remains, putting pressure on every character, making every decision carry much more weight. The story thrives on this tension, and it makes the pages very easy to turn.

Pages: 227 | ASIN: B087YXKKT3

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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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Challenges Of The Gods

Challenges of the Gods: One Parallel Earth Too Many by [C. Hofsetz]

Fresh from a harrowing heartbreak, Zeon wakes up in what appears to be heaven. While he’s still trying to process the picturesque surrounding, he’s snatched by a flying alien and made to watch earth get destroyed. He soon discovers that what he saw was one of the numerous “earths” imploding. Now, he has a mission to prevent his planet from suffering the same fate. All he has to do is destroy another earth to preserve his. But this happens to be Mike’s home and he also has been tasked to save it by destroying Zeon’s universe. To help both men accomplish their mission, the messengers of the gods swap their consciousness and plant each as a mole on the other’s earth. It’s now a race against time to see who can save his planet. But who is the true enemy here? Is there more to this mission than meets the eye? Which earth will survive?

Hofsetz’s Challenges of the Gods is a sci-fi novel that cuts across three worlds: earth as we know it, another version of earth and a surreal world called Pangea. Hofsetz stretches our imagination as he paints vivid pictures of Pangea’s outlandish reality and points our attention to the peculiarities of the other earth. I mean, imagine an earth where the shaking of the head indicates an interest in casual sex. That’s Hofsetz’s other earth.

Hofsetz’s weaves every detail of fiction together to deliver his themes strikingly. Chief amongst his ideas is how man’s blind loyalty can cause him to abdicate his senses. According to Hofsetz, we can easily be manipulated when we believe the other party is too good to do evil.

Furthermore, Hofsetz highlights man’s disposition to conflict and his ability to empathize with even the enemy. It is this trait that distinguishes (normal) man from a bloodthirsty maniac. He also touches on betrayal (we have quite the knack for that, don’t we?) and its far-reaching effects on the victims.

Speaking of victims, it’s a miracle Hofsetz’s penetrating sense of humour did not literally crack my ribs. The main character’s knack for silly thoughts, conversations between the characters and the culture of Hofsetz’s earth (Jora) all filled the book with hilarious moments. Hofsetz also did well to catch me unawares with some shocking plot twists.

If you’re a fan of sci-fi and a reader who needs something to help you wind down, Hofsetz’s book should do a great job.

Pages: 269 | ASIN: B07KNCXDSX

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Leave My Ashes On Blackheart Mountain

Leave My Ashes on Blackheart Mountain by [Dave Matthes]

When your work is savage and your world is cruel, it’s hard to find your heart. Mahoney knows this better than anyone. He lives in a world that was burned to the ground many years ago, and he knows nothing but cold, hard truth and scavenging his way through life. With the love of his life waiting behind hoping for his safe return, Mahoney is dispatched on a mission to deliver a prisoner for execution. Not one to be left in the dark, Mahoney finds himself struggling to figure out how he has arrived on the legendary Blackheart Mountain. What should have been his opportunity to hand over the one thing everyone around him wants most, may just turn into the moment that changes his life.

Leave My Ashes on Blackheart Mountain, by Dave Matthes, is the thought-provoking tale of Mahoney, an outlaw of sorts who has made his home working for the powerful but evil Gunther Ostrander. Mahoney, by and large a loner, is accustomed to taking care of things his own way. Living in the remnants of a world he never really knew, he often uses violence as his go-to with little remorse.

I was immediately taken with the setting of Matthes’s book. This post-apocalyptic scene is striking in that it mimics the feel of the Old West in both character and setting. From the brief mentions by characters of modern times gone by to the hints of modern technology, readers are taken on quite a visual thrill ride as they try to piece together each scene. I am not a fan of westerns, but this particular book is so much more and carries readers on a captivating journey into the author’s imagination.

The notion of an almost mythical Blackheart Mountain and the ways in which it impacts the main character are fascinating to read. I am a huge believer in drastic changes as a character is developed throughout a story, and Matthes succeeds in carrying Mahoney through some major challenges to mold a character not to be forgotten. From his kindness and almost subdued nature with Cassandra to his quiet viciousness when threatened to his experiences among the Tuskatawan people, Mahoney takes shape before our eyes, and his spirit is almost palpable.

I highly recommend Matthes’s unique tale to anyone who enjoys westerns and modern takes on the genre. I think readers will be pleasantly surprised at how well the mix of action meshes with the tender character development that takes place throughout Matthes’s gripping novel.

Pages: 350 | ASIN: B086TZ41WX

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