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No Pistol Tastes the Same

Sgt. Grimm (J.P) opts to serve his country. Away from his family, he takes solace in the camaraderie of his fellow Marines, including Joey, his best friend. But it all goes wrong when Grimm loses his friend and other men he could have saved if he had acted faster. The patriotic soldier later returns from the war into the arms of his wife, son, and grandparents. But burdened by guilt and haunted by the bombs, blood, and deaths from the war, Grimm is not the same man he was when he left home. And his new demons threaten to tear apart everything and everyone he calls home. The question is, will he let them?

Although its curious title doesn’t give this away, No Pistol Tastes The Same is a gripping novel on post-traumatic stress disorder among veterans. It peels away the layers of unfamiliarity and reveals the deeply disturbing and lingering effects war has on the minds and lives of those who fight in it.

This story reminds me of why storytelling is a powerful tool to evoke empathy. Author Jacob Paul Patchen’s writing successfully transports readers into his main character’s reality, making an unfamiliar situation seem like a shared reality. Patchen is also great with imagery as he improves the reading experience with evocative descriptions of settings.

The story is delivered with the elegance and precision of a true wordsmith. Make no mistake, there aren’t flowery words or unclear metaphors. Instead, readers feel the total weight of a narrative cobbled with tools whose sophistication is in their cultured simplicity. The writing is so good that it strikes the heart where it matters in many places, ensuring that you feel the raw emotions being communicated. Altogether, the story is free-flowing, mainly punctuated by the moments of reflection and concern it triggers.

No Pistol Tastes the Same is a captivating war novel dealing with life after returning from war. The plot is pretty straightforward but excellently executed. The characters are relatable and make readers care about this remarkable story.

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Powerless

Powerless is a well-written and gritty take on small town life after a major disaster. Kevin Barton and his family live on the outskirts of Harpursville, a hamlet in rural New York. When a major blackout wipes out communication and modern electrical conveniences, the townsfolk must come together to survive. Most of the story takes place in the Barton’s household, where Kevin must transition from administrator to farmer. His wife, Monica, takes on the role of hunter and quartermaster as she minds their ever-dwindling supplies. Their daughter Kelly, and her stranded friend, Dina, try to cope with being teenagers while living through a minor apocalypse.

Powerless is a very realistic take on a prolonged state of emergency. While it is not nearly as dire or hard to digest as Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road,” (which gets a brief mention), and there are no post-apocalyptic monsters or zombies, the author covers actual threats, like lack of food, water, medicine, and the mixed intentions of other people, which makes this story feel much more grounded.

I find it refreshing that Kevin is an ill-equipped modern day everyman, more suited for desk work than living off the land. He’s not a man “with a certain set of skills” or a former special forces soldier. He’s just an average forty-year-old man who is lucky enough to live next door to a working farm in a time of crisis.

The theme of “power,” who has it, and who does not, is explored throughout the novel. Characters who find themselves powerless in the new world develop new skills to survive, some for the better, some worse. As supplies run out the idea of “neighbors helping neighbors” becomes more of a veiled menace than cheery mantra. Coming on the heels of a global pandemic, what once would seem like a survival fantasy story feels very real and very possible at this time in history.

Powerless is a riveting post-apocalyptic novel that plays with being a psychological thriller as well as a compelling character study.

Pages: 370 | ASIN: B09TX9P62R

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Threatened By An Advanced Race

Michael J. Farlow Author Interview

Dark Enemy follows the Earth’s space force leader as he tries to unify the allied forces while fighting politicians back on Earth. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

The idea for the start of the series was the question: What would you do if you learned that the Earth was threatened by an advanced race while at the same time finding a source of advanced technology? Add that the person finding this out was at a point in his life when he was seeking simplicity.

Did you create an outline for the characters in the story before you started writing, or did the characters’ personalities grow organically as you were writing?

I had an idea about the main character, Van Childs, but the rest introduced themselves over time. In fact, the characters dictated the story. I planned to stop at the third book, but the characters said no and took me to a fifth, Dark Enemy.

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

The reluctance of Van Childs to get involved. The lack of the technical skills on Earth to reproduce the technology of the Host in a timely manner. And the fight of greed over the need to survive.

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

The next book is called Crucible and is the beginning of a new series called Records of the Argos. Crucible is available now. After that will come Retribution which will be available in July or August of 2022.

Author Links: Amazon | Website | Facebook

Dark Enemy, Book 5 in the Host Saga, is a fast-paced, action-packed science fiction story that features a phenomenal inter-galactic conflict and great characters. The Van Childs who reluctantly became a beacon of hope for the people of Earth early in the series has changed. He is now a man who is sure of himself and knows that his responsibilities. Now that there is a bigger threat than ever from the Arkon, he knows the pressure is on him ten-fold. Is he going to make this work? Can he handle the responsibility of humanity’s survival? Read and see!

Age of Magnus (New Era 3) Book Three Keepers of the Rain

In his latest book Age of Magnus: Keepers of the Rain, David Crane continues telling the story of Magnus, an all-powerful Artificial Intelligence that, after a nuclear holocaust that destroyed human civilization, took into his hands the job of building a new world with a strict set of rules that would end human corruption once and for all. The book explores the state of Magnus’ world after 1,000 years of his reign: a sort of ‘human paradise’ that even extends beyond death with the help of virtual reality. The power that Magnus possesses is all-encompassing. He is, essentially, the god of humanity: he sees it all, takes care of everything, and ensures that the law and humanity are protected at all costs.

Narrated from Magnus’ perspective, the story is incredibly engaging as we get to see from the eyes of the most advanced supercomputer what humanity looks like and the plans he has for it. Magnus directly takes the role of God, and he’s worshiped by many all around the world as one. Humans seem to live in a perfect world, letting Magnus take care of the worst events on his own with the help of his self-made army of machines. However, the peace of the world has a very delicate balance that might be broken by the greed of a few. Challenging Magnus’ authority, the Global Human Resistance plans an insurrection with the ultimate goal of restoring the power of humans and getting rid of the rule of the machines. This sets the stage for what could be the biggest conflict between humans and machines in a final world war to restore and impose the peace of humanity.

The character of Magnus is an interesting and conflicting one. His thought process is simply fascinating all throughout the book. Even though he builds a paradise on Earth for humanity, this comes with one price: all humans must submit to his rule. However, this is not necessarily as terrifying as it sounds; Magnus is reasonable and sees himself as the father of humanity. He’s just trying to protect humans from their self-destructive impulses, building a better future for all. But this begs the question: Should the destiny of humanity be in the hands of a cybernetic entity? Should he have the power to function as judge, jury, and executioner?

The plot is realistic and showcases the human spirit, building two opposing groups: the machine worshipers and the machine haters. The conflict between the humans and the machines is always present, keeping the plot’s intrigue. As ruler of the whole world, Magnus always has to attend something, be it sabotaging the rebels’ plans or taking care of extremists on his own side. This makes the story very dynamic since the plot is always moving. With time, the readers themselves will have to question which side to support: the heaven of Magnus or the imperfect reality that comes with humanity.

Age of Magnus Book Three: Keepers of the Rain is a brilliant science-fiction book that will force the readers to constantly think about the future of humanity and the role that artificial intelligence should have in it.

Pages: 401 | ASIN : B09R91W7XH

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Wrath of Justice

Wrath of Justice by author Denna Holm dives into a bleak future where many people sacrifice nearly everything they have just to survive. It’s a world where food is limited, and raising a family isn’t an option for most people in a global wasteland. As a result, many parents make the difficult decision to sell one or more children, or make a deal with demons, to secure a better chance in life. For some, an adventurous, dangerous path is the ticket to salvation.

If you’re looking for an exciting indulgence, Wrath of Justice will keep you engaged from the very start. The story centers around Justice, who finds himself sold to a run-down brothel, where he’s destined to exist among the most brutal layer of society. His only chance of escape is an offer from a hunter, where he faces a new level of darkness. However, he finds a glimmer of hope and love throughout his journey between demons and debauchery.

This story weaves through the layers of a futuristic, post-apocalyptic world that offers more beneath the surface, with more significant risks, facing demons, and a thirst for basic survival. Justice learns more than he bargains for, and his life takes unexpected turns when he joins forces with Michael Santos. The characters are well developed and captivating, weaving a thrilling narrative through a dark future with a few plots twists. I enjoyed the pace and vibrant contrast of witches, demons, and brave characters weaving through a dreary landscape with lots of surprises.

Wrath of Justice is a thrilling novel that combines paranormal romance with action and suspense. This engaging book moves along quickly, with lots of steamy tension and unexpected turns, so readers will want to keep going to see what happens next. Overall this is a well-crafted and exciting story.

Pages: 379 | ASIN : B09PWLCMC8

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VAMPIRE’S DAY: EPICENTER

VAMPIRE’S DAY: EPICENTER: Epic horror full of vampire madness. Walking Dead meets Call of Duty. Vampire sun has risen (VAMPIRE'S DAY Book 1) by [YURI HAMAGANOV]

Book 1 of Yuri Hamaganov’s Vampire’s Day series is a tumultuous and chaotic exploration of a mass vampire attack on both the government and the military, but mostly on the city of Los Angeles. It is a violent, no-holds-barred thrill ride into all the different nuances of the attack, from all possible sides involved. The story begins on an otherwise typical morning in Los Angeles, where at the LAX airport Flight 263 lands, bringing with it violence, shootings, and what most believe to be an organized terrorist attack. The true horror that this attack unveils over the course of the narrative involves no terrorists, and instead the reader learns that this attack has been methodically planned for years as a way for the vampires to assert absolute control over the city.

The reader gets thrown into the action in this faced paced vampire thriller making this an intense read from start to finish. The reader gets to see  different perspectives of the characters in the story making them more relatable. At times I wasn’t sure what new perspective I was reading from because there are a lot of characters in the story but this didn’t take away from my overall enjoyment of the story. In a post apocalyptic world fighting for survival you don’t have time to take a deep dive into someone’s life, but maybe book 2 will have more character development.

Hamaganov’s world building and descriptions are deep and detailed and serve to create an immersive atmosphere. The reader is able to clearly visualize what the character’s are doing and what their surroundings look like. I found the gun and armor talk to be interesting as I know nothing about weapons and Hamaganov’s extensive knowledge is impressive—at times it was almost as if I was reading a military artillery manual.

Vampire’s Day is a suspenseful horror with blood and action galore. Fans of fast paced and hard hitting action will have plenty to devour in this sensational apocalyptic adventure.

Pages: 311 | ASIN: B07X1G58PJ

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That SOB Deserved That!

Gary Hickman
Gary Hickman Author Interview

The Light Reapers follows an elite team on a mission to rescue a scientist while battling hordes of zombies. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I initially wrote the story during COVID and I was thinking about how the zombies were created. As I thought through different options, the media kept saying CORONA Virus and that stuck with me. For my first book, I wanted to write something that I was familiar with but also wanted to have fun with it. I have always loved zombies since I first saw Dawn of the Dead (the original). Zombies and the military seemed like a good combination. I mean, plenty of people had done it before successfully, so why not me? There are actually quite a few events in the book that were based on real life. The fighting, the tactics used, the interactions between some of the characters all had a significant influence on what I wrote. There are a few of the characters who are based on real people I served with. I obviously removed the enemies and put in the infected, changed the names and locations due to counterintelligence reasons, but most were still based on truth.

This seemed like a fun book to write. What scene in the story did you have the most fun writing?

Chapter 19, the scene with Randy. I didn’t like writing the situation so much, but the end result I had quite a bit of pleasure writing. Something in most books that aggrivates me is the vilan causes all this pain and suffering only to be shot dead to fall off a building. I wanted there to be some moments in the book where people said, “Yeah!”, that SOB deserved that!

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

Brotherhood of the soldiers. Acceptance of the others whowere not originally part of the team. Retribution on those who chose to do evil, even though the apocalypse was on them. Just shows some people’s true character. I wanted to show that even though there lies no obligation to people, they stucktogetherand made a life as best they could.

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

I am working on the sequel to The Light Reapers, this one is “The Light Reapers: Fight for a New Beginning”. The book is about 80% complete as far as writing. Then comes the editing. I could have done much better on the editing of the first book, so I am hiring a professional to edit the second book.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

The Light Reapers are a Special Operations Unit who had served numerous campaigns together. They were an expertly trained and elite group, but could they ever prepare for what was to happen next.
Under a shroud of darkness and maliciousness, a viral weapon was being produced by an alliance of terrorists bent on the destruction of their respective enemies. When double-crossed by an ISIS faction, the viral weapon is stolen and prematurely unleashed on the planet.
Now facing a worldwide epidemic, The Light Reapers are deployed to rescue a scientist who may be able to develop an antidote. If that wasn’t difficult enough, they also must track down the ISIS faction and eliminate them. All while battling hordes of the infected.

The Light Reapers

The Light Reapers: End of the World by [Gary Hickman]

Media about zombies always seem to fall between two categories. You have the slow-and-somber kind like Max Brooks’ World War Z and George A. Romero’s Day of the Dead, and then you have the guts-and-gore kind like the video game Dead Rising and Stuart Gordon’s Eaten Alive

Before opening this book, I didn’t know which category Gary Hickman’s The Light Reapers: End of the World falls under. I didn’t even know this was a zombie novel at all. But by the time I closed it I was glad it was the latter. From page one, blood and viscera start flying out of the page, and it hardly ever stops to give you a chance to catch your breath. 

It tells the story of the titular Light Reapers, a special operations unit with members that will annihilate anything that steps in their way. Everything goes south when they infiltrate a terrorist lab where a mysterious bioweapon is being created. Prior to the mission, they have little to no information about the lab or the weapon. The mission was supposed to be simple: “make it to the lab area, assess the situation, infiltrate the facility, secure the formula and any other intel, then exfil.” What they find is anything but. Now the virus is unleashed on the planet, driving the whole world into darkness and chaos. 

As crazy as the synopsis may sound, Hickman chose to ground the story in reality with references to real-world events. Still, that doesn’t make it any less imaginative and entertaining. The moments of extreme gore sometimes happen so suddenly with such detailed descriptions that they border on cartoonish. Still, like the obviously fake blood in early Romero films, that’s the beauty of it. The thought of the world’s population turning into a mindless undead horde is a tad depressing, so you got to have a ton of fun to balance it out. And by “fun,” I mean blowing-chunks-off-a-zombie’s-torso kind of fun. 

Now that you’re reading this review, it may be too late to say that the best way to experience The Light Reapers: End of the World is to go in blind. Walk in thinking you’re about to read a war novel, then come out with a new zombie book instead. But at the end of the day, it’s a bloody good time, and gorehounds will surely lap it up.

Pages: 303 | ASIN: B0945G5MMQ

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