Blog Archives

When Secrets Come to Light

When a couple of old friends reunite at a friend’s funeral after about 50 years apart, curiosity gets the better of them. So they agree on monthly meetups to catch up and reconnect, but things go differently than planned right from the first scheduled card game. Proceedings at the meetup threaten to unearth long-buried secrets, and each man finds himself faced with the uncomfortable need to confront their choices, pains, and secrets. Will these men face the truth about themselves or be consumed while trying to hide their failures and pains?

George R. Hopkins’ When Secrets Come to Light is a gripping novel that delves into a mystery with a tinge of the supernatural. It’s not some outright spooky deal; instead, it probes figments of the mysterious such as visions, miracles, and more that color everyday life. It’s stripped down, but not in an underwhelming way, in a clean, free-flowing manner that keeps the story skipping along yet remarkable enough to evoke images. One of my favorite writers says telling great stories requires you to withhold information strategically. Hopkins uses a deliberate build-up that ends in questions that will keep you turning the pages. I also like how the plot unfolds in the most unassuming way. One minute a couple of 70-year-olds are meeting for a card game, and before you know it, things begin to spiral. Hopkins also knows how to peel away the layers from his characters, revealing the elements that make them human and, thus, easy to resonate with.

When Secrets Come to Light: A novel of love and tangled friendships is a captivating psychological thriller that is easy to follow and makes for a quick and refreshing read. Readers will be hooked from the beginning of the friends’ story to the end as one unexpected event after another consumes the pages.

Pages 307 | ASIN : B09X4TDSJB

Buy Now From B&N.com

The Language of Dreams

The Language of Dreams is the debut novel by Marion Ehrenberg and follows the growing relationship between a psychologist and her troubled patient. The book is split between two main characters. Firstly we have Clare, a troubled young woman who is haunted by the death of her mother at a young age. At the beginning of the book, Clare has landed herself in hot water. She has a penchant for taking things that don’t belong to her and now she finds herself in court-mandated therapy. If it doesn’t go well she’s looking at community service or worse.

On the other hand, we have Avery. She is a seasoned psychologist who, at first, seems to have everything figured out. She’s wealthy, successful, and has a loving husband. However, she too is haunted by losses from her childhood. All Avery wants from life is a child, and that is the one thing in life that it seems she can’t have.

Clare is closed off and aggressive towards Avery at the beginning of the book, but mutual respect and affection soon blossoms between the two. As Clare comes to depend on Avery more and more, Avery feels the traditional lines between therapist and patient blurring. Soon it’s not just Clare’s mental health that Avery has to focus on, but her own too.

The Language of Dreams excels at creating and building the emotional and complex relationship between psychologist and patient. The author is a therapist by trade and her experience colors this entire novel and lends it an air of authenticity. Marion Ehrenberg has crafted captivating characters that feel real. This is a character driven story that focuses on human connection and how we deal with our past.

While I enjoyed the story, I would have enjoyed it if the mystery at the heart of story was a bit more shrouded as I feel this would have given the reveal at the end of the story more impact. Is the ending the result of fate or coincidence? This is left up to the reader to decide.

The Language of Dreams is a fantastic read that provokes self-reflection in readers. This is a light mystery story that focuses on the compelling characters, their evolution and their intriguing relationship.

Buy Now From Amazon

Hope and Love

M.J. Jones Author Interview

Black Star is a thought-provoking and spellbinding story that I enjoyed immensely. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

My inspiration for Black Star was my daughter and a recurring dream that I had about her for a week when I was on furlough from work. When I told her about the dream she said, “Mommy, that dream is better than some of the movies we’ve seen…” I wondered if she was right. Yet, my dream was so real; so intense and profound, that I could not stop thinking about it. She had no idea at the time, but I had secretly scribbled down what I could recall of the dream. As she went on and on about how I should make a comic book or a graphic novel, I sheepishly showed her my scribbles and she said, “Mom, are you crazy? No one can read your handwriting! Maybe you should type it up, and–here’s an idea–write a real book so everyone can actually read what you wrote,” while grabbing my crinkled papers and throwing them in jest! I was like, “No one is going to read or even care about my book…” But I was wrong.

For many years, I lost the passion and drive that I had for writing. I lost the spark. But the dream reignited the part of me that I thought had died just like a Black Star; a Supernova! No matter how much the light dimmed, it would return, brighter and brighter. This dream spawned the Black Star Trilogy: an imaginative, alternative reality that has one underlying theme: Hope and Love. It triumphs even over the darkest days. Becoming an Indie author has probably been one of the hardest things that I have done in my life, besides raising my child alone. She pushed me to follow my dream and to become what I was meant to be: a writer. She inspires me to never give up, even when I have wanted to quit. Art imitates life and she is truly my very own little “Ashe.”

Ashe is an intriguing character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Ashe is brilliant but naïve, full of hope but at the same time is a teenager dealing with the struggles of finding her own way in life while still holding on to the ideals ingrained in Ashe by her mother. One of the philosophies that she holds dear is, “Everyone is special and everyone deserves love and respect.” Easily said, but not easily implemented in real life. Her mother Mia works on the premise that one of our greatest purposes is to uplift future generations. All of these beliefs color who Ashe is. She is indeed a pop culture, K-Pop, BTS-loving, kind, and sympathetic child who grows into such a beautiful reflection of qualities inherently passed on to her from Mia.

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

This book deals with profound loss, mental health, insecurities, and growth; yet it stays true to the undying spirit of humanity through a mother’s love. Mia embodies hope while Ashe embodies the future, all with the backdrop of science fiction. I wanted to write a story about people becoming everyday heroes and defying the odds; Becoming a Black Star. The characters encounter real-life consequences never experienced before in their world. We send our children out into this world and hope that they remember and apply the things we have taught them. Yet, what happens when our children become the evil that we have spent a lifetime shielding them from? Mia taught Ashton that it is selfish to only think about one’s own impact on society. We are responsible for the decisions that our children make and in turn the people they ultimately become. Therefore, this book attempts to balance the struggles of parents while at the same time educating children to be leaders, while still staying true to the lore of comic books, and fantasy, all rolled up into a fantastic tale of hope.

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

I am actually working on finalizing the last book of the trilogy. The second installment of the Black Star Trilogy, Black Star Eclipsed, which continues following this epic saga with Ashton and her mother Mia is available on all major platforms in eBook and printed form.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

In this psychological sci-fi thriller, a single mother discovers that her daughter has disappeared without a trace. Was she to blame for her daughter’s disappearance? Did she hold on too tight? As she searches for the truth, her past and sanity collide. Can she take back control of her life, and find her daughter, before it’s too late, or will she too, become a mindless drone? Follow Mia Black in this alternate reality, where things are not quite a mirror image of our world.

A Black Star is a supernova… an exploding star. Some people believe that when it dies, it disappears. Yet in reality, it shines through the darkness…just like Mia Black.

Lifeline to Marionette

Lifeline to Marionette, by Jennifer Waitte, is the intriguing and emotional story of the runway model Michelle Seiko and her journey through her struggles with loneliness, being controlled, and trying to be perfect for everyone. Then, on a trip to Aspen, she unexpectedly finds love and begins her journey to break free and begin the healing process.  

Waitte has written a compelling and powerful novel filled with vivid descriptions, and I was immersed in Marionette’s world. There was much exploration of the characters and their background, and I had a good understanding of everyone’s intentions. There are some characters I was not so fond of, which speaks volumes about Waitte’s writing to stir strong emotions in a reader. I sympathized with Marionette as she had to put up a cover to make it seem like she was happy when she was not. I found her character intriguing and wanted to know more about her, but I mainly wanted to see if she would find happiness in the end.

I found it exciting and Unique that the author added inspiring quotes at the beginning of the book. These quotes not only inspire the main character but will also inspire the reader. The friendship dynamics in the novel are also unconventional, showing the reader that friends should be a support system rather than a destructive influence in your life. The author uses sensitivity when discussing topics that can trigger others, such as drug use, overdose, eating disorders, and suicide which might be difficult for some to read this book. The plot is unpredictable, and I couldn’t put the book down. There is romance sprinkled throughout the story, and readers will fall in love with Jason’s character.

Lifeline to Marionette is a story of drama, control, and breaking free to find one’s self. It is a must-read psychological thriller.

Pages: 290 | ASIN : B08D6YN2Z5

Buy Now From Amazon

Black Star Eclipsed

Ashe and her mother, Mia, are still recovering from Ashe’s kidnapping. It’s been a long, difficult road with many twists and turns, not to mention secrets. A lot of things have gone unsaid by Mia, and for very good reasons. Ashe is quickly growing older, and her maturity is obvious in everything she does. When Ashe corners her uncle Jason and tells him that her plans for college are different from her mother’s, things begin to change for all of them. Mia struggles to face the fact she will, again, be separated from her daughter, This time, however, their separation will follow the most harrowing experience of their lives.

Black Star Eclipsed, by M.J. Jones, continues the compelling story of Mia and her daughter Ashe. Their lives are nothing short of amazing. For as much as they appear to be a typical single mother and daughter team, they are far beyond that in dozens of ways. Jones has succeeded in further developing this pair into an even stronger and more stunning set of characters. Furthering the story, Jones has added incredibly in-depth backstories and strong characters in both Jason and his wife Kierra. For seemingly secondary characters, the two are well-drawn and pull readers into the plot fairly quickly in the first chapter.

After reading the first installment in Jones’s Black Star series, I was prepared for a little more action right out of the gate. The first book featuring Mia and Ashe hit hard in the first chapters with suspenseful moments right off the bat. This follow-up story offers a lot in the way of background information, allowing both readers and Ashe to learn more about her father. Though I appreciated the attention and time given to catching readers up on the previous book and the backstories, I would like to have seen more suspense and intrigue to kick off this installment.

The dynamic between characters is a huge part of Jones’s writing. I especially enjoyed the interactions between Mia and her sister-in-law Kierra. Their exchanges are always spirited and easily relatable. For a novel that is steeped in elements of science fiction, it is nice to see characters with genuine emotions and typical relationships.

Black Star Eclipsed is engaging, psychological science fiction. The storyline is well-developed, and the characters are relatable. The overall story took a little longer to get off the ground than I would have preferred. I recommend this series to anyone who wants to explore an especially unique take on the science fiction novel.

Pages: 452 | ASIN : B09ZYQP2ZD

Buy Now From Amazon

Black Star

Ashe is young. She is smart. She is going places and doing great things. But Ashe is scared and has every right to be. In her area, young girls her age are going missing at an alarming rate, and no one seems to be taking the situation seriously. When she finds out she has been nominated to participate in AmeriCorps National Service Program, she is ecstatic. Her mother is a former member, and that only makes the opportunity sweeter. Ashe has what it takes to be an asset to the program, but she can’t seem to shake the fear that being away from her mother may lead her down a dark road.

Black Star, by M.J. Jones, addresses many tough and timely topics including human trafficking and racism. Jones’s main character, Ashe, is both mature and caring. She gives everything she has to the betterment and protection of others. Jones spends a great deal of time in the first chapters developing her character and drawing readers toward her. While she is portrayed as socially conscious, Ashe is also the typical teenager with interests in music and pop culture. This makes her a grounded and authentic character that is easy to empathize with.

I was honestly taken aback at the turn events took early on in Jones’s novel. I had some expectations going into the book after reading the early conversations between Ashe and her mother Mia. To say I was stunned at the sudden shift is an understatement. Jones has given readers the ideal introduction to her main characters right before plunging into the heart of the plot. I truly did not anticipate Ashe and Mia’s storyline spinning toward the science fiction genre, but Jones has managed this twist masterfully.

Not usually drawn to books written in the present tense, I was, at first, put off by Jones’s choice to present her narrative in this way. After a few chapters, however, I completely forgot any misgivings, and I realized that seeing the story in what amounts to real-time gives readers an even stronger sense of urgency when it comes to Ashe’s dilemma.

Black Star is a thought-provoking and spellbinding story and I enjoyed the science fiction elements immensely. Jones has handed readers a well-developed and well-written cast of characters within an amazing storyline. Readers across genres will appreciate Jones’s work and look forward with anticipation to the next book in this trilogy.

Pages: 216 | ASIN: B09Z9FDLZ8

Buy Now From Amazon

Endemic

Endemic by Robert Chazz Chute follows Ovid Fairweather as she tries to navigate a world ravaged by a disease that turns people essentially braindead. As with any collapse of society, a power vacuum develops, and various individuals group together to seize that power. The Memory Keepers are no different, as they seek to weaponize information necessary for all to survive. Can Ovid find a way to survive in a world that aims to take whatever she has left? And can she do it while reconciling with her troubled past?

Other reviewers have it right when they say that this story is not one that neatly falls into the post-apocalyptic or dystopian genres, thanks in large part to the level of realism it maintains. This is a considerable strength of the story and will keep readers interested from chapter to chapter.

The structure of the story, while this could have been action-packed or dripping with tension from scene to scene, we are instead interrupted by flashbacks from Ovid as she attempts to deal with the trauma of her past, both with her parents and her therapist. Some readers may find these enlightening, giving readers a look into Ovid’s past and gaining a better understanding of why she does the things she does.

Ovid endures a great deal in her past and present life. The author does a fantastic job incorporating her past experiences into the main plot points, thus keeping readers guessing and gasping as they read. I would be happy to read more from this setting, and its characters in the future, so here’s hoping there’s a sequel on the way soon.

Endemic is a suspenseful and thrilling science fiction novel with a dystopian twist. Readers will be drawn into the world that at times is almost too real and plausible and left with an eerie feeling of could this happen to me.

Pages: 412 | ASIN : B09KMDMBGC

Buy Now From Amazon

Fearless Lovers

Alessa Kelly Author Interview

Longing For You follows a wealthy and determined woman who goes to Montana to visit a friend and ends up finding romance while getting mixed up in his drama. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I always love writing about stubborn heroines. I guess this stems from my admiration for real career women who have the courage to enter the industries dominated by men, two names came to mind: Hilary Devey (logistics) and Sheryl Sandberg (tech). My aim for Longing For You, and in fact the whole Fearless Lovers series, is to showcase powerful women who have more than just deep pockets (move away, billionaire bad boys 😉).

Arianne is a strong character that knows what she wants in life. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Longing For You is the third book in the series, but I actually created Arianne Whiteley in the second book as a supporting character. There are three sides to Arianne—Arianne the businesswoman, the best friend, and the lover. The ideal behind Arianne the businesswoman is answered in the previous question. The second side of her is about being a sister to her best friend. I’m the only daughter, and so many times I wish I had a sister! Lastly, as a lover, Arianne is the epitome of loyalty and fierce love. It’s about being there for your partner through thick and thin. In the world full of temptations and scandals, I think these qualities are often overlooked.

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

I love complex, multi-layered characters who don’t always get it right. One of the important themes in Longing For You is that life is never black and white, and neither are people. Even a monster has a softer side. The story also highlights how adversity shapes and strengthens family bond.

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

The two bodyguards featured in the Fearless Lovers series will have their own series! I’m working on an opening novella called Montana’s Bravest—showcasing how the two men start the company, Red Mark Rescue & Protect, while dealing with their own heartbreaks. It will be available August 23rd 2022. I’m also working on another romantic suspense novel which will be out later this year.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

His world is steeped in violence. Her job keeps her tough. When their passion ignites, can they battle the coming storm?

Montana man Lucas Grayson loves his son. So after his wife files for divorce and threatens to take his child, the notorious mercenary hopes to get the law on his side. And when a stunning and well-connected businesswoman helps him gain joint custody, he opens up his heart to new possibilities.

Nothing intimidates Arianne Whiteley. Heading west to care for her best friend, the New York oil tycoon doesn’t shy away from helping a handsome guy with legal troubles… and showing him she’s definitely attracted. And despite his dangerous past, she’s determined to claim him for her own.

Hungry to have a life with the strong-willed beauty, Lucas fears a public relationship will bring his enemies in for the kill. And Arianne dreads her formidable father will do anything to keep her from a man who lives and dies by the gun.

Can they escape bloody threats to get their chance at forever?

Longing for You is the steamy third book in the Fearless Lovers romantic suspense series. If you like fierce heroes with a soft center, tenacious heroines, and darkly savage conflict, then you’ll adore Alessa Kelly’s seductive tale.

This book can be enjoyed as a standalone, with no cliff-hangers.
%d bloggers like this: