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Salt Island

Marissa Ellwyn has spent the better part of the last two years wondering where her father might be. His secretive lifestyle and cryptic postcards have shaped her into the woman she is today–one incredibly determined woman. When she plans a secretive getaway of her own with her sights set on finally discovering her father’s whereabouts, she can’t possibly imagine what awaits her. Will she find her father in paradise? Or will he continue to outwit everyone, including his own daughter? Marissa’s journey to discover his truths is really just beginning.

Salt Island, the second book in the E&A Investigations Series by Lisa Towles, follows private detective Marissa Ellwyn as she sets out to find her missing father. For two years, she has received periodic postcards from him, and enough is enough–she has to know the wheres, whys, and hows of his disappearance. Towles does a phenomenal job of setting up Marissa’s adventure and integrating elements and characters from Book 1. Readers will quickly feel caught up and while this is a second installment, it can easily be read as a stand-alone novel. The introduction of an additional storyline centered around her detective business gives this incredible novel an added layer of mystery and suspense.

Towles’s books are consistently thrilling. It is difficult to find well-written mysteries or thrillers that combine an engaging storyline with excellent character development, but Towles manages to do just that in one neat package. The rapport shown between Marissa and her partner Derek is unmatched. I love reading their interactions and watching them try to outthink one another. It’s a relatable match and one that is both fitting for the plot and believable as a pairing.

Towles is a master when it comes to parallel storylines. Following two simultaneously evolving storylines can be tricky and, if they are not well-thought-out and well-written, readers can quickly lose interest and trust in the author’s ability to pull it all together. I have to say, I was curious from the beginning and truly wondered how Towles would follow the targeting of Jack Darcy and his company while at the same time keeping readers engaged in the plot point focused on her missing father. She does it, however, and does it with ease.

The E&A Investigations Series by Lisa Towles, are always winning choices when it comes to selecting mysteries. Readers will find the quick pace and snappy dialogue in Salt Island refreshing. Above all else, Marissa Ellwyn is a character who jumps off the pages and into readers’ hearts. Her earnest search for truth will grab readers and make them instant fans of Towles’s work.

DoGoodR

DoGoodR by W.A. Pepper is a thriller prequel that follows a hacker named Tanto, who, along with a couple fellow hackers, has been hired by a woman claiming to be the sister of the hacker, DoGoodR, to destroy the evidence that had landed him behind bars. Tanto and his friends Squirrel_Lord and Mane-Eac go on a mission to free this young hacker, but as they get further into the job, things start feeling off to Tanto. Accelerated deadlines, their fellow companion’s incompetence, and sheer bad luck have the gang questioning their odds. Will they succeed in saving their young comrade, or is it all just a cleverly arranged trap as they fear?

This suspenseful book was riveting. It really drew me in. It hooks you from the beginning and has you on the edge of your seat till the end. It’s a nice little short read if you’re looking for something to fill a little time in your reading schedule. Despite its size, though, it doesn’t skimp on the thrills. I loved Mane-Eac. She was a strong female character who didn’t let her fellow male hackers push her around, and I appreciate that alpha woman’s presence. Actually, all the ladies were pretty strong, some scarily so.

I felt the book could use some editing with how the chapters are broken out. With a short novel, it can be hard to get all the information a reader needs at times. There are a lot of flashbacks in this story to make that happen. While they were necessary to give you the backstory, I felt saying the character was brought back to the present each time wasn’t necessary. Those things aside, the story moved quickly, and the characters gave readers all the information at just the right time to provide suspense from start to finish.

DoGoodR is a page-turning technothriller and prequel. It made me consider reading the others in this universe. If you love a good hacker thriller, I recommend this. The fast-paced action and great characters made this a great read.

Pages: 120 | ISBN: 1958011045

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Be Herself Without Fear

Zachary Ryan Author Interview

The Perfect Sister follows a young woman who joins a sorority in hopes of starting a new life, only to realize her secrets are not meant to remain hidden. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I have always been inspired by Gossip Girl, and Pretty Little Liars. I wrote a trilogy called High School Queens. I took the girl Bethany from that story and originally put her in college. The story went completely different from her, so I made it its own trilogy.

Tinsley wants nothing more than to leave her past behind her, but her new sisters won’t allow that to be the case. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

I think the biggest character development for her is being able to grow from her mistakes. She did all these things to fit in, and she was starting to do them with Kappa Zeta. She learned to have a backbone and be herself without fear. It was why at the end she stands up for Codi against the Kappa Zeta sisters.

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

I honestly wanted to explore the themes of forgiveness. People make mistakes all the time, but can you forgive them and yourself for said mistakes. You see both sides of letting go of people’s mistakes and using it for revenge.

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

My next novel Ride will be out in November. It’s a story of two sisters as they deal with trauma. One of them is a recovering alcoholic, while the other is trying to find her love for music again. It’s inspired by the music of Lana Del Rey.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook

They say sisters have your back forever. Well, what happens when your secrets are on the line? How much can you trust your Kappa Zeta sister?

Tinsley came to Campbell to escape the problems and mistakes of her past. She thought she would have a fresh start, but at Kappa Zeta, there’s not such thing as a fresh start or hidden secrets.

Remember girls, you better keep your secrets close to your chest and make sure none of your sorority sisters have a knife they’re dying to dig into your back.

NAILS

Nails is a haunting piece of political fiction based on what would happen if viewpoints of certain political factions were to be driven to the extreme. We follow three different protagonists, who all consider themselves to be the hammers that strike down the nails; the weak people, and guide them toward the way they need to be going or bend them and discard them for being useless to the cause. They represent the three levels of involvement and control they have within the organizations they serve: the foot soldier, the propagandist, and the boss.

This is not a dystopian book in itself, I think it’s more of an introduction into a dystopia. This book does a fantastic job of increasing your anxiety concerning politics or potential dystopias with how well it utilizes contemporary worries to ground the story and create an authentic atmosphere. The ending to this riveting novel is fantastically distressing with how probable it could be… or maybe the author just does a great job of making it all feel possible?

I enjoyed the well-conceived narrative driving this story forward. The plot is fast paced and intriguing. There are time skips that keep the reader guessing, but instead of feeling like a fault, they feel like a feature, as they happen more often when the characters start dissociating from the work they were once so interested in. The characters are compelling and unique. I felt like the characters come off as undecided about whether they are against the big plan or for it, and that adds a layer of intrigue to the story. I would have enjoyed a bit more worldbuilding to the story, because what is given is so fascinating and I wanted to know more about the overall world.

Nails is a a thrilling read that is immensely entertaining. This captivating psychological thriller is for anyone interested in how political regimes may develop and how they ensnare different people into believing what they want them to believe. If you’re a reader looking for a political thriller with a unique cast then this is a novel that you’ll certainly enjoy.

Pages: 279 | ASIN: B0BDXRTCPB

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The Perfect Sister 

Uncover the deep, dark secrets of Kappa Zeta, and maybe you’ll discover the events that led to a young sorority pledge’s death. When Lydia was found dead, it made national headlines for being the college’s scandal of the year, and the disbelieving news rocked the college community. Unaware of the tragic accident that plagued campus society, new pledge, and South Carolina native Tinsley joins Kappa Zeta with the hopes of leaving a mysterious, haunting past behind her. With her fair share of secrets to hide, Tinsley hoped to keep the closet door closed on her skeletons, but keeping secrets wasn’t part of being the perfect sister. Would her experience as part of this infamous sorority be the epic high she was seeking or the crushing downfall that led to her demise?

Zachary Ryan’s The Perfect Sister is written in a style similar to Gossip Girl. This book leaves readers on the edges of their seats with the subtle hints the narrator drops throughout the story. A creepy, sinister tone concludes each chapter, and the cliff-hanging clues keep your eyes glued to the page. The writing is simple, but this works in favor of the plot at times. There are great, simple physical descriptions of characters, painting a clear image of the character in your reader’s mind. However, sometimes simple writing is not enough in some areas of this book. I felt that the novel could have made use of more literary devices to strengthen reader engagement.

The Perfect Sister is a suspenseful psychological thriller novel that will keep readers on edge from one chapter to the next. Everyone has secrets to hide, but hiding them from your sorority sisters isn’t an option in this story. The drama and mystery will keep readers returning to find out who they can trust if anyone.

Pages: 326 | ASIN : B0B89G9F77

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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

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Secrets Through the Lens

Secrets Through the Lens is a tale of a tragic family that has endured tragedy and irreparable damage from various circumstances. When Laura discovers that she is pregnant in her teens, her life seems blighted, and the ambitious but ignorant character must make decisions that will have repercussions throughout her life, including family and relationships. As Laura raises two daughters, Bannon and Mallory, she isn’t the loving, nurturing mother they need. Instead, they grow up in Sydney with cold and distant parents, longing for love, understanding, attention, and empathy.

As a result of their upbringing, neither Bannon nor Mallory can sustain a romantic relationship. When they find any measure of happiness, it soon evaporates into despair and tragedy. Throughout their lives, both sisters support each other, though in some cases, Bannon appears to be more supportive of Mallory and receives little in return from her.

As you dive into the story, the plot expands to include exciting and unique developments. Jennifer, Laura’s much older daughter, who lives in Queensland, keeps regular contact with Bannon. Just as the reader gains a sense of who the family is, hidden mysteries lie beneath the surface, slowly unraveling and keeping you reading to uncover more.

Throughout the story, the author addresses isolation, instability, and insecurity throughout the story. Eales does a great job describing a love that is either stifled or thwarted, where men are predatory, and children feel unsafe. As Laura dispassionately teaches her daughter, Mallory, to expect life to be harsh and unfair, she spares no love or compassion, leading her daughters and their legacy down a dark path in life.

Secrets Through the Lens by Connie Eales is a tragic tale about family and the impact of generational trauma. While this book deals with complex themes and longing for relief, it is an insightful read that gives the reader much to think about. Secrets Through the Lens is a gripping story with a well-written tale of family tragedy and loss.

Pages: 281 | ASIN: B0BCDRQN7C

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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.
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