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The Cardiff Giant

The Cardiff Giant is a hilarious novel first novel, in a series of four, that is set in Cooperstown, New York in 2003. Written by Larry Lockridge, the short novel is narrated by Jack, an investigative journalist dispatched to Cooperstown to investigate the disappearance of the Cardiff Giant.

Lockridge gives an informative and entertaining description of the Cooperstown setting. In some detail he describes the physical appearance of the town and the many tourist attractions such as the Baseball Hall of Fame. There is also a breakdown of the town’s cultural diversity and a brief history on how it came to exist. This sets the scene well for the rest of the story and hints at some of the action to follow.

Intense and complicated characters are an integral part of the novel. Jack is open minded investigative journalist and is prepared to find paranormal experiences in his mission to discover the secret of the missing Cardiff Giant. He soon finds himself in a town with an interesting community that includes such diverse characters as Tarbox the town sheriff (and pig farmer) sisters Sheila, a set designer, and Esther, a psychotherapist, Thor Ohnstad, head of the local Chamber of Commerce (and inn keeper).  Each character has their own motivations and unique voice, including beliefs in alien abduction, rebirthing, astrology, psychokinesis and kabbalistic numerology. Jack, the main character, even becomes entangled with the characters and their beliefs. Their belief systems often compete with other’s beliefs, which Lockridge brings alive with intense and occasionally absurd dialogue between the characters.

The story is organized into three parts, with numerous chapters in each. Despite the numerous characters, themes and romantic twists and turns, the story is well structured. It is very easy to follow and flows well.

Despite the outlandish characters and sometimes wild situations, author Larry Lockridge manages to cleverly couple this with some serious themes of love, jealousy, envy and pursuit of self-identity. These themes are obvious at the start of the novel and are cleverly carried through right until the end of the novel.

I highly recommend The Cardiff Giant. Author Larry Lockridge’s writing appealed to my sense of humor, but I also enjoyed the deeper underlying themes of the novel. The Cardiff Giant also gives the reader an opportunity to examine their own belief system, and self-identity – if one feels the need to read the book for more than just entertainment value. This is a satirical psychological thriller unlike any other book I’ve read recently.

Pages: 164 | ISBN: 1771804246

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University on Watch: Crisis in the Academy – Book Trailer

University on Watch is a story about youthful hope, yearning for more, and triumph over failures and mistakes beyond our own control and doing. The book is a native story to New York state, but couldn’t be more otherworldly, at times supernatural and grippingly suspenseful as the book unfolds. The crisis in the academy, or New London University, is one that goes to the very epicenter of higher learning and education. This crisis is also conjectured, created by the mind of Jacques Peters, a student rejected from the graduate school in English at New London University.

Jacques Peters will do everything in his power to uncover the reason for his rejection from graduate school. Meta-power, a word Jacques Peters believes is behind the root of power in the English department and the reason for his rejection becomes the point of departure for a quest into the very root of power in New London. During this quest, Jacques stops at nothing to hold university officials, department offices, and the community accountable for terminating his education prematurely.

Mr. Peters will travel across New York State, visiting friends, loved ones, and old schoolmates from his High School days at Wales. Through his journey, Jacques will undergo another transformation while contesting the admission decision to the very end, putting his health and life at risk forever.

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The Victims of Sudden Fame

Douglas Wood
Douglas Wood Author Interview

Ladies of the Canyon follows two women who get caught in a complex and twisted relationship that turns violent. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?

As a child, the film, WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? terrified me. No monsters or anything supernatural for that matter, just two women whose relationship is toxic. I wondered how such a story might play out in 2020 as opposed to the early sixties of the film. We’re now so familiar with child stars gone bad via reality shows, TMZ, etc. but I wanted to explore the details behind the lurid headlines and hear the story from one of the victims of sudden fame.

Devon and Nikki’s characters are intriguing and well developed. What were some driving ideals behind their character development?

I aspired to keep things real regarding the characters’ motivations and to delve into their pasts to help explain their current behavior.

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

The need for acceptance, surviving trauma, past and present, the effect of sudden fame and how a lack of self esteem drives our actions.

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

Not currently working on another book.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website

Sometimes it’s deadly at the top…

Devon O’Keefe, star of the popular streaming TV series Beverly Hills Banshee, is losing her grip on life and her sudden fame. When substance abuse and erratic behavior cause production of her show to come to a halt—and after burning through all of her money on drugs and legal fees—the young Midwestern transplant finds herself alone and homeless in L.A.

Enter Nikki Barnes, notorious aging child star and Hollywood survivor with her own tabloid exploits, who waylays Devon after a twelve-step program meeting. Nikki sees a younger version of herself in Devon, having battled addiction, eating disorders, and the effects of personal tragedy for decades. She offers to share her decaying Laurel Canyon mansion with the troubled young actress, determined to help her avoid making the same mistakes she’s made. But soon a series of mysterious and disturbing incidents occur and the two women find themselves locked in a complex and twisted relationship that spirals downward into violence.

Ladies of the Canyon explores the universal need for family and acceptance, and how a toxic environment can affect the choices we make.

Resurrection: A Supernatural Downfall

Resurrection: A Supernatural Downfall by [Rob Lockett]

Resurrection by Rob Lockett is a twisted tale that I could not put down! We step into the disturbed mind of Adam and listen to his menacing thoughts. Although, these thoughts may not be from Adam but from an ancient demon. Adam refers to this demon inside his head as The Dark Passenger. One day Adam is severely beaten by a gang of angry pub-goers and ends up in a coma. While in his coma, Adam allows The Dark Passenger to take over his body, and chaos ensues. The Dark Passenger has big plans for the world ahead of him.

Rob Lockett’s book Resurrection was one of the most captivating novels I have read this month! Lockett is a master of narration and truly brings to life his characters. Being inside Adam’s mind for the first several chapters was disturbing and intriguing! You could truly gain a sense of the type of person Adam was by his inner monologues. The Dark Passenger drove me insane in good and bad ways. His evilness was like nothing I had ever read before! I enjoyed the ancient aspect of this character and how he mimics the symptoms of severe schizophrenia. In a way, this character could represent the deepest and darkest parts of one’s mind. I feel he was also a representation of depression and how it tries to take over. Of course, besides the cults and killing aspects. The creature, without shame, admits that he preys on the weak of mind.

The plot itself was great, but I felt that the execution and pacing could have been improved because I felt that there were a lot of chapters leading up to The Dark Passenger’s eventual takeover; which in my opinion was one of the best parts and I wanted to get there sooner. But overall, I still enjoyed the storytelling, and when Dark Passenger was narrating! I felt that adverbs and adjectives were overused at times but still added a certain nuance to the story. The pop culture references were appreciated; it made me feel like I could relate to Adam’s character. Resurrection is a riveting dark fantasy novel that will appeal to fans of horror and psychological thrillers.

Pages: 519 | ASIN: B08693BMQ4

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Into a World of Darkness

Susan Fuss
Susan Fuss Author Interview

I Am The Sand follows the harrowing story of a young woman held in captivity and her daring escape. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?

The inspiration for the story came about after reading so much about the entitlement and the ‘humiliated rage’ of men in our patriarchal societies, sometimes resulting in familicide, and the abuse of children in the Catholic Church as exposed through the commissions of Inquiry around the world recently. I imagined Chloe being held by a man who had experienced dreadful abuse in his own childhood and this ran parallel with the abuse and trauma he was visiting upon Chloe at the same time. It’s an interesting juxtaposition.

Chloe is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind her character development?

Chloe’s character grew organically from the time that I envisaged a 16-year-old girl held captive in the cellar of the ‘monster’. And her background is so normal in contrast to that of her abductor. She goes to school, she sees her friends, she has a boyfriend and a very stable family background yet she is suddenly and violently plucked out of that and thrust into a world of darkness. She now begins to show her resilience and her strength of character which is quite amazing. She develops an ingenious plot to escape from a man she knows is unhinged and is about to kill her.

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

The very strong themes around which this book is written are the effects of PTSD, childhood trauma and abuse. We are starting to have very meaningful conversations in society about these widespread and long-lasting effects which have been described as the number one health threat in Western society, because not only are the effects psychological, but they are also physical.

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

The next book is a sequel to this because of the type of ending I AM THE SAND has – I want to follow a couple of the characters through into another narrative. I am not sure when it will be ready – but I hope before too long!

Author Links: Website | Facebook

Sixteen-year-old Chloe has just one job to do …
She must escape from her unhinged captor.
She is certain of two things. The first is that she has reached her use-by-date. His ‘virgin’ has become a liability. The Monster will make good his threat. He will kill her. Soon. And secondly, her plan is exceedingly dangerous.
Can Chloe find courage enough to tame the unspeakable terror in which she is drowning, in order to flee The Monster and his brutality?

Where the Horror Comes From

Craig DiLouie
Craig DiLouie Author Interview

The Children of Red Peak follows the lives of four childhood friends who spent their formative years being raised by a religious cult. What was the inspiration for the setup to this riveting novel?

When I write horror, I tend to look to turn tropes on their head and examine their consequences in a story that isn’t so much straight-up horror but instead a psychological thriller with horror elements. The Children of Red Peak does both.

The novel is about a cult, but it’s not a Manson Family-style cult with mesmerized people looking for mass murder, it’s a relatively happy, isolated religious community that transforms into a horrific cult after they become convinced God is waiting for them on a remote desert mountain. It’s this transformation and how logical it is—how religion has given the world so many of its greatest moral achievements but also some of its greatest acts of evil—that is where the horror comes from, not just what they do when they get to Red Peak, though that is horrific enough.

As for examining the consequences of the trope, I decided to tell the story in two timelines, one in the past where we see them growing up in a religious group that transforms into a cult, and the other in the present where we see the few survivors struggling to keep the past at bay. This provided many tools for me as a writer—showing how the children accepted their belief system without minimal question even when things started to get bad, showing how as adults they question everything and struggle to cope with their memories, the ability to tease out what happened at Red Peak all those years ago, and more.

Overall, though, the biggest thematic inspiration for the story was a reading of the Book of Genesis. At one point, God tells Abraham to take his son Isaac to a mountain, tie him up, and sacrifice him as a burnt offering. Abraham does it but is stopped at the last moment by God.

I thought, what would that story be like if told from Isaac’s point of view? The result is a modern story about trauma and cosmic horror.

Your characters are all intriguing and well developed. What were some sources that informed their character development?

Thanks for that! It’s good to hear, as this is a character-driven novel. While The Children of Red Peak is strongly flavored with cosmic horror, it’s primarily a psychological thriller, looking deep into the souls of people who were touched by what may be either a mass break from reality or an actual cosmic event—or perhaps both. As a psychological thriller, it was absolutely essential to offer deep character development so we really understand these people and their flaws, particularly where the flaws come from.

So in the novel’s two storylines, we see that as adults the characters are grown-up versions of the children they were, and how their flaw is certain aspects of their personalities are now either twisted or put into hyperdrive as coping mechanisms due to the deep trauma they suffered. These coping mechanisms are reinforced by their professional choices. As an example, David was easily scared as a child and so he’d often hide from what scared him; as an adult, he’s now a cult exit counselor—he helps people escape—and he emotionally shuts down when confronted by stress, which costs him meaningful relationships and may cost him his marriage.

Once I had these elements in place for each character—their basic personality as children, the individual source of their childhood trauma, their profession and coping mechanism as adults, and what they wanted and needed as adults, I had everything I needed to create living, breathing characters. I fell in love with them—a hazard for horror writers, as we must hurt our darlings—and they often surprised me during the writing process as they’d taken on a life of their own and told me in a sense what they wanted to do and say without my conscious direction—including their choices in the story’s climax.

This novel does a great job of exploring trauma and how it affects different people. Was this intentional or did it come about organically while writing?

It was both. The trauma is what breaks them at Red Peak and what brings them back years later to find some sort of closure, which brings them face to face with the force that destroyed their parents. While the past timeline is about family, belief, and madness, the present timeline is about memory, trauma, and survival. To truly survive Red Peak, the survivors must go back to confront their past and the entity that appeared the final night, but escaping a second time may demand the ultimate sacrifice.

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

When I’m not writing big-idea standalone novels, I self-publish “dime novel” series set in World War 2, which are very popular. Right now, I’m working on one about a carrier dive-bomber pilot fighting in the Pacific. They’re just simple, pulpy fun, and the history is wonderful if frequently tragic. My first love is horror, however, so I’m hoping to start working on another novel soon, and my big hope is to be able to work with Hachette as a publisher again. The company and its team, particularly my editor Bradley Englert, have been fantastic to work with. They really are the best at what they do.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

David Young, Deacon Price, and Beth Harris live with a dark secret. As children, they survived a religious group’s horrific last days at the isolated mountain Red Peak. Years later, the trauma of what they experienced never feels far behind.
When a fellow survivor commits suicide, they finally reunite and share their stories. Long-repressed memories surface, defying understanding and belief. Why did their families go down such a dark road? What really happened on that final night?
The answers lie buried at Red Peak. But truth has a price, and escaping a second time may demand the ultimate sacrifice.

I Am The Sand

I Am The Sand by [Susan Fuss]

I Am The Sand by Susan Fuss is an intense psychological thriller following a girl named Chloe who has to muster the courage to escape from her deranged captor with an audacious plan.

Author Susan Fuss has created a uniquely intriguing character with Chloe. I appreciated the slow evolution and progression of her character throughout the book. She is definitely a fighter and had a strength that felt authentic because it grew organically throughout the story. I cheered for her throughout the story and was biting my nails for some of the more provocative scenes. Her struggle to hand onto her sanity through her captivation was one of the more humanizing aspects of the novel that allowed the story to explore the human condition through a unique perspective. This novel got me thinking that sometimes we are pawns, in life, in relationships, and we don’t even know it. This book also made me appreciate how resilient people can be in the face of adversity.

This is a captivating psychological thriller about the will and strength to survive. This is a fast paced character driven novel that delves into the roles of both captor and captive in some thought-provoking ways. The story can sometimes be devastatingly bleak, but what do you expect when you’re held captive by such a monster.

I Am The Sand is a roller-coaster of emotions. The story is consistently compelling and I really enjoyed the ending of the book. Author Susan Fuss has written a book that will shock you and keep you glued to every page.

Pages: 296 | ASIN: B08N352WDC

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Emotionally Broken

Isabel Wells covers the important topic of being involved in a relationship with a narcissist in Emotionally Broken, telling the tale of Katelyn, a single mother of two girls who meets Jonathan, the handsome, rich Prince Charming who sweeps her off her feet and into his arms. As the relationship develops, we see Jonathan’s true colors emerge.

This book is about such an important topic. Katelyn lives with her mother and works to provide for her girls. She doesn’t really have much else outside of those relationships. When handsome and rich Jonathan comes into her life this novel certainly becomes a much deeper and thought-provoking novel.

Isabel Wells does an excellent job of showing how little self-esteem Katelyn has, for example in how she reacts to Jonathan looking at her. The book takes us on a journey, slowly watching their relationship develop into a marriage and then the end of a marriage as Katelyn sees the Jekyll and Hyde nature of Jonathan. There is a lot of dialogue to share conversations and arguments between the couple, but the dialogue felt stilted. Once the couple marry, the pace of the book picks up, but I felt that there were areas that were underdeveloped. I wanted to see what leads Katelyn to confide in others, instead I felt that we were simply told that this is now happening. We proceed at breakneck speed through the last third of the book. Although there are mentions of lessons Katelyn learned, I wanted more explanation of what those lessons were. This is an emotional book and I was enthralled with Katelyn’s character so my desire to know more comes from the sentimental connection Isabel Wells is able to create between her character and the reader.

This is a complex and sensitive topic to deal with and Isabel Wells handles it with care. The book would have benefited from more show, less tell and more development of some crucial points to help the reader understand the relationship. But in the end Emotionally Broken is a touching story that explores emotional connections and different types of personalities.

Pages: 124 | ASIN: B08CGNNS3S

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