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Ain’t No Messiah

Ain't No Messiah: A Novel (Tales of the Blessed and Broken Book 1) by [Tullius, Mark]

Ain’t No Messiah by Mark Tullius is a dark and intriguing novel about the life of Joshua Campbell. Set in the United States, it’s a tale of his life, from birth to adulthood. Significant family members such as his mother, father and brother walk some of his journey with him as well as childhood friends that reappear in early adulthood. Estranged family members are in his mind all the while and readers meet them briefly as he tries to connect with them.

Having almost died at birth, Joshua’s father labelled him the messiah. His father continues to use this label throughout Joshua’s unusual life; citing near death experiences as miracles. His father publishes books about him and fashions a new church and business on the miracles of the messiah. Despite calling him the messiah, he  verbally and emotionally abuses and neglects him on a regular basis. Joshua consistently refuses to believe he is the messiah and begins to rebel against his father’s rules. Eventually, at 17 he decides to run away, and experiences the world in a new light, but finds he still can’t shake the title of Messiah.

As the story progresses it is unclear whether he seeks out trouble, or trouble seeks him out, and this grey area is what kept me engaged throughout the story. Joshua is dragged into a world of sex and drugs, but he still has to run from his label as the messiah and his tyrannical father. As Joshua is pulled deeper into this world it becomes unclear who he can trust and things turn into a life and death situation. This reminded me of how Stephen King sets up his stories to deliver poignant ideas through simple prose.

Ain’t No Messiah kept me engrossed until the very end. As I read I kept questioning whether Joshua would break free forever from his father, or if he would be tempted by the life of fame and comparative comfort? At times I questioned his life choices and whether he could trust the people he aligned with. The main characters were well developed and believable. However, I felt there were far too many minor characters in the story that kept entering and disappearing. At times it became difficult to keep track of who was who. This detracted from the overall story as I had to pause and try to remember who the character was and why they were important to the story. The transition between flashbacks to past events and present day were clear at the start of the book, however near the end they became less clear which also distracted from the overall continuity. Overall this is an interesting and well written book that delivers a thought provoking message by putting a fascinating character in evocative situations that beg one to reflect on the choices we all make in life.

Pages: 326 | ASIN: B07KCQ8P17

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The Misplaced Man

The Misplaced Man: Who is in charge of his destiny? by [James, Nick]

Sam Blades is not your ordinary twenty-something. He has a girlfriend whose abuse he relishes, a job with company whose name could and should be attributed to that of a lingerie label, and an almost absurd fixation with The Matrix. Sam is, on the other hand, a curiosity to more than one person of interest. His job with Shimmering Dreams has made him a target, and poor Sam is none the wiser. Shimmering Dreams capitalizes on the technology that makes it possible to download one’s dreams and store them on mobile devices. Sam, caught in the middle of the “greatest invention its age” and the conspiracy surrounding its misuse, is about to meet face to face with those who want him out of the picture once and for all.

The Misplaced Man by Nick James is a short story/novella centering around Sam Blades, a young man newly-employed and eager to please his beyond demanding girlfriend, Bunny. Nick James is a master at humor, and his main character is his chosen vessel. Not meant entirely as a work of comedy, James provides several laugh-out-loud moments as Sam struggles in his day-to-day life with Bunny. It is rare for me to find the written word comical enough to emit an audible guffaw, but James definitely delivers. Sam’s personality more than makes the book; he is a memorable character in his own right and is well-developed in first-person accounts.

James’s choice to alternate chapters with varying first-person accounts is quite effective. The story, though brief, is packed full of descriptive and revealing scenarios which serve well to differentiate each character. As the reader, I was easily able to discern which character was taking his turn at bat without having to rely on the chapter title–James is just that good at character development.

It is worth noting that The Misplaced Man is a combination of realistic fiction and science fiction but leans heavily on the realistic fiction element. The book is much more about each character’s own personal conflicts than the underlying component of groundbreaking technology. As interesting as the concept of capturing dreams is, it is explored and detailed much less than some science fiction fans will likely expect.

Sam Blades is ruthlessly humorous and has the makings of a fantastic central character for his ensuing series. I recommend Nick James’s short story to anyone looking for a quick science fiction piece with strong characters laced with humor.

Pages: 155 | ASIN: B07K3Q6QRD

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Truly Unique Characters

Arisawe Hampton Author Interview

Arisawe Hampton Author Interview

The Mage’s Tome is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a fantasy, romance, and paranormal as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?

About ten years ago I became interested in possibly writing a fantasy novel of my own. After several years of planning the breadth of storylines and plot, and quite a few inspirational reads, a few truly unique characters literally popped into my head while I was on a camping trip with my friends. After that, I had no choice but to write my series.

The characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?

It just happens that The Mage’s Tome, my debut novel, has quite a few quirky characters that grow during the span of the duology. They all hold a soft-spot in my heart, but I’m particularly fond of my main hero, Pyrus. He’s rather lovable. even though I’m sure he’d disagree.

I felt that the backstory of the world goes deeper than most fantasy novels. What was the inspiration for the world your characters inhabit?

I did spend a great deal of effort building out the world in The Cry of the Acere duology. On one hand, you get that medieval type of feel that is common in fantasy, but I also included some contemporary elements. The quest really takes place in a pre-industrial type fantasy world (think Wheel of Time), and my characters speak like they’re from our time-period. Our modern-day language and slang create some pretty funny situations for Pyrus. Oftentimes, saying something as simple as “what’s up?” brings about some very affable responses for him.

This is book one in the Cry of the Acere Duology. What can readers expect in book two?

In The Mage Attendant, I begin to reveal a lot more about the direction my characters are headed. Pyrus, certainly has a lot more opportunities for him to show off his self-deprecating, sarcastic sense of humor. It also has some exciting warring that takes place! My readers will also be pleased that it has a rather romantic and happy ending that they might not expect!

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebook | Website

The Mage's Tome: Cry of the Acere Duology: Book I by [Hampton, Arisawe]The Acere have spoken; the tome must come to the mage.

Among the rubicund grasslands to the forests of Roan, a quest begins at the onset of royal betrayal. The fate of Roan rests on the hermit mage, Pyrus, who has singular powers but is loathe to help. Yet, the susurrus words of the ancient Gods have promised that he will be instrumental to their plans. Their entreaties show him the nature of their magic. He must first avow to create the soldier, and he must also protect the Lady.

Meanwhile, seething in the pit, the Hellion will soon emerge.

They all will be tested, yet it is Pyrus who holds the key to camaraderie and purpose.

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Addicted to You

Addicted to You: Book 2 (SAPD SWAT Series) by [Mays, Nikki]

Michelle has known Damon for years. For years, Damon has known what Michelle could not possibly know–she belongs to him. When Damon’s stalking and pursuit of Michelle finally reaches its peak, Michelle can longer deny her attraction to Damon, and she gives in to her own curiosity. As Michelle and her best friend, Mellie’s, luck would have it, Damon is not the only one who has pursued and admired Michelle from afar for years. When what began as admiration turns to full-fledged obsession, Damon and his team are there for Michelle and Mellie when seconds count.

Addicted to You is the second book in the SAPD SWAT Series by author Nikki Mays. This second installment focuses on Michelle, co-owner of The Sweet Grind and best friend of Mellie. Mellie and her love affair with Morris were the primary focus of book one, and Mays has taken the same slant with book two shifting the perspective to Michelle. Written in first person and swapping between the two main characters, Michelle and Damon, the book hits on some particularly comedic moments as well as intensely romantic and sensual scenes.

As with book one, I enjoyed the shift in points of view between the two characters. Mays is adept at writing from each one’s perspective and helping the reader see each one’s thought processes. Damon, while intense, is a lovable character in his own right. Michelle’s reflections on his love for her further serve to build him as a favored character for readers. In turn, as Damon explains the passion with which he pursues Michelle, the reader is taken from wondering about his frame of mind to understanding his love for Michelle. Mays writes in a unique style that succeeds in quickly drawing in the readers and keeping them enthralled with the plot.

In both of the first two installments in the SAPD SWAT series, Mays steers the plot away from romance long enough to include an element of mystery. In Addicted to You, however, Mays seems to get to the point rather quickly. Even though I enjoyed and appreciated the mystery surrounding the drawings of Michelle left in the bake shop, it seemed the mystery was solved too quickly. I would have liked to have seen that aspect of the plot stretched out.

There is an undeniable quality of humor in Mays’s writing. She details a fantastic dynamic between her characters, both main and secondary. They have a rapport that is undeniable, and the entire group banters back and forth as true friends and siblings. Even their fights turn into comedic memories.

It is worth noting that there seem to be numerous punctuation and grammar errors in the reading. Only in a few places do these errors impact or interfere with the flow of the reading.

Author Nikki Mays writes an entertaining romance novel geared toward the new adult genre and succeeds in shaping lovable and memorable characters. Any fan of the romance genre will be pleased with the engaging plot and the sensuous visuals.

Pages: 150 | ASIN: B07J23W7JN

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Injected with Lots of Humor

Kyle Spencer Author Interview

Kyle Spencer Author Interview

A Monk’s Tail follows a monster hunting fox that must protect his friend from a fiendish warlord. What was your inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?

There really was no ‘inspiration’, per se. Writing for me started out (and still is) something I do to center myself after a long or stressful day. I would have a bunch of what-if situations and flesh them out a bit. The characters in the what-if that eventually became A Monk’s Tail really stuck with me, so I rolled with it.

The characters are all anthropomorphic animals that are multilayered characters. What choices went into what character would be which animal?

Basically the decision-making process was, “What animals do I like?” Red Pandas are my favorite so I just went with them for the main character. Although I did want Susi to be more diminutive to showcase her spunky, firecracker personality, so having her be a mouse was a more intentional decision.

I loved the dialogue throughout the story. What were some themes you wanted to capture in their conversations and relationships?

The main theme for my book is “fun”; if you’re entertained, I did my job. So the dialogue is injected with lots of humor that gives each character their own quirks. I also love languages (although I’m not the best at learning them), so I wanted to incorporate different languages and accents to give my world more depth.

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

I’ve got a few irons in the fire, but the most immediate work is a direct sequel to A Monk’s Tail. It’s a love letter to Japan that introduces a lot of folklore, monsters, and historical figures. Anyone who’s interested in the Sengoku period of Japan, yokai, or the culture in general will enjoy this book, which will be available during the second quarter of 2019.

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterWebsite

A Monk's Tail by [Spencer, Kyle]For Bow, a gun-toting, hard-drinking, foul-mouthed firefox monk, life as a monster-hunter is pretty straightforward. Until, that is, he runs afoul of a power-hungry warlord and gets himself imprisoned. There he helps a young maus named Susi escape, but in doing so unleashed nightmarish forces hellbent on capturing his new ward. Now, with the help of a giant bear alchemist and a violent nun, Bow must stay one step ahead of his perusers and certain death. But Susi is harboring a dark secret, one that could spell doom for them all.

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Imaginary Offshoots

Terry Tumbler Author Interview

Terry Tumbler Author Interview

Future World Rolls follows two FBI agents with psychic abilities as they start recruiting for a mission that will change human history. What was the inspiration behind the setup to this fascinating story?

Research into the 19-year-long career of one individual, a remote seer for the US government. He reported on the existence of ‘buck naked’ green men on the moon and its irregular placement as a protective screen against the solar flares of the sun. By whom? One may well ask.

As always, your characters are unique and fun to read. What is your process like to create such lively characters?

I always loosely base them on real, memorable people like Stan Laurel and the Big Bopper. Disparate? Maybe.

You masterfully imbue your work with music throughout the story. What were some key themes in your choice of music for this book?

Pure relevance to the storyline, plus hefty research into the ways in which these series of songs originated. I used this method to carry on the themes they might have used if they’d stayed on course, like Buddy Holly staying with The Crickets. In some instances, I began writing original tunes as imaginary offshoots. A classic example is the 2190 Overture, which could be sung by the likes of Queen in the same vein as Bohemian Rhapsody.

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

I am well into the first few chapters of book 3 of the Carousels of Life, Simply Spiffin’, Future Criminologist. It is all in my mind, to keep on track.

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook | Website | Blogspot

FUTURE WORLD ROLLS!: We Are Family (Carousels of Life Book 2) by [Tumbler, Terry]This Space Opera is set to Rock n’ Roll and classical music, many of the songs being entirely original and composed by the author.

It starts in the mid-20th century with two talented FBI Special Agents being tasked with recruiting people to undertake a really unusual mission. In the process, they are themselves abducted to take a leading role in that mission, which is intended to save the human race from alien conquest.

It involves time travel into the future, as they lead their hostile hunters on a merry chase across the centuries. They have the full support of other sympathetic races in their imaginative survival techniques, allowing them to go on the offensive.

The characters within embark on a series of adventures that are truly moving in their significance. Based initially on our own Planet Earth, the story employs reported alien sightings and events.

Future World ROLLS to its very core!

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The Mage’s Tome

The Mage's Tome: Cry of the Acere Duology: Book I by [Hampton, Arisawe]

Arisawe Hampton takes the reader into the fantastical land of Roan. A land with many modern and typical occurrences but a land so not typical! In the opening chapter we meet the somewhat reluctant hero of our tale, the hermit Pyrus.  The gods have spoken, however, and he must enter a quest that will save the land of Roan.  Along the way we are introduced to many interesting characters, the soldier with magically produced “amnesia”, Hazel the maid, the spoiled Lady, Leo the wolf-dog, and more!

This story is full of adventure, magic, fantasy, and even some romance! The author paints absolutely beautiful scenery with her words. I felt transported to the world of Roan. It is clear that this world is very detailed in her mind.  She writes with passion and conviction for her story. Although there were times I wanted the story line to progress more rapidly, I loved how this book flowed.  The story archs for these characters were connected very well.

Another part of the writing I enjoyed was the world that is created is part reality and part fantasy. For example, we see characters playing a game of poker, but we also see Pyrus communicating with animals. We see Pyrus the “therapist” and Pyrus the mage who can use spells for all sorts of fantastical things! I loved this juxtaposition of modernity with fantasy.

The word usage and descriptors are fun to read. I was truly transported into this world. She created realistic dialogue for her characters. There were a lot of scenes that I found humorous. Pyrus’s use of the Asher Zin as Hazel’s fiancé was hilarious. It had me thinking of the movie Overboard, where an amnesiac (although not spell induced!) is lead to believe she is married to someone she is not.

I recommend this book to lovers of epic fantasy fiction. The reader will immediately see that they are in good company because Hampton clearly has a passion for fantasy herself. There are moments of levity and moments of intensity that make this story very well-rounded. I’m looking forward to reading more books in this series!

Pages: 327 | ASIN: B07FD743HD

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Future World Rolls!

FUTURE WORLD ROLLS!: We Are Family (Carousels of Life Book 2) by [Tumbler, Terry]Charles Bone and Stan Loren are two FBI agents with quite the special set of skills. The least of which is their ability to communicate without vocalizing their thoughts. As two men with psychic abilities, they have been given the job of heading up a recruitment drive unlike any other in history. Charles and Stan, in the early 1970s, manage to pinpoint over 3,000 individuals exhibiting the qualities making them the perfect candidates for the job. Little do the recruits know the mission for which they have been chosen is one that could change the course of human history.

Terry Tumbler’s Future World Rolls (We Are Family) Book 2 in the Carousels of Life series has one of the most unique settings of its genre. Spanning centuries and with locations varying from Winter Park Florida in the 70s to vessels in space including the Voyager 6, Tumbler carries the reader on quite the raucous ride through time and space via Charles and Stan and the plethora of alien life forms peppered throughout this second in a series.

There is a Men in Black feel about the novel that gives the book a light, fun air. Fans of this type of science fiction will appreciate Tumbler’s alien beings, their idiosyncrasies, and the banter between the main characters as they go about the task set before them.

As with Tumbler’s first book in the series, Future World Rolls is laden with song lyrics, references to artists’ best-known works, and well-timed and perfectly-placed excerpts of the world’s best (my own humble opinion) music. Tumbler’s characters are more than capable of standing on their own, but these song references help to add another light note to the text. I thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to hum along to the tunes Tumbler sets as pleasant little earworms from the beginning to the end of the book. I mean who doesn’t love to be reminded of George Harrison’s “Here Comes the Sun” and “All Day and All of the Night” by the Kinks? Tumbler doesn’t just incorporate music from the 1960s. He takes readers on a nostalgic journey through music history, hitting all the right notes–so to speak.

To say Future World Rolls is fast-paced would be a gross understatement. Tumbler keeps the reader engaged from one jam-packed chapter to the next. Billed as a space opera, this book hops, skips, and jumps from one scene to the next introducing new and engaging characters while building on the already well-developed Charles, Stan, and the just-short-of-amazing green giants.

Science fiction fans who enjoy lively plots and bigger-than-life characters will find Tumbler’s works meet all of their expectations and more. Tumbler writes beautifully and manages to pull off humor in the most eloquent of ways possible. Some science fiction books are fraught with terminology and processes that overwhelm the reader. Tumbler combats all of that with his stunning cast of characters and an upbeat tone that is set from the first chapter.

Pages: 314 | ASIN: B07H4QQR8K

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The Newspaperman

The Newspaperman by [Nudo, Sal]

When the newspaperman shows up on the corner, looking every bit the part of a newsboy straight out of the 1930’s, Seth is intrigued. When the news in the papers he offers readers begins to take a turn for the bizarre, the grotesque, and the highly-sensationalized, his feelings are steeped more in disgust. Seth and his friends question, not only the newspaperman’s motives, but those of his employer. Seth’s world turns upside down following a visit from the newspaper’s owner, and he and his wife, Meghan, find themselves facing the offer of a lifetime only to see that their joy is short-lived.

I don’t often say this, but it’s incredibly difficult to refrain from busting out in a string of “awesomes” and “fantastics” to describe my utter fascination with The Newspaperman by Sal Nudo. I will try to contain my glee and use phrasing that is more in line with a standard review and less like a school girl gushing over a crush, but The Newspaperman is freaking awesome, folks!

I am not sure what I expected going into the first paragraph, but I do know that Sal Nudo grabbed me, dipped me in a splendid little mixture of visuals, and sat me down in the most fascinating story line I have come across in a long time. His description of the main character, Seth’s, initial encounter with the newspaperman is simply brilliant. Nudo sets up for readers a scenario that will keep them guessing as to, not only the intentions of the highly suspect character, but to the genre itself. By about the second chapter, I had convinced myself that Seth was the only person able to see the newspaperman and was experiencing some type of vision. Nudo, though, weaves such an intriguing tale of mystery that he is able to shift readers from believing they are settling into one genre while he gently places them safely within the arms of another.

The commentary on current events Nudo makes with The Newspaperman is spot-on. Without taking a politically-charged stance, Nudo gives readers something to chew on regarding the state of the U.S. and the fate of journalism as we know it. Again, I hesitate to use common and overused phrasing–but I absolutely loved Seth’s letter and the fervor with which he attacks the C-U Journal.

The Newspaperman is a quick read. By quick read I mean I was enthralled from the mention of Cedrick, the absurdly out of place yet perfectly fitting newsboy, and couldn’t put the book down. It was a read-in-one-sitting, literally-can’t-put-it-down page turner.

That ending, though! Here’s my appeal to Sal Nudo’s sensibilities. I must have resolution. I absolutely, beyond the shadow of a doubt, have to have closure. To say I am bitter about the way Nudo leaves things would be only a slight exaggeration. However, I am ecstatic at the mere notion of a sequel.

I am, with a ridiculous and overzealous amount of enthusiasm, giving The Newspaperman by Sal Nudo 5 out of 5 stars. There is truly nothing else being written right now that blends genres and makes reading about the current state of affairs in our world interesting while driving home the importance of protecting our journalists and the part they play in keeping us all safe and informed like The Newspaperman. I recommend this outstanding piece by Sal Nudo to fans of all genres–it’s simply a must-read.

Pages: 166 | ASIN: B078RGKZJF

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The Enigma Source

The Enigma Source (The Enigma Series Book 10) by [Breakfield, Charles V, Burkey, Roxanne E]

Su Lin and Andy have everything they want on their farm–solitude, livestock to occupy them, and one another. Most importantly, Su Lin is worlds away from her old life. However, Su Lin and Andy are not as free from Su Lin’s past endeavors as they would like to believe. She is a genius in her own right, and that, in and of itself, may just be the downfall of her family and the entire team. As digital currencies begin to lurk behind the world’s financial curtain, Su Lin rises as one of the most desired faces on the planet as she possesses the unbreakable code that can help turn the world’s currency system upside down.

The Enigma Source, by Charles V. Breakfield and Roxanne E. Burkey, features the dynamic team from Breakfield and Burkey’s long list of Enigma books and is every bit as engaging and brimming with technological advancements as each of the pair’s previous installments in the series. The Enigma Source takes readers on a journey eighty years into the past as events in Poland are related via a set of books discovered by Jacob. Throughout the book, the authors have juxtaposed Jacob’s reading of said books with the events endured by Su Lin, Andy, and the rest of the team as they fight to stop Su Lin’s nemesis, Guano.

I am never disappointed in the strength and depth of the relationships between Breakfield and Burkey’s characters. Su Lin and Andy are the focus of The Enigma Source. Their love is intense, endures each and every test thrown their way, and is to be envied. They are among the most vivid of the authors’ couples–second only to Juan and Julie.

I didn’t want to be, but I was struck by Mathias’s sense of loss over Dutch. Breakfield and Burkey have a way of making the reader see the humanity in their antagonists. A sense of pity and sorrow overwhelmed me as I read of Mathias’s grief and his tragic revelation with regards to his own staggering lack of true friendships.

ICABOD, the ever-present supercomputer, remains one of the most fascinating aspects of the Enigma series. ICABOD is a unique blend of technology and humor. Throughout the book, the team of experts turns to ICABOD for intelligence and briefings and are able to obtain the needed information almost instantly–always amazing. In addition, there exists a friendly banter between the team members and the supercomputer that lends a welcome level of levity to rather serious and many times, dark situations.

ICABOD is only the beginning of the advancements peppering Breakfield and Burkey’s work. I was fascinated by the capsule used to track Su Lin’s movements. As she prepares to fly to China, her ingestion of the tiny encapsulated tracker mesmerized me. As with each of the other Enigma books, the authors’ storylines are rich with technology that will wow readers from the first page.

I am giving The Enigma Source, by Breakfield and Burkey, an enthusiastic 5 out of 5 stars. Rich characters and spellbinding storylines permeate The Enigma Source. Readers looking to take a leap into the depths of the digital age will find everything they want within the covers of Breakfield and Burkey’s The Enigma Source.

Pages: 351 | ASIN: B07GD6S9SP

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