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The Shudder of Realization

Tantra Bensko Author Interview

Tantra Bensko Author Interview

Glossolalia is a thrilling ride through the mind of a woman who is seemingly normal but her life slowly unfolds to reveal something bizarre. What was the inspiration that made you want to write this book?

I have a keen interest in mind control of individuals, and the way controlling each individual can effectively affect a large number of people. All my life I’ve studied in depth the methods that agencies such as the CIA has historically used, and they often have manipulated people’s interest in the occult. And that seems like a topic rich with dramatic fictional possibilities, especially for Psychological Suspense, in which gaslighting is such a common element.

I know I love that electric shudder I get when realize something is not what I thought it was, when I’m just starting to put the pieces together and it’s first making sense, grim as the truth may be. I wanted to give readers that entertainment as well.

Nancy, is like many women at first, but she suffers from narcolepsy and has an addiction to pills that she is trying to kick. How her character unfolds and develops is fascinating. What was your plan as you wrote Nancy’s character?

The only way she can explain her fugues at first is to believe she has narcolepsy, but when she discovers what she does during her periods of amnesia, she realizes her problem is something entirely different from that illness. Similarly, she thinks she’s addicted to the pills to keep hallucinations and delusions at bay, but once she manages to stop taking them, she realizes her visions have been actual memories.

My plan with her was to create an anti-hero who finds a way to redeem herself while staying true to the dubious skills she’s been taught all her life. And she gives readers a way to inhabit the sympathetic victim as well as to perhaps develop compassion for people who are compelled to commit violent acts. In a way, she stands for all of us, because everyone has fallen prey to disinformation at some point, and thus has been an unwilling promulgator of it. And all of us have some chance at heroically redeeming ourselves for that, though of course, I don’t promote violence in any way.

There are a lot of fantastic twists in this novel along with a variety of surprises that kept me turning pages. Did you plan the novel before you wrote or did the story develop organically?

I planned it out to make sure all the plot points, pinch points, act breaks and all were in proper order. However, as I wrote it, I got new ideas for twists that were great fun to conceive of. For example, Brandon the YouTube conspiracy journalist with gigantism wasn’t in the completed first draft. Just as much as I enjoy the shudder of realization, I love the feeling of coming up with new plot twists. It feels delightful.

Glossolalia is book one in the Agents of the Nevermind series. Where does book two, Remember to Recycle, take readers?

People who like Glossolalia will probably like Remember to Recycle because it falls within the same genre categories including Conspiracy Thriller and Political Thriller, and while book one focuses on how coups are created, book two focuses on how proxy wars are created. In both cases, the emphasis is on how intelligence agents deceive the public into going along with the terrible treatment of other countries for profit motive, while pretending it’s for humanitarian aid.

Glossolalia referenced our society’s history, particularly related to intelligence agencies, as a foundation for the series, as well as a pattern of coups that’s been recurring for a very long time; Remember to Recycle specifically addresses what’s happening right now. It goes into all the types of trafficking that go along with war, which is the secondary meaning of the title.

However, the first meaning of the title is more obvious, because a major character is Dave, a homeless man who survives by going through people’s recycling bins and selling the stuff, like all the other guys on the street. But he comes up with a brilliant plan. As in Glossolalia, there’s a darkly humorous aspect to it, and he provides a lot of that. He was really fun for me to write, especially as it’s first person present tense, while he describes his life moment by moment to the “character” he affectionately calls Mr. Interrogator. He’s got a hell of a personality. He likes to wear a wide variety of costumes that he keeps under the bridge, and fancies himself an actor of sorts. He idolizes the Rescuers, who are based on the White Helmets.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Glossolalia: Psychological Suspense (The Agents of the Nevermind Book 1)

No one but her uncle would hire Nancy, considering her habit of snapping out of amnesiac fugues, wondering where she got her bruises and the scent of men’s cologne. When she sees a crime of poison in progress at the company, she chases the truck carrying away the chemical legally deemed too toxic to use or to dump. Her pursuit leads to a convoluted world of political intrigue, esoteric rituals and an arcane Elizabethan spy code, and assassinations she never imagined – though her imagination is what holds that world together.

This conspiracy novel introduces a young woman with an ambiguous past involving herself in a killer organization with one layer after another of her psyche. DARK, even possibly DISTURBING ROMANCE, is key to finding elusive authenticity.

The old cartoonish formula of good CIA VS bad guys no longer is fresh and relevant. Though through a fictionalized agency, the books in this series, like Barry Eisler’s spy thrillers, explore the shady side of the CIA secret psy-ops, covert experiments, illusions, coups, media theater, psychological warfare, and illicit methods of funding. The Agents of the Nevermind series dares to explore the edgiest controversies and the convoluted lives intelligence agents must endure as they create bizarre delusions for the world in order to hide the truth about their nation’s financial foundation.

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Precarious Situations

Lance Oliver Keeble Author Interview

Lance Oliver Keeble Author Interview

Globes Disease is a fast paced thriller that follows seven individuals as they suffer from the affliction of lycanthrope and are being hunted by a vampire because of it. What was the inspiration that made you want to write this suspenseful novel?

The original idea began as a short story about a black man named Terry who is infected by a lycanthrope. As he walks down the street he wanders if people are looking at him because of his infection or because he is black.

As I added more characters, more stories grew, and eventually a lot of the back stories became short stories, that became novellas and before I knew it, a novel!

The characters, I felt, were well developed and really stood out as unique in the end. What was your favorite character to write for and why?

Its difficult to say. I like them all. I have seven kids and four grandchildren, and a good number of nieces and nephews, I truly have no favorites. I love them each based on who they are.

Lets just say, everyone that survived my book are my favorite characters (laughing). Though some of the ones that died had to die to move the story forward.

I will say that Terry and Quake stand out to me for the males and Jodi and Goldy stand out for the females.

I love your review of my book, it’s so dead on. I could never say in words what I was thinking when folks asked me what my novel was about. You hit the nail on the head.

You mentioned names, believe it or not, Quake is based on someone I know, named Dozer, and Quake comes from a name I know of someone named Earthquake. I combined the two. As far as Ano, I went to school with an Austrian fellow who was a big guy and natural athlete name Onno, that’s where that name came from.

Jodi is based on some Japanese and Chinese friends of mine who have traditional parents. I just turned them in to one girl. Goldy is based on the women I grew up listening to; beautiful, smart, professionals, and the challenges they faced in their lives.

This book seamlessly blends many different genres. Was this planned before writing or did it happen organically?

Organically, I actually like to tell stories about people and put them in precarious situations and see how they react. The genres you mentioned in your review are genres I know and love. So I naturally lean towards telling stories in those genres.

I can honestly say that I would love to be the hybrid of King, Tarantino, Lee, Palahniuk, Shyamalan, Chaykin and Gaiman. I love how Gaiman has written comics, novels, movies, etc. That seems very natural and fluid to me. Writing what strikes you. Writing when you are inspired and writing in the genre and medium you want has got to be the best of feelings.

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

I have completed the prequel to Globes Disease. I am waiting on the editing to be finished. I am currently working on the sequel as well…

In the mean time I am working on a comic, some short stories, a guest blog and a few other things…

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook | Website

Globes DiseaseJodi and her friends all suffer from the same affliction. Each of them compelled to deal with their struggles in their own personal way.

These unfortunate residents of the small quiet town of La Mort Douce must band together as their peace is threatened by a mysterious Vampire, Hunters who treat them like wild game and a Government Agency with promises of a cure.

With many more threats looming, this eclectic group must come together to achieve a common goal.

They must fight for their humanity or die alone, like animals.

Globes Disease

A thrilling action-packed novel about Lycanthropy through the eyes of 7 brave souls who suffer from the disease.

Do you have it?

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Completely Absurd and Fantastical

Ulises Silva Author Interview

Ulises Silva Author Interview

The Perfect Teresa follows a 43 year old woman that has hit rock bottom and is given a 2nd chance at high school by an ancient Aztec deity. What was the inspiration for the setup to this imaginative story?

I think we all have those moments we wish we could go back and re-do for whatever reason, whether it be an embarrassing childhood experience or something you wish you’d done differently as an adult. Of course, none of us can go back and do anything over, at least not without something completely absurd and fantastical happening. That’s really how this story came about. The “what if” question was, “What if there was some way, some kind of cosmic intervention that would allow someone to go back in time and re-do an experience?” And, yes, I’ve thought of what I’d do in a situation like that! So little by little, the pieces began to fall into place, and authors like Christopher Moore and Jenny Lawson really helped me to see that sometimes the most absurd things made the most sense. So, yes, an unemployed Aztec deity sending a woman back in time to do a talent show over again? Makes perfect sense to me!

Authors can often fudge the details in time traveling stories, but I felt that the 80’s was captured perfectly in The Perfect Teresa. What kind of research did you do to get it right or did you pull from experience?

So I guess I’ll date myself and say that a lot of the stuff in this novel is from experience and memory because I did attend high school in the late 80s! It was a fun process to re-discover 1988 New York City, and it involved everything from getting back in touch with childhood friends through Facebook, to doing lots of searches on Google Images and Google Maps. My old buddies really helped me piece together our old neighborhood (like remembering the Susan Terry store on the corner of Ditmars and 31st Street), while Google Maps helped me walk through some old haunts and rediscover old landmarks. The other big part of this process was music. I love music, and in 1988 I was really big into the underground metal scene. So just being able to put these playlists together and listen to these old metal and 80s pop songs really helped me situate the story. You can find a YouTube link to this unofficial soundtrack for the story on my website!

Teresa’s character is intriguing and well developed. She can’t move forward and is trapped in this sad, drunken life where happiness eludes her. What was your inspiration for her character?

Thank you! In some ways, Teresa embodies a lot of the self doubt and self sabotage that I’ve had to overcome throughout my life. But in many ways, her character was inspired by Bill Murray’s character in Groundhog Day, which I think is the one of the great stories about personal redemption through service to others. Like his character, Teresa starts off very unlikeable, very self-centered, and, as you said in your review, unwilling to take accountability for her actions. She’s got a long history of dumb, self-destructive tendencies, and she never wants to acknowledge that this is why her life is in ruins. But I wanted her story to be about self-discovery, and about realizing that her selfish actions have real consequences for others. So like Murray’s character, she has to learn through this new experience that there are things more important than a silly talent show, and that there’s real happiness in providing help and happiness to others. I hope that by the story’s end, we find her journey plausible and redeeming.

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

I’m working on two projects. One is a new time-travel sci-fi series tentatively called Quality Jones and the Time Keepers. But I’ve also started work on the sequel to The Perfect Teresa, titled The Perfect Vicente. I’m hoping to publish one of the other by the end of the year!

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

The Perfect TeresaTeresa’s gotten over the embarrassment of a humiliating high school talent show performance. After all, she’s now 43 and only thinks about the experience once or twice a day.

Lucky for her, an unemployed Aztec deity applying for Quetzalcoatl’s Trickster Department offers to grant Teresa her wish. He’ll send her back to 1988 to re-do the talent show! Catch? There’s no catch! After all, he’s a fully licensed deity with a Masters in Temporal Displacement Theory and a bachelors in Trickster Sciences and Cosmic Mischief. Besides, a talking coyote can be trusted, right?

For Teresa, it seems like the chance of a lifetime. But she soon finds that changing the past won’t be as easy as she thought, especially without Wikipedia. And that in a desperate effort to make her life better, she might end up making things much, much worse.

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Falling in Love with the Steampunk Sub-Genre

Wolfgang Edwards Author Interview

Wolfgang Edwards Author Interview

The University of Corporeal and Ethereal Studies is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a science fiction, paranormal, and fantasy as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?

My idea for The University of Corporeal and Ethereal Studies began when I was falling in love with the Steampunk sub-genre and I knew I wanted to write a series of short stories set in a fantastic, fictional university with the themes of sci-fi and fantasy that are often seen in Steampunk. As I was developing the stories I quickly realized that I wanted to incorporate paranormal and horror elements in order to give the book a darker edge. I was also in the midst of reading a lot of H.P. Lovecraft, which has certainly had an influence on my writing.

The story is divided into a number of different perspectives from each character. What was the inspiration for your characters and what themes did you try to use?

It all started with my friends from college. I have been very to lucky to meet a lot of interesting and diverse people with a wide variety of backgrounds and studies, which inspired me to write about a cast of characters who are all very different, but still wind up becoming the best of friends. The deeper themes of these characters wrestling with inner demons and overcoming fears and flaws actually stemmed from my own darker thoughts and fears, and over the years of writing and editing, the characters also took on lives of their own, evolving into the people you see in the final draft.

The University is an intriguing place that rivals Hogwarts and begs to be explored. How did you set about creating this imaginative world?

As a child I was definitely inspired by J.K. Rowling, so there is an element of Hogwarts about the University, but primarily this world began when I was actually in college and shortly afterward. I was – and continue to be – amazed by the latest breakthroughs in science and the fantastic expressions of artists of all mediums. As I began brainstorming ideas for a Steampunk University I could not help but imagine impossible, dark twists on real studies of arts and sciences. The world that the University is situated in is even more exotic, as it is inspired by the rich diversity of our own real world, as well as history and of course, sci-fi and fantasy elements from a life as a bookworm.

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

The sequel to The University of Corporeal and Ethereal Studies is still in the first draft stage. I have it all outlined and I am plugging away at writing it, one day at a time. The characters from The University will be traveling abroad – but I am not done with the University itself. I have an anthology book in mind with another variety of short stories set at the University, exploring more of the dark and creative studies there. The first sequel is undoubtedly at least a year or two away, but I am working on it as fast as I can. I am very excited to share my writing with my friends, family and anyone who enjoys sci-fi, fantasy and paranormal fiction.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website | Facebook | Twitter

The University of Corporeal and Ethereal Studies (Students of Madness Book 1) by [Edwards, Wolfgang]At the University of Corporeal & Ethereal Studies meddling with unknown powers can be dangerous work. Courses in arts and sciences experiment with supernatural forces to solve the mysteries of the universe, but when school projects go awry, the students may discover more than they would like to about the madness of the cosmic ‘Beyond’.

Eight interwoven stories follow students whose school work, social lives and inner demons crash together, leading to fantastic and horrible experiences, supernatural powers, and a fuller understanding of the dark depths of their world.

Classes include subjects such as time travel, alchemy, oneironautics, psychedelic transformation, rogue automatons, cosmic ghosts, reality-warping crystals, and more.

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Literary Titan Book Awards June 2017

The Literary Titan Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and we are proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.

Literary Titan Gold Book Award

Gold Award Winners

Deity's Soulmate (The Goddess Training Trilogy Book 1) by [Kerner, Angelina]I'm With You by [Frost, Allie]See Me Forever by [Oriel, Susann]

The Fugitive's Trail (The Sean Kruger Series Book 1) by [Fields, J.C.]End of Knighthood Part I: The Chess Pieces (Reverence Book 2) by [Landeros, Joshua]The Perfect Teresa by [Silva, Ulises]

The Last Train (Detective Hiroshi Series Book 1) by [Pronko, Michael]Einstein's Fiddle by [Smith, W.A.]

Literary Titan Silver Book Award

Silver Book Award

Dining and Driving with Cats - Alice Unplugged by [Patterson, Pat]The University of Corporeal and Ethereal Studies (Students of Madness Book 1) by [Edwards, Wolfgang]False Gods (The Sentinel Book 2) by [Ramos, Yolanda]

Another Summer by [Lilley, Sue]Globes Disease by [Keeble, Lance]Barrow of the Damned by [Drake, Jonathan J.]

A Burning in The Darkness by [McGrath, A P]Sins of the Father (Larkin and Colt Book 3) by [Cressman, Ken]The False Prophet (Stonegate Book 2) by [Fox, Harry James]

“For me, books are important because they feed the imagination. Books can be portals to incredible worlds and thrilling adventures or a mirror to real life, and they offer unique perspectives through diverse characters, voices, and stories.” – Allie Frost, author of I’m With You

Visit the Literary Titan Book Awards page to see award information and see all award winners.

Embraced In His Nature

Charles Sims Author Interview

Charles Sims Author Interview

Into The Liquor Store follows Bink, a graffiti artist and connoisseur of cannabis, through a series of life events set against a dystopian future. What was your inspiration for this creative novel?

When I started writing the novel, it was supposed to be an autobiographical movie. Then I decided to have the events take place in the future; mostly so that I wouldn’t get in trouble with my family. With hesitation I let my mother read the first chapter, and she suggested I write it as a book instead. I even reached out to an Iranian graffiti artist who goes by A1one (Alone) and he gave me some encouraging words. Bink makes a reference about him in the novel as well.

Bink’s character slowly builds throughout the novel and ends up being a fairly deep person. What were the themes you used when creating his character?

I focused on Bink’s trajectory and growth. The last thing I wanted was a one dimensional character. He relies heavily on his connections, he has flaws, and towards the end he’s redeemed to an extent. I didn’t want Bink to be Mr. Perfect, and I wanted the people who interact with him to hold him accountable.

The novel is set in a dystopian future earth where graffiti is a regulated art form and taggers are well respected. Where did this idea start for you and how did it develop as you wrote?

In the prologue we start to see Bink’s love for the 21st century, 2010 through 2019 to be exact, embraced in his nature. He refers to it as a classic era. So I imagine there must be galleries that depict street art in the same light as the Renaissance. Art and specifically painting, I feel will be around forever.

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

The next book is still being developed. I can’t say much about it, but it will take place in the same universe as Into The Liquor Store. It will focus on the behind the scenes work of the government. The movie adaptation, of the same name, is being completed and soon my collaborator and I will send it to contests.

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook

Into The Liquor Store

The worst has yet to happen to Le’roy, of Egyptian and Russian decent, when his girlfriend of three years breaks up with him; dealing with the conflicting societies of a 23rd century Iran, he often feels nostalgia for a century to which he was not born.

Le’roy, an artist who abstains from tobacco and alcohol, bombards his mind with vices such as: lust, marijuana, and psychedelics. He must come to terms with his heightened status of celebrity and the fact that a lottery can enhance his lifestyle, but a vision transcends a lifetime.

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Across the Realm: When Two Tribes Go To War

Across the Realm Book 2: When two tribes go to war (The Across the Realm Series)

The war between the North and the South has made its way to the Arab Territories. Theoretically allied with the North, they instead decide to put up a forcefield to sequester themselves and block the Southern fighters.  The Arab Territories quickly realize that their enemies in the South are much stronger, smarter, and more dangerous than they ever suspected. The war for the South to take Pearson Station in space continues to rage on, as both sides try to develop technologies to protect themselves and exploit their enemy’s weaknesses.  Despite being spread between more than one fighting front, the South proves to be a formidable enemy for everyone that falls in their cross-hairs. 

Across the Realm, Book 2: When Two Tribes Go To War by Isobel Mitton is the second in the Across The Realm series. After finishing the first one, I couldn’t wait to get hold of the second one and jump right in. It did not disappoint. Because there was less backstory to set up in the second book, things moved at an even faster pace than in Book 1, keeping me flipping the pages long past bedtime.

The Arab Territories are a part of this book, and I felt like the presentation of the people living there was a bit negative. A lot of Islamic beliefs are addressed in it, and I felt like they were largely being treated as backwards beliefs, rather than legitimate religious beliefs. I didn’t find this to be an overwhelming feeling, however, and it did a wonderful job illustrating the differences between the characters in the Arab Territories, versus the rest of the North and the South.

One of my favorite parts of the series is the skill with which Ms. Mitton creates differences between the characters in various parts of the realm. Each type of character is distinct. Although some characters are purely good, there are a number of characters that I both loved and hated in full measure in different parts of the book. Her ability to paint three dimensional characters that are incredibly realistic in their flaws and their strengths is part of what makes the book so addictive.

Another strength of the book is the way no one side is being treated as wholly the bad guy. It’s presented primarily as the warring sides not understanding one another, and not understanding each other’s ways, being the source of the primary problem. Both sides believe in the other’s inhumanity and are unable to comprehend their actions and behaviors. Even as they capture and examine one another, they are not looking for the common humanity between them, but rather seek to locate the other’s weaknesses.

All in all, this has been a great series to read so far. The book kept plowing ahead, gaining energy rather than losing it. Though I have not read a great deal of science fiction in this past, the Across the Realm series is inspiring me to read more.

Pages: 256 | ASIN: B01MUHOLM3

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Across The Realm: Life Always Finds A Way

Across The Realm: Life Always Finds A Way (Across The Realm Series Book 1) by [Mitton, Isobel]

More than six centuries in the future, the northern and southern hemispheres have divided. Between them rages a bitter feud that has lasted for centuries and left them in a constant state of war. Both believe their technology superior, but one of them is very wrong.

Southern Askari Naledi and northen  Commander Gregory Douglas encounter one another, and their fates entwine, leaving confused feelings and split loyalties. A tale of war, bravery, love, trust and betrayal comes together to bring about more violence between the hemispheres than ever before. As both sides play a game attempting to learn more about the other, they do a very dangerous dance.

The first thing I want to say about this book is that it blew away all my expectations. I don’t read a lot of science fiction, and though this one sounded interesting, I still had my reservations. My reservations were not well founded, and the book was an absolute pleasure to read. The story Ms. Mitton has weaved together is an intense, can’t-put-it-down ride through an advanced civilization 600 years in the future.

The writing was excellent, something I really treasure in a book. It can make all the difference between an okay book and a great book, and this one was definitely a great book. There was a balanced mixture of well written, easy to follow prose, accented with the terminologies that qualify the book as science fiction. In the first few pages, I felt a little overwhelmed with the unexplained terms, but once I got into the meat of the book, all the confusion was cleared up.

The characters were very well developed, each one having their own personalities and quirks.  Because of the unfamiliar names, it was a bit difficult to keep up with who was “mated” with who in the southern hemisphere, but I didn’t find that to be terribly distracting. There were also a lot of characters, but I didn’t feel as though that was a drawback, as it can be in some books.

There were themes of homosexuality in the book as well, which I commend the author for. I thought the potentially touchy subject was approached confidently and handled deftly. Also, boldly written in was stereotypes many people in today’s world still continue to believe in, particularly in regards to race and ethnicity.  I felt the book had social commentary on racist views that still exist in some people, immersed in a page turning science fiction novel set in the distant future.

From what I can discern, this is Isbobel Mitton’s first novel, and it showcases her talent wonderfully. The story was compelling, in places heart pumping, and always beautifully written. This book is the first in a series, and the second book is in publication as well. I’m certainly going to be buying it and reading it immediately, I must know what happens next!

I cannot recommend Across The Realm highly enough, for both lovers of science fiction and people who do not typically read it.

Pages: 343 | ASIN: B017FGWR2A

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H.A.L.F.

The Deep Beneath (H.A.L.F., #1)

H.A.L.F by Natalie Wright tells the story of H.A.L.F 9, a Human-Alien Life Form that escapes from the military facility where he was created. During the course of his escape, H.A.L.F 9 meets teenagers, Erika, Jack and Ian, with whom he strikes up a friendship. Among other abilities, H.A.L.F 9 has extreme telekinetic and telepathic powers which make him a valuable asset to the government and one that they are not willing to lose. The government, claiming ownership of H.A.L.F 9’s life, sets out to retrieve him. Having no human technology that can match H.A.L.F 9’s power, they have to enlist a force stronger and more cunning than even H.A.L.F 9 is prepared to face.

Right from the start of the book the characters are likable and relatable. Even though the first couple of chapters were a bit confusing, each one was intriguing enough to make me want to keep reading. It isn’t immediately obvious how the characters in the first chapters are related to one another, but once you do discover the connection the direction of the story makes perfect sense. The writing is actually done very well for a Young Adult novel; which the book appears to be, as all the main characters are teenagers. I was very surprised at how each chapter really kept me on the edge of my seat; my interest in finishing the book never waned. Most books have at least a few chapters that are somewhat slow but I didn’t find this to be the case with H.A.L.F., it kept a great pace and remained interesting throughout. I think the struggle within H.A.L.F 9 between his alien and human personalities were done incredibly well. Having spent hardly any time at all actually interacting with humans on a personal level, he isn’t quite sure what to make of the new feelings that he experiences outside of the facility. For instance, there is a moment at which he finds himself wanting Jack to feel pain, even though he can acknowledge that Jack has never done anything to deserve his ill will. H.A.L.F 9 isn’t able to recognize that he feels this way toward Jack because of Jack’s romantic involvement with Erika, whom H.A.L.F 9 is also developing romantic feelings towards. I also appreciated how this aspect of the characters relationships is subtle and not the focus of any particular chapter in the story. Sometimes Young Adult fiction does not have a good balance of romance to substance but this book does not have that problem.

Natalie Wright does an excellent job with the element of surprise. I don’t want to give any spoilers so I will just say that in several places throughout the book the outcome that I was imagining is not at all what came to pass. I eagerly await the next installment of this series.

Pages: 293 | ASIN: B00R6U32CA

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Protector of Thristas

Protector of Thristas: A Lisen of Solsta Novel

Hart St. Martin takes us back to the lands of Garla and Thristas in Protector of Thristas, a novel that takes place fifteen years after the tumultuous One Day War. Rinli is the daughter of Korin and Lisen, and due to a prophecy created at her birth, she’s destined to be the Protector of the desert land of Thristas. While trying to guide Rinli on her path to becoming Protector, Lisen is faced with something far more challenging than ever before: she must do everything in her power to gain her teenage daughter’s long-lost sense of trust.

After becoming so invested in the Lisen of Solsta trilogy, I was thrilled to grab a copy of Protector of Thristas. There’s nothing I enjoy more than watching a fantasy world evolve over generations. Lisen and Korin have three children – Rinli, Nasera, and Insenlo – but Rinli is the only one who has a prophecy that she must fulfill.

Through highly emotional moments in the novel, the story definitely emulates how exhausting it is for the whole family when they are all separated. The story jumps between Avaret (the city where Lisen rules as Empir of Garla) and Thristas, where Rinli is required to stay for periods of time. The two lands have a very tense relationship, which forced Lisen to designate Rinli as the Protector of Thristas in an attempt to resolve these issues. As a result, Rinli and Korin must travel between the two lands several times a year.

As a sucker for romantic subplots, I loved seeing how fifteen years of marriage has impacted Korin and Lisen – due to the constant traveling on Korin’s end, they’ve grown even closer than they were in the first trilogy. Their bond even causes Korin to develop psychic-like powers, where he can sense when something bad is happening to Lisen or Rinli.

One of my favorite things about this novel is how Rinli has Lisen’s stubbornness and Korin’s perceptiveness, and her development throughout the novel kept the story captivating and fun. Something that separates her from her mother is that Rinli has an affinity for the desert land of Thristas, and her loyalty to Thristas is compounded by her close relationship with Madlen, her most trusted companion. She is especially resistant to the idea that she has her mother’s magic abilities, and this gets her into trouble at a few points in the novel.

Themes of forgiveness and trust pop up throughout the novel, highlighting the tense mother-daughter relationship between Lisen and Rinli. Hart weaves this tension throughout the entire plot, bringing the reader closer to these characters. Lisen can’t forgive herself for sentencing Rinli to her fate as the Protector of Thristas, while Rinli struggles to trust her mother. When Rinli discovers she may need her mother’s wisdom in order to understand her responsibility as a Protector, the two begin to develop a relationship.

Protector of Thristas is an emotional rollercoaster, to say the least, and it’s a breath of fresh air in a sea full of action-forward fantasy novels. As entrenched in fantasy as it is, this novel does a beautiful job of capturing raw human emotions of happiness, anger, sadness, anxiety, and fear, especially when dealing with challenging mother-daughter relationships and the connections between a parent and a child. The cliffhanger ending left me feeling some of those emotions myself, and I can’t wait to see if Hart will continue sharing more adventures from this world.

Pages: 452 | ASIN: B01E7NYLRI

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