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A Portion of Malice

A Portion of Malice by Lloyd Jeffries is the first book of the Ages of Malice series and presents an intriguing concept that mixes fantasy, history and religion.

Hopeless Emery Merrick is ready to end his life, but destiny has something else in store for him. At what he thought was the last moments of his life, he meets a strange and commanding man. He’s not a complete stranger though: Thaddeus Drake, famous global figure, has made a name for himself as a peacemaker and now has a once in a lifetime proposal for Emery: to write his biography. Soon Emery finds out Drake’s darkest secret, an unimaginable reality that will change the course of his life forever. When proof comes out about ancient biblical stories having truly occurred, and we find out that some of the people that were part of those stories are still alive as a punishment from God, the intrigue of the book increases exponentially, bringing something unique and enigmatic to the table.

From the beginning of this darkly alluring novel the characters introduced were intriguing, since each of them held some darkness hidden in their pasts: immortality, cruelty and power. Immortals roam the Earth, and the most vicious seem to be the ones with the most ambition. Throughout the story readers meet figures that they’ll recognize from Bible stories; and I was always excited to see them because I was interested in seeing this particular author’s take on those characters. As we see Cain himself attempt some sort of revenge against God, we see a clear representation of human greed and barbarism. Leading living members of the Roman Legion, Cain has a master plan to shape the human world as an act of defiance against God. I never knew where the storyline would go next, the creativity imbued in the plot is unparalleled in the occult thriller genre.

What is the fate of humanity? Cain has his own plan and is willing to commit the most atrocious crimes to reach it. The narration style lets the reader see through different timelines the evolution of these ruthless immortals. Jumping back and forth, we get to connect the dots, which makes for an engaging and intricate plot.

Though slow at times, the pacing of the story allows the readers to digest the depth of the ideas and the nuances of the characters. This is a visionary story with a fantastically strange aura of mystery. By the end, some reflection into the human psyche will be necessary to understand where these dark characters come from and where they’ll most likely be going in the next installments of the Ages of Malice series. I can’t wait.

Pages: 364 | ASIN: B0BG8ZPY7D

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The 5-Time Rejected Gamma & the Lycan King

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The 5-Time Rejected Gamma and the Lycan King, written by Stina’s Pen, will have you sucked in in no time. Gamma Lucianne Freesia Paw has been rejected 5 times but ends up being bonded once more. This time to the lycan king. Lucianne wants to end the bond as quickly as possible to avoid any heartbreak, but King Xandar does not. He is hurt and confused about why she wants to end things immediately. He manages to convince her to give him a chance. Xandar does everything in his power to show her that he loves her and is afraid of losing her. Lucianne and Xandar get to know each other as the days go on during the collaboration. Lucianne being the top Gamma of her species, helps teach the wolves and lycans how to fight in both of their forms. She quickly wins the hearts of many lycans, but not all. Some are downright murderously jealous.

This novel was long but absolutely phenomenal! I loved that the story took place over the course of 4 weeks and didn’t jump timelines so much. The only time it moved forward in time was at the end, but that helped the book come to a fantastic conclusion. The plot of the story was fantastic, but that plot twist got me! I did not see that coming at all.

Pen has created excellent characters that are fully developed and interesting. At times Xandar did seem a little too possessive, but I reminded myself that he is a fictional character and the lycan king. Of course, he was going to be so possessive of Lucianne because he loved her so much and wanted to protect her and felt like a failure anytime she got hurt. Lucianne was a spectacular character. I loved that the author shows that size doesn’t matter. It is all about your actions and words that can show people who you really are. Christian was a great supporting character, and his back story with his wife, Annie, was so sweet. Greg’s character ended up surprising me in the end. He changed a lot. I would say he had the most personal growth, but I do have some suspicions about him.

I hope this will not be the last I have read about Lucianne and Xandar. The 5-Time Rejected Gamma and the Lycan King quickly became one of my favorite novels. I loved that it was so long and had so much information and details. It made me feel so many emotions. I caught myself feeling angry at the characters, as well as happy and sad. I even laughed out loud quite a few times! I hope to read more by Stina’s Pen.

Pages: 743 | ASIN : B0B9R2JY8W

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Alike In All The Wrong Ways

Jerry F. Westinger Author Interview

A Bad Place to Be a Hero follows three people who by chance end up together and have to work together to survive, even when they don’t like each other. Where did the idea for this novel come from, and how did it develop over time?

“Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” is my favorite movie of all time, and I think a lot of those elements show in the book. From the very start, I wanted to create a cast of characters who are “alike in all the wrong ways”, and have to work through their differences as well as their own personal hangups to achieve a common goal. While the events that bring them together are random to an extent (since there wasn’t really another way you could force them to cooperate), I did also want to make it at least partly their own fault─so that all of them can feel like a victim in the situation, but can’t fully claim to be one.

Your characters are wonderfully emotive and relatable. Were you able to use anything from your own life to inform their character development?

There’s definitely a lot of me in both Corlis and Lokenn. Thessa is perhaps the farthest from me in temperament, but her conflict with Corlis was a great chance for me to do some reflection. Not sure how much of it stuck, but I do try to say “Thank you” more often.

Did you plan the tone and direction of the novel before writing or did it come out organically as you were writing?

The very first thing I pinned down about the novel was “Unlikely heroes save the world and no one thanks them”. I ended up narrowing the scope to a much more personal scale, but the overall tone is very much the same.

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

The direct sequel, A Bad Time to Meet the Family, is already in the works and will hopefully be ready for release in early 2023.

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads

“Compelling and complex ─ Loved it!” ─Reedsy Discovery

“There is no bigger bastard than a man who thinks he’s a hero.”

A young noblewoman has an unfortunate run-in with a werewolf on her engagement night.

A fugitive necromancer sets out to restore the reputation of his maligned art.

An innkeeper nurses a dying aunt amidst rapidly mounting debts.

And around them all, a dirty city hides a web of even dirtier secrets.

Welcome to New Montres.

If you think a mystery fantasy with a gritty feel sounds like it ticks a lot of your boxes, I think you’ll love this!
Shai Palmer, Reedsy Discovery

A Man For All Seasons

Author Karina McRoberts brings a unique style of storytelling in her book A Man For All Seasons. This fascinating book is a beautiful work of science fiction and includes an enthralling account of Vidor’s mission to conserve nature from those who want to destroy it for their own benefit. Vidor and his two animal friends work in sync to make a meaningful contribution to saving nature and nature’s creations.

McRoberts is persuasive in her writing. She leads the book in a unique setting with extraordinary characters; for example, a raven who talks and thinks like a human and understands climate change is an interesting character. As a reader, one can appreciate the clarity she presents with her storytelling – the characters’ personalities, how they communicate, the background, and other small details that bring them to life. A Man For All Seasons is filled with relatable dialogue between characters, which adds appeal to readers, allowing them to fall in love with the plot and the setting. Parts of this captivating novel are reminiscent of other sci-fi movies and Disney animated films that are well known in pop culture.

One notable thing about this novel is the length of the chapters. McRoberts keeps the chapters short and sweet. One can move to the next chapter with a breeze and finish the book in one sitting. Overall a quick read and challenging to put down.

The friendship between Vidor and Clarissa is precious, and so are the animal characters. In Vidor’s plan to save nature from destruction at the hands of humanity, he also makes an effort to give dying people dignified death, which is so heart-touching. There are good guys and bad guys in this book, and the ending is justified. This book will appeal to readers across genres with a not-so-usual plot and a fantastic cast of characters.

Pages: 121 | ASIN : B09QVTXS77

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A Bad Place to Be a Hero 

Thessa Kalou is facing the fact that she is supposed to get married but is unhappy with the man that has been chosen for her. Lokenn Mar Enae is on his way to New Montres to start his life over, but that’s easier said than done. Corlis Andassi is an innkeeper with a surly aunt he can’t let go of. Thessa, Lokenn, and Corlis meet during trying times. They don’t know each other very well, but they soon realize their fate is entwined. They end up working together, but things don’t always go according to plan… but sticking together is a must.

A Bad Place to Be a Hero by Jerry F. Westinger is an intense and thrilling read that will make it hard for you to put the book down. Westinger immerses the reader in the story with rich, vivid scenes and exquisite world-building. The tension slowly builds as each character faces obstacles in their lives that they have to sort out whether they like it or not. There is never a dull moment with them, and you are also wondering if they are going to figure it out.

The story moves at a smooth pace, and the author seamlessly moves from one character to the next. The chapters are told from the perspective of the characters, which is a pleasant treat because you get to know the characters and their reasons for their actions. In addition, the author has created many challenging situations for the characters to get out of, making this an unpredictable read that will have you wondering just how they will get out of this predicament.

The secondary characters are well thought out, such as Porla, the coach driver, Addie, the barmaid, and others add flare to the story. Most of the time, the lead characters are at odds with each other, but you don’t mind because it’s entertaining. It’s hard to criticize a wonderfully written story rich in detail! I recommend A Bad Place to Be a Hero to all fantasy book lovers. This is a story many will love and enjoy.

Pages: 336 | ASIN : B09RTKL85Z

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Hidden By The Dark

In the small, sleepy town of Pine Creek, Sheriff Owen Cross and Deputy Madison Colby must find a serial killer lurking in the forest. It’s a secluded mountain-side forest that’s regarded with superstition by the locals after a mining accident kills hundreds of people. The locals say the devil lives in that forest, and it may just be so. Author J.C. Moore tells a haunting story of a monster that lures people into the forest never to come out alive. Hidden by the Dark is a chilling tale of carved-up cadavers and mutilated bodies.

The concept of Moore’s story is creative and interesting. In a way, it almost reads like a traditional ghost story you would tell around a campfire. The “thing in the woods” is a great, old-fashioned retelling that has inspired many great stories and is a great concept for stand-alone horror story books.

The beginning of the story spends ample time methodically setting up the backdrop, scene, and characters with specific details that gives readers a complete picture of the eerie ambiance and interesting cast. Readers who enjoy diving into the specifics of the characters’ lives will enjoy the detailed introduction to Owen and Madison’s daily routine.

While I enjoyed the story, I felt that the dialogue was repetitive at certain points, but could be due to the nature of the story and them simply just wanting more information. I also felt like the characters needed more unique qualities to make it easy for readers to differentiate between them when they pop up in the story.

I enjoyed the detective scenes in the story that provided a bit of a police procedural vibe to this supernatural thriller. A good example of this is when Madison and Owen are at the coroner’s office looking for a full autopsy report the day of the murder.

Hidden By The Dark is a meticulous paranormal crime fiction story that gradually leads readers into a haunting story with an eerie plot and an ominous mystery.

Pages: 225 | ASIN: B0B1L7Z9QL

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The Curse – Book Trailer

Set in the world of the Breedline—a secret species of humans born with the power to shape-shift into wolves—The Curse tells the story of a young boy, Joseph, who, grieving over his mother’s death at the hands of his abusive father, finds his world turned upside down. While his father awaits sentencing, Joseph is placed into the system, going from one foster family to another. And just when things couldn’t get any worse, an evil entity invades his body, introducing itself as the Shadow.

Twenty-one years later, this mysterious demonic spirit continues to inhabit Joseph’s body and manipulates his mind, luring him toward something dark and sinister, something that is beyond his control.

Carrie Randall, a substance abuse counselor who is unsuccessful at dating, comes face-to-face with death when two men approach her in a dark alley. Amid her assault, something resembling a werewolf, comes to her rescue in the nick of time. As she tries to process everything, unsure if what she witnessed was real or fantasy, her world suddenly collides with a handsome stranger as though they were somehow brought together by fate.

Despite her past relationships, Carrie finds herself spellbound, falling for Joseph Parker, a handsome, yet mysterious, journalist who works for an esteemed newspaper in Berkeley, California. But when Carrie discovers his terrifying secrets, she begins to fear for her life.

Now, Carrie is forced to make the hardest decision of her life. She can turn her back on Joseph, or stay and help him fight the demon who desires her soul.

Open To The Anguish Of Mortals

S. Faxon Author Interview

Origins: The Blue Dragon Society follows a shape-shifting boy who has to decide if he will fulfill his destiny or let his hate exile him. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I studied international human rights throughout my collegiate career and had several opportunities to see children and teens from countries and ethnic groups that did not get along. And from a very young age they were taught to hate each other, but there was one moment I saw, which will stay with me for the rest of my days. I was working and living in the single building Manhattan Campus of St. John’s University; it was late night and I was working on reports and I kept hearing children laughing and screaming on the floors below me. There were summer programs happening where students from various countries, countries that did not get along, were learning English. Initially, I thought the students were bullying each other, so I looked over the railing of the terrace where I was working and I was just about to get after at them, when I realized what they were doing – they were playing hide and seek. Hardly any of them could openly communicate with each other because they didn’t share languages, but they were laughing and playing together. They ranged in ages from eight to fourteen and they were just having the time of their lives. It’s been ten years since that happened and I’m getting emotional typing about it now because of how powerful that was to see. With Owen, I wanted to write something that showed if you just take a moment to get to know someone from another culture or ethnic group, you’ll see that we have far more in common than not. Those children bonded over playtime and as Owen grows, he will see that there are far more reasons for us to work together than against one another. This theme will continue into the sequel as well.

Owen faces many moral challenges and experiences of growth in this novel. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

When I initially wrote this story, I knew I wanted a troubled teen as the main character as I wanted to introduce my readers to this world, which will very much continue to grow, through the lenses of someone narrow minded. That way, as his perspective grew through his experiences, my readers would be able to grow into the world with him. I knew I wanted him to be in mourning, but when I initially wrote the first draft, it was his father who had passed, not his mother. Then I had a conversation with fantasy author David Green who mentioned how in fantasy stories, so many characters have a daddy complex in our genre. So I flipped the table; I wanted a young man who was closer with his mother and who lost her. I lost my grandmother who raised me when I was sixteen, and while I genuinely don’t remember much of the year that followed, what I do remember was anguish – feeling lost and feeling angry. The feeling of having my world ripped away from me, so I wanted to put those emotions in Owen and then put him in situations where he’d have to create his own conclusions and make his own choices based on his loss at an early age. While the Blue Dragons are noble in their missions, they are blinded by their intent to pursue the greater good which Owen realizes may lead to more trouble than good. Even though he initially hated humans, through his recent loss Owen’s eyes are far more open to the anguish of mortals than his fellow dragons.

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

I didn’t want a “simple” good vs evil story. I’ve studied enough international conflicts to know it’s not usually that simple, which is why the story starts with the antagonist. There is no doubt that Anton is the “bad guy,” and while his parents are neglectful and abusive, he is given a choice and his choice has many affects, some of which we haven’t even seen yet.

At its simplest, Origins is a coming of age story where young individuals are finding their place in a world that is bigger than them and deciding if they want to serve others or themselves. This theme of choice will continue into the next installments of the Blue Dragon Society as well.

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

I have a couple of books in the pipeline right now; my business partner and I have a guide for authors entitled, How to Become A Successful Author and Not Loose Your Mind, which is launching mid to late July of 2022. The sequel to Origins, The Road to Dova, will be launching in October of 2022. And I’m currently publishing two episodes a week of an urban fantasy entitled Blood Lords via Kindle’s Vella, which is about a young woman who is being hunted by a corrupted vampire lord.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | TikTok | Website | Instagram

In the Lands of Baradesh, some people make deals with the damned, others choose to fight back. What will Owen choose?

The shape-shifting members of the Blue Dragon Kingdom have long intervened when chaos befalls mortals. While he knows this tradition is an integral part of his community, Owen hates humans for killing his mother. But the only way to take his place in his dragon society is to help mortals against a new threat; vampires. If Owen refuses the mission, he will be exiled.

In this dark fantasy tale, will Owen overcome his hatred to help the humans fight vampires, or will he choose exile and the destruction of all humankind?
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