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The Correction

The Correction, by John Hazen, is the fascinating tale of a supernatural gift passed on from generation to generation, following the course of history and the characters’ life up to the narrator’s life. Joseph Vance, the narrator’s voice, leads us through his ancestors’ good and bad corrections and takes us through his life, where many obstacles will be placed on his way, but he’s not completely alone in overcoming them.

Hazen writes beautifully with vivid descriptions and insights on the characters’ feelings and thoughts. He manages to keep a fast pace all the way through the story. While time travel stories can get fanciful, I appreciated how grounded this supernatural thriller was which ensures that the story, and the characters, are relatable.

If you’re a reader that appreciates the details in a story, then you can certainly appreciate all the effort put in to fully flesh out these complex characters. Each has an important role to play in the story, and the dialogue and interactions with each one or subtle yet compelling. I was surprised to find to some impassioned commentary on social issues woven throughout the story. Issues like racism are addressed and provide an opportunity to really understand who are characters are and test them in some morally intriguing ways.

While I heartily enjoyed this science fiction drama, I had to get a few chapters into the novel before I felt I was sure I knew where this story was going. But diving into Joseph Vance’s life felt authentic and compelling and was something I eventually looked forward to.

The Correction, by John Hazen is a supernatural thriller that feels like it was written by Stephen King. With fully realized characters and a well-conceived and engaging plot, this was a historical thriller that kept surprising me. If you enjoy a good dramatic thriller, then I highly recommend this stimulating book.

Pages: 254 | ASIN: B094SRYXMV

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Loved by Night: Trapped in the Triangle of Love

Loved by Night by Mildred Osei-Diko, is a fast-paced sensual fantasy novel about a forever war between vampires and werewolves, told through the eyes of Rebeka, an orphan girl, and her connection with four very different brothers, Stan, Nicholas, Antoli and Rikah. Each of them is forced to make terrible sacrifices to protect their family and the people they have come to love.

The engaging character-driven plot locks us into an intriguing world where vampires and werewolves are at war. Their savage war was sparked by the brother’s actions, and the dilemmas these characters face to survive.

I really enjoyed how Osei-Diko beautifully captures the frustration felt by orphaned Rebeka as she dreams of moving far away from the drudgery of her village life. In contrast, the four brothers, Stan, Nicholas, Antoli and Rikah are portrayed as living a care-free life growing up, practicing the combat skills their father had taught them. The brothers were born 1000 years ago, which gives this novel a vague but interesting historical aspect. The brother’s lives are changed forever in one traumatic night when the horror of their true natures is revealed. These invigorating twists and revelations come without warning and certainly keep readers on their edge of their seats. In the same way, there is a shocking revelation about Rebeka’s identity in the final battle, but I don’t want to ruin the ending, so I’ll just say the book has some wild twists.

The existence of these two warring is woven into the storyline slowly and makes really comes to fruition later in the novel. I did enjoy the backstory scenes which describe the terrible dilemmas that the four brothers face as they try and balance respect for human life, sexual attraction, and their need to feed. When Rebeka meets Stan, Nicholas and Antoli in a modern-day restaurant, the author cleverly contrasts her old life with their world of fierce fighting, luxury, and sexual power battles.

Rebeka falls almost instantly in love with Nicholas which will appeal to ardent romance fans that enjoy the genres tropes. The vampires are portrayed as sexually voracious and Rebeka is a willing ingenue and their is an alluring intimacy, but I wanted to explore it deeper and see their mutual desire for each other be drawn out. Why would Nicholas and Rebeka be so attracted to another at first sight if they come from opposite factions? What’s given is captivating, which makes me want to know more about their backstory.

I’m not sure if this is a warning or an invite, but I will say there are some erotic scenes and violence that will appeal to readers who enjoy provocative storytelling. Loved by Night is a fast-paced paranormal romance novel, with a page-turning plot that will appeal to readers of erotic romance and mainstream vampire and werewolf fantasy readers.

Pages: 103 | ASIN: B08LH6VCL6

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The Gauntlet of Pong Wu

Nicholas Powter’s The Gauntlet of Pong Wu is a tragic story of love, family, and treachery. Set in the mystical land of Pong Wu, this story follows the life of Antatirgo, a local chief’s daughter. While the story begins with two warriors dueling for her hand in marriage, things soon take an apocalyptic turn.

Demons invade her village and she is tragically separated from her sister Wytgo. In a last-ditch attempt to save herself and find her sister, she lets a demon possess her after he promises to help her. Ultimately, this decision takes her down a dangerous path, one of pain and unexpected challenges.

As expected from a story with gods, angels, and demons, a lot of the language used in this book is quite unique – this particular story posses a flair for horrid descriptions and uses a lot of old English terms. While this adds authenticity to the spellbinding narrative that immerses you in the well-crafted world, I think it can be overwhelming at times. While the dialogue is substantive and sincere, delivering much of the emotional impact of the novel, I felt it was ponderous at times and ti was hard to nail down who was talking.

These minor quibbles aside, the plot of The Gauntlet of Pong Wu driving this riveting story forward is absolutely enthralling and sets up some very impactful scenes that will stay with you long after you’ve put the book down. The author has a way of always keeping you on your toes. This epic paranormal fantasy novel expertly depicts how much one is willing to endure for the love of family. I really enjoyed the ending to this dark fantasy novel as well, it is quite tragic and unpredictable, and left me with a lot of mixed feelings, which I think is what a good novel is supposed to do.

The Gauntlet of Pong Wu is an emotionally charged adventure novel with a rich backstory and fascinating characters that make it hard to put this book down.

Pages: 97 | ISBN: 198229065X

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The Steampunk Vampire Assassins

J.W. Zarek
J.W. Zarek Author Interview

The Devil Pulls the Strings follows a young man with uncontrollable panic attacks and time travelling abilities that send him on a race through time to capture a cursed melody. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

1) Honor the hero’s journey and infuse Slavic mythology and Baba Yaga in a modern day epic fantasy adventure.
2) Paganini’s association with the Devil.
3) The Rule of Three.
4) David Henry Sterry and Bonnie Solomon.

I wrote Chapter One Promise Me, because David Henry Sterry with The Book Doctors, read my first twenty-five pages, and said “You have to show the inciting incident, the joust, before Boone and Sapphire meet outside Stone’s brownstone.”

I wrote The Prologue, because Bonnie Solomon, Producer of Dreamworks’ SHREK and Walden’s THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA, read my story and said “You have to show both secret societies before the joust occurs.”

For awareness purposes, there wasn’t a prologue in the first draft. However, without Bonnie’s suggestion, I never would created the prophecy scroll, or incorporated the domovoi into this story, or shown upfront the centuries old war between two opposing secret societies, or revealed why the horn gets blown at the joust, or created Pep, the runt domovoi, or Laureus the Scottish Warrior Laureus, or Lahash and Zakun, the steampunk vampire assassins.

Boone is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

1) Failure is not an option for Boone because all he’s ever known his entire life is failure and setback.

Boone’s development throughout the story shows he turns moments of failure into the catalyst for his success.

2) Boone discovers as the story unfolds it’s possible to work with, power through and overcome a circumstance, a condition, a disease or disorder.

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

1) You can overcome insurmountable obstacles.
2) No one is defined by their circumstances, condition, disease, or disorder.
3) The power of a promise.
4) Everyone has a choice.

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

The next book Flynn’s Folly is a heist job gone wrong and its availability is TBD.

Author Links: Website | Amazon | Facebook

THE DEVIL PULLS THE STRINGS, described as The Librarians meet The Magicians is a 76,000-word epic fantasy adventure with series potential, set in modern-day Wentzville, MO, New York City, and 1813 Genoa, Italy, weaves bromance, Slavic mythology, secret societies, Paganini’s music and time travel.Boone Daniels (22) has problems, debilitating panic attack, gut-wrenching guilt, a wendigo haunting him since age six, and now he almost killed his best friend in a joust. But when he fills in for his injured friend at a New York gig, he goes to meet the gig’s contact at his NYC brownstone and a body falls from the brownstone balcony and the place explodes with gun fire.Boone barely escapes but uncovers a sinister plot to perform a rare Paganini piece that summons the Devil to trap Baba Yaga and destroy modern-day New York City. Then finds himself on a race through time to capture the cursed melody. Along the way, a Romani immortal, steampunk vampires and Baba Yaga set the stage for war, and Boone shall have to risk death for redemption. Because all Boone wants is to keep a promise to a friend. The same friend, he almost killed last Sunday during a joust.Can a small-town Missouri musician outplay the supernatural and save NYC’s soul? The Devil Pulls the Strings is the pulse-pounding first tale in the Archivists series. If you like when tortured heroes, epic battles, time travel, twisted history and secret societies collide, then you’ll love J. W. Zarek’s spectacular page-turner.

Around Curiosity’s Edge: Hidden Meridians

Around Curiosity's Edge: Hidden Meridians by [J.P. Hostetler]

Around Curiosity’s Edge: Hidden Meridians by J.P. Hostetler immerses the reader in an adventurous world of magic, intrigue, and mystery. Following a cast of characters varying in background and purpose, we’re able to learn about the in-depth universe of magic and its effects on reality. Our characters, including Fern, Ulysses, Salem, Roach, and more, find that they are interconnected in deep and spiritual ways. Our protagonists face off against the Regulats, who want to erase magical bloodlines and the potential power they hold to establish their own reign of control as the “superior species.” Along the way, we see that found family and selfless characters fight their way through strife despite the danger and loss that they face.

Around Curiosity’s Edge: Hidden Meridians emphasizes the idea that we’re able to create our own families. In this case, blood is not thicker than water—friends can be just as important and loving as familial ties. Salem experiences new life on the Curiosity, a ship where people travel by magical means. His friends, Zee and Jupiter, help him find comfort and peace in his new mystifying life. His uncle, Ulysses, spends his life on this ship and bonds with Salem as they come together and try to rebuild their family. Captain Fern reunites with his daughter and works to create a better world for his crew, the magical creatures of the world, and those he loves.

I loved the diverse approach to this story. Characters came from across the globe with rich, inspiring backgrounds rooted in varying identities. As they travel on perilous expeditions and encounter mystical creatures like frost giants and wyverns, each character brings an individual and exciting history to the table. As they battle against regulators who want to eliminate the myriad of talents and powers seen within our cast of characters, we see the power of individuality and perseverance.

While I enjoyed reading from several different points of view, sometimes it was difficult to keep track of the characters and I found myself rereading to make sure I knew what was happening in the story. As I got deeper in the book and grew more familiar with the characters, this problem disappeared. It’s worth taking some time to note who the characters are and what their stories entail throughout the book.

Around Curiosity’s Edge: Hidden Meridians by J.P. Hostetler is an inspiring and fantastical beginning to what feels like an incredible universe, and I’m so excited to see where the world will go. If you want to feel uplifted by an exciting story in a fantastical world, this is the perfect fantasy book for you.

Pages: 373 | ASIN: B093N1THPJ

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Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Thirteen by [Maria A. Palace]

Chapter Thirteen by Maria A. Palace is a riveting horror novel about losing love and finding it once again. Katy Burton is a young woman who lost both her mother and boyfriend within the same time frame. The grief behind these traumatic events was so powerful that she experienced nightmares several times. Maria A. Palace with a deeply intriguing and thrilling romance story that has a main character that, I think, any reader will be able to connect with, as I have.

Katy endures great pain, but she remains courageous in the face of some mystifying twists in the story and big reveals that will keep readers constantly on edge. She does not let the nightmares stop her from being the mother her daughter needed or being the town’s amazing news reporter. Being a good mother is a trait not often explored enough in horror or romance novels, as readers are often provided with strong but single women. Katy’s character has a lot of dimensions and depth because of these dual priorities. This alluring paranormal thriller takes Katy on a profound personal journey of self healing that is revealed in slow but fascinating ways which really elevates the tension. I liked how part of the closure she needed was found through the investigation of a news story, and I think this really gave the novel a lot of its momentum.

Chapter Thirteen by Maria A. Palace gives readers a rousing paranormal romance story with a dynamic main character and an amazing ending. Reading this story was incredibly enjoyable because I was able to live Katy’s life through her eyes. This narrative style provided plenty of opportunity to see how Katy tackled her trauma. This was a fantastically unpredictable paranormal thriller that uses a unique story to explore deep emotional trauma and how that affects the life of a very compelling character.

Pages: 267 | ASIN: B08ZHX9Z7N

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The Devil Pulls the Strings

The Devil Pulls the Strings by [J.W. Zarek, Peter Johnston, Susanne Purvis]

Confusion is the name of the game for poor Boone. Most of the time, he doesn’t know where he is, who he is talking to, or why he is there. Boone’s life is one strange adventure after another, but none of these adventures are planned. Boone Daniels is a time traveler and an unwilling one at that. A tragic event involving his best friend, Flynn, has placed Boone in the very awkward and frightening position of finding someone called “the Professor.” Nothing about his task is appealing, but Boone is not in a position to argue. He’s on a mission to make things right.

The Devil Pulls the Strings is an imaginative science fiction tale by J.W. Zarek. Main character, Boone Daniels, has happened upon his time-traveling abilities quite by accident, and he remains in a perpetual state of overwhelming confusion when his travels take him to one century and one part of the globe after another. While he is not thrilled at the idea of going to New York to take Flynn’s place in a gig, he knows he owes Flynn and owes him big.

Boone’s travels from place to place and time to time happen quickly–very quickly. Zarek has the book’s main character moving rapidly through time to complete the mission he has been given. Readers are treated to numerous tidbits of history as Boone races through time to prevent events he knows will occur. There seems to be nothing left out when it comes to major historical events, famous names, and easily recognizable points of interest. The blend of present-day Boone and time-traveling Boone make for an engaging storyline.

The first-person point of view really makes Zarek’s book a truly engaging adventure novel. Hearing Boone describe his apprehension and his insecurities in his own voice really make the story all the more relatable. He struggles with his strange gift, and he is in a constant battle trying to figure out which way is up and how to solve the never-ending puzzle before him.

The Devil Pulls the Strings is a wildly thrilling time travel adventure. Readers who love a good underdog will find Boone Daniels the perfect main character–his constant trepidation is endearing. Zarek’s unlikely time-traveling hero, Boone, brings an element of humor and normalcy to an otherwise magnificently spun urban fantasy adventure tale.

Pages: 252 | ASIN: B09435JJ67

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We All Have Some Darkness

Cassie Sanchez
Cassie Sanchez Author Interview

Chasing the Darkness follows an assassin who’s given magical powers which unlock suppressed memories that turn his world upside down. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

The inspiration for Azrael came from a video game called Overwatch that my boys played. One of the characters is an assassin named Reaper, who can teleport. In my first draft, Azrael’s name was Grim, but after a search for names from different sources, I came across Azrael, which means Angel of Death. I didn’t just want the typical assassin on a quest for revenge, which is why I added the side effect of the magic. An assassin that feels empathy is a liability, which leads to his betrayal and being dependent on those he’s hunted, forcing him to face the past, the unwanted emotions, and the vulnerability of caring for someone besides himself.

Azrael is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

During my writing and research, I found a quote by Plato: “For a man to conquer himself is the first and noblest of victories.” I love the anti-hero and the conflict of man vs. self, and for an assassin to conquer himself was an intriguing idea. I think we all have some darkness inside that we battle daily, and I wanted Azrael to be forced to deal with his darkness. Also, I learned from the Jerry Jenkins Guild about antagonists needing to be vulnerable (what he calls a “pet the dog moment”), and although Azrael wasn’t the antagonist, he still needed something to make him human, so to speak. Having an assassin cherish the sunrise, admiring its beauty, and the idea of starting new, brought a depth to Azrael that made him likable.

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

There were two underlying themes in Chasing the Darkness; redemption and forgiveness. Azrael in his quest for vengeance found redemption. His love interest, Kenz, who held onto bitterness and anger, learned forgiveness when she held Azrael’s life in her hand. These two themes allowed the characters to open themselves to the possibility of love.

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

I’m currently working on the sequel to Chasing the Darkness. I plan to have three books in this series, hoping to finish the sequel by the end of the year. It took me two years to complete the first, but I’m hoping to cut that time down so fans won’t have to wait too long between books.

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

Pain is inescapable. Suffering is a choice.
 
Azrael, the Angel of Death, has known his fair share of pain. Losing his mother and sister and forced to join the Watch Guard at the age of twelve, he becomes the most feared assassin in all of Pandaren. As a Hunter, he searches for those with magic, called Spectrals, but has his own agenda–destroying the Fire Spectral who altered the course of his life.

Azrael, obsessed with revenge and power, undergoes an experimental procedure that gives him magic, but unexpected side effects cause chaos, and he becomes a liability to the Hunters and the Watch Guard, for the Angel of Death cannot have a conscience.

Rescued by the people he has sworn to eliminate, Azrael finds himself questioning everything he once believed as years of secrets and lies are exposed. His very nature is challenged as he battles unfamiliar emotions and navigates relationships that contradict the heart of a killer.

Chasing the Darkness is an escape to a land of magic, sword fights, and love, with memorable characters who come face-to-face with the darkness within, forced to journey down a path of either destruction or redemption.
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