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Animals

Animals by [J. E. Lynch]

All was rosy for the Burnhams till they went on a year-long holiday. Three family members returned with a nightmare that would plague them for the rest of their lives, while little Eleanor never made it back at all. She simply vanished on a nice sunny day on the beach, only to appear in a cave far away from her family. That marked the start of a life-changing experience that saw her raised by unusual animals. Her training in the wild molded her into a ruthless young predator, not unlike her tutors. She soon found out that she was now an assassin created to carry out the will of her vengeful animal captors. Ellie embraced her new life, but her mind kept pulling up images of her old life that featured a happy family. Would she chase the freedom she once had, or would she stay a killing machine?

J.E Lynch’s Animals brings a startling folktale to life. The book’s intriguing plot piques curiosity early on and sustains it all through the story. It features animals running a covert recruitment program and feels like a metaphor reflecting our nature and actions as humans, like George Orwell’s allegorical novella Animal Farm. Even though Lynch tries to present truths in an unusual way, he doesn’t leave you scratching your head. His themes are clear, thought-provoking, and fascinating.

Lynch is great at stimulating the senses with very descriptive sentences, relying more on simple words than flowery language. I love how the author approaches the main character’s evolution. He leaves just enough clues to show there was a chance she could change course without making you feel it was inevitable. The animals also had distinctive personalities that resonated with me. I found myself rooting for some and scoffing at others, a sign that I was heavily invested in the characters.

I breezed through all 300 pages of this book. I’m not sure I’ve finished a book of that size in such a short time. I definitely have the story’s pace and intrigue to thank for that. And to top it off, the story ends with a smashing cliff-hanger. Good thing the sequel is out already. So, I don’t have to wait to get my paws on it.

Animals is a thought-provoking young adult novel that is daring, creative, and immensely entertaining.

Pages: 303 | ASIN: B07NQK2HXN

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The Roar of a Dragon

The Roar of a Dragon by [Robert Blanchard]

The Roar of a Dragon by Robert Blanchard is an adventurous fantasy narrated by Aidan, who begins the story from his childhood and humble beginnings in the countryside. The story develops from Aidan’s growing up on a farm and learning about the necessities of life. He details his family life and precisely how his upbringing prepares him for an initially traditional life, then unexpectedly changes. Aidan quickly discovers that the life he was raised for, and his destiny, is far more than he could imagine.

A simple twist in events, and realization by Aidan, propels him into a different life. He constantly struggles with dreams of his mother and a past and future that he learns to accept. The challenges of Aidan’s coming of age and developing into a solid and noble role are well-written with deep compassion and ambition.

As Aidan struggles with his fate and many obstacles ahead, he also grapples with his emotions and struggles to fulfill his soldier training. The book is more than a fantasy as it’s a deeply personal account of a young man’s transition from a naïve farmer’s son to someone who can make a difference in battle and beyond.

The characters are well woven into the story, shaping Aidan’s life and development into a bigger world that’s dangerous and exciting. It quickly becomes increasingly clear that Aidan’s life will play a significant role in a conquest that will require him to prove himself. The story beautifully explores Aidan’s life and his inner thoughts during his growth. He narrates every stage of his journey with exceptional clarity, with just enough detail and flavor to continuously engage the reader.

The Roar of the Dragon is a fantastic story of adventure and fighting battles, both literal and personal, with a rich character layer and development. Each scene is well described to paint authentic, rustic landscapes in a surreal fantasy world that comes to life. Aidan’s life is full of vibrant action that keeps the pages turning once you begin reading. He faces both external forces, from dragons and war, and his internal conflict.

The book is an incredible read, and you’ll easily move through the story quickly with anticipation for the subsequent development. The Roar of the Dragon is entertaining and well structured, detailing Aidan’s ability to face and conquer various levels of conflict in a unique fantasy world.

Pages: 280 | ASIN: B074BCDYTH

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Strong Will

Strong Will by [Patricia Crumpler]

Strong Will by Patricia Crumpler follows Emma Whitstone, who is a reserved and quiet teacher that works with children. Charles Strong Manning is an outgoing, self-assured attorney. The two are completely opposite of each other but end up falling in love, getting married, and starting a family. What Emma doesn’t know is that Strong is the leader of an undercover rescue operation. One of his assignments go wrong and Emma learns several truths and lies about the man she thought she knew. Feeling frightened and hurt, Emma takes her kids and goes into hiding. Will Charles be able to save his family and the love of his life?

Author Patricia Crumpler has written a thrilling romantic action novel. This is an emotionally charged story, something I didn’t expect in an action novel but was pleasantly surprised by. Crumpler’s character development is strong and I enjoyed watching Emma evolve as the story weaved through several unexpected twists and intriguing turns. The author’s writing style is clever as she seamlessly intertwined the double life that Charles lived in a way that was compelling, if not believable. The reader is definitely taken on an emotional rollercoaster wondering if Emma will find out who Charles really is. But the question I was asking myself was, will she stay by his side? You are rooting for the two but the book consistently has readers wondering, who is Charles Strong?

I would have liked to have seen Strong’s character develop a little more because what we’re given is so compelling and I desperately wanted to know more, and to feel as connected to him as I did with Emma. Because he was living two lives it was a little difficult to get to know him. Emma was an open book and the reader knew everything about her. Juxtapose this great character development with intense action scenes and you get a completely riveting read.

Strong Will is a thrilling romantic action novel that surprised me many times and was consistently entertaining.

Pages: 255 | ASIN: B08TSWW5ZQ

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Serpents Underfoot

Serpents Underfoot (A Military Action Thriller) (The JD Cordell Action Series Book 1) by [D.C. Gilbert]

If you are a fan of thrilling action  adventure novels, you are going to enjoy reading Serpents Underfoot, by DC Gilbert. The story follows our hero, JD, who is a Navy SEAL K9 Handler. He and his team go to various locations during their missions in areas such as the Middle East and Asia. JD is on the trail of an international terrorist organization. His mission is to try and put a stop to their devious plans. His strategy is to use a mix of Spy Optics and martial arts .

Author DC Gilbert is an artist when it comes to leaving the reader captivated and yearning for more at the end of every chapter. Readers are treated to a good dose of action, but always with a unique buildup that always ensures the action oriented pieces have a reason, and because of this the novel feels a lot more authentic, even though it can be over the top.

The book is relatively a short but none the less engaging. I enjoyed the military jargon in the book to be spot on, never overwhelming, but enough to make you feel like you were in the middle of an actual operation. I was in the military myself, and I appreciated the descriptions of the way operations are handled in this book. They are very similar to the way operations are conducted in the military. I don’t have as much experience with K9 units, but I still felt that that aspect of the book felt authentic, and occasionally even provided some comic relief in this otherwise tense novel. Any fan of the action thriller genre will be impressed by the vivid and kinetic action within this novel.

As JD, his K9 comrade, and his Navy SEAL unit goes deep undercover to discover the secrets of this horrible terrorist organization, the story never loses focus on its characters who are consistently engaging. With multiple exotic locations throughout the novel, I always felt like the team, and the story, was on the move.

Readers who enjoy a fast paced military thriller will find plenty to enjoy in author D.C. Gilbert’s hard hitting action novel. Serpents Underfoot is a fantastic start to The JD Cordell Action Series.

Pages: 278 | ASIN: B075TDML3D

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Madam Vice President

Madam Vice President by [Julian Mann]

Madam Vice President by Julian Mann is an exciting story about Victoria Pierce, a very ambitious girl who flees her home in Oklahoma, escaping her strict parents, and moves to San Francisco where she enlists in the United States Marine Corps. She is very patient and determined, persevering and works her way up the ranks till she becomes the Brigadier General.

She gets into a dreaded love affair with the United States Senator Sam Eagan throughout her career development phase and they manage to keep it a rendezvous from everyone except one anonymous stalker. She goes ahead and joins politics where she befriends Grace Brandon who gets suspicious of Victoria’s past and poses a threat that could change Victoria’s future in politics when she is elected president.

Author Julian Mann bases this riveting story on real-life situations that are based on a real 25th amendment law that raised his concern. He uses his writing to connect with a larger audience and the vivid way the story is written makes it more relatable to readers. The flow of events creates suspense at the end of each chapter; this made it very hard for me to pick a place to set the book down. The story is filled with rich, believable, dialogue that feels engaging throughout this novel; which is important because this is a character focused drama.

The fact that the author has managed to write the book in an agrarian setting and still bring out women empowerment throughout the growth of Victoria’s career increases the book’s appeal (at least to me it does) and is a role model for strong female protagonists.

The friendship between Victoria and Grace would have been a good one if not for Grace’s envy which sparks curiosity, raising eyebrows that make her poke into Victoria’s past. Despite the bad decisions she made, the young Vera Ochman still fights against all odds to become successful.

Madam Vice President by Julian Mann has a seemingly endless flow of intriguing events that ratchets up the suspense in this dramatic political fiction novel. I think this novel will appeal to anyone looking for an engrossing political thriller that knows how to build compelling characters.

Pages: 297 | ASIN: B08TK9GM3H

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Deadly Invisible Enemies: Hunt for Evil

Deadly Invisible Enemies: Hunt for Evil by [Harold Lea Brown]

Deadly Invisible Enemies (Hunt for Evil) by Harold Lea Brown is the second book in the series. We continue to follow Kevin Albright who continues to fight a war against cybercrimes which led to the murder of his wife and son on their tenth wedding anniversary. He is now more than ever determined to catch his wife’s killers and while at it take down Big D who is hell-bent on killing him. His anger, guilt, and determination together with his intelligence are what give him an advantage over his enemies. The comparison he constantly makes between his late wife and co-worker is what helps him numb some of the pain of his loss and a bond between them grows.

Harold Lea Brown continues to show his unbeatable storytelling prowess as he smoothly connects the cliffhanger of book one with book two, clearing the suspense of Kevin’s death which had been faked by Kevin himself. Hunt for Evil has a fast pace compared to the first book with a quick succession of events within the plot. The mystery in this book is not any less than it is in the first book. Grief has been widely portrayed in the book as Kevin still hasn’t forgiven himself for what happened to his young family. He is filled with pain and rage and the same time. I love how Harold gets into Kevin’s mind making the reader feel connected to the character’s emotions and dilemma. Widely used dialogue within the book helps readers feel connected and involved in the story. The whole book is filled with mystery and sudden turn of events that keep the reader wanting more.

Hunt for Evil is a fast-paced turn cyberpunk thriller that possesses good character development and takes the reader through a rollercoaster of emotions. This is a suspenseful continuation of Harold Lea Brown’s Deadly Invisible Enemies technothriller series.

Pages: 212 | ASIN: B00P9RVEIG

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Swept Into Ruined Lives

William Lobb
William Lobb Author Interview

The Three Lives of Richie O’Malley follows a mob hitman who must come to terms with the death of his friend, a government investigation, and betrayal. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I knew a guy who was a CIA spook in the 60s and 70s. He introduced me to the world of American involvement in the cocaine trade in Central and South America during that time. It was not hard work to write a story following the money from this time and place to present day government entanglement at the highest levels. In many ways, sadly, this part of the story almost wrote itself.

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

As a young man, my best friend was this guy Hector Luis, a Puerto Rican Kid from the Bronx, NY. Luis was the model for Juan Carlos. I truly loved this guy as my brother. Luis came from a very bad environment and did some bad things, but he had a good soul. Many, most, didn’t see that. I was as bad a kid as Luis any day of the week, but as the clean-cut white guy, I got away with a lot more than Luis. I always thought that was unfair.

Under the hood I think we are all capable of good and evil, regardless of the label we are given. Richie, like Juan (Luis) were good guys who were swept into ruined lives by circumstance and bad choices. I guess my ideal, in this case, is to try to always not see people at face value. There is more to them than we can ever truly know or understand. There are few truly bad people, and we should not look too hard at others without first examining and knowing ourselves.

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

Friendship and loyalty were very important themes in this book and in my life. These and the old cliché don’t judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes.

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

The title is The Berry Pickers. There is an area a few miles north of me where in the 1920s to the 1950s people lived and subsisted picking and selling wild blueberries. A fascinating collection of personalities. I read a book on these people once and it was dry as toast. I’ve long been saddened that in the hands of someone like Steinbeck what a great story this could be, in line with the Grapes of Wrath. Sadly, Mr. Steinbeck never wrote this story, and while I don’t think myself worthy to sharpen his pencils, I thought I’d give it a go.

I am hoping to have the editing and writing process completed by mid-summer. I’d like to publish in the fall. I’ve still not decided if I’ll query agents or not. I had two agents very interested in Richie, but they said they couldn’t find a market for it. I know my stuff isn’t mainstream, no bare-chested vampires with wings, but that aint my jam. I just write what I think needs to be written and hope someone reads it.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

At the end of his life, a man is forced to face his past in the cold light of truth.That’s the official hype, anyway…Richie – a lifelong mob hitman – must come to terms with the death of his best friend, a mounting government investigation into his past, and betrayal, as one of his old buddies decided to testify all he knows. Living among them for decades of what appears to be a quiet life, is the most inconspicuous guy on the block – the respected and sometimes feared old gangster nobody questions. He sells them flowers from his girlfriend’s shop. He gets his coffee and newspaper at the corner bodega every morning. Now, the facade is about to collapse and Richie will tell an explosive story that will bring many of the rich and powerful down with him.

Live Quietly With Their Trauma

Lee Chappel
Lee Chappel Author Interview

Crickets follows a woman back to her hometown after her father’s death, where she’s forced to face her past and an unexpected enemy. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

This is probably a stereotypical middle-aged peril, but going home always feels to me like stepping into a different person. I think stories born in homecomings offer really fertile ground for character growth. Your review said this more eloquently, but there seems to be something special about “home” that forces us to face the people we used to be and the aspects of our lives we can physically move on from in other settings.

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

Thanks! I was interested in exploring the ways trauma can stall someone and present various challenges which in most cases aren’t easily seen by others. I think Kara, who’s so bright and aware of what’s going on for her internally, provided a good vehicle for this. Writing in first person gives me a chance to show how at odds her internal narrative is with the face she presents to the world, and I think her struggle is familiar to a lot of people who live quietly with their trauma (so I hope I got this right).

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

I mentioned I was interested in the longer-term effects of trauma, but Crickets also gave me the chance to learn more about how our society treats sexual crimes in particular so differently than other types of crime. I was shocked by the number of rape kits that aren’t even processed and the various ways victims of sexual crimes are often gaslighted—whether intentionally or not—as they report these experiences and try to get justice. The lengths women in particular, but also other marginalized groups go to trying to avoid assault in the first place is unreal, but learning more about how many of these victims are treated “after” was especially disturbing to me, and this is an experience I think should be better understood so we can properly address it.

When and where will your book be available?

Crickets is available for pre-order on Amazon and will be available for purchase from major retailers on September 13th.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Website

Kara Peterson last drove away from Paige, Ohio ten years ago after reporting her rape.

She thought she knew who was responsible. She thought it was over.

But she doesn’t know everything that happened that night.

When her father passes away unexpectedly, Kara’s forced to return to Paige. It should be a safe little town, especially for the daughter of its favorite sheriff, but something’s not right with Kara’s memories. There are times that have gone missing. In fact, there are more and more of them the longer she stays in town.

Maybe it’s her hometown getting to her. Or maybe it’s just him.
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