Blog Archives

Seven Days in Lebanon – Trailer

On a frigid winter morning in St. Petersburg, Russia 1917, eighteen year old Olga Von Eggert must leave her country and family. The Bolshevik army is on a mission to destroy all aristocrats. When Olga fails to join her entourage at the designated rendezvous, Prima Ballerina Mathilda Kschessinska notifies the Khan of Kiva, a mutual acquaintance. The Khan’s son, Prince Razek Bek Khadjieff, defies his father’s orders and sends his strongest Cossack soldier to save the young Baroness. Nearly ninety years later, Damian Tolbert, a Frenchman living in Paris bids $100,000 on an antique diary with the initials NV on the leather cover. Once the journal is translated from Russian to French Damian is determined to find the rightful heir to this antique keepsake. Several years later, by coincidence, or perhaps fate, Damian discovers Anastasia Sullivan, the only living descendent to the journal, in an odd town called Lebanon, Ohio. Rather than answers, Damian finds more missing pieces to his puzzle. Will the “Mind Marauders ” finally leave his psyche? And, who is this mysterious artist, Anastasia Sullivan? This historical novel is inspired by true events of the author’s grandmother, Olga Von Eggert Khadjieff.

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An Approximation of the Objective Truth

John Richard Spencer Author Interview

John Richard Spencer Author Interview

Brownout – 666 follows Rick in the midst of a struggle to find a way to live a normal life in a dark and unforgiving world. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing novel?

My inspiration for the setup behind this novel primarily came from my sojourn in the Philippines spread over several years. I always told people that one day I would write a book about the country, its people and its culture and that I would call it “Brownout.” I added the “666” moniker to the title as any search under “Brownout” brought up thousands of books about electricity. As large portions of my novel were based on real events and people I could have written a nonfiction work instead. However, I didn’t want the potential for libel suits hanging over me so I chose fiction. The American and Australian settings of the novel came about as I wished to explore the socio-political ethos of those nations and their relationships to the bases of world power. I introduced the American setting as a subplot that tied up with the central one at the end.

Rick Daly is an interesting character that faces many challenges in life. What were some driving ideals behind his character development?

Some of the driving ideals behind the central character, Rick Daly, were related to sexuality and its abusive and non-abusive forms. As he matures Rick learns to become less selfish and earns some degree of redemption. Rick has been confused about Right and Wrong and gradually arrives at what he calls “the fair thing principle.” Rick grew up in the seventies and eighties in an Australia with a fairly aggressive sexual culture. An example of looking back at this culture from the standpoint of the present day is the internationally well-known podcast, “The Teacher’s Pet,” by Hedley Thomas of the newspaper, The Australian. Apart from examining a cold case disappearance and probable murder, the podcast looks into alleged teacher/schoolgirl sex rings at several high schools on Sydney’s northern beaches, one of which I taught at (Cromer High School). Rick loathes hypocrisy, the stupidity and gross unfairness of many authorities. Governments and courts often seem overly influenced by cultural and political fashion.

This novel expertly uses history to tell an engrossing story. Was history an important aspect for you in this novel or did this develop organically while writing?

As a former English and History teacher I have always been fascinated by History and its links to the present day. The changing attitudes to sexuality throughout historical and contemporary periods necessarily came to the fore as Rick becomes caught up in them.

I have long been a student of the Holocaust and the Third Reich and, as history is always written by the winners, I appreciate how difficult it is to arrive at even an approximation of the objective truth. While in no way do I condone the many crimes of the Third Reich I find myself bemused at how any attempt to examine this era can so easily be shouted down if it differs ever so little from the official version. The Holocaust was a terrible event but it is no more sacred than are the other mass killings or genocides that occurred before it or since.

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

In addition to this novel, I also have a published work of non-fiction about child loss and grief. It is called, “Waiting for a Miracle – Life in the Dead Zone.” As for my next book, I haven’t decided whether to work on another novel or non-fiction piece. In either case it won’t be available until next year at the earliest.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Brownout - 666: Are we Slaves To Our Symbols? by [Spencer, Mr John Richard]

In the land of flaunted sex, money, and flexible rules, an ambitious but lonely Rick Daly faces his demons.

Rick Daly has established a business in the exotic surroundings of the Philippines, while simultaneously discovering Marilyn Delgado, the woman of his dreams.

However, a clash of cultures and his own naiveté lead to disaster. Falsely accused of a sexual crime, Rick loses both his freedom and his business. To add insult to injury, a prison escape merely amounts to switching jails.

In a world where the rich prosper, honest individuals are forced to the wall, and a cynical disregard for all but the dollar is destroying society from within, crime soon follows punishment for Rick. Close to losing his soul, will Rick’s ultimate success in drug and arms dealing finally lead him to face up to reality?

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Project Purple

Project Purple by [Greco, Michael]

Project Purple by Michael Greco is a fictional story about thirteen Americans who agree to take part in a social experience (called Project Purple), with their every action filmed and viewed live for the entertainment of the world. The thirteen people will relive an authentic colonial life of American pilgrims (in the year 1613) for four months, with the viewers as the ‘fourteenth colonist.’ The thirteen colonists must build a colony with twelve other strangers, figuring out how to work together. One of the colonists is Henrietta Dobie, known in the colony as Goatwench. But the colonists were lied to and none of them know the truth about the real purpose of the Project. When Rigor, a detective in Las Vegas, is sent a video of the horrific circumstances Goatwench is forced to endure, he’s determined to put a stop to the Project. But the organizers of the Project will stop at nothing to reach their own ends.

The premise of the book was intriguing, and the story kept my interest. I wanted to know what would happen next for the colonists–would any of them survive? It was interesting to see how human nature played out as the different characters reacted to the difficult–and then deadly–situation they found themselves in. I liked that the author told the story from the point of view of several different colonists, which gave much more insight into the individual characters.

I liked the historical aspect of the story. I enjoyed reading details about the clothing, daily tasks, and customs of American colonial life.

The sadistic actions of the people who created Project Purple were detestable; putting thirteen wholly unprepared people into that situation without their full knowledge and consent for the sole purpose of so-called entertainment for the viewing audience and to further the organization’s own agenda.

The story started out slow, with a lot of set up about the detective’s life in Las Vegas and leading into the beginning of Project Purple. The book felt a bit disjointed, jumping back and forth in time, and jumping between the detective and the colonists. It might have improved the flow of the story if the author had started out with the colonists embarking on Project Purple, and once things started to go wrong, then the detective could have been introduced when he received the first video. In the end this is an intriguing exploration of human motivations that plumbs the depths of humanity.

Pages: 351 | ASIN: B07K7N5M2D

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Missing: A Finn Delaney New York City Mystery

Missing: A Finn Delaney New York City Mystery Book 1 by [Bryan, Robert L.]

Mystery readers who love New York: this book is for you. Missing: A Finn Delaney New York City Mystery introduces 25-year-old Finn, a fifth-generation police officer from a family that reveres the NYPD. When an unlucky accident ends his NYPD career, Finn becomes the next best thing: a Private Eye. Finn’s new career is off to a rocky start, complete with threadbare office and octogenarian assistant. Luckily, Finn quickly moves beyond the so-called “cavalcade of crazies” and stumbles into his first serious case. Follow Finn as he searches for a missing person who NYPD claims is not missing at all.

In Missing, Robert L. Bryan explores duty, loyalty, and friendship. He also plumbs the depths of vice that simmer in the city: corruption, greed, and crime. Bryan hits his storytelling stride as the details of the case unfurl. The plot moves quickly with confounding clues, hints of danger, and a parade of compelling characters.

Bryan has a knack for provocative characters. Finn’s apparent lack of self-determination can be frustrating—he seemingly rode a conveyer belt from booties to NYPD blues—but he develops into a likable main character. Early client stories, like the time Finn tailed a cat, are charming but lose something in bullet point format. The reader groans when Finn’s most pressing professional dilemma involves a desk chair and cheers when he finally lands a case.

Still, Finn is inscrutable. Other characters respond to him with generosity and affection when he shows none. I think the women in Finn’s world would benefit from added nuance; they are often one-dimensional. Finn’s father is a bright spot: unwavering in his support and helpful when Finn needs it most. We should all be so lucky.

Fans of the boroughs will enjoy devoted descriptions of Queen’s minutiae. Every intersection is noted, every landmark observed. Do I see a Finn Delaney walking tour of Queens in my future? Yes, please.

The book doubles back at times with Finn uncovering clues already revealed; in one notable situation, Finn hits upon the lynchpin of the case twice in seven pages. The book is lightly sprinkled with errors in grammar and punctuation. Despite these minor distractions, Missing is a satisfying mystery and a good read.

Pages: 197 | ASIN: B07L9DBXDN

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Price of Life

Immortals have walked the face of the Earth for over 12,000 years now. For the most part they have lived at peace with humans, taking only what they need to survive. A cross between a vampire and mythical healer, these immortals have the power to heal humans or take their life force, ageing them to death. It is from this feeding of a life force they gain their immortality. Most will only feed off the those that cause harm to the world. However, there are those immortals that believe they are a god race and it is their job to purge the Earth of humans and start over. Price of Life by David Crane is the story of how immortals got to present day and the battle between the two factions over the future of the human race.

The novel reminded me of the Highlander series, there can be only one! But, aside from the beheading to kill an immortal, that is where it ends. The immortals in David Crane’s novel are more like vampires that are sustained by the lifeforce of the world around them. Humans are the “best” quality food, but any living organisms can sustain them. Together they have lived in peace for over 12,000 years. The flashbacks from modern time to tell the story of where each immortal comes from is in-depth. Nonfiction and fiction blend seamlessly in this work. The details about Hitler and the concentration camp will bring you to tears hearing the stories and make you cheer as immortals avenge the death of their families at the hands of the Nazi soldiers. In some novels, flashbacks are too confusing to keep up with, but this is done so well that it is seamless, and you get a full picture. The subplots all tie into the main story line in a way that makes sense. All the lives and stories fit. From early mankind villages, to war torn Europe, to modern America facing many of the challenges we see even still today in the news, it all combines to tell a story that you want to read. The character development is built into the flashbacks and lets the reader really get to know each person involved. There are surprise twists, good is not always nice and on the right side of the law, bad is not always malice. The lines are blurred in a way to a keep the balance in check.

One of my favorite characters is Dina, she is an immortal with a special ability to see the future, it has made her wealthy and she uses her gift to better the world where she can. She saw the horrors of what Hitler would do to the world and she wanted nothing more than to stop it. Her passion is helping people, using her immortality to better the Earth and advance humans, not hold them back. When she has visions of Los Angeles being destroyed and the end of all human life at the hand of immortals, she must figure out how to stop things.

Immortals are left to choose what side they want to be on, they must work together to save the world they helped shape and create. It is a great novel about survival, compassion, history and how it shapes the future. A thrilling novel to see if humans can be saved before they become nothing more than slaves and a food source for the immortals that believe themselves to be gods.

Pages: 318 | ASIN: B00Y424WD6

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The Truth Won’t Help Them Now – Trailer

It is 1939 when the bullet-riddled body of an accounting clerk from a gambling ship washes up under the Santa Monica pier. As city homicide detectives tenaciously chase down their only clue—a fast, expensive, and very exclusive Bugatti—their investigation leads them into a tangle of competing gangsters all looking to muscle their way to a bigger share of illegal gambling.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles County deputy district attorney Cliff Thoms is leading a special squad searching for a pair of serial killers who have already killed four young women and are on the hunt for more. Thoms, with the help of a self-proclaimed psychic he doesn’t quite trust, risks lives and careers in a desperate gamble to catch his elusive quarry. As the two investigations collide and rush to a deadly conclusion, dirty cops, DAs on the take, mobsters, grieving families, and reformer politicians must attempt to distinguish lies from the truth. Unfortunately, they are all about to discover that even the truth won’t help them now.

In this fast-paced tale of murder and gangland intrigue, a gritty district attorney and a band of detectives set out on a quest to solve two separate crimes amid a corrupted 1939 Los Angeles.

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Adventures Set Exclusively in England

Tim Symonds Author Interview

Tim Symonds Author Interview

A Most Diabolical Plot is a collection of six Sherlock Holmes stories that perfectly fit the originals style. What draws you to the Sherlock Holmes mystery novels and their style of storytelling?

I first read the Sherlock Holmes ‘canon’ (the Arthur Conan Doyle originals) when I was at Elizabeth College, a boarding school in the British Crown Dependency of Guernsey, built in 1563. I must have been around 12 years of age. Although this was many decades after Conan Doyle penned his last story, life in a boarding school on a small island off the French coast was recognisably Edwardian in atmosphere. When the prefect or housemaster

Elizabeth College, Guernsey, C.I.

Elizabeth College, Guernsey, C.I.

turned off the dormitory lights and warned us not to talk any more, I retrieved a torch (flashlight) from under the mattress and spent an hour or so with Holmes and Watson while they encountered mastermind criminals (Professor Moriarty) and some downright East End thugs who would kill them as soon as look at them. Perfect escape from the rigours and routine of life at the college. In turn, my full-length novels are adventures equally designed to offer readers hours of sheer escape. ‘Sherlock Holmes And The Case Of The Bulgarian Codex’ takes place deep in the turbulent Balkans, ‘Sherlock Holmes And The Mystery of Einstein’s Daughter’ also takes the resolute investigators into the Balkans – Serbia – via a short stay in Switzerland. ‘Sherlock Holmes And The Sword of Osman’ finds them entering the hurry and scurry and paranoia of magnificent Constantinople in the bizarre last years of the Ottoman Empire and Sultanate. ‘Sherlock Holmes And The Nine-Dragon Sigil’ takes them even further afield, into the mysterious streets and colourful roofs of Peking’s Forbidden City’

What were some sources of inspiration for you while writing the stories in this new collection?

A reader in the United States wrote to me saying he enjoyed reading my novels but how about some more adventures set exclusively in England, with London’s mists, Watson’s Gentlemen’s clubs, 221B, Baker Street and so on? So in ‘A Most Diabolical Plot’ all six adventures take place almost exclusively in England. I describe them in the Introduction as follows:

‘The title story, A Most Diabolical Plot, involves the dastardly Colonel Moran hiding away on the borders of Suffolk and Essex, plotting a grisly death for his arch-enemy Sherlock Holmes. Holmes and Watson criss-cross England during those near-fabled days when Queen Victoria sat on the throne of Britain’s immense Empire, followed by her son Edward V11 and in turn her grandson George V. The spooky The Ghost Of Dorset House takes place in London’s expensive Mayfair district. Die Weisse Frau finds the pair caught up with horses, spies and Zeppelins in the midst of the Great War in the Wiltshire countryside not far from Stonehenge. The Mystery Of The Missing Artefacts opens with Watson a prisoner of war in the Ottoman Sultan’s Palace but moves quickly to the British Museum and the small village of Battle in deepest Sussex. The Pegasus Affair, a story of treachery, begins after Watson finds an envelope on the hall table at his Marylebone Medical Practice containing a cutting from The Eastbourne. The final story, The Captain In The Duke of Wellington’s Regiment, is set in an East Anglian university town (possibly Cambridge) and around Apsley House, the great Duke of Wellington’s mansion at Hyde Park Corner.’

You were able to capture Sir Arthur Conan Doyle style of storytelling, but what were some new things you wanted to bring to the genre?

I’m always keen to bring into every one of the adventures just how valuable dear old Dr. John H. Watson is to Holmes’s success. In the original Conan Doyle stories, at best Holmes seems to tolerate his amiable companion while deriding him so often, for example ‘You see, but you do not observe, Watson!’ Five or six years ago I came across a description of a real Englishman I believe is/was the perfect John Watson. I was on a train to London Charing Cross from my home in a valley in deepest East Sussex when I read The Crooked Scythe, an anthology of memories of men and women of a past era—farm labourers, shepherds, horsemen, blacksmiths, wheelwrights, sailors, fisherman, miners, maltsters, domestic servants. The introduction described the author George Ewart Evans as follows: ‘George was in his mid-fifties when I first saw him… upright and vigorous, with an open and friendly manner and a clear, piercing gaze. He looked the part of a countryman, in a tweed jacket, a hat also of tweed, drill trousers, and stout brown shoes. As I grew to know him, I discovered that he was sympathetic and generous with help and encouragement. He was intelligent and shrewd; his judgements, though seldom sharply expressed, were acute and rational. In conversation he was tolerant and unassertive, but it was soon clear he held independent views with firmness and conviction’.’

I’m certain this is how Watson’s many friends at The Traveller’s or the Junior United Services clubs and at the Gatwick races would have viewed him too, a man of gentility albeit of straitened financial means and no property. All of us should have friends who wear stout brown shoes.

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

I have just finished a further quite lengthy short story set in Crete as the First World War approaches. It’s titled ‘The Case of the Seventeenth Monk’. The first chapter is titled ‘A Visitor Arrives at Dr. Watson’s Clinic.’ ‘The Whittington chimes of the grandfather clock flooded along the hallway. It was five o’clock. I was alone in the consulting-room of my medical practice in London’s fashionable Marylebone district. If no further patients came, I could soon stroll to the In and Out Naval and Military Club for Soup of the Day and Whitebait. I walked across to the window and stared out. A light drizzle put me into a contemplative mood. Some months had passed since, to the relief of the criminal underworld, my old friend Mr. Sherlock Holmes retired at the very height of his powers. The decision had taken me utterly by surprise.’

‘The Case Of The Seventeenth Monk’ will appear in the 2019 edition of The MX Book Of New Sherlock Holmes Stories.

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A Most Diabolical Plot: Six Compelling Sherlock Holmes Stories by [Symonds, Tim]In the year 1903 – the exact moment is now lost to history – Sherlock Holmes proclaimed to the world he was quitting England’s Capital to go into retirement on a small, wind-swept farm in the Sussex South Downs. His shocked comrade-in-arms Dr. John H. Watson was later to write, ‘The decision took me utterly by surprise. I thought I had become an institution around Holmes, like his Stradivarius, or the old, oily black clay pipe and his index books.’ Reluctantly Watson wrote up three recent cases yet unpublished and returned to his medical practice. Holmes retirement didn’t last long. Once more his faithful Amanuensis Watson took up his pen – and his Army Service revolver. The result was three more of the most intriguing cases ever undertaken by the famous pair. All six adventures have now been brought together in this special edition.

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Explore the Choice Between Good and Evil

Kathryn Hollingworth Author Interview

Kathryn Hollingworth Author Interview

You Owe Me One spans hundreds of years and follows several characters that are trying to save their souls. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing novel?

Initially I wrote You Owe Me One as a short story, which focuses upon Joe Durrant. Then I began to ask myself how Joe had first encountered the Devil. I thought of the idea of having an antique mirror as a portal and then the character of Charles came into my head. Charles became very real to me and I enjoyed writing about him and his struggles. He was a very modern man, living in an outdated and prejudiced society. I have been to Paris on many occasions, so my inspiration for his travels was inspired by my visits there.

There were several well developed characters in this story. Who was your favorite to write for?

My favorite character is Joe. Although he is impulsive, reckless and quick-tempered, he is strong, brave and immensely kind. He gains maturity in the novel and is always concerned about the welfare of others. These qualities enable him to stand up to Satan.

This is a thought provoking novel that questions Christian ideals. What were some themes that were important for you to explore?

The intention of the novel was to explore the choice between good and evil, rather than to question Christian ideals. Some of the characters are Christians and the tragic events they experience lead them to question their faith. Others, like Desire and Chantelle, have high moral values, but are logical and have no spiritual beliefs. I wanted to represent people with different opinions on religion in my novel.

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

I am working on a fantasy series. I hope that the first book will be available by the end of 2019. It is called Starlight and Sorcery.

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You Owe Me One by [Hollingworth, Kathryn]

Two young men, living separate lives more than a century apart, are hounded by the same dark entity. Against the backdrops of nineteenth century Louisiana and Paris, through to modern day Florida, they each struggle to save their souls and to find love and happiness. This is a story about the battle between good and evil.

“How does it feel to meet your old buddy, head-on near the fires of home?”
I can barely speak. I manage to say something, between bursts of coughing. “So, that’s where I’m going? You’re sending me to Hell?”
“Well, Joe, you do owe me one,” says my old buddy and smiles warmly. Blackness.

“Some people say that the closer you are to God the more the Devil comes after you. Well, that sure is true in my case. Maybe that’s why I’m crouched down at the back of a Baptist church, where there’s a service in full swing, clutching a powerful crossbow I bought at a store with fake ID, because I’m only sixteen. I fully intend to use it; the crossbow I mean.

The Devil must be chuckling with glee if he’s watching me now, for as a child I was as close to God as anyone could be. Two church services on Sunday and Bible Study twice a week was part of my regular routine. Now I can taste bile rising in my mouth, as I hear the cries of hallelujah. In a nearby window I can see a lone vulture swooping down from the sky. As I slowly rise up onto my feet, the outline of the wedding guests comes into view. The floral dresses, fancy hats and corsages, all blend into a garish kaleidoscope of horror. My vision is blurred and I pause for a moment as my lungs seem to constrict, so that it’s getting hard to breathe. My hands shake as I load a bolt into the crossbow and walk up the aisle, and all the while I’m wondering if I am truly Satan’s collaborator.”

I began to ascend the flight of steps which led to Montmartre, eager to disassociate myself from the body lying in the road below. I watched the scene from the top of the steps, afraid that I may have been spotted, although I could see no one nearby. At first the street was quiet and still, as in a time of prayer or of mourning. Then the people came running from all directions. They seemed to descend on him like vultures, their black cloaks flapping like wings, their raucous cries of alarm raking the still air. Many of them had dark eyes, I was sure of that, even at a distance, as they came running towards him through the Parisian streets. They had dark eyes that were shrewd and sharp and keen. Their crow-colored heads glistened in the sunlight. Were they here to help him or to pick his pockets for silver, like the magpies I had seen in the woods around the chateau? But it was too late to help this man. He was already on his way to Hell. They seemed surreal, like visitors from the underworld who had come to claim his soul.

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The New Holy Warriors

The New Holy Warriors by [Sandoval, Alice ]

The world as he knows it is crumbling around him. Marc Bravo has just seen the twin towers in New York City fall and terrorism is on the minds of every American and dominates conversations across the globe. September 11, 2001 marks the beginning of a string of events that will change Marc’s life in a way he could never have predicted. When his parents go missing from their volunteer work with Doctors Without Borders, Marc drops everything to find them and bring them home safely. What Marc can never predict is what he will learn about their kidnappers, their true intentions, and how the entire world may ultimately be affected.

Alice Sandoval’s The New Holy Warriors is a timely piece detailing the events following the September 11th attack on the United States. Sandoval takes the story beyond the accounts that we have all seen and heard and breaks down the symbolism of the event itself. In addition, the author lays out for readers a story like no other as she follows Marc Bravo on a quest to find his missing parents who are assumed to have been kidnapped. Marc’s story and his journey for answers is based on true events and is stunning in every way.

One of the most striking elements included in Sandoval’s work is the way in which Islamophobia is addressed. In a very straightforward manner, the author reminds us all of the horrific treatment of anyone appearing to be of Middle Eastern descent. Via her main character, Marc, she drives home the fact that stereotyping immediately following September 11th was rampant and a danger to countless numbers of innocent people.

Another aspect of Sandoval’s story, which might go unnoticed by many, is the description she gives of the strange incidents in the skies above Mexico. Marc is treated to an elaborate explanation of the event and is informed that UFO sightings above Mexico are fairly commonplace. As this book reads as primarily nonfiction, it is almost chilling to listen in on the characters’ conversation about these “cigar-shaped” ships. As an added bonus to the already curious events, Sandoval includes the story of a suspected relationship between the Mayans, the pyramids, and Martians. The casual conversation included in this story inspired by real events is not in the least out of place, but it is truly fascinating.

Sandoval does not shy away from sharing the abject horror involved in terrorism and the groups involved. With color photographs and blatant captions, Sandoval openly shows readers the brutality carried out by organizations like Al Qaeda. If there was ever any doubt in the reader’s mind about the capabilities and intentions of terrorist organizations, Sandoval wipes it completely away with one swift stroke of the pen.

The New Holy Warriors is a fascinating and eye-opening account of terrorism as viewed through the lives of ordinary citizens. Marc, his brother, and best friend are the vessels by which Sandoval delivers an amazing story readers will wish was just that–simply a story.

Pages: 373 | ASIN: B0784QR76B

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Hoodie Black

HOODIE BLACK: Some doors should never be opened by [Caspar, C. S.]

Detective Alex Hunter stumbles into darkness after a drunk driver careens into his wife and daughter, killing them instantly. Off the force, two years pass and he lands in private investigations and the edge of the underworld. When Arthur Garland offers him just the kind of job he can’t turn down, all hell breaks loose. Not only is Garland’s past unsettling, he is also the owner of a new property Alex is buying on Crystal Creek. He’d been turned on to the sale by a mysterious figure so now with every nerve firing and red flags flying, the wiry detective has a mystery to solve – one that he is already in too deep. Discovering how this all started with a detective not unlike himself over a century ago does little to soothe his soul. Then, and now, the answer to the mystery of Crystal Creek may lay with a phantom man wearing an old black hood.

CS Caspar’s novel, Hoodie Black, starts out with a tone not unlike an autobiography told in first person. The supernatural, however, has already come knocking within the first page. Deft descriptions of street trash mingle with demons from the start, I was taken with this dark view of the world. With a distinctive noire flair, the tale unfurls smooth as a red carpet making it easy to stroll on in to this tale and take a seat.

Harkening back to the best Twilight Zone or Creepshow stories, there are ghastly legacies, surreal paintings, tales regaled and of course much of that creeping darkness to be found. And not to say that lightly, Hoodie Black starts out with so many of the genres fairest delights like this so it easily hooks any fan of mystery and horror. On top of all the modern notes this story hits, there is an ancient foundation like something from the Brothers Grimm or older fables, the storytelling quickly becomes deeply layered, making any reader curious how it is all going to converge and when. Truly one of the more remarkable tricks is creating tension simply with that idea – how will this converge and when – CS Caspar has accomplished this tension in the first fifth of the novel.

For some, the tiptoe between a hard-boiled thriller and fairy tale or religious elements may be off putting. The tone may take a little to get used to once the book is at full speed since we are so accustomed to being in one state or genre instead of three at once. For those that enjoy genre-bending dark fiction, Hoodie Black is a very fun read. Culminating in battles between the very ideas of good and evil we are taken between first person narration and a more comfortable third-person point of view. The landscapes and surreal time-bending lend themselves to being wrenched from one mode of storytelling to the other and this should keep the most finicky of readers rapt with attention.

Pages: 219 | ASIN: B07M74MVB9

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