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A Combination of Folklore

David A. Combs Author Interview

Ascension follows a teenage girl from a small town who discovers her destiny is to become a guardian with powerful magic and fight an evil demon. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?  

The story actually began with Anne-Marie.  She started as a character in a video game my family plays, and with time, her role became that of the “witch in the woods”.  I imagined her as an ageless guardian who watched over the generations of her family, always close by, but keeping her distance all the same.  In developing the story, I wanted the secondary Main character, Angelica, to be far enough along the family tree that when Anne-Marie revealed that she was Angelica’s 10th great grandmother, the significance of the relationship would stand out stronger.  Shade, the Father of Nightmares, grew out of a combination of folklore.  I knew his title first, so I wanted a villain who embodied different scary things.  A touch of Little Red Riding Hood, werewolves, zombies for the decay of his muzzle, and the patient confidence that his evil schemes would outlive the foolish mortals who might oppose him.  He never anticipated Anne-Marie’s vow upon her own Ascension to the mantle of Guardian to grant her near immortality and tie her life force so strongly to his own.

Angelica and Anne-Marie are strong, intelligent, and powerful witches. What was your inspiration for the characters and their relationship?  

The story was always going to be about love of family and the duty to protect those dearest to us.  I have two children of my own, and I think a lot of Anne-Marie’s devotion came from the relationships I have with my kids.  Angelica’s wit and boldness certainly comes from the day to day antics of my teenagers and their friends.  

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

I find that I often write about the idea of an unsung hero protecting the innocent from the dangers that they may not even know exist.  Anne-Marie begins her journey simply trying to take care of her own family, but finds herself thrown into a much larger fight.  There are moments where she thinks of turning her back on the responsibility she has assumed, but knows that if she doesn’t make the stand, then not just her loved ones, but the entire world could fall to Shade’s threat.  

When will book 2 be available? Can you give us an idea of where that book will take readers?  Guardian, Book 2 of the series is available now.  In 1671, Anne-Marie must flee from Shade’s enclosing grasp.  As the demon’s power grows, and new enemies arise, lashing out not just at the young woman, but at those she holds dear.  In present day, Angelica slowly recovers from her battle with Aiden Carmichael, but her impetuous actions have caused the veil between the realms to tatter, and she soon discovers her most beloved sanctuary has become the Father of Nightmare’s hunting ground. 

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Angelica Brighton is a typical 21st Century High School senior – a diligent student, a track star, and surrounded by good friends. Life on her family’s farm is tranquil, happy, and prosperous. The arrival of a mysterious letter turns her world upside down, unveiling a destiny that leads her into the ancient heart of the nearby forest and face to face with the local urban legend of her sleepy New England town.

Anne-Marie Carmichael is a compassionate and hard working wife and mother from the late 17th century. Determined to save her family’s struggling farm from financial ruin, she enters into a hasty bargain that unwittingly turns her into a soldier in a war that has lasted for millennia. Imbued with the primordial magic that extends her life and grants earth shattering power, the fiery natured farmwife must recruit the children of her family for generations to come to stand against the demonic Shade, Father of Nightmares.

As the barriers between our world and the Realm of the Demonkin falter, Anne-Marie must awaken in Angelica the might that lies dormant in the Blood of the Firstborn and shape her into the weapon that fate has called for her to become. For only the Witches of Pioneer Vale can hope to win the battle that threatens to destroy not just the pastoral community that Angelica has known her whole life, but existence itself.

Forever Eve

Forever Eve by JB Lexington is a thrilling romance novel that follows a woman named Izabel Jones Carmichael. Her wedding day should have been the happiest day of her life, but the problems in her relationship with Bo Carmichael started long before then, and only get worse after they married. When Izabel’s friend, Natalie, convinces her to go to Past Life Regression therapy, she experiences the past life of a woman named Eve, who worked as a prostitute during prohibition and fell in love with one of her regulars, Charlie Rudolph. When Izabel meets a man that looks like Charlie, they feel an undeniable connection. Are Izabel and Henry destined to be together?

This book captivated me from the very beginning with an intriguing opening that left me eager to uncover what happened on Izabel’s wedding day. To my surprise, the outcome was different from what I had anticipated. One of my favorite moments in the book was when Izabel’s friend, Natalie, commented, “Izabel Jones, aren’t you a vision of the oppression of women…”. This line resonated with me as the author had skillfully conveyed this impression to me in just a few pages, and I found myself agreeing with Natalie’s assessment, despite the harsh timing of her comment. Natalie quickly became my favorite character with her quirky, outspoken personality and snarky humor that had me chuckling throughout the story.

The plot of this impassioned romance novel is gripping. I found Izabel’s husband, Bo, to be an unsympathetic character. The author does a fantastic job of emotionally investing the reader in Izabel because I have some strong opinions about Bo that sound negative but that’s just because the author draws his character so well and it’s easy for readers to get fired up. It was hard to understand why she chose to marry him, especially considering the abusive behavior he displayed prior to their wedding. There are scenes of abuse and rape that some readers may find triggering, but they are integral to the story.

The middle section of the book took on a more methodical pace as it delved into Eve’s past experiences. I found myself deeply immersed in the flashbacks. These scenes provided valuable background information and provided the reader with a greater understanding of what Eve had endured in her past. It was heartening to see the story end on a hopeful note for her after everything she had been through.

I wholeheartedly recommend this stirring romance book to readers who seek a captivating and emotional tale of hope, romance, and self-discovery. The protagonist’s journey toward finding her strength and happiness is compelling and inspiring, making this a highly recommended read.

Pages: 208 | ASIN: B087FY9PS1

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Ascension: The Witches of Pioneer Vale by David Combs is a tale about Anne-Marie Carmichael, a loving wife and mother who is highly capable and willing to go to great lengths to protect her loved ones and her farm. The story originated in 1671, and Anne-Marie’s resources are limited, so she makes a pact with supernatural forces to become a protective guardian of powerful magic. Unfortunately, evil doesn’t stop, and Shade, a demonic wolf, lurks in the shadows, looking for a chance to cross over from his realm into this world to destroy it.

In the present day, Anne-Marie seeks to make an alliance with her descendant and meets a sociable, athletic girl, Angelica Brighton, with a great natural talent for magic. They must work together to uphold their family tradition as guardians, protect the world from the shadows, and fight for everyone and everything they love. I really enjoyed the dynamic of the characters. Anne-Marie is powerful, knowing fully well the dangers they face, whereas Angelica has a biting wit and cunning nature, despite lacking experience. Throughout their journey, protagonists abruptly step out of their comfort zone and take on great responsibility without hesitation.

The combination of two vividly distinct personalities was a great feature of this story. Combs shares two perfectly intertwined stories, with entertaining shifts from the past to the present. The story pace was excellent and fluid, keeping you attentive and eager to turn one page after the next. Ascension: The Witches of Pioneer Vale by David Combs is the first book in a series, and I look forward to reading the next volume.

Pages: 251 | ASIN : B07YT1LM4W

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My Own Version Of The Legend

Jo Anne Barnes Author Interview

Time’s Daughter follows a modern-day schoolteacher who is taken back to 1875 and finds herself in the middle of a conflict between a handsome plantation owner and his greedy stepbrother. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?

I grew up in a small parish in northeastern Louisiana that back in the day had over 100 plantations. Stories about old plantation houses and their owners fascinated me. A true story about a man who was driven out of his mind by someone he trusted captured my attention. I quit a job I loved supervising student teachers at the University of Texas at Dallas to write my own version of the legend.

Christina Forsythe is an interesting and well-developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

I knew she would have to be a strong woman to survive in another century. | wanted to give her a character flaw that she would overcome by the end of my book. Christina was prejudiced against mental illness because of her father’s bipolar condition. By falling in love with a man people referred to as a madman, she was able to overcome her prejudice.

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

I wanted to explore a man’s love for his daughter and how far he would go to keep her safe. Other themes include good versus evil, never giving up, and Justice.

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

I’m currently working on Take Only My Love, but | have also published Sidestepping the Truth, a gentle romance novel, The thirteenth Apostle—a thriller, and two contemporary novels: Conveniently Married and Winds of Fate. |’ve co-authored two children’s books, A Horse for the Heart and Mystery of the Swamp Lights.

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads

Hurled into 1875, a young schoolteacher from this century finds herself living a legend she’s heard about all her life. She lands in the middle of a conflict between handsome plantation owner, Rainer Thorpe, and his greedy stepbrother. Sparks fly as Rainer tries to help Christina Forsythe find her way home.

Time’s Daughter

Christina Forsythe is a young school teacher who is mysteriously transported from the twentieth century back to 1875 to live a legend that she has heard about her entire life. Christina finds herself in Whispering Oaks with Rainer Thorpe and his six-year-old daughter Marjorie. Adopting the identity of her ancestor and doppelganger, Christina is compelled to be Majorie’s governess as she becomes caught in the feud between Rainer and his greedy step-brother Eli. After the sudden death of Rainers’s wife and the ensuing rumors, Rainer Thorpe loses his mind. Christina falls for this eccentric man while they plan to find her a way back home. Will Christina be able to uncover the conspiracy against Rainer’s health and estate and also find her way home?

Time’s Daughter by Jo Anne Barnes is a sensuous time travel romance novel that combines elements of science fiction, mystery and history into a story that will pique readers curiosity. The time travel narrative has its own set of rules that differ from most time travel tropes which makes this both a fun and unique read.

The author explores living in alternate histories and centuries in an intriguing way. The characters navigate the past and the future, showing the clash of customs and morals that accompanies going back in time and references to technology and cultures that exist in the 20th century. The novel also explores themes of family, a father’s love, and mental illness in ways that feel thoughtful, grounded and compelling. The author also includes a budding romance that weaves its way throughout the story. Readers will surely fall in love with Christina’s character as I know I was enthralled with her character after her dramatic evolution throughout the story.

With a love that transcends centuries, the plot is interesting and the characters are fascinating. Time’s Daughter is an entertaining historical romance novel that will appeal to readers looking for their fix after finishing Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series.

Pages: 298 | ASIN: B0BG6NR8VH

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Minotaur’s Lair

Minotaur’s Lair – Servant of the Gods – Book Three by Luciana Cavallaro is the final installment in the trilogy, which follows Evan, who must face Queen Antioche and stop the Dark Master from becoming a deity. If the Dark Master successfully gains this power, Evan and his alliances face an uncertain future. There are many unexpected twists throughout his journey and fate, making this book an incredible read.

The story maintains a consistent pace that conjures excitement from the start. Cavallaro creates an action-packed tale with elements of ancient mythology and mystical places, contrasting with time travel and modern technology. Evan must quickly adapt and learn how his quest shifts from one challenge to the next, whether Queen Antioch attempts to entice him with tempting gifts and promises or he becomes face-to-face with a new enemy. He must also follow his father’s legacy by locating a sacred artifact while defeating his captors.

Cavallaro’s fantastic writing style is sharp and descriptive without slowing the story’s pace. The author thoroughly researches the architecture, landscapes, and scenarios in mythology. It’s a fantastic adventure full of exciting developments and lively characters. As the story delves into the thrilling mythology of an ancient world, Evan becomes eager to find a way home to his time in the future.

I found this book, and the trilogy, an excellent story that’s engaging and enjoyable from start to finish. The author does a fantastic job of creating an intricate world with layers of fascinating developments and characters that keep the reader moving from one chapter to the next. Minotaur’s Lair – Servant of the Gods – Book Three by Luciana Cavallaro is an excellent read for science fiction and fantasy fans. I recommend the trilogy and look forward to more books from this author.

Pages: 396 | ASIN : B0BFGW1Z6S

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Time Terminus

Time Terminus is a novella that could easily be expanded into a full-length novel. This sci-fi action story is about Isaac Templeton, a high-powered lawyer whose puzzling nightmares foreshadow the need for him to eventually travel back in time to save the life of his girlfriend.

Through a series of complex plots and subplots, dipping in and out of time travel that is made possible by alien life, author David Gittlin tells the stories of Isaac and his complicated girlfriend, an inventor and a serial killer with a taste for disguise. The idea at the heart of this compelling story is a good one. There are twists and turns in the plot and plenty of action interspersed through lengthy passages of dialogue that propel the plot forward. The flashback technique Gittlin uses is handled quite well, although there are times it feels like some ideas could benefit from further exploration. The author gives his characters a great sense of depth and range and I wish that the novel was longer so that we can stay with the characters and learn more about them.

The best part of Time Terminus is the skill with which the author handles the complications and paradoxes inherent in any story that deals with time travel. It’s clear he has thoroughly considered the effects on the present if you could go back to the past and do things differently. However, I would have liked to see him explore this in more depth.

Time Terminus: Expect the Unexpected is a quick and entertaining crime and mystery novel that uses interesting time travel elements to really liven up the story overall. The many subplots hint at a much more complicated story than Gittlin gives us, and I look forward to reading more from this author.   


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Tales From Another Dimension

Tales from Another Dimension, by Robbie Sheerin, is a collection of ten science fiction short stories. Inspired by classic science fiction, Robbie Sheerin brings us the fantastic and the frightening with these ten stories, whether it’s on Earth, in space, or on another world.

I enjoyed this collection of short stories. For the most part, what connects these stories is the science fiction genre. Two stories follow the same characters: “Part 1: The Last of Your Kind” and “Part 2: The First of your Kind.” And this two-part story gives us a unique take on how Earth became inhabited by humans.

I had a little harder time getting into some of the stories than others. “Dangers of Atmospheric Entry” was one such story. It’s not that it was poorly written (none of the stories are); I just had a harder time suspending my disbelief in this story. While others, like “The future you imagine, Doctor, is not the future of the future,” I was able to buy into completely. I suppose it came down to the fact that some of the stories seemed more plausible than others, as if some could be real or come true.

With this said, I did enjoy all the stories. And since Robbie Sheerin was inspired by classic science fiction, it felt only natural (to me, at least) that HG Wells was included in one of the stories. I truly liked these stories and wouldn’t mind reading more from Robbie Sheerin, even something that’s longer, like an actual novel.

Tales from Another Dimension, by Robbie Sheerin, brings us great science fiction stories. Even with the stories being short, it’s obvious that each one has a well-developed world that helps ground the reader in the story and great characters that we can get behind, and even cheer for.

Pages: 152 | ASIN : B09MDQ5VH7

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