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Ain’t No Messiah

Ain't No Messiah: A Novel (Tales of the Blessed and Broken Book 1) by [Tullius, Mark]

Ain’t No Messiah by Mark Tullius is a dark and intriguing novel about the life of Joshua Campbell. Set in the United States, it’s a tale of his life, from birth to adulthood. Significant family members such as his mother, father and brother walk some of his journey with him as well as childhood friends that reappear in early adulthood. Estranged family members are in his mind all the while and readers meet them briefly as he tries to connect with them.

Having almost died at birth, Joshua’s father labelled him the messiah. His father continues to use this label throughout Joshua’s unusual life; citing near death experiences as miracles. His father publishes books about him and fashions a new church and business on the miracles of the messiah. Despite calling him the messiah, he  verbally and emotionally abuses and neglects him on a regular basis. Joshua consistently refuses to believe he is the messiah and begins to rebel against his father’s rules. Eventually, at 17 he decides to run away, and experiences the world in a new light, but finds he still can’t shake the title of Messiah.

As the story progresses it is unclear whether he seeks out trouble, or trouble seeks him out, and this grey area is what kept me engaged throughout the story. Joshua is dragged into a world of sex and drugs, but he still has to run from his label as the messiah and his tyrannical father. As Joshua is pulled deeper into this world it becomes unclear who he can trust and things turn into a life and death situation. This reminded me of how Stephen King sets up his stories to deliver poignant ideas through simple prose.

Ain’t No Messiah kept me engrossed until the very end. As I read I kept questioning whether Joshua would break free forever from his father, or if he would be tempted by the life of fame and comparative comfort? At times I questioned his life choices and whether he could trust the people he aligned with. The main characters were well developed and believable. However, I felt there were far too many minor characters in the story that kept entering and disappearing. At times it became difficult to keep track of who was who. This detracted from the overall story as I had to pause and try to remember who the character was and why they were important to the story. The transition between flashbacks to past events and present day were clear at the start of the book, however near the end they became less clear which also distracted from the overall continuity. Overall this is an interesting and well written book that delivers a thought provoking message by putting a fascinating character in evocative situations that beg one to reflect on the choices we all make in life.

Pages: 326 | ASIN: B07KCQ8P17

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Scream Aim Fire

Jennifer LeBlanc Author Interview

Jennifer LeBlanc Author Interview

Paper Heart is a collection of poetry about love, loss and life. When you first started writing poetry did you know you would one day publish a collection?

When I first started writing it at ten years old, it wasn’t something I really thought about. Essentially I was already doing that by writing a poem on a legal pad, tearing off the page, and then handing it to my mother to read. So it didn’t really cross my mind at that time. It wasn’t until I later started reading it more, in books from the library, that I thought to myself “I want to do this. I want my words in a book like this.” Because I loved reading and I loved reading poetry and anything lyrical that spoke to my soul. It was a lot like music to me and music is something I have an undying love for.

I felt that the poems all explored very emotional topics. What were some ideas you often explored in your poetry?

A little bit of everything, but all of them stem from personal experiences. So depending on the emotions the experience evoked, the tone and feeling would reflect what I felt at the time or what I was thinking. A lot of my personal experiences are things that were hard to overcome or hurtful. Which is why those poems are dominant in the collection and not the brighter happier ones, because that’s not what this collection is about. It’s about each little piece of my heart being put on paper whether good or bad, no matter which outweighs the other. It may not be something every reader can relate to, because these are my thoughts and my emotions. Some may interpret these poems differently than others and for some it won’t evoke much, but that is because this is about me and what I went through. That being the case, it’s very subjective. If someone reading it didn’t have the same experiences they won’t understand it or be able to relate to it. I basically wrote it as a form of therapy for myself. If others can relate and really enjoy it great, but if others don’t that’s okay too.

My favorite poem is ‘Be Every Color of the Sun’. Do you have a favorite poem from the collection?

I actually don’t have a favorite because I like them all for different reasons. One that stands out though, that I had a very emotional experience writing is Scream Aim Fire. That poem pulled from a very dark place and stems from a broken relationship with a family member that I truly care for, but we have grown apart because of arguments and constant misunderstandings of each other. I honestly wasn’t sure putting it in the book was a good idea at the time, but it may speak to someone else going through the same thing with someone in their family. Finishing it and actually getting the words down helped me release a lot of pent up resentment towards that person and it was how I was able to move on and let that dark cloud inside me drift away.

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

I am currently working on my second poetry collection titled Lotus & Fury which will be released hopefully in February of 2019. I also have a few other projects that I am outlining for fictional stories that will be released later next year.

Author Links: GoodreadsTwitterInstagramTumblrFacebookBookbubAmazonWebsite

Paper Heart by [LeBlanc, Jennifer]

It is crinkled, torn and frayed,
but it’s still a heart all the same…

Paper Heart is a collection of poetry stemming from the places where light and darkness have shaped who Jennifer LeBlanc is as a writer. Written over years of introspection, love, pain, and hope, each poem is a placeholder for something that held her mind for either a bright moment or a dark hour.

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The Watchers: The Blood Dagger: Volume 2

The Watchers: The Blood Dagger Series by [Hayes, Misty]

Corinth is not the man he used to be, and Larna is certainly not the woman she once was. Together, the two lifelong friends make a pair of opposites like no other. When Corinth finds himself with the dagger that inexplicably seems to grant him Sight, Larna begins to notice changes in Corinth that she isn’t sure she understands or likes. Larna, a newly-turned vampire and her best friend, Corinth, a Watcher, both feel an overwhelming sense of foreboding that has nothing to do with their mission to find and destroy Gabriel, the most vile of vampires. As they make their way through one life-threatening situation after another, Corinth and Larna tiptoe around more than one unspoken question in their relationship.

There are plenty of readers who will pick up The Watchers: The Blood Dagger #2 by Misty Hayes and proclaim it, at first glance, to be nothing more than a take on the story told in the Twilight series. Do NOT be fooled. Misty Hayes has taken the age-old vampire tale to a whole new level! She goes far beyond the Twilight-type plot and leaves it in the dust helplessly spinning its wheels. Once upon a time, I thought that entire series was the be-all end-all of vampire tales, but Misty Hayes’s Blood Dagger series is quickly bumping it from the coveted spot.

I had the pleasure of reading The Outcasts: The Blood Dagger #1 and was enamored from the get-go. Hayes is a master at character development, and nowhere is that more apparent than in her descriptions of Corinth and Larna and their self-talk. The second guessing and self-examination the two do throughout the text allow readers a firsthand look at their fears and their apprehension as well as their own amazement at their growing powers. Reading The Outcasts prior to reading The Watchers is not a must, but it is most certainly a plus when examining the growth the two main characters exhibit. Hayes does a phenomenal job of making this a stand-alone novel that serves to fire up readers’ desire to hear the full backstory of Corinth, Larna, and the feared Gabriel.

Hayes’s books are filled with humor. For as breathtakingly full of action as they are, they are equally as humorous. Hayes peppers her work with quips and one-liners, giving a fantastic depth to each of her characters. Readers will fall in love with Corinth and Larna if for nothing else than their ability to find humor in the most dire of circumstances.

Not to be overshadowed by the light hearted and whimsical, the dark and brooding element is definitely present in Hayes’s characters. In The Watchers, Corinth undergoes quite the transformation and is in the midst of examining his lineage, both of which are giving him pause. As Larna struggles to understand her friend’s trials, she cannot fully delve into his issues due to her own intense physical training and the division she feels between her love interest, Alastair, and Corinth himself.

Hayes writes romantic scenarios in the most tasteful and thoughtful ways. The Watchers: The Blood Dagger #2, though billed more as young adult fiction, appeals to fans of vampire tales as well as fantasies. Hayes’s work fits neatly into a variety of age ranges and genres beginning, but certainly not limited to, young adult.

Hayes’s work is, hands down, some of the most striking to hit shelves in the last decade. There are no characters out there like Corinth and Larna, and Hayes’s style of writing in alternating perspectives helps give rise to the inevitable success of The Blood Dagger series. I’m waiting with bated breath for book 3!

Pages: 515 | ASIN: B07KRHLT26

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Stockboy

Stockboy by [Duffy, Thomas]

Stockboy by Thomas Duffy is the story of Phillip, a man who is in his dead-end job. Stuck with no relationship. Stuck in his mundane life. Phillip is a good guy. He is smart. He has a degree. He has an excellent work ethic. However, he feels like he is only spinning his wheels and wasting his time on a life that is going nowhere. He feels his life ticking away while waiting for his love life to work out, his bosses to see his potential, and fulfillment to come his way.

Phillip is such a relatable character. He is sort of an “everyman” underdog. Everyone has felt unfulfilled at some point in his or her life. Readers will definitely identify with this character. He is the typical good guy who finishes last. He’s smart and capable and a great worker. He also gets passed over time and time again for promotions or wage increases at his bookstore job. When he does find a woman he loves, his life tailspins in that area as well. He can’t catch a break. As my grandfather would have said, “If it’s not one thing, it’s the same thing.” Phillip lives a “Groundhog Day” sort of life on his cyclical hamster wheel of a life.

The themes in the story fit right into our current social climate. Wages are stagnant. Growth is slow. College students owe student loans they can’t pay while working jobs below their qualifications. People can’t go to the doctor because they can’t afford insurance. When they do get insurance, they are still scared to go to the doctor for fear that the condition will be worse than they expect. People are living paycheck-to-paycheck. Opportunities for a better life are few and far between. People still manage to get up, put their torn sneakers on, and go back to the grind everyday. This is Phillip. He personifies a big chunk of the American workforce, and likely those abroad.

The writing is great. It is simple and direct without being boring. It doesn’t feel pompous or overbearing. Thomas Duffy is a good author that way. He reels you into his stories and his characters in a way that doesn’t leave you feeling he’s attempting to make up for content with flowery language. The content is there, so he doesn’t have to put on airs. I saw one or two simple typos. Beyond that, the spelling, sentence structure, etc. are great. This was an easy read. The book is easily digestible and could be knocked out in a weekend. Duffy books are always page-turners for me.

Other than a few minor errors the writing is solid, the characters are relatable and the situations they find themselves in will hit close to home for many readers. I like this writer’s style and have read his work before. He delivered again and didn’t disappoint. I’d love to read more of his work.

Pages: 200 | ASIN: B00CA517C8

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Seven Beyond

Seven Beyond by [Atrium, Stella]Dr David Christopher Meenins finds himself haunted. Haunted and disturbed by his past. He needs to reconcile with that past in order to move forward to a new home world. On the journey to self-discovery and a somewhat clean conscience, he is accompanied by mysterious Linda Deemer and the fabulous Lady Drasher among others. These people will all grow closer as the journey progresses. They will help the good Doctor unravels his past and come to terms with it. They will grow to become good friends and their friendship will lead to finding a new home, one that they will all revere.

The relationship between the characters is especially heartwarming. It is a beautiful friendship between inherently different people. All with different patterns of thought but are similar in the quintessence of human nature. The characters are all loveable and relatable to the reader. Their warmth and personalities jump off the pages and wrap the reader in a halo of joy. Lady Drasher is a particularly outstanding character. Her strength and stance are inspiring and mesmerizing. The author has made the female characters into pillars. They are not merely damsels but strong women who rely on their own capabilities.

Stella Atrium executes the plot with lustrous expertise and flair. Her writing flows effortlessly. She effectively captures the attention of the reader and keeps it hostage until the very end. The book is colored with intrigue, adventure, and a splash of humor. Maybe a dollop of romance on the side. The plot is quite original. For a fiction fantasy book, this story is quite enthralling. Weaving in fantasy worlds can be quite tricky and most probably doomed to fail but the author has handled it very well. Her portrayal of the characters in their natural (or unnatural) forms is impressive and masterful. This book is evidence of the vast level of creativity the author holds.

Dr Meenins is a wonderful character. His disposition works to gain the allegiance of the reader. One will find themselves cheering him on as he escapes assassins and works hard at his mission. At the beginning, the reader will have a little trouble staying on track but that situation dissolves quickly. It may also be problematic to keep up with the characters. This does not influence the literary experience. The book still holds charm and just enough mystique to look past that issue.

You will experience a cornucopia of emotions with this book. This is not the book you idle about with by the pool. It is a book you take seriously. A book you read intentionally and with fervor. The author will display exactly how deep her well of vocabulary runs. Either you can enjoy that or let it daunt you. If you choose the former, a scintillating experience is in store. There is nothing like it. Take the trip with Dr Chris.

Pages: 290 | ASIN: B00ICTAIN0

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One Love

One Love by [Duffy, Thomas]Thomas Duffy’s book, One Love, is a tale of both love and heartache. Protagonist Tim is torn between a “what might have been” sort of love and another that is actually in front of him. Duffy doesn’t paint over the ugly parts of love, instead highlighting them. He exposes what love looks like in real life, not some fairy tale version that we were taught in the movies. Duffy doesn’t shy away from the flaws and complexities of his characters. His is a raw and honest account of entangled and intertwined relationships that examines what we sacrifice for love, and the love we may sacrifice for security.

A book has to really grab me from page one for me to read it quickly. I got through this one in two days, even with other things going on. I was pulled in. I was fascinated and wanted to see what happened from page to page. I went through a range of emotion with the characters. I wanted to hug Tim and slap him sometimes at the same time. The same went for Louie and Melody at times. I felt like I was peeking in on intimate details of lives I shouldn’t be seeing but wanted to see at the same time. Thomas Duffy pulled back the curtain on real life. He exposed what everyone tries to hide.

Readers will find themselves identifying with the characters. They are all flawed in some way or another, and that makes them more identifiable. Louie’s addiction, Tim’s stagnant career and failure to commit, Melody’s indecisiveness, Cindy’s crippling anxiety. Duffy covers the gamut of dysfunction. Chances are that each reader will see his or herself in at least one of the characters. I appreciated the realism and admittedly saw myself in a character or two. Everyone has a “what might have been” scenario or two. This book lets readers vicariously live one of those scenarios out.

I’m not a romance novel fan. I wouldn’t call this your average romance novel by any stretch. However, there are some sexual scenes in the book. They are not overpowering to the rest of the plot. They feel necessary and relevant to the story. You’ll find much more concentration on the feelings of the characters and their daily lives than sex, but it is there. -And, it is important to the story.

This one was a real page-turner for me. The writing was simple without being boring. There was no pretense. No stuffiness. I was completely interested in the lives of the characters from the first page until the last and found myself wanting to know more. The characters felt real. They were well-developed. I feel invested in their lives. I want to know what else happens.

The book is brilliantly written. It was a very easy read. The pace was perfect, and the plot flowed well. The characters felt real. I can’t say enough good things about this writer. I’d love to read more of his work.

Pages: 263 | ASIN: B00PAE4HV4

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“Is That Your Aunt in the Attic?”: Another Edna and Edith Adventure

“Is That Your Aunt in the Attic?”: Another Edna and Edith Adventure by [Fletcher, Barbara, Gauthier, Cheryl]

Is That Your Aunt in the Attic? is a creative fiction novel that focuses on the characters of Edna and Edith, two sisters that are private investigators. The sisters have traveled across the country to get away from the wrath of an escaped convict whose plans to murder were foiled by the sisters. The ladies travel to San Francisco to get away and visit family, but they still find themselves as a target for the mobster’s hitman. What comes out of it is a strange sequence of events that proves how resourceful the sisters are in solving problems and getting answers to their questions.

One of the aspects of this story that I enjoyed was the whimsical situations that Edna and Edith seem to get themselves into. The authors, Barbara Fletcher and Cheryl Gauthier, are mother and daughter, and at the beginning of the novel, they mention that some of the events that take place in the novel are somewhat true and have happened to them in real life. I liked that disclaimer, because as I was reading the novel I could more easily picture some of the silly events that were happening to the sisters actually happening to someone like me and my sister. Some parts of the novel induced a good chuckle as I read them.

The only thing that I thought took away from the novel was the small talk that Edith and Edna made with each other. For instance, they would bring up a memory of a saying from their father or mention something weird or funny that they did a long time ago. In a way, the small talk adds a more realistic value to the novel; however, it seemed out of place and took away from the overall plot and momentum of the story.

Overall, this was a fun book and I would love to read another novel in this series.

Pages: 262 | ASIN: B0794PB8FR

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Pretty Dolls and Hand Grenades

Pretty Dolls and Hand Grenades by [Reinard, Cara]

Cara Reinard’s novel is an engaging story that gives readers a literary take on the popular genre of shows called the ‘The Real Housewives Of (enter your city of choice here)’ It tells the story of Cece and her family – her cheating rat of a husband and their children Camdyn and Josie. Very much modeled on the idea of the ‘American dream’, it lets the reader in on what goes on behind the closed doors of a family suffering from mental illness, infidelity, and financial issues.

Written from the first-person perspective of Cece, we see the female point of view in a neighborhood characterized by gossiping housewives who shame their friends at times they should be supportive. The women in the book are judgmental but are bound by the unspoken constraints of their society – lead by their successful husbands. This shows very clearly that the grass is not always greener on the more affluent side of town.

For Cece who suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, believed to be inherited from her mother, this environment is toxic and leads to her becoming unwell because she cannot conform to the rigid expectations set by those around her. At a time when she should be surrounded by friends and family, she has nobody to turn to. It highlights important issues in the affluent community as to why the women are not there for each other and the pressure of maintaining a perfect home life and family. This is something we all know to be impossible, yet people still strive for it anyway. It also raises the question as to why Cece cannot speak to anyone about her mental health. In the book, she does not once have a therapeutic conversation about it, and her condition is only seen as a bother to her family. Her friends seem unaware of her mental health problem and just think that she has migraines.

A theme that runs throughout the book is the importance of parental influence on their children. Cece grew up witnessing her mother’s erratic and unusual actions and her children now have similar behaviour. They also see her love for expensive material possessions and become spoiled – so much so that she even indulges their unhealthy habits which lead to danger and illness. They won’t even get the bus, which Cece and her husband admit with a tone of regret. Her children are spoiled but her and her husband are no better.

The book follows Cece as she tries to get her own back on her husband who has shacked up with his young assistant. At times it’s uncomfortable reading and really unsettles the reader as you question just who’s fault this all is. There are moments of danger, humor, and emotional turmoil which keep the reader engaged and invested in the book all the way through.

Pages: 265 | ASIN: B01B0XMC24

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Arlington Heights Book Trailer

Arlington Heights follows the course of a gifted and beautiful black woman who overcomes the stigmata of a youth of mistakes to become one of the more powerful forces in New York’s fashion and business scene. Arlington Cavanaugh has past her prime as a model and has committed her life to the building of the highly regarded fashion magazine, HEIGHTS. Through the novel she takes a journey that speaks not only to the incredible climb up the ladder of success, but also details all of the consequences of decisions made along the way by a woman so focused on escape from her past that she nearly loses her soul.

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Darkness in the Mirror

Ondie Reid, a schizophrenic who is finally living a normal, productive life with the help of medication, finds her world once again spiraling out of control when her daughter’s father, whom she is trying to win back, begins sleeping with her younger sister. Original.

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