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A Strange Combination

David K. Hulegaard Author Interview

David K. Hulegaard Author Interview

Icarus details the captivating account of P.I. Brinkman’s investigation into the disappearance of young Jane Emmett. What was your inspiration behind this story?

I’ve suffered from night terrors since I was a child, and sometimes the dreams can get pretty intense. Over time, I’ve learned how to use this to my advantage, and I keep a notepad and pen on my nightstand to scribble down as much as I can remember. The first seeds of Icarus began there, and then I started to fill in the rest over the next couple of months. I’d say the concept is a hybrid of influences: the TV series Lost, the video game series BioShock, and the movie Battle Royale. It’s a strange combination of things that really shouldn’t fit together, but I still somehow felt they could.

This story is set in West Virginia in 1947. Why did you choose this time and place as the backdrop?

I wanted the story to take place in a fictitious location, but still feel believable. I love it when people tell me they’ve googled Ashley Falls trying to find it on a map. 😊 I guess I’ve always been drawn to small towns. I love the sense of community, and the whole “everyone knows everybody” atmosphere. Ashley Falls is a sleepy little town nestled away in the woods, but close enough to big cities so that it’s not completely cut off from the rest of the world. I ultimately chose West Virginia because of its proximity to key places I thought would make for a great setting.

As for the decade, it was the perfect fit for what I was trying to accomplish. I’m fascinated with urban legends and conspiracy theories, and some of my favorites are from the ‘50s and ‘60s. I thought it would be fun to pull some of that mid-century paranoia into a post-WWII world and see what it might’ve looked like. I mean, if people reported seeing men in black in the ‘60s, how much earlier were they in existence before they were actually noticed?

One thing I found exceptional in this novel was the characters, especially Miller Brinkman. What were some themes you wanted to capture while creating his character?

Thank you! I really appreciate that. What I ultimately wanted for Miller was to be relatable. When you look at some of the most famous detectives in literature, you start to see a lot of the same characteristics. I wanted to create a character who was different. He’s not a big city P.I., and he doesn’t have much experience dealing with things like kidnapping and murder. Although he’s a logical and capable sleuth, Miller’s still sort of getting his feet wet and learning on the job. I wanted readers to come along on his journey and hopefully be invested in his growth.

It was also important to me to find the right balance in his character. He’s not Superman, but he’s not bumbling either. No answer comes to him easily. I wanted him to work hard for every inch he advances in the case.

Icarus is the first book in the Noble Trilogy. What can readers expect from book 2 in the series, The Invisible War?

The Invisible War is a bit of a departure from Icarus. It had to be. Miller couldn’t have gone through the events of the first book and come out the same man, so I really wanted to explore his mental state, and what that meant for his future. He made some powerful allies in Icarus, and those relationships open the door for him to explore a new opportunity working with the F.B.I.

In Icarus, we see Miller working somewhat in a silo. In The Invisible War, he’s handed a rather sinister case that’s going to require more help, and he’s put in charge of a special task force. Miller’s never had to lead before, so this is an opportunity for him to evolve even further.

However, something else is changing inside Miller at the same time. He’s becoming stronger. Faster. Bloodthirsty. Something dormant inside of him is beginning to bloom.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

It’s the winter of 1947 in Ashley Falls, West Virginia, and a teenage girl has gone missing. Local private detective Miller Brinkman takes the case, quickly uncovering a string of bizarre clues. A hidden diary, cryptic riddles, and buried secrets all pique Miller’s interest, but one key detail gives him pause: the girl’s parents haven’t reported her disappearance to the authorities. As the case deepens, Miller’s investigation begins to poke holes in the idyllic picture of his beloved hometown. No longer certain whether anyone in his community can be trusted, Miller dives headfirst into a desperate search for the truth that extends far beyond the borders of Ashley Falls. He soon discovers that his missing persons case is not an isolated incident, but part of an otherworldly mystery—one that, if confronted, may threaten the very future of humanity.

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Book Nomads

Some time ago my friends and I were sitting in a small restaurant near our office in Amsterdam. Food was great, the conversation was flowing, and even though I don’t exactly remember what we were talking about, a spontaneous and intriguing thought popped up in my head.

Are my books bored?

Of course, I love all my books, and every time I bought one I always treated it with the upmost respect but, was that enough? How boring must it be to sit on a bookshelf…. forever?

Some of them, like ‘The Courts of Chaos’, I keep re-reading every month, but most of them I just read once and it is over.

I thought a bit more about the reason why. I feel like it is related to latest data-driven optimizations and profiling trends in all entertainment. Movies, Video games, Anime and Books, big studios/companies/mangakas are producing so much, and so much of it looks good-ish, but turns out to be just exploitation of the market. Very few want to put themselves out there and push the boundary so they can make me re-live their story over and over again. Kind of depressing when you think about it. I am not saying that great work is less than before, it is just harder (for me) to find.

Anyway, this was a bit off topic. After I thought about my books sitting on that lonely bookshelf at home, I thought, how cool it will be if I could just share them with my neighbors?

First I would meet someone who reads things that I read, and, for purely selfish reasons, I could ask this person to recommend me some books that I might like, or at least books that I would want to get from his re-reading book list.

That seemed really awesome!

I shared the idea with my friends, and they also loved it, so we decided to build a platform to facilitate borrowing and lending books. We launched https://www.booknomads.com.

Shortly after, I shared my first book ‘The Design and Implementation of the FreeBSD Operating System’ (https://www.booknomads.com/browse/book/165/1) and it felt great. I learned so much from it, it was a shame for it to sit all day long, bored and ignored on a bookshelf. Now it is on an adventure by being a booknomad 🙂

BookNomads is still quite young and you can help us improve it by giving us feedback, or adding your books.

Any feedback is invaluable.

Thanks in advance!

PS: My daughter(6 yo) also loves it, and now she is waiting for someone to borrow her books so she can make new friends.

PPS: I wonder if there is a name for that feeling you get after you finish a book, the more the book resonates with me the stronger it is. It feels like emptiness and completeness at the same time, as if I am stretched into the abyss. I want to get the books that made you feel like that!

Borrow books around you

because books deserve to travel

 

Tainted, Dirty, Rundown, and Lying in Ruins

Author Interview: Jerry J.C. Veit

Author Interview: Jerry J.C. Veit

Capricorn follows Montague, a vigilante that delivers justice as he sees fit in a dystopian future where crime rules the city. What was your inspiration for this story and how did it develop as you were writing?

Capricorn was based on a poem I wrote in my late teens. The poem was basically Montague’s entire monologue in the first few pages of his introduction when he is describing the city as a cancer.

The character of Capricorn is purity, but with a childlike persona; which, when put into an adult woman, makes her appear to be crazy. Capricorn’s character is loosely based on Kai, who is kind of a strange, childlike girl in the PlayStation 3 game, Heavenly Sword.

I had much of the dialogue previously planned out before writing and I knew how it was going to end. The hard part was trying to make it feel justified. Montague had to find internal resolution and defeat his own demons. That’s why his 7 trials had to take place.

Montague is an intriguing character. I wasn’t able to pin down if he was an anti-hero or a good or bad guy, which was part of his appeal. What morals did you try to capture while developing his character?

Montague is someone who has given up on humanity. Everyone is a villain in his eyes. He abandons his own name in an attempt to forget his former self and become something similar to the angel of death. His job, he gave himself, is to bring some sort of balance back to the world and to do so means killing everyone who is unjust; which seems to be mostly everyone.

The only thing that makes him human is his compassion towards the innocents trapped in this city of violence. He saves a woman from being raped, but when a thief is murdered right in front of him he merely just walks over his dead body.  He wants to protect good people, but at the same time believes there are no good people. This conflict puts him in a dark place.

I felt the backdrop of the crime ridden city was vividly developed. What themes did you want to use while creating your backdrop?

The main character of this story is the city itself. It’s tainted, dirty, rundown, and lying in ruins, but it remained this way because no one wanted to fix it. If you mixed the city in “The Book of Eli” and the city in “Judge Dredd” you would get the city in Capricorn. It’s a criminal’s paradise. It was never mentioned in the story, but you can almost imagine the sky being permanently overcast; it’s a type of hell and only Montague is fighting against it.

What is the next book that you are working on and when can your fans expect it out?

I’m a world builder. I put a lot of time into crafting the landscapes and populating them with life and a history. Even before I begin writing a story I come up with names of places and things or animals and peoples. That’s where I am now; writing pages and pages of notes which will eventually become appendices. They are developed mostly for me so I can keep track of everything; adding them into the book for the fans is just a byproduct of my writing process.

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebookWebsite

 

Capricorn

In the aftermath of a civil war the city is in ruins and without order. Montague administers his idea of justice with his black steel sword until he discovers Capricorn. He becomes drawn to her and vows to protect her, but this is challenged when a group of thugs kidnap her.

Montague is sent on a determined rescue mission, but in order to succeed he must battle the thugs of the city and their leader. Montague finds himself on a path of seven trials in order to gain entry into Mammon’s domain to save the one he loves.

 

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Keep My Mind Active

Jerry J.C. Veit Author Interview

Jerry J.C. Veit Author Interview

Apocalypsia details a post-apocalyptic Earth. Demons comb the land and what is left of humanity struggles to survive and trust one another. What was the inspiration that made you want to write such an immersive story?

I had a lot of time on my hands (haha). I was in my early twenties, worked two days a week, living in my parents’ basement, and was addicted to video games. Writing was my way to keep my mind active and a way to escape my uneventful reality. It started out as some dark and depressing poetry (some of which appears in the book). I felt like the only way I could find meaning in this world is if it ended. That was the idea that sparked Apocalypsia. I wanted to go on an adventure, and if I couldn’t live it, I could at least create it. I also drew inspiration from authors like Edgar Allen Poe, and Charles Dickens, and stories like Beowulf and Lord of the Rings.

This story is a fun blend of science fiction, fantasy and post-apocalyptic. Did you plan the novel before you wrote or did this happen organically?

I was told to always know the ending of your story before you begin. Apocalypsia was the exception. I had no idea where this story was going to go. At times I felt the story was telling itself and I was just the messenger. I never thought about what will come next only what was happening now.

In its infancy I wanted to make Apocalypsia a graphic novel. I wrote it into twenty-five separate books in a little over a year and a half. Since I cannot draw or know an artist that could take on this huge project I rewrote it to read more like a manga, but without the art; since I was into Japanese anime at that time. About a year later I developed a love of screenplays and the desire to write them. Apocalypsia was rewritten again into three different scripts due to its length and the 80-120 page constraint of a normal screenplay. When I discovered self-publishing the book that exists today got another overhaul. The book gained new content and became a little darker too. I was older so everyone in the story had to grow up also. Overall it took seven years and several rewrites before Apocalypsia appeared in our hands.

What is your writing experience and how has that helped you write Apocalypsia?

I actually wrote all of my books as screenplays first until I learned about self-publishing. I reformatted my screenplays into novelized script versions by taking away all the screenplay lingo, headers and directions, but kept the name of the speaker before my dialogue to cut down on “he said” “she said” throughout the entire story. Screenplays taught me about plot points and showing not telling. I learned to write a good ending and a good beginning and then finding out how to link the two. I learned how to write books by thinking about them as movies. Usually screenplays are the product of books. My books are products of screenplays.

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

I have started writing a steampunk story. I think that will be a cool genre to explore. I have the beginning written and several notes about the world, technology and devices that exist, and character backgrounds and personalities, but I’m still working on the plot so no release date in sight yet.

Author Interview: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

ApocalypsiaMuch of civilization lies in ruins after the mysterious happenings of a demonic uprising. In this post-apocalyptic world survivors must scavenge for supplies while taking up arms against demons, goblins, and even each other.

When an ally’s fort is attacked; a small group of survivors take it upon themselves to unite and stand against the further spread of demons. Along the way new allies agree to stand with them. Encountering stronger demonic threats and the discovery of an ancient artifact, which could destroy the boundaries between Hell and Earth, causes a collision of the human resistance into an epic final battle with the demonic forces.

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Potions are Toxic

Jason Hubbard Author Interview

Jason Hubbard Author Interview

The Legend of the Three Roses follows a magician’s apprentice and an assassin on a thrilling journey through a new series of books you’ve written. What was the inspiration for this book and the series that follows?

The story contains themes about morality and spirituality that I’ve been thinking about and wanted to “get out there.” My original idea was for a really grand epic featuring several parties all traveling to the same goal for different reasons. It would take place in a grand empire which grew prosperous due to a kind of sci fi concept. I never really took the idea seriously and hadn’t thought about it for a long time until I was suddenly inspired to simplify the story by making it about a boy and a girl, like many great stories. And I must confess, I borrowed a few ideas from some of the recent fantasy books I’ve been reading—things about medieval society and magic wards.

I really enjoyed the medieval setting of the novel. What themes did you want to capture while creating the world your characters live in?

I can’t say the world “Three Roses” takes place in is an accurate reflection of medieval Europe. I imagine the brick buildings of St. Mannington have a strong, advanced type of cement not found in the Middle Ages, when constructors commonly used mortar. Crossbows also weren’t around, but since this is a kind of make-believe Earth, I felt free to include any kind of invention as long as it was reasonably outdated in the modern world. Medieval Europe was of course a very Christian world, and I imagine many young people were like my main character, Kane, who is nearly pious to a fault. But in spite of being beholden to a religion that promotes peace and forgiveness, Europe was a very cruel place where people were treated like mere commodities and terribly punished. A quick Google search for “medieval torture devices” would definitely show you what I mean!

I always enjoy magic that is well thought out and believable. What decisions went into creating the magic system you use in your story?

The magic system was mostly inspired by a certain video game where potions are toxic. If you drink a potion, you can gain a boost to your stats or immunity to debuffs, but it costs you a little of your health. I never really thought of the possibility of potions being poisonous, and I thought it was an excellent way of keeping magic in check. I never want magic in my stories to be too powerful, because if it if it is, it can lead to story problems. When you have characters seem like gods, they can seem unrelatable and mere tools of plot convenience.

Where does book 2 in The Three Roses trilogy take the characters and when will it be available?

Right now, book 2 is all in my head. It takes place in Lonsaran, the rival kingdom of Kane and Callie’s homeland. They’ll have little choice but to settle there and look out for each other. The good news is that they’ll discover what the Three Roses are; the bad news is that Rainer the assassin is still alive … and he’s thirsty for revenge.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook

The Legend of the Three Roses (The Three Roses Trilogy Book 1)Embark on a thrilling dark fantasy adventure where one man’s faith and a woman’s spirit may shape a kingdom!

Four years ago, the Son of Man returned to Earth, seemingly to begin a new age of enlightenment. But two years later, he vanished without a trace …

Today, nineteen-year-old Kane Bailey–a nobleman and sorcerer’s apprentice–works and studies in his master’s tower in the middle of his nation’s capital. In spite of making a few mistakes (such as nearly blowing up a spellchamber), he shows the potential of being a great sorcerer. But his dreams of working with magic come to an end when he’s caught in the middle of an assassination attempt on the King’s life.

Upon getting captured by the assassin, Kane is swept up by lofty ambitions, terrible greed, and maddening bloodlust. Cut off from his sorcery, he’ll need to rely on his wits and knowledge to survive, as well as the trust and friendship of a young woman who may be taking on more than she can handle.

And a question lingers: What are the “Three Roses,” and what do they have to do with the impending war?

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Gaming and Death

Karen Glista Author Interview

Karen Glista Author Interview

Embellished is a relentlessly entertaining fantasy novel following a trio of teens as they are catapulted into a video game. What was the inspiration for the setup to this exciting novel?

I truly love online gaming and at one point I was thinking how awesome it would be to visit those antiquated worlds. I am also an R.N. and in my career, I have come face to face with death, more times than I care to admit. I love to write…its who I am, and on one particular day, for no credible reason, my mind which often times reverts to fantasy in lieu of reality, merged gaming and death and thus…Chronicles of Orian was born.

Bekka’s body is crippled by a disease, but in the game, she is whole again, but still has to find her voice and strength. How did you set about creating Bekka’s character?

Bekka created herself. I simply pictured a young patient in my mind and as amazing as it may be, she took a deep breath and exhaled. I saw her, but it was not just a vision…I felt her sorrow. She was commanding of attention and as strange as it may sound, I simply scribbled what was happening, her responses to the environment, her heart, her needs, her pain and above all else, her intense desire to love and be loved. She’s an incredible young woman and unto the end (book 3 in the trilogy) with only faith as her weapon she faces evilness even death, not only to forge her own destiny, but to protect those she loves. I so admire her.

What I enjoyed more than the deeply complex characters is the intricately woven plot with twists that I rarely saw coming. Did you plan the novel ahead of time or did the twists develop organically?

I do not use outlines. I simply sit at my computer…locked away from the world while the scenes play in my mind.

It seems like you had a lot of fun writing this book; did you?

I laughed and I cried but it was an incredible journey. I loved it and to be honest, I fell in love.

This is book one in the Chronicles of Orian series. Where does book 2 take readers?

Extolled, book two in the Chronicles of Orian trilogy is the continuing saga of Randar and Bekka who find themselves front and center as worlds collide, earth is ravaged by war and Orian is beleaguered by a humanoid race intent on world domination. Besieged by hated, lies, betrayal and grotesque horrors, battle lines are drawn and unexpectedly Bekka finds herself once more visited by her past…only this time her antiquated disease has an ugly twist, one that will affect not only her, but the daughter she lost so many years ago.

From the depths of blood and gore in a now seemingly doomed society, a forbidden love takes root. Audra, Bekka’s long lost daughter, now sixteen and incredibly naive, falls prey to a grotesque monster lurking behind the outrageously handsome face of a shape-shifting beast called Mardrid. Ordered to seduce her…or die, Mardrid finds himself helter-skelter for the very nearness of her warm, curvaceous body ignites such a dire and primal need to feed that maintaining his human persona is all but impossible. He quickly realizes he is playing a deadly game…one he may not win.

As secrets are revealed and truths are realized the drums of war echo throughout the land. Family turns against family, friends against friends and as the Scaff invasions and their insatiable lust for flesh intensifies, every faction in Orian is pushed to the brink of extinction. Few, if any, will survive and against all odds there will be blood…there will be sorrow…there will be gnashing of teeth.

Randar, who refuses to capitulate, gathers what’s left of the living outside of Uldrame for one last stand. With defeat, imminent and their backs to the wall, Randar gambles his life as well as those he loves on one last hope.

Can the heart of a naive young girl sway the face of death? Can Orian be saved…or is it already too late?

Author Links: Website | GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook

Embellished (Chronicles of Orian Book 1)When hunky, eighteen-year-old Travis Kurth lures his sister Bekka to assist him and his friends in an online game, he has no idea that all their lives are about to change… forever. Ripped from reality by an elemental force of nature, the party of five soon wake in a beautiful, but dangerous, new world called Orian.

Bekka, who is suffering from a genetic disease, the same malady that killed their mother, finds herself in complete remission, but there’s little time to celebrate as one, then another of their party falls prey to this unforgiving land.

Rescued from death by a battalion of human soldiers under the leadership of Vallas Onisquase, Crown Prince of Adosarath, Bekka discovers that in Orian refuge comes at a steep price. The arrogant, dangerously handsome Vallas, beguiled by Bekka’s beauty, sets in motion a plan to make her his own, but the royal entourage falls under attack by a blood-thirsty humanoid faction called Vadarcs.

Abducted, Bekka finds herself deep in Vadarc territory with no chance of rescue. Leashed like an animal, abused, humiliated and placed on an auction block, she is purchased by blood and gold to become the property of Randar Ataurik, a humanoid, tusked, barbarian, Vadarc prince.

Vallas who is obsessed with his newly betrothed, demands her return but Randar, in the long held tradition of Vadarcs, has bound her by blood.

As the winds of war sweep the land, Bekka finds herself in a deadly triangle.

Embellished is the first book in an epic, paranormal romance.

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Embellished

Embellished (Chronicles of Orian Book 1)

Have you ever imagined what it would be like to live inside your favorite video game? Karen Glista’s novel, Embellished, the first novel in The Chronicles of Orian trilogy, takes us on a wild ride with a story about teens who find themselves inside the world of the M.M.O.R.P.G. game, The Battle of Orian. While playing the game during a lightning storm, Bekka, Travis, and Matt are suddenly transported into the antiquated world of Orian. Bekka, a teen suffering from a rare genetic disease, finds herself fully healed from her earthly ailments and rises up the royal rankings. Meanwhile, her brother, Travis, and his friend Matt continually search for an escape back to Earth. Their only hope for escaping this world is finding the only other human from Earth, also trapped in the game, before they’re all killed by dangerous creatures.

Embellished is so much more than a fantasy/paranormal romance with a fair amount of compelling, steamy scenes. Embellished transcends genre boundaries through incorporating elements of adventure, suspense, and gruesome battle scenes. What makes it even more exciting to read is the development of its deeply complex characters and intricately woven plot with twists that’ll leave you gasping.

The novel opens with a group of teens playing The Battle of Orian on a stormy night in Texas, when lightning strikes their home and catapults the teens into the world of the game. Little do they know that their real-life bodies on Earth are rapidly deteriorating. Luckily, they know how to defeat evil spiders, bears, and violent Vadarcs, a sub-human species.

While the novel begins by focusing on Travis, who becomes the leader of the group, the perspective shifts to his sister, Bekka. She starts as a somewhat timid, soft-spoken individual, as her body on Earth was ravaged by the rare Marfan’s disease, but once she begins to find her voice, Bekka truly blossoms into a bold, outspoken, and open-minded heroine. I thought that it made the story so much more compelling to give Bekka these strong character traits, since it added suspense to the decisions she had to make.

Glista does a great job of capturing the inner feelings that any person would have when faced with a love triangle. Bekka befriends Atharia and even becomes betrothed to Atharia’s brother, the devastatingly handsome Vallas. But during a harrowing attack, she and Atharia are taken captive by a belligerent Vadarc tribe. After she meets Zandar, a half-Human Vadarc who exudes masculinity and passionate sensuality, Bekka wonders if she can ever go back to her life with Vallas again. She has the chance to choose between Vallas and Zandar – attracted to the different qualities within both men, she is torn between her desire for passionate, romantic love, or for safety and security.

Glista also masterfully incorporates multiple themes that add multiple layers to the novel. For example, Bekka discovers that there are deeply entrenched discriminatory practices between the Humans and Vadarcs, and after learning the history of the Vadarcs, Bekka begins to preach open-mindedness to her Human friends.  I thought this was an extremely vital and current theme to have as it relates pretty directly to racial issues within today’s world.

As the first novel in the Chronicles of Orian trilogy, Embellished provides a bit of closure at the end, but it’ll definitely be interesting to see what happens to Bekka, Travis, and Matt in the next installment.

Pages: 302 | ASIN: B01M5BZVQ1

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The Hunter’s Rede

The Hunter's Rede (Chronicles of Ealiron, #1)3 Stars

The Hunter’s Rede by F.T. McKinstry is a tale of adventure, mystery and deceit. Lorth is a hunter/assassin who obeys the Hunter’s Rede; a series of rules the dictate the isolated lifestyle of an assassin. He has never questioned their necessity; until now.

He is summoned home by the mysterious Mistress of Eusiron and arrives to find the region invaded by the Faerin army. Even more alarming; a member of the Keepers of the Eye has been assassinated.

Lorth must use his wits, magic, and sheer determination to escape being framed for the murder, find the perpetrator and defeat the invaders. All the while, he must juggle the Hunter’s Rede – a selfish code – with morality, loyalty, and love.

This is an enjoyable read for those who like suspenseful fantasy. The world building is strong and specific; a requirement in fantasy stories. The battling kingdoms, the Hunter’s Rede, and the Keepers of the Eye are all thoroughly referenced and explored by the author. However, the origins of the Rede are vague and difficult to visualize.

The characterization is fuzzy at first but the reader eventually becomes well acquainted with many of the characters who decorate the story. Lorth, in particular, grows on the reader overtime. Some of the most enjoyable characters are placed in the background and only dip into the story occasionally – such as the amiable Captain Ivy.

The plot is entertaining and ornamented with twists and tension. The story focuses on its characters and conflicts but also has a strong theme revolving around morality and sacrifice, which finds its way into the story. You could say that The Hunter’s Rede is inspired by the video game series Assassins Creed; as I felt that it dealt with similar concepts, story models and parallel titles. But I enjoyed the variances that allowed The Hunter’s Rede to have uniqueness.

While the story has some thrilling action scenes, at times they were either too cumbersome or unclear. Overall the story was clever and entertaining except for the romance moments which come off as less inspired. The Hunter’s Rede is one proofread away from being a fascinating and exciting read.

Pages: 303 | ASIN: B01LZS174X

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Hungry Monster Book Awards: November 2016

The Hungry Monster Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and The Hungry Monster is proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.

Gold Book AwardGold Award Winner

Bean Takes a Walk by Ann Bevans & Matthew Ethan Gray

Silver Book AwardSilver Award Winners

Mother Athina by Danny Estes

Game Over by Derek Eddington

Beyond Cloud Nine by Greg Spry

The Second Sphere by Peter Banks

Seed of Treachery by C.A. MacLean

Wolves Among Sheep by Steven Pajak

Chaste: A Tale From Perilisc by Jesse Teller

The Six and the Gardeners of Ialana by Katlynn Brooke

“When I look at a book, I see the history of books, old tomes with sacred knowledge. The authorities that controlled the books controlled the people. Books brought the old world to order. My books are how I bring my life and my thoughts to order, the only lasting way I can see to impart wisdom and ask questions.” – Jesse Teller author of Chaste

Visit the Hungry Monster Book Awards page to see award information and see all award winners.

Data Pilots

Data Pilots by [Wall, W.H.]4 Stars

Data Pilots takes the classic “secret level” lore from video games – finding the secret level grants the player an elite, secret status – and uses it to transport the hero, Tom Howard, into a world where his brain is seamlessly integrated into an exclusive development playground. Neuralverse is an open-source database environment set aside for a few privileged thinkers where literally anything they can think of is rendered in immersive virtual reality.

Tom is something of a prodigy. He’s able to master Neuralverse controls almost immediately, makes a basic UI change and is rewarded with praise from the best data pilots in the system. He also discovers the darker side, full of hackers and profiteers. What he does with his power can either secure or topple this virtual world, and he doesn’t know who to trust.

A lot of this story hearkens back to the early days of the cyberpunk genre, like the integration of computing with the human brain, visualizing computerized data as an immersive experience, even holodecks. The author uses a lot of ideas from the past and blends them all together to build this world. I enjoyed the way that music takes an important role in the story, but can’t say too much – you’ll have to read it to find out. There’s also a neat time dilation in the Neuralverse. Since everything happens at the speed of thought, four hours spent on one project inside is more like four minutes in the real world.

Tom comes across as almost too talented, even for a teen prodigy. Everything is easy for him, and he masters complex skills in a very short time. Most (but not all) obstacles provide more than a moment’s annoyance. His skill earns him great praise from the other data pilots in the system. However, Tom does have humanizing flaws that he must overcome. He has a selective memory and does things like ignoring EULA notices as well as disregarding advice to keep his overworked brain from exhaustion.

My biggest problem with the book is that the author kills any suspense or tension built up during a scene by disclosing the bad guys’ identity and intent. The book is full of, “unbeknownst to Tom…” and “Little did he know…” moments that telegraph a critical plot twist long before it happens. The book needs some editing tweaks. The most common problem is putting dialogue from two or more speakers on the same line, without a paragraph break. In some scenes, it’s difficult to tell exactly who is speaking since it all runs together.

Data Pilots is a fast-paced novel for younger readers, immersing them into a race-against-time climax to unlock memories and data in order to protect a unique, collaborative environment from destruction. I’d suggest this for ages 12-18 because I think teen readers will find a lot to like here, especially if they are also interested in programming and designing virtual worlds.

Pages: 130 | ASIN: B01MSI7LL1

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