Happy New Year
ISSUE 30 | January 2019
editor’s desk Welcome to Issue 30, January 2019 - Uncaged Book Reviews! Our Feature Authors this month are Andy Peloquin, Danelle Harmon, Azaaa Davis, Anna Markland, Pembroke Sinclair, Niki Cluff, Ross Greenwood and S.M. McCoy.
FangFreakinTastic is also bringing us a feature with author Bokerah Brumley. We have plenty of reviews for you to look over from Uncaged, Fang-Freakin-Tastic, Myra’s Horror Blog & Amy’s Bookshelf. Thanks to all the affiliates for the wonderful devotion to reading. Do you believe it’s already 2019? I can’t. And Uncaged is already beginning it’s changes. Starting now, the promo special that was very popular last summer is now in effect as a permanent feature, to add more value to ad purchasing in Uncaged. Also, Uncaged will now take on up to 9 authors each month for features, although reviews for the books will not be guaranteed - it’s still a wonderful promo spot.
tab on the site for more information on how you can advertise in the magazine and support the Uncaged mission to promote authors. Still ongoing, Tier 2 review submissions in Uncaged are closed to new submissions. If you want to submit a book, it will be held until the lists open again. Tier 1 review lists will remain open. Because of this backlog, books that are reviewed for feature authors will be placed in the Uncaged review section of the magazine, and although the author needs to be willing to allow Uncaged to review a book to become featured, the review is not a requirement within the feature itself. This is to attempt to clear up the long review submission lists.
All inquiries: UncagedBooks@gmail.com or Cyrene@UncagedBooks.com I want to wish everyone a happy New Year. Some changes to Uncaged for 2019 are already in effect, so stay tuned as improvements are made all year long. Until next month - keep reading!
Authors can now submit a Short Story, and in return, I’ll give space for either a full page ad, or a 1-page Sneak Peek of a book for an approved story. You can read more about that here. The Featured Authors that are promoted in Uncaged, is a FREE service to authors. The only requirements being that Uncaged has read at least one of the author’s books, (can be read right before the feature) and that I ask that the authors share the magazine with their networks. Read about that HERE. Uncaged is supported through advertising, both in the magazine, and on the site. Please see the Advertising 2| uncagedbooks.com
Issue 30 | January 2019
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Andy Peloquin S.M. McCoy
Danelle Harmon Anna Markland
2019 Promotion Special
upcomingconventions a convention near you and meet 6 Find your favorite authors. Happy New Year 2019 from Uncaged Book Reviews
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Editor’s Desk Blog Roll Call Uncaged Reviews Fang-Freakin-Tastic Reviews Myra’s Horror Blog Reviews Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews
Issue 30 | January 2019 |
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dark fantasy | paranormal | urban fantasy
feature author I am, first and foremost, a storyteller and an artist--words are my palette. Fantasy is my genre of choice, and I love to explore the darker side of human nature through the filter of fantasy heroes, villains, and everything in between. I’m also a freelance writer, a book lover, and a guy who just loves to meet new people and spend hours talking about my fascination for the worlds I encounter in the pages of fantasy novels. Fantasy provides us with an escape, a way to forget about our mundane problems and step into worlds where anything is possible. It transcends age, gender, religion, race, or lifestyle--it is our way of believing what cannot be, delving into the unknowable, and discovering hidden truths about ourselves and our world in a brand new way. Fiction at its very best!
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Please welcome Andy Peloquin Uncaged: It’s great to see you here again. Can you tell readers more about your two series, Queen of Thieves and Hero of Darkness and how they intertwine? Queen of Thieves occurs first in the chronological timeline—with Child of the Night Guild about 20 years before Hero of Darkness books, and Thief and Queen of the Night Guild about 8-10 years before Hero of Darkness. There are some overlap in characters (Graeme, the alchemist from Darkblade Assassin, shows up in Thief of the Night Guild), antagonists (Ilanna and the Night Guild have to face the Bloody Hand, the evil organization from Darkblade Assassin), city (Ilanna travels to Voramis), and a few other details (Ilanna steals the alchemical flesh the Hunter uses for his disguises). However, there’s not much overlap until Traitors’ Fate, which shows how Ilanna hires the Hunter to kill Lord Damuria, the nobleman who dies in the opening scene of Darkblade Assassin. Ultimately, she’s a huge part of the reason everything happens in the Hero of Darkness series because by hiring him to kill Lord Damuria, she sets him at odds with the Bloody Hand. That was a really fun story to write, and it was such a joy to make that connection. When there’s a proper crossover in Darkblade Justice (Hero of Darkness 7), it made it all the more epic!
Uncaged: You also have a podcast that runs weekly, The Fantasy Fiends Podcast, can you tell us why we should tune in? The Fantasy Fiends Podcast delves into fantasy as a genre, but instead of looking at writers and how they write, market, advertise, and promote themselves, we look at the deeper themes that drive their stories. Half of our show is dedicated to a discussion topic suggested by the author, one that is related to the theme of their novel—everything: humanity, politics, religion, gender, sexuality, psychology, and so much more. It’s an amazing way to showcase the aspects of fantasy that are just as grounded and real-life as any other genre! Then, the second half, we read and reenact a scene from the author’s novel, so we bring that to life with our goofy voices and narration. It’s a whole lot of fun— like an audiobook recorded live! At the end of this interview, please check out a podcast of The Fantasy Friends! Uncaged: What do you have coming out next that you can tell us about? January 22 brings the release of the Heirs of Destiny series, a spin-off sequel of both Hero of Darkness and Queen of Thieves. Essentially, Heirs of Destiny follows
young (17 year old) characters from both series that team up on a mission to save another city (Shalandra, the City of the Dead) from corruption, greed, evil, crime, monsters, and more! It’s aimed at younger adults, but it’s written for older, mature audiences just like all the rest of my books. Uncaged: You like to attend events and conventions. Are you attending any in 2019? What is one of your favorite activities at the conventions? I plan to attend at least a few conventions in 2019! While my schedule is still a bit up in the air, I do have very certain plans to attend InD’Scribe 2019 in October, as well as 20Booksto50K in November. Other than that, we shall see! When at conventions, I just love talking with new people about geeky, fantasy, sci-fi, and comic things. I specifically try to attend lots of Comic Cons because it’s so wonderful to be around likeminded people who enjoy the same geeky stuff I do. Uncaged: What are the benefits of joining your newsletter? Aside from getting a free short story (a very imIssue 30 | January 2019 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | portant prequel to Hero of Darkness), you get a detailed look inside my brain, my life, and what it means to be a writer. I try to make sure my newsletter content is always interesting, engaging, and funny. I also send out special deals—on my books and those of my friends—for limited time offers, new releases, and freebies. Uncaged: What is one of the most unusual things that a reader has said to you about your books? That their kids love them! Anyone who’s read even a few pages into my books will know they are NOT for kids! They’re dark, grim, and gritty, and I usually tell people that they’re suitable for older, more mature teenagers. But some people give them to their kids to read—what can you do? Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? Where is one of your favorite places on Earth? I’m actually a man of very simple tastes. My happy place is reading books, watching TV, spending time with my family, playing video games, exercising at the gym, socializing, game nights with friends, eating out at new and exotic locations, and enjoying a few good drinks. I’m all about the simple life, and I’m thrilled that my career as a writer affords me the luxury of enjoying it. One of my favorite places on Earth has to be Baja California wine country. Between the gorgeous views, the wonderful weather, the delicious food, and elegant wine, it’s a paradise for an indoorsy guy like me. Uncaged: What can you tell us that is very unique about you? I have Asperger’s Syndrome, which is on the Autism Spectrum. It’s something not many people know, but it’s not something I try to hide. In many 12 | UncagedBooks.com
ways, it has shaped my writing career in so many ways. It tends to reduce my thought patterns to formulas, so once I crack the formula for doing something (writing characters, worldbuilding, etc.), it’s something I can usually do fairly well. I’d say it has made me a better writer overall, but it has really given me a desire to understand people (and thereby my characters) more thoroughly. Because of my Asperger’s, I tend to walk my characters through their emotional journeys, which helps me to understand where they are going and what they are thinking. Ultimately, that leads to a better, more well-rounded character overall. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? Think hope! I’d like to believe the main message in all my stories is that there is a hope that things can and will get better. I love taking my character to dark places, then they claw their way out and find out that there’s a better, brighter future ahead. I believe that’s a message that all of us need to hang on to in these difficult times. Life will get better, eventually, and always! You can find me on my website (http://www.andypeloquin.com), on my Facebook Author Page (https://www. facebook.com/andyqpeloquin), on Amazon (https:// www.amazon.com/author/andypeloquin), or on YouTube as The Fantasy Fiends Podcast (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8KnIEoUDWRJkAhJ16CN5Dw) Click to play below
Enjoy an excerpt from Darkblade Assassin Darkblade Assassin Andy Peloquin Dark Fantasy The best assassin in the world doesn’t come cheap. Betraying him will cost your soul. The Hunter is a name feared by all in Voramis. He is an outcast, driven by a cursed dagger with an unquenchable thirst for blood and death. Yet he follows one simple code: kill those who truly deserve to die. His creed is put to the test when, deceived by a shadowy employer, he unknowingly slaughters an innocent man. With the most powerful criminal organization in the city after his head, the Hunter must fight for his life and find a way to atone for his mistake. When his enemies harm the people under his protection, it will take much more than an army of criminals to stand in the way of his revenge. If you love anti-heroes like the Punisher or Dexter in a breathtaking fantasy realm, then immerse yourself in Hero of Darkness today! Andy Peloquin delivers an epic tale of one man’s struggle to survive in a world of magic, blood, and death. Excerpt Courier Balgos slunk through the slums of Beggar’s Row, gagging at the stench of the litter-strewn streets. He wore the simple robes of a messenger, but even his humble clothing contrasted sharply with the staggering poverty around him. The odors of refuse, ordure, and death rose from piles of the gods-knew-what, hanging in a miasma so thick he could almost taste it. By the gods, if only there was some way to block out this stench.
| ANDY PELOQUIN | He placed his feet with care, studying the ground as he walked. I hope I don’t step in— “Shite!” he cursed aloud. Warm wetness filled his boot, causing him to gag. Thank the Illusionist I didn’t have breakfast, or it might join the rest of the fragrances in this horrible place. Two days had passed since the Feast of Illusionist’s Night, and Balgos still struggled with the after-effects of too much strong drink. His head had stopped pounding, but his stomach still recoiled at the thought of food. “Please, sir,” a voice warbled from a nearby pile of rags, “a coin?” From the heap emerged a scarred, pox-ridden face. The man’s mouth held few teeth, and a wart protruded from his broken nose. The eyes stared at him with a dull, listless expression. A grubby hand reached towards the courier, gnarled fingers covered in a thick crust of grime. Flaking flesh fell from the beggar’s arms and hands. “Get away from me, filth!” Balgos yelled at the leper, his eyes growing wide in horror. The messenger made the warding sign of the Maiden and hurried away. I have to get the frozen hell out of here before I catch something! The messenger muttered oaths under his breath, cursing the Hunter and his need for secrecy. He desperately wanted to flee Beggar’s Row, but he had a task to complete first. He scanned the street, searching for the sign of The Rusted Dangle. Relief flooded him as he rounded a corner in the street and spotted the inn. I just have to deliver my message and I can take a very long bath! The Rusted Dangle stood—barely, he thought—at the end of the lane. It appeared to be a nail away from collapsing. Its roof slanted at a dangerous angle, and far too many hastily constructed support beams held up the building. Rust had worn away the phallic sign that depicted the inn’s name, suspended on a rope so frayed a light breeze could blow it down. The inn’s front doors hung from hinges older than Voramis itself, Issue 30 | January 2019 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | and Balgos feared he would rip them out of the wall if he pushed too hard. The interior of the inn matched its dilapidated exterior. The furniture consisted of tables and chairs cobbled together from scraps of wood that had no right being used for construction. Behind the bar, stood a balding innkeeper that looked as old as the inn itself. “What can I get you, lad?” the man asked, his tone pleasant. I must be his first paying customer in years, thought Balgos. The messenger strode toward the bar, opening his mouth to answer. A raconteur in bright clothing bumped into him, almost knocking him over. “Watch where you’re going, halfwit!” Balgos yelled at the man. The traveling entertainer muttered something in response, and the courier gagged at the man’s putrid breath. That swill he drinks must be brewed in a latrine, he thought, pushing the man away. The drunk hardly noticed the insult and the shove, but stumbled toward an ancient-looking table in a dimly lit corner of the bar. Balgos wiped his hands on his tunic in disgust, trying in vain to scrub away the filth from the raconteur’s clothing. “Room Four,” he demanded of the bartender. The balding innkeeper waved a pudgy hand towards the hall at the opposite end of the tavern. “Right that way, sir. But first, might I offer you something to eat or drink?” The courier summoned every shred of etiquette he possessed. “Another time, perhaps,” he replied with a forced smile as he turned away from the bar. A quiet “ahem” sounded behind the courier. He turned back to see the pub landlord wearing an apologetic smile on his face, his hand held out expectantly. “Two coppers for use of the room, sir,” the bald proprietor said with an oily smile. Rolling his eyes, Balgos fished a pair of copper bits from his purse and deposited them in the innkeeper’s hand with a scowl. The man appeared 14 | UncagedBooks.com
not to notice. The coins disappeared into a purse beneath his clothing, and he returned to his futile task of wiping the filthy bar with an even filthier cloth. The floorboards of the dark hallway creaked beneath Balgos’ feet, and the scent of year-old unwashed sheets filled his nose. No wonder the Hunter likes this place, he thought. No one in his right mind would ever stay the night here. The door stood unlocked, and he hesitantly pushed it open. The room beyond was dark, the window covered with thick oilcloth to block out the light. Balgos closed the door and waited in silence, trying not to inhale the foul scents of the darkened room. “I hear you’re looking for me.” The deep voice echoed in the stillness. “Keeper’s icy balls!” Balgos cursed, startled. The courier jerked back, instinctively moving away from the threatening figure materializing before him. I didn’t even see him enter the room! “What the f—?” “You came for a reason, I assume,” the Hunter cut him off. Balgos snapped his mouth shut, fighting to calm his racing heart. The Hunter towered over him, his silhouette framed against the dim light filtering through the covered window. Balgos couldn’t see the assassin’s face, nor did he want to. “Sir Hunter,” he said, struggling to keep his voice calm, “I come with an unusual request.” The Hunter could have been made of stone for all the response he gave. The silence unnerved the courier and set his hands trembling. “Right,” Balgos stammered, “er, um, well, right.” He drew in a deep breath before continuing. “My, er, master requests that you visit him in his home. He—” “I don’t make house calls,” the harsh voice of the Hunter interrupted. “I know, sir, but I believe you will want to make an exception. My master is—” “I don’t care who your master is. If he wants to meet me, he will do so on my terms. The door is behind you.” “My master is unable to move around the city, or else he would meet with you in person.” Silence answered him.
| ANDY PELOQUIN | “But,” Balgos burst out in desperation, “my master will pay your normal fee just to hear what he has to say, and double if you agree to take the contract.” The room remained silent. Has he gone? Am I talking to an empty room? “He-hello?” “I am considering your master’s offer,” the Hunter intoned, his voice thoughtful. Balgos’ heart pounded in his chest, and sweat trickled down his back as he waited for the assassin’s answer. “Very well,” came the voice from the darkness. “The payment?” Balgos removed a heavy purse from within his robes, extending it towards the Hunter. The Hunter roughly plucked it from his hands, and the courier heard coins clinking in the darkness. “Tell your master I will call upon him tonight.” “Thank you!” Balgos gasped in relief. “My master will be pleased to hear it.” “Where would your master like me to meet him?” “At the Villa Camoralia, in the—” “I know the place,” the harsh voice interrupted. “Excellent! I will pass your message along to him, then. He will be pleased to hear it.” “Now go.” Without a backward glance, Balgos fled. He rushed through the dim taproom and pushed through the front doors without even a nod to the bartender. In his haste, he failed to notice the fact that the inebriated raconteur in his outrageous bright clothing no longer sat at his table. The foul streets of Beggar’s Row rushed by, yet still he ran, heedless of the voices crying out for coin, food, or drink. Only when he reached the Merchant’s Quarter did he slow. With a muttered curse, he turned his steps toward Upper Voramis and the Villa Camoralia.
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feature author Stevie Marie is the author of young adult paranormal fantasy and the Divine Series. Born within the apex of another universe, where magic flows like leaky faucets, and forged from the fires of the Underrealm she dug her way to Earth and reluctantly participates in human society, secretly returning to her home world to relay the stories of her monsters, and the troubled love of her people. When she isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t writing sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s crafting clothing in her sewing room, cuddling her significant-other creature, or pretending to adult by managing a portfolio of properties for an accounting business in the rainy city of Seattle, Washington.
Uncaged welcomes S.M. McCoy Uncaged: Welcome to Uncaged! Can you tell readers more about your Divine series? The second book in this series releases the end of January. How many books are planned for the series, or is it open ended? The Divine series is a magical dark adventure delving into auras and energy and how they can be used for good or evil. There are diviners(witches), serpents (vampires), demons, djinn, and more struggling for power, and the survival of magic itself. So far, this is a three book series, with another book planned for one of the other characters, but that oneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s on the hush hush for now. Uncaged: What is the one thing that can recharge your batteries as a writer? As weird as it may seem, I stop writing and read a favorite book, or find a new favorite. Then I might play one of my favorite Final Fantasy games and all of a
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sudden my enthusiasm for creating a whole new story is lit up and I can plunge right in again. Uncaged: Your next book releases January 31 – are you planning any release parties or events? Events are kind of my Achilles’ heel, promotions in general where I’m required to climb out of my dungeon is a task for me. But I do plan on doing a tour at the release of book three in October 2019. For now I’ve enlisted the help of some wonderful blog tour sites to gather their forces for an informal smathering of posts and reviews between January 31st and March 31st 2019. Uncaged: What are some of the advantages of joining your newsletter? I call everyone the voices in my head, and my newsletter is a way of keeping posted on the releases of my books, an opportunity to get free short stories from the Divine Universe, chances to join the Street Team list
where you get free ARCS to be the first one to read the books. I also keep my emails limited to once, sometimes twice a month (if it’s a release month). So, no spamming. Uncaged: What did you consider your best marketing that you did for your book? What was the least successful? Least successful so far is my campaign on Goodreads, advertisements on there have not been successful at all, but the platform itself has been wonderful as a place for people to add my book to their shelves, and the free book giveaway is actually very helpful. As for best marketing so far, I’d say it’s review sites such as yours. Creating those individual bonds by reaching out to bloggers and having fun spotlights like these! Uncaged: What is one of the most unusual things Issue 30 | January 2019 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | that a reader has said to you about your books? I think the most unusual has been contradictory review comments, which is why I try not to look at them too much. I’ll get a five-star review and the comment will say something like slow, but okay. Or on the opposite end I’ll get a two-star review with comments that are nothing but praise. I think in today’s book market you have to strive for better every book, because even bestsellers who were once five-stars when they released are now considered 3 to 4 stars with all the wonderful content out there. My goal is always to put out a better book than what I did before, and I think I accomplished that with Blood Rebirth. Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? Where is one of your favorite places on Earth? When I’m not writing I like to play RPG or strategy video games, because they are a different version of escapism into new and wonderful worlds. I’ll read books, play video games, watch soul-sucking television, find a fun activity to do like zip lining when it isn’t terribly cold out, play cards with my family, or board games with my friends. Uncaged: What can you tell us that is very unique about you? I think that’s possibly the toughest question out of them all, I think everyone feels like they are extraordinarily ordinary, or less than special a majority of the time. I pride myself on my honesty, and my ability to fake it until I make it. Seems contradictory, but I’m just really awesome at pretending to be confident in myself. I figure everyone feels the way that I feel at one point or another, us author folks are quite sensitive and gooey on the inside, but we must put on our armor and defend the universe as it were against trolls. Everyone has something special and unique about them, but like the plum on the back of a 20 | UncagedBooks.com
rice ball, we can never see it in ourselves until someone else points it out. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? To the voices in my head, my only goal is that my stories have given you a little escape from your lives, and possibly the best gift of all would be to help you realize that you can do whatever you want to do yourself. I was told many times that being an author is not a viable job, and you may have been told the same thing about something you care about. I support you, and anything and everything is a viable job with the right amount of effort, and practice. Best places to stay in touch are: www.steviemarie.com www.twitter.com/authormarie https://www.facebook.com/authorsteviemarie/ For a limited time the following sign up link for my newsletter includes a free story in the Divine storyline: https://mailchi.mp/8fc8b0c681ad/steviemariefree
Enjoy an excerpt from Blood Rebirth Blood Rebirth S.M. McCoy Paranormal The Oracle’s powers need a new vessel and everyone wants the talisman that will give it to them instead of the prophesied successor. In a race against time, Crystal must train herself to survive the trial grounds deep within the underworld and find the seven powers to obtain the talisman before anyone else; or it won’t be just her soul at risk, but the whole supernatural realm as she knew it. The war between good and evil rests in the hands of a novice all while she battles her inner demons confused between following her heart or her mind, saving herself or everyone else. Excerpt CHAPTER ONE Time Jell-O I’m not going to lie to you, not yet, but what’s true or not is for you to decide. Half expecting to be arrested and turned into the council, never to be seen or heard from again, still lingered in the forefront of my mind. I was labeled an anomaly the guardians were sent to dispose of. All of this led me to where I was now, needing to find my mother before the council realized the person they’d been hunting was right next to them, shaking their hand and saying, ‘Hello, teach me all of your magical ways.’ “State of what?” I looked at the blue slime Professor Divine was pushing into my skin with her glowing hands. It felt like my insides were on fire, icy fire. The goop was being excreted from her fingertips and massaged in bubbles, my skin concave as she pressed in until suddenly the blue jelly popped and burned.
| S.M. MCCOY | “Crystal, stop fidgeting.” Divine continued, “The gel will preserve the parts of you still functioning as homin.” That’s what they called humans. From the way the word slithered off her tongue, I could tell she didn’t mean it in a good way. She didn’t seem to be particularly fond of my serpent DNA that let the venom run rampant. But odder still, she appeared even less fond of my human DNA. I wondered how much of me remained from who I used to be. How much was still human? Or homin, as the locals would say. Coming to Ealdred was my only choice, though the moon ring did most of the work. I needed to find a diviner powerful enough to help my body transition from human to serpent without having to bond with a man I hardly knew. If you consider him a man, that is. Damien wasn’t exactly an angel, though he liked to swoop in and act like one… dark, brooding, and hypnotizing me with those handsome violet eyes. Damien was one of those guardians, but I was fortunate his motives were driven by self-preservation before any loyalty to his job. That loyalty did, however, make things more complicated when he decided to make it his mission to eliminate the other anomaly on his list… Lathar. Otherwise known as my best friend… Victor. So, here I was getting my body purified, possibly the weirdest experience I’d had all year, and a lot of weird happened to me these past few months. The head of the Divining Department at Ealdred University, Professor Divine, yes Divine as in, “The Divine Council”, divine, was putting my body into a ‘state of timelessness’ as she called it. She was my best chance at beating the venom coursing through my veins, slowly turning me into a serpent. “It burns!” I felt my whole-body twitch. Based on the prickling sensations, I’d say all of me was still me. It felt all-too-human. “It won’t for long. It’ll coat the organs that need it and absorb within a week or so.” I merely growled in response, hyper-focused on the sensation searing through my organs. My eyes darted all over the place, trying desperately to find a distraction from the pain. Issue 30 | January 2019 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | The office was filled with geometric modern amenities, a drastic contrast to the medieval grandeur of the velvet drapes and the stone castle walls. Too many times to count, I contemplated how to turn the ring back on and find a beam of moonlight to bring me back home. Everything was like they expected my arrival, and yet no one knew anything, and yet everything, about me. Which one was it? Did they know me, or not know me? It was hard to say, but I wasn’t about to leave without finding out. As long as they needed to keep me alive for the transition, I was safe. As long as they didn’t know I was the descendant of the Abernithy line, the anomaly they were hunting for, then I’d be safe. For now, all I thought of was the pain of the ‘timeless’ treatment and that the ring was doing more than helping my magic. It was protecting my identity. Why else would they help me instead of locking me up or eliminating me? “Treatment will continue until you’re fully cleansed.” “We have to do this again?” My eyes bulged at the idea. “Until you’re cured of the homin.” Professor Divine seemed to just shrug off the whole thing. Like humanity was something you could live without, an appendix of the supernatural realms, not necessary but still a ticking time bomb nonetheless. “Yeah, next week will be different.” I rolled my eyes, thinking with my luck it wouldn’t happen that easy. I could already see this as my weekly doctor visit, complete with burning torture chamber and complementary minty toothpaste smell. On the bright side, there were worse things one could smell like, and I would be one of the few people whose nose would be assaulted by it. I wrinkled my nose. “Toothpaste,” she finished my thought, “Well, you’ll always smell like lilacs to me.” She read my mind, a much deeper mind invasion than what I’d ever experienced with Aislin, the only other diviner I knew, and one of my closest friends. I regretted not having trusted her enough when my life got turned upside down. If I could do it all 22 | UncagedBooks.com
over again, I’d have told her everything. Now, I felt too scared to say anything. “I could always change the smell. Isn’t mint ice cream your favorite? I thought the smell would be comforting.” How’d she do that? Know my favorite ice-cream flavor when I never told her? It seemed like a mundane thing to worry about, but if she knew about my ice cream preferences, what else did she know? Aislin had given me her energy to survive, pushing it into me to prevent my aura from collapsing in on itself. When that happened, she’d inadvertently sense my feelings and pick up on my thoughts, but with Professor Divine, it felt different. More invasive. I felt bad that she was doing all this work to keep me alive and functioning properly, while I secretly mistrusted everything about her. You know, the simple stuff like not passing out in the middle of the courtyard or something; that was important. They had one of those, a courtyard, that’s how big this place was, but I didn’t trust it at all. I needed to heed my father’s warnings about the council taking my mother away. Who knew what would happen if they found out the same blood coursed through my veins as the person they kidnapped sixteen years ago? I shivered, and Professor Divine furrowed her brow like she was trying to figure me out. That made two of us. Something was off, and I couldn’t place my finger on it. Everything felt so uncomfortable, and I’m not even including the tingling sensations I felt from her magic. I’d trusted Aislin, at least as much as I could. She’d done nothing but try to help me. Let me live with her for two years, hidden what she was, what I was that whole time. Why? It was too late to ask her, and the last words she said to me before I disappeared into the moon ring’s magic echoed in my mind. ‘I’ll find you.’ My heart ached… I wanted desperately for Aislin to find me so I wouldn’t be trapped here all alone. Despite him not remembering the best times we shared together, I’d dragged Victor with me through the portal created by the moon ring. I never wanted to go through this by myself, and yet here I was, navigating this new world of supernatural chaos, all
| S.M. MCCOY | alone. The moon ring transported us both straight into the lion’s den, where the council was known by everyone. Where my mom had probably gone after using that same magic. Victor never woke up after passing through the portal. It was only meant for people with divine magic, and even if he was awake, he didn’t remember most of the last year we spent together. He’d had a lot of lives to live through, and sadly, he hardly remembered the one he shared with me. I still had trouble calling him Shakespeare. It was the first name I gave him when he wore a different face. Yeah, shifters could do that, change their faces to the last person they fed from. For the past year, he was Victor, the coffee shop boy, my best friend, the supernatural believer, my handsome protector, and not until recently, the serpent that bit me. You’d think I’d be upset about that, but he was only trying to help save me from another serpent siphoning off my energy. He wasn’t my Victor anymore. Shaking my head, I brought my attention back to Professor Divine. “So, that’s it? No energy transfer, no come to Jesus chants?” I asked. Was transitioning as easy as Jell-O, just add water? How was she so in tune with my thoughts without exchanging energy with me like Aislin? “You’ll still be tired. This won’t help.” Her eyebrows knitted together concerned. “But I thought—” “This isn’t a panacea Crystal. Your body is healing itself and transforming. The process expends considerable energy. And I wouldn’t mingle my energy with yours in the state you’re in, that’s a dangerous practice taught only when one has control over their own energy first. “It’d be wasteful to force-feed someone who has no idea how to chew or swallow.” Only partially answering my questions, she paused, then shook her head and laughed. With one last smirk, she flicked the extra blue jelly from her fingers, and it disappeared, evaporating into the air. I’d have knocked the smirk right off her smug face if she weren’t the one preventing my death march from spiraling into oblivion. That sounded ungrateful, but
I didn’t appreciate the way she snubbed her nose at me like I was an insect she was graciously cupping in her palm, fit only to be scooped up and deposited outside. How much did she really knew about me? The way she finished my sentences before I even started them creeped me out. “If I were across campus thinking about you, would you still be able to pick around in my brain?” I raised an eyebrow, trying to gauge the extent of her mind trick. Did it only work when she was in the room? Or was she always listening? Or only when I thought about her? “Good things, I hope.” She didn’t answer. This was a running theme with this school. Divine just smiled and wiped her hands on her black robes. She had a way of exuding mystery. She’d always respond to your questions but leave you with a sense of omission. I chalked it up to a teacherly thing. They’ll give you knowledge, but they want you to seek out the extra ten percent on your own. In this case, it was an extra ninety percent I wanted. I pressed my lips together, unable to shake the feeling it wasn’t a teacher thing at all, but a deliberate act to keep me in the dark. “You’ll be staying at the Genesis dorms.” I was going to come up with an excuse about how much my body ached and that I was too tired to move just yet, but as I thought about it, all the pain disappeared. Looking down at my hands, I saw a piece of paper I didn’t remember having before clasped within my fist. I eased up my grip and flattened out the wrinkles to see it was a schedule: First Period:Serpent Lore Second Period:Astral Affinity Third Period: Biology Lunch Hour Fourth Period: Divine Craft 101 Fifth Period: Math and Magic Sixth Period:Guardian Training 101 I coughed when I saw “Biology” and “Math”. Issue 30 | January 2019 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | Some mystical school this was. Here I thought I’d escaped normal human classes. Ok, really, I was just trying to escape supernatural anything, but now I was here I just wanted to be normal. Whatever normal meant when you were at a school for old realm magic that was also the home of the serpents. Staying under the radar to find my mom was my top priority. She could tell me why the council wanted dreamwalkers so badly and why she never came back to teach me herself. Tension built up in my chest when I tried to breathe, realizing I was betting on my mom wanting me here and being on my side. Was I setting myself up for disappointment? Was she even still… alive? I gulped. “Do be careful.” Professor Divine smiled at me and handed me another piece of paper. A map. “What about my…” “Mother,” Professor Divine finished my sentence and then continued, “The Oracle, mother to us all, is merely the vessel of the races’ unity. Everyone is welcome to see her when they’re capable. Train hard, and you’ll get to meet her one day. She has mentioned you in the prophecy leading us to her successor. We consider this very high praise and expect exceptional things from you.” The one place that might know what happened to my actual mother had no idea who I was. Did they really think just because I came through the portal that I’d lead them to their next “Oracle”? The magic of the moon ring must’ve prevented them from seeing my true identity. Terror filled me, at any moment they’d find out the truth, and I’d be sent to the dungeons. They probably had those here too. I didn’t know who to trust. Finding information about my mother might be as simple as looking up my family name in the library. Little did I know.
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feature author I consider myself an indie author and crunchy mom. A native New Yorker, I currently living in New Hampshire with my husband and daughter. My dream in life is to write popular fiction that inspires people. Reading a fantasy novel at age fourteen changed my life. It sparked my imagination and inspired me. I developed a love for reading, discovered a love for writing, and remembered my love for drawing. Reading helped me dream big and create amazing opportunities for myself. I started writing This Time—a story about a demon hunter and those who love her—in the spring of 2017. This Time was published on 10/01/2018 and book two will be published in 2019.
Uncaged welcomes Azaaa Davis Uncaged: Welcome to Uncaged! Your debut novel is out, called This Time, and it’s the first in a series. Can you tell readers more about the book and the series? How many books are planned for the series, or is it open ended? Simply put, This Time is about a resurrected demon hunter and those who love her. There are themes woven throughout the story about friendship, honesty, family obligations, and imperfect love. Many reviews mention that the drama and romance was just as enjoyable as the mystery and action. The book series Nadira Holden, Demon Hunter is open ended. I planned to write three books and then assess how well the series is doing. I can branch off to write about other characters in Nadira’s world or I can continue her story or both. Uncaged: One of my favorite genres to read is urban fantasy. What inspired you to become an author?
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I also love urban fantasy! I’ve wanted to become a novelist since I was a teen. But everyone told me I needed a “real job” to pay the bills and to gain “life experience” before I could write a book. So, I became a social worker and really liked helping others. When I became a mom, I finally had an opportunity to pursue a career that would allow me to stay home to raise my child. I love being a stay-athome-writer-mom. Uncaged: What do you have coming out next that you
can tell us about? I’m working on book two in the Nadira Holden, Demon Hunter series. In book one Nadira has to figure who resurrected her and for what purpose. In book two, she tries to settle into twenty-first century life but demon hunting is harder to walk away from than she anticipated. Uncaged: What are some of the advantages of joining your newsletter? My newsletters are monthly conversations between my (potential) fans and me. I share both writing updates and glimpses into my life as a writer-mom. My subscribers enjoy getting to know a little more about me and the real life events that inspire my writing. I also feature a few new releases and discounted fantasy novels I think my readers might like. Uncaged: What did you consider your best marketing that you did for your book? What was the least successful? I have not cracked the code yet on how to best market my books on a budget. One day, I will spend money on Facebook, Amazon and Boobkbub ads. For now, I try to pay for one affordable promotion per month. Robin Reads was an effective promotion. I’m still undecided on the effectiveness of newsletter swaps. I haven’t noticed a significant increase in sales on the days my book is featured in someone else’s newsletter. I continue to do them (about three instead of six per month) because I like making connections
with other authors and offering great deals to my readers. Uncaged: What is one of the most unusual things that a reader has said to you about your books? Unexpectedly, a lot of readers like the more steamy and suggestive scenes and others have categorized my book as young adult fantasy. I set out to write an action-packed fantasy about a twentysomething-year-old heroine. Now, I’m sure I’ll one day write a paranormal romance novel. Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? Where is one of your favorite places on Earth? I love reading, drawing and traveling to tropical islands. Uncaged: What can you tell us that is very unique about you? I’m honest. I try my best not to mislead others or lie to myself. It can be inconvenient and often unappreciated by others, but I believe that honesty is freeing. I don’t have to remember white lies or work hard to cover up the realities I wish wasn’t true. I’m not perfect but I try to be my best self. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you?
Issue 30 | January 2019 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | To my readers, thank you for taking a chance on a new author. I hope you enjoyed reading Nadira’s story as much I enjoyed writing it. And, I hope you come back for more.
Enjoy an excerpt from This Time This Time Azaaa Davis Urban Fantasy Not even death can stop her. Legendary demon hunter Nadira Holden has been torn from her next life and resurrected in present-day New York. The demons she once battled have made peace with humans. Or, so they claim. But brawls between demons and humans are becoming more frequent, and human leaders are disappearing. Tasked by the shadowy organization that trained her, she must battle her own personal trauma and once again fight for the souls of mankind. Will Nadira remain a beacon of light to those fighting for humankind? Or will she lose her humanity to the darkness within? Fight with Nadira in a new dark fantasy series that combines monster-slaying action, family drama and steamy romance. A complex heroine with inexhaustible courage and a terrifyingly changed world for urban fantasy fans of Vampire Hunter Anita Blake and Succubus Georgina Kincaid. Excerpt NADIRA WOKE UP ENCOMPASSED IN EMPTINESS. It was as if she were in a void with no light or sound to give her a clue about her location. 28 | UncagedBooks.com
The air was musty, and her throat was scratchy. Nadira coughed. “Hello?” she croaked, triggering more dry coughing. She cleared her throat and tried again. “Hey! Can anyone hear me?” Nadira felt a solid surface along her back and behind her head and legs. She understood she was lying somewhere. Nadira tried to touch her surroundings and could barely move her arms before they hit the cushioned ceiling mere inches above her. As she continued to move, her elbows hit the cushioned sides, and her knees hit the ceiling. Feeling surrounded, Nadira realized she was in an enclosed space. Taking a deep breath, she tasted stale air. Some kind of crawlspace or trunk was her best guess. After a long night of sleep, Nadira expected to feel ready to tackle another day. Summer was the peak of training season, and Nadira was looking forward to a few weeks of scrimmages that would allow her hunters to show off and make her look good as team leader. Instead of feeling refreshed, her body was sore, her head ached, and her stomach was empty. She felt a weakness and discomfort that only happened when she mistakenly slept for far too long. But, what am I doing here? She tried to keep her breathing even and decided to feel around with her hands for a doorknob or latch. Behind the cushion that surrounded her on all sides, she felt a more solid barrier, like wood. Was someone playing a cruel trick on her? Nadira’s racing mind landed on Melissa—the girl that hated her success in class and on the training mat. Nadira usually ignored her, and all the other annoying cohorts. But, that didn’t stop them from whispering about her and occasionally playing pranks. “Let me out!” she screamed with all her might. The sound was hoarse, almost a growl. Nadira hit the wooden ceiling as hard as she could. No response. No one ran away in fear or came closer to open this padded, wooden cage. Her breathing was no longer con-
| AZAAA DAVIS | trolled. She practically hissed, her breathing was so rapid and shallow. Breathe deep, Nadira commanded. This couldn’t be Melissa’s doing. It wasn’t her style. Besides, Melissa was preoccupied lately with Devon, her new boyfriend. One of Melissa’s flaws was that she couldn’t multitask, especial when a guy was involved. After ruling Melissa out, Nadira asked herself if this was a training exercise. Countless times, Nadira and her team experienced grueling trails designed to test a hunter’s lethal effectiveness against monsters. But, she was far beyond her student days of trick interrogations and unexplained battle simulations. At the very least, there would have been some whisper about her team getting tested. Nadira concluded that this couldn’t be a training exercise either. Her shallow breathing was the only sound she could hear. It caused the air to become hot. Her heart raced again as she considered the awful possibility that an enemy captured her overnight. Although she should, she didn’t remember going to bed last night. Actually, she didn’t remember anything . . . Nadira’s hands started to shake. Cold sweat made the fabric of her nightgown stick. She felt like a disgusting mess. She was never a mess. She was strong and focused. She was a warrior.
Wood chips, chunks, and splinters finally gave way to solid dirt. She was panting, already exhausted. She wasn’t sure how many minutes went by, but the solid dirt indicated that she still had a long way to go. She couldn’t see her hands in front of her, but she could feel the cuts and bruises she was inflicting on herself in her effort to escape. Nadira’s hands were bloody and cramping from the repeated motion. She kept digging. Ignoring pain and discomfort was something that all demon hunters were taught. I can do this.
Think, Nadira commanded herself. Someone has you trapped in a cold, dark place. For a second, she considered staying put and waiting for a rescue. That second passed quickly. Nadira preferred to rescue herself. She also considered preparing for the next time her enemy came to check in on her. Once, she escaped from a car trunk by fighting her way out when the vehicle stopped. The trick was to listen for your moment, and time it just right. Yet, somehow, she didn’t think she had enough air to wait around for anything other than death.
She took a moment to pull her nightgown over her face as a makeshift mask. With her eyes closed, she kept at it. As the hole got bigger, more dirt slid into the box she was in. The weight of the loose soil on her face, chest and upper body was suffocating in its heaviness. She was at the point of no return now that the last of her air was escaping. Yet, Nadira didn’t give in to panic. Focused, she kept digging and pulling herself upward while breathing as best she could with her face covered. Nadira lost track of time—not that she knew what time it was when she woke up in this nightmare. Her mind was buzzing with a single thought. Survive. Nadira chanted to herself in an endless loop. She got sloppy with her arm movements, with her pulling and wiggling. However long she’d been clawing her way to freedom was too long. She paused, taking a few more shallow breaths through the cloth that was acting as a mask. She wanted to stop, to regain her strength, but she ignored her fatigue. Reaching up yet again, she pulled more dirt down. This time she felt nothing around her fingertips. Finally, there was space!
She was not afraid to die, no demon hunter was, but she wasn’t ready either. It was simply not her time. With that thought, Nadira ripped and tore at the ceiling of her confinement. Self-discipline and skill helped, but her genetic makeup—unique to Children of Orion—gave her the brute strength needed to destroy her cell. Silky cushy fabric gave way to wood.
With renewed determination, Nadira pried and hoisted herself up, kicking her legs as if she was swimming through the soil. Her hands first, then forearms. Next, her head, and lastly her shoulders escaped imprisonment. Immediately, she ripped her nightgown away from her face and took deep breaths of the fresh, crisp air. With a bit of tugIssue 30 | January 2019 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | ging and wiggling, Nadira’s waist, then her hips, her legs, and lastly her feet became unburied. She collapsed next to the hole she crawled out of and looked at the night sky. In the cool wind, fallen leaves rustled gently all around Nadira. She was panting and filthy, covered in dirt from head to toe. But, she was free. Only when her breathing was back to normal did she move. Sitting up, she was reintroduced to her headache. It forced her to move at an even slower pace. She noticed her hands first. They were a bloody mess. Great. She won’t be holding a weapon anytime soon. The second thing she noticed was the long, soft pink dress she was wearing. It was far from the sports bras and shorts she normally wore to bed. She was filthy, homeless looking, but all in one piece and healthy enough. No time to wonder who changed her clothes, or who bothered to style her dreadlocks—formed by constantly twisting her naturally curly hair until the thick twists became permanent—with white ribbons. Looking around, she saw that she was in a cemetery. Her sigh of relief was shushed by the wind carrying the sound away. Nadira felt safe for now, knowing she was free and unguarded. Of all the awful ways to kill an enemy, why this horrible yet passive method? To bury someone alive was a sadistic, cowardly and lacking in honor. Only one answer came to mind. “Demons,” she growled.
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historical | suspense
feature author New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Danelle Harmon has written seventeen critically acclaimed and award-winning books, with many being published all over the world. A Massachusetts native, she has lived in Great Britain, though these days she and her English husband make their home in New England with their daughter Emma and numerous animals including five dogs, an Egyptian Arabian horse, and a flock of pet chickens. Danelle enjoys reading, spending time with family, friends and her animals, dog showing, plane-spotting, and sailing her reproduction 19th century skiff, Kestrel II. She welcomes email from her readers and can be reached at Danelle@danelleharmon.com.
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Please welcome Danelle Harmon Uncaged: What attracts you to write in the Historical genre? I have always felt drawn to certain time periods, and allowing me to write in this genre allows me to “visit” them in a way that feels real and creative to me. Uncaged: With all the research that the historical novels demand, and then you also throw in the wild card of pirates/sea faring in, how long does it typically take to write a novel? Some novels write themselves in a matter of a few months; others take longer. THE DEFIANT ONE, which is not a pirate/seafaring novel, but part of my De Montforte Series set in Georgian England, took only three months. My debut novel, PIRATE IN MY ARMS, took me three years, though to be fair, I wrote it in longhand with notebooks and pencils while sitting in the shadow of the dunes of Marconi Beach on Cape Cod, where much of the book took place. Uncaged: Can you tell readers more about your series you have going? I have two series: The De Montfortes follows an aristocratic English family in Georgian England headed by the powerful Lucien, Duke of Blackheath. It is a series that is best read in order, starting with THE WILD ONE which is free across all venues. My other series is the Heroes Of The Sea, set in 18th and 19th century Britain, Ireland, New England and Baltimore; these books, all headed by a brave and handsome mariner - whether pirate or British admiral or Yankee privateer - are very loosely tied together and can be read as stand-alones, though I think they’re best enjoyed in order. CAPTAIN
OF MY HEART and MASTER OF MY DREAMS, the first books in this series, can be found on BookFunnel for free.
Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? Where is one of your favorite places on Earth?
Uncaged: Do you read your reviews? What do you feel you can take away from them?
Spending time in my hobbies, which include sailing my little Melonseed skiff and showing my dogs. I’ve bred two litters and several are AKC champions as well as beloved members of the families to which they belong - including one who traveled all the way to Australia! Favorite places on earth would include Branch Lake in Maine, Newburyport, Massachusetts, Cape Cod, and the seaside in the off season, as I’m not one for crowds. And old New England houses, built in the colonial or Federal era. I love them and dearly miss the one we once owned.
Yes, I do. While it’s always a delight to read a good review, I’ve been doing this for too long (I was first published by Avon Books back in 1992) to be thinskinned when I come up against a critical review; they can actually be quite helpful to an author trying to improve her craft. Uncaged: What is one of the nicest things someone has said to you about your books? Every letter, every social media posting, every share, and every review all make me smile. To know that a world that you’ve created as an author has meant something to someone else and brought them entertainment, distraction from their everyday lives, joy, sorrow, emotion and hope, is incredibly intoxicating. I have to say, though, that perhaps the most memorable and gut-hitting gesture I’ve ever received from a reader was being told that she had named her newborn son after one of my heroes (Gareth). Wow. There are no words to capture what that meant to me, and still means to me! Uncaged: What are the benefits of signing up for your newsletter? Well, I’m not one who bombards readers constantly, so you get the reassurance that I’ll never be a pest <g>. On a more serious note, I occasionally offer free books, contests, and cross-promotions, and it’s a great way to stay abreast of news and upcoming works.
Uncaged: What can you tell us that is very unique about you? I’m a germophobe! But maybe that’s because I’m a Virgo? Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? I’d like to say THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for your interest in my work and your continuing support. I treasure each and every one of you! You can find me at my website, Danelleharmon.com, or on Facebook at https://www. facebook.com/DanelleHarmon/ and onTwitter (@ DanelleHarmon). Or, you can always email me at Danelle@danelleharmon.com ... I love hearing from readers! Thank you so much for inviting me to be a part of your Uncaged Book Reviews! Issue 30 | January 2019 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR |
Enjoy an excerpt from The Wild One The Wild One Danelle Harmon Historical Regency FREE READ “The bluest of blood, the boldest of hearts; the de Montforte brothers will take your breath away.”
England, 1776: Lord Gareth de Montforte is known as an irresponsible rake with a heart of gold. When he takes a bullet for boldly thwarting a stagecoach robbery, he is stunned to discover that the beautiful young woman he has heroically rescued, Juliet Paige, is his deceased brother’s American fiancée, accompanied by her infant daughter. Despite his brother the duke’s refusal to acknowledge Juliet, Gareth is determined to do right by the courageous woman who crossed an ocean to give her baby her rightful name. But Juliet is wary of marrying this black sheep aristocrat, even while she is hopelessly charmed by the dashing devil. Never has she met anyone who embraces life so thoroughly, who makes her laugh, who loves her so well. And, even when it seems the odds are against them, Juliet has absolute faith that Gareth will go beyond the call of duty Excerpt Prologue Newman House, 18 April, 1775 My dear brother, Lucien, It has just gone dark and as I pen these words to you, an air of rising tension hangs above this troubled town. Tonight, several regiments — in34 | UncagedBooks.com
cluding mine, the King’s Own — have been ordered by General Gage, commander in chief of our forces here in Boston, out to Concord to seize and destroy a significant store of arms and munitions that the rebels have secreted there. Due to the clandestine nature of this assignment, I have ordered my batman, Billingshurst, to withhold the posting of this letter until the morrow, when the mission will have been completed and secrecy will no longer be of concern. Although it is my most ardent hope that no blood will be shed on either side during this endeavour, I find that my heart, in these final moments before I must leave, is restless and uneasy. It is not for myself that I am afraid, but another. As you know from my previous letters home, I have met a young woman here with whom I have become attached in a warm friendship. I suspect you do not approve of my becoming so enamoured of a storekeeper’s daughter, but things are different in this place, and when a fellow is three thousand miles away from home, love makes a far more desirable companion than loneliness. My dear Miss Paige has made me happy, Lucien, and earlier tonight, she accepted my plea for her hand in marriage; I beg you to understand, and forgive, for I know that someday when you meet her, you will love her as I do. My brother, I have but one thing to ask of you, and knowing that you will see to my wishes is the only thing that calms my troubled soul during these last few moments before we depart. If anything should happen to me — tonight, tomorrow, or at any time whilst I am here in Boston — I beg of you to find it in your heart to show charity and kindness to my angel, my Juliet, for she means the world to me. I know you will take care of her if ever I cannot. Do this for me and I shall be happy, Lucien. I must close now, as the others are gathered downstairs in the parlour, and we are all ready to move. May God bless and keep you, my dear brother, and Gareth, Andrew, and sweet Nerissa, too. Charles Sometime during the last hour, it had begun to grow dark. Lucien de Montforte turned the letter over in his
hands, his gaze shuttered, his mind far away as he stared out the window over the downs that stood like sentinels against the fading twilight. A breath of pink still glowed in the western sky, but it would soon be gone. He hated this time of night, this still and lonely hour just after sunset when old ghosts were near, and distant memories welled up in the heart with the poignant nearness of yesterday, close enough to see yet always too elusive to touch. But the letter was real. Too real. He ran a thumb over the heavy vellum, the bold, elegant script that had been so distinctive of Charles’s style — both on paper, in thought, and on the field — still looking as fresh as if it had been written yesterday, not last April. His own name was there on the front: To His Grace the Duke of Blackheath, Blackheath Castle, nr. Ravenscombe, Berkshire, England. They were probably the last words Charles had ever written. Carefully, he folded the letter along creases that had become fragile and well-worn. The blob of red wax with which his brother had sealed the letter came together at the edges like a wound that had never healed, and try as he might to avoid seeing them, his gaze caught the words that someone, probably Billingshurst, had written on the back. Found on the desk of Captain Lord Charles Adair de Montforte on the 19th of April 1775, the day on which his lordship was killed in the fighting at Concord. Please deliver to addressee. A pang went through him. Dead, gone, and all but forgotten, just like that. The Duke of Blackheath carefully laid the letter inside the drawer, which he shut and locked. He gazed once more out the window, lord of all he surveyed but unable to master his own bitter emptiness. A mile away, at the foot of the downs, he could just see the lights of Ravenscombe village, could envision its ancient church with its Norman tower and tombs of de Montforte dead. And there, inside, high on the stone wall of the chancel, was the simple bronze plaque that was all they had to tell posterity that his brother had ever even lived. Charles, the second son. God help them all if anything happened to him, Lucien, and the dukedom passed to the third.
| DANELLE HARMON | No. God would not be so cruel. He snuffed the single candle and with the darkness enclosing him, the sky still glowing beyond the window, moved from the room.
Berkshire, England, 1776 Chapter 1 The Flying White was bound for Oxford, and it was running late. Now, trying to make up time lost to a broken axle, the driver had whipped up the team, and the coach careered through the night in a cacophony of shouts, thundering hooves, and cries from the passengers who were clinging for their lives on the roof above. Strong lanterns cut through the rainy darkness, picking out ditches, trees, and hedgerows as the vehicle hurtled through the Lambourn Downs at a pace that had Juliet Paige’s heart in her throat. Because of Charlotte, her six-month-old daughter, Juliet had been lucky enough to get a seat inside the coach, but even so, her head banged against the leather squabs on the right, her shoulder against an elderly gent on her left, and her neck ached with the constant side to side movement. On the seat across from her, another young mother clung to her two frightened children, one huddled under each arm. It had been a dreadful run up from Southampton indeed, and Juliet was feeling almost as ill as she had during the long sea voyage over from Boston. The coach hit a bump, became airborne for a split second, and landed hard, snapping her neck, throwing her violently against the man on her left, and causing the passengers clinging to the roof above to cry out in terror. Someone’s trunk went flying off the coach, but the driver never slowed the galloping team. “God help us!” murmured the young mother across from Juliet as her children cringed fearfully against her. Juliet grasped the strap and hung her head, fighting nausea as she hugged her own child. Her lips touched the baby’s downy gold curls. “Almost Issue 30 | January 2019 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | there,” she whispered, for Charlotte’s ears alone. “Almost there — to your papa’s home.” Suddenly without warning, there were shouts, a horse’s frightened whinny, and violent curses from the driver. Someone on the roof screamed. The coach careened madly, the inhabitants both inside and out shrieking in terror as the vehicle hurtled along on two wheels for another forty or fifty feet before finally crashing heavily down on its axles with another neck-snapping jolt, shattering a window with the impact and spilling the elderly gent to the floor. Outside, someone was sobbing in fear and pain. And inside, the atmosphere of the coach went as still as death. “We’re being robbed!” cried the old man, getting to his knees to peer out the rain-spattered window. Shots rang out. There was a heavy thud from above, then movement just beyond the ominous black pane. And then suddenly, without warning it imploded, showering the inside passengers in a hail of glass. Gasping, they looked up to see a heavy pistol — and a masked face just beyond it. “Yer money or yer life. Now!” ~~~~ It was the very devil of a night. No moon, no stars, and a light rain stinging his face as Lord Gareth Francis de Montforte sent his horse, Crusader, flying down the Wantage road at a speed approaching suicide. Stands of beech and oak shot past, there then gone. Pounding hooves splashed through puddles and echoed against the hedgerows that bracketed the road. Gareth glanced over his shoulder, saw nothing but a long empty stretch of road behind him, and shouted with glee. Another race won — Perry, Chilcot, and the rest of the Den of Debauchery would never catch him now! Laughing, he patted Crusader’s neck as the hunter pounded through the night. “Well done, good fellow! Well done —” 36 | UncagedBooks.com
And pulled him up sharply as he passed Wether Down. It took him only a moment to assess the situation. Highwaymen. And by the looks of it, they were helping themselves to the pickings — and passengers — of the Flying White from Southampton. The Flying White? The young gentleman reached inside his coat pocket and pulled out his watch, squinting to see its face in the darkness. Damned late for the Flying White He dropped the timepiece back into his pocket, steadied Crusader, and considered what to do. No gentlemen of the road, this lot, but a trio of desperate, hardened killers. The driver and guard lay on the ground beside the coach, both presumably dead. Somewhere a child was crying, and now one of the bandits, with a face that made a hatchet look kind, smashed in the windows of the coach with the butt end of his gun. Gareth reached for his pistol. The thought of quietly turning around and going back the way he’d come never occurred to him. The thought of waiting for his friends, probably a mile behind thanks to Crusader’s blistering speed, didn’t occur to him, either. Especially when he saw one of the bandits yank open the door of the coach and haul out a struggling young woman. He had just the briefest glimpse of her face — scared, pale, beautiful — before one of the highwaymen shot out the lanterns of the coach and darkness fell over the entire scene. Someone screamed. Another shot rang out, silencing the frightened cry abruptly. His face grim, the young gentleman knotted his horse’s reins and removed his gloves, pulling each one carefully off by the fingertips. With a watchful eye on the highwaymen, he slipped his feet from the irons and vaulted lightly down from the thoroughbred’s tall back, his glossy top boots of Spanish leather landing in chalk mud up to his ankles. The horse never moved. He doffed his fine new surtout and laid it over the saddle along with his tricorn and gloves. He tucked the lace at his wrist safely inside his sleeve to protect it from any soot or sparks his pistol might emit. Then he crept through the kneehigh weeds and nettles that grew thick at the side of the road, priming and loading the pistol as he moved
| DANELLE HARMON | stealthily toward the stricken coach. He would have time to squeeze off only one shot before they were upon him, and that one shot had to count. ~~~~ “Everybo’y out. Now!” Holding Charlotte tightly against her, Juliet managed to remain calm as the robber snared her wrist and jerked her violently from the vehicle. She landed awkwardly in the sticky white mud and would have gone down if not for the huge, bearlike hand that yanked her to her feet. Perhaps, she thought numbly, it was the very fact that it was bearlike that she was able to keep her head — and her wits — about her, for Juliet had been born and raised in the woods of Maine, and she was no stranger to bears, Indians, and a host of other threats that made these English highwaymen look benign by comparison. But they were certainly not benign. The slain driver lay face-down in the mud. The bodies of one of the guards and a passenger were sprawled in the weeds nearby. A shudder went through her. She was glad of the darkness. Glad that the poor little children still inside the coach were spared the horrors that daylight would have revealed. Cuddling Charlotte, she stood beside the other passengers as the robbers yanked people down from the roof and lined them up in front of the coach. A woman was sobbing. A girl clung pitifully to the old man, perhaps her grandfather. One fellow, finely dressed and obviously a gentleman, angrily protested the treatment of the women and without a word, one of the highwayman stuck his pistol into his belly and shot him dead. As he fell, the wretched group gasped in dismay and horror. Then the last passengers were dragged from the coach, the two children clinging to their mother’s skirts and crying piteously. They all huddled together in the rainy darkness, too terrified to speak as, one by one, they were relieved of their money, their jewels, their watches, and their pride. And then the bandits came to Juliet. “Gimme yer money, girl, all of it. Now!” Juliet complied. Without a sound, she handed over
her reticule. “The necklace, too.” Her hand went to her throat. Hesitated. The robber cuffed it away in impatience, ripping the thin gold chain from her neck and dropping the miniature of Charlotte’s dead father into his leather bag. “Any jewels?” She was still staring at the bag. “No.” “Any rings?” “No.” But he grabbed her hand, held it up, and saw it: a promise made but broken by death. It was Charles’s signet ring — her engagement ring — the last thing her beloved fiancé had given her before he had died in the fighting at Concord. “Filthy lyin’ bitch, give it to me!” Juliet stood her ground. She looked him straight in the eye and firmly, quietly, repeated the single word. “No.” Without warning he backhanded her across the cheek, and she fell to her knees in the mud, cutting her palm on a stone as she tried to prevent injury to the baby. Her hair tumbled down around her face. Charlotte began screaming. And Juliet looked up, only to see the black hole of a pistol’s mouth two inches away, the robber behind it snarling with rage. Her life passed before her eyes. And at that moment a shot rang out from somewhere off to her right, a dark rose exploded on the highwayman’s chest, and with a look of surprise, he pitched forward, dead. ~~~~ Only one shot, but by God, I made it count. The other two highwaymen jerked around at the bark of Gareth’s pistol. Their faces mirrored disbelief as they took in his fine shirt and lace at throat and sleeve, his silk waistcoat, expensive boots, expensive breeches, expensive everything. They saw him as a plum ripe for the picking, and Gareth knew it. He went for his sword. “Get on your horses and go, and neither of you Issue 30 | January 2019 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | shall be hurt.” For a moment, neither the highwaymen nor the passengers moved. Then, slowly, one of the highwayman began to smile. The other, to sneer. “Now!” Gareth commanded, still moving forward and trying to bluff them with his display of cool authority. And then all hell broke loose. Tongues of flame cracked from the highwaymen’s pistols and Gareth heard the low whine of a ball passing at close range. Passengers screamed and dived for cover. The coach horses reared, whinnying in fear. Gareth, his sword raised, charged through the tangle of nettle that grew dense at the side of the road, trying to get to the robbers before they could reload and fire. His foot hit a patch of mud and he went down, his cheek slamming into the stinging nettles. One of the highwayman came racing toward him, spewing a torrent of foul language and intent only on finishing him off. Gareth lay gasping, then flung himself hard to the left as the bandit’s pistol coughed another spear of flame. Where his shoulder had been, a plume of mud shot several inches into the air. The brigand was still coming, roaring at the top of his lungs, already bringing up a second pistol. Gamely, Gareth tried to get to his feet and reach his sword. He slipped in the wet weeds, his cheek on fire as though he’d been stung by a hundred bees. He was outnumbered, his pistol spent, his sword just out of reach. But he wasn’t done for. Not yet. Not by any stretch of the imagination. He lunged for his sword, rolled onto his back, and sitting up, flung the weapon at the oncoming highwayman with all his strength. The blade caught the robber just beneath the jaw and nearly took his head off. He went over backward, clawing at his throat, his dying breath a terrible, rasping gurgle. And then Gareth saw one of the two children running toward him, obviously thinking he was the only safety left in this world gone mad. “Billy!” the mother was screaming. “Billy, no, get back!” The last highwayman spun around. Wild-eyed 38 | UncagedBooks.com
and desperate, he saw the fleeing child, saw that his two friends were dead, and, as though to avenge a night gone wrong, brought his pistol up, training it on the little boy’s back. “Billeeeeeeee!” Gareth lunged to his feet, threw himself at the child, and tumbled him to the ground, shielding him with his body. The pistol exploded at close range, deafening him, a white-hot lance of fire ripping through his ribs as he rolled over and over through grass and weeds and nettles, the child still in his arms. He came to rest upon his back, the wet weeds beneath him, blood gushing hotly from his side. He lay still, blinking up at the trees, the rain falling gently upon his throbbing cheek. His fading mind echoed his earlier words. Well done, good fellow! Well done. The child sprang up and ran, sobbing, back to his mother. And for Lord Gareth de Montforte, all went dark.
feature author I was born and educated in England, but I’ve lived most of my life in Canada. I was an elementary school teacher for 25 years, a job I loved. After that I worked with my husband in the management of his businesses. He’s a born entrepreneur who likes to boast he’s never had a job! My final “career” was as Director of Administration of a global disaster relief organization. I then embarked on writing a romance, something I’d always wanted to do. I chose the medieval period because it’s my favorite to read. I have a keen interest in genealogy. This hobby has had a tremendous influence on my stories. My medieval romances are tales of family honor, ancestry, and roots. As an amateur genealogist, I cherished a dream of tracing my own English roots back to the Norman Conquest—most likely impossible since I am not descended from nobility! So I made up a family and my stories follow its members through successive generations. I am a firm believer in love at first sight. My heroes and heroines may initially deny the attraction between them, but eventually the 42 | UncagedBooks.com
alchemy wins out. I want readers to rejoice when the power of love overcomes every obstacle and lovers find their soul mates. For me, novels are an experience of another world and time. I lose myself in the characters’ lives, always knowing they will triumph in the end and find love. One of the things I enjoy most about writing historical romance is the in-depth research necessary to provide readers with an authentic medieval experience. I love ferreting out bits of historical trivia and including them in my stories. Escape with me to where romance began and get intimate with history.
Welcome Anna Markland Uncaged: Welcome to Uncaged! Can you tell readers more about your different series you have running? How many of them are connected in some way to each other? The series I am focused on at the moment is The House of Pendray series. I actually released Book One, Highland Betrayal, in 2017. Then I got sidetracked on other projects with publisher deadlines. The heroine of Highland Betrayal is the Scottish lass, Hannah Kincaid, who spirited away the Scottish Crown Jewels from under the noses of Parliamentary troops during Cromwell’s invasion of Scotland. Her hero, Morgan Pendray, is a gunnery captain in the occupying army. The rescue of Scotland’s Honors is a true story that I used as the basis of my plot. The next three books tell the stories of Hannah and Morgan’s children, Munro (Kingslayer’s Daughter), Jewel, (Highland Jewel) and Grainger (Highland Rising). Kingslayer’s Daughter is available on preorder now and will release January 21st. I am also in the process of relaunching my first series, The Montbryce Legacy. This series follows successive generations of a noble Norman family caught up in the conquest of England
and the subsequent never-ending political intrigue that ensued. I’ve added new plot twists and scenes to the books. I like to think I’ve improved as a writer since the original books were published, so I’ve edited them accordingly. Book Nine of the Anniversary Edition, Infidelity, will be available in February. It’s the love story of the grandson of the first book in the series, Conquest. I know the Montbryce family so well, I consider myself an honorary member. I even have their details entered in a family tree software program. Uncaged: Historical writers have my utmost respect at the amount of research that goes into their novels. How much research do you do for each book? There is a lot of history in my books—some say too much. The research is what I enjoy most about writing historical fiction. Often it feeds on itself. One discovered tidbit of information leads to another, and another. Before you know it, the plot has created itself. I try to be as historically accurate as possible, but sometimes I tinker a bit! For example, the theft of the Scottish Crown Jewels occurred many years before the Restoration of King Charles II. I decided that was too long for Morgan and Hannah to wait for their Happily Ever After, so I condensed the historical events into a shorter
time frame. Uncaged: Your next book releases January 21 – are you planning any release parties or events? Yes, once I get over the mother of all coughs I have at the moment. Uncaged: You have a fun sounding street team called the Markland Medieval Merrymakers. What are some of the advantages of joining your team? I don’t place any demands on the members. It’s purely a social group. We chat, celebrate birthdays, etc. Uncaged: What did you consider your best marketing that you did for your book? What was the least successful? I would have to say BookBub features have the most impact. Other marketing venues are something of a crapshoot. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t.
Issue 30 | January 2019 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | Uncaged: What is one of the most unusual things that a reader has said to you about your books? I don’t know if it’s unusual, but several readers have told me if history had been so interesting in school they’d have paid more attention. Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? Where is one of your favorite places on Earth?
com/authors/anna-markland . My Amazon page has a complete listing of my books, https://www.amazon. com/author/annamarkland. My own website is http://www.annamarkland.com/
Enjoy an excerpt from Kingslayer’s Daughter
I live in Victoria, British Columbia which is the best possible place to live. When I’m not writing, I enjoy cryptic crosswords, jigsaw puzzles and doing family tree research.
Kingslayer’s Daughter Anna Markland Historical Scottish Releases January 21, 2019
Uncaged: What can you tell us that is very unique about you?
There are no secrets that time does not reveal. Illegitimacy is not the biggest of Sarah’s secrets. Munro is determined to discover why she refuses to acknowledge the attraction between them. Once revealed, will the truth
I live in Canada now, but I was born in the UK and spent my formative years there. It doesn’t make me unique but it perhaps gives me insights into British, and for that matter, European history. I’m also thankful for an English high school education that gave me a solid grounding in English grammar and literature. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you?
destroy them both?
My goal initially was to publish one book (a bucket list item). The only reason I keep writing (on book #52 at the moment) is because readers have embraced my stories. Some of the varied personal reasons readers have shared with me are enough to move one to tears. Writing is a solitary endeavor, but knowing readers enjoy my work keeps me plugging away. Plus, I get attached to my characters and interested in what happens to their children and grandchildren etc. I’ve often said that it’s the characters who tell the stories.
Birmingham, England, September 1680 As soon as Sarah recognized the man tapping on the small glass pane in the door of her apothecary shop, she knew the Reverend Henry Grove had come bearing bad news. He was aware the shop was closed, having presided over her husband’s funeral just two weeks prior. The Guild would not give permission for the business to reopen until she took on an apprentice. With Reginald dead and gone, Henry Grove was the only man in Birmingham who knew the secret of Sarah’s parentage. He’d required the information in order to perform the marriage ceremony that had bound her to a man twenty years her senior.
Readers can follow me on BookBub to be notified of my new releases, https://www.bookbub.
“Herbal tea?” she asked after unlocking the door. He nodded. “Something calming. You’ll need it.”
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| ANNA MARKLAND | She turned the key in the lock and led the way upstairs to the room where she’d lived with Reginald North for five long years. “The kettle’s on the hob,” she said.
was too close to his own living quarters for comfort. My father was moved to Chepstow Castle.” “And your mother went to live with him in his apartments there.”
A few minutes later, she removed her linen apron, smoothed down her grey wool skirts, straightened her waistcoat and took a seat across from him at the scarred wooden table. The clergyman sipped his steaming camomile tea. She feared her trembling hands might drop the chipped cup, so she let it sit. “I’ll wait for it to cool,” she murmured. “Is it about my father?”
She smiled at the cleric. “You’re an unusual priest. You’ve never once uttered a word of condemnation about my parents’ adulterous relationship.” Grove shrugged. “Let he who is without sin… When you look back, don’t you admire their commitment to each other, despite the difficulties they faced?”
She couldn’t think of any other reason for his presence. The Norths weren’t part of the flock of St. Martin’s, though the church was a scant two-minute walk from the shop. She’d never completely understood why she’d asked Grove to keep in touch with the monks at St. Mary’s Priory in Chepstow. “Marten’s dead, child,” he replied. “His torment is over.” She supposed torment was as good a word as any for a sentence of life imprisonment. A vague sense of relieved sadness settled in her heart. “I didn’t know him,” she said in an effort to explain her lack of outward emotion. “I was born in Oxford three years before my father was sent to the Tower to await trial. Five months after that, he was sentenced to exile on Holy Island; Northumbria was too far away for my mother to travel with an infant and her two siblings.” Grove sipped his tea, showing no sign of impatience that she was repeating things he likely already knew. “Henry Marten never set eyes on me again until five years later when he was moved to a cell in Windsor Castle. It was closer to Oxford and my mother bribed a guard to allow a short visit—of which I have no memory. “Three years later, King Charles II decided Windsor
Sarah scoffed. “My father was unhappily wed to someone else. An adulterer as well as a traitor. But their commitment, as you call it, is the only way to explain why my mother abandoned us when she moved to Chepstow.” “Well, she had no income, and three little girls to provide for. Perhaps she thought she was doing the right thing, leaving you in the care of Mrs. Flamsteed.” Sarah nestled her hands around the warm cup and stared at the bits of camomile floating in the tea, remembering. “Peggy and Henrietta were placed in service to two noble households. I was young enough to be sent to the Blue Coat School in Greenwich.” “Ah, yes. A marvelous endeavor founded by Mrs. Flamsteed for girls whose families had fallen on hard times,” Grove enthused. “If only there were more kind-hearted souls in the world like her.” “I suppose a life sentence for treason qualified as hard times,” Sarah retorted. “Now, now,” he chided. “At school you learned about God and were encouraged to have a great horror of vice and a great love of virtue.” “The irony of that strikes me now I’m an adult,” she confessed. “Though I didn’t know the full Issue 30 | January 2019 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | gravity of my parents’ sins at the time.” They sat in silence for a few minutes, until Grove finished his tea. “You haven’t asked about your mother.” A chill crept up Sarah’s nape. “No.” “The monks report she has nowhere to live. She’s destitute.” Sarah almost laughed at the irony. Freed at last from her husband’s brutality, surely she wouldn’t be expected to provide for a woman who’d abandoned her. “As you see, I don’t really have anywhere…” “It’s your duty, Sarah,” he replied. “The Priory will allow her to stay for a short while, until you can fetch her.” Indignation stiffened her spine. “I can’t go off to Wales. I have to find an apprentice and get the shop re-opened. People need medicinals.” Grove reached across and patted her hand. “Nevertheless. The coach for Gloucester leaves from The Swan on the morrow.”
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feature author I was born in 1973 in Peterborough and lived there until I was 20, attending The King’s School in the city. I then began a rather nomadic existence, living and working all over the country and various parts of the world. I found myself returning to Peterborough many times over the years, usually when things had gone wrong. It was on one of these occasions that I met my partner about 100 metres from my back door whilst walking a dog. Two children swiftly followed. I’m still a little stunned by the pace of it now. Fifty Years of Fear book was started a long time ago but parenthood and then after working in sales management all my life, i randomly spent four years as a prison officer. Ironically it was the four a.m. feed which gave me the opportunity to finish the book as unable to get back to sleep I completed it in the early morning hours. I’ve now written five further books. My second book, The Boy Inside, was picked up by a publisher, and Lazy Blood is also out. All my books are thought provoking, and told with a sense of humour. Reading the reviews has been great. The first three books are stand alone, however, some of the characters cross over, and you can see how at times, their lives overlap. Abel’s Revenge is something a bit different. It’s a modern day love story set against the backdrop of an escalating serial killer. There’s a whodunnit element to it, and some smiles along the way. Shadows of Regret was inspired by my time on the women’s side of the jail in Peterborough. You won’t have read a book like it.
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Uncaged welcomes Ross Greenwood Uncaged: Welcome to Uncaged! Your newest book will release January 20, called Shadows of Regret. Can you tell readers more about the book and what inspired it? Most of my books have been thought-provoking and dark but with men as the main protagonists. I worked for the prison service for 4 years at HMP Peterborough. It’s the only prison in the UK which holds both male and female prisoners. Obviously, there’s a big wall between them. It was the difference between these two places that inspired me to write about women who try and rebuild their lives after being in jail for a long time. With many, the line between victim and villain is extremely blurred. Katie is a strong character but can she resists the urge to take revenge? Uncaged: You write mostly in the thrillers/suspense genres. What kind of research goes into your novels? I use other authors a great deal. Most tend authors tend to be middle aged or older and have a lifetime of experience in their profession. Need some justice advice,
ask a cop. Need to know about knife damage, get hold of a retired doctor. Failing that, google is the author’s friend. I’ve found it much easier writing about things I know, such as criminals. We all have unusual relations/ friends and different interactions that can be interesting to others. Uncaged: Are you planning any release parties or events for the release? I’ve a blog tour set up with Caroline Vincent’s bitsaboutbooks, and I’m in the local paper. Uncaged: You’ve worked with publishers before and now you are indie releasing. What are the advantages and disadvantages to either scenario? Would you prefer to self release? The main advantage for me with self-publishing is that I can see every books that’s been sold a few seconds after it’s bought on amazon with their tracker, even down to every page on amazon’s kindle unlimited. I get a real buzz every time someone buys a copy, even if it’s the only one that day. You choose the cover, but on the flip side, it’s a lot of work when you could be writing.
I’ve found the book community very supportive. My publisher was mid-range, so they only give you a small window to be successful. If it isn’t they will look to spend their advertising dollars elsewhere. That’s fair enough, that’s life. Both my books did okay but not well enough for me to carry on and lose the control that giving your book away entails. That said, they are bigger now, and I would definitely do another one with a big publishing house. Not for the money, all most authors want is their book to be read. Uncaged: What did you consider your best marketing that you did for your book? What was the least successful? Facebook ads for me last time just did not work at all. Whereas before they’ve been good. Amazon ads worked very well but are getting progressively more expensive. Uncaged: What is one of the most unusual things that a reader has said to you about your books? This is a review for Fifty Years of Fear: Issue 30 | January 2019 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | I loved this book because I am a window cleaner It proves how important it is to keep using clean water. And lots of soap suds and elbow grease It’s better to see into the building than to see out. Thank you for improving my future Thank you for creating my past And by chance I also own three donkeys and a ferret. It’s company I suppose but is it company I need? I bought myself a pot of jam So I suppose you could say that I toast my neighbour. Isn’t it lovely when you know what perch to land on? Or maybe a bream, pike, or roach? Eh?!! Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? Where is one of your favorite places on Earth? I need total silence and no interruptions. I write best with a nice view, although my office is not dissimilar to some of the prison cells I write about. Uncaged: What can you tell us that is very unique about you? I had a tumor removed from the back of my head when I was 26. I went a little crazy and jacked my management job in insurance and went backpacking for a couple of years. Something like that happening helps you appreciate life but perhaps makes you a little nutty at the same time. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? 50 | UncagedBooks.com
Thanks for all your support. Authors do appreciate it and love it when you get in touch. Most of us have a genuine interest in people in general. We work alone too, so sometimes contact with the outside world is much appreciated. I can be found on twitter @greenwoodross and Facebook.
Also enjoy an excerpt from Shadows of Regret Shadows of Regret Ross Greenwood Thriller/Suspense Releases January 20, 2019 Katie committed a terrible crime. Sixteen years was the price she had to pay.
Once released from prison, she finds the world has changed. Her chances appear bleak, but Katie is a
Isolated and alone, she struggles to make sense of her new life. Starting again isn’t easy, especially after what she’s done. Despite not feeling free or safe, Katie overcomes her fears and confronts the future. But history won’t remain forgotten. Gradually, memories of the past are revealed. When Katie finally exposes the awful truth and sees there are others who share the blame, she must choose her path. Will she seek redemption, or will she take revenge? Excerpt The First Memory - Age Five I deemed it necessary to line them up in pairs, the big dollies at the front with ones of equal height and so on. I must have got it from how children walk when they went on a school trip. A little girl, whose name I have long forgotten, helped me. We beamed at each other when they were ready. I grabbed my favourite dolly of them all and prepared to lead the way. Recep-
| ROSS GREENWOOD | tion class had drifted by in a pleasant haze, but it came to a juddering halt on that distressing day. Our teacher was a gruff old woman. She petrified me, but I felt safe with her, if that makes any sense. She wasn’t one for emotion, so I knew something terrible had happened when she appeared at my side with tears pouring down her face. ‘Katie, can you come with me, please?’ I stood and smiled hesitantly. My friend began to cry next to me which made me more confused. The teacher placed her arm over my shoulder and guided me out of the classroom. ‘Do I need my coat?’ ‘We have all your things, dear.’ ‘I still have dolly.’ Kind eyes implored me to hang on to her. We entered a large office which contained the headmistress and a youthful woman in smart clothing. They both had blotchy faces. ‘Sit there, please.’ I did, and waited for something to happen. My left leg jiggled, and I stifled a laugh. The younger lady’s shoulders shook. She rose, sat next to me and took my hand. Hers cocooned mine in warmth. I can feel them when I recall that time. Why was I the only one not crying? ‘My name is Bethany, Katie. I’m a social worker. There’s been an awful accident. We’re waiting for your uncle to arrive. Try not to worry, we’ll look after you. It will all be okay.’ ‘Uncle Jack is coming here?’ It had to be him because I only had one uncle. ‘That’s right.’ Issue 30 | January 2019 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | ‘I like him, but he smells funny.’ At that moment, he arrived with a policewoman. Bethany vacated her seat so my uncle could take it. He put his arm around me and kissed the top of my head as he often did. He still smelled odd. I looked up into his eyes and saw him struggle with a poor smile. Then, he glanced at the policewoman and nodded. What she said was complicated for a five-yearold, but I understood. There had been a fire. A fastmoving, ferocious one that consumed our house, its contents, and the inhabitants before anyone could be saved. I was all alone in the world, except for Uncle Jack and Auntie Gwyn. It would not be okay at all.
Don’t miss these titles:
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scifi | dystopian | young adult
feature author Niki Cluff lives in Northern Arizona with her husband, three children, and Great Dane who also doubles as a pony. For the last four years, she has worked as a literary intern sorting through queries while writing her own books. When she isn’t writing or watching BIGBANG and EXO videos, she’s sketching, playing video games (Legend of Zelda is her favorite), crocheting, and cooking. Copycat recipes are her specialty. She’s also a massive anime fan (Sailor Moon forever!) and hopes to visit Tokyo some day. Follow her @chershireNkat on twitter, or email her at email@example.com
Please welcome Niki Cluff Uncaged: Welcome to Uncaged! Can you tell us more about your books that you have out? Both of my books are YA Sci-Fi. Breed is a dystopian Sci-Fi before a comet destroys earth, and Head Case is a LitRPG about a girl who is trapped in a coma and attached to a virtual reality world for a second chance at life. Uncaged: Last August, you had a local book launch event for one of your books. How did that idea come about, and was it as much of a success as you were hoping? Do you have plans to attend/plan any other events in 2019? Breed came about partially from my love of dinosaurs. I wondered what would happen if a comet were to hit the earth now. I also wondered what the government would do to ensure that humans survived. Dystopian novels were also really huge at the time. And I was listening to a lot of the Korean pop band BigBang which lead to some of the songs mentioned in the book. T.O.P. from BigBang was the inspiration for Ichiro. Uncaged: What do you have coming out next that you can tell us about? Right now I’m working on the sequel to BREED, and I also have a YA MR coming out in an anthology later this year.
Uncaged: What are some of the advantages of joining your newsletter? A free novella and updates on what I’m writing, when new books are coming out, giveaways, and just random stuff about me.
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Uncaged: Who were some of your inspirations to become an author? What is your favorite genre to write in? Kerry Blair, who is a local smaller author in my town, really inspired and pushed me to write. Also, reading books by Patricia C Wrede, Michael Crichton, Kelly Oram, and Janette Rallison pushed me to want to write. Uncaged: What is one of the most unusual things that a reader has said to you about your books? I had a reader email me and tell me that they were prepping for a comet to strike earth because of Breed. She was worried the government would really force teenagers into a program like the one in the book. I wasn’t sure what to say to that.
Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? To my fans, thank you so much for reading my books and pushing me to write more and write better. I love being able to talk to readers and interact with them. I love your fan art! You can reach me on Facebook: facebook.com/ nikicluffauthor Twitter: https://twitter.com/nikicluff_books?s=09 and Instagram: https://www. instagram.com/nikicluff_books/
Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? Where is one of your favorite places on Earth? Cook. I love cooking. And working on art. I sketch, not as well as I would like. I’m a huge homebody, so I’m happiest when I’m home. But I also love to be anywhere where there are macarons and tempura battered sushi. Uncaged: What can you tell us that is very unique about you? Outside of the fact that I’m a huge lover of dinosaurs and that I deliver newspapers early in the morning, I’m also able to shake my eyeballs on command. It’s a gift.
Issue 30 | January 2019 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR |
Enjoy an excerpt from Head Case Head Case Niki Cluff YA/SciFi Allyson has been in a coma for the last nine months. What’s worse, she can hear everything the doctors say. She knows they’re keeping her in a coma and that she’s at the mercy of the hospital’s First-in-Human trial—a VR system implanted in her brain for a second chance at life. Attached to the VR, Ally discovers worlds unlike home. She can do whatever she wants, but she misses her parents. With help from Harrison, a rabbit-eared boy, they work together to free themselves from Aishwarya, the mad queen of the world. But when Harrison wakes up and doesn’t come for Ally, she’ll split her soul to the brink of death to save herself. Excerpt “It’s enough when I say it is. This is my world. She did this. She deserves to die,” Aishwarya says through gritted teeth. “She can’t be me. I won’t let her take everything away from me.” Chester turns his head back toward me, his voice somewhat muffled in his shoulder. In his cat-like eyes, I see fire blazing. “Do you know what happens when you die in the VR world?” I shake my head but realize he probably can’t see me. “No— no.” “You die. It’s like a dream. When you die in your dream, you 56 | UncagedBooks.com
die in real life. Your brain believes it’s truly happening and the brain is a dangerous thing,” Chester says. He’s grunting against the pressure of the blade and holding Aishwarya. “Bring him back,” she says, her words come out through gritted teeth. Tears roll down her cheeks. Midori sneaks around the crowd and Chester and grabs my hand. She pulls me away from the danger, shaking me from my stupor. I always thought I was good under pressure. Calm. Logical. But something about having a sword hurtling toward you throws all rational thought out the window. Or over the balcony, in my case. “How many must die for you?” Chester asks, releasing the blade. “This isn’t the world we wanted to build. You promised we’d build. No hate.” “This is my world,” Aishwarya says, her voice harsh, raspy. But there’s a look of hurt in her eyes. “I will do whatever I feel necessary.” Midori and I meet Aalim at the base of the stairs. The voices of Chester and Aishwarya fade, Chester still standing guard. Aishwarya doesn’t try to break through. I wonder if she doesn’t want to lose another friend. How many real people here she has left. “Drink,” Aalim says, gesturing with his hands. I’m shaking, torn between rushing back and helping Chester and saving my own life. What can I really do to help Chester? I have no experience with a sword outside of the few characters I’ve played in video games. I’m not particularly strong, or quick. Especially in heels. “You promised Harrison,” Aalim says. He sheds his jacket and wraps it around Midori’s shoulders. “Drink.”
| NIKI CLUFF | I grunt at the reminder, annoyed that he’s bringing it up. I don’t want to help Harrison right now. My heart aches with hurt and betrayal. I slide off the high-heeled shoes and hang them from my handbag. I pull out the flask and chug the warm liquid. Then I remember what the liquid is. The calming drink he’d given me before that almost put me to sleep. Another trap? We enter the maze, running past the aviary and the menagerie. The calming liquid acts instantly and I’m struggling to stay on my bare feet without falling asleep. We’re running around a turn when I stumble and collapse into a heap in the corner. I’m groggy. My eyelids droop and feel as heavy as my body in a coma. It’s only a matter of time before I drift off to sleep.
Issue 30 | January 2019 |
feature author Pembroke Sinclair is a literary jack of all trades, playing her hand at multiple genres. She has written an eclectic mix of fiction ranging from horror to sci-fi and even some westerns. Born in Rock Springs, Wyoming--the home of 56 nationalities--it is no wonder Pembroke ended up so creatively diverse. Her fascination with the notions of good and evil, demons and angels, and how the lines blur have inspired her writing. Pembroke currently lives in Columbus, Nebraska, with her husband, two spirited boys, a black lab named Ryder, two fluffy Corgis named Floki and Siggy, and a rescue kitty named Alia, who happens to be the sweetest, most adorable kitty in the world! She cannot say no to dessert, orange soda, or cinnamon. She loves rats and tatts and rock and roll and wants to be an alien queen when she grows up.
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Uncaged welcomes Pembroke Sinclair Uncaged: Welcome to Uncaged! You have a couple series going right now that have to do with zombies. Can you tell readers more about your different series? The two series I have are the Life After the Undead series (two books: Life After the Undead and Death to the Undead) and the Saving Humanity series (two books so far: Humanityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Hope and Edge of Humanity). Both of them are young adult. In the Life After the Undead series, the story follows Krista as she tries to navigate a world full of undead and treacherous humans. Her goal is to make the world a better place, despite the rotting creatures that are roaming around. In the Saving Humanity series, the story follows Caleb as he tries to get back to a normal life. He has an incredibly difficult time doing this because he basically has PTSD after watching his friends and family get killed by the undead. Just when he thinks things are about to get normal, he finds out that heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s immune to becoming a zombie, so he has to figure out how to navigate that revelation.
Uncaged: What inspires you to write in different genres? What are some of your favorite genres to read? When a story pops into my head, I want to be able to tell it and not be constrained by the different genres. In reality, you could probably classify all of my stories as dystopian because they take place in futures that are pretty bleak after humanity has all but destroyed itself or is about to destroy itself. They just also happen to take place in space or have dragons in them. I enjoy reading a variety of different genres, including sci fi, fantasy, horror, literature, and nonfiction. If it’s a good story, I’ll check it out. Uncaged: Humanity’s Hope is book one in a series, and Edge of Humanity will release next. Do you have a release date for that one?
do my presentations and workshops and speak at conventions and conferences. It’s also a whole lotta fun to talk to people who share the same passions and are willing to discuss what they would do to survive the zombie apocalypse. It’s hard to talk about least successful things because they may not always be unsuccessful. Just because I don’t get results once doesn’t mean if I try the same thing again it won’t be different. Sometimes it’s hard to use social media to get any sales, but other times, it works great. The best practice in marketing is to keep trying things more than once and see how it goes. Uncaged: What is one of the most unusual things that a reader has said to you about your books?
The ebook of Edge of Humanity is available now, and the paperback should be out soon.
Hmmmm. That’s a good question. I can’t think of anything that anyone has said that was unusual about my books!
Uncaged: What did you consider your best marketing that you did for your book? What was the least successful?
Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? Where is one of your favorite places on Earth?
The best marketing I do for my books is to get out and
More often than not I’m not writing. I work a fullIssue 30 | January 2019 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | time job and have a family to raise. Writing gets done in my “free time,” which means I squeeze it in when I can.
Enjoy an excerpt from Edge of Humanity
One of my favorite places on Earth is Seattle. I love that town. It’s so quirky and fun and has both mountains and the ocean. It’s just amazing!
Edge of Humanity Pembroke Sinclair YA/Dystopian
Uncaged: What can you tell us that is very unique about you?
Does being immune to becoming a zombie still make a person human?
I’m am full of useless information. It’s incredibly helpful for playing trivia games, but no one wants to play with me because I generally always win! Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? Thank you so much for reading my books! I enjoy writing them and really love it when I get feedback and find life-long fans. YOU ROCK! The can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Bookbub, and my blog.
Caleb tried to live a normal life after the uprising. He moved into the city, found a home, and worked a job. He yearned for days full of tedium and schedules. Instead, he discovered he was immune to becoming a zombie, and his life was turned upside down. Fear and uncertainty have replaced normalcy. Caleb no longer knows if his immunity makes him human or something else…something monstrous. He knows who is after him, but to find out what his captors want and what he is, he’ll have to play their game and give up his freedom. His sacrifice may or may not lead to the answers he desperately craves. Excerpt Descent Into Darkness Caleb felt the pounding before he heard it. The vibrations traveled through the door, through his backpack, and buzzed his spine. When the sound reached his ears, it made his eardrums pulse and throb. He lifted his head and stared into the room. His sister pushed herself into a sitting position on the bed and stared at the door behind him, eyes wide. Her hair stuck out on the sides of her head, her face was blotched red from crying. Her limbs were stiff, ready to run at the first sign of trouble. It was obvious she was afraid—and she had every right and reason to be. Wearily, Caleb pushed himself off the floor and stepped to her. He and Nina had been in a situation
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| PEMBROKE SINCLAIR | like this more times than they should have been. He was tired of the routine, frustrated it had become an everyday part of life. The pounding was loud and unrelenting, but it wasn’t coming from inside. The undead hadn’t breached the house yet. They pounded on the walls in hopes of getting to the living. Caleb knew it wouldn’t be long. One lucky creature would stumble its way through a window, and the rest would follow. Another would aimlessly wander up the stairs, bringing the horde with it. As long as Caleb and his sister stayed quiet, the zombies would soon forget about them and wander off. He placed his hands on his sister’s arms and waited until her eyes focused on him. Caleb needed her to quit worrying about the undead. If she focused on him, she would realize they were safe. It took several moments, and she trembled beneath his touch. When her gaze finally met his, the tension didn’t ease. A pleading entered her eyes, she pressed her lips into a line exhaling sharply through her nose—aggravation and uncertainty present. Nina was as weary as he was. Caleb wanted to fix the situation for her, but there was nothing he could do. He nodded once and squeezed her arms gently. They were both aware of the hopelessness of what the world had become. There was nothing they could do at that point but survive. He turned to the bed. With slow, steady movements, he slid the backpack straps from his shoulders. Placing it softly on the ground, he turned his attention to the bed covers and attempted to pull them off. Nina unclenched her jaw and blinked slowly before standing from the bed and cautiously removing her backpack, setting it next to Caleb’s. She helped him remove the blankets and sheets and placed them in a pile on the floor. She tiptoed around the foot of the bed to the opposite side. Caleb reached down to put his hands under the mattress, and she mirrored his movements. Their gaze met, and Caleb nodded. In unison, they lifted the mattress from the bed and quietly placed it against the door. She held it in place while Caleb got the box springs and placed them against the mattress. She held that in place too. Caleb stepped back to the bed
frame. Taking a deep, silent breath, he lifted the foot of the bed and slid the frame across the room. It hitched and hesitated on the carpet, refusing to move silently or easily. The pounding increased. Irritation and anger flashed across Caleb’s face, but it fizzled out just as fast. Caleb shrugged. The zombies already knew they were there, he wasn’t exposing a secret. With the extra padding against the door, they had plenty of time to escape if/when the zombies figured out where they were. With a grunt, he pulled the bed toward the door, no longer caring if it was quiet. It thumped on the floor, then knocked into the mattresses, which proceeded to bang the door. The pounding became louder and more determined. Then came the sound of shattering glass. Caleb and Nina glanced at each other with wide eyes and scrambled to secure the bed in place. Once the headboard had the mattresses propped up, they moved the dresser and nightstand to the foot for added security. Once those were in place, they sat with their backs against it, ready to brace the barrier with their remaining strength. If they didn’t have to leave, they weren’t going to. The zombies may have been right outside the door, but Caleb and Nina were safer in that room than they were outside. Footsteps echoed throughout the house, along with the sound of pictures sliding off walls and more breaking glass. The floor vibrated beneath their butts from the flurry of activity below. Nina grabbed Caleb’s hand and held on tight. Her nails dug into his flesh, but he didn’t mind. He welcomed the pain. It reminded him he was still alive. Yes, but for how long? The voice was soft, almost nonexistent. Still, the question made Caleb’s stomach knot and his heart slam into his ribcage. If you survive this, you should really reconsider your survival techniques. Footsteps thumped unevenly on the stairs. Nina inhaled a sharp breath and dug her nails even Issue 30 | January 2019 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | deeper into Caleb. He closed his eyes and focused on the steps. He had to be ready if they made it to the door and tried to get in. He wasn’t sure where it would come from, but he had to muster the strength to keep the undead out and his sister safe. He clenched his jaw and squeezed Nina’s hand back to keep the fear that raged through his body under control. He kept telling himself the door was secure and that the zombies wouldn’t be able to break through the barrier, but part of him didn’t believe it. Part of him knew they were doomed. Both of you are going to die in this room. Caleb’s breath hitched, his body tensed. Nina tensed too. The footsteps thundered down the hall. The vibrations in the floor turned to shakes. He planted his feet into the carpet and pressed his back harder against the nightstand. It was an action that was both to ensure their safety and to keep his muscles from shuddering because of fear. Nina’s breathing came in pants. They were so quick, Caleb was convinced she was going to hyperventilate and pass out. Her grip remained strong though, and Caleb focused on that instead of focusing on the worst-case scenario. Time stopped. It always stopped when they were being hunted. As if the universe wanted Caleb to experience every excruciating moment of fear, to remember every detail of panic and dread. He hated it. Every moment changed him, pushed him deeper into despair, made him realize how awful and hopeless the world had become. All that existed was the deafening footsteps of the undead. They paced the hall with determination. The pounding would come next, followed by the splintering of wood and the gnashing of teeth. They’d figure out that they couldn’t get through the door and break down the walls instead. That thought quickened Caleb’s already fast heartbeat. His eyes flew open. If he had to run, he needed to know where he was going. There wouldn’t be much time, but Caleb and his sister would have to make it to the window to get away. With any luck, there wouldn’t be a sea of monsters waiting for them below. 62 | UncagedBooks.com
Caleb tried to count how many creatures there were by isolating the different sounds their shoes made, but it was impossible. They all just blended together in a cacophony of thuds. He bit his bottom lip. Sweat beaded on his forehead, his head started to pound. Between his rapid heartbeat and quick breaths, dizziness threated to wash over him, but it was held at bay by the adrenaline coursing through his veins. The scream rose into his throat. The urge to run twitched his legs. Go. Get out and keep going. If only he could. If there were a place that was safe, he’d go in a heartbeat. Sweat dripped down his forehead. He held his breath in intervals to keep the scream from escaping and to prevent himself from hyperventilating. It was becoming increasingly difficult to hold it in. Heat burned his face. Just when he thought he’d lose the battle, his sister’s grip on his hand loosened. He jerked his head toward her, sure she had passed out. Instead, she stared at him wide-eyed, her face pale. As Caleb stared back, he became aware that the footsteps had lessened. There was no longer a stampede outside the door. The undead were losing interest. Time started again. Caleb’s breathing slowed, but the tension remained in his body. His muscles shook from fear and the adrenaline draining from his system. Exhaustion settled over him, but he knew he’d never be able to rest. Caleb squeezed Nina’s hand to let her know it was going to be all right. And for a while, it would be. He just wished it could be like before. Tears pooled on her lower lids and spilled down her cheeks. Her chin dimpled. “I can’t do this anymore,” she whispered.
| PEMBROKE SINCLAIR |
Issue 30 | January 2019 |
| FANG-FREAKIN-TASTIC FEATURE AUTHOR |
Bokerah Brumley lives on ten permaculture acres, complete with sheep, goats, peacocks, turkeys, geese, guineas, ducks, chickens, five home-educated children, and one husband. She serves as the president of the Cisco Writers Club, moonlights as an acquisitions editor for The Crossover Alliance, and works as the production/marketing manager for an independent New York publisher.
Enjoy an excerpt from Woe for a Faerie Woe for a Faerie Bokerah Brumley Fantasy Vengeance always has consequences. Woe is a fallen angel, sentenced to mortality for an unforgivable violation of angelic code. Cast down to the streets of New Haven, she is rescued by Fae prince ArĂşn, who delivers her into the care of Jason, a local balance keeper. As the dark and brooding Jason coaches Woe on the intricacies of being human, she discovers a rush of new and exhilarating feelings that are difficult to ignore, compounded by the always timely arrival of her Fae hero-savior.
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Jason comes face-to-face with his humanity, torn between his desire for Woe and his vows to keep New Haven safe.
| BOKERAH BRUMLEY | Arún finds himself drawn to Woe and to the destiny he does not want, further testing his loyalty to the kingdom of his birth. As an unseen enemy circles ever closer, Woe is forced to choose between them, and the fate of worlds hangs in the balance. Join the Keepers of New Haven as they fight to maintain the balance between good and evil in a paranormal world where nothing is as it seems. Excerpt 1 The Choice Ailin
New Haven City I couldn’t stop Hannah’s murder. Transforming took too long, and I already knew I wouldn’t arrive in time to save the little girl from her attacker. “Help me, Ailin,” she screeched, reaching across realms with her mind. “He’s killing me. I can’t breathe. His hands…” In a moment, a flash, through her eyes, I recognized the alley she was in, the one next to the orphanage. An ugly shadow that moved over her, the strangle of fat fingers around her neck, and the stream of shrieking thoughts that tore through her mind. When Hannah screamed, I froze. Every message, every mission faded from my mind. She needed me. I had to protect her. She didn’t have anyone else. No mother. I reached toward her, picturing her location. It took too long to cross from the supernatural to the mortal, but it was the only option. I hoped I would make it in time.
A breeze that smelled of New Haven City, and the mortals that populated it, buffeted my face, and Hannah called for me again. The second time she called, her voice held no strength. She faded. I hadn’t been the angel assigned to guide her or protect her, but I had to go. Faster. I had to get there. I pushed through the separation, the sandpaper edges scraped against my skin. If only I could get there. I stretched toward her as I bled from my supernatural plane into hers, stepping down onto the edge of a four-story building. I peered into the alley that matched what I’d seen through her eyes. The loud hum of humans drowned out Hannah’s whimpers. People were a constant engine of chaos, running in the background, and I strained to hear her. But there was nothing. No warmth as her soul recognized me, no responding warmth echoing in my insides. I loved her. “Hannah?” I whisper-yelled, my voice hoarse with worry. Her silence destroyed my hope. A familiar flutter caught my attention on top of the skyscraper across the ally. Slowly a dark figure wrapped in robes, consolidated on the fire escape. No. No. No. The angel of death hovered nearby. He wouldn’t leave New Haven City without Hannah’s soul. I clamped my hand over my mouth to keep my scream from escaping. One final gurgling wail followed the rip of Hannah’s flesh. Hannah’s guardian was nowhere to be seen, and fury seethed inside my heart. I cried out, then. Hannah might not have been my Issue 30 | January 2019 |
| FANG-FREAKIN-TASTIC FEATURE AUTHOR | divine purpose. Maybe she wasn’t my charge to protect, but I had flown as fast as I could. I meant Each moment that ticked by, a resolve grew and hardto reach her before something happened that I ened in my heart. couldn’t fix. Vengeance could still be mine. My creators demanded obedience to the hierarchy. I could not move against the Death Angel. The He dragged her lifeless body into the corner of the allaws of the supernatural assured it. I could only ley and covered her with dirt and trash. One foot shoewatch the end unfold. less, the other tied in a ballet slipped that her mother had given her as a reward for good grades. Longing curled my toes and weakened my ankles until I swayed and wished an avenging jusI grimaced at the row of gargoyles beside me, positice onto the world. I should have been sooner. I tioned every few feet along the parapet that surrounded the flat portion of the rooftop. Thunder interrupted the should have sacrificed myself to save her. I could have. As an angel, I existed inside the spiritual, cacophony of prayers that the stone figures funneled hidden from the physical, and I remained to watch upward from a thousand voices below. of the rest of the hideous scene play out. The clouds parted. Another brilliant flash of lightning Helpless. illuminated the posh uptown. Fire escapes laced the sides of the old buildings. Each one crisscrossed the A long sigh drifted toward me, intermingled with walls like jagged arrows, the ladder-tips pointing to the alleyway. the low grunts of evil bent on finishing its task of destruction. He doused a bright light, the impact of that moment slammed me into a darkness so Defeated, I turned toward the high-rise apartments behind me. From a window, another man watched the deep. city, his finger tapping his chin. A helicopter whirred I stepped over the edge and landed on the paveoverhead. ment behind the creature that dared harm my HanAn empty train ran along its elevated tracks. The winnah. I tucked my wings away. dows blinked like celluloid frames of a silent film, and Her last heartbeat shuddered through me. the rhythmic clacking was the orchestral accompaniment. On this street, a woman wept at a bus stop, and My knees trembled, and I crept forward. a siren echoed like the memory of the cries of the condemned, burned at the hypocritical stake, hundreds of She left her body. It was finished. years ago. Death gathered her in his arms, and the laws of my world meant I had to leave her in the arms of its mercy. Above us, tears streaked the gargoyles faces, weeping each time an innocent died. She made no more sounds. I arrived too late. My sweet Hannah. 68 | UncagedBooks.com
Obedience thwarted my intentions. I wasn’t supposed to step in. The One Rule was clear. Do only what you’re told when you’re told to do it. Nothing more, nothing less. I couldn’t help Hannah. I had been too late to rescue her. What useless wings.
| BOKERAH BRUMLEY | My lovely Hannah: guilty of childhood and sentenced to death by a predator. I leapt up into the darkness. My black feathered pinions opened wide, a futile benediction over the masses. I wanted to get away from the horror, but instead, my bare feet landed softly on the fire escape directly above the man that still studied his achievement.
me. The colorful dawn crested the horizon and chirruping songbirds flapped along beside me. Today’s breezes did not sing through my feathers like every day before, and joy did not come with the morning. I gasped and tried to still my shaking.
I wrapped myself in my feathers, looking between them like a child watching a scary movie. A bright flash accompanied the click of a camera shutter. The creature wanted to remember his filthy work. Then he slipped away without retribution, free of torment.
If I could get away from the city, the consequences wouldn’t catch me. Sick of being told what to do, I’d veered from my purpose. Rage had poured through me, and, for a moment, Free Will had been my dearest companion.
I didn’t need pictures to remember the ugly. My fingernails tore the flesh of my palms as I screamed at the absence of miraculous intervention. I spent my grief, weeping in an alleyway that evil emptied of life.
Fear set my teeth on edge. I knew what came next, even as I tried to outrun it. No face could hide forever from their reckoning.
My tears were lost in a torrent of raindrops. Again, I’d been beaten from head to toe by a reality without the freedom of choice, a reality that forced me to watch an innocent die without intervening. Outrage billowed within me. I would find a way to balance the scales. I would no longer be constrained by any leading by my own. I stepped from the metal landing, weightless for a moment, my eyes closed to shield against the truth of an existence without her laughter. Hannah was dead. Angels weren’t saviors, and I refused to be Ailin anymore. I would remake myself as an arbiter of vengeance. I needed to feel something more than woe. A Few Days Later
As I crossed over the reservoir, the sun disappeared. My world plunged into darkness. Birds screeched and scattered through the sky as I struggled against an invisible net. The tips of my iridescent feathers ignited in blue flames. The warm kiss of heat tingled along hundreds of feather shafts and swelled until I was engulfed in a searing, mid-air bonfire, and plummeting toward New Haven City Park. The white-hot blaze burned until it devoured my purpose and turned my beautiful wings to ash. That’s the trouble with real Justice. It doesn’t give out grace cards. At least The Fall would kill me.
Congealed blood clung to my wingtips, and terror became my tailwind. Hard and fast, I flew. With each downstroke, I tried to fling the evidence away from Issue 30 | January 2019 |
Uncaged Reviews Murder is a Dirty Business Tricia L. Sanders Mystery/Suspense
Between hot flashes and divorce papers, a middle-aged woman reconsiders her outlook on life when she butts heads with a hot detective during a murder investigation. When Cece Cavanaugh’s husband empties their joint bank account, steals her designer luggage, and runs off with a younger woman, Cece must decide whether to ask her manipulative mother-in-law for a handout or get a job. Choosing the easier path, Cece lands a job cleaning a crime scene where a high school coach was murdered. When his wife is implicated—a young woman Cece practically raised—Cece finds herself mopping floors, balancing an empty checkbook, and ferreting out a killer.
Uncaged Review: This book has a very funny and entertaining storyline. Cece finds herself struggling to make a living after her husband drops a bombshell on her. I found the concept the author makes with this book very gripping and insightful. I’m really hoping this is only the beginning of Cece and her adventures patiently awaiting what happens next. Reviewed by Jennifer
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Silver Storm Cynthia Wright Historical Regency ~ Dashing and untamable, André Raveneau is the Revolutionary War’s most reckless privateer captain when Devon Lindsay stows away aboard his ship after her Connecticut town has been burned by the British. Raveneau cynically agrees to deliver her to her childhood sweetheart in Virginia but doesn’t count on his own potent attraction to the enchanting, courageous Devon. Uncaged Review: I love the historicals that are set on the high seas, they are definitely on the top of my list of historical romances – and this book begins a series and entwines another series in with it. I really loved the character of Andre, but Devon – honestly? I don’t know how she wasn’t tossed overboard. In the first half of the book, she was whiny, selfish, with many temper tantrums and even a bit self-destructive. I did end up liking her towards the back half of the book, but she was a bit too childish a lot of the time for me to love her. With that said, the author did a good job with the story and kept me interested and entertained. As with other authors, she wove some true history in with her story, so you are entertained while learning. One thing that should be cleaned up is the excessive use of exclamation points. There was plenty of adventure, action and romance – and this book is still a nice addition to the historical high seas romance genre. Reviewed by Cyrene
Seeking Perfect Jeri Bronson Contemporary/YA
Demon Child Kat Cotton Urban Fantasy
Jesse learned early not to trust a soul, but what if he was her soulmate?
This demon fighting business used to be so simple. Get in, use my sex thrall to dust pesky incubi and get paid the big bucks. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.
Senior year of high school should be about friendship, boyfriends, and graduation, but for seventeen-year-old Jesse Barnes it’s about escaping the shame of life with an alcoholic mother. Jesse’s goals are clear: keep a roof over her head, avoid the revolving door of leering men her mother brings home, graduate from high school, and do everything possible to keep her home life secret. Friends, boyfriends: not an option. Who would understand?
Uncaged Review: The main character in this book Jesse has a lot to deal with. Just making it through the rest of high school for starters. Something in me felt sadness for Jesse reading this and I just wanted to hug her and tell her everything would be okay. This is a very drama orientated book focusing on a young adult concept. One I’m very happy I read. Looking forward to reading other books by this author. Reviewed by Jennifer
Now there’s a Demon Child on a feeding rampage. I’ll get all the kudos if I kill him but no one’s fronting up with the cash -- and you can’t eat kudos. Then the most infuriating vampire I’ve ever met wants to hire me. By the way, working for a vampire is strictly taboo. Uncaged Review: This is a fun urban fantasy with a “new-to-me” author. Clem is a strong and snarky demon hunter who is hired by vampires to take down the Demon Child – a vampire that was turned when he was just a boy with more powers than he should have. The trio of Clem, Nic and Kisho is a good one. The fun is in the banter and strange friendship that is developed between them. The action sequences kept me whipping through the pages and some of the banter between Clem and Nic will keep you smiling. My biggest gripe is, I never got a good idea of Clem and what she looked like in my mind. The cover does not do anything for the story, as Clem has flaming red hair and the cover is a blonde. The second gripe is the strange BDSM sequences. This isn’t a sex book by any means, but the couple sequences really didn’t do anything for the story, and I’m not sure why it was included. Even with the couple of gripes I have, this is a fun urban fantasy, and I am looking forward to reading more by this author. Reviewed by Cyrene
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Uncaged Reviews The Scent of White Lilacs Jessie Salisbury Contemporary Romance Charlotte has been left alone. She spent years waiting for Kevin to propose marriage, but then Kevin died in a car crash. Now she has nothing left but her position as manager of an art supply store, and that may soon be for sale. What will she do then?
Uncaged Review: Charlotte FitzRoberts is a 36 year old manager of an art store. She had spent years waiting for Kevin to marry her only to for him to die in a car accident as he was speeding. In the opening she is staring at the ruined lilac bushes in her yard, comparing the damage a late winter storm did to the bushes to her life which has been torn apart with Kevin’s death. She had planned on using the lilacs as part of her wedding bouquet, only now there would be no wedding. She realizes the chances of her marrying Kevin had decreased over the years. He had enjoyed being free, living his own life, never sharing her dreams, only good times where he made no promises. Being realistic, she knows he never would have married her, no matter how long she waited for him. The dream now dead, like her lilacs. Charlotte gave up her dreams of being a painter to manage the art store for the past ten years. She loves what she does and thinks of the store as hers even though she is only the manager for an absentee owner. Malcolm Carlsmythe is a lawyer whose wife died two years ago from cancer. His teenage daughter, Leah, still blames him for not keeping her mother alive, not understanding Rosalie had made the choice, not him, as to what treatment 74 | UncagedBooks.com
she was willing to accept. He meets Charlotte when he goes to get art supplies for Leah which a new art program has ordered for them. Some of the supplies aren’t in and he’ll need to come back for them. He finds himself attracted to Charlotte. Leah is 17. She loves art, having learned to draw and paint from her mother. She is friends with her lab partner, Jeffery Short who helps her understand the lab work. The extra art class she is taking is offered a trip to Italy to visit various museums. She has her father pick up the supplies she needs at the Artist’s Loft where Charlotte works A things move along, Malcolm becomes more attracted to Charlotte, Leah resists his moving forward while she and Jeffery embark on a science project for the science fair where she will do the drawings for his research. It isn’t until the owner of the store, Peggy Martell offers to sell the store to Charlotte things get more interesting. Malcom agrees to handle the sale for her. He finally admits his attraction to her. When the store is vandalized, he shunts the case off to a friend to purse her romantically. Leah meets Charlotte and isn’t sure what to say to her about her father. She asks for help in contacting a local artist for help with the science project in painting feathers for the drawing of some ducks. She questions her father as to his intent where Charlotte is concerned, not fully understanding his answer. As the book moves forward, the author continues to weave the various plot lines skillfully together until the end. It was a great book of second chances and coming of age for his daughter. Each chapter gave you a good reason to keep reading as you delve into their lives, watching Leah go from angry to accepting and Malcom and Charlotte moving into a relationship neither expected to find. I loved this book and give it 5 stars with a recommendation to savor the well written story. Reviewed by Barbara
Owned by the Marine Renee Rose Contemporary/Erotica SHE’S NOT HIS TYPE. TOO SWEET...TOO INNOCENT...TOO VANILLA. When Marine Sergeant Rob Gentry moves into his apartment, the last girl he wants to date is his new neighbor. Smoking hot and so cute it makes his teeth hurt, she’s not his type. Too sweet. Too innocent. Too vanilla. But when her date with an online suitor goes south, he busts into her place to rescue her. Because that’s what a Marine does. Uncaged Review: This is a shorter read, so I won’t go into too many details, but when Rob moves into his new apartment, he mainly just wants to be left alone. Until he meets his hot and too sweet neighbor. The chemistry is good between the characters and there are some hot BDSM sex scenes. Because of the length of the book, a lot of things moved way too fast and there wasn’t any real substance to the story and there were some missed opportunities with the characters, especially Rob. Overall, it’s a good erotic short and a fun, fast read. Reviewed by Cyrene
Better Together Annalisa Carr
Juggling the demands of her troublesome family and a fledgling career means struggling artist Tallulah Becks has no room for romance in her life . . . at least until she bumps into sizzling CEO
Pressured by his father to return to the family business, Aiden encounters the beguiling Tallulah on his first day back in London.
Uncaged Review: When Aiden gets a phone call from his ill father he doesn’t expect his own life to dramatically change. Faced with numerous obstacles he is in for a difficult time. The storyline of this was very simple but comical. It has me in stitches the whole way through I was desperate to read on to find out what happened next. Reviewed by Jennifer
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Uncaged Reviews Oath of a Warrior Mary Morgan Historical Fantasy
Fenian Warrior, Rory MacGregor’s love conquests are legendary, but he has never spoken of the one mortal female who captured his heart. After his dark secret is finally revealed, he is ordered to return and seal the wounds left open by her death. Yet, he finds the timeline altered and swears an oath to rewrite fate, even if it brings about his own death. Uncaged Review: I read the first book in this series a while back, and the author really upped her game with the second installment. I didn’t think I could like these warriors and this world more, but I was wrong. This one is even better than the first. Rory is a tortured soul, close to going completely dark, and to go back in time to bring closure to all that haunts him, when the woman he loved had been burned at the stake, but when he returns, he finds the timeline slightly altered, and even though he’s not allowed to change the past or it could mean death, he decides to save the woman he loves. This book is riveting, and even the secondary warriors are back and the main hero and heroine are perfectly cast for each other. The action sequences and the character interaction is spot on, and I had a hard time putting this one down. Reviewed by Cyrene
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Lightning Blade D.N. Erikson Urban Fantasy
Ruby Callaway just cut a deal with the FBI. Kill a necromancer, she gets her freedom. Simple. Except for one small problem. The day’s caught in an endless time loop. And if Ruby can’t find out why, she’ll never experience tomorrow. Uncaged Review: First of all, this book should not be read, before you read the novella that is free on the author’s website. I did not – because it was mentioned at the end of the book, and it would have been helpful, as the reader does not get a good background on Ruby in this book, so it’s a whole lot of confusing as to her plight. I liked the unique time loop, but it got a little overdone – even with the alternate endings. It seemed Ruby only remembered the loops and had to catch Roark up every time. There are some plot holes that didn’t pan out, and hopefully those will be addressed in the upcoming books and the male lead in this story is not all that likable with a wooden personality. The fact that the book ends on a cliffhanger is another sour point, but the full trilogy is out, so the reader can at least move on right away. Reviewed by Cyrene
The Storm Within
Cerian Hebert Paranormal Romance Healed from her own loss, Juliana Hopkins wants nothing more than to mend reclusive artist Aidan Byrne’s heart, and help close a chapter in his life that has haunted him for over twenty years. Risking their newfound love, Juliana is determined to release the ghosts he can’t let go. Aidan has been in love with Juliana since the first moment he saw her, but if she can’t leave the tragedies of his past alone, he won’t be able to make a life with her.
Uncaged Review: This was another of the lovely Soulmate tree series. In this book, Julianna Hopkin’s spouse, Todd has died. She misses him being with her, believing him to have been her perfect love. To deal with her feelings, she goes for a walk to enjoy the fall weather. Getting tired, she sits to rest under a tree where she talks to her dead husband who tells her to move on with her life. He encourages her to do what she loves (which is cooking) and to find another true love. She falls asleep in the early evening, only to awaken to find her hermit neighbor, Aiden Byrne is there with his dog. When she says she is alright, he leaves her to return home alone. She leaves the newspaper where she worked and starts up a catering business which is doing well. The weather turned from fall into winter. A winter storm leaves her without electric and stranded in her home as the ice and snow makes the roads dangerous and bringing down powerlines. She hears a crash from the road as the weather continues to deteriorate. When she investigates, it’s Aiden with his dog, having gone into a slide with his truck while on the way home, ending up in the ditch at the end of her driveway. She invites him to stay with her until the storm is over and he can get home safely. During their time together, they get to know each other. It isn’t until she sees his medallion of the tree she had rested under while talking to Todd, and hears the legend attached to it, Julianna realizes there may
be something to the legend. She discovers he refuses to get close to anyone for fear of letting them down like he did his brother and sister, who were twins and believes died in the orphanage fire where he had left them. He used his gift for painting to keep his emotions under control after being told they were dead. He allowed the owner of an art gallery to make him famous, but all he wants is to be left alone to live his life in peace. He does believe fate brought them together but doesn’t know why. There is a twist in this story, which I’ll leave for you to discover, as the story behind both Julianna and Aiden is revealed. This was an engaging book which has you rooting for Julianna and Aiden to have a happily ever after. I give it 5 stars. It was a great read which kept you turning the pages to see how it all would come together. Reviewed by Barbara
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Uncaged Reviews Gravestones & Wicked Bones Miers & Knox Urban Fantasy
My sisters and I weren’t born with magic. No, we were forced into it. Betrayed into it by the one person who was supposed to protect us. Now we’re living in a shithole desert town at the mercy of a sexy-as-hell Fae named Bastian. Uncaged Review: This is the start of a series, and as a voracious reader of urban fantasy, I was well captivated by this story. Ivy is a kick-ass heroine that was basically a human until her mother traded her daughters for power to a powerful fae, Bastian – who remade them with magic and powers of their own. And now Ivy is under his command, to keep her sisters safe, she will have to do as Bastian commands. But when she is sent out to retrieve a vial of blood from a part demon, Dante – the story takes some twists and turns. Although it starts out pretty typical of this genre, the authors do a good job with some extra twists. The chemistry between all the characters is well done and you will even be captivated by the over confident Bastian eventually. I wish there was a better understanding on what Ivy’s full powers are and how Bastian “made her”it’s just barely touched on and is never completely flushed out in this book, I’m hoping it will be in future books which I do intend to read. Reviewed by Cyrene
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Isobel Blackthorn Psychological Thriller
A regular Sunday night in a Las Vegas strip club is rocked when a local oddball dies mysteriously, during his private dance. Amber falls immediately in lust with the hot paramedic who arrives, and follows him outside, anticipating sizzling romance. But, her casual encounter quickly descends into a terrifying, twisted nightmare from which she is unable to escape. Uncaged Review: Set in Las Vegas in one of the more classy strip joints. A dancer turns detective after one of there more regular customers drops dead. I really enjoyed this book as it give me a inside look into the dancers and what they put up with. Also this book was very funny and has a lot of twists. Reviewed by Jennifer
Full Moon Howl
Seven Hot Nights in Greece
Mystery. Malice. Revenge. Broken bodies and bloody messages are appearing in the darkest corners of New York City. Infected werewolves are roaming the streets attacking innocents.
Emma saw him once, and that was it.
Orlando A. Sanchez Urban Fantasy
The Dark Council demands answers. They summon Simon and Tristan to investigate. The evidence points to the work of a powerful mage, unfortunately, there is only one mage in the city powerful enough to cause this kind of infection-Tristan Montague. Uncaged Review: This series is getting better - if that’s even possible. Simon and Tristan are back, with Hellhound, Peaches in tow. Werewolves are going rabid, and killing innocent people. On top of it all, something is wrong with Tristan and he may be going “dark.” Simon has to get help from another powerful mage that could put his immortal life in danger. The fun, the action, the witty dialog and even a great supporting cast pack the pages of this urban fantasy, and this is an author that has moved high on my list of “authors not to miss.” When I finished this book, I went straight to Amazon and downloaded book three and I can’t wait to hurry back to this world. Reviewed by Cyrene
Rose Lange Contemporary Romance
Patrick was the boy next door, and it didn’t take long for her to fall in love with him. Even if it didn’t make sense, she loved him, and giving him her body, heart, and soul was never a second thought. She loved him despite the pain and heartache he’d caused after their week-long fling in college.
Uncaged Review: This is a story line that has been done so many times, that they seem to run together and are very predictable. This one is no different. A week long sexy fling in Greece, and afterward, well, what happens in Greece stays in Greece? Until Patrick shows up as a new hire at Emma’s job and of course he is assigned to work with her. Boy meets girl, boy gets girl, boy is afraid of commitment.. And I will say, that although there weren’t any surprises here for me, I did enjoy the story well enough. It’s an easy read for contemporary romance readers and it was a nice interlude and the author gave the two main characters plenty of chemistry. Reviewed by Cyrene
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Fang-Freakin-Tastic Reviews Charming Chris Leite YA/Thriller After getting dumped and publicly humiliated by her boyfriend on her birthday, Ashley begins to hear a voice in her head, and gets haunted in the mirror by an incendiary reflection that convinces her to hold her ex hostage, while Ashley torments his new girlfriend. The innocent girl fights back and tries to save her man, but doesn’t realize that she’s walking straight into a trap, she’s just a puppet in Ashley’s hand.
CHARMING is a YA/thriller about a hopeless romantic kidnapping her ex, and actively making his new girlfriend’s life a living hell. It takes place in high school, but it’s a story about us all.
Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: This book is definitely something different. I mean that in the best possible way. This is the 3rd or 4th book I’ve read by this author and I have yet to be disappointed. His books are some of the most creative and unusual books I think I’ve read. Charming is relatable in a different sort of way. We all experienced growing up and high school relationship angst. We dealt with cliques and drama and all that stuff we couldn’t wait to get away from once we became adults. Charming deals with all of those things on a different level but it still represents the core things most of us hated as teenagers. Ashley is the pretty, popular girl we all loved to hate. And she’s a bit psycho, like most teen girls. In a way this book reminded me of the movie “Mean Girls” but much better. And much more violent. I actually loved the violence in this book as well as the music references throughout. Overall this is another great book by this up and coming author. It grabs your attention straight away and doesn’t let go until the very end. Definitely worth reading.
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Dead Jolly Boone Brux Fantasy Satire The holidays are here, and I’m up to my eyeballs in Christmas spirit—or should I say “spirits”. Life is like that now that I’m a grim reaper. My holidays gets an extra helping of festive weirdness when the Casanova of mall Santas kicks the bucket. Instead of crossing over, he sets out to spread his own special brand of Christmas magic to a number of single ladies in town. I’ll admit, as a widow I’m hesitant to stop him from gifting his Christmas miracle, but as a reaper, it’s my job to pack his yule log and jingle bells off to the netherworld. After all, everybody knows Santa is only supposed to come once a year.
Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: Dead Jolly is a super short read full of holiday reaper madness. Once again, Carron is sent to reap someone who dies a stupid death, but this time it’s the jolly old fat man himself, Santa. Or should I say Fred, who plays a local Santa and likes the ladies. Santa Fred is none to keen on being reaped. He’s convinced he has unfinished business and believes his little black book has the answers. Santa Fred has been making visits to quite a few of the local single grandmothers in town, spread his holiday…cheer. As with each book in this series, it’s pretty funny. This author has an amazing sense of humor that really shines in her storytelling. I have yet to find a book in this series I didn’t thoroughly enjoy. The only vaguely negative thing I can say is that it’s too short, but that’s just me being selfish. Every book in this series makes me want to keep reading even after the story has ended. This was a highly enjoyable read and I definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a quick escape from the stress of the holidays. Even if you haven’t read the other books, I don’t think you would be too lost if you read this one first.
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Fang-Freakin-Tastic Reviews The Crandall Haunting A.H. Gilbert Horror/Thriller The Crandall Haunting is a gripping ghost story of murder and revenge. When his daughter unexpectedly comes to stay, Emerson must accept a job he hates to keep them both afloat. His new role as a project manager for a new resort casino might seem glitzy, but the people with whom he works are strange and sometimes dangerous. Not to mention the appealing, but forbidden, woman who is determined to ruin them. But it’s that other something -- seeming to lurk nearby -- that is really scary. As he tries to overcome perils caused both by those living and those unseen and unknown, can Emerson escape the course of destiny, or will he and his daughter become the victims of a murdered woman’s vengeance?
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Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: The Crandall Haunting is a different kind of story. I mean, it’s not totally unusual, but it had a very different feel to me for some reason. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is that made it feel so different, but it just did. The way A.H. Gilbert crafted the setting of this story was quite impressive. I was easily able to picture each scene in full, which definitely increases the enjoyment of the story. The characters were well developed and interesting. The storyline was interesting and exciting and was able to keep my attention. Once I started reading this book, I couldn’t put it down. I know some people may have found it boring, but for me, it was just what I needed. I recommend this book to anyone looking for and excitingly creepy story full of twists and turns.
Ride or Die Cee Cee Riley Romantic Suspense ‘We would blow up this world and create something beautiful in its ruins’ Jesse & Laney 1985 We were each survivors of our upbringing: lost, unloved and afraid. But like moths to a flame, we couldn’t stay apart. We loved. We lost. We fought. We cried. And then we shattered each other’s hearts. Jesse was a hard man: a biker outlaw for the Devil’s Highwaymen MC. I was Laney: the daughter of a dead mother and a father that didn’t know or want me. We were doomed right from the start. But this was our romance. And this was our disaster. And hopefully, this would be our second chance. Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: Romance is most definitely NOT my preferred genre. I prefer monsters and violence over love in my books. Sex scenes tend to lose my attention quickly. All that negativity being said, I am happy to be able to say I enjoyed Ride or Die.
welcome. I’m also not a fan of motorcycle books. They tend to hold no interest for me. You’re probably wondering why I even bothered reading it if I have no interest in the two main things in the book. Well, the answer to that is Riley’s Odium series. There is a crossing over of the two series and I wanted to know more about this side of the world. Due to my inexperience in the Motorcycle Club Romance genre, I can only tell you about my own understandings of how things work within that world. Women aren’t always treated with respect. The men are hard and piggy. I liked how Ride or Die takes us on the journey from when Jesse was just a wee little thing to an adult. I felt like I knew him more as a person than just as a flat character. It helped me understand who he was. As the story went on, I felt the family connection between these characters. Not family by blood but by choice. Which, growing up as a Marine Corps brat, I understand the feeling of having families of the heart instead of families of the blood. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and look forward to reading the next in the series. I want to see what will happen in the world of The Devil’s Highwaymen. I’m glad I took a chance on Ride or Die.
Ride or Die was able to keep my attention, unlike most other romancey books have in the past. I’m not sure if it’s the characters, their story, or the way Riley tells the story, but whatever it was worked. You can probably tell by the title and synopsis this is a motorcycle club romance book. If not, you’re
Issue 30 | January 2019 |
Myra’s Horror Blog Reviews
Quintana Roo Gary Brandner Horror It is a living hell: murderous Mayans . . . reptiles that kill on contact . . . creatures more deadly than crocodiles. No man has ever come back alive from Quintana Roo. John Hooker is hired by beautiful, sexy Connie Braithwaite to discover the whereabouts of her billionaire husband, Nolan, who vanished a year before on an expedition into the Yucatan. Myra’s Review: Brandner does an excellent job of introducing readers to a myriad of interesting characters. Hooker, the hero, is a multifaceted man; content with his quiet life in Mexico, but the jobs he takes on for rich tourists can be risky. Alita is his Mexican lover, a lovely, sweet woman, who we later discover is also resourceful and tough. Connie Braithwaite is a rich socialite, with layers that develop as the story unfolds and life becomes terrifying. Buzz is a long-time friend, missing since the previous year. Connie convinces Hooker to take on a danger filled search for her husband, Nolan, who was lost with Buzz in a suspected plane crash over the jungle. Hooker doesn’t think anything can convince him to trek into Quintana Roo, with rumors rife of 84 | UncagedBooks.com
cannibals and deadly animals, as well as natives. Mrs. Braithwaite tempted him with a huge bounty, but it was the thoughts of his friend Buzz that won him over. Could he still be alive? An acquaintance flies the small team into a tiny airport near the jungle. Alita follows Hooker and only with her invaluable knowledge of the local Indian dialect were they able to find men to help. He trusts neither man but had no choice since no one else would venture into that part of the jungle. Hooker reluctantly agrees to let his girlfriend accompany them, since her language skills will probably come in handy. Miraculously, they stumble upon part of the plane wreckage, and then Buzz. He is not in great shape, having lost a foot in the crash. But a local tribe nursed his wounds and fixed him up with a primitive wooden foot. Buzz doesn’t know if Nolan is still alive, but says that he was taken into the Indian city. Things escalate after that; with mysterious, dark rites uncovered about the Mayans, turning people into Muerateros; a kind of zombie. The group escapes being turned into the undead and make it to the coast, where they find Germans (WW II era setting) are setting up a base. Also, that the Indians are working in cooperation with them. About to be shot by the Nazi leader, whose identity is shocking to Hooker, rescue comes from an unexpected source. No clues, I don’t want to spoil the surprise. I almost clapped because it was a cool ending. The author pulls you into the story with well-devel-
oped characters and interesting, exotic locations. My only negative is that the meat of the story started half way through the novel and I like to sink my teeth into the action early. Recommended for those who love mystery along with their horror, and Gary Brandner fans.
Waiting Out Winter Kelli Owen Horror Nick and the boys return from the summer’s last hunting trip to find the streets empty, the beachfront and park abandoned, and the windows of their own homes boarded shut. The hunters have become the hunted, in an apocalyptic plague that pits man against beast--very tiny beasts. And Nick is determined to keep his strength, courage and family alive during what could very well be the last winter of their lives.
infested with a deadly plague. Nick sets about making things more secure for his family. Life is hard; you can’t go outside unless your skin is fully protected. Near the end of the story, Nick decides it is time to move. The winter is ending and soon the flies will reappear. He comes up with a brilliant idea – move North in the RV during the summer and back to milder climes, but still cold, during the winter. I am hopeful these brave characters can make things work in their favor. A creepy tale, worthy for those who love an apocalyptic story that is different, and fans of insect foes. Note: The narration of millions of worm carcasses along the roadside, plus the stink, was really gross in the beginning…and totally cool for a horror story. Then add in the descriptions of the truck running over tent worms and the sound – yuck! I was confused at first though. I thought perhaps the plague had started, but then quickly find out these circumstances are not abnormal, other than there many more worms then normal. I haven’t lived in an area where such situations existed. A note at the beginning of the story would be helpful for those of us who are not used to this environment as commonplace.
Myra’s Review: Nick and his friends are returning home from a long hunting trip and stop at a convenience store. The old man they encounter is covered in sores, foreshadowing what is to come. Then they find a woman and child inside swathed head-to-toe in heavy clothing. Since the temp is hot, that is very weird. The streets are empty. They see mangy, sick looking dogs and cats, which clearly are pets, not feral. Nick’s house is boarded up and his family inside terrified. Unbeknownst to he and his friends, a plague has struck, killing many people. The carriers are biting black flies, released by the government to eat the larvae of the rampant tent worms. Except the flies are Issue 30 | January 2019 |
Myra’s Horror Blog Reviews As the World Dies Rhiannon Frater Horror
Deep in the Texas Hill Country, a man and his little dog takes refuge in a bed and breakfast located in the hills above a doomed town where an infested rescue center might unleash the hungry
Myra’s Review: In The First Days novel, we were introduced to several characters, but didn’t get a lot of info about their backgrounds. Frater fans wanted more, so As the World Dies was born. This “side story” is a collection of short stories that gives readers the back story on Lydia, Monica and Eric. Katie is an important character in The Last Days, and in this anthology we discover how her wife Lydia died when the outbreak occurred. Monica is a supporting character in the novel, and her ironic escape when the zombies rise was interesting. My favorite character in As the World Dies is Eric, and not just because the author spends more time on his story. He is a brainy nerd, who has attained wealth and a beautiful model girlfriend, Brandy. As the undead awaken, Eric is ensconced in an isolated B & B with his lover. It doesn’t take long for Eric’s peace to be disrupted; facing zombies, including Brandy. He must quickly learn how to survive and defend himself. His canine companion, Pepe, is an adorable Russell Terrier. His behavior is so similar to my dog it gave the story a very real sense of reality. Eric’s safe haven is shattered when he helps 86 | UncagedBooks.com
several people running from a horde. He, Stacey and her brother Sean, escape on an ATV Eric parked by the house as a Plan B. In fact, I admired the way Eric thought through everything and made plans in case he had to leave. They head toward Ashley Oaks, a fortified town. Eric had been conversing by email with a representative of the town while at the B & B. Sadly, Sean was bitten and he has to be killed. When Eric and Stacey see the constructed fence surrounding the town swamped by zombies, they decide to seek temporary safety atop a water tower nearby and wait for rescue. Luckily, Eric put “HELP” in large letters, using duct tape, on the water tank. They are rescued by a team from the town, and feel comfortable around the new people. Eric and Stacey like their new home and their relationship finally takes the next step past friendship. I really liked that Eric realized Brandy’s type of love wasn’t good, that Stacey was beautiful inside and out, with no need for makeup or fancy hairdos. Recommended for fans of The First Days, Rhiannon Frater and zombie readers.
Zombie Road IV David A. Simpson Horror The world is recovering from a near extinction level event. Fortified enclaves and barricaded towns have managed to survive the long winter. Spring brings new hope and new beginnings. One boy, thrust too quickly into manhood, is learning to find his way in the new wastelands. With hopped up machines and purpose built muscle cars to run the roads, a new breed of pony express rider is born. The Road Angel.
Myra’s Review: While Most of the novel focuses on Jessie, the Road Angel, other characters are interwoven as well. A new threat grows in the North – Scarlet’s dad has started a unique religion, claiming he is the divine conduit for the ancient Egyptian God Anubis. Scarlet is the young woman who gave Jessie a shot in Book 3 that kept him alive. Unbeknownst to Jessie, he was given an earlier version of the super soldier cocktail. He has grown stronger, faster, heals quickly and even his hearing is amazing. But Jessie fears being seen as a freak and hides his abilities from others. He is anxious to get back on the road, with his mission to help survivors. He is happy when Lakota offers him the job of emissary; to search for new camps, see how people are doing, and set up trade if they wish. A poignant scene was Jessie’s encounter with his first lover, an older, attractive woman. It was sweet; a coming-of-age scenario, but also sad. Jessie cannot be convinced he doesn’t look like a freak with the scar running down his face. A time which should have been filled with wonder, was fraught with his awkward fear. Jessie meets a large group of people who had a good set up, at least at first glance. They have a secure compound, many guns and packaged food, plus canned goods. But he realizes they were not rebuilding, not even replanting crops. He convinces them that they need to take the town nearby from the zombies, then they can gather any supplies such as seeds and gar-
dening equipment that they can use to rebuild. These people had not ventured outside the fence since the outbreak, and had no clue how to survive against the undead. The Road Angel taught them. Later, Jessie runs across an interesting group, securely set up in a self-sustained, high-tech building. These folks had everything from solar power and computers, to gardens on the roof top. The CEO had no use for Lakota’s offer of help or trading. But Captain Macon, head of security, felt differently. He realizes that Casey’s Raiders could cause them problems, perhaps even invade their safe space. Meanwhile, Casey the Cannibal established a home base in a resort in Mexico. His men continue to murder, rape and recruit. Knowing their future is not secure with Casey alive, Gunny and his crew are determined to hunt and kill Casey and his Raiders. These savages victimized too many of the scattered survivors - people who didn’t deserve this new terror. Plus, Gunny knows eventually Casey will try to take Lakota. While hunting down the Raiders, Gunny and his men get into several confrontations with them and rescue survivors. It is non-stop action, heroics and angst as the characters push forward against seemingly insurmountable odds. Concurrently, Scarlet’s dad, who is based in Canada, sends her out to scout the U.S. compounds. He wants to know locations of survivors and how fortified they are against attack. She runs across Jessie again and begins following him. Scarlet is intrigued by his helping others and wonders if she can talk him into joining their cult movement. Near the end she is ambushed by Raiders, captured and badly injured. Jessie rescues her. After a while they begin to interact like teenagers, telling each other dumb jokes and having a good time. I am hopeful that in the next book Jessie and Scarlet become friends. I hope that Scarlet leaves her father’s cult, which she often questions internally. Recommended for zombie fans and those following the Zombie Road adventures.
Issue 30 | January 2019 |
Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews Hidden Colours Nillu Nasser Contemporary
The Great Red Horse Robbery Will Mayo Shorts
When Yusuf fled Syria, he lost everything. Now the circus, with its middle-eastern flair, is the only home he knows. When the lights go on, the refugees dazzle their audience, but off-stage tensions flare.
Will Mayo is a man who writes against the coming of the night.
Amy’s Review: Wonderful Story Hidden Colours is a wonderful story that is very heart felt. I’ve read a previous work of Nasser and I wasn’t disappointed in this one either. It’s a great story that keeps the reader engaged with brilliant characters. Nasser brings culture and wondrous colors into an exciting page-turner. I highly recommend this story to anyone who loves a journey of life, love and humanity. Yusuf is a remarkable character and brings the characters to life. I look forward to reading more by this author.
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Amy’s Review: A unique collection of thoughts I enjoyed reading Mayo’s collection of thoughts with The Great Red Horse Robbery And Other Tales Of The Imagination. As I started reading, I came across the line, “And by the way that’s a marvelous mind you’ve got on your shoulders.” I chuckled to myself, reread “Bodies, Minds, All Sorts Of Things, Really” and continued on. Mayo takes the reader on his processing of thoughts and how it comes together. A unique collection of some interesting thoughts and ideas. Wonderfully executed and shared with the reader.
The Devil’s Playground Alice J. Black Paranormal/Horror “A dark, twisting nightmarish horror that takes place in the mind of a man who can’t wake up.” As Jake prepares for his wedding to the woman of his dreams, he never suspects his last night as a single man would lead to being locked up in Hell… Welcome to The Devil’s Playground Amy’s Review: Very intense The book intrigued me when this book was nominated Best Indie Titles of 2018 awards on my author blog, and the author was nice enough to share the story with me for a review. This is the first book of Black’s that I’ve read, but I hope it won’t be my last. Black’s The Devil’s playground is an intense and deep story that brings the audience in the nightmares of its character, Jake. It was a great story, with deep characters. The nightmares seemed to also be part of the characters, with vivid horrifying details that are intertwined with monsters and demons. I enjoyed this story and I look forward to reading more by this author.
Northfighters Colm Dowd YA/Fantasy Twelve year old Chris Talbot is the like-able protagonist, with his nerdy friend Josh, his bully nemesis Mike, and his heart’s desire Sylvia. All four of them end up avoiding near death on their school trip near Seattle. They are being pursued by ghoulish monsters that have been sent after them by the charismatic yet maniacal super villain Salazon. Amy’s Review: A wonderfully Magical story O’Dowd pens a wonderfully magical story in Northfighters - The View From the Christallis. It’s not the standard fantasy story, and I hope there isn’t really a standard. It’s how the author’s imagination unwinds and becomes this wonderful adventure filled with fantastical creatures and magic. Sure, this story may be intended for young adults, but it is a definite enjoyment by this reader (and yes, I’m no longer a young adult). O’Dowd has a way with words, and I was first introduced to the lyrical words from O’Dowd’s music, and O’Dowd’s talent for putting words together into something that becomes an adventure definitely carries over to the story. One can only hope that more stories (as well as music) are just waiting to come out of O’Dowd’s mind and be shared with all of us.
Issue 30 | January 2019 |
Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews The Day of the Martians H.E. Wilburson SciFi/Horror Audiobook The Day of the Martians: The War of the Worlds audio drama sequel. Martian Tripods return to Earth In Volume 1 Of The Martian Diaries.
Amy’s Review: A story worth listening to I had the privilege of listening to Wilburson’s The Day of the Martians. It’s a story that viewed as a sequel to the H.G Well’s War of the Worlds, and I found it very intense and entertaining. I’m sure that there is a different vibe to the story when listening as opposed to reading, and it does depend on how it’s put together. This story has a way to bring the reader in. The Martians come to life and to earth, the story is filled with twists and suspense. There is a lot of detail with Wilburson’s writing, and it details the talent of the writer and narrator. I look forward to reading (or listening to) more by this new author.
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Indian Paintbrush John A. Heldt Time Travel Arizona, December 1943. After surviving perilous six-month journeys to 1889 and 1918, the Carsons, five siblings from the present day, seek a respite in their home state. While Adam and Greg settle down with their Progressive Era brides, Natalie and Caitlin start romances with wartime aviators and Cody befriends a Japanese family in an internment camp. The time travelers regroup, bury some ghosts, and continue their search for their missing parents. Then old problems return, new ones emerge, and a peaceful hiatus becomes a race for survival. Amy’s Review: A great read Heldt always pens a great time-traveling story, and Indian Paintbrush is no different. There is great pleasure in reading his work and wondering where time will take this reader to, and that’s not the half of it. It’s always a wonder and enjoyment to find out how they get to the past, and how they get back. I really like any work I’ve read from Heldt. The characters are well-developed with a lot of depth, and I like that it’s a lot of dialogue. The Carson siblings are leading this great story, traveling to different eras, and the story is told in different point of views. I like this story and will always read what comes next in this series or whatever else Heldt has to offer.
Lost Souls Anne Francis Scott Paranormal Suspense SLEEP IS NO CURE FOR A NIGHTMARE After reeling from the backlash of decades-old murders, the residents of Dawson Mills, Tennessee are more than ready to put the nightmare behind them. But Toni Harper, a reporter for the local paper, knows the trouble is just beginning. When the bodies of two men are found at the edge of the woods, their faces impossibly twisted, and mouths wide open on a scream, she believes the sheriff’s men have missed a crucial piece of evidence. A simple revelation coiled up right under their noses, waiting for lightning to strike. Amy’s Review: Thrilling with the right amount of chills I’ve read Scott’s Lost Girl, and liked it very much. Scott’s Lost Souls brings the reader back to Dawson Mills. This time, the story revolves around Toni. This is full of twists and mystery as there is also something sinister and chilling looming. I liked both books, but I think this is my favorite so far in this trilogy. Scott pens a magnificent story, and brings it to life. This is one of those you can’t put down until the end. I look forward to whatever comes next in this trilogy.
Olivia’s Promise Diane Merrill Wigginton Historical Paranormal Romance How far would you go to save your best friend from a fate worse than death? Olivia Townsend is willing to do whatever it takes to save Lilly from just such a fate.
Amy’s Review: Absolutely meaningful! Wigginton pens a great, no scratch that, an amazing story with Olivia’s Promise. I was captivated by this story from the moment I read the first few words. Fans of historical romance will definitely not be disappointed, as this story fits not only within the genre, but also as being third in this Jeweled Dagger series. Olivia states from the beginning, “I grew up knowing that I was different from other children and why I was born this way, but it didn’t make the shunning by the other girls my age any easier.” It brings to light that shunning happened at any era, at any age, and this story brings to light the power of Olivia’s gift. She is on a journey to find out what happened to her friend. It’s another amazing story, with grand characters that may relate or don’t relate to the existing culture of place and time, but fit in nonetheless. I look forward to seeing what more this author can offer the readers.
Issue 30 | January 2019 |
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