ISSUE 65 | May/June 2022
note fr o m the e d it o r
ay/June 2022 The weather hasn’t improved a lot in the upper midwest. We are just now finally coming out of the 40’s. My plans are not to remain in this area for the rest of my life, but to go south eventually. I guess I’m one of those people that have seen enough of snow and cold weather to last me a lifetime. Right now, we’ve had five and a half months of bad weather. Being very much an outside person, it’s not the most desirable area. I’ll keep you posted as time goes on. Hopefully, my outside adventures will bring back “Life on the Farm” column. Stay tuned! We will be continuing with the “Buy 2, Get 1” promotion we’ve been running, with some changes for 2022. The promotion will only be for Full Page Ads, so if you buy 2, you will get one free. No other advertising will be eligible. With the issues selling out advertising more frequently, this gives more opportunities for all in advertising in the magazine. It really does help from a marketing standpoint, to have an advertisment run three months in a row - to repeat in the readers mind. You don’t just see a commercial on TV one time and remember it, right? So we will continue to try and provide the best bang for your buck and get the most eyes we can on your work. If you’d like to be a Feature Author, you can also fill out a form on the Reviews/Feature Info Page to request a Feature in 2021. Put in your top 3 choices and this is normally first come/first serve, but I do move around months to keep a good selection of genres in each issue. Soon I will also put up forms for Catch Up Features - these are for past feature authors that have a new book releasing, and we can do a shorter feature, and also a Short Story Submission form. Any author submitting an approved short story receives a full page ad in the same issue. The new form for Short Story Submissions has been added, and a Catch Up form will come next. Enjoy the May/June 2022 issue of Uncaged Book Reviews. Stay safe and healthy.
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contents FEATUREauthors 16
Tan Van Huizen
Joseph J. Swope
contemporary western romance
Dr. Teresa Cody alternative medicine/self-help
Issue 65 | May/June 2022 authors and their pets Feature Authors introduce you to 70 Uncaged’s their devoted writing buddies, and the devotion goes both ways.
Jen L. Grey shifter romance
Teruf Wisdom of Light young adult fantasy
Mark James Foster
Dandelions Are Me poetry
The Little Things young adult fiction
In Memory of You inspirational anthology
Rodney Martin II
GUESTcolumns Follow Your Dreams 58 Richard H. Stephens
Reviews Matter Amy Shannon
SHOWcase 34 50 58 80 88 100 106 118 126 132
4 7 144 154 158
Robin Hosking Melanie Egunza A’Johnna White Beatrice Cayzer Don Vining Richard Sills Richard Klein Joyce McLean Dr. Zuvarashe Mushipe Bill & Phyllis Kerschner
Note from the Editor Contributors|Partnerships Uncaged Reviews FangFreakinTastic Reviews Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews
Uncaged on Instagram
Intentional Blindness Pat Daily
Issue 65 | May/June 2022 |
Contributors | Partnerships
Follow Uncaged on Facebook
Paranormal lover’s rejoice. Uncaged review contributors.
Issue 65 | May/June 2022 |
upcomingconventions Uncaged will watch for any cancelations or modifications for the 2022 season. Please watch their websites for information as the dates get closer.
Lori Foster’s Reader & Author Get Together (RAGT) June 9–11, 2022; Cincinnati, OH http://readerauthorgettogether.com/
Book Bonanza July 8–9, 2022; Grapevine, TX https://bookbonanzaevent.com/
Lust in the Lowcountry Romancecon June 10–11, 2022; Charleston, SC http://www.litlowcountry.com/ Literary Love Savannah July 20–24, 2022; Savannah, GA https://www.facebook.com/literarylovesavannah/
Wild Deadwood Reads June 18, 2022; Deadwood, SD http://wilddeadwoodreads.com/
Sexy and Sassy Signing: Sinful Fairy Tales July 28–31, 2022; Norfolk, VA
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Ta n Va n Huizen
Joseph J. Swope
horror | fantasy
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hris Burns writes under his pen name, Tan Van Huizen. Van Huizen is a phonetic variation of the name “Van Husum” his 8th times great-grandfather’s name. Van Husum was a sailor for the Dutch West India Co., and the first of Tan’s maternal line to arrive in America, 1639. When Tan’s not writing, he enjoys researching family history, hiking, travel, driving “The Beast” his souped-up F-150 truck, and hanging out with his best friend and wife, Ann Stewart Burns. He and Ann live in Southeastern Massachusetts.
Uncaged welcomes Tan Van Huizen Welcome to Uncaged! Can you tell readers more about The Keepers that will be releasing May 19th? The Keepers is a work of fiction born from this question: How have the events of a town’s dark past continued to have influence over people and places in the present? The King Philip’s War, 1675, was per capita the bloodiest war in America’s history, which saw the rise of one people and the demise of another. Native American tribes, feared as godless pagans by the early settlers, were annihilated. Many believe that the spirits of those who died in the swamps and surrounding territories have haunted the area for over 300 years. The Keepers is the story that followed. What is the most difficult scenes for you to write? What is the easiest? I think the most difficult scene to write is one involving female characters, specifically younger ones who are caught up in boyfriends, cliques, and being popular. Gag me with a spoon. My favorite and perhaps easiest scene to write, proba-
bly because I enjoy it, are about deeply trouble characters facing moral dilemmas that test their strength, often times failing and the consequences thereafter. I enjoy diving into the base motivations of people and the scenes that ensue. Do you have a favorite character you’ve written? Has there been a character that’s been hard to write about? Like being asked who your favorite child is? But seriously, I think my favorite character in The Keepers is Chief of Police, Elias Hicks. He is motivated by a biblical sense of purpose, and by the oath he and The Keepers swore: to appease the warring spirits in the realm of the dead and to protect God’s faithful. He believes God is watching and testing his resolve to keep the faith, but his modus operandi would be considered by most readers, pure evil. The hardest character to write about is when a dog or pet of some kind is suffering. I don’t really have any taboo subjects that I wouldn’t write about, if the subject matter was not gratuitous and it is essential to the story, but if I did have a rule, it would be not to injure or neglect an animal. It’s hard to write a Issue 65 | May/June 2022 | 15
scene where a family pet or animal of any kind is suffering. How do you come up with the title to your books? Organically, is the answer I think, and not until the book is nearing finish or finished does a title pop in my head. It kind of just appears. Because I generally have no idea where the story is going, if I did think of a title at the beginning, it would change perhaps a hundred times by the end. No kidding. What behind-the-scenes tidbit in your life would probably surprise your readers the most? I love comedic movies as much as I love horror and suspense. I thoroughly enjoy movies like, There’s Something About Mary and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, as much as I love The Shining or The Silence of the Lambs. Also, they might be surprised to learn that I didn’t take any interest in writing until I was in my mid-forties. Which comes first, the plot or the characters in the planning stages? The first thing to come is a flash of an idea or a question of some kind. Then character(s) are born to address the question. I sort of listen and write what the character(s) would do next. What follows is a story that I never quite know where it’s going.
For the last 10 years I have been reading e-books. Because of the convenience of having your whole library with you, and the ability to read in the dark with the perfect back light is great. I just picked up, Where the Crawdads Sing and for the umpteenth time, I’m reading 1984. My all-time favorite read. What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? The Keepers is my debut novel and I’m currently writing the sequel. If you’re a fan of provincial small towns and the secrets they possess, and if you like odd ball, peculiar characters, I think The Keepers is a story you would enjoy. I grew up in such a town in southeastern Massachusetts where the Hockomock Swamp was in our backyard. Some believe the Hockomock to be the nexus of paranormal disturbances found in the surrounding territories, and it serves as the setting and atmosphere in this story. Enjoy! If you would like to follow me or reach out to me, I spend most of my time on Twitter where I write poems and micro fiction to daily prompt words. Hope to see you there.
What are some things you like to do to relax when you aren’t writing or working? I enjoy hiking, riding my e-bike, listening to music, and binging Netflix with a large onion pizza. If you could have one all-year season, which would it be and why? Autumn in New England. There’s nothing quite like it. The temperatures cool and the colors are spectacular. Do you prefer ebooks, audiobooks or physical books? Are you reading anything now? Issue 65 | May/June 2022 |
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Enjoy an excerpt from The Keepers The Keepers Tan Van Huizen Horror/Thriller Releases May 19 Everyone in Titicut Township knew Carl Jenkins suffered from paranoid delusions, but what truly haunted him was far darker in nature. Whatever the small-town talk, only Carl and the shadow force of keepers (headed by Chief of Police, Elias Hicks) knew the truth. There is evil in the swamp-the place where spirits dwell. When outsider and city reporter, Don Williams, arrives to investigate a 1973 cold case involving Carl Jenkins and the disappearance of three men, Hicks knew time was running out. The secret order he swore to protect was under threat of exposure. As chief of police and head of The Keepers, his charge was two-fold: appease the warring spirits in the realm of the dead and protect the faithful against God’s adversary. Hicks ordered Titicut locked down and called a meeting beneath the old meeting house, but something went wrong. It was the first time in the order’s dark history a member would violate their oath of secrecy placing all within the township at risk. What only Hicks and the order knew is there were some secrets so grave, that if ever unearthed, not even God himself could save them. Excerpt CHAPTER 56 THE DOGS OF DOOM ARE HOWLING MORE 18 | UncagedBooks.com
Carl Jenkins woke before the alarm and stared listlessly at the ceiling. But for his eyes flitting along the exposed attic beams and drifting toward the gables, he remained lifeless as a corpse. It was a rarity on such nights, especially after heavy drinking, he would even stir in bed, and usually found himself comatose straight through the alarm; but tonight, he knew why he woke so early as his eyes settled on the rafters. They were here and there was no escape. The once-terrifying, dark shadows, the ones that came for him at night, were no longer feared as they once were. The long nights of hauntings and the foreshadowing of evils yet to come, were over. It was here, and it was now. There would be no escaping or hiding or negotiating. And even if there was a way out, Carl Jenkins no longer cared. He wanted it all to end. Like the sun rising in the east, or the force of gravity, or the immutable truth that all that lives must surely die, there were certain unbreakable scientific laws that governed the planet. There were also rogue laws that governed the underworld. As dark and incomprehensible as these laws may be, they exist and have always existed. They have cast their long shadow of condemnation since the beginning of time and have wielded enormous influence over mankind. And although not fully understood, the laws of demonic possession have been practiced over the millennia and were as sound today as Newton’s laws themselves: when the realm of darkness stakes a claim of ownership on a poor soul, a thousand holy men the world over are powerless to stop it. There are no miracles. There is no salvation. There are only immutable truths governing the realm of the living and the realm of the dead and the cheating of such truths are an impossibility. In the end, all that remains are unpaid debts and prayer offerings for the departed.
| TAN VAN HUIZEN | Carl lifted slowly and sat on the edge of the bed. His breathing was slow and deep, almost unconscious. As he looked blankly at the floor, a sense of amenable nonresistance took hold, melding with the thick cloud of despondency hanging over him. He lifted his head and peered through the blackening window. The moon’s light which had watched him to bed had been swallowed in a pit of darkness. As the creature’s enormous shadow came to settle over the house, he sat there quiet a moment in the heavy pitch and weighed his final thoughts.
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lajuanacraftryckeley.com Words from God LaJuana Craft Ryckeley Inspirational
Optimism doesn’t come easy to a lot of people. Especially if there seems to be no end in sight for the struggles they have been experiencing. But for some, these struggles seem to be the stepping stone to propel themselves to greater heights, all with the help of someone powerful—more pow-erful than anybody on earth. Words from God: Rising Out of the Ashes is a collection of poems of pains turned purpose. It is a showcase of how one can rise from the ashes and be of help and a beacon to others. The words in these poems are the inspiration and bringer of hope that all is not lost. That somehow, these struggles are the instruments toward one’s success.
What’s the hardest thing about being an author? Getting my work promoted! What is the best thing about being an author? Having the potential to help my readers deal with problems in their lives that are similar to those that I have experienced! What inspired you to write this book? My husband encouraged me to write it as a means of helping the readers deal with similar negative experiences in their lives. How would you describe your style of writing to someone that has never read your work? An autobiography in poetry. Do you feel that writing is an ingrained process or just something that flows naturally? I feel that it is ingrained in my mind by God and then it flows naturally when I respond to God’s leading. What is the take home lesson you wish your readers will learn after reading this book? That they need to allow God to help them survive negative experiences that they are suffering from in their lives. What books are currently in your to be read pile? Killing Kryptonite and Lands of the Bible Today. Anything you would like to say to your readers and fans? Hope my book will be pleasant to read and will encourage you to get to know God as your Lord & Savior so He can help you like He has leaped me!
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Joseph J. J
oseph J. Swope is an award-winning author, public relations professional, and photographer. Swope has studied Arthurian legends for most of his adult life and taught a university course on the subject. Dark Age Monarch: The Reign of King Arthur is his fifth book. Symbolic of his diverse interests (or very short attention span), each of his works represents a different genre. Swope’s other books include Pleasant Valley Lost, which documents the loss of his family’s historic dairy farm to a federal dam project; The Gift, a children’s book illustrated by Swope’s daughter, Chandra, focused on diabetes awareness; Disturbed, a ghost story set in the haunted Coal Region of Northeast Pennsylvania; and Where Magic and Science Collide, a fantasy/science fiction novel. Swope has worked nearly 40 years in both corporate and non-profit settings. He lives in Reading, Pennsylvania, and has seven children.
Uncaged welcomes Joseph J. Swope Welcome to Uncaged! Your newest book, Dark Age Monarch will release in June. Can you tell readers more about the book? Dark Age Monarch is a retelling of the Arthurian legend from a perspective that blends tradition with history. The typical picture of King Arthur is derived from the Romance literature of the Middle Ages. But if Arthur did indeed exist, he most likely lived much earlier, in the early 5th and 6th Century after the Roman exodus from Britain. Dark Age Monarch takes place in that more historically accurate setting but offers possible origins to what later became part of the Arthurian tradition, such as the great castle of Camelot and jousting armored knights practicing chivalry across the land. Most of the familiar characters of Arthur’s Court appear in the novel, but
perhaps not in the same way readers have seen them depicted elsewhere. What is the most difficult scene for you to write? What is the easiest? If King Arthur truly existed, he faced a constant threat of invasion from his enemies. The 9th Century monk, Nennius, for example, documented 12 battles Arthur fought against his enemies. That list did not include the Battle of Camlann, which marked the end of Arthur’s reign. Of course, all those battles were fought with swords, lances, and arrows as weapons. Providing a creative angle so that each battle is somewhat unique – and not too gruesomely violent – proved a challenge. Some of the easiest scenes to write involved those with Morgan Le Fay. She is the primary fantastic element of the story, an immortal non-human queen Issue 65 | May/June 2022 | 25
| FEATURE AUTHOR | dedicated to preserving the heritage of the Britons She is both commanding and witheringly sarcastic, a being who cannot comprehend why humanity cannot settle their differences in any way other than war. Whenever she appears, she takes over the scene. Do you have a favorite character you’ve written? Has there been a character that’s been hard to write about? My favorite character to depict in Dark Age Monarch is the knight Lamorak. In traditional Arthurian tradition, Lamorak is somewhat of a secondary character. In my rendition, Lamorak is an escaped African-American slave committed to defending the oppressed. He becomes a natural allly of Arthur and a fearsome warrior in the field. The character that presented the most challenge was probably Gwenhywfar. Even in traditional Arthurian literature, Arthur’s queen is an ambivalent character, sometimes depicted as tragic and flawed character, and by other authors as scheming and evil. I ultimately settled on a figure closer to the former than the latter. How do you come up with the title to your books? With my previous books, the titles came pretty readily. Pleasant Valley Lost, for example, documented the loss of my childhood home – a dairy farm dating back to the 1770s – to a federal dam project. The title purposely echoed the name of Milton’s great poem, Paradise Lost. Dark Age Monarch presented a different challenge altogether. There have been so many books, movies, and TV programs with an Arthurian theme that any number of titles have already been claimed. I went through about five titles until I found one that was unique and captured the spirit of the book. What behind-the-scenes tidbit in your life would probably surprise your readers the most? 26 | UncagedBooks.com
| JOSEPH J. SWOPE |
Issue 65 | May/June 2022 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR |
I worked my way through college as a chef at a local country club, and even though I haven’t worked in food service for many years, I am still very accomplished in the kitchen. Which comes first, the plot or the characters in the planning stages? I’m a plot first writer. Before I start writing, I typically have the first five and last five chapters outlined, with a fair idea of what comes in-between. As I write, I allow the middle of the story to grow organically. One thing I’ve discovered is that while I know my characters going in, they become much more multi-dimensional as I get to know them. My second draft is usually the one where my characters come fully to life. What are some things you like to do to relax when 28 | UncagedBooks.com
you aren’t writing or working? I have a lot of interests. Even in my 60s, I still play in a competitive senior softball league. I do quite a bit of photography. I’m a movie fan, having been a film critic for a number of years. Plus, I have seven kids – with my first grandchild on the way – so any spare time I may have is quickly claimed. If you could have one all-year season, which would it be and why? I’m from the Northeast, where the weather is miserable from November through March most years. Each year, I can’t wait for spring so I can get out of the house and become more active. Outside of having to cut the grass every couple of days, I’ll take spring over any season. Do you prefer ebooks, audiobooks or physical books?
Are you reading anything now? When it comes to reading, I’m old fashioned. I still like a book in my hand where I can page back or forward at my leisure. I still get a printed newspaper delivered to my house every day, so that should tell you everything you need to know. I’m a dying breed. What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? My fans have been very patient as I have explored a variety of genres in my books. I’ve gone from a personal memoir to a children’s book, to a ghost story set in the Coal Region, to a mash-up fantasy/science fiction novel. Dark Age Monarch bridges the genres of fantasy and historical fiction. So I would like to thank all my fans for their patience as I’ve traveled a sort of crooked literary road.
josephswope.com Enjoy an excerpt from Dark Age Monarch Dark Age Monarch Joseph J. Swope Fantasy Releases June 23 Arthurian tradition has followed two distinct paths. Medieval Romance depicts the spectacular capital of Camelot and a land of armored knights, jousts, and fantastical adventures. More recent
| JOSEPH J. SWOPE | researchers have focused on identifying the real King Arthur, if such a person existed, in the early days of the Dark Ages. Dark Age Monarch: The Reign of King Arthur blends the two strands together in an inventive re-telling that maintains elements of the traditional tale but set in a historical perspective – with a bit of magic thrown into the mix. Following the Roman exodus in the early 5th Century, Britain was fractured into petty fiefdoms that left the island vulnerable to foreign invaders. At a point where it appeared the Angles and Saxons would erase the British heritage, Arthur emerged as both a King and the Leader of Battles. His reign unified the land and preserved the Britons’ way of life long enough to be remembered throughout history Excerpt
The three soon arrived in Silchester, with Owain leading the way. They worked their way through the streets until they arrived at the clearing before Saint Mary the Virgin Church. There, a raucous disturbance had erupted as a result of the disappearance of the sword. Word had spread through the city quickly, and a great panic had ensued at this apparent act of treachery. Ector took one look at the scene, glanced at the sword he was now holding, and slapped his forehead with his free hand as he shook his head. He only now sensed the importance of the events unfolding before him. What has that Merlin gotten me into? he wondered. Upon seeing the three travelers, the guards and part of the crowd came toward Ector and his sons. Ector put up his hand at the crowd to quell their discontent. Issue 65 | May/June 2022 |
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“My son took this sword accidentally, not realizing its importance,” Ector said. “He will put it back now.” “Put it back?” the one guard screamed. “How did he pull it out in the first place? Only the true King of Britain can pull the sword from the anvil, not some farm boy serving as a squire.”
Owain walked up to the sword again, and using the same practiced movements done in a way imperceptible to onlookers, he pulled the sword from the anvil once more.
If he did not do so until then, Ector surely recognized the dilemma he now faced.
The crowd grew greater and greater and included some of those invited to the upcoming tournament. Owain was again directed to put the sword back into the anvil. Now, nobles from various lands across Britain attempted to extract the weapon, to no avail. Under closer scrutiny, they ordered Owain to remove the sword once more, and he did so. The mood turned darker as rumblings through the crowd questioned how a stable boy could do what none of the British kings appeared capable.
How could Owain have claimed the sword, unless . . . Ector pushed the thought from his mind. “I do not know the circumstances,” Ector said. “But he will return the sword to its proper place now.” Ector handed the sword to Owain, who walked deliberately to the anvil, and in one quick thrust, returned the weapon to its holder. The crowd immediately pushed him away, as one person after another of various standing tried to pull the sword from where it was placed. It did not budge. After a few minutes, the guards pushed the gathering crowd back and restored order to the scene. Finally, one guard stared at Owain again. “If you pulled the sword out before,” he growled, “I assume you can do it again.” Owain looked at the guard, unfazed by his gruff demeanor. “If you’d like,” he said confidently. “If I’d like?” the guard scoffed. “I would very much like to see what tomfoolery you have concocted.” 30 | UncagedBooks.com
Ector, viewing the scene in shock, fell to his knees. “Merlin,” he said to himself, “what have you done? You never prepared me for this!”
“What witchcraft is this?” a member of the crowd cried. “We are being deceived.” The guards and nobles descended on Owain with deep suspicion, when suddenly a strong and powerful voice emanated across the clearing. “Halt!” the voice boomed almost unnaturally through the crowd. “Make way, and I will shed light on what you witness.” The words reverberated across the landing, and the assembled crowd turned toward an aged, bearded man walking regally toward the scene, supported by his staff. The crowd opened a path for the figure to approach Owain and the sword in the anvil. A young noble stood in the man’s path, challenging his authority. “What do you know about what is going on here, old man?” Gawain, the eldest son of King Lot from the north, asked. The robed visitor regarded the robust young man
| JOSEPH J. SWOPE |
were compelled to listen with rapt attention.
“Do you not recognize me, Gawain?” he said. “I was there when you were still a babe sucking on my cousin’s teat. There are other stories I could relate before you learned to use the privy, but tell me you do not know who I am?”
“My son was Uther Pendragon,” Merlin continued. “Before Uther was killed in battle, he and Igraine gave birth to a son, a boy protected by myself and others as he grew into manhood. I placed that son in the care of a craftsman named Ector and his wife. I knew Uther’s ambitions and propensity for battle would likely catch up to him sooner rather than later. Alas, I am sorry to say I was right. But the child has been raised to be a righteous man and has been trained by me to be a savvy warrior and wise king. Even he is only now finding out the truth of this matter. Until this moment, he did not know of his destiny. Indeed, he was not even aware of his true name.”
Gawain looked deliberately into the ocean blue eyes of the man facing him. Gawain remembered the eyes and, looking more closely, the face of the man before him. He slowly turned aside and let him continue. The man now turned toward the crowd. “Friends,” he said, “if you don’t recognize me, let me remind you of who I am. While I am known these days as Myrddin Ambrosius - or simply Merlin to some - those of you who are older may remember me by my previous name: Ambrosius Aurelius.”
Merlin motioned for his grandson to join him. Owain did so stiffly, looking at his mentor in disbelief.
The crowd stirred and whispered among themselves. “I thought he was dead,” one onlooker said softly.
“Let me introduce you to Arthur,” Merlin said, “the son of my son, and the true King of Britain.”
“Years ago, as I recall,” the other replied.
A smattering of applause swept through the crowd, becoming louder and more robust as those in the clearing gained some confidence. But not all the British nobles joined the chorus, and to them, the matter was far from decided.
“Come back to life, did he?” the first observed. “Now, that’s an accomplishment.” “He’s a wizard now, don’t you know?” the companion answered.
“I hope he doesn’t get too aggravated and turn us into something unnatural,” the first concluded.
“How do we know you are Ambrosius?” one challenged aloud. “You could be anyone for all we know, and this child some bastard off the street. No one has seen Ambrosius since he was carted off half-dead from the battlefield nearly twenty years ago.”
With a decidedly calm demeanor, Myrddin gazed across the growing crowd and whispered a few words imperceptible to all. Slowly, the onlookers
Merlin looked calmly at the nobleman, then slowly turned his head toward Gawain. He waited for his nephew to speak.
“He can do most anything he wants, I imagine.”
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“He is Ambrosius Aurelius,” Gawain said with finality. “He is my uncle. And as for the boy, I have never known my uncle to lie. If he says that is Uther’s son, then that is the truth.”
lesson you shared with me somewhere along the way!” Merlin watched his young protégé patiently as Arthur paced around the room.
Merlin and Gawain exchanged a glance, then the old man looked over at his grandson, who still was processing the momentous changes that had occurred in just the last few minutes. Arthur . . . Owain . . . I’m not even sure of my own name, much less anything else. And I am King of Britain? How can that be true? Merlin knew he had much to accomplish and little time to do so. But he also knew a public setting with the ebb and flow of a crowd’s emotions was no environment to secure the future of Britain. With much persuasion, and perhaps more than a bit of cunning, Merlin moved the delicate negotiations behind closed doors, away from the prying eyes of the growing throng. Arthur walked alongside him as they headed toward their destination.
“What do I know about being a king?” he ranted. “Earlier today, I was Kay’s squire, chasing a pig through the woods. Now I am King of Britain? How does that work?”
“May I speak privately with you for a moment?” Arthur asked, working hard to control his feelings.
“Do you think anyone who becomes king is truly ready to be a king?” he finally asked. “I admit this is somewhat of a surprise. If you hadn’t run off and pulled the sword from the anvil when you did, I could have at least better prepared you for the moment. You surprised even me with that stunt. But no one is perfectly ready to be king until the crown is placed upon one’s head.”
“Of course,” Merlin said, with a bit of joviality. “I thought you may have a question or two.” “Perhaps more,” Arthur answered. Merlin turned toward those headed inside and indicated he and Arthur would join them shortly. “King?” Arthur said to Merlin as they entered the chambers. “How am I the king? You think you might have mentioned that somewhere along the way, as well as the fact that my name isn’t even Owain? Or that you were the famous Ambrosius Aurelius? That could have been one 32 | UncagedBooks.com
“That’s quite a promotion, if I do say so myself!” Merlin chuckled. Arthur shot his mentor and grandfather a sharp look. “And what am I supposed to do?” Arthur asked. “I know nothingabout being a king.” Merlin sighed, forcing himself to adopt an air of continued calm. He waited until Arthur finished with his rant before he finally spoke.
“Well, I feel less prepared than most!” Arthur asserted. “Do you, now?” Merlin said, piping up. “Let’s talk about that. Didn’t we spend endless hours the last few years in training as a fighter, in studying military strategy, reviewing the history of Britain, and discussing the challenges it faces?”
| JOSEPH J. SWOPE |
“Yes, but . . .” Merlin interrupted his grandson abruptly. “Didn’t we study the concepts of law and justice, the skills needed to lead and persuade people, and the basics of providing for the populace?” “Well, yes . . .” “Didn’t I share with you knowledge of the most important houses of Britain, teach you how to delegate, how to negotiate, and when to make critical decisions?” Merlin challenged. “You did,” Arthur admitted. “Are you suggesting that my instruction was somehow inadequate?” Merlin challenged. “Well, no, of course not,” the young king acknowledged. “You were as fine a teacher as I could have possibly wanted.” “Then you might admit you are more prepared for this role than you thought, however unanticipated it may be,” Merlin concluded. Arthur looked at Merlin, clearly vexed. He processed the chain of events and the conversation he and his grandfather had just shared. After some thought, he looked back at his mentor of so many years.
mentor and student, former Leader of Battles and the new King of Britain. “Now let us get to work,” Merlin concluded, then turned and led Arthur toward the gathered assembly. “We have much to do, and little time to do so. Pulling a stone from an anvil was great showmanship and fine entertainment for the public, but now we must secure your position as the leader of our people.” The next several days were high drama in Britain. The tournament was held as planned, and even the new king took part. Despite his youth, Arthur acquitted himself well and earned grudging respect among those in the field. Even more importantly, as the heads of Britain’s various factions descended upon Silchester, Arthur’s natural leadership abilities became evident. He quickly proved to many he was a worthy successor to his grandfather and had abilities his father never mastered. Britain had witnessed the first days of Arthur’s reign.
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“You’ll continue to share your wisdom with me, then?” Arthur finally asked. “I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Merlin said, grinning broadly. “You didn’t think I would bring you this far, only to abandon you when you most needed me, did you?” The two embraced, grandfather and grandson, Issue 65 | May/June 2022 |
Robin Hosking is a Spiritually Intuitive Canadian born poet, who started writing poems as a teenager, with a vast heritage which includes Blackfoot and Cherokee. This is her second book.
RobinHosking.com Living Life
Robin Hosking Poetry Poet-author Robin Hosking is back with her second book of poems on Living Life. She expresses thoughts of love to inspire others, which is her poetry’s mission. As she embarked on the journey of this book, she was able to recall and ponder important life lessons from her mother, that have stayed with her throughout her life. Everyone’s purpose is to strive to be like the Living God, the Great Spirit, or their Higher Power. Everyone’s mission is to love. Everyone’s job is to forgive. It’s because of our choices that we are in the state that we are in.
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Sample Earth’s Blood Running water fast and slow Running water hot and cold Circulating all over the globe Lakes and streams rivers and oceans They can be raging and calm well powerful and strong It is also soothing and refreshing to everyone and everything it touches Water is more than what it appears Water is earth’s blood through it we are tied to the earth We are connected to her in a very deep powerful way We are the earth’s blood siblings as the water is the earth’s blood Her water is like our blood to us it is life-giving and makes us strong It is life and connects us all.
Sun Power Earth in peril-no one having a clue Living life as if everything is alright There is something that will cause damage and loss nobody wants to pay the cost I am the sun controlling earth with my magnetic pull Causing it to shift its orbit, pulling it closer and closer to me Heating its hot magma deep within as I heat the outside I will reach super nova The earth will eventually implode then explode It has been written so it shall be done The purification of this world has begun. Misunderstood Bandit Wearing a mask, stalking the scene walking alone stealing what I need Others run when they see me, but I am more afraid of them than they are of me I walk in the shadows, hiding behind trees waiting for the darkness to bring me security My life is not easy, with nowhere to run Taking care of my little ones, knowing one time I might not return Full of dread I am scared out of my head Why do others treat me so? I am really friendly and very curious you know Oh, who am I kidding, what is the sense, that is what humans do: Not trust So as the raccoon, I will take their lead, keep on fearing for my safety.
Issue 65 | May/June 2022 |
3-Page Special Promo
ver his life, Mark James Foster has found the dream world, reality, and the events that take place within one’s own mind make for a great wonderment and experience for each one to travel while still on earth for this probationary period called life. He firmly believes that people are here as a daily, weekly, year-by-year test to see how everyone can better themselves. He also believes that dreams are a guide for people in this world if they are willing to listen to them, understand them, and utilize them for the betterment of one’s soul.
markjamesfosterbooks.com Teruf Wisdom of Light Mark James Foster YA Fantasy Teruf is fifteen and desires to enjoy time with his friends Ken and Al. Also, he wants to explore the new feelings he is having for Ken’s little sister, Quwilla. Teruf also realizes that he cannot leave behind the weighty obligation to which he has been born: to save earth and her people from the ravages of the dragon Egruocs and his seven evil daughters, who are well underway with their wicked plans. Witness Teruf as he experiences fear, danger, tragic loss and moments of triumph in author Mark James Foster’s second book to his fantasy-adventure, Teruf’s Progression in Succession.
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Chapter 5: pages 35-37 CHAPTER FIVE Malicium’s Seven
Teruf awoke and lay staring at the ceiling of his room, aware that the dream he had just experienced was different from any other he’d had. The two men, Morgan and Stewart, whose adven-tures he had monitored in the dream-world, were as real to him and as familiar as Al and Ken—he had felt their longings and their fears, and he knew that the conditions they faced were real, as well. It chilled him to think of what the earth might become if he failed in his mission. Finally he glanced at the clock on his dresser. It was nearly ten-thirty; it was rare that he slept in so late. But of course he had needed to finish his dream—at least as far as it had gone. He dragged himself out of bed, feeling as weary as if he had walked all the way with Morgan and Stewart, but he dressed and made his way downstairs. He was surprised to see all seven of Malicium’s assistants sitting around the dining room table,
apparently engaged in making plans before repairing to the “spare room” for their training session. He gave them a wave and a tired grin, and headed to the kitchen to fix himself a bowl of cereal.
A couple of the men glanced speculatively at him, but they didn’t ask.
As he poured the milk, he thought about the men at the table. He had known most of them, some better than others, all of his life. They were his dad’s friends, the ones Teruf knew Rubin trusted implicitly, and with whom he had long held private meetings of grave importance, such as the one which a much younger Teruf and his friends had once mischievously interrupted with their door-knocking and running. Chelsy knew their wives, as well, and Teruf knew many of their children. But they were more than just family friends. Their association went back for generations, and they all played a part in the preparation for this time which had so quickly come upon them, when the destiny of earth and her peoples hung in the balance.
“We have no idea,” replied Rastas cheerfully. “He’s down there now, no doubt devising something next to impossible.”
Teruf could have eaten his breakfast in the kitchen, but he wondered what the men were discussing, so he took his cereal and eased into the one vacant spot at the table. “Good morning, Teruf,” greeted Eli Rastas Foster with a teasing smile.
“So what does Malicium have planned for you today?” Teruf asked.
Roosevelt Gordon (also known as “Rosy,” not only as a nickname for Roosevelt, but because a rosy outlook was pretty much the exact opposite of his nature) spoke dryly: “He’s plan-ning to kill off one of us today, that’s certain. The only question is which one. The man’s a slave driver.” “Aw, Rosy,” objected Jedediah. “You know you’re having the time of your life. You’ve been itching for action in this battle for years, now! Personally, I’m enjoying the challenge. Malicium knows what we’re up against far better than we do. And from what I hear, Teruf knows quite a bit about it, too, and has done a great job.”
“What gets you up so early?”
Teruf shrugged, feeling his ears go red. He wasn’t comfortable with praise. “But I never know what I’ll be up against, next,” he mumbled.
“It’s Saturday, Rastas,” replied Jedediah Porter. “A kid needs to sleep in on Saturday, right, Teruf?”
“That’s probably why Malicium plans little surprises for you— ‘cause sometimes you just have to face the unknown.”
“Yes sir, but I don’t usually sleep this late,” Teruf replied. “I was dreaming, I guess, and couldn’t wake up till I was done.”
“That’s right,” agreed Jedediah. “But hey, Teruf, you’ve known Malicium longer than we have. He’s amazing. What drives him, do you think? What makes him tick?” Issue 65 | May/June 2022 |
Teruf felt a little flattered at being included in the men’s conversation, and at having his opinion asked. He pondered how much to say about Malicium’s history and purpose in life. Since he wasn’t sure how much Malicium had confided in these men about those things, he chose to play it safe. “Well,” he said, “I think Malicium’s had a lot of first-hand experience over the years in fighting evil and seeing the destruction it can cause, so he’s pretty motivated to conquer in the end. I asked him, one time, something like you just said, and to quote him, loosely, he said, ‘We have one chance to succeed with this plan. If we don’t, Egruocs will have it all—the earth, men, even the universe—and the misery and destruction will be unimaginable. So if it takes a few sleepless nights, sore and fatigued bodies, total dedication to right and truth, and utmost zeal in battle, won’t it be worth it in the end? You know it will.’” The men were silent for a moment, contemplating this. They knew itvwas worth it; Teruf knew that they knew. He suspected that it was all still slightly unreal to them, however-even though they had grown up being taught about what was to come, and their place in the plan, it had all been hypothetical, and in the future. Now the time was here, and the unreal had become all too real. Zedekiah Porter, Jedediah’s brother, put another question to Teruf. “You know, Teruf, we’re aware of the work you’re doing, day after day, in your dad’s office. How do you do it? It must be draining, 38 | UncagedBooks.com
all that translating.” Teruf nodded. In truth, it was draining. Fascinating, to see what came forth from the an-cient records as he plowed through them, but exhausting work. “I just do what Dad and Malicium have taught me to do, to try to see the big picture and not get lost in the details, and keep at it steadily. Iknow it’ll be finished, eventually. And in the meantime, I’m learning a lot.” He had learned a lot, cross-referencing what he was translating with scriptures and other books. As Malicium had encouraged him to, he found himself going back again and again to the writings of Isaiah, which had layers of richness he felt he was only beginning to uncover. Also, in the Book of Mormon which Malicium had been reading on their visit to Temple Square, one part of which had made that ancient and stoic warrior for truth actually shed tears, Teruf had found reference to a group of men he felt sure must have included Malicium himself. Even he had choked up a little, reading about them and their times and the wonderful things that had happened back then. It was so different from the present. Cornwall Foster, Eli Rasta’s brother, and Drake Farnsworth both watched and listened at-tentively to Teruf’s remarks.
To unravel their true fates, Rorik and Ragna must trust in the power of the wolf.
RORIK is on sale for 99¢ from 5.6.22 - 5.27.22
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s an avid reader who read every book in the kids’ section of the library and moved on to Harlequin Presents at age eleven, Karin Shah spends a lot of time reading. Some (everyone) might say too much. Every book she writes, she writes for herself as a reader. She enjoy novels that make her smile even though it seems the happy ending is almost beyond reach. At the end of a book, she wants to feel satisfied, not worried, so she doesn’t do cliff-hangers. All her novels work as stand alones, but her series are best enjoyed in order. She tries very hard to write the fun, emotionally satisfying Romances she adores and make each one better than the last. She lives in Rochester, NY with her husband, two children, a girl and a boy, and three dogs, a vizsla and two basenjis. Along with reading, she enjoys anime and manga, and is trying her best to start running, but seems to do most of that between the couch and the bathroom. She admits to being a little flaky, having gone to get her teenage daughter at school once when all of a sudden she remembered her daughter had stayed home from school that day. Karin has been known to get so deeply into writing, reading or whatever that a brass band could march through and she’d never notice. Her dogs and children use this tendency to get away with bloody murder. She loves to hear from readers--please visit her at any of her social media sites and tell her what you think.
Uncaged Welcomes Karin Shah Welcome to Uncaged! Your latest book, Out Like a Dragon is the seventh book in a series. Can you tell readers more about the book and this series? The Chimera Chronicles is a paranormal romance series featuring seven chimera-shifting brothers separated as young children to hide them from their enemies. The youngest brothers don’t even remember they are shifters. Chimeras in my world can shift into three other forms. They can be a lion, a dragon, or a blend of the two. One form, either the lion or the dragon is usually dominant. In each book, one brother must find his fated mate before he goes feral and his animal side subsumes the human.
This final book is about Caleb. He is a former Coast Guard Officer who was captured after going feral. His captors have a drug that keeps him human for a short time and they use him as a hired killer. Mika, the heroine, works for the Ethereal Council, a group of Supernatural creatures who enforce the world of shifters, vampires, and every mythical being that exists in the world of the Chimera Chronicles. She is an enforcer. It’s her job to track him down. What are you working on now that you can tell us about? I’m starting a s spin off series with three sisters. I love stories about families, in case you couldn’t tell. This will be another mythical shifter species. Issue 65 | May/June 2022 | 43
| FEATURE AUTHOR | The hero is John, the best friend of Kyle, the oldest Chimera Brother. John is a half-demon (demons can be good or bad in my world). My heroine also is in the Chimera Chronicles. She’s in the same boat as Caleb, she’s gone feral and John uses the same drug the bad guys used on Caleb to bring her back and discovers she’s his mate. Unfortunately, being lost in her animal form for so long, she doesn’t remember who she is. In the midst of this, the Ethereal Council is choosing a new mythical-shapeshifter representative. While, the candidates are gathered there’s a murder. So John and his mate’s story will take place in the setting of this mystery.
I tend to have the characters and the plot appear together like, “He’s a shapeshifter that got blackmailed into a bank robbery and she’s an FBI agent who was in the bank.” That’s the plot of the Chimera Chronicles book three, by the way.
What is the most difficult scene for you to write? What is the easiest?
If you could have one all-year season, which would it be and why?
The black moment scene is always the hardest to write. I want the reader to be completely immersed in the scene and feel the emotion the characters are feeling. I tend to second guess myself at this point and writing slows down to a crawl. I think the easiest scene is the first meet scene because usually I have had it in my head since before I started the book, so it’s had a lot of time to percolate. How do you come up with the title to your books? I usually brainstorm a list and then check how many other books are out with that title. It’s hard to be original. I had to change my second book’s title at the last minute and ended up brainstorming with my kids who were young at the time. The book is a vampire/witch romance and my daughter said, “Blood and Witches” and my son who was six, followed with “Blood and Kisses” and that’s what I chose. What behind-the-scenes tidbit in your life would probably surprise your readers the most? This is tough. Maybe that I’m an identical twin? Which comes first, the plot or the characters in the planning stages? 44 | UncagedBooks.com
What are some things you like to do to relax when you aren’t writing or working? I watch anime and read manga. I love The Rising of the Shield Hero, for example. I also read all kinds of romance and even Young Adult Fantasy, usually while on the couch or my deck with my three dogs.
| KARIN SHAH | I like summer the most, because I can sit outside and read, but I do enjoy the changes of season. Do you prefer ebooks audiobooks or physical books? Are you reading anything now?
twitter @KarinShah and facebook KarinShahAuthor and instagram shah.karin. My website is KarinShah. com
I like ebooks because I can make the type big and read in the dark. I’m currently reading a Korean web toon (Manhua) called Solo Leveling. What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? I’m grateful to anyone who takes the time to read my books, and especially those who review. My books are all available with KindleUnlimited, so I hope readers who haven’t heard of me will give them a try. I am on
Enjoy an excerpt from A Springtime Scandal Out Like a Dragon Karin Shah Fantasy Romance Seven powerful shifter brothers torn apart as children, must find their fated mates and each other, before they go feral or their enemies hunt them down... Mika Satoru doesn’t need anyone. She’s always been glad she’s not a shifter, a mate would only slow her down. She’s a Satori, a supernatural being with telepathic abilities, and an Ethereal Council enforcer. She’s faster, stronger, smarter, and works harder than her colleagues. Being Deaf is just part of who she is. For the past year or more, she’s been tracking a mysterious killer. The last thing she wants is to be taken off the case to search for a possibly feral chimera shifter. Caleb is feral. His humanity has surrendered to his dragon side, but he’s a dragon on a leash. The Scorpius Corporation has a serum that keeps him human long enough to kill anyone who threatens their bottom line. Fortunately, until recently, that’s been weapons dealers with bloody Issue 65 | May/June 2022 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | hands themselves. Now Scorpius is gone, but his handler, Eris, still holds his leash. She has a job for him, assassinate a member of the Ethereal Council. When Caleb meets Mika, the fight is on — literally, but circumstances soon force them together. On the run from the Council Enforcers, Eris, and the police, Caleb and Mika must work to uncover the moles and find more serum before Eris carries out her mission. A talisman aids them in their task, but it has a mind of its own and they never know where they’ll end up. Worse, before the serum wears off completely, Caleb has the impulse control of a kindergartener and Mika shouldn’t find that adorable. Nor should every touch kindle the desire to kiss him. She doesn’t need a mate —but maybe she wants one. Excerpt Mika threw open the fallout shelter door as wide as it would go, which wasn’t a complete arc. The massive hinges must have settled over the years or the floor rose because the base wedged to a halt at about a 70 degree angle. She scanned the shadows inside. There were no lights in here and she didn’t see another camera. The light bleeding through the window illuminated stacks of dusty plywood, two by fours and the like, lined up against the walls. An old folding chair lay open on it’s side in the middle of the floor. A push cart stood next to it. The room appeared empty, but that pull in her chest grew. She had to step forward to clear the area obscured by the door. She’d already passed the threshold when Anand said, Wait. But it was too late. The door slammed shut, leaving her cut off from the Maras and her team. The floor vibrated under her boots. Something being shoved. Mika tracked the object to its destina46 | UncagedBooks.com
tion blocking the door. Her heart thumped like a taiko drum at a festival. The stale air felt as thick as sludge, needing extra force to be inhaled. She spun to confront the threat, but despite the small window, most of the room was now masked in shadow. Her eyes were no longer adjusted to the dark which made it even harder to see. She raised her weapon toward the darker blob she could detect. Her eyes were re-adjusting and she scrutinized the edges of the shape. Dragon? No. The thing took up a large space, but not that big. It was a very tall man. Twin golden circles reflected the light. Chimera eyes. Caleb. Air pushed into her lungs. She lifted her weapon to aim at center mass. “Don’t move,” she commanded. He didn’t listen. He came closer. She should shoot him. Wouldn’t have hesitated before, but something stayed Mika’s hand. She tried to press back against the door. Something hit the back of her legs. It felt like the pile of materials she’d seen against the wall. This must be what had been shoved. Her pulse raced. He’d trapped her in here with him. Her eyes adapted further to the light from the door and she saw past the glowing eye shine for the first time. Her breath snagged painfully in her chest. The floor did a weird dip. There was no disguising the wild beauty of a Mara in human form. The diamond cut symmetry of his face echoed Ky’s. But whereas her admiration of Ky’s looks was purely academic, the sight of this face did something weird to her heart. It fluttered. She almost shook her head at the thought. Hearts didn’t flutter. Fear had driven it into a faster rhythm. She confused attraction with panic. Anger cleared her head. This is hardly the time for self-reflection. She was cornered.
| KARIN SHAH | Damn it. She thrust past whatever had made her hesitate a moment ago and slid her finger to the trigger. But it was too late, he knocked the weapon toward the ceiling as she felt the slight recoil of the dart leaving the muzzle. He didn’t react, so it must’ve have missed the mark. His hands slid up and he removed her weapon from her tight grasp as if she’d handed him the damn thing, tossing the weapon over his shoulder. He crowded her, pinning her in place, his hands on the door, like a character in a shojo manga, and sniffed her. “You smell good.” She ignored the compliment, snatching the spare weapon holstered in the small of her back. It was loaded with bullets. Ky wouldn’t be happy, but since she was trapped with a creature who could transform and eat her, she didn’t care. Her hand closed around the grip. He tutted, grabbing her wrists behind her back. His arms encircled her in a parody of an embrace. He had to lean down and his breath lifted the hair near her ear, feathering over the lobe. She shivered and tried to bring up the sidearm, but again he peeled her fingers away from the grip, one hand still cuffed around her wrists, and chucked the weapon somewhere in the darkness. She felt the slight vibration of it hitting the ground, but it was too far away and he was too fast. She’d never get to it before he could catch her. If she could even get away.
headbutt him. Her other hand shot out at the same time, striking toward his nose. His hold slid, but she’d never fought anyone as quick. He jerked back before her palm heel could land, simultaneously adapting to her move and yanking her arms over her head. He tried to pin her against the door, but the pallets and other junk he’d shoved there was in the way. She took advantage of the pile, climbing the makeshift obstacles to swing her legs around his neck to go for sankaku-jime, the triangle choke, but he countered before she could throw her leg over, ramming her backside against the wall. Airexploded from her lungs. The concrete blocks bit her hips, but not as hard as she might have expected. His hands manacled her wrists to the cold, concrete blocks above her head, her face even with his, her feet dangling above the floor. She attempted to bring her leg up to knee his ribs, but he was all around her. There was no room. Damn, it was like fighting an immovable wall of sand. Frustrated tears wet her lashes. Time ticked away. He hadn’t shifted to his larger form, but he could at any second. Who knew when she’d be trapped in here with a dragon?
The strange impulse jolted her back to reality. What the hell was wrong with her?
She jammed an elbow at his nose, forcing him to loosen his hold and she broke out. Hands free, she dropped to the top of the pile, an open-handed shove impacting his ribs. There was no way she was going to move him, but distraction was her friend. Her foot lashed toward the side of his knee. But his leg was gone. He’d moved it out of reach. Still, his slight withdrawal was enough. In a heartbeat, she gained the security of the floor and aimed at his other knee, almost brushing the surface with her sole as he slid back.
After he’d thrown her back-up weapon away, his free hand had rejoined the other, binding her wrists and her training kicked in. She feinted a lunge forward as if to
Her training took over. A flurry of punches and strikes flew from her hands. Roundhouse. Palm heel strike. Jab. Uppercut. Her feet weren’t static
For a moment she forgot to struggle. His scent clouded her senses. There were notes of pine and mikan, mandarin oranges. She brushed off the urge to shove in close and breathe deep, to examine the fragrance further, to identify every tangy layer.
Issue 65 | May/June 2022 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | either. Double front kick. Sweep. Side kick. She changed her rhythm. Techniques overlapping. Backfist. Hook. Twistkick. Yet, all she hit was air. Worse, he was smiling, his lips pressed together in a way that looked like... humming? She hit harder and faster, but he took her waist, pulling her hips into the cradle of his long thighs, seizing her right hand. Surprise knocked the air from her lungs. The proximity sent a wave of weakness through her. She froze. He ducked close to her ear. His face buried in her hair. She could feel the buzz of sound through the bones behind her ear. His jaw moved, forming syllables. Unable to resist, she skated the surface of his mind. He was singing, sort of. Ya da, da, da, da, da, Da, Da, Da. He swung her into the moves of a dance, sticking her right hand out in front of them and gliding them across the floor, she had to go along, or be dragged. His knees were bent enough his chest pressed to hers. She imagined she could feel his heart through her tactical vest. Her rebellious body responded to the closeness, his scent clouding her senses, sensitive nerve endings awakening. She caught herself leaning into his grasp. It felt too good to resist. She belonged in his arms, his body heat seeping into her. Every place they touched, a caress. Ya da, da, da, da, da, Da, Da, Da. Ya da, da, da, da, da, Da, Da, Da. Ya da, da, da, da, da, Da, Da, Da... Her hazy brain processed the syllables. Recognition brought rage. Her attacks had had so little effect, he thought of it as a dance. A tango.
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elanie Egunza has lived in the suburbs of Seattle, Washington for the majority of her life. She began writing when she was around 13 years old and is currently working towards her Bachelor’s degree in English. A young woman navigating how to live out her Catholic faith and the challenges of life has never been easy, but with poetry, she finds the journey is undeniably beautiful. One day, she hopes to share her love for self-expression through words with her future students.
Looking Up with Open ARms Melanie Egunza Poetry
A collection of poems that are unquestionably authentic, personal, and human, it gives voice to the whirlwind that is life, — the trials, victories, gains, and losses — it dares to go beyond and highlights the growth that can come from embracing it all. The author hopes that this will be a humble reminder that there’s so much good in allowing every experience to rest on the palm of your hands, in cherishing them and recognizing that they have a purpose in your life. Learn from these growing pains and heartaches, giving you space to better yourself and the people around you.
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When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? I actually didn’t realize I wanted to be a writer until after I had started the publishing process. I knew I wanted to publish a book at some point in my life, but never, in a million years did I think it would be so soon. I was so used to telling myself that writing wasn’t practical or stable, so I’d talk myself out of any inkling of wanting to pursue this as a major part of my life. It was really on a whim that I got the ball rolling, but I’m so grateful that I did. How did you get started as a poet? I started writing when I was around 13 years old. It was a difficult time in my life and I didn’t really feel like I had anyone to confide in. I had a lot of feelings I needed to get out, so I turned to writing. By eighth grade, it became common knowledge that I carried around a notebook, and by ninth grade, I was presenting poems at my home church’s youth group and had gotten involved in my school’s poetry club. From there, I started taking creative writing and poetry classes, and never really stopped.
Do you find writing easy? Funny enough, as a kid, you couldn’t pay me to write more than I had to. I didn’t like it, I wasn’t good at it, and, quite frankly, I had other things to do. I held this view with varying levels of intensity up until seventh grade when, seemingly out of nowhere, words just started to click for me. The growth was so drastic and so sudden that my English teacher actually pulled me aside to ask if I was plagiarizing my essays. I took pride in her puzzlement, and felt all the more encouraged to keep writing. From that time onward, writing has been my second nature. I believe it’s a gift from God and I can’t take any credit for anything I’m capable of doing within this craft. Most times, even I’m in awe of the things I’ve written. How do your poems develop? Most of what I write begins with an encounter. Maybe I had an impactful conversation, maybe I witnessed or read something that got me thinking, maybe an old memory came to mind whatever it is, almost everything I write can be traced back to a specific experience. Once I have that experience in mind, I play it back in my head and write what I would say if I could live in that moment again or at all, if I made up a “scene” to write off of. I used to put myself in an unnamed character’s shoes and write what I imagine them saying if they had no reservations. As I’ve gotten older, and more confident in who I am, I find I rely less on fictional characters unless I’m trying to draw from an experience I’ve never had. In more recent poetry, maybe from age 16 onward, I speak as myself, making it easier to own my words rather than referencing some intangible source. Please guide us through the stages of a poem. Most of my poems are pretty instantaneous: I have a thought, write it down, and find myself with another poem. Even some of my longer ones don’t take me more than a couple hours to get to a place I deem done. Once I have an idea, I usually run with it and won’t really revise it once it’s written. Of course, there’s the occasional line
break adjustment or word swap, but for the most part, once it’s written, it’s written. The longest part of the process is actually finding something I want to write about. My approach to this is pretty laid back: I keep experiencing. Eventually, I always seem to run into an occasion worth savoring with words. Don’t get me wrong, my life isn’t particularly eventful, but I find that there are raw pictures of humanity and sheer experiences of beauty waiting to be realized if we take the time to look for them, and those are almost always worth writing about. Do you show your work in progress to anyone? I don’t think I’ve ever shown anyone an unfinished poem. This isn’t because I’m particularly secretive, but because my writing process is relatively quick and doesn’t give people a lot of time to grow curious about what I could be working on. There have even been times where I’ve sent friends texts in the form of a poem, not really thinking much of it, only for them to be surprised that I got back to them with an original piece in less than 5 minutes. That said, if I’m in a quick write situation, I try to finish my poems in the allotted time given because I’d rather present something short, but complete. Can you give any advice to someone wanting to write and publish poetry? Do it! Most of us can pick up our phones right now, go to the Notes app and meet a page ready to be filled with words. Start off writing about emotional experiences in your life, or about a topic you’re passionate about, and go from there. If you’re looking to publish poetry, don’t be afraid! Reach out to companies like Writer’s Republic. Rest assured that there are people out there who know what they’re doing and are ready to walk you through the whole process. You’ve got this: You can write that poem, and you can publish that book.
Issue 65 | May/June 2022 |
Follow Your Dreams Guest column by Richard H. Stephens
GUEST COLUMN Follow Your Dreams by Richard H. Stephens
I clearly remember the day the switch flipped inside my head and told me that if I didn’t get out now, I never would. Sitting behind the wheel of a Waterloo Regional Police service vehicle, outside of a singlefamily residence, in my hand was the only information I had for the owner of the residence I had attended. It was a normal day with dispatch overly busy with calls coming in around the city. Checking the subpoena in my hands to gather what little information I could about the individual I was about to face, I saw that the named recipient was a female with a birthdate that put her at 70-yearsold. Though not considered proper procedure, I decided not to bother dispatch with my 10-7, (the location for the call). They had more serious occurrences to worry about. Relieved that the person I was about to speak to was likely not a threat, my attention was drawn to her birth year. 1946. I recall thinking, ‘Wow! That’s only 19 years away for me.’ At that moment it dawned on me: If I don’t get out of here (my job) now, I’ll likely never realize my one true passion. One that I had secretly nurtured since I was 9. The rest of my day went by in blur; my thoughts consumed by how life had escaped me in the blink of an eye. Though many days on the job over the years had dragged on due to hidden worries about what I might face, looking back, 5 children and 2 careers 54 | UncagedBooks.com
had spirited those days, months, and years past me faster than I could ever imagine. Staring at that subpoena had turned into a ‘now or never.’ If I ever wanted to become a writer, I had to act now. Not sure how my wife would receive this bombshell, I feared our conversation would not end well. That night, she started talking about leaving her career to start up her own online business, one she had dabbled with for months, and I couldn’t help telling her what I had been thinking throughout the day. As she listened, I was pleasantly surprised by her reaction. She fully supported the idea of me leaving the policing environment before the stress ended up killing me prematurely. Not knowing what the future had in store, we left our real jobs on the same day. April 28th, 2017. How prophetic? Our anniversary. In September 2017, I published my first manuscript—a loosely written novella set in the fantasy world that had been in my head since 1982. Though not professionally published, The Royal Tournament, and another novella, Of Trolls and Evil Things, were used to cut my proverbial teeth in the publishing world. It wasn’t for nearly another full year, at the age of 53, that I finally realized my childhood dream. Soul Forge, the book that had been in my head for 35 years, became a reality. With the amazing support of my wife, I accomplished what I never dreamed possible. As of the date of this article, I now have 13 published books to my name, with two more scheduled for 2022. Though everyone’s journey is different, I encourage you to take note. You only live once. Grab life by the dragon horns and hang on. With perseverance, hard work, and belief in yourself, you can do whatever your heart desires. Follow your dreams.
©Copyright 2022 Richard H. Stephens for Uncaged Book Reviews www.uncagedbooks.com Published with Permission
Born in Simcoe, Ontario, in 1965, I was raised and still reside in Cambridge, Ontario. I began writing circa 1974, a bored child looking for something to while away the long, summertime days. My penchant for reading, ‘The Hardy Boys,’ led to an inspiration one sweltering summer afternoon, when my best friend and I thought, ‘We could write one of those.’ And so, I did. As my reading horizons broadened, so did my writing. ‘Star Wars’ inspired me to write a 600-page novel about outer space that caught the attention of a special teacher, Mr. Woodley, who encouraged me to keep on writing. In early 2017, I resigned from the Police Service to pursue my love of writing full-time. With the help and support of my lovely wife Caroline and our 5 children, I have now realized my boyhood dream. Issue 65 | May/June 2022 |
A’Johnna Mo’neawhite A
’Johnna Mo’nea White is a 19-year-old female currently serving as a police officer in the United States Air Force. Life for her has never really been straightforward. Her biological mother had her when she was in prison, and soon after that she was brought to Asheville, NC where she was raised. Over the course of the first 8 years of her life, she experienced a number of things such as: no stability, death, and males touching me in places no child should be touched. The next 8 years of her life, she experienced more death, racism, injustice, sexual assault, emotional neglect, and a number of other things. There is one thing that has always been with her. Through the good and the bad, even when she didn’t notice it. JESUS.
The Sinful Sacrifice A’Johnna White Poetry
When the author started this book, she didn’t exactly know what it was about until she got to the end. She realized that being a follower of Christ is her greatest accomplishment. God loved her when she didn’t know him, He loved her when she rejected Him, and He loves her when she makes mistakes. She knows for a fact that He loves everyone, but the question is: will people let him? She prays that this helps people as they slay their demons, be at peace with themselves, and put that burning desire to seek the Lord in their heart.
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Only judged by the world to be misunderstood I’m done so wrong but I keep doing good Tryin to state my points But it’s only black and white No in-between the lines So why put up a fight We’re tackled to the other side Where there’s a fence built high No one can hear our pain Or feel the tears we’ve cried Cause we’re just misunderstood Drenched in an avalanche of lies Where deception comes to memorize In the middle of my restless Poisoned nights I am reminded of a word That tells a story of a teen MISUNDERSTOOD And misunderstood is me
Just another statistic followed by a new therapist A countless number of my peers wearing long sleeves In the summer to cover their wrist And a thousand lies is all that remains to exist There are no more presents that lay in the presence of my soul And I am left all alone to fill this everlasting hole That has consumed my whole spirit My spirit is still fighting but I can’t feel it I’m ashamed I want my prayers to be enough but it’s not There are no more slots For mistakes and feeling guilty No one can save me from this self-induced penalty I am trapped in my body and Held captive in my own mind Time is passing by and leaving me behind I am not scared of the darkness and I think that’s the problem The statistics are rising and lies are evolving There is no mystery not worth solving So why didn’t they notice!? __ I hope this finds you at the right time I hope you know If you’re with God you’ll be just fine Embrace being a child of God Find yourself in Jesus Because He’s the only one that truly sees us
Issue 65 | May/June 2022 |
contemporary | crime thriller | historical romance
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inda’s inspiration comes from her favorite authors and life itself. Her character-driven stories integrate humor found in everyday situations, family drama, and forever love. Her distinct voice creates memorable journeys and emotion. Linda’s been a finalist in the Booksellers Best Contest and Romance Reviews Readers’ Choice Awards. Linda lives in Michigan with her artist husband, sons, and rescue dog. Linda loves art, animals, and stories with hope and heart. Welcome to Linda Bradley Welcome to Uncaged! You are releasing Unbranded, which is a spin-off of the Montana Bound series, which I personally loved. Can you tell readers more about the book? In my Montana Bound series, Chloe McIntyre was the feisty seven-year-old that lived next door to main character, middle aged Maggie Abernathy. Chloe befriended Maggie, and the two created a forever-bond. Fast forward to Unbranded, book 1 of my new Montana Bred series. Chloe McIntyre is now twenty-six, devoted to the family business, and independent. She’s determined to become the co-CEO of her grandfather’s Montana ranch, but her father isn’t ready to become partners—yet. Jaded memories of her parents’ shotgun wedding gone wrong cloud her attraction for best friend Matt Cooper when she discovers she’s pregnant—with his baby. Chloe believes raising a child isn’t in her genes, and she doesn’t expect a marriage proposal. She keeps her
condition a secret to hold her position on the ranch and continue what she does best: wrangling strays and working alongside hired hands. After her father announces his first choice for coCEO, a wild ride jeopardizes the pregnancy, and Chloe questions life choices. Will the cowgirl grit she has inherited from her grandmother be enough to rein in her disappointment, or will she walk away from everything that could flourish into love? This book embraces the idea that we don’t always get what we want, but sometimes, what we need will take us further in life and love if we let it. How many books are you planning on for the series? I have three books planned. Book two, Reunion is in the editing phase and book three, Showdown is drafted. As I write, more plot lines and stories centered around supporting characters are developing. We’ll see what happens. Issue 65 | May/June 2022 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | What is the most difficult scene for you to write? What is the easiest? The scenes that come easiest are the exchanges between Chloe and Trout. Trout is the foreman of the McIntyre 617 Ranch and has known Chloe all her life. Trout has a special place in his heart for Chloe, and Chloe adores Trout. Their banter is quick-witted, honest, and encompasses life lessons. Writing about Chloe’s grandfather’s passing was difficult even though he has been gone for two years. Writing out a character I’ve become attached to is hard. I included a memorial on the ridge overlooking the ranch to emphasize his character and importance.
How do you come up with the title to your books? For this series, I brainstormed three lists of words, each list pertaining to each book’s theme. From there, I chose the title that ‘felt’ like the story. What behind-the-scenes tidbit in your life would probably surprise your readers the most? I love to paint, create collage, and work in my sketchbook. In the last year, I have created over 100 compositions. I like to paint with watercolor and acrylic. Making hand painted paper for my collages is part of my process. Some of my favorite artists are Henri Matisse, Amedeo Modigliani, and Marie Laurencin. I do have a degree in interior design and fine art. Sometimes, characters or settings from my books inspire my art. Which comes first, the plot or the characters in the planning stages? The characters. I make a character bible for each book I write. It includes images of the characters, houses, land, and animals. Everyone has a bio, including the animals. Sometimes, I will draw a sketch or paint my main character. When I started writing Unbranded, the book was untitled. I knew Chloe wanted to run her grandfather’s ranch, but I didn’t know what Chloe’s obstacle would be until I typed the opening line. What are some things you like to do to relax when you aren’t writing or working? I like to read, hang with my family, do puzzles, bake, and spend time with my dog. Occasionally, I’ll binge on television. I love a good, throwback romantic comedy movie. Some of my favorites are Sweet Home Alabama, Two Weeks Notice, Something’s Gotta Give, and Maid of Honor. If you could have one all-year season, which would it be and why?
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Summer. I love the sun, the warm temperatures, green grass, and flowers. Do you prefer eBooks, audiobooks or physical books? Are you reading anything now? I prefer physical books. I find reading from physical books connects me to story in a more fulfilling way. I do read on my Kindle occasionally, but if I have a choice, physical books—yes please! I recently attended a writers’ retreat. Tracy Brogan was the guest speaker, so I am reading her book, Crazy Little Thing. What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you?
| LINDA BRADLEY | Those moments fill me with warm fuzzies and make writing even more special. Readers can follow me on Book Bub, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. They can also subscribe to my newsletter for special news and updates. (My original newsletter platform dumped my subscribers, so I’m starting over. If you were on the list before, please re-subscribe.)
I would like to say thank you! I appreciate your support, reviews, and kind words. I have had readers say I changed their lives and touched their hearts.
Issue 65 | May/June 2022 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR |
Enjoy an excerpt from Unbranded Unbranded Linda Bradley Contemporary Western Romance Threatened by the unexpected, a devoted rancher refuses to compromise her ambition or her legacy.
CHLOE MCINTYRE is determined to become the co-CEO of her grandfather’s Montana ranch, but her father isn’t ready to become partners—yet. Jaded memories of her parents’ shotgun wedding gone wrong cloud her attraction for best friend Matt Cooper when she discovers she’s pregnant— with his baby. Chloe believes raising a child isn’t in her genes, and she doesn’t expect a marriage proposal. She keeps her condition a secret to hold her position on the ranch and continue what she does best: wrangling strays and working alongside hired hands. After her father announces his first choice for co-CEO, a wild ride jeopardizes the pregnancy, and Chloe questions life choices. Will the cowgirl grit she has inherited from her grandmother be enough to rein in her disappointment, or will she walk away from everything that could flourish into love? Excerpt Chapter 1 I peed on the stick and said a prayer. I wasn’t sure which stirred the queasy flutter in my 64 | UncagedBooks.com
belly, the fact I could be pregnant or the fact I’d have to own the responsibility. Matt and I weren’t ready for an addition. We’d been friends since college. We never talked about marriage, and I liked it that way. My toe-tapping didn’t speed up the process. I wiped my sweaty palms on my jeans. The stopwatch on my phone ticked like the stride of a sloth. I wrapped the pregnancy test in tissue, tucked it beneath the washcloths in the vanity drawer, peeked into the hallway, then decided to go downstairs to the kitchen. I stuck my head in the refrigerator. The blast of air cooled my brow. My stomach rolled over. My relationship with Matt wouldn’t ever be the same. I grabbed a bottle of water, shut the door, and twisted the top off. The plastic container crackled. With an eye on the clock, I drummed my fingertips on the counter. The granite was cold, unforgiving. I peered out the picture window. Maggie and Dad were nowhere in sight. The midday sun lit the majestic Montana landscape. Dad had brought me here to live on his parents’ 617 Ranch when I was eight—6/17, my grandparents’ wedding date. “I miss you, Grandpa,” I whispered to his spirit and pictured him, the way he looked when I came here eighteen years ago. I wiped away brimming tears, turned on a heel, hurried back to the bathroom, and locked the world out. I never knew my grandma, Ida May, and I wished I had. I’d seen her in old photographs and always wondered what part of me was like her. If any. And did she watch over me with my granddad? My hands shook as I read the results on the white plastic stick. My vision blurred. There was no mistake about the outcome. I leaned against the counter and glanced in the mirror. I didn’t feel twenty-six and pregnant. The knock at the door jarred me. I took a deep breath, wrapped the evidence in toilet paper, then buried it beneath the existing trash. “Chloe, are you in there?” I turned on the water, washed my hands, and took a seat on the toilet to search the far crevices of my mind for an answer. Every problem had a solution. All I had to do was find it. Maggie called my name, again. My heart raced.
| LINDA BRADLEY | “Just a second.” I pounded my fists into my thighs. The hangnail on my pointer finger caught in the fray of my blue jeans, and I bit my lip. “Chloe? I could use your help.” She paused. “Chloe,” Maggie’s voice was muffled through the heavy door. “Are you okay?” “Yes.” I dried my damp cheeks, stood, shook out my legs, and inspected myself in the mirror. My wavy, dishwater blond hair framed my flushed cheeks. The silver necklace I wore flickered in the light. “I’m coming.” I steadied my hand and reached for the doorknob. Maggie stood in the hallway, leaning against the railing. Her lips pinched when our gazes met. I hoped I could hide my secret behind a smile. “What’s going on?” She stepped closer, the corners of her eyes her lined with concern. She was beautiful as ever, perhaps even more beautiful than when I first met her. Her slender fingers pushed strands of hair from my face. Maggie tucked her long, strawberry blond hair behind her ears. I didn’t think she’d ever go gray. I desperately wanted to ask her how it felt to carry a child. “What’s wrong, Chloe?” My shoulders fell forward. What was I going to do with a baby? Maggie stroked my hair. “Chloe, what’s wrong?” I had no words. Maggie held my hands in hers. The flecks of gold in her green irises shimmered like an Irish field as the light streamed through the window at the end of the hallway. “It’s nothing.” “You’re obviously upset. You’re shaking.” “Matt and I had an argument.” I lowered my gaze at this lie. “About what?” Maggie examined me through narrow slits. Hopefully, she wouldn’t go all Maggie on me. That’s what Dad called it when she sensed something was off. As amusing as I thought it was when she turned the tides on him, I didn’t want to be in the undertow should she suspect a fissure in my world. She had the nose of a hound when it came to pretense. I suspected she acquired this inherent sense before retiring from her elementary teaching career.
“I should talk to Matt first,” I answered. I swallowed away the knot at the back of my throat and leaned against the wall. My shoulders fell forward. I tucked my fingers in my pockets and hooked my thumbs through the belt loops of my faded jeans. My flat stomach wouldn’t be so flat much longer. “I can’t imagine anything being so bad. You and Matt get along so well.” I leaned back; my shoulder blades skimmed the wall. “Yeah, I’m sure we can work it out.” How do you work out a baby? “I could use your help in the barn. Butch and Sundance have gotten into the burrs. I tried combing their tails, but they aren’t having it. Thought maybe you could win them over with your charm and sugar.” I scuffed my boot lightly against the floor. “Butch and Sundance always find the burrs.” So did I. “Yes, they do”—Maggie smiled—“but they make up for their horseplay with hard work and loyalty.” “Nice one,” I said, following her downstairs and into the main part of the house filled with rustic furnishings, love, and everything Montana. Pretty soon it would be filled with the pitter-patter of little feet. “I’m sure whatever it is, it isn’t as bad as you think. It’s easy to make a mountain out of a molehill.” Maggie stopped at the bottom of the stairs and turned to face me. “When you want to talk, I’m here.” “Thank you,” I said. “Do you feel like helping me?” She picked up Dad’s corduroy barn jacket from the floor and hung it on the antler hall tree. “Yeah, I can’t let Butch and Sundance stay gnarled and knotted like your momma’s knitting yarn.” “Speaking of my mom, I’d love to see her, up close and in person. I sure miss her.” Maggie straightened the plaid throw on the back of the leather sofa. “Your dad’s in the pasture rounding up cattle with the guys. Butch and Sundance have also been rolling in the mud. I can’t wait ’til someone fills in the hole they’ve made. You’d swear they Issue 65 | May/June 2022 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | were a couple of wallowing hogs.” She stopped short in front of me, and I bumped into her. “Sorry,” I said. “No need to be sorry. I’m used to it. You’ve been on my heels since the day I met you. Remember the time we bumped heads and I needed stitches?” “How could I forget?” Maggie pushed the hair away from her left temple. “The scar is completely gone, but the memory lives on, dear girl.” There was a message in her words. She wasn’t one to hold a grudge. She was making a point. “I figured if I brought it up again, it would take your mind off whatever is troubling you. Michigan seems like a lifetime ago.” “Sure does,” I said. “Some days I’d give anything to be a little girl again.” Maggie’s gait across the dark planked floors was slow and easy. Over the years, she had absorbed our Gallatin Valley tempo of living and tamed her Midwestern suburban ways, but she hadn’t forgotten her roots. When she wasn’t riding or doing chores, she photographed ranching life in Montana with hopes of publishing her images in a coffee table book. I turned off the kitchen lights and put on my cowboy hat. Maggie reached for me and squeezed my hands. Her soft touch melted my insides. “I miss those days, too. I think I got the better end of the deal though,” she said. “Why’s that?” “Because I inherited you after the diapers, colic, and ear infections. I might’ve missed the baby and toddler years, but you were still young enough to cuddle with when I married your dad.” “Actually, I think I got the better end of the deal. You’ve made life easier. Having you made up for my mom’s absence.” I hugged her. “Mom’s Hollywood modeling career has taken a toll on both of us. Me and her. Maybe someday she and I can make up for lost time, mend some of the rifts. She’s always busy though.” I opened the mudroom door. Samson, our scrappy bulldog, waited for us outside. He was seven but had the heart 66 | UncagedBooks.com
of a pup. “Come on, boy, let’s get to the barn and see what’s going on. If it weren’t for me, this place would go under.” Samson woofed and lollygagged down the path beside me. “I swear this dog is Bones reincarnated,” I said to Maggie. “He has the same swagger and muddy brown eyes.” “Hey, what do you want for dinner tonight? I picked up some thick cowboy steaks at the butcher’s today. How’s that sound?” She tripped on a rock and grabbed my arm to balance herself. “Maybe.” I shrugged. “Geez, you must really be down in the dumps. Steak is your favorite.” “Steak sounds delicious. Wish Grandpa were here to cook. I wish he were here to do lots of things.” What I wanted most was to curl up in his lap and bury my head in his shoulder. At the end of the day, whether I’d screwed up or not, I was his girl. And with him gone, I didn’t quite fit in anymore. Somehow, Grandpa always made me feel like one of the guys. Dad, Grandpa, and I had been the three amigos. The banter came easily, and our intentions flowed freely in his presence. “I can’t believe it’s been almost two years,” I said. “Seems like yesterday, most days.” Maggie blew a kiss toward his memorial marker up on the ridge, then whistled for Samson to get out of her garden. “His method of harvesting beets and carrots makes for a slim crop. He’s got to stop digging holes.” Samson wasn’t the only one digging holes. I looked toward the ridge where we’d scattered Grandpa’s ashes. The shimmy down my spine forced my shoulders back, and I lifted my chin to the breeze. In my mind, my grandmother appeared to be nudging Grandpa out of the way. “You know what, Maggie? I’ll cook.” “You sure? Your last attempt resulted in a near fouralarm fire.” “I’m positive—and thanks for the reminder. I put the last fire out, and I’ll extinguish the ones to come.” I tucked my fingers in my back pockets. A baby might fill Grandpa’s void, but the sole way to make sure his legacy lived on was to take today’s bull by the horns and wrestle it to the ground. I’d dreamed of running
| LINDA BRADLEY | the ranch, not raising a child. I was being given a chance to follow in my grandmother Ida May’s footsteps, which meant it was time to quit bellyaching about what I couldn’t change and do something about the things I could. The McIntyre ranch had an heir on the way, and I was speaking for both of us now.
Don’t miss these titles:
Issue 65 | May/June 2022 |
Shayl McHugh A new world awaits in new novel as author weaves a riveting story where the human world faces different allies and nemesis. Author Shayl McHugh’s publishing debut is a riveting story of friendship, where the snap of fingers can transport readers into a world of intense magic, brutal murder, and unsettling mystery. How will one face the world or fight for something, when there’s nothing left to fight for? Find out as you meet the Ninevere, the powerful, bloodthirsty mutants of the world, hunted by the people who fear them; and discover more interesting and dangerous characters in Poder Omnipotent.
www.McHughBooks.com What’s the hardest thing about being an author? Money has been the hardest part for me. I have no shortage of ideas, or plans on books both present and future, but finding the money to publish books has been a challenge. What is the best thing about being an author? I love writing down stories and putting my world into a physical piece of fiction. I’ve always had these wild ideas, and stories floating around in my head, but there is nothing more pleasant than turning those ideas into something others can see and appreciate. What book changed your life? “I am David” was the very first book I recall falling in love with. it was read to me by my mother, and it was just such a beautiful story, and the memory of 68 | UncagedBooks.com
reading it with my mother is a very beloved memory.
What inspired you to write this book? I had been creating my world with my brother for over a decade now, and writing as a hobby because I enjoy storytelling, but it was my friends that urged me to publish. How would you describe your style of writing to someone that has never read your work? My writing is very story progression-based, with chapters progressing in days or weeks. The first book is spread out over the course of about a year. Do you feel that writing is an ingrained process or just something that flows naturally? For me it is definitely something that flows naturally. I just sit down, and write whatever comes to my head, and if I don’t like it later, I replace it then. What is the take home lesson you wish your readers will learn after reading this book? I just want them to enjoy a new original story. My stories and world have very little inspiration from other books, and because of that everything came straight out of our creativity. There is a depth to the story that most stories don’t have. What books are currently in your to-be-read pile? Whenever I am in the mood to read, I actually end up writing instead, I love writing, and unfortunately, that means I don’t really do a lot of reading. Anything you would like to say to your readers and fans? All I want is for people to enjoy the stories I write, because I love them I really hope that you enjoyed my book, Poder Omnipotent, and if you did, the sequel is very close to completion.
TAN & Charlotte
Charlotte was our Pembroke Welsh Corgi who sadly crossed over the bridge in July 2016. She was a magical creature that entertained us and pulled at our heartstrings endlessly with her whimsy. We loved her terribly and miss her every day.
KARIN & Ranger
LINDA & Maisey
This is Maisey, my rescue and soul sister. When I saw her, I knew we were meant to be. I often wonder—who rescued who? Maisey loves the beach and the sun! She’s a sweet girl who loves raw bones and fish treats. In this picture, I was trying to take a promo photo of my book, Maggie’s Way, and Maisey had become part of the composition before I had the chance to snap a photo.
LANA & Izzy
This is Ranger. He’s a ten-year-old brindle basenji.The breed is originally from Africa, although he’s from Marion, Ohio. He doesn’t bark, but he yodels, whines and very occasionally, howls. He’s my grumpy guy, but he loves to be petted when he’s in the mood and he’s a great cuddler.
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This is our spoiled chocolate lab, Izzy. She is the sweetest, most affectionate dog we’ve ever had. She loves to go on walks and play fetch. But mostly she loves to follow my husband around the garage and the yard. Neighbors walk by with their dogs and she greets them with enthusiasm. She loves ice cream and Twizzlers and we love her dearly.
A U T H O RS A N D T H E I R P E TS Pets and companions come in many shapes and sizes. From furry to feathered to hairy and scaley - there is a place for all of them. Authors have a special relationship with their pets - whether they remind them to get up and take a break or they inspire their writing. Meet the critters that share their love and devotion to Uncaged Feature Authors.
DIANN & Remi
Cyrene & Ink & Quill
Remi is our family dog, and my husband John and I adore her. Remi is a rescue dog, and she is the most loving dog we have ever had. Remi loves to lick, lick, lick you, and if she were not used to her name already, I would have named her Sugar. The vet says she is part blue healer and very smart. Remi is very protective, loves to go on walks, and especially car rides. She has a great sense of smell, and in time we see what she smells …. the deer crossing our yard into the woods. Remi fills our hearts and makes our family complete.
A couple weeks ago, I lost my leopard gecko lizard, Punky, to a freak accident. Since then, I’ve decided to let my daughter be the lizard keeper with our other 2, and I would stick to mammals. With my hamster reaching his golden years, I cleaned and set up the extra aquarium for Ink & Quill, a pair of bonded black gerbils. The lady at the store said they were boys, but they are definitely both girls, but it didn’t matter to me. I brought them home and they are sweet and fun to watch. Since this picture was taken, I have replaced the smaller wheel with a larger one and now all paper towel and toilet paper tubes are saved for our new chew machines. Issue 65 | May/June 2022 |
3-Page Special Promo
iki Leigh is a 35-year-old woman with two beautiful children and a fiancé living in a small town in Ontario. Poetry has been her passion for a very long time throughout her life. Her goal is to reach people that are struggling in their own lives and know that there’s a silver lining. She hopes to give people hope and reassurance that things can get better. The tough times are only temporary.
dandelionsareme.com Dandelions Are Me Kiki Leigh Poetry
From author Kiki Leigh comes a heartfelt rendition of what many people are feeling and thinking behind the smiles they show to the world. In the pages of her new poetry book, Dandelions Are Me, she pens down the sentiments of a mind, heart and soul in pain and struggling. Using her passion for poetry, she hopes to reach as many lives as she can to assure them that difficult times will pass by and better times lie ahead. The author wrote this poem collection about her life. The poems are about the circumstances, situations and challenges that she went through and which she has then overcome. It touches on mental health, addiction issues, and life struggles in general. “If I help one person with this literature I’ve written, then it will be all worth it,” shares the author. She hopes to touch lives through her poems. Accompany the author as she unveils her mental 72 | UncagedBooks.com
struggles and aching sentiments in this new poetry book.
Sample Perfectly Imperfect (page 3)
We are all perfectly imperfect. Nobody is perfect and thatʼs a fact. We do our best to stay on track. All we can do is be our best selves, our most authentic version. Thereʼs nothing wrong with being perfectly imperfect as it makes us all unique. Iʼm not even really sure what perfect is or even if it exists. I think our imperfections and flaws make us exactly who we are. We make mistakes, we live, learn, laugh and love. Specially when life is so tough we learn as we go. We go with the flow, we try to inquire about things we donʼt know. Embrace mistakes because thereʼs lessons to be learned around every corner we turn and every endeavour we embrace, so if you believe youʼre perfect,
youʼre wrong! You are definitely worth it in every way and every day, so keep going strong, keep moving along, because life is unique in its own and we get the privilege to live it.
Have You Ever
through a different lens itʼs only then you can free from the chains and from the mental games that hold you back. When you love yourself authentically and truly for who you are you can reach for the stars. True friends will come your way and true friends will stay and you wonʼt feel hurt and betrayed.
Have you ever had bipolar plus borderline personality disorder? Donʼt forget addiction issues along with all that judgement and the never ending tissues. You get all the right pills, you do all the right drills. It doesnʼt seem to matter, eventually it all just shatters. My mind doesnʼt cooperate on a regular day, itʼs set to a different pace. Its not enough that Iʼm chemically entwined, with no rewind. Always the wrong combination. No medication... Meditation... Relaxation... Can rewire my brain... From this mental pain.
Toxic Relationships (page 75)
Toxic relationships; If the relations make you sick and feel like shit, you are definitely in a toxic environment. Your constantly feel belittled and inadequate. Most donʼt know we are in them because weʼve become accustomed to being used and abused that we donʼt even realize that we are being deceived and manipulated. We think itʼs normal to be going through all this drama and turmoil. But thatʼs not the case at all. Sometimes itʼs easier looking from the outside in then the inside out to see what your relationship is all about. Once you gain some confidence and strength and see Issue 65 | May/June 2022 |
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am Crescent is a USA Today Bestselling author who is obsessed with romance in all forms. She writes about real women with real problems, with the occasional day dream mixed in.
She resides in the UK, and loves creating new exciting characters that take her on a journey she never expected, after all, she’s on a journey she only ever imagined in her wildest fantasies. When she’s not causing chaos in a word document, or arguing with a character (they live inside her head), she can be found causing just as much destruction in her kitchen! She totally needs a personal cleaner. Uncaged welcomes Sam Crescent Welcome to Uncaged! You just released, Claiming Macie, which is the second book in the series, Craved and Claimed. Can you tell readers more about the book and the series? Each book is a short novella, for quick and fun enjoyment. For the series, I wanted to devote it to men who find the women they want, and they crave them, and then claim them, which is why I titled the series, Craved and Claimed. I don’t want to give too many spoilers away, so here is the blurb for Claiming Macie. Wilson Fritz knows the cruelty of the world, and he doesn’t believe in love. Meeting Macie Green changes everything. One chance encounter, and he knows she’ll belong to him forever. He should just walk away, but every time he tries to leave, he goes back for more. Each day that passes, Wilson craves her a little more, and he won’t risk anyone else taking her.
Macie has never been in love, but she realizes Wilson is different. It doesn’t matter that he’s eighteen years older than her. Whenever he’s near, he makes her heart sing. When an enemy from his past threatens his woman, he has no choice but to seek him out in order to protect Macie. He would do anything for her. But when he finds out she’s pregnant, will he leave her to fend for herself, or is this the start of their own fairytale? You also write a couple other long series, can you tell us about those? There are so many. The biggest connected series would have to be The Skulls and Chaos Bleeds series. Both series are dedicated to two MC clubs, that are allies, friends, and family. I think it would be easier to ask me which one you Issue 65 | May/June 2022 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | would like to know more about. This is what I love about writing, as I love the freedom of bringing words together and creating many different characters and worlds. What is the most difficult scene for you to write? What is the easiest? This depends on the book. As an example, in Smokey, there is a scene where the main heroine is attacked by the club. I will not give any spoilers away, but writing that scene, it broke my heart, and even reading it now, the emotions, the pain, the rawness of it, it totally broke me. The easiest scenes, can be the banter between characters, and even the romance as well. I’m a sucker for a romance scene, and the main, I love you scenes. Do you have a favorite character you’ve written? Has there been a character that’s been hard to write about? I absolutely love Devil from my The Skulls and Chaos Bleeds series. He is this strong, caring, hard ass guy, that every time I write him, he makes me smile. I do have several characters that have been difficult. Hardy and Alex from The Skulls. Twisted in Chains was quite difficult. How do you come up with the title to your books? Sometimes, it can be where the book starts. A title just enters my head, and bam, that’s it, I can see the story start to unravel. Sometimes, as I’m writing, it just seems to hit me right off the page. Then others, I have to sit down, and I have a notebook, and I start writing random words that I feel when it comes to the story, and then, I can title a book. What behind-the-scenes tidbit in your life would probably surprise your readers the most? 78 | UncagedBooks.com
I’m a very shy person, and being in crowded places makes me freeze up, and causes me a great deal of anxiety and discomfort. Which comes first, the plot or the characters in the planning stages? For me, it can be anything. A story can develop for me by a single action, even down to eating something. I can see in my mind what a character is thinking, feeling, and why they’re doing in that moment, and a story can develop. It’s one of the many parts I love about writing a story, there is not one strict way to start. Anything can inspire. What are some things you like to do to relax when you aren’t writing or working? I love baking and cooking. It’s why I do end up writing a lot about it in my books. I enjoy watching movies or television series. Taking long walks, and just enjoying life. If you could have one all-year season, which would it be and why? This is a hard one, because I do love all four seasons but I guess, I would have to pick Autumn/ Fall as I feel that has a little of all four sprinkled in. Do you prefer ebooks, audiobooks or physical books? Are you reading anything now? I love all these, but I’m not reading or listening to anything at the moment, and never do while I’m focusing on a story, which is pretty much most of the time. What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? Thank you all so much for taking a chance on my books. I always love hearing from my readers, and if you ever want to contact me, you can reach me in the links down below.
Enjoy an excerpt from Size Matters Size Matters Sam Crescent Crime Thriller Romance Maddie French is used to being ignored, always told she’d never be good enough. When another date is a no-show, she decides to swear off all men. After taking over from his father as the prez of the Chaos and Carnage MC, Bull’s priorities have been focused in keeping everyone alive. Now’s the time for him to go after the woman he wants—Maddie. Only, she doesn’t even realize how badly he wants her. Bull is determined to show her she’s worth everything, and he won’t take no for an answer. Maddie agrees to one date with him, and little by little, he fills her heart, getting beneath her skin. When an enemy tries to take over his turf, Maddie is attacked. The only thing Bull can do to keep her safe is to push her away, to hurt her in the most painful way. Bull can try to win her back, but he may have lost the love of his life. He broke her heart, but she will find it in her power to build herself up? Excerpt “Never seen you like this, Prez. Got to wonder.”
| SAM CRESCENT | “I’m always focused. It’s the job that comes first. You know this.” Pat sighed. “What?” “You ever thought about fucking her and then moving on?” Pat asked. “Not up for discussion. Not with you or with anyone else.” Pat shrugged. “You know the guys will test her, right? They’ll want to know if she is even worthy of being with you.” “They can steer clear.” “They’ve got your back, Prez.” “Get to work, Pat. I don’t have time for chitchat.” Bull was very much aware of what the boys were capable of doing, but he wasn’t going to allow them to come to the shop to scare her off. He hadn’t made any declaration when it came to Maddie French. She was a woman he found attractive. He liked looking at her, and now he’d given her a job. There was nothing more to it. Glancing back toward the shop, he caught sight of her swatting at something. She flung her arm back and forth, and then stood ramrod straight, closed her eyes, and whispered something. He smiled. She opened her eyes, looking right at him. “Spider,” she said. “A big one?” “A massive one.” “You got it though.” She nodded. The slight jerk of her head. He laughed. “I’m sure there are more where that one came from.” He winked at her and pulled his overalls on. With the years spent underneath a car, and oil and grease covering him, he’d lost too many clothes to count. Laundry wasn’t a job he enjoyed doing. The overalls helped. He went to the first car and tried to ignore the compulsion he had to go and check on Maddie. Every now and then, he’d hear another scream, which made him jerk. Time passed, and when he heard the vacuum, he didn’t pause for a second except to look toward Pat, who shrugged. By lunchtime, customers started to arrive, but none of them went into the main reception, not that it was a surprise. The place was known to be so damn messy, no one wanted to go there. He met them near the entrance of the main shop, wiping the grease off his hands. The first customer was Mr. Riley. “If you follow me, I’ll get your keys and the final cost,” Bull said. Issue 65 | May/June 2022 |
eatrice Fairbanks Cayzer comes from an illustrious family. Her two ancestors who came to Upper Virginia in 1620 helped found their community. She founded the Cayzer Museum for Children in England where she was the wife of Stanley Cayzer, a grandson of Sir Charles Cayzer, founder of shipping companies that evolved into Caledonia Investments, and nephew of Admiral Lord Jellicoe, the second Governor General of New Zealand. Then she turned into writing. In Oxfordshire, she wrote The Princes and the Princesses of Wales. In Guernsey, she wrote The Royal World of Animals. Returning to the USA, she wrote nine Rick Harrow novels, winning Book of the Year Award from the Horseracing Writers’ Association. In 2016, she had a sell out with The Secret Diary of Mrs. John Quincy Adams and in 2018 had another sell out with New Tales of Palm Beach.
Kidnapped in Jerusalem
Beatrice Fairbanks Cayzer Psychological Fiction Dennis McLeary, sexually abused at age 6. At 18, he accepts sexual advances of a 14 year-old girl hoping to prove to himself that he is a normal man. Jailed for 17 years for having sex with the under-age girl, he is abused in prison by fellow inmates and the prison chaplain. Free at 35, he determines to better himself and hopes to have a normal marriage. Ensnared in a messy event, he escapes more prison time by becoming a waiter on a passengerfreighter. He gets leave from his ship to swim in Turkish waters, where he meets and falls in love with Myriam al-Montee, a half-Turkish half-Saudi Arabian Muslim woman. Instant adora-tion is reciprocated. Myriam elopes with Dennis, they are married by his ship’s captain. Myriam does 80 | UncagedBooks.com
not tell Dennis that her fanatical father, who hopes to use her to found his dynasty, is known to behead any person showing fondness for her. When three women are beheaded at her father’s orders, she warns Dennis, he could be next. They hide from her father in Alexandria and in Cairo, but are located by her fa-ther’s agents in Jerusalem. Kidnapped, Myriam is brought to her father in Saudi Arabia. He orders her locked in a cell-like room in a desert house where recently a cousin has starved to death. After three months, she get help and relieved by Alf, an Oil field worker. He tries to rape her. Dennis, agonizing for her, would travel any where including to a country where they would behead him in order to reach Myriam. They find each other near a famous oasis in time to stop Alf from raping Myriam. But fate holds more vicious challenges.
Amazon Customer Reviews ~ ~ Ladybella ~ ~ “After reading this manuscript, I can say that I fell in love with Louisa Adams. She was a strong individual whose life story needed to be told. Louisa Adams made an impact. I couldn’t put the book down. A must read.” I have never been to Morocco until reading this BOOK. What a wonderful trip it took me through. The mysterious possibilities that the characters of this story endure are nail-biting. This is truly a masterpiece that will enthrall all mystery and vampire fans. I highly recomend reading this masterpiece. I loved it. ~ ~ Samira Sowan ~ ~ “The author Beatrice succeeded to keep the reader thrilled to read every page in her book and to take us through the journey of the unique character of Louise and live the era of the 1700 and 1800.in such a fascinating way. I definitely enjoyed every page in this compelling story. A must read..” ~ ~ VIV ~ ~ “Reader observes as main personages meet the ups and downs that bruise those on the top level yet took to heart the enormous wrongs done to slaves in America and went into battle” THE HARROW QUARTET takes the reader to many unusual places because the narrator Rick Harrow is a racehorse trainer, and a trainer has to bring his horses to the most likely tracks to win. The reader goes to Dubai, Russia’s St. Petersburg, romantic villages in Italy, tycoon homes and estates of the newly rich in Spain, and the wilds of Mexico’s most inaccesssble mountains as well as to its over-crowded and dangerous capital city.The characters vary from a Chechen terrorist to Milan’s exquisite models, to the wild west drug lords of today’s Mexico. ~ ~ Anthony Roberts ~ ~ Inspiring story of a great lady.
globe from one extravagant horse exhibition to the next, and finding trouble wherever they go. Cayzer’s prose is filled with vibrant imagery, plenty of action, and enough hanky-panky to make a sailor blush. These stories are great fun, and will have you coming back for more. Fans of any of the modern detective series found on BBC/PBS will feel right at home. Don’t be surprised if these adventures are turned into their own small-screen production. Enjoy! ~ ~ Cathryn Elwyn ~ ~ It’s not every day that jockeying, an estate in the British countryside, and a complication involving the president of Russia figure in one story, but best-selling author Beatrice Fairbanks Cayzer is nothing if unpredictable. Deaths, conspiracies, and . . . a threat to beloved Happy’s life? This has got to be BFC’s best yet. ~ ~ Brett Virgo ~ ~ I just finished reading this wonderful book. I was so hooked I could not put it down. I highly recomend this Murder Mystery. It will not disappoint. Each chapter draws you in, that you have to keep on reading. I am eager to see what BF Cayzer will come up with next. ~ ~ DEE ~ ~ Murder by Medicine is a deliciously delightful book that reminds everyone of how wonderful London can be, during the Season. The descriptive scenes take you there with intrigue and GLAMOUR! Horses, men and murder are an intoxicating read in the hands of B. F. Cayzer. Without a doubt, Murder by Medicine is one of the best books that I have read. It is a perfect gift for any stylish acquaintance or be wickedly selfish and keep it all to yourself! ~ ~ Cathy ~ ~ If you like murder mysteries, this is a great book to read. It brings you into the horse people who have their own ideas of life. It travels from Ethiopia to England with fast paced action. Do read.
~ ~ garbonzo ~ ~ Here is another installment from Beatrice Cayzer’s fabulous series featuring Happy and Rick Harrow. Travel with them as the traipse across the Issue 65 | May/June 2022 |
3-Page Special Promo
aiden Calhoun is sixteen years old and just trying to find his thing. He hopes to help many people, mostly teens, find the strength to find help. He encourages being open with loved ones and wanted to show that just because people can’t see something, doesn’t mean a struggle isn’t happening. The author hopes that this book will show people that they aren’t alone. The Little Things Jaiden Calhoun YA Fiction Follow Jamison, a suicidal teen, who is physically abused by his father, emotionally manipulated by his mother, and bullied incessantly in school. He still wants to live but everything has become unbearable so he thought of jumping off a cliff in a remote spot. What he was not expecting is a Mystery Boy who appeared just in time, before he was about to jump. He didn’t know who the mystery boy is, but somehow, he’s saved by him. They only meet at night, the cliff becoming their spot. Who is this Mystery Boy and will Jamison ever get to jump?
BOOK EXCERPT pages 41-43 Card Game
The night was colder than usual, but Jamison still found it to be perfect, especially because he didn’t see Nerdy Boy waiting for him. He enjoyed Nerdy Boy’s company sure, but that didn’t mean he could always handle the boy’s bubbly personality or how energetic he was. Tonight, if he were being honest with himself, was more of a night he would spend with Mystery Boy. He wanted calmness and silence. The blood dripping from his eyebrow was aggravating enough as it was, and he didn’t think he could handle the energy Nerdy Boy gives off. He had a great deal to tell the stars, but for now he sat at the edge of the cliff and looked off into the night sky, noting how there are less stars out tonight than the last. He wiped the blood away from his eye, licked his lip, and felt the wind brush past him for the fif-teenth time. He had been counting; it was keeping him occupied. He coughed, spitted his mucus and bloodmixed spittle off the cliff, and tried to follow it down with his eyes. He lost sight of it before it reached halfway but kept his eyes there.
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“I found dad this morning. He was passed out on the couch while a naked woman looked around our home. She was either looking for her or trying to steal something. I kicked her out before I could tell.” Jamison looked at the stars, then back at the city below. His heart felt heavy, and disgust was also laced somewhere in there. He hated his dad for doing that and was sure it wouldn’t be the last time it happened. “At school, a few of the soccer players decided to use me as their personal ball. The teacher didn’t even bat and eye at them and started class as soon as she came into the classroom. This was just in first period. During lunch, some guy punched me in the jaw. I thought it was broken for second. I got pushed down the stairs, almost twisted my ankle, and then got in trouble for knocking into a glass and breaking it. It wasn’t even my fault it happened.” He sniffled, wiped his face ferociously and then continued. “I walked to work with a limp. But by time I got there, it went away, at least I was numb from the pain. People questioned me, but I just made a bullshit story, and that stopped them from talking. The same happened at my other two jobs.” He looked up into the sky, and another breeze passed him, cooling his cheeks from the hot tears that slowly fell down. He felt like everyone was against him. He couldn’t get a break at home, at school, and barely got one at work. If it wasn’t his boss asking questions, it was his coworkers; if it wasn’t his coworkers, it was the customers. He thought they just wanted to tease him by asking the questions; in reality, they were all genu-inely worried. He thought they weren’t because he was used to people not caring about him, and even though it was only a short distance away from his town, this town had much nicer people. He could sense that, but he
couldn’t believe it. It was too good to be true. “On my way here, after I stopped by the house to drop off my bag, some guy from my school punched me. He had a ring on, and it cut my eyebrow open a bit. He laughed, and I carried on my way.” He sniffled, looked past his small town and into the darkness behind it, and then let out a chocked sob. “Why won’t they leave me alone?” Silence. He knew he would be met with silence. He was expecting to be. He was alone after all, and yet that didn’t comfort him like before. He didn’t know if it was because he was now used to Mystery Boy and Nerdy Boy or if he was so far gone that nothing was comforting to him anymore, but he wanted it to stop. He took out his phone, picked a random playlist, and put the volume so low he could hardly hear it. It was just used as a filler as he stared into the dark-blue abyss we call the sky. His tears were hot, and yet the wind that passed him every few minutes made it seem as though it was freezing outside. He didn’t care to wipe them away. His body was tired, his mind was exhausted, and he really just wanted to sleep. That was why he stood up, keeping his eyes trained behind the glow of the city below, and let the tears fall down his cheeks while he stepped closer to the edge. He could tell the stars about how every customer that came in greeted him with a smile and how all the kids wanted to hear all about the awe-some fight he had so he could make it to work on time, but he wanted to sleep, and what better to do that then make sure he can never wake? One more step, and it would all be over, Issue 65 | May/June 2022 |
just one step. “Hope you’re doing better, Mom.” And he fell. He fell, and when his back hit the ground, he let out a cry of frustration. Mystery Boy was stand-ing over him like he was the day it was pouring down rain, only this time water didn’t drip into Jamison’s eyes. They stared at each other. Mystery Boy for some reason, amused; and Jamison, with frustration. Jamison watched as the taller boy walked around him to stand in front of his legs, reaching his hands down, ready for Jamison to grab them. Jamison hesitated, decided it was worth it, and then brought his hands to lazily grip onto Mystery Boy’s. His hands were slightly calloused, like he was do-ing field work or maybe skateboarding. The thumbs were the most calloused. They stared at each other, Jamison’s eyes shifting up to look Mystery Boy in the eye, and that was how they stayed for a minute. Jamison had questions swarming in his head, and Mystery Boy had his own, but neither would ask.
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Pastor DonR. vining Becoming a Christian is a lifelong journey. Every person must find Christ (Salvation) for him- or herself It is more than just saying “I accept Jesus Christ as my savior” during baptism or rebirth ceremony. Having shouted those words out loud does not necessarily give one person an assurance of salvation and redemption. It is actually just the beginning. And the very moment those words are uttered, real work towards real Christianity begins. It is more than just a prayer one says in their heads. More than just the exclamation of “Amen” at every invocation. Salvation: It’s Not What I Thought It Was is a book that details the usual misconceptions in becoming a Christian and what are the things needed to be done to prepare one’s self in this lifelong journey. Becoming a Christian is a rebirth in one’s heart to dedicate one’s life in following Jesus Christ—the only Salvation. For book order/s, you may reach Don at email@example.com
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About the Author Author Don R. Vining is a husband for forty-one years, a father for thirty-eight years, a business owner for forty years and an entrepreneur for forty-five years. But more than those, he has also been a pastor for over thirty years and going on living as a true Christian. Now that he’s also an author, he is still dedicated to giving awareness of what true Christianity is and how long it takes to be a Christian.
Salvation: It’s Not What I Thought It Was by Pastor Don R. Vining had been exhibited in
2022 London Book Fair on Apr 05, 2022 - Apr 07, 2022
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ana Williams is a USA Today Bestselling Author with over thirty historical romances filled with mystery, adventure, and a pinch of paranormal to stir things up. Filled with a love of books from an early age, Lana put pen to paper and decided happy endings were a must in any story she created. Her latest series is The Rogue Chronicles, featuring rogues in the Regency era who meet their match in the most delightful way. The Seven Curses of London series is set in Victorian times and shares stories of men and women who attempt to battle the ills of London and the love they find along the way that truly gives them something worth fighting for.
Uncaged welcomes Lana Williams Welcome to Uncaged! Can you tell us more about Once Upon a Duke’s Wish? This is book one in a series, can you tell us how the series will connect? Thank you so much for having me!! Once Upon a Duke’s Wish starts off The Duke’s Lost Treasures series, which is about three sisters whose father dies while searching for buried treasure on Oak Island in Nova Scotia. With nothing left for them on the island, Ella Wright brings her two younger sisters to London with the hope of reuniting with their estranged grandfather, the Duke of Rothwell. However, their grandfather appears less than happy to see them. To make matters worse, their father’s journal which they brought with them is stolen. Enter Leo, the Earl of Marbury, who has an unexpected connection to Ella and the duke. The next two books in the series will release soon and share the stories of the other two sisters.
What is the most difficult scene for you to write? What is the easiest? I think story openings can be a challenge! It’s tricky to balance empathetic heroes and heroines with all the details about their past and their current situation yet make it intriguing. Too much backstory weighs the opening down. Then there’s the setting and character descriptions to add in. I work hard to make my openings compelling before I move on to the rest of the book. The easiest scenes for me are the ones packed with emotion and angst. Those come to me in a rush, especially when I know the characters well. Do you have a favorite character you’ve written? Has there been a character that’s been hard to write about? One of my favorite characters to write was Grace from Rescuing the Earl. She’s a widow and a mother of a young boy (something I can relate to as we Issue 65 | May/June 2022 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | have two sons) and they are in dire straits. She’s stronger than she thinks, and I loved helping her slowly realize that. One of the most difficult characters to write was Mary Adams from A Rogue’s Christmas Kiss. She had a terrible past, having been thrown in a brothel and kept there for several weeks. It was a challenge to not make the story too dark yet honor how that experience might have affected her and her ability to find love.
How do you come up with the title to your books? Great question! I like the titles to make it clear the book is historical and reflect the idea of the story. In Once Upon a Duke’s Wish, the duke, who is the grandfather in the story, is featured in the opening scene and he makes a wish. Little does he know what is about to happen. LOL What behind-the-scenes tidbit in your life would probably surprise your readers the most? I am a creature of habit and thrive on routine. I love working from home and have found that sticking to my daily habits allow me to stay healthy (as I exercise each day) and accomplish my writing goals. Also, I like to change where I write. Thank goodness for my laptop! Some days I work in my office and other days I work in a chair in our bedroom. I love to write outside when the weather permits. Which comes first, the plot or the characters in the planning stages? The characters come first along with a hint of the conflict. Soon after, the opening scene comes to mind and the plot soon follows. I don’t start writing until I have a general idea of where the book is going. While I don’t plot in great detail, I like to have a clear path to follow as I write. What are some things you like to do to relax when you aren’t writing or working?
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I enjoy reading, hiking, camping, and baking (especially chocolate chip cookies, although my cheesecake is pretty good too!).
If you could have one all-year season, which would it be and why? I wouldn’t want just one! I love the changing seasons, especially here in Colorado. Spring is just now arriving and it’s marvelous to watch the trees and plants start to bloom. The heat of summer is lovely. The colors of autumn are gorgeous as is the crisp air. And winter brings a blanket of snow that freshens everything up. Each season has a different feeling and I enjoy the changes. Do you prefer ebooks, audiobooks or physical books? Are you reading anything now? I mostly read ebooks for convenience. But it is nice to step away from electronic devices and read a physical book, especially before bed. Is there anything better than the smell of books when you walk into a library? I’m currently reading The River Knows by Amanda Quick. I love her historicals with their hint of mystery and intrigue. What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? I love hearing from readers, and I can’t wait for you to check out Once Upon a Duke’s Wish. My husband and I have watched the Curse of Oak Island on the History Channel for years and the idea for this story came to me while watching one of the episodes that talked about a father who’d died in one of the shafts. It got me wondering how that would affect his children.
| LANA WILLIAMS |
Enjoy an excerpt from Once Upon a Duke’s Wish Once Upon a Duke’s Wish Lana Williams Historical Romance Releases May 17 An earl shadowed by the past meets a lady determined to start anew.
Ella Wright brings her two younger sisters to London after the tragic death of their treasure-hunting father on Oak Island, hoping to secure their futures. But the city presents new challenges, the first of which is convincing their estranged grandfather, the intimidating Duke of Rothwood, to take them in. Then their father’s journal detailing his search for pirate treasure is stolen, and Ella has no idea who to trust. Leo Stanton, the Earl of Marbury, is alarmed when he hears three ladies claiming to be Rothwood’s granddaughters have arrived in London. Fearing the man who’s been like a grandfather to him is being taken advantage of, he rushes to Rothwood’s side to find three beauties under his roof and their father’s questionable scribbles missing. Given Leo’s expertise in pirate artifacts, the duke requests his assistance to find the stolen journal. Leo reluctantly agrees, though he thinks Ella’s father was a fool. While he can’t ignore his resentment of past events, one heated kiss with Ella convinces him that more is at stake than a notebook. Ella knows the pain pursuing a dream can cause, yet her growing attraction for Leo can’t be denied. Dare she trust him in her quest to regain Issue 65 | May/June 2022 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | her father’s journal along with her love, or will fate demand payment for the past? Excerpt Chapter One London, England April 1875 “I wish...” Leo Stanton, the Earl of Marbury waited for the Duke of Rothwood, a man who was like a grandfather to him, to finish the thought, yet only the crackling fire echoed in the duke’s quiet study. The two men had enjoyed dinner together, something Leo tried to do every week or two in order to help assuage the duke’s obvious loneliness. They now sat in massive wingback leather chairs before the fire, brandies in hand. Rothwood’s melancholy this evening suited Leo. They both knew what the date was—the fourth of April. A day that had affected them both deeply. The thirtieth anniversary of the duke’s daughter’s wedding day and the last time he’d seen her. It had been the last day of happiness for Leo’s late father, as well. He was the groom she’d left standing at the altar, waiting for the love of his life, who had never come. Lady Bethany, the duke’s daughter, had chosen to elope with David Wright, an adventurer she’d met at a garden party a month prior. The pair had married in Scotland, then soon after, sailed to the wilds of Nova Scotia to a little-known place called Oak Island in search of buried treasure. “I wish my life had turned out differently.” Rothwood at last finished his thought as he stared into the flames. “I know, Your Grace.” All Leo could offer was understanding and sympathy. He couldn’t change the past any more than he could predict the future. Leo’s father had eventually married for convenience and been content at times but never happy. Something he made no effort to hide, even for the sake of his wife and son. Lady Bethany’s death had been reported to the duke some five years ago, though he’d never acknowledged her marriage. Oddly enough, Leo’s father had passed away that same year. Whether 94 | UncagedBooks.com
the explorer with whom Lady Bethany had eloped still lived remained a mystery. The duke claimed not to care, but Leo wondered if he was as curious as Leo. As a member of the Royal Geological Society and an expert on pirate lore, Leo had heard rumors of David Wright’s efforts as recently as two years past, suggesting he was alive. It gave Leo great pleasure to advise the other interested members of the Society that Wright had dug in the wrong place. Discrediting the man seemed the least he could do both for the duke and for his own father. “You might’ve been my grandson.” The duke swirled the brandy before taking a drink, then meeting Leo’s gaze. Leo never knew what to say at moments like this. Regret served no purpose. Lady Bethany had departed years ago, and nothing could change that truth. Yet he knew how lonely the duke was. The difficult past had aged him. Did Rothwood wish he hadn’t cut ties with his only child? He needed family and a purpose. Preferably both. Something to keep him from dwelling on the past. “I would’ve been honored to call you grandfather,” Leo spoke with sincerity for it was true. He’d inherited his friendship with the duke from his father. The late earl had maintained a close relationship with the man he’d expected to become his father-inlaw, even if that hadn’t come to pass. Leo and the duke had deepened their ties through their shared interest in exploration. Leo’s mother thought their friendship odd and was often exasperated by it. Rothwood’s brother, his only sibling, lived in the country and rarely visited London. The duke’s nephew and heir apparent lived abroad and hadn’t been heard from in years. But no purpose would be served in dwelling on the grim future of the duchy this evening when Rothwood was already in poor spirits. Leo finished his brandy, searching for an uplifting thought to share before he took his leave. “Sometimes our wishes are fulfilled when we least expect it. And in unexpected ways.” “That sounds more like a curse than words of comfort,” the duke countered, though he chuckled as Leo stood. “Thank you for coming by. I shall see you at the next Society meeting.” “I look forward to it.” Leo and Rothwood both served on the council of the Royal Geological Society, which concerned itself with exploration of all types, including treasure hunting. Leo had dabbled in it himself in his earlier days but
| LANA WILLIAMS | now preferred to sort through and analyze the information received from the comfort of his home. He enjoyed the challenge of investigating the various theories and lending his expertise, focusing on history to determine what was likely to be true or merely a rumor. Inviting the duke to become a member of the council had been an excellent idea, as he had considerable resources, as well as knowledge to offer. It also had the added benefit of catching the duke’s interest and easing his loneliness. Rothwood’s passion for exploring the world might have been partially to blame for his daughter’s interest in a treasure hunter, as she had shared that same interest, according to Leo’s father. Leo did indeed wish the Duke of Rothwood was his grandfather, as they had much in common. But as he’d said, regrets served no purpose. He intended to make certain his life held as few as possible. When he eventually married, it would be to a woman he respected and admired. Love was not a requirement. In fact, he hoped never to experience romantic love. That emotion only caused pain. His marriage would be more of a business partnership. Happiness was best pursued in his work, not in his personal life. “I’m meeting Viscount Worley at the dock tomorrow morning. He’s returning from Africa with several artifacts that will require study.” The light of interest that filled Rothwood’s eyes comforted Leo. “I look forward to hearing more.” “As soon as I know the details, I’ll be in touch. Thank you again for dinner.” With that, Leo took his leave. He had to wonder if Lady Bethany and David Wright had any idea of the damage they’d left in their wake. Had the love they’d found been worth the hurt they’d caused others? Leo shook his head. That was a question to which he’d never know the answer. ~*~ Ella Wright glanced about the crowded, chaotic dock in London as she and her two sisters disembarked from the Campania, her breath hitching. She wondered not for the first time if she’d made a terrible mistake. She had convinced her sisters to leave the only home they’d known, and for what? A grandfather who had never acknowledged their existence. A city that looked anything but welcoming. A country that was not their own. And a future that now seemed more uncertain than
ever. The harsh shriek of a steam whistle rent the air as if mocking her. The weight of it all caused her to stagger on the gangway, the world shifting beneath her feet. For once, the steamship that had traversed the Atlantic was not the cause. “Are you well, Ella?” Norah, her younger sister by four years, asked. Trust Norah to notice her upset. As the middle child at one and twenty, she was the observant, even-tempered, peacemaker of the family. Ella nodded, determined to keep a positive outlook, even if it was only a mask. After all, what choice did she have? Nothing remained for them on Oak Island in Nova Scotia. She could only hope there was something—anything—for them in London. Their mother had died five years past of smallpox and their father six months, two weeks, and three days ago. The thought of them brought heavy grief she and her sisters continued to feel, made even worse by the unknown way their father had died. The worry over what his last minutes had been like in the shaft he’d dug kept Ella awake at night. David Wright had been enamored with treasure hunting his entire life. When rumors of pirate gold buried on the small island in Nova Scotia had caught his notice, he’d become obsessed with discovering all he could. His excitement had piqued the interest of a lady he’d just met, Lady Bethany, the only child of the Duke of Rothwood. According to the stories their mother had shared, it had been love at first sight. Yet Ella could imagine how hard it must’ve been for her mother to leave behind her father, the duke, and his expectations—not to mention the man to whom she’d been betrothed, her friends, and the elegant life she’d led. How brave her mother had been, though Ella knew many thought her foolhardy. London was not so distant from Nova Scotia that she’d escaped the notoriety that had followed her because of her actions. Ella and her sisters had experienced some of that same speculation on the rare occasions they’d traveled to Montreal, Quebec, and other large towns in the area with their parents. The feeling of being watched with curiosity, as if they were an exhibit in a zoo was unpleasant, to say the Issue 65 | May/June 2022 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | least. Unfortunately, she feared they’d have to endure more of that in London. “What’s taking so long?” Lena, the youngest of the three sisters at the age of nineteen years, leaned back and forth, then lifted on her toes in an attempt to see over the heads of the passengers before them on the gangway. “Patience, my dear,” Ella responded, more out of habit than with the hope of placating her. “Everyone is as eager to set foot on land as we are.” Lena was rarely still—as if she couldn’t contain the energy inside her. Though their journey on the ship had been only two weeks, it had felt much longer, especially to Lena. Ella knew the months leading up to it had also made her sister restless. The decision to move to London had come soon after their father’s death. It had taken a few months to settle their father’s affairs, make the arrangements for the trip, sort through their belongings to determine what to take, sell what they could, then pack the rest. Ella had managed to find an older woman to serve as a suitable chaperone. Mrs. Whitsome, a widow traveling to London to stay with her sister, had been a blessing. The last evening on the ship had been a celebratory one with many of the passengers in high spirits. Ella had been happy, as well, until she and Mrs. Whitsome had returned to their room to find their belongings upended as if they’d been searched. Had someone been hoping to find items of value? Or had they been looking for something specific? The latter thought had her clutching her reticule tighter, for hidden inside was her father’s journal detailing his search for treasure, as well as a few artifacts he’d found. Thank goodness she’d kept it close since they’d begun their journey, or they’d have little left by which to remember him. Luckily, nothing appeared to be missing. With Mrs. Whitsome’s assistance, she’d managed to put their room back in place before her sisters saw the mess. They were worried enough about the move to London without making it worse. If Ella had received a reply to her letter from their grandfather, the journey would’ve been easier. But the worry that he’d simply refuse them entrance placed a knot in Ella’s stomach that made it difficult to function. Between grief and fear, she felt terribly fragile. Norah glanced back at her again, her bright blue 96 | UncagedBooks.com
eyes filled with worry. “Where will we stay if the duke won’t see us?” She whispered the question to keep Lena from hearing. “He’ll see us,” Ella promised. “We won’t leave until he does.” Norah managed a small smile. “You think because we all look so much like Mother, he won’t be able to deny our identity.” “Exactly.” Ella was counting on that fact. They all had the same blonde hair and heart-shaped faces, even if their eye color varied. How could he possibly suggest they weren’t their mother’s daughters? But from what little her mother had shared prior to her death, they would be better off not mentioning their father, as the duke had disapproved from the moment he’d met him. Father had not been a peer, merely the son of a wealthy merchant, and therefore, beneath the duke’s notice. Ella had difficulty understanding how any of that mattered. Shouldn’t one’s merit be based on one’s actions and strength of character? She feared her opinion on the issue would make her fit in even less with their grandfather and the society in which he moved. At last, they reached the end of the gangway and stepped onto solid land. But the chaos there was even worse than it had looked from the ship. Wagons and carts piled high with timber, barrels, boxes, and bales moved past. Masses of people— mainly men—hurried by, some dressed in soldiers’ uniforms, many sailors with their odd gait, and numerous clerks clutching papers. One could barely move through the throng. “What is that terrible smell?” Norah asked, pressing the back of her gloved hand against her nose. “I believe it’s London,” Ella replied. A briny scent stung her nostrils, along with the smell of rotting fish, coal smoke, and a myriad of other odors that were foreign compared to the clean air in which they’d previously lived. A haze hung over the city like an old woman clutching a dirty shawl around her shoulders. Did it always look and smell like this? The thought was terribly depressing. “This way to collect our baggage,” Mrs. Whitsome said and led them to where it was being unloaded. Lena and Norah followed with Ella directly behind. “Miss Wright.” Ella turned to see Julius Conway, a kind gentleman near her age who’d befriended them on the ship. “Mr. Conway, how nice to have the chance to bid you goodbye.”
| LANA WILLIAMS | “Pray, do not tell me it will be goodbye.” He offered the charming smile he so often wore. The handsome man, who seemed to have a far better and definitely brighter wardrobe than she, had been friendly during the journey and helped to keep them all in good spirits. Ella smiled, resisting the urge to advise him that his attempt at charm was wasted on her. She had no intention of allowing anyone to sway her from her goal of seeing her sisters settled. “I despair at the thought of not seeing you or your lovely sisters again soon,” he continued. “I have grown rather attached to the three of you.” She easily dismissed the compliment, as he gave them so frequently. Did she dare ask whether his room had been searched? It was impossible to know who to trust. Perhaps it was best if she didn’t trust anyone. “It has been a pleasure traveling with you, sir. I hope our paths cross again soon.” She glanced over her shoulder, realizing she’d lost sight of Norah and Lena, as well as Mrs. Whitsome. “But for now, I must find my sisters.” “Of course. Good luck with your new beginning.” He tipped his hat and strode away. A new beginning. Yes, that was what this was. But rather than greet it with excitement, only worry filled her. She turned and searched the throng, hoping to see Norah or Lena. As she eased forward with no sight of them, panic clutched her chest. She craned her neck this way and that, to no avail, only to be jolted from behind, sending her tumbling into another. “Pardon me.” The deep voice, along with the steadying hands on her arms, had Ella stiffening in alarm. “My apologies, sir.” Filled with remorse at having plowed into him, she glanced up at the man, her attention immediately caught. He was striking—so tall and handsome, well dressed in a fine black wool suit with a close fit that emphasized his broad shoulders. “The fault is mine.” His hazel eyes with green and gold flecks regarded her with a cool reserve. “I was looking for someone.” They both said the phrase at the same time. Ella smiled, as did the man, which warmed his expression along with his eyes. “It appears you dropped this.” He reached behind her to retrieve her reticule, then brushed it off before handing it to her. “Have you just arrived?” Her heart thudded at the idea of nearly having lost it. “Yes. On the Campania.”
“Ah.” He nodded. “My friend is arriving on a different ship.” He looked to the side, giving her a view of his profile. Black eyebrows arched over wide eyes. A straight nose and high cheekbones lent a chiseled appearance to his features. His dark hair was clipped short and just visible beneath his hat. Broad shoulders and a thick chest were at odds with his fine attire. The white linen of his shirt was starched perfectly, his tie knotted with precision. All of which made her even more aware of her rather bedraggled appearance. “Did you have a good voyage from...” His voice trailed off as if he waited for her to assist him. “Nova Scotia.” A light of interest sparkled in those intriguing eyes. “That must’ve been quite the journey.” “It was indeed.” The urge to share a few details took her by surprise. The man was a stranger, albeit a handsome, well-attired one. Yet he looked so capable and confident. How lovely it would be to share her burden with someone who looked as if he could deal with any adversity that came his way. “Who are you in search of?” He studied her, making her feel as if she had his undivided attention and causing a shiver of awareness to run along her skin. Ella blinked, annoyed with herself for having forgotten for even a moment what she was about. “My sisters who traveled with me.” “Allow me to assist you. My height is occasionally good for something.” He glanced around, then smiled. “I can see two rather worried young ladies who share your beauty standing beside several bags. Might that be them?” Ella’s face heated with his casual compliment. “More than likely.” He offered his arm. “After running you over, the least I can do is assist you in wading through this crowd to reach them.” Touched by his kindness, she took his arm. “Thank you so much. How nice to be welcomed to London with such gallantry.” “Is this your first time here?” “Yes.” “I do hope you won’t judge the city by the chaos of the dock.” He paused his stride to allow a dockworker hauling crates to pass before continuing forward. Issue 65 | May/June 2022 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | “If you’re suggesting it becomes better, I would be pleased to believe you.” She tucked her reticule more securely under her arm, reassured by the weight of her father’s journal and the other items it held. “It does. I promise.” He offered a smile with his pledge, his teeth as perfect as the rest of him. “We shall see. In all honesty, I’m not certain of our welcome here.” “Oh?” He lifted one of those elegant brows as he glanced at her. She shook her head, not wanting to explain. “The story is a complicated, one that I’m sure would only bore you.” “I can’t imagine any stories you tell would be boring.” Ella’s breath caught at the hint of admiration in his eyes as he held her gaze. For goodness’ sake. What was wrong with her? Since when was her head turned by any man, even one who brought to mind a medieval knight from one of the stories their mother used to read to them? It was just that she was off-balance, worried about what was to come as much as she was burdened by recent events. She gave herself a mental shake as they joined her sisters and Mrs. Whitsome. “Ella. What happened to you?” Norah asked, her eyes wide with worry. “One moment you were behind us and the next you’d disappeared.” But her expression softened as she took in Ella’s escort. “I’m here now thanks to the kindness of a stranger.” She nodded at the gentleman as she released his arm. Something about the jostling crowd had her gripping her reticule even tighter. It couldn’t be the loss of the handsome man’s assistance that caused her to feel so uncertain. “The pleasure has been mine.” The man bowed, then turned to her sisters and bowed again. “Enjoy your time in London.” “Thank you,” Ella managed as those hazel eyes fastened once more on her. Then in the blink of an eye, he was gone. “Who was that?” Mrs. Whitsome asked. “No introductions were made,” Ella said. “Very handsome,” Lena whispered as she stared after him. “And tall,” Norah added. “He was dressed so finely. Do you think he was a lord?” Guilt filled Ella. The thought hadn’t crossed her 98 | UncagedBooks.com
mind. “I hope not, or I might’ve offended him by not properly addressing him.” “He didn’t seem offended.” Lena patted her arm. “Besides, it’s not as if you’ll ever see him again.” “True.” Ella had more important things to worry over, such as whether the duke would even bother to meet them. “Let us call on our grandfather.” “There’s a hackney cab stand just over there,” Mrs. Whitsome advised. “Why don’t we share one, and I’ll see you to your grandfather’s home before I’m on my way.” Ella nodded, then straightened her shoulders and told herself she was ready for whatever was to come. There was no argument the Duke of Rothwood could present that would dissuade her from insisting that he take them in. Leo had never met Lady Bethany, of course. He wouldn’t have the same ehat one of Leo’s favorite pieces echoed in the distance didn’t soften the distrust that filled him.
Don’t miss this title:
Releases June 7
All proceeds to benefit humanitarian relief in Ukraine.
A Classic Holiday Favorite Retold
Author writes charming a version of “The Night Before Christmas” Author Richard Sills draws from his experience as a former teacher of elementary classes in writing children’s books. In his book, “Christmas Story”, he retells the wellknown holiday narrative “The Night Before Christmas” so both the young and adults can enjoy this classic tale. In this story, he lets the adults experience the Christmas magic. While the children remain sleeping in their beds, it is the adult who gets to witness the wonders of Christmas. He meets Santa Clause and goes on a ride on Santa’s sled while he delivers presents to children everywhere. He asks Santa about his presents and when he returns home, he wakes up his wife and joins his children. He finds his gift is that his wife is going to have a child. Through sleigh rides and visits with Santa Clause himself, this story shows that the holiday magic can be experienced by all ages. For book order/s, you may reach Richard at firstname.lastname@example.org
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About the Author Richard Sills is an educator, computer scientist, author and philanthropist. He is the founding sponsor of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Learning Center and the Reagan Hologram in the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum. He holds five patents in computer science. His poem, “Our Flag”, is on display in the Library. Find more about his book on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CyGQkYdzMHM Christmas Story by Richard Sills Hardcover: $28.00 ISBN-13: 978-1480911178 Year Published: 2014 | Pages: 48
Christmas Story by Richard Sills had been exhibited in 2022 London Book Fair on Apr 05, 2022 - Apr 07, 2022
Issue 65 | May/June 2022 |
Reviews Matter Guest column by Amy Shannon
GUEST COLUMN Reviews Matter
on the website. These bookshelves list all the books that will be read.
What is a book review? A book review is the opinion of the reader who actually read the book. Some websites where books are sold or listed have a rating system. The rating system is usually one star, two stars, three stars, four stars, and five stars. A five-star rating is the highest rating, while a one star is the lowest. A review also gives information to the author.
How does one write a review? The most important thing before writing a review for a book title, is that you actually read the book. Authors, do not write a review for your own book or give it stars. If you have not read a book, and you are writing a review because you don’t like the genre of the book, don’t do that. If you don’t like a particular genre and you’re not going to read a book, then don’t write the review because you don’t like it. If you read a book in a genre that you don’t like, and you end up not liking it anyways don’t write a review.
by Amy Shannon
Who should give book reviews? Anyone who reads a book should write a review. If they bought the book from a website, they should leave a review on the website for that particular book. If the reader bought the book in a local store or a garage sale or even a secondhand shop, they should leave a review. If the book is listed on Amazon, it does not need to be purchased by a reader in order for a review to be written. Why do reviews matter? Reviews matter because they let the author know what people think about their work. Also, authors, publicists, publishers etc. can use positive reviews to promote the author’s work. Reviews also may help a reader decide whether or not they want to read this particular author’s book. Many times, before buying a product, a customer will read reviews of that product before buying. It is the same concept for book reviews as well. What is Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews? Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews is a review website where owner and operator, Amy Shannon, takes requests, reads the books, and then writes honest and unbiased reviews. There is no charge for this service. The reviews get posted on sites such as Amazon.com, Barnes and noble, goodreads.com, and other sites. Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews does have donation policies but doesn’t charge for writing a review. A video review can be purchased. Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews “library’s” bookshelves are transparent and listed 104 | UncagedBooks.com
To write a review, you think about what you like about the book and what you don’t like about the book. You go to the website and if they have an area where you can write a review, think about your rating and then write your review. It’s quite simple. How does an author find reviewers? One way an author can find reviewers, is to look up on Amazon.com books that are written in the genre that the author writes and read some of the reviews. Some of the reviewers listed on Amazon, are actually professional reviewers or reviewers that like books and like writing reviews. If you click on their username, it’ll bring you to their Amazon profile, and there may be contact information. Another way to look for reviewers, is to search for book reviewer directories. When you go to the directory, you want to read all the information that the site provides. Some directories allow you to subscribe. When looking for a reviewer, you want to find one that reads books in the genre that you write. I found a reviewer, now what? If you found a reviewer on a directory, make sure the link isn’t broken. If it is, report it to the directory in the contact me section (or whatever means they have to contact them). If you found a reviewer, and they have a website or blog, read the information on that website. What
| AMY SHANNON | they review. What is their turnaround time? What are the review Policies and procedures? How do you request a review? Where do they post their review? And how do they write their reviews (read a few of their book reviews and you may see a pattern either positive or negative). Also, see if there is more than one reviewer. To pay or not pay for a review? Many authors think that “paying” or “buying” a review is a bad thing. Well, that can be true, but it may not be true as well. There are large book review companies that have a selection process, and then charge for the review and it comes with other benefits as well. Some book sites, do not allow the posting of “bought” reviews, but those reviews can be added to the editorial feedback or book description on the book’s website. Authors may have a policy about not paying for reviews, and that’s a fine policy to have. Book reviewers that will give you a 5-star review in exchange for a price is unethical, and they don’t even have to read the book. They’ll just write a 5-star review, which really doesn’t mean anything. Other reviewers, even small book bloggers or reviewers, may charge for reviews, but it is not for a rating, and it is unbiased and honest, and may also have extra benefits added, such as graphics or video reviews. Some reviewers are like Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews, and only accept donations. The only thing that Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews charges for is if the author is buying a permanent placement on a specific bookshelf or purchasing a video review. All other options are for donations. The purpose of the donation can be for a few things, just to support the website, paying it forward (so another author’s book can be bought), for buying a banned book, the purchase of their own book, so it can be a verified purchase. Other donations are for a one-time placement on a higher bookshelf to get the review done quicker.
work, and the best start is with a review, well, actually many reviews. Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews does have a reviewer directory on the website, so authors that have been reviewed by Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews, can see where to get other reviews for their book. If you haven’t had a review from Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews, what are you waiting for? Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews not only posts on the website, and the other book sites listed in this article, but also shares the posts on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Reviews will be posted on Instagram with the book cover, if the author or author representative also has an Instagram account. There are other sites, which may cost an extra five dollars, such as NetGalley, BookSirens, Google Books, Publisher’s Website, or Pinterest. Authors, if you read, write a review. Readers, if you read, write a review. It shows the authors that they have support. Authors can always rely on Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews for support. This article is put on the new page on Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews website, called ABSR Reviews Matter https://writeramyshannon.wixsite.com/bookshelfreviews/absr-reviews-matter
©Copyright 2022 Amy Shannon for Uncaged Book Reviews www.uncagedbooks.com Published with Permission
When an author promotes their work, sometimes there will be a cost involved. Free doesn’t always mean easy as well. Authors can use the reviews as a promotional tool and should decide how best to market their work. Whether you are an indie author or a traditional author (or any in between), all authors need to promote their Issue 65 | May/June 2022 |
Richard A. klein Little Moe Descended from Something Grand Author shares the importance of the bond between parents and their young in new picture book.
special history and a bright future ahead. The author hopes that this book will help give young people confidence in themselves and appreciation for their background.
Parents need to be sensitive to the feelings of their young, and author Richard Klein’s children’s book, Something to Crow About” encourages that value. Children will enjoy the entertaining rhyme, colorful pictures, and interesting scientific story that will also serve as a reminder to everyone of the important bond between parents and their young.
This book is available online and can be purchased at online bookstores.
Young readers will follow a young crow who worries about his diminutive size and wishes he might be larger and prouder. Moe the Crow, feeling puny and tiny, turns to his mother. She gives him the family history tracing Moe to a time when his ancestors ruled the earth as dinosaurs. The story changes Moe’s perspective, making him believe that life’s best is what lies ahead. The book gives young people a perspective of how dinosaurs evolved and a new way they can look at the birds around them. Crows, like some people, may be taken for granted despite their history and superb intelligence. These birds, like many humans, have a 106 | UncagedBooks.com
Illustrations by: Ariel L. Coburn
About the Author Richard A. Klein is a native and resident of Charlotte, NC. He is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and later served with the Second Armored Division at Fort Hood, Texas, during the Vietnam era. He was a filmmaker for 30 years and wrote 65 scripts that were produced for television and group audiences. He was also a professional fund raiser for 21 years. He has written two published books, Putting the Fun into Fund Raising and Something to Crow About, the latter directed for children. He has also contributed to a variety of newspapers and magazines. Something to Crow About by Richard A. Klein Paperback: $19.00 | ISBN-13: 978-1647025441 Hardback: $23.00 | ISBN-13: 978-1647025458 Date Published: July 2020 | Pages: 30
Something to Crow About by Richard A. Klein had been exhibited in 2022 London Book Fair New Title Showcase on Apr 05, 2022 - Apr 07, 2022
Issue 65 | May/June 2022 |
Diann Floyd Boehm
childrens | self-help
Dr. Teresa Cody
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iann Floyd Boehm is an award-winning international author of children books and has published a young adult historical fiction. addition, Diann writes books to inspire readers to be kind, like themselves, and to “Embrace Imagination”. You can find all her books on Amazon. Diann’s Story Garden YouTube Channel gives children the opportunity to hear different children authors read their stories. Diann continues to be involved in various humanitarian projects with multiple organizations.
Diann was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to the parents of George M. Floyd and Mabel Adella Harris Floyd. She moved to Texas when she was about 18 months along with her 2 brothers. Over time the Floyd family grew and Diann had five brothers, Chris, Danny, Mike, Larry and Bryan. She has traveled extensively to many parts of the world and has lived in the Philippines and Dubai. Uncaged welcomes Diann Floyd Boehm
What is your next project that you are working on?
Welcome to Uncaged! The majority of your writing is children’s books. What inspired you to start writing for children? What do you hope they learn from your books?
In the Summer and Fall you should see on the shelves, A Time to Fly and Charlie and the Tire Swing.
I have always been a storyteller, so it was easy to include my storytelling in my classroom when I became a teacher. Students of all ages relate to stories; therefore, it is a great way to get the point across; instead of telling the kids what to do. The various themes of my books are to love yourself, be kind, embrace imagination, and love learning. If we can help children imagine and love themselves, then it is easy to be kind to one another. But, as the old saying goes, “You must love yourself first before you can love another.”
I am working on some drawings for a book I have just written for young children. I am playing around with the artwork now. I am tickled pink about the smiles these young children’s books bring. What are some of your favorite genres to read? Do you settle in with any non-fiction titles? I enjoy biographies and mysteries, though with the current events I am starting to read East West Street by Philippe Sands to learn more of the history of Ukraine. Issue 65 | May/June 2022 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR |
What are some things you like to do to relax when you aren’t writing or working? I enjoy watching shows on the various streaming networks, I like to garden, and my husband and I enjoy traveling. If you could have one all-year season, which would it be and why? Springtime is my favorite time of year. The air is crisp and full of energy as the trees are starting to show their buds. The birds wake early, singing their morning songs as the wind chimes on my decks and gardens gently cling, creating a symphony all their own. The squirrels are scampering, enjoying nibbling on treats they have found on the ground in the sunlight on the cool grass.
What behind-the-scenes tidbit in your life would probably surprise your readers the most? I recently took up sewing lessons. I do quilt, but I want to be better at other types of sewing. I am practicing piano too. I have been fortunate enough to have lived overseas, in the Philippines and the UAE. I have been able to travel and do humanitarian work in various countries. For example, I traveled with a group of women to raise awareness of breast cancer and dog sled in the artic. It was an adventure of a lifetime. We rode high up to a glacier, and there I found a quiet, beautiful spot on a glacier lake where I read the names of those who were lost to Breast Cancer and those who needed prayers of healing. I have been blessed to travel to other countries for humanitarian work, but I will save those adventures for another time. 112 | UncagedBooks.com
The Bluebonnets and other wildflowers fill the hills as the butterflies flutter from one flower to another. The Texas Highways are filled with wildflowers, especially Bluebonnets, the Texas state flower. Easter time, you will see families taking their annual Bluebonnet pictures on the side of the road or where someone has planted a giant field of Bluebonnets to accommodate the Bluebonnet pictures. Springtime is my favorite time of year; everyone is ready for new adventures just around the corner as summer vacation approaches. Do you prefer ebooks, audiobooks or physical books? Are you reading anything now? I love physical books. I want to hold a book, write in a book or underline a passage. In a children’s book, I want to touch the artwork and see the magic that comes to life with the illustrator’s dimensions of color. You do not get that as well in an ebook and certainly not in an audiobook. I just started reading East West Street by Philippe Sands.
| DIANN FLOYD BOEHM | What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? First, I would like to thank my fans for enjoying my books and entering my world of imagination. Second, I would like to let them know the coming stories are exciting, and the artwork is stunning. Third, they can find me on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and local bookstores. Finally, I enjoy hearing from my fans; they may follow me at diannfloydboehm.com.
About The Little Girl in the Moon The Little Girl in the Moon Diann Floyd Boehm Children’s Every night the little girl in the moon watches the earth from afar just like the earthlings gaze at the moon and wish upon the stars. One night she sees so many wishes not quite reaching the stars and she tells her mommy how it worries her. She wants, with all her heart, to help the wishes get to the stars so they will come true. Her mommy whispers a secret to her that sparks the little girl’s imagination. Before long the Little Girl in the Moon gets a ‘Big Idea’ and she and her Moonling friends write a song to go with it. All the moonling families gather to sing the song and something very special happens. The “Big Idea” works! And, for a moment in time, there is peace and harmony in the universe.
Issue 65 | May/June 2022 |
3-Page Special Promo
odney Martin II was almost born in Minnesota by 2 weeks, but he was born in Memphis, TN instead. Then, after living in Memphis for 5 years, he then moved to Mississippi where he moved 3 more times. There, he attended Mississippi State University. He almost moved to Dallas, TX, but he ended up moving to Virginia instead. While there, he underwent training for the United States Secret Service. But he didn’t let this distract him from his writing, as it has always been his passion. Despite all he went through, from injuries and brushes with death, he never allowed anything to stop him from building worlds with a pen.
In Memory of You Rodney Martin II Inspirational Anthology An interesting take on storytelling, author Rodney Martin II’s new book is an anthology of stories that make readers think they are the narrator or a character of the story. This story is not what readers expect it to be. It’s like wandering into the dark without a flashlight. But reading this story means that one chooses or wants to get away. It’s like holding the lives of others in one’s hands; not because one is playing God, but simply because. And readers will find out why, as they leaf through the pages of this book, In Memory of You.
EXCERPTS Scales I awake to the sound of rain knocking on my window in the old trolley downtown. The weather-man talked about heavy rain, and I guess he wasn’t lying. The tram moves like my grandfather after he got his walker. But riding this thing was what I had to deal with until my car got fixed. I wipe at the window and see the bus stop at a sidewalk I’m not familiar with. A man in a brown trench coat steps down the aisle. “Excuse me, is this seat taken,” he asks politely, referring to the seat in front me. “No.” I move my bag from the empty seat and sit it next to my feet. “Sorry about that.” “It’s quite alright,” he says while sitting. Now, I usually sit alone, but it was kind of boring on the tram with no one to talk to. I look at the man, who is now ensnared within a small book.
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“I ride this tram pretty often; you must be new here?” The man looks up from his book, slowly examining me. “Not exactly.” The vagueness of his speech gave me plenty of reasons to just keep to myself. I mean, after all, it’s really none of my business where he’s from. I look out the window, refraining from any further interaction. “The ring on your hand, how long have you been married?” The abrupt question makes me look at him and my hand in rapid succession. “Oh, we just got married last Saturday. We dated for 4 years,” I say with a winning smile on my face. “It will not last.” The words shadow me in dejection. “I beg your pardon?” He puts down his book and stares at me now. “The marriage will not last.” “Yeah, I heard you the first time. Who the hell do you think you are, telling me about my relationship?” “Is the ring...heavy?”
He grows silent and points outside. “Listen, do you hear the rain? Do you see it as it rolls down the glass?” I look at the rain, failing to see a point in all this farce. “Yeah. I see the damn rain. What about it?” “The rain falls from above and touches the glass. Smaller drops combine to make larger drops. But in the end, they always fall apart by losing their previous identity.” “What are you sayin-” “Why did you marry?” “Because I lov-” “You love your wife? Have you ever thought about the weight of youractions? Your emotions? Intentions? “You will come to realize that strumming the same guitar, humming thev same song, and tasting the same delicacy from before will only become a grain of sand, of the past.” “We live to die but die to live. All of this is an individual achievement. There is no sharing, only doing.” The tram stops after what feels like an hour ride. “This happens to be my stop,” the man says, rising from his seat.
I look down at my hand.
He exits the tram before I even have time to utter a word. I peer at the ring on my hand.
“What the hell are you talking about?”
It’s so damn heavy. Issue 65 | May/June 2022 |
oyce McLean is the great-great granddaughter of Kenneth McKenzie, one of the earlier settlers to Manitoba, Canada, during the formative years of the province and indeed Canada as a country. She grew up on the farm that was passed down from generation to generation within the McKenzie family. In transcribing the journal of Kenneth McKenzie, she wanted to make this firsthand description of life at the dawning of the country accessible to current family members and those to come, as well as any others fascinated with history.
kennethmckenziediary.com Kenneth McKenzie Diary 1869-1870 Joyce McLean After farming in Ontario, Canada, for over 20 years, Kenneth McKenzie, an immigrant from Invernessshire, Scotland, travelled from Guelph, Ontario to Burnside, west of Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, several times from 1867 to 1870, establishing one of the first farms in the area. This journal, Kenneth McKenzie Diary: 1869-1870, by his great-great granddaughter Joyce McLean, covers four of these trips, via the United States, and the work that went into establishing a home and farm at Burnside. This was at a crossroads in history with first a provisional government lead by Louis Riel, and then the establishment of the Manitoba Government in 1870.
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US REVIEW OF BOOKS RECOMMENDED by the US Review book review by Nicole Yurcaba
“It gave us great courage to hear from all our dear ones at home.” Kenneth McKenzie was born in 1822 in Inverness-shire, Scotland. In 1841, aged just nineteen, he emigrated to Puslinch, Ontario, Canada, and married three years later. His endeavors as a farmer supported his wife and ten children for twenty years until he established a new farm near Portage La Prairie, Manitoba, in 1867. He achieved his ambition to become the first settler of a community, which he named Burnside, situated on the bank of Rat Creek. That farm took years to establish as frequent and arduous travel between Canada and the midwestern United States, prolonged illness, obligations to his family, and maintenance of his existing property slowed his progress. Nevertheless, once solidly established, the new farm remained in continuous operation within the McKenzie family until its sale in 2010.
A man of more action than words, McKenzie made brief entries in a diary he began keeping in 1869. His entries reveal insightful details about farm life and the rigors of nineteenthcentury travel. From livestock and goods prices to glimpses of “good sail on St. Louis Bay & out to Lake Superior,” personal details from an all-but-forgotten part of history make the past tangible for readers. Being a part of a community was, at times, paramount to survival. And while McKenzie documented the closeness of his frontier community, he also provided stilted entries where readers clearly see that conflict often resulted in disastrous economic and agricultural losses. The most noteworthy of these entries are the March thirteenth and August eighteenth entries from 1871. In March, McKenzie writes, “Fawcett went to stop my sons this day from cutting timber near the woods next to the creek.” Not a single entry exists between March and August, and then the August entry starkly declares, “Fawcett’s two sons shot our cattle.” These terse but chilling lines provide sociological insight into the social constructs of the time. Another interesting feature of the book is its incorporation of original documents, which make it a unique means of preservation. McKenzie originally wrote his entire diary in pencil. However, one annex contains photos of several pages of McKenzie’s diary manuscript in his own hand, adding an intriguing, visual glimpse into the man himself. The inclusion of numerous entries written on Sundays and that mention church attendance also suggest that McKenzie’s staunch religiosity drove his every action. His revulsion for profanity and underhanded busi-
ness dealings figures prominently, revealing an understated sensitivity of spirit. Since its central action occurs in the same era and some of the same American states, this book has about it more than a mere suggestion of the flavor of the Little House on the Prairie book series. The account may also serve as a companion text to Louis Aubrey Wood’s The Red River Colony: A Chronicle of the Beginnings of Manitoba, supplementing the information in that volume with McKenzie’s firsthand recollections. McKenzie’s abstinence from self-adulation throughout contrasts nicely with his descendant’s praise of his various contributions to his new community, making this an even more pleasant read.
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r. Teresa Cody earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Texas, then her Dental degree at the University of Texas Dental Branch in Houston in 1992. The next year she and her new husband, also a dentist, bought a practice in Sugar Land, Texas. Through a sequence of extraordinary events in 2018, Dr. Cody discovered the healing power of Platelet Rich Plasma. PRP for short. PRP is found in the plasma portion of the blood. Everyone has this priceless gift, however, most are unaware of its amazing healing powers which lead her to write her book entitled You Healing You. Her passion is to introduce others to the multiple health benefits of PRP treatments. In February 2019 Dr. Cody opened C & C Wellness to treat patients with PRP and other natural treatments. Uncaged welcomes Dr. Teresa Cody Welcome to Uncaged! Your book, You Healing You, talks about how your own blood plasma can help to heal yourself. Why did you write this book and what do you hope that people take away from it?
I like to read non-fiction and scientific studies. This year I have read Vermont Folk Medicine, Cancer and Vitamin C, and The Lost Herbal Remedies. What behind-the-scenes tidbit in your life would probably surprise your readers the most?
I wrote the book, You Healing You because I wanted people to know about this excellent and easy way to heal naturally. The plasma contains at least 15 growth factors that direct the healing process.
I have 11 chickens whom I adore.
Do you have any other books planned in the future that you can tell us about?
It is super relaxing to float in my lazy river.
I may do a follow up with PRP (plasma) and other biochemical hacks. What are some of your favorite genres to read? Do you settle in with any non-fiction titles?
What are some things you like to do to relax when you aren’t writing or working?
If you could have one all-year season, which would it be and why? I love summer! I love the summer activities especially swimming. I built a lazy river in my backyard and adore floating all summer. Issue 65 | May/June 2022 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | Do you prefer ebooks, audiobooks or physical books? Are you reading anything now? I prefer physical books but also enjoy audiobooks especially when driving. I am reading The Fourth Phase of Water. What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? I am starting a video series to keep readers up to date with new and old discoveries. C and C Wellness is on Facebook, Instagram and follow my blog on candcwellness.com
Enjoy an excerpt from You Healing You You Healing You Dr. Teresa Cody Alternative Medicine/ Self Help Everyone HAs THIS PRICELESS GIFT --- BUT most NEVER DISCOVER IT! Come learn how each and every one of us has a miracle at our fingertips…… Coursing through your bloodstream is a miraculous golden healing liquid called Platelet Rich Plasma [PRP, for short]. PRP contains all the healing factors your body uses to heal. Using this 122 | UncagedBooks.com
knowledge, we can concentrate this priceless blood component and reintroduce it into your body to heal injuries or as an esthetic treatment. Learn how your own body holds the key to healing. It truly is “you healing you”. Excerpt THE MIRACLE INSIDE YOUR BODY n the mid 1990s, I read a study about stem cells. The researchers knew that stem cells could help spinal cord injuries, but they did not know how they could deliver them to the exact location of the trauma. They injected a mouse with tagged stem cells distant from the trauma. To the researchers’ amazement, the stem cells migrated to the exact location of the trauma and began their job. Healing the damage! The body is a miracle. We have observed this same phenomenon with the healing factors in PRP. We all have stem cells. Adult stem cells are undifferentiated cells found throughout the body that divide to replenish dying cells and regenerate damaged tissues. We can find them throughout the body. These cells can transform into any cell your body needs— acting as part of the repair system for the body. There are three accessible sources of your own stem cells: 1. Bone Marrow 2. Adipose tissue (fat cells) 3. Blood Extracting stem cells from bone marrow requires drilling into bone and harvesting the stem cells. They often come from the thigh bone or hip bone. They also extract stem cells from fat tissue. There is a special centrifuge that can extract your stem cells from your fat cells in about one hour. But don’t get too excited about shedding a bunch of fat; it only requires about 30 cc (ml) which is not much. Option three to access your stem cells is through your blood. Blood runs through a machine and it separates
| DR. TERESA CODY | the stem cells from the other blood components. Collected and “minimally manipulated” stem cells are FDA approved. This means no one can grow them in a petri dish and then re-implant them. A simple way to get stem cells to the site of the injury is to attract them using PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) which is available in your blood. We have known for some time that the platelet portion of the blood is essential to the healing process. At first, we recognized it as the clotting portion of the blood. We now know it also has other functions like inflammation, healing, immunity, and tissue regeneration. These tiny blood components are loaded with growth factors, antimicrobial factors, and tissue regenerative factors. For example, let’s say you skin your knee. Platelets will ooze into the wound and start the clotting process. At the same time, it releases anti-microbial factors that kill any bacterial infection, then the growth factors kick into gear and direct the healing process whereby the tissue regenerates itself. This is miraculous! The growth factors are also time released so that they work over a week or more. They attract stem cells and direct new blood vessels to form. With new blood vessels, more blood flows to the injury, bringing more healing factors to the area. The growth factors also stimulate collagen to form and they enhance tissue proliferation and regeneration. PRP is readily available with a simple blood draw. We spin the drawn blood in a centrifuge. The red blood cells are heavier than platelets, so they sink to the bottom of the test tube. The platelets and plasma float on top of the red blood cells. We pipette off the platelets, the plasma and all those beautiful growth factors. PRP is an excellent resource to concentrate on healing in a specific area. It can boost healing into high gear. Have you ever fed fish in an aquarium? Those fish swim to the surface and gobble down the food. Imagine, your cells are the little fish and the PRP is the food. Your body gobbles up the PRP and loves the growth factors. Issue 65 | May/June 2022 |
Dr. Zuvarashe JudithMushipe From her Zimbabwean background and culture come compelling folk tales based on jungle animals. Author Zuvarashe Judith Mushipe humanizes seven jungle animals to impart important lessons on life, community and character. In her Jungle Animals Folk Tales: Children Folk Tales Based on Animals of the Jungle, a children’s book based on fiction, young readers will find themselves immersed in a collection of fables that are meant to teach them good morals. There are seven stories in this book and each story conveys a strong moral message especially to children of ages 9-15 years old. The stories have good illustrations that are quite captivating. At the end of each story, the readers are asked to list the things they learned from the story. Grown-ups can also find the book appealing as it teaches people about the African culture and that of the Zimbabwean people in particular. Readers will meet the different animals living in the Animal Kingdom, the Jungle where they play different roles as they interact with each other in good and bad ways. Children will be excited to follow the animal characters as they talk and help each other, just like human beings. Les126 | UncagedBooks.com
sons are learned from the way the animals interact and children are asked at the end of every story to write down what they learned. Aside from learning about the Zimbabwean culture, readers will also learn proper ethics that must be upheld in communities and other valuable life lessons. This book is available online and can be purchased at online bookstores. About the Author Zuvarashe Judith Mushipe has a PhD in Business Management / Administration and has been teaching at university level since 1985. She is a mother of four grown children and has four grandchildren. She was born and raised in Zimbabwe. Growing up in rural Zimbabwe in the 1960’s, children listened to adults telling stories as a way of entertainment. The stories were meant to teach children good morals or to know right from wrong. That background influenced her to write the book Jungle Animals Folk Tales and would like to see the stories passed on from generation to generation. Jungle Animals Folk Tales: Children Folk Tales Based on Animals of the Jungle by Dr. Zuvarashe Judith Mushipe Hardcover: $28.00 | 9781647023379 Publication Date: October 22, 2020 | Pages: 56
Jungle Animals Folk Tales by Dr. Zuvarashe Judith Mushipe had been exhibited in 2022 London Book Fair New Title Showcase on Apr 05, 2022 - Apr 07, 2022
Issue 65 | May/June 2022 |
Intentional Blindness Guest column by Pat Daily
GUEST COLUMN Intentional Blindness by Pat Daily
You may have heard of attentional blindness before. It’s also called selective attention. The concept is that you can be so focused on one thing – a particular object or person, or a task as simple as counting the number of times a team passes a basketball, that you miss other things that are clearly visible and present in your field of vision. The topic went viral after Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons published their invisible gorilla video. If you’ve never seen it, you can check it out here: http://www.theinvisiblegorilla.com/videos.html That’s attentional blindness. Intentional blindness is similar but distinctly different. It involves volition. We make a choice and that changes everything. When our parents kiss, we turn away. We don’t want to think of them as passionate, sexual beings. They’re our parents. They accepted that role when they had us, and now they need to stay in the behavioral confines we’ve created for them. A friend of mine in Singapore tells me that they have a saying for intentional blindness: We choose to look the other way. We pretend not to see the mess in the sink or notice that the dog’s water dish is empty. Actually seeing those things and acknowledging them would require us, as decent humans, to take action. We don’t want to see the beggar on the corner, or the crippled kid in class, or, God forbid, the hairs growing out of grandpa’s nose and ears. It’s much easier to ignore it all 130 | UncagedBooks.com
and just check the feeds. That’s a problem. Sometimes it’s small, benign. Pretending our parents are asexual creatures whose sole purpose in life was to create and provide for us, isn’t going to hurt anyone much. It’s funny, a little gross to think about, but kind of funny and kind of sweet. Attentional blindness is being so focused on something else that we don’t see the train coming. Intentional blindness is choosing not to see the train because it’s inconvenient, or we don’t agree with its politics, race, gender, or who it roots for in the upcoming game. Here’s the thing: The train doesn’t care. It doesn’t care that we don’t like it, it’s going to run us over anyway. Dead is dead, regardless of our preferences in life. I write fiction. It’s my job to think about things that could be different. One of the things I do to help a story is to ask, “What if?” What if the protagonist doesn’t like the politics of his/her love interest? What if the character doesn’t want to do what I, the author, want her to do? This happens. What if we never found a vaccine for polio or Covid? What if some fundamental aspect of our physical universe, like the universal gravitational constant or the inverse square law, were different? What if we had taken Putin’s threats of invading Ukraine seriously? What if someone else is right, and we’re wrong? What if solar power was far more efficient than it is now? (This made it into my novel, Spark, with some interesting consequences.) I have a friend who makes a point of listening to (and reading) viewpoints that differ from his – politically, socially, and financially. At first it pissed me off. Why listen to that crap? What if we’re wrong? he asked. Because it’s the train on the tracks. Ignoring something – cancelling something or someone – doesn’t stop the train. Then we’re surprised when we get run over.
Just asking those “what if” questions expands our minds and makes us think differently. That’s a good thing. Asking “what if” has made me change my mind on some critical issues. That doesn’t make us weaker. It makes us stronger. Let’s do it more often. Maybe even every time we get triggered. ©Copyright 2022 Pat Daily for Uncaged Book Reviews www.uncagedbooks.com Published with Permission
Pat Daily is the author of SPARK. He is an engineer and former Air Force test pilot who worked at NASA’s Johnson Space Center on both the Space Shuttle and International Space Station programs. When not writing or trying to bring new airplane designs to life, Pat can be found gaming online. He is a fan of role-playing games — particularly open worlds with engaging storylines where actions have consequences. Issue 65 | May/June 2022 |
Bill & Phylliskerschner Exploring Other Cultures with Plucky-Lucky Duck Husband-and-wife publishing collaboration promotes cultural learning. Authors Bill and Phyllis Kerschner present an intelligent, informative, and highly entertaining reading experience in Plucky-Lucky Duck’s Amazing Adventure. They invite the young minds to listen intently and learn about the great big world around them as this story introduces children to other cultures. Plucky-Lucky Duck is the ultimate explorer. Only it didn’t start out that way. In the beginning, he was pleasantly enjoying an ocean voyage, but when a big storm hit and threw him overboard, he was set adrift with only the stars in the sky and lots of water to keep him company. Ultimately rescued by a Chinese fishing boat, Plucky-Lucky Duck takes this as a very favorable sign to continue his adventure. Soon, PluckyLucky Duck is visiting not only China, but other faraway places like Japan, Russia, India, and Africa. This children’s book is a great way for the little 132 | UncagedBooks.com
ones, especially the American children, to learn about other places and cultures. The authors wanted to create a good literature that would both educate and excite children. And this book will broaden the minds of young readers as they learn about other countries, geography, astronomy, aviation, biology, history, and more. For book order/s, you may reach Bill at email@example.com About the Authors Bill and Phyllis Kerschner are a husband and wife writing team whose combined international exploration, not to mention their own five children and ten grandchildren, led them naturally to write about world travel for children. Bill is a retired transoceanic airline captain and retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col., who served with the United States Air Force and Air National Guard for twenty-two years. Phyllis is an English, speech, and drama teacher with many years of experience, as well as a published poet. She also worked for many years as a forensics teacher and coach. Residents of Wisconsin, the Kerschners enjoy traveling, obviously, as well as reading, hiking, and cycling. Plucky-Lucky Duck’s Amazing Adventure by Bill and Phyllis Kerschner Hardback: $16.95 | 978-0533156474 Year Published: 2007
Plucky-Lucky Duck’s Amazing Adventure by Bill and Phyllis Kerschner had been exhibited in 2022 London Book Fair New Title Showcase on Apr 05, 2022 - Apr 07, 2022
Issue 63 | March/April 2022 |
JEN L. GREY
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eading has always been one of my favorite hobbies, even as a little girl. When I was a toddler, my parents would read stories to me over and over. I would hear them so often that I had the books memorized and could recite the story word by word. My favorite genres are fantasy, paranormal, and contemporary romance. So of course that’s what I’m inclined to write.
I have a husband, two young daughters, and two mini Australian Shepherds. I’ve lived in Tennessee the majority of my life and love the state. I’m extremely addicted to caffeine and enjoy drinking coffee and lattes.
Enjoy an excerpt from: Broken Mate Broken Mate Jen L. Grey Shifter Romance I’m the last surviving member of my pack, and I’m running for my life. As the future pack leader of the Silver Wolves, my life was carefully planned: stay hidden, and learn to fight. In an instant, everything changes. My pack was slaughtered by an unknown enemy.
Alone and unsure who to trust, I search for safety. Now, there’s a pack leader who offers me something that no one else can--protection. He’s sexy, an absolute jerk, and my fated mate. The more I try to fight our bond, the more fate pushes us together. But the price may be too much for both of us. I’m being hunted, and the choices I’m forced to make could destroy me. Excerpt Chapter One A scream echoed in my ears, making my blood run cold. The noise originated from about two miles Issue 65 | May/June 2022 |
away, where my pack lived, deep within the mountainous woods outside of Chattanooga, Tennessee. I stilled. That was odd. The trickling of the murky Tennessee River in front of me filtered back into my awareness. Maybe some kids were playing or Dad was doing training rituals with the younger shifters. But that would surprise me because tonight was the new moon. Normally, we took it easy this day of the month when our kind was at our weakest—but maybe that was the point. I hoped no one had gotten hurt. Brushing the concern away, I leaned over the muddy edge of the riverbank and dipped my fingers into the cool water. The heavy storm from a few days ago had made the liquid more cloudy than normal, but I could still see my reflection. My long, silver hair, which signified my future as alpha, lifted in the breeze, and the olive tint to my skin contrasted with my light silver-purple eyes. The noon sun warmed the back of my neck, and the tension melted from my body. “Attack!” The faint, desperate command resonated from the distance. “Kill as many as you can.” My body froze. This was no exercise. We didn’t shout frantically even when we wanted to during training. Revealing worry sounded weak. As silver wolves and protectors, we had to convey confidence at all times. I spun on my heel and ran toward the neighborhood. Dammit, I shouldn’t have snuck out and hiked the two miles away from home, but this was the one day of the month that I could be alone for a few hours. The one day I had a reprieve from learning about my future responsibilities, which I’d inherit from my father. What’s going on? I linked with my pack, but there was radio silence. As though I’d been cut off from communicating with them. That had never happened before. I probed my mind again for the link while panic clawed in my throat. The only solace I had was that my chest was still warm from my pack bonds. Animals scurried in the opposite direction as me, and my already frantic heart pounded harder. Something was wrong. The silver wolves acclimated into the world, but we kept our location and the type of wolf we were hidden from everyone, including other members of the wolf race. The only time we allowed someone from outside into our pack was when one of our own found their 138 | UncagedBooks.com
fated mate. To keep our pack secret, the fated mate always became one of us. It was our pack law and a way to ensure that the silver wolf race remained hidden. So, being attacked shouldn’t have been possible. Gunshots fired, and I drew magic from my wolf, increasing my speed with the animal inside. I needed to get back to my pack as fast as possible, but I couldn’t risk shifting. In animal form, we revealed the kind of wolves we were to our attackers, our silver fur unmistakable. I couldn’t take the risk of alerting them to our existence, in case they thought we were another regular wolf pack. The attackers could be from a pack led by an overzealous alpha who wanted to form a larger pack by strong-arming us into submitting to him. Dad had told me repeatedly that something like this could happen. It was a possibility, but I couldn’t be sure until I reached them. Parts of my chest grew colder as members of the pack began to disappear, just like the time my grandfather passed. No. They couldn’t be dying. Any other day of the month, I could run twice as fast, but with the moon hidden tonight, my magic was weakened even more so than the other pack members’ would be because alpha blood was more connected to the moon. Even in wolf form, I wouldn’t have been able to run faster. Not today. Silver wolves were much stronger than standard wolves, especially at night and on a full moon. The fuller the moon, the stronger and larger we were. But this one day of the month, we were essentially like every other wolf in the world. Nothing special. More shots blasted, and I pushed myself harder, causing my side to cramp. I had to breathe, or I’d be too winded to help my pack when I finally reached them. The trees blurred as I rushed past, and my feet sank into the mulch-like ground, slowing me down. I wanted to scream in frustration. Taking deep breaths of the spring air, I tried to use the floral scents of the woods to keep myself rational. Deep breathing was one of the calming rituals that had been instilled in me as a young girl. Learning airway control was one of the best weapons that anyone could have. It helped me think rationally and not make stupid decisions under pressure. Nothing was more powerful.
No matter how hard I pushed, it didn’t seem to be enough. It felt like time stood still as I desperately tried to get to my friends and family. With every step I took, the sounds of fighting became clearer. I had to believe that was a good sign. After all, we were born warriors. I latched on to that hope and didn’t let my fear take hold. As the trees thinned, I almost shouted in victory. I made it! But the stench of copper hit my nose. Blood. The smell coated my throat, making it hard to swallow. My feet stumbled, and I caught myself before I could fall to my knees. I didn’t have time to come apart. I was an alpha, for God’s sake, and my people needed me. I opened my mouth and breathed without using my nose. The scent was still strong, but not nearly as bad. My wolf surged forward in my mind, helping me to remain emotionally strong. As I got closer to home, modest brick houses peeked through the trees. I ran directly to the alpha house, its backyard connected to the woods. I had to find my parents and see what Dad needed me to do. He’d have a plan. He always did. Needing to be as silent as possible, I slowed, not wanting to stumble upon an attacker. It wasn’t as if they would be broadcasting their location to me. The fighting sounded like a drum pounding. Overwhelming. Devastating. Heartbreaking. When I came close to breaking through the trees, an unfamiliar musky stench almost made me gag, stopping me in my tracks. The attackers were definitely wolf shifters, but I didn’t know their scents. I squatted and removed the knife that I kept holstered around my ankle. Having it brought me comfort, and I never left the house without the weapon. Not even when Zoe, my best friend, gave me shit, asking what kind of critter would be brave enough to attack us. I bet she’d changed her tune now. “The girl has to be here somewhere,” a male whispered. “I think I’ve found her scent heading into the woods.” “Maybe she ran,” someone with a deeper voice responded. “The alpha, Arian, may have told her to leave.” I peeked from around a tree and saw two men
dressed in all black and wearing ski masks, standing in my backyard. They were both over six feet tall, like Dad, and were muscled and stout, even more than most shifters. Whoever these assholes were, they worked out a lot, which alarmed me. That could mean they’d been training intensely for something. A shiver ran down my spine as I realized they might know what we were. But again, that shouldn’t be possible. Everyone outside of our pack thought our kind had died off. Still… they knew my dad’s name. Breathe, Sterlyn. If I let my emotions get the best of me, they’d find me and do who knew what else. I clutched the hilt of the knife, holding it so I could use the blade easily if needed. I couldn’t see anyone else from this position, which aggravated me. I didn’t want to shift—at least, not yet—in case they didn’t know what we were. Dad? I tried to link to him again. Instead of a response, more screams filled the air, sounding like they came from the front of my house. The breeze changed direction, blowing against me and toward the two pricks. Dammit, I had to make my move fast. “Her scent grows stronger this way.” The speaker lifted his black mask, revealing an auburn goatee, and stopped it at his nose. He sniffed deeply. “She smells like freesia.” “Are you being serious?” The other guy reached over and yanked the first man’s mask back down. “Freesia? What’d you do, go paint your nails with your mom before heading over here?” My pack was being slaughtered by dumbasses who wore all black during the day and argued about scents. The enemy didn’t even feel bad about decimating my pack. What kind of heartless bastards were they? Rage coiled tightly around me, and I dug my fingernails into my free palm, making blood pool at my fingertips. I took a few steps deeper into the woods and then moved toward them, hoping to catch them off guard. “Don’t be an asshole, Earl,” Goatee scoffed. “I’m saying she smells pretty. Maybe I’ll get a chance to breed with her.” Nausea rolled in my stomach. Why was he talking about breeding? “Then say that. That’s at least acceptable, and don’t get your hopes up. They already have someone in mind for her.” The other guy shook Issue 65 | May/June 2022 |
his head. “Stop being an idiot. I got you on this crew, and you better not make me look bad. One more stupid move, and I’ll kill you myself.” He headed toward me. I crouched behind some brush. Once they got near, I’d strike at the smarter one—Earl—before going after Goatee. Forcing myself to breathe slowly, I let calm float throughout my body. Earl lifted his hand, signaling Goatee to stop. He stalked toward me, his yellow eyes searching the brush. He was about ten feet away, but I needed him closer. With Goatee nearby, I needed to strike fast and hard. Taking him out on the first shot was crucial. Otherwise, it would be two on one, and I didn’t like those odds. Goatee moved gracefully beside Earl. Maybe he wasn’t as stupid as I thought. Earl glanced at his friend. “She’s close—” His distraction was all that I needed. I lunged forward and slammed the knife into Earl’s chest, stabbing him in the heart. “What—” His words garbled as he snapped his head back toward me. His eyes widened, and he looked at his chest, blood already soaking his shirt. “Shit!” Goatee screeched. I wrapped my hands around the hilt of the knife and pulled back hard. A sickening sucking followed by a crackle sounded before the knife slid from his chest. Blood gushed as Earl pressed his hands to the wound, trying to stop the bleeding. Walking past him, I readied the knife in my hand as Goatee charged. “You bitch,” he growled and reached for my throat. I dodged him and straightened, slamming my elbow into the back of his head. He fell to his knees, and I grabbed the material and hair at the back of his head. “You’re going to pay,” he growled. Irrational anger. Perfect. That meant I had the upper hand. He jumped to his feet and snatched my hair. Dammit, I should’ve pulled it up. I jerked my head away, but he held tight and yanked me toward him. Fighting dirty it would be. I pretended to trip and fall toward him. He leaned forward, his chest helping to steady me, and 140 | UncagedBooks.com
spread his legs apart. As my shoulders connected with him, I lifted my leg, kneeing the asshole right in the balls. I didn’t feel much of anything, but he released his hold and grabbed his family jewels like he actually had some. Interesting. Either way, my plan had worked. I punched him, and he tipped over, landing face first. Unable to bring myself to kill the asswipe now that he was the only one left, I kicked him in the head, knocking him out. I surveyed the area, anticipating another attack, but all I could see was the man I’d killed moments ago. Hysteria clawed inside me at what I’d done. We trained to fight, but I’d never killed anyone. I’d prayed every night that I would never have to. Obviously, my prayers hadn’t been answered. “Sterlyn!” Dad called. His comforting voice snapped me back to the present. I turned to face him…and almost wished I hadn’t. Blood stained his white shirt, and he clutched his side, grimacing with every move he made toward me. “You need to go now.” His normally silver eyes looked more like steel, and his hair appeared a tarnished gray. The handsome man that I’d seen earlier today looked old. “What?” I jogged toward him, not wanting him to hurt himself more. “No. I need to help protect our pack.” “Look.” He reached out a hand slicked with blood. “They’re here for you, and I can’t let them take you.” “For me?” My brain fogged. “Why?” “I think they want to force you into a mate bond.” He glanced over his shoulder. My gaze followed his…and my world crashed around me. I couldn’t breathe as I tried to make sense of what I saw. Bodies littered the ground. All from my pack. Dad and I used the thick trees of the forest to hide us over a hundred yards away as my best friend Zoe army-crawled across the road onto the grass, trying to get out of the way of the attackers. Blood poured down her arms, and I could tell she was using all of her strength to survive. A man dressed in black ran to her and placed a gun to her temple. I have to stop him. I moved to intervene, but warm, strong hands wrapped around my waist and pulled me backward. Dad placed his hands on my shoulders and got in my face. The loud blast of the gun made my stomach revolt. The spicy scent of fear wafted from Dad as he jerked. “Sterlyn, focus on me.”
“But—” I pushed against his arms. I have to save them. He groaned in pain. “Those men have no intention of letting any of us live except you. There are too many for us to fight off. Most of the pack connections are now cold. Almost everyone is dead.” “What?” My body froze. “Mom?” “Yes, and I’ll be following soon.” He nodded toward his side. Now that he wasn’t holding it, I could see his wound. The gash was so deep that the muscle was visible, and the way the blood was pouring from it, I knew they had to have hit a main artery. Even with shifter healing, no one could survive that. “No. I’ll take you to the hospital.” “I’m barely hanging on as it is.” A tear trailed down his cheek. “I had to keep it together long enough to find you. You have to run. Go to Shadow City. The alpha, Atticus Bodle, will protect you, but trust only him with what you really are.” “Dad, how do we know it’s not him attacking us?” My voice cracked. Atticus was the only person outside of the pack who knew of our existence, so it would make sense if this assault had to be on his orders. “Atticus is a good man. I have never sensed any negative intent in him. I’m certain he isn’t behind this, but be careful, and don’t trust anyone else. One of the attackers said they’re here to find you. We can’t let them catch you.” “I... I don’t want to leave you.” Not only did he expect me to leave him behind, but he wanted me to go to a city I knew very little about. “Baby girl, I love you, but you have to.” He kissed my cheek. “They’re gathering a small group to search for you. Go. Before it’s too late.” “The alpha is missing,” someone shouted from not too far away. “He may be searching for the girl.” I looked at my father one last time, trying to remember his smell, his face, his touch. “Daddy.” “I’m sorry, but I have to protect you.” His eyes glowed a brighter silver as he called his last bit of strength. Alpha will laced his words. “Leave. Now. And don’t come back.” My wolf howled in protest as I turned and my feet moved on their own accord, following our alpha’s command. I glanced over my shoulder to look at him once more. “I love you, Daddy.” I placed the knife back in the holster on my ankle and took off as I heard him drop. “He’s here,” another guy yelled. My wolf surged forward, helping me run as sobs
racked me. I didn’t want to leave, but I could not disobey my alpha. The voices grew louder as multiple footsteps rushed toward my dad. “I smell her!” someone exclaimed. “She’s in the woods!” Breathing deep again to calm myself down, I focused on putting one foot in front of the other. I had to get out of here before they caught me. My pack’s sacrifice couldn’t be in vain.
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Issue 65 | May/June 2022 |
R E V I E W S
R E V I E W S 144
uNCAGED BOOKS uNCAGEDBOOKS.COM
FANG FREAKIN TASTIC fangfreakintasticreviews.com
Fallen University, Year Two Callie Rose Fantasy Romance
The Fire Witch Sasha Marshall Paranormal Romance
If I thought year one at Fallen University was rough, year two may prove hellish...
She just wants to catch a killer, but he wants to capture her heart.
What do you do when your entire magical academy is banished to
No, seriously. If you have any ideas, I would love to hear them.
Uncaged Review: For year two, the whole school is sent to the underworld, and no one knows how to bring it back to Earth, and the wards on the school are not going to hold forever. On top of that, there are students that aren’t doing so well being in the underworld. When it’s discovered that some power stones can help take the school back to Earth, but they are outside in the underworld, Piper and the guys leave to find them, without permission. She will need to have her guys completely on board, trusting each other as never before… There is some great action, the suspenseful part of this story arc continues on, and this book rarely slows down. Don’t go into thinking it’s a new adult university storyline that is drenching the market right now, this is a full on reverse harem with some hard hitting sex scenes. The action and monsters are well thought out and described well enough to picture them in your mind as you read along. There is a cliffhanger at the end, but book three is out so it doesn’t really matter on this one. Reviewed by Cyrene
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A killer vampire is on the loose, and the vampire king wants my help tracking him down. I don’t blame him. It’s my job as a bounty hunter to chase criminals, and I’m good at it, much to the dismay of his vampire subjects.
Uncaged Review: This is one of those books that took me by surprise. From the beginning chapters, I enjoyed Moe and Zvi, and this is a very original story packed with action, suspense, danger and romance. When Killian arrives on the scene, it ratchets up even more, and I was hooked. Witches, vampires and shifters make up this supernatural world (so far). In this outing, a killer vampire is under dark magic to kill, and to find and eliminate him, Zvi and Moe will need to work with the Vampire King, Killian and his group along with shifters. But the romance between Killian and Zvi is spot on, and as much as Zvi resists, Killian never gives in. There is a good deal of mystery, and much of it will be explained toward the back end of the book. I enjoyed the pace, the characters and the suspense. The epilogues were a nice touch and I’m looking forward to more in this series. Reviewed by Cyrene
The Golem Orlando Sanchez Urban Fantasy It’s uncomfortable between a rock and a hard place. When the NYTF reports that a golem, a large rock creature, is terrorizing parts of the city and destroying hubs of power, Ezra calls on Montague & Strong to investigate and stop the creature. Their first reaction is to refuse. Except there’s one problem. No one refuses Ezra, a personification of Death, without grave consequences.
Uncaged Review: The 10th book in the series, and it comes out swinging. I’ve missed reading in this series and the series is still as strong as ever. This time they have to take care of a mage that wants all the power and has created a golem to help him get to the magical hubs of power. Some fun parts are always in this series, and this one is no exception, with some supernatural wannabes in Bangers and Mash, Simon is at his best. The snark, the action and laugh out loud moments are all here, tucked within a great storyline. If you are looking for a good urban fantasy series, I can’t recommend this one enough. It’s another series that would do well on film or series, but the casting would need to be perfect. We learn even more about Simon and Monty, and we can’t ever forget Peaches, and he may have finally eaten too much meat in this one. Reviewed by Cyrene
Homecoming King Jamie Albright Comtemporary Romance – Humor The king of the gridiron is about to get sacked by a beauty queen with a grudge as big as Texas. Cash King rolls into Ryder, Texas looking for a little TLC and an ego boost from the townspeople who call him their favorite son. But that ain’t happening. Which is just the cherry on top of the crap sundae that is his life. His football career is hanging by a thread. Uncaged Review: I should know better than to read a Jami Albright book right before bedtime. What it does, is keep me up way too late reading, and this book was no exception. As a matter of fact, I read this in one sitting, not because it’s short or because I should have, but I got so engrossed in the story that I kept going until I finished it, and it was the wee hours of the morning when I finally did. It was a great time, and I don’t regret a thing. This book is full of the fun, snarky writing that is a hallmark of this author and an engrossing storyline. I’ve read some reviews saying it’s a second chance romance, but it’s not, not really. It’s more of an enemy to lover thing, because they never got to dating in high school. So being tossed back together twelve years after that fateful Homecoming Dance, the sparks are flying and you will be rooting for these two from the start. Cash really needs to quit being a jerk at times, and Tiger needs to knock that chip off her shoulder but give them time, they’ll get there. Fun times. Reviewed by Cyrene
Issue 65 | May/June 2022 |
Uncaged Reviews The Dragon God’s Mate Harlow Blaze Fantasy Romance – Novella In the beginning, Atlas created the dragon shifters. He made one tiny mistake. Atlas As the all-male dragons teeter on the brink of extinction, Atlas hatches a plan. Fragments of his divine soul could transform humans into dragon mates. He’s missing one ingredient—someone to help cast his spell. As soon as Atlas sees the stunning young woman in Central Park, his inner beast knows she’s the one.
Uncaged Review: This is a prequel novella to a
new series, and you can get this free on Amazon, or you can get the “fan version” by subscribing to the author’s newsletter, which has the added bonus of an epilogue. This is a good, interesting and original storyline and origin of the dragons and their mates in this beginning. And I think it will enhance anyone’s reading if they read this one first. The author does a fantastic job of describing the dragons, and the action involved. All her dragons are dragons, even in human form, and I like that the author holds that throughout. There is some good action sequences and steamy sex scenes, but a HEA is at the end of it. Good start. Reviewed by Cyrene
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Caged Amber Lynn Natusch Urban Fantasy
After the death of her parents, Ruby awakens from a lifetime of shadows and finds herself alone, thrust into a world of lies, deceit, betrayal and the supernatural. As her quest for truth continues to come up short, she realizes that maybe some questions really are best left unanswered. When her true identity is finally unveiled, she is forced to choose between two of the mysterious men who continually seem to crop up in her life.
Uncaged Review: This is a good action packed urban fantasy and it’s a non-stop action throughout. I liked the original concept of this supernatural world and shifters, but it’s got some confusing moments that the author skimmed over just figuring the reader would catch up, which I did, eventually. But since the author skimmed over some major plot points, I kept thinking I missed something, but going back, I realized it was the book, not me. But it all comes together eventually. I’m not sure I liked the main character of Ruby, she’s very immature for most of the book, there were times I wanted to shake her, but I liked the concept and the book well enough to continue on with the series. Some of the fight scenes are semi-gory, but the scenes were not all detailed, just the aftermath. Readers will have to decide for themselves and have a good ability to “read between the lines.” I think the series has a ton of potential, so I’ll be continuing on. Reviewed by Cyrene
The Duke is Wicked Tracy Sumner Historical Fantasy He’s harboring a fiery secret.... The Duke of Ashcroft is determined to keep the League of Lords under wraps. After all, the group’s supernatural gifts brought the mystical misfits together and nobody is going to tear them apart. Intelligent and wily, Sebastian knows better than to trust anyone--especially an impulsive and intrusive American woman. She’s looking for answers...
Uncaged Review: This is a really different and fun read. I like when authors take a genre and put a twist on it so it actually ends up in another totally different category. In this series, there is a touch of supernatural involved with the League of Lords. This book is centered on Sebastian and Delaney. Although I didn’t have a huge issue with reading this book without reading the first two in the series, I think I would have had a better story and a better understanding by reading the first two before this one. Sebastien is a Firestarter, and keeping his, and his fellow mates in the League secret is a must. Along comes an American woman Delaney, who is determined to find out the truth. Sparks fly, literally between her and Sebastien, and soon they won’t be able to deny their attraction. This is a well written romp, and a book with the message that you can be loved and accepted for who you are. And getting these two together, is a good read. Reviewed by Cyrene
The Look of Love Meara Platt Regency Historical When Lady Olivia Gosling finds The Book of Love in a musty bookshop, she is most eager to try out its love “recipes” on someone safe. Did she say safe? Well, Beast isn’t really safe, but with her odious guardian about to marry her off to one of his unsavory friends, Olivia needs her childhood friend to fall in love with her... fast. If Beast can love her, then any man she chooses will surely do the same. Uncaged Review: Olivia finds a book, or I should say the book finds her by falling on her head, in an old bookshop, the book is called The Book of Love, and Olivia is anxious to read and try out the book in order to find a match for the season. Olivia is in a bind of sorts, seeing how her parents died and her guardian has the mind to match her off with a man of questionable morals for money. With no dowry, she decides to try out some of the book’s advice on Beast, a childhood friend. But we can’t see that backfiring at all now can we…. But Alexander (Beast) is beginning to see Olivia as more than that childhood friend and his protection instincts toward her are beginning to take over all of his thoughts. Is the book working? Or was Olivia and Beast always meant to be together? This is a slow burn romance, and a fun one getting there. Seeing the romance develop kept me hooked, and I am looking forward to book two in the series.Reviewed by Cyrene
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Uncaged Reviews The Devil of Dark Hollow Juniper Kerry Fantasy Romance When Fiona MacHugh inherits her aunt’s B&B in a magical sanctuary village, she knows to expect some surprises. Bats in the attic, a rotting front porch, even the giant black dog that only appears when she’s alone… all of these things she can. Uncaged Review: Dark Hollow is a sanctuary
town, divided by a magical Current, that separates it from Brightwood. When Fiona’s aunt Minnie dies, she inherits a B&B inside the magical town. Even though she has no magic of her own, she decides she’s going to keep the building and find out how her aunt really died. Dev, who is a spirit mage, runs the casino next door. His father lost the B&B which had been in Dev’s family for generations and he’s determined to get it back. But he wasn’t expecting Fiona. There are a few things going on that keeps this book humming along. There is a mystery about the death of Fiona’s aunt, and a romance that brews as an enemies-to-lovers storyline. Dev was a bit over the top in his alpha ways at times, but Fiona does seem to handle him pretty well. There is also a lot going on about the town itself and the people in it and the ending was unexpected. This was an easy read, and I look forward to book two. .Reviewed by Cyrene
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Shifter in the Swamp Martha Carr & Michael Anderle YA Fantasy
Do you want to be a Bounty Hunter? Class is now in session at the Academy of Necessary Magic. Amanda Coulier is a young shifter and ward of one of the greatest bounty hunters of all time. But Johnny Walker is better with hound dogs than young girls. Especially the kind who can grow fur and fangs and rip out your throat in the middle of teenage angst.
Uncaged Review: When I first started reading this book, I almost stopped when I learned one of the main characters is 12 yrs old. This isn’t marketed as a young adult, and most of the books on the market for magical academies are at least older teens. But I kept going, and it was a decent read. Amanda is a shifter and trying to keep her secret from the rest of the school because shifters are frowned upon in this world. Wanting to be a bounty hunter to avenge her family and so other kids aren’t taken is her main desire to be in the school, although shifters don’t necessarily have any magic of their own. She ends up making friends with a small group, and with an outcast new student named Summer. Summer is a delinquent that was kicked out of her last school for blowing things up and is the first to figure out Amanda’s secret. Finding a soul crystal in a cave gives them an advantage in school, until it doesn’t… This is a pretty fast read and it was a decent storyline with a good pace. Amanda is likeable enough and Summer is a refreshing kick butt friend. The different magic used and the world building is pretty good although we didn’t really learn what the other students are, except a couple wizards and witches and one kid who is a Crystal. If you like the academy type books, this is an easy choice. Reviewed by Cyrene
Echo of Roses Paula Quinn Time Travel – Historical
Cauldron of Uncanny Dreams Donald Firesmith YA Horror Anthology
After receiving a dragon brooch from a distant great aunt, twenty-first century historian Kestrel Lancaster finds herself in fifteenth century England. Smack in the middle of a war. Like…in the middle of a blood and guts spewing, heads flying around her war. With six armored men riding toward her, bloody swords raised high in the air, horrified looks on their faces, there isn’t time to think. Only to scream. But like a dream, a dark knight rides into the fray and saves her from them all. When she realizes where and when she is, she doesn’t know whether to thank him for keeping her alive or curse him for it.
An anthology of uncanny short stories to read late at night from the prize-winning author of the Hell Holes series and The Secrets of the Hawthorne House. Read stories about a very special birthday party, a memorable farmer’s daughter, a collector of unique collectables, the investigation of a Romanian strigoi, an unintended consequence of using voodoo dolls for revenge, and an arsonist considering working in a crematorium.
Uncaged Review: This book is definitely for those who enjoy the idea of time travel mixed with history, action and of course love. This author does a good job of explaining how the main characters view each other and their reactions based on their respective time periods. If you love the idea of time travel and the days of King Arthur this book is enchanting. Reviewed by Jeanna
Uncaged Review: A collection of short dark fiction which borders on the bizarre and rather unusual. I found myself rather amused and somewhat puzzled at some of these stories.Iit really goes to show you you can’t judge a book by it’s cover. There’s a story in this book for everyone. One or two I instantly knew where the story was going. One story I rather enjoyed was about a traveling circus with a fortune teller and a women scorned. Just goes to show you can’t just go around putting curses on people Reviewed by Jen
Issue 65 | May/June 2022 |
Uncaged Reviews The Twilight King V.S. Winters Urban Fantasy The human world was the last place I wanted to hide, but after my mother, the Queen of the Light Court, wed me off to our mortal enemy, I just wanted out. My husband, The Twilight King, may be tall, handsome, and everything that would make most females bite their lips—but he’s also holding far too many secrets behind his golden eyes Uncaged Review: To escape an arranged marriage
from her mother, Ashlynn escapes the fae world to hide out among the humans with her friend, Cole. Her husband, Kian, is the Twilight King, and Lord over all the dark realms, and closely on her heels trying to find her. Ashlynn and Cole stay a half a step ahead of him until Ashlynn is in a car accident and Kian finally catches up to her. Kian is very dominating, and possessive, and Ashlynn is very rebellious and spoiled at times. But there is a lot going on in this book, and it all starts to reveal itself and will some of it is very surprising. There is a plague facing the fae realm, and Kian wants Ashlynn to return to help heal the realms, with the people dying and coming back to life like zombies. So you have a good urban fantasy, mixed with a healthy dose of suspense, and sprinkled with horror and just a smidgeon of romance. This is a good mix. I didn’t really like where the book ended, but it is a trilogy, and all the books are available, so it makes the hit a bit easier to take.
Reviewed by Cyrene
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Crimson Night Linsey Moon & SK Prince Occult Suspense In a world where vampires have escaped the shadows to live openly amongst humans, something new and unseen corrupts the night stalkers of New York. Both sides want answers. Scarlett DeSoto, a hot-headed lieutenant on the Paranormal Task Force, watched a rogue vampire murder her mother in cold blood. Now she’s made it her life’s mission to put an end to their kind.
Uncaged Review: In this world, vampires are out to the world, and sometimes this book borders on horror and sometimes on a more romantic feel. But there is a suspense involved that gives it some staying power. Scarlett is the head of a team for the Paranormal Task Force, to keep any rogue vampires in line. She watched her mother die from a vampire attack and now has made it her task in life to keep vampires from doing the same to others. Draven is an alpha vampire, who has been alive for centuries, and once he sees Scarlett, he’s drawn to her like no one has. Unfortunately for Scarlett and Draven, they will have to work together to solve a threat to both humans and vampires. This is a nicely paced book with a lot of action, some hot sex scenes and a bit of horror and gore mixed in. I wasn’t completely onboard with Draven throughout the book, he’s a bit of an overbearing vampire with a possessive streak that takes it a bit far sometimes, but he grew on me as the book progressed. I didn’t like where the book left off, and I will probably move on to the next book in time. Reviewed by Cyrene
Earl of Infamy Tammy Andresen Historical Regency He’s been given a mission… The Earl of Infamy must escort one mourning lady out of London and hide her away in the country. Should be easy. But from the moment he steps into her life things get…complicated. Not only is she far too pretty for his liking but she’s got a knack for telling him no.
Uncaged Review: All of Avery’s family has been in danger, with the attempted kidnapping of her sister, Noah has agreed to marry Avery and get her out of London and danger with the dowry being Bash’s stake in the Den of Sin, a gaming hell. A business arrangement that suits Noah perfectly, until he falls in love.. Mystery and danger, and love all throughout this short read. This is a good entry into this series, and I may or may not have read a bit out of order, but each book can standalone, but it does make it more enjoyable when you read in order, as other characters from past books do pop up from time to time or they are mentioned. A charming and entertaining read. Reviewed by Cyrene
Night marked L.A. McGinnis Dark Fantasy A virgin queen determined to choose her own fate. A scarred warrior marked by darkness. And the king who will kill them both to keep the throne. I was plucked from my ordinary, ho-hum life and plunked into a nightmare. Abducted by a corrupt vampire king, I’ve gone from night classes to navigating the dangerous world of the Darkfell Clan. Uncaged Review: Seraphina is a college student who is kidnapped walking home one night and tossed into the royal dungeons. Viktor, the vampire King, stole the throne by murdering all of Seraphina’s ancestors. But Seraphina has been raised as a human, with her magic and powers not fully in effect. The prisoner in the cell next to her - Luthor, knows that she is the rightful Queen, and helps to break her out, along with another prisoner, Cyrus. But the cut that she got from Viktor is not healing, so they get her to her grandmother’s home, where Seraphina learns the truth of her heritage. Now she will need to call on and use all her magic to defeat Viktor and retake the throne as the rightful heir. This book borders on horror, and does quickly turn into a reverse harem. I haven’t been reading the vampire genre for some time, so it was a good jump back into the genre. I always thought that the cover depicted Luthor, but I was wrong about that, but I won’t ruin the story. There is plenty of action, and some brutal fights, but this is one of the best starts to a series I’ve read in a while. This is a four book series, and all books are available now. Reviewed by Cyrene
Issue 65 | May/June 2022 |
Uncaged Reviews The Dragon King’s Mate Harlow Blaze Fantasy Romance
easy as pie.
Who’s more dangerous, her stalker or her king? Ava Dancing in a rowdy nightclub isn’t most girls’ career plan, but Ava makes it work. Bump, grind, flirt—
Her life shatters when she’s marked. A human that can have dragon shifter babies is a prize worth killing for, and her stalker is ready to be a dad. Uncaged Review: It’s been awhile since I’ve read
a really good dragon shifter book. And this is a good one. After reading the prequel novella, I immediately started on book one in this series, and it caught me from the beginning and held on all the way through. The dragons are well described, and it was the first time I read about dragon eyries. Ava is a dragon marked human, and things get pretty bad for her pretty fast. As an exotic dancer in a club owned by a witch, Ava is making her own way in the world after defying her family’s money and expectations. But Ava has a stalker, and the one person that can protect her is Baz, the King of the Seattle dragon shifters. Ava can’t help but be drawn to him, her dragon part of her soul wants Baz as hers and Ava has a hard time controlling it. Baz, on the other hand, can’t resist Ava either, and vows to protect her, not knowing why. Good action, steamy sex, and a good suspense awaits within the pages, and if you like the shifter world, this is a good one to add to your list.
Reviewed by Cyrene
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Last Call at Coconuts Beth Carter Humorous Contemporary
Type A+ banker Alex always knew working at a bank could prove dangerous. One fateful day confirmed her fears. While deciding whether to continue as marketing vice president, she overhears two terrifying words: “Officers down” and wonders whether her cop boyfriend was wounded—or worse. Alex continues on a downward spiral knowing she has ruined any chances of being with Mr. Right. Her life is bleak, but Alex isn’t the pity-party type at forty. Especially at forty.
Uncaged Review: The last book of this series wraps up all the ongoing mini storylines for all the ladies, and as a whole in a nice way. This book starts off with a bang, with the Show Me bank getting robbed and Alex taken as a hostage. And it keeps its pace quite well throughout the book. One thing this author does is have very short chapters that switches the focus on each character, or when they are all together. This would be very distracting for me normally, but it works here. This is a series that I would recommend that readers should start at the beginning, as you get to know the characters from where it all began. You could start anywhere in the series, but it won’t have the same experience to what all these characters have gone through. This book focuses a lot on Alex, and there have been many times in this series that I wanted to shake her, but she pulls it all off finally in this book. This book was surprising at times, with many laugh out loud moments, and even some heartwarming moments that pulled it together. I’m going to miss these characters, but this is a six book series that I could easily go back and read again, it has earned that place in my reading library. I hope that the author will give us some novellas in the future so we can “check in” with the characters.
Cinderella Melissa Frost YA Fairy Tales
Cinderella (or Ella to those who know her best) is on a mission to earn back the trust of her family and friends after nearly getting Jake killed by way of an angry, territorial unicorn. But proving she’s changed for the better may be an
Uncaged Review: A fun quick read set with a retelling of Cinderella. Even though this book is book fourth in the series, I found it easy to get to grips with the storyline and characters. There was a few laugh out loud moments. Some battles with the unexpected enemy. Even some other worldly portal business. I would definitely recommend this book and would read more in the series. Reviewed by Jen
Moments Like This Anna Gomez & Kristoffer Polaha Sweet Contemporary Romance Book One in the From Kona with Love series depicting multicultural romance, love, loss, and redemption woven into a family saga set in the beautiful islands of Hawaii. Though connected, each installment can be read as a standalone. Uncaged Review: This is the first novel in a series, and told in a way that makes me want to escape to Hawaii. The authors do a great job describing this island paradise to the point where you feel like you are there with them. The characters are well flushed out and likeable, and the romance is sweet and irresistible. Andie makes her way to her best friend’s coffee shop in Hawaii to run it while her friend takes a trip to be with her fiancé in France. Marketing is Andie’s specialty, so she puts her heart and soul into helping the coffee shop turn a profit. Along the way, she meets a man named Warren, who she slowly gets to know on weekly fun outings and you watch the love develop. Unfortunately, there is always something thrown in the way of love stories, and this one is no different. But it ends on a great happily ever after and a satisfying end. I’m glad I read the book now, and am looking forward to the movie that this is going to be turned into in the near future. I’m hoping Mr. Polaha will have a starring role. Reviewed by Cyrene
Issue 65 | May/June 2022 |
Fang-Freakin-Tastic Reviews Haunted Tamara Thorne Horror Its violent, sordid past is what draws bestselling author David Masters to the infamous Vicorian mansion called Baudey House. Its shrouded history of madness and murder is just the inspiration he needs to wriote his ultimate masterpiece of horror. But what waits for David and his sixteen-year-old daughter, Amber, at Baudey House, is more terrifying than any legend... First comes the sultry hint of jasmine...followed by the foul stench of decay. It is the dead, seducing the living, in an age-old ritual of perverted desire and unholy blood lust. For David and Amber, an unspeakable possession has begun...
Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: What a crazy, violent, amazing story this was! Thorne has outdone herself, once again. And I cannot stop thinking about this book. David and his daughter, Amber move into an old Victorian mansion that was previously used as a bordello. It just goes sideways from there. The descriptions of the architecture and stylings inside the house are outrageous, perverted, and awesome. This house has a history and mystery behind it. As David learns more about the house and it’s supposedly previous owners, it just gets darker and darker. The twists in this book could throw you out of your seat. Just when you think that’s it, there’s something else. The mystery is so deeply embedded in this property that it seems like they’ll never solve it, but are certainly getting closer and closer with each page. It moves so quickly. I felt like I’d
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just picked it up when it was over. Haunted definitely left me wanting more but not in a bad way. It’s a great story that’s well written and will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.
The Sorority Tamara Thorne Fantasy TWISTED SISTERS When Eve, Merilynn, and Samantha met at cheerleader camp at Greenbriar College years ago, they never expected to see one another again … but now they’re all pledging the same deadly sorority. Beautiful, blond Eve is an award-winning cheerleader. Sweet, and innocent, she is joining Gamma Eta Pi because it’s the house for cheerleaders. Full of school spirit, she has no idea what pledging the sorority really means: blood sacrifice, sexual magic, and terror beyond anything she’s ever dreamed. Samantha Penrose, once the tomboy of the trio, has grown into a no-nonsense journalism major whose curiosity and passion for the truth are likely to get her killed as she reconnects with Eve and Merilynn to investigate the sorority and the mysterious deaths of sisters who came before them. Intuitive Merilynn has never forgotten the night at cheerleader camp when she, Eve, and Sam, took a rowboat out on Applehead Lake and saw the ghostly lights of a long-drowned town come to life beneath them. Nor has she forgotten the glowing eyes that followed her through the forest. Did they belong to the fabled Forest Knight of Greenbriar Wood? Or was it the ghost of murdered coed Holly Gayle? Merilynn won’t rest until she unravels these mysteries … even if it kills her.
This book is as dark as it is hilarious (if you have a dark sense of humor). Thorne can write the kind of mystery you don’t see coming until its right on top of you and you’re helpless to do anything against it. Her books leave me being both scared to keep reading while also never wanting to stop. Her characters can be everything from the one you want all the good in the world for to the kind that you wish for their death. And everything in between. Honestly, my reviews for her books are the hardest to write bc I don’t want to give anything away. Just know that every minute you spend reading The Sorority is a minute well spent. She’s great at taking something simple and turning it into something terrifying. It’s well written and so fast paced that I was disappointed when I realized I’d already finished it. Only bc I wanted to keep reading in that world. That being said, I highly recommend this book (or any by Tamara Thorne).
Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: Just when I think Tamara Thorne can’t surprise me any further, she puts out another book or I find an older one I hadn’t seen yet. That’s what happened with The Sorority. As much as I love Thorne’s books, I wasn’t sure this would be one for me. Boy, was I wrong.
Issue 65 | May/June 2022 |
Fang-Freakin-Tastic Reviews It’s A Wonderful Midlife Crisis Robyn Peterman Paranormal A Paranormal Women’s Fiction with a bit of class, and a lot of sass, for anyone who feels like age is just a number! Whoever said life begins at forty must have been heavily medicated, drunk, or delusional. Thirty-nine was a fantastic year. I was married to the man I loved. I had a body that worked without creaking. My grandma, who raised me, was still healthy, and life was pretty damned good. But as they say, all good things come to an end. I’d honestly love to know who ’they’ are and rip them a new one. One year later, I’m a widow. My joints are starting to ache. Gram is in the nursing home, and dead people think my home is some kind of supernatural bed and breakfast. Gluing body parts onto semi-transparent people has become a side job—deceased people I’m not even sure are actually there. I think they need my help, but since I don’t speak dead, we’re having a few issues. To add to the heap of trouble, there’s a new dangerously smokin’ hot lawyer at the firm who won’t stop giving me the eye. My BFF is thrilled with her new frozen face, thanks to her plastic surgeon, her alimony check, and the miracle of Botox. And then there’s the little conundrum that I’m becoming way too attached to my ghostly squatters… Like Cher, I’d like to turn back time. Now.
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Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: This was one of the first midlife books/series I read. It’s nice to see characters around my age who don’t have all the answers and are bumbling along in life like the rest of us. Up til now, all of the midlife books I’d read had been about a woman who’d gone through a horrible divorce. This one was different bc she was a widow. I’m still waiting for one about an average older woman who’s married with no intention of getting divorced or has a dead spouse and is just bored. Maybe I’ll write it myself. Anyway, the main character misses her husband terribly and now her Gram is in a nursing home. New things are behind every corner for her and now she can see ghosts who expect her to help them move into the light. Fun right? Except these ghosts have parts of their body fall off and she’s expected to put them back together. She also has a hard time understanding what they’re trying to tell her, so there’s a language barrier of sorts. I will say this first book is more of a building block to the rest of the series than a full story by itself. If you want any hope to enjoy it, plan to read them sequentially. I wasn’t happy about that when I first finished this book, but once I realized there were several more of them, I just went along for the ride. They’re well written so it’s easy to lose your sense of time when you’re reading. Overall, I really did enjoy this series. Especially Karma’s character. She’s great lol.
It’s a Plunderful Life Ginger Kidd Paranormal Women’s Fiction Welcome to Gallows Bay, where the seafood is amazing, the hottest ticket in town is a theme park with no rides, and dead pirates sometimes refuse to stay dead. I had my whole life planned out—until, that is, my husband of twenty-eight years dropped a bombshell on me. At a mall food court, no less. Now that I’m going through a decidedly unplanned divorce, the one place I want to be is my family’s theme park in Gallows Bay. Don’t get the wrong idea, it’s not the happiest place on Earth (TM). But it does have something special that sets it apart: Magic. Real. Magic. Okay, so my life is no longer going according to plan. I have to figure out this magic stuff, all while licking my wounds, reconnecting with old friends, dealing with a resentful stepsister, and pulling the occasional housekeeping shift at the park. And that’s all before I accidentally summon the ghost of an eighteenth-century pirate hunter with a healthy fear of women’s ankles. I’ve got a lot on my plate, and I’ve got to figure everything out fast because someone is sabotaging my family’s theme park. And if they succeed, a long-dead pirate may finally get the vengeance he’s been waiting for… It’s a Plunderful Life is the first book in the Gallows Bay Series, for people who believe in new beginnings, the power of female friendships, and the wisdom that comes with growing older.
Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: This book (and series) was fun. It had a bit of a different spin than the rest of the midlife magic style books I’ve read lately. I’ve finished the whole series already but I’ll try not to give away any spoilers. I liked the variety of magical entities brought up. The way the author tied local history into the story is probably what really grabbed my attention. It made it so that if Gallows Bay were real, I’d want to visit. The Enchanted Forest sounds like a fun place to see in real life. Something else I really enjoyed was the sense of humor the author gave the main character. It made her more relatable, and she reminded myself of me in some ways. She has a good heart and isn’t oblivious to the needs of others. She’s kind but people see that kindness as a weakness. The other characters were fun to get to know as well. Ichabod sounded the most interesting to me. But that’s probably just the history nerd in me. The lady at the historical society and Cass’s ex-husband did make me a little insane though. Overall, this was an easily enjoyable series with lots of laughs along the way. The twists and turns kept me guessing the whole time. It moved at a good pace and I didn’t notice if it dragged anywhere.
Issue 65 | May/June 2022 |
Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews Slaughterville Rod Glenn Dark Humor
Into the Sunlight Ted Tayler Noir Crime
There’s a newcomer to the small Northumberland village of Haydon...a charming novelist and movie buff, researching a crime thriller about a serial killer on a rampage in a remote Northumberland community. The only trouble is, it’s a work in progress and it’s going to be non-fiction.
Who killed Danute Zukas, a twenty-three-year-old Lithuanian girl, in July 2014? Danute arrived in Bath in March 2011, worked in a late-night bar, and was well-liked and happy. Then in April 2012 she quit her job and disappeared.
Amy’s Review: Brilliant and Magnetic What a thrilling, and chilling story in Slaughterville by Rod Glenn. This book is an adaptation created from Glenn’s Sinema series (which I’ve read and loved). I can’t help it. I love horror stories when they make sense, even if killing off a whole town makes sense. Anyway, I was very excited to read this story, and definitely was not disappointed. You know it’s going to be something chilling when the book is dedicated to the demon inside! I am a definite fan of this author! Whatever this author writes, I read. The town of Haydon, Northumberland was never the same again... as ““Hannibal Whitman (Han)” was born, and he had a purpose. A mission. As a reader, and as Han, you get to know the people of Haydon, interesting lives, interesting people, with no clue about the newcomer to their quaint town. Han was thorough. He was a very uniquely raw and intense character and was very well planned for what was about to come next. This book deserves a second read! (and maybe more). The characterizations are engrossing and dynamic. Who knew such evil could exist? This read was an adaptation of the original books, and I have to say, that I enjoyed this one as much as the others. And it’s not easy to say you love a book called “Slaughterville.”
Amy’s Review: Another great cold case investigation! What a superb story in Into the Sunlight by Ted Tayler. I am a big fan of this author! Whatever this author writes, I read. I really like Gus and the Crime Review Team, and their investigations are not just professional, but they put their heart and soul into solving them. And it’s not all about the investigation, it’s about each person, and how they are different but work well together. This is just another really, really, really wonderfully written book by Tayler. I do love his work, but I always pick up his books with no expectations about the story, but every book gets even better and better. This one is book 16, yes, 16, and if you love a great thriller, with suspense and drama, these are the books to read. Actually, anything by Tayler is worth reading. And if you do, start from book one, and you will not be disappointed. I love it when a Legacy author sends me more of their work! It’s definitely un-put-downable! This story captures the reader’s attention at chapter 1. The author’s technique of raw, magnetic characters and great plotlines is a gift. It’s a great story to follow and try to figure out what will happen next. I can’t help it, I just love Gus! And there is news between him and Suzie, but you have to read it to find out.
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MANNAHATTA Sherry V. Ostroff Historical Fiction Abandoning the ship was risky. It meant Anna never returning to Scotland and reuniting with her daughter. Instead, Anna and her Highlander, Alain MacArthur, faced an uncertain future in colonial Manhattan, where they knew no one, except for an old adversary seeking revenge. Amy’s Review: A Magnetic sequel What a brilliant story in MANNAHATTA by Sherry V. Ostroff. This story is the sequel to Caledonia, which I absolutely loved. Two women, strong and facing adversity in their own era, their stories are 300 years apart, and have this deep connection. Anna’s life is several generations before Hanna and her story is told because of Hanna. Her life is relived and comes alive because of Hanna. Both of their stories are significant, and amazing, and Ostroff set the eras perfectly, with dress, distress, and life itself. Anna and Alain had to jump ship, leaving a lot behind in Scotland, and facing who knows what. The story is well written, and very detailed, and each woman’s story is integral to the others. I am a definite fan of this author! Whatever this author writes, I want to read. It’s definitely un-put-downable! It is always an honor to read this author’s books. This author is a great storyteller. The story brings the reader on a superb journey. This story was very unpredictable. This author not only tells the story but shows it with words as well.
Yin: Completing the Leadership Journey Lisa Marshall Non-Fiction
Yin, Completing the Leadership Journey is a book, a guided reflective journey, and a workbook that will help you uncover the power and the strength in your
Amy’s Review: A very spiritual and faithful journey What an inspirational and incredible title in Yin: Completing the Leadership Journey by Lisa Marshall. After reading this book, and completing some of the worksheets, I felt empowered a bit. I am on my own journey, looking for a healthy soul, and this book came at the right moment. It’s a journey of leadership, but I felt it was much more than that. The exploration of Yin, also included the journey of Yang, which is a story about external growth (and more). I recommend buying the book, it’s something you should have in your hand, and then instead of filling out the sheets in the book (you can if you want) but you can also go to the website where you buy the book and download the worksheets. Yin is a symbol of earth, feminine, darkness, passivity and absorption. Yang is heaven, masculinity and light. However, in reading this book, I found that the author agrees that Yin is not one gender over another. She writes, “It is, however, what is missing in the world today. It is also the dark, moist and fertile interior world.” I know that I will definitely keep this beautiful book, somewhere I can always reference it, and definitely look more into Yin and Yang, and how maybe it can help myself.
Issue 65 | May/June 2022 |
Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews A Kind of Hush JoDee Neathery Mystery A Kind of Hush examines how life is seldom a tidy affair exploring whether there is a gray area between right and wrong. Matt and Summer Mackie with children Willa and Gabe are enjoying a June outing at nearby Zoar Valley Gorge, an area showcasing waterfalls, forests, shale cliffs, and a whitewater creek running through the ravine, when tragedy strikes Amy’s Review: Tragedy and Triumph can blur the line!! What a magnetic story in A Kind of Hush by JoDee Neathery. I have become a big fan of this author! Whatever this author writes, I read, and this is the first book of this author that I’ve read. This author brings the story to life. It’s a life altering story when secrets linger in a family and all of a sudden, the world turns upside down, and shakes the family to their core. The story brings the reader on a superb journey. This is a magnificent story that kept this reader turning the pages. This title is a definite attention grabber, so much I couldn’t put it down. It’s one of those embraceable stories. It’s definitely un-put-downable! I was so honored to read this work. Simply masterful. The title drew me in, but the story made me stay.
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The Caucasus Cauldron James Lingard Suspense/Thriller This breathtaking and brutal novel is a gripping tale set in the magnificent Caucasus Mountains during Georgia’s ill-fated invasion of Abkhazia in 1992. The Caucasus Cauldron gives a vivid focus to a historical moment left out of the history books, a world ripping itself apart and ravaged by never-ending hatred and blood feuds. Amy’s Review: A gripping thriller! What a wonderful story in The Caucasus Cauldron by James Lingard. I haven’t read work from this author before, and I enjoyed this story. This is a great historical thriller. This author brings the story to life. This author has a great imagination. Filled with spies, terrorists, and Russians, plus a lot more. In 1992 (which is an interesting year to now be called historical). The story revolves around Mac, the protagonist of the story, and is on a secret mission. The Georgian war has created separation, vengeance, and even distrust and hate. It’s an interesting and intriguing story to follow. It is a very well-written plot, and I enjoyed it. The characters are so engrossing. If you love a good spy and conspiracy thrillers, this book should be next on your list. The reader goes back in time, all the way to 1992.
The Covid Protocols Abdiel LeRoy Non-Fiction Did you know that, under international law, no-one can demand you get a medical test, wear a mask, or have any other medical procedure?
Amy’s Review: Very informative information! This title The Covid Protocols: Upholding Your Rights in Authoritarian Times by Abdiel LeRoy seems to be a controversial book, especially in times of COVID. However, it is worth the read to get information that you may or may not know. Everyone, globally should know what their rights are, where they live, and even if there are international laws that are different than your country’s laws. In the United States, we have the Constitution, and I strongly believe in freedom of speech. Yes, there are stipulations, but writing a book is not like yelling “fire” in a movie theater. I love the writings of this author, and I always learn something new, and one thing is the passion behind the words, and even the research when his topics may seem “controversial.” His words are his own, and he writes them well. He’s one of the best writers I’ve had the pleasure to read, and he writes different topics, but all are told with passion, and belief. He refers to this book as the “Constitutional Bible,” and he may be right. If you disagree with the topic of this book, don’t read it. If you’re curious, definitely read this book. I was honored to read it.
Mumblings of a Mortician Arthur Sesnovich & Frank Quaglia Death & Grief/Non-fiction If you think being a mortician simply means putting people in caskets or burning them into ashes, you don’t know the funeral business. And you definitely don’t know Peter Stefan. Amy’s Review: Amazingly humorous stories, all true!
What a magnificent title in Mumblings of a Mortician by Arthur Sesnovich & Frank Quaglia. I haven’t read from these authors before, but this book is highly recommended. Death is not always a gruesome business, and even though it may seem to be routine for those who run a funeral home, but it is not just about the death, the wake, the cremation, and the grief. There is a lot more to it, including the most remarkable, more like insanely remarkable requests or “customs” that Peter Stefan heard frequently, and humored enough to share the stories. In the preface, Peter Stefan wrote “Open this wacky treasure to any page. If you burst out laughing, or cringe with delight at what might come next, then buy this book.” I also found out that Peter Stefan passed away recently. I am glad that his legacy of stories are being shared by these two authors, who undoubtedly cared deeply for this man. Something I discovered is that in 2013, Stefan accepted the remains of Boston Marathon Bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, a move that drew protests and death threats. I read an article where he responded, ““I can’t treat him as a terrorist. I have to treat him as a dead body,” Stefan explained to me. “The fact of the matter is, I can’t control the circumstances around a death or what a person did or what they died from, I can’t pick and choose.”” This just made me go back and read the stories all over again. This is something I want on my bookshelf. Stefan tells stories about everything from a very heavy man’s cremation setting the chimney on fire to very interesting conversations. Everyone should read this book, not just to laugh out loud (and when you do, embrace it) but to honor a man who knew there was more to death than just grief.
Issue 65 | May/June 2022 |
Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews Silk Chris Karlsen Historical Thriller
Wander Home Karen A. Wyle Psychological Thriller
It is the time of Jack the Ripper, the widowed Queen Victoria sits on the throne of England. The whole of London is on edge wondering when or where Jack will kill next. The Palace, Parliament, and the press are demanding the police do more to find him.
Eleanor never wanted to leave the daughter she loved so much. The overpowering urge to wander -- to search, without knowing what she sought -- drove her away. She left little Cassidy in her family’s loving care. But Cassidy and the others died in an accident before Eleanor could find her way home.
Amy’s Review: Magnificent story! What a magnetic and intriguing story in Silk by Chris Karlsen. I am a definite fan of this author! Whatever this author writes, I read. This author brings the story to life. The era is Victorian, where Jack the Ripper was on his rampage, but this isn’t that story. There is another dangerous monster out there, and it’s Bloodstone’s job to find him. I was drawn in from the beginning. At first, I wasn’t quite sure of what William was doing, but then it made sense, and the intrigue began. It’s definitely un-put-downable! The characterizations are engrossing and dynamic. I just love, love, love this story. The author’s technique of raw, magnetic characters and great plotlines is a gift. It’s a great story to follow and try to figure out what will happen next. Just when you think you know what is going to happen, something else happens, and makes you dive deeper into the story. I get the title name Silk, and it’s relevance within the story. It’s historical. It’s a thriller, suspenseful and intriguing. Detective Bloodstone certainly has a task to figure out the who, how and why of the crime, and any yet to come.
Amy’s Review: Brilliant!!! What a magnificently magnetic story in Wander Home by Karen A. Wyle. Life isn’t any easier in the afterlife. You still have to deal with the memories, both good and bad of when you were alive. That goes for Cassidy, whose mother left her when she was young, but then Cassidy died. I liked Wyle’s perception of the afterlife. It’s a remarkable story, and the characters were interesting, and not one dimensional. We never knows what happens after death, and this could be one thing that happens. Who knows? I am a definite fan of this author! Whatever this author writes, I read. This author brings the story to life. It’s definitely un-put-downable! It is always an honor to read this author’s books. This author is a great storyteller. The story brings the reader on a superb journey. The author’s technique of raw, magnetic characters and great plotlines is a gift. It’s a great story to follow and try to figure out what will happen next. This author’s characters develop and interacts well with the other characters.
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Wall Street West: The Gathering in the Age of Darkness Khafra K Om-Ra-Seti SciFi By 2024, Federal Reserve Chairman, King James, and a group of global ultra-wealthy billionaire secret societies had solidified their grip on the global economy. Their next move was to capture the White House and to bring about the total manifestation of plutocracy in America. Amy’s Review: Interesting fantasy What a remarkable title in Wall Street West: The Gathering in the Age of Darkness by Khafra K OmRa-Seti. I have read this author’s nonfiction books about finances and world economic meltdown, so this is a different type of read for me. I didn’t know what to expect, but I found this story very interesting, and in its own, it’s a fantasy of something that could possibly happen. It’s an economic failure chilling thrill. Each character is strongly developed and has a reason and a purpose. It was a very interesting plot that made this story come to life. The plot is wrapped around economy and politics, and how to fix the failures, and how it affects the characters. There are twists at every turn. It’s a great story to follow and try to figure out what will happen next.
Only In New York 3 M. G. Crisci Humorous Fiction COME CELEBRATE NEW YORK’S UNIQUE DNA. 38 more humorous, poignant, entertaining, and powerful short stories about a New York that is almost gone, chronicled by Manhattanborn M.G. Crisci, the critically acclaimed author of 18 books based on true events. Amy’s Review: Interesting and more truths of the DNA of NY Matthew Crisci’s third book of Only in New York. And more great stories and interesting encounters, and I do recommend reading the first two that came before this one. Only in NY 3 tells 38 stories, which span over 55 years and the five boroughs of New York City. I personally, live in upstate NY, and have never been to the City, but I absolutely loved reading this author’s stories. One thing I do recommend (besides reading this book is looking at the sketches. Crisci writes “New Yorkers are a curious lot. On one hand, we appear to be arrogant, confident, aloof, insular, and maybe even a little callous. On the other hand, we have a DNA like no other city in the world. We can be other-worldly, kind, sensitive, and willing to offer amazing kindnesses to those in need.” Crisci grew up in the city, so he understands all sides of the city. I read each story and kept coming back to “Why Warren Lucker?” I loved each story, and I could almost hear Crisci’s voice tell the story. He was once on our podcast, and read for us, and now, when I read his work, I hear his voice telling the story. Simply magnificent. The stories will tug at your heart, make you smile, and even laugh out loud. This unusual trilogy is meant to be read and cherished. Crisci is the son of American. I know from the author that this book was written to tell his legacy of stories to his children and grandchildren, and each one will receive the hardcover version of this story. I must say that this book deserves to be on everyone’s shelf, hardcover or paperback, and yes, if you must, kindle.
Issue 65 | May/June 2022 |
Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews Rose’s Assignment Melina Druga Historical Fiction Rose excels at sweet talking. Judith escapes north to Canada searching for freedom. Two dissimilar women suddenly find their lives connected.
Amy’s Review: Brilliant Read! What a remarkable story in Rose’s Assignment by Melina Druga. I am a definite fan of this author! Whatever this author writes, I want to read. Rose has a story of her own, and what a magnificent story it is. In previous works by this author, Rose is the grandmother of Hettie. Now, here we are, learning about Rose’s strength, and how much of an impact she made on her family and others. She was part of the Underground Railroad that ran up to Canada. The story takes the reader back to 1859, years after Canada finally abolished slavery (1834). Rose faces a challenge, and almost looks at it as a defeat or lost cause, but Lewis knows how to get her focused again, and take care of what needs to be done, lost cause or not. Druga certainly did her research, and hits all the notes of a historical story, but it is more than just a story. It tugs at your heart. It shows how life was, and there is this connection between Judith and Rose, that almost seems impossible. A very well told story, actually, it’s all about showing the story and getting to know the characters, and this certainly does that. It’s definitely un-put-downable! It is always an honor to read this author’s books. This author is a great storyteller. Masterfully written!
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Walking Through Fire CJ Bahr Historical Romance https://amzn.to/3ylMpuN Simon MacKay, the last Earl of Cleitmuir, was murdered two hundred years ago because of his family’s dangerous legacy. Alone and cursed he haunts his home in order to protect the lost treasure. Amy’s Review: Brilliant What a magnificent story in Walking Through Fire by CJ Bahr. This is not only the first book I’ve read by this author, but the first book in the three-book (so far) series The Fire Chronicles. I started reading it, and then took a step back. Simon died, and since I don’t read the descriptions of the books or other reviews, I was shocked, and taken aback. Then I thought, hmm, this is going to be interesting. I was wrong. It was more than interesting, it was intriguing, and definitely a book that I wanted to take my time reading. I have just become a big fan of this author’s work. So, now, it’s modern day, and Laurel is saved by Simon. Yes, he’s still dead. Murdered two hundred years ago. He’s wandering because of unfinished business, and Laurel has to help him. First, I like Simon, even dead, he’s a great character, and very intriguing. There is also the twists and turns of the story, and how the living and dead are affected by each other. Emotions can burn and run high in this brilliant story. It’s one of those embraceable stories. It’s definitely un-put-downable! Both thrilling and intriguing, all the way to the end. I can’t wait to read the other stories from this author that I have on my bookshelf
The Son of Sam and Me Brian Whitney and Carl Denaro Biography An alleged victim of the Son of Sam shares his search for the truth about who really tried to kill him in this true crime story.
Amy’s Review: Incredibly terrifying Brian Whitney and Carl Denaro write about the son of Sam in THE SON OF SAM AND ME. I have read work from Brian Whitney before, and he writes incredible true crime stories. David Berkowitz was also know as the Son of Sam (he swore his neighbor’s dog Sam told him to kill on behalf of the devil). The Son of Sam is one of those famous or infamous serial killer crimes. The killer did eight shootings, killing six of the eight victims. There was a manhunt, and Berkowitz confessed, and told them why. There are also laws that were based on this serial killer. This book was written very well. It was detailed and terrifying, especially because Carl Denaro, was one of the victims who survived. When Berkowitz was charged with the assault on Denaro, he denied it. Now, Denaro believes him after his own investigation. This is a very intriguing book, and some of the conclusions make you wonder if Berkowitz didn’t act alone, or someone used his MO.
Never See the Sun Again Susan Feltman Dystopian Fiction By the year 2350, New York City lies in ruins, utterly deserted, skyscrapers broken and open to the sky. Forced underground by a hugely powerful hurricane 300 years earlier, the 7,000 souls who sheltered in the subway system became the sole survivors of what was once a great city. Amy’s Review: The global warming affect in the future! What a remarkable dystopian, end of the world story in Never See the Sun Again: Love, Redemption and Global Warming: Life Beneath the Surface by Susan Feltman. I am now a big fan of this author! I haven’t read work from this author before, and I enjoyed this story. The journey into the future takes the reader to 2350. What I really liked about this story is even though is seems like the end of the world, it’s not zombies, a pandemic, aliens, or dangerous villains that take over the world, it’s global warming. Can it be fixed? Could it have been prevented? Surviving New Yorkers are trying to deal with their environment, as global warming created one of the most powerful hurricanes, and it destroyed the skyline of New York City. The survivors now live in the subway, as it saved their lives. It’s a journey for people to deal with it, and come together, but not everyone is on board with trying to watch the sun rise. It is a very well-written plot, and I enjoyed it. It’s one of those embraceable stories. The thrills and intrigue is written clearly.
Issue 65 | May/June 2022 |
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