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ISSUE 10 | MAY 2017

Featured Authors M.D. Massey Beth Donaldson Lee Piper R.L. Blalock Stacy Hoff Claire Buss

Fang-Freakin-Tastic Featured Author Christian J. Alecci

Short Stories

The Road Home

by Kris Pearson

A Walk in the Park

by Helen Pryke

The Archfield Ceremony

by Julia Byrd

with

Catch Up

Katherine McIntyre & Romarin Demetri with new releases!

Reviews by:

Uncaged Fang-Freakin-Tastic Myra’s Horror Blog Amy’s Bookshelf


contents

featureauthors

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LeePiper

48

24

StacyHoff

60

BethDonaldson

catchup

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44

Interview • Stay Connected • Excerpt from Rock My World & a sneak peek of Rock My Body • Review of Rock My World

R.L.Blalock

Interview • Stay Connected • Excerpt from Devour

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Katherine McIntyre

As she gets ready to release the final book in The Philadelphia Chronicles, we’ll see what’s up next for this talented author.

ClaireBuss

Interview • Stay Connected • Excerpt from The Gaia Effect • Review of The Gaia Effect

M.D.Massey

Interview • Stay Connected • Excerpt from THEM: Invasion • Reviews of THEM: Invasion & THEM: Incursion

Interview • Stay Connected • Excerpt from Betting on Love in Vegas

Interview • Stay Connected • Excerpt from Just a Taste • Reviews of Something to Talk About & Just a Taste

Issue 10 | May 2017

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Romarin Demetri We Catch Up with Romarin as she releases the third book in The Supernatural London Underground series.

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comprehensivereview R.L.Blalock 65 Uncaged in-depth review of Devour

shortstories 10

The Road Home

FangFreakinTastic

featureauthor

81

Excerpt and Review of Suburbia

sneakpeeks 8

Kris Pearson

37

ChristianAlecci

Kevin O’Donnell gives us a sneak peek of the satire, Macrudd, King of Oz

A Walk in the Park Helen Pryke

71 The Archfield Ceremony

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B.A. McIntosh & Elizabeth Spaur give us a sneak peek of the romance, Love’s First Blush

Julia Byrd

4 Editor’s Desk 5 Bargain Bin 57 Best Seller Lists 89 New Releases 90 Uncaged Reviews 100 Fang-Freakin-Tastic Reviews 102 Myra’s Horror Blog Reviews 106 Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews

Issue 10 | May 2017 |

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from the

editor’s desk

Welcome to Issue 9, April 2017 - Uncaged Book Reviews! This month, dig in to our featured authors: M.D. Massey, Beth Donaldson, Lee Piper, Claire Buss, R.L. Blalock and Stacy Hoff! I can’t thank them all enough, for sharing their talents with us. Fang-Freakin-Tastic also brings Uncaged a feature author with Christian Alecci! We also have three short stories for you this month from Kris Pearson, Helen Pryke and Julia Byrd!

Uncaged Book Reviews is undergoing a design change, to become sleeker and to better highlight the authors. I hope you will enjoy the new look as it rolls out. Uncaged will Catch Up with Katherine McIntyre and Romarin Demetri, past Featured Authors, both with new releases and what’s been happening since we last spoke. In our Comprehensive Reviews, our down and dirty, in-depth review of a book and all the nitty gritty nuances, Kaitlin jumps into Devour by R.L. Blalock, part of the Death and Decay series. There are also reviews from Uncaged, Fang-Freakin-Tastic, Myra’s Horror Blog Reviews and Amy’s Bookshelf! Uncaged now has a Facebook Share page - you may share websites, books and promotions (keep it related to books please) once per day, per member. Conversations are encouraged! Our reviewer Jennifer is your wonderful moderator. Authors can now submit a Short Story, and in return, I’ll give space for either a full page ad, or a 1-page Sneak Peek of a book for an approved story. You can read more about that here. Because of the amount of work on our small farm, from May-September, there will only be 6 Featured Author slots per month during this time. Get your requests in early. And that won’t be all! There are a lot more new features coming. I will soon be offering free web features for those that support Uncaged through advertising. The Featured Authors that are promoted in Uncaged, is a FREE service to authors. The only requirements being that Uncaged has read at least one of the author’s books, and that I ask that the authors share the magazine with their networks. Read about that HERE. Uncaged is supported through advertising. Please see the Advertising in Uncaged tab on the site for more information on how you can advertise in the magazine and support the Uncaged mission to promote authors.

All inquiries: UncagedBooks@gmail.com or cyrene.olson@gmail.com So thank you and enjoy the April issue of Uncaged Book Reviews!

UncagedBooks.com


Bargain Bin

Bargains, Free Reads & Giveaways On any day, you can go to Goodreads and find author giveaways. Great way to discover new authors and enter to win free books, both print and eBooks.

Blog Roll Call Contributors, Advertising Swaps

Follow Uncaged on Facebook

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway

Free Book Sifter

This site will sniff out all the free eBooks being offered on Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Amazon. Choose the site you’re looking for in the drop down list. I’ve found many new authors in Amazon’s freebies, but sometimes searching can be daunting. This site helps narrow down the search. http://www.freebooksifter.com/ FreeBooksy.com

Paranormal lover’s rejoice. Uncaged review contributors.

A blog for horror fans. Uncaged review contributors.

Pick your genre and let FreeBooksy find the deals, even freebies! Free-Ebooks.net Choose your passion from fiction, non-fiction, academic and even audio books. Free to join, free ebooks to download.

A little bit of everything. Uncaged review contributors.

BookBub.com Let BookBub send you daily deals right to your email, customized to your perferences.

Help for authors and businesses.

instafreebie.com Every Friday, InstaFreebie will email you with weekend freebies from all genres.

If you’d like your banner here, please email me at UncagedBooks@gmail.com Issue 10 | May 2017 |

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showcase

KevinO’Donnell

Macrudd, King of Oz Macrudd, King of Oz Kevin O’Donnell Satire

The book is in the form of a satirical play, loosely styled on Shakespeare’s Macbeth. The main characters are caricatures of the leading figures in Australian politics in recent years. There is much back-room organising, back-stabbing, number-crunching, plotting the downfall of Prime Ministers – not to mention plenty of crude and fruity language (used in context and reflecting the actual words and phrases of the characters on whom it is based). None of the characters will escape ridicule or emerge completely unscathed from the author’s sharp pen – or the even sharper tongues of their colleagues and co-plotters.

bookventure.com

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US Review of Books “You all know that I have supported the queen throughout her reign. Today, I announce that I can no longer do so.” Presented in the form of a play, this story uses political satire and the formula of Shakespeare’s Macbeth to tell the story of former Australian Prime Ministers Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard, Tony Abbott, and others. In the context of this story, Rudd is MacRudd, King of Oz, a boorish leader who makes it impossible for anyone to schedule a meeting with him, is constantly surrounded by mountains of unfinished paperwork, and quick to blame anyone other than himself when something goes wrong. The Red Witch, the fictional persona of Gillard, is a loyal assistant to MacRudd, but she is talked into deposing the king by Simon the Clean, the Black Swan, Winky Bill, and others. The conspiracy informs the Red Witch that MacRudd is leading Oz down a path that their ruling organization will not recover from. Reluctantly, the Red Witch accepts to oust MacRudd from the throne and take over leadership as a sensible alternative. MacRudd is infuriated by the turning of his loyal supporters and his own deposition and vows to rally against the Red Witch, even though she is a member of the same party as he. In an attempt to placate MacRudd, the Red Witch makes him a roving ambassador. MacRudd accepts the position but continues his machinations to return to power behind the scenes. When public opinion turns against the Red Witch, MacRudd’s own plans cast him in a favorable light once more. The internal struggle between MacRudd and the Red Witch opens the door for the Mad Monk (Abbott) and his party to seize control as an alternative to all the in-fighting of the current regime.


In order to tell this tale of recent Australian politics, the author combines the familiar structure and themes of Macbeth and applies them to this modern situation. The script format hearkens it even more closely to its inspirational source, and the satire reads confidently, even going as far as to include political cartoon-style illustrations of the various characters throughout the book. Obviously in a work such as this, only the point of view of the author is presented, but the writing is done well enough that readers won’t simply need to agree to enjoy this play, they simply need to be able to take a joke and enjoy the storytelling. The re-imagining of Macbeth is unique enough that it doesn’t simply feel like a carbon copy, but at the same time functions in a way that could help someone understand the plot of Macbeth had they never read it before. Overall, this is a lighthearted, breezy read that is purely entertaining and enjoyable. The story doesn’t require any knowledge going into reading it, but it certainly helps enhance an understanding of what the satire is trying to represent. From the legislature and policy discusses to the characters themselves, it may not be a bad idea for readers confused by what is happening to do a little research on their own and enhance the comedy and the storytelling crafted by the author. Like all political satire, this work serves to take world leaders past and present down a couple pegs, and it succeeds in exposing the most base human qualities exhibited behind closed doors. If readers can appreciate parody and the thin line between honesty and caricature, they’ll appreciate everything this play is about.

About the Author Kevin O’Donnell is a former Australian lawyer, who has been busy as an author since retiring from 43 years of legal practice. He has recently published his first book ‘Tales from the Oldest Profession – as told by a very common lawyer’. He is now an observer and commentator, with a keen eye on political trends and developments, and has condensed Australian political events into a rollicking tale, with a cast of colourful characters who might or might not resemble some of Australia’s leading politicians of recent times. Issue 10 | May 2017 |

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Short story The Road Home

by Kris Pearson


| SHORT STORY |

The Road Home Kris Pearson www.krispearson.com

lawn. Brigitte, whoever she was, should be off work by now. He grabbed his phone. “Hello? Brigitte Foster.” Not foreign. “Yeah – enquiring about your dogs.”

Brigitte Foster sat astride the puttering quad-bike and for about the ninety-ninth time reviewed her decision to leave the farm. Majestic and beautiful, the land made her heart swell. The shepherding job at Silver Peaks had been an incredible opportunity. She’d learned so much. Stretched her confidence. Loved working with her dogs.

“Oh.” Was he too late? Had she already sold them? “All Border Collies? Unusual. No Huntaways?” “Well, my first was a Collie. And she was so good, I just…” She hesitated. “Kept going with the same?” Steve supplied.

But she was lonely with no prospective partner on the horizon. And in winter, in the snow, she froze here – however many layers of wool and waterproofing she piled on.

“Yes. Three and four years old, like I said in the ad.”

Further down the steep hill her younger dogs were in good control of the woolly mob they were driving to the yards. Fella, Ben and Hitch had long futures ahead of them. It would almost kill her to sell them, but they’d bring good prices, and that was the reality of her life. She whistled, and her signal echoed through the valley. The trio turned the mob fractionally. She twisted around on the quad and fondled old Jess’s head for comfort. The Border Collie gazed at her with adoring eyes, one of which was clouded with cataracts. They’d started their first job together when Brigitte was eighteen; no way would Jess ever be sold.

Nothing for a few moments, then a sigh. “I don’t want to. I love shepherding, but this place is so cold. I don’t think I could stand another snowy winter.”

*

Steve scratched his jaw. She was probably ugly as sin. Boring as batshit. Needy. A talker. He summoned up every reason why this was a bad idea, but not looking forward to yet another microwaved ready-meal on his own he asked, “Can you get as far as Hunterville? I’m south of Halcombe. We could meet at the pub, grab some food, discuss the dogs.”

Steven Summerfield scanned the online farming news and stopped when he found the ad for three working dogs. Owner giving up shepherding. Why? Illness? Retirement? No clues, except that the dogs worked well as a team, and there was an unwritten but somehow obvious plea they should be kept together. Steve needed another good dog, but not three. The ad ended with ‘Brigitte’ and her mobile number. Maybe a foreigner leaving New Zealand? The name Brigitte sounded somewhat foreign. He glanced at the time, then out to the leaf-strewn 10 | UncagedBooks.com

He swung his feet onto the coffee table and settled into the sofa cushions. “Why are you selling?”

“So move somewhere warmer. Where are you?” “Outside Taihape.” He whistled. “Yup—like a freezer up there sometimes.” “And… also… it’s not that I’m exactly lonely, but everyone’s married here, and decent social events are pretty few and far between.”

He squeezed his eyes closed and grimaced, embarrassed to be practically begging a total stranger for a date. But yeah, unrewarding social events, no suitable partner in sight—not a million miles from his own situation. With his parents in Europe for a longdelayed holiday he was stuck here rattling around in the big house, keeping the whole farm going. He’d had enough of his own company.


| KRIS PEARSON | “This evening? I could be there by seven-thirty? I have photos of the dogs on my phone.” Huh! He sat up straight. “O-kayyyy… The Argyle on the corner? That’s a bit further for you to travel than me. Or there’s Ohingaiti?” “Hunterville’s fine. I wasn’t planning on doing anything too important tonight.” Suddenly energised, Steve set his feet on the floor. “Right. I’m six two. Wearing a grey jersey with a black stripe around the chest.”

“Brigitte?” She glanced over her shoulder. Bright blue eyes inspected him. “Steven?” “Or just Steve. You’re here. Great.” She turned to fully face him. “Wasn’t sure quite how long the drive would take. Can I buy you a beer?” “As long as I pay for dinner.” She began to object, and he dived in with, “To make up the petrol difference. You drove further.”

“Long blonde pony-tail,” the unknown Brigitte replied. “Um… red hoodie. See ya.”

“Pffft!” she said. “I bet you drive a real gas-guzzler if you’re thinking like that.”

*

He shrugged and grinned. “A Steinie, then. Thanks.”

Brigitte sucked on her bottom lip. Why on earth had she agreed? At least she couldn’t come to any harm in a pub. If he was an old perv she’d simply leave and curse the waste of time and petrol. But six-two – he couldn’t fake that. And he’d sounded businesslike. Not so old, either.

*

She glanced at her watch. No time for a shower or messing with makeup, but some fresh lip gloss at least, and she’d brush out her hair because the wind in the hills had whipped it into a tangled mess. They’d only be talking about dogs, for heaven’s sake. * Steve drove up to Hunterville with the radio on full blast to keep him awake. His dad was away for weeks yet, farm-hand Hemi was unwilling to go too far from base with his wife expecting their first child any day now, and he’d given Gav the sack after finding two more concealed marijuana plots on Summerfield land. Which left him way short of manpower and stressed to the max.

By nine o’clock, knowing he’d lose her soon to that long drive home on lonely dark roads, Steve gathered his courage and drew a deep breath. “Come and work with me and see if Halcombe’s warm enough for you?”

He coasted to a halt outside the pub and the evening chill hit him as he stepped out of the ute. Yep, no fun working in snow for too long. You couldn’t blame the girl for wanting to get away from it. Inside, beer fumes and the rich smell of grilling steaks and frying chips settled around him, and a long blonde pony-tail shook and jiggled over a red hoodie as its owner engaged in conversation with the barman. Her?

He had no idea where the time went, but it flew. Shearing, rugby, TV, music. The dogs barely got a mention. She’d given notice for the end of the month and had another week to go.

Her pretty mouth fell open. Those blue eyes grew practically round, and she looked so cute like that. He swallowed, and pushed on. “Mum and Dad are away for another six weeks. I’m short staffed. I could really do with some help right now. Treat it as a trial until they get back. No strings. Have a think. We could do this again Saturday lunchtime and talk about it?” “Well… no… ummm… why? Really?” He let her splutter on, enjoying her surprised confusion. Suddenly it seemed like a brilliant idea. She closed her eyes. “But I’d made up my mind to leave farming. You can’t imagine how tough that was. Going around in circles, weighing everything up. I don’t know if I want to go back on my decision. Anyway, people are already ringing about the dogs.” Issue 10 | May 2017 |

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| SHORT STORY | Dread slithered down his spine. “Six weeks,” he urged. “A six-week trial on both sides. I’ll pay whatever you’re currently getting. What have you got to lose?” “Damn you, Steve!” She glared at him, but he saw a smile breaking through. Relieved, he grinned back. “Like I said, have a think. Don’t decide until Saturday.” Finally she nodded, and he relaxed. “Another coffee before you hit the road?” “No thanks. After that offer my mind’ll be racing while I drive.” He followed her out, handing his credit card to the cashier on the way with a brief, “Back in a mo.” She unlocked a muddy white wagon and looked up at him. Steve ran the back of his hand down her soft cheek. “Drive safe, eh? In fact phone me once you’re there so I’ll stop worrying you’ve landed in a ditch.” “You’ll be asleep by the time I get back.” But she didn’t move away from his hand. “Not a hope until I’ve heard you’re home. Lunch on Saturday. We can do the details by phone.” As he turned, he added, “Don’t sell your dogs before then.” * On Saturday, Steve rose at first light and raced through jobs with renewed energy, impatient to be on the road on this beautiful autumn morning. After several days of calls and texts and late-night imaginings he really, really wanted her to agree. He showered, dressed, and stared at his reflection in the mirror. His sister had once said his legs were damned good so he’d swapped his jeans for shorts. Might as well give Brigitte the best possible view of him. Would the big knee-brace gain him any points? What would she decide? * Brigitte brushed her hair until it flowed around 12 | UncagedBooks.com

her shoulders in a pale waterfall. She tossed her red hoodie onto the back seat in case it turned cold but wore a new blue top which showed a hint of boob and matched her eyes. When she reached the pub she found Steve leaning against his big black ute in the sunshine. Tall and tanned. Gorgeous. Smiling fit to bust. And hurt! Her heart gave a definite lurch. “What happened?” she demanded, leaping out and grabbing his elbows. His arms closed around her, and she tilted her face up, hoping it would encourage him. Sure enough, he dropped a soft kiss on her lips, and seconds later they were on their way to breathless. “Old accident,” she heard him gasp between juicy kisses. “Nagging at me a bit with all the extra work.” She slid her hands onto his big warm shoulders. “Good thing I decided to come and help you out for six weeks then, isn’t it?” He pulled her even closer and kissed her again. “Or maybe longer?” “See how it goes,” she whispered, barely believing how her luck had changed. * When he arrived home after not just lunch but dinner as well, Steve ripped the leg-brace off and tossed his added ‘persuasion’ into the wardrobe, feeling only marginally guilty. He’d been desperate to use any ammunition available, and had bargained on her having a tender heart from the way she’d described her dogs. At least he’d already admitted it was an ‘old’ accident, so his white lie shouldn’t come back to bite him. He was more than willing to demonstrate his total fitness any time she felt like swapping the shepherd’s cottage for the comfort of the main homestead. Hopefully long before his parents returned. The End


B.A. McIntosh & Elizabeth Spaur Love’s First Blush Love’s First Blush

B.A. McIntosh & Elizabeth Spaur Historical Romance/1950s/1960s Bet it all on romance with Love’s First Blush. Forever is in the cards in these two romantic tales set in the 1950s and 1960s in the last place jaded hearts expect to find true love Las Vegas. Four hearts find the odds are in their favor when they bet on love in Sin City.

Excerpt from Love Comes After by Elizabeth Spaur It looked like someone had taken the entire contents of an AB Dick warehouse and thrown them in the corner of the garage, while someone else thought a tornado might improve the situation. Siobhan stood staring at her new job, Wade and Deke on either side of her. She couldn’t look away, but she had no idea where to focus. Paper hung from the ceiling fan. How did they manage that? “Ummm.” There were no words. She managed to stop staring at what should be declared a disaster area and turned her back on it to face her new employers, who had the grace to look embarrassed. Red crept up Wade’s neck and Deke’s eyes focused on the ceiling, the ceiling with the fan that had unidentified pieces of paper dangling from it. She looked at Wade. “Did these documents do something to you that required punishment of some kind?”

sneakpeek

He barked out a laugh. “Paperwork’s not my thing.” “Really? I would never have guessed.” It was Deke’s turn to laugh. “You’re going to need that sense of humor.” She took in what would be her office after she dealt with the two tons of paper. “Looks like I could use a forklift, too.” “We can help you.” Wade glared at Deke and punched him in the shoulder. “You promised I wouldn’t touch this stuff anymore.” “We don’t want her to quit before she’s even started.” Deke gritted his teeth. Wade closed his eyes and gave a half-hearted shrug. “Fine. We can help.” She held up her hands. “No. You’ve done enough. If I’m going to do this, though, the office is mine. I organize it how I decide to, no interference.” “No problem.” Deke agreed. Wade simply ran to the back of the garage and a project involving metal instead of paper. His answer couldn’t have been more clear if he’d said it out loud. She shooed Deke away before turning back to the fiasco that was now her responsibility. Given that paper littered the floor, appearing stuck in some places, she knew she should pick that up first, make some room for her to move around. But she had to find out what was hanging from the ceiling fan. She waded through the mess to take the papers down. They all documented the same repair. She’d have to ask Wade what Mrs. Belltan had done to him. Mystery of the fan solved, she studied the office. There was no magical place to start. She’d never admit it to the two men currently focused on separate engines, but she experienced a little thrill when she’d first seen the office. One glance told her that, for what could be the first time in her life, someone needed her.

sincityromancewriters.com Issue 10 | May 2017 |

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feature authors

Lee

Piper

Stacy Hoff

contemporary

Beth

Donaldson


feature author

English teacher it was.

Lee Piper is a lover of books. She often juggles reading seven novels at a time for the sheer joy of it. At the grand old age of five, Lee Piper decided to become an author, however found a limited market for her unicorn stories. So, high school

At thirty-two, and grieving the loss of her second miscarriage, Lee Piper turned to novels— Kylie Scott, to be precise—to escape the pain. This then inspired her to write Rock My World, the first in a four-part contemporary romance series, and her debut novel became an Evernight Publishing bestseller within the first two weeks of publication. Lee Piper lives in Adelaide, South Australia with her drummer husband, cheeky daughters, and one very crazy dog.

Stay Connected leepiperauthor.com

Lee Piper’s debut novel, Rock My World is an amazing contemporary romance that sets the bar high for romance writers everywhere. Uncaged: I loved Rock My World, when does the second book in the series release, Rock My Body? What was the inspiration for this series? Thank you! I’m so glad you enjoyed Rock My World! Rock My Body releases on June 3, 2017 through Evernight Publishing and the series was inspired by my love of all things Kylie Scott. To say she is my literary hero would be a massive understatement. You see, a couple of years ago I miscarried. It was the second time in as many years and I was sick of the pain associated with real life so decided to escape by burying myself in her Stage Dive series. I was obsessed. After closing the final page of her last book, I thought to myself, “I have to get back into writing.” So, I did. And I’ve never been happier. Uncaged: Do you read your reviews on your books? Do they influence your story at all?

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Yeah, I do read the reviews on my books and like many authors, sometimes wish I hadn’t. I figure if they’ve taken the time to write about my work, regardless of it it’s positive or negative feedback, the least I can do is read it. I’m curious by nature, so it’s really hard for me not to! If nothing else, the negative reviews teach me resilience and the positive ones make me feel awesome. However, I have decided that unless the reviewer is brave enough to become an author themselves, I’m not going to pay too much heed to their opinions either way. Reading is so subjective and trying to please everyone is beyond impossible. Reviews don’t influence my story writing or creative process in any way. I’m more influenced by the crazy talent of contemporary romance authors out there at the moment.

my WIP, I always immerse myself in heavy rock music. For each book, I have a different playlist: • Rock My World – Cog, • Rock My Body – Dead Letter Circus, • and my latest WIP, Rock Me – Twelve Foot Ninja. They’re all kickass Aussie bands, I highly recommend them. My husband is the drummer of an Adelaide rock band and we met when I went to one of his gigs, so I guess I use a method approach to some of my writing! We try to attend as many live music shows as possible (for research purposes, of course), and I also recently sat in on his band practice to get my technical references to music as accurate as possible.

Uncaged:Does music play a huge part of your life? Do you attend a lot of live music shows?

Uncaged: You teach high school English, is that rewarding, challenging, or both? How do your students feel about your books?

Music is so instrumental (see what I did there?!) to my life. When I’m thinking up the next section of

Teaching high school students is an absolute privilege. I truly love what I do, despite the ridiculous Issue 10 | May 2017 |

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| FEATURE AUTHOR | workload associated with teaching a literary-rich subject, like English. My students keep me honest, they can smell inauthenticity a mile away, so they continuously challenge me to become a better educator. Yes, there are days when it’s very, very challenging, however the relationships forged are well worth the struggle. Even though I’m proud to be a published author, I don’t tell the students what genre I write. My school is fairly conservative, so it’s not really appropriate to blabber about my hot as hell heroes and all the filthy sex they have with their heroines ;) Though because of my reticence, students immediately assume I’m writing the next instalment of 50 Shades of Grey and then give me grief about my dirty mind for the rest of the lesson. *cue eye roll* Uncaged: What are your favorite genres to read right now? Who are some of your favorite authors? Do you like to read books that are part of series? I love, love, love reading contemporary and erotic romance. I’m not a fan of traditional romance, so if an author writes about, throbbing members or quivering thighs, I’m out. I like my romance honest, real and with a healthy dose of alpha. My favourite authors at the moment are: Kylie Scott (of course), Meghan Quinn, Tijan, Nicola Rendell, Meghan March, T. Gephart, Leisa Rayven, Sabrina Paige, Penelope Ward, Vi Keeland, Jessica Roe… Seriously, I could go on and on! I do enjoy books which are in a series, but am also a huge fan of standalones. Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? When I’m not writing, I’m either reading the latest contemporary/erotic romances, jogging along the beach with heavy music blasting through my headphones, or hanging out with husband and two 18 | UncagedBooks.com

gorgeous daughters. Uncaged: Where is your favorite place to write? Do you prefer quiet, or do you listen to music? I use music to think up ideas while I’m out jogging, but when it comes to putting pen to paper or typing words onto a laptop, I need either silence or white noise. Most often, I’m at the dining room table after the girls have gone to sleep and I write to the sounds of my husband killing off robotic dinosaurs on his PlayStation. It’s a glamourous life. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? I would strongly encourage fans to get in touch with their favourite authors. Let them know you dig their work. Writing is so solitary, and knowing readers appreciate the blood, sweat and tears put into creating a novel is unbelievably reaffirming.

Enjoy an excerpt from Rock My World Rock My World Lee Piper Contemporary Romance High school teacher Grace Thompson didn’t want to be a mentor. And she sure as hell didn’t want to mentor Levi Mondez. They got off to a rocky start, but it wasn’t entirely her fault. How was she to know he was the lead singer of local rock band, Mondez? How was she to know he considered her short temper a turn on? And how was she to know her best friend, Riley, would fall for him? If he wasn’t so damn gorgeous it might have made the whole mess easier to handle. If he didn’t transform Grace into a blazing furnace of need, and if he hadn’t confused the hell out of her already bruised heart, life might have turned out a heck of a lot differ-


| LEE PIPER | ently. She was screwed. Excerpt We were alone. Guess it had to happen sooner or later. I took a deep breath and turned to face Levi. He hadn’t moved from behind the desk and was watching me closely with an unreadable expression on his face. Once again, I lost the power of speech. This was going to become a real problem over the next six weeks if I didn’t get a handle on it soon and I desperately hoped I wouldn’t have to resort to communicating with him in other ways … like through interpretive dance. Levi slowly stood, never once breaking eye contact with me. He put his notebook and pen away in the leather satchel before swinging it over his shoulder and slowly making his way towards me. I gulped. This man held me completely spellbound by the intensity in his gaze. And if I didn’t do something in the next few seconds to break the magnetic pull between us, I would either internally combust or beg him to put me out of my misery. “We, ah, should really be heading back.” Genius. Pure genius, Grace. He completely ignored me and stopped a few inches away before slowly leaning down to murmur in my ear. “You were amazing.” My brow furrowed and I stepped back, staring squarely up at him. “I was helping students draft their work, Levi, not solving the world hunger crisis.” “When are you going to learn to take a compli-

ment, kitten?” “At about the same time you stop giving them.” He smiled down at me and a small grin played about the corner of my lips. Parrying with him was growing dangerously enjoyable. I quickly turned and grabbed my belongings from the spare desk I’d dumped them on at the start of the lesson. “We should really be going. I’ve got a double free period next but we’ll probably need that time to clear out some desk space in my office and find you a chair.” “Yeah, that might take a while.” “Look…” For some reason I felt the need to grow defensive over my non-existent organizational habits. Don’t ask me why. “I wasn’t exactly expecting to have a student teacher when I first arrived at school today, okay? And I sure as hell wasn’t ready for it to be you, so just—” I paused mid-sentence. Levi’s face broke into a grin of swoon-worthy proportions and I was having a hard time remembering where I was going with my rant. He stepped towards me again and this time I didn’t move back. I mean, I honestly didn’t trust my legs with any given movement. So I also didn’t stop Levi as he gently brushed the backs of his fingers down the side of my face before tucking a stray strand of hair behind my ear. “Relax, kitten,” he all but purred. Easy for him to say, he wasn’t the one currently fighting a losing battle against gravity. “We’ll get it sorted out. There’s no need to get your panties in a twist.” My eyes popped open in shock. “Don’t think for one second that you’re having any effect whatsoever on my panties,” I growled out. Issue 10 | May 2017 |

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| FEATURE AUTHOR | Liar. He just grinned wider and brushed his thumb across my bottom lip.

will be more of Grace and Levi in the future. Levi can serenade me any time. Reviewed by Cyrene

I couldn’t help myself. I opened my mouth and bit down on it. Levi inhaled sharply from my involuntary assault and his pupils dilated to an alarming degree. F**k. What was I doing? So, before Teacher Grace could appear and cane my sordid ass, I released his thumb from between my teeth, spun on my heel and wrenched the door open. To say I essentially bolted back to my office would not have been an understatement. And to be blunt, I honestly didn’t give a shit if Levi followed me or if he got lost along the way.

Enjoy a sneak peek from the upcoming sequel, Rock My Body - releasing in June, 2017 by Evernight Publishing

Uncaged Review Two almost broken people come together, but will they be able to leap the hurdles of their past to trust each other? Grace is a teacher, and whose roomie and best friend, Riley, finally gets her to loosen up a bit and go out to see a live band at a local club. Grace feels an immediate attraction to the drop dead sexy Levi, lead singer of the band, Mondez. And when Grace returns to work and finds she is being assigned a student teacher to work with, and it’s none other than Levi, will she be able to fight the attraction and keep it professional? This book is full of wit, sarcasm, and it’s a smart and fun romance. Seeing if two people can learn to trust each other, and get through the obstacles of not only the past, but their future, is a great ride and I didn’t want to miss a word. Bottom line, I loved the book. Well written with characters you can get easily attached too, and I’m hoping there 20 | UncagedBooks.com

Thundering drum beats? Check. Swoonworthy vocals? Check. Panty-obliterating lead guitarist? Check. Looks like you’re all set for Rock My Body, Book Two in the Mondez series by Lee Piper! Blurb Riley Sears promises herself never to fall in love unless it’s going to end in an engagement ring and a white picket fence—her medically diagnosed anxiety skyrockets otherwise. Enter Dominic Mondez, the hottest guy ever to grace pecs and abs. He propositions Riley with a cocky yet tempting offer of the best sex of her life—his words. However, after learning he’s a


| LEE PIPER | manwhore who never sleeps with the same woman twice, Riley’s decision becomes remarkably simple. No. Way. In. Hell. He is a commitment phobe; she needs commitment. End of story. Sadly, traversing the murky waters of friends without benefits isn’t simple, especially when he’s lead guitarist of local rock band, Mondez. Riley is also cautious of his tempestuous nature, womanising ways and—even worse—inexplicable jealousy. He is bad for her in every possible way. Bad, bad, bad. If only her body would listen. Excerpt He was watching me, I could feel it. My body sensed him long before my head did and started tingling. Everywhere. Oh, holy mother. Just the thought of him made my heart pound. Traitorous thing. It merrily rammed against my ribcage as soon as I pictured his tall, muscular body and dishevelled, russet hair. My fingers itched to reach out and delve through the soft strands—they remembered what it felt like to tug down on them as he groaned into my open mouth—but I shifted in my seat and sat on them instead. I wasn’t going down that road again, hell no. I was done. D.O.N.E. A low chuckle cut through the muted sounds of heavy rock music emanating from inside, its gravely sound resonating with my downstairs department, causing a deep blush to stain my cheeks. Clearly, I wasn’t fooling anyone. What in the name of sweet baby Jesus is he even doing here? I tried so hard to focus on what Sebastian was saying. Thankfully, he held up his end of the

conversation despite my unexpected inability to formulate any words. We’d been sitting together for a while without a single awkward pause so I nodded, smiled, and even laughed when required. To be fair, it was a pretty decent pick-up attempt. Well, until he showed up. Blue eyes burned my skin. You don’t own me, you don’t own me, you don’t— I swallowed, steeled myself and then glanced across the beer garden. Own me. Dominic was leaning against the wall, his black, button-down shirt almost bursting at the seams. I blamed those insanely strong pecs and biceps. Honestly, they were huge. And the way his dark blue jeans hung enticingly low off narrow hips… Well. It should be illegal. He was going to give someone—aka me—a cardiac arrest if he wasn’t careful. I shook my head. With a bottle of beer in one hand and a buxom blonde in the other— this one looked nastier than most—the guy was the physical embodiment of everything I despised. Truly. If only my body would listen. Raising the drink to full, kissable lips, he tipped his head back, piercing gaze still locked on me. He then wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, a flicker of emotions I couldn’t identify crossing his face when he noticed my breath catch. The girl must have registered his distraction too because she started rubbing herself up against him like an overly aroused limpet. Gross. He broke contact with me and looked down at her, a dark smile tugging his lips. After murmuring something in her ear and slapping her on the behind, she giggled. I looked away, that familiar painful knot forming in my stomach once more. Damn you, Dominic Mondez. Damn you to hell.

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feature author Stacy Hoff is a contemporary romance author, as well as an attorney. She has practiced law for over two decades, primarily handling contracts. Romance novels have always been her secret passion. She writes her romantic stories until the wee hours of the night. Stacy lives in New England with her husband and two boys. Stacy’s full-length contemporary romance novels are: BETTING ON LOVE IN VEGAS (BUILDING LOVE series #1), JOCKEYING FOR YOU, LAWFULLY YOURS, DESIRE IN THE EVERGLADES (DESIRE series #1), and DESIRE IN THE ARCTIC (DESIRE series #2). Book #2 in the BUILDING LOVE series will be released October, 2017.

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Uncaged welcomes Stacy Hoff! Uncaged: You are a lawyer by day, and you still find time to write. Do any of your clients know that you are an author also? I work as in-house counsel, so my client is my employer. Nobody at my job knows I moonlight as a romance novelist. I love my secret identity. I feel like Batman. (Or Bookwoman, maybe?) Uncaged: Do you read your reviews on your books? Do they influence your story at all? I do read reviews. Usually while biting my nails. The most feedback I’ve had was on Facebook, right after my second DESIRE book (DESIRE IN THE ARCTIC) was released. I received lots of comments from people about where the third book should take place, and on different ways the money-grubbing television station should be punished. I loved those ideas! If I ever do draft a third book in this series, I’m sure those comments will influence me. Uncaged: You just released Betting on Love in Las Vegas as the first book in the Building Love series. How many books are you planning for this series? There will be three books in total. I’ve completed Book # 2 (tentatively titled BUILDING LOVE IN

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books about racing, riding, and breeding. After I learned as much as I could, I toured the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, and then interviewed the staff members. (Even when I’m in my romance-writing mode, my compulsive inner-lawyer still won’t rest.) Uncaged: What are your favorite genres to read right now? Who are some of your favorite authors? Do you like to read books that are part of series?

THE CARRIBEAN), which will be released this October. Right now I’m working hard to finish up the draft for book # 3 (tentatively titled BUILDING LOVE IN MADRID, with a release date of March, 2018). I love staying ahead of my publishing schedule, although this ambition costs me many hours of sleep. I drink lots of coffee to avoid acting beastly around my innocent family. Uncaged: What inspired the story, Jockeying for You? Have you been involved with horses or racehorses in your life? This story happened by serendipity. I attended a writers’ conference featuring notable Hollywood script doctor, Michael Hauge. Michael challenged the attendees to come up with a story that mirrored the Hollywood story arc. The idea of a race entered my mind, one in which the heroine desperately wanted to win, but was too emotionally afraid to participate. I toyed with the concept of getting back in the saddle. I ultimately chose horseracing so my character would have to do this quite literally. One of the biggest challenges I had writing JOCKEYING FOR YOU was my knowing absolutely nothing about horse racing. To learn, I visited two New York Racing Association tracks, the Saratoga Race Course and Belmont Park. I also read several

I read romances that are not in the category I write. This way, I am free to enjoy them in “off-duty” mode. Paranormal series are particularly fun to read (and have inspired me to write series of my own). I’m looking forward to reading the last book of Chloe Neill’s “Chicagoland” vampire series. I’ve read Neill’s work since the beginning, and I must admit, I’m hooked. Another series I love is Diana Gabaldon’s “Outlander.” Just. Too. Good. Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? I love playing outside with my kids, or even just hanging around the house watching Alaska reality TV shows with my husband. When I have the time, I also cater to my creative side by sketching live models at a local art studio. Figure drawing is one of my favorite pastimes; it gives me a sense of total freedom and calm. Uncaged: Where is your favorite place to write? Do you prefer quiet, or do you listen to music? I need silence; it lets me hear the voices in my head. Okay, maybe not voices, per se. But since I am a “pantser” (someone who writes by the seat of their pants), it’s best for me to head upstairs to my tiny home-office, close the door, and tune everything out. Being shut off from distractions allows me to immerse myself in the scene I’m drafting. Issue 10 | May 2017 |

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| FEATURE AUTHOR | Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? I’d like to say how very much I value them. I’ve managed to strike up quite a few friendships with readers who have reached out to me. Reading a fan message during my lunch hour is a real thrill in my workday. When it happens, I try not to grin like a maniac in my office’s break-room.

Enjoy an excerpt from Betting on Love in Vegas Betting on Love in Vegas Stacy Hoff Contemporary Romance Catherine(Cat)Warner has problems. The profits from her inns are down. The pressure from her parents is up. Her love life is non-existent. But Cat did manage to get the attention of tough, powerful, gorgeous hotel magnate Ty Orland. Unfortunately, his interest in her is for all the wrong reasons. Instead of wanting Cat, this debonair CEO only wants her land—a parcel he desperately needs for his next big development deal. Too bad, it’s not for sale. A people pleaser by nature, Cat knows to stand strong. If she caves in to the demands of this sexy, alluring man, it will be her own neck on the line. Ty Orland has a lot of things going for him. Success. Power. Respect. Unfortunately, he’s also got an old chip on his shoulder and a new financial nightmare. His development deal is going down in flames—and fast. His only way out is if Cat sells him her strategically located parcel. But romancing the land from her is not easy when love gets in the way. The woman is as beautiful as she is beguiling. And Ty no longer knows which prize is more valuable. 26 | UncagedBooks.com

Excerpt Like any astute businessman, Ty knew when to act fast. To make an offer so appealing it could not be refused. He got into the batter’s box, ready for anything Cat threw his way. “We had a great time downstairs at the bar, right?” “I hope you’re not implying I now owe you my land because of it.” Strike One. “Of course not,” Ty said hastily. Despite his firm, confident words, he was sweating. “What I’m saying is, we may not bond on a business level, but we seem to connect on a personal level. Am I right?” Cat remained silent. Ty arched an eyebrow at her, daring a confirmation. “Yes,” she relented. “Then if you won’t let me buy your land, our business transaction has concluded for tonight. Correct again?” “Yes. Correct.” Her eyes narrowed, probably wondering what was he getting at. “Great. We’re leaving. Together. If you want to take a coat, get it and let’s go.” “What? Don’t take me wrong, I’m glad you’re giving up so easily, but I’m . . . surprised.” Foul ball. “Surprised? Why?” “You’re not going to harangue me about my land anymore?” Her eyes were wide. She seemed afraid to believe him, yet hopeful. Well, he was trustworthy. Mostly. “Oh, I might.” Ty grinned slyly. “But tonight both of us are done talking business.” Slowly she smiled back at him. Home run.

Don’t miss these titles


| STACY HOFF | Jockeing for You Stacy Hoff Contemporary Romance Jake Carter is on a mission—to prove his family wrong. He may have bought a troubled horse, but he’s hired Ryder Hannon, a “horse whisperer,” to get his horse back on track. She’s more than just a trainer to him, she’s the woman he’s been looking for. Ryder Hannon, a thoroughbred horse trainer, has a big problem—fighting her fear of racing again. Her emotional scars run deeper than her physical ones. But her romantic feelings toward handsome, uber-rich, stable owner Jake Carter is a bigger problem. Is Jake truly in love with her or is he using her to get back at his smug family? When Jake’s jockey gets injured, he wants Ryder to race. He knows deep down she wants to live up to her family’s legacy. So why does she keep fighting him—and her destiny?

Uncaged Review This book was reviewed in the March 2017 issue of Uncaged Book Reviews, and received a 4 Star rating.

Lawfully Yours Stacy Hoff Contemporary Romance The prestigious Connecticut law firm of Grovas & Cleval has always been rife with office drama and crazy clients. But an office affair between a young associate and a powerful partner—her boss—might be the biggest scandal of all.

Desire in the Everglades Stacy Hoff Contemporary Romance Stephanie Lang’s successful career as a television producer can’t give her everything she wants out of life. Her personal goals of writing a romance novel and finding true love languish. Emotionally scarred by her fiancé’s affair with her cousin, she doesn’t have the confidence to go after either goal again. At least she has professional confidence to fall back on; she is ready to produce the company’s next hit show. But when her boss reveals what the show is about, a survival documentary starring a sexy hunk, Stephanie’s life is turned upside down.

Desire in the Arctic Stacy Hoff Contemporary Romance Television producer Ana Davis’s newest show is one she’s forced to star in herself. Despite being a city slicker with no wilderness experience, she’ll have to survive in the Arctic Circle for twelve days. The stakes are high. She could lose her very life. Good thing she’s been paired with expert survivalist William “Redd” Redding, a mysterious, solitary, and very sexy man. Worse than snowstorms, predators, and a scarcity of food is an even greater danger—fighting off their attraction to each other.

stacyhoff.com

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feature author Beth grew up on an apple farm in upstate New York. Between farm chores and running wild outside, she spent much of her free time reading and dreaming up stories for her Barbies and anyone else who happened along. She regularly drove her family crazy tapping away on a typewriter and was convinced she’d be published (and famous, naturally) by age 22. Things didn’t quite work out like she’d planned, and real life went off in other directions (who knew raising a kid could make you so tired?). But she never stopped thinking about writing, and the characters in her head wouldn’t stop bugging her to let them out. Finally, after sending her son off to the USMC and remarrying, she reacquainted herself with her first love and began to write every day. Her entry ‘Carried Away’ won The Rudy for mainstream fiction in the Chesapeake Romance Writer’s “Finish the Damn Book” contest for 2014. That win encouraged her to finish the story (now titled Something to Talk About) and keep writing about Mill Falls, Lord County and all its characters. ‘Just a Taste’, released in December 2016 is Book 2 in the series. Book 3 is in the works for 2017. Today Beth lives in the beautiful Ohio countryside with her awesome husband, two sappy dogs and two eccentric cats. She’s a children’s librarian (because she still hasn’t grown up), a mom and mother in-law, a storyteller and constant daydreamer. She drinks beer out of the can, can’t live without coffee, could eat her weight 30 | UncagedBooks.com

in bacon and goes on a Christmas cookie bender every December. She exercises whenever she can’t avoid it and fervently wishes that someone would invent that George Jetson lounger that exercises for you. She loves music and her books in the “Heart of it All” series are named after songs that inspired the stories.

Stay Connected bethdonaldsonwrites.com

This is contemporary romance writer, Beth Donaldson’s first author interview. Uncaged is proud to have her here. Uncaged: You live in the small town life like I do, do you live on a farm with animals, or just out in the country away from it all? We’re more “away from it all”, though my husband would like to have some ducks, and the wildlife abounds out here! We see deer and turkey almost daily and there are legions of wild birds this time of year as we’re in a migratory path. Sometimes, very late at night, we hear coyote too, which is downright creepy. Uncaged: Do you read your reviews on your books? Do they influence your story at all? I do read my reviews, most are generally positive,


which makes me so happy! I wouldn’t say the reviews influence the basics (who, what, where, etc…) but I have had some of my readers mention things they’d like to see, or they ask questions that give me a new angle to think about. Uncaged: In the Heart of it All series, how many books are you planning for it? Right now, I’m planning on five, but it could be more. It just depends on who shows up in Lord County! Uncaged: Do you or are you planning on attending any book conventions or book signings in 2017? Gosh, that would be the dream!! Right now, working full time plus squeezing in writing whenever I can is very limiting. I’ve had a few inquiries about speaking to other aspiring writers about the self-publish-

ing process, and I may participate in Indy Author Day this fall if I can find a program nearby. I would love to attend more events, and I’ve not done a book signing yet…but someday, definitely. Uncaged: What are your favorite genres to read right now? Who are some of your favorite authors? Do you like to read books that are part of series? Oh boy. How much room do you have? I read voraciously, across a lot of genres. Right now, for example, I just finished “Match Me if You Can” by Susan Elizabeth Phillips on my Kindle, I have “The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and People’s Temple” by Jeff Guinn on my bedside table, I’m re-reading “Persuasion” by Jane Austen here and there and I have a stack of children’s books in my work office that I need to get through to promote them for summer reading. Issue 10 | May 2017 |

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| FEATURE AUTHOR | Favorite authors? Ooh. Let’s see. I’ll only list a few that I read over and over again, because otherwise I’ll run out of room! For romance it’s Robyn Carr, Brenda Novak, Lorelei James, Amanda Quick, Susan Mallery, RaeAnne Thayne. Other authors I enjoy include Agatha Christie, Georgette Heyer, Lilian Jackson Braun, Elizabeth George, Louis L’Amour…there’s so many. And yes, I love series! Some of my faves are Blacktop Cowboys by Lorelei James, The Winston Brothers by Penny Reid and the Lady Julia series by Deanna Raybourn. Series can have their downfalls, though—one series I particularly loved was the “Mistress of the Art of Death” by Ariana Franklin, but sadly, the author died before she finished the series and the last book ended on one serious cliffhanger.

Uncaged: What can readers be expecting from you in the near future?

Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

Thank you for picking up my books and taking a chance with a new author. I hope I continue to write stories that make you laugh and cry and think and want more! My website, www.bethdonaldsonwrites. com, includes links to all the social media stuff I do: Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, Facebook, Pinterest. Stop by and see me sometime!

There’s life beyond writing?? Seriously, though, I enjoy pestering my husband, walking my farm and playing with my pets, bothering my son whenever I can (he’s Army) and trying to answer the eternal question: What’s for dinner? I discovered Instagram recently, which means I’m flooding the internet with more random pictures, but it is fun. And I really enjoy making boards for my characters and books on Pinterest! Work takes up a lot of time, but in a good way: being a librarian gives me access to so much that I might have missed otherwise, and helps me research my stories and characters. I looked into Jewish custom and food for “Something to Talk About” and researched art mediums and wine for “Just a Taste.” Oh, and since my main guy in Book 3, Jim Ascher, bakes breads in his spare time, I’ve been experimenting with breads recently. It’s a steep learning curve, very frustrating at times, but I like it! And really, what’s better than a warm loaf of freshly baked bread? 32 | UncagedBooks.com

I plan to finish Book 3 in my series, titled “Can’t Shake You”, in late fall. I also have Book 4 started because a couple of events between these books are closely related (and John Fonzi is impatient for his HEA). On my back burner, I have a stand-alone about a woman who falls for a Wyoming cowboy when she’s on a 50th birthday trip (love can still knock you on your butt at 50!) and I’ve been simmering an idea for a mystery-suspense-romance starring a librarian and a pool hall owner. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you?

Enjoy an excerpt from Just a Taste Just a Taste Beth Donaldson Contemporary Romance Welcome back to Mill Falls, where the days are getting cooler...and the gossip’s getting hotter. After nearly twenty years, Matt Slade has returned to Lord County with two goals: one, to go into business for himself and two, to flush out the man who fathered him and left him to an abusive childhood. But then he’s propositioned on a Wednesday


night by the nicest girl in town and his business suddenly gets…complicated. So much for acting on impulse. After being rejected-and ejected-from his bar, April has avoided Slade’s and its surly owner. But Fate-and her book club-brings them back together and an inexplicable friendship is born. Matt encourages April to take just a taste of the wild life she’s been wanting and April brings her sweetness and sunshine to Matt’s grumpy little world. Stepping away from expectations is never easy. Gossip, family ties and a big misunderstanding puts April and Matt’s relationship on the rocks time and again but they keep coming back together, both needing the connection they only find with each other. They could be headed for the love of a lifetime...if Matt’s secret doesn’t tear them apart. Excerpt “Okay, I’m cutting you off.” A large hand attached to a tattooed arm closed around her glass and pulled it away. April reached out and smacked it. “I’m not finished!” “Oh, yes, you are.” The glass disappeared and April looked into stormy gray eyes that were not amused. But they were still sexy. He was sexy, period, with that black t-shirt stretched over his chest just snug enough to give a girl ideas and that beard, short, dark and a little scruffy, just inviting her fingers to reach up for a good feel. She managed to stop her hands before they got too far away from her brain and dropped them to her sides. But the bartender caught the movement and those gray eyes narrowed. “What.” It wasn’t exactly a question. April tried to think of a lie. Failed. “Um…the beard.” “What about it?” “I wanted to touch it.” He stared at her like she was from another planet.

| BETH DONALDSON | “You wanted to touch it?” Okay, honesty wasn’t going over well. “Yes?” He leaned over and rested his hands on the bar. “Listen close, sweetheart. No one touches my beard. Especially not some drunk chick who just tried to pick me up.” “I am not drunk,” she said. And she wasn’t. She was just a teeny bit buzzed, that’s all. That fabulous Pinot Noir on the board tonight had gone down like silk and she’d ordered another. Which Mr. Sexy Bartender just dumped down the sink. What a waste of good wine. “Right,” he said. “You just asked me to be your revenge boyfriend. In my mind, anyone who propositions a total stranger with a line like that is either drunk or nuts.” “I’m not drunk!” she exclaimed. “You’re nuts, then?” “No! I just-” He put up a hand and cut her off again. “Either way, I don’t want you in my place tonight.” He pointed into the crowd and crooked his finger, then returned his attention to her. “You need to go home and sleep it off. I’m sure tomorrow you’ll be glad I didn’t take you up on your offer.” “But you’re perfect!” April said. “You’re big and tough and sexy-” “And you’re not my type,” he interrupted coldly. “At all.” April felt her mouth open, felt it working but no smart response came out, no stinging retort to put him in his place. She stood there tongue-tied, gaping like a fish and nothing came but a wilted, sad little “Oh.” “Hey, Matt!” Holly Spence put a comforting arm around April’s shoulder. “What’s up?” Matt was a fine name. Too bad he was so surly. “She’s with you, right?” he asked. Holly nodded and he said, “I cut her off. She’s out of her mind.” “Oh! Now that’s just mean! I think you’d at least be flattered that-” “Shut it,” he growled, turned his attention back to Holly and pointed at the door. “Get her out of here, please.” Issue 10 | May 2017 |

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| FEATURE AUTHOR | Holly pulled April away from the bar and to their table. She scooped up her purse and said to the other two women, “Sorry, we have to go.” “What happened?” asked Fran Bishop, worried. “April pissed Matt off,” Holly said, pulling at her arm. “Well, who knew he’d be such a girl about it?” April asked belligerently. “What did you say?” Glad Donahue asked, warily eyeing the bartender, who was watching their progress with a steely glare. April glared back. The jerk. “Give me your keys,” Holly said to Fran. She handed them over and Holly pulled April away. “We’ll wait in the car and you two can finish your drinks.” April allowed herself to be led to the door, grumbling under her breath. Like it was a big deal. He could have just said no and let her finish her wine, for God’s sake. “Okay, spill,” Holly commanded as they stepped outside. “What did you do?” “Nothing!” April said. “I just asked him to be my revenge boyfriend, that’s all, and he got all pissy about it and said I was drunk and I’m not and-” “You didn’t!” Holly laughed out loud. “You told me to get a revenge boyfriend!” “I meant just a regular guy, not Matt Slade!” “What’s wrong with him?” Holly hesitated, then answered. “Nothing-well, I guess-okay, he had a real bad reputation back in high school…of course he’s a responsible business owner now…” She shrugged. “I don’t know…” “What?” April threw her hands up, exasperated. “April, you’re the sweetest person I know. You’re even nicer than Glad.” On one hand, April appreciated the comparison as Glad Donahue, the assistant director of the library, was a lovely woman. Even though her ex had broken her heart, she refused to say anything bad about him and had even told off a few of the nastier gossips in town. But on the other hand… “Nice again? Why is the first word that 34 | UncagedBooks.com

always comes to mind around me nice? Why isn’t it sexy, or trouble, or-” “There’s nothing wrong with nice! You’re wonderful just how you are. My point is, he’s not nice. He never has been. He’s cold and closed off and you’re so warm and friendly and…trust me, you’re just not-” “-his type,” April finished. “I know. He told me.” *** Matt watched the door close, saw the women pass by the front window. The drunk one was throwing her hands up, probably cussing him out about now. He shook his head and rinsed out a few more glasses. He’d been harsh with her and he’d hurt her feelings. That sweet little mouth of hers had gone all droopy and sad and her eyes…hell. He felt bad about it but he didn’t know what else to do after that ridiculous proposal came out of her mouth. What had she been thinking? He snorted softly to himself and tucked the clean glasses back into their rack. She hadn’t been thinking, obviously. But earlier, when her group had come in and grabbed a table their eyes had met for a moment and he’d felt a certain…interest. He’d been surprised and, honestly, pleased. Flattered, as she had said. Usually women who looked like her-cute, nice and wholesome-shied away from guys who looked like him. Cute was acceptable. Wholesome and nice never figured into the equation when he was looking for a woman. He’d figured within minutes she was one of those types who went to church every Sunday and baked cookies for all the kids and old people she knew. With her tumble of dark hair that fell to her hips and that spray of freckles across her nose, she looked innocent and fresh. Sweet. A woman who wouldn’t step over the line and, say, get a big tattoo or wear one of those skimpy lingerie tops that left nothing to the imagination. She probably had a nice, respectable job and lived in a nice, respectable neighborhood, white picket fences and all. He did not do respectable.


| BETH DONALDSON | And then she’d come to the bar for a refill, batted those pretty brown eyes at him and told him her asshole boyfriend dumped her and would he be interested in being her revenge boyfriend for a little while? Cripes. Matt shook his head again and tried to focus on his job. It wasn’t easy. Those eyes of hers kept barging into his conscious, teasing him. She was drunk. He refused to consider any other explanation.

and again, there is a slight bit of danger/suspense that adds that extra element of surprise to the book.

***

I did predict how this would end, but anyone who reads romances will, but the author made it a whole lot of fun getting there. I personally live in a small town, and I love how everyone gossips about everyone else, so much fun, and so true.

Overheard at Knockout Nails on St. John: Did you hear the latest? No, tell! You know April Fonzi? That nice little thing that runs the child care at St. Pat’s during Sunday mass? Well. She was thrown out of that new bar, Slade’s, last night! She was drunk! (gasps all around) No way. Not April. Way. Drunk as a skunk, so I hear. Can you believe that? Honestly? No. I can’t. She’s so sweet to everyone, helps everyone out, never has a bad word to say Are you sure you didn’t mix her up with one of her brothers? That John’s a hell raiser. It wasn’t John Fonzi. It was April. She was with Holly Spence, Fran Bishop and that poor Glad Donahue. Holly had to drag her out of there. Gina DiTullio saw the whole thing. Wow. I still can’t believe it. She’s just so… nice. Who knew, right?

Uncaged Review I don’t think you can go wrong with a well written, fun romance than with Beth Donaldson. As with the first book, the characters are easy to like with witty banter and interesting lives. A few characters from the last book make an appearance,

April Fonzi is the only girl in her family, with four brothers. She’s a talented artist, but it just hasn’t made her famous. She’s barely getting by, but she’s happy. Although this is a thorn in her father’s side. Matt is a local bar owner, who has some secrets of his own, and April is not his type. Well….

Something to Talk About Beth Donaldson Contemporary Romance Welcome to Mill Falls, a quintessential Ohio town complete with historic buildings, tree-lined streets…and gossip galore. Glad Donahue’s ready for a fresh start. She’s got a new job, a ‘new’ old house that needs work and good friends to keep her days busy and her mind out of the past, which suits her just fine. She’s perfectly happy on her own, and she most certainly does not want a new man in her life. But then a big, burly, dark-eyed hunk of distraction shows up and throws a monkey wrench into her plans. Mike Kovalski’s in big trouble: one date too many and the town gossips have crowned him the biggest sleaze in Mill Falls. His straitlaced boss gives him an ultimatum: date a nice girl and clean up his reputation or find another job. After the Issue 10 | May 2017 |

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| FEATURE AUTHOR | mess he made of his life, the last thing he wants is a relationship. But the clock is ticking and, desperate, Mike sets his attention to winning over the new girl in town. Because after all, what could be nicer than a librarian? Glad is as determined to resist Mike as he is to win her, and the gossips are even more determined to blow things out of proportion. Between truth and lies, speculation and surprises, Glad and Mike end up giving the local gossip mill something real to talk about: love.

Uncaged Review A nice contemporary romance, that has a bit of heartbreak and a bit of danger, some humor and strong characters that are realistic enough to be your friends in any small town. But what I really enjoyed about this story, is it’s a complete story. Glad moves to a small town to be Assistant Director of the Public Library and when it comes to the new landscaping, she’s going to have to work with the firm hired for the job. In walks Mike, the gigolo of the town, whom Glad is almost instantly attracted too, but has heard the gossip and tries to keep him at a distance. But Mike was given an ultimatum by his boss, to clean up his act with women and date a nice girl, or lose his job. Some of this is a bit unrealistic, but when Mike sets out to woo Glad, he never figured he’d fall in love with her. So when Glad finds out why Mike started to see her, will she be able to get past it? The author keeps the interest high, and this book is never boring. Even when you think the book is going to wrap up, the author tosses in some danger to up the ante. The romance comes full circle, and romance lovers will enjoy this one.

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Short story


| SHORT STORY |

A Walk in the Park

Helen Pryke helenprykeauthor.zohosites.com Like all good fairy tales, this story starts with “Once upon a time”. However, unlike all good fairy tales, there is no princess who lives happily ever after. But this is a story based on real life, and everyone knows that real life isn’t a fairy tale, don’t they? For now, enough of all that. Let us begin. Once upon a time there was a girl (me) called Anne. Anne lived in the city, in an apartment that overlooked an enormous, shady park. Every day she got up early, got dressed and went to work. She liked going to work; not so much for her job, which for her was just a way of earning money, but for her daily walk across the park on her way to work. Unlike many people, she was happy with her own company and she was content with her solitary life. She thought things would carry on in this way for a long, long time. Obviously she was wrong (otherwise there would be no story). One day, everything changed. Forever. One hot, sunny day in August, Anne left her apartment and strode towards the park. As usual, she stopped at the newsagent’s on the way and picked up her copy of The Times (she preferred glossy magazines but she had to look like a serious business woman in front of her male colleagues). She bought a take-away coffee at the kiosk and entered the park. That morning there was a pleasant breeze that made the leaves on the trees flutter and blew her long, black hair around her face. She smiled, happy, and made her way towards ‘her’ bench, always unoccupied so early in the morning.

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But that morning it wasn’t unoccupied. There was a man sitting in her place, calmly watching the world go by without even realising that he was sending Anne into a flurry of panic. What should she do? This had never happened before. Should she walk past and look for another bench? She stood still, hesitant, unsure how to handle this situation. Then she started to get angry. Why should she let that man, whoever he was, ruin her day, which had started so well? She straightened her shoulders and determinedly plonked herself down beside the man. They both sat there on the bench, ignoring each other. Anne sipped her coffee, blowing lightly on it to cool it down, and she started to read her newspaper. Yet she found it hard to concentrate as she was so very aware of the man sitting next to her. She furtively glanced across at him and her traitorous heart began beating more quickly. He was so handsome, with his blond hair and blue eyes - just like a real-life prince charming! He seemed so comfortably relaxed, his long legs stretched out before him and his arms crossed. The typical pose of a self-assured man. He must have felt the force of her stare because he turned towards her and smiled. She felt her cheeks burning - she was certain they’d turned bright red and quickly looked away, embarrassed. “Hi,” he said in a friendly voice. “Er, hello,” Anne answered, not sure where to look. “Sorry if I’ve nicked your spot but I wanted to see what was so amazing about this bench. I’ve seen you sitting here sometimes and you seem so happy and relaxed, as if you’d returned home after a long absence.” He laughed, embarrassed. “I don’t know if that makes any sense?” Anne looked at him in surprise. He’d just described exactly how she felt every time she sat on


| HELEN PRYKE | the bench. “I don’t remember seeing you before,” she said. “You probably don’t recognise me” he said, then changed the subject. “My name’s Mark, pleased to meet you.” They passed a pleasant half an hour in chatting, getting to know each other, becoming friends. When Anne had to leave to go to work, they arranged to meet again the following morning. So now Anne had two reasons for getting up every morning: her daily walk in the park and meeting her new friend. Time passed, she got used to the new routine, and everything carried on as if it had always been like that. Inevitably however, because this is a fairy tale after all, everything changed again. Anne and Mark met up on the bench one afternoon after work and started chatting. Suddenly they heard a loud shriek that came from some nearby trees. They both jumped up and ran towards the noise, where they found a tragic scene. There on the ground, under the gnarled branches of an ancient oak, lay the unmoving body of a young boy. His left leg was bent and seemed broken. But the most terrible thing was his head. It was twisted round in an unnatural way and a thin line of blood dribbled out of the boy’s half- open mouth. Anne ran over to the boy, then stopped, unsure what to do. She reached out a hand and put two fingers on his neck. “I can’t feel a pulse,” she whispered, terrified. Mark didn’t say anything. He knelt down, heedless of dirtying his trousers, and started unbuttoning the boy’s shirt. “What are you doing?” Anne cried. “Shush!” he answered. Then he stared straight

into her eyes. “I need you to be quiet now, if I’m to help him. Whatever happens, you mustn’t make any noise. OK?” She nodded, confused. “Of course,” she said. “But can you really do anything?” Mark sighed heavily. “I think so. Let me work now. Remember, no noise.” Anne held her breath while she watched Mark. He put both his hands on the boy’s bare chest and started applying pressure. For a few seconds nothing happened, then Anne’s eyes opened wide in shock. A white, hot light flowed along Mark’s arms towards the boy’s chest, then passed over his body, getting brighter until Anne had to shield her eyes from its glare. She bit her tongue to stop herself crying out when she saw the boy’s chest rise and fall, once, twice, three times, and he started to breathe regularly. But the surprises were not over yet. Anne watched, open-mouthed, as the boy’s neck slowly straightened up and the trickle of blood flowed backwards until it had gone. His left leg went back into place and now it looked as if the boy was just sleeping. Her hands started shaking and she was sure she would start screaming at any moment. The boy opened his eyes and sat up, a surprised expression on his face. “Wh-where am I?” he asked, dazed. “Stay still, you fell out of a tree. You should be OK now, but be more careful in future,” Mark answered. Somehow, through the mists of shock that surrounded her, Anne realised that there was something wrong with Mark. His voice seemed different, somehow, deeper. She slowly turned and stared at him, then she did begin to scream. It felt as if she were in the middle of a nightmare and couldn’t wake up. Her beautiful prince Issue 10 | May 2017 |

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| SHORT STORY | charming looked at least twenty years older all of a sudden. His blond hair was now streaked with grey and he had deep wrinkles around his eyes. He jumped up and put an arm around her shoulders. “Wait just a bit longer, then I’ll explain everything,” he whispered. They helped the boy stand up and watched as he made his way back home across the park. Anne shuddered; the young boy strode purposefully over the grass, full of vitality, but in her mind’s eye all she could see was his twisted, broken body devoid of any life. Mark led Anne to their bench and they sat down. Then, speaking in a low voice, he began. He told her about his pet rabbit that had broken its leg when he was four years old, about how he had felt an incredible heat pass from his body to the rabbit’s, about how the animal had leapt off his lap and started running around, its leg intact. At the beginning he’d thought that his ‘magic touch’ was a blessing but he’d soon understood that it was a curse. By the time he was six he had the body of a twelve-year-old and he’d learnt to stay away from injured people or animals. His parents had refused to believe that he was able to heal and they never spoke about it. He had left home as soon as he could and up until then he had tried to live a normal life. Anne stared at him, incredulous. “How old are you?” she murmured. What if he told her he was fifteen? “I’m twenty-two,” Mark answered. “I th-thought you were at least thirty,” Anne stammered. Oh no, he was ten years younger than her! “I’m sorry,” Mark said. “I’ve never spoken about this to anyone before. I wanted to... but I didn’t know how to tell you.” Anne shook her head sadly. “I’m so sorry. But if it hadn’t been for you that boy would be dead now. Instead he’s gone back home as if nothing ever 40 | UncagedBooks.com

happened to him today. I...” She started crying, unable to carry on. He held her tight, murmuring reassuring words in her ear. From that moment, their relationship changed. They lived every day to the full, grateful for another chance to see each other. They told each other everything about themselves, completely open and honest, laughing and crying together, holding nothing back. And every now and then he had a few more grey hairs or some deeper wrinkles and she learnt not to ask questions but to accept him for what he was. Until the day that Anne crossed the road in front of the park, unaware that the approaching lorry driver was too engrossed in his telephone conversation to notice her, until a squeal of brakes preceded the loud bang that seemed to explode through her head. She found herself lying on the ground, a pool of blood under her head, hardly conscious, but she knew that Mark was running over to her and that he was going to touch her. ‘He’s here,’ said a voice inside her head, and there was his voice, so familiar, murmuring loving words in her ear. She wanted to tell him not to touch her, to go away, but she couldn’t, she was too weak. Suddenly she felt a wave of heat pass through her body and then the pain was gone. She opened her eyes and saw his face, an old man’s face, watching her, worry etched all over it. “Hello, sweetheart,” he whispered. “You’re all right now.” She lifted her arm and stroked his white hair, tears streaming down her face. “You shouldn’t have done it,” she sobbed. “Look at you now!” He smiled. “Be more careful in future, both for yourself and for our son,” he said. His face


| HELEN PRYKE | suddenly turned white and he slumped to the ground. Anne started screaming, knowing that he was gone forever, and it felt as if she would never stop. Like I said, there’s no “and she lived happily ever after” in this story. After all, real life is no fairy tale, although it can seem magical at times. Today, I’m sat here on the bench with a glossy magazine next to me (no more Times, no more office, I’m living life to the full now) and a light breeze gently blows through my hair, like a loving hand caressing me, reassuring me. I smile as I watch the sleeping baby in the pram, my son, Mark’s son. The two of us taking our daily walk in the park.

The End Born in England, Helen went to live in Italy Pryke When She was 20. She had to learn the language, the culture, and the Italian way of doing things, all very different from what she was used to. After having two sons, she dedicated herself to her passion for writing. She has Also Been working for some years as a translator. Walls of Silence is her first novel, inspired by the dark, fascinating side of Italy and her passion for this beautiful, complicated country.

If you’d like this book for your collection free, it’s available HERE.

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feature authors

scifi paranormal horror

Claire Buss

M.D.

Massey

R.L.

Blalock


feature author Claire Buss is a science fiction/fantasy writer currently based in Barking, Essex. She wanted to be Lois Lane when she grew up but work experience at her local paper was eye-opening. Instead Claire went on to work in a variety of admin roles for over a decade but never felt quite at home. An avid reader, baker and pinterest addict Claire won second place in the Barking and Dagenham Pen to Print writing competition in 2015 with The Gaia Effect and set her writing career in motion.

Stay Connected

Uncaged welcomes Claire Buss, whose debut novel, The Gaia Effect is a recommended read for SciFi readers. Uncaged: I’ve read that The Gaia Effect is your debut novel. The novel is terrific, have you been writing a long time? Thank you! I used to write a lot when I was younger, pre-teens really and then life got in the way a little bit and being a writer became a ‘one-day’ dream. I happened to see a writer’s workshop at my local library in 2014 which I decided to attend and found out about a book writing competition through that. The Gaia Effect was the result of that competition. Uncaged: Do you read your reviews on your books? Do they influence your story at all?

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Yes I do read my reviews. I find it fascinating to see the different elements that readers like or dislike, the thoughts and ideas that occur to them after reading my book and also their requests for more information. It’s great to find out if I had an emotional impact because some of the scenes in the


which was wonderful. I’d like to find out more about the convention circuit in the UK, it’s on my list! Uncaged: What are your favorite genres to read right now? Who are some of your favorite authors? Do you like to read books that are part of series? My favorite genre to read is fantasy and science fiction but I am open to any and all recommendations. I’m a member of an online sci-fi & fantasy book club as well as a real life mainstream book club so I’ve always got plenty of choice. Favorite authors off the top of my head, right now, are Jasper Fforde, Justin Cronin, Sir Terry Pratchett, Robin Hobb, Ben Aaronovitch, Joe Abercrombie, Brent Weeks, Brandon Sanderson, Sarah Pinborough and I’ve started reading more indie authors. Currently loving Dragon Trials by Ava Richardson. Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? I love spending time with my little boy, baking, reading and watching movies. I also love being outside, visiting new places & having adventures as we like to call it. book were incredibly emotional to write. Uncaged: What’s coming next and is there a sequel coming for The Gaia Effect? There is a sequel to Gaia, in my head! I am currently editing a humorous fantasy called The Rose Thief which has been a lot of fun to write. I also have a short story collection that I’m working on which takes a somewhat darkly funny look at the unique life of suburbia. Then of course there is the big box of ideas, scribbled on scraps of paper, under the bed. Uncaged: I know you’ve done the traditional blog tours, are there any in-person book signings and conventions in the U.K. you attend at all, as a fan or author? I attended a sci-fi convention in North Wales at the end of March as an author which was a great experience. I’ve also had my own author event at my local library which went well and I’ve attended other local author events, it’s great to feel like you’re part of a writing community. I went to the midnight signing of I Shall Wear Midnight by Sir Terry Pratchett

Uncaged: Where is your favorite place to write? Do you prefer quiet, or do you listen to music? My favorite place to write is anywhere I can get comfy lol. I don’t have a particular writer’s nook at the moment although when things are particularly blocked I like to go and sit in a nearby cafe. Somehow the bustle of being elsewhere helps me to focus on what I should be doing. I quite like listening to classical music or movie soundtracks when I write but I find it needs to be quiet with no distractions when I’m editing. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? I’d like to say thank you! It’s amazing to think that people enjoy reading my work and want to read more, I hope I can continue to write books readers want to read.

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| FEATURE AUTHOR |

Enjoy an excerpt from The Gaia Effect The Gaia Effect Claire Buss SciFi

In City 42 Corporation look after you from cradle to grave. They protect you from the radiation outside the wall. They control the food, the water, the technology and most important of all, the continuation of the human race. Kira and Jed Jenkins were lucky enough to win Collection but when their friends start falling pregnant naturally, everything changes. How long has Corporation been lying to them? Is it really toxic outside the wall? As the group comes to terms with the changes in their lives they discover there is a much more powerful and ancient force at work, trying to bridge the gap between man and nature. Excerpt ‘What are you two doing here?’ Kira whispered as Jed and Pete followed the Infant Growth Assessor lady into the apartment and closed the door behind them. Pete pursed his lips and Jed frowned as they both saw the activated cocoon. The IGA ignored it and pulled out a touchscreen. ‘Later,’ Jed murmured. ‘Good afternoon, I’m your IGA,’ announced the woman. ‘Who are the parents?’ ‘We are.’ Jed pointed at his wife and put on his best smile as he ushered the IGA into the kitchen area and offered her a beverage. Pete looked at the cocoon again. Kira nibbled her fingernails, turning towards the cube when Grace began to cry. She teetered, not knowing whether to go to her or speak with the IGA. In the end the plaintive noise decided her, and she scooped the baby up, rocking Grace gently, and humming as she walked over to the others. 46 | UncagedBooks.com

‘I’m here to carry out an infant suitability assessment not drink synth-caf, but I suppose one would be nice. It’s not often we get time to indulge while at work. I’m surprised you even have the drinks machine given your requests.’ Jed and Kira looked at each other in confusion. ‘Requests?’ Kira asked. ‘Ah, sorry, we thought you’d be nonconformers you see, because of the no technology request. I mean almost all parents have a NanNan these days and we just thought... well, you know.’ The IGA coloured slightly as she sipped her synth-caf. ‘No offence.’ ‘None taken,’ Kira said smiling. ‘We’re not pure naturals but we wanted to try the natural approach with the baby. After my studies I was curious....’ The IGA interrupted. ‘Oh I see, hobbyists then. Well each to their own. I’ll leave the paperwork for the NanNan as well as our latest brochure and then when you want to order, everything will be there for you.’ ‘If,’ whispered Kira under her breath. The agent frowned as she walked around the lounge area. ‘What’s that?’ she asked, pointing at the lit candle in the corner of the room. ‘Oh. Mm, that’s mine. I was just meditating before you arrived.’ ‘Meditating?’ ‘Yes. You never heard of it?’ ‘No. I mean not in real life.’ The IGA patted her neat bun. ‘I read history at Higher Academy you know, I remember some of the strange customs.’ She moved closer peering at the candle on the small table. ‘So what do you do with it?’ ‘Well,’ Kira had followed the IGA into the lounge and she sat down with Grace. ‘I believe in balance, so sometimes when I feel stressed or out of sorts I like to try and focus my energy on releasing the things that made me feel out of balance. It’s easier to think of it in terms of light and


| CLAIRE BUSS | colour, moving from dark to bright,’ Kira paused, searching for something else to say. ‘Controlled breathing helps....’ The IGA interrupted again and pointed at the small blue statue. ‘And who is that?’ ‘That’s Gaia. She is the spirit of the Earth, dedicated to keeping the life force of the planet in balance. She can be used as a focus point.’ Kira could see the IGA was looking troubled. ‘I work in the Archives so I have approved access.’ ‘Ah, well I guess that makes sense. Not sure how I would write this up anyway. Probably best not to mention it to anyone. I expect it’s quite a personal thing and let’s face it we don’t tell everyone about everything we do behind closed doors do we?’ The IGA glanced at the cocoon before turning to look at Kira and smiling, not realising how offensive she sounded. Kira agreed, in disbelief yet relief that the topic would be dropped. The IGA finished her drink and fished out her paperwork. ‘Right, here’s my checklist. Neural jack’s in use?’ ‘No’. ‘Nan-Nan installed – no. Scent patches activated?’ ‘No’. ‘Cube ordered?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Type?’ ‘Standard sleeping, able to move around our apartment.’ ‘Hmm,’ the IGA looked down her list. ‘I don’t think there’s much point in me going through the rest of the options. They are all classified as high-tech and you’ve clearly decided against that kind of help. I don’t think there’s anything else I can do for you today.’ ‘Don’t you want to look at the baby?’ Kira queried. ‘Do you mind a health probe?’ ‘Is it non-invasive?’ ‘It can be.’

‘Alright then.’ Kira watched suspiciously while the IGA brought out a handheld, pressed some buttons and then directed the scan towards Grace laying in her cube. Several bleeps later the IGA handed Kira a readout. ‘It’s all good. Remember to visit your local Med Centre if you have any queries. Do you have a medical handheld?’ Kira shook her head. ‘Well, you might want to look into that otherwise how will you know if the baby is okay? Contact your local Agent, they’ll have what you need. I’d recommend a health check at six weeks but obviously get in touch beforehand if you have any worries. Babies are tough little things.’

Uncaged Review A lot of books are in the SciFi category, and they have elements of SciFi and elements of other genres, The Gaia Effect is not one of those. This is a full-on SciFi story with fantastic futuristic technology set in a domed part of the world after a disaster – and any area outside the dome is not habitable for people, or is it? The Corporation takes care of the people, and controls the water supply so there won’t be shortages and even the births since all women are sterile since the disaster struck. But when women start turning up pregnant naturally, the resistance, known as Anti-Corp, start digging for answers, and finding how deep the deception goes with Corporation. This is well written and the author keeps the reader wanting to turn the pages. The pace keeps going with elements of crime, suspense, betrayal and friendship. The fact that this is the author’s debut novel, is quite impressive and I look forward to reading more from her. Reviewed by Cyrene

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feature author I’m pretty much your typical INTJ. I’ve been a soldier, an emergency room technician, a fitness trainer, a truck driver, a martial arts instructor, a cook, a consultant, a web designer, and a security professional. I live in Austin, Texas with my family and a huge American Bulldog who keeps me company while I write. When I’m not in my office or at the local coffee shop writing, you can find me in my garage pummeling inanimate objects.

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mdmassey.com Sign up for the newsletter for Free Books offerss.

Newsletter

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Zombies, vampires and werewolves. Yes, MD Massey goes there, and it’s a thrilling ride. We welcome him to Uncaged. Uncaged: You have a background that you can draw from, that really gives believability to your novels, including military, martial arts and emergency room technician. Why did you want to write paranormal, and what gave you the idea to combine the classic zombie apocalypse with paranormal? I know hard core fans of each of those genres may balk at the combining of the two, have you found that to be true for this series? I decided to write paranormal fiction because I wanted to write the same sort of books that I like to read. I’ve been fascinated by all things paranormal and horror since I was a kid, so it wasn’t much of a leap to go from reader to writer in that regard. I spent most of my time with my nose in a book, and on every trip to the library I’d make a beeline for the section that had books on the paranormal and occult. Anything having to do with folklore, vampires, werewolves, zombies, mummies, unexplained mysteries, or UFOs was right up my alley. My mom used to worry there was something wrong with me, but I guess it’s paying off now. As for combining genres in my first series, that was both a mistake and a happy accident. It was a mistake because cross-genre books are difficult to market, and a happy accident because it has allowed my books to stand out in a crowded genre.


To be honest, when I first started writing THEM I just threw in everything I liked. Zombies? Check. Vampires? Check. Post-apocalyptic survival? Check. Lots of gunfights and martial arts? Check, check. I did almost no genre research, and simply endeavored to write a series of books that a reader like me would enjoy. Some readers who are hardcore zompoc fans view the series with a skeptical eye because of the paranormal elements, and likewise for my urban fantasy readers. But, nine times in ten, once a reader gets into the series they are hooked. Of course, there are readers who decide they’ll dislike the books before ever reading them, and that’s fine. Those aren’t the readers I am writing for, and I’m okay with it if they skip the series for something that’s a bit more familiar to them. Uncaged: Do you read your reviews on your books? Do they influence your story at all? I do! Sometimes they make me laugh, and sometimes they make me cringe. But, I read through them all. I know a lot of authors refuse to look at their reviews, because they can’t read them without taking them personally. I don’t get that; I get some of my best reader feedback from reading reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. And I pay attention to what readers are saying. If I see that readers keep mentioning a certain character over and over again in multiple reviews, then I

know I need to write a more prominent role for that character in future books. Or, I may need to consider a spinoff series for them. So yes, reviews can influence my stories to a certain degree. Uncaged: The Zombie Apocalypse series is at 4 books right now, are you planning on continuing this series? I am, although I’ve set it off to the side while I finish the first tetralogy in my urban fantasy series, Junkyard Druid. But don’t fret; more books are coming in the Scratch Sullivan series. I have a standalone planned for everyone’s favorite postapocalyptic werewolf, Bobby, and also a final book to cap off the Scratch Sullivan story arc. I’m also toying with the idea of doing a spinoff series with Gabby, the protagonist from Book Four, because she’s one of my favorite characters. Timeline-wise, I’ll have to start the series a few years after Scratch’s story ends to make it viable for my current audience. I’m still playing with the concept, but it’s probably going to happen sometime over the next couple of years. Uncaged: What’s coming in the near future? Right now I’m finishing Moonlight Druid, the third book in the Colin McCool, Junkyard Druid urban fantasy series. Then I’ll be writing the fourth book in the series, Underground Druid. In that one, I intend to pull out all Issue 10 | May 2017 |

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| FEATURE AUTHOR | the stops. The first two books were fairly lighthearted, but in the third and fourth books the tone becomes darker, because the deeper Colin gets dragged into the world of the Fae, the more messed up his world becomes. After that I’ll switch back to the Scratch Sullivan series to finish that story arc off. Oh, and I’m also working on a couple of Junkyard Druid novellas that will be included in two different paranormal and urban fantasy anthologies. Uncaged: What are your favorite genres to read right now? Who are some of your favorite authors? Do you like to read books that are part of series? I love digging into a good series, sure. Give me an author who knows how to spin a yarn, and who also has a huge backlist, any day of the week. And thank heavens for ebooks, because so many established trad-pub authors are buying back the rights to their backlisted and out of print works, and rereleasing them in ebook format. If you ask me, limitless ebookstore shelves are the greatest thing to happen to readers since the Gutenberg press. My favorite genres are urban fantasy, high fantasy, grimdark, superhero fantasy, and post-apocalyptic, with urban fantasy usually being my first pick. However, urban fantasy is currently experiencing an influx of books that have strong romance elements, and that’s kind of a turnoff for me. So, I’ve been looking to other genres for my reading fix lately. That being said, my favorite urban fantasy author is Patricia Briggs, and her books definitely include a little romance. But, that’s about as close as I get to reading PNR. As far as other authors I enjoy, I’m a huge fan of the Joe Ledger series by Jonathan Maberry, and I’d read Neil Gaiman’s grocery lists if he’d ever publish them. 50 | UncagedBooks.com

I also like a lot of Chuck Wendig’s stuff. He’s hilarious, and I thought Atlanta Burns was brilliant. Wendig’s style reminds me a lot of Joe Lansdale’s work, a Texas author who I am positive will go down as one of the greats of the 20th and 21st centuries. And, I really admire Andrew Vachss, not just for his work as an author, but also for the work he does as an advocate for abused children. Aric Davis is another great talent who deserves mentioning; for my money, Nickel Plated is just about as perfect a YA novel as you can get. As for indie authors, one series that really captured my attention was The Traveler’s Gate Series by Will Wight. I thought House of Blades was groundbreaking, because the premise was fresh and the action was on point. Plus, Wight writes fantasy books that don’t rely on Tolkien’s lore to underpin them. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with for the sequel. Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? Obviously, I spend a lot of time reading. I’ve done martial arts for most of my life, so I also spend a great deal of time training, although not as much as I did when I ran my own studio. And, I do a lot of gaming, mostly RPG titles, first-person shooters, and action-RPG stuff. Uncaged: Are you planning on attending any conventions or book signings this year? I have yet to plumb the depths of the con world, so I guess the answer is “no, with a chance of maybe.” As of now I have no definite plans for any appearances or book signings in 2017, simply because I don’t have the time to travel. Maybe I’ll have more time for appearances after I make the transition to writing full-time, but for right now it’s a stretch just to stay on my writing and publication schedule. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you?


| MD MASSEY | First off, writers don’t have fans, they have readers. The last thing the publishing world needs is another prima donna author who thinks they’re a celebrity. I interact with a lot of authors online, and I’ve noticed that some of the nouveau riche authors that rode the Kindle gold rush have inflated egos. And frankly I just don’t get it. Case in point: I reached out to one of my favorite authors recently, and he was kind of a jerk to me. What he doesn’t realize is that I buy every book this guy publishes; I’m one of his whale readers. Will I stop buying his books? Hell no, but I won’t go out of my way now to share them with other people, either. Maybe he doesn’t care, but do that enough and it will start to hurt your sales. Authors would do well to remember that readers have plenty of writers to choose from these days, and they vote with their dollars. So, I guess what I’m saying is that if you like my work and you want to say hi, go right ahead. Shoot me an email through my site (http://mdmassey. com), or reach out to me on Facebook (https:// www.facebook.com/mdmasseyauthor/). I love hearing from readers, even when they tell me that I made a mistake in one of my books. In fact, those folks are the best. Considering what I spend on editing, getting a little free proofreading is always a treat. And finally, thank you so much for supporting my work. You folks keep me writing, and I wouldn’t have come this far without the many readers who have taken a chance on my work. So, thanks!

Enjoy an excerpt from T HEM: Invasion

THEM: Invasion M.D. Massey Paranormal/Apocalyptic The action-packed prequel to M.D. Massey’s THEM Paranormal Zombie Apocalypse Series! When a surprise nuclear attack forces Aidan from hiding, he finds the world to be a much different and more deadly place. Now he’ll traverse a post-apocalyptic landscape populated by violent redneck looters, rogue military factions, and an army of hungry undead... Excerpt Chapter One I was just pulling my old Toyota Hilux 4x4 into the Stop N’ Go parking lot when I saw him standing there, kinda’ swaying back and forth and just generally waiting to get run over. Aw’ shit, I thought, better help him before Randy comes along and locks him up. Randy was the local constable, and along with the sheriff’s deputies who patrolled this area, he was most of what passed for the law in these parts. Most folks who aren’t from Texas don’t realize it, but there are counties in this state that are bigger than most northeastern states. And in South and West Texas, many of them are fairly sparsely populated, which means there’s a whole lot of land with not a lot of law to go around. Suits me just fine, as I like to spend my time with as little government interference as possible. Another thing most folks don’t realize is just how close to Mexico most of the state is. That means we get a lot of illegals coming up from south of us, looking for work and a better life. I don’t hold it against them, being as my ancestors pretty much came to Texas the same way, albeit before Texas was a state. And even though I’m mostly a fan of respecting the rule of law, I still Issue 10 | May 2017 |

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| FEATURE AUTHOR | try to help them anyway I can. Sadly, this character looked like he’d been sick for days. Nearest hospital was in Kerrville, and he likely had no way to get there, as he was probably all on his own. Musta just got into town. Coyotes would smuggle illegals just far enough to evade ICE, then they’d give them a jug of water and say, “Walk that way until you find a town.” A lot of them died each year, lost in the desert scrub, without adequate water, food, or shelter. Good part of them were kids. I had an uncle who worked as a cop on the border in South Texas for the better part of 50 years, and he’d tell stories about finding kids dead in the scrub. Haunted him for the rest of his days. So, when I see a guy like this one, I do my best to step in and help them get where they need to be. This guy looked like he was really bad off. For one, he was sticking out like a sore thumb, which was bound to get him picked up quick. He was wearing a pair of snakeskin boots that looked liked the soles were worn right through, a pair of acid-washed jeans that had seen better days way back in the eighties when they were probably made, and a cheap western shirt. An Astros hat topped it all off, which he probably bought thinking it would help him blend in, the poor guy. I pulled my truck up beside him and spoke from inside the truck. “¡Oye! ¿Necesita un paseo?” Hey, do you need a ride somewhere? Nothing. The guy just stood there, continuing to rock back and forth. I could see his eyes were glazed over, and he looked like he was about to pass out. I grabbed a water bottle from the passenger seat, put the truck in neutral and set the parking brake, and got out to help him. “Señor, quieres agua?” I asked as I approached him from the front. He was still zoning out as I walked up, and it looked like he’d need medical assistance, for sure. I unscrewed the cap and walked up with the bottle held out to him, and as I did, his eyes rolled back in his skull and he collapsed. “Shit!” I dropped to the ground next to him and 52 | UncagedBooks.com

shifted into combat lifesaver mode. A few years in 3rd Batt and a couple of tours in Afghanistan, and you pick up a few things about first aid. The guy looked like he was either vomiting or foaming at the mouth, so I rolled him over on his side and checked to make sure his airway was clear. He appeared to be breathing okay, so I looked around to find someone to call 911. Thankfully by this time we’d started to gather a crowd, mostly tourists who were down here to enjoy seeing the leaves turn at Lost Maples State Park and maybe a little tubing on the Frio, what with the Indian summer we were having. I tolerated them most days, but just barely. Bunch of yuppies and hipsters from Austin, with the occasional drunk-ass frat boy thrown in for good measure. I kept reminding myself they’d be gone in a few weeks, and good riddance. I also reminded myself that frat boys often brought sorority girls with them, which tended to make the summer and fall tourist seasons a bit more bearable. If only just. Most of them had their cell phones out and appeared to be filming the action. Welcome to the age of Worldstar and YouTube, where idiots would rather shoot a viral video than help their fellow humans. Sign of the times, I supposed. I didn’t even own a cell phone, refused to carry them, in fact. Like I wanted the government to be able to track my every move. They had gotten enough out of me in the ‘Stan; now I just wanted to be left alone. I turned to a fat guy in a Hawaiian print shirt, flip flops, and cargo shorts. “You, Peter Griffin! Call 911, this guy obviously needs help.” The guy gave me a hurt look and started dialing his phone. “I was going to call - no need to start insulting people,” he mumbled as he dialed. I sneered and went back to helping my anonymous friend. In the time it took to turn to the tourist to get him to call an ambulance, the guy had stopped breathing. “Aw hell!” I said to no one in particular. I jumped up and pushed through the crowd to my truck and pulled a med kit from behind the seat. It had a


| MD MASSEY | CPR pocket mask in it, because damned if I was going to give this guy mouth to mouth through all that foam and puke. I pushed my way back through, only to find that, of course, no one had started CPR yet. I dropped down next to the guy and cleared his airway again, gave him two quick breaths, then I started chest compressions. I could hear the crowd mumbling behind me as I worked. “Oh man, this is going up on Facebook right now! The guys are going to flip!” “Ew, he threw up in his mouth - gross. I bet he stinks, too.” “Shouldn’t someone call an ambulance? I think they did already, right?” “Where is the Border Patrol when you need them? If they were doing their jobs, this kind of thing would never happen.” And so on. I blocked them out and focused on keeping this guy’s heart beating for him, a task that seemed to be dragging on into eternity. It was always like that when you were pumping on somebody’s chest, which I did more times than I would have liked in the ‘Stan. As I looked down at my hands moving the guy’s chest up and down, I could almost smell the gunpowder and feel the grit between my teeth, and hear the sounds of battle all around me. Oh, bloody hell. Not again. My breathing started to quicken and I could feel a full-on panic attack was about to hit. Not good, Sully. Not good at all. I tried to slow my breathing, which was kind of difficult considering all the work that went into keeping the guy’s blood moving and keeping air moving in and out of his lungs. So far no one had volunteered to do two-person CPR with me, and I was getting light-headed along with feeling like my heart was beating out of my chest. I started to feel like things were closing in, and I couldn’t focus, couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think. Just a few more minutes - surely just a few more minutes. Ambulance should be here anytime now, I reassured myself. Only, it might not. Real County covered over 700 square miles, and the local EMS crews could be busy with a drowning, an agricultural accident, or a motor vehicle collision

halfway across the county. Just thinking about that started making me flip out more. “Balls!” I whispered loudly in frustration. I was starting to see spots, my breathing was coming fast and shallow, and I was about to lose my shit. And that’s about the time the guy I was doing CPR on came back to life. --I was pumping away on the guy’s chest when his eyes suddenly popped open. It was weird though, because they were rheumy and covered in a white haze, not unlike someone who has suffered flash burns to the eyes. His eyes sort of rolled around a bit, then he took in a deep, shuddering breath, and started moaning and pawing all over the place. I placed a hand on his shoulder to calm him. “Cálmate. Todo está bien. La ayuda está en camino.” Calm down, everything is fine and help is on the way. His eyes rolled around again and centered on me. He paused, and I thought I’d finally gotten through to him. Then, he lunged up at me with lightning speed, bowling me over and landing on top of me. Out of habit, I pulled him in between my legs into the jiu-jitsu guard position, and got a forearm under his chin. Unfortunately, he had already grabbed me by the neck with both hands, and was pulling my face towards his with such force, I thought he might snap my neck. Not to mention the fact that he was choking me as well. His face was just inches from mine, and he was snapping his teeth at me in a pecking manner, bobbing his head forward and apparently trying to take a bite out of my face. The scary thing was, despite years of Modern Army Combatives training, I couldn’t move his hands off my neck. He was that strong. I’m not a small man, but in all my years in the military sparring with guys my size and bigger, I’d never grappled with someone who had this much raw strength. He’s on drugs, I thought. Great. I was already freaking out from the panic attack that had come on just moments earlier, and I was starting to see spots in my vision. I knew it was only seconds Issue 10 | May 2017 |

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| FEATURE AUTHOR | before I blacked out, and none of the bystanders were moving to help. I looked around frantically for assistance, unable to even speak, only to see a bunch of dumbfounded looks among the sheep standing by. In seconds, I was going to be a snack on Señor Bath Salts’ menu, and I’d end up another fatality in a viral “News of the Weird” story. Finally, I snapped. I went into full-on batshit mode and let my survival instincts take over as I reached down and drew the Kahr CW45 that I always carry on my right hip. Then I placed it under the dude’s left ear and fired. The bullet exited his skull at an angle that saved me from accidentally shooting an innocent bystander, but brains and blood sprayed out all over the people who were standing on that side of the crowd. As I rolled the guy’s now limp body off me, people scattered everywhere, with screams and shouts erupting all around me. A few people were still filming on their camera phones, but from several yards back now. I looked over at the guy I’d just been trying to save, saw the exit wound, then promptly turned my head and barfed. It’s not like I hadn’t seen wounds like that before, it was just that I’d nearly been choked to death, I was still having a panic attack from hell, and frankly the idea that I’d just killed a man who I was trying to help wasn’t sitting well with me at the moment. I could hear people starting to react to what had just happened. More murmurs, some outraged voices, others shouting and arguing. I heard tones of disbelief, angry voices… and still others were speaking in dickheadese. “Did you see what happened? He just killed that poor homeless guy!” “Man, this is going to get, like, a million hits! Ofreaking-M-G dude, this is going to blow up my followers!” “I would have done the exact same thing - absolutely. He did the only thing he could have done. Yep, the only thing.” Again, I tuned them out and my training kicked in as I began assessing myself for injuries and 54 | UncagedBooks.com

scanning the scene for further threats. That’s roughly the time I heard the sirens, but it wasn’t an ambulance pulling up. It was Constable Randy Taylor, the local law dog. I holstered my weapon and stood up with my hands away from my body and in clear sight. Randy got out of his cruiser, weapon drawn, then he saw me and the guy on the ground and quickly holstered it. He reached up to click his radio mike, rattled off something to his dispatcher, and calmly walked over to me. “Randy, it was self-defense. Honest. I was doing CPR on the guy, and then he just jumped up and started choking the shit out of me. Couldn’t get him off me, and I was going out. Had to do it.” I had my hands on my knees at this point, and I was starting to hyperventilate again. Randy strode up and grabbed me by the arm, and then walked me over to the front of the building, whispering in my ear as he guided me along. “I’m going to pretend that what you just said was, ‘It was self-defense and I need to speak to my attorney before giving a statement.’ Sound good?” I nodded wordlessly. He’d just reminded me that anything I said right now could be used against me in a court of law. For the most part, our county was fairly conservative, and would likely look favorably on a justified self-defense shooting. However, you never knew when you’d get a DA who who might be itching to make a name for himself, and that could lead to charges being brought, even if the cops on scene reported that it appeared to be self-defense. And despite the fact that I have a Mick name, I hardly look like a poster child for the Aryan race. Take one overzealous prosecutor and add an all-white jury who could be convinced that this was just one drunk Mexican killing another drunk Mexican, and I’d be sent up for twenty and change. No thanks. So, I took Randy’s cue and zipped it. Randy sorted of hunkered down in front of me and looked me in the eye. “You know SOP says I have to take you in on a shooting fatality. That means in cuffs. You okay with that?” I nodded, and allowed him to take my sidearm


| MD MASSEY | and cuff me, while leading me back to his cruiser. The windows were dark tinted, the motor and AC were running, and it was cool and dark in there. Randy left the cuffs loose. He was actually doing me a favor by putting me in the patrol car. I sat there for about 30 minutes while Randy and several sheriff’s deputies took statements and kept the crowd from tampering with evidence. It took about ten more minutes for an EMS crew to arrive, but they were really only there to transport the body to the morgue. One of them stopped by the patrol car to check me for injuries, but I waved him off and signed an AMA form. Soon after, Randy strolled over and hopped into the front seat of the vehicle. He remained silent until we’d pulled away from the scene and were down the road a bit. “Witnesses all pretty much said the same thing. You stopped to help the guy, he collapsed, you did CPR, and then he attacked you. We grabbed a couple of cell phones that filmed the events. A couple of folks weren’t too happy about it, but they said they wanted to help. Told ‘em they can come by the station and get them back after we’ve copied the video over.” He paused and looked back over his shoulder. “Looks like it was a justifiable shooting. Not a jury in the county that would put a good Samaritan war hero in jail, no how.” I laughed. Randy chuckled too. “Well, maybe if the DA played it just right. But thing is, I’m pretty sure I can make this go away before it even gets that far. With the video, we should be able to show that you acted in self-defense. The fact that you were providing aid before the attack will likely clinch it. Case closed.” We pulled up to the Sheriff’s office about 20 minutes later, and I followed Randy inside. Three hours after that, I was released without charges filed. Despite Randy’s assurances, I decided to have a local attorney show up at the station. After we conferred privately for a few minutes he sat with me as I gave my statement to the investigator who worked homicide for the county. Before being released I was told not to leave the area, in

case they needed me for further questioning. The lawyer told me he thought no charges would be filed. I had my doubts, but there was nothing I could do. One thing was for sure though; I was still freaking out. It was all I could do to hold things together while I sat through questioning. All the deep breathing exercises and other mental tricks I’d learned weren’t working, and I knew the only thing that would cure this and settle me back down was either a shit-load of Xanax, or heading out in the woods to be by myself for a good long while. I decided on the latter. After Randy took me to get my truck, I headed home to pack my gear.

Uncaged Review THEM: Invasion

(Zombie Apocalypse Book One) This book isn’t your run-of-the-mill zombie book. It does start out with the classic bomb attack and the results of the zombies (or deaders as they are called here) taking over with small communities that are trying to hold a safe zone. Our main character in this series is Aidan, aka Scratch – who is an ex-military man, who deals with his PTSD from being in Afghanistan by spending a lot of time in his family owned cabin deep in the woods. On one such trip, Aidan gets sick and is out a bit longer than he planned, and when he comes back out to town, everything has changed. Since this Is the introduction to the series, you are getting the information on how it all started, so think Rick Grimes waking up in the hospital in The Walking Dead in the first episode, and you’ll get an idea of how confused Aidan is. But with his military background, Aidan gets his act together pretty quickly. Now this story will begin to really get clicking a little over halfway in. The zombies aren’t the only Issue 10 | May 2017 |

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| FEATURE AUTHOR | monsters in this book. The ones that have been in hiding are now coming out – the vampires, seeing some easy pickings with the apocalypse. But these aren’t the romantic vampires you read so much of these days, think nosferatu and you are heading in the right direction. Anyone who doesn’t like the idea of vampires in with a zombie book, may change their minds if they give this a chance. The author brings them into the story very organically, and I liked the originality and it broke up the monotony of the clusters of zombie books on the market today. Well written, and very engaging, and even though you are burdened with a lot of information, the author does a good job keeping the material interesting to the reader. Looking forward to book 2.

THEM: Incursion

(Zombie Apocalypse Book Two)

This one is even faster paced than the first one. A very original concept, of bringing in paranormal elements into a post-apocalyptic zombie story. In the first book, we learned of the vampires living on the outskirts of humanity, hiding in the shadows and getting braver since the apocalypse and coming out. In this book, toss in werewolves to sweeten the pot, and Scratch Sullivan, hunts all of them. And don’t be fooled, this isn’t the romantic type of monsters that are wrote about so much these days. These are not what you want to meet in a dark forest. Characters are even more well developed, and there is even a bit of humor snuck in. Dystopian books don’t get a whole lot better.

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THEM: Incursion MD Massey Paranormal/Apocalyptic Scratch Sullivan just wanted to survive the apocalypse in peace. But when the vamps bring their war right to his doorstep, it’s time for him to cowboy up and rain hell down on his enemies... It’s been eight years since the bombs fell and the dead rose, and the world has become a very dangerous place. But I’m getting by. Oh, don’t get me wrong—it’s been hell on earth. But somehow, I seem to fit in. I hunt the dead, vampires and zombies alike, with the odd revenant thrown in for good measure. Folks pay me for solving their problems, sometimes in food, sometimes in moonshine, sometimes in ammo. And to this point, I’ve been content with how things turned out. But now some nosferatu tells me the vamps are going to attack the people I protect. Maybe it’s a load of bull, maybe not. But it’s too damned quiet, and something tells me I better find out for myself. So, I’m heading into the badlands, out where no one’s safe. Gotta see if that vamp was just blowing smoke, or if war is coming. And if it’s war they want, it’s war they’ll have. Because after eight long years of rebuilding what was lost, I’ll be damned if I let them take back what we’ve reclaimed.


Best Seller Lists Week ending April 28, 2017

New York Times Best Selling Fiction Hard Cover 1. THE BLACK BOOK by James Patterson and David Ellis 2. THRAWN by Timothy Zahn 3. ALL BY MYSELF, ALONE by Mary Higgins Clark 4. ONE PERFECT LIE by Lisa Scottoline 5. THE BURIAL HOUR by Jeffery Deaver 6. TWO FROM THE HEART by James Patterson and Frank Costantini, Emily Raymond and Brian Sitts 7. NORSE MYTHOLOGY by Neil Gaiman 8. SONG OF THE LION by Anne Hillerman 9. THE LOST ORDER by Steve Berry 10. MISSISSIPPI BLOOD by Greg Iles

IndieReaders.com Best Selling Hard Cover 1. Mister Moneybags by Vi Keeland + Penelope Ward 2. Turning Back by JA Huss 3. Faking It by Carly Phillips + Erika Wilde 4. Royally Screwed by Emma Chase 5. Anchor Me by J. Kenner 6. Champions Of The Dragon by Michael James Ploof 7. Legends Of The Damned by Various 8. HOT Addiction by Lynn Raye Harris 9. Silent Child by Sarah A. Denzil 10. The Gravity Of Us by Brittainy Cherry

Barnes & Noble Best Selling Fiction Amazon Best Selling Fiction Kindle eBooks 1. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood 2. Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan 3. Golden Prey by John Sandford 4. Crimes Against a Book Club by Kathy Cooperman 5. The Fix by David Baldacci 6. The Letter by Kathryn Hughes 7. All the Lies We Tell by Megan Hart 8. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood 9. 1984 by George Orwell 10. Pandemic by A.G. Riddle

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

The Lawless by John Jakes Golden Prey by by John Sandford The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood The Fix by David Baldacci A Pale Horse by Charles Todd Into the Water by Paula Hawkins Anything Is Possible by Elizabeth Strout 16th Seduction by James Patterson, Maxine Paetro 9. The Black Book by James Patterson, David Ellis 10. The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

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CatchUp with

Katherine McIntyre

Katherine McIntyre was a feature author in September 2016. Since then, she has released the third book in The Philadelphia Chronicles, Rising for Autumn. Uncaged: You were a Featured Author in the September 2016 issue of Uncaged Book Reviews. How was your experience being in the magazine? I loved it! The magazine is expertly done, and I really enjoyed flipping through the pages and being a part of the whole thing. I found the questions insightful and a bit more personal than the norm, which is always enjoyable for me. Uncaged: What kind of response did you receive? My readers loved the feature, and my Philadelphia Coven Chronicles series got in front of a whole new variety of people, which is always exciting. Uncaged: Since your feature, you’ve released Rising for Autumn, the third book in the Philadelphia Coven series, can you tell us what is coming up next for you? Any teasers on the 4th book, like when it may be out and who this one is about? What’s coming up immediately is the final book in the series—Waking for Winter, set to release on July 4th, 2017! This is Dante and Cami’s book, featuring the flirtatious mercenary, a broken fighter of a banshee, and the big bad of the Order of the Serpent who’s been manipulating the events in the city from the start of the series. 58 | UncagedBooks.com

Here’s a sneak peek into the opening of Waking for Winter: “Cami woke up sweating ice for the thousandth time this week. Plaguing her memories wasn’t enough—the Caoranach turned even her dreams to nightmares. The monster’s probing eyes chilled her to the core, more than the frequent visions of death that came to her as a banshee. Memories of her time in the Caoranach’s clutches still drove her to crouch in the shower and scrub at the residue they left. As she tossed her thick blankets aside, her black lab let out a muffled noise before smacking his lips and returning to sleep. The oversized tee she wore clung to her thighs from the blossoming sweat, even as she walked through her icebox of an apartment. Cami ran a hand along Sirius’s thick fur while he snoozed, the sweet smile on his face making her heart squeeze tight. At least one of them would sleep tonight.” As for the future, I’ve got a shifter stories in the works, the Tribal Spirit series. The opening pair has the sort of enemies to lover chemistry that inspired some of my snarkiest dialogue, so I can’t wait to introduce the new characters to my readers! Uncaged: Will you be attending any events this year to meet your fans? I’m an attending author at Hallowread this year, an author/reader event in Ellicott City, Maryland from October 20-21st. I’m incredibly excited to be a part of it as not only am I reading at the steampunk tea, but I’ll be participating in the ‘Nevertheless She Persisted’ panel, one on writing kickass heroines.

katherine-mcintyre.com


A modern day Renaissancewoman, Katherine McIntyre has learned soapmaking, beer brewing, tea blending, and most recently roasting coffee. Most of which make sure she’s hydrated and bathed while she spends the rest of her time writing. With a desire to travel and more imagination than she knows what to do with, all the stories jumping around in her head led to the logical route of jotting them down on paper. She writes novels with snarky women, ragtag crews, and guys with bad attitudes. High chances for a passionate speech thrown into the mix.

Enjoy an excerpt from Rising for Autumn Rising for Autumn Katherine McIntyre Paranormal Romance Crisis and danger have become second nature for Alanna Carrington. After all, as the boss of the Philadelphia Coven, she’s responsible for upholding the laws amongst the supernatural. Which means when the Order of the Serpent rears its ugly head, this time with the most powerful necromancer this city’s ever seen, she’s the one person who can keep Philly safe. Ex-Order djinn and now ally, Samuel Karim, happens to be the best-suited guy to help. Except he’s also the first man who’s stoked her interest in far too long, and ever since she commandeered the lamp he’s tethered to for safekeeping, he also hates her guts.

off that shit sundae,” he said, glancing at her. His eyes betrayed everything, as expressive as the day they’d met. The “if you’ll let me help” was never spoken, but it hung there in the silent pause between them. He pushed with in a way no one dared to, and to her surprise, her insides squeezed with sweet relief. “You’re getting awfully bossy, Karim,” she murmured, her tone coming out rougher than intended. Dark humor laced her words since bitterness and pain hadn’t abandoned her yet, but the djinn seemed to be well versed in that currency. “Hope you’re not gunning for my job.” “Not crazy enough to try,” he said, a smile curling to his lips. Sam focused on the road, his dark eyes watching the streets in front of them and the dashboard lights illuminating the longer strands of his raven hair. His jawline grew more pronounced with the shadows, and his profile was devastating. Pride and bitterness etched lines on his face, making his beautiful features harsher but more attractive. Her heartbeat sped up while they drove along, and she couldn’t help watching him. When he’d been cold, she could dismiss the instant attraction that flared through her on the day they first met. After all, looks and chemistry weren’t everything. However, this man, the one who bothered to get to know her, the one who wasn’t afraid of the big, bad Coven leader, and the one who understood how the past could scar—he was dangerous. Because even though they didn’t have a hope for a future together, with every second she spent by his side, the deeper she fell.

Excerpt “Tonight, you’re going to take a break. You’ve had a hellish day, gone through something no one should have to, and your wrist is broken to top

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feature author R. L. Blalock’s love of reading started young. As a child, her father would read stories to her before bed every night. In middle school, she and her best friend bonded over books and writing. Her love of zombies, though, started later in life. In 2008, when R. L. Blalock first watched the remake of Dawn of the Dead, she instantly fell in love with the genre. Born and raised in Sacramento, California, R. L. Blalock now lives in St. Louis, Missouri with her loving husband and precocious three-year-old daughter. Their family also includes three pets: Memphis, a Pitbull/German shepherd mix who prefers to spend his days cuddling; Dixie, a Pit bull/Akita mix who greets everyone with excited squeals and enough kisses to last a lifetime: and Pazuzu, the Green-Cheeked Conure who thinks she’s a dog. By day, she gets the pleasure of waking before the sun is up to serve coffee to all the morning commuters in Lake St. Louis. Despite the early hours, the job has its perks. She can get her hands on as much coffee as she wants. During what precious little free time she has, R. L. Blalock likes to read whatever dark and twisted book she can get her hands on or scare herself silly with the same nightmarish kinds of video games.

Stay Connected

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How R.L. Blalock differentiates herself from the bursting genre of the zombie dystopian world is both refreshing and creative. Uncaged: Last October, you hosted and participated in a Zombie Crawl. First, exactly what is a Zombie Crawl? It looked like a lot of fun, is this something going to done again this year? The zombie crawl was hosted by the Band of Dystopian Authors and Fans (the group can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/bandofdystopian/). I just hosted a time slot, not the overall event. BOD is a fabulous group on Facebook full of some really wonderful people. If I remember right, it was a weeklong event. Authors made a post on their blog about anything and everything zombie related. They would host a giveaway on the blog and then readers would “crawl” from one blog to the next through the event. Authors also hosted flash giveaways and other fun games throughout the week. The Zombie Crawl was a ton of fun and I would definitely do one again this year. Uncaged: Do you read your reviews on your books? Do they influence your story at all?


I do. I don’t think any author can resist reading their own reviews. The good reviews make my day. The bad reviews keep me humble and tell me what I need to work on. And they have influenced my stories. I look at them as ways to improve my novels and give the readers what they want. In fact, the next book, Defy (this is a working title, the title of my books usually change a lot throughout the course of writing the book), has changed course entirely. Initially, I had planned to pick up Defy after the final chapter of Devour. A woman named Olivia R. left a review and commented on the time gap. She wanted to see what happened in between day 5 and day 36. I began to think and plan and now Defy will start around day 8 instead of day 38 as initially planned. Uncaged: Are you planning anything that is not zombie related? I am! I’m currently plotting a long sci-fi series. This one will start with an alien invasion and the guerilla fighters trying to save the human race and transition through hundreds of years to the colonization of far off planets. I’m really excited about it. I can’t say much about it now because I’m still very much in the planning and plotting phase, but I think it will be another fun and exciting world to explore.

Uncaged: What are your favorite genres to read right now? Who are some of your favorite authors? Do you like to read books that are part of series? I like to read a lot of the same stuff I write. Zombies, demons, monsters, but I do like to take a break and binge through some good space opera, alien invasion, or adventurous sci-fi. Most of the books I like tend to be on the dark side. I like stories where the characters struggle to overcome their obstacles. I want the characters to make mistakes. Perfect characters are boring. To me, the struggle is what makes the story interesting. Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? Free time isn’t something I have a lot of, but when I do have a little down time I usually spend it with my daughter, Addy. I usually just like to do things with her that she likes to do. Being four, that usually means playing with play dough, Barbies, or Pokemon. Sometimes we’ll just relax and lay on the couch together. If I’m really lucky and I have some free time entirely to myself, I’ll play videogames or read. Issue 10 | May 2017 |

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| FEATURE AUTHOR | Uncaged: Are you planning on attending any conventions or book signings this year? Actually, I am! I’m very excited because this will be my first year going to cons as an author. I’m going to Penned Con in St. Louis at the end of September (Penned Con website: https:// pennedcon.com/). I hope to do more signings next year. I love going to cons and I love meeting fans.

When Liv comes face to face with the infected, her hectic life grinds to a halt as the city around her begins to devour itself. Forced to flee from her car with nothing but her eighteen-month-old daughter, Elli, Liv must trek forty miles on foot across the feral infested suburbs of St. Louis to a safe haven that may not even be safe. Fight or die. What other hope does she have?

Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you?

Excerpt

I love my fans. They are what make this whole thing possible. Without them, my dream would never get anywhere. Every review, every time they chat with me on social media, it makes my day. It’s one of the best perks of the job! They can find me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Goodreads, and on my website.

Day 5 2:31 pm

Enjoy an excerpt from Devour Devour R.L. Blalock Horror An infection is spreading. People are dying, but they don’t stay dead. St. Louis is falling to pieces. In the midst of rioting, a dangerous new disease has sprung up pushing an already dire situation over the edge. Those who are infected suddenly become extremely aggressive, attacking and even eating those around them. And Olivia Bennett is caught right in the middle of it. 62 | UncagedBooks.com

The branches of the trees reached for Olivia like sharpened claws. Each one tore at her matted, coffee-colored hair and the thick, protective layers of clothing that covered her body. They scratched at her face as she crashed through the forest of silver maple and black oak in an attempt to escape the ferals. Leaves and twigs in the underbrush crunched under her feet like fireworks. A messenger bag with the few supplies she had left slapped her left thigh, punctuating each step. Her breath wheezed in and out raggedly as she struggled to breathe. White-hot pain seared through her side as she drew in each short breath. One of her ribs was broken. Her ivory skin was caked with blood and filth. The ill-fitting brown leather jacket and the jeans that were a size too big were not her own. She didn’t know who they had previously belonged to. Though Liv had never been slim, in a few short days she could already tell her frame was a few pounds lighter. The heavy layers made her skin sticky with sweat in the June humidity that the Midwest was known for. Without them, though, she would have been dead days ago. Lack of food. Lack of sleep. Too much running. Her body had readily consumed the precious


| R.L. BLALOCK | energy it had stored. Behind her, horrors that Liv would never have thought possible outside of the movies reached for her. With one bite, they could take away everything. After five days of running for her life, though, nothing was impossible. Now she was finally close to her salvation. The family-owned farm spanned two hundred and fifty acres. It was self-sufficient and located far enough outside of Troy to hopefully be defendable. Though she wasn’t sure what she would find when she got there, now it was her only hope. A wail from just over Liv’s shoulder spurred her exhausted muscles to move faster. The journey had been excruciating, testing the limits of her mental and physical capabilities. When exhaustion crept in, she had persevered for the little creature that cried on her back. The eighteen-month-old bundle of endless joy and worry was Liv’s daughter Elisa. Elli let out another ear-piercing shriek, a sound that could only be made in the grips of pure terror. Elli had become Liv’s sole purpose for survival. She would not let Elli suffer the horrific fate that so many others had succumbed to. The trees broke and now Liv was sprinting through an open field filled with knee-high, dried Johnson grass, the tapered feathery heads shedding dust along her clothes. Figures moved around on the far side of the field near a large, gray brick farmhouse. At first, she wasn’t sure if they were human or feral. Then they began to point frantically in her direction and scramble about. Human. A wild laugh escaped her lips. Her legs felt like lead and her lungs burned, but they were here. Four of the figures had broken away from the house and were headed her direction. Suddenly, a jerk from behind spun Liv around. Without thought, her arm flew up to protect her face. The creature latched on and a scream ripped from her throat as teeth sank into her forearm. Liv was face to face with one of them, a feral. A pack of ten or twelve had been trailing them

for an hour. She had come across the horde on the western edge of Troy and had been forced to sprint the rest of the way to Slag Stead. Pearly-white teeth smiled at her from where the man’s cheek had once been. Now, the skin on his face was missing from where his left ear would have been all the way to the bottom of his jaw. It had been torn away the same way he now tried to tear a chunk from her arm. His sandy-blond hair was streaked with blood and grime. His eyes looked in her direction but didn’t seem to see her. They were as blank and lifeless as a doll. In life, this man must have been physically fit because he moved fast for a feral. He had pushed Liv further and faster than she had ever thought she could run. As he tried to pull her over, she reached for the screwdriver strapped to her left thigh and jammed it into his eye. After a split second of resistance, the bony socket gave way and the screwdriver sank in to the handle. The man immediately went limp and fell to the ground, taking the weapon with him. Suddenly disarmed, Liv scrambled to pull the heavy mallet from her belt. She turned and swung at a feral woman whose outstretched arms reached for her. The woman’s face was twisted in a vicious snarl as she lunged for Liv. It was impossible to see beyond the savage expression to the person that lay beneath it. Blood darkened the fingernails of her left hand. The right arm ended at her wrist, white bone gleaming beneath a knot of crusted blood and dirt. The mallet didn’t hit its mark. Instead, it smashed into the woman’s shoulder. She spun and fell to the ground. Liv raised the mallet again with uncomfortable ease and brought it down squarely on the woman’s head. Over the past five days, the act was something she had done more times than she could count. As she dispatched the two ferals, the people from the farm had made quick work of the rest. They quickly surveyed the makeshift battlefield and ensured the ferals were truly dead. Liv’s eyes Issue 10 | May 2017 |

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| FEATURE AUTHOR | wandered across the haphazard bodies and she knew that she should have been horrified by the sight. Except, she wasn’t. Exhaustion took hold. Liv’s legs gave out and she fell to her knees. The last five days had not only been filled with horror and fear but also perpetual motion, with only a few hours of sleep at best. Every inch of her body ached from numerous mishaps and run-ins with the ferals. However, she was here. Slag Stead. A place that could provide sanctuary in a world filled to the brim with terror and pain. The unmistakable metallic clink of a gun hammer being cocked snapped Liv back into her surroundings. She looked up into the black barrel of a pump-action shotgun held by weathered hands. Dirt had worked itself into the lines of the fingers, callouses, and work-hardened skin. The hands were attached to a gruff man in his fifties. He was tall and beefy with short reddish-brown hair peppered with gray and a matching beard that rested against his broad chest. His face and arms were leathery and tanned from too much time in the sun. Liv suspected that if he had a mind to, the man could throw her like a rag doll. As imposing as this man seemed, his eyes were filled with sadness as he looked down at her. “If you hand over your child, we’ll take care of him like he was our own and we’re better off here than most.” His words were deliberate and detached. “Your child will be safe here, but you’ve been bitten and there’s nothing we can do for you now besides offer you a quick death.” Liv released the mallet she’d been holding tightly in her hands and placed her palms on her knees. She hoped this would be taken as a sign of compliance because she wasn’t sure she could hold them up. “Please just wait a minute,” her voice quivered. Her heart sped up again. Perhaps it had never slowed. Perhaps it never would. Until it stopped for good.

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comprehensivereview R.L.Blalock

Darkest Days & Devour The Darkest Days R.L. Blalock Horror **SHORT STORY TO BE READ ALONG SIDE THE DEATH & DECAY SERIES NOVELS**

To protect and serve. The motto that every officer is taught from their first day in the academy. On a humid June day in St. Louis, it is a motto that could get Officer Wyatt Ward killed. Desperate citizens flock to the station as the officers of the Cottleville Police Department struggle to handle the chaos that is enveloping a city already shaken by rioting. But as darkness descends something much worse is rising. The deranged. Brutal, unforgiving, single-minded monsters that were once the citizens Wyatt was sworn to protect. Now, they attack. They bite. They infect. As fear takes hold… As the city begins to eat itself… As the world crumbles… What is a man who is sworn to protect to do as the world dies?

Uncaged Comprehensive Review by Kaitlin Devour by R.L. Blalock is the first book in the Death & Decay series. Devour takes place during and immediately after the outbreak of a zombie virus, centering around a mother named Olivia Bennett who managed to escape an infested highway

with her 18-month-old daughter, Elli. The first chapter opens on them reaching their destination, tailed by the ‘ferals’-- their term for the zombies. First off, in a technical sense, this book is excellent. If there were any grammar or spelling mishaps, I didn’t notice them. It was very professional. The verbiage was diverse and unrepetitive, the pacing was spot-on, and Blalock has a knack for atmosphere. Even after taking a break between reading sessions, it was very easy for me to be thrown right back into the moment whenever I picked Devour back up. It also made it very difficult to put the book down in the first place. Now, one of the biggest pet peeves I have about horror settings is idiot characters. A lot of stories tend to have characters who have no common sense and/or allow themselves to get absorbed in pointless drama. Usually this results in them doing something blatantly stupid that puts their life and the lives of anybody with them at risk. Now, in small doses, this makes it more natural and realistic-- most human beings disagree with each other at some point, and not everybody will choose logic over emotion, even if the latter is obviously a reckless idea. However, in many cases, this is taken to an extreme for the sake of angst and conflict, with little reward. When characters are frequently killed in meaningless ways to incite emotion, it becomes increasingly difficult to get emotionally invested in a story. That’s why something like AMC’s The Walking Dead is simply not enjoyable to me anymore. For that reason, I believe Devour deserves all the credit in the world. Blalock does an excellent job writing and developing even minor characters, and at no point is there a tragedy that happens just for the sake of shock value. Everything Liv experiences affects her as a character and teaches her how to survive more efficiently. Every death is meaningful. Issue 10 | May 2017 |

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| COMPREHENSIVE REVIEW | I believe that Blalock walks the fine line between senseless character death and a lack of genuine risk- at no point was I 100% sure that a character was going to survive, but I also could not assume they would die. (Sidenote: as someone who is invested in the wellbeing and fate of animal characters, I am happy to report that the one dog who makes an appearance does not die, as far as the reader knows.) Liv herself is probably one of the most believable and likeable characters I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. It is so easy to immerse yourself in her story and put yourself in her place. She’s resourceful and compassionate, her actions well-balanced between logic and emotion. Liv is fuelled by an intense desire to protect her daughter that both gives her a defined goal and makes her an incredibly sympathetic character. Pushed into an insurmountable challenge, Liv goes from a stay-at-home mom to a complete badass in a very organic way. Despite the fact that Devour takes place over the span of about 5 days, at no point do I feel like the story was rushed. Everything Liv does is very deliberate and the plot itself holds steady. When necessary, the atmosphere is very tense and scenes are drawn-out, but never so much that they feel too slow. Part of this is how well-described each scenario is. Blalock manages a good level of detail, making sure the reader has enough without slowing down the entire book by over-describing. At no point is a combat scene too over-the-top, and I found them all to be very easy to visualize. My only half-complaint is about the epilogue, where the book skips forward thirty-some days to let the reader know what happened after Liv made it to Slag Stead with Elli. I feel like the epilogue itself is a little rushed and could explain things more thoroughly, though I don’t mind skipping what happened between day 5 and day 37. Most of what was skipped probably would have involved the 66 | UncagedBooks.com

social politics of a small group of people, and I think getting too invested in that tends to detract from the story overall unless you want the zombie setting to take a back seat. That said, I don’t think that the epilogue detracts much from the rest of the story, and I did enjoy the way it wrapped things up for the first book. It gives the reader closure, and I think that combined with Darkest Days (the accompanying novella), there’s plenty of potential for the next books. I am very curious to see how Blalock will continue Liv and Elli’s story, if she will continue Wyatt’s, and I look forward to the next book in the Death & Decay series. All-in-all, I highly recommend Devour and Darkest Days if you’re looking for a good, atmospheric read about a zombie apocalypse. Blalock writes an intelligent story and intelligent characters, lacking the cringeworthy drama that is pervasive in other zombie-related media.

Divided R.L. Blalock Horror Releases May 15, 2017 The world is dying. The dead are rising. But for the survivors, the dead aren’t the only threat. As chaos takes hold of St. Louis, Colin Bennett finds himself on the run. Though the Missouri River is the only thing separating the husband and father from his family, it may as well be an ocean. Colin and a few friends are forced to fight for survival as they seek out a safe haven for themselves and the other survivors they meet along the way. Together they set out to create a new life for themselves and reestablish some order in a dying world. When discord threatens to tear the group apart, can Colin and the others hold on to their crusade? Or will it destroy them?


CatchUp with

Romarin Demetri

Romarin Demetri was a Feature Author in January 2017. She has recently released Wanions of the Wicked, the third book in The Supernatural London Underground series. For those who love the paranormal landscape, this series will not disappoint. Uncaged: You were a Featured Author in the January 2017 issue of Uncaged Book Reviews. How was your experience being in the magazine? I loved being in the magazine, and I think that happened because I did have great reviews for “A Mirror Among Shattered Glass” and “The Frost Bloom Garden”! Just being in uncaged is wonderful because it’s so gorgeous! We did and interview and excerpt which was amazing! Uncaged: What kind of response did you receive? I had stellar editorial reviews for “The Frost Bloom Garden”, but releasing a book in December is something I will not advise, and response overall was significantly down from “A Mirror Among Shattered Glass”, which came out in June last year. January is tough all over for every person no matter your job, and I was able to manage 1 sale in the month of January. Nothing can downplay my accomplishments and positive feedback from readers though, and as long as the sun rises, I still know that I write excellent fiction. Uncaged: You’ve just released Wanions of the Wicked. After reading Wanions, I would definitely want to read more, and I know you said it was actually up to the readers. Have you come to a decision on that yet?

Thank you for wanting to keep up the story! I have some amazing and intelligent readers that make me want to release book 4 as soon as possible! The rest of the books are written, but I do have to take a one to two year break until the next one. Writing is something I do because I love it an absolute need to do it, however, I need a roof in the rain (AKA: Need to work my other job), so I have to space them out a bit. I refuse to release a book without professional editing, because I think my readers deserve it. More time will most likely produce a better novel, and I can’t argue with that! Uncaged: Will you be attending any events this year to meet your fans? I attended the Dayton Book Expo in April for the launch of “Wanions of the Wicked”, and am holding a launch party for existing fans at a coffee shop in a historic part of my home town on May 4th! There will be a book scavenger hunt as well as a book signing. It is always fun to see my loyal readers—and sometimes their character costumes! It should be so much fun.

Romarindemetri.com Biography Romarin Demetri, author and creative force, is a story crafter who loves black coffee and traveling abroad. When her characters come home in some sort of trouble, Demetri swears she didn’t invent it. Pulling from her Bachelor of Arts in English and Psychology, her debut series, The Supernatural London Underground, is a blend of fantasy ground in reality and a world readers can truly escape to. As an eccentric and reader, she still enjoys creating the alternate reality in her urban fantasy series (more than anything!), and her interactive world waits for you at RomarinDemetri.com.

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Enjoy an excerpt from Wanions of the Wicked Wanions of the Wicked Romarin Demetri Paranormal/Urban Fantasy A treaty of protection. An endall prophecy. A forbidden love. A family curse. A wanion is an oath, a wish, a promise, or a vendetta, and in the third installment of the Supernatural London Underground, London’s favorite group of supernatural misfits are forced to come to terms with theirs. The chance to free London from supernatural suppression was never a choice for Romarin Demetri, or for her friends and housemates, who shared a horror she has only heard about in a few unguarded moments. When an elite group of assassins is contracted to thwart their plans of liberating people from another experimental laboratory, their ultimate goal is forcibly stalled— allowing time for pleasant distractions, other worldly experiences, and situations that can’t help but make them feel human. Now that her friends finally have to face their horrible pasts, Romarin finds herself willingly walking into an insidious trap that plays out her own worst fears. Excerpt It was the night that all of London went black. Darkness obscured the city and guiding lights were hard to find, if not impossible. There were monsters accustomed to living in the dark, but if you didn’t aggravate them, they could bend into the blackest corners, taking with them the most horrible secrets. The lightning made me jump up in my bed and grasp the triquetra necklace that kept my head tied on. I usually took off the silver set of inter68 | UncagedBooks.com

twining circles before I slept, but my intuition told me that tonight was different than the rest. An inkling of paranoia flooded over my skin, leaving goose bumps in the wake of its ghostly presence. My bedside lamp wouldn’t turn on when I instinctively reached for the switch under the red lamp shade. The alarm clock flashed 22:13. Usually I didn’t retire so early, but I was eager to get to tomorrow because I was missing someone. A lot. The power had gone out. Thunder. I crept out of my room into the first floor hall just as Travis exited his bedroom into the same stone hallway of the old castle. He flashed the beam from his cell phone’s flashlight in my direction. “Bloody hell, Row!” Travis yelled at me. “You look like you’re from there!” “What?” “Your hair is all sticking up,” he said, shock edging his English accent. “You almost gave me a fright.” I ran a hand through the waves of my hair, and sure enough, static electricity licked my fingers and crackled as I smoothed down my pale hair. Travis looked at me wide-eyed, eyeliner and all, concern darkening the usual translucence of his crystal blue eyes. The natural but uncanny pattern of blond, silver, and black made his short hair blend into the darkness around us so well that its contrast was barely noticeable, until another flicker of lightning entered through the small window in the hall. A night like this would have chilled me even more had I lived alone. Travis and I lived in a castle with three other people, making us five, with a few visitors here and there who were tied to our underground world of the supernatural. After nineteen years living in the human world, I had found them all, and at the height of my dysfunction. I was doing well despite my dangerous abilities, I had to admit, and though I still didn’t fit in to the world, I fit into our world. Check out the Uncaged Review in the Reviews section.


Short story

The Archfield Ceremony by Julia Byrd


| SHORT STORY |

THE ARCHFIELD CEREMONY Julia Byrd julia-byrd.com

“Kneel, Sir Telhael of Archfield.” Tel sighed and hitched his chausses at the knees. He slid one foot back, grimacing as his joints protested. His left knee impacted with the stone floor, followed by the right. When he was settled, Tel carefully cleared his face of pain before meeting the eyes of his king. The ceremony honoring Sir Telhael for two decades of service to the crown did not come at the suggestion of Delmar, King of Gaige and Pallav. Delmar would have sent a barrel of dark wine and a friendly letter. Instead, as the king turned to find the medal to be pinned on Tel’s chest, the whole bloody court observed the ritual at Queen Anouk’s request. Tel ignored them and the prickling in his neck caused by their stares. He clenched his teeth against the impulse to shift his weight from side to side. The queen, standing by the king, met his eyes briefly, her lips pursed in apology. He didn’t know Anouk well enough to deduce if she was sorry about the crowd’s restless behavior or for having compelled him to court for the ceremony. He dropped his gaze to the flagstones. Delmar finally held up a starburst-shaped silver medal with an emerald in its center. “Kneel, Sir Telhael of Archfield,” he repeated. “In the name of the citizens of Gaige and Pallav, by my authority as their king, and in light of your sacrifices on their behalf, I name you the Duke of Archfield, Protector of her Environs and Commander of her Legions…” The king droned on, but Tel allowed his attention to wander. His new responsibilities would be largely ceremonial. The kingdom was finally at peace. They had won the war Delmar had started twentyfive years ago, the fight to carve out Gaige from her neighbors. Pallav had come along later as a diplomatic concession. 72 | UncagedBooks.com

Tel snapped into focus when Delmar seemed to reach a conclusion. The king handed the silver starburst to Anouk, who stepped down the two shallow steps and bent to fasten the decoration to Tel’s coat. Her thick braid fell forward over her shoulder, and a faint fragrance of cloves and oranges wafted over Tel. Anouk finished her task with a warm clasp on Tel’s shoulder, then turned to ascend to her place beside Delmar. Delmar nodded at his wife and lifted his hands, palms up. “Now rise, Telhael, Duke of Archfield—” The liquid hiss of a crossbow bolt sliced through the air of the hall. The bolt landed home in Delmar’s right eye socket with a wet thwunk. The king’s voice cut off. He was thrown backward by the impact and fell behind the dais. Tel surged to his feet without thinking and launched forward, up the two shallow steps as people began screaming. He tackled Anouk and propelled her to the ground beside Delmar. Anouk gave a strangled cry when her ribs hit the floor, the air forced from her lungs by Tel’s weight landing atop her. Another shot flew low over Tel’s head, so close that a few loose strands of his hair fluttered in the bolt’s wake. Tel quickly rolled off Anouk to one side, ignoring Delmar’s corpse and the sticky royal blood pooling around him. “What—” Anouk wheezed. Tel assessed their position. The dais was knee high, no real cover. He twisted and yanked at a leg of the gilt stand on the dais, knocking over the table so its top blocked them from view. As the table fell he glimpsed a dark-haired man at the back of the room, cranking back a crossbow for another shot. Damn it. Tel’s sword had been left with the guards outside the hall, as required by tradition. But the blade would be little use against that bow. His most important duty was to Anouk. Only the queen could prevent this assassination from devolving into a fresh new war. Plus, she knew the palace layout.


| JULIA BYRD | “Another exit,” he hissed at Anouk. “Oh my God,” Anouk cried, catching sight of Delmar. A bolt thwunked into the tabletop. The reinforced tip of the quarrel scarcely protruded through the wood, but the message was clear enough. “Anouk,” Tel grasped her chin roughly and turned her face away from Delmar’s body. “Think. Is there another exit from this room?” “I—yes,” she stuttered. “Back there and to the left.” She pointed to the rear of the hall. Sounds of fighting erupted from the far end of the room, but Tel didn’t dare raise his head to look. “All right. When I tell you, you’re going to get up and run to that door. Do you understand? Stay low, don’t look behind you, just run.” Anouk was shaking her head. “But Delmar—” “We can’t help him now.” He thrust his fingers into her hair and forced her to look at him. “Your life is going to hold this country together, do you understand me? You can fix this if you live.” Tel gave her head a shake, and her eyes hardened, as he’d intended. Anouk bared her teeth and sank her fingernails into the tendons of his wrist until he released her hair. “Let me go, you barbarian. Get us out of here.” “Good girl.” Tel slid on his belly to peek around the side of the table. The royal guard and even a few of the courtiers were fighting against…peasants. Farmers in roughspun wool wielding pikes and dull swords. He watched for a moment, but he couldn’t see the bowman. None of the combatants was looking in their direction. “Anouk,” Tel said. “I’ll be right behind you. Go now.” He heard her clamber to feet and dart away, then

waited another three heartbeats, watching the hall, before pulling his feet under him and following the queen. Tel ran in a half-crouch, gritting his teeth against the old ache in his knees, toward the rear of the room. Anouk watched him approach, her eyes huge and terrified. “Keep moving,” he called. He had almost reached the doorway when the treacherous sound of the crossbow slithered again through the air. Tel ducked and rolled, throwing himself forward the last few paces to the exit, but he was too slow. Too old, too complacent, he cursed, as the bolt burned along the high collar of his fancy coat. Tel slapped a hand to the side of his neck and felt blood. The damned thing had barely grazed him. Anouk was waiting in the dim passageway, her back pressed to the wall. “You’re bleeding.” “It’s fine. Where are the draft horses stabled? Not the hunters. The working beasts.” He rose to his feet, wiping blood from his hand. “I don’t—the draft horses are kept with the wagons, out through the kitchen.” Anouk was shaking her head. “Why is this happening? I don’t understand.” “Can you get us to the kitchens without using the main halls?” The queen inhaled unsteadily. “Yes. Here, take this.” Anouk crouched down and ripped a length of pale blue silk from the bottom of her gown, then handed it to Tel. “For what?” He looked at the scrap of her dress in his fist. She reached for his torn collar and pulled the wet fabric away. Tel froze. Anouk plucked the silk from his hand and pressed it in an awkward wad against his wound. “It’s not deep enough to kill you,” she said. “This way.” She led him through unadorned passageways, and the sounds of fighting in the hall began to fade Issue 10 | May 2017 |

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| SHORT STORY | behind them. Tel’s hands felt empty without a weapon of any kind. He flexed his fingers, rasping their tips along the calluses, the old scars, and the swollen joint at the first knuckle on his right hand. Hands hardly fit to hold a sword, much less swing it in defense of a queen. Anouk hurried ahead and pulled a burning torch from a bracket. “It’s not far to the kitchens,” she whispered over her shoulder. “Wait,” Tel said. He took two jogging steps and slid past her. A flickering light in the dim passage ahead meant they weren’t alone.

Anouk made a pained noise in her throat. “There is no baby.” Tel put a hand on the wall beside her, trapping her in place. “Never say that out loud again. You’re bearing Delmar’s child, and you’ll present him to the citizens in just less than nine months, do you understand? Delmar’s heir, the prince. You’ll provide us with a prince and the nation will carry on as we all intended.” “That’s terrible.” Anouk ducked under Tel’s arm and slipped away.

“Don’t kill anyone until we know who they are,” she instructed.

“No, war is terrible. I’m only being practical, and you need to be smart, Anouk. So think. When the prince arrives, I’ll tell everyone how much he looks like his departed father.

“I’ll kill whomever needs it. I’m not asking for their life story going back, Anoushka,” Tel said, using Delmar’s pet name for his young bride.

“Are you volunteering for the job?” Anouk asked mockingly. Her voice was scornful, but the tears spilled from her eyes.

She tensed at that familiarity. “Archfield.”

Tel blinked. “Pardon me?”

At the command in her voice, Tel stopped and looked at his queen. “Yes, my lady?”

“Fathering my prince on Delmar’s behalf.”

The torchlight cast her face in stark lines. To his surprise, her blue eyes filled with tears. “Why are you doing this?” Tel grinned fiercely and shrugged. “It’s all I’m good for, isn’t it?” Anouk was silent. She shifted her eyes to look beyond Tel, then back the way they had come. Finally she met his eyes again, still silent. Tel blew out a breath and pushed his hair off his brow, then winced when the movement tugged at the gash on his neck. “Because I fought for a long time to help Delmar build this country, and I’m not going to let anybody tear it apart while I live. Because keeping you alive was probably in one of the various vows I’ve sworn. Because I suspect you’ll be better at managing this,” and he gestured around them at the palace, meaning the country, “than Delmar ever could have been. Because of the baby.” 74 | UncagedBooks.com

“Anouk, no. That’s not what I…It doesn’t matter if you find a baby in a stable or in a backwater village or in a duchess’s chamber pot. I’ll proclaim his nose to be astonishingly like Delmar’s nose, and so will you.” “The people won’t believe that I—” Anouk had drifted a few paces ahead, but she spun to face the sound of oncoming footsteps. Tel leapt forward and put himself in front of Anouk. “Keep watch behind us,” he said. Two men rushed in from the darkness, the first brandishing a sword. There was scarcely room enough to swing it in the narrow hallway. Tel roared at the man and pushed closer instead of falling back. His opponent was surprised and off balance after his swing. Tel chopped down with his elbow on the man’s forearm, then yanked the sword from the man’s grasp by its blade and reversed it to grip the hilt. He put the sword through the man’s chest, just above the leather vest, while the farmer was still


| JULIA BYRD | trying to catch his balance. Anouk gave a shocked gasp, no less shocked than the farmer. Tel had no time to wonder what Anouk thought of his display of violence. His breathing was going ragged as the other attacker advanced. “Step away from her and I’ll let you live!” the second man shouted. He slashed with his weapon, a single-edged axe better suited to firewood than combat. “Who are you people?” Tel asked. He deflected the man’s swing and narrowed the gap between them. “We fight for freedom! Freedom for all of Pallav!” He brought the axe back for another chop. “Pallav,” Anouk breathed. A dark memory turned inside Tel like the bolt on an old lock. Negotiations held on the Pallavian border, standing behind Delmar in a tent on a cold night. The metallic snick of a crossbow. He shoved the memory aside. “Pallav was traded away like a bauble in a perfumed room without our consent. We demand the right to choose our—” Tel lunged forward and slashed the man’s throat, the rough edge of the sword dragging through his skin, and the man fell. “Holy mother of all saints, Tel,” Anouk swore. “He was talking.” “My arm tires,” he said. “And I hate discussing politics.” “Let me talk to the next one.” “For a minute, no more.” His swordplay had shifted over the years, but recently his preferred style was to sit by the fire and listen to embellished tales of old battles. Tel returned to his recollection of the long-ago night in Pallav. “I know who triggered that crossbow.” “You do? Who?” “A Pallavian. Today wasn’t the first time he shot at King Delmar.” The other occasion had been

one of Tel’s many failures. Anouk started to reply, but a new attacker entered the hallway. Tel wiped the blood from his right palm onto his coat and eyed the huge man. His weapon was an ugly two-handed broadsword, too large for the space. “Talk now, Anouk,” he muttered, raising his blade. “Pallavian,” Anouk cried out. “What do you want? Why do you kill your king?” The man lurched and swung wildly at Tel. “Not my king,” the big man rumbled, raising his arms for another blow. Tel stumbled back to give himself an extra second, but he needed to move within the range of that broadsword to have any chance against it. “Who would be your king? Why do you come here?” Anouk demanded. The broadsword descended heavily, and Tel shifted to his left. The man dragged the broadsword’s tip to track Tel’s movement, but the sword point connected with the stone wall and threw off sparks. “Aaarghh!” the man shouted in frustration, pulling the broadsword back to try again. “I came here to defile your bloody corpse, Gaige queen!” “All right, that’s rude,” Tel growled. He barreled in close to the big man. The Pallavian rebel surprised him by raising the broadsword vertically and slamming its fat pommel down onto Tel’s right wrist. Tel’s sword fell from his stunned grasp and crashed to the floor. His momentum carried him toward the man’s torso, and he used his left hand to pull a dagger from a sheath on the Pallavian’s belt. His opponent stepped back once, twice, then tripped on one of his dead fellows. Tel shoved forward and killed the man with his own dagger, one stab through the neck as they fell together. He rolled sideways and scrambled to his feet, clutching his right wrist to his chest. The hand was still numbed. Issue 10 | May 2017 |

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| SHORT STORY | “Bring that sword,” Tel gasped to Anouk, nodding at the weapon he’d dropped. “Diplomatic efforts have failed.” He was bleeding from a gash on his thigh that he didn’t remember receiving. Anouk didn’t look at the dead men as she stepped over them. “Tel, your wrist,” she said. “Is it broken?” “Doesn’t matter. Come on.” “Wait. We don’t live if you can’t fight. Let me see it.” Anouk dropped the torch and held up a hand to make him pause. Tel heaved a huge breath and leaned one shoulder against the wall. He allowed Anouk to tug his right wrist away from his chest and cradle his hand in her palms. All his fingers twitched when she encircled his wrist and squeezed. The rush of feeling returning made Tel long for the previous numbness. “It’s not broken,” he said. He flexed his fingers again and they moved more surely. “I see that.” Anouk tore another strip from her dress, then wrapped his wrist and the jagged slice in his palm. “But it’s not pretty. You should try fighting a little better, avoid some damage.” She tied off the bandage and smiled up at Tel. Relief washed through him. She wasn’t horrified by his violence, she wasn’t offended by his indelicate comments about an infant prince. “I’ll keep that in mind. Probably why Delmar put me out to pasture. You should have known me ten years ago,” he said, returning a skewed smile. Anouk supported his hand with both of hers, turning it to check the knotted fabric. “At this point I’m hoping I’ll still know you ten days from now.” “Yes.” Anouk bent her head and pressed a hard kiss to the back of his hand. Her lips touched only the silk wrap, but the orange-clove scent of her hair made Tel inhale sharply. She leaned down to retrieve the fallen sword, and when she straightened again, she 76 | UncagedBooks.com

avoided his eyes. “What do we do when we get to the stable?” Anouk asked. They left the pile of bodies behind and continued down the hallway. “We ride. We ride to your father’s manor. Then you put down this rebellion so you can return home.” The dim passageway grew wider, and daylight shone around the next intersection. “This leads to the kitchen. From there we’ll exit to the rear courtyard,” said Anouk. Tel stuck his head around the corner, but no sounds of fighting reached them. “Where is everyone?” he muttered. The kitchen was eerily quiet. A wood fire burned in the huge fireplace, and a steaming kettle hung on a hook over the flames. Tel held out the dagger to Anouk, and she exchanged it for the sword. He tested his grip on its hilt. His right hand was still weak, but it was good enough. The kitchen’s external door had been left open a fraction, and Tel peeked out into the walled courtyard, letting his eyes adjust to the sun. Empty. The stable was on the far side of the yard, and a double gate pierced the adjacent wall. Anouk leaned across him, peering out. “Anyone?” she asked. “No one. I don’t like it.” Tel threaded the sword blade beneath his belt so that it dangled from the crossguard. For a moment he desperately wished for his own sharp blade, well-balanced and familiar, in its scabbard. His mail, gloves, helm, and shield would be useful too. Might as well wish for a fast horse and ale while you’re at it. “I like it fine. We can sneak away,” Anouk said. “We’ll certainly try.” From a peg by the door Tel pulled a rough brown cloak and swirled it around Anouk. He lifted the hood over her blonde braid, letting his hands drift to her narrow shoulders for a moment. Swathed in the unremarkable wool, she looked young and grim. “Whatever happens, ride to your father’s house. No matter what. Do you under-


| JULIA BYRD | stand?” “I don’t know if I could get there alone.” Tel squeezed her shoulders and held her eyes. “I intend to come with you, but you can do it alone if you have to. Don’t make my life mean nothing, Anoushka. Ride, and live. Promise me.” She nodded. “Yes.” He released her shoulders and turned his face away. “The man who killed Delmar. I must tell you, my lady.” “Go on,” Anouk said slowly. Tel scraped at a line of drying blood on his cheek. “I remember him. There was an attempt on Delmar’s life several years ago. The surrender of Pallav was not done gracefully. I should have killed him then. He…escaped.” I tried, I failed, and now I pay. Anouk’s face went stern. “So correct that mistake today.” “I’m sorry. I intend to.” Tel flicked his eyes down to the dagger by her side. “Try not to stick yourself with that thing,” he said to ease her fierce expression. Anouk pursed her lips at him. “Such respect for your queen.” He grinned in response to her frown. “Survive, and I’ll teach you to fight.” “You have a strange sense of humor, Telhael Archfield.” Her mouth twitched, and she gripped the dagger more firmly. He shrugged. “This was always going to be a terrible day when it was just the bloody medal ceremony. It’s only declined slightly from my original estimation.”

approached the stable. Anouk waited while Tel saddled two horses, a pair of roan geldings. He held out a cupped hand, and Anouk put her left foot into it. Tel heaved her up as she swung her right leg over and gathered the reins. He led the second horse and followed Anouk toward the barred doors. The quiet was grating on his nerves. They heard nothing beyond the wall. But then, from within the palace, a rough scream cut through the air. “Open the gate, Archfield,” Anouk ordered, wheeling her horse around. “We’re leaving.” “Yes, my lady,” Tel assented. He hoisted the thick oak beam out of its brackets and dropped the bar unceremoniously onto the gravel. Then he pushed at one of the heavy doors. Blood ran down the outside of his thigh as the slash there reopened. The sound of hoarse cries came from the palace, much closer than before. “There they are!” A group of rebels poured through the back door into the courtyard. The first few men slowed and blinked in the sunlight, and Tel used the moment to leap onto his horse. “Go now!” he yelled at Anouk. “Ride!” He turned his horse and charged toward the Pallavian men. They were peasants with axes; he could hold the gate long enough for Anouk to get away. Tel slashed at the first clump of men, yanking at his reins when the animal balked. Anouk was saying something. She was still inside the courtyard. He heard his name, but her words were indistinct. “Anouk, ride! Or I’ll have your head myself. Go, damn it!” Tel shouted.

Anouk nudged him aside. “Let’s go.” She pulled the kitchen door open and crept out of the palace.

He heard hooves racing away. Tel glanced back, saw Anouk urge her horse to a gallop, and received a fresh cut to his calf as a consequence of his distraction. He freed his boot from the stirrup and kicked the man in the face.

Tel followed behind her, eyes scanning the gravel courtyard. They stayed to its shadowy edges as they

The fight closed in around him, and he welcomed it. Anouk would live, and Gaige would continue. Issue 10 | May 2017 |

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| SHORT STORY | Tel swung and hacked, turned his horse’s head and did it again. When the big beast took a brutal slice to its foreleg, he dismounted before the horse could collapse and crush him. Sweat stung his eyes and the blood on his palms made his grip treacherous, and Tel continued to fight. The gate came up behind his boot when Tel took another staggering step backward. Nowhere left to retreat. He bared his teeth and roared at the next man who came forward, and the rebel was startled. Tel lunged and gave the man a hole in his guts. The rush of rebels finally slowed. A dozen lay dead around Tel, and the wounded looked unwilling to continue. He spat blood on the ground. Then another man emerged from the stable on horseback. No. No one could be allowed to ride out after Anouk. Tel tugged at the door behind him, straining to pull it closed. He didn’t have the strength to lift the oak beam back into place. He put his back to the gate and faced the rider. The man on the horse carried something—a crossbow. It was him. The bowman. He had killed Delmar. He would have killed Anouk. “You!” Tel shouted. “You escaped me once before, in Pallav. I remember you.” His mind was a fog of blood and violence, and he had no breath for any more words. He raised his sword as the horse advanced at a plod. The man didn’t need speed. He had a crossbow, and he was cranking back the mechanism. “I remember you not at all, old man.” Tel considered rushing forward, but his legs were heavy and slow, and for the first time all day he had no further plan. The creaking sound of the bow under tension drained his mind of useful thought. Nothing to be done. Maybe Delmar would forgive him, maybe Anouk was far enough away. He sagged back against the door. The man raised the crossbow and aimed it at Tel’s chest. His sword drooped. Then the gate behind Tel was suddenly yanked 78 | UncagedBooks.com

open, and he fell and collapsed flat on his back. The crossbow hissed out, and the bowman cursed. The quarrel flew through the opening and disappeared. Tel was dazed, staring up at the cloudless sky, when a woman in a brown cloak emerged from behind the door and stood over him. He blinked, and the figure resolved as Anouk. “On your feet,” she commanded. “You’re supposed to be gone.” Tel could no more rise than he could fly at that moment. “The bowman. He just fired his only remaining bolt.” That news gave Tel the energy to rise. He patted around in the grass and grasped his sword, then rolled to one side and struggled to his feet with a curse. In the courtyard, the man tossed aside his useless bow as Tel reentered. He slid from his horse and drew his sword. “Your king is dead. We hold the palace. Lay down your weapon, surrender your queen to me, and I will see that she is executed with honor.” Tel attacked. The Pallavian leapt to meet him, and Tel felt the ache in his arms turn to a tremor. He parried once, twice, and understood that he was outmatched. He was injured and winded, and the younger man was neither. Tel thought of Anouk watching. She should not have come back. He bared his teeth and pushed forward, struck low and opened a red line on the man’s unprotected left flank. His opponent roared and twisted away. Tel glimpsed a small brown shadow creeping around the far side of the horse. What is she doing? Something lay there in the gravel. Tel circled to distract the Pallavian. When the rebel swung again, his expression was angry. He hacked at Tel’s defense until Tel was breathless and off balance. Then the man turned one shoulder and kicked out at Tel’s left knee. He fell to the ground and bit off a scream at the pain,


scrabbling backward desperately. Tel stared up at the man along the length of his sword. I’m sorry, Anouk. But then the Pallavian’s attention shifted from Tel’s prostrate form. His eyes grew wide, and the sword point wavered. Tel dared to crane his neck to see the queen standing behind him holding a crossbow. “You murderous traitor,” Anouk said in a low voice. “You killed my husband, you tried to kill me, and you shot at my favorite knight.” “No, wait, I—” The queen triggered the bow and jerked with the force of its recoil. The bolt sank home with a thwunk, and the man fell. “Anouk,” Tel gasped. He collapsed onto his back. “You shot him with his own bow.” “He intended that quarrel for you. But he left it in the grass for me to find. Now rise,” Anouk said. “More rebels will be coming.” “You should have ridden away.” “Yes, well, you were supposed to come with me. Now get up.” Anouk extended her hand and grasped his wrist, and Tel was levered to sit up. He couldn’t think, could scarcely breathe, and was bleeding from a dozen wounds. “Please go, Anouk. You promised me. I can’t ride, I’ll slow you down.”

Anouk reached down and thrust her fingers into his hair, forcing him to look up. “Archfield. If you won’t stand, then kneel.” Tel groaned, and Anouk shook his head roughly. Finally he pushed her hand away and folded his legs under. He knelt in front of her for the second time that day, but the ache in his knees was no longer on his mind.

| JULIA BYRD | The queen leaned forward and tore the silver starburst from his coat, then tossed it away. “That’s a medal for useless old men. I need you now, Telhael. We are going to ride and survive. Are you listening?” “You took back my medal?” Tel asked stupidly. He rubbed a hand across his face and it came away bloody. “It didn’t suit you. Arise, Sir Telhael of Archfield. If we live and retake the palace, maybe I’ll make you a duke again someday. Maybe you’ll teach me to fight, and we’ll raise Delmar’s heir. But for now we must go.” Tel rose slowly to his feet. “Yes, my lady.” He was still in a daze as Anouk led her horse closer. She mounted the horse and extended her hand to him, and Tel heaved himself up behind her. “I’ll take the medal without a ceremony next time, please.”

Julia: I live and write in Brooklyn, New York, with my handsome dog and scruffy husband, although a piece of my heart is still in my native Illinois. I tell people I enjoy books, wine, dogs, trees, history, and architecture as plausible cover for my secret double life.

julia-byrd.com Issue 10 | May 2017 |

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fang-FREAKIN-tastic reviews

feature author

welcomes

Christian J. Alecci


| FANG-FREAKIN-TASTIC FEATURE AUTHOR |

Christian Jeremy Alecci resides in Bergen County, NJ. Christian splits his time between running a start up publishing company CFPublishing LLC, and creating worlds inside his brain. Which feeds into his love and passion of writing, also spending time with his family and friends and traveling. He enjoys all things macabre, and finds inspiration from his favorite author Stephen King as well as high fantasy novels. Fun Fact: CJ thinks he would be the first victim in the horror movie. Hopefully his writing is better than his chance of survival.

christianalecci.com

Enjoy an excerpt from Suburbia Suburbia Christian J. Alecci Dystopian/Horror On Sun Drop Court, everyone’s lawn is perfectly manicured and emerald green; their fences painted white. Anyone can see from the outside what a perfect Suburbia it is. Each neighbor waves and brilliantly smiles as they pass each other by...but what is hiding behind their closed doors? What secrets are buried so deep that some would kill to keep them covered? A deceased resident’s journal has arisen from 1995 and now, almost ten years later, that journal coincides with modern-day horrors that are destroying the once ideal Suburbia. Paint on your smile and come visit Sun Drop Court...but once you know its secrets, you will be lucky if you are ever allowed to leave. Excerpt: Maxine Johnson’s Personal Diary. Given to her therapist for safe keeping

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| CHRISTIAN J. ALECCI | Entry 1 of 9 Spring 1995 Dear Diary, Today, I made my first key lime pie. I digress. I offer you an apology, dear diary. I know this is the first entry I have made in years. Since… well… since I attended school. A lifetime has passed since college parties and scholar boys. Since badly rolled joints and experimental drugs. A lifetime has passed. I don’t even know if i’m the same anymore. I do know. I’m not… Can one be aware of something that they are completely unaware of. I don’t know if thats a question or a statement. A cry out or an inner thought. I didn’t make a single entry when I was living in the country. It would seem when Larry would leave to work in the morning my days would be so filled, I just didn’t have time to journal. There were friends at every corner, hikes to take, fields to graze, listen to Van Halen and Genesis. Drink. Smoke. Away. But now that we have gone suburban I find I have not only the time to restart my writings, but a need to be able to communicate with something tangible. Something I can literally put my hands on and know is real. We’ve only been living on Sun Drop Court for many years now. But…. suburbia isn’t as pretty as it used to be. I’ve begun…. I’ve begun… Unable to decipher the light from the shadows. The creatures that are friendly from the phantoms in the dark. It’s the people around who are these creatures - and I can no longer tell the angels from the demons. For, I never made a key lime pie before. It seemed an appropriate choice now that the snow is melting. Buds of spring are popping up in our garden. I wish it could be because of mother nature and

her will. But here on Sun Drop Court, the gardeners are in before mother nature has had her chance to run her course. They make the lawns as we want them and not as they should be. The flowers seem an almost unnatural color compared to the garden I kept in our country side home. Even if there were still herbs in my garden I wouldn’t use them with the amount of spray they use. There was something soothing in gardening and rewarding using your own pumpkins for carving on Halloween, or cilantro to graze the top of a meal. Yet another pleasure that has been taken from me. Yet another joy gone. I smile. Oh, I make sure I smile. But it’s cracking. I feel it cracking. Little boxes. Colorful boxes. Intricate boxes. Blue box. Yellow box. Green box. All with slate roofs and wrap around porches. Boxes spread out as far as the eye can see. Of a modern colonial style shooting up right next to each other. White picket fences break emerald green yards that reach out on perfect acre plots. A gazebo here. A pool there. The occasional tennis court. All the entrances to our homes had white gates covered in various colors that matched the houses. Oh yes. In the winter our town puts up matching lights thats people drive from miles around to see and awe pathetically at, we are the houses all the parents make their kids go trick or treating at. Just to get a glimpse inside. Just a whisper of suburban life. A peek at what they believe to be perfection. Perfect. A word around here you are expected to live up to. Perfect. A word that should of never been introduced into the english language. The grass is always greener. Why is that, dear diary? How is the grass always greener? Someone else is always in better shape than you. Has better hair than you. Drives a better car. A more intelligent child. A better hostess. Someone else. Always someone else. April Mayfair says it’s not God’s will for us to judge and envy others. But how hard it is not to look upon Athena Rose without turning green. After two children - one a teenager one a child Issue 10 | May 2017 |

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| FANG-FREAKIN-TASTIC FEATURE AUTHOR | and no work done - she has maintained a perfect figure. She runs daily, practices yoga in her backyard - even finds time to train for charity races she organizes. All the while - never missing a PTA meeting, being sick for a book club tea, or failing to host a single one of her parties. There is an attractiveness in consistency. I’ve never seen a golden strand of her hair out of place. A stain on her dress. A tear in her stockings. I swear the models in the magazines of Homes and Garden are trying to look like Athena Rose. She is that someone else. She is the greener grass. I do not hate her… I envy her. I can admit that. It’s not a hateful envy… it’s a glow that I wish I knew how to emanate. Being near her just creates warmth. It amazes me though. Truly amazes me. As the good witch of the east had a wicked sister deep in the west. Athena Rose has such a relative. A sister who has allowed me not to dislike Athena’s perfection, but appreciate it. For kindness and warmth is so much better than… well… Cynthia Wolf-Thorne might of well of been green. She storms Sun Drop Court on her flying broom in the form of an ever new Mercedes. As if coming down from Thorne Hall was a blessing upon us all. Her son Dax seems sweet enough and always waves when he comes to pick up Felicia for their dates. The little boy reminds me of a golden retriever - all wide eyed and blonde. Though dates is a loose term as they are both children. All of us were some what sweet when we were in our innocence. Not my child. My daughter Felicia is prettier at her age than I have ever been. I fear when she hits puberty she’ll become more of a monster. Her hair is fire red and her eyes burn. I see the way her amber eyes work… I see her watching… her eyes working the room… that calculated little… I digress. Today I made my first key lime pie. Even Captain Thorne seems a decent enough fellow during social affairs. Larry might work endless weeks for him at the power plant but The Captain returns this hardship with building us a 84 | UncagedBooks.com

pool, updating appliances, even a new car. But all Cynthia seems to do is cast negativity and awfulness wherever she stalks. When Athena told me she was related to that wench, heavens to betsey - i gasped. How could two women of such different natures share blood is beyond me. Well - if you can believe it - she came to my house last week uncalled. The rains of spring were trickling down outside, making music as it bounced off my blue gazebo. A gazebo I built, dear diary, something I was actually allowed to do… but the workers had to finish it once I became close to birthing… that thing. Oh dear diary, how I love the spring. My garden’s hydrangeas just beginning to bloom. The smells of morning dew. Watching a silver winter melt into a wonderful spring. But even Cynthia can ruin that. On a wet day she decided to grace my door front with her presence. She waved a designer umbrella around like a weapon as she stood proudly on my porch. I asked her if she could believe it was spring already she replied, “I can because I have a calendar and eyes.” Without being asking in she pushed past me. Stalking around my home freely, she then had the audacity to announce that she didn’t want her son Dax hanging around the ‘likes’ of my Felicia. My word. She even threatened to have us all sent back to ‘where we found you’ if their play dates didn’t end. I had all these things I wanted to say to Cynthia. All these emotions and feelings bottled up inside. As tears came to my eyes she just stood there with that smug stare while I mumbled pathetically. Apologizes I knew I didn’t owe to her. She poked a long nail into my stomach before leaving and warned me again. “You and your daughter are no longer allowed at any social events, I do not want to see you in a dress. Or your daughter done up. Find a social life somewhere else for your life on the court is over.” Cynthia swung her mane of highlighted hair around and sniffed at the air before leaving. Exclaiming, “It smells awful in here…. did you try


and bake? Horrid.’ Her Gucci umbrella exploded open and she proudly strutted off. Oh when she left I was so angry. All the things I wanted to say spilling out as I smashed my fists into the wall. All these words I couldn’t form coming out as my skin broke. As the blows became stronger and stronger. The blood doesn’t bother me. Neither do the bruises. It feels good to feel. It feels good to be alive for a moment. There is cause and effect. You have to light the candle… it doesn’t just burn. The flicker of flame doesn’t just catch on the curtain. It is left unattended. Unwatched. In the loneliness… the house burns down to nothing. Today I made my first key lime pie. I digress, dear diary, I digress. Digression. Larry works late these days and no matter the attempts at lingerie I make… he doesn’t seem to want to make love to me anymore. He sleeps on the couch most nights after giving me my tea and leaves before I rise for the day. Always bringing me tea before bed, watches at the door with this sad look before retreating downstairs. Maybe he’s seeking out love elsewhere. I will try harder for without him I’d be all alone. That is my wifely duty. He needs to want to want me. He needs to want to need me. He needs to want and need and want. Oh yes, of course there is my daughter. That…. creature. Felicia might be only be a child, but she seems to know what I’m thinking - so I keep her away from me. Her little amber eyes haunt me wherever I go in the house. Why does she seem to know when I am sad? Why is she always watching? What does she want from me? Things were better before I had her. Felicia was both conceived and born on the court, a product of Suburbia the little creature was. I can’t remember making her, as if the act that caused the thing is something I have completely blocked from memory. Taking care of Larry is hard enough, but… she always wants too much from me. Its

| CHRISTIAN J. ALECCI | exhausting. She’s aging me. Her fault. It’s her fault. I’ve taken to locking her in her room whenever she’s not at school and Larry is at work. It’s easier that way. We all need some quiet. There just doesn’t seem to be any time to think here in Suburbia. Everything is so loud. Everything is so loud. Can’t you hear the screams? I tossed the key lime pie in the trash. I began from scratch… that’s all we can do right? April has tried to relieve my stress with prayers - but… why is no one up there listening to me? Returning my pleas? I wish I had something I believed in. The later Larry comes from work and the more that little creature watches me from afar - I feel myself slipping. I’m scared of the thoughts that cross my mind. I’m afraid of where they might lead me. But I have you, right dear diary? and together we’ll make sure I don’t crack. Together you will help me find myself before I’m completely lost. Before it’s too late. Before I pull some trigger I cannot return from. Spring 2000 April Mayfair stood on her perfectly maintained porch twisting the diamond cross that was always around her neck. Punctuality is a virtue - and so far the McArthur family was not fairing so well. The moving trucks were late and frankly… staring at the beige and gray colonial was giving April neurosis. The porch needed work, the window frames painting, and major construction needed to go into that kitchen to bring it up to date. The house stood out on the street, it was the only empty one and each crack and each slouched window pane made April want to march over there and fix it. April inhaled heavily and exhaled. Not her church not her pews. It helped that the town realtor was a gossip. Cynthia Wolf-Thorne enjoyed talking about other people negatively as much as she enjoyed casting herself in a positive light. The minute the McArIssue 10 | May 2017 |

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| FANG-FREAKIN-TASTIC FEATURE AUTHOR | thur family signed the papers on the old Johnson residence all of Sun Drop Court knew the details. Probably the entire town as Cynthia fed on people bring her offerings of gossip up to Thorne Hall. The Captain Thorne had hired a new man for his forces up at the power plant. Picked this young family from a blue collared neighborhood in the city - and though Cynthia didn’t say it at tea - he obviously offered them one undeniable check as well. No one had taken Larry Johnson’s executive place in years and it looked like he finally found a man to fill the spot. They obviously skipped the sorted history of the Johnson house and simply beautifully offered them a beautiful (figurative) colonial on a beautiful (relative) suburban street. How many family have they brought in now? April couldn’t count. The streets of their town were littered with the Captain’s ‘workers’. People who were moved from lower class neighborhoods or cheap country trailers… to here… to a place April and her husband had worked to be able to fit into. Suburbia. The picture of perfection. Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: I have never been so glad to not live in a neighborhood featured in one of my books before in my life. What appears idyllic on the outside in Suburbia is most definitely disgusting and rotten on the inside. It makes you wonder what is really behind the curtains in some of the more affluent neighborhoods, or even your own neighborhood for that matter, as madness isn’t decided by income level. Suburbia is one of those books that stays with you. Once you start reading, you feel like you absolutely cannot wait to figure out the mystery of just what the hell is going on. You know it’s something sinister, but not to what extent or who is playing what parts. I’ll admit, I didn’t clean my house or make dinner for the two days it took me to read it. 86 | UncagedBooks.com

The story is convoluted in a way that isn’t even the slightest bit confusing. In many books, the author tries to mix things up so much so you don’t solve the mystery too soon and it causes confusion. This is more of a clear convolution where you can see where everything connects just the way it should without getting more details than necessary to continue the story and keep you wanting more. Suburbia has some fairly disturbing scenes which may not be suitable for all readers. Please keep that in mind. This book is really well written and put together. In some ways it reminds me of the neighborhood in Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross’s book, Mother, which I also adored. I would highly recommend Suburbia to anyone looking for a good read with lots of twists and plenty of secrets just waiting to be uncovered.

Avon The Storms of Change Christian J. Alecci Fantasy/Dystopian Avon’s golden era falls as an all-powerful Judge and his bloodline infest the land, making way for the rise of his perverse world. Those who remain in his oppressive society attempt a dance that no one knows the steps for, desperately hoping to resurrect their once glorious world. Meanwhile, a dangerous force is busy invoking powers that threaten to bring a madness that will cover the land in darkness and snuff light out forever. Welcome to Avon.


| CHRISTIAN J. ALECCI | Hush Christian Alecci YA/Horror One two three. One two three. Into darkness venture with me.

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New Releases April Release Dates - A Selection

May 2

May 16

Cold Reign by Faith Hunter Moon Shimmers by Yasmine Galenorn A Life Removed by Jason Parent Arise by Emma L. Adams A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas Into the Water by Paula Hawkins The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan Girl Out of Water by Laura Silverman The Stars Are Fire by Anita Shreve Joy Ride by Lauren Blakely Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark T. Sullivan Dreamfall by Amy Plum The Leavers by Lisa Ko The Boy on the Bridge by M.R. Carey Crimes Against a Book Club by Kathy Cooperman

Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich Thick as Thieves by Megan Whalen Turner The Crown’s Fate by Evelyn Skye The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord Seeker by Veronica Rossi It’s Always the Husband by Michele Campbell Evensong by Kate Southwood

May 9 Deadmen Walking by Sherrilyn Kenyon Blood Kissed by Keri Arthur Until Sage by Aurora Rose Reynolds Carry On by Rainbow Rowel Sons of Ares by Pierce Brownn

May 23 Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare Buns by Alice Clayton Stand by A.L. Jackson Crazy House by James Patterson

May 30 White Hot by Ilona Andrews Shadow Reaper by Christine Feehan Destroyer by Shannon Mayer When It’s Real by Erin Watt One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus Royal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts Come Sundown by Nora Roberts Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King

Publishers and authors: If you would like a new release in these lists, please email me at UncagedBooks@gmail.com

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Uncaged Reviews The Unlikeable Demon Hunter Deborah Wilde Urban Fantasy

The age-old story of what happens when a foul-mouthed, romance impaired heroine with no edit button and a predilection for hot sex is faced with her worst nightmare–a purpose. Ari Katz is intelligent, driven, and will make an excellent demon hunter once initiated into the Brotherhood of David. However, this book is about his twin Nava: a smart-ass, self-cultivated hot mess, who is thrilled her brother is stuck with all the chosen one crap. When Nava half-drunkenly interrupts Ari’s induction ceremony, she expects to be chastised. What she doesn’t expect is to take her brother’s place among the–until now–all-male demon hunters. Even worse? Her infuriating leader is former rock star Rohan Mitra. Too bad Rohan’s exactly what Nava’s always wanted: the perfect bad boy fling with no strings attached, because he may also be the one to bring down her carefully erected emotional shields. That’s as dangerous as all the evil fiends vying for the bragging rights of killing the only female ever chosen for Demon Club. Odds of survival: eh. Odds of having a very good time with Rohan before she bites it: much better.

Uncaged Review: This is a fun book, and a great start to a new series, and fits right under the Urban Fantasy landscape comfortably. I loved Nava’s wit, humor and sarcasm as she’s thrown into a world where she always believed her fraternal twin brother belonged in, but not her. When a ritual to initiate someone into the Brotherhood fails for her brother and chooses her instead, Nava is tossed into the world of the demon hunters, or Rasha. Something her brother has been working for his whole life. Now Rasha will need all the training she can get since she’s the first female Rasha, and will have a huge marker on her head to the demon world. The cast of characters are terrific, the group of Rasha that takes her, begrudgingly, under their wings to train, you will rally behind. The action sequences are

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terrific and the humor will have you smiling. Nava is the underdog you will cheer on – and I’ll definitely be reading book two, that will be out in June. Reviewed by Cyrene

Uncaged Ratings: Adult Violence, sex, language

Stained Kayla Krantz Thriller/Murder Blackouts have always been Melissa’s problem, but now she has a new one. People are missing, and she isn’t entirely convinced she’s not responsible.

Uncaged Review: A very short story telling you the horrible nightmare of a young girl called Mel who is being plagued by sleepwalking and dreams of blood filled nightmares. She is desprate to get to the bottom of whats going on.Then she learns the shocking truth that a young girl around her age has gone missing .Will she be next? A very short read but its very action packed and you jump. Right into the story from the first page. Reviewed by Jennifer

Uncaged Ratings: Adult Violence, murder


The Boy Inside Ross Greenwood Crime Suspense How can you make the right decisions if everything you’ve been told is a lie? With absent parents and broken friends, twenty-one year old Ben is making choices, which are ruining his life. In jail, again, he and his cellmate, Jake, take a hostage in a futile gesture against a system they can’t control. This powerful, beautifully written novel gives a vivid and realistic picture of those we send to prison. Who would you rely on if you were locked up? Do we ask the most from the ones who have the least?

Uncaged Review: Ben one day gets told some bad news at a football game as a child. Then shortly after no time passes at all his Dad dies of cancer. Ben gets in with the wrong people and shortly begins a life of crime. Shoplifting and drug’s he goes out with a girl who is money mad and they have a child together. Ben spends alot of time in prison. I really enjoyed this story as it focused on the things people do to land in prison. Which was interesting to learn about and read. In this book there’s some characters that are mentioned in Ross Greenwood’s first book. Lazy Blood. I really can’t wait to to read what Ross brings out next. As this was a fabulous read. Reviewed by Jennifer

Uncaged Ratings: Adult

Violence, drugs, self-harm, cancer

Rising for Autumn Katherine McIntyre Paranormal Romance Crisis and danger have become second nature for Alanna Carrington. After all, as the boss of the Philadelphia Coven, she’s responsible for upholding the laws amongst the supernatural. Which means when the Order of the Serpent rears its ugly head, this time with the most powerful necromancer this city’s ever seen, she’s the one person who can keep Philly safe. Ex-Order djinn and now ally, Samuel Karim, happens to be the best-suited guy to help. Except he’s also the first man who’s stoked her interest in far too long, and ever since she commandeered the lamp he’s tethered to for safekeeping, he also hates her guts. As the Order gathers the necromancers of her city and sparks a dangerous alliance, she finds herself working with Samuel Karim more and more. Hatred turns to passion, and when he exhibits a strength and compassion that breaks through her ironclad defenses, she finds herself falling deeper despite the complications between them. Yet with her city under siege and their lives on the line, the sharp desire between them erupts into the temptation to break their own rules, before the Order of the Serpent robs them of the chance permanently.

Uncaged Review: The third book in this series centers on the leader of the Philadelphia Coven – Alanna, and Sam, the djinn that was saved from the Order along with Liam. This book is not overly long and the author uses the space to her best advantage. This time, necromancers are bringing the dead back making an army, with their mission to take over the city. And the one leading the pack, is a powerful woman from the Order, who killed Sam’s wife many years ago. The stakes are high, but this time Alanna must use all her resources to bring down a powerful necromancer and the army she’s amassing.

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Uncaged Reviews This one is a nice addition to this series. High action, steamy passion and it brings back the characters from previous books including Conor, Brenna, Jev and Liam. We also meet a new character in Dante, a mercenary necromancer that sides with the Coven. You could read this as a standalone, but you wouldn’t get the information on the Order of the Serpent, and the back story on some characters that would give this book and series the full depth. And they are worth the read. My favorite will probably always be the second book in the series, Scrying for Summer – because Liam and Jev are two of my favorite characters, but this one is no slouch. Reviewed by Cyrene

Uncaged Ratings: Adult Sex, violence, language

The Serial Dater’s Shopping List Morgen Dailey Romantic Comedy

Right Except For, Mr Not Bad, Mr Oh My Goodness and Mr Oh So Very Wrong. Follow the ups (there are a few) and downs (there are many) of the dating process and intertwined with her experiences, get to know her colleague and family, including her niece Lola who, apart from being an amazing storyteller, can eat ambidextrously whilst wearing a Princess glove puppet on her right hand, and Baby, William’s non-toohealthy African Grey parrot. Uncaged Review: A rather quirky read into the life of internet dating and speed dating. Giving a whole new meaning to the word blind date. Meet Izzy who has been giving the task of making a list of to do’s and what not to do when you are thinking of setting up a profile for online dating. Or just going on a date in general. A perfect romance read for any lovers of chick lit books or films. It’s a amusing read about Izzy and her 31 dates in 31 days. With a lovely ending ahh bless her. Reviewed by Jennifer.

31 dates in 31 days – what could possibly go wrong? Isobel MacFarlane is a recentlyturned-40 journalist who usually writes a technology column for a newspaper based in Northampton, England, but her somewhat-intimidating boss, William, has set her the task of meeting 31 men, via a local internet dating site, all within a month. Having an active, though fruitless, social life with her friend and ‘Health & Beauty’ colleague Donna, she knows what she wants in a man, so creates a shopping list of dos and don’ts, and starts ticking them off as she meets Mr Could Be

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Uncaged Ratings: Adult No major warnings Dark Love T.L. Clark Erotica/BDSM Jonathan (our gorgeous Submissive) has his attention diverted by another but it leaves him conflicted and confused. Can he turn away from the only kind of love he has ever known, to explore new avenues? Can he like vanilla?


Uncaged Review: John had a horrible upbringing in life it wasn’t until he started working for a powerful woman called Mel that John felt like he had a place in life. By day he works for his boss like normal and at night it’s a whole other ball game. Whips and handcuffs come out to play and everything is good until John looks at another woman who works at the office. Much to his mistress’ annoyance. This is a book that explores a dom/sub relationship. But I think it’s quite graphic in some of the sexual activity. There’s even a point where John’s mistress goes overboard with her actions despite John using his safe word. This may be a little upseting to some readers. The basis of the storyline has a positive message that even though boundaries are pushed to the limit in this story love does indeed conquer all. Reviewed by Jennifer

Uncaged Ratings: Adult

Sex, BDSM, language, domestic violence

The Red Room Bruno Carlos Santos Horror Shorts This collection of gruesome tales from Brazilian author Bruno Carlos Santos will keep you looking over your shoulder. It contains five tales of blood and murder, of the supernatural and the saturnine which may just keep you up at night -- in more ways than one.

Uncaged Review: A collection of short horror stories that covers everything from vampires to serial killers. In a way as you are reading the scary tales some of the characters have a connection with each other as you progress with the book. I really enjoyed all the stories in this book so i can’t pick a favorite. I think this author watches to many episodes of the cult show Supernatural and that’s where he got some idea’s for this book. But I think we are all guilty of watching that show too much. I do hope this horror book isn’t just a one off by him. Reviewed by Jennifer

Uncaged Ratings: Adult

Sex, gruesome violence, language, domestic violence

Wanions of the Wicked Romarin Demetri Paranormal A wanion is an oath, a wish, a promise, or a vendetta, and in the third installment of the Supernatural London Underground, London’s favorite group of supernatural misfits are forced to come to terms with theirs. The chance to free London from supernatural suppression was never a choice for Romarin Demetri, or for her friends and housemates, who shared a horror she has only heard about in a few unguarded moments. When an elite group of assassins is contracted to thwart their plans of liberating people from another experimental laboratory, their ultimate goal is forcibly stalled— allowing time for pleasant distractions, other worldly experiences,

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Uncaged Reviews and situations that can’t help but make them feel human. Now that her friends finally have to face their horrible pasts, Romarin finds herself willingly walking into an insidious trap that plays out her own worst fears. Uncaged Review: A few months ago I read the first two books in this series, The Supernatural London Underground. This third book takes it a step into the dark side, and gives you a few twists you don’t see coming. This is my favorite book of the series so far. Now we know the characters, and we learn even more about them in this book. The book does flip from 1st person narrative to 3rd person, but for some reason it works and I’m never confused. This book definitely ups the ante, and I was hooked – specially at the 45% spot (yes, I’m on a Kindle). There are some new questions left unanswered, new betrayals, new twists, new allies and losses. And I hope it continues. I would not recommend you read this as a standalone, you could, but you won’t get the impact of this series without starting with the first two books, and I don’t think it would be fair to the series. Recommended paranormal series. Reviewed by Cyrene.

Uncaged Ratings: Adult

Violence, some language, sexual situations

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Poppies for Christmas Stacy Renée Keywell Holidays/Bullying Popular DJ Dexx finds himself positively smitten by the precociously pristine Poppy Paris. Too bad she’s already taken by an older boy, Declan Davies, a beautiful model with a thriving career, and a perfect family. By a dreamful stroke of chance, Dexx finds himself invited to spend Christmas at the Davies home by a gorgeous girl, granting him the opportunity to pursue the precious Poppy. But in his quest to win her over, he unlocks a world of imperfection and insecurity, where people are picked on for their disabilities, speech, appearance, and eccentricities. For Poppy and her friends, love trumps labels, and everyone deserves a brave friend to stand by their side. What gifts will Dexx discover this Christmas? Will he ultimately find true love, or will he discover something even greater? Uncaged Review: A group of teenagers who are friends and are desperately trying to fit in with the world go to a local Teen club night Where there’s a local DJ that’s spinning for the night. One of the girl’s has a crush on him and asks one of her friends to find out if he likes her. DJ Dex does like one of the girl’s but it’s one of the girl’s who has a boyfriend and he is also a model. Dex decides to do a little snooping on Poppie and her boyfriend. He even goes asfar as to try and friend the models sister. This is a good book for Teen reader’s as it follows a group of teenagers who are going through problems and it even covers the themes of Bullying and Autism. The author Of this book even helps with the charity mentioned in this book which is called Love without Labels. Reviewed by Jennifer


Uncaged Ratings: Young Adult Bullying, autism

Rising

Brian Rella Suspense/Horror

From the scorched wastelands of the Second Death a menacing demon overlord rises with the help of a teenage girl. Trapped in an abusive home Jessie is seduced by the overlord’s power and unleashes his demon servant, Arraziel, to take revenge on her tormentors. Now corrupt by the dark overlord and with the power of Arraziel at her command Jessie begins a spellbinding journey down a path of black magic and evil. Uncaged Review: This is a short prequel novella that introduces you to the main characters for The Second Death series. In this series, the Fallen are demons that are locked away in a realm, with Watchers keeping watch over the books that can set them free. Jessie, a 14 yr. old girl, whose family is in a downward spiral since the death of her father, can see no way out of a future step family who are abusive and freeloaders. When Jessie meets Olga, and her book store and finds the book Arraziel…things begin to change for Jessie. I liked the originality and the storyline, and this gives you a good insight of what the story will be. Some things could be better fleshed out, but overall it’s a good prequel. Reviewed by Cyrene

Uncaged Ratings: Adult Horror/Violence

Beautiful Darkness

Victoria Zak Historical/Paranormal

Step into the sexy world of the Fae Vampire sisters from the Scottish Highlands.... The Highlands are full of magic and fae trickery. Adaira, Leana, and Masie Keith know this all too well. Destined to change their fate, but unprepared for the truth, their journey begins as the sisters grow accustomed to their dark sides—forever beautiful—forever blood drinkers—forever Baobhan sith. Accused of murdering their laird’s son, Masie and her sisters flee their home. Masie is immediately conflicted, especially after she’s captured by Clan Gunn and falls in love with the laird’s brother. Her true identity must remain a secret. For if she tells her Highlander who and what she really is, she could be burned as a witch. And Masie would never endanger her beloved sisters. Uncaged Review: This book was intriguing to me, to see how the author was going to combine paranormal with historical – and a highlander at that. Three sisters, who have witnessed the abuse of their mother for years by their ruthless father, try to change their fates by seeing if the tales were true of the Fairy Queen. For their wishes to come true, they must leave their home and go with the Queen. They become something they never wanted – vampires. The youngest, Masie is at the heart of this book. This may seem way out there, but the author does a good job with it, and pulls it off. When the girls are seen on a battlefield and taken hostage by the a rival clan, we meet Kerr, a warrior in the Gunn Issue 9 | April 2017 |

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Uncaged Reviews Clan, who begins to fall for Masie, even though he believes they are spies.

video game, Dying Light – with the parkour and keeping high above the infected.

It’s a fast paced story, and quite different from other paranormal/historical books I’ve read. The characters are likeable and you can get attached to them easily. My biggest rant is it ended on a pretty major cliffhanger. Reviewed by Cyrene

The story stopped on a cliffhanger of sorts, although it was an interesting take on this genre, and it didn’t slow down and even though the first books are always the backstory books, the author does a nice job keeping a nice pace. Reviewed by Cyrene

Uncaged Ratings: Adult Sex, violence

Vertical City, Book One George S. Mahaffey Jr. Dystopian/Horror

In the midst of a global pandemic, a group of evacuees are marooned atop a skyscraper in a major city after a terrible helicopter crash. Abandoning the streets to millions of hungry infected, the survivors seal off the structure at the 10th floor and string wires between it and other buildings to avoid being eaten alive by the hordes rampaging below. But dwindling supplies force those still alive to take greater risks as they struggle to survive hundreds of feet off the ground.

Uncaged Review: This series is a group of shorter reads in the zombie genre, fast paced and action packed in a short amount of time. The beginning of the book, is the beginning of the apocalypse and Wyatt is just a child, and his parents are getting them out to safety in a helicopter, when the copter crashes, losing his mother. Fast forward 16 yrs., and Wyatt and the community live in high rises in the city, with elevator cables networked between the buildings that is utilized by the Jumpers – who go on ops to retrieve items for the community. The infected, known as Dubs, have taken over the Flatlands, and the survivors live up high. The story reminds me a bit of the 96 | UncagedBooks.com

Uncaged Ratings: Adult Violence

The Hangman’s Hitch

Donna Maria McCarthy Gothic Thriller/Horror The Hangman’s Hitch… The inn at the end of your world. Where satanic practice is the order and your soul required to pay for your stay…

Uncaged Review: Meet Sir Freddy a well to do sort of fellow finds himself at the Hangman’s Hitch. A rather odd sort of Inn filled with all sorts of crooks. One in particular called Joseph Black who takes it upon himself to take Sir Freddy under his wing and show him his way of living including stealing and murder. I fell in love with this book from the first page and loved the relationship between Joseph Black and Sir Freddy. There were times throughout the book where I either felt sorry or hated one or both of them at some point. This book had such a great storyline and is set in the 18th century where even well to do gentlemen can do wrong. A dark gothic tale.Reviewed by Jennifer


Uncaged Ratings: Adult Violence, murder

Vestiges of Valor

Kathryn Le Veque Medieval Romance/Highlander 1170 A.D. - His name is Valor. Sir Valor “Val” de Nerra is one of Henry II’s most trusted knights. As the Itinerant Justice of East Hampshire, Val’s word is law. A fair and just man, and a very handsome one, he enjoys a good deal of attention and respect. His life is a prestigious and wealthy one until he faces a decision one day that will change the course of his life. Val must order the execution of his love’s brother. Val has adored Lady Vesper since the moment they met. As he strives to win her back, the king orders Val to participate in an event that will shock the country for years to come - the assassination of Archbishop Thomas Becket. Will he obey? Or will he refuse? From a man who had enjoyed the wealth, love, and admiration of all to a man who falls swiftly from grace, be part of Val and Vesper’s journey as Val struggles to regain what he lost and comes to understand what is truly important in life in this novel of astonishing emotion, passion, and pain.

Uncaged Review: The medieval worlds that are created by Kathryn Le Veque, are so mesmerizing and addicting, that you’d leave your own modern world of technology to travel to her worlds. This book is full of intrigue and “sitting on the edge of your seat” suspense. This is a story of love, betrayal, suspense, loyalty and forgiveness. And Kathryn weaves the story so well, that it all intertwines seamlessly. Our hero and heroine’s trials will break your heart, and sew

it right back up again. The story of Archbishop Thomas Becket and his conflict with the King and subsequent murder by the King’s followers, is actually a true story, and this bit of real world is brought into this story and stays consistent with both the fiction and the non-fiction. Medieval historical romances just don’t get any better than this. Reviewed by Cyrene

Uncaged Ratings: Adult Some violence, sex

The Eye of Nefertiti Maria Lang Historical Fantasy

The Eye of Nefertiti is both a standalone novel and a sequel to The Pharaoh’s Cat. The time-traveling ancient Egyptian feline with human powers returns together with his beloved Pharaoh and his close friends, the High Priest of Amun-Ra and Elena, an Egyptologist’s daughter. The cat is quick-witted, wise-cracking narrator as well as free-spirited, ever-curious protagonist, and the story he tells is an exotic, imaginative, spell-binding tragicomedy. The cat travels from present-day New York City to England, both ancient and modern, then to ancient Egypt, where he confronts a horrible demon and experiences a sublime emotion. Once back in England, he descends into a psychological abyss so deep only the Pharaoh can save him.

Uncaged Review: We join The High Priest and Wrappa-Hamen aka the adorable talking cat on a whole new journey, this time the duo travel to Stonehendge and back to Egypt to help a beautiful but sad Queen called Nefertiti. This book can be read as either a sequel to to the Issue 9 | April 2017 |

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Uncaged Reviews authors debut novel, A Pharaoh’s Cat, or as a standalone novel. It was a very enjoyable book as it shows the return of some lovable characters. One of them being a talking cat. The book follows a simple storyline which I think can be read at most any age. Reviewed by Jennifer.

I liked the beginning of this, and I think that the storyline has a lot of potential, but I would like a lot more information. Because I’m a hard core reader of this genre, I was able to latch on, but it would have been a better book if it hadn’t felt so rushed. There are just too many unanswered questions left over. Reviewed by Cyrene

Uncaged Ratings: Young Adult, 13+ No major warnings

The Soul Catcher

Rowanne S. Carberry Occult/Horror/Paranormal Spirit-speaker. Death Seer. To preserve her sanity, Jemma lives her lie—that she is normal. As a child, her psychic gifts cost her everything. So when she foresees a woman’s murder, she does nothing to prevent it and unwittingly helps a serial killer get away with another murder. Guilt-ridden, she reports the crime only to find herself thrown into a world she didn’t know existed. Coerced into working with the police, battling to keep herself alive and dealing with newfound emotions, Jemma is forced to use the gifts she sees as a curse, to save the lives of others.

Uncaged Review: This is a fast read, at a bit over 100 pages, and I felt like it has a lot of promise, but a lot of it is rushed and the lack of information in a first book is hard to get a handle on. Jemma sees visions if she touches someone and their deaths are soon. When she has a vision of a woman getting murdered by a serial killer, she finally gets the courage to go to the police and report what she knows. Little does she know, that there are more people with abilities – and she’s forced to stay and relive visions of deaths over and over again. But she gains some allies in the group…that may just save her life, 98 | UncagedBooks.com

Uncaged Ratings: Adult Graphic violence, abuse

A Second Hand Life Pamela Crane Medical Thriller

A heart never forgets its last beat... In a freak collision when she was twelve, Mia Germaine faced death and the loss of her father. A heart transplant from a young murder victim saved her life, but not without a price. Twenty years later, chilling nightmares about an unresolved homicide begin to plague Mia. Compelled by these lost memories, she forms a complicated connection to the victim—the girl killed the night of Mia’s accident—due to a scientific phenomenon called “organ memory.” Now suffocating beneath the weight of avenging a dead girl and catching a serial killer on the loose dubbed the “Triangle Terror,” Mia must dodge her own demons while unimaginable truths torment her— along with a killer set on making her his next victim.

Uncaged Review: This is the story of a women called Mia and her ability to be connected to a murder victim through a heart transplant and vivid dreams. Mia won’t stop until she finds out what really happened to the young girl who shared her heart with her. This was a fantastic read and I didn’t guess who


the killer was until the end. I thought i knew but i was wrong. This book will have you staying up late untill you finish it. This is my first read by this author and it won’t be my last. Reviewed by Jennifer

Uncaged Ratings: Adult

Talk about sexual abuse, mental health issues

Scandal’s Splendor

Collette Cameron Historical/Highlander Romance A determined Scottish lady Seonaid Ferguson, a lady of Craiglocky Keep, is through with London’s Marriage Mart. After learning she has the second sight, the haut ton attempts to exploit her abilities. Even though it means she condemns herself to spinsterhood, Seonaid sets a desperate course to rid herself of her gift turned curse. As she rushes home from England, a snowstorm strands her in a crowded inn with the last man she ever wished to see again. A handsome French baron who once thought her a courtesan. And just her misfortune, only he stands between her and certain harm. An honorable French nobleman Jacques, Monsieur le baron de Devaux-Rousset, ventures to Scotland to oversee his new investment; a silver mine near Craiglocky. Only a handsome profit will save his family’s destitute estate in France. But when the mine is beset with one problem after another, Jacques must instead search for an heiress to wed. He certainly should not be falling in love with the lovely, spirited sister of Laird Ewan MacTavish, a lass whose dowry is insufficient to restore his ancestral home. Nor should he consider, even for a moment, her risqué, but deliciously tempting scheme to rid her of the second sight.

A danger most dire Matters are torn from their hands when a dangerous adversary vows to expose Seonaid as a witch, just as Jacques’s problems at the mine escalate into deadly violence. Is it by chance, or a dark design, that both of them are beset at once? Dare Jacques and Seonaid throw caution aside and forge a future together?

Uncaged Review: I am a huge fan of Ms. Cameron, and this story may be one of my favorites so far. Seonaid, a Lady of Craiglocky Keep, and sister to Ewan McTavish the laird of the land, has the gift of a second sight – and has visions of events that have happened, or will happen, and because of this, she leaves London where she’s been staying because the ton had wanted to exploit her sight like a circus act. In a huge snow storm, her and her chaperones, and a rector, stop and stay at an inn – which has some unsavory guests. Also in attendance, is Jacques – a Frenchman who is in Scotland to watch over a silver mine, which he has invested the last of his money into, with hope of restoring his family manor in France. The romance between Jacques and Seonaid will break your heart, and give you hope that love will always find a way. There is danger – for both Seonaid and Jacques, and suspense. One of the things I love about Ms. Cameron, is a lot of her books and characters are intertwined and show up in other series and stories. When the historical urge hits me, Ms. Cameron is one of my go-to authors – and I’m never let down. Reviewed by Cyrene

Uncaged Ratings: Adult Mild violence, mild sex

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Fang-Freakin-Tastic Reviews Odium V Claire C. Riley Post-Apocalyptic On route to find their friends, Nina and Michael find so much more. After almost being killed by the Hell’s Highwaymen—a fifty strong motorcycle gang, Nina and Michael are forced to take refuge at their headquarters until Michael recovers. Finding a new purpose in life isn’t easy, but Nina is realizing that she’s stronger than she believes and needed more than she knows. At least, that’s what Shooter—the brutish, blue-eyed president of the biker gang, keeps telling her. * Meanwhile, Mikey is trapped in the candy store. Phil is gone, so is O’Donnell, and who knows what’s happened to Ricky. All Mikey knows is that he’s in for a whole world of pain unless he can think of a way to escape before Tim and Clare turn him into their lunch.

Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: The Odium series keeps getting better and better. Not every series can sustain itself through five installments, but Odium most definitely can and does. Every book in the series introduces us to new and exciting characters while keeping us attached in love and/or hate relationships with the ones who are already in our lives. We are seeing more and more similarities to the personalities of Nina and Mikey. Though they are on different paths, they seem to be experiencing the same feelings of guilt and shame over the things they have encountered. I honestly haven’t always been Nina’s biggest fan. For quite a while, I thought she was just a whiney baby who had gotten lucky enough times to keep surviving. She has grown on me. While I can’t say I love her as much as I do some of the other characters in the series, I definitely have more of an understanding

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and respect for her, even when I think she’s being a dumbass. She seems to be finally finding her purpose, which is a very good thing. Riley seems to keep finding new and exciting ways to keep this story going. Odium V is filled with all kinds of situations we haven’t seen in previous books. We are seeing just how deceiving appearances can be more and more. I like how some of the characters who were previously strangers are all still connected and intersecting at the necessary times and all that good stuff. Overall, Odium V doesn’t disappoint. The world of Odium continues to excite and disgust me, just as a zombie apocalypse should. I’m going to be sad one day when it finally ends, but hopefully, that won’t be for a very long time.

Dead over Heels Theresa Braun Paranormal Romance Veronica’s first date with Sebastian not only stirs up a powerful attraction, but also a series of supernatural events that will tear them apart. After countless hours of dead end online dating, Veronica meets up with Sebastian at a reportedly haunted restaurant, since he knows she has a fascination with the paranormal. While enjoying their meals and each other’s company, they share a shocking supernatural experience. Their romantic connection is overshadowed by the ghosts of their own pasts that threaten to destroy their budding relationship. Veronica decides she must return to the restaurant to face her past and dig up more answers. Unfortunately, she realizes she must go back, this time with a reluctant Sebastian. In the end, they join forces against the evil that stands between them, but will they make it out alive?


Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: Dead Over Heels is a very short but exciting read. I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about it at first, but I’m glad I didn’t let that stop me from reading it anyway. This review will be somewhat hard to write because I don’t want to give anything away. I really did feel emotion for Veronica and Sebastian. They were both missing something from their lives and seem to have found it in each other. I’m glad for that. There are definitely some twists and surprises in this book. My only complaint is, honestly, for selfish reasons. I really wanted the story to be longer. I was most definitely surprised by the ending. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a quick ghostly read focusing on a newly dating couple.

The Girl From Yesterday Kathryn Miller Haines Psychological Thriller Helen’s life is simple. She has a job. She has a boyfriend. She has her weekly NA meetings. No drugs, no drinking, no sex, not even any caffeine— not anymore. Because Helen knows this: once you’re an addict, you’re always an addict. There is no such thing as recovered. And on her thirtieth birthday, the stability she’s cobbled together for herself will vanish. A call from the police, a body found, a dead woman with Helen’s name in her back pocket—it’s all so hard to believe. But then when Helen finds out the victim was her childhood best friend, a girl who went missing in high school, it’s too much.

Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: The Girl From Yesterday really caught me by surprise. I was hoping it was going to be good, but it’s rare for a book to have surprises quite like this that I don’t predict within the first half of the book. There is a lot of reference to drug use, but mainly because the main character, Helen, is in recovery from Meth. You can tell she has really been through a lot in her life and has overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. She is most definitely a strong character and it’s obvious that she wants to be a better person despite her past mistakes. The author does a very good job of capturing the emotions and issues someone in recovery can go through without trivializing any of it. It’s obvious she did extensive research on the subject. Helen has become caught up in the mysterious death of a girl who appears to be her best friend from childhood that she hasn’t seen since 11th grade. The girl is found with only Helen’s number in her back pocket and that is it. As the story goes on, things get weirder and weirder. There are so many strange circumstantial situations that I’m not sure I could have gotten through as well as Helen has. This story really is a thriller (I was going to say addicting but thought that would be too corny). It kept me guessing until the very end and I wish I could say more, but I’m afraid I will give something important away. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for an exciting book full of intrigue and very relatable characters.

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Myra’s Horror Blog Reviews

Evolution of the Dead R.M. Smith Post-Apocalyptic/Horror Since the beginning of time, an unknown life-form has been trapped inside every single human cell. Nature blocked it, denied its growth, denied its life. Now, in a small lab, two scientists have stumbled upon this odd anomaly. One scientist believes this is what human life should have evolved into; and normal human life was a mistake. The scientist’s colleague, greedy, set on self gain, allows the oddity to be cut loose. This sets off a string of events allowing the living infestation to ravage life as we know it, taking revenge on human kind for being locked inside a cell for eons. Myra’s Review: The premise of the story was interesting. Something in human cells has stayed hidden throughout mankind’s evolution, and a fluke accident by a scientist sets it free. The result is catastrophic. Any infected person who touches, spits or vomits on another person transmits the disease, which is very nasty. Human bodies are overtaken in a rapid, grotesque manner, ending with being infested with worms.

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Several characters fight their way through a world gone mad with infestation. Carmen senses things about to happen and is helpful sensing danger. Nick seems like a good character but ends up being a really bad guy, one you want see taken down. To me, Scott is the hero of the story, but ends up doing something bad too, abandoning the injured Carmen. The infestation was so virulent, I wasn’t sure if any characters would survive. I was glad when several did, including unlucky Carmen, who spends the story walking on a broken foot. A lot of action and fighting to survive. Overall, a good read. If you don’t have a strong stomach I wouldn’t recommend reading.:) Made me queasy a few times but still enjoyed the ride.


THEM: Incursion M.D. Massey Paranormal/Post-Apocalyptic Scratch Sullivan just wanted to survive the apocalypse in peace. But when the vamps bring their war right to his doorstep, it’s time for him to cowboy up and rain hell down

on his enemies... It’s been eight years since the bombs fell and the dead rose, and the world has become a very dangerous place. But I’m getting by. Oh, don’t get me wrong—it’s been hell on earth. But somehow, I seem to fit in. I hunt the dead, vampires and zombies alike, with the odd revenant thrown in for good measure. Folks pay me for solving their problems, sometimes in food, sometimes in moonshine, sometimes in ammo. And to this point, I’ve been content with how things turned out. But now some nosferatu tells me the vamps are going to attack the people I protect. Maybe it’s a load of bull, maybe not. But it’s too damned quiet, and something tells me I better find out for myself. So, I’m heading into the badlands, out where no one’s safe. Gotta see if that vamp was just blowing smoke, or if war is coming.

Scratch gets wind that Werewolf packs may be moving into the Corridor (places where brave survivors scavenge for supplies). He sets out to seek out the truth and runs into Gabby, a preteen girl and Bobby a young werewolf. It doesn’t take long for them to bond. I loved the humor between Scratch and Bobby. The werewolf seems to be looking for a mentor and Scratch reluctantly takes on the job. Gabby is a mystery. How did she survive on her own for weeks? Scratch soon discovers the answer in a scientist, Perez, who has enhanced the girl’s abilities. Gabby has her own book (4 in the series) and I can’t wait to read her story. But first I need to read the 3rd. Action packed series, with very well developed characters you actually care about. I love military apocalyptic stories, but Massey doesn’t hit you over the head with it so that as a civilian you get bored. I highly recommend this series to those who love zombie and apocalyptic tales with a military trained hero.

Myra’s Review: This is the 2nd book in the THEM series. I couldn’t put the first down and I found the same situation with the second. A page turner for sure! I really liked Scratch in the 1st book and I loved him as the hero by the 2nd. Our hero has turned his skills of effectively killing zombies and other paranormal creatures such as vampires, into a living. He trades his abilities to survivors for goods he needs. In exchange they get an environment free of the deadly beasts stalking their communities, until more show up, as they always do. Issue 9 | April 2017 |

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Myra’s Horror Blog Reviews 12:07 The Sleeping L. Sydney Abel Horror/Occult THE SLEEPING have always come for The Unwanted... James would fight for his life many times – always winning and yet always fearing that anytime soon, it might be his

last. THE SLEEPING are guardians of the underworld who feed from the tormented souls sent there. In our world, they haunt those whom they believe belong in Hell. THE SLEEPING enter our realm to claim their victim, until the wrongly-given soul is taken. When The Custodian of ‘The Room of Truth’ is asked to perform a ritual of worship, loyalty to God and The Messenger are in conflict. The lives of The Unwanted, The Protector, The Messenger and 2 Pretty Things are assembled by divine invitation. Myra’s Review: Lance and Katherine are a happily married couple, but things change after their baby girl is lost during a miscarriage. Both seem to be drifting through life and their marriage. I got irritated at Lance, who played out this sexual yearning for his gorgeous secretary without consummation, even though his wife knew about it. He did end up having sex with her as James, his other half of his multiple personality. Lance suffers from really bad nightmares. The neighbor, Mr. Green is a strange old man who we discover is The Messenger for The Sleeping, who are demonic creatures. Mr. Green’s job is to deliver Lance to the demons, because Lance is an Unwanted; ie an unwanted child born out of wedlock. Miriam, a nun, is introduced. She is Mr. Green’s great-granddaughter and sets out to help him end his curse and get his soul back, as well as help 104 | UncagedBooks.com

Lance. The way she does this was weird to say the least. Miriam conducts a Black Mass in order for Mr. Green to find final peace and Lance to shake off The Sleeping. Throughout the story I wasn’t sure if Miriam worshipped The Devil or God, but seems as though she did follow the light by the end of that part of the tale. I found it hard to believe a nun would get involved in Satanic rites, even if it were to help out the two characters in need. This is the strangest story I’ve read to date. Not saying it’s bad, but very different. The cover has a bizarro feel to it and so does the story. Note: There are quite a few sexual encounters, though not explicit. I did find it strange that all the women in the story, including Miriam got shafts of desire for other women in the story at some point. Even Katherine and one of the Lesbian women were exchanging looks at the end so you knew they were going to hook up. Yeah, I’m straight, and no I didn’t mind the Lesbian lovers depicted, but for all the women to feel this desire seemed out of place to me. I was a bit confused by the end. I didn’t understand the significance of the “Pink Marshmallow house”. I didn’t know if Lance really got away from The Sleeping. It seemed that he did not, and that Katherine was going to stay as his Guardian, but I’m not sure about that conclusion. You can tell without reading the author’s bio first, that he knows something about Sleep paralysis , it is described so well and terrifyingly. I’m sure many readers have experienced the inability to awaken and how scary it is, especially if you are having a nightmare as well. I know I have. I have never head of The Sleeping, so that was a new myth to explore. Creepy story.


Devour R.L.Blalock Horror An infection is spreading. People are dying, but they don’t stay dead. St. Louis is falling to pieces. In the midst of rioting, a dangerous new disease has sprung up pushing an already dire situation over the edge. Those who are infected suddenly become extremely aggressive, attacking and even eating those around them.

unfortunately sacrifice themselves in order for her small family to survive. When Liv finally makes it to the farm, it was realistically portrayed how all the survivors had to work together in order to remain alive. It was cool that Liv played a very important part in the community. The ending was very sad, but not unexpected in this world. I did have to suspend my belief that an ordinary woman could walk and run for miles and miles, especially with a child on their back. I’d call Liv a super woman, because not many women could do what she did. A very enjoyable read.

And Olivia Bennett is caught right in the middle of it. When Liv comes face to face with the infected, her hectic life grinds to a halt as the city around her begins to devour itself. Forced to flee from her car with nothing but her eighteen-month-old daughter, Elli, Liv must trek forty miles on foot across the feral infested suburbs of St. Louis to a safe haven that may not even be safe. Fight or die. What other hope does she have? Myra’s Review: Liv is in the middle of a traffic jam when the worst nightmare you could dream of happens: a zombie outbreak and the crazed infected are headed her way. She escapes with her 18 month baby, barely escaping being eaten alive many times. I admired the efficient way Liv went about collecting what she needed for her journey to a safe haven, a farm where she hopes all her family have made it to. The shell she creates out of a snow sled to cover and protect her little girl was genius. I wondered how Liv was going to make it across so many miles with a baby on her back. But she does make new friends who help her along the way and Issue 9 | April 2017 |

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Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews Chasing Hindy Darin Gibby Suspense Addy’s dream as a patent attorney is to help bring a ground breaking energy technology to the world. Addy’s hopes soar when she is wooed by Quinn, an entrepreneur, to join his company that has purportedly invented a car that can run on water using an innovative catalyst. After resigning her partnership to join Quinn, Addy discovers things aren’t as they seem. The patent office suppresses the company’s patent applications and her life is threatened by unknown assailants if she doesn’t resign. When she is arrested for stealing US technology from the patent office she realizes Quinn has used her. Now, Addy must find a way to clear her name while salvaging her dream of propelling this technology to the world, all while powerful forces attempt to stop her. Amy’s Review: Gibby writes a great fast flowing story, filled with suspense and mixed with a little intrigue. Who knew that being an attorney, and a patent attorney at that, was so ... exciting. I enjoyed this well written story. The characters are very well developed and continue to grow and not be so static. Good story about taking back ones life, and yet, there is so much more to the strength of the story.

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The Ulterior Motive Jack Coleston Suspense/Technothriller The fate of the United States hangs in the balance and only a select few can prevent the impending disaster. Stanley Carmichael is an intelligent and hard-working member of the Central Intelligence Agency. Yet, he never expected to be named Deputy Director of the CIA so soon in his career. Nonetheless, he finds himself stepping into shoes that feel impossible to fill. Amy’s Review: The opening quote, “’The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.’? Edmund Burke” drew me in immediately. Then, I was introduced to Stanley, and the stagnant air of rot and something burned. The senses were in overdrive as I read on. I couldn’t stop until I was finished. This book kept me focused on each word, waiting for the next scene. Stanley is one of those characters that become unforgettable. And then there was Anna ... I would give too much away if I commented on Anna. I highly recommend this book and the intrigue will keep you wanting more. Also, take the few seconds more to read the note from the author. I enjoy a glimpse into inspiration from the authors.


Cut Amy S. Peele Medical Suspense While the federal government is launching a national investigation on the “equity” of organ distribution a female tech CEO flies across country to get a liver transplant. Soon, well-respected transplant nurse Sarah Golden and her best friend, Jackie, find themselves tangled up in an intense plot to uncover the answer to the question on everyone’s mind: Can you buy your way up to the top of the waiting list? Their pursuit of justice brings them to Miami, San Francisco, and Chicago—a sometimes fun, sometimes dangerous roller coaster ride from which they barely escape with their lives. Amy’s Review: This book was filled with great characters and a wonderful plot. The background of the author surely is reflected in the story as experience and knowledge. This book was a definite page-turner, and it brought the reader on a journey of intrigue and mystery, as Jackie and Sarah are in the middle of corrupt organ transplants. It’s a dangerous and wild journey for these two nurses, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I hope there will be more books to come from this author. I look forward to reading more stories.

Children of Swan, Vol. One Coral Walker YA/Space Fantasy It seems that nothing could be worse than waking up one morning to find their parents have disappeared and their young brother Bo bawling his eyes out, but for Jack and Brianna, the squabbling teenage sibling rivals, the worst is yet to come. Much to the bafflement and distress of their children, Marcus and Zelda have actually returned to their home planet, Cygnore. Marcus and Zelda, the runaway prince and princess of Bara and Rion, had a life on Earth. For twelve years, they lived happily and peacefully under the name of ‘Goodman’. Amy’s Review: Walker brings the reader into the story right away. I liked the plot of the story, as children discover that their parents have disappeared. It is a good concept of a sci-fi story intertwined with aliens and the relationship of siblings. The book is well written and tells a good story. Even though it’s part of a trilogy, it should have a bit of closure for the current story. Looking forward to reading the next ones in the series.

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Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews The Black Chronicle Oldrich Stibor Psychological Thriller When an enigmatic and infamous serial killer known simply as ‘Mister’, brings retired FBI specialist and forensic psychologist Dr. Jeremy Foster into his orchestra of terror that’s exactly what he must answer. For three long, hellish years Mister has terrorized the state of California with his a string of gruesome murders and the FBI are not any closer to discovering his identity. To add insult to injury Mister frequently engages the public with videos of his killings, ridiculing the authorities for their inability to catch him and regaling them with haunting sermons on the nature of reality as he perceives it. Amy’s Review: If it’s about serial killers, I am very intrigued. I can’t help it, but this book adds more than just hunting serial killers. This book is definitely spine-shivering and heart-pounding. Stibor brings the reader directly into the story, giving insights into each character. This book is only part one, and I can’t wait to read part two. It’s intense and terrifying, and a glorious story. Highly recommended.

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The Check Clair Harmony SciFi This is a FIVE STAR story of how an ordinary man became a Billionaire over night. He is a postman for the United States Mail Service, and a former Marine, who discovers that checks are going out over his signature from his own personal checking account. The checks quickly escalate beyond tens of millions of dollars. The FBI gets involved and discussions reach the ears of the White House, especially after a commando style rocket attack against the Postman and his girlfriend at a Southern California shopping mall, in the City of Diamond Bar. The story goes viral and our hero decides to arm himself. This leads to Black Ops. Amy’s Review: Harmony wrote an interesting story. I find it difficult to see it as a sci-fi book, but it is more like a cross between dystopia and utopia, what would be in the middle? Anyway, don’t judge a book by it’s cover. The cover does not do the book justice. It’s one of those stories that keep the reader guessing and trying to figure out what will happen next. Most of the characters are welldeveloped. It was a book worth reading.


Miller’s View The Case of the Blue Diamonds

Marlene W. Potts Supernatural Suspense

The Case of the Blue Diamonds, the third volume in the Miller’s View series, finds Detective Jonathan Miller working to strengthen his link to a mysterious Priestess and the rose-tinted glasses that assist him in his work, and embarking on the next chapter of his life with his sweetheart Callie. But Miller soon realizes the stakes are about to be raised, and the price could cost him the love of his life. Amy’s Review: Looking at the world through rose-colored glasses takes on an entirely new meaning, especially for Det. Jonathan Miller, who gained the literal glasses. An amazing view of situations past and present, life and death helps Miller see the truth about many things, but he doesn’t always see the truth about who he can and can’t trust. I love that. No story should have all the answers. I find the story very magical and thrilling! The characters have a great chemistry, especially Jonathan and Callie. I thoroughly enjoyed the story that brings a sense of romance, suspense, and intrigue -- especially when it comes to Daeva, who is creepy yet very interesting.

Miller’s View La Isla de la Muerte Marlene W. Potts Suspense Detective Jonathan Miller takes his new bride to the beautiful island for their honeymoon, not expecting the powers of The Bone Lady to follow them and create havoc. Now Jonathan is accused of murder and as he proves his innocence he must save the life of the beautiful Detective Laura Newman. Amy’s Review: This is an exciting book, filled with intrigue and suspense. I’ve read other books in the Miller’s View series, and this fits right in. Romance and love are also part of the story, and Potts has picked up a big fan in me. I fell right into the story and couldn’t put it down. Absolutely wonderful story telling and characters.

Issue 9 | April 2017 |

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Do you have a short story that you’d like published in Uncaged? Uncaged is now accepting short stories - in return, Uncaged will provide ONE FULL PAGE to promote up to 3 books from the author, OR a free Sneak Peek promotion!

Guidelines: • Must be PG/PG-13 rated per Issuu’s Terms of Use • Must be approved • Free promotion will be scheduled for the same month as the short story • Submit the story or any questions to UncagedBooks@gmail.com

Submit your story today!

Uncaged Book Reviews  

Issue 10, May 2017 Featured authors: Lee Piper, Stacy Hoff, Beth Donaldson, Claire Buss, M.D. Massey, R.L. Blalock and Christian Alecci Sh...

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