ISSUE 13 | AUGUST 2017
Interview • Stay Connected • Excerpt from The Ulterior Motive • Review
Toni V. Sweeney Interview • Stay Connected • Excerpt from The Man from Cymene
Interview • Stay Connected • Excerpt from A Storytelling of Ravens • Review
Stay Connected • Excerpt from Or the Girl Dies • Reviews
Kristen Collins Interview • Stay Connected • Excerpt from The Child with Silver Eyes • Review
Interview • Stay Connected • Excerpt from Belonging to a Highlander • Review
Issue 13 | August 2017
Raven Awards Winners Announced!
Danger: Road Ahead Closed, Pt 2
Stay Connected • Excerpt of Curse of the Black-eyed Kids • Review
specialfeature Grigoris Drakakis Uncaged talks with Grigoris • Hot Photos & Covers • Video Trailers
B.J. Scott We Catch Up with B.J. as she releases Forever and Beyond
sneakpeeks 08 20 28 43
John Hyland Amy Jarecki
Carolyn M. Prince Collette Cameron
4 Editor’s Desk 5 Bargain Bin 56 Best Seller Lists 85 New Releases 86 Uncaged Reviews 100 Fang-Freakin-Tastic Reviews 104 Myra’s Horror Blog Reviews 108 Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews
Issue 13 | August 2017 |
Welcome to Issue 13, August 2017 - Uncaged Book Reviews! This month, dig in to our featured authors: Toni V. Sweeney, Rachel Rust, Kristen Collins, K.M. Patterson, R.H. Dixon and Jack Coleston! I can’t thank them all enough, for sharing their talents with us. Fang-Freakin-Tastic also brings Uncaged a feature author with Corey J. Popp. We also have part two of a short story for you this month from JB. Woods. This short story will be delivered differently, with a chapter each month, so jump into chapter two of Danger: Road Closed Ahead.
As you’ve probably noticed, the very hot cover model, Grigoris Drakakis is gracing the cover this month. See an interview and photo spread in this month’s issue, wouldn’t he be terrific on the cover of your next book? Uncaged is celebrating it’s first year anniversary (can you believe it’s been a year already??) with the first annual Raven Awards! Winners have been chosen, and see all the winners on page 10! All badge and certificate awards will be sent to the winners by August 15th, congratulations! Next year is already shaping up to be bigger and better - with more categories and more authors and books! Books are automatically entered when they receive a 4 Star or better review from Uncaged. Uncaged will Catch Up with B.J. Scott a past Featured Authors, with a new release and what’s been happening since we last spoke. 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. 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, both in the magazine, and on the site. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org So thank you and enjoy the August issue of Uncaged Book Reviews!
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showcase John Hyland
Will Will and Me Will Will and Me John Hyland Contemporary
Will Will and Me contains eight fictional stories about the amusing actions of grade-school boys in the 1950s and ‘60s. The first story tells how Will Will, the main character, gets his peculiar name. The next three describe Will Will’s mischief, which gets him and his pal, Johnny, into ridiculous predicaments. Story two, for example, shows Will Will using a butterfly net to snag a farmer’s pet goose. In the sixth story, Will Will convinces a lady who dislikes him that he’s not a “scamp.” He himself is a victim of mischief in the last story, when he and Johnny get “bamboozled” into buying an awful rabbit-raising business.
bookventure.com US Review of Books “The next second it was thrashing around on its side in the road, honking like crazy. It twisted the hoop six ways to Saturday but couldn’t tear through the cloth.” Will Will’s full name is William Sidney Peterson, but no one ever calls him that. Will Will is as unique as his nickname—the leader of the pack, the Dennis the Menace of his hometown. In his book, Hyland recounts eight adventures he embarked on thanks to (or perhaps because of) his best friend Will Will. Set in the 1950s and 60s in a 8| uncagedbooks.com |
little town in Illinois, this charming trip down memory lane invites readers to take part in the boys’ adventures and perhaps reminisce about their own childhoods as a result. The lead character takes center stage in this short collection of stories. He is imaginative and inventive, coming up with crazy schemes and creating entertainment for himself and his classmates. Will Will and the author go fishing for catfish together, catch butterflies (and other creatures they’re better off leaving alone), make up war games, get up to no good with some slingshots, and more. Even a mundane task like helping out with spring cleaning turns into an exciting adventure at the hands of these two friends. Will Will’s mischief often ends in punishment or bruised friendships, but it’s always worth it. Charmingly illustrated by Eldora Larson, the stories reveal a pure friendship; they remind us that time and time again, boys will be boys. The boys show many different sides to them and their personalities, adding a complexity and understanding of young boys of that era that is often missing from modern children’s books. One moment they might be playing a silly game, and the next they’re having fist fights on the playground. They go from being supportive of each other to merciless teasing. They are as real as young boys can be, and readers will sense the author’s own memories playing an important role in his telling of these stories. Hyland’s tale offers young readers a glimpse into what life used to be like for children, but it is equally accessible and attractive to adults, who will be reminded of their own childhood friends and adventures. Hyland takes us back over half a century and infuses his writing with nostalgia. His writing evokes the era’s simplicity, from the antiquated manner the boys speak to their interests. With no technology to distract them, the boys must create their own entertainment, often spending most of their time outside thinking up new games and fun activities. They make their own butterfly nets, fishing poles, and slingshots. Through Hyland’s clear writing style, the boys take us back to a
simpler time. Readers will undoubtedly emerge from the book with a hankering for the days when every moment was worth something. Although Will Will comes off as an incredibly likable and realistic individual, Hyland admits that the character is a combination of a few of his childhood friends. At the end of the day, despite all the times Will Will’s ideas have led to trouble, he is a kindhearted boy. Will Will and Me is a wonderful tale of two best friends. It’s a reminder that even the smallest, most insignificant or boring task can become an amazing adventure.
About the Author John Hyland was born in 1942 in Belvidere, Illinois. The son of hard-working parents, he grew up enjoying energetic outdoor activities. After doing ridiculous things as a teenager, he worked hard to become an outstanding professional. A desire to teach English motivated him to earn a BA from Wartburg College (1964), an MA from the University of Nebraska (1966), and a PHD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (1979). Before finishing his college work, he served in the United States Army from 1966 to 1968. He was trained as an infantryman and expected to fight in Vietnam. However, officers at Fort Gordon, Georgia, assigned him to a personnel specialist’s position. John began conducting English classes as soon as he received his honorable discharge from the Army. From 1968 until 1970, he taught composition and literature at Sauk Valley College near Dixon, Illinois. Then he delayed his teaching career to enroll in the PhD program in 1970. He spent most of his time producing a long dissertation about the novels of James Fenimore Cooper. To ease that monotony, he also taught two writing classes at the Richland Center branch of the University of Wisconsin. After John earned his doctoral degree, he taught
English as an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls from 1980 to 1985. Remedial and standard composition classes were his specialty, along with world literature. Unfortunately, he lost his teaching position when the university discharged approximately forty non-tenured instructors because of a severe decrease in student enrollment. Instead of leaving the university, John took a writing position in its news bureau. He specialized in feature articles that appeared in the River Falls Journal and several other newspapers, including the St. Paul Pioneer Press. By 1988 he was working as a freelance developer of writing workshops for Minnesota companies that included Red Wing Shoes, Citizens Security Insurance in Red Wing, and Advanced Flex of Minnetonka. As a special text for those programs, he published “Business Letters: A No-Nonsense Guide to Writing and Revising Them” (1992). John held a ten-year writing and training job at Treasure Island Resort and Casino (1994-2004). Employed in the human resources department, he produced technical manuals for several departments and a casino-wide handbook titled “Writing for Good Results.” Alcohol-service instruction was his main training duty, but he also specialized in teaching new-employee orientation, kitchen sanitation, and healthful work procedures. John retired in 2004. Since then he has enjoyed a leisure life in River Falls with Joan, his wife for 47 years. To stay healthy, he does yard and garden work, runs three or four miles a day three times a week, and bikes along county roads. He and Joan have two children, one living in Cottage Grove, Minnesota, and the other in Madison, Wisconsin. John’s most pleasant past time is producing comic fiction. In 2015 he self-published “Ginger and Alice: A Story of two Mischievous Gerbils.” The book describes the pesky rodents playing so many annoying tricks that their owners make them wear vests and chains until they learn to behave.
Issue 13 | August 2017 |
UNCAGED BOOK REV
Thank you to all who voted in the first annual below, and will receive their certificates and will fly higher, with more categories and more made reading fun an FavoriTe AnThology
WINNER Tales of the Mysterious and Macabre, Simon Parker Runner-up The Forbidden Highlands - Various
FavoriTe ShorT STorY anthology)
(not part of an
WINNER Stained, Kayla Krantz Runner-up The Darkest Days, R.L. Blalock
FavoriTe Horror/Thriller/darK Fantasy
WINNER The Storyteller of Pain - Loren Molloy Runner-up Blade of the Destroyer - Andy Peloquin 10| uncagedbooks.com |
FavoriTe Urban Fantasy
WINNER The Unlikeable Demon Hunter- Deborah Wilde Runner-up Hunting in Bruges - E.J. Stevens
WINNER Lazy Blood - Ross Greenwood Runner-up Between Midnight and Dawn, Cheryl Yeko
FavoriTe New Adult/Young Adult WINNER The Hidden Legacy - Christine Rees Runner-up The Revenge Artist - Philip Hoy
VIEWS PRESENTS THE
Raven Awards! Winners and Runner-ups are badges soon! Next year, the Raven Awards e choices! Congratulations to the authors that nd exciting last year! FavoriTe Fantasy/SciFi
WINNER The Gaia Effect - Claire Buss Runner-up Realm of the Dragon, CiCi Cordelia
WINNER Fearless Destiny - Annette Bower Runner-up Sleeping with Elvis - Beth Carter
FavoriTe Paranormal WINNER Reborn, Jane Ederlyn Runner-up A Vampireâ€™s Saving Embrace, Darlene Kuncytes
FavoriTe Regency/victorian/ western Historical
WINNER Christina - Hildie McQueen Runner-up The Renegade Wife - Caroline Warfield
FavoriTe medieval/Highlands/ scotland Historical
WINNER Vestiges of Valor - Kathryn Le Veque Runner-up Highland Hope - Madelyn Hill
FavoriTe cover - all genres WINNER Queen of Lost Stars - Kathryn Le Veque Runner-up Virtue and Valor - Collette Cameron Issue 13 | August 2017 |
Interview with Cover Model/Actor
Uncaged talks with
rigoris Drakakis is a professional model/actor who was born in Greece, and is now living in California with his wife, a daughter and a new baby on the way. With the looks of a Greek God, he has racked up over 200 book covers in his portfolio with authors like Katie MacAlister, Cynthia Lucas, Teresa Greene and Odessa Black, just to name a few. From historical, to contemporary romance, to paranormal, this man can do it all. Uncaged is very honored that he took the time to be in this issue. First off, thank you so much for taking the time for the interview! GD: I would like to thank you in my turn too for the honor you do to me. Uncaged: How did you get started in modeling and acting, and how did book covers come about for you? GD: Actually I do modeling, I am a book cover model and I have participated in some serials in second roles. From time to time, I had some proposes to participate as a protagonist in some movies in the past, which finally never came true. You see, sometimes the right timing is very important when some things are about to occur… Despite this, everything
| GRIGORIS DRAKAKIS| is possible, while there are some stage directors, who show their interest in such an idea… we will see… I have also participated in some cinematic trailers for book stories. Uncaged: When you do a cover shoot, how much do you know about the book before going into the shoot? GD: If it has to do with a specific book, I ask the writer to tell me about the story in a few words and how he imagines his hero, so it would be easier for me to approach the most appropriate result which would be the most suitable for his cover. It is very important for me to know some details about the story of the book which will help me to adapt the whole style of the photoshoot, from the kind of dressing I should use, to the place where the photoshoot should take place with the most right background, according to the story of the book. Uncaged: What are some of the fun things that have happened on a photo shoot? What was the strangest thing that happened? GD: Well, I can’t remember something specific but, in general lines, we have a really good time me and my cooperators, we lough a lot. It has never hap-
Issue 13 | August 2017 |
| SPECIAL FEATURE | pened something extreme except some difficulties as it concerns the sudden climatologic changes which many times made me badly sick when the needs of the photoshooting demanded to be done in external places… Uncaged: Do you attend any book conventions to meet and greet authors and fans? GD: I had been to RT Convention in Las Vegas in 2016. Generally, it is something that I seek for because I have the opportunity to meet very notable, very important people related to my profession and the kind of my work. Uncaged: What do you have coming up in the near future that you can tell us about? GD: My purpose is to get occupied more systematically with the book cover shoots. This does not mean that I would say no if I had any proposal for other kind of works as it concerns my profession but I really want to give all my energy to the book cover shoots, which is something that expresses me a lot and I love to do. Uncaged: Have you been recognized on the streets from being on book covers? GD: I have done more than 200 book covers until today, most of which have become best sellers all over the world, therefore, there are some people that recognize me when they meet me by accident, mostly those people who read many books, those people known as “book lovers”. Uncaged: Let us know where you hang out, and where you can be contacted.
www.4modelactor.com 18 | UncagedBooks.com
Thank you so much Grigoris! GD: Usually, when I give an interview, I mainly refer to the place I was born and grew up, to my hobbies, my favorite foods etc. I am very proud of the fact that I live in one of the most beautiful countries in the world. However, this time I would also like to
| GRIGORIS DRAKAKIS|
refer to the most important of all other things in my life and this is nothing else but my familyâ€Ś To my wife Toula, who is the most important person in my life, her daughter Eva from her first marriage which I love like she was my real child. A mutual love between us from what I can feelâ€Ś And of course to our baby which will come to our life in about 2 months. I really feel grateful for all these things I have in my life. I every single day thank God for all this happiness he gave me so generously. Thank you so much! Click below to play
Issue 13 | August 2017 |
Hunt for Evil Hunt for Evil
Amy Jarecki Thriller/Suspense Meeting her will change his life…And she has no idea how much she needs the SEAL to change hers. Posing a married couple, steam erupts between the pair while Logan and Olivia dive deeper into an ISIS kidnapping ring. But when Olivia becomes the kidnapper’s next victim, she enters a madman’s hell. And as Logan races against time to save her, one thing ravages his soul. If he fails, the woman he loves will be lost to him forever.
Excerpt Her heart nearly stopped when a hand slid over her mouth and another disarmed her. “I’m Commander Rodgers from the USS Washington, and you’re coming with me now,” an American growled in her ear. From the girth pressing against her back, he was solid—but Olivia could take him. Grinding her teeth, she threw an elbow to his sternum. He blocked—so like a hotshot. Few people were fast enough to react to one of her strikes. But she’d nail him with her second try. Whipping around, she aimed a kick at his groin, but he blocked that, too. At least six-two and faster than an asp, Rodgers stopped her next kick by catching her ankle and giving it a twist—a warning. “Enough. Come.” Jesus Christ, his eyes were the color of a teal lagoon and they drilled into her like daggers. She shook her head. God, she wasn’t about to go anywhere with dagger-eyes. Not without a fight. Suited up in scuba gear, his facemask cocked atop 20 | UncagedBooks.com
his head, the man had to be daft. “What the fuck, Aquaman?” she whisper-shouted. “If anyone sees you, we’ll both be shot before the first question’s asked.” His eyebrows slanted downward over those damned eyes. “Yeah?” he whisper-shouted back. “Everyone on this boat will be dead in fifteen. If you want to live, you’ll do as I say.” Olivia’s mouth went dry. She blinked, shaking her head. He had to be mistaken. One more day and al-Umari’s ass would be hers. “Are you off your fucking trolley? I’ve put too much into this project to have it blown to smithereens. Call off your dogs before you cock-up the entire op. Now.” “No can do,” he said like her hard-earned cover wasn’t about to become the greatest wipeout in MI6 history. “Sorry to ruin your party, but there’s a bomb attached to the hull. Can’t be killed, can’t be dislodged, and if you stand here arguing with me for one more second, you’ll explode into so many pieces, you won’t make a meal for a goddamned minnow.” Those are my choices? “Christ!” She jammed her finger under his nose. “When this is over, your ass is mine.” Amy embarked on her writing journey shortly after she completed an MBA with Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland. Her first published book, Boy Man Chief, won the League of Utah Writers award for Best Manuscript, and the Spark Book Award. A lot has happened since, with some of the highlights being Rise of a Legend winning the national RONE award for Best Time Travel and hitting the Amazon Top 100 Bestseller list. Amy enjoys the freedom of authorship and the opportunity to work creatively every day. She loves writing Scottish historical romance, and now she’s adding romantic suspense to the mix. Come along for the ride!
feature authors suspense
Toni V. Sweeney
Jack Coleston lives with his wife, Sophie, in Auckland, New Zealand. Coleston recently published his first novel, The Ulterior Motive, a promising Action-Adventure thriller with aspects of historical fiction. If you like realism and suspense then Jack Coleston’s writing is bound to keep you on the edge of your seat.
22 | UncagedBooks.com
Please welcome Jack Coleston to Uncaged! Uncaged: I read The Ulterior Motive, and this is your first published novel? How did writing this political thriller come about? Yes, this is my first ever published novel! Back in 2014 my wife, who is a teacher, brought home a story one of her students had written. The story was an excellent “choose your own adventure” with robots, guns and knives. I was very impressed with the creativity the boy displayed in setting the scenes and rewarding the adventurer for making the right choices, or telling them how they faced an imminent and horrible death because of their poor decisions. I had read a few dozen novels that year and I said to myself “If this nine year old can write a great story like this then why don’t I give it a go?” At the time I was part way through one of the early Tom Clancy novels based in the Cold War and it made me consider “What is a contemporary but relevant issue or crisis that the world is currently facing that people would enjoy reading about? ISIS was in the news for all of their gruesome beheadings and other
anti-social behavior in Iraq and that sparked the idea for this novel. Uncaged: Do you read your reviews on your books? Do they influence your story or writing at all? Yes, I read all of my reviews. It is wonderful to see so many people have enjoyed my book, especially as most of them are five and four star reviews. The feedback which has been most valuable for my writing going forward has come in the form of personal emails from readers who are familiar with government operations. For example, I received an email from an ex-FBI agent who informed me of key details in my story which would never happen in real life. Uncaged: What is coming up next for readers? I’m currently working on book two of five in the series. I’ve planned the bones of the story and I’m working on the first chapter. I like writing about controversial scenarios, so I’m setting up a big show down between the U.S., South Korea and North Korea. Stanley and Anna Carmichael will find themselves smack bang in the middle of it all,
along with their children, against a new foe who is more devious and sophisticated than the Caliph from the first book. It’s going to make for a bit of a wild ride, but I’m really excited about where the story is going to go. Book three is going to introduce Anna Carmichael’s younger brother as he takes on the Chinese government somewhat single-handedly, and well, let’s just say he takes after his older sister. I’m also working on a comedic action novel. It’s about a weather-beaten gun-toting loner who goes by the nickname of Troubled Joe. He doesn’t care about other people but somehow always finds himself dragged into situations where he’s forced to help others out or face terrible consequences, which is quite a fun dynamic to work with. Uncaged: You live in New Zealand, but wrote a very realistic political thriller set in the U.S. Have you been to the U.S. before? How did you come up with such realistic depictions of the inside world of politics along with large agencies like the FBI? Believe it or not, I wrote the entire first draft of Issue 13 | August 2017 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | TUM without ever having left the shores of little old New Zealand. But in January last year my wife and I moved to London to travel and see the world. We visited the U.S. twice in our travels, and we made a concerted effort to see locations that I had written about in the novel. This resulted in a few changes to some of the descriptions of locations in the U.S. As to how I came up with the depictions in TUM, I really love learning about things that fascinate me. Which certainly helped as I spent hundreds of hours reading books, watching youtube, documentaries and movies while making notes of the details that I thought I could use in the story itself. Some things I made up, and that’s the fun of having a creative license within your writing!
first read The Hobbit when I was eight, and then Lord of The Rings the year after. My favorite author when I was a child was Brian Jacques, the author of the Redwall series of books, be warned, if you read any of them they will make you hungry! That man can describe food better than a celebrity chef! Also he brings talking animals and all their medieval troubles to life in a way that is sublime.
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?
Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you?
Uncaged: Now that you’ve released your first book, are you planning on attending any in-person book signings or conventions? At the moment there are no plans for any book signings or to attend any conventions. However, if people are interested they can buy signed copies from me directly, just email me at email@example.com for details.
If you have a dream, don’t give up on it! Make a plan, and break it down into manageable steps. It will help This year I’ve been reading War and Peace by Leo you to achieve your goals. Tolstoy (I started in January and I think I’m up to Life is short, we only get to live on this earth once and book thirteen) which has been deeply profound. we should make the most of the time we have. We owe Not to mention, incredibly long! Tolstoy has really it to ourselves and others to find a meaningful existence touched my soul with the level of conviction and where we contribute to society and the well-being of honesty that he brings to his writing, he excels at others, not just ourselves. I believe the power to achieve describing human emotion and experience in a that can be found and displayed through a relationship way that is simply unmatched by any other writer I with God. But that relationship is something that we have had the privilege to read. each have to figure out for ourselves. If you haven’t I’ve also burned through a couple of Lee Child read the Bible, give it a go, it’s one of the most inspiring thrillers, which I greatly enjoyed. Child has an books in the world and it’s full of amazing stories that amazing talent to produce book after book of entic- could change your life, I’ve experienced its life-changing, entertaining and excellent thrillers. Readers ing effects first-hand. might pick up on some of his influence in my writing. I love Charles Dickens, he was a master at plot construction and colorful prose. I’m a fan of Tom Clancy, David Baldacci and Robert Ludlum, action and thrillers are my favorites, but I enjoy reading all kinds of books. Edmond Hamilton, and H.G. Wells would have to be my favorite science-fiction authors. When it comes to fantasy, I love J.R.R Tolkein, I 24 | UncagedBooks.com
Enjoy an excerpt from The Ulterior Motive The Ulterior Motive Jack Coleston Political Suspense 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. Anna Carmichael is a legend. She’s one of the fiercest ex-members of the Special Activities Division, where she saw more than enough blood and war for a lifetime. Now, she’s still CIA, but stuck behind a desk and bored. Luckily for her, it seems her fieldwork isn’t done yet. For as soon as Anna’s partnered with rookie FBI Special Agent Blayze Phillips, she realizes his investigation is a lot more dangerous than it seems— especially when it turns its attention to the mysterious Caliph al-Maqasid. They know that the Caliph spent the last few years successfully uniting fractured terrorist groups in the Middle East. Now he’s formed the most well-funded, strategically efficient operation that’s on its way to becoming a true global caliphate. But who is the Caliph, really? Why doesn’t anyone know anything about this infinitely clever, charismatic, and terrifying man? And what, exactly, is he plotting next? The Carmichaels will have to work together to find out because the Caliph is about to strike at the heart of America. Excerpt The elevator doors swung open and a blast of hot air
| JACK COLESTON | hit Stanley square in the face. The air delivered smells of freshly burnt gasoline, carbon monoxide, and the acrid stench of something rotting in one of the nearby dumpsters. It was a stark contrast to the pure airconditioned comfort of the nine-by-nine steel box where he had spent the last two minutes of his fifty-floor descent. Yet Stanley was unfazed by the change because he was in an exceptional mood. Shifting his shoulders to settle his finest Italian suit jacket in place, Stanley used both of his hands to smooth the white cotton shirt collar that curved around his thin neck. He emerged from the elevator into the corner of a large rectangular parking garage. Rolling back his left jacket sleeve he glanced at his Rolex Submariner. The big hand rested on the twelve and the little hand pointed to the one. A big smile creased his face. Time could change anything, even the things that had always seemed impossible, like a childhood dream. Then the second hand stopped. He tapped the face with his forefinger in irritation. What’s going on? Stanley was jolted from his irritation by a disturbing commotion at the opposite end of the garage. The voices of men speaking loud and fast in a foreign language echoed above the distinct sounds of shoes squeaking sharp and harsh on the smooth concrete floor. Swiveling his head in one quick movement, his eyes locked onto the source. The timing couldn’t have been worse. Stanley’s eyes widened with fear and his mouth dropped open in shock. His mind raced and he tried to comprehend the sight of four men in black ski masks wielding silenced MP5 submachine guns. For a second it looked like they were coming towards him, until he saw them change direction, revealing the man they were carrying. It was a sight materialized out of Stanley’s worst nightmare. The kidnappers stuffed the limp body into the back of a waiting Range Rover. Issue 13 | August 2017 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | Fear coursed through him. No time to waste. The men weren’t taking notice of Stanley and he didn’t want them to. With all the courage he could muster he sprinted across the concrete. The white fluorescent light bounced off the polished surface and into his eyes, causing a dull ache in the back of his head. This is a bad idea; it’s a bad idea! Huffing and puffing, Stanley covered the distance to his car as fast as his long, skinny legs could take him. Behind him he heard a roaring engine and distressed tires echoing throughout the confined space. Don’t look back! Fumbling in his pocket with hands that shook like a fish out of water, he managed to grasp the fob with sweaty fingers and pressed the remote control to unlock his car. He reached forward and grasped the handle, swinging open the door of his black Maserati Quattroporte. Stanley threw himself onto the driver’s seat, his heart pounding so hard he feared that one of his ribs might break. Damn, damn, damn! Turning the key, the V-8 engine roared to life. Manage the situation, Stanley. Don’t let them out of your sight. Throwing the gear selector into reverse, he maneuvered the Maserati out of the parking space before slamming the transmission into drive, then he pressed the accelerator to the floor in frustration. The rear wheels screeched in loud protest and wisps of pale blue smoke curled up from the tires as they spun and fought for a hold on the slippery concrete. It took a few seconds before the tires found their grip. The engine shrieked and snarled like a wailing banshee. Stanley’s body was sucked back into the seat by the sudden gravitational forces at work on his lean frame. He spun the steering wheel in a frantic motion and the car drifted around the corner side26 | UncagedBooks.com
ways, then it hurtled at breakneck speed towards the exit. Swerving, he managed to avoid clipping a reversing car. Stomping on the brakes, the car decelerated to a stop as it reached the exit. Out of the corner of his eye he caught a glimpse of the rear end of the offending black Range Rover disappearing from view. Anna! Of course, what the hell am I thinking! She’ll be able to help. He pushed the speed dial for his wife’s number into the car phone. Anna’s line was busy. “Great, what am I going to do now!” He thumped the steering wheel and sighed. It was at a time like this that Stanley needed his wife with him. It was just his luck that she wasn’t. Maybe I can scare these kidnappers into … who am I kidding? These guys are obviously professionals. Reaching down for the semi-automatic Glock 17 fixed to the side of his seat caused his hands to shake more than they already were. Anna always kept the pistol cleaned and loaded for him just in case, but she always hoped he would never actually need to use it. The cold polycarbonate shell of the gun made him want to recoil while he removed it from its holster with the utmost care. He could smell the familiar chemical scent of the gun oil that Anna used on every gun they owned. Pulling back the slide on the top of the weapon as far back as it would go, he could feel the tough spring fight against his grip and the solid grooves digging into his skin. Letting go, it produced a resounding click and a fresh ninemillimeter cartridge was seated in the Glock’s chamber. Stanley received comfort from this gesture, however his hands refused to stop shaking as he placed it gingerly in the mouth of the center console. He jammed his right foot onto the gas pedal once more. The back end of the Maserati slid to the right and then left, fishtailing out onto the
| JACK COLESTON | road and missing the oncoming traffic by a hairâ€™s breadth. Turning away from the slide, the wheels regained their desperate grip on the blacktop. His eyes hunted for a sign of the Range Rover up ahead. The excitable Italian V-8 catapulted him forward faster and faster. He had to keep up with the kidnappers no matter what the cost. This was more than just a matter of life and death. It was an unequivocal issue of national security.
Uncaged Review I was very surprised to learn that this is a debut novel by an author, and itâ€™s an impressive first outing. This is a powerful political thriller that feels like a firsthand account of what could be going on today. The author takes you on a journey of kidnapping, espionage, terrorists and murder and has set the bar so high for both himself and fellow authors, that it will be very interesting if he can keep up the pace and the standards on his next novel. This is a home-run for suspense, and it will keep you turning the pages. Be aware that you will hit multiple POVs, although it blended well and was refreshing instead of confusing. This is one of those rare books that could easily translate to the big screen. Reviewed by Cyrene
Issue 13 | August 2017 |
showcase Carolyn M. Prince
The Revelation Unlocked The Revelation Unlocked
Carolyn M. Prince Religion Prophetic events in The Revelation of Jesus Christ have been locked from our understanding ever since they were given to John about AD 95. However, God has never intended that His people be in darkness during the fulfillment of latter-day prophecies. Daniel was told that the words of his latter-day prophecy were closed up and sealed till the time of the end. Then none of the wicked will understand, but the wise will understand. This is “the time of the end”! Now, at last, symbols in Revelation, as well as other parts of the Bible, are explained from Scripture in a way that can be easily understood. The Revelation Unlocked tells about the redemption of Israel and explains the series of events by which Almighty God will bring into effect His promises given in Genesis to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, ultimately revealing His supreme power over all creation. This enlightening, thought-provoking, and easy-to-read book includes many end-time details never before never before pointed out in scripture.
U.S. Review of Books “Although symbolism abounds throughout Revelation, each symbol used is identified elsewhere in Scripture…God does not rely on outside sources or circumstances to explain His Word.” 28 | UncagedBooks.com
Early in her book, the author provides clues to unlocking the Revelation of Jesus Christ written in 90 A.D. by the Apostle John. Prince has interpreted difficult passages in Revelation by analyzing translations of Hebraic and Greek words from Old Testament prophets as well as Jesus’ prophecies of end times. The chosen translation for a word was often based on the frequency of use. For example, skirts in the Old Testament are usually associated with shame. This may negate the common interpretation of who is revealed in Isaiah 6. Popular approaches to interpreting Revelation’s prophecies have changed over the centuries, beginning with the traditions of the apostles and elders. More recent approaches include viewing them symbolically (which has been popular since the 1800s), using technology-based applications, and personal revelation. The author has used a combination of symbolism and personal revelation for her study. Unlike the Left Behind series, Prince’s book rejects the rapture or catching away of believers. According to Prince, God’s promise that the seed of the righteous will not be cut off means believers must remain to populate the earth after the seven-year tribulation. This illustrates how looking at something from a great distance can often result in conflicting viewpoints. With normal sight, mountains and small peaks do not appear to be separated by valleys. This also applies to prophetic sight as no end-times author can know with certainty all of the details of what lies ahead. Regardless, interest is aroused within the general public regarding the mysteries of Revelation. Chapters 7 through 18 in this book address sequentially the better-known events of Revelation. Prince introduces the four creatures of Ezekiel’s vision and who they represent in the end times. Are the seven seals, the four trumpets, and seven vials all curses, or are some a holding back of judgment? Eventually, all nations against Israel will meet at Armageddon, in the Great Rift Valley—the earth’s lowest crust, for the outpouring of God’s wrath.
bookventure.com Like with other Revelation studies, the struggle lies between consistent application of interpretation and application. Interpretation is a prophetic explanation of a divine mystery, such as Jesus gave his disciples after the parable of the seed sown. Application acknowledges the original purpose of the text but applies it to another scenario. For example, the veil of the Jewish temple torn at Jesus’ death can promise new access to God for the church. Prepare to be surprised and delighted by the insights within Prince’s book. Her explanation of the concept of a Triune God illustrated by the relationship between ice, water, and steam is insightful. Her support of Jesus’ sinless nature is based on a lesser-known fact: Since the blood of a baby doesn’t develop and flow until after fertilization, she proposes that Jesus inherited only from Eve through his mother Mary. This book is highly-researched and stretches for over 300 pages including the index. Lengthy lists of symbols with meanings in each chapter/section take up over sixty of these pages. While cross-references to a separate appendix list of symbols and meanings could
improve chapter-by-chapter readability, Prince’s study is still intriguing and information-packed. It should prove useful to those who are interested in learning more about the last book of the Bible.
About the Author Carolyn M. Prince is a business, church, and civic leader residing with her husband in Loris, South Carolina. At a young age, she often saw latter-day prophecy different from the way it was presented. She thought she was just confused, but later the Holy Spirit led her to realize this may not be the case. She asked God to help her see the truth during Bible study; and when studying latter-day prophecy, most of the time, the Holy Spirit led her to understand it completely different from what was being taught by others. Prayerfully, she told God that if He would show her the truth from Scripture, she would write it down. After many years of Bible study, the answer to that prayer resulted in The Revelation Unlocked. Issue 13 | August 2017 |
B.J. Scott was a Feature Author in the February 2017 issue of Uncaged Book Reviews. We catch up with her this month to see what she’s been up to since we last chatted. Uncaged: You were a Featured Author in the February 2017 issue of Uncaged Book Reviews. How was your experience being in the magazine? Being in Uncaged Magazine was great, and much appreciated. I loved the professional quality of the magazine and the attention to detail. Thank you for featuring my Blades of Honor series in your magazine. Uncaged: Your newest release is Forever and Beyond, is a historical setting involving time travel. This is your second involving this twist. What inspired adding time travel? When I first decided to write a book—in hopes of being published—I ended up writing two. Scottish Historical Romance is and will always be my first love, but I also had a fondness for time travel, so combining the two made sense. When it came time to submit one to editors, I had a hard time choosing between them, but in the end decided on Highland Legacy, book one of the Bestselling Fraser Brothers Trilogy. This is a straight Scottish Historical Romance, which is a very popular genre and led to five other books in the family saga and more in the works. I always knew I would release the second book Forever and Beyond, but wanted to establish a brand in one genre before adding another genre. So often you see authors jumping from one genre to another before establishing a following and they end up floundering. When Duncurra LLC asked me to write a short time travel novella, Talisman of Light, I jumped at the chance to expand my hori30 | UncagedBooks.com
zons, after six years and nine books, I felt the time was now right to release Forever and Beyond as well. Uncaged: What are you working on now, and what can readers look forward to? I have lot on my plate right now. I am currently working on the third book in my Highland Hearts Afire series for Duncurra LLC. Legacy of Love is another Highland Time Travel that takes place during Samhain (Halloween) I suspect it will release mid to late October 2017, so watch for pre-order coming soon. While on vacation in Scotland, Gwen Lindsay visits the ruins of a Highland castle on the eve of Samhain and suddenly finds herself in early fourteenth century. In her efforts to find out how she got there and how to return to her own time, she uncovers some things about her own past, secrets that will affect her life and future forever. For those who might not have noticed the connection, my time travel books not only take place in Scotland, but each takes place on or around one of the Celtic festivals. I am also working on another book to go with the Fraser saga. Highland Challenge features Andrew Fraser, the son of Conner and Cailin (Highland Legacy) When Andrew returns to the castle in which he fostered as teen to assist the ailing laird to settle his affairs, he has no idea the primary task will be to find a husband for his only daughter, a challenge that could prove to be the battle of his life. If that isn’t enough, I am also writing a medieval novella as part of a new boxed set to be released early 2018. Four new novella with three fabulous authors Catherine Kean, Laurel O’Donnell and Ann Markland. Uncaged: Are you planning on attending any events (online or in-person) coming up in 2017 that you can tell us about? I live in Canada, so do not get to any of the events in the US. I do not have anything planned at this moment. I spend most of my free time with my husband when not writing.
| B.J. SCOTT | PLEASE NOTE! THERE ARE THREE AUTHORS WITH THE SAME NAME, BJ Scott, SELLING BOOKS ON AMAZON. We all write very different genres and are not the same author. I write historical romance, historical Time Travel and Paranormal romance. I have ten books currently published. Eight Scottish Romances and two Time Travel Talisman of Light and Forever and beyond published and more coming soon. MY BIO With a passion for historical romance, history in general, and anything Celtic, B.J. always has an exciting work in progress. Each story offers a blend of romance, adventure, suspense, and, where appropriate, a dab of comic relief. Carefully researched historical facts are woven into each manuscript, providing a backdrop from which steamy romance, gripping plots, and vivid characters--dashing alpha heroes and resourceful, beguiling heroines you can’t help but admire--spring to life C.S. Lewis first captivated B. J.’s imagination in the fourth grade, and her desire to write sprang from there. Following a career in nursing and child and youth work, B.J. married her knight-in-shining-armor, and he whisked her away to his castle by the sea. In reality, they share their century-old home in a small Canadian town on the shore of Lake Erie with 3 dogs and a cat. When she is not writing or making jewelry or other crafts, you will find her reading, camping, or antique hunting.
authorbjscott.com Enjoy an excerpt from Forever and Beyond
Forever and Beyond B.J. Scott Highlander/Time Travel Katherine MacDonald trades her luxury Manhattan apartment, high paying job, and abusive fiancé for what she believes is a rundown estate, deep in the Scottish Highlands, unaware that her future, and perhaps her very life, depends on secrets deeply rooted in the past. When she discovers a ring with a sentimental inscription and a journal written by one of her ancestors within the ancient croft, she suddenly finds herself in fourteenth century Scotland where she comes face to face with Ayden MacAndrews, a braw Highlander who has haunted her dreams since she was a child. Will Katherine and Ayden be able to right an ancient wrong? Will their love stand the test of time? Excerpt A warm breeze caressed her cheek and Katherine tipped her face toward the sun, hoping to catch the warmth of its rays. Lifting the hem of her ivorycolored gown she dipped her bare toes into the loch, then withdrew them quickly, the water still chilly from winter’s grip. With arms outstretched, she spun full circle, taking in the panoramic beauty of the burn, the glen, and mountains around her. Fragrant heather dotted the brae and meadow, along with bluebells and other assorted wildflowers. Highland cows and sheep grazed on sweet tender shoots of grass and a pair of hawks circled in unison overhead, in what she guessed was a mating ritual as old as time. Spring had always been Katherine’s favorite time of year, a time for fresh starts and new beginnings. And this one hadn’t disappointed, proving to be more glorious than others she recalled. Issue 13 | August 2017 |
| CATCH UP | “I nary tire of looking at you, lass. You always manage to take my breath away.” A warrior wearing a chainmail tunic, padded gambeson, trews, and leather gauntlets rode into the clearing on a black destrier. He quickly dismounted and strode toward her with purpose. “Have you been here long, ma gaol?” Katherine smiled up at him. “Long enough,” she answered playfully. “I am na a lass who likes to be kept waiting. You’re lucky I dinna leave before you arrived.” Not that she ever would. If truth be known, she’d wait an eternity if need be to see his face, to feel his arms around her, to be possessed by him, body and soul. She’d admired him and adored him for as long as she could remember. From the time she was a wee lass of no more than seven or eight summers, she’d trailed behind him and her older brother Warren as if she were their shadows, hoping to be noticed, praying that someday, when she was old enough, he’d fall in love with her. But she was a bairn, a freckle-faced twig of a lass doing her utmost to impress a young man who was eight years her senior. But he never shunned her and treated her with kindness. He encouraged her to learn things usually reserved for lads and praised her accomplishment, and, while she was sure he considered her a nuisance and wished Warren would leave her at home, he never once complained. It was like she had another brother, but deep down she wanted more. It all but broke her heart when he was sent away at age sixteen to foster with another clan on the northern shore of Scotland for the next five summers — a common practice for the son of a laird. But when he returned, things between them changed and so had she. At fifteen, she’d blossomed into a woman and had grown a woman’s heart. They’d shared their first kiss in this very meadow. And their relationship flourished from there. She knew her brother would approve of a union between her and his best friend and it meant the world to her — even if her father had other plans. After her mother died in childbirth, leaving her 32 | UncagedBooks.com
father an angry, bitter man, her brother became her world. She idolized him. When things seemed bleak, Warren was like her north star on a stormy night, her hope for a future, and one person she could rely on to have her back, no matter what she did wrong. He often served as a much-needed buffer between her and her father, and for that she was grateful. “If you’d left, you’d have missed out on this.” Her knight slid his arm around her waist, drew her against his chest, and nipped at her lower lip. “And this.” He buried his head in the curve of her neck, suckled lightly, then feathered kisses upward until he reached her mouth. Enveloped in warmth and bombarded by desire that ravaged her body like a wildfire out of control, she leaned into his embrace, her stomach doing a quick flip and moist heat pooling between her thighs. Her knees suddenly weak, she fisted his tunic for support. “You know it is na easy to get away from home and na have my da or my brother follow me,” she mumbled against his lips, then kissed his cheek. “I’m a woman grown, but Warren still treats me like I’m a bairn in need of his protection and advice.” “Warren cares about you. But I dinna think you need to fash about his disapproval. Your brother and I have been friends since we were bairns, and he has told me many time that he is in favor of our relationship,” he replied. “But it matters na. When we’re married, you’ll only answer to one man.” He lowered his head and nibbled at her bottom lip again. “Me.” A possessive growl rumbled in his chest as he tightened his hold and kissed her soundly. He slid the tip of his tongue across her mouth, willing her to open to his sweet invasion. When she gasped with pleasure, he deepened the kiss, plundering without mercy. Breathless, she planted her hands on his chest and shoved until their kiss was broken. “If we marry.” She lifted her gaze until it met with his, then slowly took in the contours of his finely chiseled features. He was the handsomest man she’d ever seen and what he could do to her insides with just his presence had to be a sin. But he was not her father’s choice for a husband. His brows dipped. “Dinna toy with me, lass. You know we’re meant to be together and it’s only a
| B.J. SCOTT | matter of time afore we wed,” he replied. “In fact, I plan to speak with your da this evening at the feast. I’m going to ask for your hand and his permission to marry you before the garrison heads out to challenge the English bastards who threaten to take Stirling Castle.” “When do you leave?” She clung to his shirt. “Two days hence.” She clutched a hand to a knot of emotion choking her throat. “Why, even if my father did agree to our union, there isna enough time to have the banns read.” “We can dispense with the reading if the priest so chooses. And if I have my way, by this time on the morrow, we’ll be husband and wife.” His brows shot up and a mischievous grin tugged at his lips. “And after a night of wedded bliss, you’ll be glad to see me go, thankful for the rest.”
Issue 13 | August 2017 |
feature author Kerri M. Patterson is the bestselling author of two highlander novels and her bestselling series Bound by Honor. She mainly writes historicals and now publishes as K.M. Patterson.
Stay Connected Right now, I’ve retreated from social media because of threats made to my family online. So, for the time being I’m not on Facebook or anywhere else except my blog. I can be found at: authorkerrimpatterson.blogspot.com (and I’m aware it isn’t very up to date. I’m sorry! My primary way to contact was through Facebook up until this incident occurred and I will update it as soon as I can).
36 | UncagedBooks.com
Uncaged welcomes K.M. Patterson! Uncaged: I read Belonging to a Highlander and completely enjoyed the book. Something I like to ask historical writers, is about the research. To me it seems there is a lot more information to take into consideration for historical novels. How much research do you do for your works? How long do you research before you begin writing? Thank you so much for interviewing me! Yes, historicals do require much more research in my experience. When I’m plotting a novel, I do a little research in the beginning to make sure things work historically because it’s always better to catch something that may be major early on before I have it all worked a certain way in my head. Belonging to a Highlander had a few of those snags in its first stages, all because of one or two mentions in Bound to a Highlander that I didn’t think would ever cause me a complete rewrite (or three) of the plot for Belonging. After I’ve completely written out the framework for my story and I’ve made sure everything works on the major points, I do a lot of the minor research as I’m writing to add historical texture to the scenes. So, research is pretty much a daily thing for me, even through edits.
Uncaged: Do you read your reviews on your books? Do they influence your story or writing at all? Often I will though I have a lot less time to read them now than when my first book released. When I do get to read them though, good or bad, I love hearing that someone read one of my stories. Books are very subjective and a bad review doesn’t offend me. It’s understandable. The reviews I have read in the past ranged from one extreme to the other but as far as an influence, I don’t think so other than pushing me to write more. My stories are very dear and special to me. They are each something that I’ve spent a lot of time with and no one’s opinion can change them. Uncaged: You also write in the contemporary genre. What is coming up next for readers to watch for? My contemporary series, Bound by Honor, is somewhat on hold for now. There is a conclusion coming, but I can’t say when exactly. A lot of writers write one series at a time and finish it before moving on. In a lot of ways that is wise because fans don’t like to wait. However, and this goes for any book, if I can’t get into a story and feel like I’m writing it the way it deserves to be written then I just won’t. It’s too much of a disservice to that story that I love and I won’t rush it. I know what basically happens in the last book (there is just one more)
but it’s just not all there yet. So, until the day comes when the last Bound by Honor book is ready to appear, readers can look for more historicals. I’m currently working on the story for Tamsin (from Belonging to a Highlander) and the man she chooses (who may or may not have arrived with the rest of the suitors at the end of Belonging to a Highlander). I also have a regency family series I’ve been working on for what seems like forever and one day I may actually publish it (we have a complicated relationship, me and that story). I have no set date for either of those but hope it won’t be too long. I also have the beginnings of a series set in France that has been teasing my mind for a long time. I’m very excited about them all and look forward to sharing them with everyone. Uncaged: You are a military wife and mother. Are you settled now in one place, or could you be transferred again? Being so busy, when do find time to write? Currently, we are stationed at Fort Carson in Colorado and I can’t wait to move again! Every day I ask my husband if he’s called branch yet to ask about orders. I would love to settle somewhere, just not here. There’s some amazing scenery but it Issue 13 | August 2017 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | doesn’t make up for the dryness, or the snakes, or the other things that dig up my yard every day, or the almost daily hail storms . . . I could go on but I won’t. My husband has a few years until retirement, so if we move again, it’ll be the last time for us.
of the military lifestyle and having a young child I haven’t done any signings or conventions yet. I would love to in the future though.
I will say I have written less in the last two years than ever, which I’m not happy about. My daughter is growing up too fast and I often feel like I’m caught in a whirlwind of children running in and out of my house. I do try to set myself a schedule though and there is a strict policy in our house about when mom is in her office.
I would like to say thank you! Thank you for taking the time to pick one of my books out of a multitude of others. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve teared up after reading messages from fans. It really warms my heart to know someone loves one of my stories as much as I do. Nothing is more special to an author.
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? Historicals are my all-time favorite and I love series. I feel like you can get so much more in depth versus a stand alone, where by the end, you feel like you just got into it. The genre for me doesn’t have to be historical romance either and I’m open to many genres and love reading in general. Julia London, Karen Marie Moning, Diana Gabaldon, Suzanne Enoch, Johanna Lindsey, and George R. R. Martin to name just a few. One day, when we settle down permanently, I plan on having a large library in my home and filling it from floor to ceiling. Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? My family is quite active and we hike and exercise a lot. If I’m by myself I like to spend time in my garden or cook. Uncaged: Do you plan on attending any inperson book signings or conventions? Have you in the past? There are none scheduled at present and because 38 | UncagedBooks.com
Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you?
Enjoy an excerpt from Belonging to a Highlander Belonging to a Highlander K.M. Patterson Medieval/Highland Romance Hugh McCross wants nothing more than to retire from the life of a mercenary. He has carefully crossed out his remaining debts, staining his hands crimson in the process and his heart a shade blacker with every battle. Yet, one last due stands to be repaid. All he has to do is take an innocent lass from the safety of an abbey and use her to subjugate her father’s keep and lands. It would be a simple thing. Or so he believed. Catriona McBruiey thought nothing of becoming an imposter the night she jumped at the chance to save a friend from a terrible fate. Kept pure among the sisters in Atholl since she was of a young age, but with no forthcoming betrothed, what had she to lose? Everything, as it turned out. But she did gain one handsome, devilish highlander in the process. Excerpt Hugh McCross sat atop his warhorse in silence. He
watched the men standing sentry behind the parapets of McLaren’s keep. Unwavering gazes and stormy expressions peered down on Hugh and his men, yet something else glimmered in the eyes of the other highlanders. Hatred? A sense of betrayal at his presence? Hugh sighed and shifted in the saddle. He liked being on this side of McLaren’s walls even less than the men standing atop the high, stone ramparts liked staring down on him and the contingent of Highland warriors at his back. A small screech ruptured the cold, blustering Highland winds of the late-winter morn. The strangled sound stung Hugh’s ears. He chuckled at the peal of resentment and turned to Alaric, his second, as the man hoisted the young woman in front of him. He pushed her through the front line of his men all the way to Hugh’s side. Alaric’s scowl said everything, and Hugh grunted in humor, his lip curled upward under his dark beard as his stare drifted to McLaren’s daughter. The lass had been his most troublesome captive for the past month, traversing halfway across Scotland with him and his men, the abbey he had stolen her from far behind them now. The wind whipped the lass’s golden-brown hair around her small frame. The loose strands lashed in havoc with each wintery gust, and the look about her twisted something in Hugh’s chest. The painful urge that her gentle, silent image evoked coiled something in the region of his heart. Though, in a moment like this, he certainly questioned if he possessed such a thing at all. Years of war had hardened his heart, he supposed. “Och.” The light sound of regret spilled from his lips. Hugh shook his head. “Damn you, McAlison.” The eyes of McLaren’s daughter danced with something other than impertinence when she met his stare this time, a thing she had never been afraid to do. She jutted her chin at him and, he thought himself deaf for a moment, but she laughed. A lass did not laugh in this situation, unless she were addled. Having dealt with this one aplenty, he knew she certainly was not addled. She was crafty and conniving, this wee hellcat.
| K.M. PATTERSON | A lengthy month had passed since he had stolen her away from the nunnery in Atholl, stretched longer because of his stay with his friend and distant cousin Gabhran McBray. Indeed, this meeting with McLaren was terribly overdue. Perhaps he had stayed overlong with Gabhran simply to ignore this duty, this last debt to be paid. And his part in this lass’s and her clan’s future. Alas, he wished beyond measure to see the errand done with so he could return to his own home and at last lay to rest his days as a mercenary—and strike out the one, last standing debt he owed. Hugh grimaced at the thought of McAlison as he lifted himself and swung down from the saddle to take the lass in hand. His fingers curled around her small arm and dug a little deeper than warranted, enough to elicit a hiss of aggravation from the shedemon. His lips twitched upward at the corner, and Hugh started toward the wall for the lass’s father to have a better look at her. His powerful, merciless stride caused the woman to trip and stumble in the snow. Her delicate grumbling lifted the corner of his mouth under his beard. Hugh jerked Tamsin McLaren in front of him and looked up at her father with the complete confidence of a man about to win a long-standing battle. The laird could have the wee hellion back and good riddance. He might feel a twinge of pity for her, but this was nothing compared to the hell she had given him since Atholl. If McAlison wished to wreak vengeance upon Laird McLaren, having the man’s daughter returned to him was surely the way, for the lass caused more mischief than he had prepared for. “Open your gates and surrender, McLaren. I have your daughter here and if you wish her back withoot harm, you’ll be giving McAlison what he wants,” Hugh yelled up at the man standing above him. McLaren’s gaze swept over Hugh and the woman as he pulled his deep-red cape tight about his shoulders. The man’s dark eyes bored into them without emotion. Silence curled around them, thick and heady, as the emptiness snaked past Hugh and his captive. The Issue 13 | August 2017 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | void wound through the camp of Hugh’s men. Horses and men alike stirred at the eeriness the silence provoked. Then, after several long moments passed, McLaren tossed back his head, the deep laughter of the laird and his men raining down on Hugh and all those at his back. Hugh stood motionless, watching them, a tremor of anger twitching in his cheek. “What in all the hell?” Alaric growled behind Hugh’s back. “What trickery is this now?” he asked, stalking forward to Hugh’s side. Hugh glanced back to see his second’s eyes boring into the back of the lass’s head. Alaric stood just behind the McLaren’s daughter, at her shoulder, and looked poised to pluck her up and shake her at any moment. The burly highlander’s hands were clenching and unclenching. “Indeed,” Hugh said through his teeth, though only the woman before him heard as he growled against her ear and gave her a shake. “What is the meaning of this?” he whispered, his voice harsh. “Is this more of your mischief, lass?” She turned her head to look at him over her shoulder and lifted a brow. “Oh, I’ll no tell you, Hugh. Telling you would spoil all the fun.” Hugh growled at her before turning his attention back upward, to the men still laughing at him. “What is the meaning of this, McLaren? How can you laugh when I’m holding your verra daughter before you so?” The men hooted and laughed even more. His veins thumped madly. Hugh clamped his hands into fists until he could stand no more. “I’ll have an answer,” Hugh shouted, the baritone of his brogue rumbled over the walls and carried the deadly threat of his anger. All went quiet at the booming sound of his voice, and McLaren’s humor faded. The man wiped the back of his cuff across his dark beard and his stare landed on the woman trapped in Hugh’s hands. McLaren leaned over the parapet, bracing his arms on the wall. “Och, I would give a mite of concern,” he said, and then paused as he looked the woman from 40 | UncagedBooks.com
head to foot. “That is, if the lass were my daughter.” His chest shook with barely contained humor. “But seeing that she’s no…” He looked to his men and their laughter rose. “McCross, someone has played you for a fool. Lass—” The laird turned his attention to the woman, “Whoever you are, truly, ‘tis a debt I owe you.” “Damn you,” Hugh said as he whipped her about to stare down on her. He held her tightly to him in his ineffable fury, savagely searching her gaze for the truth, but alas, he only found humor there in her striking blue eyes. The corner of her lips quirked upward, and she tilted her chin at him as she had done countless times over the last month on their sparse meetings in her tent, when he had gone to assure himself she was indeed still there. A tightness clamped around Hugh’s gut as he continued to search for an explanation. He raked his gaze angrily over her, a feeling of incredulousness that this could be happening washed through him like a flood. Then realization hit him. Why had he not seen it before? His eyes stilled on her hair. This lass was not the daughter of any McLaren. Her hair was a bonny shade of brown with gold and red streaked through, as though she had spent day after day outside under the warm sun. Even fools knew McLarens by their fair skin and dark hair. Hugh cursed himself and pulled the woman around, handing her off to Alaric. “How did you find yourself serving at the hand of McAlison?” McLaren asked. Hugh’s eyes traveled up the stone wall, his stare cut at the man. He glared as he gathered his hands before himself, his fingers laced together to keep from reaching back to strangle the lass Alaric held. “A debt owed,” Hugh called up. McLaren slowly nodded once, all traces of humor gone. “A debt,” he said. “Be wary of those. I, too, once owed McAlison a debt.” His voice fell to a disparaging tone. “I regret that obligation to this day, for being beholden to McAlison claimed two sons and now I learn from you that my daughter is in danger as weel.” With a pained look, McLaren started to turn his back on Hugh, but stopped. His eyes filled with a
| K.M. PATTERSON | burning hate. “McCross, my son has likely paid the ultimate price for his sins. You ken McAlison has taken him prisoner.” He paused on a wave of emotion and looked out over his lands before he reined in his apparent fury. “My son and heir is likely dead.” The man sniffed back what Hugh thought might be tears before locking his stare with Hugh’s. “You’ll no take my daughter from me, too. Tamsin shall no pay for her brother’s crime, though you and I verra weel ken there was no crime at all. So, you can freeze to death out here, but I’ll no be letting you inside my keep so long as you are under orders from McAlison. No for the sake of her—” he lifted a finger to Hugh’s captive, “no for anyone. McAlison will no be winning this round, and if I were you, I would find another to fight for despite any debt.”
Uncaged Review I had a good time reading this book. As far as Highlander books go, this wasn’t the most original plot and even though I guessed who the villain was early in the book – it was an enjoyable journey getting there. Catriona is kidnapped trying to protect her friend Tamsin from the abbey, and when it comes to light that she isn’t who she says she is, the mercenary Hugh, that took her, may just have to marry her to his dismay. Catriona is a spitfire, stubborn and very impetuous, and keeping her safe becomes an issue when she doesn’t think before rushing head long into a bad situation. But a lot of these actions also hides her low self-confidence about herself and that could be from being the bastard daughter of a man and losing her mother when she was young. At times you want to shake her and push her into adulthood, but she’s still a very likeable character. Hugh can be a bit overbearing – but you are still rooting for this couple and their HEA, if they can get to it. The suspense and bit of danger keep the plot moving along without slowing down the story and I’d actually like to see more books with a few of the supporting cast.
Issue 13 | August 2017 |
ColletteCameron A Diamond for a Duke
A Diamond for a Duke Collette Cameron Historical Romance
A dour duke and a wistful wallflower—an impossible match until fate intervenes one enchanted night. Caution: This Historical Regency Romance contains a duke who literally thumbs his nose at society, a sweet and intelligent wallflower with a secret dream, a villainess worthy of a fairy tale, and two delightful match-making dowagers. Buy this book for an emotional, entertaining, and romantic fairty-tale meets Regency world adventure you won’t want to put down.
Excerpt First Meet Scene Wending between the numerous pieces of furniture in the moon’s half-light, Jules smacked his shin into the settee. Pain spiraling from calf to knee, he softly cursed and bent to rub the offended limb. “Dammit. Must Theo constantly rearrange this room? Two hell-fired times since December.” A startled gasp, swiftly stifled, had him jerking upright, whacking his shoulder this time. Bloody hell. “Who’s there?” Silence met his inquiry. Had he stumbled upon a lover’s tryst? A thief? A wayward servant or inquisitive guest? He fingered his throbbing shoulder, pressing the pads against the pain. “Reveal yourself at once.” Silence. Running his fingers along the settee’s back, he located the pedestal sofa table. Other than shallow breathing, the culprit kept quiet. Squinting, he made out a light-colored form reclining on the dark blue and silver striped cushions. A woman, and by all the stampeding elephants in Africa, he bet his silver buttons, and the two new bruises he surely
sported, he knew who laid there. Like a slowly uncoiling rope, the tension eased from his taut muscles. He fumbled a bit until he found the engraved silver tinderbox beside the candelabra and moments later, a wax taper flared to life. “Hello, Your Grace.” Miss Jemmah Dament, her rosy lips curved upward in a small closed-mouth smile and her face still sleep-softened, blinked groggily. Hello, indeed. Adorable, sleepy kitten. He lifted the candle higher, taking in her svelte figure, her delectable backside pressed to the sofa, one hand still cradling her cheek. Surprise and carnal awareness, pleasant and unexpected, tingled a rippling path from one shoulder to the other. The plain, awkward little mudlark had transformed into a graceful dove. One who rivaled—no, by far exceeded—her sister’s allure. “Well, hello to you as well, Miss Jemmah Dament.” As if it were the most natural thing in the world to be found napping during a ball at her aunt’s house, and then awoken by a man crashing into her makeshift bed, she sat up and brushed a wayward curl off her forehead. Jules set about lighting the other three tapers. Their glow revealed striking pale blue, wide-set almondshaped eyes, fringed by dark lashes, and tousled hair somewhere between rich caramel and light toffee. He hadn’t seen her up close in— How long had it been? Cocking his head, he searched his mind’s archives. At least since last summer. Bestselling, award-winning author, COLLETTE CAMERON pens Scottish and Regency historicals featuring rogues, rapscallions, rakes, and the intelligent, intrepid damsels who reform them. Mother to three, Collette admits to a quirky sense of humor, enjoys inspiring quotes, and anything cobalt blue. A self-confessed Cadbury chocoholic, she lives in Oregon with her miniature dachshunds. You’ll always find dogs, birds, occasionally naughty humor, and a dash of inspiration in her sweet-to-spicy timeless romances.
collettecameron.com Issue 13 | August 2017 |
feature author Toni V. Sweeney was born in Georgia after the War between the States but before the Gulf War. She has lived 30 years in the South, a score in the Middle West, and a decade on the Pacific Coast and now she’s trying for her second 30 on the Great Plains, specifically in Lincoln, Nebraska. Since the publication of her first novel in 1989, Toni divides her time between writing SF/Fantasy under her own name and romances under her pseudonym Icy Snow Blackstone. In March, 2013, she became publicity manager for Class Act Books (US). She is also on the review staff of the New York Journal of Books online. Ms. Sweeney began her writing career following a devastating auto accident and extended convalescence. Finding herself a single mother with a small child precluded little money left over to buy books to read, so she did the next best thing…she began to write her own, sharing them with friends and co-workers. Eventually someone dared her to submit one for publication… and the rest, as they say, is History. Toni currently has 74 published novels to her credit. Earthman’s Bride, written as Icy Snow Blackstone was the recipient of the 2008 Maryland Romance Writers Reveal Your Inner Vixen Fiction Award for Speculative/Other Romance. A Vietnam-era romance, Jericho Road, placed 8th in the 1997 National Writers Association Novel-writing Contest for that year. She has received numerous Reviewers Choice awards from the Paranormal Romance Guild’s annual review. 44 | UncagedBooks.com
Uncaged welcomes Toni V. Sweeney Uncaged:You’ve been writing a long time, and you write in several genres. What is your favorite genre to write in? I guess I would have to say Fantasy. When writing in that genre, you can make it either SciFi/space opera, paranormal, or horror. It simply depends on which way the story is slanted and exactly how much the author tweaks it in a particular direction. If you wanted to be really wild, you could probably manage to combine all three! Uncaged: Do you read your reviews on your books? Do they influence your story or writing at all? I read all my reviews. On occasion, I’ve even been known to take the criticism to heart and give the book in question a hard look and see if the points are valid.( I’ve also thanked reviewers on occasion, also.) Uncaged: What is coming up next for readers? In July, I began what is probably my most ambitious endeavor…a 15-book, 2-part series, The Arcanian Chronicles. It’s an epic family saga. Part 1 is The Narrative of Riven the Heretic and is a fantasy set in a very early medieval-type locale. Part 2, The kan Ingan Archives, is space opera with a futuristic locale. There’s plenty of
battle scenes, difficult decisions, and romance, of course. Recently, someone called it Game of Thrones meets Star Wars.
Uncaged: Where do all your ideas come from for storyline plots? Do you record all the plot ideas, characters, etc. before you begin writing? I glean ideas from many sources…a phrase someone uses, if I don’t like the ending to a story or movie… I’ve even used dreams! MY novel Serpent’s Tooth came from a dream I had. I know I probably should write my ideas, etc., down before I begin, but I general have only a bare outline and one or two characters’ names, usually the main ones, when I start a new book. 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 mysteries and horror/paranormal. One of my fa-
vorite authors is JD Robb. I really like her Eve Dallas “In Death” series. I also like Bill Schweigert’s novels. He uses American myths as his subject matter. I had the pleasure of reviewing a few of those for the New York Journal of Books. I prefer reading series because if I like a novel, I want to read more about those characters. Recently, I convinced a friend who said he was going to end his series, to write at least one more novel because I liked it so. Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? When’s that? LOL. When I’m not writing, I’m reading. Yes…really. As I mentioned earlier, I do book reviews for the New York Journal of Books, as well as the Paranormal Romance Guild, so I get plenty of ARCs from publishers. I also have 12 filled bookcases in my apartment. (Barely room enough for me and my computer!) Otherwise, I try to watch a little TV. Uncaged: Have you been to any book signings or conventions? Have you done an online release party or plan to in the near future? I’m afraid at the moment, my..ahem!...extreme age (I’m 74), prevent me from doing much traveling, Issue 13 | August 2017 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | to rule his planet for three thousand years.
unfortunately. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? I’d say I hope they enjoy my novels and anytime they’d like to let me know, they’re welcome to. I can be found on Facebook, Amazon’s author page, and I also have a Twitter account
Enjoy an excerpt from The Man from Cymene The Man from Cymene Toni V. Sweeney Epic Fantasy Trygare kan Ingan was a boy of sixteen when the Drune priest told his parents he was to be the father of kings. Sent into the world on a shortlegged hill pony, his father’s sword at his side, the young glynn dweller sets out to fulfill the prophesy. Along the way, he’ll slay dragons and men, find love and lose it, and feel the horror of the Bloodsong coursing through his veins before the moment tragedy and scandal force him to flee Cymene for a foreign land where his true fate lies… …to become the ancestor of the dynasty foretold 46 | UncagedBooks.com
Excerpt Surrounded by greenery and a jumble of boulders and rocks, the stream tumbled down, forming a little waterfall filling the small pond below it. Near the waterfall sat a girl, a skinny little thing. Her blonde hair wasn’t falling about her shoulders the way the girls in Glynkillen wore their hair, but was twisted into two long, straight braids reaching to her waist. She was wearing a dress similar to the ones they wore, however, though there seemed to be much more of it, and she had her skirts hiked up to her knees, splashing her bare feet in the water as it gurgled, and poured into the pond. She was talking to someone, her voice as small as she, and as high-pitched as a droning gnat’s. Looking away from the girl, Trygare saw her companion, another lass, but this one… Oh, she’s a beauty. She was in the pond, bouncing and splashing. He had a brief glimpse of a rounded breast as she rose from the water, then sank into it again. Her hair was gilt-gold, paler than wheat but darker than dandelion floss, the most beautiful stuff he’d ever seen. It floated around her on the water’s surface like some kind of waterweed. It was she who’d been giggling, and as she swam across the pond in smooth, even strokes, she did it again, to something the smaller girl said. The water looked so inviting, as did the girl, that Trygare decided then and there traveling was such hot work he might need a bit of cooling-off, too. Truth of the matter, looking at that girl was making him feel much, much warmer. Releasing the hedge, he let it fall back into place, and untied Mistian’s reins. He swung into the saddle and rode around the hedge and across a small pile of broken branches and brush, to the edge of the pond where it sloped into the water. “Good e’en, lasses.” He pulled Mistian to a halt one moment before the pony would’ve stepped into the water. Their answer to that was to squeal and shriek. The little one jumped to her feet and the one in the water
| TONI V. SWEENEY| sank lower into it. “Wh-who are you?” she quavered. “Just a traveler who’s been on th’ road for three hot days. I’m thinkin’ it’s time I stopped t’ let me mount rest an’ cool me body in this fine pond a bit.” He slid from the pony’s back, letting the reins drop. Raising one arm to sniff at the thick cloth where it crossed his chest and wrapped over his shoulder, he went on, “It appears I could do with a good wash, as could m’breacan.” “You can’t bathe here,” the little one spoke up. “An’ why not?” He turned to glance at her, one brow raised. “B-because we’re here,” she stammered, “Why should that matter?” He waved a hand at the water while pointedly ignoring the girl in it. “Seems t’ me yon pond’s big enough for three. E’en more, truth be told.” He turned to look at the water, giving the swimming girl a direct blue-eyed stare. She shivered, or at least, he thought that’s what that little wiggle was, making waves ripple the surface. “Looks invitin’, too.” Turning, he pulled loose Mist’s cinch and slid the saddle from the pony’s back. Mist snorted gratefully as the weight he’d been carrying lessened. “You aren’t going to come in here,” the girl in the water spoke. “Who’s goin’ t’ stop me, might I ask?” Setting the saddle upside down on the grass, he looked back at her. “I will.” It came out surprisingly forceful. “You?” He didn’t mean to laugh, but the idea of a lass keeping him from doing anything was so amusing he gave a loud snort. Standing on one foot, he began to work open the ties on his boot. “Just how do you plan t’ do that?” “You’re a trespasser. This is my pond and I say you won’t come in. Now go away.” With one hand, she made a shooing motion, rising out of the water to do it, then sinking down quickly. “Your pond? Hm.” Trygare thought about that a moment, stroking his chin as he’d seen his father do when confronted with a problem. He looked around. “I dinnae see any signpost markin’ this as your property. Last I heard, nane o’ this land belongs t’ anyone,
’ceptin’ maybe Chev Cormac, so unless your Da’s th’ chev, I’d say you’re trespassin’, too.” He gave his attention back to his boot, wishing he hadn’t tied the strips of leather wrapped around his calves so tightly The little one spoke up. “I’ll have you know, she’s…” “Hush, Tessa,” the girl in the water spoke so sharply the little one fell silent. Treading water, she studied Trygare a moment. “You can’t swim while I’m here,” she said decisively. “So if you insist on coming in, I’ll get out.” She didn’t move, however. “Come ahead.” Trygare beckoned with one hand. “I-I can’t.” “No? Why’s that?” “Because you’re there.” She nodded at him, then at a small pile of garments a few feet away. “And my clothes are there.” “Is that what those are?” He could see a pair of stockings, a kirtle and a chemise, all folded neatly beside two pairs of slippers. “Do nae let me stop you. Though I do wish you’d hurry so I can get off some o’ this road-dust.” She didn’t move. Neither did the little one. “Well,” Trygare sighed loudly. “Seems you nae in a hurry to leave th’ water, an’ I’m thinkin’ you’ve got th’ right idea.” He abandoned his boot to look up at the sky, shielding his eyes with one hand. “It’s such a lovely day. Think I’ll just sit here a bit an’ take in some sun before I bathe. An’ while I do that, we can have a nice chat.” Pulling the end of his breacan out of the way, he dropped to the ground, sitting cross-legged. “Oh!” Amid a great splashing, the girl whirled around. “The least you could do is make sure your shirt, or whatever you call that thing you’re wearing, doesn’t gape.” Looking down, Trygare saw that the tail of his kylte was rucked up over his thighs, giving the lass a fine view of his privates…if she’d been looking, that is. At the moment, she was very carefully studying the trees on the far side of the pond. The wee one on the bank was giving him an eye, however. She’d put a hand over her eyes, Issue 13 | August 2017 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | though she left enough space between her fingers to peep through. He ignored her. She looked too young for his attention. “It’s called a kylte, an’ is what all men from Glynkillen wear.” Carefully, as if it were his idea and not because he was attempting to be modest, he tucked in the hem and settled himself. “Now, isn’t this cozy, just you an’ me an’ th’ sprite there?” “Who are you calling a sprite?” the little one demanded. “I think ’twas you.” Turning his head, he looked her up and down very solemnly. “Yes, I’m certain o’ it…sprite.” “Why you…” She raised a diminutive fist. “Tessa.” The girl spoke with authority. Tessa relaxed, settling back onto her rock. It grew very quiet, the only sound the crunch of Mistian’s jaws as he chewed his grass. The sun began to slip behind the far hills. Trygare again concentrated on his boot. The sprite shifted uneasily on the rock and the girl continued to splash, though her movements in the water became slower and slower. “You can come out any time you want,” Trygare called. “Do nae let me bein’ here keep you from goin’ on your way.” “Y-you’d like that, w-wouldn’t you?” “Aye,” he agreed. “I think I’d like that verra much.” He was certain it wasn’t anger but the fact that the water was getting colder as the sun went down that made her words tremble. In fact, he thought he saw a definite bluish tinge to those full sweet lips. “Isna th’ water gettin’ a trifle chill about now?” “Tessa?” The girl looked at the sprite. “I believe we must act.” The sprite looked back, nodding. With a cry so loud it startled not only him but Mistian also, they charged him. The pony bolted. The girl rushed toward the bank with a frantic splashing, kicking and spraying water in all directions, and the little one ran from the boulders, straight toward him, waving her arms and shriek48 | UncagedBooks.com
ing. As she bounded up the bank, the girl stooped and snatched up a fallen branch. Before he realized what was happening, she was beating him about the head and shoulders with it while the little one kicked at his shins with her bare feet. “Ow! Oh! Hey!” Attempting to dodge was like trying to get away from a swarm of bees. They seemed to be everywhere. He caught the little one by a wrist and put his hand against the girl’s forehead, feeling her hair wet and silky under his palm as he pushed her far enough away that she couldn’t strike him. “Now, listen, lass, there’s nae need t’…” Someone pushed, his ankles were struck. He went down, face-first into the dirt as a heavy weight landed on his shoulders. The sprite. “Now stay down, you big bully!” Damn, she was heavy for such a little thing and he truly couldn’t get up. All he could do was flounder in the dirt. “Keep him there until I get dressed.” Out of his line of vision, he heard movement and the swish of garments. Then, “I’m ready, let’s go.” The weight came off his shoulders and they scampered away, the sprite hopping on one foot and then the other as she put on her slippers while she ran. Before he could roll over and get to his feet, they were through the hedge and gone. “Damn.” He watched the two disappear behind a tree. A few feet away, Mistian snorted. Trygare was tempted to ride after them, but caution stepped in. What if their cottage was nearby and he went galloping in and they had brothers who might not like a stranger following after their sisters? If the older one told how he’d kept her from her clothes and had actually laid hands on her… It might not be pretty what would happen next. Well, th’ lasses are gone, but th’ water’s still here an’ I’m still hot, so… “Damn, but she was pretty, was she nae, Mist?” Standing on one foot, he finished untying his boot. “Feisty, too. That’s th’ kind o’ lass I like, one with spirit.” He got the boot off and dropped it to the grass, be-
| TONI V. SWEENEY| ing careful to make certain it lay so the sgian dubh, tucked into its sheath at the top of the boot was within reach, just in case there really were some angry brothers who might be on their way back here. See the Uncaged Review of The Honest Rake in the review section.
Issue 13 | August 2017 |
Short story Danger - Road closed Ahead, PT 2 by JB. Woods
| SHORT STORY |
This short story will be brought to you differently than in the past. Each month you will receive a chapter, so come back each month to read the full story.
Danger - Road closed Ahead pt 2 JB. Woods
They didn’t hurry and they arrived at the Hotel Wegner on the outskirts of Hannover late Sunday afternoon where they took advantage of the long summer evening to go for a walk in the local area. There was a Garden Centre close by and they spent time gossiping with the proprietor, taking photographs and making notes before they left after buying some seeds and a pair of high-tech secateurs. On Monday they took the tram into the town centre and played at tourists where Hunter indulged his taste for locally brewed lager. ‘The real stuff,’ he called it. He also took the opportunity to buy a large sports bag, two holdalls, some car blankets and a spare petrol can. They transferred their stuff from their suitcases to the holdalls that evening but before that he asked Anna to try the sports bag for size. She found that she was able to fit in the bag if she curled into a foetal position and he lubricated the zip with the lead from a pencil so that she would be able to slide it easily from the inside. ‘Why are we doing this, Hunter,’ she said with a frown. ‘I don’t know, I have a funny feeling.’ Hunter was on his second beer after dinner when they were approached by a familiar figure. The hair was thinner but the marks left by childhood acne were unmistakable. He stood up and greeted their visitor by his familiar 52 | UncagedBooks.com
name and not the derogatory one ascribed to him in those far off days of when they had joined the Army together. ‘Chas—Chas James. So you’re ‘Orpheus’? Well I’ll be darned. What the hell are you doing here?’ They shook hands. ‘Hi, Hunter, who could be none other than ‘Orion.’ I’ve come to see you.’ James presented a blank business card and said, ‘That which is crooked cannot be made straight.’ It was unnecessary but Hunter took a corresponding card from his pocket and gave it to James before replying, ‘And that which is wanting cannot be numbered.’ How long have you been in this business, Chas?’ ‘Long enough. I transferred to the Intelligence Corp straight from Apprentices School and then spent three years in Cambridge doing languages before going into the field. Can I sit down?’ ‘Yeah, sorry.’ He turned slightly. ‘Chas, I’d like you to meet Anna.’ James nodded. ‘We’ve met on her previous outings. Get me a beer, Hunter, and let’s get down to business.’ Anna declined and Hunter ordered a beer for James and one more for himself before venturing. ‘Okay, to what do we owe the pleasure?’ ‘Hunter—there’s been a change of plan. We’re not happy with it but our Russki friend insists. Tomorrow you’ll go through Checkpoint Alpha at Helmstedt at precisely four o’clock and travel at fifty-five miles an hour. This is a little over the speed limit but gives you approximately ten minutes to pull over at the hundred-kilometre post. How you disguise your stop is up to you. The changeover will take place there.’ ‘How does Anna get back?’ ‘Our contacts are aware of the change and with a little jiggling she will return by the usual pipeline.’ ‘Are you sure. I don’t want her ditched in the middle of nowhere.’ James paused before he answered. ‘Oh… She’ll be alright, Hunter,’ and then added, ‘you pair have become an item, haven’t you?’ Hunter gave James a puzzled look. He wasn’t happy
| JB. WOODS | with the answer. To disguise his discomfort he raised his glass and said, ‘Cheers. Let’s talk about old times.’ The following morning Hunter and Anna padded the sports bag with hotel pillows. They left the suitcases behind which he thought a fair exchange before checking out early for the eighty kilometre drive to Helmstedt where they arrived shortly before lunch. From a Bier-Garten nearby they watched the Checkpoint and made a note of how long it took a car to clear before going into Helmstedt where they purchased two bottles of Johnny Walker Black Label whisky. They arrived at Checkpoint Alpha at 1540hrs and joined the queue. With an obligatory glance at their passports they were waved through by the British Military Police and drove the hundred metres to the East German Guard Post. Their passports and documents were confiscated and they were made to unload and open every bag before the car was searched. He then had to drive over a pit and the underside of the car was checked and he became nervous when other cars, although delayed, were being let through much quicker. Much to his relief they were eventually released ten minutes late at 1610hrs. which meant they had to drive much quicker to be at the rendezvous on time. That they were in the East Zone was immediately apparent by the state of the road. In the West it had been a smooth and exhilarating drive. Here it was a vibrating nightmare. They drove in silence and to all appearances everything was normal until the seventy kilometre post when Hunter noticed a Volks Polizei wagon some three or four hundred metres behind them. Instinctively he slowed down to the statutory speed limit and the wagon did also. He slowed some more only for his manoeuvre to be mimicked. ‘That’s odd.’ Anna jerked awake when he spoke. ‘What is, Hunter?’ ‘That damn Police Wagon behind us. He’s maintaining station whatever I do. I think we’ve been
sussed.’ ‘What are we going to do, Hunter?’ ‘I don’t know. I’ll think of something. Whatever we do we must warn them of our predicament but not do the exchange.’ He drove strictly to the speed limit until they approached the 100Km marker. ‘Get ready, Anna. I’m going to stop a hundred metres past the post and when I do you jump out, dive into the bushes and drop your pants. Have a pee.’ As they passed the marker he gave the horn a quick beep before he pulled in and switched on the hazard warning lights. Anna flung open the passenger door, jumped out, ran around the front of the car and disappeared into the bushes. The Police reacted as he expected. With its sirens blaring and blue lamps flashing it pulled in behind them and two armed Volks Polizie ran to the car while two others with their guns at the ready stood facing the scrub on the side of the Autobahn as if expecting something to happen. With his sub-machine gun unslung one came around to his side of the car and ignoring the rules of the International Agreement concerning protocol on the Autobahn he tapped on the window and gestured for Hunter to get out. Before he was fully out of the car the Voppo said, ‘Vos gibts? Warum hast du gestoppt?’ Hunter mumbled, ‘Nichts furstein.’ ‘Why you stopping?’ ‘My wife. She is sick.’ The spook on the other side of the car came around and followed Anna’s path into the bushes but quickly stopped when he saw her squatting with her slacks and panties around her ankles. ‘Ich glaube ich spinner,’ she said, ‘Can ich nicht schiesse ohne zuschauer?’ The spook turned away abruptly and muttered, ‘Enshuldigung, bitte. Ich habe nicht gedacht.’ ‘Macht’s nicht.’ And then in English she said, ‘It must have been something I ate.’ She dressed and walked past him to the car where she found Hunter with both hands on top of the car and the policeman searching him. Issue 13 | August 2017 |
| SHORT STORY | ‘What’s going on,’ she cried indignantly, ‘can’t a lady do number two’s now?’ Hunter shook his head in admonishment. When they had finished with him they did a thorough check of the car and ten minutes later unable to find what they wanted they begrudgingly waived them on their way. ‘Well done, Anna. Whoever was waiting for us must have seen and heard the clamour and hopefully buggared off. We’ll continue with our journey and stick to the original plan.’ Wary about their intentions the Police followed for a further thirty kilometres and they arrived at Checkpoint Bravo in Berlin a little outside the allotted two hours. Anna’s explanation of her emergency was accepted and after a little haggling with a Russian Guard, Hunter swapped his Parker Biro for a cap badge and they were waved through. Expecting to cross into the East Zone on Friday, Anna made the most of the intervening two days in the Shopping Malls while Hunter paid a call on the Commanding Officer of Wavell Barracks. After a few minutes of discussion a scrambled message was sent to London and the reply was noncommittal as he was told to await further instructions. He returned to the Hotel and had barely tasted his lager when Chas James joined him. ‘What do you want this time, Chas? Your info the last time was crap.’ ‘I don’t know what went wrong, Hunter, but I want you to delay until Saturday and then stick to the original plan.’ ‘What do you mean—Delay until Saturday and stick to the plan? How can we? We’ve been sussed already.’ A breathless Anna arrived loaded with bags and threw herself down beside him and when she had settled he told her the news. He looked directly at James when he spoke. ‘And so, lass, I’m not sure if we should go on? That do yesterday was a set-up. 54 | UncagedBooks.com
They were expecting us and obviously they know our mission. I think we should abandon the car and fly home.’ ‘There maybe someone waiting for us, Hunter. It’s our mission.’ ‘Bloody Hell! What a mess. Anna—I’ve only just met you and I care for you.’ She saw the pink flush rising above his collar. ‘I don’t want to do anything which may put you in danger. I’m being selfish, I know.’ ‘No you’re not, but a lot may depend on getting this woman back. I know the ropes but I think maybe we should vary our route home.’ ‘There you go. You’re suspicious like I am.’ She ran around the table and flung her arms around his neck. ‘Hunter—I love you and I feel like you do, but it’s our job. We have to go on.’ He leaned into her and squeezed her hand. ‘You’re right, lass. Let’s enjoy ourselves for an extra day.’ He turned to James. ‘And you, mate, can tell your bosses that the bloody expenses bill has just gone up.’
Watch for Chapter 3 next month
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feature authors dark fantasy
feature author R. H. Dixon is a horror enthusiast who, when not escaping into the fantastical realms of fiction, lives in the northeast of England with her husband and two whippets. When reading and writing she enjoys exploring the darknesses and weaknesses within the human psyche, and she loves good strong characters that are flawed and put through their paces.
Uncaged welcomes R.H. Dixon. Uncaged: The horror genre is not a normal go-to genre for me, but I have to say, A Storytelling of Ravens is a major home run. What inspires stories like this? Thanks! I’m very much inspired by every day situations and objects. As it happens, A Storytelling of Ravens was prompted by a new handbag and a painting on the wall of a local Italian restaurant when I was on a night out with friends in November 2015. Both the handbag and the painting featured ravens, and given that I’m a huge corvid fan, I took this as an omen that it was about time I wrote a story with ravens in it. From the outset, as well as featuring a bunch of ravens, I was interested for A Storytelling of Ravens to explore the group dynamics of four strangers who find themselves thrown together and stranded in a cabin in the woods. I wanted to create a story filled with such emotional negativities as paranoia, distrust and hurt, while emphasizing the feeling of complete claustrophobia, to see how the characters would react to and interact with each other. It’s rumoured that the raven-filled trees in the woods can talk, driving anyone who can hear them to madness, which creates an immediate sense of outside danger. And as Shirley Jackson did with Hill House in The Haunting of Hill House, I was keen to anthropomorphise the cabin so that it would be seen as this
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As much as I love working on short stories, these days I tend to work mainly on novels, so I know from the beginning that I need to come up with an idea that has the staying power to last the duration of an 80k word manuscript. Uncaged: You are an inspiration to people diagnosed with MS, showing that this disease won’t stop you from achieving your goals. Thank you for showing that no matter what our abilities or disabilities are, we can overcome many obstacles. You are writing a book with a main character that is diagnosed with MS also, called The House Next Door. Do you have an estimate when that will be released? I hope to release The House Next Door in August 2018. It’s currently in the first draft/planning stages.
breathing, watching, sentient presence that posed an inside threat to the four housemates, thus making them feel completely trapped and vulnerable. Uncaged: Do you read your reviews on your books? Do they influence your story or writing at all? I believe all writers are on a continuous journey of selfimprovement, so I do read my reviews. If they have a valid message to be taken away, I take both positive and negative feedback on board. Uncaged: You also have some free short stories on your website, how do you decide what becomes a short story, and what storylines are better suited to a full length novel? All of my short stories began with a brief in mind (competition entries and e-zine submissions etc), so they all had an initial prompt and word count target. I would have liked to have explored Dempsey’s Demons as a longer piece maybe, but even so I think at most it would have reached no more than a longer short story in order to maintain the desired effect. Indefinite Fear is a particularly short story at just 1700 words, but I think it was essential that it was this short in order to deliver the intended punch. It’s a very subjective and emotive piece that might have got lost to sentimentality had it been longer.
The protagonist, Sophie Harrington, is by no means meant to be me, but we share some very similar experiences, so the project has been cathartic in regards to dealing with my own diagnosis. It feels right to raise awareness of this indiscriminate autoimmune disease in this way. MS totally has its place in horror. But as well as the illness itself, there’s a malevolent spirit in this book who I think will turn out to be my most depraved, horrific antagonist so far. The House Next Door is set to be sick, twisted and deeply disturbing – and I’m very excited by how it’s panning out so far. 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? Typically, I tend to absorb myself in horror. My favourite authors include John Ajvide Lindqvist, Shirley Jackson and Ramsey Campbell. Their work is very character driven. They focus on the human psyche and manage to maintain a level of relatability because of their use of everyday scenarios involving people who could easily be our neighbours, friends, family members – or ourselves. I also love Susan Hill’s gothic ghost stories and George R R Martin’s fantasy and horror, because he’s a master storyteller. I enjoy a lot of Stephen King’s work and am very excited to see what his son Joe Hill has in store for the future. I do read book series now and then, but given the option I prefer standalone stories. Issue 13 | August 2017 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? In a nutshell, my life consists of books, horror and dogs. I’m addicted to reading. My ‘to read’ pile is threatening to outsize the Burj Khalifa! I love exhausting Netflix’s horror section. And I have two whippets, Marvin and Delilah, who are my little sidekicks. They’re pretty much with me 24x7. I also collect animal skulls to put on the bookshelves in my office. So whenever I’m out walking with the dogs I’m always on the lookout for new additions. The crow skull on my logo is one I found while out walking along the path that’s shown on the front cover of A Storytelling of Ravens. Incidentally, the raven itself is the first ever raven I saw in real life (on the Icefields Parkway between Banff and Jasper in Canada). I do love travelling whenever possible, in the UK and abroad. I’m a wildlife enthusiast and love taking in scenery and nature wherever I go – especially where there are skulls to be found! Uncaged: Do you plan on attending any inperson book signings or conventions? Have you in the past? I recently had an official launch event for A Storytelling of Ravens at a local library. I’ve done indie book shop signings and library tours in the past and would love to do so again. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? I’d like to say a massive thanks for taking a chance on my work! And I hope you’ll stick | FEATURE | – I have plenty more in around for AUTHOR the long haul store for you. The best way to follow me is by signing up to my Reading Room (monthly newsletter) via my website or by following me on Facebook.
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Enjoy an excerpt from A Storytelling of Ravens A Storytelling of Ravens R.H. Dixon Horror/Thriller Four people. Three secrets. One cabin. No way out. British actress Callie Crossley is kidnapped and dumped outside a cabin at the edge of Whispering Woods. All she has is a scrawled message: DEAD TO ME; and two unexpected housemates: a former sitcom star (who looks like hell) and a girl in a wheelchair (who is full of hell). When film producer Torbin Thurston, a man Callie knows personally, turns up at the cabin, Callie has no idea who she can trust anymore. She seems to be the only one who can hear strange whispering and it’s not long till she realises that there’s something dangerous lurking outside in the woods. But are the rumours about Whispering Woods true? Do the trees really talk? And, for those listening, does what they say lead to blood-lust and madness? One way or another, Callie must find a way out before she is consumed by the darkness of Whispering Woods. Excerpt ‘What do the trees in Whispering Woods talk about?’ Sarah Jane asked. Uncle Dean shrugged. ‘Suppose that depends on what it is they have to tell you.’ His blue eye sparkled with mischief, but his dead one conveyed a solemn truth. Sarah Jane’s own eyes glittered with excitement.
| R.H. DIXON | She shifted her weight to her right leg, so her arm was touching his. ‘Do you know any stories? About any of the people that have gone mad.’ ‘A couple.’ He smiled; his teeth were white and straight and somehow, falsely or not, substantiated genuineness. ‘There used to be a man lived here as it happens. Old Mally Murgatroyd.’ ‘You mean here?’ Sarah Jane pointed to the floor. ‘In this cabin?’ ‘Yep. He lived alone. Went doolally. Some say it was cabin fever, but maybe he’d always been a tongue sandwich short of a picnic.’ ‘Sounds like the picnic was better off that way,’ Pollyanna said. She was looking out of the window from across the room. Next to her was Roxanne Miller. ‘You think?’ Uncle Dean seemed to consider this. He scratched his chin and the whiskers there sounded coarse against his fingertips. He smelled of cologne; a citrus musk. Sarah Jane breathed him in, becoming more and more inebriated on infatuation. ‘One evening, late August, quite some years back,’ he said, his voice still low, ‘something really awful happened here.’ It was then, right at that moment, Sarah Jane felt a change in the atmosphere, as though Uncle Dean’s words had commanded a shift in the fabric of reality. She imagined the room was listening and changing mood to suit, altering to accommodate his story like an emotional chameleon that recognised their morbid interest and need for tragedy. All at once every bit of warmth that the earlier sun had left behind was spat out through the open bedroom door and the air became instantly cold; as cold as the blue of the covers on the two single beds. Sarah Jane shivered. She looked out at the woods, needing and longing to know its darkest secrets so she could ponder them as if they were her own. There was a murderousness about Whispering Woods and she wanted Uncle Dean to go right ahead and weave its stories into the here and now so she might glimpse beyond its frontline, to see what was really in there. To feel what it was like. To know if its insides lay
ghastly and stinking beneath countless deciduous summers or if the frostbite of each winter was enough to have cleansed the horror of the trees. She wanted to walk through the undergrowth with Uncle Dean leading the way, the pair of them kicking up dead leaves with the toes of their boots. She tingled with excitement and all the while was aware of a delicious warmth on her arm – the warmth of him radiating through the fabric of his shirt sleeve. ‘What happened that was so awful?’ she asked. ‘Some broken-down motorists on their way home from a camping trip stopped by. A man, a woman and their two kids.’ ‘Then what?’ ‘Take a guess.’ Again he smiled; it was a smile that didn’t denote any sense of favourable outcome for the family in the tale, but a smile that crushed down on Sarah Jane’s heart nonetheless, adding more weight, more pressure, till it actually hurt. ‘Old Mally Murgatroyd killed them?’ she asked. He drummed his fingers on the sill, a quick-fire sequence of confirmation, then pointed a finger gun at her. ‘All except the small boy.’ ‘But why?’ He shrugged, looked puzzled for a moment as though he’d never considered this, then said, ‘Why does anyone do anything?’ Sarah Jane pressed her arm even closer against his. ‘How did he do it? Kill them, I mean. Did he butcher them?’ ‘Sarah Jane!’ Roxanne Miller, still standing by the doorway, folded her arms over her chest. ‘Why do you always have to be so bloody horrible?’ ‘Did it with a filleting knife,’ Uncle Dean said, seeming not to hear Roxanne Miller’s voice, let alone her disapproval. He was staring out of the window now, trancelike, unreachable. The room was breathing all around them. In. Out. In. Out. Big. Small. Big. Small. ‘Hacked all three of them up, right there in front of the little boy.’ His head Issue 13 | August 2017 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | jerked round then, and he regarded Sarah Jane with the most intense blue. ‘Can you imagine that? His mam. His dad. Then his big sister.’ Sarah Jane could. She half-smiled. ‘Then what?’ ‘Old Mally Murgatroyd, he sautéed their flesh and made himself a stew for dinner. Made the boy eat some of it too.’ ‘Oh come on, Dean,’ Roxanne Miller objected. ‘Once he’d had a bellyful,’ Uncle Dean went on, ‘he left the boy here and went out into the woods and hanged himself.’ ‘Wow.’ Sarah Jane was still trying to determine if he was winding her up, but the white of his dead eye made it impossible for her to tell. ‘But why? Why would he do that?’ ‘The trees, they told him to. That’s just how it is, sweetheart. Those touched by the madness of Whispering Woods do all kinds of crazy stuff. It’s like the trees…’ ‘Dean!’ This time Roxanne Miller made sure she was heard. Uncle Dean turned to her, startled, fully aware, his thoughts completely back in the room with them. ‘It’s okay though,’ he said, raising his hands in apology, ‘not everyone hears the trees anyway.’ ‘What happened to the boy?’ Pollyanna asked, her voice a ghostly addition to the conversation. ‘Stayed here,’ Uncle Dean said. He edged away from the window, his eyes not leaving Roxanne Miller’s. ‘How long for?’ ‘Hard to say.’ ‘Where is he now?’ ‘Look, I think we’ve all heard enough silly stories for one day,’ Roxanne Miller said. She was glaring, but her eyes lacked any real reproach. ‘I’m sure tales like this aren’t good for young imaginations.’ ‘Yeah, sorry. I, uh, I’m sorry.’ Uncle Dean winced and Sarah Jane hated her mother more than ever for having made him look momentarily weak. It wasn’t a look befitting an ex-army 62 | UncagedBooks.com
sergeant. He owed her nothing, least of all an apology just because she was too feeble-minded to deal with the truth and the more unsavoury aspects of life. Roxanne Miller shook her head and flashed him a different kind of sullen look which, deliberately or not, gave way to a certain sexual tension that brought a touch of uncomfortable warmth back to the room. She then turned and made off towards the lounge and Sarah Jane scrunched her fists tight, her nails burrowing into skin, when she saw how Uncle Dean sighed after her. The memory of the orphaned boy who’d eaten bits of his parents and sister lingered in the uncomfortable silence like a stewing argument and Sarah Jane thought of ways to encourage it. But nobody said anything for a while. ‘Maybe I’ll tell you the rest some other time,’ Uncle Dean said at last. ‘Can’t you now?’ Sarah Jane said, hopefully, her hands relaxing a little. ‘She won’t hear. And I won’t tell.’ Uncle Dean laughed and nodded. His blue eye shone. ‘You’re funny, kid.’ But he turned and left, taking with him the knowledge of Whispering Woods.
Uncaged Review This is one tricked out story. We start out with a couple separate storylines, but don’t worry, they will merge together quickly. At the base of the story, is four people that are “hostages” in a cabin – where there is a ghost town nearby and things that live in the forest and come out only at night. None of these people have anything in common, except they are all stranded and can’t leave. But do they really have nothing in common? This book never slows down, and you will be in for quite a ride. Even though I guessed about half way in parts of it, the author twists and turns the plot so well, that you begin to doubt your own conclusions. I don’t know that this is a “typical” horror book, it
| R.H. DIXON | read more like a psychological thriller to me, but the result is still the same. As the characters struggle to find answers, you will be engaged right along with them â€“ and the writing is excellent. The author will toss in a great twist at the end that I didnâ€™t see coming. And did I mention there are ravens? Terrific read. Reviewed by Cyrene
Also by R,H. Dixon
Issue 13 | August 2017 |
feature author Rachel Rust is the author of young adult books. In both reading and writing, she loves all things mysterious, romantic, and thrilling. If it’s a whodunit, she’s all about it... especially if it ends with a kiss. When not making up stories, she can usually be found with her family and their two dogs— a chug and a pug. Rachel is published by Evernight Teen Publishing.
Uncaged welcomes Rachel Rust! Uncaged: Right now, I’m in process of reading The Watched Girl, the second book in the Escape Series. How many books are you planning for this series? The Escape Series is a trilogy, with the third and final book, A Girl Scorned, releasing this fall. And I’m so excited you’re reading The Watched Girl. That book was written during a hectic time in my life, and its pages served as a reprieve—an “escape,” if you will—from the stress of every day busyness. So needless to say, I love it! Uncaged:Do you read your reviews on your books? Do they influence your story or writing at all? Yes, I do read reviews. They’re proof my stories are out in the world and people are reading them! Obviously, good reviews are more fun than critical ones, but I take them all in stride, reminding myself that everyone reads books through their own unique lens. Much like authors write through their own lens. Those lenses usually align, but sometimes they don’t and that’s okay. Uncaged: What is coming up next for readers?
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As mentioned, the final book of The Escape Series, A Girl Scorned, is releasing this fall through Evernight
Teen. I also have a YA paranormal/horror ready for submission. The book is partly based on a real life, century-old mass murder. A gruesome story that has always given me the chills. I’m super excited to share it with the reading world. Uncaged: I was “all in” for the first book, Or the Girl Dies, which is your 2nd published book, correct? How do you plan out these type of books with all the intrigue, suspense and twists, do you have intricate outlines? Yes, Or the Girl Dies is the first book in The Escape Series, but it’s my second published book. My first book is the YA romantic mystery, All Kinds of Bad (a standalone novel). And as for intricate outlines? Oh yes, I am the Outline Queen. Writing any kind of mystery is a complex adventure, so I start with an outline before writing the rough draft. I keep vast notes on my computer, but I also keep a trusty 50-cent notebook by my side for handwritten scribbles, as ideas and issues spring to mind. Books with twisty plots are ripe for plot holes, so I rely on beta readers, and allow myself plenty of time to revise and edit. 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 read widely in both YA and adult, and my favorite stories are anything with suspense…mysteries, thrillers, horror, etc. Anything that keeps me intrigued, scared, or confused (in a good way). And I love book series. I mourn the last page of a good book, so if I can continue reading about beloved characters in subsequent books, I’m all for that. It’s probably no surprise that my favorite authors write in my favorite genres. I grew up reading Christopher Pike and R.L. Stine. Then came Stephen King and Mary Higgins Clark. A couple of years ago, I started reading the Jack Reacher books by Lee Child, and immediately fell in love with his clean, concise writing style. Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of new-to-me indie authors. Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? When I’m not writing, I’m thinking about writing. True story. But I also enjoy hanging out with my family and our two dogs (one pug, one pug mix). I watch too much Netflix, travel whenever I can, and read a lot. Uncaged: Do you plan on attending any in-person Issue 13 | August 2017 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | book signings or conventions? Have you in the past? Once all three books of The Escape Series are out, I do plan to have book signings. Right now, I’m in the initial planning stage of those, and ordering some cool, book-related swag to giveaway. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? I’d like to say, “Thank you times infinity!” You have no idea how much you mean. Writing is often a solitary task, and it’s easy for authors to feel as though we’re writing in a void where no one is paying any attention. So to know that our books— our beloved stories and characters—have made their way out into the world, and into the hands of readers, is a feeling that’s difficult to describe. And I love, love, love hearing from readers. You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You can also email me via my author website. Don’t be shy!
Enjoy an excerpt from Or the Girl Dies Or the Girl Dies Rachel Rust Young Adult/Thriller One school project. One kidnapping. One night they won’t forget. Natalie is an honors student with perfect grades. Victor is a drug dealer with a cryptic past. When a school assignment forces them to work together, things quickly spiral out of control. Victor fails to complete his part of their project, 66 | UncagedBooks.com
so Natalie hunts him down the night before it’s due. But Victor’s kingpin boss interrupts their study date and drags Natalie down into a seedy underworld where anything can be bought and sold—including her. Over the course of one night—while dodging bad guys and trying not to inhale—Natalie discovers shocking truths about Victor. And she’ll need to choose between preserving her perfect academic future and helping him escape his troubled past. Except one final revelation about Victor may be too much for Natalie to survive. Excerpt Victor’s eyes had fixated on the rearview mirror. He downshifted, slowed down, and wedged himself into the next lane of traffic. “We’re being followed.” His gaze held steady, watching behind us in the mirror. I made a slight movement to look over my shoulder. “Don’t look,” he said. “Stay facing forward.” He shifted gears. “Got your seatbelt on?” “Yes.” My skin prickled under the weight of unseen eyes and a cold rush of blood coursed through my veins. Terror was outdone only by the pounding of my heart in my ears. Victor hit the brakes and we fishtailed off the street and into a narrow alley, jamming my shoulder into the car door. The alley was barely wide enough for one car with a row of garbage cans sitting outside of dingy, rusted back doors to various businesses. My eyes squinted half-closed as though that would protect us from other cars or people or flying bullets. I had watched enough TV to know that fleeing down an alley didn’t always produce desired results. Victor slowed down at the end of the lane, then turned right into a grocery store parking lot. He weaved in and out of the aisles, and then backed into a parking space with a view of the alley. We sat there in silence with the car in first gear and Victor’s body visibly tensed for a solid couple of minutes before I developed the nerve to speak.
| RACHEL RUST | “Who is following us?” I asked. “Was it the guy in the white car that was at your house?” Victor’s phone buzzed. He stared at the screen, jaw clenched, then scanned me head to toe. “Where do you live? We gotta go to your house.” “What? Why?” “Because you need different clothes.” I sucked in a quick breath. “What’s wrong with my clothes?” Getting fashion shamed by my friends was one thing. Being criticized by a guy whose t-shirt looked like it hadn’t seen the inside of a washing machine in years was a whole other level of rude. “Nothing’s wrong with your clothes, but you can’t wear that.” I glanced down at my jeans and sneakers. “Everyone wears jeans.” “Not where we’re going tonight.” “Oh no,” I said with a laugh. “I’m not going anywhere with you tonight. Especially not if you have scary people following you.” Maybe I had been hell-bent on making him help me with our school assignment before, but being encountered by a mysterious man in black and then chased down an alley had knocked my determination down a few notches, and increased my self-preservation. Maybe I could convince Victor to come to my house and work on our project there, and then once we were finished he could go off on his demented adventures with whatever crazy people he called friends. “You have to come with me,” he said. “You have no choice.” “The hell I don’t, I’m not —” Victor shoved his phone in front of my face. A text message stared back. Go chat with LB and bring the brunette. Dress her nice. “The brunette,” I said, my voice barely a whisper. “Me?” His silence confirmed it.
Uncaged Review High school, only ten days left until graduation, and the teacher pulls a partner assignment, and Natalie gets stuck with the biggest loser in the class, Victor – who seems to sleep the whole way through the class. Rumor is he’s a major drug dealer and a complete jerk – but if she doesn’t ace this assignment, her GPA will falter and her scholarship to college could be lost. This book spans over a 24 hr period and when her teacher and her father tell her she needs to figure out how to work with her partner, she sets her mind to make sure the assignment gets done. This is the night from hell, and the twists and turns this novel takes will have your head spinning. Natalie gets more than a high school senior could bargain for, and we are left on a roller coaster of danger and intrigue, and even though you are on the edge of your seat, there is a bit of humor to break up the tension. Natalie is thrust into a world she could never had imagined and all she wanted to do was keep her 4.0 GPA. Great fun. Reviewed by Cyrene
The Watched Girl Rachel Rust Young Adult/Thriller Where do you run when there’s nowhere to hide? After barely surviving a dangerous school project, Natalie Mancini is relieved to have her normal life back. Until she’s terrorized by a vengeful associate of the drug trafficker she helped arrest. Along with Eddie and the FBI, Natalie fights to save herself from an opponent more powerful Issue 13 | August 2017 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | than the last. But outrunning the watchful eyes of her new enemy may prove impossible. Natalie and Eddie grow close as they struggle to escape danger once again. And details begin to surface about why they were put together for their school assignment. Was their pairing more than just coincidence?
Uncaged Review This book picks up soon after the events in book one, and it starts out with a major bang. You are thrust into the action within the first few chapters, and Natalie is back into the thick of it. If you thought the first book was fast paced, this one does it justice. The sophomore slump is nowhere to be seen. Natalie is kidnapped in broad daylight, and Eddie is MIA. Smacked around, and taped up, she’s too be sold to a human trafficker – whose lost a lot of money from Natalie and Eddie’s interference in book one. But the bad guys aren’t the only ones that have been watching Natalie, the FBI has been keeping tabs on her also. If you like a fast paced storyline that keeps you on the edge of your seat and turning the pages – this set is highly recommended. The intrigue, the betrayals, and even the romance get a jumpstart in this one. As good or better than Or the Girl Dies, all I can say to Ms. Rust, is write faster please. Reviewed by Cyrene
Don’t miss this title
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feature author I’m a Native Texan, born and raised close to the heart of the state. Also I’m a stay at home mom/ housewife, as well as a Lupus Warrior. Thanks to the encouragement of friends and family, I found a passion in writing paranormal romance books. Anything fantasy usually suits me and my novels tend to be able to reach anyone in multiple genres. I also create art journals that can be cross generational from thirteen to sixty years younger, My goal with these types of books are to reach people who need that extra feel good in their lives.
Uncaged welcomes Kristen Collins! First off, thank you so much for taking the time for the interview! Thank you so much for having me here with you, and for this interview. It’s a real honor.
Uncaged: What got you started writing paranormal romance? As of this writing, you’ve just released Hybrid Love, an anthology of both Grimm Love and The Child with Silver Eyes, the latter I’m reading now. Why did you decide to package these stories together? I have always read Paranormal Romances since I first got hooked on Twilight and Fallen. Then my love for that genre just grew and mature from there. Grimm Love was my first novel to ever write. I thought about what I would love to read as a reader, something original and different. I’m obsessed with Angels and
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Writer you have to keep that in mind. There will always be someone who doesn’t like your books. It is what it is, but I take every review as constructive criticism and try to make my novels better because of them. Uncaged: What is coming up next for readers? I have lots planned for the next year! I plan to start writing the third book in the Hybrid Love Anthology in fall. I am currently finishing up my novella, Down the Rabbit Hole, which will be available April 15, 2018 (Maybe even sooner) It’s part of a Multi-Author Series called The Happy Ending Resort (Spoiler Alert: They’re all free or .99 on Amazon!) Uncaged: When do you find time to write? Do you need quiet, or can you write anywhere?
their history and try to do extension research on the subject as much as possible. My love for them started with church, and I found myself asking my Pastor all these questions to help me really understand them. Back to the subject at hand, I packaged the two together because they go together. Grimm is about Sky and her story, whereas, Silver Eyes is about Mia and her life; and what happened after Sky found her soulmate. You will see a whole new Mia, very different from the the personality that you saw in book one. When Grimm was published, I had fans asking if Mia and the twins would get their own stories. At the time is was only going to be a standalone but then with the overwhelming requests, I had a talk with Mia and her story unfolded pretty smoothly. Uncaged: Do you read your reviews on your books? Do they influence your story or writing at all? Yes, I most certainly do. They do influence my writing quite a bit, although you can’t please everyone and as a
This is a funny one I’m asked a lot of the time, but the truth is I just make the time. I am a mother of three and I have a part-time job as a Secretary. So on my days off I try to write and when my kids fall asleep around 8 pm, I write too. My lunch break at work, I write some more. It really has become a passion and it’s worth every minute. You can say that I can write in the quiet (Which is preferred with my writing jam playlist on YouTube) but I can write while my kids are screaming and running around like chickens-with-their-headscut-off too. I remember while I was writing The Child with Silver Eyes, I was subbing at the local school and wrote by hand about 2 chapters while the kids there did their work. 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 just finished up a series by my favorite Author, Elisa Amore. The Touched Saga, man... You wanna talk about originality and inspiration that’s the Author to get hooked on. She’s a great person as well. Author S.R. Mitchell is another Author Issue 13 | August 2017 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | I love to read, she writes historical Paranormal, a Highland Series about some sexy Scotsmen and some damsel going back in time by freak accident. Let’s just say it get hotter from there… Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? Movies with my kids, and church Bible studies etc... I actually just got back from a Mission trip to Alaska. It was an amazing experience and very eye opening. The people there are just as friendly as most Texans you would meet. Uncaged: Do you plan on attending any in-person book signings or conventions? Have you in the past? No, sadly I have not attended any book events but I’m hopeful that I will get to in the future. I have really wanted to but with funds and family, things get crazy. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? Honestly, I would just like to say Thank you. Each and every one of you. Y’all have been amazing with sweet messages and notes of inspirations. It makes me the happiest when someone asks for another book or if so-and-so is getting their own story.
Enjoy an excerpt from The Child with Silver Eyes
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The Child with Silver Eyes Kristen Collins SciFi/Fantasy Ash was just your average Alpha, his pack was loyal and they had not been visited by trouble in years. Life was good. Life was simple. That is until fate decided to mess around and not only place his mate in the picture but also a dying Angel that fell from the sky with her baby. In a single moment his life was forever changed. Protect the hybrid child to serve good and keep her out of the Lucifer’s hands. If evil was to get a hold of her she would be the world’s undoing. Life for Mia hasn’t went well since leaving Ouray and everything she had ever known. Then by chance she meets Ash Stormcloud and his adoptive daughter, Tibby. Tibby is a beautiful child and Ash is alluring, pulling her in a way that other men never have done before. Things take a turn for the better until Damon, Tibby’s father, and Alpha of the HellHound pack decides to come searching for Tibby. In a fight of good versus evil, who will win? Excerpt “So, are you a nurse? I noticed you’re wearing scrubs,” I asked curiously. “Yeah, I just moved from Colorado; the year-round winter-like weather just wasn’t for me. My family had a shop there for generations. I don’t know how to explain it other than I needed a change of scenery. I guess I just felt the mountains of New Mexico were calling my name for too long, so I decided to settle down here. I love my job, though; helping others is just my passion in life,” Mia said nonchalantly while sipping her Dr. Pepper. “Sounds like you live an interesting life,” I said, impressed by her and her words. “Enough about me; what about you? What do you
| KRISTEN COLLINS | do besides taking in children and giving them a wonderful life?” she said, still grinning from ear to ear. My rough hands itched to touch her soft, porcelain skin. “I’m a forest ranger actually; ya know, Smokey the Bear?” In my best voice impression, I looked at Tibby, saying, “Only you can prevent forest fires.” Tibby giggled, reaching for me, so I scooped her up, cradling her to me. “Making sure the forest is safe and the people traveling in and out of it are part of my job, too.” “You know, for someone who just got that baby there, y’all sure are cozy. You, Ash Stormcloud, must be some kind of child whisperer or something. She absolutely adores you, and rarely takes her eyes away from you.” “We had a talk; she means everything this world to me now, above all else.” And it was true, I thought to myself. Tibby might as well have been born to me, instead of whatever she was born into. Tibby started fussing, and threw her bottle of juice across the table. “Tibby, what’s wrong?” My inner wolf stirred, a feeling of possessiveness threatening to come to the surface. Strange feelings came over me out of nowhere, and the smell of sulfur tinged the air. The hairs on the back of my neck rose, along with goosebumps on my arms. Subtly, I sniffed the air; the sulfur smell lingered, mixed with an unknown wolf scent. Someone was in my territory without my permission. “Mia, could you excuse me for a minute? I need to run to the bathroom for a second.” “Yeah, go ahead! I’ll get Tibby and me some ice cream. Would you like some chocolate ice cream, sweetie?” Mia said playfully. I nodded, hustling to the bathroom and locking the door behind me. Quickly I dialed Pete; as always, he picked up on the first ring. “Hey, Hoss, what’s up?” he said, extra chipper. “Hey, Pete, have we had any shifter visitors check in today?” My nerves were starting to feel shot, and I’d only had Tibby fewer than twenty-four hours. “Umm…” I could hear papers rustling in the background. “No, we haven’t had any visitors since the Bear Claw Alpha visited a few weeks ago. Every-
thing all right? Is Tibby okay?” I could hear the concern in his voice. “Yeah, she’s fine. We’re at Mad Jack’s and I smelled a wolf—he smelled different, strange… like sulfur. I didn’t see who it was but I want you to call Tessa and Jason up here to track the scent ASAP. I gotta get Tibby out of here and home, where she’s safe.” “We’d better call the elders together and decide on a battle plan in case of an attack. I’ll get started on that; meet in thirty?” “Yeah, we’re packing up now. See you there.” I needed to get Tibby out of here now. As I made my way back to the table I noticed that Mia and Tibby were gone, and so was the bag. Instantly I was alarmed, and looked around the restaurant. Panic and anger clouded my vision; my wolf was ready under the surface, claws out. “There he is! I told you he would be right back, honey.” Mia’s voice sounded sweetly behind me. “Tibby! Thank God; Mia, where did you go?” I said harshly. Mia was taken aback by my sternness. “I’m sorry, Ash, I didn’t think. She was dirty and needed changing, so I took her to the bathroom and cleaned her up.” “Dirty?” I said, confused. “Yes, Ash; she had a dirty diaper, and food covering her from head to toe. Where did you think I took her?” Mia said accusingly. We were getting stares from everybody around us, so I dropped a few bills on the table to cover our check and tip the waitress. I then grabbed Mia’s arms and guided her, with Tibby, outside to my pickup. “Mia, look, I’m sorry; that was really rude of me in there. All I saw when I came back was that you and Tibby were gone, and I lost it,” I said regretfully. Man, not only was I getting paranoid but I might have just blown it with this beautiful lady standing in front of me. “Oh God, Ash! I would never hurt a child, especially this beautiful little angel. I never thought of it; I’m such an idiot! Okay, well, I’m gonna go Issue 13 | August 2017 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | before I embarrass myself anymore today.” The doubt I felt quickly faded to panic. I couldn’t just let her go after making an ass of myself, when she’d done nothing wrong. Talk about an open mouth and insert foot moment. “Mia, stop…” “No, I’d like to leave with some grace while I still have it.” Guilt was written across her face, and I wanted to bang my head against a wall a few times for acting so stupid. “Just wait a minute, please, Mia. You did nothing wrong. I should have never assumed you just took off with Tibby; I’m a total jerk.” I buckled Tibby into her carseat and gave her some toys to play with. I turned around and took Mia’s hand. “Look, I’d like to make it up to you…” She would barely look me in the eyes. “Please, Mia? I swear I’m usually not such a jerk. What do you say?” “I’ll think about it,” she said, a mischievous glint in her eyes. The tension between us had passed for the time being. Her scent wafted through the air, filling my nose and imprinting itself in my brain. “Well, how about you text me every time you’re thinking about it, and we can discuss the pros and cons about everything.” I couldn’t help but smile back at her as her smile spread from cheek to cheek. “I’ll think about that, too…but it really was nice to meet you, both of you. May I tell her goodbye?” she asked sincerely. “Yeah, sure!” Mia climbed into the backseat and gave Tibby a gentle kiss on the forehead. “Okay, big girl. Make sure you keep him out of trouble, and make sure he gives you some extra chocolate pudding, too. If not, then keep him up all night long to teach him a lesson.” Tibby let out a squeal of laughter, and cooed and ga-ga’d baby talk back to Mia. I felt pleased that she really liked Tibby; for just meeting her, I really liked her as well. Mia rubbed her thumb across Tibby’s forehead in a strange way, almost like she was drawing an invisible symbol on her. 74 | UncagedBooks.com
I shrugged it off as nothing. Mia jumped down from the pickup before I could assist her, and turned back to me. Slowly she backed away to her Jeep, as if daring me to chase her. Little did she know that my inner wolf wanted to chase her like prey and take her as his own. She was a temptress, whether she meant to be or not, and she was playing a dangerous game with me. Mia was Little Red Riding Hood and I was the Big Bad Wolf, and I wanted to devour her from head to toe. “’Bye, Ash Stormcloud. See you around…” “Oh, you will—I’m looking forward to it,” I said, a smug smile on my face. “Maybe, maybe not…” she said with a quick wink as she took off down the road. I watch the taillights of that red Jeep disappear around the corner, but her scent of cucumber lingered.
Uncaged Review A classic tale of good vs. evil, in the very literal sense, with Angel and Demon involvement but an interesting twist. A child is born, part Angel, part shifter – a forbidden union. When the shifter Damon, makes a deal with Lucifer, after the birth of his daughter Tiba with the Angel Allita, she knows she needs to get Tiba somewhere safe and hidden from Damon – so he doesn’t corrupt their daughter. Wounded – she manages to make it to shifter lands that promise to protect the child. This is a short story so I won’t get into details, but it’s nicely written and even though a lot of it felt a bit rushed to me, the author does a nice job with the room she has. There is a character overlap in this book from Grimm Love – and still remains in that world. Reviewed by Cyrene
| KRISTEN COLLINS |
Donâ€™t miss these titles
Coming in 2018
Issue 13 | August 2017 |
Corey J. Popp
| FANG-FREAKIN-TASTIC FEATURE AUTHOR |
Enjoy an excerpt from Zombie Girl, Premonition Curse of the Black-eyed Kids Corey J. Popp Supernatural Thriller
Corey J. Popp began his writing career as a freelance newspaper writer of human interest and technology articles. In 2011, he transitioned to fiction and began work on his first novel, BENEATH CLAIRE’S HOUSE, which he published in 2015. His second novel, CURSE OF THE BLACK-EYED KIDS, will hit bookstores in August of 2017
Fifteen-year-old Abby doesn’t believe in ghost stories, but even she has heard the infamous schoolyard legend of the black-eyed kids. Born from a sensational Mount Herod murder mystery, the legend says beware the ringing of the doorbell in the middle of the night and the sudden appearance of two schoolaged children pleading to be let in. Abby and her younger brother live an unconventional yet dull life with their grandmother, but when it’s their doorbell which rings next, their lives are turned upside down as the torment begins. Forced to come to grips with a new reality if she wants to save the lives of those she loves, Abby must enlist the aid of a mysterious young man known only as the cemetery boy to untangle a dark curse dating back 4,000 years. Excerpt
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I WAKE TO the sound of whispers, but when I open my eyes, the house is silent and dark and still. An eerie, surreal chill shoots through me. The lingering emotions of an already forgotten dream have left me disoriented, unsettled, and feeling vulnerable to the monsters under my bed that I haven’t believed in for years. The clock on my nightstand shows midnight. Vague yet familiar shadows stand in place of the furniture in my bedroom. An endless black void spans above me and to all sides, absorbing the corners between the walls and the ceiling and the floor until every-
| COREY J. POPP | thing is indistinguishable from everything else, and all that remains is the unyielding ink of midnight. The brain doesn’t work correctly in the middle of the night. It reverts to a primitive state. It abandons reason. I should just go back to sleep. But somewhere in the house something ticks, like things do in the night, and it rouses me further into awareness. Maybe the sound came from a faucet or maybe the refrigerator or maybe the grandfather clock at the foot of the stairs. It doesn’t matter, because it’s just a noise a house makes at night. I pull the blankets to my chin, jostle myself from my back to my side, and push a naked foot out from under the covers into the coolness of the room. The brain reverts. I should go back to sleep. The stillness of the house gnaws at me. I feel melancholy, as if I’m the only person awake in all the world. The quietness pulls at my sanity, and just as I touch the precipice of complete irrationality, the doorbell tears through the silent house like a scream, and my heart nearly bursts. In daylight, the sound of a doorbell is usually delightful. It means someone has come to visit, almost always with good intentions. Perhaps a neighbor borrowing a cup of sugar, a Boy Scout selling popcorn, a Girl Scout selling cookies. But at midnight—at midnight in a dark and lonely suburb on the edge of Mount Herod—absolutely nothing good can come from the ringing of a doorbell. I am now entirely awake and bewildered. I hear my grandmother stir down the hall, her movements slow and heavy. There is no noise from my brother’s bedroom. He has either slept through the startling noise or lies petrified in his bed. My grandmother’s silhouette passes my doorway, heading to the stairs. I jump from my bed and stagger into the hallway. “Grandma,” I call softly. She turns, fixing her crooked glasses, awkwardly trying to stab the temple tips through the rollers in her gray hair. “Abigail,” she whispers. “Was that the doorbell?” I nod. My brother suddenly appears in his bedroom doorway, wide-eyed and tense. Though he is two years
younger than me, we stand nearly eye to eye. And yet, he has the courage of a mouse. Anxiously drumming his fingertips against his chubby palms, he says, “I heard it, too, Grandma.” Grandma says, “Jeremy, you’re as white as the sheet you just crawled out from under. Now, you two go back to bed. I have no idea who that could be at this hour, but I’ll take care of it.” She turns and proceeds down the steps to the foyer. Jeremy takes one slow step back into his room, but I shoot him a look that freezes him in his space. He sees my frown and he knows he has no choice. Grabbing his hand and pulling him with me, I scamper to the top of the staircase. Kneeling, we peer down through the banister posts and watch my grandmother pull aside a faded plaid curtain on the front door. She gasps at the site of something outside. “Oh, my! For heaven’s sake,” she says and immediately fumbles for the lock. I squeeze Jeremy’s hand as an ominous feeling settles upon me. She cracks the door and peeks around the edge. “What on earth are you children doing out at this hour?” I look at Jeremy. “Children?” He shrugs. I sneak down the stairs, pulling Jeremy along. When I reach the bottom step, I hear a child’s voice, but I cannot distinguish the words. “Are you hurt?” my grandmother says. I slip into the adjacent family room where a sofa is pushed against the wall beneath a large window. I kneel on the sofa and grope for the curtains. As I do, I hear the youthful voice again, but I still cannot make out the precise words. “My telephone?” Grandma says nervously. “Well, I don’t know about that. Where are your parents?” Between the parted curtains I spot two children, a boy and a girl, each perhaps in their early teens, standing on the front porch. They are illuminated by the full moon. Their heads are lowered, chins drawn to their chests, arms at their sides, seemIssue 11 | June 2017 |
| FANG-FREAKIN-TASTIC FEATURE AUTHOR | ingly refusing to look at my grandmother. Behind them, the slumbering neighborhood and motionless homes are dark, and the contours of bare oaks and crooked birches reach their bony fingers upwards into the clear October sky as if trying to pull the shimmering stars down to their deaths. The two children are dressed oddly. Their gloomy clothes look like long-ago school uniforms, steamed and pressed and certainly out of season. The boy’s britches end just below his knees where they meet the tops of the long black stockings covering his calves. He wears a waist-length wool dress coat fastened with large silver buttons. A dark gray neck tie sits knotted beneath his square chin. Crowning his black straight hair, which is so long it covers his ears, rests a brimmed newsboy cap. The downward position of his head and the angle of the brim conceal all of his facial features except his pale jaw. The girl wears a black pleated jumper ending just below her knees, and my eyes follow her black opaque stockings down to a pair of sable Mary Janes. Her long-sleeved white blouse is drawn up at the collar by a criss-cross tie, and—like the boy—her facial features are obscured, hers behind a curtain of long coal-black hair which falls forward over her shoulders. My view is suddenly obscured by the back of Jeremy’s head. “Who are they, Abby?” he says, his breath fogging the glass. “I can’t see with your fat head in the way.” I push him aside and wipe away the condensation with my bare palm. Gross. Grandma toggles the light switch for the porch, but the bulb refuses to glow. “Oh, my,” I hear her say, more to herself than to the children, “I’ve no porch light.” Jeremy returns to the window, slowly parts the curtains just below me, and pushes his face to the glass once again. “I can’t see their faces.” “Wonder what they want,” I whisper. I hear Grandma say, “I don’t understand, and I’ll ask you again, where are your parents?” Again, the soft voices come back, barely audible. “I can’t hear them,” Jeremy says, and his tugboat80 | UncagedBooks.com
shaped body tumbles forward as he loses his balance. He catches himself on the long curtains, nearly pulling them down, and his forehead thumps the glass. And that’s when I see them. The boy snaps his head in our direction, revealing eyeballs colored as black as the night sky itself and completely void of iris and pupil. I grab Jeremy’s thick shoulder. “His eyes!” The black-eyed boy realizes his error and quickly returns his gaze to his silver-buckled slate shoes, but not before I hear Jeremy gasp too, and I know he saw what I saw. I recall portions of a schoolyard legend, and they tumble in bits through my mind like dice on a table. A Mount Herod boy comes to mind who everyone knows about but no one’s ever met. “I suppose you could use the telephone,” I hear Grandma say, and she begins to pull open the door. Jeremy abruptly pushes away from the window, nearly sending me tumbling to the floor. He scrambles to the front door and slams it shut with both hands just before the toe of a Mary Jane taps the threshold. “My word!” Grandma says. She places her wrinkled, veiny hands onto her round hips, a position which immediately indicates authority. “What is going on here tonight?” “Grandma, you can’t let them in,” Jeremy says, his panicked voice higher than it should be. The doorbell rings again. “Jeremy, open the door,” Grandma orders, but Jeremy blocks the door with his entire body and protests with a shake of his head. Grandma motions for him to move. “Come on, mister. Out of the way. Enough of this.” I step slowly into the foyer, feeling disoriented, as if walking out of a fog. If Jeremy and Grandma are two sides of a coin, I am its edge. Jeremy turns back to the door, pushes the faded plaid curtain aside, and looks out onto the porch. “They’re gone.” He lets the curtain fall closed, then turns to Grandma and says, “His eyes…Grandma, he had black eyes.” “What in the name of Sam Hill are you talking about?” Three rapid knocks echo through the house from the
direction of the back door. All three of us turn to face the pitch-black void that lies between us and the back of the house. Jeremy, eyes wide and hands wringing, says, “It’s them. They’re on the back porch now.” Three more knocks—slow, methodic, and intimidating—boom from the impenetrable darkness before us. “How in the world did they get to the back porch so quickly?” Grandma says. She coos a soft sigh and fixes her glasses. “Abigail, I do believe they may be hurt. The girl said something about an accident.” Placing her palms on the front of her thighs, Grandma shuffles into the darkness. “It isn’t right to leave them out there. Jeremy, I don’t know what’s come over you.” Jeremy looks at me with doe eyes. “Abby, I’m scared.” I turn my brother around by his shoulders and push him down the hall. “Just follow Grandma.” Our grandmother’s featureless silhouette flips the light switch in the hall, and the wire filament in the overhead bulb emits a dull glow that reminds me of an X-ray. It sizzles, crackles, and flickers before burning out. Grandma stops and stares at the bulb for a moment. “Well, my word. What a crazy night.” Then the darkness swallows her as she continues on to the kitchen toward the back door. I fight a brief inner battle between reason and instinct. These children, this boy and this girl outside my grandmother’s house, may not be the monsters of an obscure schoolyard legend, but neither are they our friends, and whatever may be the case with the boy’s eyes, be he injured or blind or simply the victim of a miscast moon shadow, these children do not belong in this house. Jeremy and I enter the kitchen. The shadowy remnants of a small three-person celebration lie scattered throughout the room. One end of a homemade paper banner, which reads HAPPY GOLDEN BIRTHDAY JEREMY!, has fallen to the floor, where it lies amongst a patch of partially-deflated balloons. Shredded wrapping paper and frosting-smeared, crumbcovered paper plates lie scattered across the kitchen table, everything abandoned until morning in favor of
| COREY J. POPP |
bedtime. My grandmother stands at the back door. Just as her hand touches the doorknob, I call to her. “Grandma!” Startled, she turns to me. “Don’t let them in. We don’t know them,” I say. There is enough moonlight in the kitchen for me to see her bottom lip quiver, and for the first time this peculiar night, I see her bewilderment turn to fear, and she either falls victim to the same panic that infects Jeremy and me, or she finally realizes the potential peril of trusting two strangers ringing doorbells at midnight. “I’ll call the police,” she says just before recoiling at the sound of another thundering knock. Placing her bony fingertips on the rims of her glasses, she shouts through the back door, “We are calling the police! If you need help, wait on the front porch.” A moment later, I hear the girl clearly for the first time. Her voice is soft and sweet and childlike with a hint of a British accent. “Please, ma’am,” she pleads from the other side of the door. “We are cold.” Grandma frowns and shakes her head. “The phone, Abigail,” she says, and I rush to the landline on the desk in the corner of the kitchen. Another knock drums through the kitchen. And then, contradictory to the immense power behind the knock, a delicate voice calls from outside. “There’s been a terrible accident. Please let us in, ma’am.” When I raise the telephone to my ear, I discover the line has succumb to static. Through it, I hear the trace of a dial tone. I look at Jeremy, who has already read my expression. “It’s dead, isn’t it?” he whispers. “Static,” I say, and suddenly Grandma is upon me, gently removing the telephone from my hand and punching 911 on the keypad. “Operator?” she says. “I can barely hear you.” The doorbell rings, and all of us turn, once again, to the front door. “They’re back on the front porch,” Jeremy says. The girl calls from outside: “We are so cold and Issue 11 | June 2017 |
| FANG-FREAKIN-TASTIC FEATURE AUTHOR | so hungry.” Now I realize it was no dream that woke me. Somehow, as I slept in my bed, I must’ve heard the two visitors conspiring on the front porch only moments before they rang the bell, and with that realization comes the revelation that every make-believe ghost and monster I’d ever feared as a child suddenly feels alive. “Did you hear them whispering before the doorbell rang?” I ask Jeremy. He shakes his head with an accompanying expression of fear that has an intensity I’ve never seen on him before this night. “No.” Schoolyard legends are not the things a fifteenyear-old girl should fear, but I can’t dislodge the sight of the boy’s black eyes from my thoughts. From behind, Grandma’s hands find our shoulders and pull us close. “The police are on their way.” Jeremy looks at me, his swollen lips shiny with saliva. Trembling, he mutters beneath Grandma’s hearing, “It’s them, Abby.” I know what he’s talking about, or rather, I know who he’s talking about. “Shut up, Jeremy,” I whisper back, because if he’s right, I know what’s supposed to happen next. And it terrifies me. Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: I’m not going to lie, Curse of the Black Eyed Kids scared the crap out of me. I didn’t sleep for almost 2 days because I was waiting for these creepy bastards to knock on my door. I’ve previously heard the legends of “the black eyed kids,” I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there is nothing scarier than freaky ass kids. This isn’t the first book I’ve read by Corey J. Popp. I reviewed Beneath Claire’s House a year or 2 ago. It was a great book, and when you get a second book from an author who did a great job in the first book, you never know if they will be able to uphold your expectations of them. He most definitely did. 82 | UncagedBooks.com
This book has just the right amount of creep in all the right places. There wasn’t filler to make it longer, it got to the point and the story moved quickly. I actually finished it in one day because I couldn’t put it down. It’s not a short book, so my kids had cereal for dinner (I think) and my house went uncleaned, but at least I knew what happened before I went to bed. Fat lot of good it did since I couldn’t sleep when I got there. The Curse of the Black Eyed Kids kept me guessing until the very end. I had no idea what was going to happen, and that’s pretty unusual for me. I love it when that happens. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a good scary story that will creep you out and keep your attention the whole time. I suggest taking care of any necessary responsibilities BEFORE you start reading because you aren’t going to want to put this one down until the end.
New Releases August Release Dates - A Selection
See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt Little Boy Lost by J.D. Trafford Delectable by R.L. Mathewson Beard in Mind by Penny Reid The Address by Fiona Davis Mrs. Saint and the Defectives by Julie Lawson Timmer Just Friends by Tiffany Pitcock Secondborn by Amy A. Bartol A Beautiful Poison by Lydia Kang Devil’s Cut by J.R. Ward The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley Ride the Storm by Karen Chance Dragonsworn by Sherrilyn Kenyon The Mafia and His Angel by Lylah James
Wicked Like a Wildfire by Lana Popović Royally Endowed by Emma Chase The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin Camp Half-Blood Confidential by Rick Riordan The Soul Mate by Kendall Ryan Seeing Red by Sandra Brown
August 22 Hideaway by Penelope Douglas After the Game by Abbi Glines Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin Y is for Yesterday by Sue Grafton I Know a Secret by Tess Gerritsen Charlatans by Robin Cook
August 8 The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter Shimmer and Burn by Mary Taranta Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert The Forbidden by Jodi Ellen Malpas Beneath The Truth by Meghan March Any Dream Will Do by Debbie Macomber
August 29 The Silver Mask by Holly Black Fallen Heir by Erin Watt The Time in Between by Kristen Ashley The Dazzling Heights by Katharine McGee My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller So I Married a Sorcerer by Kerrelyn Sparks Can’t Hardly Breathe by Gena Showalter
Publishers and authors: If you would like a new release in these lists, please email me at UncagedBooks@gmail.com
Issue 13 | August 2017 |
Uncaged Reviews Grimm Love
The Honest Rake Toni V. Sweeney Historical Regency
Kristen Collins Fantasy Short Sky was your typical Grim Reaper, well mostly, she was half human too. She helped souls pass on to the afterlife, but she didn’t expect a human to see her in the act, harvesting a soul. In shock, Sky attempts to return to her normal life as the owner of the local bookstore in the small town of Ouray. Jack seeks out the strange yet beautiful woman he saw take his friend’s soul on the mountain. After searching nearly every business in the small town, he stumbles upon her in a bookstore on Main Street.
Uncaged Review: A nicely original concept that I think would have worked even better as a full length novel. It was a bit too short, and lacked a lot of description, and we time jumped a lot, and it felt like there were big chunks of information missing. I didn’t feel as attached to the main characters as I think I could have been. With that said, the story is worth a read, and the storyline really held my interest at the halfway point. There was some editing issues that were noticeable, but it didn’t overly distract from the story. I liked the story and the concept of angels and reapers, just would have liked to see the story fleshed out a bit more. Reviewed by Cyrene
Uncaged Ratings: Young Adult Some mild violence
Donal McCoy is a rake, but a secret one. He’s welcomed at Almack’s but he’s also a well-received guest at the most infamous brothel in London. As far as Donal’s concerned, what he does in private is his own affair as long as no one other than his best friend, Joss—a rogue of the same feather—knows of it. Then his father drops a bombshell into his son’s well-hidden but orderly life. Quenton McCoy wants a grandchild and he orders his son to find himself a bride. The last thing Donal wants is a wife. Marriage will ruin his fun altogether. Reluctantly, he schemes to obey his father’s orders while retaining his freedom. Unfortunately, sometimes Love gets in the way… Uncaged Review: This book came as a surprise to me and I enjoyed the story. Donal, an Irish man making his way up the ladder in society per his father’s wishes, is told he must choose a wife and settle down. Not to disappoint his family, Donal decides to find an upstanding lady, and marry for a business arrangement of sorts, and to be able to continue his life as usual, including his mistress, Nell. But he didn’t count on Felicity… The author gives us a nicely built world and an introduction to Donal and the McCoy family, with a bit of scandal, romance and family drama, with likeable characters and I’m looking forward to the next in the series. I hope Donal and Felicity return. Reviewed by Cyrene
Uncaged Ratings: Adult Sex scenes
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Four by Moonlight Linda Nightingale Paranormal Romance/Erotica
certainly not enough to even consider that a faceto-face meeting will spark anything other than a solidification of their friendship.
An anthology of love in the moonlight… in the paranormal realms…
Riley Morgan and Analise Becke are in for a big surprise - actually a series of surprises. Their lives are about to be turned upside down as passion and danger come to Cotton Creek, Texas.
Gypsy Ribbons – A moonlight ride on the moors and meeting a notorious highwayman will forever change Lady Virginia Darby’s life. Star Angel – Lucy was stuck in a rut and in an Idaho potato patch. She’d seen him in the corner of her eye—a fleeting glimpse of beauty—now he stood before her in the flesh. The Night Before Doomsday – All his brothers had succumbed to lust, but Azazel resisted temptation until the wrong woman came along. The Gate Keeper’s Cottage – Newlywed Meggie Richelieu’s mysterious, phantom lover may be more than anyone, except the plantation housekeeper, suspects.
Uncaged Review: Four very different tales that feature one thing in common - Love. Love finds itself woven into every story. My favorite story in this book being told of a fallen Angel, falling into elements of Lust. When he falls in love with a human girl. This is a very quick book where you can easily read it one sitting. Perfect for people that like short stories. Reviewed by Jennifer
And they say nothing ever happens in Cotton Creek.
Uncaged Review: Once in awhile, a nice downhome southern charmer will do the trick, and the first book in the Honky Tonk Angels series does the trick. The author gives us the small town friendliness and tosses in some big city danger. Even though this story was a bit over the top and unbelievable in places, and there are some glaring editing issues, I still enjoyed the story. The one thing that really bothered me, was the switching of POV without any warning – it really interrupted the flow of the book and there were a lot of characters to keep track of. So even though the book wouldn’t make my top ten, the characters were likeable, and the small town feel was there, and since I live in a small town, it works. Reviewed by Cyrene
Uncaged Ratings: Adult Sex, mild violence
Uncaged Ratings: Adult
language, violence and sexual activity
Southern Comfort Ciana Stone Contemporary Western Riley looks forward to the online chats more than he is willing to admit but has never considered asking what she looks like. She’s just an online friend. Yeah, they have a connection, but
Crazy for Alice Alex Dunn Young Adult/Horror Donnie Darko meets Pleasantville in this dark urban fantasy about sixteen-year-old Ben Howard. When Ben accidently kills his father and is sectioned after a failed suicide attempt, he escapes the guilt by Issue 13 | August 2017 |
Uncaged Reviews seeking solace deep within the recesses of his own mind. .. Uncaged Review: Ben who finds it hard to cope with life after a failed suicide attempt. Realizes that when he is upset he travels to a sort of fantasy world where everything appears dull and grey. Upon making this discovery he meets a young girl by the name of Alice the two hit it off and Ben really wants to stay there. But can’t. I like the sound of this pretend world when u feel sad you can travel to it and make other’s like yourself. The storyline had a fun concept to hide some messy problem’s that some of the character’s had. Well worth a read. Reviewed by Jennifer
Uncaged Ratings: Young Adult Language, violence Wolf’s Challenge Christina Lynn Lambert Paranormal Suspense Taking risks, especially risks of the handsome male variety, is currently out of the question for Sydney Reid. She will make no exceptions for tall, gorgeous Derrick Porter. Never date a player--it’s rule number one in Sydney’s book, and the charming lawyer constantly devouring her with his eyes is every inch the reason. Despite her best efforts to keep Derrick in the friend zone, sparks fly between the two of them, and Sydney isn’t entirely sure she wants to throw water on the flames.
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Uncaged Review: It was an interesting book especially since it had Sydney just getting out of a bad relationship. Derrick has also been through hell, but it was cute seeing them fall for each other. I love the fact that it’s set in Virginia. The main characters are Derrick who is a comic book fan and a lawyer who used to be in the army. He is also a wolf and it’s fun to see that the wolf can actually talk to him. Sydney is a graphic design artist so they made a cute couple. I can understand what she went through after going through it myself. I love the way the novel plays out. Also it’s awesome they call people regulars. I love reading about Sydney and Derrick, and loved the ending too. It’s a good story, and it shows that there is hope after a shitty relationship. Good story, and I love good endings too. Reviewed by Jessica
Uncaged Ratings: Adult Sex, mild violence
To Tame the Wind Regan Walker Historical Regency Paris 1782…AN INNOCENT IS TAKEN All Claire Donet knew was the world inside the convent walls in SaintDenis. She had no idea her beloved papa was a pirate. But when he seized Simon Powell’s schooner, the English privateer decided to take the thing his enemy held most dear...her. A BATTLE IS JOINED The waters between France and England roil with the clashes of Claire’s father and her captor as the last year of the American Revolution rages on the sea, spies lurk in Paris and Claire’s passion for the English captain rises.
Uncaged Review: It was fitting that I read this book close to the July 4th holiday in the U.S. as it is set around the time of war – near the end of the war of America fighting for its independence from England. I was completely engrossed in this book, from cover to cover, and the author takes you on a journey and describes everything so well, you actually feel like a bystander watching it unfold. Having the setting of any historical on the sea, intrigues me as to all the extra research that goes into these books, not only do you have the historical part of the story which historical authors weave into their stories, but you also have the extra burden of the ships and a life at sea that is added weight. Ms. Walker handles it superbly, and you are taken into another time, and rooting for the forbidden love of a captive and her captor. Supporting characters are well written, and you’ll find yourself wanting to know their stories as well. And go to the author’s Pinterest board, where you will find a wonderful board for the novel to help visualize the sights, the ships, the costumes and the characters of this era and book. I sorely wish we would have had historical authors as our history teachers in school, I might have paid better attention. Reviewed by Cyrene
Uncaged Ratings: Adult
Mild violence, mild sex scenes
Whispered Echoes Paul F. Olson Horror Shorts “From the pen of horror writer Paul F. Olson comes Whispered Echoes, a stunning dark fiction collection that will carry you down lonely twilight byways into a world of darkness and dread. It’s a world of forgotten roadways, sleepy small towns, deep forests, windswept waters—a place where the uneasy spirits of your imagination roam free and anything at all can happen.
Uncaged Review: I read good things about this book but I was a little disappointed at what I read. The stories didn’t impress me. That’s not to say the writing was bad it just means this book wasn’t for me. There will be fans out there of horror and mystery that will love this book. I did like one story that’s worth a read - Bloodybones that tells the story of a missing girl. It is worth a look at. Reviewed by Jennifer
Uncaged Ratings: Adult
Horror, sex, gruesome deaths
Fire and Ice Chance Carter Contemporary Romance Two men. Exact opposites of each other. I’m going to have them ... Both. One’s as cool as ice. Makes sense he’s a pro hockey player. The other’s fiery and passionate. He’s a firefighter who risks his life for a living. They’re my Fire and Ice. And they’re both after me. Uncaged Review: Nora has a doctor’s degree in psychology, but what is missing is that key element in her life – love, until she bumps into a hot fireman called Leo. If that isn’t hot enough for you, she meets with a sexy hockey player who is a Thor lookalike. Now she starts dating both men and has to pick one. I really enjoyed this book and it was nice to read about the fantasy of dating two men at the same time. I couldn’t wait to see who she would pick. A fun hot Romance read. Reviewed by Jennifer
Issue 13 | August 2017 |
Uncaged Reviews Uncaged Ratings: Adult Mild sex, mild language
Uncaged Ratings: Adult Sex
Ugly Little Things Todd Keisling Horror Shorts
Tegon Maus SciFi
After 27 years as a newspaper man, Peter Anderson’s career is slipping away, at least it was, until he stumbled upon the story of a lifetime. Sent to do a fluff piece about lights in the night sky over Arizona, he discovers far more than he ever expected when he comes upon a mysterious young woman held prisoner in a basement. After helping her to escape, she disappears before he can learn the truth about who she is or where she came from. His search for her leads him back to the lights in the sky and leaves him with more questions than answers. The only thing he knows for certain . . . the only thing he can count on are the two words offered repeatedly by his friend and guide . . . “IS BELT.” Uncaged Review: Peter Anderson is a newspaper reporter being given the job of investigating the story of some strange lights in the sky. During the investigation he meets a Russian called Bob who throughout the story Bob remains by his side like a sidekick. Between them they dive into the mystery of the mysterious lights and little grey men. I love the author’s writing style in this story. It was very funny and had some snappy one liners, it also moved at a fast pace. This was an amusing read I really enjoyed it. I’m sure Bob will stay with me a very long time Reviewed by Jennifer
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THIS IS GOING TO HURT. The eleven stories in Ugly Little Things explore the depths of human suffering and ugliness, charting a course to the dark, horrific heart of the human condition. The terrors of everyday existence are laid bare in this eerie collection of short fiction from the twisted mind of Todd Keisling, author of the critically-acclaimed novels A Life Transparent and The Liminal Man.
Uncaged Review: A collection of various horrors all of them with their own little twists and turns One or two of my favorites was of a young boy. Who makes a deal with an odd gentlemen by the name of Harvey in order to escape some bullies. Another was a rock band who meet a groupie who is a gypsy that decides to stay with the band as a good luck charm. But really has the band under each other’s skin. There’s also one about some creepy dolls. So if that doesn’t get you wanting to read this book nothing will. You won’t need the light’s on but you may need to check under your bed before you go to sleep. I hear those dolls have a great story to tell you. Sweet dreams tonight. Reviewed by Jennifer
Uncaged Ratings: Adult
Sex, language, violence, gruesome deaths
Katerina Ross Contemporary/Gay/Erotica/BDSM
Max has always been interested in the wicked ways of BDSM, but his unusual tastes haven’t always been well received. But now he has Vadim, an eager Russian sub willing to fulfill his most daring fantasies. There’s one problem—Max isn’t quite ready to accept what’s right in front of him. His deep-seated insecurities threaten to spoil what’s growing into more than just a kinky pastime. Will Max embrace Vadim’s love or throw away his chance at true happiness? Be Warned: BDSM, m/m sex, sex toys, figging, breath play, impact play Uncaged Review: Max is very interested in the ways of BDSM and of Dom/Sub relationships. He thinks he has found the perfect sub Vidim, as their relationship strays further than the normal Dom/Sub relationships, not just sexually but emotionally as well. They develop a sort of lovers bond the storyline does have a lot of sexual activity and some pretty high risk BDSM elements at one point in the storyline I did fear for Vidim’s safety. But as you go further into the book it kind of makes sense why they both keep quiet about certain things. A compelling read I only wish Max and Vidim had better communication skills with each other in this story but I guess if they did that wouldn’t have been have the enjoyment of the book. Reviewed by Jennifer
Uncaged Ratings: Adult Sex, BDSM, gay
B.A. Mealer Contemporary Suspense A secret, a murder, a syndicate and no place to hide. Ronald McGuire has been stalking Abilene for two years, using her research to find oil. But, who is he really working for? Abilene Brown has no idea of how Ron finds her. In an attempt to hide from him, she rents the Haskell Ranch for six months, hoping for a reprieve of two weeks but only gets two days. Ron isn’t the only one after her. Are the two connected? Wade Chapman, who owns the Haskell Ranch, also has a secret when he meets Abilene. Will he be able to fulfill his promise to keep her safe? A twenty year old secret is the key.
Uncaged Review: This is a nicely written story that is a bit slow in the beginning, but does pick up the pace as you read. The romance isn’t really given time to brew, or give too many obstacles, it’s almost an instant like between the main characters of Wade and Abilene. Wade is one of the town’s most eligible bachelors, in looks and in wealth, to his dismay. He stays hidden on his ranch most of the time, and only goes into town when he has too, to avoid the women that are always hitting on him. Sounds a bit over the top, and it is a bit at first. Abilene, who is trying to put her past behind her and hide from a man who wants to use her talents as a geologist – is the new lady leasing the ranch next to Wade’s that everyone is talking about, and after a town dance – with Abilene spending most of her time with Wade, is now being shunned by most of the single women. Both of these characters are a bit too trusting, too quickly considering their pasts, and the man looking for Abilene finds her a bit fast too. Even with these issues, I enjoyed the story – the suspense and intrigue did pick up and you will find yourself immersed in the story wanting to know how it all unfolds. One of the supporting Issue 13 | August 2017 |
Uncaged Reviews cast was actually my favorite, and that’s Wade’s brother Chad, and I hope he gets a shot at stardom. Although the characters sound a bit cliché at first, once you peel back the layers you will find much more, and even though I wasn’t as attached to the main characters as I’d like, I think for a new author, this story and family have tons of potential. Reviewed by Cyrene
Uncaged Ratings: Adult Sex, mild language
DeAnn Smallwood Western Romance
Sins of the Father
Trent is a loner, a man of few words. All he wants or needs in his life is his ranch: Calliope Ranch. That is, until Riley stumbles into his life. Riley, who owns Calliope Falls. Riley, a city slicker who’s been left the Circle S by a father she thought dead. Riley, who needs a lesson to even make coffee. Riley, who is unloved, controlled and ridiculed by a demanding grandfather and a selfish mother. Riley defies them by moving to Meeker, Colorado, and fighting to show she can make it on a working ranch, her ranch.
Newly pinned deputy Jolie Murdoch’s first big job as a McIntire County deputy is to locate a missing girl. What Jolie doesn’t expect is to stumble upon a corpse--the girl’s father--with a prime suspect still hanging around. But why would local bartender Xavier Hartmann go off the deep end and bludgeon a man to death? ...
Uncaged Review: Riley is left the Circle S Ranch by her father after he dies. After some ups and downs she befriends Trent, the person who helped looked after her dad’s ranch as well as his own. After a tragic accident occurs involving Riley, Trent saves the day. This was an enjoyable read I haven’t read much in western romances but this was a good read and features an adorable sounding puppy. Reviewed by Jennifer
Uncaged Ratings: Adult No major warnings
Winter Austin Romantic Suspense/Military
Uncaged Review: I haven’t read any of the McIntire County books before, as this is the third book in the series. I thought I would be lost with the characters reading this, but was surprised it was an easy enough read. Deputy Jolie Murdoch stumbles across a dead body and an unconscious man next to it. Former Marine Xavier is the prime suspect but can’t prove he didn’t do it as he can’t remember anything. It’s up to Jolie to prove his innocence. This was an okay read and I’m sure previous readers of the series will love it. Reviewed by Jennifer
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Uncaged Ratings: Adult No major warnings
Christina Bergling Horror Beatrix woke up in a small metal cage. A persistent dripping sound her only company. Lost in the darkness. Reeling to remember. Two meals and a lesson. Three graces a day. She had been leaving work to celebrate her promotion, a promotion that was the
culmination of her entire ruthless, driven career, a promotion that would cement her status with her marketing firm enough for her to take her relationship with her girlfriend out of the lesbian closet. Beatrix had finally made it. And then she was here, disoriented and petrified in a black she could not define.
Uncaged Review: This is a powerful read, Beatrix was a successful business woman who had a great job, a loving girlfriend and a cute dog. One day she is walking to her car to drive home just like every other day when out of nowhere she is abducted only to awaken inside a steel cage. Just big enough to fit a dog. I couldn’t believe the book I was reading - imagine being Beatrix, imagine being in that cell. This is a great book takes the whole abducted storyline to new extremes. This would make an awesome film. I highly recommend this book. Just wow. Reviewed by Jennifer
Uncaged Ratings: Adult Language, violence, torture
Sublime Karma Peyton Garver Young Adult
When Brie’s stepfather moves the family for what he calls a new beginning, it’s not the new beginning the beautiful, yet guarded, senior would have hoped for. Brie is instantly targeted by jealous girls at her new school, and the only available seat on her bus is next to the school’s star wide receiver, Jake, who for some reason, finds her offensive. After a humiliating article and picture of Brie is posted in the online school journal, a demon she thought she’d overcome resurfaces, and her life unravels. A newly compassionate Jake has finally taken an interest in her, but can Brie learn to trust her heart, or will she miss out on the best thing that ever happened to her?
Uncaged Review: Aimed mainly at a younger audience, this book is a good story that tackles some of today’s issues, like bullying, abuse and cutting. It tossed me back into high school, and some of the issues that we see happening in the school are some of the things I remember, not necessarily with me, but the drama, the cliques – all present in most high schools from the past and present. Brie is the new student in school for a senior year, and is already being dissed by the popular girls in the school. Jake, a popular football player, shows an interest in Brie and risks his popularity to get to know her. But Brie and Jake break down each other’s walls, and it becomes a sweet romance that you will cheer for. The characters are well developed and the storyline will have you feeling you are back in high school, whether that’s good or bad for you Reviewed by Cyrene
Uncaged Ratings: Young Adult Bullying, cutting, abuse
The Gentlemen’s Club
Emmanuelle de Maupassant Historical Erotica Victorian London 1898 Lord McCaulay falls under the enchantment of Mademoiselle Noire. Humiliated by her before his peers, he becomes intent on revenge, but is drawn only further into her web, entering a dark spiral of obsession. Meanwhile, by day, Lord McCaulay’s path intersects that of young aristocrat Maud, as she struggles to assert her identity against the domination of men. ‘We live in the wondrous here and now and it is here that our flesh must take its pleasure. Your body is yours and yours alone, but not for long, and never long enough.’
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Uncaged Reviews Uncaged Review: Set in a period drama the Gentlemen’s Club where men can go to watch a notorious Mistress at play with other like-minded people like herself, who enjoy a show of varied sexual activity. This is a steamy read that borders on the slightly erotic. Worth a read. Reviewed by Jennifer
Uncaged Ratings: Adult Erotica - sex
Waking for Winter
Katherine McIntyre Paranormal Romance/Supernatural The Philadelphia Coven has thwarted the Order of the Serpent’s every attempt to destroy their city, only to draw out the scariest nightmare from the Otherworld--the Caoranach. However, one member of the Philly Coven, Cami Akiyama, has already met this creature--the very monster who tortured her and branded her with a mark. Given their history, the Coven leader assigns her a bodyguard-none other than the gorgeous and lethal necromancer, Dante Martinez, the ex-boyfriend she’d disappeared on years ago. A single conversation confirms the spark between them never died, and based on the way Dante teases and flirts, he’s not about to let that flame get snuffed out without a fight.
Uncaged Review: What can I say, I am so bummed to see this series end. This is a series that sits on the top of my paranormal favorites list. Even though each book in this series, centers on a different couple and their story, the whole picture is it’s all entwined and the main arc within the four books ties them all together, and this last book brings it all together in a climax that will have you sitting on the edge of your seat, and all the characters come roaring back to finish this 94 | UncagedBooks.com
off as you are completely invested, and I just dare you to try and quit reading once it hits these last few chapters. I do recommend you begin at the beginning of the series – they can be read as standalones, but to get the full force of this series, start from Scrying for Spring and work your way in. This one revolves around Camille and Dante. Cam is a banshee, and the time she spent as a prisoner of the enemy, almost broke her – and killed her mother. Now she is forever marked and owned by the leader of the enemies that want to destroy Philly. Dante, is the mercenary necromancer that despite Cam walking away from him years ago, is determined to stay at her side. This book is a fantastic ending to the series, and the author doesn’t let you down, she throws out all the stops, and it leaves you breathless. Five stars for the series isn’t enough. Reviewed by Cyrene
Uncaged Ratings: Adult Sex, violence, language
David Kummer Young Adult/Medieval They have grown strong in the shadows, the kingdom of Oldon. The land is void of hope and of strength against them. The human kingdoms grow corrupt everyday, so that the lines between good and evil are slurred. One young man from a small village in the valley could change all of that. He fights with the passion of a warrior and the luck of a magician. And when the barbarians force him out of his home, the journey begins. Trained by a knight, shadowed with secrets, and against the kingdom he once called home, Jonathan is an outcast, a rebel. But more than anything, he is a leader. Enden is a world filled with wars, famine, sieges, torture, and death. But the greatest battle of all is to survive. Only one thing is certain. Something is rising, in the distance
near the edge of the world where forgotten secrets brew. Something has risen. And it is coming.
Uncaged Review: Enter this book with an open mind and be prepared to not to put it down until the end. For a novel written by a young author is it completely breathtaking, heart stopping and spell binding. A tale that is so well weaved together that you not see the ending coming. A must read for any true dark fantasy reader. And series that just made to my go to re-read shelf. I simply cannot wait for the continuation. Reviewed by Melisa
Uncaged Review: Sister Agatha is a whopping 118 years old she miss hears her doctor’s conversation. With another stating that she has only a week to live. So in her last week on earth she is determined to be the oldest surviving person not the fifth. I really liked this story as it was full of dark comedy and you really had to love Sister Agatha who is a one of a kind person. This book being the author’s first book I’m exited to see what he comes up with next. Reviewed by Jennifer
Uncaged Ratings: Adult
Violence - no other major warnings
Uncaged Ratings: Young Adult No major warnings
Domhnall O’Donoghue Mystery/Crime/Dark Humor Sister Agatha is a colossal 118 years of age, whose vim and vigour would put the most robust athletes to shame. During a routine check-up, however, her doctor claims she has just a week to live, news that proves to be quite inconvenient, seeing as the beloved sister has one ambition in life: to be the oldest person in the world. At last count, she was the fifth. However, never one to admit defeat, Sister Agatha concocts a bold Plan B. Dusting off her passport, she decides to leave Irish shores for the first time in her very long life, and using the few days remaining, plans to travel across three continents and meet the only four people whose birthday cakes boast more candles than hers. And then, one by one, she intends on killing them.
Isle of the Blessed
Suzan Tisdale Historical Romance/Medieval BONUS MATERIAL: Albert & Laurin’s Story. “Trust is the most important thing between husband and wife. If you cannot trust your husband with your heart, your life, or your love, nothing else matters … only give the sword to your husband if you can trust him with all these things.”
Uncaged Review: In this story, you actually get 2 stories in one, both involving the MacAulay brothers and family. As a young lad, Graeme would find the young girl Josephine, hiding from her brother, for one reason or another. And as time went on, Graeme studied abroad, with his passion to learn as much as he could. When the letter came that his parents had arranged a marriage for him, to Josephine of all people, Graeme was so enraged that he didn’t return home until it was close to the time limit. Not wanting to shame his family, he would do the right thing. But what he found when he got home, was not what he exIssue 13 | August 2017 |
Uncaged Reviews pected…. Josephine has been hiding a sword, the Gladius, handed down from her dying mother when she was only 9 yrs old. She was only to give it to the man that that she could love and trust with her body and soul. Will Graeme be that man? The second part of this story is Josephine’s best friend and heart sister, Laurin. Abused, beaten and raped from Josephine’s brother and his friends – Josephine refuses to leave her when the MacAulay’s come to collect her. Graeme’s brother Albert, pays for her freedom and they all go home to the island and the MacAulay keep. This story is mesmerizing. I was hooked within a few pages. I could picture the world in my mind as I read along. The author gives you some danger, sadness, anger and happiness within these stories and brings you to a satisfying conclusion. Reviewed by Cyrene
Uncaged Ratings: Adult No major warnings
Behold! Oddities, Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders Various Horror Anthology
Want to see something weird? Embrace the odd. Satisfy your curiosity. Surrender to wonder.
Sixteen stories and two poems take you into the spaces between the ordinary—and the imaginations of some of today’s masters of dark and thrilling fiction.
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Uncaged Review: This is a vast mixture of odd stories if you are of a curious nature. Some are unknown authors to me in this book, as well as a few known to me, for example Neil Gaiman and Clive Barker. A story that was my fave is an old women visits a charity shop and in the middle of buying some books she spots an ornament that she thinks will look good on her mantelpiece. What she doesn’t know is what she took home was the holy grail. I think all sorts of people will enjoy this book I highly recommend it. Reviewed by Jennifer
Uncaged Ratings: Adult Sex, violence
Best Women’s Erotica Various Anthology/Erotica
Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 1, edited by award-winning author and editor Rachel Kramer Bussel, delivers risky, romantic, heart-pounding thrills. Featuring a diverse range of characters, sexualities and scenarios, these 22 steamy stories revel in erotic adventure, from the sparks between strangers to the knowing caresses of longtime lovers.
Uncaged Review: A collection of very sensual and erotic stories featuring all sorts of people and situations. To a couple who bring strangers back to their bedroom, to an older woman fresh from divorce wanting to feel loved and be alive again. Set in all different time periods. I’m sure there something for everyone in this book. I found it to be a rather enlightening and hot read. Reviewed by Jennifer
Uncaged Ratings: Adult Sex, erotica
Sherri Moorer SciFi Kalea Kerner was an electrical engineer focused on taking over her father’s company, until her uncle sat up from his deathbed and healed her broken foot. The miracle of their healing without the aid of recently developed nanotechnology puzzles doctors, especially when other cases of miracle healings are revealed. When the witnesses to the resurrections demonstrate abilities beyond human capacity, both medical professionals and government leaders are desperate to discover why witnesses to the healings are evolving, while the people who healed them are degenerating through their original diseases. These strange events on the brink of the twenty second century unite doctors, scientists, and ordinary people whose lives have been turned upside down grappling with the possibility that something greater than their advanced technology may have come into the world.
Uncaged Review: A solid SciFi – and even though I’ve read the type of plotline that is the base of this story many times, the author delivered it in a very unique way. When some terminal patients start recovering miraculously and without scientific explanation, and the ones that witness it, are gifted a slight boon in their abilities, you wonder if it’s a miracle, or what else is happening. When the scientific group discover some transmissions coming from outer space, will they be able to find out what and where it’s from before something else happens? I’m not going to give spoilers, but this is a really well written book, but it is a heavily dialog driven story. The author does a good job getting the technical information to the reader via the dialog without slowing down the plot too much. The author also does a pretty good job with the characters, even though I never did
picture them well in my mind like I normally do and even though I liked the characters, I never grew all that attached to them, and this is where the dialog driven narratives fail for me. I think the plotline held my interest and kept a good pace, and it did end on a cliffhanger. Reviewed by Cyrene
Uncaged Ratings: New Adult OK No major warnings
The Accidental Wife
Cj Fosdick Western Romance/Time Travel Self-determined Jessica Brewster is wary of any emotional relationship, after being betrayed in a bet. When the beloved grandmother who raised her dies, she inherits a mysterious teacup which when rubbed transports her back to 1886 in Old Fort Laramie, switching places with her look-alike great-great-grandmother—wife to her ancestor’s magnetic first husband and mother to his charming nine-year-old daughter.
Uncaged Review: Jessica Brewster is mourning the death of her Grandmother when she spots a teacup which transports her to a time period in 1886 where she has to play a charade of wife and mother, plus find a way back to her time. The storyline was well written and thought out. In the book we are subjected to a lot of ups and downs. This is the first book in the Accidental series. A must read for fans of Time Travel Romance. Reviewed by Jennifer
Uncaged Ratings: Adult Sexual activity, language
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Uncaged Reviews Justice Unending
Elizabeth Spencer Young Adult/Fantasy Within the walls of the Bastion, it’s an honor to become a host for an Unending—the bodiless, immortal spirits who rule the country. But for Faye, it meant her sister would have to die. When Faye sneaks into the Mother Duchess’s manor, she just wanted to see her sister one last time. Instead, Faye finds a manor in chaos, a murdered man, and an Unending assassin named Aris who needs a new body—Faye’s body—to bring the Bastion to its knees. Now Faye’s harboring the Bastion’s most wanted criminal. And if she wants to live, she’ll have to escape the Duchess and her immortals, all while keeping Aris from harming anyone else. There’s just one problem—Aris is not the villain. And now Faye is the only one who can help her stop the Duchess before anyone else—and especially Faye— has to die for the Unendings’ whims.
Uncaged Review: The author creates a rich scifi/ fantasy world with a medieval feel to it. Unending are immortal spirits that choose human bodies to inhabit, and in which the human dies in a process called Fixing. This is viewed as an honor, to be chosen, and when Faye’s sister Justine is chosen by an Unending called Belisama, Faye’s heart is broken at the thought of losing her sister. Trying to find a way to see her sister one last time, she witnesses a murder – and trying to flee the Bastion – an Unending embodies her – and urges her to escape. With her best friend Edward’s help, she gets away but struggles with the truth and the Unending inside her. According to Aris, Faye’s Unending, humans don’t have to die to host an Unending, and exposes the side of the Unending that nobody knows of. The author does a great job with the dialog, and the originality of the story. Even though the 98 | UncagedBooks.com
symbiotic relationships between two souls have been told in many ways, the author gives this a fresh take on this relationship and how they learn to trust each other. The pacing is spot on, and I look forward to a book two. Reviewed by Cyrene
Uncaged Ratings: Young Adult Minor violence, no major warnings
Marisa Chenery SciFi Kiri has had the same dream for four years since she was twelve. She travels to another planet, where she meets a boy who teaches her to fight. Always bruised come morning, she knows it’s no ordinary dream.
Uncaged Review: I enjoyed this story for the most part. Since it’s not a really long story, I won’t get that deep into the plot, but it is a SciFi – with a bit of a twist. The classic aliens taking over the planet, and with ships stationed over cities, think of the movie Independence Day – but these aliens aren’t there to necessarily wipe out the human race like in that movie, but all of them aren’t so nice…. There weren’t many surprises in this for me, but I thought the way it was executed kept my interest with a strong female lead, and the alien that holds her heart (whether she realizes that or not). It did end on a cliffhanger, but I would definitely move on and read the next one. Reviewed by Cyrene
Uncaged Ratings: Young Adult No major warnings
Fragile Brilliance Eliot Parker Mystery/Suspense
When off-duty Charleston police sergeant Ronan McCullough responds to the assault of a college student outside a downtown sports bar, he is brutally attacked and nearly killed by the assailants. As he struggles with the physical and emotional damage and doggedly pursues the perpetrators, his personal and professional relationships are strained to the limit; and what he uncovers in his investigation takes him to heart of a deadly drug ring threatening the very core of the city.
iUncaged Review: A fast paced gritty crime book that features on a new drug that’s hitting the streets hard turning up at football games and frat parties. It’s up to Ronan McCullough a police sergeant to put a stop to this. As he gets deeper involved in the case after saving a boy from death while off duty, only to have that same boy turn up dead at a routine football game. It’s a deadly game of cat and mouse in this book and also features a lot of everyday social problems. A must read for any crime thriller fans. I really enjoyed this story. Reviewed by Jennifer
Uncaged Ratings: Adult
Sex, violence, death, drug use, gay relationship
ous man whom she suspects to be the cause of her terrors—and is undeniably the reason she’s still alive. A man who, one minute, is about to kiss her and the next wanst nothing to do with her. Kendra doesn’t remember him or how they are connected, yet as memories resurface she vows to uncover the truth about the residents of the strange town she now calls home and the man that haunts her dreams. Nothing is as it seems as she is plunged into a world filled with trickery, betrayal, and dark desire.
Uncaged Review: The very ordinary life of a girl getting ready to go off to college, and even though she could have chosen any school she wanted to go to study law, she chooses Braxton Law, a college that has kept its historical integrity. Kendra has started having nightmares, and when she gets to college, they only get worse, and the hot guy across the hall, Alaric, isn’t helping matters with his hot and cold attitude. When someone tries to kill Kendra, she has no idea why, but Alaric is there to save her. The next morning, the would-be killers are dead. Kendra starts to get suspicious and wonders if Alaric is more than what he seems on the outside. But everything will reveal itself… This is a love story, that does transcend time – and when everything starts clicking into place, you’ll be turning pages quicker and quicker to get to the end. The ending was satisfying, and I hope the author returns to this world soon. Reviewed by Cyrene
Jessica V. Fisette New Adult/Fantasy Kendra Stephens only wants to survive her first semester at Braxton Law without flunking out. However, she can’t catch a break from the horrid nightmares and dangerous, unexplainable happenings that only worsen at meeting Alaric A’mswirth, a mysteri-
Uncaged Ratings: New Adult Minor violence, no major warnings
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Fang-Freakin-Tastic Reviews Poppy Clarissa Johal Paranormal/Ghosts A red-headed, pink-loving mortician who speaks to the dead. A moody, unsociable funeral director. Poppy and Dante from Struck are back. Something is lingering around Skyview Funeral Home—and it’s stealing souls of the dead. With Dante in tow, Poppy is determined to put a stop to it. Can she protect those who are trying to cross over, or will her soul be next?
Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: Poppy is one of those books that really grabs you in the beginning and doesn’t let go. It’s fun and has quirky characters that occasionally has you laughing and cringing at the same time. This book had me cracking up. The main character, Poppy (duh), sounds super cute and adorable. She is a little clueless in some ways, but not in a way that makes her sound dumb. It’s actually kind of sweet, though frustrating. Especially when it comes to her friendship with Dante. Her personality is fun, even though she has to deal with some crappy situations. She works in a funeral home and sees and talks to ghosts. She usually helps them find their way to the afterlife, but something is stealing the souls of the people she is trying to help, and she needs to find out who or what is doing that. The way Johal has written it, you can tell that Poppy cares about the ghosts she helps. It seems he has an emotional connection to them and legitimately wants to
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help. Overall, I really liked this book. I thought the cover was really nice too, which isn’t something I normally notice or care about. There were times where I felt like there may have been a few too many side characters, but it wasn’t anything that really took away from the story. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a fun and quirky paranormal/ghost book.
Give and Take Emily Cyr Fantasy/Paranormal Addison Fitzpatrick settled her first favor, a cataclysmic repayment that ended with hundreds of Pushers dead. Three months later, she receives a letter from the Vampire who betrayed her trust, asking her to save him. The cryptic letter makes one fact perfectly clear – she has to find Lachlan, assuming he’s not already dead. In doing so, she is forced to do the one thing he asked her not to: involve Cannon. But the search for Lachlan comes with a price. Addison is forced deeper into her debt, just as her life is put in jeopardy when a new danger surfaces. One from her past, stirring up inner demons threatening to take her back to hell. Now Addison must find a way to kill a supernatural being she’s never even heard of, all while protecting her heart from its love for Lachlan, and its confusing stirrings toward Cannon. It was so much easier to hate the vampires. Things are not always what they seem in Addison’s world. The fight to save Lachlan will test her strength, her conviction, and her skill as a Pusher. Will she survive unscathed, or will she let the demons win?
Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: The Vampire Favors series is getting more and more interesting with each book. Give and Take is the 2nd book, and it doesn’t disappoint. Exciting and full of action, this book will keep you on your toes. Cyr’s characters keep growing and growing. We see different aspects of Cannon than we did in the first book. It doesn’t change my dislike of him though. I still want to throat punch him. He is, however, a necessary evil. Addison is…well, Addison. She is still snarky and fun, but tortured at the same time. I’m really curious as to what she is going to do in the next book. Cyr has definitely given her a dilemma that only she can work out. One cool thing about this book is the introduction of an unusual supernatural being that I haven’t heard much of before. I’m not telling you what it is though. Just know that the shit is getting deep in the world of Addison Fitzpatrick. Give and Take is a great continuation of the Vampire Favors series and if you haven’t read the first book, Push and Pull yet, you really should. Each book leaves you dying to know what is going to happen next.
Beneath Claire’s House Corey J. Popp Thriller/Ghosts Sixteen-year-old Claire Young is tormented by a recurring, prophetic nightmare and visitations from gruesome, mutilated ghosts. She’s convinced the apparitions intend to harm her widowed father, but there’s little she can do locked away in Saint Thomas Psychiatric Hospital. Her situation is hopeless until a mysterious priest delivers the name of a man who may be the only one willing to help. Claire launches a daring scheme that leads her and her best friend to a former paranormal investigator. But Claire’s father, convinced his daughter is schizophrenic, will send Claire back to Saint Thomas permanently if he discovers she’s still clinging to her delusions. Claire and her friends must tread lightly to complete the investigation, but amid bizarre twists and chilling encounters, she’ll discover her home’s basement is hiding something far more sinister than just ghosts. Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: This was one creepy YA Horror story. Claire sees ghosts. Super scary ghosts that she is convinced are trying to harm her. Her father’s solution is to put her in a mental health facility where she is diagnosed schizophrenic. But is she really? This book is full of mystery and excitement. Claire seems like such a realistic and likeable character. She’s extremely brave, almost to the point of recklessness. I really loved the way the author put this story together. It moves very quickly, which made me happy because I was dying to find out where these ghosts were coming from and what they
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Fang-Freakin-Tastic Reviews wanted with Claire! The other characters that Claire interacts with are also interesting and some of them, well your heart just goes out for them and their situations. This book is full of horrors that are age appropriate, but still scary. I really love the way this author writes. He is one of the few who can truly creep me up and make me lose sleep. Overall, great story.
Vamped Lucienne Diver Young Adult/Gothic Gina Covello’s “Rules for Surviving Your Senior Prom” (spring issue of Modern Goth Magazine): Rule #1: Do not get so loaded at the after prom party that you accidentally-on-purpose end up in the broom closet with the surprise hottie of the evening, say the class chess champ who’s somewhere lost his Coke-bottle lenses and undergone an extreme makeover, especially if that makeover has anything to do with becoming one of the undead.
Revamped Lucienne Diver Young Adult/Gothic After surviving super spy club training, Gina, Bobby and their fanged friends are sent on their first mission—undercover at a New York high school where some seriously weird stuff is going down. As excited as Gina is to get out of spook central, she’s less than impressed with her new identity as goth-girl
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Geneva Belfry. No color palette to speak of—more chains than a bike rack—and don’t even get her started on the shoes. About the only thing she can say for her all-black wardrobe is that it’s great for hiding blood spatter and other fashion faux pas. And there will be blood. Kids at the high school are going crazy—sudden outbreaks of violence, kids sleepwalking through school or dropping out entirely. Serious magic surges have been detected in the area, along with a mysterious and nearly mythic figure . . . someone who should be long dead and at least thrice buried. Some legends just won’t die.
Fangtastic Lucienne Diver Young Adult/Gothic What do you wear to face down a cadre of killer kids? Gina Covello would rather be working on her manicure than missions for the Feds’ paranormal unit to which she’s been recruited. That changes when a group of killer kids takes out a family in the sunshine state and disappearances begin to plague the lifestylers who play at the kind of existence our fanged fashionista leads. She and her crew are sent undercover into the vampire clubs . . . which turn out to be run by real vampires. While Gina’s BFF Marcy hangs with the steampunk-styled Burgess Brigade that spawned the killer kids, Gina herself is supposed to get in good with the fanged fiends behind the scenes, even to the point of playing double-agent, offering to hand over her powerful boyfriend Bobby. Her playacting threatens to become a bit too real when she discovers things about her spy handlers that make her wonder whether she’s truly on the right side of the battle between
Feds and fangs.
Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: The Vamped series by Lucienne Diver is currently 5 books long. I have 3 finished currently. Overall, so far this is a cute series. It’s not some profound work of amazing literature, but it is sufficient to keep the reader entertained and laughing throughout all 3 of the books I’ve read so far. There is definitely an improvement in Diver’s writing from the first book, Vamped, up through the third, Fangtastic. In the first book, the man character, Gina is incredibly shallow and a bit unrealistic. Not many readers enjoyed her character at all. However, as the series has gone on, luckily Gina has definitely grown as a person and as a character. She is still fairly annoying, but she is a teenager, so that tends to be a trait among them. The series mainly focuses on Gina, but there are several other characters that are interesting as well. Some of them are just plain ridiculous, but I know a lot of teenagers that are, so there’s that. Each story does have its own issues with minor unrealistic situations etc, but overall the story itself is fun to read. Just don’t think too hard about what is going on. These books aren’t meant to change your life or give you a vampire life owner’s manual, just entertain you. Keep in mind, I’ve only read 3 of the 5 and so far I’ve seen improvement with each new story, so if you don’t love the first book, keep trying, they do get much better. I’m greatly enjoying the series and look forward to reading the next 2 books as soon as possible!
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Myra’s Horror Blog Reviews
Revelation J.D. Demers Horror/Dystopian In the months following the Awakening, Christian’s group of survivors grows but they are still outnumbered by the hordes of zombies and scabs plaguing the world. With their security at risk, they must move to safer ground. When Christian and Boomer get separated from the group, Christian is caught in a life or death struggle forcing him to reveal his immunity and hope he can trust the one person who knows his secret. After Fish leads a daring rescue to save a group of specialists, they discover the origin of the virus and a plan is forged to get them to the Hoover Dam. New hope is on the horizon until a betrayal within the camp threatens not only Christian’s life but the lives of all humanity. Myra’s Review: In the 1st book, I wondered about the main character Christian. He was a coward in the beginning, and while I’m willing to give characters a chance, I wouldn’t wish to keep reading a series with a Cowardly Lion that can’t grow into a stronger character. Christian deliveries what I was hoping for in the 2nd book, becoming a bad-ass warrior. 104 | UncagedBooks.com
The group of survivors had a pretty good set up at a hardware store, but then it begins to get invaded by scabs. These creatures are much worse than “normal zombies”. They were people who got bit but didn’t die; are smarter, stronger and faster. With danger becoming overwhelming, the group decides to move to Camp Holly, a less than stellar campground in the pre-apocalyptic day. But it works well strategically, being surrounded on 3 sides by water. Throughout the story, Christian and his fellow survivors meet and save others, growing the community. There’s a traitor in their midst and Fish saves Christian before the man can carry out his vengeful plans. All the while Christian hesitates in sharing the information that he is immune. If it is interpreted incorrectly, he could be shot. Not surprisingly (only to Christian it seems) the others are pleased when they learn of his immunity. At the end, a plan is formulated to take Christian and Dr. Tripp to Hoover Dam, where a lab is housed. I enjoyed the book even a little more than the 1st, probably because I love heroic characters and Christian had grown into one beautifully. The action and vivid descriptions were well done. This series is recommended for zombie fans.
Fall of Night Jonathan Maberry Horror Stebbins Little School is full of bodies. It’s unthinkable to Desdemona Fox. Children are sobbing as panicked teachers and neighbors beat down their family members outside of the school...or the things that used to be their family members. Parents don’t eat their children do they? Officers Fox and Hammond, along with journalist Billy Trout, are calling it the beginning of the end. This is the zombie apocalypse. An insane escaped serial killer is infecting Stebbins County with a deadly virus, and now the whole world is watching while Fox, Trout, and the remaining inhabitants of Stebbins fight for their life against...what? The undead? The President and the National Guard are ready to nuke Stebbins, PA off the map and cut their losses. But the infection is spreading and fast. Worse, the scientist who created the virus is missing. It’s a numbers game as the body count rises; Fox has to contain the infected and evacuate the living before it’s too late, and the clock is ticking... Myra’s Review: In the sequel to Dead of Night, Officer Dez and reporter Billy, continue the fight against the undead. With pulse-pounding intensity, each encounter between humans and zombies is terrifying and memorable. Dez is the leader of the survivors ensconced in the Stebbins school. Meanwhile, the government fire bombs the infected and the uninfected in the town of Stebbins in order to eradicate the virus. But did it work? As those on the outer fringes begin to show signs of infection, it unfortunately is discovered the disease is now airborne. Homer Gibbons and the reluctant reporter Goat, travel from the epicenter. Goat is intent on recording Homer’s story, while the serial killer is dedicated to spreading the virus.
The situation in the school continues to get worse. But, thankfully, a special team sent into scope things out, have decided to help the kids escape. I look forward to seeing where this part of the story goes. Will any of the children and the main characters find a safe haven? I enjoyed the 1st book a bit more, maybe because everything was horrifyingly fresh. I recommend reading Dead of Night first and follow up with this next in the exciting zombie series.
Snake Oil Salesman of the Week Brian Halsey Horror Andy James is an artist, a fighter, and a big time a-hole from the small town of Tuckerton, New Jersey. While in pursuit of artistic greatness, James comes across a shapeshifting (Jersey) Devil during a chance encounter in the isolated Pine Barrens. Confident to a fault, Andy James believes he can get the best of the Devil, but unfortunately loses his soul in the process. Suffering from a carnivorous rage that is a product of the Devil’s sourcery, James goes on a mission to find his evil nemesis. The grueling hunt leaves Andy beaten and taunted by the supernatural and human beings that surround him. With time running out, Andy’s fortune begins to turn when he discovers a loophole in his soulless existence. Armed with sacred knowledge and endless bravado, Andy James returns to the wilderness for a showdown against the most ancient evil known to mankind.
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Myra’s Horror Blog Reviews Myra’s Review: Andy is an artist and floats through life; talented, but not putting in the effort to truly be successful. He is a self-described “ahole”. Seeking a place to create a new painting, Andy runs into a strange man, who is in fact the Devil and old Lucifer tricks Andy out of his soul. H gets into a fistfight with the Devil and wins that round. It was unbelievable that Andy could best a supernatural being, but the tongue-in-cheek writing made it so. The only way Andy can win his soul back is to trick two other people in taking his place. Attempting to take the souls of several men, our “hero” finds each time he can’t do it. Every person he chooses as a potential replacement has some quality that makes Andy pause and reconsider. The ending was surprising, funny and enjoyable. This was a strange story. Not saying it was bad, but different. Most of the characters were on the bottom rung of society and “fit” the setting quite well, since Andy was searching for bad people to take his place. But it was fun to see Andy stumbling through the process, realizing he found good qualities in each one he targeted. Note: There is foul language, many depictions of drunken behavior and drug partying. The author sprinkles philosophical thoughts throughout the story, which were my favorite parts. If you enjoy a story with a wicked sense of humor, where the main character is pitched against the Devil and wins, give this one a try.
Zombie Road David A. Simpson Post Apocalyptic/Humorous The people that tried to kill the world were fiendishly clever. After decades of planning, the contagion was unleashed and overnight hundreds of millions died and came back as rampaging, undead monsters. The living that had been lucky enough to survive the first day of carnage, lucky enough to be in the right place and lucky enough that some of them had the skills they needed, soon found out there was much more to worry about than just zombies. ... Myra’s Review: Two thumbs up!! Truckers versus zombies! I haven’t read another apocalyptic undead novel along these lines. I thoroughly enjoyed the ride. When the outbreak hit, most of the main characters were at the Three Flags truck stop in Nevada; an outof-the-way place in the desert, frequented by truckers and tourists. The owner, Cobb, had made it a sprawling complex of stores, diner, mechanic shop and much more. When the first zombies arrive and attack people outside the diner, Gunny, a prior military man turned trucker, jumps into action. While civilians were trying to figure out what was happening, the truckers (many x military) started securing the buildings and parked big rigs to block doors and windows. The complex was a great set up; secure, with food and other items on hand needed for a siege. But once the water stopped, it was discovered the old well out back would not work. Plus the threat of nuclear plants going hot and with the truck stop in a danger zone from fall-out, a new safe haven had to be found. Gunny had already planned to rescu his wife and son
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in Atlanta, but his plans changed to include everyone at the Three flags, once the two big issues were detected. A convoy of trucks tricked out for repelling the undead headed for an area the government declared as safe. Along the way Gunny would stop in Atlanta.
Myra’s Review: I’ve always thought three settings are the most horrifying when a zombie outbreak starts; a hospital, a traffic jam and an airplane. In this story the passengers & crew of a Boeing 737 were the initial point of zombie contact.
The survivors encounter hordes of zombies who are fast, strong and relentless. The fight scenes, characters and the undead were described well. There were several surprises I don’t want to give away; including who created the zombies and a position in the government Gunny reluctantly accepted. A highly recommended read for zombie fans. Now I can’t wait to read the sequel.
After the infected spread the virus quickly on board, Ray, the pilot, makes an emergency landing in a lake. Luckily for them, Chris, a local, comes to their aid. He has a large cabin nearby and transports everyone that survived the crash there, until help can arrive.
Evolution Z David Bourne Post Apocalyptic After a dramatic plane crash in the wilds of Maine, the survivors of Augusta Airline Flight 303 believe the worst is behind them. Captain Raymond Thompson organizes the group and attempts to get help, but soon it becomes clear that our familiar world has ceased to exist. Everything seems to fall apart, and no one knows the source of the catastrophe. However, the survivors soon learn a basic truth: If you make even one mistake, you pay with your life and become one of “them”.
Meanwhile, Josh, a med student, gets introduced to the undead in the morgue of the hospital where he is training. There are several more characters woven and into the plotline and they are all converging on the same general area, so the reader can see a community will develop. In general the character development was ok, but I didn’t have any feelings toward any except two. Chris was the only one I really liked, and I did not like Ray. I found one scene pretty unbelievable. Ray got drunk in the office of a grocery store, and not only did he leave the front door unsecured, he did not close or lock the office door. If he was trying to commit suicide that’d be understandable, but it was clear he wanted to find his family and make sure they were safe. This book wasn’t bad, but I kept trying to figure out why it missed the mark with me as a reader. Here are several issues: The grammatical errors. They are not overwhelming but the author can easily correct this with an editor’s help. Some scenes felt “rushed”. I never got a sense of dread or fear as I turned the page to see what happens next, even though two out of three places I find terrifying were scenes for zombie activity.
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Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews The Witches of Ravencrest Thorne and Cross Paranormal/Horror Dark and Unnatural Powers In a remote part of California just above the coastal town of Devilswood, Ravencrest Manor, imported stone-by-stone from England more than two centuries ago, looms tall and terrifying, gathering its dark and unnatural powers, and drawing those it wants as its own. Amy’s Review: Stunning and dark A wonderful sequel to The Ghosts of Ravencrest. Enter Ravencrest manor and be prepared to become intertwined with the terrifying powers. This book brings the reader into the depths of its darkness, with murder awaiting. Belinda now lives at Ravencrest, and it tangles with the budding romance between her and Eric. There is more than dark spirits in this story, gripping the reader at every word. The writing is nothing less than I would expect from the duo of Thorne and Cross. Absolutely terrifying and remarkable!
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Take Me to the Pink Yacht Aurora Diamond Romance/Holidays A humorous, heart-warming story. It’s the 90’s during the mafia regime on the island of Sicily. Seventeen-year-old Aurora Derubati has a step-sister she never knew about, who plunges the family into financial problems. Aurora and her three siblings become homeless. They are taken in by a young man, twenty-four-year old Adrién and his sister, Saddy. He enforces strict guardianship on her and parents her closely. When she starts dating, he stalks her. Regardless the annoyance, she has a secret crush on him. Aurora is a sapiosexual. Adrién is chivalrous and good-looking, except he has less education. She is ambivalent. But one unforgettable night reveals who her true love is. Amy’s Review: Wonderfully wild ride! I really enjoyed this book, it took this reader for a wild ride, and I loved that it was filled with likeable characters and a lot of action. It’s a very witty story, and intriguing. I was glued to the pages. I even laughed out loud. I haven’t read from this author before, but I look forward to other books in her writing style. It was a great plot, and filled with twists and surprises.
Shadows and Lies Gerald W. Darnell Mystery/Suspense All Carson Reno Mystery Series Books are standalone novels. It is not necessary to read them in any particular order. What happens when a rich client, three beautiful women, a shifty businessman, a gambler and a missing spouse are all suspected of murder? The results are a merry-go-round of shadows and lies in a house of cards with clues almost as old as Carson. Amy’s Review: Reno is at it again! Of course I am a big Carson Reno fan. Just when you think you figure it out, something happens ... full of intrigue and captivating characters, I loved this story. Reno is one of those unforgettable characters, and Darnell brings the pages to life, with his unique and formidable writing style. Reno grabs your attention and leaves you hanging on every single word. As always, I look forward to whatever comes next from Darnell’s pen and whatever hunt Reno will be on next.
The Killing Collective Gary Starta Mystery/Suspense Longtime detective Stanford Carter and his wife, forensic scientist Jill Seacrest, have always felt one was the yin to the other’s yang. Carter is formal, logical, detached and incredibly reserved. As team leader, he displays an unflagging commitment to duty, a keen sense of logic and strategy, and the poker face of a true champion. Despite his ardent desire to learn the secrets of the universe and its plan for us all, the introspective student of Zen demonstrates an extraordinary inability to understand himself or anyone else. Amy’s Review: Edge-of-your-seat-thrilling! Yes, I am a major fan of Starta’s work, and when asked, I jump at the change to read and review it. There is a writing style behind the story and it keeps this reader engaged, thoroughly. It’s not just the style, it’s the story itself. Enter the killing collective, and be introduced immediately to “The Silver Man”. This story is riveting and compelling (and a bunch of other high end adjectives). Filled with death, mayhem, and conspiracies, this story is not one you put down until the end. The Silver man involves himself in everything, and his words are echoed with terrifying and horrifying actions. “I ask you now; are you prepared to go out like lambs, without so much as a whimper? Or will you fight to the death if you have to?” Absolutely amazing, and highly recommended.
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Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews Fractured Elizabeth Antonucci Memoir From the outside looking in, Elizabeth had the perfect life. She had a family who loved her, numerous friends, and a successful career. No one knew the hurt, pain, and angst she hid inside, struggling to keep herself small so those around her would still like her. It all came to a head on October 23, 2007, when her parents received a call that she was lying lifeless in the ICU in a hospital in Utah—“You better get out here, your daughter is not going to make it.” Amy’s Review: Living life This book is inspiring and it makes one take a look at their life. The story is one that is written by the author about the author, and it’s written in a way that’s empowering. She uses her experience to share with others and how one pivotal moment shaped her life. It’s one of those journeys that one may take when they have been faced with their own death. Life is meant to live, not to sleep through, and this story will tug at your heart and make you look at your own life.
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Determined Weeds Samuel Tanner Biography My mother lost her first three babies. The first was never named. The second, Jayson, was stillborn. Christa was four months premature. She lived one week before passing away in Mom’s arms. My sister Christie was born next. She was also four months premature. Despite assurances that she would not live, Christie left the hospital after an extended stay in an incubator. Christie was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, but she survived. Doctors told my mother that she should not try and have any more children. Amy’s Review: A very provocative and emotional read Just read the book synopsis and you’re hooked. This book is poignant and powerful, and the author shares a story of life experience. His life and his feelings toward his mother, a mother who suffered pain and loss, and dealt with it through alcohol and pills. It is an intimate story where writing it may have helped the author heal and move forward. Strength comes from within and is not always shown by what is expected. Very intense and emotional read.
Directions of the Heart Marie Lavender Romantic Shorts Embark on a remarkable journey of drama, romance, and passion... In all of these amazing stories, there’s one burning question...is love worth the risk?
Amy’s Review: Simply and absolutely ravishing As a fan of Lavender’s, I was looking forward to reading her collection for stories, and I was not disappointed. The stories she shares, hits the heart emotionally and puts that ever so gentle lump in the throat. The stories were put together very well and fit within the premise of the collection. My favorite of the stories was “A Touch of Dawn” and I was immediately stricken when Jack uttered the words “I won’t be like him” and it just made the story real, especially when he was dealing with his own issues, with being personal, with intimacy. I read that story twice, and maybe will read it again. A great collection and definitely highly recommended.
The Lucky One Sherry V. Ostroff Historical Memoir Ita was born in the wrong place at the wrong time. The place was the former Pale of Settlement which was a large swath of land in western Russia where Jews were forced to live for centuries. The year was 1918 and Russia was in the midst of two revolutions. The first occurred with the abdication of the last tsar of Russia culminating in his execution. The second was the bloody civil war that ensued for control of the country. Ita was caught in the middle during this time of great political and social upheaval. Amy’s Review: Amazing story. This story paints a picture of a true story, from the tales of the author’s mother. It was written so it could be a record of family history. It’s a fascinating story of Russian family life and emigration to American. The narrative is wondrous and very gripping. It brings to life customs and rituals. It grips at the heartstrings and shows the oppression and historical relevance of knowing the family’s legacy.
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Published on Aug 1, 2017
Grigoris Drakakis, Featured Authors - Toni V. Sweeney, Rachel Rust, Jack Coleston, R.H. Dixon, K.M. Patterson, Kristen Collins and Corey J....