Issue 3 | October 2016
special creepy edition
Featuring: Myra Nour Andy Peloquin Alexis Duran Savanna Kougar Bronwyn Heeley Sharon L. Higa Susan Crowley Fang-Freakin-Tastic Features! Elizabeth Raven Claire C. Riley Eli Constant
Special Feature: Keith Rommel
The Cursed Man - movie bound!
Ghost Hunt with:
Uncaged Fang-Freakin-Tastic Myra’s Horror Blog Reviews Amy’s Bookshelf
Interview • Stay Connected • Excerpt from Demon Killer • Reviews of Demon Killer, Be Mine Forever & Better Than Candy. page
Issue 3 | Octo
Interview • Stay Connected • Excerpts from Running Scared• Reviews of Running Scared & Hunted page
Interview • Stay Connected • Excerpts from Blade of the Destroyer & Lament of the Fallen • Review of Blade of the Destroyer page
AlexisDuran Interview • Stay Connected • Excerpt from Betwixt & Between • Review of Betwixt & page Between
SavannaKougar Interview • Stay Connected • Excerpt from Kandy Apple and Her Hellhounds • Reviews of Kandy Apple and page Her Hellhounds
Interview • Stay Connected • Excerpt from Horrors and Occupational Hazards • Review of Where the Dead Have Gone page
SusanCrowley Interview • Stay Connected • Excerpt from Vampire King of New York • Review of Vampire King of New York page
Interview • Excerpts from Matanzas Moon & Matanzas Moon: Ablaze • Reviews page
ClaireCRiley Excerpts from Out of the Dark • Review
The Cursed Man becomes a major motion picture, Keith talks to Uncaged about his experience • Read an excerpt from The Cursed Man • Review of The Cursed Man page
EliConstant Excerpts from Mastic - The Tears of Chios• Review of Dead Trees 1
GhostHunt Author Elizabeth Raven goes on a Ghost Hunt with Melanie from Fang-FreakinTastic!
4 Editor’s Desk 5 Links You Can Use 97 New Releases 100 Uncaged Reviews 110 Fang-Freakin-Tastic Reviews 114 Myra’s Horror Blog Reviews 120 Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews
Issue 3 | October 2016 |
Welcome to the Special Creepy Edition of Uncaged Book Reviews! This month we celebrate all that is chilling for the spooky month of October. This month, dig in to our featured authors: Myra Nour, Andy Peloquin, Alexis Duran, Savanna Kougar, Bronwyn Heeley, Sharon L. Higa and Susan Crowley! But we aren’t stopping there! Author Keith Rommel is honoring Uncaged with a special feature - his book The Cursed Man is movie bound and will release on October 31 in select theaters! Keith also wrote the screenplay, and if the movie is as good as the book, then we will be in for a real treat!
Fang-Freakin-Tastic Reviews are also reporting on a Ghost Hunt with author Elizabeth Raven! Fang-Freakin-Tastic is also sending some Author Features our way, with Elizabeth Raven, Claire C. Riley and Eli Constant. Can I just say wow? There are also reviews from Uncaged, Fang-Freakin-Tastic, Myra’s Horror Blog Reviews and Amy’s Bookshelf! Be sure to check out MyraNour.net and her blog, as she dives into the horror genre. You can find their banners on the Blog Roll Call. Be sure to check out their blogs for many more reviews! The response to this magazine has been amazing. I can’t begin to thank the authors, readers, publishers, promoters and author assistants for jumping onboard and being just as excited to be a part of Uncaged as I am to bring you a fun magazine each month. What a wild ride this has become, and in all the good ways. I hope you enjoy this larger edition, and return each month. As for the raven on the front cover, I’ve had a lot of response from everyone, waiting to see what he’ll do next. As he’s become a small side story on his own, you’ve made it fun to surprise you with his antics each month - so thank you! 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. Pretty simple, right? The response has been humbling. Please see the “Advertising in Uncaged” tab on the blog for more information on how you can advertise in the magazine.
Reviews: Authors & Readers: Please see “Reviews/Features Info” tab on the blog for more information. Blogs: If you’d like to partner with Uncaged with your own review section, please email me. All inquiries: UncagedBooks@gmail.com or email@example.com So thank you and enjoy the October issue of Uncaged Book Reviews!
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On any day, you can go to Goodreads and find author giveaways. Great way to discover new authors and enter to win free books, both print and eBooks. https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway
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This site will sniff out all the free eBooks being offered on Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Amazon. Choose the site you’re looking for in the drop down list. I’ve found many new authors in Amazon’s freebies, but sometimes searching can be daunting. This site helps narrow down the search.
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http://www.freebooksifter.com/ Of course, Amazon has free Kindle books at all times. Thousands of them. If you feel like slogging through the seemingly never-ending list, you can find some real gems. Here is the best link, just pick the category on the left to help narrow down the search. https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ ss_i_2_4?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&fieldkeywords=free+kindle+books&sprefix=free%2Ca ps%2C236
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If you’d like your banner here, please email me at UncagedBooks@gmail.com Issue 3 | October 2016 |
featureauthor Myra Nour
Interview What Myraâ€™s been up to Stay Connected Follow Myra Excerpt from Demon Killer Reviews
| FEATURE AUTHOR | When the decision was made to take Uncaged into the Paranormal/Horror genres for the month of October, the first author I wanted to join in was Myra Nour. I worked for Myra for a couple years at BTS Book Reviews, and when BTS folded, she was very enthusiastic about my new venture with Uncaged. She is also Head of Promotions for Uncaged, and I’m so thrilled she agreed to be here this month. She’s also become a good friend. All I can say is “Keep writing Myra!” She is one of those people who was “born to write.” :) First off, thank you so much for taking the time for the interview! 1) What was your first book? When did you realize you wanted to be an author? Love’s Captive. While attending college I started writing short stories. Most have been published in a small magazine and one in Twilight Times emag. I did not really get serious about writing until I dreamed Love’s Captive one night in 1977. The synopsis got stuck in a drawer and not written until 1997, and then published in 2001. 2) Who are some of your favorite authors now, and what genres do you tend to read the most? I love horror, ever since I used to sit up with my brothers and watch those old late night horror movies like Frankenstein and the Werewolf. Even though Stephen King is my favorite author, I never thought about writing horror until recently. When I read, it is usually horror, and mostly zombie stories. These creatures used to scare the heck out of me and I had horrible nightmares if I watched a zombie movie. But I grew to like the characters & storyline when the movie or book is well-written. I am fascinated with how people
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survive a zombie apocalypse; the actual struggle and how an individual character develops through the drastic circumstances of their world. I am a big The Walking Dead fan. A few of my favorite authors who write zombie stories are Jonathan Maberry, Joe McKinney & Bobby Adair. 3) I’ve read four of your stories now, and they all share one thing in common. The writing proves that you were meant to be an author. The stories are original and well thought out and so well written, that you take your readers into the story with you. What inspires the stories for you? Thank you so much. Depends on the story. I know you recently read Be Mine Forever, a short story with a female serial killer. The idea came from an exercise in a creative writing class. Pick a word and create a story around it. Mine was hatchet.:) Demon Killer – I can’t remember where that came from, but I’d guess a dream, where I often get inspiration. Better Than Candy – A zombie short story about a young boy. I purposely tried to think of the most horrific aspect of a zombie story I could create; it was about a child turning into a zombie. Legacy of Death came from a dream. 4) A lot of books, I can predict a lot of the events in them but I really love the fact that you add some twists to stories that I don’t see coming. That just steps the book up another notch for me. What is the most difficult to write? What’s the easiest? Difficult, you are going to laugh. I hate writing
| MYRA NOUR | blurbs!! Easiest, dialogue between characters. I love interactions. The twists just come from my wild imagination. 5) Where is your favorite place to write? A lot of authors love to listen to music, and even have a playlist for their book. Do you like to listen to music while writing, or do you prefer quiet? I have an office so that is my favorite place to write. Sometimes I take a notebook with me if we are going to the park for example, which is a nice environment to get creative. Honestly, I can write anywhere if the muse is strong. My most prolific writing was when I worked a job and I wrote on my notebook during breaks. Music – Nada. I like quiet. 6) What’s in the near future for you? What can we expect to see coming? Loose Id is republishing one of my old Ellora’s Cave book – Shifter’s Desire: Vampire Fangs & Venom. I toned it down from an erotic to a sensual level. Not everyone wants to read erotic so I figured this is a good way to reach new readers with a good oldie. It was my bestseller at EC. If we are both happy with how it does, then I’ll be giving them the rest of my older titles from EC. My blog will keep building; it’s grown tremendously in views in just over 2 months. I’m going to keep writing zombie short stories to publish for free so readers can get a taste of my horror writing.
LOL. See answers above. YES. One last thing about the zombie novel I’m working on…my daughter kept bugging me to write a zombie tale. I said no, not unless I came up with a unique twist. I wasn’t sure about that, because there are so many zombie stories. Many have a lot in common. And I did come up with a new idea. 8) What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? Check out my blog. If you love horror please check out my stories. If you love romance check out my new release from Loose Id when it comes out (don’t know date yet). Look for my Horror Reviews in Uncaged Book Reviews starting in the Oct 2016 issue. Myra Nour is the author of several best-selling romance novels, including Love’s Captive. She retired as CEO of BTSeMag in January 2016 and began focusing on her horror books. She is a huge fan of horror, loves The Walking Dead and devours zombie books. She is currently working a zombie novel of her own. Loose Id will soon be republishing one of her older titles from Ellora’s Cave, Shifter’s Desire: Vampire Fangs & Venom.
Eventually, I will finish the zombie novel I’m working on and publish it; either traditional or Indie. 7) Are we going to see more horror/paranormal in the near future?
Issue 3 | October 2016 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR |
Enjoy an excerpt from Demon Killer Demon Killer Myra Nour Horror/Fantasy Blurb: Attacked by a soldier of the demon race, a young woman has a child from their union. To her horror, he bears the mark of the demon, and her people will stop at nothing to kill it. Being part fairy, Azra uses her magic to try and save her child from his demon blood. In spite of her best efforts, he briefly turns into the monstrous Sartwor beast, slaying her entire village. A perilous journey to the home of the pure blood fairies ensues as she races to save Bretuck before he turns into the beast again. This time she may not be able to pull him from the grasp of the creature ruling his body. Can a mother’s love prevail over her son’s cursed blood? Excerpt 1 The trees surrounding the glen where the witch was reported to live were bent over and twisted into odd shapes, as if they suffered arthritic pains. It was dusky dark under those snake-like contortions of limb and leaves, and smelled of mold and dampness under the deep purplish shade. Azra felt sure sunlight had never touched the earth beneath the overhanging giants, yet the sun had seared her shoulders before stepping into the trees gloom but a moment before. At first glance, she thought there was an overgrown hill nestled between the giants, but in reality, it was a profusion of vines and greenishblack creepers crawling into and over a tiny hut. A small door was barely distinguishable between the virulent growth, but someone kept the door-
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way cleared. Before her hand descended on the cracked wood, an ancient sounding voice called for her to enter. Her nostrils flared, offended by the strange smells emanating from within, the sickening mingling of ancient magic making it worse. Dark power. Dark magic. She shivered in reaction. She found a haggard old woman with lank hair dragging the ground, sitting on a small stool and stirring a smelly concoction in a hearth blackened pot. The interior was darker than the tree shadows, relieved only by the hearth fire, which threw out shoots of sparks and faint light. It lit the witch’s face and Azra realized she’d held her breath for a horrified moment, for the old crone looked an ogre in its lair. The woman grinned widely showing two bone white teeth, everything else in her mouth blackened or greenish with decay. Azra shivered as she realized how the witch’s appearance replicated the hut’s exterior, and the old sorceress knew well the image she created. “Fairy child, come to the old witch for help, eh?” Excerpt 2 Rounding a tree, she came face to face with a scene from hell and what must be an escaped beast from its bowels. A huge, hulking creature stood over the mangled and torn remains of several villagers. Its skin was a dark green, knotted with strange configurations of flesh on its skin, as if its muscle fought for dominance and pushed upward into the flesh from beneath. A weepy wetness made the skin shiny and oily; it reeked of slaughtering pens where the leavings had rotted for a day in the hot air. The putrid ripe odor caused Azra to grab her nose and also gained the beast’s attention. As its eyes pinned her location, she was frozen, couldn’t move if her life depended on it -– and it did. The gaping mouth filled with two-inch
| MYRA NOUR | horrific jagged teeth opened as if pleased with her presence. Blood, bits of flesh and dripping strings of saliva drooled from its jaws as it started toward her. “Tarsha!” She commanded loudly, thrusting both arms outward at the same time. It was a powerful word, one used to immobilize. The nightmarish creature shook its head slightly, as if she had muddled its thoughts temporarily, then thudded the few steps it took to be within striking distance. One solitary tear trickled down her cheek as she whispered, “Bretuck, I’m sorry.” The beast stumbled, then straightened, a stunned look crossed its grotesque face. A gurgling “augh” poured from its rasping throat. The thing screeched in agony, plunged to its knees with a crash and lifted its tortured eyes to hers with a pitiful expression, if such were possible with such a beast. A quiver of responding pity flashed through her and horrified at her reaction, Azra took a step backward. The monster thrust his arms toward and cried out. Reviews for Demon Killer, Better Than Candy and Be Mine Forever. Uncaged Reviews Demon Killer ~~~~ This is a supernatural story, of a half faerie girl – Azra, who is attacked and raped very young by a demon warrior and becomes pregnant from the demon. When the baby is born with the demon’s eyes, she will do anything to protect her child, and fears for his life. After dire circumstances in her home village, she goes on the run with her son to keep him safe, never staying in one place too long. This dark fantasy is a shorter read, but
very well executed and flows perfectly. Azra is a strong, smart heroine and the story keeps you turning the pages to find out if Azra can find a way to keep her son safe. Well written, well thought-out and the ending is very satisfying. Be Mine Forever ~~~~ This is a very mind-blowing, engaging short story that sucks you in and twists around enough to keep you gasping. John is a very introverted man and lives a life of solitude with his prize pet goldfish, Charlie. He was plain, ordinary and never even had a girlfriend. One night, after work, John decides to go to the local bar for a beer, and a flamboyant woman sits next to him and starts a conversation. One thing leads to another, and the next thing that happens is John brings the woman home with him, not believing his luck in finding her. Although I guessed something was going to happen, I never really guessed all that happened. In a very short amount of time and space, the author gives you character depth that is not often seen in short stories. I’m betting as I read the last 2 pages, my eyes were as wide as saucers. Short stories don’t get much better than this. Better Than Candy ~~~~ From the start, I was yanked into this story – and I couldn’t stop reading. A young boy is hiding in his basement, trying to stay as quiet as he can, so the “monsters” upstairs won’t hear him. All the emotions and things he’s feeling, you are pulled right along with him. When he finally gets Issue 3 | October 2016 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | the courage to come out from his hiding place, things take a turn pretty fast. This is a great short story, very mesmerizing. I had to read to the end without pause, and there is a twist to this story at the end that surprised me, and that’s not easy to do. Honestly? I think this would be a great short story, that would be a perfect companion to a longer novel. All books are rated the same:
Uncaged Ratings: Adult All Books Horror/Fantasy Graphic Violence Adult Themes
Better Than Candy Myra Nour Horror Free Short Story Blurb: Matt was terrified of the monsters his parents told him were outside their home. But he was bored. None of his friends were allowed outside; no more baseball games or riding their bikes in the neighborhood. He sneaks into the backyard to play. It should be safe, they had a tall privacy fence. When he is bitten by something he didn’t see, Matt runs to the basement to hide. His parents were going to be so mad he’d disobeyed them.
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Soon, he hears sounds from upstairs that petrify him. Non-human sounds.
Be Mine Forever House of Terrors Anthology Myra Nour Horror Blurb: Welcome to the House of Terrors! Monsters, torturers and serial killers abound in this collection of horror stories not for the faint of heart, written by both established and up and coming new authors. In the darkness within us all resides a demon no one can destroy, one that feeds on carnage and mayhem. Though you may try to deny this, you know it’s true. Human beings are no more than animals, filled with selfishness, greed and evil intentions. Will you face your true self or continue hiding in the shadows? If unsure, then delve into these pages of terror and unlock your innermost fears. Be Mine Forver Blurb: John leads a boring, humdrum life. He wishes for a change; anything to add interest to his existence. When an attractive woman at the local bar wants to go home with him, John can’t believe his luck. She is a fabulous lover and he desperately hopes things will continue to evolve between. But Miranda holds dark secrets, one a deadly hatchet hidden in her purse. John’s life diverts in a way he couldn’t have dreamed of…and couldn’t possibly want.
featureauthor Andy Peloquin
Interview Whatâ€™s next for Andy Stay Connected Never miss an update Excerpts from Blade of the Destroyer & Lament of the Fallen Review
| FEATURE AUTHOR | I was completely blown away by Andy Peloquin’s writing. His novel drew me in, and I was captivated. I am thrilled to have him be a part of Uncaged. First off, thank you so much for taking the time for the interview! 1) What was your first book? When did you realize you wanted to be an author? My first book (one that will thankfully never see the light) was a cross between Jason Bourne, Mission Impossible, and The Transporter--the testosterone-fueled martial arts and shootoutheavy book every 15-year old boy wants to read. My first published book was In the Days: A Tale of the Forgotten Continent. I began work on it at the age of 18, and worked at it off and on until 19-20. But I put it aside for about 6 years, then picked it back up in 2013. Within 4 months, it was completed, edited, and published. I’ve been writing since I was a pre-teen, but I didn’t know I wanted to be an author until someone I respect said, “Wow, I want to publish this” to a piece of short prose I sent her. That made me realize that my writing had value, and it stimulated my creative mind to start producing all sorts of amazing, scary, and thrilling stories. 2) Who are some of your favorite authors now, and what genres do you tend to read the most? I’m pretty much a fantasy reader, though I have been known to dabble in sci-fi now and again. My favorite authors are Brandon Sanderson and Scott Lynch. Between Sanderson’s worlds and Lynch’s characters, I have all the fuel I need to feed my book addiction.
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3) A lot of times, an author tells me that the story is inside them, begging to get out – does this happen to you also? What do you love most about the writing process? What do you dislike about it? I wouldn’t consider my stories living things that need to come out, but I’m very much a completionist. If I start telling a story, I HAVE to finish telling it. I won’t start writing something until I’m sure I will follow through with it, else I’ll have the nagging in the back of my mind to finish it. However, there have been times when the story does burst out of me. The minute I start to write down ideas, it begins to form completely, and I’ve literally pulled over to the side of the highway to get a story written before I lose it. The best and worst part of the writing process is the writing itself. You can’t help but love those times when it’s flowing, and it seems every word you type is just magic on a page. Then there are those times when NOTHING flows, and it’s like running through mud just to finish the paragraph just right. But those highs and lows are a major part of being an author, and you can’t have one without the other. 4) Blade of the Destroyer. This book was a dark, gothic fantasy/horror, but completely engrossing story. It’s not my normal type of go-to book, but I really was hooked. Where did this story come from? The world you built in Voramis was so intriguing, how much research goes into your books? The story of the Hunter (the assassin protagonist of Blade of the Destroyer) came about because I LOVE the stories of criminals: thieves, murderers, con artists, bandits, and killers. I wanted to tell a unique story about an anti-hero. Instead of a
| ANDY PELOQUIN | shining prince or knight, it was a cynical, violent, ruthless killer who kills first and asks questions later. How can you not want to read a story like that? There’s so much potential for terrible lows and epic highs! With the city of Voramis, I tried to show the truth of medieval societies. For every lavish church building or palatial mansion, there was a dilapidated convent, a neighborhood of criminals, and areas dedicated to vice and crime. There’s the beauty and ugliness in every part of life, and that’s what I wanted to bring out in this world I’ve created. The Hunter places his own unique value on things. He doesn’t need money, and has no value for gold or jewels. But it’s the little things--a tasty meal, a beautiful smell--that really makes him happy. Even a child’s smile is priceless in a world where children are abandoned, enslaved, and abused. I would say a good deal of research goes into my books, but not always in terms of world-building. Instead, I research the characters, more specifically their defects and flaws. For example, the Hunter has a form of multiple personality disorder, and he interacts with characters with schizophrenia, personality disorders, and other emotional and neurological conditions. THAT is what intrigues me the most, so that’s what my research focuses on. The characters he meets in his journey are what really bring the world to life! 5) Where is your favorite place to write? A lot of authors love to listen to music, and even have a playlist for their book. Do you like to listen to music while writing, or do you prefer quiet? I HAVE to have music while writing, though there are times when I’m trying to concentrate so hard that I turn the music off. But I do have my
fiction writing playlist, and I get my best work done sitting at my desk. I can write at pretty much any time of the day, though I love it first thing in the morning. Nothing like a quiet house and a big cup of coffee to start the day off right! 6) I know that Blade of the Destroyer is the first book in the series, and there is one more out, Lament of the Fallen, which I have not read, but it’s on my mental reading list, is the second book the end of the series or are there more planned? You’ll be happy to know that Lament of the Fallen is just Book 2 out of 6. Book 3 is already submitted to the publisher, and I’ll have Book 4 about 60% done by year’s end. I intend to have all six books published by 2018/19, and there will be more stories (short stories, novellas, and novels) set in the same city and world. The Hunter’s story will end at Book 6, but the world has so many amazing stories to tell that I don’t plan on leaving it any time soon. Uncaged follow-up - I’m very excited about the continuing story of the Hunter. I will MAKE the time for these books. 7) What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? I will say this much: once you look past the violence and action in this book, you’ll realize that it’s the story of an outcast trying to find his place in the world. It’s an intensely personal story that most of us can relate to, which is why I feel it’s so vital that it’s told. Even if fantasy isn’t your genre of choice, give it a try. Fantasy provides us with an escape, a way to forget about our mundane problems and step into worlds where anything is possible. It tran-
Issue 3 | October 2016 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | scends age, gender, religion, race, or lifestyle--it is our way of believing what cannot be, delving into the unknowable, and discovering hidden truths about ourselves and our world in a brand new way. You can find me everywhere, all under the name Andy Peloquin
Enjoy an excerpt from Blade of the Destroyer Blade of the Destroyer Andy Peloquin Dark Fantasy/Horror The Hunter of Voramis is the perfect assassin: Ruthless, Unrelenting, Immortal. Yet he is haunted by lost memories, bonded to a cursed dagger that feeds him power yet denies him peace of mind. Within him rages an unquenchable need for blood and death.
I am, first and foremost, a storyteller and an artist--words are my palette. Fantasy is my genre of choice, and I love to explore the darker side of human nature through the filter of fantasy heroes, villains, and everything in between. I’m also a freelance writer, a book lover, and a guy who just loves to meet new people and spend hours talking about my fascination for the worlds I encounter in the pages of fantasy novels. Fantasy provides us with an escape, a way to forget about our mundane problems and step into worlds where anything is possible. It transcends age, gender, religion, race, or lifestyle--it is our way of believing what cannot be, delving into the unknowable, and discovering hidden truths about ourselves and our world in a brand new way. Fiction at its very best!
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When he accepts a contract to avenge the stolen innocence of a girl, the Hunter becomes the prey. The death of a seemingly random target sends him hurtling toward destruction, yet could his path also lead to the truth of his buried past?
A chill hung in the night air, and sweat dripped down the nameless nobleman’s back, soaking his thick tunic. He clenched his fists to still his shaking hands. His nondescript clothing blended with the rough crowd of the Blackfall District, and yet he felt eyes upon him, following his every step. He cast anxious glances around the darkened alleyway, searching for a sign of…what? By Derelana, why do I fear so? Perhaps it was the terror of a moonless night, or the instinctive fear dredged up at the thought of meeting the legendary Hunter of Voramis. He chided himself. Fuck me for a jumpy little princess! He would rather be somewhere else, anywhere else, but here. He had no desire to face the creature the mothers of Voramis used to threaten
| ANDY PELOQUIN | their children into behaving. His mother had used those legends to frighten him, and he had developed a healthy fear. Get it together. You have a job to do. Get in, get it done, and get the fiery hell out of there! The doors to the dilapidated tavern swung shut behind, but none of the handful of patrons at the tables paid him any heed. He slipped a pair of copper bits into the bartender’s hand. “Top of the stairs, door at the end of the hall,” the portly pub landlord drawled as he made the coins disappear. The stairs creaked dangerously as the noble climbed, but he forced himself to place one foot in front of the other. The smell of mold filled his nostrils and threatened to make him sneeze. Swallowing hard, he stared at the door at the end of the darkened hall. It looked like something out of his nightmares, and it made his blood run cold. “Hello?” he called in a weak voice as he entered the room. He saw no one in the gloomy darkness, and breathed a sigh of relief as he closed the door behind him. Believing himself alone, the noble took deep, calming breaths. “What brings you to the underbelly of Voramis, little man?” The voice sounded far too close for the nobleman’s liking. He leapt backward, a feminine squeak bursting from his mouth. His back slammed against the door, knocking the breath from his lungs. Fucking Hunter! The nobleman struggled to regain his composure, trying to ignore the thick drops of sweat rolling down his face and coating his palms. “I-I-I h-have a c-c-commission for you, er, Hunter, sir,” he managed to stutter. “Tell me more,” the Hunter said in a rough voice. He stepped forward, pulling back his hood. Scars crisscrossed the dark face, twisting his upper lip into a perpetual sneer. Heavy brows hooded his dark eyes, and his crooked nose had been broken and badly set. A scarlet ribbon bound his
midnight black hair, which hung in long, greasy strands. Bloody twisted hell, no wonder he hides himself. I would too if I looked like that! The nobleman realized his mouth hung open, and snapped it shut. He belatedly tried to hide his revulsion at seeing the Hunter’s grim visage, but knew it had shown through. The dark figure with the horrible face waited in silence, clearly unaffected by the nobleman’s disdain. “My, er, master,” stuttered the shaken man, gulping as he spoke, “requests your services in a matter of a…er… delicate nature.” The Hunter raised an eyebrow. “Your master understands that delicate situations cost more?” “Of course, sir, er, Hunter. I have more than enough to c-cover any extras beyond your usual fees.” The nobleman removed a leather purse from his cloak. His hand trembled as he passed it to the Hunter, who balanced it in a burn-scarred hand. “Good. It will suffice.” The purse disappeared into the Hunter’s cloak with a movement that caused the noble to jump. His cheeks burned with shame, and he saw mockery in the Hunter’s cold eyes. “You have the other item?” the Hunter demanded. “Of-of course,” the noble stammered. He fished around in his robes for a moment before producing a handkerchief. His fingers brushed dangerously close to the Hunter’s hand as the assassin took the kerchief, and the aristocrat’s skin crawled. “I-I hope it is enough,” the noble whispered, the fear in his voice audible. “It was all my master could procure.” The Hunter’s rough fingers traced the initials embroidered in one corner of the delicate cloth. G.D. “It will do,” the Hunter rasped. “So you will take the job? You’ll make the coward pay for his affront to my master? The swine—” Issue 3 | October 2016 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | The Hunter cut him off. “I care little for your master’s reasons why, as long as his coin is good. The job will be done.” He pulled the hood up, obscuring all but his mouth from the nobleman’s view. “Does your master have any special requests?” “No,” the noble replied. “He simply wishes for the job to be done before the Feast of the Mistress, and would prefer the target die in his own home. It is to send a message, you see, to all the nobles of Voramis that—” “No details, fool,” the Hunter growled, interrupting him. “They matter not.” The nobleman stiffened, offended at the Hunter’s interruption. The muscles in his back went rigid, and he somehow summoned up the courage to glare at the Hunter. One look into the dark hood, however, and his pride deflated. “Good.” The Hunter’s mouth twisted into a horrifying semblance of a grin. “I will contact you when the job is complete.” Shuffling nervously from foot to foot, the noble called upon all of his limited courage and limitless self-importance to stand tall, when he wanted nothing more than to flee. He thought he detected a smile twitch the corner of the Hunter’s lips. “Have the rest of the sum at hand,” the Hunter grated. “I will expect it once I have carried out the contract.” “Of-of course,” the noble said, “I will…” He trailed off as he found himself talking to an empty room. The Hunter had simply disappeared, startling him and leaving him feeling like a fool. Long moments passed before the noble regained his shattered composure. The darkness of the room haunted him, and his eyes darted around as if expecting to see the Hunter standing there once more. His breath came in ragged gasps, and every muscle in his body tensed in fear. “Fucking Hunter,” he cursed in a quiet voice. He wiped sweaty palms on his fine robes, and his hands shook as he reached for the doorknob.
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His fear diminished with each shaky step toward the dim light of the stairwell, his relief growing as he stepped into the smoky alehouse taproom. Ignoring the few patrons sitting and drinking, he stumbled into the cool Voramis night. He breathed deep, filling his lungs with the foulsmelling air and letting the chill calm his nerves. “Fucking Hunter,” he repeated. The curse helped to restore some of his shaken confidence. His sweat-sodden robes clung to his body, causing him to shudder and pull his cloak tighter. The heavy garment offered some protection from the cold, but the noble knew it would be hours before he would be able to sit without feeling a stab of panic. With his attention consumed by his desire to leave the stinking alehouse and the horrific memory of the Hunter’s scarred visage behind, the terrified man failed to notice the dark figure sitting on the inn rooftop. Midnight black eyes followed the noble’s steps, and a scarlet ribbon fluttered in the breeze.
Enjoy an excerpt from Lament of the Fallen Lament of the Fallen Andy Peloquin Dark Fantasy/Horror The Hunter of Voramis is no more. Alone with the bloodthirsty voices in his head, fleeing the pain of loss, he has one objective; travel North to find her, the mystery woman who plagues his dreams and haunts his memories. When he stumbles upon a bandit attack, something within urges him to help. His actions set him at odds with the warrior priests commanded to hunt down the Bucelarii. Left for dead, the Hunter must travel to Malan-
| ANDY PELOQUIN | dria to recover his stolen birthright. There, he is inexorably drawn into direct conflict with the Order of Midas, the faceless, nameless group of magicians that holds the city in a grip of terror. All while struggling to silence the ever-louder voice in his mind that drives him to kill. Excerpt ~~~~ He filled his lungs with the fresh night air. The taste of smoke mixed with the earthy scent of loam. The warmth of the fire soothed and relaxed him, the hypnotic rhythm of the dancing flames calming his mind. The fatigue of the day washed over him, and he allowed his eyelids to droop. The visions came then; memories leapt out at him. Within the bright depths of the flames, he saw the hell he had glimpsed in the Serenii tunnels. Lord Jahel’s face appeared in the fire, laughing, mocking. Bone and skin morphed into the faces of Lord Cyrannius and the First of the Bloody Hand. Shuddering waves of flesh and gristle writhed, shifting, transforming. Demons roam Einan once more. People treat them as myth and legend, but I know the truth. The Hunter retreated deeper into his blankets, his sword clutched to his chest. He told himself it was out of habit rather than fear. He had left Voramis behind, not only to find the truth of the woman whose face plagued him, but to discover the truth of the demons. Curiosity drove him to learn of his past, and his own heritage as a Bucelarii—descendant of the Abiarazi horde. The demon added its voice to the swirling maelstrom in the Hunter’s mind. ‘He disowns his blood, all to play the hero, the protector.’ The Hunter was too tired to fight it off.
I’m no hero. If it was up to me, they’d all rot. He had no desire to save the world. He had no reason to save humans from themselves. A vision of horror flashed through his mind. Creatures of nightmares seized a screaming child, tearing at pale skin with razor-tipped claws. Blood splashed across chitinous armor as the demons ripped the child apart in their haste to devour the flesh. The girl bore Farida’s face. She lay bloody, mangled, discarded like refuse, gasping her last agonizing breaths. Oh, child. I am so sorry. He wished he could scrub the memory from his mind forever. With it gone, the sorrow would leave. He needed no reminder that he was once again alone. He turned his back on the fire and buried his face in his cloak. He could turn his back on those who had feared and hated him, yet he had not the strength to hide his face from the suffering of innocents. People like Old Nan, Ellinor, Little Arlo. They would suffer most should the Abiarazi find their way into the world once more. The demon whispered in his mind. ‘Why must you protect them? You are not one of them, after all. You are Bucelarii.’ They do not deserve such suffering. He squeezed his eyes shut and pushed back against the demon’s voice. I’m doing this for them. He pictured Farida the way he had seen her that day in the Temple District, with that same bright smile. She was happy. That was what mattered, and that was what he would remember. I’m doing this for her. Issue 3 | October 2016 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR |
Uncaged Review Blade of the Destroyer What an intriguing world that is built here. This very dark, very violent story grabbed me within the first chapter, and never quit. Non-stop action. You are hurtled into a medieval world, of scum and villainy, where the wealthy are the true heathens and sinners. Hunter is a paid assassin, living in a medieval city of Voramis. His companion, is a blade called Soulhunger, which steals the essence and souls of the people Hunter kills, and feeds their power and energy back to him. Hunter is very much alone in his life, with only some beggards that live in his dilapitated buildings and a young girl who sells flowers from a cart are the only people that he truly cares about. Hunter wears many disguises to keep his true self secret. When he kills a priest on a contract, all hell breaks loose, and he himself is hunted. Hunter has no idea who or what he is, and these questions will start getting answers, and the story will keep surprising its reader. Hunter is as evil, or even more so than the ones he kills. But the author expertly weaves the story and the character so well, you actually care about this guy, and find yourself cheering him on. You are rooting for him even when you swore you’d hate this guy through the whole book when you’ve read the first couple of chapters. This book is violent, and gory and definitely not for the faint of heart. I’m not going to be a spoiler person here, but there is so much to this story, you get wrapped into the world easily. I can easily see this as a movie – it’s described so well, that I can see the world in my mind as I read along. I definitely have plans to pick up the second book that continues this world in the near future.
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Uncaged Ratings: Adult
Dark Fantasy/Gothic/Horror Graphic Violence
specialfeature Keith Rommel
Special Interview The Cursed Man goes to the big screen! Excerpt from The Cursed Man
| SPECIAL FEATURE |
For a very special treat, this month Uncaged is honored to talk to Keith Rommel, his book, The Cursed Man, will be a major motion picture and be released on October 31, 2016 in select theaters. And if that’s not all the excitement, Keith’s book The Lurking Man, will also be made into a film. So exciting for Keith! This very talented author also wrote the screenplays, and he talks about his experiences with Uncaged. Thank you Keith! After reading the book, I can’t wait to see the film! 1) How did it all come about making The Cursed Man into a film? The Cursed Man novel had been released March 2011 by Sunbury Press. I had secured advanced review copies (ARC’s) and carefully hand selected about a dozen book reviewers that I thought would give me (a new author at the time) a review. I was lucky enough to have two reviews hit around the same time, comparing my writing to Stephen King. This was a huge compliment to me as I grew up reading Stephen King and Anne Rice. These reviews are what caught the attention of Producer James L. Perry. He had emailed me and said he wanted to turn my story into a feature film. As some could imagine, I thought it was a 22 | UncagedBooks.blogspot.com
prank... 2) The Cursed Man, will be released on the big screen this month, how was writing the screenplay different than the book itself? We all know, that a whole book can’t make it into a film’s allotted time, so how do you decide what gets cut? The decision process of what stays and what goes is a very selective process. You have to look at the story objectively and try and figure out what can be removed without affecting the overall story and also without compromising structure. Some of these decisions are made for you naturally. As you adapt the novel to a screenplay, you look at parts of the story differently … more like if I leave this in, it’ll bog down the story, but if I do it this way, it’ll really speed things up and add
| KEITH ROMMEL | tension. But there are times it is a real struggle as it’s like being asked to choose which one of your children have to go. OK, maybe not that dramatic, but I think you get the point ;) 3) I have to say, I loved the book, The Cursed Man. It was really different than most books I’ve read, and it was a perfect blend of insanity and psychological thriller that kept twisting and turning. What kind of research did you do for someone like Alister? Thank you very much for the compliment. As a writer, that first sentence you wrote is my main objective and it really gives me joy to hear of readers connecting with the story. The research didn’t come in for actual character words or actions, but my writing voice. I knew who I wanted Alister to be but was unsure how to make him turn into that. I worked on The Cursed Man continuously for five years. Writing and rewriting and repeating the process over and over again. This arduous process was strictly followed for the five years and I never wavered. I couldn’t. I had a passion for the story and believed in it. I look at my writing as someone else that might paint or work on clay sculptures. You have to shape and form until you capture the essence of what it is you’re looking for. Thankfully, as I’ve written more novels, the process has become a bit easier as I’ve settled into a ‘voice’.
4) Can you tell us who is starring in the movie? Did you have any input on the casting at all? The producer included me in almost every aspect of the film. I did get the opportunity to look at the auditions and he welcomed my input, and, at times, even listen to the suggestions I had. It was a very rewarding experience that has helped me grow as a screenwriter and has opened up other opportunities for me. Some of the well-known stars in the movie are: Ruth Connell from Wb’s Supernatural, Brahm Gallagher who made his debut appearance in The Game of Thrones this year and Jim Tavare from Harry Potter: The Prisoner of Azkaban. Also, Maritza Brikisak stars in the film and is a multi-award winning actress, producer and writer. Her resume is huge. The CGI / VFX team has worked on notable projects such as Green Lantern, The Matrix, Cabin in the Woods, Madagascar, Superman, Deja Vu and a ton more. They’ve done a really nice job bringing The Cursed Man to life. 5) Were you onset during the filming at all? Although I had been invited, I decided to not go to CA during filming (I live in FL). The filming schedule was very tumultuous and I didn’t want to be in the way. The producer shared ‘filmed’ scenes with me via a private server as they became available. This satisfied any need of my needing to go there and I knew what was going
Issue 3 | October 2016 |
| SPECIAL FEATURE | on and how the actors and actresses were portraying the characters. 6) What are we going to be looking forward to in the future from you? I have another movie coming out in 2017, based off of the second novel in the Thanatology series called The Lurking Man. The film has already been shot and is in post-production as we speak. Also, I just completed the screenplay for The Sinful Man (book 3 in the series) and that looks like it’s going to be a motion picture as well. I’m thinking we can expect that in 2018. The Devil Tree is another movie in the works … nothing else to announce about that at the moment other than it is coming. Soon. (fingers crossed)
7) The Cursed Man is part of the Thanatology Series, does this mean we will see more books on the order of this one? Without a doubt. The Thanatology series (The Cursed Man, Lurking Man, Sinful Man) is designed to really challenge the reader and send powerful messages along with them. The first 3 novels in the series can be read in any order. Mix them up and have fun with them. This is how they’re able to be standalone movies, and have been picked up by different production companies. They’re complete stories within themselves, but paint a much larger picture when read as a series. I’m excited to announce book 4 in the Thanatology series, The Silent Woman, is on the way and may be available by the time this article is released. This book really sets the tone for the Thanatology series and sets us up for The Decaying Man (book 5), also coming in 2016 which will allow me to explore the supernatural side of the story a bit more in depth. 8) What can readers expect from you? Readers can expect fresh, well thought-out stories that challenge their imagination. Whether they explore my monster books, The Devil Tree series or the Thanatology series, they can expect to find a fresh voice. I work hard to make sure I don’t regurgitate what’s already been done 1,000 times. I believe the market has been saturated with bloated genre stories. Vampires, zombies and hardcore romance are running their last lap (don’t get me wrong, these genres will always have an audience, but it’s thinning out) and I believe readers are left hungry. They want something unique. This is where I hope they’ll look to my work. I explore the mind and how to bend a story that
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| KEITH ROMMEL | really keeps readers guessing. All the stories have twists and turns and most of them are impossible to figure out until the last page. 9) Will this movie release nationally, so we can all get a chance to see it? Will you get a chance to go to a red-carpet premiere? I’d love you to return with news from a premiere party to share with our readers if you can. I am attending the red carpet premiere this Halloween night in Beverly Hills, CA. The film will be premiering at the Fine Arts Theater which seats around 450 people. The premiere sold out in 20 hours.
2015. This is the best book they’ve never read. Anyone can stay up to date with all of my announcements by signing up for my newsletter by visiting: keithrommel.weebly.com I always welcome questions and comments from readers and writers alike.
Keith Rommel is an award winning author of ten novels and is an award winning screenwriter. His writing has been called, “Horror for the curious mind.” His first two novels, The Cursed Man and The Lurking Man are coming as feature films. The Cursed Man is coming Halloween night , 2016 at the Fine Arts theater in Beverly Hills, CA and The Lurking Man is coming 2017. Keith writes fast-paced stories in suspense, horror, thrillers, monsters and legends. There is always truth in fiction.
The film is expected to spread throughout the West Coast first and then trickle around. It has already won an award as a semifinalist at the Cinefest Film Festival. As a side note, The Lurking Man movie won best feature film screenplay award at the Zedfest Film Festival
Issue 3 | October 2016 |
| SPECIAL FEATURE |
Enjoy an excerpt from The Cursed Man: The Cursed Man Keith Rommel Psychological Thriller Blurb: Alister Kunkle believes death is in love with him. A simple smile from friend or stranger is all it takes to encourage death to kill. With his family deceased and a path of destruction behind him, Alister sits inside a mental institution, sworn to silence and separated from the rest of the world, haunted by his inability to escape death’s preferential treatment. But when a beautiful psychologist arrives at the institution and starts offering him care, Alister braces himself for more killings. When none follow, he tries to figure out whether he truly is insane or if death has finally come to him in the form of a woman.
Excerpt Chapter 1 - FINAL STRAW The past. Alister stood over his wife’s lifeless body. “You’ve gotten them all. Are you happy?” he said. She was on the bathroom floor, lying on her back. Her wide and accusing eyes were focused on him. The water that overflowed from the bathtub soaked the jeans and turtleneck sweater she wore, and they clung to her body in a farewell embrace. A razorblade that glimmered in the thick blood that painted the floor around her body held his attention. 26 | UncagedBooks.blogspot.com
“You bastard.” He kicked the razor blade away and fell to his knees with clenched fists. “Oh, Sharon, please don’t look at me like that.” He brushed his hand lightly over her eyes to close them. A slash of pain in the pit of his stomach doubled him over, and he vomited next to her body. “I’m sorry.” He wiped his chin and looked to words scribbled on the wall with a finger dipped in blood: I saw it. He pounded his fists against the tile until flesh ripped and bone bruised. Panting like a wild animal, he glanced around the room. “I know you’re in here! Why don’t you show yourself, you coward?” The spout in the bathtub dripped and drew his attention. He shuddered at what he saw and quickly looked away. “You’ve crossed the line this time. Do you hear me? You’ve crossed the line!” He looked at Sharon and lowered his nose to her hair in search of the familiar scent of her shampoo. He pulled away, surprised by the musty stench of stagnant water mixed with blood. He wiped his nose with the back of his hand and noticed both vertical and horizontal cuts on her wrists. The lacerations were deep and jagged. “Oh Sharon, what did it make you do?” Leaning his back against the toilet, he pulled Sharon’s limp body into his lap. Water and blood that dripped from her clothes soaked his legs, and he
| KEITH ROMMEL | focused on her face. Her purple lips were parted ever so slightly and invited one final kiss.
He scooped her out of the water and held her tight. He kissed her icy cheek and squeezed her.
He tongued the cold sting the kiss left on his mouth and rocked her gently. He looked over his shoulder. “You couldn’t leave them alone, could you?”
“Blame me for this, not your mother. It wasn’t her doing.”
Laughter, elusive and taunting, sent a shiver up his spine. He clamped his eyes shut and slapped his hands over his ears. “Stop it! I’ve had enough of you! Do you hear me? Enough of you!” He scanned the room and slowly took his hands away. Silence. He lowered his wife to the floor and straightened her limbs. He neatened her wrinkled clothes and ran taut fingers through her tangled hair. “I know how you need to look presentable.” He stood and stared at the wall as he walked to the bathtub. Taking a deep breath, he tried to control his shaking limbs and fight the swirl of pain that ripped at his insides. He looked into the bathwater. His one-year-old daughter was floating facedown. Her naked, plump body had turned a sick shade of purple, and her short blonde hair reached out in all directions as if in a desperate attempt to grab onto something. “Becca, no!” He gasped and held the edge of the tub to keep from falling. “What have you done to them?”
He wiped her body clean and dry, and then wrapped her in a towel. Then he placed her next to her mother and left the bathroom. He walked out of the house. Alister lay prone in the path of a distant vehicle that was rapidly approaching. The vision of his dead wife and child seared inside his mind’s eye filled him with such agony that he had become desperate to escape it. “Please,” he said as he watched the vehicle approach, “let this end here. I can’t take anymore.” It was headed straight for him. “You know I won’t let you die,” a voice said. It was so loud and clear that it had to have come from his mind. “But why?” Alister said. “Because you invited me inside, and it is my right.” “It was a mistake. And I can’t live with what I just saw!” “It doesn’t matter. I won’t let you go.” “Why do I concern myself with the things you say? You’re a thing from my imagination, and I’m through with you.” The sound of tires screeching pulled Alister from his reverie, and he watched as the tire stopped less than a foot away from his face. Gravel in the tread and wear that exposed the steel belt was
Issue 3 | October 2016 |
| SPECIAL FEATURE | easy to see. The smell of burnt rubber disguised the stench of death that soaked his clothing. And the heat that emanated from the engine was like the breath of a savage animal that stood over him. “Do you still believe I am inside your mind?” The driver of the vehicle jumped out of his car and ran to Alister’s side. “Are you OK?” Alister closed his eyes and drew a deep breath. The man hovered over Alister, unsure what to do. “I didn’t see you until the last second. I could’ve killed you!”
was pointing. Houses, one after the other, all looked the same. “Which one?” “It doesn’t matter. You should go before it’s too late.” The man stood. “I’m calling the police.” He pulled a phone from his pocket and quickly dialed. He lifted the phone to his ear and grunted. “No, not again!” Alister said and sat up. He watched the man drop to his knees and clutch his chest. The man flopped forward, and the cell phone clattered across the pavement. “Nine one one, what’s your emergency?”
Alister felt the dull thump of his own heart. “I can only wish.” “Where are you hurt?” “Everywhere.” “You’re covered in blood.” The man’s hands continued to drift over Alister, but he didn’t touch him. “Try not to move.” “It’s not my blood,” Alister said. He didn’t look at the man’s face because it would be another to haunt his dreams. “I’m going to call for help.” “No, don’t.” The man paused. “My wife and daughter,” Alister said. “What?” The man moved his ear close to Alister’s lips. “They’re dead.” He raised an unsteady hand and extended a finger. “They are over there.” “Where?” The man looked in the direction Alister
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Uncaged Review This is a psychological thriller of fantastic proportions. It will twist and turn, and you will believe one thing, only to have it ripped away, and then back again. Just when I thought I had this one figured out, it blew my thinking out of the water. The book brings you Alister, a man who believes that Death follows him, and anyone he talks to, or converses with, will die – so he is locked up in a mental health hospital, and hasn’t talked to anyone in years. His meals and needs are delivered to him, with strict instructions to never speak to him. So he’s sat alone in his room, and in his mind for years. Since he speaks with no one, the killings have stopped. Along comes a psychologist, who is hell-bent on helping him, and he fears the worst is about to happen. This book will keep you turning the pages – with enough twists and turns to rival the Chicago Loop. This book deserves to go to the big screen, and I for one, will be happy when I get a chance to see
| KEITH ROMMEL | it. Don’t be surprised if you are stuck reading it from start to finish in one swoop.
Don’t miss these titles: The Lurking Man Keith Rommel Horror/Thriller Imagine coming face to face with Death... Cailean stands beneath a spotlight in a blinding snowstorm. She has no idea where she is or how she got there, but she senses something moving around her in the darkness outside the light. When the ominous presence calling himself Sariel makes himself known, he declares that he is Death Incarnate. Cailean has died, and now she will be forced to face the sins of her past in exchange for twenty-four hours of life to try to right her wrongs. And what she must do in return for this precious time is unthinkable. The Devil Tree Keith Rommel Horror/Thriller Back in the 1970s, a series of bizarre incidents occurred at what has since been known as “The Devil Tree.” Beneath this ancient denizen, evil was wrought by a sick serial killer, calling upon forces most evil and dark. People were hung there ... and bodies buried there ...
exhumed by the police. Overcome by superstition, some tried to cut down the tree, to no avail. Since then, it has stood in a remote section of a local park --- left to its own devices --- quiet in its eerie repose -- until now! Best-selling psychological-thriller author Keith Rommel has imagined the whole tale anew. He’s brought the tree to life and retold the tale with gory detail only possible in a fiction novel. Action-packed, with spine-tingling detail, this thriller is beyond parallel in the ground it uncovers ... one author’s explanation of what may have really been said -- what may have really happened -- under Port St. Lucie’s “Devil Tree.”
Ice Canyon Monster Keith Rommel SciFi/Post-Apocalyptic The Eskimo people of Greenland have grown tired of the damage being done to their country. Global warming from emissions that stem from the shipping lanes that run between Canada and Greenland has made people that live close to the coast sick. Cancer, asthma and as many as 5,000 deaths a year have been attributed to this pollution. A single cargo ship in one year burns more emissions than 50 million gasoline burning vehicles. When Akutak, a Greenlandic Shaman Eskimo, decides to take action against the things that are destroying his country, he uses the ancient arts and creates a tupilak and conjures a curse. Designed in the form of an octopus, this Goliath is going to become Greenland’s guardian and do everything within its power to stop the erosion of the ice sheet.
Issue 3 | October 2016 |
featureauthor Alexis Duran
Interview Whatâ€™s next for Alexis Stay Connected Keep up with updates Excerpt from Betwixt & Between Review
| FEATURE AUTHOR | Reading Betwixt & Between by author Alexis Duran, is not a normal book I’d automatically pick up, and I’ll admit that part of it is because I’m not into reading any LGBTQ or erotica. But the author did a fabulous job with this, and even though the romance was a huge part of the story, it wasn’t all of it. I’m happy she wanted to be a part of Uncaged. First off, thank you so much for taking the time for the interview! 1) What was your first book? When did you realize you wanted to be an author? I wrote my first book, a spy thriller, in junior high. Thank goodness that one has never seen the light of day! A mere thirty years later in 2014, Touch of Salar, an m/m fantasy, was released by Loose Id. I decided I wanted to be a writer back in second grade after our teacher showed us a film that told the story of how a couple created an illustrated book about hermit crabs. It looked like so much fun I started writing and illustrating my own stories right away. Ever since then, pen and page have been my tools of expression, fun, escape and refuge. Now I use a keyboard, but I still feel most at peace when I’m crafting a story. 2) Who are some of your favorite authors now, and what genres do you tend to read the most? I read in all genres, but high fantasy and contemporary fantasy are definitely my faves. I absolutely adore everything Jordon Hawk, Amstrid Amara and Rhys Ford write and I am a one-click junky when it comes to them. In the realm beyond m/m Neil Stephenson and Charles de Lint are go-to authors for me. Charles de Lint was the first contemporary fantasy author I ever read.
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3) The battle between light and dark, has been told in many ways, but you found an original idea, with this book. Where did your inspiration come from for Betwixt and Between? It’s a little tricky to untangle all the webs of thought that combined to inspire this story. I believe it started to percolate when I read about how legends of elves have evolved and diverged in different cultures and I was interested in exploring the “politics” of these differing elfin realms. There’s a tendency in fiction to lump all magical creatures together by type, but why would they be any more unified and like-minded than humans? I love writing enemies-to-lovers stories, and a favorite theme of mine is that love and friendship can overcome almost any challenge. The idea that Ian and Zeke come from very different cultures, cultures that have a history of violence toward each other, and yet can still find a way to overcome prejudice and mistrust seemed not only interesting and entertaining, but also very relevant to the real world. 4) Where is your favorite place to write? A lot of authors love to listen to music, and even have a playlist for their book. Do you like to listen to music while writing, or do you prefer quiet? I’m lucky to have an office to call my own. It’s a mess but I walk in and my brain clicks to “now is that time that I write” mode. I have a comfortable chair and all my research books and notes spread out around me, which is all I really need (plus a dog who sleeps under the desk). I also write in coffee shops with friends, but that is an entirely different experience. With all the clatter and commotion, I don’t sink as deep into the story and tend to write faster and more off-the-cuff. It’s great for NaNoWriMo. But normally, when I’m utterly immersed in a story, I prefer quiet and solitude. I don’t listen to music because I find it
| ALEXIS DURAN | too distracting. Alas, my brain can’t multi-task that way. 5) What’s in the near future for you? What can we expect to see coming? I have novel coming out November 2 from DreamSpinner Press. Matthias is a contemporary m/m thriller with a hint of fantasy to it. It’s part of a multi-author series called Order of the Black Knights. After that, I have a zillion ideas bubbling out of me and a stack of works-in-progress, so all I can say is, stay tuned! 6) In the title of this book, it’s Book One in The Edge of Night series. Are you continuing with this group, and will we see more of Ian and Zeke? Oh, yes. I love Ian and Zeke and I’m currently in the midst of their second adventure, which I hope to finish and submit by the end of October. The first book was a short novel (about 40,000 words) It told the story of their meeting, falling in love and overcoming all the obstacles keeping them apart. The second book is much longer and will delve more deeply into both of their backgrounds and the different worlds they come from. More elves, more danger, more everything! (Can you tell I’m excited?) 7) What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? Hello and Thank You! My approach to writing is to write what I love and hope others will come along for the ride, so it means a lot to me when readers express how much they’ve enjoyed the stories. It encourages me to keep on doing what I’m doing and giving voice to all the characters
clamoring in my head. I have a website at www.alexisduranblog.com where I often post excerpts and news about upcoming releases. Other than that I lurk in all the usual places.
Alexis Duran was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. At the University of Oregon, her fascination with people and relationships led her to major in Sociology, but her main love has always been creative writing. She’s worked in museums, finance, film production and for several performing arts organizations. Her favorite job so far has been inventorying the collection in a haunted Victorian House Museum. She is the author of the Masters and Mages and Edge of Night m/m fantasy series as well as several stand-alone romances. Her fiction has won several awards including the Rupert Hughes Award from the Maui Writers Conference and First Runner Up from Love Romances Cafe. She lives with one dog and four and a half cats. She is always working on the next novel and has several new ideas brewing at all times.
alexisduranblog.com Issue 3 | October 2016 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR |
Enjoy an excerpt Betwixt & Between Betwixt and Between Alexis Duran Fantasy/Gay Romance Blurb: Reporter Ian Evers, obsessed with magical creatures since childhood, never experiences satisfying proof that the magical realm actually exists until he falls into an entrapment spell set by a handsome but dangerous elf. Barely escaping with his soul intact, Ian is able to undo the hex, but he can’t escape the very real infatuation he’s developed for the fierce, alluring elf. Excerpt Even as the first haunting chords drifted up the cement stairwell, Ezekiel detected a nibble on his bait. He pressed his bow more firmly to the strings on his violin and pulled his elbow back. His prey drew closer. He’d had his doubts about setting up in midday and in such a busy, public spot, but a tug at his instincts had guided him here. Over the centuries he’d learned to never ignore that tug. The music echoed nicely, penetrating the dull roar of the Pike Street Market above and the viaduct below. From the open staircase, he had a partial view of the waterfront and Puget Sound beyond. He’d set up on a landing below street level on the stairs that led from the waterfront to the market. On a rainy Tuesday in February, the market wasn’t the teeming morass of humans it usually was, and Ezekiel easily sensed the motions of the liosa as it descended the stairs. He threw a little more passion into Smetana’s symphonic poem, Vltava. The lines cast out by the music shimmered darkly in the dull light. 34 | UncagedBooks.blogspot.com
Like the strings on his violin, the lines vibrated and emitted sounds only he could hear beneath the music. The liosa’s thoughts whispered in his ear. It was cautious but curious. Untrained. Ezekiel detected no significant magical protections, and thanked his lucky stars for this gift. Don’t lap at the blood before it is spilled, he cautioned himself. Though he sensed his prey was utterly unaware of the trap, he could be spooked if Ezekiel revealed any of his power too soon. And so he played on, risking only a quick peek from beneath his eyelashes. The liosa had paused a few steps up from the landing, just beyond the wall that blocked the view of the rest of the stairwell. He lingered in the shadows but did not radiate any fear. Ezekiel caught a glimpse of wind-tousled blond hair, large dark eyes, a lumpy coat, and battered hiking boots. Ezekiel pulled some of the liosa’s essence toward him along the strings and conjured a clearer picture. Human male, slim and tasty. Ezekiel’s favorite form. The man had the dark mocha-colored eyes of a High-Wood alfar, but Ezekiel recognized no clan markings, no talismans, no link to the past. This was most excellent. No one would miss him. A fresh, unclaimed source of power, his for the taking. Even the dark queen Ysolde might not be aware of him. The liosa held a camera and was about to take Ezekiel’s photo. He was as good as caught. FIRST MISTAKE. Ian was already late, but when he heard the whispered strains of classical music drifting up the stairwell from the lower levels of the market, he instinctively followed them. He didn’t know why. He remained oddly compelled even when the music lured him from the sidewalk and down the stairs, well away from his intended path. Buskers often plied their trade down here, taking advantage of the great acoustics and heavy tourist traffic. Foot traffic was pretty light today, it being
| ALEXIS DURAN | off-season. Ian was due to meet Dijeree at the coffee shop on Pine and 4th, but she’d be happily surfing the net and wouldn’t mind waiting a few extra minutes. He’d sensed magic afoot and couldn’t pass it up. That was his job, after all—finding and cataloging the magical creatures lurking in Seattle’s shadows. Readers of the tabloid he worked for, The Cosmic Eye, gobbled up his stories, and with every contact, however dubious, he inched a bit closer to unlocking the vast magical mystery that shrouded his life. A flash there, a ripple here. A haunted rowboat. A flying spoon. A burning book. A talking cat. All these things added up to something. He just didn’t know what yet. His first impression of the musician in the stairwell was that, yes indeed, he’d stumbled across a magical creature. Shadowed lines resolved into a dark-haired figure in a long, heavy coat and high leather boots. The outfit looked like something a down-and-out musketeer might wear, the coat being old-fashioned, fastened with two rows of brass buttons, and well-worn. His shoulder-length black hair hid most of his face. He was tall, and he posed in a jaunty fashion with one leg up, boot resting on a concrete block. His violin case sat open before him, and gleaming coins speckled the black velvet lining, though no one stopped in the few moments Ian stood watching. The man radiated magical energy but otherwise looked perfectly normal except for the outfit, which could be considered normal among the odd musical and dramatic types that wandered the market. For a while he made no indication of being aware of Ian, but then with a flick of his head he tossed the hair out of his face and quickly moved his gaze from the violin to Ian. That was when Ian knew for sure the man was some sort of magician. His eyes were smoky blue or stormy gray or some combination of dusty sapphire and silver. Whatever they were, they weren’t human. And
he was ridiculously handsome like he should be fronting a rock band, not busking for quarters in a dark stairwell. This made Ian wonder if it was lust rather than magic drawing him in. Could just be an ordinary guy. He doubted it. The music was penetrating Ian’s soul, rooting him to the spot. He’d fallen for glamour casting 101.
Uncaged Review Betwixt & Between This is touted as a Gay Romance, but it’s really much more than that. It’s a very dark fantasy, with a dark Queen who enslaves the dark elves, and destroys the light elves and steals their light souls – and she’s hell bent on power. Ian is a reporter for a small newspaper that reports on magical beings, and he becomes hexed by Zeke, who is a dark elf, or svarta, and is under the control of the Queen. Ian’s friends help him to break the hex, and meets with Zeke again, after finding out that he’s half elf himself. Here is where the romance truly begins. Ian and Zeke have a romantic interlude, and their power combined, seems to complete each other. But Zeke is recaptured by the Queen and tortured. Ian needs his friends to try and break Zeke free from the Queen’s hold, but it will take all his newly burgeoning powers, and even that may not be enough. This book was an original story, even though it’s about light vs. dark, the author spins a nice storyline with nicely descriptive places. I would have like to delve more into the backgrounds of some of the characters, as I feel that would have given me a better connection to them. Being in the category of Gay Romance just doesn’t do this book justice, I think it would benefit from an added category.
Issue 3 | October 2016 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | Uncaged Ratings: Adult
Fantasy/Gay Romance - MM Graphic Sex Violence
Don’t miss these titles: Gryffon Hall
Alexis Duran Gay Romance
Blurb: Fated to be born the useless fourth son of the Lord of Glimmerveen, Wryler dreams of getting married and escaping the rustic confines of his father’s castle. A wealthy merchant’s son seems to hold the key to Wryler’s safe if somewhat dreary future. However, the arrival of a mysterious stranger on the eve of Wryler’s betrothal sends his plans into disarray, and Wryler finds himself traded off in marriage to one of the most notorious rogues in the land. Is Lord Aeric Rouchet the scoundrel he appears to be, or is he something much worse? Separated from his family and thrust into a strange and dangerous new life at the foreboding Gryffon Hall, Wryler must unravel the secret of his husband’s shadowed life and defeat the curse which threatens not only his growing affection for the barbarian in his bed, but the lives of everyone the Lord of Gryffon Hall is sworn to protect.
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To Catch a Threeve Alexis Duran Fantasy/Gay Romance
Blurb: Axel Blackwood catches a thief and is astounded to see that he closely resembles Liam Alloway, the love he lost seven years ago in an attack by the evil woodland folk known as threeves. Axel suspects he’s fallen prey to dark magic, but can’t help becoming infatuated with his prisoner. He’s overwhelmed with the hope that he can at last bring his lost lover home, despite everything that warns him it’s all a diabolical trick. Bryn Darrow, the half-threeve, half human orphan sent to trick Axel and rob him of much more than a simple gem, finds himself equally as fascinated with his handsome human captor and the lure of someplace to call home, but he knows deep down that the constable is in love with a dangerous illusion. When he’s commanded by the threeves to murder Axel and steal a witch’s powerful grimoire, he’s forced to decide between the only family he’s ever known and the one person who might rescue him from a life of isolation and pain. Will Axel and Bryn be forced into a deadly confrontation before they can discover the truth?
| ALEXIS DURAN |
Touch of Salar Alexis Duran Fantasy/LGBTQ Blurb: In a world ruled by tyrannical kings and fickle gods, the young monk M’lan finds himself at the center of royal intrigue as his healing powers attract the attention of his superiors. When he learns the handsome warrior whose body he’s tending to is not only a noble, but a king’s assassin, any attachment to him might prove fatal. Despite the danger, he can’t stop himself from falling in love. Can he risk the abandonof passion when a slip of the tongue might force his lover to execute him?
Coming Soon November 2, 2016 From DreamSpinner Press:
Major Jamil Jarka comes to the temple with one intention—heal his wounds so he can return to the fight against the rebellion. When the monk assigned to him turns out to be stunningly attractive, he sees this as a pleasant distraction, no more. But soon he finds himself becoming obsessed withM’lan and is torn between the fear of betrayal and the lure of love. Sinister forces strive to turn the monk and the warrior against each other—a conflict neither will survive if they cannot trust their lives to love and the healing power of Salar.
Issue 3 | October 2016 |
featureauthor Savanna Kougar
Interview Whatâ€™s up next Stay Connected Keep up on all the news Excerpt from Kandy Apple and Her Hellhounds Review
| FEATURE AUTHOR | Normally, I’m not much into erotica, I’ve read so many of them that really don’t have much of a storyline. But this one has a action packed storyline, and I am thrilled that Savanna Kougar agreed to be in the issue. First off, thank you so much for taking the time for the interview! 1) What was your first book? When did you realize you wanted to be an author? Thank you, for having me. It’s been a while since I’ve done an interview. My first epublished novella was RED LIONESS TAMED, a shifter sci fi erotic romance. However, I signed my first contract with Siren Publishing for ALL SHADES OF BLUE PARADISE, an aristocratic fantasy erotic romance – no, the book was not inspired by the infamous “Fifty Shades of Grey” since Lady Sheridan and Baron Zaggry’s love story was published years before. Long, long ago ~smiles~ before paranormal romances rose to genre prominence I read Jayne Ann Krentz’s SWEET STARFIRE (1986), and that wonderful book became the catalyst. I was already writing my little paranormal-type, adventurous love stories for my own entertainment. When I couldn’t get a steady reading supply of what has become the “paranormal romance” genre, I decided to get serious. That is, write to become published. It’s been a long challenging road, but baby, I’m here in my own little-niche way. 2) Who are some of your favorite authors now, and what genres do you tend to read the most? Author Lindsey Townsend is a favorite. She writes ancient-history and medieval romance
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novels. I’ve always had a special affinity for the medieval time period. Not to mention who can resist all those sexy alpha Highlander-hero romances, written by many fabulous authors. Plus, I just love reading anything history – from traditional history to antediluvian civilizations like Atlantis -- whether fiction or non-fiction. The other subject that has always tingled me to the core, since age 13, is the whole gamut of paranormal, supernatural, and mystical books. 3) Normally, I’m not much into erotic, but Kandy Apple and Her Hellhounds was so much more. I really enjoyed the supernatural premise of the book, along with some mythology and scifi thrown in. What was the inspiration for this story? Have you always been a fan of mythology? Mythology has always been a serious fascination. When I read “Chariots of the Gods” by Erich Von Daniken, back in the late 60s, that opened up a whole panorama of possibilities. Really, who were the gods and goddesses? One major inspiration for KANDY was “Bewitched”, the original TV series. I adored that show as a kiddo. Who wouldn’t want to be a witch like that? Housework in the snap of her fingers...oh, yes! And all of her other witchy powers. Okay, I wanted supernatural powers like that to use for good, mine and everyone else’s – lots of childhood fantasies around that kind of magick. The truth is too, I never thought Darren, Samantha’s husband in “Bewitched”, was good enough for her – just too wimpified. I wanted Kandace to have heroes worthy of her. Who better than devoted, on-the-good-side hellhounds with their own array of fantastical powers, like time travel. To help develop Zol and Zin’s characters, I did
| SAVANNA KOUGAR | research on the ‘black dog phenomena’ for their beast side. And for their human side: Pierce Brosnan when he starred as a sophisticated, mysterious private investigator in the TV series “Remington Steele.” Another inspiration for Kandy Apple...years ago, I read the self-proclaimed white witch, Sybil Leek’s book, “Diary of a Witch” (1968). At the time, her story was eye-opening and soul-opening. So, throw my lifetime of mystical-magickal studies into the cauldron that is my writer’s imagination, and voila! Kandy, Zol and Zin’s love story is born. 4) What was the most unusual inspiration you’ve had for a story? What a good question! And a brain-scratcher, given the number of unusual inspirations I get hit with, even on a daily basis – sometimes. But let me think. Okay, in college I was accused of plagiarism for a short story I wrote about the fall of Atlantis. The accusation was completely bogus and I cried my eyes out over it. So, long years later, I came up with the idea for a futuristic, paranormal romance, which takes place in the year 2051, and is set on a risen Atlantean island. That book is MURDER BY HAIR SPRAY IN GARDENIA, NEW ATLANTIS. Originally, the manuscript finaled in the Dorchester’s American Title IV contest, featured in Romantic Times magazine. Currently, Sheriff Sun Wing and Agent Zryphus’s love story is available at Siren Publishing, in ebook and print. Yep, revenge can be sweet. 5) Where is your favorite place to write? A lot of
authors love to listen to music, and even have a playlist for their book. Do you like to listen to music while writing, or do you prefer quiet? Currently, I have my own over-cluttered office with my trusty desktop and another computer setup I use for all the online radio shows I listen to while writing...like the nighttime paranormal show Coast to Coast am. Great for supernatural, high strangeness info and writerly inspiration. The synchronicities are fascinating too. For example, when I was creatively conjuring up RED LIONESS TAMED, I would frequently hear the song “Year of the Cat.” As far as music, I love all types of music, and actually hear songs in my head as I write... however, I haven’t done the playlist thing. Yet. 6) What’s in the near future for you? What can we expect to see coming? Right now, I’m revising-expanding BLACK CAT BEAUTY, a Halloween paranormal erotic romance novella that stars my black-cat heroine, Sable Kiki. I originally wrote her story for Liquid Silver. Now, I’m going Indie with it. Yes, the goal is to get Sable and Devon’s love story ready for a Halloween re-release. Plus, Amanda Kelsey, a most fabulous cover artist, has agreed to do the new cover art. I also have a whole cornucopia of WIPs that I’d love to work on, especially erotic romances set in my ShapeShifter Seduction world: Wolf Peak Territory, Montana. I just released Keina and Drev’s love story, WAITING FOR A FILLY GIRL, which is part of this paranormal-supernatural world. 7) Witch’s and magic users seem to be all the rage right now in paranormal, are you going to
Issue 3 | October 2016 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | be continuing in this genre? In BLACK CAT BEAUTY Sable has a confrontation-fight scene with a nasty, black-magick Hollywood witch-bitch – obviously, a very fun scene to write. Also, since there is the Circle of Witches in Wolf Peak Territory, and they all have love stories waiting to be written...well, hopefully, they’ll all get their chance at a happily ever after. Currently, the Circle of Witches show up as secondary characters in WAITING FOR A FILLY GIRL. Their formidable powers are needed during a massive drone attack on the borders of Wolf Peak Territory. Yep, no surprise, there’s an evil shadowy group determined to destroy all shapeshifters on planet Earth. 8) What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? I’m grateful to everyone who reads my books. Thank you. I do my best to write an entertaining paranormal erotic romance. One I would want to read.
Savanna Kougar is a best-selling author with Siren Publishing. She has authored thirteen ebooks, with seven books in print. She pens love stories because that’s her deepest heart. She writes in the futuristic/fantasy/paranormal subgenres because that’s her fiercest passion. And, she writes erotic romance because she ferociously enjoys ripping the damn doors off. Baby boomer and redhead, I’ve always danced to the beat of a different drum. I live on the tame prairie in the Midwest with my beloved pets. My interests have always been eclectic, and anything creative. As well, my over-active imagination has played a huge role in my life, and I’ve been writing romance stories since age thirteen. When I write, my imagination dwells in the mysteries, magic and mayhem of life and love. Think extreme passion and the enchantment of love, cut with a fine erotic edge, like the finesse and fierceness of a blade during swordplay. Most of all, I love my heroines and heroes. I love writing their stories, the various unique worlds they inhabit, and their action-adventures together.
savannakougar.com Shape Shifter Seduction Blog Title Magic Blog
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Enjoy an excerpt from Kandy Apple and Her Hellhounds
| SAVANNA KOUGAR | Kandy Apple and Her Hellhounds Savanna Kougar Paranormal Erotic Bewitched, bothered, and bewildered ~ What happens when two of Hades’ most mission-accomplished Hellhounds find just the right witch for Halloween? Blurb: Kandace doesn’t know why she’s a real witch. Despite her powers, she can’t find her biological parents. When the Tuxedo Twins tempt her with knowledge about her heritage at a charity event, Kandace agrees to dance with the mysterious Supernaturals. Unexpectedly, they are threatened by the omnipresent evil she’s been warned about in her dreams. To keep from being enslaved, Kandace brings forth her greater magick. But, to save her homeworld, she needs her Hellhounds. Zolivar and Zindale, two of Hades’s most mission-accomplished Hellhounds, see a witch sliding down the bannister after her heist of a painting. Spellbound, they know they’ve found just the right Kandy Apple to lick for Halloween. With every passion, Zin and Zol woo their chosen witch. Will their Triad mate stay once she learns they can’t fall in love like humans? Or will she return to her homeworld?
Grabbing a breath, Kandace crept toward the door. This time she expanded her awareness to the interior, checking for anyone else, before turning the knob.
Slipping inside, she closed the door so there was not the tiniest sound. She pivoted around and waved her hand, creating a soft illumination. Paintings adorned all four walls of the private office. A mixture of modern, impressionism, and realism, they were all forgeries, to her utter astonishment. That is, except for the painting Kandace planned to steal back. Of course, many collectors had forgeries done of their prize pieces, keeping the real art in secure underground vaults that were, more often than not, lavish showrooms. Psi-detecting forgeries had become a magickal specialty of hers, ever since Kandace’s sister, Meredith—also adopted by her parents—had opened up her own small art gallery, then been tricked by a man supposedly selling his original. Curious, Kandace roved her gaze over the eclectic selection of paintings, unconcerned about surveillance measures. There would be none in this keep-all-deals-under-the-table office for the rich and famous. While something pricked at her about the collection, something she didn’t have time to figure out, Kandace moved toward the painting stolen from her friend. Valerie and her husband had found the early Frederic Remington painting at an estate sale. Despite the layer of grime, Valerie had known. Since the age of twelve she’d had a love affair with the Western artist, and already owned every print available. Kandace paused, studying the wall around the Remington for any hidden alarms. Discovering one, she disabled it with a point of her finger.
The door cooperated as if she’d put a spell on it. Issue 3 | October 2016 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | A slight hiss of sound alerted her. Inadvertently, she’d triggered another alarm and the mansion’s security team would be headed her way. Keeping her cool, Kandace aimed her finger directing the Remington from the wall, and onto the Georgian antique desk. Swiftly flowing her palm over the frame, she found the embedded RFID chip and GPS locator. Loosening the frame with more of her magick, she carefully removed the precious canvas. Shutting her eyes, Kandace concentrated, then zapped the Remington to the trunk of her car. She followed it with her mind’s eye, watching the painting settle within the climate-controlled container. Rapidly moving toward the door, Kandace eliminated the illumination she’d manifested. Cracking open the door, she peeked out. An army of footsteps rushed up the main stairway. From the other end of the long corridor she heard the jogging run of another team.
like Samantha in Bewitched, simply for the fun it, she brought forth an invisibility cloak. While it would only last for a few minutes, that should give her enough time to rejoin the charity event. Appearing to be innocent in the face of her magickal heist was crucial. Hearing the tromping charge of security, Kandace retreated to wait beside the desk. The door flew inward and the lights blazed on. Guns drawn, the guards entered like the professionals they were. Their gazes swept the room thoroughly, but fast. Splitting up into two-man teams, they began a systematic search. The instant the doorway cleared, Kandace made a beeline for it. As she escaped, she wished she’d thought to take off her heels. Still, she’d worn her mid-thigh bouffant skirt since it didn’t hinder her.
“What’s a witch girl to do?” she whispered, gently closing the door.
Hastily, she minced her way to the staircase, and quickly descended. She huffed breaths because the bodice of her fire-red dress was tight as a corset.
A whole lot of tricks so not up my sleeve. How easy peasy cool would it be to suspend them on the ceiling with a snap of my fingers?
Even though she remained invisible, Kandace felt relieved she saw no one. She wasn’t without mass. Someone could definitely feel her.
Kandace battled her temptation to do just that. However, a blatant use of magick was never smart in a world ruled by science.
Oh crap, oops. There had been no one on the stairway when she’d just looked.
Plus, she’d already had a few astral run-ins with psychics working for the shadow government. They regularly searched for specimens like her to be rounded up or recruited.
Now, two brawny men in matching dark suits pistoned their legs, trotting up the stairs. Thinking, yet acting on instinct, Kandace clambered astride the banister. Thank the Goddess, it was a straight slide to the bottom now.
Backing away, Kandace raised her arms, and focused on centering her force. Wiggling her nose
She whooshed downward easily because of her expensive pantyhose. As she whizzed past the
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| SAVANNA KOUGAR | two super security guys, her skirt brushed the thigh of one. Hardly breaking stride, he glanced back. “Felt one of your damn ghosts,” he growled to his partner. “Told you the place is haunted,” his partner replied. “Yeah, yeah. Casper isn’t happy tonight.”
themselves to one witch. Wooing her with knowledge of her background and where she comes from, entices Kandy to them. When evil threatens the hellhounds and to save her homeworld, Kandy must bring out her strongest magic. There is some great action and suspense, and some very hot sex scenes between the three. And there is a lot of fun banter. This is an intelligent, well thought out, original story, with some mythology and scifi thrown in with the supernatural.
“No one’s happy tonight with that painting disappearing right beneath our noses.” “We’ll get the bastard, or fucking bastards.” “Yeah, no cat burglar is that good.” I am that good. For I am the notorious cat witch burglar.
Uncaged Ratings: Adult Only Paranormal Erotic Some Violence Erotic Sex Scenes
Squinching her eyes shut, Kandace prepared herself for a collision with the Roman-style column at the end of the banister. Her butt hit with a big ole thwack! “Ow.” Kandace briefly rubbed her stinging derriere. Scrambling to the floor, she hurried toward the women’s lounge.
Uncaged Review This is not a normal story that I’m drawn to, but I really enjoyed this book. Kandy is a witch, who doesn’t really know her past, and Zol and Zin are two of Hades very accomplished hellhounds, that are also a couple of gorgeous men in their human form. To stay in the Upperworld they must attach Issue 3 | October 2016 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR |
Donâ€™t miss these titles!
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Melanie from Fang-Freakin-Tastic goes on a Para Force Investigation with author Elizabeth Raven
| SPECIAL FEATURE - GHOST HUNT|
each other for a bit.
Ghost hunt A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending a ghost hunt with author Elizabeth Raven, her friend Carol, and the owner of Sheer Bliss Events, Taira Wilds. Taira was nice enough to get the whole thing scheduled for us in St. Augustine, Florida, which is fairly close to each of our locations. www.GhostAugustine.comhad several different paranormal investigation packages available, but we chose to do the “Para Force Investigations” package because we were able to go into a “certified” haunted property, with a guide, and for several hours. I had never met Elizabeth in real life before that night, so needless to say, I was both nervous and excited. I had read her books (and loved them), but you never know what people will be like in real life. I have attended Taira’s Book Obsessed Babes Author Signing Event in Jacksonville, FL for the last 2 years, so we have known 48 | UncagedBooks.blogspot.com
If you’ve never been to St. Augustine, you should definitely add it to your list of places to visit. Settled by the Spanish, it is truly the nation’s oldest city, founded just over 40 years BEFORE Jamestown. One of the many things it is known for is paranormal encounters. From Flagler College (formerly the Ponce De Leon Hotel), Castillo San Marco and the city gates to St. George’s Tavern, there are ghost stories on every corner. We decided to meet up and grab some dinner and drinks before our night of investigations. We didn’t have to meet our guide until 11:30pm, so we had some time to kill. We made stops at several known haunted establishments and wasted time talking books and ghosts
| FANG-FREAKIN-TASTIC | until we were to meet Heather, aka St. Augustine’s Ghost Girl at Antiques and Uniques Collectibles on the oldest European named street in the country, Aviles St. Across the street from Antiques and Uniques is a bar called Cellar 6 which is a known spot for Johnny Depp sightings. Heather gave us the history of the store and outfitted us with EMF detectors. We had the option to go around by ourselves, but we liked the idea of her being with us. She had a spirit box, which can help spirits “talk” to you and another device that would light up and make a noise if a spirit touched it. We were the only people in the building (living anyway) so we were free to have fun while we were investigating. We had some pretty interesting experiences. In one room, near the bathroom, resides the spirit of a Haitian slave named Henri. He is very friendly but doesn’t understand boundaries. You have to ask for privacy when you use the bathroom to keep him from hanging out with you while you do your business. There is also a new addition of a grouchy lady in that room. We didn’t have much luck with the EMF’s but at one point Heather was asking questions and the spirit box responded with “shut it” and a few minutes later “bitch”. We are guessing that was from the grouchy woman. We wondered how a new spirit could just randomly show up and was told that there seems to be some sort of vortex for spirits on the property. Something like a thin spot be-
tween the land of the living and the dead. We moved on to the closet. I know that sounds weird, but apparently, this closet is so active that they have cameras that run all the time for people to watch. This is the main place where I thought weird things happened. There were quite a few orbs seen on the screen while different people were in there. The ghosts of children who may have been mistreated by another ghost called “Mr. Creepy” supposedly haunt the closet. You can tell when Mr. Creepy I around because it smells like swamp butt. On my first visit into the closet, I sat all the way in the back against the wall. I didn’t want anything sneaking up behind me and I’m somewhat scared of the dark. On two occasions, after we asked if anyone could turn off the flashlight we had set up, the flashlight turned off and fell over. That was pretty creepy, but what happened next really made me nervous. As I was sitting there, I felt something brush up against my right arm. I was wearing a tank top (this is Florida in September after all). That was bad enough but then right after that, I felt something touching my forehead right at my hairline. It felt like someone was stroking
Issue 3 | October 2016 |
| SPECIAL FEATURE - GHOST HUNT| my hair! I’ll tell you, it took everything I had not to run out of that closet! There is actually a video of that experience at http://www.ustream. tv/recorded/91440422. If you watch, you can see where the flashlight turns off each time, and
then right around 4:42 you see Taira scoot back, then I touch my forehead. If you look in front of Taira, the screen gets a different kind of blurry for a second right before she moves and then I touch my head. It was so weird! My husband and daughter are actually the ones that noticed that the next day when I was showing them. We also were able to experience the ghost of a boy named Timmy. He kept launching 1 of the 2 toy cars off of the counter into a basket. Each time it was the same car. The other car was right next to it and that one didn’t move an inch! Then when we were out in the garage, Taira was talking. I let her do all of the talking because I felt like a dork talking to someone I couldn’t see. Well, we had this little device that looked kind of like an old school pager. It would pop up words that the spirits supposedly spoke into it. At one point while we were out there it said “Blog”. As some of you may know, I have a blog called Fang Freakin Tastic Reviews. Most of what that device said seemed irrelevant, but it did say “Mistress” several times when Elizabeth was around. This is odd because earlier in the evening before we got to Antiques and Uniques she was telling us about a character she is putting into her next 50 | UncagedBooks.blogspot.com
book who uses that as part of her name. The only other odd thing that I witnessed was on my ghost radio app on my phone. While we were in the closet, it came up saying “excited” and then “new friends.” I decided that was time for me to turn off that app. The investigation was supposed to go until around 2:30am. We were having such a great time with Heather that we didn’t leave until almost 5:30! If you ever get the opportunity to do a paranormal investigation in St. Augustine, take it. It was a lot of fun. Taira went into the experience not believing, but she came out a believer. I can honestly say I experienced things I never had before and left feeling slightly creeped out but excited.
Melanie is one half of Fang-Freakin-Tastic Reviews and is a prolific reader and reviewer. I’ve worked with Melanie for the past few years and am honored to host her adventures and reviews in Uncaged Book Reviews. Check out the blog below for reviews and more. FangFreakinTasticReviews.com
featureauthor Bronwyn Heeley
Interview Whatâ€™s next for Bronwyn Stay Connected Never miss an update Excerpt from Running Scared Reviews
| FEATURE AUTHOR | Bronwyn Heeley has the ability to get your heart pumping, even in a short story format, almost as if she’s had that experience herself, although she assures me she hasn’t. :) First off, thank you so much for taking the time for the interview! 1) What was your first book? When did you realize you wanted to be an author? It’s funny, my father has often told me that he isn’t at all surprised at me becoming an author, I use to write all the time, in a diary or journal mostly. He says he’s more surprised by my love of reading. I have a learning difficult which meant I had trouble reading and therefore didn’t until my second child was born and I needed a hobby that wasn’t watching crime shows (my eldest was nearing 2). So I started reading, which quickly lead to me picking up Twilight and I don’t believe I got past the second chapter when I thought to myself, “I could do this” and I haven’t given up since. This happened around 2009. It took me a while to get to a point that I felt I could actually publish something and then a bit more for me to release my first book My Kevin. 2) Who are some of your favorite authors now, and what genres do you tend to read the most? First I’ll answer the last part, I read and write mostly in mm (LGBT+) romance but am and have branched out, into different fiction avenues. I have however always preferred to read romance, not really fussy though I do tend to stick to the MM romance market. Some of my favorite are Sean Michael, Kim Dare, Andrew Grey, Sherilyn Kenyon, and much more but for the life of me those are the only names my head is providing at this moment
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3) I’ve read two of your short stories, Running Scared and Hunted. Both were heart pounding short thrillers that had me wanting to hurry to the next page to find what happens next. My first idea after reading both stories, is that these would be great to read around a campfire when telling stories on a camping trip. Is this your favorite genre to write in? I’m not quite sure if I have a favourite to write as I like to stretch myself, to write something completely different then the time before. I do like writing stories that have a feeling of being something more than what’s just on the page, and/or to be something that could live on its own. I’m not sure if I succeed in that area all the time. 4) Where is your favorite place to write? A lot of authors love to listen to music, and even have a playlist for their book. Do you like to listen to music while writing, or do you prefer quiet? Hm, tough one. I have different needs for whatever I’m writing. I use to listen to music a lot but that was because of the house were in at the time and the fact that I couldn’t watch television while writing at all times of the night, which is when I tend to write more. Sometimes I need quite, I think this is more when I’m struggling to get into the story I’m writing. Other times I need to have something on, noise around me, where I can tune in and out of. I tend to watch crime shows. I’m not sure why but they are my comfort things. I do seem, if I look back, to have gone away from music in my writing and maybe I should get back into it. I do remember doing well when the beat downed out everything but the words on the screen. 5) What’s in the near future for you? What can we expect to see coming?
| BRONWYN HEELEY| At the moment I’m getting into releasing a MM romance story, the first in a four book series with another author, we aren’t co-writing, and yet it has a similarity to it. I’m also on the verge of getting a few of my ongoing series finished up so that I can start on some new projects. I want to write a few novels in the next few years. And I’ve also be release a debut novel, young adults fiction under a pen name which I’m looking forward to. I will be heading more towards the horror side of things in my YA stuff, but as of now I don’t really have anything of that nature coming out in the coming year 6) Right out of the gate with these two shorts, we were up and running. Heart pounding action all the way through. And the endings, twist around and you never expect it. What inspires you to write these type of stories and handle the emotions of the person in jeopardy? Don’t tell me you’ve been chased by a serial killer. ;)
remember why either, but the ending, the idea of the whole story, which I would get into but I don’t want to spoil it. But the idea was mostly a “how cool an idea” and the fact that I pulled it off. Makes me so proud 7) What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? Stay tuned. And thank you, truly the ones that I get to see and the ones that follow my stories only, thank you. I love the idea of my books being in someone’s lives, whether they help them, or just for entertainment, I am grateful for every one of you. And you can find me glittered across social media (I’ll link below) but mostly on facebook. I’m always over there.
Nope never been chased though in my younger years of being stupid I had an experience with a drug that made me paranoid as all get out and I do believe that helped get me into the head of the victim as I was so scared. Hunted was a story I wrote when I was driving up to a family holiday house. We were on a road where a notorious serial kill hunted (in Australia), it was a big things, the Backpack Killer, and they even have a telly movie of it. And I’m not sure why it hit me, why my head needed to write this story but I couldn’t stop myself, and I think the way I wrote it, the POV. It was fun and creepy and had my heart pounding from the moment the idea hit to when I finished writing it Running Scared was the ending, full stop. I can’t remember where the idea came from, I can’t
Newsletter Issue 3 | October 2016 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR |
I’ll show you mine, if you’ll show me yours... da da da da dum, author of LGBT+ romance Serious I wanna know. Enjoy an excerpt from Running Scared: Running Scared Bronwyn Heeley Young Adult/Thriller Blurb: You always say you’d stand and fight, but when you witness the death of your loved ones, are you certain your feet won’t take off and lead you on a merry-go-round? Witnessing the murder of my family had me on the run. I didn’t know where I was going, or why I was left standing, but that didn’t stop my flight instinct from kicking in. I ran screaming, but he found me, and now I’m trapped in a hotel with a madman. What does he want from me and am I going to survive long enough to find out?
Mum was always the one to walk into the closet to make sure the monsters were all gone each night before I went to bed. She was the one who told me it was okay to fear. She made sure I was always safe when she was 54 | UncagedBooks.blogspot.com
around, and if she couldn’t be, she’d give me something to take her place. It was a stuffed rabbit. By the time I could remember owning it, I’d held the rabbit for nearly five years. It’s actually one of my oldest memories. The rabbit, which had been a nice baby yellow, when brand new, had turned a greyish colour, but I was more than sure that was years later than my first memory of it. As it stood now, me at the tender age of twenty-two, it only had one ear, long, paper-thin, and crusty from years of being chewed. The other a replacement ear from a bear. The stuffing were those little beads, settled in the arse and its toes. However, one of those had seen better days. I remember this because I wanted to be clutching my rabbit now. I wanted my fingers around the head, suffocating poor Scratchy as the butt snuggled into my armpit. Screams pierced at my ears—my mother’s, my sister’s, yelling for the pain to stop, for everything to stop! Panicked, I try to run away, to turn invisible as I slowly back out of the room. Tears ran down my cheeks. I want nothing more than to run to them, to get him to stop. A pulse in my head started beating rapidly, rebounding around my mind fast and strong. Pound pound pound. As if it was ready to jump out of my skin and dance the hula on my grave. I pray I’m not making any noise. My feet are heavy as I drag myself along the hall, a hand trailing against the wallpaper, slowly making my way towards the front door. Moans of pleas dance around me, sounding as if
| BRONWYN HEELEY | they were far away, then right on top of me. I’m alive and dead, dreading the moment he finds out I’m still in the house, that I’m not asleep, or locked up somewhere. I don’t know why he hasn’t seen me yet, why he didn’t check out the house before standing over my family. Before he started the butchering I’d witnessed. Fear rides me hard, I understand that as my hands shake and my mouth turns dry. I want to run. I want to scream, I want something to happen. The fact that I’m walking now is almost scarier. Why is it possible? When is he going to see me? Hunt me down and do to me as he’s doing to my family. Sweat slides down my spine, running cold, making me shiver while heat licks at my face, my neck. I’m all over the place, hoping and praying that my fingers are going to wrap around the front door handle, but I know it’s not going to happen. Any moment now, any fucking second, I’m going to get grabbed from behind and dragged to my death, and from the screams and blood-curling pleas, coming from my mother’s room it’s not going to be fun sailing. My bladder punched at me, I need the toilet, needed it in the worst way possible. I wasn’t even sure why. I mean yeah, I just woke, but honestly I hadn’t even really fallen asleep before all this happened. I reach the front room, the door is right there, just a few feet away. In reach. I push out a breath of happiness. I’m excited, I’m shaking, but breathing becomes ragged, hitting me as I suck in more than I let out. I stumble, hitting things that aren’t there.
I jumped, heart leaping into my throat, closing it up, as a scrape sounds from behind. It had me instinctively turning, but I caught myself just before making the most basic scary movie. no. no. I bump into the counter, it rattles, making a loud noise in the quiet room. There’s no way he doesn’t know I’m here now. My fingers fumble on the table, I grabbed my mum’s purse, taking the hard leather, then ran for the door, not caring anymore, just knowing that I need out. I would be safe once I get outside. I clutch at the door as it swings open, rolling around the hard edge taking myself outside. I look back, not able to get to the other side without looking. In most ways, I can’t help myself; it’s almost a compulsion. I can’t not see what’s chasing me. Can’t not see if he was actually there or if I was home free. I see a reflection as a cabinet door swung open. Its shone into the hallway revealing a man standing there, young looking and covered in blood. His jeans looked almost black in some areas, his shirt ripped as if someone had pulled at its collar. A butcher’s knife in his left hand, a smaller one in his right. Blood dripping from both blades. A smirk lined his face, nearly deviously happy with himself. My body shakes, violently, getting me moving again. I blinked, not releasing I’d stopped. “I’ll find you,” was voiced from somewhere behind me, and a laugh, fucking hell, the laugh, it was like something you’d hear coming out of a man who knew he’d done a good job in the sack. A beep shattered the world, making it shift and Issue 3 | October 2016 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | wobble as I slowly made my way out the door.
It happened again. I stilled, not sure what was real and what wasn’t.
Another short story, and more heart pounding running. The story is of a girl, who gets away from a serial killer, running through woods and through a river – all the time her imagination is playing so many games with her mind from fear. You feel her plight, and her emotions throughout. Another great campfire story, especially when you are trying to scare everyone into not being able to sleep.
Fear drenched me as I turned myself around, frantically reaching out, trying to find some common ground. Hard plastic hurt my hand as I hit something at an odd angle. I cried out in surprise and then pain, as darkness folded around me.
I’ll be reviewing Running Scared and Hunted.
Uncaged Reviews Running Scared This is a short read, but a heart thumping trip, with the character of Charlie, who is trying to escape from a killer in her home, who’s already murdered her mother and sister. Slipping out of the house and running away, feeling just the need to get away from the killer. In a short amount of time, the story gives you the fear and all the scattered thoughts of a person trying to outrun a killer. I can’t put too much into the review, as it’s a very short story, but the author succeeds in what they set out to do, to get your heart pounding, turning the pages. Would be a great campfire story to read when you’re sitting around telling thrillers.
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Great short story, sets out what it intends to do, and even though it’s short and another story about running – the ending is much different than Running Scared, but very much a good short thrill.
Uncaged Ratings: Adult Thriller/Suspense Graphic Violence
featureauthor Sharon L. Higa
Interview Whatâ€™s next for Sharon Stay Connected Never miss an update Excerpt from Horrors & Occupational Hazards Reviews
| FEATURE AUTHOR | Sometimes you want to read something, but you don’t have a lot of time, and short stories fill that need. Sharon weaves a thrilling short story that satifies the creepy factor. First off, thank you so much for taking the time for the interview! 1) What was your first book? When did you realize you wanted to be an author? I actually wrote three novels within a two month period. I wrote #6, Rose and Steel and A Safe Place (a mystery drama much like Fried Green Tomatoes), which I am still working on. I began telling stories and writing little tales down when I was nine years old. I come from a long line of story tellers, mostly horror, and when I was six years old, my cousin - who is much older than me – would sit down and tell me all kinds of scary stories. Thus, the horror/writing bug bit me and I was hooked. 2) Who are some of your favorite authors now, and what genres do you tend to read the most? I would have to say my favorite authors are Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Robert McCammon, and Brian Lumley. The most recent authors whom I have fallen in love with are several with whom I have the honor to share anthologies and are also publishers as well as authors. To name a few: Jack Rollins, Catt Dahman, Toneye Eyenot, Amanda M. Lyons, Stuart Keane. If I continued, my list would be a mile long at this time! LOL I read primarily horror of any kind, but I love just about every genre there is, except what my grammy used to call “The Bodice Rippers.” I just am not a girly-girl, so romance is out. Apologies to all my Romance buddies out there! :)
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3) The short story, Where the Dead Have Gone, is a real creepy treat. It brings up the feelings when you read about a lot of the closed asylums, and if they are haunted or not. You couldn’t get me in one, I’ll tell you that. Did you read up on the old closed asylums and the way people were treated for this story? Sirens Call Publications took a chance on a new author and for that I will be forever grateful. They helped launch my writing career, along with the fantastic JEA Press. No, actually, that story is one of personal experience and it was difficult for me to put down on paper. My best and dearest friend ended up spending one year in an asylum – the year myself and my parents moved overseas. I did not find out about this until I returned, and when we were in our twenties, she found out the place was being torn down to put in new townhomes. She and I snuck in there, and we walked around, and I discovered that everything she had told me throughout the years had been true, including the metal shackles in the walls in the basement rooms. Now, she and I are both psychic, and we didn’t stay long in there – but it set up the narrative in my mind, which eventually blossomed into the story, “Where the Dead Have Gone.” 4) Where is your favorite place to write? A lot of authors love to listen to music, and even have a playlist for their book. Do you like to listen to music while writing, or do you prefer quiet? I don’t listen to music, as I have family members living with me, so I have learned to write pretty much anywhere in the house, at any time, even when politics are on the TV! *grinning* I usually write in my recliner, my Teagle pup between my legs snoozing, or, I end up being awakened at 3 a.m. by my Muse, (doesn’t matter what day of
| SHARON L. HIGA | the week to that slave driver :) where I grab my laptop and go write at the kitchen table for two, three or four hours. 5) What’s in the near future for you? What can we expect to see coming? Will you be involved in more anthologies? I am currently working on a Zombie Western novel, a horror tale about a female demon wrangler in Hell, a serial killer, and a haunted house that is actually alive. I have another zombie novel coming out by JEA Press in the very near future, and I love anthologies – at least seven of them coming out with me in them as well this year. Please check out Dark Chapter Press’s offerings, and JEA Press – two phenomenal publishing groups! I love horror and anything to do with the supernatural, so that will be my primary focus in the future. 6) This short story was so well written, I felt the terror that the boys did, and the ending was not what I expected. Are we going to see more horror type work from you in the future? Most definitely. My leanings have been towards subtle Hitchcock type horror with a twist, but I have also begun to get into a little more intense horror, which I am finding refreshingly challenging. I love to stretch and test my mental limits with horror! 7) What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? To all the fans, I want to say, THANK YOU – because without people willing to read my work, and give new authors a chance, I would never be able to grow and continue to appreciate the gift
of story- telling that I have been blessed with. Anyone can follow me on my website: www. leapingunicornliterary.com I have listed all of my current novels, novellas and the anthologies I am in. I also do a Monday weekly wordpress blog, so I am more than happy to promote my fellow authors. Anyone can email me at the address listed on my website if they want me to blog about them, or add them to my authors list on my website as well.
Sharon L. Higa has been a published author since 2013, with one short story, Where the Dead Have Gone, published by Sirens Call Publications, as well as three novels - #6, Rose & Steel, Desert Tracks, two novellas, Horrors and Occupational Hazards and The Dam, all published with JEA Press, as well as over twenty-five Short stories published with four publishers. She has received the ‘Editors Choice Award’ Title in two Anthologies published by JEA Press, “Autumn Burning: Dreadtime Stories for the Wicked Soul” and “All That Remains.” She also won the ‘Males vs Females’ Competition by JEA Press against her estimable and noteworthy fellow author, Michael Fisher. She received an award from JEA Press for being very ‘Professional’ in her interactions with both fellow authors, and the Staff at JEA Press. She also received ‘First Place’ Title with the submission and acceptance of her short story, I C U, published by Sirens Call Publications in their October, 2014 E-Zine. Her short story, The Black Cat, was one of seven stories chosen and accepted by Dark Issue 3 | October 2016 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | Chapter Press for their anthology, “Eight Deadly Kisses.” The proceeds for this anthology are committed to CAMFED, a charity providing education for girls and young women in Africa. She has been married to hubby Mark for twenty-five years. They share their home with seven cats, one dog, and a ton of wildlife on 6 acres of property which surrounds their house, located in East Tennessee.
Stay connected leapingunicornliterary.com
Enjoy an excerpt from Dispatcher 157 in Horrors and Occupational Hazards Horrors & Occupational Hazards Sharon L. Higa Short Stories/Horror Blurb: So you think your job is dull? Routine? A dead end? Well, my friend – Dust off your resume, grab a pen and open these pages to see if any of These ‘Dark Possibilities’ of job opportunities may interest you: A hair salon where displaying hair designs is done in a rather unique way…… A Funeral Parlor where the Director goes the extra mile for his clients……. A Landscaper who truly has a green and red 60 | UncagedBooks.blogspot.com
thumb…… An auto shop that services the surreal as well as the real…… As well as a few other occupations that may have you reaching for a job application……or not.
The bell to the office chimed at the same time the clock buzzer announced it was twelve midnight. Roy leaned back in the chair just in time to see the figure in the hooded jacket move from the door to the break room. Thank God he’s on time tonight, Roy thought as he pushed up from the chair and grabbed his time card; But then again, when isn’t he? A little shiver wormed its way up Roy’s spine. In the past six months since this guy had been hired on the night shift, Roy hadn’t gotten a word out of him; no introduction, no chit-chat, no nothing. He simply came in and took the seat after Roy vacated it, acknowledging Roy’s “See you tomorrow night” with a curt wave of his hand. Hence, Roy only knew him by his Dispatch number: 157. The silent figure gave Roy the creeps, but, he had to admit, the guy knew his stuff. Log sheets were always up to date, orders were never re-routed or screwed up, and the office was always neat as a pin, according to the Day Shift guy, Jesse. Even the truckers set up with their small company never complained about him – and you know truckers – they come and go like hookers on a street corner. Roy mentally shrugged to himself and finished zipping up his jacket. Dispatcher 157, as he was known, walked in, flannel shirt tucked into faded jeans which were also tucked into his work boots. Neat as always, Roy thought to himself while plastering what he considered a big, friendly grin on his face. The man sat down, pulled the computer towards him on the desk, used his own password to log in and started to read. Roy laid his hand on the doorknob and turned towards the hunched over figure. “Hey, thanks a lot man for being on time. It’s my anniversary today and I’m plannin’ a real nice surprise for the wife. Fifteen years, can ya believe it?” The man seated in the chair raised his right arm and signaled with a single wave.
| SHARON L. HIGA | Roy shook his head and sighed. Well, at least he tried. “It’s pretty quiet tonight. No load pickup or delivery problems so far. The only trucker not yet on is Slim.” Roy supressed a shudder of disgust. Slim was the only trucker on the payroll at this time who gave everyone a load of shit. He was an owner/operator – and came and went as he chose, ignoring any and all rules; signing on with a trucking company until he either pissed everyone off or used what he considered a ‘justifiable excuse’ to bail on the trucking firm. To date, this little company was the fifth one he’d hauled for. The only reason he kept getting hired was because he was damn good at what he did; hauling and delivering on time, with a clean accident record to boot. Roy rushed his words, eager to be out and on the way home. “He should be radioing in soon. So, I guess I’ll see you tomorrow.” The man in the chair acted like Roy had already left, so, without further ado Roy did exactly that. The figure didn’t move until he heard Roy’s car start up followed by the squeal of the brakes as Roy backed out and left the parking lot. The only sound left was the soughing and crying of the wind blowing around and above the metal trailer the company referred to as the “Dispatch Office”. Fifteen minutes of perusing the screen in front of him ensured the man that everything was in order. He leaned forward and looked up Slim’s ‘Qual-Comm’. He typed in the request for Slim to call into the office as soon as possible for ‘pick-up load’ instructions. After keying in his number, Dispatcher 157 leaned back, folded his hands and waited. Ten minutes later, the office phone sounded off with a loud ‘BRRRRRRRIINNGGGGG’. Dispatcher 157 allowed it to ring only once before he picked the receiver up and hit the ‘talk’ button. Before the man could get a word out, the voice on the other end- harsh, raspy from too many smokes and beers – exploded in his ear, causing him to hold the receiver away from his head a distance of about a foot and a half. He could still hear Slim loud and clear. “Dispatch, what the great-all fuck is wrong with you? I called in a dinner break fuckin’ forty-five minutes ago! Goddammit, I still got fifteen minutes before I hafta report in! Are
alla you retarded, don’t speak to each other, or what?” Dispatcher 157 looked at the time logged on the computer for Slim. The log showed he’d already been on a ‘dinner break’ for at least two hours. The computer automatically logged the time in and out in all aspects of each truckers’ job. This had been explained to Slim time and time again, but he blatantly ignored this fact and did whatever he damn well pleased. Dispatcher 157 let Slim sputter and curse on for a few more minutes. When Slim stopped finally to take a breath, the man cut in. “Slim, this is Dispatcher 157. I have a ‘Pick-Up Load’ order for you.” The man clicked onto another screen which pin-pointed where Slim’s truck was currently parked. Making sure he was right, he continued. “The place is forty five minutes from your present location. I’m sending you the pick-up location via ‘Qual-Comm.’ They’re expecting you at ‘zeroone-thirty’ hours. Call me when you’re loaded up and I’ll give you the drop-off destination and route.” Slim waited to see if there was any more information to be imparted. When the silence on the other end reached two minutes he spoke up. “Well, hot doodley-damn. Jest get me the information n’ I’ll get to steppin’. Man can’t even have a decent dinner without you jack asses on my back.” Dispatcher 157 hung up the phone and typed the information into the computer. He then hit the ‘send’ to move it directly to Slim’s computer in his cab. When he was sure the information had been received by Slim, he proceeded to ‘delete’ all of the instructions and the prior message he’d sent to Slim from the computer system. He brought up the screen that showed the truckers log-in status and typed in Slim’s section: ‘Driver phoned in. Claimed computer in cab was not working properly. Gave directions for ‘Pick-Up’ over phone at twenty-four thirty hours.’ He then moved over to subsequent times throughout the evening and continued typing: ‘Have tried contacting to give ‘Drop-off’ location.’ And finally; ‘Have been unable to contact Driver since initial call.’ Satisfied that he had erased any electronic evidence of him and Slims’ contact, Dispatcher 157 pulled out his cell phone and made one more call. Issue 3 | October 2016 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | I’ll be reviewing Where the Dead Have Gone, from Mental Ward: Echoes of the Past Anthology.
Where the Dead Have Gone This short story really gives you the creeps. It conjurs up all the feelings that you would have if you stumbled into one of the old shut down asylums and what may happen if you wandered into one. Three teenagers, break into the old McCane Therapeutic Sanitarium to try to get some real evidence of it being haunted, and to get some “cool votes” in school. They definitely got some evidence, cool votes? Maybe, maybe not. I’ll let you decide. In a short amount of space, the author weaves a story that most of us have probably thought of at one point or another about old haunted asylums and what happened in them. The creepy fear is real, as you read, and the ending has a great twist. Well done. Perfect story to keep you out of those creepy, abandoned places. Definitely won’t catch me in one.
Uncaged Ratings: Adult
Thriller/Horror/Short Story Scary environment Older teen would be OK, nothing too graphic, depending on how easily they scare.
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Susan Hanniford Crowley Interview Future plans for Susan Stay Connected Never miss an update
Excerpt from Vampire King of New York Review
| FEATURE AUTHOR | I asked Susan to be a part of this issue of Uncaged, as I thought her book would fit in well with this edition, and she graciously agreed. First off, thank you so much for taking the time for the interview! 1) What was your first book? When did you realize you wanted to be an author? My first published book was When Love Survives which started my first series Vampires in Manhattan. It’s a story about two supernatural rescue workers who find love while saving others on Sept. 11th. I started writing when I was eight. A teacher assigned my class to keep a daily journal. I just keep going with it. 2) Who are some of your favorite authors now, and what genres do you tend to read the most? My current favorite authors are Jordan K. Rose, Mandy Rosko, Charlaine Harris, Christine Feehan, and Inanna Arthen. I love and read paranormal novels and paranormal romance. Since I use history in my books, I also read a lot of historical accounts. I research a great deal, so I read vampire fiction and nonfiction, paranormal investigation, mythology, ancient history, steampunk, computer technology, and anything that sparks my interest. 3) A lot of times, an author tells me that the story is inside them, begging to get out – does this happen to you also? What do you love most
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about the writing process? I dream all my books. Then I wake and start writing as fast as I can. The research comes in when I see something I don’t understand and I need to know more to write it. Sometimes a character will talk about something in history and I need additional information. I love the entire process. The dream. The story. The fun in writing it and editing. I love it all. Uncaged follow-up: Wish I dreamed like her, and actually remembered it! 4) I really enjoyed Vampire King of New York. Very clever introducing the mythology a bit, how many books total are there in this series, and is this series going to continue? (I’d love to see books about Hatcher and Noblesse). I smiled when I saw this question. Your timing is impeccable. As we speak, Vampire Princess of New York, Book 2 in the Arnhem Knights of New York series, is in final production at my publisher. I’m sending you the “cover reveal”. My publisher has not yet announced a release date. This book is all about Noblesse, the Vampire King of New York’s daughter, finding her true love and unraveling the mysterious disappearance of her mother. I don’t want to give away too much on that book before it’s out. I have partials in progress and notes on four books after that, but who knows how many there will be in total as I write what I dream.
| SUSAN HANNIFORD CROWLEY | It amazes me that it’s happened again. A reader during a midnight vampire internet radio interview asked me about a certain character and then I dreamed their story. After reading your question, I dreamt about Hatcher last night, so I’ve added his book to that lineup. Uncaged follow-up: Oh Oh Oh! Cover scoop! Can’t wait for this one! 5) Where is your favorite place to write? A lot of authors love to listen to music, and even have a playlist for their book. Do you like to listen to music while writing, or do you prefer quiet? I write on the sofa with the family watching the television. My ability to tune out the TV helps my writing. I used to write in my home office, until my husband told me he missed me, so I moved to the living room. Editing is a different matter. I usually do that late at night when everyone is in bed or on quiet Sunday afternoons. I also tend to write in the middle of the night in my hotel room at conferences. And during storms. On rare occasions, a book has a theme song that plays in my head while I write. For Vampire King of New York, I would hear Frank Sinatra singing in my mind “New York, New York.” 6) Who is your favorite character you’ve created and why? Who is the character that you would never get along with in real life? Well, so far that would be Max, the Vampire King of New York. Every time I think of him, I laugh. He is strong, handsome, sexy, funny at times, sweet, brave, and every inch a king. Max came with the Dutch and helped build New Amsterdam
into New York. He’s a visionary and dreamed of a place where vampires didn’t have to hunt humans. He created the Arnhem Knights to protect humans from death by vampires and to help other supernaturals in trouble. Max takes care of everyone he loves but personally he aches to find his lifemate, his true love. The vampire king does have his faults though. Bragging in front of a Norse Goddess if not a good thing. He said, “In the name of Freya, let me be worthy. Lead me to love. Help me find it or lock me in the ice forever. I can no longer bear the torment of life without true love.” You can’t help loving a guy like that. I would have a hard time getting along with any of my villains. 7) What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? I write for the sheer purpose of having fun and sharing that fun with my readers.
In-Person Book Signing Where and when: Best Western Executive Court Inn Manchester, New Hampshire Roosevelt Room Sat. 10/15 from 2-5 p.m. Free and open to the public!
Issue 3 | October 2016 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | Susan Hanniford Crowley is a science fiction, fantasy, and paranormal romance author specializing in vampires and rare supernaturals. Susan is an active member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, The Romance Writers of America (Published Authors Network), CTRWA, and Broad Universe. She founded Nights of Passion Blog, which she shares with five other authors. Susan is also an Associate Editor for Space and Time Magazine (not a romance venue). Her vampire/supernatural romance novel, Vampire King of New York, published by Soul Mate Publishing and it’s all about Max and his search for love while and is the first book in the Arnhem Knights of New York series. It is available in Kindle, Amazon print, Nook and B&N print. From her original series Vampires in Manhattan, When Love Survives, The Stormy Love Life of Laura Cordelais, A Vampire for Christmas and Vampire in the Basement are all now available in Kindle. The Stormy Love Life of Laura Cordelais is also in print. Her steamy steampunk in alternate Victorian England is Mrs. Bright’s Tea Room and in Kindle ebook. Her sexy Greek mythology Poseidon’s Catch is also in Kindle! Susan is married and a grandmother. When she’s not chasing a granddaughter or coloring, she has been researching about vampires for over 30 years. She loves collecting dragons. Remember when collecting a dragon, always wear oven mitts.
Where love burns eternal and whispers in the dark!
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Nights of Passion Blog
Enjoy an excerpt from Vampire King of New York Vampire King of New York Susan Hanniford Crowley Paranormal Romance Blurb: Max Vander Meer, is a modern day Viking, CEO of VMeer Industries, and a Vampire. He makes a plea to the Goddess Freya to find the only woman who can heal his heart, the woman haunting his dreams. But, the Goddess strikes a bargain with him. To find this special woman, Max must return to the city he helped build–New York, which is threatened by an ancient terror. When he meets Evelyn, he is astounded. Could she be the one who inhabits his dreams? But Evelyn is haunted by loss and betrayal. How can Max win her love when she doesn’t trust him as a man, and she doesn’t want to be a vampire? If Max returns to Iceland without her, he will be encased in ice . . . forever!
~~~~ Maximillion Vander Meer stood in the jagged mouth of the ice cave with a wolf skin girding his loins and fur boots on his feet. A frigid breeze breathed its welcome over his bare chest, arms and legs.
| SUSAN HANNIFORD CROWLEY | He smiled and closed his eyes to step back into the Viking past he loved, where he was free. He threw back his head and howled in exuberant abandonment. Then he ripped off the wolf skin and kicked off his boots. Max ran to the shadowed alcove he knew so well. A flicker of the past sparked in his brain and Vikings filled the cave, their voices rich in the chant of a ritual forgotten in the modern age, invoking the protection and wisdom of Odin, Thor, and Freya. Then he blinked and they were gone. Their voices silenced by time. Every time he entered this sacred place hollowed out by his ancestors, their presence worked magic and distracted his weary heart from the curse inhabiting his body. This power brought him back to the Viking warrior deep within him, as only here could he reconnect with his lost humanity. Every passing moment the curse pulled him further from whom and what he’d once been. That was the danger in being a vampire. It wasn’t the chill of his body, but the distance that crept into his heart. He was on the edge of forgetting how the laughter of his son warmed him to his toes. The memory of Svenna’s delicious heat as her soft skin lay against his flesh igniting the fire between them, slipped through his fingers like water. Inhaling the fragrance of flowers in her hair had made him feel powerful. Even the excitement of the next adventure filled with salt spray and swords clashing faded away. His heart no longer raced. The dire flaw in immortality was the sameness. Centuries of monotony blurred into others. Few ancient ones survived the deadly soul-numbing tedium of every day being the same. Closing on a thousand years, too many chose to lie in the sun and burn in agony over the course of two days until they crisped away in the wind. When the true burning began, night, the blessed night, offered no reprieve. The recent “chosen” death of his friend Coelhus was etched in his memory, making Max’s need more urgent than it had ever
been. Coelhus had given up. After centuries of dreaming of a woman named Celeste, he ceased to believe she could be real. Coelhus could no longer bear the loneliness and the endless searching. Consumed by his dashed dreams, he gave his body to the sun. Max stayed with him in his last moments, and while he couldn’t deter his friend, he resolved not to end in ashes himself. Time had robbed him of love, but today, in this moment, Max meant to get it back. Right now! Only this sanctuary of ice and stone seemed real to him; the human world faded into insignificance. Even the responsibility he owed his own kind lost its meaning. He had come to make a last sacrifice. If it didn’t work, he didn’t know what he would do next. His belief, however antiquated when viewed by others, never failed him. He had nothing to lose, and everything to gain. Since the death of his wife many centuries before, nothing more could happen to his empty heart. The feeling of being human haunted him from time to time like an elusive fragrance or taste. Memories were a different matter. The curse, as he called it, made every memory eternal, the pain as raw and consuming as the day he’d lost her. Squeezing the ancient dagger in his fist, Max stepped up to the frozen altar. The three carved stone figures stared blankly at him. Time, and a growing sophistication, taught him that they were nothing but stone, still the part of him that was Viking would always believe. Holding fast to that reverence of a bygone age, he stood before them. “I do not call on you, Odin, Father to all, but I respect your wisdom.” He bowed. “I do not call on you, Thor, the strength of every warrior, but I respect your power.” He bowed again. “I call on Freya’s mercy to regain my house, to find the only woman who can heal my heart.” Kneeling with his gaze fixed to the ground, he then rose to stand over the frozen altar. Before the feminine Issue 3 | October 2016 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | carved figure, he sliced his forearm and let the blood drip onto the icy surface. “In the name of Freya, let me be worthy. Lead me to love. Help me find it or lock me in the ice forever. I can no longer bear the torment of life without true love.” In that moment, Max felt more Viking than he had in centuries. Every night since their parting, he had dreamt of his wife, Svenna. He remembered their wedding night. She was frightened, and he could not stand the idea of her fearing him. “I will kiss you, Svenna, and I will keep kissing you until you tell me that you are ready to receive me.” She stared at him with tears in her eyes and pressed her lips to his. He kissed her back and after tenderly ministering to her mouth with gentle nibbles and playfully entering her mouth with his tongue, he kissed every part of her face then her neck, then her shoulders. Each soft part of her surrendered beneath his kisses and caresses. Finally with eyes partly closed and a smile of complete ecstasy on her lips, she whispered, “Take me, my love, and make me yours.” Max lingered in those thoughts, replaying his favorite bits in his mind. Then the dream grew dark. With one bad decision, Max lost his love forever when he left to pillage. That’s what Vikings did, but he shouldn’t have, not that one time. He should have stayed and respected the omen she received in a dream. The village they came to looked like any other but it wasn’t. They attacked at night to gain surprise and they were. The vampires showed no mercy, ripping their heads off and drinking down the blood. A few made a valiant last stand and were rewarded with slavery or a slow demise. The vampire queen drank from each of them until they shivered into death. Max shuddered, remembering her black eyes
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unblinking staring into him. The moment she touched him, he wished for death. Her squealing laugh made his ears bleed. “I hear you, Viking. Death is a repose. You will never know rest.” The vampire queen enslaved him. He could never figure out whether it was her making him a vampire that diminished his strength or if her magic made his chains unbreakable. She tormented him and demeaned him. It didn’t stop him from wishing for Svenna, for waiting for the moment when he could escape. After seven years, something was different with one of the chains. The magic had weakened. Max didn’t know why but he tested it, and he felt stronger. The vampire queen was in the hall outside the room about to come in. There were voices and she left. This was his chance. The imaginings of a desperate man makes hearth and home look better the closer you get to it. All the time and hardship seemed to disappear the closer he got to his home. By light of the moon, he looked through his window. Svenna was older but still beautiful. Instead of just his son, a boy and girl played before the hearth. Gordas, his friend, sat in his chair. Svenna bent to hold a lighted twig to his pipe. Then Gordas pulled her into his lap, and they laughed. Svenna had remarried and had another child. She looked happy, and he would not take that happiness from her. Being a vampire meant he could not be what he was before. He was a monster that terrified others. Even though he traveled far to feed and took no one from their village, those who knew him would fear him. His beloved would fear him. Filled with sadness, Max retreated to the forest. By day, the curse forced him to hide, but by night, he could gaze at her from the wooded fringe. The years passed, and Max watched her from a distance, never revealing who he was. He couldn’t, although in his mind, he devised a thousand different plans to win her back as he slept
| SUSAN HANNIFORD CROWLEY | each day. When night came, he realized each plan would fail and only put his family in danger. So he watched as his beloved Svenna grew old and died. The girl and boy had grown and now had families of their own. Svenna had lived her life without him and that hurt more than any thrust of a blade. He made the decision to leave that day. Staying would only inflict more pain on his shattered heart. Being a vampire also meant he was free. The world, his to wander and take as he pleased. What did that really mean? Loneliness. The centuries passed and women found their way to him for a brief time, but the fire he needed for life was not among any of them. Morning would come, and he’d retreat into the dark to dream of the one woman that could fulfill him. Only a lifemate could ignite the fierce passion that would turn a vampire’s eternity into paradise. The concept of lifemates was a mythology that Max did not believe. Then his friend David Hilliard found his beloved Laura among the humans. Their love and happiness filled Max with hope, a hope that inspired him to petition the goddess for one last chance at love. He would find his love, or die. Standing, bleeding on the altar, Max closed his eyes. He could picture his love’s face. During all the years without her, he dreamt of her, then a few years back the vision of her had changed. First she was a child, then a teen, and recently an adult. The Svenna he knew had a round face. This new Svenna had a more oval face. The nose was shorter. She wore her blonde hair in sweeping curls below her ears. The Svenna he had known wore her wavy hair long, very long by modern standards. He did not understand at first why the woman of his dreams had changed. Her eyes, however, never changed. They were still the summer sky blue he found so comforting, and for a warrior, whether in the modern day boardroom or on the battlefield of old, he wanted comfort to embrace him and ease his war-torn heart. He
wanted it but could not believe it. Coelhus suffered the same illusionary dreams that promised love but delivered despair. The dreams foretold the rebirth of his Svenna. Perhaps it was part of Loki’s mischief to deceive him. Still there had to be a woman somewhere to heal him, and Freya was his only hope of finding her. Being an outsider looking in went beyond hunger. That was why so many of their kind would lie out in the sun until it was over. Only one thing made eternity bearable—love. Opening his eyes, blinding light threw him to his knees. When the brilliance dimmed, the Goddess Freya stood before him. Her blonde hair tumbled in waves over her full breasts. A golden necklace rested on her collarbone with white linen draping her hips. The cloak of raven feathers rested on her shoulders. Never in his many years of worship had Max seen a god. Never until this moment. Not daring to gaze too long into her wondrous face, Max cast his eyes downward. “My Goddess, I pledge my sword to you.” “I do not want your sword, Reynard, or Max, or whichever name you call yourself, Vampire. You have pledged to be encased in ice if you return without her.” Max shuddered. He was foolish to make such a declaration. “You have requested my help, and I will grant it. You travel to a city with a growing evil. Amidst the chaos, a heart that’s closed awaits you to awaken it. Tread carefully. She will fear you. Make the wrong move, and you will both be lost.” Light flared, filling the cave. Then the goddess was gone. The slice on his arm was already healed. Stepping slowly backward, he bowed again before turning swiftly and heading for the mouth of the cave. A symphony of bells drew his attention to the black case on the ice floor. He opened the brief-
Issue 3 | October 2016 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | case and took out his BlackBerry. “Vander Meer.” “Your jet is ready per your instructions, sir. We need to submit a flight plan. May I ask the destination?” “New York City.” “Very good, sir. We await you at your convenience.” “Thank you.” Max closed the phone. Quickly he opened the suitcase. He crouched, as one would by a fire. The cold didn’t bother him, but he put on the dark blue Armani suit anyway. He donned socks and leather boots. Then he put on the heavy, hooded overcoat. Transformed into the modern man, Max took a final look around his ice sanctuary and at the three figures on the altar. He had never made an offering to Freya before. There are moments when even a Viking is afraid. And this was one of them.
band David, are vampires and Arnhem Knights themselves. This was a fast love story, even though Evelyn tries to keep him at arm’s length, she is drawn to him. Normally, I prefer a romance that brews slowly, and not books that have instant connections. But it works here, better than most. This book is the first in the series, but I may have benefitted from reading Laura’s story first, but I didn’t have any issues that hurt the story playing catch up. I think I would have liked to see a bit more descriptive paragraphs. I didn’t visualize as well, but there was some fun banter, nice action and a big heap of romance.
Uncaged Ratings: Adult Paranormal Romance Some Violence Sex Scenes
Uncaged Review Wave a vampire romance under my nose, and I’m all in. Max is an ancient vampire, alive for a millennia. The only thing that can save an ancient from going insane from being alone, is their lifemate. Max, who spends a lot of his time in Iceland, pleads to the goddess Freya for help in finding his mate. Freya agrees to help him, but if he doesn’t succeed to win his mate’s heart, he will be encased in ice for eternity. But this is only half of the story. Max is also the founder of the Arnhem Knights, who keep the city safe from evil. When Max meets Evelyn, he knows she is his lifemate, and his wife from when he was a human Viking, reincarnated. Evelyn knows about the vampire world because of her sister Laura and her hus-
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Coming Soon! Vampire Princess of New York Noblesse is the daughter of the Vampire King of New York Maximillion Vander Meer. In the over two hundred years, she’s been a vampire, Noblesse has never found a true love or discovered what happened to her mother who disappeared just prior to the French Revolution. Noblesse has to choose between two men. Both profess their love. Both are keeping a secret from her. One wants to destroy her, and one wants to love her forever. But which one?
| SUSAN HANNIFORD CROWLEY |
Don’t miss these titles: The Stormy Love Life of Laura Cordelais Susan Hanniford Crowley Paranormal Romance Blurb: A young women engulfed by despair and grief stands precariously poised on the railing of the Brooklyn Bridge. A vampire asks God to take pity on him. His barely beating heart wishes for true love. The next few minutes will change them forever and plunge them into worlds where they were never meant to be together.
When Love Surviv es Susan Hanniford Crowley Paranormal Romance Blurb: Regina O’Malley doesn’t know she’s magic. All she knows is that she’s late for her internship at a prominent brokerage house at the World Trade Center. Gregor Vasiliev, shapeshifter and a financial advisor at the World Trade Center, hates the office coffee. While on a coffee and donut run, there in the street stands the lifemate he’s been searching for. He must act now or lose her forever.
Vampire in the Basement Susan Hanniford Crowley Paranormal Romance Blurb:Regina and Gregor They survived one of New York City’s greatest disasters, and on their wedding day in Maine walk into another. Gregor aims to destroy the intruder who claims his bride. Regina must save the man she loves from a deadly curse with her magic. But she doesn’t know magic.
Mrs. Bright’s Tea Room Susan Hanniford Crowley SciFi/Steampunk Blurb:In this hot steampunk romance, the adventure begins in the sky over alternate history Victorian London, which is filled with dirigibles, but we focus on one, the infamous brothel within a lavender dirigible called Mrs. Bright’s Tea Room. Euthalia has no choice but to work for Mrs. Bright. In walks handsome airship Captain Travers, the Queen’s spy. Sparks aren’t the only things flying with Travers, Euthalia’s first customer.
Issue 3 | October 2016 |
featureauthor Elizabeth Raven
Interview What Elizabeth has planned Stay Connected With all the updates Excerpts from: Matanzaâ€™s Moon & Matanzaâ€™s Moon: Ablaze Blood Lust Reviews
| FANG-FREAKIN-TASTIC FEATURE AUTHOR |
Please welcome Fang-Freakin-Tastic Feature Author Elizabeth Raven! Uncaged is thrilled to host! Elizabeth is the author of the paranormal Matanzas Moon series.
Elizabeth Raven is a wife, mother, and Veterinary Professional hiding in the shadows and moonlight of relentlessly sunny Jacksonville, Florida. Her Paranormal Romance Series, Matanzas Moon (Book 3: BEWARE to be released in January 2017) is set in St. Augustine, FL integrating the authentic ghost legends of the Nation’s Oldest City into a lively, narrative driven plot. Daylight hours are spent indoors working, reading, cooking, or spending time with family, friends, and her four black cats. Otherwise, she can be found dancing, socializing or joining Ghost Tours whenever her imaginary friends let her out to play!
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1) What lead you to begin writing? My love for writing began very early in life. I read Judy Blume, Beverly Cleary, and Sweet Valley High books voraciously as a tween… But I couldn’t resist sneaking my mom’s Stephen King novels, too! I wrote my first “novel” at the age of 10 on a Royal electronic typewriter. My story was a teenie-bopper romance, (as were the three following novels). All I ever did with my work was maybe have a friend or two read it, then stuff it in my journal and start on the next one. My imagination was very fertile, but I lacked life
| ELIZABETH RAVEN | experience to understand the relationship dynamics. On a family road-trip to New Orleans that summer, we stopped at a bookstore for reading material. (This was WAY before smart phones and kindles). Of course I loaded up with my favorites, but among my stack of treasures was an astrology book. I’m an Aries, and so I chose that one, naturally. Well, it had far more information that I expected, including how the different signs interact with each other! SCORE!! From that point, I began creating my characters based on their astrological sign I chose to reflect the romantic dynamic my story needed. I’m not really sure when/what derailed me. Boys, most likely. After writing essay after essay in high school, then college, and protocols and policy manuals for work, my writing really suffered. If I was lucky, I found some time to journal, but I expressed my creativity through dancing and living wild well into my 30s when I finally settled down to have a family. By then, any aspirations I had for being an author was a distant memory until the concept of Matanzas Moon revealed itself as I strolled along St. George Street as I had countless times before. The three main characters (Bridget, Nick, and RIP) were suddenly so clear to me, and I couldn’t wait to discover what adventures my new friends would get into! As soon as we returned home, I began writing and stopped at the end of Chapter 1. Then I froze. This was back in spring of 2008, and I was not in a good place emotionally. I had become overwhelmed with the complications of family and an unhappy workplace. Once again, my dreams of sharing my stories with the masses withered on the vine. Then in March 2014, while reveling in the charming town of St. Augustine, FL with my husband and son, my long-lost friends came back to play. I finally had the right combination of ghost stories to “open” the series! I NEVER want to leave downtown St. Augustine… but that night,
the ideas were bubbling out of me, and I desperately needed to start writing. That was the first of many sleepless nights of bliss spent living vicariously through these crazy characters who crashed into my world. Within 5 weeks, the full first draft was complete! 2) All right, you’re ready to write! Look around yourself. What’s to your left and right? To my left, a mountain of pillows. To my right, at least two or three of my five cats. 3) Independent Publishing has revolutionized the book market by opening channels to anyone with the drive to write their story. What advantages and challenges have you faced during this transition? My biggest challenges have been budgetary limitations, and promotions. Without publishing advances, indie authors have to front all the money for editing, book covers, formatting, uploading, printing, and on and on… It’s a steep learning curve for someone like me (who just jumps in feet first), who works a demanding, fulltime job and has a young family. Then there’s the promoting. Conventions are fun, but expensive. I’ve enjoyed significant success selling my books at cons, but the expenses always seem to exceed the income. Online promoting *should* be easy, but it has its own struggles. Some readers aren’t aware how crucial reviews are, especially for indie authors. It’s all hard work, and it’s a perpetual cycle. In the end, you just gotta want it. Advantages are control. Or, at least the illusion of control. Some variables are beyond my reach at this point. Hopefully not forever, though. 4) Who or what best restores your inspiration when you feel discouraged?
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I am a fire sign, but I find the ocean extremely restorative. I am a red-head, so that means I avoid direct sunlight, and that poses its own challenges. My husband and I have made a habit of visiting the beach at night at least once or twice a month (either during the full moon, or the dark moon). We chill out, chat, and just enjoy the energy together. It’s our date night! When I feel discouraged, my husband and son are always there to make me smile… 5) Have you considered writing in other genres? Discuss a few of that genre’s elements you find intriguing. Paranormal Romance swings a vast arc, so I have a LOT of wiggle room within that genre. Witches, Vampires, Shifters, and such are all possibilities. I may also wander into the areas of Historical, Steam Punk, and Erotica in the future. Historical and Steam Punk because I love the rich, lush detailed worlds you build (or rebuild) for those stories. Erotica, well… When I say I didn’t know what I was doing when I wrote the first Matanzas Moon novel, I’m not kidding. I had no idea what audience I was targeting, how “spicy” I could get… I didn’t know any of “the rules”. So I played it safe, and went mild with any intimate scenes for that novel. Looking back, I think it’s appropriate because that novel serves as an initial courtship among the characters as they got to know each other. But, damn. These characters are HOT! How can you NOT imagine all kinds of intimate scenarios between them? Maybe it’s because I was more restrained in the first book that the second book was absolutely ABLAZING! Since I don’t want the Matanzas Moon series to be known purely as romance/erotica, I feel I may create another pen-name to write some saucy tales, too!
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6) What are you currently working on? With life continuing around me at break-neck speed, I have just re-started working on book 3 of the series, Matanzas Moon: Beware. I would like to say that Nick and Bridget settle down together and RIP gets himself straightened out and finds a love of his own… But it seems that’s not quite in the cards just yet. RIP and Bridget have a few things to sort out between them first! And don’t worry, there will be plenty of ghosts and mayhem, as well!
Enjoy an excerpt from Matanzas Moon Matanzas Moon Elizabeth Raven New Adult/Paranormal Blurb: Lost in her quarter-life crisis, eccentric Bridget Quinn abandons her Vet School aspirations to open a metaphysical store in St. Augustine, Florida. Adept in Palmistry, Astrology, and Tarot, Bridget discovers her dormant gift of clairvoyance in our nation’s oldest, and notoriously haunted city. Mediumship proves to be a pesky affliction, especially when Bridget’s attempt to help a ghostly visitor implicates her in a series of vicious murders! Her heart dangling between Nick Maddox, the compellingly attractive but rigorously skeptical police officer, and RIP Ryder, a witty and rascally hearse-driving ghost tour guide, Bridget stumbles into a web of mystery and mayhem. Can they catch the killer before another murder? Exactly how do you handcuff a ghost anyway? Excerpt Temporarily concluding his interview with
| ELIZABETH RAVEN | Lindsey, the Officer Rudd turned to Bridget grimly. “She’s sustained some severe injuries. The paramedics are on their way to treat her shock and get her to the hospital as soon as possible. I’m going to escort her and finish the interview once she’s stable.” They watched Lindsey shivering under the purple plush throw blanket as Bridget nodded in agreement with the officer’s assessment. “My partner, Officer Maddox is finishing up at the dorm. He’ll be here shortly to speak with you,” he added. “Sure, I’ll be here. The shop doesn’t open ‘til nine, so…” Bridget trailed off, watching Barnabas and Mortimer flank Lindsey offering their warm purrs of comfort. Clearly in her haste, Bridget forgot to close the door to her loft… The prisoner’s have escaped! A few minutes later, they heard another a knock. As Bridget opened it, the paramedics rushed passed her heading straight to Lindsey. Too interested in watching the scene in her parlor from afar, she closed the door absently… not hearing the footsteps approaching. The door was half closed when a tanned, powerful arm reached in to block it. Snapping back to attention, Bridget’s eyes followed the lean, strapping muscles upward to a familiar, heart-stopping face. The glint of recognition in his penetrating eyes was unmistakable as he towered over her in Lunatique’s threshold. “Officer Maddox,” he said with a brief nod. His outstretched hand engulfed hers for a quick greeting as she awkwardly shuffled backward to allow him inside. “Hi,” she squeaked. “I’m Bri-” “Bridget Quinn,” he interrupted as he bent over to pass through. Once inside, he straightened to his full 6’5” stature, and inspected
his surroundings. Furrowing his eyebrows, he squinted curiously at the peculiar merchandise and atmosphere of Lunatique. After scanning the colorful and eclectic room, his eyes locked on Bridget’s, “…From Gainesville,” he finished. She was speechless; she certainly didn’t expect him to remember her so astutely. “Right,” she answered as she instantly forgot how to operate her appendages, requiring conscious effort to refrain from swinging her arms back and forth like a little school girl. You’re so smooth, Bridge… She chided herself with an inward eye-roll. His attention had already shifted to the victim. The paramedics had Lindsey on a gurney making their way towards the exit. Officer Rudd stopped to update his partner, and Bridget slipped into the utility room, leaving them to discuss their findings. Unquenchable curiosity demanded she hover to hear as much as possible. Her position allowed the perfect perspective to admire Officer Maddox’s appearance. He was every bit as handsome as he was at St. George Tavern. More so, even. His wavy, black hair was perfectly tousled, and his five o’clock shadow contoured his impossibly symmetrical features irresistibly. Pity his personality doesn’t match all this glorious hotness. “There was no one at the dorm.” Officer Maddox’s deep voice was smooth. “Technically, the residential halls aren’t open until Monday. She must’ve had administrative authorization to move in early. We have evidence of a struggle in the third-floor bathroom, a few doors down from her assigned room. The mirror was shattered, and a large shard covered in blood was on the vanity. The forensics team is still collecting evidence.” “The girl’s in real bad shape,” Officer Rudd stated, shaking his head. “She’s weak from
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| FANG-FREAKIN-TASTIC FEATURE AUTHOR | the blood loss, multiple stab wounds to her torso, lacerations on her arms ‘n legs, n’ bruising ‘round her neck. How she’s still conscious, I just don’t know…” He continued in a hushed tone; Bridget strained to hear more. As they concluded their briefing, she stealthily ducked behind the wall undetected. Hearing Officer Rudd leave for the hospital, she emerged from her cubby with a jaunty parade of black cats trailing behind her. “I just need a few minutes of your time, Miss Quinn,” Officer Maddox said as he pulled out his trusty pen and notepad. “Yeah, no problem,” she agreed, casually walking to sit in the parlor. Stifling a smile, she watched him fold his hulking frame to fit onto the dainty Victorian chair across from her. Mortimer and Barnabas settled around her as Tiki pranced back and forth in front of the officer’s legs. “Just start from the beginning.” he suggested cordially. “Sure. Well, I was asleep and heard screaming. I looked out the window and saw Lindsey running from door to door, crying for help. I ran down to see what I could do, ‘cause I know no one is around here that time of night...” Bridget remembered. “Well, not that was the only reason...” His eyes narrowed as she stammered. “I mean, I am a nice person, and I try to help as much as I can, anyway.” Just shut up, Bridget. “I mean, just last evening, a super weird lady came by needing help.” He nodded intently. Bridget begged herself to stop, but she couldn’t. “I think she had, like, domestic problems and all. I did a Reading for her…” “A Reading?” He queried skeptically. “Well, sure. Y’know, a Tarot Card Reading.” Bridget blinked at him, astonished. Duh. 78 | UncagedBooks.blogspot.com
Eyebrows raised high in disbelief, the officer took a deep breath, gesturing for her to continue. With an elegant leap, Tiki landed expertly on his lap, stretching up his manly chest to rub her forehead to his chin. Beguiling little floozy. “Oh!” He uttered in surprise, his arms hovering midair. “Cats… Hmmm… I’m more a dog person, myself.” Figures. Tiki curled up and settled herself on his lap. Resigned, he resumed his questioning, careful not to disturb the precious princess. “Did she buy anything from you?” He asked, making a small circle in the air with his poised pen in hand. “No, I’d already closed the shop for the night,” Bridget shrugged. “And I don’t charge money for Palm or Tarot Readings. Bad JuJu.” “What about books, candles, incense… Anything like that?” “Oh, well, yeah… I just gave her some stuff… To help her… See, the Reading didn’t really make her feel better. It was pretty grim, so I wanted her to have some things… To protect herself.” She explained logically. Staring at her, his mouth slightly agape with incredulity, he shook his head to refocus. Damn, he has a knack for making me feel like a fool! Bridget fumed quietly. He opened his mouth to say something, but refrained, quickly looking down at his notepad and shaking his head. What, you arrogant jerk?!? What?? Inwardly, Bridget dared him to just spit it out, then glared at her traitorous cat nestled contently on the lap of this holier-than-thou bastard! “Ummm… I think we got a little off track,” she said icily. “We were talking about Lindsey. You know, the bleeding girl that was sitting here a few minutes ago? Yeah, so… I let her in and provided basic first aid… That’s about the extent of my involvement.”
| ELIZABETH RAVEN | “I see,” he said tersely, flipping his notepad shut as he rose from the chair. “Would it interest you to know that paraphernalia was found in the vicinity of the crime scene that closely resembles…THIS?!?” His arms swept wide to indicate the entire inventory of her shop. Bridget jumped to her feet. “Is that so?” She challenged testily, her nostril ring flaring as her fiery nature overwhelmed her sense of etiquette and hospitality. “For the record, Miss Quinn… Exactly where were YOU at approximately four thirty this morning?” He asked, cocking his head with a faint tone of antagonism. “What?? You can’t be serious…?” Bridget was outraged! She took a couple steps towards the door, facing away from him to compose herself. Abruptly, she twirled to face him. “Oh, WOW! Look at the time!” She said, her voice dripping with exaggeration. Avoiding eye contact, she continued absently about needing to alphabetize her nail polish collection, scooping litter boxes, scrubbing baseboards and other incredibly urgent tasks. “Right,” the officer said dryly as he strolled towards the front door she held wide open. Stopping directly in front of her, his hands dropped wearily as he struggled with his words. After a moment he said, “Look, I shouldn’t have said that.” “Yep,” Bridget snipped, refusing to meet his considerably softened gaze. “It’s just, where I come from… This is all a little…” He paused, floundering for an adequate way to express the absurdity of this metaphysical stuff without insulting her this time. “… Odd.” Watching her bristle at his clumsy vocabulary, the Officer knew he’d failed his objective. “Here,” he offered her a business card and cleared his throat, waiting for her to accept it. “Please… Just take it…” Bridget cut her emerald eyes up at him with residual fury, finally
snatching the card with stony reluctance. “Whoever attacked Lindsey is still out there. You’re isolated here when everything closes down,” he said softly. How was it possible for him to be even more gorgeous? The sincerity in his hypnotic eyes thawed Bridget’s icy resolve, just a smidge. “Call me if you feel unsafe,” he said as he ducked through the doorway and was gone. The colossal nerve of that gargantuan JACKASS! She thought, closing the door behind him with a flourish. Nick! Officer. Nick. Maddox… Of course his name is Nick! Aren’t most condescending jerks named Nick?! The internal debate began as her thoughts betrayed her. …He DID apologize and offer to protect me if needed… Yeah, whatever… Probably just out of a sense of duty. He clearly thinks I’m a dingbat... But damn he IS fine! ... Too bad I hate him! It was time to head upstairs to get ready to open the store. She spotted Tiki snuggled in the chair where Nick had been sitting. “And YOU!” She snarled while the cat ignored her. Taking a step up, Bridget added over her shoulder, “Tramp.” Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: Matanzas Moon by Elizabeth Raven was a fun and quirky book to read. Bridget is a medium and sees ghosts. She’s recently relocated to St. Augustine, FL (one of my favorite places to visit!) and opened a shop selling occultish items. When women start dying, Bridget finds herself in the middle of the whole ordeal. This book had some really fun characters. RIP was hilarious. I love that he does ghost tours in St. Augustine. Bridget herself was a really inIssue 3 | October 2016 |
| FANG-FREAKIN-TASTIC FEATURE AUTHOR | teresting character as well. Her ghost vision was on point. Nick was a typical hard headed, previously scorned cop, but his partner Travis, omg I loved him. He had more sayings than a dog has fleas! He cracked me up big time. Even Bridget’s friends were fun. It’s rare that I find a book where almost every single character is likeable like that. My only complaint about Matanzas Moon is that it felt kind of slow in the beginning. It took me a bit to stay with it, but I’m glad I did. Not too far into the book it picks up the pace and from there on out it is craziness. This book is a good read for anyone who likes ghost stories and doesn’t mind a little bit of romance. I like how the romance didn’t take away from the ghosts. I really liked the location, as I know where many of the places mentioned are at. I think this author has a lot of potential as subsequent books come out. She’s one to watch for sure!
Enjoy an excerpt from Matanzas Moon: Ablaze Matanzas Moon: Ablaze Elizabeth Raven New Adult/Paranormal Blurb: These flames can’t be tamed… After a wicked Halloween showdown with the vigilante ghost of a Voodoo Priestess, clairvoyant Bridget Quinn is hoping her life will finally cool off. Winter never poses much of a threat to the Nation’s Oldest City where there’s no shortage of Holiday Spirits when the blazing Florida sun 80 | UncagedBooks.blogspot.com
sets. Again, the Ancient City is plagued by mysterious murders, this time masked by arson. Hearse-driving Ghost Tour Guide, RIP Ryder, drowns his staggering guilt with excessive intoxication while Officer Nick Maddox’s heart breaks as Bridget’s peculiar behavior escalates. RIP has an epiphany, recognizing Nick and Bridget’s paranormal vexation as the work of RIP’s ghostly nemesis, Mr. X of Ripley’s Warden Castle. Can RIP rally the troops to save Nick and Bridget before the flames consume them all? Excerpt They walked along quietly. A few blocks from the Westin, Bridget noticed something falling from the window of building next to their hotel. Getting closer, she realized it was people! And the building was on fire! People desperately jumped to escape the flames, falling to the pavement in a heap of broken bodies. “A fire!” Bridget shrieked. “The building is burning! Nick! People are jumping to their death! We have to help!” “Um,” Nick said, looking around for what she could be talking about. “I’m all for that, but I’m not seeing any fires. Or people. Or even smoke for that matter.” He turned to Travis for confirmation. “Am I blind?” “Nah,” Travis said. “Not seeing any emergency around these parts.” The street was abandoned; the only light stemmed from sparsely placed street lamps along the way. A burning building would be hard to miss on this dark night. Bridget couldn’t move, standing fixated as a bloody head turned to look straight at her from the heap of bodies. Slowly, it put its palms on the sidewalk lifting itself up. The fractured forearms lost traction, collapsing as the torso smacked the pavement. Others stirred, noticing the first body finally stagger to a standing position. Their mangled forms cracking and contorting as they rose, their feet
| ELIZABETH RAVEN | shuffling along the concrete. Bridget gulped hard, horror-struck as the mob advanced, lurching and hobbling towards her with their shattered limbs dragging limply behind. Nick and Travis were puzzled by Bridget’s hysteria. Their repeated attempts to rouse her had failed. Nick was about to scoop Bridget up to carry her the last block to their hotel when the streetlights shut off. Nick fumbled for his flashlight in the pitch darkness. Clicking it on, he surveyed their surroundings. The cone of light scoured the area, revealing to Bridget dozens of ghostly eyes surrounding her, mere inches from her face. Releasing an inaudible scream, Bridget watched the bodies sway, parting as a fancy young woman pushed her way through the tangled mob. Approaching Bridget with a saucy sashay, the woman sneered, shaking her head slowly before saying, “Just wait ‘til X finds you outta your cage …” Bridget stared silently. “Y’think dyin’ the first time was bad, sugar? Just wait ‘til ya die again!” “Please don’t tell him!” Bridget pleaded, unsure where this voice inside her came from. “You can’t escape him, sugar. No one ever does,” The lady taunted, a wicked gleam in her eye. “There’s always a first,” Bridget managed, just as Nick swept her up in his haste to get her to safety. He didn’t know exactly what was happening to her that moment, but he knew getting her back to their hotel was his only hope of restoring her to normalcy. Just as they stepped off the curb onto Ellis Street, the lights flickered back on. They paused for a second, startled by the sudden surge of brightness cutting through the black night. Quickly, Nick resumed his quest to get them the hell out of this situation.
Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: This is the 2nd book in the Matanzas Moon series. I really enjoyed the first book, but felt the author had some improving to do. I am happy to be able to say Elizabeth Raven has definitely grown as an author since she published the first book. Ablaze starts off much stronger than the first book did and didn’t have the occasional dragging feel to it. It definitely had a much better flow to it. The Matanzas Moon series is incredibly fun to read. I love the city of St. Augustine and since the story takes place there, I have more of an understanding of where everything is occurring. There is a lot of history in St. Augustine and Raven has done a wonderful job of infusing the history of the city with the stories she tells. This is a great sequel. It continues the story of characters we fell in love with in the first book, especially more about RIP. I really love this character. He is probably one of my all time favorite characters I’ve ever read. He’s funny, he’s arrogant, he’s interesting, and he sounds hot. Nick and Bridget are still doing their thing, having miscommunications left and right, and Travis is still as awesome as he was in the first book. We really learn a lot about RIP and his past in Ablaze and while we don’t know everything, we get enough to give an idea as to why he is the way he is. He’s much more complicated than I originally thought he would be. I love how in this series there are secondary characters but those secondary characters play a bigger role than in many other books. It doesn’t feel like it’s full of unnecessary characters. Ablaze has a bit of a darker feel to it than the first book did, but not too much. It has a more mature feeling to it as well. Overall, I really enjoyed this book even more than the first book and I recommend this series to anyone who likes a good ghost story with fun and quirky characters.
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featureauthor Claire C. Riley
Stay Connected Keep up on updates Excerpt from Out of the Dark Review
| FANG-FREAKIN-TASTIC FEATURE AUTHOR |
Claire C. Riley is a USA Today and International bestselling author. She is also a bestselling British horror writer and an Amazon top 100 bestseller. Her work is best described as the modernization of classic, old-school horror. She fuses multi-genre elements to develop storylines that pay homage to cult classics while still feeling fresh and cutting edge. She writes characters that are realistic, and kills them without mercy. Claire lives in the United Kingdom with her husband, three daughters, and one scruffy dog.
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Out of the Dark Claire C. Riley SciFi/Dystopian
Blurb: We are temporary. Finite. The choices we’ve made, the people we have loved. Who we used to be no longer matters. Because now it is all about the ending. And the ending always comes too soon. There’s fear in the dark. And behind every drop of light, the shadows creep and the darkness comes in the form of clawing, red-eyed monsters. They hunt us—stalk us…they are desperate to destroy us. But I have a reason to fight the darkness and everything in it. A small glimpse of light that lives within my golden-haired daughter, Lilly.
| CLAIRE C RILEY | She is my strength. She is my everything. Every life is an untold story, each scene unfolding until the final act. But our ending has yet to be written, and I will continue to protect us, until I can not.
“Okay,” I relent. “Get the can, quickly. I will be right here,” I say, pointing to the edge of the entrance. Because there isn’t enough room for both of us in the space. “Don’t go too far into the dark. Get the can and come straight back out.” She seems almost pleased, and nods before getting down on her belly. She takes a deep breath and begins crawling her way into the small space, her small body moving easier in the confines than mine had. She reaches the can, grips it, and pulls it free with a small tug. The counter and some rocks move around her and I gasp as I wait to see if it will collapse, but it doesn’t. She glances back at me with a smile, proudly holding the can for me to see. “I got it, Mama,” she whispers to me, the whites of her teeth glowing against her dirty face. I smile back, and then my attention is drawn to the glow of two bright red eyes that shine out of the darkness close to her face. “Lilly,” I whisper. She looks back ahead of her, and I hear the short intake of breath she takes as she sees the eyes too. I crawl in after her, and grab her ankles just as the monster begins to move toward her with a hiss and a snap of teeth. I pull her legs, not caring if I scrape her face or hands, not caring if she drops the can, only caring that I need to get her out, now. She doesn’t cry as I pull and pull, and it feels like she will never make it back out into the sunlight—until finally she does. We stagger backwards on our hinds, clinging to one another as
the monster comes forward, forgetting itself for a brief second and daring to come out into the daylight. It screams in pain and darts back inside, and we can smell the stench of burnt flesh as smoke rises out of the dark hole of the shop. It watches us as it licks its wounds, hissing every once in a while. I grip Lilly and pull her to me, and she climbs on my knee and wraps her small body around me. I stand up and back away from the hole of the store, still watching the monster within. I take us back to our dandelion patch and I sit back down. I can’t see the monster anymore, and it can’t see us, but it knows that we are here now, and we know that it is there. We will need to leave now, quickly and quietly, putting as much distance between us and this place before nightfall. “Are you okay?” I whisper against Lilly’s hair. Her arms give me a small squeeze to let me know that she is okay.
Excerpt 2 #21. Sleep is for the Wicked. “Lilly, wake up!” I hiss quietly—too quietly, since she doesn’t wake up. I reach over and shake her, noticing the black veins on her neck are darker, but not quite as dark as the ones that have now traveled over my wrists and over my knuckles to my hands. I flinch, drawing my hand back abruptly because I’m shocked. Tt all seems to be happening too quickly—everything seems to be happening too quickly—and I’m scared. But more importantly, Lilly will be scared when she sees my hands, and I don’t want her to be. I don’t want her to look at me in fear. Just like I do not want to look at her in fear. A screech resonates in the distance and a shudder wracks my body. I grip Lilly’s shoulder gently yet urgently as I shake her again. “Lilly!” I look out the windows on all sides as Issue 3 | October 2016 |
| FANG-FREAKIN-TASTIC FEATURE AUTHOR | another screech echoes from somewhere, but I don’t see anything yet. Lilly is finally starting to wake—slowly at first, and then as if a switch has been flipped, she jumps and sits upright. “You’re awake,” I say to her, in case she was worried that she was still sleeping. “Okay,” she replies, and then recoils when yet another scream breaks out. She blinks and looks at me sharply. “They’re here. The monsters.” It’s not a question, but a statement. And unfortunately, she’s right. “They’re here,” she repeats, and I nod. Yes, they are here, and they’ve been chasing us for several miles, and I don’t know what to do. I should have let her sleep, blissfully unaware of the peril outside of this car, but I couldn’t. I finally understand the term “metal coffin.” I had always rolled my eyes at the statement, thinking that only people that were simultaneously trying to save icebergs, the ozone layer, polar bears, and—hey, what the hell—let’s throw in some strange jellyfish that lives at the bottom of the ocean that no one will ever see. We can give it a name that doesn’t make any sense too, with too many syllables and a silent g. Yes, I’ve turned into one of those hug-a-tree hippie-type people, because I finally understand the term “metal coffin.” This car is just that: a metal coffin, a one-way trip to hell. We’re trapped in it. We’ll die in it. We can’t get out of it. It’s a metal coffin and we are its willing occupants, because if we stop and get out of this car, we are just as trapped. So we’ll stay inside, driving for as long as we can, and dying with each passing mile.
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Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: Out of the Dark is one of those books that tears your heart apart from the beginning to the end. I’m starting to think she enjoys torturing her readers. She’s a sadist for sure. From the very beginning of Out of the Dark, you are given this sense of despair that you aren’t entirely sure where it’s coming from, you just know that it’s there. As the story goes on, the horrors of this world are revealed, and let me tell you, they sound disgusting and terrifying. The story follows a woman and her daughter through the world in their attempts to stay alive. This poor woman has been through Hell. However, that’s probably the standard for that world. Her daughter sounds like the sweetest little thing and you just want to help them somehow. As a mom, I can identify greatly with how this woman feels about her daughter and how much her life revolves around keeping her safe. This book is an emotional rollercoaster for sure. The way this author writes is amazing to me because she makes me feel emotions that I don’t normally feel while reading. It’s crazy. I seriously wanted to climb into the book and kick certain characters in the throat. There is plenty of action to go along with everything else, so if you like that, then you’re set. Out of the Dark is a great book for anyone looking for something a little bit different from the usual Post Apocalyptic Thriller. It’s emotional, it’s exciting, it’s heartbreaking, and it’s amazing.
| CLAIRE C RILEY |
More from Claire C. Riley
More reviews for Claire C. Riley “Riley delivers a story that is equal parts thrilling and breathtaking. It beautifully illustrates the lengths we go to survive and what it means to love when we’ve lost everything.” NYT & USA Today bestselling Author A. Meredith Walters “Riley’s ‘Out of the Dark’ holds a special place in my heart. Before I’d devoured it, I’d never read a book that so beautifully and eloquently captured the distressing, aching love a mother holds for her child. It is built into the heart strings of a woman, natural and uncontainable. It goes past biological and into spiritual. In her most unique and mysterious way, Riley has given us a transcendent picture of love in the midst of a terrifying climate. She has shown us what it means to choose your family, that it is a matter of honor and earning and not a matter of a blood bond and obligation. I am honored to have read this book pre-release and I know it will stick to me like honey, nearly glued onto the fabric of who I am as a human being.” Speculative fiction author - Eli Constant “A beautifully written story that makes you realize that you should always have hope, even in the most desperate of circumstances. It will tug at your heart strings, until by the end, there isn’t a dry eye in the house.” Goodreads & Amazon reviewer
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featureauthor Eli Constant
Stay Connected Keep up with Eli Excerpt from
The Tears of Chios Review
| FANG-FREAKIN-TASTIC FEATURE AUTHOR |
Author of speculative, mind-bending fiction. The Dead Trees Series, The Shadow Forest Series, and more. Coauthor of the Z Children Series. Adores all things quirky, eats ice cream with a fork, and likes warm Dr. Pepper (on a cool day). Once thought she’d marry Martin Short... until she discovered Alan Rickman. #Always (Might also have Dustin Hoffman on her ‘I get a pass’ list)
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Mastic The Tears of Chios Eli Constant Mystery/Suspense When the body of supermodel Harmony Phelps turns up in Morgantown, WV, Detective Mark Faulkner and Assistant Medical Examiner Renee Forst are sent on a downward spiral of unreality. A year before the body’s appearance, Kat Forst sees a vision of her own death. Now, the dream that haunts her with every sleep both frightens and intrigues her. Each night, she enters a bathroom; each night, three men test her resolve; each night, Kat finds herself drawn closer to the man decorated with swirling, glittering patterns of coral stone. Drugged and abducted by the Mastichoria of Chios, controllers of a mythical spice, Kat will confront the truth of her vision, the reality of her bloody fate. And the man within her dreams is real: Mikolas, the seducer. She tries to fight him, but his will is stronger; his desire is stronger. To Kat, the magic within her blood is a curse. To
| ELI CONSTANT | Mikolas, her blood means salvation. Across the daunting oceans, Mark and Renee pursue Kat. Time and destiny are against them. Excerpt The mist stirred; Kat and the strange woman were no longer alone. Kat could taste another presence, smell it, feel it, but she could not see. The odor threatened to overwhelm, but she fought against it. Summoning all of her strength, Kat stood up and began to run. She didn’t look back. She screamed, pumping her legs furiously, covering ground quickly. The red-haired woman stood silent and still. She was merely a puppet and had played her part poorly. The apparition within the mist solidified. Before the woman stood a man of immeasurable beauty, his bronze skin and raven black hair exotically striking. Embedded, coral jewels wove mesmerizing patterns in his flesh and the stones shone brightly, almost glowing and pulsating in the waning daylight. “A simple task, my pet. A simple task.” The man sighed. “What am I to do with a servant who cannot complete the simplest of tasks?” His voice was calm and controlled, but intense with loathing. He reached out and caressed the feminine curve of her mouth. And, then with sudden intensity, he pulled back his hand and slapped her across the face. The woman staggered and fell to her knees. A weak cry escaped her; her body folded, limp against the forest floor. “Don’t cry, pet.” The man whispered. “I will give you yet another chance to prove your worth. You will bring the girl to me. She must be unharmed. I will not be forgiving of failure a second time, my dear pet.” It was a threat wrapped in a transparent façade of forgiveness, but the strange woman
cleaved to it. He slowly raised his hands, palms up, and the woman effortlessly lifted to a standing position. She was momentarily a rag doll with no control over bodily movement. The man lowered his hands and the woman found herself free to move. She kissed the man’s bronze skin and then raced with fervor into the darkening woods. The man watched her retreating form. She was definitely beautiful, but he did not desire her. He could not desire someone so incompetent and feeble. The girl though… the girl was a different story. So full of life, sprinting through the woods like a true creature of the forest. A nymph. A dryad. A sprite. He imagined her in a long, flowing gown… her hair in braided rivulets down her back. She stirred within him something… he had not felt in more years than he could quantify. He shook his head, clearing his vision. His eyes found movement. A glimpse of a goodbye; then a flash of red hair and the woman completely disappeared into the distance. She had a simple task. If she failed a second time, he would dispose of her. Simple. The noxious mist had lulled her into languor; the neurotoxin injections to her neck had killed her quickly, coursing through her body and preserving her perfection. The mastic-laced formula he’d poured through her parted lips had reanimated her without flaw, yet, she was flawed. Flawed and unable to finish a single task. In the distance the man could hear a faint scream. The girl did not know real fear yet. He’d watched her for so long, but being near her… she was not what he’d been expecting. She was more. She was more than a tool to serve his purpose.
Issue 3 | October 2016 |
| FANG-FREAKIN-TASTIC FEATURE AUTHOR |
Dead Trees Keep Them Alive Eli Constant SciFi/Dystopian Undergrounders have risen from the belly of the planet to wreak havoc on humanity. They hunt in darkness, dragging bodies into tunnels teeming with primitive life. Elise is a widowed mother trying to keep her daughters alive, but bloody battles with beasties define survival road. Even when Elise finds Jason – a strong, capable man – she feels no safer, no more confident that her babies will see a tomorrow. Barely staying alive becomes the norm. Against all odds, Elise and her group reach a sanctuary. Yet there is no rest for the weary. Doctors O’Toole and Peters have been experimenting on the humanoid monsters… but they aren’t interested in saving humanity. Elise assists them reluctantly, all the while working secretly with Nick and Jamie to return the world to what it once was— Before the undergrounders came out to play on the surface. Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: I’m not going to lie; Dead Trees by Eli Constant really surprised me. It caught me off guard in all of the best possible ways. Believe it or not, it does take a lot to surprise me, but I really do love good surprises! Dead Trees is COMPLETELY worth taking the time to read! 94 | UncagedBooks.blogspot.com
Dead Trees follows the story of Elise Swanson, a mother of 2 who is making her way from her home in Georgia to her ultimate destination of Alaska after the world as she knows it has crumbled around her. A species of subterranean humanoids referred to as “beasties” or “undergrounders” has made its way to the surface and has started killing off the humans who have always lived above ground. They sound really nasty, violent, and peace negotiations are not an option. “Beasties” is a perfect way to describe these creatures. It’s essentially, where DNA went wrong. One group went above ground (humans) and the other below ground (beasties). As a mom, one of my biggest fears is being in a situation where the safety of my children is being threatened. Most of the post-apocalyptic themed books that I have read have not really addressed the concept of trying to protect your children and yourself at the same time. I honestly can’t think of any of them that actually deal with a situation like that. I don’t mind sticking my head in the sand about this topic. Eli Constant does a great job of showing the strength of a mother trying to keep her children safe in a world gone crazy. Elise is a great mother doing the best she can on her own, trying to help her children retain some level of innocence in such a bleak world. I hope that if I were ever in this sort of situation, I could be the kind of mom Elise is. Dead Trees was beautifully written and really shows Constant’s potential as an author. One of the reasons I say this is because despite the fact that there comes a point in the book where science becomes a pretty big piece of the story, she doesn’t lose me! I hate admitting this, but I really don’t understand a lot of science type stuff. Normally my eyes will start to glaze over and I just completely lose interest at the first hint of science. Anyone that can keep my interest in the presence of that level of science deserves stars
| ELI CONSTANT | out the whazoo. The twists within Dead Trees are surprising and full of new to me types of ideas that I really enjoyed being introduced to. Dead Trees is more than just a surface story. It is multifaceted in ways I didn’t think possible and made the story fly by. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series, Dead Trees 2.
If she can find the strength to leave the only life she knows, Lena will discover the truth. And she will find a new world, one that will cleanse her of the memories of false love and abuse. One that will finally lead her home.
Don’t Miss These Titles The Water is Sweeter Eli Constant Mystery/Suspense When the land becomes a desert, the water will quench your soul Orphan Lena McMillan used to think that what she shared with Truman Kent was real. Now she sees their relationship for what it really is- controlling and abusive. She has to choose to die slowly from ‘love’ or say goodbye to the family she’s always desired. Leaving scares her though, so much so that dying seems like her only option. But fate won’t let her quit life and Truman won’t let her quit his love. Not without a fight. Under the layers of a lonely childhood and an adulthood romance gone wrong, a starfish holds the key to Lena’s parentage and the answer to the mesmeric ocean dreams that haunt her.
Issue 3 | October 2016 |
New Releases October Release Dates - A Selection
Two by Two by Nicholas Sparks The Trespasser: A Novel by Tana French Winter Storms by Elin Hilderbrand The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan Replica by Lauren Oliver Nemesis by Anna Banks The Black Key by Amy Ewing Aerie by Maria Dahvana Headley Missing: A Private Novel by James Patterson The Queen’s Accomplice by Susan Elia Macneal The Rancher Returns by Brenda Jackson The White Spell by Lynn Kurland Legacy of the Demon by Diana Rowland All the Little Liars by Charlaine Harris
Gemina by Amie Kaufman Honor Bound by B.J. Daniels The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict Rose and Thorn by Sarah Prineas I’m Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl by Gretchen McNeil The Next by Stephanie Gangi Escape Clause by John Sandford Seduced by Randy Wayne White The Obsidian Chamber by Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child Cakewalk by Rita Mae Brown
October 11 The Midnight Star by Marie Lu Disenchanted by Megan Morrison What Light by Jay Asher Beast by Brie Spangler Twelve Days of Christmas by Debbie Macomber The Walking Dead Book 13 by Robert Kirkman and Stefano Gaudiano Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood The Scent of Salt & Sand by Kristin Cast & P.C. Cast Crimson Death by Laurell K. Hamilton Midnight Untamed by Lara Adrian Murder in the Courthouse by Nancy Grace Order to Kill by Vince Flynn, Kyle Mills
October 25 The Whistler by John Grisham Glitter by Aprilynne Pike Sex, Lies & Serious Money by Stuart Woods High Heat by Richard Castle Kept by Maya Banks Tantalizing Maria by Helen Hardt A Date at the Altar: Marrying the Duke by Cathy Maxwell Family Sins by Sharon Sala Wind River Wrangler by Lindsay McKenna If Only in My Dreams by Wendy Markham
Publishers and authors: If you would like a new release in these lists, please email me at UncagedBooks@gmail.com
Issue 3 | October 2016 |
Uncaged Reviews Lycan Gladiator
Eva Gordon Paranormal/Ancient World During a time of bloody gladiator games and treacherous schemes, a secret society of lycans live amongst the Romans. When Ulric, a lycan gladiator, meets a mysterious human woman with green eyes, he’s drawn to her fiery beauty, enraptured by her alluring aroma. Unfortunately, Ulric and the beauty are slaves. To make matters worse, he can mate only with someone marked with the sign of the wolf. Cassia’s hidden wolf mark burns in the presence of the handsome gladiator. While her heart yearns to be near Ulric, logic warns her against it—having a slave as a mate is against the lycan society’s plans for her. In spite of the lycan society’s rules and the emperor’s brutal plots, their love grows … but their passion just may cost them their lives.
Uncaged Review: This is the first book in her Wolf
Maiden series. It takes place in ancient Rome and follows the characters Cassia, a wolf maiden with the unique ability to heal lycans with her touch, and the enslaved alpha Ulric who fights for the entertainment of the emperor in the Colosseum. It’s an interesting twist on the standard soulmate plot, making good use of Roman history to form an engaging setting. The book feels very well-polished in terms of editing but it could benefit from use of more complex sentences. Some scenes use very short, clipped sentences with few adjectives, which can make it feel very choppy and take away needed levels of immersion. That aside, the verbiage and the way the story is told fits very well with the given setting. Something very important for conveying the era in which the plot takes place is the characters’ manner of speaking, and in this Eva Gordon did an admirable job. Though the characters are consistent with the traits and goals they are given, their reactions to certain
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scenarios could use a little work. The antagonists in particular come off as simple-minded in how they interpret and dismiss certain events, and this makes it feel as though the protagonists’ achievements are easily rewarded. The lack of subtlety detracts from the overarching political plot, and the antagonists would feel much more threatening if they were portrayed as more perceptive. Despite this, the reader can still grow attached to the characters and be surprised by events and outcomes in the book. Another thing worth noting is that the book does a good job in presenting the reader enough information about the setting and the lycans without overexplaining. There is enough provided to avoid making it feel as though the world hasn’t been fleshed out, and instead it feels as though there is much more the reader can learn. Overall, despite its shortcomings, Lycan Gladiator is a book worth reading, and a successful hook for a new universe. It displays an artful combination of fiction and history, and has thought-out characters that fit seamlessly into their world. Reviewed by Kaitlin
Uncaged Ratings: Adult
Paranormal Some violence Sex Scenes (not considered erotic) Some language
The Ghost and the Graveyard Geneviene Jack Paranormal Grateful Knight isn’t looking for love when she moves into a rent-free house on the edge of a graveyard. At twentytwo, all she wants is to recover financially so she can move back to the city where she belongs. But sparks fly when the gorgeous cemetery caretaker, Rick, introduces himself and mentions his suspicion that her new house might
be haunted. Her attraction to him seems supernatural, and despite her resolve to not get involved, she literally can’t keep her hands off him. When things in Grateful’s house start moving on their own, another man enters her life, Logan, a sexy ghost with a dark secret. He says Rick isn’t what he seems, and indulging her passion for him could cost her soul. One thing’s for sure, magical forces are at work in the tiny town of Red Grove, and they’re converging on Grateful. Life will never be the same once she’s forced to choose between the ghost and the graveyard.
Uncaged Review: When Grateful needs to make a
fresh start, she moves into a rent-free house that her real estate father owns and is in process of selling. Needing to take a break, and try to pay off the extravagant bills her ex left her with, this seems like a dream come true. The house borders on a cemetery and the very hot and sexy Rick, is the caretaker and sparks fly. And that’s not her only issue. The house seems to be haunted with a very nice looking ghost. But both the ghost and Rick may not be what they seem… This was a fun, original story that brings a fresh look to the paranormal genre. Grateful is likable although not very realistic. When she discovers she has powers of her own, there wasn’t a lot of time for her to learn to wield them, it would have brought more believability to the story to have her struggle a bit with it. All in all, it’s a good read – although the ending was a bit lackluster and underwhelming – with the attempt to get you moving on to the next book in the series. Reviewed by Cyrene
Uncaged Ratings: Adult
Paranormal Some violence Sex Scenes (not considered erotic)
Linsey Hall Paranormal/New Adult Cass Clereaux is good at two things: finding treasure and killing demons. Lying low is a close third—but not because she wants to be good at hiding. Cass is a FireSoul, one of the unlucky few to inherit a piece of the dragon’s soul. On the surface, the perks are sweet—she has the power to find and steal any type of magical treasure, including the powers of other supernaturals. But it doesn’t come without a price—stealing powers requires that she kill, and others would destroy her if they discover what she is. In a world full of magic, hiding her powers is the only way to survive. Finding magical artifacts is the only ways to pay the bills. But it’s a dangerous job when you can’t use your magic. When Aidan Merrick, the most powerful shifter in the city, hires her to find an ancient scroll, she doesn’t want to take the job. His immense amount of power reminds her of too much of murky memories from a past she can’t remember. But she has no choice. The scroll will reveal what she is. And if anyone finds out, she’s dead. Uncaged Review: One of the hyped up series of the paranormal world, I had to see if it was as good as it’s been cracked up to be, and the answer is a resounding YES. This book is magic. No pun intended. Three young women, have been thrown together, know nothing of their past before they were 15 years old, and are known as Firesouls, ones that share a part of a Dragon’s Soul. But the organizations who keep control of magical people, and keep the magic from humans, will lock up Firesouls, because of their ability to steal magic from other wielders. So Cass, Nix Issue 3 | October 2016 |
Uncaged Reviews and Del, have kept their magic hidden. And they’ve opened up a shop in the magic neighborhood known as Magic Bend. Cass hunts ancient magic items for whoever can pay. The shop has done well in the five years they’ve been running it, and along comes Aidan, The Origin shifter – gorgeous, talented with different magic including shifting into any animal, including an awesome Griffon. Aidan hires Cass to find a scroll, an ancient magic scroll that lists all of the major magic users. Cass needs to find the scroll also, to make sure no one else finds out about the Firesoul magic. Lots of action, a lot of very original magic, and a fantastic storyline, makes this a must read for paranormal/fantasy lovers. There are 5 books planned for this series, 4 are out now and the last should release by the time this magazine is published. I’m looking forward to the rest. Reviewed by Cyrene
Uncaged Ratings: New Adult Fantasy/Paranormal Mild Violence
RB Austin Fantasy Romance Hurt. Maim. Kill. An explosive, volatile demon lives inside Sarid. The monster seeks murder and destruction. The man seeks peace; or a silence that can only be found in death. Until he meets her. But his secret could ruin everything. Trust her instincts. Asjhone will do anything to keep her son safe. She
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conceals her terror during the day, but when the sun goes down, it’s locks, chains, and nightmares. Until she meets him. Sarid is everything she’s dreamed of. He adores her son, is kind, and would never hurt her. But her secret could ruin everything. Life is made up of choices. Lose his life or lose his love? Run from her past or stand up and fight? They must confront their pasts together, and fight for their future against a demon determined to win.
Uncaged Review: This is a the third book in a
series, and I had not read the first two, and the book stood up well as a standalone, but you will want to read the rest after reading one. The writing is superb, the characters are well flushed out, and the original story pulls you right in. And I like the fact that the author gives you a dictionary in the front of the book, to help understand all the new words and their meanings. The warriors in this book are known as Behnshma, created to protect the Followers (humans) from the Fallen (dead beings created by Apollyon) that consume the souls of Followers to survive. Each of the Behnshma has their own strengths and powers. This story is about Sarid, who shares his soul with an Other (demon). Hearing the demon’s voice in his head, and at times losing control of him, puts everyone, including his warrior brothers at risk. Sarid has decided it was time to end his life, for the safety of everyone around him. Enter Asjhone and her son Keandre. Both with a brutal past, who seems to calm both Sarid and his demon. This is well written, and the demon you will hate, and then love – is hell for Sarid, trying to control the demon from getting loose – as he destroys everything in his path with no regard once he breaks free. Sarid’s torture, Asjhone’s bitter past, and the witty banter from his achs (brothers) will have you turning
the pages faster and reading way too long. You will laugh out loud at the boys, and ache for Asjhone and Keandra. The ending of this one is a satisfying one, and I’ll make time to continue on with this series. Reviewed by Cyrene
Uncaged Ratings: Adult Paranormal Romance
Violence Sex Scenes (not considered erotic)
The Night Man Cometh Tony-Paul de Vissage Horror
Limousin, France, 1249: In one night, Damien La Croix loses his life and his soul, as he willingly choses Undeath rather than perish of the Plague. Once risen as a vampire, he takes his betrothed into the dark with him, but something goes wrong and Antoinette perishes. Now, Damien begins a solitary walk through the corridors of time searching for that one person to take his beloved’s place. Through Mankind’s long centuries, many women and one man cross his path, respond to his enticements, and are forced to make the choice. None survive to become his companion in the darkness, and so many are lost, now even Damien begins to ask himself the question: Is there no one for me to love…in spite of what I am? …for when the Night Man Cometh, Death is never far behind...
Uncaged Review: This is the first of a kind for me.
This book doesn’t merely span years or even decades, it spans more than a millennia in the life and death and undeath of Damian laCroix. We begin in 1249, France, where the plague is ravaging the village of Limousin. Damian is the son of the Marquix, and a selfish man, but also vulnerable at the same time. His only wish is to live and marry his love, Antoinette, but the plague has taken a hold of her. Desperate and inconsolable, Damian wanders into the forest, and to the large pit that has been dug to throw in the bodies of the villagers who have passed on. Here he meets LeMaitre, a sansmort, or vampire. In his desperation to not catch the plague, Damian makes a deal to be Turned with LeMaitre. When he is Turned, he goes to his Antoinette, to be able to “save” her, by turning her as she’s near death from the plague, so they can be together forever. I can’t go into the full story, but there is betrayal, and over the course of the book, you see the creature that he is along with the humanity that still exists within him. The only thing that Damian is looking for - a woman that he can love forever. This book is not a vampire romance, nor is it a nosferatu, with the vampire only a monster. It lies somewhere in the middle, as it chronicles this very long unlife of Damian. This book has a very dark tone, but the ending surprised me. Well worth the read for vampire fiction, and highly recommended, although not for the faint of heart. Review by Cyrene
Uncaged Ratings: Adult Horror
Graphic Violence Sex Scenes
Issue 3 | October 2016 |
Uncaged Reviews Dark Heart of the Sun S.K. Ryder Paranormal Romance
She is determined to live life on her own terms. Destiny has other plans. Rookie journalist Cassidy Chandler wakes to an ugly bruise on her neck, a hole in her memory, and a fiancé who seems to know more about what happened than he’s telling. It’s enough to make Cassidy call off the engagement and move out, even if that means trading a posh South Florida mansion for a dilapidated beach house. Unfortunately, she also trades one devious man for another questionable character in her unexpected new roommate: the darkly enigmatic and exasperatingly French Dominic Marchant. For Dominic Marchant secrecy is a matter of survival. As a newborn vampire with dangerous enemies, he’s sure the headstrong young woman invading his lair with an unknown vampire’s mark on her throat is about to get him killed. But the charming Cassidy resists his every effort to make her leave and even embroils him in her own tumultuous life. Before he knows it, she has stolen his heart and helps him rediscover his lost humanity. Now he’s fighting to protect her not only from the ancient vampires hunting him, but also from his own deadly desire for her. But her secretive ex isn’t done with her yet, and neither is the dark prophecy Cassidy and Dominic’s unlikely relationship has set in motion. Together they are swept up in a battle where nothing is as it seems, love and deception are the weapons of choice, and the only way to survive is to risk everything—for each other.
Uncaged Review: Cassidy is trying to make her way
as a journalist, and right away in the beginning, she is breaking up with her very wealthy finance, Jackson – and moving out on her own. Which is hard to do with her very unhealthy bank account. She ends up renting
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a cottage in shambles near the beach. Little does she know, that the lower bedroom is already occupied, and by a very hot guy, Dominic. Little does Cassidy know, but she’s about to be thrown into a world she never knew existed. This was fast-paced read, with plenty of action, romance and witty dialog. Dominic is at times, the monster he has become, and other times the most romantic and endearing character. The characters are well flushed out, and there is plenty of drama and action. A couple twists in the story makes it a great read. Looking forward to this story continuing. Review by Cyrene
Uncaged Ratings: Adult Paranormal Romance
Violence Sex Scenes (not considered erotic)
Sasha Bishop: Shifter Carly Jordynn Paranormal Romance
Her classmates are becoming vampires. Sasha is accused of being their Sire. The one person she thought she could trust has turned against her. Secrets from the past haunt Sasha’s present, making her senior year one of turmoil and deception.
Uncaged Review: This is a fun read and brings
you back to the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” days in a lot of ways. Sara is a Slayer of vampires and also a Halfling – half vampire, with a lot of the bonuses and none of the drawbacks of being a full-on vampire. Her job is to kill vampires who are killing humans – mostly the young ones that can’t control their urges. But someone is turning Sara’s classmates from school
into vampires, and everyone is saying that Sara is the one doing it. Along comes Rhydian, who adds some conflict between Sara and Hutch, and eventually he helps in starting to unravel the secrets that were never told to Sara. There are a lot of secrets, some suspense and plenty of action. This book has a good pace. I didn’t particularly fall in love with the character Sara right away, especially after what she does in the beginning of the book to her boyfriend Hutch, but she grew on me as I kept reading. This is a book that sits inside a series, and is a follow-up to another story, but it’s an easy read as a standalone. Reviewed by Cyrene
Uncaged Ratings: New Adult Paranormal Romance Some violence No graphic sex
Red Paradise James W. Bodden SciFi/Thriller The shadow of a new, dominant species casts over the ruins of the old world. Hunted by a deadly, viral predator, a lawman, a tiger-striped gigolo, and a steely smuggler come together to unravel the mystery behind a remote grove rumored to remain immune from the outbreak and out of reach from the shadow of death. The closer the expedition gets to their destination, the more vulnerable they become to this Promised Land’s temptations and each other. At the heart of this seductive, alien Eden, they slowly realize that paradise doesn’t belong in this world.
Uncaged Review: This was a read that I have torn feelings on. The book itself is well written and flows nicely. James did a fantastic job mak-
ing sure that you knew exactly who was speaking at what time and each character, no matter their importance, had a very memorable personality. Some more than others. However, each chapter often cycled between multiple characters and every chapter flipped between the different groups. Sometimes it felt like I was reading two different stories, which isn’t always bad, but certain times it was required for me to go back and scan for what happened when it was brought up in the next chapter for that group. The book was a fantastic read and if you enjoy having a story being told from two points, you’ll love this book. I enjoyed it enough to finish it rather quickly and while the adult scenes lacked a bit of description for my taste, it was an amazing read. My favorite part of the book is getting to know how the characters think of the corrupted and torn world they lived in. James did a fantastic job making it clear how the world was and how humans adjusted to it. Description everywhere else was magnificent and little hints in each chapter about one thing or another kept me reading on. Many questions were answered by the end and even more created. Reviewed by Michael
Uncaged Ratings: Adult SciFi/Thriller
Some mild violence
Mild sex scenes
Sarai Henderson Young Adult/Fantasy
Sixteen-year-old Hunter belongs to the Telepathic Alliance for the Latent or Newly manifested, otherwise known as Talon, a bounty hunter Issue 3 | October 2016 |
Uncaged Reviews community known for their ruthless tactics. Her latest mission in San Diego was supposed to be a piece of cake, but when the job takes a treacherous and deadly turn, not even her telepathic abilities could have warned her of the dangers lurking around the corner. There is only one place for Hunter to go, and that is straight into the hands of the government and their Psychic Intelligence Team, but even the “normal” world isn’t safe. With each passing hour throwing her deeper into the game of life and death, Hunter must decide who to trust before this mission becomes her last. Uncaged Review: This YA book, has plenty of originality and action, but some of the characters could have used better development. Hunter is a telepath, who runs away from home and works for a group of other telepaths, a group of telepathic bounty hunters known as Talon. What she doesn’t know, is the double-cross of the Captain who sends her off on a mission with a mark on her head. Enter a group that works for the government, PIT, Physic Intelligence Team and after the mission goes deadly wrong, she’s captured by PIT. Seeker, a member of PIT, takes her under his wing, trying to protect her, but when the leader of PIT decides to send Hunter out on a deadly mission to capture her old boss, things become deadly. This is a great concept for a storyline, but I would have liked to see more character development, and I would have liked to see the bonding of the characters more. I think in many ways, Hunter is a tough girl, but also very naïve for someone who has been out for a few years on these missions, and some of the decisions she makes aren’t well thought out and shows her age of 16 years which doesn’t make a lot of sense with her experiences. In one moment, she’s distrusting of everyone, but 106 | UncagedBooks.blogspot.com
in a very short amount of time, she trusts Seeker, which was a bit out of step from the beginning of the book. I never felt all that connected to the main character. All in all, I enjoyed the book and it was an easy read. Reviewed by Cyrene
Uncaged Ratings: Young Adult Fantasy Suspense Some violence
Drop Dead Gorgeous Donald Allen Kirch Horror/SciFi
“Would you like to hear a story?” The man couldn’t help himself. His captor was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Her powerful eyes held his attention and made him forget that she had him confined in a basement; his hands and feet bound with duct tape. His heart raced as he meekly nodded his head ‘yes’ to the question. After getting past the terror and discomfort, he reasoned that there was nothing to worry about. He would be missed. He had loved ones who would call the police. All he had to do was wait. Letting this woman tell him a story was as good a stall as any. The mysterious woman weaved a tale of betrayed love and unwanted, unnatural experiments placed upon her. Of a loving wife, working on a top secret government program. Of a husband searching for love in all the wrong places. The prisoner couldn’t believe what he was being told. A descent into insanity, fueled by a jealous rage, ended with using the tools of science for torture and revenge. With every blink of her lovely eyes, licking of her full
lips, and heaving of her perfect breasts, the captor entertained a story most bizarre. Of a woman bent on teaching her cheating husband a lesson. The prisoner wondered....”Am I next?”
Uncaged Review: This has to be one of the weirdest, most twisted, and completely engaging books I never expected to read. A whole lot of horror, dashed with a bit of sci-fi, and a sprinkling of humor, and emotionally – you never know who to cheer for. Do you fall for cheating Ray, or cheating Steve? I never did decide. So we start with Ray, who is kidnapped by Eve, and wakes up bound and tied in a basement with rotting corpses in a corner. And it’s only getting started. Wait until Ray is forced to listen to Eve’s story of how she came to be as she is. You will hate Ray, and then feel sorry for him. There is a roller coaster of emotions in your decisions to like/hate these characters and it doesn’t let up. And wait until you meet Steve and Annabelle. Dr. Frankenstein could learn something from these characters. Great read, very original storyline – worthy of its rating. Reviewed by Cyrene
Uncaged Ratings: Adult Horror/SciFi
Marcus Abshire Fantasy/Atlantean
When Atlantis rises from the ocean floor, will humanity live to see the next sunrise? Ever since
Jack was a child his only friend was his dog, Neal, an Atlantean SENTINEL, made to counsel, guide, and protect him. Now as a man, he and Neal use their unique abilities to save missing children. When a woman walks through his door, desperate to find her daughter, Jack does what he does best and is soon swept up in a plot to bring about a new age of Atlantis at the cost of millions of human lives. Can Jack and Neal stop Warlord Karakatos, or will he usher in a new age of Atlantean rule on the bodies of humanity? Uncaged Review: This is the best book I’ve read about Atlantis in a very long time. Jack is an Atlantean, who finds kids that have gone missing, along with his Sentinel who looks like a black Labrador, Neil – who has been with him for his whole life and they communicate through their mind. The author does a great job with this task, and it never gets confusing. Jack is faster and stronger than normal humans, and is content with what he does in his life. When Jack goes after a young girl, and finds out she is also Atlantean, all hell breaks loose, and someone is now out to get him too. When the young girl, Kim, and another Atlantean woman who came to Jack for help are kidnapped, Jack will need to travel back to the sunken city to rescue them, and in the process, learn the truth about his heritage and the city. A lot of great action scenes, with a Warlord trying to take control of both Atlantis and raise it back to the surface and take control of the world in the process, has Jack scrambling to stop him. The author also introduces werewolves and vampires, and how they came to be is very original and creative way. There was a lot of humor, violence, and great fight scenes and the author gives us terrific character and world building. The ending ties up the storyline well, but leaves it open for sequels. Reviewed by Cyrene
Issue 3 | October 2016 |
Uncaged Reviews Uncaged Ratings: Adult Fantasy/Atlantean Some Violence
Emma L. Adams Urban Fantasy
I’m Ivy Lane, and if I never see another faerie again, it’ll be too soon. Twenty years after the faeries came and destroyed the world as we knew it, I use my specialist skills to keep rogue faeries in line and ensure humans and their magically gifted neighbours can coexist (relatively) peacefully. Nobody knows those skills came from the darkest corner of Faerie itself. When a human child disappears, replaced with a faerie changeling, I have to choose between taking the safe road or exposing my own history with the faeries to the seductively dangerous head of the Mage Lords. He’s the exact kind of distraction I don’t need, but it’s work with him or lose my chance to save the victims. It’ll take all my skills to catch the kidnappers and stop Faerie’s dark denizens overrunning the city -- but if the faerie lords find out about the magic I stole last time I went into their realm, running won’t save me this time... Uncaged Review: This is the start of a series, that is 4 books in so far, and it’s a good one. Non-stop action, a heroine you can root for, and 108 | UncagedBooks.blogspot.com
a gorgeous mage sets up this wonderfully told story of Ivy, a mortal woman, who escaped from the faerie realm ten years ago alive, something no one else has ever done. Working as a freelancer to a man whose clients are supernaturals, Ivy risks her life over and over, but she gets the job done. Having some faerie power of her own sure doesn’t hurt. But when some teenage kids go missing, and it seems like the faeries and necromancers are involved, Lord Colton – the head mage, partners (much to Ivy’s dismay) with her to solve the case. The case becomes so much more than missing children. There is only a hint of romance in this book, but it does set up nicely for the next book. This is great new series to the urban fantasy genre, and I’m looking forward to the next book. Reviewed by Cyrene
Uncaged Ratings: Adult Urban Fantasy
Some Violence Language Sexual references
Never a Choice Dee Palmer Romantic Suspense Bethany Thorne has secrets and she’s told a few lies but she’s hurt no-one. She just wants a better life, she works hard for a better life, a life with choices but a chance encounter at her new University with billionaire, hot alpha Daniel Stone makes her heart beat, her body tremble and rocks her very foundation. Reeling from the
intensity of her unfathomable reactions to this man her world is sent further spiralling out of her control when on this first meeting he casually whispers that he knows she’s a liar. Bethany begins to feel her hard earned choices start to disintegrate before her. Her innate and newly discovered submissive nature is highlighted further by her extreme reaction to each encounter with alpha Daniel Stone. Seriously hot, dark and dominant he evokes an instant heat and desire she has never felt before, but he is dangerous, he is powerful and he seems to see right through her. Choosing to try and stay under his radar proves to be the first choice to slip through her fingers.
the pages. Dee does a fantastic job with description that I often desire and long for in erotic stories. My only complaint is that some times the things spoken during the sex scenes kind of made me snicker in amusement. Some of the vocal responses are a little much at times. That aside, I throughly loved this read and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys Dominant and submissive adult novels. Reviewed by Michael
Uncaged Ratings: Adult Romantic Suspense Sex Scenes
Uncaged Review: :Never a Choice by Dee Palmer is Book One of the Choices Trilogy. I wasn’t sure what to expect with book that touches on a subject as D/s, which for those who aren’t ‘in the know’ is Dominant/submissive. The ‘lifestyle’ of being a Dom and having a submissive is built on trust and knowing limits. My last read on this subject made me feel very uncomfortable. However, Dee shocked me with her first book in a trilogy that I will be picking up for my private collection. Never a Choice features a young adult woman by the name of Bethany as she goes through college and learning more about herself. This leads her to meeting Mr. Stone. Now I don’t want to ruin it for anyone, but the connection between these two characters is more than enough to keep me reading on from chapter to chapter. There is a little back story that sets you up, some history that is explained through the book, and even the ending leaves you longing for the next book. The flow of the story was perfect. Never once was I unable to keep in the ‘scene’ as I read each line. It was one of those books where you get lost in Issue 3 | October 2016 |
Fang-Freakin-Tastic Reviews Come What May
Kevin Lee Swain Paranormal/Urban Fantasy Until he met vampire hunter Jack Harlan, Sam Fisher lived a quiet, peaceful life. Now that dark creatures have murdered his wife and kidnapped his daughter, Sam must learn everything he can from his new mentor to find his little girl before it’s too late.
There are some pretty good twists and turns. Things I didn’t see coming until right before they happened. The back stories are interesting and help shape the story just when they are needed. There are funny moments, as well as heartbreaking, so the reader gets a full range of emotion from this book. Come What May was an overall great read. It is good for readers who aren’t looking for romance with their monsters and enjoy violent action in their books. This is a book I could see making a good movie.
Fang-tastic Review: Come What May is a fast
paced and action packed book about a man, Sam Fisher, trying to find his daughter before she’s murdered like her mother by vampires. For me, in some ways, this book reminded me of the movie Blade. Sam meets Jack Harlan, who is a vampire hunter. Jack completely reminds me of Whistler from the Blade movies. I saw him as the personality of Whistler with a combined appearance of Jeff Bridges’s character in R.I.P.D. and Kris Kristofferson. Jack was definitely my favorite character. The story flows super fast, but not too fast to keep up with. There is quite a bit of violence, and these aren’t your stereotypical romanticized vampires. They are the monsters as they were originally born. Thankfully, they don’t sparkle, but they are definitely assholes. They are violent and cruel and everything a nightmare should be. Sam is pretty likeable as a character, but he’s a bit hard headed (as many men are). He really is devastated by his wife’s murder and his daughter’s disappearance at the hands of the vampires. He seems like a sweet guy, though maybe he doesn’t realize much of what is really going on around him.
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Amanda Carlson Urban Fantasy/Paranormal When Phoebe Meadows gets struck by a strange light in the stock room of Macy’s, life as she knows it flies out the window. As if being hit by lightning isn’t bad enough, she’s accosted in the subway by a man with a missing hand, arrives home to find a raven on her kitchen counter, and her neighbor Ingrid shows up dressed like a gladiator, hell-bent on protecting her. Before Ingrid can shuttle her off to safety, Phoebe is kidnapped and tossed into one of the Nine Worlds, where she’s quickly forced to come to terms with what she is: a Valkyrie. The only problem is, she has no idea what that means. After a narrow escape, she finds an unlikely ally in Loki’s son, Fenrir. Together, the Valkyrie and the wolf must battle their way back to New York City and reach the Valkyrie stronghold where Ingrid is waiting for her.
But with danger and obstacles at every turn, Phoebe might not live long enough to learn the full truth about who and what she really is…
Fang-tastic Review: Struck by Amanda Carlson is a
fast paced, exciting glimpse into the world of Norse Mythology with a modern spin to things. Once you start reading, it’s as if the best roller coaster in the world was a book and you didn’t want it to end. I think it would be a good read even for those who know nothing about that particular mythology as Carlson does a really good job of telling the reader exactly who each character is and the role they play. I’ve only read one other book that involved Valkeries but Struck has ensured a newfound fascination for me. I’ve always liked Norse Mythology, so this book was a really fun read for me. I loved how Carlson introduced each element and gave it a place in today’s world. One thing I have come to expect from Amanda Carlson’s books is action. I don’t mean one or two fight scenes and that’s that. I mean scene after scene of action, and its good action too. Sometimes fight scenes can get boring and repetitive, but not with her books. Struck is definitely fulfilling that expectation to the fullest. It felt as if Phoebe was going from one issue to another with barely a chance to breathe in between. Each scene was creative and different from the others and easy to follow. Carlson does a great job of creating this world. Her descriptions of the different worlds was done in an easy to imagine way, which I really appreciated. Overall, I really loved this book. My only complaint would be that it was over too soon for me, but that’s just me being greedy and always wanting more. I can’t wait for the next book in this series to come out.
Feast of the Epiphany Kathryn M. Hearst Fantasy/Metaphysical
Immortal and a member of the Sinistra Dei, a secret order designed to eliminate threats to the Vatican, Giovanna was created to do the dirty work of the Church. This requires creative thinking and the ability to tap dance on the line between right and wrong. As the commander she loves slowly sinks into insanity, she learns that dark immortals--the Execrati dedicated to destroying her kind-- have snuck into New Orleans’ legendary French Quarter to hunt her friends. With the further discovery that one of Rome’s own has faked his death and the unexpected evolution of her supernatural powers, Gia is no longer able to play by the rules. How can she defy the man she loves, break the trust of a close friend, and explain the new set of wings on her back? The answer is simple... she can’t. Feast of the Epiphany is the first book in the Order of the Sinistra Dei series, a steamy Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance like no other. If you like mysterious supernatural creatures, conflict-ridden romance and a lot of heat, then you’ll love this series.
Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: I really really liked this book. It was fast paced and exciting, and once I started reading I couldn’t put it down. The Feast of the Epiphany gives a different spin to the vampire myth, with only the weak needing blood and the others feeding off the life of the victim. The Sinistra Dei hunts and kills members of the Execrati, who are a threat to everything Gia holds dear. I thought this was a fairly unique idea that
Issue 3 | October 2016 |
Fang-Freakin-Tastic Reviews hasn’t been overplayed. The characters in this book are extremely loyal to their organization and friends. We are given many examples of just how loyal they are. They are loyal even when they really shouldn’t be. I’d have been pretty pissed to find out some of what is revealed later in the book. They seemed to take it in stride though. Gia is the main character and she has a whole world of craziness going on. Between her leader acting suspiciously, to crazy new unheard of powers, to dealing with her friends being hunted and murdered by Execrati, this girl is just headed for a nervous breakdown. I have no idea how she kept it together. She’s one strong chickie, that’s for sure. The Feast of the Epiphany is a creative and exciting book that is full of action. There are no lulls in the story and the hits just keep on coming. It is an overall enjoyable book that I would recommend to anyone looking for a vampire story that hasn’t been played out.
would be missed. He had loved ones who would call the police. All he had to do was wait. Letting this woman tell him a story was as good a stall as any. The mysterious woman weaved a tale of betrayed love and unwanted, unnatural experiments placed upon her. Of a loving wife, working on a top secret government program. Of a husband searching for love in all the wrong places. The prisoner couldn’t believe what he was being told. A descent into insanity, fueled by a jealous rage, ended with using the tools of science for torture and revenge. With every blink of her lovely eyes, licking of her full lips, and heaving of her perfect breasts, the captor entertained a story most bizarre. Of a woman bent on teaching her cheating husband a lesson. The prisoner wondered....”Am I next?”
Fang-tastic Review: Holy crap on a cracker, this is one twisted book. I loved every sick minute of it. I’ve read several books by this author, and I have yet to be disappointed by any of them.
Drop Dead Gorgeous Donald Allen Kirch Horror/SciFi
“Would you like to hear a story?” The man couldn’t help himself. His captor was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Her powerful eyes held his attention and made him forget that she had him confined in a basement; his hands and feet bound with duct tape. His heart raced as he meekly nodded his head ‘yes’ to the question. After getting past the terror and discomfort, he reasoned that there was nothing to worry about. He
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In a way, you could say this book is about self discovery, and some other psychobabble nonsense, but it’s really about revenge and the lengths that one woman goes through to make her husband pay for his transgression. I mean, there’s getting revenge, and then there’s getting REVENGE. She just takes it to the next level of crazy. Seriously. At first, I was kind of thinking, Hell, this guy deserves what he gets. But the more the story goes on, the more I found myself feeling really really sorry for him. His life is totally flipped upside down and inside out. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for something different to read from the typical
“scorned lover” type of story. This is definitely not a romance book.
Onyx Web: Book One Richard Fenton & Andrea Waltz Horror The Onyx Webb series follows the unusual life of Onyx Webb along with a central group of characters in various locations and times. The billionaire Mulvaney family, piano prodigy Juniper Cole and her brother Quinn, paranormal show hosts Cryer and Fudge, and a few others make up the core of the series. Written like a book version of a supernatural soap opera, each character’s story moves forward with most every episode. It may appear that the characters are entirely unrelated and yet episode by episode, the connections will become clearer. Like being an inch away from a spider web, with each book, the web will move further and further away revealing the full story of every character and most importantly, the stunning conclusion for Onyx Webb herself.
remember. You know it’s there, but you aren’t sure what it is. From the very beginning, Onyx Webb had me completely engrossed in the story. I ended up marathon reading it because I couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen next. The story is all consuming. This book is formatted in such a way that gives the reader the impression that these events actually occurred. There are photographs, letters, and journal entries from the characters that give the reader something more tangible than just the story itself. I thought it was fantastic. Overall, I thought this was an amazing story that anyone who likes a good mystery and ghost type of story would really enjoy. Anyone who is looking for a book that gives the reader more than just words should enjoy this book as much as I did.
Fang-tastic Review: Onyx Webb is more than just a ghost story. I’m not entirely sure what it is, but it’s definitely more than just a ghost story. It’s like 3 stories in one that are all woven together in a way that you can almost make out the full picture but not quite. It’s like the name of a movie just on the tip of your tongue that you can’t quite
Issue 3 | October 2016 |
Myra’s Horror Blog Reviews
Jurassic Dead Rick Chesler & David Sakmyster Horror/Post Apocalyptic An Antarctic research team hoping to study microbial organisms in an underground lake discovers something far more amazing: perfectly preserved dinosaur corpses. After one thaws and wakes ravenously hungry, it becomes apparent that death, like life, will find a way. Environmental activist Alex Ramirez, son of the expedition’s paleontologist, came to Antarctica to defend the organisms from extinction, but soon learns that it is the human race that needs protecting. Myra’s Review: What a fun read. I love zombie stories and I love dinosaurs, so this was a great choice for me. Marcus, a paleontologist, is hired to oversee the recovery of several dinosaur specimens from the Antarctic. He is hired by a mysterious billionaire, DeKirk, with questionable motives. Meanwhile, his activist son Alex has made it to a different site ahead of him. When Alex’s friend is killed by a bunch of crazed looking Russians, 114 | UncagedBooks.blogspot.com
he runs for his life. Something about the men was so wrong. When he makes it to his dads’ dig site, Alex is astonished by the T-Rex remains. They are so wellpreserved, except for areas that looked savaged, like it had been in a fight for its life when it was alive. Then it rolls one eye and freaked out Alex tries to convince his dad what he saw. Marcus is not happy with the trouble Alex is in; trouble seems to follow his son wherever he goes. Once the T-Rex’s carcass is put in the hold of the ship, all hell breaks loose. The T-Rex wakes up and is hungry! It doesn’t take long for things to escalate as bitten personnel turn into something more than zombies. Creatures with reptilian characteristics; scaled skin, long, jagged teeth and slit eyes. The people regroup in the facilities on an island, where DeKirk wants lab results from the recovered beasts. Besides the T-Rex, there were two Cryos dinosaurs. Marcus had a hand chewed off, and he slowly turns. You can tell he is trying to retain his humanity as the story progresses. Maybe because his son is nearby. Toward the end, Marcus tries to save Alex even though he is barely hanging on. It was a touching scene. Alex has paired with with an attractive woman, Veronica, who was on board as a CIA operative to try and find out what DeKirk is up to. Suspicions are that it has to do
with biological warfare. The rest of the story, Alex and Veronica try to survive the many dino/zombies running around, plus the T-Rex and the two Cryos. Lots of action and gore as people fall to the mighty predators and zombies. I was glad that these two characters seemed to be headed towards a hook up. But I saw the writing on the wall with DeKirk, who wasn’t going to stop his insane search for the Holy Grail of bio weapons just because a lot of people were slaughtered or eaten. Of course, the last chapter, DeKirk’s team had discovered more dinosaur remains.
Ship of the Dead John L. Campbell Horror/Occult Father Xavier Church never wanted to be a leader. Nonetheless, he’s grown attached to his fellow survivors, and he won’t let anyone cause them harm— though he may be the one who inadvertently leads them to destruction… Ex-con Bill Carnes may crave freedom, but he still prefers sticking with the group rather than fleeing to Mexico with his former cellmate TC. Maybe he’s changing. Or maybe the look in TC’s eyes is more dangerous than the undead… EMT Rosa Escobedo gave up on hope after she watched the man she loved rise from the dead. But when a patient seems to start getting better, she can’t help but hope for a cure, even if it means risking her life… As the numbers of the dead swell, the living are
running out of safe havens—especially when the biggest threats lie within their own ranks. Myra’s Review: I was interested in zombie action that happens on a ship. This story did deliver, with tons of action and characters trying to survive the Apocalypse. Rosa is a strong female lead, who does not back down when it comes to helping others. She is an EMT when the story opens, and working on a doctor degree, so her skills, no matter if not a full-fledged doc, are valuable. Xavier is a priest who questions his faith and what he is doing. When they meet, he and Rosa make a good team. Then there are x-cons Bill & T.C. You can see right away that Bill wants to do right, while TC seems sneaky. Soon TC proves he is a bad egg, killing a nice man who didn’t want to have sex with him. But, there are more evil creatures afoot, and I’m not talking zombies. Peter seemed nerdy and harmless. But he is bat-ass crazy and evil too, always dreaming of raping and killing women. The survivors are determined to take a huge Navy ship, room-by-room, floor-by-floor. Many people die but a lot of zombies are wiped out. The scenes were intense and scary, just what I was looking for in this scenario. It seems this would enough trauma for any survivors, but TC and Peter on set on their own individual paths to more destruction. They are both finally taken out, but not without big scenes of struggle and sacrifice. At the end, the ship belongs to the survivors, but it will take them a long time to go through every section of the ship to make sure no zombies have slipped their notice. I recommend this book to anyone who loves Issue 3 | October 2016 |
Myra’s Horror Blog Reviews a good zombie story and especially one involving a ship to survive the Apocalypse. The reason I didn’t give this 5 stars was the author had a large group of survivors come together in the beginning. There were so many different ones he highlighted, it became confusing trying to keep up with them.
The First Days Rhiannon Frater Horror/Post Apocalyptic
The morning that the world ends, Katie is getting ready for court and housewife Jenni is taking care of her family. Less than two hours later, they are fleeing for their lives from a zombie
Thrown together by circumstance, Jenni and Katie become a powerful zombie-killing partnership, mowing down zombies as they rescue Jenni’s stepson, Jason, from an infected campground. They find sanctuary in a tiny, roughly fortified Texas town. There Jenni and Katie find they are both attracted to Travis, leader of the survivors; and the refugees must slaughter people they know, who have returned in zombie form. Myra’s Review: The character Jenni was a great way to kick this book off. Describing a mom in shock as she watches her baby’s ( now a zombie) tiny fingers scrabbling under the front door. Baby wants mom, but not in a good way! 116 | UncagedBooks.blogspot.com
Katie rescues Jenni and they set off across country together, discovering horrors that the zombie plaque have created for them. They also find out how self-sufficient they are in surviving this world. But they definitely seem to need each other. Jenni is a more fragile character and is too dependent on Katie, but after reading her story, you can understand why her sanity is questionable at times. Once they find the sanctuary city (real sanctuary, not a political sideshow), it is clear they may have a shot at real safety. There are many compelling characters introduced, especially the two handsome, rugged men who will be of special interest to the two gals. The descriptions of how everyone pitched together to secure their walled home was impressive. If you love zombie stories, like I do, mainly because of the great characters and seeing how people survive the apocalypse, you will enjoy this book
Rise Again Ben Tripp Horror A Mysterious Contagion. Mass Hysteria. Sudden Death. And a warning that would come all too late . . . Forest Peak, California. Fourth of July. Sheriff Danielle Adelman, a troubled war veteran, thinks she has all the problems she can handle in this all-American town after her kid sister runs away from home. But when a disease-stricken horde of panicked refugees fleeing the fall of Los Angeles swarms her small mountain com-
munity, Danny realizes her problems have only just begun—starting with what might very well be the end of the world. Danny thought she had seen humanity at its worst in war-torn Iraq, but nothing could prepare her for the remorseless struggle to survive in a dying world being overrun by the reanimated dead and men turned monster. Obsessed with finding her missing sister against all odds, Danny’s epic and dangerous journey across the California desert will challenge her spirit . . . and bring her to the precipice of sanity itself. . . . Before I give you my humble opinion on this book, let me just say that the author is very talented with prose. He writes descriptions that turn me pea-green with envy as a writer! Don’t believe me; here is an example: “The road descending from the Adelman place into the Forest Peak was a scribble of tar a lane and a half wide through the steep woods. It curled upon itself like a rattlesnake gliding through the immense trees; heavy-browed ponderosa pine, Douglas fir with their thick scored skins, young black oak coming up the gulleys where the big trees let a little sunlight get through. The slope of the mountain was so steep here that the crowns of the trees on the downhill side were at the same height as the roots of the trees on the uphill side. It was a beautiful place, especially with the morning sun cutting through the mist.” Ah, didn’t I tell ya.:) I can see the mountains and smell the pines. Myra’s Review: Danny is quite the main character; flawed, a bit crazy, and such a kick-ass heroine you’d think she was on speed. The woman was relentless and seemingly unstoppable. Things went downhill fast from the peaceful goings on with tourists at the planned 4th of July
event. First, the Sheriff got called in for because of a dead body. Kids who found him reported the downed body; before he went down they saw him running down the mountain, arms flailing while screaming. No one knew what he was running from. Soon, other people were running and screaming, filling up the little town quickly with unexpected guests. Many tourists got nervous; there were weird reports coming in from Los Angeles. Most of those left, or tried to, resulting in a huge trafficjam. Long story short here. People got stuck in town and all around the area. It didn’t take long for things to get worse. People started dropping dead; every person who had run screaming was effected. Not long after that, the supposedly dead folks started coming around. They seemed dumb, slow and addled. My zombie alarms were flashing right and left. And rightly so. The undead started attacking anyone in town and soon their ranks swelled. Danny saves a small group of friends and strangers, getting everyone secured in a large RV. Not without a struggle, one that seemed near impossible, but the sheriff kept pulling off feats of heroism and insane actions in order to escape the zombie hordes. The group travels across the desert to try and find a safe place. Danny doesn’t disclose that she is also looking for her sister Kelly. Once the group is secure, she goes off alone, all the way to San Francisco. She finds a big city is more dangerous than small ones, as she thought. The city was surrounded by thousands of zombies, and more being turned every day. Danny knew it was a ticking time bomb. She took the offer of going outside the safe zone with another woman; a crazy, heroic figure. This is where they first met the “hunters”, zombies who were smarter and faster than their undead cousins. Danny makes it back to her group, who were holed up in a safe place for the present. But while she was gone, mercenaries had taken over. Crazy Issue 3 | October 2016 |
Myra’s Horror Blog Reviews Danny went up against armed Humvees and a tank to try and rescue her peeps. She got trapped in her car when it was blown up, at least partially. What she did to escape was truly insane. I don’t think I could do what she did, and I am sure only a few heroic types could do the same. At the end, Danny finally finds her sister. It is a touching, sad scene. I don’t want to give the ending away, but it took me by surprise. And now I am ordering the sequel, cause I gotta see what happens next!!
The Remaining D.J. Moles SciFi/Dystopian In a steel-and-lead encased bunker a Special Forces soldier waits on his final orders. On the surface a bacterium has turned 90% of the population into hyper-aggressive predators. Now Captain Lee Harden must leave the bunker and venture into the wasteland to rekindle a shattered America. Myra’s Review: This book was different than others I’ve read in the zombie genre. The main character, Lee, is a special operative for the government. His job – to stay safe & secure in a bunker during disasters. A bunker well supplied with a variety of supplies that would be needed if things go nuts in the outside world. His job would be to gather people and rebuild society. There are special operatives in each state; one for each just like him. Lee has been called for training practices to the bunker, but his contact always told him to come topside in a day. Cabin fever sets in, but luck118 | UncagedBooks.blogspot.com
ily he has a faithful companion, Tango, a German Shepard. This time the situation was an outbreak of FURY, a disease that makes people insane and violent. When he doesn’t hear from Frank his contact, for weeks, Lee decides to break the protocol of waiting a month before checking on the world above. Just a quick look-see on his surrounding area was his plan. He gets attacked by a teen girl on his porch and it was a tough fight in spite of her emaciated condition. Crazy didn’t begin to explain her rabid behavior. Regretfully, Lee kills her and retreats back to his bunker. The next day, he is determined to check on his nearest neighbors. What he finds, horrifies Lee. The father slit his young daughter’s throat and then munched on his wife. Lee saves a 12 year old boy next, and gradually keeps running into more people. He hooks up with a large group of survivors who have things pretty secure, but not totally. They are low on food and have few weapons and ammo. The group did not want to take on more survivors, even though they were kind to Lee and saved his butt from a brutal gang of survivors. But Lee has a deuce up his sleeve. He knows where the government stashed bunkers of supplies survivors of a disaster would need to rebuild. Lee is accepted into the group due his perceived value, but everyone has a hard road ahead of them. The plaque victims are everywhere and had already broken into the compound after Lee arrived, and the rival gang is determined to take what little the survivors have. There is a lot of action in this story; I didn’t want to give everything away. The characters are welldeveloped. Lee is an honorable soldier, determined to help society if he can. I liked the fact that not all the survivors were savage and only thought of themselves. I highly recommend this book as an addition to your zombie reads.
Slow Burn Bobby Adair Horror A new flu strain has been spreading across Africa, Europe, and Asia. Disturbing news footage is flooding the cable news channels. People are worried. People are frightened. But Zed Zane is oblivious. Zed needs to borrow rent money from his parents. He gets up Sunday morning, drinks enough tequila to stifle his pride and heads to his mom’s house for a lunch of begging, again. But something is wrong. There’s blood in the foyer. His mother’s corpse is on the living room floor. Zed’s stepdad, Dan is wild with crazy-eyed violence and attacks Zed when he comes into the house. They struggle into the kitchen. Dan’s yellow teeth tear at Zed’s arm but Zed grabs a knife and stabs Dan, thirtyseven times, or so the police later say. With infection burning in his blood, Zed is arrested for murder but the world is falling apart and he soon finds himself back on the street, fighting for his life among the infected who would kill him and the normal people, who fear him. Myra’s Review: Very interesting zombie novel. I prefer 3rd person in reading a story but the author did a good job in 1st person. Zed is some what of a loser, so that is what set this as different from the beginning. Most zombie stories have a central character which we readers can recognize as a hero right away. And nothing wrong with that. I love these heroic types in a zombie world. But Zed grows in the story and becomes heroic, even if not in his own eyes. He has confidence issues due to his horrible parents. Poor Zed’s day goes from bad to worse as he is attacked, bitten by his step-dad, arrested and put in jail. He and Murphy, who become friends, escape, as did all
the other prisoners. A riot filled with zombies & those turning. Luckless Zed gets taken prisoner again when he goes to the military to try and get help for his friend, who was bitten. Zed needs help too, but he seems to be recovering and is more concerned about Murphy. They are put into a gym filled with people who have been bitten and those who have already turned in the first stages of zombism. People are being attacked and eaten. Zed learns he is a “slow burner”, someone infected who may slowly turn completely, or may hang on in some in between state. He escapes and makes it to a dorm at the nearby Austin college he had attended. Zed meets others who have holed up in the college. His slow burn state comes in very handy. Zed can go out and gather guns and bring back to the group. At the end, in spite of Zed and his friend helping the others, they are invited to live in another building. Truthfully, no one wants to be around them; who knows if they will turn zombie and when? But it hurts Zed plenty when he rescued several of the group in very heroic ways. The friends decide to strike out on their own, heading to a large bunker Murphy knows about. I am very interested to see if they make it to the bunker and what happens. I have ordered book 2 and 3 so I can start learning more about Zed’s adventures in a zombie apocalypse. I recommend this book as a great addition to those who love zombie stories.
Issue 3 | October 2016 |
Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews Women on the Brink G. Elizabeth Kretchmer Contemporary Shorts Women on the Brink is a stunning collection of loosely linked stories in which women aged thirteen to ninety must face the unwelcome realities of their lives. Sometimes gritty, sometimes humorous, and always compassionate, G. Elizabeth Kretchmer’s prose takes the reader on a compelling ride alongside these ordinary women as they wrestle with family relationships, self-esteem, socioeconomic status, maternal obligations, and need for independence. Some aren’t all that likeable. Some might not see the world the way you do. But they’re compelling in their own right as they reflect women in today’s world—women who have come along a difficult path—and as they courageously take control of their lives. Amy’s Review: Absolutely Stunning! Kretchmer put together a grand collection of stories, and the focus is women. Women of all ages, shapes, sizes and strengths. Typical women! There are stories and prose, an enhancement to normal storytelling. I really enjoyed this collection. It was so easy to relate to the women and the stories, and how to find ones inner strength, even when we don’t think there is any strength left. I have to admit that my favorite was “Writing Therapy” but I enjoyed all of them. I loved the “session” and when it was over, “When Raina stood, she felt chilled.
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Naked. Exposed and rejected. As though she’d been ripped open and also handed a heavy load of guilt and shame. A load she would now have to carry all by herself throughout the next week.” I reread this story a few times before moving on.
Wallflower Blooming Amy Rivers Contemporary Romance Val Shakely is a list-maker. Daily routine. Check. Calm, quiet (but successful) business. Check. No drama. No excitement. Some might call it boring, but it’s precisely the way Val likes it. She loves her hometown of Cambria, nestled in the mountains of Colorado, and runs a fruitful PR firm. It’s more than enough for Val. So what if she doesn’t have a social life? Then, her cousin Gwen decides to take on the local political bully, Mayor Roger Barton, in head-to-head combat for his poisition, and Val takes her company reluctantly, and against her better judgment, into the fray. Amy’s Review: Excellent! I loved this book. Any book that has strong women draw me in. The bonds of friendship between Val and her cousin Gwen is genuine and interesting. Friendships. Romance. Love and politics. My favorite quote was ““Love isn’t easy, darling” Constance said, “And loving a…um, newsworthy man takes some getting used to. But look at it this way, Val.
You’re a good person and so is John. I can’t say that I know him well but I think that he avoids controversy the way you do, so once the novelty wears off, they’ll move on to more interesting prospects.” It’s the truth in life or fiction.
Schizo:Hidden in Plain Sight Ilene B. Benator Mystery/Thriller An ambitious future surgeon on his psychiatry rotation is assigned a patient who reveals to him information about an organized plot to control the population. His pursuit of the truth leads him to become a psychiatric patient in the same facility. Dan Greenberg was a promising medical student who was derailed by Catherine--a bizarre schizophrenic patient whose delusions about patients in danger at hospitals all around Chicago were startlingly specific. Drawn by both curiosity and compassion, Dan investigates, discovering that they were exactly where Catherine said they would be. Who are these people? Why are they in danger? Are they connected with each other?
Amy’s Review: Terrifyingly believable! Knowing the background of the author made this story more real and more terrifying. It’s one thing to be scared and horrified with the context of a story, but realizing it could all be true, makes it more wonderfully scary. I absolutely love this story! If I could give it more than 5 stars, I would. It’s an emotionally charged, first person POV story ... Dan’s story. “I would discover things I wish I never knew. If I could do it all over again, knowing what I know now, I would never have jumped down that rabbit hole. But I did, and there’s no going back.” And that was just the beginning. The words moved me, and I was on the edge of my seat, turning the pages quickly, reading every single word. I never once got lost in the medical jargon, as it was part of the scene which made it all the more realistic.
Killer Cannoli Carole Fowkes Cozy Mystery Private Investigator Claire DeNardo, visits her Aunt Lena’s cafe, Cannoli’s, and discovers a romance brewing between her aunt and a new customer. Claire’s surmises that her aunt’s new boyfriend is lying about his identity prove solid when he’s found murdered at the cafe. Claire ignores the warning of Police Detective Brian Corrigan and delves into the dead man’s life. In the process she realizes her aunt may un-
Issue 3 | October 2016 |
Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews wittingly possess what the killer wants. And it’s not her tiramisu recipe. Amy’s Review: Fun and Enjoyable. I didn’t read the first book in the series, but I will surely do so now that I’ve read book 2 (and I’m gonna check out book 3). I really enjoyed this book. Claire is a very likable person and interesting. I like her relationship with her father, and her realness about digging in her heels when it comes to Brian. Who would listen to a guy who never called anyway? Claire may have inherited this PI Agency but she’s a remarkably strong woman, strong-willed and a grand PI. Look forward to more work by Fowkes, including this entire series.
Irregardless of Murder E. E Kennedy Cozy Mystery Amelia Prentice, a forty-something high school English teacher comfortable in her predictable routine, regains consciousness after tripping over the corpse of a former student in the safest of places, the public library. Returning to the classroom, she tries to pretend nothing happened. But when it becomes obvious that the victim’s death wasn’t an accident and she is now a murder suspect, she realizes that her cozy small-town life in New York’s Adirondack region will never be the same.
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Amy’s Review: Murder is just the beginning. It’s an interesting story of Amelia Prentice, an English teacher, who becomes an investigator or amateur sleuth. It’s a grand mystery where the title grabbed this author/English major. I loved the title, and became intrigued. It’s a very witty story and is just the beginning of a mystery for Amelia. It’s lighthearted and smart, and I, too, become annoyed at irregardless, since that word never makes sense. Kennedy writes this well, and to meet up with her titles, she has to. Her characters have great chemistry and are human. I look forward to reading the next books in her Miss Prentice Cozy Mysteries series.
Far Cry from Turquoise Kate Rigby Coming of Age Told from both daughter and father’s perspectives, Far Cry From The Turquoise Room is a coming-of-age, riches-to-rags tale of loss, resilience, and selfdiscovery. It is also about the passage of childhood into puberty. Amy’s Review: Yes, this book is stunning. Absolutely stunning. I love that it’s written in two perspectives, which gives an added depth to the story. Rigby already has a big fan with me, so I was honored to read another one of her books. “You won’t forget my name. You won’t forget me. I was, I am, I will be.” Father Hassan Azim
Nassiri. Daughter Leila. Princess Leila. It opens with enrichment and poetry. The story is wondrous and charming, but real and dramatic, as they deal with a loss that hangs on to their emotions. Loss that almost defines their life and their destiny. I highly recommend this story.
Cora and the Nurse Dragon H.L. Burke Coming of Age Cora’s a young girl with two dreams: to be a dragon jockey when she grows up and to own a pet dragon now. She constantly buys “egg packs” at the dragon emporium in hopes that one will hatch into a rare pet-sized dragon, but only gets short-lived mayflies. However, when an unexpected egg does develop into something new, Cora may be over her head. Amy’s Review: This book is intended for children, but it was an adorable story about Cora. Cora dreams about having her own dragon, and does whatever she can, such as hatching eggs, to get the dragon. It’s a grand story about when dreams come true, and the dreams may not always be what we want or what we expect. I read stories for those of all ages, and I really liked this story. I’d be glad to read more of Burke’s work. I also recommend this book to those who have children and love exploring the imagination.
Life After: The Void Bryan Way Horror/Post-Apocalyptic The beginning of the end has come and gone. Jeff Grey and his motley crew have survived the first days of the zombie apocalypse, and though they’ve prepared for a life after the arising, the collapse of society is tearing them apart. Amy’s Review: I was very honored when the author gave me a copy of this book as a gift. Having read the other books in the series, I was very much looking forward to reading this book. I was not disappointed. Actually, not being surprised at the quality of writing of Bryan Way, I was intensely attracted to this book. I am a fan of knowing “what happens next” in a story, and this book definitely told me what happens after the town, the world, becomes overrun by the Undead ... Zs ... Zombies. Jeff Grey is a young, but complex character, churning with different emotions, and it is not just because of the fear of the Zombies on the outside of their school “fortress”. An incredible storyline with complex, interactive characters, all with different perceptions, ideas and emotions as to how to best survive. It is definitely life after the arising and by far my favorite of the series!
Issue 3 | October 2016 |
Issue 3, October 2016 Featuring authors: Keith Rommel, Myra Nour, Andy Peloquin, Alexis Duran, Savanna Kougar, Bronwyn Heeley, Sharon L. Hig...
Published on Sep 30, 2016
Issue 3, October 2016 Featuring authors: Keith Rommel, Myra Nour, Andy Peloquin, Alexis Duran, Savanna Kougar, Bronwyn Heeley, Sharon L. Hig...